Peanut Butter Recall Affects Our Pets

The Peanut Butter Recall affects some pet food and treats as well.

I have posted some more information on Salmonella and the Recall at

For further information, I have included a list of  Resources:

Carolina Prime
Carolina Prime Pet
Grreat Choice
Happy Tails
Healthy-hide Deli-wrap
Shoppers Valu

Keeping your Pet Healthy on a Budget

dog-railroad-tracks-resizeThe economy is in gloomy and may be for years. Whether it’s the stock market falling or crazy bail outs, saving money in tough economic times is a challenge. Pet owners also feel the stress of trying to make ends meet and many may be tempted to take shortcuts with their pet’s health care. So, when and where can pet owners cut back?

Studies have repeatedly shown that a large majority of pet owners consider their pets as a family member. We spoil them with birthday parties, presents, and all manner of toys and treats to keep them happy. But, when money is tight, extra expenses need to go. Sadly, some pet owners choose to avoid veterinary visits as one means to save money. And believe it or not, others might give up their pets completely.

Knowing what you can safely do at home to lower your pet’s health care costs is a good way to insure a healthy pet and a healthy wallet. You should also know what to avoid!!

First, don’t skimp on wellness or preventive care. Vaccinations and parasite prevention are important parts of maintaining your pet’s health and yours as well. Diseases like rabies and Leptospirosis are zoonotic, meaning they can be spread between animals and people. Similarly, intestinal parasites or even fleas and ticks, are capable of transmitting serious diseases to our families.

Some owners might choose to buy vaccines online or from a pet store. While this idea sounds like a cost-saving measure, there are many risks. It is easy enough to learn how to give a shot, but can you trust that the supplier properly stored the vaccines? Vaccines are delicate biological suspensions and require constant refrigeration to be effective. Some need proper mixing in order to work correctly. Improper preparation could make the whole process worthless. Also, your pet may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine which means a costly trip to the Animal ER.

Choosing a lower cost flea product or a “do-it-yourself” dewormer at a general merchandise store is another option a pet owner might investigate to save money. Sadly, according to the Center for Public Integrity (, these over-the-counter products are likely responsible for a sharp increase in pet deaths and adverse events in recent years. The EPA has received more than 25,000 reports of over-the-counter pesticide reactions in pets since 2003. So, although you might save a few dollars on the product, the extra trip to the veterinarian will likely cost a lot more!

Over the Counter Flea Products may seem like a bargain, but many do not kill fleas and may in fact cause toxic reactions in your pet. I have had many pets come in still covered in fleas and these products were just applied. Care must also be taken not to use products labeled for dog use on cats. Permethrine products are extremely toxic to cats.

Pet emergencies shouldn’t be a place for shortcuts either. Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, an emergency veterinarian in Colorado, says many owners simply use topical antibiotics on bite wounds or lacerations in order to avoid treating the pet when initially injured. But, most of these animals end up coming into the veterinary hospital with out of control infections. Dr. Mazzaferro cautions owners against bandaging their pets without proper training. If put on too tight, homemade bandages act like tourniquets, causing swelling of the limb and serious loss of circulation. And always check with your veterinarian before giving any over the counter human medication to your pet! Many pet poisonings are caused by human medications. Tylenol is lethal to cats.

But don’t worry; you can still save on your veterinary bills with a few simple steps at home.

First, (and this sounds very simple) play with your pet! Veterinary behaviorists all agree that a tired dog is a happy dog and happy dogs don’t tear up furniture or get into trouble. Since behavior issues are the number one reason for abandoning pets, this fun task might literally save your pet’s life.

Playing with your pet has health benefits as well. A well-exercised pet is less likely to be overweight and suffer from obesity related problems such as arthritis, certain cancers, or diabetes.

Next, when exercising your pet, use appropriate restraints and confinements. Pets who roam freely are often hit by traffic, get into fights or eat something dangerous. Emergencies like these can end up hitting your wallet very hard.

Even loving your pet has money saving benefits. Dr. Phil Zeltzman, a board certified veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania, says that petting and caressing your pet can help find those little lumps and bumps sooner. Cancer is very common in our pets and can be very expensive to treat. Earlier detection generally means a better outcome and usually less expensive treatments.

