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No Bones About Joints

The most common problem with middle age to senior dogs and cats is arthritis or some type of joint problem. Just like people our pet’s need help taking care of their joints. Today, I want to share important facts and pointers on how to  keep our pet’s joints healthy.

Did You Know?

  • Dogs have about 319 individual bones
    • Bones will vary in size and shape depending upon the breed.
  • Cats have about 244 individual bones
    • The number of bones will vary depending upon the length of their tail.
  • Unlike humans, who walk on the soles of their feet, cats and dogs walk on their toes.
  • While humans carry all of their weight on their hips, dogs carry 75 percent of their weight on their shoulders and front legs.
  • In cats, the collar bone is small and may even be absent:
    • If present, the collar bone is not attached to the main skeleton, which helps to narrow the chest to allow the animal to keep its legs and feet close together and offers increased flexibility and the ability to fit in tight spaces.
    • This also enables the front legs to better absorb the shock of landing.
  • The musculoskeletal system works together to provide stability and skeletal tightness, but in a cat, this system is less tightly connected, which helps to provide for their extreme flexibility!

Become Familiar with The Basics:

Musculoskeletal System

The joints are a part of the musculoskeletal system, which also consists of bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles. This system has three general purposes:

  • Support the weight of the body
  • Maintain body position
  • Produce controlled movements


When two bones come together they meet at the joint and provide for the range of motion in the skeletal system.

  • Most joints have a cushioning pad of cartilage that works to protect the bones from the friction caused by everyday movement.
  • When damaged by joint stress or trauma, these pads may deteriorate and inflame joint surfaces to cause pain and decrease mobility.
  • Damage to the cartilage or structures in the joint often results in arthritis, a painful joint disease which is treatable, but has no cure, and typically progresses over time.
  • Some joint issues are related to genetics.

Growth Plates and Young Puppies

What is a Growth Plate?  Growth plates are soft areas that sit at the ends of the long bones in puppies and kittens.

Growth Plates  contain rapidly dividing cells that allow bones to become longer.  Growth plates normally close or fuse as a pet matures.   In puppies, this closure is normally completed by approximately 12-18 months old.

Until the growth plates close, they’re soft and vulnerable to injury. Puppies and kittens that jump from high places or for toys can cause stress on the growth plates.

 Injury to a growth plate can result in a misshapen or shortened limbs which, in turn, can create an incorrect angle to a joint which can make the puppy more prone to yet more injuries or arthritis when he grows up.

4       Tips for Maintaining Joint Health and Reducing Joint Issues

#1.  Overweight animals are more likely to develop joint problems

  • Veterinarians can provide answers to questions regarding a pet’s appropriate weight.
  • Consult with your veterinarian about a pet’s dietary needs, for example:
    • Young animals need a diet balanced for the age and breed.
    • Unbalanced diets that cause the animal to grow too quickly can lead to excessive stress on cartilage and may cause future joint issues.
    • Diets with an imbalance in the calcium to phosphorous ratio in growing animals can result in metabolic bone diseases which will affect joint health.
    • Older animals need a diet that is nutritionally balanced for their age, and one that helps to maintain good body condition and weight.
  • Dietary supplements
    • Consult with a veterinarian about the possible need for a supplement that supports joint health and mobility in your pet, such as: Feline RJ+, Vitality Joint Support, Dasuquin, Rejuvenate Plus
      • Glucosamine: supports joint health, increases mobility and decreases pain.
      • Omega 3 fatty acids: helps to ease joint pain by reducing inflammation.
  • Exercise
    • Consult with a veterinarian to establish an exercise regimen that:
      • Looks at the pet’s current overall health.
      • Considers the pet’s issues with joint pain, arthritis and overall health.
      • Promotes an exercise plan that is appropriate for the pet; for example, moderate and low-impact exercise like walking and swimming for older animals.
  • Help reduce joint strain
    • Everyday movements, such as jumping and climbing, can cause joint strain. Here are 3 things to do to prevent joint strain for the pet:
      • Consider using pet ramps or pet stairs for getting on/off of beds and couches, and in/out of vehicles.
      • Cover floors with rugs or carpet to protect the pet from injuries caused by slipping.
      • Provide the pet with a place to rest that helps to keep joints warm.

Not all joint issues are preventable, but keeping your pet at the right weight and in good body condition will definitely help to avoid some. Maintaining a good diet and providing the proper exercise can reduce the amount of discomfort they could otherwise experience if they suffered from poor joint health issues.

