Mange Article

"You are getting under my skin is usually just an expression."  With the canine sarcoptic mange  mite,  it is actually literally true.  Canine sarcoptic mange is also called canine scabies. It can be a real nuisance for dogs and their owners, sometimes even causing a temporary severely itchy rash in people. It rarely affects cats and ferrets.


The mite is spread either through direct contact with an affected animal or through contact with fomites from an infected animal.  Fomites would include fur, skin cells, bedding. Foxes, coyotes, and dogs can transmit it to each other.  


The mite can eventually affect all of the skin on a dog's body, but often it is first noticed around the ears, armpits, abdomen, and legs.  The skin shows evidence of redness, scabs, hairloss, intense scratching, and sometimes blood. Affected dogs often eventually have trouble sleeping and keep their owners awake at night by scratching so much.  Just think how you would feel if you had mites literally burrowing under your skin and laying eggs in the tunnels they have created.


The first step to treating this problem is giving your veterinarian a very complete history of when the symptoms started, where your dog lives and plays and goes for walks, how intense the itching is, the flea/tick control you are using, and how many and which species of other pets are in your household.  Showing your vetwhere all of the skin lesions are located is also important.   Maybe skin scrapings will be done, but it is very difficult to even find the scabies mite on a skin scrape.  Sometimes, fur samples are taken to rule out other skin problems.  Many times veterinarians have to treat and monitor for response if they suspect scabies.  Even veterinary dermatologists only have about a 25% chance of finding the canine scabies mite.   First response will usually happen in 7 days, and will be noticeable by decreased scratching and scabs beginning to heal.


There are several prescription  products available for treating scabies and killing the mites. It usually takes about 6 weeks to clear the infection. Because it is contagious to other dogs and people, any other dogs with symptoms will have to be treated also, and affected humans will have to visit their physician for relief from the intense itch.  The sooner it is treated, the better for everyone involved.  We often see dogs who have been infested with the mite for months, and have extensive hairloss, scabs, skin infection, and intense itching. 


If the infestation has been present for awhile, then the veterinarian must also treat the skin infection with oral antibiotics, topical antibacterial and antifungal shampoo, and sometimes topical steroids for the intense itching.  


The other mange mite that dogs can have is the demodectic mange mite, and it is present in all dogs in minimal numbers. It lives in the hair follicles and oil glands of dogs.  It is not contagious to other dogs or people, but it can multiply and cause skin issues in certain breeds of dogs moreso than others.  Sometimes it multiplies due to environmental, immune, or nutritional stress.   These mites can also be treated by veterinarians with prescription products that are different than the ones used for scabies.  Dogs can get very serious cases of Demodex that require longterm treatment or even self-limiting, mild cases of Demodex that resolve on their own.  Dogs with demodectic mange are usually not itchy, but can be sometimes.  They often have to be treated with follicular flushing shampoos and oral antibiotics in addition to the products that kill the mites.  


The great news is that both types of mange are treatable today due to advances in veterinary medicine!





Dr Marisa Pepin-Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary housecall practice. They welcome your comments at

Spring Pet Tips Article

Now that the daffodils (toxic) are blooming and the Easter Lilies (Very, Very Toxic) begin to adorn our homes, we know spring is in the air! Spring is a great time for pets and pet parents. Just watch your pets to make sure they don’t eat toxic plants, flowers, pesticides, antifreeze, etc.  Blow the winter dust off the Frisbee  and ball and head out into the yard  and let your dog stretch his or her legs. Perhaps head to one of our great local parks with leash in hand and go for an extended walk. Cats of course really do not like Frisbees or walks in the park but they do enjoy looking out a screened window at all the  wild critters outside and probably dream about being a tiger. However, they do get a little angry if they see another cat outside in THEIR yard.

            Now that our pets are getting out and about, we should  make sure all of their preventive health matters are up to date. All dogs and cats need to be up to date on their rabies vaccination. Not only is it the law, it is just good common sense! Rabies does exist in our area and an exposure can happen to one of our pets, and we may not know or see any signs of illness in them for weeks or months.  Exposure can be as simple as a bat bite. The current rabies vaccinations are very safe and effective. Rabies, when it occurs, is always—except in one rare case—always fatal for people and animals.  So if your pet is not vaccinated,  why take a chance  --- get them vaccinated.

            There are many other vaccinations that are recommended for your pet. Today we taylor the  vaccination protocol based on the pets lifestyle. All dogs should be vaccinated with the Canine Distemper Combination vaccination and cats with the Feline Distemper Combination vaccination. There is also a Feline Leukemia vaccination for cats. For dogs there are vaccinations for Lyme Disease, Leptospirosis, Bordetella(or kennel cough) and Canine Influenza. Each one of these warrants its own column. We do not have  the space to do them justice in today’s column.  We have written columns on Lyme disease and Leptosporsis in the past. Our past columns are archived on our website Talk to your vet about what vaccinations are recommended for your furry friend.

All pets that go outside need to be on effective flea and tick control. Today we have some very effective products. There are oral pills for dogs and topical spot ons and collars for dogs and cats. Be sure to purchase the products on the recommendation of your veterinarian. Some over- the -counter products are not very effective and some have safety issues, especially for cats. Flea and tick shampoos are not recommended much anymore as they have no residual effect once you rinse them off, and the fleas and ticks can hop back on your pet. Dips and powders are not recommended anymore because we have much more safe and effective products these days. Indoor only  pets, if not kept on continuous flea and tick control, need to be frequently monitored for infestations by brushing with a flea comb. Flea combs are cheap and available at most veterinarians and pet shops.

All dogs should be on a heartworm prevention. This was discussed in detail in last month’s column.

Most importantly, get outside, enjoy the beautiful spring weather with your dog. Open the windows and let in some fresh air and your cat will thank you. Maybe sit a cat tree next to the window. With a few simple precautions, our pets and their people parents will have a wonderful spring!


Dr Marisa Pepin- Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents.They operate a mobile veterinary House Call Practice.


Rabies Article

This month we thought we would take a little deviation from the normal format of our column and discuss a personal event Dr. Slade had three weeks ago regarding rabies.  We all know that our pets should be vaccinated for rabies and  it is the law. Hopefully, we all keep our pets up to date.

            About a month ago one of my colleagues was presented with a  moderately fractious cat about six years old with a wound on its back leg. She x-rayed it and found a dislocated joint. She administered a rabies vaccination and gave a long-acting antibiotic injection. This kitty was presented by a couple who had been feeding this cat outside since it was a kitten, but until that day it was never presented for any veterinary care. The plan was that once the cat was stable enough from the infected wound, the injured leg would require surgery. The cat presented to me early the next week for a presurgical exam. At that point, though, the wound had not healed to the point that would have been expected. He also was now not eating, was wobbly in his other rear leg, and was very  calm. Actually, he was acting like a very nice kitty. I discussed further work up with the owner and had a long discussion with the owner about the possibility of rabies. The owner elected to hold off on any further workup and elected just to treat the dehydration that was present and start an appetite stimulant and think about things.

The next day they saw my colleague again and she explained to the owner that even if it was not rabies, the prognosis was poor. The following day the cat presented to me for euthanasia. The cat was presented to Animal Control for rabies testing. Several days later it was reported that the cat tested positive for rabies. The local health department contacted all who had contact with the cat. Since I had been previously vaccinated, I required two post-exposure vaccinations three days apart. The Carroll County Health Department is very knowledgeable as to the proper procedure in dealing with people who have had rabies exposure.  People who are  not vaccinated have a much more involved postexposure process. Since rabies is a fatal disease for pets and people,  it is nothing to fool around with. People in high risk professions should consider speaking to their local health department or health care provider to see if rabies pre-exposure vaccinations are recommended to them. High-risk people are often considered those in the veterinary profession, hunters, and avid outdoors people. All dogs, cats, ferrets and horses should be vaccinated. As for other animals, ask your vet.

             There were 335 cases of confirmed rabies across the state of Maryland in 2016, including 27 domestic cats.  Sometimes the only symptom is sudden death in a pet.   Since January 1st 2017, there have been an additional 10 cats who have tested positive for rabies in Maryland and 59 other animals.   Two of these cats resided in Carroll County.  Bats can enter people’s homes and bite indoor pets without owners even knowing about it.    Wild rabid animals can enter through dog and cat doors.   An elderly woman in Falls Church, Virginia, was recently  (March 2017) chased by a rabid fox who bit her all over her arms and legs, and then ran a mile away to attack and bite an owner’s pet cat. 

              If an animal or a person gets rabies, they die.  Post-exposure shots must be done right away after an exposure.   Everyone should thoroughly cleanse a bite wound from an animal right away with soap and water. It is your best first defense against rabies entering your body or your pet’s body.

            Please have all of your pets vaccinated against rabies even if they are completely indoor. You could save someone’s life  --- even your own.

Cushings Disease in Dogs Article

 We will discuss a  hormonal disease in dogs called Cushing’s Disease or hyperadrenocortism. This usually occurs in middle-aged to older small- to medium -sized dogs. It occurs when the body secretes too much cortisone. These dogs tend to drink and urinate more, develop  a pot belly, develop skin problems, and sometimes an increased appetite.   They are also more prone to diabetes.  The primary cause or presentation to the veterinarian is often  increased drinking and urinating.

            Upon presentation,  the veterinarian often checks  bloodwork and a urine sample. The bloodwork often shows an increase in a liver enzyme called Alkaline Phoshatase or ALP. The urine is often dilute. Once the history and screening labwork point in the direction of Cushing’s disease,  more needs to be done to confirm  Cushings.   If treated when not present,  Addison’s Disease or Hypoadrenocortisism  can develop, which can be life-threatening.

