Tip-Toe Through the Tulips: Enjoying Spring With Pet Safety in Mind

pet safetyAh, there’s nothing quite like spring with its beautiful new blossoms, crisp smell of grass, and all the spring break vacation opportunities. What’s not to love?! Spring is also a great time to get bored pets back outside for some outdoor fun.

With this in mind, spring pet safety is a must. Keep reading to learn more about how to prepare for the season ahead with your furry pal.


Bugs Don’t Take a Break: Why Year-Round Parasite Prevention is a Must

parasite preventionFleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other creepy crawlies…a summer problem, right? Wrong. Contrary to popular belief, parasites continue to thrive year-round, even when the weather turns brisk. Despite the occasional chilly temperatures, these formidable foes continue to wreak havoc on our pets (and sometimes on us).

While it may be tempting to save a few bucks on parasite control, there are plenty of good reasons parasite prevention should be a year-round investment. Your friends at Animal Medical Hospital are here to tell you why!


Lifetime Health With Routine Pet Wellness Exams

pet wellness examsThe needs of a bouncy, playful, young animal are very different from an aging one, right? That’s why there are age-appropriate food options and developmentally-appropriate activities. Similarly, pet wellness exams are designed to follow – and support – an animal’s path throughout life. Their aim is to cover all relevant topics at hand, prevent disease, and nurture lifelong health and wellbeing.


How Do You Know? Recognizing and Dealing With a Pet Emergency

pet emergencyAnimals display signs of illness or injury in a variety of ways. Likewise, sometimes a pet exhibits dangerous symptoms only for them to clear up within a couple of hours. As a responsible pet owner, how do you know whether to “wait it out” or to seek help for a pet emergency? Although it can be a little daunting trying to figure out, things are made clearer when you know what to look for and have a plan.


How to Keep Your Pet Safe on Valentine’s Day

Dr. Sandy Tisdelle

Chocolates and flowers and candles, Oh My! I’ve always though Valentine’s Day was a sneaky little holiday.  When you’re single it creeps past you quietly then wags its tail in your face reminding you there is one less holiday to be had for us independent folk.  Then, when you’re in a relationship, it impresses upon you that even though you may have just picked out the perfect Christmas gift for your honey and splurged a little too much, now it’s time to do it again.  It’s sneaky for our pets too.  Most of us with pets have been reminded to be careful about candy on Halloween, fattening foods at Thanksgiving, and sweets and tinsel at Christmas; but what about Valentine’s Day?  What hidden dangers might be in your house?


  • Chocolate:

    Valentine's Pet Safety

    Well, that’s a given.  I better not see a Valentine ’s Day without chocolate.  Chocolate is weight and dose dependent in dogs.  Smaller dogs need less chocolate to get a toxic dose than large dogs.  Also, darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate because it is all about the percent of cocoa.  Not all chocolate ingestion is going to result in a toxic dose but you will want to call your vet or animal poison control to be sure.  Better yet, just remember to keep it out of your fur babies reach. 

  • Flowers:

    Valentine's Pet Safety

    “Just Say No to Lilies”, would read my cat mom bumper sticker if I ever made one. Every day I look at my cat and wonder what it is in her cat brain that makes her taste each and every plant that comes into my house. I’ll never know the answer but at least I have someone else to blame for my black thumb. While lilies may not be a common flower to give on Valentine’s Day they are highly toxic to cats and can result in death from kidney failure.  Outside of lilies, there are many other flowers that may cause gastrointestinal issues in cats and dogs. You can find a complete list from the ASPCA here. While they may not be as toxic as lilies, it is still recommended to keep your cat from eating them.

  • Candles and Essential Oils:

    Valentine's Pet Safety

    Curious cat + open flame = vet visit. Burnt whiskers may give your cat character but it’s a sure sign your cat is curious and fearless.  Unattended candles left in your cat’s reach could be hazardous.  Kittens especially will be curious about flames and end up with lopsided whiskers.  In addition, scented candles and certain essential oils can be irritating to your cat’s respiratory system.  Do not apply essential oils to your pets directly without asking your veterinarian first.  Be sure to eliminate all flames and diffusers from the room when you leave so as not to expose the pets for a prolonged period of time.

