Important Information from Your Little Rock Veterinarian about Canine Influenza Outbreak

Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious viral infection that is considered to be a Type A influenza virus. At present, two strains of canine influenza virus have been identified in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2.

Influenza viruses can quickly change and give rise to new strains that can infect different species. Both strains of canine influenza identified in the U.S. can be traced to influenza strains known to infect species other than dogs., but at some point, these viruses acquired the ability to infect dogs and be transmitted from dog to dog.

Canine H3N8 influenza was first identified in Florida in 2004 in racing greyhounds. It is thought this strain developed from an equine H3N8 influenza strain that jumped from horses to dogs. Since being detected in 2004, canine H3N8 influenza has been identified in dogs in most U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Canine H3N2 influenza was first identified in the United States in March 2015 following an outbreak of respiratory illness in dogs in the Chicago area. Prior to this outbreak, reports of canine H3N2 influenza virus were restricted to South Korea, China and Thailand. It was initially identified in dogs in Asia in 2006-2007 and likely arose through the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus – possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets – to dogs.

As of May, 30 states have reported H3N2 infections and 42 (including Arkansas) have reported H3N8 cases.

These cases are primarily associated with movement between AKC dog shows, but have spilled over into pet dogs, and there is major concern the outbreak will continue via AKC shows. NOTE: Last weekend’s AKC show scheduled in Texarkana, AR was canceled as a precautionary measure.

Get Your Dog Flu Vaccine at Your Favorite Little Rock Veterinarian

The most important step to prevention is to vaccinate dogs against the canine influenza viruses, so please call us to schedule an appointment. Just like human flu vaccines, the H3N2 CIV vaccine may not completely prevent infection but will make it less likely. Additionally, if a vaccinated dog does get infected, the disease is likely to be mild and of shorter duration. The vaccine can also protect against pneumonia.

Canine influenza is not currently a reportable disease in Arkansas. However, the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission has broad authority to respond to animal disease outbreaks including quarantine and additional actions if deemed necessary by the State Veterinarian.

The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory offers canine influenza testing on nasal swabs. Please contact the laboratory for additional information.

Additional information is also available at the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

How to Help Your Pet Live Longer with Good Dental Care

Regularly Visit your Little Rock Veterinarian for Dental Check-Ups

Our team will perform a complete dental exam and will then recommend oral care and/or a treatment tailored for your pet. Treatment can involve professional teeth cleaning and polishing, and dental surgery (tooth extraction) if necessary. Drugs may be prescribed to complement the treatment: antibiotics or local antiseptics during some days or weeks in order to fight bacterial infection.

Do not hesitate to ask us if your pet suffers from bad breath or decreased appetite.

Preventive Dental Care at Home

Dental home care is critical in the prevention of periodontal disease. It is also a key factor to make the effects of professional dental cleaning last longer.

You can help delay the first professional dental cleaning with appropriate dental care at home starting as early as possible in your pet’s life.

Brushing, chewing, rinsing, food or water additive: All of these are good ways to prevent the accumulation of dental plaque and bacteria on your pet’s teeth and help them live a long, happy life.

Bad Breath: The Evidence of Periodontal Disease

Imagine never brushing your teeth… for years. That’s what happens to your pet without proper dental care. Bad breath is not a normal condition for dogs and cats. It is evidence of a very serious condition: periodontal disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?

It’s the scientific name given to disease of the gum and surrounding tissues of the teeth. Periodontal disease occurs when there is an excess build-up of dental plaque that is further infected by bacteria and mineralized into tartar. More than 85% of dogs and cats suffer from some stage of periodontal disease.

Bad breath rarely originates from intestinal or liver problems; it comes from poor oral health. And, without proper oral care, periodontal disease can have very serious and irreversible consequences.


