Who loves Cats and Coloring?

Who loves cats and coloring? We do! Stop by to pick up this picture of two adorable cats ready for your artistic hand, and you could win a years supply of Cheristin Flea Prevention for your kitty! That’s a $195 value!

You can also click the following link to download and print the picture at home: Cheristin Coloring Contest!

Submit your entry by Wednesday, August 31st, for a chance to win!

Cheristin Coloring Contest1

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month!


As the weather gets warmer and summer approaches, most people in Florida know what to expect … more mosquitoes! Even though this is a year round problem for us, it gets infinitely worse as the months get steamier. Everyone finds them bothersome, but did you know that they also can carry deadly parasites that can threaten the life of your pets?

Mosquitoes can carry the microscopic larva of a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis, which can be transmitted to pets with just one bite from these pesky insects! The larva make their way into the bloodstream, settle down in the heart and lungs, and start growing. It takes about 6 months for the larva to mature, and grow into heartworms. Heartworms are roundworms that live inside the heart and lungs of dogs, cats, and many other species of animal. They can grow to over a foot long, live for 5-7 years, and dozens can live inside the heart and lungs of your dog!

While their favorite host is dogs, heartworms can also infect cats. Even indoor cats aren’t safe: it only takes one mosquito making it inside your home! While their infection rate is lower, cats can develop a condition called heartworm-associated respiratory disease (or HARD) that can result in sudden death! Even a single worm can have fatal consequences to cats.

The signs of heartworm disease are easy to miss as they resemble symptoms for many other types of disease, which can include coughing, lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, and and intolerance for exercise. Symptoms increase as the number of heartworms in an infected animal grows, but waiting for symptoms to develop means that irreversible damage may have already been done.

Treating heartworm disease is very difficult, expensive, and carries many risks. Heartworm positive dogs will need hospitalization for treatment, followed by strict confinement and leash walking once your dog returns home.  This is then followed by another round of treatment in the hospital.  As the worms die, they can get lodged in blood vessels and may cause dangerous blockages that could lead to collapse and even death.   

However, this disease is very easy to PREVENT.  Prevention is safe, simple, and very effective. There are many different options for heartworm preventatives which include both topical and oral, and many also protect against other internal parasites, such as hookworms or roundworms and external parasites like fleas and ticks!

Contact us today for more information at (727) 546-0005 to discuss which preventative is best suited for your pet to make sure your pet is protected year round!

K9 Influenza Update


Did you know that your dog can also get the flu? Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is a flu virus that your four-footed best friend can catch! Here’s what you need to know to keep your favorite pooch safe:

There are two different strains of K9 Flu – H3N8 and H3N2. The first one, H3N8, originated in horses and jumped to dogs, with the first recorded outbreak occurring right here in Pinellas County, Florida in 2004! The second one, H3N2, is a new strain that originated in Asia and was first seen in the US just last year in Chicago. Since then, H3N2 has been rapidly spreading across the country, and we expect to see cases in our area soon. The new strain has a higher risk of severe symptoms, and is more contagious – infected dogs can continue to spread the virus for up to 3-4 weeks, even after symptoms are gone.

Symptoms of the flu in dogs are very similar to the symptoms that you see in humans: sneezing, coughing, runny nose or eyes, loss of appetite, fever, and lethargy. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and in some cases can even be fatal. If your dog has been showing signs of these,  it’s very important to keep them away from other dogs and to call your vet immediately!

If your dog spends time at doggie daycare, likes to play at dog parks, attends pet-friendly events, or even plays in areas frequented by other dogs, they could be at risk for contracting K9 Flu. The virus is very contagious and spreads easily between dogs by direct contact, but also by dogs touching contaminated objects such as bowls, toys and even the hands and clothing of people. K9 Flu can survive on your skin and hands for 12 hours, your clothes for 24 hours and on surfaces for up to 2 days!

The only way to protect your dog is through vaccination. Pinellas Animal Hospital offers vaccines for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains of the flu virus. We strongly recommend that all dogs at risk are vaccinated for both strains for the best protection. Give us a call today at 727-546-0005 for more information, or to schedule an appointment to get your dog protected!

Looking for more information online? Check out www.doginfluenza.com/owners for more information on K9 Influenza!

March is Poison Prevention Month

IMG_3098Each year thousands of pets get sick, and many die, from accidental household poisonings. Many common plants, foods, human medications, household cleaners, and other products can be toxic to your pets. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, in 2013 the top most common toxicities for dogs were Chocolate, Xylitol (artificial sweetener), NSAIDs, other over the counter medications, rodenticides (rat/mouse poison), and raisins. For felines, the top five most common toxicities include lilies, household cleaners, flea and tick products meant for dogs and prescription and over the counter medications.

