With Fleas and Ticks, Don’t Take Any Risks!

flea & tickThe birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and spring is finally here! As much as we love this weather, we pet owners need to remember that fleas and ticks do too. While we are out and about stretching our winter legs it is important to remember we still need to protect our pets from the dangers the warm weather brings. With ample opportunity to latch on, ticks are able to transmit disease to animals just as they would to humans. The most common diseases that ticks can spread are lyme disease, anaplasma and ehrlichia. In order to screen for these diseases, there is a small blood test that can be performed by your veterinarian.

Regardless of which product you chose to protect your pet we advocate that you do so year round given the irregularity in our seasons. A popular brand of flea and tick prevention is Frontline Plus. Despite popular belief, this is not considered a repellent. In order for Frontline Plus to do its job, the fleas or ticks must make contact with the treated animal before dying, so after applying, don’t be alarmed if you are still finding them on your pet. If you and your pet are active, enjoy hiking and visiting the dog park, we encourage you to consult your veterinarian about the lyme vaccine.

Consider all of your options with regards to keeping your pet protected and don’t hesitate to call your veterinary clinic for advice. Remember, as the warm weather is arriving and the green grass is growing, it’s the most important time of the year to keep your best friend covered!

Feline Focus: Keeping Your Cat Fit & Healthy

Beyla, currently available for adoption, will need to start a weight loss program in her new home.

Beyla, currently available for adoption, will need to start a weight loss program in her new home.

Chubby kitties might look cute, but those extra pounds can be a serious health risk for your cat, putting them at risk for dangers such as diabetes, fur matting, osteoarthritis, and respiratory issues, among others. But don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your cat healthy and active and help them to shed the extra pounds!

1. Don’t Overfeed
Some cats are great grazers, while others don’t have the ability to regulate their own food intake. A cat in the wild would first have to hunt and kill its food, which takes time and energy. But for our spoiled pets, it’s up to us to regulate their diet. You can start by reading the recommended portions from your food brand. Even if your cat grazes throughout the day, you should not put down more than a day’s serving at a time. If you have multiple cats that can’t share, try feeding them in separate rooms with the door closed during designated meal times. Also limit the number of treats you give each day. Save them as a special reward for when your cat does something good (like staying still for nail trimming or after a long snuggle session)!

2. Exercise Your Cat, Physically & Mentally
If your cat is constantly crying for food (and you’re feeding them plenty), then chances are they’re not actually hungry. They might just be bored, and if food time is the most interesting part of their day, that will become their default need. Next time your cat cries and it’s not dinner time, take a ten minute break from whatever you’re doing and start up a game instead!

Don’t know how to engage your cat in play? Every cat likes a different toy and it can be hard to find that one they go crazy for. Some cats might seem like they are stubborn and uninterested in playing at all. Don’t let that fool you! Start by buying a small selection of a variety of toys (fuzzy mice, bell balls, wand toys, etc.) and see which interests them the most. Then, make the game as fun as can be! It’s important that you play to your cat’s hunting instincts. Dangling a feather in their face is more annoying than fun. Instead, show your cat the feather and then slowly drag it behind the corner of a wall or piece of furniture and watch your cat spring into action! Just as they get close, lift the feather up into the air and see if they leap for it.

When you figure out your cat’s favorites, keep them novel. Try rotating toys every few days. Your cat will forget the hidden toys even existed until they magically appear again!

3. Make Food Time Fun
If your cat acts like it hasn’t eaten in days when it’s only be a few hours since their last meal, it’s important to make food time last as long as possible (which will also help their stomachs feel full). A great way to do this is with a food puzzle, which you can buy, make from a yogurt container, or even an egg carton.

You can also use dry food to train your cat. Dinner time is a great time to do this because your cat is more motivated. Take half of your cat’s dry food and make it sit, climb, or touch for a piece of kibble (clickers work great for training cats, but it’s important to learn the proper techniques first!). When everything is gone, you can reward your cat with the other half of its dinner portion. (Remember, any food you use for training should be accounted for in your cat’s daily caloric intake.)

