Blog Posts by petMD

  • Saving Orphaned Kittens

    Image via Thinkstockby Jennifer Coats, DVM |

    "Hey Doc, someone just left a box of kittens outside the front door and drove away." That's how one of my more memorable days in veterinary practice started. When the clinic's receptionist uttered those fateful words, I was already up to my armpits in patients and didn't have time to give the new arrivals a once over. A technician took a quick peek inside, estimated that the kittens were around 7-8 weeks old, and put the box in a cage in our isolation ward with food, water, and a litter box.

    At the end of a day, I remembered the kittens. I went into isolation to figure out what they needed in the way of testing, vaccines, deworming, etc. and found four 7-8 week old kittens and, tucked into a corner under a towel, one tiny newborn. He couldn't have been more than two or three days old. I guess the guilt I felt for leaving the little guy high and dry for most of the day is one of the reasons I ended up taking him home and bottle-feeding him.

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  • Can You Trust Your Vet's Advice?

    Alexander Rath/ Shutterstockby Dr. Joanne Intile, DVM, DACVIM |

    Last week ABC aired a segment on 20/20 describing the story of a former veterinarian who was "forced" to leave the profession because he often felt compelled to recommend what he considered unnecessary tests and procedures on otherwise healthy pets in order to maintain revenue.

    In the opening scene, he describes an instance where he instructed owners to simply monitor a mass they noticed on their dog's skin because he strongly felt it was benign. The practice owner, a senior veterinarian, caught wind of his conservative recommendation and openly chastised him.

    The "less experienced" veterinarian stated that he was directly instructed by his superior to instill fear in the owners by mentioning the "C word" (cancer) to describe the mass, thereby implying it was something more insidious.

    Naturally, once concern for a malignant tumor was raised, the owners conceded to testing the mass. The results confirmed it was a benign fatty

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  • 10 Holiday Decorations Dangerous for Your Pet

    Randy Robertson/ via Flickrby petMD |

    'Tis the Season

    Twinkling lights, sparkly tinsel, brightly colored garland, and delicate ornaments - what's not to love about holiday decorations? The dangers they can pose for your beloved pet, that's what. While avoid may be too strong of a word, as we're not suggesting you do away with all of these decorations completely, please be mindful of the sorts of decorations you use and their placement this holiday season.

    #10 Christmas trees
    Yes, this decoration is kind of a Christmas staple. However dog and cat owners need to be aware of some things if they're going to have a tree and a pet. Some dogs tend to jump up a lot and may jump into the tree, knocking it over, breaking precious ornaments, and possibly injuring themselves. Cats have been known to climb into Christmas trees, causing the same effects. It is best to keep your pet out of the room with the tree, unless supervised.

    #9 Imitation snow
    Also called flocking, imitation snow on a

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  • How an Amazing Pit Bull Started an Animal Rights Movement

    Patrick, recoveredby Dr. Patrick Mahaney,VMD |

    In 2012, I had the opportunity to be involved in a one of the most popular animal welfare stories of that particular year. Unfortunately, the popularity of the story stemmed from a horrific act of animal abuse. You may recall the unfortunate situation of Patrick the Pit Bull, who was neglected, starved, and ultimately disposed of down a garbage chute and left to die by his owner, Kisha Curtis, in Newark, New Jersey.

    Through the good work of those involved in his medical care, Patrick made a full recovery. My friend and professional associate, Susan Davis, participated in Patrick's care as she performed his physical rehabilitation. I featured Davis's perspective on providing care to Patrick in the following two articles for petMD: How Physical Rehabilitation Aided Patrick the Pit Bull's Remarkable Recovery From Abuse and Neglect and The Will to Survive - Patrick's Story, Part 2.

    Considering my indirect involvement in Patrick's cause, I was quite

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  • It's Senior Pet Month - 10 Reasons Senior Pets Are Perfect for Kids

    Monkey Business Images / via ShutterstockBy Jessica Remitz |

    Celebrate Senior Pet Month!

    Adopting a dog or cat is an exciting time for every member of the family - especially for the kids. While they may want to take home a puppy or kitten (who can resist those little faces?), there are a lot of excellent reasons to consider adopting a senior dog or cat. Here are just a few of the many reasons older pets are great for families.

    They're a Well-Kept Secret
    "Compared to the huge undertaking it is to raise a youngster, I find that the pleasures and joys of an adult pet are so underrated," said Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA adoption center. "The best kept secret is getting a pet that's already an adult."

