Category Archives: Medical Advice

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Pet Food Nutrition Advice

by Dr. Patty Gabig

Pet-food-regulatory-1704PETlabel (002)The​ ​Pet​ ​food​ ​industry​ ​has​ ​grown​ ​so​ ​much​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past​ ​decade​ ​that​ ​deciding​ ​what​ ​type​ ​of​ ​food​ ​to​ ​feed​ ​your pet​ ​can​ ​be​ ​an​ ​ordeal​ ​and​ ​even​ ​worse​ ​when​ ​you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​with​ ​a​ ​dietary​ ​intolerance​ ​or​ ​disease,​ ​like kidney​ ​failure.​ ​​ ​It’s​ ​hard​ ​not​ ​to​ ​be​ ​persuaded​ ​by​ ​all​ ​the​ ​advice​ ​“out​ ​there”​ ​from:​ ​​ ​advertisers,​ ​breeders,​ ​the pet​ ​store​ ​check​ ​out​ ​clerk​ ​or​ ​on-line​ ​(Food​ ​Babe,​ ​The​ ​Dog​ ​Food​ ​Advisor)​ ​to​ ​name​ ​a​ ​few.​ ​​ ​Who​ ​to​ ​trust?​ ​The best​ ​way​ ​to​ ​make​ ​an​ ​informed​ ​decision​ ​is​ ​with​ ​your​ ​pet’s​ ​veterinarian.​ ​Your​ ​vet​ ​understands​ ​your​ ​pet and​ ​can​ ​help​ ​you​ ​find​ ​some​ ​good​ ​options​ ​or​ ​point​ ​you​ ​in​ ​the​ ​right​ ​direction.

Nutrition​ ​Tips/Advice
-If​ ​you​ ​pay​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​for​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​it​ ​doesn’t​ ​guarantee​ ​that​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​good​ ​diet.
-It’s​ ​not​ ​the​ ​ingredients​ ​but​ ​the​​ ​​nutrients ​that​ ​are​ ​most​ ​important​ ​in​ ​a​ ​good​ ​food.
-If​ ​the​ ​label​ ​does​ ​not​ ​list​ ​the​ ​calories,​ ​put​ ​it​ ​back.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​red​ ​flag​ ​for​ ​possible​ ​quality​ ​control​ ​issues.
-If​ ​the​ ​product​ ​does​ ​NOT​ ​indicate​ ​that​ ​it​ ​meets​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements,​ ​don’t​ ​buy​ ​it.
-Recipes​ ​for​ ​homemade​ ​or​ ​raw​ ​meat​ ​diets​ ​MUST​ ​meet​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements
-Many​ ​on-line​ ​or​ ​in​ ​print​ ​​ ​for​ ​homemade​ ​recipes​ ​and​ ​raw​ ​meat​ ​diets​ ​do​ ​NOT​ ​meet​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements
-Consult​ ​with​ ​a​ ​veterinary​ ​nutritionist​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​going​ ​to​ ​feed​ ​a​ ​homemade​ ​or​ ​raw​ ​meat​ ​diet.
-“Pre-Mix”​ ​diets​ ​where​ ​you​ ​just​ ​add​ ​the​ ​meat​ ​usually​ ​do​ ​not​ ​meet​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements.
-The​ ​first​ ​ingredient​ ​on​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​label​ ​does​ ​not​ ​always​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​that​ ​is​ ​the​ ​main​ ​ingredient​ ​your​ ​pet​ ​is getting​ ​when​ ​fed.
-Pet​ ​food​ ​labels​ ​can​ ​be​ ​misleading.​ ​In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​really​ ​tell​ ​what​ ​%​ ​protein,​ ​carbohydrate​ ​or​ ​fat​ ​is​ ​in​ ​a product​ ​you​ ​must​ ​calculate​ ​it.​ ​​ ​A​ ​good​ ​calculator​ ​can​ ​be​ ​found​ ​at:​ ​​ Click​ ​on​ ​the​ ​“​help”​ ​button and​ ​select​ ​“​guaranteed analysis converter”​ ​from​ ​the​ ​drop​ ​down​ ​menu.​ ​Enter​ ​the​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​product information​ ​in​ ​here. 
-Cats​ ​are​ ​​carnivores,​ ​blueberries​ ​may​ ​sound​ ​great​ ​but​ ​they​ ​gain​ ​no​ ​nutritional​ ​value​ ​from​ ​them.
-The​ ​term​ ​“human​ ​grade”​ ​can​ ​be​ ​misleading.​ ​If​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​lists​ ​itself​ ​as​ ​human​ ​grade​ ​then​ ​ALL​ ​of​ ​the ingredients​ ​must​ ​be​ ​human​ ​grade.​ ​Not​ ​just​ ​one​ ​ingredient,​ ​like​ ​chicken,​ ​for​ ​example.

