Ticks…Tis the Season?

The weather is getting warmer and our minds are turning toward fun outdoor activities this time of year.  Our furry friends tend to spend much more time outside as well, raising our concern for “buggy” encounters.  While warmer weather does bring an increase in insect activity, truth be told fleas, and more importantly, potentially fatal ticks are a concern year round.  Year-round prevention is mandatory to prevent tick-borne disease.  Ticks actively seek a blood meal when temperatures exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving you and your pet at risk.  With the extreme jump in tick-borne diseases in our area, we must change our thinking about tick prevention and tick-borne diseases.  The number of diagnosed Lyme cases has skyrocketed in the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 


Consider the following data from the Companion Animal Parasite Council in WV and PA, as well as in our two most local counties:


2016 2012
West Virginia 2165 (1 in 15 tested) 1015 (1 in 20 tested)
Monongalia County, WV 236 (1 in 20 tested) 40 (1 in 43 tested)
Pennsylvania 41,067 (1 in 8 tested) 23,508 (1 in 8 tested)
Fayette County, PA 283 (1 in 13 tested) 20 (1 in 13 tested)


As you can see Lyme disease is on the rise.  Along with Lyme disease we are also seeing more Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis in our area.  There is some good news.  We do have some very effective flea and tick products at our disposal.  There is a product for every pet and client preference.  Some suggestions are newer oral flea and tick preventatives such as Nexgard, Simparica and Bravecto.  Effective topical choices (which include repellant properties) are Advantix and Vectra3D.  A long lasting Seresto collar is also an option.  Unfortunately ticks can still be seen and can even attach with these products being utilized.  The good news is that in the estimated 24-48 hours it takes for disease transmission to occur, the tick should die.  Lyme vaccination is also a strong recommendation here at CLAH.  This vaccine protects against missed monthly prevention but should not be considered as a substitute for tick prevention.  Any further questions or concerns can be discussed with your veterinarian.

~Chuck Wolfe, DVM

Kitty Cats: “Enjoying the Ride!”

Enjoying the Ride

Getting your cat or cats to their veterinary visits is important and often challenging.  

The safe mode of transportation is a carrier, and it can be your cat’s happy place.

Please try these suggestions:

1. Do not wait until appointment day to drag the cat carrier from storage. Instead, have it sitting out with the door open (or temporarily removed) and put a soft blanket or towel, a few toys and treats inside so your kitty may explore. You will know that a visit has occurred if the treats are gone or the blanket is rustled.  If you see your kitty in the carrier give him or her some verbal praise and a treat.

2. Practice runs may be helpful if you have time.  Simply close the carrier door and walk around the very familiar house with your pet.  Going to pick up some fast food?  Take your kitty for a ride and when the two of you return, you get dinner and kitty gets rewarded with treats.

3. Appointment day is here. Please be calm as cats tune in to your stress. I suggest putting the familiar carrier, kitty and you into a small room with door closed.  If entering carrier with ease isn’t happening at least you won’t be playing “chase the cat” throughout your home. Sit carrier upright and allow gravity to assist you by dropping pet in feet first. Bring a towel or small blanket that smells familiar to cover carrier if he or she is frightened in the car, and remember hiding keeps your kitty feeling safe.

4. Have you dealt with motion sickness or accidents in the carrier that have you rolling down the windows?  Don’t feed 3-4 hours before your trip.  An extra towel, blanket, or multiple paper towels will prevent kitty from becoming soiled and we know cats love to be clean.

Contact us at (304)594-1124 or staff@cheatlakevets.com if you have any questions about traveling safe with your kitty!

We are striving to be feline friendly😻,

H.L. Kossuth DVM and staff of CLAH

Lyme Vaccine Clinic

 TicksLyme Disease has Moved into Morgantown!

Lyme disease is spread by ticks that feed on our dogs. It causes painful joints, fever, and decrease in appetite, just to name a few symptoms. Some dogs can suffer kidney disease and have long term effects of the condition. All dogs in the West Virginia are at risk due to the high deer population that spread ticks and the disease. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases of Lyme disease in dogs this year.

Vaccination, in conjunction with tick prevention will help ensure your dog has the best chance to preventing Lyme disease.

