Posted in General Pets News Veterinary Medicine on Apr 09, 2021 | no responses.

The BMAH Pet Pain Clinic offers non-invasive Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT, or shockwave) for pets with certain conditions. Shockwave is a non-invasive treatment that uses pressure waves to treat various areas that are painful and stimulate a natural healing response.

Shockwave treatment is helpful for many conditions including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Bone Fractures
  • Scar Tissue
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Tendonitis and Ligament injuries
  • Chronic or non-healing wounds.
  • Myofascial trigger points
  • Areas of chronic muscular pain or strains
  • Chronic back pain

Many people are familiar with other more high-powered shockwave treatments that include breaking up kidney stones. Our unit is a PiezoWave unit is less energy than this traditional units, and this enables us to deliver focused shockwave energy to your pet. Our machine is also much quieter and less painful than traditional shockwave treatments of the past. In fact, our animals don’t even require sedation for their treatments!

BMAH Chloe Shockwave Treatment March 2021

Shockwave is thought to work by creating small microtraumas to the tissues being treated, and this encourages the body to heal itself by encouraging new blood supply, thereby increasing blood supply to the area; this brings new nutrients and helps take waste products away from the area. This also stimulates the body to repair itself and can also blocks some of the pain pathways.

Shockwave treatment takes between 5-10 minutes depending on how many areas are being treated. We use a water-soluble gel to enable us to conduct the shockwaves through the fur.

Specific Technique

Shock wave therapy is an outpatient procedure. A probe is placed on the skin after a gel is applied to help conduct the shock waves. High- or low-energy waves may be used. High-energy waves may cause pain and require a local or regional anesthetic. Low-energy shock wave therapy often is performed without anesthesia. Therapy is more successful with active patient participation where the patient tells the therapist whether or not the probe is at the area of pain. One or more treatment sessions may be needed.

Dr. Kim Somjen, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Kim Somjen DVM Fear Free Professional
Posted in Exotics Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Mar 15, 2021 | no responses.

Continuing with our series about guinea pig care, perhaps now you are a proud owner of one or more of these little cavies.  Here are some things you should know about maintaining your guinea pig’s health and well-being:

Always seek veterinary care if you suspect your pigs are ill.  If your guinea pig is losing weight for no known reason, do not delay contacting your veterinarian, as they hide their illnesses sometimes until it’s far too late to cure.

Guinea Pig Trio

Other common signs of disease besides weight loss are lethargy, sneezing, coughing, diarrhea, hair loss and itching.

Regular dental exams are extremely important.  Guinea pigs are born with one set of teeth that consist of front incisors and back molars.  They have no middle teeth.  It’s very common that they are brought to a veterinarian appointment starving because their back molars are overgrown and have strangled their tongue.  Their molar points also could be hurting or lacerating their tongue.  They can no longer eat comfortably in this condition.  In most cases, the owner is not even aware that this is happening and that their pet is suffering.

Also, guinea pigs can develop a condition known as “bumble foot” (ulcerative pododermatitis) which present as open sores on the bottom of their hocks. This is a bacterial infection and inflammatory reaction that can occur especially if they are inactive or become overweight and spend too much time in wire and mesh cages.  A veterinary call is in order if this condition develops, as antibiotics may be necessary to clear the infection. To avoid this condition, it is important to keep the cage clean to combat bacterial buildup. This can be achieved by adding a layer of cardboard or old clothing on the cage floor and changing this layer a few times a week.

Guinea Pig Face

Another condition to watch out for with your pet guinea pig is overgrown toenails. This can be quite painful if the nails grow into their pads. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to safely clip their nails, or bring your pet into the hospital so that one of the technicians can trim their nails on a regular basis.

Lice and mites can appear suddenly as balding, scabbing, itchy lesions on guinea pigs. It’s important to note that lice and mites are not contagious to people and are easily treatable.  However, this causes a lot of discomfort for your pet, and your guinea pig should be examined and treated by a veterinarian.  Mite infestations are usually more severe than lice. A vet can diagnose a mite infestation by performing skin scrapings of affected areas and viewing them under the microscope. Lice infestation can be detected in a similar manner by inspecting the hair.  A treatment plan will be determined by your veterinarian.

Guinea pigs don’t need vaccinations like dogs, cats and people, but they do need to go to the veterinarian once or twice a year to check their weight, heart, and back molars.

