Category Archives: Dogs

Adopting Senior Pets

By: Lindsay, LVT

Sandy2November is now nationally recognized as “Adopt a Senior Pet” Month. The sad truth is that senior pets are much more difficult to adopt out compared to their young counterparts. Petfinder.com (one of the world’s largest databases for adoptable pets) stated that the typical animal is usually advertised on their website for an average of 12 weeks before finding a home; but senior pets remain stagnant for four times longer than that. How could this be?

American writer Agnes Sligh Turnbull says it well “Dogs lives are too short. Their only fault, really”. Many people are against adopting an older pet because they fear their time with them will be limited. It may be true that an owner will have less years with their gray muzzled companion, but with that comes the opportunity to make their golden years that much sweeter.

There are many perks to owning a senior pet, which include:

1. Training – Senior pets usually know basic commands and can be eager to learn new commands from their owner. Their attention spans, eagerness to please, and attention to detail are greater than that of a puppy or kitten.
2. Independence – Many senior pets can be left at home unsupervised while their owners are away. They also should not require 24/7 supervision that puppies and kittens do.
3. Personality and Lifestyle – When you adopt a senior pet you know exactly what you’re getting into. You know their full-grown size, personality type, energy levels, and health status: what you see is what you get.

I adopted Sandy, a beagle mix, when she was 6 years old. She spent her whole life crated in an unfinished, dark, cold basement, only being let out to use the bathroom. I brought her home and my family had the opportunity to spend six amazing years with her before she eventually crossed Rainbow Bridge. Not only did we have the chance to change her life, but she definitely found a way to change ours in the process. Isn’t that what having a pet is all about?

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!

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.

Diabetes in Pets

November is National Pet Diabetes Month. Are your pets at risk? The likelihood of your cat or dog developing diabetes is anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 500 and experts say those numbers are increasing. Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a disease that affects glucose in your pet’s blood and is caused by a shortage of insulin or when the body can’t process insulin properly. Diabetes in dogs is usually type 1 while diabetes in cats is usually type 2 but can progress to type 1.

The food that your pet eats is broken down into small components that the body can use. One of the components, carbohydrates, is converted into sugar or glucose. If there is too little insulin or the insulin cannot be processed correctly, then the glucose is not able to enter the cells and provide energy. Because the cells cannot absorb glucose, a diabetic pet may always want to eat but still look malnourished.

If your pet exhibits the following symptoms, he or she may have diabetes:
-Excessive drinking or urination,
-increased appetite (early stages) or loss of appetite (late stages),
-weight loss,
-lethargy or weakness, and
-vomiting or other intestinal problems.

If your pet has these symptoms then let us or your veterinarian know so we can get started on creating a plan for your and your pet. Although diabetes is not curable, it can be managed with daily insulin injections and changes in diet (and exercise for dogs). Oral medications have shown to be not particularly helpful. Successful management of your pet’s diabetes means that he or she can live a happy and healthy life. Making sure that your pet is eating a proper diet, gets regular exercise, and maintains a healthy weight can be a big help in preventing diabetes.

For more information about pet diabetes, visit https://www.petdiabetesmonth.com.

Foods You Shouldn’t Feed Your Dog

September is National Food Safety Month. Like cats and humans, certain foods can be toxic to dogs. While cats and dogs share many food toxicities, here is dog-specific and alphabetic list of the foods you should avoid giving your dog.

Alcohol: Dogs are far more sensitive to alcohol than humans are. Just a little bit can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, coordination problems, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death. Hops in particular, which is found in beer, has been found to poison dogs. Dogs affected by hops can have damage and failure to multiple organ systems due to an uncontrollably high body temperature.

Avocado: Persin, the toxic element in Avocado, can cause mild upset stomach. Persin can be found in the leaves, seed, bark, and inside the fruit. Avocado is sometimes included in pet food but does not pose a threat to dogs.

Chocolate: Unlike cats, dogs will eat chocolate on their own. The rule with chocolate is usually, “the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.” White chocolate contains very few methylxanthines, the toxic component of chocolate, while dark baker’s chocolate has very high levels of methylxanthines. Depending on the type and quantity of the chocolate consumed, the reaction your dog may have can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort, and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures, and death.

Coffee/Caffeine: Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a dog and there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding.

Corncobs: Corncobs are not digestible and often cause obstructions in the intestines.

Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your dog table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Bones should not be given to dogs either, as they can choke on it or the bone may splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations.

Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they have been associated with kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs eat them without any effects while others can develop vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and kidney failure. Kidney failure means your dog’s ability to product urine decreases so they are unable to filter toxins out of their system.

Macadamia nuts: Although the chance that macadamia nuts are deathly to dogs is low, the symptoms they do feel can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms can include muscle tremors, paralysis of the back legs, vomiting, and more.

Milk/Dairy Products: Because dogs are devoid of the lactase needed to breakdown milk, milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach.

Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body that result in nervous system abnormalities, seizures, shock, or death.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: All members, and close members of the onion family (including shallots, garlic, scallions, etc.), can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Like chocolate, the stronger it is, the more toxic it is. Garlic has been found to be more toxic to dogs than onions. Even dehydrated forms of garlic and onion are a threat to your dog’s health. Affected dogs may exhibit symptoms up to five days later and can include weakness, reluctance to move, and orange-tinted to dark red urine. Dogs that have ingested garlic or onion should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums: The seeds or pits from these fruits are the main concern. Persimmons seeds can cause inflammation of the small intestines or intestinal obstruction. Intestinal obstruction is also a concern for peach and plum pits. Peach and plum pits also contain cyanide which is poisonous to both dogs and humans. Humans just know not to eat them.

Raw eggs, meat, and fish: Raw eggs, meat, and fish can contain bacteria like salmonella that can lead to food poisoning. Raw eggs also interfere with the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Certain fish can cause “fish disease” which can be fatal within the first two weeks. The first signs are vomiting, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Thoroughly cooking meat and fish will kill the parasites and protect your dog.

Salt: Giving your dog salty foods is not a good idea. Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination which leads to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of excessive salt consumption can include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death.

Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause disorientation and seizures as fast as 30 minutes after ingestion or as delayed as several hours. Xylitol can also lead to liver failure in just a few days. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes.

Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. Dogs with extreme poisoning cases can go into a coma or have seizures.

Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, small items of clothing, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to dogs than food. One case is medical marijuana. It comes in many forms that a pet can easily eat and can cause vomiting, changes in heart rate, and depress the nervous system.

If you suspect your dog ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Do you have a cat? Most foods that are toxic for dogs are also toxic for cats. Check out this blog post for a cat-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food for either your cat or your dog and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!

Happy National Dog Day!

Happy National Dog Day! National Dog Day (also known as National Dog Appreciation Day and International Dog Day) arrives each year on August 26th and is a chance to reiterate to the public how many shelter dogs are in need of a home. The day also serves to acknowledge and appreciate the dogs we already have that selflessly save our lives, keep us safe, and bring love and companionship into our homes every day.

The day was created in 2004 by Celebrity Pet and Family Lifestyle Expert, Animal Behaviorist, and Author Colleen Paige after she adopted her dog, Sailor. Sailor, who was only seven months old, was being starved and tortured in a shelter. Paige wants this day to “encourage dog ownership of all breeds, mixed and pure – to help abolish puppy mills and end breed specific legislation so we can create a world where all dogs (and every animal) can live a happy, safe and ”abuse-free life.”

Even if you don’t have a dog you are encouraged to celebrate the day. Even donating as little as $5 to your local rescue group can be a great help. National Dog Day lists 20 more ways to celebrate. Some of our favorites include:

  1. Volunteer at your local shelter by walking or playing with a dog, cleaning cages, or assisting with anything else they need help with.
  2. Do a home safety check to make sure it’s safe for your dogs and for others.
  3. Buy your dog a new toy to play with. Or three toys.
  4. Write your local Congressman and ask that he or she support the ban of Puppy Mills and Gas Chambers in your state.
  5. Order an adorable dog shaped flower arrangement from 1-800-Flowers.com and enjoy a 10% discount by using code DOG when placing your order.
  6. Have a National Dog Day party and invite all your friends and their dogs!

This is a great day for everyone as there are suggestions for both the passive celebrator and the most festive one. We encourage you to become as involved as you can in educating those around you and helping animals in need. To read more about the day and find more information you can visit https://www.nationaldogday.com.

Dogs and Thunderstorms

You probably heard it repeatedly right around the Fourth of July in relation to fireworks—leave your pets at home. But the reason extends to more than just fireworks. Many dogs are frightened by loud noises and almost all aspects of a thunderstorm: wind, rain, thunder, lightning, and even atmospheric pressure. These fears can develop even if your dog has not had any traumatic experiences.

The level of anxiety your dog experiences depends on the individual dog. Some dogs whine and pace while others injure themselves trying to escape. The most common reactions to loud noises are destruction and running away or escaping. To reduce his fears, your dog might seek out a place where the thunder or loud sounds are less intense.

You can try a few different things to ease his fears. First is to create a “safe place” or somewhere that is safe for your dog to be and is readily accessible. Let him choose this place by seeing where he goes during a storm and making this a space he can retreat to when he is scared. Another option is to distract your dog. This works best when your dog is just beginning to get anxious. Engage your dog in an activity he likes that will capture his attention and distract him from the noises. This can mean a game of fetch, practicing behavioral commands, or even listening to calm music.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, do not attempt to reassure or soothe your dog too much when he is afraid. This includes over petting and giving him treats. Attempting to do so may reinforce the fearful behavior and make it worse. You should, instead, stay calm and as relaxed as possible.

Another interesting option is a snug-fitting garment or shirt, such as the ThunderShirt. Products like this apply gentle, constant pressure and are designed to calm anxious dogs. They have a calming effect similar to swaddling a baby. If you prefer to make your own, you can buy a small t-shirt and put your dog’s front legs through the armholes of the shirt. The shirt should fit snugly around your dog’s torso.

You can also try behavior modification. Counterconditioning is when the animal is taught to display acceptable behavior instead of the unacceptable one. You can do this by only playing your dog’s favorite game or giving him his favorite toy right before and during a storm. Another modification is desensitization. This is when your dog’s response is decreased while exposed to increasing levels of what they’re afraid of. For a noise phobia, start with the noise at a quiet level and work your way to a louder volume level. If you feel that his anxiety is out of control, consult your veterinarian as medication can be prescribed to temporarily alleviate your dog’s anxiety. Do not give your dog any over the counter or prescription medication without asking your vet first. What works for a human may be fatal to your dog.

If you have any concerns or questions, please give us a call at one of our three locations.
Shippensburg Animal Hospital: 717-532-5413
Allen Road Veterinary Clinic: 717-243-0087
Mount Rock Animal Hospital: 717-532-8599

 

Shippensburg Animal Hospital is a multi-doctor animal hospital offering a full range of veterinary services, from diagnostics to surgery and even grooming. We have been serving the Cumberland Valley region for over 50 years. We have clinics in three locations: Shippensburg, Allen Road, and Mount Rock. We have seven doctors on staff, which gives you access to a breadth of medical expertise. Our multiple location practice ensures that your pets get medical care when you need it. Shippensburg Animal Hospital cares for animals of all sizes. We provide services in veterinary orthopedics, including bone pinning and plating. In fact, many other animal hospitals in our region refer their advanced orthopedic cases to Shippensburg Animal Hospital. We also utilize cold laser therapy to treat pets suffering from arthritis and other painful conditions. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at one of our three locations.

Five Tips on How to Train a Dog

Sit. Stay. Now read. Training your dog can take a lot of time and sometimes it even seems like you’re not making any progress. But what if that’s because you’re not doing it in the best way possible? Dogs thrive from positive reinforcement. That is, if they do something right or well, they will get rewarded. Positive reinforcement can be the tone of your voice, a toy, or an edible treat. Negative reinforcement should never include hitting. Following some of the simple training guidelines listed here can make all the difference.

1. Make sure your whole family is doing the same training techniques. If you use the command “stay” and someone else uses “wait,” you won’t get the results you’re looking for. You should also make sure that you are all rewarding your dog for the same behaviors.

2. Make the commands simple and short. Try to keep your commands to one or two words. Sit, stay, come, here, down, lie down, etc.

3. If your pet does something right, reward him or her immediately. If you wait, they may not associate the reward with the action.

4. Make sure to reward your dog with something he or she will enjoy. Food treats tend to work especially well but other positive reinforcements can include praise, petting, or a favorite toy or game.

5. As your dog begins to learn the command, slowly ease up on how often he or she is rewarded. Go from continuous reinforcements to only intermittent reinforcements. You should get to the point where you are only giving a reward for the behavior occasionally.

All dogs are different so it is important to remain patient and consistent with your training. Your family should spend some time every day reinforcing the good behaviors. You can find a program led by an accredited instructor but the real work needs to be done at home. A trainer trains the family while the family trains a pet.

Happy training and good luck!

Shippensburg Animal Hospital is a multi-doctor animal hospital offering a full range of veterinary services, from diagnostics to surgery and even grooming. We have been serving the Cumberland Valley region for over 50 years. We have clinics in three locations: Shippensburg, Allen Road, and Mount Rock. We have seven doctors on staff, which gives you access to a breadth of medical expertise. Our multiple location practice ensures that your pets get medical care when you need it. Shippensburg Animal Hospital cares for animals of all sizes. We provide services in veterinary orthopedics, including bone pinning and plating. In fact, many other animal hospitals in our region refer their advanced orthopedic cases to Shippensburg Animal Hospital. We also utilize cold laser therapy to treat pets suffering from arthritis and other painful conditions. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at one of our three locations.

Helpful Pet Fire Safety Tips

Did you know that although 1,000 house fires are caused by pets each year, approximately 500,000 pets per year are affected by house fires? To spread awareness and help keep pets safe, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and ADT Security Services have joined together to make July 15th National Pet Fire Safety Day. Compiled here are some easy and helpful tips to keep your pet safe from fire.

Pet proof your home – Walk around your home to make sure there aren’t any loose wires, appliances, or any other areas where your pet could start a fire.

Extinguish open flames – Animals are curious about light and tend to investigate cooking appliances, fireplaces, and candles. Make sure your pet is supervised around flames, keep them away from the area, and put out any flame before leaving. Using a flameless candle that contains a light bulb rather than a fire takes away the danger of a lit candle accidentally being knocked over. Cats are known for knocking things over with their tails.

Remove your stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, stoves and cooktops are the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Don’t use a glass water bowl on a wooden deck – When sunlight is filtered through glass and water, it can heat up and ignite the wood below it. Use a stainless steel or ceramic bowl instead.

Securing your pet – Especially with young puppies, keeping them in a crate or behind a baby gate in a secure area will ensure they are away from potential fire-starting hazards. If your pet is older and you still use a crate or confine them to a certain area, make sure they are close to an entrance. If a fire does start, firefighters can easily find them and remove them from the house.

Use a monitored smoke detection service – Since animals can’t escape, use a smoke detector that is connected to a monitoring center so emergency response teams will be contacted when you’re not home. Battery operated smoke alarms can be used in addition but they may scare your pet.

Affix a Pet Alert window cling – Write down the number of pets you have inside your house and what type of animal they are and attach it to a front window. This will help rescue teams know to look for your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets you have updated on the sticker. You can order one for free from the ASPCA by going here.

Safety Tips for Taking Your Dog to the Beach

Besides the ocean, there are many other dangers that your dog can encounter at the beach. Being alert and attentive and following some of these rules will make your beach getaway proceed without problems!

First, make sure to adhere to the beach’s specific rules as these are actually laws and you can be given a citation or fine. Some common laws include cleaning up after your dog, requiring your dog to wear a collar and ID tags and be up-to-date on vaccinations, be on a leash, and so on. Make sure to check prior to leaving to see if your beach destination is pet friendly!

Just like people, dogs can only handle so much sun. Sunscreen that is safe for your dog is available at pet stores or online. Do not use a sunscreen unless it is specifically labeled safe for animal use. Make sure there is a shady spot for your dog to retreat to like an umbrella, picnic table, or tree and bring plenty of fresh, cool water and a dog bowl. Offer water refills often, making sure that the water does not get hot in the sun. Watch for signs of overheating, which can include: excessive panting or drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, collapse, and loss of consciousness. If you start to see any of these signs immediately move your dog to a cooler environment. While staying calm and speaking in a soothing voice, wrap the dog in cool, wet towels. A fan can be used to help blow air over the animal to speed up the cooling and applying isopropyl alcohol to the paw pads will facilitate cooling and should be repeated as the alcohol dries. It is important to never fully immerse your overheated pet in water as it may increase their anxiety.

Hot sand is also a very real concern. Foot pad burns can occur when the sand is too hot. If a person cannot walk barefoot, their dog cannot either. While on the sand, lead the way for your dog to make sure they won’t step on anything sharp. Broken glass and shells are only two of many things that can hurt your pet’s paws. If your dog’s paw gets cut, apply pressure to the wound to ease the bleeding. If it’s severe, seek veterinary attention immediately. Once in the water, jellyfish and rocks start to potentially pose problems. If your dog gets stung by a jellyfish, douse the affected area in vinegar to ease the pain and kill off the stinging barbs before trying to remove the tentacles.

If your dog does not come to you every time you call them, keep them on a leash. You can buy a long-reaching leash (20-30 feet) which will still allow you and your dog to play with a ball or Frisbee without worrying about the possibility of them running away.

Pay close attention to your dog’s swimming habits. Fitness level, experience, and even breed of dog can influence how well your dog can swim. Poor swimmers and brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers should probably not spend much time on the beach. When in doubt, put a life vest on your dog and keep an eye out. If your pet does go in the water, make sure to remove them if they start to drink the water. Instead offer fresh, clean water since salt water is bad for dogs and can cause gastrointestinal problems. Salt water may also cause some irritation to their skin and paws. Rinsing your dog off with fresh water before you leave or shortly after getting home will help him or her stay comfortable and happy.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, have fun!