Apr 222014

Please join us this Saturday, April 26th from 9:00 am to noon at Gateway Park in Cedar Falls.  The first annual Bark for Life event is a short walk for dogs and their owners (and family and friends!) to raise money for the fight against cancer.  Registration is $10 and there will be a short program followed by a one mile walk around the park. Having a loving pet to help a person through the cancer battle can really make a difference.  Learn about Olive, the Honorary Canine for this event, and her owner, Sharon Juon. Come join us in showing support to all people and their pets who have been touched in some way by cancer. If you have questions, please contact the American Cancer Society local office at 319-234-0990.


When: April 26, 2014 from 9:00 am to noon

Where:  Gateway Park, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613

What: Registration is $10 with donations going to the American Cancer Society.  Each participant will receive a “doggie bag” with pet related items and literature.

Why: We need to end cancer–now!


Apr 212014

baby bunnyWith spring in full bloom, we have lots of little creatures running around.  We recently had this little bun-bun in the office for treatment.  What should you do if you come across a baby rabbit?  There are many myths out there, so let’s clear a few of these up.  Our pointers will help you help them (so they can grow up into bigger bunnies and eat your hosta to the ground).

Handling Wildlife

First, with any injured wildlife, avoid handling the animal if you can. Note the location and what seems to be wrong then call the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project at 319-277-6511 for more directions.  They may send someone to get the animal or tell you how to proceed.  If you need to get the animal to safety immediately, handle as little as possible and put it in a dry container (with ventilation) then call Black Hawk Wildlife Rehab.  A licensed rehabber will talk with you and determine what to do next.  Do not feed or water the animal.   There is no fee for using this all volunteer service, however, donations are greatly appreciated (but not required).

The real reason mom is away

With rabbits, a common myth is that if you touch a baby rabbit the mother will no longer care for it.  9 times out of 10, the motherhandful of baby rabbits will return to care for the babies after they have been handled.  Another misconception is if you don’t see the mother on the nest, she has abandoned it.  There are a few reasons why we don’t see mother rabbits on the nest very often.  First, she only feeds her babies once per day. Second, baby bunnies don’t have much of a scent to predators. However, the mother rabbit does have a scent.  She has to be cautious when she returns to the nest to avoid attracting unwanted attention from predators.  If she were to sit with the bunnies, her scent would make all of them a much greater target.

X marks the spot

If you happen to disturb a rabbit nest, go ahead and put the babies back (assuming they are uninjured).  After placing them back in the nest, find two small twigs or sticks and cross those over the opening to the nest like the letter “X”.  This will be your clue as to whether or not the mother has come back to feed the babies.  The sticks will be pushed out of the way when she returns. Be sure not to use too big of a stick where she has trouble getting back in. The mother should return within 24-48 hours and you will know because the twigs have been moved.  If after that time the sticks are still not disturbed, do call Black Hawk Wildlife and let them know.  There may be options for helping those little ones out if the mother is not able to care for them.

While we may not like rabbits eating away in our backyards, all God’s creatures are still deserving of a safe and cruelty free life.

Oct 282013

pets and halloweenAs humans, we get caught up in the costumes, the candy, and the pumpkin spiced lattes, but what about pets and Halloween?  If you were to get down on all fours and look around on Halloween night from their angle, what would you see?

Pets and Halloween:  a dog’s perspective

Cool!  They left me a big bowl filled with those great smelling shiny things with a chocolate center.  These are tons better than what I get out of the litter box.  Not quite as good as what the rabbits leave for me, but I’m not complaining.  I can’t wait to dive in—wait a minute, did I get diarrhea last year? I don’t remember, but man, these are good eats.  Thanks for thinking of me.

I’m not sure what is happening to my humans.  They are very loud, crazy, and they are wearing weird clothes.  I can’t see their faces.  One is chasing me trying to make me wear a hat. I don’t do hats. I don’t even like my collar.  Leave me alone or else!

