dental care aldie vet

Proper Sedated Dental Care For Pets

Have you heard about non-anesthetic dental cleanings for your pets?  In this blog post Dr. Pattie will discuss the risks of such dental practices as well as the benefits to traditional dental care at the vet’s office.  If you have any questions about your pets oral health, the safety of anesthesia, or what you can do at home, please don’t hesitate to contact us, or to schedule time with a licensed veterinary technician to answer your questions.

ANESTHESIA-FREE DENTAL CLEANINGS : FACT VS. FICTION

Veterinarians, including those at Aldie Veterinary Hospital, are more frequently encountering cats and dogs that have had “Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings” (AFDC) or what has been termed “Non-professional Dental Scaling” (NPDS).  The alternative is professional dental scaling & polishing with a licensed veterinarian, which is exactly the same procedure you do at your dentist checkups.  The only difference is that animals don’t “open up and say ahhh”, therefore a professional veterinary dental cleaning requires general anesthesia.

There are a few reasons for this notable increase of AFDC/NPDS. Fortunately, this is primarily the result of more owners being aware of the importance of oral health care for their pets. These owners also have natural concerns about the risks of anesthesia and the associated costs. Unfortunately, AFDC/NPDS has been marketed as an attractive alternative that touts the same benefits as professional scaling without the cost and risks. By definition, a complete and comprehensive oral exam includes a complete visualization of all dental/oral structures, probing the gum-line, and may include taking dental X-Rays. In spite of the claims, it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to perform a “complete, comprehensive and thorough” oral assessment on companion animal patients without the assistance of general anesthesia.

The reason for this impossibility is because not all surfaces of a pet’s teeth are even visible in an awake patient. Periodontal disease affects the surfaces 360 degrees around the teeth (just like humans). Most periodontal infections start in locations BETWEEN teeth where the toothbrush does not reach. The hidden bacteria that cause periodontal disease and infection is NOT addressed with AFDC/NPDS, and a false sense of accomplishment is conveyed. These pets may continue to be affected for years with chronic oral infection which progresses to the point of pain, gum recession, and eventually tooth loss. When infections are finally recognized, the patients are usually older, and often have additional health related problems that increase the risks of anesthesia. Instead of treatment being an elective, preventive procedure on a relatively healthy patient, there is often urgency to treating the problem on a less healthy patient.  Additionally, the problems become not only more urgent to treat, but treatment costs are then often greater.

As for general anesthesia, no one should ever say it is without risk; however, it can absolutely be approached safely with appropriate pre-sedation screening and trained professionals.  Most major anesthetic risks are associated with two things: 1) the general health of the patient (young & healthy vs. older & existing problems), and 2) the level of training, knowledge, caring and skills of those individuals administering and monitoring the anesthesia itself.  Highly trained and experienced veterinarians and technicians are found here at Aldie Veterinary Hospital.  Bottom line: risk of sedation must be outweighed by the potential benefit (pain relief, etc.).  The more we know the details of your pet’s health, the safer we can deliver anesthesia and effective oral health care.

Furthermore, with AFDC/NPDS, proper treatment of any oral problem is even less possible to perform and can even be dangerous.  In California, a recent (2012) case of a patient’s fractured jaw led to a ruling against the party as practicing veterinary medicine without a license.  The reason this accident happened was due to the non-sedated animal struggling against attempts to perform oral work.

It is acceptable for well-meaning clients to decline professional treatment because of their fear of anesthesia or if they cannot afford it.  However, it is another thing to be fooled by the marketing of untrained individuals that target this fear and offer an alternative that is “just as good”. AFDC/NPDS is a service whose marketing sounds appealing and logical on the surface, however, it promises a lot more than can be delivered.  It is essentially a cosmetic procedure that addresses only the visible surfaces of only some of the pet’s teeth. Unfortunately, without the benefit of general anesthesia, pets most often do not receive the proper and timely preventative care, diagnosis and treatment of oral problems. What results are pets that are not receiving thorough preventative care, and some have serious dental problems that go undiagnosed and/or are improperly treated.

For general information on performance of dental procedures on veterinary patients, please read the AVDC Position Statement on Veterinary Dental Healthcare Providers, which is available on the AVDC web site (www.AVDC.org). For information on effective oral hygiene products for dogs and cats, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council web site (www.VOHC.org). or ask any of our trained and knowledgeable professionals at Aldie Vet.

