Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I apologize for my lack of new blogs for the past few months but if you have been missing Friendship Tails then just wait because after the New Year I will be back and better than ever.  I am working on a new blog design that should launch in February just in time to start fundraising for Fashion for Paws 2012.  I have new tales from the constantly exciting and newly renovated Friendship Hospital for Animals as well as more tips on keeping your pets healthy and happy.  Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and I will see you in 2012!

Season's Greetings from Frank, Poppy, Sparkle and Lilly

In the meantime here is a clip from my recent appearance on DC's Fox 5 with holiday dangers that may get your dog or cat into trouble. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Surprising Summer Dangers for Pets

Heat stroke is by far the most common summertime danger for our pets but there are a few other things you should be aware of during the warm months.

Cookouts are surprising source of danger for your dog. Any respectable chowhound will spend a fair amount of time searching for a tasty morsel. Chicken and rib bones are usually digestible and rarely result in intestinal obstruction but often cause a nasty case of pancreatitis due to a very high fat content. The pancreas is a gland that lives near the stomach and gets very angry when exposed to a high fat diet. This results in severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea that usually require medical attention

Another cookout troublemaker is corn on the cob as it is the perfect size to be scarfed down whole and then lodge in the small intestine. This then causes an obstruction that almost always requires surgical intervention for removal. Signs to watch for are decreased or loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain. If your dog displays any of these clinical signs please bring him to your veterinarian immediately.

Other dangerous food items are onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate and sugar-free gum. If you think your dog may have snacked on any of these items either see your veterinarian or call ASPCA’s animal poison control 24-hour hotline.

If you are going to have guests staying with you this summer and you have a nosey dog or cat be sure to tell them so they can put away any medications they may be taking. Even over the counter drugs such as Tylenol, Advil, Aleve and Sudafed can be life threatening to pets.

If you notice most of what I have been talking about is directed towards dogs. It is not that I have been neglecting cats but as a general rule they are usually smart enough to avoid most of these issues. You rarely see a cat running around outside in 90 degree weather or jumping up on the picnic table to grab an ear of corn.

The one lapse in judgment that almost all cats suffer from is their determination to eat plants and flowers. Many indoor and outdoor plants and flowers are extremely toxic to cats and dogs causing clinical signs that range from stomach upset to death. The most infamous flower is the Lilly. Kitties only need to eat a small bit of petal or leaf to cause acute kidney failure, which quickly leads to death. The ASPCA website has a comprehensive list of plants that you need to watch out for.

Finally, fireworks and thunderstorms can be a source of fear for your pets. If you notice that your dog or cat does not seem to appreciate the loud noises be sure to take precautions so they don’t run away or destroy your home. Speak with your veterinarian about administering an anti-anxiety medication. Pure sedatives are not ideal and can actually make things worse as your pet is still afraid but too sedate to do anything about it. This then causes a rebound effect and the next time they experience feelings of anxiety it will be much worse.

Also keep in mind during the warm weather fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are out in force. Be sure to administer your pet’s monthly heartworm, flea and tick preventatives. This goes for indoor kitties too, they are still at risk for heartworm disease.

I hope these tips help you and your pets have a happy and safe summer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hello Summer!

According to weather reports the east coast is about to get slammed with a heat wave this week.  I wanted to take a moment to warn dog owners about their pets’ risk of heat stroke. Every summer far too many dogs are brought into Friendship after collapsing due to heat stroke. Unfortunately, despite agressive treatment many of these patients do not make it, which is truly tragic since the event could have been easily avoided.

One of the patients that sticks in my mind as especially tragic was a bulldog that was taken out for fifteen minutes around noon as part of a mid-day walk. He collapsed on his walk and was immediately rushed to Friendship. Sadly, despite aggressive treatment, complications from heat stroke damaged his organs so severely that he had to be euthanized the next day.

“Smushy-faced” (brachycephalic is the technical term) dogs like bulldogs and pugs are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. This is because breed characteristics such as narrow nostrils and elongated soft palates decrease their ability to effectively cool themselves.

drawing by Robert Cole

Though bulldogs and pugs have an especially tough time in the warmer weather, ALL dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than their human companions are. As if wearing thick fur coats weren’t enough of a challenge, dogs have only two ways of dissipating heat: by panting, and through their paw pads. When the temperature rises, neither of these cool-down tricks works too well. Panting becomes much less effective when the weather is hot and humid and when your dog walks on a scorching sidewalk his paws stay too hot to help him cool down.