Our doorbell keeps ringing.  The DOORBELL, people!  You know I can’t take the doorbell.  Wait– why can’t you keep the door closed?  In and out, in and out. Can’t you make up your mind?  And you yell at me for that! Geesh, what hypocrites.

The doorbell, again?!?  I can’t take it anymore.  The attacks on my house are relentless.  Make it STOP!  Just make it stop!

I’m pacing, I’m barking, I’m doing everything I can to get your attention, but nothing–what gives?  I just want to go for my evening walk.  I really have to pee.  Why aren’t you letting me out?

Okay, why is it quiet? They are all gone! Where did they go?  I checked the porch and they aren’t there.  But, they have those big orange glowing things again!  Not sure what they are, but when I accidently knocked one over last year, I got put in my cage.  Something about “fire” and then some screaming.  How was I to know?

Uh oh, now they are back.  What is the deal here, people? I don’t understand all this.  Everybody is loud.  And stressed.  I still have to pee, please let me out.  For real, I’m not joking. 

Wait–where is the big food dish with the shiny things?  I need a snack.  Oh, I can look for it later when you are in bed. Now I need a hug. Will someone please pet me?

Pets and Halloween:  a cat’s perspective

What’s with all the noise?  You are interrupting my nap. Yawn.  You people are crazy.  And loud.  And rude.  And, whoa…that was close.  Nowpets and halloween I’m under the bed. 

Wait, what are you doing?  I was sleeping, you’re pulling on me—ouch! Where are you taking me?  What are you doing?  What is on me? I can’t move.  What is on my head?  I can’t see.  For the love of–why.  Why?!? Not this again.  Is this because of the hairball last week?  If you don’t take the shirt and hat off me now, the next hairball goes in your shoes.  Stop laughing at me.  I’m serious.  I’ll eat my entire food dish in 10 seconds and you know what happens after that–barf goes on the couch. Did I mention I’ll drain the water dish, too, so everything is nice and liquidy?

Fun’s over folks, claws are next. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Yes, that growling and hissing sound I make?  It means something–pay attention here!

Okay, whew, they left.  I can’t possibly groom myself fast enough to get their germs off.  This is going to take all night.  Wait–why is it still so loud? What is that bell sound?  Annoying.  Yawn.  I just want to sleep.

The bell sound again? That needs to stop.  Now.  UGH, again?!?  Fine, I’ll get up and check it out.   Hey, why is the door open?  I didn’t know they opened the door in all this.  Hmm, I could go explore.  That’s really tempting. The outside….it calls to me….I could finally get that chipmunk. I know I could. Wait, now it’s loud again.  They’re coming.  With the hat.  Hide!

Here’s what you need to remember for your pet and Halloween:

Halloween can be a great time for humans, but it might not be for your pets.  Halloween means changes in routine, new temptations (5 different types of Snickers!), and plenty of strangers.  Put all these together and it might be a scary experience for your pet.  Here’s what you need to remember:

  1. Stress, strangers and silliness:  if the doorbell bothers your dog or your cat might escape when you open the door, would they be better off in a room upstairs away from the noise?  Out of sight might be easier for all parties involved. If your pet is scared, how will they react to you or young children in the home?  Even family pets have their limits. Don’t push those boundaries to the point of claws or teeth.  Understand how your pet might be feeling on a loud and crazy night.  Try to keep their stress level to a minimum.  And yours, too, of course.
  2. Candy and wrappers:  Adults and kids need to keep in mind the dangers many Halloween treats pose to our pets.   We mainly focus on chocolate, but some sugar substitutes (e.g., Xylitol) and raisins are dangerous as well.  Regardless of the treat, all that fat, sugar, (and wrappers!) are not good for your pet.  The last thing anyone wants is an after-hours call to the vet because your dog got into the Snickers bag and polished them off, bag included.  Don’t forget to check the trash—we all know dogs who go hunting for leftovers!
  3. Costumes:  Okay, admit it, we’ve all probably done it at some point—dressed up our pets.  It can be fun and some pets may not mind.pets and halloween  But ask yourself, who really enjoys it?  Are we laughing at their expense and stressing them in the process?  If you do dress up your pet, be sure they can see, breathe, hear and walk (good advice for dressing kids, too!)  Are there parts of the costume they could chew off and eat?  Don’t leave the costume on your pet for long periods of time and never leave her dressed up if you are not present.
  4. A few other concerns:  Do you light any decorations with candles?  Can your pet knock those over?  Watch out for this safety hazard.  Also, those “glow sticks,” necklaces or bracelets can be easy “chew toys” for your dog.  Most likely the sticks are nontoxic, but don’t let your pet chew on them just in case it goes down the hatch.  Finally, if your pet is likely to escape or run if he gets outside, is he microchipped?  Microchipping is your best bet if you want to be reunited with your lost pet.  And reconsider point #1 above–keep everyone upstairs and out of the way for the night. Safely out of sight is peace of mind on Halloween.
  5. Have fun and offer love:  At the end of this crazy night, don’t forget to reward your pet with a little TLC and quiet time alone–without any stress.  This is best treat for you and your pet.  It’s even better than a Snickers!
Oct 102013

We are all about prevention and fleas are one problem you definitely do not want. Not only are fleas a nuisance, they cause health problemsgetting rid of fleas (think Bubonic Plague). While the plague seems unlikely, fleas are connected to skin allergies, “hot spots” on the skin, weight loss, tapeworms and most importantly, poor quality of life for you and your pet. When getting rid of fleas, remember to treat both your pet and the environment. If you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule, with fleas it is more like 90/10. 90% of the problem is in the home and only 10% is on your pet.

Getting rid of fleas on your pet
From the veterinary side of things, getting rid of fleas on your pet is relatively easy. The gold standard is to apply a vet prescribed topical treatment directly to the skin (e.g., Frontline, Revolution). In addition to this monthly treatment, ask your vet about an oral pill (e.g., Capstar) that will kill adult fleas within 30 minutes to an hour. So, Fido is flea free, now the fun begins…treating your house!

Getting rid of fleas at home

  • Vacuum. Vacuum. Vacuum. Concentrate on where your pet sleeps or spends time. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed garbage bag and get it out of the house. If you have a bagless vacuum, dispose of the contents immediately (outside in a sealed bag). Vacuum frequently as you are trying to get rid of any eggs, larvae or pupae that are in the carpet fibers (and trust us, they are there).
  • Wash it. Wash any bedding or rugs in the hottest water possible for the fabric. Dry in a dryer if possible. This combo is pretty effective in killing flea eggs.
  • Spray it. Use a good indoor spray for fleas on the carpet, furniture, mattresses, even your car. Remember to spray all sides of cushions and under furniture.  Does your cat sleep under the bed? Spray there, too. Repeat this process every 3 weeks because sprays will kill the eggs and larvae, they won’t kill the pupae.
  • Treat the yard with a good outdoor yard spray. Treat up to 3 feet off the ground.
  • Repeat this procedure in 2-3 weeks and then monthly until the flea season ends.
  • If this doesn’t take care of the problem, consider using a professional exterminator.

With any of the topical treatments and environmental sprays, be sure to keep those away from young children. Read the label carefully. Ask your veterinarian if you have questions.

The flea life cycle: why getting rid of fleas is a pain
Adult fleas (what you see) live their entire lives on your pet. Female fleas begin laying eggs within 24 hours of selecting your pet as a host, flea life cycleproducing up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall from your pet onto the floor, furniture, or where ever your pet happens to be (does your pet sleep with you??) Tiny worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs and, to avoid sunlight, burrow into carpets, under furniture, or into soil before spinning a cocoon. The cocooned flea pupae can lie dormant for weeks before emerging as adults. This gives fleas a life cycle of anywhere from 12 days to 6 months. Knowing where and when fleas develop helps you to break their life cycle. This link to University of Kentucky Entomology Department has an excellent explanation of fleas and the flea life cycle.

