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Orphaned Wildlife II

In our last article we discussed assisting orphaned or injured baby rabbits.  While Michigan is home to many different types of birds, such as water fowl, raptors, and more, the most common to live in urban areas are song birds.  You can reference our last article for general wildlife care guidelines and assistance on finding a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area.

In many cases baby song birds need just a little help or none at all.  There is a common myth that if a person handles a baby bird or nest, the parents will reject the baby, this is not true.  If you find a nestling, a young bird with few downy feathers, it can be placed back directly into the nest.  If the baby and the nest both fell out of the tree, but it is intact, you can place the baby back into the nest and put it back into the tree.

If the nest has been destroyed you can create a surrogate nest from a small box or plastic container.  Your new nest needs holes punched into the bottom for drainage, and lined with leaves, paper towels, or cloth.  Place the new nest in the tree, as high as you can safely manage, out of the sun and rain if possible.  Place the baby bird/s in the new nest and leave the area.  If parents do not visit the old or new nest, please contact a rehabilitator.

Fledglings are birds learning to fly, and in the process spend quite a bit of time on the ground as a result.  These little guys will be covered in feathers, like an adult but often have a few downy feathers.  The parents will often fly down to feed and protect the fledgling.  It is not uncommon for the parents to harass people or animals near the fledglings. If the fledgling is acting injured or sick, unable to flap its wings, bleeding, wings drooping unevenly, weak or shivering, please contact a rehabilitator.

While we are mainly discussing baby birds, window strikes by adult birds are also common.  If a bird strikes your window and is unable to fly away, place it in a paper bag or box with air holes.  Keep the bird in a safe, dark place for one to two hours.  The bird will need the help of rehabilitator if it is still unable to fly away within two hours.

Just like our baby rabbits, birds will need a safe container while waiting care of a rehabilitator.  Line the inside of a pet carrier, shoebox, or box with a soft cloth.  If using a box, don’t forget to add a few holes for ventilation.  Wearing gloves, gently transfer the bird to the prepared container.  Until the rehabilitators arrive, keep the bird warm by placing a heating pad under ½ of the box.  This allows the bird a place to cool down, if they become too warm.  If using a pet carrier, place a towel over the door to keep the light low.

To find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, you can contact you local Humane Society, Audubon Society, local animal control, NRWA, and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC).


By Uncategorized No Comments

Orphaned Wildlife

Each spring we see a new generation of young animals beginning to make their way in the world.  Some may still be under their parent’s care or just striking it out on their own.  Being young and naïve in the world, some individuals may find themselves in need of assistance.  The most common young animals found in residential areas, are birds and rabbits.  Today we will discuss rabbits and cover birds in the following article.

There are a few guidelines that must be addressed before we discuss caring for orphaned rabbits, and all wildlife in general.  These are wild animals and even young wildlife can be dangerous, safety is a priority.  Do not attempt to raise and/or care for injured wildlife.  The ultimate goal is to release wildlife back into the wild.  Special feeding and cages are used to allow injured wildlife to build up strength and practice hunting before their release.  Rehabilitators are licensed by the state and/or federal governments, not to mention they have spent many years learning about the animals they care for.  In many states it is illegal to possess a wild animal without a permit. Many wild animals have internal and external parasites that can be transmitted to humans.

Baby rabbits spend the majority of their time without their mother, who only visits the nest at dusk and dawn to protect the nest from predators.  It is very common for good Samaritans to think the rabbit nest has been abandoned or the babies are orphaned.   If a baby rabbit is found outside an intact nest you can place back in the nest and cover it with twigs and leaves.  Rabbits leave the nest when they are able to hop, about 5 inches long, their eyes and ears are open.  If you find a baby rabbit that is injured (bleeding, has puncture wounds, etc.), appears weak, thin, wrinkly baggy skin, or has been in a cat’s mouth, contact a rehabilitator.

If you need to intervene, the first step is to prepare a container for them.  Line the inside of a pet carrier, shoebox, or box with a soft cloth.  If using a box, don’t forget to add a few holes for ventilation.  Wearing gloves, gently transfer the rabbit to the prepared container.  Until the rehabilitators arrive, keep the rabbit warm by placing a heating pad under ½ of the box.  This allows the rabbit a place to cool down, if it becomes too warm.

To find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, you can contact your local Humane Society, Audubon Society, local animal control,  NRWA, and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC).

Not Business as Usual

By Veterinary General No Comments

Not Business as Usual in 2020

As with everyone I talk to, I thought life would be back to normal / business as usual by now – actually, well before now. I’m not a fan of the term “the new normal” and I never will be, but now I’m beginning to wonder if things will ever be “old normal” again.

Like most businesses, the veterinary profession is being affected by Covid-19 and the constant changes in the way we can (and should) do business.  It’s just not possible to social distance when you have multiple people performing treatments on a pet so it’s necessary to wear masks and sanitize all day. We have a fairly small staff and we try to keep our circles tight. When a co-worker has to quarantine due to exposure, it puts a great deal of strain on the daily schedule. Additionally, staff with younger children have to reduce work hours due to on-line schooling. Because of staff shortages, it has become necessary to reduce our hours of operation.

We begin each day by taking our temperature and assessing our health.  Some of us choose our mask as carefully as we do our scrubs for the day. Speaking of masks, can I say that they certainly make communication a struggle?  Not just in person, but even more so on the telephone because they muffle our voice. With the need to speak louder, I go home each evening wondering if my throat is sore because of the mask or because I’m starting to get sick.

To keep our practice open and healthy, we have instituted curbside service. In this day of curbside food pickup and click-it grocery shopping, many of our clients like it – or at least don’t mind it. On the other hand, for many pet owners, handing their best friend over to face the veterinarian alone can be a struggle. I have to say though, I’m pretty impressed with how well your pets have been getting along without their guardians by their side. At times, we rely heavily on our Adaptil bandanas and Feliway spray for our nervous patients.  A dab of peanut butter, cheese, or Churu treats will do the trick for others but with some tender love & care we can get things done pretty efficiently.

Of course, we experience other struggles each day. Perhaps that big dog just won’t come inside or the client didn’t realize she had to call upon arrival or the doctor tries to call the client and they aren’t picking up the phone, etc. The latter is one of the problems that we frequently experience. Our phones are very busy and having five telephone lines, clients may not recognize the number we may be calling from. Then we have the client that thought he was supposed to drop his pet off.  This is probably one our most frustrating events because now we have a staff member pet sitting and unable to help with other services or bringing the next pet in for the doctor to see.

It’s understandable that people are frustrated with all of the changes and implementations in the face of this pandemic. Just when we thought we were nearing the end, new restrictions and guidelines are passed on to us.  We are meant to socialize, gather, eat, and just hang out with our friends and families. Everyone needs a good hug now and then and even that’s frowned upon right now. We are fortunate that as of today, our staff and immediate families have avoided Covid-19 infection. I’d like to think that’s because of the precautions we are taking and we hope and pray that we can continue to stay Covid free. It feels as though, this time around, it’s closer to home than ever.  Several area veterinary practices and Emergency Centers had to close temporarily due to Covid-19 outbreaks. I know the negative impact that has. Veterinarians are busier than ever. With just existing clients, our appointments are booked out over a week. Currently, we can’t even consider taking new clients. We take several calls daily from frustrated pet owners because their vets are booked out even farther. So many pets needing veterinary attention and we just aren’t able to see them all. This is not what we signed up for and it’s not easy for us.

I’m not sure where the next several months will take us. I am concerned about our staff running outside all day as the weather turns cold, the snow and ice is under foot, and the temperature changes from the toasty warm clinic to freezing outdoors will affect the health of our staff. This will be yet another hurdle in the ever-changing business experiences with Covid-19.  I just ask that you continue to be patient with us and know that your babies are in good hands.

Thank you for your trust and confidence and have a safe and healthy holiday season.

Puppy Growls

By Puppies No Comments

The Puppy Growls

Puppies are definitely a favorite part of this job.  We see puppies representing a wide range of personalities; from quiet and shy to bold and fearless.  Puppies are full of potential and with consistent work and dedication, ready to mold into your perfect companion – they just need to be shown the way.

Recently our practice has had quite a few new puppy owners state that their puppy growls when they “insert verb here.”  We most commonly hear that growling occurs when the puppy is picked up so, unless otherwise stated, we are discussing picking puppies up.  However, the training techniques can be applied to other situations as well.

When a young puppy growls, an owner’s reaction can range from putting the puppy down, scolding the puppy, and alpha rolls.  Afterwards some owners avoid the issue all together or take it personal.  If we look at puppy growling as communication, we may have a better understanding. Growling tells us the dog may be mentally or physically uncomfortable with what we are doing.  For a majority of small dogs, being picked up routinely is going to be a fact of life.  Rather than punishing a growl, and risk the chance of the puppy hating being picked up its whole life, ask yourself, “How can I help this puppy enjoy being picked up?”

