Animal Hospital of Dauphin County

241 Hershey Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17112
(717) 652-1270
In case of an after-hours emergency please contact the following emergency hospitals:
Pet Emergency Treatment Services, Inc.
930 North Queen Street
Lancaster, PA 17603
Phone: (717) 295-7387

Monday - Friday: 6 PM to 8 AM;
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: Open 24 Hours

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of York: Located at Willow Mill Animal Hospital
11 Willow Mill Park Road
Mechanicsburg, Pa 17050
Phone: 717-691-8727

Monday-Friday 7:30pm-7:30am




April 20, 2017

Spring is in the air! The weather is getting warmer and we are starting to head towards those summer months. With the warmer weather comes the flowers blooming, pools being opened, longer days outside, summer vacations, and also those annoying bugs come back from hiding away for the winter. Mosquitos are one of those bugs. Possibly even the most annoying of the insects to come out in the warmer months. April is National Heartworm Prevention Month, so this blog is to inform you of all of the basics of Heartworm in dogs and cats. Many people still only think that heartworm is a concern in the southern U.S. which sadly is incorrect. Heartworm is found in all 50 states and that is why EVERYONE that owns furry friends should be knowledgeable about the basics of heartworm disease.

Heartworm disease is a serious and even fatal disease that can affect dogs and cats. This disease is caused by worms that infect the blood and live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels. This infection can cause heart failure, lung disease and cause other organs in the body to be compromised.

Heartworm is transmitted by mosquito bites. Mosquitos get infected by biting animals that have been infected with heartworm and currently have the baby worms or microfilaria living in their blood stream. When that infected mosquito bites another non infected animal the baby worms enter that animal by the bite wound.

The life cycle of heartworms simplified:
Mosquito bites infected animal. Baby worms that are now in the mosquito develop into infective larvae stage over 10-14 days. Infected mosquito bites non-infected animal. Larvae are transmitted to non-infected animal through mosquito bite wound. The larvae then live in the tissues for around 2 months while developing. The adult worm is now living in bloodstream and heart for the next 4-5 months while it reaches full maturity. Mature worms now live in heart and bloodstream and can start producing larvae that can now infect another mosquito. Mosquito bites the now infected animal and the life cycle repeats.

Heartworms can live for 5-7 years in dog and 2-3 years in cats. Once an animal is infected with heartworm it can take months for symptoms to appear.

In dogs, symptoms you may see could be the following:

  • mild persistent cough
  • reluctance to exercise
  • fatigue after mild activity
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • swollen abdomen(extra fluid)-severe cases
  • caval syndrome-blockage of blood flow-severe cases

In cats symptoms may include:

  • coughing
  • asthma-like attacks
  • periodic vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • difficulty walking/fainting
  • fluid accumulation in abdomen

Diagnosis is made by a blood test looking for heartworm proteins. Cats are harder to diagnose and usually require a special blood test and even ultrasound/x-rays.

While it is true that the southern states are more known for heartworm infections solely because the temperature is warmer longer periods of the year. Warm weather = mosquitos. Heartworm has been diagnosed in every state of the US. The incidence for heartworm has grown dramatically in the last 5-10 years.

Current recommendations is year round heartworm prevention for all dogs and cats in all states. There are many options for preventives. The ones that we use at AHDC are-Heartgard (dog), Interceptor (dog), and Revolution (cats/dogs). These preventives also protect against certain intestinal parasites. Revolution also protects against fleas, and some ticks in dogs.

Testing should be done for heartworm every year, or before restarting prevention if a dose was missed. Even if your pet is on a preventative year round, testing should still be done to be sure of product effectiveness of prevention. Testing can be done at the vet office with a small amount of blood and results are available in as little as ten minutes! Some of the companies that sell preventatives will pay for all or a portion of treatment cost if proven that animal is on year-long prevention with no missed doses and has yearly testing documented in their medical records. Some of the medications can be harmful to animals that have active heartworm infections, which is why testing is required if doses are missed.

Treatment for heartworm is very expensive and required to prevent death from large worm burdens. Sadly there is no treatment approved in cats-the only way is prevention! Treatment can range in cost from $1200-$2000, and includes bloodwork, x-rays, multiple injections, oral medications, and many, many vet visits. When comparing cost of treatment vs cost of prevention there should be no question! Prevention is usually less than $300 for a whole year of protection. Prevention is the way to go!

As you can see it’s a little difficult to condense all the information of heartworm disease into a short blog, but all the information is extremely important and we want everyone to be fully educated! If interested in more information on preventions we have available, please contact our office to help your pet be the healthiest they can be!

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National Love Your Pet Day

February 16, 2017


Did you know that February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day?!

Love Your Pet Day
Love Your Pet Day

Most of us don’t need an excuse to spoil our 4 legged friends, however if you do, here is a great reason!

<h2> Here are some good ideas on how to celebrate national love your pet day! </h2>

  • Give them a special treat (even make homemade goodies for them)
  • Take them for an extra walk, or a walk in a different and new exciting area
  • Treat them to a new toy. A lot of pet stores allow pets so they can pick out their own toys
  • Extra love and attention
  • Try something new together
  • Play date with other pet friends (as long as your pet plays nice with others)
  • Try a pet related DIY project
  • Love on shelter pets, volunteer to walk shelter dogs, or even play with shelter cats

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate this holiday. We need to be reminded every once in a while to show gratitude. We need to be reminded to show gratitude for the things that we love. On this day, we focus on the pets. It works for what what we love and sharing it with the world.

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February is National Dental Month!

February 9, 2017


shutterstock_75325276Did you know that over 85% of pets over 4 years of age have some sort of gum disease?

These are some signs that your pet may be having a dental issue:

  • Bad breath – this can be a sign of dental issues or different medical issues, if you notice this make an appointment with your vet.
  • Rubbing at face – Sometimes pets will do this as a sign of discomfort.
  • Bleeding from the mouth/when chewing on a toy – often a sign of inflammation of gums.
  • Crying when trying to eat/ trouble keeping food in mouth – Often a sign of pain, can be painful in jaws/gums/teeth.
  • Pet losing teeth
  • Lumps/bumps on face or muzzle area with or without nasal discharge – With dental disease there can be localized infections or abscesses. Dental cleaning and removal of the diseased tooth are often needed in the case.
  • Head shyness – When in pain some pets will not allow anyone near their head at all.

If you notice any of these signs or have any concerns about your pet’s dental health please contact your veterinarian and set up an appointment! We’re currently offering 20% off pet dental visits. Go to our online scheduler now to book your pet’s appointment.

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Strangers and Your New Puppy

January 25, 2017

shutterstock_126058058Many struggle with the dilemma of how to handle strangers and their new puppy, especially as they work through the basic steps of engagement and training, which is the critical process of proper socialization. Puppies in general are just like small children. They do not have the full body vocabulary of an adult, and can rarely properly project their fear or stress; often resulting in a scared or hostile puppy. To them the world is a new, and often scary place. For now, you want to teach them to look to you for everything.

Puppies will first look to you for direction, as well as protection. Don’t be scared to tell strangers, friends, or family “I’m training my puppy, please don’t pet him, or give him attention”. Don’t worry about being rude, or that many people will misunderstand this. Your priority is your four-legged friend who is still learning how to co-exist in a very big world. Without clear direction from you, the puppy may start to make not so good choices; for exmaple, fear barking. Our lack of action has now taught our dog to potentially be aggressive to new people and places.

Now here is what you can do:

  • shutterstock_197930090Immediately get your puppy’s attention-use a high reward such as a tasty treat or favorite toy. Continue to redirect to yourself and engage your puppy until the distraction has either lost its appeal, or is no longer around
  • Keep your puppy focused on you
  • Anytime your puppy seems nervous or strange-redirect them to you
  • Teach your dog that new places, people, and things, are cause for reward and play from you. This will both build their focus on you, and teach them that the world is no big deal and can be ignored or not worried about
  • When people and the world are no source of concern, it can be met calmly later on
  • Don’t let other people distract your puppy, letting other people engage and reward your dog teaches them to ignore you. You also don’t want to build expectations that won’t be met, creating a puppy that is unsure.

In short don’t be scared to be assertive, say no, ask politely. Imagine how strangers would look to you if you were only 12” tall. This is also a critical time when you are creating the building blocks of a life-long partnership, and focusing on the core concepts of motivation and engagement with your new puppy. Teach them now that you are the source of their reward, praise, and safety, and you will have a dog that looks to you for life, and will be confident out in the world with you by their side.

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Sugarless Foods

January 11, 2017

shutterstock_98720963With Christmas recently over and Valentine’s Day on the way, most people are very aware of the health risks and dangers that chocolate poses to our dogs. But did you know that sugarless gums and candies can be even more dangerous?

Sugar free products often contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, a chemical that can cause severely low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure and death when ingested by dogs. It is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream after ingestion, in as little as 30 minutes. If you think your dog ingested sugar free gum or candy, call your veterinarian right away!

While xylitol is deadly if ingested, one benefit of xylitol is that it can prevent dental disease in dogs and people. Many canine water additives and mouthwashes contain xylitol. These are still safe to use if the label instructions are followed. If multiple dogs use the same water bowl, a good rule of thumb is to dose the water additive for the smallest dog in the house.

Keep your pets safe this holiday season and keep candy and potentially dangerous foods well out of reach.

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Holiday Safety Tips

November 23, 2016

By Heather Zimmerman

The holidays are right around the corner! But just remember, even though feeding your pets from the table may be tempting, any food your pets’ digestive system is not accustomed to could cause problems.  Vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach may be just the start; more serious diseases such as pancreatitis, organ disease, and other illnesses can result and may require hospitalization.

shutterstock_169235831If you choose to feed your pet from the table, these are the foods to completely avoid:

Chocolate: Most people are aware that chocolate is bad for pets, you may not know that the darker the chocolate the more dangerous it can be.  Chocolate can cause an upset stomach, tremors, seizures, and even death if enough is ingested.

Xylitol:  This is an artificial sweetener that is often used in types of candy. If this is ingested, it can cause low blood sugar, and possible liver failure.

Raisins/grapes: These can cause renal failure and the toxic dose differs for every individual. For some pets, even a couple could result in toxicities.

Macadamia nuts: Muscle weakness, tremors, and vomiting can occur with ingestion.

Onions and garlic: Eating these foods can lead to destruction of red blood cells and can cause anemia.

While all pets’ stomachs are different and some are more sensitive than others, some “ok” people food include:

  • Carrots
  • Small pieces of apple (NO seeds or core)
  • Green beans
  • Lean meats (avoid ham since very high in salt)

If you believe your pet may have ingested something toxic or unhealthy or if you are noticing any signs of digestive issues, please call the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County at (717) 652-1270.  If possible, please provide the following information when calling so the veterinarian can better help your pet:

  • Food ingested
  • Quantity
  • Pet’s approximate weight
  • Time of ingestion
  • Any signs of illness you are seeing.



Wishing you and your pets a very happy and healthy holiday season!!!

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Adopt a Senior Pet Month

November 22, 2016

By Daenna, AHDC tech

Happy November!

November is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s a month full of falling leaves, crisp breezes, Thanksgiving dinners, frost is starting to show up in the mornings.  Everyone is starting to get into the holiday spirit!  One of the really awesome things about November that many people don’t know is that it’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month!

shutterstock_100929733I don’t blame you for not knowing this, many people don’t.  However, I am here to tell you all about the benefits to having a senior pet and why you should consider adopting one if you are looking to add a new companion to your home.

A main benefit of adopting a senior versus a puppy/kitten is that you will know right away what their personality is like; you will see their full grown size so no need to upgrade crates, beds, and collars etc.., and their hairstyle is fully established so you will know what grooming needs they will have. These things all make it so easy to choose the perfect pet for your family, so no surprises in the future!

Another pretty awesome thing to consider is that their wild, crazy, jumping off the walls stage is over. This makes adopting a much smoother ride. They will be much better with children and it’s easier to train them or teach them new tricks if needed as they are more focused on you and not everything around them. Personally I think everyone could use a little calm in their life and these guys are perfect for that!

A big thing many owners of puppies and kittens don’t realize is how time consuming they are. Puppies require weeks of house breaking where they need to be taken outside every few hours, they need to be trained to walk on a leash, crate trained, litter box trained, socializing,  I could go on and on! Guess what? Senior pets don’t need any of that time! They are ready to go, many of them have lived in homes before going to the shelter so all these things have been previously learned!  Every pet will need some time adjusting to a new environment but as long as you are patient and encouraging with them that should be over very quickly.

shutterstock_199677845Do I have you convinced to run to your nearest shelter and adopt one of these special seniors?  Well before I get too ahead of myself I do need to point out the other side of adopting a senior pet to consider.  Some seniors have medical conditions that need daily medication, extra care, and more frequent vet visits. This should not deter you from adopting, just something to be sure to ask the shelter about just so you can by fully prepared for the care needed if there is a health condition.

If you are thinking of the hardship of getting attached to a friend that may not be around as long as a puppy or kitten would be, I choose to think of it in a different way.  These guys spend can spend double if not more time in shelters than younger animals, sadly with many of them being euthanized.  What greater gift could you give then to give a dog or cat well deserving of a good home an amazing last few years!  Senior pets are usually much more appreciative of the loving home that you have given them that some adopters don’t every go back to younger animals.  When I was volunteering at a shelter in Pittsburg, PA I heard of a couple who would come in every few months-years and adopt the oldest dogs/cats that were in the shelter.  I thought these people were amazing and what they were doing really was, but they swore to all the workers there that they were not giving the gift, they were receiving it. I didn’t need any more convincing than that.

Please remember to keep your heart and eyes open for the potential of adopting a senior pet next time you go to the shelter. You and your new pet will be glad you did!

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7th Annual Pictures with Santa

November 4, 2016


Animal Hospital of Dauphin County would like to

invite you to our 7th annual Pictures with Santa!


Sunday, December 4th from 1pm-4pm

Your pet’s picture will be taken with Santa by local photographer and client of AHDC, Terry Rowe, and then mailed to your home at no cost!

Snacks and drinks will be provided and pets will receive a gift from Santa and his elves!

Donations will be accepted for Castaway Critters, a local pet rescue, to help support their efforts in caring for pets in need.

JC with Santa

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Tech Talk: Before You Buy

October 18, 2016

By Dae Ceresini

What comes to mind when you hear the term “exotic pet?”  To many, it means any domesticated species that is not a dog or cat.  “Exotic pet” can mean anything from small mammals like rabbits, hamsters, or chinchillas to reptiles and birds such as iguanas, pythons, and parrots.  These fun and unique pets may be just what you need to complete your family.  As with any new family member, you want to first be sure there will be the right fit.

Today, we will focus on some important considerations to take before choosing to add a reptile or bird to your home.  There are many different species of reptiles and birds; and each one requires unique care.  It is crucial, before adopting one of these pets, to research to find out as much as possible about the care required by that specific animal.  You’ll want to give your new pet the best life possible, so here are some considerations to research and learn more about before making a decision:


    • What is the optimum temperature and humidity for your specific pet?

    • Is special lighting required? For example – UVB or heat lamps.

        • What type of bulbs are need to supply the appropriate lighting and heat, and how often do they need to be changed?

    • What type of substrate/bedding should be used in the enclosure?

    • How much water is needed in the enclosure, and how should it be supplied?

    • What dimensions should the enclosure be?

        • You will also want to consider how big your pet will get and how fast they will grow. Enclosures may need to be changed/upgraded to keep your pet happy and healthy.

    • Should nesting or private areas be incorporated into the set up?

    • Can the specific pet be housed with others of the same or different species, or does it need to be housed alone?

    • Where should the enclosure be kept in your home?

        • For example: It can be unsafe to keep birds in/near a kitchen as fumes from certain cookware can be harmful.

Chloe, a Moluccan Cockatoo, came in for a visit.
Chloe, a Moluccan Cockatoo, came in for a visit.


    • What food must be given to meet the nutritional needs of your pet for their lifetime? Some reptiles must be fed whole prey or live insects, so the potential owner would need to be comfortable with doing this.

        • Do adjustments need to be made as they age?

        • How must this food be kept? For example, how do you care for the crickets to be sure they are providing the best nutrition when ingested.

    • Frequency of feeding and amount of food required each feeding to keep your pet at an ideal weight and prevent possible health complications?

    • Are supplements needed and how should they be given?

        • Many reptiles require a multi-vitamin or calcium supplement

Dr. Balmer with Gunther the Snake
Dr. Balmer with Gunther the Snake

Other things to consider:

    • Lifetime costs?

        • Including: cost for pet itself, initial set-up of the enclosure, food, veterinary care, supplements, replacement/upgrade costs of enclosure, etc

    • General temperament/behavior?

        • Will this pet be a good fit for you?

    • Time needed/attention?

    • Common illnesses/problems to give preventative care and watch for?

    • Is there a vet in your area that sees your species of pet?

        • Dr. Balmer sees reptiles and birds at Animal Hospital of Dauphin County

This list serves as a cheat sheet of questions for you to consider before buying. It is also a good idea to talk to your AHDC veterinarian about any questions you may have. Be sure, when researching, that you are using accredited, verified sources. Below are a few recommended links: – reptiles – reptiles – small mammal, rabbits, and birds

Should you choose a new exotic pet, or if you need care for your current reptile or bird, Dr. Balmer will gladly see your pet!

Animal Hospital of Dauphin County also has several doctors, including Dr. Balmer, who sees small mammal “pocket pets”!

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Halloween Photo Contest

October 14, 2016
Calling All Halloween Lovers!
Send us a photo of your pet in a costume and you could win a $50 gift card to our hospital!


To enter:
Like our Facebook page and send us a direct message on Facebook with your pet’s photo by Sunday, October 23rd.

On Monday the 24th we will post all of the photos in an album and then voting will begin! Vote for your favorite photo(s) by “liking” them or using your favorite reaction. The photo with the most “likes”/”reactions” will be our winner and will be announced on October 31st!

We encourage you to share your picture, or the album, with your friends and family to increase your chances of winning.

Good luck and may the best costume win!

*One photo per pet. If you have won a contest more than once, we ask that you please split the prize with the 2nd place winner. To keep this lighthearted and fun, pictures shared to “like for like” groups or those similar, or others deemed unfair or inappropriate, will be disqualified.
AHDC - summer swigert - mason

2015 Halloween Contest Winner – Mason

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