Posts Tagged: Pet Safety

Independence Day Pet Safety Tips

This Fourth of July, it’s important to be prepared for all the celebrations, and not just in terms of fireworks and food. Read on to learn more about how to keep your pets safe and happy this Independence Day. 

Before the Celebration:

        Make sure your pet has proper identification! A collar with an ID tag and accurate, up-to-date contact information is very helpful in the event that your pet accidentally escapes. Another option is to consider microchipping your pet. This is helpful if your pet’s collar comes off- if someone finds them, then they can take him/her to most shelters or veterinary hospitals and find your contact information just by scanning the microchip. An extra safety measure to help prevent a possible runaway is to make sure your yard or fencing is secure so that if your pet gets anxious or afraid and decides to make a break for it, they will at least be contained on your property. Extra Tip: Don’t change their diet! It could give your pet some unexpected tummy upset or diarrhea, and if your pet has an unknown noise anxiety, it might spell trouble later in the evening.

During the Festivities:

            If you’re having a get-together or barbecue, it is good to keep your pets away from any grills or cooking areas to prevent any mishaps with hot surfaces or charcoal. The same should be done for any beverages or human food that may be around. Make sure that if you or neighbors are setting off fireworks that your dogs are indoors and/or away from any and all fireworks, sparklers, or glow sticks. The loud noises and lights can be frightening and disorienting. It’s also a good idea to ask your guests to help out in keeping an eye are your pets as well if they will be roaming around the house. If you’re going to be heading elsewhere for a celebration, make sure you pet-sitter has the information they need to care for your pet. Especially if your pet has known anxiety with loud noises or thunderstorms, your pet sitter will need to know how to best deal with that and know how best to keep your loved-one calm and happy.

After it all Dies Down:

            After all the fun, of course, comes time to clean up! Not just for you, but for your pet as well. Make sure to get any and all food and beverage trash that might be lurking around waiting for a pet to get into. When you throw things away, also make sure that the trash is completely sealed and out of reach to your pets! If you had guests over and lit fireworks, it’s very important to go through your yard or property to properly dispose of any leftover debris. Even if you didn’t personally set off fireworks, other debris might have made its way into your yard.

Contributed by:
Teresa Mundy, Boarding Technician and Social Media Coordinator

Sources Cited:

Common Diseases You Can Catch From Your Pet

Candid portrait of a natural woman with tattoos and her german shepard mixed dogOur furry friends bring us lots of joy; we cuddle with them and treat them like family. They respond by licking our hands and face and showering us with unconditional love and attention. Close contact with our furry bundles of joy can also unknowingly cause microorganisms to be passed along to us, which can cause zoonotic diseases. A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed between animals and humans. Read on to learn about some of these common zoonotic maladies, and how to safeguard your pet and family from them.

Leptospirosis (Lepto)

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. It can lead to potentially fatal infections of the kidney, liver, brain, lung or heart. Dogs are most often affected by Lepto. They commonly become infected and develop leptospirosis from exposure to, or drinking from rivers, lakes, or streams.

Humans commonly develop leptospirosis through exposure to the urine or bodily fluids of an infected dog. It’s important that you see your veterinarian so they can recommend vaccines that can effectively protect your dog against many strains of this disease.

Click here for more information on Leptospirosis.

Hookworms & Roundworms

Hookworms can be acquired in puppies and kittens from their mother’s milk. They can then be transmitted to humans from your pet’s feces, or from contaminated soil when walking barefoot. Hookworms live in the small intestine and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and blood loss leading to anemia.

Roundworms are typically acquired by your pet when they eat the infected feces of another animal. They most commonly become transmitted to humans through the ingestion of roundworm eggs from contaminated soil in your garden or backyard.

It’s very important that puppies and kittens be de-wormed as they commonly carry hookworms and/or roundworms. If you suspect your pet has been exposed, you should drop off a stool sample at your local veterinarian for analysis.

Click here for more information on Hookworms.
Click here for more information on Roundworms.

Lyme DiseaseLyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted to humans and pets through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Blacklegged ticks are also known by the name Ixodes Scapularis, and the common name: Deer ticks. Acute Lyme disease causes fever and lethargy. While Lyme disease cannot be spread directly to you from your pet, they can bring infected ticks into your home or yard.  Protect yourself and your pet by asking your veterinarian about tick control products for your pets.

