Cold Weather for Dogs, Part 4: Too cold for outside!

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It’s snowing outside, freezing cold, and you can’t get your dog her normal exercise.  You still have to go to work, and you need a way to get her some activity.  This is when being creative goes a long way!  This week is our final installment on caring for your dog during cold weather, and we’re focusing on indoor activities.  Below are a few tricks on how to keep your pet exercised when spending a lot of time outside is not an option:

Games

Does your dog have favorite toys or treats?  Maybe even a family member?  Play hide-and-go-seek as a way to get your dog’s brain working in overdrive from the comfort of your home.

For a less DIY approach, there are puzzle toys, which can be filled with food or treats.  If your dog is watching his waistline, try feeding meals from these toys instead of in a bowl.  It will take more time than wolfing down dinner the normal way, and be a lot more interesting for him.  Just be sure to supervise use of these toys, just in case.

Training

Learning takes A LOT of energy.  Harness that and take 20 minutes to do a quick training session with your dog.  Work on leash commands within the ready-to-go obstacle course that is your apartment, or teach your dog a new trick.  Make sure to use lots of treats to keep it fun and high energy!  A few sessions like this in a day will minimize how long your walks need to be, and make for an all star pooch when the weather warms up.

Dr. Sophia Yin‘s website has a wealth of information and images on how to work on specific manners in a way that makes it easy and fun for you and your dog.

Befriend your super and neighbors!

Many buildings have long hallways, open basement areas, or other limited-access spots that might serve as an option for indoor activity.  Think games of fetch, training areas, and general romping when the park isn’t a good option.  (Just make sure to get your building on board before hand!)

Play groups

Your neighbors are probably facing the same winter weather issues as you.  Do any of them have friendly dogs that would benefit from a little play time?  If so, clear an area in one of your apartments and set up a play group.  This is a great way to let them burn some energy and get to know your neighbors.  You may even find someone who is able to help out trading dog walks and pet sitting down the line.

When you are lacking in K9 neighbors, you’ll be sure to find lots of play companions at doggie day cares.  Doggedly Devoted is a great facility near our office in Harlem, with lots of indoor space set up for dogs to play while you are at work.

 

If you’re worried that your pet isn’t getting enough exercise, let us know!  We’ll help you find resources to get you through to the Spring when long walks are an option again!

What table scraps can cats eat? Our holiday guide for felines.

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Most of our patients and cats in NYC will be indoors for the winter, but even normally indoor-outdoor cats will be spending more time inside during the inclement weather, and have plenty of time to get themselves in trouble!

Table scraps

So what can you safely feed your cat after Thanksgiving?  Luckily, it’s one of the holidays where a little table scraps are safe!  It’s all about turkey for cats, and they can eat a little of your roasted bird without worries.  Try to offer the white meat (lower fat and easier to digest), and be sure to avoid any bones.  In general it’s not a good idea to feed them raw meat (Salmonella risk to them and you!), but some cooked turkey is just fine.  If your family eats ham or beef, they can also have a little of this.  The key is moderation — a little goes a long way!

Cats are carnivores, so they don’t need vegetables, but if you want to try a little green bean or broccoli that’s OK, too.  Avoid onions and garlic, and any sauces or spices.

Decoration dangers

The real fun for cats is in knocking down your Christmas tree, eating tinsel, and chewing up light cords.  We’ve even known cats who tried to play with lit candles!  Make sure that any tempting items are well out of your cat’s reach, and if anything does get eaten, have him checked out ASAP.  The longer something sits in the stomach, the less likely we are to be able to get it out without surgery and complications.

Winter warnings

During the colder months, cats are more at risk for injury from toxic exposures (antifreeze, poisonous plants, medications), traumatic injuries (hiding in car engines and wheel wells to stay warm), and burns (lit candles, fireplaces, radiators).  Get rid of, or safely store, any toxic items in the house.  Be aware of houseguests who may have mediation with them and keep it in a safe place.  If your cat goes outside, make sure he has a safe place to stay warm so he is less likely to crawl into dangerous spaces.  For indoor cats, be wary of candles and fires.

