Thursday, December 29, 2011

There's an App for That!

Last year Merial launched the Heartguard dose reminder app. Due to the success of the application, Merial is introducing the same app for Android users and an updated app for the iPhone. The updated features allow pet owners to set individual reminders for each dog, share accounts between phones, use the phone's camera to assign pictures to reminders, and add custom dog barks. In addition, the app will tell you how much you have remaining on your current prescription (or heartworm medication) and prompt you to contact your vet when you need more. When it's time for your dog's medication, his or her picture will pop up and bark to remind you. And the best part? The app is free! It's a fun and easy way to remember your pets medications and doses. The Android version can be downloaded via the Android Market online or on the phone, the iPhone version can be downloaded through iTunes for the App store on your smartphone. Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Plant Hazards

December has come upon us fast, and with it comes all those wonderful holiday decorations. While they make our home pretty and festive, they may also be a temptation to our four legged family members! Cats will climb the Christmas tree and chew the branches, dogs will eat the tinsel and garland. Gastro-Intestinal obstruction is a fairly common occurrence here at VACC, but so is toxicity. There are three very popular holiday plants that, when ingested, are quite toxic to dogs and cats.

Peace Lillies are a lovely plant and a favorite around the holiday season. Unfortunately, they can cause a lot of problems if eaten by your pet. The most common symptoms are GI related symptoms. Peace lillies cause significant swelling of the oral tissues and intestines. Most often we will see excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. In rare cases tongue swelling, trouble swallowing, and difficulty breathing may also occur. Sometimes they may also cause acute kidney failure in cats. Treatment will depend on the severity of the reaction and ingestion, but your pet may need to be hospitalized on intravenous fluids and monitored for any signs of respiratory distress.

English holly, also known as Christmas holly, is another festive holiday plant that is toxic when ingested. Like the peace lily, clinical signs include excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. However in rare cases with holly if the berries are ingested seizures or tremors may be seen.

Mistletoe may be a fun Christmas tradition with your sweetheart, but it should be kept high and out of pets reach. Also causing gastro-intestinal upset, mistletoe when ingested can lead to a drop in blood pressure and low heart rate. Depending on the amount ingested and the severity of the reaction, pets will need to be treated for dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. In very severe cases seizure, coma, and death can occur.

If you know or even suspect that your pet has ingested a potentially toxic plant call poison control immediately, followed by your veterinarian. The pet poison helpline number is 1-800-213-6680. If you have any further questions about toxic plants, the ASPCA website,, is a valuable resource of information!

Happy Holidays to you, your family, and of course your pets from all of us here Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Flu Fever

The holiday season has brought with it an influx of patients getting the Canine Influenza vaccine. Now that most boarding kennels are requiring it, dog owners are rushing to get their pets up to date, but many don't know much about the disease.

Canine influenza is a newly emerging infectious disease caused by a flu virus. The strain is known as H3N8 and it is highly contagious between dogs. It is spread the same way as the human flu; direct contact, sneezing or coughing, or through contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of canine influenza include persist ant cough, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, and loss of appetite. In about 20% of dogs more serious signs may occur like high-grade fever and pneumonia, however most dogs will only get a mild form of the disease.

Diagnosing canine influenza can be difficult because it has similar symptoms of other diseases such as kennel cough. Owners don't usually suspect the disease until the symptoms become severe or last an unusually long time. Like most viruses, canine influenza should eventually run it's course. Some dogs may need the help of intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated or may develop secondary infections and need antibiotics. Whatever you do, do not use human medications in your dog unless directed by your veterinarian.

The best way to avoid canine influenza is to get your dog vaccinated. The first vaccine should be boostered within three to four weeks, followed by an annual revaccination. If you have any further questions, your veterinarian is the best person to answer them, however you can also check out this website, Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (although a day late), this blog will be dedicated to a few of the many reasons to be thankful for our pets. Pet ownership is a challenge in the beginning, often unexpected. Puppies and kittens will tear through the house leaving a path of destruction in their wake, but when the dust settles, the love that they give you in the years to come is worth more than any carpet, any favorite shoe, any glass vase, or anything and everything else you may have lost to their innocent, playful ways.

10 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Pet

  1. Drop your dinner on the floor? At least you don't need to clean it up. Rest assured that every last drop or crumb will be taken care of.

  2. Just in case you didn't hear it, a dog will always let you know when someone is at the door.

  3. Even when you're by yourself, you are never alone. No matter how you look, or what you're mood, all they care about is being with you.

  4. Any piece of paper, string, or sock can be a toy. If it's small and it's within reach, it's likely to be batted around or pounced on.

  5. Pets will never waste an opportunity to enjoy life. If there's even a chance for a walk, to eat, to play, or to sleep, they will go after it with gusto.

  6. Pets will forever inspire forgiveness. Despite all the trips to the vet, the baths, the nail trims, the punishments, they will still treat you with love and devotion.

  7. Pet's lower your blood pressure! It's true! Just ask the CDC...

  8. Pets will greet you like they haven't seen you in twenty years, even if it's only been twenty minutes.

  9. Pets can sense our emotions. If you are excited, they are excited, if you are sad, they try to comfort you.

  10. Pets just make us better people. Like the saying goes, "I aspire to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am." So True.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your furry family members.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pancreatitis And Your Pet

The Pancreas is a small but very important organ responsible for producing enzymes that help with food digestion as well as hormones such as insulin. Normally, digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas are activated when they reach the small intestine. Sometimes those enzymes are activated pre-maturely in the pancreas, resulting in inflammation and a disorder called pancreatitis.

The exact cause of pancreatitis is not known. In dogs, it is often associated with eating a rich, fatty meal or administration of corticosteroids, however these associations have not been found with cats.

Clinical signs of pancreatitis include nausea and vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea. However, these clinical manifestations can also be associated with other diseases. This is why it's important to do blood work and x-rays or ultrasound to ensure a proper diagnosis of pancreatitis.

To successfully treat pancreatitis depends most on early diagnosis and medical treatment. It's important to "rest" the pancreas from it's role in digestion by withholding oral fluids and food. Your pet will need to be hospitalized on intravenous fluids to maintain a normal fluid level and electrolyte balance; they will also need to receive pain medication by injection because it is a very painful condition. Most pets with pancreatitis are hospitalized for two to four days and food is gradually re-introduced.

Generally patients suffering from acute pancreatitis will make a full recovery with no long term effects. However, it is important to note what can happen if your dog or cat goes too long without receiving medical treatment.

Sometimes if a significant number of cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed, a lack of proper food digestion may follow. This is known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and can be treated with daily administration of enzyme replacement. If a significant number of cells that produce insulin are destroyed, diabetes mellitus can result. A few dogs that recover from acute pancreatitis may continue to have recurrent bouts of the disease called chronic relapsing pancreatitis. The result of this chronic inflammation allows digestive enzymes to spill into the abdominal cavity causing secondary damage to the liver, gall bladder, bile ducts, and intestines. In severe cases, untreated pancreatitis will result in shock, depression, and even death. However these cases are rare because most people seek treatment before their pet gets to this point.

Prevention of pancreatitis is not entirely possible given we don't know it's exact cause. In dogs you can at least reduce their odds of getting pancreatitis by not feeding them human food or really fatty rich foods. It is important to keep this in mind especially with Thanksgiving just around the corner. Our four legged friends will be sure to hide under the table for as many scraps as they can get. Feeding them in that moment may be satisfying, but the long term risk may not be worth it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Declawing Your Cat

Declawing is a surgical procedure performed on cats in which the toenail and portion of bone from which the toenail grows is removed. The most important thing to understand about declawing is how it will affect your cat and how to care for him or her if they are declawed. Declawing is essentially an amputation, five toes on each front limb, therefore appropriate pain management must be used. Often your cat may need to stay overnight for more than one night to ensure that he or she stays quiet and continues to receive regular pain medication.

Here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, declaws are performed with a surgical laser. The laser works by producing a small but very strong beam of light that works by vaporizing tissue. It seals off nerve endings significantly reducing pain, as well as blood vessels and lymphatics reducing bleeding and swelling. The sanitizing affect of the laser beam also reduces the risk for infection. If you are thinking about declawing your cat, laser surgery is strongly recommended. Even with the laser, your cat should still go home with antibiotics and pain medication for a week or or more following surgery. Special kitty litter, or shredded newspaper, must be used at least one week post operatively in place of your regular kitty litter. Regular litter can stick to your cats paws and get imbedded in their incision increasing their risk for infection.

A cat that is declawed must remain an indoor cat for the rest of it's life. When you remove a cat's claws they lose one of their main lines of defense. Cats use their claws not just for scratching but climbing and gripping as well. Without their claws cats will have very little to protect themselves against all of the predators that live outdoors. There is speculation that cats without claws may bite more than cats who have claws. It could be that cats bite more because they are declawed, or that cats are declawed because they are aggressive, we aren't sure what the exact correlation is. However, cats who are declawed are much easier to find homes for. Homeowners and landlords prefer a cat who is not going to damage their home by scratching. There are so many great cats that need homes currently living in shelters. If being declawed means they can find a home, many people feel declawing is worth it.

If you're thinking about declawing your cat, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you come up with a plan to properly care for your cat, declawed or not. If your veterinarian does not have a surgical laser, we are happy to take referrals here at VACC. Simply give us a call at 508-394-3566.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick or Treat! - Biscuits Only Please

Most people already know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, however with Halloween just around the corner, the temptation for our canine friends to nose through the candy bowls and trick or treat bags may be too much to resist. Here are a few important things to understand about chocolate and your dog.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains an alkaloid called theobromine. This alkaloid is similar to caffeine and can act as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and smooth muscle relaxant. While chocolate ingestion is rarely fatal, it can cause significant illness due to the theobromine. The amount of toxic theobromine in chocolate depends on the type of chocolate. Cooking or Baking chocolate along with high quality dark chocolate contain much more theobromine per gram versus regular milk chocolate.

For example, a small dog weighing five pounds would only have to eat 2 ounces of baking chocolate to become ill, whereas a big dog weighing fifty pounds would have to eat 20 ounces. For milk chocolate, a five pound dog would need to eat fifteen ounces and a fifty pound dog would have to eat 40 ounces.

Even if you think your dog only ate a small amount of chocolate it's still very important to have them seen by a veterinarian right away. The sooner the doctor sees your dog, the sooner they can induce vomiting and the less likely your dog is to feel any toxic effects. Clinical signs from chocolate toxicity can take up to 12 hours to develop, so even if your dog seems fine a few hours later, he or she may not be out of the woods yet. Once the theobromine is absorbed into the body it can remain for up to 24 hours causing damage. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, panting or restlessness, muscle spasms and occasionally seizures. In older dogs with a preexisting heart condition, consuming large amounts of chocolate can result in cardiac arrest.

Treatment for chocolate toxicity is based on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. If treated early, your veterinarian can induce vomiting and that may be all that is necessary. Often they will administer activated charcoal to block the absorption of the theobromine. Intravenous fluids may also be given to help dilute and promote excretion of the theobromine. All dogs who have ingested chocolate should be closely monitored for the first 24 hours for any signs of an irregular heart rhythm.

Households with children may find it especially challenging to keep their dogs from getting into the Halloween candy. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, no matter what amount, you should always have him or her seen right away. Inducing vomiting early on is far easier on you and your dog than having to deal with the complications that may occur from chocolate toxicity. Halloween should be a safe and fun time for everyone, and the staff here at VACC would like to wish you all a very Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oral Education

When it comes to our patients teeth, we have a wide variety of responses from clients. There are some people who have never even looked at their cat or dog's teeth, some people who are very diligent about dental care, and some that are anywhere in between. Just like in people, we are discovering that good dental care is important to the health and happiness of your pet.

Believe it or not the most common canine disease is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease occurs when an accumulation of tartar and calculus build up on the tooth causing the surrounding tissue to become inflamed. This contributes to gum recession, exposing sensitive, unprotected tooth surfaces. If this goes untreated, the infection will eventually spread to the tooth socket causing it to become loose and fall out. Sometimes the infection can be so bad that it will cause an abscess to form. Tooth root abscesses are painful and often times are associated with a fever and lethargy. They must be drained and the tooth must be extracted in order to treat an abscess.

While loose teeth and tooth root abscesses can happen in cats, they also have their own special tooth problem called a Feline Oral Resorbtive Lesion (FORL). This occurs when certain cells responsible for normal tooth formation actually start reabsorbing the tooth itself. FORL's can be very painful, especially in advanced cases. Treatment usually involves amputating the crown of the tooth and allowing the root to be reabsorbed completely on it's own.

Prevention of tartar and calculus is tricky. The best way to prevent tartar build up is to brush your pets teeth, and there are a few important things to note. First and foremost is the toothbrush. Many pet stores and veterinary clinics sell pet toothbrushes, all of which may work fine depending on your pet. One option many of our clients prefer is the finger brush. It's a small brush that fits over your finger and allows easier access to the back teeth. If, for whatever reason, you decide not to use a finger brush you can use a regular human toothbrush, just make SURE that it is a soft bristle brush.

When choosing a toothpaste, make sure you get an enzymatic toothpaste that is OK if swallowed. Any good pet toothpaste will advertise this on their label. Do NOT use human toothpaste as it is not intended to be ingested and also contains sodium, which may cause problems in some pets.

Having said this, you might find that your pet has no interest in having their teeth brushed. If that is the case you will need to consult with your veterinarian on scheduling a regular periodontal procedure. How often your pet's teeth are cleaned will depend on how dirty they get. Some patients may need to have their teeth cleaned every year, while others may go two, three, or even five years without needing a dental procedure. We don't know why some pets have chronic teeth problems and some seem to have none at all. Genetics is considered a contributing factor to chronic periodontal disease, but there may be other factors that we just haven't discovered yet.

For all dental procedures, patients must be anesthetized. No cat or dog, no matter how good they are, will simply lay on a table and allow their teeth to be scaled, probed, and extracted without sedation. In older pets, blood work should be performed to check the liver and kidney values as well as a complete blood count. While undergoing a dental procedure, the veterinarian may discover a tooth that looks like it might have a rotten root, but he or she can't be sure. In this case the doctor will take a dental x-ray determine the integrity of the tooth's root or roots. If the roots look OK on x-ray, he or she will most likely inject an antibiotic gel into the area surrounding the tooth. This will help to slow the tooth decay. If the roots do not look good, the doctor will then go ahead and do an extraction. Pain medication is administered for any extraction in the form of a local anesthetic as well as an injectable medication. Your veterinarian will also prescribe pain medication to take home as well as antibiotics to help prevent an infection.

An important step also performed during the dental procedure is a complete oral exam. Your veterinarian will not only examine your pets teeth, but do a thorough examination of their gums and mouth. Small growths can form in the mouth and cause problems for your pet. Sometimes these can be benign or malignant, but it is important to check because otherwise it might not be found. If you feel a bump on your dog's leg, you can ask your vet about it. But how many of us would know if a bump was forming in their mouth? An oral exam can make sure your pet's mouth is free of anything that may cause problems, benign or malignant.

Taking care of our pets teeth is an important step in keeping them healthy and happy. Many pets may suffer from aches and pains due to their teeth that can be easily fixed. Keeping their teeth clean can also help prevent diseases such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, as well as kidney, liver, and heart problems. If you have more questions about periodontal disease or care for your pets teeth, contact your veterinarian or give us a call at 508-394-3566.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To Breed or not to Breed

Owning a new pet is exciting and fun. Many clients coming into our clinic are so happy with their new pet they decide they want to breed him or her. If one adorable puppy is so much fun, imagine a whole bunch of them! However, there is much more that goes into breeding than meets the eye, and if you're truly serious about breeding, there are some important things that you should know.

First and foremost you must consider care for the mother and the puppies or kittens. Breeding requires a lot of time and money. Making sure the mother is properly dewormed is important as she can pass on intestinal parasites to her offspring. Nutrition and diet must be monitored for both the mother and her babies. Making sure the mother has the proper vaccinations and is given a thorough exam by her veterinarian before breeding is vital to the care of your pet. The breeder is responsible for making sure neither parent has any physical conditions they could potentially pass onto their offspring.

Any good breeder will tell you that home care for puppies is a lot of work. Remember that none of the puppies will be house trained when they are born, and kittens will not be litter box trained. Just like children, the older and more mobile they get the more things they can get into and cause trouble.

Many people rely on the breeder to do the first round of shots for the puppies or kittens. They will also rely on the breeder to have a fecal sample submitted to make sure they are free of intestinal parasites. The cost for each puppy or kitten to have an exam, vaccines, and a fecal screen will grow exponentially with each animal.

No matter how wonderful your dog is, there is no guarantee that his or her puppies will have the same temperament and intelligence as your dog. In fact, it is rare that puppies are identical to either parent. Often it is up to the environment the dog or cat is raised and how they are trained that determines what their personality will be. It is the responsibility of the breeder to make sure each puppy or kitten has a loving home where they can live a happy and healthy life.

Breeding your dog or cat can be a wonderfully rewarding experience, but it must be a labor of love. We generally recommend against breeding to people who are inexperienced or have financial concerns. If you do decide to breed your dog or cat, talk to your vet. They can discuss your options and help you come to the best decision for you and your pet.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Scoop on Zoonotic Disease & Your Cat

What is a Zoonotic Disease?

Zoonotic disease or zoonoses are terms used to describe an infection or disease that can be transmitted from an animal to a human being.

Am I at risk for contracting a zoonotic disease from my cat?

Current evidence supports the fact that pets pose a minimal zoonotic risk to their human companions. Cats kept indoor are exposed to fewer diseases that could be transmitted to humans. Your risk may be slightly higher if you fall into one of the following groups:

People with compromised immune systems from disease or medications:

  • People with HIV/AIDS

  • People on chemotherapy or receiving radiation therapy

  • People who are elderly or have chronic diseases

  • People born with congenital immune deficiencies

  • People who have received organ or bone marrow transplants

  • Pregnant women (a fetus's immune system is not fully developed, and the pregnant women's immune system is altered so that she won't regect the fetus)

If you fall into one of these categories, it doesn't mean you have to give up your pet! It simply means that you should take some basic precautions such as not contacting your cat's feces directly, monitoring for any signs of illness in your cat and washing your hands after extensive handling of your cat.

It is important to keep in mind that numerous studies prove that the benefits of having a pet far outweigh the risks. Sharing your home with a pet is often just what your doctor ordered!

The most common zoonotic diseases of cats include:

  • Ringworm

  • Toxoplasmosis

  • Salmonellosis

  • Campylobacter infection

  • Giardia infection

  • Crptosporidium infection

  • Roundworms

What can I do to reduce the risk of contracting a disease from my cat?

Proper litter box cleaning is the most effective way to reduce the risk of contracting a disease from your cat. Here are simple guidelines you should follow if you call into a risk category:

Place your litter box away from the kitchen and other areas where you prepare or store food If possible, have someone who is not at risk to clean the litterbox. Otherwise, clean the litter box daily, since the organism that causes Toxoplasmosis takes at least twenty-four hours to become infectious. Use disposable litter box liners and change them each time you clean the litter box. Don't dump the litter. If you dump litter, you could potentially aerosolize an infectious agent and inhale it. Be sure to slowly pour the litter or simply twist and close the litter box liner.

Clean the litter box at least twice a month with hot water, letting the hot water stand in the box for at least five minutes. This simple cleaning technique will kill the Toxoplasma organism.

Wear disposable gloves and discard them after each use. Thoroughly wash your hands after cleaning the litter box.

In addition to Toxoplasmosis, is there anything else I can get from my cat's feces?

Cats can occasionally be the source for intestinal aliments including some bacterial infections (Salmonella and camplobacter) and some intestinal parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Roundworms.) These diseases can be spread to people by direct contact with the feces of an infected cat. Many other animals also carry these infections. Salmonella and Campylobacter are most often spread through undercooked meat or improperly prepared food.

How can I prevent my cat from getting bacterial infections and intestinal parasites?

Preventing these diseases is easier than you think. Some simple guidelines to keep your cat healthy are:

  • Feed your cat a high quality commercial cat food.

  • If you must feed your cat meat, poultry, or eggs, cook them well.

  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.

  • Keep your cat indoors and prevent it from hunting.

  • Keep your cat away from other cats and have any new cats examined by your veterinarian before exposing them to existing cats.

If you are concerned about you or your cat contracting any parasites or bacterial please always consult your Physician and/or Veterinarian.

This information was written by: Ernest Ward, DVM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crystal Clear

One complaint we see often from pet owners about their dog or cat is frequent urination and straining to urinate. Sometimes, they may even notice blood in their cat or dog's urine. Although there are any number of things that may cause your pet to suffer from hematuria (blood in urine), this blog is focused on the formation of crystals and bladder stones.

Some people reading this may think "oh yes, I know ALL about THAT!" While others may find themselves saying "I didn't even know dogs and cats could GET crystals in their urine, let alone bladder stones!"

While cyrstalluria (crystals in the urine) and bladder stones may be related, having crystals does not necessarily mean your pet will develop a stone. There are a number of reasons crystals can form in the urine, and not all crystals are the same. Treatment of crystalluria in your pet will depend on the type of crystals present in their urine. Your veterinarian will start by obtaining a urine sample and having a cytologist examine the urine sediment under a microscope. This will determine what type of crystal is present in your pet's urine, as well as rule out any other causes for the appearance of blood, or difficult urination.

Often times your veterinarian may want to take an x-ray of your pet's bladder just to make sure there isn't a stone present. If there is not a stone, crystalluria can usually be treated with a special diet. If a stone is present, surgery is required to remove the stone. This is important because if the stone is not removed, it could potentially cause an obstruction.

Urinary Obstruction is an emergency situation. This happens when crystals or stones block the dog or cat from being able to pass urine. When this happens, the body is unable to eliminate waste products, causing them to build up in the kidneys and then the blood stream. Acute kidney failure may result from an obstruction that has been left too long. One thing in particular that can build up is potassium. High amounts of excess potassium in the blood stream can cause severe heart arrhythmia's and result in death. For these reasons, urinary obstruction must be relived immediately by your veterinarian. Not all dogs and cats of who have crystals and/or bladder stones will develop a urinary obstruction. In fact, most pets will be treated and make a full recovery. However, it is important to be aware of what can happen should a urinary obstruction occur.

Early recognition is key in all aspects of veterinary medicine, especially urinary issues. Finding and treating the problem early will make things easier on both you and your pet.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ultrasound For Your Pet

Ultrasound is a valuable tool in the medical field. Over the last decade ultrasound has been used more and more in veterinary medicine to aid in important diagnostics. We all know ultrasound is used frequently in human medicine, but what, exactly, are it's uses in the veterinary field?

Like people, ultrasound can be used to examine a variety of organs, for a variety of reasons. For example, in an abdominal ultrasound, the doctor will look at the stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, gallbladder, bladder, spleen, and adrenal glands. Sometimes they can also look for more detailed images like blood flow and determining pregnancy.

Cardiologists can perform an ultrasound on the heart called an echocardiogram, or "echo." During an echo the thickness of the heart's wall can be measured, as well as the size of the heart's chambers and assessment of the heart valves.

Most importantly, ultrasound is used to detect abnormalities. Masses, benign or malignant can be often be seen on ultrasound. Certain diseases like pancreatitis will show up on ultrasound as well.

Some imporant things to note about ultrasound: 1. There is no radiation. Unlike x-rays, radiation is not part of an ultrasound examination. 2. Your pet's fur will most likely be shaved over the area being ultrasounded. 3. Anesthesia is not required, sometimes, however, it does help when a patient is uncomfortable to have them slightly sedated. 4. Since the ultrasound waves will not pass through air, ultrasound can not be used to examine the lungs. 5. Bone also stops ultrasound waves, therefore the brain, spinal cord, and obviously the bones themselves can not be assessed with ultrasound.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crate Training

We all need a special place to call our own-a sanctuary of sorts. Your pet is no different. Part of raising a healthy dog is providing her with her own "safe haven" and crates are a perfect solution. Most dogs can be easily trained to enjoy spending time in their crates.

Crate training is neither cruel nor unfair, provided your puppy has sufficient social interaction, exercise, and an opportunity to eliminate before she is placed in the crate. In fact, allowing your dog to wander through the home unsupervised to investigate, chew and eliminate is unwise and potentially dangerous.

You and Your Dog will love Crates

There are numerous benefits to crate training your dog:

  • Security for your dog

  • Safety for your dog

  • Prevention of household damage (chewing, elimination, ect)

  • Help with house training

  • Preparation for travel, boarding and spending time alone

  • Improved relationships (fewer problems mean less frustration and discipline)

How to Choose a Crate

Two basic styles of crates exist: metal collapsible crates with tray floors and plastic traveling crates. Look for one that is large crates, Look for one that is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in-even when she is full-grown. Provide the type of bedding on which your dog likes to nap, but keep in mind that your pup might be less likely to chew flat, tightly woven carpet samples or remnants than she is blankets or towels. If your dog must be left alone for more than four hours at a time, consider a pen or dog proofed room rather than a crate. Another option is an exercise pen that allows a little more room to move about. Also consider a midday visit from a dog walker.

Because dogs are social, the ideal location for the crate is in a room where your family spends a lot of time, such as the kitchen, den or bedroom, rather than an isolated laundry or furnace room. A radio, television, or CD may help calm your dog and mask noises that may trigger barking, Finally, for the crate to remain a positive, enjoyable retreat, never use it for punishment.

Training Puppies

Introduce your puppy to the crate as soon as possible. Place treats, toys, chews, or food in the crate to motivate her to enter voluntarily. You can teach her to go into the crate on command at feeding time or when given a chew toy. Practice frequently by tossing pieces of kibble in the crate. Each time she runs inside, say "Go to your crate." Eventually she will learn to enter when you give the command and point to the crate.

The first confinement session should be after a period of play, exercise, and elimination (When she is ready to take a nap or quietly play with a toy). Place your puppy in her crate with a treat and a toy and chose the door. Leave the room but remain close enough to hear her. You can expect some distress the first few times your puppy is separated from family members, but she should soon settle down if she is tired. Never reward the pup by letting her our when she cries or whines. instead, ignore her until the crying stops and release her before it starts again. If your puppy won't settle in her crate, make sure that you choose a time when she has had sufficient play and exercise and that she has recently eliminated so she is ready to relax or nap.

As the crate training continues, be sure to give her a favored chew toy or food-dispensing toy when placing her in the crate so she has something to keep her occupied. (See also our brochure "Busy Dogs Are Good Dogs.") Gradually increase the amount of time your pet spends in her crate. However, be certain to return and release your pet before she needs to eliminate.

If you have a regular routine for when your dog goes to her crate, she may soon begin to enter voluntarily when it's time to rest or to chew on a toy. Crating your dog is really not much different from placing a baby in a crib or playpen. You can use the crate in a similar manner, allowing your dog to take a nap or play with toys in the crate when you can't supervise her directly.

Remember to wait until your dog is quiet before you release her from the crate. If she continues to vocalize, try the following:

  • Interrupt the behavior with a firm "No" command through an intercom placed near the crate.

  • Gently throw an aluminum can containing a few pennies onto the floor near the crate.

  • Use a device that emits a sound or spray of air each time your dog barks.

These disruptions should be strong enough to stop the barking, but do not repeat then if they are not immediately successful or cause excessive fear.

Literature from: American Animal Hospital Association
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Understanding Anesthesia

Pet owners are often anxious about veterinary procedures involving anesthesia. There is always a risk of adverse reaction whenever any anesthetic agent is used. Reactions can range from mild swelling at an injection site or a full blown episode of anaphylactic shock. The latter occurrence is very rare, in fact most patients will have little or no reaction to anesthesia at all, but it's important that you understand the risks involved and the steps we can take to prevent them.

Patients, especially seniors, undergoing anesthesia should have blood work prior to the procedure. These blood tests will tell your veterinarian if there are any signs of infection, kidney and/or liver disease, or anything else that may cause a reaction to anesthesia. They will also indicate if further, more specific testing is required like specialized blood tests or radiographs.

Intravenous catheters are important to the anesthetic patient because they provide a direct line to administer injections and allow for IV fluids before, during, and after the procedure. Intravenous fluids help maintain blood pressure and fluid balance. They also aid in the recovery process by diluting the anesthetic agents circulating in the blood stream. Patients that receive IV fluids generally wake up faster than those who do not. Each patient is closely monitored by a technician for the entire procedure, as well as being hooked up to an ECG, blood pressure, and pulse oximeter.

Before undergoing anesthesia, you and your pet will meet with your veterinarian so he or she can do a thorough physical examination and select the appropriate screening tests. The day of the procedure, you should make sure your pet has been fasted and take the opportunity to meet with your doctor for any last minute questions. The doctor will then go over all the screening tests and determine the best anesthetic protocol. Depending on the procedure, some patients may need to spend the night.

If you have further questions regarding anesthesia, don't hesitate to ask your veterinarian!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Keeping an Indoor Cat Happy

Is keeping my cat indoors cruel?
There are many circumstances in which keeping a cat indoors may be safer for the cat and therefore, arguably, better for the cat. Indoor cats are at lower risk for injuries associated with the outdoor environment (cars, trains, dogs, predators, humans, ect.) and are at far less risk of contracting parasites and infectious diseases such as feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis and feline immunodeficiency virus. Studies have consistently shown that urban cats will live over 15 years. Keeping cats indoor also prevents killing off wildlife, fouling of neighborhood yards, and fighting with other cats and wildlife in the neighborhood if you keep your cat indoors.

If you decide to keep your cat as an indoor pet, you will need to be very aware of the extra responsibility that an indoor cat brings. You must take the time and trouble to ensure that the indoor environment offers the cat the opportunity to express as many of its natural behaviors as possible.

What do I need to do to make my indoor cat happy?

The most important thing for you to consider when you decide to keep a cat indoors is how you are going to provide for its behavioral needs. Obviously you will have thought about the needs for food, water, and warmth, but have you considered your cat's need to hunt, play, and explore, its need to be able to retreat and hide its need to feel in control. Providing a consistent daily routine that provides for all of the behavioral needs of your cat is not difficult but it dies require some time, some thought and some commitment.

Why does my cat need to hunt when I feed him so well?
The feline desire to hunt is not connected to the sensation of hunger and no matter how well you feed your cat it will still react to the sight and sound of prey with an instinctive stalk. Obviously indoor cats are unlikely to come across natural prey, but anything that moves rapidly or squeaks in a high pitch can trigger the same behavioral response. Since most outdoor cats will hunt upwards of 10 mice a day, some form of alternative outlets will be needed for predation. Both social play and object play toys are therefore essential for an indoor cat. Toys that squeak and those that can be moved rapidly and unpredictably are irresistible to some cats while of no interest to others. You can also select toys that mimic real prey in terms of size, texture and color. Small toys are usually more successful but caution must be exercised to be sure they cannot be accidentally ingested and cause intestinal blockage. Play sessions for indoor cats need to be frequent and regular and if your cat is interested and willing you should aim to give at least three play sessions every day. Recent studies seem to indicate that while the cat may tire of a chase toy in just a few minutes, the desire to chase new and different toys may remain and even be heightened. Therefore, try and offer two or three chase sessions in a row with different toys to ensure that your cat is truly finished rather than just bored with a particular toy. Stuffing or coating the toy with food or catnip may also help to maintain and prolong interest. You can have hours of fun playing with your cat!

Does my cat need to climb?

The picture of a cat stuck in a tree or standard on a roof top is a familiar one but the fact is that cats need to climb. Getting up high is an important way to relieve stress in the feline world and when your cat is feeling under pressure its instinct will be to move upwards this may be especially necessary in homes with multiple cats. It is therefore very important to have accessible high up resting places. Tops of fridge freezers, bookcases and stereo hi-fi cabinets are all popular resting places for cats, but if all of the furniture in your house is built-in you will need to make special provisions for your cat in the form of shelves and radiator cradles. High vantage points allow your cat to observe the world from a place of safety and escape if it feels the need to do so.

I would like to give my cat some fresh air but I am not sure if it will walk on a lead is there any alternative?

Some cats may need to be kept permanently indoors and this can work as ling as owners are aware of the responsibility that it brings. For others access to outdoors needs to be restricted, but owners would to offer some contact with the world outside and in theses cases there are a number of alternatives. The harness and lead approach is certainly one, but you are right to mention the fact that not all cats will learn to walk in this way. Introducing harnesses as early as possible will help and making a kitten accustomed to the lead will minimize resistance to its use as an adult. If you have tried introducing your cat to the harness and you have been met with overwhelming resistance you may wish to consider the use of an outdoor pen. Since cats can climb, the pen will either need a roof to prevent escape or have the sides angled inward at the top to prevent climbing over. There are a number of commercial cat containment products both indoor and outdoor use. Ideally the pen will be accessed from the house via a cat door flap and will offer the cat access to outdoors while offering you complete peace of mind. If a pen is to be used successfully if should mimic the outside world as closely as possible and cat furniture, tree trunks, toy, scratching posts and high up resting places should all b e available within the pen. The cat should never be allowed access to the outdoor pen when no one is home since escape or injury could occur.

This information is based on material written by: Debra Horwitz, DVM Diplomate ACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM Diplomate ACVB

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Heat may not be as Cool to your dog

Every Summer, animals left unattended in cars suffer brain damage and die from heatstroke:

On mild or cloudy days, with windows open, a parked furnace vehicle becomes a furnace.

Car windows act to absorb the sun's rays and insulate your vehicle: The inside of a car can heat up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit in only ten minutes on an 80 degree day.

Install shade blinds on car windows and NEVER leave animals unattended. A car can quickly become an oven. Also, animals left alone are vulnerable to theft.

Your companions are as vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer as you are and may require sunscreen on their nose. Light colored animals are particularly sensitive to the sun.

Take special precautions with older or overweight animals or those with heart or lung disease. In hot weather snub nosed dogs (Bull dogs, Pekingese, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Pugs, Shih Tzu, ect.) have compromised respiratory systems and must be kept in air-conditioning.

Heat Stroke in dogs and cats
Stroke is a dangerous condition that takes the lives of many animals every year. A dog's normal temperature is 99.5 to 102.5. at 105.0 to 106.0 the pet is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. If the body temperature rises to 107.0 your pet has entered the critical stage of heat stroke. With heat stroke irreversible damage and death can occur.

At Highest Risk: puppies to 6 months old; older (large breed dogs 7+ years; small breed dogs 14+); short muzzled, snort/wide head; ill over-weight; over-exerted; black or thick coat; dehydrated; ANY existing medical conditions.


Rapid panting, bright red tongue, red or pale gums, thick sticky saliva, depression, weak or dizzy, vomiting diarrhea, shock, coma.

An overheating dog may appear sluggish, unresponsive, or disorientated...probably panting hard. Gums, Tongue and conjunctiva of the eyes may be bright red. He may even start vomiting.

Eventually he will collapse, suffer a seizure and may go into a coma.

A heat stricken dog may die in minutes but proper care may save it's life.

If you think your companion is suffering from heatstroke, immediately remove him or her to a cool, shady area.

  • Try to SLOWLY lower the animals temperate by placing in cool NOT cold water

  • Apply ice to head and neck.

  • Get to a Veterinarian as soon as possible as follow up care will be critical to his survival.

RE: The Frederick County Humane Society

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Firework and Thunderstorm Phobias

The summer season brings alot of fun and outdoor activities for families and their four legged members. Unfortunately for some pets the season of Fireworks and Thunderstorms brings fear and anxiety.

How to deal with the problem in the short term.


These may be useful in some cases but should only be given under veterinary supervision. Remember they should be given so they take effect BEFORE any noise starts or panic sets in. This is usually at least an hour prior to the event. Sedatives may help the pet sleep through the anxiety and panic but may may not calm the dog sufficiently. There are also drugs such as some of the antidepressants that can be used on an ongoing basis to try and prevent or reduce the effect of the stimulus should it arise. Then, short term drugs on the day of the fireworks (or storm) may be added to some natural products such as melatonin might also be considered concurrently with other drugs.


Don't punish your dog when he is scared, it only confirms to him that there is something to be afraid of and will make him worse. In addition, if you are upset or anxious about your pet's behavior, this will also make your dog more anxious.


Don't fuss, pet or try to reassure your dog when he is scared since he may regard this as a reward for the behavior he is engaging in at that time, so that with each future exposure the behavior may become increasingly intense. Although it may be difficult, try to ignore any fearful behavior that occurs.

Training devices and commands

practice training your dog to settle and focus on commands for favored treats and toys. Thy and associate this training with a favored location in the house (one where the noise of the fireworks and storm might be less obvious-see below), and use some training cues (e.g. a favored CD, a favored blanket) each time you do the training (so that the command, location and cues help to immediately calm the dog). A head halter can also be used to help control, distract and calm the dog during training. Then at the time of the storm, use your commands, location, cues and head halter to try and calm the dog, while avoiding punishment or reassurance of the fearful response (see above).


Feed your dog a good meal, rich in carbohydrate and with added vitamin B6, a few hours prior to the expected fireworks (or storm). To ensure a good appetite, it may be necessary not to feed him at any other time during the day. However, if your dog is prone to diarrhea when scared or at other times, please consult your veterinarian for advice regarding this strategy.


Make sure that the environment is safe and secure at all times. Even the most placid dog can behave unpredictably when frightened by noise and, should he bolt and escape, he could get injured or lost.

Can I do anything to reduce the impact of the noise and flashes from the fireworks or storms?

When the season begins, try to ensure that your dog can reside in a well-curtained or blacked out room when it starts to go back. Blacking out the room removes the potentially additional problems of flashing lights, flares ect.

Provide plenty of familiar toys and games that might help to distract the pet.

Try to arrange company for your dog so that he is not abandoned in the room.

Make sure that all the windows and doors are shut so the sound is deadened as much as possible. Try taking your pet to a room or area of the house where the stimuli will be at their mildest and the dog can be most easily distracted. Sometimes nested cardboard boxes or a blanket placed over the cage can greatly mute the sound. Be certain however that there is enough air circulation so that the pet does not overheat.

Try to provide background sounds from the radio or television. rap or similar music with a lot of constant drum beats does help. It does not necessarily have to be loud as long as there is a constant distracting beat to the music that will prevent him from concentrating on the noises outside. Other background noises and such as a fan running or even "white" noise devices can help to block outdoor noises.

Ignore the noises yourself and try to involve your pet in some form of active game.

Some products and exercises might be useful to further secure or calm the dog. Anxiety wraps, a cape or mat that reduces static, a head halter for control or TTouch therapy may help to calm the dog further.

My friend down the street has a dog that is not scared of loud noises and gets along well with mine. She has offered to lend me her dog for support. Shall I accept?

This may be an excellent strategy. Keeping the two together during the evening may help. Playing with the non-fearful dog when your own becomes scared may help to encourage him to join in and reduce his fear.

Is there anything else I can do that is worthwhile?

Don't just ignore the problem because it only happens intermittently or for a few days each year. Instigate a desensitization program once the season is over so that you ensure your dog loses fear of the situation.

remaining calm and consistant with the techniques that help your pet will ensure you and your pet a happier firework and Thunderstorm season! Good luck

Friday, June 17, 2011

Heartworm in Dogs.... and Cats?

It's true, cats can get heartworm. Though not as common as it is in dogs, heartworm is more difficult to diagnose in a cat.

In both cases, heartworm is contracted by mosquitoes. When the infected mosquito bites the dog or cat, it deposits baby heartworms (larvae). It takes several months for the heartworm to mature and migrate to the heart. Diagnosis is done by a blood test for both dogs and cats, and most heartworm tests also test for other diseases like lyme in dogs or feline leukemia in cats.

If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm, xrays of the heart should be taken to determine the condition of the heart, lungs, and vessels. A blood sample should also be examined by a cytologist for mircofilariae (heartworm offspring in the blood of infected animal). This gives a general indication of the severity of the infection.

Treatment for heartworm in dogs is done by an injectable drug given in the muscle to kill the adult heartworms in the heart and adjacent vessels. It is critical to keep your dog quiet and restrict exercise for one month following treatment. During this time the adult worms die and start to decompose. As they break up they are carried to the lungs and reabsorbed by the body. In more severe cases this can cause severe coughing, shortness of breath, fever and/or depression. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for heartworm in cats. There are no effective drugs available, and cats that appear to be doing well may die suddenly.

The best way to treat heartworm is to prevent it. Heartworm prevention drugs like Interceptor or Heartguard can be given once a month, also topical flea prevention like Advantix for dogs and Revolution for cats repel mosquitoes, therefore assisting in preventing heartworm as well. Getting your dog tested once a year is also recommended so that if he or she does get heartworm, it can be diagnosed and treated early.

If you have more questions about heartworm, contact your veterinarian, or give us a call at 508-394-3566.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tis The Season for Hot Spots!!

What are "hot spots"?

Acute moist dermatitis or "hot spots" are a common skin disorder in dogs, "Hot spots" can appear suddenly and become large red, irritated lesions in a short time.

What is the cause?

"Hot spots" are the result of intense chewing and licking. The inciting cause is usually an insect bite reaction. Fleas, ticks, biting flies and even mosquitoes have been known to cause acute moist dermatitis. Allergic skin disease can also cause or contribute to the formation of "hot spots".

What does a "hot spot" look like?

It is usually a large, raw, inflamed and bleeding area of skin. The area becomes moist and painful and begins spreading due to a continued licking and chewing.

What does treatment involve?

The underlying cause should be identified and treated, if possible. Flea and tick preventives should be applied at the time of treatment. Anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics are often used to relieve the intense itching and to combat secondary skin infection. These may be injectable drugs, oral tablets and capsules or topical preparations. The area is usually clipped and cleaned to facilitate applying any sprays or ointments on the affected area.

Friday, May 27, 2011

So Itchy!

The warm weather is finally here! Dogs and people alike are all venturing out of their homes to spend more time sun. Unfortunately for some, the spring and summer also means the onset of seasonal allergies. Over the next few months we will likely see a large number of dogs with skin, ear, and respiratory issues due to allergies.

Many things can cause allergies in dogs from food to pollen to fleas and anything in between. The most common symptom of allergies in dogs is itching of the skin and/or ears. This can be localized to one area, or it can be all over the body. Another group of symptoms involves the respiratory system with coughing, sneezing, wheezing and sometimes discharge from the eyes or nose.

The ideal treatment for a dog with allergies is to bring him or her to a dermatologist to determine what exactly they are allergic too. Sometimes, due to finances, owners elect to treat the symptoms as happen instead. All patients suffering from allergies should be seen by a vet for treatment to determine the best course of action; whether that be the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, or topical solutions. Some cytology should be performed to determine if the allergic reaction is bacterial or fungal, that way your vet can decide which medication to use. If you have further questions about seasonal allergies, contact your veterinarian, or give us a call at 508-394-3566.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Should I Fast My Pet Before Anesthesia?

This is a commonly asked question in veterinary medicine, and one many pet owners often don't fully understand. When a dog or cat is sedated the swallow reflex in the throat is less responsive. Like people, anesthetic drugs often make animals nauseous. If the patient vomits while sedated or under general anesthesia there is high risk of aspirating, or breathing in, some of the vomited material. This can lead to a serious (sometimes fatal) condition called aspiration pneumonia. The risk of aspiration is increased in brachecephalic breeds (boxers, bulldogs, pugs) because of their anatomy.

We all love our pets and want to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. So while it may feel a little mean to send them to bed without dinner, it's one of the most important things we can do for them before undergoing anesthesia. If you have further questions about anesthesia and your pet, you may contact us at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod or contact your local vet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easter Safety Precautions

As you get ready to celebrate Easter with family and friends, keep the following precautions in mind to ensure that your furry family members stay safe and healthy.
Chocolate: Chocolate is very toxic for pets, especially dogs. Even small amounts of chocolate can be extremely dangerous. The toxic component in chocolate, theobromine, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizure and an abnormally elevated heart rate. Different types of chocolate contain varying levels of theobromine. Dark chocolate contains the highest amount and is therefore the most toxic to dogs. Early symptoms of chocolate toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, and trembling.

Easter Lilies: Easter Lilies are deadly for cats, so make sure you keep them completely out of cats' reach. Other potentially poisonous flowers may include tulips, Calla lilies, daisies, crysanthemums and baby's breath.

Easter Grass: Easter Grass can be life threatening for cats if ingested. The material can wrap itself around your cat's intestines and cut off circulation, requiring immediate medical intervention. Look for safer alternatives to Easter grass, such as tissue paper.

Sugar Substitutes: Xylitol, a popular sugar substitute used in sugar-free candy and in anything from sugar gum to toothpaste is highly toxic to pets. It causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and can lead to seizures and liver failure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Disaster Preparation & Your Pets

Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit

Just as you do with your family's emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you and your pets will need to stay where you are. The other should be lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away. Plus, be sure to review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods and medicines are fresh.

Food: at least 3 days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.

Water: Store at least 3 days of water specifically for your pets in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.

Medicines and medical records: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.

First Aid Kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution, Include a pet first aid reference book.

Collar with ID tags harness or leash: Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet's emergency supply kit. In addition, place copies of your pet's registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping, and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.

Crate or other pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you provided that it is practical to do so. In many cases, your ability to do so will be aided by having a sturdy, safe, comfortable crate or carrier ready for transporting your pet. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.

Sanitation: include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet's sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water, Use 16 drops or regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners.

A Picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.

What Will You do in an Emergency?

Be prepared to assess the situation. Use whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet's safety during an emergency. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is immediate danger.

In any emergency. local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for instructions. If you're specifically told to evacuate, shelter-in-place or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

Create a plan to get away: Plan how you will assemble your pets and anticipate where you will go. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if practical. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your animals may not be allowed inside. Secure appropriate lodging in advance depending on the number and type of animals in your care. Consider family or friends willing to take in you and your pets in emergency. Other options may include: a hotel or motel that takes pets or a boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital that is near an evacuation facility or your family's meeting place. Find out before an emergency happens if any of these facilities in your area might be viable options for you and your pets.

Develop a Buddy System: Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet's emergency supply kit. Also designate specific locations, one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away, where you will meet in an emergency.

Talk to your Veterinarian about emergency planning: Discuss the types of things that you should include in your pet's emergency first aid kit. Get the names of vets or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping, and enrolling your pet in a recovery database. If your pet is microchipped, keeping your emergency contact information up to date and listed with a reliable recovery database is essential to your being reunited with your pet.

Stay Informed: Know about types of Emergencies. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an emergency supply kit for yourself, your family, and your pets, is the same regardless of the type of emergency. However, it's important to stay informed about what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region as well as emergency plans that have been established by your state and local government. For more information about how to prepare, visit or call 1800-BE- READY
This information was developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Canine Influenza

What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza is a newly emerging infectious disease caused by a "flu" virus. In dogs, a highly contagious strain of the influenza A virus known as H3N8 is able to cause respiratory illness. Other strains of the influenza A virus are responsible for causing infections in birds, horses, pigs, and people.
Canine influenza virus only affects dogs.

How contagious is canine influenza?
Just like the human "flu" canine influenza is highly contagious. In fact, unless a dog has already had the illness and recovered, virtually every dog exposed to the virus will become infected. This is because the virus is relatively new, and dogs have no natural immunity to it. While 100% of dogs are susceptible to influenza infection, and 80% of infected dogs will show signs of the infection. Dogs that do not show signs of the disease can still spread the virus to other dogs.

What are the signs of canine influenza?

The most common sign of canine influenza is a persistent cough. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to that seen in dogs with kennel cough-a respiratory condition that is caused by any of a number of other viruses and bacteria. It's this similarity to kennel cough that makes it hard for your veterinarian to diagnose which illness your dog has.

About 80% of dogs who show signs of influenza will have mild disease. Signs in this case include a low-grade fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and a cough that can last for up to a month.
How serious is canine influenza?

Canine influenza is usually mild but can become quite serious in some dogs. in about 20% of the cases, more severe signs will occur, such as a high fever (104 to 106) and pneumonia. A small number of dogs infected with the virus have died from complications associated with the disease.

How is canine influenza infection diagnosed?

It's hard to diagnose canine influenza. Many times it can be confused with kennel cough because the signs are very similar. Often canine influenza is not suspected until the illness becomes unusually severe or lasts an unusually long time. Your veterinarian may collect blood or nasal swabs samples; however, these laboratory tests may not confirm canine influenza infection because the samples must be taken at the appropriate time in the course of your dog's illness. If your dog has a history of being exposed to other dogs with canine influenza, it is reasonable to suspect that your dog has something more than the ordinary cough.

How is Canine Influenza spread?

Canine influenza spreads the same way that human flu spreads-through direct contact (kissing, licking, nuzzling); through the air (coughing or sneezing); and via contaminated surfaces (such as when a person picks up the virus on their hands or clothing, then touches or pets a dog). Spread can also occur if that same person touches and contaminates another surface-a doorknob, for example.

How can I protect my dog from canine influenza?

Protection starts by keeping your dog in good general health. A well-nourished, well rested, and well-cared-for pet will have a stronger immune system to help fight off infection. When you most board your pet, make sure the facility is clean, well-maintained, and that there is an influenza outbreak management plan in place.

Recently, a new canine influenza vaccine-the first of its kind-was approved for use in the US. Canine influenza vaccine, H3n8 from Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health has need clinically proven to significantly reduce the severity of influenza and the length of time that a dog is sick. The initial vaccination requires 2 doses, 2-4weeks apart, followed by annual revaccination. If your dog is presently being vaccinated for kennel cough (Bordetella), it is a likely candidate for canine Influenza Vaccine, H3N8.

Your veterinarian can advise you whether this new influenza vaccine should be added to your dog's vaccination schedule.

*all information was provided by:
Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Designer Dogs

"Properly trained, a man can dog's best friend"
"I may be small, but there are greater things to fight for!"

"I always wear my sweater back-to-front; it is so much
more flattering."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be found in most animals, including livestock (cattle, pigs, and sheep) and wildlife (deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rats and other rodents). The bacteria are passed via the urine into water sources, where they reside and reproduce.

Is it a problem where I Live?

Leptospirosis is prevalent in rural, suburban and urbanized areas. The bacteria can be present in any stagnant surface water, moist soil and recreational water sources such as ponds and lakes. Additionally, natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes present an increased risk of exposure to the disease.

Can my Dog get Leptospirosis?

Your dog can become infected with leptospirosis by drinking, swimming in or walking through contaminated water. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through a cut in the skin or through mucous membranes (such as eyes, nose, or mouth).

Leptospirosis is a contagious disease and can be transmitted dog to dog. In urban areas, infected dogs can transmit the disease to other-low-risk dogs.

Exposure risk increases during the summer and early fall month, and other periods of high rainfall.

Can Cats Catch this Disease?

Although cats are potentially at risk for leptospirosis, they appear to have natural resistance. For this reason, cats are not vaccinated against leptospirosis.

Can People Catch Leptospirosis?

YES! The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 200 human cases of leptospirosis a year are identified in the United States.

While the disease is rarely fatal in humans, it can cause severe illness.

You may reduce disease risk by complying with the following preventive measures:

  1. Vaccinate your dog and livestock.

  2. Avoid water that might be contaminated with the bacteria, especially water that is stagnant.

  3. Practice good sanitation, including washing your hands and your children's hands-especially when handling anything that might have your dog's urine on it.

  4. If your occupation or lifestyle involves routine exposure to wildlife or standing water, wear protective clothing to avoid exposure.

What are the Signs of Leptospirosis?

Look for the following signs that could indicate your dog has been infected with leptospirosis:

Flu-like symptoms are most common, including:

  • Fever

  • loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Dehydration

  • Weakness

  • Depression

  • Lethargy

  • Jaundice, marked by a yellow cast in the gums of the mouth and whites of the eyes.

  • In the most severe cases, the disease can lead to kidney failure or liver failure and may be fatal.

How can I protect My Dog from Leptospirosis?

Remember...Protection = Prevention!!!

To protect your dog from this potentially fatal disease, vaccination is key. By vaccinating your dog before exposure to the disease, you may avoid the emotional and financial trauma of dealing with this disease.

Vaccines are affordable, convenient and safe. Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccine is best and how to incorporate it into your dog's routine vaccination program.

Do Vaccines prevent the most common Canine Leptospira?

The most complete leptospirosis protection is with vaccines containing the four most common strains of leptospira bacteria diagnosed today.

Cornell University recently reported that the vast majority of leptospirosis cases they diagnosed in dogs were caused by two strains.

Vaccination for leptospirosis is routinely administered to dogs in combination with other common canine vaccines.

Your veterinarian will initially recommend a two-shot series. Re vaccination frequency will be based on your dog's risk of exposure.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Some of Our Interesting looking Patients

Lotus, a Sphynx, came to our hospital this week to be spayed. As with any of our patients, special precautions were taken during her spay to ensure her surgery was done efficiently and safely. Because Sphynx cats have no pelt to keep them warm they huddle up to other animals or people to keep warm. Lotus came prepared with a fuzzy bed and blanket to keep her warm while she stayed with us.

Callie, A 12 week old Shar Pei, came for her first wellness visit this week. She is so adorable! As young puppies they have very deep wrinkles but as they mature, these wrinkles disappear.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chewer Beware!!!

Like toddlers, pets have a tendency to chew and ingest various objects. This becomes a serious and potentially life threatening problem if the objects become lodged in the intestines or stomach. An animal who has ingested string or ribbon can develop a linear foreign body which is even more dangerous.
When objects are too large to pass, they usually obstruct at the stomach outflow or within the small intestine itself. With linear foreign bodies, the continual movement of the intestinal tract can literally bunch the intestines into an accordion-like mass.

Most patients with digestive foreign bodies exhibit vomiting. If the object has not fully clogged the intestinal tract the vomiting may be intermittent. With a complete blockage the dog or cat will not be able to keep anything down. The longer the blockage lasts the more critical the patients condition will become.

When the foreign body is a sharp object the risk of it perforating through the intestines or stomach is high. In the case the patients condition will become critical and fatal fast with infection.
This week two of our patients came in with these typical symptoms and upon radiographic evaluation the issue was very clear. Both dogs had ingested a foreign body.

The first patient a standard poodle, had clearly ingested a sewing needle and other questionable objects were noticed as well.
An emergency abdominal explore was immediately preformed and Dr. Zarif removed not one but 4 foreign objects! 2 socks, a wad of paper and the sewing needle.

Our second foreign body surgery was a little Jack Russel who ate a large screw. Radiographs were taken and it was clear another emergency exploratory surgery was necessary. During the surgery Dr. Burns retrieved not only the screw that had perforated through the intestinal wall. In the picture a rope toy was wrapped around the screw and a little yellow rubber toy.

We are happy to report that both patients doing well and recovering from their surgeries. Hopefully this wont be a reoccurring issue for either of them.