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:



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

What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Dr. Robert Brady

What Is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia is a painful disease that affects millions of dogs each year. It is an inherited developmental disorder of the hip joint and can lead to debilitating arthritis. Its progression can be influenced by environmental factors, such as weight gain, nutrition, and exercise. Certain breeds, especially larger ones, are particularly prone to hip dysplasia, but the disease can affect dogs of any size, breed or age.

Just as in humans, the hip joint in dogs is a “ball and socket” joint. In healthy dogs, the ball and socket fit together tightly. With dogGerman Shepherd Hip Dysplasias suffering from hip dysplasia, the joint is “loose,” and the ball part of the joint may even rotate partially out of its socket. In time, this looseness causes wear and tear on the joint cartilage, leading to osteoarthritis.

Canine hip dysplasia is an inherited problem, meaning that certain breeds or families of dogs may be prone to it. For this reason, when purchasing or adopting a puppy, especially if it is a breed that is known to be predisposed to hip dysplasia, make sure the parents (if known) do not have hip problems and that the puppy has been screened by a veterinarian for any early signs of the disease.

  • Canine hip dysplasia is a painful disease that can lead to debilitating arthritis.
  • It affects the “ball and socket” joint of the hip.
  • Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary problem that can be influenced by lifestyle factors. Certain breeds are predisposed.
  • Hip dysplasia can sometimes be treated medically, but surgery is often required.
  • Early recognition and a program of weight management and regular exercise can sometimes slow disease progression.

What Are the Signs?

The disease is painful and progressive and can affect one or both hips. It can affect very young dogs (many are less than 1 year old), but dogs of any age can be affected.

  • Decreased activity level
  • Difficulty risingHip Dysplasia Radiographs
  • Stiffness or lameness upon waking or after exercise
  • Running with a “bunny hopping” gait
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or getting in and out of vehicles
  • Discomfort in a sitting or lying position
  • Lameness
  • Muscle atrophy (wasting) in the hip area

Breeds that are most commonly affected include:

  • German shepherd
  • Labrador retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Great Dane
  • Golden retriever
  • Saint Bernard


A diagnosis of hip dysplasia is made based on clinical signs, physical examination, and radiographs (x-rays). Two systems have also been developed for screening and/or diagnosing dogs with hip dysplasia. Responsible breeders use at least one of these systems before including a dog in their breeding program:

  • The OFA System: The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) oversees a multibreed hip registry database. The OFA’s system, which has been in use since 1966, has developed a standardized evaluation system and radiographic test to help breeders and owners assess the hip health of prospective parents as well as any puppies they may produce. Dogs must be 24 months of age or older to be included in the registry.
  • The PennHIP System: The PennHIP system, which was developed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, has been in use since 1993. It uses a series of three radiographs to assess a “distraction index”—or DI—for each dog. The greater the DI, the higher the chances that the dog has or will develop hip dysplasia. The PennHIP analysis can be performed in puppies as young as 4 months of age.


Canine hip dysplasia is a serious, progressive disease, and better outcomes are typically achieved when it is diagnosed as early as possible and management and treatment measures are initiated promptly. Risk factors for the development of hip dysplasia in dogs that are genetically prone to the disease include obesity and overfeeding large-breed puppies during growth phases.

A proper diet that helps maintain an ideal weight, combined with a regular exercise plan, can help slow the progression of hip dysplasia for some dogs. In less severe cases, medical management can also include providing pain medications as needed under veterinary supervision as well as administering oral or injectable joint supplements or medications. “Comfort care,” such as keeping dogs out of cold weather and performing massage, therapeutic laser or physical therapy, can also help keep affected dogs comfortable and slow progression of the disease for as long as possible.

In severe cases, surgery may be indicated. Surgical options include total hip replacement surgery, reconstructing the hip joint, or removing the abnormal part of the joint and allowing the surrounding structures to form a “false joint” over time.

NOTE: Canine hip dysplasia can be an expensive disease to manage and/or treat. Before purchasing or adopting a puppy, be sure to find out the hip “status” of the parents. If that is not possible, be sure to have your puppy’s hips evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.


posted in:  Pet Health

Dog Flu H3N2: What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know About Canine Influenza

Dr. Kerri Blackburn



What is the H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus?

