General Health Care


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.

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        

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        

What’s the Scoop on Poop?

By General Health Care No Comments

What’s the Scoop on Poop?


“My dog has diarrhea, loose or soft stools, mucous or blood in feces. What can be the cause?”  Well these are discussions we have daily when we pick up the telephone.  Checking your dog’s stool might be yucky, but noting any changes and reporting them to your veterinarian is an important part of keeping tabs on his overall well-being.  When your dog is healthy, his poop shows it. It can be large, firm and range in shades of brown. A sudden change tells you that something is wrong.

Cleaning up after our dogs is a daily task for most of us, but we tend to not look too closely at what we’re scooping up.  We know that examining your dog’s poop is the last thing you want to do, but be aware that the appearance of his feces can tell you some important things about his health. Changes in your dog’s stool can signal the beginnings of a health problem, and informing your veterinarian can give him or her some inside information about what is going on in your furry friend’s body. Let’s look at some common problems that can show up in your dog’s excrement.


Soft stool or diarrhea is often your first obvious indication that something is amiss with your dog. It doesn’t tell you specifically what is wrong, just that something’s going on. The mildest indication is a stool that looks normal but is a little softer than usual when you pick it up. The other extreme is watery diarrhea, often with a lot of gas. If you can’t clean up after your dog except with paper towels, something is really irritating the intestinal tract.

Depending on how sensitive your dog is, a bout of diarrhea could just mean he got into the trash. If he is otherwise behaving normally without other symptoms, we generally recommend feeding small amounts of cooked white rice and boiled chicken breast for a couple of days to see if he improves. If not, it’s time to set up an appointment to have him checked at the vet’s office. If at any time, abnormal stools is accompanied by a fever (temperature over 102.5°F) or lethargy, your dog needs to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.


If you see your dog straining to have a bowel movement, he is either experiencing diarrhea or constipation. In most cases, constipation arises from a lack of moisture and/or fiber in the diet. Avoid commercial dry pet foods, and make sure your dog is eating a high-quality pet food with fresh whole food ingredients, including fruit and vegetables. It’s also important that your dog has access to fresh water at all times.

If your dog is mischievous or tends to chew up items around the home, constipation could be due to a foreign object blockage. Other serious causes could be a mass in the digestive tract, an injury in the pelvic area, or a reaction to medications. If constipation does not clear up in a few days, even with the addition of moisture or fiber, take your dog to the vet.

Blood and/or Mucus

 Mucus is an indication of inflammation or irritation in the intestinal tract, but isn’t as critical as blood.  If you see blood in your dog’s stool, it also indicates inflammation in the intestines. If the inflammation is at the end of the digestive tract, the blood will be bright red. Black tar-like stools may indicate blood that has been digested.

Giving your dog aspirin or painkillers can cause intestinal bleeding or even ulcers. If you have just started one of these medications and your dog loses his appetite within a week or so, it may also be a sign of a developing ulcer. Stop the medication immediately, especially if there is blood in the stool, and contact your vet. If you don’t, the ulcer may penetrate the intestine, causing damage, and necessitating emergency surgery.

Other causes of blood in the stool can include colitis, IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), intestinal parasites, as well as other serious conditions.

Some dogs experience mucus surrounding their stools, although the stool itself looks healthy. There is still something going on and the problem will often go away if you add a prebiotic and a probiotic to his diet.

Intestinal Parasites

Most times, we won’t see actual worms in the stool. Most parasites stay in the body and shed eggs into the feces. This means your veterinarian will need to perform a microscopic fecal analysis. The younger the dog, the more likely they are to have worms. Contact your veterinarian if you experience any of the following:

  • The most common worm you’ll see in the stool itself is actually just part of a worm – the tapeworm segment. It resembles rice and when fresh it is flat and white, with a blunt front end that will crawl around a little. After it has been exposed to the air for a while, it will dry up and look a little bit like brown rice. Do not expect tapeworms to look like those ugly pictures you might have seen online. While that worm is still inside your dog; it sheds in the stool in tiny segments.
  • Puppies also commonly have roundworms, which look sort of like white spaghetti noodles. These are commonly seen in the stool. If there is severe inflammation, bloody fluid will accompany them.
  • In the case of hookworms or whipworms, you won’t see the worms in the stool. Whipworms will often cause intermittent diarrhea. Your dog might have diarrhea for a day, go back to normal for weeks, have another day of diarrhea, then go back to normal again, etc. If this keeps happening, and there is no other obvious reason for it, take a sample of the diarrhea to the vet.
  • Coccidia and giardia can cause enough irritation to lead to soft stool or diarrhea, often accompanied by some clear mucus and sometimes a little blood. Take the poop to the vet to find out specifically which parasite is causing the problem.

