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June 5, 2014

First Aid Kits for Your Pets
~ Whether traveling long distances or just to the local park, some must-haves to always have.

Summer vacations, holiday travels, or weekend getaways often include our pets. We make grand lists of everything to bring for the adults and children (snacks, games, books, etc), but what about the pets? Bed, food, water, dishes, and toys, right? That’s not all that should be packed.
Just like the human first aid kit in your car, your pet first aid kit should contain some basics and a few not-so-obvious items. According to the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) website, a pet first aid kit should have these simple basics: latex gloves, gauze sponges and rolls, adhesive tape, small scissors, tweezers, a magnifying glass, nylon leash, towel, blanket, muzzle, sterile pads, cotton-tipped swabs, an instant cold pack and a list of emergency numbers (your veterinarian, an after-hours emergency veterinary hospital, and the National Animal Poison Control Center- 1-888-426-4435). As for a few not-so-obvious items, you should also include: grooming clippers or safety razor, water-based sterile lubricant, Hydrogen Peroxide (3%), rubbing alcohol, topical antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, Epsom salts, sterile eye lubricant, sterile saline wash, Petroleum jelly, needle-nose pliers, baby-dose syringe or eye dropper, styptic powder or pencil, penlight with batteries, and a plastic card (like an old credit card- to scrap away stingers).
Most of these items are probably already in your house, but actually getting them in a first aid kit, whether air-tight or not, is a chore. However, once it is put together and becomes a “usual grab” before any trip, you’ll never want to leave home without it. The team at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Geneseo, Illinois also always recommends that if you are traveling with your pets, you are sure to have a copy of their up-to-date vaccination records. Typically this includes proof of Rabies and distemper (for either cats or dogs), Bordetella, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, and Lyme (for dogs only), and Panleukopenia and Leukemia (for cats only). Some states/ areas have different vaccination requirements, so be sure to check with your local veterinarian as to what vaccines are needed for your particular area of travel.
For more information about traveling with your pets, contact your veterinarian before leaving. Sometimes, more drastic measures are recommended for safe and easy travel. Now get out there and enjoy the trip!

May 9, 2014

Dog Park Reminders ~ Etiquette and attitude are the keys to a successful day at the park
Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois.

It’s just a walk in the park! Taking your dogs to a dog park or dog- friendly park seems like a great and easy idea, but no matter how well- behaved your dog is at home, it’s a whole new ‘game’ at the park.

Every dog park or dog-friendly park will have a clearly visible set of rules to follow. However, since not all parks have the same rules, it is good to at least know the proper etiquette before entering your dog’s playground. Typically, this etiquette includes: keeping your attention on your dog (phones/ internet use/ distractions at a minimum), cleaning up after your dog, picking up any trash (even if it isn’t yours! That trash could be a delightful treat in your dog’s eyes, but lead to an expensive bill at the vet), making sure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccines AND you have a valid license for the dog (check with the local Animal Control to see what the law is in that area), keeping your dog leashed until you reach the designated off-leash area, and closing all doors to the park or dog run after entering/ exiting.

Here are some “Dos” and “Don’ts” to also keep in mind:

Do ask your veterinarian if your dog is healthy enough to go to the park.
Do be friendly with other dog owners; these could become your new playmates.
 Do always observe the posted rules at your dog park- they are there for a reason!
 Do leash your dog (or even leave the park) if he/ she becomes unmanageable.

Don’t bring a female dog in heat- there may be some puppies in your future!
Don’t bring more than 2-3 dogs at a time- If the park already has a lot of dogs, this could become too crowed for comfort.
Don’t scold or touch someone else’s dog- this could lead to much bigger issues.

Not only is it a good idea (and sometimes the requirement) to have your dog up-to-date on all of its vaccinations, but it is also a good idea that he or she be on regular flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Since a good chunk of intestinal and blood parasites come from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, and parks are a great breeding ground for bugs, keeping your dog protected year-round will help insure their safety from bug bites. Ask your veterinarian which prevention is best for you in your area.

Go out and enjoy the beautiful spring weather! Check your local library for books on dog parks. Many states have books featuring their dog parks and how to best access them. A little planning can go a long way. Now let’s play!!

April 18, 2014 

To Fast or Not to Fast, that is the question.
~ The value of fasting before blood-work or anesthesia, as recommended by Maple Ridge Vet Clinic

People often ask why we have pets do a 12 hour fast before lab work or surgical procedures. There is a dreadfully simple answer and an incredibly complex answer. But if you start with the basics of either, you will see that the similarities of animal and human labs and procedures are astounding!

As humans, when we are asked to fast for lab work, it is often because results are much easier to read and better to decode which allows for more accurate diagnostics. In the animal world, it is exactly the same. When a pet gives blood on an empty stomach, it is easier to read (it doesn’t become lipemic … AKA fatty). If after blood is drawn and spun down (to separate the serum or plasma from the red blood cells) and it is too fatty, results cannot be read. Either [the results] simply do not equate, or there is so much fat in the blood that levels may appear higher or lower than they actually are.  Either way, if this is the case, a new appointment will need to be made for another blood draw.

When it comes to fasting before a surgical procedure, again, just like in the human world, an empty stomach is the way to go. If you have ever had to “go under the knife”, your doctor probably told you not to eat or drink anything after a certain time. Sure, it seems like torture, but just why do you have to fast? When we go under anesthesia and our body starts to relax, the muscles of the stomach and throat also get relaxed. These are the muscles whose job it is to stop stomach content from coming up into the throat and then down the windpipe or trachea. If this happens, the likelihood of that content getting into the lungs and causing pneumonia or even death is at its highest! Guess what? Cats and dogs have those same stomach and throat muscles. And when under anesthesia, while the entire body is getting relaxed, the possibility of anything coming up from the stomach and going down into the lungs is there. Therefore, the absolute best way to avoid the risk of pneumonia or death is to take up all food and water at least 12 hours before any type of surgical procedure.

