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  105 N. 3rd Street, Wolmesdorf, PA 19567
  (610) 589-5019
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Hours

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
(on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th weekend of each month)

Sunday Closed

Latest News

A Reminder About Lilies

Tiger lilies, day lilies, Easter lilies, oriental lilies are very toxic to pets.  These “true” lilies contain a large amount of a toxin that causes kidney failure in cats (and possibility death). The toxic substance is found in the leaves, flowers, bulbs, and even the pollen of these flowers.  It is important to keep all pets (especially cats) away from these types of lilies.  If you suspect your cat has ingested even a small amount of a lily, have him/her checked immediately.  Be sure to take in the plant too.  Calla Lilies, daffodils, tulips and crocuses contain compounds that can irritate a pet’s mouth and digestive system, but do not contain the kidney toxin that “true” lilies do.  Daffodils also contain a toxin that can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and heart arrhythmias.  It is best to keep pets away from all spring flowers to prevent toxicity.

Artificial Sweeteners Can Be Dangerous for Your Pets

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in some sugarless gums, diabetic candies and other “sugar free” products. Xylitol is safe for humans but, it can cause extremely low blood sugar levels and liver failure in dogs (and possibly ferrets) if it is ingested in a large enough quantity.  The amount of Xylitol varies greatly between sugar free products that contain it. It is not known if Xylitol is toxic to cats because cats are not usually attracted to foods that taste sweet.  If you suspect your pet has eaten something containing Xylitol, have him/her examined immediately (Be sure to bring the package with the ingredient list with you).

How much do you know about Berks County Ticks?

Take this quiz to test your knowledge. (The correct answers can be found at the end of this post.)

1. True or False: Most Ticks that are active this time of year (March) are Deer ticks.

2. True or False: If you can see a tick easily, it is not a deer tick.

3. True or False: Every deer tick carries Lyme disease

4. True or False: It is easy to feel a tick when it bites you.

5. How many legs do adult ticks have? __

6. True or False:  A major symptom of Lyme disease in dogs is muscle/joint pain.

7. True or False: People that are infected with Lyme disease always have a red “bull’s eye” skin lesion.

8. True or False: A tick’s head will continue to burrow into the skin if it is detached from the body

 

Answers:

1. True.   The American Dog ticks show up later in the year.

2. False: Adult deer ticks are large enough to see easily, especially engorged females.  The larval and nymph life stages of the ticks (prevalent in June, July and August) are very small and difficult to see.

3. False.  Up to 50% of deer ticks may be carriers of Lyme disease.

4. False: Ticks secrete several substances in their saliva, one of which “numbs” the area so that their bite is not felt. Another substance prevents the blood from clotting so that they can feed easily.

5. Eight.  Ticks are not insects. 

6. True:  Muscle/joint pain, fever, and loss of appetite are hallmarks of Lyme disease in dogs.

7. False.  Many people who become ill with Lyme disease never find a “bull’s eye” lesion on their skin.

8. False.  This is an old wives tale.

Demodex Mange Mites

Demodex is a microscopic mite that lives on everyone’s skin (including humans!).  This photo was taken thru the microscope. Normally a pet or person never knows that these 8 legged mites are quietly living in our hair follicles.  However, when the immune system is weak, these creatures can multiply unchecked and cause an itchy rash and skin infection.  This rash can be very severe and is often referred to as demodectic mange.  There are two types of demodectic mange that occur in dogs:  juvenile and adult.  The juvenile form of the disease is usually self limiting and resolves without treatment as a puppy’s immune system matures.  The mite in the photo came from a puppy that recovered completely without treatment.  The adult form of the disease is much more serious and usually occurs in dogs that already has some other disease that affects the immune system.  The adult form is very difficult to treat and even harder to cure.  Demodectic mange can usually be diagnosed with a skin scrape.

3 Winter Pet Health Hazards

The polar vortex may have moved back up to the North Pole, but there is still plenty of frigid winter weather to come.  Have you considered these 3 cold weather pet health hazards?

 

 

Fan belts and cats

Outdoor cats seek warm places to sleep in. Unfortunately, they may try to stay warm under the hood of cars and trucks.  This comfy spot becomes a dangerous spot when the ignition is started.  The fan belt or other moving parts can strike a slumbering cat and severely injure or kill it. To prevent this, knock loudly on the hood before starting your car or truck to alert any stowaways that it is time to find another hiding spot.

Frozen ponds and dogs

Dogs are very poor judges of the thickness of ice on ponds and lakes.  They may unknowingly walk out onto thin ice and fall through.  This can quickly result in hypothermia in the dog or a person that tries to save the dog and falls thru the ice too!  Be sure to leash your dog when walking near frozen lakes and ponds

Antifreeze and all pets

The ethylene glycol in many antifreezes may seem like a sweet treat to dogs, but this colorful substance is extremely toxic.  Although cats are not attracted to sweet things, they will lick their paws after walking thru a puddle of antifreeze. Always check for the bright yellow puddles in the driveway and garage.  Clean up any spills immediately. Better yet, use only pet friendly antifreeze that does not contain ethylene glycol.  

