Tri-County Small Animal Hospital

Tri-County Small Animal Hospital in Oliver Springs, TN is here to serve all your pet needs.

Heartworm disease in cats: it’s all about prevention! — February 8, 2018

Heartworm disease in cats: it’s all about prevention!


Hello my dedicated readers,

February is full of pink paper hearts, Valentine’s cards, chocolate (you wouldn’t believe how much chocolate they consume at the front desk here) and sharing love with others. Sharing love includes taking care of others so this month we’re focusing on preventing an often fatal disease that affects both perfect cats and smelly dogs: HEARTWORM DISEASE. Unfortunately, heartworm disease is not when your heart feels crushed because that worm-of-a-French poodle didn’t look your way at puppy day care. This preventable, but often fatal, disease can be transmitted to cats or dogs (and other hosts) through just one mosquito bite. One bite! The health consequences of an infected cat are grave. WAIT!! Don’t stop reading just because you have an indoor cat. In the US, 27% of cats infected with heartworms are indoor-only. You open your front door (even in winter- mosquitos are hardly little buggers), and in flies a mosquito looking for an easy target. Fluffy, who spends most of her time napping, grooming, or eating, is that easy target.  According to those smart humans at the American Heartworm Society:

“Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.

Dogs. The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Cats. Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.” (

So how do cats and dogs get heartworms in the first place? Again, blame the mosquito. “The mosquito plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet.” (

Gross, gross, gross. Cats are masters of hiding symptoms of illness; in our case, symptoms of heartworm infection can include coughing, wheezing, vomiting, dyspnea (shortness of breath), tachypnea (abnormally rapid breathing), and weight loss. Luckily, veterinarians can use blood tests, radiographs and ultrasounds to diagnose heartworm disease in kitties. While there is no treatment to kill the heartworms in cats like there is in dogs, veterinarians can provide excellent, supportive care to decrease the body’s inflammatory response to the worms.

Did you hear that veterinarians at UC Davis removed a 13cm heartworm from Stormie’s femoral artery? Egad! Check out the article and video clip of the doctor removing the heartworm here.

It’s not all doom and gloom people! Get your cat tested for heartworms (the doctor will draw a small blood sample and run the 10 minute test in-house) and keep your cat on heartworm preventative ever single month, all year round. The humans at Tri-County Small Animal Hospital have several feline heartworm preventions available that also act as intestinal dewormers and kill ear mites. The take aways are: Heartworm disease is often deadly but it is preventable. There is no approved treatment in cats. Prevention is the only option!

Now go, humans, share the love and get your pet tested and on heartworm preventative today!

For more information on heartworms, go here.

With love and heartworm preventatives,

Bella Bella paw print


While visions of sugarplums (or tuna) dance in our heads… — December 4, 2017

While visions of sugarplums (or tuna) dance in our heads…


Bella and Bob

Hiya humans! You can read that cheerful poem all your want, but don’t go feeding me sugarplums, chocolate, alcohol or anything else dangerous to us kitties (don’t feed those to stinky dogs either, as much as I despise them). Here’s a list of dangerous people food, plants and top ten poisons to keep away from us this holiday season.

Dangerous people foods: chocolates, coffee, caffeine, alcohol, avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, yeast dough, raw/undercooked meats, eggs, bones, xylitol (a sweetener in many products, including some peanut butter), onions, garlic, chives, milk, salt

Dangerous plants: lilies, marijuana, sago palm, tulip/narcissus bulb, azalea/rhododendron, oleander, castor bean, cyclamen, kalanchoe, yew, amaryllis, autumn crocus, chrysanthemum, English ivy, peace lily, pothos, schefflera

Top ten poisons: human medications, insecticides, people food, plants, veterinary medications, rodenticides, household cleaners, heavy metals, garden products, chemical hazards

It’s going to get chillier, so this winter keep pets inside when the temperature is below freezing (or bring them in before then, because 34 degrees feels really cold, too!), make sure outdoor pets have proper shelter and access to unfrozen water, and wipe your pet down if she/he walks through rock salt or chemical de-icers.

Get your pet to the vet ASAP if your suspect hypothermia (signs include a slow pulse, shallow breathing, disorientation, collapse and unconsciousness).  If wet, dry your pet thoroughly and then place warm (not hot) water bottles wrapped in towels around your pet. The ears, paws and other poorly insulated parts of the body may have frostbite; do NOT rub or apply snow or water to these parts. Thaw the area slowly and get your pet to the vet ASAP.

