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Hot Spots: What are they and how did my dog get them?

By: Michelle Caldwell Dr. Caldwell


What are hot spots?

“Hot spots,” or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are areas of skin that are weepy, wet, red, and sometimes bloody.  They are caused by over-zealous self-licking and chewing and they can arise quickly.  These areas can be solitary or there may be multiple patches of affected skin.  These lesions hot spotalmost always look worse than they really are.


How did my dog get them?

The most common underlying cause for “hot spots” is an underlying allergy (food or environmental). However, contact with an irritating substance, trauma (i.e. clippers from grooming), or pain in the area from underlying tissues can cause the dog to lick and chew, resulting in a “hot spot.”


What should I do if I think my dog has a hot spot?

Prompt veterinary attention is recommended as these lesions can get larger and are painful if not treated. Your veterinarian will most likely clip and clean the area to allow the wound to dry or “air out.” Sometimes the wound is 101_3579small enough for topical treatment, however in many instances, systemic antibiotics and even corticosteroids are needed to clear up secondary bacterial infection and decrease inflammation. An Elizabethan collar will most likely be recommended as well to prevent further licking/chewing.

Puppy Play


By:  John Crumley, DVMDr. Crumley

I want to socialize my puppy, but I was told not to take him around any other dogs what can I do?

Early socialization is a very important step in the early behavioral development of puppies. Current recommendations are to get puppies into a structured puppy class before 16 weeks of age, but the vaccine and deworming series is not completed until after 16 weeks of age. Since the vaccine series is paramount to prevent terrible diseases, such as parvovirus, this can seem like a “Catch 22” scenario. We want our puppy exposed to the proper social environment, but we don’t want them exposed to disease, right? Well, it can be done and safely.

In the past, veterinarians would always recommend keeping a puppy inside the home and away from other dogs or places dogs have been until the vaccine series was completed, but recent evidence does not support this recommendation. In fact, veterinary behaviorists believe we may be harming a puppy’s early social development by keeping them isolated from other dogs and new people. The current recommendations from veterinary behaviorists is to get puppies into socialization classes before 12 weeks of age.


Our biggest infectious disease concern in Reno is parvoviorus. The vaccines are very effective in preventing the disease, but they must be given in sequence starting around 7 weeks of age until a final puppy vaccine after 16 weeks of age. During the vaccine sequence the immunity builds with each successive vaccination so the risk of infection reduces, but it is complete until after the final puppy vaccine is given after 16 weeks of age.

So, is my puppy going to get parvovirus if I go to puppy classes before 16 weeks of age?

Very unlikely. In the spring of 2013, researchers looked into puppies that were enrolled in puppy classes before 16 weeks of age after receiving at least one vaccination for parvovirus from a veterinarian. More than 200 puppies in four cities were studied and not a single puppy developed parvovirus. So, it appears that puppy classes are safe if your puppy has received at least one vaccine by a veterinarian. We recommend enrolling in puppy classes around 12 weeks of age (after we have given at least one vaccine). We have never documented a puppy getting Puppies playing sick from parvovirus that could be traced to a puppy class here in Reno.

So I can take my puppy anywhere after you give a parvovirus vaccine?

No! There is still parvovirus in our town, so going to places where many dogs have been is a big risk for parvovirus until the vaccine series is complete. Your home, your yard, and puppy classes are safe, but avoid anywhere else many dogs have been to reduce your puppy’s risk.

But I should enrol my puppy in puppy classes?

Yes! At your first puppy vaccine visit, ask your veterinarian about when to get your little one started in classes. In the meantime, get your puppy used to a collar, leash, and harness. Also pug pack start teaching them to sit and stay and work on crate training. All these things will give your little puppy a “leg up” on the future classes!

Bob Baker, DVM   

Dr. Baker

Leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening bacterial disease that can affect animals, as well as humans. In northern Nevada, we have not typically vaccinated against this disease, but it is increasing in frequency.  Northern California is now considered a leptospirosis “hotspot.”
The Leptospira bacteria is typically spread through the urine of infected wildlife or domestic animals.  The bacteria pass into water and soil, where they can survive for months.  When animals come in contact with this contaminated environment, the bacteria can enter the body through broken skin and mucus membranes.  Drinking contaminated water is another source of infection.
Leptospirosis is a very serious disease that can cause liver problems, kidney failure, and death.  It can also be difficult to diagnose.  There is no one perfect test to confirm the disease, although some of the newer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are much better than the older (titer) tests.  The incubation period for leptospirosis is usually between 5 to 14 days.
Early treatment is much more successful than delayed intervention.  Treatment involves antibiotics, fluid therapy, and, in some instances, referral for dialysis.
318619_166854683394618_1910788172_n Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans.  The infected animal’s urine, blood, and tissues are contagious, and humans get lepto if the bacteria enters cuts or broken skin, or if they drink contaminated water.
Leptospirosis is rare here in northern Nevada, but, as mentioned above, northern California is considered a hotspot for the disease, so dogs that travel there definitely run a higher risk of contracting leptospirosis.  To minimize your dog’s risk of exposure:

