LAH News

Did you know that dental disease is the third most common disease in dogs and cats?

FUN FACT: dogs have 42 teeth and cats have 30. Did you know that dental disease is the third most common disease in dogs and cats? 70% of cats and 80% of dogs will have some degree of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old! The bacteria in the tartar on dogs’ and cats’ teeth can get into their bloodstream and cause disease, even failure, of their heart, kidneys, and liver.

Help keep your pet healthy. Consider brushing your pet’s teeth. It can be done (on most pets…). We will be glad to help you learn how. There are effective dental chews and water additives available. Your vet will examine your pet’s mouth as part of their yearly or biannual exam and let you know if he/she needs a veterinary dental cleaning.

There are good videos on YouTube:

Positive reinforcement tooth brushing video

How to brush your dog’s teeth / vet vid

Please call our hospital with any questions: 704-732-0728.

Dr Miller

Safety for your pets!

PLEASE CONTINUE TO GIVE YOUR PETS THEIR HEARTWORM PREVENTION AND FLEA AND TICK MEDICATION DURING THE WINTER MONTHS. Our NC winter weather is usually mild. Fleas and mosquitoes continue to live and reproduce and bite during these months. We have definitely diagnosed dogs with heartworm disease that we know had to have been bitten by a mosquito during the winter.

DO NOT FEED YOUR PETS OFF THE TABLE, ESPECIALLY DURING THE HOLIDAYS. A lot of the food that we eat during the holidays contains high amounts of fat which can lead to gastrointestinal upset or even pancreatitis. And do not give chocolate, nuts, grapes, raisins, or onions to your pets. These can be toxic.

Be careful with ribbon and tinsel. Some pets, especially cats, like to chew on and ingest these items. Ribbon and tinsel will usually not pass through a pet’s intestinal tract. Instead it can cause the intestines to bunch up and the string like material can literally saw through the intestines leading to devastating, even fatal, consequences.

We do wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Don’t forget to bring your pets on Thursday December 19 from 5 to 7 pm for photos with Santa’s elves.

Dr Miller



Lyme disease is a zoonotic (infections that can be spread between animals and humans or vice versa), tick borne disease that affects people, dogs, and some large animals. It is caused by a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by Ixodes ticks. The adult ticks and the immature, nymph stage of the tick, can transmit disease. The nymph stage is the size of a poppy seed! Something this small could be missed on your pet or on yourself for that matter. Signs in dogs are typically seen in 2 to 5 months after infection. Common signs in dogs include fever and painful/swollen joints. Dogs can also have vomiting, anorexia, uveitis, pulmonary hemorrhage, and abortion. There is also an association with Lyme disease and renal (kidney) failure (Lyme nephritis). Dogs can be tested for Lyme disease. This can be done as a screening test or can be done if a dog is showing any signs of the disease. Infected dogs that are showing signs or have other abnormal lab results can be treated with certain antibiotics.

According to the CDC, there has been a massive increase in both the tick population and tick related disease. The number of reported tick diseases has more than doubled in the past 13 years. With tick borne diseases on the rise, prevention should be on everyone’s mind. Ticks that can transmit Lyme disease have expanded their geographic range and are now being found in places where they weren’t seen 20 years ago. Counties with high risk for Lyme have increased 320% since the 1990’s. Other national data shows that dogs are being exposed to Lyme disease outside of traditionally endemic area (ex. the Northeast). Approximately 75% of unvaccinated dogs in endemic areas will eventually test positive for Lyme disease.

Prevention includes checking your pets and yourself daily for ticks, keeping your pets on year round tick control, and vaccinating dogs for Lyme disease that visit or live in endemic areas. North Carolina has now been classified as an endemic Lyme disease area.

Ticks populate lawns and shrubs as well as wooded areas. Keeping grass mowed, removing brush and leaves along stone walls and wood piles, and keeping bird feeders and wood piles away from areas that pets and people frequent also prevents tick attachment.

There are topical and oral tick medications available as well as tick control collars. Unfortunately, there are other tick borne diseases that dogs and cats can get including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Cytauxzoonosis, and Hepatozoonosis.

An initial Lyme vaccination is followed by a booster in 2 to 4 weeks and then annual boosters.

Please call your veterinarian with any questions about tick borne diseases or Lyme testing and vaccination.

Karen Miller, DVM

Lincolnton Animal Hospital

Lyme Disease Facts

Lyme Disease Facts

-According to the CDC, there’s been a massive increase in both the tick population and tick related disease.

-The number of reported tickborne diseases has more than doubled in the past 13 years.

-With tickborne diseases on the rise, prevention should be on everyone’s mind.

-Ticks that can transmit Lyme disease have expanded their geographic range and are now being found in places where they weren’t seen 20 years ago.

-Counties with high risk for Lyme increased 320% since the 1990’s.

-CAPC data shows nationwide, dogs are being exposed to Lyme disease outside of traditionally endemic areas.

-Approximately 75% of unvaccinated dogs in endemic areas will eventually test positive for Lyme disease.

The best way to protect dogs is year-round flea and tick control and vaccinating those dogs that visit or live in endemic areas.

Our hospital has oral and topical flea and tick medications and Lyme vaccinations. We would be glad to advise and discuss these with you. One of our reps has shared with us that the tick control medication is the seatbelt and the Lyme vaccination is the airbag for your dog regarding Lyme disease.

Please call with any questions or concerns and our doctors and staff will be glad to help,

Dr Miller

Cold Weather Pet Safety

Cold Weather Pet Safety

Post Credit: 

You’re probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather also poses serious threats to your pets’ health?

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather:

Winter wellness: Has your pet had his/her preventive care exam (wellness exam) yet? Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it’s as good a time as any to get him/her checked out to make sure (s)he is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather.

Know the limits: Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.

Provide choices: Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.

Stay inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather.

A puppy in snow

Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.

Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.

Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly.

Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.

Holiday Foods and Presents Can Be Dangerous to Our Pets

Holiday Foods and Presents Can Be Dangerous to our Pets

Overindulgence is unhealthy for us humans but can even be deadly for our pets. Fatty and bony table scraps can lead to severe gastrointestinal upset, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal blockage, and even death. Make sure that trash is properly secured and put out of the reach of your pets.

Do not feed your pets chocolate, raisins, grapes, or anything that contains xylitol (a common sweetener used in chewing gums and baked goods). Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which can be toxic to pets resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, fast and abnormal heartbeats, and even death. Bakers’ chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic. In a 10 pound dog, severe signs can occur if as little as 1/2 ounce of bakers’ chocolate or 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate is ingested.

The as yet to be identified toxin in raisins and grapes can cause acute kidney failure. This can happen if a 10 pound dog eats two ounces of raisins or 14 ounces of grapes.

Mistletoe, holly, Christmas rose, and lilies are all toxic to pets. Death can even occur. Lilies- Stargazer, Tiger, Asian, Easter, and some day lilies can cause acute kidney failure and be fatal to cats. Ingestion of poinsettias often only causes irritation of the stomach and intestines with vomiting and diarrhea.

Tinsel, ribbon, and string can be very dangerous if ingested by your pet. Cats seem to be particularly attracted to these objects. They can become wrapped around the base of the tongue or can cause an obstruction in the intestinal tract. The intestines can bunch up on themselves and the ribbon can cut through the intestinal wall leading to death of the intestine, peritonitis, and death. If your cat stops eating, is vomiting, lethargic, or tries to defecate and can’t, you should call your veterinarian immediately. If you see a ribbon coming out of your cat’s or dog’s anus, DO NOT pull on it but take your pet to your vet.

Your dog may chew on or swallow toy parts or packaging that is laying around the house during the holidays. These objects can cause a foreign body obstruction in the stomach or intestinal tract because they are too large to pass. This can lead to severe illness and death. If your dog won’t eat, is vomiting (especially if the vomiting is becoming more frequent), is lethargic, can’t defecate, or has abdominal pain when you touch her belly or pick her up, take her to your veterinarian. Do not wait. The delay may be the difference between life and death.

Some dogs and cats are shy or excitable around new people. If you feel that your pet will be overwhelmed by holiday visitors, put them in another room or their crate with a favorite toy.

Let’s keep our pets safe during the holidays. These tips may keep you from making a trip to the emergency clinic this holiday season. A healthy pet would be another thing to be thankful for.

Karen Miller, DVM

Veterinarian and owner of Lincolnton Animal Hospital



-Never leave pets in a car: The temperature inside a car can quickly rise 20 to 40 degrees in a matter of minutes. Dogs and cats cannot cool off efficiently. They do not sweat but have to pant to release heat. Pets that have flat faces, ex. English Bulldogs, pugs, and Pekingese dogs and Persian cats have an even harder time cooling off.

-Walking/exercising dogs should be done early in the am, late in the afternoon, or at night. Extreme care has to be taken if you are walking your dog on asphalt or concrete. Their pads can be burned. If the surface feels hot to your hands or feet, it will to them too. (This also applies to beach sand.)

-Signs of dehydration: gums feeling tacky to the touch, skin not quickly snapping back after being pulled up, lethargy, sunken appearing eyes. Giving small amounts of water for your pet to drink over time will help but severe cases will require intravenous fluids.

-HEATSTROKE can happen and can be fatal. Signs include extreme panting, salivating, vomiting, and diarrhea. As it becomes fatal, the pet will become comatose and its body temperature is usually 104 to 110 degrees F. If your dog shows these symptoms, place towels soaked in cool water on your pet and take it to your veterinarian immediately.

-Sunburn can also happen on our pets. Areas on their skin that are nonpigmented or have little or no hair are very susceptible, ex. earflaps, nose, armpits, and underbelly. Breeds that have very short hair or no hair are much more likely to be sunburned. You can apply child appropriate sunscreen that has SPF 30 to 50 on your pets. Do not use anything that has zinc oxide in it. It can be toxic to your pet if it licks and ingests it.

-Not all pets can swim. Dogs should be taught how to get out of a pool. Dogs near the lake or on a boat should have on a doggy life jacket.

-We need to protect or pets from pests that are more prevalent in the summer. These include mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. There are multiple, safe products for dogs and cats including topicals and orals for fleas and ticks. A cat is not a small dog! Never put a dog product on a cat. It could be toxic and even fatal. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. There are oral and injectable heartworm preventions. And remember that snakes are out this summer. Snake bites can be painful, toxic, and even deadly for your pets.

-Fireworks and thunder can be very scary and stressful for your pets. Do not take your dog with you the see fireworks. Let your pet stay inside your home. Many dogs may retreat to the safety/comfort of their crate, a shower or bathtub, or a closet. Dogs with extreme anxiety may need to be medicated. Natural type supplements and pheromones are available as are prescription meds. Your vet will be able to best advise you for your pet’s health. It is a great idea to plan ahead and make sure your pet has current ID and /or rabies tags on its collar. You can also consider having your pet microchipped, a form of permanent identification, in case your pet gets scared, gets out of the house, and runs off. Make sure your pet’s microchip contact information is kept up to date (ex. if your address or phone number changes).

-Parties are fun for us but can be stressful for your pets. Your pet may not be used to lots of people, children, and noise in the house. Please tell your guests to not accidentally let your pet outside and do not feed it people food or alcoholic beverages. Be careful to not allow your pet access to a hot grill or coals, skewers, or the grease that may drip from under your grill. Also you should inspect your patio, deck, and yard and pick up any firework or food debris so your pet does not eat it.

– 7 foods that you should not feed your pet:

1. Xylitol containing products- ex. candies and gum (xylitol is an artificial sweetener)

2. Chocolate (baker’s and dark chocolate are the most toxic)

3. Onions

4. Grapes and raisins

5. Fatty and fried foods

6. Macadamia nuts

7. Avocados

If you have any questions regarding your pet, please call our animal hospital and we will be glad to help.

Have a safe and fun summer,

Karen Miller, DVM

Lincolnton Animal Hospital

Lincolnton’s Relay for Life 2018


Dear Clients and Attendees of Lincolnton’s Relay for Life 2018:

We want to thank every single person who helped us with our Relay for Life efforts this year. Whether you brought your dog to our annual dog wash, gave your spare change when you came to our hospital, or you bought a Chick-Fil-A sandwich or a drink from us at the RFL event, we truly appreciate you. Many of us have lost loved ones to cancer or have relatives or friends that are cancer survivors. I lost my first husband, my mom and dad, and my father in law to different types of cancer. Your donations are helping us continue the fight to find cures and to support patients that are battling cancer right now.

With sincere gratitude,

Dr. Karen Miller and Staff of Lincolnton Animal Hospital

Why Do Labwork

Labwork can give us information that a physical exam cannot. Both are very important in evaluating the health of your pet.

At annual or biannual preventive care exams, labwork in the form of junior and senior wellness profiles include a CBC (complete blood count), chemistries, electrolytes, and a heartworm test. The senior panels also check a T4 (baseline thyroid test) and a urinalysis. For cats, the senior wellness profile also includes a feline leukemia and feline aids test. The chemistries help us to evaluate the function of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas and check the blood glucose. Labwork is also necessary to monitor liver and kidney function when a pet is on chronic medication(s).

When a pet is sick, labwork is extremely valuable in helping us diagnose the disease or condition so we can decide on the best treatment. It also helps us monitor your pet’s response to therapy. Labwork is also needed so we can make sure a pet doesn’t have an underlying problem that could complicate their anesthesia experience.

We also have to remember that dogs and cats age faster than we do. Especially as they enter middle age and senior years, their health can change rapidly. There are numerous diseases and conditions that if caught early, can be cured or controlled so that your pet can have a good quality life to enjoy with your family. Please feel comfortable to ask questions about labwork to our doctors and staff.

Boarding Vaccination Exam

A point of clarification for our clients: for our boarding patients that are receiving vaccinations while boarding: dogs receiving a DHPP vaccination and cats receiving FRCP and or FLV vaccinations are examined by one of our veterinarians while in the hospital. It was brought to our attention by a client that this policy is not practiced at all veterinary/boarding facilities. Your pet’s health and well-being is our primary focus and passion.  Dr Miller and Staff