A “hot spot” (also known as pyotraumatic or moist dermatitis) is a skin condition that occurs when an animal constantly bites, licks, or scratches an area of itchy skin. The skin becomes inflamed and infected and often appears as a moist, oozing, reddened area that is painful and very itchy. If there is hair at the area, the hair will hold in moisture and irritate the skin more. The condition worsens if the animal continues to bother the area and it is common to notice a small affected area in the morning and a larger one in the evening. Because the lesions are warm to the touch, they are called hot spots. Hot spots are treatable but it is important to also identity the underlying cause to ensure the prevention of future hot spots. A visit to your veterinarian may be required depending on the severity of the lesion. Any hair in or around the lesion will be trimmed and removed so the area can be thoroughly cleaned and topical medications can be applied. Your veterinarian will prescribe oral antibiotics for about three to four weeks to treat the infection and may also prescribed corticosteroids (such as prednisone) to help with the itching and pain from the inflammation. One of the ways you can prevent hot spots is by removing exposure to allergens. Animals can have environmental allergies, such as grass, trees, or dust mites, or they can also be allergic to food. Avoiding fleas, mites, insect bites, and skin wounds in general will also help prevent your pet from developing hot spots. You can use an Elizabethan collar, or “e-collar,” to keep your pet from agitating the spot further.
Submit a photo of your pet in a Halloween costume and you could win a $50 gift card!! Halloween is almost here and that means it’s time to get festive. Like our Facebook Page and submit a photo of your pet in his or her best costume through private message on Facebook. We will be accepting submissions now through October 23rd and voting will start on October 24th. We will be posting all photos in an album where you can vote for your favorite(s). The person whose photo gets the most “likes” will receive a $50 gift card! We ask that you only send one photo per pet. Once the photos are posted and voting is open, make sure to share your photo or the album with all your friends and family to increase your chances of winning! The lucky winner will be announced on Halloween. We hope you participate and good luck!
Did you know that obesity is not just an epidemic in humans but also in pets? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), over 57% of dogs and 52% of cats are obese and these numbers are on the rise. Much like humans, obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, joint problems, and ultimately a shortened life expectancy. Based on a survey created by APOP, a surprising 93% of dog owners and 88% of cat owners thought their pet was in the normal weight range. This disparity is known as the “fat gap” and is thought to be one of the primary factors in the growing rate of pet obesity. To tell if your pet is a healthy weight, use this scoring system. Your pet should rank at about a 3 if he or she is a healthy weight. To keep your pet at a healthy weight, take care in providing him or her with a healthy diet and ensuring the proper amount of exercise. Pet foods have become more calorically dense and people are feeding their pets more. If your pet is already overweight or obese, talk to your veterinarian about the best course of action. Your vet will probably recommend a controlled diet and specific type of food. It can be hard to know what the proper caloric intake and weight should be for your pet so APOP has provided a few useful tables to help. This information does not replace the advice of your veterinarian and should only be used as a starting point. Pet Caloric Needs – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/pet-caloric-needs/ Ideal Weight Ranges – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/ideal-weight-ranges/
Today, September 28th, is World Rabies Day. Rabies is an infectious virus that affects the central nervous system in mammals and is transmitted through the saliva of animals. Both humans and animals can contract the virus if they handle or get bitten by an infected animal. It is estimated that each year in the US about 40,000 people receive the rabies prevention treatment, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), because they may have been exposed to rabies. There is no cure to rabies and it is almost always fatal. Globally about 55,000 people die each year of rabies, mostly in Africa and Asia. In the northeast, the most common rabid wildlife are raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Although 90% of all rabid animals reported to the CDC are wild animals, most people are exposed to rabies because of a cat or a dog. Cats are also about three times more likely to be rabid than dogs are. For this reason, it is important to visit your veterinarian on a regular basis and make sure all rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for cats, dogs, and even ferrets. Giving your pet direct supervision while they are outdoors is also important in reducing exposure to rabies. Pets that have not gotten their rabies vaccine and are exposed to rabies must be quarantined for six month, or euthanized, because of their risk of getting rabies after the exposure. Every US state (excluding Hawaii) requires all dogs and cats to get the rabies vaccination. They should then be subsequently revaccinated on an ongoing basis according to the directions of the vaccine manufacturer. Hawaii is the only US state that has not had any reported cases of rabies. Dogs and cats that are imported into Hawaii must be placed in quarantine. You can read more and view the laws for each state here or here. World Rabies Day, since its launch in 2007, has helped to educate over 182 million people and vaccinated about 7.7 million dogs through events in 150 countries. To read more about World Rabies Day, visit their website at https://rabiesalliance.org/world-rabies-day.
September is National Food Safety Month. Like cats and humans, certain foods can be toxic to dogs. While cats and dogs share many food toxicities, here is dog-specific and alphabetic list of the foods you should avoid giving your dog. Alcohol: Dogs are far more sensitive to alcohol than humans are. Just a little bit can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, coordination problems, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death. Hops in particular, which is found in beer, has been found to poison dogs. Dogs affected by hops can have damage and failure to multiple organ systems due to an uncontrollably high body temperature. Avocado: Persin, the toxic element in Avocado, can cause mild upset stomach. Persin can be found in the leaves, seed, bark, and inside the fruit. Avocado is sometimes included in pet food but does not pose a threat to dogs. Chocolate: Unlike cats, dogs will eat chocolate on their own. The rule with chocolate is usually, “the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.” White chocolate contains very few methylxanthines, the toxic component of chocolate, while dark baker’s chocolate has very high levels of methylxanthines. Depending on the type and quantity of the chocolate consumed, the reaction your dog may have can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort, and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures, and death. Coffee/Caffeine: Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a dog and there is no antidote. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and bleeding. Corncobs: Corncobs are not digestible and often cause obstructions in the intestines. Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your dog table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Bones should not be given to dogs either, as they can choke on it or the bone may splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations. Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they have been associated with kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs eat them without any effects while others can develop vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and kidney failure. Kidney failure means your dog’s ability to product urine decreases so they are unable to filter toxins out of their system. Macadamia nuts: Although the chance that macadamia nuts are deathly to dogs is low, the symptoms they do feel can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms can include muscle tremors, paralysis of the back legs, vomiting, and more. Milk/Dairy Products: Because dogs are devoid of the lactase needed to breakdown milk, milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach. Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body that result in nervous system abnormalities, seizures, shock, or death. Onions, Garlic, and Chives: All members, and close members of the onion family (including shallots, garlic, scallions, etc.), can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Like chocolate, the stronger it is, the more toxic it is. Garlic has been found to be more toxic to dogs than onions. Even dehydrated forms of garlic and onion are a threat to your dog’s health. Affected dogs may exhibit symptoms up to five days later and can include weakness, reluctance to move, and orange-tinted to dark red urine. Dogs that have ingested garlic or onion should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums: The seeds or pits from these fruits are the main concern. Persimmons seeds can cause inflammation of the small intestines or intestinal obstruction. Intestinal obstruction is also a concern for peach and plum pits. Peach and plum pits also contain cyanide which is poisonous to both dogs and humans. Humans just know not to eat them. Raw eggs, meat, and fish: Raw eggs, meat, and fish can contain bacteria like salmonella that can lead to food poisoning. Raw eggs also interfere with the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Certain fish can cause “fish disease” which can be fatal within the first two weeks. The first signs are vomiting, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Thoroughly cooking meat and fish will kill the parasites and protect your dog. Salt: Giving your dog salty foods is not a good idea. Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination which leads to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of excessive salt consumption can include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death. Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause disorientation and seizures as fast as 30 minutes after ingestion or as delayed as several hours. Xylitol can also lead to liver failure in just a few days. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes. Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. Dogs with extreme poisoning cases can go into a coma or have seizures. Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, small items of clothing, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to dogs than food. One case is medical marijuana. It comes in many forms that a pet can easily eat and can cause vomiting, changes in heart rate, and depress the nervous system. If you suspect your dog ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. Do you have a cat? Most foods that are toxic for dogs are also toxic for cats. Check out this blog post for a cat-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food for either your cat or your dog and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!
