Important Advice to Protect Your Pet Against Tick Diseases and More

Important Advice to Protect Your Pet Against Tick Diseases and More

As excited as we are for the arrival of spring, we can’t forget about the hazards outside that can potentially harm our pets. Let’s learn about what we should be aware of when our four-legged friends are playing outside and how to keep them safe.



Ticks and tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease, can be spread through humans and animals. Lyme disease left untreated can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system and create painful arthritis. In addition to vaccinating your pet annually for Lyme disease, deter ticks and fleas with an oral medication such as Simparica TRIO™ or BRAVECTO® for dogs and BRAVECTO® PLUS for cats.


Though fleas are small, they can cause big issues. Fleas can cause itching, hair loss, skin allergies, or infections and even pass on other parasites like tapeworm to your pet. Fleas tend to live in the same shady, protected areas where your animals love to lie down outside.

Once a flea infestation has taken hold of your pet’s fur, your home is likely to become a flea circus as well. Sanitizing your home and yard when infestations occur will help to break the cycle. However, treating your pet with an approved flea prevention is the best way to stop fleas in their tracks and will save you time and money in the long run.

Kitten sniffing buds on a tree


Heartworms are parasitic worms that can affect the lungs, heart, and blood vessels of our pets. They can be painful and potentially fatal if not treated. Dogs, and occasionally cats, are susceptible to heartworm disease, which is passed through mosquitoes.

More time outside means more potential for mosquitoes to prey on your pets, but you can’t simply use insect repellents on animals since they can be toxic to dogs and cats. Instead, protect your furry friends against mosquito bites – and the risk of heartworms – by keeping them indoors during high-risk time periods, removing stagnant water in your yard, and keeping them away from marshy areas.


What can you use to protect your pets from these pests and your pocketbook from costly treatment for these diseases? At Grand Valley, we work to find the best option for you and your animals. We offer the most powerful, convenient preventative medications available that will help keep your dog or cat safe and healthy from pesky parasites.

4DX Testing

GVAH recommends bringing in your pet yearly for 4DX testing. The 4DX test is a quick and simple blood test that screens for four diseases that affect our dogs: heartworm, Lyme, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichia. 

Preventative Medications

We also recommend a year-round prescription preventative medication regimen to help protect your pet. For dogs, we offer heartworm and internal parasite preventatives like Interceptor® Plus to help stop heartworms, tapeworms, and other worms before they become an issue. For cats, we offer BRAVECTO® PLUS for protection from fleas and ticks, heartworm disease, and some intestinal worms.

Simparica TRIO™ provides your dog with the most advanced parasite preventative benefits in a single easy-to-give, liver-flavored monthly chewable that can be given with or without food. This simple solution prevents heartworm disease, kills fleas and ticks, and treats roundworms and hookworms in your pet. This medication is safe for puppies as young as eight weeks old that weigh at least 2.8 pounds.

BRAVECTO® PLUS protects your cat from fleas and ticks, prevents heartworm disease, and treats intestinal worms, including roundworms and hookworms. This premium product helps to ease the stress of treatment by offering convenient long-lasting, single topical doses that last two months.

To learn more about pet preventative medications we offer or to order prescription refills, contact our staff at GVAH. If you require a specific product, take a look at our online store. We offer a wide variety of options and are more than happy to assist you in finding the right items for your pet.

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What to Expect when You’re Expecting to Adopt a Puppy or Kitten

What to Expect when You’re Expecting to Adopt a Puppy or Kitten

You’re getting your very first pet, and it’s beneficial to both you and your new pet to keep some key points in mind as your puppy or kitten grows. Read on to find out more about the different life stages of pets.

Dogs – from Puppy to Adult Dog

At birth, puppies don’t have most of their senses yet – they can’t hear or see, and they don’t regulate their body temperature or eliminate without help. At about two to three weeks puppy first opens his eyes, and he gradually begins to develop his other senses after that. Before you even meet your new pup, your breeder should have already begun introducing smells and noises to him in the first two to three months, which will help him to become socialized as he interacts with littermates, people, and other pets. This is a crucial time in a puppy’s development, and he will depend on you to continue the socialization regimen as well as take on a primary role in his training when you bring him home. 

