My Dog Bit Someone, What Should I Do?

May 20, 2015

dog biteMay 17 -23, 2015 is National Bite Prevention Week. The United States has 70 million dogs, all of them wonderful companions, but any dog can bite. Animal bites are a serious problem, affecting 4.7 million people per year, most of them children. Senior citizens are the second most common age group affected by bite injuries.

Preventing Bite Injuries
The best defense against dog bite injuries is prevention. Responsible dog owners follow these general guidelines to prevent their dog from becoming a biter:

  • Train your dog. Obedience trained dogs are less likely to bite.
  • Keep your dog in control and on a leash when walking on the street or in the park.
  • Leave your sick dog home. Sick dogs a prone to biting because, just like you, they are cranky when they are sick.
  • Neuter your male dog. Unneutered male dogs are more often involved in bite incidents than neutered ones.
  • Supervise all children-dog interactions.
  • Teach your children how to safely interact with dogs.

Invest in Insurance
If, despite your best efforts, your dog bites a person, you may be fined for having a dangerous dog, in violation of a local ordinance for having a dog off leash or other violations. There is also the potential for the person bitten to bring a lawsuit against you. Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to make sure it includes coverage for the family dog. According to the Insurance Information Institute, one third of all homeowner insurance claims paid in 2013 were for dog bite injuries. New York State had the highest average cost per claim, at $43,122.

Keep Rabies Vaccination Up to Date
Should your dog become involved in a bite incident, provide the injured party with a copy of your dog’s rabies vaccination certificate as soon as possible. Their physician will need to know this information when determining what treatments are necessary for the bite injury. If the injured party needs emergency medical care, the ER may be required to report the bite to the local health department. Officials from the health department will monitor your dog’s health and as long as the rabies vaccination is up to date, may put your dog under home quarantine for a specified period of time.

Teaching Children Safe Dog Interaction
Join us on May 30, 2015 from 10am-1pm for AMC’s annual PAW Day: Pet And Wellness fun at Carl Schurz Park on E. 84th Street and East End Avenue in Manhattan. This event is family friendly, including your furry friends! At PAW Day, specially trained dogs will be available for children to practice safe dog interactions. The event features a stuffed animal veterinary clinic, Clifford the Big Red Dog, face painting and a whole lot more.


Neutering: Not Just Doggie Birth Control

December 4, 2013

dog at vetDexter, a new dachshund patient of mine, was in last week for another round of puppy shots. He will soon be six months old and it was time for me to discuss the next step in his preventive health care plan: neutering.

Neutering meets the guidelines
The American Veterinary Medical Association has developed guidelines for responsible pet ownership. One of the guidelines obligates pet owners to control their pet’s reproduction through spaying and neutering; subsequently helping to control pet overpopulation in their community. Neutering is the common term for castration of a male dog or cat and spaying refers to removal of the ovaries and uterus, or in some cases just the uterus or ovaries, of a female pet.

Lifesaving responsibility
Pet overpopulation is a serious issue in the United States today. According to the Humane Society of the United States, over four million unwanted pets are destroyed annually. For every puppy or kitten prevented by neutering an adult pet, there is one less homeless and unwanted puppy or kitten euthanized in an animal shelter.

The traditional surgery
Surgical removal of the testicles is the current standard of care for neutering in both dogs and cats. This surgery renders a male dog or cat unable to reproduce and also removes the major source of the male hormone, testosterone. Removing the source of testosterone eliminates mating behavior in males and also plays a role in eliminating other unwanted behaviors. In both the dog and cat, neutering involves a small skin incision through which the testicles are removed. Cats typically go home the same day, but dogs may stay overnight to recover from anesthesia and for incisional monitoring.

A new method
The New York Times Well Blog recently reported on a new method of non-surgical, chemical castration, called Zeuterin. Zeuterin neutering uses zinc gluconate and arginine injected into a dog’s testicles as a less invasive method of castration. Dogs still produce a small amount of testosterone, but are unable to sire a litter of puppies. Veterinarians must be trained to use the Zeuterin method of neutering, but especially for shelters and rescue groups, the method has great appeal.

My recommendation
Dexter’s owners were concerned about the surgery. They asked if he could just have a vasectomy instead of the traditional neutering surgery. Because my job is to make the best medical recommendations for the specific health concerns of each of one my patients, I recommended the traditional surgery for Dexter. It provides him with the greatest number of health benefits. The surgery prevents unwanted litters of puppies and also prevents prostatic disease, testosterone-induced tumors and behaviors linked to testosterone production. Because a vasectomy or Zeuterin neutering are methods of birth control only, they do not offer the added advantage of decreased levels of testosterone on behavior and disease.


Neutering: Not Just Doggie Birth Control

January 23, 2013

200487404-001Dexter, a new dachshund patient of mine, was in last week for another round of puppy shots. He will soon be six months old and it was time for me to discuss the next step in his preventive health care plan: neutering.

Neutering meets the guidelines

The American Veterinary Medical Association has developed guidelines for responsible pet ownership. One of the guidelines obligates pet owners to control their pet’s reproduction through spaying and neutering; subsequently helping to control pet overpopulation in their community. Neutering is the common term for castration of a male dog or cat and spaying refers to removal of the ovaries and uterus, or in some cases just the uterus, of a female pet.

Lifesaving responsibility

Pet overpopulation is a serious issue in the United States today. According to the Humane Society of the United States, over 4 million unwanted pets are destroyed annually. For every puppy or kitten prevented by neutering an adult pet, there is one less homeless and unwanted puppy or kitten euthanized in an animal shelter.

The traditional surgery

Surgical removal of the testicles is the current standard of care in both dogs and cats. This surgery renders a male dog or cat unable to reproduce and also removes the major source of the male hormone, testosterone. Removing the source of testosterone eliminates mating behavior in males and also plays a role in eliminating other unwanted dog behaviors. In both the dog and cat, neutering involves a small skin incision through which the testicles are removed. Cats typically go home the same day, but dogs may stay overnight to recover from anesthesia and for incisional monitoring.

My recommendation

Dexter’s owners were concerned about the surgery. They asked if he could just have a vasectomy instead of the traditional neutering surgery. Because my job is to make the best medical recommendations for the specific health concerns of each of my patients, I recommended the traditional surgery for Dexter. It provides him with the greatest number of health benefits. The surgery prevents unwanted litters of puppies and also prevents prostatic disease, testosterone-induced tumors and behaviors linked to testosterone production.


Demystifying General Anesthesia, Part I: Preanesthesia Protocols

September 6, 2012

Except for the dreaded cone, there is no medical procedure more feared by the families of my patients than general anesthesia. Their concern is well founded since there is always a risk of death, but the risk is very small – about 0.1%, meaning 1 in every 1000 procedures, result in an anesthetic death. This data comes from a large study of private clinics in England where routine procedures, such as neutering, were most commonly performed. The risk of death during general anesthesia rises with illness, advanced age and surprisingly, in the British study, mid-sized dogs.

While risk-free anesthesia does not exist, veterinary teams work hard to minimize the risk for every patient undergoing an anesthetic procedure. In November 2011, the American Animal Hospital Association published guidelines for small animal anesthetic procedures. In this blog, I will highlight how the guidelines help to minimize this risk in your pet.

Anesthesia is more than choosing the anesthetic agent; it is a team effort by a highly trained and skilled veterinary medical team. Anesthetic planning, induction, and recovery require multiple steps and multiple team members, beginning with an examination and testing.

Pre-anesthetic evaluation and examination

During this phase, your veterinarian is looking for risk factors – underlying disease or physical abnormalities which will impact the anesthetic procedure. Blood tests are used to identify problems which make anesthesia trickier, such as diabetes or liver disease. An echocardiogram may be recommended if your pet has a heart murmur. Brachycephalic (short nosed) dogs are prone to upper airway problems and are at greater anesthetic risk. The team will need to plan additional monitoring for your flat-faced friend. If the planned procedure carries a high risk of bleeding, a blood type or crossmatch will be ordered to facilitate a blood transfusion. The anesthesia team will also determine if the planned procedure requires only heavy sedation or, because the procedure is a major one, general anesthesia. Whatever your veterinarian’s recommendation, monitoring will be a part of the procedure.

Monitoring protocols and equipment

Immediately prior to the induction of anesthesia, an intravenous catheter is placed in your pet. The intravenous line provides a conduit for administration of fluids and other medications the pet will require. Multiple wires attached to beeping, tweeting boxes will be connected to your pet. These boxes measure blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and an electrocardiogram before, during, and after anesthesia. An esophageal stethoscope can be inserted into the throat to facilitate constant monitoring of the heart instead of requiring the operating room staff to periodically place a stethoscope on the chest wall. Body temperature, measurement of blood sugar, and other blood parameters help the anesthesia team to determine if respirations are adequate and your pet remains stable.

My next blog will continue discussing anesthetic procedures, starting with premedication, anesthetic agents, and finally the role pet owners play in anesthetic procedures.


World Spay Day 2012

March 1, 2012

February 28th was World Spay Day, the grand finale of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month.

Spay Day USA, started in 1995, originally focused on the need to spay and neuter feral cats. It now is a worldwide event focusing on eliminating pet overpopulation everywhere.

Why is Spay Day such a big deal? My pet is spayed.

Spaying females and neutering males is a 100% effective method of contraception in dogs and cats. By preventing unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, we decrease the number of animals ending up in shelters. Despite the effectiveness of this surgery, six to eight million dogs and cats enter animal shelters every year and sadly only about half find a forever home. Cats in shelters fare worse than dogs; only about 30% of cats from shelters find a forever home. This grim statistic is why the TNR, or trap, neuter, release programs are so important. Approximately 80% of pet cats are neutered, but only about 3% of feral cats are. Every spring, feral cats produce large numbers of kittens which frequently end up in shelters, but are too wild for adoption to a family.

Cats can’t add, but they can multiply!

This is a great one liner from an ASPCA t-shirt and it explains exactly why TNR programs are important. In a TNR program, feral cats are humanely trapped and then neutered by licensed veterinarians. Before they are released back into their colony, a ¼-inch of the tip of the left ear is removed. This provides a visual marker of neutering and prevents a cat from being re-trapped and taken for neutering a second time. Cats receive a rabies vaccination at the time of neutering. Because TNR cats are vaccinated against rabies while they are trapped, these programs also help to protect the humans and pet animal against contracting rabies.

Back in their colonies, TNR cats can no longer reproduce and fewer kittens are born, reducing cat overpopulation.

You can help

The pet overpopulation problem is a community problem and requires the entire community, government officials, animal welfare/rescue organizations, wildlife agencies, and concerned individuals to work together to create a solution. A TNR program is only one component; others include raising community awareness about the problem, securing funding for programs, and putting in place legislation for the good of all.

Want to know more about spaying and neutering? Click here to view an excellent series of videos on spaying and neutering dogs and cats.

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This may also be found in the Tales from the Pet Clinic blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Big Dog or Little Dog: Whose Bite is Worse Than Their Bark?

February 25, 2011

Two news articles caught our attention at The Animal Medical Center last week regarding the type of dogs involved in bite injuries to humans. The articles seem to tell different stories, or do they?

Would you believe that “tiny” dogs were responsible for a record number of reported bites in New York City, according to a recent NY Post article? Surprisingly, the leader of the pack was the chihuahua.

The infamous pit bull came in second on reported bites in NYC, and are the vast majority of dogs in NYC shelters, according to MSNBC.com.

It’s important to remember that “any dog — any size — can bite.” Some dogs, unaware of their actual size, may bite out of instinct, fear or surprise.

Small dogs may not have developed the social skills required for interactions with strangers, perhaps because their owners may not realize all dogs — even small ones — require some form of obedience training. Living and working in New York City, I see small dogs tagging along with their owners — whether it’s shopping, running errands (eg: dry cleaners, bank) or even to lunch. Often these little creatures are poking their heads out of a tote bag or being carried in the owner’s arms. Consequently, it’s not unusual for passersby to reach out and want to pet these adorable dogs. Perhaps fearful of their touch or surprised by it, many of these small dogs resort to biting as a way to protect themselves.

Based on New York City data, pit bulls were ranked second with reported human bites. Moreover, many municipalities are becoming increasingly concerned about the risks associated with pit bulls.

Research has shown that dogs who have been neutered and had some form of obedience training are less likely to bite. Unfortunately, it is a widely recognized that pit bull owners may be less likely to neuter and obedience-train their dog.

While pit bulls are all too common in New York City shelters, San Francisco has been successful in reducing the number of pit bulls in their shelters.Thanks to a “sterilization law” passed in 2005, San Francisco has reported 26% fewer pit bulls have been impounded and 40% fewer have been euthanized. No doubt, the reported number of bite injuries related to the pit bull has dramatically been reduced, too.

I’m happy to report that the ASPCA in New York City is taking action to help reduce the pit bull population. The program, coined “Operation Pit,” offers free spays and neuter surgeries for pit bulls. These surgeries have both health and reproductive benefits in dogs.

The Animal Medical Center applauds The ASPCA on this effort and recognizes this as a call-to-action for pit bull owners. Please take advantage of Operation Pit, along with any obedience training opportunities you can find. Let’s work together to get the pit bulls out of the shelters, trained, neutered and into loving homes…and off the top of the New York City biter list.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Seven Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

February 23, 2011

Yesterday, February 22, was National Spay Day and some consider the entire month National Spay and Neuter month.

Spay is the colloquial term for ovariohysterectomy. Neuter, sometimes called altering, is the surgical removal of male reproductive organs or testicles. Both procedures have the same result: they prevent unwanted pregnancies.

But wait — these procedures have health benefits beyond preventing unexpected litters of puppies and kittens. The Animal Medical Center staff gives these seven reasons to “fix” your pet even if it isn’t broken!

1. Prevent pyometra a common, life-threatening uterus infection of unspayed dogs.

2. Eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and uterine and ovarian cancer.

3. Decrease the risk of prostatitis, a bacterial infection of the prostate.

4. Decrease aggressive behavior, especially in male dogs, helping to prevent dog bite injuries in humans.

5. Decrease the risk of breast cancer in both dogs and cats, especially if she is spayed before 6 months of age.

6. Avoid stinky male cat urine on your walls, drapes or bed.

7. Save approximately 4 million lives annually. These lives belong to unwanted dogs and cats euthanized in America’s animal shelters.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


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