             A screening test  called a urine cortisol/ creatine ratio can be run on a free catch urine sample.   If this test is normal,  it rules out the diagnosis of Cushing’s. If it is elevated, more needs to be done to confirm the diagnosis of Cushings.  We often go right to a diagnostic test called a Low Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test.  This test requires the collection of three blood samples. Once the first sample is taken,  a small injection of a corticosteroid called dexamethasone is administered. Then a blood sample is drawn four and eight hours after the injection. In a normal animal,  the body would recognize the cortisone and turn down its normal production of cortisone. In a cushinoid animal,  the down regulation does not occur or occurs less than would be expected. This test also often distinguishes between the two types of Cushings. About 85% of these dogs have a brain-based problem in the pituitary gland.   About 15% of these dogs have an adrenal gland tumor. If an adrenal tumor is suspected, then abdominal ultrasound is indicated to confirm the adrenal tumor. If an adrenal tumor is found—depending on how advanced it is--- it can be removed by a surgical intervention. The pituitary masses could be confirmed by an MRI,  but this is rarely done.

            Treatment of Cushing’ s is a longterm commitment that is  expensive with the required medication and monitoring lab tests. There is a drug called Lysodren  and a newer drug called Trilostane.  Lysodren works by physically destroying the adrenal gland where the cortisone is being produced. The trick is destroying enough of the gland to make the signs of Cushings go away while not causing life-threatening Addisons Disease. When this medication is started, the pet’s appetite and water consumption needs to be monitored very closely by the owner. Usually a high dose of Lysodren is given for five to ten days followed by a different test called an ACTH stimulation test. An ACTH test is kind of the opposite of a Low Dose Dexamethasone test. Here we are trying to see how much cortisone we can get the body to produce rather than  trying to see how much we  can turn it down. Depending on the ACTH results, a low maintenance dose of Lysodren is given along with periodic ACTH testing to monitor how the pet is doing. Pets can come out of remission and require reinduction.

            Trilostane is often seen as safer but it still requires frequent monitoring with ACTH stimulation tests. A small percent of dogs on Trilostane can develop a non -reversible Addisons disease. If Addison develops and is not identified early, it can be life-threatening. These dogs will require life-long treatment for Addisons Disease.

            Cushings is a complicated  and expensive,  but treatable condition. It requires mandatory periodic blood testing.   Ask your veterinarian.


Dr Marisa Pepin-Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents. They operate a mobile Housecall practice. They welcome you coments at

Feline Infectious Peritonitis Article

One of the most heart-breaking diseases in feline medicine is a viral disease called  FIP or feline infectious peritonitis. Fortunately it is not real common. However, for those who have owned a cat with this disease, it is a diagnosis that probably hit you like a brick.  That is, you did not see it coming until your kitten or cat was very ill.  The highest incidence is in felines between 3 months and 2 years old.  Occasionally, older cats or middle –aged cats have this disease, but not usually. 


Typically, a kitten or young cat develops a high fever not responsive to antibiotics, has a potbelly appearance with yellow fluid in its abdomen and/or granulomas in abdominal organs, and has decreasing energy and decreasing appetite and weight loss.


Diagnostic confirmation is very difficult and expensive, so many felines are diagnosed presumptively through history and physical exam. There are blood tests that can be done, but diagnosis is not definitive unless biopsies of affected organs are obtained and sent to a histopathologist that can do immunochemistry confirmation.


Prognosis is poor and almost 100% of felines die within a few days to several months. Some veterinarians treat cats with an immunostimulant called recombinant interferon, but it has limited success.  Corticosteroids are also used with limited success.  Certain genetic lines of cats have a higher incidence of FIP.


Felines must first be exposed to Feline Coronavirus to even develop FIP.  The chance for a Feline Coronavirus antibody positive cat of developing FIP is < than 10%.  Certain genetic lines of cats are more susceptible. It appears that it is the response of their immune systems to the Feline Coronavirus that causes the disease FIP. The prevalence of Feline Coronavirus positive cats is pretty high in most populations.


Prevention involves not exposing a Feline Coronavirus antibody positive cat to a negative CoronaVirus  antibody cat and   keeping cats indoors.  However, realize that most Feline Coronavirus  antibody positive cats  will not develop FIP.  FIP intranasal vaccine exists but is not very effective and makes cats Coronavirus antibody positive on testing.  Therefore, the vaccine is not recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.


 In catteries, it appears that the main method of transmission is from asymptomatic queens (mother cats) to their offspring between 5 to 7 weeks of age.  Therefore, it is recommended to wean the kittens at 4 weeks of age and not allow these kittens to have contact with the mother or other cats until they are in a new home.   Routine disinfection easily inactivates the virus on cages/ premises/feeding bowls/ water bowls.  Use stainless steel or glass bowls that are easier to disinfect.  Plastic harbors organisms.


If you suspect your kitten or cat could have FIP, isolate it from your other cats and kittens and have it tested by your veterinarian for Feline Coronavirus Antibody.  If this test is negative, it is

very unlikely to have FIP and your vet can search for other reasons for your cat’s symptoms.


Since many cats are positive for Feline Coronavirus antibody, most veterinarians do not test for it unless a feline has symptoms of FIP.  The positive Feline Coronavirus antibody test just worries the owners and usually does not result in FIP.


Always remember to have new cats and kittens examined by a veterinarian before bringing them into your house with another feline.  Preventing transmission of any disease is much easier than trying to cure it.  Testing for FELV and FIV is  almost always performed at the first visit unless the feline is too young and ideally repeated at six months of age.  Feline Coronavirus antibody testing can be done if you wish, but is usually not done routinely.


Dr Marisa Pepin-Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary housecall practice. The welcome your comments at

Be Prepared For Regional Emergencies Article


With all of the horrible suffering our country has endured during all of the recent hurricanes and the wildfires out west, we thought it was prudent to let folks know how to prepare for an unexpected event.  Whether it be a snowstorm that strands us in our home or an event that requires that we evacuate to a shelter (or elsewhere), we need to be prepared.

           First, what should we have for an event that strands us at home? 1. Enough food and bottled water to care for our pets for at least a week  --FEMA says three days, we recommend at least one week). 2. If our pets require prescriptions, be sure you also have enough medication to last at least  1 week.  Do not wait until the last minute to get those refills. 3. A list containing feeding and medication directions in case the pet’s primary care giver is unable to get home. 4. For cats, be sure to have enough cat litter! For dogs, you will need to clear a small spot for them to urinate and defecate outside if too much snow is on the ground.  5. Pets always need shelter from the elements; do not just leave them outside.  6. A pet first aid kit. You can make your own. Collect some non-stick Telfa pads, VetWrap (3M), sterile roll gauze, sterile saline to flush wounds, eye wash solution, Neosporin (DOGS  ONLY),  a bottle of pet ear cleaning solution, scissors, nitrile exam gloves, and hydrogen peroxide for wound care.  Boots to fit you pets’ paws would be a plus.  7. Be sure to have the number of your veterinarian and several local veterinary emergency hospitals to call for advice if needed. But remember,  they may also be stranded at home, so always have several backup people you can call.

            If you have to evacuate, it gets even more complicated and working out a plan ahead of time is important. Many  shelters for evacuees do not accept pets. Therefore,  it is important to know which options are available. It would be best to make a list of pet friendly hotels in your region and adjacent states. Make an extensive list because the hotels will book up fast.  Develop a list of family and friends who live outside your region who also could provide a place for you and your pets to stay. Of course, you can also provide the same for them if they have a regional emergency in their area. Also, contact local humane and animal control officials and see if they can house your pet. It is also recommended that your pet have an identification microchip in case you get separated, so your pet can be traced back to you. Talk to your veterinarian about getting your pet microchipped if he/she is not. It is not a very costly service. A photo of you and your pet is also a good idea. Everyone has one on their phone, but remember you may not be able to charge your device, so have a print photo too.  FEMA also provides information on how to prepare for these types of emergencies with your pet. Please see the following link: as  does the American Veterinary Medical Association: Plan ahead and if local authorities tell you to evacuate, listen to them! Not doing so may put you and your pets at risk!

            Lastly, in the wake of all the recent events, we wanted to give a few reputable organizations where one could donate to help pets who were affected. 1. Alley Cats 2. The Humane Society of the United States Distaster Relief Fund  3. ASPCA  4. AVMF.




Dr Marisa Pepin-Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents. They operate a mobile Housecall practice. They welcome your comments at

Cats! Article

Today we will discuss the many subtle signs that cats show when they are ill. They won’t fetch the keys to the car and hop into the car willingly to see the vet --- like some dogs.  Cats are so subtle that they will do everything they can to hide their illnesses, even from their veterinarians.  Cats learned this when they were in the wild, because showing signs of illness would make them an easy target for predators.


Cats who have urinary issues often start urinating outside their litterboxes. This is not out of spite but for one of multiple reasons.  This is where the services of a veterinarian and detective are needed. The veterinarian often has to do many diagnostics to find the cause of  the problem, and the detective has to use a black light to find all of the urine accidents in your house that happened before you realized your cat really had a problem.  These areas in the house need to be completely cleaned with a product that eliminates the odor with enzymes specific for cat urine. Otherwise, the cat will consider the area one of its new “litterboxes”.  Then the vet has to use the bloodwork, urinalysis, Xrays, etc. to determine the cause of the problem.  Many possible causes of this problem include urinary tract infection, bladder stones, kidney disease, diabetes, feline idiopathic cystitis, anxiety/stress, etc.  All of these conditions are treatable.  Some owners wait to tell the vet until their home is so smelly that they just want the vet to euthanize their cat. This is not appropriate and a very difficult situation for caring vets to handle. Owning a pet is a choice and a responsibility.


Cats who have hyperthyroidism will often develop a ravenous appetite but lose weight slowly, even when eating excessive amounts. They often become grumpy, start meowing excessively even at night, and show evidence of poor grooming habits---developing mats that were not a problem before. This condition is also treatable.


Cats with arthritis often have more difficulty when trying to jump on beds and couches and when climbing stairs.  They also can start urinating and defecating outside the box because they have trouble lifting their legs to climb into the litterbox. This is when litterboxes with a low side are useful for the cats.  Also, there are several effective joint supplements and prescription diets for cats with joint pain and stiffness. These can improve their quality of life tremendously.

Never use any over-the-counter pain relievers on cats. Many of them are deadly to cats.


Cats with diabetes will urinate and drink more than usual. They are often cats who started out being overweight and then started to lose weight. They can also have a diabetic neuropathy that makes them walk abnormally with their hindlimbs. These cats are treatable also once they are diagnosed with a blood sample and urine sample.


