Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital

10855 South 48th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85048



Breast Cancer Awareness and Your Pets - 10/06/2020

October has special meaning for many women. It is a time of year set aside to raise awareness of breast cancer issues. So, it’s also a great time for us to review how breast cancer can affect our pets, too.

Our dogs and cats cannot perform a self exam. But, as conscientious pet owners, we can do a breast exam for them.

Dogs and cats have a row of mammary glands rather than just two breasts. So, checking for lumps and bumps takes a little bit of time. First, have your furry pal lie on her or his side and gently massage each teat and the surrounding tissue. Note any abnormalities that can range from smooth pea-sized growths to lumpy larger masses.

Not all breast enlargements are tumors, so don’t be alarmed if you do feel something unusual. Nursing mothers or females in heat will have enlarged mammary tissue due to hormone-associated changes. Additionally, overweight females may have fatty deposits in the mammary area.

Although not all bumps or lumps are actually tumors, they should still be checked out by your veterinarian. Since mammograms are not standard practice in veterinary medicine, your pet’s doctor will carefully examine the mammary glands and may do ultrasound to check as well. It isn’t always possible to detect breast cancer by simple exam, so, your pet’s doctor may take a sample from the mass and have it analyzed by a pathologist.

Sampling may be as simple as a fine needle aspirate (FNA), in which cells are collected with a small needle and syringe while the pet is awake. Or, a biopsy may be performed in which a small portion of the mass is surgically removed while under anesthesia. Or, your veterinarian may elect to remove the entire mass without taking a sample first. Portions of the mass are submitted for microscopic analysis to determine if cancer is present and, if so, the nature of the breast cancer.

Only about 50% of mammary tumors are malignant in dogs while approximately 90% are malignant in cats. Unfortunately, breast cancer can spread or metastasize to other areas of the body in both cats and dogs. That means that early detection is vital to stopping the cancer.

Cats and dogs have 8 to 10 mammary glands used to nurse several babies simultaneously. These mammary glands are connected by blood vessels which make it easy for the tumors to spread from gland to gland. Since multiple glands may be affected, surgical removal may involve a large excision area. Your veterinarian may also want to remove associated lymph nodes to further assess the cancer’s spread. He or she may advise blood work and/or radiographs to monitor the cancer’s potential spread to other organs.

In addition to the surgical removal of the mass or masses, your veterinarian may advise radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer. These options may be expensive but often yield good results and may be covered by veterinary pet insurance plans.

Breast cancer is a tragedy in people and pets. One way to decrease the risk of breast cancer in dogs or cats is to spay females at an early age, preferably before their first heat cycle.

With people and pets, early detection is key to a successful outcome. Be sure to check your dog or cat regularly for mammary tumors and see your veterinarian if anything seems unusual.

September is Happy Cat Month! - 09/01/2020


Cats are wonderful companions and pets. This month, take some time to ensure as a cat owner, you are dedicated to making sure you have a happy feline friend. Let’s discuss some things to consider when evaluating how happy your cat may be and consider some extra things you can do to increase your cat’s happiness…

Keep your cat in good shape. Exercise and playtime as well as interactive toys all help provide mental and physical stimulation for your cat. Make time for regular playtime with your cat and provide toys that he/she can play with independently.

Provide entertainment in addition to toys and playtime. Make sure your cat has a good spot to look out on the world. Without entertainment and enrichment activity, boredom and destructive behavior can ensue.

Provide the necessities. Your cat needs fresh food and water and a clean litter box. This is the foundation for your cat’s happy life.

Quality nutrition. review your cat’s health history and diet with your veterinarian to make sure your kitty is getting all the proper nutrients she/he needs and the right amount and type of food for her/his lifestyle and age. Variety is the spice of life, so switch up flavors of your cat’s food, or indulge in some different treats.

Satisfy your cat’s natural instincts. Cats have a natural urge to scratch which cares for their claws and helps them stretch. provide a scratching post. This also helps save your furniture. It’s even better if you provide a cat pole with perches and hiding places. Cats love to climb and hide.

