Monday, September 9, 2013

Keep your Pets safe this Fall

Caring for pets is a year round job but certain seasons in New England present unique hazards. Summer has the heat and winter is quite cold, but autumn can also be a dangerous time for pets if you are not careful. The presence of wild critters known to carry rabies including raccoon's and skunks, the growth of potentially toxic wild mushrooms and pesticide sprays around a home can all be very dangerous for a dog or cat. At the Middletown Vet we want your pet to be as safe as possible so we offer some helpful tips for keeping your furry friend healthy.

Fall brings the growth of several potentially toxic plants. Chrysanthemum, Meadow Saffron and a variety of wild mushrooms can be very harmful for a dog or cat if ingested. You will know your pet has eaten a harmful plant if he displays the following symptoms: stumbling, skin inflammation, vomiting and diarrhea. Watch closely for these signs and also do your best to remove mushrooms from your yard.

When the weather starts to get chilly wild animals will seek refuge in homes, basements and garages. This can mean raccoon's, skunks and squirrels encroaching on your property. While these critters are not known for aggressive behavior, an encounter with your pet can turn into a fight and if the animal is carrying rabies your cat or dog can be in trouble. Be proactive by ensuring your home does not have any easy access spots for wild animals and if a raccoon or skunk is in the house contact a professional animal removal specialist.

In addition to small critters your home may also be invaded by rats and mice looking to get out of the cold. 
Many homeowners will have their foundations sprayed with pesticides to kill off these rodents but these chemicals can be harmful to your pet if inhaled or ingested. Always have your dog or cat out of the home when a spraying is done and ask the pest control specialist when it is safe for pets to enter the home again after spraying is done. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Old Dog Needs $6,000 Surgery. What Do You Do?

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The average bichon frisé will live to be 16 years old.

Readers’ Comments

Of course, there are no average bichons. Each one is extraordinary and irreplaceable. Especially if he’s your dog.
I recently returned from vacation to find my son, his wife and both their bichons at my house. They were there, they told me, because Maxwell, the older dog, needed emergency gallbladder surgery.
Max, a 13-year-old dog, is calm and sweet-tempered, so gentle and pleasant a companion you can forget he is a dog. I have long maintained that Max is better company than most people.
But now he was suffering. While Jack, their 3-year-old dog, had met me at the door with the usual exuberant barking, Max had remained on the sofa beside my son, whimpering fretfully.
Tom and Amy are crazy about these dogs, so much so that when they married, both bichons were included in the ceremony. Max, part of Amy’s life since her folks brought him home when she was 12, was the ring bearer. Jack was the “flower dog.”
Jack and Max aren’t just dogs. They’re regarded as beloved family members. And when a beloved family member needs life-saving surgery, you don’t sit back and “let nature take its course.” You take him to a hospital.
My son and his wife had taken Max to their local Baltimore veterinarian. An X-ray revealed that his gallbladder needed to come out before it ruptured, endangering Max’s life. The best place for this difficult surgery was the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. So they got in the car and drove to my house in the Philadelphia suburbs. They planned to take Max to the emergency room the next day.
A risky operation and an elderly dog. Not a promising combination. Even if the surgery was a success, there was a 30 percent chance of life-threatening post-op complications.
“How much will this cost?” I asked. “And who’s going to pay for it?“
“Six thousand dollars,” Tom said. “Maybe more, if there are complications. We’re splitting the cost with Amy’s parents.”
“I’m in for a third,” I found myself saying.
I’m not a wealthy woman. I work, part time, at a public library. But I loved that dog. And expensive dog repair is less expensive if you split it three ways.
“Are you nuts?” one friend asked when I told her about it.
“We’re hoping to buy Max two more good years,” I said.
“He’s an old dog,” she chided. “You’re missing an opportunity to teach your son a valuable life lesson. There comes a time when you have to let go.”
We didn’t want to let Max go. We wanted to try to save his life.
Was this crazy? “Would you pay $6,000 for a 70 percent chance of buying two extra years of life for an elderly dog?” I asked my dog-owning friends.
“In a heartbeat,” one said.
“No way,” another said. “When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. You grieve. Then you get another dog. Preferably from a shelter.”
Another friend admitted that when the vet told her a couple of years ago that her ailing Shih Tzu needed an expensive procedure to save his life, she had blurted: “Do whatever you have to do! I love this dog even more than I love my husband!”
“And I really do love my husband,” she told me sheepishly.
I grew up in the 1960s. My sister and I loved Lady Gweneviere of Shrewsbury, our scrappy Sealyham terrier, but she was never our “canine sister.” She was “the dog.” Gwen slept in the laundry room. She wasn’t allowed on the furniture. And when her health began to fail, Dad took her to the vet and had her “put to sleep.”
But times change. Even though it still remains in his nature (unlike a human sibling) to take a dump occasionally on the living room rug or chew up a library book, the 21st-century dog has received an upgrade, from pet to family. And pricey life-prolonging surgery is definitely an option.
We took Max to the vet hospital the next day, so weak that we carried him in, wrapped in a blanket. They took him into surgery. After the three-hour procedure, the vet called to tell us things were worse than we had thought.
“Max came through the operation beautifully,” she said. “But his gall bladder had already ruptured.” She had removed it and repaired the damage as best she could. But a full, uncomplicated recovery was even less likely.
Max would spend the next 24 hours in the canine intensive-care unit. With his own round-the-clock I.C.U. nurse.
When we were finally able to visit Max, we expected to find him helpless and weak. But he trotted briskly into the waiting room, accompanied by the vet who had performed the surgery. “He’s doing great,” she said. “He’s our favorite patient. Everyone loves him.”
We were as high at the sight of our dog, tail wagging and on his feet again, as Max was on the methadone they had given him for post-op pain.
A mere six grand for bringing our guy back from death’s door? A bargain!
Max continued to beat the odds, going through the three perilous post-op days without a hitch. He is now out of the hospital, recuperating with Amy’s parents, who are spoiling him rotten.
We paid the whopping hospital bill with no regrets. Max, alive and well, is worth every penny. Even if he hadn’t made it through, knowing that we had done all we could for him would have been worth that price. More important, the whole experience has made me very hopeful about how Tom and Amy are likely to treat me when I’m old and frail.
And the peace of mind I get from that?

