February 12th, 2013

Dr. Michael P. McTigue, Dr. Brian C. Hurley and the rest of the Gardner Animal Care Center team are pleased to welcome you to their hospital blog. This fun and fact-filled blog is updated regularly and includes up-to-date information about your pet’s health care. Also included in the blog are fun, pet-related news stories that we want to share with you and photos and information about our hospital and staff members.

We invite you to check our blog often.

Thank you for visiting.

– The veterinary team at Gardner Animal Care Center

Certain Dog Breeds are Prone to Cancer

November 16th, 2015

Golden Retrievers have long been the poster breed for family pets. Friendly, obedient, and intelligent, Goldens are ranked as the third most popular dog breed by the American Kennel Club. Although you wouldn’t suspect it from their care-free demeanor and smiling faces, the breed is plagued by a devastating predisposition to cancer. Approximately 60% of Golden Retrievers will develop cancer, a number more than double the average of all other breeds.

While Goldens in the United States are most likely to develop hemangiosarcoma, those from the United Kingdom are more prone to lymphoma. The cause is both genetic and environmental, but researchers are still unsure exactly which genes are involved. Cancer is the leading cause of death in all but 11 purebred dog breeds.

Additional Breeds Prone to Cancer

  • Great Danes – Prone to short lifespans, dogs of this breed are most likely to die from cancer.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs – Also a breed with one of the shortest average lifespans, Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to several forms of cancer. Studies have reported that half of this breed will succumb to cancer.
  • Boxers – No other breed has a higher rate of mast cell tumors, which are slow-growing and can occur at any age.
  • German Shepherds – Hemangiosarcoma is the most common form of cancer in this breed. Clinical signs are often not apparent until the internal tumor ruptures, causing extensive bleeding and collapse or death.
  • Poodles – An estimated 40% of all Standard Poodles will die from some form of cancer.
  • Rottweilers – This breed is prone to a variety of cancers, including that of the lymph nodes, bones, soft tissues, bladder, and blood vessels.
  • Cocker Spaniels – Cancer is the most common cause of death for this breed, affecting as many as 23% of Cocker Spaniels.
  • Doberman Pinschers – One of the top five breeds most prone to cancer, a leading cause of death in female Dobermans is mammary cancer.
  • Beagles – With 23% of Beagles affected by cancer, lymphoma, osteosarcoma and bladder cancer are the most common types in elderly Beagles.

The Boxer is highly prone to Mast Cell Tumors.

Signs to Recognize

Regularly checking your beloved companion for new or unusual lumps or bumps is the most proactive step you can take toward catching skin cancer as early as possible. Since early removal of a tumor is the best course of action, a doctor at Gardner Animal Care Center may recommend removing this mass or growth from your pet’s skin.

If you notice a major change in your pet’s health, eating habits or lifestyle, call Gardner Animal Care Center immediately to make an appointment. Cancer treatment is becoming more available for dogs due to advances in technology.

Other general symptoms of cancer include skin wounds that will not heal, weight loss and loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, any bleeding or discharge from any orifice, loss of energy, persistent lameness or stiffness, and difficulty breathing or going to the bathroom.

November is Pet Diabetes Month

November 9th, 2015

November is National Pet Diabetes Month, but with more than 50% of the nation’s cats and dogs overweight or obese, raising awareness of the common endocrine disease has been extended to pets – rather than just their human caretakers. It is estimated that one in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes, being the most common endocrine condition found in felines. The numbers for dogs are similar and only expected to increase.

Diabetes results when a pet’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I DM) or doesn’t process it properly (Type II DM). When your pet eats, carbohydrates found in his or her food are converted into simple sugars, one of which is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines and travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin typically helps turn the glucose into fuel. However, when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose can’t even enter the cells to be converted into energy and instead just builds up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats & Dogs

• Lethargy

• Excessive Thirst

• Frequent Urination

• Always Hungry, Yet Maintains or Loses Weight

• Thinning, dry, and dull coats in cats

• Cloudy Eyes, in dogs

At-Risk Pets

• Those with genetic predispositions

• Those with other insulin-related disorders

• Those who are obese &/or physically inactive

• Dogs who are between 4- to 14-years-old

• Unspayed/intact female dogs are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes

• Dog breeds with greater risk for development: Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Pomeranians, terriers, and Toy Poodles

Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed so that symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely. If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, the veterinarians at Gardner Animal Care Center will decide which treatment options are best. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle, with or without daily insulin injections, can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have diabetes, call the hospital today. Veterinarians are the only professionals who can accurately diagnose your pet and provide proper health management.

