Sad doberman dog, not a lost pet though

How To Avoid A Lost Pet

Unfortunately, pets get lost on a daily basis.  Microchipping your pet is the easiest and most likely way to ensure he will be returned to you.  While identification via a tag on your pet’s collar is great, most pets get lost due to an ill-fitting collar.  According to a study by the ASPCA; 50% of dogs and 75% of cats are not wearing a collar when they are found and brought into a shelter.  Other means of permanent identification would be a tattoo, these are usually done inside the ear or inside of a hind leg.  This allows for easy identification without specialized equipment.

Microchipping is a safe and easy way for your pet to be identified if it ever gets lost.  Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected with a needle under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.  They are encased in biocompatible material and have an anti-migration cap to help prevent movement in the pet’s body.  Once a microchip is registered that information will remain attached to that chip.  If you ever move or change your contact information it will be important to update your microchip information.  According to Home Again Microchips, only 10% of microchips are actually registered after they are implanted.  Remember it doesn’t do you any good to microchip your pet if you don’t register the chip!

Another great way to ensure your dog is safe and by your side when outdoors is to make sure you have a properly fitted collar and leash.  Collars should fit snugly, you should be able to get two fingers under the collar comfortably, but not be able to pull it over your dogs head.  We also don’t recommend walking your dog with a flexi-lead.  While these allow great freedom if you are out playing ball, for most walks they allow your dog to get too far from you.  It’s not uncommon for a dog to take off after something (a squirrel or another dog) and when they hit the end of the flexi-lead it is yanked from the owner’s hand.  A short 6-10’ nylon leash with a handle is preferred because it will be harder for your dog to get away from you.

The last defense you have to prevent your dog from getting away from you is good obedience.  Even a well-trained dog could be tempted not to listen if they are hot on the heels of an elusive squirrel.  You should practice having your dog come, stay, and sit in all types of situations while they are on a leash and safe.  If your dog will listen to you during the most hectic situations, he will most likely listen to you in an emergency situation.  It’s not enough for your dog to come and stay in a quiet home environment.  It’s important to practice these skills in all types of situations; it will also increase your dog’s confidence in himself and your bond together as a team.

The best defense against your dog getting lost is to prevent it from happening.  Practice safe walking technique and good obedience.  But always be prepared just in case with clear ID tags and a registered, current microchip.

Aldie Vet Dental Care Exam

Can Cheddar Cheese Reduce Tartar?

Many animal owners suffer from the problem of tartar buildup on their pet’s teeth.  Some animals of the same species develop tartar much more quickly than others. This may mean that one dog needs a professional anesthetic dental cleaning every 2-3 years and another dog may need one every 6-8 months!  Some animals develop periodontal disease at a faster rate than others as well, meaning that the gums pull away from the teeth that become loosened from their boney attachments.  This can lead to pain, tooth loss, infection or abscess.

Unfortunately, I can find no hard evidence to validate the claim that eating cheese will help reduce tartar levels in the mouth.  So my fondness for cheese has not kept the dentist at bay.  There are, however, lots of things you as a pet owner can do at home to prolong the period of time before Fluffy needs to be fully sedated for thorough teeth cleaning.

To start lets review some terms and concepts.  Plaque is a film of bacteria that accumulates on your teeth – which is the wooly feeling your teeth get after you’ve eaten a lot of sweets and haven’t brushed your teeth in a while.  Gross right?  Well if that bacteria isn’t removed it hardens (calcifies) and turns into tartar, which is the yellowish brown coating on your pet’s teeth that tips your veterinarian off that it is time for a cleaning.  If left in place over time that tartar and bacteria party leads to bad breath, gum disease (gingivitis), tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth root abscesses and the potential for that bacteria to get into the blood stream and cause problems in other organs like the heart, kidney, and liver.  The hardened tartar is difficult to remove and often requires specialized equipment to scrape it off like dental picks and the ultrasonic scaler.  We use the same equipment as your dentist to clean your pet’s teeth.  Full anesthesia is required to complete a dental cleaning because once we clean off the tartar we polish the teeth smooth to remove tiny microscopic crevices for the plaque to grab a hold of.   Pets do not tolerate having this done awake.

