Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Reasons to Make Your Pet’s Dental Health a Priority

The condition of your pet’s mouth is directly linked to their overall health, inside and out. When they begin having problems with their teeth and gums, it can lead to a variety of other health issues, including:

Dental disease
Tooth loss
Systemic disease (heart, liver, kidneys)

Additionally, poor oral health can be painful, in turn limiting your pet’s ability to eat, drink, play, and simply enjoy life in good health.

Preventive Care Options

What can you do to prevent or delay the progress of plaque buildup and the potential onset of dental disease?

Brushing: While brushing your pet’s teeth every day might seem like a hassle, it’s actually one of the best ways to control plaque and tartar formation. Ideally, you should start your dog or cat on their brushing routine when they’re still young and have time to get comfortable with the process.
Make sure to use pet-friendly toothpaste and focus on brushing in gentle, circular motions along your pet’s gum line. For best results, try brushing their teeth once or twice a day.

Special diet: Certain prescription diet foods are formulated to help control the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. They’re a great way to supplement brushing and yearly teeth cleanings at our hospital.

Dental chews: Substitute your pet’s regular treats with dental chews recommended by your veterinarian. When chewed, OraVet chews “brush” debris off the teeth and form a barrier to block bacteria and reduce plaque and tartar formation. Dental chews are also an excellent supplement for your pet’s dental routine.

Your pet’s oral health begins with you. If they currently do not have a dental care routine that includes daily at-home treatment, contact us at (412) 882-3070 to learn more!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Keeping Our Furry Friends Cozy with Cold Weather Pet Safety

It’s easy to think that pets can keep themselves warm in the cold days of a Pittsburgh winter – that’s what a fur coat is for, isn’t it? However, not all pets tolerate the cold the same. Short-haired and small breeds are likely to get chilled more quickly, while larger, longer-haired breeds are warmer, but tend to collect ice, snow, and worst of all, rock salt on their fur, all of which can severely dry out and irritate the skin. Meanwhile, outdoor cats face some different dangers altogether. Keep your furry family safe this season with our cold weather pet safety tips! 
Pet Safety Tips for Winter 

Both indoor and outdoor pets need protection from the cold. Take these tips into consideration this winter season!

- Despite the cold, dogs still need their daily dose of exercise. While long-haired cold weather breeds will tolerate a walk just fine, a short-haired breed such as a Greyhound, Boxer, or Chihuahua will need a doggie jacket or sweater to keep them warm. Keep in mind that smaller breeds are even more susceptible to cold than larger breeds!

- While on your walk, you’ll likely run into salted sidewalks and some lingering ice, too. Make sure to protect your pet’s paws with a healthy dose of petroleum jelly or get them booties to wear. Ice and salt alike can get lodge between toes and cause severe irritation.

- Always wipe your pet’s paws, legs, and belly after each walk to remove any snow, ice, and salt from their fur.

- Don’t leave your pet outside for extended periods of time. Even thick-coated breeds can get hypothermia if left to the elements.

- Whenever your pet is outside, make sure they have plenty of unfrozen water to keep them hydrated.

- Cold weather usually means more energy is burned trying to stay warm. Talk to your veterinarian about increasing their amount of food to account for the extra energy.

- Outdoor cats are resourceful, sometimes to a fault. They will often crawl into a car’s engine for warmth, so make sure to knock on the hood of any car parked outside before you start the engine.

- Antifreeze is very useful in the winter, but don’t let your pets near it. The sweet-smelling liquid is too tempting and too toxic! Clean up any spills promptly and store the container well out of paw’s reach.

Do you have any questions or concerns about cold weather pet safety in Pittsburgh? Let us know by giving us a call, or asking at your next appointment!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays

Keeping your pet out of trouble isn’t easy when you have lots of holiday planning to do. That’s why we’re here to remind you about the potential danger that certain holiday foods, decorations, and plants can pose for your pet. See below for important information and be sure to contact us if you have any questions! 
Food Dangers

We don’t recommend giving your pet table scraps under any circumstances, though we know how tempting that can be during the holidays. Goodies are everywhere, and it’s hard to resist your pet’s pitiful look. With that being said, make sure to keep these foods away from your pet at all costs:
· Meat bones 
· Onions, garlic, chives, leeks, and shallots
· Any type of chocolate
· Candies and baked treats that may contain sugar substitutes such as xylitol, which is highly toxic for animals
· Cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and pecans
· Foods rich in dairy, including whipped cream
· Pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole
· Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages


Use caution when putting these decorations out and make sure they are ‘pet-proofed.’

· Christmas trees: place your tree in a secure corner and avoid placing ornaments near the bottom where they make easy targets. The needles and sap of fir or pine trees can be toxic when ingested, so clean up any tree-related messes and keep the water in the tree stand covered.
· Avoid having open flames anywhere, particularly where your pet can each them. Use artificial flame candles instead.
· Since tinsel is a choking hazard, consider alternatives when decorating your tree/home.
· Keep electrical cords for strands of lights covered, placed out of reach, or wrapped in double-sided tape to prevent chewing. Also be mindful about leaving cords where your pet (or a relative) might trip over them.


There are a variety of toxic plants out there, and these holiday favorites are especially dangerous for dogs and cats:
· Holly
· Mistletoe
· Jerusalem cherry

Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not nearly as harmful as once thought. Aside from mild stomach upset or drooling, other symptoms are unlikely.

Additional Reminders

Candy wrappers, gift wrap, ribbons, string, and twine are other choking hazards to consider. Clean up messes, clear off tables, and keep any other easy-to-swallow items out of your pet’s reach. We also recommend letting all of your holiday guests know not to give your pet table scraps, as they could make your pet sick. You can keep your pet happy by giving them their own food and treats, and lavishing attention on them whenever possible!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Understanding Diabetes in Pets

Pets can be diabetic just like people can, and like people, they can still enjoy long, happy lives despite the disease. In recognition of Pet Diabetes Month, we want to show you that a diabetes diagnosis is not the end of the line for your companion. Read on for valuable information to help you detect early signs of diabetes in your pet so they can receive timely and effective treatment. 


What Causes Diabetes?

One of the pancreas’s main functions is the production of insulin, a hormone in charge of controlling your pet’s glucose (blood sugar) levels. Glucose is a very important source of energy for your pet, and if they lack sufficient insulin to transfer the glucose from their blood to their cells or their body is simply unable to use the insulin properly, the glucose will build up in their blood very quickly. This results in a condition known as hyperglycemia.

Obesity puts pets at a much higher risk of developing diabetes, and female dogs are twice as likely to become diabetic when compared with males. Keeping your pet healthy and active from day one can help to prevent obesity and therefore, prevent diabetes. 

Common Signs

To detect signs of diabetes in your pet, look for:

· Abnormally high water intake and more frequent urination

· Noticeable weight loss despite an increase in appetite

· A decrease in appetite

· Chronic urinary or skin infections

· Weakness in the hind legs

Diagnosing Diabetes

Even if your pet is showing all of the telltale signs of diabetes, they need to see their veterinarian for a formal diagnosis. To diagnose, we need to perform blood and urine tests to check their glucose levels. Additionally, we may suggest other testing to make absolutely sure that there is no other condition responsible for your pet’s symptoms. 

Treatment Options


Following a positive diagnosis, we can recommend the type and dosage of insulin that your pet will need to maintain healthy glucose levels. This varies from one pet to another, but it is essential to follow your veterinarian’s instructions to avoid under- or overdosing. Insulin is given via injection through a small needle; there are no oral medication options. However, insulin injections are usually virtually painless for pets and can be given with little difficulty. We would be happy to demonstrate how to give injections so you can do them at home with ease. Keep in mind that as your pet’s treatment progresses, we may need to adjust their insulin dosage.


