Tag Archives: cats

Brushing Up On Oral Home Care: An Interview With Dr. Walker

One topic we are very passionate about here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital is pet oral health!  Pets are living longer, happier lives than ever before, so maintaining good oral hygiene is just as important for them as it is for humans.
Most pet owners are great at recognizing when their dog’s or cat’s teeth need a professional

KAH veterinarian Dr. Walker loves to help animals have healthy mouths!

cleaning, and it’s important to make an annual cleaning part of every pet’s health care routine. But before and in between cleanings, there is a lot that pet parents can do at home to keep their fur babies’ mouths healthy. For some trusted veterinary advice, we turned to Dr. Jennifer Walker, one of our veterinarians here at Kingsbrook!

  1. So why is caring for my pet’s teeth at home so important?

Dr. W: For many reasons! Oral health affects every organ in the body, and disease can be hidden. Preventing that disease is our goal.

2. What is the best thing I can do to keep my puppy or kitten’s teeth healthy?

KAH is super-dedicated to pet oral health! We met with Dr. Cindy Charlier (4th from left), a veterinary dental specialist, for 3 days of continuing education.

Dr. W: Brushing is best, but there are lots of options. We tailor an oral home care plan to each pet by working with our clients. If you aren’t ready for brushing just yet, there are wipes, rinses, and even a tartar control diet that serve as great starting points.

3. My older cat or dog doesn’t like having his mouth handled, but I am interested in starting an oral home care routine. What can I do?

Dr. W: Each pet is different, so we recommend talking with your veterinarian. I’ve had success with some pets by introducing the toothpaste on a favorite treat.

4. Between our pets, my job, and the kids, I am so busy lately and I don’t have a lot of room in my schedule to add another commitment. Is there anything I can do that is faster, or that takes less time?

Dr. W: I completely understand! Oral home care didn’t used to be part of my routine either. I have 2 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and a full-time job. However, I was challenged to try for one month and I was surprised at how it worked out. My normal routine is to wake up, feed my dog, and start my coffee. So I decided to start while my coffee was brewing but kept forgetting to do it. I put the toothbrush and toothpaste in his food cup as a visual reminder when I went to feed him.  I started by just letting my dog lick toothpaste in his food bowl, and over time worked up from there. Now it takes me about 30 seconds to brush his teeth all while I’m waiting for my morning coffee.  A completely different routine may work better for you. One of our CSRs put her dog’s toothbrush in the bathroom right next to her own toothbrush, so she remembers to brush every night.  If your kids are old enough, you can even make it their job to brush—you can help teach responsibility and keep your pet healthy.

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s “Joint” Talks: A Discussion About Arthritis

When the weather turns wintry, every pet has a different reaction!
Some pets love the cold and snow, while others  prefer to cuddle up by the fire. Furry friends who seem stiff or uncomfortable may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis. We sat down with Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s own Dr. Riley to get more information on this important issue!

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Riley was glad to chat about arthritis.


  1. So, we know that arthritis affects our pets’ joints. What exactly is arthritis, and how does it happen?
    Dr. R: “Arthritis is caused by the body’s response to instability or inflammation in a joint. It can erode cartilage, which acts like a cushion in a healthy joint to keep bones from rubbing together, and form irregular surfaces inside the joint. Conditions like hip dysplasia, a ligament rupture, or a loose kneecap (luxating patella) can lead to arthritis.”
  2. How do I know if my pet has arthritis?

KAH veterinarian Dr. Walker’s rescue kitty Smokey Joe suffers from arthritis in his joints.

Dr. R:  “Pets who have arthritis will start to show changes in their habits. They may lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, like playing with a toy or chasing squirrels.
Often, we notice dogs limping, or cats who can’t groom themselves as well. Many pets who have arthritis begin to lose muscle around the affected joint. Arthritic pets may be slow to get up or lie down, and they can have trouble getting comfortable.”

Even guinea pigs can have arthritis! KAH technician Sam poses with Hawke, who is on daily NSAIDs to help with joint pain.

3. What can I do to help my pet stay comfortable if s/he has arthritis?
Dr. R: “The best thing we can do for our animals is to seek treatment before the problem becomes severe. Intervening early means we have a better chance of slowing down arthritis or preventing additional complications. A joint supplement, like Dasuquin, with proven ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM is an easy way to help pets who suffer from arthritis. Many animals also do well with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs.”

4. I worry about using a lot of medications for my pets. Are there options to treat arthritis that don’t involve drugs?

Dr. R: “Yes, there are! Even pets who don’t have joint pain can benefit from a fish oil/fatty acid supplement, but it is great for joint health. There are prescription diets, like Hills™ j/d and Royal Canin™ Mobility Support, that can help with arthritis symptoms. Physical therapy, or even consistent regular exercise (with a veterinarian’s approval) can help to keep joints moving and decrease stiffness. And there are some great alternative therapies available, too—laser therapy and acupuncture help a lot of pets stay comfortable and happy.”

KAH technicians Lainey and Julie pose with Rocket. Dachshunds are a dog breed prone to arthritis.

All of the veterinarians here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD, are excited to help pets who are suffering from arthritis, and the entire staff is happy to answer any questions about symptoms or treatment options!



A Journey Is Best Measured in (Furry) Friends: Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s Brief History of Pets

November is Pet Pilgrimage Month at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD! We decided to take the suggestion literally and explore the history of pets.

Early dogs were indispensable to their owners, helping to hunt and fish.

The scientific community agrees that dogs were the first domesticated animals. Early humans developed mutually beneficial relationships with dogs; they were better at hunting and guarding, and humans provided a steady supply of food, warmth, and shelter.
Evidence of dogs living and working alongside humans can be found dating all the way back to almost 10,000 BC. Romans and Eqyptians around 3500 BC had dogs painted or carved alongside their nobles and families.

It’s easy to see how such beautiful, regal creatures were once regarded as deities!

Many experts believe that feral cats were introduced into villages by It’s easyGreek and Phoenician traders, where their presence was accepted and gradually welcomed because of their hunting ability. Over time, these cats began to be invited into villagers’ homes and were bred for temperament along with hunting skill. The Japanese, Norse, and Egyptians worshiped cats and believed they were divine beings.

Over the centuries that followed, animals began to be seen as status symbols. Chinese Emperor Ling Ti appointed his dogs senior court officials in AD180, and by the year 800 many wealthy households in Europe and Asia had at least one pet. Kings and queens had favorite

Dogs now enjoy a wide range of comforts from their owners!

furry friends, and explorers visiting new continents or countries would often bring a pet with them (or bring a new pet home). In the 1800s, birds were the most popular pets because they could sing and entertain. By the mid-1900s more “exotic” animals like reptiles and guinea pigs had started to become pets. Pet rabbits took off in

While some cats still hunt for mice, most like to remind their owners of the days when cats were worshiped…

popularity after the early 1970 release of Watership Down.

Today, over 56% of American households have at least one pet, and our pets are considered family members, not just animals. Some “fur babies” have their own social media pages, their own rooms in the home…some celebrity pets even have personal chefs! Pets have come a long way from their origins. Humans wouldn’t be where we are without them, and pet parents everywhere agree that we wouldn’t want to be, either.

Hot Topic: Pet Fire Safety Tips From Kingsbrook Animal Hospital

According to data analysis by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost 1,000 house fires every year are accidentally started by pets. National Pet Fire Safety Day is on July 14th, so the veterinarians at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick MD have shared some fire prevention tips!

