Lucerne Veterinary Hospital Blog

Canine Influenza: An Update

canine influenza

Two years ago, a novel strain of the canine influenza virus alarmed the boarding facilities and animal shelters of Chicago by its rapid spread through the canine community. Veterinary hospitals saw increased numbers of dogs with high fevers, coughing, and sneezing. 1500 dogs became ill within 2 months, with 8 fatalities from pneumonia. Since the 2015 Chicago outbreak, there have been a few small outbreaks and a smattering of cases in several states.  As of last month however, there is a new outbreak happening in eight states in the southeastern US, which seemingly stemmed from a dog show in Florida.


posted in:  Pet Health

Memorial Day Pet Safety Tips

memorial day

Sizzling hamburgers on the grill, piles of golden corn-on-the-cobs glistening with butter, and the clamor of children splashing in the pool under the warm glow of the sun. Memorial Day is the time we commemorate our fallen servicemembers, but it is also a great occasion to gather with friends and family and spend some time outdoors. Festive situations like these, however, are not always the safest of times for pets. Avoid these potential dangers to keep your pets safe during this Memorial Day holiday.


A Relaxed Cat is a Happy Cat! Reducing Your Cat’s Stress for Vet Visits


Cats are excellent predators, but they are also prey for many species in nature, so they tend to hide signs of illness until they are no longer able to. This means you may not be able to tell when your cat is becoming unhealthy, and is why a yearly exam (or twice-yearly, for older cats) is so important to his or her well-being. In addition, regular vaccines and dewormings are important for cats, who may be exposed to infectious diseases and parasites, some of which can be transmitted to humans.

Vet Visits

We all know it can be stressful to get a cat to the veterinarian’s office — SO stressful in fact that we (consciously or subconsciously) avoid doing it. We’re here to tell you we understand, and want to work with you to help make annual exams much easier on both of you. Continue reading for tips on how to decrease the stress associated with a vet visit for both you and your cat.


Holiday Hazards: Keep your pet safe this festive winter season

holiday hazards

Red and green lights twinkle on evergreen branches, gently intertwined with shimmering silver tinsel. The aroma of chocolate chip and gingerbread cookies wafts lazily through homes bustling with excited children. The holiday season is replete with colorful decorations and delicious foods, but it is important to remember that this time of year can present special hazards for pets. Follow these tips so you can enjoy the holiday at home with your loved ones instead of at the emergency room.


My Dog Ate My Stash: Marijuana Toxicity Revisited


Glassy-eyed, stumbling, and afflicted with a sudden case of the munchies: while this may describe your neighbor’s teenage son, this is also becoming an increasingly accurate description of the family Golden Retriever. With the recently-approved referendum to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in the state of Maine, we may soon see a sharp rise in the incidence of marijuana toxicity. In states which have previously legalized marijuana, the number of accidental exposures by pets has greatly increased. In light of the increased availability of these potentially mind-altering drugs, we will revisit a previous blog post discussing what you need to know about the effects of marijuana in pets.


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posted in:  Pet Emergencies  |  Pet Health  |  Toxins

Porcupine Quills: Myths and Facts

porcupine quills

You have just changed into your pajamas, and yawning, you open the door to let Ruby in after she has finished her eliminations for the night. You are horrified to discover, however, that your once sleek pointer is now sporting a new beard made of black and white spines. What should you do next?

As long as porcupines and dogs have been roaming this continent together, there have been many old wive’s tales surrounding quills. Test your quill knowledge and determine which of the following are true, and which are myths.


posted in:  Pet Emergencies  |  Pet Health

Saving a Life through Blood Donation

Illustration of dogs blood donation flat design concept with icons elements

Buddy is just another happy-go-lucky chocolate Labrador until one day he collapses on a hike. He is rushed to the hospital where a bleeding tumor on his spleen is discovered. Midnight is a tiny stray kitten who is very weak from blood loss due to a heavy flea burden. Duke is a young beagle who has just been struck by a car chasing a squirrel across the street.

What do all of these patients have in common?

They all have had their lives saved by blood donors.

