Category Archives: Health and Fitness


Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM


An unplanned breeding between sexually intact dogs during a time when the bitch could be fertile (in estrus). Sometimes it is hard to tell if the breeding actually occurred (dogs were found together, unsupervised) or if possible (sexually immature dog). It is also difficult to tell in some cases whether the bitch was at a likely fertile time of her cycle.  


  1. Spay: if the bitch is not intended for breeding, plan to have her spayed as soon as she is out of estrus. This is the easiest and least cost option of pregnancy prevention.
  1. Early treatment: if the timing seemed appropriate and fertility is likely, we can terminate the litter in the first 2-3 weeks. This involves injections of a compound twice per day for four consecutive days. The time when this treatment starts is crucial for success and an exam within one week of the mismating is needed to schedule these treatments. In some cases a second exam is needed to accurately determine when to do this treatment. The advantage of this treatment: relatively easy, lower cost than mid-term abortion. The possible negatives: not guaranteed to work (about 80% effective), owners must bring in female for the injections twice per day and each treatment takes about one hour. Then they must return for follow up ultrasound 30 days after the breeding. In addition: the medication used for this procedure is Lutalyse: a natural prostaglandin. Each injection can cause nausea and irritability for approximately 30 minutes.
  1. Mid-term abortion: 30 days after the breeding, we will do an ultrasound exam to determine if there is a pregnancy. At that time medications can be given to cause the uterine contents to abort. This takes 4-10 days of treatment. The advantage: we are only treating when we know there is a pregnancy and we treat to effect-until all fetuses are expelled. The negative: nausea and irritability with each treatment–although tolerance to the medication usually develops over the treatment period.

Note: There is no negative impact on fertility with option #2 or #3. We can see a return to estrus sooner than expected. She can be bred at that next cycle, or it can be skipped.


Bones Make Vet Bills

Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM

“Dietary Indiscretion” is a term veterinarians use to describe the domestic dog’s habit of eating something that results in indigestion. This includes a long list of unpleasant things dogs will eat I don’t need to mention here, but it unfortunately also includes things given to dogs by their well-meaning owners that get eaten and cause problems. Sometimes just mild indigestion, but sometimes serious esophageal damage, stomach perforation or bowel obstruction that can result in hospitalization, surgery and even death.

The best rule of thumb is not to give your dog anything to chew that it can eat. Large bones get chewed into chunks that get swallowed. Rawhide is chewed soft and swallowed. Pig ears, horse and cattle hooves, antlers, bull penis bones, chicken feet (!) all can cause digestive upset. Many of these items are manufactured outside of the USA, or from parts originating outside of the USA and have been found to contain toxic ingredients. Just think how the Chinese laugh while manufacturing these things Americans buy for their dogs.

If you insist on giving your dog something to chew, supervise the chewing and take it away before it can be swallowed. Realize that dogs also break their teeth (usually the large upper carnassial tooth) chewing on bones or hard toys like Nylabones, even if they cannot swallow them.

Of course, they LOVE these chew toys. But that doesn’t mean they should have them. Great substitutes for bones that I have found to work with my Labradors (major chewers!) include the Nylabone Durachew double action dental chew, the Spot Play Strong Rubber Stick Dog Toy or the Spot Play Strong Rubber Trident Dog Toy. Obtain a large enough version of the toy that it cannot be swallowed. Better yet, take your dog for a walk!


Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM

Heartworm prevention is advised now in all 50 states in the USA for both dogs and cats. The incidence of heartworm varies by geography, and can be seen on a great website about animal parasites, produced and updated by the Companion Animal Parasite Council.

Tulare County is listed as having a low incidence of heartworm disease, but it is present, especially in the foothills. We have the vector (mosquito) and we have reservoirs (coyotes, infected dogs). The mosquito crop is particularly robust this year because of the rain! Mosquitos ingest heartworm microfilaria when they get a blood meal from a dog, then infect the next dog with immature heartworms.

Many prescription heartworm preventatives are on the market, manufactured specifically for dogs and FDA approved. The products I like best are given orally once a month, and are flavored such that dogs readily gobble them. In fact, the packages need to be kept out of their reach! The best products combine ingredients that prevent both heartworms and common, insidious intestinal parasites like roundworms (which are dangerous to people). Some prevent fleas as well. These drugs should be given with the guidance of the prescribing veterinarian, because they are drugs and are not always innocuous. Some breeds of dogs are best treated with certain drugs.

I give my dogs preventative year around. I don’t want to worry about exposure to infected mosquitos at any time, and I’ve seen mosquitos in Three Rivers almost year around. If I travel, I don’t want to worry about getting the dogs restarted on preventative in time. It is easier to remember it on the first of every month. Even indoor cats have been reported to have contracted heartworms. Roundworms can be contracted year-round.

The CAPC advises annual heartworm testing even for dogs on preventative. Why is this? Two main reasons: 1. No drug is 100% effective. 2. If heartworm infection is diagnosed early, it can be treated before serious consequences (lung and heart disease) occur. Untreated heartworm infection can be lethal. Additionally, the dog is exposing other dogs via mosquito bites.

The older drugs used for heartworm prevention could cause serious problems if given to dogs already infected; this is no longer the case, but dogs should still be tested to assure they are clear before starting preventative (if they are 6 month of age or older), and ideally 6 months later (in case they were infected with larval heartworm when the test was first performed). (The most accurate heartworm test used today looks for adult heartworms, not larvae.) If your veterinarian follows the guidance of CAPC they will advise annual testing. Many veterinarians will not REQUIRE it to refill the preventative prescription, but they feel obligated to educated clients that it is advised. You maybe asked to sign a waiver if you choose not to test, that way the veterinarian cannot be accused of malpractice.

In order to get a prescription for heartworm prevention, your dog must be a current patient of a veterinarian. The California Veterinary Medical Board requires veterinarians to have examined a pet and recorded the findings of that exam within a year, to establish the “veterinary-client- patient” relationship. If a veterinarian prescribes drugs for a dog that is not a current patient, they have violated their license laws. Veterinarians should then be willing to dispense the preventative, or provide a written prescription that can be filled on line or at a pharmacy.