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 III, Issue II

March 2007


       Upcoming Events

o      Meeting about Youth and Adult Horse Activities and Events

o      Free Grooming Clinic

o      Yard Sale for the HELP fund

       The Many Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

       The Equine Wellness Program at Healing Springs

       Essentials of Cow Calving

       Horses up for Adoption

       Drs Nelson & Melton Put On Demonstration for FFA



Pet Portals Login






Upcoming Events


FFA, Agricultural Education, Future Farmers of America



Meeting to discuss horse activities and events: Monday March 5th, 6:30 pm, at the Carroll County Government Complex Building in the Board of Supervisors’ Room.


Carroll County 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) are teaming up to coordinate youth and adult horse events and activities.  A meeting open to all horse enthusiasts is going to be held to discuss activities and events such as educational seminars, clinics, camps, shows, trail riding, horse judging, and other non-riding events such as hippology and art contests.  All those interested in participating in such events should visit the meeting. 


Order Grooming Supplies On-Line at the Healing Springs WebStore


Free Grooming Clinic March 13, 9 AM to 6 PM, at Healing Springs. Meet Healing Springs professional groomer, Caroline Hill – more than 2 decades experience in pet grooming.  Receive instruction on optimal grooming techniques for both health and beauty.  Free samples of pet shampoo and flea combs will be distributed while supplies last. 



Yard Sale Fundraiser for HELP fund.  Donate and shop!  Healing Springs HELP fund will hold its Second Annual HELP Fund Yard Sale Fund Raiser on Saturday, June 16, 2007.  Items may be donated at Healing Springs Animal Hospital during regular business hours (the most convenient hours around), or contact Jen Roberts to set up at the event.  All proceeds will help local animals receive emergent and other medical care during times of financial stress for families. 

Coordinated by Jen Roberts

Work Phone (Healing Springs): (276) 236-5103

Home Phone: (276) 236-0904 



The Many Benefits of Spaying & Neutering


The United States currently labors against a cat and dog overpopulation problem.  Government facilities and government-funded entities euthanize millions of cats and dogs every year.  Millions more are abandoned to fend for themselves.  Even the local Galax – Carroll – Grayson Animal Shelter euthanizes between 2,000 and 3,000 cats and dogs annually.  It is a matter of public health.  Our first and only step to eradicate this problem is to have your pet spayed and neutered at puberty.  There are many myths surrounding having one’s pet spayed and neutered.   The truth is the animals that are spayed and neutered live happier, healthier lives.  Spaying and neutering is an effective procedure that removes the reproductive organs to prevent pregnancy. This procedure is inexpensive and safe.  With proper medication, the surgery causes minimal discomfort.  Most pets are back to normal the next day and never miss a beat. 


If family finances are limited, two local organizations provide financial assistance for spays and neuters: the SPCA and the Twin County Humane Society.  Both organizations work hard to finance spay and neuter surgeries and to educate individuals about the importance of spaying and neutering. 


Helps Prevent Some Medical Problems: Spaying and neutering decreases the incidence of reproductive and mammary gland tumors.  Intact females have a 1 in 4 chance of developing mammary tumors, but female animals that do not experience their first heat face a mere 1 in 10,000 chance of developing mammary tumors. (More details on preventing mammary gland tumors in the September 2006 issue.)  Another common medical problem that occurs in non-spayed females is pyometra.  This is an infection of the uterus that causes the uterus to fill with pus.  Pyometras are considered emergencies and can kill an animal.  The treatment for a pyometra is antibiotics, intravenous fluids and removing the uterus.  This is more costly than having the female spayed.  If there is no reason to breed a dog or cat, timely spaying will eliminate any chance of pyometra and almost erase any chance of mammary tumors.  


Behavioral Improvements: Animals that do not have any reproductive hormones are less territorial and less aggressive.  They are also better pets because they can concentrate on being part of the family instead of being distracted by hormone-inspired behaviors.  Neutered animals are also protective of their pack, family unit or home.  Neutered dogs actually do a better job of guarding than intact animals because they don’t have the hormonal influences to interfere with their perceived job. 


The Obesity Myth: Many people believe that spaying and neutering will lead to obesity.  The truth is that as dogs and cats age, their metabolism slows just like with humans.  The decrease in metabolism leads to obesity.   Overfeeding also leads to obesity.  Most humans show affection for their animals in the form of treats and table food.  This increases the caloric content of a pet’s diet substantially.


Timing for Spays and Neuters:  The best time to spay or neuter a dog or cat is at six months of age.  At this age, the pet is mature enough to cope with the surgery and, in the case of females, young enough to avoid the first heat.  Six months is also the optimal age for preventing cancers that can occur later in life.  Make an appointment for the procedure while you are getting your vaccines done.  If you have a pet who is older than six months, simply have the pet spayed or neutered as soon as possible.  Any pet that is fit enough for the surgery is a good candidate for this procedure.  


Healing Springs sees many stray and unwanted animals.  There are excessively too many for the current ranks of dog and cat enthusiasts to care for them all.   Every pet accidentally bred in a person’s home represents one pet that should have been adopted from the local shelter but that was euthanized instead.  The best answer to an overpopulation problem is to adopt an animal from your local shelter and have that animal spayed or neutered.  Also, contribute to local organizations that are trying hard to eradicate our cat and dog overpopulation problem.


Adopt Your Pets at

Galax – Carroll – Grayson Animal Shelter

Open Tuesday – Saturday

(276) 236-8501



The Galax – Carroll – Grayson Animal Shelter euthanizes roughly 85% of all animals deposited there.











Dog Training Classes hosted by Healing Springs.  Fun and very helpful.














Hot Spots – the skin infection often confused with gunshot wounds


Springboard Pets HomepageWhen you first log on to the internet, you can choose the first page you see (your home page).   We have created a very useful and entertaining page for you to use.  When you set Springboard as your homepage, you have instant access to two top search engines, the latest in animal related headlines, local weather, and the top national news headlines!  Using Springboard as your homepage, you are also only one click away from on-line phone book info, local movie times, MapQuest, and Healing Springs Pet Portals!


How to Change Your Homepage               View Springboard




The Equine Wellness Program at Healing Springs


Vaccinations for Pregnant Mares, Horse Wellness ProgramEquine wellness programs are designed to keep horses healthy.   These programs stress disease prevention and health maintenance.  These programs include vaccinations, deworming strategies, teeth maintenance, and physical exams.  Healing Springs has developed a program that breaks up the vaccines into twice a year visits that optimize a horse’s immune response while not taxing the immune system.  The American Association of Equine Practitioners endorses the following vaccination program.


Vaccinations are the cornerstone to disease prevention.  They protect the horse from contagious and insect-borne diseases.  The vaccines recommended for this area are rabies, West Nile virus, Potomac horse fever, tetanus, rhinopneumonitis, influenza, and eastern and western equine encephalitis.  A semi annual program would include all these vaccines, physical exams, and dental exams.  Let’s review a spring and fall program.  In the spring, start with west nile virus, rhinopneumonitis/influenza and eastern western encephalitis with tetanus.  In the fall, vaccinate with Potomac horse fever, west nile virus, rabies and rhinopneumonitis/influenza.  Vaccines can be tailored to each farm.  If you board your horse or if your horse has a heavy show schedule, you may want to consider quarterly vaccinations with rhinopneumonitis/influenza.  If your horse has minimal exposure to other horses, you may want to vaccinate with rhinopneumonitis/influenza only twice a year.  Vaccines come in all kinds of combinations.  This helps control the cost of the vaccine while keeping the horse healthy. (Vaccination schedules for foals are different.  For an overview of the foal’s vaccination needs, go to the June 2006 Animal Health Bulletin.)


Horses should receive a physical and dental exam with each vaccine.  Horses’ teeth grow continuously and experience wear.  Floating a horse’s teeth keeps the teeth in optimal condition so the horse can chew properly.  Teeth with many sharp points may hurt the horse’s mouth and prevent it from eating well.  This will result in weight loss and poor body condition.  Younger horses may require teeth floating yearly.  Older horses may need only semi-annual floating to keep their mouths healthy.


Deworming is an incredibly important component to keeping a horse healthy.  There are many schools of thought regarding the most appropriate regimen for deworming horses.  Some believe that deworming brands should be switched yearly to prevent parasite resistance.  For instance, in 2006, one might use a Quest product and in 2007 only use an Ivermectin product.  Others believe that using multiple dewormers per year will increase parasite killing.  Perhaps the best way to determine effectiveness of your deworming program is to have fecal samples run quarterly.  This will allow you to gauge the success of your deworming program.


Quest is a moxidectin product that can be used every three months.  Quest Plus has a product that also kills tapeworms.  Ivermectin comes under many trade names.  This product must be used every other month.  Equimax is an Ivermectin combined with Praziquantel to kill tapeworms.   Strongid has to be used every month or used daily if you use the Strongid-C formula.  A double dose of Strongid will kill tapeworms.  All horses need to be dewormed with a Moxidectin or Ivermectin product in the fall to kill bots, and horses should be dewormed with a product that kills tapeworms in the winter (the end of the grazing season). 


An example of a dewoming program for adult horses would be:

January 1: Moxidectin plus Praziquantel (kills tapeworms)

April 1: Ivermectin product

June 1: Ivermectin product

August 1: Ivermectin product

October 1: Moxidectin product. 


This deworming schedule applies to horses greater than one year of age.  Foals have a different deworming strategy.  Foals should be dewormed monthly with a Strongid product for the first five months.  At month seven, deworm with an Ivermectin product.  Month eight, use Strongid.  Month nine, use Ivermectin.  Month ten, use Strongid.  Month eleven, use Ivermectin.  Month twelve, use Strongid.  After the foal is a year old, adopt the adult horse deworming schedule.