To help protect your dog from this painful tick disease, please visit our Lyme Vaccine Clinic in our Wellness Center on January 16, 2016 from 1pm to 5pm.

Inappropriate Urination in Felines

Submitted by Dr. Roxanne Lennon


Image result for cat in litter boxFeline house-soiling problems are among the most common behavioral problems encountered. There are many reasons why cats eliminate outside of their litter box ranging from medical (e.g., urinary tract infections, kidney disease) to behavioral (urine marking, inappropriate urination/defecation). A detailed history, physical exam, urinalysis and possibly bloodwork are important tools we use to determine the underlying cause, enabling us to select the most appropriate treatment option. This handout concerns behavioral reasons for feline inappropriate elimination. If the problem appears to be behavioral, there needs to be a distinction made between marking behavior and inappropriate urination/defecation.

Urine Marking (spraying) is a specific form of inappropriate elimination. Urine marking is a normal form of communication among cats. Though it is most common in intact (un-neutered) male cats, any male or female cat can spray. Urine marking is often associated with a standing posture with cat’s hind legs straight and tail up. In addition the tail is usually quivering and the urine hits a vertical surface. Treatment of urine marking involves trying to identify the stimulus and removing it if possible. Urine marking may be due to territorial behavior, sexual behavior, reactive behavior or anxiety/stress. Examples of stresses are: moving to a new house, a new person or baby in the house, a new pet in the house, or a new cat in the neighborhood. The targets for urine marking are often the perimeter of the territory or other socially significant items such as the owner’s clothes.

Any cats with urine marking behavior should be spayed or neutered. In addition to removing the underlying stimulus for spraying, one can make the soiled area aversive by placing aluminum foil over the area. The environment can be treated with a facial pheromone (Feliway). The soiled area should be cleaned with and enzymatic cleanser.

Inappropriate urination/defection (not related to urine marking) can occur due to litter box aversion, location aversion or substrate preference or location preference. It is important to note where the eliminations are taking place and on what type of surface. The goal is to make the litter box more attractive Cats are very individual and often have specific preferences.

The golden rules of the Litter Box:

  • Scoop the litter boxes daily. Average healthy cats will defecate once a day and urinate 2 – 3 times a day. Even with one cat and one litter box being cleaned daily, the cat is using a dirty box at least twice a day.
  • Scoopable litter is the easiest to clean and most often accepted by cats, though keep in mind other substrates (clay clumping, crystals, recycled newspaper). If you recently changed substrates and the symptoms developed go back to previous substrate where the cat was using the litter box.
  • Uncovered litter box. Cats typically prefer open boxes.
  • Large litter box. Recent studies show that a box can be too small to be comfortable, but never too big. With aging cats or obese cats, maneuvering within a litter box can be difficult if too small.
  • There should be 1 litter box per cat plus one in the house hold. Expample: 2 cats = 3 boxes. In addition, placing litter boxes next to each other is not recommended as cats tend to see it more as one box instead of two.
  • There should be at least 1 litter box on every floor to which the cat has access too. Stairs or other obstacles can pose challenging to cats who have arthritis and/or are overweight.
  • Litter boxes should be placed in quiet, well lit areas. Try to avoid placing a litter box next to a washing machine or dryer. Even though cats see well in low light, they cannot see in complete darkness. Sometimes adding a night light near a litter box can resolve avoidance.

Preferred locations:

If a cat seems to have a location preference and eliminates in one particular area, you can try placing the litter box there for one week. If the cat uses the litter box in the new areas, then gradually move the box a few inches every day closer to a location that is a mutually desirable.

Multi-cat Household:

In some multiple cat households, there may be a conflict between two cats that can build to litter box avoidance. In these situations there is usually an aggressor (the cat who starts trouble). A collar with a bell can be placed on this cat to allow the other cat (or cats) the opportunity to avoid the aggressor. This is also demonstrates the importance of having open litter boxes, since the cat in the box can’t be snuck up on and disturbed.

If there is no success with the above recommendations, you may need to consider confining the cat to a small area (e.g. bathroom) with food, water and a litter box. This will limit the cat’s options and help force the cat to use the litter box. Once the cat begins to use the box regularly, gradually give him more freedom.

