Acupuncture for pets


Acupuncture treatments have helped Dakota become more active and manage pain.

If Dakota, a 12 year old Labrador Retriever, was human, he would be between 65 and 80 years old. When Dakota began having trouble getting around comfortably and wasn’t able to take any type of medication due to gastrointestinal issues, his owner, Heather Stewart, prepared herself for the worst. After meeting Dr. Lisa Mandelin and her team of veterinary professionals at Pacific Park Animal Hospital, she was introduced to the idea of acupuncture for pets.

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body, which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve a healing effect. Veterinary acupuncture has been used to treat animals for nearly 4,000 years in China and for decades in North America among both domestic and exotic animals. Some examples of clinical conditions in which acupuncture may be used include gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory problems, urinary disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, dermatological problems as well as pain management.

“All I wanted was to give my dog comfort, so we did one round of acupuncture,” said Stewart. “After the second treatment Dakota was getting around better. After a month he is like a new dog and loves his treatments. He falls asleep during the treatment. I feel that [Dr. Mandelin] has given my dog the quality of life that I have been searching for.”

Dr. Mandelin has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 14 years and has been performing acupuncture on dogs and cats for 4 years. Having begun her career in the human medical field, she has been able to create a unique and much-desired blend of high quality veterinary medicine. “I understand how important pets are to their owners and family, which is why our team is committed to providing care that will allow those pets to live long and healthy lives,” Dr. Mandelin said.

Submitted By:
Dr. Lisa Mandelin
27261 La Paz Rd Ste H
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
(949) 831-7297
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Kennel Cough: Questions and answers

All of us have witnessed the condition known as kennel cough. Often we see our newly adopted or fostered dogs start to cough within hours of arriving off transport. This cough is usually a very mild and self-limiting infection, but it is important to understand that all of the causes for kennel cough are highly contagious. Dr. Jonathan Smith, VMD, of Larkin Veterinary Center in West Lawn, PA states that although it’s uncommon, any cough has the potential to lead to a more serious infection.

What causes kennel cough? In recent years, it has been determined that kennel cough is usually not caused by a single agent, but is often a combination of viruses or bacteria which act together. The condition is referred to Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRD). Most of the causes for kennel cough are actually viral, similar to the common cold in people. We routinely vaccinate for a number of these viruses, including distemper virus, parainfluenza virus, and adenovirus. However, there are a number of recently discovered viruses which can also cause similar signs that we do not routinely vaccinate for. These include the canine influenza (dog flu), the canine respiratory corona virus, and others that have not yet been identified. Because most of these infections are usually mild and resolve on their own, identifying them does not usually ultimately affect treatment. This is why veterinarians usually do not perform diagnostics to determine what’s causing the cough.

Isn’t the canine flu (CIV) more serious than these other infections? Yes and no. Dogs exposed to canine influenza can have a wide range of signs, including nasal discharge, fever, cough, and lethargy. As with the other viral infections, most young healthy dogs get better with little or no treatment at all over a 2-3 week period. Older or immunocompromised dogs are more at risk for this normally mild infection to develop into pneumonia.

Well then what about bordetella? Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a highly contagious bacteria which can cause an infection of the trachea and upper airways. It can also remain in the airways of asymptomatic dogs for weeks to months, and, unfortunately, immunity (either from vaccines or previous exposure) can be short lived. As with most of the other infections, bordetella usually causes a mild short term cough without any severe signs. Puppies, most notably brachycephalic (short faced) breeds more likely to develop pneumonia from a routine bordetella infection than other dogs.

Why do these dogs always appear to develop a cough right after transport? Lots of factors make dogs either more or less susceptible to these infections. Exposure, stress, nutrition, intestinal parasitism, vaccination or exposure history, and overall health affect a dog’s immunity. It is safe to assume that most shelter dogs have been exposed to at least one of these viruses or to bordetella prior to transport. Even if they are not displaying any symptoms before they travel, the stressful trip to D.C. causes their immune system to succumb to the infection and a cough develops.

How contagious are these agents? Unfortunately, all of the causes for kennel cough are highly contagious. Most infections are spread through aerosol (moisture droplets) from sneezing or coughing, and also through fomites. A fomite is any object which can transport the virus including people, clothing, shoes, or anything which is moved from one area to another. Veterinarians recommend that any dog that is suspected of having kennel cough be isolated from other dogs for 14 days, however they are usually only contagious for the first 7-10 days of illness. Of course, isolating dogs is often not a possibility for a foster or for newly adopted dogs, but the next paragraph explains why we are willing to risk exposure.

