Eric Louër, D.V.M.   Janet Streng, D.V.M.   Kathleen Price, D.V.M.
1925 Union Valley Rd | Hewitt, NJ      Office - 973-728-2233   FAX - 973-728-9606

Useful Pet Care Tips

Porcupine Quills Should be Removed by Your Veterinarian

For the safety and comfort of your pet, porcupine quills should be removed by your veterinarian under sedation. The quills have a barb at the end of each one and the barb faces backwards. This makes it difficult to simply pull right back out after attaching itself. As a porcupine attacks it turns its back to the enemy then begins attacking with its quill-covered tail. As the quills becomes embedded in the dog the reaction of the dogs muscles cause the barb to work its way deeper into the muscles. As the muscles flinch and contract the barbed quill continues its journey forward. With the reverse barb it's nearly impossible to back it out. The quills cause extreme pain, infection and can even cause death, if not treated quickly and properly. Dogs often grab the porcupines in their mouths causing severe oral injury. In addition, after being injected with the barbed quills, a dog will often paw and claw at them. This makes things even worse. The quills are then driven even deeper into the flesh and muscle. It's extremely important that quills be removed immediately by your veterinarian. Quills will continue to work their way deeper and deeper into the dog until the event can become a tragedy.

Canine Vaccines Are Required by All Reputable Kennels

  • Rabies ~ All warm-blooded animals (including humans), can be infected with the Rabies virus.
    Rabies is a fatal disease, caused by a virus, affecting the nervous system and is transmitted by a bite or saliva from an infected animal. By law, all dogs and cats must be inoculated by six months of age.
  • Bordetella ~ Bordetella, often referred to as "kennel cough", is an infectious organism that causes a severe cough to both puppies and adult dogs. Your dog should be inoculated at least two weeks prior to boarding.
  • DHPP ~ The canine “distemper” vaccine is an inoculation that protects dogs against diseases including Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza.

Some Kennels May Request Additional Vaccine Protection

  • Canine Influenza (H3N8) ~ The symptoms of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose and fever, however, a small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease. Canine influenza virus can be spread by direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by contact with contaminated objects, and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.
  • Leptospirosis ~ Bacterial disease affecting primarily the kidneys and liver of dogs through drinking contaminated water. Lakes, streams and puddles can be contaminated from urine of infected animals.

Recognizing Acute and Chronic Pain in your Pet

The purpose of this guide is to give you, as a pet owner, guidelines on recognizing when your petis in pain. Your pet cannot tell you what type of pain they are experiencing, and in some cases,they may even be trying to hide their pain. Some animals can even have a higher tolerance for pain than others. While pain is often obvious in many animals, there are times when it is not. You, as the pet owner, play a key role in identifying pain since you are the most familiar with your pet's normal behavior. It is crucial to sense when something is wrong with your pet and to notify your veterinarian as soon as possible. Close observation and a dash of intuition will help you pick up the signals when your pet is in pain. Never take it upon yourself to medicate your pet with any over the counter human medications without first consulting your veterinarian.


  • If my pet is painful will he stop eating? Some pets will eat even while experiencing extreme pain. Anorexia cannot be relied on as the sole determination of pain. Every pet responds differently to pain.
  • If my pet is not crying can he still be in pain? Just because your pet is not crying, does not mean he may not still be in pain. There are many other signs your pet may display, such as limping and excessive panting while at rest.
  • If my dog is running around, can he still be in pain?  Yes, but even though he is running on three legs, the fourth one may still be painful.
  • If my cat is purring, can there still be something wrong?  Purring usually means that a cat is content, but cats can also purr when afraid, distressed, or in pain.

Recognizing pain in your pet is recognizing a change in behavior.

Some examples follow, but remember any change in behavior may indicate a problem.

