Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best Wishes for the Future!

For those of you who haven't heard, Dr. Scott Nebergall is leaving the Arthur Veterinary Clinic to take a position at the Krause Veterinary Clinic in Armada, Michigan. Dr. Scott's last day is December 23rd. While we will miss him dearly at the Arthur Veterinary Clinic, we wish he and his family the best of luck.
Dr. Lisa and Dr. Linda are alive and well and are looking forward to treating and caring for all of Dr. Scott's clients and patients!
Good luck Dr. Scott!!

Paws with Claus

Paws with Claus was a Great Success!
We raised $300 for Moultrie & Douglas County Animal Shelters
A special thanks to Elmer Harmon as Santa and all of Santa's Helpers:
Jeannie, Monica, Staci, Eve & Dr. Linda
Thanks also for Everyone who donated to the Shelters!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Keep Your Pet Healthy During the Winter Months

As we approach the colder months and the Holiday season, it is important to remember some dangers pets face during this time of year.
Most antifreeze contains ethylene glycol as an active ingredient which is toxic to animals. Antifreeze has a sweet taste. Because of this, dogs and cats will drink it. Antifreeze can be lethal, causing permanent, fatal kidney damage. Keep pets away from any spilled antifreeze or containers of antifreeze. Even antifreeze that has been diluted in the car's radiator can have enough toxic ethylene glycol to be fatal to your pet. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, call your veterinarian immediately.

Dietary Indiscretion and Pancreatitis

We all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family. However, keep in mind that sudden, rich, high fat diet changes are likely to upset your pet's stomach. In general, any food your pet is not accustomed to eating has the potential to trigger intestinal upset. Foods too rich, too fatty or too spicy can all be the culprit. For some animals, the snack you sneak can trigger a serious, life-threatening illness called pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas.
No Bone about this One
Even the largest and heartiest of bones can splinter and irritate the intestinal lining of your favorite pet. While most of us know that poultry bones are unsafe, knuckle bones do tend to stand to vigorous gnawing. Regardless, always, always, always supervise your dog's chewing!!
And, for those pooches who prefer to eat bones rather than just chew on guessed it.....your safest bet is to avoid bones all together!

With leftover Halloween candy and Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, many of us have more chocolate around the house than at other times. The first problem with chocolate is the fat. Remember, in the case of pancreatitis, it is the fat that causes the problem. This can lead to severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and abdominal pain. In the case of chocolate toxicity, theobromine is the toxic ingredient. Theobromine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures and cardiac arrythmias which can be fatal. Clinical signs usually occur within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion. The more chocolate liquor there is in a prodcut, the more theobromine is present. This makes baking chocolate the worst for your pet, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate, followed by milk chocolate, followed by chocolate flavored cakes and cookies. The effects of chocolate are proportional to the amount of chocolate ingested versus your pet's body weight. Remember, it takes nearly 4 days for the chocolate to work its way out of a dog's system. If the chocolate was just eaten, call your veterinarian immediately. If is possible to induce vomiting to rid the stomach of the toxic effects of chocolate.

O Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is full of dangers for both dogs and cats. Tinsel, along with yarn, ribbon or string is certainly an appealing play toy for any pet. When ingested, it can twist and tie up the intestines. Ornaments, too, are extremely dangerous in the mouths and stomachs of pets. The water at the base of the Christmas tree can contain secretions of fertilizer and nasty bacteria that can cause serious health problems for our pets. Light strings and electrical cords are dangerous when chewed. So, use common sense when you are decorating and make sure your pet is supervised when around these items.

One of the most important parts of winter and Holiday preventative care is knowing what to do in an event of an actual emergency. Be sure and have on hand the after-hours or emergency number for your veterinarian. Also, the ASPCA (Animal Poison Control Center has a hotline: 866-426-4435 for questions and concerns about toxins or poisons your pet many ingest.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Umbilical Hernias in Puppies

A hernia is defined as a protrusion of tissue or an organ through the wall that contains it. Hernias can occur at different locations on a dog's body. An umbilical hernia is a hernia at the umbilicus which is where the umbilical cord attached to the fetus or newborn puppy. To relate to people, your umbilicus is your belly button. Because of a genetic defect, the body wall fails to close at the site of attachment of the umbilical cord, resulting in an opening in the body wall and outpouching of the skin.

An umbilical hernia can vary in size to very small (2-3mm) or very large where a large defect or hole can be felt in the body wall. For the most part, the outpouching of skin contains fat from the abdomen. However, if the hernia is large, the outpouching can contain intestines.

This is a picture of a small umbilical hernia in a puppy. This hernia contains abdominal fat.

