Pet Toys: Providing Fun and Educational Play for Pets

September 19th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

By Karen Fazio

pet toysPlaying with our pets is fun – and quite necessary for the healthy psychological development of our furry friends. For dogs and cats, pet toys often play a major role in playtime and their development, as they provide mental stimulation, learning opportunities, and a chance for pets to interact and bond with their humans.

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Back to School, Back to Safety: Avoiding Pet Toxins

September 6th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

pet toxinsRegardless of how long you’ve shared your space with a four-legged companion, you are probably well aware of their propensity to sniff out food wherever it may be.

The contents of a backpack, purse, or lunchbox can be particularly tantalizing, and with school back in session the opportunities for scrounging are nearly endless.

Unfortunately, these seemingly harmless items can actually pose a significant risk to our pets in the form of toxins such as certain foods, medication, and even chewing gum.

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Anything is Possible With Summer Pet Safety Measures

August 29th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

summer pet safetyWe’ve entered the season of endless opportunities for outdoor fun. While many pets are content to hunker down at home, others are quite involved in all manner of activities. Swimming, hiking, and travelling are all worthwhile seasonal endeavors, but they can also place your pet at risk. But don’t worry – with some planning and preparation, your summer pet safety tactics will be successfully underway.

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The Wait Weight Is Over: How to Make Pet Exercise…FUN!

August 22nd, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

pet excerciseThere are so many benefits to pet exercise, but that doesn’t mean it’s always fun. Sure, it helps to reduce behavioral problems, increase health and wellness, and build confidence, but if pet exercise isn’t fun, all parties involved can get bored. Don’t worry, everyone gets stuck. The good news is that pet exercise can be fun again, and with our fresh tips, it’s a guarantee.

Pet Exercise: First Things First

Before you change things up for your pet, we recommend a routine wellness exam. Once we’ve established that your pet’s breed, age, overall health, and lifestyle can withstand a change to the exercise routine, we’ll help you plan a new daily workout that leaves you both feeling good.

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Cool Nutrition: The Best in Summer Pet Treats

August 8th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

summer pet treatsThe heat is on, and the rising mercury means that our pets are at an increased risk for heat-related illness. Dehydration and heatstroke are no joke, and it’s up to us to protect our four-legged friends during the summer months. Besides providing plenty of fresh water and shade, and never leaving a pet in a parked car, chilled or frozen treats are a fun and tasty way to help pets keep cool.

The ideas for summer pet treats are nearly endless, and you are only limited by your imagination! The team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital came up with our favorite healthy options, sure to delight even the pickiest pet.

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Are pet food companies selling owners a raw deal?

July 17th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

By Karen Fazio, CDBC

Much like any diet fad, raw meat based diets (RMBD) abound with reasons why they are healthier than cooked varieties.

Advocates of RMBDs. as well as the companies selling them, dazzle prospective buyers with anecdotal language that may include ‘biologically appropriate,’ ‘ancestral food source,’ or insinuate that they’re somehow healthier because of its
compatibility with the wolf’s diet.

I admit, the compelling language can be fascinating. Unfortunately, there’s no science to back it up. There are, however, numerous scientific studies verifying the critical flaws in RMBD. For example, in a European study (Dillitzer et al, 2011) that evaluated 95 homemade raw diets by calculating twelve important nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A, scientists revealed serious excesses or deficits in those nutrients.

As far as bacteria is concerned, raw meats are a veritable breeding ground for Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, Clostridium, Campylobacter, Listeria among others. This even includes food that is human-grade, previously frozen and freeze-dried.

One Canadian study found that 21-percent of all RMBDs tested were contaminated with Salmonella and that the bacteria was resistant to 75-percent of the antibiotics tested (Finley et al, 2008).

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) agrees with the science and “discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens.”

Dr. Wefer and Dr. Delaney, co-founders of Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital have banned RMBDs from their practice entirely. “Despite what the proponents of raw diets say about how natural it is for you dog, such diets pose health risks to your pet and your family. You see the warnings every day in supermarkets regarding safe handling of meats. This is because our processed meats are often contaminated with potentially dangerous aforementioned bacteria in addition to Campylobacter (responsible for food poisoning) and Shigella (responsible for diarrhea, fever). One simple break down in personal hygiene (hand washing) can lead to dire consequences when people are exposed to such bugs.  The risks far outweigh any advantage in feeding your pet raw food.”  Dr. Wefer said.

Dr. Delaney is in agreement with Dr. Wefer. “Considering the risk of infection from Salmonella and other bacteria, as
well as the added costs and extra time for preparation and cleanup, prohibiting raw meats in our practice is a good choice for the dog as well as the family,” Dr. Delaney added.

Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is not alone. Other practices such as the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University has permanently banned RMBDs due to the dangers they pose to pets as well as those who handle the food.

Such bans are not exclusive to the veterinary industry. The Delta Society – one of the largest and best-known organizations registering and insuring pet therapy volunteers and their companion animals – has banned them as well.  “Any dog or cat from a household where raw protein food is fed is not eligible to be a Delta Society Pet Partner,” the organization states.

As far as my two-cents is concerned – especially in regards to comparing a wolf diet with that of the dog as a selling point – it’s estimated that dogs have been ingesting cooked food remnants for about 400,000+ years. Likely, this is one of the key reasons why dogs have flourished and wolves haven’t.

Additionally, since dogs are scavengers by nature the likelihood that their ancestors enjoyed fresh large-animal kills such as beef or lamb are pretty slim. Ancestral diets likely consisted of days-old carcasses, tiny mammals and insects before man began farming and domesticating livestock. But, marketing a diet by featuring images of rats and insects is not aesthetically pleasing.

 

The author is The Director of Training & Behavior at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital.

Crates are Great! Why Crate Training Your Pet is Important

July 5th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

Whether you’ve just adopted a sweet little puppy or your adult dog is ready for additional training, crate training is one of the best methods of instilling confidence and good behavior in your pet. When your pet is properly trained, crates provide a sense of safety and security and are an invaluable tool when house-training your pet.

While the team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital highly recommends crate training for both cats and dogs, there are a few things you should know beforehand. Keep reading to learn more about crates and their purpose and how to get your pet to cozy up to his or her own little “den.”

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Helping Your Pet Cope with Thunder and Firework Phobias

June 26th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

 

By Karen Fazio, CDBC, Director of Training and Behavior

Almost all pets are uncomfortable with sudden or loud sounds. Most cope with their discomfort by hiding or seeking out comfort from owners or other animals living in the home. For those classified as phobic, nothing quite compares to the intense level of fear and anxiety such pets experience when exposed to thunderstorms or fireworks.

Sound-phobic dogs and cats present certain symptoms that earn them this classification. Some include pacing, excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, trembling, house soiling, aggression, over-the-top vocalizing or attempts to escape the home. In some cases, symptoms persist long after the event has concluded.

Luckily, there are a number of ways an owner may help their pets prepare for and cope with thunderstorms and firework displays. Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Parks: 5 Reasons to Reconsider the Trip

June 14th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

By Karen Fazio CDBC, Director of Training & Behavior

Some dog parks are a place where highly socialized and well-behaved dogs gather; or they are the equivalent of entering a prison yard. The biggest challenge in that? Not knowing whether you are entering a good dog park, or one of the prison yard variety.

Beyond the overall quality of the dog park, however, are other reasons responsible dog owners should skip the dog park. Here are five dog park facts you may not have considered:

1. Age Is the Most Overlooked Factor

The biggest flaw of dog parks is that most of the focus is on separating dogs by size. However, we feel that age is the most overlooked and important factor in separating pets from one another.

Puppies, adolescent dogs, and adult dogs have much different play styles and energy levels. For example, a 5-month old Lab playing with a 4-year old dog of similar size is the equivalent of a toddler child engaging in tackle football with a 16-year old.

While dogs may be similar in size, it’s not a reliable indication that they’re in any way mentally or physically well-matched. Read the rest of this entry »

Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms, Oh My! All About Pet Parasite Prevention

May 20th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

pet parasite preventionSpring is in full bloom here in New Jersey. Along with the beautiful blooms, breezy days, and growing grass comes a slew of insects and other creepy-crawlies, including fleas, ticks, and mosquitos carrying heartworm.

Your pet’s greatest exposure risk for these parasites reaches its peak April through November, but to be truly effective pet parasite prevention must be a year-round endeavor. Do you know the risks associated with fleas, ticks, and heartworm, and how to protect your pet?

Fleas

Fleas are certainly annoying, and they can cause plenty of suffering for pets and people alike (eradicating a flea infestation is notoriously labor intensive). But beyond their status as irritating pests, fleas can pose health risks to your pet.

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