Earlier this month, the CDC reported that diseases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016. We could’ve told you that!
Pet owners in New England are well aware that these pests, particularly ticks, are more prevalent than ever. This corresponds to an uptick (pardon the pun!) in the diseases that these vermin carry among both humans and our beloved pets.
#3 Where will my pet contract fleas & ticks?
Fleas: fleas travel indoors easily. While fleas prefer humid climates and temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees, they can live in temperatures as low as 33 degrees for up to five days! Flea eggs can live year round in protected areas like crawl spaces or porches. Once inside, flea eggs drop onto rugs, beddings and furniture. An adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day - yuck!
Ticks: sadly, it’s safe to assume that if you let your pet outside, they are being exposed to ticks. Your pet can pick up ticks in long grass, the short grass in your yard, the woods and even from the brush next to paved surfaces.
#4 What do I do if I think or know my pet has fleas or ticks?
Fleas: be on the lookout for droppings or “flea dirt” in your pet’s coat and/or tiny white flea eggs; skin reactions and excessive licking, scratching or biting; hair loss; scabs or hot spots; pale gums or worms in your pet’s stool. If observe any of these symptoms, call us immediately at 978-369-3505 to make an appointment. We'll prescribe treatment and talk to you about how to rid your pets and your house of fleas.
Ticks: most ticks are visible to the naked eye but can be hard to spot if they’re buried in the fur of your pet. Check your pet for ticks once a day, paying special attention to a tick’s favorite hiding places: between toes, in "armpits", the neck, around the eyes and inside ears. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it as soon as possible. If it hasn’t attached itself yet, there is no risk of tick-borne illness for your pet. If it has attached, grasp the tick with a pair of tweezers as close to the site of attachment as you can and pull straight back.
If you have found an attached tick, particularly one that is engorged, the MSPCA advises noting the date and time to discuss with your veterinarian.
Continue watching for joint pain, which may manifest as lethargy, lack of appetite, reluctance to stand or lie down, crying painfully, walking gingerly or limping, especially on more than one limb or on a different limb from one day to the next. NOTE: Symptoms may not appear until several weeks after exposure.
If you observe any of these symptoms following a tick bite, contact us immediately to make an appointment. Typically tick borne-illnesses respond well to a course of antibiotics, so don’t delay in contacting us!
#5 How can we prevent flea & tick-borne illnesses?
At CAH we take a multi-pronged approach to protecting your pets from tick-borne diseases like Lyme and anaplasmosis. We vaccinate dogs against Lyme disease, test all at-risk pets for tick-borne diseases annually and we strongly recommend that clients give a flea & tick preventative year round. Fleas and ticks aren't killed by the frost and jump to life in 40 degrees or lower. While it's not above 40 degrees 365 days per year, it absolutely gets above 40 degrees every month of the year. Prevention is safer, easier and less expensive than treatment, not to mention much easier on your beloved cat or dog!
Your new canine addition should get to their vet within 72 hours of arriving home. “We want to make sure your new puppy or dog is healthy and form a positive relationship with your pup early on,” says co-owner and vet, Dr. Stephen Wilson. “We’ll also discuss what puppy healthcare will look like in the first couple of years, including what vaccines are right for your pooch, flea, tick and heart worm prevention and when and if it makes sense to spay or neuter your pup.”
Most of our clients are looking for guidance on training and we recommend classes to socialize your dog and help you and your dog learn basic commands such as "leave it" and "sit" for everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Trainers often have wait lists or particular start dates, so do your research in advance, find out what vaccinations are required by the trainer and try to get your dog into a class within a couple of weeks of coming home.
Concord Animal Hospital’s Katherine Wilson sat down with Judy Bernard, Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed, member Association of Professional Dog Trainers and owner of Proper Paws Dog Training right here in Concord to get her thoughts on how to lay the groundwork for a well-behaved dog. Proper Paws Dog Training offers services ranging from puppy socialization to group and private training for older dogs and behavioral consultation.
Katherine: how should new dog owners prep for training before their new dog arrives?
Judy: First, it helps if all the family members are on the same page when it comes to the rules we are going to ask the puppy to live by. Will the dog be allowed on the couch? Where will they sleep? Will it be ok for the dog to be in all the rooms in the house? Sometimes these issues are easy to agree on, but sometimes it takes a discussion and even negotiation to reach agreement. Just like with our kids, we need to have agreement on what’s allowed and what’s not, so that we can all be consistent. Inconsistent reinforcement will confuse the puppy and training will be much more difficult.
Second, its ideal to pick a trainer before your pet comes home and try to time classes so you start two-three weeks after your pet’s arrival, earlier. I always encourage people to visit classes in advance, chat with trainers and be sure they are a good fit for you. We are lucky to have many qualified trainers in the area, but do check for qualifications and certifications and ask or observe the methods these trainers use. As with the Veterinarian industry, best practice in dog training is force free and positive reinforcement. Also, be aware that many times there is a wait to join classes or get private training time, so ask about availability.
Also, if the trainer does early socialization classes you can begin those as soon as the puppy has been checked by your vet!
Judy: It’s really important to give your new dog some time to adjust to their new surroundings, keep visitors to a minimum, consider a crate or other safe spot when they need some “me” time and create a routine that will address the puppy’s bathroom needs as well as providing adequate daily exercise of at least an hour a day.
You can also begin to reinforce appropriate behaviors right away, it’s easier to prevent bad habits than it is to correct them. Consider using a clicker or a word such as “yes!” followed by a tasty treat to reinforce your puppy for all the behaviors you like, such as going to the bathroom outside, making eye contact, sitting, coming to you or walking into their crate.
Katherine: how would you recommend that all members of a family all get involved in a dog’s training?
Judy: There are lots of things that will need to be done for and with your new puppy and we need to be sure to match responsibilities/tasks to the right family members. Even the youngest can help with feeding and making sure there is fresh water available with a bit of supervision. Children that are a bit older will be able to play appropriate training games (again with supervision), and even older children (age 10-14) may be able to take the puppy out for bathroom breaks and/or walks in safe areas. Everyone in the family can learn to reinforce and praise for appropriate behaviors.
However the bulk of training requires an ability to predict the dog’s behavior, prevent behaviors that are undesirable and reinforce the desirable behaviors in a timely way. These skills are typically found in adults and often lacking in children. My recommendation is always that the basic skills be left for adults to train, while we find appropriate activities and games and tricks for kids to teach.
As a side but important note: it’s critical to always supervise your new dog with children. Your kids need to learn how to behave around your dog and visa versa and both often lack impulse control! The most important skill for humans to learn is to respect the dog's choice to accept petting, being picked up or engaging with a person. It’s ok for the dog to decide they don’t want to engage!
Read Prep Your Pet for a Baby for tips on how to introduce a human child to your pet children
Judy: Yes and no. Puppies require lots of time to train and there is a lot for them to learn, but they generally don’t arrive with much baggage. While older dogs may be housebroken they might also have behaviors that need adjusting, such as begging or jumping. Both require time and consistent reinforcement of the behaviors we do want while preventing the behaviors we don’t want. It also takes time to develop a bond with both puppies AND older dogs, this bond is enhanced through training and is critical for developing some of the most important behaviors like ‘come’ and leash walking.
Katherine: how much time should new dog owners expect to spend on training each day?
Judy: When I have clients with new puppies I generally give people a guideline of 2-5 minutes at a time 10-15 times a day, so between 20-75 minutes of training every day. Older dogs typically have greater attention spans and can go longer with fewer sessions. That said, I believe it is more effective and realistic to incorporate training into your regular interactions with your puppy or new rescue, than to set aside ‘training time’. So we make training our dogs a habit, rather than a chore. Examples of this include asking the dog to sit and/or wait for his food at every feeding. I even make it a game so people ask for the behavior 4 times with 2-3 pieces of kibble in the bowl before filling the bowl up for the 5 and final ask. Other ideas include, asking your dog to wait at the door before going out, asking your dog to sit at every curb you come to, playing games to reinforce the ‘come’ behavior, reinforcing your dog for being calm whenever it occurs, reinforcing a sit whenever your dog wants something, reinforcing eye contact at any time, reinforcing your dog for coming to you – even if you haven’t asked for it.
