What Is Canine Influenza Virus?


There are many causes of kennel cough, both bacterial and viral. Canine influenza virus (CIV) is one of the viral causes of kennel cough. This highly contagious respiratory disease has affected thousands of dogs in the United States. Because CIV is a relatively new virus, most dogs have not been exposed to it before. Dogs of any age, breed, and vaccine status are susceptible to this infection.

How Could My Dog Catch Canine Influenza Virus?
CIV is easily transmitted between dogs through a combination of aerosols, droplets, and direct contact with respiratory secretions. The virus does not survive for a long time in the environment, so dogs usually get CIV when they are in close proximity to other infectious dogs.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Canine Influenza Virus? 
Any dog who interacts with large numbers of dogs is at increased risk for exposure. Pet owners should consult their veterinarian for information about the canine influenza vaccine.

What Are the General Signs of Canine Influenza Virus? 
While most dogs will show typical signs of kennel cough, but a small percentage of dogs will develop a more severe illness. Signs of canine influenza virus include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Variable fever
  • Clear nasal discharge that progresses to thick, yellowish-green mucus
  • Rapid/difficult breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Can Dogs Die From Canine Influenza Virus?
If CIV is quickly diagnosed and treated, the fatality rate is quite low. Deaths are usually caused by secondary complications, such as pneumonia. It is important that dogs with CIV receive proper veterinary care.

How Is Canine Influenza Virus Diagnosed?
Veterinarians will typically conduct a thorough physical examination and run a series of tests to diagnose the illness.

How Is Canine Influenza Treated?
Because CIV is a virus similar to the flu in humans, there is no specific antiviral medication available. However, supportive care and appropriate treatment of secondary infections are important. Your veterinarian may advise the following to soothe your dog while the condition runs its course:

  • Good nutrition and supplements to raise immunity
  • A warm, quiet, and comfortable spot to rest
  • Medications to treat secondary bacterial infections
  • Intravenous fluids to maintain hydration
  • Workup and treatment for pneumonia

Be advised, while most dogs will fight the infection within 10 to 30 days, secondary infections require antibiotics and, in the case of pneumonia, sometimes even hospitalization.

What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Has Canine Influenza Virus? 
If you think your dog has canine influenza virus, immediately isolate him or her from all other dogs and call your veterinarian.

Can I Catch Canine Influenza From My Dog?
So far there has been no evidence to indicate that dogs can transmit CIV to humans.

How Can I Help Prevent My Dog From Spreading the Disease? 
Any dog infected with CIV should be kept isolated from other dogs for 10 to 14 days from the onset of signs. Dogs are most infectious before signs are apparent, and can continue shedding the virus for approximately 10 days. This means that by the time signs of the illness are seen, other dogs may have already been exposed.

Source: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/canine-influenza-viruscanine-flu

Easter Pet Poisons


The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline receive hundreds of calls this time of year from pet owners and veterinarians concerning cats that have ingested Easter lilies.

“Unbeknownst to many pet owners, Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure.”

In most situations, symptoms of poisoning will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures.

“There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” said Brutlag. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.”

Treatment includes inducing vomiting, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing. The prognosis and the cost – both financially and physically – to the pet owner and cat, are best when treated immediately.

There are several other types of lilies that are toxic to cats as well. They are of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species and commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. Popular in many gardens and yards, they can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are commonly found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household. Other types of lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies – are usually not a problem for cats and may cause only minor drooling.

Thankfully, lily poisoning does not occur in dogs or people. However, if a large amount is ingested, it can result in mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Other Dangers to Pets at Easter Time

Pet Poison Helpline also receives calls concerning pets that have ingested Easter grass and chocolate.

Usually green or yellow in color, Easter grass is the fake grass that often accompanies Easter baskets. When your cat or dog ingests something “stringy” like Easter grass, it can become anchored around the base of the tongue or stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. It can result in a linear foreign body and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract, often requiring expensive abdominal surgery.

Lastly, during the week of Easter, calls to Pet Poison Helpline concerning dogs that have been poisoned by chocolate increase by nearly 200 percent. While the occasional chocolate chip in one cookie may not be an issue, certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The chemical toxicity is due to methylxanthines (a relative of caffeine) and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. Other sources include chewable chocolate flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. If you suspect that your dog ate chocolate, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Spring is in the air and Easter is a wonderful holiday. Remember that your pets will be curious about new items you bring into your household like Easter lilies, Easter grass and chocolate. Keep them a safe distance away from your pets’ reach and enjoy the holiday and the season.


