Category Archives: Uncategorized

Deciding when it’s time-the quality of life discussion

posted on July 02, 2019 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

One of the worst part of owning pets is that they don’t live as long as we do, so at some point it will be time to say goodbye.  However, we do have the ability to end a pet’s life with dignity and to relieve suffering.  But many people aren’t sure when it’s time.  We here at Heritage Animal Hospital have recently had to make these decisions for both our clinic dog and cat, so we understand what you’re going through.

First of all, if you are unsure, you can always make an appointment or call us to discuss.  As veterinarians, we are trained to look for signs of suffering, pain, and diminishing quality of life in our pets, so we are often a more objective source to help make the decision.  Second of all, if you feel it is time for whatever reason, we will not second guess or judge you for this.  You know your pet the best.

Things we often recommend looking at include is the pet eating/drinking, is the pet able to move on it’s own, and is the pet still interacting with you.  Does it enjoy the things it used to?  (Note-a 15 year old dog is the equivalent of a 90 year old person, so it may not enjoy frisbee anymore, but might still get enjoyment from being outside or going for a walk).  Is the pet having accidents, and is it able to move out of them or is it covered in it’s own feces and/or urine?  Is the pet in pain, and if so, are we adequately controlling it with medications, supplements, etc.

Pick a couple things that make your pet special.  Are they still doing those things?  A pet that always greats you at the door and suddenly won’t get up when you come home, or a pet that follows you from room to room suddenly stays in it’s bed alone in a room are signs that it may be time.

Because this decision is very difficult, it can be hard to balance emotions with reality.  Using things like penny jars for good or bad days/events, marking a calendar, or using scales like the one below can help give you a visual, concrete representation of how your pet is doing.

Ultimately you know your pet best, but we are here to help you make these tough decisions, and can help by telling you when we think it may be time when you can’t make this decision on your own.  Please let us know if we can help.

In Loving Memory of Jack and Harry

CBD-the conversation we aren’t having

posted on March 01, 2019 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

We are having more and more clients asking about products containing CBD oil, so I thought I’d address this via blog.

At this time, all CBD products are still illegal to sell in Minnesota and other states across the US.  Yes, that’s right, illegal.  Therefore, we cannot recommend these products at this time.

However, the DEA is unlikely to go after every pet owner giving CBD oil products to their pets, and I know some clients are using them, so here is more of what we do know about them.  Please, if you are giving them, tell us when we ask what medications and supplements your pet is on so we can make the best possible recommendations for your pet.

CBD oil is supposed to contain less that 0.1 % THC (the active agent in marijuana). However, since the products are illegal, they are not being regulated.  This means the product could contain varying amounts of THC-from none all the way up to toxic levels.  The FDA usually closely monitors and requires rigorous testing to label a drug for sale including monitoring active ingredient levels and label claims for diseases they are used to treat.  There is none of this currently in the industry for pets.  The ASPCA Poison Control Center has been seeing cases where pets are exhibiting the same signs of marijuana toxicosis when they ingest CBD products.

CBD manufacturers widely claim their product helps with a variety of illnesses and ailments, from GI issues, seizures, osteoarthritis, to helping anxious pets.  Unfortunately, very little research has been done to confirm any of this.  It is possible that it may be beneficial in some of these cases, but we have very limited data and cannot safely recommend it at this time.  We also have no data on how CBD oil interacts with other medications or organ functions.  For instance, a pet with seizures is often put on phenobarbital.  Phenobarbital is a barbiturate class medication, meaning it can cause nervous system depression.  THC is also a nervous system depressant.  At this time we do not know if these medications can be used in conjunction safely in our pets.  Opioid pain medications are also used for some conditions, and may cause a similar issue with nervous system depression.  Pets who have arthritis tend to be older pets, who may have other health issues such as kidney disease or heart disease for instance.  We again do not know if CBD products are safe to use with these conditions.

Overall, until CBD becomes legal and we get some research and regulation, we are not recommending these products at this time.  If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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Fido and Fireworks don’t mix!

posted on June 28, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

It’s the 4th of July again, and that means increased risks for our pets.  According to the ASPCA, nearly 1 in 5 pets go missing after being scared by loud noises such as fireworks. notes that 30% more pets become lost between July 4-6th than any other time of the year.  Here are some tips to make the celebrations safe for everyone!

