We’ve collected our Veterinarian’s Favorite and most-referenced articles below from among the hundreds of articles available on our Veterinary Health Articles page. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this information, please give us a call at 508-653-1096
Separation anxiety describes dogs that usually are overly attached or dependent on family members. They become extremely anxious and show distress behaviors such as vocalization, destruction, or house soiling when separated from the owners.
Scratching is a normal feline behavior. Although scratching does serve to shorten and condition the claws, perhaps the most important reason why cats scratch is to mark their territory (both visibly and with the scent of the foot pads).
House soiling in cats, also called feline inappropriate elimination, is the most common behavioral complaint of cat owners. Problem behaviors can be urine and/or stool deposited outside of the litter box, or marking behaviors.
Separation anxiety occurs when dogs become distressed when separated from their owners and cannot relax while being home alone. Many dogs with separation anxiety follow the owner from room to room in the home and rarely spend time alone outdoors. Dogs with separation anxiety often begin to become anxious and show distress as the owners prepare to leave.
The doctors at Wayland Animal Clinic have compiled this list of recommended canine behaviorists and trainers in the Boston and Metrowest community.
Care & Wellness
Veterinarians will tell you that they answer this question all day, every day which means lots of dogs eat grass.
Congratulations on the acquisition of your new puppy. Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is also a large responsibility that lasts the entire lifetime of the puppy. We hope this handout will give you the information needed to make some excellent decisions regarding the care of your puppy.
The word vaccine comes from the Latin word “vacca”, which means cow. An English country doctor, Dr. Edward Jenner, discovered that people given a preparation or vaccine of material from the common cattle disease, cowpox or vaccinia, developed only a mild skin infection, but when those vaccinated individuals were exposed to the deadly smallpox virus (a virus closely related to cowpox), they remained healthy, or were immune.
Congratulations on your new kitten! Adding a new kitten to your family is a lot of fun, but it is also a big responsibility. Here are the things you need to know about the healthcare needs of young kittens.
Recent advances in veterinary medical science have resulted in an increase in the number and type of vaccines that are available for use in cats, and improvements are continuously being made in their safety and efficacy.
Is pet insurance right for you? How do you pick the right pet health insurance?
Why should I brush my dog’s teeth? It is estimated that over 2/3 of dogs over the age of three have periodontitis, an inflammation or infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis caused by plaque and often progresses to involve the bony tooth sockets. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to painful tooth loss.
When should I brush my cat’s teeth? Like us, cats need daily dental care to help decrease plaque and tartar accumulation. Teaching your cat to accept the brushing of his teeth will take some training, but it will be relatively easy once accustomed to the process.
Periodontal disease is the most common problem affecting dogs in all age groups. Diseases that affect the oral tissues can cause the teeth to fall out. There are primary organ diseases that can cause oral lesions. Finally, periodontal disease can have a secondary effect on major organs, causing or exacerbating organ system diseases.
Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. Over 80% of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease.
Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. The most common problems include gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums caused by the accumulation of plaque, which can develop into periodontal disease, and tooth resorption which affects more than half of all cats over the age of three.
Tooth resorption (TR) is one of the more common oral abnormalities seen in cats. In the past, tooth resorption was referred to as feline oral resorptive lesions, odontoclastic resorptions, cavities, caries, cervical neck lesions, external or internal root resorptions, and cervical line erosions.
Your pet loves to chew – but what is safe? This handout teaches you how to make the right choices.
Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the leading cause of allergic conditions in dogs. In an allergic reaction, the immune system overreacts and produces antibodies to a substance that it would normally tolerate or in an attempt to fight infection.
An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Dogs with allergies develop a hypersensitivity reaction or response to substances such as pollens, flea saliva, and so on. Most dogs with allergies develop skin symptoms, especially itching, although the allergy may also affect the respiratory or digestive system, or the eyes.
Food allergy is one of the five most common allergies or hypersensitivities known to affect dogs. In a pet with an allergy, the immune system overreacts and produces antibodies to substances that it would normally tolerate. This excessive response is termed an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction.
An allergy is a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Most allergens are proteins.
One of the most common conditions affecting cats is allergy. An allergy occurs when the cat’s immune system “overreacts” to foreign substances called allergens or antigens. Allergens and antigens are simply foreign proteins that the body’s immune system tries to remove.