September is National Food Safety Month. Just like people can’t eat everything they come across, cats can’t either. In fact, many human foods are toxic for cats. See the alphabetic list below for the foods you should avoid giving your cat. Alcohol: Alcohol has the same effect on a cat’s brain and liver as it does to humans but it takes far less to see the effects. As little as a teaspoon can cause a coma in a cat and it can easily cause severe liver or brain damage. The higher the proof of alcohol, the worse the symptoms will be. Chocolate: Although most cats won’t eat chocolate on their own, you should not attempt to try to feed it to your cat. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical found in all chocolate including white chocolate, which is toxic to cats. Eating chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death. Dark and semisweet chocolate are the most dangerous. Coffee/Caffeine: Along with chocolate, coffee contains caffeine. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and can be toxic to the heart and nervous system. Fat Trimmings and Bones: Don’t feed your cat table scraps. Fat, when cooked or uncooked, can cause intestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Cats can choke on bones or the bones can splinter and cause an obstruction or internal lacerations. You should also never give them anything that is as hard as or harder than their teeth because it can cause dental fractures. Fish: This includes raw, canned, and cooked fish. You can get away with small amounts of fish but if fed in high amounts your cat can develop a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency that leads to loss of appetite, seizures, and maybe death. The exception to this is if the fish is made into cat food. Most good cat food brands are supplemented with thiamine are just fine. Grapes and Raisins: Although it is not known what makes grapes and raisins toxic, they can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount can make a cat sick and cause them to repeatedly vomit and be hyperactive. Macadamia nuts: Like grapes and raisins, it is not known what makes macadamia nuts toxic. Ingestion of macadamia nuts can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle. Milk/Dairy Products: Surprisingly most cats are lactose-intolerant, so it’s best to be safe and avoid any dairy products. Mushrooms: Some types of mushrooms contain toxins that can affect multiple systems in the body and cause shock or result in death. Onions, Garlic, and Chives: Onion, in any form, can cause a cat to become anemic because it breaks down red blood cells. Even the onion powder that is in some baby foods is bad for cats. Onion, along with garlic and chives, can also cause gastrointestinal upset. Raw eggs and meat: Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin) and can lead to skin, hair, and coat issues. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella or other parasites. Raw meat may contain Salmonella and E. coli which can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Sugary foods: Sugary foods, such as candy and gum, are usually sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is known for increasing insulin production which causes blood sugar levels to drop. It can also cause vomiting, fatigue, loss of coordination, and eventually liver failure. Even if the sugary food doesn’t contain xylitol it can still lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes. Yeast dough: Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system. This can lead to pain and a possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Additionally, when the yeast causes the dough to rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. Non-food items: Foreign objects such as toys, soft rubber objects, stringy objects (thread, yarn, tinsel), coins, and medicine are perhaps a greater risk to cats than food. Aspirin, Tylenol, and Motrin are all highly toxic and a single tablet could be lethal. If you suspect your cat ate any of these foods, first try to determine what and how much he or she ate. You should then call us or your veterinarian to see if medical attention is needed. If a veterinarian is not available, call either Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. Do you have a dog? Most foods that are toxic for cats are also toxic for dogs. Check back here later for a dog-specific list of toxic foods. If you’re unsure about a certain food and it’s not on this list, call your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is worth the call!
Happy National Dog Day! National Dog Day (also known as National Dog Appreciation Day and International Dog Day) arrives each year on August 26th and is a chance to reiterate to the public how many shelter dogs are in need of a home. The day also serves to acknowledge and appreciate the dogs we already have that selflessly save our lives, keep us safe, and bring love and companionship into our homes every day. The day was created in 2004 by Celebrity Pet and Family Lifestyle Expert, Animal Behaviorist, and Author Colleen Paige after she adopted her dog, Sailor. Sailor, who was only seven months old, was being starved and tortured in a shelter. Paige wants this day to “encourage dog ownership of all breeds, mixed and pure – to help abolish puppy mills and end breed specific legislation so we can create a world where all dogs (and every animal) can live a happy, safe and ”abuse-free life.” Even if you don’t have a dog you are encouraged to celebrate the day. Even donating as little as $5 to your local rescue group can be a great help. National Dog Day lists 20 more ways to celebrate. Some of our favorites include:
- Volunteer at your local shelter by walking or playing with a dog, cleaning cages, or assisting with anything else they need help with.
- Do a home safety check to make sure it’s safe for your dogs and for others.
- Buy your dog a new toy to play with. Or three toys.
- Write your local Congressman and ask that he or she support the ban of Puppy Mills and Gas Chambers in your state.
- Order an adorable dog shaped flower arrangement from 1-800-Flowers.com and enjoy a 10% discount by using code DOG when placing your order.
- Have a National Dog Day party and invite all your friends and their dogs!
Is your dog or cat microchipped? In a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters, only 22% of dogs and less than 2% of cats that were not microchipped were reunited with their owners. The return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52% and for cats it was about 38.5%. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have joined together to create a day for reminding pet owners to have their pets microchipped and to keep the registration information up-to-date. “National Check the Chip Day” is this Friday, August 15th. A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the size of a grain of rice. Instead of running on batteries, the microchip is designed to be activated by a scanner that is passed over the area and then it transmits radiowaves that send the identification number to the scanner screen. Microchips are also designed to work for 25 years. Implanting the microchip is as simple as a quick injection between the shoulder blades and can be done in a routine appointment. No surgery or anesthesia is required and it is no more painful than a typical injection. You can take advantage of the day by making an appointment with us to have your pet microchipped. Then be sure to immediately register the chip. There are many databases that allow you to register your pet’s microchip but the one that animal shelters and veterinarians search first is AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. Or, if your pet is already microchipped, you can check the chip’s registration information by going to the manufacturer’s database and making sure everything is up-to-date. Most of the time if an animal is microchipped and not returned to their owner, it’s because the information is incorrect or there isn’t any information provided. A microchip does not replace identification tags or rabies tags. Identification tags are the easiest and quickest way to process an animal and contact the owner. If the pet is not wearing a collar or tags, or if either the collar or ID tag is lost, a microchip may be the only way to find a pet’s owner. Rabies tags allow to others to quickly see that your pet is vaccinated against the disease. It is more difficult to trace a lost pet’s owners with rabies tags as it can only be done when veterinary clinics or county offices are open. Microchip databases are online or can be reached through the phone 24/7/365. You can use this useful flyer from the AVMA to keep a record of your pet’s microchip number and manufacturer. Since 1981, Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic has been serving the unique concerns pet owners throughout Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania. We provide full-service, comprehensive medical, surgical, and dental care for small animals. We offer a broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures through in-house laboratory testing and radiology. Our animal hospital features a well-stocked pharmacy, surgical suite, radiology suite, and a closely-supervised hospitalization area. We are members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), and Veterinary Information Network (VIN). We proudly sponsor the Last Chance Fund, which cares for abused and neglected, unowned companion animals. We also sponsor Summit Search and Rescue, a non-profit agency that provides mantrailing bloodhounds to assist local agencies in locating missing individuals.
You probably heard it repeatedly right around the Fourth of July in relation to fireworks—leave your pets at home. But the reason extends to more than just fireworks. Many dogs are frightened by loud noises and almost all aspects of a thunderstorm: wind, rain, thunder, lightning, and even atmospheric pressure. These fears can develop even if your dog has not had any traumatic experiences. The level of anxiety your dog experiences depends on the individual dog. Some dogs whine and pace while others injure themselves trying to escape. The most common reactions to loud noises are destruction and running away or escaping. To reduce his fears, your dog might seek out a place where the thunder or loud sounds are less intense. You can try a few different things to ease his fears. First is to create a “safe place” or somewhere that is safe for your dog to be and is readily accessible. Let him choose this place by seeing where he goes during a storm and making this a space he can retreat to when he is scared. Another option is to distract your dog. This works best when your dog is just beginning to get anxious. Engage your dog in an activity he likes that will capture his attention and distract him from the noises. This can mean a game of fetch, practicing behavioral commands, or even listening to calm music. While it may seem counter-intuitive, do not attempt to reassure or soothe your dog too much when he is afraid. This includes over petting and giving him treats. Attempting to do so may reinforce the fearful behavior and make it worse. You should, instead, stay calm and as relaxed as possible. Another interesting option is a snug-fitting garment or shirt, such as the ThunderShirt. Products like this apply gentle, constant pressure and are designed to calm anxious dogs. They have a calming effect similar to swaddling a baby. If you prefer to make your own, you can buy a small t-shirt and put your dog’s front legs through the armholes of the shirt. The shirt should fit snugly around your dog’s torso. You can also try behavior modification. Counterconditioning is when the animal is taught to display acceptable behavior instead of the unacceptable one. You can do this by only playing your dog’s favorite game or giving him his favorite toy right before and during a storm. Another modification is desensitization. This is when your dog’s response is decreased while exposed to increasing levels of what they’re afraid of. For a noise phobia, start with the noise at a quiet level and work your way to a louder volume level. If you feel that his anxiety is out of control, consult your veterinarian as medication can be prescribed to temporarily alleviate your dog’s anxiety. Do not give your dog any over the counter or prescription medication without asking your vet first. What works for a human may be fatal to your dog. If you have any concerns or questions, please give us a call at 717-697-4481. Since 1981, Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic has been serving the unique concerns pet owners throughout Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania. We provide full-service, comprehensive medical, surgical, and dental care for small animals. We offer a broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures through in-house laboratory testing and radiology. Our animal hospital features a well-stocked pharmacy, surgical suite, radiology suite, and a closely-supervised hospitalization area. We are members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), and Veterinary Information Network (VIN). We proudly sponsor the Last Chance Fund, which cares for abused and neglected, unowned companion animals. We also sponsor Summit Search and Rescue, a non-profit agency that provides mantrailing bloodhounds to assist local agencies in locating missing individuals.
Sit. Stay. Now read. Training your dog can take a lot of time and sometimes it even seems like you’re not making any progress. But what if that’s because you’re not doing it in the best way possible? Dogs thrive from positive reinforcement. That is, if they do something right or well, they will get rewarded. Positive reinforcement can be the tone of your voice, a toy, or an edible treat. Negative reinforcement should never include hitting. Following some of the simple training guidelines listed here can make all the difference. 1. Make sure your whole family is doing the same training techniques. If you use the command “stay” and someone else uses “wait,” you won’t get the results you’re looking for. You should also make sure that you are all rewarding your dog for the same behaviors. 2. Make the commands simple and short. Try to keep your commands to one or two words. Sit, stay, come, here, down, lie down, etc. 3. If your pet does something right, reward him or her immediately. If you wait, they may not associate the reward with the action. 4. Make sure to reward your dog with something he or she will enjoy. Food treats tend to work especially well but other positive reinforcements can include praise, petting, or a favorite toy or game. 5. As your dog begins to learn the command, slowly ease up on how often he or she is rewarded. Go from continuous reinforcements to only intermittent reinforcements. You should get to the point where you are only giving a reward for the behavior occasionally. All dogs are different so it is important to remain patient and consistent with your training. Your family should spend some time every day reinforcing the good behaviors. You can find a program led by an accredited instructor but the real work needs to be done at home. A trainer trains the family while the family trains a pet. Happy training and good luck! Since 1981, Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic has been serving the unique concerns pet owners throughout Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania. We provide full-service, comprehensive medical, surgical, and dental care for small animals. We offer a broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures through in-house laboratory testing and radiology. Our animal hospital features a well-stocked pharmacy, surgical suite, radiology suite, and a closely-supervised hospitalization area. We are members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), and Veterinary Information Network (VIN). We proudly sponsor the Last Chance Fund, which cares for abused and neglected, unowned companion animals. We also sponsor Summit Search and Rescue, a non-profit agency that provides mantrailing bloodhounds to assist local agencies in locating missing individuals.