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Rabies Is On The Rise, 2018!

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Rabies is on the rise in Colorado for 2018!!!!

As of April 5th, 2018, CDPHE reports 114 skunks and one alpaca from Colorado have tested positive for rabies. For statewide data visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment rabies data website. According to information followed in the link above, so far in 2018, 115 animals total from Colorado have tested positive for rabies. Of those, 32 rabid animals were known or strongly suspected of exposing 84 domestic pets, 55 livestock animals, and 12 people! These numbers are rising weekly! Understandably, this causes concern from a public health standpoint since rabies is an incurable disease and warrants education from veterinarians to clients about the disease, vaccination protocols, and drives the need to ensure all domestic animals are currently vaccinated and what repercussions are for unvaccinated animals and those with expired vaccines. This link will take you to a Map of positive rabies cases relevant to Larimer County specifically. https://www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/rabies/map-positive-rabies-animals#/map/2018?id=1155 .

While skunks are the most common wildlife animal to carry rabies, the skunk rabies variant has spilled over to raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and mountain lions. Therefore, residents should be aware of inherent risks of exposure to other wildlife species exhibiting abnormal behavior.

Rabies or suspicion of rabies is reportable in Colorado. There is no test to see if rabies is present while the animal is alive, so any suspicion that an animal or person has been exposed must be taken very seriously. Veterinarians are required to call the State Veterinarian’s Office for any circumstance where an animal might have been exposed. This is important when considering the vaccination status of our patients and what consequences there may be for those pets not in compliance with Colorado state law.

To review vaccination protocols, puppies, kittens, adult dogs and cats with no previous history of rabies vaccination can be vaccinated as early as 12 weeks of age, most getting vaccinated at 16 weeks of age to ensure an appropriate immune response was mounted.  It is then boostered a year later.  At that point the vaccine can be protective for a year to three years depending on the vaccine used which may vary amongst veterinarians.  Any dog or cat with an unknown vaccine status or lack of proof of vaccine, that is exposed to a potentially rabid animal or bites a person could legally be quarantined for up to 6 months at an approved facility at the owner’s expense or euthanized depending on circumstance. Animals overdue for a rabies vaccine may just be instructed to do a home quarantine and have the vaccine boostered ASAP. Rabies antibody titers are NOT accepted as proof that domestic animals are protected from rabies and does not represent a legal index of immunity in lieu of revaccination.  Proof of vaccination must be available to avoid issues.

Many local public health departments have their own websites dedicated to dissemination of rabies information to the public. Some examples include:

We at Mulnix Animal Clinic strive to provide updated information for our clients on important issues that may seriously impact their animal’s health.  We believe in a strong commitment to our community and protecting our patients as best as we can from preventable diseases that have devastating consequences.  Please call us for an appointment if your pet needs an updated rabies vaccine or if you have any questions!!!!  You always have access to your pet’s health information via our smart phone app Pet Desk or you can call our office to find out what vaccines your pet may need to catch up on.  We are taking this very seriously and will continue to monitor things closely. We will keep you informed through our website and facebook. If you have been in contact with a suspected rabid animal, contact your physician immediately!

Fit or Fat: Pet Obesity facts

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What is obesity in pets?

Obesity is a nutritional disease which is defined by an excess of body fat. Pets that eat too much, lack the ability to exercise, or that have a tendency to retain weight are the most at risk for becoming obese.

Obesity in pets is becoming more and more common in the United States. Similar to humans that are obese, it can cause problems for their health as they age and make them more susceptible to chronic issues.

Statistics

  • 54% of dogs were overweight or obese in 2016.
  • 59% of cats were overweight or obese in 2016.
  • 66% of pets in the United States are overweight or obese in 2016.

