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When the buttercups bloom, so do the pollens.  Pets with allergies have had a good winter.  The rain and snow have kept most of the pollens and molds either buried or washed away and we did not have a "winter" flea season.  The allergies I saw this winter could be linked to food allergies or the occasional winter allergies that seem to be caused by running the heat a lot or contact allergies.  With spring comes sneezing humans and scratching dogs and cats.


By far, the number one cause of allergy cases I see is fleas.  It only takes one flea to cause an attack.  Pets are allergic to the flea's saliva and it just takes one flea bite to set off a highly flea allergic patient.  Think about the person who is highly allergic to a bee sting.  One sting and they are reaching for an Epi-pen.  The best prevention for flea allergies is good flea control.  Start early to keep the fleas from laying eggs around your house and yard.  Most of the flea products either kill the fleas before they can lay eggs or have a growth regulator in them to prevent egg hatching or larvae maturation.  Use products as directed and use monthly.  Do not use dog products on cats as that can be really dangerous.  If you pet is chewing and scratching a V pattern in front of the tail or along their back legs, think fleas.  Cats will also break out around their neck and face.


If your pet is itching all over, licking their paws, or rubbing their face, think grass, pollen, or weed allergies.  The allergens can cause problems by contact or inhalant exposure.  The joke used to be to escape these allergies, you could move to Arizona.  Apparently now so many people did move and moved their plants with them, that even Arizona has allergies.  We start treating by trying to identify the cause.  If it can be avoided, do so.  For example, wipe the pet's feet after walks with a damp wash cloth if walking in grass seems to start the attack.  Allergy testing can be done as well.  Unfortunately, I find the best tests are done in the dead of winter as you need pets off all medications for 30 days and most allergy sufferers can't handle that in the summer.  We always make sure good flea control is in place.  In general, we reach for antihistamines, anti-inflammatory medications, immune suppressive drugs and nutritional supplements to manage allergies.  Cortisone (Prednisone) has been the most commonly used drug for years and does work.  It just has side effects that have to be carefully managed.  Benedryl will often help dogs with mild symptoms and some antihistamines can help some cats as well.   The drug I have found most helpful in the last 2 years has been Atopica, an immune modulating agent.  We have had good success getting some patients off cortisone with this drug.  It has been around a few years, but frankly was cost prohibitive for a lot of owners especially with big dogs.  The company heard that and for the last two years have offered some very good rebate programs and dropped the price making it much easier on the budget.  My own dog takes Atopica in the spring.  A real key to spring allergies is to catch them before they get bad and before a secondary bacteria or yeast infection takes hold.   If Fluffy keeps you both awake all night scratching, "spring has sprung".  Allergy season is here. Go on the attack !

Easter Lily

Easter Lily Danger To Cats !!! As Easter approaches, many will be bringing Easter Lilies into the home. Easter Lilies are very dangerous to cats. Ingestion of just a couple of leaf bites can be fatal. The toxin attacks the kidneys and causes renal failure much like that caused by antifreeze or grapes and raisins. Dogs are thought be affected, but  not as severely as cats. The treatment is aggressive kidney support. The prognosis is not good. If you have a cat in the house, give the Easter Lily to someone who doesn't.

Dr. Green's Blog

Where do puppies come from?


Puppy mills, breeders, humane societies all seem to be making the news lately.  It appears that the Carolinas are prime puppy breeding states.  So where do the puppies come from that walk in the doors of Mallard Creek Animal Hospital?

Rescue Groups:  By far, the most common source for new puppies that come to us are from animal rescue groups, and that's a good thing.  Most of the time, the puppies have been turned into a rescue group, taken from a bad breeder or puppy mill, or found as abandoned animals with no known history.  Rescues vary by type.  The most common are the humane societies.  We routinely see pets from Cabarrus, Union, Lincoln and Charlotte.  The humane societies operate as IRS non-profits and are funded by donations and adoption fees.  Most of the pets have had parasite exams and treatments, have started vaccines, been treated for minor problems, spayed or neutered, and often have had temperament evaluations to help place them in the best home.  Their goal is to only rescue that pet once.  True non-profit humane societies are my first choice for rescues. 

The second type of rescue group we see are the breed specific rescue groups.  When adopting from this type of group, you have the advantage of their knowledge of a particular breed's characteristics and needs, important information for deciding if that breed is right for you.  They often rescue all ages and usually have had the pets in some sort of a foster home.  Foster homes give the pets time to adjust to family life before moving to a permanent home.  It is important to check out these groups and make sure they are affiliated with a true non-profit group.  You want to know who you are working with and that you have someone to call if the adoption is not going as hoped.  Small adoption fees are common.  Again, check that non-profit status. Sometimes these groups come and go, probably due to funding or not having a good relationship with a good non-profit humane group.  Breeds we have seen that have good networks are Australian Shepherds, English Setters, Grey Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Boston Terriers, and Pugs.

The final group type is the one you really have to watch.   I will refer to them as independents.  Some are good.  Some are animal collectors or puppy mills in disguise.   Some things to look for here are relationships with a humane society or shelter, a clean set-up, and the money.  If they seem to have a lot of pups and charge a fee for adoption, this may be a "for profit" enterprise.  A few years ago, there was a "lady" who would show up in the parking lots of big box stores with a box full of puppies for "rescue", usually for $50.00.   Within 24 hours of adoption, the pups would often become sick with Parvo Virus or parasite problems and the " Lady" was long gone.  Animal Control finally ran her out of Charlotte.  We still see this type of puppy supplier from time to time especially in flea market season.  The lesson here is adopt from a reliable source.

County Animal Shelters:  The next most common source for us is the Charlotte (CMPD) Animal Shelter located near the airport.  I have been in Charlotte for thirty years and I have seen great things happen at our shelter.  They still have to put too many pets to sleep, but they really try hard to adopt pets in their care.  They also vaccinate, treat medical issues, spay and neuter, and do temperament testing.  I often see pets that have been fostered by their employees or through their foster networks to buy them time to find a home.  They have to deal with larger numbers of abandoned pets and often abused pets.  Unfortunately, the numbers game of how many they can help often goes against the pets.  If you are considering a rescue, the Charlotte Shelter is worth a visit.

The Pure Breed/AKC Type Breeder:  Most of the pure breed puppies I see come from breeders who follow American Kennel Club Registration Rules and most are showing their dogs.  The American Kennel Club sets breed standards for its recognized breeds.  They describe the characteristics of the perfect dog and that is what AKC registered dogs are judged against.  They do compete against each other in a show, but are really competing to see which dog best meets the breed standard.  A pure breed breeder or kennel should know a lot about the breed.  They should know temperament, exercise needs, common medical or inherited problems, and they should be breeding dogs that fit the breed standard and have been screened as best as possible to make sure they do not carry the genetic traits for problems.  The breeders I work with carefully screen their breeding males and females for undesirable genetic traits.  They have their puppies "vet checked" before they are sold to a new owner.  They usually provide a very generous warranty against genetic problems... .usually for years to life.  They want to know if their bloodlines have problems so they can stop breeding a line that produces dogs with issues.  A good breeder will have knowledge of several generations of a family line.  Usually, the sire and dam (dad and mom) will be on site or maybe on the show circuit where you can see both parents of your potential pup.  A pup will grow up to look and usually act like mom and dad.  You will pay more for a puppy from a good breeder.  You are buying a family history, health screenings, a good warranty, and an idea of what your pet will look like when it grows up.  Some negatives to watch for:  Bad records, inbreeding, a place that you can't see the parents, filth, no vet checks, bad living conditions for their pets, no social interaction with their pets, and no references.  If this is what you see, you are probably at a puppy mill.

The Hobby Breeder:   I don't see many of these breeders anymore because most people don't want to put up with a female going into heat twice a year.  A good hobby breeder usually has one or two females, one male that is not related in any way to the females,  has a litter maybe once a year, and usually has a list of friends who want one of their pups.  Their dogs usually sleep in the bed with them or are their passion....true members of the family.  They are not in it for money, since raising puppies that are not show pedigree types is not profitable.   My Brittany came from this type of breeder.  I saw an ad in the paper, went to see both mom and dad at the home, checked the vet records, saw the AKC Papers of mom and dad, did my own vet check, and came home with a pup.   If this is where you are looking for a pup, again make sure it fits the breed standards, has been vet checked, and comes with a warranty.

The Accident:  I do see some puppies that come from the accidental breeding, but not that often.  Most pet owners have their pets spayed and neutered before they ever reach breeding age.  When we do see an accident, it usually is from the home that just didn't get around to spaying in time or they are from a family that adopted the adult stray that was already pregnant.  The pups are here and need homes so what happens next is what counts.  Do they just load up the pups and take them to the shelter or do they accept the full responsibility of adopting the "mom with a past" and properly care for the pups just like they were champion blood line show dogs.  All puppies regardless of lineage need proper nutrition, parasite treatments, housing, vaccines, and the mother spayed!!!  If this is what you see, help them out.  The negative is you usually don't know what daddy looked like and that cute baby might grow up to be 100 pounds. 


The Puppy Mill:  If I see a small breed or toy puppy with terrible conformation, crooked teeth, no parent history other than a piece of paper that says dad lives out of state, a family tree that is too straight meaning they are inbred, parasites, bad skin, a 24 hour warranty and a big price tag, I think puppy mill.  How to avoid a puppy mill?  Get references.  Call the vet who is listed as having examined the puppies.  See both parents.  See where the mom and dad live.  Go visit the kennel.  Don't meet in a parking lot somewhere.  Make sure the puppies meet the breed standard.  Be careful with the cross breeds that claim to be a pure breed.  Take a friend along who knows the breed if you don't.  If it is an AKC breed, call the AKC and ask if they have any complaints against the breeder. 

The Take Home Message:  Know what you are getting into when you adopt a puppy into your family and know from where you are getting your puppy.  My old college economics professor closed every lecture with this quote,   "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."    There is no such thing as the free puppy.  Any puppy is a commitment of time, money, and love.  

Mark Green DVM

Candy Warning

Candy warnings: Chocolate-The most toxic is unsweetened baking chocolate, the least milk chocolate. Stealing a chocolate chip cookie is usually not a problem. Eating a 12 ounce package of baking chocolate can cause neurological and cardiovascular problems, vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet ingests chocolate, call immediately to see if inducing vomiting is an option or see...k treatment. Xylitol ( found in sugarless gum and some candy, toothpaste or baked goods) can cause low blood sugar and liver disease. Again, call to see if inducing vomiting is an option and seek medical treatment. IV fluids are usually needed. Wrappers and sucker sticks can cause mouth injuries and obstructions. Take home message....Secure the candy dish !!!!


Winter Tips

 Winter will arrive on December 22nd.   Make sure inside/outside pets have a good, warm, dry place to sleep and get out of the weather. I like the dog house to face south or east and straw has always been a good outdoor dog bedding. If it's going to be below freezing, they really need to come inside. Make sure water dishes do not freeze. Watch for car antifreeze spills as antifreeze is v...ery toxic to pet's kidneys. Slips on ice can be dangerous to pets as well. They run out the door not realizing that the sidewalk is frozen, slip and blow a knee just like the football players do. Cat litter works well on slippery sidewalks and is not toxic. A couple of tricks for housetraining a puppy in winter...create an area on top of the snow or ice with mulch for potty breaks or before the snow, spread one of those blue tarps on the ground to create a snow free patch for the new pup. Remember wildlife. We keep a wash tub of water in our wooded back yard for our "deer friends". Stay warm.



Thirty Things I am Thankful for at Mallard Creek Animal Hospital

Dear Friends,

     Thirty years have passed since Mark Green and I opened Mallard Creek Animal Hospital.

He was the veterinarian and I was the cheap labor.  Together, we have witnessed a lot of changes in the profession and yet, it has remained the same... people love their animals. In celebration of the last thirty years and in the spirit of the season, I give you :

           Thirty Things I am Thankful for at Mallard Creek Animal Hospital

  1. The fabulous pets who parade through our door each day.
  2. Our incredible clients who take such great care of their pets and treat them as members of the family.
  3. The quality of medicine that has been practiced under our roof since day one.
  4. The immensely dedicated and talented employees that we have and have had over the past thirty years.
  5. The University, Mallard Creek, Hidden Valley, Newell, Harrisburg, Derita Neighbors who embraced us when we opened our doors in the old ex-topless bar/ ex-service station building on North Tryon Street.
  6. The North Carolina State University - College of Veterinary Medicine that houses a talented faculty and graduates top-notch students.
  7. The creation and subsequent improvement of vaccines that have saved thousands of pets.
  8. The invention of heartworm preventative that has saved thousands of pets.
  9. The three, and now, four generation of clients who have entrusted us with their four-legged family members, we are honored.
  10. People who come to us from out-of-state and call us from other parts of the world because they want to make sure the Mallard Creek Animals Doctors agree with a diagnosis.
  11. The introduction of computers to help serve our patients better... AND the "patience" of our clients as we learn the new computer system.
  12. The advancement of lab tests and equipment that allows us to make a timely diagnosis.
  13. The yummy "people treats" that have been brought in over the years.
  14. The creation of new tick and flea preventative so we no longer have to give those nasty dips.
  15. North Carolina's highly esteemed Veterinary Technician Programs.
  16. The zany happiness of Merlin, our hospital bird.
  17. The professionalism and kindness of the infrastructure of our team who partners with us to provide us with clean rugs, delivered food and drugs, after life care, mail and package deliveries, etc...
  18. The Mecklenburg County Animal Shelter. What they do is not always pleasant, but it is needed.
  19. Our doctors who do this as a calling, not just a job.
  20. Technicians who are the eyes, ears, gifted hands, and advocates of their patients.
  21. Empathetic, well-informed, front staff who want to make sure you get what you need in a timely manner.
  22. Animal assistants who do not have a glamour job, but help out everyone, especially our furry friends.
  23. Being involved with the school, the scouts, the neighborhood... to give back and support our neighbors.
  24. Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church's Brunswick Stew... enough said.
  25. Four Glorious Carolina Seasons.
  26. The invention of the microchip! We have witnessed tear-filled reunions.
  27. The leash law that keeps us from seeing two sides of vicious dog fights or hit-by-cars.
  28. The Sherriff's Department Canine Unit... we are honored to care for these impressive officers of the law.
  29. We are a private, family owned practice and I have had the adventure of working side by side with Mark Green for over thirty years.
  30. I like to think that God "winks" at us for the care of his creatures.

Thank you for being a part of our lives. I wish you and your family, two and four footed, a joyful, holiday season. 
                                          With Gratitude,
                                           Mary Ann Green