It’s Officially Summer!

13147844_10106233973379190_4450138960645126294_oSummer means camping, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors!  It also brings a handful of things to consider for your beloved pets.  The following are a few important things to consider with the warm weather.


Heartworm disease:

Hopefully you have all heard one of us discuss heartworm disease in an appointment, but here is a summary in case you forget the details!  Heartworm disease is named very appropriately, as it is a worm that can truly live in a dog’s heart.  It can be transmitted to cats as well, though much less commonly.  It is spread by mosquitos, so even if your dog does not interact with unknown dogs it should still get prevention.  Many of these mosquitos like to live in your house, so even if your dog remains mostly inside it should STILL get prevention!  These worms can cause severe damage to the heart and lungs, and can grow to be a foot in length!  Treatment for this disease can be very difficult, dangerous, and expensive.  However, prevention is easy, relatively inexpensive, and almost 100% effective.

For every dog, we recommend a once a month preventative from June through November that kills any baby heartworms your dog may have been infected with before they become dangerous.  This medication also helps to prevent other gastrointestinal parasites.  In other states, year round prevention is necessary.  A yearly blood test to detect heartworm disease is required before a prescription can be filled, to make sure that your pet has not been infected.  These medications are generally very safe and it is very rare for a dog to have a negative side effect.  There are multiple options, including oral flavored tablets and topical treatments.

Internal Parasites:

There are many other different types of internal parasites that can infect our pets.  Usually they live in the gastrointestinal tract and can cause signs such as vomiting and diarrhea.  This can often be detected with a simple fecal exam, which are recommended yearly.  Many of these parasites are zoonotic, meaning that humans can get them as well.  Some of these parasites are prevented by your monthly heartworm preventative, but if you have any concerns with how your pet is doing a test should be performed just in case.

External Parasites:

There are many different types of external parasites that can effect dogs and cats.  Luckily they are much less common in Colorado!  Fleas, ticks, lice, and mites are a handful of these.  Monthly prevention is available for these parasites, and the majority of these consist of a topical liquid that is absorbed into the sebaceous glands in the skin.  Most of the time we use it after we find the parasites to help kill the parasites and prevent further infestations.  But these medications can be used every month even if you have not seen a parasite on your pet.  Ticks are known to spread other diseases, so if you notice one it should be removed right away.



In the state of Colorado we have one main rattlesnake, the Prairie Rattlesnake.  Luckily for us, it is generally a wuss as far as rattlesnake goes.  99% of dogs survive their bite wounds, but 100% of dogs feel very ill after being bitten.  The majority of rattlesnake bites are in the front range foothills, especially on North Table Mountain, South Table Mountain, and Green Mountain.  Keep your dogs leashed in these areas and stay on trails to avoid rattlesnakes.  If you see one, give it a wide berth and it will likely leave you completely alone.

Signs of a rattlesnake bite include extreme swelling and pain in the affected area.  Often you will see two puncture wounds.  If your dog is bitten, it should be seen by a veterinarian right away!  As mentioned, these dogs are extremely painful, often in shock, and can have some severe changes in their ability to clot blood.  If they are bitten on the nose or throat, the severe swelling can affect their ability to breath.  It will be recommended that they are hospitalized for intravenous fluids, pain medicine, and possibly antivenin.  Most dogs are much improved in a day or two without severe complications.



Leptospirosis is caused by a bacterial infection that can be carried potentially by any mammal, including wildlife.  It can be transmitted to your pet through contaminated water, soil, or by coming in contact with the animal itself.  It is more common in the summer, though can be contracted all year long.  This disease can be very serious, as it can cause detrimental damage to the liver and kidneys and can potentially be fatal.  This disease is also zoonotic, meaning it can be spread to people.  Luckily, there is a vaccine for this disease that is quite effective!  We are seeing more and more of this disease in Colorado and at this time recommend that every dog, even those that do not spend very much time outside, be vaccinated for it.  Generally this vaccine is given apart from other vaccines, due to a slightly higher risk of vaccine reactions.