Blood donation is a safe and universal procedure performed worldwide to save the lives of sick and injured pets. We are currently looking for a small number of dogs and cats from the community to join our blood donor program. Read on to see if your pet meets the qualifications to save a life. Continue…

A Stylish Post-Op Look: The Elizabethan Collar

Elizabethan collar


It is large, cumbersome, creates bruises on the backs of your legs, and is affectionately known as the “cone of shame”. Despite its ungainliness, the Elizabethan collar is a vital part of your pet’s recovery after major surgery. Although owners may sometimes find the cones distressing, remember that the majority of pets tolerate these very well.

The classic E-collar (short for Elizabethan collar) is a firm clear plastic collar in the shape of a lampshade that is attached around the neck to prevent a pet from accessing an incision or wound. An E-collar may be threaded through a pet’s normal collar or it may be fastened on with a separate tie. The tie should be tight enough that it will not slip off, but you should be able to fit at least two fingers between the tie and the neck. Some patients excel at removing their collars, but there are various styles of collars available to help prevent your dog or cat from bothering his incision.  Some are inflatable, and others are made of a soft material.

Why is the Elizabethan collar important?

Contrary to popular myth, saliva is not beneficial for wounds. It can introduce infection, which inhibits healing or creates abscesses. A surgical incision should remain clean and dry to prevent infection and for proper healing. If pets remove their sutures too early, wounds can break down and fail to heal in a timely manner. The consequences of a pet’s ministrations can be severe, requiring additional surgical procedures to repair damage. For example, if your pet chews at her abdominal incision, she may remove all the sutures and chew through the body wall. This can cause the internal organs to fall through.

Not all surgeries require the use of an Elizabethan collar, depending on the pet, but there are some procedures for which E-collars are especially critical. These include orthopedic surgeries, in which hardware has been placed on the bone. In these cases, infection of the bone can necessitate removal of the plate. E-collars are also useful for ophthalmic surgeries, in which even a single paw swipe of the eye can cause serious damage. Some pets will chew any incision, and these pets should wear E-collars at all times while they heal. For incisions that are on the torso, T-shirts can sometimes work well to protect the incision.

How will my pet eat and sleep wearing her cone?

After a short adjustment period, most pets handle their E-collars very well. Pets can usually eat, drink, and sleep with no trouble while wearing their cones. To facilitate eating for your pet, make sure the bowl is smaller than the diameter of the collar. You may need to raise the dish if the collar is bumping against the floor as your pet reaches for the food bowl. Some pets may need assistance at first in navigating stairs. Be wary if you decide to remove an E-collar even for a short period of time. It takes only a few minutes for a pet to completely destroy an incision!

So make sure you keep that E-collar on as directed by your veterinarian until those sutures are out (usually 10-14 days) to prevent painful and costly complications.

Dental disease- More than just bad breath

dental dog

By three years of age, most dogs and cats have already started to show signs of an insidious disease, which left untreated, causes infection and pain, as well as cellular changes in organs throughout the body. This very common illness is known as periodontal disease. Not only is dental disease painful, but it can also have systemic consequences. Studies have shown that periodontal disease can adversely affect the heart, kidneys, and lungs.

By maintaining good oral hygiene at home and ensuring that your pet undergoes professional dental care as recommended by your veterinarian, you can help prevent dental disease in your pet.


Rodenticides: Deadly Not Just to Rats


Scruffy, a rambunctious two-year-old terrier, was at his summer cabin when he found a special treat under the cabinet—a tray of delicious green pellets. His family found the evidence later that evening, and monitored him over the next few days for any signs of illness. His stool was green for a day or two, but otherwise he seemed fine, and his owners breathed a sigh of relief. The following week, however, it was evident that something was seriously wrong. Scruffy started throwing up blood, developing dark diarrhea, and had difficulty breathing. At this point, he was rushed to the animal hospital, where tests showed severe clotting abnormalities. Fortunately, after several days of intensive care, Scruffy was eventually discharged.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence, and not all patients are so lucky. This story highlights the need to address rodenticide exposures as early as possible. There are several types of rat poisons on the market, and some may have delayed effects. It is vital to call your veterinarian as soon as possible so that decontamination and treatment measures can be initiated and the toxicity mitigated.


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