Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How Safe is Your Pet this Season?

The veterinary team at Brookfield Animal Hospital wants to ensure that your best friend is safe all season long. There are many new dangers that pets may encounter around the holidays. We’re always here to answer your questions about your pet’s needs.

Top 5 Most Common Holiday Dangers for Pets

These are some of the most common dangers that we often see during the holiday season:

  •  Alcohol. While we can handle having a few drinks in celebration of the season, our pets cannot. It’s important to always keep alcoholic beverages out your of your pet’s reach to ensure that they’re safe from the danger of alcohol poisoning.

  • Christmas trees. It isn’t the holiday season without a festive tree! However, these lovely decorations can also cause a few hazards in the home. Christmas trees can be knocked over by overly adventurous and curious pets, causing damage to the home and injury to the animals! Another danger posed by Christmas trees is their ornaments and tinsel. If these are chewed up or eaten by your pet, they can be extremely dangerous to their digestive system, get caught in their intestines, and cause potentially deadly blockage.  

  • Electrical cords. Does your best friend like to chew? The sight of all those new cords under the tree may be too appealing for your pet, so we recommend disguising and hiding electrical cords to prevent your pet’s curiosity. It’s also important that they never be left unattended around the decorations!

  •  Holiday meals and sweets. You hear all year round that there are foods your pet should never consume, but during the holiday season we have so much more of those dangerous foods around the house! Traditional holiday meals contain so many of those dangers, like poultry bones, onions, garlic, grapes, and more. In addition, we often do a lot of baking during the holidays, introducing our pets to even more potential dangers with chocolate, sugar, macadamia nuts, raisins, and more. Keep those foods and treats out of your pet’s reach at all times!

  •  Dangerous holiday plants. For some odd reason, the most popular plants to bring inside the home at the holidays are toxic to your pet! Amaryllis and lilies of all kinds are dangerous and we recommend keeping them out of your pet’s reach at all times so that your pet doesn’t have access to the leaves or berries that may fall off. You may also want to consider purchasing silk flowers for the look of the festive plant without the dangers. 

If you have any questions about your pet’s safety and well-being this holiday season, the veterinary team at Brookfield Animal Hospital can help! Please contact us today to ask us all of your pet safety questions. That’s what we’re here for! Have a happy and safe holiday with your pet this year. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Veterinary Boarding at Brookfield Animal Hospital

Have you ever considered boarding your pet while you take a family vacation or a weekend trip? Not all boarding facilities are created equal. At Brookfield Animal Hospital, we are so proud to be able to offer veterinarian-staffed boarding to offer pet owners peace of mind about their pets’ safety while they stay with us.

Our animal hospital is staffed with veterinarians 7 days a week, ensuring that your pet will be cared for in the event of illness or a veterinary emergency. Many pet boarding facilities are staffed by employees rather than veterinarians and veterinary professionals, making them ill-equipped to provide for your pet’s needs should a medical situation arise. That is not the case at Brookfield Animal Hospital, where your pet can be treated promptly.

Additional Benefits to Veterinary-Staffed Boarding

We can also provide veterinary treatment to our guests, if scheduled in advance. We can do dental cleanings, administer vaccines, conduct annual examinations, etc., while your pet is staying at our facility, saving you future trips to the vet.

Tour the Brookfield Animal Hospital Boarding Facility

If you’re a new client at Brookfield Animal Hospital or if your pet has never boarded with us, we welcome you to come in for a tour of our boarding facility. We would love for you to see what we have to offer. Schedule a tour or book your pet’s reservation with us today!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free and Natural Diets

We all know that good nutrition is important to health.  To help you make informed purchasing decisions, we’ve written a series of articles to help answer the question: “What should I feed my pet?”  In this blog article on pet nutrition, we will continue to try to demystify pet food selection by discussing gluten-free, grain-free, and natural diets.

