100 My Grass Fed Beef

Many of my clients know that my husband and I have a small ranch in East Texas with cows and bees. I know have much honey yet, but we will be “graduating” 3 black Brangus steers to the freezer in late spring. We don’t sell individual cuts of meat, but we do sell “half a cow”, or 2 families may split “half a cow”. These two year old steers were born on own ranch, grass fed on pastures that haven’t had any herbicides or pesticides in over 20 years (as long as the previous owner was managing it). They have been vaccinated and deworm by me personally, and we have not used hormone injections. They will be fattened up on spring hay by graduation day, but they look pretty good right now.

We are taking orders now for interested families. When the “graduation” day comes, we haul the steer to a processing facility in Sulphur Springs, and the butcher turns him into steaks, roasts, and hamburger. Some people even want the liver, tail, tongue, etc. After a few days of cold aging, the thickly sealed packaged up portions are ready to pick up. Typical cow weight has been #1000-1300, “dressed out” 60% to #600-700 of meat. So “half a cow” is #300 -#350. We are asking $6 a pound, and you pick up the meat. You will need a BIG FREEZER to store #300 of beef, but it will last you a long time since it is properly packaged. We are still eating some hamburger from my husband’s favorite cow that never got pregnant, and she graduated 24 months ago.

If you have never had grass fed beef, the fat looks different than feed lot beef. The fat is slightly yellow from grass pigments, not snowy white from GMO corn. You can’t see the lack or hormones or chemical residues, and you can’t taste it, but they aren’t there.

Some people wonder how I can raise an animal for food. That’s what they are raised for, but we do it so they have a have a wonderful cow life, and one bad day. And they taste great!


99 Puppy Kindergarten

Well it’s time I got my puppies into Kindergarten. Puppy kindergarten, that is. Just like children go to school, so can puppies. The trick if finding a good fit.

Current behavior literature suggests puppy training begins with socialization at 7-16 weeks, because they are more open to new things and do learn faster. Our previous recommendation was to wait until 6 months to start because they had a longer attention span. These classes are more than just play time, just like kindergarten is more than playing.

I am going to take one of my puppies to a local trainer, Anne O’Neil. I have taken my Sheltie, Sarge, to her for his Good Manners Class, an Agility Class, and a Sniff and Search Class over the years. My puppy goal is to nail down sitting and coming when called, even when distracted. I also hope we learn how to walk on a leash without pulling and master the “leave it “ command. Basic stuff. I know the class will be based on positive reinforcement, no punishment. And it will be a great bonding time!

I have been working on the puppy socialization stuff at work, but even I need help. I am not too proud to need professional assistance, and the unique opportunities a group class opens. Kind of like a home schooled child still needs to go on group outings.

The classes are usually in Highland Village, and usually weekly. She also does in home training, which is better for some dogs (like private tutoring). Her next round of puppy classes starts Feb 26, 2019.

For more information on Puppy Kindergarten:
For other classes and website home page: http://www.specialtypettraining.com/

#98 Hills canned food recall due to high Vitamin D

We have looked through our canned food, and initially Feb 1 found none from the recalled lots. We looked again Feb 4 and found 2 lonely cans way in the back from the recalled lots. This does not affect any dry food, or any feline diets (canned or dry).

Here is Hill’s letter:
“Hill’s® Pet Nutrition has voluntarily recalled select canned dog food products due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. The official Hill’s announcement and a list of affected food can be found here.

Consumer inquiries can be directed to Hill’s Consumer Affairs at contactus@hillspet.com or (800) 445-5777.

As always, your clients can contact us directly regarding their concerns. Due to the high call volume associated with this voluntary recall, we’ve provided information on vetsource.com where clients can find out what to do if their pet has consumed the affected products. This also gives them the opportunity to request a refund.”

So what is high Vitamin D, and why is it bad? What are the symptoms? Have we seen any cases? Have we heard of any sick dogs?

