Why Do Cats Go Crazy for Catnip?

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a common herb that belongs to the mint plant family, and cats go crazy for it…or rather, from it.

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Why Do Cats Go Crazy for Catnip?

If you’ve ever gone to a friend’s house and seen their cats rolling and lounging around in bliss, you may have thought, “I’ll have what they’re having!” These lucky cats are actually experiencing a reaction to catnip.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a common herb that belongs to the mint plant family, and cats go crazy for it…or rather, from it.

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Why Do Cats Go Crazy for Catnip?

All cats have a special gland located on the roofs of their mouths called the vomeronasal gland. This gland allows cats to smell from inside their mouths, and when this gland picks up a scent, it transports it directly to the cat’s nervous system.

Catnip contains an oil compound called nepetalactone that causes a reaction in cats’ brains. When a cat sniffs or ingests catnip, the vomeronasal gland picks up the nepetalactone compound and transports it to the cat’s brain where it triggers a release of endorphins into the bloodstream. These hormones are responsible for the zany behavior that cats exhibit when they’re around catnip: licking, sniffing, increased appetite, scratching and rolling.

Some cats become increasingly energetic, playful, and even aggressive, while other cats become increasingly lovable, snuggly, and relaxed.

Although most cats react to catnip, the reaction is actually an inherited trait and (sadly for them) not all cats are born with a sensitivity to catnip that will produce a behavioral response to the herb. Additionally, kittens don’t usually develop any reaction to catnip until they reach about six months of age.

Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

Catnip is safe for cats to eat. In fact, it can help promote a healthy digestive system. That being said, ingesting too much catnip can cause a cat to experience gastrointestinal upset.

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From Catnip to Cat Naps – Learn All About Caring for Your Cat

At Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital, we offer comprehensive veterinary care for both dogs and cats. Whether you’ve just adopted a new kitten, are new to the area, or are looking to establish care with a different veterinarian, we welcome you to contact Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital. With nutrition and lifestyle counseling in addition to our wellness and preventative care services, our veterinarians can help you provide your pet a healthy and happy life.

How to Address Your Pet’s Seasonal Allergy Flare-Ups

Although their symptoms usually look a little different from ours, pets can suffer from seasonal allergies, too!

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How to Address Your Pet's Seasonal Allergy Flare-Ups

Seasonal allergies can make some human immune systems go haywire, resulting in the miserable sneezing, coughing, congestion, and itchy, burning eyes that we call seasonal allergies. Although their symptoms usually look a little different from ours, pets can suffer from seasonal allergies, too!

Symptoms of Allergies in Pets

Your pet might be suffering from seasonal allergies, if they exhibit any of the following signs or symptoms as the pollen counts increase this spring and summer:

  • Excessive itching and scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Biting or licking at their skin
  • Skin redness
  • Foul-smelling ears or skin
  • Hair loss or bald spots
  • Red or swollen paws
  • Runny or red eyes
  • Sneezing

It’s more common for allergies to express themselves in dermatological problems than in respiratory issues, but these symptoms can all indicate seasonal allergies.

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Strategies for Managing Your Pet's Seasonal Allergies

Change Your Walking Schedule

Pollen counts are highest in the mornings and late afternoons. It’s best to avoid these times and grassy places with lots of pollen-laden plants. Consider visiting an indoor dog park during allergy season or be sure to wipe your dog down thoroughly after running around outdoors, especially focusing on their feet.

Keep the Indoor Environment Clean

Install an air purifier and change the filters in your HVAC system regularly to keep allergens out of your indoor air. It’s also important to wash your pet’s bedding and toys in hot water frequently to eliminate allergens from accumulating on them.

Go for a Medicated Bath

A medicated bath will soothe itchy skin. Look for unscented, hypoallergenic, anti-itch shampoos with aloe, oatmeal, or moisturizing ingredients.

Provide Dietary Supplements

Talk with our veterinarian about giving your dog a dietary supplement like omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids to help relieve itchy skin.

Allergy Treatments With a Veterinarian

There are plenty of allergy treatments our veterinarian can provide to your pet as well. This includes over-the-counter antihistamines (in doses appropriate for pets), prescription itch-suppressants, and even immunotherapy/allergy shots. A veterinarian can help you determine the best treatments for your pet’s allergy concerns.