Advanced stages of periodontal disease have very serious effects and can shorten your pet’s life:

  • Jaw bone destruction leading to fractures, dental abscesses and tooth loss
  • Intense pain preventing your pet from eating
  • Spreading of bacteria into the blood flow toward other organs (heart, liver, kidneys and lungs)

For more than 30 years, Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic has been serving pet owners and their furry friends across central Arkansas with comprehensive and compassionate veterinary services. Contact us today and let our doctors and techs keep your pets happy and healthy.

On the Road with Fido and Fluffy – Traveling with Pets

Traveling with your pets can be a fun endeavor, especially with the rising popularity of pet-friendly restaurants and hotels. But, much like packing up the kids to go on vacation, there are a few specific details you need to iron out before you go.

What to Pack

Here’s a brief checklist of items you should remember to bring along whether you’re traveling by land or air:

  • Your pet’s food
  • Food and water dishes
  • Bedding
  • Litter and litter box
  • Leash, collar and tags
  • Grooming supplies
  • A first-aid kit (for dogs or cats
  • Any necessary medications.

And if you’re on a road trip, always have a container of drinking water with you!

Pet Health Requirements

When traveling with your pet, you might encounter animal health requirements specific to your destination. As soon as you know your travel details, it’s important to contact your veterinarian to assist with the pet travel process. Factors to consider may include meeting time frames for obtaining a health certificate, updating vaccinations, diagnostic testing, or administration of medications/ treatments. Regulations for traveling in the U.S. are not stringent; however, it’s always a good idea to have your pet’s health records on-hand.

Traveling with your pet to a foreign country, however, can be a little…hairy! For example, if you plan to travel to Australia with your pup, you must follow 20 steps before the government will permit entry! You definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute.

Airplane Travel with your Dog or Cat

Some airlines allow small pets to travel in the cabin with you as your carry-on item while others require pets to travel in the cargo area below. BringFido has an excellent list detailing regulations and fees for most major airlines.

Some general rules for flying with your pet. Make sure you:

  • Use a carrier that is approved by your airline.
  • Have your pet’s vaccinations updated before you leave.
  • Ensure your pet is microchipped in the event he’s lost.

Road Tripping with your Furry Friends

When you take a car trip with your cat or dog, the Humane Society recommends that each (especially cats who are more prone to wandering) be crated. They also say that dog restraints or seat belts are useful for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and being a distraction; however, they haven’t reliably been shown to protect dogs in the event of a crash.

Be sure to also stop for plenty of bathroom and exercise breaks, but always keep a collar and tags on your dog just in case he gets loose. It’s always best when traveling with pets to have another two-legged traveler so one of you can stay in the vehicle if you need to take a rest stop. If you’re solo, make it quick and leave windows open in warm weather.

And, before you go, be sure to search the internet for pet friendly places that welcome your animals. Most places in the U.S. that are pet friendly only welcome dogs, so search for “dog friendly restaurant” and the city you’re visiting.

Most of all, have a great time and fun adventures with your pets!

Kids and Pets – What to Know Before You Adopt

You know the familiar refrain (Heck, you probably even used it yourself back in the day): “But, moooooom! Everyone else has a puppy [kitty] [goldfish] [ferret]!” Or even better, “Dad! Look what followed me home! Can we keep him???” It seems like kids and pets (more often than not) go together like peanut butter and jelly, so adopting a new family member may feel like an easy choice. But, it’s really important to ensure that you don’t enter into pet parenthood with little forethought. You need to take a lot of factors into consideration before you make the leap into being owned by a pet, and the Little Rock veterinarians at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic can help with some advice.

What’s your style?

One of the main things you need to think about when deciding to welcome a pet into your home is your family’s lifestyle. This checklist might be helpful as you go through the pros and cons of adoption:

  • How many kids do you have?
  • How old are your kids?
  • Do you already have a pet?
  • Does anyone have animal fur or dander allergies?
  • What’s the size of your home compared to the pet you’d like to adopt?
  • In what life stage is the pet are you considering (baby, adult, senior)?
  • If you’re considering adopting a dog, do you have a fenced back yard?
  • What’s your daily schedule like?

