Just like humans, an animal's diet directly affects its overall health and well-being. Allowing a pet to overeat, or to consume the wrong foods, may lead to a wide variety of ailments including obesity, diabetes and arthritis.
Did You Know?
Over 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are obese or overweight.
Although we think of our pets as family members, they shouldn’t be allowed to eat like us. Maintaining a proper diet will help keep your pet at a healthy weight. Be sure not to overfeed, and that you are providing a diet tailored to your pet's breed, age, weight and medical history.
Common Foods To Avoid
Think twice about feeding your pet table scraps. Common foods such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic could be dangerous to an animal. Some non-food items like lily plants and antifreeze are also toxic to pets. Check with your veterinarian if your pet has ingested anything questionable.
Growing puppies and kittens need more nutrient-dense food than adults. Ask your veterinarian which food is right for this stage of life. Cats switch to an adult diet right after being spayed or neutered, no matter what the age, to decrease the likelihood of obesity and related conditions.
Selecting an adult dog or cat food that will keep your pet healthy and energetic starts with knowing your pet's lifestyle. Does your dog weigh just the right amount and go for long walks daily? Or is it a lap dog that loves nothing more than to snooze the day away? Talk to your veterinarian about these issues to help guide you in choosing the best food for your pet.
Your senior dog or cat may need fewer calories, less fat, and more fiber as he or she ages. Many older pets can continue eating the food they always have – just a little less to compensate for not being as active. Check with your veterinarian which food and amount is best for your pet.
Pet Wellness:Spaying & Neutering
Spaying or neutering can protect your pet from serious health and behavioral problems later in life. It also helps control the stray animal population.
Spaying or Neutering Reduces the Risk of...
Known as a pyometra, this is a potentially life-threatening condition which can be very expensive to treat. It is 100% preventable if your pet is spayed.
Mammary Tumors (Breast Cancer)
Over one-half of all mammary tumors are malignant and can spread to other areas of the body. Early spaying, prior to your pet beginning its heat cycles, significantly reduces the incidence of tumor formation.
This cancer, as well as prostatitis (an infection causing malignant or benign swelling of the prostate), can be greatly reduced with early neutering.
Unwanted behaviors such as dominance aggression, marking territory and wandering can be avoided with spaying or neutering.
There are more puppies and kittens in shelters than there are people willing to provide them with love and care. Sadly, many are euthanized. Spaying or neutering can help reduce the number of animals in need of homes.
Pet Wellness:Home Care
Make your pet's well-being a priority. See your veterinarian regularly and follow these tips to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Your veterinarian will give you a recommendation for a high quality and nutritious diet for your pet, and advise you on how much and how often to feed him or her. Diets may vary by species, breed and age.
Microchipping is a safe and permanent identification option to ensure your pet's return should he or she get lost. Ask us about the process and get your pet protected.
Always keep your dog on a leash in public, and your cat indoors to protect them from common hazards such as cars and other animals.
Frequent brushing keeps your pet's coat clean and reduces the occurrence of shedding, matting and hairballs. Depending on the breed, your pet may also need professional groomings.
Dental and Oral Health
Brush your pet's teeth regularly and check with your veterinarian about professional cleanings as well as dental treats and products available to help prevent bad breath, gingivitis, periodontitis and underlying disease. Although your pet's teeth may look healthy, significant disease could be hidden below the gum line.
Be sure to spend at least 15 minutes a day playing with your cat to keep him or her active and at a healthy weight. All dogs need routine exercise to stay fit, but the requirements vary by breed and age. Ask us what's best for your dog. Doggy daycares and boarding facilities are other ways to help to burn off some energy and socialize your pets.
Enroll your dog in training classes to improve his or her behavior with pets and people. Cats need minimal training. Be sure to provide them with a litter box beginning at four weeks of age.
Entertain your pet's natural instincts by using toys that encourage them to jump and run. Cats especially need to fulfill their instinct to hunt – provide interactive toys that mimic prey like a laser pointer or feathers on a wand. You can also hide treats in your pet's toys or around the house to decrease boredom while you're away.
Pet Wellness:Care for All Ages
Every animal is unique, and the start of each stage of life calls for different home and veterinary care. Check with your veterinarian to establish a proactive wellness plan to keep your pet happy and healthy throughout its life.
Puppies and kittens must receive a series of properly staged vaccines and physical exams. During these exams, your veterinarian may also recommend parasite preventatives or lab tests.
Adult pets will need to continue visiting the veterinarian annually for physical exams, recommended vaccines and routine testing.
Senior pets can develop similar problems seen in older people, including heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and arthritis. Your veterinarian may recommend biannual visits to ensure your pet's quality of life.
Females spayed before their first heat cycle will be less likely to get uterine infections, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Males neutered at any age will be less likely to get prostate disease. Spaying or neutering also helps prevent behavioral problems like marking and escaping. Talk to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet.
Pets require different types of food to support each life stage. Growing puppies and kittens need more nutrient-dense food than adults while adult dogs and cats need food that will keep them healthy and energetic. Your senior dog or cat may need fewer calories, less fat, and more fiber as he or she ages. Talk to your veterinarian to determine what's appropriate for your pet.
Adult dogs should stay active with daily walks and one-on-one training. Keep your adult cats fit by using toys that encourage them to run and jump, and be sure to give them at least 15 minutes of playtime a day.
Weight management of your senior dog or cat is extremely important to ensure they are at an ideal body weight and able to move around comfortably.
Behavioral issues are a major cause of pet abandonment. Begin training your puppy or kitten right away to prevent bad habits and establish good ones.
Start house training your puppy as soon as you get home. Keep your puppy supplied with plenty of chew toys so he or she gets used to gnawing on those and not your belongings.
All cats need a litter box, which should be in a quiet, accessible room. Place your kitten in the box after a meal or whenever it appears he or she needs to go. Be sure to scoop out solids daily and empty it out completely once a week. The number of boxes in your household should be the total of number of cats plus one.
Pet Wellness:More Resources & Links
The veterinary resources featured on this page provide useful information to pet owners on a variety of topics related to veterinary medicine and pet health care.
Animal Associations & Organizations
- The American Ferret Association (AFA): Find information about ferrets and ferret care including show listings and ferret-related events at this website.
- American Kennel Club
- Cat Fanciers’ Association
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
- The Humane Society of the United States: The Humane Society's website has a tremendous amount of information about pets, wildlife, research animals, and more. There are entertaining and educational videos, articles, and tips. You can also donate to the Society through their website.
- North Shore Animal League America
- House Rabbit Network (HRN): A local organization specializing in rabbit education and adoption in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut. Check out the many adorable bunnies waiting for a home!
- House Rabbit Society: A great site for information on pet rabbit care and adoptions.
- Petfinder: Search for animals that need homes across the country. From dogs and cats to gerbils and barnyard animals, you will find all types of adoptable animals here.
Pet Grief Support
Pet Health Articles
- Avian Winter Weather Tips
- An Introduction to Rabbit Care
- Recommended Procedures for Puppies and Dogs
- Recommended Vaccines for Kittens and Cats
- Recommended Procedures for Kittens and Cats
Pet Safety & Poison Control
- ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: The ASPCA has a 24-hour emergency hotline for any animal poison-related emergencies.
Veterinary Diets & Nutrition
- Harrison's Bird Foods: An excellent avian diet that we recommend and have available for purchase.
- Herp Nutrition: This is the site of Susan Donoghue, a veterinarian and nutritionist with a special interest in reptile nutrition. Learn more about keeping box turtles, reptiles, and amphibians as pets, including what their special nutritional needs are as well as other pet care considerations.
- Hill's Pet Nutrition
- Oxbow Animal Health: This company manufactures wonderful diets and treats for small mammals. We have select diets available for purchase.
- Royal Canin
Dawn Brooks, DVM — Chief of Staff
Dr. Dawn Brooks, our Chief of Staff, grew up locally in Westford, and graduated from Westford Academy in 1990. She went to Stonehill College in Easton, MA, to earn a B.S. in Biology, before going to Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. In 1998, she was accepted to the internship program at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital where she completed her professional training and developed an interest in working with small mammals, birds and reptiles.
Christy Cox, DVM
Dr. Christy Cox grew up in Colchester, CT and currently resides in Gardner, MA. She received an undergraduate degree from Boston University and then worked in nonprofit with Habtitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps before realizing her true passion was veterinary medicine. After a few years of building up experience and coursework she was thrilled to be accepted to the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. During her time at NC State she was able to complete externships in Grand Cayman, South Africa, Fort Lauderdale, and several places throughout North Carolina. Her special interests include surgery, backyard poultry, shelter medicine and wildlife medicine. She enjoys the variety of working with multiple species.
Dr. Cox shares her home with her husband, their dog, Quilan and two cats, Smokey and Madison. She loves to travel and in her spare time enjoys playing pool and practicing the fiddle.
Free New Puppy & Kitten Exams
Littleton Animal Hospital is now offering FREE new puppy and kitten exams. *
Call us at 978-486-3101 for more information or to schedule your appointment. We look forward to meeting you and your new companion!
* The exam, itself, is free but any vaccines or additional procedures completed during the exam will be charged for.
Board Your Pet with Us during the Holidays
Planning on going away for the upcoming holidays? We believe both you and your pet should enjoy a relaxing vacation!
Littleton Animal Hospital offers boarding for cats, reptiles and exotic pets so that you can leave your pet in total comfort while you are away. Learn more about our pet boarding services, including amenities and requirements, here.
Call us today at (978) 486-3101 to book your pet's vacation. Quick - spots are filling fast!
New Veterinary Laser & Blood Lead Testing Equipment
Companion Cold Therapy Laser and Magellan LeadCare II Blood Lead Testing Equipment Advances Our Services
We are thrilled to share that Littleton Animal Hospital now has the Companion Cold Therapy Laser, which will allow us to perform advanced laser therapy treatments for our canine and feline patients. Our veterinary technicians are also taking continuing education courses leading to certification in laser therapy.
We are excited to offer this service, which is very beneficial for many inflammatory conditions. Laser therapy helps treat pets with chronic conditions, acute conditions, post-surgical pain and even weight loss. Learn about our laser therapy services for dogs and cats.
Lyme Disease Update
Lyme disease is highly prevalent in our area. It is caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by the deer tick. We see many dogs with clinical signs of the disease and many more test positive for exposure to Lyme disease.
Littleton Animal Hospital's Dedicated Team
Tracy Marshall — Veterinary Technician
Tracy has been at Littleton Animal Hospital since 2002, starting as a receptionist. She transitioned to veterinary technician two years later. Mornings find Tracy working in surgery, and she is responsible for all hospital inventory.
At home, Tracy has two cats and a one-legged quaker parakeet. She attended North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) in Florida in January 2012 for continuing education in order to provide the best care for your pets.
Barbara Luce — Veterinary Technician
Barb, who has a long career as a veterinary technician, joined the Littleton Animal Hospital team in 2009. She is an experienced breeder of Labrador Retrievers and has lots of advice for new dog owners.
In her free time, Barb visits local nursing homes with her therapy dogs and takes them to regular obedience classes. She also competes her dogs in shows for titles in obedience, rally and the breed ring. Barb loves working with avian and exotic patients and has adopted a few birds and rabbits into her family. She also owns cats and goats!
Elisabeth Newbold — Client Care Specialist
Elisabeth is a client care specialist at Littleton Animal Hospital, joining our team in 2013. She has worked in the veterinary field for a number of years. Elisabeth continues her educational studies, while serving our clients and their pets in multiple capacities. She has a passion for animals and their humans, too!
Elisabeth shares her life with seven chickens, a rooster, two dogs, and a special-needs cat. To relax, she spends time hiking, camping and backpacking with her family. Her other interests include gardening, running, reading, and a good movie.
Rabbit Care Guide
Rabbits make excellent pets. They are available in quite a number of variations, including short fuzzy hair, like the Rex, long-haired, like the Jersey Wooly, dwarf lops which are small, and rather large breeds such as Artic Hares.
- Rabbits are very curious critters. They are also very ardent chewers. In general, it is best to keep your rabbit caged when not supervised.
- Provide a roomy cage, six times the size of the adult rabbit.
- The door must be large enough for the litter box, and toys should be provided in the cage.
- Wire cages are readily available and work well by allowing the feces and urine to fall through the cage. However, it will still be necessary to keep the cage and the bedding clean.
- Rabbits that are allowed to come in contact with their urine for long periods of time can suffer urine burns (sores) on their hocks. Place a resting board covering a part of the cage floor for the rabbit's comfort.
- When lining your rabbit's cage, kiln-dried pine shavings or paper shavings are preferred. Cedar, pine or chlorophyll shavings should not be used.
The pleasures of being outdoors include fresh air, sunshine, and freedom to run, chew and dig. But for a rabbit, being outside can also be dangerous, most importantly from predator attack. Such attacks primarily occur at night, but can also happen in the daytime.
Hutches and cages do not provide enough protection to make it safe to leave a rabbit outdoors 24 hours a day. Even if the predator is not able to get into the cage, the rabbit may panic, injure herself, or die from shock or heart attack. Raccoons can open hutches. Coyotes, owls, hawks, possums, cats and dogs are also threats. For safe daytime exercise, we suggest a pen within your fenced yard, one with a top, bottom and sides. We strongly urge you to bring your rabbit in at night.
Proper handling of your rabbit is essential. Always support the hind end of your rabbit when you pick it up. Never pick up a rabbit by its legs or ears. Rabbits will frequently injure their backs when picked up without supporting the hind end.
Handle your rabbit often when it's young, to increase its acceptance of affection when it's older. Pet him on the broad area on top of his nose to help him get use to you. Never let him jump from heights.