 11 additional facts about pet obesity:

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-pet-obesity

Health Risks

 Just as in humans, there are many health risks associated with obesity, some of which can be life threatening if not treated appropriately. A few important health risks are reduced life expectancy, diminished quality of life, skin disorders, chronic inflammation, kidney dysfunction, arthritis and tendon or ligament damage, respiratory disorders, cancer, metabolic and endocrine disorders. Getting your veterinarian involved early in the process of treating obesity can help with early detection of these diseases which increase your pets chance of survival.

Is human food bad for my pet?

Some human foods can be very harmful to your pets. A few dangerous foods that are commonly found in households are: chocolate, candy, natural bones, garlic, onions, sugar-free candy, grapes, raisins, fruit with pits, and macadamia nuts… This is not a complete list so if you are unsure call your veterinarian or a pet toxin hotline to be certain. In addition, many human foods have a high fat content, so even though they are not directly toxic, they contribute to weight gain and are not considered balanced diets for long term feeding. To ensure a nutritionally balanced diet it’s always a good idea to feed dogs dog food and cats cat food. If you have a specific treat in mind ask your veterinarian if it is safe.

How do I get my pet to lose weight?

  1. See a veterinarian to get a complete physical exam and thorough diet history to see how many calories your pet is receiving. With this information your veterinarian can rule out any underlying metabolic disease and we can tailor a specific weight loss plan for your pet including the type and amount of food and treats they should be receiving and exercise if possible.
  2. Routine rechecks are very important to track progress and help with any obstacles that might arise with your pet’s new nutrition plan.

Does my Veterinarian really need to be involved?

In most cases, yes. We want to make sure that your pet is receiving the appropriate amount of protein to take fat off of the fat stores and not the muscle stores. In order to do this your veterinarian will put together a plan to follow that would be best for your particular pet. Simply decreasing the amount of food could be detrimental to your pet’s overall health potentially causing malnutrition.

When meeting with your veterinarian they will discuss your pets body condition score- which is similar to the human BMI index, how much weight should be lost, and in what amount of time you should try to do that in a healthy manner.

What’s the best diet for my pet?

If your pet is overweight it depends greatly on your pet’s individual nutritional needs. They need to get a complete and balanced diet while factoring in the desired weight loss.  Each pet’s nutritional needs are also different, just like humans all have different nutritional needs. Your pet’s nutritional needs are based on pre-existing medical conditions and individual variations in metabolism.  As a pet goes through the stages of life their nutritional needs change.

So, with all the factors and choices, how can you decide? Make sure your pet has an age appropriate diet and that you are feeding the correct amount. Check with your veterinarian at your annual visit to make sure they agree how much your pet should be getting with each feeding. Different brands of dog food all have a different amount of calories per cup, so they must be evaluated individually.

Pet obesity prevention

When you take your new pet to the veterinarian for the initial visit be sure to ask your veterinarian what the appropriate food and amount for your individual pet would be. It’s helpful to always use a measuring cup instead of containers or mugs to measure out your pet’s food to help you be more accurate with how much you’re actually feeding. Also keep in mind that, when your pet is spayed or neutered their metabolic rate will drop 25% percent, therefore their caloric intake should typically be decreased by 25%.

Annual exams with your veterinary can help you stay on any top of any issues that may arise as far as obesity is concerned. It is easier to prevent obesity than it is treat it.

Is my pet overweight?

Unsure if you pet is over weight? Use this pet weight translator to get a clearer picture:

https://petobesityprevention.org/pet-weight-translator/

Sources:

1 & 2- Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

Joan Smith CVT

Im not really into ….. sharing.

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Resource Guarding in Dogs.

What is resource guarding in dogs?

Resource guarding can be normal behavior dogs display, stemming from the mentality of keeping valuable items from others. Items of value to your dog can vary greatly. Typical items include toys, food, and places (comfortable spots on the couch, cozy spots on the bed, and their own dog bed).

Growling, snipping, and biting are just some examples of behavior dogs will show when guarding favored items. Dogs will do these behaviors to warn off people and/or dogs from what they think is theirs. These behaviors can become quite serious leading to injury to both furry and human family members.

Helping your pet with resource guarding.

