Clayton Veterinary Associates

If you’ve been to our office with your pet for an appointment with me, you’ve probably heard at least part of the hot versus cold debate. When thinking about things from a Chinese Medicine perspective, we always consider the “Yin” and “Yang” of the situation.  Yin means female, cool, dark, moist, down, slow.  Yang means male, hot, light, dry, up, fast.  All things in life should have a balance of Yin and Yang. (Yep, you guys need to get in touch with your feminine side!)


Many of the medical problems we see in pets and people are related to an imbalance of Yin and Yang. Think of the diabetic pet or owner who is thirsty all the time, can’t get enough to drink, and has to urinate a lot. They have a deficiency of Yin (not enough moisture!), so they drink to try to make up for it. Think of the dry, scaly, brittle coat – again a deficiency of Yin (not enough moisture; can also be a Blood Deficiency, as blood moisturizes the body).  Fatty tumors are more related to a Yang deficiency – too much moisture stuck in one place without enough warming energy to move it around and dissolve it.

How do you decide whether your pet has an excess or deficiency of Yin or Yang? There are lots of clues to help you decide. Look at the color of the tongue. If it is bright red or dark red, there is probably too much heat in the body. If the tongue is pale, swollen, or very wet, there is probably not enough heat in the body.  A yellow coating on the tongue indicates fever and heat (look at your tongue the next time you have a fever).  A lavender or purplish color to the tongue means there is stagnation of blood flow, indicating pain (think of a bruise – blood pooling in one spot).  You may not be able to tell where the pain is in the body, but you will at least know your pet has pain somewhere and needs to be treated.  Another clue is where the animal sleeps.  An animal that loves to sit in the sun, in front of the heat vent, or curled under blankets is probably cold and has a Yang deficiency.  Animals that pant a lot, drink a lot, love to be out in the snow, lie on cold tile floors or in front of the air conditioning vent are too hot (Yang excess or Yin deficiency) and need to be cooled.  Animals that are cold tend to be more sluggish, older, fatter, more laid back, and may have moist skin problems.  Hot animals tend to be more hyper, have a dry brittle coat, dry nose and foot pads that may be cracked, and may be more outgoing or aggressive or playful.

So how do we treat deficiencies or excesses of Yin and Yang? There are many ways. Medications actually will have a Yin or Yang energy. Herbs and foods can also be used to help correct the imbalances. Acupuncture points can “energize” Yin or Yang.  Simple fixes can be tried at home, using the correct food ingredients.

If you have an animal that is too cold (Yin excess or Yang deficiency) you need to feed things that will help to warm the body. Foods in this category include lamb, venison, chicken, oats, pumpkin, chicken and pork liver, and white rice.

If you have an animal that is too warm (Yang excess or Yin deficiency) you need to feed things that will help to cool the body.  Foods in this category include ocean fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, clams, tuna; duck, goose, beef liver, buffalo, pork, rabbit, apples, bananas, berries, melons, sweet potato, cucumber, romaine lettuce, summer squash, spinach, and brown rice.

Beef, chicken eggs, and beef liver tend to be neutral, so can be fed either way. These foods are good blood tonics for animals with pale tongues or dry coats.

You can choose to make your pet’s food using the ingredients above, or you can add these foods as supplements to the processed meal you feed.  Make sure to cut back on the canned or dry food if you are adding calories with the whole foods!  If you are not feeding any processed canned or dry food, make sure you add canine minerals to the diet so the calcium and phosphorous levels in the food are balanced.  When choosing a canned or dry food for your pet, choose one with ingredients to treat the energetics of the pet. For instance, a hot dry dog would do well on a herring and sweet potato diet.  A cold wet dog would benefit from a lamb and rice diet.

One of my favorite summer treats for old hot dogs is watermelon ginger ice cubes. Put watermelon chunks in your blender with some dried ginger sprinkled in. Blend and put in an ice cube tray. Feed the frozen cubes as treats.  They will cool your pet and the ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory for arthritis.

Have fun with food. These tricks work for yourself as well!

Scanlon’s Weight Loss Journey Continues

We are pleased to announce that Scanlon’s continual weight loss efforts have begun to pay off!  Scanlon came in today for his weekly weigh in, and read a whopping 102.6 pounds on the scale.  His owner has been doing a great job maintaining a very strict diet and has been making sure Scanlon gets plenty of exercise.

Scanlon’s current daily diet consists of 12 ounces of Stella and Chewy’s - 4 in the morning and 8 at night.  He is walked a minimum of two miles each day and rewarded with two healthy biscuits for his hard work! 

Dr. Morgan’s Musings: Management

When I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian, many moons ago, I never really thought about owning my own practice (or two). In veterinary school they taught us a ton about all the different species of animals, but there was never any mention of how to run a business. Hey, we all just wanted to help animals be healthy.

So, here I am, 27 years later, trying to run a business.  It was easy being a practice owner at first, because I was a minority partner and my partner handled all the business aspects of the practice. When I bought the entire practice in 2007, I had no clue what I was doing. I just paid the bills and tried to keep the staff and clients happy, having no idea there were so many government agencies, insurances of twenty different types, rules and regulations to follow, etc, etc, etc. By 2008, I realized I had no clue what I was doing from a business standpoint. Rude awakening.

As luck would have it, I was approached by a management consultant (do these guys have some inside track that tells them who needs help or do they just get lucky?). I was so shell-shocked at all the redtape involved with running the business, I figured I had better hire them. We still use the same consultants and they have helped us over lots of hurdles. I discovered I needed a new accountant, as well, when I found out how many different taxes and fees have to be paid to different governmental agencies. It sure is better to plan ahead than to be hit with a big bill and no way to take care of it.

So, two weekends ago, I decided to take Kathy (my Office Manager) to hear another business manager speak about running the perfect practice. We are always trying to improve our service and hoped he would have some new explosive piece of advice for us. Sadly, he didn’t have anything new that our first consultants had not already taught us. It was more a sales pitch for his incredibly expensive training in pain management for chiropractors. Now I see why he’s worth millions – charge people a ton of money to sit through lectures and follow that with another ton of money to learn his techniques through a ten-course series, each costing thousands, followed by advanced courses for thousands more. Unfortunately, these kinds of seminars occur way too often. Sort of reminded me of listening to a time share pitch (and how many of us got sucked into those?).

Anyway, what I did learn, is that our most important asset is our clients. We love our clients and want to take incredible care of them, and their pets. I am going to make a huge effort to really offer stellar service and the first thing we are going to tackle is waiting times. I realize everyone has too much to do and can’t afford to spend hours in our office. So next time you have to wait, let me know. Help us fix anything that bothers you. Help us to offer better service.

And, yes, we do want you to send your friends with their pets. Help us turn them on to a different kind of veterinary medicine, where it’s more about good food and good health, and less about pills and vaccinations and chemicals. 

 - Dr. Judy MorganDVM, Owner and Head Veterinarian at Clayton/Churchtown Vet

Scanlon’s Weight Loss Journey: Week 5 at Home

Scanlon stopped in for his weekly weigh-in. We are happy to announce that he’s shed another 1.5 pounds!

Frequent exercise has yielded great results for Scalon, but this week he also exhibited some soreness and limping. A jump in activity for an obese animal should be closely monitored by a veterinarian. Think of it like a human beginning a weight loss regiment. Unused muscles and joints are prone to soreness and injury. The difference is a human has control of his own pace, while a dog can’t tell you when he or she needs to stop or is in serious pain.

For very obese dogs, like Scanlon two months ago, try low impact exercises like walking or swimming. Gradually add more distance as your pet gets acclimated. 

If you have any more questions about weight loss and your pets, don’t hesitate to call or email our clinic!

Dr. Morgan checks Scanlon’s progress. Another positive week for the big guy!

Scanlon looks anxious as he gets weighed. No reason to worry Scanny, you’ll be able to fit in that harness soon!

Dr. Morgan’s Musings: “Cats and Dogs Hate Each Other”

While winging our way across the country on a Frontier airline jet with Kathy and Hue, I asked for suggestions for blog ideas. Hue said, tongue in cheek, “why dogs and cats hate each other”. Well, I want to know who started that rumor. In our house we have 7 dogs and 5 cats (and, no, that does not constitute hoarding; just an amazing love for the little creatures that are incredibly well cared for and rule the house). Anyway, there is definitely no hating going on in our house.   In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite.

As many folks know, we have been rescuing and fostering Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for the past 5 years. Along the way, quite a few have stayed with us, resulting in us owning 5 dogs. Add to that my son’s cocker spaniel that came with him when he moved in and we hit 6. Then there’s my daughter’s cavalier that moved in with us when she went off to college, and we have 7.  The cats started with two barn cats that came with me when I sold my farm.  One hates to be inside and she spends most of her time outside or in the garage curled on soft blankets.  Last summer we raised two orphan kitten litters from birth and failed to find homes for all of them, resulting in three kittens staying permanently, bringing us to 5 cats.

The best thing about raising 3 kittens with 5 spaniels is that they don’t know they are cats. They were raised with spaniels, and they think they are spaniels. We have renamed them “spats”, as in spaniel cats. They like to eat with the dogs and love the dogs’ raw meat food. They sleep curled up with the dogs in the dog crates and dog beds. They run in and out of the house with the pack of spaniels. They line up at the fence and peer out to see who is coming up the driveway. They play fetch and chase with the dogs, sometimes with the cats in front and sometimes with the cats chasing the dogs.

But the best is the odd couple of George and Eggplant. Eggie is MADLY in love with George. She follows him everywhere, sleeps on him, grooms him, kneads his back, and acts like an adoring girl in the shadow of a rockstar. George puts on the “poor me” face, but seems to enjoy every minute of it.

So don’t believe the old rumor of cats and dogs not getting along. In reality, they may be best friends.

 - Dr. Judy MorganDVM, Owner and Head Veterinarian at Clayton/Churchtown Vet

Dr. Morgan’s Musings: Pet Rescue

I was following a feed on Facebook the other day where some friends were complaining that is so expensive to get a pet from a rescue and they couldn’t understand how the rescue organizations could charge so much. They seemed to feel the rescue centers should be paying them to adopt the pets and give them a good home. So, it seems to me, there is some misunderstanding out there.

Let’s look at the purchase of a purebred dog from a breeder or pet store. I’ll use Cavalier Spaniels as an example, since I am familiar with the breed. If you want to purchase a cavalier from a reputable breeder, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1500 to $3000. If you decide to purchase from a pet store, you will pay anywhere from $700 to $1200. If you decide to bypass the pet store and go directly to the puppy mill to buy a puppy, you may be able to get one for $500 or less. Once you own the puppy, you have only just begun. There’s the series of puppy vaccinations, deworming, heartworm testing and prevention, spay or neuter, and treatment for any defects like skin disease, hernias, dental care,  luxating patellas (bad knees, common in the breed), heart certification (bad hearts, common in the breed). Total up all that, and you have easily spent another $1000 to $2000.

On the other hand, you look up a cavalier rescue organization on the internet and find out it will cost $500 to rescue a dog. You probably won’t be able to get a puppy through a rescue, but you will get a dog that has been spayed or neutered, is up to date on vaccines, laboratory testing, heartworm and fecal testing, is free of parasites, has had dental care, and any heart or knee problems have been discovered and treated if possible. AND, you get to feel great because you gave a home to a dog someone else couldn’t keep or didn’t want.

BUT, make sure you are adopting through a good rescue organization. I recently treated a Dachshund that came through a “rescue” for $300. The dog was supposed to be young and in good health. He was actually over 10 years old, in heart failure, and had rotten decaying teeth. Many dogs are being brought up from the south and are carrying heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites.

Most good rescue organizations spend a lot more on the care of the pets than they charge for the adoption fee. They rely heavily on donations and fundraising activities. I adopted my first spaniel for $400 and they gave me medical records showing over $2,000 spent on medical care to save her life. I think I got a bargain, and a best friend for life.

Do your research. Find a good rescue organization. Donate your time or money to help where you can. Adopt if you can. Support spay and neuter. And if you must buy from a breeder, make sure they are reputable. Don’t believe a glossy website. Go meet them in person. Meet the parents of the puppy and evaluate their temperament and health. Make sure the puppy is free of any defects or potentially longterm health problems.  Once you get them, have them seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

 - Dr. Judy MorganDVM, Owner and Head Veterinarian at Clayton/Churchtown Vet


The vets we talked to have quite a lot they want to tell you — from dos and don’ts pet owners should know, to common pet myths, to new ways to care for your furry friend.


The vets we talked to have quite a lot they want to tell you — from dos and don’ts pet owners should know, to common pet myths, to new ways to care for your furry friend.

Scanlon Update: The First Month At Home

This past summer, Dr. Morgan took in an overweight seeing eye dog with hopes of getting him into shape. Scanlon, a Labrador retriever, was so large that he couldn’t fit into his working harness. Over the course of 9 weeks, Dr. Morgan got him to drop 14 pounds with the help of a raw, balanced diet and plenty of exercise.

But there was still much to be done. Scanlon needed to lose at least 40 pounds to be able to resume his job as a seeing eye dog for his human companion.

We are happy to report that Scanlon continues to make progress. In the course of a month, the big guy has dropped another 4.4 pounds; bringing his total to 18.8 pounds!

Scanlon’s owners have elicited the help of friends and neighbors to get him walked everyday. For their part, Dr. Morgan is offering to donate a healthy diet of Stella and Chewy’s Raw Food as long as Scanlon keeps shedding the pounds. 

After four weigh-ins since going home, Scanlon has yet to gain any weight! 

Scanlon, his owner and Dr. Morgan.

Scanlon’s owner and Dr. Morgan discuss his weight loss progress.

Looking good Scanlon!

Every time I take pictures of Scanlon, I capture him doing this at least once!

He’s come a long ways, but there is still work to be done!

Dr. Morgan’s Musings: A Day in the Life

Some time ago, a client approached me and told me he heard it was impossible to get an appointment with me because I only worked one day a week.  I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, cry, or scream. You see, it may seem that I am never available, if you need me right at that moment. The real truth, however, is that a normal work week for me spans a minimum of 50 to 60 hours or more. The week starts around 7:00 am on Monday, ending around 4 pm on Friday, with a weekend event thrown in for good measure.

So, I thought I’d discuss a typical day. Thursdays are always a big day, so we’ll use that schedule.

I awake to 6 barking, scratching, restless spaniels moving around the bed and licking my face to get me up around 6 am.  Scrambling to jump up and get them down the stairs without any accidents along the way (you know, urine, poo, me or Hue falling down the stairs in our dementia), we chase 4 cats down the stairs as we head for the back door and flip on the outside lights. If it’s raining, we have to push everyone out the door. Otherwise, it’s a stampede. I feed cats while Hue makes coffee, the gift from the gods. Then back upstairs for the morning ritual, back down to feed the starving herd. If we can spare the time, we take a 3 or 4 mile walk, but that’s an added bonus.

Then it’s off to the office to check email, read the mail, and check on any lab work or messages that came in overnight. At 8 am, the doctors meet to discuss cases, new protocols, and issues that have come up. By 9:00, the first patients are waiting in exam rooms. The technicians are busy admitting patients for surgery later in the day and the receptionist is manning three phone lines single-handedly, while welcoming clients as they arrive. Two doctors start seeing appointments and work diligently for the next 3 to 4 hours, handling a new case every 20 minutes. While seeing appointments, the doctors also have to approve any medication requests, answer any phone questions presented by the staff, and handle any emergencies that may come in unexpectedly.

By 1:00, the patients awaiting surgery have finished their pre-op preparations like EKG’s, IV catheters and fluids, pre-op blood work, and anesthetic calculations. Surgery cases become priority for the next few hours, but there are still prescriptions to fill, emergencies to handle, and clients to call. Surgeries may be routine or complicated, but each is handled like one of our own pets.

By 3:00, the afternoon outpatient appointments begin to arrive. Again, the staff works hard, trying to stay on schedule until appointments end at 7:00. But who can predict the dog hit by a car, the broken leg that needs x-rays and splinting, the dog that ate all the Halloween candy, or the cat with pneumonia? Anything out of the ordinary takes more time and we get behind. Usually, by 8:00, the last client has left the building. The doctors gather charts, notes, and lab reports, and try to find a spot to get things organized. Receptionists close out the books, and the technicians start the long cleaning process. By 9:00, the job is done, the building is clean, and we all head out, vowing to return in 10 short hours.

You might have noticed, I didn’t mention lunch. We used to have a lunchroom with a table, but it never got used. If we are lucky, we have sandwiches delivered and eat while working. Otherwise, I’m REALLY happy to get home at 9:30, where Hue usually has a phenomenal meal ready, with my much desired martini. And 6 spaniels full of hugs and kisses.

   - Dr. Judy MorganDVM, Owner and Head Veterinarian at Clayton/Churchtown Vet

David Reed was shocked to discover Snowy the West Highland Terrier had  eaten five ceramic cats with the largest measuring 5cm tall. Vets made  the incredible discovery after the poorly one-year-old pup was sick and  stopped eating. “It is a rather unusual case and one of the most unusual  X-rays I’ve ever seen.

David Reed was shocked to discover Snowy the West Highland Terrier had eaten five ceramic cats with the largest measuring 5cm tall. Vets made the incredible discovery after the poorly one-year-old pup was sick and stopped eating. “It is a rather unusual case and one of the most unusual X-rays I’ve ever seen.