Dealing with Pet Loss During Holidays

The loss of a beloved pet is never easy, but it can be made more challenging during the holidays. With the “holly jolly” songs, fast paced frenzy, and obligations, grief can feel contradictory to the merriment of the season.  But there are ways to be true to your emotions and make the holidays a time for you to honor your pet, remember the wonderful memories, and find meaning and comfort.

Your friends at Fairview Veterinary Hospital understand the emotions that come with losing a pet companion. It’s especially important to have good supports in place and healthy ways to appreciate the memories, and create new ones, too.

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The Good Wait: Veterinary Hospital Lobby Etiquette

A black and white dog on her owner's lap sitting next to a cat, wearing an Elizabethan collar, in a pet carrier show proper veterinary lobby etiquette

During a busy day, the veterinary hospital lobby here at Fairview can be hectic. Pets are being checked in for their annual exams, ill pets are here waiting for treatment, and tensions can sometimes run high in all of this. It’s safe to say, there is no “usual” day at a clinic.

One thing we do know is that good lobby etiquette among pet owners and staff make an enormous difference in keeping things smooth and relaxed. Good manners even helps our small patients, especially those in pain or dealing with chronic conditions. Here are some things to keep in mind in practicing great hospital lobby etiquette.

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Fairview Veterinary Hospital Reflects on the Top 5 Pet Care Blogs of 2018

Urgent Care

The bedrock of any successful business is, of course, the people. Without the friendly, caring, and compassionate folks that keep us going strong each day, our medical expertise and years of experience wouldn’t have as much impact.

Indeed, our team strives each day to help animals in our ever-growing community. We are rewarded tenfold for our efforts with enthusiastic tail wags, face licks, purrs, and head bumps. To the pet owners of Erie, Pennsylvania, we thank you for allowing us the privilege of caring for your companion.

We also want to thank you for reading our pet care blogs. Each month, we discuss topics and address common questions facing many pet owners. From dispelling myths to raising awareness, our pet care blogs are meant to help and inform readers.

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What to Think About Before Giving a Pet to Someone You Love

Giving a pet as a gift is not the best strategy, consider adopting later in the year, instead

Giving a pet as a holiday gift can be a sweet gesture, but this type of generosity can create unforeseen challenges. For instance, unless the gift giver plans on daily involvement and long-term pet care, it’s a lot to ask for someone to instantly take on the demands of pet ownership – even if they’ve dropped hints that they’d love one for the holidays.

There are great alternatives to this common (but not always successful) practice, and we’re here to support the causes of adoption, fostering and donating during the most wonderful time of the year.

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Hospital-Quality Spays and Neuters

Q: Why do we  Spay~Neuter pets?  When is the best time to do the surgery?  

A: • Pets Spayed~Neutered before 6 months of age are typically better behaved and less likely to run away.

• Pets Spayed~Neutered before 6 months of age cannot add to pet over-population.

• Pets Spayed~Neutered before 6 months of age have dramatically lower risk of reproductive cancers.

    • Pets that are Spayed~Neutered cannot develop ovarian cancer (girls) or testicular cancer (boys)
    • Girl pets that are spayed before their first heat cycle have a 95% reduced risk of breast cancer
    • Boy pets that are neutered before 6 months of age have nearly zero risk of prostate cancer
    • Pets that are Spayed~Neutered have dramatically lowered risk of reproductive infection.
      • The risk of uterine infection (pyometra) is eliminated in girl pets that have their uterus removed
      • The risk of prostate infection is nearly eliminated in boy pets that are neutered
      • Girl pets that are Spayed will not go through repeated heat cycles which can be messy (dogs) and behaviorally distruptive (cats)

• Boy pets that are Neutered are less likely to exhibit humping (dogs) and urine spraying (cats)

• For Giant Breed Dogs Dr. Scott will discuss the Pros/Cons of sterilization at 12-14 months of age 

Q: Why is our Low Cost Spay~Neuter Safer than a Shelter?

A:  We believe in Safety First ~ Always!  We typically perform only 2 to 3 surgeries per day. Each of our patients has their own steam sterilized instrument pack. We have Hospital Grade Biosecurity. Your pet has a dedicated recovery assistant. And your pet is cared for by Dr. Scott and our experienced pet care team that you already know and trust!  

Unlike Shelters,  we do not perform assembly line surgery…we do not use cold liquid cleaned instruments… your pet is not alone during recovery…we do not have volunteers assisting in surgery or recovery.  In three words: Safety First ~ Always!

Q: When is my pet’s Spay~Neuter the lowest cost possible?

A:  The most affordable time to have your pet Spayed~Neutered is when they are under 6 months of age.        

