September 2017 – Observer Today Article

Owners are best caregivers for animals

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

Dutch has an electronic fence collar.

With social media readily available, many times things get blown out of proportion as more and more people comment and very easily share their opinions on certain matters. Sometimes these opinions are very emotionally driven especially when it comes to animals. As a veterinarian I try to see things from all sides and would like to state the importance of looking at the whole picture and doing your research before you write something you may regret on social media.

Just recently there has been an outcry against the Dunkirk dog holding center for stray dogs. Of course there may always be a need for updates and improvements for a center like this, but people are creating a huge uproar against the city of Dunkirk for not caring for these dogs properly.

The focus is being put in the wrong areas. Here are my suggestions when it comes to properly caring for these pets in light of these recent accusations:

1. KEEP YOUR DOGS CONTAINED: If you want a pet, you must be responsible for that pet. First of all when adopting a dog, do your research on the breed of dog. Some dogs are more prone to running away and escaping the first chance they can get. You must have some form of containment for that dog and understand what is required by local laws. Some towns require a certain height of fencing based on what breed of dog you own. Always keep your dog on a leash when walking them. This will prevent fights with other dogs and the possibility of your pet running off. We keep our dogs contained by using an invisible fence system. We have about 3 acres of land fenced and this not only allows our dogs to be with us at all times, but it gives them exercise and keeps them safe from our busy road. Keeping your pet properly contained will keep them away from your town holding centers and shelters.

2. FOLLOW YOUR COUNTY AND TOWN LAWS: In New York state, it is the law that every cat, dog, and ferret receives a Rabies vaccine every three years following the first one year booster. Each town also has its licensing laws. If you follow your town’s requirements, they then have a record of your pet on file if your pet does become lost. Also most towns in our area have a required “leash law” and you can be fined if your pet is found to be wandering off your property.

3. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS: Spaying and especially neutering your pets will take away that desire your pet has to roam and find a mate. Spaying and neutering also will alleviate many health issues like breast cancer and testicular cancer. In fact the majority of dogs that stray and that also are hit by cars are un-neutered male dogs.

4. IDENTIFY YOUR PET: Secure your dog’s license and Rabies tag to your dog’s collar or have your pet microchipped. A microchip will permanently link your pet to your name. If your pet happens to get lost, most shelters and veterinary clinics have a universal chip reader and they can release your pet immediately to you once identified.

Finally, use social media for good! If your pet is lost, there are many sites that you can post pictures of your dog that can be shared multiple times and reach many people who may help find your pet. Chautauqua Missing Pet Alert is an example on Facebookw that allows people to post lost and found pets and has very quickly reunited many owners with their lost pets before they are taken to a holding center or a shelter!

We have seen many cases where a lost pet will be driven from one county to the next, so make sure you look beyond our county in shelters and holding centers if you have a lost pet. Above all take responsibility for your pet! We are entrusted to care for our pets and the discussion above is just one part of proper pet care and ownership responsibility.

August 2017 – Observer Today Article

Designer breeds: Are they for me?

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

Golden-Doodle, Labradoodle, Pomapoo, Puggle, Schnoodle, Chorkie, Chiweenie, Pomsky, and Cockapoo: these are just a few of the up and coming “designer” dog breeds that have become so popular in our society. Many people are now jumping on the bandwagon to purchase one of these designer breeds. Owners want the personality traits of one breed mixed with the physical traits of another breed. Many of these breeds are mixed with poodles to produce a non-shedding breed. These dogs are very cute but unfortunately they are just mixed breed mutts! Keep this in the back of your mind when shopping for one of these puppies. Below are some common misconceptions about these designer breed dogs:

By purchasing a “designer” breed dog there will be less chance of health issues. Mixed breed dogs can still have underlying health issues. By crossing breeds you can sometimes compound health issues that both breeds may be predisposed to. For example, crossing a Standard Poodle with a Golden Retriever can compound common conditions like hip dysplasia or seizures. When shopping for any of these puppies, be sure to meet the parents. Get a good history on the parents and the grandparents. Have any related dogs had seizures or arthritis issues? Are the parents hip certified? If two small breed dogs are being crossed, ask for health certificates on the parents from the breeders’ veterinarian. Have the parents both had bad teeth? Do the parents have luxating knee caps? These are common conditions in small breed dogs. Do your research and pick reputable breeders. Choose breeders that will do the same health certification tests as a reputable purebred breeder would do.

