Archive for May, 2009

High Price of Pet Food Got You Down?

Let’s face it—we’ve all been trying to save money and tighten our belts in the face of uncertainty. Yet, prices keep going up and up on many items we really, really NEED–gas for our cars, utilities for our homes, and food for our pets. The question is, what are you paying for and are you getting real value for your dollar?

At Broad Ripple Animal Clinic and Wellness Center, we aren’t trying to compete with the pet superstores. We are delivering quality medical care and at times, that involves prescription food for your pet. There are many medical conditions that can be treated with prescription medications and therapeutic diets. Early diagnosis and treatment of many conditions can save you money in the long run. A classic example is a kitty that develops crystals in the urine. Once a cat becomes “blocked” by crystals or debris, it is an emergency situation that will more than likely require surgery and hospitalization. If your regular veterinarian is unavailable and you end up at an emergency clinic, you could be facing more than a thousand dollars in critical care for your pet. Once your cat has this condition, it is likely to reoccur. Your veterinarian will probably prescribe a therapeutic diet to help prevent and control the formation of urinary crystals in the future. Treatment and prevention will also involve monitoring your pet through scheduled, periodic urinalysis.

The costs involved with purchasing these types of diets go above and beyond the actual ingredients, packaging materials, and transportation costs. The research and on-going technological developments play a key part in the cost of these diets. All major manufacturers of veterinary prescription diets have spent years in research and development—all of which costs money. At some point, the market will reach its limit, though and we hope these companies recognize that our pet food prices must reach a ceiling very soon. They must pro-actively balance research and development with what is truly affordable and attainable by pet owners.

In light of the trends we’ve seen in pet food pricing, we’ve searched for alternative, quality pet food for your dollar. Our only line of non-prescription food is Honest Kitchen. As we said earlier, we’re not here to compete with the pet food superstores, nor do we want to carry a plethora of alternative choices. We looked for a pet food line that made sense to us, as veterinarians–quality, whole ingredients that meet the needs of the “whole” pet. We love this line of food! It makes sense, stores well (it’s dehydrated natural food), and pets love it! A 10-lb box of Honest Kitchen food , once re-hydrated is the equivalent of 43-lbs of fresh, nutritious food. You can order it direct-shipped to your home from or save yourself the wait and stop by either of our clinic locations to purchase your pet’s food.

Not sure what kind to get? Ask any one of our front desk staff. Is your pet on a prescription diet, and are you interested in seeing if there’s a viable alternative? Speak to any of our veterinarians. Their advice may be to stay on your current diet, due to a medical condition, but it never hurts to ask. Stop by today or call us at 317.257.5334 or 317.726.2711.


Toxocara: As Scary as it Sounds?

What is Toxocara and why does it sound so scary? Toxocara is a parasite of dogs and cats that can be passed to humans and then back again. Did you know that almost 14% of the human population in the U.S. is infected with this parasite? That’s S-C-A-R-Y! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Toxocara infection is more widespread and common than we think.

The CDC conducted a study and presented the results in November of 2007. This study shows that this parasite transmission from animals to humans is most common in young children and teens. Although, most cases show little to no symptoms, Toxocara is capable of causing illness and blindness. Even if you don’t own a dog or cat, playing in contaminated areas is a risk factor for children (parks and public areas where a dog may have defecated).

Prevention is the key to minimizing the risks to your children:

  • See your veterinarian regularly for stool sample testing and de-worming, especially kittens & puppies
  • Clean up after your pet, disposing of stool and washing your hands thoroughly
  • Keep your pet’s play areas clean
  • Wash hands after playing with your dog or cat
  • Keep children from playing in areas where pets are known to frequent (dog parks & along sidewalks)
  • Cover sandboxes to keep animals away from children’s play areas
  • Don’t let children eat dirt or sand

For more information, or to ask questions, please call us at 317.257.5334 or 317.726.2711

You, Your Cat & Parasites

Cat owners know the joy that these loving creatures bring to our lives. Because cats are independent by nature, they can be easier to care for when it comes to sharing our homes with them. Therefore, it’s important to both you and your cat to keep him or her healthy and free of parasites. Monitoring your cat for any changes in behavior, appetite, and water consumption and regular visits to your veterinarian are necessary to maintaining the well-being of your cat.

