Apple Valley Animal Hospital

3015 Chimney Rock Rd
Hendersonville, NC 28792


Blog - 2016

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Senior Pets: The More Years the Merrier!


screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-29-34-amWhat do senior pets and fine wine have in common? They both get better with age!

November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet month. If you need to convince your significant other that you have room in the house for an over-the-hill cat or dog, we’ve got your cheat sheet! Here are what we think are the top 5 reasons to adopt a senior pet:

The puppy years have passed. While everyone loves the puppy years, they can be exhausting and frustrating at times. When you adopt an older dog, those years are behind you!

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-31-29-amThey’re wiser. Many older dogs in shelters already have some training under their collars. That means less time spent on potty training and basic commands, leaving time for more adventures!

You’ll know what to expect. You won’t be stuck guessing how big they will grow or how their personality will develop. When you adopt a senior pet, you’ll already know who you will be inviting into your home!

They’ll be the most appreciative. Pets end up at shelters for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps the most heartbreaking reason is when the pet must be surrendered from a home where they have spent many years. These pets know what it’s like to be part of a family and would be even more appreciative to be welcomed into yours.


You can give them the gift of a comfortable life. It can be daunting to know that adopting a senior pet means less years together, but it can also be a privilege to make sure those years are the best possible. Our pets love us unconditionally, and even just a year or two spent with the utmost care can feel like a lifetime to them.


We asked the Apple Valley Animal Hospital staff why they love their senior pets and patients. Here’s what they had to say: 

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-29-59-am“Senior pets tend to have the best back stories, whether it’s been adventures shared with their families or how they were rescued and found their forever homes. I think about the pets that have been a part of my family through the years.  They are never with us long enough, and their senior years are the toughest for them.   It is gratifying when we can help increase the amount of good quality time they can share with their families.” -Dr. Patrick McKee, DVM


“I love when they come in and still play like a puppy.  It makes my day to see a senior wiggle and wag.”  -Dawn Surrett, RVT


“With senior pets, I love the dedication  and love they have for their people!!” -Teresa Surrett


If you have any questions about healthcare for your senior pet, call us at (828)685-1650.


Three Word Horror Story: “Poor Dental Health” 



With Halloween right around the corner, we are bombarded with the usual advisories of dental hygiene and cavities. The American Dental Association recommends that people brush their teeth at least twice a day, floss daily, and visit their dentist every 6 months. When you compare that to the consistency of dental care for our pets, it’s no wonder that dental disease is one of the most common conditions we see in our clinic.


The Problem

Just like us, our four-legged friends can acquire a number of conditions resulting from poor dental hygiene. These conditions can go on to impact your pet’s overall health, especially in cases involving tooth root abscesses or those where their eating habits are changed. And let’s not forget how PAINFUL this can be! Our goal as health practitioners is to help prevent and provide early intervention to reduce complications associated with dental disease.


Graphic from South Hyland Pet Hospital


When you bring your pet in for a visit, you might notice that we lift their lip and take a look at their teeth. Even with that glance (some glances more brief than others depending on the compliance of our patient…), we can pick up on abnormalities within the teeth and gums. Ideally, our pets should have clean, white teeth with healthy, pink gums. Red, inflamed gums or excessive build-up of tartar and plaque can indicate a problem. Other signs of dental disease include bad breath, excessive salivation, a painful mouth (your pet might shy away when you touch this area), or even disinterest in food and weight loss (when your pet’s mouth becomes too painful for them to eat). When these dental problems go untreated, what should have been a routine cleaning suddenly turns into a mouthful of tooth extractions.


The Prevention

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-9-15-03-amSo how can you help your cat or dog avoid getting to this point? One word: prevention. The simplest way is to give your pet treats and toys that help keep their teeth clean. While bones and antlers can do a great job at mechanically removing plaque, we do not recommend these particular treats since they can cause other problems such as fractured teeth or intestinal obstruction. Instead, opt for safer treats like Tartar Shield or those labeled for dental health. Be sure to look out for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal on these products to ensure they have proven to be beneficial through proper testing!


Another very effective preventative measure is regularly brushing your pets teeth. No, we’re not joking. You can use a human toothbrush or one from a pet store, but be sure to only use toothpaste approved for pets. Introduce the brushing to your pet slowly over time and give lots of praise and encouragement. There are also some wipes that can be used once daily if your pet is not a fan of the toothbrush.


Finally, we recommend regular dental cleanings under anesthesia. Like any procedure requiring anesthesia, we do blood work beforehand to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for the procedure and to help us develop the proper anesthetic protocol. We are fortunate to have one of our veterinary technicians, Dawn, certified by the American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians. A routine dental cleaning would include a full oral exam, charting of teeth pockets, grading of gingivitis and other disease, scaling, and polishing.

Before and after photo’s from a few dental cleanings


By combining your at-home preventative efforts with our exams and routine care in the clinic, we hope to help your pet have a full set of pearly whites to keep all of us smiling throughout their life!

For more information on dental health and access to dental health products, or to schedule a dental health exam for your pet, call us at (828) 685-1650.

Cat Scratch Disease: What do you need to know?



IMG_0038Last week, the CDC released an updated study on Cat Scratch Disease. As expected, numerous articles about the study began circulating through social media, sensationalizing the results of the study with headlines like “Cuddling a Kitten Can Kill You” and  “Kitten Lovers Beware.” To help make this easier for you (and to give your cat a break from the media scandal), we have prepared this quick summary of important information!

First things first, what is Cat Scratch Disease?

Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) is an infection caused by Bartonella henselae, a bacteria that infects blood cells causing a bump at the site of the infection and infections in the lymph nodes. If the patient is immunocompromised (very young, elderly, AIDs patients, cancer patients, etc.), more serious complications can develop, including bone, heart, or central nervous system infections.


How is CSD transmitted?

The bacteria that causes the infection (B. henselae) lives mainly in cats who show no symptoms. The bacteria is transferred between cats by fleas. Humans become infected from scratches and bites from cats that are carrying the bacteria.


Why was this study done? 

IMG_3468Cat Scratch Disease was first identified in the 1950s, and the cause was later identified in the 1980s. While we knew it existed, there was no up-to-date data on the demographics of this disease–that is to say, how many people are affected and who makes up that population. This study looked at medical records taken between 2005-2013 to fill in these holes in our understanding of the disease.


What did this study tell us?

  • On average, CDS affects about 14,000 outpatients and 600 hospitalized patients each year.

  • Highest risk is to children ages 5-9, with 33% of all cases occurring in children less than 14 years old.
  • Majority of cases came from the southeastern United States, from Texas up to Virginia.

  • The worst months for CSD were August-November and January.

  • The average cost of out-patient treatment for CSD was about $250.

  • The average cost of in-patient treatment for CSD was about $14,000.


Most importantly, why does the veterinary community care?

IMG_3465CSD is an excellent example of the merits of the “One Health Initiative”–a movement that recognizes the link between animal and human health, and looks to partner physicians, veterinarians, and all health professionals for improved public health efforts in the future.  Since cats are the main reservoir of this disease, and fleas are the main way the disease is transferred between cats, this adds yet another reason it is so critical that all domestic cats remain on year round flea prevention! Doing so will help prevent transmission of CSD between cats and limit the exposure of humans to the disease as well!


For more information on flea control for your cat call us at (828) 685-1650.

Dakota and the Iceberg Case



One thing every pet owner dreads is feeling helpless. Those fears became reality for Dakota’s owners when Dakota was attacked by a bigger dog. She was rushed through our doors lying on her side, covered in dried blood, and could hardly lift her head. As we prepared emergency supplies for her, we expected the worst.

There’s a special code in veterinary hospitals for cases like this: BDLD. It stands for “Big Dog Little Dog” and gets its own code due to the severity of injuries typically seen in these cases. When two equally sized dogs get in a fight, we can see extensive wounds, but usually what you see is what you get. However, when a big dog attacks a little dog, the wounds can go much deeper due to the way the big dog can pick up and shake the little dog in the same way they would a toy. The scariest part is that this extensive damage can happen within seconds. It turns the case into somewhat of an iceberg–what you see on the surface might not be all that’s going on underneath.

In Dakota’s case, she only appeared to have a handful of puncture wounds on the surface. After ensuring she was stable, we brought her into the treatment room to begin the typical protocol for cases like this which includes thorough flushing and cleaning of all wounds. That’s when the iceberg became clear.





img_0050Dakota had been shaken in a way that caused some of her skin to separate at its deepest layers. At that point, with antibiotics and painkillers on board, we could only hope that the skin would stay viable. But as we expected, her skin began to die off within a few days. The next step in her treatment was to remove the non-viable skin and close the wounds with sutures. However, there were some areas where there wasn’t even enough skin left to cover her shoulder. This meant a longer road to recovery for Dakota.

The wound had to be covered and allowed to heal on its own–a process that takes time, patience, and round the clock medical care. At first, this meant Dakota’s bandage had to be changed at least once a day, and even more if the bandage became dirty or if any discharge soaked through.

Now it has been 7 weeks, and Dakota is a brand new dog. Besides her cool bandage that she’s still sporting around town, you might not even know what a rough couple of months she has had! Dakota loves kids, especially Morgan, and seeing both of them light up when they’re together reminds us how privileged we are to provide the care that makes this possible.


For more information about our services, call us at (828) 685-1650.





This is what Dakota’s wounds looked like a few days after the attack.


Dakota’s wounds after all non-viable skin had been removed.


What’s with the 20 questions?



One of the biggest differences between human medicine and veterinary medicine is that our patients can’t speak for themselves. Imagine how easy it would be for us if the Labrador Retriever could come in and say, “Yeah, I was chewing on my mom’s socks yesterday and accidentally swallowed one. Think you could go fish it out for me?” Or for a cat to call and tell us, “Hey! I decided to go on sabbatical to explore our neighborhood this week and I didn’t eat anything for days! Now I’m feeling a little under the weather.” Since unfortunately this can’t be our reality, out pets rely on us to be their voice.



If only Rooney could tell us what he’s thinking!

This is why we always start your pet’s exam with the history–the part where we bombard you with questions like some kind of pet pop quiz. 

Not only does this give us a baseline image of how your pet is feeling, it can also help us rule in or out certain diagnoses, help us decide which diagnostic tests are most important to run, and some answers can even help us catch diseases before obvious symptoms appear.

 If these questions have stumped you from time to time, you’re not alone! We hope this list of important questions helps you know what information you should have on hand the next time your pet comes in for a visit.


What do you feed your pet? 

It’s helpful for us to know what brand and type of food your pet receives and how much! We want to make sure they’re getting a proper balanced diet that is healthy for them and works for you! It’s also beneficial to let us know what treats and table scraps they get. While some of these are good for our pets, there might be something not so good for them that you are unaware of. Sometimes it’s impossible to keep up with the “Do’s and Don’t” of feeding your pet, so that’s why we’re here!


What preventative products is your pet currently receiving? 

merial-product-boxesWe strongly encourage for all of our patients to be kept on year round flea and tick prevention, and for all dogs to be kept on heartworm prevention. Let us know what products you’re using for these and we can help make sure you get the proper supply and can take advantage of any discounts we can offer! Also, knowing this information can help us know whether to be on high alert for other diseases transmitted by those nasty pests.


Is your pet on any other medications? 

If your pet is receiving over-the-counter medications or medications prescribed by another vet, we may not have that on file! This is good information for us to have so we can avoid any problems from drug interactions and it can be helpful in accurately assessing your pet’s health.



How has your pet been acting at home? 

Of all the questions we ask, this one is probably the most important! We can look at your pet, listen to their heart and lungs, perform a physical exam, and run different blood tests until the cows come home, but we recognize that no one knows your pet quite like you do! Your interpretation of their attitude and behavior at home can be the answer that clues us in to a key diagnosis. 

Hopefully this study guide will help you ace your pet’s next history test! If you would like to schedule an exam for your pet, call us at (828) 685-1650.

Does this fur make me look fat? 


One of the best things about working in a veterinary clinic is appreciating how our patients come in all shapes and sizes. However, “overweight” is one size that makes us worry.  

According to a recent survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 58% of cats and 54% of dogs are overweight or obese. Obesity can be detrimental to your pets health, leading to conditions such as diabetes, fatty liver disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, and cataracts. Obesity can also make existing conditions that much worse–for example, an aging dog with hip and back pain could have that pain feel even worse when they’re carrying some extra pounds!

These patients prove that one size does NOT fit all!


In one study, 40% of owners did not recognize that their pet was overweight. Sometimes it can be really hard to tell, especially if they have a thick coat of fur or natural skin folds. One method that has been shown to help it what we call the “two hand hug” technique. It’s simple–just put one hand on each side of your pets ribs and give them a little rub. Ideally, you should be able to feel the ribs without having to push in too hard, but you should not be able to see the outline of the ribs when you take a step back. Your veterinarian will use a similar method to grade your pet’s weight using the Body Condition System (BCS) on a scale from 1-9, with 1 being extremely emaciated and 9 being extremely obese.

Controlling our pet’s weight is easier said than done. We all love to give our pets treats, and who doesn’t enjoy spending a lazy Sunday curled up on the couch with their cat or dog? There are a few tips that can help make weight-loss easier for your pet:

    1. Swap out their treats for something healthier–they probably won’t know the
      difference! Try things like carrots, celery, or frozen bananas.

    2. “Cheat” with the table scraps! If you’re guilty of feeding your pet from the table (I know I am!), keep a can of green beans on the table and slip them that as a healthy alternative.

    3. Follow the appropriate feeding instructions and measure their food. Look on the back of your pet’s bag of food and make sure you’re feeding the correct amount for their ideal weight.

    4. Use a marked measuring cup. It’s easy to accidentally overfeed our pets when we’re “eyeballing” what 2 cups should be!

    5. Feed a diet specified for overweight pets. Products like Purina OM Overweight Management, Hill’s Metabolic Canine, and Royal Canin Weight Control can help when your pet’s normal food is not helping them with weight loss.

    6. Get moving! Simple things like taking your dog out for walk, throwing the ball, or playing “cat and mouse” with a cat toy can make a huge difference!

While there might be more to love with an overweight pet, there could be less time to do so! If you feel you might have an overweight pet, the road to a healthy weight can be a long one. Give us a call at (828) 685-1650 to find out more about how we can help along the way!

Scaredy Cats (and Dogs): Tips for Your Nervous Pet’s Next Appointment



IMG_1063Rocco is not happy about going to the vet!

We’ve all been there. It’s time for your pet’s annual visit and as soon as you pull out their leash or carrier, they instantly become nervous. Suddenly your cat transforms into a master at hide-and-go-seek, and your dog (who normally loves car rides) tenses up as soon as you pull into our parking lot.

Anxious and nervous pets can impede the success of their visit. Their heart rate and breathing rate might increase, and some results on their blood test can be abnormal even if they are perfectly healthy. Sometimes, the veterinarian might not even be able to do a full physical exam if the animal is too nervous!

The last thing we want is for a pet to be uncomfortable in our care, so here are some tips to help make their next visit a little easier:


1. Stop by for a treat when you’re passing by the clinic!

If your pet is in the car with you and you’re already passing by, come in for a treat and a quick weigh in! That way your pet will associate the building with a positive experience and not just the pokes and prods of a full exam.IMG_1684

2. Bring a toy or blanket from home.

This can serve as a comfort item for your pet. All the new smells at the veterinary clinic can make them anxious, so they will appreciate something familiar!

3. Let your car be your waiting room.

If your pet gets extra nervous around other animals, you can call us when you arrive for your appointment and wait in your air-conditioned car. That way, we can come get you as soon as an exam room is ready, and your pet can go straight in! On the other hand, some pets might like to come sit in the lobby and snack on a treat while they wait.

4. Get some all natural help from Composure™.

Composure™ is tasty treat-like product that can help calm your pet. It is a unique combination of vitamins and minerals that work to naturally balance your pet’s anxiety. It’s safe enough to be used daily in an anxious pet, or keep some on hand for especially stressful occasions like a weekend at a boarding facility or a trip to the vet. Make an appointment with us to get a sample!

5. Most importantly, remain calm!

Many pets take emotional cues from their owner. If watching your pet get their vaccines makes you nervous, it’s okay to step out of the room or have us bring your pet to the rear treatment room so they do not pick up on your nerves!

IMG_6803This is how we want to see Rocco when he comes into the clinic: cool, calm, and collected!

To make an appointment to get more information on how to ease your pet’s anxiety, call us at (828) 685-1650 !