Author Archives: admin

My Least Favorite Things

I am so fortunate to have a career (a calling really) that intrigues, inspires and challenges me. I absolutely love what I do. And I love that, on random days, miniature piglets may show up at my job (see piglet selfie, at left.) For me, most days as a veterinarian are good days, and I’ve […]

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Pet Foods: Clear as Mud

Pet food is a hot topic for clients and veterinarians alike. Recalls involving pet foods and treats over the past several years have caused many caring pet owners to become distrustful of the entire pet food industry. Aggressive and misleading advertising by certain pet food brands has given owners false hope that if they feed […]

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Canine Misunderstandings

Dogs are such wonderfully complex creatures. Like humans, we know that dogs can experience anxiety, fear, and joy. What dogs are not, however, are small people with exactly the same gamut of emotions, intentions and deliberations as their owners. Many of us inappropriately attribute complicated human emotions to our canine companions (called anthropomorphism), and this […]

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Food Fads

So many trends in human nutrition have come and gone (think about low fat, low carb, “Atkins”, grapefruit-only, and cabbage soup diets). Unfortunately, some of these trends trickle down to our canine friends, with absolutely no scientific evidence to support their safety and efficacy. With limited oversight of the pet food industry, manufacturers can make […]

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Brusha, Brusha, Brusha: Five Essentials of Dental Care

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Yay for oral hygiene! As I previously discussed, dental disease is the most prevalent illness in our domestic dogs and cats, but the good news is that it can be prevented more readily than many diseases we see. There are so many misconceptions about pet dental health, treatment […]

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Say It Ain’t So!

We love our clients. Newtown Square Veterinary Hospital has the most caring, committed, compassionate group of animal owners I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Our clients are willing and able to provide amazing care for Fluffy and Fido, and want to make the best possible decisions for their furry friends. Often, this includes researching medical […]

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Lumps and Bumps

One of the most frequent presenting complaints we see on our appointment schedule is “Check lump”. Our feline and canine fuzzy friends commonly develop lumps, bumps, warts, scabs and growths of all shapes and sizes. Some of these are simple to diagnose and clearly benign (like an embedded tick) while a small percent of skin […]

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The Truth About a Tooth

Hands down and far away, the most common illness we see in our patients is dental disease. I diagnose it multiple times per day in my patients. It is estimated that 80 percent of domestic dogs and 70 percent of cats develop gum disease by three years of age, and most do so silently. Our […]

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Snip and Clip

Thank goodness for pet groomers! They are entirely more talented, patient, capable and artistic when it comes to clipping dog and cat fur than I could ever be. Many groomers astutely notice common medical conditions such as ear and skin infections and skin tumors; I frequently see appointments that are scheduled as a result of […]

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Five Truths About Being a Veterinarian

Most people have a vision about what it’s like to be a veterinarian (that vision probably involves your veterinarian wearing a gleaming white coat, being nuzzled by a sweet, fuzzy dog, simultaneously accepting loving licks of affection while painlessly administering vaccines.) The reality: your veterinarian’s white coat was soiled within 5 minutes of arriving at […]

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Click It, or Ticket!

Recently, my dog Maeby and I filmed a spot with Rafferty Subaru, discussing the importance of car safety for our pets. With the advent of pet-friendly hotels everywhere, it seems more and more of us are traveling with our pets. Some dog owners like to take Fido everywhere, even while running brief errands around town, […]

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The Burt’s and The Bees

These days, so many clients are seeking natural foods, remedies and supplements for their pets (and for themselves!) I’m on board with this trend, to a degree: the 2-leggers in our house are vegetarians, and we try and eat mostly organic, unprocessed foods. The Dr D pets eat quality foods, with minimal additives and simple […]

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Quality, Not Quantity

If you’ve shared your home and your heart with cats and dogs over the years, inevitably you’ve been faced with making a decision about whether your beloved, infirm pet needs to be euthanized. Most veterinarians are strong advocates for euthanasia, in lieu of protracted suffering at home with a terminal illness. We are fortunate with […]

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The “Eyes” Have It

My name is Dr. D and yesterday, I removed a cat’s eyeball. Gruesome to think about, I know. Fortunately, enucleations (eye removal surgeries) are rare, but we do perform them on occasion. Why on earth would we ever remove an animal’s eye? There is a short list of reasons, but all are compelling since they result […]

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Your Dog Didn’t Kiss a Toad!