Tiny puppy cuddling tiny kitten

At what age is your puppy considered an adult? This depends on the type of dog he is. Smaller breeds tend to reach adulthood earlier than large breeds, but in general, the puppy stage can last anywhere from six to 18 months. During this stage, it is especially important to take the time to train him so that proper dog etiquette becomes second nature. Make sure he gets his vaccination shots starting around this time too, and to keep him boosted on schedule as he matures. Depending on your dog’s breed, he reaches senior age at six to ten years, so be prepared to give him some extra TLC at that stage

Cats – from Kitten to Adult Cat

Kitten is only two weeks old when she begins to develop her senses of sight and smell, and about a month old when she picks up many of the familiar behaviors we associate with cats, such as grooming and exploring. In another week she has found her way to the litter box and is well on her way to expressing her independence. Be mindful of this if you take a notion to pick up a kitten for snuggles, as it may take some time and training for her to appreciate it in the way you intend it.

Your cat will go through several stages as she matures. She is a kitten up to six months of age, by which time she should have developed good behavioral habits. Around this age, you’ll want to ask your veterinarian about the various vaccination options available for her.  Cats up to two years old are called “junior” cats and reach prime adulthood around three to six years. When your cat is between the ages of seven and ten years old, she’s mature, and at 11-14, she’s considered a senior cat. It’s not uncommon for cats to live even longer than that, reaching the venerable geriatric stage beginning at age 15. Remember to pay special attention to your cat’s health at her most vulnerable stages, and she should live a long and happy life.

Here at Grand Valley Animal Hospital, we know you want the best care for your pet, for every age and stage. We’re here to help with answers to all your pet care questions. Reach us at (701)757-3500.

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Sit, Stay, Snap: Enter Our Holiday Pet Photo Contest

Sit, Stay, Snap: Enter Our Holiday Pet Photo Contest

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which means it’s time for our 11th annual Hoppy Howlidays & Meowy Catmas Pet Photo Contest! Enter a festive photo of your favorite furry, feathery, or scaly friend from December 13 – 27th for a chance to win a $200 gift card to Harry’s Steak House in Grand Forks, ND.

How to Enter


Snap a holiday-themed photo of your pet


Upload it here before December 27th


Vote for your pet (and encourage others to do the same!)

At the end of the contest, we’ll announce the pet portrait with the most votes as the winner Tuesday, December 28th on our Facebook page. The prize will be ready for the winner’s human to pick up after the announcement at Grand Valley Animal Hospital during regular business hours.

We can’t wait to see your festive pet photos! Enter today and encourage your friends to vote and increase your chance of winning by sharing the post. Good luck!

A housecat peeking out of a pile of red Christmas tinsel
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3 Ways to Help an Animal in Need This Holiday Season

3 Ways to Help an Animal in Need This Holiday Season

’Tis the season of giving, and why not share the love with furry friends in need? We know there are endless ways to help others this holiday season and all year long, but here is a list of some that we truly believe will make a difference in the lives of those who leave paw prints on our hearts.

The Gift of Giving

If you love to shop, we have good news for you: helping an animal in need is as easy as online shopping! Some websites and stores are committed to giving a portion of your purchase price back to charities in need, including animal welfare organizations; it’s a simple and free way to give back.

More in the gift-giving mood? That’s great! Many animal welfare organizations also have wish lists, either online or in their office, where you can find an exact list of items that are needed that you can donate! Common items needed include food, treats, litter, leashes, toys, and cleaning supplies. If you have an excess of gently used pet toys, why not spruce them up and donate them to an organization in need!

Also, let’s not forget about military working dogs serving overseas; find out how you can give back to these deserving heroes here.

The Gift of Time

We understand that not everyone has the luxury of donating dollars to organizations they care about, and that’s okay; why not give some of your valuable time instead? From shelters where you can socialize and care for animals, to therapy camps that help both animals and children cope with neglect and abuse, every minute helps. You may even reap some volunteer benefits of your own, such as personal growth, skill development, and positivity for making a real difference to animals in need!