Q: Why does Spay~Neuter surgery increase in cost after 6 months of age?

A:  After 6 months of age a pet goes through puberty and has anatomic changes that increase surgical complexity. Plus risk factors of infectious disease and illness occur after 6 months of age. Thus, for your pet’s safety, we perform additional age-appropriate tests before your pet’s surgery.  Save money by having your pet Spayed~Neutered before 6 months of age!

Much Ado About Canine Flu

Dog with mask

One of the more exciting, yet challenging, aspects of veterinary medicine is that nothing stays the same. Things are always changing, whether it be the introduction of a promising pharmaceutical to the market, the publication of a study that sends us in a new direction, or the emergence of a previously unknown disease.

While canine influenza isn’t exactly new, it has recently come into focus as a significant disease process in our pets. In fact, canine flu is quite the buzzword in many dog-loving circles. So, what do you need to know?

Fairview Veterinary Hospital is here to tell you everything you need to know, in order to take care of your pets, and canine flu is no exception.

The Facts About Canine Flu

In the human world, we have had quite a flu season this winter. When it comes to the flu, there are many virus strains and they tend to be species-specific. This means that your dog won’t catch the flu from you and vice versa. Unfortunately, though, canine flu is still something to worry about.

We are aware of two strains of canine influenza in the United States. The first, H3N8, made its rounds through greyhound racing kennels in Florida in 2004. Significant outbreaks occurred within kennel situations, but the risk was still relatively low until 2015, when the H3N2 strain of canine flu made a major impact in many parts of the country.

Since 2015, the canine flu has continued to be an issue for many dogs. Canine influenza causes a respiratory infection that is spread through nasal secretions of infected dogs. The symptoms often resemble those of kennel cough, including:

  • Fever

  • Coughing

  • Runny nose

  • Runny eyes

  • Decreased appetite

Thankfully, most healthy dogs are able to clear the infection, but there have been fatalities associated with the disease. The very young, very old, and otherwise immunocompromised are at high risk of serious complications.

Protecting Your Pet

While the increasing incidence of canine flu can be scary, it doesn’t mean that your pup can’t go about their daily activities. It does mean that you should take some extra precautions, especially if you have a social pet.

Social pets are those who frequent areas that other pets have stayed in. These include dogs who board, get groomed, go to doggy daycare, or spend time at dog parks. All of these places are potential hotbeds of infection.

If your pet is at high risk of exposure, be sure to:

Ask about vaccination – There is now a vaccine available that protects against both strains of canine influenza. When first receiving the vaccine, it requires a follow up booster in 3-4 weeks and then is administered annually. Please call us to ask if think your pet is a good candidate for this vaccine.

Keep it clean – Good hygiene and sanitation is very important. Don’t allow your pet to share toys or bowls with unfamiliar dogs. Be sure to change clothes and wash your hands before interacting with your pet if you have been around other pets, since infected particles can survive on objects.

Assess the risk – If your pet is very young, geriatric, or has a condition that interferes with normal immune function, you may want to reassess if social activities are worth the risk. Perhaps a pet sitter would be a good alternative to boarding.

Of course, it is also important to have your pet examined right away if you feel they are sick. Although we cannot cure the flu, we can make sure that your pet isn’t showing signs of complications, such as dehydration or pneumonia, that can have serious consequences. Allowing us to step in early can help to avoid a pet emergency.

By taking some extra precautions and vaccinating your pet, you have nothing to fear. We are here to help you keep your pet healthy, and intend to do so to the best of our ability.

Keep Smiling! Pet Dental Wellness

Dog with toothbrush

Dog sits with toothbrush in bathroom sink – Jack Russell Terrier

Does your pet have a great smile? Most of us think so! Even with that wonderful smile, our pets can have dental problems that we can’t see, but sometimes we can smell them. Bad breath is a common sign that there is a problem brewing in your pet’s mouth.

Pet dental wellness is an important component of your pet’s overall preventive care program. Working together, Fairview Veterinary Hospital can tailor an at-home dental care program, coupled with annual professional cleanings, that will keep your pet healthy and feeling their best.

Periodontal Disease Basics

What’s all the fuss about? Well, simply put, it has been reported that 85% of all pets have some form of dental disease by the time they are 4 years old. Periodontal disease can cause bad breath, bleeding and infected gums, and tooth loss. It can even increase the likelihood of diseases of the heart, kidneys, and liver. Luckily, dental disease, although common, is preventable.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque forms on the teeth and causes inflammation of the gums, both above and below the gum line. Eventually, plaque hardens into tartar and bacteria can cause infection and affect the tooth structures, such as the root and the bone beneath.

