Guest Post: "Age is not a disease."

"Age is not a disease.” This is fast becoming my favorite quote, but I truly believe this. I work with people in their 20s and 30s. They keep me thinking young. You truly are just as old as you feel.

compression socksI am an avid cyclist and have ridden for 5 years in Pelotonia, a 100 mile fundraising ride for cancer research. I ride with people of all ages. Lee Schneider, Pelotonia’s oldest rider at 83 (right with his pink compression socks), once again rode all 100 miles this year, and then rode another 80 miles the next day… all with a smile on his face. Now tell me, are those the legs of an 83 year old man??

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Guest Post: Giving Puppies and Kittens as Holiday Gifts

Is it the holidays again, so soon? I remember my mom saying, “time goes faster the older you get.” She was not a prophetic woman, but you know… she was right. We all need to slow our lives down and enjoy what the holidays are all about. But holidays seem to rush by faster than ever with all the buzz of the season. We all have the office and neighborhood parties, the gift shopping, the travel plans, and all the decorating. It is truly a hectic time of the year.

So, why would any sane person think about bringing an energizer bunny of a puppy or a kitten into the mix? Are you crazy? I blame it on all the Hallmark commercials! Let me set the scene. A perfectly wrapped box, trembling under a glittering Christmas tree. Was that Santa scurrying up the chimney? I think it was! Enter the excited children running toward the box. What could it be? The moment of truth. The box is opened to find a perfect, happy, little puppy waiting to lick their faces. Could it be any better?

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Guest post: Childhood and Pets….they just go together

I am now coming up on my double nickel birthday, 55. Wow, how did that happen? Time surely flies. When I look back, I tend to divide my life into sections, according to the dog I had at that time. Animals live your life; they age with you; they share your special moments. In my grade school days there was Tuffy, a reported purebred Fox Terrier that grew up to be a 50 pound version of a yellow Lab. (Funny, the breeder moved out of town a week after they sold Tuffy to my Dad. Hmm….) In my high school days, it was Yankee Boy, an abandoned Pekingese, a feisty little guy that my brother saved from a vet’s boarding kennel. Finally, in my college days I had Stewy and Ryan, two strays that patiently endured my many examinations as I progressed through vet school. I could not imagine my childhood and early adulthood without those pets. They were my friends. They understood me. They brought so much happiness to my life.

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Guest Post: “Why should I get pet health insurance?”

“Why should I get pet health insurance?” I hear that from clients all the time. My answer….”Why wouldn’t you get pet health insurance?” What is the downside?

There are many misunderstandings about what pet health insurance is. It is not like our health insurance. It is not managed care. Pet health insurance is more like car insurance. Car insurance is there when you need it, so you do not have a big out-of-pocket cost if something happens to your car. The same goes for your pet with pet health insurance. They are both indemnity insurance, which by definition is “protection or insurance against future loss or damage.”

Vet Pet InsuranceI do think some of the hesitation about pet health insurance among vets comes from their experiences with the earliest companies. They were horrible. They were poor payers of claims and customer service was dismal. The clients would get mad at the company and also at the vet for recommending such a terrible thing! Those companies are still out there, so you still need to research the company you are going to use. A great resource is petinsurancereview.com. This site is similar to Angie’s List. They use customer reviews to rate the various companies. You can tell by the ratings which companies to avoid. It just so happens that Embrace is one of the highest rated!

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Guest Post: Behavior Problems Require Behavior Counseling, Not Training

We live in a fast paced, do-it-now, society and our pets live there right with us. We are stressed out, running around, trying to meet deadlines, both at work and in our lives. Our animals sense our stress. They are so in-tune with us. Think about it, we are their world, so anything that stresses us out, stresses them out. No wonder we see more behavior problems in our pets than ever before. Throw in the indiscriminate breeding practices that are rampant in our country and you can get some pretty messed up pets.

Behavior ProblemsOur society is also one in which we want the quick and easy fix for our pet’s behavior problems but, alas, there is no panacea. It often takes a combination of behavior counseling and drugs, just like in people. Notice I did not say behavior training, because training is NOT behavior counseling. This is a problem I see often. This is a very important point. No shock or pronged collars have ever cured a behavioral issue. They often make things worse and I have seen it happen way too many times. Trainers do a fantastic job at training your dog in obedience and manners. Thank god we have them, but behavior counseling is a whole different beast.

