89 Lessons I’ve learned from my puppies- the first three weeks

My husband and I acquired two little 7 week old terrier mix puppies three weeks ago. We are calling them Charlie Brown and Sally. Life hasn’t been the same, but it was a long awaited anticipated change. I was hoping for milder weather for the potty training, but maybe October’s monsoons wouldn’t have been better.

Worms happen. Mine had a good case of hookworms and roundworms. They were very potbellied and occasionally passing roundworms. 2 doses of dewormer solved that.

Potty training can be easy IF you go outside with them, every time, right after eating, and praise them. It’s quite pleasant when it is 60 or 70 degrees on a sunny afternoon, but not so much in the dark and freezing predawn morning. I actually FEED the puppies outside since they were pooping within 2 minutes of eating.   Plus is helps that they are with me at work too, and I have a helpful staff.   It takes a village…..

Crating compliments potty training and controls the puppy destruction. So far (knock on wood), they haven’t messed in their crate and they sleep 10pm to 6:30 am. They like going in their crate when they are tired. I have even seen them go into on their own when tired. It isn’t a jail. I haven’t used it for timeout.

Feeding multiple dogs has been a challenge. The 11 year old Sheltie doesn’t want to share his old man food and nipped Chuck the first week when he got too close. Now they give him a wide berth when eating. Keeping Sarge from eating the puppy food is harder, but since I watch the puppies eat, I pick it up as soon as they are finished.

Jingle bells on collars has been the greatest thing since sliced bread. I can keep track audibly of these two terrifying terriers as they race around the den, backyard, animal hospital, or the ranch by the shop. Too bad Sarge is getting very deaf and can’t hear them run up from behind.

Portable exercise pens are darn handy. At first I used them when outside, to keep them corralled, and Sarge away from their food while eating. I could track their pooping easier. Then I discovered they didn’t want to poop near where they ate, so I had to open it up. It has been great at the ranch and especially at the animal hospital so they can stretch their legs. The portable puppy playpen should come in handy over the holiday season as we visit friends and family who want to see the puppies, but don’t want these two hoodlums running loose on their carpets and around Christmas trees and packages.

Puppy proofing the house is easier said than done. Each week they find more ways to jump higher, and knock down barricades. I am saying “no” a lot when I catch them.

Puppy proofing the yard is a safety issue. I thought I had all the holes in the fence fixed, and all the plant hazards removed. Sally found a small hole one sunny afternoon when unsupervised, and I found her on the driveway, the little dickens.

Puppies need socializing to lots of people and pets. This is something I talk a lot to clients about, and it has been pretty easy since they come to work with me every day. And they travel with me on weekends. Plus most of my clients are happy to help “socialize” two adorable puppies after their visit.

Those are the big take away lessons so far. They are things I try to say to all new puppy owners, but having two of my own has really brought it literally “home.” It has been a lot of work so far, but I am in love with these two terrorizing terriers.

The next step is training to commands like sit, come, and walking on a leash.

88 Holiday Blues and Pets

Much has been written about the depression many people feel about this time of year. Most people recognize that the first Thanksgiving and Christmas after a family member has passed will be rough, filled with moments of sadness instead of joy. “Pet Parents” often consider family pets as  family members  and so  may experience similar grieving.

Some pet owners will be the newly grieving. Right now, we are experiencing the usual late fall/early winter euthanasia season. This happens around the first cold snap, for older pets with severe arthritis or house soiling problems. In mild weather, the management is tolerable, but when it is freezing outside, the burden and suffering is too great.

Some pet owners will experience depression now even though the pet passed months or years ago. Last year,  Fluffy’s stocking was put in the holiday decorations box in the attic with no thought it would be the last Christmas. Opening up that box will be hard this year, and for years to come.

For other owners, the sadness of knowing their beloved pet is declining and that this might be their last Christmas will be a cause of much sadness. For me, the toughest Christmas was the last one with my little Pekinese , a month before she passed. We knew she was failing, had a mass in her chest, and wouldn’t be with us long. I wanted to make it special for her, but she didn’t feel much joy. I am sure some families with members in hospice have a similar experience.

