Yearly Archives: 2015

Giving to Military Dogs

By Daenna Cerisini

The Holiday season is known to many as the season of giving; I know I always seem to get in the giving mood come this time of year! I enjoy giving to all of the people I love and care about – family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. The kind of giving I enjoy the most is charitable giving.

Military Dog 1

There are many ways of giving back or donating items for a good cause. This year, with the help of everyone here at AHDC, we were able to make an amazing care package to send to military dogs overseas. The package contained many dog care items including KONG toys, shampoo/conditioner, combs/brushes, doggy toothpaste, blankets, towels, travel food and water bowls, and many other items to help care for a group of 5 dogs that are currently serving at a U.S. military base. The dogs’ ages range from 2-11 years old; and their tasks include explosive detecting/training and protecting designated troops.


Too many military dogs go without dog care items we easily have access to here. Donating items is a great way to give a little love to these pups across the globe. I know I can speak for the entire AHDC team when I say sending that the package gave us an immense amount of joy! There are many individuals and families that I think would love to donate items but are not quite sure how to go about it, the following is information on how to go about sending doggy care packages:


The United States War Dog Association, Inc.- A non-profit organization that sends packages to military dogs all over the world, packages are sent year round. Examples of items needed for care packages include: K-9 cooling mats, nail clippers, brushes, doggles, dog shampoo and toothpaste, and dog treats (made in USA only). This organization also collects items for dog handlers some of those items include: chapstick, sun block, gum, writing materials. For a full list of items accepted and address to send to visit their website

Military Dog 2

Operation K-9 Care Package– Has been sending care packages to US military dog teams since 2010, for a list of items and address of where to send visit their Facebook page listed as Operation K-9 Care Package.


Support Military Working Dogs– Their mission is to provide cooling vests, doggles, and other protective gear to help the military dogs in active war zones and extreme conditions. This organization only accepts checks or credit card donations. The gather the equipment themselves as this type of wear is specialty order items. The cost of one outfit for a military dog can cost more than $400.00, so any donation is greatly appreciated.

Winter Safety

By Dr. Zajac

Colder weather and the holidays will soon be here with hidden dangers for our pets. It is important to keep our furry friends safe and happy this season. Dangers for your pets can include plants, table foods, holiday decorations, and of course, colder weather.

Many people are aware that poinsettia can be toxic to dogs and cats, but did you know that many other decorative plants can cause health issues if ingested? Poinsettia, mistletoe, holly and Christmas cactus can all cause stomach upset and diarrhea if eaten. The leaves and flowers of the Amaryllis plant can also cause gastrointestinal upset, but ingesting the bulbs can lead to cardiovascular problems and seizures. Lilies, though not a traditional winter plant, can be deadly even if only small amounts are ingested by cats.

Other potential health hazards for our pets include gastrointestinal illness from eating table foods. Though it is fun to spoil our pets by giving them some of our traditional holiday meals, too much of a yummy thing can be deadly. Eating fatty foods like processed meats or chicken/turkey skin can cause pancreatitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms of pancreatitis include lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea (often bloody). Pancreatitis can also predispose our pets to diabetes in the future. Ingestion of onions can cause severe anemia in both dogs and cats. Do not feed table foods that contain onions or that have been cooked with onions.

Remember to keep potentially hazardous decorations and ornaments away from your pets. Tinsel and ribbons can cut through the intestinal lining if ingested and may require extensive surgery to repair. Glass ornaments can be broken, eaten or stepped on, potentially causing severe lacerations.

Winter holidays are a popular travel time for pets and their people. Remember that health certificates are required for most interstate travel. This is a document signed by your veterinarian ensuring that your pet is healthy enough to travel and is not bringing potentially harmful diseases or parasites to the destination. Usually a rabies vaccine and some type of flea preventative is required for interstate travel. Remember to keep up with your flea/tick and heartworm preventives even through the winter months. Fleas can still live inside where it is nice and warm, and many parasite eggs can continue to live in the soil and mulch around our houses.

If you have pets that live outdoors, provide a shelter that protects against wind and precipitation. Always make sure that fresh water is available and that the water bowls are not covered with ice.

Have fun with your pets this holiday season, and remember to keep them safe, happy and warm. Happy holidays!

Anesthesia and Surgery at AHDC

Hi friends,

Having been declawed, neutered, and undergone several dental procedures, this cat has had multiple run-ins with anesthesia. While some of my experiences happened before I came to AHDC, I wanted to let everyone know a little bit about what my vet and tech friends do to keep your pets safe and pain free.


