The Animal Health Bulletin
Healing Springs Animal Hospital
Serving Family & Farm Since 1979
Dogs, Cats, Equine, Bovine, Small Ruminants, Camelid
Healing Springs Animal Hospital
107 Nuckolls Curve Rd
Galax, VA
(276) 236-5103


Volume III, Issue IV

May 2007


        Finding a Lost Pet – The Best System Ever Introduced

        Equine Dental & Oral Health (full-size and mini-horses)

        Pet Food Recall Update

        Iron Mountain Trail Riders – New Website



Pet Portals Login






Upcoming Events



FREE Deworming Clinic

Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 9AM to 6PM

Free fecal exam to detect worms

10% Discount on Drontal® Plus dewormer

Call to schedule a FREE appointment: (276) 236-5103




Microchip Day

Saturday, May 19, 2007

To help introduce the new Advanced Pet Recovery System now offered in conjunction with HomeAgain microchips, Healing Springs will hold a microchip day.  See the article below to learn how the Advanced Pet Recovery System improves the odds for lost pets better than ever before.  For this day only, the cost of a standard microchip implant and the Advanced Pet Recovery System will be reduced to $40 (no limit on number of pets).  This will include the implanting of the chip, initiation fee, and first year member ship.  (Cats sometimes require sedation.  Sedation not included in the $40.)




Saddle Up for St. Judes:

May 12, 2007

Ride, Meal, Music, & Camping

All proceeds go to St. Judes Children’s Hospital

For more information, see the announcement at the bottom of the April bulletin.




Yard Sale Fundraiser for HELP fund.  Donate and shop!  Healing Springs HELP fund will hold its Second Annual HELP Fund Yard Sale Fund Raiser on Saturday, June 16, 2007.  Items may be donated at Healing Springs Animal Hospital during regular business hours (the most convenient hours around), or contact Jen Roberts to set up at the event.  All proceeds will help local animals receive emergent and other medical care during times of financial stress for families.

Coordinated by Jen Roberts

Work Phone (Healing Springs): (276) 236-5103

Home Phone: (276) 236-0904




Finding a Lost Pet – The Best System Ever Introduced


Text Box: One in Three Pets Gets Lost

94% of lost pets implanted with the HomeAgain microchip are reunited with their owners.

HomeAgain helps locate one pet every six minutes.
Healing Springs is the first, and currently the only, vet clinic in the area to participate in HomeAgain’s Advanced Pet Recovery System.  The Advanced Pet Recovery System enhances the well-known security of microchipping with a system of e-mail alerts to vets and shelters, online medical instructions to facilities that find your pet, pet recovery counselors, and more. 


Healing Springs can implant your pet with a microchip that is about the size of a grain of rice.  It’s a simple procedure that resembles a vaccination.  The chip contains a unique identification code that functions like a social security number or a vehicle identification number.  Animal shelters and others with scanning equipment can scan a found pet for the existence of the chip and retrieve the unique ID code.  They submit the code to the American Kennel Club’s Companion Animal Recovery database, and receive your contact information.  Unlike a dog tag, the chip cannot fall off, and someone who attempts to steal your pet cannot remove the chip.


With the new Advanced Pet Recovery System, you can notify HomeAgain that your pet is lost, and they will initiate a number of services designed to ensure your pet’s recovery. 

·        Within a 25-mile radius of where your pet was lost, they will e-mail shelters, veterinarians, and their network of volunteers to be on the lookout for your pet.  If a shelter or veterinarian has not been scanning all incoming pets, the e-mail reminder that a chipped pet in the area has been lost will increase the likelihood that scanning will occur when your pet arrives.  The e-mail will contain a description, photo of your pet, and your contact information, so even facilities that do not have the scanning equipment can contact you when a pet matching the description shows up.  Animal control officers on patrol and PetRescuer volunteers will be on the lookout for a pet matching the photo.