Why do dog paws smell like corn chips?

What kind of food is best for your pet's health?

So many pet food commercials claim to have the best food for pets.  One company even invites pet parents to compare their food to several other nationally known pet food brands.  If only we could believe what pet food companies claim!  Two very common misconceptions about pet foods are:

#1 True or False:  If “chicken” is listed first on the list of ingredients, the food is better than a food that lists “chicken meal” first on the list of ingredients.

                          Answer: FALSE   “chicken” actually contains less protein than “chicken meal” (“chicken meal” is dehydrated meat whereas “chicken” meat     contains a large percentage of water). 

 

#2 True or False: Foods that are grain free are better for your dog than food that contain grains.

                        Answer: FALSE.  Grains are a great source of the protein, omega 3 fatty acids and fiber.  A dog’s body uses proteins exactly the same whether  they come from meat or grain. 

So how do you know what is best to feed your pet?  We recommend sticking with the foods manufactured by companies that spend a lot of money on pet nutrition research.  These companies are Hills (Science Diet), Iams (Eukanuba), Purina (Pro-plan is their best) and Royal Canin.  Other companies spend lots of money on marketing and advertising their foods.

Please read more about pet nutrition myths by clicking below.

Can good pet dental health lead to lower blood pressure for owners?

February is both National Pet Dental month and Human Heart Health Awareness month.  So what are some connections between teeth, heart health, people and pets?..

 

 

  1. Petting a pet is heart healthy!  Stroking a dog or cat’s fur lowers blood pressure the human AND the pet.
  2. Dental disease is NOT heart healthy.  Inflammation that results from poor dental health has been repeatedly linked to heart (and liver and kidney) disease in humans and pets.
  3. Brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the best ways to prevent dental disease and keep his/her heart (and liver and kidneys) healthy and breath fresh.
  4. When your pet’s breath is fresh, you’re more likely to pet him/her.
  5. When you pet your pet, you lower your blood pressure and your heart is a little healthier. 

Conclusion: YES! Good pet dental health can lead to lower blood pressure for owners and improve heart health a little.

Your Pet’s Age in “Human Years”

Have you ever wondered how old your dog or cat is in “human years”.  The old rule of thumb that 1 year of a pet’s life equals 7 human years is not really accurate.  Pets are teenagers by the end of their 1st year and then start to age slower.  A pet’s weight also contributes to how quickly a pet will age after their first year.  A 10 lb. cat or dog is the equivalent human age of 50 when they are about 8 years old whereas a Great Dane will reach a human age of 50 when they are only 6 years old.  Refer to the table above to get an estimation of your pet’s “real” age.  Just find his/her real age at the bottom and follow the colored line for his/her weight.  A pet’s “real” age can then be found on the left hand axis of the chart.

How much your really feeding your pet.

How much is your pet really eating?  

Next time you are feeding your pet their food or a snack, consider this: If you feed a 30 lb. dog 1 cup of food, it is roughly the equivalent of feeding an adult person 5 cups of food! 

How is this possible you ask?!  An average person weighs about 150 lbs. a 30 lb dog is 1/5th the weight of a person so we can multiply the amount the dog eats by 5.  

The table below gives more comparisons based on pet weight.  Too many pets are overweight (or worse yet - obese!). Pets that carry excess weight are at risk of the same health problems that humans are: diabetes, joint disease, cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. The most common reason, by far, for pet obesity is overfeeding by owners.  So next time you are filling your pet’s bowl, measure the food and compare it to how much YOU would be eating.  You might be surprised by how much your pet is really eating!

Weight of your pet             Feeding 1 cup of food is approx. equivalent to YOU eating:

     10 lb.                                                           15 cups

     20 lb.                                                        7 ½  cups

     30 lb.                                                            5 cups

     50 lb.                                                            3 cups

     75 lb.                                                            2 cups

 

Betty is a very special kitty

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but Betty the Kitty has only three legs!  Her story started when she somehow injured her lower right “forearm”.  As a result of this injury, she lost the lower part of her front leg.  The remaining stump was just long enough to touch the ground when she tried to use the leg while walking or even while just sitting.  Every time the wound touched something, Betty would feel a jolt of pain.  The only option that would prevent her pain was amputation of the leg at the shoulder.  This would remove the painful stump and prevent her from ever bumping it again.  Dr. Mike performed her surgery late in February.  She was the perfect patient during her hospital stay. Betty quickly learned how to balance on three legs and has since made an amazing recovery. Most importantly, she is now pain free. The photos below were taken 10 days after surgery.  (She is licking one of her rear paws in the photo).  Once her fur is completely regrown, it will be hard tell that Betty is motoring around on only three legs.  You will always have a special place in our hearts Betty.

Greyhounds - The "Need for Speed" Breed

It is said that the only other animal that can run faster than a Greyhound is a cheetah.  These dogs can reach a speed of 45 mph in as little as three strides.  This amazing acceleration made them excellent hunting companions in the ancient Middle East and very fast racing dogs today.  Unlike most other dogs, these hounds rely on sight rather than scent to locate prey and are referred to as “sighthounds”.   They have a very strong drive to chase anything that is moving - a trait that is great for hunting, but can also result in serious trouble if they run out into the street.  Because of this, a Greyhound should always be on leash or safely confined to a fenced in yard.

