Presidential Pets

Veterinarian Dr. Mindy Cohan joins Kids Corner host Kathy O'Connell to explore the rich and colorful history of presidential pets!


Once you've listened to part one, click here for part two - as Mindy explores the pets of Presidents Abraham Lincoln up to President Obama!

  • Rabiya Bower, Health At Every Size

    Rabiya Bower, Registered Dietician and regional nutritionist for the GIANT Company, joins Kathy to chat about the HAES approach to good nutrition.

Pet Sounds

Pet Sounds (24)

Thursday, 25 July 2019 21:12

Reasons to Seek Emergency Veterinary Care

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When it comes to making medical decisions regarding dogs and cats, it is always best to be safe rather than sorry. Although an emergency veterinary hospital examination alone can be costly, it is well worth the peace of mind it can provide and it may in fact save your pet’s life. The following situations warrant immediate medical attention.

Changes in breathing

·         rapid or shallow
cats with open mouth breathing 

Check your pet’s gums and look for bluish gray coloration which can indicate poor oxygenation or pale/white gums suggestive of an underlying bleeding problem. 

Bite Wounds, Cuts and Lacerations

Because of the risk of infection, all wounds should be handled immediately by veterinary staff. Some first aid tips include flushing the site with saline or clean water. Apply firm pressure to stop bleeding. Wrap wounds with bandage material, clean socks or towels. Keep pressure on the bleeding site for a minimum of 3 minutes. Removing gauze or other bandage material too quickly will prevent clot formation. 

Limping, Lameness, Fractured Bones

Seek immediate medical attention if your pet has suffered trauma or is suddenly not bearing weight on a leg for unknown reasons. It is important to handle these pets carefully as they are in pain and can inadvertently bite out of fear.

A fractured leg might appear bent at an odd angle, swollen or have a protruding bone. Animals with known or suspected fractures should be transported on boards or supported  with blankets. 

Bleeding (Internal)

·         coughing up blood
bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum
blood in urine or eyes
internal bleeding will often result in pale gums and collapse.

Bites from Insects or Snakes

Insect bites often result in allergic reactions which manifest with:
puffy skin around eyes
swollen ears/face
difficulty breathing (less common)


Since burns are extremely painful, before handling the pet, apply a muzzle. Immediately flush the site with cool water for several minutes. Apply a cold compress to the area before transporting to a veterinarian. Never apply ice directly to the skin!

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV/Bloat)

This life threatening condition often affects dogs that have deep chests. The stomach becomes dilated and rotates out of its normal position, compromising the blood supply to the spleen and stomach, resulting in shock. Dogs with GDV typically have a distended abdomen and retch without producing anything. As their status worsens, they often collapse and need to be carried into the veterinary office. If you suspect GDV, do not delay transport to a veterinary office!


Pets cannot signal choking with the universal sign of a paw lifted to the throat. They might exhibit difficulty breathing, coughing, hacking, pawing at the mouth or a blue-tinged tongue. If your pet can still breathe, try to keep it calm and rush it to a veterinarian. If your pet cannot breathe, examine its mouth for a foreign object. Carefully use your fingers or tweezers to clear the airway. Be careful to not push the object further down the throat!

If you are unable to remove the blockage and your pet is not breathing, place both hands on each side of its rib cage and quickly squeeze your hands together. If your pet has collapsed and is laying on its side, apply pressure to the rib cage with the palm of your hand quickly 3-4 times (as if doing CPR). The application of pressure to your pet’s rib cage will hopefully force air out of the lungs and expel the object from the airway.

Eye Injuries/Problems

Eye issues can turn bad very quickly. It is best to have eye problems checked in a timely manner. Seek veterinary care if you notice:

·         squinting
 pupils of different size
discharge that is greenish-yellow
bulging of the eyes or swelling of the eyes


If your pet has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder and it has an episode that lasts for only 1-2 minutes, it does not warrant an emergency visit. However, status epilepticus is characterized by seizures lasting more than 5 minutes and is considered a life threatening condition.

Anytime your pet has a seizure episode, ensure it is safe by keeping it away from stairs or inflicting harm to itself. If your pet is having multiple episodes within an hour, or is having seizures that are different than the typical pattern, seek veterinary care.


If your dog or cat is not able to walk or use its back legs, take it immediately to a veterinarian. Cats which suddenly cannot use their hindlegs are commonly affected by a life threatening blood clot that affects their aorta and blocks the blood supply to the rear legs. For dogs, the sudden inability to walk is often due to the compression of the spinal cord from a prolapsed intervertebral disc. This condition is not only painful, but can have lasting damage to the spinal cord and requires immediate intervention.

Poison/Toxic Substance

Potential signs of exposure:

·         vomiting
excessive salivation

If you know what your pet ingested, bring the material or container with you to the veterinary office. If you cannot take your pet to a vet immediately, call ASPCA Poison Control 1-888-426-4435. The sooner you take action following a poison exposure, the better the outcome for your pet.


Not all episodes of vomiting warrant a veterinary visit. However, if your pet is very young or old, it is always best to have it examined. If your pet continues to vomit for more than one day, is trying to vomit, but is not producing anything, or is vomiting multiple times in one day, seek veterinary care. Other reasons to seek veterinary care include blood in the vomit, difficulty breathing, concurrent diarrhea, lethargy and refusal to eat or drink.


As with vomiting, not all cases of diarrhea warrant veterinary care. Some can be managed with a bland diet at home. However, if diarrhea is persisting for more than one day, contains blood, or is concurrent with vomiting, lethargy and a poor appetite and refusal to drink, seeking veterinary attention is advised.


Urinary blockages are much more common in male cats and dogs than in females. The inability to pass urine is a life threatening condition. Other reasons to seek veterinary care include blood in the urine and excessive urination. Seeing blood in urine and loss of litter box training and house breaking habits are suggestive of possible bladder stones or infection. A timely, but not emergent veterinary visit is warranted. Excessive urination with no other symptoms can indicate several disease processes, but is not usually indicative of a life threatening problem and is therefore not an emergent situation.

Heat Stroke

·         excessive panting
brick red gums

If your dog is showing signs of heat stroke, immediately spray it with a hose to help cool the body’s temperature. Smaller dogs can be placed in a tub. Use cool water, never place a dog in an ice cold bath. After a quick cooling attempt, rush your dog to a vet for immediate medical attention.

Preventing Heat Stroke:

Never leave pets in a car on hot days, especially when also humid. Temperatures in cars rise quickly to deadly levels.

Provide plenty of water and shade on warm days.

Be careful with guinea pigs, they are prone to heat stroke

Certain dog breeds are also prone to heat stroke (bull dogs, pugs, boxers, Boston terriers)

Walk your dog first thing in the morning and after the sun has set. Never exercise your pet from 10 am to 3 pm when it is the hottest.




Monday, 17 June 2019 17:08

Fireworks, Water Safety, Traveling

Many people question my patriotism when they hear me say, “I’m dreading the 4th of July.” As a history buff, the day does have sad undertones when you consider that both presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams passed on July 4, 1826 (25 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence). It is, however, the association with fireworks that causes my dread of this American holiday. Fireworks are extremely frightening not just for my dog Jem, but affect nearly half of all dogs. Cats can also be fearful of loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, construction and backfires, but are less affected than dogs.

Thunderstorms are different than other events merely associated with noise. Dogs often become fearful before the storm arrives.  Dogs begin to react when they sense a change in the barometric pressure or when they hear and see rain and wind. Both thunder and lightning associated with storms can dramatically affect dogs. Surprisingly, not all dogs with storm phobias are affected by loud noises and not all dogs afraid of loud noises are sensitive to storms.

Noise phobias are not only stressful for the afflicted dog or cat, they can be very unsettling for the pet parent. Watching your pet in emotional distress is heart breaking. Pet owners often feel helpless when it comes to comforting an upset dog or cat. Common symptoms of noise phobia include:

  • Shaking/trembling
    Destructive behavior

Some dogs will show subtler signs such as lip licking, yawning, or just remaining stationary out of fear.

If your dog or cat is very fearful of loud noises or storms, consult your pet’s veterinarian. Suggestions can be offered to help minimize your pet’s anxiety. One strategy is avoidance. By avoiding the offensive stimulus, your pet will have nothing to fear. However, since we cannot control the weather, avoid neighbors who light fireworks, or prevent local construction, this is easier said than done.

As pet owners, we can take measures to minimize our pet’s fear. For example, when fireworks or storms are expected, keep your pets inside and play the television or radio at a loud volume to drown out the offending noise. Some dogs can be distracted by providing a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. Allow your pet to hide wherever it feels comfortable. Never scold a pet or try to make it leave a secure hiding location! Many dogs seek shelter in bathrooms and specifically bathtubs.

During storms or fireworks, try to engage your dog in a playful game or obedience skill to redirect its focus. Nonprescription medications can be tried. There are pheromone products such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats that can be helpful. These products mimic the natural chemicals released by a nursing mother dog or cat and provide a sense of calm for pets. “Rescue Remedy” is a natural product that can also create a calming effect for stressed pets. A “Thunder Shirt” is a snuggly fitting coat that “hugs” the pet and gives a sense of security.

If non-medication products do not provide enough stress relief, a veterinarian should be consulted to discuss medications for your anxious pet. There are many different medications that can be tried, but not all can resolve noise phobias. Some pets benefit from a multimodal approach. Finding the solution to a pet’s anxiety requires time and patience and often the best plan is discovered by trial and error.

Summer Vacation Travel with Your Dog

Within recent years, dogs have enjoyed an elevated status as members of the family. It is only natural that they be included on family vacations. If you plan to bring your furry companion on a family trip, there are many considerations.  

Before hitting the road:

·       Be sure your pet is comfortable in car (not anxious, not prone to car sickness).

·       Seat covers protect car fabric and prevent dog from slipping.

·       Safety harness or travel carriers help to secure dog in case of sudden stops or accidents.

·       Keep cats in carrier for their safety as well as preventing driver from being distracted.

·       If feeding ahead of time, provide a very small meal.

·       Do not allow dog to stick head out of window - particles can get into eyes, other flying objects could be dangerous

 Items to pack:

·       regular food, treats, dishes, bed, toys, fresh water

·       leash or harness

·       medications (heartworm preventative, flea/tick medications, seizure medication, other important daily medicine)

·       bland food and medications in case pet has a sensitive stomach (consult your dog’s veterinarian)

·       research phone numbers of local vets, emergency clinics in case needed

·       Bring number for ASPCA Poison Control 1-888-426-4435

·       be sure pet has ID tag with cell phone number, temporary ID tags can be made with address of where you are vacationing

·       recent photo of pet (in case it gets lost)

·       proof of vaccines and medical records

·       grooming supplies (shampoo, brush)

·       carpet cleaning product in case of accidents

·       poop bags

First Aid Kits are recommended:

bandages, Telfa pads, gauze, triple antibiotic ointment styptic powder for broken nails digital thermometer and lubricating jelly hydrogen peroxide /saline solution for cleaning wounds


Travel plans can be very exciting and it may be easy to become distracted from making the necessary arrangements for pets prior to your vacation. Be sure to make arrangements for pets to be taken care of in your home, to stay with a friend, or to stay at a boarding facility. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!   BOARDING KENNELS BOOK UP QUICKLY AT HOLIDAY TIMES AND IN THE SUMMER MONTHS.   MAKE SURE YOUR PET SITTER WILL BE AVAILABLE WHILE YOU PLAN TO BE ON VACATION.

If leaving a pet at home, be sure to choose a reliable pet sitter.

Make sure he/she is well acquainted with your pets   

Leave a written list of instructions for sitter.  

- note amount of food to be fed, normal feeding times, number of treats/snacks

- note how often and at what times dog goes out to go to the bathroom

- note any common problems to monitor (cat with urinary problems, pets with seizures, arthritis, diarrhea, etc)

If leaving pets in kennel:

• Get referrals to make sure facility is reputable.

• Make sure that if kennel is not affiliated with vet hospital, they will be able to provide medical care in case of emergency.

• Make a scheduled and surprise visit to kennel to evaluate

• Bring pet’s favorite toys, blankets, and regular food to avoid likelihood of vomiting or diarrhea

Whether leaving pet with sitter or in kennel, ALWAYS LEAVE EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS

GIVE PET SITTER CONSENT TO APPROVE MEDICAL TREATMENT IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.   You can call vet office to let them know pet sitter has authority to okay any treatment needed. You can even leave credit card number on file.







Water Safety

Although many breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Portuguese Water Dogs seem to have a natural affinity for water and the ability to swim, not all dogs like water. Many cannot swim and are at risk for drowning. During the warmer months, extra precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of dogs around pools, lakes and the ocean.

Never assume that your dog can swim, even if it is a breed known for its swimming prowess. Always test your dog first in shallow water. This will enable you to assess both your dog’s comfort and skills in the water. Never force your dog into water if he/she is afraid!

Even if your dog is an experienced swimmer, never let your dog swim unattended. Dogs do not realize when they are becoming tired and might not have enough energy to swim safely out of the water. Always fit your dog with a life vest when taking it on a boat (this includes kayak or canoe).


All pools should be surrounded by a fence. This will ensure that both dogs and small children cannot fall in when unattended.  Be sure your pool cover is secure and does not retain water.  Teach your dog where the exit steps are located and practice having your dog exit the pool at the steps.    Pool chemicals can be irritating to the skin of some dogs, so rinse these pets off with a hose or in a tub after a swim. 


Discourage your dog from drinking salt water.  Bring fresh water to keep your pup well hydrated. If there are warning of strong riptides or sea pests that sting, keep your  dog out of the water.  While sea glass is an exciting find and is dull and polished, be careful of fresh, sharp glass fragments which can cause cuts to dogs’ paws.   Some dogs love to eat smelly, gross things like rotting fish. Keep a close watch on your dog to avoid the ingestion of beach items that will later cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Thursday, 25 April 2019 21:35

Fleas, Ticks and Heartworm

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Fleas, Ticks and Heartworm



The arrival of spring brings many beautiful flowers and blossoms on the trees. Unfortunately, the warm weather also beckons the emergence of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. These insects pose health risks to people as well as dogs and cats. 

• Fleas suck blood from pets and can cause anemia, a decrease in the body’s red blood cell count.

• When a flea takes a blood meal, flea saliva is transferred into the host’s body. It is the flea saliva that causes an allergic response and severe itchiness experienced by some dogs and cats. 

• Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to dogs and cats and cause feline infectious anemia. 


Ticks also carry several infectious diseases that pose a threat to pets. 

• Lyme disease is the most common illness transmitted by ticks. 

• Dogs are most commonly affected by Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterial agent that causes Lyme disease, but cats, cattle and horses can also be affected.

• People can become very ill from Lyme disease.

• Lyme disease is very common in our area and the northeastern United States. It is also found in Wisconsin, Minnesota and parts of California. A recently  published study has shown the spread of Lyme disease in states previously at lower risk such as Illinois, Iowa, Virginia, Ohio and Michigan.  Patterns of Lyme infection in dogs serves as an important warning system for people. 

• Animals such as the white footed mouse and white tailed deer carry Borrelia burgdorferi, but do not become ill. 

• When a tick feeds on these wildlife, it picks up the bacteria. The tick then bites a dog or person and transmits the bacteria. 

• The tick must be attached for at least 24 hours in order to pass the bacteria. 

• Dogs cannot pass Lyme disease to people or other dogs; only ticks can transmit the disease.

• If your dog tests positive for Lyme disease, family members should consult their doctors since both the family and dog share the same environment

• Once a dog is bitten by a tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, it becomes “Lyme positive.” This does not mean it has Lyme disease, just that there has been exposure indicated by a blood test. 

• From the time a dog is exposed to the Lyme agent, it can take several months before any symptoms are seen. 

The typical clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs include:

• Lameness

• Swollen joints

• Fever

• Lethargy/depression

• Decreased appetite

The good news is that most dogs exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi do not develop Lyme disease. It is also favorable that dogs symptomatic for Lyme disease recover very quickly once antibiotics are started. There is a small percentage of dogs, however, that have persistent joint problems or suffer kidney damage related to Lyme disease. 

Besides Lyme disease, ticks can also cause diseases such as Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases cause similar symptoms to Lyme and are also treated with antibiotics. 


According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, the incidence of tick borne disease in dogs is rising. The incidence of heart worm disease in the U.S. is also on the rise with a 21% increase in reported cases in the past 3 years.

Heart worm disease is transmitted by a different vector, the mosquito. 

• It can affect both dogs and cats, but it is seen more commonly in dogs. 

• Heartworms have also been identified in ferrets, wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions, and rarely in people.

• When a mosquito takes a blood meal from a dog, the immature form of the worm enters the dog’s skin. 

• Over about 6 months, the worm matures and will then mate and produce more worms. 

• The immature offspring called microfilaria circulate in the dog’s blood vessels. When a mosquito takes a blood meal, it will pick up the microfilaria and can infect other animals.

• Like Lyme disease, a dog with heartworm cannot pass it to another dog. It can however serve as a host for mosquitoes to pick up the microfilaria and spread heartworm.

• The adult worms live in the heart and nearby blood vessels. As the number of worms increases, the damage to the heart and lungs becomes worse. 

• The common symptoms are coughing, decreased ability or willingness to exercise, decreased appetite and resulting weight loss. 

• As the disease progresses, dogs will experience heart failure and another life threatening problem called caval syndrome. Caval syndrome requires immediate medical attention and is treated by literally removing the worms from within the patient’s heart. This is a dangerous procedure with many risks. 

• Unlike dogs, cats are atypical hosts for heartworm, so the worms are not as likely to develop into adults.

• Cats do not develop as many worms as dogs, but just a few heartworms in a cat can cause significant health problems.  

• Cats will show similar symptoms such as coughing, poor appetite, weight loss and sometimes vomiting. 

• Cats can also show signs of heart failure such as difficulty breathing and fluid in the abdomen. 

• Heartworm disease is diagnosed with a blood test. 

• There is a treatment available for dogs, but this harsh medication is not safe to use in heartworm positive cats. 

• Because there is no treatment for cats and the treatment for dogs can have serious side effects, prevention of heartworm disease is best. 

• Heartworm can be prevented by giving your pet a medication on a monthly basis. Year round prevention is recommended, even in cold climate areas. Heartworm has been identified in all 50 states.

• Many heartworm preventatives also help to prevent intestinal parasites and fleas, so there are multiple benefits. 

The American Heartworm Society recommends giving your pet heartworm preventative 12 months a year and to have a test done every 12 months.

It is a lot cheaper to prevent heartworm disease than to treat it!

For more information on heartworm disease and a cool video, visit


For more information on Lyme disease and a great podcast, visit



Thursday, 25 April 2019 21:22

Pets and Vaccines

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Pets and Vaccines

Pets and Vaccines

What is a vaccine? A substance used to provide immunity against one or several diseases. It essentially teaches your body how to fight off infections. I just had Jem to the vet today for his annual vaccines. Let’s talk about how both kids and pets hate to get “shots” but why they are important. I wanted to address the controversy of parents refusing vaccines for their kids and how vaccines have become questionable in recent years. It is also the case for pets. I want to address the pros and cons of vaccines for pets.

Reasons why pet parents may not want to have their pets vaccinated:

1) Pet does not go outside

• Pet might go to groomer

• Pet might go to pet store

• Pet travels to vet

• Pet can unexpectedly escape from home and be exposed to wildlife outside

• Wild animals such as bats and raccoons which carry rabies can enter home

2) My pet was vaccinated and become sick anyway

Not all vaccines provide 100% immunity. Some will help to minimize the symptoms and    shorten the course of the illness.

3) The risk of tumor formation at the vaccine site in cats

• The risk is thought to be 1/10,000

• Veterinarians now administer vaccines in distal limbs so that the problem can be identified and managed. 

• When a link was established between a substance added to vaccines called an adjuvant, non-adjuvant containing vaccines were created. 

4) Adverse Reactions

An adverse reaction is an undesirable occurrence associated with the use of a medical product. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict which pet might experience an adverse reaction to a vaccine. It is always recommended to schedule your pet for vaccines when you are able to be home and monitor it afterwards.

Reactions can vary from mild to severe. It is best to aware of what can happen and what signs to watch for.

Mild: achiness, sleepiness, local inflammation, pain

Moderate: hives, face swelling

Severe: auto-immune disorders (delayed), collapse, shock (immediate)

Puppies and kittens need to be vaccinated every 2-4 weeks from 6 to 16 weeks of age. 

Puppies and kittens receive immunity from their mothers, but over time, it this protection becomes less effective. That is why it is important for young pets to visit the vet often to receive vaccine boosters to ensure proper immunity against infectious diseases.

Not all vaccines are considered mandatory for each pet. The vaccines considered important for all pets are called “core” and those that are optional are called “non-core” vaccines. When deciding what is right for your pet, it is best to discuss this with your veterinarian. 

Canine Core Vaccines

• Rabies

• Canine distemper (affects respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems) Can be found in wildlife such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, racoons, skunks, ferrets, seals, lions, and tigers.

• Canine adenovirus (infectious canine hepatitis) also found in foxes, coyotes, wolves

• Canine parvovirus (gastrointestinal tract)

Canine Non-Core Vaccines

• Bordatella (Kennel cough)

• Lyme 

• Leptospirosis

• Parainfluenza virus (canine flu)

As to whether your dog should receive these non-core vaccines depends on its lifestyle

Hiking vs. house dog

Pet sitter vs. kennel

Where you live such as city vs. rural area

Feline Core Vaccines

• Rabies

• Feline viral rhinotracheitis (upper respiratory)

• Calicivirus (upper respiratory)

• Panleukopenia, also called feline distemper/parvo – caused by the feline parvovirus, like canine parvo, it attacks rapidly dividing cells such as those in the bone marrow and intestines

Feline Non-Core Vaccines

Feline Leukemia virus – must test cat first to ensure it is negative

Feline immunodeficiency virus – feline AIDS

Feline leukemia virus can be transmitted through close contact. It should be considered for cats going spending time outdoors or cats which test negative for leukemia which are living in homes with cats which have tested positive for the virus. 

While other non-core feline vaccines are available, they are not commonly used or highly recommended.

Vaccine Titers

Pet owners who are looking to minimize vaccines for their dogs may opt to have their vet draw blood to measure antibody levels to determine whether they still have protection against a certain disease. Titers are not offered by all veterinary offices and are still considered controversial. Some veterinarians opt to give vaccines every 3 years as opposed to yearly. 


Thursday, 25 October 2018 20:50

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

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Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Although Alzheimer’s Disease receives a lot of media attention, its counterpart in animals is relatively unknown. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) in dogs and cats is likened to dementia seen in people. Studies have shown that there are many similarities between the anatomical brain changes in older pets and people.  

Understanding the changes that pets undergo is important because many of the behaviors that occur with CDS can be frustrating for pet parents. Knowing that the pet is not at fault will help families to be more patient and sympathetic. If veterinarians fail to discuss the symptoms of CDS with pet parents, the associated problems may be ignored and merely attributed to “old age.” If recognized in the early stages, treatment options are available to slow the progression of decline.

The primary symptoms of CDS are represented by the acronym DISH (Disorientation, Interaction declines, Sleep-wake disturbances, Housetraining lapses).  Both cats and dogs can develop CDS.


·         Aimlessly wanders

·         Gets stuck in corners, behind furniture

·         Stares into space

·         Fails to recognize familiar people

·         Appears lost or confused in house or yard

·         Seems to forget reason for going outside (to pee and poop)

Interaction declines:

·         Seeks less attention

·         Fails to greet family when they return home

·         Decreased interest in petting

·         Less interaction with other household pets

·         Decreased interest in food/play

Sleep-wake disturbances:

·         Sleeping more in a 24 hour day

·         Sleeping less, restless at night

·         Wandering/pacing throughout day

·         Housetraining

·         Peeing and pooping indoors

·         Decrease or loss of signaling to go out

·         Going outside, then returns and eliminates in house

·         Pees and/or poops in view of family


Although CDS cannot be cured, there are measures that pet owners can take to help their geriatric dogs and cats.   Medications to boost dopamine levels in dogs have been shown to be helpful.  For both dogs and cats, antioxidant and neuroprotective agents can be used.   It is important to avoid environmental changes that can exacerbate pets’ confusion and anxiety.   Try to keep regimented schedules for pets.  Provide a safe and comfortable area that allows easy access to litter boxes and food and water.    

Most importantly, be patient with your pet.  It is easy to become frustrated by your pet’s personality changes and accidents in the house.   Bear in mind that they are not at fault and continue to provide them with love and support.

If you notice changes suggestive of CDS in your pet, seek your veterinarian’s advice.   A physical exam and tests can help to rule out other underlying problems.   Your veterinarian can also make specific recommendations to help your pet cope with CDS.


Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is a holiday that is meant to be fun whether you are 8 or 80.   Although we may enjoy being frightened by ghosts and goblins during this holiday season, dogs and cats do not share this sentiment.   Halloween poses many dangers to pets.  The two main concerns involve pets becoming lost or injured and toxicity from sweets.   The following tips should help ensure a fun and safe holiday:

·         Be sure that all candy, especially chocolate is kept safely out of reach.  Chocolate is toxic to pets and can cause hyperactivity and seizures.

  • Candies containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol, can be deadly to dogs.
  • While pumpkins and gourds are not toxic to dogs, if large amounts or pieces are consumed, serious stomach and intestinal upset can occur.
  • Electric cords and candles pose the risk of burns and fires.  
  • If wearing a costume is stressful for your pet, please avoid inflicting this humiliation.
  • If your pet does not mind wearing a costume, make sure there are no parts that will constrict blood flow or breathing.   Avoid a costume that can impair the pet’s vision or hearing.
  • Keep all pets confined before visitors arrive.   An open door can be an invitation for a frightened pet to escape.  Confinement will also prevent nervous dogs from biting costumed visitors.
  • NEVER leave pets in the yard on Halloween.
  • To avoid lost pets, be sure they are wearing proper identification tags and maintain current microchip information.




Tuesday, 26 June 2018 16:35

More Summer Pet Precautions

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Heat Stroke

  • Never leave pets in car on hot and humid days, temperatures rise quickly to deadly levels
  • Provide plenty of water and shade for pets on warm days
  • Be very careful with guinea pigs, they are prone to heat stroke
  • Certain dog breeds are also prone to heat stroke: bull dogs, pugs, boxers, Boston terriers
  • Walk your dog first thing in the morning or after the sun has set.   Never exercise your dog from 10 am to 3 pm on hot and humid days.

Signs of heat stroke... 

  • excessive panting
  • weakness
  • collapse
  • brick red mucous membranes (gums)
  •  seizures 

If your dog is showing signs of heat stroke, immediately spray it with a hose to help cool the body’s temperature.   Smaller dogs can be placed in a tub.  Use cool water, never place a dog in an ice cold bath.  After a quick cooling attempt, rush your dog to a veterinarian immediately for medical care. 


Pets with light skin, short coats or those which have been shaved to keep cool during the summer months are more prone to damage from the sun’s rays. It is also important to protect pets who may have had areas shaved for surgeries, hotspots etc.  Use sunscreen labeled safe for pets.  If using human sunscreen, be sure it does not have an ingestion warning as these products can be harmful if licked by dogs and cats.  Use products with SPF of 15 or higher and with UVA and UVB protection 

Picnic/Party Safety

  • Typical picnic food is not particularly healthy for people. It is certainly not meant for dogs!
  • High fat foods such as hot dogs and potato chips can cause life-threatening pancreatitis. 
  • Ribs and chicken bones can be very dangerous if ingested.
  •  S’mores are a campfire favorite. Be sure to keep chocolate away from dogs.
  • Be sure that adults drinking alcoholic beverages do not leave them accessible to dogs
  • Keep pets away from bar-b-que flames to avoid dangerous burns 

July 4th

  • Fireworks can be very scary for dogs!
  • DO NOT TAKE DOGS TO FIREWORK DISPLAYS- frightened dogs can break their collars or leashes when panicked and escape.
  • If your dog has been fearful in the past when fireworks are heard, take precautions this year.
  • Dogs that are a danger to themselves or become panicked might benefit from medication.  Talk to your veterinarian about calming options. 
  • Always test the medication beforehand rather than waiting until the night of July 4th.
  • If fireworks are to be displayed near your home, consider moving your dog to a friend’s house that will be quieter. 

Car Accidents 

  • Be sure dogs are kept on a leash at all times to avoid car trauma
  • Be sure electric fence collars are working properly and that yards with fences are secure, keep gates latched at all times.
  • Keep cats inside, especially when it is dark outside.   Use reflective or flashing collars.  
  • There are more wild animals (squirrels, deer, chipmunks) and scary noises (fireworks, thunder) during the summer months to frighten dogs and cause them to run away from family members.


  • Dogs can become so panicked, they hurt themselves (chewing on crate to escape, etc)
  • Tranquilizers may be needed from a veterinarian to help relax a very stressed dog
  • Dogs perceive thunderstorms sooner than people.   Be sure to medicate your dog several hours in advance of the storm.  
  • Some dogs require daily medications in case of unanticipated storms
  • Thundershirts are helpful in relaxing stressed dogs.
  • Close curtains, turn up television or radio to mask sound of thunder.
  • Allow dog to hide in its comfortable spot (under bed, in bathroom, in closet) 

Insect Bites

  • Mosquitoes – carry heartworm disease which can be deadly in dogs, cats and ferrets
  • Fleas – suck blood to survive; pet can lose a lot of blood and become very sick and weak;  carry tapeworms and blood parasites
  • Ticks – transmit many serious diseases including Lyme disease to both pets and people
  • Bees – pets can have an allergic reaction to bites, the pet’s face can become swollen and it may develop hives 

Gastrointestinal obstructions

Peach pits and corn cobs are appealing to dogs. If swallowed, these items often become stuck in the dog’s stomach or intestines. Surgery will then be needed to remove the foreign object. 

Fishing/Water Safety

  • Fishing hooks must be kept in closed containers so dogs and cats cannot reach them
  • If your pet is stuck by a fish hook, take it to a veterinarian immediately.  Pets often need to be sedated for proper removal
  • Dogs in streams can cut their pads on sharp rocks or glass.   Monitor your dog to make sure it is not bleeding.
  • Life jackets should be worn by all dogs on boats or those swimming in the ocean
  •  Not all dogs can swim.   Always supervise your dog around water.   Make sure it cannot fall into a swimming pool. 

Outdoor cat dangers

  • Chance of being hit by a car
  • Exposure to poison such as antifreeze, toxic plants (lilies are very toxic) and fertilizer
  • Cat fights and bite wound infections
  • Exposure to deadly viruses (feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency, feline infectious peritonitis)
  • drowning



Thursday, 22 February 2018 21:32

Adopting a New Pet

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Considerations Before Adopting a New Pet

1. Is anyone in the home allergic to animals?

2. Caring for a pet can be expensive. Can the family afford to provide food, supplies and medical care for the pet?

3. Some pets can live to be 15 years or more. Are you ready to commit to the care of a pet for many years?

4. Pets require daily care (feeding, walking, cleaning litter boxes, grooming, etc.) Do you have the time to devote to proper care of the pet?

5. If your family travels a lot, be ready to make arrangements for the pet to have care while you are on vacation. This can be expensive.

6. Some apartment and condominium buildings have rules regarding pet ownership. Be sure that pets are permitted where you live.

7. Behavioral problems are the basis for the majority of pets which are returned to shelters. Are you willing to commit to obedience training for dogs and the investment of time when behavioral problems arise in both dogs and cats?

8. If you already own a pet, how will it react to a new addition to the family? Before you choose a particular dog breed, do your research. An 8 pound puppy may grow up to be over 100 pounds when it is fully grown. Certain breeds are not particularly good with children. Some breeds are prone to a variety of medical problems and could need costly veterinary care. Some dogs such as Border Collies and Jack Russell Terriers are very energetic and require hours of exercise each day. Just because reptiles (iguanas, snakes) are kept in cages, does not mean their care is simple and easy. These pets require a lot of special care regarding diet and a specially designed environment. Before getting one of these pets, buy books, or research them at the library or on the internet.

Please give the decision of acquiring a pet a lot of thought. Getting a new pet should never be done on a whim and is something no one should regret. Many people think that giving a pet as a gift is a wonderful idea. Never give an animal as a gift without asking the intended recipient first. Giving someone a surprise gift can be nice, but it should never be a pet.

Wednesday, 08 November 2017 20:10

Holiday Safety Tips

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Holiday Safety Tips


Thanksgiving Tips

• Ask guests to please avoid feeding table food to pets.  Fatty foods are particularly dangerous and can cause a serious condition known as pancreatitis.
• Never leave kitchen trash bags unsupervised! Dogs and cats will become very ill if they eat bones or other items in the trash.
• Keep pets confined while guests arrive and depart to avoid escapes from the house.
• Be sure that all pets have proper identification tags or microchips.

Christmas tree safety

NO TINSEL! - If swallowed by dog or cat, tinsel and ribbons can cause severe damage to intestines and possible death.

• keep tree well watered so needles do not become dry and create a fire hazard
• use safety approved lights
• always turn off lights when leaving home
• tree fertilizer added to water can be toxic if ingested by pets
• be sure that tree ornaments are well secured so they cannot fall onto floor and be consumed (some dogs will even eat glass ornaments)
• do not leave wrapped food items under tree, dogs will be able to smell food and will ravage the package
• exposed electrical cords, if chewed, are very dangerous to puppies, kittens, rabbits

Hanukkah Safety Tips 

• Supervise Hanukkah and other holiday candles while they burn.
• Be sure to keep open flames out of cats’ reach.
• Latkes are very greasy and can cause pancreatitis in dogs.

Harmful Foods

• theobromine is the toxic agent found in chocolate, it affects the body similarly to caffeine
• baker’s chocolate (bittersweet) is the most dangerous, “white” chocolate does not contain cocoa powder and is therefore not as dangerous except to cause vomiting and diarrhea
• the onset of effects can be seen from 4-24 hours after ingestion
• signs of chocolate toxicity include: vomiting, tender abdomen, hyperactivity, seizures and death are possible 
• If your dog eats chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately!
• Other food items that are unsafe for dogs include raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, and garlic. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugarless gum and baked goods can be fatal if ingested by dogs.

Toy Safety

Who can’t resist buying your furry friend a new toy for the holidays? Choose toys wisely! Avoid gifts that can be destroyed and ingested if your dog is prone to dismantling stuffed toys. Stuffing, squeakers and other toy components can lead to obstructions if ingested.  Although cats love to play and chase ribbon and string, if ingested, these materials can be very dangerous.  Be particularly careful to put away ribbon used for wrapping gifts.

Plant Safety

Holly and mistletoe can both cause severe gastrointestinal upset.  If you must hang mistletoe, be sure it is out of pets’ reach and well secured.  Poinsettia plants are mildly toxic and can cause vomiting and drooling, so keep these out of reach.  If you have cats and receive a holiday bouquet with lilies, do not keep them in the house.   A mere nibble on a lily plant can cause severe kidney damage to cats.

If your pet has ingested something toxic, call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Hotline at (855)764-7661. Both have operators available everyday of the year, 24 hours a day.  There is a consultation fee, but it is well worth the life of your pet.

Gift Ideas for Pets

The gift of health and a long life are top recommendations for your pet. At least 40 % of dogs and cats in the US are overweight.  Health problems related to obesity include diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, and arthritis (joint pain).  Providing exercise, a nutritious and healthy diet, and healthy treats for dogs and cats is a better way of showing your love compared to feeding table food and fattening snacks. Many dogs enjoy carrots, apples, canned pumpkin and green beans. Indoor cats are at high risk for being overweight since they spend most of the day sleeping and eating. Feeding measured amounts of food is better than continuously filling a food bowl.  Provide interactive toys to get your cat moving off the sofa.   

• Pawprints ornament – kits are available to create a lasting imprint of your pet’s foot
• New beds for dogs or window sill perches for cats
• Comfortable traveling carriers for small dogs or cats
• Homemade dog treat kits or recipe book
• Toys
• New collar, leash or harness


Monday, 31 July 2017 16:30

Thyroid Disease in Dogs and Cats

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Dogs and cats share many similarities, but not in the case of thyroid disease. While cats are typically affected by overactive thyroid glands (hyperthyroidism), dogs suffer from a lack of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). People, on the other hand, can be affected by both underactive and overactive thyroid glands. The thyroid glands form the shape of a butterfly and are situated in the neck on either side of the trachea (windpipe). The glands are part of the body’s endocrine system, and are therefore important in the production of hormones. The glands are controlled, in turn, by yet another hormone released from the pituitary gland which sits beneath the brain.

With an understanding of the many important physiologic functions of thyroid hormones, one can easily understand the many problems that occur when the hormone levels become unbalanced. The main function of the thyroid gland is to regulate the body’s metabolism, or how it uses energy. It plays a role in regulating heat rate, breathing, body weight, the nervous system, and body temperature.

When too little thyroid hormone is produced, dogs will exhibit symptoms such as:

·       Lethargy

·       Dull hair coat and hair loss

·       Weight gain

·       Scaly skin and skin infections

·       Mental dullness

Hypothyroidism is seen more commonly in medium and large sized dogs. Certain dog breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Boxers, Dachshunds, miniature Schnauzers and Irish Setters are predisposed.

When too much thyroid hormone is produced, cats will exhibit symptoms such as

·       Weight loss

·       Increased appetite

·       Increased thirst

·       Vomiting and diarrhea

·       High blood pressure

Hyperthyroidism is typically diagnosed in senior cats with an average age at diagnosis of 13 years. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are diagnosed based upon blood test results. Dogs with hypothyroidism are managed with medication. Once treatment has been initiated, periodic blood tests are necessary to determine if any medication adjustments are needed.

When it comes to treating hyperthyroid cats, more options are available. Surgery to remove the benign thyroid tumors is still an option, but not commonly pursued. Cat owners are more likely to choose medication or radiotherapy. Medication must be given for the remainder of the cat’s life and, like dogs, periodic blood work will be needed to monitor thyroid hormone levels. Treatment with radioactive iodine (Iodine 131) requires an initial evaluation to determine the cat’s candidacy for the procedure, a stay of 3-4 days at a veterinary specialty facility, and special precautions once the cat returns home.

Both feline hyperthyroidism and canine hypothyroidism are easily diagnosed and readily manageable. If you notice your pet displaying the typical symptoms of either condition, contact your veterinarian for a consult appointment and blood testing.


The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association sponsor national “Check the Chip” day every August. Studies have shown that dogs, which become lost, are 30 percent more likely to be reunited with their family if they have a microchip. Cats with microchips are almost 40 percent more likely to be returned to their home. Although microchips do not locate lost pets like a GPS collar, they are important in proving pet ownership and providing identification if collars and I.D. tags are lost.

For more information, go to www.avma.org/checkthechip

If you need help determining where your pet is registered, go to www.petmicrochiplookup.org





Tuesday, 25 July 2017 21:24

Dangerous Foods for Pets

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Many pet owners have become aware of the various food items that pose a danger to dogs and cats. The following items can cause serious and life threatening illness:

·         Chocolate
·         Coffee
·         Grapes and raisins
·         Macadamia nuts
·         Alcoholic beverages
·         Onions, garlic
·         Xylitol

It is important to realize that other foods, although not labeled “toxic” can still pose a serious threat to pets. During the summer months, pets have increased exposure to dangerous foods while families host or attend parties and bar-b-ques. The following items must be kept out of reach from pets:

·         Corn on the cob (obstruction)
·         Peach and cherry pits (obstruction)
·         Baked goods containing xylitol (low blood sugar, liver failure)
·         Fatty foods such as hotdogs, hamburgers and ham (pancreatitis)
·         Ribs, chicken wings, steak bones (damage to stomach, intestines)
·         Guacamole (vomiting, diarrhea, anemia)


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