March 2017 – Dr. Frost’s Observer Today Article

Beware spring’s dangers

By Dr. Rebekah Frost - OBSERVER Columnist

Spring is officially here! With the welcome change in the weather, there are some spring dangers to be aware of with our pets. Below I will discuss how to protect your pets in the upcoming months.

1. Beware of what lies beneath — As the snow is melting, things are surfacing that could pose a risk to our pets. This might include wild animal feces, puddles of water containing harmful bacteria, animal carcasses, and more. At our clinic, springtime brings on a flood of pets with vomiting and diarrhea. I contribute this to non discretionary eating of things surfacing as the snow melts, or drinking water from puddles that can be harmful to our pets. Watch your pets closely when letting them outdoors this time of year. When cleaning up your yard, check for things that may be harmful to your pets.

2. External parasites — ticks and fleas are emerging in the outdoors and infesting our pets. Ticks love cooler temperatures and any temperature above 40 degrees they thrive. Ticks lay waiting on the tops of grasses and in woodpiles. They look to jump on your dog or cat where they will attach and start their blood meal. The most common tick we see in the clinic is the deer tick. Deer ticks can transfer Lyme disease, a bacterial disease that causes life long joint and kidney issues. Fleas are also emerging with the warming weather. Ask your veterinarian what flea and tick preventives are best for your pet.

3. Internal parasites — many parasite eggs can survive the winter and be ingested by your pet. If your pet just sniffs another pets stool, they can pick up the parasite eggs which may cause severe disease. We recommend a yearly fecal check to make sure your pet hasn’t picked up any of these parasites. Only a couple of intestinal parasites are visible to the naked eye. The rest have to be diagnosed by looking at a sample under the microscope.

4. Spay that cat! — Springtime is the start of your pets going through their heat cycles. Cats will go into heat monthly and can very quickly escape out an open door and become pregnant. Help control the pet population and protect your pets from breast cancer and uterine disease by spaying your pet.

5. Beware of wildlife — Spring is the time for the local wildlife to emerge from their winter hibernation. Many dogs will get “skunked” this time of year. Although not dangerous to your pet, the odor will stay with your pet for a long time! Porcupines also emerge this time of year. Porcupine quills are very painful and can lead to a deep infection very quickly. Protect your pets by keeping them contained and not allowing them to roam. Make sure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination. Rabies is a deadly virus contracted by a bite from an infected animal and is also a human health risk.

6. Select non-toxic plants –when gardening, select plants that are non – toxic to your pets. Any plant in the lily family is very toxic if your cat ingests any part of the plant. Do not let your pups dig in your gardens as the bulbs of daffodils and hyacinths can also be toxic.

Above all, get outside with your pet! The warm temperatures are a welcome change for your pets that have been cooped up all winter. Take your pet for a walk, take them out and play fetch, let them spend time with you while gardening and cleaning up your yards for the year to come.

February 2017 – Dr. Frost’s Observer Today Article

Kennel cough a concern

By Dr. Rebekah Frost - OBSERVER Columnist

In the past few years, our clinic has seen sporadic outbreaks of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (better known as kennel cough). We have seen these outbreaks once to twice yearly and these outbreaks have involved anywhere from 10 to 30 pets.

The protocol at our clinic when we see a coughing dog is to keep the dog confined in the owner’s car until there are no dogs in the waiting area. We then have the owners bring in the dog where we confine them to a designated room for examination. A thorough history is taken by our licensed veterinary technicians. We ask all owners if their pets go to daycare, grooming or boarding. Many times we discover these pets have been regular clients of a daycare or grooming facility and have never received any vaccinations to protect from Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease. These dogs then receive a full examination with a temperature check. The pet is sent home on medications and any area the pet has walked through is thoroughly disinfected. Any pets are withheld from the exam room for a period of 24 -48 hours.

If we have a patient that is not responding to the medications we have prescribed, then we highly recommend culturing for the causative agent and further testing with radiographs to determine if the causative agent has caused a progression from the upper respiratory symptoms to pneumonia.

Kennel Cough was once thought to only be caused by the bacterium Bordetella Bronchiseptica. This is a bacterium that is short lived in the environment and can be easily controlled by vaccination and proper disinfection techniques. But Kennel Cough can not only be caused by Bordetella, but by a multitude of viruses and bacterium, which include but are not limited to: Canine Coronavirus, Canine Adenovirus, Canine Influenza virus, Canine Herpesvirus, Canine Parainfluenza, Canine Distemper Virus, Mycoplasma bacterium, Strep Zooepidemicus, and Chlamydophila. Every one of these organisms has a different incubation period and duration of shedding from the pet into the environment.

There may be dogs that are presented to any facility that may be sub clinically shedding these organisms into the environment or to another pet and the veterinarian or groomer/boarding facility operator may be unaware of this. Therefore through direct contact with other dogs, these dogs may be transmitting any one of these organisms unbeknownst to the operator of the facility. This is why, as a boarding facility, we require all vaccines including the Distemper/hepatitits/adenovirus/ parainfluenza vaccine, Kennel Cough vaccine which includes Bordetella Bronchiseptica and sometimes Parainfluenza. We also recommend Influenza vaccine for those frequently groomed and boarded and the Kennel Cough vaccine every six months.

When we see an outbreak of kennel cough, our licensed technicians try to determine what these pets all have in common. Many times they have all been groomed or boarded at one facility in the past two weeks. To protect the identity of the facility, we never mention the name, but just let owners know that we have seen cases of kennel cough and highly recommend vaccinating and holding off on any grooming for a good couple of weeks. Our patients are our top priority as we have seen some kennel cough cases progress to more severe symptoms, especially in older patients. Unfortunately, we have seen many patients that are not regularly getting their vaccines.

Although no vaccine is 100 percent, vaccinating will lessen the outbreaks of disease and protect those healthy pets from unknown carriers. We strive to work with boarding/grooming facilities and highly recommend that these facilities also require yearly vaccines. Many of these organisms are shed into the environment and some only last a short period of time, where others may last for weeks to months. It is important to understand that kennel cough can be caused by a multitude of organisms and many times it is difficult to determine what the causative agent is. Symptoms of kennel cough include a harsh “honking” cough, a runny nose, sore throat, lack of appetite, fever, lethargy, and gagging up phlegm.

If your pet has been in contact with any other dogs in the past 7-14 days, they may have picked up one of the organisms responsible for causing Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease or Kennel Cough. We highly recommend calling your veterinarian as these symptoms can progress and lead to severe disease in your pets.

January 2017 – Dr. Frost’s Observer Today Article

Each has special gift, memory

By Dr. Rebekah Frost - OBSERVER Columnist

Dr. Frost and Chili

There are many pets that come and go in our lives and we will never forget or replace these pets. They will remain in our memories forever and I am certain that we will see these pets again. I know for a fact that when I walk through those pearly gates at the end of my life, I will have an entire farm of animals waiting for me on the other side! I was fortunate to be raised on a farm and to be raised with many different pets. Having these pets helped shape my life by giving me responsibility and teaching me a strong work ethic. These pets also provided companionship and love as I grew and went through many different stages in my life.

“Angel” was my first cat that I will never forget. She was a tortoise point Siamese kitten that we acquired when I was only three years old. She attached to me and became my constant companion.

She would snuggle under the covers with me every night, and even went to veterinary school with me. When I stayed up late studying for exams, she would head into my room and cry when it was bedtime. She lived until she was 21 and passed away from kidney failure. She was my one special cat that can never be replaced.

“Babe” was a golden palomino gaming pony that was handed down to me from my sister when she lost interest in the animals. She was a spirited horse that loved to ride. In my early teen years, I rode her almost every day over the summer with a group of friends. I would hop on her bareback and head to the back fields. With just a little movement of my body, a slight loosening of the reins and a good grip on her mane, she would take off at full speed. She loved to run and I will never forget that feeling of freedom when I rode her.

“Foxy” was a red and white Papillon dog that was given to me when my mother retired her from having puppies. She was the sweetest and most gentle little dog and was a wonderful apartment dog for the four years I was in veterinary school. She loved to ride in the car on the long trips back and forth from New York to Illinois and provided someone to talk to and care for on those long trips in the days where there were no cell phones! She eventually passed away from heart failure and I am saddened that she was never able to meet my children.

“Beauty” was a bay and white spotted saddle horse pony who was blind in one eye and had most likely been passed from home to home because of her spunk and her disability. Her blind eye never affected her on our trail rides and she really enjoyed her job and the new home she was in. She had short little legs, but was always way ahead of all the other horses with her quick little saddle gait. She was a blast to ride and I will never forget the many years of fun trail rides on her.

“Jake” is an obsessive compulsive Border Collie that I brought home as a puppy when I was nine months pregnant with my third child. His energy is never ending. He could run all day and night and play fetch for hours on end. He is attached to my hip and is the alpha dog in my home. Border Collies are special pups that need jobs and exercise. He fits in quite well with our active family. He loves running along side me when I am hiking, biking, snowshoeing and horseback riding.

