If you’re about to adopt a new cat or are thinking about adding one to your family, let us be the first to say congratulations! And if you’ve recently adopted a new kitten and have a hundred different questions about what to do now, we’re here to help! Whether you’re a first-time cat owner looking for guidance, or a cat connoisseur looking to brush up on your pet-ownership expertise, here’s a handy list of questions, answers, and information you might find useful.
What is a Vaccine?
A vaccine exposes the immune system to inactive or incomplete disease-causing agents to train it to quickly and effectively respond if it ever encounters the real deal. Typically we recommend vaccinating new kittens with the pankluemia, rhinotracheitis, and calvivirus (PRC) vaccine and the rabies vaccine. We may also recommend the feline leukemia vaccine for outdoor cats. Vaccines are safe and effective. Reactions are rare and not typically life threatening when treated properly. For more information on vaccine reactions, what to watch out for, and how to treat them, check out our April blog post.
Fleas, Ticks, and Parasites, Oh My!
Nobody wants fleas and ticks on their pets or in their homes. Fleas can transmit intestinal parasites, and while tick borne diseases like anaplasmosis are less common in cats than in dogs, they’re still possible. The good news is that flea and tick preventatives are safe, effective, and easy to give. We typically recommend topical preventatives like Revolution for cats, since cats are less likely to take a chewable tablet. We also advise continuing flea and tick preventatives year-round, as even in winter ticks can survive in temperatures as low as 33 degrees!
Spaying and Neutering
In addition to preventing unwanted pregnancies, spaying and neutering your cats has a number of health benefits. Spayed females have a decreased risk of mammary cancer and a uterine infection known as pyometritis. Neutered males are less likely to run away, mark territory by urinating, or be attacked by other cats. They also have no risk of testicular cancer. Our veterinarians can help you decide whether spaying/neutering makes sense for your cat, and the best age at which to do so.
Caring for those Purr-ly Whites
Let’s talk teeth! Much like humans, pets require dental care or they run the risk of plaque, tartar, gingivitis, and other periodontal diseases. Our veterinarians perform dental checkups as part of your cat’s annual visits, but you should brush your cat’s teeth at home as well! We recommend brushing daily, starting with short sessions to get your cat used to having their gums and teeth touched, before moving up to 3-5 minute sessions. For more info, check out our five-step video on cleaning your pet’s teeth.
Microchipping your pets is a safe, cost-effective way to dramatically increase the chances of finding a lost pet. A microchip is a small electronic device about the size of a grain of rice, implanted under the skin with a needle. If a lost pet is found and brought to a veterinarian or shelter they can scan for a chip, which can then be used to contact you. The microchipping process is about as painful as a normal vaccine and can be done at any routine visit, though we often implant them during sedated procedures such as neuters and spays.
When to Call the Vet
Over the lifetime of your cat, you’ll have moments where you wonder, Is this worth a phone call? At times like those remember the golden rule: When in doubt, always reach out. It’s what we’re here for, after all!
You can call us at 978-369-3503, or email us at email@example.com. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call us or a 24-hour emergency vet immediately, as your cat may be experiencing a medical emergency:
That’s all very helpful, but…
As always, these blog posts are intended to provide general information about your pets. If you have questions not covered here or questions about your specific cat, feel free to get in touch! We’re always happy to have a quick cat chat.
It's the time of year to write our New Year's resolutions. This year lets get our pets in on the act!
How COVID-19 is impacting pet health
Pet obesity was already on the rise before the pandemic, with over half of all cats and dogs in the U.S. overweight or obese. This problem has intensified along with the pandemic according to a survey from Hill's Pet Nutrition, conducted in partnership with Kelton Global. One third of pet parents with an overweight pet say their pet became overweight since the start of the pandemic. Many of us are home all day, continually giving pets treats and exercising less. All of this comfort and indulgence can put your pet at risk for serious health issues. According to CBS News, common obesity-related conditions for dogs and cats include arthritis, bladder and urinary tract disease, diabetes, as well as excess stress on the heart and joints.
How can you tell if your pet is overweight?
As Dr. Wilson, a veterinarian at Concord Animal Hospital (CAH), explains, a good indicator of whether your pet might be packing some extra pounds is to take a close look at your cat or dog. “If you see their ribs, they are too skinny. If you can’t see their ribs and you can’t feel them with your hands when you rub the side of their chest, your pet may be overweight.”
How can help your pet maintain a healthy weight?
You can dramatically improve your pet’s quality of life and life expectancy—not to mention, avoid additional veterinary bills—when you help your cat or dog maintain a healthy weight.
We can help you do this in 2021! Dr. Wilson has five tips for pet owners:
Concord Animal Hospital’s 5 New Year's resolutions to keep your pet’s weight in check:
Wishing you all a very healthy and happy 2021!
According to the AVMA, a study of almost 8,000 stray pets at shelters showed that dogs with microchips were returned to their owners at twice the rate as those without microchips. The chances increase even more dramatically for cats: microchipped cats were returned to their owners almost 40% of the time compared to less than 2% of cats without microchips. When microchipped pets weren't returned to their owners, it was often due to missing or incorrect owner information in the microchip registry database – it's critical to keep your information updated for microchips to work.
Does CAH recommend microchipping patients? Absolutely! A microchip is a safe and cost-effective way to dramatically increase the chances of recovering your pet. Most countries also require a microchip for jet-setting pets - check the USDA website and contact our office for questions about microchipping and other requirements for international pet travel.
How is a microchip implanted? A microchip is a small electronic chip about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted under the skin with a hypodermic needle. "Despite being given with a larger needle, chip implantation is similar to giving your pet a vaccine and can be done during a routine visit to your vet," says Dr. Stephen Wilson. No anesthesia or surgery is required, though implantation can be done while your pet is under anesthesia for a spay, neuter, dental or other procedure.
Is a microchip safe? Yes! Implantation is about as painful as a typical injection and adverse reactions to implanted microchips are extremely rare. A microchip can be implanted during a routine vet appointment.
How does a microchip work? Microchips are activated by a scanner's radio waves - there is no battery in the microchip. A veterinarian or shelter employee will scan your pet for a microchip. If a chip is found, the chip manufacturer is contacted with the chip ID number and they will reach out to you - your information is not provided to the person who found your pet! If your contact information is missing or incorrect, your chances of getting your pet take a nose dive, so make sure to keep your information current with your microchip manufacturer!
What are the limitations of a microchip? A microchip should not replace an identification tag. Typically, lost pets are found within a few hours by a good Samaritan or local dog officer and an ID tag is a quick and easy way for someone to coordinate the return of your little wanderer. A microchip doesn't replace a rabies tag, which is necessary for your pet's safety and required by Uncle Sam. A microchip is also not a tracking device - the chip is only activated when a veterinarian or other professional scans your pet.
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New data indicates that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can infect cats, though it still doesn’t appear to infect dogs. It’s still unclear whether cats can spread the virus to people, so we urge caution but not alarm.
With the first case of an animal in the US testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, pet owners are understandably concerned. Two days ago a tiger in a zoo in New York City was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. Outside of the US there have been a handful of reported SARS-CoV-2 positive pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists two dogs in Hong Kong, one cat in Hong Kong, and one cat in Belgium that have also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 in Dogs and Other Animals
Data continues to indicate that dogs aren’t really susceptible to the infection. The same goes for pigs, chickens, and ducks, all included in the study published in Nature. However Ferrets are highly susceptible to COVID-19.
Keeping pets safe
We urge an abundance of caution to protect pets. If you are ill with COVD-19, restrict contact with your pet and have another member of the household feed and care for your pet if possible. The US Center for Disease Control advises that if “you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.” Don’t share bedding or any dishes, towels, drinking glasses with other people or pets in your home.
