Kingsbrook Animal Hospital's Blog: 2014

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?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Help! How do I Keep My Cat Out of the Christmas Tree?

Getting ready for the holidays and about to put your Christmas tree up? Keep in mind that the tree makes a tempting target for many curious cats. Here are some tips on how to pet-proof your Christmas tree.

Cat in Christmas treeConsider the type of tree to buy

When it comes to buying a Christmas tree, I prefer and love real trees. After all, they fill our house with the holiday smells of evergreen. However, keep in mind that if you have cats, real trees are much more tempting. Not only are real trees fragrant and the pine needles more fun to chew on (thankfully, rarely poisonous) but the tree trunk is perfect for scratching and climbing. Consider an artificial tree (after all, less trees are cut down and thrown away, right?). If you do get a real tree, avoid one that is very tall, as a tall tree would be more likely to topple.

Placement of the Christmas tree

Looking for the right spot to put your Christmas tree? Make sure you have plenty of free space on all sides of the tree so your cat doesn’t have a launching point (i.e., jumping off point) to attack the tree! Ideally, place it in an area with an equal amount of free space as the height of the tree (i.e., if the tree is 8 feet tall, consider leaving an 8 foot berth around it).
Securing the Crhistmas tree
Make sure you use a sturdy base to secure the trunk. While these bases are ugly, it beats having your tree topple over. (Simply wrap the base with felt or a tree skirt to hide it.) Also, consider securing the tree from the top (to a ceiling hook) for additional bracing and support.

Pet-proofing the Christmas tree

Here are a few ways to pet-proof your Christmas tree:
  • When watering your real tree, consider wrapping the base with plastic wrap so your cat doesn’t drink the fertilizer or chemicals. (Don’t worry, these are rarely poisonous but can cause gastrointestinal upset.)
  • If you have a real tree, wrap the base of the trunk with aluminum foil. As cats hate the crinkling sound and texture of foil, they are less likely to scratch on the tree trunk. Also, by wrapping the tree trunk with foil you hopefully prevent the initial climb.
  • Avoid dangling ornaments on the bottom 5th of the tree; place ornaments high up on the tree and make sure they are well secured (try twisty ties or zip ties to secure ornaments).
  • Never use tinsel in a household with cats. While tinsel isn’t poisonous, when accidentally swallowed by cats, it can get stuck around the base of the tongue or in the stomach, and result in a life-threatening linear foreign body. This can require expensive surgery to fix, so avoid this holiday emergency by not using any tinsel on your tree this year.
  • If you have a young, curious kitten, make sure to hide the electrical cords for the Christmas lights as best you can. When accidentally bitten, they can result in severe burns in the mouth and even rare fluid accumulation within the lungs (e.g., noncardiogenic pulmonary edema). Hide cords, and consider spraying them with Bitter Apple to prevent chewing. Also, make sure to turn off the Christmas lights and unplug the cords when cats are unsupervised.
When in doubt, avoid a holiday emergency trip to the veterinarian and keep your household safe during this holiday!

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, December 9, 2014

'Tis the Season for Giving...and Saying THANKS!!!

     We spend the holidays reflecting on things we are thankful for and giving gifts to friends, loved ones and those less fortunate than ourselves.  I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to those that have given me a gift in 2014.  The gift of your time.  The gift of your skills and creativity.  The gift of your generosity.  The gift of your support.
     The Veterinarians and staff of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital started the Kylie and Cricket Memorial Fund after I lost my two beloved Basenjis in a house fire.  The outpouring of support I received from the Kingsbrook Animal Hospital family (bosses, co-workers, friends and clients) was overwhelming.  That compassion still thrives today in the support of the fund.

     Now it is time for me to show my appreciation to those who have supported the fund.

THANK YOU to the veterinarians and team members of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital for volunteering your time and creativity to plan events to raise money and awareness for the fund. Vet Academy is in it's third year and Flat KAH, the Haunted Hospital and Santa Pictures were a great success!

THANK YOU  to Angie Zeger for making Paracord bracelets and donating raffle items to
raise money and awareness for the fund.  Donation total to date $1033.00.

THANK YOU  to Vicki Baker for donating a raffle basket to raise money and awareness of the fund.  Donation total to date $228.00.
THANK YOU  to Cynthia Balzer for making stained glass paw print ornaments to raise money and awareness of the fund.  Donation total to date $200.00.

THANK YOU  to Kimberly McKinney for donating a portion of her profits of her new Thirty-One business and bringing awareness to the fund.
THANK YOU  to Cyndi Anderson, owner of Country Rabbit Crafters, for donating a
portion of her holiday candle sales for the month of December and bringing awareness to the fund.


THANK YOU  to our friends and clients for your participation in the above events and
fundraisers, and for your generous monetary donations to the fund.

THANK YOU  from the bottom of my heart for allowing us to keep Kylie and Cricket's
memory alive by providing for those animals who have not found their forever homes...YET.

Written by Ranee Baker RVT 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pets Best releases list of bizarre holiday pet insurance claims

Pets Best releases list of bizarre holiday pet insurance claims

With the winter holiday season right around the corner, Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC, has released its annual list of the most bizarre pet insurance claims submitted during the holiday season.
Costly Croissants
For many, baking is a holiday tradition. From breads to decadent desserts, there’s usually something special in the oven during the holiday season. A 2-year-old Siberian husky named Zoey really bit off more than she could chew when she decided to eat a whole box of frozen croissants. Due to the high amount of yeast in bread dough, a veterinarian induced vomiting and monitored Zoey for hypoglycemia and signs of ethanol toxicity. After a short hospitalization, Zoey was well enough to return to her terrible twos in the comfort of her own home.
Not-So-Cozy Slippers
The arrival of cold winter weather requires most people to pull out cozy blankets, warm robes and fuzzy slippers. Teddy, a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees, has always been a fan of shoes, but there was something extra enticing about those suede, fur-lined slippers his owner pulled out of the closet. Teddy gave in to his temptations and ended up in the hospital after digesting the top of his owner’s slipper. Teddy showed signs of blockage, and during his hospital stay, he experienced bouts of vomiting, producing large and small pieces of slipper. 
Holiday Meal Mishap
Turkey is commonly served during the holiday season, and for one mischievous 7-year-old Labrador retriever mix named Darsha, it was the meal of a lifetime. Once her family was finished with its Thanksgiving meal and had moved on to clearing the table one item at a time, Darsha made her move. She lunged at what was left of the golden turkey carcass sitting on the edge of the dining room table and devoured the entire carcass within seconds. The result was an emergency visit to the vet clinic for evaluations and diagnostics. Darsha made it home that evening with medication and a relieved family.
Sugar Cookie Surprise
When the holiday season ended, it was time for Lily, a 5-year-old Maltipoo, and her parents to prepare for their journey home. The suitcases were packed and ready to load into the car when Lily smelled something delicious inside the front zipper of her parents’ bag. Lily ripped open the flap and found two dozen, homemade sugar cookies. Luckily, she was caught in the act of devouring them. Due to the high concentrations of sugar and fat in sugar cookies, they can cause upset stomach and pancreatitis among dogs. Foods with high sugar content can also cause an osmotic effect in dogs’ gastrointestinal tract by drawing water into the colon, resulting in diarrhea. Lily was rushed to the veterinary hospital for a thorough evaluation, which resulted in a medically induced vomiting. Once the cookies were out of her system and Lily was cleared to leave, she and her parents were able to finally head home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Maintaining a Senior Pet

Hi, my name is Sophie.  My Mom and Dad call me The Bear Cub, but Sophie will do just fine.  I’m gonna be 13 years old soon, and I have to say that my parents have done a great job keeping me feeling young and spunky.  I get to see my good pal Dr. Cook at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD at least twice a year for wellness exams, sometimes more if my joints are bothering me, and he monitors my liver values with annual blood work.  

My Mom feeds me Hill’s J/D which is formulated to nourish my cartilage and provide an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acid.  I get glucosamine supplements called Dasuquin every day and an injectable glucosamine supplement twice a month called Adequan.  Those sure have made a positive difference in my mobility over the years!  Mommy also gives me this yummy tablet every morning called Denamarin which has significantly regulated my elevated liver enzymes.  

I’m no stranger to having my teeth cleaned - I get to spend a whole day every year with one of the lovely technicians at KAH having my teeth scaled and polished to prevent periodontal disease. In between my cleanings, my Daddy likes to give me CET Chews and Greenies.  He says they keep my mouth healthy and make my breath smell super!

Written by Megan Stone (as told to her by Sophie)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Osteoarthritis Management-What is available for my senior pet?

Osteoarthritis is defined as degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, most common from middle age onward. It causes pain and stiffness, especially in the hip and knee joints. Osteoarthritis hurts!  I know because I have it.  Some days the pain is tolerable.  Other days it is not.  I have the ability to say that I am not feeling well.  Our pets are not able to tell us when they are experiencing pain.

As pets age, wear and tear on the joints cause inflammation and arthritis.  Your pet may walk slower.  You may notice that they seem stiff when getting up from a laying down position or may groan with the effort.  They may not jump up on the bed or into the car as easily as they used to. They may seem lethargic on rainy days.  You may notice some limping on occasion.  Although these are signs of getting older, they are not normal and there are treatments available.

The veterinarians at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital are well versed in pain management.  They can make recommendations based on your pet and it's lifestyle.  There are many options available for osteoarthritis management.  Here are a few:

Hill's Prescription J/D diet is formulated for joint health.  The ratio of fatty acids in the diet help to reduce inflammation.  It also includes glucosamine and chondroitin which are nutraceuticals that are found in normal cartilage and tendons.  The addition of these agents helps to relieve joint pain and restore cartilage.

Dausaquin is a once daily glucosamine/chondroitin supplement.  It comes in a flavored, chewable tablet for dogs.  It comes in a capsule form for cats that can be opened and sprinkled on the food.

Welactin is a high-potency natural salmon oil supplement. Welactin can be mixed with food, and is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids which have beneficial effects on the joints, skin, heart, kidneys and immune system.

Adequan (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is a prescription,  polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG) that helps prevent the cartilage in your dog’s joint from wearing away. It helps keep the cartilage healthy and intact, so that the bone in the joint cannot touch other bones.

NSAID's or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescription medications that are used to treat inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

If your pet is showing signs of osteoarthritis, call our office in Frederick, MD at 301-631-6900 for an appointment.  We will be glad to help you keep your pet healthy and comfortable into it's senior years.

By: Ranee Baker RVT

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why are physical exams recommended biannually for pets 8 years and older?

We all know that our pets don’t live as long as we’d like them to. Just like people, their bodies’ age and regular check-ups and health screenings become a recommendation. For humans, our senior years start between 56 and 60 years of age. Our pets, however, reach senior status at 6-8 years of age, depending on species and breed. At this point, they are between 50 and 57 years old in human years, and your veterinarian will start recommending semi-annual examinations every 6 months.

Older pets can develop the same health problems as older people, including joint or bone disease, senility, kidney disease, and diabetes. Unfortunately, our pets cannot tell us if anything hurts; many early signs of disease are very subtle and may not be something you, as a pet owner, notice. Increasing your pet’s examinations to a semi-annual basis helps you and your veterinarian detect signs of illness and other problems sooner, so we can diagnose earlier and begin treatment.

Even though our pets don’t live forever, semi-annual examinations with your veterinarian at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital may help to not only prolong their life, but also maximize their health and well-being so that the time you get to spend with your beloved animal is as wonderful and pain-free as possible.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My journey as a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Frederick, MD

My decision to go back to school to study Veterinary Technology came in my late 20’s after deciding mental health was not my ideal career choice.  I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 years at Northern Virginia Community College and had an affinity for the information I learned.  My draw to the profession came from a life of being around horses.  Riding was my passion as a child and young adult and during the 2 years I was in school in VA I had the very fortunate opportunity of working at the Marion Dupont Scott Equine Medical Center in the nursing department.  I learned so much about horse health in my time there and gained a much better appreciation of my relationships with horses when I came from the point of reference of caregiver.  It gave me the ability to take the best care of the horse I had been with since I was 10 years old and ultimately had the pleasure of owning for the last 6 years of his life. 

After graduating from the technician program and passing my national board exam I decided I needed a more “normal” schedule and started working at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital.  After 14 years in the same clinic I have to say I am so fortunate to have found my way here.  My experiences here has shaped me as a professional and a person.  I am so lucky to work with a group of doctors and veterinary professionals that have such dedication to what they do and practice kind and thoughtful medicine.  My experiences as a seasoned technician include anesthesia monitoring, patient care, radiology, dentistry, nutritional counseling, client education, performing diagnostic tests, phlebotomy (drawing blood samples) and intravenous catheter placement.   The diversity of my tasks and my patients keeps my life at work very interesting and non-static.  There is always the opportunity to learn and experience something new, even if you have been in the field for many years.

It is a great feeling to be 17 years into a career and still have a passion for it.  I am motivated to stay in this line of work based on my experiences thus far.  I attribute this outlook to Kingsbrook Animal Hospital.  All employers are not created equally.  My veterinarians appreciate my contribution to the health care team and utilize me to my fullest potential.  This mind set on their part has left me open to learn and grow and feel very useful and productive in my work.  

Being a licensed veterinary technician is very rewarding, but can also be very emotionally taxing.  Relationships people have with their pets are very personal and heart felt.  In helping people care for their pets, especially in critical times, we learn our most important job is helping our clients cope with the stress and heartache of seeing their loved one ill.  I greatly appreciate the relationships I have built with owners over the years in helping them care for their pets.

My chosen profession is one I am very grateful for.  I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Written by Nora McKay-Clark RVT

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Katie- newly graduated from tech school, about to sit for national boards

Ever since I was a child, I have always known that I wanted to work with animals and my family can attest to the fact that I tried to adopt or find homes for every sick or stray animal I encountered.  I had the opportunity, shortly after graduating high school, to work in an animal shelter and to intern at a vet clinic in Hagerstown.  It was during that point that I decided I wanted to be a veterinary technician.  I was in awe of everything the technicians could do!  I was also anxious to work in a field where it was not to late to help an animal, which was unfortunately often the case at the Humane Society.  I decided to go to Wilson college and get a four year degree in veterinary medical technology.  I graduated this past spring, and I am anxiously waiting to take my boards to become licensed in November!  
I have been so fortunate to find a home at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD!  The veterinarians not only appreciate the skill set that has been devloped and practiced for the four years of my schooling, and also truly value the education in which I have invested.  I love being in a field where continuing education is not only encouraged, but required as we all know how the veterinary field can change and evolve.  Here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital compassionate, knowledge care is at the heart of everything we do, and I get to work in a field where I learn something new everyday.  
Written by Katie Bruner

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tiffanie’s Adventure in Veterinary Medicine

My love for animals started long before I can even remember and as soon as I was old enough to understand what jobs were…I knew I wanted to work with animals.  My career in veterinary medicine started in Yokosuka, Japan in 1998 where I worked as a volunteer at the Veterinary Treatment Facility and was Vice President of the local animal shelter.  In Japan, at the time, the stray cat population was three times worse than anywhere in the world.  Taking care of all of the stray cats that came through the shelter and assisting in there medical treatment and surgery just solidified that this was the career choice for me.  I realized then that I could make a difference in the lives of animals and in the lives of the humans that loved them just as much as I did.

After leaving Japan in 2001, I moved to New Jersey and worked in general practice at an animal hospital not far from the military base I lived on.  In New Jersey, we treated a lot of dogs that were associated with dog fighting.  Client education and patient advocating was an important part of what I learned in New Jersey.  From New Jersey, I moved to Italy.  It was a challenge to get a job in Italy, but I ended up at the Veterinary Treatment Facility in Naples, in addition to working at an outdoor recreation center.  In Italy, I learned that preventative medicine changes depending on the country you live in.  There was so much to learn, and I wanted to know more and more about what my career choice had to teach me.

My military travels ended in Italy in 2003 and I found my way back to Maryland.  I started working at an animal hospital in College Park just a few days after arriving back in Maryland, and was there for a couple years.  I then moved to another hospital in Silver Spring, and then Gaithersburg.  I stayed at the animal hospital in Gaithersburg for seven years, where I learned a lot about alternative medicine.  It was there, that I decided to become licensed and started taking classes in 2006.  I have been taking classes since, and am nearing the end of my certification.  It has been quite a challenge working full time, taking care of my family, and going to school…but I am determined to finish.
My love and passion for the veterinary profession is what ultimately brought me to Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, Maryland.  At Kingsbrook, I have found a team of people that share the same feelings that I have for the job that I love to do.  They encourage me every day and support my efforts in obtaining my license.  I am so fortunate to work with such a great group of people and look forward to years to come.

Written by Tiffanie Thayer

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What is a veterinary technician anyway?

 A RVT is a registered veterinary technician.  While having a strong love of animals is why most of us found our way into this profession, there is a lot more to it then that.

They are educated and knowledgeable.
 They have graduated from a 2 or 4 year AVMA-accredited school and has taken and passed the VTNE (a national test) and Maryland boards.  Once ‘registered,’ they must complete 24 credit hours of continuing education every three years to maintain their license. 

What can a vet tech do?
Our vet techs perform a wide range of duties. It is actually easier to define what they can’t do instead! Legally, they can do everything EXCEPT perform surgery, offer prognosis and diagnosis, and write prescriptions.

On any given day, an RVT at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital wears many hats.

Vet techs are… radiology technicians.
Vet techs are… dieticians.
Vet techs are… anesthesiologists.
Vet techs are… dental hygienists.
Vet techs are… paramedics.
Vet techs are… grief counselors.

Why are KAH techs the best in Frederick!?

At least 5 of our techs have 10 or more years of experience.  6 of our technicians travel over 40 minutes to work each day.  They pass a number of other clinics to work at KAH because we have the best group of people to work with!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Puppy Socialization in Frederick, MD

New puppy? They're so cute, so much fun, and ... so frustrating sometimes! With house training, nipping, stealing, crate training, barking, and all the other things that come with puppyhood, it can feel like you're in over your head.
Puppies are like sponges for about a month or two after they come to live with you (8 - 16 weeks old). Your pup needs to learn good habits now or else he'll learn bad ones. And believe me, it's a lot easier for you (and the pup) if you teach him what he needs to know now rather than wait 'til you're pulling your hair out due to his troublesome behaviors.
Puppy training classes can go a long way to helping you survive puppyhood and to helping you have that well-behaved dog of your dreams. Find a training class that has a small class enrollment, that teaches with force-free, positive reinforcement (clicker) training, and taught by a qualified trainer.
After your veterinarian has seen your pup, deemed him or her healthy, and started the initial series of vaccinations, you are ready to start puppy training! Ideally, bring your dog to puppy school as soon as possible, and get as many classes under his belt before he's 16 weeks old. That's when the socialization window closes. Imagine you're working with clay and making a bowl. If you mold the clay when it's pliable and elastic, creating the exact bowl you want is quite simple. But as the clay gets older and dries out, it's impossible to form the clay into any shape other than the original. That's what the socialization window is like -- your pup needs to get out and experience puppy class each week until he's 16 weeks old.

By: Laurie Luck

If you are interested in structured puppy classes check out Smart Dog University by clicking HERE.  Laurie Luck is a certified pet dog trainer and uses positive reinforcement techniques to help you train your pup.  She teaches classes at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in the evenings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My personal behavior challenge with Basil

As a veterinarian, I have lots of experience with dogs!  I love them.  I live with them.  I work with them.  And I thought I understood a lot about their behavior until Basil became a member of my family.  But all individuals are different and my beagle is no exception.  I adopted Basil as a rescue at 8 weeks of age, and she immediately made it known that she was a special needs kind of puppy.  I was unable to put her in a crate.  And house training a puppy, as well as keeping it safe, without a crate is a 24 hour a day challenge.  Not only did she hate it, but she had a complete panic attack.  I, too, had a panic attack and placed an emergency call to Laurie Luck at Smart Dog University.  

With her help and encouragement I started training.  Very, very slowly I was able to get Basil to walk into the crate for a special treat, and then to go in for her meals.  I worked to close the door and have her sit quietly in the crate as long as I stayed in the room beside her.  And finally I was able to move to the opposite side of the room and even out of sight.  It was a long 6 weeks before Basil was able to be left home alone for even 1 hour.  
It's been a year now.  Basil runs to her crate as soon as I get out her special yummy kong.  She is comfortable staying home alone for 6 hours or longer.  And she will seek out her crate for a nap when she is really tired.  I am still unable to crate her at anyone else's house so vacation or travel is extremely difficult.  Basil, her anxiety, and her comfort are a work in progress and hopefully her 2 year report will be even better.  Anyone experiencing similar struggles can contact Kingsbrook Animal Hospital for sympathy and support! 
By Dr Adrienne Cardella

PS:  Basil is super cuddly and we love her like crazy!!

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!