If your cat has managed to get into trouble, we’re here for you!  We are happy to field calls anytime you are concerned, and would rather  have the chance to tell you not to worry than wish we could have intervened sooner.  Contact us anytime you are concerned.

Cold Weather for Dogs, Part 3: Visibility

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Over the winter months, most New Yorker’s dog walking hours are dark.  For pups on leash and on sidewalks, this isn’t a major concern, but in some parks and off leash areas, visibility is a concern.  Make sure other people, vehicles, and animals can see your pet, and avoid unnecessary accidents.

There are a range of visibility products on the market, and we’ve got a rundown of our favorites below:

Lights

One of the simplest ways to quickly update your pet for dark hours is to attach a light to his collar or harness.  They are small, inexpensive, durable, and easy to replace if needed.  They’re unlikely to bother your pet if she already wears tags.

Reflective Apparel

Much like our own athletic wear, many brands now make dog apparel with built in reflective fabric to improve visibility.  While it may not be enough in truly dark conditions, it doesn’t hurt to add it to the getup.  As a bonus, where smaller lights may be hidden in some positions, larger jackets and harnesses are easy to spot from all directions.

  • The Rambo dog rug is an insulated coat with lots of reflective surface!
  • Looking for cute and safe?  Etsy has lots of stores that make fashion coats with reflective fabrics; they can often make them to your dog’s specific measurements, too!
  • Petflect makes bright reflective collars

Collars and Leashes

Some new collars are available with built in lights that can be activated only when needed.  This simple collar swap will keep your pet visible all winter long.

  • Shine for Dogs makes a collar that is rechargeable and can be set to flash or stay lit solidly; as an added bonus, part of the proceeds go to help rescue dogs!
  • Nite Ize makes a variety of options, including this necklace (and check out their LED ball and frisbee for fetch in the dark!)
  • Squeaker Dog makes super bright leashes in a range of colors
  • Keep Doggies Safe has a harness option for dogs who don’t wear collars

Out of the city

Be mindful of time spent out of the city, and be sure to check local alerts for hunting seasons and other restrictions.  If you will be in areas with active hunting, be sure to bring appropriate attire for yourself and your pets.  This really needs to be a step beyond general visibility wear to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • Orvis makes a bright visibility vest that is a good example

We’ll be taking a break from our cold weather series next week to give some much overdue attention to our feline friends.  Check back in two weeks for our final installment, discussing how to modify exercise during inclement weather, and keep your active dog happy, even when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating!

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

Cold Weather for Dogs, Part 2: Paw Protection

 

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This week we’re talking about what is probably the most important cold weather accessory for your dog — paw protection!  Dogs’ paw pads are naturally insulated against the cold, but they don’t have much protection against slipping on ice, or salt burns.  Make sure to have something on hand this winter in case snow fall, and the cleanup that follows, puts your pup at risk.

 

Dog Booties

Rubber Balloon Booties — such as those made by Pawz are an inexpensive option, and come in packs with a few full sets, so if they wear out you have backup ready.  They are water proof, and easy to put on.  Make sure they fit snuggly over your dog’s foot to prevent them flopping off on walks.  Be careful not to ‘snap’ them onto your pet’s ankle — it will feel like a rubber band being smacked against your skin, and may put him off wearing them.

Velcro Sewn Booties — these tend to be heavier duty, and are less likely to wear out.  DuraPaws makes one of the more utilitarian options.  This type of boot can be bulkier, and are more expensive.  Unlike the rubber options, they do offer some insulation against cold if your pet is sensitive.

Non-Boot Options

Musher’s Secret is the classic example of a non-boot paw protector.  This wax mix comes in a variety of sized tubs, and can be wiped onto the surface of your dog’s paws.  For dogs who do not tolerate wearing booties, but need some protection from salt, this can be a good option.  It is unlikely to irritate their paws, and can be cleaned off easily after walks.  The main downside is that it may need to be reapplied for longer excursions.

