Playing it Safe

Spring and Summer is such a great time to have a dog! Who doesn’t love running around outside with your best friend, throwing the ball or a Frisbee; fishing with a wonderful companion; or enjoying a hike through the woods, as your dog explores the underbrush around you?  Just remember, that as great as summer is, there can be hidden dangers to your pet, as well. Dogs have a harder time dealing with heat than we humans.

Remember, they wear fur coats 24/7! And dogs can only cool themselves off by panting and some sweating of the pads.  The best time to exercise with your dog is early morning, or in the evening, when the heat and humidity are lowest. This is especially important for the brachycephalic (smushy-faced) breeds like pugs or bulldogs, because their short noses can sometimes mean it is harder to pant. If you do need to be out in the hottest part of the day, make sure your pet has plenty of water and access to shade. We need to also remember that pavement can get extremely hot, and dogs don’t wear shoes. The pavement that is “hot enough to fry an egg” can burn the pads of your dog’s foot quickly. And, as always, do not leave your dog in the car during the summer. In fact, on a sunny 70 degree day, your car can heat up to over 100 degrees within minutes!

While swimming or boating with your pet, make sure they can swim or are wearing a life jacket.  Most dogs love the water and are natural swimmers but not all of them! Clean your dog’s ears regularly after swimming, to avoid infections.  Even our backyards can be dangerous at times. Many lawns are treated with fertilizers and pesticides during the summer, and dogs will walk on there and then lick their feet, ingesting these possibly toxic chemicals. Pool-owners, keep pool covers firmly in place,and make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladders are located. Our grills can also be a source of concern. Does your dog long to lick the drip pan? Barbecue scraps and fatty leftovers can give your pup pancreatitis, causing severe abdominal pain and vomiting. Corn cobs and peach pits are also a huge no-no because they can lodge in a dog’s intestines.  Lastly, every night after spending all these wonderful days together, be sure to inspect your pet for ticks. The deer tick can be very small—so look closely! Talk to your veterinarian to decide what the best tick-prevention product is for you, and for your best friend!

Dr. Erin Weiss is a mobile small animal veterinarian, who owns and operates Voyaging Vet and Tech Services with her partner, Patrice Anderson, CVT.  Voyaging Vet & Tech Services is a housecall only veterinary practice, specializing in wellness exams, vaccines, medical services, hospice care and home euthanasia. Dr. Erin lives on a hobby farm in Plum City, with her husband, 2 sons, her dog, and chickens.

Essential Oils for Tick Control

by Meg Wittenmyer, Bifrost Farms Boarding Kennel

You may think it’s too early to be talking about tick prevention, but for Wisconsonites, ticks and tick-borne diseases are never far from a dog owner’s mind. It is estimated by the CDC that up to 53 percent of all dogs who live in areas of our state (Northern and Western) where Lyme disease is most prevalent could be infected. Ideally, it is much easier to prevent a tick bite than to have to treat the disease once transmitted. There are a myriad of products sold over the counter to repel ticks and fleas, but those of us who would rather not put a deadly chemical on our beloved pets are always looking for natural alternatives.  Essential oils (EO) are ideal an ideal solution.

EO may be applied by spritzing your pet or by directly applying a diluted oil to their fur.  First, be sure that you are using therapeutic-grade pure essential oils, and when using on your pet, always dilute at a ratio of 2 to 3 drops per tablespoon of carrier oil (olive, coconut, jojoba, almond).

There are several oils that have been proven to repel ticks (and fleas) and can be used on humans, dogs, and horses. Most, however, cannot be used on cats. These oils are rose or rosewood, geranium, peppermint, grapefruit, myrrh, pennyroyal, and Palo Santo (a Young Living EO blend). Also, peppermint oil (undiluted) can be used to force a tick to release without leaving the head in your pet.

If your pet is unfortunate enough to contract Lyme disease, your veterinarian will undoubtedly want to oversee the pet’s treatment with antibiotics, which is the only known cure.  However, you can facilitate your pet’s recovery with oregano and peppermint oils, both of which contain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Just place a couple of diluted drops of either or both on your dog’s ears and inside the pads of their feet.

And remember to learn the symptoms of Lyme disease, so you can notice it early in your pet.  These include stiffness, achiness or swelling in one or more joints, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, or a stiff walk with arched back.  Consult your veterinarian immediately should you suspect your dog has been infected.