Sep 182013

IMG_0757What joy and excitement a new baby brings!  But, how does your pet feel about it?  He may have mixed feelings about the new bundle of joy.  Keep your pet in mind as you transition to life with baby. This handout on introducing your pet to a new baby  has some great tips. The Family Paws website does as well.  The Humane Society of America has a nice overview of ideas, too, to get you thinking .


Go Slow
When introducing your pet to a new baby, slow and steady wins the race.  Don’t force the interaction.  To reduce stress when you first arrive IMG_1017home, put all pets in their carriers or rooms for a short time.  Your hands will be full with car seats, flowers, diaper bags and oh–the baby!  Get unpacked, get settled, and then release the hounds so-to-speak.  If you are worried about the first meet and greet, put the car seat or something with the baby’s scent in their room and let everyone sniff.  For cat owners, your cat will likely commandeer the car seat for themselves as a new napping place. Most parents today have the nursery set up before the baby arrives so your pet is likely familiar with the new furniture, but perhaps not the new smells or sounds that just arrived.  Take baby steps (pardon the pun).

Timing Is Key
introducing your pet to a new babyFor the big reveal, find a time when all parties (babies, pets and even parents) are awake, well fed and content.  Let your pets approach the baby and sniff.  You most likely will be pleasantly surprised at how eager they are to meet this new person who is sharing their space.  Offer your pet lots of affection and verbal praise while they check out their new “sibling.”  After the introductions, go about your normal routine.  If your pet seems stressed, perhaps some alone time in a carrier or room is in order.  Not as a punishment, but as a quiet time to relax.

Quality Time Matters
Spend some alone time with your pets as you did before the baby.  That may be more difficult with a new baby, but your pet deserves attention, too.  Just you and your dog on a walk is a great reinforcement that they still matter and they are loved.  For cat owners, if you are used to a little lap time or evening cuddle, keep that up. Try to keep your pets’ routines as close to normal as possible.  And be patient, this is new for everyone.

Never Alone
The biggest safety rule?  Never leave your baby (or any child) and your pets together unattended.  This includes nap time for the sleep deprivedSONY DSC new parent! It is unlikely anything would occur, but don’t take the chance even with a trusted family pet.  Dog ears and kitty tails are nice things to hang on to unless you are on the receiving end of the grip.  Always keep an alert eye on both your little one and your pets.

Life Long Safety
As your baby grows, teach him or her about pet safety and what it means to “pet nicely.”  Show them where you can pet and where you don’t.  Teach your children to never take toys away from a dog or cat when the toy is in use and never get near an animal when it is eating.  You have the responsibility of educating your children on pet safety—don’t leave that lesson to chance.

Enjoy Life
Sleepless nights and crazy schedules will happen.  Through it all you have that unconditional love from your children whether they are the two-legged or four-legged variety.  And that is what it is all about.

If you are having difficulty introducing your pet to a new baby, give us a call, 319-232-5292.  We offer free behavioral consultations for our clients.  We can help make this transition easier even if we can’t give you more sleep.

Aug 142013

microchippingWhat are the odds of your lost pet being returned to you?  17% if you are a dog owner and only 2% if you are a cat owner.  Let this be a wake-up call for us all!   It is easy to increase the odds of being reunited with your lost pet by microchipping your pet AND registering the chip number with the manufacturer.

August 15th is “Check the Chip” Day.  The two leading veterinary medical organizations in the U.S. are sponsoring this day of awareness to get pet owners to verify their pet’s microchip is actually registered (click here to verify your microchip IDs).  If your pet is microchipped, you must register the number with the company that manufactured the microchip.  Without this registration, your pet’s microchip number is not linked to you! 

If your pet is not yet microchipped, we encourage you to do so.  It takes just a few minutes and can mean the difference between a happy ending and a tragic one.  To learn more about the quick and easy microchipping process, click here.

