Apple Valley Animal Hospital

3015 Chimney Rock Rd
Hendersonville, NC 28792



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Vet Advice: September 2021


Has your dog or cat been itching, scratching, and almost biting themselves raw lately? It can’t be fleas, right? It must be those early Fall allergies. Well, flea bites can be an early Fall allergy. In fact, fleas can be a year-round allergy…if you let them. Below is my advice on keeping fleas off of my pets and out of my home:Has your dog or cat been itching, scratching, and almost biting themselves raw lately? It can’t be fleas, right? It must be those early Fall allergies. Well, flea bites can be an early Fall allergy. In fact, fleas can be a year-round allergy…if you let them.

Below is my advice on keeping fleas off of my pets and out of my home:

Let’s begin with some things you may not have known about fleas:

⦁ Fleas have been found on all 7 continents, and are able to survive in many environments—from tropical paradise resorts along the Equator to extremely remote locations like Mount Everest Base Camp (over 17,000 feet in elevation!). 

⦁ Fleas also have a place in the history books: they are the sole carrier of yersinia pestis—the bacteria responsible for the Black Death, the plague which killed over 25 million people.  

⦁ Fleas are external parasites that are able to feed (by sucking blood) off any warm-blooded mammal. Keep in mind it’s these flea bites that can trigger allergies, which can cause an itch lasting much longer than a mosquito or tick bite. 

⦁ Fleas are indiscriminate feeders. If you go away for a weekend and don't realize there are fleas in your house, the moment you re-enter the house you could have flea bites up to your knees. This is because the fleas are starving and they're looking for a blood meal. I’ve personally experienced this before; trust me, it’s by no means just a couple bites.

⦁ Fleas are indiscriminate feeders. If you go away for a weekend and don't realize there are fleas in your house, the moment you re-enter the house you could have flea bites up to your knees. This is because the fleas are starving and they're looking for a blood meal. I’ve personally experienced this before; trust me, it’s by no means just a couple bites.

⦁ Fleas cannot fly, but they are able to jump over 2 feet high in order to cling onto hosts

⦁ Fleas have a complex life-cycle that allows them to persist in an environment for a long time. They start as eggs, become larvae, then pupae (cocoon), and finally adult.

⦁ Adult fleas only make up about 5% of the flea population! 

⦁ Female fleas can lay eggs in as little as 24 hours! They typically lay anywhere from 20 to 50 eggs per day. However, it is only after they eat that they can lay eggs. 

⦁ Research has shown that pupae can stay in their cocoons for up to a year! Once the adults emerge, they will seek out a blood meal immediately, but can survive for one to two weeks without eating. 

⦁ It can take 3-12 weeks to deplete the life stages infesting a home, even with good products.


Whether you’re currently experiencing a flea infestation, or simply looking to bolster your home defenses during the “Fall pest invasion”, here is the BEST solution: YOU HAVE TO TARGET THE LIFE CYCLE FROM BOTH ENDS!!! This means you can’t just target the adults. You have to target the young!


PROTECT YOUR PETS: For dogs, go with one of the chewable preventives that are part of a newer class of drugs called Isoxazolines. These include Nexgard, Simparica, and Bravecto. Keep your dogs and cats on this year-round, whether you’re giving it monthly (Nexgard or Simparica) or quarterly (Bravecto). They are worth every penny. I personally prefer monthly chewables, as they theoretically seem more effective on a 30-day period. Plus it helps me keep a monthly routine check-up on my dog (bath, nail trim, Heartgard chewable, and Nexgard chewable). An added bonus is the little stickers on the package that you can use to put on a calendar, which helps us to keep track of whether or not we gave it.

Other notes:

⦁ For cats, I prefer Revolution PLUS. This is a monthly topical that covers not only fleas and ticks, but also heartworms. Monthly topicals, such as Frontline, Advantix, and Revolution, are completely fine. In fact, there are no monthly chewables for cats. 

⦁ Follow instructions on when to give the flea prevention. These products only last for a certain amount of time before they’re fully metabolized or inactivated.


KEEP THE FLOORS CLEAN: I see it as a way to keep the home inviting for people—not fleas! Take a look back at the flea pyramid and think about the other 95%! Washing bedding, regularly cleaning floors and vacuuming is the cheapest, easiest, and arguably one of the most effective ways of eradicating the eggs, larvae, and pupae.



With the COVID-19 pandemic finally nearing the end, and curbside appointments becoming a thing of the past, much concern has been raised about the future of some pets’ mental health.

