What to know for animal care in this time of crisis

A word from one veterinarian about COVID-19.

1. Although there have been two dogs and one cat that have tested weak positive for SARS-Cov-2 virus particles, there is no evidence that cats and dogs can spread the virus to humans or to other pets. There is also no evidence suggesting that animals show clinical signs of illness if they happen to truly be a carrier. There was no autopsy done on the dog that passed, therefore it is unknown if the pet had any other underlying issues.

2. Veterinarians are still considered essential by the state of New York. Veterinarians have been restricted to perform only urgent/emergency care, and spays and neuters for local rescues and humane societies to prevent overpopulation. We are also doing rabies vaccines at this time. Your veterinarian will decide if your pet has an urgent or emergent need that must be seen. All other appointments which include but are not limited to routine physical exams, routine vaccines that do not pose a public health risk, nail trims, groomings, and baths, are not considered urgent or emergent.

3. Please follow the rules and regulations set in place by your veterinarian. This might include curbside only appointments. Our clinic is not allowing clients in our building at this time. Our clinic is small and it is impossible to maintain 6 feet of distancing between our staff and clients. Please read posted signs and do not enter our premises if it says not to. We are only doing this to protect you and our staff so we can continue to care for your pets.

4. Understand that many veterinarians have had to cut staff back. Please be patient as we continue to try and serve our patients needs with a smaller number of staff available.

5. Please stay home if you are not feeling well. Although pets cannot transmit the virus, they and their leashes, jackets, etc., can act as a possible fomite as this virus can live on surfaces for an undetermined amount of time. Please let us know when you make your appointment if you have had any contact with anyone with COVID-19 or if you yourself are not feeling well.

6. At this time, we are only filling one or two months of medications. We are assuring that we are keeping every medication in stock to fulfill all of our clients and patients needs.

If we do run out of medications, or if medications are on backorder, we will let you know and will hopefully be able to find an alternative for your pet. Many Veterinarians have an online store available that may also be able to fill your prescription needs.

7. Some vets are turning to telemedicine. We are offering telemedicine appointments through an app you can download on your phone called “Teletails.” Our Facebook page has more information regarding the teletails app and how you can have a telemedicine conference with me!

8. Above all stay safe, we will continue to be here for your pets as we can still work. Continue the social distancing, limit your trips to the stores, and let us know if you need anything!

The Story of Chili Dog

Dr. Frost and Chili

It was a cold February day and the end of a long work week. My husband and I both had just come home from work. In our garage sat a dark red golden retriever female dog about a year of age jumping up and down and very excited to see us.

I searched up and down the road to see if there was a trail of dog prints leading to our house from one of the neighbors’ houses. It was like she had come from nowhere. The dog very happily ran inside the door of our house and made herself at home. She had a recent spay scar, so I called every veterinarian office in our area to see if they had just spayed a young golden retriever. Not a single vet recognized the dog.

She had no tags and no microchip. I called every dog control officer and left information with our town clerk if anyone happened to call looking for their missing dog. The days went by and nobody called to claim her. We pretty much had decided at that point that this happy red dog that was just dropped in our driveway was going to stay with us.

The color of this sweet dog was the color of the chili powder that we put in our famous chili. We started calling her Chili Dog and the name stuck. Chili dog immediately became attached to me. She started acting protective of me and growled at my husband when he came near me. She started growling when anyone came close to her on the couch. Immediately we put a stop to it.

No more furniture, no more protecting me. From then on she had to stay on the floor and learn that she was not allowed to guard the furniture or guard me. We also found that whenever we would have family parties or get togethers, she would get over stimulated and sometimes would lash out at our guests. We found that we had to separate her during these get-togethers and remove her from the situations.

Many times we thought of re-homing her but each time it seemed we were able to work through her anxieties and her issues. She grew older and learned to get along wonderfully with Caden our oldest son. She was there for our next two children’s births. As the years went by, she became a better and better family dog and eventually would let the children do anything to her. She also was able to become part of our family get-togethers and children’s birthday parties again. She loved walks and accompanying us to the barn. She accepted our next two dogs Maizy and Jake as puppies with no issues.

As she approached eight years of age, we noticed she was slowing down a bit. She started having more and more difficulty on our walks.

I took her to my clinic for a workup and found that she had hip dysplasia. Her hips never fully sat properly in her hip joints causing instability, pain, and arthritis. She probably had it from birth from poor breeding. I knew it was starting to cause her pain because we would only make it part way on our hikes and she would turn around and head home when she had enough. We started her on a diet, specifically for the joints, and after two months we noticed a huge difference! She was making the entire walk again with us!

Chili Dog

Chili is now 10 years old and has become the old faithful farm dog. She will spend all day lying in the sun under our maple tree. Her face has grayed and she has been living a happy life these past couple of years. But over the past few months, I knew something was off with her.

I thought it was her hips bothering her again. I kept telling my husband I was going to start her on stronger pain medication and take her to the clinic for more testing. Then three weeks ago she collapsed. We had just finished up barn chores, and started heading inside; then I saw her. She was lying flat in the mud beside the horse trailer. I ran over to her immediately and looked at her gum color.

Her gums were a very pale pink. At that moment I knew she had started bleeding internally, most likely from an abdominal tumor. That evening our whole family headed up to my clinic to do some tests and to possibly say goodbye to Chili dog. The ultrasound showed a large mass on her spleen with a small amount of blood around the mass. Her blood work however, showed that she was not bleeding that badly; she only had a slight anemia and at the clinic she started to perk up again.

My kids and husband asked me to try and do surgery on her. Chili came home with us that night and came back with me the next morning to work. I had Chili and my family counting on me. We took her to surgery and I found the large mass in her abdomen on the head of her spleen. This mass was adhered to all the surrounding important organs including her stomach, her liver, her left kidney, and her pancreas. I started to lift the mass out and she immediately started bleeding.

I had to quickly pack off the bleeding spleen, take some calming breaths, and say some very urgent prayers to God above. I advised my staff to start a concentrated saline drip to bring her dangerously dropping pressures up.

In that moment I knew I had to take a different approach. I started tying off the vessels of the tail of the spleen and I tied off as many large vessels as I could before I had to lift the giant bleeding mass out of her abdomen. Then, very quickly, I lifted the spleen out, broke down the adhesions, put the pancreas back in place, and tied off the remaining blood vessels. Chili needed another concentrated saline bolus and we started waking her up. She was waking up very slowly and her blood pressures were still low.

Her red blood cell count showed she had dropped significantly from the surgery. Karma, Alex, our technician’s dog, was brought into the treatment area and very willingly gave us her blood for Chili. By that evening and after the blood transfusion, Chili was jumping up on the kennel door ready to go home!

The first day Chili’s body consumed all of Karma’s red blood cells. Then Chili started making her own. She has been doing wonderfully and it is like we have given her a new life. The biopsy results have come back and they were what I suspected. Hemangiosarcoma is a very aggressive cancer that we lose many Golden retrievers and other older dogs to.

She has 4 – 12 months to live before the cancer will return; but she is like a puppy again feeling so well! Losing her will be one of the toughest things my family will endure. She is the first dog to be with us as each one of our children has grown up. This red dog that God brought into our lives at the right time has made our family whole.

We will spoil her and love her as much as we can in these next few months. We will give her whatever treats and food that she wants and we will always be grateful for the time she has been with us!

April 2019 Observer Today Article By Dr. Rebekah Frost

All our animals have unique needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle

January 2019 Observer Today Article

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

The majority of the pets I treat in our clinic are cats and dogs. But on occasion, we do see a variety of exotic pets from rabbits and guinea pigs to lizards and snakes!

Surprisingly most of the illnesses I see in our exotic pets are due to what is called improper husbandry or care of that pet. Improper diet, lighting, temperature and humidity of cages can lead to a variety of health issues in our exotic pets. I am going to discuss some of the basics for proper husbandry of the most common pets I see in practice.

Rabbits. Rabbits are probably the third most common pet I see at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. I compare rabbits to a small horse. They are hind gut fermenters and have continuously growing teeth. Because of this, they constantly need to be eating fiber and roughage. Alfalfa pellets provide the fiber but not the roughage they need for a healthy gut and healthy teeth. Constant access to hay, grasses, and greens is very important for proper health. Limit fruits and also high calcium greens like spinach. During a rabbit’s shedding time, it is important to keep your rabbits brushed as they can become obstructed with their own hair as they groom themselves. As rabbits get older, the most common issue is overgrowth of their teeth. It is important to have your rabbits checked by your veterinarian on a regular basis.

Guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are similar to rabbits as they also need constant access to fiber and roughage. Hay, greens, and various vegetables are important for a guinea pigs health. Guinea pigs cannot synsethize Vitamin C, therefore they either need Vitamin C drops added to their water or constant access to Vitamin C rich vegetables like oranges and peppers.

Reptiles. Every reptile species differs in their requirements for proper cage set up. Be sure to research the proper cage substrate, the proper heat source, the proper humidity, and the proper lighting. Many reptiles need specific UVA and UVB lighting so they can properly synthesize Vitamin D for strong bones. Without this lighting or if they cannot get close enough to this lighting, then they can develop metabolic bone disease and brittle bones. When I see these lizards with metabolic bone disease, it is usually too late to help them. Some reptiles like the chameleon are very sensitive to assuring they are in the proper humidity in their enclosures. Snakes also need a constant source of water, a heat source, and proper humidity to help them with the shedding of their skin. I recommend feeding killed mice to your snakes as the rodent can actually attack and cause severe wounds to your snake. Snakes are also escape artists. Be sure they have the proper clips and something heavy on top of their cage lids so they cannot escape! Turtles and Tortoises require completely different cage set ups. Turtles are water dwelling while tortoises are land dwelling. Again be sure you are using the proper substrate. Turtles that require an aquarium need their water changed on a regular basis as they can get shell infections from swimming in their excrement filled water!

Ferrets. Ferrets require a high protein diet and are very curious and mischievous creatures. If allowed to roam your house, be sure to “ferret proof” your home. They will hoard and steal what they can and have been known to swallow things they shouldn’t! You will need to put child proof locks on all your cabinets as they will find a way to get in and explore when they can!

Chinchillas. Chinchillas are cute little furry creatures that require a lot of exercise and proper care of their coats. They need to be in a bit cooler environment and they need large cage space for proper exercise. To help maintain a normal coat, they must have regular dust baths with a special dust sold at your local pet store.

Hedgehogs. Hedgehogs require a high protein diet with various insects. They can eat fruits and berries as well, but they are prone to obesity so these should be given in limited amounts. Obese hedgehogs can be prone to fatty liver disease and heart disease so caution should be taken with the diet you are feeding your hedgehog.

Exotic pets can make great pets as long as the owner understands what is necessary for the proper care of these pets. Educate yourself, establish a relationship with the pet store owners and your veterinarian so when a problem arises you have the support you need to help keeps these pets healthy and happy!

Reason for the Season

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

“For it is in giving that we receive.” — Francis of Assisi

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” — Proverbs 11:25

The Christmas season has arrived and we are all busy with Christmas shopping and activities. Christmas is not only a time of receiving gifts, but a time of giving, a time of hope, and a time of love. We tend to forget what this season is all about.

What sort of activities can we do to help bring us back to reality and to celebrate the true reason for the season? Because I am a veterinarian, I am going to discuss some charitable ideas that are pet related that we can participate in this time of year:

1. Donate to the shelters that are harboring the pets misplaced from the California wildfires. Also consider donating to shelters of misplaced pets from the recent hurricanes Florence and Michael.

2. Donate supplies to your animal local shelters. Each shelter has their own list of needed supplies. This might include paper towels, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, towels and newspapers, food and treats, collars and leashes, kongs and toys, and more.

3. Donate your time to your local animal shelters. This might include walking the dogs, playing with the cats, volunteering at fundraising events, and helping with janitorial duties. Even just sharing facebook posts on animals that need to be adopted is a great way to volunteer your time.

4. Donate your financial resources to your local shelters, rescues, and food pantries. Dunkirk actually has a pet food pantry on Lark Street in Dunkirk. They are always taking donations of food, treats, and more!

5. Visit nursing homes with your pets. Bring Christmas gifts to the residents.

6. Offer to visit your elderly neighbors and walk or play with their pets. Bring them and their pets a gift for Christmas.

7. Attend local fundraising events for our local animal shelters. Lakeshore Humane Society offers a Picture your Pet with Santa photo shoot that helps to support their organization.

8. Raise funds on your own for your local animal shelters and rescues. This year my kids helped me tie dye bandanas that we are donating the money towards our Bigfoot fund to help stray and injured pets that need medical care.

9. Consider becoming a foster parent to pets in need. Although sometimes this is hard and the pets you foster for our local shelters may become “foster failures” as they have become in my home!

10. Last but not least, consider adopting a pet in need for the holidays. Many pets in our shelters and rescues are in need of a forever loving home. These pets are already spayed or neutered, have had their vaccines, and have gone through behavior screening to make sure that they are adoptable. Our local shelters include: Lake Shore Humane Society, Chautauqua County Humane Society , Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue, Sadies Safe Harbor, Westfield Stray Cat Rescue.

Have a wonderful holiday season from the doctors and staff at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic!


(this article appears in the Observer Today on December 16, 2018 with the title “Assist our area shelters with time, donations”)

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Licky Licky – our special clinic kitty

We are devastated to announce the passing of our very special clinic kitty Licky Licky. Licky lost his battle with cancer due to related complications.

Licky came to us in late 2014 and has been a joy to staff and clients alike. He loved to follow us around and patiently wait for butt pats or belly rubs.

Licky became best friends and partners with our other clinic kitty VooDoo. VooDoo and Licky enjoyed each other’s company grooming and snuggling all day.

Licky was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma 1.5 years ago. He stayed with our Canadian friends from University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College for 2 weeks while he underwent radiation therapy for the cancer. He lived another 1.5 years of a very happy life with us until his recent passing.

Donations can be made in his honor to the Bigfoot Fund at our clinic.