February 2018 Observer Today Article

Dental health important to pets

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

Every year at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic, February rolls around and we prepare for one of our busiest surgical months of the whole year, Dental Health Month. Dental health is not only important in people but in your pets as well.

Dental disease can start in pets as soon as their adult teeth emerge at 6 months of age. Signs of dental disease include odorous breath, bleeding gums when brushing or eating, swollen or red gums, build up of tartar, and loose or abscessed teeth. Your pet may exhibit very mild to more severe signs.

Symptoms might include chewing on one side of the mouth, dropping food onto the floor or in the dish when eating, swallowing pieces of food or treats whole, pawing at the mouth or rubbing the mouth on things, and drooling while eating. Excessive tartar on the teeth can harbor dangerous bacteria which can have an effect on all your pet’s organ systems. The most serious effects can be on the heart as bacteria can translocate through the bloodstream and attach to your pet’s heart valves, leading to heart disease.

What can you do as a pet owner?

Start brushing your pet’s teeth at a young age. Most veterinarians carry pet specific tooth paste and toothbrushes.

Start giving your pet dental chews on a weekly basis. Ask your veterinarian what dental chews are best for your pet.

Make sure you schedule your pet for a yearly physical examination. On examination, your veterinarian will be able to tell you if your pet is starting to show signs of dental disease.

Schedule your pet for routine dental cleanings. Based on your veterinarian’s exam, your pet may need at minimum yearly dental cleanings.

What does a dental cleaning entail at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic?

Your pet is first given a sedation and pain injection prior to the procedure. A blood sample is drawn to assure your pet is healthy to undergo the procedure. An intravenous catheter is placed and your pet is given an induction medication to put them in a full plain of anesthesia. A tracheal tube is placed to deliver oxygen and gas to your pet during the dental procedure and to protect the pet’s lungs from water used during the dental cleaning. Your pet’s heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen status, temperature, blood pressures, and carbon dioxide output are all monitored while under anesthesia.

The teeth are first hand scaled then scaled with an ultrasonic dental scaler. Each pet has their own sterilized pack of instruments used for this. Every surface of each tooth is scaled and each tooth is scaled under the gumline. The teeth are then probed and checked for any pockets or looseness to the teeth. Any dental radiographs are taken at this time and diseased teeth are extracted by our veterinarians. The gums are sutured and the remaining teeth are then polished to smooth the surface of the teeth again and slow the accumulation of tartar after the cleaning.

A dental cleaning in your pet, if done correctly, should have all of the above steps performed as this is a very time consuming and meticulous procedure! We have many success stories of dogs and cats that gain a newfound energy after having their teeth cleaned and diseased teeth pulled. Many owners do not realize the chronic pain that their pet has been in until after the dental cleaning. Your pet will be healthier and happier following this procedure!

For the month of February, many veterinarians have promotions and discounts to help owners with scheduling these procedures and to stress the importance of dental health in our pets. Call and set up an appointment today to have your pet’s teeth checked by our veterinarians today and to set up a dental health plan for your pet!

January 2018 Observer Today Article

New year, new you and your pets

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

Many people this time of year jump back on the bandwagon of diet and exercise. At the Dunkirk Animal Clinic we see many pets that are in need of a diet and exercise plan. Below, I am going to discuss ways to help your pet lose weight.

Cats can be very difficult to help lose weight and exercise. We start by highly recommending a weight loss diet if your cat is prone to being overweight.

The best weight loss foods are those sold at your veterinarian’s office that are designed specifically to be low carbohydrate and low fat. Your veterinarian can help come up with a feeding plan and food that is best for your cat.

Be sure you are specifically measuring out the proper amount for your cat. Free feeding only promotes obesity. A sedentary housecat needs only about ¢ to 1 cup of food daily to help meet their caloric needs. If your cat begs for food, measure out their allotted amount each day and only use that amount to give small meals throughout the day.

