Dogs News

Should I get my old dog a puppy?

I am frequently asked about introducing a new puppy to a senior dog (we will discuss cats another day). There are concerns whether the two will get along. Hopes that the puppy or will bring new energy to an aging pet. Questions about what breed or sex the newcomer should be. We will discuss introduction techniques a bit later.

While we are coming to the conclusion that pets in multipet households tend to live longer and healthier lives, there is a fundamental question that must first be addressed: do you want the responsibility of a second dog? Caring for two is not the same as caring for one, especially considering dogs.

There certainly are social benefits for your dog having a canine companion – they will groom each other and provide friendship when you are not present. They will play with each other and tire themselves out more easily. Puppies will imprint upon the older dog and will learn the rules of the house, reducing training time. And in many cases, the older dog will become more active. An active older dog tends to have less effects from arthritis and other ageing problems, increasing quality of life and possibly, longevity. The puppy will also be housebroken more quickly in many cases. But beware – I’ve also seen the older dog teach the puppy a few dirty tricks as well. Remember that roast that was on the counter? Or that trash can in the kitchen?

Two can be company, but take a few things into consideration. Remember, puppies have lots of energy. It may not be wise to bring home a large breed puppy or a Labrador if you have an aged Jack Russell Terrier or Chihuahua. You certainly do not want to drive the smaller, older pet into hiding, or make them fearful of the new puppy. Then again, I’ve seen the Jack Russell rule the house and bat up the Labrador puppy. Consider introducing a puppy that will be a similar size as your older dog, when fully grown. Also consider similar breed-types: adding a herding dog to a sedentary dog may not go over too well. The size difference is of critical importance when considering Chihuahuas and other delicate breeds. There are some dogs that simply may prefer to be alone. I know a number of such people.

It has been suggested that opposite sexes get along better. Personally, I have seen no difference in outcomes with my clients. The good news is that in almost all introductions – even grossly mismatched pairs, the dogs find a happy medium with time.

Introducing a new puppy should be done with care. Do not immediately assume that the older dog will embrace the newcomer. Have separate bowls for each and enforce the rules about which dog eats out of which bowl. When having a new puppy, we generally recommend crate-training. This will help give the older dog a it of peace as well. In some cases it may be of benefit for the older dog to have a quiet area free from the new puppy.

Cats Dogs News

Opening Day is October 6th!

Why is Brian so happy? It’s because we are opening on the 6th of October. Our first day will have treats for both humans and dogs and cats. There will be an opening party a bit later in the month. The hospital gives high-quality care to all pets in the District and adjacent communities in Maryland. The building is designed to provide a less stressful environment than all other practices through the use of open space, sound-absorbing materials and an overall pleasant feel. District Vet offers both routine and surgical care, digital x-ray, in-house laboratory, full veterinary pharmacy, a self and full-service dog wash for large and small dogs, in-house behavioral training, and more.

Come say hello on the 6th!

Dogs News

Sometimes our job is easy

I wonder what the Labrador ate? Believe it or not, this is not an unique case. A friend recently posted a picture of a Lab with 5 rubber duckies in his stomach.

Cats Dogs News

Summertime Safety!

Summer is finally here! We talked about heat stroke in a recent post, but there a re a number of other issues to be aware of now that the heat is on, kids are out of school and the parties are on. While we at District Veterinary Hospital are busy choosing furniture and seeing housecalls, your pup and family are playing outside, going to the beach, having a bbq, or living life in the heat.

In no particular order, we bring to light a few summer (and even year-round) hazards in addition to heat to monitor:


Parties are fun, but they are filled with lots of food, hot grills (more later on grills), people who do not have dogs or are not paying attention to the dog or cat, kids who may not have experience with pets, pools and a host of other hazards. Always remind all gusts that you have pets, and if you have cats that are not allowed outdoors, be certain to have them in a safe area of the house, cordoned off from guests. Parties are one of the most frequent ways cats and dogs get out of houses / yards and become lost. Instruct guests to not feed the dog and keep all food out of reach of the pup. If kids come over, be certain their parents have instructed them on how to behave around a dog – or if needed, keep them separate from the dog or cat.


The scent of a good bbq is irresistible for a dog. They will jump on a grill and burn themselves. Also, be careful that the grill is firmly planted on the ground – grills have fallen over and burned or crushed dogs (even big dogs – we’ve seen it). Dispose of any hot coals – or even cold coals – far away from access to dogs as well.

The Pool

Not all dogs swim. Remember that. They can readily wander into a pool and even drown. Another routine summer hazard.


Many dogs are scared of fireworks and here in the District, we have lots of them going off before and after the Fourth of July. Dogs may run through screen doors or windows when scared by fireworks. We have seen dogs be scared by fireworks and run away by being spooked. We should also note, keep dogs inside or on a leash should you be lighting fireworks. Otherwise, there is nothing to stop a dog from grabbing the firework before it explodes!

Bugs, snakes, you name it

Those of us who work at District Veterinary Hospital have seen our fair share of bug / rodent / snake – related injuries. Mosquitoes are a problem, but bug spray is not safe for dogs or cats (especially cats). If mosquitoes are bugging you, they are buzzing the dog, too. Also remember fleas and ticks – use approved topical preventives – you can always ask us for our recommendations. In the District / Maryland / Virginia area, we have copperhead snakes. If you see one, leash your dog and avoid it. DO NOT APPROACH THE SNAKE. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO KILL THE SNAKE. Should your dog be bitten, seek emergency care as soon as possible.


Similar to fireworks, many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, even if far away. Take similar precautions as with fireworks. Please see our previous post about thunderstorms on our Facebook page.

Retractable Leashes

For many reasons, we are against retractable leashes. We will have a whole post on why, but here’s the skinny: they are too long to prevent dogs from being hit by cars, they allow dog-dog interactions that are not desired, they can give you severe cuts on your fingers, and more.

Play it safe. And remember, if you have any questions, please ask us anytime.


District Veterinary Hospital


© District Veterinary Hospital, 2014

Dogs Friends News

Summertime and Overheating

It’s summer in Washington – time for tourists, ice cream and panting dogs. We at District Veterinary Hospital want you to be aware of the dangers posed by overheated dogs. It is imperative that all dog owners and people caring for dogs understand the dangers of overheating, known as hyperthermia. A dog’s body temperature may  become elevated secondary to an infection (fever) or from not being able to cool itself off effectively. Both conditions can be dangerous.

Hyperthermia in a dog can be life-threatening – and I have seen deaths from overheating in the past. The normal temperature of a dog is around 101.5°F, plus or minus a degree. Dogs certainly can have an elevated temperature when exercising, but if it exceeds 105°F, the dog is in an emergency situation. This is called heatstroke and it may occur when dogs are in the following situations:

  • Locked in a car with no ventilation (even on relatively mild days)
  • Playing hard in hot and humid weather
  • Staying outside without adequate shade or water
  • Poor ability to regulate temperature (bulldogs, pugs, and other breeds with short / squat noses)
  • Other underlying medical conditions

Special attention to heat should be paid by owners of bulldogs, pugs, maltese, Boston terriers, and other short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds. Older dogs are also more prone to heat problems, especially Labrador retrievers, The problem is that dogs mostly cool off via breathing out hot air – panting. If you have a short nose with poor passage of air, you can readily overheat. Some older labs (all larger breed dogs, too) can have a condition called laryngeal paralysis – where the opening for the trachea in the larynx isn’t held fully open by the muscles in the throat. This causes poor passage of air, too. Also don’t forget that overweight dogs have the same amount of lung as a normal-weight dog – but the lungs have to work even harder.

The first sign of heat stroke is panting and distress, leading to excessive drooling, unsteadiness and possibly very red or even purple gums and ears. You must take action immediately! Here’s what you should do:

  • Get your dog out of the heat
  • Move to a cool, shaded area
  • Get fan and blow air over the dog
  • Place wet towels over the dog’s neck, wet the feet with cool water
  • Seek veterinary care asap

There are things that you should not do as they may worsen the problem:

  • Do not give your dog ice or ice water
  • Do not bathe in cold water
  • Do not leave the dog unattended
  • Do not force the dog to drink

Why should you not dunk the dog in cold water? While the goal is to rapidly reduce the dog’s temperature, rapid cooling causes the blood vessels closest to the cold water to shrivel some, therefore insulating the deeper tissues and preventing them from venting their heat.

Hyperthermia can damage many organ systems, including muscle, kidneys, heart, brain and others. The best treatment is prevention! Don’t leave your dog in the car, stay out of the heat of the day and always remember to take it easy in the heat. If you ever have questions, call us here at District Vet, we are happy to help.

– dan teich, dvm (2014)

Dogs News

Pet Insurance

We are big fans of pet insurance. Differences exist between plans – some are comprehensive and cover everything, others only illness. In general, we recommend illness-based insurance – it will help during those unexpected emergencies and problems. Pet insurance works via reimbursing you, the client directly. When you leave the hospital, you pay the balance and we submit the insurance claim for you. The insurance company then processes the claim and sends you a check. Although we don’t endorse a specific company or plan, the following are several insurance carriers our clients have used. Please research what plan is best for you and your friend.