Canine Influenza


Image result for dog flu image


Summer vacation is in full swing and many people are headed out of town to relax.  During your summer fun, Greenbriar is happy to see your furry family member(s) for a stay in our luxury pet resort.  We pride ourselves in keeping up on the latest medical and technological advances to keep your pet(s) safe and comfortable.

One of our recent concerns involves canine influenza, a highly contagious respiratory infection that can be fatal to both dogs and cats (the H3N2 strain).  There are two versions: H3N8, first noted in 2004, and H3N2, first noted in 2015.  Both strains are spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions (such as sneezing, coughing, or barking) or contact with contaminated items (such as grooming tools, surfaces, hands, and clothing).  Nearly 80% of unvaccinated dogs that are exposed to the virus will show symptoms.  These symptoms may be mild, involving a cough for 10 to 30 days, a mild fever, decreased appetite, and lethargy.  Pets may also have slight to thick nasal discharge.  The more severe form involves a higher fever with possible pneumonia and respiratory distress.

Canine influenza is of special concern to Greenbriar because of our large boarding facility and day care program.  We continue to practice high quality sanitation procedures to avoid disease transmission between our guests and currently require the H3N8 vaccination.  We will be offering the combination H3N8 and H3N2 vaccination to protect against both strains in the near future.  The vaccination should be administered at least 2 weeks prior to the boarding stay or day camp for full protection.

Please partner with us to keep your pet(s) safe from canine influenza. Call today to schedule an appointment for vaccination!

Contributed by Dr. Melinda Spaar


Rehabilitation – Core Strengthening

The overall well being of an animal has its foundation in general fitness and conditioning.  Their “core” muscles which include the abdominal, the epaxials, and the intracostals, all lend themselves to provide stability, strength, and also protect both the spine and all internal organs.  Without these “core” muscles, movement, of any kind, would be compromised or impossible.  The control balance, spinal mobility, and aid in general locomotion.

Core exercises are geared to improve functional strength, flexibility, symmetry, and endurance.  It will markedly improve your dog’s physical abilities.

There are several types of exercises that focus on the core. See some examples in the pictures.


Challenged stands, rhythmic stabilization, water walking, and swimming as well as side or abdominal crunches, cookie stretches, decline stand planks, sit up and beg, or dancing all target the core.

A strong core is the first goal after any spinal surgery.  Without their core, a patient will be unable to stand, balance, or mobilize.  Orthopedic patients will compensate onto their other limbs which will put the body out of balance, add stress to their spine causing soreness, muscle pain, and longer recovery times.

A strong core is the basis of a healthy life style, to prevent injury, for general well being, and an overall happy dog.  Whether through rehab, focused play, or an actual exercise regiment, a strong healthy core is one of the most important things you can help your pup achieve.

Contributed by Mike Rieskamp, RVT, CCRP

Welcome to Greenbriar’s Rehab Patient Portal!

In the menu to the left, we have a link to a brand new blog specifically about our rehab department.
Here we will be making weekly posts about our growing rehab department and the wonderful patients we see. The posts will range from information on our specific programs, to patient profiles, to information on beneficial supplements, new research, and more!
If you have a specific question regarding our program or any of the information you see here, please don’t hesitate to call us and learn more about it today!
We are so excited about our rehab department and are hoping to share as much as we can with our entire Greenbriar family!

Lyme Disease…

Ticks! Ugh! Those little blood suckers give me the heebie jeebies. Not only do I have to worry about my dogs getting them, but I have to worry about my kids, and even me getting them. The worst: Lyme disease. According to the CDC, over 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. Each year! Holy cow, that is a lot. In dogs, I am pretty sure it is even higher. The problem with dogs is so many are exposed but so few show symptoms.

 Is my dog at risk? I mean, I only walk it on the side-walk and she only goes in my backyard which is well cared for?  In short, YES. All dogs who come in contact with grass in this area are at risk. I have seen all the scenarios and I have seen them come up positive for Lyme disease. Your dog is not safe from those little blood suckers. Now you know why I hate them! They are everywhere!

