Category Archives: Medical Advice

Why a Heartworm Preventative is Essential for Your Pet

Should I Give My Pet a Heartworm Preventative?

Do you give your dog heartworm preventative?  How about your cat?  Do you want to know why this is important?  Read on!

When we think of “worms,” we mostly think of intestinal worms; we diagnose those by sending a stool sample to the laboratory.  Heartworms are different; they are spread by mosquitos, and the adult heartworms live in the big blood vessels that take blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs to pick up oxygen.  The mosquitos carry the tiny heartworm larvae, called microfilaria, and these enter your dog’s system when he or she is bitten by that mosquito.  In case you are thinking that your dog spends very little time outside, remember that mosquitos come into the house very easily.  That’s how even indoor cats get heartworm disease.

In dogs, if we catch the heartworm disease before the dog has any symptoms, such as coughing or lethargy, we can treat him or her and get rid of the heartworms; this is a 4-month process, and it costs more than a 10-year supply of heartworm preventative!  In cats, there is no successful treatment, and cats are more likely to die of heartworm than dogs are.

For dogs, there are 3 ways to prevent heartworm disease:  most people give a monthly chewable; many people get the 6-month injection (brand name ProHeart), and some people use the monthly topical (brand name Revolution).  We also recommend an annual blood test; if your dog were to get heartworm disease, and you have been getting annual heartworm tests and have been purchasing 12 months of heartworm preventative every year, the companies that make the preventatives have guarantees that state that they will pay for the cost of the treatment needed to cure your dog.

For cats, Revolution is the treatment of choice; it also prevents fleas, and it’s easier for many cats than a pill would be, even a chewable one.

If you’re pet hasn’t had or needs a heartworm or other pet parasite preventative, schedule an appointment online or call us at 215-333-8888.

Litter Box Hygiene

By Dr. Nina Beyer

Why Won’t My Cat Use the Litter Box?

We’ve all been there. Almost all cat owners consider litter boxes to be essential. Very few of us, these days, think it’s safe for our cats to go outdoors to eliminate, in order not to have a litter box in the house. And as soon as something goes wrong, like the cat urinating or defecating outside the box, we tend to blame the cat…but usually, it’s because the poor cat is finding the litter box to be a problem. How can we make the litter box NOT a problem for our cats, so they’ll use it happily?

Japanese_litter_box_in_useFirst of all, the great folks at the Cornell Feline Health Center have studied cats’ litter preferences for years. They’ve found that most cats prefer unscented litter. Cats also prefer clumping litter, and they prefer the finest texture possible (sand-like). If you are using scented, coarse-textured, or other types of litter, try putting unscented, clumping, fine-textured litter in one of your boxes, and see how your cat(s) like it.

Second, we know that cats don’t always want to share boxes. The Cornell researchers recommend that you have at least one more litter box than you have cats (three cats? Four litter boxes!). From a cat’s point of view, boxes that are in the same room might as well be the same box; if you put all four boxes in the basement, the three cats feel like they’re all sharing one box. Spread those boxes around the house! Cats like some privacy, but they also like easy access to the bathroom (just like we do!).

Third, most of us don’t recognize the role that stress plays in our cats. Often, cats that are eliminating outside the box are experiencing stress. Cats can be stressed by living with other cats (our living spaces are smaller than cats prefer for their home ranges), by the presence of dogs or toddlers, by seeing other cats through the window, by their early life experiences before you adopted them, and especially by a genetic predisposition to higher stress levels (brain biochemistry differences). If you are experiencing urine or stools outside the litter box, please talk to your cat’s doctor for help! Most cats can be helped significantly!

Should You Spay or Neuter Your Pet?

Pet Neutering and Spaying Benefits & Side Effects

When it comes to spaying and neutering our pets, owners have many different opinions. Some feel that they are taking away the “manhood” of their male pets, and some owners feel that their ladies should be able to have babies of their own before being fixed. The truth is, we as owners tend to be rather anthropomorphic, we put our own feelings and opinions onto our animals. The fact is, our pets would generally be healthier and would be safer being spayed or neutered.


Should I Get My Pet Spayed?

shutterstock_183407687To make a more informed decision about the procedure, it would help to understand just what happens during a spay (ovariohystectomy) and a neuter (castration). Females are spayed, and involves the removal of the internal reproductive organs, namely the two ovaries and the uterine body. The earliest age at which spaying is done in the veterinary hospital setting is around six months of age. If done before a female dog’s first heat (around 8 months in a small breed dog, later in a larger breed), spaying greatly reduces her risk of developing mammary cancer later in life. For cats, there is no difference in risk for mammary cancer. Also, a spay eliminates the risk of developing a pyometra, or infected uterus, which can be life-threatening for cats and dogs. Spaying can be done in the traditional way, with a scalpel blade or surgical laser, or even laparoscopically. There have been recent studies that are very early in their research that suggest that spaying early, as in before the first year, can increase a dog’s risk of osteosarcoma later in life. Again, these studies are still young in their development.


Animal Castration Risks

Castration involves surgically removing the male internal reproductive organs, or the testes. It is typically done around six months of age or later in a typical hospital setting. Removing this source of testosterone will help to reduce roaming of males in search of female in heat, thereby reducing the risk of being hit by a car and other dangers. In dogs, it also eliminates the risk of developing various testicular cancers and other conditions that may occur with the presence of extra testosterone. Benign prostatic hypertrophy is a condition in dogs in which the prostate, under the influence of testosterone, enlarges and can make urination difficult and painful. It is cured by castration. Again, there are studies that show that there is a higher incidence of prostatic cancer in castrated males versus intact males, but there may be other factors involved.


In general, if one is not planning on breeding their pets, it is recommended that they be spayed or neutered. If you have any questions or concerns or need advice, please do not hesitate to ask the doctors at Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital. We would be more than happy to sit down with you to discuss the option best suited for your fur baby.

Pet Dental Care

Reasons For Pet Dental Care

shutterstock_75325276Dental care for pets is just as important as it is for people!

Dental care for your pet is extremely important. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats and is entirely preventable. Here are a few facts about dental pain and disease so you can make an informed decision about a dental visit for your pet.

What is periodontal or dental disease?

Periodontal disease is a progressive inflammation of the supporting structures around the teeth.

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease starts when bacteria form plaque on the teeth. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with plaque to form tartar, a hard substance that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria work their way under the gums and cause gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. These bacteria can then travel in the bloodstream to infect the heart, kidneys, and liver.

How is dental disease diagnosed?

Dental disease is diagnosed by examining the teeth and supporting structures while the pet is under anesthesia. Some pet dental diseases can be reversed such as gingivitis through dental cleaning and polishing. Loss of tooth attachment and bone loss cannot be reversed.

shutterstock_169577594What are the signs of Pet Dental Disease and Pain:

        • Bad breath

            • Redness or bleeding along the gum line

                • Drooling, which may be tinged with blood

                    • Difficulty chewing

                        • Facial swelling, especially under the eyes

                            • Loose or missing teeth

                          Schedule your pet’s dental consultation with one of veterinarians now to see if your pet qualifies for our 20% OFF Routine Dental Promotion. It’s a quick, easy and important way to prevent serious problems.


                          I went for a walk with my pet. Now what?

                          The warm summer months lead to spending more time outside, which potentially results in more tick exposure. Many ticks harbor co-infections, meaning that they carry more than one disease such as Lyme disease. Did you know that only about 5% of dogs exposed will develop symptoms that are attributed to Lyme disease?  In order to best protect your dog from Lyme disease, you should: thoroughly check your dog for ticks after they’ve been outside and remove any ticks that are found, utilize a veterinarian recommended flea & tick preventative year round & make sure your dog is current on his or her Lyme vaccination.

                          Flea and Tick Prevention Tips

                          When checking your pet for ticks, brush or run your hands over your pet’s whole body, applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps or something the size of a pea. You may also use a brush or flea comb, stopping if you hit a bump or a snag to investigate. Most attachments occur in front of the shoulder blades, which includes the head, neck, and front legs. Make sure to also feel under the collar, under their armpits, between their toes, behind the ears, and around the tail. Ticks are attracted to dark, hidden areas and when attached can range in size from the size of a pinhead to a grape.

                          If you find an unattached tick, place it in alcohol and dispose of it. If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself, then call your veterinarian. While wearing gloves to protect yourself, use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, slowly and steadily, without squeezing the body, then place it in alcohol and dispose of it. It is very typical for a small nodule to occur at the site of the attachment and persist for up to three weeks. Clinical signs of Lyme disease typically occur weeks to months following a bite and may include limping, lethargy, poor appetite, or fever. A very small percentage of dogs may also develop a fatal form of the disease that affects their kidneys. If the skin remains irritated or infected or you suspect something might be wrong, call us at 215-333-8888