It's hard to believe that it’s almost time for Thanksgiving, the official start of the 2017 holiday season. This is a special, yet busy, time of year to come together with loved ones to express gratitude for life’s blessings. While you understand what’s going on with Thank­­­­sgiving, your pet does not. To him, it’s just a houseful of people he doesn’t know and smelling delicious food he can’t have. This could cause your dog or cat to misbehave, sustain an injury, or acquire food poisoning. Below are some tips to help you prevent that.
 
Try to Keep Your Pet’s Routine Consistent
For you, Thanksgiving is a chance to break out of the everyday routine and enjoy the company of your family. We all need that. However, pets thrive on routine. They don’t understand why your work schedule is different, you’re spending time baking, or why you’re traveling or inviting people to your home. This can cause stress and unpredictable behavior.
 
If you think the stress of the holiday season is getting to your dog or cat, create a quiet place in your home where she can get away from at all. It’s also best to keep your pet’s diet consistent as well as her exercise schedule. This is the best way to ensure that she doesn’t get sick from eating unknown foods or from lack of movement.

Human Foods That Pets Should Not Eat
You might think that a small bite of the Thanksgiving meal or treats won’t hurt your cat or dog. That may be true in some cases, but we urge you to share in moderation and to avoid giving you pet any of the following foods. The digestive system of companion animals is not like ours and they simply can’t handle certain things. These include:
  • Bones: What dog doesn’t love a good bone? Unfortunately, bones from your Thanksgiving turkey could contain tiny parts that cause a choking hazard for your dog. If you want your pet to have his own Thanksgiving treat, consider ordering from our online store instead.
  • Chocolate: The cocoa powder in chocolate can cause your pet severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and other signs of gastric distress. 
  • Food with a high fat content: Human food containing excess fat can lead to pancreatitis or gastroenteritis in your pet. Both conditions are painful and could become life-threatening over time.
  • Onions and powder for onions: These ingredients are common in seasoning and stuffing. They could cause your pet to develop anemia because of red blood cell damage. 
  • Raisins and grapes: These small fruits present a choking hazard for dogs and cats. They also contain toxins that can damage your pet’s kidneys.
Even when you don’t share food with your pet voluntarily, he may be on the lookout for someone to drop a wrapper or food scrap on the floor. The smell may cause him to get so excited that he attempts to eat aluminum foil, wax paper, cardboard, or another type of food wrapping. You also need to keep an eye on your garbage can to ensure your dog or cat doesn’t try to get into it. The best way to avoid these problems is to keep your pet in another room until everyone has enjoyed their Thanksgiving meal.
 
Who to Call in an Emergency
Sometimes a persistent pet can find trouble regardless of the safeguards you put in place. Since Battletown Animal Clinic is closed on Thanksgiving, you can contact The Life Centre at 703-777-5755 in Loudoun County or Valley Veterinary Emergency at 540-662-7811 in Shenandoah Valley if you need immediate help.
 
Happy Thanksgiving!

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The disease leptospirosis can affect several types of animals as well as people. However, it’s rare for animals other than dogs and for people to acquire the virus. The disease received its name from genus leptospira, which describes a related, complex group of bacteria. Currently, several different strains of the leptospirosis virus exist. The bacteria are typically located in standing bodies of water such as ponds. They also have a high survival rate and thrive in warm, humid climates. All dog owners should understand the symptoms of this virus and know how to protect their dog from acquiring it.
 
The Symptoms of Leptospirosis and How Dogs Transmit It
Drinking contaminated water is the most common way that dogs pick up leptospirosis. Your dog could also acquire the virus through contact with the urine of a dog who already has it. This typically happens among dogs who share bedding or who root in the same soil. Additionally, a dog who already has the virus could bite your dog or he could ingest tissues from a previously infected animal.
 
Once the virus enters your dog’s body, it can quickly spread to several different tissues. Although her immune system can fight much of it off, parts of the virus may travel to your dog’s kidneys. When this happens, your dog will shed the leptospirosis virus when she urinates for the next several months. Antibiotics can help to eliminate the virus from her body entirely, including the kidneys.
 
Depending on the strain of virus your dog picks up, symptoms can be mild, severe, or somewhere in between. It depends on many individual factors, including the age of your dog and whether he has previously received immunization. The most common symptoms associated with leptospirosis include:
  • Frequent Urination
  • Vomiting
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
Treating and Preventing Leptospirosis
If you suspect that your dog has this virus, we encourage you to contact Battletown Animal Hospital for an immediate appointment. Your dog’s veterinarian will ask you to describe her symptoms as well as take a blood and urine sample. One thing especially challenging about making a positive diagnosis of leptospirosis is that its symptoms are like many other diseases. After determining this is indeed what your dog has, we will start her on antibiotics made specifically to treat it.
 
Your dog will require more aggressive treatment, such as anti-vomiting medication and intravenous fluids, if we confirm kidney or liver involvement. Unfortunately, treatment tends to be less successful at this advanced stage.
 
A simple vaccination against leptospirosis can give you valuable peace of mind. Please speak to your dog’s veterinarian about his risk factors to determine if this is the right choice for your family. Other things you can do are prevent your dog from digging in soil, drinking stagnant water, and sharing bedding with other dogs. 

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While your kids are busy counting down the days to Halloween, this holiday can be a stressful one for your pets. Your dog or cat might start exhibiting signs of stress and anxiety well before the calendar turns to October 31. Cats and dogs naturally feel curious about the decorations that suddenly appear at this time of year. If you choose to decorate for Halloween, we recommend keeping everything out of your pet’s reach and avoid lighting candles with an open flame. This is a good compromise between keeping your pet safe and enjoying the festive nature of the season.
 
Candy and Pets Don’t Mix
You and your kids should not share any Halloween candy with your pet, no matter how much she begs or looks up at you with sad eyes. That is because even a small nibble of candy could cause immediate and unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Any candy containing chocolate or artificial sweetener is especially harmful.

Keep Your Pet Away from the Front Door
The constant sound of the doorbell ringing and shrieks of excited young children can cause even the most docile pet to feel agitated. The stress may build to the point that your dog or cat tries to run out the door or even tries to bite the visitors standing on your steps. It’s best to avoid this scenario altogether by setting up a quiet room for him before trick-or-treating gets underway. He will feel more comfortable in a secluded room with his own food, toys, and pillow that out amongst the commotion. 
We also recommend isolating your pet if you decide to have a Halloween party. However, be sure to peek in occasionally so she knows that she hasn’t been abandoned. Keeping your pet in another part of the house on Halloween also protects her from those who might try to steal her or play a cruel prank. Black cats are especially at risk of falling prey to this type of behavior.
 
Costume or No Costume?
The adorable Halloween costumes made just for pets are hard to resist. As long as you pay attention to safety and your pet’s comfort, putting him in a costume will be fun and memorable. Before selecting a costume, be certain that it won’t cover your dog or cat’s mouth, nose, or eyes and that it fits well. You should plan to supervise your pet while he’s wearing the costume to make sure that he doesn’t try to chew off any piece of it.
You may contact us during regular business hours on Halloween if you do experience an emergency with your pet. After hours, please contact The Life Centre at 703-777-5755 in Loudoun County or Valley Veterinary Emergency at 540-662-7811 in Shenandoah Valley.

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Many people believe that the feline leukemia virus, also known as FeLV, only causes the type of blood cancer called leukemia. While it can lead to leukemia and other types of cancers, FeLV can also cause low body weight, problems with reproduction, eye diseases, blood platelet disorders, immune deficiency, gastrointestinal problems, and several other serious health concerns. Kittens and unvaccinated adult cats acquire the virus through contact with another cat who already has it. It’s not possible for humans, dogs, or other animals to become infected with FeLV.

How to Recognize FeLV
Kittens, who are most at risk of acquiring this virus, can pick it up from an infected mother while still developing in the womb or by nursing from her. When adult cats develop FeLV, it’s typically from sharing bedding, litter boxes, or food dishes with an infected cat. Additionally, an adult cat could engage in mutual grooming with an infected cat, receive a bite from one, or have contact with infected waste products. Besides being born to an infected mother, the greatest risk of cats developing FeLV comes from spending a lot of time outdoors unsupervised or living with several other cats.
 
The initial symptoms of FeLV are often vague, making it difficult to diagnose at first. Your cat could display unexplained lethargy, appetite loss, weight loss, and fever that could make you suspect several other health problems before FeLV. We encourage you to contact Battletown Animal Hospital right away if your cat displays any of these symptoms. She might not have FeLV, but it’s important to determine what she does have.
 
Approximately one-third of cats exposed to the virus have a strong enough immunity not to develop any symptoms. Another third develop a latent infection, which means that they eventually develop some of the symptoms. The remaining percentage of infected cats develop a persistent infection. They typically become seriously ill within a few years.
 
Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment of FeLV
If your cat is at high risk of FeLV or you’re concerned he could have been exposed to it, speak to us about a preventive vaccine. We also encourage you to get a FeLV test when your cat becomes ill or before bringing another cat home. If you have multiple cats, all should receive an FeLV blood test if one cat has received a positive diagnosis.
 
Once your cat does receive a positive diagnosis, she should not go outdoors. It would be too easy for her to spread the virus to other cats and she could pick up additional illnesses as well. Make sure that any veterinarian you see knows your cat is FeLV-positive so she can receive the proper treatment. Lastly, we recommend keeping up with all preventive care exams and providing a safe, enriching, and stress-free indoor environment for your cat. 
 
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Fall is in the air in Virginia. School is back in session, some trees are already turning colors, and there’s even a nip in the air some days. This can be an especially enjoyable season, but it also presents new safety hazards for pets. By taking a few precautions, you and your pet can enjoy the fun of fall together.
 
Tips for Outdoor Safety
You might not think these tips apply to you if you have an indoor pet, but some dogs and cats are determined to get outside no matter what you do. Potential outdoor dangers include:
  • Rodent traps: With the weather getting cooler, it’s common for mice and other rodents to attempt to get inside a home for shelter. Homeowners typically place rodenticide along the exterior of their homes to keep the critters out. However, the poison used to kill rodents can also have a toxic or fatal effect on your dog or cat. We recommend looking for a pet-safe rodenticide and supervising your pet closely while outdoors.
  • This is also the time of year that Virginia residents drain the air conditioning coolant from their cars. If the coolant drips on the ground, your pet may mistake it for drinking water. This substance is highly toxic and can make your dog or cat extremely ill. If you’re unable to keep your pet indoors when removing the coolant from your car, switch to one made from propylene glycol.
  • A small percentage of mushrooms are fatal or toxic to companion animals. Since you don’t always know which ones are safe and which ones are toxic, don’t allow your pet to chew on any mushrooms growing outside. 
Fall Safety Tips for Inside the Home
Your pet may feel stressed or lonely after the kids go back to school. He is also likely to investigate the contents of your child’s backpack that potentially contains toxic items like markers and glue sticks. To avoid an emergency, make sure your child keeps the backpack in another room and closes the door. 
 
Although we still have plenty of time to plan for Halloween, it’s never too early to make sure it’s a safe one. If you’re thinking about getting a costume for your pet this year, be sure that it fits well and doesn’t cover her mouth or eyes. It’s also important to keep your pet inside in another room on Halloween night. The stress of so many people coming to the door can cause her to misbehave or try to escape.
 
Many families have a big cleaning session in the spring and again in the fall. Just make sure that you keep cleaning supplies away from your pet while using them and keep them in a secured area when not in use. 
 
Should you experience an emergency with your pet this fall, please contact us right away at 540-955-2171. If it’s after hours, please click this link for information about emergency care in the area.
 
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