Schedule an Allergy Appointment for Your Pet at Sleepy Hollow

If you notice signs of allergies in your cat or dog, we encourage you to schedule an allergy appointment for your pet with our veterinarians at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital. We’ll perform a thorough physical examination and work with you to determine the best course of treatment to help your pet get relief from their allergy symptoms.

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Protecting Your Pet During Heartworm Awareness Month

April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and our veterinarians at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital want to use the opportunity to educate pet parents about the dangers of heartworm disease while helping you better understand how you can protect your pets

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Protecting Your Pet During Heartworm Awareness Month

April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and our veterinarians at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital want to use the opportunity to educate pet parents about the dangers of heartworm disease while helping you better understand how you can protect your pets.

Mosquitos are more than just pesky insects, they can also carry diseases and parasites, like heartworms, that can make your pets ill with a single bite.

What Are Heartworms?

Heartworms are a type of parasite that can affect both dogs and cats, but dogs more commonly and severely.
Infected mosquitos carry heartworm larvae and transfer the parasites to other animals through their bites. When a dog or cat is bitten by a mosquito, heartworm larvae enter the animal’s bloodstream where they travel through the body, finally settling in the heart and lungs.
In dogs, heartworms will mature into adult worms which can reach up to one foot in length and start to reproduce in the pet’s blood vessels. Cats are considered atypical heartworm hosts, and as a result, heartworms usually do not reach maturity in a feline host.

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What's the Danger of Heartworms?

Pets infected with heartworms experience respiratory problems and issues with their circulatory systems because heartworms take up residence in a pet’s heart and lungs. Heartworm disease refers to these symptoms and effects caused by heartworm parasites. Left unaddressed, heartworm disease not only significantly damages a pet’s health, but it can also be fatal.
Heartworm disease is considered a serious problem for pets because, once a pet is infected, treatment is difficult. There is no approved treatment for cats, and the treatment for dogs is lengthy and can cause significant side effects.

How to Protect Your Pets From Heartworm Disease

Prevention is the most important step in protecting your pets from heartworm disease. Preventatives are available in the form of oral tablets given monthly. Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital recommends dogs be given heartworm prevention year-round because it only takes one warm spell for mosquitos to become active. When given monthly and continuously, the preventatives will kill the larvae before they are able to mature into problematic adult worms.
Administering a heartworm preventative to a pet that has already been infected, however, can be dangerous. So, it’s essential that our veterinarian screen your pet for heartworms before administering a preventative.
You can also take steps to minimize the mosquito population in your pet’s immediate environment by keeping your yard cleaned up, free from debris, and eliminating any standing water (flower pot trays, birdbaths, pools, and puddles).

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Schedule a Heartworm Prevention Appointment

Don’t wait; protect your pet today. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital.

Protecting Your Pet – Common Medications that are Toxic

Keeping your pet safe and far away from toxic substances is an incredibly important task for any pet owner. While there are many household items that are known to be harmful, medications are ones that can heal humans but hurt their furry companions.

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Protecting Your Pet - Common Medications that are Toxic

March is Pet Poison Prevention Month, and while there are many things around our homes (foods, cleaners, pesticides, and plants) that are toxic to cats and dogs, this article is going to focus on some of the most common human medications that are toxic to pets.

5+ Human Medications That Are Highly Toxic to Pets

Pets can become poisoned if they accidentally ingest over-the-counter medications or prescription medications that are intended for humans. These are some of the most common, accidentally ingested human medications that are toxic to pets.

1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
OTC medications that contain ibuprofen and/or naproxen such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve are dangerous for pets. Prescription versions like Mobic, Celebrex and Feldene as well as some topical ointments like Diclofenac are also highly toxic. Even just a small amount can cause serious harm like serious ulcers and kidney failure.

2. Acetaminophen
Very small amounts of acetaminophen, the drug found in Tylenol can damage a cat’s red blood cells, leading to severe anemia. In dogs, it can cause liver failure in addition to damaging red blood cells. Acetaminophen ingestion is often fatal in pets

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3. Antidepressants
Select serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants are prescribed for humans and are sometimes prescribed for pets, but overdoses of these medications can cause severe neurological damage resulting in seizures, collapse, and death. Other antidepressants have a stimulating effect that can lead to high blood pressure and increased heart rate. Just one pill can lead to an overdose.

