Category Archives: pet safety

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Fit vs. Fat: Cat Edition

By Terri Heck

We all want our feline friends to be happy and healthy. By taking an active role in their weight management we can achieve that goal. Overweight cats can be predisposed to diabetes, heart and joint disease among other health issues. Discuss a weight loss program with your veterinarian to determine the best approach for your cat. Age, current condition and other medical factors need to be assessed in order to have a comprehensive, successful and safe weight loss plan. Weight loss in cats must be accomplished very slowly – 1-2% per week is recommended. Too rapid weight loss can result in severe liver disease in the cat.


In natural surroundings a feral cat has to hunt for its food. Food acquired is accompanied by physical exertion. There is rarely too much input in that setting. Import can be regulated for our house dwelling cats.

  1. Drop the amount of food fed 10-15%, at most, to start.
  2. Feed a measured amount twice daily. Avoid free feeding.
  3. Change to a less caloric dense food.
  4. Discuss prescription diets available for overweight cats with your veterinarian.
  5. Toss measured kibble one at a time–have the cat work for the food.
  6. Alternate the location of the bowl throughout the house–have the cat hunt for the food.
  7. Food dispensing toys are available for the cat. This is another way for them to work for the food.


Increasing output or exercise in conjunction with a healthy diet change can not only aid in weight loss but in the actual physical condition of the cat as well.

  1. Supervised play with cat safe toys.
  2. Rotate toys so there is always “something new”.
  3. Wind-up toys.
  4. Interactive toys, i.e. fishing rod type toys.
  5. Tunnels, obstacle course, etc.
  6. Climbing posts.
  7. Add a playmate.
  8. Pick sedentary cat up and move to another area of the house.
  9. Leash walking for the trainable type.


Monitor your program and progress by weighing your cat every 3-4 weeks. Adjust diet and exercise to regulate and continue safe and effective weight loss. Remember 1-2% weight loss per week is the maximum recommended. As the pounds go down you may have the added advantage of your feline friend becoming more active. Achieving your weight loss goal for your cat will be instrumental in improving his/her quality of life. Remember to start with an exam for your cat and discussion with your veterinarian. Certain medical conditions can lead to obesity and lethargy. Annual exams continue to be very important for the overall health of the cat. Above all enjoy your cat and your relationship!


Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: National Pet Preparedness Month

By: Elianna Brook, WHVC technician

We’ve all at one point or another had worries about natural disasters. Whether water, wind, fire, or other natural anomaly, the thought of mother nature belting out her best (and worst) can be a scary thought. But have you ever thought to plan for your pet’s well-being if such an event were to occur? It’s easy enough for us to hop in our vehicle and leave town if need be, but when it comes to keeping our furry friends safe, there are other steps that need to be taken.

Being prepared for your pets during a natural disaster means more than having a bag packed for yourself and a space in your car. Have a plan ready ahead of time. Microchips, collars, and ID tags are imperative in the event your pet goes missing. Often people move or change their phone numbers and forget to update their dog’s (or cat’s) tags and microchip information, so be sure to keep those things up to date. Some of these events require an owner to bunker down in a shelter or travel to a family or friend’s residence that may not allow for your pets to join. If warning of a natural disaster is to arise, it would be wise to call around to local shelters (both human and animal), kennels, and hotels to see if your pets are welcome to stay there during the storm.

It’s never recommended to leave your pet at home should an evacuation occur. If an unforeseen event should arise while you are not home, having a friend, relative, or neighbor handy to help your animals is a smart alternative. Be sure to have “rescue alert” stickers at the entry ways of your house. These stickers alert emergency responders as to how many animals are in the home and what species they are. If you or someone else is able to take the animals from your house, don’t forget to write “evacuated” on the stickers so anyone coming after the disaster knows not to look for the listed animals.

Along with having your necessary belongings packed, an owner should also have an evacuation kit prepared for their pet(s). Things to include in this would be their food (in an airtight, waterproof container), water, bowls, medications (and treats or other things necessary to give the meds), litter/litterbox for cats, poop bags, a can opener, toys, bedding, medical records (any current prescriptions, vaccine history, microchip number, etc.), dish soap or other liquid detergent, an extra leash/collar/harness, blanket(s), a flashlight, and pillowcases for cats. The last item listed may sound strange, but anyone with cats knows they may not be easy to get into a carrier on short notice so in the event of an emergency, a pillowcase is a safe alternative (not for long term housing, but if a quick escape is necessary). It’s also a good idea to have pre-made flyers in case your little one goes missing.