  1. Be careful with open flames. Many pets are curious and will likely investigate candles or fireplaces. NEVER leave pets unattended around an open flame.
  2. Invest in flameless candles. A wagging tail can easily knock over a lit candle, leading to fires. Flameless candles use a flickering light bulb instead, and many are LED-based–which almost completely negates a fire hazard.
  3. Purchase stove knob covers. The NFPA says that a stove or a cook top is most likely to be involved when pets start fires.
  4. Beware of glass water bowls on wooden decks. Sun rays are refracted through the water and glass, heating both elements. This can heat up and ignite the wooden deck.
  5. Secure cords and hide them behind furniture. Some dogs and cats see cords as chew toys, and damaged cords can cause electrocution and/or fires.

Fires are scary for everyone involved, and prevention is key! Take advantage of Pet Fire Safety Day to ensure a safe, fire-proof home. Keep checking Kingsbrook Animal Hospital‘s Facebook page during the month of July for more pet fire safety tips.

Incredible (Pet) Insurance Information From Kingsbrook Animal Hospital

Veterinary medicine is constantly advancing both in scope and in quality, and one newer option many pet owners aren’t familiar with is pet insurance. At Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, this is a topic most often brought up in conversations with new puppy or kitten owners, but animals of all ages can benefit from a pet insurance plan. Below, KAH shares some information on pet insurance to help owners make an informed decision!
1. Pet insurance plans are usually for accident/illness, but many offer additional coverage for wellness care. This can help to cover things like routine vaccinations, annual (or semi-annual) physical exams, and even oral health care such as dental cleanings. Some companies even offer additional riders for breeding dogs or those who are at increased risk of hip dysplasia.
2. Most plans are customizable in cost, where owners can set their own premiums and/or deductibles. A higher deductible amount usually means a lower monthly or quarterly premium, just like with human insurance.
3. Pet insurance covers new problems, but not pre-existing conditions. For example, if a dog has been treated for an ear infection previously and comes in for a new exam because he is shaking his head and scratching at his ears, pet insurance will not cover the new exam or any treatments if the problem this time is another ear infection. This is why Kingsbrook Animal Hospital discusses pet insurance plans with all new pets–if they’re enrolled while they’re young and healthy, there are no pre-existing conditions!
4. Different than human health insurance, with its co-pays and delayed billing, pet insurance reimburses owners once claim forms and invoices have been submitted. Owners still have to pay for exams and treatments out-of-pocket, but once the insurance company processes the claim a check will be mailed for the amount covered.
5. Not all pet insurance is created equal. Kingsbrook Animal Hospital recommends Pets Best insurance (click on the link to learn more), but several other companies such as Trupanion and Embrace have gotten good reviews from our clients too.

KAH patient Swaggy is ready to look into pet insurance! Be sure to research which company has the best plan for each pet before buying!

6. Keep in mind that most insurance companies have a “waiting period” after enrollment, usually between 10-30 days. This means that any exams or issues within 10-30 days after applying for coverage will not be picked up by the new insurance.

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s Five Fun Facts About Preventatives

One of the most important things owners can do for their pets is giving or applying preventative medications. These “preventatives” help protect our pets from all sorts of yuckky things. Below is some information on preventatives.

  1. These are some of the parasites that can be avoided with the regular use of preventatives!

    Preventatives cover parasites inside and outside of the bodyFlea and tick preventatives like Nexgard also help prevent tapeworms (which are carried by fleas), and Interceptor also has a basic dewormer included to take care of hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. We see all 4 types of intestinal parasites here in Frederick! Worst of all, some of these are zoonotic parasites, which means they can be shared with people too.

  2. Cats need preventatives, too!  Feline friends who go outdoors, or who live with dogs with known flea problems, can really benefit from preventatives. Frontline will address the fleas and ticks, but Revolution (another topical medication) also prevents heartworms and certain mites.
  3. Preventatives need to be given monthly in order to do their job. This means once every 30 days! There is no “carryover,” which means once every 2 months isn’t protecting the pet for the second month. Most manufacturers of preventatives will guarantee their products, but ONLY if they are given monthly!
  4. Flea and tick prevention is just as important over the winter as it is during the summer. Ticks in Maryland do not die off in the cold, and in fact are searching harder for a warm furry body to live on. If the winter stays temperate, the fleas don’t die off either, and here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital we have indeed seen pets with fleas over the winter!