At home dental care is a huge part of prolonging the period between dental cleanings at the vet’s office.  Often in older animals, we need to get the heavy tartar off to get a clean slate for you, the owner, to maintain.  Young dogs should be introduced early to home dental hygiene to keep their teeth as healthy as possible and stave off the need for the full dental cleanings as long as possible.
The plaque on teeth is very easily disrupted by mechanical action.  This is best accomplished by a soft toothbrush and daily brushing of all teeth.  Think about wooly teeth and how much fresher you feel after good teeth scrubbing.  All dogs will eventually tolerate teeth brushing, but slowly introducing it over weeks in a very positive way is key to the fastest acceptance.  Make sure to get primarily the outside of the teeth as that is where the majority of the plaque accumulates.  Get all of the teeth from the little incisors up front, the long sharp canine teeth, to the all the premolars and molars that go way back in the cheeks.  Repetition and patience, as with any training, is key to getting your pet’s acceptance.

Daily tooth brushing is the gold standard of home dental health.  However, knowing that we don’t live in an ideal world where everyone brushes their dog’s and cat’s teeth nightly.  Luckily, there are other products you can use to help.  There are antiseptic rinses and gels and water additives the goal of these products is to reduce the amount of bacteria from your pet’s mouth.  Safe chews, treats, and pet foods are available that contain both enzymes to break down bacteria and/or a mechanical action against the tooth as the pet chews to shear off plaque.  Check out the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) seal of acceptance to find products proven to decrease plaque and tartar accumulation by going to and clicking on “Products awarded the VOHC Seal” link.  Your veterinarian will also have a lot of good advice, ideas and references.

The American Veterinary Dental Council (AVDC) does not recommend cow hooves, dried natural bones or antlers, or hard nylon products because they are too hard.  Instead of helping to shear off tartar like a wild animal would get from a fresh carcass, these products often damage the pet’s teeth.  The result is often a fractured and very painful tooth that requires surgical removal.  Rawhide and other “edible” dental product should be used with care.  Give these products when you are around to ensure that a big piece isn’t swallowed or choked on.  It may be necessary to remove a large chunk from an exuberant eater’s throat.  It is also possible for large chunks to get stuck in dog’s esophagus or intestines that may require endoscopic or surgical removal, so make sure you pick a sized product appropriate for your pet.  Reasons that you should have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian include: particularly foul breath, excessive drooling, swelling or oozing, pawing at or rubbing the face, difficulty eating, discolored, painful or broken teeth.  Your vet is your ally and a great resource for your war on plaque and tartar.  Pleasant teeth brushing!  May yours and your pet’s smile be bright!

Winter Tips to Keep Your Pet Warm

Winter Tips to Keep Your Pet Warm

As the mercury starts to dip, we’ve put together some helpful tips on keeping your companion pets safe and warm this winter.

While your cat may look longingly at the door the safest place for him is inside.  Cats that are allowed to stray can become lost, freeze, be hit by a car, and are far more likely to be exposed to infectious feline disease.  During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt.  If you are concerned that there are outdoor cats in your area, loudly bang on the hood of your car prior to starting the engine.  This should give any sleepy cats a chance to escape.

Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

Chemicals used to melt ice in the winter can be very dangerous to your dog.  Make sure you wipe down their legs, paws and belly after they have been out in the snow and ice.  Some of the ice melting chemicals and antifreeze can be poisonous if ingested, so make sure to clean your dog off thoroughly.

It’s important to keep your dog warm during the winter months.  Longer haired dogs should avoid being shaved down in the winter as their coat helps provide warmth.  When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this fashion statement is regulation winter wear.

Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

Make sure that all of your pets are micro-chipped and that their microchip registration is kept up to date.  Found animals are brought into the hospital regularly, an up to date microchip registration helps facilitate a fast reunion with their owners.

Aldie Vet Acupuncture

Dr. Caroline Pattie to become a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist

Dr. Pattie has completed her second of four intense sessions in becoming a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA). Dr. Pattie has attended the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine located in Florida. It is the leading veterinary continuing education provider of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine whose mission is to train licensed veterinarians in becoming cutting edge animal health care providers in holistic veterinary medicine.

Holistic Veterinary Medicine has been an area of interest for Dr. Pattie, which will be a great compliment to all the other services we offer at our location in South Riding, VA.

Common Fall Pet Hazards

While we’re busy seeding the yard, buying Halloween candy, and planning Thanksgiving dinner, we don’t often think of the potential hazards lurking for our pets.  Here we have outlined some of the more common pet hazards associated with fall.  Please contact your veterinarian if you are concerned your pet has encountered these hazards or is experiencing any other health problems.

Knowing what these hazards are and taking precautions to avoid them can be the difference between life and death.

Antifreeze: Most radiator antifreeze/coolant contains ethylene glycol and is highly toxic. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by children and animals. Five teaspoons can kill a 10-pound dog, less will kill a cat. It is very fast acting and results in kidney failure and death in as little as four to eight hours. Newer products that contain propylene glycol are generally considered safe.  Store antifreeze in its original container, out of reach of pets and children. Keep the empty container or a record of the product used so that if your car leaks and your pet finds it before you do, you can tell your veterinarian what was consumed. Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway. Always have plenty of fresh water available for your pet. A thirsty pet may relieve its thirst with antifreeze that a neighbor left out or hosed down the driveway. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, call your veterinarian right away.

Rodenticides: Poison meant to kill rats and mice hoping to winter in your home can also kill your pet.  They cause severe bleeding, kidney failure, and death. There are no safe rodenticides. Whether out of hunger, boredom, or curiosity, pets will consume these products. If rodenticides are used in your home, put them in places inaccessible to pets and children. Keep a record of the product used and in case of accidental poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate: Chocolate is a favorite people-treat at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas but it is toxic to dogs and cats. The initial signs of chocolate poisoning are those of stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. If sufficient chocolate is consumed, an animal will become restless and uncoordinated and will suffer heart failure and/or respiratory failure. As little as one ounce of baking chocolate or eight ounces of milk chocolate can kill a 10-pound dog. Like other poisonings, chocolate poisoning requires emergency medical treatment.

Thanksgiving dinner: Rich foods can cause sudden pancreatitis or bloat. Keep holiday meals, leftovers, and table scraps out of reach of your pet. Bones from turkey can also get stuck in the digestive track, or worse pierce a section of the bowel.  If your pet insists on participating in the feast, cooked vegetables (without the butter and salt) or commercial dog treats are safe in small amounts.

Cold weather: Indoor pets not acclimated to winter temperatures should not be left outside in cold weather for long periods. Ice or salt can cause severe irritation when caught between your pet’s toes.

For more information on the care of pets, contact your local veterinarian.

A Holistic Approach to Pet Care

Many people have heard about acupuncture, but few think of it as an option for treating their pets. Acupuncture has been used for many years to help treat both humans and pets in some ways that modern western medicine may not.  At times, the combination of eastern and western medicine is used to provide a well- rounded care plan that treats pet conditions from different angles. Dr. Pattie is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA) and works with clients and patients to come up with the best treatment plan for each individual case.

All patients at Aldie Vet are initially seen by one of our doctors for a thorough history and physical exam.  Recommendations will be made about various tests or procedures depending on the source and severity of the patient’s condition.  In other words, we would always pursue a conventional “Western” diagnosis.

However, in some cases we cannot find an underlying cause for illness, traditional medications are insufficient to resolve a chronic problem, there are adverse effects when using indicated medications, or finally the cost for pursuing the underlying diagnosis is prohibitive.  These are the cases which can benefit the most from holistic approaches.  It is important to realize the best results often come from an integrative approach between Western and Eastern modalities.

Today, the most frequent reasons for acupuncture referral among veterinarians are:

  • Musculoskeletal problems: back pain, arthritis/degenerative joint disease, muscle soreness
  • Neurological disorders: weakness and paralysis resulting from intervertebral disk trauma, spinal or nerve problems
  • Gastrointestinal conditions: diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Other chronic conditions not responding to conventional therapy, including (but by no means limited to): skin allergies and dermatitis, lick granulomas, epilepsy, respiratory conditions, hormonal imbalances, infertility, internal organ dysfunction
  • Prevention of disease and promotion of well-being, geriatric support, and performance enhancement.

Dr. Pattie will typically see patients for acupuncture with an initial workup as an hour-long appointment, which includes the first treatment.  This initial appointment is followed by a commitment to at least 3-5 once-weekly treatments which are 30-40 minutes long.  A single treatment may be enough for an acute condition.  A series of 3-10 treatments can resolve many chronic problems.  Some degenerative conditions may continue to need repeated treatments over time.  All acupuncture appointments are best seen on an outpatient basis with no other tests/grooming/etc. that same day.

If you are not sure if acupuncture is right for your pet, you can also schedule an abbreviated acupuncture consultation with Dr. Pattie to discuss the case, your goals, and suspected outcome specific to your pet.  If you decide to come back for the treatment series the cost of the consult will be deducted from the initial workup fee.


  1. What is acupuncture?   The insertion of very fine needles into specific predetermined points on the body to produce physiologic responses. Modern research shows that acupoints are located where there is a high density of nerves, immune cells, and small blood and lymphatic vessels.  As more studies are conducted, the mechanism of this ancient therapy will be better understood.
  2. Does it hurt?  95% of animal patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy.  Some animals will even fall asleep during treatment.
  3. Is it safe? Acupuncture is very safe when administered by a qualified and certified practitioner.  There are also no negative side effects unlike many Western drugs.
  4. How do you know where to put the needles?  The points used vary according to the condition being treated.  Each point has specific actions when stimulated. When points are used in combination with other points, the results may be tailored to the specific problems being addressed.
  5. Are there other holistic modalities besides acupuncture?  Herbs, chiropractic, massage, diet, homeopathy, and various other forms of complementary medicine are available to veterinary patients.  Dr. Pattie is currently pursuing certification in herbology, but there are many other holistic veterinarians in our area whom we can refer to if indicated.

Aldie Vet’s New App & Online Access

Similar to having access to your own medical record online, we are now offering online and a mobile App to gain access to your pet(s) medical information. Some of the features you may access includes:

  • Review Medical History
  • Review Prescriptions and Ability to Request Refills
  • Review Scheduled Appointments and Ability to Request Appointments
  • Review Vaccination History
  • Receive Treatment & Appointment Reminders
  • Instructions: Administering Medications, Post Operative, Post Treatment, Etc.
  • “What’s New At Your Pet’s Vet” Informational Emails

If you are a current or soon to be a client of Aldie Vet, you will receive an email explaining how to sign in to your account and how to download our App. Please call our office if you do not receive an email from us.

Keep Your Pets Cool & Safe When It Is Hot Outside

Keep Your Pets Cool & Safe When It Is Hot Outside

Walking/Running with Your Pet 
When the temperatures are high, do not over-exercise your pet and keep walks to a minimum. Don’t let your pet linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, their body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn.

A Shady Spot
Pets can get dehydrated quickly. Give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors and make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun. If it is extremely hot, it is best to just keep them indoors in the cool air-conditioned.

Zero Minutes in a Parked Vehicle
Never leave your pet in a vehicle on warm days. Even on milder days, the temperature inside a car can rise very quickly to dangerous levels. Pets can succumb to heatstroke very easily and must be treated very quickly to give them the best chance of survival.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion 
Pet may be panting excessively or have difficulty breathing, have an increased heart and respiratory rate, drool, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also have seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Pets with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

Heat Exhaustion Tips 
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, call our hospital as soon as possible. In the meantime,

  • Move your pet to a shaded area and out of direct sunlight or inside.
  • Place a cool or cold, wet towel around your pet’s neck and head (do not cover your pet’s eyes, nose or mouth).
  • Remove the towel, wring it out, rewet and rewrap every few minutes to cool him/her down.
  • Keep cool water running over your pet’s body (especially the abdomen and between the hind legs) using a hose or bucket. Use your hands to massage his/her legs and sweep the water away as the water heats up by the body temperature.

Tips When Driving With Your Pet

source: Pet Travel Center

If you’re planning to take your pet with you on trips in the car, start early when the pet is young to get used to the routine. Short jaunts across town and back or easy day trips will get your pet used to the ride. A carsick pet can make the trip miserable for everyone.

A seat upholstery protector, such as a pet hammock or waterproof seat cover will make clean-ups easier in case your pet does get sick or has an accident.

Be sure to bring along cleaning supplies to avoid having to search out a place to purchase them at the last minute.