H3N2 is a very contagious influenza virus that infects dogs. It emerged in the United States in 2015 and has recently been reported in the Carolinas, having spread here from Florida and Georgia through the dog show circuit. Several dogs in multiple counties have become ill and we are beginning to see the illness spread from show dogs to pet dogs. All total this virus has effected thousands of dogs in more than 30 states. It has also effected a small amount of cats but there is NO evidence that it can infect people.


What does H3N2 cause?

H3N2 causes a respiratory infection which we refer to as dog flu. Common signs include sneezing, nasal discharge and coughing that can last for 2 weeks or more. Many dogs will also have a decreased appetite and fever. A small number of dogs will have a more severe form of the illness that leads to pneumonia and requires in hospital care.


How do dogs get dog flu?

The illness is spread by direct contact with infected dogs or contact with objects and surfaces that have also been contacted by infected dogs. Infected dogs can cough or sneeze and spread the virus up to 20 feet. The virus can survive in the environment for 24-48 hours, but can be easily killed with simple hand washing and laundering/washing objects.


What dogs are at risk?

Most dogs do NOT have a natural immunity to the virus. This means ANY dog can be infected if they are exposed. Dogs at most risk are those that participate in social activities with other dogs. Trips to pet stores, dog parks, grooming facilities, dog shows, boarding kennels and day care centers pose an increased risk.


What should I do if my dog is showing signs of dog flu?

Your dog may have a respiratory infection caused by other respiratory viruses and not the Canine flu virus. This can only be determined by a diagnostic test performed by a veterinarian. If you think your dog is showing signs of dog flu, here are the important steps to follow:

Call our office right away. Do NOT come to the clinic without calling first. If your dog does have dog flu coming into the clinic may put other pets at risk. Be sure to have the following information when you call:

  • Your dog’s symptoms and when they started
  • If your dog has been involved in any social behaviors
  • Whether there were any coughing dogs at said social activity

When you call, our veterinarians will assess your situation and provide specific instructions on when and how they will see your dog to minimize potential exposure to other pets. Based on your pet’s unique situation we may perform the test to confirm dog flu which involves swabbing the throat and nose and submitting these samples to an outside lab. For analysis.


What if my dog is diagnosed with dog flu?

Most dogs recover at home without any complications. Most dogs will recover within 2 weeks but they may remain infectious to other dogs for up to 1 month. It is very important that during that month they remain isolated from other pets.

A small number of dogs with a more severe form of the illness may develop pneumonia and will have labored breathing. Please call our clinic right away if you see these signs as your dog may need special hospitalized care to recover. Fortunately, death from dog flu is rare.


What can be done to PROTECT my dog from dog flu?Nobivac Canine Influenza Vaccine

The most important step is to vaccinate your dog against the canine influenza virus. We are strongly recommending that any dogs who participate in doggy social events, boarding, day care or grooming are vaccinated against this virus. The vaccine must be boostered 2-4 weeks after the first dose to ensure adequate response. Just like the human flu vaccine, getting vaccinated does NOT guarantee against infection, but it will make it less likely. Additionally, if your pet has been vaccinated and contracts the virus, the disease is likely to be milder and of shorter duration.

Knowledge and common sense are your best protection against dog flu. Please be aware of any outbreaks in your immediate community and take necessary precautions in avoiding doggy social events in the event of an outbreak.


*Adapted from “Pet Owners H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus Fact Sheet” (June 2017) retrieved from

tags:     |    |    |    |  
posted in:  Pet Health

How Smartphones Can Improve Your Veterinary Visit!