·        The Advanced Pet Recovery System also enables you to store online your pet’s relevant medical data and emergency medical instructions.  This data becomes accessible to facilities that have scanned your pet’s microchip.  In urgent situations, this may enable facilities that have found your pet to begin important health care.  If your pet has bitten someone, being able to immediately demonstrate that the pet is rabies vaccinated can save the pet’s life. 

·        The Advanced Pet Recovery System will give you on-call support from trained pet recovery counselors who will assist you until your pet is recovered. 

·        The Advanced Pet Recovery System will even design and send to you a “lost pet poster” complete with your pet’s photo.


For current pricing or to learn more about mircochipping and the Advanced Pet Recovery system available through Healing Springs, simply call during normal business hours (the most convenient hours around).



Order Pet ID Tags Online through Healing Springs


















You can sign-up to receive lost pet e-mails and be a PetRescuer volunteer with HomeAgain.


Equine Dental & Oral Health (full-size & mini-horses)


Even a gift horse should be looked in the mouth about once per year.  Equine dental and oral health is an often underestimated aspect of ensuring a horse’s long life and good health.  People sometimes wonder, “How could horses survive in the wild if they needed to have their teeth floated annually?”  The fact of the matter is that the conditions under which we keep our horses differ from the conditions for which horses were designed.  Horses eating moist, lush pasture must first tear the grass up with their front teeth.  Then, horses exhibit a greater range of motion in their jaws while they chew and grind moist grass.  This results in more even wear on the teeth.  Most horse owners need to include grain and hay in a horse’s diet.  Hay arrives pre-cut, so horses do not use their front teeth to cut it.  Horses use shorter chewing motions with dry hay and grain.  This change in chewing patterns actually promotes the uneven growth that causes dental problems.  Regardless of feed, even wild horses develop sharp points and poor contacts in their teeth that can affect their overall health.  Regular exams as part of an overall equine wellness program and dental floats as needed will go a long way toward protecting a horse’s overall health.


Hipsodant Teeth: Unlike human teeth, a horse’s teeth grow constantly.  Horses need constant teeth growth because the necessary grinding of food wears down the teeth.  The teeth can wear unevenly and result in sharp points, hooks, or malocclusions (mal = bad, occlusions = contact). 


Poor dental condition can result in a number of problems:

·        Bleeding in the mouth

·        Responding poorly to a bit:  Sharp points often form on the outside of the molars or pre-molars (cheek teeth).  Pulling back on the bit bunches cheek tissue against these points, and the cheek gets lacerated by the teeth.  The discomfort distracts a horse from its job.

·        Malnutrition:  Poor dental condition can prevent proper nourishment in a horse in two ways.  One, if the teeth are painful, horses may choose not to eat as much as they should.  Two, if horses cannot properly chew their food, they swallow pieces of food that are too big.  The digestive system cannot break down food that is not chewed well enough, and a lot of the nutritional opportunity is lost as the hay or grain passes through the digestive system.

·        Higher feed expense: More efficient utilization of feed decreases feed expense.

·        Poor demeanor, low energy, bad body condition: from consistent pain and/or malnutrition

·        Uncontrolled tooth decay, abscesses, and lost teeth

·        Systemic organ problems: This is theoretical in horses at this point, but it makes a lot of sense.  It is already well known that in humans, dogs, and cats, that tooth & gum disease spreads bacteria into the rest of the body and causes problems with vital organs.  While we are not aware of any research that has studied this directly in horses, it makes sense that serious bacterial growth in the mouth would spread through a horse’s body as well.


Signs that your horse may be suffering from dental problems:

·        Reluctant to eat: Pain from sharp teeth can dissuade horses from eating

·        Poor body condition despite access to enough food: see malnutrition above

·        Drops a lot of food when eating: “Quidding” is the term sometimes used to refer to when a horse drops more than it eats

·        Chews excessively on its bit

·        Difficult to bit

·        Tosses his head when under a bit

·        Bad breath

·        Bats its hay around: when horses cannot effectively use their teeth to bite and grind hay, they may bat it around to separate it and then swallow pieces whole.  As noted above, this results in malnutrition.