I can see ticks on myself, what about my dog?  The small Ixodes (‘deer tick”) tick can sometimes be only the size of a pin head and can be close to impossible to detect.


How can I prevent Lyme disease in my dog? There are several ways we can try to prevent the ticks from spreading Lyme disease. The first, kill the suckers! There are several tick preventatives that can be applied monthly that kill these ticks. Our practice leans towards Frontline. It is a product that has been leaned on for several years and still does a good job killing ticks in 24-28 hours. The makers of Frontline, Merial, have even come out with a new product that is ORAL, yes ORAL. Woohoo! Nexgard is an oral chew which can be given once a month. Although it is currently labeled only to kill the American Dog tick, I bet it is in the works to be approved for the Ixodes tick as well. I do not know about most owners, but for me, I have been waiting for an oral preventative. The topical is a great product, but with little kids, I have to find the right time to apply the product so my dog hugging children do not get it all over them. The second thing we can do to protect our pets that is not available for humans anymore, is vaccinate. The yearly vaccine is safe and can help prevent your dog from contracting Lyme disease.

How do I know if my dog has Lyme disease? Most veterinarians recommend yearly testing despite monthly preventatives and yearly vaccines. Lyme disease is everywhere around here so we would like to know if your dog is at risk for developing signs and symptoms.

Well, since you brought it up, what are the signs and symptoms? For people, the most common symptoms are flu-like.  Not for our furry friends. Dogs exhibit symptoms which are more arthritis-like. If you see your dog struggling to get up one day or limping with no known injury, contact your vet.

My dog has Lyme disease! How do I treat it?  Luckily, Lyme disease in dogs responds very well to doxycycline or minocycline. They do need it for a 30 day course, but it is worth it to see them feel much better.

Lyme disease is a difficult disease because it is very little understood. Experts are still doing studies to determine a solid protocol for dogs and Lyme disease.  Even with the antibiotic, the Lyme disease can linger and even though the dog has antibodies to Lyme disease, it does not necessarily protect them from getting it again.

Karen R Pearson, DVM

Static and Dry Skin, Welcome to Winter

This time of year we love to cuddle under our blankets by the fire or just keep our heat turned up to a comfy temperature. I don’t know about you, but all these comforts come at a cost. My skin cracks, my socks stick to my sweaters out of the dryer, and my hair just sticks straight up from static. We need moisture!

This is also true for our pets. Their skin gets just as dry but applying lotion to their entire body is just not practical. My solution, fish oil supplements.  Not just any fish oil, Omega 3 fatty acids. This fatty acid supplement can help to improve skin health as well as a healthy coat. This helps to hydrate the skin and help condition the skin from the inside.

Omega three fatty acids are not only good for skin, but they are good for joint health, heart health, kidney health, brain health and helps support the immune system. Something we ALL can use, not just our dogs and cats.

Good news! This month, Welactin (Omega 3s) in capsules and liquid are 10% off.

All Omega 3 supplements are not created equal just as human multivitamins are not created equal. Welactin is from Nutramaxx, a company we trust and we have seen great results from this brand.

So give your pet the gift of comfort this winter.




Osteoarthritis, also known as OA, degenerative joint disease (DJD) or simply arthritis, is a degenerative condition affecting the cartilage surfaces that line the ends of the bones as they articulate in the joints of the body.  Predisposing factors for the development of OA in dogs are orthopedic conditions of growing dogs known as OCD (osteochiondritis dissecans) and forms of dysplasia, trauma (such as fractures, especially those involving the joints), conformational abnormalities (such as angular limb deformities or as in chondrodystrophic breeds, like Dachshunds), or simply being of a large or giant breed of dog.  