Cats with dental disease can have bad breath, salivation, decreased appetite, and may paw at their mouths if they have a tooth abscess or painful gingivitis.  This is treatable with pre- anesthetic bloodwork and dental cleaning.


In summary, any cat who is showing signs of increased urination and drinking, urinating or defecating outside of the litterbox, changes in appetite, poor grooming, or bad breath, should be seen by a veterinarian for a complete exam and diagnostic workup. Symptoms of disease are often very subtle in cats until the disease has progressed to a serious stage. Be on the lookout and try to practice preventive care for your feline friend.




Dr Marisa Pepin Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead Residents and  operate a mobile veterinary House call practice.  They welcome your comments at




Spay and Neuter Article

            This month we thought we would discuss the importance of spaying or neutering your pet. Many readers may remember former Price Is Right host Bob Barker’s show ending line about getting your pet spayed or neutered. Well, he was right. There are 670,000 shelter dogs and 860,000 shelter cats per year in the United States that are euthanized because they do not have homes.  This is unacceptable! Stop by the Carroll County Humane Society on any given day and see how many pets need homes right here in our county. Just as a  note, if you are looking for a feline or canine companion, check them out.  They always have someone looking for a loving home. They can also point you in the right direction if they don’t have the pet you are looking for.  Though there are many very responsible breeders, there are also many puppy mills and kitty mills.   Be careful getting your puppy off the internet and sites like Craigslist.  There are also breed rescues that adopt out specific purebred pets.  You can find many of these contact numbers online.         

            The statistics ---regarding how rapidly an intact cat or dog can reproduce-- are staggering! For example, in one year a single intact female cat and her offspring can produce 12 more cats.  In 5 years, this single female cat and her offspring  can be responsible for 11,801 cats.   And in 9 years this cat and her offspring can be responsible for the production of 11,606,077 cats! See  For intact female dogs, one female and her offspring can be responsible for 16 dogs in one year, then 12,288 dogs in 5 years, then 67,000 dogs in 6 years. Letting intact dogs and cats roam can lead to a humongous overpopulation problem.  We see this all of the time, especially with neighborhoods who are overpopulated with outdoor cats.

            For more information on how to spay and neuter your own pets or neighborhood stray pets, contact your veterinarian or one of multiple local rescue groups: Humane Society of Carroll County  410-848-4810, The Baltimore Humane Society  410-833-8848, Maryland SPCA 410-235-8826, Spay Neuter All Pets (SNAP)  302-838-6996, Alley Cat Allies 240-482-1980.  These are also great organizations for donations to animal welfare causes.

            Rescuing pets at many of these organizations comes with financial and time-saving benefits.  Many of the pets are already spayed or neutered and have their first vaccinations, testing, and deworming completed.  Also, most of the pets are especially grateful for their new homes because they have been abandoned, hungry, and thirsty in the past.      

            Female cats that are not spayed are at risk of developing a pyometra ( a severe infection of the uterus requiring major surgery) that can occur usually in middle-aged to older female cats. Untreated, a pyometra can lead to death!  Female cats who are not spayed have obnoxious behavior (crying, mood swings) during their heat cycles which can occur multiple times per year and last 7 to 10 days. A male cat who is not neutered around 6 months old can excessively spray urine around  your house to mark his territory.                       

            For dogs, the age of recommended spaying and neutering can vary by breed. The likelihood of different cancers --like canine breast cancer-- and other health conditions can be increased or decreased, depending on the timing of the spaying/neutering.  Unspayed  dogs as they age are also at risk of developing a pyometa . The research is ongoing and it is best to ask your veterinarian for advice based on the current research as to when to spay or neuter your dog.

            In summary, spaying and neutering your cats and dogs is crucial to controlling our pet overpopulation problem and for preventing the euthanasia of over 1 million healthy, homeless dogs and cats each year. It also makes a happier and healthier doggie or kitty!



Dr Marisa Pepin-Slade and Dr Robert Slade are long-time Hampstead residents and operate a Mobile House Call practice. They welcome your comments at

Feline Cardiac Disease Article

            This month we will discuss a silent but serious and often overlooked condition of cats: cardiac or heart disease. Some studies show that about 11% of all cats have heart disease. Sometimes murmurs are heard on physical exam but sometimes they are not audible or not present.

            In the old days many cats developed an enlargement of the heart called dilated cardiomyopathy from a deficiency of an amino acid ( a type of nutrient and a subunit of protein) called taurine. This condition has virtually been eliminated by the addition of taurine to commercial cat food. This is why the cat owner needs to be careful feeding a homemade diet without the consultation of their veterinarian. Be careful feeding diets found on the internet unless they are through a service like that is run by veterinary nutritionists.

            The most common type of heart disease found in cats today is thickening and enlargement of the heart called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Careful physical exam listening for murmurs and periodic blood screening for a compound called proBNP (IDEXX labs) can be done. ProBNP is secreted by the heart muscle when it is stretched more than normal. It is not foolproof but is easy and fairly inexpensive to run. X-rays often show a heart shaped like a valentine with this condition. The gold standard is an exam and an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) by a board- certified veterinary cardiologist.  It can cost between $600 and $800 to have a complete exam and echo by them. The best source of recommendations for your kitty is at your regular veterinarian. He or she can examine your cat and  let you know what or if any additional work up is required.

            Cats that become ill from HCM often throw blood clots. They can create stroke- like signs, depending on where the clot lands. The clot can become lodged anywhere. In the brain or lungs, it often causes a sudden death. It can land in the aorta—a major blood vessel that comes from the heart-- as it divides to go to the hindlimbs, causing what is called a saddle thrombus. These cats often present not able to use their hindlimbs.   The legs are cold and painful. Often these cats end up being euthanized.    There has been some success using the “clot-busting” medications that are used in people who had a recent stroke, but they must be given soon after the clot forms before permanent damage is done. These drugs are very expensive and most veterinarians do not stock them.

            The best solution is early diagnosis and treatment. There is medication that can be given to help these cats. Though not a cure, medications can be given to control the heart rate and to prevent clot formation. Never give your cat any medication without consulting your veterinarian. Cats are very sensitive even to drugs like aspirin that people often take as a “blood thinner.”

            Conditions like hyperthyroidism –discussed in a previous column—can also cause heart disease. These cats need to have their underlying thyroid condition treated in addition to addressing the heart problem.

            Administration of long acting cortisone injections, as was in the past often used for feline allergies, can potentially complicate heart disease and are now not commonly recommended unless there are no other feasible options.

            Cats also can contract heartworm disease and there are quality heartworm preventives that cats should receive. Talk to your veterinarian. In dogs heartworm disease can cause major heart disease. In cats it is more of a respiratory condition. These cats often look like they have asthma. That is why it has been renamed as Heartworm Associated Feline Respiratory Disease.

            Make sure your feline friend gets a complete veterinary exam at least once or twice a year or as recommended by your veterinarian.


Dr. Marisa Pepin-Slade and Dr. Robert Slade are long time Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary House Call practice. They welcome your comments at



Pumpkin Article



We thought it would be a good idea to have an inspirational article in the middle of our winter season.  Many times, we sadly have to give poor prognoses on our animal patients. However, every once in a while, those well-intentioned and well-researched poor prognoses turn out differently than expected. We will now tell you a true story about one of our own pets who –- thus far --- has beaten the odds of her illness.  We adopted our 7-year-old orange tabby cat Pumpkin when she was 3 months old. Originally, she rescued from a garage attic by a colleague in Pennsylvania when just a few weeks old.


In early May of 2017, she became ever so slightly subdued in her behaviors. While doing an exam on her, we felt a lump in the middle of her belly.  Starting with abdominal X-rays and bloodwork, we saw an irregular mass about 1.5 inches in diameter in the middle of the belly. We sent these digital X-rays for evaluation by a board-certified veterinary radiologist.  She reported that Pumpkin’s left kidney was irregular and had a mass-like appearance. Next step was taking her to a board-certified veterinary internist to have an ultrasound-guided needle biopsy of Pumpkin’s left kidney.

Unfortunately, even with several attempts, the specialist could not get cells from the irregular kidney for evaluation. Some tumors won’t shed cells for diagnostic evaluation. The next step would be surgical removal and biopsy of the left kidney. We set up a surgical consult with a board-certified veterinary surgeon. We discussed the pros and cons of the procedure.  We also thought about the significant expenses involved.  We would get the answer about the kidney tumor, but we may cause other kidney to fail if it could not make up for the loss of the left kidney.  If 75% of the total kidney function still remained, we would be okay. We decided that the only way to know if we could do anything to help Pumpkin was to have her left kidney removed and sent for biopsy. 


When we picked Pumpkin up from the specialty hospital after surgery and several days of intensive fluid therapy and care, she was a very unhappy camper. Had we made the right decision?  Or should we have just let her live out her life until her quality of life became poor?  We got the biopsy report about a week later from a prominent board-certified veterinary pathologist.  The report confirmed that the kidney contained a rare, highly malignant undifferentiated sarcoma with potential for spread to other parts of the body.  We knew that chemotherapy could be done, but her estimated lifespan even with chemo would be about 3 months. The type of chemo needed would most likely cause some unwanted side effects and also add significant expense to her treatment.  We decided not to have chemotherapy for her, and explored alternative options. The alternative options offered no guarantees of effectiveness for such a rare tumor and also would lead to significant expense.  Her kidney function was compromised and she developed kidney disease. We started offering her a smorgasbord of prescription kidney diets, started an appetite stimulant and fluids under the skin several times weekly, and started a good quality feline omega 3 fatty acid supplement.  After 3.5 months of this therapy, we notice her gaining her weight back and were able to stop the appetite stimulant and decrease the fluid frequency.  She is 9 months past her diagnosis and appears to be thriving on prescription kidney diet and occasional fluids given under the skin. She is back to being an avid mouse hunter whenever a mouse manages to enter our house. She also has become a constant bedtime companion and purrs loudly with contentment. We realize that her prognosis could change again, but for now we are enjoying the extra 6 months that we have been given!