  1. Travel safely:  If you are taking a road trip with your pet, get your pet used to carrier/crates, and seat belts/harnesses in advance.  Do not leave your pet alone in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked.
  2. Stay cool:  Dogs and cats can’t sweat, but panting can cause them to get dehydrated.  Pets can get overheated quicker, so make sure there is access to plenty of fresh water and shade.  Check asphalt with your hand before going for walks to ensure it’s not too hot, and take walks near dawn/dusk to avoid mid day heat.
  3. Avoid human foods:  Barbecues and parties will often present many tempting foods to your pet.  Some human foods are not safe for consumption-alcohol, chocolate, onion, garlic, grapes, raisins, and the sugar substitute xylitol are all toxic to pets.  Some foods can cause inflammation of the GI tract and pancreas, especially fatty foods.  Other foods can pose a GI obstruction risk-fruit pits and corn cobs are two more notable examples.
  4. Keep windows secured:  Often during the summer months we have our windows open to let in the fresh air.  Make sure screens are in place and secured to avoid falls and escapes.
  5. Check harnesses, leashes, and collars:  Longer daylight hours and warmer weather often means longer walks and more outside time.  Make sure collars and harnesses fit to prevent escape.  Make sure ID tags and microchip information are current.
  6. Keep your pets at home:  Most pets get overwhelmed at parties and firework shows, so despite how well behaved they are or how much they love people, safe at home may be the best place for them during the festivities.
  7. If you’re hosting the party, keep an eye on exits.  With multiple people going in and out, pets can get lost in the chaos.  Think about putting pets in crates or a separate room, as they will keep them safely confined as well as give them a quiet place to feel safe.  Pet sitters or boarding facilities are another option.

Overall we hope you and your pet have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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Making moving managable

posted on May 01, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As I’m writing this blog, I find myself in the middle of packing up my house and moving to a new one with two dogs who are wondering what is going on.  Here are some tips to help make moving less stressful for your pets!

First off, have an overnight kit for your pet-this should contain food, litter, toys and grooming supplies to last through the first few days of unpacking.  Despite your best effort to label boxes, there is always a chance you won’t find your pet boxes for the first little bit and having this kit will make things less stressful.

As a second part to this, pack your pet’s stuff later in the process.  They will be stressed to see boxes and furniture moving and disappearing from their house.  Leaving their toys, bowls, and beds alone as long as possible will help them retain some semblance of normalcy.  On a similar note, your pet’s items should be some of the first items unloaded to help them feel more at home in the new place.

Keep your pets out of the action.  Prepare a quiet room away from the bulk of the moving noise.  You can also opt to board your pet for the day(s) so they are out of the way.  Pets also are at risk for getting loose with doors opening and closing and people coming and going, so having them secured in a room or crate will prevent this.

Update records as soon as possible. This includes getting your pets licensed in the new city if required, updating tags, microchip information, and potentially finding a new veterinarian.  Get your records from your vet before moving and make sure pets are up to date and all prescriptions are filled prior to the move so things don’t slip through the crack.

When traveling with pets, make sure to check laws-health certificates, specific titers, and/or vaccines may be required when crossing state lines, and international travel has even more regulations.  Some cities have ordinances on which pets or breeds are allowed, or how many pets are allowed at any residence.  Apartments and condos may also have rules on which pets are allowed.  Some places may even require permits for certain animals.

Also, when traveling with pets, be sure to check with the hotels if they allow pets/how many pets/sizes of pets allowed, etc.  Some hotels only have a few rooms that are pet friendly, so booking ahead may be required.  Other hotels require pets be kept in crates or otherwise confined.

Lastly, when letting pets outside for the first couple of times at the new place, they should be supervised.  Small spaces in fences if present can lead to escape attempts.  Learning the new boundaries with invisible fences can take a bit of time to figure out as well.  Since your pet may be confused where “home” is in a new place, if they do escape they may not find their own way home.

Hopefully with these tips and a little planning, your move will go smoothly and your pet will settle in without any issues.  Give us a call if you have further questions or concerns.

