Keep calm and play laser tag

laser dot

Ok, that is very misleading.  I don’t really want to talk about Laser tag or the laser dot you use to make your cat spin until he falls down. Come on.  Admit it.  You do it.

I want to talk about Laser therapy.

What is Laser Therapy?

Simply put, it is the use of specific wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared) to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal.

Hard to believe? Well, it’s true. And it works!

During laser therapy, infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level increasing metabolic activity within the cell.  This increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. Some of the benefits are reduced inflammation, pain reduction and enhanced tissue healing.  Laser therapy is also a great, surgery free alternative to pain control.  It creates a healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasm, stiffness and pain.  In our hospital, we use it post operatively for incision healing, after tooth extractions to speed tissue healing and after heartworm treatment injections to alleviate discomfort. We also use it for pain and inflammation associated with joint disease.

Laser therapy has been used in Europe since the 1970s and was cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005.

Now that we have the science part of it out of the way, we can answer some of the common questions asked by our clients.

Does it hurt?

There is little or no sensation during treatment for most patients.  Occasionally the patient may feel warmth or tingling.  Areas of pain or inflammation may be sensitive briefly before pain reduction.

Are there any side effects or risks?

During more than 20 years of use by healthcare providers worldwide, very few side effects have been reported.  Occasionally some old injuries or pain may feel aggravated for a few days, as the healing response is more active after treatment.

How often should a patient receive laser therapy?

Acute conditions may be treated daily, particularly if they are accompanied by significant pain.  More chronic conditions respond better when treatments are received 2 to 3 times a week, tapering to once very week or two as improvement is seen.

How many laser treatments does it take and how long do treatments last?

This depends on the condition.  Most treatments take 2-8 minutes.  For some acute conditions 1-2 treatments may be sufficient.  More chronic conditions may require 5-8 treatments.  Some conditions may require ongoing periodic care to control pain.

How long before results are felt from laser therapy?

Your pet may feel improvement in their condition after the first treatment.  Sometimes they may not feel improvement for a number of treatments.  This does not mean the therapy is not working as treatment is cumulative and results are often felt after 3-4 sessions.

For more information, visit the K-Laser website


After a certain point, its OK to lie about your age


Senior dogs. Senior cats. Anyone who has had the pleasure to live with a dog or a cat has probably experienced the senior years.  Most dogs are considered senior at 8 human years, and cats at 10 years.  

Larger dogs also age at a faster rate than smaller dogs.  A 7 pound chihuahua at 10 years old is equivalent to 56 human years, but a 150 pound Great Dane is equivalent to 78 human years. If you are lucky enough to have a 10 year old Great Dane, that is.        

How exactly do you tell if your dog is becoming a senior, besides their age?  The most obvious sign is gray hair.  Usually you start to see this around the muzzle and eyes first.  Unless your dog is white of course.  There can be other signs as well.  Maybe your chow hound starts to leave a little food at the bottom of the bowl.  You start to notice that she isn’t bouncing at the front door every day when you come home like she did in the past.  Maybe you even startle her awake because she didn’t hear you come in. She has suddenly started having “accidents” in the house for the first time ever.  Do you notice that she seems to have more trouble getting up after a nap?  Is she content with staying downstairs when she used to race you to the top?  

Most people dismiss these things as “just getting older”, but that’s not always the case.  There are things you can do to ease them into old age, but you know your dog better than anyone else.  If your instincts are tingling about certain behaviors, don’t ignore them.  If you see any of these signs, it’s time for a vet visit. 

  • Disorientation or confusion, circling 
  • Panting, shaking or trembling 
  • Excessive vocalization 
  • Easily fatigued, even with little or no exercise 
  • Unexpected weight gain 
  • Dull hair coat or hair loss, dry flaky skin, hot spots 
  • Noticeable weight loss, even though she is always hungry 
  • Frequent vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Large or very smelly bowel movements 
  • Chronic bad breath 
  • Decreased or increasingly finicky appetite 
  • Painful mouth or visible sores
  • Increased drinking or urination 

 And cats? Well, they are just weird. Since cats are both predator and prey in the wild, showing any signs of injury or pain makes them an instant target. So, they hide, both literally and figuratively. But they do so in almost imperceptible ways, especially if they live in your busy home.  That’s not to say you are at fault.  If you don’t realize your cat is napping in an out of the way place rather than her usual perch when you have jobs, kids, school and… you know, a life… it’s because she is a master at subtlety, not because you are a poor observer.   