Dr Marisa Pepin-Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary House call practice. They welcome your comments at

Common Pet Toxins Article

It could take many articles to discuss all of the common household and yard toxins to pets, but we will try to highlight some of the most common ones. Referring to 1-888-426-4911 will give a more complete overview of toxins for pets.  The number is helpful for toxic emergencies in pets that occur any time of day or night. It is a nonprofit organization, but you will be charged a fee with your credit card to cover the expenses of a 24hr organization. Pet Poison Helpline is also a 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center (1-855-764-7661) with website


The top 10 toxin calls for cats received by Pet Poison Helpline include lilies, canine flea topicals containing pyrethroids / pyrethrins, household cleaners, antidepressant meds, rodent poison, ibuprofen/acetaminophen, glow sticks/jewelry, amphetamines (ADD/ADHD drugs), decongestant meds, and essential oils. The top 10 toxin calls for dogs include chocolate, rodent poison, ibuprofen/acetaminophen, xylitol (found in sugar-free gums and candies), Vitamin D (in large amounts), antidepressant meds, fertilizers, grapes and raisins, decongestant meds, caffeine in pills and drinks.


Especially important for cats this time of year is the toxic nature of the Easter Lily. Never

allow a cat to access an Easter Lily.  Other very toxic lilies include tiger, day, Asiatic hybrid, etc. Very tiny ingestions of petals, leaves, pollen and vase water can result in sudden kidney failure.


With the onset of spring, more flea and tick products will be used on cats and dogs.  Many dog flea products can be deadly to cats.  For example, K9 Advantix (Bayer) is fine for dogs but very toxic to cats. Make sure cats only have contact with cat flea and tick products.  Discuss the safest, most effective products with your veterinarian. 


Household cleaners should be dry before pets can contact them with their tongues, paws, or bodies. Always be aware of the ingredients in household cleaners and whether they are toxic.


 Rodent poisons of all types are toxic to cats and dogs. Even small ingestions can result in death. We prefer ultrasonic devices for rodent control. Cats themselves can be good mousers too!


All medications and vitamins need to be kept out of reach of all pets. Many of our over-the-counter and prescription human medications are toxic or deadly to cats and dogs.


Be careful with essential oils for cats and dogs, even in diffusers.  Respiratory irritation can occur from inhalation of essential oils thru diffusers.  Consult for a detailed list.  Rapid absorption occurs orally and thru the skin also.  Symptoms can include salivation, tremors, ataxia, respiratory distress, low heart rate, low body temp., and liver failure. Tea tree oil in .1 to 1% concentration in pet shampoos labeled for dogs and cats is not a concern, but higher concentrations can be dangerous!




Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and death in dogs. The darker the chocolate —the more severe the response. Cats don’t seem to like chocolate, but keep chocolate out of reach of all pets because the toxic dose of chocolate for cats is even lower than for dogs. Coffee and tea have similar effects on dogs and cats and need to also be kept out of reach. 


Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and even small amounts can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar. Keep away from cats also since there have been some reports of cat sensitivity also. Xylitol is contained in gums, candies, beverages, low sugar peanut butter, oral rinses and toothpaste, some human meds, protein bars, weight-loss products, lotions, facial products, deodorants, nasal sprays, etc.


Keep dogs and cats away from fertilizers and chemically treated mulch and cocoa mulch.

These are all toxic to dogs and cats and best not to use if you cannot keep your dogs and cats away from them.


Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure in dogs even with small amounts of ingestion. Cats don’t usually like grapes and raisins so it is unknown if they are toxic to cats. 


Dr. Marisa Pepin Slade and Dr. Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary house call practice. They welcome your comments at



Tick Borne Disease Article

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This is usually true, but not with many tick-borne diseases that our dogs and cats encounter through tick bites.  These diseases also affect people in large numbers.  Just on the news this past week, the CDC is warning people to beware of ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas! Vector-borne illnesses from ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas have more than tripled between 2004 and 2016 and nine new vector-borne disease organisms have been discovered since 2004. Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of CDC’S Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, wants everyone to know that severe diseases can result from tick bites, mosquito bites, and flea bites.  Because of the vast number of vector-borne diseases, we will concentrate on tick-borne diseases affecting our dogs, cats, and ourselves.


The main ticks in our Maryland/Pennsylvania environment include the deer tick, brown dog tick, American dog tick, and lone star tick.  Each of these ticks can transmit more than one debilitating (or even deadly) disease to our dogs, cats, and even ourselves.  Lyme is the most common disease here transmitted to dogs and people. Other diseases include Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Bartonella, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in both dogs and people. Cats are mostly resistant to Lyme, but can develop Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and rarely the deadly Cytauxzoonosis.  Symptoms of tick-borne diseases are vague and include lethargy, fever, lameness, lack of appetite.  Early recognition and treatment can often lessen the impact of the disease tremendously. However, prevention with year-around quality flea and tick control will give your pet a very good chance of avoiding these diseases completely. We have several safe and effective flea and tick control products for dogs and cats. There are some products in the over-the-counter market that are not as effective and not as safe.  Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.  NEVER USE A DOG PRODUCT ON A CAT OR A CAT PRODUCT ON A DOG!  It could result in deadly consequences, especially for the cats. A very effective Lyme vaccine is available for dogs.


For people, Sawyer 20% Picaridin lotion seems to be one of the safer, more effective products.  You can research this on CDC websites if you wish and ask your doctor. It lasts for 14 hrs. after one application per the label. Dogs and cats are like “canaries in the coal mine”.  If your pets are getting exposed to tick-borne disease, you probably are also in the same situation.


Tick-borne diseases can also be difficult to diagnose with the current tests available.  Many tick-borne diseases are treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early, but some are not. PREVENTION is the best way to avoid tick-borne diseases and being vigilant for ticks crawling or attached. The lone star larval stage ticks can crawl right in between the threads of your socks and bite you.


The best way to remove a tick is with the original Ticked Off instrument or a hemostat or

tweezers. The goal is to pull the tick at the mouthparts end, slowly from the skin.  DO NOT USE

a lit match, fingernail polish, or petroleum jelly. This will cause a tick to spew its saliva, possibly containing disease organisms, into the host’s body and make it more likely for disease to occur.

Then it is best to put the tick in dry form in a Ziploc bag and label the date it was found, on whom it was found, and where on the body it was found. If the patient develops disease later on, the tick can be sent to lab to see if it contains any disease organisms.  


The amount of time a tick must be attached to transmit disease varies with the type of disease. The deer tick typically has to be attached at least 24 hrs. to transmit Lyme but only for 15 minutes to transmit Powassan Virus in people.  Powassan has no treatment except supportive care and is sometimes deadly.


In conclusion, PREVENTION is the best way to avoid all tick-borne diseases. BE PREPARED WITH PREVENTIVES AND STAY VIGILANT!!!! Remember ticks are out year round and tick-borne disease is a year round threat!


Dr. Marisa Pepin Slade and Dr. Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary House call practice. They welcome your comments at



What it Takes to be a Vet

People often ask me what you have to do to be a veterinarian. Study hard in school-- check. Get good grades--check. Extracurricular activities associated with animals and nature --check.  Lots of student loans or a big bank account--check. An unwavering love of animals is definitely required. This is what want to talk about today. My Mom, Alice Slade-Myers passed away early this month after a brief bout of pneumonia. It was so devastating because it was so quick and unexpected. Sometimes you never know what someone gave you until they are gone. She grew up on a family farm in Mt. Washington in Baltimore. When the city encroached, her family moved to Monkton when she was a teenager. She attended Bryn Mawr through middle school, then attended public school. Her father was a John Hopkins educated engineer who worked for Martin Corporation, and her mother was a dancer. My mom graduated from The State Teachers College at Towson (now Towson University) and taught elementary school for a few years until starting a family and moving to a farm in Carroll County in the early 1960s.

From an early age, she had an unwavering love of all God’s creatures. She became involved with horses and rode in everything from steeple chase to endurance rides to fox hunting and dressage. When I was young, the Thoroughbreds gave way to the Shetland then Welsh ponies. As I got older I became involved in 4-H and she allowed me to get a calf which eventually grew into a small herd of Jersey cattle by the time I left for college. We had chickens, ducks, geese, pigs and, yes, dogs and cats.  She had a gentle hand that seemed to heal and comfort with a touch. It is something that can even seem elusive to someone with a degree in veterinary medicineI remember her bringing a Jersey calf with severe gastrointestinal upset intothe kitchen and nursing it along on a chilly spring day. She would not give up until the calf was better. One day a flying squirrel fell down the chimney and lost a leg. She nursed it back to health and it lived out its life sleeping on clothes in the closet during the day and was out and about the house at night.

She taught me about responsibility even when that meant getting up several hours before the school bus came to help care for the critters on our family farm. Occasionally, there were issues.   For example, if I accidently got pig poo on myself before school and did not realize it, I would be sitting in Algebra class at Westminster High school pretending I did not know where that strange stinky smell came from. She taught my brothers and me about the wonders of life. This include from birth, the ups and downs throughout life, and yes death. We were not sheltered from the trials and tribulations of life. I remember when I was in elementary school my little black Shetland pony, Midnight, became very ill.  I stayed up with him as his health deteriorated and the veterinarian said there was little hope for recovery. I remember my mom comforting me but at the same time not sheltering me from the realities of life. I stayed with Midnight until he was euthanized and my mom and I cried together.  

 She taught me to always have a kind hand, treat all of God’s creatures with love and respect always, and never let them suffer.  Her love of animals continued all throughout her life. Even up to the time of her passing she had two 10-year-old fish, multiple cats, chickens, a dog, and two horses.  I think they knew it when she passed.   They seemed to have a lonelinessabout them.  So, when people ask me what it takes to become a veterinarianI say it took my Mom. Rest in Peace.


Dr MarisaPepin-Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary House call practice. They welcome your comments at

The Holidays for your Pets

Want to know some of the best things you can do for your pets for Christmas?  They need peace, health, love, and happiness just like the rest of us.  Here are some of the most important things you can do for your pets and they will love you for it!