OCD is a condition where the cartilage model we all start off as does not progress properly when turning into bones; it is a failure of the process known as endochondral ossification.  Dysplasia means “abnormal growth or development of”, and in dogs we commonly see dysplasia of both elbows and hips.  When joints develop abnormally, this leads to abnormal motion within the joints, causing abnormal wear of the cartilage surfaces lining the joints.  Abnormal wear of cartilage surfaces is the defining event that gives one OA for the rest of their life.  Similarly, trauma and conformational (shape) abnormalities in some dogs leads to abnormal joint motion and, therefore, OA development.  It is believed the excess weight and muscular forces applied across their joints causes excessive wear and tear and leads to more frequent diagnoses of OA than in smaller, lighter breeds.  

OA is, by definition, a progressive condition, which means it ALWAYS gets worse with time.  No one in veterinary or human orthopedics can completely stop OA’s progression, nor can they effectively reverse the changes that are present.  This is why it is so important to do what we can for our pets in limiting the rate at which their OA progresses.  With the right mixture of weight management, exercise modification, pharmaceutical & nutraceutical (nutritional supplement) therapies, we can greatly abate the rate at which OA progresses in our furry loved ones.  Overweight dogs, similar to large & giant breeds, put excessive amounts of weight across the joints and can exacerbate the progression of OA.  Exercise in patients with OA has to be altered to limit explosive activities, avoid concussive forces across the affected joints (eg, dogs with hind limb OA should not perform vertical jumping, as with catching Frisbees or jumping up for a treat held above the dog’s head), and to strive for more frequent, shorter bouts of exercise as opposed to fewer, longer bouts.  Medicinally, two main modes of therapy are available: the first is NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) therapy, such as Rimadyl or Deramaxx (these are similar to aspirin-like drugs but are much safer to administer to dogs) and the second is injections of hyaluronic acid in a product called Adequan (typical course is 2 injections per week over 4 weeks; clients are often taught how to administer the subcutaneous, or under the skin, injections by our medical staff at Greenbriar & perform the final 7 injections at home for cost-effectiveness).  Probably the most important component of conservative medical management for OA in dogs is nutraceutical therapy.  Because these are not food and they are not pharmaceuticals, DEA & FDA regulation is extremely limited and many manufacturers of these products have little to none of the important ingredients in their formulations.  This is why at Greenbriar Veterinary Hospital we ONLY carry Nutramax brand nutraceuticals.  Nutramax makes veterinary as well as human nutraceuticals and they have independent laboratory analysis guaranteeing 100% of what is on their labels is in their products.  For OA management, the two Nutramax brand nutraceuticals I very highly recommend are Welactin and Dasuquin.  Welactin is their brand of fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids.  Not only do these substances afford excellent chondroprotection (protects joint cartilage from the damaging effects of OA), but they also prevent allergies in about two-thirds of patients, minimize the risk for certain types of cancer, boost immune system function, help to prevent many types of dermatopathies, give dogs a glossy hair coat & usually increase the palatability of food.  Dasuquin is a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and soy & avocado extracts that has four protective effects for joints.  First, the former two ingredients are the constituents of joint cartilage so they help to bathe the cartilage in the substances it needs to repair itself.  Second, they help to minimize cartilage degradation that place within the joint.  Third, they have mild anti-inflammatory activity.  And, fourth, they have powerful oxygen free-radical scavenging, or anti-oxidant, properties.  And these two products are synergistic when combined and given together- in other words, 2 + 2 = 10, not 4 (you get a greater combined effect than you would if you added up the effects of either given alone).  So if your older pet is seeming a bit slow or stiff upon rising or after sleep, he or she may have OA and their quality of life may be greatly enhanced by having one of our doctors at Greenbriar examine them & possibly prescribe the aforementioned therapies.  

Contributed by Hooman Pooya, DVM, Chief of Surgery

Does this haircoat make me look fat?


The holiday season is upon us.

I know. I know. It is only September. But as our retail friends tell us, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even

Christmas are happening soon. Starbucks has hooked many of us again this year with the pumpkin spice

latte and my house is flooded with apple cider, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pretzels, pumpkin

cupcakes, and so on. As I gear up for another season of warm, figure-forgiving sweaters and eating until

I drop, I think about my patients that also have expanding waist lines.

