Praise Outranks Treats For Dogs | University Animal Hospital NYC

According to ScienceMag a recent study strongly indicated that dogs might actually prefer the praise of their owners over treats. Despite the long-standing use of treats and food by us ‘Hoomans’ to help train our canine companions it would appear that the positive reinforcement of a belly rub or a pat on the head is actually more effective in melting most of your fuzzy children’s hearts.

In the first half of the study (soon to be published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience) the brain activity of fifteen canines was monitored by researchers. After being shown a toy car the canines were then praised by their respective owners. Later, they were each given toy horses with a piece of hot dog. Of the fifteen dogs in the study thirteen exhibited a greater or equal response in the area of the brain associated with reward and decision-making when the reinforcement was praise from their owner vs. food/treats.

The second half of the experiment positioned the dogs at the start of a maze that forked in two directions. One led to a bowl of food and the other led the dog to his or her owner. Most of the dogs chose their owner over the food bowl. The dogs who chose the food were the same subjects who favored treats in the first half of the study indicating that some dogs are just food motivated.

Of course fifteen is not a large enough sample size to reach absolute conclusions but it gives us further understanding of the nature of the dog/owner relationship. The affection does appear to go both ways.

There are always skeptics who question the ability of our furry children to truly reciprocate the feelings of love we have for them but anyone who has returned to their dog from a long absence knows the reaction of their furry child. It’s pure excitement and joy. Watch this dog after he is reunited with his owner after being stolen from him two years before.

So dogs prefer praise. What about Cats?

Are cats on the same level as the canine companions we love so dearly or do they merely tolerate our existence in exchange for food? The latter is apparently much more likely if another recent study is any indication.

In February of 2016 BBC2 broadcast Cats V. Dogs, a television documentary that explored this question by measuring the level of oxytocin in cats and dogs. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain when we feel an attachment to someone or something. Oxytocin levels in humans rise by up to 60% when we see someone we love.

Researchers tested saliva samples from ten cats and ten dogs before and after playing with their owners for a ten minute period. The dogs showed an increase of 57.2% after the playful interaction with their owners. For cats it was just 12%. In fact, only 50% of the cats tested showed any rise in their oxytocin levels at all. Moo (from the video below) appears to be the exception to the rule.

Again, these small sample sizes can’t back up definitive conclusions but they do seem to support the notion that most of our cats view us as food dispensers above anything else. Compared to dogs they appear to be fairly indifferent to us. As someone who has had multiple cats and multiple dogs I don’t think these theories are too far from the truth. Do I think my cats have loved me on the same level that my dogs have? Maybe — but who can be sure? Look at those glares…

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This doesn’t look like satisfaction…

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Maggie’s ‘friendliest’ expression. Seriously.

 

 

 

 

Traveling Tips for Cats and Dogs | University Animal Hospital NYC

If you have ever traveled with your cat or dog you must know that it isn’t the easiest endeavor. Besides finding an airline that is pet friendly there is often paperwork and several hoops that must be jumped through that are necessary in order to board the plane without issue. If you are flying internationally then there’s a whole assortment of steps you have to take in order to cover your bases. If you have not traveled with your pet before then hopefully these dog and cat traveling tips will prepare you for any potential issues that can arise.

The first thing to consider is if it is worth the effort to take your pet on your trip with you. Factor in the length of your trip and what will be required in order to bring your fuzzy child along. Most importantly consider the effect it will have on your pet. Does he/she travel well? Will the three days apart be easier than going through all the motions? If it’s a long trip maybe it would be worth it to bring them along for the adventure.

If you’re traveling domestically with your pet you should immediately contact your airline and ask what their specific requirements are. Most often the airline has rules specific to them. Almost every major airline will require a domestic health certificate, signed by your veterinarian, that states that your pet has been examined within a certain period (usually 30 days) and is fit for travel.

Many of them require your pet be in a certain sized carrier. They have to be certain that your pet, in the carrier, will fit under the seat. I learned the hard way that the size of this space can alter depending on the size of the plane your flight is scheduled for. I spent at least an hour on the phone with Delta Airlines customer care team having my flight changed to ensure that the plane I would be flying on would have the appropriate sized space under the seat to fit my cat (Maggie Rooneymara Nilbog-Ackerman IV) in her carrier.

Should I get my pet micro-chipped before I travel?

Consider the possibility that your pet could be lost at some point during your trip and make sure that your pet has a collar and ID tag with your contact information (address and phone number) clearly visible. It’s also a very good idea to have a microchip implanted into your pet (if you haven’t already) which can help locate your pet if he/she is lost at any point during your trip. It’s a quick injection, non-invasive, that can be done when your pet is awake.