It is relatively common for a cat to become infected with an internal or external parasite at some point in his or her lifetime. Parasites can affect your cat in a variety of ways, ranging from a simple irritation to causing life-threatening illnesses if left untreated. All parasites, particularly internal parasites (worms), can carry and transmit diseases to people. By having your pet tested for parasites semi-annually, you can protect your cat and your family from these potentially harmful parasites all year long.

Parasite Control Recommendations for Cats

The use of year-round heartworm and broad-spectrum parasite medications, as well as appropriate flea and/or tick products, is the foundation of an effective parasite control program for your cat. In addition, the following steps can be part of a proactive program to help keep your cat healthy and parasite-free:

• Have your cat examined semi-annually by your veterinarian and include a complete history.
• Provide pets cooked or prepared food (not raw meat) and fresh, potable water.
• Conduct fecal examinations 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times each year for adults, depending on the pet’s health and lifestyle factors.
• Administer dewormers biweekly to kittens from 3 to 9 weeks of age, followed by monthly treatments as a preventive.
• Also deworm nursing mothers (queens) along with their kittens.

Roundworms in Cats
Roundworms are the most common of the parasitic worms found inside a cat. Almost all cats become infected with them at some time in their lives, usually as kittens. Roundworms may be contracted in different ways, making them easy to spread and hard to control. Your cat may take in (ingest) infective roundworm eggs from the area where it lives or by eating mice or other small animals (“hosts”) carrying young worms (larvae). Infection in kittens may occur through the mother’s milk.

How will roundworms affect my cat?
Adult roundworms live in the affected cat’s intestines. Most cats will not have signs of infection; however, cats with major roundworm infections commonly show weight loss, dull hair, and a potbellied appearance. The cat may cough if the roundworms move into the lungs. You may notice adult roundworms in your cat’s feces or vomit. They will appear white or light brown in color and may be several inches long often described as spaghetti.

How do I prevent my cat from getting roundworms?
Because roundworms can enter your cat’s body in many different ways, it is essential to keep your cat’s living area clean (regular cleaning of the litter box) and, if possible, prevent your cat from eating wild animals that may carry roundworms. Kittens should be treated for roundworms every 2 weeks between 3 and 9 weeks of age and then receive a preventive treatment monthly. Fecal (stool) examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 or 2 times each year in adults. Nursing mothers (queens) should be kept on monthly preventive and treated along with their kittens.

Can humans be harmed by roundworms?
Roundworms do pose a significant risk to humans. Contact with contaminated soil or feces can result in human ingestion and infection. Roundworm eggs may accumulate in significant numbers in the soil where pets deposit feces. Children should not be allowed to play where animals have passed feces. Individuals who have direct contact with soil that may have been contaminated by cat or dog feces should wear gloves or wash their hands immediately.

Tapeworms in Cats
Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to your cat’s intestines. A tapeworm body consists of multiple parts, or segments, each with its own reproductive organs. Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding segments—which appear as small white worms that may look like grains of rice or seeds—on the rear end of your cat, in your cat’s feces, or where your cat lives and sleeps. There are several different species of tapeworms that may infect your cat, each with stage(s) in a different intermediate (in-between) host, which the cat eats. Some use fleas as the intermediate host; others use small rodents, such as mice and squirrels, as intermediate hosts.

How will tapeworms affect my cat?
Cats rarely show any signs associated with tapeworm infection. Occasionally infection with uncommon tapeworms results in disease, however.

How do I prevent my cat from getting tapeworms?
Try to keep your cat from coming in contact with intermediate hosts that contain tapeworm larvae. Because fleas are an intermediate host for the most common kind of tapeworm, flea control is an essential prevention measure.

