Halloween has become a holiday to celebrate not only with your children and friends but with your pets, as well. Many owners look forward to dressing up their pets and greeting trick-or-treaters at the front door with their four-legged family members right there to help.
To keep your pets as safe as possible this spooky season, there are a few things you should keep in mind, whether you plan to include your pets in your Halloween celebrations or allow them to wait out the festivities in their own space. Dr. Jennifer Coval, one of Countryside’s small animal practitioners, has few tips to help you keep Halloween safe and festive when you have pets to consider.
Unfettered access to tasty treats is so much fun one day a year — for humans, that is. When pets get into candy, the health risks can be significant. Chocolate is the main concern as it can cause fatal complications for dogs, Coval says. The smaller the dog, the more dangerous chocolate consumption can be. She recommends purchasing treats made from milk chocolate if there are going to be pets around. Milk chocolate is still not safe to feed to pets, but the theobromine levels are lower than, say, baking chocolate, so if your dog does happen to ingest it, the effects won’t be as severe, she explains.
So, how should you react if you do happen upon a bunch of chewed-up chocolate wrappers? Chocolate causes a dog’s heart rate to increase, Coval says, and she cautions owners to watch their pets for vomiting or diarrhea if they suspect chocolate has been consumed. These factors, along with agitation or over-excited behavior are reason enough to get your dog to an emergency clinic, she says.
On that note, it’s a great idea to always have the number of the nearest emergency facility handy or to determine whether your small animal vet has an after-hours practitioner on call.
Another substance that can cause issues for dogs is xylitol, the plant extract in most chewing gum, Coval says. There’s a significant danger of toxicity for dogs, so call the vet if you suspect your dog has gotten into gum in the Halloween candy basket. Also, sugar in general isn’t great for cats or dogs, Coval says, so to prevent an abrupt end to a fun evening, just make sure that candy container is well out of all pets’ reach.
People love to get into the Halloween spirit, and doing so often requires low lighting. What could be more perfect to achieve that effect than a few lit candles throughout the house?
This practice sometimes doesn’t mix well with pets, though, Coval says. If you’re going to light candles, make sure to supervise your cat or dog around them. A swishing tail and an upended candle could mean injury from a hot flame or wax, and your property could be seriously damaged.
Costumes and the front door
If you choose to dress your pet up to celebrate the holiday, choose a getup that’s appropriate for the individual, Coval advises.
“I think most are probably fine,” she says.
At the same time, you’ll need to make sure that the costume is comfortable for your dog or cat and that they can easily walk around in it or use the bathroom.
If you’re going to let your pet roam the house while you’re answering the door for trick-or-treaters, it’s important to know their personality, Coval says. If they become agitated around new people, or if the front door gets them overly excited every time it rings, it may be a good idea to let them relax in their own space, whether that’s a back room where they can safely be alone or a kennel out of earshot of what’s happening at the entrance to the house.
Also, consider how much of a risk excessively opening and closing the front door poses for your pet, Coval says. If they are prone to trying to escape, this may be the time to draw the line and have them wait safely for you until the festivities are over. This is also a good time of year to make sure your pet is microchipped, she says. Most veterinarians can install the chips, and it’s a quick and relatively painless procedure. A lot of clinics, including Countryside, have chip readers, so the cost of this procedure — usually around $50 — makes the peace of mind worth it if your pet does happen to escape the safe confines of your home.
Halloween can be a time for you and your pet to bond as you welcome trick-or-treaters at the front door. Taking a few precautions ahead of time can help you avoid any mishaps with your dog or cat and ensure that this holiday stays a fun memory when it’s over.
Post by Liz Crumbly
Most owners consider their canines to be much more than companions, and to many people, these four-legged sources of joy and comfort are a part of the family. September is Responsible Dog Ownership month, and the designation gives owners a chance to reflect on the environment and resources they’re providing for their pets and make adjustments if necessary.
Dr. Jennifer Coval, a small animal provider with Countryside Veterinary Services, has a few key pieces of advice that can make a world of difference in your dog’s wellbeing.
Tip #1: Give Them Their Space
While most owners love sharing space with their pets, it’s important to make sure dogs have their own designated area, especially at certain times, Coval explains. Using a crate to house a dog at night or while an owner isn’t at home is key in reducing separation anxiety and preventing accidents in the house. Young dogs or those new to a home may especially benefit, Coval says. Owners can use a crate while they figure out how their new dog reacts as they prepare to leave the house or if they notice the animal chewing on furniture or other things it shouldn’t have unsupervised access to.
“It gives them a safe place to go,” Coval says.
