Did You Know That a Potentially Fatal Disease Could Be Lurking In Your Own Backyard?

Leptospirosis (commonly known as Lepto) is a zoonotic disease (meaning it can be passed from animal to human) caused by spiral shaped bacteria called Leptospires. It affects many different species of animals, including wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums and deer, as well as cats, humans and especially dogs. Leptospirosis lives in the urine of infected animals and can survive in surrounding water and soil for months; contraction of the disease occurs when this particular bacteria comes into contact with broken skin or is accidentally ingested. Due to the development of previously rural areas, dogs are increasingly exposed to potentially infected urine, thereby also raising the risk to their owners as well.


Unfortunately, this disease can present as a variety of symptoms, but the most common are fever, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, please contact your Veterinarian as soon as possible. If left untreated, infection with this serious disease can lead to kidney and liver failure and eventually, death.


The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family and your pets. First, discourage your dog from drinking from puddles due to the potential contamination of the Leptospires bacteria. Second, make sure your dog is up to date on his vaccines including an annual vaccine that protects against the four most common strains of Leptospirosis.  Check with your Veterinarian to make sure your dog has received this vaccination.


Although taking these steps does not guarantee prevention of this disease, you can rest assured that you gave your pet the best protection available.


Article written by: James A. Lehnerd, D.V.M, Owner of Forest Park Veterinary Clinic and Virginia Vesha, Client Service Supervisor.


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Puppy Training Tip #2- Potty Training

In conjunction with crate training, to teach your puppy not to have accidents in the house, it is important to remember that you are responsible for keeping the puppy within your eye site at all times.  If a puppy sneaks away and has an accident that you do not see, you need to scold yourself and not the puppy.  If you do not catch him in the act at the time, there is no point in yelling at the puppy.  All this will do is make the puppy afraid of you and they will not understand why you are mad at them.  It does not help to show them the accident spot or rub their nose in it, they still won’t understand why you are upset with them.  To help keep the puppy from having accidents that you do not catch our vets recommend some of the following steps:

  • Crate training when you are away or not able to watch the puppy including while you are sleeping, showering or any other activity that you would not be able to see the puppy easily.  See the article “Puppy Training Tip #1 – Crate Training” for more information.
  • When your puppy is out of the crate and you aren’t actively playing with the puppy or paying full attention to him, we recommend that you tie a rope or leash to the his collar and to your belt or a piece of furniture in the room that you are in.  Make the rope long enough that the puppy has plenty of room to play and move around, but not so long that he can leave the room that you are in or out of your eye site.  It is important that you do not leave the puppy unattended tied up, however because if they should get tangled up you would not be able to help them.  If you need to leave that room, take the puppy and his rope with you.  With the puppy set to stay in the same room as you, if he was going to have an accident, you could catch him in the act and discipline him immediately.  To correct the behavior, you do not need to hit or yell, you can simply say in a stern voice “No!  Bad puppy, potty outside” or whatever your command for where the puppy should potty would be.  Then immediately move him to the proper place where they should potty and give a command such as “Potty Outside”.  After he uses the bathroom in the proper place, give him lots of praise and say “Good dog (or insert name)” and give him a small training treat for a reward.  You should do this every time he goes in the proper place.  Remember, every time you catch an accident at the time it occurs is two steps forward in potty training and every accident that is missed is one step back.
  • To help you to know that your puppy has to go potty, we recommend hanging a bell on a string so that the bell is at nose level for the puppy at the door which you intend to take him out to go to the bathroom.  Every time that you are going to take him out to use the potty, take his nose and ring the bell with it before taking him outside.  Eventually, you will find that he will go and ring the bell himself to let you know that he wants to go outside.  Be sure to take him out as soon as he notifies you.
  • Take him out frequently when you are home.  It is a great practice to allow the puppy many opportunities to succeed in going to the bathroom.  If you take him out and he does not go, give him 10 or 15 minutes and then try again.  Remember that puppies have small bladders and therefore cannot be expected to wait as long as an adult dog.
  • If you want to play with your puppy outside, it is a good practice not to do this at the same time or in the same place where you are wanting them to use the bathroom.  If he is used to getting to play with you in that location, he will not focus on his task of going to the bathroom.  If you do not have an option of playing in a different area, just be sure that you make the puppy go to the bathroom first and then after he has succeeded at his mission, play time can begin.  Just be mindful if your puppy needs to defecate as well as urinate so that he finishes everything that he needs to do.

Training your puppy to go to the bathroom in the proper place is a process and does take time, but with consistency and determination you and he can be successful.  Putting the work into this process now will save you time and frustration in the future.  He will be a part of your life for a long time so the weeks of work will bring years of rewards.

To find out more about our practice and our Veterinarians, please visit our website at www.forestparkvet.com .



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Puppy Training Tip #1- Crate Training

We often find that new puppy owners are reluctant to use crate (cage) training. They sometimes feel like the puppy will be too sad or confined being left in a crate or cage. The truth is that dogs typically do not mind being in their crate once they become accustomed to them. The feel comforted by having their own space where they feel safe and protected. The equate it to being in a den. Dogs also have the natural tendency to not want to go potty in their bed, therefore if they are in a place small enough, they will learn quickly not to have accidents as they do not want to “mess” their sleeping space. Having them confined when you are not around also helps to keep them safe. Puppies are naturally curious and if left alone without restraints, they will chew on things that you don’t want them to and possibly even eat something that could be very harmful to them.

In the long run, keeping your puppy safely in a crate will improve your relationship with your puppy by alleviating the stress that will occur when you come home to find your favorite shoe torn up or a urine stain on your carpet.

To train your puppy to a crate, start with a crate that is large enough for the puppy to stand up & turn around, but not any bigger than that. If you have a larger kennel, you can add a box or some barrier to the back of the crate to limit the space the puppy has so that he can grow into the crate as he gets bigger. It is a good practice to give the puppy a small trainig treat when putting them in the crate to reward them and safe chew toys to keep them busy. A great suggestion is a “kong” filled with peanut butter; if you put this in the freezer the night before, the puppy will have a great long-lasting treat that also feels good on a teething mouth.

If you would like more information about crate training your puppy, feel free to call our office at 614-885-9901. You can also visit our website at http://www.forestparkvet.com for other helpful tips.

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Hypothyroidism in Dogs

What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland, located on either side of the trachea, is one of the largest endocrine glands in a dog’s body. It secretes active thyroid hormone, which serves as a sort of volume dial for metabolism and affects almost every cell in the body. In most dogs, the thyroid releases appropriate levels of this hormone, but sometimes dogs can suffer from a disease that results from too little circulating thyroid hormone called hypothyroidism. This is the most common hormonal imbalance in dogs, leading to symptoms in multiple body systems.

What is Hypothyroidism?

As previously stated, hypothyroidism is the natural deficiency of thyroid hormone. This can be the result of immune-mediated destruction of the thyroid gland, natural atrophy of the gland, dietary iodine deficiency or a congenital problem. In dogs, the first two causes listed account for almost all cases, although it is generally accepted that atrophy of the gland actually represents the end result of earlier immune-mediated destruction.

Hypothyroidism generally develops in middle-aged or elderly dogs. Breeds with a predisposition to develop hypothyroidism include: the Doberman Pinscher, the Golden Retriever, the Irish Setter, the Great Dane, the Dachshund, and the Boxer.

Manifestations of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a disease with a classic collection of clinical signs. The most common of these are skin abnormalities (including hair loss, scaly/oily skin, skin infection, dry/brittle hair coat), obesity, lethargy or listlessness at home, high cholesterol and anemia.

Testing for Hypothyroidism

The most common way to diagnose hypothyroidism is to check the T4 level (also called the total T4 level), a blood test that is often included in routine screenings. Usually, a normal T4 indicates normal thyroid function and a low T4 indicates hypothyroidism, but in some cases it isn’t that simple. Dogs taking certain drugs (most notably the seizure medications phenobarbital and potassium bromide, prednisone and other corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the heart
medication propranolol, the behavior drug clomipramine, or sulfa class antibiotics) or with illnesses other than thyroid disease often have depressed T4 secretion. These dogs will have low T4 levels but are not truly hypothyroid. There is also a grey zone where T4 results are considered not definitively normal and not definitively abnormal. In short, sometimes T4 alone
is not sufficient to make a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Occasionally, additional tests, such as free T4 by equilibrium dialysis (ED), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and endogenous TSH levels, antithyroglobulin antibodies (TGAA test) or a trial of the medication, will be recommended by your veterinarian for a more definitive diagnosis.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

At least treatment of hypothyroidism is relatively straight-forward; active thyroid hormone is restored to a normal level through an oral medication containing that very hormone (T4). Pills are given twice daily for the remainder of the pet’s life. There are many brands of thyroid supplementation available and prices are somewhat variable depending on the manufacturer.

Occasionally we are asked if it is reasonable to use dried or powdered thyroid glands of hogs or cattle as a more “natural” form of treatment. The answer is simply no.  These products are not produced with adequate quality control to ensure that they contain a reliable amount of thyroid hormone. Each dose may be completely different when such a product is used.


Periodic blood testing is required in the treatment of hypothyroidism, because it is important to know if the current dose is too low or too high. Thyroxine (T4) is a safe medication but if it is not given in adequate doses, obviously the patient will not be adequately treated. And if the dose is too high, excessive water consumption, weight loss, and restlessness can result.

The highest level of the day is found by taking the blood sample 4 to 6 hours after it is given. This blood test is recommended every 6 months (after the correct dose has been established) for the rest of the dog’s life.

To find out more about our hospital and doctors visit our website at www.forestparkvet.com.

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Beware of Pet Medications from Internet Pharmacies

Illegitimate prescription


There is a scary trend in Veterinary medicine in which internet pharmacies are taking over the dispensing of medications for our pets. unfortunately, these pharmacies are not being monitored well and many of them do not have licensed pharmacists or Veterinarians working for them. They also are not buying these products from the manufacturers who make the products therefore, products could be counterfeit, tampered with or made overseas where there is little to no control by a governing agency as to if the products is safe.

 We have had several clients who buy products from some of these leading internet pharmacies who later receive the product and the weights are in kilograms, not pounds which indicates the product originated overseas. Sometimes, less obvious markings can be found on a package to show the products are not made in America. We have also seen packages that were received in which a product for a large dog has been dispensed in syringes with instructions on how to use this product on a cat. This could prove lethal to an animal if used incorrectly. Also, if it’s not in original packaging, who is to say that it is the product that it is claiming to be. Not to mention, in this day & age of counterfeit products, even if a product looks identical to the packaging you would buy from a legitimate source, could it be counterfeit?

Even in the times when the products are legitimate, most medications are required to be stored at a certain temperature, and if they are being kept on a boat for long transit, being transported across country in a truck or train, or stored for long periods of time in a warehouse, what is the likelihood that this product is still in usable condition. That is why manufacturers will not guarantee any product that has been sold through an internet pharmacy that has not bought the product through a legitimate source.

If you have purchased products from internet pharmacies, you should bring the product to your Veterinarian and they can help you find out if the product is legitimate and safe to use on your pet. Please check out the FDA website regarding this problem at : http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm203000.htm

You can also feel free to contact the manufacturer of any product that you have bought to have them help you determine if the product is actually sold to a legitimate source. 

By buying medications from your Veterinarian or a pharmacy that they recommend, you are ensuring that your product will be safe for your pet.  Also, sometimes you may think that you are getting a great “deal” from one of these pharmacies, but often times the price is the same with a legitimate source and if not, is the savings worth risking your pet’s life?  Remember the old saying “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. 

