4 Ways You Can Help Animals in Your Community

Animal shelter volunteer.

If you’re anything like us, you can’t get enough time with animals. You’ve invited them into your home as family members. You spend all your spare time doling out treats, going for walks, and giving belly rubs. Still, you want to do more for the animals in your community. After all, animals make our lives immeasurably better. Giving back is important to you, but you’re not sure where to begin. Should you learn how to volunteer at an animal shelter? Donate money? What about getting involved in animal rescue services? Here are 5 ways to get involved.


Improve Your Cat’s Carrier, Increase Vet Visits

cat in carrier.

No cat owner wants to force their kitty into their travel crate, but sometimes it’s the only option. What’s amazing is that if you create a safe haven for them inside their carrier, and give them time to adjust to it, they will eventually prefer their special place of refuge. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to bring them in to see us more regularly, improving their overall health and wellness. Win-win!


How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears, and Why it’s So Important

A woman holds up her dog's large ears like angel wings

Much like brushing your dog’s fur, clipping their nails, or cleaning their teeth, ear cleaning is an important part of a dog’s basic grooming regimen. Keeping your dog’s ears clean is essential in keeping infections at bay and allows you to check the ears periodically for signs of trouble.

Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to clean your dog’s ears, and with practice it can become second nature. Our team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care can get you started!


Guinea Pig Nutrition

Guinea pigs develop dietary preferences early in life and do not adapt readily to changes in type, appearance, or presentation of their food or water.  The optimum diet for a guinea pig should contain guinea pig pellets, grass hay and supplemented with fresh vegetables.  Guinea pigs are completely herbivorous and enjoy a variety of leafy greens.  All fresh vegetables should only be left in the cage for a few hours and only a small amount of fruits should be offered.  Good quality hay should be available at all times and pellets can be given free choice as well.  Guinea pigs require a dietary source of Vitamin C and should be offered in the way of green leafy vegetables (kale, parsley, beet greens, chicory, spinach), red and green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes or small amount of kiwi and oranges.  Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you have questions about your guinea pig’s diet.

Why Does My Pet Need Parasite Prevention?

Dr Jamie Laity

Monthly preventative products for parasites can be a source of much confusion for pet owners. What does my pet need? How often should I give it? Which products work best? These are a few of the many questions we hear on a daily basis.

Here’s the scoop:
In the south, parasites (both inside and outside the body) run rampant for dogs and cats. Heartworms are the focus of many of the monthly preventatives because these parasites can cause significant damage, but are very preventable! Heartworms are transmitted through mosquitos, and because we live in the south, heartworms are a real problem for our pets.

Both dogs AND cats can get heartworms, even the pets that stay indoors all the time. Heartworm preventatives should be given EVERY 30 days for maximum protection. If you forget a dose, the best thing to do is bring your pet in for a heartworm test.

Intestinal parasites are very common in our pets. Dogs and cats can become infected with intestinal worms through their everyday environment. Hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms are among the most common intestinal parasites we see. These worms can cause various problems including diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia. Like heartworms, intestinal parasites are preventable. We recommend that each pet has a fecal once a year to check for internal parasites.

What about those nasty fleas and ticks? External parasites are not only ugly to look at, but can also transmit dangerous diseases to your pets. Fleas can result in tapeworm infections and ticks can harbor a whole host of organisms that cause serious illnesses in pets. The tricky part with flea infestations is that only 5% of the fleas are actually on your pet. The remaining 95% of the population is buried in deep carpet, couches, and rugs. If you are noticing fleas on your pet, monthly preventatives will help, but they won’t eliminate the problem. Vacuuming daily will help remove eggs and larvae from the environment. With severe infestations, professional exterminators may be necessary.

So what products should I use?
There are many different products on the market that do a great job preventing these harmful parasites. At Animal Medical Hospital, we recommend Sentinel combined with Vectra 3D each month for dogs. Sentinel is an oral tablet that prevents heartworms and intestinal parasites and acts like a “flea birth control.” It does not kill adult fleas, but makes fleas sterile, which helps with population control. Vectra 3D is a topical liquid that kills adult fleas, kills and repels mosquitos and ticks. Vectra 3D also has the advantage of being waterproof. Both of these products in combination will protect your dog for 30 days. For cats, we recommend Revolution, which is a topical product that prevents heartworms, fleas, intestinal parasites and ear mites for 30 days.

