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From Dr. Kathi Gruss

From Dr. Kathi Gruss
April 25, 2022


As I prepare to retire after 40 years at the Earlysville Animal Hospital I want to pass on my 10 favorite recommendations to make life with your pet the best it can be.

  • Choose the right pet
  • Train your dog
  • Train your cat
  • Exercise your pet every day
  • Feed your pet for health
  • Don’t let your pet get overweight
  • Keep the litter pan meticulously clean
  • Use preventatives every month for fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease
  • Groom your pet often
  • Never chase your pet 
  • Make giving medication as easy as possible

Choose the right pet:

We can help with this! Not every pet is right for every family. Activity level, size, potential health, and behavioral issues, and grooming needs are some of the important things to consider. 

I almost never recommend getting two puppies at the same time. Instead, it is better to let the first puppy learn some basics prior to adopting the second puppy. 

However, there are great reasons to adopt two kittens from the same litter.

Train your dog:

Every dog benefits from good, positive training when they join your home and we have excellent recommendations. Going to class makes you set aside time to work with your dog without distractions and gives you an incentive to practice daily. Plus, every dog is different and a professional dog trainer can help you figure out what works best for your dog. 

Not only is crate training a great help for housetraining, it makes the animal hospital a less scary place when the dog knows a cage is a comfortable and safe place. 

All dogs should know how to eliminate on a leash. That is such a blessing when they stay with us at the animal hospital or at the kennel. 

Train your cat:

Really! All cats can learn basic skills like coming and sitting and many enjoy cat agility! But it is really important to teach your cat about appropriate scratching, cat carriers, grooming, and nail trimming at an early age. Always use high-value treats, positive attention, and gentle handling. Here is great information about grooming and nail trimming and helping your cat adapt to their carrier. It would be fabulous if we never had to sedate your cat to clip mats and trim nails. 

Daily exercise is important:

Most dogs don't exercise enough on their own so it is important to take them for a daily walk. This is a great time to practice good leash manners and lets you observe their eliminations. All pets enjoy daily playtime as well.

Feed your pet for health:

Please bring a list of all your pet’s foods with you to their routine check-up appointments so we can make recommendations. There are tons of brands and lots of marketing nonsense and we can help you choose the right diet for your pet and calculate the right amount to feed.

Don’t let your pet get overweight:

Overweight pets can develop a host of problems including diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory disease, and respiratory disease. It is much easier to prevent obesity than it is to get the extra weight off and we can help with both! We can calculate your pet’s calorie requirements and make food recommendations during their routine check-ups.

Keep the litter pan meticulously clean:

Cats don’t really ask for much but this is universal. No one wants to use a dirty bathroom.

Use preventatives for heartworm and fleas and ticks every month:

Preventatives really do save lives. Heartworm disease is easy to prevent and miserable to treat. One of the worst parts of treatment is the six months of restricted activity. Fleas and ticks carry serious diseases including Lyme and Ehrlichia which are very common in Virginia. We have flavored chews and topical medications to make things as easy as possible to give. 

Groom your pet often:

Your pet will be healthier and happier with a clean and knot-free coat. Brushing your pet daily starting when they are a puppy or kitten is a great way to get this into your routine. 

Never chase your pet:

Chasing never helps! If your cat doesn’t want to get in the carrier, your dog doesn’t want playtime to end, or it is time to take a bath or get medication, chasing isn’t the answer. High-value treats, a positive attitude, training, and making things as much fun as possible are better solutions. 

Make giving medications as fun as possible:

Many medications can be given in tasty food like cheese spread, peanut butter, or pill pockets and compounding pharmacies can make some medications into transdermals (applied to the inner ear flap), chews, or flavored liquids. If none of those are possible, be sure to include special treats before and after the medication and always keep the pet’s comfort in mind. 


Many thanks to all my clients who entrusted me with the care of their pets for all these years. It has truly been my pleasure to get to know all of you and help your pets. 

Please be assured that your family pets will always be in good hands at Earlysville Animal Hospital with our hospital manager, Kelley, the fabulous six doctors (all chosen by me over the past several years), and our staff. 

From, Dr. Kathi Gruss