In order to appeal to consumers, many pet food companies use terms like “natural”, “holistic”, “organic” and “human grade” with varied meanings.  The term "human grade" does not exist in any legal capacity so any company can claim their pet food contains “human grade” ingredients.  Since there are no official rules governing the labeling or organic foods for pets, monitoring and testing whether a pet food truly is organic is a low priority for the USDA.  Likewise, “holistic” is simply a marketing term without any specific definition and, since the term is not regulated, can be used on any pet food label.  AAFCO, the pet food industry’s regulatory body, does regulate “natural” to foods where NONE of the ingredients and components of ingredients are chemically synthesized (vitamins may be added).  This regulation does not apply to the food’s name, however.

With the growing number of people diagnosed with gluten allergies, pet food companies have begun marketing foods as grain or gluten-free.  But do these diets benefit pets?  Properly cooked grains in pet foods are highly digestible and dogs and cats can digest the carbohydrates from grains with an efficiency of greater than 90%.  Grains also contain fiber, which supports gastrointestinal health, as well as essential fatty acids and other nutrients that contribute to a healthy skin and coat.  Although allergies to proteins in grains can occur, less than 1% of dogs are sensitive to grains, far less common than allergies to animal protein sources.  Gluten allergies in dogs are very rare and have been reported primarily in Irish Setters.  Just as wheat gluten is added to breads to enhance their texture, a small amount in pet food helps canned formulas, kibbles and treats hold their shape.  Especially with dogs, gluten-free and grain-free diets do not typically provide superior nutrition than diets which do contain grains.

Although pet food packaging terms may not be very helpful information when choosing a pet food, the nutritional analysis does offer consumers some factual information.  Watch for our next blog explaining pet food nutrition labeling.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

3 Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Who says Halloween is just for kids? Nowadays, more and more pet owners are involving their pets in this fun-filled holiday. If you’ll be one of them, it’s important to use caution, since Halloween can be actually be a dangerous time for a pet if you’re not prepared. Consider the following three pet safety tips by Brookfield Animal Hospital, so your four-legged friends can have a safe, happy Halloween with you and the rest of the family.

1. Choose Your Pet Costume Wisely

Dressing a pet up is one of the most popular and probably most enjoyable ways to include a pet in the Halloween festivities. Whether you’re thinking of dressing up your fur baby as an Ewok, a comic book superhero, or maybe even a piece of food, always consider the comfort level of the costume you choose before leaving it on your pet. Keep in mind that not all pets will tolerate wearing anything more than their own fur, no matter how comfortable the costume. Also, some costumes can actually be dangerous if they fit too tightly or have sharp pieces or pieces that can pose a choking hazard. If possible, try to get your pet comfortable in the costume a few days before Halloween. And if, after all your preparation, your pet still appears uncomfortable or downright irritated in the costume, don’t force them to wear it. Just hope for better luck next year.

2. Provide Pet Identification

Halloween is one of the most common times of the year that pets go missing. Sadly, this can be the result of being stolen from their own yards or from making a quick dash through the front door after seeing it continuously open for costumed trick-or-treaters. This is why it’s so important to make sure that your pet has sufficient identification that includes your current address and phone number.

A microchip is another great method of pet identification that we recommend. A microchip is a tiny device that’s about the size of a grain of rice that’s placed just under the surface of the skin, near a pet’s shoulder blades. Your pet’s microchip can contain a unique bar code that links to your contact information and can be scanned by most animal hospitals and shelters. Having both an ID tag and microchip can greatly increase the chances of  safe, happy reunion, should your pet ever become separated from you on Halloween—or any other time of the year.

3. Use Caution with Candy and Decorations

Did you know that chocolate is one of the toxic foods to pets, due to the presence of the alkaloid theobromine? Although the amount of theobromine varies in different types of chocolate, typically, the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity. The clinical signs of chocolate toxicity can range from vomiting to diarrhea to seizures and can take several hours to develop. The sugar substitute xylitol, which is common in many candies, is another ingredient that’s toxic to pets and can result in hypoglycemia if ingested. It’s best to keep all the sweets out of your pet’s reach.

