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National Pet Dental Health Month

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Picture this, you come home from a long day at work and your dog runs to greet you. You bend down and your dog covers you in wet slobbery kisses. We’ve all experienced something like this right? Then we’ve also all experienced bad dog breath!  Similarly, for cat owners we’ve all smelled their bad breath as they rub their faces on us.  Bad breath is one of the easiest and most recognized symptoms of dental disease in your pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease by the age of 3.  But why is all of this so important?

Dental disease is more than just a cosmetic issue. When a pet has red gums, yellow teeth, and stinky breath, it could be a sign of serious oral disease that could, if left untreated, lead to devastating effects on your pet’s quality of life. Dental disease can impact your pets’ ability to eat, cause infections in other areas of the body, and cause problems with other internal organ functions. This is why it’s vital to have your pet’s teeth evaluated yearly by a veterinarian for signs of a problem and to have routine dental cleanings with your veterinarian.

Proper Veterinary dentistry includes the evaluation of all teeth, radiographs to evaluate the health of the jaw and tooth roots, cleaning, and filing or extractions.  This whole process is similar to what we experience at our own dentist except all of this is done under anesthesia for your pets. Why you ask?

When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses tries to minimize pain and discomfort and is able to ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she will react by moving, trying to escape, or even biting. (American Veterinary Medical Association, 2020) Anesthesia makes it possible for Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses to perform the dental procedures and there is less stress and pain for our pet.  It also allows for a better cleaning because the pet is not moving. Dental radiographs also require your pet to be very still which is next to impossible without anesthesia.

Your pet’s dental health is a very important part of their overall health. If you notice bad breath, broken teeth, bleeding from the mouth, or reduced appetite these are all signs that your pet needs to have his or her teeth evaluated by a Veterinarian.  We would be more than happy to help, give us a call!


Works Cited

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2020). Pet Dental Care. Retrieved 2020, from American Veterinary Medical Association:

National Train Your Dog Month

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Why Is it important to train my dog?


Training is an important part of any dog’s life, and is important for many reasons. Not only does it provides mental stimulation which helps to keep your dog happy , it strengthens the bond between you and your pet.

Reward-based training is enjoyable for the dog and positively enhances the relationship between the dog and handler. This approach revolves around positive reinforcement – i.e. rewarding behavior that we like. Rewards may be in the form of a tasty food treat or verbal praise such as “good dog!” in a pleasant tone of voice, to be given when the dog performs the ‘good’ behavior.

Reward-based training also involves generally ignoring any ‘unwanted’ behaviors. In this way, the dog is not rewarded for any unwanted behavior. If dogs are not rewarded (i.e. receives no attention or treats) for a certain behavior, then they tend to stop doing it. For example if a dog is jumping up to greet people they should be ignored if they jump up and only receive attention (including eye contact) when they have four paws on the ground. Only when they are standing or sitting should they be rewarded with attention and treats.

Sometimes if owners react to ‘unwanted’ behavior by yelling or getting angry they may inadvertently reinforce the behavior – dogs perceive this as attention and the ‘unwanted’ behavior is simply reinforced. For some dogs, any form of attention/reaction from the owner is better than no reaction at all. For example, if an owner shouts at a dog who is barking excessively, the dog may interpret this as getting attention and thus the barking continues whereas it is more effective to try to ignore this behavior.

Aversion therapy or physical punishment must not be used in training programs. Punishing a dog for ‘unwanted’ behavior can actually make the problem worse.

The best steps for training your dog are to start with a good puppy class when they are young, this helps with training and also socialization skills.  That doesn’t mean if you adopt an older dog you can’t go to a training class.  All trainers have classes for dogs of all life stages.

For more information about dog training or behavioral issues,  a conversation with your vet can set you and your pet on the path to a successful and happy relationship!


National Cat Lover’s Month

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While we may not really need a reason to love cats, here are some insightful reasons as to why so many people love cats!


-Cat’s don’t adjust personality traits to please their humans; they are all unique in their behavior and characteristics

-Cats are independent by nature, but seek humans out when they want to interact with us

-Cats are like a build-in sleep aid.  Their purr naturally calms us, just like it works for a Momma cat and her newborn kittens

-Cats inadvertently help the economy! When you love your cats, you spend money to provide for their needs; and also on fun impulse cat theme purchases to support your love for cats

-Cats can be relatively low maintenance when it comes to providing care- but this does not apply to all cats

-You don’t need to walk cats outside when it’s raining, snowing, or freezing outside

-Having a cat can provide for a natural ice breaker when talking with someone familiar or unfamiliar.  Who doesn’t love sharing pictures of their beloved pet!

