Hints & Tips of the Month

What You Should Know about Caring for your Pet

Hints & Tips
Hints & Tips

Summer Warnings

Heat - make sure pets have access to shade and indoors fans or air conditioning. Water always needs to be available.
Cars - do not leave any animal in a car at any time. Temps can become lethal in 5 minutes. They will be more comfortable at home.
Parasites and bugs - Misquitoes, ticks, fleas, flies, and stinging insects can all cause systemic and topical diseases. Use properly labeled bug repellant and flea and tick treatments.
BBQ's - bones and grilled food can cause stomach upset, potentially broken teeth, and foreign body problems.
Traveling - make sure you have a copy of vaccine records, your pet is microchipped, and your pets have collars with ID tags on them. Keep them on a leash or crated at all times during travel. 

Love Your Pet, see Your Vet

Your 4-legged family members should have the same routine health checks as your 2-legged family members! 

Spring Cautions

Many bulbs can be toxic and lilies are very toxic to cats and dogs. Cocoa shell mulch is toxic. Older hoses can have lead lining and if left out in the sun, the water can get hot enough to burn. Rodenticides with Bromethalin have no antidote and work so fast there is no time to treat. Lawn fertilizers have been linked to bladder cancer in dogs. 


Although deer ticks are alive and active 24/7, 365 days a year, other ticks, ie brown dog ticks, do hibernate. March and April are one of the times of year when there is a feeding frenzy, and all ticks are out at the same time. This repeats in September and October as they go into hibernation. Since deer ticks are always here, tick treatments should be done every 28 days, year round. For those of you who do stop the treatments, all products say you need 2 consecutive 28 treatments to reach efficacy. Your veterinarian should be your source of information since there are now many new products on the market. 

Pet Dental Health Month

Dental disease in cats and dogs is as big a problem as in people. Vetrerinary dentists believe dogs and cats need their teeth cleaned while under anesthesia by the age of seven. The bacteria from plaque,tarter, and gingivitis can shower the entire body causing kidney, heart, and liver disease and make your pet ill.  

Obesity and Diabetes

As we make our resolution, we should add our pets. Obesity in our pets is as much a problem as in ourselves. There are very few animals that can eat the suggested amount recommended on the label of the can or bag of pet food. Pet treats are like cookies and candy. The end result can be the link to diabetes, especially in cats. There are charts with visuals of our pets ideal body images. Stop in and check it out or go on-line to pet obesity.

How old is your Cat?

Cat's Age Human Age
1 15
2 25
4 40
7 50
10 60
15 75
20 105

How old is your Dog?

Age 0-20 lbs 21-50 lbs 51-90 lbs >90 lbs
5 36 37 40 42
6 40 42 45 49
7 44 47 50 56
8 48 51 55 64
9 52 56 61 71
10 56 60 66 78
11 60 65 72 86
12 64 69 77 93
13 68 74 82 101
14 72 78 88 108
15 76 83 93 115
16 80 87 99 123
17 84 92 104
18 88 96 109
19 92 101 115
20 95 105 120

How Long Will They Live?

Rabbit 6–10 years
Guinea Pig 5–7 years
Chinchilla 10–12 years
Hedgehog 4–6 years
Rat 2–3 years
Hamster 1.5–2 years
Gerbil 3–4 years
Mouse 1.5–2.5 years

Gentle Leader Head Collar - Premier Pet Product

The Gentle Leader head collar offers a fast, gentle, effective way to control unwanted behavior—without harsh methods or devices. Because it's scientifically designed to work with your dog's natural instincts, behavior can be changed in minutes—not weeks. This collar was created and designed by a veterinarian. The head collar is NOT a muzzle! When it fits properly, your dog is free to open his mouth, eat, drink, pant, fetch, bark and even bite—except when you close his mouth by pulling on the leash.

Teaches "sit."
Stops pulling and lunging.
Prevents jumping.
Controls barking.
Stops begging.
Won't choke.
Helps with aggression problems.

This collar also has a training video to help you and your family learn to fit and use the Gentle Leader head collar to its full potential.

You can also call our office for an initial collar-fitting appointment and demonstration on how to use the collar.

The Nose Loop

Dogs are naturally "pack" animals with a highly structured social order. One of the ways the pack leader will demonstrate his position is to gently but firmly grasp the muzzle of a subordinate dog in his mouth. This is a non-aggressive but very clear signal regarding who's the boss! The nose loop encircles your dog’s muzzle in the same manner, letting him know in his own language that you are his leader. Dogs feel more secure when they know who is their leader.

