Tag Archives: Veterinarian

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.

KAH Invites You To Fall In Love With A Shelter Dog: Part 2

Some more members of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital‘s staff were dog-gone excited to share their reasons for adopting a shelter dog:

Dr. Walker with her rescue pup Timmy

Dr. Walker, DVM: “I met each of my dogs when they were slated for euthanasia through a local shelter, and I just knew I had to give them each another chance. I couldn’t imagine a world without either of my sweet pups.”

Katie, RVT: “Everyone should rescue at least one pet! Since my family has no need for a specific breed of dog, I wanted to not only save a life but to set an example for my kids that everyone deserves a second chance.”

Kayla, Vet Assistant: “Rescue dogs need help and they need loving families. Bruce  was already ‘on hold’ at the shelter, but I insisted on meeting him anyway. The other family changed their mind and we took Bruce home that same day. Love, especially ‘puppy love,’ will always find a way!”

KAH Vet Assistant Kayla with her adorable boy Bruce

Sara, Vet Assistant: “I feel so badly about animals in shelters; most of the time, it isn’t their fault that they ended up there. A lot of them have really sad stories, like owners who get a divorce or pets who are surrendered because their elderly owners can’t keep them in a nursing home. It helps all the animals in the shelter to adopt a pet, because you not only save a life but you free up space and resources for another pet in need.”

Lainey, RVT: “I was really looking for a more mature dog who had some life experience. So many dogs in shelters are already obedience trained and housebroken, and it’s easy to get some background information about them from

KAH Vet Assistant Robin and rescue dog Jacoby pose for a quick selfie

the shelter—like are they good with other dogs, or good with cats? Their personalities are already formed and you know exactly what you’re getting.”

Robin, Vet Assistant: “All of my pets, even as a child, were rescues. I feel like dogs from the shelter are super grateful for the new lease on life, and they form extra-loving bonds because of that.”

 

By now, many Frederick residents are probably wondering how to get in on the rescue action!  Kingsbrook Animal Hospital recommends checking out Frederick County Animal Control’s current furry friends-in-need by checking out their PetFinder page here.

KAH Invites You To Fall In Love With A Shelter Dog: Part 1

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD we invite you to Fall In Love With a Shelter Dog!
To celebrate adoption, we asked staff members to tell us why they decided to rescue a dog from a shelter. Below are their answers, as well as some photos of their cherished canines.

KAH technician Sam with her adopted dog Emmie

Sam, RVT: “I saw a picture of Emmie on PetFinder and I just knew she was the dog for me. Adopting a dog is great because you get the same unconditional love for less money. All of my pets have always been rescues.”

Nora, RVT: “I met my dogs as patients here at KAH, through Frederick County Animal Control. I fell in love and was looking to expand my family—it’s like it was meant to be!”

KAH technician Nora with her rescue pup Sophia

Tiffany, CSR: “I met Dixie Petunia as a patient. She came to the hospital from the shelter for a spay surgery. She was so malnourished, and most of her hair was missing—but she was so sweet! I helped nurse her back to health, and by then it was the holiday season…so Dixie Petunia was my Christmas gift to myself.”

Dr. Riley, DVM: “There is just such a need to rescue animals, I never even considered going elsewhere. My family really wanted to help homeless pets and save a life.”

KAH technician Rush with furry family member Wallace

Rush, RVT: “I really wanted a one-of-a-kind mixed-breed dog, and I fell in love with Wallace when I saw his photo on the PetFinder website. There are just so many dogs who need homes, and it makes me really happy to know that Wallace is such a ‘unique snowflake.’”

Nyx, Vet Assistant: “Maui was returned to the shelter by a family who just didn’t want her anymore. It was such a sad story, and when she came in to KAH as a foster I couldn’t help falling in love. I wanted to give her another chance, and me & my kids are so glad I did.”

 

Stay tuned for more adoption stories in Kingsbrook Animal Hospital‘s “Fall In Love With A Shelter Dog: Part 2”!

“How Do You Deal With It?” A Narrative by Nora

“Humane Euthanasia is a procedure I have become very grateful for over my 17 years in a small animal practice. People often say to me, ‘This must be the hardest part of your job.’ My response is that I’ve grown very appreciative of our ability to end suffering when other options are not available. I tell my clients that I have great confidence in our ability to perform

Ernie belonged to KAH technician Tiki, who said goodbye to her sweet boy in 2013.

euthanasia in a way that is peaceful and dignified for our patients. I explain every step of the process so they have a clear understanding of what’s to come. I never want them to fear this process or worry that it will be stressful or painful for their pet. I tell my clients they are brave and selfless as they make their decision to say goodbye to their loved one. I tell them their bravery affords their pet the gift of peace.”

KAH CSR Tiffany said goodbye to her beloved Chloe Clarice in early 2017.

Our pets give us so much unconditional love and acceptance and saying goodbye to them is so hard. I empathize with their suffering and tell them how sorry I am they have to suffer the grief of losing their pet. I do everything I can to assure them they have made a kind decision motivated by the best interest of their pet.”

