Agawam Animal Hospital

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Why shouldn’t I allow my dog to eat chocolate?

You shouldn't feed your dog chocolate because it contains two chemicals, caffeine and theobromine. These two chemicals can have a negative affect your dog’s nervous system. How your dog is affected by the chocolate depends on your pet’s weight, size, and how much chocolate has been consumed. “Baker’s” or bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder are the most harmful types of chocolate. Most chocolate candy, such as milk chocolate, is not pure chocolate. If your dog does  eat chocolate, call the vet hospital immediately for advice. Be on the look out for the following symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors, hyperactivity, restlessness, and seizures. If any of these occur you should seek immediate treatment.

What should I do if another animal has bitten my pet?

Bite wounds are a common occurrence among animals and are always contaminated. Innocent puncture wounds can often result in major abscesses or systemic infections. Cleaning the wounds with an anti-bacterial soap and warm water will help but you should still consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Do not use astringents like alcohol and tincture of iodine as these can cause severe burning and irritation to your pet.

Why is dental care important for my pet?

Dental care is as important for pets as it is for humans. Poor dental care can lead to problems such as:

    * Prolonged pain, which can cause behavioral changes and difficulty eating
    * Tooth abscesses and the loss of one or more teeth
    * Chronic infections
    * Lowered resistance to various viral and bacterial infections
    * Potentially life threatening heart, liver and kidney infections.

What plants are poisonous to pets?

There are a large amount of plants and trees that are poisonous to pets. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( is a great source to find information about, which type of plants would be best to place inside your home and garden for your pets. If your pet has eaten a plant and you require immediate assistance you can call ASPCA poison control directly at (888) 426-4435 (there is a charge for phone consultations).

What should be done if my pet eats rat poison? (Anticoagulant)

Rat bait is made to be very palatable, which can sometimes result in your pet eating it. The poison contains an ingredient, which prevents the blood from clotting. If your pet has eaten rat poison call the hospital immediately. Some symptoms of rat poison include anemia, bleeding, pale mucous membranes or sudden collapse. It is important to know that symptoms from rat poisoning can take 2-3 days to appear but you should still have your pet checked out immediately. There are two common forms of rat poison that require two VERY different types of treatment, therefore it is advised that you bring the poison packaging with you when bringing your pet in to the vet hospital.

Why does my dog chew and lick his paws?

Chewing and licking of the paws and/or scratching of the stomach are often a sign of allergies in pets. This type of allergic reaction may be food related but is commonly due to environmental allergens like grasses, molds, trees and even human dander. These allergies can be seasonal or year round. Constant licking and chewing can cause recurrent skin infections, which may require antibiotics for treatment. A Skin cytology and/or culture should be performed to determine what type of infection is present and what antibiotic would be best for treatment.

Why does my dog seem to be constantly getting ear infections?

Some dog breeds are more prone to ear infections than others due to their ear structure, which allows bacteria and yeast to grow. Ear infections are sometimes allergy related, especially food allergies. Food allergies are difficult to diagnose because testing for them can be inaccurate. If your pet has allergies, speak with your veterinarian before trying a new diet. Your veterinarian may recommend a custom “home cooked” diet trial or a prescription hypoallergenic diet. Antibiotics and topical ear medications are usually the needed treatment.

My Chihuahua (or other small breed dog) sometimes limps on its back legs, why does he/she do this?

Many small breeds (ie- Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Malteses, Poodles, Yorkies, etc) have a congenital condition called “Luxating Patellas”. This is a condition causes the patella of your dog to “pop” out of its joint very easily. Early-on these puppies will occasionally limp when this happens, but as they grow older they become accustomed to their knee “popping” out their joint and it becomes hardly noticeable. On the other hand some small dogs knees are so bad that they remain very unstable. These pets can develop early arthritis due to the constant rubbing of the knee cap on the top of the tibia (shin bone). In severe cases, surgery is recommended to stabilize the knee cap and thus, stabilize the knee joint to prevent the early arthritis from setting in. If your dog is limping a lot, or appears in pain, you should seek out your veterinarian's advice immediately.

Can I take my puppy out in public before it has reached 16 weeks old?

Puppies are quite susceptible to infection as the anti-bodies from mom are weaning and their immune system is maturing and being stimulated from the series of vaccines given by your vet. Parvo Virus, which attacks the intestines of young puppies is a common concern amongst new parents.  This virus can live in your dogs intestines for months. For this reason, taking your new pup to an environment where you are unaware of the other pets that have been there can be risky. If you must take your pup somewhere, always carry your pet in a pet carrier, even when coming to the vet. Socialization, however is very important for your pup. Studies have shown that dogs do their most important learning between the ages of 7 - 12 weeks of age. Socializing in a positive environment with friendly, fully vaccinated, and fully healthy pets is very important.

Is your animal companion receiving the best care available? At our vet hospital, we treat all of our patients with the latest techniques and technology. Find out for yourself by calling us at 413.786.4440 or simply use our convenient Request An Appointment form. We serve the areas of Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield and Agawam in Hampden County, MA and Suffield, CT.