Cats Dogs News

2016 Cat and Dog Resolutions (For you to do)

Canine and Feline New Year’s Resolutions

Get more exercise

We could all use more exercise, unless of course, you run your dog several miles per day. Dogs that have more exercise tend to be healthier, have joints that last longer and behave better when left alone. The side benefit is an increase to your own stamina and health. And for our feline friends, play with toys at least 20 minutes per day. Jumping, running and any vigorous exercise for your cat is beneficial. Make it fun!

Have your annual physical examination
You should see the doctor every year, and should your dog and cat. Your veterinarian is trained in performing physical examinations and seeing problems before they become evident. Early detection and treatment for many diseases and conditions can save your pet’s life and increase quality of being.

Learn a new trick every few months
If you sit and only watch television, your brain starts to slow and age more quickly. Several studies have shown the same is true with your pet’s brain – use it or lose it. Teaching your dog or cat new tricks will stimulate brain activity and will have health benefits for both the brain and the whole body. All dogs – and even cats – should be taught sit, stay and come. Try paw-shaking for both and other tricks, too. Also try using food puzzle toys. Make your dog or cat think and stay engaged.

Walk the dog more often

Dogs should be walked at least four times per day. When they hold their urine for long periods of time, it increases the likelihood of bladder infections and other problems. For your feline friends, be certain the litter box is always clean. Scoop daily and change the entire contents of the box weekly.

Brush your pet’s teeth

“You want me to brush the dog and cat’s teeth?” Yes. As with humans, good dental hygiene is essential in pets. Tartar build-up leads to bacteria in the bloodstream and can shorten life and quality of life. At your pet’s annual physical exam (see above), your veterinarian will inspect his or her teeth. If needed, your veterinarian will recommend a sedated dental cleaning with x-rays of the teeth. Having bad teeth in the mouth will cause problems beyond bad breath. Start the year with a minty smile.

Explore a new place every week
This is more for dog – get out and walk somewhere new once per week. Change up the routine. I’m certain your dog has checked every tree for pee-mail; give him or her some new surroundings. Walk along the George Washington Trail, explore the C and O Canal in Georgetown, greet visitors on the National Mall. New environments are stimulating for both you and the dog. And for cats, introduce new boxes or cat trees on occasion. They, too like to explore.

Be consistent with feeding amounts
When we doctors ask clients how much they feed their pets, we usually get the reply, “about a cup.” The problem is what is your cup? Is it a standard measuring cup or is it whatever vessel you have available at the time to feed the pet. Use the same exact cup / scoop for all feedings. This is so that if we recommend feeding more or less, it is easy to do! And you can keep feeding consistent between family members.

Microchip and ID tags
In the past we discussed microchips. If your pet does not have one, the New Year is a great time to resolve to have your pet chipped. It is also the perfect time to check that the address and phone number on file with the microchip registry is current. The best way to ensure a lost pet makes its way home is a current, active microchip.

Consider fostering a pet
Have space at home to help a homeless pet? Consider fostering through a local rescue organization. City Dogs Rescue, Washington Humane Society, Lucky Dog Rescue and a host of other rescues could use your help. What greater start to the new year than to help save a life!

From all of us at District Veterinary Hospital, have a healthy, safe, prosperous and love-filled New Year.

Dan Teich, DVM

Originally published in The Hill Rag, January 2016.

Cats Dogs News

Preparing Your Pet For Less Stress at The Vet

This article originally appeared in the Hill Rag. It was written for our client to help make visiting us – and any vet – less stressful. And I have an affinity for sea lions, too. (dt,dvm)

Your dog or cat may not be a sea lion, but looking toward the sea lion at the zoo may help you and your pet with their next visit with us at District Vet. How? Repetitive training. The behavior of a sea lion at a training session is not innate and no animal instinctively rolls over and or hands you his or her paw. We also cannot expect a dog or cat to be fear-free in a veterinary environment without training and positive reinforcement. There are a number of steps that you can take with your pet to make veterinary visits smoother and less stressful.

