Fleas, Ticks and Your Pet

Fleas, Ticks and Your Pet

Fleas are probably the most common ectoparasite (external parasite) of dogs and cats worldwide.  In addition to just being a nuisance, flease are responsible for flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in dogs and cats, which is estimated to account for over 50 percent of all the dermatological cases reported to veterinarians.

Ticks are also ectoparasites.  Ticks are important vectors of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease.  Ticks are second only to mosquitoes as vectors of human disease, both infectious and toxic.  Control and prevention of ticks is extremely important in reducing the risk of disease associated with ticks.

Year-Round Prevention

Parasites can infect your pet any time of year.  While external parasites, such as fleas and ticks, may be less of a problem during certain times of the year, depending on where you live, internal parasites can be present year round.  This is why it is important to keep your pet on prevention year-round.


Common questions about fleas/ticks

Why should I control parasites for my pet year-round?

Due to the large number of internal and external parasites and the hig risk of pet infection, controlling parasites year-round is the most reliable way to ensure the highest level of health for your pet and well-being of your family.  Year-round prevention is the most effective way to control can and dog parasites and the diseases they can carry.  People think their pets are safe during colder months, but pets are susceptible to flea and tick infections at all times of the year.  And regardless of the weather, many of these pests can even survive in your home – in carpeting, on furniture and in the cracks of hardwood floors.

Do fleas on my pet present a health risk to my family?

Yes.  Fleas can carry and transmit several potential illnesses of importance to humans, including typhus and plagues, and can transmit “cat scratch disease” (infection with Bartonella) among cats who can then spread the disease to humans.  Additionally, fleas serve as an intermediate host for tapeworms, which can infect your pet and occasionally humans.

What human-health problems are associated with ticks?

Ticks transmit a large number of diseases in North America.  These diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, relapsing fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia and tick paralysis.  It is important for the health of your pet, as well as the safety of your family, to include ticks in your pet’s year-round parasite control program.  Parasites are also known to cause blindness in children.

What if my cat never goes outside?

Indoor cats have less chance of acquiring fleas and ticks, but they should be regularly checked.  Other pets and family members can be hosts for fleas and ticks (on pant cuffs or socks) and bring them home to your indoor cat.  To prevent any chance of infestation, it is best to keep your cat on monthly preventive year-round.

Tips to Protect Your Family and Your Pet

  • Wash your hands well after contact with an animal.
  • Do not allow children to put dirt in their mouths.
  • Pick up dog and cat was from your yard daily, especially in areas where both children and animals play.
  • Cover home sandboxes to protect them from fecal contamination.
  • Have your pet tested regularly (at least once a year) for parasites and administer year-round preventive medications to control internal parasites that present a rick to your pet and your family.



What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis, or lepto, is a deadly bacterial disease spread by wildlife and domestic animals.

  • Lepto is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed from animals to people.
  • Lepto has been diagnosed in all types of dogs.  All breed and sizes of dogs are at risk.
  • Common lepto carriers include raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rats and other dogs.  Livestock can also carry the disease.
  • Lepto bacteria can survive for long periods in water.
  • The number of canine leptospirosis cases has risen dramatically in recent years.  Today, lepto is the #1 cause of acute kidney failure in dogs.
  • Early recognition of leptospirosis is important for a full recovery.


How is my dog exposed?

Lepto bacteria are shed in urine.  Dogs become infected when they come into contact with urine from infected animals.

  • Infection occurs when dogs wade through or drink from contaminated water sources.
  • The bacteria can enter through a cut in the skin or mucous membranes, such as the eye, nose or mouth.


Is your dog at risk?

Because lepto carriers reside in many locations, dogs living in urban, suburban and rural areas can be at risk.

  • Does your dog go outdoors?
  • Does your dog drink from or wade in standing water?
  • Is your dog exposed to areas where wildlife has been?
  • Do you take your dog to dog parks or daycare?
  • Do you live in a newly developed area or near farmland or woods?
  • Has lepto been diagnosed in your area in dogs or people?


