Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pet Halloween Alert: The Danger of Xylitol Sweetener

Xylitol toxicity in dogs Does your dog have a sweet tooth? Does he drool at the thought of sharing that deliciously sweet snack with you? Now there is one more reason to keep the sweets all to yourself. The sweetener xylitol is toxic to dogs. It has been known to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs for years, but recently it has been discovered that it can cause acute liver disease and a coagulopathy (inability to clot the blood). A study found that 0.5g/kg or more of ingested xylitol can cause liver failure. What does this mean in the real world? One piece of sugar free gum with xylitol has around 0.3g of xylitol in it. Some gums can have as much as 1g of xylitol per piece. If you bake with the xylitol powder one cup has 190g of xylitol. If a recipe calls for 1 cups of xylitol to make 24 cup cakes, it will only take 2 cupcakes to cause acute liver disease in a 50lb dog. What are the signs of xylitol toxicity? Vomiting is usually the first sign of toxicity and then in 30-60 minutes hypoglycemia can occur. The signs of hypoglycemia can be lethargy, ataxia (stumbling around), collapse, and seizure. In cases where gum with xylitol was ingested the hypoglycemia may be delayed for up to 12 hours. In severe over doses some dogs do not display the signs of hypoglycemia prior to the onset of liver failure. Instead lethargy and vomiting occurred 9-72 hours after exposure. They developed petechia (small spots of bleeding on the skin and mucus membranes like gums), echymosis (larger spots of bleeding seen on the skin and mucus membranes), and gastric hemorrhage (bleeding in the stomach). What can you do if your dog does ingest xylitol? Immediately bring him into us and let us know which items contained xylitol. Remember how much you pet consumed (always estimate on the high side because it is always better to be overly cautious when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your faithful friend). The moral of the story is to keep the sweets up and away from your furry friend. Xylitol may help you watch your waist line, but it can be deadly to your furry friend.

Pet Storm Tips

Power outages often happen during storms, but can happen at any time, during any season. Flashlights, batteries, food, a source of water and heat during the winter are basic necessities. Are your pets covered in your preparedness plan? Here are some power outage preparedness tips: •Thankfully, dogs and cats do not need much electricity in their daily lives. Fresh water and food are most important, so basic emergency precautions should cover those needs. If your pet is arthritic and cold weather is a concern, have plenty of padded, thick blankets for your pet to curl up on. •While not an emergency, often when the power is out, many appliances start beeping and flashing. This really bothers some animals so try to keep pets out of those rooms. •Water Supply: Besides having stored drinking water, it is also important to maintain sanitation for both family members and pets. Have some baby wipes handy to keep hands clean and not waste available water. •Food Supply: Keep readily available, easy-to-store snacks that do not require refrigeration or heating to eat. •Light Your Way: Have matches, candles, flashlights, and batteries on hand, and know where they are. A dedicated location works well. It is a good idea to periodically check that batteries are working in stored flashlights. •Be Candle and Fire Safe: Lit candles are useful for light, but having many lit candles can be dangerous. If pets and small children are around, there is even more danger of accidental fire or injury. Fire is also a risk with downed lines and sparking sub stations. Make sure to have plenty of fire extinguishers around the house, and know how to use them. Make sure that extinguishers are fully charged, and know where they are in the house and around your property.

The Fatal Disease that’s Frighteningly Common in our Community, by Dr. Lee Pickett