Start basic training with your friend on the day they arrive home. Most pets have a fear of their feet being touched, causing anxiety when nails need to be trimmed.  This can be readily overcome by playing with their feet on a regular basis. Continue on training by performing a mock exam several times per day. Look in their ears, lift the tail, examine the webbing between the toes, comb their fur, and so on. Give praise and small treats frequently. We are happy to show you how to do all of this during your pet’s appointment or with a technician before your pet has to be seen by the doctor.

For possibly painful or uncomfortable procedures, consider sea lion trainers again: they perform a similar action many times, but in a rewarding environment and without the painful stimulus.  Consider gently pinching your pet on the thigh and shoulder so they will be used to touching in these areas as this is where vaccines are most commonly given. Thus when the real procedure needs to be performed, the dog or cat is already accustomed to the handling and methods being used. This is all part of counterconditioning – getting your dog or cat used to certain actions so that they react minimally to these actions. As one friend puts it, your pet should be completely “ho-hum” about being touched. Such training takes only a few minutes per day and will make everything – from vet visits to bathing and grooming much easier.

Your pet may be used to being handled, but not accustomed to traveling to the veterinary office. The veterinary hospital has other animals and myriad smells present. For some dogs or cats, this can be anxiety-causing. Again, we turn to positive training. If your pet only experiences unpleasantries at the vet, he or she will resent going there very time. Therefore, visit us socially, play in the lobby, have the staff give treats, walk your dog onto the scale, make the visits fun. If there is availability, ask if your pup can visit an exam room – play in there for a few minutes- toss a ball, play catch and then go home. We are happy to provide treats and encourage such visits!

Once accustomed to the doctor’s office, remember to continually reinforce the good behavior by performing the above exercises on a routine basis. Just like us, you either use the skill or you lose the skill.

Frequently clients tell us that they have difficulty getting their cat into a carrier. Consider keeping a carrier open at home, place treats inside, make it a comfortable place for the cat. Remember, in an emergency, you will need to immediately get the cat into the carrier. We also encourage you to take your dog and cat into the car and make short trips. Make the car a routine place, too.

Preparing for a visit to the veterinary office is essential. Know what you feed your pet- the amount, brand and variety. We will ask you this important information. Answering dry or canned food is not acceptable. Unless a routine visit, it may be useful to call ahead and ask these questions: Can I feed my pet before coming? Do you need a stool or urine sample? Is there anything else I should bring? If your pet is afraid of other dogs or cats, kindly request that a room be made available in advance of your arrival. We want to make it as easy as possible on your furry friend.

Sometimes we may request your pet be fasted before the visit. Recently ingested food can result in a large amount of triglycerides, or fats in the blood. These fats can then cause blood tests to be inaccurate. Pack a small baggie with your pet’s favorite treats and bring it with you, especially if your pet is on a restricted or special diet.

So long as we don’t have any reason to restrict exercise, play with your dog for at least 30 minutes prior to visiting the office. This makes them expend most of their energy and as we know, a tired dog is a good dog. Use caution if you have an older dog or if the pet is unwell or is in need of special diagnostic testing.

Upon arrival always have your dog leashed and your cat in a closed carrier. If you have a small dog that is comfortable in a carrier, it may be safest for him or her to come to the office in the carrier. Find a place in the waiting room away from other pets and if your pet is uncomfortable or too excited, request to be placed into an exam room. Most of the time this is possible.

Once in the exam room and with the doctor or assistant, you – the client, need to be prepared as well. Your behavior and actions are key to a successful visit. Many people have their own hesitation visiting the doctor’s office and even shirk away and turn their heads in the presence of needles. The cat or dog will pick up on your queues and may be nervous as well. Be brave and do not let the pet know you are nervous. This is even the case when the pet is ill and you are worried about his or her health. Remain calm, speak clearly and provide support to yourself and the pet.

Your friend isn’t a sea lion, but the same training techniques used by the professionals at the zoo can be applied to make your pet more comfortable at the vet’s office. And we all appreciate a happy, low stress visit.


