Veteran’s Day is just around the corner on Sunday, November 11. This holiday honors living services members of all armed forces of the United States. While that obviously includes men and women, did you know that it includes animals as well? The military itself owes a debt of gratitude to these brave four-legged official and unofficial members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Cats in the Military

Cats have many wonderful qualities, but they are typically not known as service animals. However, it was common during World War I and World War II to have cats aboard on war ships to protect food supplies from mice and other critters. Here are just two cats who served members of the military at their time of need:

  •  Crimean Tom: Way back in 1854, this brave cat led French and British troops in Russia to hidden food supplies underneath the city’s rubble. The troops would have starved otherwise.
  • Hammer: A much more recent military cat story features Hammer, a cat who hung out with Army troops in Iraq in 2004. He chased away and killed mice that would have eaten the troops’ rations of food. They were so grateful that Staff Sargent Rick Bousfield brought Hammer home with him to Colorado when his time in the military ended.

Dogs in the Military

Dogs have a much more recognized role in military service and most have received formal training to assist their human colleagues. They perform such duties as detecting explosives, helping to track and capture aggressors, drug and weapon detection, and much more. They also provide important companionship to troops thousands of miles away from home.

It’s a myth that all military dogs are German Shepherds. Instead of breed, handlers look for specific characteristics and a strong sense of physical fitness among the dogs chosen for training. For example, the dog can’t have a physical defect such as hip dysplasia and he or she must be loyal and highly motivated by reward. Here are some military dogs who have done especially great things:

  • Stubby: Officially known as Sergeant Stubby of the 102nd Infantry, this military hero was smuggled into battle by a private named Robert Conway. It’s a good thing Conway did this since Stubby detected enemy gas and warned his comrades about it by barking.
  • Tommy: This dog proudly served in the Coast Guard for nine years as a Chief Explosives Detection Officer. Tommy retired in July 2017 and received applause and awards for his exceptional work.

Caring for the Pets of Veterans and Families

Battletown Animal Clinic is honored to provide veterinary care for active and retired members of the military and their families. Of course, we love all pets and want to help take care of them. Please contact us if your pet is in need of a preventive care exam or if you have more immediate concerns.

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It will soon be time to sit down for a Thanksgiving feast with your loved ones. While you’re enjoying good food and good company, don’t forget to keep an eye on your dog or cat. With so many extra people in the house and a disruption of the daily routine, your pet could easily get lost or get into things that could harm him. To prevent this, it’s best to assign one person to "pet duty" before company arrives or prior to arriving at your host’s home. This person should ensure that the front door remains closed except when new guests arrive. As they do, it’s especially important to supervise the pet closely.

Assess Your Pet’s Ability to Interact with New People

Thanksgiving Day brings several generations together, from the very young to the very old. If your dog or cat isn’t accustomed to small children trying to pet her or pick her up, it could be a disaster waiting to happen. You also don’t want an overly excited 100-pound dog knocking down an elderly relative. If you have any concerns at all, it’s best to place your pet in a kennel or a room with a closed door until everyone has gone home.

A Word About Thanksgiving Treats

It’s never a good idea to feed a pet human food right from the dinner table as this teaches him poor manners and could lead to obesity or even gastrointestinal upset. If you want to share a treat with your dog or cat, make sure it isn’t toxic first. A small amount of boneless turkey without any added seasonings should be fine if it’s not undercooked. However, you should avoid these foods altogether:

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Sage
  • Bread dough
  • Cake batter

All of these foods can cause severe abdominal distress for your pet, which may quickly escalate into an emergency. It’s also important to make sure that no one drops any type of food wrapper on the floor, such as aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Your pet could be so enticed by the smell that she ends up eating the wrapper instead. Likewise, make sure the garbage can is in a secure place where your pet can’t reach it.

Post Emergency Phone Numbers in Advance

Despite your best planning, your pet may still get into something harmful amidst the noise and confusion of a major holiday.

You may reach Battletown Animal Hospital at 540-955-2171 during regular business hours. After hours, please call The Life Centre at 703-777-5755 or Valley Veterinary Emergency at 540-662-7811. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

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The month of October is a special one for dogs because it’s both Adopt a Dog Month and Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. The American Humane Society has sponsored both events since 1981 to help the three to four million dogs living in shelters find a permanent and loving home. If you have been considering adding a new four-legged member to your family, Battletown Animal Clinic encourages you to visit your local humane society to meet some of the dogs up for adoption. You will save a life and your new pet will return the love tenfold.

Adopt from Shelters, Not Puppy Mills

According to the American Humane Society, up to 99 percent of puppies sold online or at a pet store come from a puppy mill. Unfortunately, people who run puppy mills often use unethical breeding practices and treat the dogs in their care very poorly. They also tend to use deceptive tactics to attract potential owners.

Finding your next dog at an animal shelter rather than through these means is one way to voice your opposition for puppy mills. You also have the assurance of knowing that your new dog has passed an extensive screening by staff and received necessary vaccines and veterinary care. Dogs that come to the shelter who have not yet been sterilized will be spayed or neutered as well.

Here Are Some Other Advantages to Adopting a Shelter Dog

It’s important to consider your lifestyle before you bring a new dog home to ensure that she will be a good fit with your family. Dogs require daily walks, frequent grooming, and playtime in addition to all the basic care tasks. Do you and other family members have the time and desire to take this on? It’s also important to research dog breeds so you understand its typical size, personality, and health concerns. If you have done all that and you’re ready to adopt, consider these reasons why doing so from an animal shelter is a great choice:

  • If you adopt an adult dog, he’s probably already fully trained. There’s a good chance the dog already lived with a family and has completed house-training.
  • When you consider the added cost of sterilization and vaccines, adopting a shelter dog typically costs less money than other ways of adopting a dog.
  • You have nearly unlimited choices for the breed and age of dog that you would like to adopt.
  • Some shelters offer foster to adopt programs. This gives you the chance to make sure the dog is a good fit for your family and lifestyle before making the commitment to adopt.
  • Many shelter and rescue organizations offer ongoing support once you get your dog home. That means you have someone to call for the questions that will inevitably come up as your dog settles into her new home.

After your new dog has had time to adjust, feel free to schedule an appointment for a preventive care exam at Battletown Animal Clinic. We look forward to meeting your new family member!

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When you look at things from your pet’s perspective, Halloween can be a scary holiday indeed. It starts when you hang decorations and bring candy into the house that he’s not allowed to touch. Then your kids buy or make Halloween costumes and he doesn’t understand that his favorite little person is still there underneath the mask. Next comes Halloween night itself with a constant parade of people dressed in costumes ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door. They’re strangers to your pet and scary ones at that.

While the holiday is one of the more stressful ones for pets, you can take several steps to help your pet get through it. Below are several that we recommend at Battletown Animal Clinic.

Keep Human Treats Out of Reach

This holiday is all about the candy. While there is nothing wrong with indulging in the occasional treat, it is important not to share any candy with your pet and teach your children not to either. Candy in all forms can be toxic for pets, but artificial sweetener and chocolate are especially problematic. Your pet may experience vomiting, diarrhea, a racing heart, or even sudden death. Be sure to dispose of the wrappers in a container that your pet cannot access. They can easily get caught in your pet’s throat and cause an obstruction.

Keep Pets Indoors

Even if your pet is normally outside during the early evening hours, she will be safer indoors on Halloween. That way you don’t have to worry about her getting lost, stolen, or being the victim of a practical joke. Keep in mind that the non-stop door knocking or ringing of the doorbell is likely to cause your pet considerable stress. To avoid behavior problems, prepare a pet-friendly room in your home for her before the evening activities get underway. Be sure to provide her with food, water, toys, and her favorite bedding or comfort items.

A Word About Costumes

Some pets want nothing to do with wearing a costume. If your pet is willing to tolerate it, make sure that you choose a safe outfit for him. It should not cover his eyes, nose, or mouth or restrict his movement in any way. Be sure you supervise him the entire time he is wearing it to prevent a choking hazard or other mishap.

Plan for the Best and Prepare for the Worst

Pets are naturally quick and curious, which means your animal friend could still get into trouble despite your best prevention efforts. If you experience a pet-related emergency during regular office hours this Halloween season, please contact Battletown Animal Clinic right away at 540-955-1151. After hours, you may contact The Life Centre in Loudoun County at 703-777-5755 or Valley Veterinary Emergency in Shenandoah Valley at 540-662-7811.

Our staff hopes that both you and your pet have a safe and happy Halloween season.

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The fall is undoubtedly one of the prettiest seasons, which makes it a fabulous time to explore the great outdoors with your pet. If you are going to do this, however, it’s imperative that you make yourself aware of any potential hazards.

Being aware of the danger in advance is the only way you can keep your dogs, cats, and other furry friends truly safe throughout the autumn months. Here are six issues to look out for as part of your autumn pet safety plans.

The Cold

Temperatures might not be as low as they’ll inevitably become during the winter, but they can still cause major harm to your pet. Avoid being outside for too long, particularly if the animal is a puppy or elderly, as these ages may lend themselves to being more sensitive to temperatures. Allow their natural coats to grow and consider buying a jacket for the pet, too. Just like you, they need to stay warm throughout this season.

Ticks & Pests

Ticks and other critters are still abundant at this time of the year, which is why you need to take special care to protect your pet. So, while playing in the leaves and long grass may be great fun for your pet, it’s your responsibility to use preventives to keep these critters at bay. Prevention is always easier than attending to an existing problem. Fortunately, we make it easy to purchase these items in our online store.

Antifreeze

A number of products need to be kept away from pets, but antifreeze is the one you need to be especially careful of in the autumn. Cats and dogs are known to lick the potentially lethal liquid, which is why you need to be watchful for spillages either from your car or another driver’s. Likewise, all bottles will need to be kept safely out of reach. Call us immediately if your pet ingests even the most minute amount of antifreeze.

Decorations

From Halloween to Christmas and other religious celebrations, it’s likely that decorations will make an appearance at home and throughout the town. Pets can easily mistake these for new toys. Prevent these items from becoming choking hazards or toxic consumables. When broken, the sharp objects will also pose a threat of causing cuts.

Mushrooms

There are many different types of mushrooms, and the majority don't present a significant danger to your pet.  However, there are several variants that could cause irritation to the stomach or put your pet in a hallucinogenic state. When dealing with wild mushrooms, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Snakebites

Snakes are preparing to hibernate, and this makes them more likely to strike than ever. If your pet is exploring bushes and other wildlife, it is possible that they will get attacked by hidden snakes. While this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying walks with your pup, it’s worth noting which areas are most likely to have snakes. Try to avoid them. In Virginia, we have three species of poisonous snakes, including the cottonmouth, the copperhead (or water moccasin), and the Timber rattler. Call us immediately if your pet has experienced a snake bite.

The autumn is a wonderful time of the year, but your pet may ingest the wrong things in a host of different scenarios. If you suspect any of these issues for your pet, give our clinic a call: (540) 955-2171.

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