All posts by Admin


You’ve heard about the human obesity epidemic and it’s time to talk about feline obesity.  Indoor cats are much more likely to be overweight than their outdoor cousins, and with most of our patients living in small apartments, we see A LOT of fat cats.

We also live with them–and know just how hard it can be to  get them to slim down!  Below are our top tips for helping get your chubby kitty down to a healthy weight.

  • Choose the right food — choosing a food with the right calorie density and enough fiber to keep your cat full will make portioning much easier, and allow for the occasional treat, too.  This is the same as if we chose to eat salads instead of cookies when on a diet.
    • Many food brands offer a “weight management”, “healthy weight”, or “reduced calorie” option for cats; try switching to this version to reduce calorie intake
    • Some cats benefit from a prescription weight loss diet, with more restricted calories than over the counter options . The benefits of these diets include being able to feed larger portions without increasing calories (especially helpful for destructive cats!)
    • Try canned food instead of  dry — the same calories come in a larger volume in canned food, helping keep your cat satiated longer


  • Feed the right portion — an appropriate portion for the average indoor cat would be 1/4 cup dry food or 3 oz canned food, fed twice a day.  Obviously there is a range around this number, but it’s a good starting point
    • Be sure to make any  portion reductions GRADUALLY.  Cats don’t do well on a crash diet (it can cause liver disease), so don’t cut back by more than 10% per week
    • If your cat free feeds over the day, measure how much food you add to the bowl over 4 days.  Then measure how much is left at the end of this time, and divide the difference by the 4.  This will give you the average amount your cat eats each day.  Divide this amount into a breakfast and dinner portion, and go from there


  • Keep your cat busy — lower activity is the source of many indoor cat’s obesity, and a cat with time on her hands and an empty belly on her new diet is going to make her complaints heard.
    • Play time — dedicate 5 minutes twice a day to play with you cat.  Have her chase a toy or string, or provide toys she likes to wrestle with.
    • Add a bird feeder to your window — there are lots of clear bird feeders you can place on the outside of apartment windows to create a “cat TV” sure to keep you tabby occupied!
    • Place food in food-dispensing toys instead of into a bowl.  This will slow down eating AND increase activity to double the benefit!


  • Seek help — it’s not easy to get your cat to lose weight!  If you are doing the things above and your cat just isn’t losing weight, or if you feel like he is losing too much, ask for help!  We’re always happy to help our patients on the road to healthy weights.


Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

My Pet Had a Vaccine and Now…


You were at the vet this morning, or yesterday, your pet did great for her annual exam, and received one (or a few) vaccinations.  You came home, and things seemed pretty normal.  Now, your pet is hiding, quiet, and doesn’t want to eat.  What’s going on?

This may be a completely normal reaction to a vaccination.  Vaccines work by activating the immune system in order to build antibodies which allow the body to fight off infection if it is encountered in the real world.  This short period of immune system activation can make your pet feel sleepy, a little achy, and may decrease appetite for one to two days.  My own cat had vaccine boosters last week, and for the next 36 hours he was not quite himself.  He was much quieter than normal, tender where he had the vaccines, and only ate half his normal portions.  By 48 hours after the vaccine, he was back to knocking our valuables onto the floor and teasing the dogs.

Think about when you receive vaccines — after a tetanus booster, our arms are sore for a few days, and after an influenza vaccine we tend to feel under the weather for a day.

There ARE some pets (and people) who have ABNORMAL reactions to vaccines.  These can range from grossly exaggerated versions of the above to true anaphylactic allergic reactions, and need to be treated.  Below are a list of normal and abnormal signs your pet may exhibit.  If you see abnormal signs, call us immediately. If you think your pet is having an anaphylactic reaction, seek immediate medical attention, either with us or at the local emergency veterinarian.

