Archive for the ‘Pet Safety’ Category

Feeding Bones is an Expensive Gamble!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Bones 8 326 245No matter if it’s a brand new puppy or a senior citizen dog, pet owners love to spoil their canine friends with bones.  After all, what’s more natural than a dog with a bone?  But veterinarians warn that feeding bones is a gamble that could end up creating a very unnatural veterinary bill!

We have all seen the cartoons and commercials depicting dogs burying bones and stashing them away for later.  Unfortunately, most pet owners are completely unaware of the significant risks and problems that are associated with feeding these treats.  The situation has gotten so bad that even the FDA has warned consumers to avoid giving bones to their dogs.

Advocates of raw pet foods and other so-called “natural diets” claim that, given properly, bones are a great way to clean your pet’s teeth and provide an instinctive means of stress relief. Some even state that bones provide important nutrients and should be included in your pet’s daily routine.

So, is it okay to give a dog a bone?


Veterinary Technicians-Trusted Partners for Your Pet’s Care

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

We all know that your pet’s doctor will often ask one of his or her staff members to either help restrain a pet or maybe prepare a specific medication.  But these helpers are often involved in a lot more than you may realize.  From preparing laboratory samples to taking x-rays to communicating treatment plans with clients, veterinary technicians and assistants have carved out essential roles in modern animal hospitals.

The team at the Gardner Animal Care Center would like to congratulate our very own certified veterinary technician, Christy Boris.  This past weekend, the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association named Christy Technician of the Year. We are proud of her for receiving this very deserving award!!

Anyone who has read James Herriot’s immortal novels about veterinary practice knows that much of the work he did with animals and pets he did by himself.  The owners in the stories were either unable or unwilling to help and having any sort of assistant was reserved for extreme situations, like a difficult calving.


Do Generic Flea Products Meet Your Pet’s Needs

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

For almost two decades, safe, effective flea medications from your veterinarian have helped
pet owners battle these blood-sucking parasites.  Now, several “generic” flea medications are flooding the market, showing up in big box stores and grocery stores across the country.  Will these cheaper medications help more pets or do they have the potential for failure?

For a long time, flea control consisted of harsh products that were related to nerve gases of World War I.  Many of these carbamates and organophosphates worked well at killing fleas, but unfortunately, they weren’t very safe for pets and had the potential for severe toxicity. Then, about fifteen years ago, modern chemistry helped give us safer topical flea treatments.  Because fleas, ticks and other parasites are medical problems that need educated medical recommendations, the companies producing the new products chose to sell these flea medications only through veterinarians.

Fast forward to present day and you can find many flea products both over the counter (OTC) and through veterinary or “ethical” channels.  Annual sales of flea and tick medications exceed $1 billion and there are many companies eager to get their share of the pie.

Recently, the compound, fipronil became available for generic use.  The original patent holder, Merial, produces an excellent flea product (Frontline®) that was the main choice of veterinarians for many years.  Now, no less than 15 “generic” fipronil flea products will be offered in the OTC markets.

What does this mean for you and your pets? Can you feel comfortable with generic flea medications?


Your Dog Ate What??

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Most pet owners aren’t too concerned when their pets gobble down some grass, try to eat a bone or even grab the wrapper from a candy bar.  But, when their tastes turn to gravel and rocks or even plastic toys, you might have a serious problem! Every year, we do exploratory surgeries to remove a wide variety of foreign bodies. Why do our pets try to eat such weird stuff?

Every year, a leading veterinary trade magazine has a contest reviewing the weird things pets across the country have eaten.  And, every year, thousands of veterinarians submit their x-rays to Veterinary Practice News wondering if their patient will win the grand prize honor of having swallowed the most unusual object!

Entries to this contest range from mundane objects like rocks to dangerous items including knives, needles or fish hooks.  And, it’s not unusual to see more bizarre things.  In recent contests, submissions have included a dog that ate a $25,000 diamond ring, a snake that swallowed two light bulbs and a Samoyed who had everything from eight batteries and rocks to broken light bulbs, toys and machine parts in his stomach!

Thankfully, alert owners and skilled veterinarians are often able to retrieve these objects before any lasting harm is done.  But, the bigger question is this:  Why do our pets eat these weird things in the first place?


Holiday Precautions For Our Pets

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The Gardner Animal Care Center Team would like to take this opportunity to wish your family and pets a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving.  This week marks the start of the holiday season.  My daughter and I could not believe we were listening to Christmas music on the way to school.  The last thing any pet owner wants to do on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year is to rush their pet to the animal emergency room!  But, the truth is that many pets are injured or poisoned during these holidays.  How can you make sure your holiday doesn’t end in disaster?

I know many of you may remember this article from last year.  However, I thought it would serve as an important reminder to all of us about the risks this time of year poses for our pets.

During the holidays, most animal related ER visits are due to eating something inappropriate.  Some foods cause an upset stomach, some are poisonous, and some can cause life-threatening obstructions.  Research has shown that 60% of us will share our holiday meal with our pets, but you should follow a few basic guidelines.

A small amount of white turkey is an acceptable treat but definitely avoid the turkey skin and the turkey bones!  The skin is often fatty and can cause the pets to develop pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pet’s pancreas.  Poultry bones, especially cooked, have the potential to both break off and cause a perforation of the digestive tract, or if large amounts are consumed could cause an obstruction.

Other foods to avoid for their potential to cause severe illness or even toxic reactions include:  grapes and raisins, alcohol, excessively salty foods, foods flavored with onion or garlic powder, desserts and sweets containing Xylitol, and chocolates.  Baker’s chocolate can be fatal in small amounts if ingested by our pets.

The one thing we all look forward to after our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are the leftovers.  Your leftovers should be secured behind a pet-proof door or container.  Remember to keep your trash can secure.  Many items used in the meal preparation and then thrown away can be dangerous.  A turkey string, foil wrappers, etc may smell like food and be eaten by a curious pet.

What would the holidays be without the decorations?  My family takes rides through the neighborhoods every year to see the lights.  While these decorations are beautiful, our pets admire them too.  Decorative plants are a source of danger.  Mistletoe and holly can cause vomiting and lilies are often deadly to cats.  Poinsettias, despite their reputation, are not deadly and often cause little more than a mild stomach upset.

Houses with Christmas trees are another great source of danger for our pets.  Common decorations that attract our pets include ornaments, ribbons and tinsel.  These are especially attractive and hazardous to cats.  Watch the nicely wrapped presents to ensure your pet doesn’t try to peek.  In opening the gift, they may ingest the ribbon or bows.  Keep an eye on the electrical cords to insure puppies and kittens don’t chew on them.

Families look forward to the holidays because of the family gatherings.  In some instances, it might be best to keep pets confined if they are overly anxious.  Also, monitor people going in and out your doors.  Pets might take advantage and try to escape.  The holiday season is cold and pet’s, like us, need to be careful in frigid weather.  In our area, snow creates a visual barrier and drivers may not see a pet in time to stop, especially if the roads are icy or slippery with fresh fallen snow.

The holiday season is a happy time for families, friends and our pets.  With preparation, our pets can stay safe and enjoy the holidays with us.  Keep you veterinarian’s phone number and the emergency 24 hour facility numbers handy in case of an emergency.  A quick call to either of them can give you life-saving advice or even help you avoid a trip to the ER.

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.  Enjoy the festivities and parties that happen during this time of year.  Your pets will be excited and will definitely play a role in these celebrations.   Be sure to visit our Pet Health Library at to see important animal health articles and to stay up to date on the latest news.

Serious Scams Hurt People and Their Pets

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Veterinarians have years of medical education to insure that animal patients receive proper healthcare, including nutrition and behavioral advice. Doctors of Veterinary Medicine are also highly regulated by state government for your protection.  So, with experts like these, why do we see an increasing number of unlicensed and unsupervised non-veterinarians performing veterinary medical services?  Even more importantly, why are existing laws not enforced?

The ad read “Ear Trims – Any dog, any breed – $25”.  Most pet owners knew to stay away, but some were intrigued by the low cost and called.  On the day of their pet’s “surgery”, the owners were told they needed to sign ownership of their pet over to the individual doing the ear trim.  It was only then that they found out that the man operating on their dogs was not a veterinarian!

Illegal scams like this are not uncommon and we see more of it during hard economic times.  Some unscrupulous people, with no medical training, violate state laws to make a buck, but sadly, states simply cannot go after all of them. 


Protecting Ourselves, And Our Pets, From A Killer!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

World Rabies Day was celebrated on September 28th. This is celebrated each year to remind us of how important it is to take precautions to protect your pets and you.

As more and more people question the need to vaccinate their pets against infectious diseases, veterinarians are increasingly concerned about the resurgence of a killer. Thankfully, rabies is rare here in North America, but a reservoir of the disease is present in our wildlife. What’s the chance of your pet encountering a rabid animal?

It’s a scenario that happens all too often as urban sprawl encounters rural farmland and wooded areas. You hear aggressive barking and maybe a high-pitched “yip” or two. Looking out your window, you see your beloved dog in an all out battle with a raccoon! After breaking up the fight, your mind races as you check your dog for wounds and wonder about the chance of rabies.


Pets Can Cause Housefires

Friday, July 9th, 2010

July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day!!  It is estimated that over 500,000 pets are injured or die during housefires each year.  Approximately 900 housefires are due to pets in the household.  Here is the story about Lucy and what could have happened when she tried to get to some Chocolate Cake.

Top Summertime Tips for Pet Safety

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Summertime!  Finally, your chance to relax and unwind!  With your sunblock, sunglasses and a good book, you plan to enjoy the day at the pool! Suddenly, you remember your dog is in the yard – unsupervised …surely he will be okay for a couple hours.  Or will he?

Summer temperatures might be great for tan lines and boating trips, but the excessive heat and increased outdoor activities could spell disaster for your pets.  As the mercury rises, take just a few moments to insure that your pets are safe and prevent an urgent trip to the animal ER with a summertime emergency!

The most common heat related problem for pets is heat stroke.  Also known as heat stress or hyperpyrexia, heat stroke is a real emergency for dogs.  Even on moderately warm days, an excited dog might show a body temperature increase of 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since dogs don’t sweat like we do, they are unable to dissipate the excess heat and heat stroke may soon follow.


MSNBC 2010 Report: When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

MSNBC Report:  “When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price.”

Veterinarians are caring, professional people who have dedicated their lives and careers to relieving animal suffering.  As pet owners, we truly understand the power of the human-animal bond.  As you can imagine, I was surprised to read a recent report at that paints a very unflattering picture of veterinary medicine as a whole by depicting a few cases where medical mistakes caused distress to pets and their owners.

While I could spend time dictating statistics and numbers, I realize if the medical mistake occurs in your pet, the statistics are meaningless and your grief understandable.  As veterinarians, we understand the deep grief and pain felt when we our pet is injured or even lost.  We also can empathize with the anger, shock and frustration felt by pet owners.