Posted on

How to Prevent Heartworm in Your Pets

Heartworm prevention healthy pet

Heartworm is a highly serious disease of dogs and cats that results in damage to vital organs, including the heart and lungs. In severe cases, it can cause irreparable damage or even death to your beloved pet. Part of our role as your local family veterinarian is to open the conversation about ways to help your furry family members live happy, healthy, pain-free lives for as long as possible. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we believe in the importance of year-round heartworm prevention that can be easily incorporated into your pet’s health plan. So, here is everything you need to know about how to prevent heartworm in your pets!

What Causes Heartworm Disease in Your Animal?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is spread through a mosquito bite. Mosquitos are known as an “intermediate host,” meaning that the worms live inside the mosquito for a short period of time as larvae but must be transferred to another host to become infective. When the infected mosquito bites your pet, it transfers the heartworm larvae into your pet’s bloodstream. Cats and dogs then act as a “definitive host,” which means the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside your pet. It takes about 6 to 7 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms in dogs after the transfer from the mosquito. These parasites are called “heartworms” because once they mature into adults, they then live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an infected pet, causing significant damage to those vital organs. The adult heartworm can life inside a dog for 5 to 7 years, while only 2 to 4 years in a cat. Adult look like cooked spaghetti, with adult males ranging from 4-6 inches in length and females 10-12 inches. The number of adult heartworms that can live inside your dog range from 1 to 250 worms and is known as the worm burden. Heartworms in cats is not as common but it does happen. Due to their smaller body size, heartworms in cats often have significantly smaller worm burdens, but this also means that a cat with only a few worms is considered to have a heavy infection.

How is Your Pet Tested for Heartworms?

Veterinarians can test for heartworms in dogs and cats through a blood test. One is called an antigen test because it tests for the presence of specific heartworm proteins which are released by adult female heartworms into your pet’s bloodstream. This test will detect antigens as early as 5 to 6 months after your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito. We can also perform an antibody test, which will be positive if your dog or cat has had a previous heartworm infestation or if they are infected with only male heartworms. Antibodies can be detected approximately 6 to 8 months after infection. The final blood test detects microfilaria in a pet’s bloodstream. Microfilaria are the initial stages of young heartworm parasites, with the earliest detection being 6 months after initial infection.

What are the Signs of Heartworm Disease in Your Pets?

The severity of this disease is related to how many heartworms are living inside of your pet, how long your pet has been infected, and how your pet is processing the infection. Early on, your dog or cat may not show any symptoms at all. The longer the infection persists untreated, the more severe the symptoms will become. 

Here are the signs and symptoms for heartworms in dogs:

  • Persistent cough
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Heart failure 
  • Fluid filled abdomen
  • Caval Syndrome – sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, dark or bloody colored urine.
  • Death

As the severity of the heartworm disease increases over time, heart and lung changes can be visibly seen on chest radiographs. When a dog has not been treated for heartworm and it progresses to caval syndrome, surgery becomes the only option to potentially save your pet’s life. With caval syndrome, the worm burden is so high that they block the flow of blood back into the heart so they must be surgically removed. By this point the damage to your dog’s internal organs are so severe, the surgical procedure becomes high risk to your pet.  

Heartworm disease in cats are not as common as they do not thrive as well inside a cat’s body as they do in dogs. With cats, the onset of the signs of a heartworm infection can be subtle or dramatic. Here are the signs and symptoms for heartworms in cats:

  • Coughing
  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fainting or seizures
  • Fluid filled abdomen
  • Sudden collapse or death

When Should Your Animal Be Tested for Heartworms?

As with humans, preventative medicine for your pets is always your best course of action in the prevention of many diseases, including heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention should begin with routine blood testing at your pet’s annual physical examination with your veterinarian. Catching any disease early has the best prognosis and is less likely to be a large expense for you as a pet owner. As a veterinary wellness clinic, we also recommend several FDA-approved topical and oral products for heartworm prevention for dogs and cats. All of these are to be administered to your pet monthly year-round for heartworm prevention and do require a prescription from your veterinarian. 

You may be wondering what happens if your pet does test positive for heartworms. Heartworm treatment depends on many factors and it is best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of you and your pet. Some of the treatment options include oral medications, a course of injections, blood tests, x-rays, hospitalization, and even surgery.  Heartworm disease is highly serious so it is important to know upfront that heartworm treatment is expensive and can cause life threatening complications.  As previously stated, the best medicine is heartworm prevention.

Get More Information on Heartworm Disease in Flagstaff, Arizona

If you live in Coconino County and are looking for a comprehensive pet wellness center, Continental Animal Wellness Center is your go-to veterinary clinic. We understand that bringing your pet to the clinic can be scary, especially when you know they are sick but do not know why. At CAWC, we are committed to providing the best care possible to your pet while also keeping you informed and involved in your pet’s health so you can make an educated decision with your veterinarian. From routine preventative care, to sick pet exams, to diagnostics and surgery, we are the local choice for comprehensive pet wellness in Flagstaff, AZ. Contact us today to schedule a heartworm prevention exam with one of our veterinarians.

