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From the Vet's Desk...

santa yorkie With the holiday gift season, many pets receive edible or chew treats this time of year.

You may ask yourself, "Which chew treats are acceptable? Which are not?"

Fractured teeth are very much correlated with the type of chewing devices given to pets. Dog jaw strength is 2 to 20 times our own and tooth strength is not always proportionate to jaw strength. Most tooth fractures occur when a hard item, such as an elk antler, nylon bone, cow hoof, meat bone, or other hard bone-type item is chewed in such a way as to torque the rear chewing teeth, resulting in tooth fracture.

Once a tooth is fractured and pulp (nerve) exposure occurs (pink or black spot or hole in tooth), bacteria quickly set up shop, infecting the tooth. This can occur within 4 to 6 hours of a tooth fracture. Over the ensuing weeks to months, a tooth root abscess (pus pocket in the bone) typically follows, placing the pet at risk for infection to spread through the body, potentially affecting the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Surprisingly, only 15% of pets exhibit any signs of tenderness, swelling, or pain when this occurs, so these are truly “silent” infections.

You may ask yourself the question, "Do I really need to have my pet on prevention during the fall and winter?"

The answer is, "Yes! Yes! And in case you didn’t read the first two, YES!"

Believe it or not, our BTVH family sees a greater incidence and prevalence in fleas and ticks during the fall and winter time than we do in the summer months. Why? Because pet parents believe it isn’t necessary to continue with year round prevention.

Let me share some information as to why it is recommended you continue your prevention all year.


It only takes one flea.

One flea can be brought into your home on you or your pet.

I have had pet parents say, “Well, I only found 1 flea on my dog and removed it so he’s good to go."

Wrong! That one flea can cause a flea infestation down the road and, ultimately, severe flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas can survive outdoors in temperatures as low as 33 degrees for as long as five days! This is plenty of time for them to come into your home and get nice and warm. Flea eggs can live year round in protected areas such as garages, crawl spaces, and porches. Fleas are the culprit to feline bartonella (cat scratch fever) in cats, a zoonotic condition where pet parents can also get this disease. Moreoever, fleas are responsible for tapeworms in both dogs and cats.


It is proven that ticks are more active or highly active in the late summer and early fall. Some consider spring and summer as tick season and don’t realize how active ticks are in the fall. Ticks can be active in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees and as low as 32 degrees. During the winter when we have a warm or mild day, we take our pets out to enjoy it, and this exposes them to ticks in the environment.

Your pets can be exposed to fleas and ticks in social settings as well. Doggie parks, grooming facilities, kennels, and daycares are risks, too. These facilities jump through hoops to ensure no fleas are present, but it can be an ongoing battle.

It only takes one animal carrying one flea or tick to spread exposure. Ticks are responsible for the transmission of multiple infectious diseases including lyme, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.

What About Mosquitos?

Mosquitoes are cold-blooded creatures. They are responsible for the transmission of heartworm disease in both dogs and cats. Mosquitos cannot regulate their own internal temperatures. Therefore, whatever the temperature is outside, this is the temperature a mosquito will be. Because of this, mosquitoes typically thrive in hot weather. You can find these flying insects virtually everywhere, but in countries and regions with a warm, humid climate, mosquitoes fare particularly well.

The cold weather may kill certain types of mosquitoes, but others have fully adapted to live in cooler climates! Mosquitoes are even found in arctic locations, such as Alaska. These species of mosquito can withstand both ice and snow. The eggs can also survive the freezing cold and will hatch as soon as spring comes.

Other species are not as well-suited to extreme temperatures. Most mosquitoes that are found in warmer places can’t live in very cold temperatures, and they will die if the temperature drops much below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

For flea, tick, AND heartworm prevention, consult with your veterinarian about a safe and effective therapy. Some are once a month oral tablets; other are once every three months oral tablets. Now there is even a heartworm prevention injection that lasts for 12 months! No single product is right for every pet. We strongly suggest to talk to your veterinarian and discuss what they feel is effective and best for your furbaby. Be more proactive than reactive when it comes to flea and tick prevention!

Reasons a Pet Parent May Not Use Preventatives All Year Round:

One factor is cost. While these products can be very effective when used properly, they can be considered expensive. Some pet parents will stop giving preventatives when it gets cold to save money. Anyone that has ever had a flea infestation knows how expensive, difficult, and time-consuming it is to correct the situation.

Another concern is the fear that these products are not safe and can harm their pets. While there are reported reactions and illness related to these preventatives, the serious reactions are almost always a result of user error. The Environmental Protection Agency launched an investigation in 2008 and continues to monitor safety and any adverse reactions. Time and time again they are proven to be safe when used properly. Visit this link for detailed information on being safe about flea and tick prevention products: Safe Use of Flea and Tick Prevention Products

Dr. Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, is the Co-Chief of Staff at Brick Town Veterinary Hospital. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science and a minor in Spanish from Cook College, Rutgers University, in 2000, his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004, and his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2012 from Aspen University.

cat scottish foldWe hear it almost every day, “My cat hasn’t been to the vet in years. He/She has been so healthy until now!”

While this might actually be the case, why leave your cat’s health to chance?

Feline wellness appointments are just as important as their canine counterparts. Some studies show that more than 50% of cats don’t receive routine veterinary care. I’m sure this is not shocking to many of you as it is often not the easiest task to get your feline fur baby to the vet. Sure, you can take the first step and call to schedule that appointment, but that is often when the real challenge begins!

rabbit hay 250pxRabbits make wonderful pets, but unlike dogs and cats, they require very specific care and are not the appropriate pet for every family. It is very important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian after purchasing or adopting your new rabbit, to learn about proper diet, husbandry, and general overall care. This will hopefully help prevent any illnesses from developing with your newest addition to the family! Here are some of the most common reasons why your rabbit should be examined yearly.

Dog at a computerWe are so fortunate to live (and practice medicine) in a time when our animal companions are becoming even more appreciated as a core part of our family units. They enrich our lives in countless ways and we want to provide them the very best we can in return for the love and companionship they give.

Unfortunately, this can also lead us astray. Unfounded science and guilt based marketing gimmicks have led to a sharp rise in popularity for dog and cat foods that lack proper understanding of these species’ metabolisms and leaves pet parents to cause harm just by trying to do the very best for their families.

So let’s talk about some of the issues we are finding with these smaller boutique diets and especially our biggest culprit in popular fads and marketing trigger words, grain-free diets.

feline examAccording to the American Veterinary Dental Society, over 85% of dogs and cats are affected with some form of dental disease by the age of three. Many of these pets, especially, felines, suffer in silence. It is thought that cats routinely mask many of their physical complaints because they could potentially become an easy mark for predation in the wild. This is unfortunate, because dental disease, if left untreated, may become a source of infection for the body, and potentially affect the heart, kidney, and liver over time.

One of the most common dental afflictions affecting cats are gingivitis and periodontal disease. These are frequently “silent,” and can present initially as nothing more than red gums (gingivitis). Eventually, the red gums may progress to lip smacking, tongue thrusting, difficulty eating (especially dry food), and bad breath. If addressed early, a dental cleaning under anesthesia can quickly reverse the inflammation. If allowed to progress, extractions and periodontal therapy may be necessary in order to restore oral health. Prevention involves daily tooth brushing, feeding a dental diet, and professional semi-annual dental examinations.

I am often asked "What is acupuncture?" or "Will it hurt?" and even, "Will it even help?". It would be very easy to give the standard clinical answers to these very valid questions but, instead, I would like to start with why I studied acupuncture and why I'm an Integrated Practitioner.

My path started at the age of six when I was first introduced to martial arts. As I grew older, I not only fell in love with the artistry and physicality but, the culture and tradition. I was introduced to Chinese acupuncture and herbal therapy in my early twenties after being injured. It was on the recommendation of my Sifu and agreed upon by my physician at the time to seek acupuncture.

Dog Acupuncture TreatmentI went to Chinatown to receive acupuncture for the first time. I will admit that even though I had essentially grown up in and around Asian culture, I was very skeptical. Despite my skepticism, I received multiple acupuncture and herbal treatments.

The results were amazing. The renewed vitality I felt made me question why everyone wasn't doing this and why Western physicians didn't make this part of their standard of care?

Dog with TickTraditionally, fleas and ticks have been thought of as a problem that we deal with in the spring and summer.

As we hike, BBQ, and enjoy our time outside we are constantly reminded of the pests that surround us. And once the early sunsets and pumpkin spiced lattes of fall set in, we tend to relax on our upkeep of some common preventatives. However, the fall and even winter can pose an equally great threat to our furry family if we do not remain vigilant.

