Clarendon Animal Care

Being a Good Neighbor - Dog Park Etiquette

We are very fortunate to live in such a pet-friendly community, but it is nevertheless important to respect our neighbors and community members, especially when it comes to dog parks. Here in Clarendon, the dog park is especially closely surrounded by residential buildings, making it all the more important to consider the rules and regulations of the parks.

As a refresher, these are the Arlington County rules and regulations relating to dog parks:

  1. All dogs must be licensed and vaccinated before entering a dog park.
  2. Dogs less than four months old are not permitted in a dog park.
  3. Female dogs in heat are not allowed in a dog park at any time.
  4. No food is allowed within the boundaries of a dog park.
  5. A handler/guardian may bring in no more than three dogs at a time.
  6. Professional dog trainers may not use any dog parks to conduct business, unless sponsored by Arlington County.
  7. All dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting a dog park.
  8. Handlers/guardians must be in possession of their dog’s leash at all times.
  9. Handlers/guardians must remain with their dog and be in view of their dog at all times.
  10. Handlers/guardians are responsible for the removing of dog waste from a dog park and disposing of it in a proper receptacle.
    Important a side note:  a recent random sampling of stools left behind at the Clarendon Dog Park revealed Giardia cysts, hookworms, AND roundworms! We see a surprisingly high number of cases of Giardia and other intestinal parasites in this area — picking up your dog’s poop doesn’t just apply to dog parks, but should be rule-of-thumb whenever you are out walking. Even in the backyard, these parasites are all very hardy and can persist in the environment for quite a long time.
  11. Dogs must be removed at the first sign of aggression. Aggressive dogs shall not be permitted within any designated off-leash dog parks. An “aggressive dog” is defined as a dog that poses a threat to humans or other animals. Handlers/guardians are legally responsible for their dog and any injury caused by them.
  12. Handlers/guardians must not allow their dogs to bark on a continuous or frequent basis.
  13. It is unlawful for any person who owns, possesses or harbors a dog to permit that dog to create a frequent or continued noise disturbance across a real property boundary or within a nearby dwelling unit.
  14. Handlers/guardians, prior to leaving a dog park, must fill holes dug by their dog.
  15. Dog grooming is not allowed in any dog park, unless it is part of an Arlington County-sponsored program.
  16. Parents must be in control of their children at all times in a dog park.
  17. Violations of the leash law, pooper-scooper law and running-at-large law can result in a summons to appear in court and a fine of $100.
  18. Both Rabies vaccination tags and County Dog License tags are required to be secured on your dog’s collar at all times.

While most “etiquette” as it relates to dog parks actually pertains to us as the handlers/guardians and not our dogs, there are some dogs that are better suited for play at a dog park than others and some things we, as owners, can be doing to ensure our dog has a good experience at the park.

Join us for a lecture/Q&A on Dog Park Etiquette with local dog trainer Leila Sheikhy of K9 Harmony Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at our office at 3000 10th Street N, Suite B.

Could this be the Yin to your pet's Yang?

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) — although relatively new to the Western world — is a medical system that has been used in China to treat animals for thousands of years. It is an adaptation and extension of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) used to treat humans and is made up of four branches: Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Food Therapy and Tui-na massage.

Speaking broadly, Chinese Medicine is a complete body of thought and practice grounded in Chinese Daoist philosophy. Though it can be traced back over two millennia in recorded history, it — like any medical system — continues to evolve today, and current research on acupuncture and herbal medicine is beginning to shed light on its mechanism of action.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, when combined with Western Veterinary Medicine, can help to promote health and prevent disease in animals.

Common FAQs About Acupuncture

Q: What is acupuncture?

It is the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. These points are related to internal organs and can help many different ailments. It is most commonly used to relieve musculoskeletal issues, such as arthritis, intervertebral disk disease and even some nerve injuries. However, it can also be used for all of the following:

  • Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma
  • Skin problems, such as skin irritation secondary to allergies
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel disease and chronic diarrhea
  • Geriatric medicine, such as chronic kidney failure and some cases of heart failure
  • Behavior issues, such as separation anxiety
  • Promotes quality of life after a diagnosis of cancer

Acupuncture stimulates nerves, increases blood circulation, relieves muscle spasms and releases endorphins in the body to aid in the healing process. Combining acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal therapy can make wonderful tools for your pet’s health.

Q: Is acupuncture painful?

For most animals, insertion of the needles is virtually painless. They are very thin and once the needles are inserted, there should be no pain. Most animals become extremely relaxed and some will fall asleep! Some common sensations after needle insertion are tingling, mild numbness and heat at the needle points.

Q: Is acupuncture safe for animals?

If administered by a properly trained veterinarian, acupuncture can be one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals. Some animals will experience lethargy or sleepiness after the first few treatments, but side effects such as nausea or GI upset are rarely seen.

Q: How can my pet benefit from acupuncture?

Acupuncture blocks pain responses, increases serotonin levels and relaxes muscles. All of these effects are useful in most commonly-seen conditions with animals. In addition, it can help to balance organ functions and normalize energy (Qi) flow, which is the goal of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.

How to Get Acupuncture for Your Pet

We are proud to announce the addition of Dr. Darleen Nath to our staff. In addition to being trained in western medicine and earning her DVM degree from Tuskegee University in Tennessee, she attended The Chi Institute in Gainesville, FL to become a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist in 2014. She has also completed the coursework for her certification in Tui Na massage therapy.

If you are interested in acupuncture for your pets, please call the clinic to set up an initial consultation appointment with Dr. Nath. The first visit will include a traditional western exam, a traditional eastern exam and the first acupuncture session.

Gastrointestinal Parasites

Most of you have likely brought a stool sample in to your pet’s annual veterinary visit, perhaps wondering in the back of your mind why it’s necessary to check a stool sample on an annual basis, especially if you have a cat or dog that spends minimal time outdoors.

Roundworms, hookworms, Giardia and coccidia are the most common intestinal parasites in our geographical region, and all but coccidia also have the potential to be zoonotic — transmissible to human beings — thus deserving special attention.

Roundworms, most specifically Toxocara canis (in dogs) and Toxocara gati (in cats), were found to be present in 1/79 (1.2%) of dogs and 1/26 (3.82%) of cats in Arlington County. Infection can occur via ingestion of infective eggs, in utero transmission (dogs only), or transmammary transmission, which is why it is seen so commonly in puppies and kittens. Infection can cause pot-bellied appearance, failure to thrive, and gastrointestinal signs; puppies infected in utero are most likely to be severely sick. Roundworm eggs are often found in soil, including houseplant potting soil (a source of infection for indoor-only cats). Children, with their propensity to put things in their mouths, are most at risk for zoonotic infection. Due to the complicated migration of roundworm throughout the body tissues upon ingestion in an inappropriate host, symptoms in humans can include visceral larva migrans and ocular larva migrans. Ocular larva migrans is a cause of retinal damage and partial blindness in children and can be mistaken for the more severe disease, retinoblastoma (cancer), resulting in an unnecessary removal of the eye.

Hookworms (Ancylostoma species.), found in 2.21% of dogs and 0.51% of cats in Arlington County, are transmitted via ingestion of infected eggs, as well as transmammary transmission; the larval stages of hookworm also have the ability to penetrate intact skin to infect their host. Hookworms suck blood from the wall of the intestinal tract and can lead to severe anemia and even death in young puppies; older dogs may show diarrhea as the primary sign. Hookworms are most often contracted by humans when they directly penetrate the skin, leading to cutaneous larva migrans.

Giardia, a protozoan parasite, is a common cause of intestinal symptoms in cats and dogs — primarily diarrhea, and less commonly vomiting, inappetence, or weight loss. According to the CAPC, 15.6% of dogs and 10.3% of cats with compatible symptoms tested positive for Giardia, though there are distinct regional differences, with infection being more common in some areas than others. Giardia is the most common intestinal parasite of humans in the U.S., causing similar gastrointestinal signs to those seen in our pets, such as diarrhea, bloating and cramping. Transmission in both humans and dogs results from ingestion of cysts shed in the feces of infected animals, typically from contaminated water. Fortunately, Giardia subspecies are quite species-specific so transmission between humans and pets is uncommon in healthy individuals. Children, elderly, or otherwise immune-deficient individuals are most at risk for transmission from an infected pet.

Coccidia (Isospora species), another protozoan parasite, though not thought to be zoonotic, is a common intestinal parasite, especially in puppies and kittens who do not have fully developed immune systems. It is also more common in pets from intense breeding, hoarding and shelter situations as it is very hardy in the environment. The most recent prevalence data from CAPC showed that Coccida was present in approximately 3% of dogs and cats in Pennsylvania (the closest state with prevalence data).

In general, pet-to-human transmission of roundworms, hookworms and Giardia can be minimized by removing feces from the environment on a daily basis and hand-washing after any potential contamination. Once in the environment, it is extremely difficult to decontaminate the environment; however, if stools are picked up immediately there is little chance of transmission to other pets and/or humans. It is also important to dispose of feces with the municipal waste, as it otherwise has the potential to contaminate water sources.

Other intestinal parasites found less commonly in our pets include whipworms (dogs), tapeworms, stomach worms, Toxoplasma (cats), and Strongyloides. In addition to your pet’s veterinarian, the Companion Animal Parasite Council is a fantastic resource for all things parasite-related.

4th of July Pet Safety Tips

The 4th of July is right around the corner, so to help keep the fur-children safe and happy we’ve put together a few tips that we hope are helpful to you:

The 4th of July has the dubious distinction as the day that more pets go missing than any other day of the year…and July 5th is the busiest day of the year for most animal shelters (I’m sure the wonderful folks at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington would like a quiet weekend!)