Do NOT punish your dog for displays of resource guarding. Dogs generally start with small behavioral problems, such as growling, if growling is harshly corrected without the proper guidance to desired behavior he/she may jump immediately to increased aggression like biting without warning.

**If your dog has serious guarding issues please consult a behavioral trainer before proceeding on your own for your family’s safety. **

There are many steps to take to help your dog who may currently have or may not have habit of resource guarding. The ultimate goal of the following behavioral training is to teach your pet that humans and dog friends provide good, high value treats/fun by being present.

When first bringing your dog home, hand feeding them can help build a good relationship between you and your pet. Also for more than just behavioral health, it is a great idea to start your pet with scheduled feeding times. This allows your pet to understand that his/her family members are the source of food. Training your dog with a ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it’ command can also help your pet know when an object is not appropriate to chew on. Having your pet know this command makes it easy for family members to take away the object.

If your dog is guarding possessions from other dogs you can begin training him/her by giving treats to the companion dog then to the pet that is showing guarding behavior. This allows for the dog who is guarding to realize when other dogs get treats he/she gets good things too.

Never take a dog beyond their threshold when training. If your pet is already excited and showing signs of aggression, it is hard for them to be open to learning. Start slowly and work towards moving the pets closer each day allowing the guarding pet to get more comfortable each time you train with them.

When should I seek outside help?

If you at anytime feel that yourself, family members, or furry family members are in danger from being bitten contact outside help. Reach out to your veterinarian for aid and information of names for trainers who can help you. Remember modifying behavior in any pet takes time, patience, and consistency.

Litter Box Issues? What can I do???

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Are you frustrated with your cat who is peeing everywhere BUT the litter box???? Many cats that are surrendered to shelters are there because owners with good intentions have battled this common problem with no success, and are at their wits end when they can’t solve it.  You are not alone!!!  The truth is, there are several reasons your furry friend might be thinking a bedroom, or a pile of clothes is more appealing than the litter box. First and foremost, it is important to rule out a medical condition, such as a urinary tract infection or other problem!!! Make an appointment for an exam with your vet first. If no medical cause is found, then the overall issue is sometimes related to STRESS….. which can be hard to determine what the cause is.  It can be hard to recognize the subtle signs of stress in our precious purr babies sometimes!! Unless they are soaking in a hot tub trying to decompress with headphones listening to classical music, or doing yoga in the back yard we may not notice subtle signs.  Often cats just over groom and pluck their hair out, or hide when normally they are active or social.  Sometimes they suffer in cat silence until they leave a present on your bedding or in your laundry basket, and only then do we realize we might have a problem!   Naturally this makes us angry because the one shirt we wanted to wear that day is now soaked in, um, urine. So we yell a little, and maybe give our kitty a scornful look and stomp around when really we are missing most of the puzzle pieces behind putting together the bigger picture.

Medical Issues?

The first thing to investigate is a medical reason.  Is there something going on that is making them feel cruddy?  Do they have a urinary tract infection, or are they throwing up food because they have upset stomachs, or do they have high blood pressure if they are older cats with kidney disease or an over active thyroid gland? Maybe they have diabetes and drink lots of water and need to go potty often.  Are they senior cats that might have arthritis pain or some confusion due to an aging brain?  These can usually be figured out by a good physical exam, blood work and a urine sample.  Fixing an underlying medical problem that makes them feel better may just be the ticket to getting kitty back in the box! There are treatments for most of these medical conditions that will help get things back on track within a matter of weeks.

Litter Box Particulars

What about stress from not liking where their litter box is located in the house?  Litter boxes should be placed away from loud things such as the washing machine and dryer, away from high traffic areas in the house where people are always gathering or passing through, and away from things that might make them feel scared, such as an area where the family dog can pay a surprise visit if kitty is, well, needing a private moment!  Put it in an area that is easily accessible and visited often by the cat, not the dog. A general rule is that there should be one litter box per cat in the household plus an extra one.  Some cats just don’t like sharing!!

Cleanliness is godliness, so the saying goes.  Litter boxes should be cleaned daily and replaced with fresh litter once a week. Did anyone ask kitty what kind of litter they prefer?  Or how big of a litter box they like? Do they like it covered or uncovered? Sometimes making some changes such as going to a bigger box, experimenting with different litter types, or even changing to a box with very low sides that make it easier for cats with arthritis to climb in and out of would help.  If you have an older cat with joint pain, and you have a house with more than one level to it, put a box on each floor of the house. Make sure the route to the litter box is safe and quiet.

Sibling Rivalry?

Sometimes in households with more than one cat there can be fighting amongst the cats causing stress that we as owners are actually not aware of. Cat siblings don’t always put on ninja suits and battle it out inside a boxing ring they set up in your living room. It can be very difficult to know you have a rivalry going on under your very nose!  Understanding how cats communicate can help identify possible problems. If the tail is carried high and over the back with ears pointed forwards, the cat is calm but interested, such as greeting a person or another cat in a friendly way. If the tail is hanging low with ears forward, they are relaxed.  If the cat is twitching the tail and ears are down and to the side, they are feeling aggressive. Hissing with ears flat against the head means the cat is frightened. Sometimes we might miss clues that cats are not getting along because we work all day, and chasing, growling, hissing and biting might be going on.  Some aggressive cats will block access to certain locations in the house by staring and appearing scary to another cat who is scared. The scared cat will crouch, turn ears down and avoid the situation.

Think about these questions if you are trying to figure out if all of your babies actually get along:  When do you see all of your cats in the same room? If the answer is never, one cat may be blocking access to another and placing another litter box somewhere else for the cat that is scared may help.  Does one cat spend all of their time in a single location? If the answer is yes, but there is no litter box in that area, they might decide it is easier to pee in that room than find the litter box.

Behavioral reasons for peeing outside of the box can be hard to determine, but with a good conversation with your vet, you might figure out some answers.  Calming pheromones such as Feliway room diffusers or sprays, separation of fighting cats temporarily, certain medications to help with anxiety, and reintroducing cats with play or food to create a positive experience again can help reduce stress.  Some of these medications can take TIME to work, so don’t give up if changes don’t happen immediately. Sometimes it takes 4-8 weeks to allow medication to work and develop a good plan to help multiple cats in household get along again.

Some tips for discouraging kitty from peeing in his favorite spot include placing some tin foil or citrus rind in the spot they are going in.  (Make sure you have a nice litter box readily available close by so that they won’t just go to another spot.)  Clean the area well with an enzymatic cleaner, and try a litter called Cat Attract, that makes the litter box seem more appealing.  DO NOT punish the cat, that will cause them to associate you with fear, and your bond with your cat is very important when trying to fix behavioral issues!

Is your cat Angry at YOU?

Some other things that may be causing stress would be how much time you do (or don’t) spend with your cat.  Is there enough play time or snuggle time happening between you and your cat during busy work weeks? Disruptions in routines such as leaving town, getting a new puppy, getting a new job that changes the amount of time we spend at home suddenly, or having out of town guests staying with you can upset a fragile feline.  When peeing on inside surfaces, especially when personal things such as clothing are marked, the cat’s relationship with all household humans and pets should be looked at.  Use interesting toys that your cat seems to take an interest in to get them engaged, feather toys, mouse toys, or laser pens!  It might take trial and error to figure what your cat likes best to play with. Marking near windows or doors may mean there are outside cats coming around causing anxiety, or maybe a cat that was used to being outdoors and is now a house cat is frustrated about not being let outside.  Give them plenty of entertainment in the house!!!!  Cats love to climb up high, a cat tree or access to something tall might be nice, some cat grass or cat nip toys, and a cozy place to escape for a nap like a covered bed or box could be nice.

A great website to visit that will give you all sorts of information on how to create a purrrfect house hold environment for your cat is the Ohio State’s Indoor Cat Initiative site.  They have researched the link between stressed or anxious cats and indoor house soiling, and have many ideas on how to problem solve once medical reasons have been resolved or eliminated as causes by your veterinarian. So DON’T GIVE UP!!! Many times, it is trial and error to see what works, and a good relationship with your veterinarian is important to help you get through the process of figuring out how to solve it.  Sometimes it is a matter of days to weeks to fix, and sometimes it can be challenging and take months, but if you are wanting to save your cat a trip to the shelter and you are motivated to invest time to work with this sometimes complicated issue, then we certainly are here to help YOU!!  Let’s start thinking outside the box…….to get kitty back IN the box, TOGETHER!

Dental Care, what is it good for?

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Put my dog or cat under anesthesia to clean their teeth?!?! Seriously, is this really necessary?

The answer to this frequent question is YES! Anesthesia and dental cleanings go hand in hand and both are necessary to help your pet live a long happy life.  It all starts with some plaque building up on their teeth, the plaque contains bacteria that causes gum disease. The bacteria can be spread to internal organs like heart valves, liver and kidneys causing organ problems. If the plaque is not removed with brushing the teeth it then hardens into tartar. The tartar can push the gum line away from the teeth causing roots to be exposed or form abscesses. By getting your pet’s teeth cleaned on a regular basis you can help your pet’s mouth and internal organs stay healthy. (And it sure helps with stinky breath also!)

When your beloved pet is anesthetized for a dental cleaning, a nurse will ultrasonically scale all of the tartar off of all surfaces of the teeth. The nurse will then check each and every tooth, inside and out, for any abnormal pockets (space between the tooth and gum), discoloration, wear, or fractures. Any teeth that have significant pockets, discoloration, fractures or are loose will be radiographed to evaluate the roots. The doctor will determine if the tooth is healthy and can remain in, if it is abscessed and needs to be extracted, or if another form of treatment would be indicated. The doctor will call you during the procedure to discuss any abnormal findings and go over options for treatments. After the teeth are cleaned and checked for pockets the nurse will polish every tooth surface to smooth out any micro abrasions so plaque doesn’t have an irregular surface to stick to. Fluoride will be applied after the teeth are cleaned and polished. After your pet’s teeth are professionally cleaned it will be recommended to start or continue brushing their teeth at home to help reduce the frequency of professional cleanings. Your pet will go home with clean teeth, fresher breath and a dental go home bag consisting of free samples and information to help with keeping your pet’s teeth at their best.  Proper, thorough cleaning and evaluation of every tooth surface is not something that even the best-behaved cat or dog will tolerate while awake. Therefore, anesthesia is necessary to provide your pet with the best dental cleaning and evaluation of all of the teeth, ensuring that no problem teeth are accidentally missed.

By professionally cleaning your pet’s teeth you help them live a healthier and happier life. While brushing your pet’s teeth on a daily basis is very beneficial it is often not enough to get them completely clean. Check with us to see if your pet is in need of a professional dental cleaning or if there is any home care that would be beneficial to their oral health at this time.

Fireworks, loud noises, separation, and other anxiety inducing things.

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Anxiety is an issue in pets that can be frustrating for both the pet and the owner. Cats and dogs can suffer from various forms of anxiety, including separation from owners or loud noises such as thunderstorms, lawnmowers, or fireworks.

There are many ways to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Whether it’s crating, confining to a room, medication, supplements, Thundershirts, pheromone collars, or behavior consultations, it will be so worth figuring it out for both you and your pet. Most of these options work best in conjunction with each other, such as medications given while working with a trainer to help you understand the best way to treat your pets’ anxiety. There are natural options for mild cases, such as Zylkene, ProQuiet, and Adaptil, which are pheromone options. Exercise can also help tremendously with anxiety. Long walks, runs, and playing fetch are all great options. Mental exercises are important as well for your pet. It keeps them busy while things are going on around them. Puzzle balls, Kongs, and training all are good ways to stimulate their minds, which can cause them to get tired as well. A physically and mentally tired pet rests better, therefore anxiety usually decreases.

This is an issue that is very close to my heart. I have two rescue dogs, both of whom suffer from anxiety. One of them, Luna, had a severe phobia of thunderstorms. With attention and her favorite blanket, we have learned how to alleviate it pretty well. On the other hand, Rue is still a work in progress.

Rue was found on the street and taken to a shelter when she was six months old. We adopted her shortly after. As soon as she got into the car to go home, she started panting and shaking. That’s when we realized we were in for a “project dog”.  Rue has severe separation and noise anxiety, mainly to fireworks. We tried crating her when we left her alone for almost a year before we realized that was not the best situation to help her anxiety. Most dogs love having their own “den” and won’t make a mess in their house. She was the complete opposite. Urinating and defecating in her crate were a normal thing for her and we figured she would grow out of the bad habit, but she never did. We came home one day to find her feet bleeding and her teeth chipped from trying to get out, standing in a puddle of her own making. We didn’t want her physically harming herself to get out, so we decided to explore other options.

The next idea we tried for Rue, when she was left home alone, was to confine her to a room by herself with all of her favorite things: tennis balls, treats, bones, the works. As it turns out, this wasn’t a good option either. She chewed the baseboards and almost chewed her way through the door, giving her tiny cuts in her mouth. Again, due to her hurting herself, we decided to reevaluate.

Rue now free roams the house with our other 3 pets. Being around them seems to alleviate some of her anxiety.  We utilize puppy training pads and music while we are away. And while it isn’t ideal that she is still suffering from some symptoms, at least she is more comfortable than she was previously. More importantly, we know she isn’t harming herself anymore. Fireworks still scare her to the point of panic, and this year during the month of July we are exploring options such as Thundershirts and distractions while the events are actively happening. She is very food motivated as well, so Kongs and treats are a big thing to try to take her mind off of the booming outside.

The next step for her, if needed, is going to be medication. We have tried a couple without much success, but are not giving up. Because anxiety in pets is largely trial and error, when one thing doesn’t work, you move onto another. Our main goal is to make sure Rue is happy and healthy, and we are slowly getting to where we don’t worry about her when we are gone for short periods of time.

While this may sound time consuming to many of you reading this, think about if you were the one suffering from crippling anxiety. You’d want to try absolutely everything to make it better, right? Cats and dogs are the same way.  Other options are always available to try when one doesn’t work.

If you ever need any help with your anxious animal, or you think your pet might have some sort of anxiety, give us a call. We are always here to help you and your pet figure things out, and I’m sure your pet will thank you for it.

-Chelsea-

Too Big, Too Small, or Just Right

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Nutrition is something a majority of people think about every day. But here’s the thing, not a lot of people consider nutrition for their pets. Proper diet is just as important for your pet as it is for you, it just isn’t something a lot of people ponder as diligently as their own health.

Now you may be thinking, a fat pet is a happy pet, right? Not necessarily. Obesity can cause a slew of problems in pets, just like in people! Joint pain, trouble moving easily, and strain on organs are just a few. Think about this: a 20-pound dog that is 5 pounds overweight is equivalent to a 200-pound man that is 50 pounds overweight!

While obesity is a common problem in pets, we also see animals that are underweight. Being underweight can cause issues as well, such as malnourishment, liver problems, and muscle loss.

Proper nutrition is something we at Mulnix Animal Clinic strive to help you understand. So much so that we have an animal nutrition specialist on staff! Her name is Joan, and she is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to pet nutrition. She will have a meeting with and your pet to calculate the number of calories your pet needs based on ideal weight, age, type of foods, and lifestyle. One thing she has pointed out to people is that while they are feeding the proper amount of kibble or wet food, treats can play a huge role in your dog or cats’ overall weight.

One of our veterinarians, Michelle Thomas, had been struggling with her cat Twix’s obesity for years. She finally decided to have Joan take a look at Twix and his full nutrition history to figure out why he wasn’t losing any weight. With Joan’s help, Twix is almost unrecognizable! Dr. Thomas wants to let everyone know about her experience:

“I have tried multiple diets with no success for 4-5 years now before Joan came to help. He is at least 2.5 pounds lighter, more active, bright, playful, and loving since his weight loss with Joan’s guidance! I even had trouble getting the after picture because he was moving around so much, whereas the before picture was easy! He would lay like that for almost 24 hours without moving, he was a slug! Joan helped give Twix the energy and playfulness back that he should have at his age!”

If you think your pet needs a nutrition consultation, whether it’s about losing weight or even gaining weight, give us a call and we will be happy to help you and your pet!

Rabies On The Rise

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Two dogs recently have been diagnosed in Colorado; one in Weld County and one in Yuma County. The epidemiological investigations are ongoing but one of the dogs was a 6 week old puppy and one was an adult dog. Please continue to be vigilant in your practice in discussing prevention and when examining animals both large and small if there are clinical signs present that could be suggestive of rabies. Use precaution and proper biosecurity for you and your staff when submitting samples for diagnostic testing.

A news release was sent out to public media early today that cautioned people about rabies being on the rise in Colorado. It also addressed how they could protect themselves and what could be done to help prevent it in pets and livestock.  We have included it below in its entirety.

So far this year, 34 rabid skunks have been confirmed in nine Colorado counties. The Colorado Department of Agriculture reminds pet and livestock owners that rabies is a deadly disease that can spread from skunks to other mammals and vaccination is the single best method to protect pets and livestock.

“The Department of Agriculture would like to stress two very important points,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “One—livestock owners need to be aware that rabies can transfer from one species to another so they should monitor their property for skunks; and two—local veterinarians are a valuable resource to help owners decide the best course of action to protect their animals from rabies.”

Rabies or suspicion of rabies is a reportable disease in Colorado. Even if rabies has not been diagnosed, practicing veterinarians need to call the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130 to report suggestive clinical signs of rabies. If it is after-hours, our office phone message will indicate which staff veterinarian is on call.

For statewide data please visit https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies-data.

Rabies is a viral disease in mammals that infects the brain and nearly all cases result in death. The clinical appearance of rabies typically falls into two category types:  “aggressive” and “dumb.” Aggressive rabies symptoms include combativeness and unusual aggressive behavior such as biting. There is also a “dumb” form of the disease in which the animal is lethargic, weak in one or more limbs, and unable to raise its head or make sounds because its throat and neck muscles are paralyzed.

Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of rabid animals, resulting in the spread of the disease through their infected saliva. Once symptoms of rabies infection appear, no cure exists and it is virtually always fatal. People that have been exposed to rabies can receive appropriate treatment to prevent illness. For pets and livestock, routine rabies vaccination of animals offers protection. Animal vaccination regimens vary so livestock and pet owners are urged to discuss rabies vaccination with their local veterinarian. Pet vaccination is also required in many jurisdictions.

“Animal owners concerned about rabies exposure need to primarily look for any dramatic behavioral changes. That is typically one of the hallmark signs that the animal may be suffering from rabies,” said Dr. Roehr. “Additionally, while house pets are often vaccinated, barn cats or outdoor pets are often forgotten. All animals should be considered in the vaccination plan you discuss with your veterinarian.”

In addition to ensuring that pets and livestock are vaccinated properly against rabies, here are additional prevention steps:

  • Be aware of skunks out during the day. This is abnormal behavior and these animals should be avoided.
  • Be aware of areas that can be suitable habitat for skunks such as under buildings or piles of wood and under stored equipment.
  • Don’t feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Be sure to teach children to stay away from wild animals. Avoid leaving pet food outside as that may attract a wild animal.
  • Contact your veterinarian right away if any of your animals are bitten or scratched by any wild animal, particularly skunks, bats, foxes or raccoons.
  • If your animals exhibit any dramatic behavioral changes, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Isolate and avoid contact with these animals if possible.
  • Rabies vaccination should be considered for horses and other equines, breeding livestock, cattle or other livestock that are housed where skunks may live.
  • If you must remove a dead skunk on your property, wear rubber gloves or lift the carcass with a shovel or other tool, and double-bag it for the trash. Do not directly touch the skunk with bare hands.

What Is Leptospirosis?

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Spring is here, and with the warmer weather comes rodents. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is spread through the bodily fluids (usually urine) of small animals such as mice, rats, and squirrels. You may be thinking, how can my dog get a bug from rodent urine? The answer is simple. If your dog goes outside, steps in grass where a squirrel has relieved itself, and comes in and licks his paws, he has a chance of getting infected. The kicker about lepto is that it is zoonotic, meaning not only can it be passed to your pets, it can be passed to you. Think about the fact that a lot of people (myself included) let their dogs lick their face. Sometimes that’s all it takes to pass lepto from animal to human.

Symptoms of lepto can include fever, sore muscles, stiffness, shivering, weakness, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing, among others. Cases of leptospirosis have been known to be fatal.

The best thing you can do for your dog is to get him (or her) vaccinated. Here at Mulnix, we like to look at the lepto vaccine as a core vaccine, one that we will always recommend to you when you bring your dog in for their yearly checkup. Because not only is it in the best interest of your dogs to avoid this disease, it’s in your best interest too. If you have a yard, or take your dog to the park, or anywhere there could be small rodents, there will be a risk of infection. And it is always better to prevent something than to treat it. My dogs have gotten their lepto vaccines every year, and I love having the peace of mind knowing that they won’t get sick when they are running around outside, because in the spring and summer that is their favorite place to be!

If you want to learn more about this vaccine, or have any questions about lepto, give us a call! We are always here to help you and your pet.

Tis the Heartworm Season!

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Our Heartworm Clinic is approaching fast! Many of you may be wondering why your dog needs to have a heartworm test. To answer this, we asked our staff to share their experiences with heartworm disease. Our vet assistant Emma asked us to share the story of her roommate, Oliver!

“Oliver is a 4-year-old lab mix from Texas. He came to Colorado through the Animal Debt Project, and was diagnosed with heartworm disease just before he arrived. The rescue decided that they would provide all of his treatment as long as he went to a loving home. My roommate knew that she could provide just that and he went to live with her. When she got him, Olly was underweight and super skittish. Normally, a healthy, adult rescue animal goes to the vet once or twice for preventative care and then gets to spend lots of time at home with their new family. Olly, however, required monthly treatments for his heartworm disease. He was required to be hospitalized for a full day, during which he received a shot in his leg muscle. This injection functioned to kill the worms living in his heart, but it caused him pain throughout his body and forced him to go home on an anti-inflammatory for a full week. For days after the injections he would be lethargic and whine from the discomfort. The worst part is that he was on almost complete exercise restriction throughout his treatments and for several months afterwards. Finally, three months later, his treatments were complete. But he still had to go back for rechecks and blood draws three more times over the next year to make sure the worms were actually gone. Luckily, his mom was not financially responsible for this treatment because the rescue decided to pay for it in order to give him the best chance at a permanent home. However, the full cost of diagnosis, treatment, and follow up care was upwards of $2,500!”

Olly’s story ended in a happy way. He has now been heartworm free for over a year and has the best life anyone could ask for. But it doesn’t always end this way. Heartworm disease can and often is fatal, and not every owner has the ability to get a dog through treatment. However, it is a disease that is so easily prevented! Heartworm preventative is a once monthly, chewable tablet that dogs love! The only requirement for them to be on it is a once yearly, relatively inexpensive blood test. You can get a heartworm test done at a reduced price at our clinic on April 5th and 6th and purchase your full year of heartworm preventative. All you need to do is call to schedule an appointment! We hope to see you there!