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Making moving managable

posted on May 01, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As I’m writing this blog, I find myself in the middle of packing up my house and moving to a new one with two dogs who are wondering what is going on.  Here are some tips to help make moving less stressful for your pets!

First off, have an overnight kit for your pet-this should contain food, litter, toys and grooming supplies to last through the first few days of unpacking.  Despite your best effort to label boxes, there is always a chance you won’t find your pet boxes for the first little bit and having this kit will make things less stressful.

As a second part to this, pack your pet’s stuff later in the process.  They will be stressed to see boxes and furniture moving and disappearing from their house.  Leaving their toys, bowls, and beds alone as long as possible will help them retain some semblance of normalcy.  On a similar note, your pet’s items should be some of the first items unloaded to help them feel more at home in the new place.

Keep your pets out of the action.  Prepare a quiet room away from the bulk of the moving noise.  You can also opt to board your pet for the day(s) so they are out of the way.  Pets also are at risk for getting loose with doors opening and closing and people coming and going, so having them secured in a room or crate will prevent this.

Update records as soon as possible. This includes getting your pets licensed in the new city if required, updating tags, microchip information, and potentially finding a new veterinarian.  Get your records from your vet before moving and make sure pets are up to date and all prescriptions are filled prior to the move so things don’t slip through the crack.

When traveling with pets, make sure to check laws-health certificates, specific titers, and/or vaccines may be required when crossing state lines, and international travel has even more regulations.  Some cities have ordinances on which pets or breeds are allowed, or how many pets are allowed at any residence.  Apartments and condos may also have rules on which pets are allowed.  Some places may even require permits for certain animals.

Also, when traveling with pets, be sure to check with the hotels if they allow pets/how many pets/sizes of pets allowed, etc.  Some hotels only have a few rooms that are pet friendly, so booking ahead may be required.  Other hotels require pets be kept in crates or otherwise confined.

Lastly, when letting pets outside for the first couple of times at the new place, they should be supervised.  Small spaces in fences if present can lead to escape attempts.  Learning the new boundaries with invisible fences can take a bit of time to figure out as well.  Since your pet may be confused where “home” is in a new place, if they do escape they may not find their own way home.

Hopefully with these tips and a little planning, your move will go smoothly and your pet will settle in without any issues.  Give us a call if you have further questions or concerns.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Time for Ticks

posted on April 02, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Despite the April’s Fools trick Mother Nature played on us, April usually means the start of tick season here in Minnesota.  We recommend a variety of monthly preventatives based on your pet’s lifestyle, as well as the Lyme vaccination. But what happens when one of those buggers still gets through our best defenses?

Every time your pet goes out in tall grasses or wooded areas, a thorough search for ticks should be done as soon as you get home. Feel through the coat, making sure to check near face and ears, neck, armpits, groin, and even between toes as well as everywhere else.  If the tick is not yet attached, removal is much easier and this prevents disease transmission.

If you find what you think are ticks, please ensure that it is a tick!  Ticks can be black, brown, tan, or gray and should have 8 legs.  Be sure you aren’t trying to remove a skin tag, nipple, or other growth; your dog won’t appreciate that! Ticks can be as small as the head of a pin, but when engorged can be up to the size of a dime or larger!

If you find a tick, you can try to remove it at home.  Gloves are recommended as ticks can carry disease.  A tweezers can be used to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible without actually grabbing the skin.  A straight, steady motion should be used.  Try to ensure the head and mouthparts came out with it.  If parts are left behind, they can cause an infection, although the body will try to push this out on it’s own given time.  Place the tick in rubbing alcohol to kill it, or stick it onto tape.  Ticks inject a substance to keep the blood flowing, just like mosquitos, so it is not uncommon to feel a bump after you remove the tick.

There are tick removal tools available as well.  Generally these have a slotted end where you push the tool flat against the skin and put the tick’s body in the slot and use it to gently pull the tick out.