If you’re out on a walk with your dog and he collapses, becomes unresponsive or loses consciousness, seek veterinary care immediately. DO NOT try to cool down your dog on your own as bringing the body temperature down too quickly can make a dire situation worse. If for some reason you can’t make it to a veterinary hospital immediately, you can soak a towel in tepid (not cold) water, place it over your dog, and aim a fan at him. Take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as he is more stable.

What makes heat stroke potentially fatal is that the patient can develop a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) that causes massive and widespread damage to the blood vessels. This quickly results in multiple organ failure and the patient loses the ability to clot his blood. Treatment consists of aggressive supportive care and plasma transfusions, both of which are very expensive and not guaranteed to prevent death.

When it comes to heat stroke, the best treatment is prevention. Here are some commonsense tips to help you keep your dog cool and comfortable.

  • Avoid taking your dog out during the hottest times of the day. (Quick rule of thumb: If it is too hot for you, then it is definitely too hot for your dog!)
  • Keep an eye out for unusual behavior: If you are out in the hot weather with your dog and he slows down, lies down or acts reluctant to keep walking, you should let him rest, offer him cool water and head inside immediately.
  • Make sure your dog has cool, fresh water available at all times.
  • Never leave a dog (or any other pet) in a parked car when it is even slightly warm out. The temperature in the car can rise amazingly quickly and before you know it you have an overheated animal.
  • Don’t take your dog running. I am never a fan of running with your dog but in this weather it is an especially bad idea.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring puppies and kittens!

Frank as a puppy
Spring is my favorite time of the year for many reasons but it is the influx of adorable new puppies and kittens into the hospital for wellness care that really brightens my days.  If you are looking for a feline family member, this is kitten season and the shelters are overflowing with these tiny little balls of fur.  Bringing a new pet into your house can be overwhelming so I have provided a cheat sheet with the top three things you need to focus on to have a healthy and well adjusted new friend.

1. Bring your new pet to the veterinarian right away – All puppies and kittens should come with a health record of vaccines and de-worming medications administered by the breeder or shelter. On your first visit be sure to bring this paperwork, so you and your veterinarian can discuss and plan out an appropriate vaccine schedule. In addition, a poo sample is helpful so your veterinarian can make sure your new buddy didn’t bring home any unwanted friends (internal parasites) with him. At this first visit you can also get him started on preventives for heartworm, fleas and ticks – kittens too!

2. Take your puppy to basic training class – All veterinary behaviorists agree that early socialization is a crucial step in creating a happy and well-adjusted dog. Exposure to other puppies, new people, and places can help prevent your puppy from being fearful and socially awkward. The critical time period is in the first three to four months of life, which is when sociability outweighs fear and they are most open to new experiences. 
Poppy as a puppy
Puppies need to be taught how you want them to behave; a training class will give you proper guidance and a safe environment to achieve this.   You do not want to let your puppy loose in a dog park until he is fully vaccinated.  This potentially exposes him to unvaccinated dogs carrying diseases such as parvovirus and distemper virus.  A puppy class or play date in a clean environment with a fully vaccinated, healthy dogs lets your puppy meet new faces while minimizing the risk of disease.

I offer a free monthly class called The Polite Puppy on the last Sunday of every month.  We discuss teaching manners and recommendations for wellness care to get your new puppy off on the right paw.  You can visit for more information or you can email me if you are interested in joining us.  We meet at 3 pm at Happy Paws on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenlytown.

3. Spay or neuter!! – I cannot stress the importance of this enough. In my opinion, spaying or neutering is the single best thing you can do, not only for your own pet but also for the millions of homeless animals living and dying in shelters. In this country we euthanize around four million dogs and cats every year due to overcrowding in shelters. 

These simple surgeries that remove the reproductive organs are a direct way to improve the health of your pet.  Along with eliminating the chances for many types of cancer as well as a life threatening uterine infection, spaying and neutering can prevent many behavior issues. If the above reasons to spay or neuter haven’t convinced you, consider this: female dogs in heat are messy and it is always embarrassing to have your male dog humping someone’s leg....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fashion for Paws

The Fashion for Paws Runway Show was this past Saturday and I could not be more proud of Frank.  He was an absolute star strutting down the runway like a supermodel in Paris.  We ended up raising a total of $15,512 which far succeeded my initial expectations.  The event itself was amazing and hugely successful raising over $520,000.  Thank you to everyone for your support!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fashion for Paws this Saturday

Frank and I are in the homestretch for fundraising for the Fashion for Paws Runway Show benefiting the Washington Humane Society (WHS).  The event is on Saturday, we both have our runway looks planned out and we could not be more excited.  If you would still like to make a donation you can do so up to noon on Friday but visiting my fundraising page

WHS is also competing in the ASPCA $100K Challenge and needs your help to win.  You can visit daily to support WHS in this nationwide contest.  I just placed my vote for today and they are currently in 27th place out of the 50 shelters participating.  Vote today and every day until April 15th!

For those of you that read my blog for veterinary health information and are wondering when I will start posting non-Fashion for Paws related articles, fear not they are coming.  I have many interesting topics that I am working on such as brachycephalic syndrome, my newest thoughts on pet food recommendations, Friendship's new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and gastrointestinal diseases of cats. 

Thanks again to all my wonderful clients, family and friends for their amazing support over the last few weeks, Frank and I will see you on the runway!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yappy Hour Success!

The Yappy Hour this past weekend was a huge success!  We raised an impressive amount of money for Fashion for Paws and everyone seemed to have a great time.  A big thank you to Friendship, Happy Paws, Hello Cupcake, Barkley Square and Something Sweet for their support and generous donations.

Photos courtesy of James Robertson

Frank welcomes one of his supporters

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raffle and Yappy Hour

This Saturday is the Yappy Hour fundraiser for Fashion for Paws 
at Pete's Apizza!

Come by with your dog and spend some time with us from 5-7 pm.  For just $10 you will get a Friendship Tote filled with goodies including gourmet dog treats from Barkley Square and FREE PIZZA!  There will be a cash bar inside for your beer and wine needs.  You can puruse our awesome raffle prizes and each guest gets a chance to win a dozen cupcakes from Hello Cupcake or a St. Patrick's Day inspired dog cake.

Don't miss out on this fun, family, dog friendly event!
Pete's Apizza
4940 Wisconsin Avenue NW
5-7 pm

If you haven't been by Friendship in the last few weeks then you are missing out on a chance to enter the Fashion for Paws raffle and win some amazing prizes.

  • Friendship Gift Card
  • Happy Paws sleepover with play days
  • Gift Basket courtesy of Wagtime
  • Six month of free food from Royal Canin
  • Nutramax Gift Basket with Dasuquin and Wellactin
  • Canine Wellness Gift Basket
  • Feline Wellness Gift Basket

The drawing will be held on April 5th so there is still plenty of time to buy your tickets!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nola's story

In case you were not familiar with all of the amazing work that the Washington Humane Society (WHS) does for the animals of The District, the following story about a cat named Nola is just one example of why we need them in our community.

Nola was brought in to Friendship for emergency care after a Humane Law Enforcement Officer responded to a call in Northeast DC.  A woman had found her curled up on her front porch with severe wounds and smelling of burnt hair.  Her whiskers were completely singed off, the tips of her ears were deformed from severe burns and the right side of her body was hairless and covered in an open wound.  It was presumed that someone had intentionally set her on fire.  What is truly amazing is that despite this horrific act of cruelty she was purring nonstop, wanting only to curl up in someone's arms.

Nola responded very well to treatment and is now safely living with a wonderful foster family while she continues to heal.  I am constantly amazed by the ability animals have for unconditional love and forgiveness.  It is because of this unending capacity for love that I became a veterinarian and why I believe so strongly in WHS's mission. The animals they protect do not have a voice, therefore it is our moral responsibility to stand up and speak for them.

Watch Nola's story on 9 News Now:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fashion for Paws Update!

Fashion for Paws is now one month away and fundraising is in full swing.  As of this moment in time Frank and I have raised the most money out of all the other models, we are at $10,150!!  Frank is so close to his dream of runway domination and earning the coveted title of "Model Washingtonian of the Year"but we need your help to keep the momentum going.

A huge thank you to Happy Paws, Friendship, BVNS and all my wonderful clients, Polite Puppies, friends and family whose generous donations have made this possible.

There are still many opportunities if you want to get involved.

Stop by Friendship and enter our raffle for a chance to win:

  • Friendship $150 gift card
  • Weekend sleepover with play days at Happy Paws
  • 6 months of food from Royal Canin
  • Gift basket full of Nutramax products
  • Canine Wellness gift basket
  • Feline Wellness gift basket

Join Friendship and Happy Paws on March 19th for Yappy Hour at Pete's Apizza!  

For just $10 guests will take home a Friendship tote bag filled with goodies, a chance to enter the raffle and all the free pizza you can eat.  This dog and family friendly event is not to be missed.

Pete's Apizza
March 19th
5-7 pm
4940 Wisconsin Avenue NW

Attend the Fashion for Paws Runway Show

The main event will be held on April 9th at the National Building Museum.  Tickets and tables are still available but selling fast so get yours now.

For more information about Fashion for Paws, to buy a ticket or make a donation please visit

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pet obesity in the news

Pet obesity is a serious medical issue that can result in a myriad of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and joint disease.  The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention just released a new study that reveals more than half of the dogs and cats in this country are overweight.  Frank and I spent this afternoon with Fox 5 and ABC 7 to help spread the word about the dangers of pet obesity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Washington Post Article vs Client Privacy

This past Monday, in what I can only assume was a slow news day, a column in The Washington Post seemed to question Friendship's handling of a request for a patient's vaccination information.  Click here to read the full article.

A woman who was not the owner of the dog called Friendship to request the information after she had been bitten.  The bite occurred while the dog was being walked by the pet sitter.  Friendship refused to release the dog's vaccine status without the consent of the owner but did offer to contact the owner, which she declined.  The Post's article indicates that she did call the police but also declined their offer to help her.  Had she reported the bite to the authorities, as the law dictates, they could have easily obtained the dog’s vaccine status. She apparently chose not to do so and, instead, contacted the Washington Post.

When I spoke to columnist John Kelly last week he told me the woman "didn't want to get the dog in trouble" and that was why she decided not to report the bite.  Informing animal control about a dog bite, especially in this situation, is essential.  If the dog really just walked up and bit her as the woman described then there needs to be a record of this.  What if this happens again?  What if it is a child's face next time?

I am in no way saying that this dog is vicious, in fact I don't think I have ever met a mean Greyhound.  This was most likely an isolated incident, but if a pattern of aggressive behavior develops there should be a record of it.

In addition, a dog owner needs to be aware if his or her dog is involved in a bite incident, be it with a person, wildlife or another dog.  When I questioned Mr. Kelly how it was that both the woman who was bitten and the pet sitter were unable to get in touch with the owner to discuss the event he was only able to say that "the owner was out of town".  In the age of smart phones, email and Facebook surely they could have contacted the owner.  If one of my dogs were to bite someone while I was away I would want to be notified immediately.

My discussion above is really immaterial, here is the bottom line: at Friendship, we value the trust our clients instill in us and part of that trust requires us to keep all client/patient information confidential.  It has been and always will be our policy to not disclose information unless specifically asked to do so by the owner of a patient, another veterinary hospital or other law enforcement organization.  

Apart from my position as a veterinarian, as a dog owner I support Friendship's policy and I would think the majority of our clients do too.  Please feel free to post respectful comments below.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Frank on Fox 5 for Fashion for Paws

Frank and I were thrilled to be on Fox 5 this morning for their "Ask a Vet" segment with Annie Yu.  Frank is working hard at raising money for Fashion for Paws and this was a great opportunity for him to get the word out about the event.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fashion for Paws!

Today marks the start of fundraising for Fashion for Paws.  Sparkle and I had a great time last year and raised over $8000.  This year I will be walking the runway with Frank who is already planning his outfit, but we need your help to make this happen.  There are many ways you can contribute:

  • Join us on March 19th for a Yappy Hour at Pete's Apizza
  • Buy a ticket to the event and see Frank strut down the runway in all his glory
  • Purchase an ad for your business to be displayed in the official program book
  • Stop by Friendship and enter our raffle for the chance to win many great prizes
  • Make a direct donation by visiting my fundraising website

In case you are not familiar with the event, Fashion for Paws in now in it's fifth year and has raised over one million dollars for the Washington Humane Society (WHS).  Friendship is the emergency hospital for WHS and I have personally treated many of the abused and neglected rescued by WHS Humane Law Enforcement Officer.  This has given me a first-hand view into the critical work that WHS provides for the animals and people of our community.

All proceeds from the Fashion for Paws Runway Show directly benefit the more than 30,000 homeless, lost, neglected and abused animals WHS cares for each year.  Your donations will also support vital programs such as Humane Law Enforcement, Humane Education, low cost vaccination and spay-neuter programs, Dog Tags and the WHS Behavior and Learning Center.

I would greatly appreciate any help, this organization and the amazing work they do is very close to my heart.  To make a donation please visit my fundraising page or post a comment with any questions and I will be happy to get back to you.

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Treating Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

On Thursday I gave you tips to prevent arthritis but if your dog or cat already has signs of arthritis--be it mild or severe--there are many things you can do to help keep him pain free.

Try a specialty diet such as the J/D diet made by Hill’s Prescription Diets, which is specifically formulated for dogs and cats with joint disease. The diet was created using nutrogenomics--a fancy word that means they used DNA sequencing to locate the genes that are active in animals with arthritis and created a diet to alter expression of these genes.  Not only is this really cool, but several studies show the J/D diet really works.

It’s never too late for a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement.  Along with Cosequin, Nutromaxx also makes a product called Dasuquin, which supplements the glucosamine and chondroitin with a special avocado extract that has been shown to help decrease joint pain.  You can also up the ante with Adequan injections. This injectable supplement is administered by a veterinarian and is similar to glucosamine/chondroitin but quite a bit more potent.

Try laser treatment. At Friendship we have a therapeutic laser that uses specific wavelengths of light to decrease inflammation and stimulate healing. During each painless treatment, the laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level to increase metabolic activity within each cell. A cascade of beneficial effects is initiated, increasing circulation and drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain.
Does it work? You bet. There are more than 100 rigorously controlled, scientific studies that document the effectiveness of laser for many clinical conditions such as joint pain, hip dysplasia, swelling, ligament sprains, muscle strains, bite wounds, traumatic injuries, post-surgical pain and chronic wounds.

If the above methods don’t do the trick, then it is time to start a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication such as Rimadyl or Metacam.  These drugs are extremely effective at controlling and alleviating arthritis pain.  I have had clients tell me their dog is running around like a puppy again after starting Rimadyl.  The NSAIDs can change a dog’s outlook on life but need to be used carefully.  Just like all medications, NSAIDs have side effects. These include gastrointestinal upset, stomach ulcers, liver and kidney disease. Because of these side effects I always recommend monitoring bloodwork every 6 months for all my patients on these drugs.  There are other pain medications available but none of them work as well for arthritis pain as the NSAIDs do.

Prevention is the best medicine, as the saying goes. I hope I have given you some tips to keep your pet’s joints healthy.  Remember, if you do notice some stiffness, limping or slowing down in your dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian right away. With so many options for slowing down arthritis and keeping your pet pain free, you won’t want to wait to get started.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to prevent arthritis

Arthritis is a common ailment for many dogs and cats. It can be a source of chronic pain and negatively affect their quality of life.  Also known as degenerative joint disease, arthritis occurs when a joint is unstable.  This causes the bones to move abnormally, first rubbing against cartilage and then, when the cartilage erodes, rubbing bone against bone.  The result is chronic inflammation and is just as painful as it sounds.

The most obvious sign of joint disease is when a dog or cat starts limping. However, there are numerous other subtle signs that may indicate your pet is uncomfortable.  Perhaps your dog doesn’t charge up the stairs like he used to. Maybe your older pet seems to be “slowing down.”  Cats may start urinating or defecating out of the litter box because it is too painful for them to jump into it.  These are just a few examples. Bottom line: if you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior, talk with your veterinarian immediately.

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent arthritis from developing as well as to treat it once it has set in.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Poppy's gastrointestinal scare

Poppy and I had a scare recently and it is a great example of what can happen when your dog develops vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and anorexia.  These signs are probably the most common presenting complaints I see on emergency at Friendship.  One morning Poppy wouldn’t eat her breakfast and then proceeded to vomit about four or five times.  I didn’t think too much about it until she vomited again a few hours later. 

At this point I was considering multiple causes for the vomiting, there are about a million of them, but I didn’t really care one way or the other as long as it stopped.  I headed to the hospital to pick up injections of two anti-nausea medications; that would hopefully make her feel better.  After giving the injections she didn’t vomit again but still refused dinner and was acting very quiet, not at all like her usual obnoxious self.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does sharing the bed also mean sharing diseases with your pet?

I was on Fox 5 today to discuss a recent study out of California that shows sleeping in bed with your dog or cat may lead to disease.  This is an interesting topic as surveys indicate that more than 50% of pet owners let their dogs and cats in bed with them.

The study describes various cases of pet owners contracting horrible diseases like the Plague, MRSA, Cat Scratch Disease and Salmonella.  While this information is scary one must also keep in mind that many of these diseases can be avoided with proper veterinary care and good hygiene.

The Plague and Cat Scratch Disease are caused by bacteria that live on fleas; while Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are transmitted by ticks.  If you eliminate the fleas and ticks on your pets, you make a big dent in possible exposure.  The very best way to accomplish this is with a topical, spot-on treatment such as Frontline or Revolution applied every month.

MRSA is very frightening since it is a bacteria resistant to most antibiotics.  The good news here is that pets are very unlikely to cause an initial infections humans.  In fact, our dogs and cats should be worrying about what we bring home to them as humans can transmit the bacteria to pets in the house.  If you or someone in your home has had a MRSA infection you should be aware that pets can serve as a reservoir and reinfect humans.

The best way to avoid food borne bacteria is not to feed a raw food diet since cooking is the most effective way to rid food of these bacteria.  When you feed a raw diet you are potentially introducing Salmonella or E. coli into your home and yard.

The take home message from this study should be that an adult with a healthy immune system, that practices good personal hygiene and provides proper veterinary care for their pet is very unlikely to contract any of these diseases; even if they sleep in bed with their pets.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The three best things you can do for your puppy

Last Tuesday I neutered Frank, all went well and he was completely unfazed by the event.  He had a few baby teeth remaining along with his adult teeth.  This is very common, especially in small breed dogs.  Since these should have fallen out by now we removed them while he was under anesthesia.

I also manipulated his hips while he was asleep to see if there was any abnormal mobility that could lead to arthritis in the future.  At Friendship we recommend that all large breed dogs have an x-ray taken at this time so we can visualize the bone structure of the hips.  Frank's hips felt a little loose but appeared normal on the x-ray which is good.  In order to protect his joints I have switched him to a puppy food that has glucosamine and chondroitin which help maintain healthy cartilage.  As with all my animals he will also continue to receive a fish oil supplement which helps with not only joint health but just about every other body system.

As this is the end of Frank's routine puppy care I thought it would be a good time to review the three very best things you can do for your puppy.  

1. Bring your new puppy to the veterinarian right away – All puppies should come with a health record of vaccines and de-worming medications administered by the breeder or shelter. On your first puppy visit be sure to bring this paperwork, so you and your veterinarian can discuss and plan out an appropriate vaccine schedule. In addition, a poo sample is helpful so your veterinarian can make sure your puppy didn’t bring home any unwanted friends (internal parasites) with him. At this first visit you can get your puppy started on preventatives for heartworm, fleas and ticks.

2. Take your puppy to basic training class – All veterinary behaviorists agree that early socialization is a crucial step in creating a happy and well-adjusted dog. Exposure to other puppies, new people and places can help prevent your puppy from being fearful and socially awkward. Puppies need to be taught how you want them to behave; a training class will give you proper guidance on how to achieve this. An added benefit: letting your youngster run around and play with other puppies is a great way to work off some of that crazy puppy energy!

3. Spay or neuter your puppy – I cannot stress the importance of this enough. In my opinion, spaying or neutering is the single best thing you can do, not only for your own dog but for the millions of homeless animals living in shelters. Along with eliminating the chances for many types of cancer developing, spaying and neutering can prevent many behavior issues. I have said it before and I will say it again: female dogs in heat are messy and it is always embarrassing to have your male dog humping someone’s leg.

I hope these tips help you give your new dog a great start to a long and healthy life with you.  For more puppy tips please visit the Polite Puppy website.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pudgy Pets

The new year has arrived and with it new year's resolutions. If you have committed to eating better and exercising more in 2011 don't forget to include your pets too. Overweight dogs and cats are at risk for diabetes, heart and joint disease – all conditions we see frequently at Friendship. I know from my own life that it isn’t always easy to keep pets from piling on the pounds: My dog Sparkle (pictured right) loves food more than anything and keeping her at a healthy weight is a challenge but essential.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 42% of dogs and 53% of cats in America are overweight. What’s worse is that an additional 10% of dogs and 19% of cats are considered obese. This means that over 50% of dogs and nearly 75% of cats are at increased risk for diseases that may be preventable. And if that’s not enough to get you motivated, consider this: one study found that dogs kept at a healthy weight live on average two years longer than their overweight counterparts!