  • Mild lethargy (quiet, low energy, not interacting like normal) — NORMAL
  • Decreased appetite, ranging to complete loss of appetite for up to 24 hours after the vaccine was administered — NORMAL
  • Tenderness at the site of injection — NORMAL
  • Mild limp on the leg(s) where injections were given — NORMAL for 1-2 days; if the lameness persists beyond this, call our office for advice
  • Small bump at the site of injection — NORMAL
  • Large, very painful swelling at the site of injection — ABNORMAL, call our office!
  • Vomiting multiple times within a few hours of the vaccine — ABNORMAL, seek immediate medical attention, this may be an anaphylactic reaction!
  • Facial swelling within a few hours of the vaccine — ABNORMAL, seek immediate medical attention, this may be an anaphylactic reaction!
  • Soft stool for 1-2 days after vaccines and/or deworming administered — NORMAL
  • Diarrhea (liquid stool) within a few hours of the vaccine — ABNORMAL, seek immediate medical attention, this may be an anaphylactic reaction!

Pets having immediate, severe reactions to vaccines need to be treated by a veterinarian.  These reactions are very rare, but can be life-threatening.  For pets who have experienced these reactions, we will discuss options for providing disease protection in the future and plan how to keep your pet safe.

Let us know how your pet reacted to vaccines when we check in — we may adjust how we vaccinate your pet in the future, even if the reaction fell into the normal range.  Our goal is always to provide maximum disease protection, while keeping your pet happy and healthy.


If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s vaccination status, previous reactions, or need to bring your pet in, please contact us at (212)222-1221 or via our website at


Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

Alphabet Soup — Decoding Dog Training Certifications


You’ve decided to hire a dog trainer — congrats!  This is going to be enormously helpful for you and your dog.  As you talk to friends and get recommendations, then look online, you are probably noticing an enormous array of titles and certifications (and lots and lots of letters!).  Not all certifications are created equal, so we’ve tried to break them down for you below.


There are four titles you are likely to see in your search.  They have specific definitions you should be aware of, and are not always linked to certification:

(1) Trainer — anyone who works training dogs in any capacity may call him or herself a trainer.  There are some excellent certifications available, but not all trainers will have them.  Experience is extremely important, but most skilled and knowledgeable trainers will maintain high level certifications, and we recommend only working with certified trainers.

(2) Behavior consultants —  individuals with this title have completed coursework and had their knowledge (and sometimes skills) assessed by a certification body.  They often work with dogs with problem behaviors and are a critical part of any behavior modification plan.

(3) Behaviorists — individuals with degrees (Masters or PhD) in animal behavior.  They may or may not have specific training in applied behavior modification for pets.

(4) Veterinary Behaviorist — board certified veterinary specialists, the equivalent of a psychiatrist in humane medicine.

Certifications (please note — there are TONS of certifications; below is a list of the ones we see most often in NYC, with brief descriptions of when this certification may be appropriate for your needs)

Training (i.e. teaching manners and appropriate behavior)

  • CDTCertified Dog Trainer
    • Basic level certification; appropriate for basic obedience training.
  • CDTACertified Dog Trainer, Advanced
    • Builds upon the CDT, requires 5 years experience
  • CPDT – KACertified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed
    • Indicates that a dog trainer has passed a comprehensive exam and has at least 300 hours of dog training experience
  • CPDT – KSACertified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge and Skills Assessed
    • Indicates that a dog trainer has passed a comprehensive exam and an objective skills-based assessment along with at least 300 hours of dog training experience

High Level Training and Behavior Modification (i.e. addressing problem behaviors, anxiety, aggression, etc.)

  • CBCC – KACertified Behavior Consultant Canine
    • Indicates that a dog behavior consultant has passed a comprehensive exam on behavior modification and has at least 500 hours of of dog behavior consulting experience
    • This is a good base level of certification for anyone you work with to address problem behaviors
  • CDBCCertified Dog Behavior Consultant
    • Individuals who have completed 150 hours of coursework on animal behavior and modification, 500 hours of experience dealing with problem behaviors, demonstrated knowledge of scientific and practical knowledge, and maintain continuing education in the field
    • ACDBC is the Associate version, and is a step for many trainers on the path to full certification
    • This is an excellent certification for an individual you intend to work with on problem behaviors
  • DVM (or VMD, BVMS):
    • General practice veterinarian (e.g. Uptown Vets’ own Dr. Obernesser and Sullivan-Wolff), will assess your pet for medical conditions that may be linked to problem behaviors, offer recommendations, liaise with trainers, and prescribe medications for some conditions.
    • Working with a general practitioner veterinarian will not replace the need for behavior modification training, but may be a helpful addition
  • DACVB:
    • Highest level of certification — indicates a board certified veterinary specialist who has completed veterinary school and a residency, passed board exams, and practices exclusively working with behavior issues; these individuals are the veterinary equivalent of psychiatrist, and able to prescribe both behavior modification programs and medications.
    • Ideal for dogs facing severe behavior problems.