Heat Stroke:

Heat stroke can be very serious and can affect your pet very quickly.  Remember, your dog is wearing a permanent fur coat!  If you’re going to take them out for a run or a hike, do it during the cooler times of day or head into the mountains.  If it feels at all warm outside, please do not leave them in your car!  Your car can easily become 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside, and can put your pet at risk.  Dogs that are brachycephalic (have shorter noses) such as bulldogs, boxers, and pugs, are at a higher risk of being effected by the heat.  If your dog seems very hot, try to find a body of water to let them submerge and cool off.  If they are lethargic or their gums are very bright or very pale, you should seek medical attention right away as this can be life threatening.



Many people believe that plague is a disease of the past, but it actually still exists in some southwestern states, including Colorado.  It is a bacterial infection spread by fleas who live on rodents, namely prairie dogs.  Pets can come in contact with this disease by hunting or interacting with prairie dogs, so it is often seen in cats who spend a large amount of time outside.  This disease can be very serious, and can affect the lungs, lymph nodes, and blood stream.  It can also be spread to people.  The easiest way to prevent your pet from contracting this disease is to keep them inside.  If your pet spends time outside unsupervised, and is showing any signs of lethargy, breathing heavy, or just not doing well, they should see a veterinarian right away.  This disease can be cured with antibiotics if caught early enough but can be fatal if left undetected.


Rabbit Fever:

Rabbit fever is a disease that is new to Colorado.  It is also known as Tularemia, and has already been diagnosed in multiple people and dogs this summer in Jefferson County.  It is a bacterial infection that is spread by certain types of ticks that live on rabbits.  This disease can cause a fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and can damage many internal organs.  It can also be spread to people.  Keeping your pets inside and away from rabbits is the best way to prevent this disease.  This disease can be treated with antibiotics if caught early enough but can be life threatening.

What is AAHA?



You may have seen the AAHA label on our hospital’s sign, our website, and our name tags.  This signifies that Mesa is AAHA accredited, and having this accreditation is something we are very proud of. What is AAHA and how does that effect you and your beloved pets?

AAHA stands for the American Animal Hospital Association.  AAHA was established in 1933 and is the only companion animal exclusive veterinary association.  It is responsible for accreditation of companion animal practices.  Accredited practices undergo regular comprehensive evaluations by AAHA veterinary experts who evaluate the practice on about 900 standards of veterinary care.  Approximately 12% of veterinary practices in the United States and Canada are AAHA accredited.  Accreditation standards include a wide variety of requirements, ranging from having certified veterinary technicians to anesthesia standards to cleanliness of the hospital.

We are very proud to share that Mesa Veterinary Hospital has been AAHA accredited since 1986!  We work hard to practice high quality medicine and hold ourselves and our staff to a higher standards for you and your pets.

For more information regarding AAHA please visit their website: (and note Dr. Horst on the front page!)

Or see an informational video at:

Julia Katzenbach, DVM

Leopard Gecko Care


Whenever a client or friend asks me what type of reptile I would recommend them getting, leopard geckos are always towards the top of my list!  They are so fun to watch, generally well mannered, and make good pets.  Here is a bit more information regarding their care!

Leopard geckos are native to India and Pakistan, and come as many color varieties.  They generally live 10 to 15 years and can grow to be 10 inches in length.  They can be housed alone, or can be housed as a group of females.  It is difficult to tell their gender until they are older, so it is recommended they are kept separate until then.  Most geckos are housed in aquariums, which should be at least 2 feet long and 1 foot wide per gecko in the tank.    They are ground dwellers and do not do very much climbing, but you can give them small rocks and logs.  They should have at least one area in which to hide.  It is recommended that the bottom of the cage is lined with newspaper or artificial turf for easy cleaning.  Small substrate is not recommended, as it is not uncommon for geckos to accidently ingest the substrate and it can become stuck in their intestines.  The cage can be cleaned with dilute bleach.