Caroline Pattie, DVM, CVA

Dr. Barnes examining a cat in the cage feline friendly way

Does My Cat Really Need the Vet?

Does My Cat Really Need the Vet?

Some people believe that veterinary visits are too stressful or unnecessary for their cat.  Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Cats are secretive and masters of hiding disease.  It takes a trained eye, a thorough history, and maybe some lab tests to know for sure.  Nature teaches cats that the sick and the weak fall, for this reason, they will hide sickness until they are no longer physically able to do so.

Frequently, when owners are concerned about their cats because they’re acting ill, they have a very advanced disease process.  These cats were often acting perfectly normal even up to the day before they started acting sick.  Routine examination and blood work can detect minor changes in organ function. Therefore, treatment can be started early and prolong the life of the patient.

An annual examination allows the veterinarian to have a good baseline for your pet.  This will help them detect abnormalities or changes over time.  A good annual exam will cover all body parts of your cat from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.

Eyes and Nose
The vet will check for clarity, basic vision, and signs of infection or inflammation. They may also ask you about your cats’ behavior at home.
Oral Cavity
The vet will examine the oral cavity for gum inflammation, oral masses, signs of excess tartar on the teeth, and tooth abnormalities or breakage.
Ears
The vet will examine your cat’s ears for signs of infection, debris, inflammation, redness, drainage around the ear canal, and mites.
Heart and Lungs
Your vet will listen to your kitty’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope, listening for any heart murmurs or any other abnormal sounds, such as respiratory congestion.
Fur
Your vet will examine your cat’s skin and hair coat, these can be indicative of certain disease processes, allergies, or flea infestation.
Paws and Legs
The vet will examine the legs and feet.  They will palpate to make sure your cat has a full range of motion and is not painful.
Abdomen
Your vet will palpate your kitty’s abdomen.  This is to feel for any apparent masses or any pain in the digestive tract.
Rectum
The anus will be checked for visual evidence of worms, and the anal glands for potential signs of infection or impaction.

All of these things will give your vet an idea of your cats’ health.  Additionally, your vet may request lab work. This could include blood work, urinalysis, and potentially radiographs or an ultrasound.  Certain values in the blood or urine will change as organ function begins to decline.  These blood values may remain the only symptom for an extended period of time.  Early detection will make treatment much more possible and manageable.

Your vet will use all of these clues to determine the health of your pet.  Continued care and monitoring are the only way to detect changes.  This is the reason that an annual examination is the standard of practice.  As your cat gets older your vet may opt to do twice yearly examinations.  Waiting until your cat shows signs of illness may be too late.

Dr. Hood well pet exam of a yorkie

Well Pet Care

We believe preventative medicine is the key to provide lifelong health through annual exams, immunizations, spaying and neutering, dental cleanings, as well as geriatric profile. We will provide you with recommendations and information needed so you may make educated decisions for the best care.

Adult Care – Your adult pets need to be examined at least annually in order to prevent/detect any medical issues. Pets age faster than we do and as a result, health problems can progress much more rapidly. Regular wellness exams will confirm that your pet is healthy or help catch problems before they can become more serious. During the annual veterinary visit, we will do a complete health consultation and physical exam. In addition, your pet may need blood work, vaccinations, and an intestinal parasite screening.

Vaccinations – Our goal is to provide the safest immunization schedule possible. Therefore, each vaccination schedule is tailored especially for your pet, based on the specific lifestyle and potential exposure to diseases.

Dental Care – Routine teeth cleanings and polishing is an important and necessary part of preventative medicine. Studies show that approximately 80% of dogs and cats over three years of age are affected by some type of dental disease. Left untreated, pet dental problems will result in discomfort, pain, and possible loss of teeth. Infected gums and tartar buildup play host to a large number of bacteria, which can find their way to other parts of your pet’s body, which can lead to major health problems. Signs your pet has dental disease include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Missing or eroded teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Reluctant to play with toys or eat
  • Lethargy

A typical routine dental cleaning includes:

  • Complete blood work to ensure your pet can safely undergo anesthesia
  • Custom anesthesia plan (based on your pet’s age, risk factors, lab results, and level of dental disease)
  • Digital dental radiography & x-rays of the chest and abdomen (depending on your pet’s age)
  • Teeth cleaning & polishing utilizing our ultrasonic and air driven equipment
  • Fluoride treatment
  • Full oral examination
  • Fluids administered to prevent dehydration
  • Continuous monitoring by our veterinary team after the procedure to ensure a pain-free, low-stress, safe recovery
  • A home dental care plan, including before and after pictures

Senior Care – As part of our preventative medicine, we recommend doing an annual geriatric profile on your pet. This profile includes blood work to look at organ function, as well as white and red blood cells. We also look at a urine sample to ensure the kidneys are functioning properly. We do recommend taking radiographs to ensure the heart, lungs, kidney, spleen, liver, as well as other internal organs, appear normal.

Puppy/Kitten Care – If you have recently adopted a puppy or kitten, you should visit Aldie Vet for a complete physical exam as soon as possible. Our goal is to screen your pet for any health problems, fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites, as well as discuss the nutritional needs that your puppy or kitten will need as they are in a high growth stage. This will help to ensure that your new family member is healthy and that disease is not transmitted to other pets in your home. Puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable to parasitic infections that can threaten their health. Proper screening and preventative products can help protect them against intestinal worms, fleas, and heartworm disease. Puppies and kittens also have immature immune systems which make it difficult to fight off disease. Therefore, if you notice any of the following, please give us a call immediately:

  • Weight loss
  • Excessive drinking and/or urination
  • Loss of appetite or lethargy
  • Behavior changes
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Skin lumps, bumps or irritation
  • Bad breath, plaque on teeth or bleeding gums
  • Ear odors, redness, scratching or head shaking
  • Trouble urinating or defecating
Heartworm medicine prevents heartworms in dogs and cats

Heartworm Preventative – Once a Month!

Aldie Veterinary Hospital recommends giving your pet dog or cat its heartworm preventative monthly. Whether the preventive you choose is given as a pill, a spot-on topical medication or as an injection, all approved heartworm medications work by eliminating the immature (larval) stages of the heartworm parasite. This includes the infective heartworm larvae deposited by the mosquito as well as the following larval stage that develops inside the animal. Unfortunately, in as little as 51 days, immature heartworm larvae can molt into an adult stage, which cannot be effectively eliminated by preventives. Because heartworms must be eliminated before they reach this adult stage, it is extremely important that heartworm preventives be administered strictly on schedule (monthly for oral and topical products and every 6 months for the injectable). Administering prevention late can allow immature larvae to molt into the adult stage, which is poorly prevented.

Giving it on the 1st of the month is probably the easiest to remember. Also, don’t forget to apply your flea and tick preventative monthly.

Dr. Pattie examining a dog's face

Why does my dog need the kennel cough vaccine?

“Kennel cough” is a nickname for a constellation of about a dozen different canine infectious upper respiratory illnesses: viruses and bacteria, some normal inhabitants of the airways which can become opportunistic infections, and some pathologic invaders.  All of these diseases look the same clinically: a coughing dog (dry/hacking or quiet/moist), often with runny eyes or runny nose.  “Kennel cough” does not mean to signify any disease in particular.  Most of these illnesses are self-limiting and don’t pose a major health threat on their own, but the more typical real-life scenario is a patient fighting a mixed-bag of multiple infectious agents which combine to create life-threatening disease.  Not all of these diseases have vaccines, therefore we strive to prevent what we can, and that way if they catch an illness that was not immunized for they may not develop a more severe situation.

One of these preventable illnesses is Bordetella bronchiseptica; a highly contagious bacterial species which typically causes an aggravating inflammation of the large airways in the chest (trachea and bronchi).  Bordetella is most likely to manifest as clinical illness in the youngest populations of dogs; we continue to vaccinate the healthy adults as they are usually catching it and shedding it, but we would never know it as they aren’t coughing.  For Bordetella, it is best to use an intranasal vaccine (just like a FluMist), which is the easiest, most safest way to vaccinate an individual.  It also targets the airways where the disease occurs.

It is important to remember that immunizations will not guarantee that the illness can be 100% prevented, but they will reduce the severity of the illness in the individual and reduce the shedding of the agent among the group.  Immunizations are there to protect not only the individual, but the population as well.  By inciting“herd immunity,” we can better prevent the presence and spread of illness in the general group.

A veterinary hospital lobby is a hotbed of nose-to-nose contact, excited sneezing and vocalizations (think saliva and nasal secretions in the air), in a facility where we have a unique challenge to admit and treat ill patients while simultaneously seeing wellness visits with healthy patients.  Added to this mix is a general decrease in natural immunity due to the stress of coming in that many patients feel, and everyone is concentrated into a relatively small space.  This challenge is managed with a multimodal approach of environmental hygiene, strategic planning of appointments/procedures, biosecurity measures, and clear-cut administrative policies (such as immunization requirements, also known as “core” vaccinations).  Without certain policies in place, a veterinary hospital would become a major source of disease.

This concept applies to any facility where concentrated/stressed populations exist, such as grooming salons, doggie daycare, boarding, and dog parks.  Any exposure to these areas would thus be an indication for this core vaccine.  Therefore, any dog whose lifestyle includes these interactions should be vaccinated for Bordetella at least once per year, and forever monitored for any signs of “kennel cough.”

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 www.VOHC.org 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!

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.

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.

Have a Heart for Chained Dogs

“Have a Heart for Chained Dogs” will be observed this month from February 5-12, 2012.

What’s Wrong With Tethering?  Dogs are social beings that thrive on interaction with humans and other animals. Tethered dogs are often the victims of abuse and neglect, suffering from sporadic feedings, empty water bowls, inadequate veterinary care and exposure to weather extremes. They are forced to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in the same confined area, which goes against their natural instincts. Tethered dogs also suffer neck injuries from collars that have become embedded into their skin—some even strangle to death when chains become entangled with other objects. Chained in place, they are also helpless to defend themselves against abusive people, stray dogs and wild animals who may invade their space. In addition, unaltered, chained female dogs are likely to attract strays, leading to unwanted litters.

What Are the Effects of Long-Term Tethering on Dogs? Tethering for short time periods, using appropriate equipment, in an animal-friendly environment (access to water, shelter and toys, for example) is generally harmless. However, keeping a dog on a tether for the majority of the day often leads to negative behavior changes. Tethered dogs run a high risk of becoming “stir crazy” due to the inability to release their energy and socialize with others. With dogs, boredom often leads to frustration, which, in turn, often leads to aggression. An additional contributor to aggression is that, given only a small area in which to dwell, tethered dogs are known to become irrationally protective of that area because it is essentially their whole world. Studies have shown that chained or tethered dog is nearly three times more likely to bite than a dog that is not chained or tethered.

“Chaining and Tethering.” ASPCA.org. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Web.  5 February 2012. < http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/advocacy-center/animal-laws-about-the-issues/tethering.aspx>.

There are laws in our quad-state area that specifically discuss tethering or chaining your dog and the penalties for not obeying the laws. Below are excerpts from each state.

VirginiaClass 4 misdemeanor, VA ST§ 3.2-6500

Each owner shall provide for each of his companion animals adequate space. For purposes of tethering “adequate space” means a tether that: is appropriate to the age and size of the animal; is attached to the animal by a properly applied collar, halter, or harness; configured so as to protect the animal from injury and prevent the animal or tether from becoming entangled with other objects or animals; ius at least three times the length of the animal, as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail.


Maryland Misdemeanor subject to imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or a fine not exceeding $1,000 orboth, MD CRIM LAW § 10-623

A person may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the movement of the dog; Or one that uses a collar that: is made primarily of metal; is not at least as large as the circumference of the dog’s neck plus 1 inch; that restricts the access of the dog to suitable and sufficient clean water or appropriate shelter; in unsafe or unsanitary conditions; that causes injury to the dog.


West Virginia – Misdemeanor with fine of not less than $300 nor more than $2,000 or confined in jail not more than six months, WV ST§ 61-8-19

It is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cruelly chain or tether an animal.


District of ColumbiaImprisonment in jail not exceeding 180 days, or by fine not exceeding $250, or by both, DC ST§ 22.1001

For the purposes of this section, “cruelly chains” means attaching an animal to a stationary object or a pulley by means of a chain, rope, tether, leash, cable, or similar restraint under circumstances that may endanger its health, safety, or well-being. Cruelly chains includes a tether that:  Causes the animal to choke; does not permit the animal to reach food, water, shade, dry ground; does not permit the animal to escape harm.

Wisch, Rebecca F. Overview of State Dog Tethering Laws.” animallaw.info. Animal Legal & Historical Center. Michigan State University College of Law. 2009/2011. Web. 5 February 2012. < http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ovustetherlaws.htm>.