Should I be worried about bringing a coughing dog home? As we just discussed, most of the agents are highly infectious to other dogs. Whether a dog develops a cough from these viruses is entirely dependent on their immunity, which is shaped by their previous exposure (doggie day care etc) or vaccinations. Most young, healthy, vaccinated dogs are not at risk of becoming very sick from exposure to a new house mate. Similar to sending your children to school, there is always the risk of a dog developing a cough despite being the healthiest dog on the block. The more important point is that these infections are almost always mild, short lived and should not cause any lasting harm.

If most of these infections are viral, why does my veterinarian often treat with antibiotics? As in people, most viral infections cannot be treated directly. The main concern with a primary viral infection is that a secondary bacterial infection can develop. By treating with antibiotics, we can decrease the chance that a cough will develop into pneumonia. In addition, because bordetella is a bacteria and not a virus, it is very susceptible to an antibiotic called doxycycline. Thus, a course of doxycycline not only treats the bacteria but also can also limit the period in which it is contagious to other dogs.

When and why should I vaccinate? Unfortunately, immunity to bordetella is short lived, and most veterinarians recommend that any dog at high risk (doggie day care, grooming facilities, boarding facilities etc) be vaccinated as often as every 6 months. The vaccination can be either intranasal or injectable. Both of these work well, however the intranasal is much quicker in providing an immune response. There is also a vaccination for CIV (canine flu) available, and although we do not know how common CIV is in our local dog population, veterinarians currently recommend the vaccine for any dogs who fall within that same high risk category. As with the flu vaccine in people, none of these are 100% protective. Most boarding facilities require these vaccinations not just for your dog’s well-being, but also to keep the prevalence of these infectious agents to a minimum in their facility.

When should I be concerned that this is more serious than kennel cough? It is important to understand that there are many causes for coughing in dogs. If a cough is from CIRD your dog would have a history of interaction with other dogs, and the cough would start within the first week or so after exposure. The main concern with CIRD is its potential to lead to pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. If your dog’s cough persists for more than 3 weeks, if your dog becomes lethargic, stops eating, or is having difficulty breathing, he or she should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Heart disease, heartworm infection, lower airway disease (similar to asthma or COPD in people), parasitic or fungal infection, cancer and others are all possible causes for a cough. If a cough slowly progresses over weeks to months, and is unresponsive to antibiotics, it may not be a simple case of kennel cough. A physical exam by a veterinarian and chest x-rays are usually the next step to evaluate the lungs and airways.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about your dog’s cough, do not hesitate to contact or visit your local veterinarian.

Submitted by:
Jonathan Smith, VMD
Larkin Veterinary Center
2333 Penn Avenue
West Lawn, PA 19609

How to brush your dog’s teeth

Dental disease is the single most widespread health problem in pets, and we know that good oral hygiene will add an average of 3 years of healthy life states Jamie Przybysz, CVT, at Bush Animal Hospital in Eugene, OR. Time to get out the toothbrush!

Ask your dog to sit or gently position into a seated 1  Carefully lift the lips to expose the teeth.  Praise the dog frequently during the procedure.  Simply examine the gum line for just a minute or two for the next few days.   The best time to brush is after the evening meal, when both you and your dog are relaxed.  My dog has been familiar with watching me brush my teeth, so I trained him to come and sit while I’m brushing my teeth, then he gets a treat reward before and after his brushing.  He learned this routine very quickly!  

When your dog is comfortable with sitting and hdental 2aving the lips handled, rub your finger over the teeth and gums for a minute or two.  This will get him used to having something in his mouth.  Next, put a small amount of specially formulated pet toothpaste onto your finger and allow the pet to taste it.

Next, you may want to graduate to a finger brush or gauze square. Gently rub the gauze over the teeth and along the gumline. You only need to concentrate on the outside of the teeth.  Make sure you are reaching the rear molars because this is where the majority of dental disease occurs. 

Now, you both may be ready to graduate to a regular bristled toothbrush.  Apply a small amount of paste onto the brush.  Place the brush bristles at a 45 degredental 4e angle to the gumline.  Move the brush gently in circular patterns over the teeth.  Start by only brushing a few teeth for a few seconds.  Don’t forget to praise your dog all along the way!  As the brushing sessions continue, include more teeth and build up to about 30 – 60 seconds on each side.  The teeth should also be brushed in a back and forth motion.  Brushing should be done every 24 – 48 hours. 

Submitted by:

Jamie Przybysz, CVT
Bush Animal Hospital
2415 Oakmont Way
Eugene, OR 97401

So just what is inolved in a dental cleaning?