Dr. Matt Nelson and the staff at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic take all of these factors of blood-work and anesthesia very seriously. In all of our education and training, not to mention personal experience, we all have learned how to prepare for and handle the consequence of getting properly prepared lab work and anesthetic cases.

Lab work and anesthesia don’t have to be scary. But in order to be as safe as possible, it is the owner’s responsibility to do their job to get their pet ready for these types of procedures. Of course, in the case of an emergency when fasting isn’t an option, your veterinarian will take every additional precaution available.

February 5, 2014

How Do We Prepare for Your Visit

Being prepared for a visit from one of our clients is one of the most important parts of an exam. Each time an animal walks, or is carried, through our doors, the staff here at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic wants to be able to ask you all the right questions about needed vaccinations, preventions and monitors. We like to be sure everything your pet requires medically is completed while you are here. We know getting an excited 100 pound lab, or a nervous, hard-to-catch cat to the Veterinarian is not always the easiest, or the most convenient, so every trip needs to be inclusive, with all procedures completed.

The day before an appointment (if it has been made ahead of time, and even when an exam is scheduled day of, the same steps for preparing are completed) your folder containing all of your information and all of your pet’s information is pulled and organized. A “Compliance Checklist” regarding your pet is filled out, so the receptionist checking you in knows which vaccinations your pet is due for, if there are any vaccinations they have not received but are suggested, or if a blood work monitor is due (for a prescription refill or diagnostic monitoring). It also includes information based on your pet’s dental health, regarding whether or not Dr. Matt Nelson has recommended a routine dental cleaning to be done here, or if you might need some more toothpaste for your at home dental care. We also keep track of the dates of last flea, tick and heartworm prevention purchases, so that we can help remind you to pick some more up while you are in the clinic, or let you know when the next Pro-Heart Injection is due. Body Condition Score (based on a scale of 1-5), Free Vaccines for Life Program enrollment, and microchip information are also noted. The “Compliance Checklist” helps us have a quick summary of your pet’s entire records, preparing us for all of your needs.

Other forms filled out and placed in your folder before an exam could include a Physical Report Card, a Rabies Certificate, Authorization Sheet, or a cage tag. Physical Report Cards are used for animals coming in for their yearly check up when vaccinations are given. The pet’s name, age, weight and human age are included before-hand, while Dr. Matt finishes off the sheet following his exam of your dog or cat.  A Rabies Certificate is given to owners when a Rabies vaccine is administered, and registration to the County is required. Authorization sheets and cage tags are only included when your animal is staying in the clinic for a procedure, whether it be surgery, boarding, minor grooming services or x-rays.

Another step taken the day before an exam is a reminder call. We call every appointment on our books, not only to confirm appointment time but also to confirm the reason for the visit, and to request any samples we may need from home. Yep- those samples, the poop ones.  The receptionist may also request that you withhold food from your pet the day of the appointment, or in surgery cases, take food away starting the night before surgery. Fasting keeps lab tests more accurate; what your pet eats for breakfast may affect results, or in some cases, make the whole sample un-usable. Fasting before surgery is essential to keep the anesthesia experience as easy as possible on your pet. Pre-meds can often make a dog or cat nauseous if any food is in the stomach. It also helps during surgery recovery. We keep animals as quiet and still as possible following major procedures; any trips outside that can be avoided will help maintain the calm, post-surgery environment. The reminder call is an important step to help everyone be more organized for the visit. 

Getting the exam rooms in order, and keeping them ready, is another significant part of being prepared for you and your pet. We always make sure all supplies are well stocked. Syringes, needles, cotton balls, gauze pads, disinfectant, rubbing alcohol and gloves are always only an arm’s reach away. We like to be prepared for anything a cat or dog could bring to the table. Tools such as the thermometer, stethoscope, otoscope, opthomascope and a dental flashlight are kept clean and charged, making certain each exam can be as detailed as possible. The exam table is always cleaned after every animal (a strong sanitizer is used to keep your pet safe from any bacteria or viruses that find their way onto the area). The rooms are also swept between each visit. And although we know dog and cat hair finding its way off the animal and onto the floor (the table, the walls, our clothes) is inevitable, we try to keep the buildup minimal.

For every appointment, no matter how long, or how short, a large amount of preparation is completed here, at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic. We strive to keep the organization, cleanliness and foundation of each visit thorough and to the highest standards, in hopes that during your time in the clinic, you can focus as much as possible on the needs of your pet.

January 17, 2014

The BEST way to combat fleas, ticks and heartworm disease is to use year-round prevention!
~ Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic’s motivation behind year-round prevention: Geneseo, Illinois

For years, people believed that a good hard freeze would wipe out fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. So for years, people have only protected their pets from these pests during the “warm months”. And for years, dogs and cats have tested positive with flea/ tick born diseases and heartworm disease in the middle of the winter. So, if fleas, ticks and heartworms are showing up in pets in the winter, what’s the deal?

Have you ever seen a squirrel run through your yard, digging in the snow? Or how about a raccoon, fox, coyote, deer, bird, mouse, etc.? All of these creatures live in our environment year-round. And, all of these creatures can have fleas and ticks living on them… year-round. Does your dog or cat ever go outside, anywhere near where those creatures live? How about YOU? Do you ever go outside, in a barn, garage, shed, wood pile, etc.? Yup, you guessed it. You are equally exposed to fleas and ticks.