Despite all of these precautions, some pets will just get into trouble or develop a serious disease. Although veterinary medicine is still a bargain compared to other health services, most of us would be hard pressed to pay a big veterinary bill out of pocket. Companies like Pets Best Insurance ( offer a variety of insurance plans to assist owners with unexpected costs. But even today only a small percentage of pet owners insure their pets’ health. (See Pet Resources for more Pet Insurance Links)
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

CareCredit is also another option. CareCredit offers a full range of payment plans to meet every financing need. With the popular No Interest Payment Plans* there are no interest charges if the balance is paid in full within the specified time period. Or, if you prefer an even lower monthly payment, you can choose the low interest, Extended Payment Plan* for treatment plans from $1,000 to over $25,000. Plus, there are no up front costs, no annual fees, and no pre-payment penalties. It’s easy to apply and you’ll receive an online decision in seconds.carecredit-026

We all want to keep our furry friends safe and healthy, but it is challenging when just feeding the family stretches your budget. Talk with our staff about your pet’s specific health needs and see what should be addressed immediately and what can wait.

Debra Garrison, DVM

Heartworms in Pets

With over 250,000 known cases across the United States, canine heartworm disease continues to plague our pets, causing emotional distress to the owners and financial worries to their pocketbooks. The saddest part of all: this disease is completely preventable.
We know what causes heartworm disease, we know how to treat it, and we even have safe, effective medications to prevent the disease. So, why are more than a quarter of a million dogs and cats still getting this terrible disease?

According to a survey recently released by the American Heartworm Society over 250,000 dogs and cats tested positive for heartworm infection nationwide in 2004. Since these cases only included dogs that routinely see the veterinarian, some estimates of the true incidence of heartworms in dogs range as high as 11 million canines infected with the parasite. Throw in coyotes and foxes and one can easily see the huge reservoir of potential cases.

Heartworms are a parasite that reside in the vessels leading from the heart to the lungs of many different mammals, but are primarily suited for life in a canine. The immature larva of the adult heartworms are taken in during feeding by mosquitoes and then spread from mosquito back to dogs after a short, 2 week maturation period in the mosquito’s stomach and salivary glands. After returning to their natural host, the heartworm larva migrate through the dog’s body over the next four to six months, growing in length until they reach the heart. Upon reaching the heart, the foot long parasite becomes sexually active, producing large numbers of larva, which, in turn, wait to be picked up by a feeding mosquito, continuing the disease cycle. Infected dogs might have as few as 5 or 6 adult worms or as many as 250!

Adult heartworms absorb nutrients from the blood stream of the dog. In an attempt to rid the body of the parasite, the dog’s immune system fights the invader, often causing collateral damage to the blood vessels and lungs. In severe cases, large numbers of heartworms can block the major vessels entering and leaving the right side of the heart, causing high blood pressure, bleeding into the lungs, kidney and liver problems, and even death. Treatment of the disease itself involves the use of an arsenic compound. Although deadly side effects with the medication have been extremely rare, many dogs succumb to blood clots in the lungs as the adult heartworms die. And the cost of treatment is also a concern. Appropriate diagnostics, medications, and re-testing of the heartworm positive dog might run as high as $500 to $1,000, depending on the size of the pet.

“Many people are just not aware of how deadly heartworms can be, especially to active pets.” says Dr. Tom Nelson, President of the American Heartworm Society. “Heartworms can live 5-7 years and the owner may not see of any of the symptoms. Many of our pets might be considered less active and these pets will not show the signs of heartworm disease until it becomes severe.”

Keeping your pet indoors will not insure that your pet will not get exposed. It only takes one mosquito getting into your house or one potty trip outside to be bitten by an infected mosquito. Even a few worms can cause severe damage to the heart, lungs and kidneys. Now even cats are presenting with heartworms and we are recommending both dogs and cats use a heartworm prevention all year round.

On a more positive note, veterinary medicine has a wide variety of options available to the pet owner for prevention of this disease. Easy to give monthly chewables are the most convenient way to prevent infection. The most commonly prescribed monthly chewable is called Heartgard. Administration of these preventives at the appropriate time intervals can virtually guarantee protection for your pet. In fact, manufacturers of heartworm preventive will stand behind their product and reimburse any medical treatments necessary should a dog develop heartworms while on their product.

Newer products, such as Revolution and Advantage-Multi, are applied on the skin and also help protect against fleas and internal parasites. New Trifexis is a chewable tablet that covers heartworms, fleas and intestinal parasites.

It is vitally important to test your dog prior to starting heartworm preventive or extreme allergic reactions could develop. Your veterinarian will draw a small amount of blood from your pet and, in many instances, you might know the test results prior to leaving the veterinarian’s office. Due to the extreme prevalence of this disease, the American Heartworm Society strongly encourages annual re-testing of all dogs.