The bottom line in training is if we reinforce the behaviors we like they will repeat, and dogs are ALWAYS doing behaviors, we just have to watch for the ones we want and let the dogs know it!
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CAH is on a mission to make your pet love their vet!
We’ve joined the Fear Free movement to take the “Pet out of Petrified” when it comes to bringing your furry family member to the vet!
In January, we wrote about how to get to the vet Fear Free, with tips for both our feline and canine patients. This month, we’re sharing five key changes we’ve made to ease your pet’s anxiety while they’re here!
Treating Hodge from his crate with a
treat trail - no forcing!
- Working with the expert…YOU! You know your pet better than anyone. We’ll be talking to you about how your pet feels and behaves before and during vet visits. We’ll discuss strategies for how to eliminate things that might make them nervous, like being around other pets or getting vaccines. (see our previous Fear Free blog for tips on getting your cat or dog to the vet Fear Free)
- Using pheromones and other calming tools: We’re using species specific pheromones to help pets feel calm.
- For cats: while you’re in the waiting room we’ll place a towel sprayed with Feliway over their carriers. The pheromone calms them while the towel allows them to hide and feel safe. Kitty spa treatment!
- For dogs: dogs who are dropped off for procedures get a towel sprayed with Adaptil in their crate to help them feel calm. We also recommend that dogs in for the day bring in a t-shirt or blanket that smells of home. Very nervous dogs in for a check up will get a neckerchief sprayed with Adaptil.
- Note: dog pheromones don’t impact cats and cat pheromones don’t impact dogs. Neither impacts humans, but we aren’t licensed to give you a glass of wine to help you relax!
- Transporting with compassion - don’t force anyone anywhere!
- Cats: We’re ditching the handle on the cat carrier! Like your appendix, it’s a vestigial organ that is no longer needed. Cats don’t like the swinging motion, so we carry the carrier like a heavy package instead. We never force cats from their crates! We leave the door open and use treats to tempt them out. If that doesn’t work, we take the lid off of the crate and let them stay in their safe place.
- Dogs: To move your dog to another location in the hospital, we coax or jog alongside them to get them to move around the hospital – we don’t push or pull.
- Tricking out the exam room: We have non-slip mats for the exam tables and floors so pets feel secure. We have toys and a variety of treats to distract your pet as we examine, vaccinate and perform other procedures – they often don’t notice what we’re doing!
- Examine pets where they’re the most comfortable: Cat happy in the carrier, on a scale or even in the sink? Puppy likes being on your lap? Big dog happiest down on the floor? Then that’s where you’ll be examined my friend! As long as we’re able to safely perform examinations or procedures there, we’re more than happy to adjust the location to a spot where your animal feels most comfortable.
- Your pet has been vomiting or had diarrhea for more than 24 hours, sooner if it's severe or if you know or suspect your pet ate something they shouldn't have.
- There's blood in your pet's urine or stool or coming from their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Your pet is straining to urinate or defecate.
- Their behavior changes drastically.
- Their food or water intake changes significantly.
- Your pet is having trouble breathing.
- Your pet seems disoriented.
- You pet is limping or seems sore or sensitive to touch.
Not sure if you're pet needs to be seen? Call to discuss with our staff!
February is pet oral health month, but we at Concord Animal Hospital know that oral health is part of the comprehensive care we give our clients YEAR ROUND!
I know, "Does my dog seriously need an oral exam? And for real, a cleaning???" When Dr. Wilson was in veterinary school studying oral health and oral surgical procedures, I was dubious. However, I became a believer after our own cat, Smooch, underwent oral surgery, including the removal of two very rotten teeth.
Before, Smooch was a cranky kitty and you could smell her breath when she yawned...from a few feet away. Afterward:
A picture is worth a thousand words!
Just look at canine patient Grace's tartar buildup before her oral surgery and her pearly choppers after - somebody get me my shades!
If Smooch had a vote, she would've had her
dental procedure sooner!
