Tails from Ralston Vet

June 8, 2021

Is your pet afraid of loud noises?

Filed under: Animals — Ralston Vet @ 12:13 pm

What is a noise phobia?

This is an exaggerated irrational response to a noxious stimuli (thunder, lightning, barometric pressure change).

Treatment options:

Avoid when possible:  Give the dog a quiet place to get away from the noise.  This can be a room in the basement away from windows.  This area will be quieter and eliminate windows where they can see flashes of light.  In this room make a comfortable spot and include a radio or TV that you can turn on for background noise.  If you can’t get far enough away from the sound they do make room darkening shades, ear covers, or sound muting cage covers.  Some dogs will show us where they feel safe such as going into the closet.  This is okay; make a soft comfortable place for them.  This safe spot can be used at other times than during the storm.  Link the spot with something good such as a favorite treat.  If going into the kennel or to the safe spot is stressful when there is no storm, it will make the storm more stressful.

Desensitization and Counter conditioning:  CD’s or computer programs are available that have sounds of a storm.  Playing this and slowly increasing the volume on a daily basis may help. When you play this sound, you need to start low enough so that the dog is not anxious.  Link the sound with pleasant things such as eating, playing, or snuggle time.  Slowly increase the sound as the dog tolerates it.  You will not be able to recreate a storm completely, but this will help.


Adaptil:  This is a pheromone that is available as a spray, diffuser, or collar.  It has no side effects.  It sometimes works alone or works well will other medications. Click here for more information on Adaptil.

Medications:  This should be started if the phobia does not improve with the above treatments.  These may help with training.  The goal is to help reduce the anxiety to the level where the dog can learn the fear is irrational and be open to training.   Medications may be given as needed for individual storms or they may be given daily.  The length of time may be varied from weeks to months.

November 4, 2020

Vetting Uncle Norm (with Julz along for the ride)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralston Vet @ 2:42 pm
Tags: , ,
Dr. Jernigan’s 50 year dedication

There couldn’t be a book about Julz without my Uncle Norman, also known as Dr. Jernigan, having a crucial role in it. As Uncle Norm, he and his family have always had an important and fondly remembered presence in my life, but as Dr. Jernigan, this was magnified many times over during the years when Julz became a passion in my life. Almost all the treatments for her many injuries and maladies were performed by him, and even those that weren’t were under his guidance at the Ralston Veterinary Clinic, which he started as a small 2 doctor practice back in the late 60’s and then vetted and entrepreneured into a multi-doctor, technically advanced and architecturally sophisticated facility that is second to none in the field of animal care and medicine. I won’t go into his innumerable accomplishments that go with that, but you can get a small taste of those from the YouTube of “Dr Jernigan & Ralston Vet’s 50 Year Anniversary” celebration. I wish I had completed something like this in time for that occasion, but hopefully this will serve as a reminder that it has not been forgotten and of all that Dr. Jernigan represents.

Julz at Ralston Vet

What Norman represents is critically important in our troubled times, but he represents them in a way that makes politics look small by comparison. Our President, for instance, does not well represent the qualities he is sometimes admired for, but these are manifest in Uncle Norm. Despite his sometimes similarly gruff and down-to-earth demeanor, Dr. Jernigan is nothing if not hard working, perhaps an epitome of the Puritan work ethic, and someone who manages to get things done against all odds. He also possesses a privy financial acumen and a direct manner of calling things as he sees them. Along with this, he has similarly developed a remarkable capital enterprise which, unlike Trump’s, has never been in danger of bankruptcy. Any similarities may end there, however, since I have never known Norman to tell a lie or abandon someone in need, he always puts helping others above serving his own needs, and he is a giving, sympathetic, upstanding, church-going Christian, not to mention a fantastic family man. Of course, unlike the President who hasn’t followed in the footsteps of many of his predecessors in owning a beloved pet and has been quick to aid and abet trophy hunters, Uncle Norman loved animals and devoted much of his life to helping them.

For most of his career, Dr. Jernigan worked more with larger animals, and consequently spent endless hours on country roads en route to farms, feedlots, race tracks, and etc. This took it’s toll, including his having a leg permanently damaged when he was kicked by a horse he was treating (or something along those lines, I don’t remember for sure), from which he still has a noticeable limp and, I’m sure, considerable pain and inconvenience. That hasn’t stopped him from working endless hours, but in more recent years, considerably more of those have been with smaller animals, like Julz, whom he always managed to make time for. He is no less gifted in his work with them, as I was “lucky” to get to observe first hand, and even “have a hand in” on occasion. Uncle Norman was with us to the end, as I’m sure he has been with many beloved pets, when Julz had to be “put down,” which he did in my presence with professionalism, kindness, tact, and an unspoken aura of mercy. Julz would not have wanted it any other way, and neither would I. If it was up to Julz to pass the final verdict on Uncle Norm and the world he lived in and created, he would certainly be seen as a shining light along the Rainbow Bridge. This is making me cry now, something I rarely do.

