Dobby’s Story

Dobby's Story

Just like people, many pets face adversity. And just like people, animals often depend on the help of others to get through those difficult times. One such pet is Dobby, a 4-year-old Chihuahua who has a new look and a brighter future thanks to her “mom,” Michal, and Eastown Veterinary Clinic.

Michal says she adopted Dobby from Project Hope Rescue in Texas, in March of 2018. “I’ve always been a big dog person, but I saw her picture and fell in love with her.”

What made Dobby’s picture different than others was a severe defect in her jaw. Dobby’s jaw was obviously damaged, with her lower jaw hanging down. While Dobby was born with a defect that gave her an extensive overbite, she also suffered trauma at some point.

“Her jaw was severely fractured when they found her, but they weren’t exactly sure how it happened,” Michal said. “She was really skinny when we first got her. Not sure how long she had been on the streets, but it was obvious that she couldn’t eat well and was pretty much starving.”

Dobby, as she was found by the animal rescue

To correct the damage to her jaw, Dobby was taken by the rescue team to a veterinarian for surgery. A pin was placed in her jaw to help heal the fracture, and several follow-up procedures were performed to correct her jaw.

It was after these surgeries that Michal was able to adopt Dobby, with the understanding that Dobby’s jaw was going to need more work. “We were informed that it would probably be just one more surgery to remove the pin in her jaw, but the pin actually did more damage than it helped.,” Michal says. “She naturally had a pronounced overbite, but the jaw damage was much more extensive than we originally thought.”

Normal jaw x-ray

Dobby’s fractured jaw x-ray

Ultimately, the pin placed in the jaw failed at correcting the problem, and a new solution was needed. Michal brought Dobby to another veterinarian, who then attempted a different procedure, using wires to stabilize the jaw along with the pin.

Michal said she dreaded taking Dobby in for surgeries and would get very stressed a few weeks before each one. “I think my biggest worries were that she wouldn’t make it through the surgery, she wouldn’t recover afterward, or the pain would be unbearable for her if she did,” Michal said. “I also worried that there was some avenue or option that I was missing or hadn’t considered. I just didn’t want to fail her.”

After several failed attempts at fixing Dobby’s jaw, Michal was advised to contact Dr. Lynn Happel, who specializes in complicated veterinary dentistry at Eastown Veterinary Clinic.

Dr. Happel said her first impression of Dobby was that she was adorable. After learning more about what Dobby had gone through, however, Dr. Happel says she began to question whether Dobby’s jaw could be repaired.

“I was skeptical about the ability of the fracture to heal due to the fact that it had been present for months,” she explains. “The rescue vet had put bone pins down the mandibular canals which may have killed the nerve and blood supply to the lower jaw, inhibiting the bone’s ability to heal.

But knowing Dobby deserved a chance at a normal life, Dr. Happel decided to try and repair the jaw. Dobby’s first surgery involved removal of the pins and wires and placement of a jaw splint.

Splint placed on bottom jaw

The splint consisted of dental wires wrapped throughout the jaw to help stabilize the fracture and prevent movement during healing. An acrylic-like material was then placed over the top of the wires, protecting Dobby’s tongue and gums and adding stability to the structure.

Dobby was sent home to recover. Only time would tell whether the splint would work.

Unfortunately Dr. Happel’s fears came true, and due to the extensive damage done during the initial surgeries, the jaw would not be able to heal, despite the use of the splint. Having exhausted all other options, Dr. Happel recommended a mandibulectomy, or removal of the bottom part of the jaw.

Dobby’s profile, after removal of much of the bottom jaw.

“She is very food motivated and both vets felt that she would be a great candidate for the mandibulectomy,” Michal says. “We didn’t have a whole lot of other options. We’d exhausted all the other forms of treatment and this was the last thing we could try.”

As extreme as the procedure sounded, Michal says she was shocked at how quickly Dobby bounced back after the surgery. “She was eating her food (canned) almost normally the same day as pick up.”