Avoid exposure to standing water, especially where wildlife or livestock congregate.  Bring your own source of water for your dog to drink.  Vaccinate your dog.  The leptospirosis vaccine is not a core or required vaccine, but we strongly recommend it for dogs that have an exposure risk.  A small dog that lives in an apartment in northern


Nevada does not need to be vaccinated for lepto.  A dog that hunts or has exposure to cattle farms would be at risk and should be vaccinated.  Leptospirosis vaccines have been available for years, but they were not very effective and ran a high risk of side effects, so they became unpopular. With newer technologies, the vaccine is highly effective with less risk of allergic reactions. We recommend the Merial RECOMBITEK 4 vaccine for the best available protection while having a high margin of safety. Initial vaccination requires a booster in 3-4 weeks, followed by annual vaccination to afford the best protection.  Again, not all dogs need to be vaccinated for leptospirosis.  It is a non-core vaccine for a specific population of at-risk dogs. Our doctors are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Dental Month is Back!

That’s right everybody dental month is back ! If your pet comes in for a dental cleaning during the month of February you will receive a $35 discount off the cost of the dental cleaning, and a dental kit (values at around $10).  Spots are limited so please give us a call if you would like to make an appointment. Here is a sample of a before and after picture from one of our dental cleaning.

Pre dental cleaning Post dental cleaning

By Laura Leautier, DVMDr. Laura Leautier

There’s been some recent changes in thinking regarding the best diet for cats. Many of us have free fed our cats dry food their whole lives. But in looking at what cats eat in the wild versus dry food, there’s a huge difference. Cats are carnivores, so they need a lot of protein in their diet (as long as they have normal kidneys). The typical diet of cats is mice and other rodents and birds. But since we don’t have “mouse in a can” diets, we can mimic this by feeding canned food.

When I was in vet school, we learned dry was best — lower in calories and those crunchies can help the teeth! But now many veterinary specialists are thinking the high carbohydrate content of dry food is why we’re seeing obese kitties and a lot of diabetes, chronic vomiting kitties, and other maladies, including bad teeth!

I have seen cats lose weight easily just from changing from dry to canned. It’s kind of like the Atkins diet for cats or the “Catkins diet”: low carbs with moderate to high protein and fat. This type of diet will help preserve muscle mass (which burns calories at rest), keeps them satisfied longer so they don’t feel the need to “graze” all day, seems to stop a lot of the chronic yakking up of food that we often see, and can lead to less urinary issues because they get more water in their diet when they eat canned.

Any type of high quality canned cat food052742177106C should be good for the average cat, because any canned food has less carbs than any dry food available. Whenever we eat carbohydrates, we release insulin to help bring the sugar into our cells. A little insulin is fine, but a lot of insulin release can lower the blood sugar level so the cat feels hungry soon afterwards, and they consume more dry food over the course of the day. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone so if we lower the blood insulin, there’s less rebound hunger, less weight gain, and there’s growing evidence that it results in a lower incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases, like diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

If your cat is having some of these issues, give us a call and we can talk about possible diet changes.


Why is Decon Bad For My Pet?

Tony Luchetti, DMV Dr Luchetti

To explain why Decon is bad for pets, we must first understand how the body stops bleeding.  When a blood vessel (similar to a pipe) breaks, the body tries to repair this break first with cells called platelets.  The platelets are similar to a band-aid.  They adhere to the broken portion of the blood vessel within 5 minutes and temporarily seal the break.  However the platelets need special proteins called clotting factors to permanently seal the break.  Some of these clotting factors require vitamin K to adhere to the platelets, and thus permanently stop the bleeding.

Decon and other so called “anticoagulant rodenticides” work by lowering the levels of vitamin k in the body to levels so low, that a permanent seal can not be formed on broken blood vessels.  Most pets who ingest decon do not show signs of being sick for a few days until their body’s vitamin k reserves are exhausted.  Some signs the pet may then show are bruising of the skin, external bleeding (such as from the nose or blood in the urine), or internal bleeding (which may cause D-CONdifficulty breathing or the pet may just be  “acting more tired”).

