Friday, December 13, 2013

Pet for Christmas?

   Are you thinking about getting a pet for Christmas?  If so, here's a few things to think about before you bring them home.

   First, you want to prepare your family.   While the idea of surprising your loved ones on Christmas morning sounds wonderful, it doesn't always work out for the best.  It's important to do your research before bringing home a pet.  Will you be getting a dog?  A cat?  A rabbit?  There are many options; each with their own individual needs.  The more prepared you are to meet the needs of your new pet, the easier it will be to handle the responsibility.  Often times it can be more fun that way too!  It's something the entire family can do together and be a part of from the beginning.

   Second, you'll need to consider costs.  What kind of pet can you afford?  If you're planning on getting a puppy or kitten, you need to know that the first year of life can be the most expensive.  Like babies, puppies and kittens need a series of vaccines for their first set of vaccines.  They will need to go to the Veterinarian every 3-4 weeks between 8 weeks and 24 weeks.   They will also need to be de-wormed, have flea and tick treatment applied, and dogs will need heart worm medication as well as heart worm testing.  At six months getting your dog or cat spayed or neutered is strongly recommended.
   Should you choose to adopt a pet from a shelter, most of these things will already be done.  Shelters will often spay and neuter, vaccinate, and de-worm all of their patients.  Remember when you are paying for the adoption fee, you are paying for a lot more than just the pet.

   Finally, you'll need to "pet proof" your home.  Make sure there is nothing that can be easily chewed or swallowed laying on the floor.  Keep breakable objects up high, keep doors closed that you do not want pets going through.  Sometimes getting baby gates to block off certain areas of the house can be really helpful.  

    If you do decide to bring home a brand new puppy or kitten for Christmas, it can still be a wonderful and rewarding experience!  Just make sure you do your research, you prepare the family and the household, and you know you've budgeted accordingly.  If you have questions about adoption, or purchasing a furry family member, one of our trained staff would be happy to help!  At Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod we want every pet and owner to have an excellent experience together and we will do whatever we can to help make that happen.  From all of us at VACC, Happy Holidays to you, your family, and your pet!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Travel Tips for your Pet

     You know you're not alone if you're traveling this holiday season; but you're also not alone when it comes to the question of what to do with your pet.  This is a dilemma for many people and often a stressful one.  Here are a few ideas that will help make things a little easier this holiday season; at least when it comes to your pet.

Boarding Kennel
      One option is to board your dog or cat in a kennel.  But how do you pick the right kennel for your pet? It can get expensive depending on how many pets you have and whether or not your pet has any medical conditions.  Some veterinary hospitals do medical boarding and/or kennel boarding.  It's a good idea to first check with your veterinarian to see if they offer boarding.   At Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod we are currently doing limited boarding, but when our remodel is complete we are going to have a beautiful, state of the art boarding facility!  If your pet has any medical concerns, boarding at a veterinarian is an ideal choice because you know there are trained professionals available to care for your pet.
     Tours of our facility are available upon request, and any boarding business should offer tours of their facility so you can see for yourself where your pet will be staying.

Pet Sitting
           This is a popular option for a lot of people.  There are generally two types of pet sitting; having a pet sitter come to your house, or leaving your pet at a pet sitter's house.  The beauty of pet sitters is that you can go away knowing your pet is comfortable either in their own home or at the home of someone you trust.  There are a lot of pet sitter's out there and it can be difficult to find the right one.   If you don't already have a reputable pet sitter (or know of one) I recommend checking out  Here you can look up pet sitters in your area, read reviews, and view pricing details.  It's a very user friendly site with a lot of good information and worth looking into.

Just Bring Them!
     Finally, some people opt to say "forget all this pet sitting stuff, I'm bringing my pet with me!"  This is an increasingly popular idea for travelers.  For one thing, you don't have to pay the extra money to board your pet or have the pet sitter come look in on them.  For another, you get to spend your vacation with your furry family member!  If you decide to bring your pet with you on vacation, there is a wonderful website where you can find pet friendly vacation rentals; or if you are driving you can even do a route search for pet friendly places all along your way!  You can also check out as well if you want to compare more locations and pricing options. 

Most Important
     No matter which option you go with, it is most important to make sure you are prepared for a pet emergency.  If you are traveling with your pet, look up a local veterinarian where you will be staying ahead of time.  If you are boarding, or having a pet sitter care for your pet, make sure to leave appropriate emergency contact information.  It is crucial that your veterinarian be able to contact you in the event of an emergency.  If you can not be reached where you are going, leave the name and number of someone you trust to make important decisions for you regarding your pet.

There is a lot to do this holiday season; we hope this helps make things a little easier!  And we hope you have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks to Pet Heroes

     There are many reasons to be thankful for your pet.   Like never having to pick up dropped food for example, or always knowing when someone is at the door.  But there are some pets out there who give their owners a little more to be thankful for every year.  They are hero pets!  And here are the stories of just a few of them.

     Koshka was a kitten rescued by a soldier in Afghanistan.  The soldier discovered him injured while out on patrol, snuck him back to base camp, and nursed him back to health.  Over the duration of the soldier's deployment he became very depressed; his marriage was falling apart at home and the stress of war was getting to him.  He contemplated suicide more than once, but says that Koshka never left his side.  He was a constant companion and at times refused to leave the soldier alone.  The soldier credits Koshka with getting him through those dark days and ultimately saving his life.  He has since adopted Koshka back to the U.S. and the cat now resides with his parents in Oregon.

     A gunman in Florida opened fire, killing a teenage girl and wounding a 27 year old man.  A stray dog, since named "Princess Coco Wing" leaped from the bushes and attacked the gunman, stopping him from killing anymore people.  The dog took two bullets through both of her hind legs.  She was found in the bushes by a responding officer and brought to a local veterinary hospital.  Veterinarians spent five hours in surgery with Princess Coco and she ultimately survived.  After her story hit the news she had numerous calls of families who wanted to adopt this hero dog.  

     Jade is a 9 year-old German Shepherd from Britain who was out on a walk one day in the park with her owner.  Jade suddenly ran away from her owner and refused to return to him.  He found her sitting next to a strange bag resembling a cat carrier.  At first the  man thought there were kittens in the bag, but he soon realized it was an abandoned human newborn!  He called the authorities and the infant was rushed to the hospital and recovered completely fine.  They did not find the parents, but credit Jade with finding and saving that little baby's life.  

     There are so many stories out there of hero pets and heartwarming stories of how powerful the human-animal bond can be.  I hope these three bring a smile to your face and put a little warmth in  your heart this Thanksgiving.

  From all of us to you, we'd like to wish you a very happy, and healthy Holiday Season.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Project Samana

The human animal bond is something that all of us at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod value deeply.  Some of us find our pets, either through a breeder, or rescue them from a shelter.  But for some people it's the opposite; their pets find them.  This is the case for many pets in the Dominican Republic.  Street strays are everywhere and often they find themselves wandering into someones home.  They get food and attention and a bond develops.  The rest is history.

So how do people who struggle to feed themselves care for a pet?  Somehow they still manage to provide what little they can because the once street stray is now a member of their family; one they can't picture their lives without.   Project Samana offers those people the opportunity to provide very basic care for their adopted pets; while at the same time helping to prevent more orphaned dogs from roaming the streets. 

Every year in June and November, a team of veterinary professionals head to Samana in the Dominican Republic for a spay and neuter clinic.  We say spay and neuter, and mostly, that's what we do, but really we'll see anything that walks through the door. 

Being a part of Project Samana is an incredibly rewarding experience.  You will work incredibly hard, but you won't want to leave.  There is something so hopeful about the Dominican People.  They come together every evening to eat, listen to music, and spend time with each other.  They are slowly building their country to a better place, and they take great pride in themselves and their fellow Dominican's accomplishments.  (Wearing a Red Sox hat there will definitely earn you a hello and a friendly smile). 

This November we treated 198 patients, and we will be headed back there in June 2014 hoping to do many more.  Some of us may even be found by our own new four-legged family member. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Safety For Pets

     Halloween is one of THE BEST holidays of the year.  We love dressing up our kids and our pets!  And who doesn't love free candy?  In the spirit of having a fun and safe Halloween, here are some safety tips for you and your pet:

  1. Remember to keep the candy dish out of reach of your four legged family members.  Most people know that chocolate is not good for pets, but some candy also contains the artificial sweetener xylitol which is very dangerous for pets as well.
  2. Decorations like pumpkin and corn may not be toxic, but they can sometimes cause other problems.  Some dogs and/or cats may get away with a little GI upset, but ingestion of any foreign object has the possibility of getting stuck in your pet's intestines and can require surgery to be removed
  3. Keep carved pumpkins with candles outside!  Sometimes rambunctious pets will knock them over and could potentially start a fire.
  4. If you're taking your dog trick-or-treating make sure to use reflective leashes and collars so that passing cars can see him or her in the dark.  Now a days they even make leashes that light up!
  5. Make sure pet costumes fit properly and don't have any pieces hanging off that could get caught in a car door or eaten by your pet.
  6. Finally, identification!  With so many people out and about and doors being opened pets find it much easier to sneak out of the house or escape from their leashes.  Making sure you have clear, proper ID on your  pet will help you find him or her if they get lost.
  7. Have fun and get lots of candy!  Just don't give any to your pets =)
All of us here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod would like to wish you and your family a very safe and fun filled Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dental Disease: Fighting The Good Fight

 Periodontal Disease, more commonly known as Dental Disease, is one of the most common conditions we see here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod.  Once periodontal disease begins, the degenerative changes to the tooth and its support structures are irreversible.  Those changes then make it easier for plaque and tartar to build up resulting in further progression of the disease.
    In order to better serve our patients and our clients, Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod has introduced our Periodontal 1-2 Package.  Oral health is important to overall health!  And the longer we wait to take care of our pet's teeth, the more advanced periodontal disease becomes.
     Right now for any pet getting an early grade periodontal procedure we are offering a 36% discount in cost.  This comes out to $169.00 off, and it includes a complete examination of the oral cavity, anesthesia, ultrasonic scaling, teeth polishing, intravenous catheter placement, intravenous fluid administration for the entire procedure, as well as our advanced anesthesia monitoring by a trained staff member and state of the art equipment!
     Digital X-rays and extractions are additional to the cost, but it is our hope that by getting your pet into the clinic before they have advanced periodontal disease they will not need the more costly x-rays and traumatic extractions.
    If you have any questions or comments, we'd love to hear from you!  Please visit our website at, or give us a call at 508-394-3566! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Quality Care Made Affordable

These days we are all on a budget.  At Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, we see it all the time;  caring clients who want the best for their pets but are struggling to provide it financially.  Because we know how much you love your pets, and that it's not always easy getting that big bill at the end of your visit, Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod has introduced our Preventative Care Plans.

These plans will allow you to make a smaller payment each month so you can assure that your pet will get the quality care you want to provide.  The plans start at $25.95 per month, and are specialized to whether you have a puppy or kitten, an adult pet, or a senior pet. 

For example, the Puppy Core Plan includes 3 nose to tail wellness exams, all rabies and distemper vaccines, two screenings  for intestinal parasites, two de-worming treatments, three free nail trims, and 1 dose of flea and tick and heartworm preventative.    This plan is incredibly helpful for people with a new pup, because young dogs must get a series of vaccines for their first vaccinations.

There are two types of plans, Core and Premium, and they are available for Puppy, Adult Dog, Senior Dog, as well as Kitten, Adult Cat, and Senior Cat.   It is our hope that these plans will help you not only provide quality care for your pet but also allow you to do so without breaking your budget.  For more information regarding our wonderful new Preventative Care Plans, simply click on link to visit our website!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

First Aid For Your Pet! By Doctor Lauren Collazo

Our very own Doctor Collazo will be teaching a pet first aid/CPR training class on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6pm.  Dr. Collazo is the Medical Director here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod and has been providing quality care to our patients for years. 

This class will feature a hands on approach to CPR using a canine mannequin.  It will also include first aid, bandaging, and bleeding control for your pet. Those who complete the class will receive a certification card.

The class is being taught at the Dennis Police Station in the Community Room and all are welcome to attend! Seating is first come first serve and a $15 donation to the Sampson Fund will be requested at the door.

We are so excited for Dr. Collazo to have the opportunity to share this experience with the community and we hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Voted #1 Veterinarian on Cape Cod

Our Hospital was excited to find out that when The Cape Cod A List took a poll our clients voted us as the Best Veterinarian on Cape Cod!
Our team works really hard to make sure that as our patients, your pets will recieve the highest level of compassionate care out there.
Thank You for voting for Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dr. Burns and Dr. Zarif appear in a new book about pets!

Two of VACC's doctors appear in a new book, Unconditional Love: Pet Tales to Warm the Heart by local author Brian J. Lowney.  Dr. Zarif talks about the importance of dental health for your pet, and Dr. Burns discusses the dangers of summer heat.  Find the book here on Amazon!
Stay tuned for a book release event.

Friday, September 13, 2013

National Guide Dog Month

September is National Guide Dog Month.  Have you ever wondered what to do when your pet meets a guide dog? Here are some tips, courtesy of The Seeing Eye:

10 Ways to Protect Dog Guide Teams:
  • Learn about and obey your state and local leash laws. In many states it's a criminal offense to permit your dog to attack or interfere with a dog guide.
  • Never let your pet near a dog guide, even if your dog is leashed. Dog guides are working animals and must never be distracted from their duties.
  • Alert the blind person of your dog’s presence when passing by the team. A simple greeting of “Hi, I have a dog with me” is often appreciated.
  • Keep your dog under good control at all times. Using a retractable leash in populated areas and leaving your dog tied up outside unattended in a public place endanger both the dog guide team and your own dog.
  • Never allow a child or anyone unable to control your dog to walk it on a leash.
  • Learn as much as possible about your family pet and its breed characteristics, especially relating to temperament.
  • Enroll your dog in obedience classes. Properly socialized and trained dogs make better pets.
  • Immunize against rabies and spay or neuter all dogs.
  • Report any loose dogs roaming about in your neighborhood to the local police and animal control offices. Unsupervised pets in unfenced yards should also be reported.
  • Offer assistance to a blind handler if you witness an attack or interference on a dog guide. If it is your dog that causes harm, take responsibility for its actions.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Feline Agility

Feline agility can be a fun way to help your cat shed those unwanted pounds. The obstacles for a feline agility course are similar to those used in canine agility, only they are smaller.
Here are a few pointers on getting your cat started:
  • Many people use toys such as feathers or laser pointers to lure their cat through the obstacle. 
  • Treats can be used as rewards during training, but if your cat is overweight don't use too many!
  • Remember to use baby steps. If you are teaching your cat to jump through a hoop, Start with the hoop on the ground, so she can just walk through the first few times. You may even need to reward her for just sniffing the hoop at first.
  • There are organizations that hold feline agility competitions. Their websites are a good place to look whether you would like your cat to travel to agility competitions, or just perform some tricks on a home made living room course.
  • Many agility obstacles can be made at home using inexpensive items, like PVC tubing or cardboard boxes.
  • Don't forget the point is to have fun! If you start to feel frustrated with your cat, move on to something else.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Health Benefits of Pets

We all know our pets make us healthier. Just petting them can lower our blood pressure and heart rate, making us feel calm and relaxed. Results of a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics show that children exposed to dogs during their first year of life had fewer health problems. Specifically, children who lived with a dog had fewer respiratory infections, fewer ear infections, and needed fewer antibiotics than children who lived in pet-free households. The study concludes, "during the first year of life, animal contacts are important, possibly leading to better resistance to infectious respiratory illnesses during childhood."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Surgical Laser

The surgical laser is just one of the tools we use to provide your pet with the best care possible.  At VACC our surgeons are happy to have the option of using the surgical laser for their surgical procedures.The surgical laser offers the following benefits:

  • reduced pain
  • reduced bleeding
  • faster recovery

For some procedures, such as a feline declaw, the surgical laser is always used, with great results. In addition to reduced bleeding, pain, and recovery time, the patients also have less swelling than they would if the procedure were done using traditional methods. The surgical laser also allows our surgeons to remove tissue with great precision. As you can see in the photo below, the surgical laser was used to draw a smiley face on the surface of the egg yolk without rupturing it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Severe Allergic Reactions in Dogs

Recently at VACC, we saw a patient who was having an allergic reaction to greenhead bites. The family was visiting a Cape Cod beach when the dog started shaking her head excessively. A short time after, her face swelled up, and her family called us. As you can see in the photo below, her face was very swollen by the time she got here. She also had multiple welts on her legs where she was bitten by the flies.

Luckily they were able to get here quickly, and after a steroid injection and some observation she was able to get back to her vacation.
Severe allergic reactions like this can be dangerous because the swelling can potentially obstruct the dog's airway. If you notice your dog has any of the following symptoms, get her to a veterinarian right away:

  • facial swelling
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness
Severe allergic reactions can be caused by many things, including insect bites or stings, vaccines, medications, foods, or certain chemicals. Sometimes the reaction can be treated with over-the-counter Benadryl, but it is still important to contact your veterinarian to get the proper dose, and often Benadryl alone will not be enough to stop the reaction.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mosquitoes and Heartworm Disease

Mosquitoes are an unfortunate reality of summer. While they may just be annoying to you, they can be dangerous to your pets. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease, which can be deadly if left unchecked.
The best thing you can do to protect your dog is to use a monthly heartworm preventive.
Watch the video below to learn more about the disease.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Signs of Illness in Cats

Our feline friends can be very good at hiding the fact that they don't feel well. Here are some of the subtle signs that your cat needs to be seen by a veterinarian.
  • Hair loss or excessive shedding
  • Lumps or growths
  • Bad breath or unpleasant odor
  • Changes in any of the following:
    • Eating- an increase or decrease in appetite
    • Drinking- excessive thirst or decrease in water consumption
    • Activity- usually we see activity level decrease in sick cats, but an increase in activity can also be indicative of a problem
    • Grooming- decrease in grooming or excessive licking in one area
    • Personality- a shy cat who is suddenly affectionate or a friendly cat who starts hiding from you
    • Weight- unexpected weight loss or weight gain
    • Litter box habits- not using the litter box or lingering inside it for long periods
The best thing you can do for your cat is to bring her to the veterinarian at least once a year, and any time you notice a problem. At VACC, a common reason for a visit is, "He's not himself." You know your pet better than anyone, so if you have a feeling that something isn't right, trust yourself and make an appointment. Most illnesses are easier to cure if they are caught early.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dr. Tom Burns Discusses Pets and Ticks

Don't make the mistake of thinking that deer ticks are the only danger to you and your pets! Co-host Dan McCready talks with Dr. Tom Burns, of Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, about the dangers pets and their owners face from tick-borne illnesses. Sunday Journal is produced by the Cape Cod Broadcasting NewsCenter and is aired on the FM stations: 99.9 WQRC, Ocean 104.7, Classical 107.5 WFCC and Cape Country 104 each Sunday morning.

 If you are having trouble using the audio player, click here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Danger of a Hot Car

Summer has finally arrived on Cape Cod! Unfortunately, VACC has already lost one patient because she was left in a hot car. Remember, 70 degrees is too hot to leave a dog in the car, even if the windows are cracked. If you aren't sure if it's too hot, be on the safe side and leave your dog at home. In this video, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward show us just how hot it can get inside a parked car. The chart below shows how extreme the difference in temperature can be inside a car as opposed to the outside temperature.

If you must bring your pet with you, bring an extra key, so you can lock your pet inside with the air conditioner running.

If you come across a dog inside a parked car on a hot day, here's what to do:
  • Have someone stay with the dog and watch for signs of heat stroke:
    • Excessive panting or drooling
    • Bright red tongue and gums
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Vomiting
    • Confusion or disorientation
    • Bloody diarrhea
    • Lethargy
    • Collapse or seizure
  • Call animal control or the police. They will need to know the location of the vehicle, as well as the make, model, color, and plate number.
  •  Ask nearby businesses to page the owner of the vehicle.
If the dog appears to be suffering from heat stroke, it needs to be removed from the car as soon as possible. The safest thing to do in this situation is to find the owner and have them remove the dog. Be aware that while some states have laws that offer protection to an individual who enters a vehicle to rescue an animal in danger, Massachusetts does not. Should you make the decision to remove the dog yourself, be sure to call the authorities before you do so and inform them of the situation. It is also a good idea to have a witness with you who can back up your story, if needed. Before breaking the windows of a vehicle, check to see if the doors were left unlocked. Have a leash ready for the dog, and be careful that it doesn't bite you. In these situations you need to be ready for the owner of the dog to be hostile as well- another reason to wait for the local authorities! Once the dog is out of the car, offer some cool (not ice cold!) water to drink, use the same temperature water to wet the dog down, and get it to a veterinarian as quickly as you can- preferably in an air conditioned vehicle.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bladder Stone Removal Via Cystoscopy

At Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, our surgeons are fortunate enough to have the ability to use the endoscope for certain procedures.

In the x-ray of a miniature schnauzer below, three pea-sized stones can be seen in the bladder. 

Dr. Burns elected to use cystoscopy, and the procedure was a success. During this procedure, the scope is passed into the bladder through the urethra and the stones are retrieved. In most cases, the benefits of using the endoscope for this procedure (compared to the traditional surgical method) are huge:
  • Anesthesia time is greatly reduced.
  • There is no incision. This shortens recovery time for the patient, and virtually eliminates the risk of post surgical complications.
  • There is less irritation to the bladder. This is especially beneficial to patients who are at risk for developing more stones and may require multiple procedures over their lifetime.
In the video below, you can see the surgeon's-eye-view of the bladder stone retrieval.

The x-ray below, taken after the procedure was completed, confirms that all of the stones were removed.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Project Samana June 2013

Here are a few pictures from Project Samana, which took place earlier this month. Thank you to all of the volunteers and the people of Samana!

Click the link below to see more pictures!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Puppy Socialization vs. Disease Risk

Socializing a puppy at an early age can help to decrease the chances of unwanted fearful behaviors like aggression. Unfortunately, the same time period that is optimal for socializing a puppy (6-14 weeks) is also a time when puppies are particularly at risk of contracting infectious diseases such as parvovirus or distemper virus.
Here are some simple precautions you can take to ensure that your puppy will grow into a healthy and well-adjusted adult dog:
  • Visit the vet to keep up to date on all vaccinations and parasite prevention (including heartworm, intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks).
  • Avoid bringing young puppies to the dog park where you don't know the health history of the other dogs. Instead, look for a local puppy socialization class where all the dogs have been recently examined by a veterinarian and have had at least their first vaccination.
  • Always keep an eye on your puppy when he is socializing with new friends. If he shows signs of fear, illness, or aggression, remove him from the situation.
  • Don't bring a sick dog to play with other dogs.
  • Pick up your dog's stool right away, and don't allow your dog to investigate another dog's stool.
  • Do not allow your dog to come into contact with wildlife.
 It is important for dogs to interact with other dogs. Luckily, it is easy to minimize the risk and keep your dog happy and healthy.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month!

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month! Lots of kittens are born in the spring, so this time of year animal shelters are full of kittens (and adult cats) waiting to be adopted.
Here are some tips if you are considering adding a cat to your family:
  • Two cats are better than one! If you can afford it, consider adopting two cats. They will keep each other company when you are not around.
  • Cats live long lives. The average life expectancy of an indoor cat is 12-16 years. Here at VACC, we have seen cats as old as 23 years. Of course unforeseen circumstances can occur, but if you know you won't be able to have a cat in 2 or 3 years, it's not a good time to adopt one. 
  • Not all cats are the same. Cats have personalities. Work with your local shelter to make sure you are adopting the right cat for you.
  • Make sure a cat will fit into your budget. A new cat will need supplies like a litter box, food dish, and toys. A new kitten will require several visits to the vet for vaccines and health check-ups. Food, cat litter, and yearly trips to the vet can add up as well. Be sure you can afford to take care of a cat before you adopt one. VACC's Preventive Care Plans can save you money while giving your cat the very best care.
  • Be prepared! Make sure everything is ready before you bring your new cat home. Food and water bowls, food, litter box with litter, and toys should all be waiting for your cat when she arrives.
  • Go slow! It's a good idea to introduce your cat gradually to her new surroundings, family, and friends.
Click here for more tips on bringing home a new pet.

Friday, June 7, 2013

When Your Pet is Afraid of the Vet

As veterinary professionals, we see lots of fearful pets. For most of these animals, the veterinary office is associated with unpleasant events. For your pet, these unpleasant events can be invasive things like needles, rectal thermometers, or the dreaded nail trim, but they can also be less obvious situations like a crowded waiting room, a strange sound, or a new smell. Things that you may not notice can be very scary for your pet, especially if they spend most of their time in your home.
At VACC we do everything we can to make your pet's visit as comfortable as possible. All of our exam rooms have Feliway diffusers to soothe our feline friends, and an assortment of treats for our canine friends. We approach each of our patients as individuals, using the least amount of restraint possible, and doing our best to make their visit a positive one.
Here are some things you can do to help your pet's visit have more wags and purrs:
  • Stop by for a treat. Technicians are always happy to shower your pet with love and cookies! This strategy works better before your pet has learned to be afraid of us, but can help those who are already fearful as well. If your pet is anxious before they even get inside the building, ask a staff member to bring a treat out to the parking lot. If your pet is afraid of getting on the scale (aren't we all?) come in for a quick weight check and a treat, then leave. The important thing to keep in mind is keep these visits short and happy. It's also a good idea to call ahead to make sure we are not very busy so you won't be waiting long.
  • Teach your cat to love her carrier. Unfortunately for many cats, their visit to the vet begins with being rudely stuffed into the carrier. If your cat learns to associate the carrier with positive things, it will make trips to the vet much easier on you, your cat, and all of the veterinary staff!
  • Play with your pet's ears and feet. Start with three sessions a day lasting five minutes each and use lots of treats. Before you know it, your pet will be looking forward to having these normally sensitive areas handled by you, and they won't mind so much when it happens at the vet visit.
  • Keep calm. Your pet can sense more than you may realize, so if you are nervous they will likely be nervous as well.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Project Samana

2013 is the 20th year of Project Samana! Twice a year (in June and November) volunteers travel to the Dominican Republic to help the animals and people of the region. VACC's own Dr. Labdon has been involved with the project from the beginning. Thanks to Dr. Labdon and the more than 100 volunteers over the years, thousands of cats and dogs have been spayed and neutered, and hundreds of horses have been castrated. These volunteers also help the community of Samana by providing education on animal care and first aid. This June, VACC's Dr. Clayton will be offering his veterinary skills to the cause.

The mission of Project Samana is "to improve the health and lives of the animals and people of Samana and the surrounding area, and to provide training so that our intervention is welcome but not essential."
If you'd like to make a contribution to support Project Samana, click here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Preventive Care Plan- It's Not Insurance, It's Better!

Preventive Care Plans

Preventive Care Plans are now available at VACC! Preventive Care Plans are designed to provide your pets with the best preventative care while saving you considerable expense. These plans provide cutting edge proactive care, identifying health problems before they happen – making them easier and often less costly to treat.

Preventive health care is about much more than vaccinations. Proactive care means wellness checkups twice a year – after all – that's like you having a physical exam every two to three years! Even pets that appear totally normal may have underlying health problems that may only be detected with comprehensive physical examination and testing. For instance, the senior preventative care package offered at VACC identifies problems in more than 25% of our patients – pets that were considered completely healthy before testing.

Preventive care in the form of exams, consultations, vaccines, periodontal care and specialty diets helps expand our pet's quality of life. Advances in medicine, nutrition, and diagnostics have led to longer life spans for pets just as they have for us. Making sure your pet receives the exams, vaccinations, and testing they need on a scheduled basis is often key to avoiding costly and debilitating health problems later in life.
That's what makes the Preventative Care Plans so special. A simple monthly payment covers your pet's necessary exams, vaccinations, and if you wish, provides substantial savings on all services such as periodontal care or unforeseen procedures like an ultrasound. Every plan is tailored to the health needs of each individual pet, from 8 week old puppies to 20 year old cats, and everybody in between.

Give us a call at (508) 394-3566, visit our website, or ask at your next visit for more information.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Things to do with Your Dog on Cape Cod (Part 2!)

Cape Cod is a great place to visit with your dog! Last year, we suggested some places to take your dog on the Cape. This year, we thought we'd do it again. Remember to always consider your dog's unique personality- what is fun for some may be very stressful for others. If you'll be staying for more than a day, check out the pet-friendly lodging available on the Cape.

Cape Cod currently has three dog parks with fenced in areas where dogs can run and play off leash:

You and your dog can start off your summer on Cape Cod with one of these fun events:

You can also snuggle with your pooch while you watch the double feature at the Wellfleet Drive-In, take a stroll along the paved Cape Cod Canal Trail in Bourne, or hike through Nickerson State Park in Brewster.
If your dog deserves an extra-special treat (and don't they all) bring him with you to Polar Cave. When you buy some ice cream for yourself, they'll make something special for your pup- vanilla ice cream with a dog cookie on top.

Whatever you choose to do with your dog on the Cape this summer, be sure to bring plenty of water and dog waste bags, as well as any other essentials like food or medications if you'll be away from home for an extended time.
Have a safe and happy summer from everyone at VACC!

Friday, May 3, 2013

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Governor Patrick has declared May to be "Lyme Disease Awareness Month."  Lyme disease can be fatal to dogs, and Cape Cod has one of the worst tick populations in the world. As you can see in the picture below, the ticks that carry Lyme disease are very tiny and can be difficult to find, especially on dogs with long or thick fur.

Here are some tips to help you protect your canine friend from Lyme disease:
  • Use a monthly tick preventive. Ask you veterinarian which preventive is best for your dog.
  • Consider giving your long-haired dog a seasonal trim. Ticks will be easier to see if your dog's hair is cut short.
  • Brush your dog with a fine-toothed comb after prolonged periods outdoors. This can help remove ticks before they have a chance to bite your dog.
  • Make your yard unattractive to ticks. Clean up leaf litter, cut tall grass, and clear away brush. If your yard borders a wooded area, use wood chips or gravel between the woods and your lawn to prevent ticks from traveling into your yard.
  • Have your dog screened for Lyme disease. At VACC, we test our canine patients yearly for Lyme disease (as well as other tick-borne diseases and heartworm) using a simple, in-house blood test. The sooner Lyme disease is diagnosed, the more likely the treatment will be effective.
  • Be aware of the symptoms. Dogs do not get the same characteristic "bull's eye" rash that is seen in humans, and often will show no symptoms of the disease. Generalized pain, change in appetite, sudden lameness in one or multiple limbs, and high fever are all signs of Lyme disease. Symptoms may not appear for 7-21days (or longer) after a tick bite, so be sure to monitor your dog closely in the weeks following a possible encounter with a tick.
  • Remove any embedded ticks right away. Transmission of the disease can happen in just 2 hours, so pull the tick out as soon as you see it. Click here for instructions on how to remove a tick.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Raccoon Rabies Vaccine Baiting

Beginning on April 29th, baits containing rabies vaccines will be left around some Cape Cod towns in an effort to protect the community from raccoon rabies.  The baits are not harmful to pets or humans, but they are made of fishmeal, so they will be attractive to cats and dogs. The baits will be left out in Barnstable and all towns east to Orleans in areas where raccoons are likely to be found, and will be labeled with a warning message and phone number. Again, the baits are not harmful to pets, but you can call the USDA Wildlife Services Rabies Program Coordinator, Brian Bjorklund at (508) 476-2715 (office) or (413) 537-9394 (cell) if you are concerned about an accidental ingestion. The baiting program will go on until May 20th.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Microchipping is a simple procedure that can greatly increase the chances of having your lost pet returned to you.  Here are just a few stories of pets being reunited with their families thanks to the microchip:

George was missing for 13 years before animal control finally contacted his owners with the news that he was found.

Shady ended up 900 miles from her home, but got back to her family thanks to her microchip.

Holly traveled 200 miles before her microchip was scanned by a veterinarian, who was then able to find her family.

If your pet is already microchipped, make sure that all of your contact information is up to date with the microchip company. If your pet is not microchipped, contact your veterinarian, or give us a call at VACC (508) 394-3566. The procedure takes just seconds, and can be done without anesthesia.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month

The Animal Legal Defense Fund's 2012 Animal Protection Laws Rankings is a list of states with the best and worst laws for animals.

According to the list, Massachusetts (ranking at number 15) is one of the better states for animals.
In honor of Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month, here are the top 5 states with the best animal protection laws:

  1. Illinois
  2. Maine
  3. California
  4. Michigan
  5. Oregon

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pet Hospice

Dealing with the loss of a pet is never easy. The days, weeks, or months leading up to the end of a pet's life can be even more difficult. Hospice focuses on keeping your pet as comfortable as possible in his own home during his last days, and gives you the chance to say goodbye.

At VACC, we are here to help you through this difficult time. Whether you need instruction on how to give treatments at home, or advice on the best ways to keep your pet comfortable, we are available.

If you find yourself caring for a terminally ill pet, another great resource is New England Pet Hospice. Their staff are trained in hospice and palliative care, and will come to your home to assist you with the care of your pet. New England Pet Hospice is in the process of expanding to Cape Cod, and they hope to have hands on care for all of the Cape by the end of 2013. If they are not available in your area yet, they do currently have the ability to provide support remotely via phone or email.
In addition to caring for your pet in your home, New England Pet Hospice also has an Interfaith Advisor who can provide grief support, as well as funerals and memorial ceremonies.

Pet hospice is quickly becoming more commonplace. If you live outside of New England and are looking for resources, the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care is a great place to start. There you can find a list of hospice care professionals, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, and more information about hospice.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Caring for a Pet Rabbit

Easter is almost here, and many people will choose to buy a pet rabbit for the holiday. While there are many reasons to avoid bringing a new pet home for Easter, rabbits can make good pets if they are cared for properly.  If you choose to add a rabbit to your family, the best place to get one is from a shelter or rescue.
Rabbits have some very specific needs and can live between 7 and 10 (or more) years. Here are some rabbit care tips to ensure you and your rabbit have a long and happy life together:

  • Have the proper housing. The minimum cage size for rabbits is 2' X 2' X 4', but they do require exercise time outside of the cage every day. Choose a cage with a solid floor, as wire bottomed cages can cause foot problems for your rabbit.
  • Keep your rabbit inside. Rabbits are very social animals, and often do not do well if isolated outdoors. If you have an outdoor exercise area for your rabbit, don't leave her alone even for a few minutes. Most predators can easily get through or around fencing, and the mere presence of a predator can create panic in your rabbit, causing severe injury or even death.
  • Learn how to handle your rabbit. Always lift your rabbit with both hands. By supporting his chest with one hand and his hing legs with the other hand, you will have less chance of injuring your friend.
  • Always supervise children. Rabbits are fragile animals and can be easily injured if they are not held properly.
  • Choose the right diet. Always have fresh water and grass hay available to your rabbit at all times. Your rabbit's diet should also be supplemented with commercial rabbit pellets, dark leafy greens, and vegetables. Don't feed too many pellets. A full grown rabbit should be fed between 1/8 and 1/4 cup per 5 pounds of body weight, per day. 
  • Provide plenty of exercise and attention. Rabbits should have several hours to romp and play and interact with you outside of the cage. This is a good time to brush your rabbit with a soft-bristled brush to remove excess hair. Be sure to bunny-proof any rooms your rabbit will have access to. Protect electrical cords, or any other object your rabbit might try to chew.
  • Have your rabbit spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering reduces the chance of urine spraying, a behavior the rabbit uses to mark its territory. The procedure can also reduce aggression associated with territory, and lessen chewing behavior.
  • Teach your rabbit to use a litter box. Your rabbit will naturally eliminate in the same area of her cage every time. Once you know which spot your rabbit prefers, you can place a litter box there, lined  with newspaper and filled with grass hay or pelleted newspaper litter. Clean the litter box daily, and your rabbit's cage will stay clean longer. Once your rabbit is regularly using her litter box, and you have bunny-proofed the room, you can leave her cage door open to allow her more space to stretch her legs.
If you have a new pet rabbit, one of the vets here at VACC would be happy to look him over to make sure he is in good health! Just give us a call to make an appointment: (508) 394-3566

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is your Pet in Pain?

There are many causes of pain in pets: injury, arthritis, surgery, and disease can all make your pet uncomfortable. Thankfully, these days veterinarians know more about recognizing and managing pain than ever before. 
 If your pet is not interested in going through her normal daily routine, it could be a sign that she is painful. 
 You know your pet better than anyone else, so if you suspect she is in pain, you are probably right.  Although you are the best person to determine that your pet is painful, your veterinarian is the best person to pinpoint the exact cause and to decide the best treatment. Do not give your pet any medications without first consulting with your veterinarian. Human medications like naproxen, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen are toxic to pets, and veterinary medications can also be toxic if the wrong dose is given.
The following are some common signs of pain in cats and dogs:

      Pain in Cats
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Decreased or no grooming behavior
  • Shallow and rapid respiration
  • Eliminating outside the litter box
  • Hiding for long periods
      Pain in Dogs
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Lethargy 
  • Panting excessively while at rest
  • Eliminating inside the house
  • Licking a specific area excessively 
If you suspect your pet is in pain, see your local veterinarian or contact us here at VACC (508) 394 3566.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hops is Toxic to Pets

Home brewed beer is becoming more common.  Unfortunately, this means that incidents of hops toxicity in pets are also on the rise.  Dogs are more likely to eat hops than cats, but it is toxic to both species.  Hops is toxic in all of its forms, including fresh or dried cones, and pellets, but dogs seem to be more likely to eat it after it has been used in the brewing process.  If you or a neighbor grow or brew hops, make sure to keep your dog away from live plants or brewing waste.

Symptoms of hops poisoning include the following:
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Rapid breathing, or panting
  • Racing heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
If you suspect your pet has eaten hops, bring them to VACC or your local veterinarian right away. Be sure to have the number for the Pet Poison Helpline (800.213.6680) in case your pet ingests anything toxic.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Adopt a Shelter Dog!

Some people are reluctant to adopt a dog from a shelter due to the perception that many dogs are left there because of behavioral problems. According to a survey published in the winter 2013 issue of Tufts Veterinary Medicine magazine, this just isn't true. Over 800 animal shelters were surveyed by PetHealth, Inc.  Following are the top reasons people give for leaving their dog at a shelter:
  • The owner died, or has health issues that prevent them from caring for the dog
  • A family member was allergic
  • The dog had puppies that the family can't keep
  • The owner brought the dog to the shelter for euthanasia
  • The owner could no longer afford to take care of the dog
  • The family moved, or changed home insurance and was no longer allowed to keep the dog
  • The dog was a stray
  • The owner simply did not want the dog anymore
  • There were too many pets in the family
If you are thinking of bringing a dog into your family, consider giving a shelter dog a second chance. Millions of dogs are euthanized every year because there are just too many for the shelters to handle. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, you are literally saving its life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dangers of Smoking Near Your Pets

Common sense would tell us that secondhand smoke is dangerous to pets, and now there are several scientific studies that support this idea. Smoking around your pets also creates the possibility that they may ingest the tobacco product, which is highly toxic.

Many dogs have allergies to tobacco smoke, and secondhand smoke can cause asthma in cats.
Cats who live with smokers are more likely to develop oral cancer, also known as squamous cell carcinoma. Smoke gets trapped in your cat's fur and when he grooms himself, the cells in his mouth are exposed to the carcinogens in the smoke. Cats who live with smokers are also more likely to develop malignant lymphoma. Oral squamous cell carcinoma and malignant lymphoma both have a poor prognosis, and most cats do not survive the first year.

Dogs who live with smokers are also in danger. There is a greater risk for them to develop cancer in their nasal passages. Dogs with short noses, like pugs and bulldogs, are more likely to contract lung cancer.
Pet birds are particularly sensitive to any pollutants in the air, and those who live with smokers have a higher incidence of lung cancer and pneumonia. Birds living with smokers can also develop problems of the skin, eyes, and heart.
If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do to protect the health of your pet, your family, and yourself, is to stop smoking. If that is not an option for you, try to restrict your smoking to one pet-free room, or outside. Be sure to keep all tobacco products out of your pet's reach, and throw your butts in the trash so they can't be eaten.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Meet Yaz, Latest Member of the Hero Pet Club!

Our friend Yaz was having chronic skin infections on his abdomen. Even though his skin was obviously very uncomfortable, Yaz never let that stop his tail from wagging! Antibiotics didn't help, and the doctors here at VACC diagnosed him with an immune mediated disorder. Now Yaz is on medication that is helping to clear up his skin infections. As you can see in the pictures below, Yaz's skin is continuing to improve.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winter Foot Care

Winter can be rough on your dog's feet. Here are some easy things you can do to protect them.

  • Booties! The best way to protect your dog's feet from snow, ice, and road salt is to put boots on their feet. Introduce your dog to the boots gradually, and make wearing them a positive experience. Many dogs will learn to tolerate boots once they go outside and realize that their feet feel better.

  • Foot wax. Some dogs will absolutely not tolerate boots. If you apply a small amount of vegetable oil, or a commercially available foot wax before your winter walks, your pet's feet will be protected from the elements. Be sure to use a product that is food grade- your dog will be likely to lick it off and ingest some.
  • Trim that toe hair. Dogs with lots of fur between their toes can develop balls of snow and ice that can be painful to walk on. Simply trimming the hair between the toes can prevent this. Trimming your dog's foot hair can also reduce the amount of salt your dog picks up when walking outside.

  • Wipe your feet! When coming in from a winter walk, clean your dogs feet with some warm water and then wipe with a dry towel. This will remove any salt residue and prevent your dog from ingesting it. You should also be sure to wipe the snow off your own boots. Many dogs love to eat the clumps of snow that fall off of your shoes when you come inside in the winter. This can be a problem if there is salt on your shoes.
  • Moisturize! There are many dog paw moisturizers available. Try to avoid using moisturizers for humans, as these usually aren't made with edible ingredients. Moisturizing your dog's paws in the winter can help prevent painful cracking of the pads.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pet Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but Dr. Burns says, "At VACC, every month is dental health month!"
Why not celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month by training your pet to allow you to brush his teeth?
Brushing your pet's teeth will be most beneficial if they do not already have a lot of plaque built up. If your pet will let you, look in his mouth. If the gums look red or inflamed, or if the teeth are discolored, make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine if dental disease is present. Brushing alone will not remove plaque that has already built up, but it will slow additional build up.

Plaque can be removed with an ultrasonic scaler while your pet is under anesthesia.

How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth
Start by getting your pet comfortable with having his mouth touched. If you have never done this before, GO SLOW! You want this to be a positive experience for everyone involved, and if your pet bites you it defeats the purpose. Massage around your pet's muzzle and gently lift his lips while you talk to him in a soothing voice. Give him some treats when you are done. You may have to do this every day for a few days.
Once your pet has learned that having his mouth touched is a good thing, you can start rubbing his teeth and gums with a piece of gauze or a small cloth.

Use the same reassuring voice, and reward with some treats at the end of each session. The next step is to add some toothpaste. Be sure it is a toothpaste formulated for pets- unlike human toothpaste, pet toothpaste is safe to swallow. It is perfectly fine to continue using the gauze or cloth to clean your pet's teeth, but once they are used to it, you can change to a toothbrush.
Ideally, you should brush your pet's teeth once a day, but once or twice a week is better than not at all.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Microchip Activated Cat Door- Not Just for Outdoor Cats

Owners of indoor/outdoor cats who use a cat door occasionally find unwelcome visitors in their homes.  Standard cat doors allow anyone in- the most common invaders are stray cats and raccoons, but small dogs and other wildlife may enter as well.
Owners of multiple cats often run into the problem of how to keep meals separate when the cats are on different diets.
The SureFlap cat door can be used to solve both of these problems. This door recognizes your cat's microchip and remains locked until your cat gets close enough to use it. Mounted on an exterior door, wall, or window, the door will keep unwanted animals out of your home. If you need to separate your cats' meals, mount the SureFlap on an interior door and only program the microchip number of the cat or cats who will be allowed into that room.

Other electronic pet doors are activated by a chip worn on a collar, which can be easily lost by a cat who goes outdoors. Because your cat's microchip has been implanted permanently under their skin, you won't have to worry about a collar getting snagged or lost.
One important thing to remember is the SureFlap will only allow you to choose which cats enter- any cat can leave through the door. Additionally, some reviews of this door claim that it does not keep raccoons out, so if wildlife is your problem, you may want to consider a different door.

UPDATE: SureFlap will soon be introducing a larger door, suitable for large cats and small dogs, that is also secure against raccoons. Click here to watch the raccoon test!