Adapting to life without a bottom jaw seems like it would be a challenge, but Michal says Dobby has done great. “Her tongue hangs out more, but that’s about it. I’ve fed her canned food made into a soup from day one, and her overbite has helped her get used to basically lapping up her food, so it wasn’t a great difference.”

While many had given up hope for Dobby’s recovery, Michal and Dr. Happel knew she deserved a chance at a great dog life.

“I’m just really glad we found Dr. Happel,” Michal says. “She cared about what was best for her and went out of her way to keep performing procedure after procedure on her until we could find something that not only worked, but also would give her the best quality of life.”

Dr. Happel says she anticipates a remarkable future for Dobby, thanks to her appetite. “Because she is so food motivated, I think her prognosis is great,” she says.

Michal says Dobby’s life is close to becoming as normal as possible and foresees snuggles, squirrel chases and lots of naps in Dobby’s future. “She’s such a happy little thing and I’m happy that we’ve been able to give her a second chance at life,” Michal says. “I love her.”

Dobby, after recovering from surgery

Dobby and her mom Michal enjoying life together

Eastown’s Newest Doctor Discusses Parasite Prevention

Fall in Michigan means cooler temperatures and more time indoors. But pets still need protection from parasites, which can have a presence year-round! Eastown Veterinary Clinic’s newest veterinarian, Dr. Holly Mincks, took time to answer questions and explain why parasite prevention is so important!

Q: We hear a lot about “monthly preventatives.” What are these, and why do we need them?
A: “Monthly preventatives” are medications that are given to prevent fleas, ticks, heartworms, and the diseases that these pests carry. Many of the heartworm preventatives also treat intestinal parasites too!
It is important to give these medications because fleas and ticks can carry diseases that are very harmful to your pet. Heartworm, in particular, can be deadly if your pet contracts it.
What many pet owners do not always realize is that most flea/tick preventatives do not specifically protect against heartworm disease. There are several products that combine flea/heartworm prevention, such as Trifexis, but many do not. If you are not sure whether the preventative you are giving protects against fleas, ticks, and heartworm, it is a good idea to ask your veterinarian!

Q: How does heartworm preventative work?
A: Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, so when a mosquito bites a dog or cat with heartworm, it can transfer heartworm to a healthy pet.
Heartworm preventatives are designed to kill the heartworm at a very early larva stage before they have a chance to grow and infest the heart. For this reason, it is important to give heartworm preventatives at the same time each month, to make sure you are killing the heartworm at the larva stage. Heartworm testing can detect heartworm disease from the previous season, which is why we recommend testing for heartworm disease every year.
It is also important to give heartworm prevention year-round, rather than only seasonally. This is a common question I get from many pet owners. Heartworm preventatives work retroactively – meaning they kill infection that your pet has picked up within the previous month. This means that if we were to stop giving heartworm prevention too soon during the year, your pet could still get deadly heartworm disease.

Q: My dog only goes outside to go potty. Does he really need heartworm preventative?
A: Yes! Here at Eastown Veterinary Clinic, we follow the guidelines of the American Heartworm Society, which recommends year-round heartworm prevention for every pet, regardless of their lifestyle.
Anytime your dog is outside, no matter how brief, he or she is susceptible to heartworm disease. Weather in Michigan can often be unpredictable, so it is not always possible to accurately predict when the weather will be “too cold” for mosquitoes!

Q: My cat is indoors only. Why do you recommend heartworm preventative for her?
A: Cats can contract heartworm disease from mosquitoes in the same way that dogs can. Believe it or not, mosquitoes can live in climates as cold as 57 degrees for up to 30 days, including inside your home during the cold winter months!
The heartbreaking truth about feline heartworm disease is that there is currently no approved treatment for heartworm disease in cats! For that reason alone, it is far easier to prevent heartworm disease than to risk your cat’s life.

Q: I only have one cat, and she never goes outside. Why does she need flea preventative?
A: There are many ways for fleas to find a way into your home, even if your cat never goes outside. Fleas can hitch a ride on a dog that goes outdoors, or if you live in an older house, you may have mice in your basement or attic that are also carriers. Fleas can even be brought into the house on your clothing! They love the warm temperatures that a house provides, and it does not take long for an infestation to occur.