“CJ” is a retired little bay Standardbred racehorse that stole my heart the minute I saw him. I tried him out one day when I was looking for a riding horse for myself. He was just a plain brown horse with a scar over his left eye. He also had a scar over his nose from growing too quickly with a tight halter on. I walked over to meet him on that day I tried him and took one look into those kind eyes and saw a little horse with huge heart. I took him on the trail ride that day and immediately bonded with him.

Because of him, I have now taken in many standardbred racehorses post racing and helped transition them to riding horses. They are an amazing breed of horse that can be used for any discipline after their racing careers. I will never forget the day that my four-year-old son Colton was only two and had wandered off while we were in the barn. I was frantically searching for him, when I looked into the pasture and Colton was petting CJ. CJ had his head dropped right to the ground letting him pet his head, and was as gentle and kind as he could be with the two-year-old toddler.

“Claire” is a feisty little three-legged Pitbull that joined our family a year ago. She was beaten and abused and came to me with two broken and abnormally-healed legs. She was thankfully surrendered to the Lakeshore Humane Society and we were able to amputate one of her very painful abnormally healed legs. She was a foster failure in our home and she is now an energetic little girl who can keep up with my other pets, even with her disability. She has survived so much and has found her perfect place in our home.

These pets all hold a special place in my heart. I feel that we lose many of them too soon, so that we can make room for more and help care for these special creatures. I have adopted and loved many pets and will continue to adopt more. There are always pets in need of homes and I feel it is important if you have the ability and the special love for animals to support the shelters and rescues and bring some of these pets into your home!

December 2016 – Dr. Frost’s Observer Today Article

Don’t forget a gift for companions at holidays

By Dr. Rebekah Frost - OBSERVER Columnist

The holidays are upon us and it is that time of year to give the perfect gift to your loved ones. In our family, this includes our many pets and family members that are pet lovers like me.

Every year at this time, I purchase a stocking of toys for our four dogs. As we unwrap our gifts on Christmas day, our dogs get to open their stocking of toys. Every toy gets destroyed and the squeakers removed in a matter of minutes, but they have so much fun doing it! We then pick up the pieces to avoid any accidental ingestion. What kind of gifts can you purchase for your pet this time of year or for the pet lover that you may know? Here is a list of some good ideas from our clinic:

1. Interactive feeders. Interactive feeders often contain a maze, or a puzzle for your pet to figure out how to get their food. Some of these games may just use a treat or two, but one advantage of using these feeders is that you get your pet to slow down while eating. When some animals eat too quickly, they can regurgitate or vomit their food back up immediately.

2. Brain games. These are similar to interactive feeders, with the end result being a treat for your pet. These games include problem solving games for the smart dog in your family.

3. Water fountains. Most cat owners know that their cat prefers water from a running faucet. There are many types of water fountains available that provide a continuous flow of fresh clean water through a filter for your pet. This encourages drinking, especially in pets that may have urinary or kidney issues.

4. Fetch machines. I have seen these advertised and am very tempted to purchase on of these for my very obsessive border collie. Jake could play fetch all day, and this takes away you the owner in the game of fetch, giving your arm a break! These machines toss the ball for the pet, and have a basket or some kind of bucket that the dog drops the ball back into.

5. Pet seat belts. These are new in the past few years and they include anything from safety harnesses and tethers, to safety booster seats for smaller dogs. Most include some kind of strap to attach to the anchors beneath your passenger seats. They keep your pet safe and can prevent unwanted injuries.

6. GPS pet tracker. These are also a newer invention and include a collar GPS tracker for your pet along with an app on your phone to monitor your pet’s whereabouts.

These are mostly used in sporting breed dogs that may be hunting or tracking dogs, but can be very beneficial especially if your pet gets lost.

7. Interactive pet video cameras. These are a great idea and include an app on your phone that allows you to see and talk to your pet and interact with them when you are not home. They even include a laser pointer that you can use to play with your pet right through your phone.

8. Pet travel accessories. There are many interesting items available on the internet from pet carriers to water bowls and collapsible feeding bowls that are convenient and easy to bring with you when traveling with your pets.

9. Outdoor enclosures/pet containment systems. Underground fencing, radio signal fencing, outdoor cat enclosures, and more. These are all great ideas to purchase for your pet or someone you know with pets as it not only keeps the pets contained, but protects the pets from dangers they may face when left to roam.

10. Pet hair vacuum. We have owned our pet hair vacuum for 12 years now. I couldn’t live without one. There are many great brands available that can handle all that pet hair on a daily basis!

