Dog Friendly Summer Restaurants in NYC

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If you’re anything like our entire staff, your dogs are a big part of summer, and bringing them along for adventures is half the fun.  Check out our favorite dog-friendly restaurants while the weather is still warm!

Harlem

Bier International — Frederick Douglass Ave at 113th Street

  • If you’re in the mood for excellent beer choices, happy hour specials, or a delicious burger, Bier is worth checking out (it may or may not be our office’s go-to for after work drinks…)
  • Tip: the truffle fries are NOT to be missed
  • While the restaurant doesn’t allow dogs inside, they are happy for your canine to sit on the other side of the patio fence, and will help you find a table with a  good spot for your pup.  There is lots of room on the sidewalk here for calm dogs to chill while you partake!

Upper West Side

Boat Basin Cafe — West 79th Street on the water

  • A longer trip, but the view is worth it.  Enter from 79th street, or walk right up from the Hudson Waterfront Greenway
  • Tip: if the waterfront seating is crowded, the inner courtyard (a converted fountain) usually has tables, and has a softer ground surface that is more dog friendly for lounging
  • Well-behaved pooches can sit under your table, and staff will even provide a dog bowl with water

 

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

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

Cat Behavior and Welfare at Uptown Vets

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You’ve probably met the mascots of Uptown Vets — Jimmy and Eva, our resident “house cats”.  Some of you may have even met Carter, our resident old-man cat, who keeps Julie, Gwen, and Vanessa company in the front.  You may not know that we often have even more cats living in the hospital, as fosters.

We speak with our clients about the stress on cats in “multi-cat households”, so what do we do to keep all our our cats healthy and happy?  A LOT!!!

Private Space

Cats are typically solitary creatures, and need to have their own territory, which can be difficult in a hospital full of animals and people.  Each of our cats has carved out a nook for him/herself, and we try to respect their selections by providing a comfy bed and convenient litter box in this area.  We also try to feed them and provide access to fresh water in this same area to minimize the stress that comes from being forced to cross other cats’ territories to reach key resources.  Wherever possible, we also try to give nearby options to hide, in case our cat feels threatened.

Cats are very intelligent, and so far all of our cats have selected out of the way areas for their own.

Interestingly, the only “co-habitating” cats in the hospital are Jimmy and Eva.  Their territories overlap, and they are happy to share.  They are also the only cats that allogroom (groom each other) among our clowder (the proper term for a group of cats).  This is a great way to assess if your cats need to carve out their own zones in the house — many that are happy to share territory will also allogroom.

Food

Each of our cats is fed twice a day, and is fed from his own bowl, in his own territory.  Each cat is fed an appropriate diet for her health concerns (honestly, most of them eat low calorie food as they seem to be battling obesity after eating all the leftover cat treats!), and appropriate portions for her size.

Litter boxes

Did you know the “golden rule” for litter boxes in multi-cat houses?  It is 1 box per cat, plus an extra!  So for our current group (6 cats!!!), we need 7 litter boxes.  We fall a little short, with 4-6 boxes at a time, each in a separate part of the hospital.  So far it is working, but we do notice the occasional problem, and have to increase the number of boxes available whenever a new cat joins the crew.

Attention

You’ve probably seen us chasing Jimmy out of exam rooms (he has a catnip problem, and looooooves to stalk the appointment rooms in the hopes of getting some), but we also ensure each cat gets positive attention every day.  Each staff member has a favorite cat (and each cat has a favorite staff member) who dotes on him/her.

Preventative Care

Even as a veterinary office, we need reminders for preventative care for our cats.  Each cat is up to date on core vaccines (Rabies and FVRCP), as well as the Feline Leukemia vaccine.  We check their stool for intestinal parasites every 6 months, and run annual labwork to check organ function.  We also apply a topical monthly parasite preventative (Revolution), even though they are indoor cats.  Each cat receives a full physical every 6 months, and additional examinations whenever there is a change in behavior.

