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  • Pet Care Articles by The Visiting Veterinarian

  • I am often asked why I recommend a heartworm check on dogs yearly if their owners have them on the preventative faithfully.  Is that necessary? Yes.  It’s a really good idea.  Here are a couple of reasons:  Compliance and resistance. Let’s face it, few people remember to give (or take their own) medication 100% of the time.  A review by veterinary practices of drug sales to regular [...]

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    During a house call last week, I asked my friend and assistant Holly to go grab the puss.  Open mouth, insert foot.  That’s one phrase I probably should stop using.  Holly did in fact, grab the FOUR LEGGED puss, and we poked him with needles, took his precious blood and clipped his too long nails.  The cat’s owners, Holly and I all laughed at the double entrendre, and I started musing [...]

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    My pets don’t brush their teeth every day.  Do yours?  Probably not. While the best current advice is for owners to fulfill this task daily for our animals, my guess is few of us do. When I went to veterinary school (a really long time ago!), dental prophylaxis was not a major topic of concern. But as the body of medical knowledge increased and more was learned about the repercussions of[...]

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    My pets are very bored. Bone chilling temps have kept my animals indoors. Not that it’s a bad thing. Temperatures this cold and winds this ferocious are dangerous to pets who remain outside for long. Domesticated animals have become acclimated to heating systems and do not have the thick pelage of those whose entire life is spent out of doors. Still, while not life-threatening, boredom is [...]

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    Some people have been lucky enough to travel south this time of year. So-called snowbirds have mercifully escaped the brutal winds and sub- freezing temperatures which beset Maryland in winter. Usually pets go along. (Champ, Atticus and I have not been so fortunate.) But also, animals travel for reasons other than climate. Whether for competition at dog and cat shows, owner relocation for [...]

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    Several years ago, I wrote an article about Canine Influenza. Back in 2004, canine flu was emerging here in the United States and appeared in pockets around our country. It created big headlines in the greyhound racing circuit in Florida. Today, canine influenza has been reported in over 40 states and thousands of dogs have been infected. So what’s changed? Just as with humans, newer [...]

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    Holiday Hazards

    Tis the season to be...wary? Of course we all think of the holidays as festive times; lots of celebrations with food, drink, family and friends.  And for the most part, that's true.  To keep the good time rollin' for your furry friends, there are a few things to consider. We all know that chocolate has varying degrees of toxicity for dogs, with dark being most toxic, then semi-sweet, [...]

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    #1  Stop waking mom at 5AM. Once, just once, I needed to be up that early.  But the memory of that morning is engraved in their minds and now 5 is the new 7.  Rise and shine mom, it’s time to eat! #2  Eat at their own food bowls. Why is this so hard?  Why must I stand there every morning like a policeman on patrol?  Don’t’ they understand every [...]

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     I’m pretty excited about this article because I have good news to share.   My diabetic cat has gone into remission from his disease.  That means no more needles!  (For now anyway.) I am very pleased about this because when it comes to giving my own pets needles, I’m just like any other owner-I hate doing it.  And even though the needles we use to [...]

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    Recently, my friend’s dog got into the pantry. The door had been left open when no one was home, and dogs will be dogs.   Stormy did considerable damage to the weekly grocery budget, but the biggest problem was that she got into the chocolate.   And, my friend didn’t know when or how much chocolate was actually ingested.  Here’s why that’s [...]

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    The Humane Society of Kent County is currently experiencing an outbreak of feline distemper (Panleukopenia).  It is thought that the virus was introduced by an infected kitten left in the shelter’s drop room.  From there, the virus spread to the vulnerable kitten population.  Humane Society personnel have acted swiftly to contain the problem and have enacted the following [...]

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    Unless you’ve known me for a long time, you probably never met Moby.  He was the dog by which all others are measured.  He was a handsome, block headed yellow lab who was the coolest dog ever.   He wore sunglasses and red flowing scarves as he flew around in my convertible.  He rode jet skis.  He was invited to parties when I wasn’t.  He went on [...]

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    I had my topic picked out, the title cleverly fixed, the outline complete, and then… I did a spay/neuter clinic.  It was a two day event in Dorchester County this past weekend.  Sponsored by Dr. Teri White of Tom Cat Solutions in Easton, four veterinarians spayed or castrated 140 cats.  That was an impressive first time operation implemented by Dr White who saw a need in a [...]

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    My darling Chessie is going to be 18 years old next week.  18 years is miraculous for a Maine Coon cat who has suffered with heart disease for a decade, had bilateral hip surgeries and has thrown 2 blood clots in his rear legs. Let’s start with the breed.  Maine Coons, called gentle giants, are the largest breed of domestic cats.  Chessie was upward of 24 pounds in his [...]

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    This seems like a good time of year to talk about red eyes.  Certainly mine are!  My excuses might be staying up late at night, or having one glass of wine too many.  But my cat’s eyes are red too, and I’m sure he does not share those extravagances.  Red eyes come from so many different causes. We think of blepharitis - an inflammation of the lids.  Or [...]

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    As many of my reader know, I have taken many trips with my pets over the years.  Whether by car, boat or plane, my pets are experienced travellers.  My lab went hiking in Vermont, wandered the Billy Goat Trail  and Chessie  the Coon cat earned his sea legs with over 5000 ocean miles below his tufted toes.  I was really lucky that my guys remained well over the years. [...]

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    Let’s face it, this is a time of the year when we’re all carrying a few extra pounds. Whether from inactivity or holiday excess, our waistlines expand in the winter.. The same problem which plagues people befalls pets too. Veterinarians see an abundance of porky pets right now. Just as obesity is bad for us, it’s bad for animals too. Joints carry a greater load which can lead to [...]

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    By now, everyone on this part of the planet has heard about Lyme Disease, the difficult to diagnose malady spread by ticks. In this short article, I want to explain several aspects of this disease so readers have some baseline knowledge as warm weather approaches. Information about Lyme disease is timely as ticks start feeding in March and April. As the temperature increases, ticks [...]

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    Occasionally, when clients come into the veterinarian’s office, they often just want a quick vaccine. They might need to board a dog, so they require a Bordatella-kennel cough (not portabella!) vaccine. Or perhaps the Animal Control Officer has nabbed their pooch on the lam and now demands proof of a valid Rabies vaccination. Even non-felonious pet owners occasionally want the quick needle [...]

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    Unfortunately, the summer is over. Though these past fall days have been lovely, the change of the season brings a returning pest-the flea. The worst time of the year for this hungry parasite is autumn. Cool mornings and evenings convey a wake-up call to the flea: Feed! Our furry friends and possibly ourselves are on the menu. Fleas are blood sucking parasites so the bite of [...]

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    Dogs are amazingly adaptable animals. As I prepare to confront the cold, donning heavy coat, scarf, gloves and hat, my yellow lab waits patiently barefoot and unclothed to go outside. He hardly notices the merciless wind which seems like it has blown straight out of Siberia. And Bosun was overjoyed to see 13 inches of snow outside our front door inlate December. His foot pads gripped the icy lane [...]

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    …or, things that go bump in the night. It’s that time of year again, with fireworks and thunderstorms upsetting dogs throughout the county. Just why is it that some dogs are so disturbed by these events, and what can we do to make them more at ease? I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but here’s what I can tell you. Certainly loud noises shock and scare many of us, [...]

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    My cats go out. I’ve wrestled with the debate over quality of life versus quantity, risk of disease and/or trauma, but ultimately I think that a cat’s quality of life is better if he or she is allowed access to the outside world. My cats roam 5 gorgeous acres. Therefore, usually my pets urinate and defecate outside the house. I do have litterboxes for a rainy day, but in the past, they[...]

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    No, that’s not a new support group for those 65 and older. It’s just a great idea for individuals who have two and those that have four legs to come together for mutual solace and support. Think geriatric pets for geriatric people. The benefits of pet ownership have been proven time and again—Companionship: Something warm and soft to caress and hold; a daily walk: increased [...]

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    Recently I visited the Kent County Humane Society and was astounded by the incredible number of kittens abandoned, born in cages at the shelter, or simply pulled off the street by the animal control officers. However these kittens arrived, their numbers are staggering. Springtime is known as a fertile season for many species and cats are no exception. Unspayed queens (adult cats) can complete an [...]

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    Every year, animal poison control hotlines field dozens of questions regarding poisonous plant exposure. Dogs and cats frequently chew on or ingest plants’ foliage and flowers found both in and around the home. While most ornamental plants are innocuous, there are certainly many which do contain toxins harmful to pets. The effects of these toxins can range from minor irritation in the mouth [...]

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    I just returned from a three-day spay/neuter clinic on the island of Jamaica. And it was no vacation. A group of six American veterinarians and three technicians volunteered our time and skills for the International Spay/Neuter Network, a grassroots organization out of Florida whose mission is to help the animals in that desperately poor country. We stood from 8AM to 6PM, Friday thru Sunday of [...]

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    Recently, a friend of mine traveled cross-country with her three cats. She and her husband fretted as the trip approached, wanting to make the journey as stress-free as possible for them and their pets. To no one’s surprise, the trip went very well, and everyone arrived in good health and humor. Theirs is not a solitary tale. People move all over the place-and hopefully, take their animals [...]

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    Just when most of us don’t want to hear the word flu again, here is more to consider about that nasty virus. Influenza is not just a hot button issue with humans, it’s abuzz in the canine world as well. The reason is two fold: there is a new, controversial vaccine for canine influenza, and recently, several cats and ferrets were diagnosed with H1N1. Holy Mutation, [...]

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    I am overjoyed to tell you that the Kent County Humane Society is holding its first low-cost spay/neuter clinic on Saturday, October 30th from 8-5 at the shelter. The Kent County Humane Society is located 4.5 miles north of Chestertown on Augustine Herman Highway, Route 213. This first clinic will be for cats only, though subsequent events will include dogs. Cats or [...]

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    None of us want to experience an emergency with our pet, but sometimes critical situations arise and it’s best to be prepared for them. Having a plan to deal with a pet in crisis minimizes stress for both owner and animal. Unfortunately, this is the voice of experience speaking. I found myself in that situation when Bosun my yellow lab, was hit by a car four weeks ago. He[...]

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    By now, my readers are well on their way to a well socialized, good mannered and adequately immunized kitten. Now it’s time to shine the spotlight on puppies. Having a puppy around the house can be such a joy. It’s hard not to love a lab or golden retriever or a tiny poodle with their innocent expressions and cuddle-soft fur. Here’s my take on keeping that new[...]

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    This isn’t an easy one to write. We lost Bosun last week. He succumbed to a variety of illnesses too overwhelming for even his great spirit. He was a beloved member of our family for over 13 years. He loved life, approached each day with happiness, was kind and gentle to everyone he met and gave unconditional love to his family and friends each day he walked on this earth. Bo came from a [...]

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    Thank God it’s Spring. It’s such a lovely season, and I don’t know anyone who isn’t relieved and grateful for its arrival. Bugs will arrive too, so April is a good month to be sure that your pets are protected against heartworms. Heartworms are circulatory parasites. They don’t live in the gastrointestinal tract as do other familiar worms. As the name implies, they [...]

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    I feel like a doorman. I’m constantly letting my cats in and out of the front door. Mercifully, I’m not home much, but when I am, it’s in and out, open and close, pause and wait, scoot or boot. I’ve contemplated the merits of the totally indoor versus outdoor lifestyle, and each has advantages. Indoor cats are of course cleaner than their outdoor [...]

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    I’ve been fielding lots of questions lately regarding senior pet care. Clients have concerns that their elder pets are comfortable, that their pet’s health is as optimal as possible given his or her life stage and that as owners, they are doing all they can to maximize a cat or dog’s longevity. So I thought I’d share some insights about a subject dear to my heart. My dad [...]

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    One of the surest ways to know that Spring is here is that ticks are back.  Although ticks can feed year round, they ramp up their blood lust in April and May.  Because of their increasing activity, I thought you’d like to know some biology which dictates their behavior.  Ticks are interesting creatures.  Ticks’ life cycles are long and complex.   Take the[...]

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    I’ve been doing lots of shelter work lately. Caring for cats and dogs who have been relinquished to shelters poses unique challenges and rewards. Because this is often a forgotten or neglected group of animals, their problems can be myriad. Many are old, some have chronic illnesses, most are malnourished and they all are susceptible to disease. Parvoviral enteritis is one challenge that can [...]

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    It’s a strange time of year to be talking about skin cancer, but… I noticed a funny spot on my cat’s eye the other day. Chewy had some weeping from that eye of late, but the fields were being cut, the leaves were falling- generating mold, the windows were closed, stifling the air. I convinced myself that allergies were the reason for the discharge. Besides, it was a clear [...]

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    Just hearing the forecast of more snow makes my joints ache! I have been trudging through narrow corridors of self compressed snow up and down my lane to my nearly abandoned car. I have been shoveling for what seems like weeks. Gone are the days when my yellow lab Bosun and I could walk effortlessly to the mailbox. With the snow’s depth over my knees and virtually over his head, Bosun is [...]

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    A few weeks ago, I fielded a call from a good client in Rock Hall. She said her elderly dog was acting oddly and wasn’t sure what the problem was. Her dog panted and paced through the house all day, seemingly unable to settle and be comfortable. My client was unsure if her dog was in pain, was anxious or if something else was going wrong. I was pretty sure I knew what was happening-senile [...]

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    This is the time of year when new puppies or kittens appear as Christmas gifts. Pet stores are stocked with adorable animals to bring home to eager children. Sometimes the new addition is well planned and researched. Other times, the acquisition is a spur of the moment purchase. In an effort to be sure a new pet is right for your family, consider what breed, age or sex of the pet is appropriate. [...]

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