By purchasing a “designer” breed dog, I am buying a hypoallergenic non- shedding dog. Unfortunately when you mix two purebred dogs, you will end up with multiple combinations in their offspring. Some puppies may have more characteristics of one parent over the other parent. I have seen many a Golden Doodle that still shed! Besides this, hypoallergenic dogs are a common misconception. The allergic component actually comes from a protein in the dog’s saliva or urine that attaches to the dander shed by your dog. Hair from your dog is not the culprit.

Because I am spending more on this “designer” breed dog it must be good quality.

Unfortunately this is just not true. Because these breeds are so popular right now, they are being over bred. They can be found in puppy mills and pet stores. The majority of these puppies are not coming from good quality purebred parents.

Am I saying not to adopt one of these puppies? I am not, as I myself own a Golden Doodle named Crazy Maizy. This dog is a huge part of our family. She is a big goofy crazy dog who is full of love and life.

Unfortunately, however, she was poorly bred. I adopted her from a friend of my parents that couldn’t handle her. At 7 years of age I diagnosed her with hip dysplasia. She is already in a lot of pain at such a young age. It is not fair to some of these dogs that these traits are being bred into them.

I will also say that your local shelter has many of these mixed breed dogs available for adoption. In fact the Lakeshore Humane society just seized quite a few “Morkies” from a local breeder that couldn’t care for them. These dogs are already spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped. At hundreds of dollars less you can find your own “designer” breed in one of these shelters. And always, if you have questions about adopting a specific dog or breed of dog, feel free to call our clinic any time for advice!

July 2017 – Observer Today Article

Helping your pets overcome anxieties

By Dr. Rebekah Frost

The Fourth of July has come and gone and with this holiday there were many discussions with pet owners and prescriptions were written in regard to one of the most common anxieties we deal with in our pets: Noise and Storm Phobias.

Many dogs suffer this time of year from anxieties due to thunderstorms and other loud noises, like fireworks. Dogs can sense a storm coming miles away. Their acute sense of hearing along with changes in barometric pressure will cause dogs with this anxiety to start panting, shaking, pacing, and trying to find a place to hide up to an hour before a storm comes through. Recommendations for dogs with this anxiety include doing everything you can to desensitize your pet to these storms and keep them comfortable.

This might include buying a nature CD with storm sounds. Start the sounds at a very low volume for short periods of time until your pet appears comfortable with the noise. Wait until another day to extend the time and increase the volume. Slowly continue increasing the volume until your pet is comfortable with the sound of a storm. Other recommendations include buying a “storm jacket” or a “thunder shirt.” These are snug shirts that hug your pet tight, putting pressure on certain pressure points, which in turn can help relax your pet and help them feel more comfortable.

Other recommendations include providing a safe, dark, and quiet place for your pet. This might be a basement room or other dark room where the noise and the flashes of lightning cannot be seen. We also recommend turning up the TV or music loud to help drown out the sound of the oncoming storm. When all else fails, we will recommend natural and/or prescription anti-anxiety meds given at least an hour prior to an oncoming storm.


The most common type of behavior issues, usually from stress or anxiety, in our feline friends is house soiling. House soiling can be inappropriate urination or defecation in your home anywhere but the litter box where they are supposed to be going!

This time of year we commonly see stray cats wandering through our neighborhoods. Even on our remote farm we have stray cats show up on occasion, only to be chased away by our very territorial female cat Popcorn. Unfortunately, these cats will come in the middle of the night and may be marking their own territory, which could include the outside of your own home and even the bushes and landscaping around your home. Your indoor cats will sense and smell these outdoor cats and this may cause stress and anxiety as they feel the pressure of these cats impinging on their own territory. This is one reason why your cats may be urinating or defecating outside of their own litter box because they are upset and they all of a sudden feel the need to be marking their own territory. Also be aware that a new pet or person in the household may cause the same reaction in your cats that do not like change!