    KAH’s own Dr. Cook displays Nexgard, a safe and effective oral flea & tick preventative.

  5. Preventatives cost much less than treatment for parasites. Fourteen years’ worth of heartworm preventatives still cost less than one round of heartworm treatment, and usually dogs need 3 treatments. Unfortunately, heartworm disease in cats is fatal since they can’t tolerate the medication used in dogs. Fleas can take up to 6 months to be completely eradicated from the environment, which means washing all fabrics in the house several times and treating all pets (even indoor-only cats) who live there. 

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s Top 4 Tips on Pet Oral Home Care

One common topic encountered during examinations at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital is caring for pets’ teeth at home.  This can seem like a daunting task, and owners often have questions about where to begin and what options there are for oral home care. The following are KAH’s Top Four Tips on Oral Home Care for pets!


  1. Start early—begin handling a puppy or kitten’s mouth as early as possible. Introduce toothpaste and the toothbrush slowly to get pets used to the idea. For older pets, start by letting them lick some toothpaste off a finger and gradually introduce the toothbrush.
  2. Start out slowly with introducing toothpaste and a toothbrush. Even cats can learn to accept brushing!

    Make it positive—offer a favorite treat or even a meal after brushing to build up acceptance and create positive experiences. Dental treats (see #4) are a great option for this!

  3. Brush often—once a day is ideal, but at least 3 times a week will make a difference in the buildup of plaque and tartar. Check out our YouTube channel for a video with a demonstration on how to brush teeth!
  4. Consider nonbrushing options such as Hills t/d or dental treats (Greenies for cats, OraVet

    KAH technician Nora applies OraVet sealant to patient Xanthos’s teeth after his cleaning!

    Chews for dogs) for pets who aren’t as accepting of brushing. There are also dental wipes and water additives. Kingsbrook Animal Hospital recommends using only products endorsed by the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council), an independent third-party organization that tests all pet dental products on the market.

  5. Choose a professional sealant to be applied after a professional cleaning. KAH offers OraVet and Sanos sealants, which help slow the buildup of plaque and tartar and extend the efficacy of a cleaning. Ask a Kingsbrook veterinarian for more information!


The Top 5 Reasons Kingsbrook Animal Hospital Is The Best At Cleaning Teeth

February is National Pet Dental Health month, and many veterinary clinics see an increase in the number of dental cleanings and procedures scheduled.  While virtually every veterinarian offers oral cleanings for their patients, all cleanings are not created equal. The staff at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD is excited to take a few minutes to share with all pet owners the Top 5 reasons that KAH is the best place to have an oral cleaning and evaluation!

1. We check pre-anesthetic bloodwork on all patients before any anesthetic procedure. This alerts the veterinarian to any issues with the patient’s liver, kidneys, hydration status, and oxygen-carrying ability of the blood. All of these factors are important to consider, especially because…

2. Our licensed technicians and veterinarians work together to custom-tailor the anesthesia for each patient. Rather than practice “cookie-cutter” medicine where each patient is treated the same, our staff considers every pet an individual. Certain drugs are included or avoided based on what is best for each particular

KAH technician Nora performs an oral cleaning, using the same instruments a human dentist uses.


3. All anesthesia patients are monitored 100% of the time by a licensed veterinary technician, who uses state-of-the-art anesthetic monitoring equipment as backup. From the minute a pet is sedated until recovery is complete, he or she is in the company of an experienced and educated professional whose first priority is patient safety.

Nora reviews the dental radiographs taken on her patient. This is vital information that helps the technicians and doctors make decisions about a pet’s oral health.

4. We include full-mouth digital dental x-rays with every cleaning. This important step allows the veterinarian to see above/below the pet’s gumlines at each tooth’s root.  Issues such as tooth root abscesses, retained root tips, and resorptive lesions would not be identified without these x-rays, meaning that in spite of

KAH patient Daisy’s mom proudly displays her OraVet home care kit. This is one of the many options we offer to help with home dental care!

everyone’s best intentions the patient may continue to have problems after a cleaning done without x-rays.

5. After the cleaning, our technicians and veterinarians will work with pet owners to find an oral home care regimen that will work for that patient. This will help extend the time between cleanings and set pets up for better periodontal health for the rest of their lives.

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital Discusses Declawing

One of the more controversial topics in the pet owner world is declawing cats. Some owners are staunch supporters of this procedure, while others are fierce advocates. What is the big deal about declawing, anyway? Here are a few facts about declawing.

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats–it is how they keep their nails short and is a way for them to mark their territory. With good training, frequent nail trims, and alternative surfaces, most cats will learn to avoid scratching furniture and walls. Some cats, however, are more resistant to this idea or are fixated on a particular spot. These owners may elect to have their cat declawed.

This handsome KAH patient, Gerald, is an indoor/outdoor cat. Cats who go outdoors need their claws for defense!

Declawing, or onchyectomy, removes not only the claw but the entire first bone of each toe; imagine a human hand without all of its fingertips. This is a major surgical procedure, and is very painful for the cat. Generally, cats heal better and have less behavioral issues if the surgery is performed at a younger age–many times the procedure is performed along with a spay or neuter at around 6 months of age.

At Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, we will perform a declawing surgery as a last resort–only after all other measures have failed to curb the behavior. The biggest benefit to performing the surgery here is that

Sweet little Squish listens in as KAH technicians discuss nail trims with her owner. Regular nail trims can help prevent the need for declawing.

we are able to use our surgical laser! The CO2 laser allows the veterinarian to simultaneously cauterize and cut, which makes the declawing less painful for the cat and negates the need for the bandages used after a traditional declaw. Another advantage is that KAH is very invested in pain control for our patients. Our Kingsbrook veterinarians will use multiple types of pain control both before and after the procedure to help keep the cat comfortable.  All of our veterinarians and staff are happy to answer any questions about this procedure.

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s Focus On Food: Tips For Healthy Pet Nutrition

Continuing on Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s theme of New Years’ resolutions, many people vow to eat healthier or go on a diet starting in January.  Healthy eating can extend to our pets, too! There’s a lot of information available on animal nutrition, so it can be challenging to know fact from fiction. Here, KAH will provide our Top 5 Tips on Healthy Pet Nutrition.


  1. Most scientists agree that dogs are omnivores, and cats are carnivores. This means that “wild” dogs will eat plants, grains, and meat, while cats will eat almost exclusively (greater than 95%) meat. Be sure pets are getting appropriate levels of protein—too much can be as harmful as too little!
  2. Be sure to use a measuring cup or scoop to accurately measure how much each pet is eating. Make sure each cup is level (like the small scoop) not rounded at the top (like the bigger cup)!

    The type of protein is just as important as the amount. Unlike people, our pets don’t really need “variety” in their diets. To avoid food allergies and picky eaters, feed just one protein (such as chicken or lamb) and stick with it!

  3. Choose a reputable brand of pet food made by a company that staffs certified nutritionists

    KAH technician Julie’s kitty Calvin poses with his food. Science Diet is one of the brands KAH recommends for good pet nutrition!

    and has solid quality control procedures in place. It’s even better if they have a good customer support department that can answer any questions owners may have. Kingsbrook Animal Hospital recommends Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, and Purina ProPlan as excellent choices for any pet’s diet.

  4. Pet food bags usually overestimate the amount an animal should be eating. For example, most cats don’t need more than ½ a cup of dry food in a day. For exact recommendations for a specific pet, consult a veterinarian at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital.
  5. Meal feeding is always a better idea than free feeding. It’s much easier to monitor how much and how well a pet is eating if measured amounts are put down 2-3 times a day. Also, just like for humans, several small meals tend to keep metabolism higher than just one big meal every day.