Puppy waiting to be adopted

The Gift of Love

Last, but certainly not least, is giving a home to a shelter pet. Even if you aren’t able to adopt, you can still make a huge difference in the life and well-being of a pet by fostering. Foster families can be helpful in everything from socializing a pet, to helping them recover from illness and surgery, and even saving their lives in the case of overcrowding in a shelter. If you are ready to make a longer commitment, adopting a shelter dogcatbird, or pocket pet is a meaningful way to gain a new ever-loyal family member.

We know you have many options when it comes to making a difference in the lives of animals and other worthy causes across the globe, but we hope you find these options helpful when narrowing down your list of ways to give. As always, we are thankful for the support and friendship of our furry, feathery, and scaly clients and their pet parents – you make our work more meaningful every day. Happy holidays from all of us at Grand Valley Animal Hospital!

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What Is the Difference Between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights?

What Is the Difference Between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights?

When it comes to the health, well-being and care of animals, there are two main recognized concepts – animal welfare and animal rights. Regardless of which of these ideologies anyone’s personal values or beliefs align with most, it is important to know the purpose and differences of each for a deeper understanding of how animals are cared for in our society. 

What is animal welfare?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives.” Within the framework of animal welfare, the focus is on the overall quality of life of an animal, ensuring that its mental and physical needs are met.

A good state of animal welfare is indicated by scientific evidence on a myriad of aspects ranging from, but not limited to:






Responsible care

Humane euthanasia, when necessary

Under this concept, the historical and existing relationship between humans and animals or animal products is considered – such as use of animals for food, goods, services, etc. – and principles for the animal welfare care standards are applied. The AVMA and its members offer the following eight principles for determining and implementing animal welfare approaches:

  • “The responsible use of animals for human purposes, such as companionship, food, fiber, recreation, work, education, exhibition, and research conducted for the benefit of both humans and animals, is consistent with the Veterinarian’s Oath:

‘Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge. I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.’

  • Decisions regarding animal care, use, and welfare shall be made by balancing scientific knowledge and professional judgment with consideration of ethical and societal values.
  • Animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, health care, and an environment appropriate to their care and use, with thoughtful consideration for their species-typical biology and behavior.
Dr. Darin Meulebroeck uses a stethoscope on pregnant French Bulldog
  • Animals should be cared for in ways that minimize fear, pain, stress, and suffering.
  • Procedures related to animal housing, management, care, and use should be continuously evaluated, and when indicated, refined or replaced.
  • Conservation and management of animal populations should be humane, socially responsible, and scientifically prudent.
  • Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity throughout their lives and, when necessary, provided a humane death.
  • The veterinary profession shall continually strive to improve animal health and welfare through scientific research, education, collaboration, advocacy, and the development of legislation and regulations.”

What are animal rights?

While welfare focuses on the quality of life of animals with consideration to the relationship between humans and animals, the principles of animal rights philosophies differ in that they do not support the use of animals by humans for any reason – food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, and in some cases, even as pets.

Animal rights beliefs strive to separate animals from inanimate objects and maintain that any non-human animal should be given rights that are protected just as humans have protected rights. The ability for an animal to live a full life of their own choosing is a keystone component of this philosophy, along with an understanding and acknowledgment that animals are more emotional, intelligent, and sensitive than humans historically have believed.

Beyond the life of the animal itself, animal rights concepts can also extend to the human destruction of animal habitats. If the environments in which animals live are destructed by humans, this impedes the animal’s ability to freely choose the life they would naturally choose to lead.

While there are no current laws giving animals the freedom of choice that would align with the ideologies of animal rights, activists have campaigned since the 17th century to bring awareness of the concept and to advocate for change in animal practices, particularly in the exploitation of animals.          

While the two concepts of animal welfare and animal rights differ in their approach to human-animal interaction, both represent the values and belief systems of large portions of the world population and are important concepts to be knowledgeable and aware of in the animal care industry. As a veterinary clinic that is committed to compassion and grounded in science, we take our oath as doctors to protect animal health and welfare extremely seriously, and we’re dedicated to the education of our clients and public on these matters as well. 

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Core Canine Vaccines that Protect Your Dog from 5 Diseases

Core Canine Vaccines that Protect Your Dog from 5 Diseases

Dog ownership carries many responsibilities to ensure your four-legged friend stays happy and healthy. Among feeding, grooming, walking, and training, your dog also needs regular veterinary care to maintain good physical health, and this includes vaccinations against dangerous diseases.

Vaccines for dogs work similarly as those for humans, as they prepare your dog’s immune system to fight harmful viruses that would otherwise cause serious illness or death.

Canine vaccines fall into one of two categories: core and non-core vaccinations. In this blog, we highlight five core canine vaccines – or inoculations that are considered vital for all dogs – and explain why these safe and effective doses are integral for your pet’s well-being.

Rabies Vaccine

As one of the most well-known viruses, rabies presents a serious threat to humans and dogs alike, among many other animals. Rabies is transmitted through high levels of saliva, typically from a bite of an infected animal.

Because there is no treatment for rabies, the disease means almost certain death once the infection has manifested in your dog’s body. However, this can be avoided by immunizing your dog with the rabies vaccine when it is a puppy between 12 and 16 weeks, with booster shots following every one to three years during adulthood.

Vaccine booster schedules vary with city ordinances, so chat with your local veterinarian for a recommended timeline. Our team at Grand Valley Animal Hospital recommends a three-year vaccine through our practice, but it’s extremely important for dog owners to not go even a day over three years without a booster to stay current.

Combination Vaccine

The remaining four diseases discussed in this blog – distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza – are included in a combination vaccine offered at our clinic. This vaccination includes a series of three shots when your dog is a puppy, another shot when it’s one-year-old, and then a booster every three years to protect your dog from all four of these viruses.

Let’s dive into each of these diseases so you understand the importance of vaccinating your dog against them.

A woman playing with her dog in a grassy field


Canine distemper is a dangerous virus that attacks your dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system when infected. Because it primarily spreads through airborne exposure (like sneezing or coughing), it can spread rapidly through unvaccinated dogs of all ages in close quarters. Even if a dog survives distemper, they may have permanent damage to their vision, nervous system, and teeth.


Another highly contagious disease, canine hepatitis, is passed through items contaminated by urine. If infected with this pathogen, your dog can experience sore throat, coughing, and eventually kidney and liver failure. The onset of symptoms is extremely rapid, and in some cases, death can result only two hours after initial symptoms begin.


Parvovirus is a serious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated puppies under six months are most at risk. Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, dark or bloody feces, and fever. This disease is difficult to treat without veterinary intervention, and if not treated or if the dog is severely infected, the mortality rate is high. It also has lasting effects, as the disease can live on items and places that it touches for up to two years and can only be removed with bleach.


As another threatening virus, parainfluenza causes dry cough, fever, wheezing, difficulty breathing, runny nose, sneezing, pneumonia, reduced appetite, and lethargy, as well as runny and inflamed eyes. Most dogs will recover on their own if infected, but veterinary care is still needed since the disease is extremely contagious. The vaccine does not prevent the spread of the disease, but it will limit the severity of the infection.

A white and brown beagle being examined in a bright, clean veterinary clinic.

At Grand Valley Animal Hospital, we strongly recommend vaccinating your dog with core canine vaccines – and staying on top of booster shots – to protect your furry friend and prevent the spread of these dangerous diseases.

To sum up the vaccination information in this article based on our clinic’s practices, here’s this helpful chart:

Age for First Dose
Booster Timeline
Between 12 – 16 weeks
Every 1 – 3 years
(protects against canine distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza)
Series of shots as puppies and again at 1 year-old
Every 3 years

Our qualified veterinary staff is ready to provide information on our vaccination protocol and other preventative medicine to keep your canine healthy for years to come. To learn more about us or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 701-757-3500!

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