Mike Fietz

Not only must you treat hot spots with ointment and medication, but you must keep your dog from licking and scratching at the skin. Courtesy photo

How to manage hot spots in dogs

It definitely wasn’t there yesterday. She looked completely normal before bedtime, and now there’s an oozing 3″ sore over her left hip and she won’t let anybody near it. Some dog owners are all too familiar with this story, but if it’s your first time seeing a hot spot, it can be alarming. They appear […]

Dogs who are prone to separation anxiety may benefit from an owner’s change of habit.

The woes of your pet’s separation anxiety

I knew I was in trouble within days of adopting him. If I made it all the way to the car before the barking and screaming began, I was lucky. I’d return from grocery shopping to find cracked blinds hanging lopsided above splintered windowsills, and puddles of drool creeping across the floor. My return home […]

The dog flu can leave vets and pet owners guessing as to whether a vaccination is necessary. File photo

The trouble with dog flu

It’s flu season for us humans, and the advice really couldn’t be more simple. Get your flu shot this year and every year. We are social animals who spend most of our day in relatively close physical proximity, and it’s very easy for us to get each other sick. Vaccination may provide an imperfect defense, […]

Witnessing a seizure is an alarming event for pet owners, but in some cases it’s a manageable condition.

How to live with animal epilepsy

The first time you see your pet in the middle of a seizure, it’s like time has stopped. You feel helpless, not knowing how long it will last or what will happen next. Seizures happen when electrical activity in the brain becomes disorganized, slipping free of the coordinated circuits that usually keep things running smoothly. […]

Trimming a dog’s nails can be a painless experience for both owner and animal with the right mindset and approach.

The necessary chore of clipping a pet’s nails

It starts innocently enough with some faint clicking as your dog trots across the kitchen tile. It can wait, you figure. She hates having her nails trimmed and another week won’t hurt. Until she climbs into your lap and eight dull knives dig deep into your thigh. Reluctantly, you admit to yourself that this is […]

Cat owners will argue the incomparable joy of snuggling with a purring pet.

The uncertain science of purring

Sharing my home with both a dog and a cat, I’d be hard-pressed to say which one I prefer to keep as company. They bring such different kinds of joy, and feel like two halves of a lovely whole. But my cat does have one clear advantage that no dog can match. She can purr. […]

Pet owners who cope with a diabetes diagnosis have a challenge that will eventually become part of routine care.

When dogs and cats have diabetes

I hate diagnosing diabetes. It’s a frustrating disease, made worse by the fear that washes across people’s faces when they hear the news. I see them hoping I won’t say anything about insulin injections, then watch them deflate when I finally do. Diabetes is a hormonal disorder that comes in a few varieties, but always results […]

Most ear infections are luckily caught early, and can be managed simply enough with a quick course of drops squirted in the ears, but that’s not always the end of the story. File photo

The many causes of animal ear problems

I’m sure we’d all agree that animal ears are absolutely adorable. Unlike our inert curls of skin that only seem weirder the more you think about them, cats and dogs have delightfully expressive ears. They perk up when we talk to them and flop all over the place, and are generally just fuzzy and fun […]

File photo

Choosing the right toys for your pet

Can’t anything be easy? There are a million toys on the shelf at the pet store, and you feel like you’ve been warned about every single one of them. This one has a squeaker, which you heard is a choking hazard. Your cousin’s dog got an intestinal blockage from rawhide, so that’s out. Pretty much […]

Training cats is easy when you speak their language and appeal to their motivations. Photo: File photo

Teaching cats to see it your way

I suppose there’s no good time for a cat to pee in your bed, but two in the morning is particularly objectionable. Wrested from sleep by the noxious mess saturating my sock, I resigned myself to a bleary-eyed bout of laundry and mattress cleaning. This wasn’t the first time, and I needed a better solution than […]

In the event that a pet loses his vision, there are many steps an owner can take to keep him familiar with his surroundings. Photo: File photo

When pets lose their vision

There’s something magical about eyes. Sleek and precise, they seem built of different stuff than the rest of our physical selves—something more deeply connected to the root of who we are. This may be true in more than the poetic sense. Embryologically, the eyes sprout directly from the same clump of cells that go on […]

Doggy sweaters have a practical use beyond keeping them on trend. Photo: File photo

Canine couture: When dog clothes make sense

Another year, another Internet controversy. Although it hasn’t reached the fever pitch of last year’s ambiguously colored dress, I understand that people are now very concerned about whether a dog’s pants should cover all four legs or just the hind two. There isn’t much sense to the question, of course. It’s hard to imagine any […]

Bombs bursting in air: Keeping your pets calm on the fourth

Bombs bursting in air: Keeping your pets calm on the fourth

There are few concepts more quintessentially American than gathering friends and family for a gluttonous grill-out followed by a gratuitously deafening show of explosions in the sky. While a simulated artillery strike makes for a perfectly sensible human celebration, our pets understandably tend to interpret the ruckus as the end of the world. Indeed, veterinarians […]

Taking a summer vacation? Leaving your pet in the hands of a professional caretaker will relieve their stress, and yours.

Out of town: When the pets can’t come along

With the weather finally turning its back on an all-too-frosty winter, it’s the time of year when thoughts turn to sunny beaches, cross-country road trips and foreign excursions. But even the happiest summer plans can be darkened by the problem of what to do with the pets while you’re away. As the owner of a […]

Changing lanes: Easing your transition to a new vet

Changing lanes: Easing your transition to a new vet

“He absolutely loved his old vet,” says the recent transplant to Charlottesville, making it abundantly clear that I’m about to step into some mighty large shoes. I understand the trepidation, of course. In many cases, I even share it. Your previous veterinarian is someone you built a relationship with. She knew your animals and their […]

Dog bath? Sure. Cat bath? Watch out.

Wet and wild: Less than one way to clean a cat

“How often should I bathe my cat?” I’m asked with surprising frequency. It’s a perfectly valid question, but anybody who’s ever bathed a cat will understand that it usually answers itself the moment you dare to try. I remember my first job at a veterinary hospital in high school. My inaugural assignment? Bathe this cat. […]