Kingsbrook Animal Hospital's Blog

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Elimination Issues in Frederick, MD

The most common behavior complaint of cat owners is house soiling, otherwise known as feline inappropriate elimination.  The problem may be marking behaviors or urine/stool deposited outside of the litter box.  Marking, or spraying, is when a cat urinates on vertical surface or leaves small amounts of urine, or occasionally stool, on horizontal surfaces.  In most cases, the spraying cat will back up to a vertical surface, raise it’s tail, which may quiver, and with little or no crouching, will direct a stream of urine backwards.  

 Cats will mark their territory (locations where they live or visit) to signal “ownership” or to advertise sexual receptivity and availability.  Marking can occur when other cats are in the vicinity, either outdoors or in the same household, or when they feel stressed or threatened.  Changes in household routine, living arrangements, and other environmental and social changes could also lead to marking behaviors.

What are the diagnostic possibilities for elimination problems?

The first step is to rule out a medical cause.  Any disease of the urinary tract or intestinal tract that causes increased discomfort, volume, or frequency can cause house soiling.  Medical problems such as incontinence, in which the pet cannot control its urine or stool, should also be ruled out.  A complete physical examination and laboratory tests at wit your veterinarian are recommended.

So, how do we determine if the problem is behavioral? 

As with all behavior problems, the history will help determine treatment options.  The location of the urine marking, the frequency, duration, and number of locations are important.  Information regarding the home environment, litter box type and litter used, litter box maintenance (cleaning) and placement are factors to note, as well as any additional pets in the household.  The number and placement of litter boxes is extremely important in multi-cat households. 

If you have any questions, please contact Kingsbrook Animal Hospital at 301-631-6900.  One of our veterinarians would be happy to examine your pet and help you to resolve these issues.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reading Canine Body Language in Frederick, MD

Ranee's dog, Rocket, making a new friend at the dog park.
Just as people do, dogs convey a lot through their body language.  Since they are unable to verbalize their feelings, they must use body language to convey if they are happy and want to play or if they are scared and want to be left alone.  We can learn to read canine body language so we may have positive experiences with our doggie friends.

Ranee's dog, Rocket, happily playing with a new friend.
Happy  When a dog is happy, his body language is relaxed.  He holds his tail and ears in a natural position.  He may wag his tail from side to side or in a circular motion.  His muscles are relaxed and the corners of his mouth may be turned up as if he is smiling.

Alert  When a dog is on alert, he is intense and focused.  He will stand upright with his weight centered on all four legs.  His ears will be held up and forward.  His tail is rigid and held in the regular position or straight up.  The hair on his back may be raised.

Playful  When a dog is playful, he will have jerky and bouncy movements.  He may paw at you then take off running to ensue a chase.  He may play bow by lowering his front legs and head and raising his rear end in the air.  This position conveys that he wants to initiate play.  A playful dog may also make high-pitched barks.

This dog is displaying fearful behavior.
Fearful  A fearful dog tries to make himself look small.  His back will be hunched and he will hold his tail low or tucked between his legs. His ears will be flattened against his head.  He may lean to the side and back away.  The muscles of his body and face will be tense and rigid.

Dominant  A dominant dog will stand tall.  He will try to look large.  His neck will be arched and he will appear tense.  His tail will be held high and rigid.  He will make direct eye contact.  He may also growl, usually with a closed mouth.

Submissive behavior
Submissive  A submissive dog will try his best to look as small as possible.  His back will be hunched and he will stay low to the ground.  He will hold his tail low and may tuck it between his legs.  He will flatten his ears to the side of his head. He will not make direct eye contact and may urinate.

Fearfully Aggressive  A fearfully aggressive dog displays the same body language as a fearful dog.  He may show his teeth and growl.  He may cower.  He may snap or try to bite then retreat as far away as possible. 

Offensively Aggressive  An offensively aggressive dog may be experiencing anger and confidence at the same time.  He is on attack and may not stop if the offender retreats.  He tries to look large and intimidating.  He will hold his head high and his ears up and forward.  His tail is held raised and rigid.  He will growl, snarl and bark in a threatening tone.