Dr. Sofia Gaviria

In this day in age, it’s inevitable; we are all glued to our smartphones, for better or for worse.  They are intended to make our lives easier, so let’s put ‘em to use!  Listed below are three ways that smartphones can help in the veterinary setting:

Assist in the Initial DiagnosisDog with Phone

As veterinarians, when we can’t hear directly from our patients about their issues, we rely heavily on history and our physical exam findings. Smartphones can help immensely, particularly when your pet is exhibiting clinical signs at home that may be difficult to describe once in our office. On countless occasions, I have had clients come in and tell me about how their pet is coughing or limping or having seizure-like activity, but the pet does not show any of these clinical signs during my physical exam. This can lead to frustration for you, the owner and for the veterinarian that wants to make a correct diagnosis. We need to know what’s going on so we can address it properly. This is where smartphones come in handy. Given how hard it is to describe many of these events the value of a video can’t be overstated. A video is worth more than a thousand words.

Another veterinarian once told me a story that beautifully exemplifies this point. A dog presented to her for evaluation of suspected seizures. Based off the owner’s description, it sounded like seizure activity: generalized shaking and odd behavior surrounding the event. The pet was started on anti-seizure medication, but the original events continued, so more medications were added. Again, the pet still had the episodes! When the doctor finally received a video of the episodes, it was discovered that the pet wasn’t having seizures at all, but was just desperately trying to scratch itself, shaking its whole body, rolling around on the bed, acting very oddly in an attempt to relieve the itch! The pet didn’t need any seizure medication, it needed anti-itch medication! The pet could have been treated more effectively and could have avoided unnecessary anti-seizure medication, if the doctor had a video to watch from the get go!

Assist in Tracking Progression

In addition to helping us form our initial diagnoses, they can also help us track progress during treatment. I love using smartphones for this as well. I do this a lot for my patients with skin disease or to track the healing of wounds, but there are many other uses.

Veterinarian with PhoneAssist in Organizing your Pet’s Records

Smartphones can also help us organize our lives- including pet medical records.  you always have access on the go. I love an app called Evernote; it’s free and easy.  Just take a picture of your pet’s records and put them into a separate folder that you have made on Evernote for your pet. That way if you ever find yourself in a situation in which you need access, you have everything handy and don’t have to recall when things were done. It might save your pet from unnecessary tests or vaccines!

So go ahead, take pictures and videos of your pet! We know you want to! Then, bust them out during your next appointment; your pet and your vet will thank you for it.


tags:     |    |  
posted in:  Pet Education

What Happens if My Pet Gets Bit by a Snake?

Dr. Ashley Gray

Spring is an exciting time of year where we start to come out of our winter hibernation mode and explore the great outdoors again. The weather starts to get beautiful as the flowers bloom, and we see an influx of wildlife in our backyards and parks. If you have your pets in a backyard, go to parks often, or hike in the mountains, you may come in contact with some critters that could cause harm to your pets. One of the most common injuries we see this time of year through our emergency department is snake bite wounds. Snakes are most active between March and October, which can pose a threat to your pets. The most common venomous snakes we see in the greater Charlotte region are Copperheads and certain types of Rattlesnakes.

            I would like to provide you with some tips to try to decrease the amount of snakes in your yard so that you can help keep your pets safe at home.Dog snake bite

  • Keep your yard tidy by cleaning up and removing any undergrowth, leaves, toys, wood, and tools that can be hiding places for snakes.
  • Keep all walkways and paths around your house clear.
  • Try to prevent and remove any food, bird seed, etc, which can attract rodents, which are prey for snakes.
  • It is favorable to walk your pet on a leash so you can control where they go in your yard if it is wooded or has areas that could hide snakes.
  • It is important to know that snakes can strike at a distance equal to about half their body length. If you see one, it is imperative to head back the way you came from.
  • You may want to familiarize yourself with what the common venomous snakes look like in the event you witness a snake bite so that you can better prepare your emergency veterinarian as this can guide your pet’s treatment.




Below are signs you may see if your pet experiences a snake bite so that you can quickly bring them in to us or your local emergency veterinarian to be seen.