A leopard gecko’s tank also needs to be adequately heated.  You can use a ceramic heat lamp (no hot rocks or heating pads) which should give a basking area temperature of 90-95°F.  At the cool end of the tank the temperature should go down to approximately 80°F.  Ideally there are two thermometers in the tank, one on each end.  Make sure that the light turns off at night, and the temperature can decrease to the 70s at that time.  A red heat lamp can be used at night if needed.  It used to be believed that leopard geckos do not need UVB lights as they are generally nocturnal in the wild.  This has been found to not be true!  UVB light from the sun is reflected off the moon at night, which is absorbed by the gecko.  UVB light provides Vitamin D for your reptile so that he can metabolize calcium.  Putting your gecko’s tank in front of a window is not enough, as UVB light can NOT go through glass or plastic!  The light should be within 18 inches of your reptile and should be placed in his basking area.  Read the box when you purchase your light, as most lights expire in approximately 6 months and this date should be noted so it is replaced when needed.

A shallow water dish should be placed into the tank, large enough for him to climb into but not completely submerge himself.  This dish should be changed daily.  Some geckos have difficulty with the low humidity found in Colorado, so the cage can be misted with water twice daily to help increase the humidity.  This is especially important during shedding, as the low humidity can lead to dysecdysis (difficulty shedding), which can lead to retained shed on the digits and tail and can cause damage to these structures.  Soak your gecko daily during his shed to help with this process.  You can also make a “humidity chamber” for him.  Use a tupperware and cut a hole in the side for the gecko to crawl into.  Then you can place damp sphagnum moss in the tupperware, which will greatly raise the humidity of that area.  Geckos often eat their shed, so you may never see it happen!

Leopard geckos are insectivores.  Juveniles should be fed every day, and adults every other day.  They should be fed a mixture of small insects such as crickets, earthworms, and mealworms.  The insects should be no larger than the gecko’s head.  The insects should be gut-loaded and dusted with calcium powder.  Remove any uneaten insects after about 30 minutes.

We recommend that your leopard gecko be examined yearly.  A fecal examination should be performed for all new geckos.  An exam helps to catch infections, organ diseases, behavioral problems, and most importantly husbandry issues.  Call to schedule your appointment today!

Julia Katzenbach, DVM

National Pet Dental Health Month is Coming!


February is dental month, and it is just around the corner!  Dental health is just as important in your furry pets as it is in you, and we do not tend to think of it nearly as often.    During dental month we try to promote and educate owners regarding dental disease.  We also have an incentive this month only for a discount off of your final bill if your pet receives a dental prophylactic cleaning.

Periodontal disease is the most common type of dental disease that effects dogs and cats.  It starts with plaque formation, which is noticed most obviously during an examination.  This then progresses to tartar build-up.  It can appear as a thick, tan to brown plaque on your pet’s teeth, and is created by the bacteria in your mouth.  This tartar is unsightly, but more importantly it can get underneath your pets gums and cause gingivitis.  This appears as red, swollen gums and can be uncomfortable for your pet.  If there is disease under your pet’s gums, this can eventually affect the support structures, the roots, and the bone surrounding the teeth which can cause tooth root abscesses and loss of the tooth.  These abscesses can be very painful, and can generally only be cured by extraction of the tooth.  The goal of routine dentals is to do them preventatively, so that we never get so far as to have tooth root abscesses in our pets!

Cats also have a unique form of dental disease called resorptive lesions.  This can affect up to 60% of cats.  At this point we do not know exactly what causes it, though there are many theories.  However, we do know that these lesions cause the teeth to be eaten away and can be very painful.  The typical treatment for these teeth is extraction.  We do know that preventative care can help prevent development of these lesions in some cases.

The good thing about periodontal disease in our pets is that it can be almost entirely preventable with at home care!  There are many options for at home care including dental treats, dental diets, chews, rinses, wipes, and brushing.  Brushing is by far the most effective way to prevent periodontal disease and tartar build up in your pet.  A pet specific toothpaste should be obtained, and your pet’s teeth should be brushed THREE to FIVE times per week in order for it to help!

