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Warning Signs:

You are often times the best judge as to when your pet is not feeling well. Assuring your pet's daily well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health.

The American Veterinary Medical Association therefore suggests that you consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs:

  • Abnormal discharges from the nose, eyes, or other body openings

  • Loss of appetite

  • Excessive water consumption or appetite

  • Marked, sudden, or unexpected weight loss or gain

  • Difficult, abnormal, or uncontrolled waste elimination

  • Abnormal behavior, sudden viciousness, or lethargy

  • Limping, lameness, or difficulty getting up,lying down, or using stairs

  • Excessive head shaking, scratching, and licking or biting any part of the body

  • Vomiting, coughing, wheezing, or sneezing

  • Lethargy, listlessness, or exercise intolerance

  • Abnormal lumps, swellings, growths, or painful areas

  • Dandruff, loss of hair, wounds, abrasions, lacerations, or dull hair coat.
  • Foul breath, broken teeth, or excessive tarter deposits on teeth

Dental Health:

Studies show that by age three, more than eighty percent of dogs and seventy percent of cats have experienced dental and/or gum disease. Bad breath could be an early warning sign of gingivitis, which leads to dangerous periodontal disease.Prevention is the key to helping pets maintain good oral health.

The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that pet owners follow three important steps:

  • Visit Your Veterinarian
    Just as dental visits are the cornerstone of a human dental program, visiting a veterinarian is the key to ensuring the health of your pet's teeth. A veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your pet as part of the dental evaluation.
  • Start a home dental care routine
    Removing plaque regularly from your pet's teeth should be partof a pet's home dental care routine.Since plaque forms daily and quickly changes to hard tarter, we recommend daily home dental care. Brushing is ideal; your veterinarian can show you how to brush your pet's teeth properly.We also provide gels and rinses to aid in preventative dental care.Pet owners can feed diets formulated to reduce plaque and/or provide certain treats and supplements to help remove plaque.Your veterinarian can offer more information on dietary options.
  • Get Regular Veterinary Dental Checkups
    Just as dental checkups are the cornerstone of human dental programs, scheduling appointments with the family veterinarian for regular dental examinations is essential. Your veterinarian needs to monitor the progress of your pet's preventive dental care routine similar to the way a dentist monitors your teeth.

We offer the Oravetsystem, a dental sealant and maintenance program, to promote oral health. We apply the Oravet sealant gel in our hospital on young animals or after a dental cleaning.After the initial application, you apply a gel to your pet's teeth on a weekly basis to maintain the sealant.


We must vaccinate our pets to protect them from several highly contagious and fatal diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals.

Young puppies and kittens are highly susceptible to infectious diseases as their natural immunity acquired through their mother's milk gradually wears off. For the first few months of life, animals should receive a series of vaccinations, usually 3-4 weeks apart, to decrease the risk of infection and to provide optimal protection against disease. Our veterinarians typically administer the final vaccine of the series to 16-week-old puppies and 12-week-old kittens and ferrets.

Traditionally, annual vaccinations were considered normal and necessary for dogs and cats. Through medical advancement, veterinarians have learned more about vaccines and their effect on immune systems; there is increasing evidence that the immunity triggered by some vaccines may provide protection beyond one year. However, other vaccines may fail to stimulate immunity for a full year, depending on exposure risks. Therefore, your veterinarian will tailor a vaccination program specifically for your pet to help maintain a lifetime of infectious disease protection.

Most pets respond well to vaccines, although some do experience adverse reactions. Usually, these reactions are mild and short-term; symptoms include fever, sluggishness, reduced appetite, swelling, and pain at the injection site. Vaccination is not without risk; however, failure to vaccinate leaves your pet vulnerable to lethal, preventable diseases.


Internal Parasites

Internal Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms can live inside your pet, rob your animal of vital nutrients, and cause organ disease. This may lead to abnormal symptoms, poor appetite, decreased energy, failure to thrive, serious anemia, organ failure, and even death. Puppies and kittens are especially susceptible to parasite infestation; however, this can be controlled, treated, and prevented.A fecal analysis or blood test may help diagnosis a parasite problem. Some parasites are transmissible to humans, especially children. Your veterinarian can discuss an appropriate, strategic internal parasite prevention program to protect the entire family.

External Parasites

External parasites include those pesky fleas, ticks, lice, or mites, among others. Some can be rather obvious, while others need a microscope for diagnosis.

