Boonsboro Veterinary Hospital

Hours of Operation

Monday: 7am – 5pm

Tuesday: 7am – 7pm

Wednesday: 7am – 5pm

Thursday: 7am – 7pm

Friday: 7am – 5pm

Saturday: 8am – 12pm

Healthy Pets

How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Comfortable in the Car

Don’t let your dog take the wheel — follow these 19-plus tips from car travel experts.

If you’re feeling lost when it comes to pet travel and pet travel products, you’re not alone. When I first started researching this story, I quickly realized there simply are not a lot of resources for pet parents looking to travel with their dogs. But fear not. We’ve put together this guide to help you.

The most official resource out there? The Center for Pet Safety. Founded in 2011, The Center for Pet Safety, or CPS, is a nonprofit that crash tests and certifies pet travel products. Lindsey Wolko, CPS founder and CEO, described her organization as a cross between Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

A pet owner herself, Lindsey founded the organization after her dog Maggie was injured in a car accident. Maggie’s harness failed her. Lindsey said that when she thinks of the incident, it calls her back to action and reminds her why she does this work.

“We’re not making any money in this effort,” she said. “We’re a poor little non- profit organization trying to do the right thing for pet owners. We have no agenda other than to help pet owners.”

Discover these tried and true tips from Lindsey and other car travel experts you can use next time you hit the road with your furry friend.

Just like a child, properly restrain your dog in the backseat with a crash test-approved car safety harness. (Photo by Gina Cioli/Lumina Media)

Just like a child, properly restrain your dog in the backseat with a crash test-approved car safety harness. (Photo by Gina Cioli/Lumina Media)

Car trip tips

  1. Lindsey suggested bringing your pet’s medications, ID, and medical records. A list of hospitals and vets in your destination city also could come in handy.
  2. Carry pictures of you with your pet. “That’s proof that can help identify proof of ownership. In the pet space, because they are considered property, the laws will read differently,” Lindsey said.
  3. Lindsey recommended stopping every two hours to give your pet water.
  4. Sergeant Mercedes Fortune, who works in the Public Affairs Bureau of the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department, suggested carrying the name and number of a contact that officers can reach in case you are unable to talk to the officer. Try filling out the In Case of Emergency (or ICE) contacts in your phone. Or list two contacts on your pet’s dog tag.
  5. Heather B. Loenser, D.V.M., and a veterinary advisor, professional and pub- lic affairs for the American Animal Hospital Association, said that AHAA has no formal statement on riding in cars with dogs. But as an emergency vet for a decade, she has seen a lot. Above all, restrain your dog. “Even if they are really nimble dogs, if you stop short and swerve, it can be easy for them to fall out,” Dr. Loenser said.
  6. Talk to your vet if you think your pet might need a sedative to make the trip. Dr. Loenser said that giving sedatives is a last resort. She suggested gradually putting your dog in a crate or harness and then taking little trips until she adjusts. Try going from your home to the grocery store. Start early.
  7. “For puppies, between 6 and 12 weeks is a great time to habituate them, to teach them how to be in the car,” Dr. Loenser said. “You’ve got this great window with really young dogs where you can teach them that the car is fun. That we don’t bark at people. That we sit in our seat.”
  8. Laws about dogs in cars vary by state. For example, in Hawaii, it’s illegal to ride with a dog in your lap. “You can always be ticketed whether your state has a law or not,” Lindsey said. “Drivers who have unrestrained pets in vehicles can be ticketed in any jurisdiction under the distracted driving laws.”
  9. “You never want to put a pet in the front seat,” Lindsey said. Not only does that distract the driver, but airbags might deploy with enough force to hurt or kill a dog.
  10. CPS advises against putting two dogs in one crate. The dogs could slam into each other and injure themselves.
  11. Lindsey also told us that it’s best to leave toys out of your pet’s reach. “Those things can become very dangerous,” she said. “They can cause a lot more damage than you can even think about.” The same goes for treats, food, and water.

Keep Your Dog Safe From These 10 Outdoor Dangers      

From heat and heartworms to barbecues and boredom,
your pups face many dangers in the great outdoors.
Here's how to keep them safe.

My goal in this article is to let you know of both obvious and hidden outdoor dangers and (hopefully) to prevent your dog from ever being a victim to something that is preventable.

I consulted with Dr. Tony Johnson, a veterinarian who’s one of the world’s top experts in emergency medicine and the chief medical officer for the Veterinary Information Network. Here are the top 10 outdoor dangers for dogs:

1. Heat

Far and away, heatstroke is enemy No. 1 in summertime! It’s deadly, expensive, and 100-percent avoidable if you take the right steps. Keep your dog indoors, and make sure he has shade and fresh, cool water if he goes outside. Dogs with snub noses (like Bulldogs and Pugs) do even worse in hot, humid weather, so keep it cool indoors. If your dog does overheat, douse him with water, blast the air conditioner, and get him to your vet straightaway!