This year, we have new joy in our household. My granddaughter is 9 months old, and a smiles at me every time I see her. And we have 2 new little terrier mix puppies that are a delightful challenge. But at least the puppies will grow out of this “diaper” phase quicker than my granddaughter. They are coming to work every day with me for training. If you come by, ask to see the puppies! They need socialization with lots of people.


87 Thanksgiving Pet Safety

This is straight from the AVMA website.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends, but it also can carry some hazards for pets. Holiday food needs to be kept away from pets, and pet owners who travel need to either transport their pets safely or find safe accommodations for them at home. Follow these tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during the holiday.

Poison Risks
Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets: Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. And holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets.
Keep the feast on the table—not under it. Eating turkey or turkey skin – sometimes even a small amount – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest, and many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets – including onions, raisins and grapes. If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make or buy a treat that is made just for them.
No pie or other desserts for your pooch. Chocolate can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out and eat it. The artificial sweetener called xylitol – commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods – also can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.
Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.
Put the trash away where your pets can’t find it. A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).
Be careful with decorative plants. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be toxic to pets. These include amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to both dogs and cats, but the safest route is simply to keep your pets away from all plants and table decorations.
Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Precautions for Parties
If you’re hosting a party or overnight visitors, plan ahead to keep your pets safe and make the experience less stressful for everyone.
Visitors can upset your pets. Some pets are shy or excitable around new people or in crowds, and Thanksgiving often means many visitors at once and higher-than-usual noise and activity levels. If you know your dog or cat is nervous when people visit your home, put him/her in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. This will reduce the emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.
Learn about dog bite prevention.
. If any of your guests have compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, some diseases, or medications or treatments that suppress the immune system), make sure they’re aware of the pets (especially exotic pets) in your home so they can take extra precautions to protect themselves.
. If you have exotic pets, remember that some people are uncomfortable around them and that these pets may be more easily stressed by the festivities. Keep exotic pets safely away from the hubbub of the holiday.
Watch the exits. Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.
• Watch your pets around festive decorations. Special holiday displays or candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire. And pine cones, needles and other decorations can cause intestinal blockages or even perforate an animal’s intestine if eaten.

Travel Concerns
Whether you take your pets with you or leave them behind, take these precautions to safeguard them when traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday or at any other time of the year.
Your pet needs a health certificate from your veterinarian if you’re traveling across state lines or international borders, whether by air or car. Learn the requirements for any states you will visit or pass through, and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get the needed certificate within the timeframes required by those states.
Never leave pets alone in vehicles, even for a short time, regardless of the weather.
Pets should always be safely restrained in vehicles. This means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. This helps protect your pets if you brake or swerve suddenly, or get in an accident; keeps them away from potentially poisonous food or other items you are transporting; prevents them from causing dangerous distractions for the driver; and can prevent small animals from getting trapped in small spaces. Never transport your pet in the bed of a truck.
Talk with your veterinarian if you’re traveling by air and considering bringing your pet with you. Air travel can put pets at risk, especially short-nosed dogs. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you regarding your own pet’s ability to travel.
Pack for your pet as well as yourself if you’re going to travel together. In addition to your pet’s food and medications, this includes bringing medical records, information to help identify your pet if it becomes lost, first aid supplies, and other items. Refer to our Traveling with Your Pet FAQ for a more complete list.
Are you considering boarding your dog while you travel? Talk with your veterinarian to find out how best to protect your pet from canine flu and other contagious diseases, and to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines.

Food Safety
Don’t forget to protect your family and loved ones from foodborne illnesses while cooking your Thanksgiving meal. Hand washing, and safe food handling and preparation, are important to make sure your holiday is a happy one. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips for handling, thawing and cooking turkey, as well as saving your leftovers.


I chose to highlight this chore because having old, expired,  and questionable food in the refrigerator is a health hazard for humans and pets. The timing is perfect just before the holidays. I plan to tackle mine on this day. But I will be very strict on getting the discarded food immediately into the outdoor trash so no dog can scavenge and get sick.