District Veterinary Hospital

(c) 2015

Cats Dogs Friends News

Happy, Healthy Treats for Your Pup and Kitten – All Local

As cooler weather descends and the holidays sneak up on us, our pups and kittens will be getting less exercise and more treats. We can avoid adding winter weight and continue to show happy love to our dogs and cats. It is imperative to give healthy treats and to avoid choices that may be unsafe or even toxic.

A good place to turn is the local farmers’ markets, such as at Eastern Market. Many fruits are tasty and nutritious for pups. A few are not.

Sliced peaches are yummy and nutritious. We sampled a few this past weekend at Eastern Market. Be certain that the dog does not eat or have access to the pit. Peach pits will get stuck in your dog’s intestines and may need to be surgically removed. Apples are also in season and a few slices will be loved by most dogs. Again, avoid the seeds, but this is because they contain a small amount of cyanide. Eating an entire apple’s worth of seeds will not be toxic, but large quantities can cause serious medical problems. Watermelon, without the rind is cherished, as are strawberries, oranges, kiwis, pineapple, and blueberries.

On the vegetable side, carrots, sliced sweet potato, and broccoli are low in calories and taste great. Be certain to have them in bite-size pieces.

Being at the farmers’ market does not guarantee that item is safe, though. Always steer clear of grapes, raisins and all grape products. They are toxic at any level and should always be avoided. Never feed your dog onions, garlic, avocado, chocolate or other items that contain caffeine.

Many dog like chewable treats. Use these with care. Hooves, bones and antlers are hard and can break teeth. In some cases dogs swallow larger chunks of these items and cause an intestinal blockage. If your dog gnaws them slowly and will not swallow whole pieces, these may work for your pup.

There are a few safer options for chewers. The Big Bad Woof in Old Takoma has tasty Earth Animal products – one of their favorites is a rawhide that is made from chicken which is readily digested. Regular rawhides digest very slowly, which can cause problems if dogs eat larger pieces; these do not have that problem.

Many dogs have allergies to specific proteins, but still like to chew. Howl to The Chief on 8th Street, SE, maintains a large selection of Barkworthies single ingredient products, such as lamb chews and even kangaroo chews. These may be good alternatives for our food allergic canines.

Our feline friends are more discerning regarding their treats. Some like cat grass, others will eat dried fish flakes. Both are available at Metro Mutts, along with dog treats, too.

Even if you are using healthy and natural treats, be mindful that they all contain calories. Too many will lead to excessive weight gain. Although it’s the winter, remember to get your dog or cat regular exercise. It’s good for you and them.

Dan Teich, DVM

Originally published in The Hill Rag

Cats Dogs News

Halloween Safety Reprise.

I love Halloween. Not sure why – probably the pumpkins and the dogs and cats in cool outfits. Well, even Nala, Beth’s feline friend will be dressing up. Halloween presents a number of safety issues for dogs and cats. Here’s a few tips in no particular order to keep our dogs and cats in DC safe.
The front door escape artist: Halloween, after the Fourth of July, is the most common time for pets to become lost. You will be opening the door many times and paying attention to the trick-or-treaters at the door – admiring their Shrek costumes.  In the interim, it is easy for the dog or cat to dash outside, many times unnoticed. It is best to keep your dogs or cats in a closed room away from the front door.
Microchips: Being a former shelter veterinarian, I cannot stress enough the importance of having your pet microchipped. If he or she was to get outside and become spooked, you want the best chance of getting him or her back home as soon as possible. Nearly every shelter and mot vets have microchip scanners and can facilitate getting the two of you reunited as soon as possible. Please talk to us at District Veterinary Hospital about microchips! You can walk in anytime for this service.
Candy! Candy! Candy!: Who doesn’t like Mike and Ikes? But be wary, the dog does, too. Keep all candy far out of reach of the dog, and even cats. Dark chocolate may cause severe problems if ingested as well as many sugar-free candies. Candy without sugar is generally flavored with xylitol, which can cause dogs blood sugar to drop dangerously low and may also cause liver damage.
Pumpkins and corn:  The dog eating too much pumpkin can cause intestinal upset and diarrhea. Eating corncobs may result in intestinal obstruction, requiring emergency surgery to correct.
Keep your cat indoors for a few days: Black cats in particular should not be allowed outside for a few days before and a few days after the holiday. Put simply – not everyone is nice to black cats, especially at this time of year. Many shelters do not adopt out black cats in late October as a safety precaution.
Dressing your pug as Shrek: Please be aware that although the cat may look adorable as a bumblebee, the cat may disagree. If your pet is uncomfortable or struggles at all, take off the costume. Also, please be wary of any buttons, loose cords or thread or anything that the pet may ingest. And NEVER leave your pet unattended in a costume for any length of time. Please also be cautious that the costume doesn’t cause your friend to overheat.
The walks with the kids: Although Fido may enjoy walks, consider not bringing him or her trick-or-treating. As above, there are a lot of scary things going on for dogs and he or she may easily be spooked. You may also encounter other spooked dogs, setting up a potentially unpleasant situation.
Candles and decorations: Halloween is scary enough without your cat lighting his or her tail on fire. I have personally seen this happen. Be careful of all holiday decorations, especially jack-o’-lanterns with candles – these may easily be knocked over, causing harm to your pet and potentially causing a fire. Decorations that make noise or have flashing lights or fast movements may frighten pets as well. As with winter holidays, be wary of stringed lights and all electrical cords, dogs or cats may chew on them or get tangled in them.
Cats Dogs News