What’s that weird, pink, warty-looking growth on Fido’s lip? Don’t worry, Fido isn’t disfigured for life. We commonly see young dogs (typically under 2 years of age) whose owners have noticed a warty growth on the lips, nose or muzzle. These warts don’t bother Fido, they don’t seem to grow or change rapidly and they […]

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Whose Couch is it Anyway?

Picture these too-common scenarios: Fido is chewing on a rawhide, his absolute favorite treat; you walk past him to get to the laundry room, and he growls repeatedly until you walk away. Fido is eating dinner voraciously from his bowl when your toddler toddles past; Fido growls and snaps at your unsuspecting 2 year-old. Fido […]

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I’m back in Pennsylvania and enjoying this gorgeous weather! The AAFP conference was great, but I was happy to bid adieu to the 90 degree Texan weather. The final day of the conference was devoted to feline nutrition, an essential topic especially given the obesity epidemic in our feline friends.

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Pain-Free in Dallas!

It’s day two of the AAFP conference, and today was entirely devoted to pain management in cats. All of the lectures I attended today were given by the same speaker, Dr. Robin Downing. The good news is that Dr. Downing is a fantastic lecturer so our eight hours together flew by. The bad news is […]

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Cat-tastic in Texas!

Hello from Dallas! I’m in Texas, attending the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) annual conference, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I positively love to learn, especially about our particularly unique and challenging feline friends. The AAFP is an amazing organization of devoted, caring veterinarians who care deeply about feline medicine, surgery, […]

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Who is Walking Whom?

Many dog owners can attest to the fact that taking Fido for a walk can be a real drag, primarily because many dogs pull their owners as if they are hoping for a first place Iditarod finish. This is particularly true of large breed dogs, but there are a few smaller breeds that can pull […]

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My Heart(worm) Will Go On…

There are certain misconceptions we hear about over and over again from our fantastic and devoted clients. (E.g., “No, garlic does not prevent fleas – if it did, we’d all be using it” and “No, cats do not urinate on the carpet because they are spiteful!”) Heartworm disease is one of these topics, evoking a […]

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Nip, Gnaw, Bite, Chew

We’ve all been there: your new puppy Fido Junior is 12 weeks old, and constantly biting anything he can get into his mouth. Your hands are scratched, your ankles are raw, your sneakers have seen better days and your table legs look like a beaver attacked them. Take a deep breath! Teething behavior in puppies […]

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Antibodies Do a Body Good

It seems, almost daily, I see an appointment or return a phone call about a patient who recently received vaccinations and is now acting lethargic. This issue seems to occur most frequently in young kittens and puppies, as well as adult toy breed dogs (Yorkies, toy poodles, Chihuahuas, Maltese…I’m thinking of you!) While it is […]

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Victor Charlie Papa Romeo

At NSVH we receive a large number of phone messages daily with questions, concerns and dilemmas. Our vets also initiate calls to follow up on sick patients, discuss referrals or report lab results. Much can be accomplished via the phone: discussing what breed of dog to adopt, assuring an owner that it can be normal […]

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Snarf and Barf

If your Fido or Fluffy inhales meals in record time, then moments later regurgitates a large amount of undigested food…you are in good company. I remind clients frequently that, while we may have domesticated our furry canine and feline friends, we don’t seem to have domesticated their appetites much. Many dogs and cats are food-seeking […]

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Kitten Care 101

It’s been about 13 years since we had a kitten in the Dr. D household, and, with the addition of Mango’s progeny Watermelon (now called Pudge), I am having a refresher course in Kitten 101. I darn near forgot how much energy kittens have! And how they get into everything (electrical cords, closets, toilet paper.) […]

Posted in Cats Are Not Small Dogs, Life Around the Farm | 2 Comments

Appreciating the Cuteness!

