Monthly Archives: February 2012

Ask the Vet’s Pets: Tabby is cat’s coat pattern, not breed

Dear Christopher Cat: What is the difference between a tabby and a tiger cat? Is a tabby a purebred? Christopher Responds: I am a long-haired tabby, born to a female barn cat and a tomcat that visited one spring. In other words, while I am outstanding in many ways, I am not purebred or even what one might call well-bred. Tabby is actually not a breed, but a coat pattern common among purebreds and mixed-breed cats, referred to as domestic short- or long-haired cats. The classic tabby has a blotched or swirled pattern of dark markings over a lighter coat color. A classic tabby often has a bull’s eye on each side or a butterfly shape on top. A marbled tabby is a classic tabby whose coat has a cloudy appearance. The mackerel tabby, often called a striped tabby or a tiger cat, has narrow stripes of dark fur instead of the blotches or swirls of the classic tabby. In the “broken mackerel,” the stripes appear as dashes or broken lines. Other tabby variations include the spotted tabby, which has dark spots instead of stripes or swirls, and the ticked or Agouti tabby, which is flecked. Tabbies have thin, dark stripes on the face, expressive markings around the eyes, and an “M” on the forehead. Some tabbies have white bellies and feet. We tabbies come in a variety of colors, including brown, orange, gray and my own black and silver. Female tabbies can even be calico (a combination of orange, black and white) or tortoiseshell (orange and black.)

Holly is a Grey Muzzler with a Heart of Gold

We first met Holly, a Grey Muzzle dog, and her foster mom when she came in to our hospital for a check-up. She is a Chihuahua mix with a heart of gold. After having surgery to remove her bladder stones she is right as rain and ready for adoption. She would love nothing more than to spend these cold winter months snuggled up on the lap of her new owner.
Want to learn more about Holly or Grey Muzzle, or join their foster family network? Contact Marcy Tocker at You can also become a part of GMARP -Grey Muzzle Association of Retired Pooches, which provides 100 percent of the funding for the program. Just download the application and get involved!

Meet Grey Muzzle … a Critical Part of the Animal Rescue League of Berks County

Bernville Veterinary Clinic has a special place in its heart for groups that share our commitment to caring for those in our society that are at the greatest risk …. that’s why we are a strong supporter of Grey Muzzle, which removes vulnerable senior and special-needs dogs from the shelter environment and places them in foster homes where they can thrive. Grey Muzzle is an important part of the Animal Rescue League of Berks County. The shelter environment is a stressful and scary place for all animals, but for older dogs it is especially traumatic. Unforutnately senior dogs are often overlooked in favor of young puppies. The Grey Muzzle foster program places these dogs in foster care where they receive the necessary medical and dental care they need to make them adoptable. Since the program was created in 2009, Grey Muzzle has adopted out more than 250 senior dogs! Want to learn more about Grey Muzzle, or join their foster family network? Contact Marcy Tocker at You can also become a part of GMARP -Grey Muzzle Association of Retired Pooches, which provides 100 percent of the funding for the program. Just download the application and get involved!

A Free Dental Cleaning is a Reason to Smile

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats exhibit dental disease by age three. Dental disease that’s not addressed causes infections and other problems elsewhere in the body. With good dental care, you can prevent these problems. Professional cleaning, when needed, is done under general anesthesia. The crowns of the teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, and the portions of the teeth under the gums are hand-scaled to remove plaque that would otherwise damage the gums. The teeth are polished to produce a smooth surface to which plaque cannot easily attach, and all debris is flushed from under the gums. Finally, the veterinarian thoroughly examines the pet’s mouth and charts all findings in detail. Teeth are extracted only if necessary to ensure the health of the rest of the mouth. Good dental care keeps your pet’s mouth sweet-smelling and free of pain -– and helps the rest of your pet’s body remain healthy, too. If your veterinarian recommended professional dental cleaning, schedule it now and receive 10 percent off to celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month. Better yet, win a free dental cleaning (exam and cleaning; extractions not included) by entering the Show Us Your Smile contest we described earlier. And when the month is over, remember that good dental care is a year-round endeavor.

Ask the Vet’s Pets: Isn’t there an easier way to care for my dog’s teeth and gums?

Dear Daisy Dog: You recommend brushing a dog’s teeth, but to be honest, it’s all I can do to make sure my kids brush their teeth. Isn’t there an easier way to care for my dog’s teeth and gums? What do you think of water additives? Daisy Responds: By three years of age, 80 percent of us dogs have dental disease. Unfortunately, disease in the mouth can spread elsewhere, compromising kidney, liver and heart function. So it’s important to minimize the plaque and tartar that give rise to dental disease. The “Essential healthymouth” anti-plaque water additives are effective at decreasing plaque in dogs and cats. The Veterinary Oral Health Council evaluated multiple research studies and granted these products the VOHC Seal of Acceptance in recognition of their efficacy. Since other water additives have not been approved by the VOHC, consumers have no way of knowing whether they really work. Your dog undoubtedly would prefer a product shown to be effective. You also can reduce your dog’s plaque and tartar if you feed a dental diet, offer dental treats and use a mouth spray or oral gel. For a list of effective products, visit February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so this is a good time to have the veterinarians at Bernville Veterinary Clinic evaluate your dog’s mouth and recommend ways to help enhance his oral health care.

