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 III

April 2007


        Pet Food Recall – Dry Foods Now Suspect

        Equine Herpes Virus – Quarantines in VA Lifted

        Saddle Up for St. Judes (Horse Ride, Camping, & Music)



Pet Portals Login






Upcoming Events



FREE Flea & Tick Clinic for Dogs & Cats

Tuesday, April 10, 9AM-6PM

·       Free Flea Tests

·       Free Frontline Samples While Supplies Last

·       Coupons and Rebates for Future Supplies

Call for an appointment: (276) 236-5103


Understanding the Blood Sucking Enemies


FREE Deworming Clinic

May 8, 2007, 9AM to 6PM

Free fecal exam to detect worms

10% Discount on Drontal® Plus dewormer

Call to schedule a FREE appointment: (276) 236-5103




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




Pet Food Recall – Dry Foods Now Suspect


On March 31, the FDA and Menu Foods announced that a contaminant other than aminopterin might be responsible for the illness and deaths related to pet food consumption.  They now suspect melamine is causing the problems.  Melamine was found in recalled wheat gluten lots.  Shortly after that announcement, Hill’s Pet Nutrition voluntarily recalled its Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry cat food.  Some lots of that cat food contain suspect wheat gluten.  The vast majority of Hill’s products do not contain wheat gluten.


Pet owners should read the ingredients list on their pet food.  Wheat gluten will be listed if it is in the food.  Pet owners may want to discontinue use of foods containing wheat gluten until they can receive adequate reassurance that the problem is fully understood and resolved. 


In March, Menu foods voluntarily recalled nearly 100 brands of foods after animals died from routine taste tests.  There have now been sixteen confirmed deaths related to pet food and hundreds of anecdotal reports.   At first, aminopterin was reported to be the contaminant.  Now, Menu Foods believes that the problems came from a shipment of wheat gluten that was contaminated with melamine.


Melamine is a chemical that is used in cleaning products, fertilizers, and pesticides.   Melamine is typically considered to have a very low toxicity, and wheat gluten is not typically screened for this contaminant.  The investigation has traced the contaminated wheat gluten to a specific U.S. Supplier.  Menu Foods, Nestle Purina  PetCare Co., and Hill’s Pet Nutrition have purchased wheat gluten from this supplier, but none of them use this supplier exclusively.  Therefore, the pet food recalls only apply to foods that were produced on certain dates.  The wheat gluten in question was imported from China. 


Press releases from Menu Foods now attempt to assure pet owners that the problem is understood and that people can begin buying the brands in question again.  However, the ASPCA is urging that more research be done.  Melamine has not traditionally been considered very toxic to pets.  Research on melamine outside of that conducted on rodents is scant.  Experts hypothesize that cats may be particularly susceptible to melamine toxicity because of their unique kidney functioning.  Further testing to confirm that melamine is indeed the culprit is warranted.  The pets involved have died of kidney failure.  We do not currently have direct proof that melamine causes kidney failure in pets.  


What pet owners should do:

1.     Check the ingredient lists on your pet food for wheat gluten.  The ASPCA recommends that you stop using “possibly-contaminated” foods.

2.     Check the lists of recalled foods for the brands you use: Menu Foods, Hill’s Pet Nutrition

3.     If your pet demonstrates signs of kidney problems such as increased urination, get it to Healing Springs right away.  In cases of melamine toxicity, aggressive fluid therapy may prove helpful.

4.     Do not use human food to substitute for pet food.  Human foods fed regularly can create problems in pets such as pancreatitis.  For most people, it will be safer to use a pet food that does not contain the wheat gluten in question.

5.     Stay abreast of the breaking news until the problem is fully understood and resolved.  Healing Springs will help with responsible, informative reporting by means of Springboard.  Make Springboard your homepage (the page that pops up when you open Internet Explorer) so you can see the latest animal news when you access the internet.