I had to take a pretty long break to compose myself before returning to compose this. That has also been a big problem while attempting to write the book about Julz that some of this will be a part of. In spite of the sometimes difficult memories, I still eagerly anticipate returning to work on it. In much the same way, perhaps, Julz always seemed excited about returning to the Ralston Veterinary Clinic, where she would usually get to see Dr. Jernigan again. Though she knew it wouldn’t all be pleasant and painless, she seemed to understand that she would come out better for it, probably in part because she always did, but also because of things she really liked about it, including Uncle Norm, whom she seemed willing put up with even as he trimmed her nails or worse. The drive to the Clinic was also a major event, since we came to it from 60 miles away in Lincoln where we live. The drive was well worth it, not just for the family connection but also for the outstanding care Julz received there. Her excitement as we got near was nose-out-the-window palpable, even in single digit coldness. When we got to 84th and Harrison, she knew that if we turned left she would get to see my mom, which she also loved, but if we went straight we were directly off to the Doctor. Of course, she often got to see them both.

She would almost tear the car door off, and as soon as she got out would make a mad dash for the Clinic entry. The first thing she would do inside the Clinic, even if there were other pets in the vicinity, was make a beeline for the scale. She seemed to love weighing in, and sometimes we went through this process several times before her turn to see the doctor came. I think she was particularly proud of how much she weighed, and loved to hear us read the numbers off and joke with her about it. The staff out front, always lovingly friendly and helpful and efficient, were pleasantly amused by this. Julz was usually overweight, though maybe not as much as the numbers indicated, since she was also unusually husky and solid. Remember, we’re talking about a dog who had chased down and caught as many as 27 rabbits in a single day, no small feat of athleticism, and amazing when seen in action.

I know I’ve wandered a little off from Uncle Norm again, but this is also about the palatial dog-house the Doctor built; fortunately it never went as far as becoming Julz’s home-away-from-home, though there were a couple of over-nighters. Though nearly a perfect dog in every other way, Julz had more than her share of medical issues. As is not uncommon with larger dogs, maybe particularly with Labs, she had problems with her hips and back legs. The hip problems didn’t become very serious or too much of a hindrance till her later years, but she had to have artificial replacements for both of her ACL’s, about a year apart, when she was around the age of only 3. These were pretty medically advanced surgeries for a dog, at least back then, and Dr. Jernigan did not perform them himself, though he was instrumental in setting them up and in the recovery phases. The actual surgeons were highly qualified and used state-of-the art technology and procedures, characteristic of the Ralston Veterinary Clinic, and the results were amazing. Julz was quickly back to her duck-hunting rabbit-chasing self again, in both cases, and never had further problems with the ACL’s. There never seemed to be any residual hint of artificiality, which I also believe is true of everything about Dr. Jernigan and the clinic he founded.

Of all the medical treatments Julz would endure, only one of them took place at a different facility, and that was for an emergency which happened when Ralston Vet was closed for a weekend holiday. While engaged in another one of her specialties, catching ducks, Julz had stepped on a fish hook which became embedded deeply in her paw. This happened at the artificial “falls” on Oak Creek where it runs under 1st Street near Oak Lake, but we managed to make it up the steep and rocky trail to the parking lot, fishhook and all. We ended up having to take her to an Urgent Care for pets in Lincoln, and though the removal of the fishhook ended up being much less of an ordeal than we had feared, Julz was not shy about expressing her preference for the Ralston Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Norm. Some of her other experiences there, besides the ACL’s, included getting extensive stitches after being savagely attacked, without having provoked it, by some other dogs at the dog run, and again after severely cutting her paw on some glass while swimming. These incidents also occurred at or near Oak Lake, one of our favorite haunts at the time. It proved impossible to keep her out of the water until she was fully healed, but she recovered nonetheless and was quickly back to her usual mischief, undaunted by her experiences with stitches. It probably didn’t hurt that she knew that Dr. Jernigan could always fix her up again.

A much more serious accident was still to come, not near Oak Lake this time but about a mile south of where we would, in a much later season, find a human body. This would make the news, but that’s another story. We had wandered about a mile from where the car was parked, while rabbit hunting familiar territory in an industrial area along Salt Creek. We were taking a snack break in the grass, I think this was spring time or early summer because of all the standing water nearby, when out of nowhere a rabbit suddenly materialized, and Julz was after it in a flash. Moments later, she squealed loudly and with an agony I had never heard from her. It took me only moments to get to the scene, but when I saw her and what had happened, I immediately feared it was the end.