Take Steps to Protect

 Every dog that ventures outdoors is at risk for lepto.  Take steps now to protect your pet.

  • Remove food, garbage and nesting material from your yard  to minimize wildlife activity.
  • Discourage your dog from drinking standing water.
  • Most importantly, ask us about protection with the Lepto vaccine.


(Courtesy Fort Dodge LeptoVax Pamphlet)



The rabies virus represents a serious risk to people and their pets – with hundreds of cases in pets each year in the United States alone.  All it takes to contract this deadly disease is exposure to an infected animal through a scratch, cut or bite.

Fortunately, there’s something you can do.  A simple vaccination is the best way to help protect your pet against rabies.  Even if you keep your pet indoors, it should still be vaccinated — and it’s require by law!


What is rabies?

Rabies is an acute viral infection that can affect all warm-blooded animals – including dogs and cats.  The disease is almost always caused by the bite of an infected animal that has rabies virus in its saliva.  Younger animals are usually more susceptible to rabies infection.  And it’s always fatal once clinic signs appears.

What if my pet has possible been exposed?

If your pet has been bitten by or exposed to a wild or potentially rabid animal, speak with us immediately and report it to local animal control authorities.  Even if your pet has a current vaccine, you should still contact us.

Signs and Prevention

Once the rabies virus enters the body, it travels along the nerves to the brain.  It can take a matter of days, weeks or months for your pet to show signs of the rabies virus.

Infected animals often show anxiety, aggression, restlessness and erratic behavior.  They also may develop weakness, poor coordination or tremors.  Wild rabid animals commonly lose their fear of humans. Species that are normally nocturnal may be seen wandering about during the day.

Dogs, cats or ferrets that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal may need to be euthanized or placed in strict isolation for six months. 

Vaccinate to Protect Your Pet

We are committed to helping you make the best choices for your pet’s health.  To give your pet the protection it needs, we recommend vaccination with the IMRAB rabies vaccine. 

What Else Can You Do?

  • Don’t leave garbage or pet food outdoors.
  • Observe all wild or stray animals.
  • If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to your local animal control authorities. 


(Information courtesy of Merial)

Jessica Kiffner

Jessica Kiffner: bringer of the baked goods!


Please help us in welcoming our newest technician, Jessica Kiffner!

Jessica hails from Fort Wayne, Indiana and with her, she brings a husband, a dog, Juneau, and two cats to the great state of Ohio.  Jessica attended Purdue University where she received her degree in Veterinary Technology.

In her spare time, Jessica enjoys kayaking, walking, photography, gardening, wildlife, and traveling.   She has a talent for the violin, but she considers herself a non-practicing musician.

Infectious Tracheobronchitis

More popularly known as Kennel Cough, Infectious Tracheobronchitis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through airborne droplets.  Infectious Tracheobronchitis spreads freely at boarding facilities, grooming facilities, dog parks – basically any social situation that you may find a dog in.

Like whooping cough in humans, kennel cough is an inflammation of the upper airways.  It is typically a mild disease, but still has the ability to advance into life-threatening pneumonia in puppies.

The signs of Infectious Tracheobronchitis

  • The main clinical sign = a hoarse cough
  • Cough can begin three to ten days after exposure
  • Bouts of severe coughing
  • Loud, high-pitched “honking”
  • Dogs may cough up phlegm, which looks like vomiting
  • Depression, lethargy, and loss of appetite
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes

In order to diagnose kennel cough, we will ask you about recent exposure to infected or susceptible dogs and consider the clinical signs that we are seeing.   The doctor will also palpate the trachea to initiate coughing.  Once diagnosed, most dogs will be prescribed medication to lessen the cough.  It is recommended that infectious dogs be isolated until ALL signs have disappeared to prevent the spreading of the disease.  To avoid most cases of kennel cough, we recommend an annual vaccination that works quickly to immunize dogs, and is proven safe and effective.   Prevention is key!