While we urge caution, there isn’t any reason a pet would need to leave a home where someone is infected with COVID-19 unless no one in the home will be able to care for the pet appropriately.
It’s a good idea to have a two-weeks supply of your pet’s food and medicines in case you are diagnosed with COVID-19, are quarantined or are self-isolating and can’t leave your home.
Please continue to reach out with questions and concerns. We are open and here for you and your pet!
Need to pick up your heartworm or flea & tick preventatives?
Stop by to pick up at CAH or try ordering from our online store!
These pests are tougher than you think!
Concord Animal Hospital’s team of veterinarians gets questions about CBD and pets almost every day – here’s their take CBD and your pet.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a product of both the cannabis and hemp plants. It is only legal when it is derived from hemp – any product for sale containing CBD should not be derived from cannabis. CBD does not have psychoactive properties. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component of cannabis, or marijuana.
What research has been done on CBD and pets?
Not enough! “At this point there are very few published results that determine benefits of CBD for pets or how it interacts with other medications or supplements,” notes Dr. McCullough. “Not only have benefits not been confirmed by the research, but proper dosing and CBD toxicity levels have not been defined.”
There is anecdotal evidence that CBD may have benefits for pets. These claimed benefits include reducing inflammation, stimulating appetite, reducing anxiety, and controlling seizures. There are studies underway and all in the veterinary community eagerly await the results.
Pet due for a visit? Book an appointment today!
What is Concord Animal Hospital’s stance on CBD?
Our team of veterinarians suspects that there CBD does have health benefits for pets. However, there are significant knowledge gaps in the science, safety, and quality of CBD for pets. Until there are published studies on the safety and efficacy of CBD and standardized dosing, we do not recommend that our clients administer CBD products to their pets.
Though we don’t recommend CBD products, we want our clients to be open with us about CBD products that they are administering to their pets and to feel that they can ask us questions about CBD. We’ll discuss CBD for your pet to the best of our knowledge. We’re your partner in your pet’s healthcare and want you to feel that you can be transparent with us!
KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP - WHEN IN DOUBT JUST GIVE US A CALL!
Call us at 978-369-3503 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you
have any questions or concerns about your pet's health - we're always happy to help!
All of us at CAH wish you and your family, including the furry ones, a very safe and happy holiday!
Thanksgiving is a time for indulgence and overeating for many of us, but don't let the excess extend to your four-legged family members. It’s for their own safety!
Want to give your pet a special treat during the holidays? Instead of sharing your meal, the Animal Rescue League of Boston recommends traditional treats that are safe for dogs and cats or something special like a food puzzle or an interactive toy like a peanut butter filled Kong. Dr. Stephen Wilson of Concord Animal Hospital notes that “in moderation, a small piece of lean turkey meat or some chopped carrots are reasonably safe treats for those doe-eyed dogs.”
If you have any concerns about something your pet has eaten, call us at 978-369-3505. If our office is closed, call the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661 or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. A fee may apply for calling these or other poison control hotlines.
We wish you and your family (including the pets!) a safe & happy Thanksgiving!
CAH’s own Dr. Stephen Wilson explains what Massachusetts dog and cat owners need to know about the risk of EEE to our pets now that this virus has arrived in our community.
What about other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other parasites?
Learn more about heartworm and other illness that can be transmitted to our pets by fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
Concord Animal Hospital’s tips to help keep your older cat happy & healthy
A cat is considered a senior once they’re 10 years old, but don’t fear senior status! Age isn’t a disease and your senior kitty could have many more years ahead of them. We have many healthy feline patients living into their 20’s. The oldest cat on record lived to be 38!
The needs of your cat change as they age but we’re here to help keep your cat happy and healthy. Follow these five tips and, as always, never be afraid to reach out with questions or concerns.
Regular veterinary care and great care at home can give your senior cat many more years with you and your family. As always, call 978-369-3503 or email us at email@example.com. No question is silly or concern too small. We’re so proud to partner with you on the healthcare of your super senior!
Concord Animal Hospital slices through the hype
Americans are increasingly concerned with where their food comes from and achieving the right nutritional balance for a longer, happier and healthier life. And of course, that includes finding the best food for their furry family members!
In an effort to improve their pets’ health, many pet moms and dads are turning to alternative diets such as grain-free pet food. And they're willing to spend big money to make sure their pet is getting the best! According to the New York Times, grain free diets accounted for nearly $2.8 billion in 2017, up from $1 billion in 2011. Owners are looking for the very best for their pets and many are replacing grains such as corn, rice and wheat traditionally found in dog food with alternatives such as chickpeas, lentils and sweet potatoes.
The most at-risk population for malmourishment are growing pets, such as puppies and kittens, cautions Dr. McCullough. "It's critical to discuss your young pet's nutritional needs before trying alternative diets."
Wild dogs only live three-to-five-years due to malnutrition, parasites, and a myriad of other diseases and maladies from which we diligently protect our pets. Their lifestyle and lifespan isn’t what should aspire to for our pets!" says Dr. Rhea McCullough, CAH veterinarian.
Veterinarians Urge Caution
In some cases, such as pets with a grain allergy, a grain-free diet is the right choice. But according to CAH veterinarian Dr. McCullough, “for the vast majority of dogs, grains are part of a balanced diet. Far more dogs are allergic to specific proteins than to grain, so very few dogs need to be on a grain-free diet. A veterinarian should be the one to diagnose a grain sensitivity or allergy and work with you on the right nutrition plan"
The veterinary community is beginning to see negative effects of grain-free diets among house pets. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issues several reports warning pet owners of reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils and other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients. DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle that leads to an enlarged heart and can result in congestive heart failure. DCM, which can be severe and even fatal, used to mostly impact breeds genetically prone to the disease, such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands and Irish Wolfhounds.
Concerning to the veterinary community is that many recent cases reported to the FDA include breeds not typically at risk for DCM, including Golden and Labrador Retrievers, a Shih Tzu, Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds. In many of these cases, dogs were fed diets that included potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas or lentils. It is not yet know whether the increase in these alternative ingredients is driving the new DCM cases or if it’s the absence of grain, but the FDA is looking into the cause and we have our ears pricked up.
"This is heart-breaking for us, since we know pet owners are only trying to do what’s best for their pets,” says Dr. McCullough. "Many of these grain-free foods are quite expensive but a higher price doesn't guarantee higher quality. Unfortunately some companies are capitalizing are capitalizing on the grain-free trend. Pet food isn't regulated, so they're able to sell grain-free food with little to no research on benefits to or impact on your pet's health."
Your pet’s health and happiness depend on proper nutrition
An undernourished pet is at risk for serious health issues. Dr Lisa Freedman, veterinary nutritionist and a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University note that “in the last few years I’ve seen more cases of nutritional deficiencies due to people feeding unconventional diets, such as unbalanced home-prepared diets, raw diets, vegetarian diets, and boutique commercial pet foods.”
You can dramatically improve your pet’s quality of life and life expectancy—not to mention, avoid additional veterinary bills—when you help your cat or dog achieve the right nutritional balance. So what can you do?
We love that pet owners are willing to go the extra mile for their pets. You want what’s best for your pet and so do we. We look forward to partnering with you to channel your love and dedication into foods and care that will support a happy and healthy life for your pet!
With a rainy spring behind us, we’re pumped for warm weather! At Concord Animal Hospital, we know that means it’s time to prepare our clients with pet health and safety advice apropos to the coming hazy, hot, and humid season.
What Is the Biggest Warm Weather Danger for Pets?
As the thermometer starts to climb, the biggest danger posed by the warm weather for pets is hyperthermia, or heat stroke.