The rabbit had taken off through a narrow culvert ditch on the edge of an industrial lot along Pioneer Blvd. This was not an unusual development, and I wasn’t even particularly worried about traffic because Julz was good about that, but unfortunately there was a sharply pointed length of rebar protruding from the bank where it was deeply embedded. Julz had run into it full tilt. It rammed into the side of her neck and literally ripped her entire side off, from neck to tail and spinal cord to tummy, and everything was hanging out. Miraculously, there was still a layer of tissue protecting her innards from spilling out and, though she was crimson on that side from head to tail, she wasn’t bleeding profusely. In fact, after a brief spell where I was panicked and trying to figure out what to do, she was up and walking around, though tenderly and obviously in pain. By then, I had already called Mary, since there was no way we would make it back to the car, and told her that Julz had a life threatening injury. She got to us quickly and had already called to tell Norman that we we’re on our way, but it would be an hour or so before we got there. Somehow, probably assisted by Julz being in shock, we managed to get her into Mary’s car and from her’s to mine, and I sped directly up the interstate towards Omaha. The trip seemed to take longer than ever, but Julz was reasonably calm and uncomplaining. I’m sure she knew exactly where we we’re heading, and that everything would probably be OK.

There’s no doubt we got special family treatment on this one. It was still early Sunday morning, and normally Uncle Norman wouldn’t have been making any calls. I had parked near the Clinic’s emergency entrance a little before he got there and had managed to get Julz out of the car. She was still alert and seemed not to be doing too badly, all considered. Norman got there moments later. After he had kneeled down to take a closer look, I asked him if he had ever seen or worked on anything like this. He looked at me like “Are you kidding?”, but simply said “Nope. Let’s try to get her inside and see if there’s anything I can do.” It looked like I was going to get to assist on this one, like it or not. For Julz, I would have done anything. After examining her on the operating table, he explained that there was going to be a lot of “cleaning things up,” dozens of stitches on several layers, and that this would involve first anesthetizing her and inserting a breathing tube down her throat. He also informed me that her surviving the anesthetic, especially in her condition, was the most worrisome part. I asked him if the greater danger was when he gave it to her or later on during surgery or when she was coming out of it. “If she’s not going to make it, we’ll know in a minute. Here, hold this firmly right — there.” 40 minutes later, I was relieved to still be watching him make stitches and trying to follow his instructions. There turned out not to be a lot for me to help him with. I think I had been brought along mostly for the “education,” and because he knew I would want to be there, however it turned out. It was a vivid lesson. And obviously, Julz made it, though the recovery was an unusually long and arduous one. It was still probably less than a month till we were back to chasing rabbits and ducks and finding bodies and things.

The exact number and order of Julz’s various visits to the Vet are not important, but here’s the last of them. She’d been acting kind of out of sorts, having urinary issues, eating finically, and sometimes kind of stumbling around, so when her weight dropped suddenly by 20-30 pounds, I knew it was past time for another visit to Dr. Jernigan. As usual, he didn’t mess around. After hearing my explanation and taking a quick look over her, he said, “We’ll do a test to be sure, but it looks like she has diabetes.” After a short wait, he returned to say the tests had confirmed his suspicion. I had little idea what that implied, and was almost afraid to ask. Dr. Jernigan, along with some of his staff, kindly and patiently explained to me what the treatment was going to involve, which was mostly insulin shots and dietary controls. There was never any suggestion that maybe the time had come to consider “putting her down.” At the time, they probably knew that would have been out of the question, but now that I know what followed, I could understand why they might have raised the question. I had never liked shots, and had certainly never administered one. With the same professionalism, they led me through the steps, even let me do a trial injection, set us up with a short term supply of insulin and syringes, and asked if there was anything else they could do. I still had some questions, first and foremost among them being, “How long does she have?” The answer was, “Well, if you do really well with the insulin and all else goes well, it could be as much as 3 years, but this varies heavily on a case-by-case basis.” As much as? Not the news I wanted to hear, but still better than I had feared. Nothing to do but make the most of it. At least we would still be able to take our “walks” and spend time together.

It takes some time and careful monitoring to get the insulin adjusted to the appropriate level, and it ended up being more than predicted. Julz was still a big dog. While we we’re working on that, and I was gradually getting better at giving the shots, which Julz endured patiently, we still continued our outings. Norman had even said the exercise might be good for her. Julz wasn’t her old self, but she at least managed to still catch a few rabbits, which perked her up a lot. While still in the first week after learning of her diabetes, we had just gotten underway on one of these outings when she started stumbling around badly and running into things. She then curled to the ground and didn’t want to get up. This had never happened before. Fearing that I had done something deadly wrong with the insulin, I got her into the car, rushed her home, and then we were off to Omaha to see Uncle Norman — again. First, he checked to make sure there wasn’t a life threatening insulin related reaction, but after ruling that out he informed me, “The reason she was running into things is because she’s gone blind, a pretty common, almost expected development when dogs go on insulin.” Sadly, it was not reversible. There was a possible surgical treatment, but it was extremely expensive and not even likely to have a huge effect. Rabbits for miles around probably breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Dr. Jernigan with the Mayor or Ralston Don Groesser

Indeed, the rabbit hunting days were over. Though we continued our outings, things slowed down a lot, but we still enjoyed our time together and made the most of it. Julz returned to a reasonable level of health, and we continued the twice a day insulin shots religiously, which I got pretty good at giving most of the time, and did as well as we could with her diet. One day, a particularly hot one, I allowed her to go in the creek to cool off. When she entered the creek, she was like a new dog, and there were ducks to hunt to boot. While in the creek, you couldn’t even tell that she was blind. It was as though Julz had been born again. For the next two years, we were in the creeks as often as possible, and Lincoln has some good ones, often wading up and down them for hours. There were lots of sandbars, and the water was seldom over my knees and reasonably clean, and it was a great place to be on hot summer days. Julz even managed to catch some ducks while she was blind, though she definitely expected me to be on the lookout and point her in the right direction. I guess I had taken on the role of pointer dog. That was fine by me.