According to Nelson, pet owners seem to be likely to switch products, with or without the knowledge of their veterinarian. This product and brand switching has the FDA concerned about a perceived lack of protection, or even potential product failure. “We need to make sure we catch this disease as early as possible, thus the strong recommendation for annual testing.” says Nelson.

Also to be considered is how society has changed in the last 20 years. As people and their pets move from the wetter regions of the Midwest and Southeast to the sunshine of southern California and Arizona, they often bring along these unwelcome parasites. Nelson says “If you have mosquitoes where you live, heartworms, even if they aren’t native to the area, will be there as well.”

Hurricane Katrina caused many heartworm positive dogs to move into all parts of the country thus accelerating the spread.

As spring time approaches, we all welcome the return of the bright sunshine, the longer days, and the blooming of nature. Just remember, the return of warmer days will mean the return of mosquitoes and the potential for heartworm disease spreading. Make sure your best friend protected! Call your veterinarian today and schedule a heartworm test. For more information, visit the American Heartworm Society at

Dr. Debra Garrison is a veterinarian at the Treaschwig Veterinary Clinic

Stem Cells May Help with Dog Arthritis

Millions of dogs suffer the aches and discomfort of arthritis. Millions more may be hurting without any obvious signs. Now, a new science, using cells derived from the pet’s own fat, may bring relief to many painful pooches.

When your pet has arthritis, you can almost feel the pain he is suffering. You watch as he struggles to rise from his bed, cringe as he slowly ascends the stairs, and you can even hear the creaks and groans as he stretches out before his morning walk.

More than 15 million dogs in North America suffer some form of degenerative joint disease, better known as arthritis. Unfortunately, many dog owners are completely unaware of the pain their pet is experiencing, chalking up the slow movement to the effects of “old age”.

(More on Arthritis in pets, Visit
Some dogs may receive daily doses of pain relievers and oral joint care supplements. Still others might find their way to physical therapy or rehabilitation. Some lucky pets even get ramps built in their homes, sparing them the need to climb the dreaded stairs!

But for some, any or all of these options are not enough to relieve the pain. Sadly, many owners decide to euthanize their faithful companion, because of the severity of the pain or the continued high cost of treatment.

But a potentially helpful treatment may be on the horizon – stem cell therapy! Vet-Stem, a company focused on bringing regenerative medicine technology to veterinarians, has developed a therapy to treat arthritis in dogs using the pet’s own fat tissue!

Stem cells are precursor cells that have the potential to develop into a variety of specialized cell types. Most people may equate this technology with the controversial use of embryonic stem cells. But this new technology uses adult stem cells derived from the fat of the pet. Since they are the pet’s own cells, there is no ethical debate!

Vet-Stem developed this technology from research and techniques used in equine medicine. Scientific and anecdotal evidence from more than 2,500 horses establishes that these fat derived stem cells are quite helpful for tendon and ligament injuries. Furthermore, no significant side effects were reported. Stem cells appear to moderate the inflammatory response and actually create a healthier healing environment in the joint.

Recently, a detailed study on the use of fat-derived stem cells in dogs showed that animals receiving the treatment demonstrated a significant improvement in lameness when compared to dogs in the control group. This news has excited scientists and pet owners alike and has many asking their veterinarians about the potential for a real world application.

According to Vet-Stem’s website (, your veterinarian can harvest a small fat sample from your pet and then send the sample priority overnight to Vet-Stem’s laboratory in San Diego, California. Technicians then process the tissue to concentrate and purify the stem cells. The cells are returned to the veterinarian, ready to be injected into your pet just 48 hours after collection. Testimonials from owners and some veterinarians seem to confirm the success seen in the initial study.

All of this seems pretty miraculous and for some pets, the results are truly nothing short of a life-saving miracle. Many veterinarians are skeptical though and would like to see more controlled studies. It is also important to note several obstacles may stand in the way of your pet’s pain relief.

First, not all pets are considered good candidates for this therapy. Since anesthesia is involved in both the harvesting step and the reintroduction of the cells, this may not be ideal for patients at increased risk for anesthetics. Additionally, according to Dr. Bob Harman, CEO of Vet-Stem, any dog with serious systemic disease, such as cancer, might not benefit from these treatments.

Next, as this therapy is only available through specially trained veterinarians, finding a credentialed doctor may take a little time. . Vet-Stem reports that more than 700 veterinarians across the US and Canada are trained, but more than 17,000 are still waiting for their opportunity.

And even though we have great feedback from owners, this is not a one shot therapy. Some pets need to return regularly for follow-up treatments. Vet-Stem scientists report that over-exertion after treatment seems to lessen the benefits of the treatment, often leading to another trip to the veterinarian.

