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Service Dogs: Their Vital Role, and How to Spot the Real Ones

Service dogs are much more than just beloved pets. These superheroes in fur are specially trained to perform tasks that directly assist people with specific needs, significantly enhancing their quality of life and empowering them to navigate the world with confidence.

Aiden, the diabetic alert service dog for Christy Hoss.

5 Types of Service Dogs

Within the world of service dogs lies a diverse range of specializations, each catering to unique needs.

1. Guide Dogs:

These dogs provide safe navigation for individuals with visual impairments, guiding them around obstacles and helping them navigate unfamiliar environments.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers are commonly used for their intelligence, focus, and loyalty.

2. Mobility Assistance Dogs:

For individuals with mobility limitations, these dogs can retrieve items, open doors, pull wheelchairs, and even provide stability during balance challenges.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, and Standard Poodles excel in these roles due to their strength and trainability.

3. Hearing Dogs:

These alert partners act as auditory extensions for individuals with hearing loss. They signal sounds like smoke alarms, fire alarms, telephones ringing, and doorbells, providing crucial safety and independence.

Breeds like Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Bull Terriers are often chosen for their alertness and focus.

4. Medical Alert Dogs:

Trained to detect specific medical conditions, these dogs can be lifesavers for individuals with diabetes, epilepsy, or allergies.

  • Diabetic alert dogs detect changes in blood sugar levels, prompting their handler to take necessary action.
  • Seizure response dogs sense the onset of seizures and help their companion safely lie down, retrieve medication, or alert others.
  • Allergen detection dogs can smell the slightest traces of potential allergens in the air or within food and alert their handlers to allergen exposure, allowing them to take necessary precautions.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles are typically used due to their attentiveness and ability to learn complex tasks.

5. Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs):

These calming dogs offer emotional support and assistance for individuals with mental health conditions like anxiety, PTSD, or depression. They can help mitigate anxiety attacks, flashbacks, or depressive episodes. They might offer tactile stimulation, help manage panic attacks, interrupt self-harming behaviors, or remind their partner to take medication.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles are well-suited due to their calm and empathetic nature.

Beyond Breeds

Certain breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are commonly associated with service work. These people-pleasing breeds are food-motivated, so they are easily trained, because treats help keep them focused on their handler.

However, any dog with the temperament and aptitude can be trained. Ultimately, their individual skills and willingness to work matter most.

Imposters Create Problems for True Service Dogs

Dogs wearing all kinds of vests are seemingly everywhere, making it difficult to identify authentic service dogs.

In addition, the rise of emotional support animals (ESAs) and the misconception that any well-behaved dog can be a service dog has led to confusion and even exploitation.

Christy Hoss, handler for a diabetic alert service dog, says, “Pet owners who pass their pets off as service dogs are selfishly harming those of us whose lives depend upon a working dog.”

Because so many people buy a “service dog” vest online and use that as an excuse to take their dog everywhere, Hoss sometimes encounters businesses that frown on her and her service dog. Recently, she visited a workout center and the check-in clerk told her, “Ma’am, you can’t have that dog in here.”

Her service dog was “on his harness, on duty, not barking, not pooping, and well-behaved.”

Hoss’s response to the clerk: “Yes, I can bring my dog in here, and what you told me is illegal.”

Businesses that have a “no dogs” policy can’t legally turn away a service dog and its handler. The story had a happy ending – it inspired the facility to train their employees on how to recognize a service dog.

5 Ways to Differentiate Service Dogs from Imposters

So, how can you distinguish a true service dog from an imposter? Here are 5 key indicators:

1. Task-Oriented:

A genuine service dog is always working. They maintain sustained focus on their handler, anticipating and responding to cues and performing their assigned tasks with attentiveness. They resist food temptations and politely decline playful advances from strangers.

2. Calm, Focused Demeanor:

Service dogs undergo rigorous training to avoid interacting with strangers or other animals, focusing solely on their handler’s needs. They maintain exceptional composure in public settings and in other highly stimulating environments. They rarely bark, lunge at people, or exhibit anxious or destructive behaviors.

3. Specialized Gear:

Service dogs almost always wear a well-fitting harness, tether, vest, or jacket. While not mandatory everywhere, some service dogs wear official tags or patches that clearly identify their working status and the type of disability they assist with. Their handler may also carry the service dog’s certification from a reputable training organization.

4. No “Emotional Support” Labels:

Legitimate service dogs won’t wear vests labeled “emotional support” or “therapy animal,” as these designations do not hold the same legal protections. Unlike service dogs, who accompany their handler everywhere, emotional support dogs are usually used in private settings.

5. Public Access Rights:

Service dogs are legally allowed to accompany their handlers in public spaces where pets are typically banned, such as hospitals (except for sterile surgical environments), clinics, school classrooms, college dorms, homeless shelters, hotels, airplane cabins, and shops.

They are allowed in establishments that prepare and sell food, although they are not permitted in the part of a restaurant where food is being prepared.

Businesses cannot deny entry based solely on the presence of a service dog (see the next section for more information).

Respect the Partnership

Service dogs are not pets. They are dedicated partners performing essential tasks for their handlers.

Here are some etiquette tips to help you interact with a service dog team:

If you encounter a team in public, maintain a respectful distance. Offer a friendly smile or nod, and avoid petting or engaging without permission.

Service dog handlers often appreciate genuine inquiries about their dog’s role, but may choose not to talk about their disability or their dog’s training beyond providing basic information. They may decline requests for photos.

Avoid unintentional discrimination by familiarizing yourself with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding the public access rights of service animals.

It is not legal for staff in a public place to “ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.” (ADA.gov)

Legitimate service dog programs do not issue identification cards or vests. Requesting such documents is against the law, unnecessary, and discriminatory.

By respecting these boundaries, you help create a more welcoming world for individuals who depend on the unwavering loyalty and invaluable service of their furry companions.

Note: This article provides information and should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal questions or concerns, consult with an attorney specializing in disability law.

Additional Resources

It’s important to educate yourself and others about the vital role service dogs play, fostering understanding and respect for these incredible animals and their handlers.

For more information about The Americans with Disabilities Act and to speak with an ADA Specialist, call the ADA Information Line 800-514-0301 (Voice) and 1-833-610-1264 (TTY)

Hours:
M-W, F 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 3:00-5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Th 2:30-5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Calls are confidential.

National Institute of Canine Service and Training (NICST)

Dogs4Diabetics

Canine Companions

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog

Many work-from-home pet parents tell us they’re happier, less stressed, and are getting more exercise because of the constant company of their pet.

An added benefit of being around our pets all day is that we’re noticing potential symptoms of illness or injury at earlier stages and are scheduling important veterinary care on a regular basis.

On the other hand, pets who incessantly beg for our attention can distract us from our work. Like this:

Cats on the Keyboard

You’ve probably been on a Zoom call where someone’s cat (perhaps your cat) stuck its nose into the camera, meandered across the keyboard, jostled the device, or disconnected the call.

Cats love the warmth of a computer and they can’t resist the enticing movement they see on the screen. Plus, they like being the center of attention. When they sprawl across your keyboard and you “reward” them by petting them or talking to them, they think, “This is a great place to be. I’ll just stay here!”

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

This attention-seeking behavior is not conducive to meeting work deadlines. Instead of reinforcing the behavior, train your cat to break the habit by setting up a comfortable, warm deskside bed or by placing a cat blanket on a cleared-off shelf or windowsill. Reward your cat with attention and praise when it settles there.

Purposeful Playtime for Cats

Make sure you give your kitty plenty of love and attention when you’re away from the keyboard. Cats need mental challenges and purposeful playtime.

Schedule two or three 10-minute play sessions each day. The first one should take place before you start work.

This will tire kitty out a bit and will prepare them for naptime in their deskside bed. During each playtime, actively engage with your cat, rotating toys every few minutes.

Destructive Dogs

Dogs aren’t as keen on keyboards as cats are, but when they get stir-crazy, dogs can bark incessantly, chew things you don’t want them to touch, and generally destroy things.

They, too, need lots of mental and physical exercise. Try these 6 brain games to keep your dog’s mind healthy.

Pre-Workday Quality Time

Before you begin your workday (and again, later in the day), take your dog for a walk. Walks help keep their muscles strong, their joints limber, and their brains sharp. They’re good for you, too!

Prior to starting work, take 20 minutes to play scent games, puzzle games, hide-and-seek, and other interactive games.

Time spent together will deepen your bond and will tire your pup out, which helps deter negative attention-seeking behaviors such as whining and barking.

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

When you’re on a video or phone call, keep your dog busy and distracted by giving them their favorite toy or a frozen treat.

Create a consistent routine by setting up a space for your dog that’s independent of your workspace. It might be a crate or a gated area in your home. It should be comfortable and your dog should feel safe and relaxed there. Give your dog toys and treat puzzles to keep them engaged on their own.

Reward Appropriate “Office” Behavior

The most important thing to remember when working at home with pets is not to reward attention-seeking behavior. When they commandeer the keyboard or whine, paw, or nudge you, don’t talk to them or pet them. When you respond to these behaviors, it signals your pet that they will always get your attention by doing these things.

Don’t punish or scold your pet for these behaviors, either. Instead, thoughtfully provide your furry friend with activities that will keep them occupied and content. Reward them with a treat when they exhibit appropriate office behavior.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide

The cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL (called the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL in humans) is a very important ligament in the stifle (knee) joint in pets.

This tiny ligament’s job, along with the caudal cruciate ligament and collateral ligaments, is to stabilize the stifle joint where the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin) bones meet. Because cats and dogs stand on 4 limbs, the angle of their stifle joints put constant stress on the CCL, even while only standing.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs.

Some cases of CCL rupture occur acutely – from trauma such as a fall, stepping in a hole, hit-by-car, or other high-force injury to the stifle.

However, most CCL ruptures are caused by slow, gradual degeneration of the ligament. Rupture may be partial or complete. In many cases, it starts as a partial tear and progresses to a full rupture of the ligament over time.

Following the rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament, the stifle becomes unstable. When the dog or cat places weight on the limb, this instability allows the shin bone (tibia) to slide forward relative to the thigh bone (femur).

The stifle feels like it is “giving way,” causing pain and severe lameness. To avoid pain, the injured pet automatically shifts its weight to the “good” hind leg. This weight shift causes the other leg to do “double duty,” putting it at much greater risk of rupturing the other CCL.

Cranial cruciate ligament injuries are most likely in older, large breed, and overweight dogs.

The causes for CCL rupture are related to the age, breed, size, body condition, and activity of the pet, as well as its conformation. Obesity plays a large factor in CCL ruptures. While not nearly as common in cats, CCL tears are one of the most common problems veterinary surgeons fix in dogs.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Certain dog breeds are predisposed, such as:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Newfoundland
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Akita
  • Bernard
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The injury is more common in spayed and neutered dogs, and is part of the reason veterinarians now recommend delaying spay or neuter surgery for large and giant breed dogs until the dog is 1-2 years of age.

Overweight pets are at higher risk for cruciate ligament injuries

Any dog or cat can tear its CCL ligament, but overweight pets are at significantly higher risk. Slimming to a healthy weight is a very important part of the prevention and healing process after a CCL rupture.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.comAdditionally, overweight pets will have more difficulty moving around while recovering from surgery, which can result in prolonged healing and pain.

A healthy weight and body condition reduces the stress on the injured joint, as well as stress on the other stifle’s ligaments.

Ideally, performing surgery to stabilize the injured stifle and address the excess weight can be done simultaneously, improving pets’ overall health and comfort, minimizing the development of severe arthritis, decreasing the risk of similar injury to the other hind leg, and getting them on the road to recovery as soon as possible. If your pet is overweight, our doctors would be happy to work with you develop a plan to help him/her slim down to a healthy weight.

How we diagnose CCL injuries

Typically, lameness is diagnosed with:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Complete physical exam and gait analysis
  • Radiographs (X-rays)
  • Lyme disease test

Often, when assessing a stifle injury, pets require a brief sedation to allow the doctor to manipulate the painful stifle. This manipulation is called the cranial drawer test and is used to assess for excessive joint laxity.

Radiographs are used to evaluate the stifle for signs of joint laxity, increased joint fluid, arthritis, and other potential – but much less common – disease processes that can cause similar lameness and pain, such as bone cancer.

A test for Lyme disease, which can cause lameness through joint inflammation, is also warranted.

A new diagnostic option: Orthopedic Ultrasound

An exciting new branch of ultrasound technology is gaining acceptance for smaller animals — orthopedic ultrasound. First used in equine medicine, it allows veterinarians to study injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints in a completely non-invasive and non-painful way. It’s particularly helpful when the cause of a lameness isn’t 100% obvious on physical exam.

Orthopedic ultrasound is more sensitive for soft tissue injuries than radiographs, which are better for evaluating bones. In addition, ultrasound costs less than MRIs and CAT scans and doesn’t require anesthesia. At worst, a patient may need light sedation to perform the ultrasound.

Ultrasound allows the doctor to “see” ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage, guiding the recommended treatment plan. It can be used to determine if an ACL is completely torn, requiring surgery, or only partially damaged, which may heal with strict adherence to an 8-week rest and therapy plan. It can also be used to monitor the healing of a tendon or a ligament.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR REPAIRING TORN CCLs

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Surgical Options – Most Common Choice

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is by far the most common cruciate surgical repair technique used in dogs. TPLO involves improving the biomechanics of the stifle by changing the angle of the top of the shin bone, called the tibial plateau.

In this technique, the top of the tibia is cut, rotated, and stabilized in place with surgical plates and screws. The change in the angle of the tibial plateau makes the stifle feel stable to the dog when weight-bearing, despite the ruptured ligament.

The success rate of TPLO surgery is high, with most dogs returning to normal or almost normal function. In one study, 98% of owners reported excellent, very good, or good outcomes. Because of the high degree of success, it has become the treatment of choice in large-breed and/or athletic dogs.

The most common complications with TPLO surgery include infection (approximately 6%) and implant loosening or failure.

Another surgical approach to CCL repair includes the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA). The TTA technique is sometimes used an alternative to TPLO in large dogs. It also aims to restore the biomechanics of the stifle.

Alternatively, two Extracapsular Surgical Repair Techniques aim to recreate the stifle-stabilizing function of the CCL by strengthening the tissues surrounding the stifle. These techniques are usually reserved for cats and medium-to-small dogs. While providing comfort, they are often not as effective in returning the stifle to full athletic function.

We now offer TPLO and other surgical cruciate repair procedures at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Board-certified veterinary surgeon, Dr. Eric Hoots, has partnered with us to provide TPLO and other surgical options for pets with cruciate ligament rupture at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Hoots has been providing specialty and advanced surgical care for pets since 2002. Pets are admitted and medically supervised by one of our doctors, who also manages the pet’s follow-up care.

Physical rehab therapy at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Dr. Tricia Munroe | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Tricia Munroe

Unlike 15 years ago, pets that undergo orthopedic surgery these days are no longer confined to crates during the recovery periods, but encouraged to exercise in a controlled and precise manner to increase their strength, maintain range-of-motion, and hasten healing.

Appropriate exercises can also improve pets’ comfort, help with weight loss, reduce scar tissue formation, and improve their quality-of-life — who doesn’t get achy and sad when forced to lie around?

A growing specialty, Certified Veterinary Rehab Therapy experts like our Dr. Tricia Munroe provide physical rehabilitation therapy in a specially-designed clinic setting similar to a physical therapist’s office for humans. Dr. Munroe, who is also certified in acupuncture, can develop and monitor a custom exercise and therapy plan to:

  • increase strength in the injured limb or spine
  • maintain joint range-of-motion
  • promote weight loss and general well-being
  • reduce pain and promote healing

Dr. Munroe uses a variety of treatment modalities, including specific exercises, stretching, acupuncture, and laser therapy. She also teaches pet owners how to help their pets exercise at home with precise exercises tailored to the pet.

What about cell therapy?

Stem cells are the basic cell precursors from which all other types of cells are generated. All specialized cells, such as muscle cells, nerve cells, blood cells, etc., originated from stem cells. Under the right conditions in the body or laboratory, stem cells can divide to self-renew and recreate new, functional tissue.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Stem Cell Therapy and other biological injections, such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), have gained much attention in the last few years as potential alternatives to surgery and have created a flurry of research. These “cutting edge” therapies may eventually have the potential for several applications in both human and veterinary medicine. Researchers are developing techniques with the hopes of treating bone fractures, restoring diseased cartilage in arthritic joints, healing ligaments and tendons, and reversing type 1 diabetes.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are thought to promote the repair response in diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “Stem cells have been called everything from cure-alls to miracle treatments.”

The techniques are still considered experimental. Most stem cell therapy, if using adult stem cells collected from the patient’s own body, is considered safe because it minimizes the risk of unwanted reaction. The most common side effects are temporary swelling and pain.

Is stem cell therapy truly effective? The jury is still out.

When used to help treat orthopedic disease, adult stem cells or platelets are harvested from the patient’s own body (typically from abdominal fat, blood, or bone marrow). The cells are processed in the lab, and then injected into the patient’s affected joint with the goal of decreasing inflammation and promoting healing.

Stem cell therapy or PRP may help a pet with a partially-torn CCL rebuild the ligament and make it stronger. If the CCL is completely ruptured or degenerated, stem cell therapy may be used to strengthen the other ligaments of the stifle.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are currently quite expensive.

We are still evaluating the science behind the variety of stem cell therapy and PRP treatment options available for dogs and cats, and will likely offer the therapy in the future when we are satisfied that the techniques are effective.

CONSERVATIVE NONSURGICAL OPTIONS

Conservative nonsurgical treatment options for complete CCL rupture are recommended less often by veterinarians because they have a lower success rate of returning a pet to normal function and a lower satisfaction rate amongst pet owners.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Conservative options may be considered an alternative when surgery is not an option; for example, when a pet also has significant heart disease, making anesthesia ill-advised.

Non-surgical options have historically included:

  • cage rest
  • extended exercise restriction (several months)
  • appropriate pain medications
  • cartilage protectant medications
  • weight control

Non-surgical options have improved somewhat with advances in physical rehabilitation and recent improvements in custom leg braces used to support, protect, and align the injured limb.

Custom-made braces can be expensive and but may be helpful in small dogs if tolerated – some dogs will not. To be effective, the dog must wear the brace at all times. Lack of comfort and skin irritations, sometimes severe, are the most common concerns.

What happens if you don’t repair a torn CCL?

An untreated CCL tear can lead to a myriad of consequences and a cycle of pain, decreased mobility, and diminishing quality of life due to:

  • Chronic pain caused by joint laxity and the development of arthritis. While pain medications tend to help and improve the limp, they do not fix the tear. As time goes by, pain may decrease to some degree, but it stills hurts, especially once arthritis sets in.
  • Osteoarthritis, or inflammation in a joint. Arthritis is a life-long condition for which there is no cure. While anti-inflammatories and joint supplements may help, they don’t “fix” the arthritis and their effectiveness can decline over time. In addition, as pets age, they may develop liver and kidney problems that require us to curtail or forgo anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Decreased range-of-motion in the stifle due to the development of scar tissue. Without surgery to stabilize the wobbly stifle, the body attempts to create stability with scar tissue. Unfortunately, this scar tissue is hardly ever strong enough to keep the stifle stable, leading to pain, arthritis, stiffness, and decreased range-of-motion.
  • Muscle loss and weakness in the injured leg due to lack of use. Pets with an ACL tear move a lot less overall. And when they do move, they will shift their weight to the other three limbs and carry the injured limb. It’s the use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon. By decreasing their exercise, they lose muscle all over, putting other joints at risk because of the loss of joint-stabilizing muscles. The injured limb will have the post pronounced muscle atrophy.
  • Changes in gait and posture that negatively affect the other three limbs and spine.
  • ACL tear in the other leg. When the ACL tears in one stifle, pets will shift their weight to the other hind leg, often leading to an ACL tear in the opposite leg.
  • Weight gain due to inactivity. Pets with chronic lameness become inactive couch potatoes, losing muscle, and frequently gaining weight. The added weight puts more pressure on the joints, leading to more pain and more of the consequences above.
  • Meniscal tears. Meniscus are an important cartilage cushion in the stifle. Left untreated, up to half of dogs with ACL tears will end up with a torn meniscus, causing more pain and more of the consequences above.

Marijuana: Concerns and Possible Benefits in Veterinary Medicine

Marijuana: Concerns and Possible Benefits in Veterinary Medicine | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

With recreational marijuana legal in Washington State, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of questions from pet parents about its uses in veterinary medicine.

As most people know, marijuana has two main active components: THC and CBD.

THC – Toxic to Pets

THC is the chemical in marijuana that causes the high (and many of its other effects). THC may also cause increased sensory perception (ie., brighter colors), laughter, a change in the perception of time, drowsiness, and the munchies. However, in some people, THC causes fear, anxiety, distrust, and hallucinations.

THC is toxic to pets. With the increased availability of edible marijuana products and marijuana cigarettes, we’re seeing an increase in the number of marijuana poisonings in dogs. Often, these poisonings require emergency treatment.

CBD – Illegal for Veterinarians to Recommend

CBD is the compound in marijuana that may decrease inflammation. CBD does not make people high and is not mind-altering. It’s been investigated since the 1970s as a potential anti-seizure medication in people with uncontrolled seizures.

CBD appears to be a safe drug in people with no addictive side effects, and it may be therapeutic in a number of human medical conditions, such as epilepsy, arthritis, and anxiety.

There are no published studies of CBD’s safety in pets, its potential drug interactions, its proper dosing, or whether currently available products contain a consistent amount of CBD.

And while CBD products are readily available for purchase – some even specifically labeled for pets by their manufacturer – it is illegal for veterinarians to recommend CBD products at this time.

CBD Oil – The Jury’s Out

We get questions daily from pet parents who would like to treat their dog or cat with CBD oil. Some pet parents choose to use these products without consulting with us first.

To be on the safe side, please don’t give your dog CBD oil or any marijuana products.

Studies are underway, but until we have more information and products that have been tested for purity and accurate concentrations, as well as federal authorization to prescribe, veterinarians are unable to recommend them.

From Fat to Fit: 6 Weight-Loss Tips for Happy, Healthy Cats and Dogs

Our furry companions bring endless joy, unconditional love, and a healthy dose of cuddles to our lives.

Unfortunately, that love often translates into overflowing treat bowls and couch potato pets.

Like their human counterparts, our canine and feline friends are battling a global weight epidemic, with consequences that extend far beyond those extra pounds.

The statistics paint a worrying picture.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 59.5% of dogs and 60.1% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese.

That translates to roughly 56 million overweight dogs and 58 million overweight cats. To put it in perspective, that’s roughly the combined human population of California and Texas!

Why are pets packing on the pounds?

In a nation known for its supersized portions, it’s no surprise that our four-legged friends are mirroring our own unhealthy trends.

Weight Loss Tips for Dogs and Cats | atlanticvetseattle.com

Several factors contribute to the pet obesity epidemic:

Overfeeding:

We shower our pets with love, and sometimes that translates to overflowing food bowls, frequent treats, and the “clean-plate” mentality.

Overestimating their calorie needs and neglecting portion control can lead to calorie overload (especially for pets with sedentary lifestyles), resulting in gradual weight gain.

The situation is particularly alarming for cats, as they are naturally programmed to eat small, frequent meals. When we unknowingly overfeed them, we create chubby kitties prone to a cascade of health issues.

Inappropriate diet:

Human snacks and table scraps are often loaded with unhealthy fats and sugars. While the occasional indulgence might seem harmless, it can contribute significantly to weight gain over time.

In addition to unhealthy snacks, feeding pets a diet high in fat and carbohydrates and low in protein and fiber can contribute to weight gain.

Related article:
Why Grain-Free, Boutique, and BEG Diets May Be Harming Your Pet

Lack of exercise:

Pets need daily physical activity to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. But our hectic schedules, combined with our tendencies towards a sedentary lifestyle, often mean shorter walks that leave our furry friends with pent-up energy and insufficient calorie burning.

Related article:
Five Fun (and Funny) Ways to Help Your Senior Cat Exercise

Age, breed, and gender:

Some dog breeds, including Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels, are genetically predisposed to carrying extra pounds due to their metabolism or body type.

Maine Coons and Persian cats are more prone to feline weight gain.

Senior pets and females tend to be more susceptible to weight gain, and spaying or neutering contributes to a slower metabolism.

Underlying medical conditions:

Certain medical conditions can contribute to weight gain, such as canine hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and feline diabetes.

The dangers of excess weight

Fat is a biologically active tissue, and excess fat tissue can wreak havoc on a pet’s metabolism, impacting their mobility and quality of life.

Joint issues:

Carrying extra weight puts immense strain on their joints, leading to mobility issues, osteoarthritis (a painful condition affecting the joints), and hip dysplasia.

Respiratory problems:

Obesity puts stress on the respiratory system, especially in dog breeds like pugs and bulldogs.

Skin issues:

Weight gain can worsen skin conditions like dermatitis and make grooming challenging.

Diabetes:

Both dogs and cats are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they are overweight or obese.

Cardiovascular disease:

The extra strain on the heart increases the risk of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.

Cancer:

Studies suggest a link between obesity and certain types of cancer in both dogs and cats.

Heatstroke:

Overweight pets are more susceptible to heatstroke.

Anesthesia complications:

Obese pets have an increased risk of anesthesia complications should they require surgery.

Shorter lifespan:

Studies show that overweight pets have a shorter lifespan than their leaner counterparts.

Summary:

Cats with excessive body weight are at significantly higher risk for developing insulin-dependent diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Overweight and obese dogs also have increased risk of arthritis, diabetes, heat exhaustion, and cancer.

Weight Loss Tips for Dogs and Cats | atlanticvetseattle.com

Fighting the flab: 6 weight-loss tips

The good news: pet obesity is largely preventable. Recognizing the signs of an overweight or obese pet is the first step. Look for a rounded body shape, difficulty jumping or climbing, and excessive panting.

Here are six tips to help your pet battle the bulge:

1. Consult your vet.

If you suspect your pet is carrying extra pounds, schedule a visit with us before putting your pet on a diet.

We’ll help you determine the proper number of calories, the type of diet, and the amount of exercise your pet needs each day, based on several factors:

  • your pet’s weight and metabolism
  • whether your pet is spayed or neutered
  • your pet’s age
  • typical daily activity your pet currently gets
  • whether your pet is indoors or outdoors, or both
  • whether your pet has any underlying medical conditions

2. Resist the temptation to treat.

You don’t want to sabotage your efforts to help your pet lose weight by “rewarding” them with sugar- and fat-laden treats.

As little as 30 extra calories per day can result in a weight gain of more than three pounds a year (kind of like humans gain weight when we inhale high-calorie drinks, donuts, and snack crackers).

While those puppy dog eyes begging for another treat might melt your heart, resist the urge to give your pet high-calorie human snacks or table scraps.

Offer praise and affection instead of extra food. Limit treats to special occasions or use them as rewards for positive behavior during training sessions.

Opt for healthful, low-calorie, no-sugar alternatives:

  • Dogs: small slices of apple, banana, baby carrots, broccoli, green beans
  • Cats: a flake of tuna or salmon

Be aware of treat sizes. Dog treats come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. But when you feed a pocket dog three small treats, your pup may have just eaten an entire day’s worth of calories.

Chop treats into teeny-tiny pieces appropriate for your pet’s size. Your pet can’t do math – they won’t notice the size difference.

Some treats offer the added bonus of helping keep your pet’s teeth clean. Ask us to recommend healthy goodies.

3. Ditch free-for-all feeding.

Just like humans, pets don’t always know when to stop.

Studies show that feeding even 10 extra tiny kibbles per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year in small dogs and indoor cats!

Use a measuring cup to ensure accurate portions of high-quality food. Remember: Not all pet food is created equal.

  • Look for food specifically designed for weight management, which may have lower calorie and fat content.
  • Pay attention to the ingredients and calorie content when choosing food. Opt for high-quality brands with real meat protein and fewer fillers.

If you’re unsure which food is best for your pet’s needs, ask us for recommendations during your consultation.

Another way to prevent overeating is to investing a feeding puzzle or slow feeder to make mealtime engaging and extend the time it takes to finish.

7 Steps to Prepare Your Pet for the End of Working from Home | atlanticvetseattle.com

4. Get active:

Daily exercise is a must. Exercise helps regulate weight and behavior, boosts your pet’s immune function, and improves cardiovascular health.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, tailored to your pet’s abilities.

Take your dog on a brisk walk for 20 to 30 minutes. Enjoy playful sessions in the park, play fetch, or schedule a play date with other pups.

Related article:
10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Actively play with your cat for 5 to 15 minutes per day, using a cat toy, remote-controlled battery mice, practice golf balls (the ones with holes in them), or a wad of paper.

Create an enriching indoor environment for your cat with climbing structures, scratching posts, and interactive toys to encourage them to move and play.

Related Article:
12 Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats

Start slow and gradually increase the duration and intensity of their workouts. A tired pet is a less likely to be a bored, overeating pet.

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

5. Track progress and celebrate success

Weight loss is a journey, not a race. Losing weight involves strategically and carefully decreasing calories (while preserving critical nutrients) and gradually increasing exercise.

Sound familiar? Yes, we humans go through the same process to lose weight!

Regularly weigh your pet and track their progress.

Be patient, consistent, and celebrate every milestone with your pet.

6. Ask for help

At Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, we have an arsenal of creative and time-proven strategies that may be helpful in your efforts to improve your pet’s weight, including what to do if some members of your family have a hard time accepting or adhering to a pet’s new health régime.

Please call us at 206-323-4433 for an appointment if you’d like to discuss your pet’s weight and set up a weight management plan.

Here’s to the health of you and your family, both human and furry.

For further reading

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats: What You Need to Know

We usually think of diabetes as a human disease. But it’s becoming more prevalent in dogs and cats.

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats: What Pet Owners Need to Know | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes in dogs is usually classified as Type 1, where the body is not producing enough insulin, a hormone crucial to metabolism. Untreated, diabetes mellitus (DM) can be fatal.

Female dogs are twice as likely to develop DM than male dogs, as are older dogs, aged 7-9. Certain breeds are more predisposed to DM, including:

  • Australian terrier
  • Beagle
  • Bichon Frise
  • Cairn terrier
  • dachshund
  • Keeshond
  • miniature pinscher
  • poodle
  • Samoyed
  • Schnauzer

Diabetes in Cats

One in every 200 cats may be affected by DM. More male cats have DM, as well as cats aged 8-13 and Siamese cats.

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats: What Pet Owners Need to Know | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Signs of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

  • Always thirsty
  • Always hungry
  • Urinates frequently, or urinates in the house/outside of litter box
  • Good appetite and possibly overweight, yet continually loses weight (particularly over the back)
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs only)
  • Dry or dull coat
  • Poor skin condition (such as excessive dandruff)
  • Blindness
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

Treatment

Dogs and cats with diabetes usually require life-long insulin injections, careful bloodwork monitoring, and frequent re-evaluation.

Further Reading

For more information about diabetes in cats, read our article, 5 Reasons to Test Your Cat for Diabetes.

Why We Offer Same-Day Urgent Care and Emergency Appointments

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably experienced a few unexpected trips to an urgent care clinic to have your child’s aching ear or pink eye or sprained wrist treated. You may have even gone to the ER for more serious medical matters.

Pets sometimes need urgent or emergency care too.

However, there is a severe shortage of qualified veterinary staff, for several reasons:

Staffing shortages.

In this highly stressful profession, many staffers experience “compassion fatigue” and burnout. The mental and physical toll results in staffers leaving the profession, forcing clinics to cut back on hours or to close altogether.

Pandemic puppy boom.

One in five households across the U.S. added a dog or cat at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly surpassing the number of graduating veterinarians and putting extra strain on existing staff.

More pet owners.

The number of pet-owning households in the U.S. is increasing by 1.5% annually; the demand for pet health care services is increasing 6.1% annually.

Retirement.

More than 12,500 board-certified veterinarians are planning to retire by 2030.

The ever-increasing demand for veterinary services, combined with a severe shortage of qualified veterinary staff has resulted in many veterinary clinics and emergency hospitals turning away pet patients because they are at capacity.

The ER Vets of Western Washington Facebook page regularly posts wait times for Emergency veterinarians. Here’s sampling of wait times during January 2024:

At Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, we try very hard to be there when you need us, but it requires creative scheduling, a willing staff, and a lot of hustle and hard work. By allowing room in our daily schedule for urgent and emergency care – with a slight fee increase – we help your pet get the immediate relief it needs and help you avoid a more costly visit and long waits at a veterinary emergency hospital.

Urgent Care Appointments

In addition to our regular pre-scheduled wellness and illness appointments, we reserve same-day Urgent Care appointments in our schedule every day.

There is a potential that these blocked-out appointments will not be filled, yet our staff needs to be on hand and prepared regardless.

Urgent medical conditions are uncomfortable, but not life-threatening, such as:

  • Eyes – swelling, discharge, redness
  • Ears – discharge, pain, odor, scratching, or shaking
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Vomiting (minor or occasional)
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild constipation
  • Change in urine color, frequency, or amount
  • Straining to urinate, dribbling urine
  • Change in amount of food or water intake
  • Change in behavior (mild depression, anxiety, excessive sleepiness)
  • Evidence of worms or fleas
  • Minor wounds
  • Lumps
  • Facial swelling, licking, or scratching

Medical Emergencies

We also accept Emergencies to the best of our ability. Pets with life-threatening emergency conditions take precedence over all scheduled appointments.

The additional emergency fee helps cover our costs for working through breaks, lunches, calling in additional staff, and overtime costs. When we take in emergencies during the day, our staff members often must stay after hours to finish medical notes and return phone calls after hours.

Emergency medical conditions can include but are not limited to, conditions such as:

  • Difficulty or irregular breathing
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Broken bones
  • Severe trauma (hit by car, fall, gunshot wound, burns)
  • Prolonged or multiple seizure
  • Poison exposure
  • Eating a foreign object
  • Significant bleeding
  • Paralysis
  • High fever
  • Significant wounds
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Inability to urinate or defecate

We Try Hard NOT to say “No”

Please know that if we have to say “No” to an established client requesting an Urgent or Emergency appointment, we have carefully considered our current patient load and tried to make it work, but have determined it would dangerously overwhelm the care of the patients we already have in the hospital with the staff we have available at that time.

We try very hard not to say “No.” Please do your part by communicating with us early if you think your pet is developing a medical condition that will require care.

Related articles:

Licensed Veterinary Nursing: A Recession-Proof Career that Combines a Love of Animals and People

Your Pet Shouldn’t Have to Wait to Feel Better! Consider Urgent Care

The Silent Thief of Sight: Understanding Glaucoma in Cats and Dogs

Glaucoma Can Rob Pets of Their Sight | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Glaucoma, a condition characterized by increased pressure within the eye, can silently steal the joy of sight from our furry companions. Affecting both cats and dogs, it’s a serious medical issue that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment.

In this article, we’ll help you recognize the early warning signs of feline and canine glaucoma, so you can be a vigilant guardian of your pet’s eyesight.

What is Glaucoma in Pets?

Imagine a balloon filled with fluid representing your pet’s eye. Normally, a delicate balance maintains the pressure within this “balloon,” allowing for proper eye function and vision.

Another way of putting it: In a healthy eye, the clear internal fluid — the aqueous humor — maintains the normal shape of the eye and nourishes the inside tissues. A balance of fluid production and drainage keeps the fluid pressure at normal levels.

Glaucoma disrupts this balance.

The fluid drainage system in the eye becomes clogged, resulting in abnormally high pressure levels. This elevated pressure causes severe side effects, including damage to the optic nerve (the critical pathway connecting the eye to the brain) and damage to the retina, ultimately leading to blindness and pain if left untreated.

Two Types of Glaucoma

Primary Glaucoma

This inherited form, more prevalent in dogs than cats, arises from a malformation in the eye’s drainage system, hindering fluid outflow and causing pressure buildup.

Certain dog breeds, like Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Cocker Spaniels, are predisposed to this type.

In cats, primary glaucoma is rare, but Siamese and Burmese breeds seem to have a higher risk.

Secondary Glaucoma

This form stems from underlying conditions like inflammation, tumors, or trauma, which obstruct the drainage pathways or increase fluid production.

In cats, secondary glaucoma is more common than primary.

Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

Glaucoma usually starts in one eye, but frequently progresses to the other eye. Signs are generally subtle at first, and glaucoma can be tough to recognize in its early stages before permanent eye damage occurs.

Be on the lookout for these warning signs:

Redness and Bloodshot Eyes

This is a common early symptom, often mistaken for simple eye irritation. Redness and bloodshot eyes are a telltale sign of inflammation or increased pressure within the eye.

Squinting or Pawing at the Eye

As pressure builds within the eye, glaucoma becomes very painful, and pets often squint or rub their eyes to alleviate the pressure.

Lethargy and Loss of Appetite

Pets may stop eating and resist human touch. They might sleep more and avoid bright light.

Changes in Vision

Pets may seem clumsy, bump into objects, and have difficulty navigating familiar spaces. This can an indicate vision loss.

Cloudy or Blueish Cornea

The normally clear outer layer of the eye (aka, cornea) might appear hazy or bluish due to fluid buildup within the eye.

Dilated Pupils

Unnaturally enlarged pupils can be a sign of pain or increased pressure. In some cases, the pupils may become unresponsive to light.

Bulging Eye

In advanced, later-stage cases, the eyeball may appear enlarged and protrude beyond the socket.

Diagnosis

While glaucoma can’t necessarily be avoided, if diagnosed early enough, it can be managed. To diagnose a pet’s eye condition, we perform a complete history, physical exam, and eye exam.

Additionally, we may recommend the following, depending on your pet’s specific needs:

  • A separate visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist, who specializes in eye diseases
  • Tonometry, which measures pressure inside of the eye with a small, hand-held instrument
  • X-rays or ultrasound of the skull to identify other abnormalities or tumors
  • Blood tests to try to determine the underlying cause, such as an infectious disease

Treatment Options for Glaucoma

The primary goal of treatment is to lower intraocular pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.

If your pet is diagnosed with glaucoma, we will prescribe medications to help reduce the pressure within their eyes and make them more comfortable.

Depending on the severity and type of glaucoma, treatment options may include:

  • Eye drops: Medications like prostaglandins and beta-blockers help increase fluid drainage or decrease fluid production.
  • Oral medications: In some cases, oral medications like Diamox may be prescribed to reduce fluid production.
  • Surgical therapy: Different types of surgical therapy may be recommended in an attempt to keep the pressure in the eye controlled.
  • Laser surgery: Laser iridotomy creates a tiny hole in the iris to improve aqueous humor drainage, often used in primary glaucoma.
  • Drainage surgery: In severe cases, a surgical procedure to create a new drainage pathway for the fluid may be necessary.
  • Removal of the eye: In long-term cases, surgical removal of the eye may be recommended as a last resort because glaucoma is such a painful condition for your pet.

Living with Glaucoma

Once diagnosed with glaucoma, your pet will likely need ongoing monitoring and treatment to manage the condition effectively. Regular veterinary checkups are essential to track the pressure and adjust medication as needed.

It’s also important to manage any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the glaucoma.

  • Avoid using flea and tick collars or sprays near your pet’s eyes, as these can irritate and potentially worsen glaucoma.
  • Manage your pet’s weight, as obesity can contribute to increased intraocular pressure.
  • Provide a stress-free environment for your pet, as anxiety can exacerbate glaucoma symptoms.
  • Avoid head injuries and use protective eyewear during outdoor activities to help safeguard your pet’s precious peepers.

With proper management, many pets with glaucoma can live happy and fulfilling lives.

Your furry friend’s eyes are windows to their world – keep them clear and bright with vigilance and care.

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing

It’s fun to visit a park—especially with our canine friends. We enjoy the opportunity to exercise together, and our pets also learn how to get along with people as well as other dogs in a group.

Here are 10 tips and tricks to make the experience even more positive.

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

1. Vaccinate, spay, or neuter first

Dog park outings are most appropriate for dogs who have been vaccinated.

Puppies should not visit dog parks until two weeks after they’ve completed their puppy vaccine series (including bordetella and parvo vaccines) – usually, after 18 weeks of age.

Adult dogs should go to dog parks only if they are current on their core vaccines. For added protection, dogs may benefit from the canine influenza vaccine.

To prevent unexpected litters of puppies, make sure your dog is spayed or neutered.

2. Preview the park

If your area has more than one dog park, do a little homework to determine which would be best for your pet. You’ll want the park to be well-maintained, and you may wish to go during a more or less crowded time.

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Off-Leash Dog Parks near Atlantic Veterinary Hospital:

Genesee Dog Park

In Southeast Seattle, just south of the Stan Sayres Hydroplane Pits and just west of Seward Park on Lake Washington.

2.7 acres, completely fenced, with two double-gated entrances. The center 2 acres is covered in gravel, making it mud-free in winter. The park has a doggie drinking fountain and a small and shy dog area.

Westcrest Park Off-Leash Area

In Southwest Seattle, above and west of Boeing Field.

8.4 acres with open spaces, paths, shade, trees, and a doggie drinking fountain. There’s even a special little off-leash hiking trail for canines and their people. For people, the off-leash area provides benches, chairs, and a shady place to relax. A special, separated area for small and shy dogs is located on the southwest side of the main off-leash area.

Blue Dog Pond

In Southeast Seattle, near I-90.

Fully-fenced, wide, rectangular field on 1.7 acres with grassy side slopes that your dog can run up and down. There are interesting art sculptures throughout the park that make it unique, including a giant reposing “blue dog” at the entrance.

Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Just south of downtown, on the north end of Beacon Hill.

4 acres with spectacular views of Puget Sound looking west and to the Seattle downtown skyline looking north. There is water available for dogs to drink. The fenced area is accessed from a long set of stairs at the north end of the Park. It is ADA accessible from the bicycle trail. A trail runs through the middle of the off-leash area which is compacted gravel and follows rolling contours.

Locations of off-leash areas maintained by Seattle Parks & Recreation

Reviews of the top 10 off-leash dog parks near Seattle

3. Train your dog to respond to voice commands

Dog park experiences are most satisfactory for everyone if your dog responds to voice commands. You want to know he’ll come when called, and then stay by your side. This helps resolve quarrelsome situations.

4. Leave food—for you and your pet—at home.

Just as you have certain foods you prefer your dog eat (or not eat), so do other pet owners. A dog park offers plenty of new scents for dogs to explore without introducing new food scents as well. The exception might be a small treat in your pocket in the event you need an added incentive for obedience.

Do bring water for you and your dog; water may not be available or accessible at a dog park that day. Bring your pet’s leash and several dog waste bags.

5. Bring dog-friendly toys… maybe

If you bring a ball or disc to play fetch with, use only dog-friendly flying discs (not made-for-people discs that can break a dog’s teeth). Invest in look-alike tennis balls (not the ones with the fuzzy coating that wear down a dog’s teeth). You’ll find these toys in pet stores.

Be aware that tossing a ball or disc for your dog may create a problem with other dogs. Be sensitive and wise to how other dogs in the off-leash area react, and stop if you notice anything out-of-the-ordinary.

6. Be friendly and respectful.

When you prepare to go to the park, clothe yourself with a friendly, respectful attitude. Plan to be part of solution, not the problem, to make the visit fun and safe for both of you.

At the Dog Park

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

7. Assess the situation before you enter.

How does your dog’s energy level compare with those who are already in the park? Notice where there are dogs similar in size to your dog, so your pet will have someone to play with. (Some off-leash parks have separate areas reserved for small and shy dogs.)

Familiarize yourself with the rules before you enter the off-leash area.

Be prepared to clean up after your pet.

8. Pay attention while in the park.

This is an outing for you and your pet to enjoy together. Stay focused—avoid reading, texting or talking on the phone, or chatting with your friends (whose pets may not be the best playmates for your dog, in size or temperament).

9. Avoid puddles, goose poop, and foxtails.

Some Seattle-area off-leash parks get muddy following a rainy day. Rain creates puddles teeming with dangerous parasites. And then there are those irresistible piles of goose poop! Dogs can contract leptospirosis or giardia by drinking or sniffing contaminated water or eating goose poop or feces from infected animals.

Watch out for foxtails, too! Last summer, we had a big problem with dogs contracting foxtails when sniffing around the edges of some local dog parks. The foxtail awns lodged between their toes, up their noses, and in their ears, eyeballs, and genitals.

Foxtail seeds act like a large splinter, causing a very painful and infected abscess which can result in chronic illness and even, death.

Learn how to identify foxtail and foxtail risks in this article on our blog

10. Know what your dog is doing at all times and read her body language.

Not every dog gets along with every other dog; squabbles will happen, and often your pet will sense the tension before you will.

The most important tip is to simply have fun and treasure the time outdoors with your pet!

Access Your Pet’s Medical Records 24/7 on Your Phone or Computer

You’re probably familiar with MyChart, an online portal where you can access all your health information in one place.

Did you know there’s a similar portal for pets? It’s called Petly.

Petly is a private, personal health web page for your pet, giving you access to your pet’s health records 24/7. This can be a lifesaver in case of an after-hours emergency or when traveling.

Best of all, we provide Petly free-of-charge to Atlantic Veterinary Hospital clients who have an active email address.

What You Can Do With Petly

With your complimentary subscription to Petly, you can:

  • Access your pet’s exam summaries, discharge instructions, laboratory results, and X-rays
  • Review your pet’s vaccine and preventive health recommendations
  • Request appointments, boarding reservations, and prescription refills
  • Receive important medical alerts and hospital news
  • Communicate with your pet’s doctor
  • Update your personal contact information

Petly includes other features, including a library of reliable information on a wide range of pet health topics.

How to Get Started With Petly

  1. Click this Petly link.
  2. Enter your email address (make sure it’s the same email address we have on file for you)
  3. Create a password.

Once you’re logged in, you have the option of receiving wellness reminders, appointment reminders, and confirming appointments by e-mail or text message.

We will also use your e-mail address to occasionally notify you about hospital updates and important, timely health news (such as information about pet food recalls or a disease outbreak in our area).

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.