Recommendations in these cases include deterrents to help keep the stray cats out of your yard. There are a variety of items from natural oils repellants to ultrasonic or light motion sensors to help deter the cats. I also recommend a natural relaxant for your cat that includes natural cat pheromones. Our clinic sells these pheromones in a collar, a spray, and a room plug in device. These are a natural way to help ease your feline’s anxiety. We use these products often in our clinic to help calm some of these anxious kitties when they are hospitalized with us for boarding or for surgery. Make sure you are changing your litter every day and providing a variety of substrates and litter boxes for your cats. Always have one more litter box in your home than you have cats.

Keep in mind that many cats as they age may develop an anxiety to going down stairs and into dark places. Many people keep litter boxes in the basement. As your cat gets older, if you notice house soiling starting, you may have to move the litter box upstairs to a closet or bathroom in an area that your older cat will be more comfortable using their litter box. When all else fails again, we may discuss prescription anti-anxiety medications for your cat to help with house soiling.

Above all, if you have concerns regarding any anxieties your pet may be experiencing, schedule a consultation with one of our veterinarians. We will help work with you to discuss a plan of action to help ease your stress and your pet’s stress!

May 2017 – Observer Today Article

Veterinary spinal manipulative therapy — animal chiropractic

By Justine Gugino  

Many people see a chiropractor when experiencing back pain, headaches or even when they want to maintain general wellness. However, have you considered that your pet could benefit from spinal adjustments as well? During my studies, I began to wonder; if my spinal health and general well-being could be impacted so greatly by seeing a chiropractor, could I learn this skill to help my canine patients?

So you may be thinking what is the science of chiropractic?

Animal chiropractic (veterinary spinal manipulative therapy) focuses on the preservation and health/wellness of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system. Chiropractic is the science that is centered around the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. The spine is your body’s foundation and the nervous system, including your brain, spinal cord and nerves, controls your entire body. They must work together harmoniously to improve one’s general health and their ability heal. If the systems are not functioning to their highest potential you may experience changes in digestion, heart and lung function, reproduction and most evidently musculature. When adjacent joints are in an abnormal position, called a subluxation, the nervous system and all that it controls will be negatively impacted. If these subluxations are not corrected, they can result in prolonged inappropriate stimulation of nerves. This could result in reduced function internally, musculo-skeletal dysfunction and pain.

What is spinal manipulation?

Spinal manipulation is the art of restoring full and pain free range of motion to joints and can greatly benefit an animal after they have experienced subluxations. The veterinarian will use their hands to palpate joints both statically and in motion. By doing this, they can determine where the animal is experiencing decreased motion or misaligned joints. Once identified, an adjustment can be performed. An adjustment or spinal manipulation is a gentle, specific, quick and low force thrust that will be applied at an angle specific to the different areas of motion in the spine and extremities. Only a certified animal chiropractor will understand the complexity involved in adjustments and can best assess if an animal can benefit from chiropractic care.

How do you know if your furry friend needs spinal therapy?

Many animals can benefit from this alternative therapy. If you notice that your animal has a particularly sensitive spot somewhere on their body, is walking or trotting differently and or not performing to the same ability they have previously, they may be a candidate for a chiropractic assessment. However, an animal does not need to be sick or injured to benefit from chiropractic care. Animals in good health or ones used for sporting activities are also prime candidates for chiropractic care. By maintaining your pet’s proper spinal alignment and mobility they will attain optimal function of muscles, nerves and tissues that support the joints. When the body can move freely your pet will experience improved mobility, stance and flexibility, which can evolve into improved agility, endurance and overall performance. Finally, many people have never considered that chiropractic care can also benefit their animal by boosting their immune response. It can aid in providing a healthier metabolism and a vibrant nervous system which all facilitate your animal’s natural ability to heal themselves from within. Chiropractic care can enhance the quality of your pet’s life ensuring many active and healthy years to come.

How did I get into veterinary spinal manipulative therapy?

