Sunday, November 24, 2013

The holidays DO'S and DON'TS for You and Your Pet.

The holidays are coming up very quickly. Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and the New Year. Each holiday has some do's and don't with regard to your pet. Most of these do's and don't are common sense and if you thought about it would most likely come up with these yourself.
However, the are always one or two do's and don't that are life saving. (particularly the don'ts) . So how about pay attention as these holidays come up and please do or don't these suggestions for your pet's safety and comfort.
You do not need to add a trip to the veterinary emergency room to your "to do" list.
For the Thanksgiving holiday: The Do's 

Do keep your eye on packaging. Ensure you dispose of any turkey or other food packaging quickly and appropriately. All strings, plastic holders and bags that have a meat smell can be very attractive to a pet.  Once ingested, these items can cause damage or blockage of the intestines.

Do stuff a Kong with kibble, dog treats or add a few nibbles of cooked turkey and vegetables.

Do guard the bread machine or if dough is rising on the counter, remove to safer ground. When raw bread dough is ingested, the animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach where it expands. The dog may experience bloating and abdominal pain and require emergency surgery.

Do beware of decorations and centrepieces, particularly some plants, flowers, pine cones, and needles. The latter may cause intestinal blockage.

Do beware of chocolate candy (toxic to dogs), candy and baked goods made with Xylitol, and rich desserts which will cause stomach upsets.
Do exercise your dog a little harder on Thanksgiving. A tired dog is a good dog especially during dinner time.
Do make sure that your dog is secure and cannot dart outside. Pets should always wear tags with current info and be micro-chipped.
Do take your dog or cat to the groomer so they look their best for your guests.
Do be sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date. Check with your veterinarian.
And the Don'ts :

Don’t gives your pet(s) any cooked turkey bones or carcasses. Be sure to wrap them up well and secured away from where dogs can find them. If you do give them a piece of turkey, ensure that it’s well cooked, no skin, and boneless. Keep your eye on the dog as entire turkeys have been known to disappear. Cooked turkey bones are sharp, potentially dangerous, and can be lodged in their digestive system for days.
Don’t feed your pet(s) stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, rich mashed potatoes. Stuffing and other foods may have herbs,  spices, onions, raisins & grapes which are toxic to dogs.

Don’t leave beer, wine, and spirits within reach.  Move liquid refreshments to higher ground. Dogs can become quite ill, go into a coma or die.

Don’t make your pet be something he or she is not. If the pet is people shy or doesn’t like to be around small children, put the animal in a crate or in another room. 

This year Hanukkah starts on the night before Thanksgiving. Apparently, this is a rare occurrence, so rare that it won’t happen again for another 70,000 years, that’s in people years. Since these holidays collide, here are a few pet safety tips for Hanukah:
The Do's for Hanukah:
Do keep your eyes on the gold-wrapped Hanukah chocolate ‘gelt”. Pets cannot have chocolate (it’s toxic). Pets must never eat the gold foil wrapping. Move the chocolate gelt to a high cupboard. It’s up to you to sneak a piece for yourself now and then.

Do be careful when lighting the menorah. Cats can jump on the table and dogs can knock down burning candles. Move to higher ground. Do not leave the house while the menorah candles burn unless the pets are properly stored and safe.
The Don'ts for Hanukah
Don’t give your pets brisket or potato latkes. These foods are too fatty and too much oil. Pancreatitis is not good for the pet and a trip to the vet will greatly impact your wallet. This is a definite DON'T.

Don’t leave the  dreidels lying around or else they may be swallowed. Most likely your pet will choke and a trip to the emergency vet will ensue. Put the dreidel away in a drawer after spinning it a few times. Make this a Tradition!

