Posts From The Docs

We will be posting little tidbits of information and anecdotes from the vets here on our website.  Unless it says otherwise, these are generally posted by your friendly neighborhood vet, Dr. Kate Washabaugh.  Check in occasionally or “Like” us on Facebook to stay posted.  Thanks!

Some Veterinary Advice As We Navigate The Virus Scare

Things to know from your veterinarian in response to the current virus scare as the world is changing around us:

  1. COVID-19 is not communicable to pets, as far as it is known at this time. This is a human virus and will not make your pets sick.
  2. If someone gets sick, pets should not be moving back and forth between healthy and sick individuals. There is a potential that a pet could carry the virus transiently from one person to another.
  3. Your preparedness plan should include your pets. Make sure you have adequate supplies of medication and food as you stock up for yourself. It is recommended to keep at 2 week supply on hand.
  4. If you are ill and need to bring your animal to see us, please try to keep everyone healthy by calling ahead. We can get a history on the phone and even have you drop off for an exam in efforts to comply with “social distancing” recommendations. We plan to be here for you and your pets so we are making every effort to keep our clinic and our staff virus free.
  5. If you need to stock up on food or medication, this is a good time to check out our online store and have your supplies delivered directly to you. Visit the website to find all the items you need: abreedapart.mystoreonline.pharmacy
  6. These are scary times. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make things easier.  Above all, be kind to each other.  Nothing will carry us through as much as that.  Stay healthy, Friends.

Winter Cold Tips For Your Pets

Hey Ya’ll! It’s cold out there! Be sure to use some good sense when it comes to your pets. Here are some friendly reminders to help weather this cold weather.


If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Watch out for over exposure to the cold. Dogs and cats can get frostbite at their sensitive thin skinned areas (like ears and tail tips). They can also be susceptible to hypothermia. If they are left outside by accident, or seem disoriented or lethargic after coming in from a long duration outside, be sure to drop us a call.


Paw pads are sensitive. Ice is rough and salt is painful. Avoid heavily salted areas and long walks on rough terrain. Consider products like Musher’s Wax or other non-emollient salves to coat and protect paw pads. Remember we don’t want to break down these calluses – we want to keep them healthy! You may also want to consider booties for your dog. They’ll hate you forever, but be sure to video it when you put them on the first time. Seriously though, treats and positive reinforcement can go a long way. A chewed off booty is an intestinal foreign body in the making so we don’t recommend leaving dogs unattended with booties on.


Coats and jackets have a purpose and so does fur. This is not a good time to groom your dog. Keep the fur coat longer and use those cute fleeces and hoodies for your embarrassed dogs. Video as much as possible.


Keep nails trimmed short. This is a key time of year for ripped nails. Dogs are running in the deep snow and ice and nails catch easily. Nothing is worse than having your yard look like a murder scene when a nail rips and bleeds all over the snow. Keep those nails short and call us if you need a hand making that happen.


Keep baths minimal and simply wipe those feet off when you come in. Bathing dries the skin during an already really drying time of year. You can use humectant shampoos and coat conditioners if needed, but best of all just try to avoid fully bathing your pet during the cold season. Be sure to wipe the ice and salt away from those sensitive feet, however.


Winter = Weight Gain.  Many people think their pets are burning more energy keeping their body temperature up so they feed them just a “little bit more”. But beware that all of us are in hibernation mode. Which means none of our pets are getting out much and burning those calories with exercise. It’s not uncommon for us to see substantial weight gain in these winter months. Do your best to keep this minimal as being overweight is hard on the joints and is directly linked to shorter life spans in our pets.


If you have any questions, we’d be happy to help you. Otherwise, bundle up with your dogs and cats and stay warm over the next few months. How lucky we are to have these little furry friends to co-hibernate through the Wisconsin winter!


Superbowl and Scout

By now most of you are readying your nachos and your chicken wings for the big Superbowl event on Sunday (sorry Packers). The competition is great, but so is the entertainment. We are all waiting to see the clever Budweiser commercials and big half time show. This year is extra special as our very own UW Vet School is featured in one of the big commercials. The commercial features Scout, a beautiful Golden Retriever who is being treated for Hemangiosarcoma. The commercial is touching, and more importantly brings good attention to the research and progress the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is doing to fight cancer (in animals AND humans). We’ve included the link below – it’s well worth a watch.