Can humans be harmed by tapeworms?
Certain tapeworms found in dogs or cats may cause serious disease in humans. Fortunately, these tapeworms (Echinococcus species) are uncommon in the United States and are readily treated by prescriptions available from your veterinarian. There are rare reports of Dipylidium (a common tapeworm in pets) infections in children, but these infections are not associated with significant disease

Hookworms in Cats
Hookworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive system of your cat. The hookworm attaches to the lining of the intestinal wall and feeds on your cat’s blood. Its eggs are ejected into the digestive tract and pass into the environment through your cat’s feces. Larvae (young hookworms) that hatch from hookworm eggs live in the soil and can infect your cat simply through contact with and penetration of the skin and through eating the hookworm larvae. It is common for hookworms to infect the host through a cat’s belly or feet as well as to be ingested during the cat’s routine licking (cleaning.)

How will hookworms affect my cat?
Hookworms will cause bleeding into the intestinal tract resulting in internal blood loss. They may cause death in young kittens. Blood transfusions may be necessary to keep young animals alive long enough for medications that kill the worms to take effect. Adult cats may also suffer blood loss from hookworms and can have diarrhea and show weight loss.

How do I prevent my cat from getting hookworms?
Similar to steps for prevention of other intestinal parasites, it is essential to keep your cat’s surroundings clean and prevent the cat from being in contaminated areas, if possible. Kittens should be treated for hookworms every 2 weeks between 3 and 9 weeks of age, followed by administration of a monthly treatment. Fecal examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times per year in adults. Nursing mothers should be treated along with their kittens.

Can humans be harmed by hookworms?

Some hookworms of cats can infect humans by penetrating the skin. This is most likely to occur when walking barefoot on the beach or other areas where pets deposit feces. Infection usually results in an itching sensation at the point where the larvae enter the skin and visible tracks on the skin. The condition is easily treated but can cause mild to extreme discomfort in the affected person.

Coccidia in Cats
Coccidia are tiny single-celled parasites that live in the wall of your cat’s intestine. They are found more often in kittens, but they can also infect older cats. Cats become infected by swallowing soil that contains coccidia or other substances in the environment that may contain cat feces Also, it is possible that rodents could eat the coccidia and contract a “resting” stage of the parasite. Cats that are old enough to hunt could then be infected when they hunt and eat these animals. Cats are more likely to get infected with coccidia by this method than dogs are.

How will coccidia affect my cat?
Coccidiosis, the disease caused by coccidia, is usually more serious in kittens but can occur in older cats. The most common sign of coccidiosis is diarrhea. Severe infections, especially in kittens, can kill them.

How do I prevent my cat from getting coccidia?
Coccidial infections can be prevented by cleaning your cat’s litter box regularly and by preventing your cat from hunting. Because coccidia are found most often in kittens, it is important to have kittens examined for the parasite as soon as possible.

Can my dog get coccidia from my cat?
A cat that is infected with coccidia cannot pass the infection to dogs and vice versa. Coccidial infections occur only by swallowing the coccidia in soil or cat feces or by eating intermediate hosts.

If you have any further questions regarding parasites and your cat, please feel free to call us at 317.257.5334 or 317.726.2711 and ask to speak with one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians: Blythe, Lisa, Kristin, Dawn, Lindsay, Darice, Amber or Monica.

De-Stressing Your Pet’s Vacation

It’s almost summer! That means you might be hitting the road for vacation in the very near future. Considering your pet’s needs prior to leaving home can save both time and frustration later.

Got a carsick pooch? “Once a scared pet is actually in the car, the signs of sickness typically start during the first few minutes of the ride,” says Dr. Bill Neumann, one of BRAC’s veterinarians. “Compounding the problem is the fact that some pets prefer to ‘hide and ride’, so they can end up not only sick but stuck under one of the seats.”

To avoid these problems, consider making “practice runs” in your car with your pet. Start out with short rides at first, then let them become gradually longer. At the end of the ride, offer lots of praise and treats, and before long your pet may be begging for a ride in the car. For motion sickness, there is a new medication (Cerenia, made by Pfizer Animal Health) available that alleviates this problem in most pets, without sedating them. If you think your pet might benefit from Cerenia, give us a call at 317.257.5334 and ask to speak with your veterinarian.

