All posts by kimberly

Pet Allergies in Dogs and Cats

By Dr. Scott Pandya

Autumn can be one of the most wonderful times of the year – the weather cools down, the leaves change, and the hustle of the summer months finally begins to die down. However, the change in seasons can be a difficult time for pets who suffer from allergies. Here is what every pet owner should know about allergies in our four-legged friends:

Causes and Signs of Pet Allergies:

Just as in people, pet allergies can be caused by a wide range of factors. Environmental causes such as dust, mold, pollen, and grasses commonly lead to issues in our pets, as can food allergies. Parasites such as fleas and mites often lead to major allergic issues and itchiness. Remember, cold weather does not always eliminate parasites from the environment, and in some cases can even drive insects like fleas near buildings for warmth!

Dogs and cats can respond in many different ways to allergies. Common signs of allergies include itchiness, ear scratching and rubbing, paw licking, red skin, sneezing, and watery eyes. Pets that are showing any of the above signs should be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine if allergies are at play.

Treating and Preventing Allergies:

Many therapies exist for managing allergies in pets. Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Zyrtec are used by many vets to control and improve symptoms, as are specialized diets that help to eliminate food allergies. Veterinary specific shampoos, topicals, and sprays are frequently used to help reduce skin problems associated with allergies. More powerful medications such as steroids may also be recommended as well depending on the severity of your pet’s symptoms. Year-round flea control is often important for the prevention of allergies in both dogs and cats.

In recent years, two new medications have become available to help combat allergies and itchiness in dogs. Apoquel (a pill) and Cytopoint (a once monthly injection) are very potent medications that tend to carry fewer side effects than older anti-allergy and anti-itch treatments. These medications can also be combined with other products (at the recommendation of your veterinarian) to achieve maximum allergy control.

If you think your pet may be suffering from allergies, please contact us. We are here to help your pet be as healthy and as comfortable as possible!

Consider Pet Insurance Today

If you have visited any of our three locations lately, you may have noticed some signs and brochures on pet insurance.  Pet insurance companies have been around for years, but are becoming increasingly popular as policies change to better suit pet needs.

Many animals are viewed more as a family member than just a pet, and with this perspective, pet parents want to give their animals the best care they possibly can.  Pet insurance isn’t an investment opportunity, but rather allows us and pet owners the peace of mind in case their fur baby ever gets sick or requires urgent care.  Statistically, pet insurance reimburses pet owners up to 90% of veterinary costs, and due to the many plans and coverage options, owners can choose the best plan based on their pet’s age, hereditary status, and present health condition.

Pet insurance can be very overwhelming, as there are so many options to choose from!  To assist with making the best decision for your pets, our hospitals recommend three companies that we feel offer the best plans suited to your pet’s needs.  These companies are Petplan Pet Insurance, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, and Trupanion. 

To learn more about what these organizations can provide for your family, please visit their websites at,, and, or call us today at 717-532-5413.

National Mutt Day

Looking for a New Dog? Adopt, Don't Shop!

According to the ASPCA, roughly 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters each year. Of the 3.9 million, 1.2 million are unfortunately euthanized for various reasons; be it behavioral or shelter overcrowding. It is these kinds of statistics that help reinforce my belief of adopt, don’t shop! July 31st is National mixed breed day, otherwise known as National Mutt Day! This day is celebrated and embraced across the country to raise awareness for the millions of mixed breed canines waiting in shelters for their forever homes.

Mutts can make great pets. Generally they are healthier, lifespan is longer, and they tend to be better behaved. There are also advantages to adopting from shelters. Typically shelters make sure each dog that gets adopted leaves microchipped, is surgically altered, has been tested for heartworm and lyme disease, and is vaccinated. I have never had a purebred dog, nor will I ever strive to. There is something quirky about mixed breeds that makes them so uniquely them.

My husband and I adopted Shelby right before Christmas this past year. When I first brought her in to Dr. Weeks she said to me “she’s cute, but what is she?” My response at the time was I have no idea, maybe lab and basset, but no matter what, I love her all the same. Shelby looks like a lab, but has a long body, shorter legs and is very deep chested. She is the silliest, yet sweetest dog I’ve ever had.

With my veterinary background, I know certain breeds are pre-disposed to certain health conditions, plus I was very curious to know what she was mixed with. To become aware and better prepared of what to expect behaviorally and medically with Shelby, I had her DNA tested. Mars Veterinary is the company I used to get this information I was seeking. The test was extremely thorough and detailed the following:

  • Shelby’s unique genetic signature
  • Ancestry
  • Breed
  • Breed breakdown: Analysis of each breed
  • Health
    • Drug sensitivity
    • Exercise-Induced Collapse
    • Adult weight
    • Personality traits

Knowing all of this information has better informed me as the pet owner of my mixed breed so I can provide the best care possible during her life with my husband and I. I was so satisfied with the results, I had my other dog Hunter tested as well.

Whether a dog is purebred or mixed, adopting from shelters literally saves an animal’s life. And with DNA testing now as an option, there is a way to know what to expect behaviorally and medically to better prepare oneself later on down the road with their beloved mixed breed.

Celebrate Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat-Month!

Did you know that June is officially Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month? In honor of such a wonderful cause, we would like to highlight a few local shelters and their adoptable cats! If you’re like me and would love to participate in this cause but are currently unable to open up your home to a new addition, do not fret! We will also provide ways in which you can volunteer at these shelters and help these cats find their forever homes!

Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

Located at 5051 Letterkenny Road West in Chambersburg, PA, the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter (CVAS) is currently running a HEART Cat Adoption Campaign to help its members find their forever homes. Kittens that are six months of age or younger are adopt one and take a second kitten home for no additional adoption fee! Adoption fees for cats that are older than six months of age are by donation! Each adoption fee includes:

  • Spay/neuter
  • Microchip
  • Dewormer
  • Flea and ear mite treatment
  • Feline leukemia and AIDS testing
  • Core vaccinations
  • Collar and ID tag
  • Cat carrier
  • Complimentary wellness exam at participating veterinarian practices (We participate at all three locations!)

If you are interested in adopting a “fur baby” from the CVAS, you can view the shelter’s adoptable pets at Petfinder. Please keep in mind that an adoption application must be completed for serious inquiries and can be completed online here.

If you are interested in volunteering your time at the CVAS, you can view the shelter’s current opportunities here.

Antietam Humane Society

Located at 8513 Lyons Road in Waynesboro, PA, the Antietam Humane Society has plenty of adorable cats looking to find their forever homes! Adoption fees for kittens aged younger than seven months are $79.50 per kitten; adoption fees for cats seven months of age and older are by donation! Each adoption fee includes the following services:

  • Spay/neuter
  • Microchip
  • Dewormer
  • Flea and tick treatment
  • Core vaccinations
  • Complimentary wellness exam with participating local veterinarian

If you are interested in adopting a kitten or cat from the Antietam Humane Society, the shelter’s adoptable pets can be found online at Petfinder. Please keep in mind that an adoption application must be completed for serious inquiries. You can print off and complete this application by clicking here.

If you are interested in volunteering your time at the Antietam Humane Society, you can view the shelter’s current opportunities and needs here.

Adams County SPCA

Located at 11 Goldenville Road in Gettysburg, PA, the Adams County SPCA also houses a lot of kittens and cats looking to be adopted! Adoption fees for cats aged six months and older are $65 per cat. Adoption fees for kittens aged younger than six months are also $65 per kitten; however, a $40 spay/neuter refundable deposit is required as the kitten will be called back in for the spay/neuter procedure. The Adams County SPCA also offers a 10% discount on adoption fees for those individuals with a military or police ID! The shelter’s adoption fee includes the following services for each cat/kitten:

  • Spay/neuter
  • Microchip
  • Deworming
  • Flea and tick treatment
  • Core vaccinations
  • Feline leukemia and AIDS testing

If you are interested in adopting from the Adams County SPCA, you can view the shelter’s adoptable cats and kittens online here. Please keep in mind that an adoption application must be completed for serious inquires and can be found online here.

If you are interested in volunteering your time at the Adams County SPCA, you can view the shelter’s current opportunities by clicking here.

In summary, our local shelters are housing many cats of all ages, sizes, and colors looking for their forever homes! Whether you are able to open up your home to a new addition or are able to volunteer your time, make sure to celebrate Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month in any way you can before June is over!

Permanent Pet Identification

April 23rd is National Lost Dog Awareness Day. Despite our best attempts, sometimes our animals can get lost for one reason or another. Luckily there are many online sites and shelters to look for our lost companions, but sometimes that just may not be enough. Veterinary professionals can provide tattooing for identification, but in time tattoos fade. Fortunately, there is a product that provides permanent identification on a pet. This identification, called a microchip, greatly increases an animal’s chances of reuniting with their owners.

A microchip is a small piece of digital equipment that contains a unique number which traces to an owner’s full contact information. The actual chip, the size of a grain of rice, is commonly implanted under the pet’s skin in between the shoulder blades via a 20 gauge needle. Following implantation, the chip is registered with all of the owners contact information – including name, address, and telephone number. Microchipping is most commonly performed during routine spays and neuters under anesthetic, but with prior numbing agents, can be placed during regular office visits.

If a microchipped and registered pet has gone missing, most veterinary facilities, humane societies and shelters are equipped with a special scanning device that will detect if a pet is microchipped. In addition to aiding in the likelihood of reuniting pets with their owners, dogs that are microchipped are eligible for a lifetime license in the state of Pennsylvania, as long as documentation is provided when applying. This paperwork is available through your local county courthouse, various local businesses, as well as at our office.

To learn more about microchipping, and to set up an appointment, please contact our office today!

National Walk Your Dog Day


February 22nd is National Walk Your Dog Day. I’m not sure how this day came to be, but it’s so easy to participate, and it’s beneficial for both you and your pet! The act of walking helps us with weight control, aids in regulating stress levels, and has been known to decrease our blood pressure. Walking benefits animals in a similar manner, by helping to control weight, maintain activity levels, and support a healthy digestive system. In addition to helping with a healthy lifestyle for us and our dogs, there are several other great advantages as well.

Walking together with your pet can actually help to improve your bond with your dog, as well as increase social interaction. When walking, chances are you and your dog will meet new people, and maybe even new dogs. This helps with the dog’s socialization skills to make them (and you!) a better functioning member of society. In addition, walking can help to relieve destructive behaviors by combating boredom. With the many benefits walking has on us and our dogs, our strolls with our pets can actually assist local shelters as well.


Living in this technologically savvy era, there has been a mobile phone application developed to raise money for animal organizations while walking with your dog. Wooftrax is a free app that can be downloaded on the iPhone or Android phone that allows people to earn money for an animal organization of their choice. Set-up is very simple. In order to begin using the app, Wooftrax asks for a name and email address, and the organization the person wishes to walk for. The more “active” walkers, meaning, the more people who log in and walk on a weekly basis, the higher the donation for the organization.

To use Wooftrax, a person doesn’t necessarily need to have a dog to raise funds. There is an option to “walk for Cassie” upon registration. Whether it’s a quick stroll around the neighborhood, or a hike through the south central Pennsylvanian Appalachian Mountains, you could be benefitting the animal organization of your choice, while implementing a healthy lifestyle for you and your dog! To learn more about this cutting edge app, visit their website at, or search for Wooftrax in your app store.

Happy walking!