Many of us think of overweight pets as cute, pudgy, pleasantly plump, or big-boned. Social media is full

of pictures and memes of these pets and we think nothing of it. The truth, however, is that our pets can

suffer many of the same weight-related illnesses that we find commonly in human medicine. These

illnesses include: Generalized Inflammation and Painful Joints, Diabetes (high blood sugar), High Blood

Pressure, Heart and Lung Disease, Knee Injury, Kidney Disease, and Cancer. Increased weight has also

been noted to decrease pet life expectancy by up to 2.5 years (~15-30% of a pet’s lifespan).

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in a 2014 study, approximately 57.9% of cats

and 52.7% of dogs are overweight or obese. That means that if you have two pets, one will most likely

be considered overweight. In addition to these startling findings, the study also found a gap between a

pet’s actual body condition and the owner’s perception of the pet’s weight. Ninety percent of cat

owners and 95% of dog owners felt that their pets were normal weight, when they were clinically

overweight. There is also an increasing amount of pets in the obese category (greater than 30% of ideal

body weight). For comparison, that would be an adult human whose ideal weight is 150 pounds,

weighing over 195 pounds. That’s an extra 45 pounds!

We, as veterinarians, sometimes have difficulty talking to our clients about weight and weight-related

issues due to a number of reasons; most commonly, for me at least, is the fact that I don’t want to

offend my clients. I know that my clients bring their pets to me, because they care about the health and

well-being of their furry family members. My clients don’t try to cause pain or discomfort to their

beloved pets. So I often find it difficult to balance the realization that there is a health problem and the

sensitive communication needed to express the necessity for change.

Two main scenarios prevail as road-blocks to healthy weight communication: client behavior and client

health. First, many people feed their pets out of love and attention, which makes me the bearer of bad

news; threatening to break that bond. I need to work closely with my clients to give healthier options to

maintain the relationship. Second, weight is a delicate issue, in general, when, according to JAMA

Internal Medicine, two-thirds of Americans are now considered overweight or obese.

The bottom line is this. We can do better. I, as your veterinarian, can communicate your pet’s

nutritional needs and work closely on a plan to get your pet to a healthy and happy weight. You, as a

pet owner, can ask about nutrition. You can also be proactive about increasing exercise; either at home

or at our facility, via walks, play-times, and under water treadmill sessions. You can follow the

nutritional plan devised by your veterinarian closely; remembering that we are working together to give

your pet increased energy, mobility, and an overall, longer and happier life.

October 7 is National Pet Obesity Prevention Day. Please watch for our October specials, including

weight loss programs and promotions and call for an appointment to discuss your pet’s nutrition.

I hope you enjoy your holiday season and I’ll raise my sugar-free vanilla skim latte to you and your pet’s


Dr. Spaar

To learn more, please visit the following sites:

“Inflammation is the new obesity”

Pet weight statistics and weight loss tools

Hill’s Metabolic Diet (our preferred weight-loss diet)

My Dog is Coughing and Sneezing! What could be happening?

I do not know about you, but I really suffer from allergies in the Fall. Ragweed, pollen mold… My kids just started coughing and sneezing this week. This started me thinking about similar symptoms in our pets.

First, I want to discuss the normal respiratory system in dogs to help everyone get a clearer understanding of what is happening when coughing and sneezing occurs.

The respiratory system has a lot of defense mechanisms in place to protect the airway. Think of all the bacteria and debris we inhale in a day. Our airways have to be strong to prevent those inhalants from making us sick. One of the unique defense mechanisms we have is the mucociliary escalator. This system, depicted in the diagram below (from helps to move all the bacteria and debris back up to the throat area where they can be swallowed or coughed out.


When this system is disrupted, infections occur. This system can be compromised by stress, allergies, and cigarette smoke exposure, to list a few.

Why is my dog coughing and sneezing?


Yes, that’s right, our pooches can have the same symptoms we do in allergy season(sneezing, coughing, eyes watering, itchy skin, itchy nose, etc…). Pets inhale the pollens and molds, which irritates the lining of the nasal passages and/or the throat, causing them to cough and sneeze. Coughing and sneezing can further inflammation, leading to more coughing and sneezing(rhinitis/sinusitis).

