Our Blog

Cyanobacteria-Danger Lurking Under the Water.

Cyanobacteria are very common organisms found in most of the freshwater in the Northwest. Some may be familiar with the organism’s more common name, blue-green algae. Under normal circumstances, blue-green algae are relatively harmless. However, under certain environmental conditions the blue-green algae begin producing rather rapidly. While the algae bloom, toxins are produced. These toxins are called cyanotoxins.

These toxins can cause permanent damage to the liver and nervous system, and even death if not treated rapidly. Symptoms of toxicity include but are not limited to: weakness, numbness, excessive drooling, staggering, fainting, convulsions, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and skin irritation when exposed to an algae bloom. If infection is suspected, seek medical attention immediately.

Cyanotoxins cannot be detected by the naked eye, but the appearance of brightly colored foam is a decent indication of tainted water. Additionally, if a bloom has been detected, health committees will issue a blue-green advisory for certain bodies of water. Currently, Cougar Reservoir (Eugene) and Lost Creek Lake (Medford) have been issued advisories. The season for algae blooms is not over. Be sure to stay informed on algae blooms before planning a trip to the river, lake, or pond with your children and pets. If your dog has come into contact with tainted water, rinse him immediately and do not let him lick his fur. Seek veterinary care if symptoms become present. For additional information, contact the Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance Program at (971) 673-0400 or Emilio DeBess, OHA-Public Health Veterinarian, at (971) 673-1111.

Hillsboro Vet Pet Health Care Plan

Starting Feburary 1st 2010, Hillsboro Veterinary Clinic will be offering a pet health care plan to help further cut cost for our clients. See a list of services covered and prices below:


Dogs-Rabies (Annual/3yr), DHPP (Annual/3yr), Bordetella, Parvo, and Lepto
Cats-FVRCP (Annual/3yr), Feline Leukemia, and Rabies

The plan covers one full set of vaccines per membership premium.

Professional Services

Office Visit 50% OFF
Follow-Up Exam 50% OFF
Dentistry 50% OFF Does not apply to "Animal Dental Care" Services
Radiology 50% OFF
Hospitalization 50% OFF
Minor/Major Surgery 50% OFF
Laboratory 25% OFF
Medications/Injections 25% OFF
Treatments 25% OFF
Surgical Supplies 25% OFF
Prescription Medication 25% OFF
(Dispensed from Hospital Only)

Additional Services

Flea Prevention 10% OFF
Medicated Baths 10% OFF
Retail Products 10% OFF
(Sold by Hospital Only)
Prescription Diets 5% OFF

Exclusions include boarding, emergency/veterinary care offered at other faclities, cosmetic surgery, current illness or injury, and elective giardia/lymes vaccines.

This plan covers treatment and services for your pet(s) for a period of one year, beginning seven days after the application is filed.


Initial Annual Fees per Pet
1 Month-11 Years: $209.00
12 Years/Older: $425.00

Annual Renewal Fees per Pet
All Ages: $179.00

As always, all accounts must be paid in full at time of service or discharge with a 50% deposit for all hospitalized animals. All enrollment premiums are non-refundable for any condition or reason. Prices and discounts are subject to change without notice.

If you think this plan sounds ideal, you can pick up an application at the clinic at your convenience. The application will be available online soon.

Heartworms Are in Oregon Too!

Heartworms are caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis, which is carried by mosquitoes that have bitten infected animals. The worms reside in the blood of the heart and nearby vessels of infected dogs. Heartworms can damage the heart and cause liver, kidney, and lung disease. They thicken the blood vessels in the lungs, lowering blood pressure and increasing the heart’s workload. Fluid builds up in the lungs and disrupts the circulation of blood to organs, causing damage. Heartworm disease progresses slowly, often with no visible symptoms until the advanced stages. If your dog’s heartworm test is positive treatment is usually recommended. It kills the adult heartworms in the heart and adjacent vessels. Approximately 1 month following treatment to kill the adults, the dog is returned to the hospital for administration of a drug to kill the immature heartworms (microfilariae). Seven to ten days later a test is performed to determine if microfilariae are still present. If they have been all killed, the treatment is complete. If there are still some present in the blood, treatment for microfilariae is repeated. After treatment your dog would need to be on strict exercise restriction for 1 month.