4. When in Doubt, Ask a Vet
If you’re not sure where to begin on your cat’s weight-loss program, or if you need to reduce portions or change brands of food, be sure to consult a vet. If you suddenly cut your cat’s portions dramatically or switch types of food, your cat might stop eating – which is not good either! A veterinarian can help you come up with a systematic program to get your cat back on track to a healthy lifestyle.

Dental Disease Awareness

FINNYImagine what your teeth would look like after years of not brushing. It’s not a pleasant visual but is a reality for our pets. Dental disease is an issue that can often go over looked. It’s common for humans not to consider their pets’ teeth like they do their own. However, the risks involved when our furry companions’ teeth go un-cared for can be very serious. Periodontal disease can lead to infection of the blood causing heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease. It can also lead to infection of the mouth, making it very painful for our pets to chew.

If dental disease is diagnosed by a veterinarian, your pet will have to undergo anesthesia and a dental cleaning with possible tooth extractions, depending on the severity. As one can imagine, the bill for a procedure like this can be very costly, but is crucial to your beloved cat or dog’s health. Dr. Mekler, Veterinarian at Boston Veterinary Care, warns us that, “Dental disease can allow bacteria to get under the gum line, which can cause a sinus abscess. When this occurs it can be an emergency situation. When it comes to the gums, red means pain!”  Luckily there are many steps we as owners can take in order to prevent periodontal disease.

Dr. Davis, Veterinarian at Boston Veterinary Care, shares some advice on helping to prevent dental disease. “Brush your pet’s teeth! T/D does work.” (T/D stands for “tooth diet” and is a prescription brand of food by Hills Science Diet made specifically to help control the tartar that builds on the teeth). Dr. Davis adds that, “At this point water additives have not proven to be effective – but are undergoing clinical trials. The best way to maintain good health and avoid periodontal disease is to brush routinely. The recommended amount of brushing is every day- and at the very least, every 48 hours. Brushing any less than every 48 hours is not effective.”

For some pets, brushing their teeth may be a challenge. Dr. Mekler suggests slowly introducing brushing. This is a life time prevention and if it takes months to get your pet comfortable with it, that’s okay! Some ways to go about this are simply finding a pet tooth paste that your pet enjoys and considers a treat. Start by getting your pet used to having their teeth touched and use your finger as the tooth brush. As your pet gets used to this, you can then begin to introduce a tooth brush. You can find one at your local pet store or veterinary clinic. For our treat motivated pets, you can also incorporate a reward to help make this process easier and fun for your pet!

If you think your pet suffers from dental disease, you should see a veterinarian immediately. If your pets’ teeth are not yet a problem, then it’s important to keep them that way.  Most importantly, Dr. Shophet of Boston Veterinary care reminds us to “Brush, brush, brush!”

Ask The Vet: Our Vets Answer Your Questions Part II

Danielle d.W.: We just had a terrible scare with our dog and the disease HGE! I had never heard of this before and I think it would be great to let people know how serious, but treatable this is!

Answer: BVC Relief Veterinarian Dr. Vo explains Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) as an acute condition that leads to inflammation and bleeding of the intestines. This disease can also cause systemic infection, this means  that bacteria can be absorbed into the body. Dr. Vo tells us that HGE presents with bloody diarrhea and vomiting. When this illness is present the stool is described as “raspberry jam.”  When diagnosed by a veterinarian the treatment includes, hospitalization with fluids and pain management. Depending on the cause of the disease it may be treated by antibiotics as well. Symptoms of this illness can be severe and even fatal if not treated. Causes are still unknown, but may be due to abnormal reactions to food, bacteria or drugs. Dr. Vo reminds us that many other diseases can cause similar symptoms. If your dog suddenly displays bloody diarrhea you should seek medical attention immediately.

Erin: My 4-year old male cat (8.5 lbs) with a formally small appetite is suddenly, over the past few months, seemingly starving about an hour after eating and bugs me for the rest of the night. He also wakes me up in the morning now wanting food (which he never did, that was left to my other (fat) cat). I took him to the vet and they did a fecal and found nothing wrong, or no physical symptoms like weight loss, etc…is it worth getting blood work? They didn’t’ think so, unless his weight changes.

Answer: Dr. Vo explains that changes in dietary habits can be caused by both medical and behavioral issues. Endocrine problems, parasites and intestinal disease are some common medical causes of these symptoms.  At 4 years old it would be rare for a cat to have hyperthyroidism. Blood work can indicate other issues and it is never a bad idea to check because doing this will also help in ruling out certain medical problems. Dr. Vo notes that if behavior is the cause of her increasing food demands, then it may be helpful to evaluate her environment and your own behavior to see if you may be enabling these changes. To learn more check out http://indoorpet.osu.edu/. Here you can find tips to help you identify sources of un-wanted behavior.

Have a question for one of our Boston Veterinary Care vets? Leave your questions in our comments section below!

Ask The Vet: Our Vets Answer Your Questions Part 1

DrKim K. O.: What is the best way to prevent hair balls in felines?

Answer: For hair balls Dr. Davis recommends an over the counter hair ball remedy diet. Another alternative is a product called Laxatone. This is a supplement that can be purchased at your local veterinarian’s office and used as directed by your pet’s Doctor to help reduce hair balls.

Lindsey S.: It sounds like my pup has kennel cough from what I have read, but I would like to know the recommended healing method. Thank you!

Answer: Dr. Davis suggests that with any persistent cough, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian. In regards to kennel cough, if diagnosed it is treated by antibiotics as prescribed by your pet’s Doctor.

Have a question for one of our Boston Veterinary Care vets? Leave your questions in our comments section below!

Spay Waggin’ Serves Over 3,000 Pets in 2012

DSC_1618The League’s Spay Waggin,’ serving the South Shore and Cape Cod, has helped over 3,000 pet owners by providing access to affordable spay/neuter services in 2012.

If your animals have yet to be spayed or neutered, take a look at our schedule below to see when the Spay Waggin’ is coming near you.

To make an appointment, please call 1-877-590-SPAY(7729) or book online (cats only). The Spay Waggin’ phone line is open Monday – Wednesday and Friday, or you can also reach us at spaywaggin@arlboston.org.

January 2013 Schedule

1/2 Taunton Cats
1/3 Brockton Cats
1/7 Wareham Cats
1/8 Plymouth Cats
1/10 Brockton Cats
1/14 Brockton Dogs
1/15 Hyannis Cats
1/22 Brockton Cats
1/28 Plymouth Cats
1/29 Taunton Cats
1/31 Brockton Dogs

5 Thanksgiving Foods Your Pet Needs to Avoid

Photo Credit: Chris Amaral

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, eat great food and enjoy the company of our family and friends, which often includes our pets. While it’s wonderful to include your pets in your holiday traditions, it’s important to limit the amount and types of food that your pets consume on Thanksgiving. Foods that are fine for humans (and would seem okay for dogs) can actually be very dangerous for your pet.

The following foods should be avoided on Thanksgiving, no bones about it!

  • Turkey Bones: We’ve grown accustomed to the idea of “giving the dog a bone,” but turkey bones are small and can become lodged in a dog’s throat, stomach or intestinal tract. Additionally, these bones may splinter and cause severe damage to the stomach and could puncture the small intestine. Avoid feeding any turkey bones to your pets!
  • Fat Trimmings: Fatty meat, especially turkey skin may be the tastiest part, but it’s also very dangerous for your pet. Fatty foods like turkey skin and gravy are difficult for dogs to digest and consuming turkey skin can result in pancreatitis. Symptoms for this serious disease include vomiting, extreme depression, reluctance to move and abdominal pain.
  • Dough/Cake Batter: Do you remember your mother telling you not to eat the cookie dough? If you shouldn’t be eating it, neither should your pet. Since dough and cake batter contain raw eggs, the first concern is salmonella bacteria. The second concern is that the dough may actually rise in your dog’s belly (sound weird, but it’s possible). This can lead to vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating.
  • Raisins/Grapes: Grapes commonly make the list of foods dogs should avoid, but we like to remind people that they are very dangerous. Though the causes of their toxicity are unknown, we do know that they can cause kidney failure.
  • Mushrooms: Good for you, not for your dog. Mushrooms can damage your dog’s internal organs, including kidneys, liver and the central nervous system. If your dog does eat mushrooms, you can expect the following symptoms: seizures, coma, vomiting and possibly death.

Keep your vets number handy.

Should your pet become ill and show any of the above symptoms, be sure to have your veterinarian’s phone number and the local animal emergency hospital’s number on hand. A quick call to either of them can give you life-saving advice or even help you avoid a trip to the ER. You can reach Boston Veterinary Care at (617) 226-5605.

For a comprehensive list of all foods that dogs should avoid visit: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/people-foods.aspx

This Dog Is Thankful For You

A one-eyed dog receives a sight saving eye surgery and a new way to see the world.

Athena, a loving 1.5-year-old female dog, was transferred to the Animal Rescue League of Boston from a shelter in Vermont, because they could not afford her eye surgery. She came to us with only one eye, which had a partially detached retina and was in pretty bad shape. Due to the fact that it was detached and would continue to worsen, Athena was a candidate for laser eye surgery. She was taken for surgery to Rhode Island where veterinarians performed a procedure that essentially repaired the retina, keeping it in place to prevent it from worsening.

After the surgery Athena was brought back to the League for rehabilitation. Our staff lovingly cared for her while she recovered and administered her medication as her eye healed. Shortly after her surgery, Athena had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Willis who volunteers her time with the League. Though she has been doing extraordinarily well, Athena will have to be on eye medication indefinitely. She was transferred to our Brewster branch and should become available for adoption shortly.

Thanks to this laser eye surgery Athena is able to see the world! This loving and energetic dog has so much ahead of her and looks forward to her bright future. She loves to play and enjoys snacks and treats!

Without you we wouldn’t be able to provide life changing care for animals like Athena. We can’t thank you enough for your generous support. If you’re able, you can contribute to the Animal Rescue League of Boston today right here.  Your support helps us provide treatment and care for animals that makes them more adoptable. THANK YOU!

Running with Your Dog: 3 Tips to Consider Before You Start


Photo Credit: Competitor.com

If you’re thinking about running with your dog in the upcoming Doggy 5K at Castle Island or in any other running event, it’s important to start training now. Even if your dog appears healthy and fit, they still need to train, just like any athlete. We’ve included some helpful tips from Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, Interim President at the Animal Rescue League of Boston for you to consider before you start running with your dog.

1. Check with your veterinarian:
A checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your dog is for running and help you develop a sound training program. Even healthy looking dogs can have hidden problems that might emerge during training.

2. Wait Until Your Dog is Full-Grown:
Don’t run with your puppy. You can start taking smaller breeds out as early as six months of age, but you should wait a year for large breed dogs’ bones and joints to mature.

3. Ease Your Dog in to Running:
Start your dog out slowly, just like you would if you were new to running. If you gradually increase the miles, your dog will become more fit and their pads will toughen up and make him or her less susceptible to injury. Check your dog’s feet after each run, and watch for limping or lameness. If you notice tenderness, raw spots or bleeding on the pads, give your pooch a few days off from running. Three times per week, 15 to 20 minutes at a moderate pace, is a good place to start. If your pet is overweight, start with walks. If your dog is moving slowly the next day, take that as a sign you went too far, and back off the intensity the next few times you train.