Starting the New Year with a bang

*The following information has been provided by Dr. Phil Zeltzman, a board-certified veterinary surgeon from Whitehall, Pennsylvania as a courtesy to goodnewsforpets readers. The following article is only for the sharing of knowledge and information; it is not intended to replace consultation of a veterinarian or other qualified pet care professional. To subscribe to his newsletter click here

I am thrilled to inform you that I wrote an article in Dog Fancy.
If you would like to read about pain management, you can pick up the February 2010 issue.
That’s the one with the cute Lhasa Apso on the cover.

20 New Year resolutions for a happier pet

Excellent pet care doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Using common sense and following a few basic tips can keep your pet healthy and happy for a long time.

1. Taking your pet to the vet once a year is outdated
Health experts now recommend a checkup every 6 months, especially for older pets. The goal is to detect health issues earlier. How so?
For example, it is not unusual for my referring vets to find a mass in the belly (in the spleen or the liver for example), or an anal sac, or on the gum line, or on the skin, during a “routine” physical exam. Whether the mass is benign or malignant, the sooner it is removed, the better for your pet.
2. Keep your pets up to date on vaccines
Please don’t fall into the “my pet never leaves home” trap. If your pet ever needs basic medical treatment, emergency care or surgery, (s)he could catch a deadly disease at the hospital.
In addition, rabies vaccination may be the law where you live.
3. Stay on top of dental care
It’s not just a matter of bad breath. It’s also a way to prevent tooth decay, loss of teeth, pain, and infections spreading to the heart, the liver and the kidneys.
4. Take parasite control seriously
Parasites can be both internal (ie intestinal worms and heart worms) and external (ie fleas and ticks). You would be surprised to know how many pets which end up on our surgery tables have fleas!And no, they did not catch them at our hospital!
5. Keep track of your pet’s medical history
It doesn’t need to be fancy. A simple notebook will do. I am always surprised when I ask simple question about a pet’s medical history and the owner answers “I don’t know.” You owe it to your pet!
If you don’t understand something, please ask your vet or the nurse. That’s what we’re there for.
6. Medications are prescribed for a reason
Please give them as directed. Finish the full course, especially antibiotics. Don’t give them to another pet without being directed by your vet. Actually, please don’t give any medication not approved by your vet, starting with aspirin.
Just this past week, I had 2 patients whose owners had given them some Advil (ibuprophen)!!! It’s toxic to pets!
7. Keep your pet thin
Chubby pets are at risk for a number of diseases, and statistically die on average 2 years earlier than thin pets.
Just this week, I saw yet another pet who is limping. The client was hoping for a surgical solution. Or a magic pill. The poor dog’s main problem was in fact obesity, which makes his arthritis worse.
8. Keep your pet on a leash
Keep the collar snug. Use pet identification. Make sure there are no holes in your fence.
Don’t let your pet get hit by a car.
9. Spay your female pet
We’ve discussed the benefits previously: When done before 6 months of age, it virtually eliminates the risk of breast cancer and totally eliminates the risk of infection of the uterus (pyometra).
10. Neuter your male pet
In a previous newsletter, we saw that it eliminates or dramatically reduces the risk of many diseases (prostate, testicles, perineal hernia etc).
It also decreases the urge to run away.
11. Pet proof your house
Especially be careful in “at risk” rooms: kitchen, bathroom, garage. There are countless poisons throughout the house, so store them in locked cabinets.
12. Cats love playing with strings or ribbons
They will sometimes even swallow them. They can be deadly as they cut through the intestine. Dogs are not immune to this common problem!
13. Exercise with your pet
Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s good for both of you, and it is great to bond with your pet. If you have a cat, playing with a laser is an easy way to provide lots of fun!
14. “Pet your pet” often
This will help you notice skin lumps and bumps early. And please do not procrastinate to have them tested or removed.
15. Every pet should have some manners
OK, dogs should. Forget about (most) cats, they do as they please anyway.
Dogs should have some basic obedience, should know a few rules (“Don’t bark frantically in an exam room”, “Don’t bite the nice doctor”), and should know that you are the boss. You are, right?
If you’re not too sure, ask your family vet or a behaviorist (
16. Consider saving a life this year
Adopt a cat or a dog from your local shelter or Humane Society.
And stay tuned. We will soon talk (again) about puppy mills and how you can be part of the solution.
17. People food is for people!
Feed pet food to pets! Choose a quality, balanced, reputable brand.
I recently talked to a little old man with a grossly obese Golden who insisted that he only feeds 2 “cups” of food twice daily. “That’s it, Doctor, I swear.” Turns out the “cup” is a plastic container large enough to feed 3 Great Danes!
And how about Az, the Lab with laryngeal paralysis who weighs 140 pounds? And Titus, the 250 pound Mastiff who needed a TPLO on both knees to address his ACL tears? The list could go on…
Luckily for Az and Titus, they had smart and loving owners who realized their mistake and did the right thing: they put their dogs on a weight loss diet.
18. Don’t “kill with kindness”
Rather than more food, all your pet really needs from you is more time and more love.
19. Stay informed
You owe it to your pet. My web site, is hopefully a good start. There is reliable information about hundreds of conditions and medical topics.
I will also humbly try to share what I know and what I learn in this newsletter over the coming year. One of my resolutions in 2010 is to bring you more information from a variety of sources and specialists.
What’s in store? Info on laryngeal paralysis, ear care, eye care, cat behavior, surgery, nutrition, intoxications, arthritis, anesthesia, pain management, physical therapy, pet insurance and much more!
20. Whom can you trust?
There is a lot of junk on the Internet. Often bad advice. Sometimes quite dangerous. Another great way to stay informed is to visit trustworthy web sites. Some of our buddies include: – search for “Veterinarian” and get answers to your questions about timely pet information where questions are answered by vets

An amazing sight
Ever been to Scotland? When you do, you may be able to witness this rare natural phenomenon.
It will take 4 minutes of your time.

I sincerely wish you, your family and your pet(s) a very happy, healthy, peaceful and recession-proof New Year.

Let’s make it a great year!


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