Yearly Archives: 2015

Sit. Stay. Now read.  But what if that’s because you’re not doing it in the best way possible? Dogs thrive from positive reinforcement. That is, if they do something right or well, they will get rewarded. Positive reinforcement can be the tone of your voice, a toy, or an edible treat. Negative reinforcement should never include hitting. Following some of the simple training guidelines listed here can make all the difference.

1. Make sure your whole family is doing the same training techniques. If you use the command “stay” and someone else uses “wait,” you won’t get the results you’re looking for. You should also make sure that you are all rewarding your dog for the same behaviors.

2. Make the commands simple and short. Try to keep your commands to one or two words. Sit, stay, come, here, down, lie down, etc.

3. If your pet does something right, reward him or her immediately. If you wait, they may not associate the reward with the action.

4. Make sure to reward your dog with something he or she will enjoy. Food treats tend to work especially well but other positive reinforcements can include praise, petting, or a favorite toy or game.

5. As your dog begins to learn the command, slowly ease up on how often he or she is rewarded. Go from continuous reinforcements to only intermittent reinforcements. You should get to the point where you are only giving a reward for the behavior occasionally.

All dogs are different so it is important to remain patient and consistent with your training. Your family should spend some time every day reinforcing the good behaviors. You can find a program led by an accredited instructor but the real work needs to be done at home. A trainer trains the family while the family trains a pet.

Happy training and good luck!

Wyomissing Animal Hospital has provided superior veterinary care for small animals for more than twenty years. Founded by Dr. Boyd Wagner and Dr. John Hampson, the hospital now has eight doctors and over 50 staff members who are dedicated to providing professional and loving care to all of our patients. At Wyomissing Animal Hospital, we understand that your pets are your family. We provide both wellness care and medical treatment for your animals. Wyomissing Animal Hospital is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA accreditation recognizes our hospital’s commitment to meeting the highest quality standards of care – a recognition achieved by only 17% of small animal practices in the United States and Canada.

I went for a walk with my pet. Now what?

The warm summer months means spending more time outside and unfortunately, ticks. Many ticks are co-infected, meaning that they carry more than one disease, including Lyme disease. Did you know that only about 5% of dogs exposed will develop symptoms that are attributed to Lyme disease? But with all this said, you’re still going to go for walks with your dog and your outdoor cat will still want to be outdoors. You can prevent Lyme disease by making sure you thoroughly check your pet’s body after they’ve been outside and removing ticks before they attach themselves. Even if your dog or cat wears a tick and/or flea preventative collar or is given a spot-on medication, it is a good idea to do a quick body check.

Keeping your pet’s fur short is an easy first step. Breeds with shorter hair are easier to check than those with long hair. Shorter coats make the ticks easier to see by keeping them close to the surface while longer hair allows a tick to hide deep in the fur and avoid being discovered for long periods of time.

Brush or run your hands over your pet’s whole body, applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps or something the size of a pea. You may also use a brush or flea comb, stopping if you hit a bump or a snag to investigate. Most attachments occur in front of the shoulder blades, which includes the head, neck, and front legs. Make sure to also feel under the collar, under their armpits, between their toes, behind the ears, and around the tail. Ticks are attracted to dark, hidden areas and when attached can range in size from the size of a pinhead to a grape.

If you find an unattached tick, place it in alcohol and dispose of it. Flushing a tick down the toilet will not kill it. If the tick is embedded, you must remove it carefully so you extract the whole tick. If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself then call your vet. While wearing gloves to protect yourself, use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, slowly and steadily, without squeezing the body. After removing the tick, place it in alcohol and clean the bitten area with soap and warm water. Keep an eye on the bitten area to see if an infection arises or if your pet starts to act abnormally. It is very typical for a small nodule to occur at the site of the attachment and persist for up to three weeks. Signs of Lyme disease typically occur one to three weeks following a bite and may include limping, poor appetite, and fever. A very small percentage of dogs may also develop a fatal form that affects their kidneys. If the skin remains irritated or infected or you suspect something might be wrong, call us at 610-372-2121.

Besides the ocean, there are many other dangers that your dog can encounter at the beach. Being alert and attentive and following some of these rules will make your beach getaway proceed without problems!