Fleas are acrobatic pests that jump onto dogs, cats, and even humans. The development of the flea from egg to adult ranges from 14 to 140 days; our cooler Vermont weather extends the life cycle. If you see fleas on your pet, please consult with your veterinarian.There are many flea treatments and preventatives available; they range in effectiveness and some can be lethal. Before beginning any treatment, you should call your veterinarian's office and if it is okay to use, you should take care to follow the instructions exactly. Environmental treatment is an essential part of flea control. Regular, thorough vacuuming and frequent laundering helps to remove eggs, larvae, and pupae from the surroundings. If left untreated, fleas can cause severe skin infections, anemia, tapeworms, and uncomfortable stress.

Ticks, including the tick that transmits Lyme Disease, populate Vermont heavily. Ticks will attach to your pet for days, yet they can be difficult to see at first due to their small size. Ticks can transmit several different diseases. Check your pet daily for ticks or use a tick preventative that your veterinarian recommends. There are many tick treatments and preventatives available; they range in effectiveness and some can be lethal. Before beginning any treatment, you should call your veterinarian's office and if it is okay to use, you should take care to follow the instructions exactly. If you find a tick, consult with your veterinarian for removal, or remove it yourself correctly. It is important not to leave any part of the tick behind, especially the mouthparts. To remove a tick, use a special tick remover device or small tweezers; firmly grip the tick's mouth parts as close to the skin as possible and pull it out straight. You can clean the skin with hydrogen peroxide. Immerse the tick in alcohol to kill it. Save the tick in the alcohol and mark the date you removed it in the event clinical signs of disease occur and identification of the tick becomes necessary. If you notice fever, lameness, lethargy, or anything else unusual or abnormal, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. At Milton Veterinary Hospital, we offer Lyme Disease and Ehrlichia testing with the Heartworm test so we can screen your dog for these serious diseases transmitted by ticks.

Lice are species specific, which means they will not live on any type of animal, including humans, other than the species of animal they are currently residing. There are two kinds of lice: bloodsucking lice and chewing lice. With some practice, you can usually see lice with visual inspection. Lice are well-adapted parasites that are usually more of a nuisance than a threat to their hosts; it takes a large population of lice to drain the vitality of the animal they parasitize. If you examine your pet's hair coat frequently, you should be able to identify a concern and see your veterinarian for treatment before a major problem develops.

Mites are microscopic creatures that live deep within the animal's skin and ears. You cannot see most mites with the naked eye, but they can cause many irritating problems, including mange and ear infections. The most common presentation of an animal infected with mites is intense itchiness. You may also see hair loss, ear debris or discharge, and red, inflamed skin. Humans and other animals may pick up some types of mites; however, there are also mites that are not contagious. These non-contagious mites may indicate an underlying immune problem with your pet. Your veterinarian will need to identify and treat mite infestations.


The Vermont Department of Health provides an excellant fact sheet concerning rabies. Click (here) to access their website.

Heart Disease:

Heart disease in dogs, as in people, can be either present at birth or acquired, often developing during middle age. Acquired heart disease is more common, affecting many older dogs.
There are two common types of heart disease in dogs: In one type,a dog's heart valves lose their ability to close properly, causing abnormal blood flow. In the other type, the muscular walls of a dog's heart become thinned and weakened. Both types develop gradually over time and result in the same serious condition called heart failure.
Although some of the early stages of heart failure in dogs have no visible signs, heart failure can be diagnosed through a clinical evaluation by a veterinarian. Dogs with mild to moderate heart failure typically experience heart enlargement, coughing, lethargy and difficulty breathing. Severe heart failure is characterized by difficulty breathing (even at rest), fainting, profound intolerance to exercise, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Success of treatment depends on various factors, but early detection is always best.

Chronic Renal Failure:

Kidney disease in dogs occurs when the kidneys cannot adequately clear the blood of certain toxins. Chronic renal failure, or CRF, is a serious disease usually seen in older dogs. The most commonly observed signs of this disease are polydipsia (increased water intake), and polyuria (frequent urination)A diagnosis of chronic renal failure requires a physical exam and various laboratory tests. Chronic renal failure usually is caused by the normal aging process, due to the declining function of the kidneys with time.
The most common signs of chronic renal failure, increased water intake and frequent urination, are attempts by the body to compensate for a loss of kidney function by flushing out waste products that have accumulated in the bloodstream. A diagnosis of chronic renal failure requires a physical exam and various laboratory tests. No cure exists for kidney disease but there are ways to slow the progression. Dogs diagnosed with less severe chronic renal failure may be treated at home with medications and dietary changes. Your veterinarian usually will prescribe a prescription dog food, which has lower levels of protein, phosphorous, and sodium than regular food and hence reduces the workload on the kidneys. Dogs with chronic renal failure should have fresh water available to them at all times. Medications may be prescribed in order to control nausea, inappetence, mineral and electrolyte imbalances,hormonal deficiencies, and high blood pressure.