SOURCE: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/seasons/easter/

The Importance of Pet Dental Care

Pet Dental Care in Amesbury, MA

Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital stresses the importance of ongoing pet dental care for the health of your best friend. We advocate ongoing preventive care to help provide longer, healthier, and happier lives for our companion animals. Dental disease is a very common concern for pets and it often goes untreated for far too long. We believe in proactive dentistry to help our veterinarians identify signs of oral health concerns.

A pet’s complete dental will include the following treatments:

  • Scaling
  • Polishing
  • Tartar and plaque removal
  • Extraction of diseased teeth, if necessary
  • Complete oral radiographs to check for underlying signs of decay

During your pet’s complete dental care, we’ll strive to eliminate bad breath through the scaling off of tartar and the removal of bacteria from below the gumline. Bacteria beneath the gumline is especially dangerous as it can get into the bloodstream and affect other organs such as the liver and kidneys!

Help keep your pet healthier and safer, with ongoing dental care.

Stress-Free Veterinary Visits for Your Pet

Stress-Free Veterinary Visits for Your Pet

At our animal hospital, we are always looking for ways to make veterinary visits less stressful for our patients. We want our patients to be relaxed and comfortable, not stressed and anxious! One of the ways we seek to combat this problem while your pet is at our animal hospital for a visit is by offering your pet a distraction during a treatment that might ordinarily cause them stress or discomfort.

Relieve Stress with a Special Treat 

Vaccines are often nerve-wracking for our companions as pets may associate the sight of the needle itself with the pain they felt last time they had a vaccine. Also, if a series needs to be administered, the pet may feel the first shot and become anxious about the rest.

At Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital, we like to distract our patients with a little treat to pique their interest. Our team places a treat on a plate just out of reach of your pet during their vaccines, using it to hold their interest and give them something else to think about. And we don’t use just any old treat, we use squeeze cheese, special treat for most pets. Trust us, it really keeps them occupied as they get to lick the plate while we’re vaccinating them!

We like to call ourselves the “Less Stress Vets,” because your pet’s comfort is always on our minds! We’re constantly looking for new ways to make sure our patients are relaxed and stress-free. Most of our dogs think this particular stress-relief method is quite gouda. (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Stress-Free Pet Owners, Safe Pets

Holiday Pet Safety in Amesbury, MA

During the holiday season, there are so many dangers our pets may encounter, but if a few extra precautions are taken, you can keep your best friend safe.

Top 5 Most Common Holiday Dangers

These are some of the most common dangers that we often see during the holiday season:

  • While we can handle having a few drinks in celebration of the season, our pets cannot. It’s important to always keep alcoholic beverages out your of your pet’s reach to ensure that they’re safe from the danger of alcohol poisoning.
  • Christmas trees. It isn’t the holiday season without a festive tree! However, these lovely decorations can also cause a few hazards in the home. Christmas trees can be knocked over by overly adventurous and curious pets, causing damage to the home and injury to the animals!
  • Electrical cords. Does your best friend like to chew? The sight of all those new cords under the tree may be too appealing for your pet, so we recommend disguising and hiding electrical cords to prevent your pet’s curiosity. It’s also important that they never be left unattended around the decorations!
  • Holiday meals and sweets. You hear all year round that there are foods your pet should never consume, but during the holiday season we have so much more of those dangerous foods around the house! Traditional holiday meals contain so many of those dangers, like poultry bones, onions, garlic, grapes, and more. In addition, we often do a lot of baking during the holidays, introducing our pets to even more potential dangers with chocolate, sugar, macadamia nuts, raisins, and more. Keep those foods and treats out of your pet’s reach at all times!
  • Poinsettias and other holiday plants. For some odd reason, the most popular plants to bring inside the home at the holidays are toxic to your pet! Poinsettias, amaryllis, and lilies of all kinds are dangerous and we recommend keeping them out of your pet’s reach at all times so thjat your pet doesn’t have access to the leaves or berries that may fall off. You may also want to consider purchasing silk flowers for the look of the festive plant without the dangers.

If you have any questions about your pet’s safety and well-being this holiday season, please contact our team with questions. That’s what we’re here for! Have a happy and safe holiday with your pet this year.