If you have an emergency, we are open Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings. If we’re closed, contact The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine emergency line at (865) 974-8387.

Alright, now that we’ve covered the potential holiday disasters that I hope never befall your pets, you can get back to petting your fur baby! I wish you the meowy-best this December and a happy new year.

Hearts and tuna treats, Bella Bella paw print



Keep Calm and Carry On — August 15, 2017

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep calm and love catsHello  dedicated readers,

Bella here. I’m back from my summer vacation at Key West, where I spent my time eating tuna, lounging under my umbrella, and chasing lizards. It’s August, and since your children/nieces/nephews/ grandchildren are all back in school, it’s time to get Fluffy back to the vet for her yearly check-up or to find out why she’s been refusing to eat her favorite food lately. While we do see lots of stinky canines at my animal hospital, I want to let you know we love cats and want to see even more of them. I know how it goes… you pull out the cat carrier and we head for our best hiding spot. It doesn’t have to be this way! Here are a few tips that should make going to the vet less stressful for everyone involved.

  1. Prep the carrier: Don’t just toss your fur baby into the carrier and think you’ll ever be able to do that again without getting reminded how much we hate it (bite! scratch!). Leave the carrier out several weeks before the visit, if possible, and spray or wipe it down with FELIWAY®. FELIWAY® is a synthetic copy of a facial pheromone that conveys a message of security and reassurance, which we could all use. The humans here sell the wipes for $1.67 + tax/ wipe. Recently, one of our clients couldn’t get his cat, Jenny, into the carrier until he used several of the wipes, and to great success!
  2. Practice rides: once you get your fur baby into the carrier, take her on practice rides. Place a towel with FELIWAY® over the carrier, buckle the carrier into the back seat, and take a short drive. Reward him with treats! Do this a few times before the annual visit and it should be less scary for your fur baby. Never leave him or her unattended in the car. Cars get deadly hot quickly.
  3. Set up your appointment: when you arrive at Tri-County Small Animal Hospital, the humans here will whisk you and your cat through the building’s cat entrance into the feline exam room where they have the FELIWAY® diffuser plugged in. They will cover your carrier with a towel sprayed with FELIWAY®, toss some treats in, and crank up the iCalmCat® tunes.

I hope this information will make it easier to get your fur baby to my animal hospital. If you practice the first two tips throughout the year, it’ll be less scary when you do come in for a visit.

Peace and love to all creatures great and small,

Bella paw printBella



Canine Influenza: There’s a vax for that — June 19, 2017

Canine Influenza: There’s a vax for that

Here we go again: another outbreak of the canine influenza virus, this time in the southern United States, with four confirmed cases in Knoxville, Tennessee. This highly contagious virus is easily spread from infected dog to other dogs, and in 2016 a group of shelter cats in Indiana was infected by infected dogs. Poor cats! Though most dogs recover within 2 to 3 weeks, some develop secondary bacterial infections which may lead to pneumonia.


Here are some facts about canine influenza virus from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

  • The virus is contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs by direct contact, nasal secretions (though barking, coughing or sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.
  • Dogs of any breed, age, sex or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.
  • Currently, two strains of canine influenza have been identified in the US: H3N8 and H3N2.
  • Cats infected with H3N2 show symptoms of upper respiratory illness, including a runny nose, congestion, malaise, lip smacking and excessive salivation.
  • Dogs infected with the virus develop a persistent cough and may develop thick nasal discharge and fever (often 104-105°F). Other signs include lethargy, eye discharge and reduced appetite.
  • Laboratory tests are available to diagnose both H3N8 and H3N2. (The humans at my animal hospital will send the sample to the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.)
  • The annual vaccination is recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs- such as boarding, attending social events with other dogs present, dog parks, grooming facilities, and dog shows.

The Virology Lab at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine has updated information here about their cases of the virus.

The humans at Tri-County Small Animal Hospital offer the vaccine for both strains of the canine influenza virus. Your dog may require a booster vaccine 2 to 4 weeks after the first vaccine.

Any dog showing signs of respiratory disease should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. I may think that dogs are stinky and irritating, but I know it’s no fun to be ill. I need my dog buddies feeling up-to-snuff so I can continue to bug them.

Cuddles and kitty kisses,


Bella paw print


Bob Barker would be proud. — March 31, 2017

Bob Barker would be proud.

              “Come on down to Tri-County Small Animal Hospital to get your pet spayed or neutered!”

