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 X

October 2006


        Dog Weight Loss Contest and Other Upcoming Events

        Swiffer WetJet Deemed Safe around Pets (reader requested)

        Fescue Facts (Horses, Cows, Goats)

        Humane Society’s Pet Tree



Pet Portals Login






Upcoming Events



Free Grooming Clinic


Free samples and tips regarding a well-groomed pet will be provided during our Grooming Clinic on

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. 


Meet the groomer at Healing Springs, Caroline Hill. 


Schedule an appointment online with your Pet Portals account or call us at


(276) 236-5103


Halloween Pet Costume Contest


Dress up your pet and bring it to Healing Springs on Halloween Day, October 31, 2006.


Healing Springs will give a treat bag to all costumed pets.  We will photograph costumed pets and enter them to win the grand prize:


A free Lupine pet collar, free bath, and free deworming.


Photographs of costumed pets will be posted in the lobby for all to enjoy. 


Purina OM dog food for weight controlBiggest Pet Loser Contest

Use this fun contest to get lots of support and discounted, high-quality food to help your chubby buddy lose weight.   The winner gets 100 pounds of free Purina dog or cat food, and everyone gets a healthier pet.


Healing Springs will team up with Purina to see whose dog or cat can have the highest percentage weight loss in three months.  Contestants must use Purina OM Dog Food or Purina OM Cat Food.  All contestants will get $10 off all OM Food purchases (this makes some package sizes free).  Contestants will all have an initial weigh-in and will weigh in every two weeks at Healing Springs.  Contestants need not be clients of Healing Springs, but the discounted Purina OM must be purchased at Healing Springs. 


Want to participate?  Sign up to be notified when the date for the initial weigh-in is set.

Sign-Up Now Online

Or call us at (276) 236-5103


Skin, Coat, & Grooming Products – Buy Online from Healing Springs


Swiffer WetJet Deemed Safe Around Pets


swiffer_front.jpgChain e-mails have asserted that Swiffer WetJet uses an ingredient similar to antifreeze and that standard use of the product causes liver failure in dogs and cats.  The reader who requested this article and most people reading these unfounded allegations were naturally skeptical, but we thought it would be nice to provide some details to put shoppers at ease.  Swiffer WetJet is a household cleaning product by Proctor & Gamble (P&G).  The assertions are unfounded and - as far as we can tell - undocumented.  


The cleaning agent used by the Swiffer WetJet product is 90% to 99% water.  The solution sprayed out by the product contains only 1% to 4% propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether and isopropyl alcohol.  Toxicologists at the ASPCA Poison Control Center have stated that these chemicals are safe around pets at the low concentrations specified by P&G.  P&G points out that over the past five years, more than 38 million households have cleaned with Swiffer products.  If the Swiffer cleaning solution were toxic to pets, it is likely that there would be many verifiable and documented incidents.  This cleaning solution poses no more threat to the safety of animals than any other cleaning solution. 


The harmful ingredient in antifreeze is ethylene glycol.  Ethylene glycol causes renal failure, not liver failure.  The names of the chemicals in the Swiffer solution sound like ethylene glycol but are not chemically similar to ethylene glycol.  ASPCA Poison Control Center toxicologists verify that the ingredients in the Swiffer cleaning solution cause neither liver failure nor kidney failure.  Feel free to Swiffer!


The text of the e-mail Rumor on a pet blog




ASPCA Poison Control statement on Swiffer WetJet




Pet Odor & Stain Removal Products Recommended by the Vets of Healing Springs




Statement from P&G about the safety of Swiffer WetJet


Fescue Facts (Horses, Cows, Sheep)


For many horse owners, foaling season is three months away.  So it’s time to review our understanding of fescue.  Fescue can compromise the health of cows and goats, and it can have disastrous effects on pregnant mares.  Contrary to popular belief, fescue may also be harmful to all horses, not just pregnant mares.  If you believe that one or your animals suffers from fescue toxicity, make an appointment with Healing Springs Animal Hospital.


About Fescue:

Technically, fescue is not poisonous to animals.  An endophyte fungus that commonly infects tall fescue produces toxic alkaloid substances.  The toxins produced by the endophyte fungus interfere with normal hormone systems in animals and cause constriction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction). 


