Healthy Pet Blog

Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital

2135 Jericho Turnpike
Garden City Park, NY 11040


Hyperthyroid Disease in Cats - 12/11/2017

Dr. Stephanie Waters

Have you noticed that your cat has a large appetite, but does not seem to be gaining any weight? Or maybe he/she has been drinking a lot and seems hyperactive or nervous. Changes in food or water intake, or increases in the amount of urine in the litter box, may be signs that your cat has elevated thyroid levels. Hyperthyroid disease is commonly found in cats greater than 8 years old but it can occur at any age.  The risk factors are not well defined but environmental chemicals found in the home may be the culprit.  Early disease may be hard to detect, but advanced cases of hyperthyroidism can cause heart and kidney disease.

Cats are masters of deception and often will hide the early signs of illness. Owners often struggle differentiating what is normal for their cat and what might be the early signs of disease.  Vomiting, (other than an occasional hair ball), decreased grooming activity, seeking cool places to sleep, as well as changes in appetite or litter box habits can be early signs of a serious problem. Changes in your cats’ routine can be the key to the early diagnosis of many treatable conditions such as Hyperthyroidism.  A simple lab test including a blood profile, CBC, and a urinalysis can differentiate between normal and abnormal conditions. By monitoring your cats blood work and giving a medication to decrease thyroid levels, your cat can be back to normal for the holidays! If you are concerned about taking your cat to the vet because they are fearful of the carrier or of the car ride, please call us ahead of time and we can talk about a low stress appointment or a house call!

 “How do I medicate my cat?” Good question!

Luckily the medication needed for hyperthyroidism in cats comes in several compounded forms; small pills, capsules (that can be opened up on wet food), transdermal (liquid placed right in front of your cats ear) etc. Alternatively, we could discuss iodine-restricted diets as a first step, thyroidectomy (removing the thyroid) or radioactive iodine therapy (I-131 therapy) in order to eliminate clinical signs and keep your cat healthy and happy.

The thyroid gland controls all aspects of our pets’ metabolism. So, there is more to hyperthyroidism and the effects of this disease on other organ systems.  We will address some of these problems in future blog posts.  If you have questions about hyperthyroidism, you can message us at facebook.  If you are concerned about your cat’s thyroid levels, schedule an appointment for an examination and screening blood work.  Remember, we have cat only office hours on Thursday evenings.  No annoying barking dogs in the waiting room.

Fear Free Veterinary Care Helps Cats Get the Care They Deserve - 12/05/2017


It is a sad state of affairs that most of the pet cats in this country do not receive adequate veterinary care.  Oh, I’m not necessarily saying that people don’t bring their cats to the veterinarian when they are sick; I’m saying that for many reasons, they do not bring them to the veterinarian before they are sick, when disease can be prevented. Wellness care and preventive medicine can improve the overall quality of life and increase the lifespan for our feline companions.  I’ve heard all sorts of excuses and I think this is a good place to start to address them.

My cat doesn’t go outside so it doesn’t need shots every year.  

This one is sort of true.  Indoor cats are at a lower risk of contracting infectious disease than cats that go outdoors.  Kittens that receive complete inoculation series and are boosted at a year of age probably have a good immunity to many viral diseases for several years.  We actually do not vaccinate adult cats against most diseases every year; rather we recommend that with the exception of rabies vaccination, adult cats should be given an FVRPC vaccine every three years.  Why?  Today’s scenario was an unvaccinated senior cat, living alone in a home with its owner until 4 days ago when she adopted a rescue cat from Florida. Now her older cat has potential disease exposure.  Or, last week’s case where I made a house call to a second floor apartment where the cats never went outside but the owner did some work with a cat rescue group.  Guess what?  She brought home a respiratory tract infection to her two pets.

We always had cats and they lived to be old and never got sick.  

That was true until they died of some illness.  30% of pet cats that die in the United States die of chronic kidney disease.  Now, coming to the veterinarian will not prevent renal disease, but early detection can slow the progression of this disease and increase your cat’s lifespan by years.  The same is true for diabetes, hyperthyroidism, dental disease, heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease; the list goes on and on.  Many chronic diseases that eventually lead to decrease vitality and early death in our pet cats can be treated, if not cured if detected early enough.

My cat hates going to the vet. 