Guinea Pig

If you are unable to regularly provide vitamin C through fruits and vegetables, then you may need to supplement vitamin C by adding it to their water.  However, get your cavy used to it by adding tiny amounts of vitamin C to their water slowly over a few days. Some cavies might not drink vitamin C readily in their water unless you introduce it slowly.  Vitamin C in pellets and commercial foods don’t last long and they may not provide enough of the daily nutrient.  Vitamin C is easily destroyed by air, light and heat

We don’t advise using a multi-vitamin but rather a vitamin C supplement that can be administered with water with the recommended dose of 50 mg Vitamin C to 8 oz. drinking water daily.

Visit our Learning Center to source more information about Guinea pig care.  Also feel free to call our office with questions and to schedule a wellness exam for pet.

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Feb 10, 2021 | no responses.

Heart disease is the silent killer of cats. One in six cats can be born with and develop heart disease in their lifetime. There are no outward symptoms, but now there is a blood test called a proBNP test that can detect heart disease earlier.

Every cat owner needs to know that the most common age of heart disease in cats is any age. All cats from the really young to the really old can suddenly be affected. What is a cat owner to do?

Dr. Kim Somjen, DVM with kitten

Tommy, our senior cat resident at BMAH






Yearly veterinarian exams are crucial for your cat.

The most important thing you can do is take your cat to the veterinarian at least once a year so he or she can listen to your cat’s heart.  What we are listening for is a heart murmur and/or an arrhythmia.  A baseline proBNP blood test should also be considered.

Yearly exams to check a cat’s heart are crucial because the earlier heart disease is detected, the greater the possibility that the cat will have a positive response to treatment.

How can the proBNP test help?

This new exciting blood test called a proBNP test may be lifesaving! The proBNP test has been used in humans for years, and we also can use it for dogs. However, cats especially benefit from this great, inexpensive screening test.

The proBNP test measures stretching of the heart due to disease on a microcellular level.  It is a simple blood test that most veterinarians can now perform. With it we can establish a baseline of the condition of the cat’s heart without the added expense of performing an echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound).

The test is also useful if we have a young cat whose brother, sister or mother had heart disease, because we can test for a genetic predisposition inexpensively.

Kitten patient at Belle Mead Animal Hospital








The proBNP test is also useful as a pre-surgical test. There are 10-15% of cats that develop heart disease without presenting an arrhythmia or heart murmur. We use the proBNP test in our practice because it gives us added assurance that your cat’s heart can handle anesthesia or surgery.

What about indoor cats?

There is a fallacy even among veteran, self-proclaimed cat people that indoor, young adult cats can take care of themselves and don’t need annual wellness preventative exams. This could not be farther from the truth, especially when it comes to felines.

Cats are the masters at hiding disease from their loving owners. Cats silently suffer from many types of genetic diseases that will develop whether they are indoor or outdoor cats.

CAPIC rescue cat adopted through BMAH

Indoor cats enjoying their home







Indoor cats do live an average of 6-9 years longer than indoor/outdoor cats if they have a good heart. However, heart disease symptoms won’t present until your pet is very sick.  At that point, your cat may not respond to medications.

What are the symptoms of heart disease in cats?

The most common symptom in cats with heart disease is again, NO early symptoms. This is where cats differ from dogs. A dog who has heart disease will display obvious symptoms as early as 6 months to 3 years in advance before overt heart failure. The initial symptoms in dogs could be signs like coughing, lethargy, or panting.

The most common outcome of undetected heart disease in cats is sudden respiratory distress and sudden death. This end stage of heart disease is often a chest full of fluid that restricts their lungs from expanding. Owners are shocked and devastated because their cats were seemingly normal until just that day or the night before.

A veterinarian can detect an arrhythmia or a heart murmur up to a year or so in advance by listening to your cat’s heart. Your veterinarian has an 85-90% chance of finding hopefully early heart disease in your cat with his/her stethoscope.  The other 10-15% that may have been missed in the past can now be detected with a simple proBNP baseline blood test screen.

What is the treatment plan for heart disease?

Once we diagnose a specific heart disease by an ultrasound, the treatment may be heart medication in liquid or pill form. Sometimes we can even use a form of transdermal medication. This is a cream that you would put on the cat’s ear once a day. Senior pet owners and those with cats who are difficult to medicate really appreciate this.

