Pet Anxiety

Elizabeth Rogers, DVM  cat_anxious_cropped

It is storm season again. Your cat or dog may be anxious or fearful.  Types of anxiety include: separation anxiety, storm and noise phobia, or aggression (directed at humans and/or other dogs). Short-term stress response is considered healthy and necessary behaviors, allowing dogs and cats to be alert and take action (e.g.  retreating from a stranger, scary sound, another dog/cat). These responses become an issue if they are prolonged such as every thunderstorm or every time that the owner leaves the house.

Common symptoms      

  • Urinating and defecating inappropriately
  • Barking and howling
  • Chewing, digging, and destruction, such as chewing on-objects, door frames, doors, or doorways
  • Self-trauma, such as broken nails, broken teeth, ulcer on the forelimb (self induced), or cut or scraped paws
  • Escaping- breaking windows, doors, or tearing holes in walls through sheet rock
  • Pacing/vigilance- back and forth or circling
  • Coprophagia (eating own feces)
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Change in appetite/only eats at home or with owner present
  • Looking away from threat/hiding
  • Body language/response signs of anxiety
    • Excessive licking, lip licking, or yawning
    • Ears back
    • Panting/drooling
    • Crying/whining
    • Shaking/tail tucking


Reasons for Anxiety

  • Change of guardian or family
  • Change in schedule
  • Change of residence
  • Change in family
    • Losing a family member
    • Losing of other pet
    • Adding a new family member
    • Adding a new pet
  • Weather change
    • Thunderstorms
    • Tornados
    • Hail
  • Medical issues to rule out first
    • Medical reasons for house soiling
      • Urinary tract infection
      • Hormone dependent incontinence
      • Bladder stones
      • Diabetes mellitus
      • Kidney failure
      • Liver disease
      • Cushing’s disease
    • Medications that cause frequent urination/house soiling
      • Steroids
      • Lasix
    • Other behavior problems to rule out
      • Submissive or excitement urination
      • Incomplete housetraining
      • Urine marking
      • Destructive chewing or digging
      • Boredom/lack of mental stimulation
      • Excessive barking/howling

What NOT to do when these happen

  • Do NOT scold
  • Do NOT punish


** Your dog is doing these behaviors due to stress/anxiety and their attempt to cope with stress/anxiety. Punishing your pet just escalates the anxiety/stress.

Treatment Recommendations

Treatment recommendations depend on the underlying cause of the anxiety.  I recommend contacting your regular DVM and making an appointment to discuss treatment options.Anxious dogs

  • Thundershirt
  • Adaptil – pheromone collar
  • Medications for anxiety
  • Desensitization training
  • Counterconditioning
  • Providing enrichment activities
  • Crate training
  • Referral to a veterinary behaviorist

Storm Preparedness

Elizabeth Rogers, DVM

It is that time of year again. Tornados, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, severe weather, and fires – oh my! They can be devastating in nature. No one is exempt from the possibility of being personally affected.  It is a good idea to have a plan in place in case of disaster. Here are some tips to get ready.

Getting started:

  1. Identification
  • Make sure that cats and dogs are wearing collars with identification tags and current rabies tag.
  • Identification tags should include your pet’s name and your cell phone number
  • Make sure that your pet is microchipped. You will increase your chances of being reunited with your pet if it is microchipped.
  • Make sure that your pet’s microchip is registered in your name.


  1. Assemble Evacuation Kit
  • 2 weeks supply of food – dry and canned
  • 2 weeks supply of water- in plastic jugs with secure lids
  • Batteries- flashlight and radio
  • Cage/carrier- one for each pet with your contact information
  • Can opener
  • Cat/wildlife gloves
  • Copies of veterinary records (including vaccine records and rabies certificate) and proof of ownership
  • Emergency contact list
  • Favorite toys, treats or blanket
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Pet’s medications
  • Leash and collar/harness
  • Litter, litter pan, and litter scoop
  • Map of evacuation routes
  • Muzzle for dog or cat
  • Paper litter or bedding for rabbits
  • Food and water dishes
  • Paper towels
  • Radio
  • Spoon
  • Trash bags


  1. Find a safe place to stay ahead of time
    1. Pet Friendly Hotel Accommodations
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      8. AAA members- Pet Friendly Travel Guide
    2. Make arrangements with friends or relatives.
  • Consider boarding at a kennel or veterinarian’s office.


After the Disaster

  • Keep your pets secured on a leash or in a carrier or inside your house
  • Do not allow your pets to roam loose.
  • Try to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible.
  • Remain calm. Your pet may have increased anxiety because of your anxiety.
  • Contact your veterinarian if your pet is anxious.
  • Consider a thundershirt for your cat or dog to help ease anxiety.