There are also many products sold online that will make your cat work for its food. Putting the food up on a cat tree requires your cat to climb to get to their food. There are also special feeding balls that you can put the cat’s allotted amount of food inside. Only a piece or two of food falls out of the ball at a time as your pet pushes the ball around. I also recommend putting your cat’s food in the opposite end of the house from where your cat sleeps. Some cats will play with toys, especially toys with catnip in them. Make a daily routine to play with your cat to get your cat moving.

If your cat remains overweight, it predisposes them to a number of health issues including joint disease, heart disease, and diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most difficult diseases we deal with in veterinary medicine. Treating diabetes requires life-long insulin injection and blood sugar readings. Diabetes significantly shortens your cat’s life, especially if they have trouble regulating their blood sugar readings.

Dogs on the other hand are very easy to exercise! Daily walks and playing with toys are much easier to do with a dog than it is to do with a cat.

Make a schedule for your overweight dog. Start with short daily walks and increase the distance you walk on a weekly basis. Don’t expect your dog to be able to walk miles right off the bat if they are overweight. If your dog is still having trouble even with short walks, you may want to see your veterinarian to determine if your dog has already developed osteoarthritis.

We also recommend a measured amount of prescription weight loss food for your dog to help them lose weight. Talk to your veterinarian about what food and amount would be best for your dog. Treats can be a huge problem when trying to make your dog lose weight.

In our office we had a poster that states if a 10-pound pet ate just 1 ounce of cheese, it is equivalent to a human eating two and 1/2 hamburgers or four full chocolate bars! This really shocked me and made me realize that owners need to really be careful how many and what treats are being given to their pets. Just like cats, overweight dogs can also be prone to osteoarthritis, heart conditions and diabetes.

Jake loves playing in the snow!

If you are having trouble exercising your pet in the winter, suggestions would include hiring a neighborhood person to walk your dog or consider taking up a winter sport like cross country skiing or snowshoeing. I am an avid snowshoer and enjoy taking my dogs with me on the trails. This is excellent exercise for me and my dogs during this time of year.

Other options would include enrolling your dog in a doggy daycare if they enjoy playing with other dogs. Just make sure you are taking them to a reputable place and that their vaccines are up to date.

Laser lights are another easy way to exercise your cat or your dog. These are inexpensive and can provide hours of entertainment! Exercise is so important for dogs. It also can eliminate many behavioral problems like destructive chewing, hyperactivity, anxiety, play biting, and attention behaviors like barking.

My Border Collie Jake has endless energy. Every day we either have to hike, snowshoe, or play fetch. If he doesn’t have his daily exercise, he will act out and take his frustrations out on the other dogs in the house.

Exercise is not only important for the body but also the brain. It helps keep me and my pets feeling good all year long!

December 2017 Observer Today Article

Saying goodbye during the holidays

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

I come into work Monday morning and look at my schedule for the day. Not one, not two, but three euthanasias for the day. Immediately my mood shifts to a sense of sadness and dread as I approach my day as a Veterinarian at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. But this time of year is Christmas! It is the time for family, friends, and holiday celebrations. It is a time for reflections of peace, joy, and giving. But in the veterinary profession it many times is not a time of joy and happiness. The holidays are one of the most common time of the year that we help owners say goodbye to their beloved pets. This is a reality that we face every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am not sure what the number one reason is that owners make this decision this time of year, but I will give you my best assumptions.

In our area we are heading into the winter season. Depression and stress during the winter months and around the holidays can lead to illnesses and our pets may be affected if we are affected. Many pets become ill this time of year and this helps in owners making that decision especially if they are a senior pet that has been ailing for some time.

This is the time of year for family. The family being together may mean that all the kids are going to be in town and it is a good time to say goodbye to that family pet. Many times I am in the room with an entire family as they gather around crying, laughing, and loving on their senior family pet. It is a privilege that I can help families as they grieve and say goodbye. Sometimes a family member may be in town that hasn’t seen that pet in some time. These family members are usually very supportive in helping their loved ones make that tough decision.