Anyone who knows me knows that I struggled with back pain as a teenager and all throughout my schooling. It wasn’t until I met my chiropractor that I began to experience all the benefits of this therapy, most importantly having a pain-free back. Being pain free should not be a luxury, it should be the standard. After many years of riding horses and seeing what it took for them perform at the highest level, I began to understand that both small and large animals could benefit from this therapy. So, during veterinary school I began the process of researching how to become an animal chiropractor or veterinary spinal manipulative therapist. As I researched further, I noticed that this specialized profession has grown. It became apparent that one should be certified by either the College of Animal Chiropractors or American Veterinary Chiropractic Association to practice on animals. An owner should be diligent about finding a certified and respectable practitioner to work on their animal. It was surprising to find out that there are only four programs in the USA and Canada that are approved by both organizations. The courses consisted of over 200 hours of intensive study and hands on learning followed by certification testing. After much consideration, I applied to the Veterinary Chiropractic Learning Center and after five months of study I became certified by the College of Animal Chiropractors. I am very excited to be bringing this skill back to WNY.

Chiropractic care is coming soon to the Dunkirk Animal Clinic; if you are interested in finding out whether your pet could benefit from chiropractic care, keep a look out for the arrival of these services.

This article was written by Justine Gugino. She will be graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in June. Justine will be joining the staff of the Dunkirk Animal Clinic at this time as an associate veterinarian. She has a strong interest in wellness, internal and alternative medicine. She is working on an old farm house in Eden with her boyfriend Matt and her Am Staff puppy Watson. She enjoys working outside, skiing, horseback riding and spending time with family.

April 2017 – Dr. Frost’s Observer Today Article

Protect pets from their curiosity

By Dr. Rebekah Frost - OBSERVER Columnist

Dr. Frost and Chili

Happy Easter from the Dunkirk Animal Clinic! Our Easter traditions on this day include dressing up in our finest to attend an Easter Sunday church service, Easter egg hunting, and ham dinner with family to follow. Many people travel for vacation or to visit relatives. On this holiday weekend, it is important to remember our pets as we partake in the festivities.

Avoid those ham bones! Ham bones belong in one place — the garbage. Do not feed your pet ham bones. Ham bones can become lodged in your pet’s intestinal tract, can become lodged in the mouth or the back of the mouth, and can splinter and cause severe esophagus and stomach damage. We have seen a few cases of dogs getting the bone lodged around the roof of their mouth. This requires sedation, a bolt cutter, and a very expensive emergency call to remove these bones.

Be cautious with the Easter lilies — Easter lilies are beautiful and fragrant but can be deadly for our feline friends! Any part of the lily plant if ingested by your cat can cause rapid and severe kidney disease. I make sure to put any bouquets of flowers or Lily plants well out of range of our kitties. If your cat has eaten any part of the plant or flower, call your vet immediately as it may require hospitalization and detoxification.

Keep Easter grass in the Easter basket — Cats like string-like things. Some cats like to just play with strings, while others may ingest them. String like objects may resemble grass and cats will eat the grass if they have an upset stomach or a hairball. At our clinic we once removed a wad of easter grass, wire, grape vines, dental floss, and, rubber bands from one cats stomach! Any of these can cause intestinal blockage, intestinal rupture, and systemic infection.

Hide that Easter candy — Chocolate can be toxic to our pets. It contains an agent called Theobromine that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, seizures, and death. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for our pets. You may start to see symptoms if 0.7 oz/lb of milk chocolate, 0.3 oz/lb of semi sweet chocolate, or 0.1 oz/lb of baking chocolate is ingested by your pet.

Protect your pets while boarding — Many people travel during this time of year, and do not take their pets with them. It is important to do your research and make sure you are leaving your pet in very capable and trustworthy hands. Visit the boarding facility where you plan on leaving your pet. Make sure they require Rabies, Distemper combo, and Kennel Cough vaccines on all the pets in order to board. Make sure they do not let your dog out with other dogs, but that your dog has its own run. We have seen one too many dog fight wounds from doggy daycares and boarding facilities where the pets are all allowed to run together. We highly discourage this!

Protect your pets when company visits — Make sure your pet is in a safe place while company is coming and going. Many people can inadvertently let your dog or cat outside and the holidays are popular times for pets to get lost. Some pets may feel stressed in situations where many strangers are in your home. You may want to find a safe place for them to escape to like a crate or a quiet bedroom away from the commotion.

Above all, we at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic hope you have a wonderful holiday celebrating the Easter season with family and friends!