Floating the teeth: A veterinarian should examine your horse’s mouth at least annually, starting at birth.  Those enrolled in Healing Springs’ Equine Wellness Program will receive dental examinations every six months as part of the routine visit.  With your permission, the veterinarian will float the teeth as necessary.


“Float” is a term that refers to smoothing something out or a tool that’s used for smoothing.  Decades ago, dental procedures in horses focused primarily on removing points – “floating the teeth”.  While we often still use the phrase “float the teeth” to refer to an equine dental health visit, a float from Healing Springs is actually a modern, comprehensive exam and dental management procedure that will include an exam of all teeth, an exam of all soft tissues in the oral area, smoothing of teeth, correction of molar malocclusions, and correction of incisor malocclusions.


Our new power float: Healing Springs now uses a power float to make our veterinarians more efficient.  Despite the claims of some manufacturers and the claims of vets who have invested a few thousand dollars in power floats, the power float does not necessarily result in better dental corrections.  A patient and skilled veterinarian will perform excellent dental care with the right manual equipment.  A power float does, however, speed up the procedure.  With the ever growing popularity of Healing Springs’ large animal services and with four vet trucks on the road many days, equipment that makes our vets more efficient also makes them more available when you need them.  Having six veterinarians experienced in and dedicated to large animal medicine also makes Healing Springs a good choice for horse owners and farmers. 


Does Floating Hurt? Healing Springs often administers torbugesic for floating horses’ teeth.  Torbugesic sedates the horse and provides pain relief.  However, horses’ teeth are not as sensitive as human teeth.  Their nerves end close to the gum line.  Horses do not have nerves where the work on the tooth is being done.   


Start at age two or younger.  It is a myth that only older horses require attention to dental health.  Small problems that occur in younger horses such as hooks on the molars result in big problems in older horses such as deep transverse ridges, temporal mandibular joint disorder, and spaces between molars that result in periodontal disease and lost teeth. 


When to call:  Call Healing Springs Animal Hospital to enroll your horses in the Equine Wellness Program.  This will automatically cover your horse’s routine dental health without you having to remember it.  If your horses are not on the Equine Wellness Program, call annually to schedule routine oral exams starting at age two.    














The Vets of Healing Springs Recommend


Purina Gentle SnackersHypoAllergenic Canine Treats



Purina Dental Chews – a tasty dog treat that cleans teeth and freshens breath






Orvitrol Plus

Flea, tick, and bot spray for horses, cats, and dogs




















New mutant form of Equine Herpes Virus






















The Dangers of Off-Label Feeding

(Horses, Goats, Sheep, Cows)

Pet Food Recall Update



Text Box: Websites Naming Recalled Pet Food Brands
Menu Foods (nearly 100 brands covered here) (List Expanded on May 22)
Sunshine Mills (Old Roy and multiple other brands affected)
Del Monte Pet Products (Some Old Roy and multiple other brands)
Nestle Purina Pet Care Company (ALPO & Mighty Dog)
Royal Canin 
Doctors Foster & Smith 
Blue Buffalo  
Natural Balance Pet Foods 
Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc

Detailed Pet Food Updates (changes up to hourly)


The pet food recall has now expanded beyond Menu Foods to include hundreds of brands and various manufacturers.  The problem was originally linked to tainted batches of wheat gluten imported from China.  Later, the FDA announced that rice gluten, also imported from China, was tainted, too.  Healing Springs homepage service, Springboard, has constantly updated an easy list of pet food manufacturers who are recalling brands.


The wheat gluten problem has proved pervasive.  Despite Menu Foods’ assurances last April that they had nipped the problem in the bud, they have recalled multiple additional brands and lot numbers on multiple occasions over the past month.  Many people are taking the reasonable step of discontinuing use of any product containing wheat gluten until this situation is fully resolved.  This situation is not currently resolved.  Products containing wheat gluten are required to name it in the ingredients list.  The rice gluten problem has proved much more limited than the wheat gluten contamination. 


