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Bernardsville Animal Hospital is a small animal veterinary hospital in Bernardsville, New Jersey. Our mission is to provide top-notch medical, surgical, and dental care to our patients.



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Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Lynn Alexy


Halloween is right around the corner! A night to dress up, have some candy, spook some people, Halloween can be a fun event for your family and your pets! However, including your pet in Halloween festivities requires some precautions. If several safety precautions aren’t followed, Halloween will not be fun, but a hazardous time for our four-legged friends.

As reports from the Poison Helpline show, calls increase by 12 percent on the week of Halloween, making this week one of the busiest times of the year. Avoid having to be one of the callers and protect your pet from any harmful situations on what should be one of the most fun filled nights of the year!

Here are some tips that are practical, yet potentially life-saving for your pet on Halloween:

1. Picking a safe costume. If you choose to dress up your pet, a simple approach is a safer approach. Pets can easily become tangled in elaborate, costumes with parts like strings, ties, belts and sashes. Tight fitting costumes can result in difficulty in mobility, which can lead to bodily injuries and even strangulation. Parts of a costume can become chewed and ingested and can in turn potentially lead to foreign body ingestion which can be life threatening to your pet.

2. Halloween Decorations and Fire Hazards. If you like to decorate your home in the Halloween spirit, take into consideration what you’re putting on display and where the decorations will be placed. Easy-to-reach decorations — or candles — can be eaten or knocked over, potentially leading to choking, foreign body ingestion, electrical shock and even burns and a household fire.

3. Watch what they eat! Candy and chocolate are never good for dogs or cats and on Halloween there is an increased chance that Fluffy and Fido may consume treats meant for tricksters. Chocolate and Xylitol, a sweetener found in many candies, can be extremely toxic to pets. Lollipops Sticks can be choking hazards and cause a painful obstruction to your pet. Candy wrapping can also lead to chocking or cause an obstruction and upset stomach.

4. Solutions to prevent your pet from ingesting these harmful items:

* Keep pet-safe treats on hand to satisfy your curious pet.

* Make sure all candies are out of your pet’s reach

5. Lost Pets. Halloween is not the best time to allow your pet to wander. Take precaution and keep all pets indoors under supervision and if needed to escort them outside, make sure they are on a leash. Sudden noises and strange-looking costumes can also spook your pet, causing them to run away, so taking precaution is the best move during the Halloween festivities. Make sure your pet has their tags with all information required in case of emergency.

6. Know who to call. Don’t wait to have your pet treated in the case of an emergency. Locate a 24-hour veterinary clinic if your family veterinarian is not available.

If you suspect your pet has consumed a toxic substance during Halloween and you can’t see your veterinarian, contact the Pet Poison Helpline, a 24-hour service* that assists pet owners, veterinarians and veterinary technicians who are treating potentially poisoned pets.


The Perils Of Dr. Google

Lynn Alexy

By James Baxter, DVM

  Have Siri and Dr. Google become your new family Doctor?  While we like our clients to be well informed, leaving medical decisions up to the internet can be risky at best.  With the world’s information just a click away, it’s natural to turn to a search engine to troll for answers to even your medical questions. But beware.

  The reality is not so simple.  For example, a recent search for a common condition announced “this condition may be minor and benign, but can be more serious and life-threatening.”  How can you tell? If you want it to be minor, the answer is right there in the first line.  You can and will find any answer you are looking for.  But you should be careful: How up-to-date is the information, and is it from a recognized authority? How do you know which is fact and which is opinion? Much of the information on the internet is a single person account or anecdotal, and most of the time many years old.  Your veterinarian receives continuing education every year and has the newest and most relevant medical knowledge.   

 Your doctor also has the experience that a chat room or community blog can’t readily draw upon.  Your pet can’t talk, so she needs the experience of a veterinarian who can look, touch, listen and examine her in person.  So much of our diagnoses come from getting a detailed history before the exam.  Knowing the right question is often the only way to reach the right answer.  Neither the internet nor the phone can adequately substitute for these three elements that synergistically combine during an actual appointment to offer the best route for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

By and large, we love the internet.  We use email reminders, and our website has great information for you and your pet.  But if a health issue is significant enough to pick up a smart phone for advice, call the live doctor instead of the virtual one.