If your pet is a nervous traveler discuss with your veterinarian any supplements or medications they might suggest to help keep your pet calm during travel. There are calming supplements that can help your pet without actually having to medicate them. In some cases your pet might need a sedative but this should always be something you discuss with your veterinarian first. Do not attempt to administer medications without discussing with your vet beforehand.

Pack some water if it’s a long flight. You don’t want your dog or cat to get dehydrated. A few treats to reward good behavior couldn’t hurt either. A chew toy or something to keep him or her distracted is always helpful. Don’t forget to pack a leash, some toys, extra water/food bowls, poopy bags, any necessary medications, etc.

If you’re staying at a hotel make sure it is a pet-friendly establishment. A little bit of research goes a long way and you’d rather have things set up in advance than be scrambling to figure them out in a crisis.

Remember that emergencies can happen so it’s also very important to do some research on emergency veterinary hospitals where you’ll be staying just in case your pet begins experiencing symptoms of illness. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your pet’s medical history on hand for this very reason. Save it to your e-mail as a PDF file so it can be easily accessed in an emergency.

How hard is it to traveling internationally?

If you are traveling internationally things get a little more complicated. The rules for international travel are not standard. They vary from country to country and change on a semi-regular basis. In almost every case you will need an international health certificate issued by a USDA certified veterinarian that proves your pet was examined and found fit for travel. Most often this needs to be done within ten days of arrival in your destination country. The vets at University Animal Hospital are USDA certified and fully capable of filling out any documentation required to travel. They are familiar with paperwork necessary and can inform you what you’ll need when trying to get into the country of your destination.

If you are planning on traveling with your pet set up an appointment with one of our doctors to get the process moving and to answer any questions you might have. Let them handle the details and the nightmare of paperwork so you can focus on your trip and the fun things you plan to do, with your dog or cat in tow.

Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Despite what you might believe or have heard – IT IS IMPORTANT to spay and neuter your pets.

There are quite a few reasons why this is true. First and foremost there are the obvious health reasons that one should consider. Neutered dogs live an average of 18% longer than un-neutered dogs. Spayed dogs lives 23% longer than un-spayed dogs. The reduced lifespan for these unaltered pets often has to do with an increased urge in unfixed animals to roam. This leads to increased likelihood of being struck by cars, fighting with other animals and a wealth of other potential mishaps.

Another major factor is the decreased risk of certain types of cancers. Female cats and dogs who are unspayed run a greater chance of developing uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system, as well as pyrometra, a potentially fatal uterine infection.

Male cats and dogs who are not neutered have a greater chance of getting testicular cancer and it’s believed they have higher rates of prostate cancer as well.

The most absurd justification for choosing to not neuter male dogs is the owner’s concern that their male dog will feel less “masculine” if neutered. Animals do not have any concept of sexual identity or ego. These are human constructs. Neutered male dogs do not feel lesser than their un-neutered counterparts. They are, however, less assertive and less prone to “marking” than unneutered dogs. Would you prefer your pet urinate everywhere that he smells another dog’s scent? Fixing animals solves 90% of marking issues — even in cats that have been doing it for a while. In cats it can also minimize howling, fighting with other males, and the urge to roam.

While getting your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personality. Their protective instinct, for example, will remain intact.

Beyond the health concerns there is the matter of homeless animals. The United States is overrun with them. There are estimated to be anywhere from 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. Less than half of these animals are adopted — the rest of them are euthanized. These are healthy and lovable pets who are put to sleep primarily because of a lack of resources. These are not all “street” animals. Many of these pets are puppies/kittens (some even purebreds) who have been abandoned or lost. Healthy and loving pets that simply do not have homes.

 

I’m amazed that many people are completely unaware that more than 2.7 million healthy and adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year. I have known about this since I was a pre-teen and considered it to be common knowledge. Still, again and again, I find myself explaining this fact to people only to be met with wide-eyed surprise. Few seem to be aware just how big of a problem this is. Even people who do not intend to breed their pets often don’t consider the possibility that their pet could be lost at some point. Suppose your male or female dog/cat got loose and came across another unfixed dog or cat in the wild. Their interaction could very easily result in a litter of unwanted pets. It happens every day and it’s a big part of why shelters are overrun with unwanted animals.

Believe it or not it is also more cost-effective to care for a spayed or neutered animal. When weighed against the potential medical costs that are common in unfixed pets, spaying and neutering procedures are far less expensive in the long-run. Do you know how expensive it is to treat a dog or cat with cancer? Even the cost of a renewing a pet license is cheaper for fixed animals. The reality is that it’s just less expensive to have your pet fixed.