Scott Brown

Scott Brown

Scott Brown comes to us from Dover, Ohio.  A recent graduate of The Ohio State University, Scott majored in Biology with a minor in Animal Science.  A stellar asset to our team, Scott has aspirations of returning to veterinary school in the near future. 

Raised around German Shorhaird Pointers, he currently shares his home with two of them.  In his spare time, he enjoys video games,  golfing, airsofting, and rollerblading.
When asked what movie title best describes his life, Scott answered with:  “Live and Let Die”.


It’s Time for Ticks!

It’s warm outside.  The sun is shining.  The birds are chirping.

The grass is growing.  The dogs are playing.


Adult Tick.


The tick’s purpose in life is to propagate its species.  And in order to do so, it must eat.  The tick meets its daily nutritional requirement by feasting on the blood of its host.   The adult female tick needs a large 3-day blood meal before she can reproduce and lay her eggs – 2,000 or more!!  Ick!
A tick after its dinner.

Today, we saw two dogs that had been outdoors for extended periods of time over the past few days.  One was enjoying life at the lake and came home with a few souvenirs that she didn’t purchase – 12 ticks!  We removed the ticks and sent her home with topical tick medication to help prevent this problem in the future.   Do you have your pet’s prevention ready to go?

It may only be March, but thanks to the mild winter and unseasonably warm temperatures we have been experiencing lately, it’s time to start your dog and cat on prevention if you haven’t already done so!  We have seen fleas and ticks on our patients all winter, so we can only imagine how bad the upcoming season is going to be.
And don’t think that just because your cat is indoor-only will prevent him or her from becoming infested with fleas.  Fleas LOVE to travel and they will take a ride on anything that comes and goes – INCLUDING YOU!  If you go outdoors, your cat is at risk for contracting fleas!   Show your cat some love and treat them monthly for heartworms, fleas and intestinal parasites.
We have a wide range of products to help you stay on track to prevent fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites.  Give us a call or stop by during clinic hours to stock up!




Teresa Rill

Teresa Rill

Teresa has worked at Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital since the days of Dr. Rebecca Miller and continues to be a great asset to our team.  She is the mother of 4 grown kids and works full-time for Grandview Public Schools.  With a big heart and a soft spot for animals in need, Teresa has rescued two of her animals, Steve and Kizzie, from our clinics.

In her spare time, Teresa enjoys taking in shows with friends, going to the movies, reading and spending time with her family. 

Teresa with Kizzie


Stem Cell Use – In Photos!

Removing the stem cells.



Today, Dr. Adam Parson harvested adipose tissue from two dogs, which was then spun down, cut, mixed and separated.  Upon completion, the extracted stem cells were injected into the affected joints of each dog.

Stem cells can be used to help ease the discomfort from Osteoarthritis, Tendon/Ligament Damage or a Broken Bone.  Stay tuned for updates on each dog, but for now, enjoy some photos from the procedures today!

Harvesting the adipose tissue.


Dr. AJ Wildman

Dr. AJ Wildman

Dr. Amanda James Wildman joined our practice in 2010 after working for several years at a clinic in Reynoldsburg.  A native of Newton, Connecticut, Dr. Wildman received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, then went on to The Ohio State University and graduated with a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. 

In her spare time, Dr. Wildman enjoys reading, shopping, swimming, doing crossword puzzles, spending time with her family and watching movies.  A little interesting fact about Dr. Wildman:  She has 2 sets of twins – 3 boys and a girl!

When asked “What movie title best describes your life?” , her answers were ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ and ‘Wild at Heart’. 

Feline Herpes Virus

Is your feline friend bothered by recurring conjunctivitis?  Feline herpes virus (FHV-1) may be to blame.  FHV-1 is widespread in the general cat population and is transmitted by close contact with infected cats.  It is highly contagious, making cat-crowded environments perfect places for HFV-1 to thrive.  The virus can remain viable for up to 18 hours, so infected bedding and kennels can also easily lead to an outbreak.