High blood pressure, for example, is not only the silent killer in humans, it can be in cats as well. It is often present in cats with hyperthyroidism and/or kidney disease. If you notice pawing at the eyes or excessive blinking, visible blood vessels in the whites of the eyes, pupils that remain dilated even in high light, or are two different sizes, bumping into objects or other signs of decreased vision, cloudiness or visible debris in the front of the eye then it’s time to see the vet.   

In addition to the first list of signs, here are others to watch for in cats.  

  • Sudden lack of urination 
  • Sudden drop in weight  
  • Unusual lumps or bumps 
  • Change in litter box habits 
  • Poor grooming
  • Reluctance to jump 

Our pets give us many years of faithful companionship and there are many things you can do to help them age gracefully.  Twice a year vet visits for your senior pet are an important part of keeping them healthy.  Talk to your veterinarian today about how to care for your aging pet.                                               

Albert’s Anecdotes-The Trampling of Cats

My name is Albert.  I am a cat.  A rather handsome cat.  I live at Hanover Veterinary Hospital.

I would like to speak to you today on the subject of trampling. Cat trampling, to be exact.

There are many ways for a cat to be trampled at a veterinary hospital, which I was not aware of, or I may have taken up residence at a quieter facility, such as a nursing home.

You see, there are dogs at a veterinary hospital.  And although I don’t pay much attention to dogs, it is easy to be trampled by them.  Large dogs, small dogs… They are like herds of buffalo.

And then there are the people.  They are forever stepping on me, unceremoniously removing me from countertops or stuffing me into my cage when “The Bird” is boarding.  They are afraid I may eat him.  Let me explain something my friends. It is truly too much work to pull the bird through the bars of a cage for a meal.  It is much easier to lay on the counter like I haven’t a care in the world and look adorable.  Now that’s an easy meal.  Humans are so gullible. They break out the treat jar just on the merits of my appearance.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to the subject of trampling.  Once particularly frustrating incident happened very recently. I was minding my own business in the cat room. Ah, I just love that room, beautiful music, wonderful smells, privacy.  There is absolutely no privacy in that cat ward.  Harrumph.  Anyway, back to the trampling incident. I very expertly knocked the treat jar down from the shelf and removed the lid.  The treats, however, were just out of reach, so I had to put my head inside the jar.  They don’t tell you it is easier to put your head into a jar than it is to remove it from the jar.

The stupid thing stayed on my head, knocked me off balance and onto the floor.  I ran, treat jar still on my head, into the hallway where I, in a deft whirl of action, threw the jar off my head and spilled glorious treats across the floor.  It was heaven. Until the trampling began.

The humans came running. At first, I thought they were in awe of my jar removing skills, but alas, this was not the case. They were only concerned with my expertly hunted treats strewn across the floor.  They proceeded to trample over the top of me with not only their feet, but brooms and dustpans.  They were trying to rob me of my hard won prize!  The more I scrambled to eat the treats off the floor, the more they trampled me, until every last treat was gone, dumped into the abyss that is the garbage can.

And then, they dumped me into lock up.  Into the cat ward. With the fat man they call Papa.   He’s a nice enough chap really, but I’ve done nothing wrong and I don’t appreciate being treated like a prisoner.

So, for now I wait patiently, talking to anyone who will listen, usually the fat man, until I escape once again.  Next time, I believe I will be content with laying on the counter and receiving treats.

National Take your Cat to the Vet Day, August 22nd

Take your cat to the vet. Say what?!

Those very words can strike terror in the hearts of some owners.  Most cats associate the carrier with all the unpleasant things that happen during a vet visit. After all, this is usually the only time they see the carrier.  Often, cats panic and hide at the very sight of the thing. This is not surprising, given the way things usually go.

You either drag Ernest from his hiding place because he saw the carrier, or sneak up on him and grab him so he doesn’t see it. Then you attempt to gently put him in the carrier, but usually have to force him in.  Most cats are masters at sticking just enough paws out to prevent entry, no matter which way you turn them. Once in, he then gets jostled and swung around on the way to the car. Add to that, the swerving, bumpy car ride and the treetop whizzing view out the window and it’s a miracle if Ernest hasn’t peed, pooped or vomited in his carrier.  Once you get to the vet’s office, there is a waiting room full of sounds, smells, strange dogs, cats and humans.

Continue reading “National Take your Cat to the Vet Day, August 22nd”

May I be of assistance?


This week, we take a moment to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs all over the world.  International Assistance Dog Week is August 5-11.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about what an assistance dog really is.  And it doesn’t help when people try to pass off their unruly pets as accredited service dogs.  News stories abound about fake service dogs disrupting restaurants, retail stores and airlines, attacking people and actual service dogs, pooping all over and being a general nuisance.  It doesn’t help that service dog vests, leashes and cards are available for purchase by anyone online. Dogs exhibiting poor manners or training do nothing to help the legitimacy of true service dogs.

