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Dr. Barry recommends "The 10% Rule for Pet Treats". Treats should only make up  about 10% of your dog's daily calories.

Aug 9, 2018 9:12:03 AM By Barry Miller food snacks, General Information,

Jun 22, 2018 11:08:13 AM By Barry Miller nail trim, General Information,
The unbelievable story of a dog almost cut in half by an outdoor leash. See the amazing before and after photos.Read More
Apr 25, 2018 9:18:13 PM By Barry Miller Dog Surgery, wound, injuries, General Information,

I must admit that I love to come home and smell something baking in the oven or see that someone is cooking in the kitchen but that excitement ends when I find out that it's not for me it's for Bear, our dog.  My son got a dog biscuit cookie cutter and recipe book in his stocking a few years ago. 

I wish I could go back in time and bake treats for all of my childhood dogs I know that they would have loved it more than the hard dog bone shaped biscuits that came in a box back in the 70's. I had one dog in particular, Jason, that loved treats. He would often wait for me after school or he would wait for me to finish football practice. On the way home there was a hotdog/hamburger joint and I would buy myself and Jason a hamburger.  We both loved it and that is such a good memory I have of my childhood. I thought I would share with you a few recipes (one for warm weather and one for any time) for pets that are healthy and delicious and will hopefully help create great memories for you and your pet.  

Recipes for Dogs

Yogurt and Banana Treats 

  • 16 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 chopped banana

Mix together, place in molds or mini muffin tins and freeze overnight, and serve.

Apple Cheddar Biscuits

  • 2 cups barley flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Bone-shaped or other cookie cutters

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients and about 3 tablespoons water to form a dough. Roll out mixture between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thick; remove plastic wrap and cut out biscuits with a 3 1/2-inch bone-shaped or other cookie cutters. Reroll scraps and continue cutting out biscuits.

3. Space biscuits 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until nicely browned and firm.

4. Transfer biscuits to a wire rack. Turn off oven and place biscuits on a wire rack in the oven overnight. Remove from oven and store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

No Time To Bake for Fido! No worries:

If you do not have time to bake there are healthy options that you can buy. 


Made with bite-size pieces of skinless chicken and are low in fat, they’re veterinarian recommended.Learn more Here: Lean Treats


These bite-size full-flavor treats can also be used as a training tool.Learn More Here: Pro-Treat Freeze Dried Livers.


Recipes For Cats


  • 15 8-ounce plastic cups
  • 1 5.5-ounce can of your cat’s favorite wet food (smooth, not chunky, works best)
  • Catnip and/or soft cat treats (optional)
  • One small square of plastic wrap
  1. Mix cat food and treats in a bowl in a minimum 2 parts food to 1 part treat ratio
  2. Fill plastic cups with mixture about ½” high with the mixture. Put plastic wrap on top to avoid freezer burn.
  3. Stack cups, flattening treat mixture into the disk, and freeze overnight.
  4. Run warm water over bottom cup until it releases. Put the treat in the bowl and let stand about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve.

Catnip Crumbles

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons catnip

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with foil.

2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients by hand.

3. Spread mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes.

4. Drain any excess fat and crumble. Refrigerate whatever’s left.

No time to Bake for Fluffy! No Worries


Made with skinless chicken and are low in fat, they’re recommended by veterinarians.Learn more here: Lean Treats for Cats


I hope these recipes are enjoyed by your pets and help your homes smell delicious but more importantly I hope they bring wonderful memories to you and your pets.

To Your Pet's Good Health,

Dr. Barry




Mar 28, 2018 4:12:56 PM By Barry Miller General Information,


With Spring Break just around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to discuss tips for choosing a Boarding Facility or a Pet Sitter. When faced with finding care for a pet that must be left alone for a lengthy period of time, there are many aspects to consider. The following information may help you as you contemplate your options. 

If you prefer to use a Boarding facility:

Here are11 QUESTIONS TO ASK A POTENTIAL BOARDING KENNEL before you choose to drop your pet off:


Many boarding kennels, especially during holidays, are booked weeks or months in advance. Make sure you know how far in advance you need to book a stay and whether a deposit is required when booking.


Most kennels require vaccinations, but the industry is still largely unregulated so it’s best to ask. Below are the minimum vaccinations that a kennel should require. 