We would be happy to remove the tick for you, or check the site if you are concerned with it’s appearance.  We can also discuss tick borne illnesses and their symptoms if the tick was attached and engorged.  Please give us a call if you have any questions or concerns!

Posted in: Canine Health

Everybody’s Irish?

posted on March 01, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As March arrives, this means St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner.  On this one day, “everyone is Irish”.  Is this true for dogs too?  Some dogs, such as the Irish Wolfhound and the Irish Setter, clearly have an Irish background.  Other dogs clearly don’t, such as the Belgian Malinois, Portuguese Water Dog, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, English Springer Spaniel or English Cocker Spaniel.  So where do the top 10 dogs in the United States (as noted by the AKC) come from?

  1.  Labrador Retriever:  The modern lab likely originated in Canada, in Newfoundland and Labrador.  They were transported back to England, and were used by fisherman to help swim ropes ashore.
  2. German Shepherd Dog:  As the name suggests, German Shepherds originate in Germany.  Originally GSDs were bred to herd sheep, but their intelligence and trainability have lead to other roles in military and police work as well as assistance type jobs.
  3. Golden Retriever:  The golden retriever can trace it’s roots back to Scotland.  They may have some ties to Russian herding dogs, but have mainly been bred to be gun dogs.  However, they too are easily trainable and have found jobs as assistance pets, drug and bomb sniffing dogs, and as search and rescue dogs.
  4. Bulldog:  Bulldogs originate in England.  They were used in bull baiting, until this practice was outlawed in 1835.  Now their popularity is almost exclusively as companions.
  5. Beagle:  Beagles also originate in England.  They were bred to hunt rabbits, and are considered scent hounds.  They are often used as tracking and detection dogs.
  6. French Bulldog:  Frenchies have both English and French roots-the modern breed is a mix of English bulldogs and French terriers.  Because they often have breathing issues, Frenchies are not usually used as working dogs, but instead enjoy the life of luxury being pets.
  7. Poodle:  Standard poodles have a bit of contested history, with most people believing they have French origins, but there are some that think they have German ancestry.  Wherever they originated from, poodles were originally used as duck hunting dogs.  Their intelligence and excellent sense of smell has led to other uses such as truffle retrieval, assistance dogs, acting/circus performers, and herding and tracking.  Miniature poodles are able to do many of these same tasks, but toy poodles have been bred to mainly be companions.
  8. Rottweiler: Rottweilers originate from Germany.  Their German name translates to “butcher’s dog”.  This is because these dogs were used as herding dogs and to pull carts of meat to the market.  Today Rottweilers are most commonly found as companion dogs.
  9. Yorkshire Terrier:  Yorkies originated in Yorkshire, England, to be used to hunt rats in textile mills.  They are most commonly found as companions nowadays.
  10. Boxer:  Boxers originated in Germany.  They were originally used in hunting, and have found uses as message carriers by the military.  They are mostly kept as companions, though some are used as assistance dogs or police dogs.

As you can see, there are a variety of origins for the most common dogs in the US, but I think we can all agree that for one day each year, everyone is, indeed, Irish.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Responsible Pet Ownership

posted on February 01, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

February is National Responsible Pet Owners Month.  Pets are a joy to own, but they are also a commitment.  Dogs and cats can live 10-20 years, and some pets such as birds can live even longer.  They depend upon us fully to care for them, but in return they give us unconditional love.

So what are some ways to be a responsible pet owner?