1. Provide pets a safe, quiet, warm, comfortable place to stay. When company arrives, some pets just want their own private hideaway. If your pet loves interacting with other people, then just make sure you know who is ok and who is not ok.  If company brings pets along, then make sure those pets are compatible with yours, or provide a separate  safeplace for those pets in your home.  Also make sure that pets don’t have a chance to run out the door when company arrives.  Make sure company keeps any of their medications out of your pets’ reach.


2. Don’t feed human food that will make pets sick, and make it clear to guests that feeding your pet or leaving their plates and drinks out for  the animals to lick is not ok and is sometimes toxic to your pets.  


3. The best gift for an aging cat or dog may be an orthopedic bed or ramps to climb up onto their favorite sleeping areas or window viewing areas. 


4. For cats who are overweight, a feeding ball that they have to roll around to drop their kibble may be good. Even a laser light that they can chase for interactive play or a feather toy would be great. For dogs, extra walks outside would be welcome.


5. Tasty treats that promote good dental health and other products can be found on the Veterinary Oral Health Council website. This website has products that board-certified veterinary dentists have put through double-blind studies to prove that they help prevent dental disease.


6. Some dogs would benefit from a good grooming at a local groomer where you can request a hypoallergenic colloidal oatmeal bath and cream rinse to soothe their dry, itchy skin that we all experience this time of year. Most cats would not appreciate this, but you may be able to find a moisturizing mousse or spray for their skin.


7. The most basic, free thing you can do for your pets is giving them extra pats, hugs, kisses, and playtime. Remind them how much you love them and appreciate them.


8. Be very careful around the holidays with all the extra chances pets have to get exposed to toxic foods, drinks, plants, and items that could cause intestinal obstruction or gastrointestinal upset.  The following items are the most common holiday hazards: 


a. Chocolate—vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, death.



b. Tinsel/Ribbon/Bows/String/Yarn---intestinal obstruction requiring surgery especially in cats 


c. Xylitol---sugar-free sweetener found in many candies, gum, baked goods, low sugar peanut butter, etc.---causes a life-threatening  blood sugar drop and liver failure in dogs.


d. Poinsettias --- only mildly toxic to dogs and cats---cause vomiting, drooling, and possibly diarrhea.




f. Christmas light strings---if ingested can cause electroshock burns of mouth and possible lung damage and brain damage in dogs and cats.


g. Decoration hooks---these can cause gastrointestinal obstruction and puncture if ingested by dogs or cats.


h. Styrofoam---can cause choking or intestinal obstruction in dogs and cats if ingested.


i. Candles—cats especially can brush near a lit candle and burn themselves and also start a fire.


j. Mistletoe---mild to severe toxicity to dogs and cats and can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, seizures, and death if ingested in large amounts.



Prevention is the best medicine, but keep the ASPCA POISON CONTROL NUMBER handy if you ever need it.  1-866-692-7472







New Year’s Pet Resolutions

We all probably just got done making our New Year’s Resolutions for ourselves recently,  and hopefully we have not broken all of them yet. However, what about New Year’s Resolutions for our furry family members who depend on us for their care? Some of the best things we can do for our pets don’t even cost money, but of course some of them do. However, preventive care is the best medicine and costs much less than treating illnesses that can be prevented.


Getting our pets off the couch and exercising them is just as good  or them as it is for us.  Dogs who get more walks and outdoor playtime experience improvement in their circulatory systems, musculoskeletal systems, and mental health which can lead to better behavior inside.  Exercise also improves the circulatory, musculoskeletal, and mental health of cats.

Indoor cats can be exercised with laser lights, feather toys for interactive play. They can also be exercised with feeding balls that they have to roll to drop out their kibble and catnip chirpy toys that help satisfy their hunting instincts indoors. Outdoors exercise is plentiful, but outdoor risks for cats are also plentiful – cars, antifreeze and other toxins, coyotes, other cats, dogs, freezing and below freezing temperatures, excessive heat.  


The diet we feed our pets is also very important, just as it is for us. Stay away from grain-free diets for pets, because they are suspected for leading to some serious heart issues in dogs – i.e. dilated cardiomyopathy see The goal should be healthy grains and meats and vegetables, not lack of grain.

Unfortunately, the cheapest food is not usually the best food – just like with us. However, just because a food is expensive does not mean it is good  -- just like with us.  Use diets that are made in the United States or Canada (not China) and look for diets with real meat, at least 2 grains, and no artificial colors andnatural preservatives. Some of the brands we recommend include: Hills, Purina Proplan, Royal Caninand Natural Balance.  It would be best to ask your vet, because your vet knows you pet’s health status and there are so many diets to choose from. DO NOT FEED RAW DIETS. RAW DIETS CAN MAKE YOU SICK AS WELL AS YOUR DOG CAT! For more information see: . Ever look at all the contaminated meat products recalled every week in the United States due to bacterial contamination?  There is a very good reason why most people eat well-cooked meat.  Cooking usually kills these bacterial contaminants.  Also, be very careful what kind of treats your pet receives.  These all add calories and sometimes cause expensive health problems or life-threatening toxicity.  A Royal Canin study shows that  just 1 oz  of cheese  given to a 8.8 lb cat is equivalent to two 200 calorie donuts in a person on a 2000 calorie diet.  In a 44 lb dog, 1 oz. of cheese is also equivalent to two 200 calorie donuts for a person on a 2000 calorie diet.  Our pets are so much smaller than the average adult, so these calories are so much more detrimental to them.  


It is so much easier to put our pets on a diet than ourselves. We are their guardians and we are totally responsible for their food intake.  Very few dogs and cats have been known to open a refrigerator or a cupboard high off the floor and feed themselves.  They usually only feed themselves if food is left for easy access.  We should do them a favor and feed healthy food  andtreats in normal amounts. It is also easier on our finances and our pets’ longterm health.

Obese cats and dogs have a higher incidence of arthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer.


Home dental care also is good for our pet’s health and can save money in the long run.  Refer to Veterinary Oral Health Council online or ask your vet for recommendations.  


Also, make sure your pets get an annual exam and the vaccines recommended by your vet. Having a yearly exam and a discussion of preventive care with your vet could add years to your pet’s life.``


Dr. Robert  Slade and Dr. Marisa Pepin-Slade are long-time Hampstead residents and operate a mobile House Call Veterinary practice. They welcome your comments at




Pet Preventive Care

March is a really good month for us to do a head-to-tail review of our pets and make sure we aren’t missing anything with their preventive care.  


Look at your pet’s eyes and make sure you  aren’tseeing any cloudiness, redness, or discharge.  You can use plain eye irrigating solution (NOT CONTACT LENS SOLUTION) to flush the eyes, just like we use if we get debris in our eyes.


Look at your pet’s ears and see if there is any waxy buildup, discharge, redness, or odor.  Use a pet ear cleaner and cotton squares to clean the ears if needed. Always clean the ears after a bath in case you got water into the ears while bathing. Do not stick Q-tips down into the ear canals.


Look at your pet’s mouth/gums/teeth with caution.  Don’t get bitten or scratched.

Look for a red gumline around the teeth. This is gingivitis/infection.  Look for brown or yellow tartar buildup on the teeth. If it is significant, your pet should have a dental cleaning at the vet’s office.  Also refer to VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) on the internet for recommendations on home dental care to prevent progression of any dental disease.


Look at your pet’s haircoat and skin and see if there are notable scales, oily areas, reddened skin or scabs, lumps, fleas, ticks, bare patches, or lesions of any kind. Make sure to look at the paws, in the armpits, andunder the tail also.


Watch your pet walk and make a note of lameness in any of their legs. Also watch for a change in their gait, reluctance to jump, and stiffness when getting up or sitting down. Watch for a “humped back” appearance..For cats, also make note of any litterbox changes—having trouble climbing into the box or not using the boxes in the basement or the 2nd floor.


If your dog is scooting on his./her butt or your cat stops using the litterbox for poo, he/she may need anal gland expression.


Finally, monitor for changes in your pet’s behavior, attitude, facial expressions, position of ears, and energy level and weight.


If you notice any abnormalities, discuss these with your vet. Since animals cannot talk, this information is very useful to your vet in diagnosing problems/diseases and in deciding which diagnostics to perform. Keep notes that you can summarize later so you can give your vet the full picture of your pet’s history.


Come visit us at the Hampstead./Manchester Community Business Expo this coming Saturday at Manchester Valley High School for more info. !


Easter Advice and Blackrock Incident


Our main intent of this article was going to be tips on how to keep pets safe during the Easter holiday and early spring. However, due to the recent animal cruelty crisis in Hampstead, we believe it is necessary to comment on this crisis first.


Thanks to an anonymous complaint and the quick action of Animal Control, The Carroll County Humane Society, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Hampstead Fire Company, local fire companies from Manchester, Pleasant Valley, Gamber, and Upperco; Hanover’s Air Unit, and the Carroll County Hazmat Team ,   27 dogs were saved. Unfortunately, another 27 dogs were found deceased -- 11 on Friday April 5th and 16 more on Mon. April 8th in a locked shed on the same property. The scene was horrific for all those involved in the rescue. We commend everyone involved in the rescue and pray that you can heal from this ordeal. We also pray for  the spirits of the animals who were found deceased and for the full recovery of the animals found alive. As animal lovers, just reading about it is heart-wrenching.We need to remember that other dogs and cats are rescued from situations every day and humane societies and rescues are great places to find new pets.  When looking for a pet, visit humane societies and rescues online if not in person. There are even many purebred rescues. There are so many loving pets waiting for a forever home.  It just takes time and patience to find the right fit for you and your family.


Now on to some tips to keep our pets safe at Easter and in early spring:





























Dr. Marisa Pepin Slade and Dr. Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary Housecall practice. The welcome your comments at









Pet Allergies Article

Now that spring is in full force we thought it would be a good time to update everyone about those pesky allergies in dogs and cats.  


Dogs have more problems with allergies in the spring than do cats. Of course, I am assuming all pets are on a quality flea and tick prevention. Fleas and tick control is another topic for another day or check out our past column on the topic on our website


Allergies manifest in dogs by itchy ears, feet and anal  areas, though they can practically be itchy anywhere. Sometimes they can scratch themselves so much that they develop secondary skin infections. 


The good news is we now have many new ways to treat allergies! In the old days we used lots of corticosteroids like prednisone.  Even though they stopped itching, they also caused lots of increased drinking and urinating, strongly suppressed the immune system, and increased risks of metabolic conditions like diabetes.  We also used antihistamines but current studies now show that they only benefit about twenty percent of dogs.  


Today we have many wonderful ways to treat allergic dogs. Allergy testing and hyposensitization is probably the best option, but to be successful it can sometimes take 6 to 12 months to see any benefit. Allergy testing can be done several ways but the gold standard is intradermal testing, often done by a board certified veterinary dermatologist. However, serum allergy  testing which can easily be done  by most veterinarians,  has gotten much better in recent years. Once testing is complete, allergy hyposensitization can be done with injections or sometimes now as an oral drop given twice a day. Serum allergy testing does not identify food allergies.  The only way to confirm food allergies is a strict diet trial, ideally with a prescription hypoallergenic diet. Keep in mind that grain-free diets are not ideal for food trials, because it is usually the protein source they are allergic to. The most common food allergies in dogs and cats are beef and chicken. 


For pet parents who do not want to go through the time and expense of allergy testing, we now have other options. Apoquel (Zoetis) is a very effective allergy medication in dogs. Unfortunately, it is not very effective in cats.  Apoquel is usually given twice a day for 2 weeks, then can be given once a day long term. It is effective against contact and inhalant allergies in dogs and is also somewhat effective against food allergies.  It does not cause any increased drinking or urinating,  and many of the other unpleasant side effects of prednisone are avoided.  Apoquel is not recommended to be given to dogs with known cancer.  


Another new option we have for dogs is an injection given every one to two months called Cytopoint. It is not a drug but a biologic, called a monoclonal antibody.  Cytopoint (Zoetis)eliminates the dogs ability to develop an allergic reaction to an inhalant or contact allergy. It does nothing for food allergies. Side effects with Cytopoint are very rare but can include stomach upset or an allergic reaction similar to a vaccine-type reaction.  Again, these reactions are very rare and these medications are much safer and work better than the old fashioned prednisone and antihistamines.  The biggest downside is the medications are expensive. We will discuss food allergies in a future column. 


We are somewhat more limited on how to treat allergies in cats.  Of course, keeping them flea- free is always important! Cats also show less side effects from corticosteroids like prednisolone. Long-acting steroid injections are not recommended in cats due to possible negative effects on the cats heart. Allergy testing can also be done on cats. Apoquel and Cytopoint do not work on cats, but some cats with chronic allergies can be placed on a drug called cyclosporine. 


Most importantly, if your dog or cat is itchy go to your veterinarian. They will help rule out other causes of itching and if it is thought to be allergies, there is a lot that can be done to try to make your furry friend more comfortable!



Dr Marisa Pepin Slade and Dr Robert Slade are longtime Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary Housecall practice. They welcome your comments at DrsPepin.Slade@gmail. Com.

Lyme Disease Article

Now that the weather is nice and folks are getting outside,we thought it would be a good time to give an update on Lyme Disease. It was named from the town Old Lyme, Connecticut,where the disease was first identified. It is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria named Borrelia burgdorferi in the United States.  In this area of the country, it is typically spread to people and dogs by the  black-legged tick Ixodes scapularis (formerly known as the deer tick). While we clinically do not recognize Lyme disease in domestic cats, there  is some current thinking that they may be susceptible to it also.  When the tick bites, if it is carrying the organism, it can be spread to the host if it is attached to the host long enough. The “bulls-eye” skin sore often described in people either does not occur in dogs, or is under the fur and not usually seen. It can take several weeks for clinical Lyme disease to develop in a dog. If standard  blood testing of the dog is done at the time of the bite, it will be negative until  the dog develops an immune response to the infection.However, if your pet was bitten by a tick, consult your veterinarian as they will want to discuss with you how to properly remove a tick and how to protect your dog. 

There are four basic steps in addressing Lyme disease in dogs: Tick Control, Annual Diagnostic Screening, Vaccination, and Treatment.

Tick control is the important first step. Ask your veterinarian which form of tick control is best for your dog and your lifestyle. The newest type of tick control is the prescription class of medications called the isoxazolinesThese FDA approved oral medications are very effective and include Nexgard (Boehringer Ingelheim)Bravecto (Merck) and Credelio (Elanco). Bravecto is also available as a topical for dogs and a topical for cats.   Side effects are very rare with these products, but care has to be taken in dogs with seizure disorders. Products that stay only on the outside of the dog are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA). Their approval process is different from that of the FDA. The Seresto Collar(Bayer) is an EPA product that tends to work well. Occasionally, dogs will develop neck irritations from the collar and skin  contact can be more difficult in double-coated breeds of dogs. There also seems to be an increased number of counterfeit SerestoCollars for sale on some internet websites. If you use a SerestoCollar or other tick control, be sure to purchase it from a reputable source. Topical Spot- Ons are also available like Frontline (Boehringer Ingelheim) and K9 Advantix (Bayer). These products have been on the market a long time. Ask your veterinarian if they are still the best option for your dog. K9 Advantix is extremely toxic to cats and should not be used in situations where accidental exposure to cats could occur.  If you are using only Sentinel (Virbac) or Trifexis (Elanco), you have no tick control because these products are not meant to control ticks!

The next step is annual testing. Most veterinarians test for Lyme disease each year with the annual heartworm combo test in this region of the country, where Lyme disease is prevalent. Often, the 4DX (IDEXX) or the Accuplex (AntechDiagnostics) is done. These tests also have the added benefit of testing for two other tick-borne diseases also -- Ehrlichiaand Anaplasma. A positive test shows the body’s response to the Lyme disease organism, not the actual organism. If your dog tests positiveyour veterinarian will discuss with you if treatment is recommended for your dog.

There are multiple effective Lyme vaccinations for dogs. Typically, there is a series of two around three weeks apartthen an annual booster. 

If your dog tests positive on a diagnostic test and you and your veterinarian decide treatment is warranted, or if your dog is showing clinical signsan antibiotic called Doxycycline is often dispensed. For dogs that cannot tolerate Doxycycline, Amoxicillin is often the plan B drug. The most common side effect with Doxycycline is gastrointestinal upset. The usual signs of clinical Lyme disease in dogs is a shifting leg lameness, fever that comes and goes, poor appetite, and lethargy. A severe life- threatening kidney disease can also develop.

The good news is with all the ways that are available to prevent, diagnose and treat Lyme disease in dogs, we are seeing less clinical cases of this terrible disease.

Talk to your veterinarian.


Dr Marisa Pepin Slade and Dr Robert Slade are long-time Hampstead residents and operate a mobile veterinary House Call practice. They welcome your comments at .




Vacations and Pets Article

Since it is vacation season for many people, we wanted to offer some advice on whether you take your pet with you or leave them behind with someone else.


First, you need to know your pet’s unique anxieties or behavior issues. You need to know what makes your pet feel comfortable and safe.


If your pet loves riding in a car and you have a motel or campground that is pet friendly, then you may be able to take your pet with you as long as you decline maid service, so your pet does not get nervous and escape. If your pet is never left in the motel, this would not be an issue. Always realize that you must watch your pet more carefully when they are not in their home environment.  If your pet rides well in a car but gets motion sickness, there are great prescription anti-emetics for pets now.  Just ask your vet!  They may be scared of certain people, animals, smells, environments.  This could cause them to escape and behave in an unruly manner without guidance and support from you.  Always be aware of toxic items and swallowing hazards in their environment.  This includes toxic plants, medications, foods toxic to pets, gums and candies toxic to pets, open trash cans, any swallowing hazards.  Always have complete control of your pet with a good harness and leash/carrier/pet stroller.  If your dog can be aggressive to other animals or people, place a basket muzzle on him/her.  Better yet --- don’t let this pet around anyone else but you.  Always be aware when car doors are opened, escape hazards exist.  Also, always make sure your pet is in a pet seatbelt or in a safe, comfortable carrier in case of an accident!  This also prevents pets from distracting the driver and running under the driver’s feet!


If your pet has cage/run anxiety and does not ride well, you may want to consider a petsitter who comes to the house several times daily for a dog and one or two times daily for a cat.  If needed, you can find a certified petsitter or person you completely trust to stay at your house and take care of the pets and other household chores.  If you have cats who hide from the petsitter and want to make sure they are ok, you can buy a pet camera and set it up next to their food/water/litterboxes. You can get some good petcams for $100 or less.  You can even talk to your pets so they can hear your voice while you are away, and sometimes even have two-way communication if your pet “talks” !    Automatic feeders and waterers and fountains and extra litterboxes come in handy while you are away.  Make sure your pets get fresh water daily, however you do it.  Always tell any petsitter all of your emergency numbers and what to do if an emergency arises and you cannot be contacted.  It would be best to have this in writing and make financial resources available for the entrusted person.  Emergencies happen when we least expect them.


If your pet will destroy your house while you are away or has major separation anxiety and you cannot take him/her along, then there are many boarding kennels and pet resorts available.

It is best to get word-of -mouth reviews from people you trust.  Some even have petcams installed so you can watch your pet while you are away.  If you have an arthritic or older dog or cat, it is best to take an orthopedic pet bed or waterproof pet cot to the boarding place.  It is also best to take the food they normally eat to prevent gastrointestinal issues.  Also, make sure you book as far ahead as possible and have your pet meet the vaccination requirements of the kennel and your vet’s recommendations to keep them safe.  Make sure the kennel can give necessary medications and knows your pet’s important medical history.  


You will be able to get some much needed relaxation and have more fun if you feel good about your pet’s situation while you are away.

Loss Article

We decided this month to pay a tribute to my mother (Dr. Pepins mother) who helped me tremendously toward my goal and my sisters goal of being veterinarians.  She was also very supportive of my husband Dr. Slade. She was a proud mom and mother-in-law. She sacrificed a lot to help her daughters’ dreams come true.  She listened  with her heart and always encouraged us and supported us with our endeavors.  