Click here for more information on Preventing Ticks on your Pet.


Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can live in the intestines of animals and humans. It is often transmitted through contaminated water and is one of the most common waterborne diseases in the United States. Common signs and symptoms in both dogs and humans include diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.

Puppies and kittens have a higher risk of illness from Giardia so it is important to not allow them to drink water from areas where other animals may have left their feces. Your veterinarian can test your pet’s feces to see if giardia is present and prescribe a safe, effective treatment for control of the disease.

Click here for more information on Giardia.

Safeguarding Measures You Can Take

Contracting a pet-borne disease requires very close contact with your pet or their excretions, so zoonotic diseases can be avoided with these common sense approaches:

  • Annual Exams! Make sure your pet gets an annual preventative exam by a licensed veterinarian, including a parasite screening test, and is current on all vaccinations.
  • Practice good tick protection! Regularly check for ticks on your pets and the humans around them and ask your veterinarian about tick control products for your pet.
  • Pick up the poop! Keep your environment free of feces. Make sure you have a clean yard and litter box at all times.
  • Cleanliness! Thoroughly wash vegetables from your garden and hands or other exposed skin that come into contact with soil frequented by pets.
  • Fresh, Clean, H20! Avoid drinking improperly treated water.

See Your Veterinarian for Testing & Safe, Effective Treatment

If you suspect that your pet is ill or may be infected take them immediately to an AAHA accredited animal hospital. While information on the internet may provide you with some ideas, only a licensed veterinarian can provide you with an accurate diagnosis.

Additional Resources:



Contributed by:
Eric Conroy, Personnel Manager

Pet Safety on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day… a time of love letters, boxes of chocolate, giant teddy bears, and… a sick pet?! It only takes one moment to turn a great day into a disaster, but we’d like to help you avoid that altogether with some quick and easy to remember Valentine’s Day Pet Safety Tips! While you’re celebrating with your better half and showing them how much you care, make sure to show your pets how much you care for them, too. Follow these easy tips and tricks to make sure everyone feels the love this Valentine’s Day.

Valentine HazardHeart Shaped Box Full of Trouble

             Chocolate is a year round hazard to pets, but on Valentine’s Day there always seems to be a lot more of it floating around. While sweet and delicious to us, chocolate contains stimulants called methylxanthines that, if ingested by your pets, will negatively affect their neurological, gastrointestinal, and cardiac function by causing vomiting, hyperactivity, seizures, diarrhea, and an atypically increased heart rate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are higher in fats which can lead to life-threatening pancreas inflammation, while dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate have some of the highest levels of methylxanthines because of the high cacao percentage.

Don’t Break my Candy Heart

            If you’re planning on getting your loved one gum, candies, or other sweet treats, make sure that they stay far from the reach of your pets!  Candy is never recommended for consumption by our four-legged friends, but it is especially an issue when those sweets contain xylitol. This sugar substitute is very dangerous and potentially fatal to pets. If ingested, xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (a sudden drop in blood sugar), which can cause your pet to suffer from seizures, depression, and loss of coordination.

Flowers Aren’t a Cat’s Best Friend

            Flowers and bouquets of all sorts are everywhere during Valentine’s Day. While not all flowers are toxic to pets, Lilies in particular are toxic to cats. They can cause kidney failure, lethargy, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you are unsure of what flowers are toxic or non-toxic- reference this handy ASPCA plant guide. Another flower that should be mentioned is the Rose. The flower itself isn’t toxic, but the spiny thorns pose a big threat. If ingested, bitten, or stepped on they can cause major infections if they break the skin.

You Got Me a What?!

            Much like on Christmas, birthdays, and other gift-giving occasions, Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect day to surprise your loved one with that dog or cat they’ve always wanted. This can be an amazing experience- for the animal and your loved one, but make sure you are both prepared for what the idea of owning a pet means. Animals are a lifelong commitment that take time, patience, money, and attention. If you do decide to get a pet for someone, drop some subtle hints beforehand and make sure that they would be fully prepared and capable of taking care of a pet. An alternative to the “surprise, take care of this animal!” is to find out if your local shelter offers gift certificates; then you can go with your better half to the shelter and pick out a pet together!