Clients sometimes ask if anything frustrates me about my job. My answer of late is the number of people who seem unconcerned that their pets aren’t vaccinated for rabies and think it’s nothing to worry about. So today I’d like to dispel some misconceptions about this fatal disease that is all too common in our community. Myth: Rabies isn’t very common locally Fact: During 2011, 450 animals tested positive for rabies in Pennsylvania, putting us once again near the top of the national chart. Berks County reported four cats, three raccoons, three skunks and one fox with rabies. Myth: I vaccinate my dogs against rabies, but I don’t need to vaccinate my cats, because they’re just barn cats. Fact: Every year, Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of rabid cats. Barn cats are at greatest risk because they spend time outdoors. If one of your unvaccinated barn cats contracts rabies and scratches or bites your child, dog or horse and then disappears, you’ll never know until it’s too late. Myth: It will be obvious if one of my animals develops rabies, and I can then take the necessary steps. Fact: While the clinical signs are usually neurologic, they aren’t always. Moreover, animals can transmit rabies 13 days before they show any signs of illness.One of my colleagues treated and eventually euthanized an indoor-outdoor cat for kidney failure confirmed by lab work. The unvaccinated cat had scratched the owner while being helped into the carrier for the trip to the animal hospital, so the veterinarian recommended rabies testing. Good thing, because despite the lack of neurologic signs, the cat tested positive for rabies. Myth: Rabies is an animal disease, not a human disease, so I don’t need to be concerned. Fact: Throughout the world, one person dies of rabies every 10 minutes. While most victims live in Africa and Asia, three people in the U.S. contracted rabies in 2011. A New Jersey woman who succumbed was unaware of any exposure to animals. A New York man who died had been bitten by a dog while he served in the military in Afghanistan. The third victim was an 8-year-old California girl who was scratched by a free-roaming, probably unvaccinated cat that was never caught. Myth: None of my animals are vaccinated for rabies, and there’s no law that says they have to be. Fact: Pennsylvania law requires rabies vaccination for dogs and cats, whether indoor or indoor-outdoor, starting at three months of age. Vaccination must be repeated the following year and then every one to three years, depending on the vaccine used. Also, you are required to produce a current rabies certificate when an authority requests it. The fine for disobeying the rabies law can go as high as $300 per day. So if your pet is overdue for rabies vaccination, please call us today at 610-488-0166 to set up an appointment. Whether you call them pet vaccinations, cat shots or dog shots, it’s important to get them to prevent this deadly disease.    


Please join us! The next seminar is on Monday night, 11/5/12 at Bernville Veterinary Clinic: Canine & Feline Behavior, with Dr. Lee Pickett
  • Normal canine & feline social development and communication
  • Canine behavior problems, including aggression and separation anxiety
  • Feline behavior problems, including inappropriate elimination, aggression and clawing furniture
All sessions take place Monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Bernville Veterinary Clinic, 7135 Bernville Road, Bernville, PA 19506 The workshops are FREE, but space is limited, so please RSVP to or 610-488-0166  

Pet Halloween Safety Tip # 1

No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call us ASAP!  

Look What Desiree Found!

Desiree has been a veterinary technician assistant with Bernville Veterinary Clinic since 2002. She graduated from Penn State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences. Last week, while on her nightly walk with her right-hand hound, Dobbie, Desiree happened across this beautiful 6-month-old kitten, who walked right up to them and started purring away. Scarlett, as Desiree named the kitten, was examined and vaccinated by Dr. Pickett. Everyone is charmed by her extra toes, her playfulness and her lovable nature. Today, Scarlett will be spayed, fully vaccinated, dewormed and ready for her forever home.

Breast Cancer in Dogs

A mammary tumor is a tumor originating in the mammary gland. It is a common finding in older female dogs that are not spayed (the incidence rate is one in 4 in unspayed female dogs over the age of 4), but they are found in other animals as well. The mammary glands in dogs are associated with their nipples and extend from the underside of the chest to the groin on both sides of the midline. There are many differences between mammary tumors in animals and breast cancer in humans, including tumor type, malignancy, and treatment options. Mammary tumors can be small, simple nodules or large, aggressive, metastatic growths. With early detection and prompt treatment, even some of the more serious tumors can be successfully treated. There are multiple types of mammary tumors in dogs. Approximately 50% of all mammary tumors in dogs are benign, and the other 50% are malignant. The most common benign form of canine mammary tumors is actually a mixture of several different types of cells. For a single tumor to possess more than one kind of cancerous cell is actually rare in many species. This combination cancer in the dog is called a ‘benign mixed mammary tumor’ and contains glandular and connective tissue. Other benign tumors include complex adenomas, fibroadenomas, duct papillomas, and simple adenomas. The malignant mammary tumors include: tubular adenocarcinomas, papillary adenocarcinomas, papillary cystic adenocarcinomas, solid carcinomas, anaplastic carcinomas, osteosarcomas, fibrosarcomas, and malignant mixed tumors. The 10 Early Warning Signs of Cancer ( From the American Veterinary Medical Association) ■Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow ■Sores that do not heal ■Weight loss ■Loss of appetite ■Bleeding or discharge from any body opening ■Offensive odor ■Difficulty eating or swallowing ■Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina ■Persistent lameness or stiffness ■Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecation