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By General Health Care, Preventive Health, Puppies No Comments


 What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet Insurance is a health insurance policy for your pet. Like most insurance, you pay a monthly premium for a plan chosen by you for your pet.

VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance), more recently known and acquired by Nationwide, was the first veterinary pet insurance company in the country. It was started by a couple of veterinarians in the early 80’s.  Today, there are many pet insurance companies so you will want to do some research before making your decision.

Some insurance plans will strictly cover accidents/injuries and illnesses while others may offer policies the cover wellness and prevention vet visits.

Why Get Pet Insurance?

It’s obvious that our pets are our family and we love them just as much. As part of our family, we choose their diets wisely, buy them Christmas gifts and even birthday treats. Having pet insurance allows us to choose their medical care based on the best medical option versus our finances or what we are able to afford.

We can’t predict the future. Dogs eat socks, underwear, chicken bones – they run, jump, chase squirrels. Cats actually eat things they’re not supposed to as well.  I’ve seen foreign body obstructions in cats consisting of pacifier nipples, rubber door-stop tips, hair ties, toothpaste caps, dental floss – the list goes on.  When we think about a $1500+ veterinary emergency visit being a “deal breaker”, it’s heartbreaking.

Waiting to get pet insurance when a pet is sick or injured will result in a pre-existing condition and will not be covered by your policy. Pet insurance is something that should be considered when a new pet is brought home. In fact, one veterinary pet insurance company, Trupanion, offers 30 days of free coverage immediately after your first veterinary visit – no strings attached.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Like human medical insurance, pet insurance plans may have premiums, deductibles and co-pays. It’s not necessary to ask your vet if they “accept” your insurance because it is a reimbursement program. You are able to visit any licensed veterinarian in the country.  What this means is, you pay for your pet’s care, get a copy of the bill and medical record and submit it for reimbursement.

How Much is Pet Insurance?

The cost of pet insurance premiums depends on your pet, the area you live in, and the plan you choose.  Dogs generally cost more to insure than cats, certain breeds cost more because they are prone to more health issues. Younger pets will cost less because there are usually minimal health issues.

In Short…

We can plan for the costs of routine annual vaccines and preventatives for our pets.  These costs do not come as a surprise.  In the case of an accident, injury, or illness, you will be happy you chose to insure your pet and the premiums you paid will be well worth it. Most of us know our finances and whether we are able to keep an emergency fund for minor unexpected vet bills, but opting to purchase pet insurance for catastrophic care will help make medical decisions easier – at least financially.  And, we can choose a deductible that we know we can afford.


By Safety No Comments

Heat Stroke

Swimming, camping, hiking, and cook outs are just some of the outdoor activities we do in July.  When you’re a dog lover, your dogs get to partake in the summer fun with the family.  All the activity is good for our dogs however; July also means hot temperatures and high humidity.  This combination can lead to heat stroke.  Heat stroke, if not treated properly, can be fatal.

Heat stroke is when the body’s temperature is too high.  Dogs cool themselves off primarily by panting.  As they pant, moisture evaporates from their tongue and causes the blood to cool.  If the evaporation process is impaired – or not enough to compensate for the high temperatures, we can see an increase in body temperature.  High humidity can impair the evaporation process as well.  Brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs, are prone to heat stroke because they have less physical space for evaporation to occur.

Symptoms of heat stroke include heavy panting and difficulty breathing.  The dog’s tongue, gums, and other mucous membranes will appear bright to dark red.  As their temperature increases, we can see drooling, vomiting, and/or bloody diarrhea.  Dogs will often appear unsteady on their feet and even collapse.  In extreme or untreated cases blood clotting factors can break down, swelling in the brain, shock, seizures, and even death can occur.  A body temperature over 104 degrees will require emergency treatment.

If you suspect heat stroke, begin cooling your dog, and take them to the veterinarian immediately.  Run cool, not cold, water over your dog concentrating on areas like the head, neck, and under the limbs.  Take your dog’s temperature every few minutes until their temperature drops to 103 degrees.  At 103, stop the cooling process to prevent hypothermia.  On the trip to the veterinarian’s office turn on the car’s air conditioner, or roll down the windows to increase air flow over your dog.  At the veterinarian’s office, test may be run to assess any potential damage to internal organ function.

Heat stroke is preventable.  Exercise your dog during the cooler parts of the day, provide plenty of fresh water, and shade.  Don’t over exercise your dog.  Even after dark, heat stroke can occur.  Avoid hot pavement and asphalt as it can burn paw pads.  Smaller dogs that are low to the ground can overheat more quickly.  Leaving dogs in the car, even with the windows down, is unacceptable and a major cause of heat stroke in dogs.

Veterinary General is located in Shelby Township, Michigan.  We offer traditional and alternative therapies.  More information can be found at



By Uncategorized No Comments

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