Reliable​ ​Internet​ ​Sources
-Pet​ ​Nutrition​ ​Alliance​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​
-Petfoodology-Tufts​ ​University VMC​ ​Clinical​ ​Nutrition​ ​Service
-Blog​ ​by​ ​Dr.​ ​Lisa​ ​Weeth​ ​DVM​ ​DACVN​ ​​ ​​
-AAFCO​ ​(Association​ ​of​ ​American​ ​Feed​ ​Control​ ​Officials​ ​information​ ​for​ ​Pet​ ​Owners)
-Q&A​ ​with​ ​Rebecca​ ​Remillard​ ​Phd,​ ​dvm,davcn-search​ ​various​ ​topics​ ​​ ​​ Select:​ ​“Ask​ ​the​ ​Nutritionist”​ ​from​ ​the​ ​menu​ ​bar

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Have a “Cat Happy” Visit


By Dr. Liz Dailey

The Staff at Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic loves cats and dogs! We also realize cats are not little dogs. Here, we make every effort to meet your cat’s unique needs. Our goal is to ensure your cat has as easy an appointment as possible.

Feliway, a cat specific pheromone, sprayed about 15 minutes prior to placing your cat in the crate for travel, will decrease the stress the car ride may cause. This pheromone encourages a feeling of familiarity and security. It helps generate comfort and reassurance while cats cope with challenging situations.

In an effort to meet these goals and ensure the best experience for your cat, we follow specific cat friendly parameters. The veterinary visit begins at home, placing your cat in 20170210_160325the carrier. Cats love dark, small places. A carrier crate is perfect in affording a safe, comforting spot. Place the crate in a room your cat spends a lot of time, add comfortable bedding, treats, toys and a towel over the crate, your cat won’t be able to resist. Allowing your cat access to the crate at all times will facilitate an easy transfer for travel.

The safest place for your cat in the car is on the floor behind the passenger seat with the front seat moved as far back as possible, wedging the crate in place. Once you arrive at WHVC we do our best to get your cat into the exam room as quickly as possible. We realize the waiting room can be stressful.

Once in the exam room, the veterinary technician will take apart the carrier, if possible, allowing your cat to become comfortable with the surroundings. Cats may remain in the carrier, hide under a towel, or explore. During the appointment we attempt to move quietly, slowly, gently and deliberately. We keep our voices down. Our goal is to provide a safe, non threatening environment where cats can be examined calmly and effectively. We strive to avoid reaching “the threshold” beyond which nervous cats become angry, frightened or aggressive. After all, we understand cats do not realize that restraint, examination, and drawing blood are an effort to help them.

Our staff also regularly attends continuing medical education sessions. We utilize the most current feline research to best understand feline body language and facial and behavioral cues. When you reach home remember that your cat smells very different to other household cats and conflict could ensue. If necessary, place the opened carrier in a solitary space to allow the feline patient to eat, rest, and smell “right.”

We strive to keep your cat healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: What Is Wellness?

Your pet’s yearly appointment for a check-up and vaccinations is to keep your pet well. In that visit, your veterinarian is checking for problems visible on a physical exam. We examine your pet’s eyes, ears, hair coat, and skin, listen to the heart and lungs, palpate the abdomen, assess the lymph nodes, and look at the mouth and teeth. Any abnormalities will be discussed and treatment or additional testing recommended.

9067These tests might include: bloodwork, urinalysis, stool samples, radiographs, or ultrasounds.

Vaccinations are another way we keep pets well. Recommendations are based on the pet’s age and lifestyle.

Other routine wellness tests in southeastern PA include: at least yearly fecal samples to decrease the risk of transmitting intestinal parasites, which can be zoonotic (a disease communicable from animal to man), with potential serious consequences in children. Dogs are screened for heartworm (transmitted by mosquitoes) and Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma (all transmitted by ticks). Kittens are screened for feline leukemia and feline immunosuppressive virus.

As pets age, they are at risk for chronic illnesses such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, and cancer. These diseases may not be apparent to you in the early stages. “Wellness” bloodwork can detect problems earlier, and therefore the disease can be treated more effectively before the pet is noticeably ill, losing weight, etc. Wellness bloodwork can also be used as a baseline for future comparison.

If you have questions about why we make certain recommendations, please ask your veterinarian at your pet’s visit. A website that I often recommend to clients for additional information is: It is a good source for accurate information about a range of veterinary subjects.

Anne C Barnhart, VMD

Vet Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: World Rabies Day

By: Naomi Hedrick, Veterinary Technician

As someone working in the veterinary field, I can tell you that there aren’t too many animal-related things that scare us. But there is one word that can stop us all in our tracks. The Big Bad, Grand-daddy fear of them all…rabies. Now, I know some of you are thinking that this is a pretty heavy topic for September’s blog. The kids are back in school, football is on TV, and pumpkin everything is coming. Good times! The reason for such a serious topic is that September 28th is World Rabies Day. Co-sponsored by the CDC and the Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC), this date is a global health observance that seeks to raise awareness about rabies and enhance prevention and control efforts. It’s been celebrated in the U.S. and many other countries since 2007. In honor of this, I thought it would be a good idea to address the topic of rabies and perhaps answer any questions you may have in regards to this deadly and deadly serious disease.