Every day, owners have questions about dental cleanings for their pets. What happens? Is it safe? Why does my pet have to have anesthesia to clean his teeth? We asked our doctors to help explain the procedure, and let you in on what goes on during a routine dental cleaning.

Why is anesthesia necessary? cat dental

Much like your experience at the dentist, a dental procedure involves using tools that vibrate at high frequencies, make loud sounds, and spray jets of water. The use of general anesthesia allows your veterinarian full access to the teeth, gums, and below the gum line.

What is involved in a dental procedure?

1. The beginning of the procedure involves cleaning off the tartar and calculus that is firmly adhered to the teeth; this requires both specialized dental tools with sharper edges, and machine assistance. Then a dental machine that utilizes ultrasonic vibrations to break-up mineralized tartar is used to remove remaining build-up on the surfaces of the teeth. A combination of the scaling machine and hand tools are used to remove tartar and calculus both above and below the gum line.

2. The teeth are polished with a mildly abrasive paste and polisher tool to smooth the enamel surfaces.

3. A protective substance, such as fluoride, is applied to the teeth to strengthen the enamel and kill bacteria responsible for dental disease. 

Your veterinarian and veterinary technicians function as a team, working and monitoring your pet carefully to provide the best care and ensure safety. Machines are used to keep a close eye on your dog or cat’s vital signs. Veterinarians are trained carefully to provide safe anesthesia, and to make your companion as comfortable as possible. Ask your veterinarian if you have any further questions and concerns about feline dentistry and anesthetic safety.






Arthritis? Are you crazy? My dog is only 5 years old!

Most of us have had dogs in our home that reach that ripe old age where they start to slow down.  Sometimes it’s difficulty getting up, sometimes it’s simply having less interest in longer walks. Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease, DJD) is a progressive condition that will affect most of our pets at some point in their life states Dr. Jonathan Smith, VMD, from Larkin Veterinary Center from West Lawn, PA.  Common signs of the joint pain associated with DJD include difficulty rising or climbing stairs, difficulty getting in and out of cars or onto furniture, limping, and  having an abnormal gait.  It is important to recognize the early signs of DJD and it’s causes so you can help to limit the impact of this disease as your dog ages. In normal joints in a dog, cat, or person, the articulating bones move smoothly and comfortably against each other, allowing easy movement. The key to this smooth joint operation is cartilage, which covers the surface of both bones where they come into contact.  Cartilage is a soft rubbery tissue that acts as lubrication and a shock absorber.  When damaged, or worn down through a lifetime of use, joints no longer work so smoothly.  In addition, the body’s natural inflammatory response also slowly contributes to the chronic changes in any joint with DJD. You might ask yourself, then, “why does my dog have arthritis while other dogs of the same age appear to be unaffected?” The simple answer is that size matters.  There are many potential risk factors for any dog that can make them more or less likely to acquire DJD at any age, most of which are related to how much weight the joints have to support:

  • Being a Large or Giant Breed: Larger breeds of dogs simply weigh more, and daily exercise causes more trauma to their joints than with a smaller dog. Many larger breeds are also predisposed to abnormal joint conditions such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate injuries, and other conditions discussed below.
  • Obesity: Even if your dog is not a larger breed, if they are overweight it will cause more trauma to their joints during their normal routine.
  • Joint Instability: Normal cartilage can be damaged when joint surfaces don’t line up properly or wear unevenly. The most common conditions of joint instability in dogsinclude:
    • Hip Dysplasia: Common to many larger breeds, this is a condition where the hip joint does not form appropriately. Similar to people, the hip joint in dogs is made up of a ball (at the top of the femur) and socket (of the pelvis). Dogs with hip dysplasia often have a shallow socket resulting in limited contact between ball and socket, and also excess laxity.  Both of these allow the ball of the femur to pop in and out of the joint easily.
    • Elbow Dysplasia: Also affecting many larger breeds, this condition can be caused by a number of abnormalities of the bones that make up the elbow, resulting in poor joint alignment .
    • Cruciate Tear: While cartilage ensures smooth operation of the joints, ligaments hold the joints together, ensuring correct alignment. Like football players, larger dogs are prone to tearing their crainal cruciate ligament (CCL) which leads to instability in their knee.
    • Luxating Patellas: While larger dogs are more likely to suffer from dysplasia and ligament tears, smaller dogs can have kneecap problems. Usually affecting smaller breeds, this condition causes the kneecap to pop in and out of place (usually inward), which can result in  abnormal function and wear and tear.

How can you minimize the impact of DJD in your dog?  For any  larger dog, or any dog who already has osteoarthritis, the most important thing you can do is to keep them as lean as possible, so as to limit the trauma to their joints. In addition, most of the above conditions can be successfully corrected surgically.  If done early enough, this can significantly reduce future joint damage. If your dog already has DJD, don’t feel helpless! There are many options out there to help slow the progression of their osteoarthritis and help control their pain, including:

  • Controlled Exercise: While it may seem counter-intuitive, exercise is actually very important to keeping the muscles that support the joints strong. Low impact activities such as leashed daily walks, swimming, or even slow jogging are acceptable.
  • Weight Reduction: As discussed above, by keeping our pets lean we help to limit the impact on their joints. Feel free to ask your local veterinarian for guidance.
  • Supplements: Glucosamine/chondroitan sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) in the correct proportions can help support joint health and also have anti-inflammatory properties. Many products or prescription diets (Hills J/D) are available at your veterinarian’s office or can be purchased over the counter.
  • Physical Therapy: There are many options for physical therapy for dogs with DJD.  Ask your veterinarian for more information and a referral.
  • Prescription Medications:  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Rimadyl or Dermaxx are safe and effective medications for dogs with DJD. When these medications are used long term, routine bloodwork should be performed to ensure adequate liver and kidney health. Other pain medications (tramadol, gabapentin) can also be effective, either on their own or in combination with NSAIDS.
  • Injectable Agents: Adequan acts to promote joint health and limits the breakdown of cartilage. Ask your veterinarian for details on this treament.

While osteoarthritis can sound like a horrible thing, it’s important to remember that there are many treatments that can help your dog feel more comfortable. The key to preventing this condition in your own dog is to recognize potential risk factors, and to look for early signs of DJD so that treatment can help to limit it’s progression. As always, your veterinarian can help you decide what treatment options are best for your own furry family member.

Submitted by:
Jonathan Smith, VMD
Larkin Veterinary Center
2333 Penn Avenue
West Lawn, PA 19609


Making a Difference: C.A.R.E NC

Canine Assisted Rehabilitation for the Elderly, or C.A.R.E. NC was founded by Dr. Julianne Davis, of Quail Corners Animal Hospital in Raleigh NC. C.A.R.E. NC is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming shelter dogs into therapeutic visitors for the elderly of Wake County.  In this way, their mission is two-fold with the aim of increasing adoptability of these dogs while motivating senior citizens through the healing power of pets.

Chief and Dr. Davis at Morningside Assisted Living.

The idea for the non-profit was actually spawned from her adopted dog, Chief, an extremely loving and affectionate German Shepherd, who Dr. Davis realized would make a perfect fit for service work.  Soon after, she began taking him to Spring Arbor Assisted Living facility in Raleigh in early spring of 2011, “The experiences we had with the elderly changed everything. What if shelter dogs could be transformed into visitors for the elderly while they are waiting to be adopted? The behavior training would not only increase their adoptability but enrich the lives of the senior citizens. It’s a WIN-WIN!”

C.A.R.E dogs are currently therapeutic visitors at 4 facilities throughout Wake County. Dr. Davis noted that starting a non-profit organization has been an enormous amount of work, but the responses received have been amazing. “A visit with one of our dogs is the highlight of the week for many seniors. The dogs help to decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation that many of the residents face daily.  Ironically, many of the shelter dogs share these same feelings. As an individual I believe that we have to be the change we want to see the in the world.  One person (or dog) can make a difference.”

Though still in the early days, C.A.R.E NC hopes to continue to grow and engage more assisted living communities throughout the region.  To learn more about this amazing program and how to lend support visit the C.A.R.E. NC website at

Can my pet make me sick?

Did you know… Several diseases can be transmitted from pet to person, and vice-versa?

If you’ve ever shared your home with other people, you know that illnesses can travel from one person to another, until everyone’s been infected. The same can happen with pets and, even worse, illnesses can transfer from pets to people and back again. We call this zoonotic disease, and protecting your pets is the first step to protecting the rest of your family. Here are just a couple of the zoonotic diseases you should watch out for:

Mange Caused by specific mite species
Transmitted pet-to person through direct contact with mites on an infected animal

Signs and complications in pets: Itching, hair loss, dandruff or crusty lesions, and bleeding or oozing skin

Hookworm Infection Hookworms are thick, short (6- to 12-mm) worms that are whitish to reddish brown with a hooked front end. They live in the gastrointestinal tract. Transmitted pet-to-person through skin or fecal-oral contact

Signs and complications in pets: Diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and deterioration of the skin and coat condition; adult dogs and cats may not show signs.