Don’t Let Parasites Hide in a Negative Exam

Not long ago, Emily, our exam assistant, adopted a dog named Cocoa from the Humane Society of West Michigan. While at the shelter, Cocoa had been diagnosed with Giardia, a zoonotic parasite—meaning it’s transferable from animals to humans.

Once she was home, Cocoa received prescriptions for Panacur and Metronidazole and was treated with antibiotics. To keep the Giardia from spreading to humans, Emily did sanitation at home—washing everything and making sure to pick up and dispose of Cocoa’s stool immediately.

When they went into the vet for a reevaluation of Cocoa’s stool, Emily was surprised to find that the stool had tested positive for Coccidia, another zoonotic parasite completely unrelated to the Giardia. With this knowledge, Emily was able to start Cocoa’s treatment for Coccidia.

This story shows the importance of reevaluation when it comes to parasites. After a positive fecal test (meaning the stool contains some sort of parasite), it’s recommended to test stool again every 3–4 weeks until two concurrent samples have been shown to not contain parasites.

One negative fecal exam does not guarantee the pet is parasite-free. Parasite life cycles have several stages, including one where eggs are visibly shed into the intestines. Testing stool during a stage when the parasite is not shedding eggs can lead to a false negative. Waiting the 3–4 weeks before testing again allows young parasites to mature and shed eggs so that they may be detected in the sample.

For Cocoa’s health and for the health of her humans, they will continue to test Cocoa’s stool until they get two negatives in a row and can have confidence that she is free from parasites!

Leptospirosis: A Danger to Pets & People

There are very few diseases you can get directly from your pet, but one of them is especially easy to contract: leptospirosis, a highly contagious illness spread through the urine of infected wildlife.

Dogs don’t even need to make contact with wildlife to get the disease. Drinking water from puddles or streams or ingesting dirt that’s contaminated with the urine of common backyard animals like squirrels, raccoons, and foxes is enough to make your dog very sick. You should also know that “lepto” is zoonotic—meaning it can be easily transmitted to people.
Our own Dr. Holly Mincks has first-hand experience with leptospirosis, though it took a while to diagnose. While attending veterinary school in St. Kitts, she adopted her dog Calixte, who dribbled urine—but even after diagnostic tests, no one could figure out the cause. Calixte was put on medication to manage the problem, but even after two years, the drugs didn’t resolve the dribbling completely.

Leptospirosis wasn’t even on the radar because it was thought the disease didn’t exist on St. Kitts. It wasn’t until Dr. Mincks heard a professor lecturing on leptospirosis that she was made aware that in fact, the local bat population carried the disease, so it was present in the water on and around the island.
Calixte was tested for lepto and he came up positive—he’d been a “subclinical carrier” for years, but showing no symptoms except for the dribbling, which was unusual. Calixte responded well to treatment and Dr. Mincks now enjoys spending as much time as possible with her ‘main man!’

Symptoms for both dogs and humans are similar and can include:

• Fever
• Shivering
• Muscle tenderness
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Dehydration
• Lethargy
• Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
• Abdominal pain
• Changes in urination

Lepto can also lead to kidney failure and eventual death. The good news is that, caught early, the disease is typically responsive to antibiotics and has a survival rate of about 80%.

Leptospirosis is preventable with an annual vaccine available here at Eastown Veterinary Clinic. We want your pet and your family to be protected! Schedule an appointment online or call us at (616) 649-1075 for more information.

Parasite Surprise: Oakley’s Story

Oakley’s Story

When it comes to parasites, most pet owners are familiar with fleas and ticks. But there are many other parasites that threaten the health of dogs and cats, and some may not even show symptoms!

Danielle Hirka brought her 9-year-old Australian Shepherd, Oakley, to EVC for his regular exam on February 2nd. As usual, she brought along a fecal sample for analysis.

While Oakley’s physical exam was normal, his fecal analysis was not. Oakley had roundworms. While roundworms are common intestinal parasites in puppies, it is rare to find them in adult dogs.

Roundworms can be spread in several ways: from mother to her puppies, through contact with infected feces, or through the consumption of a rodent infested with roundworms. While roundworms can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and a pot-bellied appearance, many times infected dogs and cats do not display symptoms. However, owners are often horrified when their dog or cat either vomits up the live worms, which can be several inches long, or passes them in their stool.

Roundworm eggs under a microscope


In rare cases, roundworms can cause coughing if the worms migrate to the lungs. Oakley had, in fact, developed a cough. Along with the presence of blood in his stool once, these symptoms are what had convinced Danielle to bring Oakley to EVC.

“We still aren’t sure [if the cough is related], but it seemed to appear right around the same time as the stool issue,” she says. “Both of these changes brought it to our attention that we needed to get him checked out.”

The diagnosis surprised Danielle, who says Oakley has never had intestinal parasites before. “I had taken him to another vet and they did not catch this, so as shocked as I was, I’m glad we caught it.”

As with many intestinal parasites, roundworms can also present hazards to humans. Continue Reading

From Scaredy-Cat to Miss Congeniality: dental work brings out cat’s inner love-bug

Perhaps the biggest challenge veterinarians face is the fact their patients can’t speak for themselves. While it can be clear that a pet is acting strangely, figuring out why can be difficult.

Season Gilliam said she adopted her cat, Greycie May, over 11 years ago. “She was born a stray underneath a neighbor’s car and I took her in when she was probably 3-6 months old,” Season said. And by “taking her in,” Season said she means she lured her into her home with food until she could close the door behind her. “She is the epitome of a scaredy cat,” she said. “From the day I met her she wouldn’t let anyone near her. No petting, no cuddling, no holding. This is how it has been for the last 11 years.”