Science Diet has recalled one specific brand due to wheat gluten, Science Diet Savory Cuts.  No other Science Diet products contain wheat gluten (see company statement).  Science Diet was not affected by the rice gluten recalls.  While four Science Diet products do contain rice gluten, the company does not use the suppliers involved with the contaminated ingredients (see company statement).



While the suspected contaminant, melamine, should not have been in the imported ingredients, scientists are still not sure why melamine would have caused the pet deaths in question.  Melamine has been shown to be relatively non-toxic.  There have been no reported pet deaths in China that would correlate with the experience we are having here, and the New York Times recently reported that melamine has been added to Chinese animal feed for years. Some now theorize that a combination of melamine and cyanuric acid (a compound found in the urine and kidneys of affected pets) is working together to affect the kidneys in a way that is more toxic than melamine alone.  Of course, this is still just a theory.  While more than 4,000 unconfirmed cat and dog deaths have been blamed on pet food, the responsible toxin - if there even is one - has not been isolated and confirmed.


Regardless of whether melamine is responsible for pet deaths, the discovery of undisclosed melamine in protein sources may have uncovered a despicable fraud conducted against American and Canadian companies for years. When buying gluten, pet food manufacturers pay for its protein value, and when buying pet food, the cost of your brand is determined in part by the protein concentration.  Melamine resembles a protein, and in product testing will show up as a protein.  However, melamine is not a protein that the body can use and has no nutritional value whatsoever.  If Chinese producers deliberately laced their product with melamine, they could have artificially raised their prices.  The extent to which this would have affected the nutritional value of some pet foods (especially the very cheap pet foods already low in protein) has not received much comment yet.


What to do and what not to do:

1.     Know if anything you are feeding your pet contains wheat gluten.  Some people are recommending completely discontinuing the use of products containing wheat gluten until the situation is fully understood.

2.     Make Springboard your homepage to stay abreast of the breaking news.  Rice gluten was only implicated very recently, and rumors from other countries suggest that some corn gluten may have been contaminated.  More brands and more ingredients may be implicated as the investigation continues.

3.     Scan the list of recalled brands for brands that you use.  Springboard keeps a list and updates it as new announcements are made. 

4.     Do not begin feeding your pets foods from a human diet.  This may be more likely to cause health problems than randomly selecting a pet food.  Feeding foods from a human diet to pets has resulted in abnormal tooth decay, pancreatitis, and other pet health problems.

5.     The ASPCA recommends against feeding your pets a raw food diet.  If you are considering cooking your pets’ food, understand the time and resource commitment that needs to be made.  (If considering cooking all your pets’ food, please review this article from the ASPCA.)


The Vets of Healing Springs Recommend Science Diet.

Buy Science Diet directly from Healing Springs Online














Dentees Stars

Dental Treats with unique properties to neutralize stomach odors


Iron Mountain Trail Riders Club – New Website


Iron Mountain Trail Riders Inc. is a volunteer organization that brings trail riders and other trail users together for fun and the good of trails. The IMTR partners with the Forest Service and Land Owners to keep trails open and safe.  The Iron Mountain Trail Riders work on and ride the trails of the Virginia Highlands area of the Jefferson National Forest and Mount Rogers National Recreational Area stretching from Fries to Damascus. Focusing on the Iron Mountain Trail, the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail and their connectors, the Iron Mountain Trail Riders organize workdays throughout the year to clean trails and fix problem areas. Members also meet for recreational riding and networking with other trail organizations.


Upcoming Events    Photos    Contacts










The Animal Health Bulletin is a FREE service of

Healing Springs Animal Hospital

(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


Visit our website at







Request an article topic. Click Here.

To ask questions about a specific pet, call Healing Springs at (276) 236-5103.


You have permission to forward this bulletin in its entirety to a friend.

If you did not receive the Animal Health Bulletin directly and would like to begin receiving them, simply enter your information for a free subscription:

Click here to subscribe.



Click here to subscribe, update your e-mail preferences or unsubscribe.


The Animal Health Bulletin is developed and distributed with the assistance of

Brazzell Marketing Agency specializing in healthcare marketing.



© BMA 2007