You can help keep your dog or cat safe by pet-proofing your home. Be sure to cover trash bins, or better yet, store them in a pantry or closet. Install baby locks on cabinets that house cleaning solutions. Store medications in a secure, elevated cabinet; avoid using Ziploc bags or weekly storage containers that are easy for pets to chew and always make sure to never leave them lying out – even for a second! Keep your purse, and its contents out of your pets reach. Many objects, like batteries, gum, and pennies are not only toxic, but can also cause intestinal blockages.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something that could be harmful, seek out immediate veterinary advice. You can call Pinellas Animal Hospital (727-546-0005), Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Petersburg after regular business hours (727-323-1311), or the 24 hours Pet Poison Helpline (1-855-289-0358). A consultation fee for calling the Pet Poison Helpline is required; more information is available on their website (http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com).

Before you call it is important to have the following information on hand:

  • Your pet’s current weight. If you have a bathroom scale, you can weigh yourself holding your pet on the scale and subtract your weight without the pet to get your pet’s weight.
  • Your pet’s medical history and any medications your pet is taking, including preventatives as some medications could react to the toxins your pet has ingested. It is also important to know if your pet has kidney or liver disease, is prone to seizures, or pancreatitis.
  • You will be asked not only the potential toxin, but also the quantity and the milligram dosage that your pet has ingested.

When you call, remain calm so you can effectively relay information. Try to recall the time your pet ingested the toxin and if it had any excessive salivation or vomiting after ingestion. Depending on what was consumed, it may be necessary to bring your pet to the veterinary hospital for further treatment.

It is our hope that you will never be faced with your pet ingesting a toxic substance, but sometimes accidents do happen. Never be afraid to call your veterinarian to discuss anything you may be concerned about.


7791- 52ND Street North
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
(727) 546-0005

November is Diabetes Month

Just like humans, our cats and dogs can develop diabetes. This is a serious, lifelong condition that fortunately, with careful monitoring and management, can be fairly well controlled for many years. Diabetes is a disease that causes your pet’s blood sugar to rise to unsafe levels that, if left untreated, can have severe, even life threatening consequences. The first signs people usually see in their pet are increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and lethargy.

Thankfully, diabetes is often relatively easy to diagnose by your veterinarian. Usually a small blood sample and a urine sample are collected. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian will determine an appropriate type, amount, and frequency of insulin injections to get your pet well regulated. This usually involves regular veterinary visits to check your pet’s blood sugar throughout the day until we find the best regimen for them. Once this is achieved, they will  need to have an exam every 6 months to have their blood sugar monitored in order to see if they need any changes to their insulin dosage. They can live a very long a comfortable life!

The idea of having to give your furry family member injections every day may be daunting at first, but our staff is very experienced with helping you through the process and many people find it surprisingly easy. If you would like to know more, our team would be more than happy to answer any of your questions on this, or any other topic.



In Honor of Pet Memorial Day…

When dealing with an aging or sick pet, the term “quality of life” is referenced frequently.  This term may be heard from friends, co-workers, or the family veterinarian.  Some clients may understand what the term means, and how to evaluate it, but for the majority this may need some clarification. The Quality of Life is compounded by the complex emotions we feel in regards to our pets.

What does Quality of Life really mean? The term is subjective and is highly dependent on the pet’s personality, disease process, and even the personal beliefs of the family.

Pets, like people, experience and react to changes in their bodies differently. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian the disease process at hand, signs to look for and what to expect. Symptoms that may affect the Quality of Life are pain, happiness, mobility, hydration, appetite, and hygiene.

  • Common signs of pain include: pacing, excessive panting, hiding in unique areas, not seeking interaction with family, growing, snarling, snapping, immobility, whining, not eating, and flinching when touched. Make sure to speak with your veterinarian about appropriate pain management to assure your pet is comfortable.
  • In human hospice, they have a saying: “Food and water are for the living”. This may help explain why some pets may present a lack of appetite or thirst when their body has begun shutting down. Some pets never lose their desire to eat and drink. While appetite may be a good indication of internal function (or dysfunction) of the pet, it is not the only consideration when determining quality of life.
  • Many pet owners feel terribly guilty over the natural annoyance they feel when their pet becomes incontinent. It is normal to feel this way. Keep in mind pets do not like to “soil their den” and as a result may experience anxiety which may be visible by increased panting or appearing uncomfortable. If left unkempt, incontinence can lead to bed sores and eventually systemic infection in severe cases. (Lap of Love, Veterinary Hospice http://www.lapoflove.com)
  • Mobility issues are a common difficulty that aging pets may experience such as a hard time getting up after laying down or trouble getting up onto their comfy bed or sofa. If this difficulty progresses to falling, pacing, the inability to stand or eliminate, and/or the pet starts showing signs of increasing anxiety. Your pet does not understand why they are not able to accomplish those simple tasks that they used to do and this may cause great anxiety for them. In such cases consult with your veterinarian and he or she may recommend a medication regimen to make them more comfortable.
  • Watch for signs that may indicate that your pet is not happy, does not enjoy being around their family, or enjoy their favorite toys, treats, or sunny spots. Look for things that they hate, like chasing that pesky squirrel that comes in the yard or the vacuum that is ever so scary. When they no longer appear to love the things they hate (ex. They loved barking at the UPS truck in the street because they hated it), this may be a sign that their Quality of Life is suffering. Look at your pets face when they are with you because sometimes pets will give you a look that lets you know they are suffering.

Your pet will have good days and bad days. How do we know when their Quality of Life is diminishing? Visual aids are always helpful to take in how your pet is doing over time. One recommendation is to get two mason jars, one labeled good day and one labeled bad day. At the end of every day deposit a penny into the corresponding jar depending on if you feel your pet had a good day or a bad day. Over time you’ll be able to evaluate if your pet has majority good days or not, and this may help you evaluate their quality of life.  Another visual is to create a photo album when your pet has been diagnosed with a disease (like renal failure, or congestive heart failure). Take a photograph every month starting with the month that they are diagnosed. You’ll be able to see changes over time and refer back when they were first diagnosed, and sometimes the subtle changes you take for granted day to day become much more apparent when you’re looking at the big picture.

It can be difficult if you have an aging or sick pet to determine their quality of life. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian, your close friends and family, and support groups if needed. Lap of Love offers a Pet Life and Loss Support group in the Tampa Bay area, for more information you can contact Lindsey or Cristina at 813-407-9441, or contact us here at Pinellas Animal Hospital 727-546-0005.


We’re Superstars!

To better serve you, Lindsay and Chelsy, veterinary technicians of Pinellas Animal Hospital will be creating a library of instructional ‘how to’ videos.  These videos will touch on many educational topics to help you better care for your pet.
Our first videos available are addressing ‘Emergency Preparedness’, which discusses what to pack to take care of your pet in the event of an evacuation and ‘Diabetes Home Monitoring’, a step by step guide on how to test your diabetic pet’s blood glucose level at home.
We hope you find these videos helpful and that they will be another useful tool in our effort to bring you the best possible practical and medical care available.

Keep your pets safe in the summer


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July is Pet Safety Month and with temperatures rising, we, the team of Pinellas Animal Hospital would like to talk to you about how to keep your pet safe in the summer heat, how pets stay cool, and how to spot signs of heat stroke in pets.

For us humans, it’s hot out and with the humidity in Florida it seems even hotter than it actually is. Most of us perspire, or sweat, when we spend any amount of time outdoors at this time of year, but do you know how our pets stay cool? Except for their noses and the pads of their feet, dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do to cool off. Dogs and cats pant, which circulates air through their bodies helping them cool off. Panting is not an efficient cooling system, and for dogs with short noses (like boxers, pugs, or Pekingese), or pets who are overweight, it’s even less effective. So what does this mean for our furry friends? It means that they feel the summer’s heat a lot more than we do, and it’s a lot harder for them to cool down once they get hot.

To help keep our pets safe in the summer months we can do a few things to help keep them cool.

    • Never, ever, leave your pet inside a car. Even in the shade with the windows down a car can quickly heat up to 120 degrees or more! This heat acts like an oven and can quickly become fatal for your pet. Even leaving your dog in the car with the air conditioner running is no guarantee that they’ll be safe. Air conditioners may not keep your car cool enough or they may fail. For your pet’s safety, keep them home when you’re out running errands and not in the car alone.
    • Make sure your pet has unlimited access to fresh, clean water. Dogs and cats need lots of water in the summer time to stay cool, so you may find that their bowls need filling more frequently than usual. You can also try adding a few ice chips to their water bowl for a cool treat.
    • Decrease the amount of time your pet spends outside alone. Even with no activity, your pet can quickly experience the effects of heat exhaustion. When they are outside, make sure they have access to shade. Trees or a tarp offer great shade, while still remaining open and allowing a breeze. Dog houses and sheds, while they do provide shade, are often stuffy and hotter than the surrounding outside temperature.
    • Walk your pet in the early morning or the late evening when it’s the coolest. If you’re walking when the sun is out, keep walks brief so your pet doesn’t overheat. You may want to consider sunscreen for you pets, as they are susceptible to sunburn as well. Try to limit the time a pet walks on hot pavement. The hot asphalt can burn a pet’s tender pads. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, it’s too hot for your pet.
    • Keep your pet’s coat regularly brushed. Not only will this keep them free of tangles and debris, but it also helps strip out excess, dead hair which holds in heat. If your pet tolerates it, you might also consider a cool bath once a week. Not only will this keep their coat and skin healthy, but the cool water will feel good during the summer’s heat.
    • Be aware of the signs of heat stroke, and if you notice any act immediately. Pet’s suffering from heat stroke will have excessive panting and drooling, lethargy, glazed eyes, they may be uncoordinated, they’ll have a fever, may vomit, possibly collapse and have deep red to purple tongue or gums. Heat stroke can be deadly and requires immediate veterinary attention!


June is pet preparedness month


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June is the official start of hurricane season, and as many of us Floridians know, hurricanes can be serious, sometimes requiring evacuation. Our pets are important members of our family, and unfortunately animals are also affected by disaster. If emergency strikes, our pets depend on us for their safety, and having a plan in place will increase the likelihood that our animals will survive this emergency situation.  Starting in the month of June and throughout hurricane season, we encourage everyone to have an emergency preparedness plan in place as well as an emergency kit for your pets.

Disaster Dog

Don’t let this be your pet …. follow these guidelines to safeguard your four legged friends against any upcoming emergencies that may happen.

If you need to evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind. Most pets don’t survive at home, or they can become lost and difficult to find when you return. If you are going to a public shelter or motel/hotel, or if you plan on boarding your pet in case of an emergency, make sure you call ahead of time to confirm they have room to accommodate your pets and are equipped to take pets in emergency situations. Always have a list on hand of emergency contacts, including your veterinarian, family members or friends who may be able to help care for your pets, as well as local shelters and rescue groups who may be able to provide information or emergency relief.

It is advisable to have an emergency kit available whether you are evacuating or staying home. This should include a minimum of three days of pet food, bottled water and medications along with food dishes, a manual can opener, a recent photo of your pet with current veterinary records. Information, including emergency contact numbers, your pet’s vaccines history, microchip and county license tags need to be up to date and fastened to your pet’s collar and/or carrier. You may also want to include a first aid kit and a pet’s favorite toy or blanket. Always secure your pet in a carrier or with a leash or harness so that if they panic they can’t escape. If you have a pocket pet or bird, bring any additional bedding material and make sure their cage can be securely latched. For cats, you will need a supply of trash bags and cat litter and remember to always allow them to have enough room to access a litter pan if they are confined to a cage.

There are many resources available if you are unsure how to approach things or want more information on how to be prepared for an emergency. You can contact Pinellas Animal Hospital directly at (727) 546-0005, visit www.ready.gov or go to the Humane Society’s website link (http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/programs/emergency-services/pet-preparedness-month.html)

May is Microchip Month

HomeAgain Microchip size comparison with a quarter.

Here is the size of a microchip

The American Humane Society estimates that over ten-million dogs or cats are lost or stolen every year. A microchip is a permanent pet ID. It is implanted quickly and painlessly, just like a vaccine, and lasts the lifetime of the pet. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. When registered, your pet’s microchip links the ID number to your name, phone numbers, emergency contacts and other vital information.

Each microchip is registered with the manufacturer to the original place of implant for tracking purposes and when we implant a pet with a microchip here at Pinellas Animal Hospital we will automatically update that registration with your current contact information. However, if you move, change your phone number, or if you have your pet microchipped elsewhere, such as a shelter, it is important to verify that this information is updated and correct in the manufacturer’s database. Without this vital information on file, the chances of your pet being reunited with you after getting lost is slim.

Make sure you take the time once a year to check your pet’s microchip information. For ease of access to this number put one identification tag on your pet’s collar and attach the other tag with the number on to your keychain, this will give you immediate access if you ever need it in an emergency.

Do you know your pet’s microchip number, but not which company the microchip is linked to? Use this handy website ( http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/) to find which manufacturer made your pet’s microchip. Don’t know if your pet is microchipped, can’t remember your microchip number, or are interested in getting your pet microchipped? Call us at Pinellas Animal Hospital (727-546-0005) to talk to one of our staff members who will be happy to help you with this information.