When life became difficult, my mom always said “ Swallow a live toad in the morning and nothing worse will happen  the rest of the day. I would have to agree on most days, but my sister and I would agree also that losing my mother was very difficult to swallow. My mother passed away  on January 5th 2020.  It has been a year and 2.5 months of difficult losses.  My mother-in-law passed away on November 4th 2018, leaving 13 pets without permanent homes.  We made sure all of them found loving permanent homessome with us and other close family members and also some with other very loving pet owners. My sister-in-laws father passed away on December 21st, 2020.  Following my own mothers passing in January, my mothers fraternal twin sister passed away only twelve days later on 1/17/20, and a veterinarian whom my husband and I have worked with for 21.5 years passed away on January 20th, 2020.  


With all of these losses, it makes us ponder even more than usual about what is important in this life and what is eternal-what remains after death.  I personally believe in an afterlife for animals and people. I could not do this job if I thought death was the end of the spirit or soul or consciousness.  Observing all of the wonder around us ——the beautiful animals who are our pets, the wild animals, the people who make a difference in our lives, the stars, the sun, the moon, other planets, and the oceans and lakes and rivers——how could anyone (even the most scientific) believe that it all just happened without a complex plan? Unfathomable to me, but every person must find their own explanations/beliefs.


Without my Mom and Dad (who passed away 30 years ago), I would not have become a veterinarian. It was a very long path in terms of study and discouraging days and monetary needs.  My mom and dad were both teachers and encouraged both my sister Janine (also a veterinarian) and I to take our education seriously from the beginning of  elementary school. My mom was a stay-at -home mom from day one of our lives. My dad and mom both wanted this for their family.  It made a big difference in the emotional support that we received throughout the trials and tribulations on the path to becoming veterinarians. This emotional support from Mom continued until the day she passed from this world.  She was always proud of us and listened to all of our stories about the pets we cared for at work and at home.  A lot of these stories were sad ones, but Mom still listened.  


Nothing can really prepare us for losing our parents. They were a part of our life since we were born and often leave us long before we pass on from this world.  We have to carry on with our mission and hopefully the mission of our parents, because our parents pass the torch to us the next generation. A big part of my moms mission -other than caring for my sister and I 

was showing kindness to others.  I will remember her by showing kindness to other people  and the animals who cross my path. Also, I will continue to instill kindness in our daughter. 


When we experience great loss, our pets are often there to listen and bring great comfort and unconditional love.  They help us to heal and show us how to appreciate the simple things in life. Some of them purr to calm us ; some of them gives us kisses ; and some just simply lay beside us to comfort us with their presence.


Thank you Mom for all of your loving kindness!  We hope you are surrounded by peace and happiness and beauty, and we hope to see you one day again!



Covid19 Article



We want to shed some light on what is known about the Covid-19  crisis and how it relates to our companion animals  --- specifically cats and dogs.


First of all, according to the most recent info from the CDC for companion animals (as of 4/30/20), “At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes Covid – 19. Based on the limited data available, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”   However, “…it appears that in some rare situations, people can spread the virus to animals.   If you are sick with Covid-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would with people.”  The CDC also says “Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes Covid-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets. “  


CDC recommends these 6 pieces of advice:


1) “Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.”


2) “ Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.”


3) “Avoid dog parks or public places where large numbers of people and dogs gather.”


4) “Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other people or animals.”


5) “Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.


6) “Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.”



Google ”CDC guidance for vets for new info. as it becomes available.



A major veterinary diagnostic lab, Idexx, has a PCR (DNA) test for detecting Covid-19 in dogs, cats, and horses.  More than 4000 specimens were tested over a month period beginning 2/14/20. These specimens came from the U.S. and South Korea. The Seattle area was included and was “ground zero” for Covid– 19 in the U.S..  The tests were done at the same time as human CDC tests for Covid-19 were being performed. No positives were found in the cats, dogs, or horses. This testing is ongoing and now being done in Canada, all U.S.  states, and countries within the European Union. This includes areas where the rates of human Covid -19 is high.  


However, around 3/5/20 and 3/19/20, there were 2  dogs from different families who tested positive for Covid-19 in Hong Kong. Both of the dogs’ owners tested positive and were sick before testing was done on the dogs. No symptoms of coronavirus were detected in the dogs, and they were quarantined for 14 days.  Around March 27thit was reported that a cat in Belgium, who belongs to an owner who had Covid-19, showed signs of illness one week after the owner became ill.  The cat exhibited respiratory issues and nausea/diarrhea and recovered 9 days later.  The owner submitted feces and vomit samples from the cat to the lab.  High levels of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material was found.   In the United States, the USDA recently confirmed a case of SARS-CoV-2 in a tiger in New York City’s Bronx Zoo earlier in April.  This tiger was most likely infected by a zoo employee who was Covid -19 positive.Tigers and lions in a nearby enclosure also developed respiratory symptoms, but all are recovering well.  Last week, two pet cats in New York became the first U.S. pets to test positive for Covid-19.  Both cats are expected to make a full recovery per USDA and CDC.  Also, a dog in North Carolina recently tested positive for Covid -19. His family had Covid 19 last month, but the dog’s virus level was very low and he had minor symptoms of a mild cough and did not eat breakfast one morning. He is the first dog to test positive in the U.S.


If we are not sick with Covid-19, our pets do so much to comfort us, benefit our mental and emotional health, decrease our blood pressure, and show us how to appreciate the simple things in life. They are very important in our lives right now.   I am sure our pets are also enjoying our company more these days and like the fact that many of us are working from home more. 


Veterinarians have been directed to provide only essential medical care for pets and to consider the health of everyone involved --- their own health, the health of their own families, the health of their staff, and the health of their clients. Telemedicine is being practiced more as long as the pet is already an established patient with the veterinarian.


Please stay current for Covid-19 updates on pets and peopleand follow the advice of trusted scientists and health experts on Covid-19 !    STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY !

Holiday 2020 Article

When is a better time than the holidays to thank our pets for all they do  to comfort us, accept us as we are, entertain us, keep us warm on a cold night, and now more than ever----help us keep our sanity?  So here are some ideas for holiday gifts that are free, cost a little, or cost a little more. 


Let’s start with the free ones, since we are all living in difficult times. Feline enrichment does not have to cost extra money.   For cats, turning the television on to a nature channel or putting in a nature DVD or video (from the Gen X generation) can really entertain cats—especially if chirping birds are present.   Also, on a warm day ---opening the windows with screens secured and an old blanket or towel on the windowsill can really be like cat heaven for your indoor cats. You can also make bird treats that you hang on a tree with wire or string out of a pine cone base with peanut butter and bird seed applied to the cone.  Then watch your cats be entertained for hours. Or simply set up the boxes you are receiving around the house after they are empty. Cats love to hide in them and play in them. For dogs, taking them in new and Covid-safe areas on a walk, a ride to a new place in a car if they do well on car rides, or just taking them outside on a leash and sitting in a chair for a while to enjoy nature and breathe some fresh air can help. Playing fetch inside a fence is also fun for them.  Lots of extra pats, hugs, and backscratches, and brushing are also welcomed by most cats and dogs.  Talking to the cats and dogs when no one else wants to listen is also welcomed by most cats and dogs.  


Next, homemade cat and dog treats are an especially appreciated item for your pets. Just make sure you take any dietary needs/restrictions into account, and make sure they are vet-approved.  Refer to pet treats and pet treats. Make sure no xylitol is used in any treats. It is an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs and possibly cats.


Next, cat toys and dog toys that stimulate their minds and encourage exercise can be found in various places.  It decreases boredom, helps cats  display their predatory behavior on toys rather than on your furniture or hands and arms.  Some Toys also help decrease incidence of obesity. Wand toys can increase bonding with your cats. Cat trees help provide exercise. Cat scratchers---horizontal and vertical---help cats and you to prevent destruction of furniture.  Smart toys for dogs can help decrease boredom and separation anxiety when owners are away for work.


Cats and dogs who have orthopedic issues such as arthritis can really benefit from the wide variety of orthopedic beds available on the market. It can really improve their comfort along with an exam/consult with your veterinarian.


We also want to give a  piece of advice for this winter. Don’t stop the flea/tick control for your dogs and cats. Ticks are still prevalent and never completely go away in the winter. Animals and people still get tick-borne disease in the winter.  It has been abnormally warm, and we have seen recent tick-borne disease in pets in our area. Make sure you consult with your veterinarian for the best products for your dogs and cats. Also, consult the ASPCA Cold Weather Safety Tips on the web. 


Stay safe and Happy Holidays to you and your pets !


New Year 2021 Article

Since it is the beginning of a new year, we would like to share our recommended New Year’s resolutions for you and your pet. Due to the harsh lessons of 2020, most of us have realized by now that taking care of the basic needs of ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities should be our top priorities. This includes our furry companions also, not onlybecause they deserve it, but they take care of us in return. We have learned that mental health is just as important as physical health, because our brains are part of our bodies. Physical health affects mental health, and mental health affects physical health. 


First, making sure we feed a nutritious diet to our furry companions is important to prevent and sometimes treat health problems.  Have your veterinarian help you with this choice. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition ( also has some helpful articles for pet owners.


Second, we should give our pets exercise every day---walks for dogs and playing with interactive cat toys for cats. There are so many options for exercising cats, including feather wands and laser lights and horizontal and vertical scratching devices.   Exercise is good for pets’  mental health and behavior, just like it is for our mental health/behavior.  Indoor cats can fulfill their need for predatory behavior with toys and scratching posts indoors, and it can help prevent them from  fighting with other pets, biting or scratching your feet while you sleep, and 

from scratching your furniture or rugs. Try putting catnip or special treats on the scratching devices. Spending time petting or playing with our cats and dogs is good for our mental and physical health also.


Third, making sure you follow a preventive healthcare plan by consulting with your veterinarian on your pet’s lifestyle, breed, and temperamentis very helpful in prolonging your pet’s quality of life and lifespan.  It also promotes  a positive human-animal bonding experience. These preventive healthcare plans include regular wellness exams, vaccinations,  behavioraltraining and consults, nutritional consults, and dental care consults.


Preventive dental care can help decrease the need for expensive dental care, improve your pet’s lifespan and overall health,  andalso prevent bad breath which has a negative effect on the human-animal bond. So many great options for preventive dental care can be found on the Veterinary Oral Health Council website—  


According to the CDC and the Healthy Pets, Healthy People website, studies have shown that the human-animal bond can contribute to “Decreased blood pressure, Decreased cholesterol levels, Decreased triglyceride levels, Decreased feelings of loneliness, Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, Increased opportunities for socialization”.  Studies have also shown that the human-animal bond “can increase  fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.”


Finally, during these times of extreme need, we should help others if we can. There are many opportunities to donate food to people and pets if you are able.  One option for human food is Hampstead’s Little Free Pantry at the back of St. John’s United Methodist Church. It is accessible 24/7 for those who need food or want to donate food.  One for pets is MCQE Mobile Pet Pantry with dropoff locations at The Mill of Hampstead and Manchester Pharmacy. Monetary Donations are also accepted for food and other pet needs on the Humane Society of Carroll County website ( 410-848-4810). 


Kitties Article

In America, the most popular pet is still a dog, but cats are the second most popular pet and owned by about 34% of the American public. About 32 million pet cats live in the United States.  According to veterinarian Dr. Liz Bales in DVM 360 October 2021,  cat owners dont understand the physical and psychological needs of cats, and it results in the leading cause of death in pet cats being euthanasia due to behavioral issues.  Only half as many cats, in comparison with dogs, see a veterinarian for an annual exam. During these exams, behavioral as well as physical health should be discussed. Behavioral and physical health are closely linked in cats.


Cats  have been worshipped by the Egyptians and demonized in Europe over their long history with humans. When humans began settling and growing crops, they began to see many cats who kept rodents away from their stored surplus crops.  The most docile cats invited themselves into peoples lives and became a treasured species.


However, we need to understand our pet cats better to keep them happy and healthy. Many people grew up in a household where cats were considered outdoor pets, and dogs were considered indoor pets. Living in suburbia next to a 50 mile per hour highway leads to a very short lifespan for some feline friends. According to Dr. Liz Bales, to keep indoor cats healthy, we need to realize four facts:                                                                                                    


1) Cats are solitary animals and dont depend on others cats for survival.


2) Cats feel comfortable in a place that smells like them.


3) Cats are instinctive hunters who would normally hunt 8 - 12 mice every day,        

   expending a lot of energy while hunting.


4) Most cats desire less handling and less intense affection than dogs.



In order to satisfy the psychological and physical needs of indoor pet cats, Dr. Liz Bales says  we need to provide the following four opportunities for cats :


1) High places such as cat trees, shelves,  bookcases, dressers, etc. 

     This allows for isolation and more security from any competition such as other cats                 

      Or dogs. There should be enough places for each cat in the house.


2)    Places to hide such as catbeds under a bookcase, bed, or coffee table; caves, 

      boxes, closets, or cubbies inside cat trees where they can rest in isolation. Again, 

      there should be as many suitable places as there are cats.           

       Also, having at least one litterbox per number of cats or more, providing solitary     

       And quiet areas throughout the house for elimination. 


3).   Ways to satisfy their hunting instincts, and ways to eat and drink in isolation from    

      Other cats or dogs. Separate feeding and drinking stations throughout the house           

       Equal to the number of cats in the house, and where dogs cannot interfere. 

       Sureflap feeders are microchip-activated feeders that can be beneficial to allow 

       Each cat to have their own feeder. Hunting behaviors can be satisfied by placing

       Mice or bird toys throughout the house with food pockets in them. Also, 5 minutes  

       Twice daily  using a wand  toy with a butterfly or mouse or bird on it and 

       Simulating the animal moving away with jerking motions. Once the cat catches 

       The toy, drop a treat for them. Some cats also like feeding balls, where you put 

       Their food in a ball that they roll to make the food drop out. Sometimes cats like to  

        “Hunt” your toes or fingers, and this type of play twice a day may help alleviate 

        Those behaviors.


4).      Making sure to listen” when your cat wants you to stop playing or wants you to 

          Stop petting them or holding them. Some cats like more attention than others.

          Make sure to leave them alone if they just want to rest.  Dont wake a sleeping 




Please have your  vet give your cat a wellness exam at least once yearly, and discuss psychological and physical health issues and any behavioral problems your cat is experiencing. It may just save your cats life and even your carpet or furniture. 


Thanksgiving Article

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, first we want all of us to acknowledge just how much our pets mean to us and how thankful we are for having them in our lives.  Second, we want to give advice on how to make Thanksgiving safe and more pleasant for our pets.


As most us pet owners know, pets can have a very positive influence on our physical and mental wellbeing. Some days in our chaotic, scary world, they are the best ones to comfort us when no one else can.  They can be a very stabilizing, grounding force for all of us.  And they can do this without even talking.  They are very significant members of our universe and have a very special purpose. 


In the recent Special Time Edition, “ The Science Of Stress “,  many studies and experiences  involving the positive effect of animals on people are highlighted.  Some involve psychiatric service dogs who are actually trained to help people with certain physical and mental impairments.  Some dogs can detect anxiety, oncoming seizures, and even cancer in people.  Enlightening studies have been done at the School of Medicine Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University by Sandra Barker, professor of psychiatry.

Pets have been shown in these studies to increase social interaction, decrease stress hormones, and increase oxytocin (a calming hormone).  Dogs, cats, and horses are used in the treatment of depression, addiction, PTSD, anxiety, and autism”. According to Ann Berger, a physician and researcher who works with cancer patients and other terminal patients at NIH Clinical  Center  in Bethesda, Md“The foundations of mindfulness include attention, intention, compassion and awareness.” “All of those . . .  are things that animals bring to the table. People kind of have to learn it. Animals do this innately.”  Mindfulness is used for treatment of anxiety.



Now we will highlight some of the ways you can protect your pet around Thanksgiving:


1) Keep your pets safe inside and don’t let them run out the door when visitors arrive.  


2) Be aware that all pets don’t like each other and avoid opportunities for fights between pets who do not know each other.


3) Make sure your visitors don’t bring objects or food/candy/gum into the house that could  be harmful to your pets. It is best that they take their belongings into a room where the door can be closed and the pets cannot enter. Refer to ASPCA website for information on toxic items. Make sure any plants/flowers brought to the house are not toxic to your pets, or keep them in a room away from your pets. Strings/rubberbands/twist ties/hair bands/ some children’s toys/stuffed animals could turn into surgical obstructions in some pets.  


4) Be careful with all food being served to people –that it is not within reach of the pets and that visitors or family members do not serve it to the pets.  Many dogs can get gastric bloat around Thanksgiving --- a very expensive surgical problem that has a high mortality rate.  Many dogs can get other serious gastrointestinal problems that may require an emergency hospital visit and/or a hospital stay.  Cats can also develop gastrointestinal issues from consumption of human food.  The stress of visitors and noisy environments can induce seizures in seizure-prone dogs, and stress urinary issues in cats.  Unless your pet feels very comfortable and happy with the visitors, it is best to give them their own quiet area separate from all of the commotion. High quality dog or cat treats may be given in moderation, as long as your pet does not have a food allergy/intolerance or a sensitive stomach. 



Have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember to give your pets a little extra attention for all they do for us.

Mama Cat Article



In the middle of another challenging winter season, we figured it may be good to write an article about one of our beloved rescue cats who brings much joy, comfort, support, and laughter to our days, and reminds us constantly why we chose to be veterinarians even when it is difficult. She is one several rescued cats (who all have different special attributes) in our current household. 


Her name is Mama, and was named by our late mother-in-law / mother when she came to her farm and gave birth to kittens in her barn in Westminster about 8 years ago. Cats are especially choosy about where they give birth to their kittens, and she must have realized that she was in a safe place where she would be loved and her kittens would be welcomed. My mother-in-law had a farm full of animals when she unexpectedly passed on at 80 years old. She had 2 horses, 6 cats, 1 dog, 2 chickens, and 2 pet fish in her pond. 


When our mother-in-law/mother passed on in November 2018, Mama became our cat along with one of her sons, Purry . The other pets were all adopted out to carefully-researched good homes.  


When Mama first came to our house, we kept her in a bathroom until she was carefully integrated into our home with other cats. The first thing we noticed about her personality, was how she “chirped” hellos to us. She also has had a chronic respiratory condition since her appearance on the farm. This causes her to sneeze and snort frequently with some intermittent mild discharge from her eyes. It is a chronic condition that can only be treated and not cured. We knew that most people would not be accepting of this, especially since she like to sleep near us in our bed. However, we know that she is not contagious to us or the other cats, and we experience worse discharges from pets during our daily life as veterinarians. 


When she became more comfortable with us, she began a nightly ritual of “combing” my hair with her claws as I slept. Sometimes, I would wake up and gently encourage her to stop the “combing”, but she often managed to do more while I slept. The crazy hairdos I woke up with!! 

I would only let my immediate family see my hair in this condition. It can take 15 minutes of intense brushing with a waste basket nearby to dispose of the tangled hair. Luckily, I currently have enough more hair to make up for the loss. She still does it sometimes when I am sleeping deeply, but I have managed to decrease the frequency. 


Another really funny thing she does is play with empty cardboard toilet paper rolls. At one point, we were concerned about this crazy loud meowing she would do, even sometimes when we were sleeping in the middle of the night. We thought something was really wrong with her, but finally figured out she is “catching her prey”, which is the cardboard roll, and then announcing it to us with pride. 


Something else she used to do more often, is trying to catch our toes with her claws while we slept. Even though it was funny, it really hurts!  We now work hard to keep our toes covered under a thick blanket, and we have increased the number of predatory cat toys to decrease her need to “catch our toes”.


We  are convinced that “Mama” has a sense of humor !  If she could only speak English !

Even during more normal times, pets are so good at comforting us and amusing us. However,

these unprecedented isolating times even highlight moreso --- the power of the human-animal bond to heal us


In honor of Betty White’s devotion to animals, we should all give $ 5.00 to a local animal shelter or other animal-related cause on her birthday Jan. 17th when she would have been 100 years old. Google Betty White Challenge for more info. According to, Betty White once said, “I have to stay in show business to pay for my animal business. I’ve found them endlessly fascinating since I was born.” Betty White was a true heroine !