Vitamin D is a necessary fat soluble vitamin, so excessive amounts can build up the body over time unlike water soluable vitamins like Vitamin C. Many humans have low Vitamin D levels and take seasonally (winter), or year-round if they don’t get enough sunlight. But too much is bad for you or your pet’s body. Vitamin D toxicity can cause elevated blood calcium and phosphorous, which can cause kidney damage, showing symptoms of increased thirst and urination.

Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital we haven’t seen any dogs with high calcium lately. Some vets on my online vet forums are wondering if some cases of high calcium might be due to the diet, but no one has confirmed any illnesses directly from the diet, yet.

Blue Buffalo had a similar recall last fall for the same problem, high Vitamin D. Some of us are wondering if all the pet food people get their Vitamin D from the same suppliers.

If your dog did eat canned food with high Vitamin D, and isn’t symptomatic, we believe that merely stopping that diet, and feeding one with normal Vitamin D will allow the body to clear any excessive levels over time. Bloodwork does not need to be run on dogs without symptoms.

More as this story develops.

97 Your pet might need a teeth cleaning – Jan 31, 2019

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, again.

In the great tradition of Jeff Foxworthy, let’s play …… “Your pet might need a teeth cleaning”
1. If your dog’s mouth smells worse than his butt…
2. If you smell your dog before you see him…
3. If your dog pants in your face and your eyes water…
4. If you have to feed canned food because she can’t eat kibble anymore….
5. If his pillow is wet in the morning from drool…
6. If the edges of the sofa are stained with blood from her rubbing her mouth on it…
7. If she flinches when you pet her face…
8. And last – If you have to chew your pets food for him…

Actually, these are examples of oral and gum disease gone WAY past needing a “just a cleaning. “

Let us help BEFORE it gets that bad.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital, we offer 15% off dental cleaning procedures during February. All animals will have pre-anesthetic bloodwork, be fully anesthetized, monitored, and on fluids during the ~30-45 minute procedure. The entire mouth will be fully examined, probed, cleaned, polished & fluoride treatment applied. If we find problems like teeth that need extractions or oral masses, you will get a phone call with a plan. It is a “day” anesthetic procedure, and they don’t stay overnight. We don’t perform dental radiographs, but if they are indicated, we will refer your pet to the local veterinary board certified dentist.

Test Yourself!
How much do you know about your pet’s dental health? Take this quiz to find out.

For more information:
Periodontal youtube video by AVMA

96 Cold Weather Tips

It feels like winter has finally arrived, and is not leaving.  I am especially aware of it this year with my two 4 month old puppies. 

Sweater weather.  Some dog do need some extra insulation when it is really cold.  Other dogs seem to love it and are friskier.  My Sheltie is one of those cold loving breeds, but he was bred for it with a snow proof coat.  My new short coated terrier/doxie  mix needs a sweater, or a at least a towel wrapped around him when I carry him outside.  He really shivers and won’t spend more than a few seconds outside.   I see numerous small patients that are just more comfortable during the winter wearing a sweater even inside.  So look at your dog after being outside in the cold or rain and dress him appropriately.

Activity.  Few of us want to play outside when it is cold, wet, or super windy like it was this week. Too much indoor inactivity makes us all a little crazy.   In people we call it cabin fever.  Indoor dogs can get it too.  My puppies manifest it by acting out, zooming around more inside, and generally being naughty for attention.  I am trying to counteract that with lots more indoor play, interactive toys, and allowing them to just zoom around.  I used a laser pen for my Sheltie years ago.  It is important to match the play with the dog’s interests.  Ball chasing is great for Labradors, but my terriers want to bite and shake stuff.  Food puzzles are great if your dog is food motivated, and not overweight. Many of my clients are still going to dog parks, they just pick the right day and time for comfort.

