• Q: I was so excited for the warm weather so that I could take my dog to the park again, but now he seems to be scratching excessively. Any obvious reasons for this?

    A: Springtime! We are all itching to get outside. The problem is, in the spring, your pet may be itching because he or she WENT outside.  Let me explain. In the spring the trees are budding, the grass is growing, the flowers are blooming, and dogs are rolling! Many of these long-awaited beauties of nature can bring with them pollens, and loads of them! People tend to sneeze, cough, have watery eyes and feel miserable if they are irritated by pollens. Dogs especially tend to itch if they are sensitive to the environment. The sensitivity can lead to inflammation (redness of the skin) lesions (sore areas) and possible secondary infections caused by bacteria or yeast.
     
    There are many other causes of skin irritation in dogs so we must be careful not to blame all itching on the environment. Parasites like fleas or mites such as demodex or scabies can cause intense scratching behavior in dogs and cats. If an animal has a hypersensitivity to a certain food, this may cause itching as well. Often the pet may be sensitive to one or more things. Your dog may even be allergic to you! Don’t take it personally, pets can be allergic to us just as we can be allergic to them.
     
    What can be done about your itching dog? First please take your pet to your veterinarian. The doctor will need to make sure your dog does not have an external parasite. He or she will check for mites by performing a simple test called a skin scraping,  and may also do cytology on the skin. This test looks for yeast or bacteria on the surface of your pet’s skin. After these diagnostic steps your dog’s vet will make treatment recommendations, which may include topical treatments such as shampoos and anti-itch conditioners. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are prescribed more frequently and are  a great supplement to your dog’s diet. A different food may also be recommended.  There are exciting new products to stop itch in its tracks. Your veterinarian can discuss these options with you.
     
    Most of all you need to have patience. Dermatological issues are not always easy to solve. Itching is very uncomfortable for the pet, aggravating to the owner because the incessant chewing and licking can keep the family awake at night and it can be frustrating for the veterinarian who is trying his or her best to get to the bottom of the itch. Work together with your pet’s veterinarian, be patient and be positive.
     
    Please call your veterinarian if you have other questions regarding an itchy pet. This article has only scratched the surface!

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animals Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-8133.

  • Q: I lost my 6 month old kitten to a disease called FIP. What causes FIP and is there a way to prevent it?

    A: Firstly, I am so sorry for your loss.  Losing a pet is so difficult and can be especially traumatic when it is so unexpected (as in the case with such a young kitten).
     
    FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is a fatal viral disease caused by enteric coronavirus. Coronavirus is prevalent in 80% of cats and generally causes no symptoms to mild self-resolving diarrhea.  Kittens and cats succumb to FIP when the coronavirus mutates and causes the body's immune system to start producing immunologic proteins and a type of white blood cells called macrophages.  This results in the formation of granulomas in organs and fluid buildup in the body cavities.  There are 2 forms of FIP; the dry form being a result of organ damage from granuloma formation and the wet form causing the buildup of fluid in the abdomen and chest.  
     
    There is unfortunately no pre-testing for FIP because we do not know which cats with coronavirus will mutate and which ones will not.  Generally, stress, crowding and lowered immune system can trigger the mutation and overactive immune response.  Littermates and housemates of FIP cats do not always get infected.  They may be exposed to the coronavirus but does not mean they will get sick.  FIP occurs in about 5% of the kitten population. In multiple cat environments, keeping cats as healthy as possible decreases the likelihood of spreading the disease. Litter boxes should be kept clean and located away from food and water dishes. Preventing overcrowding, and keeping cats current on vaccinations, can also help decrease the occurrence of FIP in groups of cats.
     

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-81333.

  • Q: Dr. Young, though it isn’t time to even think about euthanizing my pet, I worry about it. Could you give me a few of your views on the subject?

    A: Euthanasia is a very important, albeit difficult, topic to discuss. I am more than willing to share some of my views with you.

    Making the decision to end a pet’s life is one that as a doctor I take very, very seriously. As a veterinarian, I took an oath to relieve pain and suffering. I believe in euthanasia when it is appropriate. Many times relieving pain and suffering may be done with surgical or medical intervention. If your pet is in uncontrollable pain, has an untreatable or aggressive, terminal disease I can help by liberating your pet from its discomfort with euthanasia if it is in the best interest of the individual patient. Sometimes euthanasia is inevitable. It is ultimately the decision of the owner but please realize that veterinarians have the right to refuse to euthanize an animal. Don’t ask me to end the life of your cat or dog or bunny or bird because the apartment complex you are choosing to move to has a “No Pets” policy. I won’t do it. Don’t ask me to euthanize your dog when he destroyed your couch because you are never home, I won’t do it. I hope that you will find a solution to help the animal that you have made a commitment to care for.

    Please know that we, as doctors, suffer when ending a life. Euthanizing a patient weighs heavily on the entire staff from the front of the hospital to the back of the hospital and all of the staff in between. Even the hospital animals feel it! You may or may not see us cry but our hearts are sad. You may or may not see our pain, when your pet passes but the pain is there. Sometimes we carry that pain with us for days or weeks when a beloved patient passes.

    I try to approach each euthanasia with compassion and understanding for the pet and for the family. My goal is to gently help the pet to pass in a painless and dignified manner. Please, if you need to talk with members of the medical team before, or after euthanasia feel free to do so. We are here to help and to answer any questions you may have about any part of the process. We understand the difficulty in decision making and the grief that follows. Let us help you.

    A life is a very precious thing and though it may be ending, it can be treasured forever.

    If you find yourself facing this incredibly difficult decision, reach out the Animals Hospitals at Bideawee.

  • Q: Is there a proper way to pet your dog or cat?

    A: Believe it or not, as the parent of a dog or cat, petting or “rubbing them the wrong way” may actually be helpful!

    Gently rubbing the hair coat from tail to head is the opposite direction of how we normally pet our animals. A pet’s hair lies in one direction generally. By moving the hair against the natural flow, it is much easier to visualize what is going on at the level of the skin beneath the coat.

    Starting at the tail, gently move your hand against your pet’s coat. Is there redness or irritation? Is the skin wet or damp? This could indicate that your pet has been chewing at himself. Continue moving the hair all the way up your pet’s back to the neck area. Even if your pet’s hair coat is black, the skin beneath should be lighter if it’s not inflamed. You will be able to compare normal skin vs. reddened areas. On dogs, fleas like to reside on the rump near the tail. If you see redness or see your dog biting by their tail, it may be fleas bothering them. Pet stores sell a small plastic comb that is a great help in finding fleas. It’s called a flea comb. Genius! The teeth of the comb are set close together. When combing through your pet’s coat, if there are fleas, they will stick in the teeth of the comb. At times you may not always find a live flea. It is also possible to find debris in the comb called “flea dirt”. After combing your dog or cat, if there are specks of black dirt in the flea comb, wipe the comb on a damp paper towel. If the “dirt” turns red-you have a diagnosis! Your pet has fleas! Why did the dirt turn red? Fleas ingest a blood meal while on your pet. After they eat the blood they leave their calling card on your animal. “Flea dirt” is a polite way of saying flea poo. Unlike dogs, where fleas prefer the tail area, fleas on cats tend to like to hang out near the head. You may see a flea near the ears on your cat where the hair is sparse.

    Looking closely at your pet’s skin can help to identify ticks as well. Don’t forget to check under your pet’s neck and on the tummy. While your dog is getting his nightly belly rub, take this time to see that his skin is normal and free of ticks and fleas.

    Checking your pet’s hair and skin often will help you to readily identify anything unusual. Is there a bump or a growth that was not there last week? Does the skin seem red or discolored in any way? Are there flakey or crusty areas on the skin? These findings may be a sign of possible infection of the skin. Any bumps or lumps should be checked by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

    If you believe your pet has fleas or ticks or a problem with his/her skin, please seek the advice of your veterinary medical team as soon as possible. There are many products available for sale without prescriptions but they may not all be safe for your pet. Please allow your pet’s doctor to diagnose any skin condition before treating your furry family member yourself.

    “Rubbing your pet the wrong way” can alert you to any issues that may need attention. If you discover any abnormalities, call 866-262-8133 and schedule your appointment at the Animals Hospitals at Bideawee today.