Q: I’ve heard flea collars don’t work, but you recommend Seresto collars. What’s the difference?
A: Depending on the type of flea collar, some collars only kill the adult fleas, while others may target the younger stages of fleas. Seresto is unique because it both kills and repels fleas (and ticks!), so it prevents them from biting your pet and transmitting diseases. It lasts for 8 months and is water resistant, so it is very convenient if you live a busy lifestyle.
Additionally, many off-brand or low-quality flea collars can cause skin reactions in some pets, and many cannot guarantee that they will be effective for your pet. For this reason, we recommend only purchasing flea/tick and heartworm prevention from your veterinarian to ensure the product will be safe and effective for your pet.

Q: Preventatives are expensive! Is it worth the money?
A: Absolutely! Let’s take a look at heartworm prevention as an example. The average pet owner pays between $5-15 per month on heartworm prevention. The average cost of treatment for a dog with heartworm is $1000 or more. This means that if you are giving heartworm prevention every month at $5 per month, it will take at least 15 years (longer than the lifespan of most pets) to reach the cost of 1 heartworm treatment!
Fleas, while not as life-threatening as heartworm, can be extremely difficult to get rid of once they have infested your home. If you see a live flea on your pet, that means there are more in your house waiting to hatch! Because fleas like to lay their eggs in carpeting, clothing, and bedding, treatment consists of very diligent housecleaning, along with treating every pet in the home with a topical (applied on the skin) or oral (given by mouth) flea prevention for a minimum of 3 months. This ensures we are killing both the eggs that live in the environment and the adult fleas that jump on your pet! All in all, it is tedious work to get rid of fleas, not to mention hundreds of dollars spent in flea bombs or pest control services for your house.
It is much, much cheaper and easier to prevent the problem than to treat it after it has occurred!

Q: Any final thoughts?
A: If you have any questions about flea, tick, or heartworm preventatives, please ask our friendly, knowledgeable staff! We are always willing to discuss different products and determine what would work best with your pets and lifestyle!

During October, Eastown Veterinary Clinic will be offering savings on parasite preventatives! Save $10 on a year’s supply of Trifexis or Revolution, or $10 off the purchase of both a year’s supply of Interceptor and a year’s supply of Frontline or Nexgard. Call (616) 649-1075 for more information!

Bugs vs. Blue: A Kitten’s Epic Battle Against Parasites

Parasites. The word alone can make a person cringe, especially if they have had firsthand dealings with the pesky buggers. During October, Eastown Veterinary Clinic will be offering savings on parasite preventatives, including Trifexis, Interceptor and Revolution.

But why is it so important to protect our pets from parasites?

Besides causing damage to the pet infested with parasites, these cling-ons can wreak havoc on other animals, and even people in some cases. Miranda Coon had no idea what was lurking within when she adopted her adorable little kitten, Blue. Miranda said she was getting ready with friends for her best friend’s wedding when ladies on bicycles rode up to the house.

“One of them had a tiny kitten tucked in her vest,” Miranda said. “They told us that they were on a long bike trip and they found the kitten all alone on a bike path in the middle of the woods. They couldn’t keep him so I volunteered to take him. He became the something Blue for the wedding.”

It was apparent to Miranda that Blue had fleas, and because of his bloated belly, Miranda assumed he had intestinal parasites. She scheduled an appointment at Eastown Veterinary Clinic, and it turned out to be just in time. Miranda had noticed a puncture in Blue’s face. After examining Blue, Dr. Tittle realized this was no simple puncture – Blue had a cuterebra, which is a fly larva that takes up residence under the skin. The cuterebra was removed, and Blue was sent home with medication to help him heal. But Miranda’s dealings with parasites on her precious kitten were far from over. Because it is very common for puppies and kittens to have intestinal parasites, Miranda was advised to bring in a stool sample for testing.