Unfortunately cat behavior is complicated and there are situations where behavior modification alone does not work. At this point drug, consultation with a behavior specialist may be helpful. Anti-anxiety therapy may also need to be considered. For some cats, medications dosage can be reduce or eliminated if the pet is responding; other cats may need long-term drug therapy.

In summary, inappropriate elimination problems can be very frustrating. It is important to distinguish between medical and behavioral causes, as the treatment strategies are different for each. For cats with behavioral issues, it is also important to distinguish urine marking from inappropriate urination/defecation, as knowing the underlying cause may aid us in solving the problem.

Common Diseases of Small Mammals

Written by Dr. Angie Ahlstrom

Well, we’ve talked about birds and reptiles—time for small mammals! For many people, their first pet was a “pocket pet” such as a gerbil, hamster, rat, or guinea pig. For others, rabbits and chinchillas are great fuzzy friends. These animals offer great companionship, though they present a different set of disease concerns from cats and dogs. Today we will discuss dental disease, respiratory disease, and intestinal disease in rodents and rabbits.

Dental Disease:

Dental disease is very common in small mammals. Rodents have teeth that continue to grow throughout the life of the animal. If the upper and lower teeth are not lined up together properly, these teeth will grow incorrectly and cause serious disease. In some animals, especially chinchillas and rabbits, sharp points can form on the teeth and cause deep ulcers in the animal’s cheeks. Common signs of dental disease in rodents and rabbits include drooling (“slobbers”) from the associated pain, decreased appetite, and dropping food (especially hay). Monitor your pet for these signs of dental disease and bring them to your veterinarian at the first sign of problems.

Dental disease can be prevented by providing proper materials to help wear down the teeth properly. For rats, mice, and gerbils this includes nutritional blocks and untreated wooden toys. For chinchillas, rabbits, and guinea pigs be sure to provide them with free-choice hay; timothy hay is best tolerated by the intestinal tracts of these animals. In addition to providing adequate wear to the teeth, hay also promotes intestinal motility and health.

Respiratory Disease:

Respiratory disease in small mammals is almost exclusively the result of incorrect husbandry. It is important to use only non-irritating bedding. Avoid wood chips such as cedar and pine as these are high in aromatic oils that irritate the respiratory tree; aspen bedding is a better choice. Another option available is CareFresh bedding, which is paper based and non-irritating. Some owners elect to use fleece blankets to line their rodent and rabbit cages. This provides a soft sturdy bedding that can easily be washed.

Bedding should be changed on a regular basis; for many owners, weekly bedding changes work best. Allowing soiled bedding to remain in the cage increases the amount of ammonia in the air (from urine). This ammonia is very irritating to the respiratory tree and can make your rodent or rabbit more at risk of respiratory infections.

Common signs of respiratory infections include sneezing, runny nose and eyes, and porphyrin staining in rodents. Porphyrin is a pigment produced in times of stress and can appear as red tearing or nasal discharge. If you notice these signs, bring your rodent to your veterinarian right away for antibiotic therapy. In some more advanced cases, additional treatment with a nebulizer may be required.

Intestinal Disease:

The most common intestinal problems seen in small rodents and rabbits is due to abrupt diet changes and stress. In rabbits and chinchillas especially, diet change and stress and lead to ileus—a condition where the GI tract stops moving. This leads to cramping and decreased appetite. This decreased appetite further slows the GI tract down, creating a vicious cycle. Prevention of intestinal ileus is key. Be careful not to change your animal’s food abruptly. When switching foods, slowly transition from the old food to the new, mixing a larger amount in each time. This is also true when starting a new bag of hay as there can be small changes between batches of hay that can affect the intestinal tract.


Signs of GI disease include soft feces (not to be confused with cecotropes which are normal digestive products produced by rabbits), decreased appetite, and lethargy. Aggressive treatment is necessary to get the intestinal tract moving normally again. Bring your pet to your veterinarian immediately if they stop eating.


These are just a few of the more common diseases seen in small mammals. For more information about your rabbit or rodent, ask your veterinarian today!