Seeing the Signs

Unfortunately, kittens are most susceptible to FHV-1, especially when maternal antibodies start waning at eight to twelve weeks.  Because so many kittens end up in shelters, many of them are exposed before they can be adopted.

Once infected with FHV-1, kittens and cats develop conjunctivitis.  Reddened, swollen, itchy eyes with increased discharge are the hallmark symptoms, and in viral cases, painful corneal ulcers may develop.  Most cats recover within two weeks, but severe cases may take longer.

After the first infection, more than 80% of infected cats become latently infected, meaning the virus does not completely vanish.  About have of them will have recurring infections, as the virus reactivates spontaneously or in response to stress.  Infections typically show up about a week after a stressful event, such as travel, boarding or the use of steroids, which can suppress the immune system.  The affected cat will be contagious to fellow felines for one to two weeks, but healthy adult cats probably have immune systems strong enough to withstand the threat – but that is not always the case!

The diagnosis of FHV-1 is often a presumptive diagnosis, meaning it is treated based on specific symptoms rather than test results.  Anti-viral medications may be needed in severe cases, when the disease may lead to blindness.

Sight for Sore Eyes

Cats with recurring conjunctivitis may show symptoms in both eyes or in only one eye (it tends to be the same eye each time).  Antibiotics will not kill the virus, but where there is also a bacterial infection, antibiotic drops may be prescribed for the eyes

There is no cure for latent viral infection, and there is no prevention for uninfected cats.  However, supportive therapy may shorten the disease’s life:

* L-lysine:  This amino acid, which inhibits the replication of FHV-1, is available as a powder you can sprinkle on food and as tempting treats.

* Interferons:  These proteins are produced by cells in response to viruses.  When given to affected cats, they seem to limit the infection of healthy cells.



Jennifer Robbins

Jennifer Robbins


Coming to us from small town Howard, Ohio, Jennifer Robbins is our newest employee.  Jennifer attended the Bradford Business School with an emphasis on Accounting, and after working in the banking industry for a time, she returned to the veterinary field.  With 12 years experience, Jennifer is a knowledgable and compassionate member of our team.

Jennifer’s family has raised standardbred race horses for years, and she enjoys being a part of the training process, while riding and racing them when she can.  In addition to partial ownership of horses, Jennifer also lives with a calico cat named Callie.   

When asked “If you could sum up your life in a movie title, what would it be?”, her response was Trotting Towards Victory.


Nearly 20% of all dogs in the U.S. suffer from canine arthritis.  This disease develops gradually over time, and can cause your dog pain and prevent him from performing the simplest of tasks, like climbing the stairs or walking.

An X-ray image shows a healthy hip in contrast to an arthritic hip.

Canine arthritis occurs in your dog’s joints.  A healthy joint consists of cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones in a joint.  The cartilage has no nerves; when it touches the cartilage of another bone, the dog feels no pain.

However, arthritis causes the cartilage to wear away.  This exposes the bone, which has many nerves.  So when two bones touch each other, your dog feels pain.  This pain can greatly affect your dog’s quality of life.

When bones continually rub against each other, they will eventually change shape.  The bone reshaping can make it difficult – or sometimes impossible – for your dog to walk or move naturally.  Arthritis can be managed much more successfully when it is diagnosed and treated early in the process.

Signs of Canine Arthritis

– Sluggishness
– Tiredness
– Low Activity
– Reluctance to walking, running, climbing stairs, jumping, or playing
– Lagging behind on walks
– Reluctance to extend rear legs
– Soreness
– Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
– Other personality or behavioral changes.


Are you concerned that your pet might have arthritis?  Take a minute and ask yourself the following questions:

The Arthritis Checklist

1.  Does your dog hesitate before jumping onto the bed or couch, or have difficulty getting in or out of the car?
2.  Does your dog seem to be lagging behind during walks? 
3.  Does your dog hesitate to go up and down stairs?
4.  Does your dog sometimes seem stiff or shaky when rising or walking?
5.  Does your dog show signs of discomfort?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time to make an appointment and have an examination performed on your dog.  In addition to an exam, the doctor may consider taking a X-ray of the specified joint to determine the severity of the arthritis.