-Having a cat and petting your cat releases those “feel good” oxytocin chemicals.  Interacting with them also lowers our blood pressure and just keeps us happy.

-Owning a cat reduces stress and anxiety


Senior Pet Care

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It’s no surprise that senior pets have different care requirements than those of younger pets.  It varies, but cats and small dogs are generally considered geriatric at the age of 7. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans and are considered geriatric when they are approximately 6 years of age.  This means that that both cats and dogs, between the ages of 6-7, start to have different needs and requirements to keep them happy and healthy.

The first thing you should do for your  pet is make sure you have semi-annual veterinary visits instead of annual visits so signs of illness or other problems can be detected early and treated. Senior pet exams are similar to those for younger pets, but are more in depth, and may include dental care, blood work, and specific checks for physical signs of diseases that are more likely in older pets.

Changes in behavior can also be an indicator that something is changing in your senior pet.  As your pet’s owner, you are the first person who knows what their usual routine is, and any changes in this can be a sign that something is going on.  Some possible behavior changes in older pets include:

  • Increased reaction to sounds
  • Increased vocalization
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased interaction w/humans
  • Increased irritability
  • Decreased response to commands
  • Increased aggressive/protective behavior
  • Increased anxiety
  • House soiling
  • Decreased self-hygiene/grooming
  • Repetitive activity
  • Increased wandering
  • Change in sleep cycles

These are all things to watch for, and if observed they should be discussed with your veterinarian.  While there are different diseases or problems that can affect your pet, one common ailment is arthritis.  Older pets, especially large dogs, are vulnerable to arthritis and other joint diseases.  Signs of arthritis can include:

  • Favoring a limb
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
  • Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased activity or interest in play
  • Attitude or behavior changes (including increased irritability)
  • Being less alert

Signs of arthritis often are similar to signs of normal aging, so if your pet seems to have any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is to have your veterinarian examine them, and then advise you as to what treatment plan would be best to help your pet deal with the pain.  Environmental adjustments and enrichment for your senior pets is also very important.  Little changes such as:

  • Carpet runners and toe grips to help them move around
  • Providing your pet with an orthopedic bed
  • Raised feeding/drinking platforms
  • Pet stairs, ramps, or other steps/boxes to help with getting up on bed and furniture
  • Providing different rest areas for dogs and cats on all levels that are easy to get in and out of
  • Resource stations (water, litter boxes, etc) on each home level at least and easy to access
  • Easy to get in (and out of) litter boxes
  • Warm areas to rest (especially for cats)
  • Night lights can  help an aging pet with vision issues
  • Low perches and hidey holes for kitties

Remember senior pets still want to have fun! Toys and playtime are still important, just a little slower and gentler.





Works Cited

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2019). Senior Pet Care (FAQ). Retrieved November 2019, from American Veterinary Medical Association: American Veterinary Medical Association

So You Want to Adopt a Pet?

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Adopting a new pet is a fun and exciting time! It can be daunting though, and should not be treated lightly.  You should always take the following into consideration:

  • Why do you want a pet?It’s amazing how many people fail to ask themselves this simple question before they get a pet. Adopting a pet just because it’s “the thing to do” or because the kids have been pining for a puppy usually ends up being a big mistake. Don’t forget that pets may be with you 10, 15, even 20 years.
  • Do you have time for a pet? Dogs, cats, and other animal companions cannot be ignored just because you’re tired or busy. They require food, water, exercise, care, and companionship every day of every year. Many animals in the shelter are there because their owners didn’t realize how much time it took to care for them.
  • Can you afford a pet? The costs of pet ownership can be quite high. Licenses, training classes, spaying and neutering, veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, kitty litter, and other expenses add up quickly. Not to mention, emergency situations- those get expensive very fast!
  • Are you prepared to deal with special problems that a pet can cause?Unexpected damages, accidents from animals that aren’t housebroke, unexpected emergencies or situations are unfortunate but all potential occurrences in pet ownership.
  • Can you have a pet where you live?Many rental communities don’t allow pets, or if they do there are multiple restrictions. Make sure you know what they are before you bring a companion animal home.
  • Is it a good time for you to adopt a pet?If you have kids under six years old, for instance, you might consider waiting a few years before you adopt a companion. Pet ownership requires children who are mature enough to be responsible. If you’re a student, in the military, or travel frequently as part of your work, waiting until you settle down is wise. Do you have time in your daily schedule to dedicate to your pet?
  • Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you have in mind?Animal size is not the only variable to think about here. For example, some small dogs such as terriers are very active-they require a great deal of exercise to be calm, and they often bark at any noise. On the other hand, some big dogs are laid back and quite content to lie on a couch all day. Before adopting a pet, do some research. That way, you’ll ensure you choose an animal that will fit into your lifestyle and your living arrangements.
  • Do you know who will care for your pet while you’re away on vacation?You’ll need either reliable friends and neighbors or money to pay for a boarding kennel or pet-sitting service.
  • Will you be a responsible pet owner?Having your pet spayed or neutered, obeying community leash and licensing laws, keeping identification tags on your pets are all part of being a responsible owner. Of course, giving your pet love, companionship, exercise, a healthy diet, and regular veterinary care are other essentials.
  • Finally, are you prepared to keep and care for the pet for his or her entire lifetime?When you adopt a pet, you are making a commitment to care for the animal for his or her lifetime.

Sharing your life with a companion animal can bring incredible rewards, but only if you’re willing to make the necessary commitments of time, money, responsibility, and love-for the life of the pet. Congratulations on the adoption of your new pet!

World Rabies Day

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 World Rabies Day is September 28

Rabies remains a major concern worldwide, killing tens of thousands of people every year.  While it is a deadly disease, it is 100% preventable.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is secreted in saliva, thus transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Once the physical signs of the disease are apparent, rabies is nearly always fatal.

What animals can get rabies?

Only mammals can get rabies; birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians do not. In the United States, most cases occur in wild animals- mainly skunks, raccoons, bats, coyotes, and foxes. Cats are the most common domestic animal infected with rabies- mainly because many cat owners do not vaccinate their cats.

What are the signs of rabies in animals?

Rabies affects the nervous system. Animal with rabies may show a variety of signs including fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, paralysis and seizures. Most rabid animals display abnormal behavior, such as a wild animal losing its fear of humans or nocturnal animals wandering in the daytime.  Rabies infection can only be confirmed after death, through microscopic examination of the animal’s brain.

What can I do to help control rabies?

Remember that rabies is entirely preventable through vaccination.

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and select horses and livestock. Your veterinarian will advise you on the recommended or required frequency of vaccination in your area.
  • Reduce the possibility of exposure to rabies by not letting your pets roam free. Keep cats and ferrets indoors, and supervise dogs when they are outside. Spaying or neutering your pet may decrease roaming tendencies and will prevent them from contributing to the birth of unwanted animals.
  • Don’t leave exposed garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Not only may this be illegal, but wild animals pose a potential rabies threat to caretakers and to others.
  • Observe all wild animals from a distance. A rabid wild animal may appear tame but don’t go near it. Teach children NEVER to handle unfamiliar animals—even if they appear friendly.
  • If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to the city or county animal control department.
  • Bat-proof your home and other structures to prevent bats from nesting and having access to people or pets.

What if my pet has bitten someone?

  • Urge the victim to see a physician immediately and to follow the physician’s recommendations.
  • Check with your veterinarian to determine if your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Report the bite to the local health department and animal control authorities. Local regulations may require that your pet is confined and isolated for monitoring for signs of rabies.
  • Immediately report any illness or unusual behavior by your pet to the local health department and to your veterinarian.
  • Don’t let your pet stray and don’t give your pet away. The animal must be available for observation by public health authorities or a veterinarian.
  • After the observation period, have your pet vaccinated for rabies if its vaccination is not current.

What if my pet has been bitten?

  • Consult your veterinarian immediately and report the bite to local animal control authorities.
  • Even if your dog, cat or ferret has a current vaccination, he/she should be revaccinated immediately, kept under the owner’s control, and observed for a period as specified by state law or local ordinance. Animals with expired vaccinations will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Dogs, cats and ferrets that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal may need to be euthanatized in accordance with regulations or placed in strict isolation for six months.
  • Animals other than dogs, cats, and ferrets that are bitten by a rabid or potentially rabid animal may need to be euthanatized immediately.

What if I am bitten?

  • Don’t panic, but don’t ignore the bite. Wash the wound thoroughly and vigorously with soap and lots of water for 15 minutes, and then treat with a disinfectant such as ethanol or iodine.
  • Call your physician immediately and explain how you were bitten. Follow the doctor’s advice. If necessary, your physician will give you the post exposure treatment recommended by the United States Public Health Service and may also treat you for other possible infections that could result from the bite.
  • If possible, confine or capture the animal if it can be done safely. Once captured, don’t try to pick up the animal. Call the local animal control authorities to collect it. If the animal cannot be captured, try to memorize its appearance (size, color, etc.) and where it went after biting you.
  • If it is a wild animal, only try to capture it if you can do so without getting bitten again. If the animal cannot be contained and must be killed to prevent its escape, do so without damaging the head. The brain will be needed to test for rabies.
  • Report the bite to the local health department. Prompt and appropriate treatment after being bitten and before the disease develops can stop the infection and prevent the disease.


Works Cited

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2019). Rabies and Your Pet. Retrieved September 2019, from American Veterinary Medical Association:



Vaccinations- Facts and Questions answered

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5 Reasons to Vaccinate Your Pet

  1. Vaccinations prevent many pet illnesses.
  2. Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented.
  3. Vaccinations prevent diseases that can be passed between animals and also from animals to people.
  4. Diseases prevalent in wildlife, such as rabies and distemper, can infect un-vaccinated pets.
  5. In many areas, local or state ordinances require certain vaccinations of household pets.

Do vaccinations ensure protection?

For most pets, vaccination is effective in preventing future disease and only rarely will a vaccinated pet have insufficient immunity to fight off the disease. It is important to follow the vaccination schedule provided by your veterinarian to reduce the possibility of a gap in protection.

Are there risks to vaccinating my pet?

Any type of medical treatment has associated risks, but the risk should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet, your family and your community from potentially fatal diseases. The majority of pets respond well to vaccines. Those that sometimes encounter issues show symptoms such as facial swelling or stomach upset. If or when this occurs it is important to notify your veterinarian right away so they can be treated for their reaction.

The most common adverse responses to vaccination are mild and short-term. Serious reactions are rare. An uncommon but serious adverse reaction that can occur in cats is tumor growth (sarcomas), which can develop weeks, months, or even years after a vaccination. Improvements in vaccination technology and technique have greatly reduced the occurrence of sarcomas.

Why do puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations?

Very young animals are highly susceptible to infectious disease because their immune system is not yet fully mature. They receive protection through antibodies in their mother’s milk, but the protection is not long-lasting and there may be gaps in protection as the milk antibodies decrease and their immune system is still maturing.

In many instances, the first dose of a vaccine serves to prime the animal’s immune system against the virus or bacteria while subsequent doses help further stimulate the immune system to produce the important antibodies needed to protect an animal from diseases.

Finish the Series

An incomplete series of vaccinations may lead to incomplete protection, making puppies and kittens vulnerable to infection.

To provide optimal protection against disease in the first few months of life, a series of vaccinations are scheduled, usually 3-4 weeks apart. For most puppies and kittens, the final vaccination in the series is administered at about 4 months of age; however, a veterinarian may alter the schedule based on an individual animal’s risk factors.

Which vaccinations should my pet receive?

“Core” vaccines are recommended for most pets in a particular area or geographical location because they protect from diseases most common in that area. “Non-core” vaccinations are for individual pets with unique needs. Your veterinarian will consider your pet’s risk of exposure to a variety of preventable diseases in order to customize a vaccination program for optimal protection throughout your pet’s life.

Talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle, including any expected travel to other geographical locations and/or contact with other animals, since these factors impact your pet’s risk of exposure to certain diseases.

Ticks…More than Just Creepy

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Ticks are more than just creepy pests, they can spread a number of different diseases that affect both pets and people

  • Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, tularemia, and babesia.
  • The best way to treat an illness is to prevent it in the first place. Ask your Veterinarian about Flea/tick preventatives.
  • Depending on where you live and your pet’s risk factors, a veterinarian may also recommend additional protection like a vaccination for Lyme disease.
  • Although these preventative measures are effective, it is important to note that none provide 100% protection.
  • Ticks bury their head into a host’s skin when they bite and then gorge themselves on blood.
  • Ticks tend to be most active in late spring and summer and live in tall brush or grass, where they wait to attach to their host.
  • Ticks can be transferred from pets coming into the household from outdoors.
  • Ticks prefer to attach close to the head, neck, ears and feet, but can be found anywhere on your pet’s body.

Signs and symptoms of tick-borne Illnesses

  • Ticks can spread a number of different diseases, so the signs and symptoms can vary depending on the disease.
  • Some of the signs seen in several of these illnesses include: lethargy (loss of energy), loss of appetite, and lameness or reluctance to move.
  • It is important to realize that more often than not the signs of a tick borne illness may be either very subtle or non-existent. In addition, many of the tick-borne illnesses mimic other diseases.
  • Therefore it is best not to wait for symptoms to appear. If your pet has been exposed to ticks speak with your veterinarian immediately about screening tests and preventative products.

Types of Ticks

  • Ticks wait for host animals on the tips of grasses and shrubs. When the plant is brushed by a moving animal or person, the tick quickly lets go of the vegetation and climbs onto the host.
  • Ticks can only crawl; they cannot jump or fly. Some species of ticks will crawl several feet toward a host. Some tick species can be active on winter days if the ground temperatures are above 32 °F (0 °C).
  • Although there are at least 15 species of ticks in North America, only a few of these species are likely to be encountered by your dog. They include American dog tick, lone star tick, deer or black-legged tick, and brown dog tick.


Heartworm Disease

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Heartworm Disease

You have probably heard about it numerous times, but what do you truly know about it? What causes it? What exactly does it do, aside from being really bad for your pet?  Well here’s a quick and easy breakdown of what Heartworm disease is.

Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets.  It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworm infection has been diagnosed around the globe, including all 50 of the United States, and is considered at least regionally endemic in each of the contiguous 48 states and Hawaii.  Heartworms are spread through the bite of a mosquito.


Heartworm disease does not affect dogs and cats the same.  Although cats are susceptible hosts, they are more resistant to infection with adult Dirofilaria immitis than are dogs. Most heartworm infections in cats are comparatively light and consist of less than six adult worms. Typically only one or two worms are present and worms in approximately one third of infections are single sex. Cats with only a few worms are still considered to be heavily infected in terms of parasite biomass, however, because of their relatively small body size. Even as few as 1 adult heartworm can be fatal for a cat. There is also no heartworm treatment for cats.

Prevention is key to keeping your pet safe.  Preventative medication is also thousands of dollars less in cost than treatment. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round administration of preventive medication that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent Heartworm disease.  Preventative medication comes in many different forms and the type that is best suited for your pet will be recommended by your Veterinarian.


Starbuck- Bright Future!

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Starbuck, a 7 year old Siberian cat, was initially brought in to see Dr. Singleton because her family was concerned about a growth on her tail that had continued to grow and was becoming an issue for Starbuck.  In addition to the growth, Starbuck had some dental tartar buildup and some teeth that were also causing her some trouble.  Dr. Singleton and her owners decided that it was in Starbuck’s best interest to have the growth removed and a dental procedure all at once, reducing the number of times she would need to go under anesthesia and resolving all her medical issues at once.

The large growth had actually grown so much in size that it had turned into a painful wound that was about 6 cm in diameter in the middle of her tail. Dr. Singleton and Starbuck’s family decided that it was in her best interest to remove the growth by amputating her tail so that there would be no risk of the growth returning to cause further problems.

Dr. Singleton successfully amputated Starbuck’s tail and performed a dental cleaning with extractions, leaving Starbuck much happier and healthier.

After her procedure, Starbuck returned to have her tail bandage changed and the surgical site checked, and it is healing beautifully.  Starbuck has also been a great patient for everything, she has been happy and cooperative patient despite having a couple recheck exams to make sure that her healing process is going according to plan.

Starbuck was able to resume her normal activity level after her procedures and has been doing great!


Seen below, Starbuck recovered very nicely from her procedure and was comforted by Joary, the technician who assisted Dr. Singleton with the procedure.