Have a Safe Holiday Season with Your Pet

Holiday Pet Safety Tips in New York, NY

During the holiday season, there are so many dangers our pets may encounter, but if a few extra precautions are taken, you can keep your best friend safe. The team at St. Marks Veterinary Hospital wants to help you make sure that everyone in your family is safe and happy all season long.

Top 5 Most Common Holiday Dangers for Pets

These are some of the most common dangers that the St. Marks Veterinary Hospital team often sees at our animal hospital during the holiday season:

  • While we can handle having a few drinks in celebration of the season, our pets cannot. It’s important to always keep alcoholic beverages out your of your pet’s reach to ensure that they’re safe from the danger of alcohol poisoning.
  • Christmas trees. It isn’t the holiday season without a festive tree! However, these lovely decorations can also cause a few hazards in the home. Christmas trees can be knocked over by overly adventurous and curious pets, causing damage to the home and injury to the animals!
  • Electrical cords. Does your best friend like to chew? The sight of all those new cords under the tree may be too appealing for your pet, so we recommend disguising and hiding electrical cords to prevent your pet’s curiosity. It’s also important that they never be left unattended around the decorations!
  • Holiday meals and sweets. You hear all year round that there are foods your pet should never consume, but during the holiday season we have so much more of those dangerous foods around the house! Traditional holiday meals contain so many of those dangers, like poultry bones, onions, garlic, grapes, and more. In addition, we often do a lot of baking during the holidays, introducing our pets to even more potential dangers with chocolate, sugar, macadamia nuts, raisins, and more. Keep those foods and treats out of your pet’s reach at all times!
  • Poinsettias and other holiday plants. For some odd reason, the most popular plants to bring inside the home at the holidays are toxic to your pet! Poinsettias, amaryllis, and lilies of all kinds are dangerous and we recommend keeping them out of your pet’s reach at all times so that your pet doesn’t have access to the leaves or berries that may fall off. You may also want to consider purchasing silk flowers for the look of the festive plant without the dangers.

If you have any questions about your pet’s safety and well-being this holiday season, please contact our team at St. Marks Veterinary Hospital. That’s what we’re here for! Have a happy and safe holiday with your pet this year.

Dental Disease: The Silent Killer

Cat and Dog Dental Disease

There is nothing pretty about pet dental disease, and unfortunately more than 70% of all pets have some form of it by the time they are only 3 years of age! Some of the negative results of this silent killer are:

  • Pain while eating
  • Tooth loss
  • Bad breath
  • The development of other diseases because of toxins seeping into the bloodstream
  • …and more

How to Offset Dental Disease for Your Pet

Offsetting dental disease can be done in a number of ways, the most important of which is professional veterinary dental care. When your pet comes in for their regular, annual check-ups, our dental team will examine their oral cavity to determine whether a professional dental cleaning is necessary for their care.

If a dental cleaning is recommended, our veterinary team will perform this procedure under anesthesia at a prescheduled time separate from your pet’s annual physical. During this procedure, your pet’s teeth with be scaled to remove tartar and plaque buildup, cleaned, and polished. Any diseased teeth may need to be extracted if they can’t be saved. Your pet will be safely monitored under anesthesia as they would be during any surgical procedure.

Continued Dental Care

After your pet’s professional dental, at-home dental care is important to keep their teeth from developing more tartar and plaque buildup. We can recommend a number of dental products for keeping your pet’s teeth clean. Please talk with our team today about the importance of proper preventive care for your pet’s oral health.

Canine Influenza Outbreak 2015

Several pet owners have recently inquired about reports of an outbreak of canine influenza virus  in the Midwest.  This new strain of canine influenza A, H3N2, has been isolated from infected dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.  H3N2 was originally found in dogs from southern China and South Korea and is thought to have made its way into the United States by the import of dogs into the Midwest.  A dog infected with the virus may be asymptomatic or show signs of fever, anorexia, lethargy, nasal discharge, and coughing that may persist up to three weeks.  More severe cases may progress to pneumonia and, in some cases, death.  At this time, no cases have been identified in New York State.

 Transmission occurs from dog to dog, and, as with other strains of influenza, poses a higher risk in areas where dogs congregate, such as kennels, shelters, doggie day care, and dog runs.  The onset of clinical signs occur within 2-3 days after infection, with a peak in viral shedding in 3-4 days post-exposure. The virus in not transmissible to humans but cats, ferrets and possibly guinea pigs, may become infected.

 The H3N2 virus is distinct from the H3N8 canine influenza virus originally identified in 2004, for which there is an available vaccine.  At this time, it is not known whether the vaccine developed for H3N8 virus confers protection to dogs exposed to the H3N2 strain.  Dogs at higher risk, such as dogs that routinely go to dog parks or boarding, may benefit from being vaccinated.

 Please contact your veterinarian if your dog has a cough, is at a higher risk of exposure, or if you plan to travel with your dog to the Midwest. Contact us today with any questions you may have.