The Number One Pet Food Recommended by Veterinarians









Swiffer WetJet safe around pets










A Quality Protein Source for Pets












Flea control for Dogs can kill Cats





Equine Herpes Virus – Quarantines in Virginia Lifted


On March 29, Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture, announced that he had lifted the quarantine on the last property affected by EHV-1 (the neurological form of equine herpes virus).  At a March 30 meeting at the Carroll County Government Complex Building, Dr. Scott Pleasant, of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, stated that outbreaks of this deadly form of equine herpes virus seem to be on the rise and that horse owners should remain vigilant and practice certain precautions.


Summary of the most recent Virginia outbreak:  This past February, a horse from Maryland was admitted to the Marion DuPont Equine Medical Center (EMC) in Leesburg, VA for complaints unrelated to EHV.  While there, veterinarians discovered that the horse was actively shedding EHV-1 virus (the deadly, neurological strain of equine herpes virus).  Herpes virus proves very contagious, and several horses who were recently discharged from EMC had potential for exposure to the virus.  EMC promptly notified the appropriate government authorities and horse owners in question.  Government authorities quickly quarantined EMC and the premises of horses recently discharged from EMC.  This included  eight farms in Virginia,  thirteen premises in Maryland, and a race track in West Virginia.  A total of six horses under investigation tested positive for EHV-1. 


About EHV-1


Clinical Signs: Equine herpes virus type-1 can cause several different problems in horses including abortions in mares, birth of weak foals, respiratory disease in young horses, and paralytic neurological disease (paralysis and inability to get up).  Typical signs include fever and mild respiratory disease.  Fevers caused by EHV-1 can spike quickly and resolve quickly.  This is why people monitoring horses for an outbreak must take rectal temperatures twice daily.  EHV-1 incubates for 1-10 days.  This means that horses may not show signs of an active infection for one to ten days after they come into contact with the virus.  Horses with EHV-1 become weak and uncoordinated.  They may show difficulty urinating or defecating.  EHV-1 horses that go down and have trouble getting back up (become recumbent) have a poor prognosis for survival.  EHV-1 presents no known health threats to humans.


Mutant Form: Dr. Pleasant reports that a recently identified mutation of the neurologic EHV-1 has been linked to recent outbreaks.  The mutant form demonstrates enhanced capacity for multiplication.  This makes it more damaging to the horse and more contagious.   


Latent Infections: As with other herpes viruses, apparently healthy animals can carry EHV-1.  This is called a latent infection.  During a latent infection, horse blood tests will not test positive for herpes, but a lymph node biopsy will reveal the infection.  The virus will not spread while the infection is latent.  During times of stress, herpes viruses can overcome the body’s immune system and become an active infection.  While the infection is active, EHV-1 proves highly contagious. 


How EHV-1 Spreads: EHV-1 spreads most commonly by means of secretions from a horse’s nose.  These secretions typically spread through the air by actions like snorting or sneezing.  In a moist environment protected from sunlight, EHV-1 can survive up to one week.  Therefore, humans can spread EHV-1 between horses with their hands, clothing, or equipment.  EHV-1 can live on surface areas until the next horse rubs against the surface and picks up the virus.  Aborted fetuses and their placental membranes may also shed the virus.  Horses with an active infection typically spread the virus for up to 10 days after the start of clinical signs, but active virus shedding has occurred for months in some cases.


How to Protect Horses from Equine Herpes Virus and Other Infections


Vaccinations:   The market currently has no vaccine labeled for the new mutant form of EHV-1.  This situation is likely to change rapidly over the near future.  Recent tests have shown that current vaccines for herpes virus provide varying levels of protection.  For horse owners outside the Healing Springs service area, you may want to know that monovalent, modified-live vaccines appear to stimulate the most resistance at this time.  For those within the Healing Springs service area, simply consult the veterinarian during your routine wellness visit to find out the latest news on the progress with EHV-1 vaccines.  Note some vaccines currently on the market provide significant protection, but they are not 100% effective.  The best approach will be to combine the best possible vaccination with good management practices. 


In general, horses in our area should receive immunization for rabies, West Nile virus, Potomac horse fever, tetanus, rhinopneumonitis, influenza, and eastern and western equine encephalitis.  Horses that are exposed to new horses from other properties should receive immunizations for EHV-1 and EHV-4.  For most horses, vaccinations, deworming, and dental health will be kept current through the twice-yearly visits scheduled as part of Healing Spring’s Equine Wellness Program.  For horses that frequently come into contact with new horses (i.e. show horses and trail riders), quarterly boosters for equine herpes virus and influenza may be appropriate.  Be sure to discuss your horse’s socialization habits with the Healing Springs veterinarian during your visit.  Healing Springs offers Pet Portals to help horse owners keep track of their scheduled medications and other health issues for horses, dogs, and cats.  Vaccination schedules for foals and pregnant mares are different from the standard equine vaccination protocols.   


Management Practices:

Usual Practices

·       Test new horses before purchasing them.

·       When new horses are introduced into your herd, isolate them for 30 days.

·       When horses develop a fever or respiratory signs, isolate them until clinical signs resolve and ten days longer.

·       When horses are isolated, wash your hands between horses.

·       Do not share equipment or space between isolated horses and other horses.  If you must share equipment or space between horses, wash and disinfect your equipment.

·       Avoid sharing equipment or space with horses not from your herd.   If doing so, wash the equipment or space.

·       Remember that equine herpes infections become active when the horse is weak.  Use the feeding and environmental practices that will keep your horse strong and healthy.

·       Keep barn areas clean and dry.


Gold Standard Practices

·       When entering or exiting a barn, disinfect footwear using a footbath and wash hands.  Wash hands with hands with soap and water or use a dry disinfectant. 

·       When you have been touching someone else’s horses, wash your hands before touching your own horses.

·       When you have been on someone else’s farm, change clothes before approaching your own horses. 

·       While new horses are isolated, take rectal temperatures once or twice daily.  Consult Healing Springs if a fever spikes even briefly.

·       When your horses return from events, isolate and monitor them for 10 days. 


A Bit of Perspective: Here we have discussed things that can go wrong with horses, and focusing on the negative can make people nervous.  While EHV-1 is a scary disease, the fact of the matter is that it has killed a very small percentage of horses in Virginia.  Once you have done the basics of immunization, nutrition, and management, relax and enjoy your horses.  Like humans, horses are social animals.  They enjoy their bonds with other animals and you, and they enjoy doing things.  So get out, meet other people with similar interests, and enjoy activities with your horses.



Equine Wellness Program at Healing Springs Animal Hospital










Founder & Laminitis in Horses



















Fescue Facts for Horses, Cows, & Goats




















The Vaccine that could Eliminate BVD for Good
















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


Saddle-Up for St. Judes
May 12, 2007
Ride starts 10AM
Camping starts Friday, May 11
Place: Kanawha Valley, Dugspur VA
All Proceeds go to St. Judes Children's Hospital


Bring your horses – mules – wagons and have a GREAT TIME!

Rain Date: May 19, 2007

$25 per rider: price includes ride, meal, music, & camping

12 and under FREE

$10 – Meal & Music only


Contacts: Amy Nelson (276) 236-4884

Tommy Brown (704) 392-2962


Directions to Kanawha Valley Horse Barn: 1-77 North to Virginia. Take the US-58/US-221 Exit 14 toward Hillsville. Turn right onto US-221 N/US-58 E Carrollton Pike and follow for 2.7 miles.  Turn left onto US-221 / Floyd Pike and follow for 8.1 miles. Turn right onto VA-638 / Dugspur Rd and follow for 5.3 miles.  Turn right on Kanawha Ridge Rd.







The Animal Health Bulletin is a FREE service of

Healing Springs Animal Hospital

(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


Visit our website at







Request an article topic. Click Here.

To ask questions about a specific pet, call Healing Springs at (276) 236-5103.


You have permission to forward this bulletin in its entirety to a friend.

If you did not receive the Animal Health Bulletin directly and would like to begin receiving them, simply enter your information for a free subscription:

Click here to subscribe.



Click here to subscribe, update your e-mail preferences or unsubscribe.


The Animal Health Bulletin is developed and distributed with the assistance of

Brazzell Marketing Agency specializing in healthcare marketing.



© BMA 2007