Roz Warren ( is a mild-mannered librarian, humorist and dog lover. Connect with Roz on Facebook at


  1. Fleas have been around for more than 100 million years dating back to the time of the
  2. Cats and dogs are afflicted by the same flea (Ctenocephalides felis).
  3. The average lifespan of a flea on the pet is 60 to 100 days.
  4. Fleas will feed up to 4000 times per day consuming up to 15 times their own body
    weight in blood daily.
  5. Only the adult flea feeds on blood.
  6. Fleas can jump more than 100 times their own length.
  7. Female fleas produce 40 to 50 eggs per day, which translates into 2000 eggs in her
    reproductive lifetime.
  8. Eggs fall off a pet and infest carpets, bedding and furniture and then hatch into larvae
    within 14 days.
  9. Immature fleas avoid light, burying themselves in carpets and crevices.
  10. Most fleas overwinter in the larval or pupal stage with optimal survival and growth
    occurring during warm, moist winters and spring.
  11. A typical flea population consists of 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae and 5% adults. The number of fleas found on a pet represents only 5% of the fleas in the environment.
  12. Researchers have suggested a genetic component to flea allergy dermatitis.
  13. Fleas do not use muscle power to jump, but energy stored in a protein named resilin.
  14. The flea larva is small, pale, has bristles covering its worm-like body, lacks eyes, and has mouthparts that are adapted to chewing. Larvae feed on organic matter, including the feces of mature fleas.
Courtesy of our friends at Bluepearl Veterinary Specialists

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Keeping Pets Cool in Summer

As the fittingly named dog days of summer set in its time to think about how hard the heart can be on your pet. If you are suffering, and you have access to cold water and showers whenever you want, think how your furry little friend must be feeling. Summer heat can make a dog or cat miserable and lead to unusual and sometimes aggressive behavior. If the heat is starting to rise in your area follow some safety tips that will keep your pets cool.

Water – It seems simple enough but you’d be surprised how many pets get dehydrated in the summer. Cats and dogs need water in the summer to stay hydrated and prevent fatigue. If they don’t have access to fresh, clean drinking water then a very hot day can become a very dangerous one. Chances are you have to leave your pet at home when you go to work so always remember to have several water options for your pet, indoors and outdoors, so he can stay hydrated while you’re gone.

Avoid Bad Situations – Summer is a great time to go out and join crowds at concerts, fairs, cook-outs and parties. While this is a fun time for you it might not be the ideal environment for a pet dog or cat. These types of gatherings can lead to an animal feeling claustrophobic, overheated and dizzy. When pets are hot they don’t want to be pet, jostled with or pushed. Use common sense when deciding if you should take your pet to a crowded place. Whether it’s in the city or on a beach you need to be careful not to put your pet in a precarious position.

Monitor Sun Exposure – Like humans, too much time in the sun can be bad for a pet’s health. Hot days mixed with prolonged exposure to intense UV rays can cause a pet dog or cat to feel dizzy, disoriented, fatigued and ill. You will probably notice your pet acting strange and perhaps lethargic. Be careful when you approach a dog that has been in the sun too long. Even if you know your dog to be docile and friendly the heat can make him do irrational things and you need to be prepared for a sudden action. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

It’s Flea & Tick Season

As the weather warms up and nature springs back to life in Connecticut, it’s time for every pet owner to be on the watch for fleas and ticks. Though summer is usually the peak of the flea and tick population, spring and fall are also known for bringing along plenty of these annoying arachnids and mites looking for dogs and cats to hitch a ride on. Some vets recommend protecting your pet year round from fleas and ticks but the start of spring is when you need to be the most proactive to help keep your pets safe.

Flea & Tick Dangers
Fleas and ticks can do much more than just make a pet itch. Being blood-sucking parasites it isn’t unusual for fleas and ticks to transit pathogens and skin diseases. If your pet isn’t properly protected this can result in hair loss due to excessive scratching, tapeworms, a flea allergy known as dermatitis and anemia in younger pets. Ticks are also well known for carrying Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrilichiosis. These diseases can lead to lameness, swollen joints, cardiac problems and neurological disorders.

Detecting Fleas & Ticks
Luckily it won’t be very hard to tell that your pet dog or cat has fleas. Constant biting and scratching, sometimes at a furious pace, is usually a sure sign your pet has some unwanted friends crawling on his skin. When you are brushing your pet you should also be on the lookout for small dark spots that usually indicate the presence of ticks. If the tick has been feeding on blood it will probably appear engorged and will be easier to spot.

Treating Pets for Fleas & Ticks
There are several things you can do as a pet owner to protect your dog or cat from fleas and ticks. There are plenty of flea and tick shampoos and powders on the market as well as special collars that are designed to keep fleas and ticks off your pet. However, if they do find their way onto your dog or cat you need to act quickly to get rid of them before they can start causing damage. For ticks you can use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin and pull it off gently without irritating your pet. Another treatment is to practice prevention by watching where your pet roams off to when you let him outside. Keeping dogs and cats away from where fleas and ticks congregate is the best way to avoid contact altogether.