Thinking through these questions will help you determine what type of pet will fit your family’s dynamic. For example, if the adult(s) in the family work a typical 8-5 job seven days a week, the kids are in school, and also have after-school activities, adopting a puppy might not be the best idea. But, a self-sufficient cat would be perfect!

Kids and Pet Care

Of course, when you bring home a new pet, the kids are over the moon! They’re so excited that they’ll promise to do all of the pet-care chores! It’s important to realize, however, that once the elation of having a new family member wears off, Mom or Dad will likely be the ones managing those tasks. Starting their pet-care responsibilities from day one will often ensure that your kids get into good habits with their new friend. When making a chore chart, it’s important to consider their ages when you’re determining appropriate pet care chores.

The folks at Parents magazine advise that kids as young as three can lend a hand by helping Mom or Dad feed their pet. As they get older, responsibilities such as walking the dog or cleaning the litter box every day can be added.

Kids and Pet Treatment

While welcoming a new family member can be an exciting time, it’s also extremely important to make sure your kids understand how to act around pets: They’re in an unfamiliar environment and need to be treated gently for the first few weeks. The experts at offer a few recommendations. Teach your kids:

  • How to properly handle and pick up pets.
  • To never tease animals or pull their tails or ears.
  • To never bother animals while they’re eating or sleeping.
  • To never take a toy or bone away from a dog.
  • To wash their hands with soap and water after handling pets.

And a couple tips for Mom and Dad to remember:

  • Closely supervise pets and never leave an infant or toddler alone with a pet.
  • Don’t put pets into scary situations. For example, if you know your cat gets nervous around too many people, then put the kitty in another room during parties.
  • Be sure to have your new pet checked out at your veterinarian’s office. The Little Rock veterinarians at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic would love to visit with you and your furry friend!

Adding a new pet to the family can be a rewarding and enriching experience. Just take the time to do a little research and self-evaluation to make sure you and your kids are ready for the responsibility. And have fun!

October is National Pet Wellness Month

Because dogs and cats age six to ten times faster than humans, it’s important that we humans ensure their health and well-being is looked after because they sure can’t do it on their own. October is National Pet Wellness Month, so this is the perfect time to provide our top five guidelines to keep your dog or cat in tip-top shape!

  1. Semi-Annual Vet Visits

The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AMVA) recommends twice-yearly visits for a thorough check-up. Because our pets age more quickly than we do, health issues can show up fast. An exam every six months provides the opportunity for early detection, treatment, or prevention of potentially life-threatening conditions.

  1. Dental Hygiene

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal (or gum) disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats, and is entirely preventable. The disorder develops after food and bacteria collect along the gum line and form plaque in a pet’s mouth. Just like in humans, a build-up of this oral bacteria can lead to all sorts of health issues for your pet, including heart valve problems and kidney infections. Be sure to sign up on our website to receive 10% off dental treatments scheduled during the month of October!

  1. Watch Rover’s and Fluffy’s weight

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 58% of U.S. cats and 53% of dogs were said to be overweight in 2014. Unfortunately, most pet parents don’t realize that their furry friend is obese. Since pets don’t process or break down food like we do, giving even one ounce of cheddar cheese to a 20 lb. dog is the same as an average-size woman eating 1 ½ hamburgers or 3 chocolate bars! Feeding them too much pet food is also an issue for overweight pets. That’s why it’s important to follow the suggested guidelines, or talk to your veterinarian about a pet food diet plan.

  1. And don’t forget to exercise

Just like humans, all pets require daily physical exercise. Not only does it keep them active (especially as they age), but it also helps mental stimulation and is a great way to burn off excess energy.

  1. Stay up-to-date with their monthly supplements

Fleas, ticks, and heartworms can cause serious (and even deadly) problems for your pets. Prevention is key, so be sure you mark on the calendar when it’s time for their medications.

Following these five simple tips will keep your pets happy and healthy for a long time to come. Happy National Pet Wellness Month!