Testing of the stool revealed that Blue had a parasite party in his belly, with hookworms, roundworms and coccidia living it up in his intestinal tract. Eastown recommends testing kitten and puppy stool at least twice, and adult dog and cat stool at least annually. One negative fecal exam does not guarantee the pet is parasite-free. Parasite life cycles have several stages, including one where eggs are shed. Testing stool when the parasite is not shedding eggs can lead to a false negative. Testing another stool sample 3-4 weeks later allows young parasites to mature and shed eggs so that they may be detected in the sample. For the same reason, after a positive fecal test, it is recommended to test stool again every 3-4 weeks until two concurrent samples have been shown to not contain parasites. Miranda was grateful to have gotten the medication to treat Blue’s parasites.

“He was so little I don’t know what would have happened to him if he didn’t get treated,” Miranda said.

Besides treating the intestinal parasites, Dr. Tittle prescribed a monthly parasite preventative called Revolution. Revolution is a topical medication that protects against fleas, ear mites and lice, as well as against hookworms and roundworms.

“It’s super convenient that it prevents the fleas and worms with one dose,” Miranda said.

Though Blue will be mostly indoors, Miranda said she plans on continuing the Revolution. Even indoor-only cats can be at risk for contracting parasites, and Miranda knows the importance of keeping Blue safe.

“Prevention is way better than treatment in my opinion!” Miranda said.

While intestinal parasites can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, bloated abdomen and weight loss, an affected pet can also show no signs of infestation. Besides the risk to the affected animal, parasites can be passed to other animals through contact with the animal, infected stool or soil. Several parasites are considered zoonotic, meaning they can be passed from animals to humans. Roundworms can affect children and the elderly, causing migration of worms to the eye or internal organs. Though infection of humans is rare, it is important to know that there is a small risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that about 5 percent of the United States population carries antibodies to roundworms, which suggests that they have ingested roundworms eggs at some point. Hookworms are also potentially zoonotic, as the larvae can penetrate human flesh, causing inflammation of the affected area. Regular stool testing allows peace of mind for the pet owner that not only the pet is safe, but other pets and humans as well. Blue faced an army of parasites, but has come out the victor, and is able to rest easy these days.

For more information on canine and feline parasites, visit

Client Testimonial: Jane Talsma

The Talsma family pictured above: (L-R) Gary with Bella, Jane with Stella, and Elle with Gandalf

Eastown Veterinary Clinic has undergone a lot of changes since opening in June of 2011. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is our amazing clientele. Because of the loyalty and support of our clients, Eastown has been able to grow while continuing to provide the top-notch medical care we value so highly. Many of our clients have been with us since the beginning—one of those is Jane Talsma. Jane brings her three dogs to our clinic and says the medical care, location and connection with staff keeps her coming back.

Jane said she first noticed Eastown while trying a different route to work.

“I saw the old bank was now a vet clinic,” she said. “I almost broke my neck as I whipped my head around. I had decided a long time ago that I would switch to an inner-city vet whenever it happened.”

Jane brought her miniature poodles, Stella and Bella, and her Shi Tzu mix, Gandalf, to the clinic in December of 2011.

Jane said the doctors at Eastown have been able to quickly diagnose, and treat, conditions that threatened the lives of her beloved pets. All three of her dogs have battled heart conditions, and Stella, who unfortunately passed away this year, had allergy and eye issues as well. Jane said the care her pets received at Eastown made a tremendous difference in their lives.

“Stella’s allergies were diagnosed by Dr. Happel and she went on medicines that made a big difference in her comfort,” says Jane. “Then, with Apoquel coming on the market, Stella basically lived an allergy-symptom-free life. So grateful for her comfort.”

Jane said Dr. Tittle caught Stella’s eye conditions early and was able to get her to an ophthalmologist quickly. Though she ended up losing both eyes to glaucoma, Jane said Dr. Tittle’s prompt care helped prevent pain and suffering.