Infections of the external ear canal or outer ear caused by bacteria and yeast are common in dogs but not as common in cats. Outer ear infections are called otitis externa. The most common cause of feline otitis externa is ear mite infestation.
Anaplasmosis is a tickborne disease caused by the infectious bacterial organism Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It is transmitted through bites of the deer tick (also known as the black-legged tick) and western black-legged tick.
What is feline infectious peritonitis?
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is an important disease of domestic cats and most members of the cat family (Felidae). It occurs worldwide in cats of all ages, but the disease is most common in young cats less than two years of age.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is one of the most important infectious viruses of cats. It was first discovered in cats with a form of leukemia, hence its name. FeLV is the cause of a variety of diseases, not just leukemia.
Lyme disease is transmitted to dogs through the bite of a tick. Once in the blood stream, the Lyme disease organism is carried to many parts of the body and is likely to localize in joints. It was first thought that only a few types of ticks could transmit this disease, but now it appears that several common species may be involved. The most common type of tick to carry Lyme disease is the Deer Tick.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of dogs and other mammals that primarily affects the liver or kidneys. Leptospires are known as “aquatic spirochetes”: the organism thrives in water and they have a helical or spiral shape with a characteristic hook on one or both ends.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus specific to the cat family. It was first recognized in the mid 1980’s and it has been found in cats worldwide. Although widespread, it is not a common infection in cats. Only 1 – 5% of cats show evidence of exposure to the virus.
What is laryngeal paralysis?larngeal_paralysis-1_2009
The larynx or “voice box” is composed of a series of separate plates of cartilage that form a “box” in the throat. The stability of this box is maintained by the laryngeal muscles. When the nerves of these muscles become weak (paretic) or paralyzed, the muscles relax and the cartilages tend to collapse inwards.
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening disorder most commonly seen in large, deep-chested dogs. In its early stage, the stomach fills with gas, causing a simple gastric dilatation or bloat. Sometimes, the condition progresses no further than a bloat. A GDV is a progression of the bloat into a volvulus, in which the huge, gas-filled stomach twists upon itself so that both the entrance and exit of the stomach become occluded. This is a life-threatening emergency that requires surgery to correct
Feline asthma affects a fair number of cats and is often associated with bronchitis. “Asthma” is technically an acute or chronic inflammation of the airway associated with several physiologic effects…
Colitis simply refers to inflammation of the large intestine or colon. Colitis is most commonly used to describe diarrhea or loose stools associated with the large bowel. Large bowel diarrhea is also used synonymously with colitis.
Constipation can be defined as an abnormal accumulation of feces in the colon, resulting in difficult bowel movements. This may result in reduced frequency or absence of defecation. The feces are retained in the large intestine or colon. Since one of the major functions of the colon is water absorption, the retained feces become hard and dry, which makes passing the feces even more difficult.
Cushing’s disease (also known as Cushing’s syndrome) is a condition in which the adrenal glands overproduce certain hormones. The medical term for this disease is hyperadrenocorticism. Literally translated, “hyper” means over active, “adreno” means adrenal gland, and “corticism” refers to the outer part of the adrenal gland.
Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas, a small organ located near the stomach. The pancreas has two different types of cells that have very different functions. One group of cells produces the enzymes necessary for proper digestion…
Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas, a small but vital organ located near the stomach. The pancreas has two significant types of cells. One group of cells produces the enzymes necessary for proper digestion…
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a term used to describe a set of clinical signs associated with abnormal urination in cats. When the condition has no identifiable cause, it is called Feline Idiopathic Lower Urinary Tract Disease (iFLUTD) to indicate that this is an exclusionary diagnosis.
Cardiomyopathy is a term used to describe diseases of the heart muscle. In cats, three classes of cardiomyopathy have been described: hypertrophic, dilated, and intermediate or restrictive cardiomyopathy.
The kidneys have many functions. They principally act to remove metabolic waste products from the blood stream, regulate the levels of certain essential nutrients such potassium and sodium, conserve water and produce urine.
The pancreas is a vital organ that lies on the right side of the abdomen adjacent to the stomach. The pancreas produces enzymes to assist in food digestion and hormones such as insulin, which regulates blood sugar or glucose metabolism.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis occurs commonly in the dog. There is no age, sex, or breed predisposition.
Diabetes mellitus is caused by the failure of the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. In dogs, diabetes mellitus is usually Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (also called Type 2 Diabetes).
This handout provides detailed information on insulin administration. For more information about diabetes mellitus, see the fact sheets “Diabetes Mellitus – General Information”, and “Diabetes Mellitus – Principles of Treatment”.
Generally, the following screening tests are performed when diabetes mellitus is suspected: a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis.
Generally, the following screening tests are performed when diabetes mellitus is suspected: a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis.
Glomerulonephritis, also known as glomerular nephritis (GN), is a specific type of renal (kidney) disease characterized by inflammation of the glomeruli, which are the tiny structures in the kidneys that act as filters for the blood.
The word “enteropathy” means any disease of the intestinal system. Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is not a specific disease, but rather describes a group of diseases that cause the loss of proteins from the bloodstream into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
The pancreas is a vital organ that lies on the right side of the abdomen adjacent to the stomach. It produces enzymes to assist in food digestion and hormones such as insulin, which regulates blood sugar or glucose metabolism. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis.
The trachea, or windpipe, is the tube connecting the throat to the lungs. Small rings of cartilage along the tracheal wall maintain the tube shape. In the dog, these rings do not completely encircle the windpipe, but only cover about 5/6 (83%) of the circumference.
Addison’s disease is the common name for hypoadrenocorticism, caused by decreased hormone production from the outer part or cortex of the adrenal gland.
Addison’s disease (the common name for hypoadrenocorticism) is caused by a decreased production of two hormones from the adrenal gland. These hormones are cortisol, a stress hormone, and aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid hormone that regulates the body’s water balance through its effects on sodium and potassium.
Cats have two thyroid glands, which are located in the neck and play a vital role in regulating the body’s metabolic rate. Hyperthyroidism is characterized by the overproduction of thyroid hormone and a subsequent increase in metabolic rate.
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by the overproduction of thyroid hormone and a subsequent increase in metabolic rate.
Pericardial effusion refers to the abnormal accumulation of fluid within the pericardial sac.
In pericardial effusion, an excessive amount of fluid accumulates within the pericardial sac, interfering with the heart’s ability to pump effectively.
The spine is like a string of pearls with boney vertebrae separated by intervertebral disks. The intervertebral disks allow movement in the spine and act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae.
Cervical stenosis is also known as cervical vertebral instability, cervical spondylopathy or Wobbler syndrome. It is caused by compression of the spinal cord, usually at the base of the neck.
The spinal cord is one of the most important and sensitive organ systems in the body. If it is damaged, the nerve cells do not regenerate but are replaced with fibrous or scar tissue. Spinal cord injuries usually result in permanent, irreversible damage.
A seizure, also known as a convulsion or fit, is a temporary involuntary disturbance of normal brain function that is usually accompanied by uncontrollable muscle activity. Epilepsy is used to describe repeated episodes of seizures. With epilepsy, the seizures can be single or may occur in clusters, and they can be infrequent and unpredictable or may occur at regular intervals.
Epilepsy is a medical term derived from the Greek word epilepsia which means seizure or “falling sickness.” It is a brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures in the absence of any known cause or abnormal brain lesion. In other words, the brain appears to be normal but functions abnormally.
The vestibular system is responsible for maintaining normal balance. The vestibular system has central components located in the brain, and peripheral components located in the inner and middle ear. Vestibular disease refers to a sudden, non-progressive disturbance of balance. It is more common in older dogs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stand united in their position (based on very robust data) that feeding raw food to dogs is potentially dangerous to both the dog and to you.
The first inclination of some people when feeding a home-prepared diet to their pet is to simply feed the animal leftovers of what they are eating. It should be realized, however, that the nutritional needs of dogs, cats and humans differ.
Grain-Free diets – an analysis by an experienced veterinary nutritionist.
These notes are provided to help you understand the diagnosis or possible diagnosis of cancer in your pet. For general information on cancer in pets ask for our handout “What is Cancer.”
Conjunctivitis is the medical term used to describe inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye. These tissues include the lining of the lids and the third eyelid as well as the tissues covering the front part of the eye or globe.
The cornea is the clear, glistening membrane that makes up the surface of the eyeball. Think of it as a clear windowpane. To understand a corneal ulcer, you must first know how the cornea is constructed.
The cornea is the transparent, shiny membrane that makes up the front of the eyeball. Think of it as a clear windowpane. To understand a corneal ulcer, you must first know how the cornea is constructed.
There are three layers in the cornea, all of which are highly specialized skin cells. The outermost layer is the epithelium, which is a very thin layer of cells.