Dental Disease

Elizabeth Rogers, DVM

Good oral health is an important part of good general health for your pet.  Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs and is entirely preventable.  Peridontal disease begins as bacteria in the mouth forms plaque on the surfaces of the teeth.  Saliva hardens the plaque into dental tartar which becomes firmly attached to the teeth. The tartar that is seen visually above the gumline is not the cause of the disease; the plaque and calculus under the gumline traps bacteria that secretes toxins that create tissue damage when left untreated.  Untreated dental disease can potentially lead to damaged teeth and peripheral organs (heart, kidneys, and liver). In people, periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease and diabetes mellitus.

Signs of oral health and dental disease in dogs and cats

·         Bad breath

·         Loose teeth

·         Discolored teeth or teeth covered in tartar

·         Mouth pain or pet will not allow you to touch their mouth area

·         Drooling or dropping food from the mouth

·         Bleeding from the mouth

·         Loss of appetite or weight loss

Signs of oral health and dental disease in rabbits and exotic companion mammals

·         Weight loss

·         Decreased or no appetite

·         Difficulty eating or dropping food out of the mouth

·         Digestive disturbances

·         Changes in fecal size, quantity or appearance

·         Excessive grooming

·         Excessive drooling or salivation

·         Difficulty breathing

·         Excessive tear production

·         Nasal discharge

·         Tooth grinding

·         Bulging of the eye



Dental Care and Prevention

Prevention of the most common oral disease in cats and dogs consists of:

·         Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth- daily is best but it’s not always possible – so several times a week can be effective

·         Dental specific diets

·         Oral rinses

·         Dental specific treats


Prevention of dental disease in rabbits and exotic companion mammals consists of:

DIET – It is obviously not possible to prevent all types of dental disease. Your rabbit should be fed a diet of unlimited grass hay and a good amount and variety of fresh leafy greens daily. Avoid feeding an exclusive diet of commercial pellets. In addition, offer other items to chew upon such as fresh tree branches (from trees that are NOT sprayed with chemicals), untreated wood pieces and unvarnished, unpainted wicker baskets. Providing a healthy diet will ensure adequate wear of all the teeth. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO CONVERT A PET TO A HEALTHY DIET. A natural diet has a myriad of benefits beyond just good teeth; it is literally the foundation for good health.

EXAMINATIONS AT HOME – Be familiar with the appearance of your pet’s teeth. You will only be able to see the incisors, but take a good look at least once a month. Your veterinarian or experienced rabbit friend can help show you how to perform the exam. Report any changes in shape, color or texture of the teeth to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

VETERINARY EXAMINATIONS – As mentioned, your veterinarian should examine your pet at least once a year. Part of a thorough physical examination on a rabbit is a dental exam. Merely examining the front teeth is not sufficient. Cheek teeth may have early disease that will be missed so the entire mouth needs to be examined.

Heart Disease


Elizabeth Rogers, DVM

What is Heart Disease?

Heart or cardiovascular disease is any medical condition of the heart or blood vessels that disrupts the normal function of the heart or vessels ability to deliver oxygenated blood to the patient. Heart disease can be broken down into two categories – congenital (born with it) or acquired (happens later). Examples of congenital disease include PDA or Patent Ductus Arteriosus or Atrial Septal Defect (hole in the heart wall).  Examples of acquired disease include valvular heart disease. Some breeds have inherited heart disease that can be either congenital or acquired.

How do I know if my pet has heart disease?

Patients can vary on symptoms including:

  • exercise intolerance
  • decreased energy level
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing
  • coughing
  • restlessness during sleep
  • fainting
  • cyanosis (blue tinge to mucous membranes and tongue)
  • weight loss or gain

** Some patients do not show these symptoms until the heart disease is more advanced.

Yearly exams allow veterinarians to listen to your pet’s heart to detect presence of heart disease hopefully before symptoms develop. During the exam, the heart is listened to with a stethoscope and a complete physical exam to determine if:

  • Heart sounds- normal or abnormal (heart murmur or turbulent blood flow is present)
  • Heart rate- normal, fast, or slow
  • Heart beat or rhythm of heart – regular or irregular
  • Peripheral pulses- normal or abnormal
  • Color of mucous membranes


If any abnormalities are detected then a cardiac work up would be recommended- labwork, chest radiographs, and EKG. Depending on results, a referral to a veterinary cardiologist may also be recommended for a cardiac ultrasound.