Let’s look at a few of the critters and the harm they can cause to our pets:

As veterinarians we commonly come across many clients who have misconceptions perpetuated by usually well-meaning but misinformed sources. It has often been said that the internet can usually give you enough information to get yourself into trouble but not enough to get out of it. This holds true for many things in veterinary medicine, and perhaps one of the most common misconception is that of food allergies.

For many people with an itchy dog food often becomes the first culprit for the cause, after all with all these grain free diets flooding the market and the blame being placed on grains as a negative or problematic ingredient it is an easy assumption to make.

Dog eating pet foodHowever, food allergies account for only about 10% of dogs, with the most common being atopy (environmental allergies) or flea allergies.

Of these true food allergy cases the top 3 allergens are beef, dairy products, and chicken, with grains being much lower on the list.

Teeth. They need them for their very survival in the wild. But did you know that (according to the American Veterinary Dental Society) more than 85% of our pet dogs and cats have dental health issues by the age of three? And that these dental issues have been potentially linked to heart, kidney, and liver disease, as well as other health problems?

Save on Pet Dental Care Services (excluding the dental referral specialty practice) through January, February and March 2018 to keep your dog or cat healthy all year long!


Cat with ToothbrushDental disease starts with bacteria. The food that is eaten develops into plaque. Dental plaque, whitish to greyish in color, is slippery material which forms near the gum line. Plaque is made up of food particles, organic material, and bacteria. The bacteria feed on the food particles and, in so doing, produce toxic acidic wastes. These acidic wastes cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue), and periodontal disease (inflammation of the structures suspending the tooth in its socket).

At first, the toxic acidic wastes cause the gums to redden and become swollen. More plaque forms and the wastes dissolve away the ligament holding the tooth in the socket, creating a periodontal pocket. As plaque extends along the tooth root, the plaque nearer the crown becomes mineralized and is referred to as tartar. Tartar ranges from yellow to brown in color, is hard, and adheres tightly to the surface of the tooth. Eventually the ligament breaks down further and the tooth loosens in the socket.

Similarly, dental caries or cavities develop when the toxic acidic wastes dissolve away a layer of enamel. The bacteria can then eventually spread throughout the tooth and destroy it. Sometimes a tooth is worn (flattened) or fractured and bacteria can enter the inside of the tooth, infecting it. A tooth abscess (pocket of infection associated with the tooth) can form, causing bacteria to spread throughout the bloodstream, potentially affecting the internal organs. (Eighty-five % of abscessed teeth go completely unnoticed by the pet owner.) At this point, only tooth extraction will curtail the problem.

My personal journey through quality of life decisions and euthanasia.

Dr. Teresa Conway, DVM with her dog a pug StinkyStinky Winston came into my life over 12 years ago. My husband and I had just purchased our first house, complete with a yard. Pugsly, as he was known then, was a two year old Pug that “just wasn’t working out” in his second home. The veterinary technicians at Brick Town Veterinary Hospital figured it was a match made in heaven and did their magic. Before I knew it, I was adding an obese dog with mange to our family of two cats and two humans. And with a combination of love, patience, consistency, good veterinary care and a name change, he blossomed into the best dog ever (I may be just a little biased).

As 2017 started, the years were really taking their toll on my old man. He was 14 & 1/2 years old, and during his senior years he had been through knee surgery, injured his neck and back falling down the stairs, had a bout of liver failure, and was facing kidney failure, senility and arthritis pain. As his veterinarian, I was balancing keeping his liver and kidneys happy with managing his pain. As his person, my head was starting to realize that his time here with me was coming to an end though my heart stubbornly refused to acknowledge anything of the sort.

Obese Pet Cat Eating PieAs summer approaches and we all try to slim down to fit into our bathing suits, let's take a minute and look at our four-legged friends. The cold winter months have been hard on us all — confined inside for weeks with little to no outdoor activity or exercise. Often our fur babies are curled up next to us on the couch as we binge on the latest Netflix series and munch on whatever salty snacks are satisfying our craving. It is easy to see how we might have put on a little extra weight.

small dog summer pool 350pxSummer months are a wonderful time of year for enjoying barbeques, swimming, relaxing with friends and enjoying the great outdoors. But it can also be a dangerous time for our beloved pets if we aren't careful.

Below are four concerns for our pets during these warm, lazy summer days:

Happy Spring to both you and your pets! We tend to think that flea and tick season in our area is prevalent more in the spring and summer time, but actually it is every season. Fleas and ticks are pesky external parasites that have potential to cause serious problems to your pet and even yourself. Here is some information about these pesky pests and our recommendations for prevention.