Sometimes the tartar is visible on your pet’s teeth, but other signs of dental disease can include excessive drooling, dropping food, facial swelling, oral bleeding or even unusual aggression or shying away when touched in the mouth area.
We’re here to help! During a your pet's physical examination, our experienced veterinary team can recommend an oral program suited to your pet’s needs!
Katherine and her husband, Dr. Stephen Wilson, purchased the Concord Animal Hospital in 2015 and they are thrilled to partner with pet owners from Concord and the surrounding community on the healthcare of their beloved pets!
CAH joins the Fear Free movement to make vet visits less stressful for all
Concord Animal Hospital is joining the Fear Free movement to take the “Pet out of Petrified” when it comes to bringing your furry family member to the vet!
Our mission is to keep your pets healthy and happy. Making sure you and your pet have a positive experience when you come to our hospital is a top priority.
“Great veterinary care includes making sure pets feel safe and calm at our hospital. We all love animals and your pet’s happiness is very important to us,” says Dr. Stephen Wilson, CAH owner.
We’re sharing advice for pet owners in a 3-part blog series to ease the stress and anxiety you and your pet have about coming to the vet.
The first step to a Fear Free visit is getting your pet ready at home.
- Place your carrier in an accessible area of the house for cats to explore two or three days before your vet visit. Feed them nearby the carrier and place soft bedding, treats & toys inside.
- Use treats to lure them in to the carrier or put them in through an opening in the top. Don’t force a cat into carrier, especially head first.
- Spray pheromones such as Feliway on a blanket for the carrier and in the car. We’ve seen great success in calming our nervous feline patients in the hospital with towels sprayed with Feliway!
- Carry the carrier like a heavy package instead of using the top handle. There is less of a swinging motion this way - a better ride for your cat!
- Place the carrier on the floor behind the passenger seat in your vehicle.
- Drive carefully, avoiding sudden starts and stops.
- If your cat is very nervous in the waiting room, simply call to check in from the parking lot. One of our technicians will come to get you when we’re ready for you so you can avoid the waiting area altogether.
- Give them a little less food on the day of your vet visit to make them more motivated by treats. Though we have lots of treats here, you know your pet best - bring their favorite treats with you!
- Reward your pooch with treats for good behavior and as soon as you arrive at the hospital. Praise them often to create a positive association with the hospital!
- Spray pheromones such as Adaptil on a bandanna loosely tied around you dog’s neck or on a blanket.
- Place your carrier on the floor behind passenger seat or use a harness to secure your dog in the car.
- Drive carefully, avoiding sudden starts and stops
- If your dog is very nervous in the waiting room, simply call to check in from the parking lot. One of our technicians will come to get you when we’re ready for you so you can avoid the waiting area altogether.
- Come in for a non-medical visit! Bring your pup in for a stroll around our yard or into the waiting room. One of us can come us to give your dog a pat and a treat and then send you both on your way. A few positive experiences at our hospital can make a frightened dog less afraid the next time they need to come for an exam or treatment.
We’re Just a Phone Call Away!
As always, please call us with questions about ways to reduce your pet’s anxiety about visiting the vet.
For extremely anxious pets, discussing options such as medication to reduce stress with our veterinarians is recommended. Cats that you can’t get into the carrier or a dog that is quivering with fear may need medical intervention to ensure everyone is safe and as relaxed as possible during your visit.
Call to schedule a fear free appointment today!
And check back in March to learn what Fear Free techniques we’re using at Concord Animal Hospital to make our hospital a happier place for your pet!
Holiday hazards are easy to avoid - Concord Animal Hospital wants to help you make sure your pets are prepared!
- Dangerous foods like chocolate and raisins - learn more about tabletop toxins for your pet
- Decorations like candles and tinsel, adored by but potentially lethal for cats in particular
- Christmas tree water, electrical wires and breakable ornaments as well as toxic holiday plants like poinsettias
- Our own guests, who might slip pets table scraps or leave doors open. Carefully introduce any pets your pets bring to your home - take all the dogs for a walk together before guest dogs set paw in your house so that they can meet each other on neutral ground.