Canine Influenza

Sick dog picture

Elizabeth Rogers, DVM

Within the past month, our local news and radio station reported a new potential outbreak of H3N2 in Austin. Our office has received a few calls regarding this report. I have called the state and local veterinary diagnostic labs and currently they have only diagnosed H3N2 in Austin and some in Houston. No cases are reported here in DFW at this point.  I just wanted to give you information so that you are aware of canine influenza and your options. Please call our office if you have any further questions or concerns.

What is it?

Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs caused by the influenza A virus.  In 2004, the first strain was reported to be the H3N8 and was found at dog tracks with racing greyhounds.  There was another outbreak of canine influenza with a new strain H3N2 in May 2015 in Chicago, Illinois with a few cases in Austin and Houston.  Last week, there was a news report on local news and radio about a possible outbreak of canine influenza with the same strain as Chicago down in Austin and Houston.

Signs of Canine Flu (can look similar to Kennel Cough)

  • Persistent cough
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Fever (often 104-105F)
  • Lethargy
  • Eye Discharge
  • Reduced appetite
  • Most dogs have a mild form of the infection, but some dogs may develop pneumonia and have a more serious course that requires hospitalization.


** Some dogs may show no signs or illness but can shed the virus and infect other dogs.

Risk Factors

  • Increased risk for dogs exposed to other dogs such as:
    • Boarding
    • Doggie Day Care
    • Dog Parks
    • Grooming Salons
    • Dog Sporting Events
    • Animal Shelters
    • Dog Shows
    • Puppy Classes
    • Dog Social Events
  • Almost all dogs regardless of breed or age- extra precautions in puppies, pregnant dogs and elderly dogs


  • Dogs are most contagious during the 2-4 day post infection when virus is shed from nasal secretions.
  • Canine influenza can be spread from dog to dog through the following ways:
    • Air borne virus particles (e.g., through coughing or sneezing)
    • Physical contact with other dogs (e.g., touching noses)
    • Indirect contact from objects (e.g., if a dog touches or plays with toys and food bowls that were touched by infected dogs )
    • Humans can even move the virus between dogs (e.g., owners may spread the virus if they pet an infected dog, or even touch a toy or doorknob that a dog has contacted, and then touch another dog before washing their hands)
  • Infected dogs may not show signs of illness
  • Mortality rate (death) is low (10%<)


  • Can be diagnosed early phase of the illness (less than 3 days) by testing nasal or pharyngeal (throat) swabs.
  • Most accurate test is a blood test with 2 samples – the first collected during the first week of illness and the second collected 10-14 days later.



  • No medication is available to treat canine influenza directly. The illness must simply run its course.
  • Currently we treat canine influenza patients with supportive care and making sure the dog is as comfortable as possible, hydrated, and eating well which help boost the dog’s immune system so it can fight the virus on its own.
  • Dogs that have nasal discharge or pneumonia signs are usually given an antibiotic because they are likely to have a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Some dogs with more severe illness may require hospitalization for intravenous fluids, oxygen, nebulization, and antibiotics.
  • Seek veterinary care at the first signs of a respiratory infection in your dog because early treatment can result in better outcomes.



  • Minimize the spread of canine influenza
    • Keep your dog at home if he or she has signs of a respiratory infection, and contact your veterinarian regarding appropriate care and evaluation.
    • Routinely wash your dog’s food and water bowls and toys with soap and water.
    • Sanitize your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and wash your clothes after coming in contact with a dog that has signs of a respiratory infection.
    • Make sure the professionals you know who provide care for your dog(s) are knowledgeable about canine influenza and are taking appropriate precautions to minimize its spread.
    • Canine influenza does not usually survive in the environment beyond 48 hours and are inactivated or killed by disinfectants.


  • There are 2 vaccines available for both strains- H3N2 and H8N2 are available. Vaccines are proven:
    • To significantly reduce the clinical signs, severity, and spread of canine influenza infection
    • Reduced the incidence and severity of coughing
    • Decreased the overall clinical signs of disease, including ocular and nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, depression, and dyspnea
    • Reduced the days and amount of viral shedding
    • Demonstrated protection against the formation and severity of lung lesions
    • Contains killed virus combined with an adjuvant to enhance the immune response
  • We have both strains of canine influenza vaccines in our hospital. Vaccination protocol recommended is a vaccination of each strain and then boost each vaccine in 2-4 weeks. The H3N2 is $27.00 /vaccine and the H8N2 is $25.76 /vaccine.