Upper Respiratory Infection

An upper respiratory infection is a viral, bacterial or fungal infection of the nasal passages, larynx, and trachea(windpipe).  Sometimes an upper respiratory infection looks identical to allergies. Other times, especially when bacteria are involved, there may be a thick or colored(usually white, yellow or green) nasal discharge. Upper respiratory infections can be passed between dogs, but most of the time upper respiratory infections occur when the mucociliary escalator has been disrupted.  As mentioned above, this can be due to things such as stress or even allergies.  Just like colds in a child’s daycare, these infections can spread between dogs quickly especially when they are kept in close quarters, playing with others at a dog park, or even playing with others in a back yard. Since a viral infection can look identical to allergies, these situations can be difficult to prevent. Luckily, most upper respiratory infections can be easily treated or can go away on their own.

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If your dog is suffering from coughing and sneezing, please call us to schedule an appointment. We can help make your pet more comfortable and reduce allergy or respiratory infection symptoms.


Karen R Pearson, DVM

A Look at the Inside of Our Pets

“Ms. Smith, this is your doctor’s office calling with your lab results.  Good news, everything is normal.”

These are the type of messages we like to hear.  When we go to our doctor’s for our yearly physical, we usually have blood work associated with that visit.  We may be following a known problem, monitoring a medication or just routine screening.  This is called the “Standard of Care” in medicine.  This is something we come to expect.  It is no different in veterinary medicine.anatomy

Our standard of care screening begins when our pets are young.  We as pet parents usually do not realize it is being done because we include it as part of of the spay/neuter protocol.  We do a pre-surgical blood screen before we even work up the patient’s anesthetic protocol.  We do very basic blood work that allows us to evaluate organ and bone marrow function.  The CBC, or complete blood count, lets us know if there is an active infection or inflammatory process going on.  It also lets us know if the patient is anemic the day of the surgery.  The pre-op chemistry looks at several liver and kidney tests as well as a blood glucose(sugar).  We do this because the drugs used to sedate the patients are metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidneys.  If there is an elevation in these values, the veterinarian will take measures to either change the anesthetic protocol or if severe, postpone the surgery and address the problem.

As we see the patients on a year-to-year basis for their annual exam, we recommend this basic screen as well.


1.  Things change .  We all have seen the aging charts that equate the fact that our pet age at a much faster rate than we do.

2.  Our patients can’t talk and tell us how they are feeling.

When the veterinarian does a physical, they are looking at a brief snapshot in time.  Yes, they can tell a lot from looking in the eyes and ears, listening to the hear and lungs and palpating the abdomen, but that only tells us part of the story. We need to know what is going on inside.  We are so used to doing blood work when there is a problem, but what if we can forecast a problem or follow a trend in blood work to help us prevent rather than treat a disease? This is the perfect time to continue this Standard of Care and screen blood work on a yearly basis.

For example, by the time kidney values are elevated(abnormal), 75% of the kidney function is lost.  This leaves us to treat the disease when, if we followed trends throughout the life of the patient, we could help the veterinarian take measures to control the disease in the early stages.

And yes, kidney and liver disease can happen in young animals. Many times we find concerns on the prop screening at the time of the spay or neuter.  If we ignore the next 10 years because your pet looks good, we would be doing you and our patient a disservice.

Our senior pets face the same concerns we as human seniors face.  That is why our Senior screenings go deeper in looking at internal organ function.  We go further and evaluate more liver and kidney tests as well as screen their thyroid, electrolytes and a complete urinalysis.  Again, if we can control a disease early on instead of managing a severe form of the disease, we give our patients a chance at a better quality of life.

Doing a physical exam only gives us part of the information about your pet. A thorough history about how your pet has done over the past year as well as annual blood screening can go far in helping us keep our non-talking family members healthy.


Contributed by Margaret Stafford, RVT