Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Safety

“My pet would never eat food off the table!”
“My pet would never knock over the Christmas tree!”
“My pet would never bite someone!”

We all know our pets pretty well, but what we don’t always realize is that stress can make anybody do crazy things! When you have holiday guests or flashing Christmas lights or loud holiday music—or all of the above!—at your house all at once, your pet may get stressed and frustrated, causing them to act out in unexpected ways. Most pet accidents are met with the statement, “He’s never done anything like that before!”

We recommend always making sure that your pet has a safe place to sit and relax during your holidays parties. Just like some people, pets need to get away from the action and de-stress, but most of the time they don’t know how to ask for their space. If your pet is comfortable in their crate, we recommend moving it into a quiet room and letting them spend some time resting during your holiday get-togethers. Your pet will be happier, and by extension you and your guests will be happier! And holidays disasters will be prevented.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Obesity and Your Pet

Did you know that an estimated 50% of household pets are overweight, or worse, obese, for their weight class? This can be a very serious issue down the road! 

Our pets age significantly faster than we do, putting them at a greater risk of health problems over a shorter period of time. If a pet is over their ideal body weight, they have even more chance of developing health problems such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure, just to name a few. 

At Ewing Animal Hospital, we recommend that all pets be weighed regularly to ensure that they are maintaining a healthy weight range for their body type, size, and breed. (For example, a pit bull and a retriever of roughly the same size would have significantly different ideal weights because pit bulls are generally more muscular, and retrievers are known for their lean body types.)

We can provide pet weigh-ins, ideal weight recommendations, and weight management advice for pet owners who are concerned about their pet’s weight management as well as current or future health concerns. If you have questions about your pet’s weight, diet, exercise, or overall health, please don’t hesitate to ask! That’s what we’re here for.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What is a hotspot?


My dog was recently diagnosed with a "hotspot." Can you tell me more about this skin condition?



“Hotspot” is a general term used to describe the angry reaction that your pet’s skin is displaying. It may also be referred to as “acute moist dermatitis.”
Hotspots have many causes, but are usually the result of self trauma and subsequent infection that occurs as your pet tries to relieve himself from a pain or itch. An underlying allergy is most often the cause of the pain or itch. Some breeds are more prone to seasonal allergies, so you may see hotspots at the same time each year.

There are three types of allergies that may lead to hotspots:
  • Inhaled allergy (pollens, dust, molds)
  • Insect allergy (fleas, bee sting, spider bite)
  • Ingested allergy (food)
Please discuss treatment options, which may include thorough cleaning, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents, with your veterinarian.
For more information, see Library Articles Skin Problems in Pets, Allergies and Spring Allergies.

Originally published on Healthy Pet.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Make Sure They Can Get Home: Check Your Pet's Microchip

Is your pet's microchip up-to-date? If your pet were lost, would an animal hospital or shelter be able to contact you once your pet was found?

It's important to get your pet microchipped; but it's just as important to make sure that microchip contains the correct information in order for your four-legged friend to get home.

That's why the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are teaming up to encourage pet owners to update their pet's microchip information on National Check the Chip Day, Aug. 15.

Almost 9.6 million pets are euthanized every year because their owners can't be found, according to the American Humane Association. While tags and collars are important, microchipping is a valuable method because the microchip won't wear out, tear, slip off or become lost.

How does a microchip work?
The microchip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is injected by a veterinarian or veterinary technician just beneath your pet's skin in the area between the shoulder blades. This is usually done without anesthesia, and the experience can be compared to getting a vaccination.

Each microchip has a unique registration number that is entered into a database or registry, and is associated with your name and contact information. If your lost dog or cat is found by an animal hospital, shelter or humane society, they will use a microchip scanner to read the number and contact the registry to get your information.

Make sure you can be found, too
While it may be comforting to know the microchip won't get lost or damaged, and that it will probably last the pet's lifetime, the microchip is useless if you're not updating your contact information with the registry. If your pet has been microchipped, keep the documentation paperwork so you can find the contact information for the registry. If you don't have the documentation paperwork, contact the veterinarian or shelter where the chip was implanted.

Keep in mind there are more than a dozen companies that maintain databases of chip ID numbers in the U.S. By using AAHA's Universal Pet Microchip Lookup at, you can locate the registry for your chip by entering the microchip ID number. If you don't have your pet's microchip ID number, have a veterinarian scan it and give it to you.

Only about 17% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats ever find their way back to their owners. Prevent the heartache and ensure your pet has an up-to-date microchip.