After a natural disaster, it’s not uncommon to encounter unfamiliar animals who have lost their way. It’s best to not approach these animals. They may be carrying disease (rabies, distemper, leptospirosis, etc.) or not be behaving normally due to disorientation or fear. Be sure to have your pets up to date with all necessary vaccines and on preventatives like Heartgard for heartworm disease. Pending the weather, there may be more mosquitoes or ticks afterward and those pesky little buggers are the transmitters of heartworm and Lyme disease. It’s also advised that an owner leash walk their pet for at least a few days after a natural disaster as the environment may have changed and can cause confusion. A dog who was once trusted to stay in the yard may wander off not realizing he or she is doing so. Watch for downed power lines and other hazardous conditions.

Natural disasters can be terrifying, overwhelming, and occur without warning. Being prepared in advance is key to the welfare of both you and your pets. Like anything else in life, there’s no guarantee that this information will provide 100% safety and security during an unpredictable event such as a hurricane, flood, or forest fire, but giving your pets the best chance for a happy, healthy life afterward is definitely something worth planning for.







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Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Treat or Toxin? Fruits & Veggies


Fruits and Vegetables for the Dog

Treat or Toxin?

By Terri Heck, CVT

shutterstock_173699618There is a long-standing disagreement on whether or not dogs are true carnivores. Primarily they are meat eaters but in the wild they ingested far more than muscle meat. Contents of the stomach and intestines of their prey were often of vegetation origin. Wolves and wild dogs often munch on plants and berries. There is a basis for fruits and vegetables to be part of canine nutrition.

We enjoy giving treats to our canine companions. Bits of fruits and vegetables can provide healthy nutrients and are often less calorie dense than many dog treats. Important to stress: Not all fruits and vegetables are safe – some are actually toxic.

Sensible and Safe: Apples (no seeds), bananas, pumpkin, green beans, romaine lettuce and spinach, peaches (no pits!), watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mango, cucumbers, green beans to give a few ideas. Moderation is the key with any of these.

CAUTIONS: Grapes, raisins avocado, onion, garlic, asparagus and cherries should be avoided. The red part of tomatoes are fine but the green stems are toxic. Mushrooms should always be on the “do not give” list.

Small bits of fruits and vegetables are typically less calorie dense and healthier than dog treats. Dried fruits prepared without added sugar, frozen green beans – fresh is great but consider these options as well. Enjoy treating your dog to a healthy snack.

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Have You Checked the Chip?

By: Elianna Brook, WHVC technician

During the peak of vacation season and fun in the sun, we often forget the anxieties these joyous times bring our furry friends. Whether your pets travel with you, are kenneled, or watched after by trusted friends or family, the chances of them getting away are very high during these times. You may say your dog would never run away or your cat never leaves the house, but stressful times may change these habits in your pets.

If you were to (heaven forbid) get into a car accident while your cat or dog was traveling somewhere with you, during which time they escaped from your vehicle and didn’t know where they were, the best way to maximize their chance of returning home safely is having them microchipped and following up with registering that chip to you. The first thing most animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and police do upon finding a “stray” or lost pet, is to scan for a microchip. These tiny chips are placed just under the skin, typically between the shoulder blades or in that general area. The procedure is often done in correlation with a young pet’s spay or neuter surgery while they’re under anesthesia, but the implants are also placed while animals are awake. It’s a quick procedure that takes just about as long as a regular vaccine administration. These chips may migrate through time, so having your chipped pet scanned at routine veterinary appointments is not frowned upon.

Each year in the United States, about 7,600,000 cats and dogs enter animal shelters. Of those 7.6 million, only about 649,000 are returned home safely to their owners. Imagine how many more pets would find their way home if everyone had their companions microchipped.

Any time of change can be scary for your little (or not so little) ones, so ensuring their ability to find their way home is important. Travel, fireworks, and the hustle and bustle of company or workers in and out of your home are just a few things that could spook a cat or dog into running away. Though microchips aid in the reuniting of many pets with their families, they are not GPS devices so you can’t track your critters if they go missing.

National Check the Chip Day is August 15. If you haven’t had your pets microchipped and are interested in doing so or have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact your favorite veterinarian, technician, receptionist, or other member of the Winding Hill team for more information.