I refer to 2020 as the “Great Pet Boom”—an opportune time for many folks trapped at home to enrich their lives by acquiring a new furry friend. Even if you don’t fall under this category, chances are you may have spent more quality time with your dog or cat. I admit to being one of these owners. I think we tripled the amount of household dog beds and toys last year! (I’m sure companies like Chewy and Amazon can’t complain!) But as we all transition back to “normal” and finally begin returning to work, many pets find themselves home alone, some experiencing this new “abnormal” for the first time.

So how can we tell if our own animals may be experiencing this post-pandemic separation anxiety? Whether or not they’re going to manifest separation anxiety depends on many factors, such as environment, owner attachment, emotional resiliency, predisposition to panic and anxiety disorders, etc. While we can’t say for sure what “abnormal” our pets will be experiencing, there are several things we can do to prevent the onset of this anxiety disorder.


Start by observing for signs of separation anxiety:

⦁ Follows you from room to room when you are home 

⦁ Does not want to go outside without you

⦁ Tries to leave with you as you leave the house

⦁ Gets anxious when you get your coat, keys, purse, shoes on, etc. 

⦁ Whining, barking, or howling for more than a few minutes when you leave

⦁ If left in a crate, they hypersalivate and destroy blankets

⦁ Urinates/defecates when you’re away for short periods of time (despite being housetrained)


Try seeing things from their point of view. Especially if this is a relatively new pet, everything to them is new: people, sounds, smells, schedule, and house rules. Some animals seem to adjust immediately, while others may require some time and patience. If they are showing signs of anxiety when you leave it’s not revenge for you leaving them—it’s actually more of a panic response.


The primary solution relies upon reassurance and consistency in the environment. Here are some tips on how to ease your dog’s stress when you are away:

⦁ Try to make the first several times you leave your dog alone less than 1 hour. This will allow you to evaluate what is happening while you’re gone and to look for signs of anxiety. I’ve even set up a GoPro camera just to see how they behave when I’m not home.

⦁ Leave your dog with something that has your scent on it (T-shirt, hat, etc.) 

⦁ Play some relaxing music or put on NPR while you are away (perhaps all they need is the calming news update from the BBC newshour!) 

⦁ Provide them with something to do while you’re away such as a chew bone, frozen Kong treat, or favorite toy. Reserving such items for the times you are away teaches them that great things come when you leave!

⦁ Keep arrivals and departures low-key. If you think it’s a big deal, so will they. Keep arrivals and departures low-key. If you think it’s a big deal, so will they. 

⦁ Crate training. Some dogs prefer the confines of a crate (especially with a blanket over it) to help them feel comfortable while you’re gone. Confining them to a room is another option. Either approach can be especially important for puppies and shy/fearful dogs. Just remember: the crate should always be perceived as a positive experience and not a punishment. Also keep in mind trial and error can be a factor, as crating doesn’t work for all dogs. 

⦁ Exercise! A tired dog is much less likely to experience distress. Even if you moved back to a busy work schedule, finding someone to let your dog out midday to exercise and go to the bathroom can also train your dog to become familiar with other people. 

⦁ If your dog enjoys the company of other dogs, doggy daycare may be a great option. (Just be sure they’re updated on their vaccines before bringing them there!)


Separation anxiety can be frustrating for all involved, but try to avoid punishing your dog. This can create more anxiety and will break down the relationship between you and your dog.

More severe anxiety symptoms, which can include destructiveness or self-injury, may be more difficult to manage and time-intensive to work through. If at any time your dog is anxious enough that they’re harming themselves, destroying furniture/walls/flooring, or busting out of a secure crate it’s time to call in a professional.

Vet Advice: April, 2021


The weather has finally brought some warm air springtime rains. And for many dogs it means playtime in the mud and muck! After we hike our dogs, it usually means one thing is next -- time for a bath! But have you ever wondered if you're bathing your dog correctly? Below are some helpful tips I've picked up over the years:


  • Human skin is actually more acidic (pH 4.0-6.5) than dog skin (pH 6.5-7.5). Our acidity is part of our immune defense to keep certain bacteria off of our skin. This is partly why we have different bacterial “flora” on our skin than dogs.

  • Because of this pH difference, dogs’ skin is different than ours, and therefore requires a specific shampoo.



  • Dogs’ ear canals are actually shaped differently than ours. Humans tend to have more horizontal ear canals, whereas dogs have a vertical and horizontal portion. Unfortunately, this can cause water and other junk to stay trapped longer in their ears, allowing more opportunity for infection.