  • Before any of your pets are anesthetized, my vets check their bloodwork to be sure there are no underlying issues that may need to be addressed or if any anesthesia adjustments are needed before going “under the knife.”
  • We (sometimes I supervise) individualize all anesthetic plans based on your pet’s age, health, and energy level; and also based on the procedure being done. We also use the safest anesthesia out there. Many of the drugs we use are also used in people since we pets are equally important!
  • We are all about the pain meds! My technicians want all the animals to be comfy and cozy before, during, and after surgery. All the surgery patients get a little something to take the edge off before surgery and help prevent pain during and afterwards. Sorry parents, we can’t prescribe anything for your nerves, just your pet’s. After surgery, everyone who needs it gets pain medications for the next couple days after surgery. And if your pup or kitty is still painful, all you have to do is call and we will do our best to fix that.
  • While your friend is under anesthesia, the awesome AHDC technicians are closely watching all the vitals (heart, blood pressure, oxygen level, etc). They stay with your pet from beginning to end to make sure they are safe and make any adjustments needed.
  • I don’t remember how or when I was declawed, but any kitten or cat declawed at AHDC is kept as comfortable as possible. Before the procedure, they have a nerve block around their tootsies to prevent any sensation during the procedure. My vets use a surgical laser which really helps minimize the trauma and bleeding during the surgery. My cat friends heal so much faster and generally are ready to get back to their normal routines (but just because they feel they are ready, doesn’t mean they are just yet).
  • I have had at least 2 dental cleanings and several teeth extracted. My doctors take xrays of my teeth while I’m asleep to make sure they catch any disease under my gums. They can also do the same for your pet to be sure any dental issues are found and treated. That way your friend will have less mouth discomfort and a clean bill of dental health when they wake up and go home with you.

Basically, my AHDC people want all your pets/kids/friends to be as safe and comfortable as possible while undergoing procedures that can be a little scary for them and their parents.

National Animal Safety and Protection Month

Hi friends,

It’s time for me to get on my soap box again since October is National Animal Safety and Protection Month. We all know that sometimes we animals can be our own worst enemy. Most of us animals disagree that seeing the vet is necessary; and do we seriously need to get our temperatures taken?! To make matters worse, we like to hide our illnesses and get into things we shouldn’t. Is it really my fault that people food is so delicious and strings are so much fun to chew on? But hanging out around this hospital and seeing all the pups and cats that come through our doors has motivated me to give you some tips to keep your friends happy and healthy.

  1. We need to see the veterinarian at least once a year for preventative care. While I will never admit I said this, my doctor friends do know a thing or two about keeping us healthy. Older animals may even benefit from twice yearly visits. The vet can look your pet over and run bloodwork to check the parts of your pet they can’t see (like the kidneys, blood, etc) to make sure we aren’t hiding anything from you.
  2. We need a healthy, balanced diet. Certain people food may be ok in small amounts but the majority of our diet should be dog or cat food. Ask our vets if you are not sure what is best for your friend. Make sure to avoid any food that says “good for all life stages.” Our digestive system ages just like people and what we eat as babies shouldn’t be the same as when we grow up. I don’t see you going around drinking formula.
  3. Also certain people food can be dangerous to us. For example: onions, garlic, chocolate, alcohol, grapes. Basically anything delicious. This website can tell you even more.
  4. Keep us protected against creepy crawly bugs. This means on the inside and outside. Fleas and ticks carry horrible diseases and there are many internal parasites that can make us sick. Regular stool sample testing and year round flea, tick, and heartworm prevention help keep us bug free. And who wants bugs living on or in them. So GROSS!
  5. Keep things out of our reach that can hurt us. Much like baby proofing, you also need to puppy and kitten proof. We love to chew things to make sure we aren’t missing out on something that may taste delicious. This includes plants, socks, underwear (I know its gross, but we can’t help ourselves), trash, medicine, and strings. So many options to chew on! Risks for us include intestinal obstructions, toxicities, and getting in big trouble by our parents. Make sure to keep anything that isn’t for us out of our reach and in a safe place. If you aren’t sure if the house plant is ok for us to take a little nibble, visit this site.

But as always, if you have any questions or concerns call my friends here at AHDC. They’re always happy to help!

We Now See Birds and Reptiles!

Dr. Balmer is now seeing birds and reptiles at our hospital!

At Animal Hospital of Dauphin County, we recommend scheduling yearly wellness exams for all birds and reptiles so we can help you keep your fun pet as healthy and happy as possible. Dr. Balmer will also be glad to see your bird or reptile for a problem exam if your friend is feeling sick or is hurt. As such, in addition to your donations of old towels and blankets, we will now also accept any perches or enclosures you no longer have use for. Our patients appreciate your thoughtfulness in helping to keep them as comfortable as possible during their time with us.

Call us at 717-652-1270 or click here to schedule an appointment today. For all first time reptile and bird patients, we have history forms that will need to be filled out prior to the appointment time. You can find them on our website here, or plan to arrive at the Hospital 15 minutes before your appointment time to fill them out.

Hay, Hay, Hay!

Did you know that most diseases and problems in our pocket pets can be avoided through proper nutrition? This is especially true in our rabbits and guinea pigs because both of these critters are hindgut fermenters. In hindgut fermenters, essential nutrients are not effectively absorbed as food moves through the small intestines. This makes timothy hay the best food source for rabbits and guinea pigs, and is why they ingest their own feces!

Odd as it may seem to their human companions, rabbits and guinea pigs receive valuable nutrition from their stools. Rabbits produce soft night time stools called cecotrophes which are a major source of vitamin B as well as other nutrients necessary for a rabbit’s overall health. Even though guinea pigs don’t produce the cecotrophes like rabbits, the practice of coprophagy, eating their stool, is seen in guinea pigs for similar health benefits.

Timothy hay not only helps the intestines maintain the ideal population of bacteria, it also helps these small mammals wear down their teeth to maintain a proper weight. Adding a few fruits and vegetables into their diets can be appropriate, especially for guinea pigs that require daily vitamin C. However, the bulk of their diet should be hay.

You may have come across pellets formulated for rabbits and guinea pigs that often contain timothy hay. This hay is processed and not as beneficial to the teeth and intestines as regular timothy hay. Therefore, it is better to feed only small amounts of these pellets. We don’t recommend giving cereals or any salty or sugary snacks since these can cause an upset stomach and obesity.

At Animal Hospital of Dauphin County, we care about your pocket pets and want to help you ensure they are receiving the correct nutrition. In order to help you with this, we recommend yearly wellness exam visits. Click here to schedule an appointment for your pocket pet, or call us at 717-652-1270!

And remember to feed hay, hay, hay!

National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day


Today is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. I know what you’re thinking…”That can’t actually be a real thing.” Well it is and it’s an important day for us cats. While some of us may protest, here are a couple reasons why you should bring your feline friend to see me at AHDC:

  • We age much faster than you.

1 of your years is about 5-7 of ours. This is why it is so important that we see the doctor at least once a year.

  • We are excellent at hiding our symptoms.

We cats do not want to appear weak, we are far too noble for that. So unfortunately we also do not like anyone to know when we don’t feel well. This is why we need to see the vet regularly even if we appear healthy. The sooner our diseases are caught with examinations and bloodwork, the more easily they can be treated or controlled.

  • We need vaccines too.

Like dogs, it is PA state law that we are vaccinated for rabies. Even if we stay indoors. Just because we don’t go out, doesn’t mean things don’t come in. My vet friends also recommend the feline combo vaccine (FVRCP) to save us from a variety of upper respiratory viruses.

  • Cats are awesome.

Isn’t this one obvious? We are just so good looking and I think my people at AHDC deserve to be graced with our presence as much as possible. We just brighten up the hospital. 🙂

For ways to help you get your cat friend into his or her carrier, watch me and Dr. Balmer star in the below video!

How to Get Your Cat into a Carrier

International Cat Day/Spoil Your Dog Day



Today is International Cat Day. Do you know what that means?! A whole day just to appreciate how wonderful us cats are! Best day ever!!! I could deal with a little less “appreciation” from my AHDC family though. And even though I think cats should be appreciated the other 364 days a year also, I’ll share this “lovely” attention with my canine friends. Get ready pups, Spoil Your Dog Day is 48 hours away (August 10th). Steer clear of the people food, though, moms and dads or you will be making a visit to my vet parents for puppy indigestion.

IMG_3019 Dr. Balmer giving me lots of kisses!

Summer Care Tips

By Dr. Zajac

Summer is in full swing and that means ice cream, days at the beach, and lots of fun outdoors. But the summer heat can pose serious risk to our furry friends. Animals can be prone to heat stroke if not kept at a cool temperature. Heat stroke can be potentially fatal but can be prevented. It affects virtually all of the organs, especially the brain, kidneys, liver and gastrointestinal tract. Heat stroke occurs when an animal is not able to regulate its body temperature due to high environmental temperatures or overexertion. Certain medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, seizure disorders, laryngeal paralysis and other respiratory disorders can all increase the risk as well. Breeds that have a short nose or “squished” face are also at higher risk. Heat stroke can be easily prevented by following these tips:

NEVER allow your pet in the car without the air conditioner going. Air temperatures inside cars can quickly rise during these hot days, even with the windows partially down.

Always have plenty of fresh cool water available.

If your pets must be kept outside, make sure they are able to find shade at all times. Do not rely on a covered dog house to provide shade; they can become just as hot as cars with no air flow.

Walk dogs during the cooler parts of the day, usually morning or evening.

If your pet does get overheated, DO NOT use ice or freezing water to cool them off. This will make peripheral blood vessels constrict, causing the core body temperature to remain elevated. You can use cool or tepid water on the skin and coat. Place your pet in front of a fan, not an air conditioner, and provide cool water. Put the pet in the coolest or shadiest area available. Seek veterinary attention immediately if you think your pet is overheating, especially if your pet is having difficulty breathing, not responding to you, or is unable to stand or walk. Excessive salivation, vomiting or diarrhea after exercise can be other signs that your pet is overheating.

Contact your veterinarian for more information on summer care tips for you pets.

iStock_000013542160_Medium (2)