To begin, prepare a big treat for the puppy. Something that he will need to chew or that may stick to the roof of his mouth.  It can be peanut butter on a spoon, a treat stick, gooey cheese, or a ball of canned food.  Regardless of the treat used, make sure it is something the puppy likes.  Have your treat ready in one hand and using your other hand, pick up the puppy by placing your hand under the puppy’s chest. Be sure the puppy has access to the peanut butter spoon or treat while he is being lifted so that he is being rewarded during the process. When the puppy is done chewing, place him back down.  As the puppy becomes more relaxed about being picked up, you can change the process by picking up the puppy first then giving the treat immediately after.  Soon the puppy will build positive associations with being picked up.

The puppy growls can be easily worked through with equal parts patience, work, and your puppy’s favorite treats.  Using food or favorite treats can change your puppy’s negative reaction into a positive experience.  For adolescent or adult dogs the same training techniques can be applied.  If your dog tries to bite, shows severe anxiety, or suddenly has adverse reactions to a normal routine, you should seek the help of a veterinarian to rule out underlying medical conditions and/or discuss a referral to a Certified Veterinary Behaviorist.

Cold Laser Therapy

By General Health Care No Comments

Cold Laser Therapy


Cold laser therapy is a drug free alternative that relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and promotes healing.  Cold laser uses light to treat damaged tissue in a non-invasive manner.  As a technician moves the probe over the treatment area pets often feel gentle, soothing warmth, and begin to relax.  Even pets with anxiety at the veterinary office grow to love returning for their “spa days.”

Laser therapy works by sending packets of light energy, called photons, deep into tissue.  These photons will stimulate the cells to produce more energy; this process can be compared to a plant using sunlight to produce energy.  Once stimulated by the photons, the damaged cells begin to produce the energy needed to repair itself and/or divide.  This begins a cascade of healing processes including stimulating blood flow and faster collagen production.   The laser will also cause the body to release endorphins, a natural pain reliever.  Studies show that nerve cell regeneration is also stimulated by laser therapy.

All these effects result in pain relief and faster healing for multiple conditions.  Acute injuries (lacerations, sprained muscles, swollen ears, surgical incisions, etc.) can be treated to decrease healing time.  Pets with chronic conditions, such as arthritis, will see pain relief and move around easier.  Other conditions that can be treated include aural hematomas, lick granulomas, burns, skin rashes, stomatitis, and much more.  The laser is so versatile, it is commonly used by professional athletic trainers in the NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA, FIFA, and the Olympics.

The number of treatments needed will vary on the injury or area being treated.  Chronic conditions usually begin with an every other day treatment schedule and slowly increase the time between visits.  The goal is to find the best maintenance schedule for the pet.  During a treatment, a technician will move the probe over the treatment area.  Even though the laser does not produce heat, a pet with a dark coat can feel warm to the touch.  This is similar to wearing a black t-shirt on a sunny day, dark colors absorb more light from the sun causing the shirt to warm up.

Cold laser therapy is a great technology that provides a drug free alternative to reduce pain, inflammation, and speed the healing process.  Our patients respond well and truly enjoy their therapy sessions.  Owners enjoy seeing their pets heal faster and feel better.  It’s rewarding to see our patient’s response to laser sessions.



Veterinary General is located in Shelby Township, Michigan.  We offer traditional and alternative therapies such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbals, and Cold Laser Therapy. More information can be found at        

Chocolate Ingestion

By Holiday No Comments

Chocolate Season is Upon Us


Evidently there IS a “Chocolate Season” and Halloween is where it begins.  Several holidays involve chocolate. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, are holidays when we commonly give, receive, or simply have candy dishes filled with chocolate.   As Halloween approaches, veterinarians everywhere prepare for the start of “Chocolate Season.”  Chocolate is in such abundant supply some dogs can’t resist the temptation and may find or steal chocolate.

Eating a piece of chocolate does not mean your pet is in a life-threatening situation.  Three factors will determine whether a dog will get ill or not.  The type of chocolate eaten, the amount consumed, and the weight of your dog all play a factor.  Different varieties of chocolate contain different amounts of cocoa and theobromine, the toxic ingredient in chocolate.  Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa, so a dog will need to eat less of it to cause problems.  A large dog and a small dog can eat the same amount of chocolate however; the small dog is more likely to become ill.

As the toxins are processed, multiple body systems are affected.  Vomiting and diarrhea are generally the first symptoms, often occurring 2-4 hours after ingestion.  In advanced stages a dog may be stiff, hyperactive, experience seizures, and have over exaggerated responses.  Internally a dog can experience an increase in respiratory and heart rates, and low blood pressure.  Toxic doses without treatment can lead to cardiac failure, coma, even death.