Ultimately, there are lots of approaches to training, and there is no one-size-fits-all option.  However, the more education, training, and experience a professional has, the more likely he or she is to quickly assess what WILL work for your dog and adapt programs.  Spending months working with someone unqualified to address your pet’s needs will be both frustrating and expensive.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your pet’s behavior or training needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.  Between our own pets and those of our wonderful clients, we have worked with lots of trainers, consultants, and specialists in NYC and can help you find the right fit.

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

Back to School for Puppies, Too!


Fall is fast approaching, kids are back in school, classes have started, and WINTER IS COMING!  What does this time of year mean for dogs?  Well, it’s a perfect time to focus on training.

For families who got a new puppy this summer, your pup is probably about done with vaccinations (or getting close), and will be heading to the dog runs, out with a dog walker, and spending longer days at home while your family’s schedule returns to normal.  For adult dogs, the end of hot muggy weather means the return of endless four–legged energy.  And the distant threat of winter means now is a good time to lay the groundwork for indoor activities to keep your pup busy when long walks are miserable for  her human companions.

Some good options to pursue this Fall are listed below:

(1) Puppy classes — a great resource for new puppies and new dog owners, these will provide both socialization and obedience training.  They are a great first step for any puppy.

(2) One-on-one training — you may want to book a few of these with a qualified trainer (see our post on how to evaluate a trainer’s certifications) if you have specific concerns about your pet, or have specific skills you want to focus on.  This may also be a great way to get multiple family members involved in your dog’s training!

(3) Toys, toys, toys — this is a great time to try out new toys that can be your dog’s “boredom  busters” during longer days at home and in cold months when long trips to the park are harder.  A few favorites of ours include the following (be sure to watch your pet closely with any new toy to make sure it is safe for him!):

  • Tuffy — these play toys are ranked form 1-10 on a “tuff” scale, and are a great option for strong chewers.  As a bonus, their squeakers are quiet and don’t induce migraines for pet owners.
  • Kong — probably the best known food-stuffing toy, and still a great option for keeping your pet busy.  Try feeding meals by putting kibble in one of these instead of a bowl and watch your dog burn energy fast.
  • PetSafe — this company makes a huge range of toys and more; they make products for cats and dogs, and many of their toys are our own pets’ favorites.

(4) Crate training — crates (also called kennels) are an incredibly versatile tool.  If your pet is happy being in a crate, you can use it to make her day safer while you are out of the house, travel easier in a vehicle, and boarding and vet stays less stressful.  See our post on crate training for more information.

Harlem is SUPER lucky to have two great resources for training dog (aka training their humans!) of all ages — Instinct Dog Behavior and Training, and Doggedly Devoted.  Both Drs. Obernesser and Sullivan-Wolff have worked with both facilities with their own dogs and can give you more insight as to how they may benefit your pooch.

If you have concerns regarding your own dog’s behavior or training needs, please contact us so we can help!

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

Getting Your Cat to the Vet


This weekend I brought my own animals into Uptown Vets to update their vaccines.  I had the humbling experience of being the client for once, and want to let all of you know that you are not alone!  Getting your pets to the vet for an annual exam is not the easiest NYC adventure, no matter how important it is.