To check if your pet’s microchip is indeed registered, use the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool.

Share this with your fellow pet lovers so that they can keep their pets safe AND found!

Aug 112013

how to pill a catIf the idea of pilling your cat fills you with fear–worry not!  Click here for our handout to guide you through the process.  We have many handy tips and suggestions.  We also have a video of how to pill a cat and give liquid medication as well.  It takes practice, but it won’t send anyone to the hospital, we promise.

Learn to tackle this important part of pet ownership.  We are here to help and offer free training for our clients.


Jun 282013

cartoon with dogs excited about eating poopIf you’ve ever owned a dog, you may have encountered this lovely little quirk.  The technical term is coprophagia, or the eating of feces.  Some dogs have an extreme love of this forbidden fruit:   their own, other dog companion’s, the cat’s (extra special), or rabbits (gourmet treat).   Given that this is a fairly common and relatively “normal” behavior, let’s start with the obvious question:

Why do dogs eat poop?

Over the ages, dogs may have played a role in “waste management” (pardon the pun) in certain communities by eating all types of feces.  Typically we don’t have that need today, but nursing dogs with young pups may eat feces to keep the den clean.  The mother also teaches the new puppies how to defecate (by licking their bottoms to stimulate the reflex to have a bowel movement).  For the majority of dogs today, the answer to our question may simply be this–they like the taste of it!

What does it mean if my dog eats feces?

In most cases it may mean nothing at all.  It usually is not serious, but be sure to rule out any medical condition that might be an underlying issue. It never hurts to check with us and we’ve had plenty of phone calls about this, so you are in good company if you ask.  In some dogs there may be a medical reason or dietary problem at play.

Please make him stop!

  • Keep your dog on a short leash and supervised at all times.  Try a Gentle Leader or in extreme cases a muzzle.  This is easier said than done, but it works.
  • Be vigilant in cleaning up after your dogs.  This is harder to do with the rabbit delights we realize, but it is a sure fire way to get it out of sight and out of mind (or mouth).
  • Some “home remedies” to try (but always check with your veterinarian first to make sure it is safe for your pet):  Adolph’s meat tenderizer sprinkled on their food or canned pumpkin, about a tablespoon or so, mixed in with their food.
  • There are commercial products as well, both in powder and chewable treats that owners can try.  Call us if you need these options.
  • Some things work better than others.  Be patient and keep trying.

Should I be concerned?

Besides the obvious horrendous breath and the fact that your dog may want to give you big sloppy kisses after eating a tasty treat, there are a variety of parasites your dog may ingest.  Things like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and coccidia are all found in feces.  Some of these can be transmitted to you or your family members as well.  At times, eating too much stool can make your dog sick and vomit or cause pancreas issues.  We always recommend twice yearly testing of your dog’s stool to check for these parasites to keep your dog and your family healthy.

May 292013

Emily Meier has been with our kennel staff since June of 2011.  She is originally from Waterloo and is currently a biology major at UNI. A typical day for Emily means so many different things as she has a variety of job responsibilities at Den Herders.  She could be walking dogs, cleaning cages, stocking the rooms, or working hand in hand with the vets and clients.

What is the best part of your job? Hardest part?

The best part of the job, for me, is all of the experience I am able to gain on a daily basis.  I am always excited to come to work knowing that I will be able to learn something new.

The hardest part of my job is adapting to every challenge; but I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy rising to the occasion.  The variance of cases keeps my job fresh and exciting, and that’s what I love!

Why do you work here?

I have always had a love for animals and a desire to care for them; that is why I want to become a veterinarian. Ever since I have had my own pets, I have taken them to Den Herders. As such, I have always wanted to work here and love every minute of it.

What pets do you own?

I have had over 10 different kinds of pets at one time before, including zebra finches, parakeets, various fish, a leopard gecko, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, love birds, hermit crabs, and a canary. However, at the moment, I have two hamsters, two guinea pigs, a parakeet and fish.