To make a spritzer for use in a spray bottle, use this formula:

1 cup of distilled water
2 drops geranium EO
2 drops Palo Santo EO
2 drops rosewood EO
1 drop myrrh EO
4 drops grapefruit EO
1 drop peppermint EO
1 drop of Castile soap (emollient)

Just Relax and Pant…

by Heather Mishefske

The Ancient Greek historian and writer Flavius Arrianus, recommended massage for all the horses and dogs under his care. He maintained that it would “knit and strengthen the limbs…make the hair soft and glossy, and…cleanse the impurities of the skin.”

Several centuries later, canine massage has gained momentum as an adjunct therapy to mainstream veterinary care. While many people conjure up images of expensive linens, lavender scented candles, and mystical music, massage on your own dogs can be done anywhere and anytime.

There are many reasons that a dog could benefit from massage. Many dogs who compete in performance events receive regular massages for muscle maintenance. The massage helps to warm up muscles for competition and to cool them down in post-event bodywork. Geriatric dogs benefit immensely from regular massage. Compensation in muscles comes from lack of strength in joints, whether due to arthritis or prior injuries. Dogs that have had recent surgeries, injuries, or chronic muscle issues can benefit from massage as well.

Massage therapy prevents injury and speeds the healing process. Manually working muscle tissue relieves spasms, increases circulation, relieves congestion, stimulates the lymphatic system, releases tension, hastens the elimination of waste, prevents muscle adhesions, encourages healing, lengthens connective tissue, increases range of motion, and enhances muscle tone. Just as in human massage therapy, canine massage can be relaxing, or more therapeutic in nature.

Always consult your veterinarian about contraindications to massaging your dog.

Massage can be performed in any environment in which the dog is comfortable. While many practitioners prefer to have the dog on a table, massage can be performed with your dog on the couch, on your bed, on the floor, or on any soft surface. Start by getting your dog used to you touching him/her. Always start with light touch and work your way into deeper pressure as your dog tolerates. Begin your work behind your dog’s head, at the beginning of the spine. The only absolute rule in canine massage is to NOT work over a boney prominence. This means to never push/massage across a bone…especially the spine. Work your hands down your dog’s neck. A dog’s neck houses muscles that are connected to the forelimbs. Dogs that are not using their rear end due to arthritis, surgery, etc., typically are using their front end more than a healthy dog.

Dogs carry 60 to 70 percent of their weight on their front limbs. Dogs that are compensating for rear end issues may carry up to 85 percent of their weight on their front end. This creates muscle spasms and shortened muscles in the front end. Then move down the dog’s chest, down the front limbs, making sure to touch all the toes and tendons down the forelimbs. Then move down the dog’s back, checking where there may be tight spots. The rear end and rear limbs are heavily muscled, so work into the muscles of the hind end and limbs. Use small circles all over the body while being thoughtful and intuitive of your dog’s reactions. Once you have become knowledgeable of your dog’s muscles, you will be able to recognize areas that may be palpably tight or different, prior to that area being clinically symptomatic, thus giving you more insight to your dog’s health.

All the information that you gather while working on your dog will give you valuable clues to his/her health. Getting to know your dog’s body will benefit both you and your dog’s health care team over your dog’s life. It will also create a trust and bonding with your dog that will benefit BOTH of you.

Heather Mishefske, owner, emBARK

Certified Canine Massage Practitioner

Member International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork;, 715-864-3263

Pet Wellness Tips

To Stop Shedding

Try paper towels. To prevent a dog from shedding all over the house, dampen a sheet of paper towel and run it over his fur. The paper towel collects the loose hair.

Vermont Soap Pet Shampoo

USDA Certified Organic. A safe and nontoxic alternative to detergent and chemical cleaners for our furry friends. This wonderful product is perfect for sensitive pets.

Tick Check

Wisconsin and Minnesota are red zones for Lyme disease.

There are also three other diseases caused by ticks: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and RMSF. The wood tick does not carry any of these; however they are now finding out that mosquitoes, fleas, and some spiders (I got Lyme from a spider bite) now carry Lyme disease. Deer ticks are out year-round. They are very slow during December and January, and their main feeding time is May through July. The nymph and female ticks are the ones that carry the diseases. The males do not feed on animals; they just crawl around waiting for a female. Their life cycle is two years and they feed for two to four days. The tick has to be feeding on the animal for 24 hours before it can transfer the disease. The nymphs are baby ticks and are the size of a pin head; they look like a spot of dirt. The females are a little larger and have a red back. The size of a male is between those of the nymph and the female and it is black.