At Forest Park Veterinary Clinic, we buy all of our products from the manufacturer or a licensed distributor and we promise that all of the products are safe when used as directed and all of the manufacturers guarantees are withheld.  Also, for your convenience, we work with one of our licensed distributors to offer you internet ordering and home delivery services.  Often times, there even is free shipping on many of the products.  To find out more, visit our website at www.forestparkvet.com and click on the “Vetstore” link.

We want your pet to live a long and healthy life, so please help us to protect your pet from the harmful predators of unauthorized internet pharmacies.

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Finding a Lost Pet

Did you know that 1 in 3 pets will go missing during its lifetime? You may think that since your dog never leaves the yard or your cat is strictly indoors that this won’t happen to you, but unfortunately, tragedies occur even to responsible pet owners with the best intentions. A maintenance worker in your house might leave a door open; a fire could start in your home and your pet evades rescue; a break-in results in an open door or window; during a routine travel stop, your pet jumps out of the car, frightened by an unfamiliar sight or sound. Any of these situations are real and happen every day. And sadly, 90% of lost pets without identification never return home.
The best way to ensure that you recover your lost pet is to give him (or her) a permanent form of identification called a “microchip.” HomeAgain, Avid, 24 Hour Pet Watch and ResQ are just a few of the companies that manufacture microchips and manage their databases. (There is also a nationwide website which tracks the registration information for all of the companies listed above.) Microchips are implanted under the skin by a Veterinarian through a special needle. Once implanted, the microchip will remain in your pet’s body for the rest of his or her life. This procedure can be completed at any time; it does not require your pet to be sedated or anesthetized and is no more painful than a vaccination.
Each microchip has a unique identification number that appears (along with the name of the manufacturer) when a special scanner is placed over your pet. All veterinary clinics, rescue organizations and shelters have these scanners and staff members that are trained to use them, significantly increasing the probability that your pet will come home safely. In fact, about 73% of lost, microchipped animals are reconnected with their owners. However, your pet can only be traced back to you through the microchip manufacturer’s registration list, so it is very important to not only have your pet implanted with a microchip, but to also register the pet with the corresponding company and keep your contact information current.

For more information about the microchip identification systems, please contact our office at 614-885-9901 or visit our website at http://www.forestparkvet.com and click on the “Links” page and the “HomeAgain” link.


[1] Home Again client brochure provided by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health ©2010

[2] Seminar given by Linda Lord, DVM, PhD “Microchipping Works: Pet Identification and Reunification Best Practices” for Bayer Animal Health.

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Protecting Your Puppy from the Deadly Parvovirus

The first few months after adopting a new puppy are an exciting and often chaotic time for the entire family. There is a lot to learn and remember, but taking your new puppy to the Vet should be a top priority. Puppies have a weak immune system and require a series of vaccinations to build their immunity and keep them strong and healthy. One of the diseases that puppies should be vaccinated for is Parvovirus. Parvo causes bloody diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia and lethargy, often resulting in death. It is a very prevalent disease that can be easily picked up in parks, yards, carpets or floors.

Unfortunately, there is no “cure“ for Parvovirus, but there is a potentially life-saving treatment consisting of giving fluids to maintain hydration, antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infection and medication to resolve vomiting and nausea. This treatment course may be necessary for as little as 1-2 days or may require a couple weeks before the puppy overcomes the viral infection. But even with the best care, Parvo can prove fatal. The weeks following a Parvo diagnosis are a very difficult time for owners, both emotionally and financially.

The good news is that the Parvovirus combination vaccine protects puppies over 95% of the time from becoming infected with this life-threatening virus. In comparison to the high cost of treating the virus and the potential loss of your dog, the slight cost of the vaccine is well worth it. It is extremely important to complete the puppy vaccine series and to continue medical care annually with veterinary exams, vaccines and blood and fecal tests to maintain the health of your pet. Please call your veterinarian with any questions.

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