This may be true but it is just an excuse, a barrier that owners create that prevents their pet from receiving the care it deserves.  If your cat is stressed by veterinary visits, just let us know.  Dr. Stephanie Waters is certified as a “Fear Free” veterinarian and she has brought many ideas to our practice that lessen the stress for both our feline and canine patients.  Medications can be given prior to the visit to reduce anxiety. Pheromone sprays can decrease stress, and treats in the office are always appreciated.  We now have soft, warm pads on the exam tables because we know that cats hate the cold stainless steel surface.  We have sheets in the waiting room if you think that covering your cat’s carrier will decrease stress.  We have office hours on Thursday evenings that are exclusively for cats, no barking dogs in the waiting room (except for emergencies).  If that isn’t enough to convince you that Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital is feline friendly, we make house calls.  Our doctors and staff will come to your home and examine your cat.  Just think all the benefits of proactive veterinary care on your very own couch.

Don’t let your anxiety, or your cat’s stress prevent you from doing what is best for your pet.  Wellness visits, routine blood work, and rational vaccination and parasite prevention can lengthen your pet’s life and keep your bond strong for years to come.

Local Politics - 02/02/2017

I tend to stay away from politics in my work and writing but there is an issue that is very important to the care of our pets.  Governor Cuomo has proposed tuition relief (actually free tuition for qualified students) at public universities and colleges.  Why do I care?  I know, my kids are out of school, no personal benefit to me.  Wrongo!

The staff that takes care of your pets at Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital is composed of a dedicated group of trained individuals.  Some, like receptionists and assistants have been trained on the job, over many years with us. Others, like the doctors and technicians have formal educations and are licensed by the state.  We currently have two licensed technicians on staff, Kim Green and Ellie Abrams.  these two are responsible for all nursing care, in house diagnostics, (lab work and radiographs), surgical prep, anesthesia, you name it they do it.  The state requires a t last an associates degree and then they need to pass an examination.  Associate degrees are offered locally at SUNY Farmingdale, LaGuardia College, and Delhi.  We are fortunate to have these two on our staff, but there is a shortage of qualified technicians here in New York.  Tuition assistance would help individuals that want to pursue a career in veterinary medicine to get a leg up without becoming swamped in student loan debt.

So, when this issue comes to the forefront, think of your pets and the care they deserve and support tuition assistance at our public colleges and universities.

Preventing Infectious Kidney Failure - 01/31/2017

In the past few months I've seen two heartbreaking cases of dogs that were diagnosed with acute renal failure that probably could have been prevented.  But before we talk about failing kidneys, let's talk about what healthy kidneys do for our pets. (and us for that matter).

The major functions of the kidneys is to filter waste products of the blood into the urine, maintain a state of homeostasis (constant state in the body), and stimulate red blood cell production.  There are other hormonal functions but let's stick to the biggies here.  When we do a blood test and tell you that your pet's kidney function is good, we are actually measuring the levels of Urea Nitrogen and Creatinine (two toxic by products of protein metabolism).  these levels will be maintained within a narrow normal range until about 75% of the filtering units  (glomeruli) in the kidneys are damage.  Kidney function can also be evaluated by measuring the concentration of the urine as well as looking for things in the urine that shouldn't be there, such as protein and cells. When the filtering units are damaged, the waste products build up and the condition is called azotemia, or uremia.  hen the tubules ( different part of the kidneys) are damaged, we will see dilute urine or cast like structures in the urine.  Leaking membranes in the glomeruli may allow the filtering of wast products but facilitate the leakage of protein into the urine.  When caught early, the progressive nature of renal disease can often be mitigated.  However, once the glomeruli are damaged, they are gone, and no new ones will replace them.

We had a dog present to the clinic a few months ago.  It lived in Nassau county, never went out east, mostly lived in the yard in a suburban environment that was not particularly wooded.  This labrador was not feeling well and when blood work was performed, it was in azotemic (elevated BUN/Creatinine) renal failure with severe levels of protein in the urine.  It was also positive for exposure to Lyme disease.  The owners had not vaccinated it against Lyme disease because they did not think it was at risk for exposure.  Indeed it was at low risk based on life style assessment, but no dog on Long Island is at no risk.  They also were not using any flea or tick control.  Lyme nephritis is a kidney disease caused by the body's reaction to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.  (Note Lyme not Lyme's).  Unfortunately for this dog, once the kidneys are involved, the prognosis is guarded.  In fact, this dog did not make it and was put to sleep after a week in the hospital receiving intensive care.  While we do not see a lot of dogs in our practice that are ill with Lyme disease, we do see many that are exposed to the bacteria and therefore at risk.  This is why we recommend testing every dog every year for heartworm and tick borne diseases.  we also recommend tick control for all dogs.