Fourth of July – Fireworks and Pets

One Person’s Holiday is his/her Best Friend’s Living Nightmare
By Briana Bryson, Summer Intern

Fourth of July weekend. In the name of celebrating our independence, many of us enjoy using the holiday as an opportunity to socialize with loved ones, consume lots of booze, and blast millions of pounds’ worth of pyrotechnics (mostly) into the air. Because of that last, and particularly loud point, our pets are more likely to spend the patriotic holiday freaking out and cowering under the bed. If news of all the unfortunate alcohol-related incidents during the weekend of festivities isn’t sobering enough, consider this fact – July 5th is reported by animal shelters across the nation as being their busiest day of the year. If your dog or cat is one of the many who react adversely to fireworks and other incessant, loud noises (such as thunderstorms and babies’ cries), this probably comes as no surprise. During the 4th, the anxiety experienced by pets may become high enough to override their normal reasoning abilities, causing them to engage in behaviors they wouldn’t normally do – such as run away from home.

Why is my Dog Freaking Out?

Not every dog has an issue with fireworks, but that is no cause for alarm that you, as an owner, are doing something wrong if your dog reacts negatively. It is important to understand that animals love routine, and they dislike loud, inexplicable noises that are difficult to source. Each year only has room for one 4th of July, and as the holiday that enjoys the most abundant usage of fireworks, it might seem like some sort of Annual Armageddon to your dog. Her fear may be the result of a traumatic experience where they learned to associate the sound with something negative, or it could be the result of the amount of stress caused by prolonged exposure. Regardless of the reason behind the behavior or its commonality, the fact remains that as long as fireworks remain a problem for your dog, her safety, the integrity of your home, and the sanity of both parties will continue to be jeopardized each time the holiday comes around.

How to Help Your Canine

You can’t exactly explain what those terrible crackling noises are to your dog, but you can help her understand that they pose no threat to her well-being. Recognizing the symptoms of her so-called noise phobia can help you plan for pre-emptive measures on getting her through the fireworks show. Such signs include hiding, house soiling, barking, vomiting, shaking, pacing, and attempting to escape. Long before the fireworks begin to report, you should try taking your dog out – on a well-secured leash – and allow her to exercise, in order to reduce stress levels and make sure she’s less energetic later in the day. Once the fireworks begin, keep her inside at all times – scared dogs are particularly effective in getting past fences. Also, make sure there’s a “canine-certified” safe haven your dog can retreat to if she gets scared. Humans tend to have different opinions on the matter and want to resort to a crate, but if your dog retreats to the underside of your bed or your bathtub, then that’s the best place for her to be until she calms down.

Short-term Solutions

These techniques may not strive to eliminate the problem completely, but they can help manage your dog’s symptoms.
• Attention-diversion is an excellent method if employed as soon as the anxious behavior begins. Keeping your dog busy with fun toys or long-lasting chew treats will help relegate the fireworks to a mere background noise.
• The use of calming pheromones can greatly reduce symptoms. These come in the form of mists and ointments that can be rubbed on your dog’s body, or diffusers that can be strategically placed in locations they feel secure.
• There are also several “anxiety vest” products available that you can fit onto your dog. These help reduce stress by making your dog feel secure and targeting certain pressure points.
• For particularly difficult cases, prescription anxiety medications are available that can be used for short-term stress relief.
Gradual Remediation
Ideally, you would want to tackle the issue in a way that prevents it from recurring in the future. Fear is a deeply ingrained animal instinct that is difficult to “train” out, but in some dogs, behavior modification can accomplish just that by focusing on a particular stimuli – in this case, the sound of fireworks.
• The process relies on desensitization and, sometimes, counter-conditioning. Dogs are first introduced to noises, such as a recorded thunderstorm or rainforest, low enough so that they produce no anxiety, sometimes accompanied by a treat. The loudness is gradually increased while carefully ensuring that the dog is comfortable with the new noise level and isn’t forced to endure something unpleasant. This continues until fireworks themselves are tolerated.
• Companies have produced sound therapy CDs that simplify this process by guiding you and you dog through a series of recordings.

For Felines

Cats have one of the widest hearing-ranges among mammals. While that doesn’t explain why, at times, their attention seems eerily focused on particular areas of all but featureless ceilings, it does help account for their sensitivity to fireworks. Many of the techniques used to help cats are similar to the ones outlined above that help dogs:
• Keep your cat indoors, and make sure he can’t get outdoors. Close all doors and windows, and block any cat-doors. In addition to preventing your cat from escaping, this helps filter some of the noise from outside.
• Make sure your cat has somewhere safe to hide if he gets scared. If your cat feels protected under, say, the dining chair you were hoping to use later, it’s best to let him have his way (once again) rather than forcing him out into a more convenient location. Treats can be used to encourage cats into a shelter, if they haven’t already picked one out.
• Keep your cat busy. Engage him in play, and provide an interesting new shelter for him to explore by building a “kitty tent” using chairs and blankets. This shelter can also double as a sanctuary for him to hide in if he gets scared. If he’s particular to catnip, give him a catnip-containing toy to mess with so he’ll be in a nice, drunken state throughout the night (much like many of the human celebrants).
• Desensitization therapy can also be used on cats! With much patience, you can work from short intervals of lowly-recorded fireworks to getting your cat to tolerate the real thing like a champ.

Other Things to Consider

Fourth of July weekend is supposed to be fun. You may feel tempted to travel elsewhere in order to enjoy the festivities, but keep in mind that it’s in your pet’s best interest that a familiar human’s nearby when they’re frightened. Pets, even ones with no history of freaking out during fireworks, should not be brought to shows. Murphy’s Law is particularly relentless when large numbers of people are involved. Also, it is important to note that a well-trained dog is a confident dog, and confidence can help your dog feel more secure in her environment and lead to faster, better results in attempts to address your dog’s fear. With all of that in mind, we wish you good luck and happy holidays!

Cats Dogs News

Fleas – They’re Back!

“ They’re here.” Ok so it’s not Poltergeist, but it is high flea season once again. We at District Vet have a particular hated of these critters that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs (don’t believe me, click here). Fleas crawl through dog and cats’ fur, live there, feed off of them and take pleasure in making more fleas on your pet. Prevention is key as eliminating an infestation is slow, expensive and frustrating.

Aside from being a general annoyance and gross, they can cause some serious medical problems. Most dogs and cats have some degree of allergy to flea bites (think mosquitoes and humans), many pets do not show any signs of flea infestation, but a significant portion of the pet population has severe itching and allergy responses, necessitating veterinary help. This causes damage to the skin, behavioral problems, flaring of other allergies, and intense itching. Fleas also carry bartonella, the bacteria that causes cat-scratch disease, plague (it is still very real and not confided to the Dark Ages), tapeworms, and a few other bugs to boot. It is important to keep fleas at bay. Let’s discuss how.