First, make sure to adhere to the beach’s specific rules as these are actually laws and you can be given a citation or fine. Some common laws include cleaning up after your dog, requiring your dog to wear a collar and ID tags and be up-to-date on vaccinations, be on a leash, and so on. Make sure to check prior to leaving to see if your beach destination is pet friendly!

Just like people, dogs can only handle so much sun. Sunscreen that is safe for your dog is available at pet stores or online. Do not use a sunscreen unless it is specifically labeled safe for animal use. Make sure there is a shady spot for your dog to retreat to like an umbrella, picnic table, or tree and bring plenty of fresh, cool water and a dog bowl. Offer water refills often, making sure that the water does not get hot in the sun. Watch for signs of overheating, which can include: excessive panting or drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, collapse, and loss of consciousness. If you start to see any of these signs immediately move your dog to a cooler environment. While staying calm and speaking in a soothing voice, wrap the dog in cool, wet towels. A fan can be used to help blow air over the animal to speed up the cooling and applying isopropyl alcohol to the paw pads will facilitate cooling and should be repeated as the alcohol dries. It is important to never fully immerse your overheated pet in water as it may increase their anxiety.

Hot sand is also a very real concern. Foot pad burns can occur when the sand is too hot. If a person cannot walk barefoot, their dog cannot either. While on the sand, lead the way for your dog to make sure they won’t step on anything sharp. Broken glass and shells are only two of many things that can hurt your pet’s paws. If your dog’s paw gets cut, apply pressure to the wound to ease the bleeding. If it’s severe, seek veterinary attention immediately. Once in the water, jellyfish and rocks start to potentially pose problems. If your dog gets stung by a jellyfish, douse the affected area in vinegar to ease the pain and kill off the stinging barbs before trying to remove the tentacles.

If your dog does not come to you every time you call them, keep them on a leash. You can buy a long-reaching leash (20-30 feet) which will still allow you and your dog to play with a ball or Frisbee without worrying about the possibility of them running away.

Pay close attention to your dog’s swimming habits. Fitness level, experience, and even breed of dog can influence how well your dog can swim. Poor swimmers and brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers should probably not spend much time on the beach. When in doubt, put a life vest on your dog and keep an eye out. If your pet does go in the water, make sure to remove them if they start to drink the water. Instead offer fresh, clean water since salt water is bad for dogs and can cause gastrointestinal problems. Salt water may also cause some irritation to their skin and paws. Rinsing your dog off with fresh water before you leave or shortly after getting home will help him or her stay comfortable and happy.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, have fun!

Summer is officially here! It’s a great time for outdoor fun and BBQing or grilling with your pets, friends, and family. While you may know what your pet can and cannot have, it is important to share this information with others. Don’t assume that your friends know what foods are toxic to pets. Several foods to avoid include fatty sausages (pancreatitis), chocolate from s’mores (chocolate toxicity), and wild mushrooms (mushroom toxicity can prove fatal to certain dog breeds). While the list can be very extensive, we encourage you to have a brief conversation with your friends. They will appreciate it and so will your pets!

You probably heard it repeatedly right around the Fourth of July in relation to fireworks—leave your pets at home. But the reason extends to more than just fireworks. Many dogs are frightened by loud noises and almost all aspects of a thunderstorm: wind, rain, thunder, lightning, and even atmospheric pressure. These fears can develop even if your dog has not had any traumatic experiences.

The level of anxiety your dog experiences depends on the individual dog. Some dogs whine and pace while others injure themselves trying to escape. The most common reactions to loud noises are destruction and running away or escaping. To reduce his fears, your dog might seek out a place where the thunder or loud sounds are less intense.

You can try a few different things to ease his fears. First is to create a “safe place” or somewhere that is safe for your dog to be and is readily accessible. Let him choose this place by seeing where he goes during a storm and making this a space he can retreat to when he is scared. Another option is to distract your dog. This works best when your dog is just beginning to get anxious. Engage your dog in an activity he likes that will capture his attention and distract him from the noises. This can mean a game of fetch, practicing behavioral commands, or even listening to calm music.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, do not attempt to reassure or soothe your dog too much when he is afraid. This includes over petting and giving him treats. Attempting to do so may reinforce the fearful behavior and make it worse. You should, instead, stay calm and as relaxed as possible.

Another interesting option is a snug-fitting garment or shirt, such as the ThunderShirt. Products like this apply gentle, constant pressure and are designed to calm anxious dogs. They have a calming effect similar to swaddling a baby. If you prefer to make your own, you can buy a small t-shirt and put your dog’s front legs through the armholes of the shirt. The shirt should fit snugly around your dog’s torso.

You can also try behavior modification. Counterconditioning is when the animal is taught to display acceptable behavior instead of the unacceptable one. You can do this by only playing your dog’s favorite game or giving him his favorite toy right before and during a storm. Another modification is desensitization. This is when your dog’s response is decreased while exposed to increasing levels of what they’re afraid of. For a noise phobia, start with the noise at a quiet level and work your way to a louder volume level. If you feel that his anxiety is out of control, consult your veterinarian as medication can be prescribed to temporarily alleviate your dog’s anxiety. Do not give your dog any over the counter or prescription medication without asking your vet first. What works for a human may be fatal to your dog.

If you have any concerns or questions, please give us a call at 610-372-2121.


Wyomissing Animal Hospital has provided superior veterinary care for small animals for more than twenty years. Founded by Dr. Boyd Wagner and Dr. John Hampson, the hospital now has eight doctors and over 50 staff members who are dedicated to providing professional and loving care to all of our patients. At Wyomissing Animal Hospital, we understand that your pets are your family. We provide both wellness care and medical treatment for your animals. Wyomissing Animal Hospital is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA accreditation recognizes our hospital’s commitment to meeting the highest quality standards of care – a recognition achieved by only 17% of small animal practices in the United States and Canada.

Pet Storm Preparation

This week is National Hurricane Preparation Week. Below are a collection of tips published by the national Weather Service. To learn more, go to:

Severe Weather

Keep pets in mind when severe weather strikes. Bring pets indoors.


Confine pets to one room of the home. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.

Winter Weather
◾Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
◾Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
◾ Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
◾Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. Keep pets indoors in possible, especially if they are sensitive to the cold weather due to age, illness or breed type.


Don’t leave pets in cars. Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Any pet left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death.


Confine pets to one room of the home. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.

By Brian Miller

It is fair to admit that prior to working a Liverpool Animal Health Center, I had never really thought about the bond that people shared with their pets. I owned a dog and a cat at the time, and while I considered them to be part of my family, I had never pondered how animals affected the lives of others. Within the first few hours of my very first shift, and every day since, I have marveled at the devotion and love exhibited by owners and pets alike.

From my vantage point behind the front desk at LAHC, I have witnessed an endless array of different relationships that exist between humans and their four-legged friends. While each is interesting in their own regard, there is one union that may be the most unique and intriguing of them all.

At Liverpool Animal Health Center, we have the privilege and honor of caring for a number of government agency dogs. Officers from the New York State Police, City of Oswego, and the United States Border Patrol utilize LAHC for their veterinary needs. Like most people, I had seen K9 officers on patrol and featured on television, but that is where my familiarity ended. Now, I fully understand and appreciate what these officers mean to their handlers and their community.

Recently, I spoke with Sergeant Jeffrey Cicora of the New York State Police about his initial decision to bring one of his partner’s to LAHC, and the dynamic of working with a K9 partner. His responses were enlightening, honest, and insightful, and provided an intimate look at an incredible bond.

SgtCicoraDevittHow long have you been a K9 handler for the police department, and what are some of the duties expected?
I am a New York State Trooper and I was stationed out of the Baldwinsville barracks near Radisson for over 20 years. In June of 2001, I was chosen to be 1 of 2 canine handlers in Onondaga County. I completed a rigorous 20-week K9 basic training school in Cooperstown, NY with my first K9 partner (“Devitt”) who was trained in explosives detection as well as handler protection and tracking. There was never a question as to what veterinarian I would use to take care of my partner. We were always treated like family at LAHC, and if Devitt ever had a medical problem the staff and doctors took immediate action and treated the problem. We certainly didn’t request or demand special treatment, but the doctors always seemed to take a special interest in us. They seemed to know the importance of the job and duties that we performed on a daily basis and did everything they could to make Devitt comfortable and get him back into service as soon as possible. Devitt wasn’t just a dog, and he wasn’t just a partner. He was my boy! He kept me safe, and in turn, I kept him safe. We were a team! We spent nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together, but when times arose that I had to leave him, I knew he would be well taken care of at LAHC. I trusted that the doctors, technicians, and animal caretakers would protect him like I protected him. I never had any reservations about his care.