4. Sleep Aids and Benzodiazepines
These medications are also sometimes prescribed for pets, but inappropriate use or overdosage can have strange effects on pets, leading to agitation, severe lethargy, slowed breathing, and even liver failure.

5. ADD/ADHD Medications
Be very cautious with these types of medications. Even minimal ingestion of medications like Adderall and Ritalin can be fatal for pets.
In addition, birth control, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, thyroid hormones, cholesterol meds, and certain dietary supplements are toxic to pets.

What to Do If Your Pet Is Poisoned

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic substance, seek emergency veterinary care right away. You can also contact the ASPCA’s [Animal Poison Control] for immediate instruction and information.

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Prescription Safety At Home

Always be sure to store medications and other toxic substances safely out of your pet’s reach and make sure that everybody in the household is aware of the dangers to your pet. The best protection is prevention, but if your pet does accidentally ingest a medication not prescribed for them, every member of the household should know to contact our office right away.

Remember that even if you think a medication intended for a human is non-toxic for pets, you should never give your pet a medication that wasn’t prescribed specifically for your cat or dog. For more information about medications and supplements that are safe for cats and dogs, we welcome you to talk with our veterinarians at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital.

Why is Lab Work so Important for Pets?

Lab work is necessary for comprehensive care even when humans are able to consciously describe how they’re feeling. Our pets can’t tell us when they feel unwell or different, and for this reason, regular laboratory work is even more essential to monitoring and maintaining a pet’s ongoing health.

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Why Is Lab Work So Important for Pets?

When you visit the doctor, it’s not uncommon to have a lab test — whether you’re feeling sick or are simply visiting for an annual well-check. Lab work is necessary for comprehensive care even when humans are able to consciously describe how they’re feeling.

Our pets can’t tell us when they feel unwell or different, and for this reason, regular laboratory work is even more essential to monitoring and maintaining a pet’s ongoing health.

How Do Veterinarians Use Lab Tests?

Lab tests, like complete blood cell counts, blood chemistry profiles, urine analysis, stool sample screens and heartworm testing, are incredibly useful for assessing a pet’s overall health and identifying specific markers that indicate disease. We use laboratory tests to establish a baseline of a pet’s health during wellness exams, to diagnose illness, and to safely prescribe medications.

Lab tests help us detect the earliest signs of disease. With routine lab work, we’re often able to diagnose and begin treating a pet’s illness before they even begin to experience symptoms or pain. As a rule of thumb, both chronic and acute illnesses are most successfully treated the sooner they’re diagnosed and addressed.

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Why Does My Pet Need Lab Work?

We recommend running diagnostic tests on pets for a variety of reasons.

A pet’s first lab test usually occurs around the time they will be neutered or spayed. This helps us determine if it is safe to anesthetize a patient, identify any congenital conditions a patient might have and helps us establish a baseline for your pet’s health, which can be highly useful in detecting health changes in the future.

In young pets, lab work will often only be done if they are sick, prior to anesthesia or sedation and before starting certain medications.
Since very different illnesses often cause very similar symptoms in cats and dogs, lab work is incredibly useful for determining the underlying cause of the illness. Depending on your pet’s symptoms, we might recommend diagnostic imaging in addition to lab work.

We recommend running lab tests before administering certain medications and prior to any procedures requiring anesthesia so that we can ensure your pet’s organs are functioning optimally to administer these medications safely.
Once pets reach a certain age, lab work is recommended at least twice a year since age increases the risk of many diseases. The earliest signs of these diseases will often show up in the lab work before the pet experiences any symptoms and catching it early can improve the long term prognosis. The age at which this lab work will be recommended depends on factors such as species, weight and breed.

Complete Care with Veterinary Diagnostics

At Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital, we’re proud to provide our patients the highest standard of veterinary care with both in-house and reference laboratory diagnostics. Our lab and diagnostic imaging services are available for routine wellness care and when a sick pet needs a quick diagnosis.

To learn more about lab tests for pets or to talk with a veterinarian about your pet’s test results, we welcome you to contact us today.

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Celebrate Pet Dental Health Month with a February Pet Dental Appointment

The best way to prevent periodontal disease and safeguard your pet’s health and wellbeing is with regular at-home and professional dental care.

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Celebrate Pet Dental Health Month with a February Pet Dental Appointment

When was the last time you brushed your pet’s teeth?

If you answered, “never,” you’re not alone. Many pet parents simply aren’t aware that their cats and dogs need at-home dental care and regular dental checkups just like people. In fact, pets suffer from some of the same dental ailments and diseases as us. Just like us, they can lose teeth, get cavities, develop abscesses, break or crack their teeth, and develop gum disease without proper care.

Leading up to Pet Dental Health Month in February, our veterinarians at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital like to spread awareness about pet dental health and encourage pet parents to schedule dental exams and cleanings for their pets.

What's the Big Deal About Gum Disease?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, most dogs and cats suffer from some form of dental disease by the time they’re three years old. This means most dogs and cats are facing some pretty serious general health concerns.

Gum disease (periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection of the gums that occurs when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up along the gum line. This buildup creates pockets between the teeth and the gums where bacteria thrive. Gum disease can cause oral pain and discomfort in addition to persistent bad breath, red/swollen/bleeding gums, tooth and jaw bone decay, and tooth loss.

Beyond the mouth, the bacteria associated with gum disease can enter the bloodstream leading to systemic problems and infections. Left unaddressed, bacteria from periodontal disease can damage your pet’s internal organs, ultimately shortening their lifespan.

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How to Prevent Periodontal Disease in Pets

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The best way to prevent periodontal disease and safeguard your pet’s health and wellbeing is with regular at-home and professional dental care.

At home, you can care for your pet’s teeth by brushing regularly with a specially designed pet toothbrush and toothpaste formulated specifically for cats or dogs. You can also provide your pet with dental-friendly treats, chew toys and other preventative products recommended by veterinary dentists.

We also recommend calling for an appointment if your pet is due for their annual wellness or geriatric exam OR if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms at home:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Difficulty chewing or favoring one side of the mouth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Pawing at the mouth

During your appointment, our veterinarian will closely examine your pet’s teeth and gums. We will then discuss any abnormal findings and if your pet could benefit from a professional dental cleaning appointment which includes scaling and polishing the teeth, removing plaque and tartar buildup and taking dental X-rays to screen for problems that could be occurring inside the teeth or below the gum line.

To learn more about caring for your pet’s teeth or to schedule a pet dental appointment at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital, we welcome you to contact our office today.

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5 Essential Tips for Traveling with Pets This Season

Everyone loves including furry family members in holiday travel plans, but it’s important to take a few steps to ensure they’ll be safe on the road and have a happy holiday, too!

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5 Essential Tips for Traveling with Pets This Season

‘Tis the season of holiday travel. For many families, this includes traveling with pets. Everyone loves including furry family members in holiday travel plans, but it’s important to take a few steps to ensure they’ll be safe on the road and have a happy holiday, too!

Pet Travel Checklist

1. Pack for Your Pet
Remember to pack all your pet’s essential items. Your list should include:

  • Food, medications, and supplements (pack more than you’ll need for the intended length of your vacation)
  • Water for the road
  • Collapsible bowls
  • Collar, leash and harness
  • Favorite toys, blankets, or bed for comfort
  • Doggy bags or your kitty’s litter box

2. Bring Documents
If you’re crossing state lines in a car or taking public transportation, your pet will need papers to travel legally. This typically includes vaccination records, your pet’s local registration, and/or a pet health certificate.

If you are traveling internationally, your pet will need an international health certificate specific to that country. These requirements are listed on the USDA Pet Travel Website and you will need an appointment with Dr. Romano to obtain the health certificate for your destination. He is a USDA Accredited Veterinarian and is able to perform these exams for pet travel.

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3. Research Veterinarians
You never know when an emergency will happen. Before you leave, research emergency veterinary hospitals located along your travel route and at your destination. This way, if your pet falls ill, gets injured, or ingests something toxic, you’ll be able to get them help right away – without wasting time locating a nearby veterinarian. Be sure to bring your pet’s medications with you to any veterinary appointment so that the veterinarian can prescribe any new medication safely.

