Monday, December 20, 2010

While visions of sugar plums dance in our heads...

our holiday traditions of candy and good cheer may not be so cheerful to our pets. Hit the jump to learn more.

In 2009, the ASPCA's Animal Poison COntrol Center took over 17,000 calls regarding pets ingesting, and being poisoned by, "people" food. Here is a list of "people" foods that our pets might not thank us for giving them.

-Chocolates, coffee and caffeine
-Macadamia nuts
-Grapes and raisins
-Yeast dough
-Raw/undercooked meat and meat
-Xylitol (a sweetener found in many products)
-Onions, garlic and chives

To learn about even more foods that may be dangerous (or not) for your pet during the holidays and all year-round, visit the ASPCA website.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When the weather outside is frightful...

don't forget to watch out for your furry friends. Hit the jump to find a few seasonal tips to keep your pets safe during extreme weather this winter.

1.) Keep pets inside when the temperature is below freezing.
2.) For outdoor pets, be sure they have proper shelter and their water is not frozen.
3.) After walks in the snow or anywhere that rock salt or other chemical de-icers are in use, be sure to wipe off your dog's legs and belly to prevent them from licking and ingesting those potentially dangerous substances.
4.) Don't leave your cat or dog in the car during cold weather.
5.) If your pet gets stuck outside in freezing weather for a long time it may get hypothermia. Signs include a slow pulse, shallow breathing, disorientation, collapse and unconcsciousness. If wet, dry your pet thoroughly, and then place warm (not hot) water bottles wrapped in towels around your pet. The ears, paws and other poorly insulated parts of the body may have frostbite; DO NOT RUB OR APPLY SNOW OR WATER TO THESE PARTS. Thaw the area slowly and get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
6.) Antifreeze is a lethal poison to cats and dogs. Clean up any spills and consider using products that contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Nutrition For Our Pets

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes colder weather, more time spent indoors and decadent treats- for both people and their pets. But the holiday season also brings with it a more subtle menace in pet obesity.

Much like how we often think that any weight we may put on during the holiday season will be easily shed during the summer months we often hold the same belief for our pets. And also much like us, our pets don’t always lose all that weight they may have gained. It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into and one that is all too common. What many of us need to realize is that our pets are not the same as their human companions and that even a slight change in weight can be disastrous for their health. After all a 1lb gain on a 10lb dog is the equivalent of 10lb on a 100lb person. Even that may not seem like much until you add up all those winters where the weight was gained but never really lost. This is why it is so important to monitor how much we feed our pets- especially when their activity levels drop over the winter months.

Another important issue to be aware of is that during the holiday rush our pets may get into things we probably wish they wouldn’t. In the veterinary field we have heard countless stories of whole turkeys disappearing from the dinner table, the ham still wrapped in its plastic casing that has mysteriously gone missing and holiday candies that were left just in reach of the family pet. Although some of these items may result in nothing more than a fatty snack for our pets others could lead to serious medical issues requiring immediate medical attention. While accidents can and do happen, by being aware of the potential hazards we can dramatically reduce the chances of having to make an emergency trip to our local veterinarian over the holidays.

A Few Food Conversions:
(1) Oatmeal Cookie for a Dog = (1) Hamburger for a Human
(1 oz.) of Cheese for a Cat = (4) Chocolate Bars for a Human
(1) Potato Chip for a Cat = (1/2) a Hamburger for a Human

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer affects the lives of millions of pets and owners each year.  To help better inform pet owners about the different types of cancers that may affect their pets and how to detect potential early signs of cancer VPI has declared November to be National Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

Pet Cancer Facts:
-Roughly 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in dogs and a similar number made in cats each year
-Cancer in the pet population is a spontaneous disease often similar to cancer seen in humans; some examples include non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer, head and neck carcinoma, mammary carcinoma, melanoma, soft tissue sarcoma, and osteosarcoma.

-The Canine Genome Sequencing Project at the Broad Institute successfully mapped the genome of a boxer named Tasha in 2005. The map of the genome has been used to confirm that many of the same genes involved in dog cancers are also involved in human cancers.

Related Links:
VPI Pet Insurance
Animal Cancer Foundation


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

F.D.A. Warns Against Purchasing Pet Medications Online

The United States Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has recently issued a consumer alert to pet owners, warning them about the dangers of buying discounted pet drugs online.

In particular, the F.D.A. is concerned with the sale of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), heartworm medications, and prescription pet food without a veterinarian’s written script.

NSAIDs should only be given after the veterinarian has physically examined your pet and blood tests have been run. Failing to do so could cause a variety of detrimental health issues for your pet one example of which is internal bleeding.

Heartworm medications should also only be given to a pet that has had a physical exam and a recent negative heartworm test result. It is important to remember to test for heartworm each year even if you give the heartworm preventative religiously due to the occasional occurrence of the preventative being ineffective. If heartworm medication is given to a dog that has the parasite severe health issues may occur. Remember it is always easier to prevent heartworm than it is to treat it.

Finally it is important to realize that many of the veterinary prescribed pet foods on the market are designed for pets with very specific dietary requirements. It is never recommended to feed these foods to any animal without a veterinarian’s permission as they have been specially formulated to meet your pet’s very specific health concerns.

Tips for purchasing your pet's drugs online:
1. Never purchase from an online pharmacy that says no prescription is required or that they will have their own in-house veterinarian review what medications your pet needs. In many cases your pet needs to receive a physical exam by your veterinarian and may require blood tests before starting these medications.

2. Order from a Web site that belongs to a Vet-VIPPS accredited pharmacy. Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) is a voluntary accreditation program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). NABP gives the Vet-VIPPS seal to online pharmacies that dispense prescription animal drugs and comply with NABP’s strict guidelines. It is important to note that Vet-VIPPS is a relatively new organization (formed in 2009) so there are currently only a few Vet-VIPPS accredited online pharmacies.

3. Mail your pet’s prescription provided by your veterinarian to the pharmacy after your pet receives a physical examination. While it may seem quicker to just fax a prescription or have approval given over the phone many veterinarians are hesitant to do so because of rampant fraud and the uncertainty of who they are actually speaking with.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today Is World Rabies Awareness Day

Rabies is a preventable but fatal disease that affects the nervous system of mammals. It is spread through contact with the blood or saliva of an infected animal and can be found worldwide. While most rabies cases reported in the US are from wild animals such raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes the disease can also affect domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, cattle, horses and sheep. The fact that our pets can catch the disease and potentially pass it to us is one of a multitude of reasons why it is so important to keep our pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

Although the whole month of September is generally dedicated to raising rabies awareness worldwide the official date of observance is not until the 28th of the month.. If interested you can find further information about the disease and how it's spread can be prevented  by checking out the World Rabies Day Website. Read more...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010



Saturday, October 2, 2010

11 AM until 3 PM

At the Animal Clinic at Thorndale

431 Bondsville Road, Downingtown, PA

Just off 30 Bypass Thorndale exit, opposite Thorndale Inn, next to Turkey Hill

Call ahead, 610-873-4091, to schedule a time slot and download registration materials at our website:


All profits will benefit the Downingtown High Schools Marching Bands
Tournament of Roses Parade Fund

*Pennsylvania State law requires all cats and dogs to have a current rabies vaccination. Keep your pets and your family safe and help support a wonderful group of bands students. The band members are also giving back to the community by each student working at least 20 hours of community service. Read more...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Benefiting Downingtown High School Bands

Sunday September 19, 2010
11 AM until 3 PM

Towel dry only

Please be certain to have your pet on leash

Walk-in’s Welcome!

$10 toy - small dog
$15 medium – large dog
$20 giant breed dogs

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pet Food Recalls: How Do They Affect You and Your Pet

Ever since the melamine-related pet food recall of 2007 there has been an increased concern about the food we offer our pets. While a food recall is never something to take lightly (there are times when it is clearly warranted), these days it seems that the news is flooded with them. So what's the deal? Do pet food manufacturers just not care about what you feed your pets? Or are there more recalls simply because more eyes are focused on the industry? Below is an excerpt from an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) newsletter outlining the issue regarding Salmonella related pet food recalls, the possible causes of the increase in recall numbers, and how it affects you and your pets.

So why all the concern regarding contaminated pet food products?  Since many pet foods and treats contain products originating from other animals they are at a higher risk of contamination with Salmonella, E. Coli, and other organisms. That being said, in general, these products are cooked to such a high temperature as to kill any of these unwanted organisms. However, if a contaminated additive (for example a flavoring) is added after the food is cooked then the final food will also be contaminated. While there are many safeguards to minimize the risk of these foods becoming contaminated if a product is suspected to be contaminated most reputable companies will perform a voluntary recall on their product.  Remember, most people in the pet food industry do have your pets health in mind.

It is also important to consider why there may be an increase in overall reporting in the industry. The first reason is the increased vigilance of the manufacturers and the federal government regarding Salmonella and other health concerns. This improved focus on the industry has lead to increased surveillance and reporting of problems when they occur. The second reason is that a new early detection reporting system has recently been launched for all food products, both human and pet. The Reportable Food Registry allows and requires immediate reporting of any safety problems with food and animal feed (including pet food). This has drastically reduced the time needed to detect and report safety concerns regarding food products.

Finally, be sure to protect your family by using common sense sanitary measures.  Although most pet foods are perfectly safe to handle the AVMA still recommends that you always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet foods or treats. In addition do not let very young children, immunocompormised adults, or the elderly handle these products excessively as they may be placed at a higher risk.  Be particularly cautious areound raw products such as raw hides and pig ear chews as these products are not sterilized like regular pet treats and food.  The AVMA also recommends that you do not prepare any pet food or feed your pet in the kitchen. This will help reduce any risk of cross contamination between the food you give your pets and the food you eat.  If you do feed your pets in the kitchen be sure to feed them as far away from the preparation area as possible.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Take Your Cat to the Vet Week 8/16-8/22

Feline Pine, the natural cat litter company, has extended its “National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day” to a whole week, Aug. 16-22. The observance was extended due to positive feedback from veterinarians and cat owners at last year’s Chicago event. The goal of the event is to educate cat owners about the importance of annual visits for their pets.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

IAMS Pet Food Recall Expanded

Proctor and Gamble (P&G) has expanded their current pet food recall on Prescription Renal Diet cat food to include K9 IAMS Veterinary Dry Formulas, Eukanuba Naturally Wild, Eukanuba Pure, and Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin. More details can be located on Read more...


A big thank you to everyone who came out to support the Downingtown High Schools Bands this past Sunday as they march onward to reach their ultimate goal of the Tournament of Roses Parade 2011 in Pasadena, California.  None of this could be possible without your support. Read more...

Monday, July 26, 2010


The Animal Clinic at Thorndale will be hosting a dog wash fundraiser for the Downingtown High School Bands Tournament of Roses Parade.

When: Sunday August 1, 2010
Where: The Animal Clinic at Thorndale

How It Works:
Towel dry only.
Please be certain to have your pet on a leash.
Walk-In's Welcome!

$10 Toy-Small Dog
$15 Medium-Large Dog
$20 Giant Breed Dogs

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Purchasing Pet Insurance: Navigating A Maze Of Confusion

Pet Insurance. These two words inspire confusion in nearly everyone who hears them from veterinarians to pet owners. Who covers what and how, who pays who and when, and all this talk about “pre-existing” conditions are all topics most people would rather not deal with. But despite all these aggravations pet insurance can still be a wonderful idea. After all who wouldn’t want to make sure their pets are well taken care of? To help alleviate some of the mystery involved with the pet insurance industry here is a quick checklist for you to use should you ever venture into the pet insurance jungle.

7 Questions To Ask:
1.) What is covered?
2.) What is NOT covered? (Be sure to ask this specifically as some insurers will try to avoid this topic all together.)
3.) Does it cover “pre-existing” conditions?
-If so what is considered “pre-existing”?
-Does it start when the policy is first picked up and last until you cancel?
-Does it restart at your renewal date each year?
4.) Does it cover routine visits?
-Preventive medication? (think heartworm or flea/tick medication)
-What percent is covered?
5.) Does it cover non-routine visits?
-What percent is covered?
6.) Are there age restrictions?
-Does the policy terminate when your pet reaches a certain age?
-Do the fees change?
-Does the coverage change?
7.) Is there a deductible?
-When is it paid?
-Is there a dollar cap?
-What is it?
-Is it per visit?
-Is it yearly?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Speedlinks: June 30, 2010

Your portal to the most interesting, absurd, and unbelievable animal stories in the news today.

What's a pup to do when she can't see where the food bowl is? Get a seeing eye dog to help.

The top dogs of 2010. Did your breed make the list?

We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic cat. Oscar will be that cat. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

IAMS Cat Food Recall

Proctor & Gamble Co. (P&G) has performed a voluntary recall for specific lots of its IAMS Proactive Health Canned Cat and Kitten food. The recall affects all 3 varieties of 5.5-ounce cans dated 09/2011 to 06/2012. P&G reported the recall after diagnostic testing showed that the affected cans contained insufficient levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1). The vitamin is essential for supporting and maintaining a cat's healthy functioning of nerves, brain and muscle cells. In addition to its use with the brain and muscles thiamine plays an integral part in the conversion of carbohydrates and fat into energy.

For a full product refund and more information regarding the recall cat owners should call P&G toll free at 877-340-8826. Read more...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hot Dogs of Summer

Summer has returned and while we may be looking forward to the warmer weather, spending more time outdoors and sitting by the pool we must remember that with the heat comes a whole new set of problems for our favorite furry friends.

Hot Pavement:
Have you ever tried to walk barefoot out on your road or driveway during the heat of the day? Now imagine walking outside with not just two bare feet bur four. Get the idea? The pavement can get extremely hot, especially during the heat of the day, so to prevent burnt paw pads try to keep your pets inside between 10AM-4PM or if they must go outside be sure to give them a nice grassy area to walk around on. Your dog will thank you for it.

Nasty Chemicals:

Along with summer comes all the chemicals we use to remove unwanted guests. Herbicides, insecticides and lawn fertilizers are all brought out of storage to combat pesky intruders we would rather not see. If you think an area has been recently treated with any of these chemicals do your pet a favor and keep them off the lawn. In addition, don't let your pets drink from any puddles that may be collecting on roads or driveways. They may contain antifreeze, oil or residue from any number of other potentially harmful chemicals. Instead carry a water bottle with you that you can use for your dog if they get a little thirsty.

4th of July:
Ahhh, the 4th of July. The barbeques, the fairs and best of all the FIREWORKS!!! Who wouldn't enjoy all that? The answer may be your dog. Large crowds of unfamiliar people may stress out your dog which is never a good a idea when heat and humidity are high. If you do decide to bring your pet along to a barbeque or party make sure that none of the other guests slip them something they shouldn't have. What may seem like an innocent treat may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or worse. Lastly, fireworks scare many dogs for the very same reasons we love them. They are loud, colorful and light up the sky. For a dog who may not understand what is going on this can all lead to a terrifying experience.

Going For A Drive:
The sun is out, it's a beautiful day and you decide to bring the dog along for a ride n the car while you run errands. What you may not realize is that you may be putting your pet at risk of heat stroke even if you will only be “just a minute” in the store. Car temperatures can quickly rise above 100 degrees in only a few short minutes even if the windows are cracked and the car is parked in the shade. And as the temperature rises so does the risk of heat stroke to our pets. This is due in part to the way our pets regulate their body temperatures. Cats and dogs don't sweat like people do. Instead the perspire from their paw pads and by panting. This may be an effective means of temperature control under normal conditions but in an enclosed vehicle with a rapidly rising temperature it can easily lead to disaster.

Fun In The Sun:

It's common knowledge that before we go out under the hot summer sun we should apply a healthy dose of sunscreen After all who wants to deal with dry, flaky, painful skin or risk contracting skin cancer. Well the same principle applies for your pets. This is especially true if your dog has short or fair colored hair that leaves more of their skin exposed. Any sunscreen you use should be applied to exposed portions of skin such as the tips of their ears, the skin around their lips, and the tip of their nose. Remember a little goes a long way so don't slather on too much.

Most of us enjoy a refreshing swim during the summer months and your dog is often more than willing to take that plunge right after you. But before they dive in be sure to remember that no matter if it is in a pool, lake or river you should never leave your pet unattended. Much like a small child they may have trouble getting themselves out of the water, get caught in a current or have some other issue requiring your assistance. So for your safety and theirs be sure to always keep your pet in sight wherever you are.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

National Pet Week

This week is National Pet Week so don't feel so bad when you slip your dog that extra treat this week. To find out more about National Pet Week visit


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Foods Your Pet Will Love

In a previous article we covered foods you shouldn’t be feeding your dog. And what a list is was. We covered everything from avocados to onions and chocolate. So with such an extensive list of foods you shouldn’t feed your dog are there really any foods that are safe to offer as a treat?

***Quick Note***
Remember, everything in moderation. Too much of something a dog isn't used to eating can cause digestive upset, such as vomiting and/or diarrhea. Treats/snacks/extras should only make up a very small portion of your dog’s diet and are generally no substitute for dog food designed specially for them.

Dog Food & Treats
Of course the best treats you can offer your pet is one specially formulated for his or her needs. You can purchase treats like this pre made or make them yourself at home. If you are interested in making your own dog treats is a wonderful resource available online.

Lean Meats
Lean meats, such as deskinned and deboned chicken, can make a great snack for your pet. Just make sure it is thoroughly cooked before offering as raw or undercooked meats can carry harmful bacteria that can make your pet sick.

Some fruits
Fruits can make for a tasty snack if you are looking to switch things up a little. Just be careful not to offer fruits such as peaches (the pit contains small amounts of a cyanide like toxin) and remove any seeds before offering. A few pet friendly fruits include apples, oranges, bananas, and watermelons.

Remember how your mom always told you to eat your vegetables because they were good for you? Well, as it turns out they can be good for your pet as well. Carrots, sliced cucumbers, green beans, and sliced zucchini are all great snacks for your pet to chew on. And the best part? No cooking necessary.

Pasta & Rice
They’re simple, they’re quick, and they can be great when your dog’s not feeling his best. Rice and pasta (served plain of course) are great foods to offer your pet. So next time you fix up a pasta dinner for the family why not set a little aside for “Fido”? Just remember not to give too much as no snack should be a substitute for his normal diet.

During the hot summer months who wouldn’t like something a little cold to munch on? While ice may not be the best thing for their teeth it is a very safe treat that many dogs seem to love.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

World Veterinary Day

It's World Veterinary Day today. So set aside some time for you and your furry friends to visit your favorite veterinarian and tell them how much you appreciate all they do for you and your furred, feathered, and scaled friends.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day: Green Tips For Your Pets

Tomorrow (April 22nd) is Earth Day and to celebrate here are a few tips you can use to make you and your pet more eco-friendly.

1.) Scoop the poop! Use biodegradable bags to collect your dog’s waste. Normal bags may take decades to decompose in a landfill. Using bags that meet biodegradability standards (ASTM D6400) can reduce our mark on the planet as they will decompose in just a few short months. For cats try more environmentally friendly litter alternatives such as those made from plant sources or recycled newspaper. Not only are they just as effective as clay litters but they contain less chemicals and don’t need to be mined for their main component.

2.) Don’t throw that away. Old socks with a ball tied inside can make a great toy for any dog and some left over pieces of cardboard combined with a little catnip can make for a great scratching post. Also those big plastic containers your cats litter comes in can be reused as well. A few creative suggestions include using them as a planter, tool bucket, pet food container, and more.

3.) Protect local wildlife by keeping your dog leashed and your cat indoors. Dogs and cats can be devastating to local wildlife if left unchecked. So give them a chance and keep your pets close to home.

4.) Organize a dog park cleanup. Not only will it keep your community cleaner but the satisfaction in knowing you did your part will be a big reward in itself.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Smile And Say “Dog Bone”!

Having a pet can be one of the greatest experiences you will ever know. From relaxing together on the couch after a long day, to hikes through the woods, and games of catch your time together will be filled with memorable moments. However, if like most people you want to use your camera to make these moments last forever you will find that few things in life can be as frustrating as taking your pet’s picture. Below is a list of 5 tips and tricks you can use to get the best possible pictures of your furry friend for you to share with family and friends.

1. The sun is your best friend
Q: What is extremely powerful, free to use, and available almost everywhere?
A: The sun.

Sunlight is your best friend when photographing your pet. It’s more powerful than any flash you can buy for your camera and best of all it’s free to use. However, for best results try to avoid direct sunlight as this may cause deep shadows and obscure details such as the eyes. Instead take the picture in a shady area such as a room in the house with a large window or outside under a tree. If you don’t have a tree readily available don’t despair! A cloudy or overcast day will work just as well.

2. Turn off the flash
The problem with on camera flash is that it causes very severe “red eye” (or in the case of cats and dogs “green eye”). The eyes of cats and dogs collect and reflect light much better than ours, which is why they can see better than us at night, and your camera’s flash will accentuates this feature. If flash is an absolute must for a picture then try to not have your pet looking directly at the camera. By having them turn their head slightly to one side (even by just a small amount) you can reduce the amount of discoloration of the eyes in the final image or possibly remove it altogether.

3. Use the buddy system
Here is how this tip is going to work. You take the pictures and a friend distracts the model (aka your pet). The reason this works is because it allows your cat or dog to focus on something else besides the camera. A good assistant will be able to help get a cat to look in a particular direction or keep a dog sitting for those few extra moments you may need. A few suggested pieces of equipment for your assistant to use include some of your pet’s favorite treats, a favorite toy, and/or a noisemaker to attract and maintain your pet’s attention.

4. Get down to their level
Everybody knows what your dog looks like from the top down view so why not change things up a little to get a whole new perspective on your furry friend. To instantly increase the quality of your pictures try to get down to your pet’s eye level. Yes, this may mean you will have to get down on your hand and knees or even stomach but the payoffs are huge. Pictures taken in this way both seem more personable and have an undeniable cuteness factor.

5. Show what makes them unique
Does your dog have a unique expression all his own? Does your cat like to stretch out a certain way or peek out at you from around the corner? If so keep on alert for these precious moments and always keep a camera within easy reach so you won’t miss a thing.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heartworm Disease: Getting To The Heart Of The Matter

Heartworm Facts:
-Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis.

-The female worm is 6 to 14 inches (15 to 36 cm) long and 1/8 inch (5 mm) wide; the male is about half the size of the female.

-Heartworms are found in the heart and large adjacent vessels of infected dogs. One dog may have as many as 300 worms.

Read on to find out how this potentially deadly parasite is spread and what you can do to prevent it from affecting your dog.

How Heartworms Get into the Heart

Adult heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected dogs. They have been found in other areas of the body, but this is unusual. In a dog they can survive up to 5 years and, during this time, a female worm can produce millions of young (microfilaria). These microfilaria live in the bloodstream, mainly in the small blood vessels, where they wait for a mosquito to bite the infected dog so they can complete their life cycle. Microfilaria in this stage are not conidered to be infective as they are unable to fully mature without the intermediate mosquito host.  However, even though they are not considered "infective" they can still cause other problems for the infected dog.

Once a female mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests the microfilaria during a blood meal the microfilaria continue developing for another 10 to 30 days before entering the mouthparts of the mosquito. After entering the mouthparts of a mosquito the microfilaria are now considered "infective." If the microfilaria are transmitted to a dog during this stage they will complete their life cycle and grow into an adult worm.


Canine heartworm disease occurs all over the world. In the United States, it was once limited to the south and southeast regions. However, the disease is spreading and is now found in most regions of the United States and Canada, particularly where mosquitoes are prevalent.


The disease is not spread directly from dog to dog. An intermediate host, the mosquito, is required for transmission. Spread of the disease therefore coincides with the mosquito season. The number of dogs infected and the length of the mosquito season are directly correlated with the incidence of heartworm disease in any given area.

It takes a number of years before a dog can show any outward signs of infection. Consequently, the disease is diagnosed mostly in 4 to 8 year old dogs. The disease is seldom diagnosed in a dog under 1 year of age because the young worms (larvae) take up to 7 months to mature following establishment of infection in a dog.

Effects on the Dog

Adult worms: Adult worms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart. They interfere with the valve action in the heart and by clogging the main blood vessels, the blood supply to other organs of the body is reduced, particularly in the lungs, liver and kidneys, leading to malfunction of these organs.

Dogs infected with heartworms may not show any signs of the disease for as long as 2 years. Unfortunately, this means by the time signs are seen, the disease is well advanced. The severity of the signs of heartworm disease depend on several factors including the number of adult worms present, the location of the worms, the length of time the worms have been present, and the degree of damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys from the adult worms and the microfilaria.

The most commons symptoms are: a soft, dry, chronic cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness, and loss of stamina. All of these signs are usually most noticeable following exercise, and may cause some dogs to even faint.

Listening to the chest with a stethoscope will often reveal abnormal lung and heart sounds and in advanced cases, congestive heart failure may be apparent or the abdomen and legs may swell from fluid accumulation. There may also be evidence of weight loss, poor condition, and anemia.

In extreme cases severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.

Microfilaria (Young worms): Microfilaria circulate throughout the body but remain primarily in the small blood vessels. Because they are as wide as the small vessels, they may block blood flow in these vessels causing damage to the cells and tissues beyond. The lungs and liver are two organs commonly damaged in this way.


In most cases, diagnosis of heartworm disease can be made by a simple blood test that can be run in the veterinary hospital. If a postivie result comes back further diagnostic procedures are essential, in advanced cases particularly, to determine if the dog can tolerate heartworm treatment. Depending on the case, some or all of the following procedures may be recommended before treatment is started.

Serological test for antigens to adult heartworms: This is a test performed on a blood sample and works by detecting antigens (proteins) produced by adult heartworms.

Blood test for microfilariae: A blood sample could also be examined under the microscope for the presence of microfilaria. If microfilariae are seen, the test is positive. The number of microfilaria is then counted to give a general indication of the severity of the infection.

Blood chemistries: Complete blood counts and blood tests for kidney and liver function may give an indirect indication of the presence of heartworm disease if they show abormal values. These tests are also often performed on dogs diagnosed as heartworm-infected to determine the function of the dog's organs prior to treatment.

Radiographs (X-rays): A radiograph of a dog with heartworms will usually show heart enlargement and swelling of the large artery leading to the lungs from the heart. These signs are considered presumptive evidence of heartworm disease. Radiographs may also reveal the condition of the heart, lungs, and vessels. This information allows us to predict an increased possibility of complications related to treatment.

Electrocardiogram: An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a tracing of the electric currents generated by the heart. It is most useful to determine the presence of abnormal heart rhythms.

Echocardiography (Sonogram): An echocardiogram allows us to see into the heart chambers and even visualize the heartworms themselves. Although somewhat expensive, this procedure can diagnose heartworms when other tests fail.


There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are rare. In the past, the drug used to treat heartworms contained arsenic so toxic effects and reactions occurred somewhat frequently. Now a newer drug is available that does not have the toxic side effects of the old one. Today we are able to successfully treat more than 95% of dogs with heartworms.

We see some dogs with advanced heartworm disease. This means that the heartworms have been present long enough to cause substantial damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and liver. A few of these cases will be so far advanced that it will be safer to just treat the organ damage rather than risk treatment to kill the worms. Dogs in this condition are not likely to live more than a few weeks or months.

Treatment to kill adult worms: An injectable drug to kill adult heartworms is drug is given for two days. It kills the adult heartworms in the heart and adjacent vessels.

Complete rest is essential after treatment: The adult worms will die in a few days and then start to decompose. As they break up, they are carried to the lungs, where they lodge in the small blood vessels and are eventually reabsorbed by the body. This is a dangerous period, and it is absolutely essential that the dog be kept quiet and not be allowed to exercise for 1 month following treatment. The first week after the injections is very critical because the worms are dying. A cough can be noticeable for 7 to 8 weeks after treatment in many heavily infected dogs.

Prompt treatment is essential if the dog has a significant reaction in the weeks following the initial treatment, although such reactions are not common. If a dog shows loss of appetite, shortness of breath, severe coughing, coughing up blood, fever, and/or depression, you should notify us. Response to antibiotics, cage rest, and supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, is usually good in these cases.

Treatment to kill microfilaria: Approximately 1 month following treatment to kill the adults, the dog is returned to the hospital for administration of a drug to kill microfilaria. Your dog needs to stay in the hospital for the day. Seven to ten days later a test is performed to determine if microfilaria are present. If they have been all killed, the treatment is complete. If there are still some present in the blood, treatment for microfilaria is repeated.

In some cases, the heartworm infection is "occult," meaning that no microfilaria were present. In this case, a follow-up treatment at one month is not needed.

Other treatments: In dogs with severe heartworm disease, it may be necessary to treat them with antibiotics, special diets, diuretics to remove fluid accumulations, and drugs to improve heart function prior to treatment for the heartworms.

Dogs with severe heart disease may need lifetime treatment for the failing heart, even after the heartworms have been killed. This includes the use of diuretics, heart drugs, aspirin, and special low salt, low protein diets.

Response to treatment: Dog owners are usually pleasantly surprised at the change in their dog following treatment for heartworms, especially if the dog had been showing signs of heartworm disease. The dog has a renewed vigor and vitality, improved appetite, and weight gain.


When a dog has been successfully treated for heartworms, you cannot sit back and relax because dogs can be reinfected. Therefore, it is essential to begin a heartworm prevention program. Three commonly available products for heartworm prevention are HeartGard*, Interceptor*, and Revolution*. Heartgard* and Interceptor* are chewable tablets that are given only once a month while Revolution* is a topical product that is also applied once monthly. All three products are very safe and very effective and one of these should be started immediately after treatment is completed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Facts of Life

The Facts of Life (Canine Version)

1.) Dogs have about 100 different facial expressions, most of them made with the ears.
2.) The common belief that dogs are color blind is false. Dogs can see color, but the color scheme they see is not the same as ours. They distinguish between blue, yellow, and gray, but probably do not see red or green.
3.) Every known dog except the Chow has a pink tongue- the Chow’s tongue is jet black.
4.) The expression “three dog night” originated with the Eskimos and means a very cold night- so cold that you have to bed down with three dogs to stay warm.
5.) At the end of the Beatles song “A Day In The Life”, an ultrasonic whistle, audible only to dogs, was recorded by Paul McCartney for his Shetland sheepdog.

To read the feline version hit the jump.

The Facts of Life (Feline Version)
1.) Cats can be either right-pawed or left-pawed.
2.) Cats respond most readily to names that end in an “ee” sound. And, they love to hear the sound of their own name and your voice, so talk to them often.
3.) Cats can see up to 120 feet away. Their peripheral vision is about 285 degrees.
4.) Cats are the only domestic animals that walk directly on the claws, not on their pads. This method of walking is called “digitigrade.”
5.) A cat’s sense of taste is keener than that of a dog.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Life And Times Of Your Cat

From kitten to senior citizen our cats live remarkable lives. Listed below are some normal behaviors and common health concerns for each of your cat’s life stage:

Birth to 1 year (Kitten)
Initially, while your kitten is just beginning to learn her way around, she may be playful, but will also most likely be very shy as she adjusts to her knew home. As she progresses through this life stage she will come out of her shell and become more playful, spunky, and adventurous. At approximately six months old, you should spay or neuter if you are not planning to breed your cat.

1 to 8 years (Prime)
Your young cat is in her prime. Remember your annual visits to the veterinarian as health issues such as obesity, dental disease, and heart disease may start to make their first appearance. Also be sure to have her checked for parasites regularly as she is a keen hunter at this stage.

8 to 12 years (Senior)
Your cat is now considered a senior and may begin to slow down, but her behavior shouldn't change much. Previous health issues may start to increase in severity and new ones may start to appear so it is important to continue your regular visits to your veterinarian. Cats in this stage of life have an increased risk of diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and cancer. Obesity can also be a major health issue for cats in this age range.

12+ years (Geriatric)
Your cat is entering old age. You may begin to notice some new health problems arise or an increase in severity of pre-existing ones. During this stage your cat will be at an even greater risk for all of the health issues listed in the previous stages. Your cat will also most likely move slower and may develop arthritis as her joints begin to stiffen. You may also notice a change in her temperament as she becomes more easily irritated at this stage.

Final Thoughts
Your cat is a great companion and loves you very much. That is why it is so important to recognize the milestones in your cat’s life so you can take the best possible care of her.

As with any health-related issue, whenever you have concerns about your cat, consult your veterinarian. He or she is familiar with your cat and her medical history and has the professional skill and knowledge to identify and treat whatever might be the problem.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Seven Deadly Foods

It’s dinner time once again and as if by clockwork your dog starts circling the table looking for a free hand out. We may not think much about giving our dogs table scraps, after all what was good for us must surely be good for them, but we often forget just how different we really are from our beloved pet. Below is a list of seven everyday foods that could do your pooch more harm than good. Some are only trouble if given in large quantities while others can be deadly in any amount. Either way these tasty treats could lead to serious problems.

Most commonly used as the main ingredient in guacamole, avocado includes a toxin called persin. While relatively harmless to humans (unless you are allergic) persin can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs when consumed in a large enough quantity. And not only does the fruit contain the toxin but so do the seeds, leaves, and bark from the tree.

Candy, Gum, Toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods
The products in question from the list above are those sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally occuring sugar substitute often used in the food industry. If ingested it can potentially cause an increase in insulin, a drop in blood pressure, seizures, and possibly liver failure. Initial symptims may include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination.

It’s common knowledge that chocolate is bad for dogs. But did you know the main culprit behind this deadly treat is called theobromine? A bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant, theobromine can be found in all forms of chocolate including white chocolate. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate contain theobromine at it's highest conecntrations so should be avoided at all costs. Potential symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and excessive thirst. If a case of severe poisoning is observed heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even possibly death may occur.

Fat Trimmings and Bones
It has been a long held belief that all a dog wants in life is a warm bed, a spare hand to throw a ball, and a good bone to chew on. However, bones may not be the great treat they appear to be. In general bones are a choking hazard and when chewed may splinter causing an obstruction or laceration of your dog’s digestive system. In addition all the fat we often leave attached to the bone can lead to furtrher health issues such as pancreatitis. So do your dog a favor and next time they look at you with those big brown eyes put that bone in the trash where it belongs and not in their dog bowl.

Grapes and Raisins
A show of hands, how many of you give your dog a grape every once in a while? It’s more common than you might think, after all it’s only a grape so what could possibly be the problem. The problem is grapes and raisins can potentially cause kidney failure in dogs. The reason for this is still unknown but the fact of the matter is you shouldn’t be handing out free grapes to your four legged friend. Early signs of poisoning can include vomiting and hyperactivity. If left unchecked within a day your dog may become lethargic and depressed.

Macadamia Nuts
In general no nut is a good nut when speaking in terms of your dog. However, macadamia nuts are surely one of the worst. As few as six nuts is it all it can take to make your dog ill. Symptoms include muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of hind quarters, elevated body temperatures, and rapid heart rate. If chocolate is added to the mix the symptoms can be even worse.

Onions are toxic in all its forms whether it’s powdered, raw, cooked, and dehydrated. The problem with onions is that in a large enough quantity they can destroy red blood cells causing anemia. While a very tiny amount once in a while may be ok a large amount in one sitting or small amounts over a long period can be harmful. Symptoms of onion poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, dullness, and breathlessness.

If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the items on our list then be sure to check their mouth thoroughly and make sure nothing was swallowed. If you think your pet may have swallowed something contact your local veterinarian immediately and have the phone number for poison control on hand in case you are directed to give them a call. The phone number for the ASPCA Poison Control Center is 1-888-426-4435.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Speedlinks: March 3, 2010

Your portal to the most interesting, absurd, and unbelievable animal stories in the news today.

What do "George" the great dane and a small horse have in common?  They are the same size.

Meet "Sockington".  He spends his days clearing up all those nagging questions you have about what your cat is actually thinking.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Truth Behind Coccidia

We all know how important it is to have our pets receive an annual physical by their veterinarian each and every year and as part of their yearly checkup we are often asked to bring in a stool sample. When pressed for a reason why the most common response is to check for parasites or worms. But what exactly is your veterinarian looking for and why is it so important to check for it? How could your “indoor only” pet possible pick up any kind of parasite? Over the next few months we will cover the most commonly seen types of parasites, how your pet can come in contact with them, and what you can do if your pet already has them. Today’s spotlight in our series will be on one of the smallest villains in our series: coccidia.

Coccidia is a one-celled organism that lives within the cells of the intestinal lining. They are not actual worms, but are are often confused with them due to the fact they live in the intestinal tract and commonly cause diarrhea.

Prevalence and Contributing Factors
Coccidia is often found in young kittens and puppies especially if they are strays or have come from a crowded environment with poor hygiene (pet store, puppy “mill,” etc.). The major contributing factors to the spread of coccidia infections are overcrowding, poor sanitation, and stress.

Oocysts (immature coccidia; "eggs") are passed into the environament through the stool of the dog or cat. They lie in the environment and eventually sporulate (mature; hatch) into a more developed oocyst that can then infect the same dog again. This process can occur in as little as 6 hours, but it usually takes 7-10 days. Other dogs, cats, or other animals may also become infected if they come in contact with the contaminated stool. Mature oocysts can be ingested intentially, if your pet eats it’s own stool or the stool of another animal, or accidentally, for example if you pet walks through an infected area and then lickes his or her paws. Once swallowed the mature oocysts will complete it’s life cycle in the animal's intestine. Coccidia can also be spread if your pet eats another infected animal, for example a mouse that is infected with coccidia.

Clinical Signs
Most dogs with an active coccidia infection do not show any clinical signs such as diarrhea. However, the “eggs” (oocysts) can still be found in the stool of a dog or cat with a simple lab test. When found in the stool of a healthy pet that is showing no clinical symptoms they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding. However, in puppies and debilitated adult dogs, they may cause severe, watery diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal distress, and vomiting. In very severe cases, death may occur.

The presence of coccidia is diagnosed by performing a microscopic examination of a stool sample. Since the oocysts (“eggs”) are much smaller than the eggs of other intestinal parasites, they can be easily missed unless a very careful study is made. An infection with some of the less common coccidial parasites can later be confirmed with additional tests that may require specialized laboratory facilities.

The most common drug used to eliminate coccidia is a sulfa-type antibiotic which is typically given for 10-14 days. The medication is sweet-tasting and most pets will take it with no issue. If the infection persists after giving the sulfa-type drug other medications are also available. If any additional symptoms from the infection such as diarrhea or dehydration occur additional medication may also be needed.

In most cases, a good response to treatment is expected and most pets recover fully. The presence of concurrent diseases or immune suppression can make the prognosis less certain.

Transmission to Humans
The most common form of coccidia found in dogs does not have any affect on humans. However, less common types of coccidia are potentially infectious to humans. One parasite, called Cryptosporidium, may be carried by dogs and may possibly be transmitted to people. This parasite has also been found in public water supplies in some major cites. Another coccidial organism, Toxoplasma, is carried by cats and is of particular concern to pregnant women because of the potential to cause birth defects in newborns. This organism is only able to complete its life cycle in the cat.

These two coccidial parasites pose a health risk for immunosuppressed humans (i.e., AIDS patients, those taking immune suppressant drugs, cancer patients, the elderly). Good hygiene and proper disposal of dog and cat feces are important in minimizing risk of transmission of all parasites to humans. Although there is risk of pets transmitting parasites to humans, it does not warrant removing the pet from the household except in very rare instances.

Reinfection of dogs is very common so sanitizing the environment is very important. The use of chlorine bleach, one cup in a gallon of water, is an effective way to sterilize any surfaces that can be safely treated with it. Because coccidia tends to be a problem in areas of poor sanitation, the need to keep the area as clean and sanitary as possible cannot be emphasized enough.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wellness Programs- What Are They Good For?

Well actually quite a lot. Many of us, when visiting our family doctor for a routine physical examination will choose to have blood tests similar to the ones offered by your local veterinarian for your pets run for ourselves. We may feel great, but we also want to know that our cholesterol, blood sugars, and other signifiers of health are all okay. Your doctor, much like your veterinarian, understands how important a good baseline is for us when diagnosing future health concerns and he or she also understands that when hidden health issues are detected early more options for treatment are made available

At the Animal Clinic at Thorndale, p.c. we offer two wellness programs for our patients. The first is a junior wellness program that includes a complete blood count (CBC), abbreviated blood chemistry profile and a heartworm test. Pets must be 6 years old or younger, have a complete physical examination, be current vaccinations, and not have any clearly apparent abnormalities that would require more extensive testing at the time to be eligible. These screenings help provide a baseline with which to compare when your pet is sick and can also help defer some of the cost of the annual visit since they already include a heartworm test. The senior wellness program is available for all our patients 7 years and older. This wellness program includes a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry, and urinalysis. These three simple testing procedures provide your veterinarian with invaluable information about your pet’s health status and can screen for potential health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, liver disease, anemia, and bleeding disorders. The earlier these problems are found, the sooner your veterinarian can help your pet feel better and fill those golden years with plenty of happy purrs, tail wags, and sunny walks in the park.

As you can see the benefits far outweigh any cost that will be incurred for these basic screenings. Not only will they give you the peace of mind knowing that your pet is in great health but also if the unforeseeable happens and they catch a hidden problem early enough they greatly improve the odds of your favorite pet living a long, happy life. So next time you take your pet in to see your veterinarian ask about what wellness screening programs they offer and give them a serious consideration. It could be some of the best money you’ve spent in a long time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Wonderland: Tips On Having A Fun and Safe Time Outdoors When It Snows

Winter has arrived in force this year and it's hard to see an end in sight. It is important to remember that although all the snow can be a lot of fun we still need to be careful when playing outside. Freezing temperatures, dehydration, and antifreeze are all things to be on the lookout for when the white stuff starts falling from the sky. The following link contains a list of ten tips you can use to keep you and your dog safe during this winter season.

Winter Safety Tips For Your Dog


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February Is Dental Health Month



Dental plaque, tartar, and periodontal disease are inevitable parts of life for animals just like for people. Humans brush daily and visit their dentist on a regular basis to minimize and prevent dental disease. Sadly our pets don't always get such good treatment. When was the last time you brushed your pet’s teeth or even looked in their mouth? Left unchecked dental disease can lead to a variety of problems including but not exclusive to those listed below.

-Tooth Loss
-Stinky Breath (strong enough to knock you over)
-Infections and disease in other organs such as the heart, liver, or kidneys


Daily tooth brushing is still considered the best at-home approach to dental disease and a variety of pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are available. In addition to brushing you can try applying a weekly application of Oravet, a barrier prevention gel, which can help reduce plaque and tartar build-up. Chew toys and treats (such as C.E.T. treats and Greenies) are also a great way to prevent dental disease since they work by wearing down plaque and tartar buildup along the tooth similar to how a toothbrush works. When taking into consideration all these options it is important to remember that while each of these products may be helpful in fighting dental disease none of them are a complete solution on their own.

In fact a time will probably come when your pets’ teeth will need a professional cleaning no matter how well you take care of them at home. This includes a thorough examination of the oral cavity and a complete scaling and polishing of all their teeth. This is the most expensive option when it comes to fighting dental disease but it is also the most effective and thorough. When this time comes be confident in knowing that your pets are getting the best possible care and they will live a happier, healthier life for having it done.

February is Dental Health Month for both you and your pet. It’s as good a time as any to start daily tooth brushings with your pet or to schedule that professional cleaning you have been putting off. Remember, they’re worth the extra effort and you will enjoy the rewards as well.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fleas: The Phantom Menace

Fleas are an issue every pet owner has to face sooner or later and as anyone who has had to deal with them can attest they aren’t always easy to get rid of. To appreciate the complex issue of flea control, you must first understand something about the flea's life cycle.

Although you are only able to see the adult flea, there are actually 4 stages of the life cycle. The adult flea constitutes only about 5% of the entire flea population if you take into account all four stages of the life cycle. Flea eggs are pearly white and about 1/32" (1/2 mm) in length. They are too small to see without magnification. Fleas lay their eggs on the dog, but the eggs do not stick to the dog's hair. Instead, they fall off into the dog's environment. The eggs make up 50% of the flea population. They hatch into larvae in 1 to 10 days, depending on temperature and humidity. High humidity and temperature favor rapid hatching.

Flea larvae are slender and about 1/8-1/4" (2 to 5 mm) in length. They feed on organic debris found in their environment and on adult flea feces, which is essential for successful development. They avoid direct sunlight and actively move deep into carpet fibers or under organic debris (grass, branches, leaves, or soil.) They live for 5 to 11 days before becoming pupae.

Moisture is essential for their survival; flea larvae are killed by drying. Therefore, it is unlikely that they survive outdoors in shade-free areas. Outdoor larval development occurs only where the ground is shaded and moist and where flea-infested pets spend a significant amount of time. This allows flea feces to be deposited in the environment. In an indoor environment, larvae survive best in the protected environment of carpet or in cracks between hardwood floors. They also thrive in humid climates.

Following complete development, the mature larvae produce a silk-like cocoon in which the next step of development, the pupa, resides. The cocoon is sticky, so it quickly becomes coated with debris from the environment. This serves to camouflage it. In warm, humid conditions, pupae become adult fleas in 5-10 days. However, the adults do not emerge from the cocoon unless stimulated by physical pressure, carbon dioxide, or heat.

Pre-emerged adult fleas can survive up to 140 days within the cocoon. During this time, they are resistant to insecticides applied to their environment. Because of this, adult fleas may continue to emerge into the environment for up to 3 weeks following insecticide application.

When the adult flea emerges from its cocoon, it immediately seeks a host because it must have a blood meal within a few days to survive. It is attracted to people and pets by body heat, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide. It seeks light, which means that it migrates to the surface of the carpet so that it can encounter a passing host. Following the first blood meal, female fleas begin egg production within 36 to 48 hours. Egg production can continue for as long as 100 days, which means that a single flea can produce thousands of eggs.

This entire life cycle (adult flea >>> egg >>> larvae >>> pupa >>> adult) can be completed in 14-21 days with the proper temperature and humidity conditions. This adds to the problem of flea control.

If untreated, the female flea will continue to take blood for several weeks. During that time, she will consume about 15 times her body weight in blood. Although the male fleas do not take as much blood, they, too, contribute to significant blood loss. This can lead to the dog having an insufficient number of red blood cells, which is known as anemia. In young or debilitated dogs, the anemia may be severe enough to cause death.

Contrary to popular belief, most dogs have rather limited itching due to fleabites. However, many dogs become allergic to the saliva in the flea's mouth. When these dogs are bitten, intense itching occurs, causing the dog to scratch and chew on its skin.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Dog Is HOW OLD?!?!

Sophie is a typical four-year old Boston Terrier. She’s playful, constantly full of energy, and always the center of attention. It’s hard to think of her being anything else than your typical four year old but just how old is she really? We often take our pet’s age for granted and don’t realize that they age much faster than we do. In truth our pets are more mature mentally and physically than we ever give them credit.

For years the general rule has been to take your dog’s age and multiply it by seven. While this may do in a pinch it’s not the most accurate or scientific way to calculate your dog’s “true” age. For starters there is no one variable that can be used to determine your pet’s true age. Weight, breed, and life stage all affect how our pets age and must be taken into consideration. A Chihuahua won’t age as fast as a Great Dane. It’s a simple fact that a 5lb dog just won’t put nearly as much stress on their body as a 150lb dog will. Also some breeds such as Bulldogs or Sharpeis have more health issues than others and these considerations need to be addressed. Lastly, a puppy grows and develops at a much faster rate than an adult or senior dog will. Within the first 1-2 years of dog life a puppy will age 20-24 human years, an adult dog (2-9 years old) ages about 4 years for every human year and senior pets (9+ years old) age around 2 years for every human year. As you can see things are a little more complicated than they might first appear.

So just how old is our example pooch, Sophie? She is four so she would fall into the adult category. Let’s assume 24 human years for the first 2 years of life and 4 human years for each year thereafter. That brings us to a grand total of…. 32. Sophie would be approximately 32 years old if she were human. This is not quite equal to the gold standard of seven dog years for every human year but it is close enough. That’s a lot of growing up to do in only four short years.

After getting over the initial shock of just how old your dog really is you may be wondering well so what, why does this information matter? It matters because since dogs age so much faster than we do they are also affected by age related illnesses that much sooner. This is why it is so important to bring your pet in for their yearly physical and vaccinations. One year for us constitutes a much longer time for them in terms of growth and development. Not only are these routine checkups important in keeping our pets in overall good health but they also provide a way to detect age related problems while they are still treatable and before they become life threatening.

So I will leave you with one final question. Just how old IS your dog?

Pet Age Calculator

Dog Age Graph


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Household Hazards: The Bedroom and Living Room

When we want to sit down and relax we normally end up in one of two rooms, either the bedroom or living room. Normally we would not consider these places to be very dangerous but did you know that they could contain just as many hazards for your pets as any other room in your home? Below is a list of some commonly found items that should be kept out of your pet’s reach.

-Liquid potpourri
-Tobacco products
-Pennies (those minted after 1982 contain zinc which is toxic)
-Alkaline batteries (like those in your remote controls and children’s toys)
-Small children’s toys and loose pieces of jewelry (potential choking hazards)
-Exposed electrical cords (can provide a nasty shock if your pet decides to chew on them)

If your pet does accidentally ingest any of these products illness and possibly injury may occur so it is important to keeps these items out of your pet’s reach at all times. As always contact your local veterinarian for further instructions if your pet does ingest anything they shouldn’t have.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Canine Influenza

In the recent weeks many of our clients have contacted us with questions regarding the canine influenza virus. We have all heard the commercials on the radio and with the recent outbreaks of swine flu this year still fresh in many people’s minds it is understandable that people would be concerned about how this disease may potentially affect their pet. We at the Animal Clinic at Thorndale feel that in order to best care for our patients we must also educate our clients. To that end here are a few facts about the canine influenza to keep you better informed about what canine influenza is and what to do if you think your pet has it.
The facts:
• Canine influenza is nothing new. In fact it has been around since 2004.
• The most common sites of exposure are shelters, pet stores, kennels and day care.
• Canine influenza is relatively uncommon in most areas and is not cause for alarm in most cases.
• You do not need to avoid dog parks and other areas frequented by dogs as long as your pets are up to date on their rabies, distemper, and bordetella vaccines.
• In most instances dogs develop mild symptoms and recover quite well.
• Symptoms can include a mild fever, a soft moist cough, and nasal discharge. But please be aware that these symptoms are not unique to the canine influenza virus and can be caused by any number of respiratory illnesses. If these symptoms do occur the best course of action is to have your regular veterinarian give your dog a full exam and place him on medication if necessary.
• Occasionally these symptoms can progress to a high fever and pneumonia if left unchecked.
• Greyhounds are the only breed that has developed hemorrhagic pneumonia and died.
• A new vaccine for canine influenza is now available. However, due to the relatively short period the vaccine has been available we currently do not stock the vaccine or recommend it.

If you have any further questions regarding canine influenza feel free to send us an email at and we will gladly answer them.