If a pet is known to have ingested decon, timely treatment is crucial.  If we can treat a pet before the vitamin k reserves are exhausted (ideally within the first day), treatment is very effective.  Early treatment consists of usually inducing vomiting to remove any residual toxin, and then placing the pet on an oral prescription form of vitamin k (vitamin k1).  The over the counter form of vitamin k is vitamin k3, and unfortunately this form is not readily absorbed when taken orally, and thus is not an appropriate treatment for decon ingestion.

If a pet has already exhausted their vitamin k reserves and is showing signs of bleeding, treatment is more complicated.  Vitamin k1 can take up to 24hrs to start working, so in the pets who are already bleeding, the only way to quickly stop the bleeding is to give them the specialized proteins we discussed above called clotting factors.  These are given intravenously with plasma.  The plasma buys us time for the oral vitamin k1 to kick in.

In conclusion, if your pet has ingested decon, the sooner you can get your pet in for treatment, the better.  Even though your pet may look fine, the vitamin k reserves are slowly becoming diminished.  Once the vitamin k reserves are depleted and your pet starts showing signs of bleeding, treatment becomes much more expensive, and the prognosis worsens.

Dr. Laura Leautier
 What’s the Scoop with Anal Glands ?
Laura Leautier
If you’re a lucky pet owner, you’ve never had to think about your pet’s anal glands.  Maybe you didn’t even know dogs and cats have anal glands.  But if your pet has ever been stressed out and expressed its anal glands, you’ll never forget the smell for as long as you live!  Since cats rarely have anal gland issues, I’ll focus on dogs here.
1029569Anal glands are scent glands located back by your dog’s anus, hence the name.  Every time it defecates, it expresses a small amount of fluid on its feces to “mark” its territory.  The fluid should be gray or tan watery material.  Sometimes, though, it’ll get thicker, and have a hard time exiting the anal gland ducts and get overfilled.  You may notice your dog dragging their bottom across the carpet (also known as the “butt scoot boogie”), licking back there excessively, or you may smell that tell-tale stale fish odor.  These are all signs that your pet is uncomfortable back there, and you’d need to bring him in to get the anal glands expressed.  (We promise we actually clean their butt afterward, but it’ll smell for a bit like we haven’t!)  If the material gets too thick (like dried toothpaste), it won’t flow out of the duct, and the material will actually push out through the skin and cause a big sore back there — an anal gland abscess, which is treated surgically.


It seems our smaller dogs have the most issues, and many come in every month or two to get them expressed.  So if you notice your dog obsessing back there, or scooting his bottom, bring him in, no appointment needed!

How Often Does My Pet Need Bloodwork Done?

Jackie Pulver,  DVM Dr. Jackie Pulver


As veterinarians, there are many times in a pet’s life that blood work is needed.  The first time blood work is usually performed on an animal is when they have their spay or neuter surgery.  We perform blood work at this time to make certain there are no underlying issues that may affect their ability to safely undergo anesthesia.

Golden Retriever puppyIf you pet becomes ill, many times we will advise you to check blood work.  This is to allow us to better find the underlying cause of the change in your pet. Many times the blood work will better allow us to direct treatment by identifying specific issues that need to be addressed either with medication, surgery, or supportive care.

If your pet has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, many times monitoring blood work will need to be performed.  Dogs diagnosed with diabetes, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, seizures, and hypothyroidism will need several visits that include blood work during the diagnosis of theses diseases and in starting them on the appropriate medications. Once these pets are on appropriate doses of their medications, they will only need blood work a few times a year to make sure they continue to be well regulated.  Your vet will let you know the best schedule for your pet. Cats diagnosed with diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease will need several initial visits 99059361-choose-cat-litter-632x475during the diagnosis and starting of their medications.  Once stabilized on their specific medications and treatments,  blood work will only need to be performed a few times yearly for monitoring.  Your vet will let you know the schedule that is best for your pet.

Healthy adult dogs and cats need and annual exam by their vet.  At that time, a physical exam and history of events from the past year will be obtained.  After discussing the physical exam findings with you, your vet will determine if your pet will need any blood work to further monitor their well-being.

foster-cat-and-dogGeriatric pets should have a biannual exam, and they should have blood work performed annually or biannually. This is allowing us to stay abreast of changes in our aging pets, and give appropriate treatments to maintain their comfort in the golden years. Many of our older patients are also on chronic NSAIDS for arthritis, and they need biannual blood work to monitor the kidney and liver function.