  1. Keep your pet safe and indoors!

  2. Have your pet identified - make sure they have a collar with an identification tag and/or a microchip that is up to date on its registration.

In the days after the 4th of July we often see a spike in cases of gastrointestinal problems that require treatment or hospitalization.

  1. Feeding your pet table food from your cook-out may seem like a good or a cute idea at the time...but many pets do not tolerate dietary changes well and is a poor decision. We see problems ranging from mild gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach/intestine) from eating food that’s out of the ordinary, to intestinal foreign bodies that need to be surgically removed (corn cobs, cooked rib bones, etc…), and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) that often requires several days of hospitalization/supportive care.
  2. Glow sticks and citronella candles/repellants are also irritating to your pet’s GI tract and should be kept away from them at all times .

Resist the urge to take your pet to all your 4th of July festivities. It’s hot and stressful for our furry friends.

  1. Overheating, stress and anxiety are common issues seen with pets in these situations. While celebrating the 4th is fun for most of us bipedal human folk, our fur-kids have no idea what’s going on other than that their normal routine just got thrown out the window and we expect them to be OK with that.

  2. Our pets are very sensitive to the effects of alcohol - so please don’t give them any. It’s not cute to see them vomiting, having seizures or going into respiratory arrest from alcohol intoxication.

  3. Don’t assume your pet knows how to swim. If you’ll be spending your day pool-side on a boat or at the beach/lake/other large body of water, be sure you are watching your pet at all times and have a life-preserver for them to keep them safe.

  4. Never use fireworks around your pet. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we see far too many cases of injuries, burns and ingestion of the toxic substances found in many fireworks.

Noise phobias can be very distressing (to both owner and fur-child) and while many animals may just get a little anxious with the sound of fireworks - some go into an all-out distressed panic. If you know that your pet is noise-phobic please have a discussion with your veterinarian about the use of anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, and non-pharmacologic strategies to manage noise-phobias...NOW (not Saturday afternoon); and have a safe, quiet, escape-proof place to keep your pet.

Keep these tips in mind, and we hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July! And while we hope you don’t need it - information on a few of the local 24/7 veterinary emergency hospitals can be found here.


Pets, Ticks & Tick-Borne Disease

Ticks are one of the most common ectoparasites (on the skin) found on pets.

They are of particular concern because they can transmit potentially serious diseases to both humans and their pets. While it is fortunately very unlikely for a tick to transmit a particular disease directly from a dog to a human, or vice versa, our pets can act as important sentinels of disease in our environment — i.e. if a dog has tested positive for exposure to the causative organism of Lyme disease, it indicates an environmental risk to the human parents as well.

The four most common ticks found in this part of the U.S. and the diseases they can carry and transmit are:

(Side-by-side pictures of the ticks described above can be found here and here)

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, 1 in 35 dogs in Arlington County has tested positive for exposure to Ehrlichia species, 1 in 18 has tested positive for exposure to the organism that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burdgorferi), and 1 in 458 has tested positive for exposure to Anaplasma.

Many of the tick-borne diseases, including Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and RMSF, can cause abnormalities in the white blood cells, red blood cells, and/or platelets, as well as fever, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, joint pain, and/or general malaise.

Tick paralysis is a potentially serious condition caused by a neurotoxin from the saliva of certain ticks, typically after they have been attached for at least several days. Symptoms start with weakness and can progress to paralysis and even death if the dog is unable to breath. Removal or death/detachment of the tick will result in a quick improvement of symptoms, often within hours.

Cats seem to be uniquely resistant to many of the tick-borne diseases, with the exception of Cytauxzoonosis, and Mycoplasma haemofelis. Cytauxzoonosis a severe and typically life-threatening disease transmitted by the Lone Star tick. This condition is more common in southeastern and south-central states, but fortunately quite rare in northern Virginia.

Mycoplasma haemofelis is a cause of feline infectious anemia – and is an organism that lives within red blood cells, causing them to be destroyed, leading to a an often severe decrease in red blood cell numbers (anemia). It can be transmitted by any blood-sucking arthropod (mostly fleas but ticks can and do transmit it) – and we do see it in this geographic region. Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis have been poorly characterized in cats but few reports do exist and generally the symptoms are nonspecific and general-malaise in nature. And while Borrelia is capable of infecting cats, Lyme has not been reported in a cat outside of a laboratory setting.

Of all the diseases described above, there is only a vaccination available for the prevention of Lyme disease. In many cases, ticks need to be attached for 12-48 hours to transmit diseases which means that the most effective way to prevent tick borne diseases is to prevent tick exposure, remove ticks when they are found and the use of year-round tick prevention (to quickly kill them when they do get on your pet). When choosing a tick prevention medication recognize that many products that are safe to use in dogs are NOT safe to use in cats and that many of the “over the counter” flea/tick medications do not carry the same safety and efficacy profiles and guarantees that prescription medications do.

Talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention strategies that best suit you and your pets to keep all your fur-kids happy, healthy and tick-free.