To Your Pet’s Good Health,


Dr. Barry



Sep 25, 2017 10:57:57 AM By Barry Miller Arthritis & Joint Health,

Tips on How To Live With An Incontinent Pet

Even when under the most watchful eyes, puppies may soil in the house. Until they have full control of their bladder and have figured out the importance of house training, accidents are bound to happen! Fortunately, most pups quickly figure out what they need to do. Why then, several years down the road, do we see signs that these same dogs seem to have forgotten what they learned? Urinary incontinence is a condition that can affects dogs of all ages, breeds, or gender. Most commonly observed in spayed females that are middle-aged and older, incontinence can cause health problems that require veterinary attention.

The first signs of urinary incontinence may include:

1. Wetting the bedding or floor where animal has been sleeping
2. Dribbling of urine
3. Increase in frequency of urinating
4. Voiding bladder when excited or stressed.

The initial signs of incontinence are sometimes overlooked. It can be easy to excuse away urinary mishaps, or we may incorrectly assume our pet was not been let out in time. However, incontinence won’t just go away. As the condition progresses, pet owners who may not have been aware of the issue in the beginning will soon recognize that their pet does indeed have a problem. It is important that pet owners of pets know that the symptoms indicate a need to bring their pet in for an examination.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

#1. Age

  • When incontinence symptoms are observed only occasionally, such as when the animal has been sleeping, the cause may be related to the animal’s age and attributed to:
  • Weakened muscle tone of the urethral sphincter
  • Lowered estrogen levels or hormonal imbalance
  • Treatment:
    • Prescribed medication that works to increase the muscle tone of the urethral sphincter, such as phenylpropanolamine
    • Neutered male dogs also respond to being given testosterone

 #2. Illness

    • Certain diseases cause excessive water consumption which increases the animal’s production of urine as well as their need to urinate, and include:
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney disease
    • Cushing’s disease
    • Underlying conditions
      • Examples:
      • Bladder or urinary tract infections
      • Urinary stones
      • Spinal injury
      • Spine degeneration
      • Prostate disorders
      • Protruding intervertebral disc
      • Congenital abnormalities
  • Treatment:
    • Can be difficult, but may include:
    • Long-term catheterization
    • Antibiotics
    • Drugs that act on the function of the bladder
  • When the symptoms are related to Kidney Failure or Cushings Disease, the implications of the disease require much more than providing a treatment for incontinence

#3. Stress

  • When a dog shows signs of a loss of bladder control when in scary or tense situations, it be stress incontinence. Found to occur more often in younger animals, most will outgrow the condition. See Tip#6. below for tips on treating this condition.

What Your Veterinarian Will Need to Know:

Without knowing the exact cause, incontinence may be difficult to treat. Clients should be prepared to provide their veterinarian with the answers to such questions as the following:

  • When did the symptoms first appear?
  • Do the symptoms occur all the time or just on occasion?
  • Does the animal dribble as it walks? Or on where it sits and sleeps?
  • Does it seem to occur only when relaxed or when excited?
  • Is there anything unusual about the urine? Strange color or odor?
  • Does the animal seem to have difficulty urinating? Does it posture as usual?
  • Has the dog been drinking more water than usual?
  • Has the dog always signaled its need to go outside?
  • Has the animal’s need to go outside changed in frequency or in urgency?
  • Does the animal want to go outside?
  • Are there any other unfamiliar signs?

Tips on How to Live With An Incontinent Pet

Living with an incontinent dog will require extra effort on your part. The following tips may be helpful.

Tip #1. Monitor your pet’s condition closely, watch for any changes that may signal the start of a disease, such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency in urinating needs


Tip #2. Provide proper hygiene. When keeping the dog clean, watch for developing signs of:

  • Urine scalding
  • Skin infections


Tip #3. Living area cleanliness is absolutely necessary for the health and comfort of the animal.

  • Place waterproof pads under the dog’s bedding to absorb urine
  • Layer clean blankets, towels or sheets on the animal’s sleeping spot, changing frequently
  • To protect furniture and carpets, use doggie diapers


Tip #4. Increase the number of walks per day, make sure to the get animal outside quickly as soon as it wakes from sleeping.

Tip #5. Under no circumstances should the animal’s access to its water bowl be removed or limited.

Tip #6. If the animal experiences stress incontinence, apply behavioral modification techniques such as the following:

  • Avoid bending over the animal
  • Do not make direct eye contact
  • Keep stressful interactions brief and to a minimum
  • If possible, work with a canine behaviorist
  • Use stress hormone products such as Stress Away,  Adaptil Collars and Spray and Feliway

Tip#7 If you are concerned with the wear and tear on your home use the following products to assist you in cleaning up.  Urine Away Odour Remover and a Urine Finder Flashlight. to gently remove the harshness and smell of urine from your pet try using AOE wipes & spray and F.O.N. spray.

 I have lived with a pet with urinary incontinence, I know it can be frustrating. It will be important to discuss your pet’s incontinence with your Veterinarian.  And they can help you determine if it is a symptom that can be easily treated or a symptom of a serious illness.

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry


Sep 12, 2017 2:20:33 PM By Barry Miller urinary-incontinence-dogs, Urinary,

Summer Fruits and Vegetables That are Pet Friendly

I have heard of enclosing a vegetable garden to keep wildlife from nibbling on the produce. My brother-in-law had a garden raider that would steal produce before it could be picked or while it was being picked. This garden raider had developed a strong liking for cucumbers and strawberries. Their garden thief was surprisingly their rescue dog named “Spooks”. He would meander in the garden and eat a cucumber or strawberry before they had a chance to pick them or while it was being picked he would sneak up and steal one. And then there are those of you that have plate raiders. You may have a pet that sits patiently waiting for something off of your plate to nibble on. “It’s just so difficult to ignore those pleading eyes!”  However your pet may acquire human food it is important to know which foods are pet friendly.

This helpful list features people-healthy fruits and vegetables that can also be offered as safe treats for dogs!

Fruits and Vegetables that Make Good Dog Treats


  • Not only do apples provide vitamins A and C, they are also low in protein and fat which makes them good snacks for overweight, sedentary, and senior dogs
  • Remember to remove the core and seeds before offering as a snack


  • High in vitamins, fiber, and potassium, yet low in cholesterol and sodium, bananas are good for dogs and most find them delicious
  • Because they have a high sugar content, clients should be advised that even though their pup begs for more, bananas should only be given as a treat


  • Beneficial in so many ways, blueberries are good for dogs
  • Full of fiber and rich in antioxidants, blueberries are a healthy treat choice


  • Raw broccoli is good for a dog, but only the stem
  • The head and florets contain a toxin which can cause gastrointestinal problems
  • The stem, however, contains plenty of fiber and vitamin C, and is also good for helping to maintain clean teeth


  • Known to freshen breath, celery contains the nutrients the body needs to fight cancer, and support heart health
  • Celery is also full of vitamins A, B, and C, and many dogs enjoy it as a treat topped with peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Be careful when feeding a dog celery as it can be a choking hazard. Make sure the bites are sized appropriately and that the dog chews the celery well.


  • When used as a snack, cucumbers can provide a dog with vitamins B1, C, and K, and also supplements the diet with copper, magnesium, and potassium
  • This vegetable is considered good for overweight dogs as it is capable of boosting energy levels and has relatively no carbohydrates, fats, or oils


  • While the taste of oranges may not appeal to all dogs, oranges are safe to use as a treat and are full of vitamin C
  • Outside of the seeds, a dog can eat the entire fruit; however, you should remove the peel as it can be difficult to digest


  • The skin of the pear is its healthiest part, so wash the fruit, but leave its skin intact
  • It only takes a few chunks to provide a dog with beneficial vitamins C and K, copper and fiber
  • IMPORTANT!  Be sure to remove the pit and pear seeds as the seeds contain small traces of cyanide which is capable of making a dog ill


  • Once fresh pineapple is trimmed and cored it makes a really nice treat
  • Full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, pineapple also contains bromelain, an enzyme that supports a dog’s ability to absorb proteins


  • With their high iron content, potatoes are a good treat to give to dogs every once in a while
  • When raw they can cause stomach distress so be advised to always cook them first
  • Any time potatoes are offered as a treat, they should be plain, not topped with butter and seasonings as most people enjoy


  • One of the most popular summer fruits, fresh strawberries are chock full of vitamins and fiber, and can be used as a treat for dogs
  • Strawberries have a high sugar content and so they should be given to a pet in moderation

Sweet Potatoes

  • Full of fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins B-6 and C, dogs benefit from a treat of sweet potatoes
  • Before being given to a dog, their preparation should be completed in the same way as regular potatoes, cooked and unseasoned


  • As long as the rind and seeds are removed, watermelon can be offered as a safe choice for dog treats
  • Full of nutrients, with no fat or cholesterol, its high water content also provides a way to help keep a dog hydrated on hot days


For your pet, sneaking a fresh picked fruit or vegetable directly from the garden may be the best treat. One of the simplest forms of dog treats using fruits and vegetables is to freeze them. Here are two recipes that your pet will enjoy:

Frozen Apple

Slice two apples, removing the seeds and the core, then chop up and throw in a blender. Add a cup of plain Greek yogurt and a splash of water, then blend, pour in an ice tray, freeze, 

Frozen Yogurt Strawberries

Fresh strawberries (with the greens cut off, of course), dipped in plain yogurt. That’s it!

Use a fork to do the dipping, then lay on parchment paper and freeze.

Remember that there is a difference between offering a dog a treat and providing their meal. Regardless of the benefit provided by eating fruits or vegetables, feeding too much may reduce your dog’s nutritional intake if the quantity of treats interferes with their natural hunger response to eat their specially balanced regular diet.

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry


Aug 28, 2017 1:52:39 PM By Barry Miller general information nutrition, General Information,


Approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year. The vast majority of them are crossbred or mixed breed. Each year, approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized. When you bring a mixed breed or mutt into your home you may well be saving a life.

So What Makes a Mutt a Mutt?


The genetic makeup of a dog is determined by its parents, for instance:

  • Purebred dogs have parents that are both of the same breed. For example, the father is pure poodle, and the mother is pure poodle.
  • Crossbred dogs have parents that are purebred, but they are of different breeds. For example, if the father is pure Labrador, and the mother is pure poodle, the puppies will be a cross between the two, a Labrador/Poodle.
  • Crossbred dogs can also have one parent that is purebred and the other that is crossbred. For example, if the father is a cross between a Labrador and Poodle and the mother is a purebred poodle, the puppies are still a cross of just two breeds, Labrador/poodle, and are still considered crossbred.
  • Mixed breed dogs, or mutts, have more than 2 breeds in their genetic make-up, sometimes even more than 3 or 4! For example, if the father is a cross between a Labrador and poodle and the mother is a German shepherd, the puppies have more than two breeds in their makeup (Labrador/Poodle/German Shepherd) and are considered mixed breed


Knowing for certain how a mixed breed pup will act as an adult can be difficult to determine while most purebred animals exhibit the personality and physical characteristics true to their breed, some of these dogs don’t. Even when the parents are known, it can be difficult to tell which genes and traits they will pass on to their offspring.


The temperament and behavior of mutts tends to be less of an extreme than in a purebred animal. Out of preference to retain the qualities of the pure line, breeding purebred animals often produces puppies that have specific temperaments and behaviors. Certain traits define a dog’s breed, for example:

  • Border collies are herding dogs, and they tend to be very focused and energetic.
  • Certain hounds are hunting dogs that may have a strong prey drive, and chasing or digging instincts.

While a mutt may not be the best choice if the animal is wanted to perform a specific behavior that is often used to identify a breed, they tend to be more flexible when in settings and situations that requires them to adjust to change and to fit in with the lifestyles of their humans.


This is a question commonly asked by clients. There are a lot of possible breeds to choose from, and many have similar characteristics. Unless the parents are known, it is almost impossible to be absolutely certain of the breed combination of a mutt just by looking at the dog. However, there is a way to find out!

There are many companies that will test the DNA of a dog in order to determine why it looks and acts the way it does! The procedure only requires a few steps:

  • Order a kit
  • Once it arrives, using the kit’s cotton swabs, rub them on the inside of the animal’s cheek to capture the animal’s saliva, which contains its DNA
  • Seal the swabs appropriately in kit materials
  • Return the swabs to the company for testing
  • Within a short period of time, the results will be returned and the lineage of the animal will be uncovered!

The procedure is quite simple, and the results can be very interesting! You can purchase several different brands of Pet DNA test kits. We offer the Embark DNA Test kit, it is the most accurate and comprehensive test.  Click here to learn more about this test:

While genetics do play a part in what a dog will be like as it grows up, remember that the role you play in your pet’s life is just as important. Caring for your pet’s needs, training and providing it with attention will help any pet become a welcomed and wanted member of a family!

To your pet’s good health,

Dr. Barry



Jul 27, 2017 4:17:46 PM By Barry Miller general information mutt dna, General Information,

Boredom Busters and Play Safety Tips for Dogs

Playing with your pet, both old and young, is a great way to fight boredom and exercise their bodies and brains.  It’s a time that you can introduce them to different situations, sounds, and textures that they may not be used to.  In puppies and kittens, playtime is a great time to develop muscles, coordination, and trust.  And in seniors, it’s an excellent way to keep their brain active and alert.

Tips for successful play time:

  • Make sure the environment is free of distractions and supports your pet paying attention to commands so they can successfully complete the task
  • Make commands simple and achievable, building up to harder activities
  • Encourage and Praise. Do not scold during play unless your pet is doing an undesirable behavior like biting, or going to the bathroom on the floor, etc.
  • Take breaks
  • Use toys and treats as motivation and attention grabbers

Here are a few ideas for brain games that you can play with your dog.

1. Box of Fun

If you have a large box on hand, place blankets or pet bedding inside the box. Show a toy or treat to your pet, then hide the treats or toy inside the box underneath the blankets or bedding.  Your pet will enjoy the challenge of trying to find their toy or treat in this game of hide and seek. Praise your dog when they find the toy.

2. Scoring a Point

At some point in a dog or cat’s life they will be in a crate or kennel whether in your home or at a boarding facility. It can be a helpful step to learn to create a positive and playful association with their crate.  When your pet is in a happy mood bring the crate in to the play environment and leave the door open.  An open door on a crate makes a great “net” for scoring a goal.  In this game, start by picking a toy that will be kept in your pet’s kennel. Create interest in the toy or treat and play a game of fetch with it, but always have the toy land inside the crate, “scoring a goal”. Your dog will have to go inside the crate and come out. By doing this repeatedly they will begin to associate their kennel with fun, that going inside is not permanent, and it’s safe.  Additionally, making use of toys, like Kongs that allow you to place peanut butter or treats inside the toy, can help your pet learn to stay longer in the crate. You can also play a similar game of hide and seek with bedding and a reward as mentioned above in #1. 

3. Spin-Spin

Learning to spin on cue is a simple game that most puppies will pick up quickly.  This can have the added benefit of training them to spin on a towel to dry their feet when they come in from outside.  To begin this brain challenge, hold a treat in front of your puppy and make sure that they are aware it’s there. Very slowly move your hand around their side, either right or left, so that they begin to turn to follow the treat, and praise them as they move.  Continue until your puppy has moved in a complete circle, and then give the puppy the treat and praise them. If your puppy loses the scent of the treat before they complete the circle, simply begin again and move a little slower until they can build up to a complete circle.  Add your cue word at the beginning of the game such as “Spin Spin”. To add an extra challenge, you can play this going in the opposite direction.

4. Search and Rescue

For this game you will need several containers to hide a treat under; for example, flower pots, or Tupperware containers, etc. With this game your pet will learn the importance of paying attention.

Ask your puppy to sit and stay, or have a family member sit on the floor and hold them. Place three containers a short distance away, show your pet the treat or toy, and then place it under one of the containers. Pause, waiting for your pet to look directly at you, and then point to the container under which you’ve placed the treat just as the pet is released to search for it. Repeat the game, switching which container the treat is placed under. You can introduce your verbal cue when it’s time to search such as, “Go find it”. Praise your pet when they find it.

5. Make mealtime a game

Food maze bowls offer your speedy eaters and bored pets a chance to play a mind challenging game while eating their meal. As the food is placed in the maze bowl, it requires the dog to think, lick, and move the kibble to get the food out, providing a fun, challenging activity for dogs at feeding time.  This can be done inside or outside. You can buy these bowls here:

6. Go to a Dog Park

A dog park can be a wonderful place for a dog! The open area not only offers the chance to get rid of some of that pent-up energy, but it can also help to improve a pup’s social skills.

Safety is important when bringing any size or age animal to a dog park, especially if the park is to be enjoyed by animals off-leash. Look around for the following:

  • Posted rules of conduct
  • Secure fencing
  • Double-gated entry
  • Separate play areas for both large and small dogs
  • Trash cans and poop-bag dispensers
  • Clean grounds that are free of tall grass, weeds, trash, and dog waste
  • Sheltered areas
  • Water fountains that are working, clean, and dog-friendly
  • Number of dogs within the park area and behavioral characteristics of the animals
  • Dog owner attentiveness to activities and animal behaviors from within the park area.

A word about treats as a reward for play:

#1.  A general rule of thumb is treats should not account for more than 10% of your kitten’s or puppies’ calories a day, so it’s important to offer treats that are low in calories, since training often leads to multiple treats a day. Also, the calories in treats can make your puppy less hungry for their well-balanced nutrition offered at meal time.
#2.  As the veterinarian at VetApprovedRx, I recommend treats that offer well-balanced nutrition with very few ingredients and no fillers, treats that might more closely resemble a high-quality puppy food. I feel confident that all of the treats we offer are safe and healthy for your dog or cat of any age.

A low calorie treat made from real chicken is Lean Treats, and you can purchase these here:

A word about toys:

It’s best to purchase toys that are durable and made of material that is not toxic, that don’t have multiple tiny parts that can be chewed off and become choke hazards. There are many toys on the market that are made specifically for dogs and cats and are safe to use during play time.

A word of caution on older pets and puppies:

There are many positive implications of playing games with your pet; however, I advise some caution with senior pets and puppies and games that require them to jump from high surfaces, or require repeated impact on joints.

For senior pets, these games can cause pain and damage to already stressed limbs and joints. While your puppy is growing, their “growth plates” at the ends of their bones are soft, and harden once they are done growing. This growth plate area can be susceptible to damage through excessive impact. For both senior dogs and young puppies, hard exercise is not advised. There are a wide variety of games that will challenge your pet with varying degrees of difficulty. I recommend doing some research on brain stimulating games for your pet. Again, the more positive use of your pet’s energy, the less time they may spend on negative behaviors.


To Your Pet’s Good Health and Fun!

Dr. Barry


Brain Games for Puppies, Claire Arrowsmith. 2014. Firefly Books, New York.

Train Your Puppy Right. The American Kennel Club. 2012. Bow Tie Press. Irvine, California.





Jul 19, 2017 1:04:02 PM By Barry Miller boredom play safety, Behavior,

Simple Fire Safety Tips for your Pets.

When firefighters respond to a house fire, they know to look for occupants, both human and animal. While their priorities are people first, then animals, then property, responders understand how important pets are to families, and they will do what they can to safely ensure the animals are rescued


Here are some tips to reduce the risk of losing a pet to fire

  • Pet Rescue Fire Safety Stickers. These stickers are intended to be a tool to alert firefighters to the presence of pets within the home. It is very important to keep sticker information current; otherwise, valuable life-saving time may be wasted, or pets may be overlooked Stickers do the following:
  1. Identify the number of and types of pets
  2. Identify where the pets may be found when confined or if hiding
  • Train animals to come when called
  • Keep collars on pets and provide leashes by the door so pets can be safely removed from the building
  • If possible provide animals with a means to leave the building, such as a pet door that opens to the back yard
  • If animals have to be confined by a gate or pet crate, place them in an area or room near the entrance where they can be easily found
  • Install monitored smoke detectors that automatically notify fire department if a fire breaks out and you are away.
  • Include your pets in your family’s fire escape plan

Household fires not only cause loss of property, but every year, these fires take the lives of beloved family pets.  By following these simple steps you will reduce the risk of losing your pet to a fire.

To your pet’s good health,

Dr. Barry


Jul 15, 2017 7:27:12 AM By Barry Miller fire pet safety, General Information,

Imagine This…

An adorable blond cocker spaniel

That's fairly easy.

But not just any cocker paniel

An adorable blond cocker spaniel that loved going to the veterinarian…

Now that's a little harder to imagine.

I just happened to know this cocker spaniel who's name was Smiley. He is no longer with us, but because of his overwhelming love for coming to my vet clinic I have not forgotten him.

It was always hard not to stop and stare when he came in for an appointment.

Once inside his owner would let go of his leash. He would proceed to the reception desk and bounce on the gate leading to the back. Once successfully behind the gate he would find an open cage and get in or he would wait until one of the staff would open the cage door for him. He really seemed to enjoy this, and he did it every time he came to the clinic which was often because he was groomed regularly.

Smiley had associated going to the veterinarian as a positive experience.

Most pet parents will agree, this is not typical for pets visiting their vet office.

Maintaining regular veterinary appointments are important to our pet’s overall health and well-being. While many pets handle these visits just fine, others struggle to enjoy them. Some pets learn to associate their time spent in the veterinary clinic with feelings of pain, discomfort, and unease. 

Is it possible to make vet visits more enjoyable for your pet?

Yes, it is. Here are a few things that you can do to make visiting the vet more enjoyable for you and your pet.:

#1. Choose the right vet clinic.

Overstimulation can become a problem when a pet enters the veterinary clinic. In order to reduce the stress level of a pet  brought about by new sights, sounds, lights, and scents, chose a vet clinic that includes these options:

·        Dog and cat only examination rooms

·        Cat-only appointment hours

·        Minimal amount of waiting for appointment times

·        Quiet environment when waiting for appointment

#2. What you can do to help:

·       Hunger motivates

o   As long as medically appropriate, you can withhold your pet’s food for several hours before the appointment time, please note I am only suggesting several hours before the appointment.

o   Animals that are a little hungry are usually more food-motivated and may better respond to the fear-free techniques. Offer treats when your pet behaves calmly on the way to the vet office, during the exam or around the staff members.

·       The Pet Carrier

o   If your pet only sees the carrier when it is time for a change in their comfortable lifestyle, it will learn to associate the carrier with stress

o   You can remove this negative reaction by using the carrier in ways that enable your pet to associate it with comfort

o   For example, you can use the carrier as a special place to:

·       Feed treats

·       Play with toys, keepa toy they just for when they are in their carrier

·       Offer a comfortable spot to rest

·       Provide a relaxing and calming atmosphere by spraying with soothing  pheromones

·       Create an environment of Calm

o   If your pet likes an item that soothes them, bring it along to the appointment

o   For example, if your pet responds appropriately to the use of a Thundershirt at home, there is a good chance that it will be helpful to the pet during the vet visit

o   If your pet has a prescription that helps to calm and comfort it, bring this medication to the appointment and ask your veterinarian how this medication can help during office visits. Please see #3. For more information about this topic.

o   Keep your pet in their carrier while in the waiting room. Sometimes our first instinct is to take them out and offer comfort while holding them. But for your pet this may make the environment more intimidating if the waiting room is full of other pets and unfamiliar noises and smells.

·       Familiarity breeds Reassurance

o   Pets that have learned to associate the vet clinic with negative feelings can be helped by being brought to the clinic between appointments for a pet and a treat. Many clinics offer free treats to their patients. Stop by with your pet and pick one up just for the fun of it.

Incorporating techniques that lower the amount of stress on an animal during an examination or medical procedure often will reduce the amount of restraint needed.

·       Exercise or Play with your Pet before the appointment

o   If your pet has been sleeping  or resting in a quiet environment all day and their first stimulation is a car ride and exposure to many new sites and sounds at the vet office, they may go into super stimulation mode.

o   Take them for a walk or play with your pet to ease them into changing the pace of their day. This has the added benefit of your pet maybe being a little tired and ready for some rest during the trip and at the vet’s office.

#3. Talk to your Veterinarian and don’t be afraid to use anti anxiety and calming products

If a pet remains unable to relax using the above techniques, products to reduce the stress can be determined for use by your veterinarian. Some of the items can be given before the appointment, some at the start of the appointment. For example:

·        Anxiety medications, Clomicalm, Acepromazine, Fluoxetine or Trazadone

·        Natural products, Stress Away, Adaptil Spray (dog) or Feliway Spray(cat), or  Zylkene,

Veterinarians and their staff are here to help make each office visit a positive one for you and your pet.  If your pet is a handful going for his annual check up, talk to your veterinarian in advance about ways that they can help you and your pet have the best possible experience.

To your Pet’s good health,

 Dr. Barry

Information gathered from:


Jun 29, 2017 2:09:19 PM By Barry Miller stress free veterinary visits, Behavior,
Today is International Hug Your Cat Day. No matter what language you speak all cats speak pretty much the same language. While each cat has its own individual disposition and temperament, when it comes to body language, all cats communicate in essentially the same way! When you know what to look for, learning to interpret their message is not that difficult! As you become familiar with cat body language you will find a deeper bond develop between you and your cat. Lets start with a Test: if you want to show your cat that you trust them and you are non threatening slowly squint yours eyes and keep them half closed and don’t be surprised if they reciprocate. Staring at a cat can be interpreted by your cat as threatening.Read More
May 30, 2017 12:58:57 PM By Barry Miller cat, behavior, body language, Behavior,

The answer is Yes!

If you didn't know that answer please know you are not alone.

Novartis Animal Health, conducted research that found over half of pet owners aren't aware their pets can also spend the spring season feeling miserable thanks to pollens and other environmental allergens.

If you have ever experienced seasonal allergies you wouldn't wish it on any one, especially your pet!

Unfortunately changing seasons will often cause allergies to flare up and for some dogs, this also means the start of feeling absolutely miserable.

Seasonal allergies in dogs are referred to as Canine Atopic Dermatitis, or Canine Atopy, and make up one of the most common allergic skin diseases, second only to flea allergy dermatitis. This chronic skin disease is associated with an inflammatory allergic reaction that can be extremely uncomfortable to a dog and also alarming to its owner. It must be so frustrating for them, as a pet, to not be able to tell you.

"What happened to my dog's skin and why won't they stop itching?"

Canine Atopic Dermatitis occurs when allergens are absorbed, inhaled, or ingested through the dog’s skin. Once this happens, the immune system produces an antibody that releases chemicals that cause the skin to become inflamed and itchy.


  • Animal dander
  • Airborne pollens from grasses, weeds, trees, flowers
  • Mold spores
  • Dust mites

Since your pet is unable to tell you that they feel miserable and ask for some medicine. You will have to notice their behavioral changes and signs that they may be suffering from Atopic Dermatitis.


Extreme itchiness, rubbing, scratching and licking of sides, belly, groin, elbows. Watery runny eyes, scratching at and rubbing ears and face against furniture, carpet, and ground. Biting at the base of their tail. Licking and chewing feet and pads. Snoring due to a swollen throat and sneezing. These signs can lead to these symptoms

  1. Skin: Reddened, possibly with crusts or scales, odor
  2. Haircoat: Bald spots, brown discoloration from licking
  3. Ears: Waxy discharge, redness, odor
  4. Face: Reddened with hair loss on muzzle, chin, and areas around eyes
  5. Feet: Inflammation, redness, odor, brown discoloration from licking
  6. Secondary skin infections caused as the result of chewing and scratching
  7. Hair loss due to scratching and rubbing

 Do all Dog's suffer from seasonal allergies?

I have seen every type of dog experience some sort of allergy including seasonal allergies, so my answer would be any dog breed can develop allergies at any time during his life. But allergic reactions seem to be especially common in Terriers, Setters, Retrievers, and flat-faced (brachio cephalic) breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston terriers.

Common Treatments for Canine Atopic Dermatitis

As the saying goes  "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

I recommend  weekly bathing to help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can dry out skin.  I recommend these products :Aloe and Oatmeal shampoo and conditioner,  AntiSeptic KC Shampoo, Malaseb shampoo and KetoHex Shampoo. These products may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in dogs with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available and can be helpful. 

Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. Such as Omega Tri V and Triglyceride Omega.

In the case of airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from Allergy Shots (Depomedrol). These will help your pet develop resistance to the offending agent, instead of just masking the itch.

On the other hand in some cases, no amount of bathing, supplements and allergy shots will cure your pet's atopic dermatitis. In these instances Veterinarian's usually recommend.

  1. Corticosteroids like Prednisone, 
  2. Anti Histamines, Hydroxyzine, chlorpheniramine and Benadryl, ask your veterinarian first
  3. Allergy testing and immunotherapy
  4. I have had great success with Apoquel and Atopica 

Why it is important to treat Atopic Dermatitis ASAP?

I know I have suffered through allergy season without really treating my symptoms, especially consistently taking allergy medicine. But here is why you should treat your dog's allergies.

Allergies in your pets can lead to skin infections, hair loss, lick granulomas and Bronchitis.

Hot Spots can develop in dogs (hot spots are rarely seen in cats). A hot spot is inflamed, infected skin that occurs when your dog's natural bacteria overwhelms an area of his skin. Typically the skin will be very red, and often there is bleeding and hair loss.

Chronic exposure to inhaled irritants (including cigarette smoke) may be a cause of bronchitis in your pet. Bronchitis is characterized by a persistent cough due to inflammation of the airway and excessive mucus production. Treatment may include medication to open breathing passages, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents.  Treating these can be expensive.

 As soon as you realize your pet may be suffering from allergies see your Veterinarian for a check up.  The more your pet is exposed to the allergens he's sensitive to, the more intense and long-lasting his allergic response becomes. I have seen seasonal allergies turn into year long allergies. By treating your pet's allergies early (as early as 6 months old) you reduce the risk that your pet 's immune system produces these allergy fighting antibodies for a more prolonged time. Plus your pet will feel so much better and thank you.

To your Pet's good health,


Dr. Barry



Henry Schein Health

May 15, 2017 11:53:22 AM By Barry Miller DVM allergies, itching, scratching, dogs, cats, Allergy,
Happy National Pet Week. May 7-May 13 During this special week, we are reminded to cherish the human-animal bond and to recognize our part in responsible pet ownership. As Pet Parents we can live out these values by following the action outlined by National Pet Week's theme this year, "Lifetime of Love—The Basics: Seven Days to a Happier, Healthier Pet." The American Veterinary Medical Association invites all Pet Parents or Pet Lovers to follow the action dedicated to the next 7 days that are vital to achieving a Lifetime of Love.Read More
May 5, 2017 11:41:00 AM By Barry Miller national pet week love pets, General Information,
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