2. Dog parks

On the surface, it’s hard to take issue with a dog park: It encourages dogs (and their owners) to go out and get some exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, all the while strengthening the human-animal bond.

But in my vet ER career, I’ve seen a massive number of injured dogs coming to the emergency room directly from a nearby dog park.

Not everyone has a well-trained and well-behaved dog, and you need to learn how to look out for the other guy and protect your dog from injury.


Here are a few simple rules to keep people and pets safe while still enjoying the dog park:

  • Get to know your dog’s playmates. If you know the temperaments and dispositions of the dogs your dog plays with, you are much more likely to come away unscathed.
  • Know the park’s layout. Are there any areas where dogs could interact and possibly fight? Are they out of your line of sight? If a fight happens, is there an easy exit?
  • Keep watch. This might be the most important rule of all. Watch what your dog is doing and whom they’re doing it with. Be ready to swoop in and break up a fight if you have to. If you have a small dog who’s romping with a bigger dog, stay alert. Similarly, if you see a dog owner who’s not paying attention, that could be a recipe for disaster. Don’t just toss your dog in the park and wander off — you’re there to protect him from danger.
  • Protect both yourself and your dog. If something happens, are you ready? A can of pepper spray, dousing with cold water, or using a big stick to pry a dog away from its victim can save a life. Be ready for things to go wrong, and be ready to act if they do.

3. Cars (inside them)

Your car can go from comfy to roasting in just minutes. Dogs can’t sweat to get rid of body heat. Instead, they pant to try and dissipate the extra heat. But if they’re locked in a car with no ventilation, they only make more heat by panting.

Just how long it takes for the car to heat up to a dangerous level depends on the weather and the size of the dog, but it’s safe to say that in just a few minutes you can go from new-car smell to hot car hell.

The first way to prevent this is to leave your pet at home. In all the cases I’ve ever treated (and I’ve seen too many cases of this) the situation was totally preventable.

If you do see a dog left in a hot car, first try and find the owner and see if he or she will get the dog out. Calling for help from the police is also a good idea. As with heatstroke, the faster the dog is cooled off and the sooner he gets medical attention, the better his chances for recovery.

4. Cars (outside them)

They say good fences make good neighbors, but a good fence does much more. It can keep your dog safe from roaming. Trauma from being hit by a car is a major cause of canine injury and death, and an open gate is an invitation to trouble. Make sure gates don’t blow open during a storm and that guests and workers don’t leave them open when coming and going.

5. Thunderstorms

To help your dog make it through summer thunderstorms, try the following. (For severe cases, you might need sedatives from your veterinarian.)

  • Bring your outside dog inside, or put him in your garage or basement during the storm (just make sure
    there’s nothing toxic like antifreeze within his reach).
  • Use music, toys, or TV to distract him, and keep him in the quietest part of your home during storms. Some dogs stay calm when they’re in a pet crate or in a dark and quiet room. Toys (like a Kong-type toy filled with peanut butter) can be a great way to keep his mind off the noise.
  • Get ID for your dog, such as a license, tag, or microchip, in case he gets scared and bolts out of the house. Dogs with identification have a greater chance of being reunited with their families.

6. Poison

Prevention is key for most poisons. Keep your own medications out of reach and in child-safe containers, and always pick up dropped pills quickly. Never give your own medications to your dog or give one pet’s medication to another.

Some warm-weather poison risks to your dog include:

  • Blue-green algae in ponds
  • Compost bins
  • Swimming pool or hot tub chemicals
  • Venomous animals like toads, snakes, or scorpions

Here are some tips for a dog-safe home:

  • Keep cleaning products and chemicals sealed and out of your dog’s reach.
  • Keep garbage pails covered and away from your dog.
  • Check under cabinets and behind the toilet for dropped pills.
  • Clean up spilled antifreeze right away — as little as a teaspoon can kill.
  • Keep your medications off of accessible places like the nightstand.

7. Food

One of the biggest warm-weather threats to your dog: food. Vomiting and diarrhea are common after eating “people food,” and they can also cause a more serious condition known as pancreatitis. Keep your dog confined during parties or outings, and tell your guests not to give any treats to your dog.

If vomiting or diarrhea happens, stop feeding, take up the food and water, and offer a little mixed fatfree cottage cheese and boiled white rice in a few hours. If the vomiting keeps up, your dog acts sick, or you see any blood in the diarrhea, it’s time for a trip to the vet.

8. Campfires

Dogs are permanent toddlers — always wondering things like, “Hey! What’s that smoky, burny thing over there?” And they can get into a whole heap of trouble before you know it — trouble that can lead to pain, injury, and big medical bills or even the loss of your home if a fire starts.

Here are a few fire safety tips to protect your pet and your home:

  • Extinguish open flame. Pets are always curious and will investigate appliances, candles, or fireplaces. Remember: Toddlers grow up, but dogs and cats never do!
  • Pet-proof your place. Walk around and look for trouble areas where pets could accidentally start a fire.
  • Secure puppies and kittens. Keep young pets confined when you’re away from home by using a crate or secure room.
  • Practice a fire escape with pets in mind. Keep leashes or a carrier ready in case you have to make a fast exit; right near the door is best.
  • Use a pet alert window sticker. In case of a house fire, put this on a front window or door to alert firefighters that pets are inside.
9. Heartworm disease
Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworm is a well-named disease: It’s a worm that lives in your dog’s heart. It sounds like sci-fi, but it’s 100-percent real and 100-percent deadly. Luckily, you can prevent heartworms by keeping your dog on a heartworm preventive year-round.

Don’t get out of the habit of giving heartworm preventive in winter, even in areas with a hard frost. I’ve seen many cases of dogs contracting heartworm in spring when their owners forgot to restart the preventive. Heartworm treatment is painful and expensive and doesn’t always work, so focus on prevention.

10. Boredom

Make time to play with your dog when the weather turns nicer, and let him accompany you on camping trips and other excursions. A bored dog has the potential to be destructive in your house, so beat the summertime blues by keeping your dog and yourself active and engaged.

Keep It Clean: Litter Box Cleaning Tips That Can’t Fail

A combination of habit, timing and the proper materials goes a long way toward a clean litter box.

Cleaning the litter box might be the one less-than-pleasant aspect of having a cat in your life, but you must keep that box as clean as possible in order to avoid inappropriate urination problems and bad odors filling your home. With that in mind, here are some easy ways to keep your kitty’s toilet as clean as possible.

Scoop the box at least once a day


Photo by Shutterstock

Regular daily maintenance not only prevents odors, but it makes your cat’s litter box experience as good as possible. after all, you wouldn’t want to do your business in a toilet filled with waste, so why would your cat? Scoop out solids and urine clumps daily or more often, if needed.

Dump the litter regularly

Every cat litter is different in how long it lasts before it needs to be replaced. The number of cats using the box is also a factor. Once you start smelling urine odors even after you clean out the box, that’s a sign that your litter needs to be replaced.

Wash out the litter box at least once a month

The perfect time to clean your litter box is when you have to dump the litter. the empty box can be rinsed out either in your yard or in a laundry sink or bathtub. Most kitchen sinks are too small for litter boxes, and it’s not a good idea to clean litter boxes in the area where you’re preparing food and washing dishes. Use a mild detergent and very hot water. The hotter the water is, the more odor-causing bacteria it will kill. Be careful about the detergent you use, though.

Some odors — like citrus — repel cats, and you don’t want to give your cats a reason not to use the box. I personally use lavender-scented castile soap, but dish detergent works well, too. Don’t use pine-based cleaners, ammonia or bleach; they’re toxic to cats, and ammonia can actually make urine odors worse.

Rinse the box thoroughly so you don’t leave detergent residue in the box. Air-drying the litter box is ideal, but if you only have one box, and your cat needs to use it, that could cause problems. If you can’t air dry, use paper towels to wipe away any water. Don’t forget to dry the outside and bottom of the box, too.

When you refill the litter box, begin by sprinkling a layer of baking soda on the bottom of the box, then adding litter. I recommend that the litter be about three inches deep for maximum long-term effectiveness because clumps won’t stick to the bottom of the box.

Replace the litter box at least once a year

Cat claws and litter scoops leave little scratches in the plastic surface of the box, which can trap bacteria and make odors worse. If your litter box smells even after you clean it, it’s time to buy a new one.

Use baking soda to prevent odor

Use baking soda to prevent odor When you refill or add litter to your cat’s box, sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on top. It’s not toxic to cats, and it helps keep odors at bay.

Other products that help control odor

Pet-specific air purifiers: CritterZone makes a cat “air naturalizer” that works by ionizing air particles like some high-end air purifiers. The company offers plug-in and battery-operated units. Visit for more information.

Odor-removing crystals: This odorless, eco-friendly product comes in sachets of volcanic zeolite formed into crystals. Hang the sachet near your litter box, and the odor will be gone. Available at most pet stores and online retailers.

Litter mats: Litter mats help prevent litter from going everywhere, plus they prevent urine and fecal odors from getting into your carpets or floors. Get the right size mat to go with your litter box.

Pet Insurance

 A popular option for our clients is pet health insurance.  It is relatively inexpensive when it comes to the potential high costs of an unexpected emergency or illness.  Boonsboro Veterinary Hospital does not receive any endorsements or rebates from any of these companies; we just want to be able to provide the best care for your pet without finances being a deciding factor in treatment options. Please visit or call any of these companies for more specific information and rates.

We have listed a sampling of pet insurance companies available.  To learn more, please visit their websites:

Website Builder