Diabetes mellitus is often called “sugar diabetes” and it comes in two types. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the insufficient production by the pancreas of the hormone known as insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a result of an inadequate response by the dog to insulin. High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) develop because the animal’s (and humans) body is unable to break down and use glucose properly. This inability causes sugar to appear in the urine (glucosuria) that in turn causes an excessive amount of urination (polyuria). To compensate for the increase in urination the dog must drink an excessive amount (polydipsia). Another common side effect of diabetes mellitus is weight loss in a dog that has maintained a good or even increased appetite. Although excessive drinking and urination are the most common symptoms, they are in no way the only ones. In addition to the weight loss, dogs can also develop signs of poor skin and hair coat, liver disease, vomiting, weakness in the rear legs (diabetic neuropathy), secondary bacterial infections and dehydration. They can also develop a life threatening condition known as ketoacidosis. A dog whose diabetes is not regulated will often become blind or have kidney problems develop as well. To diagnosis diabetes a veterinarian will first do a physical exam, and then run a number of blood and urine tests.
Insulin is the treatment of choice for diabetes mellitus in animals. Unfortunately, there is no standard dose for insulin which can be applied to all animals. Each diabetic animal has to have its dose tailored to its individual needs which is done over a stabilization period. After such a period, maintenance insulin doses should remain relatively constant.


The life cycle of the heartworm begins when an infected dog, carrying tiny immature heartworms (microfilariae) circulating in its blood, is bitten by a mosquito. The mosquito takes in microfilariae (larvae) when it feeds.
During the next two-three weeks, the larvae develop within the mosquito into the infective stage. When the mosquito feeds again, it can transmit infective larvae to the healthy dog. The larvae penetrate the dog's skin and migrate through the tissues and develop over the next few months, eventually reaching the dog's heart.
Once in the dog's heart, the worms can grow to as long as 14 inches and cause significant damage to the heart, lungs and other vital organs. If left untreated, heartworm disease can result in death.
The only way to know if your dog has heartworm disease is to have your veterinarian examine and test your dog. The procedure is quick and easy.
Once it is determined that your dog is free of heartworms, a preventative program will be recommended based on your pets age, lifestyle and frequency of testing.


CANINE DISTEMPER - is considered the most serious viral disease of dogs in the world. Approximately 50% of non-vaccinated,non-immunized dogs infected with CD virus develop clinical signs of disease and approximately 90% of those dogs infected with CD die. The disease is considered airborne and is highly contagious. It's more frequent and acutely affects pups under 3 months of age. Early clinical signs include anorexia, diarrhea, and dehydration. As the disease progresses, fever, depression, vomiting and bloody diarrhea may be observed, accompanied by signsof respiratory distress. Coughing, labored breathing, inflammation of tissues around the eyes and nose, and mucopurulent oculonasal discharge may occur.
Distemper is so prevalent and the signs so varied that any sick young dog should be taken to a veterinarian for a definite diagnosis.
Dogs that survive a natural infection usually develop sufficient immunity to protect them from distemper the rest of their lives. Many dogs — particularly pups — do not survive a naturally-acquired infection. The safest protection is vaccination.

Feline Panleukopenia:

Also known as feline distemper, feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral disease that occurs wherever there are cats. Cats at any age may be stricken. Young kittens, sick cats, and cats that have not been adequately immunized are most susceptible.
The feline panleukopenia virus is passed from cat to cat by direct contact or indirect contact such as bedding, cages, food dishes, and the hands or clothing of handlers that contact infected secretions. The first signs an owner might notice are generalized depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, dehydration, and hanging over the water dish.
Treatment is limited to supportive therapy as there are no antibiotics that can kill the virus. Strict isolation is essential and other cats that may have been in close association with the infected animal should be carefully examined.
Vaccines offer the safest protection. Specific vaccination schedules vary dependent on many factors, such as the disease incidence in the area, and age and health of the cat.

Feline Leukemia Virus:

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a usually fatal disease affecting the cat's immune system. This increases susceptibility to other disease in addition to causing leukemia. Signs of feline leukemia virus include weight loss, recurring or chronic illness, lethargy, fever, diarrhea, unusual breathing patterns, and a yellow color around the mouth and the whites of the eyes.
A blood test is necessary to prove that the feline leukemia virus is present.
Until recently, there was no vaccine available to fight this usually fatal disease. A newly developed inactivated virus vaccine can protect cats.
It's important that you discuss with your veterinarian a testing and vaccination program that will safegaurd your cat from feline leukemia.