To help prevent Lyme disease and the three other diseases that deer ticks (otherwise know as beer ticks and black legged ticks) carry, there are a few things that can be done.

Start by sprinkling garlic granules in the yard. Your dogs and kids can play in it without any ill effects, and mosquitoes, ticks, and other creeping things do not like it.

You can also put cedar shavings around the bushes, kennels, and in the garden.  I sprinkle the chips in my flower pots, around the house bushes, and wherever else. The dogs love to lay in it.

Use a natural tick repellant made from essential oils and herbs.

It’s Functional Neurology!

by Dr. Margaret L. Meier (Radle) DVM, CVSMT

Veterinrary Spinal Manipulative Therapy (VSMT)? Is that like chiropractic for Animals? Will it hurt my animal? Do you use hammers, mallets, or other scary devices? How come I didn’t know this was available? These are questions I face every day in my veterinary practice. As readers of Second Opinion, we are all familiar with chiropractic care for ourselves and our beloved family members. However, what many of us don’t realize is that this care is also available for our beloved animal companions.

Animal chiropractic traces its history back to Dr. Sharon Willoughby Blake and the late 1980s. Dr. Willoughby held dual degrees as a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) and a doctor of chiropractic (DC). Dr. Willoughby began to teach fellow licensed veterinarians and chiropractors the science and skills necessary to treat animals with veterinary chiropractic. The American and International Veterinary Chiropractic Associations were organized to help ensure that certified doctors are able to demonstrate both a clinical and practical knowledge base via a boards examination after they complete the 270-plus-hour post-graduate training from one of the approved educational facilities. “Earning certification from the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association represents a significant professional achievement. AVCA certification makes an important statement about professional competence that is recognized by the profession, the public, and some regulatory bodies. (” Visit for more information regarding the education and certification process and to find a certified animal chiropractor near you.

What Is Animal Chiropractic?

According to the website, a “chiropractic adjustment is defined as short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations.” Animal chiropractors evaluate their patient’s neurological status, stance, gait, and range of motion in the vertebral and extremity joints as well as the cranial sutures. Along with their chiropractic examination, doctors determine the best treatment options for your pet based on the entire picture they obtain from you and your pet on the day of the treatment.

Why Animal Chiropractic and What Are the Indications for Chiropractic Care in My Animal?

There are probably almost as many reasons to seek chiropractic care for your pet as there are various pet breeds and species. Horses, cats, and dogs are the most common animals to receive chiropractic care, but I have also worked on birds, guinea pigs, and ferrets too! Some of the indications are neck, back, leg, and tail pain; muscle spasms, nerve problems, and injuries from slips, falls, and accidents. Your animal may also benefit from chiropractic care if it is having difficulty chewing or recently underwent a surgical procedure such as a dental prophylaxis or spay. Animal chiropractic can help with chronic internal medicine disorders that are not resolving as expected; and/or geriatric conditions such as arthritis and/or incontinence. And, of course, animal chiropractic can help keep your competitive athletic animal performing at its best through regular maintenance of joint and spinal health.

What Can I Expect after an Adjustment?

Following an adjustment, many animals will show immediate improvement. There can be a 24 to 48 hour period of tiredness, and occasionally medication to relieve muscle spasms and/or reduce inflammation may be prescribed. Some animals require a few sessions to resolve acute pain, and with chronic health problems, several sessions may be required to maintain and re-establish normal function of the joints and nervous system. Often, the veterinary chiropractor will also prescribe post-adjustment exercises and/or recommend a follow-up visit with a veterinary massage therapist. To obtain the best outcome possible it is critical that you share all the information with the veterinary chiropractor about your pet’s care from all health care providers, including diet, supplements, and any medications your animal may currently be taking.

It is also important to remember that VSMT is not a replacement for regular preventative wellness care for your animal companion. At Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley we work with you (and your routine veterinarian) to provide the best traditional and holistic veterinary care possible for your animal companion.

Dr. Margaret Meier (Radle) graduated in 1996 from the University of Wisconsin School of veterinary medicine and received her certification in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy in 2005 from the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. She was certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2007 and the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2012. Dr. Margaret currently resides on her family’s centurion farm with her daughter, Emilia, and their menagerie of four-legged companions. She can be reached at her practice Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley in Mondovi, Wisconsin.