 Speaking of live doctors: We are proud to introduce Dr. Nick Oakley to our practice.  He recently moved to the Somerset Hills from Prince Edward Island, Canada, and will join us this June.  Dr. Oakley brings a fresh perspective and an interest in exotic pet medicine.  Owners of birds and guinea pigs, rabbits or reptiles will now have a wonderful doctor close by.  Dr. Oakley was president of his veterinary class all four years and brings his enthusiasm and sharp medical mind to our well-rounded team.  Help us Welcome Dr. Nick! 

 I will finish with some interesting facts: Cats can make over 100 sounds, while dogs can make only about 10.  What’s the most popular dog breed in the USA? The Labrador Retriever.  How do I know? I googled it.

Prepping For A Puppy: The Road To Success

Lynn Alexy

By Vedrana Gjivoje, DVM

I’ve been a veterinarian for 22 years, a wife for 20 and a mother for almost 18. In that time span I’ve raised 8 dogs and over 15 cats of my own and have ‘medically ministered’ to well over 5000 dogs, lots from puppyhood. Over these years, I’ve been able to look back, like a Monday morning QB, to observe and assess the good and the bad of getting a new puppy. As such, I’ve come up with a short list of do’s and don’ts to enhance your experience and maximize your success in a short and concise fashion. I’ve drawn on my experiences as a medical practitioner as well as an ‘in the trenches’ dog owner and member of a bustling household. I share it with you now, in January, to give you ample time to cogitate and prep for the upcoming spring. 

1. First and most importantly, figure out what kind of dog breed might best suit your personal or family profile BEFORE committing to a specific puppy: not all dogs or all breeds are suitable for all people or all families. Numerous websites exist to help you maneuver a match, including Also, please consider the mixed-breed puppies offered through shelters and rescue groups, as they abound. 

2. If you have young children, consider waiting until the youngest is at least 7-8 so he/she can reliably follow instructions, offer some assistance, and contribute less to overall chaos. 

3. If you have kids under 10, plan extra training time into your life schedule, as you will need to train both the puppy AND your children, daily, to ensure the smoothest path with the greatest success. 

4. For purebred puppies, ask any prospective breeder for 3 references (one being their veterinarian) BEFORE you commit to the puppy. Try to select a breeder near enough so you can physically go meet the litter and select the puppy yourself rather than choosing from a photo or letting the breeder chose for you. Do your homework upfront. 

5. Choosing temperament: within a litter of puppies, best to pass on the shyest and the most exuberant. Choose a socially outgoing pup with medium exuberance. 

6. Best time of year to get the puppy is in the spring and early summer: this gives you longer days and warmer temps to aid in the toilet training and exercise process. It’s much easier taking your puppy out at 5 am in balmy June than in frigid or snowy January. 

7. Use a crate: It will stream-line toilet training, give your pup a cubby hole, and provide safety for your furry bundle and your house/belongings.

8. Exercise your puppy every day and until he is spent. A tired puppy is a good puppy and will be less destructive and more compliant to your training.

9. Plan to attend a local offering of Puppy Kindergarten ASAP,  a unique and developmentally time sensitive puppy class offering a triple benefit: basic obedience, interaction and socialization with other puppy ‘peers’ through which your pup will learn how to be a well-adjusted dog, and socialization to other humans (the various puppy owners)

10.  Be consistent: all family/household members have to be on the same page about all aspects of the pup’s training and assimilation, otherwise the pup may receive conflicting info and become confused and harder to train.  

Once you pick your puppy, similarly pick a quality veterinary team to partner up with to see you through all your puppy’s pediatric health needs. 

There is so much more to this subject, but this is a great place to start. Enjoy and have fun!