  • Q: I’ve recently noticed how many online pharmacies are selling preventatives and other pet medications at what are advertised as discounted rates. Are they reliable? Are the drugs trustworthy?

    A: It's true that online pharmacies seem to provide preventatives and medications at a slightly discounted price; however, we are still unsure of their legitimacy. Over the past decade, online pharmacies have been involved in multiple lawsuits with alleged claims of fraud. These lawsuits are public knowledge. We still do not know with 100% certainty whether these pharmacies are getting their medications from United States FDA approved pharmaceutical companies.

    What we do know, however, is that the drugs that are sold by your licensed veterinarian are FDA approved. Also known is that pharmaceutical companies WILL NOT back up their product if the item was purchased at an online pharmacy, leaving you much more vulnerable than if you had purchased the product from your veterinarian. If you have questions or concerns regarding any preventatives for heartworm or fleas, or would like to ask questions about the medicines your pet currently takes or needs to take, please speak directly with your veterinarian. You veterinarian knows your pets and has the knowledge, expertise and ongoing relationship with your animal to give them the best care possible.

    The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee stand by our products, and will always put the safety and well-being of your pets first. To make an appointment at The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee, please call 866-262-8133.

  • Q: My cat is scratching at my new couch. Should I have him declawed?

    A: It is not necessary to declaw your cat. There are things that you can do to keep him from destroying your furniture.

    Your cat’s actions are normal behavior. He is stretching, toning up, leaving his scent and keeping his nails healthy. He is doing something that comes naturally to him. You need to provide scratching posts as an alternative to your couch.

    Scratching posts are found in pet stores and other shops that carry pet products. They come in various sizes and materials. You can try different ones and place them where he has been scratching. Other good spots would be near his sleeping and eating areas because a cat likes to stretch after he wakes up and after eating. There are also “trees” that are tall wooden structures covered in carpet with one or two shelves for the cat to lie on, feel safe, and overlook his environment.

    Pet shops sell double-sided clear tape that you apply to the vertical ends of the couch where he is scratching. He will not like the feel of the tape and it is barely visible so it is not noticeable. Cats don’t like to step on aluminum foil. You can put it down on the floor next to your couch for a few days to discourage him. If you catch him scratching at the furniture gently remove him and bring him to his scratching post.

    A cat’s claw is attached to one the bones of his toe. Declawing involves the amputation of this bone. It is equivalent to removing your fingertip at the joint. This surgery should only be done for medical reasons.

    He will learn to use his scratching posts. You will save your furniture and enrich his environment!


    If you have questions related to your pet’s health, contact the Animals Hospitals at Bideawee by calling 866-262-81333, and speak with a trusted veterinarian who can help.

  • Q: I have been using a topical medication to help prevent my dog from getting ticks but it is not working. What would you recommend for better tick prevention? I'm afraid she will get Lyme disease.

    A: Flea and tick control has come a long way. There are many options and products available for pet-owners nowadays. It is important to prevent ticks from attaching to your dog because of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis.

    Lyme disease in dogs can cause lameness (joint pain), kidney and even heart problems. Many dogs in New York who test positive for Lyme also have co-infections with Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis. These tick-borne diseases can cause clotting issues.

    In tick endemic areas, I always recommend that dogs are protected with 2 forms of tick control. The first would be monthly Frontline (topical flea/tick medication) or monthly Nexgard (an oral flea/tick medication), and additionally, they should use a tick collar (Preventic collar or Scalibor collar) as an added precaution.

    If you notice a tick on your dog, remove it immediately and make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss next steps. Some veterinarians will choose to treat right away with antibiotics and some will test for tick-borne diseases in a couple of weeks. Regardless of the approach, Lyme disease is a serious matter and it’s important that you seek immediate attention for your pet if you suspect they have bitten by a tick.

    Learn more about The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee and make an appointment today by calling 866-262-81333.

  • Q: I recently found out that one of my cats, Charlie, has FIV. I have 2 other cats at home. They have all been together for over a year. Does this mean that my other cats will get it, too?

    A:  FIV is a virus that is transmitted to another cat by a deep bite. Unneutered male cats that are outside fighting are most at risk. Unlike other viruses, it cannot be transmitted through casual contact. It is not a hardy virus and does not live long in the environment.

    There is no cure for FIV but many infected cats can remain asymptomatic and live for many years. However, the virus can suppress the immune system and make it difficult for an infected cat to fight illnesses. FIV positive cats are susceptible to chronic infections, including dental disease, upper respiratory infections, chronic diarrhea and eye problems. Some cats become progressively ill but many have relatively healthy periods interspersed with episodes of illness.

    Charlie should be neutered, kept indoors and not allowed to go outside where he could be exposed to disease and injury. It is important to keep him as healthy as possible through good nutrition, keeping his environment stress- free and taking him to his veterinarian every 6 months.

    You should have your other cats tested. You can try to separate your cats to prevent transmission of the virus. However, if your cats get along and do not fight then there is a very little risk of catching FIV. Do not introduce any new cats into your home as this can upset cats and cause them to start fighting.

    There is a vaccine against FIV but it is controversial and not routinely given to cats because there is no way to distinguish a vaccinated cat from an infected one. They will both test positive on the FIV test. You can discuss this, and other options with your veterinarian and they can help you decide the best way to keep your cat family happy and healthy.

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-81333.

  • Q: My dog, Missy, is terrified of thunderstorms. She will hide, tremble and whine until the storm passes. Last night we were up most of the night trying to calm her down. Is there anything we can do?

    A: It sounds like Missy has a storm or noise phobia. You should bring her to your veterinarian. She will perform a physical exam, get a thorough history and take blood for a baseline. Behavior issues usually require a multimodal approach which includes medications and a behavior modification plan.
     
    While it is understandable that you want to comfort her, you must be careful not to give her more attention during a storm and inadvertently encourage the undesirable behavior.
    There are things that you can do to make her more comfortable. Keep her in a room without windows or draw the curtains to keep out lightning flashes. Play soft music or white noise. Use plug-in diffusers that emit pheromones or lavender aromatherapy oils. Even ear plugs or ear muffs can sometimes help.  A chew toy will give her something to do and distract her.
     
    During a storm, many dogs will look for a confined space: behind the couch, under the bed or in the bathtub. Pet stores carry thundershirts that may help. They are vests that wrap snugly around your dog’s chest to make her feel more secure.  Missy may need prescription medications to get her through a storm.  Your veterinarian can prescribe a tranquilizer or an anti-anxiety medication to keep her calm.  If Missy has other additional behavior problems or anxiety issues, she may require long-term, daily medications and a behavior modification program carried out over a long period of time.  Your veterinarian can help you determine the best course of action to ensure Missy’s safety and comfort.

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animals Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling Manhattan: 212-532-5884 or Westhampton: 631-325-0280.

  • Q: The shelter where I adopted my kitten recently had a ringworm outbreak. They believe that my kitten is healthy but I’m still concerned. What exactly is ringworm?

    A: Ringworm is a fungus that can live in the soil and can survive in the environment or on the coats of animals. The fungus is called a dermatophyte, thus the scientific name of the infection is dermatophytosis. There are different species of fungi that can cause skin disease in both animals and humans. In cats, this can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. When humans are affected they often have a red, scaly, circular (ring) on the skin, hence the name “ringworm”.

    Young puppies and kittens are more susceptible to these infections and young, elderly or people with a compromised immune system are more likely to get an infection if exposed to dermatophytes. Infection can result from direct contact with an animal with the infection (symptomatic) or contact with an animal carrying the spores but not exhibiting any signs of the disease (asymptomatic carrier).

    If you suspect that your pet may have ringworm, please make an appointment with your cat’s doctor right away. The vet may do several tests. The doctor can use a special black light to look for fluorescence of the hairs around the skin lesion. Certain species of dermatophytes will glow under a black light. The veterinarian may also brush your cat’s coat with a toothbrush and place those hairs on a special culture medium. The culture will be monitored for 10 days and if there is growth your cat may have ringworm. A newer and third test is called a PCR. This test detects DNA from fungi that can cause ringworm in pets.

    If your kitty is confirmed positive, the treatment will most likely consist of an oral antifungal medication and a medicated shampoos and/or dip. The veterinarian will also speak to you about cleaning the environment at home to help kill any spores and to help to prevent further infections. While ringworm can be a headache, the condition is very treatable. With early diagnosis and treatment, both pets and people make a full recovery.

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animals Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-8133.

  • Q: My husband likes to share his muffin with our dog at breakfast. Is this OK?

    A: It really depends on what is in the muffin. As a general rule, the best food to feed your dog is a high-quality dog food that is tailored to their age, health and needs. While there are people foods that are healthy for dogs, there are also many that can be harmful and even potentially life-threatening. There is an artificial sweetener called xylitol that is toxic to dogs. It is found in some baked goods, candy and sugarless gum. Xylitol causes dangerously low blood sugar. If your pet consumes enough of the substance it could lead to seizures, liver failure and even death.

    Other foods toxic to dogs are grapes, raisins, onions, avocados and chocolate. People food can cause your pet to take in too many calories and gain too much weight. Many dogs cannot tolerate a lot of people food. It can cause gastroenteritis. Fatty foods like sausage can trigger pancreatitis. Milk can give your pet diarrhea.

    Not all people food is bad. Sometimes, your veterinarian may recommend it. Boiled white rice flavored with a small amount of boiled chicken or lean hamburger meat is often prescribed for diarrhea. If your dog is overweight, you can give baby carrots as a treat. They are low in calories and safe to eat.

    Diets made specifically for dogs ensure that they are receiving a properly balanced meal. There are many different dog foods in the store. Make sure you choose one that is for your pet’s life stage. There is no diet that is good for all life stages! A puppy or a kitten has different needs than an adult dog or a geriatric cat. It is also important to choose a food for your dog’s size. Large breed puppies have different requirements than a toy breed. The best way to make sure that your pet’s diet is right for them is to check with your veterinarian.

    If you have questions related to your pet’s diet, or about their health in general, contact the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee Animals Hospitals at Bideawee by calling 866-262-81333, and speak with a trusted veterinarian who can help.

  • Q: Do I need to use flea and tick products on my pets during the winter months?

    A: Yes, it is wise to keep your pets on their flea and tick preventative medications all year round. The immature life stages of these pests can resist colder temperatures and survive during the winter.

    Only the adult forms feed on your pet but they can easily take up residence in your home, basement and outdoor areas. Even indoor cats can become flea infested. Fleas jump and can find their way to your doors and windows. Ticks can be found on bushes and under leaves. They can hitch a ride on people and dogs.

    Fleas and ticks can be very irritating, causing your pets to scratch and bite at their skin. Frequently, this leads to skin rashes and hair loss. Very young animals can become anemic.

    Many diseases can be transmitted by fleas and ticks. Lyme, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are some of the tick borne diseases. Bartonellosis can be transmitted by a flea or a tick. These diseases are also a threat to people.

    Fleas can harbor an intestinal tape worm which can infect your pet if it eats it. This happens to cats when they groom themselves and swallow the flea.

    Talk to your veterinarian about the various preventative products available. For cats, there are liquids applied to the back of the neck once a month or collars. It is very important to use only products labeled for cats.

    For dogs, we also now have safe and convenient oral flea and tick medications that are available only by prescription. A flavored monthly pill is all that is needed to control these parasites and keep your dog and family healthy! 

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-81333.

  • Q: Help!! My cat is getting overweight and I am concerned for his health. He does not move around very much all day. Despite putting him on a diet dry food, he has still not lost any weight at all. I'm worried.

    A: Indoor cats on a dry food diet have the propensity to gain a lot of weight. This is because there are a lot of carbohydrates in dry cat food. Cats are carnivores, so they really do not need carbohydrates as an energy source. They process proteins in their diet for energy.

    In order for indoor cats to lose weight, I always recommend switching them to an exclusively canned food diet. One or one and a half 6 oz canned food split into 2-3 feedings daily will help cats lose weight. Do not put out any dry food at all. If your cat will not eat canned food, then decreasing the amount of dry food by consulting with your veterinarian is the way to go. Canned food is mostly water and protein which will help to restore the correct metabolism in your cat and enables them to lose weight more effectively.

    Never allow an overweight cat to go days without eating anything. This is very damaging to a cat's liver and can make them very sick. Introduce new foods slowly and transition over a week or so.

    Fifteen minutes of activity every day will also help. Play with your cat for 15 minutes a day using a bird toy or simply getting them to move around. Cats should lose weight slowly over months, not weeks. Work with your veterinarian to discuss diet changes and close monitoring of weight loss.

    Learn more about The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee and make an appointment today by calling 866-262-81333.

  • Q: My veterinarian is telling me that I need to have several of my cat’s teeth extracted. Is this really necessary?

    A: Unfortunately, much like humans, our canine and feline companions can also develop dental disease. Humans generally brush and floss their teeth a few times a day, but the majority of us still need routine dental cleanings every six months. Our dogs and cats, on the other hand, have much smaller teeth (harder to clean) and are generally not having their teeth brushed twice a day.

    Dogs have 42 adult teeth and cats have 30. Because most pet parents tend to be lax when it comes to dental health, the level of tartar buildup and subsequent decay that comes with age can be significant. Bacteria can get into the gums, settle into the bone cavity, and start to eat away at the bone in the jaw. When this happens, the best recourse to prevent prolonged pain and further damage is to extract the teeth. We are often more amazed when an animal’s teeth remain intact, then we are when they fall out on their own. One might be surprised to find out that by the time a small dog or cat is 5 to 7 years old, some teeth have already started to decay or have fallen out.

    Your veterinarian will always recommend a dental because it is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your pet’s teeth healthy. It’s also important to remember that diseases of the heart, the kidneys and other organs in the body are tied into dental decay.

    Extraction isn’t a first resort but sometimes it is absolutely necessary. A good veterinarian will always present the best treatment options for your four-legged loved ones and when in doubt, never hesitate to ask questions. The health of your four-legged friends is worth the time and effort.

    In honor of Pet Dental Health Month, The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee are offering $50 off cleanings in February (and March) at their Manhattan and Westhampton locations.

    Contact the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee and make an appointment today by calling 866-262-81333.

  • Q: Should I purchase pet insurance for my dog or cat?

    A: The quick answer is yes.  I believe it is important that our pets are covered for accidents and sudden illnesses so that as pet-parents, we are not caught completely off guard when these experiences occur.  This coverage will prevent us from having to make life-or-death decisions based on our financial situation.  Some pet insurance companies also cover routine wellness care, which is essential to the well-being of your pets.
    There are many pet insurance companies out there and it is prudent to do some research and comparison prior to purchasing a plan.  In addition to reviewing premiums and deductibles, it’s important to understand which conditions are covered and which are not.  Most pre-existing conditions are not covered.  Many insurance companies do not cover preventable diseases (those that vaccines can prevent), elective procedures (declaw, tail docking, ear cropping, which are also inhumane), congenital problems (diseases that the animal was born with) or behavioral problems.  Additionally, if you travel often with your pet, you may want choose an insurance company that is worldwide.

    Pet insurance is most useful in cases of unexpected illnesses or accidents.  It can help offset a large part, if not all, of your pet’s veterinary care bill.  Learn more about pet insurance.

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-81333.

  • Q: I live in a big city. Do I really need flea control, heartworm prevention and other parasite control drugs?

    A: Conventional wisdom may lead us to believe that fleas, ticks and other parasites are a countryside problem, but this is not, in fact, the case.

    Parasites are everywhere. Nowadays, as people travel more and more with their pets, we are seeing parasitic infestations in the least likely places. One example is Heartworm infection, a disease transmitted by mosquito bites, that while initially prevalent in warmer climates like Florida, has traveled north with all the snowbirds each spring, and now affects pets nationwide.

    Many people who live in colder climates assume that cold temperatures stave off parasites. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and common intestinal worms like Roundworm and Hookworm, which are spread through feces and can be transmitted to humans, harbor eggs that do not die with each freeze. Fleas and ticks can also survive freezing temperatures and it’s important to remember that these parasites present a danger to YOU and your pets.