11. Homemade treats or a recipe book for homemade treats. As long as your pet does not have food allergies, and is not already overweight, there are many great recipes you can make without added sugar that are healthy for your pets!

12. Pet odor candles/sprays. We sell these in our clinic, and are specially formulated to help neutralize those pet odors. We have many seasonal scents available.
13. Personalized gifts. there are many websites available that can make a variety of gifts with pictures of your pet. These might include mugs, keychains, clothing, and calendars.

14. Grooming/ boarding/veterinary gift certificates. What better gift to give the pet lover in your family. Many pets are groomed on a regular basis and also go to their veterinarian on a regular basis. Another great idea is to help start an emergency fund account for your pets or a loved ones pets. A pet owner never knows when they might face an emergency. We have gift certificates available at our clinic, stop by and pick one up today.

15. A donation to a local shelter or animal fund in honor of your pets or a loved ones pets. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to help those pets in need! At the Dunkirk Animal Clinic we have a fund called the Big Foot Fund in honor of one of our clinic cats. This fund helps stray and injured pets get the care they need. We also sell homemade cat nip toys that benefit this fund. Stop down and donate today!

Finally, we hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas from the staff at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic!

November 2016 – Dr. Frost’s Observer Today Article

Adopt a senior pet

By Dr. Rebekah Frost - OBSERVER Columnist


Princess enjoys a nap!

Princess, a happy lab, Houdini, a shaggy terrier mix, Baby, a feisty dachsund, and Halle, a sweet tiger kitty with diabetes — these are just a few names of senior pets that have been adopted by a wonderful employee of ours at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. Princess and Baby were rescue pups that both had breast cancer and allergic skin issues. Halle was not doing well in her current home. Houdini was an elderly dog adopted from a local shelter. This employee and her partner open up their homes to elderly pets and give these animals a loving home and the care that is needed in a pet’s later years. These pets did not have a chance without this couple being willing to take them in.

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. If you are looking to adopt your next pet, you may consider an older dog or cat. There are many advantages to not only adopting a shelter pet, but adopting a senior shelter pet.

1. You are saving a life! There are many shelters across our country that are so overrun with stray dogs that many have to be euthanized in order to make room for more. Older dogs and cats are usually adopted last, and many times these are the first to be euthanized in these overcrowded shelters.

2. These pets are most likely housebroken. It took me three months to housebreak each of my dogs that I had raised from puppies. When our older dog Chili just showed up in our garage one day, she made herself right at home with our family. It was a blessing to discover that she was already very well housebroken. Housebreaking takes time and commitment and a housebroken dog is definitely a plus!

3. These pets have already been through the destructive puppy phase! Senior pets are already well beyond that destructive puppy phase that leaves us with a few less shoes, destroyed furniture, and more!

4. Senior pets are often calmer and easier to handle. They might be the best choice for a senior citizen. Check with your local shelters, as many shelters have programs called seniors for seniors.

5. Adopting a shelter pet is much more affordable than adopting a puppy. These pets are already spayed or neutered, have already received a series of vaccines, and have been dewormed and flea treated.

6. You are supporting great organizations and making room for more homeless pets.

If you have made the choice to adopt a senior shelter pet, also consider a breed of dog or cat that is much less likely to get adopted. In our area, this breed of dog would be the Pit Bull or similar Bully breed. These dogs have a bad reputation, yet they make the best family pets. They are loveable, smart, easily trained, and full of fun and energy.

I made the decision to adopt a young abused Pit Bull named Claire. This three-legged puppy has brought joy and love to our home and does not let her handicap slow her down. If you own another pet or pets, we recommend a meet and greet to make sure they will get along with the pet you are considering adopting. Bully breeds have a strong urge to chew, therefore make plenty of chew toys available for them!

Cats that are less likely to be adopted are black cats or tiger cats. Black cats also have a bad reputation due solely to their color. People looking to adopt a cat in a shelter tend to be drawn more to kitties that have more color.

If you are adopting a senior pet, make sure they have been properly evaluated by a veterinarian. These senior pets may have an underlying health issue that may need to be addressed and treated. Don’t let this deter you though, you can still give these pets a wonderful quality of life for the remaining time they have on this earth. Consider adopting a pet through the Lakeshore Humane Society. They have four sweet adult Pit Bulls up for adoption at this time that are looking for their forever homes!

If you cannot open your home up to a new pet at this time, consider also donating to the Lakeshore Humane Society or sponsoring one of their elderly pets. This will help the shelter provide the care some of these pets need!