Ask Dr. Anna

My Dog Has Heartworms, Now What?

heartworm | prevent heartworms | heartworm medication



Heartworms are twelve-inch long worms that live in the heart of dogs.  They are transmitted from one infected dog to another by mosquitoes.  It is fifteen times more expensive to treat for heartworms than it is to prevent them, and missing one single dose of prevention can put your dog at risk to this deadly parasite.


The Language of Learning: How To Effectively Communicate With Your Dog

behavior trainingDogs Don’t Understand Any Human Language

By Stefani Fortney, ABCDT  This is a fact that we forget often. We speak to our dogs all the time. It’s a great thing about having a dog—they listen to us without passing judgement. The problem is that we talk so much that our spoken language can become meaningless to our dogs. They tune us out, then when we want them to listen to us, we get upset when they don’t respond. Continue…

Life on the Outside: The Dangers of Having Outside Cats

cat vaccination“It’s cruel to keep kitty trapped inside. They need to go out and hunt!”


“My cat goes crazy if I try and keep him inside. He totally destroys the house!”


“My cat stays in my yard.” “My cat has his claws; he can defend himself.”


These are just a few of the reasons we hear every day as to why people let their cats go or live outside. But the fact of the matter is, by letting your cat out you are in effect shortening its lifespan. On average, cats that go or live outside have shorter lives than inside cats by as much as ten years. Cats that are allowed to roam often don’t live to see their fifth birthday. Cats that are kept inside average a lifespan of around 15 years.

There are many reasons the outside cats don’t fair as well. Indoor cats are less likely to be exposed to diseases, such as distemper or the nearly always fatal bobcat fever. Outside cats come in contact with more bacteria and infectious fungi. Parasites such as fleas and ticks are far more likely to be found on outdoor cats. And of course, there is the danger of predators. Outside cats may encounter hawks, snakes, skunks, opossum, dogs, or other cats. If the cat is not spayed or neutered the females will almost always become pregnant, and the males will father countless litters of kittens.

So, it is obvious that kitty is safer inside, but can they be content? Of course, they can. First, get your cat spayed or neutered, as it will deter the wanderlust and drive to get outside and find a mate. The vast majority of behavior problems can be addressed simply by having your cat fixed.

Second, give your inside kitty something to do. You’d go stir crazy too if you had nothing to do all day. Cats need interaction. They need to feel the satisfaction of a successful hunt. You can give them this through various methods of play. Toy mice are great for them to bat and toss, while balls in round tracks stimulate response to movement. Dragging a toy on a string gives them something real to chase. Treat dispensing toys can be filled with your cat’s dry food and used as a means for them to “hunt” for their dinner.

Make your home a cat-friendly environment. Give them window perches with bird feeders outside. Give them high shelves from which to watch the household activities. Consider getting them another cat to keep them company. While it is true that cats are more solitary by nature than dogs they still benefit from companionship. Kittens do better in pairs if for no other reason than they wear each other out while you are at work. A single kitten will just sleep until you get home and then want you to stay up all night and play!

While we all feel guilty when we see our cat looking longingly out the window, we have to weigh the consequences of letting them go outside. There are tremendous risks every single time we open that door, both from nature and from humans. If you have a cat that just refuses to be pacified with anything you try to make them happy indoors consider these options:

Making outside cats, happy inside:

  1. Build a “catio.” An enclosure on a patio or in your yard can be a great way to give your cat a safe outdoor playtime. Make sure it is large enough to include different height perches and plenty of scratching surfaces. Always provide fresh water for the outdoor recess, as well as shade as needed.
  2. Harness train your cat. This sounds slightly insane, but it is possible, especially if you start young! A harness on a cable slide will give your cat a sense of freedom, but make sure your feline harness is well-fitted.
  3. Teach your cat to walk on a leash. Again, some people will think this is impossible, but many cats have done quite well learning to explore at the end of a leash.
  4. Designate specific, controlled outdoor playtime for your cat. This means kitty wears a harness, you have control of a long lead, and you control the play activity for the time outside. As a general rule, STAY AWAY FROM TREES!

Having cats is a lot like having kids. They don’t always know or want what is best for them, and it is up to us to make the responsible choices. With a little imagination and work, you can keep your cat inside, safe, engaged, and around for many more years.

By Stacey Frazier

4 Health Problems Fleas Cause In Cats

fleasSpring is just around the corner and with warmer weather arriving, fleas will start to reappear.  Fleas are very prolific parasites, in fact, one flea can produce 50-100 eggs/day.  Guthrie Pet Hospital recommends preventative measures to prevent infestations.  This week Dr. Coffin will discuss health issues in cats caused by fleas. Continue…

Dog Laws 101— An Introduction to Common Dog Laws and Ordinances

dog lawsBy Stefani Fortney  I see it often. A dog owner who was unaware of the laws about pets in their community takes to social media to voice their concerns and complaints about why their precious dog has gotten into trouble with local police, sheriff, or animal control. Most times, it’s hard for me to understand why a person who has a dog wouldn’t go to the trouble of finding out what local laws govern their ownership, care, and responsibilities for their dog and its interaction with the community. Most communities have laws that outline what is expected from your dog and you. I’m going to touch on a few of the most common dog laws and why they’re important to follow to not be a nuisance or danger to your community. Continue…

Cat Toys: The Good, The Bad, and the Dangerous

cat toysBy Stacey Frazier  Let me start by saying that ANY HUMAN BODY PART is a BAD IDEA for a cat toy! Wiggling your fingers or toes for kitty may start out cute but can end horribly, mostly for you. Not only is there the immediate concern of getting scratched or bitten but it tells the kitten it is ok to attack their humans or any humans. The best cat toys are the ones that engage the cat without putting the animal, their human, or their household in danger. Continue…

5 Ways To Stop Puppy Biting

puppy biting

Nobody wants to deal with a snapping, biting puppy even if they are just playing.  Puppy biting occurs for two reasons.  First, their vision is not fully developed, and they are trying to figure out the world around them.  Second, they are teething between three and six months of age.  Dr. Anna Coffin gives some common-sense tips for puppy biting to ensure a lifetime of safe and healthy interactions with your dog. Continue…

Dental Care For Dogs: Keeping Teeth Pearly White

dental care for dogsFebruary is Dental Health Month and for a good reason.  Dental disease is the most commonly diagnosed disease in veterinary medicine.  Therefore, daily dental care for dogs is an important part of keeping your pet’s teeth clean.



If your pet has bad breath, it is likely that your pet has dental disease.  If left untreated, dental disease will progress to pain, tooth loss and even organ problems. Continue…

Dogs With Allergies: Scratching The Surface

dogs with allergiesBy Stefani Fortney  Hello, human people! I am Mani the Perfect Pittie. I’ve stolen Mom’s laptop again so I can write this article. There are lots of things that she knows, but this subject is one that I’ve had to deal with my whole life: dogs with allergies. As an American Pit Bull Terrier, I’m genetically predisposed to allergy problems. On top of that, my beautiful fur is a color called “blue.” For a while, people bred my ancestors especially for this color—but that led to even more genetic issues. Mom understood when she brought me home that, due to irresponsible breeding, I could have allergies, as well as other health problems.

Here’s some stuff that I wish everyone knew about dogs with allergies.

  1. Allergies make me itch.

When human people have allergies, it shows up as nose and eye problem most of the time. When dogs have allergies, it usually shows up by making us super-itchy. When I have an allergy flare-up, my feet itch so badly. I lick them to try to make it better, but the itch doesn’t stop. Allergies make everything itch. I would keep Mom awake all night, scratching and shaking my ears. I’d scratch so much and so hard, I’d lose my hair and make my skin bleed.

  1. Untreated/Unmanaged Allergies Can Cause Infections

Before Mom figured out how to control my allergies, I used to get skin infections and ear infections all the time. I’d get these sore little bumps on my skin, my hair would fall out, and my ears would get stinky and sore. Then, I’d have to take antibiotics and get medicine goo squirted in my ears. It was no fun. Plus, it seemed like every time I got better, the allergies would just get bad again. It was what Mom called a “cycle.”

  1. There are Medications To Control Allergies

When I first started having my allergy problems, Mom tried giving me over-the-counter medicine like Benadryl and Zyrtec to help. She said that those things work for some dogs. For me, they didn’t. I would have to take steroids. Even though they worked, Mom didn’t want me to take them all the time, because the side effects can be bad. Finally, the medication people made a special prescription medicine called Apoquel. It’s especially for dogs with allergies. Mom said it was worth a try.

Since I started taking it, I haven’t had any skin infections at all! It’s so great—I feel like a normal dog. No bad itching, no losing my beautiful fur, no keeping Mom up at night! I’ve been on it for a year, now. I’m so much happier!

If you have a dog with allergies, call Dr. Coffin today to make an appointment—your dog will love you for it!

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