As I sat in the car, petting my cat in the carrier, hoping to calm him and stop the crying, I flashed through advice I give clients and that I should have listened to myself.  So — here are the tips I should have followed, and that you can use for your next visit:

(1) Make the carrier part of normal life for your cat — just like crate training a dog, you can carrier train your cat.  Keep it out in the apartment and make it an inviting spot for your cat — put toys, treats, and a small comfy blanket in it.  Your cat can get used to it as a normal cat-friendly item instead of a smells-like-the-creepy-storage-unit-and-looks-like-a-torture-chamber box.

(2) Help your cat relax in the carrier — two tricks that can make a BIG difference:

  • Catnip —  if your cat likes catnip (some cats get amped up and kind of crazy with it — these cats probably shouldn’t have catnip for travel!), sprinkle some in the carrier before putting your cat inside.  Bring some extra for the trip, and ask for more at our office (we have TUBS of the stuff in our feline exam rooms) if needed.
  • Feliway — this synthetic pheromone will help your cat feel at home in the carrier, even with other smells around.  It comes in handy aerosol sprays that you can apply  to the inside of the carrier or a blanket you place inside; spray it 10-15 minutes before your put your cat inside to allow any solvents to evaporate (you can purchase these canisters easily at our office or online).

(3) Take short excursions with your cat — imagine if you lived in a one bedroom apartment for your whole life, and then once a year you were swept into a bag and taken through the loud, smelly streets of NYC, possibly even into a loud, swaying train car, and exposed to extreme heat or cold, then put on a weird metal table and poked.  You would freak out when put in that bag each year.  Once your cat is used to the carrier (see tip #1), start taking mini-trips with him.  Initially it might just be into the hall  and back, then to the front door of your building and back, slowly building up to a walk around the block.  Make it a positive experience by slowly building up the level of adventure, and providing lots of treats, and maybe play time with a favorite toy at the end.

(4) Your cat might need medication to help! — if you’ve tried the three things above for a few weeks and your cat is still freaking out for a visit to the vet, it might be worth talking to us about medications.  There are three things we might be able to do:

  • Anti-nausea medication — lots of cats get motion sick in carriers and vehicles, and anxiety itself can cause nausea.  Feeling sea-sick never made an experience more fun.
  • Calming supplements — Zylkene is a calming supplement developed for cats that tastes good, and can be mixed into their food.  We can give you specific directions on the safe doses to administer and how to time them for maximum effect.
  • Anti-anxiety medications — some cats will ultimately benefit from a dose of a prescription anti-anxiety drug.  These are reserved for extreme situations, but may well be worth discussing with us if you have tried all the above and your cat is still panicking.
  • (Please note that we can only prescribe medications for pets we have seen for a full exam within the last 365 days.  If your cat is overdue for an annual exam, we will need to see your pet before providing any of the above.)

If you have concerns about your cat’s travel needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (212)222-1221.


Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

DIY Dog Biscuit Recipes


It’s National Dog Biscuit Day, and we’ll be making some homemade treats for our own pooches.  Read below for a few yummy recipe ideas to get you started.

***Remember that many human foods are dangerous for our pets and be sure to avoid chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocado (and other toxic ingredients) when baking for your dog!***


Peanut Butter Chicken Biscuits — these sound pretty gross for people, but amazing for dogs.  Be sure to use cinnamon and not nutmeg (it’s toxic for dogs).


Flaxseed and Wheat Germ Biscuits — these are going to be a little less calorie dense than peanut butter or cheese treats, and blander for pups with sensitive digestion!


Cheddar Apple Sauce Treats — probably a sure bet to win over your pup!  High fat cheese can sometimes upset tummies, so feed these in moderation.


Carrot Apple Cookies — These are a great lower calorie, and low fat option for dogs watching their waistlines.


We hope your pooches enjoy these yummy treats!!!


Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

Love Stories of How Our Pets Found Us


In this mini-series, members of the Uptown family share how their furry families came to be.

Dr. Sullivan and Bonnie


I had just moved to New York and started my first position as an associate veterinarian.  I knew a few people, but was lonely after leaving most of my friends behind in a transatlantic move.

I found Bonnie at a rescue group in Manhattan that works with ACC (Animal Care and Control) to help adopt as many of their animals as possible.  She was a mess, with a mange infection leaving her substantial ears balding and scabbed, severely underweight, and of unknown breed.  I told the rescue staff I didn’t want a white dog, I didn’t want a pit mix, and I didn’t want a pet with health issues (I knew I’d be adopting plenty of those down the line!).  Boy oh boy was I wrong about what I wanted.  They brought Bonnie out and I melted.  She was all about meeting people, and remarkably calm for a puppy.  She wanted nothing more than to curl up in a willing lap.


I met a half dozen dogs that day, but she stole the show.   After a quick test confirmed she was friendly with cats, I adopted her.  I was so new to NYC that I was still learning how to get around the city, and carried her, along with her crate, through Chinatown, onto the subway, and a mile across Brooklyn to my apartment.

Over the next three years, she saw me through a whole lot.  A few job searches, dating in NYC (wow! someone should have warned me about this one before I moved here!), making new friends, and exploring the city.  We ended up lost more than a few times together, and she always stuck with the adventure until we were home.  She gave me an excuse to go to the park every morning, and a reason to talk to new people over coffee and fetch.


She has always been an incredibly trusting and loving dog.  One night, playing in fresh snow, she sliced open her foot.  There was blood everywhere, and it must have hurt.  Because of the blizzard, I couldn’t get her to a hospital, and had to fix her up at home, without sedation or proper pain medication.  She let me clean her foot and wrap it all by myself, with no one to even hold her.  She just kept looking at me with her big eyes, seeming to say, “If you say I need to do this, I’ll do it.”  I think she feels that way a lot, and tolerates all sorts of ridiculous things (we tried to see if she would fit in an IKEA bag so we could take her on the subway.  While she does fit, to make a long story short–I would not advise traveling with your 50 lbs pit bull in an IKEA bag).  In return, she asks very little: fetch every morning in the park, snuggles on the couch if it’s cold out, and a new toy to destroy once in a while.


I think all pets are special, but some even more so than others.  We each have a few “pet soul mates” over the course of our lives, and Bonnie is certainly one of mine.  Our furry family has now expanded to include a cat, another dog (Bonnie’s best friend!), and a less furry man (my best friend).  Our menagerie has made NYC feel like home for this transplant, and I wouldn’t be here without all the hours Bonnie and I spent together those first few months in the city.

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

Love Stories of How Our Pets Found Us


In this mini-series, members of the Uptown Vets family share how their furry families came to be.


Julie and Rahja


I rescued by fur baby Rahja (now 11 years old) when he was 6 months old from Nashville, TN.  He and his siblings were brought into the boarding facility where I was working at the time to keep them out of a shelter.  The minute I saw him, it was love at first sight and I had to have him in my life.  He went from being a little bully with his siblings to the biggest love, winning over the hearts of many.  He currently has two kitty siblings and three human siblings at home, all of whom adore him.


Rahja has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life, knowing exactly what is needed at that specific time, whether it be letting me hug the mess out of him when I need a good cry or just sitting quietly near by, providing support.


It’s funny how much his personality has changed over the years, going from a crazy, out of control puppy, to a well mannered adult, and now on to an “I can do whatever I want and don’t have to listen to you” attitude in his older years.   His favorite thing in the world is to go hiking with his friends Lola and Niela.  He has a hard time leaving them when it’s time to come home, and is mopey, sleeping for a good two days straight afterwards.


My baby was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago, and is starting to go blind in one eye, yet you would never know it.  He is as joyful today as he was when he was six months old.  Rahja has brought so much joy to not only my life, but to those who have gotten to know him throughout the years.  He is one amazing boy!!


Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

Cat Gift Guide 2015


Earlier this week we reviewed some of our favorite dog and dog-lover gifts, and it’s time for the cats to have their turn!  Below we’ve listed some of our gift suggestions that are sure to be a hit.


Gifts for Cats

  • Cat Tree — a good way to enrich your cat’s environment, provide a safe hiding space, and encourage exercise.  Try trees designed for larger cats, that fit into small NYC apartments, and modern designs that avoid the cheap carpet look altogether!
  • Cat Exercise Wheel — to be honest, I included this because it was just too good a video not to include it.  But hey, maybe someone out there is looking for exactly this and has a cat who would be into it!  The model cat is certainly having a blast!!!