Diabetes can affect a pet differently over time, even if he or she has experienced a long period of stability. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the better, and the less likely you’ll incur the cost of an expensive emergency visit for diabetic complications.

Great Dane Helps Local 10-year-old Find Her Footing

November 5th, 2015

A special bond between a Woburn, Massachusetts girl and her 131-pound Great Dane is making national news. Bella Burton, an energetic and talkative 10-year-old, suffers from Morquio Syndrome and up until recently relied on a variety of crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs for mobility. Now, she simply leans on her dog George.

Bella’s rare inherited birth defect occurs in only one of every 200,000 births. The progressive disease is caused by the body’s inability to break down sugar chains, known as glycosaminoglycans, into more basic molecules. The condition affects a child’s appearance, organ function and physical abilities.

“It attacks her healthy bone growth,” her mother Rachel said in a WCVB-TV interview. “So that’s why she’s short-statured.”

Bella has been fighting against Morquio Syndrome since she was two. She has had nine major surgeries on her hips, knees, and feet, and began showing major improvements after receiving enzyme transfusions last June. She has shown even more progress since she met George.

“I had wheelchairs, walkers, Canadian crutches, regular crutches, and then we got George and I dropped my crutches and started to use him,” Bella said.

George was trained as a service dog at Service Dog Project, Inc. in Ipswich, MA and moved in with Bella and her family in January. Now, he goes with her everywhere – even to school. Bella now walks to school on her own (with George) and can play outside and at the gym without the use of crutches. Bella leans on George to navigate her school’s hallways and make trips to the bathroom. While she’s learning, he rests patiently.

“He knows what to do,” Bella said. “He knows where all my classes are.”

Service Dog Project has donated more than 100 Great Danes to individuals with severe balance and mobility limitations. Once paired, the dogs learn the unique needs of their new handlers and are trained to meet those needs.

“Bella’s walking gait and stamina have improved as a result, and she is greatly enjoying her independence,” the project states on their website.

George has been chosen as the top service dog in the country for 2015 by the American Kennel Club’s Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE). In addition to their television appearances, “Bella and George” can be found on Facebook. The page showcases pictures of their adventures together and provides updates on the young girl’s progress.

Worried about Pet Food Recalls? Check this Website

October 20th, 2015

Pet food recalls are often in the news, and feeding your pet food that has been recalled can lead to serious health problems. Thankfully, the American Veterinary Medical Association (better known as the AMVA) now has an up-to-date website listing all active pet food recalls. You can view recalls from the last 365 days on the AVMA’s website.

The most recent recall listed on the site is K-9 Kraving Chicken Patties. A batch shipped between July 13th and 17th, 2015 in Maryland may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is a non-profit that advocates for veterinarians. The group represents over 86,500 veterinarians throughout the United States.

Rabies is Still a Threat

October 2nd, 2015

September 28th was World Rabies Day, an international event established by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to raise awareness of the deadly virus. The theme for 2015 is “End Rabies Together.” With this in mind, it’s the perfect time to take a few minutes to educate yourself about rabies prevention and treatment.

World Rabies Awareness Day

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through exposure to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal, and is nearly always fatal without proper treatment. Rabies kills over 55,000 people per year; at least half those are children under the age of 15 who are unaware of the risks of rabies. In 95% of human rabies cases, the cause is a bite or a scratch from an infected dog.

