Flea prevention

Thursday, July 30th, 2015


Although there are more than 2,200 kinds of fleas, it only takes one type to cause a lot of misery for you and your pet. Fleas are small wingless insects that live on the blood of humans and animals. This blood-sucking insect has adapted to pierce the skin of its host, appears as reddish-brown color ,sometimes black, and gets around by jumping from one place to another. Their bodies are flattened from side to side and have spines or spikes in the mouth, back and legs to stick firmly on their host, thus preventing it from getting groomed off. They also have claws on their legs adapted for travel in between hair shafts. Fleas store blood about 15 times more than their weight and they need blood two to three times per day. When someone encounters a flea infestation, it can be a bit overwhelming to try and get the situation under control. The best thing to do is deal with the problem before it becomes a pest. 

The three different medications used to deal with fleas are topical, oral, and the collar. Topical is any medication that is used by application on the skin like shampoo or a commonly used topical medicaton Frontline.

The biggest difference between the Frontline and the typical flee shampoo is, frontline is a flea preventative and killer that lasts for 30 days while the shampoo only kills on the first day of use and destroys any eggs laid for 4 weeks.

Frontline and most shampoos use S-methoprenes, a juvenile hormone which acts as a growth regulator. When an insect grows, it undergoes a process called molting, where it grows a new exoskeleton under its old one and then sheds to allow the new one to swell to a new size and harden. S-methoprenes prevent the insect from reaching maturity by interfering with the molting process. This in turn destroys infestations, because immature insects cannot reproduce, death typically occurs within 3 to 10 days.

Sentinel is an oral heart worm medication which prevents fleas from reproducing but does not kill them which differs from Nexguard. Sentinel uses lufenuron (the production of chitin in insects). Without chitin, a larval flea will never develop a hard outer shell (exoskeleton). With its inner organs exposed to air, the insect dies from dehydration soon after hatching or molting. Thus preventing and controlling flea populations by breaking the life cycle. The Lufenuron is stored in the animal’s body fat and transferred to adult fleas through the host’s blood when they feed. Adult fleas transfer it to their growing eggs through their blood, and to hatched larvae feeding on her excrement. It does not kill adult fleas.

NexGard contains a brand new ingredient not used in any other flea and tick protection. Afoxolaner, it works by absorbing rapidly into your pet’s bloodstream and causes uncontrolled activity to the flea’s central nervous system, which causes death. Afoxolaner is slowly excreted through your pet’s metabolism, which allows NexGard to continue controlling and preventing flea population for about 30 days.

Last but not least the collar which uses imidacloprid, this chemical works by interfering with the transmission of stimuli in the insect nervous system. Specifically, it causes a blockage of the neuronal pathway, due to this the receptors cannot transmit an impulse between nerves resulting in the insect’s paralysis, and eventually death. The chemical seeps through the skin can resurfaces through out the body but is strongest by the neck.No-fleas-for-dogs

Hot Situations: Heat Strokes

Friday, June 12th, 2015

During the summer we need to keep an extra close eye on our fury friends. Especially for those of us that live in the city where heat is an issue. Heat strokes are a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat, leading to many organ dysfunctions.

There are two types of hyperthermia: fever and non-fever. Fever hyperthermia results from inflammation in the body caused by things such as bacterial infection. Non-fever hyperthermia results from excessive exercise, excessive levels of thyroid hormones in the body, and lesions in the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that regulates body temperature.)

Non-fever hyperthermia can affect any breed, but is more frequent in long-haired dogs  and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs (Bull Dogs, Pugs.)
Symptoms and Types

Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
Sudden kidney failure
Rapid heart rate
Irregular heart beats
cardiopulmonary arrest
Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress
Blood-clotting disorder(s)
Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
Death of liver cells
Changes in mental status
Muscle tremors
Wobbly, uncoordinated
Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened


Excessive environmental heat and humidity (may be due to weather conditions, such as a hot day, or to being enclosed in an unventilated room, car, or grooming dryer cage)
Upper airway disease that inhibits breathing; the upper airway (also known as the upper respiratory tract) includes the nose, nasal passages, throat (pharynx), and windpipe (trachea)
Underlying disease that increases likelihood of developing hyperthermia, such as paralysis of the voice box or larynx; heart and/or blood vessel disease; nervous system and/or muscular disease; previous history of heat-related disease
Poisoning; some poisonous compounds, such as strychnine and slug and snail bait, can lead to seizures, which can cause an abnormal increase in body temperature
Anesthesia complications
Excessive exercise