The flea life cycle is important to understand: Fleas are very efficient at making more fleas. The adults live on your pet and the females can produce 40-50 eggs per day. They feed on your pet’s blood, defecate on the pet and when your dog or cat lays own to sleep, their feces and the eggs falls off the pet. Soon the eggs hatch into larvae (maggots) and they feed on the feces from the adults. Gross, but true. When they are fat enough, they form a cocoon and over the course of several months (or more, if conditions are not ideal), turn into adults. And then they hatch and seek out a new – or the current – pet to feed upon.

Fleas are notoriously difficult to find. Your pet, especially cats, can have an infestation without you ever knowing it. While it is obvious to think that indoor / outdoor pets are at risk for fleas, strictly indoor pets are far from safe. Consider this – you find flying insects and other bugs in your domicile all the time, why not fleas? They readily can hitch a ride in on your pats, shoes, a neighbor’s dog, your other et that goes outside, and don’t’ forget that they can simply seek out your pet on their own. Remember the dinosaurs above. They know how to survive.

We will talk prevention today – discussing eliminating an infestation is for another day. For low-risk indoor cats that do not live with indoor / outdoor pets (dogs or cats) and do not live in ground-floor housing, we recommend using Revolution topically at least twice per year. If they go outdoors, we use it monthly, year-round. If in a house with a dog or indoor / outdoor cat, we recommend it be used at least four times per year. Revolution kills fleas and also prevents heartworm disease, which can be fatal to cats. Although there are other flea products on the market, we have found Revolution to be the safest, most effective and easiest to use. We have Revolution a the hospital and have a promotion where you get one dose free for every three doses purchased.

As for dogs we have changed from topical products to Nexgard – an oral chew. It’s active ingredient rapidly kills fleas (ticks, too) and has proven very effective and safe. And since it is oral, there’s no topical mess and you don’t have to worry about the dog getting a bath or swimming. Brian, The Dog, uses Nexgard. There is also a promotion for NExGard when coupled with Heartgard Plus.
Please keep fleas at bay. They’re gross and can have negative consequences for your furry friends.

© District Veterinary Hospital, 2015

Cats News

Is my cat sick? Signs to observe for illness in cats.

Cats are like canaries – they don’t like to tell us if they are unwell. Cats will hide illness and this can lead to serious medical crisis. Remember the canary – will tweet until it falls off the perch. Careful and routine observation of your feline friend can lead you to understand when he or she does not feel well and allow you to seek early veterinary intervention.

Is your cat eating, drinking and urinating as normal?
Cats, like us humans, may not eat well when ill. If your cat misses a meal, keep a keen watch for the next meal. They usually do not go more than two missed meals if they are normal. Conversely, is your cat eating excessively? This can be seen in a number of disorders, from intestinal disease, to hyperthyroidism, to diabetes. Increased drinking may also be a sign of disease, including kidney problems and diabetes. If your cat is producing much more urine than normal, there may be a medical problem present. And if your cat is not urinating, or only producing very small urinations, he or she may have a urinary blockage and should be seen by us immediately – urinary blockage is a life-threatening emergency and can be fatal.

Are we acting normally?
Is the cat grooming as normal? If ignoring personal hygiene, we worry that the cat is not feeling well. The same can be said if the cat is hiding more than normal and not seeking attention from you. And if the cat is hunched, there may be breathing issues, abdominal pain or other problems. Is the cat vomiting? This can be a sign of a blockage or other problems.

Is kitten breathing abnormally or coughing?
Is breathing normal? Cats may purr when happy, but also when they do not feel well. Coughing is not normal in a cat, either. Coughing can look like sneezing or trying to vomit a hairball. If your cat is hacking, but does not produce a hairball, it probably is a cough. Coughing may be a sign of breathing distress, heart disease or asthma. We should see your cat immediately.

Does the cat have diarrhea or is he/she constipated?
Diarrhea can be caused by intestinal parasites, toxins, inflammatory bowel disease, and other illnesses. Untreated, diarrhea can lead to dehydration and severe problems. Constipation can be a sign of dehydration, kidneys disease or other illnesses. Severe constipation can occur in cats and may require hospitalization. Most cats defecate once to twice per day.

How are the gums?
Gum color can be an indicator of problems. Normal gums are a nice pinkish/red color and when pressed, they return to their normal color within 2 seconds. If the gums are pale to white or if they take a long time to return to their normal color after being pressed, the cat may have anemia, shock or very poor blood circulation. Yellow gums (jaundice) may indicate liver disease. Blue / purple gums can be a sign of low oxygenation and indicates a life-threatening emergency. Very red gums, if generalized, can be a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning, another emergency. Redness around the teeth is usually a sign of dental disease. Excessive bleeding from the gums can be seen with clotting diseases and liver disease.

Does the cat have a fever?
Cat temperature varies from 100.5-102.5 degrees. You can take a cat’s temperature with a lubricated rectal thermometer used to manufacturer’s specifications. If the temperature falls outside of this range, give us a call. If below 99 or above 103, the cat should be seen as soon as possible.

Not all cats show signs of illness. If you feel that your cat is a bit off, we are happy to perform a physical examination and assess your friend. Caught early, may problems can be treated.

Dan Teich, DVM
District Veterinary Hospital
(c) 2015

Cats Dogs News

Don’t Chop Down The Tree – Trim it Safely!

Don’t Chop Down The Tree – Trim it Safely!

For many in our community this ritual happens every December: putting up the Christmas tree. It’s joyful and brings many happy memories and starts the holiday cheer. But beneath this green beacon lays a bit of a more sinister side for pets, especially cats. Let’s discuss Christmas Tree Safety for dogs and cats and exorcise these risks.

Tipping Points

It happens every year to one of our clients – the tree falls over, all the ornaments break – and the cat was the guilty party. Be certain the tree has a very stable base, go bigger than you believe necessary. If a very tall tree, consider tethering the tree to the wall, too. If you have a kitten, consider a tabletop tree until kitten (or puppy) is old enough to not play with everything.

Sap and Water

The water a tree sits in can be toxic or cause vomiting and diarrhea. Simple solution: a high-quality tree skirt clamped to the tree base. It will protect the water from meeting their tongues.

Jumping off Points

Provide the tree with plenty of space – this will prevent the cat from climbing the bookshelf and dive-bombing the tree. It also gives the dog plenty of space to run around it without tipping it over. A corner space with at least 6 feet of clearance on either side should suffice. Unless you have a jungle cat.

Tie Down Those Ornaments

Nothing is like candy to a cat than swinging ornaments. Consider sparsely decorating the bottom third of the tree, keeping the ornaments a bit out of the dog and cat’s reach. Also consider clamping the ornaments with a small clamp or ornament wire. It will prevent treasured keepsakes from falling off and will prevent the cat or dog from accidentally damaging them.

Not Everything is Ornamental

Ornaments that are especially attractive to cats (shiny, swinging, etc) should be placed in the upper branches, far out of reach. Never use tinsel in a house with pets, you are asking for an intestinal blockage or other serious complication from being eaten. Catnip on a tree, again, trouble – never place ornaments with catnip on a tree! Food on the tree (popcorn, chocolate…): nope. Again, trouble. And candles – nope to the real ones. While we like chestnuts roasting, please don’t provide the opportunity to roast the cat or dog (or house!).

Electricity is Shocking

Be certain all electrical cords are well concealed. Taping them to the wall or floor may be of benefit. Do not leave any wires dangling – cats and dogs will want to play with them, may chew through them or may become entangled. Consider unplugging the tree when no one is around to watch it. Be certain that where they are plugged in is inaccessible as well.

A Few Avoidance Tips

Consider spraying any cords with Bitter Apple Spray (we have it at District Veterinary Hospital). Also consider placing citronella-sprayed pine cones around the base of the tree if you have cats. They hate walking on pine cones and citronella may be a good deterrent.

Have a safe and Merry Christmas from all of us At District Veterinary Hospital

dt,dvm – December, 2014

(c) 2014

Cats News

Fun and Care In Kitty Teenage Years

Everyone loves kittens, but the real fun starts when your cat hits the age of one. At this time, your cat is past his “teenage” years, and you can now enjoy all the dedication you gave to training your furry little friend!

Although your cat may be past their more rambunctious phase, they still love to play! Cats love the game of pursuit, so make sure that you continue to play with them often and always. They will always be fascinated with light, movements, shadows, and surprises, so make sure that your cat gets these stimuli often. Cats this age also love to bond, and a great way to do this by brushing them. Most cats like to be stroked, and brushing can remove hairballs and loose hair that would otherwise be flying all over around your home.

Adult cats often obtain three new behaviors: hissing, hiding, and kneading. Hissing and spitting may sound like terrible behaviors, but cats only do this when they feel like they are in danger. This is their mechanism of warding off their enemies, and is used to avoid (not start) a fight. Once this danger is gone, your cat will resume their normal posture. Cats also like to hide in high places because at this point in their lives, they’ve learned that high ground usually leads to an escape. Lastly, your cat may knead your legs when you’re sitting down. This is behavior is learned when they are still nursing, because they knead their mothers. Cats find this to action to be stress relieving, and they often carry it into their adulthood.

Although kittens should be fully vaccinated, they will still require booster shots. This is where District Veterinary Hospital can help you! Call us to schedule appointments for checkups, or if they become sick. Cats also require regular dental care, so be sure to discuss this with us if you are unsure as to what to do. One thing that is uncommon in cats is vomiting. Cats often vomit up hairballs or if they have eaten too much too quickly, but if it persists they should be brought to District Veterinary.

All in all, your cat is now wiser in years but never too old to be your friend, so enjoy them now and forever!

– Britnee Frizol

Cats Dogs News

Dashing into Fall Yard Work! A few Safety Tips.

Fall has arrived and for many in our community, so has fall yard work! Unlike many of us that live in condos in the city, many Brookland have wonderful yards with towering oaks and maples. While the community prepares for winter, there are several considerations you should take to keep your pets and wildlife safe and happy all fall and winter long!

Leaves are not all that bad!

Local wildlife loves leaves. If you can leave leaves under shrubbery or leave a larger pile of branches and leaves in a corner of the yard, you may find box turtles and other wildlife hibernating there over the winter. We will talk about this next week.

Watch out when using yard equipment.

Although many dogs love to play in leaf blower’s gusts, don’t use them when the dog is outside. The gusts they produce can easily hurtle debris into your dog’s eyes, causing trauma. Small sticks can even puncture a dog’s skin. Both of these will cause you to take pup to see us at District Vet. Take care with rakes and other equipment as well. Remember, there might be wildlife in the leaves, too (turtles, toads, etc).


Cocoa bark mulch is highly toxic to dogs and cats. Just don’t use it, please! Cocoa mulch contains many of the same substances as dark chocolate and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and even death. Mulch can also grow many mushrooms, many of which are toxic to dogs and humans. If you see mushrooms, please look up if they are toxic to dogs.

Fertilizers and chemicals

We are generally fans of organic gardens, but there are uses and times for fertilizers and chemicals. It is important to remember that just because something may be organic, it may not be healthy for the dog or cat. When applying organic fertilizers, please be sure the dog does not eat them! If using other fertilizers, check the package for safety instructions or talk to your gardener. More problems are seen with herbicides. It is very important to follow instructions and, if watering is needed, allow the area to dry before allowing the dog or cat (or kid) outside. If your pet eats fertilizer or has been in a fertilized area and is acting unusually, contact your veterinarian asap – we can help! Insecticides and snail baits can be fatal – if you have pets, we generally recommend you avoid their use entirely, if possible. They can cause vomiting, seizures, drooling, diarrhea and even death. Again, call us at District Vet asap if any is ingested.

Make your yard and garden beautiful! Keep your pet safe!