Dr. Steve’s New Penn State Blog

This is my first blog in what I hope will be a series on Penn State happenings. I know there are many of you out there. Well, it’s time to move forward after saying goodbye to JoePa. He was the major factor in turning a good university into a great one. His unique style that set Penn State apart will probably never be duplicated in this day and age. I have vague memories of a Navy game at Beaver Stadium when my sister attended in 1964. I’m told the great Roger Staubach beat PSU that day but I only remember a cheapo souvenir lion that held my interest. Joe was assistant at that time. I have clearer memories of listening to games on Saturdays with my transistor AM radio dreaming of one day being a hero on the field. As your laughter dies down on that thought, I at least will say in my defense that I was a rather large kid up until eighth grade. For some reason that was my peak adult height. Now I am shrinking, but that’s another story. For me it was always Joe Paterno & the Nittany Lions. I have been a season ticket holder since I was a freshman in 1978. It is hard to explain why a game is so important to me or why I was so deeply affected by a man that I only met briefly one day as a student but his death hit me hard. Anyone outside the Penn State bubble may not understand the immense pride that comes with being a Penn Stater but it is always there. I know it has been a rough year for the old blue & white. The press was very busy vilifying the whole university & football program. Many outsiders were kind of glad we were getting a bit of a comeuppance because we always had that holier than thou attitude. I must admit I did sort of feel we were a bit different and superior myself. But that attitude is built on years of high academic results combined with pretty consistent winning ways. The only two bowl games I have ever been to illustrate some other differences to me also. The first one I went to was the 2005 Orange Bowl against Florida State. Even though it was in their home state, it was like a home game for Penn State. The stadium was a great majority of Nittany Lions. Anytime they started with their signature chant we could easily drown them out with “We are, Penn State!” Then I hit the Rose Bowl a few years ago. Our seats were behind the USC bench for some reason. We got to see the USC players standing on their bench dancing and taunting the crowd as they beat us. You could never see that from a Nittany Lion team. My son is up there now and it’s been kind of a surreal year to be in Happy Valley but he says there is no place else he’d rather be right now. We both said to each other on my visit to honor Joe a couple weeks ago that we are really excited about next football season and we can’t wait for it to arrive. We can’t change anything so we might as well keep a positive attitude. The 2012 class of 19 is signed and hopefully our coaches can turn them into outstanding college players. They are already working on 2013’s class. Even though it’s different, I think Coach O’Brien can keep up Joe’s “Grand Experiment” and continue to do things the right way and keep winning. So far he’s said the right thing immediately to the recruits and their parents that a Penn State degree is why they are there first and foremost. I liked everything I’ve heard about the new coaching staff from on field tactics, education, to future recruiting. He may not have won the Super Bowl but now he can focus on Penn State. Our first chance to see the new team will be the Blue & White game this spring. I can’t wait. – Dr. Steve Stephan
The Views expressed within do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone else at The Bernville Veterinary Clinic.

Diego Metz: Cute Patient of the Week!

Kittens are always fun to have come into the hospital, it is a joy to watch them grow. We met little Diego when he came in for a pre-op exam. As it turned out Diego had a heart murmer so we had to have extra monitoring on surgery day. On one of our many trips back to his kennel we noticed that he had made himself a little cave out of the towels. It was too cute for words so we quick snapped his picture.

How to brush your pet’s teeth

Here’s part two of our series on good dental health for your pet. Last week we dicussed the benefits of good dental care. Before we move onto today’s topic — how to brush your pet’s teeth — please take a minute and enter our Show us Your Smile conest. The winner gets a free professional cleaning at our clinic. Second- and third-place winners get a three-month supply of Hill’s Healthy Advantage dog or cat food courtesey of Hills Pet Nutrition. Full contest details are available on our Facebook page. One of the best ways to maintain good dental health is to brush your pet’s teeth. Start by softening the bristles of an ordinary soft toothbrush with warm water and applying pet toothpaste to the brush. Pet toothpastes, which are flavored to appeal to pets, contain enzymes that are specific to the chemistry of the dog and cat mouth. Human toothpastes are not recommended because they are ineffective, foam too much and cause stomach upset when pets swallow them. Gently brush the cheek surfaces of the incisors, the front-most teeth. Over the next few sessions, extend the toothbrush further back in the mouth, so that eventually all teeth are brushed. The pet’s tongue removes much of the plaque from the inside surfaces of the teeth, so brushing should focus on the cheek surfaces of the teeth, where most of the plaque forms. You don’t need to rinse your pet’s mouth, because pet toothpaste is safe if swallowed. Tooth brushing is most effective if done daily, but every-other-day brushing also is beneficial.

It’s National Dental Month — Win a Free Dental Cleaning!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so this a good time to remember that dogs and cats benefit from good dental care, just as people do. Good dental habits begin early and include a healthy diet (preferably a dental diet approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council), regular tooth brushing, an annual physical examination to detect minor dental problems before they progress to major ones, and professional teeth cleaning when needed. We care so much about your pet’s health, that we are giving away a free dental cleaning as part of dental month. Just login to our Facebook page and join the contest. Simply post a picture of your pet’s “best smile” to enter. The winner is the picture with the most votes. Second- and third-place winners get a three-month supply of Hill’s Healthy Advantage dog or cat food courtesey of Hills Pet Nutrition. Full contest details are available on our Facebook page. The benefits of good dental care include more than sweet-smelling breath. Healthy teeth and gums decrease the risk of heart, kidney and liver disease, because bacteria in diseased gums travel through the bloodstream to these organs. In addition, good dental health reduces the need for tooth extractions. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, gingivitis (a red gum line which may actually shrink back from its usual position), loose teeth and decreased interest in food that requires chewing. Some pets even become lethargic as their mouths become more painful.