However, we do understand that it can be difficult to commit to brushing your pet’s teeth frequently, and some pets do not tolerate it.  I have had some cases where owners are very devoted to brushing daily and their pet still develops dental disease.  Routine prophylactic dentals are indicated in all pets.  Again, the goal of these dentals is to save the teeth so that hopefully we never need extractions!  But, we also want to find those problem teeth before they cause your pet discomfort or start to affect the surrounding teeth and bones.  In this case, dental radiographs (xrays) are often performed and we may discuss removing the problem tooth.

A dental cleaning requires general anesthesia, so your pet is asleep while his teeth are cleaned.  This allows us to adequately clean beneath the gumline and assess for diseased teeth.  Anesthesia free dentals exist, but are actually illegal in some states as they do not appropriately clean and address the teeth, and sometimes even harm the teeth.  Without anesthesia, dentals are painful for the pet and cannot address disease underneath the gums.  Anesthesia is always taken very seriously, and a full physical exam and appropriate bloodwork is performed before the dental cleaning.  Your pet is monitored closely by a certified veterinary technician, which includes an electrocardiogram, blood pressure, and oxygenation status.

Also, a quick note on our smaller furry friends.  Some of the exotics critters get dental disease as well!  I most commonly see ferrets with dental disease, which get similar issues as dogs and cats do.  Occasionally I see dental tartar in hedgehogs as well, and gingivitis is common in bearded dragons!  Our hindgut fermenters (rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas) can get overgrown teeth which can cause ulcerations and pain.  During every visit, your pet’s teeth are always assessed!

Please do not hesitate to contact us regarding your pet’s dental health, or call to schedule your pets dental cleaning and health assessment next month!

Julia Katzenbach, DVM

Bearded Dragons!

10783575895_02f66e09fe_nAs we’re moving inside and avoiding the sub-freezing temperatures, I thought I would write about a scaled friend who enjoys the winter way less than we do!

Bearded dragons are one of the most popular reptile pets these days, with good reason!  If well-handled and used to people, they can be very friendly and interactive.  They are entertaining to watch and fun to take care of.  However, they have some vital care requirements that I would like to discuss.

Bearded dragons should be housed in large aquariums with a screen top.  Remember, the tiny dragon that you purchased may end up being a foot in length and you should get a cage big enough for that.  They can also be very active and will use this space.  An ideal size would be 72” long, 28” wide, and 18” tall.  The more dragons you have, the bigger the cage should be!  Very importantly is what type of substrate (what is at the bottom of the cage) should be used.  We do see dragons accidentally ingest their substrate when they’re eating!  Therefore, I tend to stay away from particulate substrate (sand, shavings) and use something that they cannot accidentally eat.  I really like the turf substrate, as it is very easy to clean and replace.  Plain newspaper can be used as well.  Always give your dragon an area to hide out as well, in case he does not want to be seen.

A bearded dragon’s tank also needs to be adequately heated.  You can use a ceramic heat lamp (no hot rocks or heating pads) which should give a basking area temperature of 90-95°F.  At the cool end of the tank the temperature should go down to approximately 80°F.  Ideally there are two thermometers in the tank, one on each end.  Make sure that the light turns off at night, and the temperature can decrease to the 70s.  A red heat lamp can be used at night if needed.  A UVB light is a must have!  These lights provide Vitamin D for your reptile so that he can metabolize calcium.  Putting your dragon’s tank in front of a window is not enough, as UVB light can NOT go through glass or plastic!  The light should be within 18 inches of your reptile and should be placed in his basking area.  Read the box when you purchase your light, as most lights expire in approximately 6 months and this date should be noted so it is replaced when needed.

