All posts by cvp

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Signs of Pet Dental Disease

What are the signs of dental disease? As all pet owners know, our pet’s health is very important. What most pet owners don’t know is that dental health can greatly affect a pet’s overall health. Periodontal disease can result in gingivitis, missing or loose teeth and oral pain. Furthermore, the bacteria that contributes to dental disease can circulate in the bloodstream and cause microscopic damage to the heart, liver and kidneys, according to the Veterinary Oral Health Council® (VOHC).

Some common signs of dental disease are:
• Bad breath
• Broken/missing teeth
• Discolored teeth or tartar build up
• Abnormal chewing
• Excessive drooling
• Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
• Tenderness or bleeding around the mouth
• Shying away from the mouth being touched

Your pet’s teeth should be looked at by your veterinarian at least once a year. The most effective way you can help with your pet’s oral health at home is brushing his/her teeth. The brushing action, whether applied with a tooth brush or a soft medical gauze, disrupts the bacterial biofilm that leads to gum disease and tooth decay.

You can purchase pet tooth brushes and pet tooth pastes (do not use tooth paste meant for humans) at your local pet store or your veterinarian. Dental treats approved by the VOHC® can also be helpful for pets in good body weight. You can find a list of approved treats here:

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s oral health, or you would like tips on how to brush your pet’s teeth, call us at (610) 494-5800.

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Spring Pet Poisons

Gardening season is here! Plant bulbs are just as excited to break through the ground to add some color to our yards as we are to see some greenery! That said, we need to be aware of the potential dangers spring plants can be for our pets. Here is a list of some of the most common spring plants and their toxicities… so you know how to pet-proof your garden and keep your pet safe!

Tulips and Hyacinth

Tulips contain allergenic lactones while hyacinths contain similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), so make sure your dog isn’t digging up the bulbs in the garden. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhea, depending on the amount consumed. There’s no specific antidote, but with supportive care from the veterinarian (including rinsing the mouth, anti-vomiting medication, and possibly subcutaneous fluids), animals do quite well. With large ingestions of the bulb, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and changes in respiration can be seen, and should be treated by a veterinarian. These more severe signs are seen in cattle or our overzealous, chowhound Labradors.


These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (something that triggers vomiting). Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression. Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Daffodil ingestions can result in more severe symptoms so if an exposure is witnessed or symptoms are seen, we recommend seeking veterinary care.


There are dangerous and benign lilies out there, and it’s important to know the difference. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that cause minor signs, such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus – this results in minor drooling. The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) can result in severe kidney failure. If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently we can treat the poisoning. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis.


There are two Crocus plants: one that blooms in the spring (Crocus species) and the other in the autumn (Colchicum autumnale). The spring plants are more common and are part of the Iridaceae family. These ingestions can cause general gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea. These should not be mistaken for Autumn Crocus, part of the Liliaceae family, which contain colchicine. The Autumn Crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure. If you’re not sure what plant it is, bring your pet to their veterinarian immediately for care. Signs may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days.

Lily of the Valley

The Convallaria majalis plant contains cardiac glycosides which will cause symptoms similar to digitalis (foxglove) ingestion. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and possibly seizures. Pets with any known exposure to this plant should be examined and evaluated by a veterinarian and treated symptomatically.

In addition…Fertilizers

As we gardeners work on our rose garden, be aware of those fertilizers. While most are not very toxic (resulting in minor gastrointestinal irritation when consumed), some fertilizers can be fatal without treatment. Here are a few ingredients to be aware of so you know what toxins and symptoms to watch out for.

  • Blood meal – This is dried, ground, and flash-frozen blood and contains 12% nitrogen. While it’s a great organic fertilizer, if ingested, it can cause vomiting (of some other poor animal’s blood) and diarrhea. More importantly, it can result in severe pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Some types of blood meal are also fortified with iron, resulting in iron toxicity, so make sure to know what’s in your bag of blood!
  • Bone Meal – This is made up of defatted, dried, and flash-frozen animal bones that are ground to a powder. This “bone” is also what makes it so palatable to your dog, so make sure to keep your pet from digging in it and ingesting the soil. While this also makes a great organic fertilizer, it can become a problem when consumed as the bone meal forms a large cement-like bone ball in the stomach – which can cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract – resulting in possible surgery to remove it!
  • Rose and plant fertilizers – Some of these fertilizers contain disulfoton or other types of organophosphates (OP). As little as 1 teaspoon of 1% disulfoton can kill a 55 lb dog, so be careful! Organophosphates, while less commonly used, can result in severe symptoms [including SLUD signs (which abbreviate for salivation, lacrimation, urination, and defecation), seizures, difficulty breathing, hyperthermia, etc. In some cases, it can be fatal!
  • Pesticides/Insecticides – Most pesticides or insecticides (typically those that come in a spray can) are basic irritants to the pet and are usually not a huge concern unless a pet’s symptoms become persistent. Some may contain an organophosphate which can be life threatening when consumed in large quantities. It is always best to speak to a trained medical professional if there are any questions.
  • Iron – This is commonly added to fertilizers, and can result in iron toxicity (from ingestion of elemental iron). This is different from “total” iron ingestion, and can be confusing to differentiate. When in doubt, have a medical professional at Pet Poison Helpline assist you with finding out if the amount ingested was toxic or not. Large ingestions can result in vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and potential cardiac and liver effects.

The best thing any pet owner can do is to be educated on the household toxins (both inside the house and out in the garden!) – that way you make sure how to pet proof your house appropriately. Make sure to keep all these products in labeled, tightly-sealed containers out of your pet’s reach. When in doubt, please feel free to call Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns if you’re worried that your pet could have inadvertently gotten into anything!

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Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Halloween Safety Tips

If you decide to dress your pet up for Halloween, your safest choice is a loose fitting bandana. Pets can get tangled in parts of a costume and may chew fabric, which can lead to foreign body.

Dogs and cats can become skittish with scary costumes and doorbell ringing. It is best to keep all pets in another quiet part of the house during Halloween.

Be cautious where you leave Halloween goodies. Candy and chocolate can be very toxic to pets. Artificial sweetners, such as Xyitol, can pose a serious threat.

Pick up all wrappers and lollipop sticks as they can become a potential danger to pets if ingested.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Halloween Costume Contest

Calling All Halloween Lovers!
Send us a photo of your pet in a costume and you could win a $50 gift card to our hospital!

To enter:
Like our Facebook page and send us a direct message on Facebook with your pet’s photo by Sunday, October 23rd.

On Monday the 24th we will post all of the photos in an album and then voting will begin! Vote for your favorite photo(s) by “liking” them or using your favorite reaction. The photo with the most “likes”/”reactions” will be our winner and will be announced on October 31st!

We encourage you to share your picture, or the album, with your friends and family to increase your chances of winning.

Good luck and may the best costume win!

*One photo per pet. If you have won a contest more than once, we ask that you please split the prize with the 2nd place winner. To keep this lighthearted and fun, pictures shared to “like for like” groups or those similar, or others deemed unfair or inappropriate, will be disqualified.

2015 Halloween Contest Winner – Frazier and Riley

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Quick Cat Facts

Cats not using the litter pan could be a sign of illness. If your cat is not using his or her litter pan, you should contact  your veterinarian for an exam. This can rule out any Urinary Tract Infection or Kidney Disease.

Sometimes cats can be too curious for their own good. Be watchful as to what Kitty is curious about.

Yarn, string, rubber bands, and shoelaces can cause serious harm if ingested. Smaller items such as buttons and paper clips can be a choking hazard.

Cats are also attracted to bags. Plastic bags can cause problems. If ingested they could be at a risk for strangulation. Please be very cautious as to what your kitty is interested in.

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Found Dog!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet BlogAston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog

Please help us find this dog’s owner!!

A female pit bull mix was found in the Brookhaven area on Creek Road next to the swim club. She does not appear to be spayed and looks to have had a litter of puppies. She is approximately 45 pounds and she is light brown with no microchip. She’s very friendly. If you have any information or know who her owner might be, please contact Shana at 610-848-8530.

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: National Dog Biscuit Day

National Dog Biscuit Day is Tuesday, February 23, so celebrate your best friend with a special treat!  Biscuits are a good way to reward and train your pet, but in moderation.  Be sure to check calorie content of their treats and incorporate them into your pet’s dietary needs.  Break the biscuit into multiple pieces because even a small piece of a biscuit serves as a reward to your pet.  You may also consider low calorie options like frozen green beans.

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Winter Safety

As winter approaches, it is important to remember some of the dangers that colder weather presents to our pets. Pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite when they are not adequately sheltered from the cold and should be kept indoors in colder temperatures.

Outdoor cats often seek shelter under the hood of cars and can be severely injured by fan belts and other engine parts, so please bang on the hood to scare them out before starting your car. Antifreeze can have a sweet taste, leading to potentially deadly ingestion by pets. Please keep all antifreeze out of the reach of your pets and dilute and cover any spills right away. Salt used to melt ice can be irritating to the paws and harmful if ingested, so wipe your pet’s paws clean after any exposure to salt, antifreeze or other chemicals.

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: Black Cat Appreciation Day

National Black Cat Appreciation Day was yesterday, August 17. Did you know that black animals are less likely to be adopted than their light-colored shelter mates? Black cats are often overlooked by potential adopters because of old myths and superstitions that they are bad luck. Please remember that these beliefs are not true! A black cat could be the perfect addition to your family.

The lower adoptability of black pets is known as Black Dog Syndrome. In addition to superstitious beliefs of black cats, black pets are also less likely to be adopted because of size, unclear facial features, the “genericness” of black pets, and more. Fight the stigma and adopt a black cat (or dog) today!

Aston Veterinary Hospital : Pet Blog: We’re Always Learning

The doctors and technicians at Aston Veterinary Hospital are committed to lifetime learning. This allows them to continually enhance their knowledge and skills and learn the most up-to-date information about various topics to better help your pets.

Several staff members have recently attended continuing education conferences. Dr. Becker returned from the AAHA Conference in Tampa, Florida, where she attended lectures about emergency and critical care medicine. Dr. Hiller went to the Penn Annual Conference in Philadelphia and attended lectures about dermatology and endocrinology. Two of our technicians, Liza and Mary Anne, also attended the Penn Conference and listened to lectures about ophthalmology and blocked cats.

As the year goes on, our staff will continue to attend different conferences. Our primary goal is to provide your pets the best veterinary care. Test our knowledge and ask us some questions.

AAHA Tampa Conference 2015

penn vet