Common Problems


Heartworm disease:
The American Heartworm Society has good information on this debilitating and often fatal disease in dogs. Our discussion here will focus on the dog's disease prevention, and treatment. Cats can get heartworm, but do not suffer fatalities like the dogs. We will provide prevention and treatment to dogs until research deems it necessary and prudent to do so for cats in our area. The protocols used here are tailored to the individual dog's disease state, lifestyle and personality. This is not a one size fits all program. Prevention is offered after appropriate testing and monitoring and can be in the form of monthly pills, liquid, or a twice a year injection. Treatment can be a short, fairly inexpensive process, or it can be a long, step by step expensive series of medications. It is always best to prevent this disease in the first place. There is no state that is immune to this disease nor is there a time of year when it is safe to not be on prevention medication. Wild canids like the coyote also carry the disease and serve as a permanent reservoir of infection for our dogs. Jump to our Heartworm Page for more information.


the foxtail is a barbed seed that sticks to your pet's fur and migrates inward. the barb can end up in virtually any location in and on your pet's body. most problems stem from the pain inflicted when your pet gets one of these stuck in the ear canal, up his nose, or in his eye. the most serious of these is the eye since it can lead to blindness if not treated properly. the ones in the nose can eventually go into the lung and cause significant damage, but this is rare. the ones in the ear are just as painful, but not life threatening. the awns (seed carriers) in the ear and nose will usually require heavy sedation for us to remove them. we have safe, short acting drugs to give in these cases. awns that make their way into the skin cause a slower process of deep abscess formation and an eventual pus pocket becomes noticeable. this needs to be lanced and properly drained. these patients will always be given a round of antibiotics and sometimes pain medications. one of the deepest abscesses seen at this facility was in a kidney! perhaps the awn migrated up the vaginal area when the dog squatted to urinate and the barbed material made it's way up the urinary tract. almost anything is possible with these things. they can be deadly. prevention is key​​​​​​​

Investigate this product, the Outfox Field Guard. While wearing the OutFox Field Guard, your dog can pant, sniff, drink & play as usual. Field guard can help you protect your dog from painful & expensive injuries caused by embedded foxtails.

Rattlesnake Bite: VERY common here in spring, summer & fall
We have the Western Diamondback snake in our region and they do not hibernate in winter. They are just more sluggish and harder to find when it is cold. They will be out and about when you and your pet feel like doing the same. Be aware of this threat when you are outdoors with your pet. If your pet is bitten you will usually notice rapid, intensely painful swelling of the affected area. Some bites are less problematic and may not cause as much swelling and pain, but they usually need to be seen. Not all patients need antivenin (at over $700 per dose) and do well with pain medication, anti-inflammatories, anti-histamine, and antibiotics. Some will require hospitalization and fluid support as well. Antivenin in this practice is available, but rarely used.

Pets that get bitten year after year will have less serious reactions each time. Some pets will react violently to antivenin and can actually die from the drug.
Rattlesnake vaccine is promising, but not substantiated yet in this practice's opinion. There have been adverse and serious reactions to this vaccine that may not be worth the benefit that the dose provides.

Rattlesnake avoidance training is available for your dog. Check out the link and find training near you.