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Everybody’s Irish?

posted on March 01, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As March arrives, this means St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner.  On this one day, “everyone is Irish”.  Is this true for dogs too?  Some dogs, such as the Irish Wolfhound and the Irish Setter, clearly have an Irish background.  Other dogs clearly don’t, such as the Belgian Malinois, Portuguese Water Dog, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, English Springer Spaniel or English Cocker Spaniel.  So where do the top 10 dogs in the United States (as noted by the AKC) come from?

  1.  Labrador Retriever:  The modern lab likely originated in Canada, in Newfoundland and Labrador.  They were transported back to England, and were used by fisherman to help swim ropes ashore.
  2. German Shepherd Dog:  As the name suggests, German Shepherds originate in Germany.  Originally GSDs were bred to herd sheep, but their intelligence and trainability have lead to other roles in military and police work as well as assistance type jobs.
  3. Golden Retriever:  The golden retriever can trace it’s roots back to Scotland.  They may have some ties to Russian herding dogs, but have mainly been bred to be gun dogs.  However, they too are easily trainable and have found jobs as assistance pets, drug and bomb sniffing dogs, and as search and rescue dogs.
  4. Bulldog:  Bulldogs originate in England.  They were used in bull baiting, until this practice was outlawed in 1835.  Now their popularity is almost exclusively as companions.
  5. Beagle:  Beagles also originate in England.  They were bred to hunt rabbits, and are considered scent hounds.  They are often used as tracking and detection dogs.
  6. French Bulldog:  Frenchies have both English and French roots-the modern breed is a mix of English bulldogs and French terriers.  Because they often have breathing issues, Frenchies are not usually used as working dogs, but instead enjoy the life of luxury being pets.
  7. Poodle:  Standard poodles have a bit of contested history, with most people believing they have French origins, but there are some that think they have German ancestry.  Wherever they originated from, poodles were originally used as duck hunting dogs.  Their intelligence and excellent sense of smell has led to other uses such as truffle retrieval, assistance dogs, acting/circus performers, and herding and tracking.  Miniature poodles are able to do many of these same tasks, but toy poodles have been bred to mainly be companions.
  8. Rottweiler: Rottweilers originate from Germany.  Their German name translates to “butcher’s dog”.  This is because these dogs were used as herding dogs and to pull carts of meat to the market.  Today Rottweilers are most commonly found as companion dogs.
  9. Yorkshire Terrier:  Yorkies originated in Yorkshire, England, to be used to hunt rats in textile mills.  They are most commonly found as companions nowadays.
  10. Boxer:  Boxers originated in Germany.  They were originally used in hunting, and have found uses as message carriers by the military.  They are mostly kept as companions, though some are used as assistance dogs or police dogs.

As you can see, there are a variety of origins for the most common dogs in the US, but I think we can all agree that for one day each year, everyone is, indeed, Irish.

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The ABCs of Antibiotics

posted on December 01, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Chances are, you have heard of antibiotics.  And in this day and age, you may have heard of a phenomenon called antibiotic resistance.  Then there are things called prebiotics and probiotics.  What are all of these, and what are they used for?

Antibiotics are medications that work against bacteria/bacterial infections.  They work by killing bacteria or stopping the bacteria’s ability to reproduce.  They do not work against parasites, fungal infections, viral infections, or autoimmune diseases in most cases.  The type of antibiotic, the frequency and dose, and the length of treatment are all determined by the type and location of infection, the pet’s overall health, and any other medical conditions that may be present.

An important aspect of using antibiotics is to try to prevent antibiotic resistance.  Resistance is when a particular bacteria develops a way to not be killed off by a particular antibiotic.  It is important to finish the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed, because if you stop early, you may have only killed 90% of the bacteria present, and the remaining 10% may have been better able to resist the antibiotic.  This can lead to the same infection no longer responding to the same antibiotic in the future, which can mean we no longer have a way to treat a potentially life threatening disease.  Only stop your antibiotic early if instructed to do so by a doctor.

Prebiotics and probiotics are in essence the opposite of antibiotics.  They work to promote healthy bacteria in the body.  Prebiotics are nutrients used as fuel by bacteria and promote healthy bacteria colonies.  Probiotics are live bacteria to be introduced into the body, usually into the GI tract.  Pre and probiotics can be used daily as a preventative, or they may be recommended after a course of medication such as antibiotics or chemotherapy to help build up the normal bacteria again.