This time of year may be a time that owners are traveling. It is a reality that unfortunately it may be easier to say goodbye to that ailing pet than it is to try and arrange care for that pet. Many times these pets are on multiple medications, have special bedding, and bathroom arrangements, and this is a difficult chore to expect another outside person to care for that pet.

This is never an easy decision to make. I and every one of our staff members have had to make this difficult decision at one point or another whether it is at the holidays or another time of the year. Our patients also become part of our family. We treat each patient as if they were our own pet. Grief is a horrible thing to have to deal with and we many times hold on to that pet as long as we can out of love for that pet. I have been guilty of this as a pet owner myself. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian what quality of life your pet may have. I have this discussion on a regular basis. Pets have no concept of time like we do. Therefore, take into consideration that it is the quality of your pet’s life that is much more important than the quantity of your pet’s life. We made the decision for our senior Beagle Dutch based on the fact that he was having more bad days than good days. He was not doing what he loved doing anymore and we knew with all his health issues that it was time. It still wasn’t easy and many times it helps to have family and your veterinarian to help you in making that decision.

2016: Pugslee got a new ride!

This holiday season be thinking and praying for those that have to make this difficult decision. We have had to say goodbye already to some very special pets. One little pug in particular has been a very special pet to the staff at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. Little Pugslee was the clinic’s next door neighbor for as long as I have been at the practice. In 2012 we diagnosed Pugslee with diabetes mellitus. She wasn’t able to absorb sugar from her bloodstream and had to be placed on insulin. For many years we treated Pugslee. When she became blind we were there to help her through it. When she developed a skin infection, bronchitis, and was having trouble regulating her insulin we were there to treat her. When she lost her human father to cancer, we were there with Pugslee and her family to help them through this extremely difficult time. And we were there a few days ago, when we had to tell Pugslee’s mom that she had developed cancer of her liver. We said goodbye to Pugslee today and let her go and be with her father. We cried tears over her today and hugged her family until our tears ran dry. We will so greatly miss that feisty little pug that loved to be carried like a baby, that loved taking walks in her baby stroller, and that loved to sit in her favorite chair. We will miss her stubbornness when we had to draw her blood sometimes on a weekly basis. This time of year also be thinking and praying not only for those pet owners but for your veterinarian and the veterinary staff members that love these pets and that help in ending these special pets suffering. Although it may be hard and a very sad time of the year, I am grateful that God has given me this job. To help these pets for as long as they are with us, to help owners make hard decisions, to cry, laugh, and share memories of these special pets, and to help in sending these pets over the rainbow bridge. God Bless you and your family this Christmas season.

November 2017 – Observer Today Article

Pets we are thankful for

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

“Stella” was a starved calico- and white-spotted young female kitty that was found wandering on one of our employee’s porches. She was skin and bones and desperate for love and attention. She was brought to the clinic and immediately took a liking to Miranda, one of our veterinary technicians. Upon examination and testing, we found that Stella was carrying four different types of parasites. With medications, food, and some tender loving care, she gained weight and became a healthy loveable cat enjoying her new home with Miranda. Her favorite things to do is eat and cuddle!





“Licky” is our big black clinic cat. He gets his name because his tongue is always hanging out of his mouth. We adopted him from a dear client who was having health issues. When he came to stay with us, he weighed almost 25 pounds. He was so overweight, he would literally roll himself across our floors to get himself somewhere. He was on long-term medications for asthma and a collapsed lung lobe. He was the poster child for obesity and we were able to get him down to a weight of 13 pounds with a special prescription diet food. Unfortunately, in the last year we discovered that Licky had acquired cancer in his nasal sinus. He has undergone radiation therapy and is on lifelong medications and we will love him as long as he is with us!


“Benny” was found on our doorstop and left for dead. He was a tiny, little black and white kitten with a broken neck and a heart condition. We were able to bring him back and he became a happy and loveable kitten. He is partially paralyzed but that doesn’t stop him from getting around and living a normal cat life. He has been living with Kathy our surgical technician for the past seven years! His favorite part of the day is when his mom comes home to cuddle him. He also enjoys watching the woodchucks out his window.