Scents and Sensitivity: Dogs Know When We’re Happy or Angry

Science is proving what pet owners have long believed: Dogs understand what we’re feeling. Specifically, dogs can recognize the difference between a happy and an angry human face, a study published Thursday in Current Biology suggests.

It’s the first research to show definitively that dogs are sensitive to our facial expressions, says coauthor Ludwig Huber, head of comparative cognition at Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

In the Austrian study, 20 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes were taught to play a computer game through a series of exercises. In the first, the dogs were shown two touch screens, one with a circle and one with a square. Through trial and error, they learned that a treat would appear if they chose the right geometrical figure.

Eleven of the 20 dogs were able to catch on to rules of the game and make it to the next phase, where they were shown photos of faces. Half the dogs were rewarded for picking a happy expression and half for choosing an angry expression. The interesting catch: the dogs were shown only the upper half or the lower half of a face.

It was easier to teach the dogs to choose a happy expression than an angry one, suggesting the dogs do indeed understand the meaning behind the expression, Huber says.

As a test, the dogs were then were presented with:

the same half of the faces they saw during the training, but from different people
the other half of the faces used in training
the other half of new faces
the left half of the faces used in training
In the vast majority of cases the dogs chose the right answer 70 to 100 percent of the time.

Dogs who had been trained to recognize an expression of anger or happiness on the upper part of a face could identify the same expression when shown only the lower part, and vice versa, Huber says, adding “the only possible explanation is that they recall from memory of everyday life how a whole human face looks when happy or angry.”

Dog owners know their pets not only recognize emotions but also feel empathy.

Delilah, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, always seems to know when her owner Eva Shure is having a bad day.
Delilah knows when her owner is having a bad day.
Making eye contact and cocking her head to the right, the little dog will stare at Shure’s face as if trying to assess her feelings. “It’s weird, I can see her thinking and processing,” says Shure, a 35-year-old New York City business owner. “I’ll say, yeah, it’s not a great day and she’ll come up and sit next to me.”

Beverly Levreault, 57, says her 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix is always tuned in to her moods. “If I’m not feeling well, like when I have the flu, Lacey is definitely lower key and will not leave my side, ” says Levreault, a graphic designer from Williamstown, New York. “If I take her for a walk, she’s not as rambunctious as she usually is.”

Lynette Whiteman says she’s not sure that her 5-year-old Yorkie-Maltese cross is using facial expressions to gauge how she feels. “But she definitely reads my emotions,” says the 58-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey. “I run a therapy dog program and the dogs are just amazing. They go into a room and immediately pick out the person who needs help.”

Behavioral experts say the new findings, while important, wouldn’t surprise anyone with an intimate knowledge of dogs.
Coco and Lynettte
“This new work continues to build the case for just how sensitive dogs are to our subtle behaviors,” says Dr. Brian Hare, chief scientific officer at Dognition and an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. “This is the strongest evidence yet that dogs are even reading our facial expressions.”

That sensitivity may be the result of generations of selective breeding for a true partner, says Dr. Carlo Siracusa, director of the behavior service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “We have selected animals that are able to perceive our emotions and communicate with us at a level that no other animal can,” Siracusa says.

Dogs may not talk, but they are very good communicators, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and director of the animal behavior clinic at Cummings.

“Just as we are masters of the spoken word, dogs are experts at reading body language,” Dodman says.

“It’s almost impossible to hide your feelings from a dog.”

Turns out, reading facial expressions isn’t the only thing dogs have in common with us.

They can be bitten by the computer gaming bug. “They can really become freaks for it,” Huber says with a chuckle. “They don’t want to stop playing. It’s incredible. They’ll play till they are exhausted and fall asleep.”


Source: http://www.today.com/pets/dogs-know-when-were-happy-or-angry-2D80489190


The Dangers of Pet Obesity

As a small animal veterinarian, a regular part of my day is having conversations with owners about what they feed their animals, and the best way to monitor and control the body condition of their pets, especially identifying underweight or overweight pets. Imagine my horror when I recently recognized what should have been obvious to me: my own dogs were starting to look, well, chubby! How had it come to this?

By now, everyone knows that obesity, in both people and animals, occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. You or me, or you dog or cat, eat more calories than are burned and excess weight results. But because dogs and cats do not feed themselves, we as their caretakers need to accept responsibility for the body condition of our beloved friends. I, who should know better, allowed my dogs to get fat!

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What is the Extent of Dog Obesity Worldwide?

An estimated 20-40% of dogs and cats worldwide are overweight or obese. Certain breeds may be predisposed, such as the West Highland Terrier, Beagle, Dachshund, and Labrador retriever, among others. Obesity is more common in female dogs and neutered dogs of both sexes. The incidence of obesity rises as dogs grow older, and, interestingly, as the age of the human owner increases. From my own experience, I suspect a large number of animals become obese from the confused cultural notion that “love equals food.”