For the extremely particular dog (we know some out there…), putting anything on paws may not be an option.  If this is the case with your pet, just be mindful of the surfaces she is walking on.  If there is a lot of salt on the pavement, try to walk her over areas with fresh-ish snow, and wipe paws down regularly.  Avoid slippery ice and prolonged walks.  If you dog does suddenly hold up one leg on a walk, check the paw, and wipe it with your glove or some snow to relieve sharp salt burns.

 

If you’re worried that none of the above will work for your pooch, contact us to discuss what might be right for him.

 

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

Cold Weather for Dogs, Part 1: Coats

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It’s getting chilly out and sweater weather is here.  Pet stores know it, and while we’re buying new sweatshirts and boots for ourselves, it’s time to stock up for our pets, too.  So what do dogs need for winter in NYC?  We’ll be writing a series of posts on cold weather gear and considerations for your urban pup.  Part one today discusses coats and jackets.  Next week we’ll discuss paw protectors.

Jackets/Coats

Does your dog need a coat?  She’ll probably let you know — if she’s shivering on a normal walk, it is worth trying one!  If you aren’t sure, take a look at her normal fur.  If she has a thick undercoat, she is unlikely to need any manmade insulation.  If, however, she has a short coat with no undercoat, and large areas of thin fur or exposed skin, a coat is a good idea.  Many small breeds also need a little extra warmth!

A couple of our favorite coats are below:

Ruffwear brand makes a huge range of utilitarian jackets, harnesses, and packs for dogs to use year round.  This brand focuses on active dogs, and their clothes are designed to still allow pets to play and run.  They have excellent instructions on measuring for fit, and most coats include reflective strips and water resistant layers for versatile use.  Their overcoat is one good option.

Full body fleece suits are necessary for some smaller breeds, especially if they are less active when outside.  Italian greyhounds are the classic breed we think of, but some other thin-coated breeds may benefit from this option when polar vortex temperatures hit!

Horse blanket style coats are boxier, and usually have a strap under the chest to secure them.  They are easy to fit to a range of body types, and provide a lot of warmth on walks without too much fuss.  Weatherbeeta makes a wide range of options.

On a budget?  Overstock.com carries a lot of pet supplies, and often has good deals on pet apparel (as well at crates, beds, toys, etc.).

Be mindful of how long your winter walks are, too.  During inclement or very cold weather, not all dogs do well with long walks.  Northern breeds (think Huskies, Akitas, Samoyeds) are more likely to enjoy this weather, while short coated dogs (e.g. Pitties, Dobermans, Vizslas)  may need shorter excursions.

Still not sure whether your dog needs a coat, or if the one you have is the right option?  Contact us for personalized advice for your pet.

Check back next week for information on booties, and the week after for options to keep your pet seen and safe in darker seasons.

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

Pet Care While You Are Away

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Lets face it — boarding options for dogs and cats in New York City are limited, and often expensive.  As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to start making arrangements for your four legged family members.  Below are a few of the pet care options members of the Uptown Vets family have used, and the pros/cons we saw with each:

(1) Boarding facility: we’ve had our pets stay at boarding facilities where we know the staff well and feel comfortable that our pets will receive the best care possible.

Pros — if your dog is animal friendly, some offer play time to help keep them stimulated, professionals are caring for your pet, so if something goes wrong they have experience handling it.

Cons — your pet is in an unknown environment and his routine is disrupted, some facilities don’t have staff on site overnight, sometimes the most expensive option.

(2) House and Pet Sitters: if you can find someone to stay at your home, you can kill two birds with one stone.  Especially if you have a nice apartment, this can be a mini vacation for animal friendly friends, family, or others (we’ve had clients hire grad students, and other people who would love to relax in a place of their own for a few days!).

Pros — less stressful for some pets, your home is also watched, and you can arrange a personalized schedule, often best for cats.

Cons — you need to find someone you feel extra secure leaving in charge, and make sure their schedule suits your pets’ needs.

(3) In-home Boarding: some dog walkers and individuals offer boarding in their own homes (check out Dog Vacay to find independent people).

Pros — your dog is staying with someone excited to pet sit, for a pre-arranged fee.

Cons — make sure you are comfortable with the environment and the person before leaving your pets!

 

Ultimately, make sure you are happy with the level of experience, care, and personalized attention your pet(s) will receive.  When making your decision, be sure to consider your pet’s needs — are they stressed by a change in routine?  Would they be happy in a kennel for large portions of the day?  Do they like strangers?

Be sure you are aware of any vaccines, preventatives, or paperwork required by your chosen boarding pet care option.  Let us know if you need anything so we can prepare it in advance of your travel!

 

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

Tick Preventative: Your Concerns and FAQs Answered

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At Uptown Vets, we talk with you (our wonderful clients!) a lot about parasite preventatives.  Tick prevention is one of our passions, and never more so than in the Autumn, when weather is cooling off, but ticks are still out!  Below are the most common concerns we hear, and Drs. Sullivan and Obernesser’s responses.  If you have other worries about ticks, parasites in general, or preventatives, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  We’re here to answer them all!

 

Concern:  My dog doesn’t leave the city.

Answer: Even if your dog lives exclusively in the city, ticks can be found in parks, brush, and on other animals.  1 in 10 dogs in the five boroughs tests positive for lyme disease, and other diseases are on the rise.

 

Concern: My dog is vaccinated for lyme disease, so doesn’t need preventative.

Answer: The lyme vaccine greatly reduces the risk of lyme disease, but cannot completely prevent every case, and there is no vaccine available for other diseases spread by ticks.  A combined approach to prevention is important — vaccination, tick prevention, and monitoring your dog for bites.

 

Concern: I’ve never seen a tick on my dog.

Answer: If only we saw every tick!  We often have patients testing positive for tick borne disease, with no history of tick bites.  We know they were bitten (there’s no other way to spread these diseases), we just missed the tick.

 

Concern: I don’t like putting chemicals on my dog, and the greasy residue bothers me.

Answer:  There are several different preparations of preventatives; some are oral and some are topical.  There are even some highly effective collars now available!  If you don’t like using a liquid topical, call us and we can recommend an appropriate alternative based on your pet’s lifestyle and your specific concerns.  In some cases a combination of the three options may even be appropriate.

 

Concern: Preventatives are expensive.

Answer:  We were curious about this issue  as well!  We priced out a year of preventative versus treating a straightforward lyme infection, and it was about 300% more expensive to treat lyme than to use a year of preventative and vaccinate.  If finances are an issue, it’s much cheaper to prevent tick-borne illness than treat it.

 

Do you have other questions or concerns?  We want to hear them!  Email or call us and we can help decide what option(s) are best for your individual dog.

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Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

Your Dog and Rats in New York City — What are the risks?

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New York City has a well known rodent population, with stories and myths to go with it (Rat King anyone?).  While your dog is unlikely to have direct contact with these amazing creatures, there are a few risks you need to know about, and be prepared to handle.

 

(1)  Leptospirosis — “lepto” is a bacterial disease, spread in the urine of rodents, rats and mice included.  It can be passed between most mammals, including dogs, cats, and people.  The disease is especially scary, because some animals show no symptoms of infection, while others can become severely ill, and even die, in just hours.

Have you ever bought a soda at the bodega and wondered why you got a straw?  It’s one way of preventing leptospirosis — if a rat has urinated on the can, and you then drink directly from it, you can come into contact with this deadly bacteria.  The same is true for your dog — if a carrier animal has urinated on the sidewalk or bush your dog is sniffing, he can become infected.

Prevention: there is a vaccination available, and can be started in puppies as young as twelve weeks old.  At Uptown Vets we use a new formulation of the vaccine that is just half the volume of traditional vaccines, making it more comfortable for your pet, and less likely to cause reactions.

Treatment: if your pet is lethargic, not eating, drinking or urinating more than normal, or otherwise ill, please contact us or an emergency hospital immediately; urgent treatment is needed!