    Families with busy households and parents who work full time will find it a joy to have an older, experienced dog or cat compared to starting from the beginning with a puppy or kitten.

    Most Are Trained
    As many older pets are already acclimated to living in a home, they're

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  • Top 10 Thanksgiving Pet Dos & Don'ts

    Robynrg via Shutterstockby petMD |

    Be Prepared When Your Pet Comes Begging
    With the holidays approaching, your dog or cat will inevitably be begging to partake in the big turkey dinner. When polled, 56 percent of petMD readers admitted to sharing Thanksgiving table scraps with their pets. While this can be a wonderful way to add lean protein and fresh veggies to your pet's diet, there are also hidden dangers in holiday fare. This year, before preparing a heaping plateful for your pet, consult a vet and consider these 10 tips to keep Thanksgiving a safe, healthful holiday for your dog or cat.

    #10 Yes to Turkey
    Turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet. You will just want to be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat, and make sure there are no bones.

    #9 No to Alliums
    Nothing with alliums (i.e., onions, garlic, leeks, scallions) should be ingested by your pet. While it is true that small, well-cooked portions of these foods can be okay if

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  • Is Your Pet Burning Calories Faster Than You?

    Image via Thinkstockby Dr. Ken Tudor, DVM |

    It is amazing how much we know about calorie expenditure in humans during exercise. Charts are available that list countless types of exercise and the number of calories that are burned at various levels of intensity. Exercise machines equipped with monitors can also calculate calorie expenditure. So how many calories do animals burn during exercise?

    What We Know and Don't Know About Pet Calories
    Surprisingly, we know very little about exercise and calorie expenditure in pets. A common belief among veterinarians and pet health practitioners is the 70/30 Percent Rule. It is thought that pets enrolled in weight loss programs that include exercise lose 70% of their calories due to calorie restriction and 30% due to calorie loss during exercise. Although this sounds good, there is no evidence to support it.

    Although there is extensive veterinary exercise physiology research in horses, there is precious little of the same research in cats and

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  • Is Your Cat a Show-Off or Shy?

    Image: TungCheung/Shutterstockby Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM |

    We often talk about people being extroverts or introverts. Merriam Webster defines the terms like this:

    extrovert - a friendly person who likes being with and talking to other people : an outgoing person

    introvert - broadly : a reserved or shy person

    I prefer defining the personality traits in terms of how a person recharges his or her batteries. I'm an introvert. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I get back on an even keel by going for a hike in the woods, reading a book, or some other activity that isolates me from other people. My friend Jane is a classic extrovert. When she needs the proverbial shot in the arm, she seeks people out; the bigger and more raucous the group the sooner she'll be feeling better. This is not to say that Jane doesn't need moments to herself or that I live my life as a hermit, we simply have different comfort zones that we retreat to when we need a break.

    Cat Behavior 101

    Cats can be extroverts or

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  • Get Fit and Lose Weight with Your Pet

    Image via Thinkstockby petMD |

    Breaking the junk food habit is hard to do. In the U.S., this reluctance to sever our ties with large portions and high sugar content has resulted in a growing prevalence of overweight and obese people. According to a 2010 Gallup Poll study on the subject, 6 in 10 American adults are overweight or obese. That's more than half the population! And studies show that overweight owners generally have overweight pets as well.

    The maxim of "one for me, one for you" has created a nation in which diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and respiratory ailments is the norm -- for both people and pets -- and it will have to get better or we could be taking tremendous leaps backward in terms of lifespan and joy of health. A growing number of studies and anecdotal evidence is finding that in all but the rarest of cases, better health through exercise and controlled food choices can be achieved.

    It's all in the Numbers

    The People and Pets Exercising Together

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  • Cats Bring Potential Breakthrough in HIV Research

    Image via Thinkstockby Dr. Lorie Huston, DVM |

    Researchers from the University of Florida and University of California, San Francisco are reporting a surprise finding that may lead to the development of an effective vaccination against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). And the finding involves cats.

    More specifically, it involves the discovery of an immune response in humans infected with HIV to a specific protein associated with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

    If successful, the development of this particular vaccine product will mark the first time that T-cells have been used in a vaccine to prevent disease. It's a novel approach to a serious and difficult to solve problem.

    T-cells are a part of the immune system, the natural response of the body to rid itself of disease. In this case, a peptide (a small protein) which is part of the makeup of the FIV virus has been found to activate a response by T-cells, allowing them to recognize, attack, and destroy cells

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