The funny thing about fleas and ticks is that they don’t just attack the skin on a pet; they leave “dirt”, and, when ingested, can wreak havoc on the intestines; not to mention, blood borne diseases.  Some pets have flea allergies- a very simple allergy to combat with year-round prevention. But if you haven’t been using prevention and the pet has an outbreak, it could end up costing hundreds of extra dollars trying to diagnose and treat the problem.

Dr. Matt Nelson at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Geneseo, Il, really tries to express the importance of year-round prevention from fleas and ticks. And just because it is cold outside, doesn’t mean they are gone. Those nasty little bugs can live in your carpet, tile, wood, bedding, pillows, ducts… you get the idea. But the other problem that pets face is heartworm disease. This is more common in dogs, but cats can also get heartworm disease. The tricky thing about this disease is that it takes 6 months before it shows up on a heartworm test. 6 months! So if you are one who takes your pets off prevention in the winter months, you’re putting your pet as risk of heartworms developing and spreading. By the time it is warm again it is already too late. Did you know that heartworm disease is actually spread by mosquitoes? Since mosquitoes easily find their way into our homes, it is doubly important to keep our pets on prevention.

Heartworm disease has a very pricy treatment; and sometimes that treatment is very difficult to get. Fortunately for dogs, heartworms can be killed. Unfortunately for cats, they cannot. There is only one trusted cure, but multiple preventions. Many of the prevention available are as little as $6 a month (and if you’re really savvy, that’s about $0.22 per day)! By doing yearly heartworm tests and keeping your pet on yearly heartworm prevention, you are offering them the security they so deserve.

If you have any questions about flea, tick or heartworm issues, or prevention, call your veterinarian or ask at your next appointment. If you are in the Geneseo, Illinois area, visit Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic (or our website/ facebook page) for more information.

December 18, 2013

What’s so Important About Going to the Vet Anyway?
-A guide to understanding the importance of regular veterinary visits and making the most of them.

“My dog went to the vet when she got spayed. She was healthy then, and she looks fine to me now.”
“I took my cat to get vaccinations as a kitten. Don’t those last forever?”
“We never go anywhere, and my dog only plays in our yard. What’s the big deal about all this?”

All too often, we hear these types of comments at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois. Some people are misguided into thinking that yearly visits to the veterinarian are useless, that vaccinations last forever or that if a pet is confined to one area, they can’t get sick. This simply isn’t so. We want you to understand not only the importance of regular exams and lab work, but also the importance of how YOU can be prepared for your pet’s exam.

First of all, with age in people comes biological change. This is the same with pets. If your pet is a 5 year old large breed dog, they could be right around 35 – 45 human-years old. For some pets, that means a little slower, maybe a bit more tired, or possibly not as hungry all the time. Or how about a cat at the age of 12, which is roughly 60 – 70 in human years, who drinks so much water but doesn’t move much? Sure, the dog and cat described may still be sociable, but why are they having these symptoms? At Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, we can complete many in-house labs which can determine if your pet is in need of a simple dietary adjustment or if something much more serious is lurking. Also, by discussing these elements with the veterinarian, you can come up with a plan of action to get ol’ Fido and Fluffy active again.

The second most common question we get deals with why vaccinations are needed. The first answer is as simple as, “It’s the law.” Most cities, townships or counties require certain vaccinations always be current. Rabies is typically the most common. However, canine/ feline distemper, canine parvovirus, leptospirosis, Lyme, Bordetella, and feline panleukopenia and feline leukemia and equally important to be current! With that being said, a veterinarian will perform a physical wellness exam prior to giving any vaccinations- If the pet is ill, that will be addressed first. Dr. Matt Nelson prefers a yearly wellness exam and vaccinations with wellness lab-work, but understands that that isn’t always in the budget. Ask your veterinary receptionist, assistant or veterinarian about any special offers to help with costs.

We often hear that the reason owners don’t take their pets to the veterinarian is because they never go anywhere- don’t board, groom, or go for walks. They are still exposed to the environment through you. Many diseases spread through insects, water, bodily fluids, or the air. And many other ailments are genetic. So even if your pet never leaves the back porch, they can still get very ill. If you take your pets to their veterinarian on at least a yearly basis, subtle changes will be noted and have a better chance at diagnosis and recovery, than if you only go when the pet is visibly ill. Unlike humans, pets can’t tell us when they have a stomach ache, ear ache, back pain, etc. By the time it is discernible, what could have been a simple solution could turn into a much more serious situation.

So, you get the idea- taking your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year is important. Now, how do you plan for the trip? The veterinary assistant or technician will as a few questions about your pet’s attitude and activity level, food and water intake, bathroom habits, abnormal behaviors (such as vomiting, coughing, sneezing), and any medications given on a regular basis. You may want to jot a few things down to bring up at the appointment, so as not to forget anything. Lab work may be needed, so a sample or fasting may be required. Most clinics will give pet owners a call prior to the appointment- be sure to ask if you need to bring anything, if they don’t bring it up first. Also, it is a good idea to bring your calendar to the appointment. This can help you remember if/ when something happened, or if a follow-up appointment is needed you can schedule it right away.

If your pet hasn’t seen their veterinarian in over a year, you may want to consider making an appointment. Even though you may not see any issues, it is still a good idea to have everything checked out. Besides, the whole point is to make sure Fido and Fluffy live long healthy lives.

October 17, 2013

The Art of Being a Receptionist at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois.