    It’s virtually impossible to keep these parasites at bay, but you can ensure that your pets are protected against them. There are many preventative treatments that can keep your pets free from these parasites and the long-term damage they can cause. Remember, it’s always much easier to prevent these illnesses from occurring than it is to treat them once your pet has become infected. Learn more about the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee and get your pet started on preventatives today, by calling 866-262-8133.

  • Q: What is Leptospirosis? My friend’s dog became very ill when they went camping and he almost died. I have never heard of this. Can my dog get it? We don’t go camping but we do take our dogs to the park.

    A: Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is carried by wildlife, rodents and raccoons.  Our dogs can become infected if they come in contact with the urine of an infected animal. The organism can thrive in wet soil, puddles and ponds. There is a higher prevalence of the disease in the late summer and autumn.   Leptospirosis causes kidney and liver failure. Symptoms include lethargy, increased thirst, vomiting, and dehydration. It can be diagnosed with specific blood tests.  Treatment usually requires hospitalization for intravenous fluids, antibiotics and anti-nausea medications. If left untreated Leptospirosis can be fatal.  The bacteria are classified into different subgroups called serovars. There is a vaccine against four of the most common serovars of Leptospirosis. The very first time the vaccine is administered it needs to be repeated 3-4 weeks later and then it is given once a year. You should discuss with your veterinarian if your pet should be vaccinated against this disease.  You can take precautions against Leptospirosis by preventing your pet from drinking water out of puddles and stagnant water. Always try to bring along some fresh water for your pet to drink if you are taking a long walk to keep them hydrated and dissuade them from drinking dirty water.

    To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animals Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-8133.

  • Q: I noticed that my cat, Georgie, is shaking his head and scratching at his ears. He seems OK otherwise, should I be concerned?

    A: You should bring Georgie to your veterinarian for an exam. Georgie is shaking and scratching because he is uncomfortable. He may have a problem with his ears and need medical treatment. The vet will look in Georgie’s ears with an otoscope to see if they can visualize the problem. They will note if there is swelling, redness, infection, or masses present.

    At the exam, cotton swabs of any crusts, fluid or unusual material present in the ear canal are obtained and the collected samples are placed on 2 glass slides to be examined under the microscope. On the first slide, the sample is mixed with mineral oil to check for parasites. On the other slide, the swab is thinly smeared on the glass and the sample is then stained and dried to check for bacteria, yeast and inflammatory cells.

    You did not mention Georgie’s age but kittens can sometimes get Otodectic mange which is caused by a mite. This parasite causes intense itching and many kittens will have skin lesions and hair loss in and around their ears. These mites are easily visualized under the microscope. This condition can be treated with a topical anti-parasitic medication.

    A bacterial or yeast infection requires topical and sometimes oral antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory medications. This usually takes at least 1-2 weeks of daily treatment. Your veterinarian team will show you how to apply the medications. It is important to follow up with a recheck visit to ensure the problem is resolved.

    Cats can sometimes have masses in their ears. In this case, the vet will try to obtain a fine needle aspirate to put on a slide and send to a medical lab for a pathology review. Sometimes surgery under general anesthesia is needed to remove and biopsy a mass.

    Your veterinarian will diagnose Georgie’s problem and formulate a medical plan to keep him healthy and happy.

    Be proactive about your pet’s health by making an appointment at the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee today. You can call 866-262-8133 to schedule your appointment in Manhattan or Westhampton.

  • Q: One of my dogs, Tiny, has very bad breath. Is there something I can do to make it smell better? He is a 4 year old miniature poodle.

    A: You should bring Tiny to your veterinarian for a complete medical exam to determine the reason for his bad breath.

    The most common cause of bad breath is dental disease. Small breed dogs are very susceptible to tartar build-up, gingivitis and tooth decay. This could become a source of infection and affect his heart and kidneys.

    Frequently owners are not aware that their pet has dental disease and mouth pain. Your veterinarian can determine if Tiny will need to have a dental cleaning under general anesthesia. He may also need to have teeth extracted.

    It is important to take your pets to your veterinarian every year for annual wellness visits. Having your pet’s mouth and teeth examined are an important part of a comprehensive exam.

    Dental disease can be prevented by cleaning your dog’s teeth every day and a good veterinary team can show you how to do this. Always remember that you should never use “people” toothpaste because it’s meant to be spit out, and should not be given to pets. There are safe products made specifically for dogs and cats. To learn more about your pet’s dental health, visit the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee or call 866-262-8133 to schedule a wellness or dental exam with Bideawee’s team of veterinarians.

  • Q: At my cat’s last annual visit my veterinarian told me I should feed her wet food. “Callie” will only eat dry food. I leave her food out and she eats it during the day. What should I do?

    A: You are a very responsible pet owner to bring your cat in for her wellness visits every year. It is very important to bring our pets in every year for health checkups.

    Dry diets are very high in carbohydrates and calories. Cats were originally desert animals that were used to getting their water from food. They tend not to drink enough and this can cause kidney problems and bladder stones. Overweight cats are prone to diabetes and joint issues.

    It is very important that your cat eats every day. Overweight cats can develop a liver condition and become severely anemic if they stop eating for a few days. Make sure your cat does not lose weight when you are changing her diet. Cats can be very resistant to dietary changes but it can be done with patience.

    It makes it easier to change the diet if you first get her on a regular eating schedule. Try feeding Callie her dry diet twice a day. Start putting down fresh dry food for each meal and gradually cut back on the food that you are giving her all day long. Leave the food for 20-30 minutes. Pick up and discard any food that is left in the dish.

    After she is in the routine of eating her meals twice a day you can start to introduce a little of the wet diet to her in a separate dish near her dry food. She should have an appetite at her scheduled meals and be more likely to eat what is in front of her. Eventually she will start to eat the new food. Gradually switch from dry to wet over 4-5 days.

    If your pet is due for a checkup or you would like to discuss your pet’s health with one of Bideawee’s veterinarians, visit the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee or call 866-262-8133.

  • Q: I’m pretty sure my dog has a tumor on his left side a bit above his right leg. He is also peeing in the house and occasionally, I see blood in his urine. My question is, how much would it cost to have it removed and do you think the urination issues are related to the tumor?

    A: I am so sorry to hear that your dog is not feeling well. I would like to answer your questions online at this time and perhaps by doing so we may help other pet owners.

    Your dog has a tumor on his leg and you were wondering how much it would cost to remove it. First an exam must be done so the growth may be assessed. Your veterinarian will want to know how long the growth has been on the animal and the behavior of the mass. Is it a fast growing lump or has your dog had it for years with no change? Is it ulcerated or bleeding or painful? Sometimes we are able to get a tiny sample of the growth with a needle and syringe. This is called a fine needle aspirate. This sample can then be sent to a veterinary pathologist who can hopefully diagnose the growth. This will help your veterinarian to know if it is cancer or a benign mass that may not need to be removed. Once we have a diagnosis, then we can give you an estimate for the surgery. I hope that this helps.

    You also mentioned that your dog is urinating blood and is urinating excessively. Both of these symptoms can be caused by very serious illness. Blood in the urine is never ever normal and must be addressed quickly. Possible causes include a urinary tract infection caused by bacteria or even a growth in the bladder causing irritation. Both of these conditions can cause severe inflammation in the bladder resulting in blood in the urine. Urinating in excess can also be very serious. A dog with diabetes or kidney disease will urinate a lot because they are drinking too much water in response to their condition. There are other causes also so it is important to get your pet in for an exam as soon as possible. Your vet will want to check a urine sample as well as a blood sample to look for some of the causes that I have mentioned here.

    I hope that all is well with your pet and that you’ve had your questions answered sufficiently. Thank you for reaching out to Bideawee!

    ***Please note that because of the serious nature of this question, Bideawee immediately reached out to the pet owner and urged him to seek immediate medical attention.

    If you suspect that your pet requires immediate medical attention, schedule an appointment with the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee or call 866-262-8133.

  • Q: I’ve recently adopted a pet. This is my first time as a pet parent and I want to find a good veterinarian to take care of her. What things should I look for in a veterinary practice and in a Doctor?

    A: Hello and congratulations! Thank you for adopting a pet that needed a home.

    You’ve asked an excellent question. Finding a health care provider for family members is something most of us take very seriously. As your pet is a part of your family, it is important to find a doctor that you can feel comfortable with through your animal’s life stages.

    First impressions are a great help. When you arrive at the veterinary hospital is the atmosphere inviting, inside and out? Is the front of the building well kept? When you enter are you greeted by a friendly staff and is it clean? If the reception area is messy, unkempt and dirty, then it is possible that the treatment and surgery areas may be dirty as well and the public may not see these areas. Ask for a tour of the hospital! A good hospital will invite tours if they are proud of their workplace.

    The appearance of the staff is also important. They should be dressed professionally and well groomed. The doctor should be knowledgeable and have good communication skills. The entire staff should pay attention to your pet and also make him or her feel relaxed. Knowing that the healthcare team cares about your pet can mean a lot. It is also of the utmost importance that you feel comfortable having a dialogue with your doctor regarding your loved one’s health.

    Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, trust your instincts. Having a first good impression and seeing that your pet is comfortable is a terrific start to a great relationship with a veterinary practice.

    Best of luck to you in your search for the perfect fit for your pet’s health care needs. We would love to meet your new friend at one of the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee. To find out more about how the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee serve the health care needs of pets throughout metro New York stop into the locations in Manhattan or Westhampton or visit them online. If you’d like to schedule an appointment call 866-262-8133 and speak with one of our associates.

  • Q: At what age is your pet considered a senior?

    A: Veterinary medicine has rapidly evolved over the last 30 years. The field has advanced in a number of technological ways, and as a result, diseases, and how they develop are much more readily understood by veterinarians. Additionally, pet parents are more knowledgeable than ever when it comes to diet, and basic health care and all these factors contribute to our pets leading healthier and longer lives.

    Years ago, it was perfectly common to share your life with a pet until the time came where your companion peacefully passed away in the home. Today, however, it is much more common to get regular checkups at the vet, follow up on any disturbing behaviors, and pay close attention to our animals as they age. Cats are generally considered seniors between the ages of 8-10 years old, depending on the breed and often exhibit signs of aging by that point. The majority of dogs are considered seniors between the ages of 7-9, but certain larger breeds are considered seniors as early as five or six years of age. The most important thing you can do to ensure your pet’s vitality is to bring them in for an annual checkup. Once your veterinarian has confirmed your pet’s senior status, an exam is recommended every 6 months.

    Cats and dogs are stoic animals. You may not know that they are ill until they have been that way for quite some time. Bringing your pets in for regular checkups helps to identify health issues at their earliest stages, and gives your pet the best opportunity to enjoy his or her golden years by your side, where they belong.

    Visit the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee to learn about how Bideawee can care for your senior pet make or call 866-262-8133 to make an appointment today.

  • Q: How do I know if my pet is in pain?

    A: Many people call their veterinarian to inquire about whether or not certain symptoms and behaviors indicate pain in their pets. They want to know if the pet will cry, wail, limp on the leg that hurts, or clearly exhibit discomfort in some discernible way. While the aforementioned are all obvious indicators of a pet in pain, it might be surprising to learn that such indicators are often a rare event.

    Pain can be exhibited in multiple ways in a dog or cat and it’s important to watch your pet’s behavior closely. When dogs are in pain, they may come to your side and ask for affection in a way that is unusual. Cats may sit against your side on the couch and snuggle up. Pets may be restless and move around excessively. If this is not normal activity in the daily routine of your pet, these actions may indicate pain. Alternatively, they may do the exact opposite. For instance, some pets may hide and cower in the corner or not get up from their sleeping place for extended periods of time.

    Occasionally, dogs and cats show pain by refusing food. Sometimes this can be an indicator of dental disease. When there is a cavity or an abscess (pocket of pus above the gum line), it can be extremely painful. Pets will not necessarily cry or come to you but they may stop eating dry food.

    Facial expressions and grimacing can be symptoms of pain. Dogs and cats may bite even if they have never shown the slightest tendency toward aggressive behavior in the past. They may also bite, lick or excessively groom themselves in areas of the body that may hurt, indicating pain.

    Pain can be difficult to detect in pets, and sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution. If there is a major change in your pet’s daily behaviors or if they are exhibiting unusual patterns that your gut tells you is not right, have them checked by a veterinarian. When it comes to our loved ones, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

    To learn more about how you can provide optimal care for your pet, visit the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee or call 866-262-8133.

  • Q: My dog, Buddy, is 6 years old and weighs 85 lbs. We adopted him from the shelter and he looks like a black Labrador Retriever. My daughter says he weighs too much. I say he is just a big dog. Who is right?

    A: Good for you for adopting Buddy and giving him a loving home. He is definitely a big dog, but he may also be overweight. We really can’t be sure of his breed and Labs are known for having very hearty appetites. He could have genes from dogs of various pedigrees and sizes. It is always fun guessing their heritage.

    Buddy should be examined by your veterinarian to determine his body condition. This is based on his general appearance, body fat, muscles, and bone structure. If he is overweight blood work may be ordered to make sure there is not an underlying medical issue such as hypothyroidism.

    Obesity can have serious consequences on your pet’s health. It can make them more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes; cause heart, respiratory and digestive problems and impact their quality of life. The additional weight puts a strain on their backs and joints.

    Just like people, dogs and cats become overweight if they are taking in too many calories and are inactive. Some dogs will only eat what they need to maintain their weight, but most dogs will overeat if given the chance.

    Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate diet and determine the daily amount of food he should be fed. Adult dogs should eat two meals a day. Dogs that only eat once a day can become hungry and start to scavenge food from the garbage can or yard. Some dogs will vomit clear fluid if there are too many hours in between meals.

    Daily exercise is also very important. Play with your dog and take him for walks. It is good for his mental health too! To learn more about how you can provide optimal care for your pet, visit the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee or call 866-262-8133.

  • Q: Can I use an “over-the-counter” human product instead of the one my veterinarian is prescribing for my dog? It would save me some money. - Lucille, Manhattan

    A: This is a very common question. I understand that every little bit helps in this economy. However, it is very important not to give your pet an over-the-counter medication unless directed to do so by your veterinarian! Many products that are safe for humans can be toxic to our pets. For example, products that are flavored with an artificial sweetener called Xylitol cause liver failure in dogs.

    Even if human medications aren’t toxic to your pet, it’s unlikely that you will save money by using these products. Just as veterinary prescription products are specifically formulated for animals, medications intended for use by people are specifically formulated for human consumption and in a vast majority of cases are not effective on our beloved dogs and cats.

    For example, Omega-3 fatty acids are frequently prescribed for different conditions including skin allergies, arthritis, and renal disease. These fatty acids are found in fish oils. However, it is not enough to just list the fish oil on the label. It is important to know the amount of the chemical components and how they were processed and purified. The chemical must be in a form that can be readily absorbed and utilized by your pet.

    The prescription veterinary products have been tested on dogs and cats. There is published research proving that their chemical forms are effective and safe at the doses specified. Your veterinarian has your dog’s best interest in mind when she is prescribing a quality prescription product. It also makes good economic sense to follow her recommendations.

    To learn more about the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Animal-Hospitals or call 866-262-8133.

  • Q: I recently moved here from San Francisco, and obviously brought my 2 babies, a 3 year old Chihuahua mix and a 2 year old Maltipoo with me. I think I need a new prescription for fleas, heartworm and intestinal parasites. They used to go to another hospital where their medical files are and I have a print out of their vaccinations. Do you recommend I bring them in for an exam first or can I just be issued a new prescription?

    A: Yes, you definitely need to make an appointment for your fur babies. It is important that every pet has an annual wellness visit with a veterinarian. Not only is it important for your pet, but the wellness exam is a good time to ask questions you may have about your pet’s health. Many times owners are not aware that their pet has an underlying problem like an ear infection or gingivitis for example. Small and toy breeds are especially prone to dental disease.

    At the annual visit the veterinarian will check your dog’s eyes, ears, mouth, palpate the abdomen and lymph nodes. She will listen to the heart; check the skin for a rash, fleas, lumps or missing fur. She will do a range of motion of the joints, check the spine and also decide if your pet is at the proper weight.

    Once a year, a small amount of blood is drawn for a heartworm test which also checks for exposure to some tick borne diseases. You should bring in a stool sample for a fecal float test which will look for intestinal parasites.

    According to New York State law, a veterinarian cannot write out a prescription or dispense medications for an animal unless there is an established veterinary/client/pet relationship. The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee are open to the public and provide full veterinary medical, dental and surgery services. The type of vaccines and preventative medications are tailored to your pet’s needs and veterinary team will work together with you ensuring that you and your pet receive the very best service and medical care.

    Having the vaccination record is a great start but you should try to get all of the records if possible. It would be helpful to know previous test results, illnesses and treatments. You should contact your previous veterinarian’s office and request that they can fax this information to us before your visit.

    The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee would be happy to make an appointment so that we can meet you and your pets! To learn more about the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Animal-Hospitals or call 866-262-8133.

  • Q: Why do I need to test my dog for heartworm disease every year if I keep her on her heartworm pills every month? - Estelle, Queens

    A: This is an excellent question. I am very happy to hear that you have your dog on a monthly heartworm preventative year round. This shows that you are a responsible pet owner.

    Heartworm is a parasite transmitted by a mosquito bite. It is microscopic but grows into different larval stages during its migration through your dog’s body. It takes 3 to 4 months for it to reach the blood vessels between the heart and lungs. At 6 -7 months it matures into an adult and can reach to 6 to 12 inches. Heartworm disease can cause serious lung damage and heart failure.

    The heartworm pill that you give your dog will not prevent her from being infected with the initial microscopic-sized parasite. It does kill the parasite and is effective against the young, one-month-old larva. This is why you give the pill once a month. The medicine does not stay in your dog’s system more than a day.

    The American Heartworm Society recommends monthly heartworm preventative all year around and testing once a year. Even if you are diligent about giving the medicine it is possible your dog could spit it out when you are not watching, you could forget to give it on time, or the medicine was not 100% effective.

    The test is a simple blood test, quickly and easily performed in the office. It only picks up the presence of an adult female heartworm. This means it will not turn positive unless your dog has been infected for at least 6 months. It is important to diagnose and treat heartworm early in the disease before it has a chance to do a lot of damage. Having your dog tested every year is a smart decision. To protect your dog against heartworm, visit the Animal Hospitals at Bideaweee by calling 866-262-8133.

  • Q: I live in an area of the United States where we have 4 seasons. What kinds of problems do I need to worry about because of these different seasons? - Woody in Boston

    A: Hello and thank you for asking such an excellent question!

    Because it is so hot right now, I’ll start with discussing wintertime to help us cool off!

    Unlike people who have the ability to layer on clothes in the winter to provide warmth, animals have only their hair coat to keep them warm. When walking your dog in the winter use protective clothing especially if you own a short-haired animal. Small dogs can deplete their blood sugar level very quickly simply by shivering in the cold. Small dogs cannot tolerate extreme conditions as well as larger dogs, however all animals are susceptible to harsh environmental conditions. The melting salt used on roadways and sidewalks is a corrosive agent and thus very irritating to pet paws. Be sure to wipe your pal’s paws after walking. If you go for a hike in the snow you must periodically examine your dog’s feet. An accumulation of snow between the toes or on the pads could lead to frostbite. There are protective booties that can help to keep your friend’s feet safe and comfortable.

    In the spring everyone is ready to head outside after a long winter to enjoy some fresh air. Many people find themselves and their pooch with a couple of extra “pooches” around the middle. The first sunny day people tend to hit the outdoors jogging, walking, biking etc. It’s great to get outside and get some exercise, but remember that “Bruiser” has been relaxing for months too and may not be as fit as he is after a few months of robust activity. Don’t make your bulldog go from a couch potato to an Iron Dog triathlete in one day! Your dog needs to begin an exercise regimen slowly. The saying “too much, too fast” is applies to humans and dogs and could cause heat exhaustion, muscle and joint pain if you don’t exercise in moderation the first few times out.

    Spring leads us into summer. Humans are out and about –full throttle having fun in the sun. Camping, boating, barbequing, you name it. Remember it’s summer for your pets too. They need to have plenty of cool fresh water available at all times. Never ever leave them in a car on a warm day-it’s very dangerous. An animal in a hot car can die in minutes. Also take precautions with your pet while boating. Dogs and cats are at risk for drowning just like people. Don’t assume all dogs like the water-they don’t! It can cause them tremendous anxiety to be thrown into a pool or lake if they don’t like it. Dogs love to hang around the barbeque but bones are a no-no and too many picnic handouts can lead to vomiting or diarrhea.

    Summer finally winds down into fall. Enjoy the outdoors as long as possible before the snow flies. Remember ticks, fleas and mosquitoes can be problems year round so don’t let your guard down. Continue to use monthly preventatives as directed by your veterinarian. The fall foliage is gorgeous but those beautiful colors can be loaded with pollen. The same allergens that make us 2-legged critters sneeze can make our 4-legged critters itch and scratch.

    Each of the 4 seasons has something lovely to offer, however; with each season there are preventative measures that need to be taken with your pets. By taking a few precautionary measures as the calendar year passes you’ll be a “well-seasoned” pet owner!

    For more information about your pet’s health, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Animal-Hospitals

  • Q: Doctor, my dog ate a sock!! Will he be ok?

    A: Not necessarily. In the veterinary business we get many calls because a dog or cat has eaten something they shouldn’t have. The old saying “the dog ate my homework” is not only believable, it could be added “the dog ate my brownies, a chocolate bar, a bag of Halloween candy, a loaf of bread or a casserole.” The list of items that an animal may eat inappropriately does not end with food items. The list can include golf balls, bones, shoes, socks, and underwear. Utensils, spoons, forks and yes, even knives have been swallowed. Cats are not innocent-they love to play with and then ingest string, sewing thread, or yarn. When most people see a poster of a kitten playing with a ball of yarn they think “awwwwww……..how cute.” A veterinarian thinks, “uh oh, this may be a surgery!!” Inedible items that an animal eats are known as foreign bodies. If they are small enough, if they are not sharp and if the planets are aligned correctly, the objects may pass through the stomach and intestines and come out in the animal’s feces. However, the item may also cause vomiting and/or diarrhea and blockage of the intestines. If a string is caught in the intestines and can no longer move, the normal contractions of the stomach may cause the string to “saw” back and forth. In the worst case scenario this can cause a hole in the intestines or cause the intestines to bunch up and possibly lose their supply of blood. This is very serious as the pet may die due to infection in the abdomen.

    On occasion, when an owner realizes that a pet has eaten something inappropriate, it may come up if the pet vomits. It is not always good to make the pet vomit. A great deal depends on what your pet swallowed. That is a decision your veterinarian should make. Sometimes a foreign body may be retrieved using an endoscope. An endoscope is a long flexible tube with a camera in it. The camera can be passed into the mouth of an anesthetized animal and lowered into the esophagus and then stomach. Items in the very upper portion of the small intestines may be retrieved using this method. If too much time has passed and depending on the foreign body, surgery may be necessary. X-rays and ultrasound are diagnostic tools that veterinarians rely on to help make that decision. Endoscopy is much less invasive and thus preferable. If this is not possible, the abdomen must be opened and then the stomach and/or the intestines. Multiple incisions may be necessary in the intestines. This is common in cases where string or yarn has been ingested. If the intestines have been opened there is always a risk of infection post-operatively.

    Foreign bodies are quite dangerous to pets. Please help to prevent these unnecessary surgeries by watching your pets closely, giving them appropriate toys and “pet-proofing” your house.

    Hopefully this information will give you something to chew on!! For more information about your pet’s health, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Animal-Hospitals

  • Q: I have a 6 month old puppy that I got when she was just 8 weeks old. The person that I bought her from said she already had her “puppy shots” and doesn’t need any more. She's a year old now. When does she need more shots?

    A: Hello and thank you for asking this very important question.

    Normally puppies are taken away (weaned) from their mothers at 6-8 weeks of age. This is when they should get their first “puppy shot”. The shot is a combination vaccine to help to prevent K-9 distemper and parvo viruses especially. These two viruses are quite common and if a puppy becomes infected he or she could become quite ill and perhaps die.

    The purpose of vaccination is to help the puppy to build the defenses necessary to fight these viruses if they were to be exposed to them. One single vaccine does not provide enough protection for a pup. If your puppy has not become ill you are very fortunate. Puppies need to have a series of vaccines when they are young. They need to have their vaccinations “boostered” every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age (4 months). Boostering simply means repeating the vaccination in order to “boost” the immune system. An 8 week old puppy for instance, would receive a vaccine at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. Then the vaccine will be repeated 1 year later.

    These puppy visits are very important, not only because of vaccinations. This is a critical stage in the puppy’s life and a time for your veterinarian to be sure that your pup’s growth is appropriate for its age. It is a time when the puppies need dewormings and he or she may need additional vaccines depending on where you live and the lifestyle of your pet. Also this is a great time to discuss topics such as your little friend’s nutritional requirements, training, behavioral issues and when to spay or neuter your puppy. Puppies are lots of fun. However, like any newborn, they need unconditional love and attention to their medical needs. With proper preventative care and timely visits to the puppy pediatrician (your veterinarian), you are sure to enjoy a healthy, happy companion for a very long time! Be the best puppy owner you can be. Won’t you give it a shot?!

  • Q: I take my dog to the vet every year but my cat seems fine. She doesn't like to go so why do I need to take her?

    A: Annual exams are just as important for cats as they are for our canine friends. Cats are especially good at hiding disease so an owner may not realize a cat is ill until they are very sick. Even though younger cats may not have as many ailments as older cats, they still need to have their weight monitored, stool checked for intestinal parasites and need to be vaccinated to protect them from common diseases.

    At the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee, we know that each cat is an individual and we treat each one as such. At the Animal Hospitals a cat’s healthcare plan is tailored to fit a cat's lifestyle and you should work with your veterinarian to make sure that vaccines and care are similarly customized. The annual exam with your veterinarian is an ideal time for the Dr. to examine the cat's mouth. Cats can have dental disease involving the teeth or gums at any age and they require routine cleanings to maintain oral health.

    As your kitty ages, dietary adjustments may be needed. Senior cats (meaning cats around 8 years of age and older), should have their blood screened at a minimum of once per year. This will help the Dr. to identify ailments such as kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism. Early detection of disease can help your veterinarian to manage your cat's health and to help him or her to live a long and healthy life.

    Please protect your feline friend's health by visiting your veterinarian once per year. To make an appointment at the Animal Hospital at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton, call 1-866-262-8133. You will be Purrfectly happy that you did!

  • Q: Why should I spay or neuter? All over the world people don't spay & neuter, so why do we?

    A: Many people believe that the main reason we stress spaying and neutering in this country is to combat pet overpopulation. We know that there is a stray population of animals that don't have a safe, warm environment to live in and many of us feel compelled to do our part to remedy this situation. But why is it important to spay and neuter the animals that already have a home? They are safe in their environment, aren't they?

    Male dogs and cats should be neutered because it completely prevents testicular cancer. Other benefits include a significant decrease in prostate infections and other prostate problems such as benign prostatic hyperplasia.

    Female dogs and cats should be spayed because it completely prevents ovarian and uterine cancers. It also prevents pyometra, an extremely common condition that causes an infection in the uterus, which left untreated is deadly. Spaying also significantly reduces instances of breast cancer, which is 80% fatal in cats.

    Another little known fact is that your pet will undoubtedly feel urges to find a partner of the opposite sex. Many cats and dogs will escape the home in search of these partners. Many pets that have gone missing have been driven to roam by these very common urges. Spaying and neutering your pets will remove these urges, thereby reducing the likelihood that your pet will flee the safety of your home.

    Spaying and neutering is the responsible, safe and right thing to do to keep your pets safe and healthy and reduce the problem of pet overpopulation in this country. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment to have your pet spayed our neutered, call the Bideawee Animal Hospitals at 866-262-8133.

  • Q: Do I really need to do a fecal test every year on my indoor only cat or dog?

    A: Fecal testing is a yearly necessity. The ones who can be most affected by an oversight on this important issue are not only your pets, but the humans in the household.

    When bringing your pet's stool sample to your veterinarian, you are checking to make sure that your beloved one does not have intestinal parasites. Intestinal parasites, which can be detected in your pet's stool, are transmittable to humans. Specifically, roundworms, hookworms and Giardia can be easily passed on to humans in the household. Rounds and hooks, as they are known, have caused blindness and skin disease in many young children. The eggs of these parasites are brought in by fecal-oral contact. This means that the bottoms of your shoes can track in microscopic eggs that lead to microscopic dirt in your foyer where pets often greet you. When they walk on that same flooring and go over to their bed to start licking their paws, the disease can spread throughout the home. Fecal testing is important precaution for the health of both pets and people. Monthly preventative medications are available for cats and dogs, and your veterinarian can help you choose the best preventative for your pet. .

  • Q: What do I do if I suspect that my pet is suffering from a toothache or some kind of dental pain?

    A: Dental health is an important part of your pet's health.

    For both cats and dogs, dental related issues are unavoidable. People go to the dentist two, sometimes three times a year, floss daily and we still occasionally get cavities and need other dental procedures. However, we know when we are in pain and are able to take the necessary actions fix the problem. Our pets aren’t always forthcoming about the pain they may be experiencing and they rely on us to take the necessary precautions and actions needed to help them feel better.

    Common signs that your pet may be experiencing toothaches are chewing on one side of the mouth, or not chewing at all (cats will swallow dry food whole!). As pet parents, it's our responsibility to pay attention to our pets and recognize signs of unusual behavior.

    If you suspect that your pet is suffering from a toothache or is having a dental issue of some kind, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will likely examine the gum line to make sure there is no gingivitis. They should then assess the teeth all the way in the back of the mouth where most of the disease lies (and hides). At that point, they will let you know if your pet needs more medical attention. A very important procedure for all pets is a dental cleaning under anesthesia, because there is absolutely no way that your pet's teeth can be thoroughly cleaned awake.

    There are certain tests that your vet may want to run if they are looking for something like infection or inflammation. The most important thing we can do as pet parents to ensure our pet's dental health is to take them for regular checkups and cleanings. Parents who are proactive about their pet’s health ensure that problems are discovered early and that their pets are unlikely to experience any undue pain or suffering as a result of lingering issues.

    February is National Pet Dental Health Month. If you live in the New York area, and would like to make an appointment to address your pet's dental health, please call the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee at 1.866.262.8133.

  • Q: How can I tell the difference between fainting [in a dog] and a seizure?

    A: That is a good question and one that will ultimately need to be figured out by a veterinarian through a series of tests, observations, and history.

    Fainting is caused by a brief cessation in flow of oxygen and glucose to the brain resulting in a brief loss of consciousness. In dogs, this is typically caused by heart rhythm disturbances (Arrhythmias) that are either primary issues or secondary to a number of heart function and/or structure abnormalities.

    Seizures happen when there is a sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This can be a primary problem (epilepsy, which no one knows quite why this happens) or secondary to an underlying disease (brain tumor, low blood sugar, liver disease, infections)

    In people, you can more easily distinguish because you can ask the person questions about how they felt before the episode. Fainting is often preceded by a feeling of light headedness or heart palpitations and seizures are preceded by an aura. No such luck getting this information from your dog (however, most owners of epileptic dogs do tune into subtle differences hours to minutes before a seizure occurs). When you witness a seizure or a fainting spell in a dog they can look very similar to an untrained eye. Dogs tend to fall over, drool, and maybe have some disjointed movement or convulsions or muscle twitching. The amount of twitching may be more severe in a seizure and seizures tend to last a bit longer than a fainting spell

    Syncopal (fainting) episodes can be fatal. Seizures rarely are unless they are prolonged. Any seizure activity lasting over 5 minutes, or two or more discrete seizures without full recovery of consciousness between seizures lasting at least 5 minutes or more is termed Status Epilepticus and needs immediate veterinary attention.

    So after all this, the bottom line is you need the assistance of a veterinarian to systematically go through the process of determining the diagnosis. As each are treated differently, it is important to make this distinction.

  • Q: Are there any special considerations when spaying a very small chihuahua?

    A: With any animal regardless of size a thorough health evaluation is necessary. Lots of vets do pre-anesthetic blood work to also assess risk.

    We frequently spay/neuter 2 pound animals, so size isn’t so much the issue as health is.

    Anesthesia is risky business no matter how old/young or big/small an animal is. I take it very seriously. Knowing as much as you can about your patient helps you assess risk and minimize it but you never alleviate it. There are always unknowns. Good veterinary hospitals prepare for those unknowns by placing catheters, administering fluids, keeping their patients warm, using monitoring devices to measure heart rate, oxygenation levels and blood pressure and ensuring they have experienced staff in the surgical suite monitoring the patient.

    We don't routinely use laser for spay/neuter in our practice, but we do practice balanced anesthesia and pain management to minimize discomfort.

  • Q: Why does my dog chew on his feet?

    A: One of the most common causes of feet chewing in dogs is allergies and food is a major culprit. Food being a big culprit. Allergies cause the skin to become inflamed and they are itchy. I imagine it is much like having poison ivy. As the dogs continue to chew they sometimes end up causing mild secondary bacterial infections that are also itchy. It is a repetitive cycle.

    Certain parasite infections like mites or fungi or yeast can also cause inflamed feet.

    And then there are some dogs that chew because they have a sort of obsessive compulsive disorder.

    The bumps on the chin may be a staph infection. And this may be related to the constant licking and drooling.

    Your veterinarian can start the diagnostic process of determining the cause of this problem. Sometimes they need help from a doggy dermatologist. Allergies in dogs can be challenging to treat. And often times it is a problem that flares up over and aver again. Work with your vet to get this puzzle solved.

     

    Good Luck

     

  • Q: How do I successfully introduce a new cat into my home?

    A: Many current cat owners have expressed the "I would love another cat but my current cat would never stand for it" sentiment to me over the years. While it is true that fur may fly for the first few days, most of the time civility resumes and the household finds harmony. Here are a few tips to ensure that your new family addition goes smoothly.

    Shelter cats have gone through a lot of stress in their lives. Whether they were abandoned, lost, or rescued from an undesirable situation, they have experienced emotional instability that is hard to imagine. An individual cat’s life experiences also will affect the integration process and how easily they may adapt to a new environment. A fully mature male street cat has a different personality than a female who lived a posh life before ending up in a shelter. Keep this in mind and give them sufficient time to adjust to their new and improved life.

    For the first 7-10 days it is advisable to keep your new cat separate from your other cats. This helps protect your existing cat from any respiratory infections that could be harboring in a cat from a shelter. Dedicate one room in your home for your new cat that has a dedicated litter box and feeding area, and of course comfortable sleeping arrangements and some toys. Check with the shelter to see what food and litter they were using and try to keep this the same. You may want to consider adding a pheromone diffuser, like Feliway®, which has been shown to decrease anxiety in some cats. When you arrive home, take your new cat directly to this room so he can begin the acclimation process. Take the empty cat carrier out of the room and place it where it is accessible to your existing cat so he/she can explore it. Expect some hissing and growling at this point.

    Spend time with the new cat in this new environment, allowing him to seek you out for attention. Don’t force the relationship. It is not unusual for a new cat or kitten to hide for the first few days. Just be patient, they will eventually come out! During the initial homecoming phase, try to inconvenience your existing cat as little as possible and keep his/her routine and your interactions with them consistent.

    I would start out by feeding the cats on both sides of the closed door. Each cat can do something positive (eating) while they acclimate to each other’s scent. I had one behaviorist suggest that you take two catnip mice and tie them together with a shoelace and place it under the door allowing the cats to engage one another without visualizing each other.

    After your ten-day isolation period you can start the face-to-face introductions. Some recommend using double-stacked baby gates to separate the cats. Again, hissing, swatting and spitting should be expected. The face-to-face introductions are supervised and the door is closed when you are not home. At this point you may also want to switch the cats for a few hours each day, allowing each access to the others “den”.

    I would expect that after two weeks of limited access you could be ready to open the door for good. Do this at a time that your existing cat is pre-occupied (like sleeping) and quietly open the door and go about your business. If cat fights erupt, use a squirt bottle to distract them. Maintain separate litter boxes and food bowls. Divide your attention equally between the cats and try to establish and keep a routine.

    As time goes by their internal hierarchy should be worked out. Eventually you will have all your cats sleeping with you! If all goes well, maybe there will be room for one more!

    As the summer comes to a close please consider bringing a new cat into your family by adopting a cat in need of a loving home. You can make a difference in the life of one of the cats at Bideawee awaiting adoption viewing them on Bideawee.org or visiting the Adoption Centers at Bideawee in Manhattan and Westhampton.

  • Q: Can a dog be tested for hearing loss and what can I do to help?

    A:  Elderly dogs are susceptible to hearing loss just like humans.  Age-related hearing loss is probably the most common cause. It is basically a degeneration of the components of the inner ear that conduct the sound waves. 

    While onset can seem to be sudden, the progression is usually quite slow.  Studies have shown that higher frequency hearing is affected first.  As the functional units of sound wave conduction continue to deteriorate the range of sounds a dog can hear diminishes to the point that the owner begins to notice.  If you suspect hearing loss early on, the only diagnostic test that can be run to confirm is a BAER (brain auditory evoked potential) test that can only be conducted at a specialty hospital or vet school.  This test measures the brain’s response to sound, as we cannot simply ask the dogs if they hear anything! 

     If onset of hearing loss seems to be sudden, it would be beneficial to pursue other diagnostics.  There are certain drugs that can be toxic to the ear (ironically some of them are used to treat ear infections!), and also deep-seated infections can cause hearing loss, so a good history and physical exam by your vet is warranted.  In addition, trauma, tumors and repeated exposure to loud noises have been implicated as well. 
     
    As far as treatment in the older dog, if due to aging, most vets will not recommend anything.  There are some studies that have investigated the use of Vibrant Soundbridge implants for the middle ear, but widespread use is lacking. 
     
    For what it is worth, I have a deaf dog.  Born deaf and doing well.  We try to communicate using sign language and that is possible.  I caution that these dogs can startle easily and would recommend that your family and strangers do not sneak up on the dog. 
  • Q: Why does my dog have problems peeing?

    A:Difficulty urinating can be caused by several things. In females, most commonly, urinary tract infections may cause a constant sense of urgency and straining. You may even see blood. Males can also have a urinary tract infection or if the dog is not neutered, prostate enlargement can interfere with the urine stream. The prostate can be enlarged due to being un-neutered, an infection or a tumor.

    In males and females, bladder or urethral stones or tumors can also be a cause of difficulty urinating. Stones and tumors can cause a complete obstruction which can be a medical emergency. Rarely, neurological issues can interfere with the ability to urinate.

    In order to diagnose the problem you will need to see a veterinarian. It is likely a urine sample will be needed and X-rays may be warranted. Other diagnostics may be necessary depending on the findings.

    None of these conditions will resolve without intervention. Urinary tract infections can easily be cleared with a proper course of antibiotics. Stones can be removed surgically. Prostate issues may be rectified by neutering and antibiotics. Tumors are a bit more complicated to treat and options will need to be addressed by your veterinarian.

  • Q: My cat is urinating in my house. What should I do?

    A: Is he using the box to defecate? Is he urinating in the same place every time?

    Litter box aversion can be due to a number of things.
    • Association with something negative or painful
    • Sudden dislike of the litter
    • The litter box is too dirty (with kidney disease they tend to urinate more frequently thus the box needs changing more often)
    • Arthritis may be preventing him from climbing into the box
    • Visual impairment
    • Senility
    • Stress
    • Urinary Tract Infection, bladder stones, bladder tumors

    Here are a few tips to try when dealing with litter box issues:
    • Several different sized boxes, some with lower walls
    • Multiple boxes with different types of litter in each box, so he can pick a substrate he likes
    • Feliway diffuser to decrease stress
    • Placing food bowl in the area he typically uses to urinate
    • Thorough cleaning of the soiled areas with a product that breaks down the urine and not just masks the odor

    This is a tough behavior problem, but there are many articles online that will also provide more insight. It is sad to see these old guys develop bad habits and usually there is an underlying cause that has to be investigated. UTI is only one of them. You may want to seek a second opinion

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