  • Changes in Personality or Attitude - When in pain, a normally quiet and docile pet can become suddenly aggressive and an active pet can become quiet, withdrawn, or unresponsive.
  • Abnormal Vocalization - Dogs usually whine or whimper and cats will hiss or growl. Especially when a painful area is palpated, this could cause your pet to vocalize.
  • Licking, Biting Scratching or Shaking of a Painful Area - If excessive, these behaviors can lead to self-mutilation and can also cause an abscess.
  • Changes in Body Posture - If in pain, your pet can sit or rest in a different or defensive way.
  • Changes in Ambulation - For example, limping or carrying a leg that is painful, tensing of back and abdominal muscles, or showing an obvious and uncomfortable stance are all signs of pain.
  • Changes in Activity Level - Your pet may become restless and pace, or repetitively lie down. In contrast, your pet may become recumbent and lethargic or even reluctant to move the painful area. Cats may tend to hide or isolate themselves from the other cats and people.
  • Changes in Appetite - A decrease in food and water consumption may be an indicator that your pet is experiencing pain.
  • Changes in Facial Expression - When in pain, your cat may show a fixed stare or a glazed appearance and the pupils may be dilated. Pinning of the ears, creases or furrowing of the forehead, grimacing, and a sleepy or photophobic appearance may be evident.
  • Panting and Shivering - These are all signs your pet may be in pain, they can also cause excessive sweating and salivation. The heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature may also become increased.
  • Teeth Grinding - Rabbits and sometimes cats will grind teeth as a sign of pain.
  • Changes in Bowel Movements or Urination - Examples would be diarrhea, and sometimes even soiling of the rectal area. Straining to urinate or defecate can also be a sign of pain.
  • Unusual Body or Head Posture - Head tilt, reluctance to put head down to eat, or extend neck may be signs of pain.
  • Changes in Training - Your pet may no longer want to walk upstairs, refuse his daily walks, won't jump on the furniture, or refuse to use the litter box. They may also be having unusual urinary accidents.

Call us if you notice any of these symptoms or just have general questions.

We care about your pet and are here to help!

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends, but it also can carry some hazards for pets. Holiday food needs to be kept away from pets, and pet owners who travel need to either transport their pets safely or find safe accommodations for them at home. Follow these tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during the holiday.

Poison Risks

Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets: Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. And holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets.

  • Keep the feast on the table - not under it.  Eating turkey or turkey skin – sometimes even a small amount - can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest, and many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets - including onions, raisins and grapes. If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make or buy a treat that is made just for them.
  • No pie or other desserts for your pooch. Chocolate can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out and eat it. The artificial sweetener called xylitol - commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods - also can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.
  • Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating. (FYI - it is not good for human digestive tracks for the same reasons).
  • Put the trash away where your pets can’t find it.  A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones - and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging - in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).
  • Be careful with decorative plants. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be toxic to pets. These include amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more.
  • Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the:
    ASPCA Poison Control Hotline:
    Pet Poison Hotline:
    Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
    Contact us during hospital hours at:
    or when we are closed call Oradell Animal Hospital at:
    or AERA at:

Precautions for Parties

If you’re hosting a party or overnight visitors, plan ahead to keep your pets safe and make the experience less stressful for everyone.

  • Visitors can upset your pets. Some pets are shy or excitable around new people or in crowds, and Thanksgiving often means many visitors at once and higher-than-usual noise and activity levels. If you know your dog or cat is nervous when people visit your home, put him/her in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. This will reduce the emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, call us about possible solutions to this common problem.
  • Watch the exits. Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
  • Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pets are not already microchipped, talk to us about the benefits of this simple procedure.
  • Watch your pets around festive decorations. Special holiday displays or candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire. Consider using battery operated candles that are safe for pets. And pine cones, needles and other decorations can cause intestinal blockages or even perforate an animal’s intestine if eaten.

Travel Concerns

Whether you take your pets with you or leave them behind, take these precautions to safeguard them when traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday or at any other time of the year.

  • Your pet needs a health certificate from your veterinarian if you’re traveling across state lines or international borders, whether by air or car. Your pet may need additional vaccines for protection against diseases not local to our area.
  • Never leave pets alone in vehicles, even for a short time, regardless of the weather.
  • Pets should always be safely restrained in vehicles. This means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. This helps protect your pets if you brake or swerve suddenly, or get in an accident; keeps them away from potentially poisonous food or other items you are transporting; prevents them from causing dangerous distractions for the driver; and can prevent small animals from getting trapped in small spaces. Never transport your pet in the bed of a truck.
  • Talk with your veterinarian if you’re traveling by air and considering bringing your pet with you. Air travel can put pets at risk, especially short-nosed dogs. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you regarding your own pet’s ability to travel.
  • Pack for your pet as well as yourself if you’re going to travel together. In addition to your pet’s food and medications, this includes bringing medical records, information to help identify your pet if it becomes lost, first aid supplies, and other items.
  • Are you considering boarding your dog while you travel? Talk with your veterinarian to find out how best to protect your pet from canine flu, “kennel cough” and other contagious diseases, and to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines.

