Apple Valley Animal Hospital

3015 Chimney Rock Rd
Hendersonville, NC 28792


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Kitten & Puppy Series: Deworming - 09/21/2017

Deworming, flea prevention, heartworm prevention, nutrition, dental care, vaccinations…these are just a handful of buzzwords you’ll hear at your puppy’s first veterinary visit. This can be a lot of information to take in–and that doesn’t even cover the day-to-day challenges a puppy provides home! We’re here to help demystify this whole process for you. In this series of blog posts, each story will cover a different topic to remind us all the importance of veterinary care at every stage of your pet’s life.

This is Max when he was very sick.
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An example of what we see under the microscope during a fecal floatation test. This sample contains many hookworms.

Meet Max! He came to see us when he was just 6 weeks old. At this time, Max’s owner noticed he was not playing with his litter mates and had a decreased appetite. A physical exam and fecal flotation test revealed that he was extremely sick from intestinal parasites and fleas. Parasites such as whipworms, roundworms, and hookworms are ubiquitous in the environment, especially where other dogs and cats are present. Many times in a healthy adult, these parasites only cause mild transient symptoms like diarrhea. However, a puppy or kitten’s immune system is not strong enough to overcome these bugs, and they can quickly become a life threatening disease.

After running some quick diagnostics on Max, we found that his body temperature and red blood cell count were both dangerously low. Luckily, we were able to stabilize Max with a life-saving blood transfusion from Dr. Lord’s dog, Mica. Max’s owners wanted to give him the best chance of surviving, so they transferred him to our local 24 hour emergency clinic for round-the-clock care over the weekend.

Max when he came back to see us! Happy, healthy, and really working that side-eye!

One week later, Max came back to see us—and you can imagine our joy when we saw that he was doing great!!! His red blood cell count had greatly improved, he was eating well, and was being very playful with his 3 litter mates once again! Thanks to the quick thinking by Dr. Nigrini and Dr. Lord (and many thanks to Mica!!!), Max was given a chance at the happy and healthy life that almost slipped away from him.

Let Max’s story be a reminder as to why regular deworming is such an important practice at EVERY life stage!

The Veterinarians’ Role in Preventing Animal Abuse - 04/23/2017

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge…”

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This sentence begins the oath taken by all veterinarians when they enter the profession. As you can see, a veterinarian vows much more than to just treat sick animals. One of the most important parts of the oath implies a responsibility to public health as well as the prevention of animal suffering. Believe it or not, the two oftentimes go hand in hand.

According to a 2008 study from the Michigan State University College of Law, the link between animal abuse and human violence is all too clear. In this study, 100% of sexual homicide offenders had a history of cruelty towards animals, and 70% of animal abusers had committed at least one other criminal offense (40% of those being violent crimes against people.) Even more disturbing, 71% of women seeking shelter in a safe house who owned pets reported that their abuser also threatened or physically harmed their pets at least once. By recognizing the signs of animal abuse, we can help protect our neighbors from potentially dangerous individuals.

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Sometimes these signs can be obvious, such as witnessing a physical act against an animal or finding an animal with an injury such as bullet wounds. Other times, the signs are not so clear. There is a push in the veterinary field to train veterinarians to be familiar with these more subtle signs. These signs can include low body weight with blood work that reflects lack of nutrition, chronic untreated medical conditions, injuries attributed to unknown causes, multiple injured animals from the same household, discrepancies in names and addresses, as well as discrepancies in the story provided by the owner.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 7.46.24 PMIn North Carolina, veterinarians are not required by law to report cases of suspected animal cruelty. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the governing body for all members of the veterinary profession, states that it is the “responsibility of the veterinarian to report such cases to appropriate authorities, whether or not reporting is mandated by law.” Sometimes, one small clue in the exam room can be the only indicator of an abusive household. It is our job as members of the health profession to do all we can to protect not only our beloved pets but also their families that care for them

If you suspect animal cruelty, report it to your local sheriff’s department, SPCA, or animal control. As always, we are here to help. Visit our website or call us at (828) 685-1650.


Your Pet’s New Year’s Resolutions (and How You Can Help) - 01/13/2017

Just like us, our pets can have New Year’s Resolutions to help keep their goals on track! And like us, a little help with their goals can go a long way. We polled 100 cats and dogs and these were their top 5 resolutions for 2017!

1. Get in shape.screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-2-55-56-pm

This is a mutually beneficial goal for our pets! Try adding a 30 min walk to your pet’s daily routine. There are also many pet-friendly hiking trails in our area! You can find a complete list here.

2. Prioritize my health.

While this resolution can seem overwhelming, there are a few simple changes that can be made to help your pet’s health goals be more achievable. First, you can start by replacing their treats with healthier alternatives like carrots or green beans. Also, you can make sure your pet makes it to see a veterinarian for their annual health exam. Annual exams help us practice preventative medicine–we’d much rather prevent or treat any illnesses early than wait until bigger problems have developed! This is especially important when it comes to dental health!

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-3-08-00-pm3. Spend more time enjoying my hobbies.

Our pets all have activities that they enjoy! Does your cat go crazy for mouse toys? Spend an extra 10 minutes playing with them each day! Have a dog that can’t get enough fetch? Sounds like a great reason to go to the dog park on a pretty day!

4. Learn a new skill.

Whoever said an old dog can’t learn new tricks must not have tried very hard. It’s never too late for our pets to pick up a new trick or hobby. Call us for a list of local trainers we recommend, or enroll your dog in an agility class! You might be surprised at what your pet is capable of!


5. Laugh more!

Oftentimes, our pets favorite thing is simply spending time with us. More and more places are becoming pet-friendly (including these restaurants), so don’t be afraid to take your dog on more outings! You might even find that the more time you spend with your pet, the better your mood is as well!

To find out how we can help with your pets goals for 2017, visit our website or call us at (828)685-1650.

Senior Pets: The More Years the Merrier! - 11/11/2016

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

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!


They’re wiser. Many older dogs in shelters already have some training under their belts collars. That means less time spent on potty training and basic commands, leaving more time for 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: 

“Senior pets tend to have the best back stories, whether it’s been adventures shared with their screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-29-59-amfamilies 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, visit our website or call us at (828)685-1650.

Three Word Horror Story: “Poor Dental Health” - 10/20/2016

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!

dog-toothbrushAnother 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, visit our website at or call us at (828) 685-1650.


Enter for a chance to win a prize bag of dental health products for your pet! 

Step 1) Follow us on Facebook (Apple Valley Animal Hospital).

Step 2) Post a picture of your costumed pet to Facebook and tag us in the post by October 31st! One entry per pet.

We will announce the winner on our Facebook page on November 1st!