Symptoms of Rabies

Rabies is not always visible to the naked eye. However, the following symptoms are common in infected animals:

  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Unprovoked aggressive behavior or overly friendly behavior
  • Foaming at the mouth

Rabies Prevention

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control recommends that all mammals in frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated, but especially dogs, cats, and ferrets. Additionally, vaccinations should always be kept up to date to ensure their usefulness. Call Gardner Animal Care Center if you are not sure about the vaccination status of your pet.

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, the Alliance recommends that pet owners feed and water their pets indoors, as even empty bowls can attract wildlife. Garbage should be securely covered, as the smell from an open garbage can attracts stray animals. Wild animals should never be kept as pets, and should never be approached, even if they appear friendly.


If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal that is unknown to you, you may have been exposed to rabies. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Once symptoms of rabies appear, survival is very rare.

If your pet is bitten by an unvaccinated animal, consult your veterinarian or local animal official immediately.

More Information about Rabies

For more information on rabies, visit the C.D.C website http://www.cdc.gov/rabies or the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website at www.rabiesalliance.org.

Most Popular Dog Breeds

September 25th, 2015

Dogs occupy a larger place than ever in our society in recent years. They’re not just pets – they’re real members of our families. People have come to cherish a wide variety of these four-legged friends. Depending on your personality, physical environment and time commitment, one of the breeds listed below would most likely make a great pet.

If you would like to discuss the ideal dog for you or your family, please stop by Gardner Animal Care Center and speak to a staff member. We’re here to help with these tough decisions.

According to the American Kennel Club, the 10 breeds below topped the ranks in 2014.

1. Labrador Retriever – Labrador Retrievers, or simply Labradors or Labs, are frequently described as devoted, obedient, outgoing, gentle, agile and intelligent. Great with children and eager to please, it’s no surprise these dogs came out on top for the 24th consecutive year.

2. German Shepherd Dog – German Shepherds are working dogs, originally bred for herding sheep. They are known for being strong, intelligent, obedient, loyal and easy to train. While they are a common choice for law enforcement and the military, they also make great family pets.

3. Golden Retriever – Golden Retrievers are the loyal, strong and sometimes overly enthusiastic good buddies of the dog world. These energetic, affectionate canines shower their families with endless nuzzles, kisses and tail wags, and make very emotionally rewarding pets.

4. Bulldog – This breed is gentle, kid-friendly, affectionate, and stubborn. Bulldogs are not the energetic equals of Golden Retrievers or Labs. Instead, they favor brief walks and long periods of rest – most preferably with their heads on a beloved human’s lap – between meals.

5. Beagle – Beagles are members of the hound group and possess a great sense of smell and tracking instinct. Happy, outgoing, loving but also inquisitive and determined, these small and hardy dogs make great family pets.

6. Yorkshire Terrier – Yorkshire Terriers are the most popular toy breed in the US. Attention seeking, intelligent and independent, with a propensity for yapping, they are great for apartment dwellers and families with older children.

7. Poodle – Poodles have an unmistakably distinct appearance that makes them stand out from other dogs. They’re elegant, active and very intelligent. There are three types of poodles, Standard, Miniature and Toy, and all are considered to be affectionate family pets.

8. Boxer – Boxers are medium-sized dogs that are happy, loyal, brave, high-spirited, playful, intelligent and energetic. This breed is an excellent watchdog, is a great family pet and benefits greatly from dominant owner and training starting at a young age.

9. French Bulldog – French Bulldogs have a distinct look, too – but they’re a little more funny looking than other dogs. They’re adorable, too, and it’s no mystery why these affectionate small dogs, with their easy-going and playful natures, have won people’s hearts. French Bulldogs enjoy lavishing love on their human companions and generally get along well with everyone, including children.

10. Rottweiler – Often used as search and rescue dogs, guide dogs for the blind, and guard dogs or police dogs, Rottweilers also make great companion pets. Known for being exceptionally intelligent and strong, they are also devoted, good-natured, obedient and fearless. Properly bred and socialized Rottweilers are playful, gentle, and loving to their families.