In spite of this, it became clear that Julz was winding down. When on solid ground, it would now take an hour to cover distances that we used to scramble over in minutes. The available creeks had steep banks that became more and more difficult for Julz to manage, so that became less of an option, though she was always willing try. Our outings started to be mostly short walks to find a nice bushy tree to lie under, where she was happy to spend hours, after chewing and scratching away a spot beneath the branches. This was also usually near Oak Lake, which had become our preferred haunt again, and she would often go out and swim around and around in circles for long stretches of time. Once, her circles drifted out into the middle of the lake and she couldn’t find her way back to shore. She was too far out to hear me yelling, and I almost started to swim out to get her, but she got wind of something and made it back on her own. During her last summer there was a lot of flooding, so the creeks weren’t even an option till sometime in August. We did get a couple of last good hikes up Salt Creek, but the ducks were few and far between. At last I spotted some that looked like she might have a chance at, though I might have done better myself, and I pointed her in the right direction. (Have I mentioned that when I speak of “hunting,” there were never guns involved?) She sniffed down their hiding spot in the brush on the banks, wriggled in there and actually caught one. I was so happy for her, this became one of the few other times through the whole affair that I actually cried. Julz was her plucky old self for a short time because of this, but it may have been all she was waiting for, because she went pretty steadily down hill from there. I think she just wanted that one last duck.

As weather cooled, our outings became fewer and farther between, and even less eventful, even though I was finally retired by then. Julz started preferring to spend hours just laying in the yard, and I would often be right there with her, even after there was snow on the ground. She had always liked laying in the snow, no matter how cold it was outside, and she was content to pass her remaining days like that. Of course, it was a little less pleasant for me, but I stayed with her as much as I could, and she didn’t complain when left to her own devices. She must have been digging deeply in the rabbit holes of her dreams. One day while still inside, she just collapsed and wouldn’t get up. She appeared to have called it quits. She wouldn’t eat, even her favorite treats, and without eating she couldn’t be given insulin. It was time for one last trip to Uncle Norm, this time fearing the worst. She even slid off the back car seat and got stuck on the floor, and made no attempt to move. You already know how things turned out on this last visit to the clinic, and since I don’t feel like crying again, we’ll leave it at that. Many of you have had similarly sad experiences; no point in dwelling any more on mine. Julz had lasted almost the full three years that Norm had predicted she might; it could have been far less without him. In fact, without his special, professional, unperturbed treatment, she might never have even made it as far as the insulin years. That would have left a lot of wasted water to flow beneath the bridge downstream. Instead, Julz got to wade it to the kind of end she wanted. It may not have been foremost in her mind at the time, but I’m sure she was as grateful as I am for Dr. Jernigan’s role in letting it happen. He’s truly a Veteran Vet and a wonderful person. Thank you Uncle Norm!

Written by David L Williams

January 30, 2020

Who Loves Who More?; Understanding the Love Your Fur Baby Gives You

Filed under: Animals — Ralston Vet @ 3:37 pm
Tags: , ,

Unfortunately, humans and our four-legged family members don’t (currently) speak the same language. Although they are able to give us signs that they are upset, hurt, or happy, we sometimes don’t know what they are thinking. As owners we find ourselves wondering if our loved ones really know how much we care for them. In turn, our lovely companions also want to make their human companions happy. It is important that this relationship have some sort of communication, but if not through words, then how?

Our companions may not have a common spoken language with humans, but their body language does say a lot about how they feel about us. These are a few things to look out for if you are ever wondering how much your pet loves you:

For cats:

  1.  Eye contact:  Their affection is often displayed through slow blinking, which indicates a relaxed environment. If a cat is enjoying your company, often times they may look half-asleep! This is an indication that they trust you.
  • Cheek rubbing: When a cat can confidently rub their cheeks into her hand, leg, face, etc. this means that the cat is trusting of you. They perform this action to demonstrate that they would like to mingle their scent with yours! Cheek rubbing is a symbol of a beautiful friendship!
  • Simply being around you: Cats will stick around you if they find a liking for you! This means they believe you can coexist, and feel comfortable in their surroundings. Although this is a small action, it is one of significant importance. Think about it. Would you want to be around someone you did not like?