My dog has arthritis.  What are my options?

There are a few things you can do at home to help alleviate the pain of arthritis, such as low-impact exercise, decreasing the amount of food and treats given in hopes of dropping a few pounds, and using portable ramps for getting in and out of cars or onto the bed.

The introduction of pain relievers (Tramadol) and anti-inflammatory drugs (Rimadyl, Deramaxx) are also an option.  In addition to oral medications, the injectable drug Adequan has been shown to prevent the further deterioration of cartilage in joints.  And it’s never too early to think about supplements: Glucosamine and Chondroitin can be found in several forms including pills, treats and chews.   As always, see your vet before starting any medication regimen, as some of the medications listed require regular bloodwork.

If you are concerned that your dog may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.  The sooner we can treat the problem, the more comfortable your dog will be.

And to our feline patients, we haven’t forgot about you!  Arthritis can affect our feline friends as well.  Is your cat a bit older?  Maybe you’ve noticed him having difficulty getting in and out of the litter box (or even having accidents in the house) or hopping onto his favorite spot?  If so, we want to see them, too!

A clear sign your cat has arthritis.


To Schedule an Appointment, Please call:
Northstar Animal Care  (614) 488-4121
Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital  (614) 481-8014

Be sure to visit our Facebook pages!



Advance Stem Cell Technologies

We’ve all heard about stem cell research in the news, but did you know that the stem cell therapy can be used in our animal friends?   Dr. Adam Parson has used this technology in our clinic on a chocolate Labrador to help with the pain and discomfort of arthritis.  While this is not an inexpensive endeavor, the owner was wanting to do all she could, and reported that her dog was jogging around the back yard shortly after the procedure! 


What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cells are the body’s repair cells.  They have the ability to divide and differentiate into many different types of cells based on where they are needed throughout the body.  Stem cells can divide and turn into tissues such as skin, fat, muscle, bone, cartilage, and nerve to name a few.  They even possess the ability to replicate into organs such as the heart, liver, intestines, pancreas, etc.

Why do we take the cells from adipose (fat) tissue?
Adult stem cells are highly concentrated in the fat tissue.  There are 50 to 1,000 times more stem cells in the fat than the bone marrow.  At this concentration, it is no longer necessary to culture the stem cells to acquire the necessary cell numbers to make a healing impact.  The procedure to extract fat from the patient is much quicker and less invasive than a spay.  The stem cells are contained within a pool of cells in the fat termed the Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF).  The SVF may impart anti-inflammatory effects, add bioactive peptides, and contribute to reformation and architectural organization.  These are benefits lost once stem cells are cultured. 

What can we do with the stem cells?
Adult stem cells are capable of dividing into many different cell types.  With this capability, we can use them as a treatment for joint injuries, ligament and tendon damage, and fractured bones.  Research and clinical trials currently support the use of stem cells in these conditions.  Ongoing research is targeting other areas of the body for treatment and the preliminary results are very encouraging.


If you are interested in learning more about stem cell research, please visit the link below.  And as always, be sure to check out our Facebook pages! 


Dr. Joanna Parson

Dr. Joanna Parson

Joanna Parson.  Wife to Adam.  Mother to Emma and Jack.  Friend to all. 

This Brooklyn, NY native graduated from The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2003.  After completing an internship at MedVet Medical Center for Pets, she began working as an ER doctor and spent the next 4 years in that position.  After the purchase of Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Parson left MedVet to run the newly acquired clinic.  Dr. Parson has a small brood of critters at her house, including Hank, Julio, Stephanie, Mike, and Nugget. 


Julio & Stephanie Parson

In her spare time, Dr. Parson enjoys spending time with her children, shopping,  traveling, dancing, and going out for a night on the town with her husband.


PS – Be sure to check out our Facebook pages.