Being a good receptionist isn’t just about answering the phone and making appointments. Being a good receptionist isn’t just about calling to remind people of appointments, what to bring or how to plan ahead. Being a good receptionist isn’t just about understanding the different types of preventions offered, what medications do, how prescription diets work, or symptoms to look for if something doesn’t seem right in a pet. No.  Being a good receptionist is about being able to do the aforementioned and still keep a smile on your face and genuinely care about everyone who walks through the doors of Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic.

Each day, before the patients arrive, the receptionist takes care of a few seemingly minor items; like count the cash box, turn on all the radios, make fresh cookies (mostly for the doctor to eat- even though they are supposed to be for the clients), check the mail, voice mail, e-mail, PetSites mail and Facebook mail. We really try to offer as many contact options as possible, so anyone who needs our services can get in touch with us at their convenience. Once everything looks good, the receptionist moves on to the next order of business.

One service provided at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic is ‘appointment reminder calls’. Typically in the morning, the receptionist will call the next business day’s appointments to remind owners of the time and any labs that may be needed. Sometimes it is as simple as just fasting for blood work; other times samples are needed or surgery is pending. Most clients are grateful for this simple reminder call. It offers the owner a chance to plan ahead.

Often times when our clients receive a reminder notice for prevention, they have questions. Since Dr. Matt Nelson is constantly keeping on top of the latest medications, preventions and practices, what we offer is constantly changing. That means, sometimes our clients will receive reminders for products we no longer carry. Never fear! The entire team at Maple Ridge is also kept up-to-date on these changes and rationale so when a client calls, anyone who answers the phone can explain what is needed and why. The staff also takes part in extensive training on a regular basis to help answer any questions about medications changes or new diets available.

Every time the phone rings, the receptionist has to be ready for anything; most of the time it is as simple as making an appointment, but sometimes the client on the other end of the line needs guidance. When a client calls Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic and they are worried, the receptionist has to be able to assess the situation and schedule accordingly. Sometimes, what seems like a panic is actually a very simple fix. Other times, however, that panic needs immediate attention- that can mean moving appointments around to make room for a potentially serious situation. Luckily, our clients are fantastic and will work with us however they can!

At the end of the day, when all the pets have been seen and clients have left; after the photo frame and coffee maker are tuned off; when the radios and lights go out, and all the staff makes their way out the door- the receptionist takes a deep breath and gives thanks for a successful day. It is an honor and a privilege to be the receptionist at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois. And it is truly a blessing to work with such a caring doctor and staff.  That is the art of being a great receptionist.

September 24, 2013

Pet Heath Insurance  ~  Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois

Responsible pet owners want the best for their pets, but sometimes unexpected illnesses or accidents incur costs that are simply too much to bear. Procedures may quickly add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In those instances we are sometimes faced with difficult decisions. That’s where pet insurance comes in handy. Pet health insurance works a lot like people health insurance in that it provides financial backing during medical emergencies. This provides peace of mind in knowing, when something comes up you will not be forced to make those difficult decisions based on whether or not it can be afforded.

There are a number of pet health insurance providers from which to choose. Each provider offers a variety of plans. The pet health insurance provider and plan that offers the optimal coverage for you and your pet, depends on your pet’s species, breed, age, and lifestyle, as well as the presence of any pre-existing health concerns. Most pet health insurance providers only cover dogs and cats, so if you are looking to insure your horse you will have to find an equine insurance company. Most standard pet insurance companies do not cover horses because they are considered a higher risk. Exotic animals too, require a little more searching. If you want pet health insurance for your boa, iguana, ferret, or turtle there are few providers. Older pets and those whose lifestyles predispose them to certain health conditions may not be eligible for all or any coverage. Understandably, pet health insurance providers usually do not offer coverage over pre-existing health concerns.

A few providers to consider are:

  • ? Trupanion
  • ? VPI
  • ? Petplan
  • ? Pets Best
  • ? ASPCA
  • ? Embrace

Depending on the provider and coverage chosen, pet health insurance can run from $10 to $100 a month. Accident coverage alone, for instance, can be as low as $10 to $15 a month. If you opt for both accident and illness coverage, that starts from $20 a month. Beyond that, there are top-level policies that will cover a much broader range of services including surgeries, preventative care, office visits, screenings, and prescriptions fees that would otherwise be excluded.
Veterinary care is advancing every day, following in the footsteps of human medicine. Likewise, the costs continue to rise. Just as we have come to depend on people health insurance, pet health insurance is becoming more and more popular to meet the necessity. With pet health insurance, pet parents are able to follow the veterinarian’s recommended course of treatment without worrying so much about the cost, knowing that pet health insurance will help provide the necessary financial backing.
Visit www.MapleRidgeVet.com for more information about Pet Health Insurance.

August 7, 2013

A Day in the Life – Certified Veterinary Technician ~ Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic 

A day in the life of a CVT is never routine.  Though appointments are on the schedule and surgeries are booked, anything can happen.  It is the day to day variety of the job that helps it be so enjoyable. At Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, the technician starts out the morning preparing for any surgical procedures scheduled.  That involves taking vitals, drawing blood for pre-surgical screenings, monitoring the patient, and setting up the surgery suite.  This is done for each surgery patient.  Once the patient is fully sedated they are brought to surgery and prepared for the procedure – i.e. intubation, attaching monitoring equipment, shaving and scrubbing the site.  Once Dr. Matt Nelson has “scrubbed in” for the procedure and everything is in place, the tech scrubs in as well to be a “sterile assistant.”  Though the technicians will not do the procedure, assisting Dr. Matt Nelson is a very important part of every procedure. Whether it is holding instruments or keeping the area clean, the tech is always doing something.  After Dr. Matt has completed the procedure, the technician will clip toe nails and clean ears as a complimentary service. The patient is then placed in recovery and closely monitored until fully awake.  After Fido or Fluffy are out of the surgery suite, it needs to be cleaned and prepped for any following procedure or for the next day.  That involves cleaning, sterilizing the instruments, laundry, sweeping, and replacing any items used.