It’s also a good chance to talk about a common cancer in dogs – Hemangiosarcoma. It is, sadly, a very common type of cancer among our Golden Retrievers (and Labs and Shepards) and it is one of the worst diagnoses that the veterinarians want to deliver. Without aggressive intervention this is a cancer that works fast (usually at the site of the heart or spleen) and can occur in middle age dogs that seem otherwise perfectly healthy. It’s a hard one to understand because your dog looks just fine on the outside while inside there is a big bleeding tumor causing lots of problems. Typical early signs may be waxing and waning energy levels and missed meals. More acutely, people might see their dogs stumbling or too weak to rise. And if you were savvy enough to assess their perfusion (by looking at their gum color), you might note that they’re pretty pale. Needless to say, if you have questions about this disease or concerning symptoms in your pet, be sure to call.


But meanwhile we’ll focus on the positives and enjoy the success of Scout’s stardom and the wonderful and much deserved press the UW VMTH is getting. Congrats to Scout’s owners for being awesome, the amazing veterinary staff behind the family, and WeatherTech folks for featuring Scout and bringing attention to this important issue.


Giardia. The Scoop on Poop

We’ve been fielding lots of questions about Giardia lately as one of the local kennels has started requesting this routinely.  So let’s get down to it. Many of us know Giardia as the parasite that causes raging diarrhea after we go camping and drink straight from a wild stream (you only do that once – ugh!). But we see it in our dogs, too, so let’s get our facts straight.

There are different types of Giardia in different species of animals.  It is pretty rare for a pet to transmit it to a human, or from a dog to cat (and vice versa), though it is possible. The infectious little protozoa can live for months in the environment and become active once they are ingested. Once inside the intestine, they party hard and make lot of little baby Giardia and can wreak havoc on a fragile intestinal tract. Some dogs will carry the infection without any symptoms at all, however, so it can make it hard to determine who needs to be treated.

We have a pretty good test these days. Giardia is hard to find on a basic fecal float (which most kennels require), but an in-house snap test for the active proteins found in the Giardia organism is the best way to determine if we have an active or recent infection. No test is perfect, but this is what the basic screening is these days. Treatment is easy with a five day course of dewormer. Cleaning all the toys and bowls in the house can help.  And bathing once during treatment is recommended since cysts can stick to the fur. Freezing temps (yay Wisconsin winter!) and direct sunlight will kill the cysts, but diluted bleach will kill them on other surfaces.

Figuring out if we have the Giardia infection cleared up is the challenging part. Snap tests can stay positive for awhile and symptoms may clear up but the dog can still be infectious. A fecal smear can show the actual Giardia organism, but the organisms are not consistently shed so we can miss an active infection. Most kennels ask that we keep our positive dogs out of their facility for 1 week following treatment and resolution of symptoms and call it good.

So that’s the scoop on poop. If you have questions about Giardia, or any other poop related parasites, please be sure to call and discuss them with us. Also, as we head toward the holiday season, please, please, please plan ahead and have us check your required fecals sooner than later. If we need to treat your dog, you don’t want to find that out as you’re heading out the door for thanksgiving break.

For more information about Giardia, check out the CDC website:


Dogs Fix Everything

I’m sitting here on this lovely Sunday morning after visiting my favorite dog park.  The dog sniffed many dog butts and I chatted with many random folks as we wandered.  Really, is there a more perfect place on earth than the dog park?  Max and I are winding down post workout with the NY Times.  And what do you know, I come across a great article in the Review section by Frank Bruni entitled “Dogs Will Fix Our Broken Democracy”.  Don’t freak out – this is not a political post.  Rather, what I was struck by is how right he is about what dogs bring to our lives.  The whole article is worth a read,  but the most poignant thought was at the end:

“And we need dogs, or at least we’re better off with them.  They yank us outside our narrowest selves.  They force us to engage”.  And through the human interactions our dogs bring to us “we walk away feeling a little less isolated, a little less disconnected.”  What a gift these animals are in our lives. I watch my dog comfort my kids when they are sad, calm me when I’m in need, and grant unconditional love to all of us.  He is the bridge in awkward conversations, the comic relief when things are tense.  Dogs introduce us to neighbors we’d never meet, and invite conversations that we’d never start, and bring us all of you, our clients, who open their lives to us.  Truly this is a magical thing.

Happy holiday weekend, everyone!  Go kiss your dog.  And open yourselves to the world.

The Grain Free (GF) Diet Debacle Continues

A few weeks ago I posted some information about the issues with Grain Free (GF) dog food. At that time the FDA knew that there was an association between some of these diets and cardiac disease (DCM which is Dilated Cardiomyopathy). There were busy researching the details, but we were missing the specifics. Well, we have a few specifics now. Is your food on the list below? If you’re feeding GF and don’t have a good reason for it, we’d recommend you switch to an all-inclusive diet. If you’re dog has a diet intolerance that you are trying to manage and feel GF food has been the only solution, be sure to give us a call or discuss it at your next wellness visit. We have some ideas for you.

A Breed Apart Animal Hospital Online Store Launch!

We have a huge project we’ve been working on and we are super excited to finally reveal it!  Please join us in celebrating the launch of A Breed Apart Animal Hospital’s own online store!  We know in this busy world that the convenience of online shopping is important and not everyone has time to run over to pick up their pet’s supplies, much less go to multiple stores to do it.  And we also know our clients are smarties who are looking for good quality with good prices.  So, we put our brains to work and found a way to make that all happen!  With our online service you get the high quality, guaranteed products you have come to expect from A Breed Apart along with the convenience of online ordering.  And all of it in partnership with your own veterinarian!

Check it out at https://www.myvetstoreonline.pharmacy

If you’re unsure about registering or don’t have easy access to a computer, speak to one of our technicians and we’ll help you out. 

So what are the benefits of this new store?

  • A huge variety of prescription and non-prescription products to serve all your pets needs
  • Free shipping for orders over $38
  • Prescription foods from Royal Canin, Science Diet, and Purina
  • Non-prescription foods from these same great companies (without going to the pet store)
  • Food is shipped to your door at no additional cost
  • Easy Dose It once a month convenience of single doses for heart worm and flea/tick preventatives shipped directly to you at no additional cost
  • Scheduled monthly deliveries with the Easy Dose It prescriptions
  • Coupons and rebates applied as they would be for in clinic purchases
  • Additional special promotions periodically offered
  • Rush shipping available
  • The reassurance of working with your own veterinarian to provide the best guidance for the medications and food for your pet
  • Our satisfaction guarantees.If you have a problem with a medication or diet purchased through us, we will always back it up
  • Quality controlled, guaranteed products
  • Competitive pricing

To make life even better for our clients, you will notice that some of our prices on our popular products like heart worm preventatives, flea/tick preventatives, and even prescriptions like Apoquel and Vetmedin have decreased.  Both online and IN THE CLINIC.

Check out this new service!  We hope you love it and it makes life easier for you!

What the Heck Do I Feed My Dog??

Guess the number one question I am asked in my office.  Think about it.  Something you do for your pet every single day, all it’s life.  You feed it, of course.  So the number one question I get is…  “what’s the best food to feed my pet?”.  My clients LOVE their pets.  They want to feed them THE BEST and they want them to live forever.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of information flying around lately, specifically about dog food.  I’ve been avoiding writing about this because, frankly, it’s HARD.  There’s so much information out there.  There’s so many strong opinions. And there’s all this data that is just now being collected.  And then there’s the pain in the butt issues of CORRELATION and CAUSE AND EFFECT data.  Ugh!

But it’s time to address some of the most recent issues.  Many of you smarty pants owners are already asking in your office visits and it’s time to stop pussy footing (ha) around the issue.  Because they are affecting the lives of our dogs.  This past year there was an FDA warning about some specific diets being linked to the development of cardiac disease in dogs.  These diets were correlated with the development of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and dogs are dying from it.  An excerpt from the FDA statement:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating this potential association…”.

The issue is being investigated, but at this time there is a strong suspicion that diets that are potato or legume based (meaning, “Grain Free”), are of an unusual protein source, or are considered boutique-types of small batch foods may play a roll.

What we know is that no matter how “high quality” the food you feed, the tested nutritional content is what matters.  Your dog does not need a keto-diet.  The current Grain-Free fad that has taken over the dog food market is a reflection of current human dietary trends.  Yes, there is the rare case of diet intolerances in our pets, but for the most part, if you dog has no health issues, he or she should be eating an all-inclusive, broad ingredient diet.  

Most importantly, that diet should meet nutritional standards.  Many of us assume because we are paying a lot of money for a “high quality” or “organic” dog food and our local pet store is recommending it, that the food in question has been tested and is adequate in it’s nutrition (if not better). The fact is that the majority of dog foods are NOT tested. Many foods follow AAFCO guidelines and are thus “compliant”, but few actually undergo feeding trials, or even employ veterinary nutritionists.  The costs involved in maintaining a veterinary nutritionist and running these feeding trials is substantial, so many of our small batch foods simply can’t tolerate the costs involved in actual testing.

So what do we recommend?  I am loathe to name specific brands at the risk of sounding like a sales person.  I’ll dance around it like crazy in the office if you try to pin my down.  Which is silly.  This IS my job, afterall.  So talk to us.  I would encourage every dog owner to talk to their veterinarian about diet, but also to do their homework.  Google, check out websites, and call the contact numbers for your pet food company (they are required to list those phone numbers).  Find out how many veterinary nutritionists they employ.  What food trials did they actually conduct (and what was the sample size).   Was it for nutrition or just palatablility?  Most importantly, do they meet AAFCO (see below) standards?  What I would NOT do is believe the hype.  Don’t fall for pretty packaging with wolves running through the woods, or words like “natural”, “holistic”, “single protein source”, and “organic”.  Don’t look to the average pet store employee to guide you through these complexities (are they nutritionists?  Did they go to vet school?), and don’t project our paleo obsession on your pet.

I did a little Google myself.  I plugged in “what pet food companies have veterinary nutritionists” and “pet food companies that conduct feeding trials”, etc.  The answers were a little shocking.  I also found this really great article from Tufts summing up how to chose your food. Check it out:

Important information you could be misreading on the pet food label

This is one excerpt from the article I found pretty helpful.  Stop reading the ingredient list first (I’m guilty of this too!).  Start with the AAFCO statement:

“Instead of starting with the less-than-useful ingredient list to make a decision on pet food, go to the two most useful pieces of information on a pet food label.  One of these is the “Nutritional Adequacy statement.” This may also be called the “AAFCO statement” because it is based on the nutritional profiles that that the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes annually.

All pet foods sold across state lines must print one of three statements clearly on the package. These statements answer these important questions:

  • Does the diet contain all the essential nutrients that a pet needs?
  • How that was determined?
  • For which age or life stage is the diet appropriate?

Pull out your pet’s food and look for the statement on the label. These statements are typically written in very small font on the back of the bag or can (or on the side in the fold). They may be difficult to find. It’s worth looking for, though, as this little bit of information can be really valuable. It should look like one of the following:

  1. Product X is formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for Y species and Z life stage. Life stages include “maintenance,” or “growth and reproduction,” which is frequently called “all life stages”. All life stages means it meets growth/reproduction requirements in which case it will automatically meet adult requirements because a puppy or kitten has higher calorie and nutrient requirements than do adults.
  2. Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Product X provides complete and balanced nutrition for Y species, and Z life stage. Life stages for feeding tests include “maintenance,” “growth,” “gestation and lactation” (pregnancy and nursing), or “all life stages.” (The latter means they’ve done feeding trials for both gestation and growth.)
  3. This product is intended for intermittent and supplemental feeding only.

If your pet’s label had one of the first two examples, good news, it’s nutritionally complete and balanced. However, if your label had the third statement then that food is not meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs.  The one exception to this is if your pet is eating a veterinary diet used to manage a medical condition. Some of these veterinary diets are specifically designed this way to help manage a medical condition.  However, for diets purchased over-the-counter, you definitely want it to have all the nutrients your dog or cat needs to stay healthy.

Remember this caveat, though: if the food is complete and balanced—examples 1 and 2 above—that means that it is supposed to contain minimum levels of all the nutrients that a normal, healthy pet requires (and avoids going over any maximums). It does not guarantee that the company actually tested the final product to be sure that it still had those levels (we’ve tested numerous pet foods from stores that do not meet AAFCO minimums).  This is why it’s so important to use a food made by a manufacturer with the highest nutritional expertise and the most stringent quality control measures – not just one with good marketing.”

So that’s it folks.  Next time you’re gazing down the aisle at the beautiful bags of food, consider how you’re choosing the nutrition your dog eats every single day.  And be sure to talk to us.  We’ll keep you posted as the data comes together, and we can help guide you through these challenging issues.


Meet Max

It takes a village to raise a kid. As a mom, I know this is true. It’s the same with puppies.

Two weeks ago I brought a puppy home for the first time in 16 years and surprised the kids. He’s a cutie. And that’s all that’s saving him at this point. That and the fact that I had a whole squad of supporters standing behind me, especially at work. Even as a vet you forget (or block out!) how challenging life with a puppy is. It moves when the wind blows? Sure, I’ll eat that. It’s soft and important to you? Sure, I’ll eat that. Lego? Sure, I’ll eat that. Clearly, I went with a Labrador (lol). But there’s more, of course. You just cleaned there? Yep, I’ll pee on that. It’s negative 25 degrees outside? Gotta pee. You looked at me funny? Whoops, I just peed. Sleeping has taken on a new priority status. Because of course, 4 a.m. is the best time to play.

But the hilarity of watching a puppy in the snow for the first time, the quiet presence of someone next to you when you finally sit down at the end of the day, the snoring by your feet while you work, the adventures outside, and most importantly, the joy it brings to your children, more than compensate for all the chewed up, peed on objects and sleepless nights.

This has been a good reminder for me of what the reality of puppy-hood is like. And it helps me be a better vet every time I get to experience all the things my clients do. From the trials of early puppy hood all the way to the challenges of aging and agonizing loss at the end. If you plan to embark on this adventure, plan the logistics, find a puppy friend (thanks Murphy!), embrace your supporters, arrange your work schedule, and give us a call to get all the basics figured out. But mostly, be prepared to be surprised. That’s where the fun happens.


(Enjoy Murphy schooling Max.  Yes, apparently veterinarians DO play with puppies all day!)

It’s Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week!

It’s Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week!!!

Each year we take this week to celebrate our awesome Veterinary Technicians here at A Breed Apart Animal Hospital.

I was discussing it with my son, Sam, this week and making plans for what we would like to do to celebrate these amazing women. He didn’t understand the idea of an “appreciation week” (he’s only 8). We had a long discussion about how these techs are the driving force behind the clinic. They get little glory, but we can’t do our jobs without them. They are the ones that are recovering a patient after a challenging surgery, holding that difficult dog for a nail trim, listening to an owner work through their worry on the phone, triaging emergencies, and sometimes literally running to help the vets between helping the owners between helping the patients. And, oh yeah, getting generally pretty messy while they do it. They are also the calm voices when things get crazy in the back, they often stay late to pitch in when the witching hour hits, and they go the extra mile for you and for us. They genuinely care about our patients, as well as each other, and you can see it in the way they do their jobs so well. After I described it all to Sam, his eyes went wide and he agreed that our technicians deserve all the appreciation we can give them. We wish we could give them more and that every day they were showered with the appreciation they deserve. This week we’ll have to manage with lots of food and fun.

Please join me in celebrating our great technicians, Chris, Melissa, Julie, and Katie. Pam is working on her technician license so we’re including her, too! They are the shoulders that boost us up and keep us strong.

Thank you to the great Veterinary Technician Team at A Breed Apart!!!!!!!