At Concord Animal Hospital we are passionate about keeping your pets happy and healthy all year long. That's why we strongly encourage our clients to continue giving their beloved dogs and cats their heart worm and flea & tick preventatives even when the temperatures drop. Here's why!
- Ticks are active in temperatures above 40 degrees. Once the thermometer creeps up on balmy winter days these robust parasites jump back into action. This past winter we all enjoyed stretches of gorgeous warm weather and with them a bloom of ticks and spike in tick-borne diseases like lyme and anaplasma.
- Fleas can live in temperatures as low as 33 degrees for up to five days, plenty of time to hop a ride on your dog or cat and make a cozy home in your house. Once they become your roommate, the weather outside won't help protect your pets against these critters!
- Flea eggs can live in protected areas like crawl spaces or porches - freezing temperatures won't always kill these eggs.
- Heart worm and flea and tick preventives also protect against other less seasonal parasites such as hookworm, roundworm and the mange. These parasites are transmitted year round through feces, small animals your pet might eat or through contact with another pet carrying the microscopic monsters.
New England winters aren't consistently freezing
Yes, from December through February the temperatures are generally below freezing but, as they say, if you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute and it'll change.
Stretches of lovely 40 or even 50 degree weather in the middle of January are common. With weather like ours, it's extremely difficult to predict what mosquitoes, fleas and ticks will do. It's better to be safe than sorry and make sure your pet is always protected.
West Concord average temperatures courtesy of City-Data.com
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What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into targeted points to stimulate a biochemical and physiologic change in the body. These acupuncture points are where spinal nerves exit the spine, the routes of major nerves and the interfaces of major nerve-muscle junctions. There are scientific and medical studies providing us evidence of acupuncture’s mechanism of action and its effectiveness in humans and in animals.
Why offer acupuncture? Acupuncture is a safe, non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical therapeutic treatment which can be used to treat and manage several chronic conditions in pets. Although it is rarely an end-all cure, it can be used by itself or in conjunction with other medicines and treatments to improve overall quality of life by reducing pain and inflammation, decreasing anxiety and stress, and improving immune function. One of our veterinarians can help you understand whether acupuncture could be a helpful treatment for your pet.
Aby the lab getting her acupuncture treatment
BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW: Call (978) 369-3503 or email to make an appointment now
Dr. Carpenter gives Sully his very first acupuncture treatment for his intervertebral disc disease and hind end weakness and instability
As we launch our new acupuncture services, Concord Animal Hospital’s Katherine Wilson sat down with Dr. Kathryn Carpenter to learn more about acupuncture for pets. Dr. Carpenter is returning to Concord Animal Hospital this November after bringing a beautiful baby girl into the world. She graduated from Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2011 and earned her certification in veterinary medical acupuncture from Curacore Integrative Medicine and Education Center in Fort Collins, Colorado in September of 2017.
Dr. Carpenter: Yes! Acupuncture needles are much thinner than needles routinely used in veterinary practice. On the first visit, we start with smaller needles in a less sensitive location to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Even if your pet is very sensitive to having vaccines and blood taken, it’s likely that they’ll be okay with acupuncture needles, even cats. For example, I treat a French Bulldog, Sully, initially weekly and then monthly for his intervertebral disc disease and associated hind end weakness and instability. As you can see in the video of his very first treatment [above], he was quite calm and unfazed by the insertion of needles. Most animals don’t mind the insertion of the needles. They tend to enjoy the calming sensation they feel afterwards - some animals even fall asleep during treatment! Of course, some animals or points on the body are more sensitive than others and your pet may have a quick reaction during certain needle pokes but my goal is to earn their trust - and yours - by making the experience as pleasant as possible.
Katherine: How does it actually work?
Dr. Carpenter: I place acupuncture needles at points chosen to shift the nervous system toward a more relaxed and calm state, which is known as a parasympathetic response – the exact opposite of the sympathetic “fight or flight” response – to improve your pet’s ability to rest, regenerate, heal, and digest.
