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41 Morristown Road
Bernardsville, NJ 07924

(908) 766-0041

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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THE BAXTER BLOG

pet care knowledge, advanced pet care information, best pet care information, trustworthy pet care information

 

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 www.akc.org/find-a-match. 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!  

Beat The Boredom With Food Reward Toys

Lynn Alexy

There he goes: just sitting around the house with nothing to do again, just like yesterday.  No, not your teenager!, rather, your beloved canine companion.  Dogs have been human’s best friend for all of recorded history.  The canine’s distant relatives were pack hunters whose day comprised of searching and hunting for food.  This was physically and mentally challenging for our four legged companion.  She even helped out on the human hunting.  It kept our canine friends physically active, trim, and mentally sharp.  Fast forward to today: our dogs now eat ready-made food, dished out at predictable intervals in consumption-made-easy bowls, and now lunch and dinner are over in the blink of an eye.  They also spend a lot of time just resting and sleeping.  This makes for bored, overweight, and unhealthy dogs.  But we can make it better for them!

  Let’s talk about that dinner time.  Your dog’s brain is wired to chase and hunt FOR HOURS for her daily calories.  She needs that process to stay mentally sharp and physically fit.  Many behavior problems that we find among our pet dogs arise from a general lack of physical and mental activity.  Alas! To make your dog’s mealtime more “interesting” and stimulating, quit the preverbal bowl or plate you've been using forever and fully switch to feeding devices that require your dog to do a little thinking and lots of physical manipulating before being rewarded with a full meal.  These 'food-reward toys' or 'food-dispensing-gadgets' can be picked up at pet stores, online, or even made at home.  Some work like mazes or puzzles for your dog to complete.  A very simple home-made version is putting dry kibble in a used plastic soda bottle or gallon milk bottle (caps/rings removed for safety).  Hide the bottle and challenge your dog to find his dinner.  He must then figure out a way to get the kibble out.  Do I kick it? Or toss it in the air? Or bat it around the floor? These little, daily mental exercises will engage your dog’s natural curiosity and his instinctual need to “hunt” for his food. It will engage him in a new way, prolong the mealtime and increase satiety. You should make this switch for 100% of all meals. 

 

  There are many commercial options.  Among the favorites are ball-shaped devices that hold kibble inside and your dog must roll the ball around to have a piece of kibble fall out.  Others have finger-like projections that require your dog to lick out or pick at before eating. In addition to the commercial versions, at our house we cull from our recycle bin anything that we think might serve as a 1 or 2-time 'feeding toy' for our two dogs. It increases the variety of items and helps to spare the purse. Just remember to remove the small swallow-able parts first. One of the biggest benefits of feeding this way is preventing your dog from bolting her food.  This happens all too frequently, often in larger dogs, and can lead to digestive problems.

  Lastly, there is no substitute for daily and direct exercise.  Sure, it’s good for you, but it is vitally important for your dog.  It may be the only exercise he or she gets that day.  Your dog uses that experience to interact with the world, to learn and to gather new information.  So, grab your leash, grab your dog, go for a long stroll, and on return, feed him his lunch from a slow-release maze bowl or similar. Enjoy and Bon Appetite!