Join Us at the PuppyUp Walk!

Mark your calendars now because we don’t want you to miss the PuppyUp Walk November 5th at MacArthur Park! PuppyUp is a

two-mile walk created to help promote awareness of canine cancer and fundraise for cancer research to benefit both pets and people.

Pre-registration will be going on through November 3rd for $20. After the 3rd, registration increases to $25. Kids under 14 can participate
for free.

Onsite registration begins at 11:00 a.m., and the walk starts at 1:00 p.m. (Check below for the complete schedule). Since 2010, the PuppyUp Foundation has funded $400,000 in cancer research in the areas of osteosarcoma, breast and bladder cancer, as well as mast cell tumors. So, we encourage you to form a team, join a team, or just walk as an individual to help raise funds for this very worthwhile organization.

2016 PuppyUp Schedule

WHEN: Saturday, November 5th, 2016

WHERE: McArthur Park Pavilion – 601 East 9th St. – Little Rock

11:00 a.m.     Registration & silent auction begins
12:30 p.m.    Opening ceremony
1:00 p.m.      Walk begins
2:00 p.m.     Announcements & prizes to top three fundraisers
2:30 p.m.     Silent auction ends
3:00 p.m.     Farewell ceremony

October is National Adopt-a-Dog® Month!

Over the years, dogs have become more than just pets or working animals, they’re now bona fide family members. They sport Razorback T-shirts on game days, go on family vacations, and you’ll even see them hanging out with their humans on restaurant patios that welcome them. But now, more than ever, many dogs find themselves in a position of needing a new family to love. Whether they’re rescues from a puppy mill; they were found wandering the street; or their previous owner had to surrender them, the perfect dog for you is likely available for immediate adoption in the Little Rock area.

In 1981, the American Humane Association named October as Adopt-a-Dog® month to encourage us humans to save the lives of homeless dogs. We don’t have an exact number of how many dogs need a new place to live, but so far in 2016, the Humane Society of Pulaski Countyhas taken in more than 400 dogs. A no-kill shelter, they’ve been fortunate to have adopted out nearly that same number.

If adopting is in your future, where can you go to find your new furry friend? Check out a few of these local resources:

Adoption fees generally range from $25 to $250 depending on the facility, and many times spaying or neutering is included. Also, keep in mind that adult and senior dogs need love, too. Puppies are adorable so they’re most often adopted quickly, but older and special needs dogs would likely be ecstatic to spend their remaining years living comfortably with a loving family. When you adopt, be sure to bring your pet to us for a wellness exam to make sure they’re in excellent health.

If adopting just isn’t an option for you right now, you can always support your local shelter. Donate time, money or supplies such as dog food, leashes, old towels, or toys. Call the shelter to see what supplies or services are needed most.

Adding a new furry face to your family can be an extremely rewarding experience. Make October the month you take the plunge. Adopt a dog today!

Choosing the Right Insurance for Your Pet

Insurance for pets is an often-overlooked benefit, but it’s exactly the backup you need when your pet requires costly medical treatment. Choosing the best pet insurance for your beloved pet can be a challenge, but here is some information to make your decision easier.

Which Route Should You Take?
When determining the best way to handle large medical expenses when they occur, you can take one of three actions:

  1. Take out a pet insurance policy for financial security and peace of mind.
  2. Put money aside every month in case of emergencies. However, if your pet requires major surgery or an extended treatment, you may not have enough saved up to cover all of the expenses.
  3. Finance your pet’s care through CareCredit, which allows you to pay expenses over time.
  4. None of the above. By not having a financial plan in the event of a major medical event, you’ll either have to find the money somewhere, or forego treatment altogether.

Whichever route you decide to take, you need to make sure it is one you won’t regret. Most veterinarians agree that the saddest part of their job is euthanizing treatable conditions due to economic reasons.

