You may look forward to this season for months, but it can be baffling to your pet. Decorations seem to appear out of nowhere, you’re shopping and busier than ever, and the smells of holiday meals and treats seem to assault his nose at every turn. That means your naturally curious pet will try to investigate and get into situations that could cause him to become sick or injured. By taking a few minutes to review these safety precautions, you can relax and enjoy the season and not worry about your pet.

The Christmas Tree
If you choose a real Christmas tree, don’t feel surprised if your dog or cat tries to lap up the water. The water itself isn’t harmful, but the insecticides from the tree could end up in it and make your pet ill. You may also catch your pet trying to tear open someone’s gift of food. Since a pet’s sense of smell is 10 times stronger than our own, you may want to wait until Christmas to place a food-related gift under the tree.

Cats and dogs are attracted to bright, shiny lights and may not be able to resist those hanging on the tree. Your pet could also try to bat at or eat an ornament, the latter of which can be quite dangerous. The best way to prevent a possible choking situation is to place all dangling type of ornaments out of your pet’s reach at the top of the tree and tape down all wires. Tinsel is especially dangerous for pets because it can become lodged in their digestive tract. If you don’t think your dog or cat will be able to leave it alone, it’s best to skip the tinsel.
Hanukkah Candles
Menorah candles are a huge curiosity for pets. Unfortunately, it only takes an enthusiastic tail wag or sniff at a live flame for your pet to sustain a serious injury or start a fire. If you’re concerned about this possibility, consider using Menorah candles powered by batteries instead.
Holiday Food You Should Never Give Your Pet
Even a normally well-trained dog or cat can only take smelling so many amazing foods before she starts begging. While you might feel tempted to share, don’t give in to whines or sad eyes unless you’re certain the treat is safe and you only share a small amount.
Chocolate, yeast, grapes, avocados, seasoned meat, and meat with small bones can be especially hazardous for pets. Your eagle-eyed dog or cat will likely wait patiently for a guest to accidentally drop food or even a wrapper during the holiday meal. He may even get so excited that he eats things like food wrappers. To avoid this, keep your pet in another area of the home until everyone has finished their meal and you have had a chance to clean up. Above all, remain patient with your pet and try to give him as much attention as possible this holiday season.
Battletown Animal Hospital will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If you have a pet-related emergency, please call Life Centre in Loundon at 703-777-5755 or Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Center in Shenandoah Valley at 540-662-7811.

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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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