  • Local or Generalized Swelling in the region of the bite (if generalized swelling, it can cause other signs such as difficulty breathing based on location of bite)
  • BleedingDog snake bite wound
  • Extreme pain
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Dead tissue around the region of the bite
  • Shortness of breath or Respiratory Difficulty
  • Weakness
  • Kidney failure

If your pet experiences a snake bite or you notice some of the above clinical signs, you must remain calm as well as try to keep your pet calm by reducing their activity. If your pet was bit around the neck region, remove their collar to decrease issues with swelling. Bring him to us or your local emergency veterinarian right away so that your pet can get immediate veterinary attention. Treatments you may read online to do at home such as icing, tourniquet, alcohol, sucking out the venom, etc will not help and ultimately waste precious time when it comes to giving your pet the best care. Your veterinarian will assess the wounds, determine the current health status of your pet, and discuss next steps in their diagnostic and treatment plan.

We hope these tips help keep your pets safe this spring and summer. If you have any questions, you can always call us for advice!


posted in:  Uncategorized

What is Heartworm Disease?

Dr. Abigial Brady

Heartworm disease is very common in North Carolina and has been diagnosed in all 48 states within the continental US. Heartworm disease is a fatal disease in dogs and cats. Heartworms are spaghetti-like worms that live inside the heart of dogs, cats, and wild mammals such as wolves, coyotes and foxes. When the worms are living in the heart they can cause heart failure, lung disease and severe disease in other organs of the body.


How do our pets get heartworms?

Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites. Wild animals are natural carriers of heartworms. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, they ingest the heartworm larvae (immature heartworms). The larvae mature into the infective stage while inside the mosquito. When the mosquito moves on and bites the next dog or cat they come across, they transfer the larvae into the pet. The immature mosquitos then migrate from the bite into the bloodstream and then to the heart, where Image result for Heart Worm Life Cyclethey will continue to mature and cause signs of disease.  From the time of the bite to the time that the worms are matured and able to be detected by a blood test is an average of 6 months.

Dogs are a natural host of the heartworm, meaning that the worms can mature and reproduce in the heart. Because of this, the worms can continue to reproduce and there can be up to several hundred worms living in one dog if they are left untreated. The heartworms can live in the dog for 5-7 years.

Cats are not natural hosts of heartworms. This means that they rarely develop to adulthood and typically do not reproduce. Normally when a cat is infected with heartworms, there are only 1-3 worms present. Even though they rarely have adult worms and in comparison to dogs, there are only a few present, heartworm disease can still be severe and even fatal in cats. The heartworms can live in the cat for 2-3 years.


What are the signs of heartworm disease?

In heartworm positive dogs, the most common signs seen are associated with heart disease. In early stages of disease there are usually no clinical signs that you will be able to detect. The most common signs that are seen by owners include a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, becoming tired/worn out more quickly, weight loss and loss of appetite. In late stages of disease or severe disease you may see a distended abdomen, collapse, labored breathing or pale gums.

Cats with heartworm disease may have no signs or very severe signs. They commonly have respiratory signs including coughing or asthma-like breathing but they may also have vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, difficulty walking, fainting or a distended abdomen. Unfortunately in cats the first sign may be sudden collapse or even sudden death.


How do I get my pet tested for heartworms?

All dogs should be tested for heartworms every 12 months (starting at 1 year of age). This can be done with the annual blood work that your veterinarian runs. There are in-hospital, rapid tests that can be run, or your veterinarian may elect to send your pet’s blood to an outside lab to run a heartworm test.

Because cats do not usually have adult heartworms, they can be more difficult to detect. The preferred method to test cats is to took for both the antigen and antibody (the presence of worms and the exposure to them) but your veterinarian may also recommend x-rays or an ultrasound to help detect the worms if your cat is showing clinical signs of heartworm disease.


How can I prevent heartworm disease?

There are many veterinary approved heartworm preventions on the market. There are some preventatives that you may be able to find over the counter but these medications are not regulated so please consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on one. Heartworm prevention is available in many forms. There are several brands of oral medications, both pills and chewable “treats”. You can also purchase topical liquids, which can be convenient for Image result for heartworm preventionpicky eaters or pets with food allergies. Most preventatives should be given monthly, 12 months a year. Many of the available preventatives also protect pets from intestinal parasites and fleas, ask your veterinarian for more information on this!

How is heartworm disease treated?

In dogs there are a few different protocols that are available to treat heartworms. Before treatment is performed, many diagnostic tests such as blood work and x-rays will be done to make sure your dog is getting the best care.  Your veterinarian will come up with the best treatment protocol for your dog, most of which include several visits to the veterinary hospital, strict exercise restriction and close monitoring. Treatment can be very difficult on a dog’s body and there are side effects that can occur, but without treatment heartworm disease can be fatal. The treatment protocols can be several hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Monthly prevention is very important. The cost of prevention is much less than the cost of treatment and is much easier on the dog’s body.

Unfortunately for cats there are no approved drug protocols. Strict monitoring and close veterinary care is crucial to maintaining your cats health if they are diagnosed with heartworm disease.

Please talk to your veterinarian about any questions you still have about heartworms and how to protect your pets.  The American Heartworm Society also has an abundance of information on their website.

posted in:  Pet Health

What is Canine Arthritis?

by Dr. Robert Brady

What Is It?

Arthritis is a joint problem that can reduce mobility and cause pain. Often seen in older dogs, arthritis can be caused by injury, infection, the body’s own immune system, or developmental problems. The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis (osteo = bone; arthr = joint; itis = inflammation) or degenerative joint disease. Normally, joints form smooth connections between bones. Osteoarthritis involves thinning of joint cartilage (a protective cushioning between bones), buildup of fluid within the joint, and the formation of bony growths within the joint. Over time, this can lead to reduced joint mobility as well as pain.

  • Osteoarthritis affects one of every five dogs.
  • Thinning of joint cartilage can lead to a vicious cycle of joint deterioration, reduced mobility, and pain.
  • Supportive care is important, and treatment may include pain medication, NSAIDs, corticosteroids,supplements, massage, therapeutic laser, warm compresses, and/or surgery.
  • Regular, moderate exercise may help delay canine arthritis.

Signs and Diagnosis

  • Stiffness after exercise or rest
  • Wasting away of muscle
  • Limited movement
  • Joint swelling
  • Trouble getting up, laying down, walking, climbing stairs, or jumping
  • A grating sound in a joint
Normal Canine Hips- Arthritis

Normal Canine Hips

Recognizing arthritis in dogs can be difficult because the condition progresses slowly and dogs don’t complain about their aching joints. Also, some owners assume that signs of arthritis are “normal” in older animals.

Bringing your dog in for an annual checkup can help your veterinarian identify clinical signs early. Radiography (x-rays) can reveal bony growths and joint abnormalities.

Severe Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis- Arthritis

Severe Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis


  • Getting or keeping your dog slim can help by decreasing the load on his or her joints.
  • Feeding your dog the right amount of high-quality food should help with weight control.
  • Carefully monitored exercise on soft surfaces can help affected dogs..
  • Because arthritis is aggravated by cold and damp, keep your dog warm and dry. Padded dog beds can help.
  • Warm compresses can soothe affected joints.
  • Massage and passive range of motion can increase your dog’s flexibility, circulation, and sense of well-being. Professional animal massage therapists are available.
  • Pain medication, including nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs), may help relieve signs, but you should never give your dog a drug without your veterinarian’s recommendation. Ibuprofen (Advil), Aspirin, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be toxic to dogs and cats so never give these medications to your pets.
  • Corticosteroids can be used to suppress inflammation, but they are usually used for short periods.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin have been used to help manage arthritis in dogs and other animals.
  • Acupuncture isn’t just for people. It’s painless and has shown some success in animals.
  • Therapeutic Laser therapy has also been proven to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis in dogs.
  • Surgery may be a good choice in advanced cases of canine arthritis including total hip replacements.
  • A low-stress environment, plenty of affection, and supportive care can help improve your dog’s quality of life.



Regular, moderate exercise and a high-quality diet can help delay aging, keeping your pet thin, and early intervention when a problem is suspected all help delay the progression of arthritis.


Aids for Arthritic Dogs

  • Slip-free flooring/ grip enhancement for your pets feet
  • Soft bedding
  • Ramps (instead of steps)
  • A warm, dry environment
  • Assisted grooming
  • Regular veterinary visits
  • Pain medications when warranted
  • Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Laser treatments



posted in:  Pet Health  |  Uncategorized