Is assisting with humane euthanasia the hardest part of my job? No. Seeing animals suffer is the hardest part of my job. I have come to embrace euthanasia as a kind and peaceful means of ending that suffering.  If I can help someone gain some peace and resolve in their decision to say goodbye to their pet, these are the moments in my job that I find most gratifying. I am very grateful for my ability to positively influence my clients and patients through the process of humane euthanasia.”

~Nora McKay-Clark, RVT

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.

Fluffy Bunnies & Fuzzy Chicks: Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s Advice on Easter Pets

It’s easy to tell that Easter is approaching by the amount of advertisements containing cute bunny rabbits and fuzzy little chicks!  Often, parents looking for a first pet are inspired by these ideas, and will surprise children with a baby chick or a bunny in an Easter basket. While both species can be very rewarding pets, there is a lot more to them than meets the eye!

Rabbits can make wonderful pets, but they require more work than a dog or a cat!

Below, Kingsbrook Animal Hospital reveals some facts about rabbit and chicken care.

  1. Rabbits need to be spayed and neutered, just like dogs and cats. Intact male rabbits often

    This bunny is a lop! Lops have very long ears.

    become aggressive, and over 80% of intact female rabbits will develop invasive and fatal reproductive cancers before 5 years of age. Healthy, well-cared-for rabbits will live for 10-12 years!

  2. Bunnies require very specific housing conditions. They need solid-floor housing–wire-bottom cages and shelves can cause a condition known as “bumblefoot,” which is a painful infection and swelling of the feet. Rabbits cannot have wood shavings of any kind, and cages should be in a well-ventilated area to minimize the risk of

    Rabbits, just like cats and dogs, need to be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year.

    respiratory problems.

  3. There are “good” and “bad” veggies when it comes to rabbits.  It is important not to feed sweet or starchy fruits and veggies such as apples, sweet potatoes, or carrots, because they can actually slow down a bunny’s digestive tract and cause life-threatening GI stasis.

    Baby chicks require lots of specialized care until they are old enough to live outdoors.

    Rabbits like romaine, Swiss chard, endive, and red- or green-leaf lettuce. Even more important is a constant supply of fresh timothy hay.

  4. Baby chicks need to be kept inside until they are fully feathered–this can take around 5 months for some breeds. Chicks need a very temperature-controlled environment

    Chickens are birds, which means they will make noise and can be fairly messy!

    (~95 degrees is ideal) which means a heat lamp is a requirement. Also, chicken feces contain salmonella bacteria, so baby chicks need lots of clean-up to keep the bacterial populations to a minimum.

  5. Chickens are birds, which means they can fly (to an extent)! This sounds obvious, but it means that either the chickens will need a very tall fence, at least 7 feet, to prevent escape– or they will

    If a chicken is going to be a good pet, it needs to be handled from a young age.

    require regular wing trims to prevent flight. Keep in mind that if a chicken can’t fly, it can’t escape from a fox or raccoon!

  6. Many city ordnances and homeowners’ associations (HOAs) prevent owning chickens or any “farm” animals.  Be sure to research all laws and by-laws thoroughly!

KAH Invites All To Stay and Be Tutored on Spays and Neuters!

One of the most common procedures done in veterinary clinics around the country (and here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital!) is altering a pet—“spaying” for females, and “neutering” for males. What exactly is involved in these surgeries, and what benefits are there for pets who are surgically altered?

Neutering

  • “Neutering” is the surgical removal of the testicles. In dogs, this is done through a small

    KAH technician Julie poses for a brief selfie with Rusty before getting started with surgery!

    incision in the abdomen, while for cats and for rabbits the veterinarian can perform the surgery by making a tiny incision in the scrotum.

  • Almost 100% of intact male cats AND rabbits will spray urine in the house. They may become aggressive or destructive, and most will escape outdoors to find a female and defend their “territory.” Unless he is being used for breeding purposes, there is very little benefit to leaving a male cat or rabbit intact. Cats and rabbits are usually neutered no later than 6 months old.
  • Dogs, however, are a different story. Large-breed male dogs (those over 50lbs as adults) especially seem to benefit a lot from remaining intact until they are finished growing. For these boys, owners can wait until 1 year of age to neuter.
  • Smaller dogs (or larger boys who start to show signs of marking or aggression) can be neutered as early as 6 months of age.

    Dr. Lynch completes a pre-anesthetic exam and enters her notes. Every surgical patient at KAH is given special care!

 

Spaying

  • A “spay” is when the veterinarian removes a female’s uterus and ovaries. This prevents pregnancy and pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus.
  • Cats and rabbits are spayed before 6 months of age to prevent them from going through a heat cycle. For both species, once a heat cycle starts it won’t end until the pet has mated.
  • Spaying before the first heat cycle prevents mammary cancer. Most intact female cats and rabbits will develop mammary

    KAH technician Sam cuddles her recovering patient after a spay surgery.

    tumors, which are invasive, fast-growing, and almost always fatal. There is no benefit to leaving a female cat or rabbit intact unless she is going to be used for breeding.

  • Larger-breed female dogs may benefit from waiting until 1 year of age to spay. However, most girls go through their first heat cycle between 6-8 months old. Our veterinarians at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital consider each dog on a case-by-case basis and make recommendations accordingly.

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.