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.


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.


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.


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.


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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This month is Animal Pain Awareness Month. Its purpose is to increase awareness of the pain that animals feel, just like the pain that humans feel. If you have pets, recognizing when they might be in pain is vital for their health. Animals are very good at hiding pain. While we humans often moan and groan, animals often hide their pain because it's better for their survival. They don't know that they're most likely pretty safe from predators! However, even though animals can try to hide their pain, there are still some signs of pain in your pet that you can pick up on.

Moving Differently

If your pet has started to move differently, it could be a sign that they're experiencing some pain. They might be walking strangely or holding up a paw, but you could also notice some slightly less obvious signs. Is your usually active dog or cat now reluctant to go up and down stairs? This could indicate that they are feeling some pain. Perhaps they are reluctant to jump up on surfaces that they were confident handling before. This especially applies to cats, but maybe your dog has suddenly stopped jumping onto the sofa. Another thing to look out for is difficulty standing after lying down.

Decreased Activity

Your pet might also move less than they used to. If their activity levels appear to have dropped or your dog is reluctant to go for a walk when they're usually enthusiastic, they could be in pain. Watch out for signs that your pet doesn't want to play as much as they used to or seems to have less energy than they previously had. It could be a sign that your pet's health isn't at its best.

Changes in Eating Habits

A loss of appetite could be a sign that your pet is in pain too. If your pet isn't eating or is perhaps eating less or eating slower than usual, it might indicate that they have mouth pain. They could have a dental issue or another oral problem, or pain in their jaw. It's possible they could also be experiencing stomach or intestinal pain. So watch out for any changes in your pet's eating habits.

Overgrooming and Licking

When your pet is in pain, they might start to lick at or groom the spot where they feel the pain. There could be a wound that you can see, but there are also many types of hidden pain. Animals might find it soothing to groom the area where they have pain, but they might not always be licking the place where the problem is. It can be a sign of referred pain, which is when a problem in one part of the body causes pain elsewhere.

If you see signs of pain in your pet, call Battletown Animal Clinic at  (540) 955-2171. If you're ever in doubt, getting an opinion from our veterinary experts is the best thing to do.

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Perhaps you have thought about spaying or neutering your pet but hesitate due to the inaccurate information you have heard. Before we tackle the top myths surrounding these surgeries, we want to assure you that spaying or neutering your pet is the responsible thing to do. Not only does in reduce the number of unwanted puppies and kittens born every year, it can improve your pet’s behavior and health as well. Altered pets are less likely to roam and don’t engage in aggressive mating behavior. Additionally, it can lower the risk of cancer of the reproductive organs for both genders.

The Top Myths About Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Has someone told you that your female dog or cat should go through at least one pregnancy or heat cycle for better health? If so, the opposite is true. Spaying before the first heat cycle reduces your pet’s chances of developing uterine or mammary cancer. It’s also important to realize that a four-month-old kitten and a six-month-old puppy can get pregnant. This could result in dozens of litters over her lifetime, with each taking more of a toll on her health than the last.

Here are some other reasons people give for not spaying or neutering along with the real facts:

Myth #1: Spaying or neutering causes animals to become overweight

The surgery has no bearing on weight. Animals become overweight for the same reasons as people, which is usually due to eating too much and moving too little.

Myth #2: It’s wrong to put such a young pet through surgery

You could have your dog or cat sterilized as early as four months of age without issue. In fact, younger pets recover from the procedure faster than older pets do.

Myth #3: Altering my dog will make him less effective as a hunting and retrieving dog or a watch dog

Fertility or lack thereof has no bearing on whether you can train your dog for these tasks.

Myth #4: Purebred puppies and kittens don’t end up in animal shelters:

According to the American Humane Society, purebreds account for 25 percent of all animals in shelters and 50 percent of those euthanized.

These are just some of the many myths that persist about spaying or neutering a pet. Don’t hesitate to ask anyone on staff at Battletown Animal Hospital for clarification if you hear or read something and you’re just not sure if it’s true.

We Keep Your Pet Comfortable

We provide your pet with anesthesia at the start of sterilization surgery so he or she goes into a deep sleep. Our staff also monitors breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs to ensure that your pet is in no distress. It’s only when your dog or cat is awake, alert, and pain-free that we release him or her to go home with you. Although the surgery is fast, its benefits last a lifetime. If your dog or cat is over four months old and not yet altered, please contact us to schedule spay or neuter surgery.

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Did you know that more than half of all calls placed to pet poison hotlines are due to a dog, cat, or other household pet accidentally ingesting medication meant for a human family member? The number of calls even exceeds those at Thanksgiving and other holidays.

One of the most important things to understand about medication as a pet owner is that you should never give your pet human medication even if it’s meant to treat the same condition. It’s always a good idea to speak to one of the veterinarians at Battletown Animal Clinic before giving your pet any type of prescription or non-prescription medication intended for her species. Our veterinarian will monitor your pet for side effects while taking the medication and ensure that it treats the condition as expected.

Common Human Medications Ingested by Animals

The Pet Poison Helpline reports that it receives the most calls about companion animals getting into these types of pills:

  • Tylenol: Dogs who swallow large doses of this medication, also known as acetaminophen, may experience damage to red blood cells and liver failure. It’s even more dangerous for cats due to their smaller body size. Cats with damaged red blood cells have difficulty moving oxygen throughout their bodies.
  • Depression medication: Regardless of the brand name, medication used to treat clinical depression in humans can cause a host of serious neurological issues in animals. Some of these include balance problems, seizures, and tremors. Anti-depressants that include a stimulant can raise a pet’s heart rate to a dangerous level.
  • NSAID: Pain relievers classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including naproxen and ibuprofen, can cause ulcers, kidney failure, and other serious health issues related to the stomach.

Of course, pills aren’t the only type of medication dangerous to pets. They could also get into creams, needles, bandages, liquid medication, and many other types.

Tips to Avoid an Accidental Overdose with Your Pet

We recommend keeping your medications in their original containers in a location that’s far out of your pet’s reach. If you choose to keep medications in a purse, be sure to zip your purse and store it away from your pet. With a sense of smell that’s 10 times that of humans, your pet might be so curious about what’s inside of your purse that they bite and claw it open. This goes for other items in your purse as well, such as gum and make-up.

If the human and animal members of your family are taking medication at the same time, be sure to keep them separate. Taking the wrong type could make a person or animal extremely ill. If you use a plastic organizer for your pills, keep it out of your pet’s reach. Your dog might see it as a new chew toy and your cat will try to bat it, which could cause the contents of the case to spill.

Although it takes a few extra minutes to safeguard your medications, keeping your pet safe is well worth the extra effort. Please contact Battletown Animal Hospital if you need additional advice.

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