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.

Eastown Open House Celebrates Expansion, Launching of Fear Free!

Eastown Veterinary Clinic celebrated the official ribbon cutting for its renovated and expanded facility on July 19! The ribbon-cutting ceremony was officiated by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and was followed by a speech by EVC owner Dr. Lynn Happel.

“I want to thank our clients for their patience as we asked them to come to different doors throughout the process,” Dr. Happel said. “And for the noise and the dust, everyone was a real trooper.”

The event featured food by EA Brady’s, music by blues band James Reeser and the Backseat Drivers, ice cream, popcorn and more! About 100 people attended the event, which also gave guests the opportunity to tour the facility, which has undergone major changes during the past year.

The existing building saw an increase in exam rooms from three to five along with improvements to the lobby. A 5,340-foot expansion allowed for the increase in dental and surgical space, as well as a larger treatment area. Additional updates included:

• An intensive care unit was added, as well as a cat ward and a larger isolation unit.

• The canine ward was moved and redesigned, and now has five large runs in addition to several smaller cages.

• The grooming area was moved to the building expansion, and now contains cages specifically for grooming patients.

These additions provided much-needed space for offices for doctors, as well as a conference room to be used for staff breaks and training sessions. The conference room also offers a large space for free client seminars held regularly at EVC.

Besides providing extra space, the addition allowed for separate dog and cat entrances, helping to reduce stress in our patients who may not be fans of the opposite species. The cat entrance leads to a cat-only lobby and four cat-friendly rooms featuring windows, heated tables and comfortable fleece table covers. All of these features help keep kitties comfortable during frequently stressful exams.

Clients bringing dogs or a combination of dogs AND cats for appointments will utilize the dog entrance, which leads to a large lobby and the dog-friendly exam rooms. Besides the three existing exam rooms, the dog side now has a larger exam room for our big dogs, and also has a comfortable consultation room, which offers privacy for sensitive appointments such as euthanasia or detailed discussions with doctors.

The completion of construction wasn’t the only focus of the event, as EVC announced that all employees beyond the training period are now Fear Free Certified!

The Fear Free movement was started by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and encompasses implementing techniques designed to reduce fear, anxiety and stress (FAS) in patients.

Reduced-stress handling, the incorporation of pheromones proven to reduce stress in pets, the use of tasty treats as distraction and encouragement and tailoring of appointments to the pet’s individual emotional needs all help to make the appointment less intimidating for the pet. The entire staff at EVC participated in a thorough seven-part training program and was required to pass a test at the end of each part in order to be certified.

The staff at EVC looks forward to seeing you and your pet in the expanded clinic and are excited to see how Fear Free techniques will make your pet’s experience at Eastown even better!

Learn more about Fear Free Certification here.

The Importance of Preventative Care—Grom’s Story


The following blog post was written by Eastown Veterinary Clinic client Laura Traxler. Laura’s cat, Grom, was diagnosed with several serious conditions at the age of seven. Thanks to treatment of his illnesses and continued wellness care to monitor him closely, Grom is doing great now! Read about Grom’s courageous battle against illness, and how wellness and preventative care will play a vital role in keeping him healthy!

We moved to Grand Rapids in 2014. It didn’t take long before I heard rave reviews about Eastown Veterinary Clinic. I saw Dr. Happel accept the Woman Owned Business Epic award at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and said to myself, “If I ever need a vet, that’s where I’ll go.” The fact that I thought, “IF I need a vet” seems funny now. I treated all veterinary clinics as emergency clinics as opposed to preventative care. I believe that mindset is common and some of us treat our own health the same way—Google it, try everything that makes sense and if it doesn’t work then you will call a doctor.

The problem with that mindset, as it relates to pets, is that they cannot tell you when they don’t feel well or if home remedies aren’t working. When we treat ourselves with cold medicine, we know if we are feeling better. When we treat our pets at home with remedies that may or may not be working, we are putting our animals at risk for life-threatening illness. This is the story of how I learned that preventative care is a necessary piece of pet ownership.

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