This article is directly from the National Day Calendar website.
National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day is observed annually on November 15. Get together a soap and hot water filled bucket, disinfectant, a sponge and a garbage bag, and you are ready for the day!
The timing is perfect for this day as Thanksgiving is coming soon. We will need room for all of the upcoming leftovers. This job may be dreaded by many, but it is an important task none the less. Due to our hectic and busy lifestyles, the cleaning of the refrigerator gets neglected, hence the creation of National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. There may be a surprise or two found at the back of the shelves. Things are often pushed back as new food is put in the front and gets forgotten.
Some suggestions for your refrigeration cleaning are:
• Empty each shelf.
• Completely wipe down the inside of the refrigerator.
• Wash drawers and underneath the drawers.
• Throw away all expired food.
• Throw away any moldy food.
• Get rid of anything that you do not use.
• Vacuum condenser coils.
• Vacuum out under the refrigerator.
• Restock shelves and drawers with good food.
• Enjoy your nice, clean, organized refrigerator.


85 November is Pet Diabetes Month

Most pet owners are surprised when I tell then their overweight dog or cat is at increased for diabetes, just like a human. It never occurred to them that pets get this blood sugar disease too, but it affects 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 pets. That is why I am talking about Diabetes during Pet Diabetes Month.
Just like humans, the disease is a relative lack of insulin in the body, which is needed for the cells to take in glucose, which leads to high levels of glucose in the blood. We can see both Type 1 (insulin dependent), and Type 2 (non- insulin dependent) in pets, but most of the time by the time I diagnosis it, insulin in the only treatment. And most pets need the twice a day “shots”.

The most common symptoms that I see in practice are increased thirst and urine output, increased appetite with weight loss, or lethargy. Often the owner just thinks their cat or dog has a urinary tract infection or incontinence because they are having urine accidents in the house. Occasionally, I notice that a middle age dog has cataracts developing.
Diabetes has to be treated with insulin injections, usually twice a day, for dogs and cats. This is not fun, but most pets tolerate the tiny needles better than the owners. The other big downsides are the cost, and being tied into a set schedule which makes it challenging for boarding or pet sitters. Rarely, I have a cat that can be managed on pills, or diet alone.

Long term complications include urinary tract infections, diabetic crises of glucose too high or too low, cataracts, suppressed immune function, and slow healing. We seldom see the neuropathy and amputations that affect humans.

The best prevention for pet diabetes is maintaining a normal weight, avoiding obesity, staying active, and avoiding pancreatitis (often secondary to high fatty food). Some researchers are concerned that high carbohydrate diets could be a contributing factor, but a low carb diet is certainly part of the management while on insulin.

(This is a mostly a repeat that I wrote last November, but you might have missed it then. Diabetes hasn’t changed much in a year. )




84 Things we have found in last month’s Wellness Bloodwork Special

We have been running our annual Wellness Bloodwork Special for the 31 days of October, and we have uncovered some interesting findings in “normal” dogs and cats.

Hypothyroidism in a dog– The thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate, so low thyroid can look just like a dog getting older. They slow down and gain weight. The coat can become dull, sparse, and slow to regrow after a haircut. They seem to get more frequent infections, like skin, ear & urinary tract. Treatment is a daily tablet, and the symptoms go away. It’s like magic. Definitely improves the quality of life for the pet and the owner.

Hyperthyroidism in a cat– This high thyroid disease is common in old cats, and is the opposite of the dog low thyroid. The cats are very active, losing weight despite a great appetite, and often vocalize. They have high heart rates, and all the revving up of the metabolism isn’t good. Treatment varies from daily tablets, referral for radioactive iodine (cure!), or a special diet that is super low in iodine.

Early kidney disease– many dogs develop kidney failure as the kidneys slowly degenerate with age. Until now we only had BUN and creatinine as tests, and they only become elevated when the kidney function is less than25-30% of normal. The new SDMA test can detect much earlier function loss, so we can make good choices to manage those kidneys. There are no magic pills to regenerate kidneys though, and kidney transplants are out for most dogs. So early detection is the best we have right now.

Early heart disease– the cardiopet- Pro BNP test measures stretching in heart muscle associated with heart disease. If this test is elevated, we look more closely at the heart and try to catch problems before they become symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. With early medications, we can definitely increase the life expectancy and quality of life for dogs with congestive heart disease.

Leukemia-We had one healthy dog that we found white blood cell cancer in the blood. It really floored me.

Urinary tract infection– This dog had no symptoms despite a lot of bacteria and white blood cells in urine. Another had asymptomatic crystals.

Intestinal parasite check– one asymptomatic Giardia.

What we didn’t find this year– any Heartworm positives. I truly expected to find these.
No diabetics. YEAH!
No chronic infections with high WBC (only the leukemia boy).
No unexplained liver disease. I usually pick up 2-3 of these in October.

These are the reasons we do wellness bloodwork  (and urine & fecal checks). Just like people, we can find stuff early so we can make educated choices to improve the quality and quantity of days of our pets lives.

83 Halloween Hazards

So Halloween is less than a week away and we will be facing tricks and treats.

I usually see 3 problem areas with Halloween: ingestion of Halloween candy, behavior problems triggered by strangers ringing door bells, and costumes

Over the years I have seen dogs eat a lot of Halloween candy, wrappers and all. Don’t think that just because it’s all little fun sized individually wrapped Snickers in a bowl on the table or by the front door that Fido won’t counter surf and snag some. Or eat the whole bowl (seen it happen). Be prudent, store in closed containers out of the dog zone until the big night, and then be careful.

The biggest danger in Halloween candy is chocolate toxicity obviously, but all those wrappers can be hard to digest. According to candystore.com, the 3 most popular Halloween candy by sales in Texas are Reese’s peanut butter cups, Starburst, and Almond Joy. So chocolate is in 2 of the 3. Most dogs love peanut butter and it isn’t dangerous, but can be high in fat. I have seen some dogs with pancreatitis after eating snacks high in fat. I don’t see toxicity with most other candy, just sugar overload.

Many dogs are highly vocal and anxious when the door bell rings so Halloween is a big problem for them. For mildly agitated dogs, simply confining them far away from the door and chimes and distracting them with a loud TV show will do the trick. You might even add the calming pheromone Adaptil in a spray or plug in form. For the moderately affected dogs, some oral antianxiety medicine like trazadone might help them decrease the anxiety. For the most severely affected dogs, disabling the door bell, and doing all the above might be necessary. We certainly don’t want any Trick or Treaters bitten when we open the door to give out candy. These kids look cute, but to a dog they may look like big trouble when their job is to protect the family.

Lastly, costumes can really frighten some dogs. I remember one year I wore a bird mask with a large pointy beak and feathers. It really triggered many dogs to bark at me because it was so unfamiliar. Use caution when getting dogs and cats to wear Halloween costumes. They can be cute, but many fit poorly, limit mobility, or the pets just tear them off. I haven’t had to do GI surgery to remove a pet costume yet, but I am sure some vets have.

The AVMA website also suggests using caution with candles or jack-o-lanterns, and keeping your pet inside (especially those black cats) on the big night.

On a fun note, if your dog is well behaved in noisy crowds of people, the City of Lewisville invites them to the Halloween Bash in Wayne Ferguson Plaza  from 5-7 pm on Tuesday, Oct 30, for live music by Le Freak!

Have and fun and safe Halloween!

82 Vet News across the nation this week.

There was a lot of interesting pet related news articles this week that I wanted to share.

1.Texas A&M emergency veterinary team helping out in flood zone
The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team was deployed to Junction, Texas, to provide veterinary care for search-and-rescue dogs working in a flood. “Our goal is always to keep them safe, see problems before they happen and to be there in case of a severe injury happens,” said veterinarian Wesley Bissett, a professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
KBTX-TV (Bryan-College Station, Texas)

2. You tube how to brush dog teeth– 5 min long

3. Why do Siberian Huskies have blue eyes? It’s in the genes.

4. Which nutrional websites to trust? Here are some guidelines. http://www.tuftscatnip.com/issues/26_10/feature/Which-Nutrition-Websites-to-Trust-986-1.html?ET=tuftscatnip:e2853:2127383a:&st=email&s=p_WeeklyUpdate100118

5.  Bees went silent during last year’s  total solar eclipse
Citizen-scientists placed microphones in flower patches at 11 locations in the path of the 2017 solar eclipse and found that bees behaved normally as the light grew dim and the air cooled, but they abruptly stopped buzzing during totality. The study was published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.https://www.sciencenews.org/article/what-bees-did-during-great-american-eclipse

6. 3D-printed model improves veterinary surgery planning
Veterinarians at VCA Great Lakes Veterinary Specialists in Ohio worked with engineers at Case Western Reserve University on a 3D-printed model to prepare for surgery to mend a puppy’s severely fractured foreleg. Veterinary surgeon Andy Law said the model enabled him to correct the pup’s bone deformities with a minimum of cuts.
WEWS-TV (Cleveland) (10/10)

7. Distemper outbreak compels La. animal shelter to take action
An animal shelter in St. Landry Parish, La., had to euthanize some dogs, temporarily halt intakes and adoptions, and thoroughly disinfect the facility due to an outbreak of canine distemper. The outbreak might lead parish officials to pass new vaccination requirements, parish President Bill Fontenot said.
KADN-TV (Lafayette, La.)

81 Wellness Bloodwork Specials

It’s that time of year again when our laboratory gives us some great deals on wellness bloodwork that we pass on to you.
We have been busy drawing blood, collecting urine and feces already. So far, we have already picked up early problems in dogs and cats like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, early kidney disease (SDMA), and several with some elevated heart muscle stretching tests (cardiopet pro BNP).

We have custom packages for dogs and cats, young and old, that are quite a discount than the rest of the year. I am getting my own dog’s wellness bloodwork today! If there is something going on inside, I want to know early so I can make diet and/or life style changes so Sarge is around for many more years.

It’s easy to set up an appointment to get Fluffy or Fido’s blood samples taken. We love it when you collect the urine and poop from home. We get the results in 1-2 days, depending on the types of tests performed. And we don’t make you come in to talk about the findings! You will be a call from the veterinarian, Dr Henricks or Dr Pena, who will actually explain the results. (of course, you are always welcome to come in…)

For more information, check out BLOG  #28, from October of last year for more details.

80 Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

Can you believe all the creepy crawly bugs we are seeing after the rain and slight break in heat? We are seeing crickets, army worms, fire ants, flies, moths, etc. near our building and homes. We will soon see an increase in fleas, ticks and mosquitos, so don’t let up on your heartworm and flea prevention. We have even found fleas on some dogs coming in for boarding.

Have you heard reports that the FDA is concerned about neurological events (tremors, ataxia, or seizures) in a class of oral flea and tick medicine calls isoxazolines? This class includes Bravecto, Nexgard, Simparica and the new Credelio. None of the products is being recalled or withdrawn from market, but there have been reports of adverse events now the products have been out for a few years. Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital, we haven’t seen these side effects, but we urge clients with concerns to check out the FDA statement to the manufacturers to add additional warnings to their labels. We will continue to sell oral flea and tick medications because they are so very effective and safe, we use them on our own pets, but we will follow this closely. Link to FDA statement

A large study by Idexx, our laboratory, shows a relationship between tick-borne diseases (like Lymes and Ehrilichia) and kidney disease. When they searched their data, if a pet had been positive for Lymes or Ehrlichia they had up to a 300% increase risk for kidney value elevations, years later. Many of the early signs of kidney disease are very subtle like an increase in water consumption, increased urine output, or a slight decrease in appetite. With blood tests like BUN, Creatinine, and new SDMA, we can detect kidney disease is the early stages, and have time to make some lifestyle and diet changes to manage those nephrons and increase life expectancy.