Itch Season

This time of year is the biggest time for dogs (and cats) to come in with a complaint of being itchy, or scratching a lot.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but our most commonly diagnosed is allergic dermatitis.

Dogs and cats can have allergies to a number of different things, and contrary to popular belief, foods are not the most common. Especially in the case of pets that are only itchy during a certain period of the year.

As I stated, this is a very common time of year to have itchy pets. During late summer and early fall we see the largest amount of patients with allergic dermatitis. Oftentimes it is to the pollens that are common this time of year.

And 2021 has been a very bad year for those pets with allergies. The dry summer combined with the smoke that’s been in the air much of the time is creating a lot of more problems with itchiness than we usually see.

So the first thing to know about dealing with allergies and itchiness is, what can you do at home? Shampoos are the easiest to use and will almost always help. Moisturizing shampoos, such as those containing oatmeal are best. The trick is that sometimes you need to use them very frequently, up to several times weekly. This is not a problem as long as you are using a good quality moisturizing shampoo for dogs.

You can also use antihistamines, such as Benadryl, but make sure to call our office first to get the right dose.

There are supplements that can help a lot but they are often not enough on their own. A few companies make some supplements specifically for skin disease. However, we’ve always found a high omega-3 fatty acid supplement to be best.

There are some foods that can be helpful because of high omega 3 content as well. However, do not try to change the food just because your dog is itching. The vast majority of the time it’s not that easy. Let us help you first.

There are a number of good prescription medications for itchiness and allergies available now. Our old standby was always cortisones. They do work but can have some significant side effects that we’d like to avoid. So we only use those in specific cases.

These days we have other more effective products with lower side effects. Apoquel is an oral medication for allergies that came out a few years ago and has been very successful. It has very few side effects. It is a prescription medication, however, so you will need to come see us before we approve it.

Another medication we’ve been using is Cytopoint, an injection that targets some of the chemicals that produce itching in the body. It has been extremely effective and last 1-2 months. And has virtually no side effects. We’ve found it to be extremely successful for dogs with short term allergies.

If your dog or cat has more than just a short term allergy a much longer term plan would be in order that may include allergy testing.

If you’re dealing with an itchy dog or cat, please give us a call and let’s see how we can help you.

What’s Involved In A Dental Procedure

Since studies show that over 80% of pets over the age of 3 have dental disease, it is
likely that many of our pet owners have been told that their pet needs a “dental procedure”. Or
maybe a “prophy” or a “COHAT” or some other term. There are many terms used to describe
the procedure. COHAT which stands for Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and
Treatment probably best describes what is actually done during the procedure.
A dental procedure is very similar to what happens when a person goes to the dentist,
with scaling, polishing and full mouth x-rays. But animals do not cooperate and hold their
mouths open so they do need to be under anesthesia for the procedure.
A very important part of any dental procedure is the assessment of the teeth and gums.
This is done under anesthesia so the veterinary dentist can closely examine each tooth and the
surrounding gums. The veterinarian will visually examine the tongue, under the tongue and the
back of the mouth. A vital part of the oral examination is x-rays of all the teeth and their roots.
This is very important since a large percentage of all dental abnormalities are not seen on the
visible aspect of the tooth, but are found under the gumline.
Once the oral exam and assessment are completed an oral treatment plan is formulated.
This includes the removal of calculus from the teeth and polishing of the crowns of the teeth.
But can also involve more extensive treatments such as curretting and root planing or surgical
extractions. Each pet is treated as an individual and each tooth is treated as an individual also.
The end goal of the dental procedure is healthy teeth and gums that help with the overall health
of the pet.
Dr. Jon’s new basset hound Roscoe needed dental care when he was adopted. His
before and after photos show a significant improvement from his routine dental cleaning.

We’re Open!!

Effective immediately we will be having our doors open during our normal business hours for all clients. We are no longer requiring curbside service, however, if you would prefer your appointments done by curbside, we are happy to accommodate you.

Feel free to drop in to pick up food, prescription refills, and any other supplies at any time during our regular hours. Currently those are:

Monday: 8 AM to 8 PM

Tuesday: 8 AM to 6 PM

Wednesday: 8 AM to 4 PM

Thursday: 8 AM to 8 PM

Friday: 8 AM to 4 PM

Please call for appointments or click on the link on our Schedule Appointments page.

