International Health Certificate | University Animal Hospital NYC

So you have plans to travel to another country with your pet. You looked up the information but it seems confusing and complicated. Depending on where you plan to travel there are specific requirements and they’re all time-sensitive and overly specific. You’re feeling anxious because it seems like there are too many steps and you aren’t sure if you’ve completed them all.

At this moment you’re probably thinking “Great! He’s going to tell us exactly what we need to do! We should buy him a present!”

You can lower your enthusiasm a tiny bit because this entry is not going to give you a breakdown of the exact protocol and procedure for traveling out of the country with your pet. You can feel free to still get me a present, though. I like presents.

“Why!? Why wouldn’t you want to tell us this information and just be done with it? Our tickets are booked and we just need some answers! Fluffy wants to see the Eiffel Tower! There’s no way you’re getting a gift now! We’d sooner toss it in the trash!”

Okay, that seems a little excessive. I like gifts. I’d love nothing more than to help you with this situation but the reason I can’t give you a simple list is because such a thing doesn’t really exist. Unfortunately pet travel is not simple.

The fact of the matter is that pet travel (out of the country, at least) is complicated. In order to fly outside of the country with your pet you aren’t so much following protocol from the USA — you’re following the protocol of the country you’re flying into. This means that different countries have different requirements. In some cases your pet might need to have seen a vet within ten days of arrival at your destination. In some cases it’s three days.

Some countries require proof of de-worming at a certain point before travel. Other countries require your pet have a microchip implanted within a specific time-frame prior to your trip. There’s no easy answer for exactly what you’ll need but when you come in for an appointment to get your certificate the doctors will make sure everything you need to travel is in order. What I can guarantee is that in almost every situation you will require an international health certificate. That much I do know. So haul that present out of the garbage and send it on over.

The USDA maintains an online database for each country which breaks down specific requirements and provides the exact paperwork for that nation. Even these documents and requirements can change from time to time as individual countries update their standards, etc. The paperwork is essentially a legal document stating that a USDA accredited veterinarian examined your pet on a specific day and has deemed them fit for travel. All of our staff veterinarians are USDA accredited and are highly experienced filling out these forms. They know how to make the process as simple and stress free as possible for you.

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Our vets can handle all of this

I realize it’s a daunting task reading up on all the requirements and it can seem overwhelming. That is why our vets are here. Let them do all the work. These papers seem complicated and overly specific but our vets are used to filling them out and know what is required for wherever you are traveling to. We will find the necessary paperwork and handle everything we can

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.

The Myth of Cats vs Dogs

by Myles Tomczak, Client Services

A widespread belief among us “humans” is that our canine and feline companions are always at odds with one another. It isn’t an absurd notion. We’ve all seen a dog go “Cujo” when a cat casually saunters by. You may have been present to see a seemingly mild-mannered cat barrel out from underneath the mattress to land a few solid wallops on the snout of an oblivious pooch. Whether it’s animated films, television commercials or even just our own experiences in life the general opinion is that cats and dogs do not get along. Mortal enemies. Destined to play out an age-old battle that would have Tolkien saying “Hey, that’s a little much, guys.” This legendary war has been the subject of at least two Warner Bros. films (unseen by me) as well as countless media depictions. You’d be hard-pressed to find a moment in popular culture in which a set of cats and dogs are cuddly and warm with each other or where their endless battle isn’t referenced. Cats vs dogs is just a widespread acceptance.

 

The cat and dog war has always surprised me. Growing up I saw plenty of households (my own included) in which cats and dogs coexisted in harmony and in the years I’ve spent behind the scenes of the pet-care industry I’ve seen more than my share of instances where this myth of the cat and dog war doesn’t hold much weight. Take, for instance the two fearless house-cats of University Animal Hospital…

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These gorgeous babes have grown up among thousands of dogs and often don’t bat an eyelash when they’re confronted by a Golden Retriever whose head is bigger than both of them (or bigger than Kornflake and half of Krispy Kreme.)

I’m no scientist but being that I have a Master’s Degree in dog/cat psychoanalysis from a University I can’t remember the name of I think this is clearly enough to prove that this belief is outdated and should probably be put to rest. Truthfully, cats and dogs can very easily get along if the right steps are taken to ensure they acclimate to one-another.

No expert would suggest tossing them into a room together to “see what happens” but many would likely advise a slow introduction that allows both to adjust to the change in the normal routine. The key factor to remember is that like “humans,” cats and dogs have their own eccentricities and traits. No two cats or dogs are exactly the same and any change in their regular lifestyle can cause stress or anxiety. Talk to your trainer or the next time you’re meeting with one of our amazing University Animal Hospital staff veterinarians ask how to best introduce any new addition to your household. They’re happy to provide any advice that pertains to your situation.

Despite popular culture’s attempts to sell us this ongoing battle of the beasts the truth is that cats and dogs can be friends if we’re willing to take the time to help them out a bit.

Check out this video that depicts a cat being reunited with his dog friend after a mere ten days apart and tell me that’s not love.

Watch on YouTube: Not Always Archenemies!

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