To be real, if you’re like me and your favorite valentine is your four legged valentine, keep a few things in mind when spoiling your special someone.   Your cat and/or dog is likely not accustomed to eating rich foods or human foods.  Don’t overdo it on the treats.  Give your pup a special day and spend it outside at a dog park, hiking, or just sun bathing.  Take some extra time and play with your cat or just snuggle (it’s hard to predict their mood).   They even make edible cat plants you can buy now!  Let’s face it, our pets are the “people” in our lives that don’t need gifts and just want our time and love.  Happy cuddles.


Valentine's Day Safety


posted in:  Uncategorized

How Children Should Interact with Dogs!

Dr. Jillian Richter

children dogs

Dr. Richter and her first dog, Sandi circa 1992

Children can often be the recipients of serious and sometimes life threatening bites from dogs and cats. Without realizing it, children may be provoking the animal with their body language and actions! It is important to teach children the proper way to approach and interact with animals at a young age to keep both our furry friends and our kids safe.


How should my child approach a dog?children dogs


  1. ASK: It is imperative to teach children to ask before ever touching a dog. Not all animals being walked on the street are friendly!


  1. TURN YOUR BODY TO THE SIDE: By not directly facing the dog, the child is exhibiting non-threatening body language.


  1. OFFER THE BACK OF YOUR HAND: Make sure the child is not forcing his or her hand into the mouth of the dog! Allow the dog to make the decision to come up and sniff or remain where he/she is.


  1. NO EYE CONTACT: Dogs perceive eye contact differently than humans, so it is important for children not to look directly into their eyes.


  1. PET UNDER THE CHIN OR CHEST: Patting the head can seem like a threatening motion.


Dog Body Language: helpful hints when trying to determine if that pet wants to interact


But that dog looks friendly!

children dogsA wagging dog tail can indicate happiness, but dogs also wag their tails for other reasons! Use caution if the pet is exhibiting other behaviors below in addition to wagging his/her tail.  



But that dog has always been friendly!

children dogsJust because a dog has been friendly in the past doesn’t mean he is always safe to be around! According to one study, 66% of bites towards children were from a first time offender.



But that dog is just tired!

children dogsYawning can be a sign of stress in our furry friends!




But that dog is giving kisses!

children dogsLip licking is another sign of stress, and can be commonly confused for giving “kisses.”




But really, that dog is kissing my child’s face!

children dogsGiving “kisses” can be seen as a displacement behavior, or a behavior performed due to a perceived stressful situation.





Children should always be supervised around animals, however there are certain scenarios that put children at a higher risk:

  • Resource Guarding: Many bites obtained by children were in relation to an animal “guarding” their food or toys. Be sure to NEVER allow children to take something from a dog or leave children alone with food nearby.
  • Pain: If a dog is in pain, its innate response is to protect itself. The animal might feel threatened, cannot escape, and therefore feel trapped. This can lead to defending themselves in the manner of a bite. This can be seen in animals that just recently had a surgery or have a chronic and painful medical problem (such as osteoarthritis). This can also be applied to children chasing dogs, pulling their tails, or following them around when they are trying to find a safe spot.


It’s important to remember that the human animal bond is an essential aspect to the lives of children. Always supervise your children when they are interacting with pets; despite our best effort, our furry friends don’t always give us warning signs. This blog is meant to enhance the human animal bond by promoting safe interactions between dogs and kids, not for children to avoid animals!



Sources and photos:

Dr. Sophia Yin

Chapman, Simon et al. “Preventing Dog Bites in Children: Randomised Controlled Trial of an Educational Intervention.” BMJ : British Medical Journal 320.7248 (2000): 1512–1513. Print.

Davis, Aaron L. et al. “Dog Bite Risk: An Assessment of Child Temperament and Child-Dog Interactions.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9.8 (2012): 3002–3013. PMC. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

Reisner, Ilana R, Frances S Shofer, and Michael L Nance. “Behavioral Assessment of Child‐directed Canine Aggression.” Injury Prevention 13.5 (2007): 348–351. PMC. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.


Google Images, Dr. Sophia Yin’s handouts, and personal photo

tags:     |  
posted in:  Pet Safety

How to Celebrate the Holidays with your Pets

Dr. Schoenig

With the holiday season coming up, we all look forward to spending time with our loved ones- including our furry ones!  The holidays can be a stressful time for your pets, with travel, out-of-town guests, and their normal routine being changed, so be sure to take some time to show your fur kids some holiday love! Need ideas of how to include your pet in your holiday celebrations?  Read below!