Canine Vaccines

  • Canine Distemper
  • Infectious Hepatitis
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Rabies
  • Bordetella

Feline Vaccines

  • Feline Panleukopenia
  • Feline Herpesvirus
  • Feline Calicivirus  
  • Rabies

If the kennel does not require vaccinations, ask them how they quarantine animals to prevent infection. Disease can be spread by contact with bodily fluids and even air. And even if your pet is vaccinated, there is always the chance it might be susceptible to disease.


  • Cats and dogs should never be kept within view or hearing distance of each other. Most kennels put up barriers inside the kennel space to prevent this.
  • The area should be well ventilated.
  • Make sure there’s enough room for your pet to move around and enough space for them to defecate or urinate if they need to. Cats should have a litter box in their space.


Dogs should be let out a minimum of 2-3 times a day or 24 hour period.. Ask them the times they take the dogs out and for how long. If your dog is in the habit of defecating each morning, they may take longer. Ask if they’re taken out on a leash or released into an outside pen. If they’re released into an outside pen, does the employee stay with the animal or go back inside for a designated period? How big is the exercise area?


Ask specifically if there are designated times for staff to interact with your pet, how long staff members stay with them, and how they interact.


If you have an elderly pet or one with special needs, this information is critical. If they say they can, ask them how they will accommodate your animal.


Veterinarians advise against changing your pet’s food, because it’s likely to result in digestive upset. So it is important to bring with your enough food from for your pet to dine one while you are away.


Many boarding kennels, whether or not they’re part of a veterinary practice, offer additional services for a fee, such as brushing, washing, training, nail trimming (for dogs) or extra play time. Veterinary boarding kennels frequently offer vaccinations and other minor procedures, too. Some kennels offer playgroups your pet may enjoy.


If they are not willing to give you a tour when you show up unannounced, leave immediately.


Even if you don’t live in a flood-, hurricane- or tornado-prone area, fire is always an issue.


If you are not using veterinary boarding, make sure the staff has received training and certification.


Here are some warning signs that the kennel may not be a good fit for your pet.

  • The building smells bad.
  • Outdoor pens are small and do not have shelter from the sun.
  • Your pet smells bad when you pick it up.
  • The employees tell you nothing about your pet when you pick it up.

Benefits of Hiring a Pet Sitter

When pet sitters enter a home their tasks often include filling up water bowls and scooping out the litter boxes. However, most pet sitters are not just hired for their time, but also for the attention they can provide to a pet. Additional care may be offered through services such as the following:

  • Walking energetic animals
  • Engaging pets in their favorite play activities
  • Providing bathroom walk breaks
  • Following feeding schedules
  • Administering health needs.

The use of a pet sitter also provides benefits that go beyond the assigned tasks. For example, a pet benefits through:

  • Remaining at home, in a comfortable familiar environment
  • Maintaining routine for diet, walking, exercise, and play
  • Eliminating the stress that can be caused by traveling or by being boarded in a kennel
  • Reduced boredom levels.

Additionally, establishing a pet sitter relationship may help owners to feel better about being away from home since they know their pet is being cared for, happy, and safe. 

Where to find a Qualified and Trustworthy Pet Sitter:

Starting the search for a pet sitter should begin by asking for recommendations from:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Veterinarians
  • Groomers
  • Dog Trainers.

Initial Communication

Begin your search for a pet sitter by gathering information on their qualifications and on the services they provide.  
Questions to Ask Prospective Pet Sitters:

  • What services do they offer? For example grooming, walking, training, exercising, playing, cleaning up after a pet, taking a pet to appointments, taking a pet to the veterinarian if it gets sick, live-in services?
  • Will they provide a written contract that explicitly identifies responsibilities, services, and fees charged?
  • Do they carry commercial liability insurance that covers accidents and negligence? Can they provide written proof? Are they bonded? Can they provide proof?
  • What training do they have for this position? For example CPR, First Aid?
  • What is the backup plan established for continuing the care of your pet in case the sitter becomes ill, has car trouble, or has other difficulties that keep them from their responsibilities? How do you interview this person? What are their qualifications?
  • Can they provide a list of references along with the contact information that includes client names and phone numbers?

Set Up A Meet and Greet

Once the information is gathered and references have been contacted, before making a final hiring decision it is important that you invite the pet sitter over to your home not only to talk with them in person but to have them meet the pet. During this stage of the interview additional important information can be gathered, for example:

  • Watch the way they interact with your pet, do they seem at ease and focused on the pet? Does their behavior make the pet feel comfortable? Does the pet welcome their attention and touch?
  • If a pet has special needs, do they ask appropriate questions about their responsibilities for its care?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the sitter’s behavior in their home?

Trial Period

When the decision to hire is made,  If you can plan to schedule services that cover an extended period of time, it is recommended to first arrange for the pet sitter to provide care for a trial period over a couple of days while you are still in town. This will allow for a chance to identify any issues that must be addressed before the pet is left in the sitter’s care for a longer period, such as:

  • Questions requiring further clarification
  • Changes that need to be made in reference to scheduling
  • Responsibilities that should be added to meet additional pet needs.

I recommend both Kennel Boarding and Pet Sitters as safe ways to love and care for your pet while you are on vacation or traveling. Taking the time to choose the right boarding facility or Pet Sitter is very important and will pay off in the long run. It is never pleasant to return home from your travels to find your pet in less than good condition and worrying about your pet while you are on holiday steals important moments of relaxing and enjoying your time.

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry



Mar 5, 2018 4:09:42 PM By Barry Miller boarding pet sitter, General Information,


At-Home Pet Dental Care Tips

I remember I used to have a poster in my office that had a picture of a bulldog with the caption, "His breath could stop a train". At the time it was cute but I know from first-hand experience that when you have a pet with bad breath it is not cute! Establishing routine preventative dental care with the help of your veterinarian is important, but supporting this with regular at-home dental care for your pet is essential to continuing their good health!  For many pet parents that is not as easy as it sounds.

We are lucky to have so many options for preventative oral care that do not involve a toothbrush and the difficulty of brushing an unwilling beloved pet's teeth.

Here are some at-home dental tips and options that may help to keep your pet’s mouth healthy in between visits to the veterinarian.

Signs that there is something wrong:

Watch for the following observable changes in behavior as they often point to a dental problem. If observed, the signs indicate that the dog needs to be seen by the veterinarian.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Appearance of a good appetite, but reluctance to eat
  • Eating on only one side of the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Gulping food without chewing
  • Food dropping out of the mouth while eating.


Dogs don’t always have lovely breath, but chronic halitosis is one of the most common signs of severe oral/dental problems, including:

  • Periodontal disease:
    • Gum disease caused by plaque
    • Results in:
      • Gum infections
      • Tooth loss
      • Systemic infections
  • Oral masses
    • Cancerous Growths
    • Benign growths
  • Gingival hyperplasia
    • Condition caused when the gums overgrow
    • Observed as bumps and deep crevices.

How to assess your pet's Gums and Teeth

  • Once a week, gently pull back your pet's lips and look at its gums and teeth or sneak a peek when your cat or dog bares its teeth for any reason.
    • Gums should be pink
    • Gums should not be white or red
    • Teeth should be white
    • Teeth should not show any discoloration or have any tartar buildup.

There are many options available today other than just brushing your pet's teeth. I know that brushing can be challenging so I would recommend reading thru the rest of this blog to see what option might work for you and your pet. It will definitely be worth it as it will prevent dental disease and other health disorders that often begin as a result of poor dental health.



Brushing with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste is still the most effective option. Cleaning your pet’s teeth on a regular basis will help to prevent the problems caused by bacteria and plaque build-up. Follow these steps:

  • Talk to your veterinarian to gather information and ask them to:
    • Recommend a toothbrush that is appropriate for your type and size of pet
    • Select a toothpaste that will entice your pet and make them look forward to having their teeth brushed, most kinds of toothpaste are flavored in a way that dogs will enjoy the taste. Do no use human toothpaste.
    • Provide a demonstration of the steps involved in brushing your pet’s teeth.

The following steps will teach your pet to enjoy their brushing routine:

  • Begin by helping the dog get comfortable with the brushing motions:
    • Over a few weeks, daily massage their lips with your finger moving in a circular motion
    • Once the lips have been massaged, move to the teeth and gums
  • Once the animal is comfortable, place a small amount of toothpaste on the animal’s lips to introduce them to the taste
  • Using the toothbrush, massage the animal’s gums
  • Apply toothpaste to the toothbrush or directly on the teeth and then gently brush the teeth using the following technique:
    • At a 45-degree angle to the teeth, gently move the toothbrush in small, circular motions
    • Clean one area at a time
    • Since the teeth that touch the cheek have the most tartar, using a downward motion of the toothbrush will help to loosen and remove this tartar.


Chewing: Chews, toys, and treats

The right type of chewing toy is good for the teeth of dogs. Not only does chewing massage the gums and clean the teeth, but it also provides a safe way to satisfy its desire to gnaw on something which will help to reduce stress and prevent boredom. Talk to your veterinarian to get their advice on picking out a proper type of chewing item for your pet.


Water Additives and Oral Rinses

Drinking water additives and oral rinses are one of the easiest, safest and most convenient ways to provide oral health care to dogs. 

Simply add the pet drinking water additive to your pet's daily drinking water and you can truly do wonders at preventing dental disease. These drinking water additives typically do not contain any harmful ingredients such as chlorhexidine, chlorines or alcohols and are safe enough for daily ingestion without any side effects. At present, several types dental rinses are available on the market. For Oral Rinses you will be required to lift the lip of your pet exposing their gums. When the gums are exposed you will spray/squeeze the bottle aiming the oral rinse at their gums. When followed by a healthy treat your pet usually won't mind the intrusion. It is less time consuming than brushing.


Diet and food additives.

Discuss with your veterinarian the type of food that your pet eats. Dry kibble helps to slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. An animal fed mostly canned food may benefit from being supplemented with hard biscuits to help remove plaque and tartar. I also recommend a product called Perio Support Powder.  Perio Support Powder is a daily support formula for dental health and hygiene for both cats and dogs. It was designed to be used between veterinary dental cleanings to control plaque formation and support gum health, 


Professional Dental Cleaning

During your pet's annual exam your Veterinarian will assess your pet's teeth and gums. Your Veterinarian can perform a dental cleaning much like you receive from your dentist. Often during teeth cleaning your Veterinarian will be able to take a closer look at your pet's teeth, gums and mouth to determine their overall dental health.  As pets get older I recommend annual teeth cleaning or as needed when recommended by your Veterinarian.


Finding the best dental routine for your pet is important for their longevity and vitality. Too many of my patients have mouth infections or the beginning signs of dental disease or advanced stages of it. This impacts their overall health. Providing daily at-home dental care will help to further improve your pet's chances for better dental health and longevity.

To Your Pet's Good Health,


Barry Miller DVM

Jan 30, 2018 5:20:05 PM By Barry Miller Dental Health,

My Top 6 Dog Training Tips

January is National Dog Training month so I thought I would share some tips on training our furry four-legged friends. All dogs need an owner that will accept the responsibilities that come with training them to be socialized and obedient family members.
Training a dog requires more than teaching verbal commands. When working with your dog, it is important that we understand that communication is key, we speak two different languages and it is easy for dogs to become distracted, confused or misunderstand what we are asking them to learn.

The first step to good dog training is to ideally begin training when they are young( around 8weeks of age) but this is not always possible especially with rescue dogs.  Please know that when you first are establishing yourself as the teacher and your pet as the student, you must have a quiet non-distracting environment to train in. Otherwise, you will waste time trying to get your pet's attention or your pet will not quite get what you are asking them to learn.

Here are my top 6 Dog Training Tips:

Tip #1: Where do you start in training?

When working with your pup at home, the most important commands for them to learn are:

  • Come
  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down.

Teaching these commands will not only work on bettering your pup’s manners, but can also help to keep it safe. For example, should your pup get startled and run off, it could end up lost or put in harm’s way. But, if it knows what to do when commanded to “come,” hearing your call may help it redirect its behavior and return to you. 

Tip #2. Be Consistent:

Training requires working in a fair and consistent manner that teaches the dog not only how to behave, but also that their good behavior is expected in all settings. 
Teaching your dog what to do along, with what not to do, will help them to better understand and recognize the behaviors you want from them. For example:

  • When working on a command of stay and the dog moves, don’t get upset; just put it back into the stay position and continue the training.
  • Later, when the command to stay is again given and the dog follows the command, make sure to praise the animal so it knows it did as you wanted and that you are pleased it has done its job.

For your dog to understand what is expected of it, all family members should follow the same steps when working with the dog. Without consistency, they will become confused about what it is to do. For example:

  • If the rule is established that the dog is only to go to the bathroom in the far corner of the yard, then every time the animal needs to go to the bathroom, it should be taken to the far corner of the yard as part of its training.
  • Allowing the animal to use an inside potty pad on bad-weather days sends the dog a message that says it is okay to potty inside if it wants.
  • When the dog then goes to the bathroom in the house and receives correction, it will become confused on what you are expecting it to do.

Tip #3.  Always complete the Training Exercise

When working on an exercise, make sure to stick with the training until the puppy does as it is told. If you don’t, if you allow it to have its way, the pup may look at the exercise as something it doesn’t need to do.


Training Tip #4. Learn to communicate by reading your pet’s body language.

Owners often become frustrated when their pet behaves inappropriately. Before responding to the situation, take a moment to think about why the unwanted behavior occurred. Dogs use body language to communicate their wants and needs. When they behave improperly, there is a good chance that the signals for the unwanted behaviors were present but were overlooked or missed. 

The following offers examples of the way dogs communicate by body language:

  • Play time!
    • Running up to you
    • Barking
    • Backing up with a wagging tail
  • I need to go to the bathroom! 
    • Furiously sniffing
    • Going around in circles
    • Starting to squat
  • I’m being cautious! Or I’m nervous! Stay back!
    • Stiffly wagging tail that is moving slowly
    • Tail may be held very high or is hanging down
    • Animal may be leaning slightly forward, almost on its tiptoes
  • I’m friendly!
    • Happy, wagging tail
  • I’m afraid! I may be aggressive!
    • Stiff body
    • Tail tucked down and ears held back
    • Arched back
    • Hair may stand up along the ridge of their back
    • Cowering
    • Intense gaze
    • Low growl
  • I’m nervous! I’m timid!
    • Submissive urination - when animal gets excited and then squats and urinates
      • In puppies, this could mean that their bladder has not yet fully developed
      • In older animals, this reaction occurs when the animal feels it is about to be corrected or feels nervous if being approached by a stranger.

To be successful, training requires clear communication between both owner and animal. While it is important to help the dog know what we expect of them, it is equally important that we pay attention to what they are trying to tell us. 

Tip #5. Let them know they did what was asked.
Rewarding your dog will reinforce the point of the training exercise, as well as build their self-confidence and increase their desire to please. 

There are many thoughts regarding methods of positive reinforcement that utilize treats, toys, and praise. A reward does not have to be a food treat; it could be praise, time spent playing a game, or being given a special toy.
Keep in mind that different dogs have different personalities, and what motivates one may not motivate another. As you spend time with your pup, you will learn what motivates them best.

Every puppy needs help understanding what is expected of them. There is no doubt that working with your pup will require your patience and time, but the end result will be worth it!

Training Tip #6 : Understand that not all dogs are A students

It is easy for pet parents to become frustrated with their dogs when they feel they have repeatedly taught their dog not to do an unwanted behavior and their dog continues to seem like they are not learning.  Bear,my 1 1/2 year old dog still occasionally gets into garbage cans.  She is still young and struggles with the only pet boredom syndrome.  Some dogs seem to excel at bad behavior. Dogs that are bored or lonely often:

  • Go to the bathroom in the house
  • Get into the trash
  • Tear up blankets, pillows, or clothing
  • Chew on things not meant to be chewed!

If your dog falls into this category, it may benefit from daily walks and toys that challenge them.  With my dog Bear, I simply remove the trash from her, say no and give a command” go get your toy” and she usually runs and gets a toy to play with. When I find her playing with a toy I praise her. Obedience training that focuses on manners for behaving when in the house can also be of benefit and take the pressure off of you. Also, if your dog has unwanted or destructive behaviors that occur when you are not at home, you may want to discuss the possibility of separation anxiety with your Veterinarian.

Training and enjoying your pet go hand in hand. It is always worth the patience and effort necessary to develop good manners and habits in your pet.  There are many resources available to pet owners to help you train your dog into a wonderful companion and family member. My tips are the tried and true methods of dog or puppytraining that can have great results when taught with patience and consistency. 

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry



Jan 13, 2018 11:42:57 AM By Barry Miller dog training, Behavior,

5 Ways to Keep Pets Safe in the Cold Winter Months

As temperatures drop, we all try to keep warm. Well, guess what? Our pets do too! Even though many pets are covered in fur, they are not immune to the cold; in fact, pets shiver to show they are cold, just like people. 

1.) Dress for the occasion: Some breeds, like Alaskan Malamutes, or Siberian Huskies have thick winter coats that help provide insulation from the cold. However, for some animals, clothing can help them stay warm in the winter, especially those that are small with little body mass, or those with short or thin fur. Sweaters and jackets made specifically for pets can be helpful, and some pets will also tolerate booties made specifically for their paws.

2.) Take it inside: Provide pets shelter from wet, drafty and cold weather. The shelter doesn’t have to be fancy, just provide a barricade from the worst of winter while the pet is outside. Low temperatures combined with wind chill makes your dog even colder than the temperature recorded. When he gets cold or wet, his body temperature drops, internal organs can shut down and your dog can be at risk of dying even though temperatures are above freezing. Access to an insulated doghouse, garage or shed when temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit helps keep your dog warm. Dogs accustomed to indoor living or temperate climates should not be left outside in freezing temperatures. 

For those neighborhood cats who might be lost or stuck outside, building an outdoor, insulated cat box is a nice way to keep them safe, warm and secure. Simple instructions on how to make outdoor cat boxes, like those found at the American Humane Society website, allow you to protect neighborhood furry friends at a low cost. Follow this link to find instructions:

3.) Let it grow:  A pet’s fur may need to be kept longer and thicker during the winter months. Do not let pets outside after bathing them until the animal is completely dry. Pay attention to a pet’s feet to look out for cracks and cuts on the paw pads. Also, if you use salt on your driveways and sidewalks, I recommend a brand that is friendly to pets.

4.) Look out for winter illnesses and injuries: Frostbite, respiratory infections and consumption of toxic substances (such as de-icer and melting salt) are all dangers pets are susceptible to in the winter. If you notice your dog isn’t behaving normally or appears to be in pain, you should seek veterinary care immediately. 

We often use salt on our driveways and sidewalk to make them safer. This type of salt, however, is dangerous and toxic to pets. Animal-friendly de-icers and ice melters are available and are recommended if you have a pet that frequents the area it has been used.

Running out of car fluids like antifreeze or windshield washer fluid is common during the winter months. These chemicals, especially antifreeze, are potentially deadly to animals, according to the American Humane Society. And, to make matters worse, dogs often like the taste of antifreeze! Be sure to remind your clients to keep their pets out of the garage or away from these chemicals at all times to keep them safe.

5.) Keep them active: Dogs and some cats can get “cabin fever” too! Pets who are used to running around outside when it is warm outside might need to get more of their activity inside. Hide toys or treats for your pet to find around your house, play a modified game of catch, or have them walk or run up and down stairs. Read Dr. Barry's previous blog on Pet Boredom Busters by following this link:

Treat dispensing toys like Kongs are great tools for burning off some restless energy. Be sure to spend some time exercising their brains too; brush up on basic training or try teaching some new tricks. When exercising outside, make sure to pay attention to any signals that they may be getting too cold and make sure they have plenty of water to recover. While your time outside may have to be shorter, it can still be fun!


To Your Pet’s Good Health,


Dr. Barry


Dec 19, 2017 12:02:34 PM By Barry Miller safe-cold-winter-months, General Information,

Feline Itchy Skin, Help!

In our house it's usually easy to find Bear,our dog, she is usually close by but if not a quick call brings her running.  Dogs are normally more responsive to being called.   Finding Boo,our Cat, is a little trickier. Cats are normally much quieter so Boo can be anywhere in the house and it can take us a long time to find him.  Of course, we have a unique built-in cat finder, our dog Bear is 100% in love with Boo and if we want to know where the cat is all we have to do is let Bear loose and within minutes Bear is making happy noises that she has found her true love. Not all houses have this feature and we truly appreciate having it.

Finding your cat is, unfortunately, easier if they are scratching, which has its own identifiable noise and is often accompanied by a thumping noise as their foot repeatedly hits the floor. Sounds innocent but when your cat is bothered by constant or frequent itching, it can be hard to listen to day after day.

Is your feline constantly scratching, licking, biting at the skin, or rubbing up against objects? If so, they could be suffering from an itchy skin disease, a very common problem found in felines and characterized by behaviors focused on relieving the itch. If your feline friend is itching, the first step to take is to carefully look at the skin and the hair coat.  

A feline’s skin and hair coat can tell a great deal about their general health and condition.

What are the basic functions of the skin?

Because felines are such curious creatures they often find themselves in situations where they are at risk of injury or exposure to noxious chemicals or harmful environmental conditions. The cat’s skin provides a barrier that helps to keep bacteria, microorganisms, and foreign elements from entering the body, and protects the internal tissues from dehydration and loss of body heat by insulating against conditions of extreme heat and cold. The skin also acts as a receptor for the awareness of touch, temperature, pressure, and pain.

What are the functions of the hair coat?

The hair coat also has specific useful functions. The outer coat is made up of primary hair, which grows from its own individual root. Connected to these roots are tiny muscles that enable a feline to fluff out its coat trapping warm air creating a form of insulation. Secondary hair, or the undercoat, is more abundant and also functions to provide added warmth and protection. Tactile hairs include the whiskers, eyebrows, chin hairs and the hairs found on the backs of the front legs. Tactile hairs are specially modified to provide detailed information about anything that they touch which gives important sensory information to the cat. Whiskers are longer, thicker, and stiffer than normal hairs and a feline can fan them out, and rotate them forwards or backward. The nerve endings in whiskers are clustered and help to supply a feline with detailed information about air currents, air pressure, or objects close to their face. This information helps to supplement the feline’s other senses of smell, sight, and hearing and are useful when investigating objects nearby.

What does healthy cat’s skin and hair coat look like?

Different breeds have different hair – short, medium, or long and fine, medium or coarse, but all healthy felines should have shiny and mat-free coats. A feline with dull fur that breaks easily or has bald spots may indicate that there is a health issue and your veterinarian should be consulted.

How to examine the skin and hair coat of a feline:          

  • Run a comb or bristle brush against the lay of the hair to expose the skin
  • Check the appearance of the skin
  • Look to see if there is any residue on the comb or brush.


What am I looking for?

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Rash
  • Bumps
  • Flea detritus
  • Insects
  • Scabs
  • Scaly flakes

After looking at my cat’s skin, I believe they have a problem, What could be causing it?

Here is a short list of itchy skin diseases and their characteristics:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis: Red and itchy bumps, inflamed skin at the site of contact, a rash that may spread beyond the area of contact
  • Chiggers: Itching with skin irritation between toes, around ears and mouth
  • Contact dermatitis: Red, itchy bumps, inflamed skin at site of contact, may be caused by rubber or plastic food dishes
  • Ear mites: Head tilting and shaking, scratching at the ears, brown, waxy material in ear canals
  • Flea allergy dermatitis: Red, itchy bumps over the base of tail, back of rear legs and inner thighs, itching continues after fleas have been killed
  • Fleas: Itching and scratching along the back, around tail and hindquarters, may see fleas, flea feces, and eggs
  • Food allergy dermatitis: Severe itching over the head, neck, and back, swelling of eyelids, reddened ears, possible hair loss and oozing sores
  • Inhalant allergy: Small bumps and crusts around the head, neck, and back beneath hair coat, may have symmetrical hair loss over body
  • Lice: Look for nits that look like white grains of sandy material attached to the hair, may have bare spots where hair has been rubbed off
  • Maggots: Soft-bodied, legless fly larvae found in matted fur or open wounds
  • Scabies: Intense itching around the head, face, neck, and edges of the ears, hair is rubbed off, typical thick gray to yellow crusts on skin
  • Ticks: Often found around the ears, along the back, between the toes
  • Walking dandruff: Large amounts of dry, scaly, flaky skin over the neck, back, and sides, mild itching

This partial list shows feline skin ailments can be caused by allergies, parasites, irritations, or internal diseases. Your veterinarian is trained to recognize the symptoms and diagnose a remedy that will relieve the itchiness before the cat suffers hair loss, wounds, or bacterial infections.  

What you can do:

Once the cause of the skin irritation has been identified, steps should be taken to prevent the animal from further exposure. Bathing the animal right away may help to minimize or eliminate the discomfort. 
The following treatments will not cure the problem but will help to control the symptoms by reducing the itching and soothing the inflammation. Such treatments include the use of:

  • Topical or oral corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Allergy shots
  • Immune therapy

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry



Nov 27, 2017 1:16:16 PM By Barry Miller feline itchy skin, Skin & Coat,
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