Tech Elianna scanning Kevin, an adorable dog adopted by our practice manager, Tena. He was adopted through Furry Friends Network.
Tech Elianna scanning Kevin, an adorable dog adopted by our practice manager, Tena. He was adopted through Furry Friends Network.

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Heartworm and Prevention

Heartworm infestations can be deadly, but if you follow a couple easy steps it’s totally preventable.  Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels. Heartworm is passed from a mosquito taking a blood meal on an affected animal, picking up the microfilaria (baby worms).  The microfilaria then mature in the mosquito. Once matured, the mosquito then takes another blood meal on an unaffected animal; leaving the microfilaria behind, infecting the next animal.

While heartworms can affect any mammal, the one I’m going to focus on is the canine. The few things you can do to make sure your canine friend stays heartworm free is get a blood test i.e. 4DX+, annually. Not only does this test screen for heartworm, it also screens for Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasma. On top of that, you want to keep your dog on heartworm prevention year round. There are a couple different types, but most are a flavored tablet your dog will take once a month. Most canines will take it as a treat. There is a treatment for dogs that come up positive, but it lasts several months and can be expensive. Some signs and symptoms to look for are coughing, loss of appetite, intolerance to exercise, and possible weight loss. You also run the risk of the heart or lungs being damaged permanently, so prevention is the best option. So schedule your heart worm test today!

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Feline Leukemia Virus

By: Dr. Carol Edwards

Most of us have heard of Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), a fatal and contagious disease of cats. It can cause severe and irreversible anemia, cancer, or terminal immunosuppression. One of the issues with the virus is that it can take a month to show up on a blood test. So even if your new cat or kitten has tested negative for FeLV, MAKE SURE TO RE-TEST a month later.

Transmission: Any body fluid can spread the virus. It is most commonly spread in saliva (bite wounds, shared food or water bowls, grooming each other) but can also be spread by blood, venereally, by the queen to her kittens before birth or through her milk.

Kittens are 6-7 times as susceptible to infection because of their immature immune system, and it is generally fatal for them. Infection: The virus infects tonsils and lymph nodes first, and then goes into the blood. Because this can take several weeks, a FeLV test is warranted a month or after any possibility of exposure.

Six-eight weeks after exposure, the virus goes from the bloodstream to actually enter the blood cells themselves and infect the blood cells. Once the virus is inside the blood cells, it is no longer detectable by routine testing. Specialized tests, called IFA and PCR can detect the virus. In adult cats with infected blood cells, the infection can become regressive or progressive.

Regressive Infections:

  • Most common
  • May remain latent (inactive) indefinitely
  • Generally not contagious
  • Requires a specialized REAL Time PCR test to diagnose

Progressive Infections:

  • Can result from any exposure, including Regressive Infections
  • Survival averages ~three years
  • Fatalities secondary to tumors are progressive anemia, immunosuppression, and others

As a result, we recommend FeLV testing:

  1. When you get a new cat
  2. A month after any possible exposure your new cat has had with any other cats
  3. If your cat should be exposed to any cat of unknown FeLV status
  4. If your cat should develop a new illness suggestive of FeLV, is responding poorly to treatment, or has vague, nonspecific symptoms.

If you’re ever concerned about your cat’s health, please call us at 717-697-4481.

Vet Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Cold Weather Safety

It’s starting to feel a lot like winter! So, in addition to the holiday safety tips posted earlier, we would like to remind everyone about potential cold weather hazards to guard against.

One of the most common toxicities seen this time of year is to antifreeze. It has a sweet taste that can attract both dogs and cats, and very small amounts can be lethal. All automotive products should be stored in areas that your pet cannot access, and any spills should be cleaned quickly. There are antifreeze options which are less toxic and are recommended for use in households with pets.

Another common cold weather toxicity is to rat and mouse killers. These products can also be deadly, and can cause a variety of signs including bleeding, weakness, and seizures. Be sure any baits are placed well away from areas your pets frequent or their food storage areas.

Ice melting products can cause irritation to the skin and mouth via direct contact or grooming, or can cause significant illness if ingested. Liquid potpourris are also popular this time of year, and can cause severe damage to the mouth, skin and eyes.

If you think your pet has been exposed to any of these items, please contact our office or the Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680 or the ASPCA Poison Center at 1-888-4-ANI-HELP.

We at Winding Hill wish everyone a safe and happy 2016!