My two mixed-breed dogs, one a Pug Beagle mix (Puggle) and the other a Chihuahua mix with suspiciously short legs, are not only disadvantaged by their breeds, neuter status, and advancing ages, but also by the fact that their Mom (me) is a softy who all too often dotes on them in the form of dog cookies!

The Dangers of Pet Obesity

As a vet, I know that obesity is the most common nutrition-related disease in companion animals and that increases the risk of orthopedic diseases, respiratory disorders, heart disease, and hypertension in dogs. In addition to orthopedic diseases, obese cats are at greater risk for developing diabetes, liver disease, and skin issues.

I know that in one study, dogs that were placed on a calorie-restricted diet to maintain an ideal or a just-below-ideal body weight, were shown to live, on average, two years longer than overweight dogs allowed to consume unlimited calories. Certainly, I wish to enjoy the company of my own dogs for as long as possible, and I know what I have to do!

Helping Your Pet Maintain a Healthy Weight

Helping our animal friends to lose weight requires both dietary and lifestyle modifications. One of the most important components to guarantee weight loss in your animal is ensuring that every member of the family is involved in the process. Your veterinarian can help you determine the daily calorie requirement for your animal, based on his or her current weight and activity level. Depending on how much weight your animal needs to lose, your vet may recommend decreasing the amount of the regular diet as well as restricting treats, or may recommend a prescription diet that is less energy-dense but fortified with higher levels of proteins and enriched with vitamins and minerals to ensure that your pet’s nutritional requirements are met. With greater weight loss, trying to restrict calories with a regular commercial diet may result in nutritional deficiencies. Once the calorie requirement is determined, the food should be carefully measured or weighed out. On average, the number of treats fed in a day should not be greater than 10% of daily calories. Everybody involved in feeding the animals should know exactly how much to feed and who is responsible for feeding the animals at given times.

Increasing energy expenditure is another important aspect of weight loss and often benefits the owner just as well. As with humans starting an exercise program, exercise for our pets should be gradually and slowly increased in duration and intensity over time. Exercise, in the form of walks, fetching, chasing laser pointers, and hunting feather toys, not only has calorie-burning cardiovascular benefits, it also enhances and enriches an animal’s mental well-being, as well as strengthens our emotional bond with them.

Final Words on Pet Obesity Concerns

It is important to realize that weight loss is a long-term project and requires frequent monitoring and readjustment of goals. Working closely with your veterinarian as weight loss proceeds, calorie requirements may need to be fine-tuned to help continue weight loss or to maintain ideal body weight. If you are unsure whether your animal is overweight, your veterinarian should be able to help you assess the body condition of your animal and talk to you about diet and strategies to establish and maintain an ideal body weight for your own beloved pets. As for me, I will replace cookies with kisses, and work with my family to make sure our dogs stay healthy and with us for as long as possible.

If your pet is overweight and management counseling is needed, please contact our team. We will be happy to provide our advice!

Labor Day Safety Tips for Pets



1. Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals.

2. Always assign a dog guardian. No matter where you’re celebrating, be sure to assign a friend or member of the family to keep an eye on your pooch-especially if you’re not in a fenced-in yard or other secure area.

3. Made in the shade. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water, and make sure they have a shady place to escape the sun.

4. Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of paws’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing-or even kidney disease in severe cases.

5. Keep your pet on his normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea.

6. Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingesting any of these items can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression in your pets, and if inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia.

7. Never leave your dog alone in the car. Traveling with your dog means occasionally you’ll make stops in places where he’s not permitted. Be sure to rotate dog walking duties between family members, and never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle.

8. Make a safe splash. Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers.

Source: http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/labor-day-pet-safety-tips

Car Sickness In Pets

Does your dog throw up in the car when you go for rides? He may be experiencing typical motion sickness, just like some people do. Motion sickness usually begins very shortly after starting the car ride. The dog will begin to drool and then vomit. It’s not serious, but certainly not something that we like to clean up! To solve the problem, first try acclimating the dog to car rides. Do this by simply putting him in the car for a few minutes each day without going anywhere. Then try just going down the driveway and back, and the next day going around the block. Gradually build up the distance and time the dog rides in the car.


Sometimes this will help to decrease the dog’s anxiety over riding in the car and may help to decrease vomiting. If that doesn’t work, there are some over-the-counter medications you can try. The medication will need to be given about an hour before the car ride. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation as to what drug to try and the dosage for your pet.


(Never give any medications to your pet without your veterinarian’s advice!) These drugs are safe, with drowsiness usually the only major side effect. But since your dog isn’t driving the car, that shouldn’t be a problem! If over-the-counter drugs don’t work, your veterinarian may be able to suggest another method for curing the car sickness.


Source: http://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/dog_care/general_health/car_sickness.aspx


Welcome Dr. Racioppo

Meet the newest addition to our St Marks Vet family…. Dr. Maria Racioppo.



Please help us welcome her to St Marks Vet. We’re so happy she decided to join our team!