AAHA Accreditation

On December 5, 2014, District Veterinary Hospital gained American Animal Hospital Accreditation. Our hospital is one of the youngest hospitals to ever achieve accreditation. We built the hospital with the goals and ideals of AAHA in mind – we want to provide the best medicine possible, deliver the best service and be a model for veterinary general practice medicine. While achieving accreditation was our goal – it is also a journey that is continual: with every appointment, with every surgery and with every client interaction, the standards are used and improved upon. We pursued AAHA accreditation as a tool to strive for continued excellence.

AAHA standards also help protect your pet. They are guidelines for anesthesia, surgery, cleanliness, medical records and almost every aspect of veterinary medicine and client care. AAHA accredited hospitals are inspected and adhere to these standards.

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!


Friends News

Mindful Pet Services – Here to help with pet-sitting and medications

We are frequently asked for recommendations for pet-sitting and in-home veterinary technician services. Our friend and former veterinary technician, Doralee Halperin, is the person behind Mindful Pet Services, a service that helps when you need someone to visit your friend while you are away or when you need help with prescribed medical care.

Doralee visits pets at home and will feed your friends, change their litter and give them love, too.  Dogs – no problems – she will love on them, walk them and provide care, too. She will also administer medications, including insulin and fluids, as prescribed. Her business is licensed and insured, too.

Doralee can be found at 202-415-6090, and

Cats News

Size Matters – When Referring to Litterboxes

I like a spacious bathroom – turns out, you cat may, too. Should your cat be urinating out of the box, on a rug (especially a bath mat), spraying walls or urinating in a corner, you may have litter box issues. Of course, if the cat is experiencing these behaviors, it is important to have him or her looked at by us at District Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible to rule out medical concerns / problems. If all is normal, your cat may need a bathroom remodel.

Many cats will enter the litter box, walk around, scratch the sides of the box, then leave to eliminate elsewhere. For some reason the cat is perturbed by the box. We always recommend that boxes be cleaned every day, with all the litter being changed at least weekly. Also, many cats do not like a cover on the box. In addition, you should have more than one litter box for your cat – and the boxes should not be next to each other or near machinery or in loud areas.

If following all of the above, it is possible your litter box is too small. Dr. Norma Guy, a veterinarian and behaviorist in Canada, recently published an abstract in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Applications and Research concerning a study she did with cats and litter box size. She had participants use two litter boxes – one was 34 inches long, the other was about standard litter box length. After two weeks she had the cat owners switch locations of the boxes with each other to help rule out placement preference. What did she find? Dr. Guy discovered that cats in her study, by a ratio of 5:3, preferred to use the large box.

Why? Well, many cats like to stretch out prior to defecation / urination. The longer box allows this behavior. It has also been shown that cats that play in their litter are more apt to use their litter box for elimination purposes. Cats are not like dogs – they prefer to defecate or urinate in a clean area, free from other urine or feces. They may want more space to pee and poop!

So – if your cat is healthy and not using the box well, try a larger litter box!

Dan Teich, DVM

Cats Dogs News

Keeping Pets Safe and Happy in the City

We live in a city – we live in a neighborhood with individual houses – we live on the edge of the park. It doesn’t matter where in DC you live, there are hazards all around. There are many tricks to keeping your dog or cat safe and happy in our growing metropolis. Some dangers are very obvious, others, not so much.

Some seemingly obvious dangers include heavy traffic (pedestrian, bikes, or automobiles). Keeping your dog on a short leash, so s/he does not get tangled or unexpectedly dart away from you is important in these crowded areas. Please avoid retractable leashes!

Another danger is to be aware of the temperature of your area. On sunny, hot days, be sure to walk your dog on the shaded side of the street, as pavement can burn the sensitive pads on their feet. The hair on their feet will not protect them from the scorching pavement and concrete. Also, even though it is tempting, refrain from taking your pet with you on hot days if you will be out of the house awhile. The air conditioning indoors will be safer and much more comfortable for them as opposed to the hot car or being leashed outside when you go indoors to run quick errands.

Less obvious dangers include make sure your cat (or dog) is never left unattended on unenclosed balconies, fire escapes, or terraces. Be sure all window screens are secure so they do not push through while enjoying the scenery. (Dr. Teich has seen a number of animals that have jumped or fallen out of windows!) Bird houses and feeders on window ledges will encourage your pets to spend more time looking outside and they may test their boundaries by leaning on the screen to get a better view. If there is an accident, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

In multi-level apartment buildings, elevators are a concern because leashes can get caught in closing doors, therefor choking the pet when the elevator moves. This is more common than you think. Always hold your dog on a short leash and take extra care when elevator doors are opening or closing.

Littering is not only ruining our scenic view of the city, but can pose a very real threat to your dog. Many dogs, especially Labs and Pit Bulls, love to eat everything they can find! Most litter is probably harmless, but there are many things, like raisins, cigarette butts, and gum that can be toxic to your pet. Please be aware of anything your dog may pick up along their walk. Even seemingly innocent debris, like pigeon droppings and puddles (or standing water), can present a danger to pets because the feces and excrements that wildlife leave behind may transmit disease between the species. Always take care to clean your pet’s feet and do not allow them to eat off or drink off the ground.

Having a pet is a joy, and we want to make sure your pets are happy and healthy. Please contact us here at District Veterinary Hospital to talk about your pet’s health care and how we can help you!

-Beth Grimes, Hospital Administrator


Brookland Farmers’ Market – Saturdays

Hi everyone! Today we were at the Historic Brookland Farmers’ Market meeting friends and members of the local community. The weather was awesome and we had a great time talking about Brookland, the community, our practice, and pets. The market was started this year and has grown each weekend. Fresh fruit and veggies were available along with, cheeses, organic meats, coffee, a crepe-making booth (they looked awesome), a bread bakery, a soap seller and others. Many were local businesses and a number of the vendors live in the neighborhood. We encourage everyone, who is available on Saturdays, to go to the market and support the farmers and small businesses that have their wares for sale.

We handed out frisbees, water bottles, dog treats (no human treats today), talked about dog and cat care and basked in a bit of sunshine. District Veterinary Hospital is set to open in a few weeks and we will keep everyone posted.

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!