Grain free diets may risk your dogs health

Dogs on Grain-Free diets may be at risk for heart disease

Many of you may have seen in the news recently that a correlation has been identified between heart disease in dogs and Grain Free diets, or diets with exotic ingredients.  

This posting out of Tuft University’s Veterinary School’s Nutrition department best describes the findings to date, symptoms, and concerns.  

We have had one confirmed patient at our hospital with dilated cardiomyopathy (in a non at-risk breed).  He had a new heart murmur on his yearly physical exam and the cardiologist found that he had a markedly enlarged heart, as well as inadequate blood taurine levels.  He was also on a grain free diet.  

So what food should you feed if your dog hasn’t been diagnosed with a grain intolerance?  Please either do your own research using the below link or ask your veterinarian.  Do NOT rely on the people selling the food at the pet store as they usually have no nutrition science or veterinary education at all.  We are repeatedly hearing all sorts of misinformation being passed along this way – often contributing to further issues with our patients.  The internet is also a terrible resource for food research unless you stick to the guidelines provided by Tufts  here.

The foods that our veterinarians trust the most and feed to our own pets are from companies that have done extensive published research on their foods, have tracked life studies of pets fed their foods, produce their own foods in their own facilities (label will say “manufactured by” not “manufactured for”), and rigorously perform quality controls on their foods all the time.  Because they are big name companies and major competitors, they are often disparaged by the boutique food companies and the people who sell them.  

These companies that we trust and recommend for cats and dogs are Hill’s/Science Diet, Royal Canin, Iams/Eukanuba, and Purina.  So, while we love to support the little guys, being one ourself, pet food production is an area where we just don’t think it can be done right without extensive testing, quality control, and life studies which most little companies can’t afford to do.  

We are here for you if you have any questions!

Dr. Amy Tongue and team

Help Pets Beat The Heat

Summer Heat and Your Pet

Beat the Heat





A record breaking heat wave is expected to arrive in Oregon this week!

We have some ideas below on how to help keep your pets cool, and when to be concerned about heat stroke.




Strategies to avoid heat stroke;

  • Make sure pets have unlimited access to cool water.
  • If outside, be sure pets have access to shade.
  • Limit exercise to cool mornings and evenings.
  • Asphalt can get very hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating
  • Kiddie pools can be a great idea for dogs – just ask Patrick 🙂
  • Brush matted hair and old dead coat from pets to help keep them comfortable. Shaving the hair off isn’t something we recommend, since the layers of healthy hair help to protect pets from sunburn and overheating.
  • Offer a cool damp towel out of the freezer for cats to lie on.

Watch for signs of heatstroke –

Heat stroke happens when a dog or cat cannot maintain their core body temperature of 101 to 102 degrees. If their temperature rises to 105 degrees or higher all body systems begin to fail.

Pets with flat faces, like Bulldogs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke. These pets, senior pets, and overweight pets or those with heart or lung disease, should be kept in cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

Signs of heat stroke in dogs and cats include;

  • Excessive panting.
  • Thick ropey saliva
  • Dry/tacky gums
  • Blood red gums early on that will turn blue gray as shock sets in.
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures.
  • If heat stroke is suspected, transport your pet to the nearest veterinary facility immediately.

Home treatment of very mild cases of heat stroke would include;

  • Moving your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
  • Apply cold wet towels to the pets head, neck, chest, legs and belly, or run cool (not cold) water over them. Placing the pet in a kiddie pool or bathtub of cool water is ideal providing there is no risk of the pet accidentally inhaling and choking on the water.
  • Let them drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Use a rectal thermometer to check the pets temperature and if it has not returned to 102 or lower, transport to a veterinary medical facility is advised.

Considerations for small pets such as Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, and Rabbits – 11412230_10153027111080345_5893568241467560269_n

Our small pets are also susceptible to heat stroke in hot weather.

How to try and avoid heat stroke in small pets;

  • Make sure they are in a shaded and well ventilated area. Access to a low breeze from a fan is a simple way to provide ventilation.
  • Be sure they have easy access to cool water at all times.
  • Cool, fresh vegetables may help them with comfort and hydration.
  • Freeze water in a gallon milk jug or 2 liter soda bottle and place it in the area of the pet. Often times they will lie down beside it to help cool themselves off. Another option is a sealed bag of ice with a pie pan or terracotta saucer over the top of it. The pet can sprawl their belly across the plate and gain relief from the heat.
  • Place cool tiles on the floor of their living quarters for them to lie on.
  • Dampen the ears with cool (not cold) water from your fingertips or a towel.