If you ever have questions about antibiotics being prescribed for your pet, or about pre or probiotics, please don’t hesitate to ask us.

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Back to School

posted on September 01, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As September rolls around, many people are headed back to school.  In the veterinary field, most of us are no longer in school, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t go to a lot of school to get here, and that certainly doesn’t mean we are ever done learning!

Certified veterinary technicians hold either a two year associate or a four year bachelor’s degree from accredited programs.  They partake in an internship at a veterinary clinic as part of their degree program.  Once they graduate, they must take a national test called the NVTE (national veterinary technical examination) to become certified.  Here in Minnesota, technicians are required to also obtain 10 hours of continuing education every 2 years to remain certified.

Veterinarians face a bit more schooling.  Most veterinarians have a bachelor’s degree in a variety of fields including biology, chemistry, and animal science, but they may also have degrees in a variety of other majors including the arts, history, engineering, or business administration.  They must meet the prerequisite list of classes for the veterinary program they are applying to, which usually includes a number of years of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, statistics, and other classes.  Once they have completed the prerequisite courses, they must take a standardized test such as the GRE.  They can then apply to veterinary schools, which often look for volunteer or job shadow experience from animal related jobs, as well as letters of reference and recommendation from employers and professors.

Veterinary school is a 4-5 year program, with the last year usually being a clinical year.  During this clinical year, students take rotations at a working veterinary hospital in areas such as general practice, oncology, radiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, cardiology, surgery, and internal medicine.  They also spend time doing externships at practices outside of the school.  After all of this is completed, they graduate with a doctorate degree.  During this final year of rotations, they must take the national accreditation test, the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Examination).  Once this is passed, many states have their own accreditation test that must be passed.  Here in Minnesota, veterinarians must obtain 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years to keep practicing.

As you can see, there is a lot of schooling involved in the health and care of your pet.  If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a veterinarian or veterinary technician, please contact us to discuss the process more, or to see if we have any job shadowing or internship opportunities available!


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Fresh Faces (and a few familiar ones!)

posted on July 01, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

thumb-2Heritage Animal Hospital is proud to welcome our newest veterinarian, Dr. Kaley Alger.  Dr. Alger is a Minnesota native, having grown up in Rochester.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Animal Science.  She attended the University of Glasgow College of Veterinary Medicine in Glasgow, Scotland, and earned her veterinary degree in 2017.  Professional affiliations include AVMA, RCVS, MVMA, and BSAVA.  Her interests in veterinary medicine include surgery and ultrasound as a diagnostic tool.  When she is not here, she enjoys running, trying new food, and a variety of outdoor activities.  This summer she is also busy planning a wedding, and is looking forward to adopting a puppy in a few months’ time.

Dr. Alger has been with Heritage Animal Hospital for a number of years however, so you may recognize her.  She has worked as an animal care attendant, customer care representative, veterinary technician assistant, and veterinarian intern while she was attending school.


thumbDr. Silverstein is a familiar face.  He owns Heritage Animal Hospital, and has been here since it’s inception in 1991.  He is a 1988 graduate of the University of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine and also holds a B.A. in biology from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Professional affiliations include the AVMA, AAHA, AAFP, IAVPM, and MVMA. Dr. Silverstein has a special interest in technology and its applications to diagnosis and patient care. If you want to distract him, ask him about his family, his poodle Ruby, hockey, or his most recent ski trip.



thumb-1Dr. Hartman is another familiar face.  She has been at Heritage Animal Hospital since 2009.  She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She studied biology and chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for 3 years, and was awarded a B.S. in Veterinary Science from the University of Minnesota. Professional affiliations include AVMA, MVMA, VIN, AEMV, AFA, ASGV, and WVMA. Dr. Hartman is originally from Wisconsin, and after spending much of her life helping on her grandparent’s dairy farm, she decided she wanted to become a small animal veterinarian. Special interests include small mammal “exotics” or pocket pets such as ferrets (which she has owned for 10 years), rabbits, and rodents, dentistry, weight management to improve pet health, and using ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. When not at work, Dr. Hartman enjoys spending time with her English Springer Spaniels-Ace and Afton. She also enjoys reading, quilting, and a variety of arts and crafts.

unnamed 2Dr. Carter is Dr. Silverstein’s wife and together they formed Heritage Animal Hospital.  Dr. Carter was raised in Morris, IL on a working farm. In 1986 she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from North Central College in Naperville, IL. She earned her veterinary degree with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Her professional affiliations include AVMA, MVMA, AAEP, MAEP, and VIN.  Her hobbies include showing and breeding American Saddlebred horses, barn work, reading, and keeping up with Dr. Silverstein and the kids. She is both a small animal and an equine (horse) veterinarian who had her own equine practice.  She still helps out occasionally at Heritage Animal Hospital.