Posted on

Flagstaff, Arizona’s Animal Wellness Center

Group Photo of all the clinic staff

Your pet’s health and wellbeing is our number one priority. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we are proud to be Flagstaff’s Animal Wellness Center. We serve both large and small animals – ranging from dogs and cats, all the way up to horses, goats, sheep, and more! We are here for the life of your pet, starting with that initial visit when they are young or new to your family, to the crucial senior wellness exams to keep them a healthy and active member of your family. In addition to routine preventative care and sick or injured exams (including emergencies), we are also Flagstaff’s go-to facility for other modalities, such as surgery, radiology, and oncology. Our experienced veterinarians and staff are here to support you and your pet, for the life of your furry family member!

Routine Preventative Care in Flagstaff, AZ

Just like humans need a general physician and routine yearly preventative checkup, our pets need a veterinarian and a yearly physical exam too. As soon as a new animal joins your family, you will need to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians to assess your pet’s current health and design a wellness plan. Our wellness plan will be tailored to your needs as a family, focusing on the health and wellbeing of your animal. We strongly believe in the importance of preventative care for pets because it promotes early diagnosis and treatment of conditions or diseases, which will ultimately help avoid or reduce your pet’s suffering and pain, enhance their quality of life, and extend their life expectancy. Your pet’s wellness plan may include:

  • Annual Physical Exams with Routine Blood Work
  • Vaccination Schedule 
  • Dental Care Advice and Procedures
  • Nutrition Advice or Protocols 
  • Exercise Advice 
  • Behavioral Training Advice
  • Parasite Testing and Treatment
  • And More! 

Wellness and Sick Exams in Flagstaff, AZ

There is nothing more stressful for a pet parent than watching your beloved pet suffer through an illness. Animals cannot talk to you and tell you what is wrong, so you need a trusted veterinarian to help diagnose and treat your family member. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, our skilled veterinarians have the expertise to help treat many illnesses that your pet may face in order to get your pet back to health as soon as possible. What happens during a sick pet exam? It depends on what symptoms your pet is displaying and what our veterinarians discover during the physical examination. Our veterinarian will ask you questions about your pet’s health history and current illness symptoms, and also examine your pets’ overall body condition to include:

  • Eyes, Ears, Nose
  • Mouth and Digestive System
  • Nervous System
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Heart and Circulatory System
  • Respiratory system
  • Abdomen 
  • Skin and Coat
  • Joints, Bones, and Muscles 
  • Urinary and Reproductive System

Bloodwork, imaging, and other testing may be recommended by your veterinarian, depending on the initial physical examination and their discussion with you as the pet owner.

Behavior Consultations in Flagstaff, AZ

As a comprehensive pet wellness center, another service we offer is pet behavioral consultations.  We specialize in behavior issues such as:

  • Aggression: towards other dogs, pets, children etc. 
  • Fear: phobias including thunderstorms and general anxieties.
  • Inappropriate elimination: house soiling, marking, submissive/excitement urination.
  • Separation anxiety
  • Compulsive and repetitive behaviors: circling, tail chasing, excessive grooming, excessive barking, etc.
  • Senior disorders: nocturnal restlessness, cognitive dysfunction, and other anxieties
  • Preventative behavior issues: fear, anxieties, or aggression when introducing new pets or family members such as children.


Depending on our veterinarians’ assessment and your goals as the pet owner, we may offer suggestions for supplemental or pharmaceutical therapy, or recommend behavior modification with local Flagstaff trainers. 

Surgery in Flagstaff, AZ

We offer many different surgical options for pets, but the one surgical procedure we recommend to all dog and cat owners is to spay or neuter your pet. Spaying or neutering your pet helps control the pet homelessness crisis which results in many healthy dogs and cats being euthanized each year because there simply are not enough homes for them. Additionally, there are medical and behavioral benefits to spaying or neutering, including cancer prevention, especially mammary cancer in females, and prevention of roaming away from your home in search for a mate or undesirable territorial behaviors. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, our veterinarians are experienced in spaying and neutering small animals of all sizes and ages. We understand that no surgical procedure is minor from a pet owner’s perspective, but it is a routine procedure for us at Continental Animal Wellness Center, and we are here to answer any questions you may have. 

Orthopedic Surgery in Flagstaff, AZ

Hopefully your pet will never need surgery other than being spayed or neutered, but as with human beings, life happens and sometimes your pet will need other surgical procedures, including orthopedic surgery.  At our facility, we have a surgical suite for soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries that is equipped with both a CO2 surgical laser to minimize surgical bleeding and decrease pain. We also have cold laser therapy to aid in the healing of surgical incisions by decreasing inflammation and increasing blood flow to the surgical site. Our veterinarians have experience in a wide range of soft tissue and orthopedic procedures, so your pet will be in good hands.

Digital Radiology and Ultrasonography in Flagstaff, AZ

At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we offer digital radiology and ultrasonography services. Digital radiographs can give us information on bone and joint disease, abdominal organ size and displacement, and heart/lung evaluation. We also perform full-mouth dental radiographs when your pet is undergoing a dental cleaning in order to evaluate the health of your pet’s teeth at the root level. We offer ultrasonography to further evaluate abdominal organ architecture if your pet is exhibiting organ disease. We have a relationship with a board certified radiologist who can interpret our radiographs and provide valuable insight for the care of your pet. Let us know if you suspect your pet might need our radiology or ultrasonography services and we would be happy to help you! 