This breed is very healthy and can live to be 12-14 years old.  They do have a few unique medical considerations however.  Greyhounds have a higher proportion of lean body mass (muscle) than most other breeds of dogs.  Because of this, they can react differently to anesthesia and must managed very carefully and monitored very closely when they require surgery.  Other “oddities” greyhounds are prone to are: lower than normal thyroid hormone levels, heart murmurs (most of which are not a problem), pattern baldness (especially of the thighs), corns on their feet, toe nail disease, and pannus (a progressive eye disease that can result in blindness).

Greyhounds are by nature very gentle and loyal dogs.  Although they love to run, they are equally content to share the couch with their owners.  Every Greyhound I have met has had a very sweet personality.  Most Greyhounds are adopted as adults after they are retired from the racetrack.  They adapt very well to their new homes and quickly become a treasured member of the family just like beautiful Bambi pictured above

 

Affordable Health care for your pets

Introducing pet wellness plans for our patients.

We now have PAWS (Pet Annual Wellness Sevices) plans available for patients of all ages.  These plans have been designed to address two major concerns most pet owners have: 

 

1. Paying for pet care all at once

2. The cost of pet care.

 

Our wellness plans spread out the cost of wellness* visits over an entire year AND give significant discounts on all wellness* services as well as several non-wellness services.  The plans are available in different levels of coverage from basic to premium to address the needs of pets at any life stage.

Next time you visit our office, please ask about these plans and see which plan best serves you and your pet’s needs or look over the plans by clicking on the "Pet Resources" tab on this website

We look forward to discussing the plans with you.

NO BONES about it - Chewing on real bones can result in big problems

Beefy (yes, this is his real name) thoroughly enjoyed devouring his “marrow bone”. He enjoyed it so much that he ate the whole bone.  Unfortunately, three days later, Beefy was unable to move his bowels and was very uncomfortable.   The X-ray shows the extent of fecal impaction that resulted from the bone – Beefy’s large intestine was packed full of fecal material that contained very sharp shards of bone.  The material had the consistency of concrete and was just too large, and too hard to pass.  A fecal impaction of this magnitude and especially one that is full of bone, can easily lead to a tear or a puncture of the bowel with sometimes fatal results! 

Beefy was treated with several enemas to soften and lubricate the fecal material and make it easier to pass.  Amazingly he passed all of the material over 24 hours and went home the next day….several pounds lighter!  He was on antibiotics for a few days as his colon healed.  Sometimes it is necessary to remove fecal material manually, but only after the material has been softened and lubricated.  Because the large bowel contains so many bacteria, surgery on this part of the intestine should only be done as a last resort if enemas and laxatives do not result in resolution of the impaction. 

Fortunately "everything came out OK" and Beefy has made a full recovery.

The Exquisitely Soft Cornish Rex Cats

All Cornish Rex cats today can trace their ancestry back to a single kitten, named “Kallibunker”, that was born in Cornwall England in 1950.  Kallibunker’s unique appearance was the result of a spontaneous natural genetic mutation.  This mutation resulted in a line of cats like no other. 

The most defining characteristic of a Cornish Rex cat is the fur coat.  Because their fur consists of only the downy undercoat, a Cornish Rex cat is amazingly soft to the touch. Their velvety coat is also so curly that it looks like it has been crimped.  Even their whiskers are curly!  Their large “bat ears” and expressive eyes are beautifully set on their egg-shaped heads.   The Cornish Rex’s body is slender and very muscular with a distinctive arch in their spine.  You can see all of these characteristics in the photo of Sophie. 

Cornish Rexes are very intelligent, social and active.  They can be quite vocal and usually insist on being in the center of all activities that occur in their homes. Their amusing antics only make them more lovable. 

This breed of cat tends to be very healthy but should be kept indoors because of their short coats.  They may require more frequent bathing than other breeds of cats as their coats tend to be oily.  Contrary to popular belief, Cornish Rex cats are NOT hypoallergenic.  They produce allergens in their saliva, oil glands, and urine like all other cats.  

Cornish Rex cats are truly a joy to touch, to watch and to share a home with.

Recognizing hyperthyroid disease in your cat. Solar's story

The weight loss became noticeable about 2 months ago.  Solar’s* weight dropped 33% (from 15 to 10 pounds).  Her owner wasn’t too concerned when Solar started to lose the weight, after all she had been over-weight for most of her 13 years!  Despite a few episodes of vomiting and an occasional bout of diarrhea, her appetite had remained very good.  Solar also seemed more active until earlier this week when she stated to act sick and didn’t want to eat.  She continued to drink and was urinating a larger amount.