In addition to insulin, diet is also extremely important in diabetes treatment. Cats generally need a protein-rich, low-carbohydrate diet while dogs should have a high-fiber diet to maintain normal glucose levels. Straying from this diet or changing your pet’s feeding schedule can disrupt their treatment, so be sure to stick to what your veterinarian has recommended. If you have any concerns about their diet, contact your veterinarian first before making any changes.


Daily activity also makes diabetes more manageable for pets. This may be a challenge if you have a cat, but we encourage you to try playing with your feline family member whenever possible to keep them in shape.

A Normal Life is Possible for Your Pet

Helping your pet maintain normal glucose levels gives them the chance to enjoy a better quality of life and spend more time with you. A veterinarian-prescribed diet, daily exercise, routine insulin injections, and regular exams and glucose checkups are the key to successful diabetes management. Please contact us at (412) 882-3070 if you have any questions or need to schedule a checkup for your pet. We’re glad to be here for you!

Source: The American Veterinary Medical Association

Monday, September 10, 2018

Is Your Pet Struggling with Obesity?

As of 2014, an estimated 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats have been found to be overweight.* Obesity is unfortunately a common (and increasing) problem among our pets here in the US, and it’s shortening their lives. To enjoy the best possible quality of life, companion animals need a balanced diet and plenty of activity.

*Association for Pet Obesity Prevention 

Common Causes
There are various reasons that could explain the uptick in pet obesity. These include:

· Overfeeding – This might seem obvious, but it is also a serious problem. Many pet owners believe that they’re showing their pets that they love them by constantly feeding them extra food, treats, and table scraps. While it may be hard to say no to your pet when they beg for a snack, it’s important to consider the consequences that will result from overfeeding. Our pets don’t know any better, but we do! Plus, human foods are often higher in calories and fats which can quickly add pounds to our pets.

· Little to no exercise – Like us, our pets need exercise to burn calories and stay in shape. Certain breeds require much more activity than others, so it’s essential to consider what breed of animal will be best suited to your lifestyle before you adopt. In addition to gaining weight, pets that aren’t exercised frequently may become destructive due to boredom.

· Overweight is the new normal – What was considered a normal, healthy weight for humans 20 years ago is different today. Weight gain is commonplace, so it doesn’t seem all that unusual in today’s world and is harder to identify. This also applies to our pets.

· Not recognizing when a pet is overweight – Weight gain is generally gradual, and since you see your pet every day, you might not notice that they’re looking a little thicker around the middle. Unfortunately, this means that a large percent of owners do not realize that their pets are not within a normal, healthy weight range.

Health Risks that Come with Obesity
There are many health issues that pets can develop as a result of obesity, such as:

· Arthritis
· Cancer
· Diabetes
· Poor hygiene due to having difficulty grooming
· Having accidents outside of the litter box (cats)
· Clinical depression (a possibility for pets that engage in minimal daily activity)

Overall, overweight pets are more likely to have a shorter lifespan and a lower quality of life. Furthermore, treating the issues associated with your pet’s obesity can be costly and stressful.

Preventing Obesity in Your Pet

· Exercise is essential. At the very least, make sure you walk your dog at least once a day and/or play with your cat for about 20 minutes per day. You can also make feeding time more interesting by using a food puzzle or toy that dispenses food/treats when your cat plays with it. Look for ways to make ordinary activities more exciting for your pet. When in doubt, let us know if you have questions. We’d be happy to offer suggestions!

· Avoid overfeeding. Talk to our team about creating a healthy diet plan for your pet. This will include what type of food your pet needs, how much they need, and how often. We understand that you might feel guilty cutting your pet’s portions and keeping their treats to a minimum, but think about it this way—you’re showing your pet that you love them by working to keep them healthy and happy!