Giving Thanks for our Pets

posted on November 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

There are many reasons we are thankful for our four-legged, furry friends.  Below are just a few!

  1. Comfort and love.  A pet’s love is unconditional.  It doesn’t matter what happened to you during the day, your dog is ready to greet you with a kiss and your cat will cuddle with you regardless.  The physical contact of being with your pet can provide warmth, soothe aches, and may even lower your blood pressure and heart rate which can be beneficial to your health.
  2. Support and mental health benefits.  Pets can help improve our mood, provide us with a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and can help decrease anxiety and overcome loneliness and depression.  Residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities have a positive change when pets are regularly brought in-they become more active and outgoing.  People with pets tend to be more socially interactive as well.  Pets make a great conversation starter and basis for friendship!
  3. Pets can help us get into shape.  Dogs need regular walks, which can motivate us to get more active.  The CDC states that owning a pet has been linked with lower risk for obesity, and also states that decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are additional benefits of owning pets.  Pets can also lead to better control of diabetes and an easier time quitting smoking.  Cat ownership is associated with lower risk of death from heart disease
  4. Pets make us laugh.  Their funny antics and play behavior is often a source of great amusement to us.
  5. Pets provide security.  Dogs can bark at intruders, and there are documented cases of pets waking owners when there are fires in the house.  Just having someone nearby can make you feel more secure.
  6. Pets teach us.  Pets can teach us many of the lessons in life.  They teach kids responsibility.  They teach us the circle of life and loss.  They teach us to love unconditionally and forgive easily.  They can teach us patience, joy, and tenacity.  They can help us grow and can teach us to care for something else above ourselves.

Overall, pets have many attributes which we are all thankful for.  In this month of giving thanks, take time to appreciate your pet too!

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Black Footed Ferrets

posted on August 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

For those of you that know Dr. Hartman, you may know that she has a passion for ferrets.  She has owned 7 of them through her lifetime, and loves seeing them here at the clinic.  Recently, Dr. Hartman was in Colorado visiting family and she was lucky enough to get to meet Louise, a black footed ferret in the recovery program out there.

Black footed ferrets are part of the mustelid family just like our pet ferrets, but they are native to North America whereas our pet ferrets are domesticated descendants of the European polecat.  Black footed ferrets were believed to be extinct in the late 1970s/early 1980s, until a dog named Shep killed one in Meeteetse, Wyoming in September 1981.  This lead to a recovery effort where 18 ferrets were brought into captivity to help repopulate the species.  Of these 18, 6 died, leaving 12 animals left to save to species.

Fast forward 30 some years.  The rescue program has breed over 8500 ferrets from about 300 black footed ferrets kept in captivity.  The offspring have been released into the wild in 24 sites in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and in parts of Canada and Mexico.  Success rates of released black footed ferrets range from 0-75%.  Black footed ferrets depend on prairie dogs as 90% of their food, so plague in the prairie dogs and loss of land for habitat are two big factors affecting their survival.  The goal is to successfully build the wild black footed ferret population back up to 3000 adults.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National  Wildlife Refuge is one of the locations involved in this recovery program.  They have released 30 some ferrets into the 25 square mile preserve with hopes to release more in the future.  Louise is one of their retired breeding ferrets and now serves as an ambassador for education in their exhibit on black footed ferrets.  She had 5 litters through her breeding years, for a total of 12 kits (babies).  In the wild, black footed ferrets live an average of 3 years, but in captivity can live up to around 10 years in captivity.  Dr. Hartman was beyond thrilled to get to meet Louise!

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To find out more about the recovery of the black footed ferret, please check out:

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