Hyperthyroid disease (excessively high thyroid hormone level) affects many older cats.  Thyroid hormone is secreted by 2 small glands located in neck of all mammals.  When this gland secretes excessive amounts of thyroid hormone, the metabolic rate (rate at which the body burns energy) increases dramatically.  This in turn puts extra stress on the heart resulting in a heart murmur and sometimes an abnormal heart beat rhythm (a gallop rhythm).The hallmarks of this disease are usually “easy” weight loss despite an increased appetite, intermittent episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea and normal to increased activity.  Kidney disease often occurs concurrently with hyperthyroid disease but can be masked in untreated cats until late in the disease. Solar’s thyroid hormone level was 4 times the normal level for a cat and she had evidence of early kidney disease on her blood work panel.

Fortunately, hyperthyroid is a treatable disease and can even be cured. Treatment can consist of (1) daily medication to reduce the level of thyroid hormone, (2) surgery to remove the thyroid gland(s) or (3) radioactive iodine treatment.  The key to successful treatment is early detection and early treatment before irreversible heart disease or kidney disease can occur.

* Solar is a fictitious patient that represents 3 cats that we have recently cared for that have presented with nearly identical symptoms.

New Flea and tick medication for your dog

Just in time for Flea season!

There is a brand new way to kill fleas and ticks on dogs this year.  Bravecto, a chewable tablet, is given once every 3 months!  This novel medication kills fleas and ticks quickly AND is very safe for dogs.  Because Bravecto is given by mouth, there is no dreaded greasy residue left behind so there is no interruption in your dog’s petting and cuddling.  

The Cain Corso

Hahn, pictured with Sarah after eye surgery, is a 5 month old Caine Corso puppy.  Like Mastiffs (which Cain Corso are closely related to) they are very large dogs.  Hahn’s adult weight will probably exceed 100 lbs.  These dogs were first bred as Roman war dogs.  Later in Roman history, they were used as gladiator dogs to fight lions.   Cain Corso’s will protect their families with same ferocity today.  They love their families, but are very wary of strangers.  Cains are not usually aggressive by nature, but do react aggressively to any threat they perceive.  This powerful guard dog is not for everyone, but families that have raised them wouldn’t trade their fearless protector for anything.    

HEAT STROKE - its not the heat, it really is the humidity

Heat Stroke (also known as heat exhaustion) can occur in dogs as well as people when the temperature and the humidity become elevated - especially if we are not accustom to the heat and humidity.

Dogs are especially susceptible to overheating because they do not sweat(*) like humans do and must lose excessive body heat by evaporation from their tongues while panting. Heat stroke can occur in less than 20 minutes.  Risk factors for this life threatening disease include: old age, unusual physical exertion, obesity, short nose (like bulldogs), dark coat color, and any preexisting breathing problems (again like bulldogs). 

Symptoms of Heat stroke can include: increased panting, dry gums, sprawling on the ground, unwillingness to get up, vomiting, altered mental state, seizures, coma and even death.

To prevent heat stroke:

  • Do not exercise your dog outdoors between the hours of 10:00AM and 6:00PM on hot and humid days (especially if he/she has any     type of breathing problems).
  • Provide your dog with plenty of fresh cool water
  • Never leave your dog in a car unattended…not even for just a few minutes. 

If you suspect your dogs is developing heat stroke, immediately take measures to cool him/her by spraying with cool water, taking him/her indoors and placing him/her in front of a fan.   Call for medical advice immediately as further medical treatment will likely be needed to ensure your pet recovers with no lasting effects of heat stroke. 

(*) There are two places on a dog’s body that do secrete sweat - their foot pads and the bridge of their noses

The Bengal Cat

What do you get when you cross a wild Asian Leopard cat with a Domestic cat?  You get the friendly, gracefully athletic cat with unmatched curiosity known as the Bengal cat.  The breed was perfected in 1980’s after Jean Sugden Mill began to breed domesticated cats with a Wild Asian Leopard cat. 

Bengals, are born with a spotted (or marbled) coat that is very soft to the touch. Their coat color can range from dark and spotted (like Rocco) to beige and striped.  Some kittens possess a “glitter gene” that results in a coat that sparkles and glistens in sun light.

Although Bengal cats are not at all wild, they have retained some of the forest dwelling Leopard Cat’s personality traits.  They are definitely not couch potatoes and need to be active and entertained. If they are not kept entertained, they will inevitably find some mischief to get into.   They are accomplished “base jumpers” and absolutely love to climb and jump on to and off every horizontal surface in the house.    Unlike most domestic cats, Bengals also enjoy playing with water and may join their owners in a bath or “help” with the dishes.  Rocco’s owner shared that he, like many other Bengals, will play fetch like a dog. Some Bengals can be trained to tolerate a harness and will walk on a leash outside.

Bengals have a greater vocabulary than domestic cats and will converse with their owners but do not talk constantly.  These domesticated leopard cats make wonderful companions will entertain with their playful antics. 

OH NO! Not the cat carrier! Easing your cats fear of the carrier

How to turn your cat into a Tasmanian devil in three easy steps:  
1. Bring the cat carrier out of storage    2. Scoop up kitty from a nap      3. Try to stuff kitty into carrier.  