For dogs:

  1. Nosing: Similar to cats, when a dog likes someone they will often rest their face/nose against their leg, thigh, or shoe. This is a demonstration that the pet enjoys your presence, and wants to be closer to you! Although it may not be the desired attention at the dinner table, remember, your pupper just wants to show you love!
  • Sighing: Unlike humans, sighing typically does not mean discontent in dogs. Instead, it demonstrates that they are calm and feel at ease around their owners. This gesture is one that shows us humans that they feel comfortable enough to even doze off in front of us.
  • Licking: Our kisses may not be as invasive as dog’s, but a good lick to face symbolizes how much our dogs love us. It may not be the most pleasant or sanitary, but dogs show love through licking our hands, legs, and even face! Allowing them to do so at times also shows that you are allowing this love, and accepting it. Just be sure to wash wherever your pet smooches you at afterwards!

Understanding our pet’s love is both rewarding for us, and for them! One of our certified technicians, Shelly, gave us a bit of insight on her feline friend Athena. She said, “Athena is always beside me; when I’m sleeping, eating, watching television. She goes where I go, and gives lots of wonderful snuggles. I can tell she loves me as much as I love her.” Another one of our certified technicians, Corrine, shared her experience with her canine baby, Lily. She added, “Lily gives me the usual routine of kisses, and she allows me to roll her over to give them right back! She sprawls out and gives me cries of joy, begging for more of my attention. Her love is given through her kisses and happy whines for me.” Shelly and Corrine are great examples on how to listen to your family member’s messages, even if not through our own verbal language. Their love is shown in very different ways, but overall is to the same degree as our own!

November 22, 2019

Welcoming the Holiday Season

undefinedWhile we do welcome the holiday season (most of the time with open arms), we also unknowingly welcome in dangers to our pets. Every year, we look forward to putting up our festive, loving decorations, sometimes without thought of how it could affect our furry friends. Our canine and feline friends are very prone to injuries, and we should try to do our best to protect them. Thankfully, Ralston Vet is here to let you know what to watch for this upcoming holiday season!
Although the decorations are a wonderful addition to our homes, we must be careful not to potentially put our animals in the way of harm! Here are a few things to watch out for this holiday season:

  1. Pine needles – Can be dangerous if swallowed!
  2. Live Trees – Preservatives on pines can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
  3. Climbing Trees – Feline friends can sometimes enjoy a high climb that could result in injury!
  4. Ornaments and Tinsel – Eating can block the digestive system.
  5. Poinsettias and Holly – A toxic plant if ingested!

Decorations can pose a danger, but so do the delicious foods we serve to our guests. I’m sure most know that chocolate is not good for our pets; however there are numerous others foods that can cause serious damage to pets:

  1. Cinnamon – If inhaled can cause lung discomfort.
  2. Nuts – Almonds, macadamia nuts, and pistachios can cause huge issues in pets, ranging from GI upset all the way to toxicity.
  3. Garlic powder, Onion, and Salt – Can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  4. Bones – Cooked Bones can splinter in animal’s stomachs.
  5. Alcohol – Often leads to weakness, lethargy, and sometimes coma.
    To be safe this season, Dr. Wolter recommends, “When feeding guests this holiday season, consider placing your pets in another room, or in kennels until the meal is done. This will prevent any food scraps from being eaten.” In terms of holiday decorations, a tactful strategy to keep pets away from the Christmas tree is to put a small fence around the perimeter of the gifts. You can always dress this up with fabric, or decorations that are safe for pets.
    Ralston Vet wishes you and your family a safe, fun, and beautiful holiday season!

April 3, 2019

Simple Tricks to Making Your Pet’s Vet Visit Less Stressful

Filed under: Omaha Veterinary,pet travel,Veterinary Care — Ralston Vet @ 11:04 am
Tags: ,

Shelby Anne o davidDoes your pet stress when riding in the car? 

  • Taking your pet on frequent car rides around the neighborhood and arriving at pleasant place ( ie.. the park, or even back home again) can help alleviate stress from car rides. They will be happier to travel if they don’t always end up at the veterinary clinic, boarding facility, or the groomer.
  • Rewarding your pet with a treat or love and attention before and after a car ride can make the trip a more pleasant experience.
  • Using pheromones on the seat, in the carrier, or on your pet’s collar can help your pet feel calmer during the car ride.
  • If your pet gets car sick and vomits during car rides, there are medications available for this, so speak to one of our veterinarians about this issue.

Click here to watch a video on cat car trip tips.

Does your pet hide when it’s time to go somewhere?

  • For dogs, taking them on walks with their leash, and rewarding them positively when they see the leash (treats when walking and when using a leash) can help alleviate some of this travel anxiety. Try to make the leash, car, and leaving the house a positive experience more often than not. Don’t make travel all about the vet.
  • For cats, keeping the carrier out in the open, at least for a few days o tracy hiltbrand edit carrierprior to a vet visit, can help. This will give your cat time to adjust to the carrier. Placing your cat’s food or treats in the carrier can make it feel like an inviting place as well. You can also take your cat on short car trips in the carrier that don’t result in a veterinary exam. This way, your cat won’t always be suspicious of the carrier or the car.

Does your pet have anxiety when they come into the clinic?

  • Let us know when you call to schedule an appointment! We can greet your pet with treats and pheromone treated collars/towels to help them feel more at ease. We can also prepare an exam room in advance for your pet, especially if they feel anxiety around other animals.
  • adaptil and feliwayIf these actions are not enough to relieve anxiety for your pet, medications can be prescribed for future vet visits, so discuss this with one of our veterinarians. They are happy to help.

February 20, 2018

Pet Insurance, Yes or No?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralston Vet @ 3:04 pm

kaylee and stewiePet insurance. Do you have it? Have you thought about it? Are you wanting to get it? Well, we are here to give you some things to consider about pet insurance. What are things to look for in a plan? When would it be of use? Why does your pet need it?

Why would you not want an insurance plan? You and your family have health insurance, you have car and homeowners insurance, and so should your pet. Most plans cover preventive visits, accidents and medications. How many times have you said you wish you could claim your pet on taxes or that the bill wasn’t so high? Too many times to count, right? We hear it all the time, that healthcare for your pet can be expensive. Did you know that insurance companies reimburse you for certain services or products purchased during that visit? Then you would be receiving money back which reduces the amount out of pocket you have to pay. Another good reason to have insurance is in case of an emergency. How many times has your pet eaten something they shouldn’t have or vomited after hours, a holiday or a weekend? Too many times to count again, right? Insurance will help you cover the costs of unexpected circumstances and lighten the load on your wallet.




There are many different companies with affordable plans out there. According to Consumer Advocate some top pet insurance companies are:

brandon crissy barretThese companies have been put on the top list because of their reputable customer service and plan coverage options. For instance, Healthy Paws has been deemed the best overall according to Consumer Advocate because of their comprehensive illness and accidental coverage as well as their top #1 rating for customer satisfaction. Great customer service is so important!

Items to consider when choosing the right plan for your pet:

  • What benefits, deductible and copay works best for your situation?
  • Do they cover your species? Many just cover dogs and cats, though there are some that cover exotics.
  • Do they cover accidents, illness, wellness or all of the above?
  • What is the waiting period for submitting a claim from your visit?
  • Does your pet have a pre-existing condition? Most plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions – check their definition of pre-existing.
  • Is the deductible per incident, per condition or per lifetime (some may start over every year)?
  • Will it cover heritable or congenital conditions, breeding, behavior or alternative therapy?
  • Is there a cap on coverage? If so, is it per condition or lifetime?
  • What are you reimbursed for compared to the actual cost or is it a fixed amount for each procedure?

o kaleena shannonWhen you have a plan and you are needing to submit your information, most places have a very easy submission process. Most companies have forms for you and your veterinarian to fill out. Here at Ralston Vet we can e-mail or fax your claim form, invoice and patient chart to your pet’s insurance company. Some companies even have an easy app to download for easy submission.

Peace of mind is one of the most important benefits for having insurance on your fur baby.   What are you waiting for? Start today and don’t worry about weighing your medical decisions based on finances again. Get the reassurance of pet insurance.

June 14, 2017

Canine Influenza Update

Filed under: Dog Flu,Omaha Veterinary,prevention,Veterinary Care — Ralston Vet @ 3:46 pm

Aria and Vegas o Joyce editDue to recent outbreaks of Canine Influenza at dog shows in the south eastern portion of the US, Ralston Vet is recommending dogs traveling to areas with outbreaks be vaccinated for Canine Influenza. We will be vaccinating patients 7 weeks of age and older at high risk of infection with a Canine Flu vaccine. This vaccine covers both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of the virus. To achieve immunity your dog must be vaccinated and then receive a booster vaccine 2-4 weeks later.

We are NOT recommending this vaccine (yet) for the average Omaha metro area canine. There have been zero confirmed cases (yet) in Nebraska.

Signs of Canine Influenza: Coughing is the most predominant clinical sign and may persist for several weeks. Dogs may also have decreased appetite, fever, lethargy, and nasal discharge. Some dogs infected with H3N2 (the strain responsible for the Chicago outbreak in 2015) may develop vomiting or diarrhea. Some dogs progress to more severe illness with high fever, rapid breathing, pneumonia and prolonged recovery time. Fatalities have been reported in a small percentage of dogs. Treatment consists of supportive care, antibiotics, and potential hospitalization for severe cases.

What you need to know: CIV (Canine Influenza Virus) is not the same as Bordetella. CIV is highly infectious and can spread from dog to dog rapidly through direct contact with respiratory discharge, through the air via a cough, sneeze, or bark, and through contact with contaminated objects such as dog bowls, collars/leashes, and clothing. Wash hands with soap and water or disinfect them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with dogs. Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dog to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus. Please call Ralston Vet at 402-331-6322 if you feel your dog is at risk for Canine Influenza. More information can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Canine Influenza?

It is a dog flu that is highly contagious and causes respiratory infection in dogs.  It does not affect people or cats at this time.  The common symptoms are respiratory signs such as coughing, hacking, discharge from the nose or difficulty breathing.