Regular veterinary visits. Regular veterinary appointments are important to keep your cat healthy.This is not only important for your cat’s overall health and wellness but is also an important preventive measure.

Even if your cat is an indoor cat, there are ways she/he can explore the big outdoors. Some cats can be walked on a leash, which provides safe outdoor exploration. If your cat is not accepting of the leash, you can try an enclosed cat stroller or try a catio – an enclosed outdoor structure or area where your cat can enjoy fresh air, get exercise, and take in the outdoors safe from predators and the dangers of getting lost.

Every now and then, bring home a new treat or new toy as a surprise.



August is Immunization Awareness Month: Have You Checked Your Pet’s Immunization Record? - 08/03/2020


Vaccines fundamentally changed modern medicine. Beginning with the smallpox vaccine in the 18th century, vaccines have continued to be developed for both human and animal health. The rabies vaccine, developed by Louis Pasteur, was first administered to dogs in 1881. Vaccines play a crucial role in preventive medicine to protect both people and animals from the risk of serious and sometimes fatal diseases.

A vaccine is a preparation that helps the body’s immune system prepare to fight disease-causing organisms. If the immune system has been introduced to an unfamiliar microbe (bacteria or virus) as part of a vaccine, it’s ready to produce antibodies if it recognizes or is exposed to the same microbe again. Antibodies are what help the body fight infection and protect the body from getting the same illness again. Vaccinations are intended to reduce the severity of the illness and/or prevent the disease entirely, by creating immunity.

Vaccinations have improved the lives of cats and dogs around the world and have also played an important role in public safety. Although veterinary vaccination programs have not yet eliminated diseases, vaccines for rabies, distemper, parvovirus, feline leukemia and panleukopenia have greatly reduced the incidences of disease, thereby improving the lives of our pets and reducing death caused by preventable disease. for example, the greatest achievement with the vaccination of companion animals is the reduction of canine distemper – a contagious, serious, and often fatal disease of dogs.

Another great achievement associated with vaccinations is the elimination of rabies in people caused by dogs in the United States, Canada, western Europe, Japan and 28 of the 35 Latin American countries. Unfortunately, rabies is still widespread in many developing countries around the world. Although rabies is preventable, it still kills about 59,000 people each year. ninety-nine percent of these deaths are caused by dog bites and nearly half of the victims are children.

The vaccines that are recommended for dogs and cats vary according to geographical location and lifestyle. Some vaccines are “core,” indicating that they are recommended for all dogs or cats, while others are recommended only in certain circumstances.

Core vaccines for dogs:

Canine Distemper Virus

Canine Adenovirus-2 (Canine Hepatitis)

Canine Parvovirus

Rabies Virus

Non-core vaccines for dogs:

Bordetella Bronchiseptica + Canine Parainfluenza (Kennel Cough)


Borrelia Burgdorferi or Lyme Disease

Canine Influenza (H3N8 and H3N2)

Rattlesnake Vaccine

Core vaccines for cats:

Feline Panleukopenia (FPL) (also known as feline infectious enteritis or feline


Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (also known as herpes virus-1 or FHV-1)

Feline Calicivirus

Rabies Virus (required by law in certain areas)

Non-core vaccines for cats:

Chlamydophila Felis

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) caused by FIP virus or feline coronavirus

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

During this month of August, check your pet’s immunization records to see if he/she missed vaccinations during the initial stages of COVID-19 shutdown. As we enter the “new norm”, it is important that your pet’s immunizations are up to date to protect him/her against preventable diseases. Call us 480 893-0533 to book an appointment today to protect your pets!



Summer in Arizona Means Monsoon Thunderstorms and Fireworks! - 07/03/2020


Thunderstorms and fireworks may cause fear and anxiety for your dog. Those booming fireworks and natural “light and sound shows” may be fun for you to watch, but consider how they affect your four-legged friend.

When monsoons come, you can hear rumbling off in the distance. While some dogs may carry on “as usual”, others may hide, bark, tremble, or seek comfort from you. Further, many communities’ Fourth of July celebrations have been cancelled due to COVID-19; however, some celebrations may still be in the works and families and individuals may have their own private fireworks festivities planned. Before you plan a backyard fireworks show, consider that the noise created by fireworks is similar to that created by thunderstorms when they roll through. If your dog fears thunderstorms, chances are she/he fears fireworks, too.

Fear of loud noises is common in dogs and arises from their natural survival instincts. When thy face a threatening situation I.e. strange sound, animal or person, etc.), fear is nature’s way of protecting them from harm. The dog’s fear alerts him or her to potential danger and stimulates a “fight or flight” response to keep him/her safe by either approaching the danger or fleeing from it.

The problem is that some dogs have an excessive fear of thunderstorms or fireworks and develop a phobia. In the case of thunderstorms, these dogs not only react to the noise, but also to lightning, change in barometric pressure, windy conditions, and darkening sky that accompanies the rolling and cracking sounds of thunder. When thunder-phobic dogs are really scared, they act out.

There are steps you can take to deal with both thunderstorm and fireworks phobia.

~  Accompany your dog to a soundproof room in your house, such as an interior room that doesn’t have windows or your basement. Set up your dogs bed or crate for comfort.

~  Play fetch or tug of war using your dog’s favorite toy.

~  Turn on the TV, radio, or fan to help block the noise.

~  Try filling a kong with peanut butter or favorite treats to keep your dog preoccupied.

~  If your dog enjoys being in her/his crate, try covering it with blankets to help muffle the noise of the storm or fireworks.

~  Some dogs feel secure when placed in a weighted dog vest or anti-anxiety wrap. Ask your veterinarian about these options.

~  Be sure to follow the above steps when it’s not storming or prior to fireworks season. This will help your dog become familiar and comfortable with the room/routine, and will help prevent the association of this room or routine to only thunder and fireworks.

~  Never set fireworks off near your dog. Keep your pets inside your home during the time you or others may be setting off fireworks. This helps with anxiety and helps prevent your dog becoming frightened and running away.

Prepare your dog for the inevitable storms and fireworks. Have a happy Fourth of July!

Wellness Checklist – Pet Healthcare You May Have Missed During COVID-19 Isolation - 06/14/2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our daily lives and activities, including taking our furry, feathered, and scaled pets to see the veterinarian. Changes to how your veterinary hospital operates and sees their patients were implemented during the shut down and are likely to remain for a while longer. Some of these changes may include curbside drop off (now optional at our hospital for the next few months), limited access to the hospital, and perhaps the use of telemedicine for certain appointments, and use of extra sanitation and safety measures.

Regardless of the new protocols that your veterinary hospital has put in place, the importance of preventive medicine remains for the well-being of your pets. Unvaccinated pets pose a threat to the overall health of animals in your community and the use pf preventives to avoid flea and tick infestations or a devastating heartworm infection are as important now as they always have been.

Call your veterinary hospital to find out how they are seeing patients during this challenging time, and book an appointment today.

Some of the preventive measures, and the importance of catching up now on wellness care that you may have missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are discussed below.

Annual or biannual wellness exams are crucial in preventive medicine, Your pets can’t tell you when something feels “off” and your veterinarian is trained to pick up on these subtle changes.Bloodwork to check how prescription medicines are working, or screening for diseases are important to prevent more serious issues down the road. With all the extra time spent at home with your pet(s) over the past several weeks, you may have noticed bumps or lumps or other subtle changes with your pet. Now is the time to get things checked out before they become serious concerns. Early management of disease or illness can improve the prognosis and outcome for your pet.

It is heartworm season in many parts of our country. It isn’t too late to start your heartworm preventives. If your pet is on year-round preventives, now is the time to renew your prescription. Prevent a devastating life-threatening illness by calling your veterinary healthcare team today and get your pet(s) protected!