When it comes to poop, there are many characteristics to look at. They include:

  • Stool form
  • Odor
  • Fecal density
  • Stickiness
  • Food digestibility
  • Nutrient absorption
  • Stool bacterial levels
  • Composition
  • Presence of blood
  • Presence of parasites

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

By General Health Care No Comments

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears 

If the thought of cleaning your dog’s ears makes you nervous, taking him to the vet or groomer is always an option.  You could also ask a veterinary technician for an ear cleaning demonstration to help you feel more comfortable but cleaning your dog’s ears at home is easy to do if you have the right supplies and techniques.

Exactly how often you clean the ears depends on your dog. We recommend a light cleaning every 1 to 2 weeks or after swimming/bathing.


  • To get started, you will need cotton balls or gauze and a vet-approved ear cleaner. You can buy ear cleaners from your vet, at pet-supply stores or online. Just be sure to check with your veterinarian before using any product to ensure it’s gentle and safe for your pet.


  • To clean the ears, squeeze a little bit of ear cleaner into the ear and let it drip down into the ear canal. Gently massage the base of the ear to suds up the cleaner. This helps break down wax and debris. Let your dog shake his head (you can lightly drape his head with a towel to keep the cleaner and debris from flying all over).


  • Gently wipe the outer ear flap and inside the ear with a cotton ball or soft cloth. Do not clean ears more than one-half inch into the ear canal. You can use Q-tip to clean the area around the ear flap but DO NOT use Q-tips down in the ear canal! Repeat the cotton ball wiping until your cotton balls come back clean. A quality pet ear cleaner will contain drying agents, so any small amount of cleaner left inside the ear will dry on its own.


  • Observe the condition of your dog’s ear beyond the cleaning limit and report any potential problem or concerns. It’s entirely possible to find a foreign matter, discharge, heavy wax buildup, Hematoma (swelling of ear flap) or even a melanoma (tumor). Discontinue further cleaning if you uncover any serious ear problem, and seek veterinary care.

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

By General Health Care No Comments

When a dog’s nails become too long they interfere with the dog’s gait and as the nails continue to grow, walking will become awkward and painful. Walking on overgrown nails puts pressure on the toe joints. This can eventually affect the joint alignment and cause a future of continual discomfort for your dog. Untrimmed nails can also split resulting in pain, bleeding, and a trip to the veterinarian’s office. In severe cases the nails curl under and grow into the paw pad causing a serious infection. Trimming your dog’s nails regularly will easily prevent these problems.
It is best to start trimming your dog’s nails as soon as possible. If you start early it’s easier to adjust to a routine. Make a habit of handling your puppy’s feet every day. Nail trimming is much easier if your dog doesn’t mind having his feet handled. Adult dogs, like people, are usually set in their ways. So if your dog initially resists getting his nails trimmed you will most likely need to spend more time getting him used to the procedure. Be very patient and don’t rush.

Bring out the clippers ahead of time and let your dog become familiar with them. Stay calm, if you’re nervous, your dog will sense it and associate fear with nail trimming. If your dog is nervous use gentle reassurance, being careful not to coddle. Let her know that you expect her to behave. If you can only manage to get one toenail trimmed that’s all right. Just be persistent and try for another nail at another time. Always remember to reward good behavior with praise and a favorite treat.

Trimming nails is not usually considered sharing “quality time” with your pet. But if done often and properly while rewarding good behavior, it could be an event your dog will tolerate and even look forward to. If not done often with proper technique, and praise and reward- training, it can be frightening and painful for your dog. Once or twice a month is usually a good rule of thumb for nail trimming. Trimming nails is not as hard as it may seem. Start by clipping very small pieces of the nail tip until you can see a dark, round, kind of moist looking disk appear in the middle of the nail. This means you’re approaching the quick and the nail will bleed if you cut it any shorter. With white or clear nails, trim 1/8 of an inch longer than pink area. Dogs that walk on cement or rough surfaces can wear down their nails, but most dogs need some help. You will get to know how fast your dog’s nails grow if you routinely inspect them. Even if you aren’t actually trimming them, regular inspection will help assure that your dog’s feet stay healthy. So make nail inspection and trimming an important part of your dog’s routine.

Dog nail trimming is not painful if you use a sharp trimmer and don’t clip too short. A dull trimmer puts pressure on the nail and can result in an uncomfortable pinching sensation.

It’s a good idea to have styptic powder on hand for those occasional mishaps. A nail clipped just a little too short tends to bleed a lot. Applying styptic powder will help stop the bleeding. If you do not have styptic powder, you can use baking flour. Packing this on the nail and allowing your dog to rest can stop the bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop, contact your veterinarian.

Nail trimming is a regular home grooming task that helps keep your dog healthy and active. As with most dog grooming tasks, rewarding for positive behavior is an important part in the acceptance and tolerance of the activity. Learning the tricks to proper nail trimming, training with positive feedback, and showing patience and love will make the time you spend together a reward in itself.