The second dog presented two weeks ago with a rapidly worsening, acute renal injury.  This young German Shepherd Dog was losing weight, not eating, and had decreased energy, His blood work showed a worsening azotemia, increased levels of protein in a dilute urine, and he tested positive for leptospirosis, a bacterial disease.  Leptospirosis is spread by the urine of infected animals, in our area, dogs, raccoons, mice and rats.  While usually more common in the summer, it is obviously around all year here on Long Island.  It's prevention is complicated by the fact that there are many serovars (types of Lepto bacteria), and the vaccination only covers the 4 most common and virulent.  Many clients are reluctant to vaccinate because they have read that the vaccine causes reactions, or is dangerous.  The truth is that while vaccine reactions do occur, most often, they are similar to the type of reaction we get when we get a flu vaccine or a tetanus shot. And while we hate our dogs to have any reaction, it is better than renal failure.  Lepto is also contagious to people so having a dog that is unknowingly shedding this bacteria in the urine puts all of us at risk.  This puppy (he is only 2 1/2 years old) is still undergoing treatment with antibiotics and Intravenous fluids.  It looks like he may make it but will most likely have permanent damage to it's kidneys.

We have to remember that there are many diseases that can affect our pets (and sometimes us).  prevention is always better than treatment.  While vaccination is not always a completely benign procedure, modern vaccine science has come a long way in our fight to protect our pets from infectious diseases.

The Two Sides of Bread - 12/26/2016

I'm going to digress from my trending posts on things clients say and move onto things dogs eat.  It has been an interesting (translates to busy) pre holiday season which explains the missed posts.  We had two cases come in, both dogs that had eaten something that they shouldn't have.  The cases are different, but there is a common thread that I thought everyone might appreciate.

Here is doggy number one.  Just for a radiography review.  The head is on the left, the spine is at the top.  Air is black (see outside of the dog and the lungs on the left side surrounding the grey heart).  Muscle and soft tissue are grey.  And metal would be white.  That's right, look at all that metal in the stomach and intestines.  Not supposed to be there.  The truth is that this pup had been dining on antenna wire as it came out of the wall to where the TV used to be pre cable.  The bad news is that this pup was vomiting off and on and I was worried about the wire penetrating the intestines and causing an infection. Or, the mass on the left getting stuck in the stomach and causing a blockage.  Unfortunately, surgery would be a challenge because we would need to remove all of the wires to eliminate the danger of perforation and peritonitis.  Also unfortunately, the dog had done something similar last year and the owners were tapped out financially from that surgery. Fortunately, this was a soft braided wire and not a stiff, sharp coaxial cable sort of wire.  Although we advised referral due to the possible complications of surgery, the owner declined and we were force to treat this case medically.  A meal of bread, a strong anti emetic to induce vomiting, and an enema and laxatives to move the whole mess through, and everyone was happy within 24 hours.

Ah bread, the staff of life.  Savior of dogs.  Except when it isn't baked.  Raw dough is a real problem.  Why might you ask?  I know I love to nibble on dough when I am baking.  Well, next time you're nibbling, think of what is going on in the dough.  Yeast, water, carbohydrates...  The mixture yields what?

Now remember the radiology lesson.  This dog is positioned the same way.  Less of the lungs are in the picture towards the left.  Less metal wire too.  But look at all that gas in the intestines.  Right, the dough (an entire bowl of doughnut dough) is rising in this dog's intestines.  The carbon dioxide from the yeast is making the intestines distended with gas.  Oh, and that's not all.  Beer lovers will know that carbon dioxide is not the only product of yeast and grain.  That's right, this dog was as drunk as a skunk.  We tried to get her to vomit up the dough, but most of it was out of the stomach.  So, IV fluids and supportive care was all we had to offer.  This case was this weekend, so it isn't over yet, but so far things seem to be coming out OK.

Keep these stories in mind for the rest of the holiday season.  Dog food for dogs, cat food for cats, raw dough for, well really no one and wire for electricians.

Happy New Year.




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