Quick Tips:

  • If you’re getting cozy by the fireplace, make sure your pet is cozy away from any flames!
  • After you’re done opening gifts, make sure you properly dispose of all bows, wrapping
    paper, ribbons, balloons and tape. Fun to look at, but not fun to ingest!

Extra: Show animals how much you love them, too!

Additional Resources:


Contributed by:
Teresa Mundy
Boarding Assistant & Social Media Coordinator

Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving for All

cateatFor most of us, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season… a
time filled with family, friends, and lots of food. While we enjoy this special time of year, we need to pay special attention to make sure our non-human family members stay safe. Some often over looked hazards are actually very easily preventable just by remembering that it’s best to keep your pet’s diet as normal as possible- no matter how tempting it is to share! The following are a few of the ASPCA’s Thanksgiving safety tips to help keep our pets happy and healthy while we feast:

Talkin’ Turkey
: If you decide to feed your pet a small bite of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer them raw or undercooked turkey which could contain salmonella bacteria. Do not give your pet the left over carcass either–the bones can be problematic for the digestive tract.


No Bread Dough: Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving them access to raw yeast bread dough. When a dog or cat ingests raw bread dough, the yeast continues to convert the sugars in the dough to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. This can result in bloated drunken pets, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring hospitalization.




Don’t Let Them Eat Cake: If you plan to make Thanksgiving desserts, be sure that your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.


A Feast Fit for a King:
 While your family enjoys a special meal, give your cat and dog a small feast of their own. Offer them some made-for-pets chew bones or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey (cooked and boneless), vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a food puzzle toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

Making sure you pet doesn’t get access to anything unhealthy from the table is important, but don’t forget about your trash! Sometimes our pets figure out that the best way to get what they want is to get it themselves… straight from the trashcan! If you know you have a trash-curious pet, make sure you keep your bin behind closed doors, or tightly sealed at all times to prevent an unwanted trip to the emergency room. Some of the most hazardous Thanksgiving items often found in the trash (and hopefully not your pet) include: the yummy string that goes around the turkey legs, discarded skin & bones, and fatty grizzle. The potential problems caused by “garbage gut” include gastroenteritis (e.g., vomiting, diarrheaabdominal pain), Pancreatitis (severe inflammation of the pancreas), a gastrointestinal obstruction, or even tremors or seizures.

We all want the best for our pets, and ensuring their health and safety this Thanksgiving will give us something to be thankful for all year long.  For more information and helpful tips from the ASPCA, visit Thanksgiving Safety Tips.


For additional resources visit:

Thanksgiving Safety Tips:

Information about Symptoms:

lindsBlog written by:

Lindsey Vance, Client Care Specialist with her dog Hazel



Heatstroke Takes Its Toll on Pets in Just Minutes

Dog in Hot Car“I’ll only be a minute” while I run into the store. “I’ll leave the car windows cracked . . . ”

These are easy rationalizations to make when we take our pets out in hot weather, but now that temperatures in our area are routinely above 80 degrees, it’s important to remember how susceptible our pets are to overheating. We’ve all heard stories about pets that perished because an owner mistakenly thought it was OK to leave a pet in the car, leave them outside in the yard, or take them for a jog on a hot day. Really the best thing to do is not take your dog or cat out on a hot day. It’s certainly not enjoyable for them, so why risk it?

Normal body temperature in dogs and cats typically runs between 99 and 102, several degrees higher than the typical human temperature, so when it feels hot to us, it feels much hotter to them. Pet temperature can swiftly rise in hot weather, pushing their body temperature to 104 or 105, which is very dangerous and can quickly become life-threatening. Source:

  • 82 degrees outside = 109 degrees in the car
  • 91 degrees outside = 115 degrees in the car
  • 100 degrees outside = 124 degrees in the car


Initial signs and symptoms:

    • excessive panting
    • increased heart rate
    • drooling
    • weakness

Severe symptoms (often leading to death):

