Hot Topics in Veterinary Medicine

By Kathryn Allen, DVM

“A lot is happening in veterinary medicine these days, not just in matters pertaining to summer, but in the world of preventative medicine as well. This information will touch on a few of the issues. Please feel free to ask me questions.”
– Kathryn Allen, DVM

Dr. Allen has worked as a veterinary consultant for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and is the owner of Indian Bend Animal Clinic, located at 3923 E. Thunderbird Rd # 123, phone 602-867-2992. Her services include full veterinarian care. She works closely with a number of rescue organizations helping them provide quality care, including the Maricopa County Sheriffs department.

The Obvious:

  • Never leave your dog in a car
  • The asphalt is too hot for your dog’s paws between approx. 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Not sure if it’s too hot?? Take off your shoes and decide for yourself!
  • Dogs left outside must have lots of water and shade. A doghouse is NOT shade, it’s a hot box!

The Not So Obvious:

  • Pools are a hazard even for dogs that can swim. A dog will naturally swim to the closest edge (often the deep end) and try and get out from there. A dog does not naturally know to explore the perimeter for an easier exit, he needs to be taught the easiest way out.
  • A panting dog isn’t necessarily thirsty. Dogs pant for three reasons: they’re hot, they’re nervous, or they are in pain. A hot dog isn’t always thirsty, and a thirsty dog isn’t always hot.
  • Some dogs willingly run themselves to a point of heat stroke, and it doesn’t have to be that hot. The worst case of heat stroke I’ve ever seen took place when the temperature was in the mid-eighties. The dog died.

Some New Stuff

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes and therefore has never been a big concern in Arizona. But as is the case with West Nile Virus, the story is changing.

  • We now know there are more than 500 cases of heartworm disease in Maricopa county each year.
  • Heartgard is SAFE to use in a heartworm positive dog.
  • The drug, Ivermectin, does not stay in the bloodstream for the entire month. It acts retroactively, killing the early stages of heartworm once a month before the worms are able to develop.
  • Arizona dogs that are on Heartgard year-round do not need to be tested for heartworm disease in addition to being on the preventative.
  • 500 is still a small number for all of Maricopa county, and odds are, if you do nothing, your dog will not contract heartworm disease, but you should know that there is a safe and effective way of preventing the disease.



The story on vaccinations has changed dramatically. The American Animal Hospital Association has come out with a new set of guidelines for vaccinating dogs. Ultimately, it is up to your veterinarian to decide how best to vaccinate your dog, but it doesn’t hurt to know what the most recent research tells us:

  • The most significant change is that once a puppy has had his puppy shots and yearly booster, the Distemper/Parvo vaccine only needs to be boosted every 3 years.
  • Also, the Bordetella vaccine is actually only good for approximately 8 months and should only be boosted with the injectable form, not the intra-nasal form that is originally given.

Hints on How to Keep Your Dog Cool!

  • Freeze water bottles and give them to your dog as a chew toy.
  • Get a baby pool and keep it cool by putting frozen gallon jugs in the pool. Remember to change the water daily to prevent mosquito larvae.
  • Buy booties for your dog’s paws to protect them from the hot asphalt.
  • Walk your dog in the early morning or late evening. Don’t forget some kind of a reflector or light on your dog to make him more visible in the dark.
  • Try frozen peas as a treat…dogs love them!
  • Take your dog inside with you…you’d be surprised how many businesses allow dogs. (I recently took my dogs into Fry’s Electronics without a problem).



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