Signs of heat stroke in small mammals include;

  • Drooling.
  • Panting.
  • Weakness.
  • Unable to stand or walk.
  • Twitching/seizures.
  • Transport to your nearest veterinary facility if heat stroke is suspected.



Relax and enjoy the summer sun with your pets – just be aware of the little details that can prevent big heartbreak.

Happy summer from Team OVH!


The fluff on grooming – by Eve, OVH groomer

If your dog has hair, this blog is for you!

Professional pet grooming; what is it all about?

grom 4Here at OVH we groom about 17 dogs a day, and our two groomers Eve and Kristen have been with OVH for a combined 24 years, so it is fair to say they have handled many (understatement) dogs, and learned some valuable lessons; and that is what gave us the idea for this blog.

One of the elements involved in the grooming experience can be anxiety for the pet, which of course (and rightly so) often translates to anxiety for you. Some examples of anxiety for dogs include; trembling, barking, or trying to follow as you leave. For dogs, their people and sibling dogs are their pack, and being abandoned by your pack can cause some dramatic responses. The good news is that once you leave, most dogs relax significantly and will happily follow the groomer into the salon. Dogs adapt quickly to their surroundings and our groomers give them time to adjust, relax and become familiar with the experience. Having your dog on a regular grooming schedule will significantly increase their comfort level, and many of our “regulars” can’t wait to visit Auntie Eve and Kristen!

What is the right grooming style?

groom 3

There are several variables in finding the right style for your dog;

  • The condition of the coat.
  • The breed of the dog.
  • What you want the end result to be.

Communication with the groomer is critical. What a “puppy cut” means to us and what it means to you can be surprisingly different.

It isn’t uncommon for a dog to come to us that has a very matted coat, especially in the undercoat, or the layer of hair closest to the skin. Dogs can sometimes look silky on the top, but be very matted underneath, and those mats are often discovered by the groomer. In these scenarios we will call you and discuss options. Sometimes our talented groomers can slowly and gently “de-mat” the coat, which is essentially combing and brushing very small patches at a time. Often times, the de-matting won’t be an option and in these situations, we will recommend a complete shave down.  The good news is the hair will usually grow back healthy and beautiful, although if your pet has any underlying health conditions, some hair coats will grow back with a different texture or in uneven patches; but it will always be more comfortable and healthier to remove the matted coat. On occasion, under the mats our groomers find skin issues, lesions from the matting, or even a wound. We will always notify you immediately and together with you, our groomers and our doctors will implement a plan that will allow your pet to feel their best again.


If we do shave down your pet, when it grows back we can start to work on finding the perfect style.  Once we have found a haircut and style you like, and that can be easily manageable at home we have accomplished our goal for you and the pet.

Even smaller mats and knots can cause discomfort during grooming. Brushing out your pet can even cause some irritation in the form of “brush burns”.  Brush burn causes irritation to the pet’s skin due to continual brushing over the same area to loosen the tangle.  Consider what it feels like to brush out your own hair when there is a tangle or gum.  Now imagine the size of your pets tangle, sometimes across the chest or the around the knee.  It can be uncomfortable to say the least.  This is one reason why regular grooming is so important, and we are here to help teach you exactly what you can do at home to keep them in great shape between grooms.

What can you expect after grooming? Usually just a clean, fluffy, happy and sweet smelling dog! There are some post groom conditions to watch out for;

  • Head shaking after grooming is common since we clean your pet’s ears and in some cases we pluck the hair inside of their ears.  Check your pet’s ears the next day for wax or debris or inflammation. It is unlikely you will find any issues, but if you have any concerns we are always here for you.  If there was severe matting removed from their ears they may shake their head quite a bit, and if this happens you’ll want to give us a call so we can discuss a course of action to bring your pet relief.
  • Itching or scratching after grooming. Multiple reasons exist for this condition including;
    • Preexisting allergies.
    • Flea bites
    • Infection
    • Hotspots
    • Tiny hairs left behind after a haircut can irritate your dog like it irritates us after a haircut. A gentle going over with baby wipes usually resolves this quickly.
    • On very rare occasions a pet will have a reaction to the shampoo, conditioner or cologne. In this situation, if the pet is distressed, we can re-bath with a soothing product and make sure we do not use the previous product on your pet again.

Don’t forget the nail care – an important part of grooming for all pets. At OVH we use the dremel tool almost exclusively because we can get a shorter, smoother nail trim with less worries for the pet than with the old fashioned nail clippers. The clippers can pinch the nail and can be very uncomfortable.  Although it happens much less often when using a dremel tool; on occasion we will have a bleeding nail, and it is usually much more dramatic than it looks. We will stop the bleeding before you leave, but if it happens to reopen, using flour, baking powder or direct pressure for a minute or two will help it to stop leaking

A pet new to grooming has a lot to experience at first; bathing, dryers, other dogs nearby, dremels and clippers, can all cause some pets to feel a bit over stimulated. At OVH we speak soothingly to the pets, give them the time they need to investigate and adjust to these new experiences. On occasion the more stressed pets can have some gastrointestinal upset or just be very tired from their day. As always, call us with any concerns or questions.

groom 10

Over time most pets look forward to their grooming day, and we even have a few geriatric dogs who receive soothing salt soaks, and they become so relaxed during the soak that they fall asleep in the tub.♥ As your pet adjusts to the routine of regular grooming, they become more cooperative and the groomer can perform some of the finer finishing touches that really set your pet apart.

Make grooming a regular part of your pet’s health care, we think you AND your pet will be glad you did!



My dizzy old dog ~ By Jessie, Practice Manager

Meet Ringo (AKA Wonder Dog). He is a 14 year old Australian Cattle Dog, who has traveled the Country, mentored many a rescue pup, and is, in general, made of pure canine awesomeness.

Ringo and his head tilt

One evening a few months back, Ringo was walking down the hallway of our home and seemed to slip on the smooth floor and scramble to regain his footing. He eventually got up, seemed none the worse, and continued on his way. The next day, we were all outside and Ringo was sitting in the sun. I called all the dogs (3 and that’s another blog altogether) to come in the house, and Ringo rose, staggered sharply to his left for about 8 feet and then fell flat on his side and was unable to coordinate his body to rise without falling back over.

Welcome to Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome: sad, frightening, and unpredictable, but usually temporary and manageable.

When we talk about Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome, we can get into some very clinical data such as peripheral or central vestibular syndrome, and other neurological details, but today we are just here to talk about Ringo, and what we experienced as the family who loves him.

Once Ringo fell that afternoon, his symptoms continued to worsen for about 24 hours before he seemed to stabilize. By then he was unable to walk without falling over, was vomiting from the nausea that comes from being dizzy, had refused to eat, and had a fairly significant head tilt to the left. He went through a phase of feeling a little panicked at the loss of balance and would try to fight it by moving swiftly, only to end up falling and flailing helplessly. Even though I have seen quite a few of our canine patients suffer from this syndrome, I wasn’t fully prepared for how disturbing it would be to try and manage my own dog.

Ringo was admitted to our hospital, placed on IV fluids,  nausea medication and also received acupuncture to help with his nausea. Once he was made comfortable, we performed a thorough workup including lab work, ultrasound and an extensive physical exam. When our doctors felt confident the symptoms could be attributed to Old Dog Vestibular Disease, we decided to treat him for dehydration and nausea, keep him safe and prevent him from hurting himself (in other words, no stairs, steep inclines or uneven ground), and support his body while it rested through the syndrome. As a side note, he has always hated to be picked up or carried, but since he has never completely returned to normal (he now has a new normal), he has learned to tolerate being picked up and carried with minimal grumbling.

It is now about 4 months later. Ringo still has a slight head tilt, and his balance never returned to where it was prior to the episode. But he navigates just fine on his own, even on stairs, although he does so carefully and we avoid them when possible. His appetite is good, and in general he has a good quality of life for an old man who can’t hear or see that well.

Over the years I have told owners many times, “I know it looks dramatic, but given a chance, it usually resolves”, just hang in there”. In the future, I’ll offer the same sincere words, along with a personal story about my dizzy old dog.

For more information of this syndrome click HERE

Got Ticks?

Ticks: Arthropod Parasitesticks 2015

Until recently, ticks were rarely seen on our patients at Oswego Veterinary Hospital unless they had traveled to tick heavy regions such as the Columbia River gorge, southern Oregon, or Northern California.  This year, 2015, we are seeing a significantly higher number of ticks in our patients who haven’t even left Lake Oswego.  This increase in tick exposure is thought to be due to the increasingly warmer, drier weather trends.

Ticks are skin parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts.  Ticks like motion, warm temperatures from body heat, and the carbon dioxide exhaled by mammals, which is why they are attracted to such hosts as dogs, cats, rodents, rabbits, cattle, small mammals, etc.  The bite itself is not usually painful, but the parasite can transmit multiple diseases.   It takes several hours for an attached tick to transmit disease, so owners can usually prevent disease transmission to their pets by following a regular schedule to look for and remove ticks.

Most types of ticks require three hosts during a two-year lifespan – each tick stage requires a blood meal before it can reach the next stage.  Hard ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult.  Larvae and nymphs must feed before they detach and molt.  Adult female ticks can engorge, increasing their weight by more than 100 fold.

During the egg-laying stage, ticks lay eggs in secluded areas with dense vegetation.  The eggs hatch within two weeks.  Some species of ticks lay 100 eggs at a time, others lay 3,000 to 6,000 per batch.  Once the eggs hatch, the ticks are in the larval stage, during which time the larvae move into grass and search for their first blood meal.  At this stage, they will attach themselves for several days to their first host, usually a bird or rodent, and then fall onto the ground.  The nymph stage begins after the first blood meal is completed.  Nymphs remain inactive during winter and start moving again in spring.  Nymphs find a host, usually a rodent, pet, or human.  Nymphs are generally about the size of a freckle. After this blood meal, ticks fall off the host and move into the adult stage. Throughout the autumn, male and female adults find a host, which is again usually a rodent, pet, or human.  The adult female feeds for 8 to 12 days.  The female mates while still attached to her host.  Both ticks fall off, and the males die.  The female remains inactive through the winter and in the spring lays her eggs in a secluded place.  If adults cannot find a host animal in the fall, they can survive in leaf litter until the spring.

What are the best ways to deal with these blood-sucking parasites?

Environmental Control

Treating the yard and outdoor kennel area with a tick spray can be an important tool in the arsenal against ticks. During prime tick months in the summer, spraying may be necessary every 1 to 2 weeks.

If ticks are indoors, flea and tick foggers, sprays, or powders can be used. Inside, ticks typically crawl (they don’t jump) up and may be in cracks around windows and doors. A one-foot barrier of insecticide, where the carpeting and wall meet, can help with tick control.

Prevent Ticks from Attaching

There are over 15 products currently marketed for tick control in dogs and cats.  Please consult with your veterinarian as to which product might be safest and most effective for your pets based on their health, lifestyle, and number/type of pets in your household.  For pets already on a flea/heartworm product, most tick products are safe to give as long as they are different types of insecticides.  Two different tick products should never be used at the same time.  Some of the products we carry either in the clinic or on our online store are summarized here:


  • Frontline (fipronil) is a liquid applied to the skin between a dog’s shoulders that discourages ticks from staying or implanting. This product lasts a month, also kills fleas and comes in dog and cat doses.
  • Revolution (selamectin) is labeled for one kind of tick.
  • (Advantix works great for dogs but can be fatal to cats, so should not be used in any household that has cats, or on dogs that may be around cats. For this reason, we do not carry it or recommend using)


  • Preventic collar (Amitraz)– DOGS ONLY over 12 weeks of age. Provides up to 90 days of protection against all types of ticks (not fleas). It is water resistant but should be removed for bathing.  Reaches maximum effect in less than 24 hours.
  • Seresto collar (Imidacloprid and Flumethrin) – DOGS AND CATS. Provides up to 8 months of tick and flea protection.  Does not need to be removed for bathing but more than once monthly baths will reduce effectiveness to 5 months.  Reaches maximum effect in 48 hours.
  • Scalibor collar (Deltamethrin) – DOGS ONLY over 12 weeks of age. Provides up to 6 months of tick protection.  Also kills fleas and repels flies and mosquitoes.  Takes 2-3 weeks to reach maximum effect.


  • Bravecto (Flurolaner) – DOGS ONLY over 6 months of age. Provides up to 90 days of protection against ticks and fleas. Maximum effect for fleas is 8 hours, ticks 48 hours.
  • Nexgard (Afoxolaner) – DOGS ONLY over 8 weeks of age.  Provides up to 30 days of protection against ticks and fleas.  Maximum effect for fleas is 8 hours, ticks 48 hours.  (This is not currently available on our online store, but Bravecto is)

Flea combs can be used to help remove ticks. Wash your pet’s bed frequently.

Some people use a topical spray, but don’t realize they should not use more than one insecticide or repellent.  Doubling the amount of anti-tick product, or using two at once, may cause toxicity problems.  DEET, found in many over-the-counter insecticides, is toxic to pets.  Any spray insecticide labeled for use on clothing should not be sprayed directly on pets.

Find and Remove the Ticks

The best way to find ticks on your pet is to run your hands over the whole body.  Check for ticks every time your pet comes back from an area you know is inhabited by ticks.  Ticks attach most frequently around the pet’s head, ears, neck, and feet, but are by no means restricted to those areas.

The safest way to remove a tick is to use rubbing alcohol and a pair of tweezers.  Dab rubbing alcohol on the tick, and then use the tweezers to take hold of the tick as close to the dog’s skin as you can; pull slowly and steadily.  Try not to leave the tick’s head embedded in the dog’s skin.  Don’t squeeze the tick because it might inject some disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or other agents, into the animal during the process.  Risk of disease transmission to you, while removing ticks, is low but you should wear gloves if you wish to be perfectly safe. Do not apply hot matches, petroleum jelly, turpentine, nail polish, or just rubbing alcohol alone (the tick must be pulled out after application of alcohol) because these methods do not remove the ticks and they are not safe for your pet.

Once you have removed a live tick, don’t dispose of it until you have killed it.  Put the tick in alcohol or insecticide to kill it.

Watch/Test for Infection and Diseases

After you pull a tick off, there will be a local area of inflammation that could look red, crusty, or scabby. The tick’s attachment causes irritation.  The site can get infected; if the pet is scratching at it, it is more apt to get infected.  A mild antibiotic, such as over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment can help, but usually is not necessary. The inflammation should go down within a week. If it stays crusty and inflamed longer than a week, it might have become infected and you should call your veterinarian.

Ticks can contract disease from a previous host that can then be transmitted to pets and humans.  Ticks can parasitize many different mammal species, birds, and reptiles.  Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis are probably the most common diseases transmitted by ticks on the west coast.  Ehrilichiosis is a rickettsial disease, and its progression from an acute to a chronic stage can be prevented by early treatment.  Babesiosis is a tick borne disease that causes red blood cell destruction and anemia in cats.  Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most prevalent rickettsial disease in humans.

Since ticks are just recently becoming more prevalent in the Portland area, we do not yet know the incidence of disease they may carry.  For this reason, if you find a tick on your pet we are now recommending that you schedule an appointment to test your pet for Lyme disease and ehrichiosis 2 months later so that if your pet does have this disease, we can institute treatment before they become symptomatic. 

While ticks can transmit diseases, they are usually nothing more than a nuisance.  The best approach is to prevent them from embedding, and once embedded, to remove them quickly.  As long as you stay on top of the situation, your pets should cruise right through the tick season with no problems.

Adapted from Veterinary Partner article, Authored by: Becky Lundgren, DVM

Ultrasound, a window into your pet – by Kathy Sandifer DVM

Oswego Veterinary Hospital now offers ultrasound evaluation for our patients. Ultrasound is a pain free, noninvasive procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to produce a real-time moving image of your pet’s internal organs. The procedure allows our veterinarians to achieve a greater depth of detail that often complements information obtained from X-ray examinations. We are able to ultrasound the urinary tract, the abdomen, and also provide ultrasound-guided biopsies. Cardiac ultrasounds are performed by Dr Rausch, a board certified cardiologist who comes to our clinic on a regular basis.

Ultrasound is very useful to evaluate the bladder and kidneys. If a patient is experiencing frequent or inappropriate urination, bloody urine or signs of kidney disease, ultrasound can be used to identify stones, cystitis, cancer and a number of kidney problems. It can be used in sick or fragile patients when general anesthesia may be a risk.

Abdominal ultrasound allows full examination of your pet’s liver, gallbladder, spleen, adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys, urinary bladder, and parts of the stomach and intestines. Ultrasound examination of these organs is crucial when a diagnosis depends upon seeing inside an organ, or when surgery or anesthesia would not be desirable. Abdominal ultrasound has become standard protocol for the diagnosis and treatment of liver diseases, pancreatitis, and many types of cancer.

Using the ultrasound image as a guide, surgical biopsies can be obtained without major surgery and your pet can often go home the same day. An ultrasound is typically performed after blood tests, X-rays, and a physical examination indicates an underlying problem. Ultrasounds are typically not stressful for your pet and take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to perform. Everyone here at OVH is pleased and excited to be able to offer ultrasound examinations as part of our goal to keep your pet healthy.

Below is an ultrasound image of a bladder mass (tumor), on a sweet Scottie dog. The ultrasound technology enabled us to quickly and comfortably confirm the mass, and measure it, which will enable us to track how aggressive the mass is growing in future ultrasounds.

                                                       Click on image to enlargeBladder Mass

Dog Days of Summer – By Huckleberry With Help From Stephanie, Client Care Coordinator

Huckleberry Finn and Patrick

Summer is here!! I looove summertime. I’m a lucky pup and my mom (Stephanie) takes me and my brother dog on long walks all year round, but let me tell you, sometimes I try and just convince her to stay in bed when it’s raining outside (unfortunately, Patrick doesn’t feel the same so I get out-voted). But the beautiful weather is here now and I love the heat! Continue reading “Dog Days of Summer – By Huckleberry With Help From Stephanie, Client Care Coordinator”