Greycie May hiding in a corner

Greycie May hiding in a corner

As many cats tend to be more skittish, Season didn’t think much of Greycie’s behavior. She continued to eat, drink and act like her normal self throughout the years, making it appear there was nothing to be concerned about. Season became a client at Eastown Veterinary Clinic in 2016. At that time, doctors noted that Greycie May was missing several teeth.

“Before coming to Eastown, I don’t recall ever hearing about any issues with Greycie’s teeth,” she said. “If it was mentioned, I’m sure it went in one ear and out the other because I never thought dental care for animals was a thing.”

Despite missing teeth, Greycie May continued to eat and drink normally, and her behavior never changed.

Season’s view of pet dental care changed in October, when she brought Greycie May to EVC because she noticed a broken canine tooth. “With further examination, that tooth, and others, were abscessing,” she said. “I was shocked and nervous.”Despite Greycie May likely being in significant pain, she displayed very few signs of discomfort. This is a common occurrence among animals, making regular veterinary exams that much more important. Greycie May was going to need the abscessed teeth extracted, and several others were questionable. Season said the cost of having the dental procedure done paled in comparison to what could happen if she was to wait. “I knew if I didn’t get it taken care of, it could get much worse, more expensive, and I had no idea if she was in pain,” she said.

Greycie May’s mouth prior to the dental procedure. Note the inflammation of the bone near the upper canine, tooth resorption on the lower molar and heavy tartar on the upper molar.

Greycie May’s mouth prior to the dental procedure. Note the inflammation of the bone near the upper canine, tooth resorption on the lower molar and heavy tartar on the upper molar.

Season brought Greycie home after her procedure, and almost instantly noticed a change in Greycie May’s behavior. Even after having extensive dental work done, Greycie seemed more comfortable than she had ever been.

“At first I thought it was temporary because of the medicine, but in the months since the surgery, she has been more and more affectionate and social!” she said. “She is still a little skittish, but she actually lets me walk up to her and pet her. She comes up to me to get attention.”

Season said that for the first time in 11 years, Greycie May actually let her hold her!

A once skittish cat, Greycie May now gives head rubs to her mom, Season

A once skittish cat, Greycie May now gives head rubs to her mom, Season

“Sadly, what I think this means is that she was living with pain in her mouth all these years,” she said. “She was always a scaredy cat and I never thought that could be her way of dealing with pain.” Season said she is now an advocate of pet dental care, and recommends that everyone keep up on their pet’s dental exams and cleanings.

“I think taking Greycie in for a cleaning years ago would have revealed the seriousness of her problem,” she said. “And I’ll add that it’s hard to know definitively if your pet is in pain. They can’t tell us and it doesn’t always show in their behavior so really keep this in mind if you ever have to consider getting dental work done for your pet.”

Season said she is thankful for Dr. Tittle and the staff at Eastown. “What started as something we needed to do to keep her healthy became something that completely changed her life and our relationship together,” she said. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and Eastown Veterinary Clinic is offering big savings on dental cleanings! Call us today at (616) 451-1810 to schedule an exam or for more information!

EVC Client shows off baking skills on Netflix show!

At EVC, we know all of our clients are amazing people. But we are continually impressed when we hear of the wonderful things they have achieved!

Tanya Eby has been bringing her dogs, Reggie and Pepper, to Eastown Veterinary Clinic for several years.



“Eastown Vet does a great job of helping us keep them healthy, and we’re really grateful,” Tanya said.

Tanya is a talented writer and audiobook narrator, who also owns Blunder Woman Productions, an indie audiobook publishing company.

But her feats in the kitchen brought her added celebrity, when she appeared on the Netflix series “Nailed It!” The show features struggling bakers facing immensely-challenging cake designs. The results, of course, are hysterical.

Tanya said the idea for applying for the show actually came from her kids.

“My kids and I watched the first season of “Nailed It” and they jokingly said I should apply for it, since it’s for people who aren’t the best at baking,” Tanya said. “I love baking things, and do it just for fun. My son is becoming quite the pastry chef, and my daughter is amazing at decorating. When I make something, they tell me “Good job!” in the same tone that I used to complement their macaroni creations from school. It’s fun when your kids are better at something than you are.”

Tanya applied for the show, filmed baking videos and did casting interviews. She said she was shocked when she was cast for the show.

Tanya flew to Burbank for the show, and said actually being on the show was one of the best experiences she has ever had.

Tanya, during her appearance on “Nailed It!”

“My co-contestants, Lily Orn and Brian Cookstra, were terrific, and we sort of all decided to support each other before filming,” she said. “It was super high stress, exhausting, and a whirlwind. It was also hilarious. And the judges…they’re terrifically funny people.”

Tanya’s challenges included making a fondant animal and baking a cake featuring fondant penguins skiing down a giant mountain.

While her results were hilariously far from the prototype, she did well enough to actually win the episode.

“Humor is so important. It soothes, supports, and somehow magically connects us,” she said. “And it helps to be able to laugh at yourself, especially when you fail so beautifully at something.”

While Tanya will continue to be successful as a writer and narrator, she doesn’t anticipate appearing on any more cooking or baking shows.

“I don’t think they’d let me near Top Chef, unless it was to hold a cue card,” she joked.

To learn more about Tanya Eby, visit her Facebook page at