Mandi Justus – Manager Extraordinaire

Mandi Justus, Practice Manager

We are pleased to introduce our practice manager, Mandi Justus.  Mandi has been in the veterinary field for nearly 14 years, with 5 of those years spent at Northstar Animal Care and Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital.  She has her hands in many aspects of the clinic, from ordering supplies and making schedules to keeping the finances (and Dr. Adam) in check!  😉

Mandi is from Westerville and currently resides in Worthington with her husband, Paul, whom she married July 2010.  They also share their home with two dogs, Eddie and Ellie, and two cats, Stetson and Zedo.
Ellie Justus
Mandi and Paul are quite the fishing pair, spending their days off together at a local lake, state park or Lake Erie.   When they aren’t out searching for the perfect catch, they enjoy movies, a little car racing, and going to a concert now and then.
When asked “If you could sum up your life in a movie title, what would it be?”, Mandi wasted no time in answering It’s a Wonderful Life. 
PS – Remember to check out our Facebook pages!


Dr. Adam Parson

Dr. Adam D. Parson


A native of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Dr. Adam Parson discovered an early interest in veterinary medicine.  At a young age, his first job in the industry included cleaning cages, sweeping the floor and mowing the grass.  Over time, Dr. Parson was helping with surgeries and became a veterinary assistant.  After completing his undergraduate degree at High Point University in North Carolina, Dr. Parson made the trek back to Ohio and received his doctorate from The Ohio State University in 2002. 

Dr. Parson shares his Upper Arlington home with his wife, Joanna and their three children, Chance, Emma, and Jack.  In addition to the two-legged family members,  a few four-legged member call the Parson abode their home:  Hank, Julio, Stephanie, Mike, and Nugget. 

When he’s not in the clinic, Dr. Parson enjoys hiking, golfing and taking his son, Chance, snowboarding.  With young children at home, he is kept very busy with school and extracurricular activities.  In addition to his family responsibilities, Dr. Parson is the president of the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society, a Freemason and a member of the Tri-Village Rotary Club. 

Dr. Parson’s commitment to providing the best care for his patients extends to his research into innovative medical procedures and research.  From stem cell transplants to assist canine patients with arthritis to learing new orthopedic surgical techniques, Dr. Parson will leave no stone unturned. 


PS – Don’t forget to check out our Facebook pages!  And feel free to comment on our blogs! 


The Man of the House

Welcome to our blog!

We want to take the time to introduce you to the people and pets that make up our Northstar and Upper Arlington family.  So we thought it wise to start with the one at the top.  The big cheese.  The top dog.



 Hank lives with the Parson’s and came to them by way of a Mt. Vernon veterinary clinic, where he was brought in for a parvovivus infection.  He comes to work nearly everyday with Dr. Adam, and uses his charms to get treats out of unsuspecting people.  

No, he isn’t REALLY the boss, but he is certainly a mascot for our practices.   He greets everyone with a big wag of his tail and is always on his best behavior!  Hank is also known to save a life or two every now and then — he is our number one donator, ready to help any dog in need by giving his blood. 

When Hank isn’t busy working at the practice, he enjoys playing fetch with very big sticks (he’s been known to attempt fetch with a small sapling), taking long naps and going for car rides.

Next time you’re in the clinic, say ‘hello’ to Hank!


 PS – Be sure to check out our Facebook pages!



On-Line Pet Pharmacies

We all like to save a few dollars when we can, but were you aware of some of the risks that can be associated with on-line pharmacies? The manufacturers of products such as Frontline, Advantage and Interceptor do not guarantee their product if purchased from an on-line pharmacy. Just a little food for thought next time you purchase your pets monthly preventatives. Our prices our now VERY competitive (if not cheaper) with that of 1-800-PetMeds and the like! We also have our own on-line ordering system — visit us at www.columbusvetcare.com. All of our products are backed the the manufacturer and at competitive prices!

Poinsettia Toxicity



Scientific Name:
Euphorbia pulcherrima
 Toxic to Dogs, Toxic to Cats
Toxic Principles:
Irritant Sap (latex)
Clinical Signs:
Irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity.