All posts by cvp

February is National Dental Month!


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.

Stay vigilant for National Dental Month to make sure your dogs stay healthy.

Dog breath does not have to be bad.

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.

Strangers And Your New Puppy

Strangers-And-Your-New-PuppyMany 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 example, fear barking. Our lack of action has now taught our dog to potentially be aggressive to new people and places. We need to start the process of of getting  strangers and your new puppy in a safe environment for both of them.

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.

Sugarless Foods

Sugarless-FoodsWith 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 foods, including 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 Sugarless Foods with Xylitol, mostly 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.

Holiday Safety Tips

By Heather Zimmerman

The holidays are right around the corner. So, 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.  Our holiday safety tips are focused on letting your pet under the dinner table without getting to potentially dangerous food.

Vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach may be just a start. More serious diseases such as pancreatitis, organ disease, and other illnesses can result from letting them eat anything they can get. This may lead to hospitalization in the most extreme cases.

Holiday Safety TipsIf 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. Macadamia nuts first were found in Australia. They are currently grown in Hawaii, California, and Mexico. For a full history, you could read a history of Macadamia Nuts.

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 your pet is dedicated and tricky enough then they might have outsmarted our Holiday Safety Tips. You may believe that your pet may have ingested something toxic or unhealthy or if you are noticing any signs of digestive issues then you should contact us. 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!!!

                  Adopt a Senior Pet Month

                  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!

                  Adopt a Senior Pet MonthI 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 Adopt a Senior Pet Month important to give these old friend 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 Adopt a Senior Pet Month 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!

                  7th Annual Pictures with Santa


                  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.

                  Tech Talk: Before You Buy

                  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.


                    • 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

                  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”!

                  Halloween Photo Contest

                  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.

                  2015 Halloween Contest Winner – Mason

                  An Inside Look at the Path to Veterinary Medicine

                  Hello everyone!

                  My name is Rachel Orth, and for almost a year now, I have been helping out at the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County. What started as an internship during the school year turned into a summer position as a technician assistant. Both of these roles have been wonderful opportunities for me to get a “behind-the-scenes” look at what it is like to be a veterinarian and work with animals! My goal is to go on to veterinary school after finishing my undergraduate studies and one day don my own white lab coat and stethoscope.

                  Like many aspiring veterinarians, my story follows the “I’ve loved animals ever since I was little” cliche. I cannot recall a defining moment when I first started dreaming about working with animals. However, I’ve never wanted to be anything else. There has always been at least one pet in my house, including different dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, and a turtle. Right now, I have 2 cats, who provide plenty of companionship (and entertainment). I started asking my own vet about the career before I was in middle school.

                  In preparation of my future career, I took as many science courses and electives as I could, including AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology. During my internship with AHDC, I spent 2-3 hours after school at the hospital cleaning tables and rooms, stocking various supplies, and holding patients for the technicians. Fortunately my internship turned into a summer position! As such, I have been able to continue helping around the hospital and observing the veterinarians!

                  All in all, my time here at the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County has shown me that this is what I want to do in life. Despite all of the challenges on the way through veterinary school as well as all of the difficulties of practicing medicine once out, I still see this as a fulfilling and worthwhile career. Science and animals are two things I love, and it is a wonderful feeling to be able to help a sick pet get better. There is also the fact that each day has the potential to bring new experiences. This is a field in which you have to continue to learn and be willing and able to adapt to new, possibly tough situations. With all of this and more ahead of me, I am more than excited to take the next step. Wish me luck!

                  Rachel Orth

                  Tech Talk: Bringing the Heat

                  Tech Talk: Bringing the Heat

                  By: Heather Zimmerman
                  Kioki and Nishibi - my adorable shell covered children

                  Hi, this month we wanted to give you some general information about the importance of temperature control for our reptile pets and patients.

                  When it comes to cats and dogs, besides temperature extremes, we don’t think much about the temperature of their environment.  Basically, if we are comfortable, so are they. heatThis rule does not apply with our scaly patients.  Reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards) are cold blooded and therefore rely entirely on environmental temperature control.  Mammals sweat, pant, loose some layers if too hot and shiver or put on a coat if cold, but reptiles need to correct their body temperatures by relocating along environmental temperature gradients.  What’s a temperature gradient you ask?  Well, in the outside world it is the difference in temperatures from 1 area to another.  Any given area has several temperature gradients.  Take your yard for example:  Under the tree, in the sun, under the ground, in a puddle.  Although these areas can all be within feet of each other, they all have different temperatures.  Things are a little less complicated when it comes to our pets’ cages but we still try our best to provide a variety of temperature gradients by having warmer and cooler ends of a cage as well as hiding and basking spots for them to choose from.

                  So what is the ideal temperature for your pet?  Short answer…it depends.  Every species has their preferred optimal temperature zone (POTZ).  This is the temperature range that allows them to function at their best and is based on their natural habitat, ie where they live in the wild.  There are many resources available to determine your reptile species POTZ, including which contains a lot of general reptile information.

                  Using the POTZ, you can determine how to set up your pet’s environment.  The low end of the range should be the temperature of the “cooler” end of the tank and the high end should be the temperature in the “hot” end or basking area.  Often the POTZ, may change at night or seasonally which also should be taken into account to best care for your reptile.

                  Besides maintaining the reptile’s comfort, proper temperature control is important for many other reasons.  If reptiles are too cold, they will become sluggish.  It also causes their immune systems, digestive system, and other important body functions to not function correctly.  Reptiles often will not eat is too cold and even if they do, their bodies cannot process the nutrients.  Reptiles kept outside of their POTZ are often smaller and get sick more easily.

                  One last word of caution.  Not all heat is created equally.  There are many ways to control the temperature of your pet’s enclosure but there are those out there that can be dangerous.  Avoid heat rocks and other direct heat sources as these can cause thermal burns.  You also want to make sure any lights or other heat sources are out of reach of your reptile.  Lamps on top of the enclosures lid are often the safest, as well as heating pads placed under the tank on medium or low if lights alone do not maintain a correct temperature.

                  branchAHDC recommends annual wellness exam and husbandry checks for our reptile patients.  Call to schedule yours with Dr. Balmer so we can make sure you are “bringing the heat.”