Decorations like candles and lit jack-o-lanterns can also be dangerous to a curious pet that might accidentally knock them over, so use caution if you plan to have these around your home this Halloween.

Feel free to contact us at (203) 775-3679 if you have any questions about the tips mentioned above or if you’d like to learn more about Brookfield Animal Hospital. We hope you and your family—fur babies included—all have a safe, fun Halloween!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Are By-Products and Corn Bad?

Despite current pet food advertising campaign claims, the majority of by-products and corn in pet foods are a cost effective means to provide very good nutrition to pets.  Remember that advertisers want to sell their product.  Pet food companies know that pet owners are willing to pay a premium if they perceive that a pet food provides better nutrition for their pet.  Therefore, pet food is marketed towards those perceptions and not towards nutrition facts.  Many pet foods are now made to look like food that their owners eat or touted to be the same as what your pet would eat in the wild.  But, is feeding your pet the same as you or a wolf really the best nutrition for your pet?  Let’s take a look at by-product and corn facts.

A by-product is any ingredient that is produced or left over when some other product is made.  Broths and gelatin are examples of by-products.  In pet foods, by-products come from “clean” animal parts such as liver, kidneys and other organs which, although not aesthetically pleasing for we humans to eat, may provide superior nutrition compared to “traditional“ animal parts.  Muscle meat is deficient in many nutrients, including calcium and other vitamins and minerals.  These nutrients are abundant in meat by-products and boost the nutrient value of a pet food.  Using these other animal parts allows the whole animal to be utilized thus decreasing waste.  While we in western cultures may not choose to eat those parts, your pet would definitely eat those nutritious parts if hunting their food.

Corn provides an inexpensive, good source of carbohydrates, protein and essential fatty acids in the diets of dogs and cats.   Although cats, which are true carnivores, may do better with a primarily protein diet, decades of dog domestication have created dogs that are omnivores, digesting both protein and carbohydrates well.   Corn gluten meal contains 60-70% protein with many essential amino acids.  Corn gluten meal is easy to digest, making its nutrients readily available to your pet.  When combined with other protein sources, corn meal can contribute to a highly digestible and nutritious diet.  There are 5 grades of corn quality, of which human food traditionally uses grades 1 and 2.  Quality pet nutrition companies also use grade 1 and 2 for their pet foods.  Incorporating some corn allows companies to provide good nutrition while keeping their price reasonable. 

When it comes to pet food, advertising may be misleading.  We’ll continue to discuss the nutrition “facts” in coming articles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Make Sure They Can Get Home: Check Your Pet's Microchip

Is your pet's microchip up-to-date? If your pet were lost, would an animal hospital or shelter be able to contact you once your pet was found?

It's important to get your pet microchipped; but it's just as important to make sure that microchip contains the correct information in order for your four-legged friend to get home.

How does a microchip work?
The microchip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is injected by a veterinarian or veterinary technician just beneath your pet's skin in the area between the shoulder blades. This is usually done without anesthesia, and the experience can be compared to getting a vaccination.
Each microchip has a unique registration number that is entered into a database or registry, and is associated with your name and contact information. If your lost dog or cat is found by an animal hospital, shelter or humane society, they will use a microchip scanner to read the number and contact the registry to get your information.

Make sure you can be found, too
While it may be comforting to know the microchip won't get lost or damaged, and that it will probably last the pet's lifetime, the microchip is useless if you're not updating your contact information with the registry. If your pet has been microchipped, keep the documentation paperwork so you can find the contact information for the registry. If you don't have the documentation paperwork, contact the veterinarian or shelter where the chip was implanted.

Keep in mind there are more than a dozen companies that maintain databases of chip ID numbers in the U.S. By using AAHA's Universal Pet Microchip Lookup at, you can locate the registry for your chip by entering the microchip ID number. If you don't have your pet's microchip ID number, have a veterinarian scan it and give it to you.