  •  Spay or neuter your pet.  Unfortunately in the U.S., there is an overpopulation of companion animals, with many dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, and other pets living in shelters and rescues.  Spaying and neutering helps prevent further overpopulation, and has some health benefits as well.
  • Get pets from reputable sources.  On a similar note, when looking to add to your family, consider rescues and shelters.  There are many pure bred rescues if you want a pure bred, and mixed breed animals often have the benefit of fewer health issues.
  • Go to the vet annually.  While your pet may not require yearly vaccinations, the physical examination is the most important part of your visit.  Pets are very good at hiding pain and problems, and going to the vet regularly may help catch issues earlier, when they are easier to prevent or treat.
  • Microchip or otherwise identify your pet.  Tags with phone numbers are important, and having a microchip with current information can help reunite with your pet should you get separated.  Make sure to keep microchip information current if you move or get a new phone number.
  • Go to training.  Training your dog helps strengthen your bond, and can help prevent or reduce behavior issues.  Things like agility can also give you both something active to do together.
  • Provide good nutrition.  Your pet needs a well balanced, nutritious diet to have a long, healthy life.  At the same time, don’t overfeed.  Obesity is a major issue affecting our pets and can cause multiple health issues.  Talk with your veterinarian about recommended foods and amounts.
  • Provide regular grooming.  Almost all dogs need their nails trimmed periodically, and most dogs need a bath every once in awhile.  Some pets require regular brushing to keeps tangles at bay, and some dogs need professional grooming to maintain a health coat and skin.
  • Hygiene is important as well.  Ears should be cleaned periodically.  Anal glands may need to be emptied on a regular basis.  Teeth should be brushed, ideally daily, with a pet tooth paste.  Regular veterinary dental care may be required as well.
  • Be prepared for emergencies.  Have a basic first aid kit handy; there are even some made specifically for pets.  Know that certain human medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve) are toxic to pets.  Have emergency veterinarian contact information handy.  Keep a file of copies of bloodwork and other important health information handy in case you need to see a veterinarian other than your regular vet.
  • Have pet insurance or a savings account for your pets’ health.  There are multiple options for pet health insurance that may be able to alleviate the cost burden and financial part of making decisions in an emergency.  Having a regular savings account for your pet’s yearly care, with a buffer for emergency situations is another way to handle this.
  • Provide mental and physical stimulation.  Exercise is important for our pets, helping control weight, as well as giving a release for pent up energy that could otherwise feed unwanted behavior.  Mental stimulation such as scent training, puzzle toys, and foraging for food/treats is also important for that same reason.
  • Travel safely.  Pets should be confined when in a vehicle for their own and your safety.  There are multiple seat belt and harnesses available, as well as carriers, confinement nets, or crates.
  • Pet proof your house.  Wires and cords make tempting play toys to puppies and kittens.  Plants may pose a toxic threat.  Yards may have unforeseen escape routes or dangers.  Imagine yourself at their level and educate yourself about potential toxins to keep out of their reach.
  • Clean up after your pets.  Dogs can spread disease to other pets and humans via their feces, so if they have a bowel movement in public, be sure to clean it up.  This is also just the nice, neighborly thing to do!
  • Teach children to respect animals.  Discuss with children how to ask before going up to strange animals.  Teach them to understand basic dog and cat body language cues, and teach them how to approach and pet animals appropriately.  Supervise children and pets when they are together.  Lead by example.

Overall, there are many things that play a role into being a responsible pet owner.  These are just a few examples of things that contribute to having a healthy, happy pet for many years!

Pain in our pets

posted on January 02, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Since pets aren’t able to speak, it can be difficult to determine if they are in pain.  Pets tend to be extremely stoic, and may eat despite rotting teeth, may walk despite broken bones, and may wag their tail despite having just had surgery.  So how do you tell if something is amiss?

Some pets will vocalize when in pain, whether a whine, whimper, howl, or growl.  However, not all pets will, so this is not always a good indicator.  Sometimes there are physical signs of pain that are visible-limping, trembling, dilated pupils (unless the eye is what is painful, then may see squinting, and dilated or constricted pupils), increased heart rate and increased respiratory rate, changes in gait, posture, tail and/or ear position, mobility, or even changes in the way they sit or lay (leg cocked out, prayer position, curled up or stretched out differently).  Overgrooming an area or barbering the hair can indicate pain, as can a complete lack of grooming.  Changes in eating, drinking, urination, defecation, and sleep habits may all indicate pain also.