Enrichment

Our cats have a lot going on every day, but we still try to provide species-specific enrichment.  At the moment, we have 3 scratching posts/pads, a water fountain (encourages water intake by providing “running water”), a battery-operated laser pointer toy, lots of catnip time, a variety of small floor toys, hanging squeaky toys to be batted around, and covered beds to play hide-and-seek.

If you have any questions about our house cats, or what you can do to improve the welfare of your own cats, please let us know!  We’re obviously crazy about cats and are happy to give advice.  Other good cat resources include:

www.icatcare.org

www.catvets.com

www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc

Holiday Prep for Pets

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As we sat down to write this blog post, the entire staff brainstormed topics of interest for November and December.  We realized at Uptown Vets, we are gearing up for what we jokingly call “Foreign Body and Pancreatitis Season”, and that a few tips on how to avoid these problems would be timely.

In the next two months, we expect to see a nearly 100% increase in cases of upset stomachs, due to eating all sorts of unusual things.  Our most frequent offenders (in a VERY rough approximation of frequency) are:

(1)  In-laws:     Family visits are always a highlight of the holiday season, but family members frequently give table scraps, extra treats, and unusual items to pets.  In November and December, we see most upset tummies blamed on visiting [or pet-sitting] family.

To try and minimize the impact of family members on your dog and cat’s stomachs, stock up on treats and toys you know are safe, and let everyone know where they are.  Consider putting part of your pet’s meal in a bowl that the whole family can access and allowing “treats” from the bowl as much as people want.  This will help prevent weight gain and sneaking treats.  Pets may need to be kept in a separate room or kennel during meal times to minimize ingestion of table scraps and scavenging.

Be aware that visiting family may also have presents and luggage that contain foods and medications that may be toxic to your pet.  Make sure to keep these items well out of reach.

(2)  Decorations:  All the sparkly decorations, wrapping, and yummy smelling plants in your home are sure to attract pets’ attention.  Cats in particular seem to investigate decorations a little too closely!  Make sure you don’t have any toxic plants (including flowers, wreaths, and other greenery) in the home, and be cautious of lights, tinsel, and other enticing decorations.  If you suspect your pet has eaten something, let us know right away — our options for removing it are much better in the first 24 hours as opposed to a few days later once your pet is sick.

(3)  “Special” Foods and Treats: This covers everything from new pet-specific treats to table scraps to diet changes.  These commonly cause upset stomach with diarrhea, vomiting, and even more serious inflammation, such as pancreatitis.  High-fat foods are the most common offenders, so beware of fat trimmings, cheese, red meat, and “grain free” food and treats (these are often much higher in fat and oil content than traditional dog foods).  If your pet begins to show signs of GI upset (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite…), let us know as soon as possible.  Often these patients will respond well to simple treatments in the early stages of illness, but may need more extensive care if symptoms go on for multiple days.

Be aware of what foods are toxic to pets, and make sure that any recipes including these ingredients are kept away from animals.  For more information on toxic foods and household items, check out the ASPCA’s website.  If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, you can always call us or the ASPCA Poison Control hotline.  The hotline will have veterinarians trained in pet toxicities who can determine if your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian, and if there is anything you can do at home to care for your dog or cat.  You can call them 24 hours a day, from any location.

Halloween Safety for Pets

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We LOVE Halloween — delicious candy, fun costumes, and celebrations with friends.  Not all pets feel the same way, however.  In the time leading up to Halloween, take a few minutes to plan how you’ll handle the day (and the weekend) to minimize stress and risk to your furry family members in NYC.

1.  Pet Costumes — we can certainly appreciate a good pet costume (see the Uptown Vets Facebook page to enter your pets in our annual contest!), but they should be used with caution.  Not all pets are comfortable wearing them.  If this applies to your dog or cat, it’s probably best to skip the outfit.  Make sure any you do use fit properly, don’t have any pieces that your pet may ingest, and are only used when you can directly supervise your pet.  Never leave a pet in a costume unattended!