    • seizures
    • bloody diarrhea
    • vomiting

Cat Looking for Shade from the HeatContrary to popular belief, cats do not tolerate heat better than people. In fact, they can only pant, or sweat through their footpads, to get rid of excess heat. Dogs have sweat glands in their footpads as well, but cool themselves primarily from panting and breathing. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to heatstroke than others, such as “brachycephalic” dogs (those with smaller muzzles), including Bulldogs, Pugs, and Pekingese, because they can’t cool themselves off fast enough by panting, the way other breeds can. Not too long ago we saved a bulldog that was brought to us in heatstroke distress. Senior pets, pets with heart or lung disease, and obese pets are also more likely to have trouble with the heat have more trouble than healthier pets.

Always make sure your pet has unlimited amounts of fresh water and areas of shade when playing outside, and provide frequent breaks to cool off and relax in the air conditioning. Also, avoid walking your pet on hot concrete. Many people aren’t aware of how hot the sidewalks and roads become in the sun; they can burn paw pads and, if your pet lies down, the hot surface can burn the skin and swiftly raise the body temperature. So, forego the midday walks and stick to the cooler times of the day, such as before sunrise and after sunset. Those are more pleasant times for you to be outside as well!

Contact CAH immediately if there is any chance your pet may be suffering from heatstroke. If you can’t get to us immediately, take measures to cool your pet down slowly; a sudden drop in body temperature can be dangerous. Home remedies such as those below can help less severe cases of heatstroke, and for extreme cases can begin the cool-down process until you can get the animal in to us.

  • Place the animal in a shaded room with a cool floor, such as a bathroom or kitchen.
  • Wet the feet with cold water or rubbing alcohol.
  • Place ice packs (1) between the back legs in the groin area and (2) underneath the armpits.
  • Carefully monitor the animal’s temperature (take it every 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the severity), making sure it’s not continuing to go up, or is going down too fast.

Just remember: Heatstroke can go from bad to worse very quickly, so the best thing is to bring the animal to us so we can provide the best treatment and monitoring.
When you arrive at our facility, we begin or continue the cool-down process by delivering intravenous cold fluids and immediately start monitoring the heart rate, oxygen intake, and respiratory system to track progress. If needed, life-saving equipment will be used if the animal’s condition deteriorates. In the majority of cases, the animal recovers 100% and is “back in action” quickly and you and your pet can enjoy the rest of your summer.

For more information about heatstroke, visit these websites:,, – .Udrl_j5gYSg

Facts collected from

Elise Welker


Contributed by Elise Welker, Veterinary Technician

Tycoon’s Anxiety Teaches Me Patience


Over the years, I have counseled many clients regarding their pet’s anxiety, whether due to thunderstorms, fireworks, or simply the stress of a move. It is only now that I can really relate to what many of you have been through, and I would like to share my own experience.

In January my family adopted Tycoon, a four-year-old beagle, after he was voted off a hunting pack in Lexington, Virginia. (Yes, that’s him watching TV.) He was not focused on the task of organized rabbit hunts and kept leading the dogs astray, preferring to go after more exciting prey, such as deer. I realized it would be quite a challenge to turn this country boy into a city slicker, and the challenge continues.

Within a day of adopting Tycoon, I realized he had multiple phobias, primarily triggered by noise. That was understandable, given that he had just moved from a quiet, serene farm to a suburban neighborhood. The sound of traffic, sirens, and even people talking, would trigger an anxiety attack. His symptoms included excessive panting and cowering, especially when he was outside.

To ease his transition to a noisier life, I started Tycoon on some holistic nutritional supplements, including Anxitane® and Omega 3s. I realized this was not adequate when he started to urinate inside the house. I then started him on Clomicalm®, an anti-anxiety medication that I often recommend for dogs. There are several medications out there that may be effective for your dog, but this one seems to agree with Tycoon. His anxiety has improved over time, but he still sometimes jumps in response to common household noises such as the tearing of foil, objects being dropped, etc.

As summer has brought on unsettled weather, we have discovered Tycoon’s fear of thunderstorms, a very common problem in dogs. After one overnight event of thunder and lightning, we woke up to find he had destroyed the kid’s knapsacks, piled up recyclables, baseball caps, etc. I explained to the family that we shouldn’t be surprised at how he acted since he did not have seven other beagles to cuddle up with as he did in the beagle house where he used to live.

Recently, with the threat of another derecho coming our way, we made plans to crate Tycoon overnight—an effective approach for many dogs since they treat their crate as a safe haven. For Tycoon, my goal was to prevent him from going into a destructive frenzy. It seemed simple enough, but then I couldn’t even get him into the crate! My husband opted to sleep on the couch in the living room to keep him company. Thankfully, that storm never hit our area.

My next purchase for Tycoon will be a Thundershirt®, which has gotten mixed reviews from our clients, but it is worth a try. I’m hoping this will help him through the 4th of July fireworks, in case that is one of his phobias, too.

Many of you with dogs that have been relocated and rescued know that it’s sometimes not easy for them to make such a significant transition. It is helpful to accept that finding the right formula for having a well-adjusted, happy dog takes patience and may always be a work in progress. Please call us to schedule a behavioral consult if you feel your family pet needs professional help for anxiety or other behavioral issues.

As for me, the saga of Tycoon continues. He joins me at work and very much enjoys the staff and furry friends that surround him. He remains a little skittish, but I am thankful that he does not have any fear aggression and is loved and adored by my family.



Contributed by Dr. Sandra Pickard

Microchipping: A Quick, Easy Way to Protect Your Pet

Lost dogHave you ever lost track of your cat or dog and wondered if you were ever going to see him or her again? It’s a horrible, helpless feeling. Even if your pet has an ID tag, there is a risk its collar could come off or the tag could be lost. Non-collared pets—like rabbits and ferrets—can get lost, too. Even if you put up LOST signs, check with your neighbors, and drive around town for days, you might not be lucky enough to find your beloved pet.

Help prevent this tragedy by having your pet microchipped. Microchips help reunite more than 10,000 pets with their owners each month (Source: Each chip contains a unique ID code that can be used to identify your pet and contact you—even if you move. Facilities such as veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, animal shelters, and police department animal control officers across the United States and in many countries can scan lost pets for chips.

Inserting a microchip is an easy, nonsurgical procedure that takes only a few minutes. Much like administering a vaccine, the tiny microchip is inserted under the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades—a quick process that requires virtually no recovery time.

At Centreville Animal Hospital we use chips monitored by a company called HomeAgain, the largest pet microchipping company in the United States. HomeAgain’s microchips are accepted worldwide, including in places with very strict guidelines, like New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Hawaii, and Australia. They also provide an online Pet Portal that allows you to upload a photo, list Centreville Animal Hospital as your vet, and include a description and defining characteristics to help identify your pet. There is even a section where you can list your pet’s medical issues, like I did with my cat Quincy, who is a diabetic and needs insulin every day.

Nothing provides more compelling proof of the value of microchipping than the accounts we hear about how they have helped reunite families with their pets (and in one case with a lost family member). Here are a couple that stand out in my mind:

  • A few years ago, one of our clients brought in a dog she had seen wandering around her neighborhood. We scanned him for a microchip and found one. But when we contacted the chip company and got the owner’s primary contact information we discovered it was out of date. The owners had moved. Luckily, there was an alternate contact number and were able to reach them using that information. It turns out that their dog had been missing for 3 years! Thanks to the microchip, we were able to reunite the very grateful family with their dog—after all those years.
  • More recently, a 3-year-old girl in Aiken, South Carolina, decided she wanted to take her dog, Angel, for a walk. She and the dog left the house without her parents’ knowledge. A Good Samaritan eventually found her with the dog, but she was crying and couldn’t tell anyone where she lived. At first, even the police were unable to determine where she lived or who her parents were. But then one of the officers thought to check the dog for a microchip, and thankfully Angel had one. The police were finally able to find out where Angel and the little girl live, and took them both home to her panicked parents. (All thanks to Angel’s microchip.)

To read more stories about how microchips have helped save lost pets, visit Microchipping is recommended by the Humane Society,, the ASPCA,, and many other animal welfare groups.

Michelle LeBlanc


Contributed by Michelle LeBlanc, Veterinary Assistant 

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