Finally, cost will certainly come into play as owners and veterinarians discuss this option. Prices will vary among veterinarians, but in general, plan on spending at least $1500-2500 for initial treatments.

Arthritis can be painful and even debilitating in any dog. If you suspect your dog suffers from this disease, talk with your veterinarian about testing to confirm arthritis and then discuss the many treatment options. Veterinarians will recommend a multi-modal approach, combining appropriate medications, controlled exercise, weight loss, and environmental changes to make your dog’s life easier. In some cases, new technology, like stem cell therapy, might be beneficial!

Debra Garrison, DVM

Dental Disease

For many people, dealing with their pet’s bad breath is just part of pet ownership. But, unfortunately, dogs with dental disease are at a higher risk for heart disease. How can you help to make sure your pet is not one of those destined to be on heart medication?

Most of us understand the importance of good oral health for ourselves and visit our dentist at least twice a year. But only a small percentage of people would do the same thing for their pets. Studies in human dentistry and medicine have shown that there appears to be an association between heart disease and dental disease. Is this true for our pets as well?

In a recent nationwide veterinary study, more than 45,000 cases of dogs with serious dental disease were reviewed. These dogs were compared with another 45,000 dogs of similar gender, age, and breed that did not have any dental disease. Their report shows that there appears to be a strong association between the health of your pet’s mouth and the incidence of other health issues, such as heart murmurs or even infection of the lining of the heart.

Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care. A recent American Animal Hospital Association report on compliance within veterinary practices showed than less that 35% of pets who need a dental cleaning ever receive one. The reasons for this level of non-compliance are many, but often, pet owners will report that they just didn’t know their pets needed dental work or even that their pets suffered from periodontal disease.

Just as with people, periodontal disease in our pets starts the same way. It begins when food particles, saliva, and bacteria attached to the teeth produce a filmy matrix called “plaque”. If this matrix is not disrupted, “calculus” forms. More commonly known as tartar, the calculus makes the surface of the tooth rough and provides a better hold for more bacteria and helps to protect the bacteria from being dislodged. These bacteria will then infect the gums, causing a condition known as gingivitis. If not treated appropriately, gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease, destroying the bone that supports the tooth. It’s hard to believe, but there may even be an association between dirty teeth and other serious diseases. The same bacteria that cause dental disease have been found in the hearts of dogs with heart disease.

To help prevent dental problems from becoming a serious health issue, veterinarians recommend that oral health care start early. Your new puppy or kitten should become comfortable with you examining its mouth. Early training will help the pet to learn to tolerate brushing and other preventive measures and will help you recognize abnormalities. Simple awareness of the health of your pet’s mouth can help you to provide better health care for your pet. As your pet ages, a weekly check of the mouth may also help to find issues before they become dangerous. You should take time to look for plaque and tartar, especially on the large canine teeth in the front of the mouth and the big shearing teeth in the back of the mouth. Other potential areas of concern include fractured teeth, gum tissue that is overgrown or does not appear to be a healthy pink color, bleeding from the gums or any ulceration in the mouth. In addition to using your eyes, your nose can be an important tool as well. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath! If you can detect any foul odor, or if you see any problems in your pet’s mouth, your pet should be seen by your family veterinarian.

There is a great advancement you should know about. After you have done your weekly exam, you can further help to protect your pet by using a barrier sealant called OraVetTM. This product has helped to revolutionize at home dental care for pets. In less than one minute per week, your pet’s teeth can be protected and the effects of plaque and calculus can be minimized. By adhering to the surface of the teeth, OraVetTM gel actually helps to repel plaque causing bacteria. Without plaque formation, dental disease is much less likely to begin or get worse. For optimal results, see your veterinarian to have your pet’s teeth cleaned, followed by an initial application of OraVetTM applied after the dentistry. You then simply continue weekly applications with a home care kit.

You are an important part of the fight against dental disease. Working with your veterinarian, you can learn to identify potential problems earlier and help your pet lead a, healthier life. For more information on veterinary dentistry, visit

Valentine’s Gifts for Your Pet

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I have selected a few gifts that you can get for your pet.
Heart collar
I have collars, treats, toys and even a heart-shaped bed. View my Valentine’s gift ideas at

For you Humans, I have a large selection of Valentine’s gifts at

You can find everything from flowers, spa gifts, watches, jewelry, chocolates, wine, teddy bears and teddies. To get you started on your Valentine’s shopping, I have included a coupon for 15% off any purchase at

Get 12% Off Any Product at with the Coupon Code: VAL2K9!