Yuletime Holiday Safety Tips

Be careful how you deck your halls! The holiday season is generally a time of family togetherness in which even our pets participate. One’s thoughts generally are far from thoughts of injury; however, one must be aware of some important seasonal hazards in order to insure a happy holiday season.

  • Ribbons & Tinsel ~ These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens that see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do. Strings or “linear foreign bodies” can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition requiring surgery for correction. Supervise animals that play with string closely.
  • Electric Light Cords ~ These are also tempting to cats who like to play with string as well as to puppies who are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue which causes the pet’s lungs to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress. This is also an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.
  • Pointsettia ~ Consuming this festive looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic, but it can be harmful to very small animals such as birds or hamsters.
  • Mistletoe ~ The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict that clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoes produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizures. Consider mistletoe to be hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.
  • Cooking ~ Keep pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for someone you love to get underfoot and get burned from spillage.
  • Dietary Indescretion ~ We all like to include our pets in holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed and overloaded. This condition is serious and may require hospitalization.

Antifreeze Safety and Pets: Prevention is Key

Antifreeze Safety Tips

  • Check your driveway and under your car regularly for leaks. Always clean up spills immediately. Store containers securely away from children and pets. Never allow your pets near your vehicle when you are changing antifreeze.
  • Some antifreeze/coolants, such as Prestone® Low Tox, are made with propylene glycol, which is less toxic to pets and safer to use around them.

If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian



OR the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately!



Phone Consultation may be up to $65.00

What You Should Know About Worm Disease

Worms pose a persistent and serious threat to your dog. They can cause severe discomfort and pain, and, in the case of heart-worm, sometimes even death. Worms are so abundant in the environment, there’s no way to insure that your dog won’t be exposed to them. In fact, a recent national survey shows that one out of three dogs are affected by intestinal worms. The best protection against worm disease is prevention. Because heartworm is potentially fatal, it is imperative that dogs be placed on a preventive regimen in heartworm endemic areas. Often, by the time symptoms occur the disease is already well advanced. Pet owners who haven’t protected their dogs against intestinal worms should learn about worm disease, and be alert to the symptoms, because early detection will increase the chances of a successful cure. If you observe any of the danger signals listed below, call your veterinarian immediately.

How Your Dog Can Get Worms

  • Heartworm disease is spread from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Over 70 species of mosquito can transmit this life-threatening disease, so virtually all dogs are at risk. Hookworm eggs pass through the feces of an infected dog into the soil, where they can be swallowed or can penetrate through your dog’s skin. Almost all puppies are born with roundworms, or get them through their mother’s milk. A dog can also get roundworm from rodents, or pick them up from the soil.
  • A female whipworm can produce up to 2,000 eggs per day. These eggs are passed in the dog’s feces, and can survive in the soil for years, making them easy for dogs to pick up, and very difficult to eradicate.

What Worms Can Do To Your Dog

  • Heartworms are the most life threatening of all canine parasites. They live in a dog’s heart where they restrict blood flow and cause organ failure, which can lead to death.
  • Hookworms attach to the intestinal lining and leave bleeding internal wounds. Diarrhea can often occur. As few as 100 hookworms can cause a puppy to die of blood loss.
  • Roundworms can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stunted growth, rough coat and bloated belly.
  • Whipworm causes bloody or mucus-laden diarrhea, anemia and dehydration.

Danger Signals

Vomiting, diarrhea, bloated belly, bloody or mucus-laden stool and loss of appetite can all be signs of worm disease.

Mammary Tumors in Dogs

We've all heard of breast cancer in women. With approximately one woman in eight or nine falling victim to this form of cancer, there are awareness campaigns from numerous health care agencies. and research continues. What many pet owners do not know is that the incidence of mammary tumor development in dogs is higher yet with one in four unspayed female dogs affected. This is a huge incidence, yet awareness among owners of female dogs is lacking.

Protection from Spaying

A female puppy spayed before her first heat cycle can expect never to develop a mammary tumor of any kind. The incidence of tumor development in this group is nearly zero.