We ask that if you are not fully vaccinated yet, that you continue to wear a mask when you are in the clinic. However, if you have completed your vaccination series, you can choose whether you want to wear one or not.

We look forward to seeing you in person!!

Please Come In!

We’re happy to have you back!

We are pleased to announce we are open again for in person appointments. We are very excited to be able to see you all again. Communication has sometimes been difficult with the curbside process so we anticipate this being very helpful for us as well as you.

As we transition to a more normal experience we have a few requirements.

In keeping with the current state regulations, we are allowing clients who are fully vaccinated to attend appointments in person without a mask. Fully vaccinated is defined as being two weeks past a completed vaccination series (one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine).

For those who are not vaccinated or their vaccination is incomplete, we are still allowing you in with your pet, but we require you to keep your mask on.

Furthermore, to keep traffic flow down to minimize risk, we are requiring that you call us and be escorted in by a staff member. All pet owners will be asked to remain in the examination room for the entirety of their visit as well.

We will still accept curbside appointments for those people who feel more comfortable with this type of appointment. Additionally, we may require this for certain urgent or emergency visits when our schedule is full.

We are asking our staff members who are not vaccinated to wear a mask as well when interacting with you.

Introducing a New Service!

We are now offering a spa service for your dog or cat. This will involve a short visit with our staff technicians and assistants to do all the “necessaries”. They will trim the nails, clean the ears, and express the anal glands. Normally this would cost $75, but when bundled together like this we give you a great discount!

Call today to schedule and appointment!

Please note, this does not include a visit with the doctor, so if you have something more than just these routine procedures, please schedule appropriately.

COVID – 19 Update May 2021

Governor Walz gave an update last week on the status of the state of Minnesota requirements concerning COVID – 19. Based on what he had to say, some of our policies will be changing.

In his statement, Governor Walz indicated that capacity limits were going to be relaxed, as will social distancing requirements, starting May 28th. The mask mandate is scheduled to be lifted as of July 1, 2021.

In accordance with these, we are anticipating beginning to allow limited in person appointments at the clinic. We are planning on beginning these appointments in early June, pending full confirmation by the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Initially we anticipate only allowing 1 client at a time with their pet. We will also require masks as long as the mask mandate is in effect.

Please check back on our website frequently to keep up with our updates on this.

The Importance of Pets in Mental Health

It’s very likely you know someone who has an emotional support animal in their life. This has become a relatively common thing in our society these days. It underscores the importance of pets in our emotional and mental health.

Beyond emotional support animals, ordinary pets in our lives have an incredibly important impact on our mental health. As May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to make sure to acknowledge the positive benefits our pets have on our mental health.

According to the website PositivePsycology.com, pet owners are less likely to suffer depression, experience lower levels of blood pressure during stressful situations, have lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, survive longer after heart attacks, live longer, and have about a third less visits to the doctor after the age of 65.

Those things alone would be plenty to make most of us happy to have our pets. Or encourage you to get one if you don’t have one. I know as a pet owner, the animals in my household have helped me through difficult times on many occasions.

Last year presented a very unique sort of challenges to all of us. Depression was at an all time high as a result. Those of us with pets leaned heavily on their presence to help support us.

One of the positive impacts on our society was the reduction of the number of pets in human societies and shelters. Many people went out in search of companions to help them in their isolation and their newfound challenges.

In addition to those things I listed above, there are a number of other things that pets do to help our mental health. For instance, they help to fulfill our need for touch. Petting, hugging, and playing with our pets tends to provide significant relief from stress and anxiety. This kind of activity is know to produce increased levels of serotonin and dopamine, resulting in increased calm and relaxation.

Their requirements for regular attention and care also add a level of structure to our lives that can be helpful in maintaining our mental health. Many also require regular exercise which helps us to get outside and also increases our own level of physical activity.

We also play an important role in the mental health of our pets, which I’ll get into in later posts.

What Are You Doing To Care For Your Pet’s Teeth

Dental care for your pet is a very important thing. For quite some time we’ve realized in veterinary medicine that the health of the teeth can greatly affect the overall health of the pet.