The Importance of Annual Wellness Care for Pets

Veterinary Discounts in Amesbury, MA

Annual veterinary care is so important for your pet’s ongoing health. At Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital, we recommend that all pets come in for care at our veterinary hospital in Amesbury at least once a year. Some pets may need twice annual wellness checks if they have ongoing health conditions that require continued treatment or if they are in their senior years. Annual wellness visits generally include the following:

  • A nose to tail examination to identify any physical concerns
  • An oral examination to determine whether professional dental care is in order
  • Parasite tests to determine whether your pet is safe from heartworms and intestinal parasites
  • Additional diagnostic tests may be administered if the attending veterinarian recognizes signs that your pet may have a health condition
  • Discussion about your pet’s lifestyle, weight, diet, etc. to ensure they are receiving the care they need
  • Discussion of preventive measures being used to protect your pet from parasites

Open Communication Between Pet Owners and Veterinarians

At Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital, our veterinarians believe in open communication with pet owners. While we conduct your pet’s examination, we will discuss their needs with you to ensure that we have all the information we need to make an accurate diagnosis. After all, you know your pet better than anyone else!

We invite you to talk with our veterinary team today to schedule a visit with us for your pet.

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Halloween Pet Safety Tips in Amesbury, MA

Halloween may be an exciting season for us and our children, but it can be dangerous for our furry friends! There are a number of dangers that can affect them at this time of the year. We recommend that all pet owners keep an eye on their pets at Halloween and ensure that they are protected. Some common Halloween concerns are detailed below:

Hazards to Pets in During the Halloween Season

  • Halloween is characterized by delicious treats and lots of candy, but it’s important to remember that candy is toxic for our pets to eat! Chocolate and sugar free candy is especially hazardous for them. If your pet gets a hold of Halloween candy, be sure to contact the Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital team immediately so we can determine whether emergency medical treatment is necessary.
  • If you’re dressing your pet up in a Halloween costume, make sure they are always supervised while in costume. Clothing is not natural for animals so they may become stressed or even struggle to remove it. Keep an eye on your pet all the time they’re dressed up and use your best judgement. If they look uncomfortable, they should have the costume removed.

Jack-o-lanterns are well-loved Halloween decorations, but they can be dangerous ones! If they are lit with a candle and they’re tipped over the hot wax or the flame could cause severe burns or a fire.


If you have questions about your pet’s safety this season, please contact our team for assistance. We’re committed to helping each pet lead a long, healthy, and happy life!

The Importance of Pet Wellness Exams

Staffordshire terrier and cat

Whether your pet is 9 months or 9 years of age, they need healthcare on a regular basis so you can be sure that they’re healthy. Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital near Newburyport recommends comprehensive wellness exams at least once a year for dogs and cats of all ages, but more frequent exams may be required for senior pets. And for a limited time, we’re offering a special for all of our NEW patients. If your dog or cat has not yet received services at our hospital, they can receive their first pet wellness exam for just $20! That’s a $30 savings!

About the Wellness Exam

At Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital, we place a strong emphasis on prevention with our services, so we examine each pet from nose-to-tail, including weight, temperature, and heart rate. Every wellness exam is an opportunity for our doctors to either determine that your pet is healthy or provide treatment recommendations if they’re not. The results of these exams also allow us to create a health profile so we can check your pet’s progress from year to year.

Our wellness services are tailored for every life stage, ranging from the puppy/kitten years through the geriatric years, with consideration to the unique needs of every life stage, breed, and lifestyle. We can also update vaccinations if they’re due to keep your pet protected from any potentially-fatal diseases or viruses. If necessary, we can recommend diagnostic care as well to examine your pet internally. This allows us to make a more accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition and provide the most effective treatment.

If you’ve noticed any abnormalities or other areas of concern regarding your pet, we encourage you to make us aware of them during these visits. This includes behavior, eating habits, diet, weight, and physical appearance. Please also feel free to ask us any questions about how to best care for your pet from home. Together, we can help keep your pet healthy and happy for a lifetime.

Is Your Pet Due for a Checkup?

If your pet is due for their annual or bi-annual wellness exam near Newburyport, schedule an appointment today at Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital…and remember, if your pet is a new patient, they can receive their first wellness exam for just $20! We love seeing our patients and the people who love them, and we look forward to meeting new ones!


How Do Wellness Exams Help Your Pet?


The Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital team believes in the importance of annual wellness examinations for each one of our patients. Having your pet brought in to our hospital to be examined by our veterinarians offers them the opportunity to have potential health problems identified earlier. Also, regular check-ups offer our veterinarians the opportunity to keep a check on developing issues in our patients. For example, if we see a pet often enough, we can tell when something is even slightly different from the last visit and can take steps to identify the cause of the change.