Bell and Bob Barker

For the month of April, the humans at Tri-County Small Animal Hospital are offering 10% off spays and neuters. Bring in the coupon from their website or Facebook page, and you’ll save money. I’m “fixed” as you humans say, as are the other two cats in my animal hospital, Tweeter and the Monkeyman. Bob Barker would be proud.

Getting your fur baby spayed or neutered has health benefits, behavioral benefits, and helps prevent overpopulation and millions of unnecessary deaths each year in animal shelters. No kittens for me, and none of the nasty reproductive diseases we ladies can get as we age, such as pyometra (an infected uterus, which is life-threatening) and mammary tumors. When neutered, males are less likely to get prostate and associated urinary problems and won’t develop testicular tumors. They tend to exhibit fewer testosterone-driven negative behaviors, like urine marking, roaming and aggression. If spayed, females are less likely to fight as well, which will reduce a cat’s chance getting feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS) from another cat. By preventing your pet from reproducing, you’re playing a major role in controlling the ever-growing unwanted pet population. Over 3 million fur babies are euthanized in shelters yearly due to lack of homes; this could be prevented by spaying and neutering cats and those stinky dogs!

For your viewing pleasure, and a little humor, I’ve posted a link to an entertaining video, All About That Spay, promoting the spaying and neutering of pets. Get ready to laugh, and then call us to schedule your pet’s surgery at (865) 435-1374. The humans here are happy to answer any questions or concerns you have about your pet’s spay/neuter.

Hearts, Bella Bella paw print                                       

The Best of 2016 — December 27, 2016

The Best of 2016


Happy holidays humans! It’s the end of 2016 and I’ve been studiously working on my “Best of 2016” list. Here it is thus far: TV show (Paw Patrol), song (Pads, Paws and Claws), movie (The Secret Life of Pets), and veterinary client handouts (see below for links to my three favorite). You know you’ve been waiting with (fish) baited breath for my top veterinary client handout list! I’ve posted links for your reading pleasure, compiled from dvm360 and written by veterinarians or veterinary technicians. The first handout, “Google This”, includes six tips for safer web surfing while looking for animal medical information. The second handout , “How to create low-stress veterinary visits for cats”, discusses four ways to make trips to the vet clinic less stressful for us sensitive kitties. Being the generous and amazing fur princess that I am, I’ve included one handout, “Why punishment fails; what works better”, for those misbehaving dogs in your life, since they need all the help they can get. May you have a safe and prosperous New Year, filled with fur, treats, and all that jazz. Hearts, Bella



Diabetes Awareness Month & How Dogs Can be Helpful — November 5, 2016

Diabetes Awareness Month & How Dogs Can be Helpful

Hello dedicated readers! Fall has arrived, and with it, kitty sweaters, crunchy leave to chase, and more time to relax. November is Diabetes Awareness Month and it’s important to me that you know the signs of this disease so you can get your fur baby screened and treated if necessary. If your kitty or pup has any of the following:

  • increased thirst,
  • increased urination,
  • increased hunger while losing weight,
  • decreased activity (less active/sleeps more),
  • cloudy eyes (dogs),
  • doesn’t grooms (cats), or
  • thinning, dry, or dull hair,

you should talk with your veterinarian about getting your pet screened for diabetes. With proper management and monitoring, a dog or cat with diabetes can lead a healthy, happy, and active life ( Diabetes screening at Tri-County Small Animal Hospital (which I let my humans operate) involves a general health exam, sampling your pet’s urine for the presence for glucose or ketones, and testing your pet’s blood to determine blood glucose levels. Diabetes is diagnosed when persistently high glucose levels are found in both the blood and urine. Treatment typically involves daily insulin injections and some manageable lifestyle changes.

Pet diabetes can lead to other health problems, such as formation of cataracts (dogs) and weakness of the hind legs due to nerve damage (cats), both resulting from persistently high blood glucose levels. Controlling high blood glucose levels can lead to healthier outcomes, so it’s important to get an early diagnosis.

Diabetes service dogs can alert humans with diabetes when a hypoglycemic episode beings. (As amazing as these canines are, this is the first and only time I’ll post a picture of dogs on my kitty blog.)

On another note, did you know that diabetes service dogs can alert a human with diabetes when a hypoglycemic episode begins? They are trained to recognize the changes in their human’s blood chemistry and alert them. Dogs may be smelly, but they can be amazingly helpful, too.

I’ll be posting more information throughout the month about diabetes on our Facebook page, so stay tuned.

IMG_3712 (1)





Hearts and licks, Bella the (beautiful, vivacious, fluffy, and sassy) Cat