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Guest Post: dog walking safety by Dr Rex Riggs

Yea it is summer!  Wow, was that the worse winter you can remember?  Well, now we all are doing as much as possible outside as we can, and that includes doing a lot of those things with our dogs. Taking a walk with a dog is one of the best therapies I know to wind down after a hard day at work. The serene evening hours, to me, is the best time to take a stroll. But….be aware, danger may be right around the corner.

Many of us live in areas that have no sidewalks, so we often use the streets. I am an avid cyclist, so I know all too well, of the dangers on the road. People really don’t pay that much attention while they are driving. You need to be visible, even in daylight and almost to the obnoxious extreme, to make sure people know you are there. I have 2 lights in the front, two in the back on my bike and I dress head to toe in dayglow green cycling gear (sorry for the mental image!). You can definitely see me!

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Guest Post: what do generic drugs, ticks, and bats have in common?

They are all on Dr Rex Riggs' mind as he ponders what's going on in his veterinary world this summer.

Name Brand medications vs. Generics-Sometimes there is a difference…

To be certified a "generic" by the Food and Drug Administration, a drug has to have the same "active ingredient" as its brand name equivalent. The generic has to have an efficiency rate plus or minus 20% of the effectiveness of the name brand. This is very important point. If you get one batch of generics that is 20% below the name brand’s effectiveness and you refill it with a batch that is 20% more effective than the brand name, that is a 40% difference.  

For antibiotics, the variance does not make a big difference.  For NSAIDS (like Rimadyl and Metacam), thyroid medications (Soloxine), antidepressants, or any other drug that has a narrow therapeutic or safety range, it can make a huge difference.  

In addition, generics are not required to use the same binders as the name brand. It is the binders that are responsible for how the body absorbs the active ingredient; therefore, generics might be absorbed differently in the body (gel caps compared to pills, for instance), which affects efficacy. 

For these reasons, we do not like using generics in place of Rimadyl, Metacam or Soloxine at our hospital. Something to ask about at your next vet visit if you are seeing varying results in your pet's response to these generic medications.  

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Guest Post: Dr Rex Riggs on critical thinking and pet food

Dr GoogleWow, how many dog and cat foods are out there now!  Did you know, in our grocery stores, pet food is the number one grossing item?  It outsells the next 6 items combined!  In 2013, dog and cat owners in the United States, spent $21,000,000 dollars on food. Twenty one million dollars! Dog and cat food is BIG business. So it no wonder that the number of companies making pet food has exploded.  Some of these foods are good, some are heavily marketed with unsubstantiated claims.  Buyer beware.

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Guest Post: why do a dog or cat dental cleaning?

Embrace friend and advisor, Dr Rex Riggs, talks about why you should go ahead with the expense of a dental cleaning under anesthesia with X-rays. It's needed people!


Periodontal disease is the most common disease seen in our pets. Think about it. If we did not brush our teeth, used no mouthwash, ate whatever we can put in our mouth including, for dogs, that tasty hors d’ourve, the ever popular cat turd, what would our teeth look like? Put on top of this chomping down on deer antlers, bones, and nylabones, and you get a lot of chipped and broken teeth.

How many of us have had root canals?  They are a result of tooth root abscesses and they hurt like a mother. Dogs and cats have these same tooth root abscesses and continue to eat. They are great at hiding their pain.  How they do that is beyond me.  Did I mention tooth root abscesses hurt like a mother? 

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Guest Post: Have a Safe and Happy Holidays from Dr Rex Riggs

Happy Holidays to everyone! It is a great time of the year that gives us an opportunity to spend cherished time with our family and friends. Enjoy the season.

Holidays can also be fun times for our pets, with all the new people around to spoil them with all the attention. But, as always (isn’t there always a but), there are also things we need to remind our guests. They can love our pets all they want with petting, but please don’t share the Christmas treats.

Max from the GrinchRemember Max, the Grinch’s dog, did not eat any of the “roast beast “or “the who pudding” and he had a great Christmas. In contrast, who could forget what happened to the lovable dog “Snot”, at the Griswold’s house. He drank the tree water and then enjoyed the Christmas trash. He then deposited his “present” under the dining room table. Not a jolly event.

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