I target points that influence desired physiologic reactions and promote the release of important chemicals and neurotransmitters, such as the release of the body’s natural pain killers, endorphins and serotonin. Studies have found that acupuncture can reduce inflammation and stress, promote repair and regrowth of damaged tissues, increase circulation, stimulate nerve function, relieve muscle and soft tissue spasm and tightness, improve digestion and enhance the body’s immune system.
Katherine: What conditions does acupuncture treat?
Dr. Carpenter: Musculoskeletal and neurologic problems are the most commonly treated conditions. This includes joint pain from arthritis, hip dysplasia, neck or back pain from either soft tissue strain or spinal cord disease, nerve injuries or paralysis, and lameness.
Acupuncture is an additional therapeutic option for certain internal and systemic diseases and other inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, asthma, chronic rhinitis, ear and skin allergies, feline lower urinary tract disorder, and terminal cancer pain. Following a thorough diagnostic workup and therapeutic medical plan, it can safely be used with other medications to reduce clinical signs and improve comfort and quality of life.
Katherine: What should clients expect during their first appointment?
Dr. Carpenter: The first acupuncture appointment is a one-hour exam. We’ll discuss your pet’s history and establish the goals of treatment. I’ll perform a myofascial palpation exam (a gentle hands-on massage to detect areas of pain, tenderness, weakness and tension) and depending on the condition, a neurologic exam and we’ll develop a treatment plan. You’ll remain with your pet during the appointment to make them comfortable. We’ll provide comfortable padding and treats and you can bring a favorite toy, snack and blankets
In most cases, follow-up treatments are 30 minutes once per week for 5-6 weeks in a row. We can then taper treatments as needed to maintain the patient’s improvement, ranging from every two weeks to every few months. Each individual pet requires different amounts of time for the needles to be left in and this typically ranges from a few minutes to 20 minutes.
Follow Concord Animal Hospital's 5-point emergency checklist to keep your pets safe during an emergency.
- ID & microchip your pets. Your pets should always wear identifications tags with your contact information on their collars or harnesses. If you haven't already, ask your vet to implant a microchip, a safe and effective way for good Samaritans to return your lost pets to you. Read our blog on microchipping your pet to learn more.
- Keep your contact information updated on ID tags and with microchip manufacturers - these methods don't work if someone can't contact you when they've found your pet!
- Rescue alert sticker. Place a rescue alert sticker somewhere rescue workers can easily see it, such as on or near your front door. Your sticker should include the types and numbers of pets in your home. If you evacuate with your pets and time and safety allow, write “evacuated” on the sticker. You can order a sticker free from the ASPCA.
- Know where to go. "If at all possible, don't leave your pets behind when you evacuate - if it's not safe for you, it isn't safe for your pet." says Dr. Wilson. Identify which emergency shelters will take pets (not all do!), hotels in safe areas that are pet friendly (try a pet travel website such as petfriendlytravel.com) or friends and family outside of any evacuation area that would take in your pet.
- If you can't take your pet with you, don't tie them up in the yard or crate them in the house as this can lead to death from drowning or exposure. Allow your pets to move to safer areas of your home if one section of your home floods or otherwise becomes unsafe.
- Travel safely. Keep a pet carrier labelled with your pet’s name and your name and contact information, a leash and/or carrier near an exit as well as proper equipment for your pet to ride in the car such as a carrier, harness or pet seat belt.
- Emergency supplies. The Department of Homeland Security put together a list of supplies, with critical items from that list below:
- Food & water – 3 days minimum supply specifically for your pets
- Medical and vaccination records, registration information and adoption papers
- Collar or harness with ID tags, rabies tag and a leash
- Pet carrier lined with bedding
- Litter box and box liner (litter, newspaper, etc.)
- A picture of you and your pet together labelled with the species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics in case you are separated
- Favorite toys, treats and bedding to help reduce stress for your pet
- Dr. McCullough reminds owners of pocket pets to “keep the little guys in mind! In addition to food and water, pack a week’s worth of bedding, a salt lick and a tube or hidebox. Keep them warm and dry and consider covering their cage or crate with a towel to reduce stress as much as you're able."
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