  • If she is allowed to experience one heat cycle before spaying, the incidence rises to 7% (still quite low).
  • If she is allowed to experience more than one heat cycle, the risk is driven up to one in four.
  • Since most female dogs come into heat the first time before age one and breeding an immature female dog is not recommended, this means one must generally choose between a litter of puppies or mammary cancer prevention.
  • Because mammary tumors are promoted by female hormones, spaying at any age is helpful in tumor prevention. Just because a female dog is in the high-risk group doesn't mean it is too late to reap benefit from spaying.

Early Detection

If your dog is unspayed, was known to have had puppies, or was spayed in adulthood, she fits into the high-risk group for mammary cancer development. It is important to be somewhat familiar with the normal mammary anatomy of the female dog. There are ten sets of mammary glands as shown though the average female dog has only nine. (It is not unusual for asymmetry of mammary glands to be found.) The normal glands should be soft and pliant, especially towards the rear legs. There should be no firm lumps. If a lump is detected, see your veterinarian at once regarding possible removal. Most tumors occur in the glands nearest the rear legs.

Benign vs. Malignant

The good news, if there is some, is that approximately 50% of the tumors formed by female dogs are benign. Since one cannot tell which it is by looking at a tumor, the tumor or part of it must be removed and sampled for biopsy. The laboratory can determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant based on the cells and their architecture within the tissue. Alternatively, a needle aspirate can be performed, in which a syringe is used to withdraw some cells from the growth and the laboratory can determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant with enough accuracy to determine how aggressive the surgical approach should be. Needle aspirate may be a helpful pre-operative procedure in many cases, but it should be understood that biopsy is ultimately what is necessary to determine the extent of disease.

Hormone Receptors

Approximately 50% of malignant mammary tumors in the dog have receptors for either estrogen or progesterone. This means that the presence of these female hormones promotes the growth of these tumors. Benign tumors also have female hormone receptors and can also be stimulated by hormonal cycling of the female dog. This means that spaying is important even if a tumor has already developed; in one study, female dogs spayed at the time of mammary tumor removal or two years prior lived 45% longer than those who remained unspayed.

Types Of Tumors

The following are common classes of mammary tumors that might be found on a biopsy.

  • Fibroadenoma: A benign glandular tumor for which no treatment is necessary.
  • Mixed Mammary Tumor: What is mixed is the type of cell that makes up the tumor: the epithelial cells that line the glandular tissue and the mesenchymal cells that make up the non-glandular portion. (Mixed does not refer to a mix of benign and malignant cells.) The mixed tumor can be either benign or malignant and the biopsy will indicate this.
  • Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinomas can be tubular or papillary, depending on the gland cells the tumor arises from. Adenocarcinomas behave malignantly but how aggressively malignant they are depends not on whether they are tubular or papillary, but on other cellular characteristics described by the pathologist (such as how quickly the cells appear to be dividing and how closely they resemble normal gland cells). When the oncologist reads the description he or she will be able to determine how aggressively to combat the tumor.
  • Inflammatory Carcinoma: A highly malignant tumor that generates tremendous inflammation locally with ulceration, pus, and discomfort. This type of tumor tends to spread early in its course and is difficult to treat. Fortunately, this especially tragic tumor type accounts for less than 5% of mammary tumors. In general: approximately 50% of malignant mammary tumors will have already spread by the time of surgery. This, of course, means that the other 50% are locally confined and surgery is curative.

What Else Determines Prognosis?

The type of tumor is obviously important in determining the prognosis; further, spaying at the time of tumor removal or prior is also an important factor in determining prognosis. Other factors include:

  • The size of the tumor. Tumors with diameters larger than 1.5 inches have a worse prognosis than smaller tumors. Evidence of spread to the lymphatic system (such as the presence of tumor cells in a local lymph node or visible tumor cells with in lymphatic vessels on the biopsy) carries a worse prognosis. Deeper tumors or tumor adherence to deeper tissue structures carries a worse prognosis. An ulcerated tumor surface carries a worse prognosis.
  • A history of especially rapid growth carries a worse prognosis.

The biopsy sample will not only identify the tumor type, it will also indicated whether or not the tumor was completely removed (so called "clean" or "dirty" margins). If the tumor was not completely removed, one may wish to consider a second surgery to remove more tissue.

Further Therapy?

Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and anti-estrogen therapy have been used for incompletely removed tumors. Sometimes it is most appropriate to monitor for recurrence with periodic chest radiographs. Specialized care is often required for cancer patients.
We are here to discuss this matter or any other concern you might have regarding your pets.

By Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP
Copyright 2002 - 2006 by the Veterinary Information Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

Chocolate may be America’s favorite flavor. We like chocolate candy, ice cream, chocolate drinks, chocolate cakes, just about anything with that flavor. We may want to share our favorite treat with an eager pet but it is best to think twice and reach for the dog biscuits instead.

Different Types of Chocolate

Everyone who has ever eaten candy knows there are many types of chocolate. Let’s go back to how chocolate is made. Cacao trees are farmed as any other crop, though they grow in tropical regions. The fruit of the cacao tree (called a “cacao pod”) is sweet and attracts monkeys or other wildlife who eat the fruit but do not eat the bitter seeds. The seeds are discarded in the natural setting thus allowing new trees to grow. The seeds cannot be released from the fruit unless some type of animal breaks the fruit open. Ironically, it is the bitter seeds, packed with theobromine and caffeine, that are used to make chocolate. The pods grow directly off the trunk of the cacao tree and must be harvested by hand so as not to damage the tree. The pods are split and the seeds scooped out and left to ferment under banana leaves for about a week. This turns the cacao seeds a rich brown and creates the chocolate flavor we crave. The seeds are then dried out for another week, packed in sacks, and shipped to chocolate manufacturers. The seeds must be roasted, ground, pressed (which removes the oil of the seed, the “cocoa butter” which is used in sunscreens, white chocolate, and cosmetics among other things), and tempered to create the exact consistency.

  • Chocolate liquor is the liquid that results from grinding the hulled cacao beans.
  • Cocoa butter is the fat that is extracted from the chocolate liquor.
  • Cocoa powder is the solid that remains after the cocoa butter is removed from the chocolate liquor. The powder can be treated with alkali in a process called “Dutching” or it can be left alone. Note the low-fat nature of cocoa powder, hence its use in low-fat baking.
  • Unsweetened chocolate is chocolate liquor that is 50% to 60% cocoa butter
  • Semisweet chocolate is chocolate liquor that is 35% chocolate liquor (the rest being sugar, vanilla, or lecithin).
  • Milk chocolate is chocolate that is at least 10% chocolate liquor, the rest being milk solids, vanilla or lecithin.

Why Is Chocolate Bad?

Sometimes we eat chocolate plain. Sometimes we eat it baked into cakes, mixed into ice cream etc. The first problem with these sweets is the fat. A sudden high fat meal (such as demolishing a bag of chocolate bars left accessible at Halloween time) can create a lethal metabolic disease called pancreatitis. Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are just the beginning of this disaster. Remember, in the case of pancreatitis, it is the fat that causes the problem more than the chocolate itself. The fat and sugar in the chocolate can create an unpleasant but temporary upset stomach. This is what happens in most chocolate ingestion cases. Chocolate is, however, directly toxic because of the theobromine. The more chocolate liquor, the more theobromine is present. This makes baking chocolate the worst, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate, followed by milk chocolate, followed by chocolate flavored cakes or cookies.

Theobromine Causes:

  • Vomiting Diarrhea Hyperactivity Tremors Seizures Racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms.
  • Death in severe cases.

Toxic doses of theobromine are 9 mg per pound of dog for mild signs up top 18 mg per pound of dog for severe signs. Milk chocolate contains 44mg/ounce of theobromine while semisweet chocolate contains 150mg/ounce, and baking chocolate contains 390 mg/ounce.
It takes nearly 4 days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a dog’s system. If the chocolate was only just eaten it may be possible to induce vomiting; otherwise, hospitalization and support are needed until the chocolate has worked its way out of the system.

By Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP Educational Director,
Copyright 2004 - 2006 by the Veterinary Information Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

Fireworks Phobia

Fireworks can turn holidays such as the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve into miserable nights for dogs. To some extent this fear is genetic, but it's also learned. Dogs bred and trained to flush and retrieve game for a gunner cope well with these noises, as do police dogs. Some dogs aren't capable of a comfort level with fireworks, but a lot can be done to make this fear less of a problem for any dog.


Unlike thunderstorms, fireworks are set off intentionally. You may choose not to go so far as to buy fireworks and have an assistant detonate them in a legal location while you train your dog—but you could, if you wanted. You can train your dog when you know other people will be shooting fireworks, and you can set up your training location at a distance from the location of the fireworks. This predictability is a powerful advantage in training.