Shedding 101

Dr. Baker

                                         Bob Baker, DVM

Everyone that has a pet dog or cat knows that they shed hair.  While this is most often not a problem for the pet, it can be a problem for owners for the aesthetic displeasure of having a “hairy home” or even more serious for those with pet allergies.

Truth be know, most people that are allergic to pets are mostly allergic to the dander, or shed skin proteins rather than the hair itself.  Techniques used to minimize shedding problems are helpful though to people with pet allergies.


There are some dogs and cat breeds that are considered “low shedders.”  There are some dogs that shed smaller amounts of hair continuously like people (yes we shed too!), and certainly we’ve all experienced the seasonal “blowing of coat” where there is fur flying everywhere.  There are also the cats and dogs that develop hair mats, big thick clumps of fur that can grow to enormous proportions.

So how can I manage my pet’s shedding?  Well first of all, there is no magic cure for shedding.  There is no spray or food additive that will stop this naturally occurring condition.  But here is a straightforward plan that will make your world a less hairy place.


  •  Brush your pet.  The more hair that ends up in the brush, the less will end up in the  nvironment.  How often would depend on your pet, use some common sense. There are also different types of brushes and combs for different types of hair coat. Try to make it into a positive enjoyable experience for both of you
  • Feed good quality diet. We at Baring recommend the Hills Diets. 
  • bulldoginbathBathe your dog (and cat) as needed. Bathing helps remove dead hairs, and keeps the remaining coat clean.  Pets will normally shed a great deal during and right after a bath as the dead hairs come loose.  Be sure to use a shampoo for pets, not human shampoos…wrong pH.
  • Have regular checkups. Many diseases can affect the skin and hair coat. Regular visits to your veterinarian will help identify problems early, and provide more effective treatment.
  • Problems: Under no circumstances should there be areas of bald skin during a normal shed.  This is called alopecia, and it is not normal.  If there is a rash, itchiness, or odor from the skin, those problems need to be investigated.  Also, some pets that have very heavy coats, or get matting of the fur, shaving becomes an option.  Be careful of sunburn though!


Why is my Dog Afraid of Thunder and/or Fireworks?

Dr. Crumley

By: John Crumley, DVM

Adverse reactions to thunderstorms and fireworks are understandable since dogs don’t understand the origins of the noises. Loud and foreign noises from overhead are difficult to orient to and can cause panic and anxiety. While many dogs get accustomed to storms, others may become even more sensitive, resulting in additional fear with each exposure. The degree of anxiety is based on a dog’s perception of a threat. When a dog’s response to thunderstorms is extreme, it is considered a phobia.

Dogs may show a variety of anxiety signs during or before a thunderstorm: panting, trembling, hiding, pacing, vocalizing, being destructive, and attempts to escape. Many dogs are found lost after a storm and/or fireworks because they are scared and escaped from a yard or a kennel.

hiding puppy    Dogs may try to hide during a thunderstorm or firework display. This is understandably a normal response. If your dog seems agitated or restless, you may be able to assist by securing a safe haven and help him/her relax during storms. This safe location should be readily available, especially when no one is home. You can try to limit exposure to the overwhelming and fear-evoking elements of a storm or fireworks by closing doors and windows. White noise or music can block out the sounds as well. You can also redirect your dog with obedience exercises and other fun activities (agility or food puzzle toys).

Recordings of thunderstorm sounds may be played and you can associate them with pleasant outcomes. Programs such as Sounds Scary® offer gradual and positive exposure to noises in a non-threatening manner; this method is known as desensitization/counter conditioning. Rehearsing a safe haven routine or redirection strategies while listening to recordings of storm noises will prepare your dog for more imposing threats. Try not to show your own anxiety during storms to avoid making your dog’s anxiety worse. If your dog’s anxiety is minimal and recovery is quick, it may be appropriate for you to ignore the anxious behavior and allow a natural adaptation to storms or fireworks (habituation). Ignoring severe anxiety or extreme displays is not a good idea and may be confusing and could even make the anxiety worse. If the anxiety persists, seems extreme or your pet is at risk for self injury, medications should be considered.

Dogs with severe anxiety may benefit from long-term management wdog-take-ibuprofenith anxiolytic medications plus rapidly-acting anxiolytics that may be given immediately prior to or even during an event. Dogs with a more mild anxiety may require only the rapidly-acting anxiolytics given immediately prior an event.


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