Patients like Daphne, a bulldog puppy we saw today for a well visit, really make us happy to come to work! We love all our patients, cats and dogs alike. But there is something special about those puppies who are so happy to see us, they can’t stop wiggling with joy. Thanks, Daphne!

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Mangia, Mangia!

A question I’m frequently asked by both new and experienced pet owners: “How do I know if my pet is really sick?” More than any other symptom, a poor appetite can be an obvious indication that Fluffy or Fido is ill. If Fido doesn’t eat for several days, particularly if Fido is a happy-go-lucky Labrador […]

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Just Batty

One question many clients ask is why indoor-only cats need to be vaccinated for rabies. It is an understandable question with a fairly straightforward answer: in the state of Pennsylvania, the rabies vaccine is required by law for all cats and dogs 12 weeks of age and older, with a booster vaccine at one year […]

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Is There a Feline Referee for Hire?

As many of you know, I recently brought a foster cat named Mango into the Dr. D household. She’s a three year old, domestic longhair cat who had a litter of kittens in our care about 4 weeks ago. Mango is unbelievably sweet, even allowing my four year old son to carry her around, and […]

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Magic Mushrooms?

This week, I read a fascinating article in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, summarized nicely by the Huffington Post. The article was co-authored by a fantastically talented colleague, Dr. Jennifer Reetz, a board-certified veterinary radiologist who is on the staff at Penn Vet. The article details the surprising finding that dogs diagnosed with an aggressive […]

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I Don’t Know Nothin’ About Birthin’ No Kittens!

Our foster cat Mango had her kittens just over a week ago. Strawberry, Pineapple and Watermelon are thriving! Mango is an experienced mama cat, and she has been taking excellent care of her babies. Things are pretty easy for me at this point, since Mango is meeting all the kittens’ needs. Around 4 weeks of […]

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Another Reason to Adopt, Not Shop!

A new study out of Penn Vet confirms what most of us in the veterinary industry have known for a long time: puppies purchased from pet stores have a dramatically increased likelihood of psychological problems as adults. These pet store pups, which primarily come from puppy mills, were shown to be substantially more likely to […]

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2, 4, 6, 8, How Many Puppies Can You Appreciate?

Your puppy, Fiona, is really cute. She came from a nice pet store on the thoroughfare and is a special new breed called a “MixiMuttiPoo”. You would like to have more, just like her. And maybe it would be nice for the kids to witness the miracle of birth. So maybe you will breed Fiona, […]

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Canines al Fresco

Spring is in the air! After a few fits and starts, spring has come on strong in the Philadelphia area and most of us are making up for lost time by spending as much time outdoors as possible. My family attended the Malvern Spring Family Festival yesterday where we enjoyed games, great food, people (and […]

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To Board, or Not to Board?

At my first job out of veterinary school, our hospital had a large boarding kennel where upwards of 100 dogs could stay with us at any given moment. The associate veterinarians at the practice were responsible for addressing any medical concerns about the boarders that were brought to us by the kennel staff. Stress colitis, […]

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Fleas, and Ticks, and Worms, Oh My!

At Newtown Square Veterinary Hospital, most of our clients are religiously compliant with administering heartworm and flea/tick preventatives to Fido year-round. We are big advocates for preventative care, and parasite prevention plays a large role in keeping Fido healthy.Occasionally, I hear from clients that they only use parasite preventatives seasonally, in the warmer months. There […]

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Like a Rolling Stone

Oh boy, did I get to perform a fun surgery this week! My favorite surgery to perform is a cystotomy, where an incision is made into the bladder to remove uroliths (bladder stones). While kidney stones are common in humans, they are uncommon in cats and dogs. Bladder stones, however, are a frequent finding in […]

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Just as physicians are MD’s or DO’s, and dentists are DMD’s or DDS’s, veterinarians also have initials after our names. (You may have caught onto this, as these initials play into the name of this blog!) All veterinarians who graduate from a 4-year accredited veterinary school receive one of two degrees: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine […]

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Styrofoam Tears

One of the best things about being a veterinarian is that every day is different, and every day presents new challenges. This week, I saw an emergency appointment with two pit bulls in the same family. The presenting complaint was “small balls coming out of the eyes.” What on earth could this mean?

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It’s Electric, Boogie Woogie

In a few short weeks, we are moving to a new house that has an existing invisible dog fence. Our current home has a fully fenced-in backyard, which has been wonderful for keeping two dogs and a small child contained. The new property is much larger, and an irregular shape, so a wooden fence just […]

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Drowning…In Debt

An article in this week’s New York Times has been making the rounds in the veterinary community, with many of my vet school classmates posting a link to this article on Facebook. The article details one of the biggest crises in veterinary medicine: the crippling academic debt incurred by veterinary school graduates, the low starting […]

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Better Living Through Chemistry

There’s been a lot going on at the Dr. D household over the past few weeks. We sold our house, bought a new house nearby and, sadly, had to say goodbye to our dog Kona. With all this turmoil, our other dog Maeby has been quite out of sorts. Maeby was very attached to Kona, […]

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AKC: Always Kept Confined?

WIth the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show scheduled for this week (February 10th and 11th), an article in The New York Timesraises some significant concerns about the living, breeding and health conditions for many purebred American Kennel Club (AKC)-registered dogs.Unfortunately, as with many, many dog breeders across the nation, even those who register their […]

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The Sound of Silence

Fortunately, it’s a question I’ve been asked a scant few times in my career: can my yappy, barking dog be “debarked” with surgery? I recently read an interesting Huffington Postblogon this topic, and the author beautifully sums up why this horrendously painful and unnecessary surgery is never recommended by veterinarians. Most of us consider debarking […]

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No Easy Day

Often, when people find out that I’m a veterinarian, one of the first questions I’m asked is: “Veterinary school is harder to get into than medical school, isn’t it?” This is a commonly held belief, and there is some truth to it. I’m also frequently asked “What does my daughter/son need to do to be […]

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Dogs, Goats and Llamas, Oh My!

My family attended the Philadelphia Pet Expo for the first time this past weekend, and it was such a fun event! There were scads of vendors selling pet supplies, cute dog collars, cat toys and appetizing dog treats.

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The Dreaded Lampshade

So, your cat just had surgery. Or your dog has been licking himself incessantly, creating a hot spot. Your veterinarian emphatically recommends that Fluffy/Fido wear an Elizabethan collar (E-collar) to allow the incision/wound to heal. You think Fluffy will freak out and hide all day with the E-collar on. Or that Fido can’t walk, eat, […]

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Cough It Up

It is a fact of life that cats can have an occasional hairball. Truthfully, our feline friends are well-designed to be able to ingest large quantities of fur without digestive trouble. Cats are meticulous groomers, and some seem to spend the greater portion of most days grooming themselves (when they’re not sleeping of course!) As […]

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Howl You Doin’?

It’s 3am and no one in the house is sleeping. Fluffy, your geriatric cat, has been up howling and screaming for the past hour. Fluffy never used to do this before, but it’s become a nightly ritual. Everyone is exhausted and you’re ready to put Fluffy out on the front porch. What could have prompted […]

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I really, really like being a veterinarian. I like my patients, my clients, medicine in general and veterinary medicine in particular. I like routine puppy appointments and heart-pounding emergencies. I like surgery, gastroenterology, radiology, hematology and many other sub-specialities, all of which I get to practice on a daily basis. As is true of all […]

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A Hole in the Wall

Yesterday I performed an umbilical hernia repair on an incredibly cute French Bulldog. The surgery went smoothly, but it was more than a cosmetic repair in this case. This young dog was born with the hernia, but recently the hernia went from being small and soft, to large, firm and bright red. One of my […]

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Let’s Be Friends!

Dr. D VMD finally has a new Facebook page! Go to and click “like” to have access to the latest blog posts, cool veterinary stories, warm and fuzzy animal photos and an occasional gross medical photo. (Hey! I love gross! And I can’t wait to share the gross!) Or just scroll down to the bottom of […]

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Call the Ambulance!

Whenever I meet a new client at our animal hospital, I like to give them a brief rundown of our hospital’s hours, policies and procedures. We do see emergencies whenever our hospital’s doors are open. However, it is important clients know that our hospital is closed overnight, and that we do not take overnight emergency […]

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Veterinary Fact or Fiction?

After 7 years of practice in veterinary medicine, I have collected a number of “veterinary old wives’ tales”. There are many misconceptions common within the pet-owning community, and those of us who work in veterinary medicine tend to hear the same ones frequently. Some are of these old wives’ tales are cute and quirky, while […]

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At the Dog Wash, Yeah!

Just this week, a client shared with me a wonderful tip! For a mere $10, Pet Valu, a pet store located near our veterinary hospital in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, offers a do-it-yourself dog washing station. For those of us with big dogs (I have an 80-pounder and a 40-pounder), washing dogs at home can be difficult […]

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Flea! Fi! Fo! Fum!

It’s that time of year again, when the appointment calendar is full with itchy, scratchy dogs and cats. Some have seasonal allergic dermatitis, but many have…eek…fleas! In the Philadelphia region, August, September and October are the worst months for fleas, but we can see them any time of year, particularly during a warm winter.How to […]

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Housebreaking 101

Your new puppy is so cute. He’s fluffy, and friendly, and playful…and he keeps urinating on the kitchen floor. You’ve rubbed his nose in it, taken him outside repeatedly, and tried to confine him to the kitchen when you’re not around, but the puddles continue. What do do? This, my friends, is Housebreaking 101, also […]

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Paging Dr. Google

What did we do before the internet? How else could we settle a debate about which movie Jeremy Renner appeared in before The Hurt Locker, investigate a neighbor’s asking price for their newly listed house and check the weather obsessively? Clearly, since I write a blog, I’m a fan. Despite my love for all things online […]

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Home is Where the Danger Is?

A recent news story by our local CBS affiliate, featuring my veterinary classmate Dr. Garett Pachtinger, told the tragic story of an owner who came home to find her dog with her head stuck in an empty bag of potato chips. Sadly, Lucy, a pitbull mix, had suffocated and could not be revived. While a […]

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Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” was the title of the final episode of M*A*S*H, my favorite childhood television show. It could also be the title of some of the sadder days I’ve experienced as a veterinarian. A recent article in the New York Times addressed some of the moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding end-of-life care and […]

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Creaky, Cranky Kitty?

Dogs will hit you over the head with a hammer (or a tennis ball, or frisbee) to let you know they’re out of sorts. Our feline friends are often more subtle when displaying signs of illness or pain than their canine counterparts. Something as simple as a change in sleep patterns, or as obvious as […]

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Reference Desk

This is a great time to be a veterinarian. Particularly, in populated areas like suburban Philadelphia, we have a myriad of specialty and emergency referral practices to which we can send our clients and patients. Veterinary emergency clinics are a real boon for us general practitioners. Locally, there are many highly trained, eminently qualified emergency […]

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High Maintenance

Pets of all species require some amount of work from their owners, with certain pets (pet rocks) being much less work than others (thoroughbreds). The truth is, that even within a specific species, certain breeds seem to require more maintenance, and in turn, more expense than others. This is certainly a consideration when choosing which […]

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More to Love

In Italian-American families like mine, food is often equated with love. Many pet owners want to love their pets in the same way- with too much food. As a result, we have an obesity epidemic among our household dog and cat populations in America. Several times a day, I talk to my clients about putting their […]

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Fluffy vs. the Medicine Cabinet

From the first day of veterinary school, students are taught that “cats are not small dogs”. I’ve said this phrase before and, undoubtedly, I will say it again. There are many quirks and idiosyncrasies to our feline friends, and their unique physiology. This can make life challenging for veterinarians, especially when it comes to prescribing […]

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Ew! My Dog Ate What?

Seeing a commercial for a new show on the National Geographic Channel called “My Dog Ate What?” got me thinking about my own dog Kona, pictured here. Kona, like so many of my canine patients, has a penchant for what we in the veterinary industry like to call “dietary indiscretions”. This means Kona will eat […]

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Meow Mix

Well, my time has come. Somehow, even after working in this profession for a decade, I’ve not had the opportunity to foster a litter of kittens. That all changed this week, when a good samaritan client brought in three kittens she had found in her neighborhood. One of our technicians quickly volunteered to hand-raise the […]

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Up, Up and Away

While I’m on vacation with family this week, my pets are safe at home with a trusted petsitter. It’s just not possible to bring all three of them when we travel. Many pet owners are lucky enough, however, to travel with their pets, whether by plane or car. Small dogs and cats can be brought […]

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Who Ya Gonna Call?

Most parents know to call the poison control hotline if their child accidentally ingests medication or a household cleaner. Most pet owners might not know that there is also a poison control hotline specifically for pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is an amazing resource for pet owners and veterinarians alike. The hotline is […]

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Boom Boom Pow

It’s that time of year…thunder rattling the windows at night, lightening illuminating the bedroom walls, torrential rain beating upon the roof, Fourth of July fireworks…and a dog, panting and trembling next to the bed as the storm rages outside. Thunderstorm and fireworks phobias are very common, particularly as dogs age. This type of anxiety can […]

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Hot Town, Summer in the City

Whew! The Philadelphia area has been boiling the past several days, with temperatures well over 90 degrees. Most of us are seeking out air conditioning, or finding a shady spot by the pool. It’s equally important that Fido be kept cool; dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than humans, since our canine friends lack […]

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Gimme Shelter

My favorite appointments to see, of course, are those with new puppies and kittens.  These can be long appointments, with much to discuss, but they are an opportunity to educate new pet owners, forge a bond with clients, and smell some seriously wonderful puppy breath! Sadly, sometimes these appointments contain an awkward moment, when the […]

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Retract That!

Those of us fortunate enough to work in veterinary medicine love our clients. And we love their dogs. We are thrilled to see a wiggly, happy dog burst through our front door, dragging a client behind them. We are even glad to accept slobbery dog kisses from said patients. What we don’t like to see, […]

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Duck, Duck, Green Pea?

Phoebe was brought into my clinic by a good client who frequently rescued stray cats in her neighborhood.  Since she already had many cats at home, my client couldn’t keep Phoebe but wanted us to assess her health before finding her a home. When I first looked at Phoebe, she was missing most of the […]

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A Slice of Lyme

Just recently, a client asked me what I knew about the human Lyme disease vaccine and why it was pulled from the market. Since my veterinary hospital is located in what I refer to as the “epicenter” of Lyme disease, we frequently field questions about Lyme disease prevention and treatment. While veterinarians practice on many […]

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No Littering Please

Litter box issues are one of the most common, and frustrating, problems cat lovers encounter. Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat knows that there is nothing worse than the smell of cat urine on the carpet (or sofa, or comforter, or laundry…the list goes on.) The question: why is Kitty urinating outside […]

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Wrap It Up

There are so many amazing products in veterinary medicine that make our jobs easier. Some, like digital radiography (x-rays) are literal life-savers, but can be expensive and complicated technology. Others, such as one of my favorite products, are simple, inexpensive designs. Vetwrap is a product we use every day, in a variety of situations. It’s […]

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Many Lemons Make Lemonade

I’ve been lucky to share my home with many cats and dogs over the past years (and lucky to have a husband who helps manage the zoo!). Like many of my clients, I’ve been unlucky to have pets with unusual, chronic and sometimes expensive diseases and conditions. I’ve learned an incredible amount from my pets, and their […]

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Hello, Woof and Meow

Hello and welcome!  I’m Dr D, and I’m lucky enough to be a small animal veterinarian.  After a decade working in veterinary medicine, I’ve learned that many of my clients have similar concerns, interests and questions about cats and dogs.  This is a space to have an ongoing conversation about those topics vital to cat […]

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A Tough Pill to Swallow

Anyone who has been owned by a cat knows that they are often difficult, if not impossible, to medicate.  Liquid medications end up spit out, dripping down the furniture and pills mysteriously reappear on the floor 30 minutes after they’ve been given. Some dogs even present a challenge to “pill”, although most would happily accept […]

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Everyone Does It

Pet owners spend an inordinate amount of time viewing, cleaning up and thinking about their pets’ bowel movements. (This rule also, of course, applies to parents of young children, but that’s well beyond the scope of this blog.) Is my pet going enough? Too much? Does it have an unusual smell? Does it look funny? […]

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