Fortunately the following tips may help ease Kitty’s carrier phobia:

1. Leave the carrier out, with the door open, where kitty can see it all the time to help him get used to it.  Place a comfortable blanket and a few delicious treats in it so that kitty begins to associate it with treats.

2. Feed kitty near the front of the carrier to help her associate it with food.

3. Spray Felaway (a calming feline pheromone) on the blanket in the carrier to help with carrier anxiety and help relax kitty.  

Given time and patience, many cats will tolerate a trip to the office in the carrier.  If you need more suggestions, please ask us for more information or follow the following link below

Four interesting facts you may not have known about your pet's eyes

1. Dogs and cats eye glow green (or yellow) at night when light strikes the back of their eye.  A special reflective layer in the back of the eye (the tapetum lucidum) reflects back any light that enters the eye.  When this happens at night, it enhances your dog or cats ability to see in the dark.

2. The back of the eye (the retina) is the only place in the body that blood vessels can be directly observed. 

3. Pets have a third eyelid (the nictitans) that helps protect their eyes from injury.  This third eyelid is the pink membrane that you may notice in the inner corner of your pet’s eyes when they are tired or if their eye is irritated. The third eyelid is more noticeable in St. Bernards and coon hounds

4. Dogs have poor near vision, but are excellent when it comes to detecting movement in the distance.

The French Bulldog

All you need is a lap and a sense of humor to own a French bulldog.  This small, bat-eared, jester was originally bred in England to keep rats away from Lace makers in the 18th century.  They eventually “crossed the pond” and became the rage for French women to keep on their laps.  Frenchies, as they are fondly referred to by their owners, are smart, sometimes stubborn dogs with a mischievous streak.  They are usually quite loyal and will protect their families. 

Frenchies have cute faces with an adorable short nose.  Because of this facial structure, they are a “brachycephalic” breed and are prone to snorting and snoring.  Their short noses also make it harder for them to stay cool on hot days. To prevent hyperthermia (over heating), Frenchies should be kept indoors in air-conditioning on hot summer days and NEVER left in a car on a hot day, even for a short time. 

Their short legs and heavy heads have led some to believe that Frenchies cannot swim and will drown in a pool.  This is not quite true.  A Frenchie can swim, but is not a good swimmer and can become exhausted trying.    For this reason, they should always be closely supervised around water.  A doggy life preserver is also a good idea!

French bulldogs are perfectly suited to live in an apartment.  They usually do not bark excessively and require just a few short walks a day to keep them in shape.  Their short hair coats shed very little as an added bonus.

Frenchies are growing in popularity.  Martha Stewart has two French bulldogs, Francesca and Sharky, and they made the AKC’s top 20 popular breeds list in 2013. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can affect pets too!

IBD can affect any part of a dog or cat's digestive system, from the stomach to the large intestine (colon).  The disease occurs when something stimulates the immune system and results in inflammation and thickening of the walls of the digestive system organs. This causes in a disruption of passage of food thru the digestive system resulting in one or more of the following symptoms: frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, and eventual malnutrition. 

There are many potential causes of IBD.  A pet may begin to react to something in his/her food or even the bacteria living the digestive system.

Diagnosis of IBD can be difficult.  Routine blood tests and fecal exams are often completely normal, especially early in the course of the disease.  Abdominal ultrasound can sometimes reveal the thickening of the bowel, but a biopsy of the bowel is the only way to definitely diagnosis IBD.

Treatment is aimed at minimizing the inflammation of the bowel.  A prescription hypoallergenic diet (such as Hills z/d or Purina’s H/A) is a hallmark of treatment.  Depending on the severity of the disease, immune system suppressing medications such as Prednisolone (or stronger drugs) are used reduce the inflammation.  Antibiotic treatment is also frequently needed as well as other medications.   Treatment is usually for the rest of the pet’s life.

It is especially important to treat cats with IBD as the chronic inflammation may turn into intestinal lymphosarcoma, a type of intestinal cancer.

Fortunately, most pets with IBD respond very well to proper treatment, especially when the disease is caught early.

 

Can you judge a cat by it's color

Is it possible to predict a feline’s personality based on the color of his/her coat?

From a recent pole on our  Facebook page, it would seem that orange tabbies and black cats are the friendliest felines. This seems to hold true for most discussions about cat color and friendliness. There have been a few scientific studies done to determine if there really is a correlation between coat color and how friendly a cat is.  To date, however, there is no solid proof that there is a link between color and personality.  One study did show that many people do have preconceived ideas about particular coat colors that result in assumptions about the behavior of the cat based solely on its color. An example of this is “black cat syndrome” which results in a fear of black cats by some because of their association with bad luck and scary things.  Tortoiseshell cats are associated with a feisty “torti-attitude”.  These preconceived ideas often lead to adoption choices being based on a cat’s color rather than the cat’s actual personality.   

It appears that like a book, you can’t judge a cat by its cover either.

 

 

When good cells go bad-- Mast Cell Tumor

Mast cells are immune system cells that are normally found in the skin, respiratory system and digestive system of both dogs and cats.  These cells produce chemicals, such as histamine, that play a role in inflammation.  These chemicals are stored in little packages in the cells known as “granules”.  When the chemicals are needed by the body, the cell releases them by a process known as “de-granulation”. This process results in an itchy, red bump when as a pet reacts to something like the bite of flea or mosquito. Usually Mast Cells quietly perform their function in the body without causing any problems.  Sometimes, for reasons that are not understood, these tiny cells begin to divide abnormally fast and form tumors – Mast Cell Tumors (MCTs)

MCTs usually form in the skin or just under the skin.  They can appear suddenly and grow rapidly.  Up to 20% of skin tumors in dogs are MCTs.  This tumor can occur in cats, but less frequently.  While most MCTs remain in the skin, some can spread to the spleen, lymph nodes, or other organs. Boxers, Boston terriers, bulldogs and retrievers have a higher risk of MCT than other dog breeds.

New skin lumps in dogs and cats are often aspirated with a needle to collect a small sample of cells.  Under microscope, MCTs reveal a large number of round mast cells with many granules that stain purplish-blue (you can see these in the photo). Treatment always involves surgical removal and biopsy.  Additionally, medications, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may also be necessary to treat MCT. 

Fortunately, most dogs and cats with MCT can live a happy normal life with appropriate treatment.  Always have a newly detected lump checked as soon as possible to ensure that it can be evaluated promptly. 

 

What do Peaches and Raspberry jam have in common?

Peaches recently developed HGE (pronounced “HIJ-gee”). HGE is an acronym for “Hemorrhagic GastroEnteritis”.  The name of this disease literally means inflammation of the stomach and intestines that results in bleeding into the bowels. The primary symptom is sudden onset of alarming “raspberry jam-like” bloody diarrhea. Dogs with HGE will often vomit as well.  The fluid loss caused by the diarrhea and vomiting results in dehydration and an abnormally high red blood cell count.  The exact cause of the disease usually cannot be determined, but bacterial toxins are believed to play a prominent roll.

Intravenous fluids, antibiotics and anti-vomiting medications are all needed to successfully treat this potentially life-threatening disease.  X-rays may be taken to rule out a foreign body or obstruction (especially in high risk breeds like retrievers). Fortunately with prompt treatment Peaches made a full recovery. 

It's that time again! Tick Season is here...

The brutal temperatures have kept the ticks at bay for most of the winter. As we look forward to warmer temperatures, we also have to look forward to the re-emergence of these creepy crawlers.  Which of the following statements are true about ticks and Lyme disease and which are false?  (Answers are below)

  1. Ticks hitch a ride on pets by jumping on them from grass and bushes.  T/F
  2. Lyme disease infections usually last for 6 months after which time, the body clears the infection. T/F
  3. Once you or your pet are infected by Lyme disease, you cannot be re-infected.  T/F
  4. Most ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and can transmit the disease. T/F
  5. Cats contract Lyme disease more often than dogs. T/F

Answers:

1. False:  Unlike fleas, ticks do not have the ability to jump on to their hosts.  They climb out to the edge of a blade of grass or leaf on a bush.  They have tiny claws on the first set of legs that grab onto a pet or person as we pass by.

2 .False:  Lyme disease infections are for life.  It is very unusual for a person or pet to test negative for Lyme once infected.

3. False:  Having Lyme disease does not protect you from being infected again!  The bacteria that causes the disease Hides from the body’s immune system so well that protective antibodies cannot be produced.  Lyme vaccination does result in protective antibodies and can help reduce the risk of infection in at risk pets. (There currently no vaccine available for people).

4. False:  Although it can vary from region to region, most deer ticks do not carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.  Only Deer tick have been proven to carry and transmit disease.  Lyme disease is only ONE of many diseases ticks can carry and transmit! 

5. False:  Cats seem to have a natural immunity to Lyme disease and are rarely infected.  Horses are very susceptible to Lyme disease and are often infected.

Rabies Treatment Breakthrough

Mushroom Toxicity

The recent, much needed, rain has really helped to green up Berks county lawns again.  Unfortunately, more than just the grass has started to grow.  The moisture has caused mushrooms to appear as well.  Dogs, like people, can find these fungi irresistibly tasty. Although most types of mushrooms cause little or no problems if eaten, there are a few that can result in severe illness or even death.  The “death cap” mushroom (Amanita phalloides), which is responsible for most human and canine fatalities is pictured . Different stages of development of the mushroom are shown. 

Poisonous Amanita mushrooms initially cause severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, belly pain, and fever within 10-24 hours of ingestion.  Three to four days later, liver and/or kidney failure and death can occur.

 If you catch your pet nibbling on a mushroom, it is important to seek veterinary help immediately.  If possible, wrap up one of the mushrooms in a damp paper towel (Do not place in a plastic bag) and bring along with your pet.  If the mushroom is suspected to be toxic, rapid treatment is essential.

Rizzo's Microchip helped reunite her with her owners after a 23 day adventure.

Rizzo is a shy 15 month old German Shepard. She and her brother Zuko, an 11 month old German Shepard mix, were on vacation with their family in Maryland. Both Zuko and Rizzo love to run and frolic on the beach. It was during one of these beach excursions that Rizzo’s great adventure began when Zuko accidently slammed into his owner's knee while playing.

Zuko was barely phased, but his owner ended up at the hospital.. Another family member volunteered to take care of these two exuberant pups while their mom was at the hospital. During one of their walks, Rizzo slipped her collar and ran off. Her owners were heartbroken and immediately set out to find her using social media and by talking to everyone they could that lived in the area. She was missing for 23 days.

A Good Samaritan was able to confine her in their fenced in yard. Eventually Rizzo warmed up to them enough that they were able to take her to local humane society where she was scanned for a microchip. Both Rizzo and Zuko had been microchipped as puppies so the humane society was able to immediately identify Rizzo and her owners. We confirmed Rizzo’s microchip number and her owner’s identity. The next day her relieved owners drove back to Maryland and were reunited with a very happy Rizzo. Other than a few ticks, Rizzo was no worse for the wear when she was examined by Dr. Mike.

Welcome Home Rizzo!

Before you give your dog another gob of peanut butter….. Check the label for Xylitol!

The Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo) has real healing power!

How often should I bath my pet?

“How often should I bath my pet?” is a common question we hear.  The answer is: as often as needed.

This answer may seem vague, but every pet’s bathing needs are different.  

Cats are fastidious groomers and rarely require bathing.  This is a good thing because bathing a cat can be VERY traumatizing for both kitty and his/her owner! 

Most normal dogs do require periodic bathing to minimize doggy odor or to remove “ode-de-la-poo” when they find something “interesting” to roll in.  Generally speaking, dogs who are bathed more frequently than once or twice a month should be bathed with a gentle moisturizing shampoo.  Ideally a dog shampoo should be used.  Avoid vigorous drying or combing after the bath as this may damage the protective barrier of your dog’s skin.  This in turn may result in skin irritation or even skin infection. 

Dogs with skin diseases like allergies or skin infections may require very frequent bathing and medicated shampoo.

Fasten Your Seat Belts!

Do you seat belt your pet when he/she rides with you in the car?  Human must be seat belted in before you set off…but what about your furry family members?  More and more pet parents are securing their pets with a safety harness and seat belt and some states even have laws that require it. Although this sounds like a great way to keep everyone safe, recent tests with doggie crash test dummies have shown that many harnesses fail to restrain pets properly.  A recent story on NBC’s TODAY Show (See link below) showed just how badly some of the harnesses failed.  Fortunately there are some harnesses that did properly restrain pets.  According to these crash tests, the safest harnesses and travel carriers were:

  • Sleepypod Clickit Utility
  • Gunner Kennel G1 Intermediate w/Strength Rated Anchor Straps
  • Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock.
  • PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with ISOFIX-Latch Connection

When pets do go for a cruise in the car, they should always be kept in the back seat.  This prevents them from distracting their human chauffeurs and prevents them from being injured should the front air bag deploy. Some dogs, like Ziva (pictured here in the drivers seat), seem to have trouble remembering this rule.

Ride on!

 

Why is Lucy Limping?

Lucy is a 7 year old, 90 pound, lab/rottie mix. She went outside and came back in limping heavily on her right hind leg about one week before she came for an office visit.  Her owner has noticed that Lucy holds her right leg up sometimes when she is walking.  When she is standing, she will just barely touch her toes to the ground.  Her appetite has remained very good but she is not as active as she was before she started to limp. 

When she was examined, she was her normal happy self until her right knee (stifle) is examined.  She became uncomfortable and tried to hold her leg stiff as her knee was bent and examined.  When compared to her left knee, her right knee was noticeably swollen, especially on the inside.  Her right thigh muscles are smaller (atrophied) than her left thigh muscles. 

She was sedated so that x-rays of her knee and hips could be taken. The x-rays showed increased fluid in her knee joint as well as some arthritis (see picture).  An abnormal motion, referred to as drawer, was noted when her knee was more closely examined while she was relaxed. Lucy had torn her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL)!  This is a very common problem in large, stocky dogs like Rottweilers, labs, and pit bulls.  Lucy’s build and excess weight increased her risk considerably.  The noticeable loss of muscle after just one week of limping indicated that she had been favoring her right leg ever so slightly for a longer period of time than her owner realized.

After she had surgery to stabilize her knee joint, her limp slowly improved.  Her knee did develop more arthritis as time went on but she did very well, especially after she lost 15 pounds.

Feline Leukemia Virus: Why Rosie wasn’t rosy.

Rosie, an 8 month old indoor kitten, was normally a very active bundle of energy.  Since being rescued by her owner as a young kitten, she has enjoyed playing with her 4 year old sister cat.  She had become unusually quiet suddenly and just wasn’t her normal self.  She was breathing faster and heavier than normal.  Her gums should have been a rosy shade of pink, but were very pale, almost white.  The color of her gums indicated she had a very low red blood cell count and was severely anemic. Her appetite was decreased, but she was still eating.

Because of her age, history (anemia, being adopted, and sudden onset of symptoms) she was immediately tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV).  Unfortunately she tested positive for this awful disease.

Feline Leukemia Virus is an incurable viral disease that infects cats.  The virus is spread from cat to cat thru saliva (grooming, sharing food and water bowls), blood (fighting) or urine.  Once infected, approximately many cats will clear the virus and never become sick, some will carry the virus and become ill later in life, and some of the cats will become ill within months of contracting disease. Young kittens are especially susceptible to FeLV and can contract it from their mothers. The virus can cause a variety of symptoms including anemia, cancer (lymphoma), or immunosuppression.  Sadly, there is no effective treatment for this virus and it will result in the death of persistently infected cats

Because there is no treatment for FeLV, prevention is key.  All cats and kittens should be tested for the disease before being introduced to another cat.  If a seemingly healthy cat tests positive, he/she must be kept from coming in contact with any other cat(s) and re-tested 4-8 weeks later.  If an ill cat tests positive for the virus, euthanasia is often the only option.

There is a vaccine available to protect at risk cats against FeLV.  Any kitten or cat that goes outside is potentially at risk of exposure to the virus and should receive the vaccine.  

Tug's new Look

This handsome English bulldog is Tug.  He had an abnormality of his eyelids that caused his upper and lower eyelids to curl inwardly (entropion).  This resulted in his eyelashes rubbing on his cornea (the sensitive clear part of the eye) every time he tried to blink.  When Dr. Mike first saw him, Tug was unable to open his eyes and constantly squinted to lessen the discomfort. This sweet puppy was fearful of having anyone near his eyes because they were so uncomfortable.   Tug needed corrective surgery as soon as possible.

During Tug’s surgery, Dr. Mike delicately removed the excessive tissue from both the upper and lower eyelids.  This caused Tug’s remaining eyelids to roll back out to their normal position and finally kept his eye lashes away from his eyes.

The results of Tugs surgery were incredible.  As you can see from Tugs photo with Christina (taken just 10 days after surgery) his eyes are open and he is very happy and very comfortable. 

Love your new look Tug!   

 

What is a Biofilm (and what does it have to do with your pets teeth)?

A biofilm refers to a complex groups of microorganism colonies (like bacteria or algae) that grow on a surface that is always wet or moist.  The microorganisms secrete a variety of compounds that allow them to stick to the surface and continue to increase in numbers.  As the biofilm develops the surface it is growing on becomes slimy. 

When this slimy film forms in our pets’ mouths, we call it plaque.  If plaque is not removed, it begins to harden as it is exposed to minerals in saliva and become tartar (also referred to as calculus).  Thru all of this process, the bacteria thrive and continue to secrete a multitude of substances that irritate the gums (gingivitis).  Eventually the gums and bone surrounding the affected teeth become infected and begin to recede (periodontitis).  Left untreated, this bone loss will result in tooth loss (see x-ray above).  As the disease process worsens, so does your pet’s breath.

The best way to prevent the biofilm from causing dental disease is to disrupt and remove the bacteria with daily brushing.  Because nobody can brush a pet’s teeth perfectly every time, regular dental cleanings and evaluations are necessary to ensure their health, and their breath, remain good.

Ring worm...Its not a worm at all!

Pan,a 4 month old kitten who was recently adopted from a farm, is an especially friendly kitten and is loved by everyone in the family, especially the children.  He even gets along with the family dog! He seems as healthy as he is cute but he has a small circular area of hair loss on his upper right lip.  This area of hair loss was ring worm. 

Ringworm is not a worm at all but rather a fungus that grows in hair, skin, and/or nails.  A fungal culture is necessary to positively diagnosis this disease. Some species of ringworm fluoresce (glow) under a black light.  The photo shows this phenomenon.  Ringworm is contagious to humans (especially children) as well as other pets. 

Treatment is intense and involves a combination of dips (like lime sulfur), oral medication and environmental control measures (vacuuming, cleaning with appropriate disinfectants and laundering clothing and bedding).  Pan will be considered contagious until he has two negative fungal cultures while being treated.  It may take a few months, but this cute kitten should make a complete recovery.

Dental disease - Is your pet's breath telling you something?

Every single pet will develop signs of dental disease during their lifetime.  Serious Dental disease can be prevented with a combination of tooth brushing at home, dental treats or diets, and regular dental cleanings.  Dental disease ranges from (in increasing severity) simple plaque accumulation->Gingivitis-> periodontal disease->pyorrhea (bone infection and loss of teeth).

Once dental disease has reached the stage of gingivitis, it becomes increasingly painful as it progresses.  Pets hide the pain from dental disease but they cannot hide the tell tail halitosis (bad breath) that accompanies severe dental disease.  This bad smell often leads to less interactions with the pet’s owner which results in emotional distress for the pet!

Your pet’s breath may be telling you something. Have your pets teeth examined right away if you notice a change in the smell of his/her breath.  Prevention and early treatment can save your pet from pain and will keep him/her happy and healthy longer. 

Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital:

Where big city medicine and surgery meet small town customer service and value.