As in dealing with other things that frighten some dogs, your best approach is to work with your dog before you see any signs of fear. Ideally, set up with your dog at a distance from the fireworks so the noise will not be loud, but the dog can see that a person is causing the noise. This connection helps many dogs by taking the mystery out of it. Food treats work with greedy dogs, and games that your dog loves may be even more powerful in helping the dog mentally tune out the noise. When a dog acts out an instinctive behavior that has been built through training and experience, the mind and body are strongly immunized against fear and pain. The more you and your dog train together to make your interactions satisfying and strongly focused, the more powerful these interactions will be in conditioning your dog not to worry about the distant noises. Retrieving, tossing a toy for the dog to catch, or (with the right dog and handler) tug-of-war are the kinds of person-and-dog interactions that work as powerful antidotes to fear. Move the interaction between you and your dog a little closer to the fireworks action a bit at a time. Be careful not to progress quickly enough that the dog will be fearful. Judging the dog's state of mind is a delicate process. If you misjudge and advance too rapidly, go back to a distance where the dog shows no fear. Work at that distance a long time before advancing again. Slower is faster in this type of training. Triggering fear is a major setback, so try very hard not to do so. Unless you plan to set off fireworks where your dog will have to be at your side, it's best to avoid working a dog next to detonation. The noise can damage the dog's ears, and there are other dangers from fireworks, too.


Don't leave a dog outdoors alone when someone is going to use fireworks. Besides the risk of a fear being created in the dog, many dogs will flee a fenced yard in panic and be lost. If you aren't able to have a full-focus training session, keep your interactions with your dog upbeat, happy and hearty. Don't use a pitying voice or touch that gives a dog reason to be afraid. Act happy and confident, and reward your dog for confident behavior. Ear infections can make noises more painful. Take good care of your dog's ears. Pay special attention if the ears are not erect, or if the dog has ever had an ear infection. Dogs tend to conceal their pain as a survival instinct, so it's important to make a real effort to know your dog's physical condition. Fears are often contagious from one dog to another as well as from people to dogs. If you have a dog who fears fireworks and you get another dog, working with the fearful one can help prevent the new dog from developing the same fear.

Extreme Cases

The same measures used for extreme thunderstorm phobia can help dogs who panic during fireworks. A veterinarian or veterinary behavior specialist can help with your behavior modification program and can decide whether or not medication is appropriate. A dog-appeasing pheromone diffuser may be beneficial. The right confinement area is important during fireworks, especially when the family cannot supervise the dog. This is even more critical for the phobic dog. Dogs tend to like dark, quiet and enclosed areas to rest in.

Best Case

With a little forethought, you have a good chance of preventing severe fireworks phobia in your dog. The dog can learn to look forward to more dog-friendly aspects of the Fourth of July, such as cookouts and family games.

by Kathy Diamond Davis Kathy Diamond Davis is the author of the book Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others.
Copyright 2004 - 2007 by Kathy Diamond Davis. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Should the training articles available here or elsewhere not be effective, contact your veterinarian. Veterinarians not specializing in behavior can eliminate medical causes of behavior problems. If no medical cause is found, your veterinarian can refer you to a colleague who specializes in behavior or a local behaviorist.

The Scoop on Poop

What do we test for in fecal samples?
We test for intestinal parasites that left untreated can be detrimental to your pet.

What kinds of parasites can be transmitted in your pet’s poop?

  • Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites. Adult worms look like spaghetti strands.
  • Whipworms and Hookworms are intestinal parasites which cannot be seen with the naked eye. They attach to the intestinal lining and decrease the effectiveness of nutrient absorption.
  • Tapeworms can occasionally be seen with the naked eye and look like flat rice segments. They attach themselves to the host’s intestines causing malabsorption of nutrients. Tapeworms result from the ingestion of fleas or other intermediate host. If your pet has tapeworms, you must also treat for fleas.
  • Giardia is a single celled organism that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Giardia is contracted by drinking water from contaminated lakes, streams and even puddles. The parasite damages the lining of the intestinal tract and decreases effectiveness of nutrient absorption. Giardia initially may cause bouts of diarrhea but sometimes goes without obvious symptoms.
  • Coccidia is a single celled organism that is most commonly found in puppies and kittens intestinal tracts. As pets age, they tend to develop a natural immunity to the effects of coccidia. Adult pets may carry coccidia intestinally and shed the cysts in the feces, but show no external symptoms.