Stella, before losing her eyes to glaucoma

“Dr. Tittle was also on the ball with Stella’s enlarged heart and we got an appointment with a private veterinary cardiologist quickly,” Jane explains. “When Gandalf developed his heart issues, Dr. Tittle again quickly got us to go to the cardiologist for his consult. The doctors at Eastown really cared about the circumstances of our beloved pets’ health. To have three small pups, with possibly each having a heart problem, the staff at Eastown has really come to our aid.”

Though there have been difficult times for Jane during her pets’ illnesses, Jane said she has always felt that the staff cared about her and her pets. This was very apparent when, shortly after the passing of Stella, Gandalf also became very ill.

“When Gandalf got sick with very similar heart symptoms, I really felt that everyone at the clinic who was familiar with our situation, was pulling for us,” Jane said. “I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to say this never happens at other clinics, but I feel very connected with the two veterinarians I have been in contact with the most, Drs. Happel and Tittle, on a human level too.”



Besides medical services, Eastown also provides grooming services for Jane’s dogs. “Leah, (Eastown’s groomer), is just wonderful,” Jane says.

Jane had parting advice for other pet owners, regarding the importance of a healthy diet. “Make sure your dog or cat food has taurine in it,” she said. “Taurine helps build and support healthy heart muscle.”

Jane has been an outstanding “parent” to her fur-kids, and Eastown has enjoyed getting to know the Talsma family. We look forward to continuing to provide medical and grooming care for Bella and Gandalf!

Canine Influenza Cases Increase in Michigan

There have been numerous confirmed cases of Canine Influenza in Michigan, and Eastown Veterinary Clinic is working hard to address our clients’ concerns and keep our patients healthy! In response to the confirmed cases, Eastown is now recommending the canine influenza vaccine for all dogs with a social lifestyle. Social lifestyles would include any activities that result in dogs interacting with large numbers of other dogs. These activities include day care, boarding, grooming, puppy classes, dog parks and any other scenarios that involve groups of dogs.

If your dog participates in any of these activities, we strongly recommend having your pet receive the canine influenza vaccine. In addition, we are now requiring the vaccine for grooming and puppy classes at our facility. We have added appointment spaces to our schedule specifically for the vaccine, and strive to get all pets in need vaccinated as quickly as possible.

To schedule an appointment for the vaccine, or if you have any questions or concerns, please call our office at (616) 451-1810

To learn more about canine influenza, including symptoms and treatment, please read common Q & A’s below:

Q: What is Canine Influenza?
A: Canine Influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza virus.

Q: How is canine influenza spread?
A: Direct contact, nasal secretions, contaminated objects including people.

Q: What are the symptoms of canine influenza?
A: Signs can be mild to severe:
– cough
– thick nasal discharge
– fever
– lethargy
– decreased appetite
– secondary infections

Q: Do all exposed dogs develop symptoms?
A: No- 80% of exposed dogs will develop symptoms

Q: Can canine influenza cause death?
A: Yes – but less than 10% infected will die from influenza

Q: Can cats contract canine influenza?
A: Yes, but there has only been 1 documented case of it. Cats infected with canine influenza show signs of upper respiratory illness, such as runny nose, nasal congestion, lethargy, lip smacking, and excessive salivation. There is no vaccine currently.

Q: Can people contract canine influenza?
A: No

Q: What is the treatment for canine influenza?
– Isolation (quarantine) between 21 and 28 days, depending on the strain
– Antibiotics for secondary infection
– Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs for fever
– Fluids for hydration

Q: How long does canine influenza persist in the environment?
A: The canine influenza virus lasts 48 hours in the environment, 24 hours on clothing and12 hours on hands

Q: How do I clean if I or my home have been exposed to canine influenza?
A: A 1:30 dilution of bleach to water is effective against canine influenza. Wash hands, and change clothes if you come into contact with an infected dog.

Q: How is a dog tested for canine influenza?
A: A sample (throat swab) is sent to the lab for testing

Q: Is there a vaccine for canine influenza?
A: Yes! We carry the vaccine here – it is $27 per vaccine and needs to be boostered once in 3-4 weeks.