Risk Factors

Previous history of heat-related disease
Age extremes (very young, very old)
Heat intolerance due to poor acclimatization to the environment (such as a heavy coated dog in a hot geographical location)
Poor heart/lung conditioning
Underlying heart/lung disease
Increased levels of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism)
Short-nosed, flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds
Thick hair coat
Dehydration, insufficient water intake, restricted access to water


Early recognition of  heat stroke symptoms is key to recovery. If it is in relation to  environmental temperature, such as weather, an enclosed room, or exercise, the first immediate step will be to attempt to lower the body temperature.

Some external cooling techniques include spraying the dog down with cool water, or immersing the dog’s entire body in cool – not cold – water; wrapping the dog in cool, wet towels, soaking the pets feet in isopropyl alcohol. Avoid dropping below normal body temperature.It is very important to avoid ice or very cold water.

Dogs that have suffered an episode of hyperthermia are prone to experiencing it again. Know how to cool your dog properly, and talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate procedures for maintaining proper body temperature and lowering it in the safest way possible.

If your dog is older, or is a brachycephalic breed that is prone to overheating, avoid taking your dog out during the hottest times of day, or leaving the dog in places that can become too hot for your dog, like a garage, sunny room, sunny yard, or car. Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for only a few minutes, as a closed car becomes dangerously hot very rapidly. Always have water accessible to your dog; on hot days you might even add ice blocks for your dog to lick.

Kennel Cough

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Infectious canine tracheobronchitis, more commonly know as Kennel Cough, is a very contagious respiratory disease exclusively related to dogs. This disease is caused by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. Kennel Cough is found throughout the world and is known to infect a high percentage of dogs. Puppies can suffer the most severe complications that can result from this disease, due to their underdeveloped immune system. Unvaccinated puppies and young dogs, or immunocompromised dogs might experience the most severe symptoms of the disease

Dry hacking cough
Watery nasal discharge
In mild cases, dogs would likely be active and eating normally. In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, inappetence, fever, lethargy and even death.


The most common cause of this disease occurs when the pet boards in an area that has a large number of dogs within the same facility.

The diagnosis for this disease is largely based upon the type of symptoms that are being presented and your dog’s history to exposure to other dogs. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. These blood tests, along with viral isolation and bacterial cultures, will be performed in order to verify individual agents that are causing the kennel cough.

Depending on the severity of the infection and the severity of the symptoms, there are two main types of treatments that can be given for Kennel Cough disease. In the most common and uncomplicated type of disease, there is generally no need for antibiotics.

If your dog is alert, but has only minor symptoms along with the recurrent cough, then it is often left alone to go through the course of the disease, just like the common cold in humans. Most of the time an anti-inflammatory agent will be given to your dog in order to reduce the severity and frequency of coughing episodes and to make the dog more comfortable. Antibiotics will be used if your dog is not eating, is running a fever, and is showing signs of severe respiratory troubles, as this may indicate pneumonia.

While your dog is recovering from the infection, allow it to breath without anything that might irritate or constrict its throat – such as collars or scarves/bandannas. For walks and outings, you can substitute the collar with a body harness.



Why Dogs Chew

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015


What Your Dog Swallows Can Harm Him – Dog Training Tips Like babies, puppies and dogs chew as a means of exploring their world. Just like infants, puppies chew as they are teething. More mature dogs chew to keep their jaws strong and teeth clean. Although chewing is normal, if your dog starts chewing on inappropriate items such as your shoes and furniture and becomes more destructive, you may have a problem.
Why Dogs Chew
First, you have to determine why your dog is chewing. Some reasons may include:
• Boredom
• As a puppy, he was not taught what he can and can’t chew
• To get attention
• Separation anxiety
• Medical problems such as nutritional deficiencies or gastrointestinal problems
How to Stop Your Dog From Chewing
First, you need to rule out any medical conditions that could potentially be contributing to your dog’s chewing. If the destructive chewing is not medical in nature, here’s some tips to curb his mis-behavior:
• Move your items. If you don’t want your dog chewing on it, move it. Keep clothing, shoes, rubber bands, and anything toxic out of your dog’s reach. Be particularly careful of electrical cords that could lead to electrocution. Basically, you need to puppy-proof your home, just like baby proofing it.
• Give your dog chew toys. If you give your dog a sock to chew on, he won’t be able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate toys. It isn’t fair to expect your dog to learn that some socks are okay to chew and others aren’t. Instead, invest in some chew toys like Nylabones®, Greenies® Smart Chew™ bones, Dental KONGs® and natural bones to keep your dog busy.Also, the Humane Society has a list of toys that are safe. For instance, you may want to avoid toys that have a squeaker in them, because your dog may destroy them trying to get to the source of the noise. Also, be careful of rawhide and beef bones that can become lodged in a dog’s throat and cause suffocation. Introduce a new toy or rotate the toys so your dog doesn’t get bored with the same old toys.
• Teach him. Initially, your dog won’t know what he can and cannot chew. It is up to you to give him the right guidance. If you see him licking or chewing an item he shouldn’t, say “No,” remove the item, and give him something that he CAN chew. Then praise him. If you’re not going to be around to watch him (particularly when he is a puppy), consider confining him in a crate or a small room with a baby gate.
• Play with your dog. Too often, dogs become mischievous because they are bored. Spend plenty of quality time with your dog and make sure he gets enough exercise.
If you get home and find something destroyed, DO NOT spank or scold your dog after the fact. He will not connect the punishment with a behavior he did hours or even minutes ago. Animals associate punishment with what they’re doing at the time they’re being corrected. Some people think their dog looks guilty and knows he did something wrong. Actually, he is responding to your angry tone of voice and may be acting submissive. Also, do not leave your dog in a crate (for more than 6 hours) to prevent chewing.
If your dog continues to display destructive chewing habits, call your Bark Busters dog trainer. We can help you STOP this behavior and any other undesirable behaviors without resorting to harsh punishments.


Service Dog

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015


Our four legged, tail wagging, friends are many things to us. To some they could be a companion and to others family, but to a select few they are a life long friend that aides them in every day tasks. Service dogs are trained to aid an individual in a situation unique to each owner. While the owner may grow to love the animal it is a working dog and others should respect it as such.
Service Dogs are utilized in a various  ways, but are commonly know for assisting the handicapped. The most iconic handicap is blindness. The service dog is so advanced in training that it aides the owner in tasks an average dog would tilt there head in confusion, like notifying declines in the path, avoiding obstacles, and following advanced commands such as left and right while being able to render and alert if the command can’t be accomplished.
Services less recognized by the public are some of the more outstanding ones. One in particular is the service given by response dogs, while knowing the owners condition, the dog can correctly react when their owner has a change in heart rate or behavior that may be signaling complications that could be related to the owners diabetic status or showing signs of an oncoming seizure. Beyond notification the dog can fetch medication or a beverage to assist. If all else fails the dog is trained to seek medical attention for their owner, after doing so the dog comforts the owner by laying beside them till help arrives.
Remember when a service dog is with their owner they are working pets and they are taking care of their owner just as you would take care of your pets.


Demodex Mites

Friday, March 20th, 2015

fayphotoAn infestation of demodex mites (demodecosis) is a common occurance in puppies.  This infestation leads to hair loss, thickened skin and secondary bacterial infections.  Demodecosis is not contagious.

Normal dogs have a small number of demodex mites living in their hair follicles.  An overgrowth of mite numbers happens in puppies whose immune systems are not yet mature and adult dogs who are immune compromised.  Puppies will typically outgrow the disease as their immune system strengthens.  If an adult dog is diagnosed with demodex mites an attempt should be made to find the cause of the underlying immune suppression. Controlling demodecosis depends upon an accurate diagnosis and treatment of the disease.  Long term demodecosis can lead to scarring of the hair follicles and permanent hair loss.

Diagnosis of demodecosis is made with a skin scrape.  We scrape down into the hair follicles and then check for the mites on a microscope.

When treating the disease we kill off the mites with a series of medicated dips (mitaban) once weekly for an average of 4-6 weeks until the skin scraps are negative.  We must also treat the secondary bacterial infections with anitbiotics.  Most dogs will regrow a normal hair coat once the mites have been controlled.

Behavior Problems in Pets

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Pets are important members of the family. A good portion of them live inside our homes and as such we have become more aware of their behavior issues- both large and small.  While behavior issues may not be a medical problem per se, we, as vets can help diagnose and treat these issues.

If your pet has developed a new behavior or if your pet has a behavior that concerns or bothers you we recommend scheduling a visit.  We will ask you to detail the problem, any surrounding circumstances and changes in the household.  Many behavior problems can be due to a medical problem.  Such as- a urinary tract infection will cause a cat to urinate on the couch, gastric reflux may cause a pet to vomit in the house, arthritis can cause a dog to bite.

Once medical causes are ruled out we will discuss behavior training and the possible use of behavior medications.  There are lots of different options to help with different behaviors.  Examples include treat balls and feliway for stressed cats, thundershirts for dogs with storm fear, distraction training for dogs with OCD, etc.

Within our practice Dr Jill Child has gained a reputation for enjoying the challenge of behavior cases.  She will gladly help solve small issues and work with owners to help manage large issues.  Severe issues sometimes require a referral to a veterinary behaviorist to set up a plan.  Once a plan is set up we will help with maintenance.

We endeavor to improve all aspects of your pet’s health and welcome your behavior questions!

Dr Jill Child

Dealing with Obesity in Cats

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

obese-cat-istock-000031410062smallFeline obesity is a serious problem that has become more common as cats have become primarily indoor.  When cats are spending more of their time outdoors they have a more active lifestyle with stalking and roaming.  Bringing cats indoors has certainly made them safer as we have taken away the risks from cars and other animals but we have also made them more sedentary.  The typical indoor cat spends their day resting with very little play time or movement around the house.  Combine this lack of activity with readily available food and we have an epidemic of feline obesity.  Feline obesity predisposes a cat to arthritis, diabetes and other diseases.

Keeping an indoor cat an appropriate weight is a challenge.  Starting when they are young we need to set up healthy habits that adjust for their indoor lifestyle. 

The first challenge to address is food.  Very few cats will keep a healthy weight when they have food set out all the time.  This practice is known as “free feeding”.  Most cats must have a measured amount of food each day given in several meals.  I prefer using both dry and canned food so if we need to make adjustments due to disease we  have already had exposure to different food types.  As most cats hit adulthood their calorie needs go down dramatically.  Many of these cats will need a low calorie food to balance their caloric needs.

The second challenge is keeping indoor cats active.  Stimulating activity is helpful not only in keeping cats a healthy weight but also the mental stimulation is good for them.  Starting as kittens, many types of cat toys should be introduced and cycled frequently to keep them interesting.  If you are tying to get an adult cat to play you should start with several types, including feather toys, scratch toys and balls.cattoys2

Adult obese pets are often difficult to entice to play. A great way to get them started are feeding toys.  These help to give the cat the enjoyment they receive from eating over a longer time as well as some physical activity.  These feeding toys come in a wide variety including balls, mazes and others.  I have seen great success when these are implemented.catfoodtoy_

Feline obesity is a very slow problem to resolve.  Even when every measure is taken it will take several years to get an obese cat down to a healthy weight.  Most cats will loose one to two pounds each year with any weight loss plan.  Prevention of feline obesity is the key to treating this disease.

Jill Child DVM

10 Tips for Safely Running with Your Dog

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

max_zoey_hands-free_leashMany people get a dog as a jogging partner and they make great ones! But before you hit the trail, here are some tips to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable workout with your best bud.

#1 – Plan Your Route

Make sure you know the route you are taking and that it is dog friendly. Also, make sure your dog is up to the difficulty and length of the trek.

#2 – In Good Health

Before you leave, make sure your dog is up to the trip. Look for signs of lameness. If your dog has been ill, get your vet’s okay first.

tell a friend cell

#3 – Tell a Friend

Let someone know where you are going, especially if it’s far away, remote, or in a bad part of town. It’s just the smart thing to do.

#4 – Treats & Water

We all know water is important. The treats are good to have in case you get in a situation where you training comes into play (especially a reactive dog), but they are also good to have on hand in case the worst happens and you get stuck out there or you can throw them to distract a loose dog you encounter.

#5 – Proper Attire

Not just for you, but your dog. Think about the weather – is it hot or cold? Does your dog need a coat or a cooling vest? What about booties to protect his feet?

#6 – Clipped Nails

Make sure your dog’s nails are trimmed up before heading out. If he catches one it can tear, which will bleed like crazy and you will end up carrying your dog back.

#7 – Proper Gear

It is very important to have collar/leash/harness in good condition. A spare leash is always a good thing to carry along. Make sure your dog can’t slip his collar – a martingale is a good choice for that reason.

#8 – Leash

Using a leash made for running will make things easier for you – lightweight and hands-free – they give you back your hands for balance, etc. Do not use a flexi-lead.

#9 – Wait after Eating

To avoid bloat, make sure you give your dog time to digest food before running. An hour is usually enough, but you should ask your vet about your dog’s specific risks and what’s good for him.

#10 – Stretching

Both you and your pup should stretch after you run. It helps prevent injury and excessive soreness.


Dog Flu 101

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Dog FluIt’s flu season, and not just for humans!  According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), Canine Influenza Virus (H3N8) or “Dog Flu” is a contagious respiratory disease that is easily transmitted through our dogs.  Because Canine Influenza Virus is a relatively new virus, most dogs have not been exposed to it before.

A small percentage of dogs can experience very serious complications such as pneumonia, just like the humans infected with influenza.

Dr. Jeff Werber is an Emmy Awarding winning veterinarian and cares for the pets of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He answered our questions about the Dog Flu and if you should be worried.

What is Dog Flu? 

Dog flu or Canine Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus (H3N8).  The “canine influenza virus” was originally an equine (horse) influenza virus that spread to dogs in 2004 and can now spread between dogs.

It is similar to the swine flu that affects humans. It’s not a new flu, but has been around for about 10 years.

Is there a risk to humans?

To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to humans. However, the CDC explains that influenza viruses are “constantly changing and it is possible for a virus to change so that it could infect humans and spread easily between humans. Such a virus could represent a pandemic influenza threat. For this reason, CDC and its partners are monitoring the H3N8 influenza virus (as well as other animal influenza viruses) very closely. In general, however, canine influenza viruses are considered to pose a low threat to humans.” As mentioned earlier, while these viruses are well established in horse and dog populations, there is no evidence of infection among humans with this virus.”

How high is the risk to dogs?

There have been outbreaks of “canine flu” since 2004. One of the vaccine companies offered free influenza testing to veterinarians. I must have sent in 25-30 swabs to be checked and had no positive results. Most respiratory cases are going to be para influenza or other bacterial infections but not the influenza virus, the “canine flu.”

How is it Spread?

Canine influenza virus can be spread to other dogs by direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions (sputum and saliva) from infected dogs, by uninfected dogs coming into contact with contaminated objects, and by moving contaminated objects or materials between infected and uninfected dogs. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not expose other dogs to the virus. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.  Some dogs are asymptomatic (show no signs of the disease) so it may difficult to take precautions.

It does seem to attack where dogs are either housed together like in boarding/kennel situation, or congregate, such as a dog park.

Is there a vaccine?

There is available a canine influenza virus vaccine, Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8, but it does not prevent the virus, rather it minimizes the severity of its impact and its spread. There are few side effects reported.

What is the treatment?

About 80% of the dogs with the flu will have a mild form of the disease characterized by cough, nasal discharge and fever that will resolve over time with appropriate therapy.  A small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease.  These dogs experience complications such as pneumonia, just like the humans infected with influenza.

If contracted, there is no specific anti-viral medication; the dog is treated with supportive care which often includes antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections. High quality nutrition and a stress free environment is also recommended. Treatment largely consists of supportive care. This helps the dog mount an immune response. In the milder form of the disease, this care may include medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains well-hydrated.

The goal is to support the body to maximize its effectiveness in fighting the virus.


If your dog exhibits respiratory symptoms, coughing, runny nose, fever, lethargy, see your veterinarian. Most likely, your dog just has a regular cold or maybe Kennel Cough. Even so, they will feel better quicker with a vet’s help.

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