Dogs and Cats as Diana and Orion, the Hunters

July 13, 2011

Photo: Hemera

Pet owners believe their well-fed, or more likely overfed, dog or cat should have no reason to hunt, but lately it seems my patients are on a hunting spree.

Most cat owners who allow their cats outside, become accustomed to freshly killed gifts of mice and other small rodents carefully placed as an offering on the back stoop. But this week the take has been much more substantial.

Take Francie, for example, a special needs Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on anti-seizure medication. Twice last week she captured an unidentifiable furry creature and dragged it in through the doggie door. One unfortunate victim was hauled into Francie’s crate and the other left with pride in the middle of the kitchen floor. Franice’s family was outwardly distressed over her behavior, but the diminutive “Diana” seemed pleased with her hunting success.

Dixie and Mabel, a pair of Labradors, have not been hunting because they are, of course retrievers! To their owners’ initial horror, they were about to retrieve what appeared to be a dead possum, when the possum stopped “playing possum” and safely scampered back into the woods.

The Orion of the group is Willie, a handsome black Standard Poodle. He was out romping in his yard when a fawn strolled by. He tackled the fawn and was immediately tackled by his owners, who saved the fawn and had it safely transferred to the care of a wildlife rehabilitator.

I can share all these stories with you because the pet owners called me; not to brag, but out of concern for their pet’s health. Most were concerned about the potential for rabies transmission from wildlife. This is a real concern for pet owners and just one very good reason for having your pet vaccinated for rabies. Rabies vaccines are very effective and rabies is very uncommon in vaccinated dogs and cats.

Another concern is for parasite which can be carried by wildlife and transmitted to your dog or cat. The Dianas and Orions need annual fecal examinations and routine year round parasite prevention as recommended by the Companion Animal Parasite Council.

These pet owners also called wondering how to handle injured wildlife. First, you should not attempt to touch or move injured wildlife as you may be bitten. In New York State, the Department of Environmental Conservation licenses wildlife rehabilitators who can provide assistance and care for injured wildlife. There is also a FAQ page with great information about wildlife in your yard.

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Everything Old is New Again: Plague and Leprosy

July 7, 2011

Nine banded armadillo, which can carry leprosy, seen in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood at modern:ANTHOLOGY.

Last week there were two very interesting stories in the news about the intersection between people and animals. Both reported on diseases we rarely hear about anymore: plague and leprosy.

Leprosy is the older disease and has been reported since Biblical times. The first reported epidemic of plague occurred somewhat later, in the 6th or 7th century. Bubonic plague, or the Black Death, was the scourge of the Middle Ages.

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yesinia pestis. The usual source of Y. pestis is the rat flea, but hunting pets can contract the plague from eating infected rodents or rabbits. Even though Y. pestis is predominantly found in California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, cases can be seen throughout the country if a human or pet travels to one of these areas and contracts the disease before they return home. An infected pet can, in turn, infect humans. The possibility of plague transmission is one reason prairie dogs may not make the best pets.

The name bubonic comes from the word bubo, which is a fancy word for enlarged lymph node. Wikipedia shows an illumination from a medieval Bible of sinners afflicted with buboes.

Both humans and pets with bubonic plague have enlarged lymph nodes, which are painful. Fever, malaise and non–specific flu-like symptoms are typical for plague in both humans and pets. Although last week’s plague case occurred in a dog, in general, cats are more susceptible to plague than dogs.

Leprosy was in the news too; not because of a sick dog or cat, but because of armadillos. Those prehistoric-looking armored mammals carry the leprosy bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae. Most leprosy cases occur outside the United States, but cases occur in people who have not traveled outside the USA. This finding puzzled researchers until the DNA of the M. leprae was studied. Both armadillos and humans infected with M. leprae in the USA share the same unique strain of the bacteria. This bacterium is different from the strain of M. leprae found outside the USA. The New England Journal of Medicine article concluded humans can contract leprosy from infected armadillos.

To help protect yourself and your pet from contracting diseases of wildlife:

  • Keep your pet leashed or indoors to prevent contact with wild animals which can cause serious diseases.
  • Never approach, pet or handle wildlife even if they are acting friendly.
  • If your pet is sick, always tell your veterinarian where your pet has traveled and do the same when you visit your physician. It may be just the perfect clue to the diagnosis.

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Take Your Dog to Work Day

June 20, 2011

Becky (L) & Percy (R) hardly working at The AMC

Friday, June 24th, is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Employees of The Animal Medical Center (AMC) are lucky since every day here is Take Your Pet to Work Day. Not surprisingly, The AMC is a pet-friendly employer.

Although most pets that come to work are dogs, we do have the occasional infant kitten or ancient cat who come to work because of special feeding and medication requirements during the day. The photo below shows Pepe avoiding work by hiding under a chair.

First celebrated in 1999, Take Your Dog to Work Day was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs.

Pepe (available for adoption)

Companies, large and small, are recognizing the importance of pets in our social fabric. Some offer their employees pet insurance as one option in their benefits package. Inc.’s series, “Winning Workplaces,” highlights the increased worker productivity and camaraderie of workplaces where dogs are allowed.

Taryl Fultz, copywriter for Trone, Inc., a 70 person marketing firm in High Point, NC, with many pet care clients, including GREENIES® and NUTRO® says, “I absolutely [get more work done] when my sheltie is at work. He is very well behaved, but I feel better when I have him with me. I often stay later, bring my lunch those days and work through at my desk. When people/clients get tours of the office, he is always a featured stop along the way. Pets make most people smile. And can often turn a tense meeting/moment into a better one.”

I emailed with one employee of the marketing firm Moxie. Dogs are welcome at this 300+ person company, but visits must be scheduled in advance and misbehaving dogs are put on restriction. Visiting the office is not all fun and games. One Chihuahua was even pressed into service, when he was photographed wearing a wig and playing the piano for an ad campaign.

Trone, Inc. employees, from the VP for human resources to copywriters, have wonderful work stories about their pets. One 65 pound mutt works on stealing stuffed toys from other dogs, small children or co-workers’ offices. Another dog likes to work in a private space – behind the credenza — only she doesn’t quite fit and all her owner can see is the back half of a dog sticking out. Owen, a Plott hound, likes work because of the availability of GREENIES. One weekend Owen didn’t come when he was called. Finally he came running with a large mailing box where his head should have been. Owen had grabbed one of the mailing samples, which had a Greenie affixed to it. He was so excited to bring to his owner and then rip it off of the package.

If your office is going to be dog-friendly, you might want to consider establishing office etiquette guidelines. Our friends at the ASPCA have some useful suggestions.

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Keeping Your Cat Young

June 9, 2011

For those families adding a feline member during Adopt-a-Cat Month this June, keeping your cat young and in good health is a priority. Here are The Animal Medical Center’s top six tips to achieving purrfect health and maintaining a long life for your feline family member.

1. Give your cat a routine. Research has shown changes in feeding schedule or in caretaker can result in “illness behaviors” such as having a poor appetite, vomiting and not using the litter box. Basically, cats don’t like surprises.

2. Provide your cat with an interesting environment. Cats need climbing structures where they have a good view of the room and a window with an outdoor view. The perch should be comfortable for resting. Leave a radio on tuned to quiet music when you are away.

3. Encourage your cat to hunt. Not outdoors, but indoor hunting. Use food dispensing toys such as the FunKitty line. Keeping your cat’s brain active by having her “hunt” for her food will keep her engaged and active longer.

4. Cats may have a “hands off” personality, but when it comes to healthcare you need to be hands on, and the hands should be those of your cat’s veterinarian. Visit your cat’s veterinarian for routine health checks at least once a year and twice a year if your cat is 10 years of age or older.

5. Clean your cat’s teeth regularly. The American Veterinary Dental College and the AMC Dental Service recommend daily tooth brushing and annual cleanings under general anesthesia.

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Careers in Veterinary Medicine

May 31, 2011

On May 26th I participated in a career fair at IS 204 in Long Island City, Queens. In case there are any aspiring veterinarians reading this, I thought I would give a review of what I talked about at the career fair with these middle school students.

Most middle school students in New York City are exposed to veterinary medicine through the care a neighborhood veterinarian provides to a family pet such as a cat, dog or other companion animal, but the opportunities the profession offers are much wider.

Nearly 100,000 veterinarians in the United States provide healthcare to animals who supply us with food, such as cattle and fish, produce fiber for clothing, such as sheep and alpacas, and protect the public health though their efforts on behalf of local, state and federal agencies. Veterinarians care for animals in research laboratories, wildlife parks, zoos and classrooms. Other veterinarians become professors, training the next generation of animal caregivers.

Neighborhood veterinarians are typically generalists, providing preventive and general healthcare to their patients. Some veterinarians, like me, are specialists, with additional training. My training is in treating pets with cancer.

For middle school students interested in a career in veterinary medicine, choose a high school with a strong college preparatory program, especially in science and mathematics.  Use your summers to explore veterinary medicine by volunteering at an animal shelter or veterinarian’s office. Participate in an animal related summer program. One such program is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

Colleges of veterinary medicine offer summer programs for high school juniors and seniors. My alma mater, Cornell University, offers four programs for high school students. Michigan State University, Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, host similar programs.

When choosing a college major, it is not essential to choose biology or animal science. I went to veterinary school with someone who had majored in Russian literature, but she completed all the science and math prerequisites required to apply to veterinary school. Keep in mind, grades matter. The University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine offers a college level summer “camp” for preveterinary students.

If the four years of college and four years of veterinary school are not for you, but you are interested in being part of an animal healthcare team, you might want to consider becoming a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). Multiple programs throughout the country offer associate degrees in veterinary technology. The closest program to both The AMC and IS204 is at LaGuardia Community College, also in Long Island City, Queens.

Veterinary medicine offers great diversity in career options for the student interested in biology, zoology and mathematics. Additional information on pursing a career in veterinary medicine and veterinary technology can be found at the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


The Second Annual NYC Pet Show

May 19, 2011

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus with Meteorologist Ron Trotta & Scmitty the Weather Dog

If you are in the New York metropolitan area, I have a great weekend activity tip for you: check out the NYC Pet Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, from 12 noon-5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

This event is fun for the whole family, including the furry members of the family. Leashed pets are welcome and will have a great time testing all the latest pet products. The humans attending will love listening to the expert speakers in addition to having a great opportunity to network with other dog and cat lovers. Schmitty, the weather dog, who was at The Animal Medical Center to broadcast with me on Monday will have her own booth.

During the course of the show there will be expert presentations throughout the course of the afternoon. On Saturday, my friend Charlotte Reed will give her view on “What You Need to Know to Have a Pet in NYC” and Bill Berloni, of Theatrical Animals, will let you in on his secrets training animals for Broadway shows.

Sunday yours truly will present “Why is the vet pushing on my pet: Demystifying the Wellness Exam” at 12:15. My presentation will be followed by members of Rescue Ink who will talk about the animals they have rescued. Rescue Ink’s members are tough talking tattooed bikers with a big soft spot for animals. While I like their mission, I am partial to the temporary tattoos offered by my friends at Angels on a Leash — a cute little purple dog with a heart of gold. One of my dog patients is a volunteer with this great organization.

In addition to seeing new products, attendees will be able to see some pet products I have highlighted in previous blogs. Both Pioneer Pet Products and GoPet will be at the NYC Pet Show. I highlighted the Feng Shui water fountain and the self powered exercise wheel in my holiday gift blog. CityKitty, who makes tasty low calorie bonito tuna flake treats will also be there for those pets watching their weight.

If I have convinced you to go attend the NYC Pet Show, “Tales from the Pet Clinic” and AMC blog readers will receive a $5 discount on their tickets by using the special promotional code AMC, when buying their tickets online. See you at the show!

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


10 Reasons to Go to the Pet ER Now!

May 16, 2011

Although I regularly share pet healthcare information on the AMC blog, I also like to remind readers that this information is not a substitute for a vet visit. You should always contact your veterinarian in an emergency. In case you are unsure as to what constitutes a pet emergency, here are my top ten reasons to take your pet to the ER (in no particular order):

1. Vomiting or diarrhea — not the run of the mill variety, but more than 2 or 3 times in an hour or if it is bloody. If the retching is unproductive in a dog with a distended abdomen, worry about bloat.

2. Red eye, runny eye or an eye injury. The littlest eye injury can quickly turn into a big problem.

3. Ingestion of a possible toxin, such as antifreeze (ethelene glycol), rat poison, human medications or a toxic plant.

4. Difficulty breathing or excessive coughing. Your dog might hold her head and neck extended to get more air or your cat might start breathing through his mouth.

5. Traumatic event such as being hit by a car or falling from a window. On the outside your pet might look fine, but internally may have suffered a serious injury.

6. Straining to urinate, especially if no urine is being produced.

7. Collapse, loss of consciousness or a possible seizure. Early intervention could prevent another one of these frightening episodes.

8. Bleeding from anywhere: a cut, a torn toenail or serious bruising under the skin.

9. An acute allergic reaction, especially if it involves swelling of the face and could compromise breathing.

10. Just to show the ER doctors how much better your pet is feeling and to thank them!

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Helping Pets in Japan

April 7, 2011

In the wake of the tragic news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it is not surprising that reporters are also writing about the terrible effects these disasters have had on pets. I have noted some internet news specifically regarding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I checked books on animal behavior and found virtually no information on the topic in standard veterinary behavior books. The lack of information made me wonder if the diagnosis of PTSD was a human psychiatric disorder incorrectly attributed to pets. So I contacted a fellow dog lover and a professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, just up the street from The Animal Medical Center.

Dr. Richard A. Friedman explained to me how PTSD develops and how researchers study the disease. A benign occurrence such as the sound of a bell precedes a noxious stimulus such as a small, safe electric shock. Pairing the harmless sound with the noxious stimulus now makes the animal associate the sound with the painful shock and it has a fear response to the sound. This form of classical Pavlovian conditioning links a previously harmful stimulus (sound) to the hard-wired fear response and involves the formation of new neural connections in the brain, particularly in the amygdale — a region critical to fear response.

Once PTSD has developed, presenting the sound repeatedly to the animal, without a shock, the sound will ultimately cease to elicit a fear response, a phenomenon called extinction, which is essentially how psychiatrists like Dr. Friedman treat PTSD in humans.

This explanation of PTSD does not fit the one time earthquake/tsunami experienced by the Japanese pets now displaced from their homes and living in shelters. That is not to say these animals are not experiencing both mental and physical stress. Anxiety can result from the inability to escape or control situations that elicit an initial fear response. This definition makes it easy to imagine how displaced pets in post-earthquake Japan might be suffering from anxiety due to the loss of their home, their family and their normal routines. The physical manifestations of anxiety may be inappropriate eliminations, noise phobias and destructive behavior.

Many organizations aimed at helping animals are working together in Japan. The Japanese Animal Hospital Association (JAHA) has 45 member hospitals in the disaster area. JAHA President Takuo Ishida reports they are supporting relief efforts through two funds.

According to President Ishida, “One is for animals and their families, and the other is for veterinary hospitals. JAHA is now asking for relief donations via web site and letters to the member hospitals. The donations for the former purpose will be sent to Japanese SPCA and those for the latter will be sent to Japanese Veterinary Medical Association.”

World Vets, based in Fargo, North Dakota has some teams on the ground in Japan, but a full scale effort is hampered by the current radiation concerns due to damage of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) anticipates the animal relief efforts will ramp up shortly and be in operation for many months to come. The AVMF’s Animal Disaster Relief and Reimbursement Fund will be supporting animal disaster relief in Japan.

All the organizations included in the links above, as well as many others are accepting donations towards Japanese animal relief efforts.

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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 www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Heartworm Prevention

March 24, 2011

Are heartworms becoming resistant to preventive medications?

This week marks the first day of spring and for many dogs and cats, spring means a trip to the veterinarian’s office for a heartworm test and renewal of a prescription for heartworm prevention.

To help me address the timely topic of “heartworm disease,” I invited a recognized expert, Dr. Clarke Atkins, to provide some insight.

Q: Do dogs really need an annual test — and should dog owners stop giving the preventative medication when winter comes?

A: Year-around preventive and yearly testing are solidly recommended by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) and the American Heartworm Society for these important reasons:

  1. Heartworm infections are actually greater than 10 years ago, making annual testing critical for your dog.
  2. Year-around preventive provides a safety net of prevention for your dog.
  3. Current heartworm preventives provide protection against other year round pests.
  4. Starting and stopping preventive administration has the potential to lead to lapses in preventive therapy.
  5. People in the metro New York area — those who either vacation at or have homes in “heartworm-endemic areas” — may be at risk year round.
  6. Financial savings are modest and very small compared to the cost of treating a heartworm infection.

Q: Some dog owners are worried about overmedicating their dogs and give the heartworm medication every other month. Do you advise this protocol?

A: The practice of every other month administration of preventive is frankly a terrible idea. Lapses of greater than 45 days between treatments can result in heartworm infection.

Q: Are cats susceptible to heartworms and should they be on preventative medications like dogs?

A: Cats are susceptible to heartworm infection, although less so than dogs, and there is no practical and safe treatment for this life-threatening disease in cats. In any region in which heartworm preventive is used in dogs, cats absolutely should be on heartworm preventive, even if they are housed indoors. Interestingly, in a study we carried out several years ago, the exposure rate to heartworms in cats in NYC was 5% and on Long Island was 9%.

Q: I’ve heard heartworms are becoming resistant to medication. What should a dog owner do?

A: In certain areas of the southern U.S. — specifically Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi — there are concerns with increasing reports of “lack of effectiveness” from medications, and there is some evidence to suggest that some heartworm preventives are not perfect against all strains of heartworm.

Pet owners should talk with their veterinarian if they have any concerns in this regard. However, the most important thing is that all pets receive heartworm preventive medications.

My thanks to Dr. Clarke Atkins, Diplomate, ACVIM (Internal Medicine and Cardiology) and the Jane Lewis Seaks Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University, for his time and response to important questions about heartworm disease.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council tracks parasitic diseases in dogs and cats–including heartworms. The map below is courtesy of CAPC:

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

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.


Pet Sitting

January 31, 2011

Now that the holiday season is over and we are into the doldrums of winter, many people are looking for a quick getaway to somewhere warm and sunny. That getaway may not include your pet since some pets are not good travelers, like fish or your family cat. Dogs can be good travelers, but are not always welcome in hotels and timeshares. Leaving the family pet behind is a tough decision, but advance planning will give you peace of mind and your pet a comfortable vacation too.

The most convenient option for many families is a boarding kennel. Check around before choosing a boarding kennel. Ask other pet owners and call your veterinarian’s office. The veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center have their favorite home care specialists and your veterinarian will too.

Consider contacting the Better Business Bureau for information on prospective kennels. Kennels provide an important service, but not all pets enjoy staying in kennels. The typical family pet is used to more space, better furniture and solitude.

Before you chose a kennel for your pet, visit the kennel. Is it clean or is there a bad odor? Will the kennel give medications and feed the food your pet is accustomed to eating? Kenneled pets are prone to hunger strikes and intestinal upset and feeding their regular food is one way to help prevent this. In case your pet gets sick while boarding, ask how the kennel handles medical problems. If the kennel is associated with your pet’s regular veterinarian, the answer is easy, but if the kennel is not, be sure they know who your pet’s veterinarian is and how to contact the office in an emergency. Good idea to let your veterinarian know where and when your pet will be boarded. Finally, read the boarding agreement carefully, especially dropoff and pickup rules or you might find your bill higher than you expected.

Home care is also an option for some pets, especially cats, birds, fish or reptiles. My clients have arranged home care for their pets from a variety of sources. They will often check with their AMC veterinarian or neighborhood veterinarian for a local pet sitter. A professional, such as a veterinary technician may be just what the doctor orders for pets with a medical problem like diabetes. A healthy hamster may do well with your neighbor teenager changing the water, bedding and food once a day. Some pets need a companion as well as a caretaker. If this describes your pet, you may look for a pet sitter who will move into your house while you are away. This setup works especially well for multiple pet households. For a short trip, a healthy cat can be left alone. One clever solution to the litter box problem if you leave your cat alone is an automatic toilet flusher for toilet trained cats.

Whenever you leave your pet with a friend, pet sitter or kennel, provide the substitute caretaker with:

  • Your travel schedule and contact information
  • The veterinarian’s name, number and location
  • A schedule of your pet’s daily routine
  • Enough of your pet’s regular food, medications and supplies (litter, pooper scooper, bags and chew toys) to last longer than your trip in case of a delayed return.

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.


Pet Resolutions for 2011

December 30, 2010

This time of year everyone is making New Year’s resolutions. Our pets are so much a part of our lives that when making resolutions for ourselves this year, why not consider a resolution or two that will help both you and your pet get a fresh start in the new year. Here are some possibilities to consider.

Choose healthy snacks in 2011.

Keep the amount of calories to 10% of your pet’s daily calorie requirement. Your veterinarian can help you assess how many calories this is. Choose healthy snacks like the 5 calorie baby carrot or the 50 calorie ½ apple. CittiKitty now markets Tuna Treats, premium bonito flakes for treating your cat, but a fish loving dog will find them tasty too. Because the tuna is dried and flaked paper thin, one cup has 35 calories. Using 10 flakes a day as a treat will contribute minimal calories and the taste will be a huge hit with your cat.

Get down to and maintain an ideal body condition.

Weight loss is on almost everyone’s New Year’s resolution list. Because pets come in so many sizes and shapes, it is hard to say your cat should weigh 5 or 10 or 15 pounds. What matters is maintaining an ideal body condition. Veterinarians commonly assess this during an annual examination. It is based on your pet having a waist and skeletal features you can feel with your hands. If your pet doesn’t have these, he/she is likely overweight. To see the dog and cat body condition scale, visit:

Take your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year.

Comparing 2001 and 2006, a decrease of 1 million veterinary visits was recorded and visits have fallen further due to the Great Recession beginning in 2007. This means pets are medically underserved and small problems can quickly become big ones. Preventive healthcare prevents potentially fatal infectious diseases and difficult to treat disorders such as heartworms. Senior pets may need twice yearly visits as a pet’s lifespan is compressed into fewer years than ours are.

Give to less fortunate dogs and cats.

Local animal shelters and rescue group are always in need. Cleaning out your old and shabby towels? Call your local shelter and see if they could use them to give a homeless pet a place to curl up. Check with your local rescue group or food pantry about pet food donations. People without enough to eat may also have pets in the same situation. Offer to walk dogs or brush cats at your local shelter. I am sure any help you offer will be more than appreciated.

Spend quality time with your pet.

We all lead busy lives. It is often very easy to overlook spending good quality time with that four-legged, furry member of your family. Instead of just walking your dog to the corner and back, vow to take him to the park, play fetch or check out the new dog run in the neighborhood. Change your cat’s toys frequently to prevent boredom. By giving your pet this quality time once a day or even once a week, your pet will return the favor with love and devotion. And, guaranteed it will improve your own quality of life!

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

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For nearly 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.


Magnets, Toys and Dangerous Objects

November 15, 2010

One characteristic of pets that makes them so entertaining is their unpredictable nature. Some of them will eat anything — and when they do, the veterinarian is presented with a diagnostic challenge.

The veterinarian surgeons here at AMC have exceptionally good stories about the objects they have found jammed up inside of pets. Around the time of the first Toy Story, they removed an entire set of fast food plastic Toy Story characters from the stomach and intestines of a dog from a family with several small children. I remember a particularly challenging case where a cassette tape bunched up the intestines of a dog requiring a major surgical intervention to remove yards of Billy Joel’s “The Stranger.” Then there was the dog who had an entire kitchen knife lodged in his esophagus and lived to bark about it on the Jay Leno show.

X-rays are usually how veterinarians determine if a foreign object has been consumed and has resulted in an intestinal obstruction. Metallic objects like coins and knives, are easily seen with X-rays. Plastic and glass are not visible on X-rays and this is why the cassette tape and the plastic toys were particularly tough to diagnose.

Now, a new foreign body hazard has been reported in the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association — magnets. Ingestion of a single magnet is not likely to cause a problem. But ingestion of more than one magnet, or a magnet and another metal object, can cause serious problems. If these foreign bodies stick to each other through the intestinal walls of different intestinal segments, an obstruction can result. Even more serious is the potential for perforation. The pressure caused by two magnets, or a magnet and another metal foreign body sticking together, cuts off the blood supply to the intestine and the results can be deadly.

So a word to the wise, if your family has a precocious pup or a curious cat, keep small objects off the floor and provide plenty of safe toys to help prevent the inadvertent ingestion of dangerous objects.

Has your pet consumed a magnet or small toy before? Any close calls? Post your comments below.

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


Give a Dog a Bone…Maybe Not!

August 24, 2010

Because of the recent pet food recalls, I’ve been talking to pet owners more than usual about what they are feeding their pets. Some are nervous, worried their pet’s food will be the next one recalled. Some are angry, feeling their pet’s health may have been jeopardized by a carefully chosen food, and others want to feed their pets anything and everything the pet fancies.

An email from a dog owner yesterday asked for advice on feeding bones to dogs. I am sure my response was not what the owner was hoping to receive. I said no.

I know, I know — dogs love bones. My mother cautiously rationed the T-bones from our Sunday barbeque to our pack of beagles. Ok, there were only 2, but they made enough noise to be a pack. These dogs gnawed happily for hours on the bones. Fortunately, nothing bad ever happened to the dogs because of bones, but bones are dangerous.

Sharp pointy bones, like my mother’s T-bones or pork chop bones can be chewed small enough to be swallowed. Once these pointy bones get into the esophagus, they can get stuck in the soft esophageal lining and permanently damage the esophagus. They are also a diagnostic challenge. When a bone is stuck in the esophagus, your dog acts like they want to vomit. In response, veterinarians x-ray the stomach and find nothing, because a bone is stuck in the esophagus. This can lead to a delay in bone removal because your dog can’t say “I got Sunday’s T-bone stuck in my throat.”

Pork and ham bones are especially dangerous. A couple of chomps and the bone is reduced to splinters as sharp as needles. The splintered bone pieces get swallowed and can pass through the stomach and intestine unencumbered, but when it is time for those splinters to pass out the other end, your dog will scream.

Rib bones are another hazard. You put a pile of them in the trash, and your dog thinks it is a buffet and helps himself. The rib bones can lodge themselves between the left and right sides of the top teeth. When a bone is lodged in the dental arcade, your dog might not be able to close its mouth, or he might drool profusely or he might paw at his face trying to dislodge the bone. If you see a bone in there, head straight to your local veterinary ER. Sedation will probably be required before the bone can be dislodged. This is not a do-it-yourself project as you could end up in ER yourself from an accidental dog bite.

The final bone hazard is microbes. The email that started this discussion contained a question about bones from the butcher. One of the reasons we cook meat is to kill any bacteria that might have gotten on the meat during processing. Both you and your dog are susceptible to infectious agents contaminating raw meat and bones. But since you won’t be giving your dog bones, I don’t have to worry about reminding you about the hazards of raw bones!!

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For nearly 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.


Battery Ingestion

July 19, 2010

The June issue of Pediatrics contained an article on the hazards of button battery ingestion in children. Button batteries are found in remote controls, battery operated toys and even greeting cards. Because battery operated devices have shrunken, so have batteries, making them easy for children to swallow. As the number of battery operated devices increases in our homes, battery ingestion is rising in children. The 20mm lithium cell was the most common culprit, causing severe injury in children. The study authors hypothesize that the battery’s size is just right to lodge in the airway or esophagus of small children, causing burns or perforation of the delicate tissues.

Because pets and children have many similar behaviors and are often about the same size, I was concerned about battery ingestion in dogs and cats. I called the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888.426.4435), which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to get more information on this subject. Although there is a $65 fee to defray costs associated with providing this lifesaving service, it is worth every penny. Once you pay the fee and have a case number, you or your veterinarian can call the hotline as needed to get additional advice on optimal antidotes to whatever toxic substance your pet has eaten.

The staff of the ASPCA Poison Control Center was kind enough to answer my questions about battery ingestion in pets. They too are concerned about this problem in pets and recommend the following steps to owners if their pet inadvertently eats a battery. First, feed your pet a meal. Hopefully, the food will push the battery into the stomach, sparing the esophagus from damage. Then, immediately take your pet to the veterinarian for an x-ray. Fortunately, batteries show up on x-rays making it easy to determine where the battery is and what kind of damage it might be causing.

On a side note, if your child eats a battery, there is a national Battery Ingestion Hotline open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 202.625.3333 or call your local poison control center.

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For nearly 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.


Preventing Lyme Disease

July 12, 2010

If you live in the northern portion of the Mississippi River Valley or in the northeast as I do, June, July and August are peak months of incidence for Lyme disease in humans. These are the peak months for Lyme disease because the young Ixodes ticks (nymphs) carrying the Lyme disease organism (Borrelia burgdorferi) are most active in the late spring and summer.

Peak tick activity coincides with peak outdoor activity for both humans and pets, giving the young ticks an opportunity to attach and transmit the infection. In dogs, clinical signs of Lyme disease develop 2-5 months after a tick bite. Veterinarians can detect evidence of exposure to Lyme disease in the blood of cats, but cats seem to be more resistant to developing clinical signs of Lyme disease than are dogs.

Several different products are available to prevent tick infestation in dogs and cats. These days, the most common is a top spot solution applied between the shoulder blades of your dog or cat. Collars and sprays to prevent both ticks and fleas are also available. Ask your veterinarian which type of product will work best in your neighborhood and on your pet.

Annual vaccination is also an option for preventing Lyme disease in dogs. A vaccine is not available for preventing Lyme disease in cats. The Lyme vaccine is not considered a “core” vaccine and every dog does not require this vaccination. When you make your annual well dog visit to your veterinarian, put this vaccine on your list of topics to discuss.

Your backyard will be a source of ticks on your pet. Keep your dog and cat out of areas where the bushes and grass are not trimmed. Wooded areas should be off limits to dogs and cats in Lyme country. As pretty as deer are to watch in your backyard, they can serve as vehicles for tick transportation. Don’t attract deer by feeding them since they can bring ticks with them.

Should your dog or cat come home with a tick imbedded in its skin, removing the tick immediately will help stop transmission of the Lyme causing organism and only requires a tweezer. Grab the head of the tick as close to where it attaches to the skin and pull the entire head out of the skin. There is no need to use petroleum jelly, a match or a sharp object to remove a tick, and in fact these may cause more harm than good.

Preventing Lyme disease in your pet will have a positive impact on your health as well. Pets cannot give Lyme disease to their human or animal family members. They can, however, bring home ticks which can attach and transmit the Lyme disease-causing organism to your family or your other pets.

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. If you want to identify the tick you just pulled from your cat or dog as one that carries Lyme disease or not, most state departments of health have a website for identification of the ticks commonly found in your state. I recommend this website to my New York pet owners: http://www.cals.cornell.edu/cals/entomology/extension/medent/tickbiofs.cfm

Keep in mind a tick bite does not equal Lyme disease. Only a small percentage of tick bitten pets will develop clinical signs of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is not the only tick borne illness of dogs and cats, others include babesiosis, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. If your pet is acting sick, see your veterinarian and don’t forget to tell her about the tick bite.

For nearly 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.


Salmonella Poisoning in Pets

July 6, 2010

Salmonella is a bacteria we associate with food poisoning from consumption of undercooked chicken or poorly refrigerated picnic food. It is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it is a disease that affects both animals and humans.

You may have heard something about Salmonella in the news recently. Late in May, Salmonella caused the nationwide recall of alfalfa sprouts which made people sick in 10 different states. In the last three weeks there have been three voluntary dog and cat food recalls because of potential Salmonella contamination. Salmonella enters the pet food chain when it contaminates meat processing plants, eggs and, in one recent pet food recall, a vitamin supplement.

Salmonella infection in dogs and cats can be asymptomatic, cause a mild gastrointestinal illness or be severe and life threatening. In severe cases, your pet will stop eating, develop a fever, vomiting or bloody diarrhea. Your veterinarian may find an elevated white blood cell count and will do a test on the feces to determine if Salmonella organisms are present.

The most recent cat food recalled for potential Salmonella contamination was a raw food diet. Transmission of microorganisms is one significant downside to feeding a raw food diet. Some reports indicate up to 20% of raw food diets are contaminated with Salmonella. For this reason, many veterinarians are nervous about the health of their patients fed a raw food diet.

In addition to threatening the health of pets, Salmonella contaminated pet food poses risk to the human family members, especially small children and immunocompromised adults. Handling Salmonella contaminated pet food without proper hand washing could result in a human becoming infected with Salmonella. For tips on safe handling of pet food, read our previous blog on pet food recalls.

The Animal Medical Center
For 100 years, 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.


Making Difficult Decisions for Your Pet

June 7, 2010

Making certain decisions for your pet can be pretty simple. Yes, I give heartworm medication every month, because the drug is effective and much safer than treating my dog for heartworms. Yes, I know spaying my dog prevents mammary gland cancer and unwanted puppies. Yes, I keep my cat indoors to protect against cat fights, automobiles and feline leukemia virus infection. There are some decisions, however, that do not come so easily.

Recently, I spent time with a dog-owning family facing one of these tough decisions. The dog was older, but age should never be the sole criteria used to guide decision-making. The dog was in reasonably good shape until he collapsed earlier that day. Emergency evaluation discovered a life-threatening problem requiring an emergency surgery. It doesn’t get tougher than that — you’ve got your back against the wall and the clock is already ticking. Luckily for these owners and their dog, there was a surgical procedure to correct the problem, but (and there is always a “but” in these situations) the procedure was not without risks and no veterinarian could guarantee a positive outcome for the dog. Scientific research into this disease had identified four factors which decrease a dog’s chance of surviving the procedure. Unfortunately, this dog had three of the four factors. Does this information mean the dog should not be taken to the operating room? Not necessarily.

Just to illustrate the point, let me tell you about a cat and its owner I saw this week. Four years ago this cat experienced congestive heart failure, meaning his heart muscle was too weak to pump blood and fluid built up in his lungs. Sounds bad, and usually it is. Once a cat experiences congestive heart failure, the typical survival time is about one year. So why is this cat still alive four years later? Is the scientifically collected data wrong? Data gives probabilities about an outcome in a population of patients with a particular condition but cannot predict how a condition will affect an individual patient. Statistics will never tell the whole story since each pet is an individual and may respond better (or worse) than the typical pet with this condition. This lucky cat defied the odds and lived to tell about it.

So what is a pet owner to do in situations like this? First, listen to your veterinarian. Ask questions about the quality of life after the procedure, the length of hospitalization and the follow up care required. Some pets have the personality to cope with many trips to the hospital for follow up care, others do not. Some families have the time and energy to nurse a pet back to health; others do not. Only your family can determine what is right for you and your pet. Sometimes your veterinarian will give you grim statistics, but if your heart tells you not to quit or if you know your pet is not a quitter, then go forward with an informed and realistic expectation of the outcome of the procedure.

By the way, the dog with the three or four bad factors was discharged from the hospital three days after surgery. Go figure.

Sometimes, even after you speak with your veterinarian, you are still confused about what to do. Maybe your friends and family are giving you conflicting advice. Perhaps you have concerns you feel are too private to share with most people. You may need more time to talk things through than your veterinarian can give you. The Animal Medical Center is the only hospital in the tri-state area with a full-time counseling department. Trained social workers can speak with you by appointment, on the phone or during your pet’s visit to help you sort through your options, figure out what questions to ask, and help you decide what is right for you and your family.

If after careful consideration you decide not to pursue treatment and have chosen to let your loved one go, the Counseling staff will be with you through our pet loss services, including The AMC’s Pet Loss Support Group. To reach a counselor, call 212.329.8680. There is no charge for counseling services.

For more information about our counseling services, visit www.amcny.org/counseling. To contribute to the Counseling/Human-Animal Bond Program, visit www.amcny.org/contribute and ask that your donation go to support those services or consider joining our partnership with Margo Feiden Galleries.

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For nearly 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.


Summer Pet Hazards

June 1, 2010

As the weather warms up, everyone, including the family pet, wants to spend more time outdoors. Fresh air, sunshine and more opportunity to exercise are just a few of the benefits of the summer season. But summer also brings with it an opportunity for injury. To keep your pet safe this summer season, here are a quintet of pet hazards that could spoil your fun in the sun.

Heatstroke
Heatstroke is a completely preventable emergency. Pets should never be left in a closed car on a hot day. At home on scorching hot days, close the blinds, provide plenty of water and a fan or air conditioner. Some dogs have a greater risk of developing heatstroke. If you have a porky pooch, a dark-coated doggy or a flat faced fur friend like this French Bulldog, exercise them outdoors in the early or later part of the day when it is coolest. An overnight change from spring to summer weather may not allow your pet to acclimatize, increasing the risk for heatstroke. If your pet becomes overheated, is panting excessively or collapses, go immediately to an animal ER.

Falls
Our mothers told us cats always land on their feet and have nine lives. Every year, New York City cats prove our mothers wrong. Whether chasing pigeons or losing their balance on a slippery fire escape, every summer cats fall out of apartment windows. They clearly don’t always land on their feet because they commonly suffer a triad of injuries: fractured roof of the mouth, fractured wrists and punctured lungs. This type of injury may use up all nine lives at once, so please keep your windows closed or use window screens to protect your cat.

Thunderstorms
Is your dog better at predicting a thunderstorm than the weatherman? Some believe dogs hear thunder as it approaches and before humans do. Others believe the static electricity from the storm accumulates in their fur, making them act crazy before a storm. Whatever the cause, a special jacket may help. The Storm Defender coat diffuses the static electricity accumulating in your dog’s fur during a thunderstorm. The Anxiety Wrap’s tight fit soothes anxious or frightened dogs. However they work, these jackets are worth a try if your dog has thunderstorm phobia. They may protect your house from destruction by your frightened dog during a thunderstorm.

Gardens
Watching your cat stalk bugs in a summer garden can provide hours of entertainment, but the garden can be a dangerous environment for pets. Azaleas, lilies, tulips, cyclamen and narcissus can cause stomach upset or even kidney failure. It is best to check the plant’s toxicity profile before adding it to your garden. Mulch holds moisture around plants and creates an attractive look in your garden. Cocoa mulch has become popular for its dark color and aroma. Some dogs will eat the cocoa mulch, resulting in chocolate toxicity. For a pet-friendly garden, skip the cocoa mulch altogether.

Beaches and Pools
The beach is a great place to make a summer getaway for swimming, boating or reading a good book. Just be sure your dog is properly outfitted. A dog life jacket will prevent a dog overboard emergency if you have a landlubber dog. Take fresh drinking water for your dog if you are spending the day at the ocean – sipping too much salt water can result in stomach upset and/or diarrhea. If you can’t make it to the beach and are poolside, keep it safe for your dog by installing floating pool stairs. Most dogs can’t negotiate a pool ladder to escape if they fall into to the pool. Before there is an emergency, practice using the pool stairs so your dog knows where they are and how to use them. Swimming rules are for dogs too – never let them swim alone!

For more summer pet safety and health information please join us at The AMC’s PAW Day 2010, a day of pet and wellness fun for families and their furry companions, on Saturday, June 5 from 9am-12pm in Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan.
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The Animal Medical Center
For 100 years, 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.


Treating Pets with Acupuncture

May 24, 2010

What is acupuncture?
Developed in China over 3,000 years ago, acupuncture uses small needles inserted into specific points on the body to achieve a desired healing effect. This technique has been used in both human and veterinary patients to treat existing conditions and also to prevent new problems from arising. According to Chinese medical philosophy, disease is a result of imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy and assist the body in the healing process. In Western terms, acupuncture stimulates nerves, increases blood circulation, relieves muscle spasm and releases hormones such as endorphins that aid in pain control. Further research is needed to uncover all of acupuncture’s effects and for science to fully understand how this ancient art of healing truly works.

What conditions can acupuncture treat?
In veterinary medicine, acupuncture has been most successful in treating musculoskeletal disorders, such as:
• Arthritis
• Intervertebral disc disease
• Hip dysplasia

Acupuncture may be a successful therapy for other diseases in conjunction with traditional Western medicine to treat:

• Skin problems such as allergies and lick granulomas
• Gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea and constipation
• Genitourinary problems such as chronic renal failure and urinary incontinence
• Respiratory problems such as feline asthma
• Endocrine problems such as diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism
• Neurological problems such as seizures
• Neoplasia such as lymphoma, mammary cancer and mast cell tumors

Is acupuncture painful?
During acupuncture treatments, your pet lies comfortably on a padded mat. The insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless, and once the needles are in place there should be no discomfort to your pet. Most animals will become relaxed or even sleepy during their treatment. Sensation varies from animal to animal and some points on the body may be more sensitive than others. Human patients describe feelings similar to tingles, cramps or numbness, which may translate to mild discomfort in some pets.

Is acupuncture safe for my pet?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment when performed by a trained veterinarian. Side effects are rare but do exist. In the first 24-48 hours following a treatment, some animals may appear sleepy or lethargic and the condition may appear to be worse. These symptoms reflect a physiologic change brought about by the treatment and are most often followed by an improvement in your pet’s condition.

How long do treatments last and how often must they be given?
The length and frequency of treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the technique used by the veterinary acupuncturist. Stimulation of a single point may take as little as 10 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. A simple, acute injury such as a sprain may take one treatment, while a more severe or chronic disease can take multiple treatments.

When multiple visits are necessary, they usually begin intensely and are tapered to maximum efficiency. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatment. Once a maximum positive response is achieved (usually after 4-8 treatments), sessions are tapered off so the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them. Many animals with chronic conditions can taper off to 2-4 treatments per year.

To learn more about acupuncture treatments and The AMC’s Rehabilitation and Fitness Service, join us at AMC’s PAW Day 2010, a day of pet and wellness fun for families and their furry companions, on Saturday, June 5 from 9am-12pm in Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan.

Acupuncture at The AMC
Dr. Steven Chiros graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and completed an internship in 1999 at The Animal Medical Center. He is a certified veterinary acupuncturist through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and has received extensive instruction in Chinese herbal medicine. To schedule an acupuncture consultation or to make an appointment with Dr. Chiros, please call 212.329.8610.
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The Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation and Fitness Service at The AMC
The only facility of its kind in New York City, The AMC’s Rehabilitation and Fitness Service provides innovative and state-of-the-art therapies for cats, dogs, birds and exotic animals. The Service specializes in non-invasive therapies to prevent the need for surgery, and in cases where surgery has been performed, it helps to accelerate and achieve a more complete recovery. Therapies offered include hydrotherapy, treadmills and deep-tissue ultrasound, as well as holistic therapies such as Reiki, Acupuncture and Acupressure.

The Service is directed by a team of professionals who are experts in the rehabilitative care of companion animals, including New York City’s only Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioners and Therapists.

The Animal Medical Center
For 100 years, 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.


Rabies in NYC

March 16, 2010

Rabies is on the move in New York City (NYC). Last summer, five rabid raccoons were identified in NYC – four in the Bronx and one in Manhattan’s Inwood Park. By fall, three rabid raccoons were identified in Central Park. This week, a rabid cat from the Riverdale section of the Bronx was identified. Unfortunately three humans were exposed to this cat and are undergoing rabies prophylaxis. Below is a map prepared by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showing the number of rabid animals in NYC between December 2009 and February 2010. This tally includes 52 raccoons and a number of rabid animals in Central Park. New Yorkers should also be aware that bats can serve as rabies vectors and rabid bats have been identified in all five boroughs.

Click image to enlarge

Statues governing rabies vaccinations vary amongst municipalities. In New York City, all dogs and cats must be vaccinated for rabies. Some cat owners are not aware their cats can or should be vaccinated against rabies. With rabies in our communal backyard, vaccination is one critical means to protect not only pets, but humans as well.

For more information about vaccination requirements click here.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has excellent information on rabies in New York City.

Below is a list of what pet owners can do to help protect their pets and families against rabies.

• Check with your veterinarian to confirm your dog or cat is currently vaccinated against rabies. Keep a copy of the vaccination certificate in your files in case you need to prove your pet is vaccinated.

• Keep your dog on a leash or your cat indoors if you are in areas where there may be wild animals.

• Do not let trash accumulate outdoors. Trash may attract hungry wild animals to your neighborhood.

• If your dog or cat is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary attention immediately.

• Never approach a wild animal, even if it is acting friendly. Rabid animals exhibit unusual behavior and you should always be suspicious of rabies when a wild animal is behaving abnormally.

• If you find an injured wild animal, do not try to assist it but call 311 (in NYC) or your local police precinct for help.

• If you are bitten by a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately and notify the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that you have been bitten.  You should also submit a Bite Form if bitten in New York City.

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For nearly 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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