Defensively Aggressive  A defensively aggressive dog would rather not get into an altercation.  He would rather be left alone, but will stand up for himself.  He may be experiencing fear and anger at the same time.  He tries to look large and intimidating.  He will hold her head high and his ears up and forward.  His tail is held raised and rigid.  He will show his teeth and may growl and snarl.  His bark may be high pitched.

If you have any concerns about your dog's behavior, call for an appointment at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital at 301-631-6900.  One of our veterinarians, Dr. Brent Cook has an interest in behavior and will consult with you and your pet to get to the root of the problem.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Scratch Happy in Frederick, MD


Scratching is a normal behavior that allows your cat to condition his claws, mark his territory and have a nice stretch.  Cats are naturally drawn to the biggest, most stable thing in the room and unfortunately your couch, among other furniture, meets those requirements.

     The veterinarians at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital have some suggestions to prevent destructive scratching.  Provide alternative, appealing things for your cat to scratch on like scratching posts or corrugated cardboard.  Encourage your cat to use the posts by placing one near her favorite sleeping area and a second post in a prominent area.

     Remember a scratching post must be tall enough for your cat to stretch with his legs fully extended and sturdy enough to support his weight without toppling.  You can make the post more attractive by rubbing catnip into it, attaching toys, or providing a more elaborate structure with climbing and perching areas.

     Use positive reinforcement when your cat uses the scratching post by offering your cat a food reward each time she approaches the post and multiple rewards whenever she actually scratches the post.

     Remember our registered veterinary technicians are always here to answer questions.  If problems persist despite your best efforts, there are other options (like placing plastic coverings over your cat's nails) that we can discuss with you.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thinking about adopting a rabbit?

Perhaps you’ve just adopted your first rabbit, or maybe you already have a rabbit and would like more information to help you understand your pet better.   Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who need affection and they can become wonderful companion animals if given a chance to interact with their human families. The House Rabbit Society or HRS is a national non-profit animal welfare organization based in California. Over the past 20 years, HRS has grown from 300 to more than 8,000 members, with local chapters and educators in over 30 states.  The House Rabbit Society for DC, MD, and VA serves Frederick County, MD.  This website contains information concerning domestic/wild rabbits and their care. Included is information about adopting, fostering, volunteering and other resources that can be locally accessed.

The HRS goals are:
* Through the fostering program, volunteers rescue abandoned rabbits and find permanent adoptive homes for them. 
* Through education, they seek to reduce the number of unwanted rabbits — and to improve bunnies' lives — by helping people better understand these often misunderstood companion animals. 

Here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, we love our exotics, and have treated them for the 15 years we have been in business. Our veterinarians treat rabbits for preventative care and minor ailments. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Leopard Gecko Husbandry



Leopard geckos can live their entire lives happily in a 10-20 gallon aquarium. Too large of a tank can actually inhibit the gecko from being at the appropriate temperature. Newspaper, pea gravel, or flat stones work best as bedding. Reptile carpet is also an excellent substrate that can be easily washed once dirty. Sand or particulate bedding tend to cause impactions and can pose a serious health risk.

Cage Setup

Leopard geckos require a hotspot of 86-90° F, and the cooler side of their tank should be around 75-80° F. This can be done using a heat lamp on one side of the cage. A natural heat gradient will occur to allow your gecko to choose what temperature it wants to be at any time. Heat rocks are not recommended because they can get too hot and burn your gecko.
Leopard geckos prefer hide spots in their tank. There are plenty of ornate hide spots that will spice up your gecko’s cage.

For leopard geckos, crickets are best for feeding. They should be dusted with a calcium/vitamin D3 powder every other day to help with bone growth. Leopard geckoes should also have their food dusted with a multivitamin once weekly. Zoo Med makes ideal products for ensuring your gecko has enough nutrients in his or her diet. A small amount should be readily available in a dish for the gecko at all times. A good feeding guideline is to feed 2 insects for every inch of the animal’s total body length every other day.

Fresh water should be available at all times for your gecko. He/she might also require soaking in lukewarm water every couple days when they are in shed.

Signs of health Problems
Retained sheds can cause deformities in leopard geckos, so when your gecko goes into shed, which is marked by a dulling of their color, that they have moisture available or are sprayed with water at least once daily until they have shed their skin. Retained sheds can sometimes be removed after soaking your gecko in some lukewarm water.

 You should contact Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD if you think your gecko is having any eye problems or impactions, as these can become very serious health risks an should be addressed by a veterinarian.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bearded Dragon Husbandry


Young bearded dragons can be in a 20 gallon aquarium, and adults should be in a 40-55 gallon aquarium. The ideal substrate for young bearded dragons is newspaper, pea gravel, or flat stones. Reptile carpet is also an excellent substrate that can be easily washed once dirty. Sand or particulate bedding tend to cause impactions, and these lizards have a tendency to be curious and can eat bedding. Adult bearded dragons can pass particulate bedding better than the younger ones, but it can still pose a problem.
Cage setup
Bearded dragons require a heat source at all times. The cage should have a hotspot of 95-102°F and the cooler side of their tank to be 80-85°F. This can be done using a heat lamp on one side of the cage. A natural heat gradient will occur and your bearded dragon can choose what temperature he/she would like to be at any given time. A heat rock is not recommended because often they get too warm and will actually cause burns.
Bearded dragons require full-spectrum lighting for 12-14 hours each day. Your local pet store will likely have automatic light timers that can turn the light on and off for your convenience.
Bearded dragons will climb if given the chance, so they can have any number of fun tank decorations to interact with.
Bearded dragons have some variety to their diet. These lizards require veggies in their diet daily. Dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and bok-choy are great choices in greens that should be offered often. They should be shredded into small pieces before being placed in a dish in your dragon’s cage. Any variety of squash, green beans, sweet potato, or parsnip can be good occasional vegetables for your bearded dragon.
Young bearded dragons should be offered roughly 50 crickets that are no larger than the space between their eyes per day. Adults can occasionally be offered crickets dusted with calcium/vitamin D3 powder or multivitamin, roughly 2-3 times per week, to make a total of 50 crickets weekly. Zoo-Med has wonderful products to ensure the proper nutrients for your bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons acquire most of their water through their food or through bathing. Placing your lizard in a sink or bathtub with some water in it to a level that they can stand in is ideal. This should be done 2-3 times per week for about 15 minutes. Bearded dragons love the water but will often defecate in it so make sure your dragon is soaking in an easily cleaned area! These baths will also help them shed easier when growing.
Health Problems
If your bearded dragon is acting abnormal, has diarrhea or is not defecating, has loss of energy, or swelling of its limbs, contact Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD right away. These can be signs of various diseases and should be addressed by a veterinarian.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Small Angels Rescue

KAH's assistant, Sam's guinea pigs Roderick and Hawke.
 If you are looking to adopt a small animal, such as a gerbil, guinea pig, chinchilla, mouse, hamster, or rat look no further than Small Angels Rescue. Founded in the fall of 2003, Small Angels Rescue is based out of Frederick, Maryland, and assists animal shelters in the greater Washington D.C., metropolitan area.

Since October of 2003, Small Angels has rescued over 2,000 animals and they adopt out about 40 animals per month. Small Angels gives priority to animals that are scheduled to be euthanized, giving them another chance at finding a loving home. Small Angels is only composed of volunteers (they have no paid staff) that are all dedicated to the care and adoption of their furry little fosters. They do not have a shelter and are reliant on fosters to house their many animals. Consequently, they are always looking for fosters.
Dr. Davis examining Geronimo the mouse.
Fosters provide the animals with the daily care they require, as well as socialization and veterinary care, if needed.  In return, Small Angels provides full coverage of approved medical expenses, cages and supplies, as needed, free and discounted food and bedding, as well as a free membership. Small Angels does their best to find their adopters an animal that fits their lifestyle. Although they do not have a shelter for you to visit the animals, they have regular adoption events at the Frederick Petco every other Saturday from 10 am to noon.

Don’t forget, if you decide to adopt an animal from Small Angels Rescue, our veterinarians here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital see all kinds of exotics! If you are interested in becoming a foster, adopting an animal, or you want more information- CLICK HERE!