Senior cat






These medications will enable your cat’s heart to work more efficiently so they can have a better quality of life inexpensively.  Medication can help prevent sudden heart failure, respiratory distress and sudden death.

Please contact our office if you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital






Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Jan 15, 2021 | no responses.

Studies have shown that cats are seen by veterinarians on average far less frequently than dogs.  And why is this?  There can be many reasons, but one reason important to note may be that cats are so good at hiding pain.

Often times, an owner is waiting for symptoms before bringing them in for an annual wellness exam. The pet owner simply does not realize their cat needs medical care until medical conditions have reached critical stages.  It’s important for cat owners to understand that a veterinarian listening to the kitty’s heart and skillfully feeling their kidneys and intestines annually can save their pet’s life.


Another reason may be that kitty does not want to leave home, and the mere sight of a cat carrier can be cause for alarm.  You find your cat suddenly disappears, hides under the bed or in a closet, or cowers in a corner behind a piece of furniture the moment they see the carrier come out or even sense a change is about to occur.

If this is the case, here are some simple tips on how to ease your feline’s stress and make the trip to the veterinarian more pleasant:

1) Start with a carrier that has hard sides and opens from both the top and front. An easily removable top allows a fearful cat or one that is ill and in pain to stay on the bottom half of the carrier if necessary.

2) Take the carrier out at least a day (or more) ahead of the planned trip. Place it in an area where the cat is normally comfortable and at rest. Give your cat time to explore the carrier on its own, and reward your cat with a treat if you find it sitting near the carrier or even inside it. If possible, consider leaving the carrier out all the time, so the carrier becomes a fixture in your cat’s environment is not associated only with trips.

Cat exploring carrier

3) Place soft, familiar bedding inside the carrier.  Add treats, catnip or toys to entice your cat to go inside, explore and even play.

4) Try a stress reducer such as Feliway. This product sold as a spray or diffuser is actually a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone.  This pheromone is used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.  By simply spraying Feliway on a towel or bedding and placing it inside the cat carrier at least 30 minutes before you plan to leave your home, you are creating a state of familiarity and security within the carrier. The cat feels a sense of comfort once inside and can more easily cope with what seems a challenging situation.

Cat resting inside carrier

5) Stay calm yourself. Cats can sense their owner’s anxiety. In turn, they become more fearful and anxious. Don’t panic if your cat expresses fear or aggression. Be patient but persistent in placing your cat into the carrier and reward your kitty for positive behavior.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have further questions or need advice.

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in General Pets News Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Dec 10, 2020 | no responses.

Cooperative Care is wonderful for animals that are afraid of veterinary procedures by giving them the ability to indicate they are not comfortable and would like you to stop what you are doing.  

Cooperative Care involves training an animal to not only tolerate handling and husbandry procedures, but to be an active, willing participant in these experiences. A vital foundation in Cooperative Care is teaching a duration target behavior.

Research has shown that teaching an animal that they can have some control in situations that cause them anxiety can actually reduce their stress and fear while also increasing their confidence and tolerance for handling during veterinary exams or procedures, grooming, or handling they might otherwise find unpleasant.

Cooperative Care has proven successful for a variety of animals, from dogs, horses and birds to large zoo animals such as lions and hippos.

Case Study: Meet Laima!

Laima is an Australian Shepherd that has a history of being very anxious at veterinary hospitals. Luckily, she is owned by a dog trainer that was willing to explore Cooperative Care with Laima.

Cooperative Care teaches Laima that she can let us know if she is ready and willing to have her exam, and in this case, her blood drawn. She does so by giving her owner a chin rest (resting her chin in her owner’s hand). Laima did very well during her first visit with Dr. Somjen!

Cooperative Care and Fear Free Exams

The beauty of Cooperative Care is that is goes hand-in-hand with the Fear Free pet experience at the veterinary hospital.  The BMAH Team is staffed with Fear Free Professionals who believe and understand that our pets are, in fact, sentient beings.

It’s important to understand that our pets are able to feel or sense situations and circumstances surrounding them in either a positive or negative way. Through their behavior they demonstrate awareness of their surroundings and responsiveness to environmental stimuli. Our animals see, hear, and smell – they communicate with us not only vocally but specifically by their behavior.

If you are interested in exploring Cooperative Care with your pets to enhance their Fear Free experience, contact us to learn more.

Recommended Reading:

What Fear Free Means for You and Your Pet

Achieving Fear Free Exams for Your Pet

Dr. Kim Somjen, DVM CCRP cVMA

Kim Somjen DVM Fear Free Professional

Posted in Events News on Nov 20, 2020 | no responses.

We wish to thank everyone who voted for Belle Mead Animal Hospital once again in the annual Courier News Best Contest! Your confidence in our Belle Mead Animal Hospital Team is sincerely appreciated. We will continue to treat every pet that comes through our doors as if they were our very own. Thank you for letting us serve you and your family.

Belle Mead Animal Hospital, Your Other Family Doctors
Posted in Events News on Nov 13, 2020 | no responses.

The October 31st Halloween holiday got off to a fun start with the morning HOWL-O-Ween Dog Costume Contest and Parade at the Dog Park at Ann Van Middlesworth Park in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Even with the chilly weather, a record number of dogs participated.

The local Girl Scouts acted as judges for costume categories Best Large Dog costume (Harley the UPS Driver), Best Small Dog costume (Bronson) and Best Group costume (The Wizard of Oz).

Belle Mead Animal Hospital participated with a table of treats and information. BMAH was one of three local businesses who donated a Gift Basket for one of the lucky costume winners.

Participant check-in began at 8:30 a.m. by the Pavilion, and the Dog Costume Parade started at 9:00 a.m. with Mayor Doug Tomson kicking off the parade.

Once again, the costumes this year were extremely creative. Dogs of all sizes masqueraded as lions, witches, unicorns, bats, bumblebees, and angels, to name a few! Hillsborough Police participated in the parade with K9 Freddie as well as Committeeman Frank Delcore with his costumed dog!

View more images here:

Thanks to Hillsborough Department of Parks and Recreation for organizing another successful event. All the dog participants were dressed to impress, and even if not awarded the best in their category, they were still winners in our opinion for showing up and showing off! A Howling good time was had by all.

Belle Mead Animal Hospital, Your Other Family Doctors

Handling Every Pet with Love Every Day!

As Certified Fear Free Professionals, our Mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. Visit Fear Free Happy Homes here and join at no cost!

Posted in Exotics General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Oct 12, 2020 | no responses.

Pet owners now have more health care options for their pets than ever before. Cancer care is one of these options and board certified specialists are available to help. When a pet is diagnosed with cancer, pet owners can elect to have a medical oncology consultation. Below I outline what actually happens when owners make an appointment for an oncology consultation with a board certified medical oncologist.


Prior to an oncology consultation, the pet’s primary veterinarian sends medical records to the oncologist. These records include recent exam findings, blood work, x-rays and other test results. The oncologist then reviews this information prior to the appointment. While reviewing the medical records, the oncologist formulates a preliminary plan and a list of questions that need to be answered to better understand the patient’s cancer, prognosis and treatment options. It is very important that the oncologist has all pertinent medical records prior to consultation. When medical records are missing they can cause delays in treatment, the repeating of tests, and an incomplete understanding of the case.


On the day of the consultation, the pet and its owner arrive a few minutes prior to their appointment to make sure all of their contact information is on file and their medical records have arrived. Owners are then greeted by an oncology nurse and taken to the exam room. While in the exam room the oncology nurse obtains the pet’s weight and vital signs. The oncology nurse then has a conversation with the pet owner about how the pet has been feeling since its last exam. Pet owners are also asked about current medications as they sometimes change, and we want to be sure we fully understand how the patient has been treated.

Cat on scale to be weighedThe oncology nurse then updates the doctor on recent medications and changes at home prior to the exam. The oncologist greets the owners and starts his/her physical exam of the pet. The physical exam allows the oncologist to evaluate the pet from an oncology perspective, assessing them for changes since the last recorded exam.

After the physical exam the oncologist sits down to discuss the pet’s cancer and how to move forward. Ideally all concerned family members should be present for the consultation. If this is not possible, ask your oncologist if absent family members can participate in via speaker-phone or skype.

In some instances the oncologist will determine additional testing is needed to clarify the pet’s diagnosis and treatment following the physical exam. The pros and cons of this additional testing are reviewed with owners as it is important they understand the value of this information. The discussion then typically moves on to information about the cancer itself, such as how quickly it grows, how it is treated, and what the prognosis is. Each pet is unique so treatment options are often outlined and customized based on the pet’s prior history, how the pet is feeling, and any other medical conditions the pet may have.