Appointments at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic are all handled in the same manner, though never are two appointments the same.  When a client and patient enter the exam room they have already spoken with the receptionist, and what needs to be done will be in the chart. The technician will ask questions and take vitals in order to present to Dr. Matt Nelson.  Once Dr. Matt is ready, he and the technician will enter the room; at this time the technician’s responsibility is to restrain the animal.  This is a very important part.  Each patient is different, but the goal in every case is to keep the animal calm, as still as possible for the exam, and that no one gets bitten or scratched. Sometimes this is an easy task, other times it may involve a muzzle, or an additional person.  

In addition to surgeries and appointments at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, there are many things for which a CVT is responsible.  Client education is one of the tasks on the very important list.  Technicians are responsible for keeping the client up to date on how to keep their pets healthy. Whether it is recommending a heartworm test, specific food, or special laboratory procedures; the technician needs to know the what, when, and how of each item and be able to convey its importance to the client without being pushy.  Conveying Fido and Fluffy’s health in every conversation is pertinent to a client’s likelihood to adhere to the recommendations.

Most likely, the worst part of the technician’s job, or anyone’s job in the veterinary world, is euthanasia.  This is a time where you have to be empathetic and professional, in every situation.   
The more routine parts of the job are cleaning, organizing, keeping inventory, laboratory procedures, handling outdated items and maintaining the exam rooms and laboratory area.   These tasks are pretty much going to remain the same; it is making the time to do them that will be the most difficult.

July 15, 2013


Wellness Blood Work at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois

Take a moment to think of your last annual physical. What things did your doctor recommend? Most likely one of the things that you remember is that they had you fast for a blood panel. If you do that annually, shouldn’t Fido and Fluffy? The answer that Dr. Matt Nelson, at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, wants you to have is, “Yes!”

We already discussed how much Fido and Fluffy age in one calendar year; ten to thirteen years in adolescence and 4-5 years in adulthood.  Considering that, performing a blood screen once per calendar year seems very reasonable.  Also, it requires very little extra preparation from you.  So, what are the “what” and the “why?”

What: Fasting - In order to get the most accurate results possible we ask that Fido and Fluffy have no food after 9pm the night prior to the appointment.  This reduces the risk of inaccurate results due to lipemia, fat in the blood, which occurs after meals. The other what is not for you, it is for Dr. Matt’s team at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, a blood draw.  However, since Fido would be getting a heartworm test already, it wouldn’t even be an “extra” procedure for him.  For Fluffy, however, it would be an extra. Nevertheless, the knowledge that we would gain for their health status is well worth it.

Why: To ensure your pet’s health. We know that the pets coming in for their Wellness visit appear outwardly healthy, which is what we want to see.  But, a physical exam doesn’t tell us how they are doing on the inside. The panel that Dr. Matt Nelson will run at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic is done in-house and is completed, from blood draw to results, in around twenty minutes.  The results on the blood panel can key Dr. Matt Nelson in to any possible abnormality from a kidney, liver, glandular, or gastrointestinal issue to cancer. What will happen if the results are considered to be normal? That is great! Then, we have a baseline to compare future blood panel results to. What if the results are considered abnormal? The first step would be to compare these results to any prior blood panels run, if available, to determine the severity of the abnormality.  

Once Dr. Matt Nelson has established possible causes and/or treatments, He will recommend repeating the blood panel.  This is usually within 3 to 6 months, or after any necessary procedures, to check for responses to treatment and plan any further treatments or blood work. 

When Fido and Fluffy come to Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic to visit Dr. Matt Nelson and his team, the objective is to keep them healthy.  We will do everything that we can to ensure that Fido and Fluffy remain with your family in a happy, healthy capacity.



July 1, 2013

Wellness Exams at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois

Dr. Matt Nelson and his team at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic have made “wellness” their priority. Though they do treat ill patients, their goal is to, when possible, prevent Fido and Fluffy from getting ill in the first place. In order to make this happen, Dr. Matt Nelson has enlisted a “Wellness Protocol” focused around an annual wellness exam. A wellness exam is an exam done on a regular basis to maintain the optimal health of your pet, as opposed to bringing in Fido or Fluffy when they are ill.

Contrary to popular belief, pets do not age seven “human” years in one calendar year. They can actually age from four to fifteen human years in one calendar year. This is the reason that puppies and kittens come in so frequently for examinations – every three weeks through their vaccination period and at 6 months when they are spayed or neutered. By the time that Fido and Fluffy reach their first birthday, they are actually the equivalent of a fifteen year old! When they reach their second birthday, they are the equivalent of a twenty-four or twenty-five year old. During the following years it is estimated they will age four to five years per calendar year. As long as Fido and Fluffy remain healthy, they will continue to get wellness exams once per calendar year for the rest of their lives.

During a wellness exam at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois, Dr. Matt Nelson will perform a complete physical exam. He will check pulses, palpate for organ sensitivity or enlargement, listen to breath and heart sounds, along with many other things that you won’t even realize he is doing. He will also ask questions about your pet ranging from eating and drinking to behavior. Using the information gathered from the exam and your answers, Dr. Nelson will make recommendations for preventions, vaccinations, and testing based on your specific pet’s needs.