What can I do to prevent my dog from getting the flu?

The best prevention is to limit exposure with other dogs. At risk environments include dog parks, doggy daycare, boarding facilities, dog social events, and grooming salons. We recommend that you avoid places with dog exposure where the health of the other dogs is uncertain.  Less likely exposure can be your back yard with neighbor dogs.

Is there a Vaccine?

Yes. We will be vaccinating patients 7 weeks of age and older at high risk of infection with a Canine Flu vaccine. This vaccine covers both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of the virus. To achieve immunity your dog must be vaccinated and then receive a booster vaccine 2-4 weeks later.

If my dog shows signs what is the treatment?

Mild cases of the flu will be examined by the veterinarian and prescribed medications.  Severe cases can be treated with fluids and medications.  Diagnostics may be performed to confirm that your pet does in fact have Canine Influenza.

When should I call Ralston Vet?

If your dog has a newly developed cough with or without discharge from the nose, call 402-331-6322.  Please let our healthcare team know so the appropriate precautions can be taken to minimize the exposure to other patients and the possibility of contaminating our facility. We ask you keep the pet in your vehicle and call us from the parking lot.

We want to restate, at this time there have been no confirmed positive dogs in the area. If you will be traveling to an area with dogs that have been sick, vaccination is recommended.

Ralston Vet

6880 S 78 St

Ralston, Ne 68127


February 16, 2017

Why does my pet need a nose to tail exam?

2e-appt-editPreventive pet healthcare is a very important role in your pet’s life. Just as we see the dentist at least twice a year or your physician annually, your pet also needs to see their doctor at least once a year for a checkup other than times when they aren’t feeling well. These checkups are important for your pet to receive a physical exam to check for any changes or new concerns that have come up as well as giving the vaccinations needed and checking samples.

Every year, your pet needs a physical examination done. We call these our Preventive Care Exams. At their preventive care exam your technician or assistant will start with gathering a history on your pet to find out how they have been doing at home. This history includes asking questions such as “What does your baby eat and how much?” “Has there been any changes in behavior?” “Are we indoor, outdoor or both?” These questions help the doctor discuss with you the best preventatives, test or vaccines that will be necessary for your pet. After, your doctor will come in and do a nose to tail exam. As they examine your pet they will discuss any significant findings such as broken teeth, heart disease, weight, arthritis or lumps and bumps. They will also review the history you left with the tech or the assistant. To see what a complete nose to tail exam looks like, click here.

6tb-titleAre you thinking, “Why does my pet need an exam?” Dr. Burbach our medical director states, “The preventive care exam is important to catch health conditions before they are causing problems. This allows us to adjust treatment plans to keep your pet as healthy as possible.” Many of us see a dentist, an ophthalmologist, a chiropractor and a physician multiple times a year. Veterinarians are all of these in doctors in one. There are times when a specialist may be needed, depending on the specific need of your pet. At the end of these exams the veterinarian will discuss with you the findings of your pet. They will discuss any treatments or vaccines needed.

The preventive visit will include discussing the best vaccinations for your pet. Our core vaccinations for dogs include: Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis and Rabies. Some of these vaccines are not done yearly. For example, Rabies can be given annually, every two years or every three years. Leptospirosis is an annual vaccine. This vaccine may be unfamiliar with you. Here at Ralston Vet we have deemed this as a core vaccine to help prevent the spreading of Lepto. We had 6 positive cases of Lepto last year. To learn more about Lepto, click here. Our core vaccines for cats include: distemper and rabies. Some other vaccines for dogs and cats are discussed based on your pet’s lifestyle. A few of these vaccines may include, but are not limited to, Bordetella for dogs and Leukemia for cats.

9lb-titleDr. Berry states the importance of vaccines are to “protect pets against communicable diseases that can be fatal for them or make them very ill. Through vaccination over the decades, we have fortunately been able to dramatically decrease the incidences of these diseases like distemper and parvo, however we still see several cases of these diseases every year. If we stopped vaccinating, we would likely see a dramatic resurgence of these diseases. Right now they are currently being controlled through the vaccinations. As veterinarians, we also protect humans against these animal diseases. We vaccinate pets in order to help protect people against being exposed to diseases that can be transmitted to them from their pets like Rabies and Leptospirosis.” Click here for more information or questions about the importance of vaccines.

blood-work-editHere at Ralston Vet, we cover checking samples and discussing flea and tick preventatives during our preventive exams. Did you know of all the parasites are not only vulnerable for your pet can catch, but you and your children as well? We have seen 85 pets in the past year that were diagnosed with roundworms,24 pets diagnosed with hookworms, 13 patients were diagnosed with whipworms, and 12 fur babies had Giardia. Can you believe that? That is a crazy amount of pets that have been exposed to parasites. These are the same pets that might be walking through your lawn or at your apartment complex that are spreading these parasites. Are you thinking of bringing in a stool sample at your pets next preventive visit yet? If not, what if we shared with you that 50 the pets in this area were diagnosed with tapeworms. Tapeworms are primarily transmitted by a pet eating a flea that contains a tapeworm egg. Fleas? Yes, Fleas. Oh ya, by the way, more than 70 of our patients were diagnosed last year with fleas. Some were severe enough to need additional medical attention and some were diagnosed before any symptoms arose. That is about 6 pets a month, just that we saw in our clinic. That means your pet comes into contact with fleas and parasites pretty consistently. This is why it is so important that we check a stool sample and that we discuss and send home the best preventative products for your fur baby at their preventive visit.