4. Security and Identification
When your pet is in an unfamiliar place with new surroundings and landmarks, it’s much easier for them to become disoriented and lost. Make sure that dog’s leash or harness fits securely. For cats, be sure to use a high-quality carrier that will keep them securely inside and do not open the carrier in an unfamiliar and/or insecure location as the cat can escape.

Make sure your pet’s ID tags are up to date and include a phone number that you’ll be able to answer while you’re away. Also, be sure that your current contact information has been registered with your pet’s microchip number. If your pet has not yet been microchipped, we strongly recommended getting a microchip for your pet before you leave.

5. Schedule Extra Time
When you travel with pets, you’ll definitely need to stop more often. Look up safe, convenient locations for pet-friendly pit stops before you leave. Plus, plan to schedule extra time for travel to allow for plenty of breaks to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and walk your leashed dog or cat around.

Schedule a Pre-Travel Appointment at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital

Depending on where and how you plan to travel, your dog or cat might require vaccination prior to your departure. Schedule a pre-travel appointment with a Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital veterinarian to make sure your pet can travel safely this holiday season.

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Is My Pet Overweight?

With their fluffy, round physiques, chubby pets have taken over the internet with cute pictures and their own social media accounts. “Chonky” pets, however, aren’t as cute as the internet would like you to believe. We love all animals and, of course, we think they’re all cute, but obesity is a serious health problem for cats and dogs.

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Is My Pet Overweight? Signs Your Pet Needs to Lose Weight

With their fluffy, round physiques, chubby pets have taken over the internet with cute pictures and their own social media accounts. “Chonky” pets, however, aren’t as cute as the internet would like you to believe. We love all animals and, of course, we think they’re all cute, but obesity is a serious health problem for cats and dogs.

Is My Pet Fluffy or Chubby?

According to a 2018 survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the United States were either overweight or obese.

To determine if your pet needs to lose weight, there are a lot of signs that you might be able to see if you know what you are looking for. The Animal Hospital Association of America (AAHA) has created a chart that can help you determine the healthy weight of your pet, but these general tips can help you determine if your pet needs to lose weight:

1. Shape from above
When viewed from above or the side, both cats and dogs should have an obvious waist. The chest should be the widest part of the body, which should narrow in front of the hind legs. A sausage or rounded shape is a telltale sign of extra weight.

2. Hidden Ribs
You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs. As you run your fingers along their ribcage, there should be a very faint layer of fat overlying the ribs. If there is a thick layer of fat or you can’t feel the ribs at all, then your pet is carrying around too much weight.

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3. Abdominal Tuck
When viewing your pet from the side, there should be an abdominal tuck present.. If there is a flat or bulging shape to the abdomen, then your pet should shed a few pounds.

4.Tailbase Fat
The bones at the base of the tail are easily felt in a healthy-weight pet. If these bones are hard to feel or unable to be felt, then this indicates excessive fat in this area and hence a need for overall weight loss.

5. Disinterest in Physical Activities
Cats and dogs – even seniors – should show some interest in active play. If yours doesn’t or tires quickly, this could indicate that they’re carrying around extra weight. Lethargy can also be a sign of other health problems. If your pet seems unusually tired or inactive, schedule a checkup.

How Obesity Affects Your Pet's Health

A few extra pounds on pets can do major damage to their health. Overweight pets are more likely to suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, joint disease, liver disease, and other avoidable health problems. They also tend to live much shorter lifespans. Thankfully, your pet’s weight can be easily managed with a balanced diet and regular exercise. If you are interested in finding more information about the importance of a healthy lifestyle for you and your pet, One Health produced a terrific editorial that explores the health correlations between pets and their owners.

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Weight Management and Nutritional Counseling for Overweight Pets in Sleepy Hollow

At Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital, our veterinarians assess weight, body condition score, and fitness during every exam to help our clients keep their pets at a healthy weight. If your pet is overweight or suffering from obesity, we will work with you to develop a nutrition and exercise plan to help your cat or dog shed pounds and get back into shape. If you’re concerned about your pet’s weight or dietary needs, we welcome you to schedule a weight management appointment today.

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Is My Pet Overweight? Signs Your Pet Needs to Lose Weight

With their fluffy, round physiques, chubby pets have taken over the internet with cute pictures and their own social media accounts. “Chonky” pets, however, aren’t as cute as the internet would like you to believe. We love all animals and, of course, we think they’re all cute, but obesity is a serious health problem for cats and dogs.

Is My Pet Fluffy or Chubby?

According to a 2018 survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the United States were either overweight or obese.

To determine if your pet needs to lose weight, there are a lot of signs that you might be able to see if you know what you are looking for. The Animal Hospital Association of America (AAHA) has created a chart that can help you determine the healthy weight of your pet, but these general tips can help you determine if your pet needs to lose weight:

1. Shape from above
When viewed from above or the side, both cats and dogs should have an obvious waist. The chest should be the widest part of the body, which should narrow in front of the hind legs. A sausage or rounded shape is a telltale sign of extra weight.

2. Hidden Ribs
You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs. As you run your fingers along their ribcage, there should be a very faint layer of fat overlying the ribs. If there is a thick layer of fat or you can’t feel the ribs at all, then your pet is carrying around too much weight.

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3. Abdominal Tuck
When viewing your pet from the side, there should be an abdominal tuck present.. If there is a flat or bulging shape to the abdomen, then your pet should shed a few pounds.

4.Tailbase Fat
The bones at the base of the tail are easily felt in a healthy-weight pet. If these bones are hard to feel or unable to be felt, then this indicates excessive fat in this area and hence a need for overall weight loss.

5. Disinterest in Physical Activities
Cats and dogs – even seniors – should show some interest in active play. If yours doesn’t or tires quickly, this could indicate that they’re carrying around extra weight. Lethargy can also be a sign of other health problems. If your pet seems unusually tired or inactive, schedule a checkup.

How Obesity Affects Your Pet's Health

A few extra pounds on pets can do major damage to their health. Overweight pets are more likely to suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, joint disease, liver disease, and other avoidable health problems. They also tend to live much shorter lifespans. Thankfully, your pet’s weight can be easily managed with a balanced diet and regular exercise. If you are interested in finding more information about the importance of a healthy lifestyle for you and your pet, One Health produced a terrific editorial that explores the health correlations between pets and their owners.

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Weight Management and Nutritional Counseling for Overweight Pets in Sleepy Hollow

At Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital, our veterinarians assess weight, body condition score, and fitness during every exam to help our clients keep their pets at a healthy weight. If your pet is overweight or suffering from obesity, we will work with you to develop a nutrition and exercise plan to help your cat or dog shed pounds and get back into shape. If you’re concerned about your pet’s weight or dietary needs, we welcome you to schedule a weight management appointment today.

The Houseplants That Could Poison Your Cat

It’s extremely important to select plants that are safe for your pets. In this article, we’ll focus on which plants are toxic and which are safe for cats.

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The Houseplants That Could Poison Your Cat

It’s extremely important to select plants that are safe for your pets. The lists of toxic and non-toxic plants vary depending on whether you share your home with cats, dogs, or both. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on houseplants in feline-friendly homes. (Though, there are no guarantees on whether the non-toxic plants you choose will be safe from your kitty.) 

Do Cats Naturally Avoid Poisonous Plants?

Although cats tend to be picky eaters, they’re highly curious and playful. So, they might not see your newest houseplant as a meal, but they will likely view it as a perfect play-thing to be pounced, swatted, and chewed. Some plants that are poisonous for cats have to be ingested to have any adverse effects, but brief exposure to other toxic plants (lilies for example) can be fatal. 

Cats are agile, natural explorers, and it’s almost impossible to put a plant in a location that a cat can’t reach. So, it’s best for cat owners to completely avoid introducing toxic plants into their homes. 

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The Most Common Houseplants That Are Poisonous for Cats

There are hundreds of plants that are toxic to cats.  While most only cause mild signs, such as vomiting or oral irritation, some are truly toxic and can cause organ failure.  The most dangerous plants that need to be avoided are marked with an asterisks. (*)

These are some of the most common plants to avoid in your homes and gardens:

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  • Aloe
  • Amaryllis
  • Azalea*
  • Carnation
  • Castor Bean*
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Cyclamen*
  • Daffodil*
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Foxglove*
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivies
  • Kalanchoe
  • *Lilies – Especially Easter Lily, Star Gazer Lily, and Tiger Lily*
  • Marijuana
  • Oleander*
  • Poinsettia
  • Rhododendron
  • Sago Palm*
  • Tulips
  • Yew

Visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center to view a complete list of plants that are toxic to cats and also a list of plants that are safe to have in and around a cat-friendly home. (You can view lists for dogs and horses, too!) If you’re planning to add a new plant to your house or garden, we recommend looking for plants listed on the ASPCA’s list of plants that are non-toxic for cats.

Signs of Poisoning in Cats

Symptoms of poisoning in cats can range from mild to severe. If your cat comes into contact with or ingests a toxic plant, you might notice any of the following signs or symptoms of poisoning:

  • Scratching or itchiness
  • Irritation around the mouth
  • Watery, red eyes
  • Swelling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Drooling
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice any unusual symptoms, behaviors, or bite marks on a toxic plant’s leaves, take action immediately.

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What to Do If Your Cat Ingests a Poisonous Plant

If you suspect your cat has ingested or come into contact with a toxic plant, contact Animal Poison Control and seek emergency veterinary care right away. Quick action is the best way to avoid any danger to your cat after a toxic plant ingestion.  We are available at Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital to help with any questions you might have.  After hours, contact our local 24/7 specialty hospitals. 

 

Mental Health and Suicide Awareness in the Veterinary Profession

Please note that this month’s topic is a delicate one and a difficult one to write about, but nonetheless important. I felt it was necessary to bring the information to light in the small venue that is this Blog.

Please note that this month’s topic is a delicate one and a difficult one to write about, but nonetheless important. I felt it was necessary to bring the information to light in the small venue that is this Blog.
-Peter Romano

Mental Health and Suicide Awareness in the Veterinary Profession

When the average person thinks about the job of a veterinarian, they probably focus on the more positive aspects, like helping to keep pets healthy, petting animals, and saving fuzzy lives. But being a veterinarian is a difficult and, at times, anxiety-provoking job. Veterinarians have to make tough decisions every day. They share the saddest moments with pet owners, and – true animal lovers at heart – they bear the emotional weight of it all.

Due to these and other factors, suicide rates among veterinarians are disproportionately high. Compared to the general population, female veterinarians were 3.5 times and male veterinarians were 2.1 times more likely to die as a result of suicide, according to a study from the CDC that included more than thirty years of data.

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Why Is the Suicide Rate So High in the Veterinary Profession?

Although every individual’s story is unique, veterinarians tend to face common factors that can increase the stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression that lead to suicidal thoughts.

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The job itself has its own stressful responsibilities. It entails long work hours and heavy workloads. As veterinarians often oscillate between happy and sad appointments throughout the workday, the nature of the profession puts high demands on emotional energy.

In addition, financial burdens are a common denominator among veterinarians. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found that on average, in 2019 veterinarians graduated with $150,000 in student loan debt, and more than 10% of graduates faced over $300,000 in debt. Coupling this with comparatively low entry-level wages, entering the profession can be burdensome for many veterinarians.

With constantly improving treatments and advancing medicine, there are often viable treatments available for pets that some owners simply cannot afford. Although most veterinarians view entering the profession as an enthusiastic expression of their love and compassion for animals, they must acknowledge the financial limitations of pet owners when practicing medicine. It is difficult to wrestle with the emotional fallout of offering high-quality care options and then being unable to provide that care. Besides the personal struggle this entails, these situations have also catalyzed a surprising amount of aggressive cyberbullying directed toward veterinarians.

Suicide Prevention, Crisis Help, and Training for Veterinarians

The high rate of suicide among veterinarians has not gone unnoticed. Groups such as Not One More Vet, Vets4Vets and many others have developed as a response. These groups have been created to help support veterinarians and other members of the veterinary community who are struggling with the challenges of the profession. They offer resources in addition to a private place where veterinarians and staff can access support, lean on one another, and share their experiences. The AVMA has also taken steps to improve mental and emotional health outcomes for veterinarians. They provide free crisis management resources, suicide prevention training, and a cyberbullying hotline to members.

Acknowledging the mental health aspects of any profession is a vital part of leading a balanced life. A veterinarian or not, if you or someone you know is struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out, ask a professional healthcare provider for help, or call the national suicide prevention hotline.

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