 

(2) Bites — if your dog gets into an altercation with a rat, bite or scratch wounds should be treated to prevent infection, and your pet’s rabies vaccine may need to be boostered.  While reports of rabies in NYC are rare, they do happen, and rats are one of the possible transmitting species.  Rabies infections are always fatal, and keeping your pets’ up to date on preventative vaccines is important.

 

(3) Dead rats — dogs will be dogs, and we get the occasional report of a patient of ours eating a dead rat.  There are three problems with this: (a) this may upset her stomach, (b) your pet may be exposed to any diseases that rat was carrying, and (c ) if the rat died from poison, your dog needs to be treated for the poison as well.  If your dog eats a rat, let us know ASAP.  We can often administer a special medication to make him vomit, getting the offending rodent out of the way before it can be digested.

 

For more information on living with pets in New York City, or to make an appointment, please visit our website.

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Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

Travelling with Pets

As the summer comes to a close, lots of us will be getting out of NYC for one final long weekend.  Whether you are heading to Long Island, the Catskills, or heading to Coney Island for a day on the beach, if your pet is coming, here are a few tips to make the trip easy:

 

(1) Should your pet come with you?  Does your pet do well travelling, or would he/she be happier at home with a pet sitter?   Sometimes the least stressful option for pets is maintaining their normal routine, even if they have to be away from you.

(2) Give your pet a chance to be a happy traveler — take time in the weeks (and months) leading up to your trip to work on using the carrier/crate for extended periods of time and in a variety of settings that mimic your trip.  Be sure training sessions are low stress, full of fun treats/toys, and always end on a high note.

(3) Plan ahead — make sure to bring enough of your pet’s normal food and any medications to last the entire trip and set up a safe place for your pet to stay confined if need be (such as a large enough kennel or crate with good ventilation).   Find out if you need any travel documents (vaccine certificates, health certificates) and schedule time to collect them a few days before your trip.

(4) Be prepared in case of emergency — look up veterinarians along your route and at your destination that are open 24 hours a day.   Make sure your pet is microchipped in case of escape, and keep your registration information up to date.  Bring a recent photo of your pet just in case.

(5) Prepare your car (or carry on bag) for your pet passenger(s) — bring food and water for the trip, comfortable bedding, a good toy (and for cats, think about catnip and calming pheromone sprays), and turn on child locks to prevent inadvertent escapes!

If you have any specific concerns regarding your pet and travel, contact us as early as possible.  We’re happy to help you make a travel plan that works for your family, but some plans may take a few days to put in place.

 

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295 West 112th Street, New York, NY 10026

(212) 222-1221   —   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

 

Microchips — How they could save your pet

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August 15, 2015 is National Check the Chip Day, an opportunity to make sure our pets are protected in case they go missing.  Even indoor pets in NYC are at risk of sneaking out when the door is open; in a city like ours, being lost on the street is a scary prospect.

Each year,  approximately 10 million and dogs and cats go missing, which translates to 1/3 of all pets being lost at some point in their life.  Only 1 in 5 dogs will be reunited with his or her family, and only 1 in 50 cats!

In June 2015, New York City’s Animal Care and Control (the city shelter) took in 391 stray dogs and 1266 stray cats.  30% of the dogs were reunited with their owners, and just 3% of the cats.

 

How can I improve my pet’s chances of being found?

  • Get your pet microchipped!

Dogs with microchips are twice as likely to find their way home, cats with microchips are 16 times more likely!  A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and can be inserted quickly while your pet is awake.  Contact us to set up an appointment to place one for your pet.

  • Register your pet’s microchip

Placing a microchip is half the process, the other half is registering it.  When a microchip is scanned, it provides a unique number, but no other information.  That number is listed in a worldwide database, and can be linked to your information.  Only half the microchips placed are ever registered, which means half these animals are still unlikely to make it home.

  • Maintain your registration

Whenever you move, change your number, or are unreachable, be sure to update your registration.  This way, if your pet is found by a vet or a shelter, the chip will be scanned, your information will be retrieved, and your pet will come home!

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295 West 112th Street, New York, NY 10026

(212) 222 – 1221   —   info@uptownvetsnyc.com