Oncology Care in Flagstaff, AZ

Learning that your pet is suffering from cancer can be very scary for you as the owner of your beloved friend. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we offer oncology consultations and evaluations in order to suggest the best therapy for your pet by providing information about your options and assisting you in choosing the right treatment protocol for your family member. We are here to answer any questions you have about cancer in your pet and what to expect during and after treatments. 

Diagnostics in Flagstaff, AZ

As part of an illness or injury exam, your veterinarian may order diagnostics testing, including fecal analysis, bloodwork, and urinalysis. We offer bloodwork diagnostics in our clinic laboratory, as well as sending samples to an outside reference laboratory. Used in conjunction with our radiology and ultrasonography services, we can get a better understanding of what may be causing your pet’s illness or injury and create a wellness plan to get them back to optimum health. 

End of Life

The most dreaded and heartbreaking time for a pet owner is when faced with end of life decisions for their pet. We want our pets to live forever, but we also don’t want them to suffer. End of life services are tough for everyone, including our veterinarians and staff, but it is a service we offer to help support you and your pet during the most difficult, painful, and tragic time. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we offer caring and compassionate relief either in our office or in the privacy and comfort of your home. 

Questions? Contact Us To Learn More!

Have you been searching for a “pet wellness clinic near me”? Look no further than Continental Animal Wellness Center. We are Flagstaff, Arizona’s go-to veterinary wellness center. We do it all! From that initial health visit when you first bring home your new companion, to routine annual checkups, surgeries, and more!  We are a family-oriented veterinary clinic and would love to welcome you and your new pet into our family. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and caring veterinarians. We have a host of online client forms and information on how to prepare yourself and your pet for your appointment or medical procedure here, which may answer some of your frequently asked questions. You are always welcome to call or email us and we will happily answer any questions you have!

Posted on

Pet and Dog Knee Surgery Services in Flagstaff, Arizona

Pet and Dog Knee Surgery

Football players, skiers, ice hockey players, and other athletes are not the only ones who can be sidelined by a knee injury. Just as athletes can tear their ACL and other knee tendons and ligaments during activities, your pet can also end up with a knee injury. Like human beings, pets have two cruciate ligaments within their knees that form a cross (which is where the name “cruciate” is derived). Like with humans, the front ligament is the one that gets injured and although often referred to as the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (“ACL”) it is technically the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (“CCL”) in our four-legged friends. Unlike humans where the injury onset is typically traumatic from sports, the onset with pets is frequently a gradual weakening of the ligament over time that is partly due to genetics with certain breeds having a higher incidence of needing pet knee surgery. At Continental Animal Wellness Center we have a team of highly skilled veterinarians with the proper training for performing dog knee surgery services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Pets are our family and there is nothing more stressful than seeing your pet injured and not knowing what is wrong because they cannot tell us. We put together this guide to help our fellow pet moms and dads know what to look for regarding knee injury.  

Symptoms of a Knee Injury in your Pet

The CCL ligament  stabilizes the entire knee and it prevents the tibia from shifting forward and the femur from shifting backwards. With a torn ligament, the joint becomes unstable causing discomfort and the following symptoms:

  1. Lameness: Your pet will start limping and may become so uncomfortable they will not put their foot down at all to bear weight on it. Onset can be gradual in which some pets may show on-and-off lameness over weeks or months. As a pet owner, you may be confused because your pet seems to get better when they rest but then becomes lame again when active. Onset can also be acute, where you hear a cry when your pet is playing, they immediately are lame, and it does not get better.
  2. Abnormal sitting: If your pets’ sitting posture changes, this can be a sign of pet knee injury. Your pet may sit or lie down with one leg sticking out to the side because it causes them discomfort to bend their knee. 
  3. Stiffness in both back legs: Most often, pet owners notice lameness in one leg first, but around 60% of pet knee surgery patients end up requiring dog CCL surgery in the other knee within two years. A CCL tear in dogs can sometimes happen in both knees at the same time and your pet will appear “stiff” in their hind end. Your dog may be reluctant to go for their normal walk or even get up off their bed at all. 
  4. Knee thickening and swelling: A dog torn CCL results in inflammation, swelling, and scar tissue that will develop in the area over time. This can result in the injured knee appearing bigger than the other non-injured knee. 
  5. Clicking: When your pet walks you may hear an actual “clicking” sound. The cruciate ligament in dogs stabilizes the knee and when injured, more stress is placed on other tendons and ligaments in the joint. The meniscus can also become torn or injured and can create a clicking sound and significant lameness is typically present when this shock-absorbing pad of cartilage is injured. 

Any time your pet is displaying any symptoms of discomfort it is crucial to get a proper diagnosis right away from your vet as soon as possible to prevent further damage and pain. Do not delay in scheduling an examination with your veterinarians at CAWC!

Facts about Pet and Dog Knee Surgery

Having your pet diagnosed with a knee ligament tear is a very scary time as a pet owner. Unfortunately, if your pet presents with a ligament tear, surgery is the only long term option for stabilizing the knee. Everyone wants to know what pet knee surgery consists of and what cruciate ligament dog surgery costs. All surgeries begin with an exploration of the knee joint to remove any and all torn ligaments. There are three types of surgical techniques being used in modern veterinary medicine for pet knee surgery and they are as follows:

  1. The extracaspular suture repair: At CAWC we perform this procedure on pets weighing 50 pounds or less.  A suture material is used to temporarily replace the torn ligament in the same diagonal direction that it was originally so the cranial drawer movement is minimized. Eventually, this false ligament may break, especially in larger dogs. The theory behind this is that your dog will build up scar tissue around the temporary ligament and will act as a long term stabilizer.
  2. Tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA): At CAWC we perform the TTA on all large breed dogs, especially those who are very active. With this surgery, the patellar tendon attachment on the tibia is moved forward and the tibia bone is cut, which allows the quadriceps muscle to take on the normal workload of your dog’s torn CCL. The patellar tendon is one of the strongest in the body and it is supported by the quadriceps, which is one of the biggest and strongest muscles in the body. By altering the biomechanics of the knee joint the patella tendon and quadriceps are used to stabilize the knee long term. With this procedure, we expect a return to full function when followed by proper recovery and rehabilitation. 
  3. Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO): In a normal knee, the top of the tibia slants at a backwards angle which allows the femur to slide backwards down the slope. When the ligament is torn the sliding causes pain. TPLO removes the backwards slant, stabilizes the knee, and changes the way the quadriceps muscle pulls on the tibia as it takes on the job of the torn ligament.

Discussing which type of procedure is right for your pet is one to have with your veterinarian. A major consideration for many pet owners is the price. What does cruciate ligament dog surgery cost?  Pet owners should anticipate paying from $1,200 to $5,500 depending on which type of procedure is chosen and who is doing the procedure. If you have pet insurance, your dog’s CCL surgery may be covered to some extent, so examine your contract to see what you will be responsible for paying. Talk to your veterinarian about the best surgical option for your budget, as each dog is an individual and should be treated as such. 

Recover from Knee Surgery for Dogs and Pets

Recovery from knee surgery lasts a total of 8 weeks and is broken into two phases. Phase one is rest and healing. Phase two is rehabilitation. During the first two weeks, your pet is resting and healing. You will need to keep your pet in a kennel with an e-collar on to limit their activity and promote healing. When outside of the kennel you must keep your dog on a leash at all times and walks should be very short to use the bathroom 2-3 times per day.  During the third and fourth weeks post-operation, the incision should be fully healed and you can begin to increase the length of your dog’s walks. You should also begin to incorporate massage and passive range of motion exercises as prescribed by your veterinarian.  Your pet should still be confined in their kennel when you are not actively doing these other activities.   

Phase two is about rehabilitation and it lasts four weeks. CAWC partners with The Rehab Nook for hydrotherapy and we also offer cold laser therapy.  During this phase, you will allow your dog to gradually increase their activities so they can rebuild muscle. Your pet should still live in their kennel, but walks can continue to increase in distance and frequency. Taking your dog on longer leash walks is how to gradually increase time on their paws while prohibiting running, jumping and playing. At the end of the 8 week period, all restrictions are lifted and your dog can return to mild off-leash activity in an enclosed area with no other pets around. 

Questions? Contact Us To Learn More About Pet and Dog Knee Surgery

We understand that pet knee surgery is scary for both you and your pet. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we have a team of experienced veterinarians. They will be with you every step of the way from examining your pet assessing if they have a torn ligament, discussing what type of procedure is best for your pet, performing the operation, and rehabilitation recommendations. We serve both large and small animals and we are Flagstaff’s trusted veterinary wellness clinic. Our mission is to provide extraordinary medicine and diagnostics with a focus on excellence in care and service. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your pet. 

Posted on

How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection to Your Dog or Cat

Subcutaneous fluid administration involves injecting fluids into the space under the skin (subcutaneous tissue) so it can be absorbed slowly into the body. While you may be nervous to administer sub Q fluids at first, we’re here to demonstrate how to give a subcutaneous injection to your dog or cat at home.

Hey everyone. It’s Kayla from Continental Animal Wellness Center. I’m here today to show you how to administer subcutaneous fluids (sub Q fluids) at home.

Step 1: Measure the Fluids

So, first off we have our fluid bag that contain, so I’ve already pre-marked it just so I know how many I’m giving so I can give the recommended amount. It already has a line in here, and I did bleed the line. What that means is that you open everything up here and you let the water run completely out so that there’s no bubbles or air into your line.

Step 2: Giving the Subcutaneous Injection to Your Dog or Cat

All right. And here I have Riley. He’s going to be our test subject today. So basically what I’m going to do here is I’m going to uncap this needle, and then when I start, I’m actually going to go over here to Riley. And I’m going to go ahead, and while keeping this needle completely sterile, I’m going to go ahead and grab just a chunk of his fur right on the back here. And you kind of can’t see because he’s pretty fluffy, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to make a little triangle here with my hands, right. And then right at the base of that triangle there, you’re just going to give him a poke.

You make sure that needle is in by just pinching that, you just want it to be under the skin, not through the other side. And from there, you’ll go ahead and lift your bag all the way up. Making sure that needle stays in, go ahead and open everything in your line completely. Go ahead and open this up. And by opening this up, you just roll that up this way. That is all the way up now. This is open. It’ll go up ahead and you’ll go ahead and just squeeze that bag, and you’ll see that nice even streaming there. That means that that is flowing. So you want to make sure you’re doing that.

While you are squeezing the bag, you want to go ahead and check your needle and make sure that there’s no fluids coming out anywhere else. If there are fluids coming up then your needle has been either poked all the way through or has come out. You’re going ahead and just squeezing that bag until they get the recommended dosage.

Step 3: Removing the Needle

As soon as they have gotten the recommended dosage, you’re going to go ahead and close that back off. Roll that all the way down, all while leaving the needle in so that you don’t spray yourself with any of the fluids. Then when you go ahead and pull that needle out, you’ll go ahead and put your finger just right over that, to make sure that it doesn’t bleed all the fluids out of there. And then any blood or fluids that you see just dribbling out is not to be unexpected. That is completely normal.

There usually will be a larger bump right here too when you’re done. That’s just the fluids under the skin. They will disperse over time, and that’s how they are absorbed and administered. And other than that, go ahead and cap your needle and you’re all finished.


Keep your pet healthy!

We hope you enjoyed the video and feel more confident when giving a subcutaneous injection to your dog or cat, from the comfort of your home. If you have questions, call us or schedule an appointment for your furry friend. Our team at Continental Animal Wellness Center is here to help keep your pet healthy!

To learn more, check out our second video blog about Sub Q injectsions!

Posted on

How Do You Give a Dog a Sub Q Injection?

After your dog’s health appointment at Continental Animal Wellness Center, you may find yourself in the position of having to give your dog a Sub Q injection at home. While you may be nervous at first, we’re here to show you how to administer subcuntaneous (Sub Q) fluids at home – and it’s easier than you may think!


Hey everyone. It’s Kayla from Continental Animal Wellness Center. And today, I’m going to be showing you how to do a sub Q injection at home.

How to Do a Sub Q Injection at Home

First, we have our needle and syringe, and we want to make sure that our needle always stays sterile. So we go ahead and take that off. You don’t want it to touch anything until we get to whatever we are injecting that day. So we’ll poke there, draw up whatever amount we need. I will go ahead and just draw up 1.5 for now, so right at that meniscus line. Pull that out. Go ahead and cap our needle. And now we are ready to give our injection.

And with that injection we just pulled up. We’re going to go ahead and uncap that. And with that needle sterile, we’re going to go ahead and pull up on his skin. See I’m making a triangle right here with that. We want to poke at the base of the triangle. So we’ll take that, poke right at the base there, and then you want to make sure that the needle is in. You can kind of feel it under the skin and not through the other side. And then we’re going to go ahead and draw back just a little bit, make sure that there’s no flash of blood in there. And then you can go ahead and give your sub Q injection, pull that out. And then after that, you’ll go ahead and recap and dispose of that needle.

Contact us with questions about your pet’s health!

Our team at Continental Animal Wellness Center is here to keep Flagstaff pets healthy! If you have questions about administering Sub Q fluids at home, contact us!

Posted on

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears may seem daunting if you don’t know where to start, but with a dog ear cleaner, a handy helper, and a tasty treat nearby, we know you can do it! If your dog loves rolling around in the mud during Flagstaff’s rainy season, dives right into in Lake Mary, or just loves that fresh and clean feeling that comes with an ear cleaning, we’re here to help! With a few simple steps, you can keep your canine’s ears healthy and clean. If you’re a cat lover instead, follow these steps along with your feline friend!

And today we’re going to show you how to clean your dog’s ears.

This is Tilly and she spends a lot of time outside in the dirt, and so she’s here for a maintenance cleaning.

What type of pet ear cleaner should I use?

We recommend using this MalAcetic Otic Cleanser when you clean your dog’s ears because it has evaporative properties. Unlike water, if any excess liquid is stuck in the ear, it will evaporate and prevent ear infections. This ear cleaning solution is also all natural and hypoallergenic, so it’s a great choice for most pets.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Okay, so now we’re just going to pour some liquid into her ear there, and it’s important to massage the ear cartilage so that all of the ear cleaner can get in the ear. We’ll do that for about 30 seconds.

Quick Tip: Have a second hand to help you in this process!

Now we recommend cleaning her ear with either cotton balls or gauze pads. We don’t recommend Q-tips because her eardrum is right around the corner of her ear and it’s very sensitive, so we don’t want to get it. Now we’ll just go in here and clean it out there and get all that dirt out, as well as the excess ear cleaner. It’s important that you never want to go further into the ear then your hand can go, and we just wipe it out; and one ear’s done.

All right, now we will repeat on Tilly’s next ear.

Now Tilly is feeling nice and refreshed. Some important things to know before cleaning your pet’s ears are, if you have any suspicion of a foxtail or infection in the ear, it’s important to bring them in to see us first. Also, if they have a head tilt or develop a head tilt after an ear cleaning, it’s also important to bring them in to see us. Maintenance cleaning should be no more than once a week.

And also, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or contact us to learn more about cleaning your dog’s ears!

Posted on

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Hi everyone, Morgan here at Continental Animal Wellness Center. And this is Delilah. Today we’re going to show you how to brush your dog’s teeth. Brushing your dog’s teeth is an important step in preventing dental disease and other complications, and it’s probably easier than you think!

Dog Dental Cleaning Can Prevent Dental Disease

Dental disease is a real thing that can occur in your pet’s mouth and brushing their teeth can help keep their gums healthy and prevent this.

Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Your Dog or Cat

Choose an enzymatic toothpaste for your pet:

It is important that you get an enzymatic toothpaste. The enzymes in this toothpaste target plaque, and does not have to be rinsed.

Don’t use your own toothpaste because human toothpaste has fluoride and other detergents that cannot be swallowed by our pets. Also, do not use baking soda or salt because these are high in alkaline content, and if swallowed, it can upset the acid balance in your pet’s stomach.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth is easier than you think!

For first time brushers, put a bit of toothpaste on your finger and invite your pet to lick at and then slowly try and get it on their gum line and their teeth around.

Once they’re used to this, then you can use a toothbrush and brush their teeth in a circular motion, getting their teeth and their gums all the way back in their mouth.

How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?

For best results, brush your pet’s teeth three to four times a week.

Schedule Your Pet’s Annual Dental Appointment

We also recommend getting your pet a yearly dental to see Dr. Bruchman or Dr. Dobbin so they can take a closer look at your pet’s mouth and up underneath that gum line.

Contact us to schedule your pet’s dental appointment (and check out this Dental Package for a special deal!)


Posted on

Death by Chocolate, Easter Bunny Arrested

Happy Easter!

Easter is right around the corner and we all know what sorts of delicious goodies that cute little hoppin’ rascal likes to hide around the house and put on our countertops. We as humans are very appreciative of the endeavor, but our curious little fur babies are often more at risk than we realize. Many human treats are toxic to dogs and cats, but chocolate is one of the worst ones. Clinical signs range from minimal agitation and GI upset to seizures and coma to eventually death. Factors affecting the severity of the intoxication are the weight of the animal, the type of chocolate, and the amount ingested. So, if your animal eats some of the Easter Bunny’s offerings, call your veterinarian ASAP. Time is really of the essence because recent ingestions are often best handled by causing the pet to vomit. There are safe ways to do this in hospital and there is the old-fashioned way of giving hydrogen peroxide. It should be noted that although often effective, hydrogen peroxide is a caustic substance and can cause secondary esophagitis (inflammation and ulceration of the esophagus) which can in turn cause problems for your pet. If ingestion occurred hours ago, we have some really neat stuff we can give your pet orally that can help decrease absorption further down the GI tract since it would be unlikely that any chocolate would still be in the stomach after that long. IV fluids are also extremely important in the recovery from any intoxication as well.

Dilution is the solution to pollution! Prevention is the preferred option so keep that chocolate out of reach. Early intervention is the next best plan. Let’s keep “Death by chocolate” nothing more than the title of a really good ice cream flavor and keep that Easter Bunny in business.

See the chocolate toxicity meter at to get an idea of how little chocolate it takes, especially dark chocolate, to do harm.


Posted on

Your Dog’s Dental Cleaning at CAWC

We take you step by step through your dog’s dental cleaning with us!

Hello everyone. It’s Remi here at Continental Animal Wellness Center. Today, we wanted to take you through step by step what a dental cleaning looks like here with us. We know how important your pets are to you. I know, because I’ve got my own at home. I can remember the first time I brought one of them in for a procedure and how I was a little nervous too, especially when I didn’t know what was happening behind the scenes. So here is our way of allowing you to go through that procedure with us.

So let’s take a look:

Hey everybody. It’s Dr. Bruchman. I just wanted to show you guys what a dental looks like in our practice. So when your pets come in for a dental cleaning, we’re going to take you from start to finish today on what they experience here at the clinic. This is my own personal dog, Jamie.

She’s here today for her yearly dental cleaning. So she’s going to be a good sport and just show you what it’s all about today.

Step 1: The Dental Exam

So what we do to start out with is when your pets get dropped off, they first get a full exam. So what we’re going to be doing is listening to their heart, looking at their gums, checking their lung sounds, temperature, just making sure that they are fit for anesthesia. So we’ll go ahead and do that on Jamie here today. We’re going to check her gum color. It looks great. We already took her temperature this morning. We’re going to listen to her heart.

What a great dog. She already got her body weight. And so we basically have had our physical exam once we get all of those parameters going.

Step 2: Placing a Catheter

The next thing that will happen is we are going to get an IV catheter placed in one of her front legs. And we’re going to draw some blood on her this morning to start running on our in-house machine. And we’ll show you what that looks like in a second. We’re making sure, basically, that all of her organs are functioning normally before we place her under anesthesia today. So we’re going to get going on all of that.

You see Jamie’s got a catheter in there. The reason we set IV catheters on all of our anesthetic patients is in order to administer some of our drugs intravenously. We use that catheter for that reason. We also give everybody IV fluids during that procedure. And so we use this catheter to give them the fluids. It’s also great to have a catheter in all animals undergoing anesthesia in order to help us. If there’s any sort of complications that we have while they’re under anesthesia, we can quickly give them drugs to help with that anesthetic event. And so for a safety reason, we always recommend every animal have an IV catheter placed.

Step 3: Blood Test & Anesthesia

Easy peasy. All right. So we got Jamie’s blood pulled. And what we did is we ran it on our in-house analyzer. We’re able to do full CBCs and chemistries here in the clinic. So within 10 minutes, we can get your dog’s blood work pulled up on this screen and ran.

