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

Posted in General Pets News Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Aug 03, 2020 | no responses.

It’s important that pet parents understand just how useful routine blood work is as a tool that allows veterinarians to discover abnormalities and potential health risks that can easily be missed during an office exam.

Sometimes veterinarians find themselves needing to see numbers, values, images and scans because the initial nose-to-tail exam did not lead to a definitive diagnosis. Veterinarians turn to diagnostics to get further answers.

Cat and Dog

Following are some reasons why blood work might be ordered:

  • Veterinarians use blood work to create baseline numbers for future blood results
  • Blood work is used to determine liver, kidney and pancreas functions
  • Pre-anesthetic blood work is necessary to ensure normal organ functions prior to administration of anesthesia
  • Blood work is necessary for monitoring drug levels to ensure safety and accuracy of dosage
  • Blood work is important in managing and monitoring the progress of certain types of treatments.

Our colleague and medical director at Johnstown Veterinary Associates explains it in more detail. Read his full article here and feel confident that when your family veterinarian suggests blood work, there is good reason to do so.  Veterinarian’s view: Blood work is important for pets, too

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Posted in News on Jul 06, 2020 | no responses.

Meet Lava! Lava recently had her second round of puppy DAPP 2 of 4 (Distemper/ Parvo Core Vaccine) last week. She loved being outside at a friend’s farm. She loved treats, the grass, the dirt, and was even ok with the sounds of a bulldozer far off in the background on this sunny, beautiful 75 degree day. What a great positive day of fun supervised new sights, smells, sounds, textures and experiences for this 11 week old puppy. 

This is exactly what puppies need. The owner was concerned about the puppy’s age, and in the past, people were told to not expose puppies until they had all their puppy vaccine series completed at 16 weeks of age. We know now to not wait that long. Once puppies have had their second puppy DAPP booster around 9-10 weeks old, they are good to go, and they need socialization outside of your home. They can go on walks down the block, go to parks, and visit friends’ yards. 

Please do avoid dog parks and other high urine and fecal traffic areas until the puppy is 16 weeks of age. However, you can walk the perimeter of parks to get the puppy used to seeing other dogs and different types of people, bikes, cars, and noises.

Continue Learning and Practicing

Puppy Face

Belle Mead Animal Hospital has created a Dog and Puppy Training Playlist that includes what you need to do when you bring your puppy home, especially between the age of 9-19 weeks – Visit the Dog and Puppy Training Playlist Here and make sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for updates!

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins DVM Fear Free Certified Professional
Posted in General Pets News Veterinary Services on Jun 16, 2020 | no responses.

Socialization with people is one of the most important and time-sensitive aspects of raising a puppy and sadly, with social distancing protocols in place, it’s impossible to accomplish this task in the traditional manner.

It’s still possible to socialize and acclimatize your puppy safely but puppy owners are going to have to undertake much more proactive socialization themselves, providing their pups with an ever-changing environment filled with novel objects, stimuli and experiences, within the safety of their homes. Most important of all, puppy owners need to pretend they are new and different people, to mimic the socialization to unfamiliar people that is currently impossible to undertake safely

Dr. Ian Dunbar, well known veterinarian, animal behaviorist, dog trainer and founder of Dunbar Academy, has prepared a special YouTube Video presentation to help you learn how to train your puppy during these socially distanced times. Visit the link to the Puppy Socialization & Social Distancing video presentation here.

You can also visit our Pet Behavior Resource page for more training tips:

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins DVM Fear Free Certified Professional
Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Jun 04, 2020 | no responses.

Sweet Rosie is a six month old Goldendoodle. She was suddenly straining to urinate and needed to go out to squat to urinate multiple times overnight and then throughout the morning.

Her owner called BMAH, and we got her in via curbside pick-up. All of her vitals and 12 point system check-up were normal except her urinary. We use our in-house ultrasound to image and look at her bladder. It’s simple and easy with the technology we have. You would be amazed at what we could see (stones, clots, polyps, tumors etc.).

It’s also important to obtain a urine sample for analysis called a Urinalysis. A urine can tell us things that bloodwork may or cannot reveal.

Rosie was so sweet. Her bladder was thickened, and we performed an ultrasound guided cystocentesis (Cysto) to easily and quickly get a urine. It’s a good thing we did because it turns out that she did not just have a vaginitis that we would normally just treat her pain and discomfort with an anti-inflammatory for a few days. Her urine revealed she had an E.coli UTI.

Goldendoodle Dog Rosie

Undiagnosed and untreated E.Coli UTI in a dog or cat could go on to become bladder stones within 6-12 months. If not treated properly early enough, an under-the-radar infection allows bacteria to multiply and create an unhealthy urinary environment where bacterial byproducts increase the PH of urine creating stones. We see these on ultrasounds and x-rays almost weekly at Belle Mead Animal Hospital. They won’t just go away with an antibiotic and probiotic. It may require surgery and/or special diets and antibiotics to treat it.  

dog Rosie Goldendoodle

One last point is that urinary symptoms in animals often times wax and wane, especially in the early stages. What I mean by that is that sometimes they have symptoms that are very mild and go away, where you, the owner, thinks the pet is fine. However their E.coli did not clear itself your dog’s body and immune system is trying to take care of it and maintain balance and homeostasis, but the E.coli will ultimately rear its ugly head and clinical signs that are even worse the longer it goes undiagnosed.

So if your pet is potty trained, and especially if your adult pet never really has urinary accidents in the house, but you notice that we are having more occasional urinary accidents or increase posturing than normal to urinate, there is reason to contact your family veterinarian. When dogs go for their routine eliminations, it should be one or two, then done – not posturing 3 or 4 times. Don’t just blow it off. Make a mental note – this was your sign and time to remember to call us. You can catch and collect a urine at home and drop it off for a urinalysis. If you can’t do this, we can easily get it via a cysto or cystocentesis – just don’t let your dog urinate right before coming into the hospital.

Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins DVM Fear Free Certified Professional


Posted in General Pets News Veterinary Services on May 12, 2020 | no responses.

Seresto eight month flea and tick pet collars are the best, easiest, and most affordable protection for outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats. I know that no one likes collars on their cats, but these are not the same collars from years ago. Cats and cat owners love them. They are 100% safe for you, your cat, and the environment in every way. They are cool grey, and there are no powders or smells. The Seresto collar is even safe if touched and somehow ingested.

Seriously, cats and dogs who are outside and unprotected and getting bit by even the occasional flea and tick risk infection with microscopic diseases that can live in their red blood cells for years and cause life threatening non-reversible anemias years later.

Also, Seresto collars on outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats protect their human families because any flea or tick that jumps on the cats will then fall off and die and not be able to infect a human. We live in one of the highest tick diseases areas in the country, and yes, fleas cause plague and cat scratch fever, and they do live here in New Jersey.  We at Belle Mead Animal Hospital have these collars available with a $15 rebate and support the company’s guarantee to replace for free if your cat loses its collar before eight months. We encourage you to give it a try! 

We have prepared video instruction to show you just how easy it is to put a Seresto Collar on your cat. Watch How to Apply a Seresto Pet Collar

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!

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Posted in General Pets News on May 06, 2020 | no responses.

There are a lot of great offers you can take advantage of during the month of May 2020 if you would like to order pet food through our online site,

You can create your customer account here.

Use code R9VAA for Belle Mead Animal Hospital or just look up the clinic name.  Following are the special offers for May 2020: 

Puppy Face

    •  Promo Code MAYSAVE15
    •  Take 15% off first purchase of any one Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets formula
    •  Promo Code MAYSAVE20
    •  Take 20% off when any supplement is added to first time diet order
    •  One use per client – While supplies last

New Item Promotions – Hydra Care
    •  Promo Code HYDRA5
    •  $5 off first purchase only
    •  One use per client

30% Off First Automatic Shipment
    •  Promo Code TAKE30
    •  Discount applied only to automatic shipments
    •  Maximum discount $20
    •  One use per client

Add a Supplement to any auto-ship order and save 35% Off First Automatic Shipment
    •  Promo Code TAKE35

    •  Discount applied only to automatic shipments – MUST include a supplement in addition to another food item
    •  Maximum discount $20
    •  One use per client

    •  No minimum cart value

Free Shipping On All Orders
    •  No promo code needed
    •  No minimum cart value

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!

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Posted in Exotics General Pets News Veterinary Services on Apr 21, 2020 | no responses.

Once again, we sincerely appreciate everyone’s cooperation and patience as we adjust our protocols and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following are some things to keep in mind:

1. If you are emailing for a prescription refill, it will be ready in 1-2 business days. Specially compounded meds may take at least 1 week, so please plan ahead. We encourage everyone to get refills at least 1 week in advance to ensure you don’t run out and be prepared for unexpected emergencies. We will call or text you when your meds are ready for pickup.

2. We love people who have pet insurance! Pet insurance saves lives! It it the owner’s responsibility to submit their own pet insurance claims. As a courtesy and upon your request, we can submit claims for clients, but please let us know you want us to do so as it will take 7-10 days for us to submit claims. The pet insurance companies are also behind due to staffing, so it can take more time to get results. Therefore, please be patient. If you have not heard from us after 10 days, then please contact us a second time.

3. Technician appointments are a lower priority to doctor appointments, so it is possible you may experience 30-60 minute wait times in appointments and pick up/discharges. We appreciate your patience and understanding that we have to triage and address emergencies and sick patients first and are short-staffed. We are happy to be open and serving you, but we cannot move at the speed we used to move, and there will be waits.

Veterinary Technician COVID-19 Pandemic

4. Drop-offs at BMAH with no additional Charges are encouraged for Doctor or even tech appointments – when an appointment is not readily available and/or you just can’t wait and need to be doing other things. You can leave your pet with us and pick up an hour or few hours later when it’s more convenient and there is much less waiting time.

5.  BMAH Now Offers Telephone Consultations! You can now request a 15 minute telephone consultation with one of our Doctors.  Make your request with one of our receptionists. You will be asked to provide a telephone number where you can be reached and a window of time when you can be available. There is a $40 charge for this service that must be prepaid by credit card over the phone. A doctor will return your call during that window of time and discuss your pet’s condition. If the doctor determines that your pet should be seen in our hospital due to their medical condition, an appointment will be arranged and the $40 charge will be credited toward that in-hospital exam fee.

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!