You may not have seen any ticks or fleas on your pets yet this year, but you definitely want to keep it that way! One way to get exercise and maintain physical distance is hiking. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis can have significant health impacts on pets if not caught and treated early. No one wants a flea infestation, least of all your pets!Also, fleas can also carry a type of tapeworm. Now is the time to make sure your pet is ready for summer and protected from these pests.

Your pet may have missed her/his annual vaccinations during isolation. Rabies, a fatal non-treatable disease, is caused by a virus that can affect all dogs and cats – even indoor pets. All it takes is one quick encounter with an infected animal, such as a raccoon in the yard, or a bat that found its way into your pet’s environment. With rabies outbreaks in wildlife populations in various areas, vaccinating your pet should not be put off. Additional vaccinations that your pet may have missed depending on his or her vaccine schedule, your geographical area, and your lifestyle include: distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, canine parainfluenza virus, kennel cough, rattlesnake vaccine and canine influenza. Additional vaccinations that your cat may have missed depending on her or his vaccine schedule, your geographical location, and your lifestyle include: feline panleukopenia (FPL), feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus, feline chlamydiosis, feline leukemia disease complex, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and feline bordetellosis. Keeping your pet’s immunizations up-to-date is important for his/her overall health.

As we begin phasing out of isolation, it is time to slowing start resuming our “normal” activities, those these activities may look and feel different. Call your veterinary hospital to schedule a wellness exam and catch-up on care you may have missed.

COVID-19 and Pet Supplies - 04/01/2020


On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Many parts of the world are practicing social distancing as a means to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

The situation is changing rapidly and while people have been stocking up on non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, and paper products to get through the recommended period of social distancing, it’s important to ensure that you obtain the supplies that your pet needs too. Much like preparing for a natural disaster (flood, fire, hurricane), during this social distancing period, it’s important to have everything you need for your family, including your pets.

Items that you should stock up on now if you haven’t already:

Pet Food. Be sure to have several weeks’ worth of food (and treats).

  • If your pet is on a veterinary diet, call your veterinary clinic to receive instructions on picking up food.
  • If your pet’s regular food isn’t in stock at the pet store, you’ll need to buy an alternative. You can check with your veterinary clinic to see if they carry the diet that your pet is on. You may need to switch to a grocery store brand, but don’t wait until your pet’s regular food runs out. You’ll need to do a gradual switch to the new food. Mixing some of the old food with increasing amounts of the new food over a period of 3-7 days allows your pet to acclimatize to the new food, which will help prevent gastrointestinal upset.

Kitty Litter and Pet Waste Disposal Bags. Check your supplies of kitty litter and pet waste disposal bags. Be sure to have enough to last several weeks.

Medication. Ensure that you have a three- to four-week supply of your pet’s medications.

  • Call your veterinary clinic to make arrangements to pick up all the medications your pet needs.

Flea/Tick/Heartworm Preventives. Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean that your pets are staying inside all the time; they’ll still be exposed to fleas, ticks, and mosquito-carrying heartworms. With flea, tick, and heartworm season just beginning, it’s important to keep these preventive measures in place.

  • Call your veterinary clinic first if you need to pick up these prescription items. Remember that heartworm testing is necessary prior to initiating a heartworm preventive schedule. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is due for heartworm testing.

Emergency Caregiver. Pre-designate a family member, friend, or boarding facility to help with care in the event that you become ill.

  • Compile a daily schedule for your pet. List your pet’s food preferences and amount of food provided, medications and dosing schedules, medical conditions, routines, veterinary contact information, and medical and vaccination records.

It’s a difficult time across the globe. The ability to care for your pets depends on how well you have prepared. So, prepare, but don’t panic.fullsizeoutput_75c9

Coronavirus and Your pet - 03/12/2020


The outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19), first detected in Wuhan City, China, has raised concerns and created a global pandemic.

While the number of cases remains relatively low in the United States of America, with most cases occurring in China, South Korea, Italy and Iran, the spread of the virus worldwide is prompting more fears and affecting our economy and daily life.

While much is still unclear about the source, transmission, behavior, and incubation times, the ways to help protect ourselves and our pets is relatively clear.