“Claire” was brought to us by the Lakeshore Humane Society. She had been abused as a five-month-old puppy and had two broken legs that healed at abnormal angles without any medical care. Her front leg required amputation and she spent her recovery period in Dr. Frost’s home. She decided that this home was for her, and she hasn’t left since! She now spends her days sleeping on the couch, she cuddles between Dr. Frost and her husband at night and she enjoys walks and playing with Dr. Frost’s other dogs.




“Gilbert” was also brought to us by the Lakeshore Humane Society. He was a young Rottweiller mix puppy with a broken leg. He was left outside tied up at his previous owner’s home with no medical care for his broken leg. He received proper care and casting at our clinic and ended up going home with Alex, one of our veterinary technicians. He is a spoiled rotten baby and enjoys spending his time on the couch with his feline companions Peach and Poof. He also enjoys playing with his dog friend Karma and lying in the sun.

We are thankful for these pets that have come into our lives. We are also thankful that God has given us the talents and the means to help these pets in need of love, care, and homes! Our lives have been forever changed because of these and many more wonderful pets that come into our care in this profession. Please consider helping pets in need by donating to your local shelters!

October 2017 – Observer Today Article

Technicians are the unsung heroes of veterinary medicine

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

The week of Oct. 15-21 in the veterinary profession was dedicated to the hardworking veterinary technicians (veterinary nurses) that are truly the “unsung heroes” in the field of veterinary medicine. Celebrate with us National Veterinary Technician Week by thanking the men and women who work tirelessly day and night alongside veterinarians to help your pets.

What does a veterinary technician do? A veterinary technician fills a number of roles and positions in our profession.

They start off pet wellness appointments by taking a history, temperature, weight, heart rate, pulse, and brief exam. They help restrain many fractious and non-fractious pets for the veterinarian in the exam rooms or on the farm on a daily basis.

They help prepare pets for surgery by drawing blood, placing IV catheters, placing endotracheal tubes and proper monitoring devices, preparing your pet for surgery by performing a sterile scrub procedure, monitoring your pet under anesthesia and in the pre- and post-operative period, and sterilizing and cleaning the surgery room after surgeries.

They work in the laboratory running bloodwork, urinalyses, fecal tests, and more. They are trained to properly read these test results and share their findings with the veterinarian. They fill prescriptions and educate clients about the use and side effects of these medications.

They perform diagnostic tests like blood draws, taking radiographs, assisting with ultrasounds, and more.

They perform dental cleanings and bandage changes, groomings and pedicures.

They help other staff with cleaning the hospital and they help the receptionists with front desk jobs.

They help care for hospitalized patients on a daily basis by feeding, medicating, cleaning wounds, physical therapy, and monitoring these pets throughout the day.

They keep us veterinarians in line. They keep us organized and on track on a day-to-day basis. They know about all our patients and clients and make sure to keep us up to date on pertinent information.

They manage inventory, place orders for supplies in the hospital, and keep in contact with pharmaceutical representatives.

They are responsible for educating the public on clinic promotions, current important information in veterinary medicine, and different products available to treat your pets.

There are many more jobs that veterinary technicians are responsible for, but the most important job that a veterinary technician has is to care for and love your pets when they are in our care! Our technicians at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic have a true passion for their jobs and it shows every day in the care they provide for our patients!

They must then keep renewing their license by completing continuing education courses to continue to learn and grow in their profession. The closest veterinary technician program to our area is at Medaille College in Buffalo.

What education is required to be a veterinary technician? A veterinary technician must complete a rigorous two- or a four-year program, an internship in a veterinary clinic, and they must pass a state board test to receive their license. They can go on to complete additional courses to become a specialist in a specific field.

We have five veterinary technicians in our practice: Alex, Kathy, Cheryl, Miranda, and Nicole. Each one of these ladies is an integral part of our team and each has their own special talents and skills. Be sure to thank your veterinary technicians today as they are the heart and soul of our practice!

Check out our Facebook page for fun information and pictures as we featured each one of our technicians throughout the week of National Veterinary Technician Week!