ThanksgivingPet Holidays

  • Before the food marathon that is the Thanksgiving holiday, get out on the streets or the trail with your family for some exercise to make some room for that extra slice of pie! While the official Charlotte South Park race does not allow pets due to the crowds, don’t let that stop your pup from getting his or her extra energy out.  Whether you do a long run or even just a short walk in the neighborhood (don’t push your pup to do more exercise than he or she is used to; we don’t want to cause injuries and necessitate a trip to the emergency vet on Thanksgiving!), the exercise and fresh air is a great way to start the day and your dogs will love the opportunity to spend some extra time with you!
  • For our feline friends who tend to be a little less leash-friendly, providing them with a new toy to run around with may be more up their alley. The laser pointer is a great way to get them to run around too, and can provide family entertainment while you and your family rest and digest after the big meal!



Who doesn’t love Christmas baked goodies?  Christmas cookies aren’t just for the mailman.  Take some time to bake some extra treats for your furry kids.  Bonus points for using a dog bone or fish shaped cookie cutter to make them even more enticing!

Dog Christmas Cookies

  • Ingredients
    • 5 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 tbsp peanut butter
    • 2 eggs
    • ¾ cup pumpkin pureePet Holidays
    • 1 tbsp water
  • Directions
    • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until dough can be formed. Add more water in small increments if needed
    • Roll out dough on a well-floured surface until about ½” thick. Cut out shapes and place on a cookie sheet
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until slightly browned

Cat Christmas Treats

  • Ingredients
    • 1 can of tuna
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 tbsp catnip
  • Directions
    • Mix ingredients until a thick mixture forms
    • Form 1/4” size balls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
    • Bake 9-12 minutes at 350. Let cool before snack time


New Years’

When getting together your resolutions for the new year, consider making a resolution for your pet as well to keep them happy and healthy.  Some considerations…Pet Holidays

  • Daily dental care – brushing, chews, treats. Oral health can have effects on your pet’s systemic health, as well, especially their heart!
  • Regular exercise – a 10 minute walk a day can give your personal “get healthy” resolution a boost, and that time the two of you spend together can help make your bond even stronger
  • Regular checkups with your veterinarian – just like we need to check in with our doctors every year, your fluffy child should be seen at least once (twice for our seniors) a year for a full wellness checkup. Resolve to keep up with their regular wellness visits, which may include routine bloodwork to be proactive about catching diseases early!


tags:     |  
posted in:  Pet Food  |  Uncategorized

What Should I Feed My Pet?

Dr. Amanda Slusky

The decision of which pet food to buy is a complex one, but remember, your veterinarian is always there to answer questions about what diet, and hPet Foodow much, is best for your pet. There are many factors that goes into their recommendation:


  1. Age: Age plays a huge role in determining what is the best food for your pet.
  • All puppies and kittens should be fed diets specifically developed for “growth”. Why? These little guys have greater nutrient requirements since they have so much growing to do!


  • Similarly, any dogs that are breeding, pregnant, or nursing, also have greater energy and nutrient requirements than an adult dog not used for reproduction.


  • How can you tell what life stage a food is labeled for? By law, every bag of food sold within the United States has something called an AAFCO statement. AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and they determine the nutritional requirements of animals. The AAFCO statement will say if the food meets nutritional levels for growth (puppies and kittens), maintenance (adult dogs), or all life stages (growth, reproduction, and maintenance).AAFCO Pet Food


  • It is also important to differentiate between foods that are “complete and balanced” from foods that are for “intermittent” or “supplemental feeding”. Pet foods that are complete and balanced have labels similar to those above and contain all your pets nutritional needs. Foods that are designed to be fed intermittently do not meet your pets nutritional needs and are meant to compliment a more balanced food. A complete and balanced diet should make up 90% of what your pet eats, with the remaining 10% coming from treats, or snacks for intermittent feeding.


  1. Species/Breed: All species have different nutrient requirements.
  • For example, did you know that cat foods are fortified with a nutrient called Taurine, because deficiencies of this nutrient can cause heaPet Foodrt disease in cats? That is just one reason why it is so important to feed a food specifically designed for your pet’s species.


  • Even within species, different breeds of dogs have different requirements. For example, large breed puppies need lower amounts of phosphorus and calcium in their diet, otherwise they can grow too quickly and have orthopedic problems.


  • There are certain companies that make diets specifically formulated for different dog breeds. While not all breeds are represented, this is certainly a choice you can make for your pet.


  1. Lifestyle: The amount of food to feed varies based on the lifestyle of your individual pet.
  • Does your dog lay on the couch all day while you are at work? Does your cat keep you up all night, racing up and down the hallway? The level of activity of your pet may mean printed feeding recommendations on the side of the bag do not apply. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s body weight to make sure the amount you are feeding is correct for your pet.

Measuring Pet Food

  • It is recommended to measure how much you feed your pet with either an 8-ounce measuring cup, or a gram scale, to make sure you are not over-feeding or under-feeding your pet.


  1. Home Environment: Are there children, or immune-compromised family-members in your home?
  • Feeding pets a raw diet has the same inherent risk for food-borne illness that it does in people. Dogs and cats are susceptible to food poisoning from Salmonella, Campylobacter, and other pathogens just like people are.Pet Food


  •  If there are children who may play in/near your pet’s food bowl, or if there are immune-suppressed people in the home who interact with a pet fed a raw diet, they are more at risk for these type of infections as well.


  1. Your Preferences: Are you someone who enjoys cooking for your pet?

In this case, maybe a commercial diet is not for you. A board-certified veterinary nutritionist can prepare a complete and balanced home-made diet, made specifically for you. See your veterinarian for recommendations if this is something you are interested in.


  1. Illness: The above pet food recommendations hold true for healthy pets.

If your pet has any kind of illness, including suspected food allergies, your veterinarian may recommend a specific therapeutic diet, meaning it requires a prescription. These diets are specially formulated to best promote the health of pets whose nutritional requirements may differ.


Keep these factors in mind, and don’t be shy about bringing up your nutrition questions at your pet’s next wellness appointment! We would love to help answer your questions!


For additional information, check out the AAFCO website: http://talkspetfood.aafco.org/readinglabels#adequacy



  1. http://rvcoutdoors.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/dog-food-pet-eating.jpg
  2. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1LoUS1pEnBI/T0fhqGwj6QI/AAAAAAAAAOA/ON8vKMxr2HU/s1600/2cnd%2Bset.png
  3. http://www.adoptingakitten.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/shutterstock_93159637.jpg
  4. http://i00.i.aliimg.com/wsphoto/v0/871525228/-font-b-Super-b-font-font-b-pet-b-font-supplies-dog-bowl-water-basin.jpg
  5. https://i1.wp.com/www.parent.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Hey-Go-eat-you-own-food-000043049734_Medium.jpg?fit=1696%2C1132&ssl=1
tags:     |    |  
posted in:  Pet Nutrition

How to Best Transport your Cat to the Vet

Dr. Bridget Andersen

How you transport your cat to the vet matters. We at Animal Medical Hospital are working to become a certified “Fear Free” hospital.   The term “Fear Free” refers to a movement within veterinary medicine that addresses the emotional welfare of our patients, and the people that love them.  This means that we are making adjustments to our lobby, exam room visits, and hospitalized stays in order to decrease fear, anxiety, and stress.  The first step to a less stressful visit to the veterinarian starts with a positive traveling experience.


  1. Purchase a carrier

    1. Select a hard sided carrier that has a top opening and a front opening.
    2. Make sure that the entire top portion of the carrier can be easily removed so that your cat can remain in the bottom portion of the carrier during the exam for security.  Clasps are preferred over screws because they take less time.
    3. The carrier should be big enough for your cat to stand and turn around but small enough to make your cat feel secure.
  2. Acclimating your cat to the carrier

    1. Keep the carrier in your cat’s environment lifelong so that it is familiar and comforting rather than an evil contraption that only comes out of hiding once a year.  If your cat already has a negative association with the carrier, try taking the top off of the carrier to allow the cat to sleep in the bottom portion.  Choose a location that your cat already prefers- elevated positions are typically most desired.
    2. Feed your cat treats in the carrier or place their food dish near the carrier to help encourage a positive association.How to Transport your Cat
    3. Keep a clean towel or blanket with familiar scents (such as your own clothing) in the carrier.
    4. Consider spraying a cat appeasing pheromone such as Feliway in your cat’s carrier 15-20 minutes prior to placing your cat in the carrier.
    5. Ensure that the cat carrier is properly secured once your cat is insides (top and bottom are attached and the door is properly closed)!
  3. Prepare your vehicle

    1. Play calming music or make the car as quiet as possible.
    2. Place your cat in a carrier on the floor behind the passenger seat.
      1. Unrestrained pets can get become stressed from slipping on the seats, injured if thrown around the car, and lost in the event of an automobile accident.
  4. Carrying your cat’s carrier

    1. Carry the carrier from the bottom rather from the handle.  This will reduce swinging and allow your cat to feel more secure.
    2. Cover the carrier with a towel or blanket when in the lobby – AMH will provide a pheromone scented towel to use in the lobby if needed
    3. Do not place the carrier on the floor of the lobby.  Cats feel more secure when up high, so place the carrier on your lap or on a table.
  5. When returning home

    1. If you are returning your cat to a multi-cat household, be mindful that your cat will smell like the hospital and may not be well accepted by his or her housemates at home.  Give your cat some time alone upon returning and monitor the initial interactions for signs of stress or aggression.
  6. Call for advice!

    1. If your cat is hissing, swatting, or biting you when you attempt to put him or her in the carrier, stop and call for advice.  Your cat’s stress levels are likely too high to result in a positive exam room visit and it is often best to discuss the issue with a veterinary assistant and reschedule the appointment after making a better plan.
    2. In addition, if your cat displays signs of stress such as vocalizing, drooling, panting, or hissing during the car ride, let us know as soon as you arrive so that we can work on de-escalating the situation.

Your cat’s emotional welfare is important to us.  If you are struggling with any aspect with getting your cat to the vet, please call.  Your cat is unique, but anxiety about traveling is not.   Please do not hesitate to call and discuss your cats needs with us and we will come up with the most suitable plan for your cat.



tags:     |    |    |  

How to Best Transport your Dog to the Vet

Dr. Bridget Andersen

How you transport your dog to the vet matters. We at Animal Medical Hospital are working to become a certified “Fear Free” hospital.   The term “Fear Free” refers to a movement within veterinary medicine that addresses the emotional welfare of our patients, and the people that love them.  This means that we are making adjustments to our lobby, exam room visits, and hospitalized stays in order to decrease fear, anxiety, and stress.  The first step to a less stressful visit to the veterinarian starts with a positive traveling experience.

Fear Free

  1. Prepare the car

    1. Play calming music or music specifically made to soothe dogs (Through a Dog’s Ear, or Icalm).
    2. Make sure that your dog has secure footing in the car.  Use a non-slip mat.
    3. Fasten in your dog with a seatbelt or place inside a carrier to provide your pet with a secure place to rest and to prevent injury or loss during the event of an accident.
  2. Use pheromones

    Dog appeasing pheromones such as Adaptil can have a calming effect on your dog.  Pheromones can be purchased as a spray, collar, or wipe and can be sprayed in your car or to a bandana that your dog can wear around his/her neck.

  3. Praise

    1. Praise your dog for calm behavior.  Bring his or her favorite treats and use them in the car, lobby and the appointment.
    2. Avoid disciplining your dog for showing signs of stress such as barking, growling, hiding, or refusing to walk.
  4. dog transport


    1. Make sure your dog is always on a leash or is in a carrier.  Your pet’s behavior may be unpredictable at the veterinary office and leashes and carriers can prevent tragic loss and injury.
    2. In addition, maintaining control over your pet will also enable you to more quickly protect your dog from another dog in the event of an altercation.
  5. Sedation

    1. Your dog may need an anti-anxiety medication prior to coming into the hospital.  If he/she starts to show signs of fear, anxiety and stress (panting, drooling, pacing, barking) as soon as they get into the car, please call AMH to discuss premedication.
    2. A stressful car ride will never lead to a good vet visit.
  6. Reschedule

    Consider rescheduling your appointment if your dog is showing signs of fear, anxiety or stress (see chart below).

  7. Return home

    1. If your dog is returning to a multi-dog household, be aware that the housemates that remained at home may not be accepting of the dog that is returning to the house due to the strange hospital smells.
    2. Monitor all dogs carefully after returning until your are sure that they are accepting one another.
    3. If they seem on edge, separate the dog who went on the vet visit and rub him/her down with a garment or towel that has a familiar “home” smell.
    4. For dogs that have been sedated, keep them in a quiet room by themselves until they are completely awake.
  8. Don’t hesitate to call for advice if you are having difficulty transporting your dog!  704-334-4684  Fear Anxiety Stress Signs

tags:     |    |    |  
posted in:  Pet Safety