Rabies is found on every continent right now which means that no matter where you go, you have a chance of encountering an animal with rabies. So let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of what rabies is, how it is transmitted, and what the clinical signs and symptoms are. Rabies is a virus, specifically a rhabdovirus, that is relatively unstable in the environment and that can affect the central nervous system of any mammal. The usual suspects for rabies are raccoons, coyotes, skunks, bats, and foxes, with the raccoon being the most commonly affected mammal in the Eastern United States.

The most common method of transmission is through the saliva of an infected animal – typically from a bite, but there are cases of transmission via inhalation of infected particles and organ transplants with infected tissue. Once in the body, the virus incubates for a few months to up to a year while it slowly travels up the nervous tissue to the brain. After reaching the brain, the virus quickly starts replicating in vast quantities and spreads to the salivary glands first, and then to other tissues. At this point, symptoms begin to show and treatment becomes impossible.

Infected animals may exhibit two forms of rabies. Dumb rabies presents with paralysis or loss of coordination. Animals infected with furious rabies (think Cujo) will show aggression, lack of fear, or excitability. Furious rabies may then progress into dumb rabies. Once animals enter into the dumb rabies phase they will eventually lapse into a coma and die. Onset of symptoms to death usually takes 1 to 10 days. Once symptoms start to show, in us and in animals, it is nearly impossible to treat. The Pennsylvania Game Commission, which has some great information on their website, says that only “1-3 individuals are thought to have survived in recent years”. Not very good odds.

But there is good news. Prevention has been successful in domestic animals through vaccination and through limiting contact with wild life. For those of you, like me, who have indoor only cats, you might wonder about the need for the vaccine. My cats never go outside, but twice in the last 2 years I have had bats get into the house. Also, it’s the law in Cumberland County. “All dogs and non-feral cats 3 months of age and older must be vaccinated against rabies”. What all of this boils down to is to get your pet regularly vaccinated against rabies and try your best to limit their contact with wildlife and other animals of unknown vaccine history. Because with rabies, prevention is really the name of the game.

If your pet is overdue for a rabies vaccine, give us a call at 714-697-4481 to schedule an appointment.

Pet Diabetes

November is National Pet Diabetes Month. Are your pets at risk? The likelihood of your cat or dog developing diabetes is anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 500 and experts say those numbers are increasing. Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a disease that affects glucose in your pet’s blood and is caused by a shortage of insulin or when the body can’t process insulin properly. Diabetes in dogs is usually type 1 while diabetes in cats is usually type 2 but can progress to type 1.

The food that your pet eats is broken down into small components that the body can use. One of the components, carbohydrates, is converted into sugar or glucose. If there is too little insulin or the insulin cannot be processed correctly, then the glucose is not able to enter the cells and provide energy. Because the cells cannot absorb glucose, a diabetic pet may always want to eat but still look malnourished.

If your pet exhibits the following symptoms, he or she may have diabetes:
-Excessive drinking or urination,
-increased appetite (early stages) or loss of appetite (late stages),
-weight loss,
-lethargy or weakness, and
-vomiting or other intestinal problems.

If your pet has these symptoms then let us or your veterinarian know so we can get started on creating a plan for your and your pet. Although diabetes is not curable, it can be managed with daily insulin injections and changes in diet (and exercise for dogs). Oral medications have shown to be not particularly helpful. Successful management of your pet’s diabetes means that he or she can live a happy and healthy life. Making sure that your pet is eating a proper diet, gets regular exercise, and maintains a healthy weight can be a big help in preventing diabetes.

For more information about pet diabetes, visit

Valentine’s Day Safety for Pets

Valentine’s Day is a great time to show your pets how much you love them, but be careful, may Valentine’s Day treats can contain hidden dangers to your pets.

For example, many chocolates contain the sweetener Xylitol. While Xylitol is safe for people, even small amounts can cause significant health problems for pets. Our recomemndation: you and your human loved ones should eat all of the Valentine’s Day chocolate yourselves!

What causes pet periodontal disease?

Pet periodontal disease starts when bacteria form plaque on the teeth. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with plaque to form tartar, a hard substance that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria work their way under the gums and cause gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. These bacteria can then travel in the bloodstream to infect the heart, kidneys and liver.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Don’t turn your nose to Fido’s or Fluffy’s bad breath! That odor might signify a serious health risk, with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums but its internal organs as well.

To address the significance of oral health care for pets, the AVMA and several veterinary groups are sponsoring National Pet Dental Health Month in February.

Starting in February we will be sharing information about how you can identify pet dental health problems and how you can proactively minimize the risk of them occurring. Stay tuned!