The Neck Strap

The Gentle Leader applies pressure to the back of the neck rather than the front of the throat. This works with your dog's natural instinct to relax and act calm—just like when his mother picked him up by the back of his neck as a puppy. Also, as a dog tends to pull against pressure, the gentle pressure at the back of his neck causes the dog to pull backward, not forward. This means an end to leash pulling!

Online Product Buying Versus Going to Your Veterinarian

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to explain the important benefits of purchasing products from your veterinarian versus third party retailers, such as the Internet and/or pet supply catalogs. Current media campaigns aim to persuade pet owners to purchase products through the channels that are not monitored or regulated by any federal or state agencies. We believe this is not safe for your pet. We relied on the following facts to support this decision.

- All products sold by Groton Veterinary Hospital are received directly from the manufacturer and immediately stored in an appropriate environment. Similar products unlawfully diverted to third party retailers, unfortunately, may not be stored in proper conditions.

- Manufacturers of pet medications will only offer their guarantee on products purchased directly from a veterinarian. If you were to have a problem with a product, the manufacturer will only support your claim if the product was purchased from a veterinary clinic.

- If you purchase from a pet-product diverter, you are not provided with proper instruction on how to administer the medications. Some products require pre-testing of your pet in order to prevent adverse reactions. Since the efficacy of the products often depends on proper usage, we can demonstrate how to properly administer the product. We also keep a long-standing record of your pet's health that helps us to determine which products are best for your pet. If you should have any questions regarding your pet's medication, you will be able to speak directly to a veterinary staff member who will have direct access to your pet's medical history and record. There should always be a patient/doctor relationship when prescribing any medication to a pet. Your pet's weight, medical history, age, breed, body temperature, and current medical status are all important pieces of information we use when considering what medication is best for your pet. Internet and catalogue services do not care to take these important pieces of information into consideration, which can be harmful or even fatal to your pet.

- The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) developed the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Sites (VIPPS) program, and states that there are currently several judgments pending against third party retailers that have violated NABP regulations.

- While it may seem to cost less to purchase online, the actual savings are at your veterinary office. Online offers do not include free products or rebates whereas your veterinary clinic does. There are also shipping and handling charges when ordering online or through a catalogue. If there are actual savings of cost when purchasing products online, the savings are minimal and do not justify the long-term risks.

Many discrepancies regarding the purchase of products through third party diverters arise from the belief that veterinarians are required, by law, to write any prescription requested by the pet owner. In Massachusetts, a veterinarian is only required to write prescriptions to pharmacies registered in Massachusetts or to a VIPPS-certified pharmacy and only if the prescription is appropriate for the patient.

Our goal is to provide the best possible care for your pet. We believe that in order to do this, we must steer our clients away from buying products through unregulated channels. We thank you for your understanding and support. Please feel free to call our office with any questions or comments.

Grape and Raisin Toxicity

Dogs can be exposed to grapes and raisins in many ways. Frequently dogs will eat the fruit off a vine or steal them from plates. Grapes and raisins used to be recommended as treats and training aids in the past because the fruit is tasty and relatively low in calories. Unfortunately, however, dogs have been having dangerous reactions to grapes and raisins. The fruit has also been used as a treat for ferrets but its high sugar content is not good for them as ferrets have a high incidence of insulinomas.

Since 2001 there have been as many as 200 calls made to the ASPCA Poison Control Center involving potential exposures to grapes or raisins in dogs. Sensitive dogs run the risk of initial gastrointestinal upset followed by acute kidney failure. Since we do not know who will be sensitive nor how much of the fruits could cause a problem it is now recommended that grapes and raisins not be given as treats.

Vomiting is usually the first sign of grape or raisin toxicity and can occur within the first 2 hours of ingestion. Other initial signs that can occur within the first 5-6 hours of ingestion are diarrhea, lethargy and polydipsia (excessive water drinking). Signs of kidney involvement may develop either within 24 hours or several days later. These signs include anorexia, lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and tremors.

The best treat for your dog or cat will always be something that is made especially for your dog or cat. But if you must try something new, or feel badly when he/she is staring at your plate, call your veterinarian and ask if it is ok first before you give your pet a sample. Sometimes the seemingly harmless things turn out to be the most dangerous.

We provide quality veterinary care and comprehensive counseling to help you keep your pets healthy and safe.

Preventive Medicine


Guinea Pigs
Pocket Pets


Dr. Susan Horowitz, VMD
171 Lowell Road
Groton, MA 01450

Fax: 978-448-8194

hours: Mon – Fri:  8:30am – 6pm
Saturday:  8:30am – 12 noon