Only about 17% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats ever find their way back to their owners. Prevent the heartache and ensure your pet has an up-to-date microchip.

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pets and Water Safety: Pools, Boats, and Lakes

Summer has finally arrived and your four-legged friend can enjoy the cool water just as much as you do. But there are some things to be considered before letting your dog or cat dive into the summer fun.

Prepare & Plan Ahead

  • Pet Identification: Pet identification is a must, either in the form of a secure ID tag or a microchip, or better yet, both. Make sure your microchip is registered and up to date with contact information.

  • Personal Floatation Device: It is highly recommended that your pet don his/her own life vest when on or around water. These can be found either online or at your local pet supply store.

  • Obedience Training: Obedience training goes well beyond household manners. Having a dog who will obey your every command, including a solid “wait” and recall, in any situation will help you and your furry friend avoid hazardous situations and can even save his/her life. Teach your pet location specific routines, like where the steps are in the pool or how to get back onto your boat. Practice them frequently, so if a “pet overboard” situation occurs, he or she knows how to get out of the water safely.

  • Get Familiar with the Water: Familiarize yourself with any body of water before allowing your pet to take a dip. Be aware of tides and currents and don’t let your pet to swim in any hazardous areas or conditions. Get to know your pet’s athletic ability and limitations. Learn to read body language and recognize when he/she is becoming fatigued so that you can call them out of the water before he/she becomes too tired to swim.

  • First Aid: Know basic first aid for your pet and consider learning pet CPR. If an emergency should arise, proper steps taken in the field can save your pet’s life.

  • Bring Fresh Water for Your Pet to Drink: Offering water often will help avoid having them drink salt or potentially contaminated water.

Swimming Pools

Pools can be fun for the whole family, but, like children, your pet should never be granted access to your backyard oasis unsupervised. The best solution to this potential problem is enclosing the pool with a secure fence. If you don’t have a pool, a nice way to offer your pet that cool-water relief from the heat of the summer is a hard, plastic kiddie pool. A few inches of water will be just enough for the pet enjoy and is safe for pets of all shapes and sizes. But be sure to empty the pool after your pet is done cooling off. Standing water attracts mosquitoes, which transmit heartworm disease.


You and your pet should “test the waters” before actually setting sail together. Get your pet used to the water and the boat a little bit at a time at the dock or even on the trailer in your driveway. Once they are comfortable with the vessel, start by taking short trips. Pets can become motion sick, just like you and me. Speak with your veterinarian about medication that can manage this problem.

We’re all familiar with house training, but how about boat training? To make your nautical outings are a complete success, teach your pet to “do their business” in a specific location on the boat, and, for you go-getters, on command.

So, whether it’s a quick dip or a day-long cruise, you and your pet can safely enjoy the water together. Just take some time to plan ahead and have fun in the sun!

For more information, please visit The Pet Connection: Splish, Splash, Caution and
YachtPals’ Boating with Dogs and Cats

By: Katie Brunetti, Veterinary Technician

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hiking and Biking and Dog Parks...Oh My! Off Leash Safety

By Kate Dickson
Customer Care Coordinator
Brookfield Animal Hospital

The moment the temperatures rise above freezing, your dog is thinking one thing; DOG PARK! Dog parks are a great way for your pup to burn off extra energy, lose those winter pounds they may have gained and of course, to socialize. Socializing and exercise are key to help your dog stay happy and balanced, but keeping him safe during these activities is just as important. Whether you’re taking your pup on a long hike, a jog around the block or a quick jaunt to the dog park, there are certain steps and precautions you can take to make sure everyone has a good time and comes home tired, happy and ready to relax.

                When it comes to exercise, your dog’s body needs time to adjust to vigorous movement, much like yours does. Although you can see the eager look in your dog’s eyes when you say, “Wanna go for a walk?,” it’s best to ease him into a walking/jogging routine. Start small and give him plenty of time to rest up between active periods. Stay vigilant and take notice if your pet exhibits any change in gait, limping or damage to their paw pads. Gradually increase the activity level and you’ll reach your goal before you know it.

                When taking your pet on a trip, near or far, don’t forget to pack supplies for him as you would yourself. Extra water, a bowl, some snacks and an extra leash are just a few suggestions. It’s also not commonly known, but dogs can also get sunburned! It’s a good idea to apply some dog-safe sunscreen to your pooch before heading out, and reapply if you’re spending more than a couple hours in the sun. Always make sure your dog is wearing proper identification as well as a current rabies tag at all times, in case you get separated during your outing.

Adventures are sure to strengthen your bond with your pup, but never underestimate the power of good recall! Recall is the ability for your dog to come right to you when you call him, either using his name or another command. If you intend on having your dog off-leash in public, a strong recall is invaluable.

                Dog parks are a great tool for socializing your dog at any age, but keep in mind that the only supervision present is other pet owners. It’s a great idea to read up on some basic dog language to ensure your dog is having fun and behaving appropriately.  Dogs communicate in many different ways, but eye contact and body posturing are the easiest mannerisms to pick out. A dog in play is often loose and wiggly. Adversely, a warning sign for other dogs is stiff posturing and direct eye contact. An easy way to stop any potential issues before they arise is to simply walk in-between the two dogs, focusing on your dog and taking his attention away from the other dog. Dogs can absolutely get tired out and cranky, so know when it’s time to pack it up and head home.

Always be an advocate for your dog. You are the sole person responsible for their health, safety, behavior and well-being. Reach out to your veterinarian if you have questions about their health. Keep them well exercised in both body and mind and get the most out of your summer! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fear of Summer Storms & Fireworks: How Do I Help My Dog?

Fear of thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises is very common in dogs.  It can be very stressful to watch your pet shake, drool, pace, and crawl into your lap whenever there are storms or fireworks.   Worse yet are the sleepless nights spent comforting your pet during nighttime storms.  In their panic, some dogs will damage the house and even hurt themselves.  These dogs are truly suffering and can be a danger to the house and themselves if they try to “get away” from the noise.  Noise phobias usually start out with mild behavior.  Unfortunately, they almost always worsen over time, so it’s best to address the problem as soon as you notice symptoms.

The good news is there are steps you can take to help your pet.

            1.   Ensure your pet has access to his “safe” location when you know of an impending storm.   Identify if there is a spot in the house that your pet retreats to during storms.  Often dogs will seek out a closet, their crate, or go under beds when panicked.  Be aware, however, that for dogs trying to “get away” from the noise, confinement in a small space may increase their anxiety.  Some dogs have been known to pull out teeth trying to bite their way out of a crate.  Background “white noise,” ear covers (e.g. Mutt Muffs®) and sound muting cage covers (e.g. Thunderhut®) might also assist in reducing the intensity of the dog’s response while eye covers (e.g. Doggles®) and room darkening shades may reduce the visual stimuli associated with storms.

            2.  Behavior modification takes time, effort and repetition. It is important to first train the dog to relax in its own bed or comfort area (safe haven) to be sure you can calm him before dealing with any storm. Providing a safe and secure environment where the animal has a sense of control and predictability is important to success.  Behavior modification relies on several treatment strategies:  desensitization, counter-conditioning, and relaxation.

If dogs react to thunder, they can potentially be desensitized by playing CD recordings of thunder noises, initially at a low level and gradually increased overtime.  However, many dogs’ fear is stimulated by wind, barometric pressure changes, lightning and rain. In these cases, desensitizing against many of these stimuli is not possible.  Other dogs can be counter-conditioned to the storm by playing with or feeding the dog treats while the dog is subjected to the low levels of the stimulus.  Dogs should not be punished for fearful behavior as it will only distress them more.   Instead, dogs should be rewarded for remaining calm and relaxed.  It’s best to begin training during times of the year when storms or fireworks can be avoided, so that the pet’s reaction can be improved prior to the next thunderstorm season.

            3.  For mild responses to noise, pheromones and compression shirts may help calm your pet.  Pheromones are naturally secreted by dogs into their environment and help them feel calm.  Synthetic pheromones, such as Adaptil brand products, can mimic this calming response.  Compression shirts that your dog wears, such as the Thundershirt, also can have calming effects.

            4.  Most dogs with noise phobias, however, need anti-anxiety medications to prevent them from injuring themselves and to help keep their behavior from worsening.   The behavior modification techniques described above are much more successful when anti-anxiety  medications are used.  Some medications can be taken continuously throughout storm season while others are given only when a storm is forecast.  Medication, along with behavior modification, can reduce a dog’s distress and improve both the dog’s and the owner’s quality of life.

We encourage you to discuss your pet’s behavior concerns with your veterinarian when you first notice symptoms.  Treatment is much more successful when started early helping you and your pet have a happier life together.

--Silke Bogart, DVM

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Heartworm: A Very Different Disease in Cats vs. Dogs

Both dogs and cats are susceptible to heartworm infection from mosquitos.  However, the unique differences between each species means that heartworm disease in cats is very different than in dogs.  Cats are not a natural host for the heartworm parasite, Dirofilaria immitis.  So, when a cat is bitten by an infected mosquito, the cat’s immune system is able to kill most of the immature worms (microfilaria) before they reach adult life stages.  Therefore, only a few worms usually reach adulthood in cats.  Heartworms thrive in dogs, however, because dogs are a natural host of heartworm.  A dog may have upwards of 50 worms inside him.  

Unfortunately, it takes only one adult worm in a cat to cause clinical signs such as respiratory distress, coughing, vomiting, and even death.  Furthermore, the immature worms and the cat’s own immune response to them can cause asthma-like lung disease with lifelong symptoms, known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).   In dogs, it is usually only the adult worms that cause problems by damaging the heart and surrounding blood vessels.  These dogs often develop a cough, which can progress to difficulty breathing, weight loss, and ultimately heart failure and death.  

Heartworm is easily diagnosed in most dogs with a simple blood test which detects the presence of adult worms.  Because infected cats usually only have 1 to 3 worms in their bodies,  there are often too few worms for the blood tests to detect.  Diagnosing heartworm infection in cats can be very challenging because false negative test results are common. When a dog is diagnosed with heartworm, there is an FDA-approved medication to eliminate heartworms.  However, since there is NO approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats, the best we can do is try to manage the cat’s condition and symptoms.  The good news is that heartworm is easily preventable in BOTH cats and dogs with year-round medication.

  • By:  Stephanie Brittin, DVM

Friday, May 1, 2015

How Do I Treat Feline Heartworm?

Unfortunately for cats, there is no treatment for heartworm disease like there is for dogs.  Therefore, it is very important to prevent heartworm disease in cats.  We recommend feline Revolution, which is a monthly topical medication.  Revolution will not only protect against heartworm disease and intestinal parasites, but will also protect your cat from fleas and ear mites. Our staff will be happy to teach you how to apply Revolution to your cat; it is actually quite simple and we find most cats are not bothered by it at all.

We find that many of our clients believe heartworm preventatives are only necessary for outdoor cats.  However, it is important to point out that indoor-only cats can be exposed to heartworm by mosquitoes that enter your home through open doors and windows. In fact, mosquitoes will gravitate toward the warmest object in a room, and with normal feline body temperature at around 101.5 degrees, your cat may attract more mosquitoes inside the house than you do. So, if you’re getting bitten, your feline friend probably is being bitten as well. 

If you have additional questions on heartworm preventatives in cats (or dogs), please give our office a call at (203) 775-3679.

Author: Jeremy Salvatore

Dr. Salvatore joined Brookfield Animal Hospital in 2013.  He is a graduate of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary medicine.  Dr. Salvatore is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Salvatore has a special interest in veterinary dentistry. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Can My Cat Get Heartworm?

 The answer is a resounding “yes.”  You may have thought heartworm disease only affects dogs, but unfortunately cats can be infected with heartworm as well.  The cat is not a natural host for the heartworm parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, and so the microscopic immature heartworm larvae, called microfilaria, often do not grow into adult heartworms.  If they do reach maturity, there often are only a few adult heartworms in each infected cat.  That means fewer and smaller worms survive causing false negative heartworm test results and making accurate diagnosis more difficult. 

Heartworm disease in cats can have serious consequences and prevention is the key.  Both the immature microfilaria and the adult worms cause the cat’s body to set up an immune reaction to kill the developing worms.  This immune reaction causes lung damage, or Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD), resulting in asthma-type symptoms or even sudden death.  Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm-infected dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is really the only means of protecting cats from HARD. Once infected, the only recourse is to manage your cat’s symptoms, which may require long term medication and even hospitalization if symptoms are severe.   The following signs may indicate that your cat has been infected:
  • Persistent cough
  • Breathing difficulties (panting, wheezing, rapid or open-mouthed breathing)
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sporadic vomiting
  • Lethargy

If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, please call us right away at (203) 775-3679 to schedule an appointment. 

Next week, look for Dr. Salvatore’s piece on heartworm prevention in cats, and why it’s important for even our indoor cats to be protected. 

By Rachael Chandler, CVT

 Rachael Chandler is a certified veterinary technician and is one of two feline advocates we have on staff.  Please feel free to give Rachael a call for tips on making your cat’s visit to our office easier, or to ask any general cat care questions.  You can also visit our website at and look under the “Services” tab for other cat care tips.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious, potentially-fatal disease seen in pets in the United States as well as other parts of the world.  Heartworm disease is caused by heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis), which are parasites that can grow to be one foot long within an infected animal.  These parasites live in the heart and the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, and they can cause severe lung damage and heart failure.  In addition to dogs and cats, heartworms can live in other mammals, such as wolves, coyote, and foxes. These wild animals can serve as a source of infection for our pets.

The mosquito is essential in the transmission of heartworm.  Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic immature worms called microfilaria which circulate in the bloodstream.  When a mosquito bites an infected animal and takes a blood meal, it picks up these microfilaria.  Over the course of 10-14 days, the microfilaria mature into an infective stage of larvae within the mosquito.  After maturation occurs, when that mosquito bites a dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are able to enter the new host.  Once inside the new host, it takes approximately six months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms.  Adult heartworms can live for five to seven years in dogs and up to two to three years in cats.  The longer an animal is infected, the more likely it will show signs of disease.  The signs of heartworm disease can vary in dogs and cats but often relate to damage to the heart and/or lungs.  These signs can be as subtle as a loss of appetite, or as severe as sudden death.  We will discuss the signs in more detail in a future post. 

Heartworms are present in all 50 states, and the American Heartworm Society estimates that over one million dogs in the United States are currently infected with adult heartworms.  Because infected mosquitoes can get inside your home, both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk.  Prevention is the key to keeping your pet healthy and safe from heartworm disease.  A variety of safe and effective preventives are available for both dogs and cats.  Look for more blog posts later this month written by our staff members to learn more about heartworm disease and what we recommend to prevent it, or call our office at (203) 775-3679 for more information.

By Michael Dattner, DVM

Michael Dattner, DVM, along with his wife, Silke Bogart, DVM is the owner of Brookfield Animal Hospital.  Please click here  to read his complete bio. 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Reasons To Act More Like Your Pet

Pets aren’t always easy to take care of, and they often require a substantial time commitment (something you’re all too aware of at, say, 3 a.m., when Bing Clawsby is finally ready to go outside and do his business). But pets provide an amazing return on that time investment, especially when it comes to your health. Case in point: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners. But that’s not all. Pets also model many surprisingly healthy behaviors that humans would do well to emulate. Here are just a few, according to veterinarians, dog trainers, and other pet experts. 

1. They focus on what matters most. You may get grumpy after a bad day at the office, but your pooch never does. “Companion animals mostly care about food, love, and shelter (not always in that order). As long as they have those things, they don’t need much else,” Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian and cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice tells Yahoo Health. “Pets also don’t complain much at all. People believe they hide their pain; I simply think they manage it differently.” If humans could model these behaviors, Gardner adds, we’d be healthier, happier, “and more people would want to be around us.” 

2. They practice portion control (even if not by choice). Snowball might not want to limit her kibble intake any more than you want to limit your tortilla-chip intake. Nonetheless, she typically eats reasonably sized helpings of nutritionally balanced food — and never gets to eat straight out of the bag. Follow her lead. “Both animals and people need structure and regulation when it comes to portion size,” says Jme Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue based in Redmond, Washington. 

3. They know how to de-stress. Your pooch doesn’t pour a glass of cabernet when the going gets rough (though, yes, it would make a very popular YouTube video if she did). She may, however, start begging for a walk or to play a game. Smart dog! “Actively seeking healthy activities — that function as de-stressors when stress levels are high — helps to reset people as well as dogs, and bring us back to a productive and functional status, from which many things feel a lot more ‘do-able,’” Marisa Scully, a certified dog behavior specialist in Philadelphia, tells Yahoo Health. 

4. They hit the hay. People don’t get enough sleep: According to a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans said that a lack of sleep had impaired their activities at least once in the previous week. Learn from your cat or dog, who knows just how important it is to get enough shut-eye, says Jeff Werber, VVM, president and chief veterinarian of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. “Whether it’s a lazy dog day afternoon, or a quick cat nap, you won’t find them burning the candles at both ends.”

5. They stretch! There’s a reason one of the most common yoga moves is named downward dog. Dogs (and cats) stretch constantly — and we should do the same, notes certified dog behavior consultant Russell Hartstein. Why? Stretching can improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury. 

6. They’re open to new things. Animals are naturally curious. “Open a box or empty a bag and before you know it, your cat will have climbed in to investigate. Walk your dog past a gardener planting flowers and chances are she will check it out before moving on,” Werber says. “And they’re always up for some fun. A game of catch, a walk, a visit — bring it on.” Since research has found that seeking out new experiences can keep people feeling young and healthy, we’d do well to follow suit.

7. They’re comfortable getting zen. Numerous studies have found a correlation between mindful meditation and reduced stress, decreased heart disease, and a stronger immune response — and that’s something your cat already knows how to do instinctively. “Each morning I sit on the sofa with my cat, Turtle, while I drink my first cup of coffee,” says Kristen Levine, a pet living expert. “We spend about 10 minutes together, her getting neck and head rubs, me enjoying her purring and having a few meditative moments at the start of the day.It sounds simple, and it can be, but depending on the activity, it can have a powerfully relaxing or invigorating effect for both human and critter.” 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Protect Your Pet During Winter and Cold Weather

Keep pets indoors and warm

The best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time.

Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops

During walks, short-haired dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater. No matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.

Take precautions if your pet spends a lot of time outside

A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Help neighborhood outdoor cats 

If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats (ferals, who are scared of people, and strays, who are lost or abandoned pets) in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It's easy to give them a hand.

Give your pets plenty of food and water 

Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

Be careful with cats, wildlife and cars 

Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

Protect paws from salt 

The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.

Avoid antifreeze poisoning 

Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and keep antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family.

Speak out if you see a pet left in the cold

If you encounter a pet left in the cold, document what you see: the date, time, exact location and type of animal, plus as many details as possible. Video and photographic documentation (even a cell phone photo) will help bolster your case. Then contact your local animal control agency or county sheriff's office and present your evidence. Take detailed notes regarding whom you speak with and when. Respectfully follow up in a few days if the situation has not been remedied.