Dental disease has been linked to such severe problems as heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure, among others.

February is Pet Dental Health Month, so we want to make sure that you are paying attention to your pet’s teeth. While we greatly encourage in clinic dental cleanings, we also feel that home care is super important as well.

There’s a few different options for dental home care for pets. The top option is brushing. Yes, you can brush your pet’s teeth. In fact, many grow to enjoy it. The most important thing in it is to use a flavored toothpaste and give it to them as a treat before you actually start using the brush. Just jumping in and scrubbing the teeth with a brush can be a little painful and scary for them at first.

We recommend that you allow the dog or cat to take the flavored toothpaste as a treat to start, offering a small amount on your fingertip. Once they begin to enjoy it, you can start by rubbing it on their teeth and gums with your finger. Only after that’s become an easy habit do you start to introduce the brush.

There are also several less labor intensive ways to treat their teeth, including gels, wipes, water additives and treats.

The gels and wipes work well. Wipes are very similar to brushing, however. Gels require a little less work and seem to do a good job in our experience. We use Maxiguard gel and have for years and find it a very good alternative to brushing.

Water additives are easy, but less effective than the others. Usually the ease of delivery is the main benefit.

Lastly are dental chews or treats. These can work, but tend to maintain the situation at best. They also need to be given fairly frequently which can be cost prohibitive. I consider these a last resort.

Whatever the case, some form of home care is essential to keeping your dog’s mouth healthy. So find what works for you and be consistent!

If your dog’s mouth is in need of a cleaning, we’d be happy to help with that. For February we offer 10% off of all cleanings, so it’s a good time to get yours scheduled!

Holiday Schedule

Happy Holidays from Mr. Pickles and all of us at Town & Country Veterinary Services!

For the 2020 Holiday season we will have the following hours:

Thursday, December 24th (Christmas Eve) 9 am to Noon

Friday, December 25th (Christmas Day) Closed

Thursday, December 31st (New Years Eve) 9 am to Noon

Friday, January 1st (New Years Day) Closed

Have a wonderful holiday season!

COVID – 19 Policy Updates

COVID – 19 has caused a large number of changes in our lives. Here at Town & Country Veterinary Services we are trying to make the necessary changes we need to in order to protect you along with protecting our staff members.

We have been looking at all the information from the CDC, the AVMA, MVMA, Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine, along with the orders from the Minnesota Governor’s office in order to develop protocols and policies to be able to remain open to provide for your pets’ needs and still keep everyone safe.

One of the primary changes we are beginning to implement this week is to begin curbside only service. We will continue to be open and available for the appointments you need. When you arrive for your appointment, we ask that you call us from your cell phone (or knock on the door if you don’t have one). Our staff will then come and get your pet from the car and bring it in to the clinic for their appointment.

Rest assured your pet will receive all the appropriate care it needs in a loving manner. The doctor or staff will communicate with you about the details of your appointment via phone.

If your pet requires special care or your presence during an appointment we will make any necessary modifications to our process. As much as possible we want to keep you safe during appointments. This curbside service should allow us to keep both you and our staff safe and healthy.

We will be using masks and gloves when in contact with you and your pet as well.

There are certain routine procedures that we have been recommended not to provide. The purpose of this, based on direction from the Governor’s office and the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine, is to preserve PPE in case it is required for human hospitals, along with reducing contact between people to help prevent spread of COVID – 19. In particular, at this time we are not scheduling routine neuters and spays. Nail trims in most cases are also considered non essential procedures.

We are trying to provide as much of our normal treatments and procedures as possible. And yes, we consider most vaccinations as important and essential to your pets’ and your health. We will provide everything possible to your pets’ care during this crisis.

Another way we are helping to reduce contact and help you to stay at home, is to help you get medications delivered directly to your home whenever possible. We have access to every medication your pet may need through our online pharmacy. Just follow the link on our online pharmacy page. See the menu at the top. The Board of Veterinary Medicine has been helpful in letting us extend the time between annual visits required for us to subscribe medications.

Above all else, please contact us and let us know what we can do to help you and your pets in this time. You can reach us by email at towncountryvet@embarqmail.com and by phone at 651-480-1833. If you have anything urgent, please call, do not email. Remember to check back here frequently for updates and useful information.