Can I get these parasites?

Yes. Roundworms, giardia, hookworms, whipworms, and in rare cases tapeworms can all be transmitted to humans. Removing feces from the yard immediately and using proper sanitary protocols, such as washing hands after handling stool and before handling food, keep human infection rates low.

How often do you recommend testing?

Routinely we recommend testing twice yearly. If your pet is experiencing diarrhea, we recommend a stool sample be checked to rule out intestinal parasites. If your pet has been treated for intestinal parasites, we recommend checking a stool sample after treatment to be sure the treatment has been effective.

The breeder or shelter already de-wormed my pet. Why do you recommend testing and de-worming again?

There is no single medication that will treat every intestinal parasite. While breeders and shelters often use proper de-worming protocols, pets living in such environments may simply be chronically exposed to parasites in the environment. Generally, a broad spectrum de-wormer is given to treat common intestinal parasites. Pets may also be exposed to intestinal parasites again after treatment, especially in crowded or poor sanitary conditions.

Is my pet at a high risk for parasites?

Yes ! Many intestinal parasites are transmitted by wildlife, such as coyote, fox and raccoon. Additionally, pets can be exposed to internal parasites by hunting infected rodents or birds. Intestinal parasites can also stay in the environment for long periods of time and are not necessarily eliminated with a hard winter freeze.

What are typical symptoms of parasites?

Symptoms can include diarrhea, sometimes with blood. You may also see adult roundworms or tapeworms in the stool or around the anus. Roundworms can also be seen in vomit. Perianal irritation or scooting may also occur. Long term infestations may cause weight loss and/or lethargy.

Can my pet have parasites without any symptoms?

Yes. Since most intestinal parasites are not visible to the naked eye, you may not see any evidence of such. Diarrhea may only be present in advanced infections. My pet never goes outside. Can my pet still get intestinal parasites? Yes. Intestinal parasites can be passed when your pet ingests fleas (during grooming) or rodents (which may live in your house, unknown to you). Intestinal parasites can also be passed from mother to puppy in utero or during nursing. Intestinal parasites can also be found in infected soil samples which you could bring into the house on your shoes or clothing. Some parasites are also found in contaminated food and water sources.

Are there year round de-wormers?

Yes. For dogs we recommend monthly treatment with Interceptor which in addition to preventing heartworm also controls roundworm, hookworm and whipworm infestation. For cats, we recommend monthly treatment with Revolution. Even indoor cats risk parasite exposure from multiple sources. Parasites can be tracked in on the bottom of shoes and introduced through other pets that live or visit your home. Additionally, while some cats are considered by their owners to live exclusively indoor, cats can sneak out or be carried outside to enjoy a sunny afternoon. For these reasons, we strongly recommend applying Revolution monthly. Revolution prevents heartworm, ear mites, sarcoptic mange, hookworms, fleas, and roundworms. Additionally, Revolution is helpful against some types of ticks.

How are fecal samples read?

Stool samples are sent to a laboratory for comprehensive testing. This includes checking for ova and parasites by centrifugation and also a Giardia Elisa test. Results are available within one to two business days.

Buckle Up For Safety

Would you let a small child sit unbuckled in the front seat of your car? The same dangers exist for pets. In crashes, your pet can sustain serious injuries. They can climb into the driver’s lap, under the foot pedals or jump out an open window – all possible scenarios which can create driving hazards. As with children, improperly secured pets may be injured by a deployed airbag.
In many vehicles, the airbag on the passenger side becomes activated by an occupant’s weight. If your pet weighs enough to do so, place it in the back seat – preferably secured in a harness that connects to the vehicle’s seat belt. Other options include rear seat protectors that act as a cradle or a pet carrier. All will keep your pet in the rear of the vehicle and out of your way.
It is also good practice to not drive with your pet’s head sticking out of the window…yes they love it…but you are their guardian and should do your best to keep them safe from harm. If you’re traveling at 40 MPH, anything that comes up off the road hits them in the face, eyes, nose and ears at 40 MPH. (grit, pebbles, dirt, etc. or bugs)

Therapeutic Diet Pet Treats or “C” is for Cookies

If your pet is required to eat a therapeutic diet, you can use the canned version of the prescription food to bake “cookies” by cutting the food into slices and baking the slices at 250° degrees for one hour or until crispy. You may also use baby carrots and green beans as treats in most situations.

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

The scariest night of the year is almost here – followed by an evening of sweet treats. From your pet’s perspective, the endless doorbell ringing and chattering children might be spooky. The following are suggested tips to keep your pet safe and comfortable.

  • No Human Treats: Chocolate, wrapped candy, artificial sweeteners are toxic to your pet. Please remind children not to share their booty with their beloved pet. The treats should be stored in a place not accessible to your pets.
  • Protect your Pet from Pranks: Do not leave pets outside unattended. Cruel pranksters or children inspired by costumes may torment pets – especially black cats. Children running from house to house may also inadvertently drop candy which can be gobbled up by a chow hound in a flash.
  • Pumpkins: Pumpkins and other Halloween plants are not toxic but if consumed can upset your pet’s stomach. Candle lit jack-o’-lanterns are fire hazards which can singe your pet’s fur. Curious cats or rambunctious dogs may knock over your pumpkin.
  • Halloween Costumes: Some cats and dogs don’t mind dressing in costume but make sure that clothes are comfortable and fire retardant. Pets should be able to move freely and breathe easily.
  • Secure Pets: Cats and dogs can frighten children – and children can frighten cats and dogs. Additionally, with the front door opening frequently, pets may dart outside. It is best to keep your pets comfortably secured in the back of the house with background noise like a radio or television.
  • Pet ID: Make sure your pet is wearing an ID collar. Additionally, we strongly recommend each pet be Microchipped since pets can slip out of collars. Microchips are irrefutable proof of ownership and increase the odds of your pet being returned to you.
  • Wires and Cords: Decorative lighting and cords pose a risk of electric shock if wires are chewed. Please keep wires out of pets reach.
  • Home Alone: If you will not be home on the days surrounding the holiday, please make sure your pets are secured safely and comfortably in the back of the house with background noise such as a radio or television.

Easter Pet Safety Tips

  • Chocolate - Theobromine and caffeine in cocoa causes hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures and elevated heart rates. If your pet ingests chocolate, call us immediately regarding medical attention. Children may hide their sweet treats in easily accessible places for pets.
  • Candy Wrappers - Ingesting wrappers/foil/lollipop sticks can lead to choking and/or intestinal blockages and sometimes even poisoning.
  • Plastic Easter Grass - Plastic grasses pose a huge risk if ingested. It is best to use the paper variety. Colored tissue paper is a safe alternative.
  • Xylitol - The artificial sweetener (found products such as gum, candy and peanut butter) can cause seizures, decrease blood sugar levels and sometimes cause liver failure. If ingested, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Easter Lily - Avoid lilies if you have a cat, as these plants can cause vomiting, anorexia and lethargy. The leaves, flowers, stem and pollen are poisonous and may cause kidney failure.
  • Easter Eggs (real or fake) - If ingested, plastic egg shards can cause choking, GI irritation, and/or intestinal blockages which sometimes require surgery. Real eggs (if forgotten) can spoil and if consumed, create GI upset.
  • Easter Toys - If ingested, plush/plastic toys can cause upset stomach or intestinal blockages. Keep all non pet-safe toys out of reach.

A Few Simple, but Important Tips for Ensuring a Fun and Safe Trip to the Dog Park

  • Bring only neutered or spayed dogs and only if they are older than four months of age.
  • Make sure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations (we recommend Rabies, Distemper, Parvovirus, Bordetella, and Influenza) and has a valid license.
  • Make sure your dog recently had a negative fecal test. Because of zoonotic risk, GWLAH, CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) recommend testing fecal twice yearly.
  • Bring water and a portable bowl to drink from - but not food.
  • Keep a collar on your dog. Even though your dog will be off leash in the park, it is important that your pet has a collar on at all times. A quick release clasp collar is the safest option for inside a dog park. Leashed dogs may feel defensive. Keep leash in hand to escort your dog in and out of park.
  • On very warm days reconsider bringing your dog to the park, or avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • The first visit to the park should be during a quiet time to see how your dog acclimates to the setting.
  • Obey all posted rules and regulations.
  • Check out the moods of the other dogs playing in park before entering.
  • Pay attention to your dog at all times.
  • Scoop your dog’s poop. Intestinal parasites pass through fecal to other pets and can contaminate soil.
  • Look for signs of overheating, including profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva, and lack of coordination. If any of these symptoms occur, take your dog to GWLAH immediately.