When deciding to welcome a canine companion into your home, it’s important to consider where you live, your family, your existing pets and your lifestyle. Choosing a pet with the temperament, energy level and size that complement each of these factors is a vital part of making sure your life together is a long and happy one! Remember, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need help in choosing the best dog for your family.

How Well Do You Know Our Presidents’ Dogs?

September 11th, 2015

Question 1:
What president had a dog who pulled off the French Ambassador’s pants at a White House event?
Ulysses S. Grant
Teddy Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson

Question 2:
What assassinated president had a dog who was murdered?
Abraham Lincoln
William McKinley
John F. Kennedy

Question 3:
What Cold War-era president housed four “pupniks” after his dog had a Soviet romance?
John F. Kennedy
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter

Question 4:
What president supposedly ordered a destroyer to retrace its route when he learned his dog had been left behind?
Harry S. Truman
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Question 5:
What president caused an outcry when he picked up his beagle pups by the ears?
Theodore Roosevelt
Herbert Hoover
Lyndon B. Johnson

Question 6:
What president had a spaniel whose dog house was decorated with framed political photographs?
John F. Kennedy
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush

Question 7:
What president said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”?
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Bill Clinton

Question 8:
What president claimed his dog Checkers was the only campaign gift he ever accepted?
Calvin Coolidge
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Richard Nixon

Question 9:
What president had 36 dogs, but would not let his slaves keep dogs?
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson

Question 10:
What president had a dog who sat in his own hand-carved chair during cabinet meetings?
James Buchanan
Rutherford B. Hayes
Warren Harding

Please check back in a few weeks for the answers

Study Says 57% of Cats and 52% of Dogs Are Obese

September 8th, 2015

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has revealed that pet obesity rates has held steady in the past year, with 57.6% of cats and 52.6% of dogs recorded as overweight or obese, despite efforts by the Association to spread awareness of the dangers of pet obesity. Pet obesity, like obesity in humans, can lead to osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint injury, cancer and decreased life expectancy.

Overweight Dogs

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention also found most owners of overweight pets do not realize their pet is considered overweight. 93% of dog owners and 88% of cat owners believed their overweight pets were in the normal weight range. “There’s an entire nation of pet owners who are loving their pets to death with too many calories and not enough exercise,” said Joe Bartges, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist and internist. “They are in the dark that their pets are overweight and that a host of diseases can arise as a result.”

Canine Influenza Update

September 1st, 2015

The Canine Influenza outbreak that started in Chicago has now spread to 13 states. The strain of the virus, H3N2, originated in Asia in 2007 and has sickened over 1000 dogs in the Chicago area alone. Eight dogs have died from either the virus itself or secondary infections. Alabama, California, Georgia, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa and Indiana have all reported instances of Canine Influenza.

Canine Influenza’s symptoms are similar to the flu that humans get, and include cough, runny nose, and fever. However, the disease cannot be spread to humans. Because the virus is highly contagious between dogs, pet owners in affected areas should avoid dog parks.

A vaccination is available for dogs in high-risk areas. The vaccine has been shown to control the spread and minimize the impact of Canine Influenza infection and has been proven safe in more than 7 million dogs. Two doses of the vaccine are necessary to develop an effective immune response. However, since the vaccine is developed for the H3N8 strain, protection against the current outbreak H3N2 strain is unknown.

Please call Gardner Animal Care Center for more information about Canine Influenza.

Million Cat Challenge Has Saved 250,000 Cats So Far

September 1st, 2015

A campaign to reduce euthanasia in cat shelters has surpassed expectations, saving a quarter-million cats in its first year. The campaign helps shelters implement programs to reduce the number of cats coming into shelters, prevent feline disease and suffering, and promote adoption. The program aims to save one million cats by 2019.

“We knew how hungry animal shelters are to save cats’ lives, so we designed the Challenge to give them the tools they needed to do it,” said Kate Hurley, DVM in an interview with Veterinary Practice News. “Through their creativity, ingenuity, and determination, they’ve gotten us to a quarter million lives saved sooner than we ever expected.”

The program is a joint venture of the University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program. So far, 263 shelters have signed up to participate in the challenge.