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Counter Surfing and Garbage Raiding

Dogs are naturally curious and love to get into everything. Dogs also love food, especially the food they see us eat. So it’s not surprising that pet parents often have problems keeping dogs from “counter surfing” and raiding the trash. Unfortunately, once your dog has learned there’s tasty stuff to be found on kitchen counters, in cupboards and buried in garbage cans, he’s more likely to look for food in those places again. Even small dogs aren’t exempt from food stealing—there are reports of especially clever terriers learning to push chairs up to counters so that they can conquer new heights!

Prevention Is Key

The best way to ensure that your dog never gets in the habit of stealing food is to prevent him from experiencing the joys of thieving. Always put leftover foods away. Keep countertop foods in Tupperware® containers. Put pastries and breads in a bread bin and cookies in a jar. Fruits and raw vegetables are less appealing to many dogs, but it’s still worth keeping them in or on top of the refrigerator. Use trash cans with lids that dogs can’t open, or keep the can in a closed cupboard. Place wastebaskets up high so that your dog can’t reach them. If your dog has learned to open cupboard doors, install child-proof latches. Close doors or use baby gates to keep your dog out of certain areas. If you’re consistent about keeping foods inaccessible when your dog is a puppy or is new to your home, you can probably relax these restrictions later on.

Perpetually hungry dogs who ransack kitchen countertops and garbage cans for food might be easier to discourage if they have more to eat. Feed your dog several small meals a day. If your dog is on a diet, speak with your veterinarian about a high-fiber, low-calorie diet that will help your dog feel full.
Providing plenty of physical and mental exercise can also help keep your dog off the counters and out of the trash. Some dogs get into trouble purely out of boredom. If your dog is well exercised and has plenty of chew toys to keep him occupied, he’ll be less likely to get into things he shouldn’t. Please see our article Enriching Your Dog’s Life for more information about how to keep your dog happy and out of trouble when you’re not around to supervise him.

Teaching Your Dog to Stay off Counters and out of the Trash

The first step in teaching your dog that it’s unacceptable for him to get into these areas is to always react immediately when you see him jump on counters, nose around cupboard doors or nudge at the trash can. Clap your hands loudly and say “Off!” in a firm tone of voice. Then take your dog by the collar and remove him from the area. Do not do this if you suspect your dog might bite you when you grab him by the collar. Instead, please see our article Finding Professional Help to locate a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB). If you can’t find a behaviorist in your area, you can choose to employ a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but make sure that the trainer is qualified to help you. Determine whether she or he has education and experience successfully treating aggression, as this expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification.

Some dogs learn that it’s only safe to surf the counters and get into the trash if people aren’t around. If this describes your dog, you can dissuade him from getting into off-limit areas by using “environmental punishers.” Environmental punishers work by punishing your dog directly, without you present. For instance, if your dog jumps from the floor onto the kitchen counter, you can balance some lightweight cookie sheets on the edge of the counter. When he jumps up, he’ll land on the sheets. They’ll move and possibly topple over while your startled dog leaps back onto the floor. He shouldn’t be harmed by this experience, but it’s unlikely he’ll risk jumping onto the counter again.

If your dog doesn’t jump up onto the counter but instead reaches for things by placing his front feet on the counter, you can design a “pop-can pyramid.” Gather a dozen or so empty soda cans. Tie a light string to one, and position the can a few inches back from the edge of the counter or on a shelf above the counter. Build a pyramid with the cans, placing the can with the string on the bottom of the structure. Tie the other end of the string to a small piece of food that you know your dog likes. Place the food near the edge of the counter. Leave the kitchen and give your dog a chance to discover the enticing tidbit. If all goes as planned, he’ll snatch the piece of food, pulling the can from the bottom of the pyramid, and all the cans will come crashing down. If they hit your dog, the empty cans won’t harm him. Even if they don’t hit him, the falling cans will make a terrible racket and startle or scare your dog. You can also use the pop-can pyramid to teach him to stay out of the garbage can.

Commercially available deterrent devices perform a similar function. The Snappy Trainer is a large plastic paddle affixed to an upside-down mousetrap. Any touch causes the mousetrap to trigger. When triggered, the large paddle propels the device into the air, makes a loud snapping noise and startles the dog who touched it. The Snappy Trainer is safe to use because the trap is upside down, so no part of your dog’s body can be caught in it. Snappy Trainers are most effective if you set up two or three and place a sheet of newspaper on top of them. When your dog touches the newspaper, it triggers the traps simultaneously. Snappy Trainers are good for use on countertops and tables and inside cupboards and trash cans.

Another deterrent, called SSSCAT, is a motion-activated system that triggers a blast of compressed air when a dog comes within a certain distance of it. You can position the SSSCAT in areas where you don’t want your dog to go, such as the corner where you keep the trash can or on the kitchen counter. Another possibility is to cover the surface of the countertop or the floor next to the trash can with a ScatMat®, a sheet of plastic that delivers a mild static charge when a dog steps on it. Because they’re not as startling to dogs as the Snappy Trainer, the Scccat and ScatMat may need to be left in place for a long period of time to work. The pop-can pyramid and the Snappy Trainer usually teach dogs to stay away after just one or two experiences.

The advantage to using an environmental punisher is that the scary thing happens whether you’re present or not. Your dog won’t learn to simply wait until it’s safe (until you’re not around) to do things like jump up onto counters and dive into trash cans. Instead, he’ll discover that it’s never safe to do those things. Plus, since you won’t always be there when your dog gets punished, your dog won’t associate an environmental punisher with you. You don’t want him to decide that you’re the scary thing!

What NOT to Do

  • Do not scold or punish your dog if you discover that he’s already eaten stolen food. Unless you actually catch your dog in the act of stealing the food, it’s pointless to punish him. He won’t understand what you’re punishing him for. More likely, he’ll learn to be frightened of you.
  • Do not shoo or push your dog off of countertops and tables. He could fall and injure himself. Always pick him up and put him on the floor, or tell him to get off and let him jump down himself.
  • Do not use any device to scare your dog away from forbidden areas if there’s a chance he could be physically harmed by the device. For instance, do not substitute real mouse traps for the Snappy Trainer. The goal of an environmental punisher is to make your dog reluctant to return to a particular place by startling him or making the place uncomfortable for him. Physically hurting your dog is neither necessary nor effective.
  • Do not resort to a muzzle to control your dog’s thieving behavior. Muzzles restrict a dog’s breathing and prevent him from drinking water, so only use them for short periods of time when you can closely supervise your dog.
  • Do not use environmental punishers to keep your dog away from a certain area if he’s especially skittish and nervous. He could become so frightened that he‘ll be reluctant to enter the room at all or even move around your home.

Originally published by the

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Safety Tips

Hot weather can make us all uncomfortable, and it poses special risks for your dog. Keep the following safety concerns in mind as the temperature rises, and follow our tips to keep your dog cool.

Heat Hazards

If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child's wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.

Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun's heat is less intense.

Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog's paws.

Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Japanese Chins, and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.
General Health

Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, especially since dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.

Keep dogs off of lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers.

Keep your dog well-brushed and clean.

Fleas and ticks, and the mosquitos which carry heartworm disease, are more prevalent in warmer months. 

Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog. The AKC Pet Healthcare Plan can help with the cost of providing quality healthcare, including preventive medicine, throughout your dog's life.
Beach Tips

Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of fresh water.

Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog's exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.

Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions. Dogs are easy targets for sea lice and jellyfish.

Running on the sand is strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog's activity.

Do not let your dog drink seawater; the salt will make him sick.

Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog's coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day.

Not all beaches permit dogs; check local ordinances before heading out.

Water Safety

Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog's preferences and skills before trying to make him swim.

If you're swimming for the first time with your dog, start in shallow water and coax him in by calling his name. Encourage him with toys or treats. Or, let him follow another experienced dog he is friendly with.

Never throw your dog into the water.

If your dog begins to paddle with his front legs, lift his hind legs and help him float. He should quickly catch on and keep his back end up.

Don't let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly.
If swimming at the ocean, be careful of strong tides.

If you have your own pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladder are located. Be sure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs have been known to slip in under openings in the covers and drown.

Never leave your dog unattended in water.


By Air – Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening. Check with your airlines for specific rules.

If you do ship a dog, put icepacks or an ice blanket in the dog's crate. (Two-liter soft drink bottles filled with water and frozen work well.) Provide a container of fresh water, as well as a container of frozen water that will thaw over the course of the trip.

By Car – Keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated.

Put a sunshade on your car windows.

Bring along fresh water and a bowl, and a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you stop. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your dog to cool him down.

By RV – A dog's safety should not depend on the air conditioning and generator systems in an RV or motor home. These devices can malfunction, with tragic results.

If you leave your dog in an RV with the generator running, check it often or have a neighbor monitor it. Some manufacturers have devices that will notify you if the generator should malfunction.

Never leave an RV or motor home completely shut up, even if the generator and AC are running. Crack a window or door or run the exhaust fan.

Never, ever leave a dog unattended in a vehicle in the summer months. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.


Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog's prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are the signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your dog is overcome.

Early Stages:
  • Heavy panting.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.
Advanced Stages:
  • White or blue gums.
  • Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
  • Uncontrollable urination or defecation.
  • Labored, noisy breathing.
  • Shock. 
If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down:
  • Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
  • Apply ice packs to the groin area.
  • Hose down with water.
  • Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
  • Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.
Check your dog's temperature regularly during this process. Once the dog's temperature has stabilized at between 100 to 102 degrees, you can stop the cool-down process.

If you cannot get the dog cooled down and you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Article originally published by the AKC.