If your dog ingests chocolate you should call your veterinarian, an animal emergency hospital, or Animal Poison Control right away.  Be ready with your dog’s weight, type of chocolate ingested (baker’s, dark, or milk), and amount of chocolate eaten.  If you do not know the amount your dog ate, we commonly round up the amount of the full size package for safer calculation.  We would approximate higher for things such as an Easter bunny partially eaten by child when the dog gets a hold of the rest of the bunny.  Treatment of chocolate ingestion is based upon the dose eaten by the dog and the symptoms shown.  Advanced toxicity cases require hospitalization for IV fluids, injections, and blood work.

The most common scenarios of dogs getting into chocolate is from counters, sniffing out a child’s stash of candy in their room, and eating out of the garbage.  Candy dishes should always be on high tables beyond the dog’s reach.  Talk to children about where to put their candy away.  Under the bed maybe a safe place to hide candy from a sibling, but it’s not safe from the family dog.

Veterinary General is located in Shelby Township, Michigan.  We offer traditional and alternative therapies such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbals, and Cold Laser Therapy. More information can be found at        


Cherry Eye

By Medical Conditions No Comments

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is the common name for a prolapsed gland of the third eyelid.  The eyes contain a series of glands with the purpose of lubricating the eye.  This continual flushing keeps the eye clean by rinsing off surface debris.  One of the glands that helps keep the eye moist is the third eyelid gland (nictitating membrane).  This gland sits below the eye and points towards the nose. It produces up to 50% of the eye’s tears.

The third eyelid gland is held in place by fibrous connective tissue.  If the fibrous attachment is weak it predisposes the gland to prolapse, or simply, fall out of place.  When the gland prolapses a red mass is seen protruding from the inner corner of the eye, hence the name cherry eye.  One or both eyes may prolapse, and if it occurs in one eye the unaffected eye may prolapse later.  In addition to the gland protruding, dogs may experience an overflow of tears onto the face, red eye, and/or eyelid spasms.

Certain breeds more prone to cherry eye include Beagles, English Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, and other purebred or mixed dogs with droopy eyes, such as hounds.  If congenital in nature, prolapse usually occurs anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of age in dogs.  The cause of cherry eyes in dogs over 2 years of age, may include trauma or even more serious – tumors that may be pushing the gland out of place.

Historically, the treatment for cherry eye involved surgically removing the prolapsed glands.  This procedure was used before the full significance of the gland was realized.  When surgically removed, dogs may be predisposed to develop keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) later in life.   Today veterinarians prefer surgical correction. This procedure re-positions the gland into its normal position and is sutured in place.  After surgery a topical anti-inflammatory and elizabethan collar are sent home.  The collar prevents the patient from rubbing or scratching the eye, which can disrupt the sutures causing prolapse to reoccur and/or corneal ulcers.

Prognosis for dogs undergoing surgery is good, with only a 5-20% chance of relapse.  Cherry eye can be scary in appearance, especially if you have never seen it, but it is not a medical emergency.  Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian within a day or two.


Internet Medicine

By General Health Care No Comments


The internet is a great tool that has revolutionized the world.  In veterinary medicine it’s just that  much easier to share information with each other and our clients.  However, the internet can also be misleading and a source of incorrect information.  This article will look at the common ways pet owners use the internet when making medical decisions for their pets.

Making a diagnosis is much like putting together a puzzle and every piece counts!  History, symptoms, breed, age, current medications and diagnostic tests are all pieces that form the complete picture of the pet’s health.  When using the internet, “Dr. Google” as we affectionately call it, pieces of the puzzle are missing.  This can lead owners to panic over a potential disease or focus on a disease that could already be ruled out.  During research if a disease reminds you of your pet’s condition, mention it to your veterinarian.  If it has not already been ruled it out, they may offer treatment, or tests to aid in diagnosis.

Over the counter medication is another common internet search.  Prescribing medication is also like diagnosing, and an internet search may not tell you side effects of over the counter remedies or how they will interact with your pet’s current medication.  When we were growing up it was not uncommon for us to give our dogs some Pepto-Bismol when they had loose stools.  We would call our dog savvy friends for a dose and that was that.  Now we are the dog savvy friends, and we always say no to Pepto!  Pepto has been reformulated to help with stomach cramps, so today’s Pepto contains aspirin.  Aspirin can interact with pain medications and other medications such as steroids which increases the risk of side effects.

When researching on the internet, look for sources that are backed by research.  Some authors will state an opinion as if it is a fact, while others are so biased that they can completely omit information.  Look at the sources – articles written by veterinarians, published in peer review journals, websites from universities (.edu), government (.gov), or research organizations (.org).  These sources will be backed by scientific research and are similar to the guidelines used when writing college papers.  If the sites you find do not meet those requirements, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad source but keep in mind some sites present opinion based as fact, have incorrect or outdated information, or can be biased.

The internet can be a great tool in helping us make informed decisions for our pets.  We can research topics at our own pace, connect with others who have pets with similar illness, and share our stories so others may learn from our experiences.  But, keep in mind, for all the good the internet does, there is bad as well.

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”     ~ Daniel Patrick Moynihan



Veterinary General is located in Shelby Township, Michigan.  We offer traditional and alternative therapies such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbals, and Cold Laser Therapy.  More information can be found at        

The Mouse and the Lion

By Veterinary General One Comment

The Mouse and the Lion – Aesop’s Tale

When we were growing up, most of us heard or read Aesop’s tale of The Mouse and the Lion.  Versions of the story vary between a man (Androcles) or a mouse pulling a thorn from a Lion’s paw.  The lion is in such pain that he goes to extremes to take care of the mouse after the thorn is removed.  In veterinary medicine, sometimes we get to play the role of the mouse.

Once upon a time, we had Lexi, a mix breed dog, present to us with a bleeding paw after running in a field.  After a brief exam it was determined there was a wound on the underside of her paw.  During the examination of the paw we found a stick lodged in her paw.  The stick was so long it was pushing up on the skin on top of her foot, just short of going completely through.  Due to her high level of discomfort, Lexi was anesthetized to remove the stick.  Using forceps, Dr Barta carefully removed the stick via the entrance wound.  The stick was a half centimeter in diameter and 5 centimeters long (about the same length as a pink eraser).

Lexi’s wound was thoroughly cleaned, flushed and treated with cold laser therapy.  She was sent home with a bandage on her paw, oral antibiotics and pain medication.  After only 6 days of wearing her bandage the wound looked great and the bandage was no longer needed.

Our second lion in our series is Duke.  While Duke was visiting family he began limping on his right rear leg.  His owner thought he could feel a stick in his paw.  During the exam we found a wound on the underside of the paw.  Unlike the stick in Lexi’s paw, this object was thin enough to move – making isolation difficult.  Using a local anesthetic, Dr Barta was able to make a small incision and pull a thorn out.  The thorn was about an inch long, but very slender.  Duke went home with antibiotics and recovered well.

It is not often that veterinary medicine can be compared to a classic fable, but in these cases, we were able to play “hero” and save the day.  Our patients felt the relief of the thorn being removed just as the lion did.  They may not feel the same affection towards us as the lion felt toward the mouse but seeing our patients leave our office feeling better is all we can ask for!

Hot Spots

By Medical Conditions No Comments

Hot Spots

The hot, humid summer months can bring fun in the sun for our pets, but they can also bring seasonal medical concerns.  During this time of year, we see an increase in the number of pets suffering from hot spots.  Hot spots are patches of red, moist, itchy, painful, and often hairless patches of skin.  Hot spots (acute moist dermatitis) are skin infections affecting the superficial layer of skin. They generally heal rapidly and often heal without scarring.  Hot spots can occur very fast and are suspected to be caused by self trauma.  One example of self-trauma is a hot spot below an infected ear.  The pet has scratched around the ear, damaging the protective layer, and allowing an infection to form.

While hot spots can occur at any time they are most commonly seen during the hot, moist summer months through early fall.  Breeds most affected by hot spots are heavy coated, water loving breeds such as the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, and German Shepherd Dog.

Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and history described by owners.  A thorough exam is done to rule out underlying causes such as skin parasites (fleas, ticks, etc.), allergies, or infections.  We begin treatment right away by clipping hair both in and around the lesion.  For large or especially painful regions sedation may be necessary.  After the hair is removed the technicians will gently clean the lesion with wound cleanser.

Treatment at home depends on severity of the lesion/s and location.  Elizabethan collars, (cone collars), are often sent home to prevent licking or chewing which can further traumatize the lesion.  Your veterinarian may send home oral antibiotics, and/or steroids to treat the skin infection and inflammation.  Cleaning of the lesions daily is recommended to speed the healing process – often followed by a topical medication such as a cream, ointment, or powder.  It is important to wash your hands after cleaning and treating a hot spot to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Pets suffering from hot spots recover quickly with treatment.  However relapse is common depending on the underlying cause.  Hot spots are not a medical emergency, but they should be addressed by a veterinarian quickly.  The lesions are painful and advance quickly with persistent scratching and /or chewing.