Respiratory Disease:

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, and Feline Pneumonitis are all diseases of the respiratory tract of cats. Infected animals are highly contagious to other cats and may show either acute or chronic respiratory signs.
Your cat is seriously threatened by all three of these highly contagious respiratory diseases. These diseases are easily transmitted from cat to cat through direct contact, through the air by sneezing or coughing, or by contact with you if you've been close to infected cats.
A cat with a respiratory disease appears to have a serious cold with fever, loss of appetite, depression, and pneumonia. For some cats any one of these diseases could be fatal. The best protection is vaccination. Have your veterinarian establish a vaccination program that will safegaurd your cat against respiratory diseases.

Basic First Aid:

A sick or injured animal is often in a frightened state, so if emergency first aid is necessary protect yourself (even if it's your own pet); cats can be handled with gloves or wrapped in a blanket - a dog can be muzzled. If there's any question of seriousness, follow up your first aid with advice from your veterinarian, whose listing should be kept handy with other emergency phone numbers. Of course, before an emergency ever arises, it's a good idea to learn all you can about first aid techniques and pet health care. Never leave dangerous objects like pins, needles, or fish hooks within reach. And be well aware of your pet's normal behavior, so you can recognize what's not normal. Remember that the objective is to relieve suffering . . . perhaps even to save a life. Emergency first aid is most effective when rendered quickly, but calmly.

"Keep your veterinarian's telephone number handy with other emergency phone numbers."


Family pets (and all animals) risk all kinds of poisoning from all kinds of places. Snakes can poison; some plants can poison; and hundreds of poisonous materials are used around the home by people every day — things like pesticides, weed killers, lawn sprays, acids, fertilizers, paints . . . the list is endless.
Here's what you can do if your pet is poisoned:

  • Keep the animal warm and quiet
  • Try to determine what the poison was, when it was ingested, and the amount swallowed
  • Immediately call your veterinarian or your nearest poison control center
  • If you take the pet to your veterinarian, bring the container (or the label) with you.

Most of the time poisoning is accidental. Keep poisonous materials out of reach, know what your pet is doing at all times, and keep emergency telephone numbers handy.

Heat Stroke:

Heatstroke may kill or seriously injure your pet — but it can easily be avoided.
Never leave pets in cars on warm days; exercise during the cool part of the day; look for rapid breathing;loud panting; or staggering.
Should signs of heatstroke occur, immediately call your veterinarian and in the meantime quickly get the animal to a shady ventilated area, and sponge off with cool water.

Flea Season:

As a loving pet owner, you'd do anything to prevent your cat or dog from suffering. After all, they're part of the family. Yet every year when flea season begins, the suffering sets in. It's like an old broken record. Fleas bite, and the scratching and chewing starts again. It's a painful and irritating routine for you and your pet. But that's just the beginning.
The adult fleas on your pet can actually cause serious medical problems -- like flea allergy dermatitis or tapeworms, and in some extreme cases, anemia. Flea-related diseases account for more than 50 percent of dermatologic cases presented to veterinarians and more then 35 percent of the total small animal veterinary effort.
Ideally, flea control should begin as flea prevention -- before flea season starts.
Your veterinarian is a flea expert and can advise you on the latest new products that kill adult fleas, eggs, and larvae, and that take care of fleas in your environment.

Winter Tips: A "PAWS for PETS" Feature by: Gail C. Golab, DVM, PhD.


It is best to keep pets indoors during the winter months, but if this is not possible, outdoor pets must be provided with shelter. Their home should be elevated off the ground to prevent moisture accumulation and have a door of some kind to keep out winter winds, sleet, and snow. Shelters should be insulated or heated. Water sources may be heated to permit constant access to unfrozen water; thermal units designed specifically for this purpose are readily available. Outdoor pets require extra calories to keep warm feed your pet according to its needs when the temperature drops. In severely cold or inclement weather, no pet should be kept outside. Indoor pets should have sleeping quarters in a draft-free, warm area with their bed or mattress elevated slightly off the floor.

Roaming cats:

Roaming cats, as well as house pets and wildlife, may climb onto vehicle engines for warmth during cold weather. Be sure to check under the hood before starting your vehicle and honk the horn to startle any animals seeking shelter inside.

Frostbite and snow removal salt:

Snow and salt should be removed from your pets paws immediately. Frostbitten skin is red or gray and may slough. Apply warm, moist towels to thaw out frostbitten areas slowly until the skin appears flushed. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for further care. Snow removal products should be stored out of the reach of pets and small children as their toxicity varies considerably.

American Veterinary Medical Association
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