Frozen water.  Make sure any drinking water outside doesn’t freeze or your pet can get dehydrated.  Insulate any outdoor dog houses.  Most dogs can tolerate a light freeze if they can get out of the wind and rain, off the ground, and can cocoon themselves in some material like hay or blankets.

Antifreeze/deicing compounds.  It is true that antifreeze can taste sweet and attract dogs and cats to lick it.  Avoid yellowish puddles in streets and driveways.  Be careful applying deicing products (rock salt, “ice melt”) on driveways and porches as the chemicals can burn sensitive bare feet.  There are pet safe deicing products available.

Emergency kit in the car.  It is always a good idea to have an extra leash, blanket and some water for pets.  You never know when the car won’t start, slips off the road, or you might be stranded somewhere. 


95 The Truth about Pet Insurance

One in three pets will need unexpected veterinary care each year. Wouldn’t it be great if there were Pet Health Insurance?

There really is a pet insurance industry, and it works much more efficiently than human health insurance. I think of it more like car insurance or property insurance. You enroll online; no exam need, pick a plan and deductible, and pay a monthly fee. Most plans reimburse at 80-90%, after a deductible. This switches pet medical expenses to a planned monthly budget item.

We all know that veterinary expenses can add up, especially if your pet has an emergency (like gets into rat poison or in a dog fight), or even a chronic problem (like skin allergies, frequent ear infections or thyroid problems), or gets cancer. No company covers preexisting conditions. So I usually suggest signing up when the pets are puppies or kittens. I just looked up the price for my little terrier puppy on Pet Plan, and it was about $30/month. So the insurance pays off if I have a vet bills over $360 after my deductible (not including routine vaccination or heartworm prevention on most plans).

As a veterinarian, I don’t get a commission on recommending pet insurance. The reason I recommend it because those insured pets usually get better care in the long run because the cost isn’t as big an issue. Our staff members have carried pet insurance before, and one nurse used it to have her beloved pit bull treated TWICE for two cancers with expensive radiation & new chemotherapy. She used Pets Best, so I have recommended that company for years.

AAHA has recently partnered with a different pet insurance company called Pet Plan. They have done their research, and picked this company. They cover injuries and illnesses, hereditary and chronic conditions, prescription medications, specialist treatments, imaging (x-rays, MRI, CT scan and ultrasound), and even alternative therapies. Reimbursement is as easy as submitting their claim form on your smartphone. You choose your maximum annual coverage (2500 to unlimited), your deductible (from $100 to $2500), and your reimbursement (70%, 80%, or 90%). You can go online to GoPetplan.com/AAHA to get a free quote, and get a 10% discount using the promo code “AAHA”.

Ask yourself:
1) Would it be comforting to know I have help managing my veterinary costs?
2) Could I handle an expensive veterinary bill without some financial cushion?
3) Would I pay almost any amount to care for my pet?

I suggest checking out several insurance providers before selecting a plan. PetPlan, Pets Best, ASPCA Pet Health, Nationwide, Trupanion are the ones I have seen my clients use.

You can decide for yourself it pet insurance makes sense (and saves you cents in the long run) or gives you peace of mind.

94 New Signage for 2019

Well it has taken a while to get the new sign up, but it was worth it. It all began about two years ago when I decided to redo my logo. I used an online company called 99 Designs to create a new logo to be put on business cards, websites, letterheads and a new sign. It was a fun creative process where you state your preferences, and dozens of global graphic designers submit graphic ideas to you. Over a few weeks, you narrow it down, keep tweaking it, and commit to a final design. I remember I wanted it to be simple, easy to read at 30 mph, convey the species we see, reflect the “garden” in the name, and have 2 colors. You see the winning design.

We began using the graphics on business cards and websites, then this blog, but the sign was the last project. I held off getting a new sign waiting on construction next door, at The Beehive Assisted Living/Memory care facility, thinking I would piggy back on their look. But the Beehive never built out the front, just a structure way in the back.