2. Human Costumes — some costumes are similar to normal clothing, but some may significantly change the way we look, or appear to move (think of a child in a spider costume, or a big box on a person), or even the way we sound (e.g. crinkly pieces and funny shoes).  All these changes can be scary for a dog (and cats!).  Just imagine if you lived in a world and suddenly all of its inhabitants were replace by a strange assortment of oddly shaped monsters!  Plan to walk your dog well before prime costume time.  This is especially true for any pets who already have anxiety about new people, places, or things.

(If your pet suffers severe anxiety, please consider bringing him or her in for us to discuss anti-anxiety medications that may be helpful.  We may need to do a trial run a few days early to make sure your pet does well on any medications, so be sure to make your appointment well in advance of Halloween, or other stressful events.)

3.  Parties — if you are planning to host a party, create a pet “safe space” where Fido and Fluffy can escape, if needed.  A quiet room or corner, with favorite toys or treats, and a warning for guests to leave stressed pets alone in this area will help your pets interact with guests when they are comfortable.  Make sure cats have high up places to go, where they can observe the action without feeling threatened.  Make sure any human treats are well out of your pets’ reach, too!

If you’re going out for the night, make sure your pet has a safe, comfortable place to spend the evening.  Consider leaving the TV or a radio on with conversation to help mask unusual noises from neighboring homes and the street.

4.  Candy — toxic ingestion of food and candy is common around any holiday, especially Halloween.  Remember that dogs cannot eat chocolate, raisins (even one raisin can be deadly!), grapes, coffee, or sugar free gums and candies.  Cats should not eat most of the same things, and are also at risk of ingesting flowers and plants that may be toxic.  Marijuana and other drugs and human medications can be deadly to pets.  If your pet has ingested any of the above, please call ASPCA Poison Control immediately (they will inform you if a trip to the vet is necessary, and tell you what to do in the first few minutes at home), and then contact us at Uptown Vets, or the closest emergency  veterinary service.

Halloween falls on a Friday this year, so be sure to plan ahead for the full weekend.  If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, don’t hesitate to contact us, and don’t forget to enter our Halloween costume contest!

Internet Pharmacies — the good, bad, and unknown facts

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Every day we receive a couple dozen requests for prescription refills.  Requests range from wanting to pick medications up at our office, have them called in to human pharmacies, or from internet pharmacies.  We are happy to fill prescriptions as long as we are legally able, your pet is up to date on any required testing, and the medication is correct.  However, there’s more to pharmacies than meets the eye.

Medications dispensed directly from our in-hospital pharmacy are always guaranteed by the manufacturer.  This is important, especially for parasite preventatives.  If your dog is on a heartworm and intestinal parasite preventative dispensed by our office, and contracts one of these diseases, the manufacturer will cover any cost of additional diagnostics and treatment.

Online pharmacies come in two forms — those authorized on behalf of a veterinary office (e.g. VetStreet, which you can access through the Pet Portal on our website), and those acting independently.  Medications dispensed by VetStreet are covered by the same guarantees as those dispensed directly from us.  This is because we work directly with medication manufacturers to ensure the safe supply and approved dispensing of these medications — there are no middle men.

Independent online pharmacies may or may not be reputable.  Some of them carry medications purchased through back channels, and none of the products sold through these sites are guaranteed by the manufacturers.  This means that if the products fail to work, the manufacturer will not reimburse you for any treatments required.  In some cases, the medications or foods sold through them may also be counterfeit.  Many pharmacies are working to prevent this, but as the products are purchased through third parties, it is harder to verify their authenticity.  Similarly, manufacturers are unlikely to guarantee preventatives purchased over the counter at third party stores.

Human pharmacies can be a valuable asset for your pet’s medications.  They may carry medications that are used more frequently for human patients, and which are not regularly stocked in a veterinary pharmacy.  However, they rarely carry veterinary-specific products (many of the medications we use are not used in human medicine or have a different formulation), and any veterinary-specific products they do stock are not covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee.

From time to time, we also run into difficulties with prescriptions being filled externally with incorrect instructions or incorrect warnings applied.  The side effects, dosing, and nomenclature are all different between human and veterinary medicine.  Human pharmacists usually receive no training in veterinary pharmacology (only veterinarians receive formal instruction), so are often unaware of differences.  The computer systems used by human pharmacies are also set up to deal with information from human doctors, but do not have any way of accommodating veterinarian prescriptions, so there are occasional clerical errors.

Ultimately, when deciding where to have your prescriptions filled, consider the following:

(1) Will your product be guaranteed by the manufacturer?  If the medication fails to prevent a disease (e.g. heartworm, intestinal parasites) or to treat one properly, do you want to have the cost of any additional diagnostics and treatments reimbursed?

(2) Does the pharmacy carry the medication or food you are looking for?  Do they have experience dispensing for veterinary patients and understand the difference between feline or canine patients and human ones?

(3) Are you interested in rebate offers or “buy X, get Y free” offers?  These are usually provided by manufacturers for medications dispensed through veterinary hospitals’ pharmacies in order to ensure you can buy guaranteed product without sacrificing on price.

Wherever you decide to have prescriptions filled, please double check all labels to make sure they reflect the instructions your veterinarian described to you.  Make sure the source is guaranteeing the product was sourced directly from a manufacturer, not through a third party.  Make sure your pet is up to date on any testing recommended, and has had a comprehensive physical exam with one of our doctors within the last year to ensure we are allowed to approve prescriptions right away.

We aim to address all prescription refills within one business day of their receipt, whether requested by phone, our website, via email, your Pet Portal, or another source.  If we have any concerns or need to update your pet’s care before dispensing the medication, our office will contact you within one day.  Please plan a few days ahead to make sure we can continue medications without interruption.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your pet’s prescription(s), please contact us.  We’re always happy to discuss different options with you to make sure you are 100% comfortable.

Choosing a Scratching Post for Your Cat

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We’ve all been in the scratching post aisle at the pet store (or online) and been overwhelmed with choices.  After much care, you purchase one and take it home, only to have your cat turn up her nose, walk over to the couch, and go to town.   Scratching is an important behavior that helps cats maintain healthy nails, and mark their territory.  Scratching may be more frequent in households with multiple pets, or recent changes (think new family members, rearranged furniture, new smells).  It is an important activity for indoor cats especially, who use it to help stretch and condition their muscles.

So how do you choose a scratching post your cat actually wants to use?

First things first, you’ll need to decide what kind of scratcher your cat is.  Does he prefer vertical or horizontal surfaces?  Does he gravitate toward the sisal rugs or the carpets?  Does he like the corner of objects or secluded areas of the house?  In general, cats tend to fall into one of two categories: (1) Rakers, or cats who like to drag nails along horizontal surfaces, often preferring natural fiber rugs and corrugated cardboard, and (2) Vertical scratchers, or cats who prefer to stand up and scratch.

Second, decide what type of scratching set up you want in the house.  There are some flexible surfaces that can be hung directly over a favorite scratching zone, cat trees with built in scratchers, and cardboard scratching posts, board, and lounges that can all be implemented.

Between these two sets of information, you can venture to your pet store or online with a better plan of attack.  Pick out a few options that fit your pet’s preferences and try them out.  Make sure vertical surfaces are tall enough for your cat to stand up and stretch out while scratching, or else they won’t be appealing.  Generally, it’s worth trying a disposable or inexpensive option initially to make sure you’ve correctly guessed your cat’s scratching desires before investing in more expensive options.  Adding catnip to the surface can also help get your cat interested in the new additions.