By following typical “flu-season” precautions and using common sense, you can reduce the risk of contracting and/or spreading the virus:

~ avoid close contact with people who are sick

~ stay home when you are sick

~ Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow and arm when you cough or sneeze

~ use the foot tap or outside elbow bump instead of shaking hands

~ Frequently and thoroughly was your hands with warm water and soap for at least

20 seconds each time

~ clean frequently touched surfaces in your home and workplace

While coronaviruses can infect animals, currently there is no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can be infected by this new virus. Further, there is no current evidence that pets could be a source of infection. With that being said, we are still learning about the new virus. Because viruses evolve quickly, it is important to stay informed of any changes that may develop with the transmission or spread of the virus in domestic animal populations.

If you are under quarantine for COVID-19, there are important steps to take – remember to treat the animals in your home just like people. If someone in your home is infected, the same quarantine that applies to people applies to pets.

This means:

~ restrict activities outside your home (do not go to school, work, or public areas)

~ only go out to receive medical care (call ahead to receive instructions)

~ do not use public transit, taxis, uber, or ride-sharing forms of transportation

~ use a separate washroom in your home, if possible

~ stay in a separate room, away from people and pets in your home, if possible

~ restrict contact with your pets (avoid snuggling, petting sharing food, sharing your

bed, and being licked/kissed)

~ when it’s possible, have others in your home care for your pets

~ If you must care for your pet, wear gloves and a mask, and wash your hands before

and after

~ if you’re sick with coronavirus and have had contact with your pet, don’t allow your

pet to wander outside

Stay informed on the latest information and advice, check the CDC website and your state’s department of health website.


February is National Pet Dental Health Month! - 01/30/2020


February is National Pet Dental Health Month. The purpose of Pet Dental Health Month is to raise awareness that pets need dental care. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have oral disease by the time they are three years old.

Although our cats and dogs are domesticated, their ancestors evolved to hide symptoms of injury or weakness in order to survive in the wild. Modern pets have retained this characteristic. Therefore, your pet may be suffering in painful silence from a hidden dental condition such as a tooth root abscess, a broken tooth, dental decay, or inflammation/infection of the structures surrounding the teeth (periodontitis). Often, the only thing that you might notice is that your dog no longer plays with chew toys or that your cat paws at her/his mouth more frequently. Once a tooth becomes infected, it will require either a root canal treatment or extraction.

It’s not just bad breath you are combating when your pet has his/her annual dental examination and cleaning. Dental disease is a serious health condition. Bacteria under the gum line can affect more than just your pet’s teeth and gums. Bacteria from the mouth can travel throughout the body and put your pet at greater risk of developing heart, kidney, and liver disease, and complications from diabetes.

Dental disease is probably one of the most under-recognized serious health risks for our pets. In part because animals cannot tell us if their teeth or gums hurt and they try to hide symptoms. Therefore, it is important to visit your veterinarian at least once per year for a dental examination and professional cleaning. Your veterinarian can also recommend the appropriate dental treatment to keep your pets pearly whites looking and feeling good for life.

The main culprits that cause the development of a dental infection are dental plaque and tartar. When plaque and tartar are first deposited on the teeth, they cause gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Over time, bacteria and other organisms invade the inflamed tissues, causing an infection. Left untreated, they will spread, causing stomatitis (general infection of the mucous membranes of the mouth) or periodontitis (an infection of the ligaments, soft tissues and bones that anchor the teeth in place). Ultimately, oral disease will lead to tooth loss.

Fractured teeth can also lead to the development of tooth infection. The most common causes of tooth fractures are playing catch with hard objects and chewing on hard objects such as bones or rocks.Teeth may break on the tip or cusp, on the side (called a slab fracture), or along the root. Tip or cusp fractures are usually fairly visible, but both slab and root fractures may go unnoticed to a pet owner until an abscess forms.