Adult dogs who are used to being crated can usually comfortably stay in an appropriately sized enclosure for six to eight hours, she says. Younger dogs, especially puppies who are still potty training, should be allowed out every four hours or so. This schedule may be difficult to maintain for owners who work away from home. If this situation is the case, Coval recommends finding someone to come by the house and give the dog a short break outside or investing in a daycare package with a local pet care provider. More and more specialty pet services are popping up, especially in urban areas, and some groomers even offer this option.
Daycare also works to socialize dogs of all ages, Coval says, so if you’re thinking about utilizing this service, see if the provider allows even-tempered dogs to have appropriately supervised contact with one another. This option may allow your dog to move around freely during the day and also to improve its social skills.
“It’s a win-win,” Coval says.
Tip #2: Plants + Pets = Problems
In recent years, home improvement and grocery stores have made the availability of attractive, flowering plants a year-round reality. However, having live plants in the house can be a hazard for dogs, Coval explains, as certain species can be toxic. Owners should make sure they know what they’re buying when they invest in houseplants and place the new additions away from curious canines.
Tip #3: Let’s Take This Outside
When it comes to letting pets have time outdoors, Coval recommends owners proceed with caution. Pets who aren’t used to being away from their owners, even if they’re just separated by an outside door, can get bored easily, and boredom can result in destruction of property or injury to a pet, she explains.
Basic needs like water should always be available, especially in warmer weather, she says, and for pets who don’t live inside, a doghouse is essential. In winter, if the weather is slated to dip below freezing, owners should find a place to bring dogs inside the house, Coval cautions.
For homes with a sturdy fence in the backyard, leaving a dog outside for a few minutes to explore on their own can be fine if the owner sets the stage for safety. Coval recommends owners stand at the back door of their home at first to issue voice corrections if their dog begins doing something unsafe like mouthing rocks or challenging the fence. Proper supervision and containment practices should be in place outside the fence, too, Coval says. Although some counties in Georgia don’t have a leash ordinance, she recommends leashing dogs no matter what when they are outside of the home.
Another important part of pet safety is keeping your pets on a leash whenever you take them outside the home, like our techs Ricarda and Ashley
Tip #4: Microchips are a Massive Help
In the event, a treasured pet does escape from a backyard or home, Coval says it’s important to have a safety net in place. Microchipping can be a lifesaver when a pet gets away as it gives anyone who finds the animal the ability to find its owners. The chip insertion procedure typically runs less than $50 with your local vet, and it’s a quick and relatively painless affair. Many veterinary clinics, including Countryside, have a microchip scanner.
“It just gives people a better chance of being able to locate their pet,” Coval says.
Owners should also always keep collars on their dogs, Coval says. It’s a time-tested practice, and tags with the pet’s name and either the owner’s phone number or their vet’s number can make the difference in seeing a beloved pet returned home.
Responsible dog ownership is an ongoing concept that you’ll need to adjust during your pet’s life. The approaching change in seasons is the perfect time to review your practices and perhaps make changes in areas that need improvement.
Post by Liz Crumbly
As many of you know, Dr Mary Peter has led the annual Christian Veterinary Mission trip to the Apache and Navajo reservations in July for the past 4 years. The team of veterinarians and veterinary students from across the country travel to these reservations in Arizona to provide veterinary care for the Native people and to share the gospel. The teams over the years, first led by Countryside’s founder Dr. Billy Myers, have made many friends and they look forward to fellowshipping and serving them each summer.
As our Countryside family, you have always been tremendously supportive of the team’s efforts, through both monetary and in-kind donations. We cannot thank you all enough, because without your help - from cargo trailers to towels and other supplies – the trip would not be possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the reservations especially hard; the Navajo Reservation has experienced the highest per capita coronavirus infection rate in the U.S. It is hard to believe, but 40% of the residents do not have access to running water. In consultation with our Native hosts, we will do our part to support safety and health, and forego the cross-country travel. Although we will greatly miss seeing all of our friends, we have decided to take a path of social distance and share Christ’s Love from Afar. We can still support our friends from where we are!
Please join our extended team this year to support the Navajo and Apache Reservations during this pandemic. We partner with three primary organizations each year for our mission trip. Your direct giving to these host ministries can help Share Christ’s Love from Afar by helping to purchase meals and necessary supplies (e.g., masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers, etc) for those families who need it most.
1. Christian Veterinary Mission, which is our parent organization, has opened a Western Navajo Relief Fund - 100% of the donations go to the Navajo Nation.
2. Good Shepherd Mission Episcopal Church in Navajoland, our host church and base camp while on the Navajo Nation, is accepting donations online to go towards the Navajo COVID-19 relief.
3. Apache Youth Ministries, our host ministry on the Apache reservation, empowers Apache youth to impact their community for Christ and has established a link to join their COVID-19 relief efforts.
If you are crafty, why not consider making face coverings to send to the Native people? Special designs and uplifting messages can provide a small gift of love and hope. Simply mail or deliver the homemade face coverings to the Countryside office and we will take care of the shipment to the reservations.
Through all the turmoil of the last few months and days, we continue to trust in this verse from Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go". We don't understand all that has happened this year or what the future holds, but we trust in the Lord and are praying for His guidance, healing, and humility. With truth and grace, we will be able to move forward in love; building each other up and serving each other.
By: Dr. Mary Peter, Dr. Lee Myers & Dr. Billy
Pets are living longer than ever these days, and their teeth are an important factor in their quality of life as they age.
Dental care for dogs includes more than just cleanings. Since the majority of canine dental issues occur beneath the gumline, vets are on the lookout for issues that could affect tooth function and dogs’ ability to eat. And owners should be vigilant, too.
When we catch dental problems early, they are often easy to remedy. However, if dogs don’t receive treatment in time, these difficulties can develop into bigger ones that may even need attention from a specialist.
One issue that plagues dogs is unerupted teeth. A tooth that has failed to clear the gumline can become painful when a dentigerous cyst forms around the unerupted tooth. These cysts can eat away at the jaw bone if they are allowed to fester. An unerupted tooth can be removed fairly easily, but if cysts have set in and the jaw is damaged, the animal may have to visit a boarded dentist for treatment.
Another potentially painful problem is cracked teeth. Dogs can damage teeth when picking up sticks and hard toys. When it comes down to it, they don’t know how to carefully play with solid objects, and physics is physics — sometimes the toy is just stronger than the tooth.
Tooth removal shouldn't be taken lightly. Pets need a thorough exam and dental radiographs to determine how deep the crack is and if it involves the pulp cavity or root before the decision is made to perform an extraction. If so, the tooth needs to come out to prevent future infection and pain. The good news is, teeth can be removed fairly easily, and pets can resume normal activities soon.
Pet owners can watch for problems like unerupted or cracked teeth, which are more common in dogs between one and three years old. The sooner they realize their dog is in pain and get him or her in to the veterinarian, the sooner we can help that animal. Here are a few things to be aware of that may indicate a brewing issue:
Owner involvement also means making sure dogs have the ongoing attention that results in healthy teeth and gums. Dental cleanings generally should start when the animal is still young, typically around two years. Dogs with missing teeth will need to begin having cleanings earlier, and it’s important to continue the process as pets age.
Trouble begins with tartar, which builds up between the tooth and gum line, forming a wedge that separates the tooth from the gum. At Countryside, we often see dogs six to eight years old with teeth that are loose and no longer salvageable because of tartar buildup that’s gone too far.
Since cleanings involve anesthesia, we are very careful about when we choose to clean, particularly with older patients. The American Veterinary Medical Association puts tartar buildup on a one-to-four scale. One means little buildup, and four means teeth may need to come out. Once we start to see gingivitis and calculi buildup, which often puts the patient at stage two, we should perform a dental.
Although there is some risk involved with putting dogs under, especially as they age, the procedure is worth doing because of the profound effect it can have on quality of life. A dog with all or most of its teeth is probably going to enjoy its food more than one who has had to have a mouthful of teeth pulled.
So, the most important message to take away is when it comes to dental maintenance in dogs is for owners to be aware. If they watch for signs of distress and bring their pets in sooner rather than later, we have a better chance of removing an unerupted or cracked tooth before the issue progresses. If we can see their dog’s teeth yearly, we also have the opportunity to eliminate tartar before it causes an irreversible problem.
We want to see canine patients be able to use their teeth their whole lives. Preventative measures and appropriate maintenance along the way help make that goal possible.
Article by: Liz Crumbly
The technology has become fairly streamlined. Our upper airway scope is 1 1/2 meters, and our gastroscope measures a little over three meters. Bluetooth technology makes each of them nearly wireless, and clients can look at the airway or gastrointestinal tract with us on an Ipad screen.
The situation we will focus on the most in this piece is gastric ulcers, and then we'll tell you about some of the other procedures where scoping is helpful. At Countryside, we can't over recommend scoping for ulcers. Did you know that various studies suggest that 60 to 90% of horses have these painful lesions at some point in their life.
Ulcer symptoms can range from mild colic signs, to girthiness and under saddle behavioral issues. Humans need to see food, or smell food to produce stomach acid, horses aren’t designed in the same way, they produce acid all the time. During performance, ulcers can be particularly painful because of the sloshing of acid in an empty stomach. This can cause subtle performance issues as the focus is placed on the pain and not the task at hand.
A gastroscopy procedure allows us to see exactly where ulcers are located in the stomach so we can treat appropriately. For horses that are shown heavily, it’s not a bad idea to scope before every competition season in order to ensure there are no ulcers to weaken performance.
We’ve all heard the story of the seasoned instructor telling his or her students to go ahead and treat for ulcers in a symptomatic horse. While we like to see owners being proactive, there’s a pretty big flaw in this approach: Treatment for ulcers can get pricey in a hurry. It’s important to know whether or not your horse actually has the issue before introducing an expensive medication, not to mention the fact that we really shouldn’t be medicating horses if they don’t actually need it. We can also perform rechecks to ensure the resolution of ulcers prior to stopping treatment - not all ulcers fully heal with 30 days of treatment.
This is why I recommend getting some insight with a gastroscope before assuming your girthy horse has stomach pain. Yes, it’s an added cost, but if we don’t find ulcers, you’ll save money in the long run.
Other scope uses
Here are a few other uses for our portable scopes:
Countryside added the portable scopes to our bank of equipment, and we hope our horse owners find it easier to schedule scoping procedures now. Scoping has proven to be an invaluable tool in diagnostics and sometimes even treatment, and now that we can do it at clients’ farms, it has become accessible to nearly everyone.
Article by: Liz Crumbly
Horses often join fruit and TVs to travel internationally
Most horse people will never have cause to board a treasured equine on a plane, let alone actually fly right along with it. But for a certain group of professionals, the ins and outs of getting thousands of pounds of horseflesh on and off a flying contraption are routine.
I thought it would be interesting to walk through the process of shipping a horse internationally via air. Procedures vary, depending on the requirements of the receiving country.
First, horses need to have a health certificate similar to the ones most horse owners who ship interstate are familiar with. Vaccinations and testing for international health certificates are contingent upon what the destination country requires, so horses may sometimes have innoculations before and after a flight.
International import and export points in the Eastern United States are John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Miami International Airport. I did a recent export for three horses traveling from Athens, Ga. through Miami to Grand Cayman Island. Here’s what happened.
Just a quick note about quarantine facilities — there’s a team of professionals on staff at each one in the U.S. who adhere to stringent regulations to keep diseases from entering or exiting the country. Horses in these locations get daily vet inspections. Fly, bird and rodent control is a big deal — in fact, a lot of these stables have screens surrounding them to keep out living things that might bring in pathogens. They’re responsible for spotting diseases that have already taken hold in their equine charges, and they have to look for potential carriers like ticks.
Staff often enters the stabling area with full protective equipment, including gloves and booties. Their whole goal is to create an environment where disease can’t get in or out. Things are done not just to protect the horses that are coming in but also the other horses already in country. These quarantine teams are essentially responsible for the entire population of horses in the U.S.
Low risk factors
Now, the trip I described above was a smooth one, but I’ve flown enough now with horses that even when there’s a bobble, I can usually smooth things over. For instance, I was helping transport a horse to the the Caymans when he injured his eyelid en route to the airport. The team was on a timeline, and we decided I would suture the small laceration on the plane. So there I was, several miles above Cuba, putting in six sutures. The horse continued its journey with no further setbacks.
When you think about the number of horses that travel in and out of the U.S., it seems pretty incredible that we can pull off events like the World Equestrian Games, which recently took place in Tryon, North Carolina. We didn’t have any new diseases to contend with here after the visiting WEG horses left, and there were no major injuries.
When you consider all the moving pieces in the flying process, it’s amazing how low we’ve whittled the risk factors. So, now that you have some insight into how horses fly, next time you see an FEI event on TV with its gleaming dressage horses or high-flying jumpers, you’ll know a little more about how those athletes got from their home countries into the sandbox or the timed arena.
Article by: Liz Crumbly
Protect your horses - why Vaccinate?
What is the West Nile Virus?
The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a viral disease that can result in fever and neurologic disease. WNV circulates in nature between birds and mosquitoes.
When a mosquito takes a bite of an infected bird, that mosquito is then able to transmit the virus to horses, humans, and many different species of birds. Horses are considered a dead end host meaning the virus cannot be transmitted to other species.
How was Ginger diagnosed?
Diagnosis of WNV is typically based on clinical signs and serology testing. It’s important to emphasize that many clinical signs of WNV closely resemble a number of other equine neurological diseases like Eastern equine encephalitis, rabies, EPM and equine herpesvirus-1. Twitching of Ginger's muzzle and lower lip were the most obvious signs. In some cases, you will even see twitching of the muscles in the neck, shoulders and chest region.
Next, a full neurologic exam was performed. When Ginger was walked in a tight circle, the observation revealed that Ginger would “swing” her hind legs rather than crossing them.
Lastly, you can observe how Ginger performed when her line of vision was removed by lifting her head. Notice how she appears to be reaching or feeling for her next step. A normal horse will instantly place their legs in the right position as they walk. There should be no hesitation.
After the observation, a blood test was sent to the lab to confirm if WNV was present.