Immediately following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Devitt and I received orders to deploy to JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City. Devitt and I spent nearly 6 months searching planes, luggage, motorcades, and airplane terminals for explosives. In the winter of 2002, we were once again deployed to NYC to scour the subway systems in Manhattan for an Elevated Orange Alert. We were tasked with searching the subway terminals and trains in an attempt to deter terrorists. Devitt was also credited with tracking and apprehending numerous felony and misdemeanor suspects during his career. Sadly, I lost Devitt in August of 2010. My friends at LAHC were very compassionate, and I’m sure his passing was a loss to them as well. In exchange for all the years of great service, I presented them with a framed photo of Devitt, which hangs proudly in the main hallway. I am sad, yet proud to see him every time that I go in.

In February of 2010 I trained my second explosives detection partner, “McGinn”. We graduated from K9 basic training school in May of 2010 and patrolled the northern part of Onondaga County. One of our first orders of business was to meet and greet our friends at LAHC. Like my other dogs, McGinn was welcomed into the LAHC family. Although McGinn’s career was cut short by my promotion to Sergeant, he is still treated like the trooper he is. To McGinn’s credit he was honored for his part in apprehending murder suspect David Renz on March, 14 2013. McGinn is now retired and belongs to me, thanks to the generosity of the New York State Police. His duties are much different now but he continues to meet me at the back door as I get ready to leave for work each day.

When did you first start using Liverpool Animal Health Center for your veterinary needs?
In 2005, my wife Valerie and I moved to the Baldwinsville area from Syracuse. We had Devitt at the time, as well as a cocker spaniel named “Brandy”. We did not have a local McGinnAndDevittveterinarian, so we tried several different practices in the area. When we finally tried LAHC, we were pleasantly surprised at the friendly service provided by the staff and doctors. Despite our hectic schedules, we were able to get in for appointments at just about any time. If it was really busy, the awesome receptionists would go above and beyond to find a way to fit us in. When we got in to see the doctors, we were treated with respect and given medical information in a way that we could easily understand. The doctors were always very professional and never tried to oversell their services. We found ourselves in the office quite frequently over the years for a myriad of reasons, and built a great rapport with the staff and doctors. I am proud to say that I consider the staff at LAHC to be a part of our family.

Why is it so important to have a veterinarian office you can trust?
Our K9 partner’s health is very important and it is essential to always feel comfortable knowing that your dog is getting the best treatment available. You should be able to trust your vet just as much as you trust your dog. Police work is inherently dangerous and you must be able to trust that your vet is trained and prepared for the worst-case scenario if your dog goes down. In all of the years that I have been going to LAHC with my K9 partners, I have never questioned their ability to give my dogs the very best care available.

Can you describe the relationship that is shared between a K9 officer and their handler?
When you work with a K9 partner 24/7 you develop a bond that is nearly unbreakable. They become part of your family. At times, you learn to trust them even more than your own instincts. You put their health and safety before your own, which is not how it’s supposed to be in police work, but at the end of the day, that’s how it is! Their love for you is unconditional, as is yours for them.
“No damn dog will ever sleep in my bed!” I once said. How wrong I was!
“They’re just a tool, a piece of equipment!” I once declared. How wrong I was!
“I won’t get attached to this smelly dog!” I vowed. How wrong I was!
“I don’t remember the last time I cried and sobbed like a small child” is a statement that I could once proclaim as the truth. But now, I’ll never forget. It was the day I lost my K9 partner.

Pets, Cars & Heat

Brutus, Duke, Coco, Lola and Jake…sure, they’re fairly common pet names, but they’re also the names of just a few of the pets that died last year because they were left in cars on warm (and not necessarily hot) days while their owners were shopping, visiting friends or family, or running errands. What’s so tragic is that these beloved pets were simply the victims of bad judgment.Want numbers? An independent study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. (And cracking the windows doesn’t help).

To learn more, go to:

By Brian Miller

With spring finally here, it means that here in Central New York, we can finally put away our boots and coats, and tuck the mittens away for another few months. Though we’ll all be happy to get outdoors to enjoy the few fleeting weeks of beautiful weather, if you are pet owner, it is important to be cognizant that flea and tick season is upon us. I spoke with Dr. Maghan Wormuth to discuss some of the key things to be mindful of over the course of the ensuing months.

Why is so important for pet owners to be aware of flea and tick season?
It is important to realize that aside from being an annoyance, these parasites can cause health issues for your pet. Ticks have the potential to carry Lyme disease, which has become prevalent in this region. Ticks can also carry Ehrlichia and anaplasmosis which are two other diseases that can afflict your dog.

As far as fleas are concerned, many dogs and cats suffer from flea allergies. These allergies may cause your pet to scratch and itch a lot, and as a result, they can suffer from dermatitis. For these reasons, it is important for your pet to remain on a flea and tick preventative year round.

shutterstock_31893043What are some of the common misconceptions about fleas and ticks?
Some people believe that fleas and ticks are only a problem in the summertime, when in actuality, they are a year-round concern. Any time temperatures rise above freezing, ticks will be out. We have seen dogs come in with ticks attached to them in January. Though fleas seem to be a huge concern in the spring and the summer, the time of year we see them the most is in the fall. Regardless of the time of year, once fleas have infested your home, it can take months to get them out. Again, this is why we stress the importance of year-round preventative.

You briefly mentioned it in one of your prior answers, but can you speak a little more about some of the major concerns associated with fleas?
We see a lot of pets who suffer from dermatitis due to having an allergy to the fleas, and this can lead to infection. Additionally, fleas can carry parasites. Many times, we see cats who are not on a preventative come in with tapeworms because they are grooming themselves constantly, and they are ingesting the parasitic fleas. We see this in dogs as well, but it is not as common.

We find that many people believe that if their cat stays strictly indoors, that they will never get fleas. Fleas can enter the home on your clothing, or on your shoes, or if you are visiting someone who has fleas in their home. Cats are so meticulous about grooming, that many times, owners are unaware their pet has fleas until they begin showing signs and symptoms. 80% of all skin problems we see in cats are the direct result of fleas. Because of this, it is very important to remember that each and every pet in your home should be on a year-round preventative. It only takes one unprotected animal to cause a flea infestation in the home, whether they go outside or not. If you have an exotic pet such as a ferret or guinea pig, you should speak to your doctor about protecting them as well.

What do you recommend for flea and tick control?
Like all medications, it depends on the animal. Whichever preventative an owner decides to try, it is important to use something that your veterinarian recommends, and to avoid over-the-counter products unless specified by a doctor. Here at Liverpool Animal Health Center, we are recommending Bravecto, which is a new oral preventative for dogs. The great thing about this product is that one tablet provides protection for 12 weeks. It is very convenient to administer, and because it is not applied directly to the skin, there is no concern that it can be washed off.

For cats we generally recommend using Revolution. This is a topical medication that not only protects cats against fleas, but provides heartworm prevention, and does intestinal parasite deworming. Unless your cat goes outdoors and has a problem contracting ticks, Revolution is what I generally recommend. If ticks become an issue, then I typically advise the client to try using Frontline Plus. Though ticks do not generally pass diseases to your cat, these parasites certainly can carry diseases that be contracted by their owners.

Why some dogs bite children

Teaching children how to approach dogs slowly and carefully as well as how to recognize warning signs are critical components of dog bite prevention. Remember, not all dogs are friendly and not all dogs want to be touched. Children are often at eye level, and may stare directly into dogs’ eyes. They also run and move suddenly, appearing like prey. Any dog may bite, even your family pet. Adults should always supervise children when they play with any dog, and they should teach children the best ways to approach and treat animals to avoid being bitten.

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