Other preventive discussions your doctor will talk to you about include Heartworm Disease. It is important your pet is current on heartworm medication and running a heartworm test yearly. Did you know most heartworm medications cover some of those most common parasites from above? Your veterinarian will also discuss with you running bloodwork on your pet based on your pet’s lifestyle, age or previous diagnosed illness. Bloodwork can be a great piece of information for us to see inside of the pet’s body to see how things are working. This is vital since pets cannot speak with us and can hide discomfort. Please call us today at 402-331-6322 to see if your pet is due or coming due for their preventive care exam.

Written by Nicole M. Ralston Vet

October 12, 2016

The Bite That Causes the Itch

Filed under: Omaha Veterinary,Veterinary Care — Ralston Vet @ 3:36 pm
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flea-crop2How many times have you seen your pet scratch and bite at their fur? Have you ever wondered if it’s fleas? The thought of your pet having those fast jumping parasites are already making you itch. Am I right?

Fleas are an external parasite that live amongst many mammals. They will feed and jump off of humans, but will most likely host on your fur babies.

Have you ever seen a flea before? They move very fast and are about the size of a grain of rice. They appear brown or black. They usually hide in the fur by your pets neck, bottom or under belly. If you think you see any grab a wet paper towel. With this paper towel grab some dirt from your pet’s skin. If you rub it on the wet paper towel and it’s a reddish color then this is flea dirt or flea feces.flea-crop2-flip

When a flea bites it punctures your pet’s skin to drink its blood meal. Simultaneously it excretes saliva. The saliva causes allergy inducing symptoms. This is why your boy or girl bites and scratches at themselves if they have fleas.

flea-life-cycleThe flea life cycle is a very resilient one. It starts with the adult female flea. When she feeds she lays eggs. She lays up to 50 eggs a day.  Take a moment to imagine all those fleas. Every time those females eat they lay all those eggs and if they do 50 a day think how many eggs are in your house? Hundreds! When they fall off into your home, on your couch, in your bed, on your floors, or even your yard, they now are getting ready to turn into larvae. This can happen as soon as 9 days. The larvae then turn into pupae. This stage cannot be killed or stopped from the cycle. The casing of the pupae is hard like a coconut shell and nothing penetrates it. It can stay in this stage for many months.
Thought the life cycle was a fast process? It’s not. This is why treating in the winter is still important. Who knows when those pupae are going to hatch? No one. When they hatch they are adult fleas and will jump and feed and start it all over again.nexgard-flea-preventative-omaha-ne

Gross right? It’s ok, we have medications to help! Give your dog a beef flavored chewable tablet monthly with Nexgard or Bravecto every three months to help prevent fleas from hosting on your pet. They are fast acting and they kill those little creepy crawlies. For cats we have Frontline or Revolution which are topical liquids to keep them protected all year round by applying monthly.

Still itching and want to inspect your loved ones. Go for it and call us if you see anything. If you want us to check call 402-331-6322 today and schedule a technician appointment. We will have the right product for your fur baby!flea-crop2

Information cited from veterinarypartner.com

September 29, 2016

Dear Dr. Demyan,

Filed under: Omaha Veterinary,Veterinary Care — Ralston Vet @ 3:19 pm
Tags: ,


I just wanted to write and let you know how much our whole family appreciated the way you worked with our family in the last few moments of Mac’s life. This was the first time for any of us – Heather, Dan, myself to intentionally say goodbye to a family member whose quality of life had declined so significantly. It was so helpful that you explained everything so thoroughly as to what to expect. I know your staff is always busy, but we didn’t at any time feel rushed, both while his spirit was still with us and when Mac’s spirit passed over.

mac-morehouse-and-ownerAs Heather’s mom I appreciated all your extra efforts to counsel and comfort Heather in the weeks that preceded Mac’s passing. It is so hard to see your child no matter what the age go through such pain.

Your whole staff was just wonderful. Receiving Mac’s paw print and a condolence card signed by the whole staff was such an unexpected blessing and surprise. Although this kind act brought a fresh wave of tears for all of us, it is a priceless gift Heather can treasure as a lasting remembrance. That is definitely “above and beyond” customer service and the reason why Heather and I drive across town to have our fur babies cared for at Ralston Vet.

Knowing that Mac would have wanted Heather to share her home and heart with another rescue dog, she has adopted “Ziggy” and will bring him in for his care.

mac-morehouse-collageThanks again for all you do to be a blessing to God’s special creatures and those who are privileged to care for and love him.


Cheryl M.

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