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!


Holiday tales of pet escapades from Dr. Duggan (or – how to try and keep pets safe over the holidays) ♥

         The fall and winter holidays are here again, times of the year when we often change up our routines with extra visits from friends and family, and along for the ride come foods, treats, and appealing decorations, packages and gifts.  Sometimes, these can be a hazard to our family pets. Hopefully, you and your pets have made it through Halloween and Thanksgiving unscathed.

         There are many resources out there which talk about holiday hazards.  Many foods are hazardous to dogs, either because they are toxic (such as chocolate or grapes), or can harm their digestive tract (bones, or food packaging, or bread dough), or for other reasons. Check out this ASPCA link for more:  Other hazards can be unexpected. The puppy chews an extension cord for the holiday lights. A house cat sneaks outside and gets lost when the front door is left open by a guest.  Or medication is left open in a bedroom and ingested by the dog. Even sugar-free gum or candies laid down by a guest on a night table can be dangerous to dogs due to the ingredient xylitol. Cats are at risk for eating shiny tinsel or other ribbons they play with, resulting in a serious intestinal foreign body obstruction.  Similarly, some fun new toy or fabric ingested by the dog can also result in an obstruction. Decorative plants can cause gastrointestinal upset or even death when ingested– keep lillies, daffodils, amarillys, holly and mistletoe out of pets’ reach. Poinsettia is not very toxic, but its leaves are irritating to the mouth tissue, and will cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested in large amounts.  Sadly, our dogs and cats can find many ways of getting themselves into trouble.

         I learned along the way that Christmas gifts under the tree can be tempting to dogs. A gift sent from my mother who lives in another state was helpfully opened one night by our old dog, Sadie. She also helpfully sorted through the clothing to find the small box of chocolates (gone but for the leftover box) and a bag of coffee.  Sadie wasn’t a coffee drinker:  after chewing open the package she decided it wasn’t for her and left us the rest. 

   clemmie-in-da-flour      A few years later, our dog Clementine had her own Christmas fun. I had ordered some baking supplies from King Arthur and had the large shipping box in my dining room. I knew there wasn’t anything in it to tempt Sadie’s nose, and Clemmie had never been one to chew on packages. But my mother, who was visiting, was the first one up the next morning and thought it had snowed inside my house.  Of the 4 bags of flour inside the (sealed) box, all but one had been opened and scattered.  Clemmie the black lab had a very suspicious white face. So much for the sale price of King Arthur flour.



This year, we have a 5 month old kitten, Blinky. Although she has only one eye, she is a fearsome stalker, and everything in our home is fair game. It has been many years since I’ve raised a kitten, and have always been lucky that my cats allowed me to ‘train’ them not to damage most of my possessions. Blinky is a bit of a challenge, she is very persistent when she wants something. I am still deciding if it is wise to give her a Christmas tree of her own to climb and attack. If I do, we won’t put any ornaments on it that I would be sad to lose. 


            We hope that you and yours have happy and safe holidays.


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!