The Animal Health Bulletin
Healing Springs Animal Hospital
Serving Family & Farm Since 1979
Dogs, Cats, Equine, Bovine, Small Ruminants, Camelid
Healing Springs Animal Hospital
107 Nuckolls Curve Rd
Galax, VA
(276) 236-5103


Volume II, Issue VIII

August 2006


        Dogs Poisoned by Sugar Substitute, Xylitol

        What’s the Life Expectancy of My Pet?

        Parasite Control for Sheep and Goats



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Free Senior Wellness Clinic

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Learn more about the importance of Senior Wellness Screenings.

All dogs and cats will receive a free physical exam by a trained veterinary assistant, recommendations for overall wellbeing, and free samples.

Discounts on geriatric blood work and Science Diet senior foods will also be available at this time.


Schedule an appointment today!

Call 236-5103

Or log into Pet Portals and make an appointment online. Login



Dogs Poisoned by Sugar Substitute, Xylitol


Manufacturers worldwide have been using Xylitol as a sugar substitute in products such as sugar-free gum for decades.  Due to the growing popularity of Xylitol in the United States, the rate of cases of canine Xylitol toxicity has been more than doubling since 2004.  While Xylitol is FDA approved for human consumption, small amounts of Xylitol can be fatal to dogs, and research is pending regarding Xylitol’s effects on other animals.  Manufacturers use Xylitol in gum products such as Trident White Gum, Spry, Sparx, and Smint.  Xylitol also is sold under various names as a household cooking ingredient. 


How Much is Too Much?  It had been previously reported that only large quantities of Xylitol would harm dogs.  However, recent reports suggest that quantities as low as two sticks of Trident gum may cause serious health problems in a 20lb dog. 


What Happens to Dogs?  While Xylitol does not require insulin for metabolism, Xylitol triggers insulin production in dogs.  The excess insulin causes normal blood sugar levels to drop rapidly (hypoglycemia).  Clinical signs of Xylitol toxicity include depression, vomiting, imbalance, weakness, or depression.  Seizures may result.  Xylitol ingestion has also been associated with liver failure in dogs, but research on that subject is still pending. 


Xylitol and Humans:  Proponents of Xylitol for human consumption have boasted a number of health benefits including discouraging tooth decay, reducing plaque, avoiding sugar spikes, preventing osteoporosis, and even preventing ear infections.  Dentists across the U.S. have joined the ranks of Xylitol supporters.  For this reason, it is difficult to recommend against pet owners buying Xylitol products. 


What Pet Owners Should Do:  While you may think of a Xylitol product as a tasty treat while it is in your mouth, think of it as a pet poison while it is on your counter or in your purse.  Always keep products containing Xylitol well out of reach of your pets (preferably in drawers, top pantry shelves, or medicine cabinets).  The standard recommendation is never to feed your pet products containing Xylitol.  However, we think it may be a little too complicated to ask people read all the ingredients in their gum and remember which ones contain which sugar substitutes.  You may find it less complicated simply to not feed to your dogs and cats candy or manufactured products intended for human consumption.  Even home baked goods from someone else’s oven may contain this sugar substitute.  Sweets in general are bad for pet oral health.  Dogs and cats get a thrill out of meat-flavored treats that were actually designed for them, so it’s best to stick with pet treats for pets.


If your pet consumes a product containing Xylitol, call Healing Springs immediately and arrange an emergency visit.  Healing Springs is on-call 24/7/365 to see your veterinary emergencies (please reserve questions for normal business hours).  Serious health consequences including seizures can develop as early as 30 minutes after ingestion.  It may be appropriate to induce vomiting using hydrogen peroxide.  Healing Springs can administer a dextrose constant-rate infusion to control moderate to severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).    Healing Springs can monitor blood sugar values as your dog recovers.  You may also want to request a screening for liver function if your dog has suffered a Xylitol toxicity.


Healing Springs Top Picks for Dog and Cat Treats
















Dental Care products for your pets


What’s the Life Expectancy of My Pet?


Common varieties of pets have widely varying life expectancies.  In the cases of cats and dogs, understanding life expectancies can help you arrange healthcare and potentially extend your pet’s quality of life.  Healing Springs recommends annual senior wellness screenings beginning around ages 7 to 8 for cats and small to medium sized dogs.  Large breed dogs should begin their senior wellness screenings around age 5.  The idea that one can multiply a pet’s actual age by a certain number to estimate the human equivalent age does not work well.  Cats and dogs tend to mature extremely quickly in youth and then mature more steadily in adulthood.  The charts at the end of this article show more realistic human – cat – dog age comparisons.



Here are some life expectancies for popular pets.


Hamsters – 3 years

Gerbils – 2 years

Guinea pigs and rabbits – 6 years

Parrots – 30 years


Cats:  Ferrell cats only live six to eight years.  The average life span of a neutered, domestic cat (excluding accidental deaths) is 14 years.  There is evidence that the average life span of cats is on the rise, and exceptions are common.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest cat ever was Creme Puff who had reached the age of 37 in 2004. 


Dogs:  Large breed dogs have shorter lives.  Giant breeds, such as Great Danes,  rarely live beyond seven to nine years.  Heavy breeds, such as Rottweilers, usually only live into their early teens.  Small, mixed-breed dogs often live into their late teens.  Dog lives are more variable than other species, because the domesticated dog is such a varied species.  The quality of care they receive, whether or not they are neutered, and the safety of their home environment can all be significant factors in the lifespan of a dog.  


Dog Training hosted by Healing Springs


Cat to Human Years



Cat Age

Comparable Human Age



2-3 months

9-12 months



4 months

2-3 years



6-12 months

12-15 years

Sexually mature.  Able to breed.  May have not reached full stature.


2 years

24 years



3-6 years

28-40 years



6-9 years

40-52 years

Middle age spread


9-13 years

52-65 years



13-17 years

65-85 years

Decreased bone density likely.  Increased consideration to possible fragility should be given.


17-19 years

83-92 years



19-22 years

92-100 years



22+ years

100 + years









Dog to Human Years



The old adage that one dog year equals 7 human years does not accurately reflect puppyhood.  This ratio developed by French veterinarian A. LeBeau is probably more accurate. 


Dog Age

Comparable Human Age


3 months

5 years



6 months

10 years



12 months

15 years

Capable of reproduction.


2 years

24 years



4 years

32 years

Metabolism slowing down.


6 years

40 years



8 years

48 years



10 years

56 years



14 years

72 years



18 years

91 years






Parasite Control for Sheep and Goats


This article was excerpted from lecture notes developed by Dr. Heather Jenkins and presented at the Sheep Producer’s Meeting held at Galax Farm Supply on February 2006.  To see the entire lecture notes on vaccinations and reproduction management

Click Here


Viewing the file linked above requires a free version of Adobe PDF reader.  To download the reader, click here: Get Adobe Reader


Learn how to body condition score a sheep: Oregon State University


Parasite control and resistance to dewormers is now a big problem in sheep and goat production.  The most common intestinal parasite is Haemonchus contortus, “the barber pole worm.”   Resistance will be specific to each individual farm.  The best way to determine the level of parasite resistance on your farm is to do frequent fecals and maintain good deworming records.  Fecals prior and post deworming will help determine which dewormers work for individual farms.  Several theories on deworming exist.  Change dewormers with the season.  Use fecals to determine when to deworm.  Collect a representative sample consisting of 5% of the flock.  Use a Haemonchus eye chart and only deworm the ones that need it.  Cull all ewes/does that repeatedly need deworming.  Only keep the ewes/does that do not require frequent dewormings.  Cydectin is now approved for sheep in an oral drench formation.  Do keep in mind that there is a large resistance to the avermectin family.  Fasting the sheep or goats prior to deworming and combining dewormers may enhance performance.   Examples are Synanthic with Dectomax and Valbazen and Ivermectin.







Mobile Veterinary Service Area expanded to Floyd.  See Map.





VALBAZEN:  3ml/100lb  (do not use in pregnant animals)

DECTOMAX/IVERMECTIN: 1ml/75lb using the injectable form orally

SYNANTHIC 22.5%:  2ml/100lb orally

CYDECTIN-CATTLE POUR-ON:  5ml/100lb orally

CYDECTIN-SHEEP DRENCH:  1ml/11lb orally

LEVAMISOLE:  2.5ml/100lb subcutaneous (problems have been associated with injections)



Tips to control parasites:

Feed off the ground

Rotational grazing

Deworm and move to clean pastures (pasture free of small ruminants for one year)

Graze hay fields after first cutting






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(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


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