When a dog has been successfully treated for heartworms, you cannot sit back and relax because dogs can be reinfected. Therefore, it is essential to begin a heartworm prevention program. We recommend two products for the prevention of heartworm disease: Interceptor™ and Sentinel™. One of these should be started immediately after the treatment of an infected dog is complete. All dogs (beginning in puppy hood) should be on heartworm prevention year ‘round and tested for heartworms every 2 years. A heartworm test is required before an adult dog can begin a prevention program and if there is any break in the prevention program. Canine heartworm disease occurs all over the world. In Oregon, heartworm disease is found regularly in Southern Oregon. In the Hillsboro area, we have seen cases of positive dogs that have moved here from higher risk areas. Even though this is not a prevalent problem here it should not be ignored but prevented.


Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite of the dog. Modes of infection include either ingestion of eggs from the environment or from prey that harbor the parasite. Roundworms are capable of moving across an infected mother dog’s placenta and into unborn puppies. Puppies can also become infected when nursing. Large numbers of eggs can be spread into the environment by an infected dog. These eggs are a human health hazard if accidentally ingested and can cause vision impairment or other serious diseases.
Adult roundworms are long, white, and tubular in shape. These worms swim inside the intestines and feed on digested food. An infection of multiple adult roundworms is capable of interfering with normal contractions of the intestines, creating an inability to absorb nutrients from food. A severe roundworm infestation can result in an intestinal blockage and possible death. Obtaining a fresh fecal sample and identifying the characteristic eggs under the microscope easily diagnoses roundworms. Fortunately, there are safe and effective treatments and preventions that will keep pets healthy and limit the spread of infection to others. Treatment schedules vary based on the environment and the degree of worm infestation. All pets that go outside should be on monthly parasite prevention such as Interceptor® or Sentinel®. Your veterinarian can recommend the most safe and effective drug, dose, and schedule for an individual pet.
Humans, mostly children, can become afflicted by roundworms by accidentally ingesting soil or feces containing their eggs. In people, the larvae can move through the eyes and other organs, leading to vision impairment or other serious illnesses. To prevent the potential for human health hazard, pet owners should dispose of feces in yards, parks, and playgrounds. Wearing gloves when gardening, covering sandboxes when not in use, and washing hands thoroughly prior to preparing and eating food are all important measures in maintaining hygiene and preventing disease. In addition, parents should ensure that children to do not play in potentially infected areas.
In today’s economy, the finances maybe strung thin and monthly parasite control such as Sentinel and Interceptor maybe getting cut out of the household budget. These two products provide a monthly deworming for your pet, which will hopefully stop an increasing problem. Recently, roundworm outbreaks have become much more numerous than in past years. It is vital to stay on your monthly parasite control and have a fecal tested every 6 months.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Hillsboro Veterinary Clinic at (503) 648-4117.

The Flea-Tapeworm Connection

Any cat that is at risk of carrying fleas is also at risk of becoming a host to tapeworms. The reason has to do with the cat’s highly effective grooming technique, plus the flea-tapeworm circle of life. First, flea larvae ingest the eggs of tapeworms. When fleas then mature and decide to move in with a cat, the cat reacts to their irritating little bites by licking the itchy spots, using its rake-like tongue to lap up the fleas in the process. Now, the tapeworm eggs inside the fleas are inside the cat, where they can mature into tapeworms and trouble. Tapeworms may cause illness, allergy or weight loss if they are present in large numbers. When segments of the tapeworm break off and pass into the cat’s stool, they can be seen crawling on the surface of the feces. Each of these capsules contains up to 20 tapeworm eggs. These segments often look like grains of cooked white rice but may look like golden sesame seeds as they begin to dry up. Less commonly, they are seen crawling around the cat’s anus. Also, a cat will occasionally scoot or drag its anus across the ground or carpet due to the anal irritation caused by the capsule segments. Occasionally, a tapeworm will release its attachment in the intestines and migrate to the stomach. When this happens, the cat may vomit an adult tapeworm several inches in length.

Be aware that tapeworms are not readily diagnosed with routine fecal examinations. Because of this, you should notify your veterinarian when tapeworm segments are found in your cat’s stool. Available treatments are safe and effective. After treatment, the tapeworm dies and is usually digested within the intestine, so worm segments do not usually pass into the stool. Tapeworm infection can become re-established within a few weeks if the cat lives in a flea-infested environment or hunts and eats mice. Control of fleas is the cornerstone of preventing tapeworm infection. With the new and exciting flea control products that have become available, this is now much easier than in years past. We, at Hillsboro Veterinary Clinic, will be happy to help you decide what flea control product will work best for you and your pet and whether you also need to treat your house and yard for fleas. If you suspect your pet has tapeworms call us at 503-648-4117 and speak with Elizabeth, one of our receptionists, to schedule an appointment.