Vet Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Ticks 101

By: Dr. Patty Gabig
Tick Talk
I grew up during the 60’s in a small coal mining town on the edge of the Poconos. The veterinarian nearest to us was 12 miles away and he mainly did dairy work. Dogs and cats ran free in our neighborhoods and parasite control was limited to mainly flea baths, powders, and sprays. I honestly never recall hearing about a tick until many years later. Fleas, worms, and rabies shots were what we cared about in the 60’s. Oh my, how things have changed! If I had known then what I know now as a veterinarian, I would have not rolled down all those grassy hills as a kid. Good thing I didn’t know because it was a lot of fun! So now that I’m a veterinarian and am better informed about many of the potential dangers that lurk in our surroundings, it’s my duty to educate you so that you can make the best decision for your family (pets included, naturally :) ). I’ve included a list of facts about ticks below:
Tick Facts
• Don’t try removing ticks with a match—it will encourage the tick to spread the disease before it comes off. Try removing the tick with tweezers. Grasp it as close to the skin as possible and pull. If you don’t have any tweezers you can cut a slit in an index card or an old credit card and push the slit up under the tick continuing to move forward until it comes off. • Every tick in the United States can carry diseases. We recommend a 4dx blood test to be done every year. You may hear it called the “Heartworm Test” but it does much more than check for heartworm. It also tests for exposure to tick borne diseases such as Lyme, ehrlichia, and anaplasma. The last two you may never have heard of but we see positive tests quite frequently. You can learn more about them by going to the Veterinary Partner website and searching for “ticks” in the search bar. • Even if you don’t live near the woods you can still have a tick problem. Ticks crawl on the ground and up grass blades. Even pets living in New York City have gotten Lyme disease because ticks are everywhere. • April through November are high tick incidence months but we recommend to use tick preventative year round. I’ve personally seen pets that have Lyme disease in the middle of January. Quite a few of these Lyme positive pets are mainly indoor pooches that only go outside when nature calls. Usually these pets have not been on a preventative. • Be careful where you buy your flea/tick preventative, especially if you are buying it online. I have seen firsthand identical packaging of a popular flea/tick product that was confirmed by the company’s representative as counterfeit. The only difference in the packaging was a tiny orange dot that was strategically placed by the real manufacturer in order to determine it was theirs. This is why many preventative manufacturers won’t stand behind a product that is represented as theirs but was bought on a website through a third party. • When buying a flea/tick preventative, if it’s on sale check the expiration date to make sure it won’t expire before you can use it all. Expired product won’t necessarily harm your pet, it just may not work as well. • Laboratory tests for tick-borne disease in people are usually negative the first time around and usually require a second test two to three weeks later. • Ticks are only second to mosquitos in the number of diseases they transmit. • Cats can get ticks too. They can’t groom them away because the tick practically buries its mouth parts in the skin • Ticks can survive in less than ideal environments. We still see live ticks on pets in the dead of winter. if you would like more information about ticks, please visit either the Veterinary Partner or DVM 360 websites. And if you ever have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call us at 717-697-4481.

Vet Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Animal Safety & Protection Month

October was deemed  Animal Safety and Protection Month by the PALS Foundation to promote treating animals with kindness and care. We encounter animals in our everyday lives even if we don’t own any. Whether it is a wild or domestic animal, please treat them all with the same respect and courtesy you would to a human. They can’t speak up for themselves so we have to do it for them. There are many ways you can participate in National Animal Safety and Protection Month. Some are as simple as bringing your pet to the veterinarian regularly to ensure they live a long, healthy live. Others are more in depth and require you to create an evacuation/disaster plan should an emergency occur. Other ways you can participate in this event include: • Microchipping your pet • Making your pet wear a collar with identification tags on it • Calling and getting help for injured wildlife • Volunteer at your local animal shelter • Pet-proofing your home (electrical wires, small toys/clothing items they can choke on or that may obstruct their bowels, candles, toxic foods and plants) • Adopt a pet (but please do not adopt a pet for someone else. Owning a pet is a big responsibility and must be a decision the owner makes for him or herself) • Donating money or supplies to a shelter (blankets, pet food, pet beds, etc) • Educate your children and family on how to properly treat an animal • Have a pet first aid kit • Getting pet insurance. Having to choose between getting your pet good veterinary care and maintaining financial stability is never something we want you to experience. Visit our Trupanion page for information on getting a free 30-day trial • Securing your pets properly when traveling • Giving your pet a nutritious and balanced diet The list goes on and we hope you’re able to come up with some creative ideas on your own!

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.