Activities you might normally do at other times of year--an exuberant session at the dog park with an active pup, taking a longer walk than usual with an older or overweight pet, or leaving your four-legged friend in your car while you do a few quick errands--can put them at serious risk for heat stroke.
What Are the Risks of Heat Stroke for Your Pet?
Damage from heat stroke can range from impacted eyes or GI tract, to brain damage and death.
Dogs considered at higher risk for heat stroke include:
Time is of the essence and mortality rates in dogs with heat stroke are a lot lower when their owners cool them before they arrive at the hospital."
How Can You Help a Pet with Heat Stroke?
With the risk of heat stroke especially in dogs on the rise, Concord Animal Hospital’s Katherine Wilson sat down with Dr. Caleb Murphy, Emergency Clinician at BluePearl Specialty Hospital in Waltham to get his suggestions for first aid steps you can take to save your dog’s life.
BluePearl is a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital and one of the emergency hospitals we suggest to our patients for urgent medical assistance when our office is closed.
Katherine: Can you describe what happens to a pet suffering from heat stroke?
Dr. Murphy: Heat stroke, also called hyperthermia, is a failure to regulate the body’s temperature. A pet suffering from heat stroke is having an inflammatory response which leads to multi-organ dysfunction.
This overheating can be a result of the pet’s own activity or metabolism or heat gained from the environment, such as on a hot day or in a warm car.
Katherine: How does hyperthermia effect a dog?
Dr. Murphy: Dogs lose 70% of their body heat through the skin. But when the air temperature is higher than their body temperature, dogs also lose heat through evaporation from their respiratory tract via panting.
If they are suffering from hyperthermia, your dog will begin panting excessively to maximize heat loss. Internally, blood will increasingly circulate to the skin at the cost of blood flow to the internal organs, which has the potential to cause long term damage.
Katherine: What can a dog owner do if they think their dog is suffering from hyperthermia?
Dr. Murphy: A lot! Time is of the essence and mortality rates in dogs with heat stroke are a lot lower when their owners cool them before they arrive at the hospital.
In one study, mortality rates were 50% in dogs in the total sample, but 100% of dogs that were cooled by their owners before being admitted to the hospital and brought in to a hospital within 90 minutes of exposure survived.*
If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you need to get to your veterinarian immediately.
Before you go, wet the dog with cold water with a hose or in a bath or sink. I advise against putting wet towels on the dog, because the towels will quickly become warm and prevent the transfer of heat away from the dog’s body. If you have ice packs, place them in your dog’s armpits and around the belly after placing your dog in the car.
Turn the air conditioner on high or roll down the windows and call the vet to let them know you’re coming in while you are on the way.
Stay Safe in the Heat
When the sun is shining, we all want to enjoy the warm weather with our pets! By making seasonal adjustments to our activities, we can help prevent overheating and heat stroke in our pets.
Doing things such as always bringing a water bottle and putting out fresh water for your pet, avoiding walks during the hottest times of day, and leaving your pet at home and not in your car when you go out to shop will go a long way to keeping your pet safe.
And if your dog exhibits any of the symptoms of heat stroke noted above:
Special thanks to Dr. Murphy and BluePearl for contributing to our efforts to keep our patients happy and healthy!
*Heat Stroke in Dogs, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine. 2006.
What Kind of Ticks Are in Our Area?
There are three main types of ticks in the Concord, Massachusetts area:
How Can I Keep My Dog Safe from Tick-Borne Diseases?
Our veterinarians at Concord Animal Hospital strongly recommend using tick preventatives such as Bravecto or Simparica. Some clients double-up with a chewable preventative and a repellent collar. Talk to one of our veterinarians to determine the best product for your pet given their health history, potential exposure to ticks and lifestyle. Use your preventative all year long!
Please use a tick preventative year-round!
Frost and freezing temps DO NOT kill ticks. Ticks are dormant but come back to life in only 40 degrees - a high often achieved even in the coldest months. Our veterinarians see plenty of dogs with tick-borne illnesses throughout the winter.
Our vets also suggest taking added precautions such keeping your dogs out of long grass or and away from undergrowth. These areas are where dogs like to sniff and explore, but they are also prime hangouts for ticks.
After a walk, the American Kennel Association recommends checking some spot you might forget to look, such as inside ears and between toes, just to make sure your pet didn’t bring any ticks home with them.
Keep a running list of questions on ticks and any
other concerns to ask during your next vet visit!
What Do I Do If I Find a Tick on My Dog?
If you find a tick on your dog, 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 the following symptoms*:
Concord Animal Hospital is here to help you determine if your pet needs immediate medical care
It's often hard to know when your pet really needs to be seen by a vet when there isn't a clear physical injury. When in doubt, always give us a call at 978-369-3503, WE'RE HERE TO HELP!
In some situations, your pet needs immediate attention. Always call if you're concerned, but call (don't email) right away for the following situations:
Concord Animal Hospital’s 5-step guide and video to brushing your dog or cat’s teeth
February is pet oral health month, so we're bringing back a video we made showing how you (yes, you!) can brush your pet's teeth! Oral health is just as important for our pets as it is for us. Pets can get plaque, tartar, gingivitis and other periodontal diseases too.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, “diseases of the oral cavity, if left untreated, are often painful and can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease.”
At Concord Animal Hospital, we frequently hear from pet parents that they have never brushed their pet’s teeth because they don’t know how.
We’re here to help! To get started, follow five simple steps and watch our instructional video.
STEP 1: Make a plan
Identify a place in the house or yard where your dog or cat will feel calm and relaxed. Pick a time of day that you can set aside 5-10 minutes on a regular basis. Dr. McCullough, a veterinarian at Concord Animal Hospital (CAH), recommends you brush your pet’s teeth every day, though every other day is the minimum to keep plaque from becoming tartar.
STEP 2: Get your ducks (and dogs and cats) in a row
What you’ll need:
Some pets take to tooth brushing immediately. Others, especially cats (surprise!), may need more time to ease into full tooth brushing. Work your way up to brushing over a week or two and keep all sessions short – 1-2 minutes will suffice.
Dr. McCullough suggests owners get their pets comfortable by…
STEP 5: Start brushing those choppers: Gently place a toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your pet’s teeth and brush along the gum line in a circular motion.
You can either tuck the toothbrush into their mouth or gently push their lips back so the teeth are visible. You don’t have to worry about the inside of the mouth, the tongue takes good care of removing plaque from the inside-facing sides of the teeth, so focus on the outside.
End the session with a reward – a favorite treat or a lot of attention.
In the beginning a little bit of bleeding may occur. If the bleeding is heavy, stop and try to brush again more gently in a day or two.
WHEN TO TALK TO YOUR VET
If the bleeding continues after gently brushing three times, call us at 978-369-3503 to make an appointment to check your pet’s teeth as this may be a sign of dental disease.
Dr. McCullough also recommends talking to your vet about the right frequency of dental cleanings for your pet and asking for help if your pet isn’t taking to tooth brushing. “Different brushing techniques or drinking water additives might be great options for you and your pet.”
VET TIP: In addition to brushing teeth regularly, encouraging pets to chew rubber toys or large rawhides is also great for teeth. "The trick with any dental treat or chew toy is to get them chewing for a while," says Dr. McCullough. "If they swallow them in two bites then we're not getting the teeth clean. Toys that can be stuffed with treats are a good way to get dogs to chew for longer. Avoid hard bones, antlers and hard plastics that can fracture teeth."
HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR PET’S ORAL HEALTH? Make an appointment with your veterinarian at Concord Animal Hospital at 978-369-3503.
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Concord Animal Hospital's 5 Tips to Keep Your Pet Healthy This Winter