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 V

May 2006


        The Cat Diseases Often Equated with Human AIDS

        What’s the Best Flea & Tick Product?

        Healing Springs Connects Veterinary Medicine with the Digital Age

        Shop at Healing Springs Online

        New Trail Riding Club



Pet Portals Login






Take advantage of our

FIV / FeLV Clinic


These diseases contribute to more feline deaths than any other disease. 


Healing Springs will partner with Idexx Laboratories to create this special day for testing and awareness of FIV / FeLV (the feline immune system diseases).


We will be distributing special education materials from Idexx Laboratories. 


Testing will be discounted to $20 per cat. 


Vaccinations will be discounted to $10 per cat. 


A $5 rebate coupon from Idexx will be given for cats under 2 years of age.


All Day June 13

Walk-in or Call for an Appointment

(276) 236-5103

The Cat Diseases Often Equated with Human AIDS


Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is the feline form of HIV (the virus that creates AIDS).  While FIV is just as serious for cats as AIDS is for humans, first understand that FIV only infects cats.  Humans, dogs, and other animals CANNOT catch FIV from cats or by any other means.  FIV cats are dangerous to other cats, but they pose no danger to humans.  Just as the name implies, the feline immunodeficiency virus works to weaken a cat’s immune system.  The FIV cat reaches a point where it can no longer fight off or recover from normal diseases.


When testing for FIV, the veterinarians of Healing Springs simultaneously test for the feline leukemia virus (FeLV).  While these are separate and distinct viruses, they both work to suppress a cat’s immune system, they both create the same symptoms, and they both are highly contagious.  Together, FIV/FeLV contribute to more feline deaths than any other disease.


How FIV / FeLV Spread

FIV / FeLV spread more easily than their human counterpart.  Cats can spread these and other diseases through saliva.  Stressed cats often exchange saliva when they encounter one another by hissing at each other.  Even cats separated by a screen door can exchange feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus.  The viruses also spread through bite wounds and sexual contact.


What to Look for:

The FIV / FeLV infected cat needs to be diagnosed as early as possible.  While these diseases are often fatal, proper treatment and care can help them lead happy lives over normal, long, lifespans.  Veterinary testing serves as the only way to diagnose FIV / FeLV.  Outward signs exist, but FIV / FeLV present no sure symptoms.  Some cats do not present outward signs of illness for weeks, months, and even years after they become infected.  All this time, the disease can be progressing within them, and they can be spreading the disease to other cats.  This is part of the reason why routine testing as part of general wellness screening is so important. 


Possible outward signs include:



    Weight loss


    Bite wounds

    Infected wounds

    Not drinking water


    Bleeding or pale gums

    Behavioral changes

    Grooming changes

    Dull or matted coat

    Swollen lymph nodes

    Mouth sores


Veterinary Care:

With proper care, infected cats can live long, happy lives.  The first step is identifying an infection.  Infected cats often show no outward signs initially, but a single blood test conducted at Healing Springs Animal Hospital can simultaneously test for FIV and FeLV. 


Once FIV / FeLV has been detected, veterinarians can help you setup special disease management strategies designed to lengthen the healthy, enjoyable life of your cat.  Treatments and strategies may include:

    Drugs that can boost the immune system

    Diligent vaccinations against secondary infection

    Excellent nutrition (usually Science Diet)

    Semi-annual wellness screenings

    Isolation indoors

    Spaying and Neutering (to prevent escapist and disease spreading behaviors)


An FIV vaccine is available, but it is usually reserved for multiple cat households that have presented with one or more FIV infections.  The FIV vaccine has two problems: (1) it is not 100% effective and (2) it causes the cat to always test positive for FIV in the future whether the cat is really infected or not.  Since the FIV vaccine causes false positives on blood tests and since it does not protect 100%, the vaccine can actually cause an infected cat to not receive proper care after an infection.  For this reason, vets usually reserve the FIV vaccine for high risk situations. 



Feline immunodeficiency virus / feline leukemia virus (FIV / FeLV) contribute to more feline deaths than any other disease.  They work by weakening a cat’s immune system.  They are highly contagious and can be spread just from one cat hissing at another.  Symptoms are not a reliable means for monitoring a cat’s health status.  Annual or semiannual wellness screenings will enable you to identify FIV / FeLV in a timely fashion.  With timely identification and a good care plan, many FIV / FeLV cats live out normal lifespans, happily.



Vets recommend Science Diet over all other pet foods.  Here’s why.



























Check your vaccination status online with Pet Portals.

Huge Yard Sale

Benefit for Pets


Shop, Sell, or Donate


Saturday, June 17

8 AM – 3 PM

Church of the Good Shepherd, Hwy 58, Baywood Area


All proceeds benefit Healing Springs’ H.E.L.P. Fund – a charitable fund created to help pet owners provide extensive veterinary care to sick or injured pets.


   Shop and Enjoy this Huge Yard Sale, or

   Set up your own items at the yard sale for a $10 set-up fee, or

   Bring donations the day of the event.


For more information or to reserve a set-up, call Jennifer Roberts

Day: 236-5103

Evening: 236-0904


Your help is greatly appreciated.



What’s the Best Flea & Tick Product?

We are noticing a growing trend among retailers to redirect Frontline Plus buyers toward other products.  To do this, they provide factual information in favor of the other product without providing the factual information in favor of Frontline Plus.  When weighing all the pros and cons of each product, the vets of Healing Springs Animal Hospital still recommend Frontline Plus as the top choice in flea and tick control.  We will start with good to know information on fleas and ticks and then provide product comparisons.


Understanding the Blood Sucking Enemies


Fleas Cause More Problems than Itching

Ounce for ounce, few creatures can inflict more discomfort than the flea.  Besides feasting on your pets and making their lives itchy and miserable, fleas can cause a serious condition called flea allergy dermatitis.  When too many fleas suck the blood of your young, old, or ill pet, anemia can result.  Signs of anemia include pale gums, weakness, and laziness.  Fleas can give your cats rickettsiosis.  Cats may show no symptoms, but they can pass rickettsiosis to humans.  In humans, the disease can cause severe headaches, high fever, delirium, and depression.   Fleas can also transmit plague, tapeworms, and cat scratch disease. 


You can help control fleas in your environment with usual home activities.  Vacuum frequently all areas used by your pets including floors and furniture.  This will suck up some of the flea eggs that have fallen from your pet.  Regularly wash your pets’ bedding and blankets with the hottest water the material will allow.  Mow and rake your lawn in all areas frequented by your pet. 


Frontline Spray
Frontline PlusUnderstanding the flea life cycle provides insight into why Frontline Plus is the best product at killing fleas.  The flea life exists in four stages: egg, larval, pupa, and, adult.  One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day.  The eggs are not sticky, and many of them fall off your pet.  Without the right flea control, these fallen eggs hatch in your carpet and furniture two to five days later.  At any given point, adult fleas only represent 5% of the total flea population in your household.  Flea eggs and larvae make up 85% of the flea population in your household.  Products that do not kill the eggs and larvae are missing up to 85% of your flea population.  They may be allowing living eggs and larvae to fall off your pet and grow into a biting flea in your carpet, floor cracks, and furniture.  The best flea control product will kill eggs and larvae just for touching your dog or cat.


Ticks Carry Diseases Dangerous to Pets and Humans

Ticks work to make their blood sucking relationship with your pet as comfortable as possible.  Unfortunately, ticks carry even more diseases that are problematic for both pets and humans:

    Lyme disease: a bacterial infection that affects both dogs and humans.  Signs include lameness, fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

    Babesiosis: makes mature dogs sick and kills puppies in 4 to 12 weeks.  Babesiosis responds to a number of veterinary treatments, but may require a blood transfusion in the later stages of the disease.

    Ehrilichiosis: an infectious blood disease that attacks your pet’s white blood cells and cripples the immune system

    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A danger to both humans and dogs.  Signs include fever, loss of appetite, lameness, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.  If dogs infected with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever do not receive treatment, the virus can cause more severe symptoms and death.

    Cytauxzoonosis: a sudden, severe, and usually fatal disease in cats.  Signs include loss of appetite and depression followed by one to three days of fever.  Death may follow in another one to three days.


Ticks also have four stages of life: egg, larval, nymphal, and adult.  Female ticks lay their eggs in dense vegetation.  The eggs hatch into larvae.  The larvae move into tall grass or shrubs to wait for an animal to pass by.  Only when they catch an animal and take their first blood meal can they move to their next stage of life.  After one blood meal, they will drop off the animal and begin their transformation into the nymph stage.  As a nymph, they look for another host.  After catching a host and obtaining the next blood meal, ticks can transform into the adult stage.  Some species of ticks can survive for years without a blood meal.  Tick products that can kill ticks in multiple stages of life provide your pet with a good advantage.


As with fleas, yard work can keep down the tick population in your environment.  Ticks like tall grass, tall weeds, and brush.  Trimming bushes and mowing lawns actually hinders ticks’ ability to detect and catch your pet and discourages ticks.  Likewise, keeping your pet out of areas with tall grass and weeds, especially areas frequented by deer, will help your pet avoid ticks.


Product Comparison

Now that we have highlighted the importance of flea and tick control, let’s talk about the products available to protect your dogs and cats. 


Whole Body Protection & Waterproofing

Almost gone are the days of ineffective flea collars and toxic baths.  The newest generation of flea control products such as Frontline Plus and K9 Advantix allow you to apply the product to one spot on the back of neck, and the product literally travels through your pet’s skin to provide whole body protection.  Because the protection is working from inside your pet’s skin, the protection literally cannot be washed off.  Unfortunately, some inexpensive products such as those you might find in the grocery store do not provide whole body protection.  Even though they have been repackaged in applicators to look like new technology, they only provide protection in the spots where you applied the product.  In essence, these inexpensive products are about the same thing as the old fashioned flea collars.


Frontline Plus Works Well for a Full Month, Others Do Not

Most of the better products can only be applied once per month, but they are not fully effective for the whole month.  When you measure effectiveness by the number of fleas on an animal, Merial reports that Frontline maintains its effectiveness over thirty days better than the other top products (K9 Advantix, Advantage, and Revolution).  Frontline Plus proves 100% effective against fleas the first week of application and remains more than 90% effective during the fourth week of application.  Advantage drops steadily to less than 80% effectiveness by the fourth week.  Revolution drops suddenly in the fourth week to less than 50% effectiveness.  K9 Advantix drops steadily to roughly 50% effectiveness by week four. 


Frontline Plus
Frontline Spray


Frontline Plus Kills Fleas and Ticks in Various Life Stages

Frontline Plus also proves superior at killing both fleas and ticks in multiple stages of life.  Only Frontline Plus and K9 Advantix kill ticks in all four stages of life.  Revolution kills adult ticks only.  Advantage and Sentinel do not kill ticks.  Only Frontline Plus breaks up the flea’s life cycle by killing eggs, larvae, and adults on contact.  Advantage and K9 Advantix do not kill flea eggs.  Revolution does not kill flea larvae.   


A Good Flea Repellent Wouldn’t Leave a Bunch of Fleas on the Dog

The retail distributors working to switch buyers from Frontline Plus to K9 Advantix point out that K9 Advantix does not  just kill fleas and ticks, it repels them.  However, this added feature must not be terribly effective after 21 and 28 days, because a controlled trial found more fleas on K9 Advantix dogs than with any other product in the study.


K9 Advantix Kills and Repels Mosquitoes, But Not Enough

K9 Advantix also protects dogs from mosquitoes by repelling and killing them.  Mosquitoes transmit heartworms to cats and dogs.  Without proper treatment, heartworms eventually kill the pet.  Unfortunately, the makers of K9 Advantix have offered no evidence that the product stops 100% or even 90% of mosquito bites 14 days into the month.  Since the product does not seem to offer full protection from mosquitoes, pets will still need to be on regular heartworm protection such as Interceptor or Revolution.  Interceptor and Revolution are 100% effective against heartworms when used as scheduled.  Therefore, the mosquito-repelling feature of K9 Advantix does not reduce medical costs or provide your pet with more protection against heartworms than Interceptor or Revolution.  As noted above, K9 Advantix provides one of the lowest levels of flea protection.  Therefore, the repellant and mosquito killing features of K9 Advantix do not outweigh the fact that Frontline Plus provides better flea protection.



Frontline Plus and K9 Advantix are the clear leaders in the battle for the title of best external parasite control product.  K9 Advantix offers protection against mosquitos, but not enough to save you from needing heartworm protection, and the efficacy of this product after 7 days is questionable.  Frontline Plus does the best job of killing fleas and ticks in multiple life cycles, and it does the best job of staying effective for the entire month between treatments.  For these reasons, Frontline Plus currently holds our title for best flea and tick control product.


Siphotrol Plus II helps kill fleas, ticks, and other pests in your home and garage.


























Insecticidal yard spray kills fleas and ticks in your lawn. 































For immediate relief of severe, existing flea infestations, consider Frontline Spray.























K9-Advantix contains chemical toxic to cats









Healing Springs Connects Veterinary Medicine with the Digital Age

In the very near future, Healing Springs will launch an online service that allows you unprecedented access to the medical records of your dogs, cats, and horses.  This new aspect of our website is called Pet Portals.  The medical records of your dogs, cats, and horses will be available to you, and you only, via a secure, password-protected website we set up for each client.  With one easy glance, you can now see what services your pet has recently received and what needed services are coming up.  You will receive e-mail reminders about upcoming services (you may disable this feature).  When you see an upcoming service due, such as a certain type of vaccination, you can click on it to get information about the service.  Healing Springs’ Pet Portals will also enable you to order prescription refills online, request appointments online, and participate in an online pet forum.  You can instruct Pet Portals to remind you to do things at home such as give your cat heartworm protection or to give your pet its monthly Frontline.  Best of all, Healing Springs will provide this service completely FREE of charge.


To see a sample page and for more information, visit our website

About Pet Portals




Shop at Healing Springs Online

Healing Springs now offers the convenience of shopping online with the satisfaction of supporting a hometown veterinary hospital.  Visit the Healing Springs Animal Hospital WebStore.  Please check out the store and click the bottom link on the page to send us your opinions.  Your feedback is greatly appreciated.  Healing Springs was moved to create this online store by multiple reasons.

    Education: We noticed a growing trend among online discount stores to attempt to redirect customers from the products we recommend to other, less effective products.  Our store combines commerce with education to empower you to make the best possible shopping decisions.  We will never direct you to an inferior product just because the profit margin is higher.

    Price: The stores advertising great discount pricing on the t.v. are actually charging more than Healing Springs.  You can buy Frontline Plus for $5 to $9 less per box in our lobby than you can buy it at these t.v. promoted websites.   If you buy on-line and add UPS shipping to our prices, we come out about the same as the big t.v. advertised website.

    Convenience: More and more, people are driving in from up to 60 miles away to have their animals treated at Healing Springs Animal Hospital.  These distances and rising gas prices can make staying stocked on Frontline Plus or Science Diet somewhat inconvenient.  If it’s more convenient to you, Healing Springs will happily ship these and more products to you!

    Opportunity: Our lobby is only so big, but the number and diversity of products that may help you or your animal is huge.  The vets of Healing Springs endorse more products than we can make available at our veterinary hospital.  We hope that our new WebStore can become a vehicle for sharing our experiences and recommendations about products that may promote the health and happiness of you and your pet.


Please visit the WebStore now and fill out the

Customer Survey at the bottom.




New Trail Riding Club

The non-profit equestrian organization, Iron Mountain Trail Riders has been recently revived and is actively seeking new members.  The organization includes a diverse group of riders: families with children, endurance and competitive trail riders, recreational trail riders, horse camp owners, equine health practitioners, back country horsemen, trail advocates, hikers, and outdoorsmen.  Iron Mountain Trail Riders welcomes all horse and trail enthusiasts.


“With the many issues facing our public lands like budge cuts, forest re-planning, increased recreational use and manpower shortages this group has come together to preserve the trails we ride,” states club Secretary Nancy Sluys.  President Gina Hagis notes that the organization promotes volunteerism, education, recreation, and family fun.


The Iron Mountain Trail Riders goals and activities include:

    Trail work days, often with camp outs

    Working with the Forest Service to maintain and keep trails open

    Organizing family trail rides and other fun events

    Educational clinics and seminars

    Coggins, vaccination and animal ID clinics

    Chainsaw certification course


You are invited to monthly meetings of the Iron Mountain Trail Riders every 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7pm at the Fries Rec Center.  For information, contact Gina Hagis at (276) 744-7363 / or Nancy Sluys at (336) 351-4753 /  Find current Iron Mountain Trail Riders announcements at



Square Bales Better than Round Bales for Horses, but Cows Don’t Care






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(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


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