If you’re still not sure this is the best thing you can do for your pet you should discuss this with one of our amazing veterinarians who can discuss all of the options and help you to make an informed decision about your pet and his or her health.

 

 

Kennel Cough, Winter, and Rene Russo | University Animal Hospital NYC

Kennel Cough

by Myles Tomczak, Client Services

This winter will never end. I’m calling it now. The cold has come and it isn’t going to leave. HBO’s “Winter is Coming” ad campaign for Game of Thrones wasn’t being facetious. It was a warning we should have taken very seriously (four years ago).

This situation is either some kind of “The Day After Tomorrow” shift in permanence or we’re stuck in some February 2nd time-loop that’ll have us all waking up to “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher every 6am for the next thousand years.

 

Every week I hear the same comments from my fellow New York residents: “It’s supposed to be in the 50s next week!” “They say this is the last snowfall.” My personal favorite was “It can’t last much longer. This is the first day of Spring!” As if our changing climate cares about the dates humans (or Hoo-Mons as dogs call us) chose a long time ago for seasonal transitions.

The reality is that every week this cold has not ended it has gifted us with elevators, streets and trains packed with commuters seemingly incapable of coughing into their sleeves or managing to avoid the impulse to grip the handrails after wiping the discharge from their faces with the palms of their hands. After ten years in this city I’m starting to understand the people I sometimes see wearing face-masks walking down the block toward me.

Seriously, the sales of facial tissue and cough medicine during these months must have executives at Nyquil and Kleenex doing back-flips at the thought of their Quarter 1 2015 numbers.

For the rest of us, however, this mess of dripping noses and sore throats isn’t just a gross visual. It’s the potential for a dreaded infection. The Common Cold, The Flu or The Upper Respiratory Infection all share one thing — they’re awful.

Nobody wants to be sick. Nobody wants to have to miss work or to spend weeks on end “kicking this bug I caught…” looking like Rene Russo in “Outbreak.”

I dodge out of the way of coughing pedestrians passing me on the street like they’re extras from “The Walking Dead,” to avoid a potential illness because missing work is a luxury I can’t afford.

“Get to the point, man! What does this have to do with our canine friends!?”

 

Thing is, they’re not just cute stuffed animals. They’re alive. Just like us they are capable of getting sick. The scary “Upper Respiratory Infection” is just one of the potential dangers. Unfortunately, like with us “Hoo-Mons,” this virus can spread through the air. That makes it an issue for any dog that has even the smallest of interactions with other dogs.

I hear all the reasons from our clients as to why their dog doesn’t need to receive the Kennel Cough vaccine. I’m waiting for someone to suggest it could cause Autism in their dog but nobody has said that — yet.

The excuses range from “my dog doesn’t go to day-care,” to “our groomer comes to the house,”or the most frustrating “we don’t kennel our dog so he doesn’t need the ‘Kennel Cough’ vaccine.” This one is the most maddening because I can’t blame people for being confused. The terminology leads one to believe this is an infection only dangerous for dogs being kenneled but this isn’t the case.

The truth is that even the most minor interaction with another pooch can transmit this infection to your fuzzy child. Even a brief encounter on the city street during a relief walk or a short time in an elevator with an infected dog can lead to transmission.

Kennel Cough (Tracheobronchitis, Bordetellosis, or Bordetella) is basically a highly contagious bacterial infection that often results in a dry hacking cough/retching. Sometimes there’s a watery nasal discharge. When it’s more severe you’ll notice lethargic behavior, lack of appetite and fever. In very severe cases (usually with unvaccinated puppies) even death is possible. Contact us immediately if your pet is exhibiting these symptoms. Treatment is often very effective and most pet owners (myself included – love you, Bebe) have or will experience this at some point in time.

Where does this leave our New York City dogs?

Between growing day-care options, the dog runs and the occasional grooming/boarding appointment our tiny beasts of New York are in a very unique situation. This city is cramped unlike any city in the country and even pets who rarely leave the family home are at great risk for interaction with unfamiliar dogs.

New York City law actually requires any business operating grooming/boarding facilities (such as University Animal Hospital) to provide proof of vaccines for any dog in-house. Should the health department make a surprise inspection (I have been present for this. Twice. It happens.) the facility must prove vaccines are current or they run the risk of being shut down. In the case of Bordetella the vaccine must have been administered in the past six months. This is a good thing. It keeps the dogs from getting sick and it keeps them from spreading the virus to other dogs. That’s a Win/Win in my book.

Outside of New York city this vaccine is often given just once a year. If you’re bi-coastal or you have a vacation home outside of the city you might be surprised at the “Six Month Rule” because your out-of-state veterinarian had previously informed you the vaccine was an annual. It is relevant to note, however, that the actual vials of the vaccine have a “6 month” label attached.

The most effective way to handle Bordetella infection is to avoid having your pet contract it. It’s an oral vaccine (no needle, just drops in the mouth) that takes just a few days to begin protecting. It’s much easier and less expensive than having to treat kennel cough down the road with pricey antibiotics and additional doctor visits. Your furry child will appreciate you for it as well.

Introducing NexGard for Dogs!

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From the makers of Frontline Plus comes a new oral alternative to the topical formulation. NexGard is the first flea and tick killer in a beef flavored chew! It contains an ingredient, afoxolaner, that helps treat and control fleas and ticks and keeps killing for a full 30 days. So it helps provide protection you can feel good about.

University Animal Hospital is proud to offer an exclusive deal: buy 6 doses of NexGard and receive 2 free doses! For more information, give us a call at 212-288-8884 or stop by the office.

 

February is Dental Month! 10% off all dental cleanings!

 

February is Pet Dental Health Month!

 

Receive 10% off your pet’s Dental Health Care in February!

Dental care is more than just a cure for your kitty or pup’s bad breath. Just like people, pets need preventative dental health care to avoid painful problems later in life.

Here are some things to think about while you’re brushing your teeth:

  • More than 8 out of 10 dogs, and 7 out of 10 cats show signs of poor dental health by the age of three.
  • Dental problems in pets as in people can lead to pain, tooth loss, and periodontal disease.
  • Pets’ oral disease invariably progresses with time, as does people’s, and can result in damage to internal organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys.

 

Poor dental care affects more than just your pet’s mouth. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and damage your pet’s liver, kidneys, lungs and heart. A proper dental care routine can add 3-5 years to your pet’s life.

Call (212) 288-8884 to schedule ‘s appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

University Animal Hospital

(212) 288-8884

354 East 66th Street

New York, NY

10065

 

 

10% off Microchipping through April

 

Get 10% off microchipping for your pet through April!

National Pet ID Week is coming up and University Animal Hospital is celebrating by offering 10% off microchipping through the end of April. Microchipping is a quick, pain-free, and permanent method of identifying your pet. While ID tags are helpful, they can get faded or lost over time –microchipping is a permanent way to ensure that you are reunited with your pet if he/she were ever to get lost.

Please call (212) 288-8884 for more information or to schedule an appointment, and don’t forget to visit us on Facebook and Twitter – become our friend and post pictures of your baby!

Canine Influenza and Kennel Cough Outbreak!

Canine Influenza and Kennel Cough Outbreak!

Our doctors are greatly concerned with the increased amount of sick dogs we have seen in the past week. Veterinarians, doggie daycares, grooming parlors and shelters are reporting a dramatic increase in Canine Influenza and kennel cough cases.

We are strongly encouraging all dog owners to be vigilant about watching their pet for symptoms or signs of illness, particularly dogs with high exposure risks. Please be sure to keep

October is Pet Dental Health Month – 10% off all dentistry!

October is Pet Dental Health Month!

Receive 10% off your pet’s Dental Health Care in October.

Dental care is more than just a cure for bad breath. Just like people, pets need preventative dental health care to avoid painful problems later in life.

Here are some things to think about while you’re brushing your teeth:

  • More 8 out of 10 dogs, and 7 out of 10 cats show signs of poor dental health by the age of three.
  • Dental problems in pets – as in people – can lead to pain, tooth loss, and periodontal disease
  • Pets’ oral disease invariably progresses with time, as does people’s, and can result in damage to internal organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys.

Poor dental care affects more than just your pet’s mouth. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and damage your pet’s liver, kidneys, lungs and heart. A proper dental care routine can add 3-5 years to your pet’s life.

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pet’s life.

Call (212) 288-8884 to schedule your pet’s appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

354 East 66th Street

New York, NY

10065

 

February is Pet Dental Health Month!

 

Receive 10% off your pet’s Dental Health Care in February!

Dental care is more than just a cure for your kitty or pup’s bad breath. Just like people, pets need preventative dental health care to avoid painful problems later in life.

Here are some things to think about while you’re brushing your teeth:

  • More than 8 out of 10 dogs, and 7 out of 10 cats show signs of poor dental health by the age of three.
  • Dental problems in pets as in people can lead to pain, tooth loss, and periodontal disease.
  • Pets’ oral disease invariably progresses with time, as does people’s, and can result in damage to internal organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys.

 

Poor dental care affects more than just your pet’s mouth. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and damage your pet’s liver, kidneys, lungs and heart. A proper dental care routine can add 3-5 years to your pet’s life.

Call (212) 288-8884 to schedule ‘s appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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