Call Healing Springs Animal Hospital to start your equine wellness program.  We offer Pet Portals to help you keep up with vaccine and deworming reminders.  Pet Portals is Healing Springs’ online service that will allow you to track upcoming scheduled healthcare services, e-mail you reminders when you need to make an appointment, and e-mail you reminders when you need to provide some medication on your own.  This service is completely FREE to Healing Springs clients!  Healing Springs also helps by sending postcard reminders for certain services.  Let Healing Springs help you keep your horses healthy.  


Understanding Founder and Laminitis in Horses
















Vaccinations for Pregnant Mares
















Fescue Facts

(Horses, Cows, Goats)


Essentials of Cow Calving


The beginning of the spring calving season is upon us.  Farmers need to be vigilant and check their cows often this time of year.  Farmers need to know the signs of a cow nearing the time of birth, how to recognize labor, the parameters of a normal birth, and how to identify problematic calve positions during birth. 


Ideally, your herd was pregnancy tested in the fall and you have an idea of when the cows will begin calving.  If you do not know the due date, the areas of the cow’s body to watch are the udder and the hips.  The udder will start to enlarge when the cow is late in her gestation.  As her due date nears, her udder will look more engorged.  There will also be colostrum development.  Thick, yellow milk indicates that the due date is close.   The hips will start to relax to accommodate the calf through the pelvis, and the vulva will lengthen.  Cows will isolate themselves as their labor gets started.  They may be far from the herd or toward the back of the herd.  They may lie down and get up frequently.  They will stop chewing their cud.  They will demonstrate reluctance to come eat, and sometimes they will completely refuse to come eat.  This first step can last 2-6 hours.  At this period of restlessness, the cervix is starting to dilate, and they will have a vaginal discharge of clear mucus. 


The second stage of their labor is the expulsion of the fetus.  This period can last up to two hours in a heifer and up to an hour in a cow.  At this period, the fetus is lined up with the pelvic canal and moving into the pelvis.  One may see 4-8 contractions in 10 minutes.  The cow will be lying down and straining.  Ideally, the head should come first.  The cow may take a rest before pushing the rest of the calf’s body through the pelvic canal. 


The third and final stage is the expulsion of the placenta.  This should occur some time between the birth of the calf and up to eight hours after birth.  A retained placenta is any placenta in the cow longer than eight hours. 


Most cows calve without human intervention.  What farmers need to watch for is those that are having trouble.  The cardinal rule of a cow calf operation is never go to bed when a cow is in labor.  If a cow has progressed into her second stage of labor for more than two hours and there is no calf, one must check her.  This can be accomplished by the producer or by a veterinarian.  Get the cow into a working area and restrain her.  Clean her vulva with ivory soap and water.  Place a long glove on the hand of your choice and enter her vulva.  You want to feel a head and two hooves.  If you are able to assist the cow in her delivery then do so.  If it has been over two hours do not give her more time.  If you are not able to assist her, then call Healing Springs Animal Hospital at (276) 236-5103.  Farmers will save money by calling during normal business hours, but Healing Springs keeps a veterinarian on-call for emergencies 24/7/365.  A cow that has been in labor for more than two hours should be seen as soon as possible.


During birth, the calf can present in one of many problematic positions: head back, breach, one leg back, back legs first, sideways, head with no feet, and poll in pelvis.  There different approaches to each abnormal position.  Some are harder to correct than others.   The ability of the producer to correct each abnormal position depends on his/her expertise.  Never use vehicles or farm machinery to pull calves.  A calf jack or no more than three people is all the force that can be safely applied when pulling a calf.  If more force is necessary than what is created by a calf jack or three people, the cow requires a C-section.  If you are uncomfortable with an abnormal position, call Healing Springs.  If a producer is vigilant and takes action, they will increase their chances of having a live calf.  Waiting for a cow to do her job alone after two hours or after a problematic position has been identified will only decrease your live calf percentages.  If a cow is in labor, check the time and watch her closely.  The sooner a farmer or veterinarian intervenes in a potential difficult birth, the better.


Parasite Control for Sheep & Goats


Horses for Adoption


The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department tapped Healing Springs to testify in a recent animal abuse case and to board two malnourished horses while the case was settled in court.  After the previous owner lost custody of the horses, Healing Springs agreed to find new homes for them.  The horses can be seen at or near Healing Springs.  Call (276) 236-5103 for more details on the horses up for adoption.





Pasture Boarding at Healing Springs.

Only $3.50 per day plus hay.


Community Service


Dr Jessica Nelson, DVM, Dr Amber Melton, Equitation, FFADoctors Jessica Nelson and Amber Melton of Healing Springs conducted an educational equitation demonstration for the Grayson County FFA on March 1.   They demonstrated and lectured on issues related to horsemanship and showing.  Dr. Melton (pictured here atop Nelson’s horse Duke) has shown saddlebreds for years.  Dr. Nelson (pictured far left) has rode hunter – jumper at the collegiate level and received an athletic scholarship from Hollins University to complete her undergraduate studies there.  


Click photo to enlarge.




Siphotrol: one teaspoon treats 780 gallons of water to kill mosquitoes before they become biting, breeding adults


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(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


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