More often, pets will have subtle changes in their personality.  They may act more anxious-whining, pacing, licking, panting, seeming unable to get comfortable/or unable to relax.  They may also be agitated, and may even become aggressive.  Some pets may become less social, actively hiding or avoiding interactions with other pets and/or humans.

Since many of these signs can be a bit subjective, it is always best to seek veterinary advice to determine if your pet is in pain and what may be the cause so appropriate treatment can be pursued.  Always finish all pain medications prescribed unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian.  Lastly, many human pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and even aspirin can be toxic to our pets, so please do not administer these to your pet.  Veterinarians have pet safe medications they can dispense when appropriate.  If you think your pet is painful, please call today!

The ABCs of Antibiotics

posted on December 01, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Chances are, you have heard of antibiotics.  And in this day and age, you may have heard of a phenomenon called antibiotic resistance.  Then there are things called prebiotics and probiotics.  What are all of these, and what are they used for?

Antibiotics are medications that work against bacteria/bacterial infections.  They work by killing bacteria or stopping the bacteria’s ability to reproduce.  They do not work against parasites, fungal infections, viral infections, or autoimmune diseases in most cases.  The type of antibiotic, the frequency and dose, and the length of treatment are all determined by the type and location of infection, the pet’s overall health, and any other medical conditions that may be present.

An important aspect of using antibiotics is to try to prevent antibiotic resistance.  Resistance is when a particular bacteria develops a way to not be killed off by a particular antibiotic.  It is important to finish the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed, because if you stop early, you may have only killed 90% of the bacteria present, and the remaining 10% may have been better able to resist the antibiotic.  This can lead to the same infection no longer responding to the same antibiotic in the future, which can mean we no longer have a way to treat a potentially life threatening disease.  Only stop your antibiotic early if instructed to do so by a doctor.

Prebiotics and probiotics are in essence the opposite of antibiotics.  They work to promote healthy bacteria in the body.  Prebiotics are nutrients used as fuel by bacteria and promote healthy bacteria colonies.  Probiotics are live bacteria to be introduced into the body, usually into the GI tract.  Pre and probiotics can be used daily as a preventative, or they may be recommended after a course of medication such as antibiotics or chemotherapy to help build up the normal bacteria again.

If you ever have questions about antibiotics being prescribed for your pet, or about pre or probiotics, please don’t hesitate to ask us.

Posted in: Uncategorized

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month!

posted on November 02, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Senior pets in shelters are the least likely to find homes, sometimes making them most likely to be euthanized in crowding situations.  Many people think that if an older pet is at the shelter, it means that they were problematic.  This is not the case however.  Many older pets belonged to households that had changes in them such as children, new jobs, moving, or an elderly person who is no longer able to care for them.  This month we take a look at why adopting a senior pet is such a great thing!

Adult dogs tend to have had some training.  Most have been through obedience classes, may already have been taught simple commands and tricks, and have had time to become socialized and acclimated to living with humans.  This often means most dogs are already house trained, meaning you don’t have to wake up every two hours all night like you would with a puppy!  It also means that these pets tend to be less destructive, and are less likely to chew your favorite pair of shoes.

That being said, you can teach an old dog new tricks.  In fact, older dogs tend to be more able to focus than young puppies, meaning they may actually pick up on new tricks easier.  They tend to be eager to please, and are grateful to be given a second chance.

You know what you are getting when you adopt an older pet.  There is no guessing what the hair color will be or how big the pet will get when they are already full grown.  It is possible to get pure bred senior pets as well-most breeds have their own specific rescue organizations if you are looking for a purebred pet.

Senior pets tend to be a little more relaxed than the energetic puppy or kitty.  They make good companions for elderly people or families that have a more sedentary lifestyle.  However, many still have plenty of spunk left to go for a walk or play ball!

Lastly, adopting a senior pet will fill your life with love and will make you a hero in your pets’ eyes.  They often seem to know that you gave them a second chance and spend the rest of their life showing you how thankful they are.  You can take pride in opening your house and heart for an otherwise less likely to find it’s forever home pet.  So the next time you are looking to add to your fur family, give those senior pets a second look!

Back to School

posted on September 01, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As September rolls around, many people are headed back to school.  In the veterinary field, most of us are no longer in school, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t go to a lot of school to get here, and that certainly doesn’t mean we are ever done learning!

Certified veterinary technicians hold either a two year associate or a four year bachelor’s degree from accredited programs.  They partake in an internship at a veterinary clinic as part of their degree program.  Once they graduate, they must take a national test called the NVTE (national veterinary technical examination) to become certified.  Here in Minnesota, technicians are required to also obtain 10 hours of continuing education every 2 years to remain certified.

Veterinarians face a bit more schooling.  Most veterinarians have a bachelor’s degree in a variety of fields including biology, chemistry, and animal science, but they may also have degrees in a variety of other majors including the arts, history, engineering, or business administration.  They must meet the prerequisite list of classes for the veterinary program they are applying to, which usually includes a number of years of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, statistics, and other classes.  Once they have completed the prerequisite courses, they must take a standardized test such as the GRE.  They can then apply to veterinary schools, which often look for volunteer or job shadow experience from animal related jobs, as well as letters of reference and recommendation from employers and professors.

Veterinary school is a 4-5 year program, with the last year usually being a clinical year.  During this clinical year, students take rotations at a working veterinary hospital in areas such as general practice, oncology, radiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, cardiology, surgery, and internal medicine.  They also spend time doing externships at practices outside of the school.  After all of this is completed, they graduate with a doctorate degree.  During this final year of rotations, they must take the national accreditation test, the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Examination).  Once this is passed, many states have their own accreditation test that must be passed.  Here in Minnesota, veterinarians must obtain 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years to keep practicing.

As you can see, there is a lot of schooling involved in the health and care of your pet.  If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a veterinarian or veterinary technician, please contact us to discuss the process more, or to see if we have any job shadowing or internship opportunities available!


Posted in: Uncategorized

Don’t even think outside the box!

posted on August 03, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

One of the main behavior complaints we see for cats is inappropriate elimination (urinating and/or defecating outside of the litter box).  We recommend an examination to make sure there is not a medical problem first.  Things such as arthritis can make it hard to get into the litter box, losing vision can cause pets to have a hard time going down stairs to get to the box, and cognitive issues can cause changes in behavior.  Urinary tract infections, urinary crystals, bladder stones, bladder polyps and tumors, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), anal gland issues, kidney disease, diabetes, other metabolic issues, neurologic issues, and gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, lymphoma, parasites, or bacterial imbalances can all also present as inappropriate elimination.  Often a thorough examination, urinalysis, stool analysis, anal gland expression, bloodwork, and/or radiographs may be recommended.  If these results rule out a medical cause for the issue, behavior is then addressed.

There are a number of things we recommend for litter box issues:

1)  Increase the number of litter boxes.  The rule of thumb is one plus the number of cats in the household, so for example, if you have 2 cats you should have a minimum of 3 litter boxes.  Make sure they are in different locations-two boxes right next to one another are considered one box with a divider to pets.  Make sure they are on all levels of the house and are readily available.

2)  Clean (scoop) litterboxes daily, and once  a week completely dump all litter and wash the box with soap and water.  Yearly litter boxes should be disposed of, and new replacements purchased.  Plastic tends to absorb odors that we may not smell, but pets can smell about 10,000 times better than we can.

3)  Pick up clothes, sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.  Make beds so no bedding is on the floor, pick up laundry and place in a covered hamper or a hamper that is in a closet, etc.  Do not leave towels on bathroom floor.

4)  Limit access to rooms where urination seems to be a problem.  Doors, baby gates, and crates can all be used to limit access.  Moving a litter box to that room is also an option, with the hope that slowly over time the box can be moved back to a more agreeable location for everyone.

5)  Try different products, there are a number of options available.  There are litters made from paper, wheat, or pine.  There are clumping vs. non clumping, or scented vs. unscented options.  The hope is to determine their preference, which can change over time.  We recommend that you only change one box at a time.  Other options include products such as cat attract, covered vs. uncovered litter boxes, larger boxes, or boxes with low entrances may also be helpful.

6)  Clean areas where the pet has urinated/defecated with an enzymatic cleaner to remove all remnants of smell (even if we can’t smell it they often can).  Black lights can show cat urine in a dark room if you are having trouble finding it.

7)  Assess litter box locations-make sure they aren’t next to the scary water heater that kicks on and makes noise, or that another pet in the house is not guarding the only entrance to the box.

8)  We have products meant to help with stress and behavioral issues such as feliway diffusers or behavioral medications.  We also have some urinary and GI tract diets that may help with the situation.

Hopefully we can help you get to the bottom of your cat’s bathroom behavior! Give us a call today.

Posted in: Feline Health

Fresh Faces (and a few familiar ones!)

posted on July 01, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

thumb-2Heritage Animal Hospital is proud to welcome our newest veterinarian, Dr. Kaley Alger.  Dr. Alger is a Minnesota native, having grown up in Rochester.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Animal Science.  She attended the University of Glasgow College of Veterinary Medicine in Glasgow, Scotland, and earned her veterinary degree in 2017.  Professional affiliations include AVMA, RCVS, MVMA, and BSAVA.  Her interests in veterinary medicine include surgery and ultrasound as a diagnostic tool.  When she is not here, she enjoys running, trying new food, and a variety of outdoor activities.  This summer she is also busy planning a wedding, and is looking forward to adopting a puppy in a few months’ time.

Dr. Alger has been with Heritage Animal Hospital for a number of years however, so you may recognize her.  She has worked as an animal care attendant, customer care representative, veterinary technician assistant, and veterinarian intern while she was attending school.


thumbDr. Silverstein is a familiar face.  He owns Heritage Animal Hospital, and has been here since it’s inception in 1991.  He is a 1988 graduate of the University of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine and also holds a B.A. in biology from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Professional affiliations include the AVMA, AAHA, AAFP, IAVPM, and MVMA. Dr. Silverstein has a special interest in technology and its applications to diagnosis and patient care. If you want to distract him, ask him about his family, his poodle Ruby, hockey, or his most recent ski trip.



thumb-1Dr. Hartman is another familiar face.  She has been at Heritage Animal Hospital since 2009.  She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She studied biology and chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for 3 years, and was awarded a B.S. in Veterinary Science from the University of Minnesota. Professional affiliations include AVMA, MVMA, VIN, AEMV, AFA, ASGV, and WVMA. Dr. Hartman is originally from Wisconsin, and after spending much of her life helping on her grandparent’s dairy farm, she decided she wanted to become a small animal veterinarian. Special interests include small mammal “exotics” or pocket pets such as ferrets (which she has owned for 10 years), rabbits, and rodents, dentistry, weight management to improve pet health, and using ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. When not at work, Dr. Hartman enjoys spending time with her English Springer Spaniels-Ace and Afton. She also enjoys reading, quilting, and a variety of arts and crafts.

unnamed 2Dr. Carter is Dr. Silverstein’s wife and together they formed Heritage Animal Hospital.  Dr. Carter was raised in Morris, IL on a working farm. In 1986 she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from North Central College in Naperville, IL. She earned her veterinary degree with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Her professional affiliations include AVMA, MVMA, AAEP, MAEP, and VIN.  Her hobbies include showing and breeding American Saddlebred horses, barn work, reading, and keeping up with Dr. Silverstein and the kids. She is both a small animal and an equine (horse) veterinarian who had her own equine practice.  She still helps out occasionally at Heritage Animal Hospital.


12624 Bass Lake Road
Maple Grove, MN 55369
Located just east of highway 494 on Bass Lake Road,
behind Culver's.

Communities We Serve:

Plymouth, Maple Grove, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Osseo, Corcoran, Greenfield, Champlin, New Hope, Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Rogers, Robbinsdale, Hamel and Golden Valley, Minnesota (MN).