Household Toxins

Dr Bridget Andersen

There are numerous toxins in a typical household to which our pets could become exposed.  Toxic substances range from obvious hazards such as rat poison, to seemingly benign substances such as over the counter flea medications and raisins.  It is impossible to remember all of the potentially harmful household items, but there a few key facts that every pet owner should know.


  1. Whenever a pet has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance but seems normal, call a poison control hotline for advice.  Animal Medical Hospital recommends the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. Note: this service is included in the HomeAgain membership.    This organization has the most accurate and expansive database of toxins, and they will be able to calculate the toxic dose your pet received and advise whether or not your pet needs to be treated.
  2. If your pet is already showing signs of illness, bring him/her into the hospital and we can call the Poison Control Hotline once your pet arrives.    There is a fee for the hotline’s services but it is well worth your while and may prevent an emergency visit to the hospital.
    1. If possible, have the product label available during the phone conversation so that you can provide information as to the product ingredients, concentration, and quantity.
    2. Also, bring the container/product label to the veterinary hospital – including the quantity spilled and vomited.


If your pet has had a topical exposure to a toxic substance (over the counter flea medication, household cleaners, 100% tea tree oil, antifreeze, etc) wash your pet immediately with mild dish detergent and copious amounts of water.  It is best to wear gloves in case the product is toxic to humans as well.   For powders, vacuuming the pet’s fur prior to bathing is ideal.   For eye exposure, immediately flush the eyes with water, or ideally saline solution prepared for eyes.  Then follow up with a phone call to Poison Control or Animal Medical Hospital.


For ingestion of a potentially toxic substance it is best to seek advice prior to treatment.  If the substance is deemed non-caustic and the ingestion has occurred within the hour, it may be recommended to induce vomiting.  This is best performed at a veterinary facility with an intravenous injection because the injection is less irritating to the stomach lining than oral induction.   However, if unable to bring your pet to the hospital, vomiting can be induced at home using FRESH 3% hydrogen peroxide.  Feeding a small amount of dog food or bread prior to induction of vomiting is commonly recommended.  It is helpful to keep a turkey baster, bulb syringe, or large medicine syringe on hand in order to administer the hydrogen peroxide.


It is extremely important to contact your veterinarian or Poison control center prior to induction of vomiting because vomiting is contraindicated when the ingested material is caustic.  Caustic items are corrosive and cause mild irritation to necrosis/sloughing of the mucosal tissue of the mouth and esophagus.  Common caustic household items are alkalis (in cleaning products), turpentine, and petroleum products.   In these cases it is best to dilute the toxin by giving milk or water and head to the emergency facility immediately.

The list of toxic substances is very long and is often time dose dependent.  For complete lists of toxic substances, please go to www.ASPCA.org.

Owning a Pet Reptile

Pet ReptileDr Lorraine Pennea

Have you ever thought about owning a pet reptile? Many people think  the reptiles that are kept as pets are ‘cool’ to own and sometimes after seeing one up close or handling one people get their hearts set on owning one too.  Some of the more common pet reptiles that people keep are turtles, tortoises, non-poisonous snakes, green iguanas, chameleons, and various other lizards.

I too am a reptile enthusiast and although I am not a veterinary specialist in the exotics world, I am hobbyist. I want you to know that the single biggest ‘mistake’ people make when it comes to reptiles is not learning enough about which ever particular species they desire before acquiring it. Husbandry issues are the leading cause of illness and injury in pet reptiles. There are multiple websites where one can learn about how to care for a reptile but some of these sites are just a person’s opinion and perhaps not factual. The best place to learn is from your veterinarian. If your veterinarian does not take care of reptiles they certainly can guide you towards one who does or one who is a hobbyist like myself who would be more than happy to guide you. If you want your reptile to do well and thrive then you must know how to care for it.

Some simple facts: green iguanas will turn brown and stop being green if they are not kept at the correct temperature. Turtles will stop eating if humidity is wrong. Snakes will sometimes sit so close to heat sources that they will burn their own skin before moving away. Most reptiles can have zoonotic diseases – meaning a disease that is contagious to people!  Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you are thinking about owning a reptile or if you have questions about reptile care.

Why do some dogs not interact well with other dogs? By Dr. Kristin Kahdy

A lot of dogs are adopted at the age of 6-8 weeks.  They then go into a dog free environment to avoid infectious diseases, due to a weak immune system, until they are fully vaccinated.  However, 6-16 weeks of age prove to be one of the most important socialization periods for young dogs.  This is the time when they learn to interact with other dogs and learn how to act in a pack.  Therefore if they are not socialized during this period of time, they may not know the dos and don’ts associated with pack like behavior.

So, how do you go about solving this?  Puppies should still interact with healthy dogs during the most important socialization period in their lives.  However, this does not mean to take them to dog parks and to pet stores.  The interaction periods should occur during a controlled environment with only healthy fully vaccinated dogs.

Leave it! by Dr. Jessica Cooper

Dogs are pack animals.  You do not need to “let them be their own person” and “express themselves.”  It’s not good for them.  They feel much more comfortable knowing where they stand in the pecking order of the pack, which needs to be below you.  I don’t care if you teach your dog any other command besides “leave it.”  This command can save their life.

What it needs to mean is: stop what you are doing and look at me.  Leave it.  Stop chasing after that squirrel into on-coming traffic.  Leave it.  Don’t growl at Aunt Bertha or that little kid.  Leave it.  Stop sniffing at that rat bait.  Don’t pick up that huge piece of dark chocolate I just dropped on the floor.  Leave it.  That skunk doesn’t want to be your friend.  And neither does the porcupine.  Or the copperhead.  Leave it.  I think you get my drift.  When you say “leave it,” all other aspects of your dog’s life need to cease and they need to be 100% focused on you.  You are the pack leader and you may be sensing danger or you may just need their attention.  It doesn’t matter what your reasoning may be, they cannot question it or doubt you. LEAVE IT.

How do you know if your dog is trying to be the leader of your pack?  They are ignoring your command to “come” and refusing to eat what you give him so that you offer him something else.  Who would eat Pedigree when you can get steak?  Small dogs pester until they are picked up, can choose to jump on/off furniture or even crawl under the blankets on people’s beds.  Larger dogs might paw at you until you pet them or jump up on you.  Sure, some of the behavior I’m describing sounds cute.  And it sure is funny when our new puppy growls at people when he’s playing, right?  When your dog barks at you, is he being cute?  When you tell him to stop, does he?  If he continues barking, he’s just yelling back at you.  Trust me, I know first-hand.  One of my dogs does that and it’s annoying and it’s a learned behavior that I have not been able to break him off since we’ve been “yelling” at each other for over 5 years now.  But you know what?  When I tell him LEAVE IT, he does.

Rabbit Nutrition by Dr. Ashleigh Rhoades

The most important part of the rabbit’s diet is an unlimited supply of grass hay.  Grass hay provides essential fiber as well as proteins, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.  Hay also provides some of the work needed to keep the teeth worn down due to all of the chewing the rabbit needs to do to break it down.  Hay should be kept in a box or hay rack and should always be kept available.  Grass hay is preferred to alfalfa hay because it is lower in calories and calcium.

Another important part of the diet is fresh, leafy greens which provide vitamins, mineral, proteins, and carbohydrates.  When introducing greens to the diet, do so one at a time every 3 days to make sure your rabbit is handling them well.  The amount of greens to feed is a maximum of 1 packed cup of green for each 2lbs of body weight daily.  Some examples of greens are:  dandelion greens, raspberry leaves, kale, mustard greens, collard green, beet greens, and cabbage.

Pellets should also be a staple of a rabbit’s diet.  Commercial pellets are designed to promote rapid growth, and weight gain.  Once a rabbit reaches adult size, I recommend that the amount of pellets being fed be cut down to 1/4c per 4lbs of body weight per day (Maximum).

Fruits and other vegetables should be considered more along the lines of “treat” foods and should only be fed in small quantities per day.  Feed healthy “treat” foods a maximum of 1 level tablespoon per 2 pounds of body weight daily.  Some examples of healthy treat foods are:  carrots, apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, squash, tomatoes, papayas and mangos.

Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you have any questions about the health of your rabbit.