Pet Dental Wellness

Pet dental wellness begins with a dental exam at your pet’s wellness visit. We’ll look into your pet’s mouth and grade their teeth, which gives a measurable score to the level of dental disease, if seen. We’ll show you what your pet’s teeth and gums look like and what concerns us.

Next, a professional dental cleaning may be recommended. Using the safest anesthesia possible, we will evaluate the entire mouth and all the structures, including teeth and gums. Each tooth will be examined and x-rays will be taken of any problem areas. You’ll be contacted with any significant findings that require treatment, such as tooth extraction, which is normally reserved for very diseased or broken teeth that are beyond repair.

Next, your pet’s teeth will be cleaned, both above and below the gum line. It’s crucial to clean below the gum line, since much of the plaque and bacteria collect there. Your pet’s teeth will then be polished to help prevent further plaque from collecting.

Your Part in Pet Dental Wellness

After your pet’s dental cleaning, it’s your turn at home! We can help you implement a tooth brushing routine that works to prevent dental problems in the future. It’s really not as hard to do as it sounds!

We may also recommend a dental diet, dental chews, or a water additive to further enhance your pet’s dental wellness plan at home. Each pet is an individual, so these recommendations will depend largely on your pet’s dental health, as well as their overall health, and what can be most beneficial to them.

Have more questions about pet dental wellness, at-home care, or a professional cleaning? Call us to schedule an appointment. We’re looking forward to helping you enjoy your pet’s great smile and to also ensure true dental wellness for a lifetime!

Tipping the Scales: Protecting Overweight Pets From Obesity

Overweight cat

With the holidays behind us (how did that happen so fast?), many people are looking ahead to 2018. Maybe we want to eat better, exercise more, or just become more fit overall. As we think about our own health, why not take your pet’s weight and health into account, as well? There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to take stock.

Is My Pet Overweight?

Did you know that over 50% of pets in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese? This is true for both dogs and cats. We might think it’s no big deal, and some of us might even think our pudgy friends are cuddlier that way. In reality, however, overweight pets are at a greater risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. On the other hand, pets who reach and maintain a healthy weight reduce their risk of illness and injury, lead longer lives, and have better overall health.

So, how do you know if you have an overweight pet? Your veterinarian can assess your pet’s weight and overall health and make recommendations regarding weight, diet, and exercise. More than a simple number on a scale, a healthy weight is about body composition, breed, age, and general health. In our office, we can teach you how to determine your pet’s body condition by observing their shape and feeling certain parts of their body, which is a great tool in determining if your pet is at a healthy weight.

I Have an Overweight Pet – Now What?

Not to worry. First, this is not a reflection on you or your ability to care for your pet! A weight loss recommendation is just your veterinarian’s commitment to your pet’s good health. At Fairview Veterinary Hospital, we’ve put together a few ideas to keep your pet on the path to a healthy weight:

All in the family — Make a commitment as a family to your pet’s weight loss. A weight loss program won’t work if one or more family members are sneaking food to your pet! Those sad begging eyes can be tough to resist (we know!), but try to keep focused on your pet’s overall health to dissuade people from giving extra treats and meals.

The best quality diet —  Talk to us about your pet’s individual needs. We can help you choose a quality diet that meets your pet’s nutritional needs.

Measuring every meal — What you don’t measure, you can’t manage! We can determine exactly how much to feed your pet and provide you with a measuring cup to make sure your pet stays on track.

Regular exercise — Try a new activity with your pet! Swimming, hiking, or a fast game of laser pointer tag can be great exercise, both physically and mentally. Exercising together can also be a great way to bond with your pet.

Treating them well — Most of us love sharing treats with our pets as a way to express our love. However, all those extra calories can quickly derail weight loss efforts for your pet. Instead, try unseasoned fresh or cooked veggies and fruits like carrots, green beans, or apples.

Checking progress — Once a goal is set for your pet’s weight loss, it’s important to monitor and record your pet’s progress. Like any weight loss program, there will be wins and missteps. Together, we can ensure your pet stays on track and can help you make any necessary adjustments along the way.

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is an effective way to give your pet a healthier, longer life. Having some fun along the way is an added bonus! If you’d like to share any ideas for healthy pet weight loss or if you’d like additional help, please give us a call.

Cold Weather Check Up: Tips for Cold Weather Pet Safety

Snowboarder with a dog

As the temperature in our area starts to dip, we’re all gearing up for the long winter months ahead. Although none of us really like the ice, snow, and chilly rain, these conditions can also pose some unique challenges and safety concerns for your pet.

Thankfully, with a few cold weather pet safety tips from your friends at Fairview Veterinary Hospital, you can keep your furry pal safe this season.