Any pet challenges?

For the past few years, I have been taking in animals with special needs. I had a dwarf hamster for many years that had been abused by its previous owner. Currently, I have a hamster that injured its side by being caught in a wheel. Now, one of his favorite things to do is run in his ball.  I love to take care of animals.  There is no greater reward for me than to know that I can make sure an animal lives a happy life.

What was the first pet you ever had?

The first pet I personally owned was a hamster named Teddy

Tell us about your family.

My mom is a pharmacist and my dad stays at home. My sister, Chelsea, just graduated from UNI and will be continuing her education to become an emergency room doctor.

What is the craziest thing you have seen while working here?

I thought it was amazing to see a successful amputation on a tiny little dwarf hamster. It amazed me that Dr. Cherney was able to do such a wonderful job on such a small creature. I had no idea that such a complicated surgery could be done on anything smaller than a dog or cat.

What was something you learned in the last week?

I learned the right way and wrong way to pet a cow. A friend from college invited me to his farm and among the many animals that I interacted with, I learned how to properly approach a cow.

What is one food you’d definitely have seconds on?

Any kind of Bosnian food!  It’s all good.

What do you like to do for fun or in your free time?

I enjoy any and all crafts, doing martial arts, and learning something new.

 Posted by at 3:24 pm
May 292013

sydneySydney (Halferty) Johnston has been with our kennel staff since August of 2012 and is also assisting some in the hospital.  Sydney and her high school sweetheart, Dalton, are newlyweds.  The both are students at UNI with Dalton majoring in construction management and Sydney is pre-vet.  She plans to continue on to vet school in the near future.

What is the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part is working with the different dogs and cats and getting to spend time with them. I love animals and being around them. I especially love when puppies come in–they just brighten my whole day!  The hardest part of working here would have to be when an animal passes away, especially one that I have taken care of and grown to care for.

Why do you work here?

I am a pre-vet major at UNI and I hope someday to be a veterinarian. When I transferred to UNI from Kirkwood I was determined to find a job working with animals so I could make sure it was what I really wanted to do.  I’ve definitely found that it is! I love working at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital!

What pets do you own?

I own a guinea pig named Rocky and I grew up with my dog, Prince, who is a Rat Terrier mix. I also claim my husband’s pets as my own and they are Sam the Siamese cat and Beau the German Shepard. The picture I have attached is of my guinea pig, Rocky, and my dog, Prince. This was the best I could do because my dog is scared of my guinea pig!

Any pet challenges?

A challenge for me would be interacting with pets when they are not in the best moods. I’m still gaining experience in how to handle those situations, but I have improved since working here.

What was the first pet you ever had?

The first pet I had was a blue Betta fish named Betty. I wasn’t allowed pets because my mom babysat in our home. I kept begging and we finally got a fish.  It didn’t live very long because I kept petting it…

Tell us about your family?

I am recently married to my high school sweetheart and he goes to UNI. My father works in unemployment taxes and my mom works as a business assistant for the Colo-NESCO school district. I am the middle child of two sisters. My eldest sister is finishing up her Administrative Assistant degree at DMACC and she has a two year old daughter. My youngest sister is a sophomore in high school.

What is the craziest thing you’ve seen while working here?

I don’t know about the craziest, but the coolest things would be watching Dr. Taylor do an ultrasound or watching one of the doctors perform a surgery. Something unusual would have to be seeing all the different animals brought in from the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project. I’ve seen hawks, owls, baby squirrels, swans, quite a variety!

What was something you learned in the last week?

Something I’ve learned in the last week would be how to run the lab equipment and all the tests we can do for blood work.

What is one food you’d definitely have seconds on?

Call me crazy, but I love tomato soup and grilled cheese. I love dipping dill pickles and Cheetos in my soup. It is delicious.

What do you like to do for fun or in your free time?

I love reading books. I like reading paranormal romance and science fiction books. I also love the outdoors and being active.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm