King is a stunning black and white, 5 year old, big boy that is very friendly and sweet once he warms up to you. More...
Vinny is a small Chihuahua/Terrier mix. He is sweet, young and perfectly healthy. If you love Chichuahuas and you love terriers, Vinny might just be the dog for you! More ...
We have recently added a Companion Therapy Laser from LifeCure, LLC to our clinic. Laser therapy is a drug-free, surgery-free and pain-free alternative treatment that can provide relief for many common pet ailments.
Below are just a few of the disorders that respond well to laser therapy:
“Serena is 14 years old and she was struggling to walk prior to getting her laser treatments. She is now going for walks in the park and her comfort level has increased by 75 percent.”
For more information about this new treatment option, or to schedule a consult with one of our veterinarians please contact us.
The season we bid adieu to some very dear companions:
Bailey and Sasha Shor, Cupcake Bowers, Nell Hughes, Skinny Pelensky-Poole, Buttercup Schwartz, Zeus Shapiro, Margot Seitzinger, Chubbs DeGregorio, Madeline Bartlett, Samantha Johnston, Ryan Guilliams, Toby Holtzman, Shelby Finer, Bosco Cross, Little Stray Cat Slobodzian, Herkules Leary, Lucy Maier, Bear Rocks, Jake Baklyckii, Lady Kern, Shibby Vaughn, Sally Krupp, Marley Smolda, Alba Young, Manna Campbell, Comet Raskay, Marcus O’Brien, Bobbie Libohorszky, Autumn Wilt, Inksmakis Sutter, Downey Katz-Auerbach, Nemo Bonner, Sonya Jawarski, Banjo Landsmann, Alcia Schaffer, Elwood Strandberg, Buddy Santoro, Octavia Bowers, Jake Weekes, Layla Berkenstock, Arlo Callahan, Shibby Brown, Chloe Smith, Ozzie Lynch, Grizzabelle Duffy, Kindle Joscelyne, Hudson and Mia Polkowski, Daisy Ziv-Stern, Kai Martin, Scooby Schonewolf, Sam Verdon, Buddy Melish, Delilah Rosenblatt, Velvet Long, Bean Cheifet, Jackson Zalesne, Sparks Rominiecki, Patches DiStefano, Gemmey Meltzer, Zoe Grossman, Zhatan Hutchinson-Flacco, Olivia Braun, Boss Man Langtry, Rambo Spross, Dixie Fitzpatrick, Lady Poundcake Solomon-Schwartz, Caruso Genuardi, Misty Kasztelan, Ramses Syga, Barley Schmid, Max Michalski, Charlie Ryan, Pia McQuay, Esmerelda Morris, Jessie Hope, Simba Knitter, Dutchess Carlin, Shamrock Freiling, Simba Borwosky, Tommy Queenan, Pookie Stahl, Gurdie Wolkiewicz, Lola Puican, Buzz Bryan, Penny Taylor, Louise Vasaturo-Aversa, Hunny Kates, Tippe Callahan-Lister, April Sava, Ralph Donnelly, Shadow Coyle, Boots Martinez, Sarge Rudolph, Ginger Kiernan, Hershey Baker, Pot O’Gold Myers, Annabelle Ginn, Samantha Pizzi, Wobbles DiStefano, Missy Caven, Pet Me Purrcy Levin, Marky Way, Mo Mo Malkin, Suessa McFatridge, Doug Schwartz, Spanky Politz, Boo Berman.
Well, it’s newsletter time again and as I write this, the weather is actually getting cold! But that’s to be expected, I guess—after all, it is January. I don’t know about you guys but if the last snow of the season was in October, I am A-OK with that. We have some interesting reads for you this month, as February is AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) Pet Dental Health Month. Dr. Laura lets us all know why our pets’ oral health is so important and Dr. Rubin advises us on the importance of “whole” foods in preventing dental disease. I know, I know, your first thought is, “Really? Are you telling me now I have to brush Bruno’s teeth every day?” … or better yet, “How do I fit a tooth brush in my cat’s mouth?” You’ll see that the results are worth the initial effort. Lisa Berkenstock teaches us the best way to go about establishing a positive experience with tooth brushing. Easy to say, right? Well, I’ll tell you what I do for my own pets, and they have nice pearly whites—even the “old” ones.
Do I brush my dogs’ teeth? Kind of ... Carmen and Gabrielle have their favorite Nylabones to chew on and of course raw, meaty beef bones once a week, and this helps keep their teeth tartar-free. My cat Christopher is a whole ‘nother story! He doesn’t chew bones but he will let me take a gauze pad and wipe his teeth every other day. I use plain water, since he will not tolerate the pet toothpaste. His Auntie Liz does give him a more extensive cleaning every six months or so, at the clinic, as he is prone to gingivitis. Because of his recurring gum issues and reluctance to chew a bone, I am going to try one of the oral health sprays that are currently advertised. Two that I have heard good things about are Leba III and Petz Life Oral Care spray; these are herbal sprays designed to improve the health of your pet’s mouth by promoting an environment that inhibits the formation of plaque. I am going to try the Leba III with Christopher, as this was the first on the market, and I will certainly let you know how effective it is (and is it really as easy as two spritzes daily?).
We have some winter tips for you as well on how to keep your pets safe while riding in the car. I’ve included another recipe for you to try on a cold lazy afternoon and even though it’s titled Pup’s Irish Stew, you can certainly offer it to your feline friend too!
Dr. Hutchinson has asked me to share her Zhatan’s story with you this Valentine’s Day. I encourage you to share your own pet love stories and pictures on our Facebook page. As always, I hope you enjoy what we have to offer and it is great to hear your feedback. Kathy
Most of us have seen some degree of dental problems in our pets, from a mild amount of tartar on the teeth to severe gum inflammation and tooth decay. Why does this happen? Does what we feed our pets have an impact? I believe it does, although, as with humans, genetics may also play a significant part.
Many people believe that dry food "cleans" teeth. This may, in part, be true, in that the coarseness of the food may scrape the teeth. Cats' teeth, however, are not designed to grind dry food. They have sharp, pointy teeth, meant for ripping and tearing. Flat teeth, like our molars, are used for grinding. Cats will often just bite a piece of kibble once or swallow the piece whole. There is very little contact time in the mouth and this may be the biggest reason that we see less tooth decay when they are fed dry food. But is this truly a good diet for their overall health?
The same may be true with dogs, although they have a few teeth that will grind. With canned diets, there is typically more tartar buildup. Canned meats are in the mouth for a longer time, unless your pet is a gulper, and most foods have gravies that can coat the gums. It may be reasonable to assume that more contact time, especially with carbohydrates or sugars in the diet, leads to more decay and tartar accumulation.
Wild canids, i.e., wolves, coyotes, etc., experience very little tooth decay. The same is true for wild felines, such as lions, tigers, etc. These animals eat whole prey, including skin, bones and internal organs. Our domesticated friends typically never touch a whole animal. The food they consume has been cooked and put into cans or bags. Commercial food is mostly comprised of muscle meat, with vegetables, grains and added vitamins. There are no whole bones, skin or internal organs to mechanically clean the teeth.
As many of you may already know, I've been an advocate of raw feeding for many years. I believe, when we feed a balanced, raw food diet, our pets are healthier and live longer. They are fed raw bone (yes, bone can be digested provided it is NOT cooked), muscle meat and internal organs. In my clinical experience, dogs and cats fed in this way have fewer dental problems. And of course, daily tooth brushing also reduces dental problems.
There was a recent study done, supported by the Waltham Company, a large pet food corporation, which concluded that pets fed a "home-prepared" diet had statistically more dental disease than those fed a commercial diet. They did not, however, clarify what they meant by "home–prepared." If the food was cooked, then, in my opinion, it would be inferior to raw. I, too, have seen more dental disease in pets that eat cooked food. However, home-cooked food, when comprised of wholesome ingredients, is far superior to commercial canned or dry foods, for not just dental, but for whole body health, as well.
So, bottom line—most of you feed a commercially prepared diet. To try to minimize dental disease, I recommend you brush your pet's teeth at least three times a week. Give your dogs soup bones, which are the leg bones of a cow. They can be found in the supermarket. They should be big enough so they cannot be swallowed whole. They can be fed right from the package, without cooking. Cats can be fed raw chicken wings as a treat. The chewing of these bones will also help to prevent tartar buildup.
If you are interested in feeding a raw diet or have questions regarding dental health for your pet, please contact the office for more information.
Imagine what your own mouth would look like if you did not brush and floss regularly. Now imagine what your mouth would look like if this went on for years! Eighty-five percent of our pets have periodontal disease by the age of three. Although it is best to prevent disease before it starts, it is never too late to intervene.
Routine dental care is essential for both the pet's oral health and overall health. Bacteria and saliva are continually mixed together in the mouth and this forms plaque. If the mouth is not regularly disinfected and the plaque is not brushed off, the plaque will mineralize and form tartar. Tartar creates a unique environment that is harmful to the gum tissue and underlying bone. If this process is not prevented or stopped, tooth loss and even bone/jaw breakage can result. Unfortunately, the damage is not limited to the mouth. Bacteria can get into the bloodstream and damage organs such as the heart, liver or kidneys. Thus, routine dental care is essential for overall health!
Professional Cleaning: When your pet receives a professional cleaning at our office, it is very similar to your own dental visit. Visible tartar and tartar below the gum line are removed with different instruments, periodontal disease is assessed by probing the sockets, the enamel is polished to remove any unevenness (helps prevent tartar from reattaching), and the mouth is disinfected and examined for abnormalities. The frequency of these professional cleanings will be addressed by your veterinarian and is based on a variety of factors. General anesthesia is required to thoroughly treat your pet because it is necessary to treat periodontal disease where it occurs: under the gum line.
Home Care: Home care is necessary to help prevent periodontal disease, or the progression of it. There are a variety of ways dental health can be maintained, but brushing is the most important. Studies have shown that brushing daily controls existing gingivitis and brushing three times a week maintains healthy teeth and gums. When brushing your pet's teeth, remember to ask us how to introduce a toothbrush and paste properly. Try to clean their teeth daily and use proper pet-approved toothpaste (DO NOT use human toothpaste on your pet). It is not recommended to clean the inner surface of your pet's teeth (natural saliva cleans this surface). Also, if your pet recently had a professional cleaning, wait about one week before home care is started, since their gums may be tender. If your pet has advanced dental disease, home care is not an alternative and a professional cleaning should be discussed with our office.
Regular brushing of your pet's teeth can be a hard habit to get into. Although the following options are not as effective as brushing, they will still help. Products such as dental wipes, rinses and pads are available if brushing is too cumbersome, but still should be used daily.
Dental treats can help too because a proper dental chew can reduce plaque by up to 69%. Two options are Greenies and Pedigree Dentastix. It would be best to discuss using these chews with our doctors since, if not properly chewed, some treats have the potential to cause an obstruction (emergency), and a diseased tooth may break if the pet chews on a hard chew. And as a note, in my opinion, cow hooves and bones are not appropriate chew toys, as they are too hard and may break teeth.
Dental Diets: In general, canned food allows plaque and tartar to accumulate more readily than dry food. However, basic kibble (dry food) alone is not a proper way to ensure dental health. As a result, many food companies have formulated dental diets with techniques to reduce plaque. One example is Hill's t/d, a prescription diet which utilizes larger kibble size (increases mechanical cleansing), a fiber matrix that resists recrumbling, scrubs the tooth (to reduce bacteria), and is clinically proven to reduce gingivitis. Actually, this is what one of my kids eats and I am happy with the results.
If you have any further questions, please give us a call!
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. The designation is intended to increase pet owner awareness of the importance of proper dental hygiene for their pets. Pet owners are often advised to get their dog "used to" prophylactic oral care. Many clients who attend my puppy kindergarten classes tell me that their veterinarian recommended that they brush their puppy's teeth. "Start early," they're told. "Get your pet comfortable with having their mouth manipulated so they will be good oral hygiene patients for life."
For most pet owners, it's not that easy. Their attempts to hold a squirming pup, while brushing a mouth filled with puppy needle-teeth often turn into frustration and defeat. Their efforts to calm their kitten into accepting a toothbrush being pushed into their tiny, little mewing mouth can create claw marks on the backs of the client's hands and an overall sense of futility. The AVMA is telling you that "Veterinarians report that periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed problem in dogs and cats," and you want to do everything you can to prevent your pet from adding to the statistic. But how?
The "getting used to" process is not a natural one. It takes time, patience and a clear understanding of how to use behavior modification to change how your pet feels. Some dogs and cats are frightened of having a toothbrush inserted into their mouths. Some are annoyed by the manipulation necessary to successfully open their mouths. Some are nauseated by the taste of the toothpaste and some just don't have the patience to stay in one position long enough to endure the prophylactic treatment. The "getting used to" process' success is dependent on the steps you take to achieve it. I recommend following a program of classical conditioning to help change your pet's stress to confidence and calm. If you want to make your pet feel good about having his/her teeth cleaned, you'll need to dial back the intensity of the end process and start from a level that your pet is comfortable with.
You can start by choosing a brushing tool that is easily manipulated and small enough to be comfortable in your dog’s or cat's mouth. Small pet toothbrushes can sometimes be cumbersome. I like to use a washcloth or 2”x2” gauze square wrapped around my index finger. The conditioning protocol works by forming an emotionally conditioned association between the cloth rag and tooth-touching stimuli and the food. In other words, you want your pet to start to feel great about having a tooth and gum line rubbed with a cloth by allowing the dog to lick some peanut butter while you are touching his gums lightly with the cloth. You should proceed slowly and use high value food as treats in order to see the best overall improvement. Over time, you will slowly increase the intensity of the tooth brushing stimulus, while still giving high value food to your dog. The goal is to change the meaning of all the things your dog associates with the teeth brushing process. They will no longer feel that C.E.T. toothpaste on a washcloth predicts something unpleasant. Instead, they will think it predicts an extra special treat is coming. You will have successfully conditioned a new emotional response. The dog will learn, in no time at all, that having his mouth manipulated means peanut butter will be dispensed. Teeth brushing will be desirable for your dog and cat. Periodontal disease will be minimized and so will the necessity to bring your dog to the veterinarian for dental cleanings, an anesthetic procedure. The plan is positive and the results are positive for all creatures involved—even the two-legged ones!
I should have known that with a name like Zhatan, I would be in for one unique experience. My sweet boy came into my life on July 4, 2007. It was a horribly stormy day with tornado warnings all around the region; 4th of July events were cancelled all over. Nonetheless, in the car, we all went to northern Bucks County to meet our son for the first time. My stomach was all butterflies as Zhatan was coming home to a big sister Dobie named Bailey, who was not a fan of other four-leggers. We pulled into the driveway and there in the yard was an entire litter of adorable little Dobies, all running around with their ears taped up, except one. My boy stuck out like a sore thumb, not only because he had no party hat but also because he was so tiny. He had been born dead and was brought back to life by his loving breeder, Nancy. He was bottle-fed and spoiled rotten his entire puppy-hood by Nancy; now it was my turn. She placed him into my arms—and it was instant love. The way he smelled and felt, I will never forget. His little puppy grunts and yips still fill my ears when I close my eyes. Tearfully, Nancy let him go and off we went.
Zhatan was an instant sensation with everyone in my life, all except one: big sister Bailey. She absolutely hated him and for the first five days, I thought I would be living in a home blocked off with gates and locked doors. But one day, Bailey decided that the little black and rust puppy wasn’t so bad after all. She did however let Zhatan know that she was in charge, and she loved and nurtured him with all her heart.
His puppy-hood was full of sleepless nights for his parents. Zhatan was persistent, fun, energetic and always seemed to know what he wanted and just how to get it. He was an honor student at puppy kindergarten and made me so proud. I guess being a Doberman meant that he loved to work and to have a purpose. Zhatan’s uniqueness was felt by all whose life he was a part of. Everyone said there was just something special about him.
Adolescence brought many of Zhatan’s medical issues to light. He was cryptorchid and was diagnosed with von Willebrand’s disease. I quickly became an expert at severe vaccine-induced cellulitis, food allergies, and daily bleeding emergencies. He however, had no idea that anything was ever wrong with him. He would run and play and just bleed and bleed, never stopping or slowing.
We went to phase 1 and 2 obedience, in both of which he excelled. Zhatan was a working dog and he let everyone, including me, know it. He was happiest in the ring, where he could prance and strut his stuff. I therefore decided to delve into the new world of agility. What a learning experience for both of us; he learned much more quickly than I. I still hear the words “weave, weave, weave” over and over in my mind. Zhatan quickly became one of the best agility dogs at the facility. Always being on the leader board for weave pole times, there wasn’t an obstacle he was afraid of or couldn’t overcome, even the seesaw was no match for my Zhatan. We did agility for about a year but had to stop because of the hemorrhaging that it induced; we were both very sad to have to stop. We quickly found another canine sport: rally. Oh, how he loved it. He pranced and strutted all the way around the ring, performing to his best. I can honestly say that he never once let me down, for he was mommy’s little performer.
Other than the bleeding, day-to-day life was pretty normal, at least as normal as life with dogs can be. We started off the days with breakfast, as most people and dogs do. But at my house, it was a little different because Zhatan wouldn’t eat without being sung to. I made up a breakfast song just for him and as long as there was singing, he would eat, but the second I would stop singing, the eating ceased. OK, so the breakfast song was: Eat your breakfast, eat your breakfast, like a biggie boy, like a biggie boy, not a little scrawny boy but a biggie boy, eat your breakfast, eat your breakfast. I know, pretty lame, but it worked and Zhatan ate with enthusiasm. The remainder of the day would be filled with walks, running after deer, playing in the yard with Bailey, chewing yum-yum bones, trips to the park, and many, many hugs and kisses. Life was good and much fun was had.
Just shy of his first birthday, Zhatan learned what it was like to have a little sister. We welcomed Lily into our home on Easter weekend 2008. They became instant best friends, which was good as it took stress off his aging big sister, Bailey. Life with three dogs was eventful and certainly never quiet. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay at three for very long. We all had to say goodbye to Bailey in August of 2008. My heart broke and I thought I could never be whole again. But I still had two wonderful, sweet pups to help me through and to keep me sane. Zhatan mourned for quite a long time. Bailey had always been in charge and her passing brought turmoil to the pack. Within time, we learned to live without her. I will never say that it hurts any less, there’s just more and more time separating us with every passing second.
Zhatan and Lily made the move with me to Philadelphia in early 2010. Of course, leaving Southampton meant we said goodbye to their large yard and house. We moved into a twin with a very tiny yard, but what we lost in space, we gained in love. We all adjusted amazingly well and loved our trips to Pennypack Park. The two ran and played and Lily even taught big brother how to swim. In fact, he soon loved the water more than she. Life was great and fairly ordinary, aside from constant bleeding and sensitive Dobie stomach issues. Zhatan was active, strong, athletic, and other than his bleeding issue, seemingly very healthy.
Everything changed on November 20, 2011. Our family went to the park for a nice afternoon hike. We hiked about five miles, during which time Zhatan and Lily ran and played. Everything was fine until Zhatan started coughing. It was that dreaded cough that is every Dobie owner’s worst nightmare. For that cough means only one thing—heart failure from DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). But it couldn’t be, he’s only four years old; please God, no. We barely made it back to the house with him. Zhatan quickly progressed to respiratory distress and turned purple. We rushed him to the clinic and radiographs were taken; my worst nightmare was realized. My four-year-old Dobie had DCM and was in congestive heart failure. I pumped him full of diuretics and he slowly responded. Within 12 hours he was back to normal—running, playing, and bossing his sister around.
We went to the cardiologist, Dr. Bossbaly, and were all stunned by the news. His heart disease was very severe, but with meds, he should live another one to two years. OK, so my little boy is going to die, but at least, I was to have more time with him. We started him on his new medication regimen and all was good. We still enjoyed nightly walks and playing in the front yard. He never coughed again and showed the same enthusiasm for life that he always had; that is, until December 7th—one of the darkest days of my life.
I worked my normal Tuesday clinic shift of 2pm-8pm, and drove home in torrential rain. I parked the car in the driveway, unlocked the door to be greeted by my fiancée calling for me to come quickly. As I opened the basement door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw my Zhatan take one final step, collapse and go agonal. I caught him on his way down so his head didn’t hit the floor and held him as his spirit went to the heavens. I vigorously started doing CPR and screaming, “Get the hell back here, darn you.” But it wasn’t to be. He was gone; my boy was gone forever.
My life has been forever changed by the passing of my sweet little boy. He taught me so much, and once again I am left devastated. I still hear his clicky toenails on the hardwood, his bark at the front window, and his whine when his bone would go under the couch. I find his hair on the floor, in the fridge, and on the furniture—every Dobie owner knows that darn hair gets everywhere. I still smell his little boy smells on his chair and blanket. Our nightly walks aren’t the same without him and breakfast/dinner is without song. My tears will forever fall and my heart will forever be missing a very large piece.
Hutch’s Zhatan Black Bedlam, I hope you can hear me because I need to say a few things to you. First of all, thank you for sharing your short life with me and for helping me raise your little sister, who misses you terribly. Thank you for living life with such zest and joy. Thank you for being such a good boy. I need you to keep Bailey company up there until we can all get there, and please give her a big kiss from her mommas. I love you buddy, and I always will. Good night, my sweet prince; rest in peace.
Skill Level: Moderate
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound beef chuck, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes *
½ pound baby carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks *
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups beef broth (use low or no sodium)
½ can tomato paste (3 oz)
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Directions: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat beef cubes with flour, then brown them in the oil. In a slow cooker, place the carrots and potatoes. Once browned, place the meat on top of the vegetables. Stir in the beef broth and tomato paste. Cover and cook on medium high for six hours, or low for eight hours. Before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and stir into the broth. Return to a low simmer to thicken (you can also transfer the stew to a pot and bring it to a simmer on the stovetop). Cool and serve as a complete meal or use a few spoonfuls as a garnish over kibble. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container, up to three days. Freeze leftovers for up to three months.
* For a cat or small dog, be sure to cut the beef and carrots into smaller pieces.
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