Rabbit for Adoption Belle Mead Animal Hospital







The diagnosis of cancer can be a very emotional experience, so do not hesitate to share with your oncologist any fears you may have. Pet owners are welcome to ask questions during the consultation. It is important the oncologist addresses owner’s concerns. Owner questions and concerns also allow the oncologist to further customize treatment options for pets.   


After the consultation, the oncologist will write up their exam findings and treatment recommendations. These recommendations are then sent to the pet’s primary veterinarian and can be emailed to the pet owner. The sharing of the consultation summary allows veterinarians, pet owners and specialists to all be on the same page. Pet owners can then decide what treatment recommendations they are most interested in. It is important that pet owners then make a recheck appointment with either their primary veterinarian or the oncologist so their pets comfort and care can be maintained based on the treatment option they elect.

M.J.Hamilton, DVM, DACVIM (Onco)

Dr MJ Hamilton Belle Mead Animal Hospital

M.J.Hamilton, DVM, DACVIM (Onco)

Posted in General Pets News Veterinary Services on Sep 15, 2020 | no responses.

There was a story published a while back of an incident in Monmouth, a town in Kennebec County, Maine.  It was rather alarming because it involved a rabid raccoon who snuck into a person’s home through a pet entry installed in a screen door.

As the story goes, the rabid raccoon entered the home around 4 p.m. and got into a fight with the homeowner’s cat, which did not survive the attack.  The homeowner was able to call police who arrived at the scene and were able to taser the animal and later kill it. You can read the full story here.

Racoon in home

Don’t let this happen in your home.

The takeaway from this story is if you choose to use a pet entry, you must be aware that other animals might wander inside and could be rabid. Most pet entries are just a flap or opening that people leave open for pets to go in and out as they please.

At the very least, close the pet entry and lock it in the evenings, and keep it locked all night.  When the sun goes down and we go to sleep, the raccoons, skunks and feral cats come out and explore the area for food and breeding purposes.  If they have rabies, beware because they are relentless in attacking and biting whatever is in their path.  The disease is then spread to whomever they see and make contact with.

There are electronic pet doors available that will either open or unlock automatically when they detect a sensor on your pet’s collar as it approaches the door.  This would be a more expensive alternative, but it does eliminate the possibility of unwanted animals entering into your home, and perhaps it is worth checking into.

With the recent case of the rabid otter reported at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, people must be diligent in their efforts to protect their homes from unwanted guests and vaccinate their pets. The fact is, we live in a hugely rabies endemic area, and people should be aware of the dangers.

If you see a fox, skunk or raccoon in the daytime at all, and especially unusually close to your home, please stay indoors and call the police.  The animal probably is dying of rabies.  Remember to keep your garbage cans in a shed, in a garage or far from your house because garbage attracts these animals with and without rabies.

You can learn more in our earlier blog about rabies and the procedures to take if bitten as published by the Somerset County Department of Health.

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in Exotics General Pets Veterinary Medicine on Aug 12, 2020 | no responses.

Rabbits who stop eating must be force fed by owners and veterinary staff in order to get their gut moving again to feel better and survive. This owner was having difficulty at first, but with some tips from BMAH and the exotic department at RBVH (Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, Tinton Falls), she persevered and saved her bunny named Roo.

The owner wanted to pass on some tips to benefit others who have rabbits in their household that might face the same type of emergency.

Tips From Roo’s Mom: Wrapping your bunny in a Burrito wrap using a towel or blanket is important to keep him secure. Roo prefers to be wrapped in a thick baby blanket. Roo prefers eating from a 6 ml or a 10 ml syringe. Filling small syringes from a large one (I have 30 ml and a 60 ml) tends to be easier than drawing from a bowl, as the thickness and air pockets can be difficult. I put the entire prescribed amount into a large syringe and squirt it into the small ones. Preload as many small syringes as you can. This makes things much easier and efficient if the bunny is actually cooperating. Roo prefers the apple banana Critical Care to the plain version. Be patient and allow for a block of time with many breaks. Our fastest feeding time was 35 minutes, but the longest was 3 hours.

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins DVM Fear Free Certified Professional