National Dog Bite Prevention Week- Guest Blog


We would like to introduce you to a Guest Blogger- Dr. Amanda Florsheim, owner of Veterinary Behavior Solutions*

While dogs may be man’s best friend, the number of dog bites reported in the country has swelled to the level of a public health crisis.  Currently, more than 4.5 million people in the US are bitten by dogs each year.  Of those bites, at least 800,000 require medical attention; 400,000 of those are children.  Children and senior citizens are the most common dog bite victims.  Half of all bites are inflicted by the family dog.  To help reduce these numbers, we need education on both the canine and the human end of the leash.

Aggression in dogs comes from a combination of factors – genetics, early socialization, experience and how people interact with them.  Puppy socialization and continued training using appropriate methods helps dogs learn to respond appropriately in a wide variety of situations.  On the human end of the leash, educating ourselves on dog behavior is just as important.  Unfortunately, there is a wealth of misinformation available on TV, online and from our friends and families.  Understanding why dogs behave the way they do from a scientific perspective is essential in diffusing situations that could lead to a bite. Seek information from reputable sources, such as the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, the American Society of Veterinary Behaviorists and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists.

There is no such thing as an aggressive breed of dog.  While there is a great deal of focus on Pit Bulls and other bully breeds in the media, many reports on breeds involved in bite incidents have been shown to be inaccurate.  Some dogs have been genetically selected for aggressive behaviors, which must be kept in mind, but this does not mean that focusing on these breeds will decrease the risk of bite incidents.  Breed-specific legislation has been shown to be ineffective at reducing bite statistics and several communities that have implemented these have since repealed them.  On the flip side, there is also no such thing as a breed that cannot be aggressive.  Assuming a dog is safe because they are “the right breed” versus monitoring that dog’s behavior and knowing that dog’s history puts everyone around that dog at increased risk.

Reducing dog bites to children is paramount.  Many of us grew up influenced by the Lassie myth – an image of dogs as completely trustworthy and seeking out only the best interest of our children.  Facebook and Instagram pages are loaded with pictures of young children and dogs that most remark are “adorable!” or “too cute!” but are in fact very dangerous situations.  Recently, a client sent a picture of her dog with a generalized anxiety disorder and her 18 month old grandchild toddling over to the dog.  The dog was backed into a corner, diverting her eyes and her body appeared tense.  The client passed along the picture as an example of cute the interaction was but the dog appeared terrified and had nowhere but through the toddler to escape if needed.  As adults, it is our responsibility to set up both our dogs and our children for success when they interact.  Children and dogs should never be left unattended and adults should educate themselves on canine body language that could indicate a dog is uncomfortable in a given situation.

Reducing the incidence of dog bites is everyone’s responsibility.  Prior to approaching a dog and petting them, ask the owner if it is ok.  Monitor dogs on leash for a yellow or red leash – these can be indications that the dog is not comfortable with new people approaching.  If you have a child, do not leave them unattended with a dog, even a dog that you and the child may know quite well.  If you have a puppy, involve them in an appropriate socialization class early on (prior to 16 weeks of age and preferably before 12) so that they get the opportunity to learn about new people, dogs and situations

*Dr. Florsheim attended Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she was selected as a Geraldine R. Dodge Frontiers of Veterinary Medicine Fellow in 2000 and received the Skipper Stephens Award in 2002.  Dr. Florsheim graduated in 2002 from Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and began seeing both behavior and general medicine cases. In 2010,  Dr. Florsheim decided to leave general practice to see behavior and acupuncture cases full time at her Dallas animal behavior practice, Veterinary Behavior Solutions.  She is currently pursuing a non-conforming training program to become board-certified in behavior medicine through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
**If you would like more information, please visit or contact her at 469-236-0066 or  Veterinary Behavior Solutions is located at 2765 E. Trinity Mills Road, #201, Carrollton, TX 75006.

What Day Is It? It Is New Puppy/Kitten Day!

Kitten & Puppy

When it is Spring/Summer season, it means school is almost out and summer vacation is around the corner. It also means new puppies and kittens!  Whether you adopt your new family member from the shelter/rescue group or breeder, it is important to make sure that they are healthy. I recommend a visit to the veterinarian within 24-48 hours post adoption.  The new puppy/kitten check will allow you to have their overall health checked including listening to the heart for a murmur, parasite examination-external and internal, and nutritional consultation. New puppy/kitten exams are great opportunities to discuss flea prevention, heartworm prevention, spay or neuter protocol, and vaccination plan. In addition, new puppy/kitten exams are a great time to discuss any questions or concerns. I recommend formulating a list of questions and concerns that you have about your new puppy/kitten.  If you would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to meet your new family member!      Elizabeth Rogers, DVM