Canine Influenza… an update from Dr. Benoit

As the human flu season thankfully fades into our rear view mirror, I thought I would write a quick note on Canine Influenza, or Dog Flu. The Dog Flu is relatively new to the US, and there are two common strains seen H3N2 which is a variant of avian flu from Hong Kong, and H3N8 which has equine origin.

Dog flu has been isolated in nearly every state, see our Dog Flu Outbreak Map. The majority of dogs in the country are naïve to the viruses, so virtually all dogs exposed will become infected.
Dogs who are infected with the flu will present with fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, decreased appetite and lethargy. Though the disease is very rarely fatal, mortality rate between 1%-8% have been reported in puppies and elderly populations of dogs. 

Dog Flu is spread through direct contact, through coughing and sneezing, and can be transferred through things such as clothing.
There are very effective vaccines available for the Dog Flu. At SouthCare we now offer the bivalent flu vaccine [which covers both strains of the flu].  Two vaccines spaced 2-3 weeks apart are required for good protection, and the pet is adequately protected about 7 days after the final vaccine.

Dog Flu has not yet made it’s way to Spokane, but recent outbreaks have been reported in Idaho, Oregon, and California. As of January 22nd 2018, four dogs have tested positive from a kennel in Kent, WA – these pets were not vaccinated for the Dog Flu. We want dog owners to be prepared, as if and when it does arrive, it is expected to travel through the at risk population rather quickly.
Not every dog is at high risk. Click here to see a life style based calculator to help you determine if your pet is at risk.

Generally we feel that these dogs are at higher risk:
• Dogs who travel to dog shows, agility events, or hunting trials.
• Dogs who frequent dog parks
• Dogs who are boarded often or attend doggie daycare.

If you are unsure whether your pet is at risk, or wish to schedule vaccinations please contact us. 509-448-4480

It is not a core vaccination, such as rabies,  so you should not assume your dog has had the vaccine.
What dogs are at risk?
We recommend the vaccine for dogs who:
**Go to Dog Daycare
**Go to Dog Parks
**Go to Boarding Kennels, Dog Shows/Events and Grooming Facilities.
If you feel your dog is at risk or if you aren’t sure about your dog’s risk, feel free to call us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

If you’re concerned that your pet may be exhibiting any respiratory signs – coughing or sneezing, or if you think your pet may have been exposed to any type of respiratory infection – call us. If you are able, please call us prior to bringing your pet in the hospital, or when you arrive. When you arrive for your appointment we are happy to come out to your car. We prefer to have an exam room ready for you and your pet, to minimize possible exposure to other patients if warranted.

In-Home Euthanasia Services

In-Home Euthanasia Services

We understand that facing the loss, or euthanasia of a pet can be difficult, which is why we are here to assist you in choosing the best option that is right for you and your pet. In-home euthanasia and hospice care services can be provided during your family’s time of need. There are some questions that you may be facing.
– Should I pursue treatment for my pet? If so, for how long?
– Will my pet significantly benefit from treatment or suffer more?
– Am I able to properly care for my pet during this time?
– When should I consider euthanasia?

We understand that these questions may be difficult to answer, and therefore we are here to provide assistance.

A common question we hear when someone is trying to decide if it’s time to say goodbye to their beloved pet is “how will I know?” Some furry family members make it very clear to their owners when it is time. Other pets may try to hang in as long as possible for their family. In either scenario, there are questions that you can ask to help your family reach a decision.

– Is your pet experiencing chronic pain that can no longer be controlled with medication?
– Is your pet having frequent vomiting or diarrhea that is causing significant dehydration or weight loss?
– Have they stopped eating / drinking, or will only eat if being force fed?
– Are they incontinent to the degree that they frequently soil themselves?
– Has he or she lost all interest in the usual “fun” activities (walks, toys, soliciting pets)?
– Is your pet no longer able to walk, or frequently falls down when trying to walk?
– Is he or she having labored breathing or coughing?
– Does your pet have a loss of quality of life?

If you still are unsure, additional tips and questions to ask can be found here:  Making the Euthanasia Decision


Below is a description of the process of an appointment, and options, for euthanasia with us at SouthCare:
Once your family has decided it is time to say goodbye, we offer a few options to best suit your situation.

In hospital euthanasia can be done based you and your pet’s needs.
-If the family would like to remain with your pet, we are able to provide an attended euthanasia.
-If you do not wish to be present during this procedure, we can admit your pet, without judgement, to our hospital and our doctors and staff will compassionately care for them.
Plenty of kisses are always provided to each patient.

In-home euthanasia can be provided for those that wish to keep their pet in a familiar environment. At SouthCare we provide in home services to multiple locations. Please call to confirm that your home is within our service area. In the event we are not able to provide services at your location, we will refer you to a doctor that is best suited to your area. SouthCare End of Life Services

In-home euthanasia appointments:
• You and your family have made the decision to say goodbye to your beloved furry family member.
• Please give us a call so that we can have you speak with a doctor and figure out the day and time best suited for your situation. If you choose to have your pet cremated, we will go over the options at this time.
• The day before your appointment, we will contact you to confirm the appointment time. We will also contact you the day of the appointment to collect payment over the phone.
• Our doctor and technician will arrive at your home and answer any remaining questions that you may have. Your family may wish to say goodbye in a special room in the home, or outside with plenty of cheeseburgers – this is all up to you.
• We are happy to accommodate your family’s needs for the appointment; however, our staff may make recommendations to help make your appointment peaceful.


The process of a peaceful passing:

In most cases, your pet will be given an injection to calm them down and/or relive any discomfort. After your pet is relaxed and comfortable our technician will place an IV catheter.

When your family is ready, the euthanasia solution will be given. Usually within 6-12 seconds after the solution is injected your pet will take a slightly deeper breath, then go into what looks like a deep sleep. This is a painless, and fast acting procedure.

The doctor will listen to the heart and let you know your pet has passed away. If you would like to spend a few moments alone with your pet, we will give you the time that you need.

If you have chosen to have your pet cremated our staff will respectfully bring the deceased pet with them. We will contact you when we receive the ashes back, if you wish to keep them. In some cases, the cremation facility may pick up the pet directly from your home immediately following the appointment – this will be relayed to you prior to our arrival.


Coping with the loss of your loved one:

The loss of a beloved pet companion can be just as hard as losing a human friend or family member. Sometimes pets are all the family that some people have had. There may have been a deep bond between human and pet and each truly loved and cherished each other. It is just as important to take care of yourself when a pet dies as when you lose a human family member – even more so because non pet owners might not understand your grief.


One way to take care of yourself is to make a memorial.

A memorial is a wonderful way to remember a lost pet. It is a place to keep alive the memory of your special bond with your pet. A memory page helps with the grieving process. We make it easy to make an online memorial. All you need to do is click here to get started.

We also offer an Online Pet Loss Library. There are many articles written by grief professionals that will address many of the questions you may have when dealing with the loss of a pet.  It also offers stories and articles for others who have experienced a similar loss. Visit our Pet Loss Library.

There are times when we just need someone to talk to. WSU provides a free Pet Loss Hotline. Volunteers provide compassionate support  to help those thought the death or impending death of a pet. They can be reached Mon-Thur 7p-9p & Sat 1p-3p:   1-866-266-8635.


We understand that this is a difficult, and special time for your family. We aim to provide a calm, peaceful opportunity to say goodbye to your pet in the comfort of your own home. Every pet that we allow to pass on is treated with the respect that they deserve. If you have any questions for us, please contact us 509-448-4480.


World Rabies Day!

Thursday, September 28th 2017 – The day when the nations of the world make a commitment to eliminate rabies by 2030. World Rabies Day is the first and only global day of action and awareness for rabies prevention. A common goal of zero deaths from canine rabies by 2030 was agreed on by the World Health Orginization, World Organisation for Animal Health, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and  the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. It is now up to all of us to make this goal possible.

Vaccine clinic – Paul G Allen School for Global Animal Health

Some may ask, why focus on rabies when there are other life threatening diseases in the world? Rabies is 100% preventable, and 99.9% fatal once symptoms manifest. Every 15 minutes a human dies from rabies – that is over 59,000 people a year. It is also called the “forgotten disease of the poor”, a disease where no one lives to tell the tale. 95% of deaths occur in Africa and Asia, many of those lives lost are children under the age of 15.  Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing nearly all cases of transmission – these dogs could be domestic pets, or feral packs. Source: WHO

In rural remote areas communities may have domestic dogs that are cared for by one family or the community. As children play with their dogs or neighbor dogs, a bite or scratch may occur. This may happen for a number of reasons – the children startled the dogs, or were stuck in the middle of a fight, possibly feral packs may move through the area and bite a pet dog. Once a child is bitten the family must make a decision, fast.

  1. Was there a chance this bite could have been from a dog that carries rabies?
  2. Can the family afford to pay for post-exposure prophylaxis [PEP]? The cost is $100, which is 3 MONTHS salary.
  3. If a family can gather enough funding to pay for the PEP, can they find transport to a clinic on the day the child was bitten?

If a parent is not able to afford the treatment, or find transportation, then a difficult choice must be made.


The family must take the risk and hope the dog that bit the child, was not infected.  Then, the family must wait 4-12 weeks to see if thier child develops any neurological symptoms. However, the incubation period can range from a few days to six years. If thier child starts to have flu-like symptoms such a fever or weakness, it is too late. Their child will die from rabies, and there is nothing that can be done.


The saddest part of this story, it was 100% preventable. Once 70% of dogs in a region are vaccinated “herd immunity” is reached. At this level of vaccination coverage, the virus is unable to spread in a dog population that has immune protection, and it eventually dies out.

How do we, as a global community, prevent these deaths caused by rabies? It starts with working with local veterinarians teamed up with various organizations. These groups: WSU Paul G. Allen School for Global Health, Merck Animal Health, World Organisation for Animal Health – are only a few that have helped to end rabies now. You combine this with game changing discoveries such as thermo-tolerant vaccines which allows delivery to remote, underserved communities.


These teams travel to the areas most affected, in Africa and Asia. Doctors and support staff go to the schools and educate the children on the importance of vaccination, and notify them when vaccination clinics will be held. The children then educate their parents, the parents teach their neighbors until the community as a whole is reached. Then small teams travel to these rural locations and vaccinate the pets of the community.  We reach 70% heard immunity and eradicate rabies in one village, and go to the next village, and the next village, and the next one. We end rabies NOW.

At SouthCare Animal Medical Center we help you and your pets fight against this terrible disease. With EVERY rabies vaccine we give, we donate $1 to the WSU Eliminate Rabies Fund. You and your pets are saving lives by simply receiving the vaccines that they would be already be getting.  If you choose, you can also donate to the Eliminate Rabies Fund by clicking here.


If you would like to help by vaccinating your pet you can schedule an appointment with us online here: SouthCare Appointment Request


We would love to see you and help eliminate rabies by 2030!



Getting skunk spray off your pets

Oh, no! Max has been skunked! You know what has happened long before Max made it into the house. It’s that super strong smell that can’t be ignored- skunk spray! Poor Max was having such a great time…. right until he wasn’t.

Striped skunk

How do we get rid of this terrible odor? There’s a few options for you and Max. First things first. Keep Max out of the house. If Max took a direct hit to his eyes they will be quite irritated, watery and red. He may want to rub his face all over the furniture and carpets to get the spray off. Gently rinse out his eyes with cool water or saline eyewash/contact lens solution. Once his eyes are flushed now you can move on to the bathing phase.

Tomato bath

Tomato juice is one that some may swear by. However, unless you are planning on buying a lifetime supply of tomato juice, it might not be right for your family. The acidity of the tomato juice is purported to cut through the skunk oil. While wearing gloves, get Max thoroughly saturated in the juice and let it sit for 15 minutes. Make sure to avoid his eyes! Rinse Max off and repeat until the smell has dissipated. This may take 3 or more washes before you notice a difference. The skunk smell may be reduced but you’ll likely be able to catch a whiff of it. Follow up with a nice smelling pet-safe shampoo to mask the residual odor. With this method if Max was a white dog to start with, he will be a lovely shade of orange by the end.


Our preferred method which can be more effective is a mixture of common household items. Mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1 teaspoon of a mild dish detergent and ¼ cup of baking soda. Make sure that your hydrogen peroxide is not stronger than 3% otherwise, it may irritate the skin. While wearing gloves lather up Max with the mixture and rinse. Don’t leave it on too long, the hydrogen peroxide could bleach his fur. As always, avoid the eye area! Repeat this again and follow up with a pet-safe shampoo. Don’t store this mixture in a closed container – it can explode.

DIY Skunk bath

There are some over-the-counter skunk odor removal products available for purchase. However the effectiveness of each may vary depending on the product. No matter the method chosen to de-skunk your furry family member you will still smell a faint skunk odor. This usually is due to the pet getting sprayed in the face. The face can be difficult to clean while keeping the solution out of the eyes. After the final wash dry off your pet very well and try to keep him dry for a few days after. If Max gets wet again, it could reactivate the skunk oils making him one stinky pooch again.

Great news! Now you can let Max back in the house again since he’s smelling better than he did before! How do you avoid this “adventure” in the future? Skunks are nocturnal and most active at dusk and dawn. Keeping Max indoors during these times could reduce the chance of an encounter. If you do need to walk your pet after dark, stay off country roads if possible and walk in well lit areas. Skunks have poor eyesight and hearing which means it can be pretty easy to sneak up on one.  Don’t allow your pet (or kids) to corner or agitate a skunk – keeping distance between everyone is the key to avoiding sprays.

Respect the skunk, and the skunk will respect you!

Skunky Facts

Living with wildlife – Skunks


Black Fly Bites vs. Target Lesions

Female black fly taking a blood meal (Photo credit: Oklahoma State University)

Its officially black fly season and these are unavoidable nuisances in some parts of the Spokane area. Black flies may not only find you a tasty feast, but also your pet. Black flies are small, biting flies that are pests to people and animals living, working, or playing near running rivers and streams. Black flies are sensitive to weather conditions, and are most active on cloudy, humid days with low wind. Black fly bites are painfully itchy and are created when the fly cuts a hole in the skin to suck blood from animals and people. The flies attack around the eyes, ears, scalp and occasionally on the arms and exposed legs. The pain and swelling of the bite are due to the body’s allergic response to the fly’s saliva that they inject when feeding.

Black Fly Bites

Fortunately, black flies do not transmit any diseases to humans in Washington state, but can cause discomfort and irritation. Black flies tend to bite our pet’s underbelly and groin regions or ears of critters whose ears stand up. The large welts that are left behind are quite distinctive. A bright red circle, about the size of a nickel are usually found in places where the fur is thinner.

At SouthCare, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have concerning these painful bites. One of the most common questions we hear is: “I think I’ve found a target lesion, does my dog have Lyme Disease?” The good news Lyme disease is not endemic to our area. Unless you and Frankie the Fluffball have traveled to the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic or limited regions in California, you are unlikely to have been exposed to Lyme disease. Click here to view the CDC Lyme Disease Map

“Classic” target lesion of Lyme disease

While a “bull’s eye” rash at the site of the tick bite is common with human Lyme disease infection, dogs have no such indicator. In fact, a dog infected with Lyme disease may show few if any signs, but some of the more common symptoms of this disease can include any of the following:

• Spontaneous and shifting leg lameness that lasts 3–4 days, sometimes accompanied by loss of appetite and depression
• Reluctance to move
• Fatigue

If you find black fly bites on your pet, the good news is most pets don’t mind them. Even though these welts may look irritated and sore, they do tend to disappear over time. Some pets may be more sensitive to these bites than others and can develop a skin infection. Signs of this may include irritation of the skin, and/or excessive licking and chewing at the site of the bite. If Frankie the Fluffball has extensive bites and is uncomfortable please do not hesitate to call us! We’re always happy to help you and your pets!


Lethal Beauty – Easter Lilies

Easter Lily is the common name for Lilium longiflorum

The Easter holiday brings us Easter egg hunts, family, sunny spring days, and Easter lilies. The later of these joys can have a dark side. Potential fatal lilies are true lilies of the Lilium or Hemerocallis species. Examples of some of these dangerous lilies include the tiger, day, Asiatic hybrid, Japanese Show, stargazer and Western lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! One of the most popular of these true lilies would be the Easter lily.

Easter lilies may be beautiful to look at but they can be a serious hazard to your pet.  Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) – even the pollen or water from the vase – can result in severe, acute kidney failure. If your cat has ingested any part of the lily and they do not receive medical attention immediately, it can become fatal in as little as three days.


What are the signs of lily toxicity?

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting (watch for pieces of plant in the vomit)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increase in urination, followed by lack of urination after 1-2 days
  • Dehydration
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Death

How do I prevent my cat from becoming ill?

If possible, do not have lilies in your home, not even as cut flowers. If you do have lilies in your house – make sure your cat cannot reach them and inform everyone in your household of the dangers lilies pose to sweet little Mittens.

My cat may have eaten some lily leaves – what do I do?

  • Immediately bring your cat and the lily to your veterinarian.
    • There are other species of lilies, peace and calla lilies for example, that are less toxic. However, these species can still make your pet very ill. Proper identification of the lily can help your veterinarian select a treatment plan.
  • If your cat has recently ingested the plant material, and has not vomited, your veterinarian will induce vomiting. Activated charcoal will be given orally to absorb any toxin that may remain in the gut.
  • The key to survival is high volumes of IV fluids – usually for 24-48 hours.
  • During this time monitoring of your pet’s kidney values and urine output will be monitored.
  • If treatment is successful, there are no reported long-term consequences. It’s still a good idea to monitor for any changes in urination for a time after exposure.

Be especially vigilant during the Easter season. Easter lilies may smell lovely, but they can be lethal beauties.


For more information please visit:








Spring & Tick Season

It’s only a few more weeks until spring!  Our days are getting longer and we even have the equinox countdown going at SouthCare.  We are so excited for our beautiful Spokane spring!  Hopefully the weather cooperates soon.  Unfortunately, the increasing temperatures will start bringing out those pesky ticks!  There is a reason “ick” is part of the name.  When our daytime temperatures start to get above 50 degrees F and the snow has mostly melted away, it will be time to start your pets on their tick preventatives.

What are ticks?

  • Arachnids (related to spiders)
  • Parasites.  Specifically, an ectoparasite.  Ectoparasites live on the “outside” of other life forms.
  • Blood-suckers.  They require a blood meal between each portion of their life cycle.  The females require a blood meal before they lay eggs.
  • Disease-carriers.  Many ticks carry pathogenic organisms that can be transmitted through their saliva when they latch onto a host.
  • Disgusting, creepy, dangerous, peculiar, or fascinating.  Depends on your view of the natural world!


The typical ticks found in our area are the Dermacentor ticks, also known as the “Dog tick” or “Wood tick”.  Which can carry and transmit some nasty diseases.  We are very luck in having a fairly low incidence of most of the diseases ticks carry about the country, but every tick is possible carrier.  Not only can they transmit these rickettsial diseases, but female Dermacentor ticks can also cause Tick Paralysis with a neurotoxin in their saliva.

We have found Bravecto to be an effective, safe, and convenient preventative for our canine patients.  This medication is a flavored soft chew we have found most dogs enjoy AND you will only have to be administer it once every 3 months!

If you have a cat that spends time outdoors, we have Frontline Plus and, as soon as it is available, a topical form of Bravecto made specifically for our feline friends. **Update! As of spring 2018 we have Bravecto for cats! ** This topical will also be more convenient, as you only need to apply it once every 3 months, rather than monthly!

You can call us anytime to get your dog’s Bravecto for the season.  If your pets are current on their annual wellness exam, we can get it ready for you very quickly.  You can request their doses for the entire season, or just ask us to send a reminder for the next dose!










National Pet Dental Health Month

Why is there an ENTIRE month dedicated to pet dental health?  Our goal for the month is to raise awareness on the prevalence and dangers of dental disease in our pets.  Good oral health is more than just a sparkling smile!

Approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease by the age of 3! Bad breath in both cats and dogs can be a sign of oral disease.  If left untreated, it may lead to chronic pain and put your pet at risk for greater problems such as periodontitis or heart disease.  We really prefer to prevent those!

Preventative care cleanings can help prevent periodontal disease and save money in the long run.  A 2014 analysis conducted by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. showed that the average cost per pet to prevent dental disease is just one-third of the average cost of treating dental disease.

More importantly, a complete oral examination, including dental x-rays, can detect hidden health problems.  Most dental disease occurs below the gum line, where it otherwise can be very difficult for us to detect! Even if your pet’s breath smells fine, there still could be dental conditions that are hard to identify without a thorough exam.

This is a great time to schedule your pet for dental check. We will do a thorough checkup and can even show you how to brush your pet’s teeth, the single most effective thing you can do to keep your pet’s teeth healthy between dental cleanings.  If your pet makes this an impossible chore, we can even provide you with some possible alternatives.  They will not be as effective as brushing, but they are better than nothing!

We’re committed to your pet’s health and wellness, and we know that you are as well. To celebrate National Pet Dental Health month, you can use this certificate for $25 off our complete dental package scheduled in February!  Give us a call if you have any questions or to schedule your pet’s appointment.

February Focus

We will be focused on pet dental education this month, so watch our blog and our social media sites for some of our interesting photos and cases!



Cold Weather Danger for Cats

Oh, this snow is co-o-o-l-l-l-d!

Brrrr!  It’s cold outside! We wanted to be sure to warn of the danger warm vehicle engines can pose to cats that spend time outdoors in the winter.

As temperatures plunge this winter, cats that spend time outdoors will search for any warm place they can find. One particularly attractive site for many of these cats is the warm engine of your car.  This can be a particularly dangerous place for a cat to curl up, since they can be severely injured or killed when the engine is started.  Help keep your own and your neighborhood cats safe with these tips:

Keep your cat indoors

The best advice we can offer regarding your own cat is to simply to keep him indoors during the winter. This would prevent access to warm engines, with the added benefit of avoiding other dangers, including exposure, predators, moving vehicles, or injuries or disease transmission from other cats.  Here are some helpful hints for keeping your cat happy indoors!

Check on your cat before taking any trips

Finding and checking on your cat before leaving is a good way to make sure they are not in your own vehicle before you leave (or anyone else’s vehicle, too!).

Give any cats that might be hiding under your car a warning

Even with your own cat safely inside, neighborhood and feral cats could still be hiding under your car. We suggest that you pound on your hood, slam the car door, or even sound your horn before you start the engine. Make sure you give them plenty of time to wiggle out of their hiding spot before you start that engine.

It’s always a great idea to take a quick look under the car to make sure no one visible under the car.  You never know, you may even find a leak or notice that low tire, too!

Let’s keep everyone safe out there!