Ear Infections

Infection of the outer ear is very common in dogs. A dog with an ear infection is uncomfortable; it shakes its head trying to get the debris out, and scratches its ears. The ears often become red and inflamed and develop a bad odor. A black or yellowish discharge commonly occurs. There are several kinds of bacteria and at least one type of fungus that might cause an ear infection. Without knowing the kind of infection present, we do not know which drug to use. The dog must also be examined to be sure that the eardrum is intact. First, the ear canal is examined with an otoscope, an instrument that provides magnification and light. This permits a good view of the ear canal. This examination allows us to determine whether the eardrum is intact and if there is any foreign material in the canal. The next step is to examine a sample of the material from the ear canal to determine which organism is causing the infection. This is called cytology. Examination of that material under the microscope is very important in helping the veterinarian choose the right medication to treat the ear canal. Sometimes, it reveals the presence of more than one type of infection; this situation usually requires the use of multiple medications or a broad-spectrum medication. Then a deep ear cleaning, many times with anesthesia, is needed.

An important part of the evaluation of the patient is the identification of underlying cause of the disease. Many dogs with recurrent ear infections have allergy problems or low thyroid function. If underlying disease is found, it must be diagnosed and treated, if at all possible. If this cannot be done, the dog is less likely to have a favorable response to treatment. Also, the dog might respond temporarily, but the infection will relapse at a later time (usually when ear medication is discontinued). If you notice your dog showing signs of ear infection, call and schedule an appointment. Not only will timely treatment ease your pet’s discomfort but serious and costly complications may be avoided as well.
We at Hillsboro Veterinary Clinic are here to help you and your pet. Please feel free to call at (503) 648-4117 to schedule an appointment today.

Crate Training

Pet crates are an excellent way to train your dog and provide it with its own sanctuary. There are numerous benefits to crate training your dog, including a feeling of security for your dog and safety for young children. Crate training can prevent costly damage, helps you train your dog in proper chewing and elimination, easy traveling, and improves the pet/owner relationship. Some things to remember when you undertake crate training: a crate should have enough room for the dog to stand and turn around but not much more than that, place the crate in a room full of activity, and never use the crate for punishment. If you use "time-out," place the dog in a separate room instead of the crate.
If you have a puppy introduce it to the crate as early as possible. Place a few treats, toys, or food in the crate to motivate the puppy to enter on its own. Once the puppy is comfortable entering the crate on its own then you are ready to try confinement (this may take several days). The first confinement should be after a period of play, exercise, and elimination. Place the puppy in its crate with a toy and a treat, and close the door. Leave the room but remain close enough to hear the puppy. Expect some distress at first. Never let the puppy out when it cries or whines. Ignore it until the crying stops, and then release it. If crying does not subside on its own, a light scolding may be useful. Avoid excessive correction— it can cause fear and anxiety. Remain out-of-sight so that the puppy does not associate the punishment with your presence. A squirt from a water gun or a sharp noise (try a shaker can containing a few coins) can be used to interrupt barking.
Training an adult dog is similar to training a puppy, except the initial introduction to the crate. Introduce the dog to the crate by setting it up in the dog's feeding area with the door open for a few days. Place food, treats, and toys in the crate so that the dog enters on its own. Once the dog is entering the crate freely, close the door. Gradually increase the amount of time the dog must remain quietly in the crate before you release it. When punishing the dog, take the same advice given for puppy training.

Corneal Ulcer

Corneal ulcers are a relatively common eye problem seen in veterinary medicine. The cornea is the clear shiny surface of the eye. It has three layers. The most superficial layer is the epithelium. Below the epithelium is the stroma, and the deepest layer is Descemet's membrane. Behind the cornea are the fluid, the lens, the nerves, and the muscle of the eye. If the cornea is penetrated, the liquid leaks out and vision is permanently lost. A corneal ulcer happens when one or more of the cornea’s three layers erode away. As the erosion gets deeper, the risk of penetration of the cornea and permanent blindness increases.
The most common cause of a corneal ulcer is trauma, either blunt like rubbing the eye with the paw or on the carpet or a laceration such as a cat scratch. Less common causes include viral infections, rolled eyelids, or problems with tear production. When a corneal ulcer occurs it causes a lot of pain. Animals may squint, tear, have reddened whites of the eye, or rub at the eye. Other signs include a white discoloration, a dark discoloration, or growth of blood vessels into the cornea.
Diagnosis is made by placing dye onto the eye and shining a special light over the eye. Only the middle layer of the cornea picks up dye. If the outer layer is damaged, the dye will stain the exposed middle layer of the cornea. Treatment varies with severity of damage. An Elizabethan collar is used to prevent further trauma from rubbing. Topical antibiotics and medicine for pain may be prescribed. If the ulcer is very deep, surgery may be recommended. Frequent re-checks are required to make sure that the cornea does not rupture and to make sure the eye heals completely. If your pet is “winking” at you, it is vital to have your pet checked for corneal ulcer. Not only will early treatment reduce the likelihood of complication but you will also decrease the amount of time your pet is in pain.

How do I know what breeds are in my mutt?

Modern advances in DNA testing have provided a way to find out the composition, or breed ancestry, of your mixed breed dog. When was the last time your took a look at your furry companion and thought to yourself, “Is Max a shepherd or a collie?” If this is something you confront often, then Mars Veterinary is here to answer your questions.
Mars Veterinary is a branch of Mars Incorporated, which specializes in pet care and nutrition. After years of study and research at the Waltham Center in the United Kingdom, the Wisdom Panel™ MX Mixed Breed Analysis was born.
This laboratory test requires a small blood sample to be drawn at your local veterinary clinic and sent off to the Wisdom lab in Lincoln, Nebraska. Once the sample reaches the lab, Wisdom’s highly trained staff begins to analyze the DNA structure of your dog. The process is lengthy because over 300 sites on the DNA code are examined. Once the lab has analyzed your pet, they then compare it’s results to that of their database, which is composed of over 130 breeds. Once the test is complete, you and your veterinarian will receive a customized report containing the information about your dog as well as characteristics of the breeds in its ancestry. The process takes about two weeks, and the cost is dependent on your veterinary clinic. The Wisdom Panel is, so far, only for dogs. The test also does not test the purity of premium-bred dogs, although, this is something that Mars Veterinary is working toward.
One might ask, “Why do I need to know my dog’s composition?” This is a very good question. Breed analysis allows the owner to know disorders and problems that your pet could be at risk to having. For instance, Boxers are prone to develop cancers, heart conditions such as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy. If your pet is a cross-bred dog with a significant amount of boxer genetics, then it is pre-deposed to these problems as well. Knowing your dog’s breed can not only ease your curiosity, but help you and your veterinaian to stratagize a wellness plan to keep your little (or big) friend happy for a long time to come.
If you are seeking any additional information or wish to run a Wisdom panel on your special friend, then please contact Hillsboro Veterinary Clinic at (503) 648-4117.

Cognitive Dysfunction in Senior Dogs

While older dogs may move a bit more slowly and get a little gray around the muzzle, they shouldn't experience a complete change in personality. A dog that suddenly seems confused, distant, or lost may be showing signs of cognitive dysfunction. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (or CDS) is a degeneration of the brain and the nervous system in dogs. It results in a deterioration of cognitive abilities, causing behavioral changes that can disrupt the lives of pets and the families that care for them. Studies have shown that roughly 60% of dogs 11-16 years old will show some symptoms of CDS. So how can you tell if a dog is showing signs of CDS or if she's just getting older? Watch for her to start showing some of the following behaviors: withdrawing from interaction with the family, staring at walls or into space, sleeping more during the day or less at night, house soiling, pacing or wandering aimlessly, frequent trembling or shaking, ignoring known commands, or having trouble finding the door or standing at the hinge side of the door.
If you see these behaviors in your dog, tell your veterinarian--she may be able to help. If she suspects CDS, your veterinarian can take a thorough behavior and medical history of your dog. She can also perform a physical and neurological exam and blood and urine tests to rule out other conditions that could cause these symptoms, such as hypothyroidism, kidney problems, arthritis, and hearing and vision loss. Once she's ruled out any underlying diseases, you can discuss treatment. Unfortunately, there is no cure for CDS, but there is increasing hope. A specialized diet high in antioxidants has improved this syndrome in some dogs. There is also a supplement available that improves the brain’s ability to transmit messages. Your veterinarian can help you decide which approach is right for your dog.