What Happens During My Pet’s Wellness Exam?

During your pet’s annual wellness visit, you can expect the following:

  • Complete nose-to-tail physical examination
    • Ears
    • Eyes
    • Mouth
    • Skin and hair coat
    • Lumps and bumps check
    • Joints, muscles, and mobility
    • Abdomen
    • Feet
    • …and more
  • Vaccinations
  • Diagnostics, if preliminary examinations indicate their necessity
  • An open conversation with your veterinarian

What Else does Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital Offer?

At Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital, we offer a range of preventive veterinary services to ensure that your pet is always able to live their best life, pain free! In addition to routine services like wellness checks, vaccination, and pest prevention, we provide tailored life-stage care for puppies and kittens to senior pets. Our team also makes an effort to encourage healthy lifestyles through nutritional counseling and weight management.

If you have questions about our range of exceptional veterinary services, please don’t hesitate to ask! We would love to talk with you about ensuring that your pet is on the road to good health, with a long and happy life ahead!

Special Promo for New Clients

Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital offers first visit savings for all new patients to our hospital. For new pets, first visits are $20, a savings of $30! We love to welcome new patients and new pet families to our practice and we look forward to meeting you and your pet for the first time!

Five Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe this Summer

Bag the tent, pack the bug spray, ice the cooler, and don’t forget the leash! As you make plans for your summer trips with your pet, it’s important that you be well prepared. Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital has put together a list of five tips for how to keep your pet companion safe during those outdoor summer excursions. If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment before your trip, feel free to contact us.
Camping or Hiking with your pet Amesbury, MA

1) Pack a Pet First Aid Kit

Having a pet first aid kit on hand is one of the best ways to be prepared for potential pet accidents and injuries. Since there are many conditions that may require immediate attention, having a kit and knowing basic first aid can reduce the risk of infection and even save your pet’s life. Make sure your kit includes Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital’s phone number (978-388-3074), the number of the closest emergency veterinarian to your destination, your contact information, and your pet’s information. Your kit should also include medical supplies (tweezers, cotton balls, gauze, etc.).

2) Keep Your Pet’s Vaccinations Updated

Ticks and other parasites can pose a threat to pets, especially outdoors, so it’s important to keep your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date so they can be protected from parasitic diseases. Some of the most common parasitic diseases that pets are at risk for include Lyme disease (caused by ticks) and heartworm disease (caused by mosquitoes).

Another outdoor danger that pet vaccinations can provide protection against is an infectious disease known as leptospirosis, which is caused from a bacteria that’s spread through the urine of infected animals. This infected urine can survive in water or soil for weeks or even months, so avoid letting your pet drink stagnant water in the woods during walks and hikes

Last but certainly not least is the threat of rabies. Rabies is a viral disease that’s spread through the bites or scratches of infected animals. It can also be transferred by the animal’s saliva. With rabies vaccinations, you can decrease the risk of rabies for your pet, should they ever come in contact with a rabid animal. If you are unsure if your pet’s vaccinations are updated, give us a call at (978) 388-3074.

3) Always Consider Your Pet’s Comfort

Your pet may have four legs, but they can still get tired after an extended hike. Make sure to take breaks during your hikes if your pet’s pace starts to slow down or if they start panting heavily. Consider the ground as well, as some terrain can be uncomfortable for a pet’s paws. If you’ll be camping with your pets, always keep them in the tent with you, where they can be both safe (from parasites and potential nocturnal predators) and comfortable. And don’t forget to bring an extra blanket for your pet to sleep on, too! If your pets appears to be uncomfortable for any reason, whether it’s related to heat, terrain, or exhaustion, attend to them immediately.

4) Keep Your Pet Cool and Hydrated

This is important both outdoors and in the car, since the interior car temperature can quickly reach dangerous levels in a matter of minutes. As a rule of thumb, never leave your pet alone in a car in the summer time. While your pet is outdoors, have plenty of cool, fresh water on hand, and provide as much shade as possible, so they can stay cool and hydrated. Remember to bring a bowl, too! There are many portable options available.

5) Don’t Forget the Flea and Tick Control!

 Fleas and ticks thrive in warmer climates and can cause a number of health problems for pets, ranging from flea allergy dermatitis, Lyme disease, and anemia. To protect your pets, Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital recommends that you provide them with a year-round parasite preventative. This is especially important before your outdoor trips. We can make recommendations on the best preventatives for your pet, so call us today at 978-388-3074 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.