· Find other ways to show them how much they mean to you. Play with them, take them for walks, and give them extra snuggles. These are great ways to bond with your four-legged best friend.

When treating obesity in pets, it’s important to remember that their weight loss should be gradual. This is especially necessary for cats, as rapid weight loss may lead to liver disease. To begin your pet on the road to a healthier weight and a happier life, please call us at (412) 882-3070!

Source: American Animal Hospital Association

Friday, August 10, 2018

Healing with Light Beams

Laser therapy is not a new medical therapy, but it has recently been made readily available and affordable to veterinary clinics. With this technology, pets are able to recover faster and suffer from less pain, whether it is from surgery, an injury, or a chronic condition. At ACVC, we utilize this therapy frequently for our patients with a wide range of conditions. 

How Does it Work? 

During a laser therapy treatment, the device is placed over the affected area and sends concentrated light energy deep into the tissue. The light energizes cells in the damaged tissue and quickens the healing process. Patients at ACVC will receive laser therapy for a number of conditions including:

- Post-surgical incisions

- Hot spots

- Lick granulomas

- Intervertebral disc disease

- Tendonitis

- Arthritis

- Stomatitis

- … and more!

Benefits of Laser Therapy

By activating and energizing cells, laser therapy offers loads of benefits not only for the healing process but for your pet’s comfort level, too. Benefits include:

- Decreased inflammation

- Pain relief

- Faster healing

- Increased blood circulation

- … and more!

Frequency of Treatment

Laser therapy is cumulative, so with each session your pet experiences more and more of the benefits. This is particularly true of chronic conditions such as arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Senior pets who experience these chronic conditions benefit from a long-term laser therapy plan that includes weekly sessions. Meanwhile, other pets who undergo a routine surgery may only need one or two sessions for the effects of healing to be felt.

Do you think your pet would benefit from laser therapy? Contact us today to set up an appointment!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Why Your Pet Benefits from Routine Vaccinations

Having your pet vaccinated on a yearly basis helps to protect them against disease by fortifying their immune system. How does this work? Just like human vaccines, pet vaccines contain antigens that, once inside your pet’s body, will stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. These antibodies are able to detect and fight off any diseases that enter the body. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cites five core reasons for vaccinating your pet:
· Many different diseases can be prevented with regularly-scheduled vaccinations.
· By preventing disease, vaccination also helps your pet avoid experiencing the debilitating effects of that disease and having to undergo costly, stressful treatment.
· Some animal diseases can also be passed on to humans, such as rabies and Lyme disease. Vaccinating your pet against these diseases makes getting infected far less likely.
· Pets that are not vaccinated are vulnerable to certain prevalent diseases seen in wildlife. Rabies and distemper are viral diseases with a high mortality rate that can be quickly passed on to your pet from bats, raccoons, skunks or foxes.
· Pennsylvania state law requires that dogs and cats over 3 months old be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Distemper for dogs and FVRCP for cats are also highly recommended.

Are Pet Vaccines Effective?

Vaccines cannot be used to treat an existing problem. However, they are an effective deterrent against infection and can give your pet additional protection to keep them healthy. Human vaccines have made certain diseases, such as polio and smallpox, virtually non-existent in much of the US. Likewise, with pet vaccines, our goal is to minimize the prevalence of rabies, distemper, and other diseases that can harm our pets.

What Are the Risks?

Medical treatment always has its share of risks, but the benefits are far greater. Most pets respond perfectly well to vaccines. For those that do not, many experience only mild, short-term effects. In rare cases, some cats may develop tumor growth at the vaccination site. Fortunately, there are vaccines available for cats designed to prevent these kinds of reactions.

It is important to note that our hospital recommends only the most necessary vaccines for your pet to avoid over-vaccinating. If your companion is unlikely to encounter kennel cough or Lyme disease during their lifetime, they will not need those vaccines. We encourage you contact us if you ever have questions regarding vaccines and which ones your pet will need most.