Another major cause of tooth infections in pets is dental decay. In dogs it is relatively uncommon, estimated at less than 10% of all dental problems. However, in cats, enamel decay or erosion is a very common problem known by several different names including “oral resorptive lesions”, “neck lesions”, “cervical line erosions”, and other terms. When the protective enamel of the tooth is damaged or lost, bacteria will quickly infect the tooth and surrounding bone. The teeth ultimately become brittle and parts of them snap off, leaving behind fragments that cause further problems.

Regular dental examinations, annual professional dental cleanings, and daily brushing of your pet’s teeth will help your pet live a longer, healthier, and pain-free life!

Please visit the dental sections of our website to learn more about dental health, how to brush your pet’s teeth, and what is entailed in professional dental cleanings.

January Is Walk Your Dog Month! - 01/17/2020


January days are short and it is easy to get the blahs. After all of the festivities and excitement in the month of December, January can be a bit of a let-down for some people and pets. If you have a dog, one way to beat the blahs and work off some off those holiday pounds is to celebrate Walk Your Dog Month!

Embrace the cooler temperatures and get out there and enjoy the beauty of Arizona with your dog! No matter what the weather is outside, your dog needs to go out.

Getting outside and walking will not only help beat the winter blahs, incorporating a walk into your daily routine will help you both get some healthy exercise. Exercise can also help reduce behavioral issues that your dog may have.

If you and your furry pal are tired of the same old route, discover some new hiking areas in your community. Be sure to follow leash rules and take plenty of water for both of you.

Since the days are shorter during winter, and our work days are long, we are often walking our dogs in the dark this time of year. Be sure motorists can clearly see both you and your dog. wear brightly colored or reflective clothing and check out the multitude of lights available for your dog -from light up collars and clip on collar lights to light up leashes.

Bundle up and get moving. Spring and warmer Arizona weather is just around the corner!

Pet Holiday Safety - 12/07/2019


It is the season of peace, love, light, and joy. It’s time to visit family and friends. It’s time for party cheer and fun. Festive candles and Kinaras are lit, holiday decor is is shimmering, bows and ribbons adorn gifts, fires burn, treats and food are abundant and Christmas trees are decorated. With all of the celebration and merriment, it is important to plan for pet safety in your home.

Christmas trees can be very tempting for cats and dogs. Your cat may view the tree as her/his new climbing post or a comfy place to perch and look out the window. Your dog may see the ornaments as new toys to play with and chew. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your tree is safely secured. Just in case your dog bumps it or pulls on it to get that prize ornament, or your cat tries to climb it, the tree and all of your beautiful decorations won’t come crashing down.

It is important to be mindful of the decorations you use on the tree and throughout your home.

Glass tree ornaments can be hazardous. Ornaments are colorful and often shiny. They are attractive and pets are curious. If your pet knocks an ornament off the tree, both you and your pet could be injured. Use unbreakable or plastic ornaments to be safe.

Tinsel is a big no-no when it comes to pets. Some pets just can’t resist the shiny tinsel. All it takes is one piece of tinsel to cause a life-threatening situation for a pet. Tinsel can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and cause many problems, all requiring emergency surgery.

Candles should never be left unattended, even for just a minute. With the flick or wag of a tail, a candle can topple or fur can catch fire. Singed hair, burns, and house fires are preventable. Consider using battery powered candles. If you use real candles, place them in pet safe places and watch them carefully. Never leave them unattended.

Many holiday foods and drinks can make your pet sick. Indulging in your pet’s begging can result in his or her upset stomach or even pancreatitis ( a painful condition that causes vomiting and diarrhea). Our pets aren’t accustomed to eating fatty foods like turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes. Small amounts of turkey (white meat only and no bones) and plain vegetables are usually alright as long as they are shared in moderation. However, it is best to ask your guests to refrain from feeding your pet. If you are a guest, don’t feed your host’s pet.Some pets may try to take a sip of a beer, wine, hot chocolate, or eggnog. Chocolate is poisonous to your pets and alcohol poisoning can occur quickly, so keep drinks out of reach, too.

Check out our page regarding poisonous foods and plants on our website. Take a few moments to check your home for possible holiday hazards and you and your pets will enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!