Don’t leave gift wrap, yarn, ribbons, packaging, and batteries lying around. Pets are curious and can swallow causing choking and dire outcomes.
And for Christmas and the New Year: The Do's
DO keep all wrapping paper and Christmas decoration (including fairy lights) out of sight and out of reach; pets are attracted to bright and shiny things, and if eaten they will cause stomach issues.
DO get your pet microchipped as they may run off to find shelter if they get cold outside or become spooked from the noise of the festive celebrations. Make sure they have a quiet place where they can relax and feel safe.
DO go out for fresh air, but remember pets get cold too. Try to reduce the time they spend outside and don't be afraid to get them a cosy little pet jacket if necessary. If it's frosty and the pavements are gritted, check your dog's paws to make sure they aren't starting to hurt. Grit can be extremely irritating to footpads, even drying them to a point where paws split open and bleed. Also make sure your dog doesn't lick off road salt because this can cause stomach problems.
Because of the cold weather, DO ensure you have plenty of toys, especially activity types, to keep them active indoors.
The DON'TS for Christmas and the New Year:
DON'T feed your pet Christmas dinner leftovers, human food can be too rich and can be potentially lethal; poultry and lamb bones can block or perforate bowels, and many human foods can cause nasty vomiting and diarrhoea.
DON'T treat your pets to chocolate, as it can be very toxic! In an emergency, here is the link to your very own Chocolate toxicity meter link :
click here

If you do leave the house, DON'T allow pets on frozen ponds/canals for obvious reasons.
DON'T give pets as surprise gifts; ensure that the new owners are ready, as a dog requires full commitment of time and responsibility. 
DON'T leave plants were pets can eat them. Stargazer lilies, Rubrum lilies, Tiger lilies, and the other members of the Lilum genus, the ‘true lilies’ as they are known, are highly toxic to cats. So too are certain types of Day lilies.

DON'T leave your house and leave your Christmas tree available for the pets to play with the tree and decorations. The consequences could be devastating for your pet and the tree and house.
I am sure I could continue to add to both the do's and don'ts list, but I hope you get the idea. Think ahead, think like your pet, think how can I get myself in trouble. you need to correct the situation so it doesn't happen. You and your pet(s) will enjoy your holidays much more.
Happy Holidays!

The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at   


















Saturday, August 3, 2013

                     Ear Infections in Your Pet and What You Need To Know

Normal healthy ear
Ever had an ear ache? ....An ear ache so bad, you see stars or really interrupts your life. Maybe you've had a long term ear ache that makes you grumpy or worse.

Dogs and cats get ear aches too. They don't like ear infections either.

Ear infections of the outer ear, or external ear canal,  is a very common problem that is dealt with by all small animal veterinarians.  The condition may be acute and develops quickly, or it may be a chronic or frequently recurring problem.  

Infected, inflamed ear

Signs of ear infections, or scientifically speaking, Otitis Externa , are easy to recognize and include head shaking, scratching at  the ears, red and swollen ear canals and ear flaps, pussy or waxy discharge, and pain.  Many animals will cry out when touched around the ears or head and some may become aggressive and try to bite.  Of course, punishment is uncalled for when an animal bites out of pain, rather, the compassionate response is to seek veterinary treatment for the pet.

Why does an animal develop otitis externa?  Otitis externa is not a primary disease ,
rather, the inflammation and pain is a response to some other underlying problem
that must be identified.

An animal may have "anatomical factors" that contribute to the development of the condition.  These are usually breed related and include small or narrow ear canals (such as in Shar-Peis), excessive hair in ear canals (poodles, Lhasas), and long, pendulous earflaps (Bassett hounds).

Primary causes of otitis externa include parasites such as ear mites (very common
in cats) or foreign bodies.  The most common primary cause of otitis
externa is allergies, which can be either to inhaled substances (atopy) or food allergies.

Perpetuating factors
increase the severity of the condition and play a major role in
chronic or recurrent otitis externa.  Perpetuating factors include bacterial, fungal, and yeast 
infections of the outer ear.  And "otitis media", which is inflammation/infection of
the middle ear, is often a source of constant reinfection of the outer ear.  One of the
most significant perpetuating factors is ear canal hypertrophy (thickening), which
may become so severe as to completely close off the outer ear canal and make

medical treatment of the ear near impossible. Before that happens, your veterinarian
should point this narrowing out to you and suggest medical or surgical intervention.

The worst way to treat an animal with chronic or recurrent otitis externa is to just keep applying antibiotic eardrops on an on-going basis and ignore the underlying and perpetuating factors that are involved.  Ear medications do play an important role in treating otitis externa but overuse will lead to the development of resistant organisms and a worsening of the otitis.   

Diagram of normal ear

 Treatment of ear infections must be individualized for each patient and must address the
underlying, predisposing and perpetuating factor that are present.

Treatment options include ear cleaning or flushing, culture and sensitivity, ear medications for infections, and or surgery. The two most common types of surgery are lateral resection of the external ear canal and ear ablation. Perhaps another blog can go into more detail about these procedures. Give me 20 dogs with ear canal issues bad enough for surgery and 19 of them will get the lateral resection of the external ear canal, and the 20th dog will get the ear ablation.

A typical case of a dog or cat with an ear infection would get a culture and sensitivity before the ear is treated. If is impossible to say for sure whether the ear is infected with a bacteria (or multiple bacteria), a fungal infection, complicated by mites or a yeast infection. Often the results come back as multiple causes. It is even more difficult to guess at the correct treatment until the test results are returned. Which antibiotic? Will an antifungal help?

After a C&S is taken, the ears are usually deep ear cleaned to flush out as much debris as possible. Then an antibiotic , both topically and orally is given. The owner is informed that one or both antibiotics may be changed for a more effective treatment once we know what will kill the offending organism.

If an infection is treated properly and diligently, the future maintenance is very easy and not expensive. If you do not treat the ear completely until the ear contains no disease, the ear infections tend to reoccur and usually results in the
 need for surgery.

At the first sign of ear trouble for your pet, please take him or her to your trusted veterinarian and together form a treatment plan that will minimize future infections.

The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at   

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Feline Hyperthyroid Disease And How We Treat It.

An increase in the thyroid hormone activity in the cat’s thyroid gland is known as Hyperthyroidism. It is usually caused by a benign tumor in one or both of the cat’s thyroid glands. There is only a 5% chance that a benign tumor can become malignant. 
A benign tumor is contained to the place it is growing, while a malignant tumor can spread out or seed itself in different and distant organs.  
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Not all symptoms will be seen in every cat with hyperthyroidism, but any one or two of them should be a strong indication that a veterinary examination is indicated. Some or all of the following symptoms may be present in a hyperthyroid cat:

·         Increased Appetite
·         Unexplained Weight Loss and loss of muscle mass
·         Irritability or Nervousness
·         Frequent Vomiting

Typically thin cat with a large appetite
·         Unkempt-looking Coat
·         Diarrhea
·         Excessive Thirst (polydipsia)
·         Weakness  
·         Lethargy

Thyroid hormones affect nearly all the organs in the body; therefore, thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems. Thyroid hormones stimulate a faster heart rate and a stronger contraction of the heart muscle. Over time, cats with hyperthyroidism may develop an enlargement and thickening of the left ventricle of the heart. If left untreated and unmanaged, these changes will eventually compromise the normal function of the heart and can even result in heart failure. This means that in some cats with hyperthyroidism, additional treatment may be required to control secondary heart disease. However, once the underlying hyperthyroidism has been controlled, the cardiac changes will often improve or may even resolve completely.

Hypertension-high blood pressure-is another potential complication of hyperthyroidism and can cause additional damage to several organs, including the eyes, kidneys, heart, and brain. If hypertension is diagnosed along with hyperthyroidism, drugs may be needed to control the blood pressure and reduce the risk of damaging other organs. As in the case of heart disease, after the hyperthyroidism has been successfully treated, the high blood pressure will often resolve, and permanent treatment for it may not be required.


Three basic treatments each offer a strong possibility of returning the thyroid gland to normal function.  They are medication, surgery, and radiation therapy.

Anti-Thyroid Medication

This is almost always the first treatment. It is non-invasive, inexpensive, and the only choice for cats with kidney or heart disease. It comes in pills and trans-dermal ointments for easy administration. The medication will control the production of thyroid hormones.

Medication usually is given once or twice daily for life with regular blood tests to regulate dosage.
Additionally, there is also a prescription diet called Hill's Y/D which can reduce hyperthyroid disease to varying degrees.


Surgery is an effective treatment, but it is best done by a veterinarian skilled in this type of surgery, called a "thyroidectomy." Surgery is most often indicated when only one thyroid lobe is involved. A radionuclide scan is indicated prior to the surgery to determine the extent of the diseased thyroid tissue, and to locate any extraneous thyroid tissue growing elsewhere in the neck (or chest) of the cat, which may contraindicate surgery.

Some advantages to this type of treatment are: It eliminates the need for long-term medication, and  It is favored where Radioactive Iodine Therapy (I131) is not available.


Radioiodine Treatment
This is quickly becoming the treatment of choice in areas where it is available, and where the caregivers can afford it. A single injection of radioactive iodine (R131) is given subcutaneously. The substance "finds" and destroys all diseased tissue, including any ectopic thyroid cells without harming any normal tissue. The cat must remain in the veterinary hospital for five days to two weeks (depending on state laws) until his radioactive levels are acceptable. Caregivers may be able to visit during that time, but will only be able to view their kitty through a special leaded window.
The advantages to Radioiodine are that it provides a permanent cure in 95% of cases. It is safe and minimizes stress to the cat. The expense can be the same as surgery. Additionally, the cat must be in good health.

There are several good treatments to control Hyperthyroid disease. The first step is to take your cat into your veterinarian for an annual wellness exam. It all starts with the discovery of the disease.

The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at   

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ticks and Every Reason To Protect Yourself And Your Pet

It's Spring! Well, at least it is Spring on the calendar. Ticks don't use calendars. They are out and feeding on warm blooded mammals when the temperature goes much above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When you or your dog are out enjoying the early Spring weather, be assured that there are tick out too. They are looking for you and your dog!

Thousands of dogs are infected annually with dangerous tick-transmitted diseases.  Within the last few years it has been reported that there has been a 30 percent increase in the rate of dogs exposed to tick-transmitted diseases.

Ticks are parasites that attach themselves to dogs, feed on blood and transmit diseases directly into the dog’s system. Major tick-borne diseases transmitted to dogs in the United States include:

Lyme disease, which comes from the deer tick, can cause stiffness, lameness, swollen joints, loss of appetite, fever and fatigue. Your dog may not show signs of the disease until several months after infected.

Canine Ehrlichiosis, found worldwide, is the most common and one of the most dangerous tick-borne disease organisms known to infect dogs. Caused by the brown dog tick, symptoms may not surface for months after transmission, and can include fever, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, runny eyes and nose, nose bleeds and swollen limbs.

Canine Anaplasmosis, also called dog fever or dog tick fever, is transmitted from the deer tick. Symptoms are similar to other tick diseases including fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints and lethargy, but also can include vomiting, diarrhea. In extreme cases, dogs may suffer seizures.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever comes from the American dog tick, the wood tick and the lone star tick. Symptoms include fever, stiffness, neurological problems and skin lesions. Typically the illness lasts about two weeks, but serious cases could result in death.

Canine Babesiosis is typically transmitted by the American dog tick and the brown dog tick. Causing anemia, symptoms may also include pale gums, weakness and vomiting.

Canine Bartonellosis comes from the brown dog tick. Symptoms are intermittent lameness and fever. Left untreated, this disease can result in heart or liver disease.

Canine Hepatozoonosis is thought to be transmitted by the brown dog tick and Gulf Coast ticks. Your dog can be infected if he eats one of these disease-carrying ticks. Symptoms are fever, runny eyes and nose, muscle pain and diarrhea with the presence of blood.

Not all diseases mentioned here, occur in all parts of the USA.
Prevention & Screening
The three most important actions you can take to prevent ticks are:
1.  Use a Preventic collar every 90 days. Put the date on the inside of the collar so you can remember to  change it. You can also post it in Outlook or your favorite reminder system.
2.  Use a reliable tick prevention product on your dog. Usually, the ones sold by veterinarians work much better than over-the counter products. We use Parastar Plus in the hospital and recommend it.
3. Use Knockout Area Spray in your home every 30 days.
Screening test can be done at your veterinarian during and annual wellness exam for your dog. The one we rely on is the 4DX test which screens for Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. In addition, it screens for +heartworm disease (see blog for March, 2011)
To confirm a positive finding, a second, more detailed test is sent to a lab before treatment. Those tests could be a Quant C6 for Lyme disease or a Western Blot test.
Symptoms of Tick Borne Disease
Listed below are many symptoms. No patient will have all these clinical signs. My purpose is to alert you that a tick borne disease may be involved. Only you veterinarian will be able to confirm your suspicions.

  • anorexia (lack of appetite)
  • weight loss
  • fever
  • lethargy (mild to severe)
  • discharge from the nose or eyes (in puppies, sneezing or clear nasal discharge)
  • diarrhea (may contain blood or raspberry gel-like component) cough-deep or merely hacking
  • neurological signs including seizures, repetitive obsessive/compulsive actions such as chewing fur and/or licking legs, un-coordination or palsy
  • depression
  • vomiting bile (yellow and possibly frothy) stained fluid
  • hemorrhaging even when blood count looks normal
  • lightening of nose color
  • nosebleeds
  • blood clotting problems-even with normal CBC (complete blood count)
  • edema (swelling) of the extremities
  • muscle wasting
  • chronic ear and skin infections that do not respond to normal treatments
  • low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
  • ocular signs including bloodshot and glassy eyes, anterior uveitis, retinal hemorrhages, dilated pupils, photophobia
  • low WBC count (leukopenia)
  • elevated WBC count (leukocytosis)
  • regenerative or non-regenerative anemia
  • arthritis, unexplained lameness in one or all legs
  • weakness
  • pallor (pale gums or tongue)
  • incontinence
  • enlarged liver, spleen
  • liver, kidney failure
  • elevated liver enzymes or kidney function tests

  • increased thirst and urination
  • neck or back pain
  • bleeding under the skin or a rash (purpura)
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • irreversible bone marrow suppression
  • protein in urine (proteinuria)
  • prostatic infections and/ or enlarged prostates in young, intact dogs
Removing Ticks From You Dog

Do not use alcohol, nail polish, hot matches, petroleum jelly, or other methods to remove ticks. These methods may actually traumatize ticks causing them to regurgitate their gut contents. Essentially, you don't want to do anything to make the tick expel its gut contents into the individual or animal--this greatly increases the chance for infective organisms to be transmitted. You also don't want to crush the tick after removal and get the contents of a potentially infected tick on your hands.
The recommended way to remove an attached tick:
  • Wear gloves and use a tweezers. Caution is advised because most diseases that ticks carry can also be transmitted to people.
  • Grab the body of the tick with the tweezers and firmly pull the tick straight out, DO NOT TWIST OR JERK. Do not puncture the body of the tick.
  • If it looks like some of the tick did not come completely out (the tick's mouth part has a barb on it to make removal more difficult), use an alcohol sterilized needle to remove the remaining pieces.
  • Cleanse wound with soap and water, and then alcohol.
  • Save the tick in rubbing alcohol (the alcohol quickly kills the tick) for future identification and testing**, if necessary. Date the bottle. Drowning a tick in water does not work--they can even survive flushing down
    the toilet.
  • Mark the date on the calendar; this could be useful information if the dog starts showing symptoms consistent with tick disease.
Hope this information helps. Don't get bit!

The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at