It looks like today, what we’re looking at is Jamie’s glucose, her kidney values, her liver values, some electrolytes, protein levels, all of that looks great. So what that tells me is that Jamie’s healthy, her organs are functioning properly and she’s ready for anesthesia. So we’ll go ahead and get her placed under anesthesia. And then we’ll check back in with you and show you the next process, which will be her dental x-rays and exam.

Step 4: Dental X-Rays

All right. So Jamie is under anesthesia now. What we’re doing is we’re getting our dental x-rays taken. So Kayla’s getting her plates in Jamie’s mouth and getting our tube lined up. She’ll be taking those films for us. It’s just the same equipment that when you go to the dentist, you’re going to be getting the same kind of dental x-rays.

Again, these guys have to be under anesthesia in order to get a proper cleaning and proper x-rays because as you can see, there’s no way a dog would let you open his mouth, stick these nice fragile plates in there and take x-rays with them awake. We’ll also talk about why we need to anesthetize them for the cleaning part in just a second.

Some things that you can notice is Jamie’s got a monitor on her tongue right now. This is measuring her oxygenation and her heart rate for us. So we’re watching that very closely during anesthesia. She also, with that IV catheter we talked about, she’s got IV fluids flowing right now.

And again, if we needed to give her any sort of medications, we can quickly administer that through the catheter. We also have her hooked up to our anesthetic machine. We’re watching her take breaths. We’re monitoring her anesthetic gas through that machine. And then while she’s also in this position, we’ll be going through and cutting all of her nails.

Step 5: Your Dog’s Dental Cleaning

So we’ve finished our x-rays and now we’re moving on to the cleaning process. So over here, Kayla, is scaling Jamie’s teeth. The biggest reason why your pet needs to be under anesthesia for this process is what’s going on right now. The scaling is what is pulling the calculus off of Jamie’s teeth. It is so important to get under that gum line behind the teeth, on the sides of the teeth, every little area on that tooth needs to get cleaned. And there’s no way on an awake dog you can do a thorough job cleaning those teeth.

You can also see that Jamie has a tube protecting her airway right now that she’s breathing through. That tube is so important to protect her airway because as you can see with the cleaning, there’s a lot of water involved. What we’re doing is cleaning off a lot of bacteria on her teeth, and that could be aspirated if she did not have a tube protecting her airway.

So when you do see dogs getting awake dental cleanings, without anesthesia, very commonly, you will see aspiration pneumonia associated with it because they inhale and that water goes into their lungs and sets up an infection, which we want to avoid. So she’s going to continue cleaning. Come with me. We’re going to take a look at her x-rays.

Step 5: Analyze the X-Rays

So Jamie has got all of her x-rays up on the screen. This allows me to quickly take a glance under her gum line. What I’m taking a look at is all of the tooth structures. I’m looking at the pulp cavity. I’m looking at the bone. I’m looking at how those teeth are oriented in her mouth. And so these x-rays are so important for me to help make a diagnosis on what’s going on in your dog’s mouth and identify any teeth that may be causing your dog any sort of pain. Dental x-rays are a wonderful way for us to identify teeth that otherwise may look healthy from the surface, but below the surface, there’s actually something going on. So dental x-rays are a crucial part of what we do. Once I take a look at all of my x-rays, I will then go perform an exam on Jamie’s mouth, which I’ve already done.

I will inspect all of her teeth. I will look at them with my own eyes and see if there’s anything else that x-ray is not picking up that I can identify. We’ll usually take a probe and we will go along all of her teeth and look for any pockets, just the same as when you go to the dentist as well. So all of that will happen at that point. If I identify anything on these x-rays or on Jamie’s exam, that tells me a tooth needs to be extracted, that’s when I would pick up the phone to you, the owner, and call you and say, “Hey, I found under Spot’s exam today that we need to take out two teeth or four teeth,” whatever it is. So that way you’re informed through this whole process on what we’re going to have to do on your pet today. But x-rays, and that exam are such a crucial part to what we’re doing in this dental cleaning today.

Step 6: Polishing Your Dog’s Teeth

So we’re back to Jamie’s cleaning. So now that we’re done with her scaling, Kayla’s going through and polishing all of her teeth. This is an important part to help protect her enamel and seal it. And so we’re carefully going through and polishing all of those teeth. The last part of this cleaning process is going to be applying a fluoride coat to the cleaned teeth in her mouth. And we’ll do that right before we wake Jamie up. So now you’ve seen basically the full process of what it looks like when your dog comes in for a dental cleaning, start to finish.


Regular dental cleanings are a vital part of keeping your pet healthy. If you have ever had a bad tooth, then perhaps you can imagine what they feel when they have one as well. However, buildup of tartar and plaque can also lead to periodontal disease, which can lead to worse conditions, such as contributing to heart, liver and kidney disease. Doing regular dental cleanings and at home dental care, such as teeth brushing and checking the teeth yourself, can help prevent dental disease. We recommend annual checkups to make sure your pet’s teeth are healthy. And one of our doctors will recommend a dental when it is time.

Signs that your pet might need one now could be bad breath, tooth loss, change in chewing habits, or decrease in appetite. If you are ever unsure, just give us a call or set up an appointment. We also have a dental package that includes everything you saw in the video today. This package is listed on our website at So, we really hope that you enjoyed going through the dental with Jamie today. And we hope to see you all soon.

Posted on

Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Happy May everyone! Check out our latest video on benefits of spaying or neutering your cat or dog!

Hey everyone, it’s Remi again at Continental Animal Wellness Center, and welcome back to another one of our video blogs. Today we’re talking about puppies and kittens, and we’re talking about exactly what they need, which is vaccines and their spay and neuter, so let’s tune in with Dr. Dobbin to see what she has to say:

Spaying and Neutering in Flagstaff, Arizona

Hi, I’m Dr. Dobbin at Continental Animal Wellness Center and spring is in the air, which basically means puppies and kittens everywhere, so I feel like this would be a good time to talk a little bit about spaying and neutering of our pets.

Health Benefits of Spaying or Neutering

So there are quite a few health benefits to early spaying and neutering. By early spaying and neutering I mean at or around five months of age. Here are just a few examples:

  • If you spay an animal before their first heat, you virtually eliminate the risk of breast cancer.
  • If you spay an animal at any age, you eliminate the risk of pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus and often ends up as a surgical emergency.
  • Early neutering of our pets can decrease prostate disease as well as some testosterone-driven behavior such as being bit by another animal and/or hit by a car.
  • Any animal – cat/dog male/female – there have been some studies that show sterilized animals actually live, on average, longer than they’re intact counterparts.

So now let’s shift gears to something else:

Overpopulation & Spaying or Neutering

Every 11 seconds in the United States in a shelter, a cat or a dog is euthanized. That amounts to about 10,000 a day. Up to 50% of litters are accidental and/or unwanted so, in theory, by early spaying and neutering, you would prevent a lot of that euthanasia due to overpopulation.

It should also be mentioned that gestation of parturition, aka pregnancy and delivery, has its own complications as well.

When to Spay or Neuter:

So now you’ve kind of heard the two main benefits that I feel strongly about, so the question is when do I spay or neuter? And that is a very good question, and if you do a lot of research, do your homework, you will be very confused because there really is no perfect 100 percent of the time right answer to that question. For the two reasons I mentioned as well as from a surgeon’s perspective, early spaying and neutering equals smaller incision, less anesthesia time, therefore faster recovery. So health benefits, over-population and surgery, in and of itself, is the reason that here at Continental, we do recommend the early spay neuter which, once again, is a door around five months of age.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. I just encourage you to include your veterinarian in on your discussion, and if you’ve recently adopted any cute puppies or kittens, bring them on down to see us and check out our awesome puppy and kitten package.


Many of us know that our puppies need vaccines but what do they need, how many do they need and what are they even being vaccinated for?

Let’s talk exactly about that:

What vaccines do our puppies need?

Well, first of all, let’s start by setting up the very first appointment when our puppy is six to eight weeks of age. At that time, that’s when they’re gonna get the very first vaccine.

Vaccination Schedule

That first vaccine is the DA2PP vaccine. What that vaccine is is actually a lot of vaccines all-in-one, and it stands for the distemper virus, adenovirus, parainfluenza virus and the parvovirus. Distemper parvo is pretty common in Flagstaff so that’s why it’s so important to get those two on board first so your pet has at least some protection and some immunity against distemper and parvo right off the bat. So that’s why, once again, at six to eight weeks we’re gonna come in and get that first vaccine. After that, every three to four weeks, we’re going to come in for another booster of that vaccine until about four months of age. Then we’re gonna get our final one-year vaccine and that’s gonna be the final distemper parvo combo vaccine and then our final one-year rabies vaccine.

Now, when they come in a year later for the next vaccine after that, then we can get three-year vaccines, but as puppies we still don’t have that full immunity yet. We’re still growing, so that’s why we want to booster vaccines so that we can get that full immunity and they can be fully protected.

So one misconception that a lot of people have is they’re gonna get all these puppy vaccines and then they have that one-year vaccine, they’re gonna come back in and they’re gonna get a three year vaccine and then they’re done. Their puppy’s vaccinated and good for life. Well actually, no.

So, over time, that immunity actually decreases and your dog needs to be revaccinated so we recommend after all these puppy vaccines, your dog is going to need to come back every three years for the rest of his lifetime to keep up this immunity. So that’s why it’s so important that not only are we bringing in your puppy, but also your older dogs as well to make sure that we’re always keeping up with our vaccines so we’re always protective against these viruses.

The Bordetella Vaccine

Now, on top of these two vaccines, there’s one more vaccine that I wanted to mention that’s really important to vaccinate for as well and that’s gonna be the bordetella vaccine. Bordetella is a component of kennel cough. Kennel cough is a terrible cough or hack that your pet can get and, just like a common cold for us, it can be passed by touching noses when dogs are sniffing each other or by sharing dog bowls or things like that. So any dog that’s going into boarding, grooming, or dog parks, or even just hanging out downtown or going into your local Petsmart or Petco, they can pick up kennel cough there. So we also recommend vaccinating for bordetella, and that one is vaccinated once a year or, if you’re going into kenneling, every six months.

So those are our three main vaccines that we vaccinate for here in Flagstaff. That’s the kennel cough, which is bordetella, that distemper parvo and rabies.

Caring for Your New Pet in Flagstaff

Caring for a new pet can be a lot of work! Spaying or Neutering and vaccinations are just two of the first things you should do to keep your cat or dog healthy and happy. If you have any questions, call us or contact us to schedule an appointment.