  • What you can do instead is clean out their ears (if necessary) with an otic cleanser that can be picked up our Veterinary hospital. (be sure to follow the instructions!)



  • Every dog owner likes to start with the back. Afterall, it seems like the most important part of their haircoat is there. It’s the part we tend to pet the most….But we should be focusing on areas that need it the most—their underbelly, legs, tailfold, etc. This is not only where the “muck” tends to deposit, but the underbelly in particular is largely a hairless region that’s more vulnerable to the outside world! Since [for most dogs at least] the underbelly touches the floor and ground most often, bugs and bacteria sometimes find it easier to invade these regions, especially in the “low-rider” dogs that tend to scrape their bellies more when running through tall grass.



  • Scrubbing against their haircoat will not only irritate their hairs, but also open up unnecessary pores in their skin (near the base of the hair shaft) and allow for possible infection to seep in at the site of the hair root.



  • Sometimes leaving residual amounts of shampoo on dogs can do more harm than good. It can actually invite bacteria and yeast to live in the dark wet folds of the skin.

  • Besides letting them shake the water off, dry them off thoroughly with a clean, dry towel that hasn’t been used on other things.



  • If your dog doesn’t have any chronic skin conditions or lesions, any name-brand dog shampoo with the typical benzoyl peroxide and soothing ingredients like oatmeal will do just fine. You don’t need to be treating their skin if it’s not a problem; “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

  • I've spoken with several veterinary dermatologists on what they reccommend for brands of dog shampoos. The consensus is that you actually DO get what you pay for, especially when it comes to dog shampoos. Veterinary brands like Virbac are usually a safe bet.

  • If your dog has a skin condition, be sure to closely follow your Veterinarian's instructions, such as allowing the recommended shampoo to soak for 10 minutes on their underbelly, giving it time to treat.



Vet Advice: March 12, 2021


Easter time! A time when Spring is in the air, yard work begins again, and bunnies are somehow laying multicolored eggs for us to find. And while the kids are out looking for those eggs, your other little ones—the 4-leggeds—might be looking for a chance to get into those baskets!  The last thing you’ll want is for your pet to eat something hazardous or toxic! Here are some dangerous things you’ll want to keep away from their curious little taste buds:

CHOCOLATE – The colloquial phrase “death by chocolate” is not a joking matter in pets, especially dogs. Unlike humans, dogs are unable to properly digest chocolate, making them more prone to toxicosis. The toxins in chocolate can cause several problems, including pancreatitis, G.I. upset, hyperexcitability, and even death. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate have an even higher concentration of these toxins compared to milk chocolate.

PLANTS – Sure, dogs are known get into things—but so do cats! Perhaps some of the most common plant poisons in cats are from springtime Lilies, meaning anything in the genus Lilium. In fact, one bite of the plant, one drink of water from the vase, or one lick of lily pollen from their paws can potentially lead to fatal kidney failure in cats! Other toxic plants to keep away from your pets include sago palms, Kalanchoe, and any bulbs of the various springtime flowers (tulips, lilies, iris, etc).



  • SUGAR-FREE GUM: One of my veterinary classmates who works at a 24 hour veterinary emergency hospital says she most often sees dogs coming in for sugar-free gum toxicity. The fake sugar substitutes (xylitol or sorbitol) can pose serious harm to the liver, and may cause seizures.
  • PLASTICS: Plastic grass and other undigestible stringy objects can lead to gastrointestinal foreign bodies if your dog or cat ingests them. These can be life-threatening if they aren’t passed through. Some signs for concern include decrease in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and stomach pain.
  • CHEMICALS: many of the herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides we use can be toxic in a number of ways. Even a cat who has just eaten a dead, poisoned mouse can suffer a fatal outcome.

So if you’re wanting to avoid “putting all your eggs in one basket” this Spring, please keep in mind poison prevention for your pets!



If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, you can call either of these teleservices. I’ve had some experience with both services. Last I heard, these places do charge a fee, but it was worth it because they could provide information on particular toxic products.

ASPCA Poison Control: (888) 426-4435

Pet Poison Helpline: (855) 764-7661



Depending on the situation, AVAH may be able to help during our normal business hours. call ahead if possible, so we can review your pet's medical record and prepare the treatment area for your arrival.

Apple Valley Animal Hospital: (828) 685-1650

For emergencies after 5:30pm Monday through Friday, after 1:00pm Saturday, Sunday or Holidays, call or go directly to:

Western Carolina Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Hendersonville (828) 693-3331


Animal Emergency Clinic in Greenville, SC. (864) 232-1878



Pet Poison Helpline