Most umbilical hernias are congenital which means present at birth. And, in dogs, umbilical hernias are thought to be hereditary.....meaning passed to the offspring from parent's genes. While most umbilical hernias are not life-threatening and do not cause symptoms, large defects which contain intestinal contents should be surgically repaired to prevent damage to the intestines. If the hernia is small and contains only abdominal fat, it can be surgically repaired when the pet is neutered.
Because umbilical hernias are hereditary and undesirable, puppies born with hernias should be spayed or castrated and not used for breeding.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sweeney in Horses

Sweeney is the common name for shoulder atrophy (shrinkage or wasting) in the horse. The muscle atrophy is caused by damage to the suprascapular nerve which innervates to the infraspinatus and supraspinatus muscles. These muscles are found on the scapula or shoulder blade of the horse, on either of the spine or bony ridge of the scapula. When these muscle atrophy, the shape of the scapula becomes noticeable by the hollowing on each side of the spine of the scapula. The pictures below illustrates the loss of muscle on the shoulder blade and the distict spine of the scapula.

The nerve damage is commonly caused by horses colliding with other horses or stall doors, trees...etc. Nerve damage is also caused by ill fitting work collars putting pressure on the nerve. This is seen in horses which are used to pull wagons, carts and freight.

Pain may or may not be present in the affected limb. As the muscles atrophy worsens, the horse may have difficulty extending the forelimb. Also, horses may swing their shoulder out due to instability or loosening of the shoulder joint from lack of muscle and ligament tone.

Treatment of sweeney involves anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Nerves can heal and possibly even regenerate if the injury is not too extensive and enough time is allowed. Muscle massage and electrical stimulation has been used. For cases with extensive scarring, surgery can be performed to release the nerve and hopefully regain function. In the case of a poorly fitted collar, rest and a properly adjusted collar is indicated.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Wonderful World of Draft Horses Part II

In the last blog, I discussed some general characteristics of draft horses and the Belgian breed. This blog, I will discuss the other two major draft breeds: Percherons and Clydedales.

The Percheron horse originated from France in the province of Le Perche, located about 50 miles southwest of Paris. Traditionally, the Percheron breed was a breed of greys. Used as a war horse, the French Knight is almost always seen on a grey or white horse. When the day of the war horse was over, Percherons were used to pull heavy stage coaches in France. These horses could trot 7-10 miles per hour with the endurance to perform day in and day out. The light colored greys and whites were easily seen at night and thus preferred. When the railroad replaced the stage coaches and horses began to replace oxen in agriculture, the need for a heavier draft horse grew. The breeders of Le Perche complied. From war horse to light draft coach to heavy draft, the Percheron breed was developed.
This picture belows show two teams in exhibition. Note the one team is a team of black Percherons and the other team is a team of greys.
Percheron gelding being driven in the Ladies cart class.
Just as other European draft horses, the Percheron breed was heavily imported into the US in the 1870s and 80s. The current Percheron Horse Association of America was formed in 1905. The number of registrations grew until the 1940s and WWII. The low point in Percheron registrations came in 1954 when just 85 head were recorded. Just like the Belgian breed, a handful of breeders persisted and Americans rediscoverd the usefulness of the draft horse. Since then, the Percheron breed has seen a resurgence in its numbers and value.

While greys and dapples are still commonly seen, the Percheron breed is noted for its coal black color. The picture below is a grey Percheron mare.

The Clydesdale breed originated from Scotland in the district of Lanarkshire. As with the other European draft breeds, these horses were originally developed for use in warfare to carry knights into battle. A heavier breed was needed to carry armor-clad warriors to war. When the need for war horses declined, the Clydesdale horse was bred not only for agriculture but for heavy haulage in the coalfields of Lanarkshire. The Clydesdale breed flourished in the late 19th century leading to large numbers of exports into Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Today, the Clydesdale is virtually the only draft breed in its native Scotland. The picture above is "Samurai" owned by Dr. Linda-first place gelding and 1st place American Bred Gelding at the National Clydesdale show.

A clydesdale halter class.

The modern Clydesdale stands between 16 and 19 hands, weighing in from 1600 to 2200 pounds. The Clydesdale has a very distinctive look with its most common color being bay. A large amount of white on the face and four white stockings with the long white "feathered" legs create a vivid picture. The feather is the long silky hair on the legs that flow to the ground. Other colors in the Clydesdale breed include black and roan. The Clydesdale Breeders of the United States incorporated in 1879 to register and preserve the pedigree of the Clydesdale Breed.
So, now you know about the characteristics of the three major draft breeds: Belgians, Percherons and Clydesdales. If you are interested in seeing more of the draft breeds or perhaps even owning a draft horse, I encourage you to seek out breeders and exhibitors in your area.
More information can also be found on each of these breed registeries websites:
Thanks again to Kelly Woodbury for letting me use her pictures!
And also, thanks Janine Gregg for the use of your pictures! Great job, ladies!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Wonderful World of Draft Horses

As you can tell if you've read this blog, we are draft horse enthusiasts here at the Arthur Veterinary Clinic. I was raised with Belgians on a farm near Arcadia, Indiana. Dr. Linda breeds and shows Clydesdales and Dr. Scott and his brother, Gary (my husband) have bred and shown Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgians. The Arthur Veterinary Clinic has a large client base of draft horse owners.

August and September are busy months if you show draft horses since many state fairs in the Midwest have large draft horse shows. And, the Indiana State Fair has one of the largest. On a personal note, I have just returned from spending 15 days at the Indiana State Fair helping run the draft horse show. I am the third generation of Ellers to be on the show committee. My grandfather, my father and my brother have all been involved with the show continuously since the 1950s. And, my other brother has been an announcer and I have two nephews which also help with the show.

The five major breeds which make of draft horses are Belgians, Percherons, Clydesdales, Shires and Suffolks. I will limit this discussion to Belgians, Percherons and Clydesdales which each have their individual breed registries. This blog will focus on Belgians and I will follow up with Percherons and Clydesdales on the next blog.

The draft breeds originated from Europe. They are known for their gentle disposition and drafty size which allows them to excel at farm work, pull large wagons and freight. With the advent of mechanization after World War II and the introduction of the small, rubber tired tractor, the draft breed numbers declined significantly. However, over the decades, long time breeders have persisted despite the use of tractors. Other equine lovers discovered the usefulness of the draft horse, using them on non-farm tasks. Horse shows and state fairs began to welcome the gentle giants and the draft horse industry has continued to flourish. Artificial insemination, cooled transported semen and embryo transfer are used frequently in draft horse breeding.
While the majority of draft horses are located in the Midwest and east central Canada, they are popular throughout the US. A major driving force behind the draft horse industry are the draft horse shows. A draft horse show usually consists of two parts: the halter or conformation classes for purebred draft horses and the hitch or performance classes. Most large shows have separate classes for each breed while the smaller shows and county fairs may combine all breeds in a class.

Halter classes are shown by age....for example, all the yearling mares will compete against each other. Typically, the show will crown a junior champion stallion and mare (2 years and under) and a senior champion stallion and mare (3 years and over). From these winners a Grand Champion mare and a Grand Champion stallion will be awarded. Most shows then go on to choose a Best of Breed.

Hitch classes involved horses in harness pulling either a show cart or a wagon. A show cart is usually pulled by one horse, whereas the classes pulling a wagon are teams, unicorns (three horses), four and six. Occasionally, an event will host an eight horse hitch class. Over the years, geldings have been commonly used in the hitch classes. However, the last 10-15 years has seen an increase in the number of all mare hitches which has resulted in separate classes for gelding hitches and mare hitches. If you have never been to a draft horse show, I encourage you to attend a hitch show. Watching these hitches thunder around a ring, decked out in show harness and a show wagon will give you goose bumps.....I guarantee it!!!

The Belgian horse originated from the country of Belgium. Belgians are typically sorrel colored with a light or white mane and tail, varying amounts of white on their legs and a stripe on their forehead. They can also be blonde or chestnut. Today's Belgian is a big, powerful horse that retains the drafty middle, a deep, strong foot, a lot of bone, the heavy muscling and amiable disposition possessed by the early Belgians. His qualities as an easy keeper and a willing worker make the Belgian a favorite. The modern Belgian possesses an animated gait and hitch horses must be up headed and high stepping. At this time, Belgians outnumber all the other draft breeds combined.

The is a picture of Dr. Scott and Gary showing the first place aged yeld mare at the NABC VI. Notice that Dr. Scott is on the lead and Gary is the whipman. When the horse is lead before the judge in a halter class, the whipman trails the horse. In this picture, he is seen in front of the horse to help with the headset when standing before the judge. In halter classes, mares have their tails tied up but not their manes braided. Stallions and geldings have their tails tied up and their manes braided with rosettes. Mares manes are braided for hitch classes.
A winning eight horse hitch

A "sea" of hitch horses.

The six horse hitch class at the NABC VI

Indiana State Fairgrounds

Men's Cart Class at the NABC VI

Four Abreast Class at the NABC VI. This is a very exciting class!

Here is a video of a an eight horse hitch class

Next blog, I will discuss Percherons and have more great pictures! Thanks to Kelly Woodbury for letting me use some of her pictures from the shows!.