Not all fescue is endophyte infected.  We will use the term E+ fescue to refer to endophyte infected grass and E- fescue to refer to endophyte free grass.  Fescue proves to be a hardy, nutritious grass.  The endophyte that infects fescue actually helps the fescue by making it more insect resistant.  E+ fescue proves hardier than E- fescue.  The endophyte literally lives between the cells of the grass.  The endophyte infection spreads through seeds.  Transmission of the endophyte infection by touch or other means is limited.  Tall fescue is pictured here (click to enlarge).


The Effects of Fescue:

Decreased Blood Flow & Increased Body Temperature: Cattle and sheep fed E+ tall fescue experience constricting blood vessels and decreased blood flow near the skin.  Since moving warm blood near the skin is a common temperature control mechanism in mammals, this vasoconstriction also results in increased body temperature.  Because horses are more capable of sweating than cattle and sheep, horses do not demonstrate increases in body temperature because of E+ fescue consumption.  However, researchers have noted increased sweating in horses grazing E+ fescue.


Fescue Foot & Laminitis:  E+ fescue toxicity causes blood flow to the body parts farthest from the heart to decrease.  Cattle and sheep poisoned by E+ fescue sometimes experience gangrene of the feet and tail.  Gangrene usually affects the rear feet (a condition known as fescue foot) and/or the tip of the tail. 


It is commonly believed that horses are not at risk from fescue toxicity unless they are pregnant.  However, research dating back to 1995 correlates the consumption of E+ fescue with an increased risk of laminitis.  This makes sense in as much as laminitis is a condition resulting from decreased blood flow to the hooves.  (Click here to learn more about laminitis.)  (Rhorbach BW, Green EM, Oliver JW, et al. “Aggregate risk study of exposure to endophyte-infested (Acremonitini coenophialuni) tall fescue as a risk factor for laminitis in horses. Am J Vet. Res 56: 22-26.)


Reduced Milk Yields:  E+ fescue can cause reduced milk yields in both cattle and sheep.  In horses and rabbits, milk yield can be reduced or eliminated (agalactia- no milk yield).  The milk of aglactic mares often appears as a brown or straw-colored, oily fluid.  This fluid has little nutritional value, and it cannot sustain a foal.  Even when the mare’s milk does look normal, the effects of E+ fescue toxicity can cause the mare to produce substandard milk that does not properly support the foal’s immune system.


Reduced Growth in Calves and Foals:  When calves, foals, or rabbits consume E+ fescue, a reduction in feed intake and a slower rate of weight gain can occur.    Yearling horses can grow at normal rates while eating E+ fescue as long as other nutritional feed is supplied.  However, yearling horses fed only E+ fescue can experience a 57% reduction in average daily weight gains. 


Reduced Semen Volume:  An experiment published in 1996 by the Journal of Animal Science measured the effects of a toxin very similar to the toxin found on E+ fescue.  They found that the toxin decreased the volume of semen produced by stallions upon sexual stimulation.  Therefore, it has been widely speculated that grazing on E+ fescue may reduce semen volume from stallions.


Fescue and Pregnant Mares:  The types of problems and the severity of problems caused by E+ fescue can range broadly.  For instance, horse herds suffering fescue toxicity can experience a third trimester fetal death rate anywhere between 0% and 100%.  The problems for pregnant mares include:

·        delayed pregnancy rates

·        early embryonic death

·        prolonged gestation (up to 60 extra days of gestation)

·        abortion

·        premature separation of the chorion (red bag)

·        dystocia (difficult birth)

·        thickened placenta

·        retained placenta & difficulty rebreeding

·        aglactia (suppression of lactation / no milk)


Fescue and Foals:  Fescue toxicity for the mare or foal can cause:

·        hypothyroidism (poor suckling reflex, incoordination, low body temperature)

·        abnormal foal maturation

·        weakness

·        starvation (due to dam’s inadequate milk production)

·        compromised immune system


Overview of Fescue and Cattle: E+ fescue has been connected with a number of syndromes in cattle:

·        Summer Slump: general fescue toxicosis causing slower gains, decreased milk production, poor appetite, retention of winter coat, reproductive problems, and elevated temperature.  Diarrhea may also be present.  Summer slump occurs most commonly in warmer months, but it can occur any time of year.

·        Fescue Foot: necrosis of the extremities (tissue death at the points farthest from the heart such as the tip of the tail, ears, and rear feet).  Fescue foot tends to develop in the late fall and winter.  Another name for this necrosis is “dry gangrene.”

·        Fat Necrosis: when areas of fat inside the abdomen die


How Much is Too Much:  There exists little science to provide a direct answer to the question of how much E+ fescue is too much.  It does seem that diluting fescue consumption with the consumption of other forage helps.  Ruminants (such as cattle and sheep) prove far more tolerant of endophyte toxins than horses.  Their four stomach digestive system allows for pre-gastric metabolism of the alkaloids, while the equine digestive system exposes the horse to a larger proportion of unaltered alkaloids that are consumed.  Experts and veterinarians have reported E+ fescue toxicosis in horses resulting from consuming tiny quantities such as small quantities in hay, small patches in paddocks, and even small amounts grazed from underneath paddock fences.  


How to Prevent E+ Fescue Toxicity

Pasture Management: Of course, the most thorough answer, albeit not always the practical answer, is to completely rid the pasture of E+ fescue (especially for horses since they are more sensitive to endophyte toxins).  Attempting to completely rid a pasture of E+ fescue may require herbicide on the fescue sword followed by aggressive choke crops for two years before re-seeding is attempted.  When you are attempting pasture management, you may find it beneficial to consult with the folks of Galax Farm Supply or your local farm specialty seed provider. 


Text Box: Do not assume that horses will eat fescue last.  This is not always the case.
Another pasture management strategy is to overseed with clover or other forage mixes.  Clover successfully establishes itself in fescue, and horses seem to prefer clover.  Since horses are notorious selective grazers, many have concluded that horses will avoid infected fescue and only eat E+ fescue as a last resort.  However, Drs. Cassell and Jenkins believe this is an unhelpful overstatement if not a complete myth.  Healing Springs has treated case of E+ fescue toxicity where the horse seemed to have other grazing options.


Removal of Mares from E+ Pastures: Various sources recommend removing pregnant mares from E+ pastures at 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days prior to foaling.  We recommending erring on the side of caution and protecting pregnant mares from E+ fescue 90 days prior to foaling.  Even when horse owners practice this precaution, signs of E+ fescue toxicity can develop.  Whether this is from the effects of fescue consumed earlier or from small quantities of toxins consumed in hay or from underneath paddock fences in unclear.  Regardless, timely removal of mares from E+ pastures reduces or eliminates the effects of E+ fescue toxicity. 


Medical Treatment:

Healing Springs can provide medical treatment for most syndromes related to E+ fescue toxicity.  For pregnant mares, medicines are even available to improve hormone conditions, improve lactation, and otherwise reduce the problems that can affect the foal.


If a mare does not supply an adequate amount of milk colostrum to the newborn foal, the foal should receive colostrum from a donor mare or substitute species.  Colostrum from substitute species helps with nutrition, but will prove inadequate for the foal’s immune system needs.  Intravenous (by shot in the vein) antibodies and a diet of supplemental milk may also be required.  When mares have inadequate milk production, the foal requires an I.V. plasma transfusion.  Healing Springs administers a blood test called a “foal check.” The foal check tells whether the foal has an adequate immune system.  Call Healing Springs for help with these treatments.  



















Useful Info for all Equestrians:













Care for Horses in Cold Weather















New vaccine creates hope of eliminating BVD for good


















Dangers of Off-Label Feeding:

Horses, Sheep, Goats
















Two Positive Coggins in Pulaski County
















Founder & Laminitis in Horses













Square Bales better than Round Bales for Horses – But Cows Don’t Care


Humane Society’s Pet Tree


Honor your pet on the Humane Society’s pet tree and help less fortunate pets at the same time.  The Twin County Humane Society (TCHS) will organize The Pet Tree to be on display at Magic Mart from November 1 to December 31.  For a donation of $5.00, TCHS will put your pet’s picture and a short story of your pet’s life on the tree.  To participate, mail your donation to:


Attn: Pet Tree

 Twin County Humane Society

PO Box 125

Hillsville, VA  24343


Submit photos size 4”x6” or smaller.  Put a story on an index card.  Pictures cannot be returned. 






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Healing Springs Animal Hospital

(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


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