You will be asked every year, at least, to bring in a fresh stool sample for Fido or Fluffy. This is to check for internal parasites that can not only affect your pet(s), but possibly your family members, too (that’s right, some internal parasites can be transmitted to humans). The staff at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic will take the stool sample and prepare it for microscopic evaluation. They do this because most internal parasites do not pass through the system visible to the naked eye. If parasite ova are present, an anthelmintic, or de-wormer, will be given. Following the treatment, a recheck will be done to ensure that the parasite load was completely cleared.

During an annual canine wellness visit, a blood sample will be drawn to check for heartworms. Heartworms are a deadly infection, transmitted by mosquitoes, that lives in the heart and can lead to heart failure, and even death, if not treated. Though it is highly recommend that all patients be on year round heartworm prevention, they are still tested annually. This way you can be sure that there are no breakthrough infections that can put your dog in serious risk.

Taking these minor steps in preventive health care can ensure that Fido and Fluffy not only stay with your family for a long time, but do so in good health. Contact Dr. Matt Nelson and his team at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, for your pet’s wellness visit today.

May 8, 2013

Three Year Vaccination Protocol at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois

Seasoned pet owners probably know the one year vaccination protocol by heart, but it is likely that few have heard of a three year vaccination protocol. The one year protocol is the old reliable, still used by a number of veterinary clinics. However, at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, we are making the switch. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons. Recent studies have found that today’s vaccinations are viable for longer than previously believed, and there continue to be improvements made to the types of vaccines available and their production, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA.) Therefore, to avoid over vaccination and the potential negative consequences, many veterinarians have adopted the new protocol to reduce vaccination frequency. This also means that we are able to split up vaccinations, which enables us to pinpoint the culprit of the occasional reaction.

Now, do not be confused. Switching to a three year vaccination protocol does not mean that your pet only needs to have a veterinary visit once every three years. Regular wellness examinations at least once a year are essential for effective preventive care for your pet. Vaccinations are just a small portion of the visits. Physical examinations and diagnostic testing take up the rest and are critical regardless of your pet being up-to-date on vaccinations.

Think about how animals age. Since they age much faster, a yearly visit for them is comparable to a person getting a physical every five to seven years. Also, pets may not always show the early signs of disease, and are unable to truly communicate their needs. During a yearly wellness exam at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, Dr. Matt Nelson has the opportunity to detect and prevent problems early on.
So how does the three year vaccination protocol work? Remember that I said we split up vaccinations? That means your pet will receive one core vaccine every year, but these vaccines will be the three year variety, meaning that they last three years. This creates a three year cycle. This way their coverage overlaps and it is not necessary to give all core vaccines at once. A basic breakdown of the protocol follows:


?œ Core Vaccines: Rabies, DAP (distemper), and Parvo
?› Each lasts three years
?› Your dog will receive one a year throughout a three year cycle
?œ Non-core Vaccines: Bordetella, Lepto, Lymes, etc.
?› Each lasts one year
?› Your dog will receive the necessary non-core vaccines each year
?› Necessity of non-core vaccinations is determined by age, breed, health status, environment, lifestyle, and travel habits (AAHA)
?› Dr. Matt Nelson and the staff at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, will gladly help you determine which non-core vaccinations are best for your dog


?œ Core Vaccines: Rabies, FVRC (distemper), and Panleukopenia
?› Each lasts three years
?› Your cat will receive one a year throughout a three year cycle
?œ Non-core Vaccine: FeLV (feline leukemia)
?› FeLV / FIV testing is required before starting
?› This vaccination is not required after five years of age due to the buildup of natural immunity

Puppies and kittens will receive regular boosters every three weeks until four months of age, then one year vaccines at their one year visit. Only at their two year visit will they begin the three year protocol. Adult dogs and cats with no vaccination history will require boostering with one year vaccines before starting the three year protocol. Now, this may all seem confusing at first, but don’t worry. We don’t expect anyone to memorize the new protocol, but simply to be aware of the change. Let us at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, figure everything out and we will help you keep track of your pet’s vaccination schedule.



April 26, 2013

Free Vaccines 4 Life at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois

People ask me every day about our Free Vaccines 4 Life program: how it works, why we’re doing it, what’s in it for us? Well, here is how it works, why we’re doing it, and what’s in it for us. First of all, you can enroll your pet at any time, even if they aren’t due for any vaccines. There is a ONE TIME, non-refundable enrollment fee per pet to start the program. Current and new clients are welcome to enroll their pets at any stage – from puppy/kitten to senior. Once enrolled, you will enjoy the benefits of FREE core vaccines and deeply discounted non-core vaccines (all listed below). You’ll also have the benefit of discounted dental cleanings as recommended, discounted spay/ neuter, and discounted Wellness Blood Screening to establish baseline blood values and to detect any changes before clinical signs/ symptoms develop, which enhances the quality of life and decreases expense of treatment*. To keep your enrollment current, simply bring your pet back to Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois each year for its yearly Wellness Physical Exam.

Included Core Vaccines: Canines- Rabies, Distemper/Adenovirus/Parainfluenza, Parvovirus Felines- Rabies, FVRC/feline distemper, Panleukopenia Discounted non-Core Vaccines: Canines- Bordetella (Kennel Cough), Lepto, Lyme Feline- Feline Leukemia (FeLV/ FIV test required before starting FeLV vaccine)

Why are we doing this, you might ask… well, Dr. Matt Nelson and the staff at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, feel that by making vaccines free, we can focus on what is truly important to us and our clients, which is preventive medicine.* Vaccinations are an important part of our pet’s life, and are often required in most states, but what is even more important is the Wellness Physical Exam. This nose-to-tail exam, along with Wellness Blood Screening, allows us to find small problems before they turn in to big, costly problems. This program is designed to reward our loyal clients who are already taking great care of their pets. And since the first year of a puppy or kitten’s life tends to be the most expensive with all the boosters and exams every three weeks until they are four months old, this frees up your check book! So, what’s in it for us? YOU! You and your pet are at our best interest. When you are happy and your pets are healthy, we are happy. Every single day, every single one of us at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois strives to make sure that every single client and patient leaves feeling confident that their experience was satisfying. Again, what does Free Vaccines 4 Life do for us? It better takes care of Fido and Fluffy.