More companies have designed attractive scratching post (and cat tree) options in recent years, so don’t worry if a neon carpet stand doesn’t exactly fit into your home’s decor.  This is especially helpful when considering where these posts will be — they need to be where your cat likes to spend time and scratch!  Putting them in a far away corner won’t encourage her to use them.

If, despite all your hard work, your cat is still scratching objects you hold dear, you may need to consider alternatives.  Synthetic pheromone diffusers and sprays (brand name Feliway) can help reduce the urge to mark territory and reduce scratching.  Regular nail trims can also help.  Watch Cornell veterinary school’s video on how to safely trim nails at home.

If you are frustrated with scratching, you can also try soft rubber nail covers.  If you’ve been to our hospital, you’ve probably seen the hospital cats, Jimmy (featured in the photo above) and Eva, sporting their orange Soft Paws.  These disposable covers are easily glued onto the nails and prevent damage from scratching.  Make sure to continue regular nail trims if you are using nail covers to prevent ingrown nails.  You can always schedule a technician appointment at our office to have your cat’s nails trimmed and Soft Paws applied (be sure to bring your Soft Paws with you — they are easy to order online and come in really fun colors!).

We hope this helps next time you are purchasing a scratching post.  If you have more questions or concerns about your cat’s nails and health, please contact us!

Canine Influenza Virus

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We’ve been hearing rumors of an outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in the city.  After researching and reaching out to the NYC veterinary community, here is what we know:

A veterinary office in lower Manhattan reported that a boarding facility they work with had closed temporarily to disinfect the premises after the outbreak was detected.  No definitive test results are available to confirm or deny whether this was an outbreak of CIV.

The big question is whether or not our pets are at risk of exposure to CIV, and if we should take additional precautions.  CIV is a respiratory infection, which can cause severe symptoms and is highly infectious.  The risk of outbreaks is higher in densely populated areas such as NYC, where dogs interact regularly on the street, at parks, and at daycare, boarding, and grooming facilities.

Symptoms of CIV include coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, anorexia, and fever.  You can read more about CIV from the CDC’s website, and watch a short video on it here.

At Uptown Vets, we carry and regularly use a vaccine against the CIV virus.  While it is not considered a core vaccine, more and more boarding, grooming, and daycare facilities are requiring it as a precaution.  The vaccine is given as a series of two injections,  administered 14-28 days apart, then boostered annually.  Dogs are fully protected against the virus 7 days after the second dose is administered.

If you are interested in vaccinating your dog for CIV, please call us or request an appointment.  If you believe your pet is experiencing symptoms of CIV, please seek immediately medical attention.

Travelling with Pets this Labor Day

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Travelling with your pet this holiday weekend?  Consider these tips to make the trip easy for the whole family, human and furry:

(1) Make sure it is safe for your pet to come on your trip — will there be appropriate accommodations at your destination?  Will the travel arrangements be comfortable and safe for your pet?  Does your pet do well travelling, or would he/she be happier at home with a pet sitter?  Be especially careful when considering air travel with your pet–this can be dangerous, especially in summer months.  When pets travel in cargo, they are exposed to extreme environmental conditions.

(2) Train your pet to be happy travelling — 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.  This will be the most effective way to ensure a low stress journey on the day of travel!

(3) Plan ahead — make sure to bring enough of your pet’s normal food to last the entire trip, or be sure you can purchase the same food at your destination.  Sudden diet changes can lead to an upset stomach and more stress for your pet.  Don’t forget favorite blankets, toys, and a safe place for your pet to stay confined if need be (such as a large enough kennel or crate with good ventilation).   Bring enough of any necessary prescriptions to last through the trip; if you will run out while away, request refills several days before travelling.  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.  Most areas have a local emergency service, or on call service, if needed.  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.

(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!

(6) If you have any specific concerns regarding your pet and travel, get in touch with your veterinarian (www.uptownvetsnyc.com) 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.