Kingsbrook Animal Hospital's Blog

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

But My Pet's Teeth Look Fine in Frederick, MD

Ranee reviewing dental radiographs.
Although your pet’s teeth may look healthy on the surface, problems and disease may be lurking below. Two-thirds of your pet’s teeth are under the gingiva (or gumline). This makes dental radiographs (xrays) an invaluable tool. Studies have shown that without dental radiographs, significant dental disease is missed in up to 75% of pets! Here at KAH, we utilize our dental radiograph machine to avoid missing problematic areas and teeth.  

Hidden abscess.  Tooth visually looks fine.

   Dental radiographs allow assessment of tooth fractures, internal tooth disease, disease associated with structures around the tooth, cysts, abscesses, bone loss, tumors, or foreign objects. X-rays show if teeth are positioned wrong, are abnormal, or are non-vital (dead). 

   Some teeth appear to be missing. Dental radiographs help to determine if they have broken off below the gum line, have been “eaten away” due to dental disease, or have never erupted. Un-erupted teeth can cause cyst formation and although oral cysts are benign, as they expand from continuous fluid secretion, they can cause severe local destruction. Bone, periodontal tissues, and teeth can be destroyed. 

Bone loss from bacteria in the mouth.
Bone loss also occurs when the bacteria that is present along the gumline attacks the bone and the ligament that holds each tooth in place. Abscesses can form when bacteria invades the bone around the root tip. Some infections are buried deep into solid bone and seldom drain to the outside. These abscesses are hidden infections and can only be seen on dental radiographs. Abscesses of the maxillary (upper) fourth premolar can erode through the bone, resulting in a swelling below the eye. 

   Many of these diseases can cause pets discomfort and pain. They aren’t able to tell us where it hurts. Without the aid of dental radiographs, these problems may not be uncovered until the problem worsens! 

   If you have questions about your pet’s teeth, or are interested in more information please contact Kingsbrook Animal Hospital located in Frederick, MD at 301-631-6900.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Train Your Pet to Love Grooming and Nail Trims in Frederick, MD

You finally mustered the nerve to carry out the task you’ve been dreading all week—a must because you’re having guests and you want Fido to look his best! Brush in one hand, nail clippers in the other, you hunt for Fido throughout the house. . “I got him. He’s over here!” shouts your spouse. The two of you conspire to hold the struggling Cocker Spaniel down to give a toenail trim and groom his mats out but after just seconds you both give up.

Many pet parents are afraid or unable to trim their dog or cat’s nails and some are even unable to brush their pets. You might think it’s not a big deal; however, these are essential pet care tasks that may need to be performed on a regular basis. Untrimmed or worn nails can snag on objects and tear as well as cause abnormal walking gait. They can even grow so long that they curve around back into the foot causing lameness and pain. Long nails can also cause damage to furniture and can scratch humans who are playing with their long-nailed pets.  Brushing is also essential in pets with long-hair or thick coats in order to prevent matting, help decrease shedding, and prevent associated skin problems.

You might thing you can avoid the issue by sending your pet to the veterinary hospital or groomer to have these tasks done, but many pets are just as bad there and consequently the events are extremely stressful and can get worse with each visit. Luckily it turns out that both dogs and cats can be trained to allow and even enjoy grooming and toenail trims. The trick is to pair the event with something positive and to train in systematic steps. 

Training pets to love having their nails trimmed
For instance, to train a pet to tolerate toenail trim we want to associate the procedure with good things, such as food. Start with whatever the pet can handle easily. For instance for pets who bolt at the sight of toenail trimmers you don’t want to start by pairing a toenail trimming with food. Rather, pair the sight of the trimmers with good things—place them near their food bowl so the pet has to be near it every day when they eat or put a treat such as canned food, peanut butter, or spray cheese on the nail trimmer handles so the pet can lick the treat off every time they walk by. Alternatively for pets who eat inanimate objects with food on them, you can hold the trimmers with treats on it and remove the trimmers once the food is all licked off.

Once the pet consistently acts as if she’s about to get treats when she see the trimmers you can go on to the next step of pairing foot handling with treats. The easiest variation uses two people—one to give treats and one to handle the feet. First have the pet sit in a comfortable position. Start by giving treats once the pet’s in a happy state start rubbing the feet lightly. The goal is the pet just focuses on the food, so if he acts like he notices his feet are being touched you’ll need to make the handling even easier—by handling higher up the leg instead. After several seconds of handling and feeding, stop and remove you handling hand and then the food-dispensing hand. Wait about five seconds then repeat the procedure. 

The timing can be crucial because we want to make it clear that handling the foot equals treats, no handling equals no treats, and we always want the pet in a positive emotional state. When the pet’s good at this step go to pairing more vigorous handling with treats. With each step handle the feet more vigorously, but only go to the next step when you’re sure he associates the previous step with good things. In later steps, practice putting the clippers over the nail so your pet gets used to the feel paired with treats. And the final step is pairing the actual toenail clipping with treats. Beyond this, you can also progress to clipping the nail and giving the treats afterwards too. Just be sure that when you clip, you avoid clipping into the pink part of the nail that contains the blood vessel and nerves or you’ll set the process back.

Training pets to love being groomed
Even if your pet hates both procedures, if you retrain him in a systematic manner, the training can go quickly. In fact for some pets you don’t even need to be very systematic about the process if they act like they only care about the food. Sometimes the process takes just minutes. Sometimes it takes a week with twice daily, short sessions. You may also need coaching from veterinary staff who are trained in these techniques or you may want to just find a hospital or groomer trained in these low stress behavior modification techniques..

Visit for more information. Just be sure to always stay below the level of handling that causes your pet to react and be sure to consistently pair the handling with something the pet loves. Before you know it toenail trims and grooming will be fun for you and your pet!

Dr. Sophia Yin is the author of the book and DVD Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs & Cats.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Get Your Cat in the Carrier in Frederick, MD

For most of our feline companions, the only time they get to see their carrier is when its time to go see the team at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, Maryland for a veterinary visit.  Even if nothing unpleasant happened to your kitty during their previous appointments, that carrier will be associated with the car ride and the unfamiliar sounds and smells of the veterinary office.  It is these stress-inducing associations that cause cats to resist getting into their carrier.

You can help your cat get over the fear of a carrier by associating it with “good things” like treats or toys. The first thing to do is to avoid storing the carrier in the garage or basement and only bringing it out when a trip to the vet is needed.  Instead, open the door or remove the top and keep the carrier out in an area where your cat likes to sleep or play.  This way, they can begin to associate it with the familiar sights and scents of home. Set it up as your cat’s own private sleeping quarters or private dining room by placing their bed or food and water dishes in the carrier. Or simply use the carrier as a spot to give treats.

If your cat already has negative associations with the current carrier that you’re using, try purchasing a new carrier that does not resemble the old one.

Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, which cats use to mark familiar objects.  If you don’t have time to develop positive associations with your cat’s carrier prior to your next scheduled veterinary visit, use 3-4 sprays of Feliway on a blanket or towel, or even an old item of your clothing, and place it in the carrier a half an hour before your are going to use it.  This may help create a sense of familiarity and provide a safe haven in an otherwise strange environment.

If your cat needs to go to the veterinarian right away, and is not yet accustomed to his or her carrier, start by putting the carrier in a small room with few hiding places.  Bring him/her into the room and close the door. Move slowly and calmly and do not try to chase them into the carrier. Encourage your feline friend with treats or toys to walk into the carrier on their own.  If this is unsuccessful, gently cradle your cat, using a blanket or towel pre-sprayed with Feliway, if necessary, and lower them into the carrier.  

To see Julie demonstrate how to get your cat in the carrier CLICK HERE
To see Melissa demonstrate how to get your cat in the carrier CLICK HERE
For further tips or questions, please call Kingsbrook Animal Hospital at 301-631-6900.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

KAH Recommends Fecal Testing in Felines

Here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD, we do recommend a yearly fecal analysis as part of your cat's routine wellness exam.  One of the most common tests for intestinal parasites that the veterinarians here at KAH can run, is a fecal analysis.  We need a small amount of your cat's stool to send out to our outside lab where they will run tests to look for the presence of intestinal parasites.
Typically, we receive the results within a couple days.  
Intestinal parasites can cause many problems in our beloved pets such as diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, anemia, malnutrition or malabsorption, and unfortunately there are numerous ways that your cat can contract intestinal parasites- even while indoors.
Many clients ask why it is necessary to test their cat(s) for intestinal parasites if it is an indoor only cat. There are several reasons listed below for why it is important to test your cat:
1.  Most kittens are born with intestinal parasites that they have acquired from their mother, either while they were in the womb or during nursing.
2.  Some parasites can move into your cat's muscles and go into a state similar to hibernation.  While the parasites are in their "hibernating" state, your cat's fecal would come back negative for these parasites.  However, if your cat gets sick or stressed, these parasites can come out of hibernation and reinfect your cat.
3.  Unfortunately, we can bring hitch-hikers from the bug world into our house as we are coming and going- these insects, if eaten, can also cause our cats to become infected.
4.  Rodents can infiltrate their way into even the most well guarded cat houses, and cause infection in our brave defenders when eaten too! 
5.  Some indoor cats make the occasional escape plan, and- as any cat owner can attest- we can never know what they get into when unsupervised!
6.  Any new cat that we are bringing into our household has that ability to infect out cats with some intestinal parasites too.
7.  Lastly, there are three specific common parasites that your cat can pass to you: giardia, roundworms, and hookworms.  Testing a yearly fecal helps ensure that your cat is parasite free and does not present any risk to you or your family. 
Bottom line is there are many reasons to submit a yearly fecal sample for analysis as part of your cat's yearly exam.  This is a simple test the veterinarians can run in order to help ensure your beloved friend remains parasite free!  So make sure to bring a fecal sample to your cat's next wellness visit at Kingsbrook!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Feline Nutrition-What does KAH recommend?

Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.  We want to provide good quality, nutritious food to our pets so they may live a long healthy life.  When we go to the store to purchase pet food, it can be very overwhelming.  There are aisles and shelves packed with different kinds of food.  Dry kibble, canned, semi-moist, refrigerated and frozen.  What should you choose?

     The first thing you want to do is look for the AAFCO information.  AAFCO stands for the  Association of American Feed Control Officials.  AAFCO is a regulatory board that safeguards the health of animals and humans.  Pet foods are developed two ways; through animal feeding trials or computer models.  An animal feeding trial is where a group of healthy laboratory cats or dogs are fed the food.  The animals are examined and blood work sampling is done before, during and after the food trial.  This ensures that the food is meeting all nutritional requirements for the animal.  A computer model is designed to allow the researchers to plug in the values for protein, fat, calcium and phosphorus and see if the values are adequate.  The veterinarians at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital recommend diets developed with animal feeding trials.

     The next thing to look at is the Nutrition label.  Is the food labeled for all life stages, or is it specifically labeled for kitten, adult or senior cats?  A food that is labeled for all life stages is basically a kitten food.  The nutrient contents are going to be in the higher ranges so that the kitten may develop and grow at a steady rate.  These ranges may be too high for an adult or senior house cat.  The calorie content is also higher,  so feeding a food for all life stages to a sedentary adult or senior cat is going to cause weight gain.  Make sure that the diet you choose is specifically labeled for the life stage of your pet.

     If you have any questions about choosing the right food for your pet, call our office in Frederick, MD and one of our friendly veterinary technicians would be glad help you.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Giving Back to our Community for Christmas

Santa's helpers, Melissa and Julie, delivering Christmas cheer.
Kingsbrook Animal Hospital team adopts not one, but TWO local Frederick families in need this Christmas!

So many presents, we needed help to get everything inside.
Maybe you remember that last year Kingsbrook Animal Hospital team members adopted a local Frederick family for Christmas. We bought clothes and toys and food items to help the family have a joyous holiday instead of a quiet one without gifts or celebration. It was so rewarding, knowing that on Christmas morning as we sat with our own families, another family, not too far away, was enjoying a day filled with true Christmas spirit. What an amazing feeling, to know that we had a part in that!

We all agreed we HAD to participate again this year!

Dr. Cardella says this is the one!
KAH Giving Tree
Pick an ornament

This year we decided to adopt two families and let our clients in on the fun! As a group we all traveled to Sewells Tree Farm and cut down the KAH Christmas tree! We called our tree the "Tree of Giving." Each team member at Kingsbrook brought in an ornament to add to our family tree. We also made paper ornaments that listed the age and gender of the family members and an item that they needed. This was a nice way for everyone to get involved.                

Like last year, we all had a blast shopping for clothes, toys, snow boots, hats and gloves. One of the families had just moved into new housing after they lost everything in a house fire so we bought plates and dishes, sheets and blankets, even a tv! Our second family was living in a hotel and asked for clothes to play in the snow. While it won’t likely be a white Christmas, they are prepared when the next snowfall arrives!

Lots of presents
Thank you to everyone who provided gifts and well wishes for these families! We hope that on December 25, you have a warm feeling of Christmas joy just thinking of the excitement the children will have when they see all the gifts that Santa has brought for them and also the joy their parents must have while watching their children enjoy a little Christmas magic during a time when they are struggling.

Thanks so much for helping us to make this happen!

Merry Christmas Frederick, Maryland!!

Your favorite veterinary team- Kingsbrook Animal Hospital

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Think Carefully Before You Give Pets as Gifts

Many people receive pets as gifts during the holidays. In the past, shelters and animal rescues have been against this practice. Their concern was that people who receive a pet as a gift are more likely to relinquish their pet to the shelter because they were not prepared for the responsibilities of pet ownership. The good news is this long held belief may not actually be true. Recently, the ASPCA surveyed pet owners and reported that 96% of people who received their pet as a gift believed it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to the pet. In addition, 86% of these animals were still in their homes.

Similarly, studies have found that animals received as gifts were not any more likely to be returned than other pets. The ASPCA’s website highlights a study by New et al. It identified the source of approximately 2600 dogs and 2300 cats from 12 shelters across the United States. They found that dogs and cats received as pets were less likely to be relinquished. Likewise, “Scarlett et al. identified 71 reasons given for relinquishment. ‘Unwanted gift’ was listed only 0.3% for dogs and 0.4% for cats entering the shelters surveyed.” These studies suggest that the concerns about giving pets as gifts may not be supported. Nevertheless, while there is no doubt that pets bring joy, love and friendship, animals require a significant investment of time, money and emotion. So before you go out and get pets as holiday gifts for your friends and family, there are a few things you should know first.
What to think about before giving a pet as a gift

The decision to give someone a pet for a gift should never be taken lightly. Remember, cats can live up to 20 years, and dogs can live between 10 and 20 years depending on the breed. Considering how much time, money and care pets require, that’s quite a commitment. So before you decide to give someone a pet for the holidays, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do these people really want a pet?
  • Are they allergic to pets?
  • Do they have time for a dog? Or a cat?
  • Are they allowed to have a pet in their residence?
  • Can they afford to care for a pet, including veterinary expenses?
  • Do they have time to train a dog?
  • Do they have a yard and enough space in their home for a dog?
  • If they don’t, will they be able to walk their dog 3 to 4 times daily?
  • Do they have a pet-friendly home?
  • Are they prepared for the responsibility of pet ownership?