People often don’t realize that veterinary medical treatment, just like that for humans, can be very costly. A few considerations include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Medical tests
  • Prescription medications
  • Surgery
  • Anesthesia

Different Types of Policies
If you do decide that pet insurance is the way to go, you can choose from two basic types of policies. Each has its benefits and disadvantages, and unlike human health insurance, pet insurance companies allow you to choose your own care provider.

  1. Traditional Coverage – This plan is similar to human health insurance. While all policies are different, they do tend to cover your pet for any illnesses throughout its life, up to a maximum annual cost. You will pay a monthly premium, as well as an annual (or per event) deductible. You will also be responsible for a portion of the bill. Some policies also cover wellness exams for an additional fee.
  2. Accident Coverage – This type of coverage is pretty self-explanatory. The monthly premiums are lower, but illnesses or regular exams are not covered.

A Couple of Tips from Little Rock Veterinarians

  • Make sure you understand which type of coverage is appropriate for your pet.
  • Take a look at the maximum limit. Cheaper premiums will have lower limits.
  • Read the small print carefully. You don’t want to end up with a policy that doesn’t cover your pet’s needs.
  • You get what you pay for. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Pedigreed pets will be more expensive to insure compared to mixed breeds, and different insurance providers set different premiums. It’s worth shopping around before making a decision.
  • Once pets get to a certain age, many insurers will limit their coverage. If you want the best pet insurance, it’s better to take it out earlier on in your pet’s life.

At Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic, our procedures are covered by pet insurance. Talk to us today to find out more.

September is Senior Pet Wellness Month

The old adage of measuring time in dog years really is true. Our pets age in a similar fashion as humans, but at a far more rapid rate. Typically, dogs and cats are considered senior when they’re about seven years old. Of course, size and breed have a lot of bearing on the aging process, and cats generally live longer than dogs.  But, just like humans, our pets tend to require more care as they age. This is the time in their lives when they’re more prone to developing health issues such as arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, thyroid conditions, and diabetes.

Of course, we don’t want to think about the time when our pets become incapacitated or ill as they age, but it’s something we need to pay attention to. It’s important we do what we can to help ensure that our senior pets lives are as comfortable as possible. After all, isn’t that what we want for ourselves and our human family members?

While aging itself is not a disease, according to Vetstreet, there are a few symptoms you should keep an eye on when it comes to caring for your older pet:

  • Changes in weight (especially weight loss)
  • Decreased appetite or lack of appetite
  • Increased water consumption
  • Changes in urine or stool patterns
  • New lumps, bumps or swellings — or changes in existing ones
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing or breathing heavily or rapidly at rest
  • Sudden collapse or weakness
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping
  • Foul mouth odor or drooling
  • Seizure or convulsions
  • Disorientation

If your dog or cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s time to schedule a check-up.

If your pet is healthy, great! But there are still steps you can take to help them stay that way. Just like most of us, our pets tend to slow down and get a little less nimble as they get older. If getting in and out of the car or up on furniture is becoming a challenge, you can build or buy a ramp. Continue to keep them active with short walks, playtime at the park, or new toys. And, don’t forget their cognitive abilities. Brain health is equally as important as physical health. Keep your pets sharp by using food puzzles, or literally teaching your old dog new tricks!

It’s important for pets in their senior years to have regular veterinary visits to check for mental and physical health issues, so be sure to monitor all changes with your veterinarian’s guidance.

We’re Doing It Again: Microchip Your Pet!

According to American Humane, 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year. Even worse, according to the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, only 22% of dogs and 2% of cats in shelters are reunited with their families. Microchipping can help bring many of these pets home.

Join us Saturday, October 1 at Bass Pro Shops in Little Rock as we partner with Little Rock Animal Village for their microchip program. In March, we microchipped more than 400 pets over two days. Let’s see how many we can chip this time!

We love being a part of this program, and we feel that as a part of the Little Rock veterinarian community it’s crucial to help pet owners learn why microchipping is so important. It’s a very simple, cost-effective way to keep track of your pets if they are ever lost. For more information, please contact us today.

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