This is actually the 3rd sign at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital. The first was a rectangle, dark blue, with our name in clear plastic, lit from inside. But it was hit by a car, and was replaced 20 years ago with the one we had until this week.

You may notice we kept the same frame shape, which reflects the cupula shape of our front exam room roofline. The new LED lights inside illuminate it nicely after dark. I think Sigma Signs in Highland Village did a nice job for us. Let me know what you think!

93 RIP Spotticus

We had to euthanize our 25 year old leopard gecko today. He has been plagued by abscessing hemipenes the last year or so, and this last time it spread to a cellulitis of his entire cloaca region. Despite our best efforts and husbandry, he got much worse and lost over 20% of his body weight.

Having an older reptile here has been a great teaching tool for the staff and clients on basic reptile husbandry. He was a local celebrity for many children who came through. He was “gifted” to us by a client in 2012, but she had had him since 1993! He was 25 years old. He is survived by his latest “wife” Dotticus.

RIP Spotticus 4/1/1993-1/3/2019

92 Year in Review

2018 was a fantastic year for me personally and professionally.

My first grandchild was born in February, a darling little girl named Evangeline. Her mom, my daughter, lives in Flower Mound and I get to see her every week. She makes me smile just thinking about her.

My son got married in June, and in set to graduate from UTD in May with a degree in Electrical Engineering. His wife just got her degree in Medical Engineering. Geeks need love too. I truly love his wife and her family.

My daughter- in-law and husband have moved into a home in Frisco, and she has been successful with her abstract art paintings.

Our “ranch” increased the herd with 2 more calves this year (up to 11), with 4 more expected next year. My bee hives survive, but didn’t thrive between the summer drought and fall record rains.

Our Highland Lake Lodge rental home is mostly renovated, and has had actual paying “guests” several times this year. Like any older home, there will always be projects.

But the latest news is the 2 terrier puppies that we got in November, Charlie Brown and Sally. The little terrors are now 12 weeks old and full of rowdy playfulness 12 hours a day. I have seen the sun rise many times in the last month while working on the potty training thing. They come to work with me, so I can stay on top of their training and socialization.

Professionally, Garden Ridge Animal Hospital celebrated 28 years in business. We passed our triannual AAHA inspection in July. We have had some staff changes, but we have a great staff now. Dr Pena continues to work every Friday. Monica is still the groomer, but also working some up front. We have ordered a new sign with the new logo. And the blog now has over 90 articles.

Life is good.

91 Santa’s ELVES Certified

As a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and USDA accredited vet to write health certificates, I am signed up to be an official “Santa’s E.L.V.E.S.” (Emergency Landing and Veterinary Expert System).

Many of you know that I treat exotic pets, and some done some cattle work, but I have also had a “crash course” on reindeer medicine. Larissa, our new head nurse, and Kayla up front both have worked in mixed animal practice before with cattle. In the event that Santa’s reindeer team needs to make an unscheduled Christmas Eve stop for sled repairs, refueling, or veterinary care, staff at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital will be available to provide needed assistance and ensure a safe and on-time delivery of Santa’s cargo.

Our new illuminated sign will be in soon, maybe in time for Santa to find us easily.

Just like you and your pets, Santa’s reindeer need to be examined and issued health certificates in order to travel between U.S. states or across national borders. Thankfully, they’ve never had a problem being certified for flight, due in good measure to the regular examinations and preventive veterinary care they receive from AVMA’s president to keep them healthy.
AVMA’s current president, Dr. John de Jong, examined the reindeer shortly before their 2018 Christmas flight to make sure their paperwork was up to date and that they were all healthy enough to fly. And … good news! All the reindeer have received full “RTF” (“Ready To Fly”) status, so be prepared to hear on your roof “The prancing and pawing of each little hoof!”
To learn more about Santa’s reindeer, visit AVMA.org/Santa

To find the answers that kids ask about Santa’s Reindeer-