It’s Senior Pet Month!


Senior woman and dog

Think only puppies or kittens make a good adoption? Think again!

Senior pets need love, too, and they can make a great addition to your family. Generally speaking, older pets come house trained, understanding at least basic commands, and ready for a cuddle.

Thinking of adopting a more mature pet? Here are some tips.

Is my pet a senior?
Generally speaking, most cats and dogs are considered to be seniors around age 7, although large breed dogs may experience age-related health issues earlier than that.

Health issues common in senior pets
As they age, pets may develop some of the same health concerns seen in aging humans, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Thyroid issues
  • Behavior changes (senility)

Semi-annual veterinary care is recommended
A veterinary exam twice per year along with lab work will enable your veterinarian to diagnose and treat disease as early as possible in order to maintain your pet’s quality of life. Your veterinarian can recommend the appropriate diet for your senior pet’s nutritional needs as well as discuss behavior and mobility issues.

What to watch for in senior pets
Your senior pet should be seen by its veterinarian if it shows any of these symptoms:

  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Urination issues, such as accidents in the house
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in grooming habits or behavior, such as disorientation
  • New “lumps or bumps” that persist or grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Lameness or stiffness

Want help searching for a pet near you? Start with the ASPCA website that can help you find a shelter near you.

November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Veterinary consultation

Veterinary consultation

Getting a diagnosis of cancer in your pet is scary. In fact 1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer.

But veterinary specialists are armed with years of experience to help guide you and your pet along this new journey and answer all of your questions.

Read on to learn the 10 most common signs of pet cancer:

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow

2. Sores that don’t heal

3. Weight loss

4. Loss of appetite

5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening

6. Offensive odor

7. Difficulty eating or swallowing

8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina

9. Persistent lameness or stiffness

10 . Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

Know what to look for as well as getting annual wellness exams to ensure that you and your pet can have a long, happy life together!

For more information, visit

It’s Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week


iStock_000005893587SmallNational Animal Shelter Appreciation Week is celebrated during the first full week of November as a way to honor animal shelters and the dedicated people who work to protect animals.

Animal shelters are vital resources for their communities. A shelter is a safe haven for animals, and a great place to adopt a new family pet. Shelters also provide critical services such as investigating cruelty and neglect, reuniting lost pets with their families, and teaching kids to care about animals.

There are approximately 3,500 animal shelters across the United States, available to serve the estimated 6–8 million homeless animals that seek refuge each year, but only about half are adopted. While 63 percent of American households include pets, fewer than 20 percent of them were adopted from shelters.

Here are just a few ways to get involved:

  • Adopt your next pet from a shelter!
  • Become a fan of your local shelter on Facebook
  • Volunteer
  • Be a responsible pet owner. Ask your local shelter and your veterinarian what you can do to be a great pet owner.
  • Donate supplies. Shelters are often in need of towels, toys, and other items. Always check with your local shelter first to find out what they need.

    For more information about pets and pet care, visit

October is a busy month


It’s nearly Halloween – how did that happen?! The air is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are changing. But there are a lot of other things going on in October too.

Oliver in his Halloween costume

Oliver in his Halloween costume.

Trick or Treat
Everybody loves trick or treat. Well, everybody except maybe Oliver here who doesn’t look too pleased about his costume. But if you have pets in the house during trick or treat, here are a few tips to make sure everyone has a good time:

  • Keep the goodies away from your pet. Many candies and gums, particularly chocolate candies, contain ingredients which can seriously harm or even kill your pet.
  • If your pet doesn’t like the constant ringing of the doorbell or is afraid of kids in costumes, consider keeping them in another room.
  • If your pet is in the same room with you, make sure they don’t dart out the door when you open it for the kids, either from fear or excitement.
Shelter dog waiting for adoption.

Shelter dog waiting for adoption.

It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
So many dogs are waiting patiently for a forever home. Wgot there by accident, through the death of an owner, financial burden, whatever the case may be, 9 times out of 10, it wasn’t their fault.

Because of the excitement of getting a puppy, many shelter dogs are overlooked simply for been grown up. Senior pets have it even worse. Often ignored completely, they can wait in the shelter for an adoption until they pass away. Here are some thing to think about when adopting a shelter dog.

  • Shelter dogs are usually house trained, can walk on a leash, and have some manners.
  • Not sure what kind of dog is right for you? Check out the ASPCA’s Meet Your Match tool which looks at breed temperament, exercise requirements, personality traits, and your lifestyle.
  • Also, if you have never had a pet, or just not for a long time, you may be a little sticker shocked at what owning a pet can cost. ASPCA also has a breakdown of what to expect.

It’s Pet Wellness Month

Yorkshire Terrier

Happy pets make happy vets

Does your pet regularly visit the veterinarian for a routine check up? Not only is it recommended but it could save a lot of pain and money down the road. Animals instinctively hide pain, so you may not know your pet is feeling discomfort until something serious occurs. Make sure your pet receives annual care.

pit bull

Pit bulls can make great pets.

It’s Pit Bull Awareness Month
It’s seems like people either love them or hate them, but pit bulls can make great pets.

Did you know that famous figures like President Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Fred Astaire all shared their homes with Pit Bulls? Read more true facts about Pit Bulls and stand up against dangerous myths.

Combat dog fighting and breed-specific legislation. Become a voice for dogs who have been victimized by animal fighters and harmful laws. Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to learn how you can get involved.

Consider adoption or fostering: Thousands of Pit Bulls end up in shelters every year due to abuse, over-breeding and abandonment. Pit Bulls can make very sweet, loyal family dogs and provide a lifetime of joy. Check out 10 Tips for Adopting a Pit Bull to find out if this breed is right for you!

Make your Pit Bull an ambassador. The best way to combat negative stereotypes is for you and your Pit to set a positive example! Take your well-trained dog with you to the park, store, and for long walks to show people the peaceful, gentle side of Pits. Additionally, consider having your dog earn an AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate, which may come in handy when facing breed bias from people who don’t understand the good the Pits truly can do.

Raising money for animals in need


Here at PVMA, we have a charitable arm called the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation (PVF). One of our programs is called The Last Chance Fund, or TLC as we call it. TLC was formed in order to raise money to go toward the veterinary care of abandoned or injured, unowned companion animals. When an animal is treated, participating veterinary practices can apply for funds. It’s a great program!

One of the ways that we raise money for TLC is through our annual Bark in the Park 5k Run & 1 Mile Dog Walk. Held the last Sunday in October, folks come out from the surrounding communities, with or without their dogs and as part of a team or individually, and have some fun for a good cause. Pledges are gathered from family and friends until race day and donations are accepted without having to participate on race day.

Bark in the Park

Get ready … get set …

We also have a Halloween Costume Contest with prizes in several categories. The costumes get more fun and creative every year!

Halloween costume contest

They must have spent a lot of time getting ready!

So who are some of the animals that TLC has helped?


This is Spike

Spike was just a puppy when he was found. He was cowering partially underneath a bush – he’d been hit by a car and left there. The person who found Spike took him to a TLC participating practice where he was found to have a badly broken leg. Because of funds from TLC, Spike was able to have surgery even though he had no owner, and recover at the hospital. Once healed, Spike was adopted into a new family.


This is Hefty.

Hefty earned his name the hard way. A victim of animal cruelty, he was tortured and literally thrown away in a trash bag. He was found meowing loudly while trying to claw his way out of the bag. Rushed to the veterinary hospital, he was found to have a broken rib, fractured pelvis, broken teeth, lung contusions, intestinal parasites, fleas, and – understandably – shock. It took a long time for Hefty to heal completely, but he was eventually adopted – and renamed Mufasa – into a loving home where he is one of three pets.


This is Blitz.

Blitz was born as part of a litter of strays. He wandered around on his own until someone found him with a broken leg, most likely from being hit by a car. He was taken to the veterinary hospital where he had surgery on his leg and pins inserted. He stayed for two months at the hospital while his leg healed. During this time he won the heart of one of the hospital’s veterinary technicians and was adopted by her son.

Please take a moment to learn more about The Last Chance Fund and Bark in the Park and consider making a donation. The program is so worthwhile to so many animals who might not otherwise get the care they need when they are sick or hurt.

How responsible of a dog owner are you?


relaxing with the dogSeptember is Responsible Pet Ownership Month. Sounds boring, right? But it’s important!

It’s easy to think of your furry friend as part of the family, one of the kids, (a holy terror… ), but it’s also easy to forget that they are totally dependent on you. For everything. So make the most of it and go above and beyond for Fido! Here are some of the topics of our fact sheets for pet owners that can help you keep on top of things.

Dog Licensing – As they say, it’s not just bling, it’s the law! All dogs three months or older must be licensed by January 1 of each year. If you’ve ever walked or driven your neighborhood calling out your lost dog’s name with the hope you’ll see him running toward you or visited your local animal shelter and registered your pet as missing, you know the importance of a dog license.

Dog Bite Prevention –  Nothing goes better together than kids and dogs but unfortunately, kids are also more likely to get bitten. Often it’s just a matter of not understanding how to interact safely with a dog, especially one that isn’t yours.
We have to be able to read body language and understand nuances that tell us what the dog might be thinking.

Preventive Care – Think your dog only needs to go to the vet when something is wrong? Think again. Prevent it from happening in the first place by scheduling regular annual appointments. Regular check ups can prevent bigger problems later which could be much more expensive.

Dental Health – Dog breath? It could be the sign of something more serious. Periodontal disease in our pets is the most common health problem that veterinarians see, yet many pet owners are still in the dark about preventing it or treating it. Don’t think that because your pet isn’t showing signs of oral discomfort that everything is fine. Untreated oral disease can be dangerous to your pet’s health and much more expensive to correct down the road than paying for preventive measures now.

Canine Influenza – Like many viruses, canine influenza is spread through respiratory secretions and contaminated surfaces of everything from food and water bowls to leashes to toys. What’s more, it can stay alive up to 48 hours on surfaces, 24 hours on clothing, and up to 12 hours on hands. If a dog comes in contact with the virus, it can be 2-4 days before it exhibits signs of feeling ill, and the dog is also most contagious during this time.

And there are many more, so check out our fact sheets for yourself and see how else you can keep your dogs happy and healthy.

Now, go ahead. Put your feet up and do a little relaxing with Rover.

Lyme disease is a serious threat – get prepared!



This month there have been 4,103 new positive cases for Lyme in PA.

There has now been a total of 23,655 positive cases for Lyme in PA for the year.

If that doesn’t scare you, it should. In fact, in 2013, 95% of confirmed lyme disease cases came from 14 states, including Pennsylvania. So let’s brush up on what lyme disease is and precautions to take.

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (boar-ELL-ee-uh burg-dorf-ERR-eye). Within 1 to 2 weeks of being infected, people may have a “bull’s-eye” rash with fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people have Lyme disease and do not have any early symptoms. Other people have a fever and other “flu-like” symptoms without a rash.

After several days or weeks, the bacteria may spread throughout the body of an infected person. These people can get symptoms such as rashes in other parts of the body, pain that seems to move from joint to joint, and signs of inflammation of the heart or nerves. If the disease is not treated, a few patients can get additional symptoms, such as swelling and pain in major joints or mental changes, months after getting infected.

Can animals transmit Lyme disease to me?

Yes, but not directly. People get Lyme disease when they are bitten by ticks carrying B. burgdorferi. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and can be hard to see. These tiny ticks bite mice infected with Lyme disease and then bite people or other animals, such as dogs and horses, passing the disease to them.

How can I protect myself from Lyme disease?

  • with ticks, particularly in spring and summer when nymphal ticks feed.
  • If you are in an area with ticks, you should wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached.
  • If you are in an area with ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, and tuck your pants into socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots (since ticks are usually located close to the ground).
  • Application of insect repellents containing DEET (n,n-diethyl-m-toluamide) to clothes and exposed skin, and permethrin (which kills ticks on contact) to clothes, should also help reduce the risk of tick attachment. DEET can be used safely on children and adults but should be applied according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines to reduce the possibility of toxicity.
  • Since transmission of B. burgdorferi from an infected tick is unlikely to occur before 36 hours of tick attachment, check for ticks daily and remove them promptly. Embedded ticks should be removed by using fine-tipped tweezers. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.
  • You can reduce the number of ticks around your home by removing leaf litter, and brush and wood piles around your house and at the edge of your yard. By clearing trees and brush in your yard, you can reduce the likelihood that deer, rodents, and ticks will live there.

How can I find more information about Lyme disease?
Learn more about Lyme disease, including answers to frequently asked questions, the natural history of Lyme disease and a narrated documentary at CDC’s Lyme disease website at