Here are ten tips you should keep in mind when traveling with your pet:

  1. Before the trip, take your pet for a check-up with your veterinarian and obtain a health certificate and documentation of vaccinations. A health certificate is especially helpful if there is a problem or health concern and you are traveling in another state.
  2. Your pet’s travel crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. The bottom of the crate should be lined with disposable towels (below the bedding) to absorb any “accidents”.
  3. Try to avoid traveling in extreme weather conditions. If you must travel in hot weather, do not leave your pet unattended in your vehicle. On a 70 degree day, the temperature of your locked car can raise by 40 degrees in minutes!
  4. Bring a couple of jugs of cold water. The water can be used to cool down your pet should your car break down.
  5. Dogs should be given water and exercise during rest stops, but they should never be allowed to run loose at rest areas. No matter how well-trained a dog is, they are experiencing something new and accidents could happen. Cats, birds and all other pets should remain in their carriers until your daily destination is reached, and they are safely indoors.
  6. Under no circumstances should you leave a pet in a parked car. It only takes minutes for a pet to develop heat stroke. If they are accidentally locked in the car, seek immediate emergency assistance.
  7. If you will be flying, remember that most airlines have a limit on the number of pets allowed in the cabin, so be sure to inform your airline when you make your reservation that you’ll be boarding with your pet. Also, ask for the allowable dimensions of your pet’s carrier. If your pet is traveling in the cargo section and you’re traveling in hot weather or to a warm climate, book a night flight. Also, freeze water you provide for your pet so that it will not spill during loading, but will melt by the time your pet is thirsty.
  8. Let the person sitting next to you know that you have a pet with you. He or she may be allergic and need to switch seats with someone else.
  9. If you are planning to stay in a hotel, make arrangements prior to starting your trip. Your pet should be a welcome guest, so be sure you have booked a pet-friendly hotel.
  10. When you arrive at your destination, keep your pet in a calm, quiet area and give him or her plenty of time to adjust to the new environment

Thunderstorm Phobia in Dogs

It’s the great month of May here in Indianapolis….the Indy 500, the Broad Ripple Art Fair…and wicked thunderstorms! Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. In most cases, this fear worsens as the dog gets older. In worst cases, thunder and lightening instill a “flight” response where the dog feels the need to outrun the storm. If your dog suffers from this phobia, it is very important to make sure he or she is indoors when the weather forecasts thunderstorms in your area.

So, what can you do to lessen the effects of thunderstorm phobia? If your dog only reacts to the sound of thunder, you can try behavior modification. Begin by playing a recording of a thunderstorm. Keep the volume low at first and gradually increase the intensity. Reward with treats, as you ask your dog to sit, come, or lie down while the recording is playing. Don’t offer a sympathetic voice while you do this, instead use your normal voice and lots of petting and praise.

Many dogs are reactive to the atmospheric changes that occur before the storm actually hits. In these situations, the dog may not respond to the technique described above. Many dogs need medication in order to get through thunderstorm terror, so please consult with your veterinarian.

There are herbal remedies that have been found to work well. Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic stress relief formula for pets. You can put a few drops in your dogs water when storms are on the way, or give them a few drops orally if you are caught by surprise. You can use Rescue Remedy alone, or pair it with an essential oil such as Peace & Calming. This oil is formulated specifically for anxiety, stress and emotional discomfort. Rub a drop onto your pet’s forehead, or under the chin prior to a storm as an aromatherapy treatment. In addition to these herbal products, a snug-fitting t-shirt or doggie sweater also helps calm many dogs who suffer from thunderstorm phobia.

You can purchase Rescue Remedy and Peace & Calming at Broad Ripple Animal Wellness Center (the corner of Kessler & College Ave.). For more information, or a tailored behavior program to help your dog with this phobia, please contact our behavior team: Dr. Cara Gardner and Brad Phifer, CPDT at the Broad Ripple Animal Wellness Center, 317.726.2711 or via email: and

Helping Hearts Program

Is your pet a BRACpet? Have you recently lost your job due to the economy or lay-offs? Broad Ripple Animal Clinic & Wellness Center wants to help you and your pets in your time of need with our Helping Hearts Program.

