Upcoming Microchip & Rabies Clinic In Dedham

Photo: Maria L. Uribe

Photo: Maria L. Uribe

The League is offering a low-cost microchip and rabies clinic at our Dedham shelter on Saturday, April 6. If your dog or cat is not microchipped we strongly encourage you to stop by on April 6. With the warm weather approaching, pets will be spending more time outside and indoor cats may be eager to slip out the door. If your microchipped pet escapes and is found by a local Animal Control Officer, he can be identified and returned to you.

Here are the details:

  • Saturday, April 6 
  • 10am to 2pm
  • Dedham Adoption Center at 55 Anna’s Place
  • Price is $5 for the rabies vaccine ($2 for senior citizens) and $15 for microchips ($12 for senior citizens).  Proof of prior vaccination with valid dates must be given in order for pets to receive a 3 year rabies vaccine.  

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!

New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners

NYRBlogPhotoSo you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution for yourself, but have you thought about making a resolution specific to your pet? Here are 7 resolutions for pet lovers for 2013, because our four-legged companions always deserve a little more love! Take a minute to read through these and tell us which one you’re choosing for your New Year’s Resolution.

  1. Spend more time with your pet. Your cat or dog wants to be with you! After you’ve been at work all day, they can’t wait to see you! Pledge to spend an extra ten minutes with your pet every day. Get up ten minutes early and play with your cat or extend your dog’s walk by 10 more minutes or just take a few extra minutes to snuggle with your pup and scratch him behind the ear when you get home from work.
  2. Microchip your pet. We strongly recommend micro-chipping your pet. A microchip is an electronic device placed under the skin of an animal. The chips are about the size of a grain of rice and emit a low-frequency radio wave when detected by a special scanner. Pet microchips aren’t a tracking or GPS device but simply a way of storing a pet owner’s address and phone number if the pet is lost. For more information about pet microchips contact your vet, local animal shelter or Animal Control Officer. HomeAgain, a microchip and pet recovery service, is responsible for reuniting more than 1,000,000 lost pets with their owners. 
  3. Bring your pet to the vet.  The League‘s very own Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM says “a checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your dog is…. even healthy looking dogs can have hidden problems.” Take your pet to the vet at least once a year to keep vaccinations current, get heart-worm prevention renewed and make sure your pet is healthy.
  4. Take better care of your pet’s teeth. Dental Disease affects dogs and cats, just as it does humans. There are several ways to prevent dental disease in your pets. Give them treats that clean teeth. Brush their teeth on a regular basis, if you can’t use a toothbrush, use your finger and apply special toothpaste as suggested by your vet. If tartar buildup occurs, your pet’s teeth should be professionally cleaned by your veterinarian.
  5. Give your pet the proper nutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to poor health. There are many great dog food brands out there. Tell your vet what type of food you’re looking for, holistic, organic, all-natural, dental, weight control, etc… and ask your vet what brands s/he would recommend. An unbalanced diet can result in poor skin, hair coat, muscle tone, and obesity.
  6. DT_mini2Put an end to your pet’s behavioral problems. If your dog is misbehaving or if you want to teach him basic commands, enroll him in a dog training class. Dog training classes start at our Boston Headquarters on January 5. We offer a 10% discount to BVC clients and a 50% discount to ARL Alums!
  7. Allow your pet more opportunities to exercise. Most animals like to play, so find an activity that you both enjoy and go for it. Exercise is good for your pet and you! If your dog likes to run, try jogging a few times a week. If your dog likes to play fetch take him to the park and throw a ball around. For cats, try finding a toy that they like to chase.

Food Is Not Love

BigCatOne of the biggest issues with animal obesity is that owners themselves simply don’t recognize it. After all, our pets are our best friends; we see them every day, so naturally a few extra pounds can easily go unnoticed. This is until of course the dreaded weigh in at the Doctors office. When it comes to our pets being over weight there is much more at stake than just good looks. Some of the many health risks resulting from pet obesity include diabetes, joint stress, arthritis, blood pressure issues, heart disease and most importantly, longevity. Maintaining our pets everyday quality of life in later years becomes much more difficult when they are overweight. Obesity in our animals is not only important to recognize, but to control and prevent.

So how can we really tell if our pets are over weight? As DVM Kasja Newlin puts it, when feeling over our dogs ribs it should feel similar to the way our knuckles do when our hand is laid out flat. On the contrary, if your pets ribs feel the same way your knuckles do when forming a fist then they are under-weight. An easier way to tell might be simply standing over your pet, when looking down at them you should be able to see a waist. If you see a tank, your pet is too heavy. Keep track of your pets weight just as you would your own, this way any gains or losses can be easily detected. It is important for pet owners to understand that though your pet being a few pounds over weight may not sound like very much to you, it is to them. In our defense, our pets constant eagerness to eat is easily confused for actual hunger. As DVM Dr. Davis likes to remind us, the important truth is that our pets are a lot like us, we eat because we like to and not necessarily because we are hungry.

If your Veterinarian has advised you that your pet is over weight, or under weight, it’s important to take control of the issue. We don’t want to see rapid weight gain or weight loss in any pet so it is important to cut back or add on to equate the ideal calorie intake. Proper calorie intake varies between each animal. Consult your veterinarian to learn your pets ideal weight.  With your pet’s Doctor you can calculate a proper diet in accordance with the recommended calorie intake. After all, we want to see our loyal companions live forever, so lets start feeding them that way!

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!

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

5 Common Dog Illnesses To Watch For


Photo Credit: Pet Central

Just like us humans, dogs are susceptible to illnesses as well. Whether you’ve just adopted a dog during Adopt-A-Dog-Month or are a seasoned pooch parent, please take the following into consideration. We’ve asked some of our veterinarians here at the Animal Rescue League of Boston and Boston Veterinary Care to list 5 of the most common illnesses that they come across in their work to help you be have a better understanding of your dog’s health.

1. Dental Disease affects dogs, just as it does humans. It starts off as gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums caused by tartar build up on the teeth, which can lead to an infection. If this goes untreated it will likely develop into periodontal disease where the roots of the teeth become infected. This can be very painful for a dog. This disease can cause pain during eating and can make your dog reluctant to eat. Ways to prevent dental disease in dogs are: to give them treats that clean teeth. Brush the dog’s teeth on a regular basis, if you can’t use a toothbrush, use your finger and apply special toothpaste as suggested by your vet. If tartar buildup occurs the dog’s teeth should be professionally cleaned by your veterinarian. *Note that small breeds tend to be more susceptible to tartar buildup.

2. Obesity, which can lead to orthopedic problems, is just as much of a concern in dogs as it is in people. Obesity in dogs is caused by a combination of factors including genetics, exercise, food management and stress. It is imperative that your dog receive the proper amount of exercise and that he/she has a healthy diet. To determine the adequate levels of food and exercise for your dog speak with your veterinarian. If canine obesity goes untreated it can lead to orthopedic problems, which can be taxing on the quality of your dog’s life.

3. Ear Infections, “also known as otitis externa, are a very common ailment in dogs” says Dr. Quigley. “Although many medical conditions can contribute to ear infections, yeast, bacteria, and allergies are some of the most common causes. All breeds of dogs are susceptible to ear infections, however the large, floppy-eared breeds tend to suffer from this condition more frequently. It is important to seek treatment from your veterinarian promptly if you see excessive head shaking or scratching or if you notice discharge coming from the ear canal.”

4. Lyme Disease is transmitted to dogs from infected ticks. The most common symptoms of Lyme disease is lameness and swollen joints that are painful to the touch, but others include weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss. If untreated Lyme disease can lead to kidney problems and in rare cases an acute cardiac syndrome, both of which are fatal.  Please note that most dogs exposed to Lyme disease do not become ill. The way to test for Lyme disease is by having your veterinarian take a blood test. Most importantly if your dog spend a lot of time outdoors they should be on a flea/tick preventative.

5. Diarrhea is characterized by liquid or loose stools and can have a short duration or can last for weeks even months. Dr. Shophet-Ratner suggests that “for simple diarrhea, the owner should [do the following:] Withhold food for a few hours. Supply the dog with plenty of water or add some low sodium chicken broth to the water. Give the dog a small amount of bland diet, more frequently. If the diarrhea continues more than 24 hours and the dog does not feel well he/she should be seen [by a veterinarian] as there are many causes of diarrhea, from parasites to poisonous plants to systemic diseases, etc.”

If you have questions that you would like to ask our veterinarians, please comment on our “Ask The Vet” blog post. We’re launching a new “Ask The Vet” section on our blog and need your input! Submit your question and it just might get be answered by one of our skilled veterinarians.


We’re launching a new biweekly “Ask The Vet” section on our blog and we want your input!

Do you have a question that you’ve always wanted to ask your vet, but by the time your pet’s next appointment comes around you’ve forgotten what it is? Well here’s your chance to ask it. What would you like to know from our Animal Rescue League of Boston shelter and BVC vets? Please share your questions in the comments section below and you just might see one of our wonderful vets answer your question. The first blog post answering your questions will be published in early November, so keep checking our website!

Dr. Martha Smith Named ‘Emerging Leader’ in Veterinary Medicine

Please join us in congratulating the League’s Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore who has been named an “emerging leader” in the field of veterinary medicine by the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA). This is a well-deserved honor for a gifted and compassionate voice in the animal welfare community.

The MVMA has provided her with an all-expense-paid scholarship to the 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Leadership Conference that is taking place in Chicago this weekend.  The conference is designed to help participants better understand the myriad of opportunities and challenges of team leadership in an animal humane/veterinary care-based organization.

An alumna of the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (1997), Dr. Smith-Blackmore joined the Animal Rescue League of Boston veterinary staff in 2001 and was named Director of Veterinary Medical Services in 2006.  She currently serves as President of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and is on the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee and the American Heartworm Society Board.

She continues her affiliation with Tufts as a Fellow of the Center for Animals and Public Policy and as a Clinical Assistant Professor.