For more information and specifics about the Free Vaccines 4 Life program and how it works, visit www.MapleRidgeVet.com or www.fv4l.com

*Nelson, Matt DVM. “Free Vaccines 4 Life.” Welcome to Maple Ridge. ©2012. April 26, 2013


April 1, 2013

At Home Pet Care with Help from Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Geneseo, Illinois

At Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, we strive to provide you and your pet the best in veterinary care; but there is so much that you yourself could offer your pet at home. Pets are usually most comfortable at home for basic care procedures. It also serves as a bonding experience for you and your pet. Turn it into a fun, enjoyable time for your pet, and they will look forward to the experience.

Although many breeds of dogs usually require professional grooming every 4-6 weeks, a bath at home in between those visits may also be necessary. For other breeds, a bath every couple of weeks to once a month is recommended. Start with your dog’s body first (save their head for last so you may save yourself from a shower, as most dogs will shake once their head is wet). Be sure to use pet-specific shampoos. Human shampoos can deplete the coat’s natural oils and cause dry skin. Avoid getting water in their ears, as it may cause irritation. Cats can pretty much take care of their own bathing, unless they are overweight. In that case, a simple wipe down with a damp cloth may be necessary. A bath is also an option, but, let’s faces it, most cats simply don’t care for that.

For brushing your pet, most would be familiar with the basic pin brush or slicker brush, but there are many other specialty brushes and tools for a specific type of coat or purpose. Short-haired dogs only need to be gone over with a curry brush or glove, while medium to long haired dogs will require a slicker brush, a pin brush, or an undercoat rake. If matting is a problem for your pet, you may need to brush them more often or have their coat cut short. Small mats can usually be brushed out or carefully cut away. For bigger mats that are tighter to the skin, it is recommended that you visit us at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois to have them removed safely.

To keep your pet’s nails short, clip them regularly. Depending on the pet, you may need to do it as often as once a week or as infrequently as once a month. If left uncared for, a dog’s nails can grow to enormous lengths, twisting the toe and causing a pained, irregular gait. This can lead to skeletal damage, and the nail may even curl into the pads of the foot. Clipping cat’s nails is optional, but may be necessary for older cats if their nails don’t retract well and get caught on things. With white toe nails the quick is usually visible. For darker nails you can usually trim them level with the pad. To trim the nails, start by trimming smaller amounts gradually, and judge your progress. When you are getting close to the quick, a small ring will become visible where you’ve cut. Should you accidentally hit the quick, styptic powder, kwik-stop, or baking flour applied with a bit of pressure can be used to stop the bleeding.

Your pet’s ears need to be cleaned occasionally to avoid infections. Clean ears with pet-specific cleaner and cotton balls or tissues, and q-tips if necessary. Dogs’ ear canals are shaped like an L, but you should still be cautious when putting anything in their ears. Excess hair in the ear can be a problem. It traps moisture in the ear, leading to infections. If needed, pluck the hair away with your fingers. Apply baby powder to the hair, as well as your fingertips, to better grip the greasy hair. If a yeasty smell persists or your pet is scratching at their ears excessively, visit us at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, for a checkup, where medication may need to be administered by Dr. Matt Nelson.

Don’t forget your pet needs lots of love, attention, and exercise. Find your pets favorite activity, and keep them active and healthy. As always, if you ever have a question, or are uncomfortable with any of the care procedures, we at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, are always willing to help.


March 15, 2013

Food is (not) Love

We all love our pets, and we have different ways of showing our pets “love.” Most people think “food is love,” but, if you are not careful, that can be dangerous for your beloved companion. Just like humans, our pets have a daily caloric requirement. All of us at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois would like to help you keep your pet as healthy as possible, and that includes maintaining a proper weight. Caloric requirements are different for every animal. Things that affect caloric requirements are life stage, lifestyle, and reproductive status (intact or “fixed”). Being overweight can cause extra strain on joints and other body systems, which can cause it to take up to two years off of the lifespan of your pet.

The lifestyle of your pet is a little less obvious, but still important. It is a factor regardless of species or age, but dogs are typically the most affected; i.e. a Labrador who spends his days hunting is going to have a higher caloric requirement than the Labrador who spends his days keeping the couch warm.

Dr. Matt Nelson, at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, recommends spaying or neutering pets for many reasons. We just want you to be aware that it will lower their metabolism regardless of breed or sex. Animals who have been fixed also tend to eat more, when allowed to eat freely. But please don’t let the risk of your pet becoming overweight deter you from getting your pet fixed. Weight management is very simple, and the staff at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic is here to help you. Once your pet’s body condition, lifestyle, and diet are assessed by Dr. Matt Nelson, the staff will be able to let you know how much food your pet needs daily in order to reach or maintain the ideal body condition.

Dr. Matt Nelson and the staff at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois, recommend meal times for all of our patients. Meal time is exactly what it sounds like, breaking up your pet’s recommended amount of food between two or three meals per day. Most clients do breakfast and dinner, but you can add lunch as well. However, remember that adding a meal doesn’t mean adding more food. It means less food at each meal to stay with the recommended amount. For instance, if your pet gets 1 cup per day, that is ½ cup twice daily, or 1/3 cup three times daily.

Now, you are thinking to yourself, “I’m feeding what the bag recommends for his weight,” which could very well be true. However, commercially sold pet foods have a general feeding recommendation on the bag based on weight. What if your 15 pound dog really should weigh 10? What about the difference between a 45 pound indoor dog and a 45 pound outdoor/hunting dog? They don’t have that information on the bag. Also, the recommended feeding amount is based on the nutritional ingredients in the food, not only calories.

The last thing to keep in mind about weight management is that being only a couple of pounds overweight can be a minor concern, or it can be major; it depends on the size of your pet. For example, if you have a large breed dog whose optimal weight is 75 pounds and he weighs 77 pounds, he is two pounds overweight. That is less than 3% over his optimal weight. Now, if you have a cat or small dog whose optimal weight is eight pounds and he weighs 10 pounds, he is also only two pounds overweight. But, two pounds is a 25% increase over his optimal body weight. That is a serious amount of stress on his body. So the pounds overweight are not as important as the percent overweight.

You are always welcome to come in to Geneseo, Illinois and visit us at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic for an exam. Dr. Matt Nelson will assess your pet’s body condition and lifestyle factors, and get you all the information that you need to keep your pet at the optimal weight, including getting your pet on the ideal amount of the ideal diet. We, at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, want to keep your pet happy, healthy, and in your life, as long as we can.



February 18, 2013

Senior Wellness (for You) and Your Pet

You've been throwing that ball for Fido for 7+ years, and Fluffy has been using her scratching post for just as long. Why it that Fido isn't running as fast, or Fluffy seems to do more sleeping than playing? How can you be sure that something isn't wrong? It's time to make an appointment at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in the age of seven? And did you know that it is even more important to stay on top of everything that a senior pet needs; like a possible diet change, new exercise plan, supplements, or maybe even prescriptions? Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic offers a complete Senior Wellness profile to make sure Fido and Fluffy stay as healthy and happy as long as possible. When a pet is slowing down, sleeping more or even eating less, they are trying to tell us something. Most of what they are trying to say can be answered through a simple series of tests: blood-work, urinalysis, and... Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic is able to complete most of these tests "in-house" and have the answers back to you before you leave the office. WOW! Wouldn't It be nice if human medicine to could the same (without having to go to the emergency room)??

So, your dog isn't running as quickly to retrieve the ball. He doesn't seem to be limping, so why is he slowing down? Maybe his heart is working harder or his organs are compromised in some way? Guess what? Dr. Matt Nelson is able to determine those answers with a thorough exam and blood-work. And why is it that the cat seems to be missing the litter box more and more? You clean it daily, but she still has accidents. Guess what? A thorough exam and a urinalysis preformed at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, in Geneseo, Illinois will get to the bottom of it. Some of these problems are as simple as a new diet or supplement. Some, however, need a bit more help.

Starting sooner than later will really help your pets stay healthy, longer. Rather than trying to play catch-up, completing a Senior Wellness yearly, starting by the age of seven, will help ensure that your dog or cat has a fighting chance to continue to bless your life. Since blood-work can tell us just about everything we need to know, and urine is an indicator of infection+, it is Maple Ridge Veterinary, Clinic's philosophy to act now. Preventive healthcare is the key!

Come out to beautiful Geneseo, Illinois; do a little shopping, stroll along the Hennepin Canal, and visit with Dr. Matt Nelson and his staff at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic for a Senior Wellness profile. Your furry, 4-legged family member with thank you for it!


February 5, 2013

National Pet Dental Health Month at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic Geneseo, Illinois

As you may be aware, our pet’s dental health is just as important as our own. Dental disease is so common, that 80% of all dogs, and 70% of all cats 3 years of age and older, have some degree of dental disease. That being said, all of us at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Geneseo, Illinois, are doing everything we can to help bring those numbers down!

When we think of “dog breath” or “cat breath”, we typically think it is normal for that foul animal smell; however, that is completely wrong. That smell is actually telling us there could be a major problem: like periodontal disease, cervical neck lesions, or gingivitis. Yup. Dogs and cats get gingivitis, too. A simple brushing of the teeth isn’t going to do the trick. Is that what you would do if you had bleeding gums, rotting or loose teeth, or erosion of the surface (which causes sensitivity)? Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic doesn’t think so either.

A simple dental cleaning once a year, for most pets, is really going to help! At Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, our dental cleanings involve a series of steps: scraping off the big chunks of tartar, Ultra-sonic scaling (to get up underneath the gum line), high-speed polishing (to even out the surface and make it more difficult for bacteria to re-attach), chlorhexidine rinse (kind of like doggy or kitty Listerine), and a fluoride treatment. Hummm… That sound a lot like what our dentist would do. That’s because it is. Just like with humans, dental cleanings protect a whole lot more than just breath!

So, you’re thinking about how this cleaning is going to happen without the veterinary technician getting bit. And, how in the world is your dog or cat going to handle a tooth cleaning under the bright lights of the surgery room? Well, anesthesia is needed to make a dental cleaning go smoothly for everyone. Dr. Matt Nelson, at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic, recommends doing pre-anesthetic blood work prior to any type of surgery. This is a simple blood-draw that happens the day of the dental cleaning. Not only does this blood work tell us if your pet can handle anesthesia, but also flush anesthesia. And, this blood work (which is a CBC/ chemistry) also shows if your pet has a blood clotting issue. So, don’t worry, no one is getting bit or scared by the lights.

National Pet Dental Health Month is February, and there is no better time than the present to get your pet’s teeth cleaned. Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic is offering a 10-15% discount on all dentals scheduled in January AND February. For more information, or to schedule your pet’s dental, please call Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic at (309) 944-5755.




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