So, we answer the burning question… What do service dogs really do?

The most important role these dogs play is as companions, aides, best friends and close members of the family.

Some are guide dogs, assisting people with vision loss, leading them around physical obstacles and to places such as seating, crossing streets, doorways, elevators and stairs.  Some are hearing alert dogs, helping people with hearing loss to the presence of specific sounds such as door bells, telephones, crying babies, sirens, door knocks, smoke, fire and clock alarms. Some respond to certain medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic or anxiety attack, PTSD and seizures. Others assist with walking, balance, dressing, retrieving and carrying items, opening doors and drawers, pushing buttons, pulling wheelchairs and removing clothes from the washer and dryer.

Service dogs must have spot on obedience skills. They must also have countless hours of socialization and public access training; and hundreds, even thousands of hours of specialized rigorous training relating to the duties needed by their disabled partner.   Fake service dogs chip away at the credibility of accredited service dogs.  They undermine the trust that the public has in the service dog’s credentials and makes it difficult for the dog and its human to function as a team.

In the United States, service dogs are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the ADA, there are two questions that staff may ask when someone comes into their establishment with a service dog: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? And, (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. They are not allowed to ask what that person’s disability is and they are not allowed to ask the dog perform tasks to prove their training.

Therapy dogs usually do have some training, but unlike service dogs, who are trained to assist one person, therapy dogs are trained to interact with lots of people. They often work in nursing homes and with children.  Emotional support dogs provide a calming presence or companionship for their owner’s but aren’t always trained in basic obedience.

Therapy and emotional support dogs are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, although that does not diminish the important role they play in the lives of their human partners.

All three types of dogs come into our hospital for veterinary care, each with their own special gifts.  We have their photos on our wall of honor in our reception area and love each of them equally.

To learn more about service dogs or how to acquire one, please visit Canine Companions for Independence, Indiana Canine Assistance Network, 1Pet1Vet, or Northern Indiana Service Dogs

Running Fearlessly into…

Well, not really running, more like baby steps.  But there is a change happening in the veterinary industry.  It’s called Fear Free.  

What does this mean?  That we must nurture the pet’s mind as well as the body.  Every day we practice medicine with this foremost in our thoughts. The Fear Free initiative was founded by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker and the belief is summed up in their mission statement, ‘to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.’ 

We have always looked after your pet’s physical health but have sometimes struggled with how to look after their emotional health in the very short time we interact with them.  How do we reduce stress during that nail trim?  How do we convince your angry feline to take her meds?   How do we encourage that dog to walk happily through our doors? How do we remove squeeze cheese from dog nostrils?  Well, that comes after, but you get the picture.  

The answer is Fear Free.  “Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice”.  You may have already noticed that we place a bandana on your dog when he or she comes in our door.  Aside from the cuteness factor, that bandana is sprayed with  Adaptil, a happy dog pheromone that is only the first step in helping your dog cope with anxiety at the vet’s office.  Those plug-ins don’t smell like daisies, they smell like a happy dog.  That towel we place over your cat’s carrier not only blocks out sights and sounds, it is sprayed with Feliway, the happy cat pheromone.  Those pouches the assistants and technicians carry around are full of tasty things such as Beggin Strips, squeeze cheese, peanut butter and hot dogs.  Or cat treats, catnip and tuna.   

Pheromones, food rewards, gentler handling, non-slip mats and sometimes just stopping to take a break are just some of the things we are doing to make your pet’s visit more like old home week than a walk through a mine field. Even the paint on our walls is designed for stress free viewing. 

We begin by assessing how your pet is feeling the moment they come in the door and we adapt our techniques accordingly.  That assessment continues through the visit until they are safely in your car. Each pet is different and we know some will take more time than others.  We will gladly spend that time. 

For some pets, we will need to use medication, or even sedation to achieve a stress free visit.  But we want you to know that we will use everything else in our bag of knowledge before taking this step.   

The Fear Free movement, to put it simply, is liberating! And we want to share everything we know with you. We love discussing things such as body language, how to help your dog feel secure, how to understand the mind of your cat, thundershirts, nosework and noise phobias.  

We are chomping at the bit to help you discover everyday activities that can help enhance your pet’s life so they can become your best relationship.  Outside of your human ones of course. 

Albert, our resident cat, would like to take credit for this quote, but it was really Dawn Richard who said, “Be exactly who you are. You can fit in any space you see yourself in. Be fearless.”