A large dish should be placed in your dragon’s tank, large enough for him to get into it and soak if he chooses.  The water should be replaced daily.  A beardie’s diet is very unique, as they are mostly insectivores when they are young, and turn into mostly herbivores as they reach approximately a year of age.  When they are young, they should be fed about 75% insects including crickets, wild caught insects, mealworms, and others.  A variety is best!  They should be no larger than the dragon’s head so that they can be easily swallowed.  The insects should be gut-loaded, meaning that you feed the insects something healthy (including Calcium and other vitamins and minerals), and then the dragon will get this food as well.  My favorite brand is Fluker’s to be used for gut loading.   The remaining 25% of the dragon’s diet should be dark leafy vegetables including red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, romaine, collard, mustard greens, kale, endive, and others.  Some fruits can be offered as well.  As your dragon reaches a year of age, they should eat approximately 25% insects and 75% vegetables.

We recommend that your bearded dragon be examined yearly.  A fecal examination should be performed for all new dragons.  An exam helps to catch infections, organ diseases, behavioral problems, and most importantly husbandry issues.  Call to schedule your appointment today!

Julia Katzenbach, DVM

Heads Up for the Holiday Season!

Heads Up for the Holiday Season!

The snow is falling, the temperature is dropping, and we’re all bundling up for the winter!  This holiday season, keep a few extra things in mind for your furry friends!

As it gets closer to Thanksgiving and you’re planning your dinner menu, make sure that your pets do not help with the food prep.  Keep your trash bins out of the way and covered so to make sure no one goes dumpster diving for the discarded parts.  Discarded turkey bones can potentially damage the esophagus and stomach as they are ingested, and can cause an obstruction or blockage if they get stuck trying to pass through.  Onions and garlic can cause severe blood abnormalities, including a drop of red blood cells.  Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in some cases.  Also, if a pet (especially a dog) ingests a large amount of fatty food, this predisposes them to pancreatitis (an inflamed, angry pancreas) which can make your pet very ill!  Be safe and don’t let your pet have anything that you do not know is safe for them.  If you notice your dog acting abnormal, being lethargic, or having any signs up an upset stomach, see veterinary attention.

Pets also confuse decorations (ornaments, tinsel, you name it!) as a brand new toy!  Dogs love to chew up ornaments, and cats love to swallow tinsel, and this can cause a big issue.  Keep all of these fun objects away from your kiddos just to be safe.

Many pets love to be the center of attention when family and friends are visiting.  However, many others get very nervous and overwhelmed.  If your pet is in the second category, make sure you give them a safe place where they can escape from the noise and the unwanted attention.  If they love the attention, great!  Just pass along to your family that they probably shouldn’t be getting too many table scraps (see above!).

Mesa Veterinary Hospital wishes you a safe and healthy holiday season!  Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns!

Julia Katzenbach, DVM

Keeping Your Pets Safe this Halloween

Keeping Your Pets Safe this Halloween

Happy October!  As you’re decorating your house and figuring our your (and your furry friend’s) costume for this year, there are a few things you should keep in mind to keep your companions safe this Halloween.

Chocolate Ingestion

I think the majority of us can agree that chocolate is delicious, and if you go trick-or-treating or have a bowl of candy at your own house likely a large portion of it will be chocolate!  Well, your dog agrees and may not hesitate to help himself.  Chocolate can cause severe toxicity in dogs.  If your dog ingests chocolate, you should contact your veterinarian, an emergency veterinarian, or Animal Poison Control [(888)426-4435] right away to see if they have ingestion a dangerous amount.  Signs of chocolate toxicity can include diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures.  If you notice any abnormal signs from your dog, you should seek veterinary attention right away.


Xylitol is a sugar substitute sweetener commonly used in types of sugar free gum, candy, and foods.  It is also now found in many types of peanut butter.  If ingested, it can cause a severe drop in blood sugar, liver damage, and even liver failure.  Again, if you know your pet ingested anything with xylitol in it, you should contact your veterinarian, an emergency veterinarian, or Animal Poison Control [(888)426-4435] right away.

Fear and Anxiety

Halloween is supposed to be fun and spooky for us, but it can actually be quite terrifying to our pets.  They do not understand why a bunch of children are ringing their doorbell dressed in weird outfits.  We recommend that you keep your pet inside and if needed, in a separate room from the front door so they cannot escape if they get very scared.  Make sure they have collars and identification tags on them just in case they do.