Get cozy — Dogs and cats do have fur, but even those with long hair are not equipped to be outdoors in the cold for long periods of time. Exposed skin on nose, paw pads, and ears are at risk for frostbite during extreme cold snaps. Keep your pets cozy and safe indoors most of the time, and provide a soft bed or warm spot for them in the house. If you have a puppy, kitten, or short-haired pet, consider providing them with a fleece, sweater, or coat to help maintain body heat.

Exercise — Winter weather can make most of us exercise less, and our pets are no exception. However, it’s still important to get them out for regular walks and/or playtime so they don’t gain unnecessary weight. Just keep your outings short – you may also want to protect your dog with a coat or fleece when outside. To prevent kitty weight gain, make sure playtime (indoors!) is part of your routine.

Prevent poisoning — One of the most significant risks of cold weather is that your pet will pick up toxic cold weather chemicals on their paws or body while outside. Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets, and unfortunately, it seems to be rather attractive to them due to its sweet taste. Dogs are at particular risk for salt poisoning due to licking rock salt off their paws. To prevent a pet emergency, avoid puddles where chemicals can collect, and wipe paws, chest, and belly carefully to remove any residue before your pet can lick it off.

Car safety — Outdoor and feral cats are notorious for hiding out in the warm engine area of parked cars. Make sure you don’t have any stowaways before you drive off! Bang on the hood of your car, honk the horn, or raise the hood before you start your engine.

Collar and chip — Pets may become lost in the winter, as the snow and ice may mask scents that help them find their way home. Make sure your pet is protected with a well fitting collar and tags. An even better option for identification is a microchip, which can never be lost or damaged. Microchipping is your pet’s best chance for a happy reunion – just make sure the registration is kept up to date!

Be prepared — Winter brings its share of storms and power outages. Cold weather pet safety means being prepared with an emergency disaster kit. A few days of pet food, extra collar (and leash), medications, and an extra blanket for your pet is a good start.

Together, we can ensure a safe winter for your pet. If you have additional questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to discuss additional tips for cold weather pet safety.

Keep Your Days Merry And Bright With Holiday Pet Safety

Holidays with pets

Halloween has come and gone and inevitably our thoughts are beginning to turn to the winter holidays ahead – and their promises of feasts, family, and fun. Our four-legged family members surely sense the excitement in the air, but it’s easy to overlook the need for a little extra TLC where pets concerned. Before you start decking the halls and planning your menu, take a look at our holiday pet safety reminders.

Holiday Pet Safety In The Kitchen

High-calorie indulgences are an important part of the holidays, but keep in mind that many of our favorite goodies can be harmful to pets.

Never leave the following out for your pet to get their paws on:

  • Chocolate

  • Xylitol sweetened candies or baked goods

  • Onions/garlic

  • Alcohol

  • Grapes/raisins

  • Fatty poultry skin or meat

If you know or suspect your pet has gotten into something they shouldn’t have, please give us a call or call the ASPCA Poison Helpline.

Decoration Don’ts

Traditional holiday decorations can be irresistible temptations for pets, and can cause plenty of trouble for them (and you) as well. Keep the following in mind when it comes to all of the holiday bells and whistles:

  • Tinsel, ribbon, wrapping paper, glass ornaments, and electrical string lights can land a curious pet in hot water

  • Trees are often sprayed with pesticides or chemical preservatives, which can leach into the water in the tree stand

  • Pine needles can cause significant gastrointestinal distress if eaten

  • Your pet may open holiday gifts before you do if you don’t keep them out of reach

  • Holiday plants such as mistletoe, amaryllis, poinsettia, christmas cactus, and lilies can be toxic to pets if eaten

The Wonderful World Of Pet Anxiety

Enjoying time with family and friends is a wonderful part of the holiday season, and for a social pet this influx of people is no biggie. Shy or anxious pets, however, may feel differently about new people in the home, and a change in the daily routine.

Strive to keep your pet’s feeding, walk, and playtime schedule as close to normal as possible during the holidays, and make sure they get plenty of exercise each day to help reduce stress and anxiety. A doggie daycare, pet sitter, or even a few hours in a quiet room of the house can do wonders for a pet that has trouble with visitors.

Weather Warnings

Pennsylvania weather is notoriously unpredictable during the winter, and storms and other inclement weather can come on fast. Make sure you have a plan in place for your family and pet in case of power outages or severe storms, and make sure pets stay safe during the winter months by keeping them indoors as much as possible or providing warm and dry shelter outdoors.

Your friends at Fairview Veterinary Hospital wish you, your family, and your pet a wonderful holiday season! As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with your concerns regarding holiday pet safety, or with any other questions you may have.