Dear Friend,

In this edition you will find:

Melting Snow
Tick Prevention
Probiotics, potential future uses


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Melting snow

We sure have had a lot of snow this month. Much more than normal for February. The result, lots of stuff has been buried in the snow and will be uncovered when it melts. (Not to mention the copious amounts of water and mud in the not too distant future.)

If your dog is anything like mine, its unhealthy appetite sure can cause problems (and even death). Many dogs are extremely opportunistic when it comes to things that might be food. Even gross, disgusting, rotting things like dead animals seem tasty to them.

The problems come in the forms of “food” poisoning, vomiting, diarrhea, pain, poisoning, shock and foreign body obstruction.

Please check your dog's area to make sure that nothing dangerous is present. This small amount of prevention can prevent very serious problems.


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Ticks Are Coming

It might not seem like it this week with the blizzard conditions and cold weather, but spring is only about 3 weeks away. Warmer temperatures will bring not only flowers and mud, but also ticks.

We often see deer ticks start coming out at the end of March. Deer ticks are hardy little buggers and start moving to their new hosts as soon as the weather starts to warm above freezing. The wood ticks are a bit slower to get started in the spring.

In our area deer ticks are the more likely tick to transmit disease to their host. Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis are all diseases we see in our area.

We recommend using a flea and tick preventative starting in March for people using these products only during the season. Additionally, if your dog is exposed to ticks regularly we recommend the Lyme vaccine.

Preventatives we carry are Frontline®, NexGard® and Revolution®


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Probiotics

Over the winter there are some good veterinary conferences. Dr. Otto just returned from the Western Veterinary Conference and Dr. Lindquist went to the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association Convention. Conferences are good for keeping current and reviewing information to help us serve our patients better.

A topic that came up for both Dr. Otto and Dr. Lindquist was the use of probiotics for a variety of health problems. Some of them were a little surprising and some make a lot of sense. In the not too distant future probiotics are expected to be used much more widely to treat diseases.

We already use probiotics frequently to treat vomiting and diarrhea. They help ensure the gut has good bacterial flora present. It is common for patients (human and veterinary) to get diarrhea when on antibiotics and the probiotics are quite helpful to treat this side effect. The antibiotics kill large numbers of bacteria in the gut and there is evidence that the change can last for an extended time.

There appears to be significant evidence that certain probiotics can be very helpful in the treatment of severe chronic problems like inflammatory bowel disease. This makes a lot of sense given the role bacteria play in the intestines for controlling the immune response.

Less obvious is that probiotics seem to help with control of chronic upper respiratory disease in cats. Dogs can get some relief from allergies. And one of the least obvious is the behavior changes seen in dogs with anxiety. The mechanism for this is not clear.

While probiotics seem to be able to help with many disease processes and more are expected to be discovered in the future, not all probiotics are created equally. Studies show that some products have almost no colony forming units present. Others do not survive to populate the bowel. So you cannot just go to the store and get just any product. You need to speak with your veterinarian about what product to use and how to use it.

Much remains to be learned about the applications and use of probiotics. However, this is a promising area for treatments for many disease processes. Additionally, it may prove to be safer than some other traditional treatments. We are watching eagerly for more information.


Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength.
– St. Francis De Sales

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