If you are a current client of the Broad Ripple Animal Clinic & Wellness Center and your pet has an established/current doctor-patient-client relationship, then your pet is eligible for two months worth of Revolution to prevent Heartworm disease and fleas if you lose your job for any reason. Simply bring us proof of your situation and we will give you two doses of Revolution for each of your pets. It’s our way of giving back during these times of economic uncertainty.

“What is an established/current doctor-patient-client relationship?”

“A current doctor-patient-client relationship means your pet has been examined by one of our veterinarians within the past 12 months. If you aren’t a current client, consider becoming one with a visit to one of our 7 veterinarians. Once you have established a doctor-patient-client relationship with each pet, your pet will be covered if you lose your job within the next 12 months.”

“What would be accepted proof of my situation?”

“A dated letter from your previous employer or your unemployment paperwork would be sufficient proof of your employment situation.”

For more information, contact us directly at 317.257.5334 or 317.726.2711

Canine GDV (Bloat)

Bloat or Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening condition in dogs (mainly large breed dogs). It occurs when the stomach fills with air and gas and it rotates and twists to cut off the entrance and the exit to the stomach. This causes gas and pressure to build within the stomach and can result in death within hours. Even when care is sought immediately, mortality rates and complications can be high. Signs of bloat include retching with the inability to produce any vomit. Salivating is common, but the hallmark is distention of the abdomen like a tight drum.

Risk Factors

The breed with the highest risk for bloat is the Great Dane. In fact, one study showed that the Great Dane has a 40% chance of developing Bloat within their lifetime. Other breeds that are at higher risk are typically large or deep chested dogs. Other factors that increase their risk include:

  • Weight over 100#
  • Feeding daily meals instead of twice a day meals
  • Gulping and rapid eating
  • Family history of bloat
  • Nervous personality or stressful situations
  • Older animals
  • Feeding in elevated bowels (once thought to prevent bloat, but studies have shown it to actually increases the risk of bloat)
  • Diet : if animal fat is listed as one of the 1st four ingredients in the food
  • Feeding a dry dog food exclusively


Treatment involves an emergency surgery to de-rotate the stomach to relieve the pressure and distention. The stomach, once de-rotated, is permanently tacked or sutured to the abdomen wall to prevent the ability of the stomach to move or rotate in the future. Mortality rates and complications can range from 10-100% depending on severity and length of time between occurrence and relieving the pressure. Complications include death of portions of the stomach and spleen requiring removal of these portions, infection, heart arrhythmias, and toxicity (related to bacterial toxins released when the stomach is de-rotated). Costs can easily be several thousand dollars.


Prevention is the best way to treat this disease. Traditionally this has been done at the time of spaying and neutering and an incision is made in the abdomen approximately 8-12 inches long, to gain access to the stomach. It is then preventively tacked to the abdomen wall. This is called a preventative gastropexy and is very successful in preventing bloat. Recently, laparoscopes have been introduced and used as a way to perform these gastropexies in a much less invasive or painful manner. Laparoscopy, as is done in people, involves making an incision about 1/2 inch long to insert a camera into the abdomen. Once inserted, visualization is superior to the traditional “pexy” and the stomach is isolated and pulled to the surface of the abdomen wall where it is tacked in place. When all is done, the incision is about 1-1/2 inches long (it needs to be extended during the tacking procedure), just below the ribs, and just to the right of the mid-line of the abdomen. Pain is markedly reduced and recovery is rapid. Oftentimes, we will perform this procedure on “at risk” breeds when they are 6 months old and being spayed or neutered. However, the procedure can definitely be done on adults as well.

For more information on Laparoscopic Gastropexy, please contact Dr. Bill Neumann or Dr. Dave Lee at 317.257.5334. They will be happy to answer your questions and offer guidance in taking preventative measures for your “at-risk” dog.