Make your pet travel experience fun and enjoyable by following these simple, common sense pet travel tips:

  • Safely secure your pet while traveling. An unrestrained pet can become a deadly projectile in the event of a sudden stop or crash, causing serious injury (even death) to passengers. For example, an unsecured, 25-pound dog in a 40 mph crash becomes a 1,000-pound mass (half a ton) flying uncontrollably inside the vehicle.
  • Dogs should be restrained with either a seatbelt or harness designed for pet travel. Smaller dogs can be secured in pet car seats, which allow them to also see out, while being properly restrained.
  • Never attach a restraining device to the pet’s collar. Always use a harness to prevent injury.
  • Cats should be contained in a crate, cage or pet car seat that is secured with a seat belt. Never allow a cat to roam freely in the vehicle, as it could get tangled around the driver’s feet or get in the driver’s sight of the road.
  • Do not allow your pet to ride with its head outside of the window. An obstacle close to the vehicle could potentially strike your pet’s head, causing injury or death, or dirt particles could get into your pet’s ears, nose, eyes, or throat, causing health problems.
  • It’s a good idea to stop every couple of hours for your pet and you to stretch and walk around. Be sure to have your pet’s leash handy to have control and so your pet doesn’t run away in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Have your own supply of cold water, as fresh water is not always handy or convenient when you need to stop.
  • Have your pet consume small amounts of food and water, but don’t allow to overeat or drink if you still have more traveling to do. Reserve your pet’s main meal for the end of the day.
  • Leaving a pet in a parked car is never a good idea. Temperatures in confined spaces in the summer time can heat up fast, causing heatstroke — even death — to a pet. Extremely cold temperatures in the winter can be just as threatening, so be sure not to leave a pet in the car if the temperature is near the freezing mark.
  • A pet first-aid kit is an essential item to pack when venturing out and should contain things such as antiseptic cream, assorted bandages, tweezers, eye drops, gauge, tape, and the like. Aldie Vet’s phone number, the National Animal Poison Control Center hotline (1-888-466-3242) and hit prompt 2), and emergency vet hospitals in the areas where you plan to travel should be taken along.
  • A travel tag on a pet’s collar will help someone locate you should you and your pet become separated. The travel tag should contain information about where you are staying locally (while away from home), including addresses and phone numbers. A cell phone number is also a good idea since most people have one with them, especially when they travel.

Bus or Train

  • State and local restrictions usually prohibit pets from riding on buses or trains unless they are assisting visually impaired or physically challenged persons. Always check in advance with these transportation providers to find out what regulations they may impose.

Is Your Pet at Risk for Lyme Disease?

April is “Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs” month.  Although cats can get Lyme disease, cases are rarely reported because there’s not a test that can confirm the diagnosis. Also, many times cats will not show any symptoms that are visual to their pet owners.

This is not the case in dogs. We do have a test for Lyme disease and the number of dogs that have tested positive has increased 50% in the last two years for the Northern Virginia area alone.

So, is your dog at risk? Depending on the answers to these five questions will determine the answer:

  1. Is your dog mostly inside and not very active when outside (limited outdoor access & regularly walks on leash)?
  2. Are you applying a tick preventative each month to your pet dogs and cats?
  3. Do you take your dog to a Veterinarian every year for a tick-borne disease (e.g., Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, etc.) screening?
  4. Has your dog been vaccinated against Lyme disease?
  5. Does your dog stay home every time you travel?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, your dog is at greater risk for Lyme disease. To minimize these risks, we offer the following Health Tips:

  • There are numerous products and medications available to keep ticks off your pet. At Aldie Vet, we suggest putting a topical medication (Frontline) on your pet, including your pet cats, every 30 days.
  • Because most vector-borne disease infections show few if any early signs, comprehensive annual testing is the only way to know for sure if your dog has been exposed. In addition, no preventive or vaccine is 100% effective, which makes annual checkups even more important to your pet’s health. Vector-borne disease testing is fast and easy on your dog. At Aldie Vet, ours screens for three separate tick-borne diseases in one test.
  • Another preventative service Aldie Vet recommends is to vaccinate your healthy dog every year for Lyme disease.
  • When you travel with your pet to different areas, be aware that they can be exposed to different ticks and diseases than those found near your home. Visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s Parasite Prevalence Maps before you travel.

If your pet does test positive for Lyme or another tick-borne disease, Aldie Vet will determine the individual treatment program that’s best for your pet’s health.