Keep your felines safe during Cat Health Month


CatHealthFebruary is Cat Health Month. Use these resources from PVMA to keep America’s number 1 pet happy and healthy all year long.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Cat fact sheet
Think you’re ready to get a cat? Use this fact sheet to see if you’ve considered all the factors.

Feline Lifestyle Assessment
Having a complete picture of your cat or kitten’s life can help your veterinarian provide better treatment and recommendations for your cat.

Feline-ality Cat Personality Matching
Use this tool from the ASPCA to assess your preferences and expectations when thinking of adopting a new cat.

Bringing Home a New Kitten
A new kitten can be exciting. Start life with your new friend off on the right foot with proper veterinary care, nutrition, and socialization.

kitten jumping

The Importance of Preventive Care
Think your pet only needs to see the veterinarian when something’s wrong? Learn how regular visits can prevent illness instead.

Traveling and Moving With Your Cat
Traveling with cats is legendary – for all the wrong reasons. Learn how to make is less stressful and safe.

Cats and Lilies fact sheet
In addition to other plants, lilies are particularly poisonous to cats. Learn how to prevent accidental ingestion and what to do if it happens.

Spaying and Neutering
Did you know? Spaying and neutering prevents pet overpopulation while also keeping your cat healthy. ​


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

In the news …


Harper and Lola

In the past week, I’ve seen several good animal videos and photo essays covering a range of issues and just plain cuteness. Instead of telling you all about them, I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Frostie the Snow Goat
Frostie – possibly the cutest goat ever – lost the use of his back legs through disease. See how happy he is to get his very own wheelchair.

Mr. G the Goat
Mr G is a goat that was rescued from a hoarding situation who was then separated from his best friend, a burro. See them reunited!

Harlow And Indiana, Instagram’s Best Friends
A photo essay about two dogs that will melt your heart.

Nothing Comes Between a Kid and Their Dog
’nuff said.

BBFF – Bull Dog Best Friend Forever
Harper has no siblings, so her mom got her a bulldog.

March 16-22 is National Poison Prevention Week


PoisonDogThink of this post as the Mr. Yuck for pets. March 16-22 is National Poison Prevention Week and the majority of resources available are aimed at protecting your children, so we at PVMA thought we’d give you a little help with protecting your pets! Take our poll at the end of this post to see which preparations you’re making.

First and foremost, be cognizant of the fact that your home is full of hazards, both inside and out. No, this doesn’t mean you’re a bad pet parent. Pets – especially dogs – are curious creatures and often investigate new things by tasting and eating them. Many plants in your yard or potted plants in the house can be poisonous, as can cut flowers like lilies. Like you would do with small kids, keep household cleaners, toiletries, and medicines out of reach. You know they aren’t food but your pet doesn’t. Also take special care in the kitchen. Everyone knows chocolate is poisonous, but so are many other foods and even chewing gum. Things like onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes and raisins, salt and yeast dough all can have bad consequences if ingested. I know if can seem like a treat to feed your pet people food, but stick to the pet food and treats that are designed for them. PVMA has a number of fact sheets which might be helpful on these topics – be sure to check them out and download for free.

Having a pet first aid kit stocked and at the ready can also be beneficial if you suspect your pet has been poisoned or is injured. Pet Poison Helpline, a fantastic web resource for pet safety, also has a number you can call -1.800.213.6680 – if you suspect that your pet has been poisoned. Keep it on your refrigerator and in any first aid kit that you create. Below is a list of items you might want to include in your first aid kit but remember, it’s very important to call Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian before giving any of these remedies yourself at home. The treatment will depend on the type of animal, the size, what was ingested, and what symptoms are being displayed.

  • Hydrogen peroxide 3 percent used to induce vomiting in dogs– make sure it’s not expired
  • Oral dosing syringe or turkey baster – for administering hydrogen peroxide
  • Teaspoon/tablespoon set – for measuring appropriate amount of hydrogen peroxide
  • Liquid hand dish washing detergent, such as Dawn or Palmolive
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Triple antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin™
  • Vitamin E (a small container of oil or several gel caps)
  • Diphenhydramine tablets 25mg – with NO other combination ingredients
  • Ophthalmic saline solution or artificial tears
  • Can of tuna packed in water or tasty canned pet food
  • Sweet electrolyte-containing beverage
  • Corn syrup (1/4 cup)
  • Vegetable oil (1/2 cup)

You can visit the Pet Poison Helpline website to learn much more about pet safety as well as facts, products, tips and recalls. They also have a mobile app for your iPhone so you can have information on the go.

Pets are part of our families and we want them to stay safe. With a few small steps to prepare, you can rest a little easier in case something happens.

A Day in the Life: Dr. Casey Kurtz


What’s in a name?

milkbonesWhen you stop to think about it, the lengths dogs will go to for a Milkbone are amazing. Sit, stay, lie down, paw, speak, dance, stand, laugh at all my jokes…the list goes on.  And all for a 4.5 cm long x 1 cm deep x 2.8 cm at the widest part, hard, tan-colored, bone-shaped, card-board smelling piece of food. (I recently examined a Milkbone, and the Shroud of Turin has nothing on it after my investigation)

The package information gives no clue to the power a single biscuit holds. Sure, there are Snausages and Pupperoni, I get this, they’re fragrant and greasy, and yet, the Milkbone remains the most recognized and widely used treat. “Treat,” even that euphemism underlies the Milkbone’s role in training and reward.

If only people could be moved by so little. If only, we could be “trained” with such a small incentive. I can see it now; open the door for someone, grab a Milkbone, how about calmly waiting in line, what, another Milkbone, and sitting in rush-hour traffic, here’s a Milkbone. The possibilities loom infinite. What couldn’t be settled over a Milkbone? (Congress would definitely be able to balance a budget…)

What I love about dogs is that eventually, after all the training and Milkbones, (and blood, sweat, and tears…ours, of course) they learn! They will perform without the obligatory treat every time. Eventually, making us happy, and thus, the “good dog” is the reward. (I still recommend a Milkbone from time to time to help keep it real) Perhaps, we should take a page from our dogs. Why can’t we do things just because it makes others happy? Are we too focused on ourselves? Do all of our actions have to benefit us?

As I was thinking these grandiose thoughts of kindness and brotherhood, a car not only swerved in front of me and almost hit me, but the driver also proceeded to flash me a vulgar gesture when I honked my horn as a warning. As I clenched the steering wheel and muttered a few well-chosen phrases, I could only think … Milkbone anyone?

Dr. Casey Kurtz is a staff veterinarian at French Creek Veterinary Hospital in Pottstown, PA

Brush up on some 4th of July safety tips for pets


4thFor many of us, celebrating the 4th of July means backyard barbecues, drinks, and
fireworks. While this can make for a fun holiday for neighbors, friends, and family, it can potentially be bad news for your pet. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Fido with scraps from the grill or take him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be hazardous to your pets.

Party Food
Probably the first thing most people think about when they think of Independence Day is an outdoor barbecue. Grills, tables, and plates full of burgers, hotdogs, potato salads, baked beans, and baked goods. All of it is delicious, and it’s probably no shock that your dog thinks so too, but some of it could really hurt him. Rule #1, of course, is to know where your dog is at all times, and if necessary, keep him in the house.  It only takes a minute for Fido to jump up and snatch something – or several things! – off the picnic table. You also have to beware of who is feeding your dog and what. Some folks just can’t eat a plate of food while a dog with pleading eyes rests its head on their knee and feel the need to share a little bit of whatever they’ve got with your pooch.

The reality is that dogs’ bodies don’t react to food the way humans do, and even one meal full of foods they don’t normally eat can cause digestive upset and diarrhea. The situation is even more dangerous for a pet with any type of special nutritional needs due to allergies or disease. What’s more, most people don’t know that food like onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, salt, and yeast dough can all be toxic to companion animals. (I dare you to name one person who hasn’t shared a piece of bread or rolls with their dog. I certainly have.)

It’s Cocktail Time
Never, ever leave alcoholic drinks unattended with pets around. Alochol has the potential to poison pets at an alarmingly speedy rate. If your animal ingests alcohol, it could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed, or even go into a coma. It can also cause respiratory failure in severe cases, so keep an eye on those cocktails.

While fireworks are fun and definitely a major part of this holiday, they can be very frightening for pets who don’t know where all the noise is coming from. Since you can’t allay their fears with an explanation, their fear turns to panic the longer the fireworks continue. And if you’re out in the community at a crowded location to watch them, the panic gets even greater. The best idea is to leave your pets at home, in an escape-proof area.

A few other no-no’s for the holiday

  • Never put glow jewelry on pets – the luminescent substance can cause excessive drooling & gastrointestinal upset
  • Citronella candles & other products can cause stomach irritation and even central nervous system depression if ingested. Even inhaling the oils from these products can cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • If applying sunscreen to pets for a day out, be sure it is labeled specifically for use on pets. The ingestion of regular sunscreens can lead to a whole host of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive thirst.
  • Keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pet’s reach. Some matches contain chlorates which can damage blood cells, and ingesting the fluid can irritate the stomach and depress the nervous system.

imagesCAEIA5UJSo despite all the warnings, have fun with your pets this 4th of July! There are plenty of ways to include pets in your celebrations, both indoors and out. With just a few preparations and a little oversight, everyone can have as much fun as this little guy.

June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month


iStock_000005893587SmallJune is designated Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat month. I’m not sure when you last went to a local shelter, but I know the last time I visited my local shelter, the “cat room” was all but overflowing. Every color, age, shape or size you could think of – there was a cat to fit that bill. Or several. Why so many cats at the shelter?

Felines that have never been spayed or neutered are a big reason. Many cat owners don’t worry about an unexpected litter of kittens because they don’t routinely let their cats roam outdoors. Some of these same owners feel veterinary care isn’t a priority if their pet isn’t mixing with other cats or doesn’t appear sick.  But if your cat gets out unexpectedly, there are a whole host of issues to worry about.

Parasites like fleas, ticks, and many more are everywhere. Whatever your cat picks up on its outdoor adventure will be coming into your house when it returns. Likewise, if your cat isn’t vaccinated against rabies, heartworms, and other common ailments, it’s vulnerable when it’s outside on its own. Keep in mind that rabid animals aren’t always obvious. Most of think of foaming at the mouth and aggressive behavior, but these are the final signs of rabies. Until the disease takes hold, a rabid animal can look and behave like a perfectly healthy one, potentially exposing everyone in the household to rabies.

But more importantly, feral cats are everywhere, and your cat’s outdoor adventure can lead to an unexpected litter of kittens later. Unfortunately, more often than not, those kittens end up at the shelter. Some people also tire of their cats and surrender them, perhaps an elderly owner passed away, someone had a baby and doesn’t have time or money for their pet anymore, the list goes on and on. For some reason animals at shelters always seem to have a stigma attached to them like they are second class citizens. Like they’re not quite good enough or they would have a home by now. I’ve adopted two dogs from the pound over the years and both were the best dogs I’ve ever had. Shelter cats were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and are looking for a good home. Before you head to the pet store or a breeder, stop in your local shelter and see what they have to offer. No matter what personality type, color, age or size you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it there.

Pet Finder can help you find a shelter near you.