A distichia (plural distichiae) is an eyelash that arises from an abnormal location on the eyelid or grows in an abnormal direction. Distichiae usually emerge along the margin of the eyelid through the duct or opening of the meibomian gland, although they may arise at other locations along the eyelid margins. The condition in which these abnormal eyelashes are found is called distichiasis.
A cilium is a hair, and ectopic means growing out of place. Ectopic cilia are one or several hairs that grow abnormally through the conjunctiva and come into contact with the surface of the eye (cornea). These abnormal hairs most commonly occur on the upper middle eyelid.
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which the pressure within the eye, called the intraocular pressure (IOP) is increased. Intraocular pressure is measured using an instrument called a tonometer.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a condition that is also commonly referred to as “dry eye.” The medical term means inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues from drying. It is a common eye condition resulting from inadequate production of the aqueous portion of the tear film by the lacrimal gland and/or gland of the third eyelid gland.
The uvea is the part of the eye made up of the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid. The iris is the pigmented or colored membrane behind the cornea (clear outer surface of the eye).
The uvea is the part of the eye made up of the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid. The choroid is the middle layer or vascular tunic of the eye located between the sclera, which is the fibrous protective outer coat (the white of the eye) and the retina, which is the light sensitive surface within the eye.
The word cruciate means “to cross over” or “form a cross.” The cruciate ligaments are two bands of fibrous tissue located within each knee joint. They join the femur and tibia (the bones above and below the knee joint) together so that the knee works as a hinged joint.
The knee joint connects the femur, or thighbone, and the tibia, or shinbone. The patella, or “kneecap,” is normally located in a groove called the trochlear groove, found at the end of the femur. The term luxating means “out of place” or “dislocated”. Therefore, a luxating patella is a kneecap that ‘pops out’ or moves out of its normal location.
The patella, or “kneecap,” is normally located in a groove on the end of the femur, or thighbone. The term luxating means “out of place” or “dislocated”. Therefore, a luxating patella is a kneecap that moves out of its normal location. It generally resumes its normal anatomical orientation after only a brief period of luxation in most dogs.
The term osteochondrosis refers is an abnormal development of the cartilage on the end of a bone in the joint Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD or OD) is an inflammatory condition that occurs when the diseased cartilage separates from the underlying bone. It most commonly affects the shoulder joint but the elbow, hip, or knee (stifle) may also be involved.
The elbow joint is made up of 3 separate bones, the radius, the ulna, and the humerus. Developmental abnormalities may occur in the elbow joint, mostly in medium and large breed dogs. There are three common developmental problems that are often referred to as ‘elbow dysplasia’, namely a fragmented coronoid process (FCP), and ununited anconeal process (UAP), and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
Panosteitis is a painful inflammation of the outer surface or shaft of one or more long bones of the legs. It is sometimes called “growing pains.” Panosteitis may occur in more than one bone at a time or may move around from area to area, cause a “shifting” lameness that goes from one bone or leg to another. The lameness tends to occur very suddenly and usually occurs spontaneously, or without a history of trauma or excessive exercise.
There are many causes of limping and lameness in young dogs. Most of these are relatively minor and resolve without medical or surgical intervention. However, there are other causes that are more serious and, if not treated promptly, may result in permanent lameness or lead to debilitating arthritis.
The elbow joint is made up of 3 separate bones, the radius, the ulna, and the humerus. A problem called elbow dysplasia is a developmental abnormality that occurs in the elbow joint of dogs, mostly of the medium to large breeds. There are 3 developmental problems that may be called elbow dysplasia, namely a fragmented coronoid process (FCP), an ununited anconeal process (UAP), and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). There is a separate handout for each of these conditions. Dogs with elbow dysplasia typically have only one of the three conditions, and it is rare for a single dog to have all three components of elbow dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is a deformity of the hip that occurs during growth. The hip joint is a “ball and socket” joint. During growth, both the “ball” (the head of the femur or thighbone) and the “socket” in the pelvis (acetabulum) must grow at equal rates. In hip dysplasia, this uniform growth during puppyhood does not occur. The result is laxity of the joint, followed by degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis (OA), which is the body’s attempt to stabilize the loose hip joint.
Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by a one-celled organism or protozoa called coccidia. In cats and dogs, most coccidia are of the genus called Isospora. Isospora felis and Isospora rivolta are the most common species of coccidia found in cats. Coccidia are not parasitic intestinal worms. They are microscopic parasites that live within cells of the intestinal lining.
Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by one-celled organisms (protozoa) called coccidia. Coccidia are sub-classified into a number of genera, and each genus has a number of species. At least six different genera of coccidia can infect dogs.
Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of man and animals cased by a protozoan parasite Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia). Giardia is a simple one-celled parasitic species; it is not a “worm”, bacteria or virus.
Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of man and animals caused by a protozoan parasite Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia). Giardia is a simple one-celled parasitic species; it is not a “worm”, bacteria or virus. This parasite occurs worldwide, and in North America, it is the most common intestinal parasite in humans.
Hookworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. They are only about 1/8″ (two to three mm) long and so small in diameter that they are barely visible to the naked eye. Hookworms feed on the tissue fluids and blood of their host.
Hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma braziliense) are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog that get their name from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. They are only about 1/8″ (3 mm) long and so small that it is very difficult to see them with the naked eye. Despite their small size, they ingest large amounts of blood from the tiny vessels in the intestinal wall. A large number of hookworms can cause life-threatening anemia. This problem is most common in puppies, but can occur in adult dogs.
This handout is designed to give you an overview of some of the internal parasites that can infect your cat. For more detailed information, refer to our separate information sheets on roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and heartworms.
This handout is designed to give you an overview of some of the internal parasites that can infect your dog. There are also separate information sheets on roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and heartworms that will provide you with more details.
A lungworm infection is caused by one of several parasitic roundworms. In North America, the parasitic lungworms that infect dogs are Eucoleus aerophilus (formerly called Capillaria aerophilus), Oslerus osleri (formerly called Filaroides osleri), Crenostoma vulpis, Eucoleus boehmi and Filaroides hirthi.
Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the cat. They can be an important cause of illness, even death, in kittens. As their name implies, these are large-bodied round worms, averaging about 3-6 inches (8-15 cm) in length. They do not attach to the wall of the intestine, as some intestinal parasites do. Instead, they are literally “swimming” freely within the intestine.
Roundworms (nematodes or ascarids) are parasites that live freely in the intestine, feeding off of partially digested intestinal contents. Their name is derived from their tubular or “round” shape. Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina are two important species of roundworms in dogs. Toxocara canis causes more significant disease and also may be transmitted to humans.
Tapeworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. They are classified as cestodes. They belong to a different family than hookworms and roundworms, which are the other common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats. Several types of tapeworms are known to infect cats. Dipylidium caninum is by far the most common species observed in cats.
Tapeworms are flat intestinal worms that are made up of many small segments, each about ¼ – ½” (3-5 mm) long. Unlike roundworms that live freely in the intestinal tract, tapeworms attach to the wall of the small intestine using hook-like mouthparts.
Whipworms are intestinal parasites that are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) long. They live in the cecum and colon (large intestine) of dogs where they cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs. Whipworm infection results in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. They are one of the most pathogenic worms found in dogs.
With modern drugs and sophisticated equipment, the risk associated with general anesthesia and surgery is minimal for the healthy pet.
Administering supplemental fluids can benefit dogs with a variety of medical conditions. Most commonly, home fluid therapy is recommended for dogs with kidney disease or chronic renal failure (CRF). If your dog is diagnosed with a condition that will benefit from fluid therapy, your veterinarian can teach you to perform this simple procedure.
Giving your cat a pill can be a challenge even for the most experienced veterinarian! The easiest way to give your cat a pill is to hide the pill in food. This usually works best if the pill is hidden in a small amount of tuna, salmon, yogurt or cream cheese.
Administering supplemental fluids can benefit cats with a variety of medical conditions. Most commonly, home fluid therapy is recommended for cats with kidney disease or chronic renal failure (CRF). If your cat is diagnosed with a condition that will benefit from fluid therapy, your veterinarian can teach you to perform this simple procedure.
Certain medical conditions can be controlled by the use of drugs that are only available in an injectable format. Two of these conditions are diabetes mellitus, which is controlled by daily insulin injections, and certain allergies, which are controlled by regular injections of allergenic extracts. In many cases, cat owners are willing and able to administer these medications at home.
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by infection with the organism called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). This is a microscopic single-cell protozoal organism related to coccidia. Virtually all warm-blooded animals, including people, can be infected with this organism. It is an extremely well adapted parasite and rarely causes significant disease to the individuals it infects.