Gifts for Cat Lovers

  • Take them out! — NYC has it’s own cat cafe (open Thurs-Tues), where you can get your friend for a kitty cuddle with a cup of coffee.  They even offer gift cards, cat toy-making workshops, and a yoga with kitties class!
  • Paw Print — this will work best if you actually live with the cat in question, but I love this idea so much I would not be opposed to you sneaking in to get the needed prints.  Personalized jewelry (and keychains, prints, etc) are now available based on specific paw prints!  You may need to cache this idea for next year, or a birthday, but these are great presents!
  • Memorial — if a friend lost a beloved pet this year, she will be especially missed at the holidays.  Sometimes the most supportive thing you can do is let your friend know you remember, too.  We’re cutting it close for personalized items, but there are plenty of ready-to-ship options to choose from, including  art,  ornaments, and household items.   If you have a picture of your friend with his cat, simply framing it can be a heart warming gift.


If your cat (or a friend’s cat!) hasn’t been in for a check up in a while, he is in good company. Many cats only see the vet when they are sick.  Think about making your cat’s Christmas present one of a clean bill of health–schedule an appointment for an annual exam, so we can check him out and make sure he is ready to attack your feet in bed, keep your apartment mouse-free, and snuggle up for netflix night all next year.


Happy Holidays from all of us at Uptown Vets!


Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –

Dog Gift Guide 2015


It’s time to stop procrastinating and get your presents in order!  If you’re in need of inspiration, here’s our gift guide for dogs and dog-lovers alike, that goes beyond the food bowl-and-tennis ball options.  (Never fear, feline-friendly fans!  Check back in 2 days for our cat and cat-lover gift guide.)

Gifts for Dogs

  • Interactive Feeders — just like us, dogs prefer to engage their brains, and mealtime is no different.  Try out a feeding board, food dispensing toy, or puzzle as a new approach to meal times! (note: avoid using these in dogs who guard food, or with multiple dogs around)
  • Coats — it’s finally getting cold in NYC this year, and your pooch may be in need of new layers!  Check out our previous post, discussing how to choose the right coat for your dog.
  • Fun Classes — dogs are genetically geared to work, and every breed has it’s speciality.  As cliche as it sounds, signing your dog up for a class is the gift that keeps giving!  Many good trainers in the area run obedience, rally, and even scent-detection classes where your dog will learn new skills, have a blast, and build an even stronger relationship with you.

Gifts for Dog Lovers

  • Classes — this idea is so good, I’m listing it twice.  If you have a loved one who is besotted with his pooch, now is a great opportunity to help them spend more quality time together.  As an added bonus, you won’t be filling up their apartment with more things they don’t need, and you’ll be treated to an even happier canine companion next time you visit!  If you aren’t sure the recipient is ready for a full-on class, you can arrange for a one-on-one training session, to get the ball rolling.
  • Air Purifier — lets face it–having a pet in NYC means lots of pet hair, dander, and smell in a small space.  No matter how diligent we are, the lingering Eau de Central Park is never quite gone.  Air purifiers made for this purpose are widely available and becoming much more affordable.  As a bonus, they’ll help deal with the less-than-ideal NYC air quality overall, and keep your friend’s lungs happy!
  • Memorial — if a friend lost a beloved pet this year, she will be especially missed at the holidays.  Sometimes the most supportive thing you can do is let your friend know you remember, too.  We’re cutting it close for personalized items, but there are ornaments, prints, and jewelry that can keep a lost pet’s memory alive.   If you have a picture of your friend with his dog, simply framing it can be a heart warming gift.

Aaaand this wouldn’t be a veterinary blog without a quick (even if it’s corny!) suggestion — the best gift we can give our pets is a happy and healthy life.  If your pet hasn’t been in for a check up in a while, this is a great season to schedule an annual exam.  We’ll be able to check out your furry family member from nose-to-tail, answer all of your questions about his wellbeing, and ensure another year of happiness.


Happy Holidays from everyone at Uptown Vets.


Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –