Category Archives: Dogs

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   –

Microchips — How they could save your pet



August 15, 2015 is National Check the Chip Day, an opportunity to make sure our pets are protected in case they go missing.  Even indoor pets in NYC are at risk of sneaking out when the door is open; in a city like ours, being lost on the street is a scary prospect.

Each year,  approximately 10 million and dogs and cats go missing, which translates to 1/3 of all pets being lost at some point in their life.  Only 1 in 5 dogs will be reunited with his or her family, and only 1 in 50 cats!

In June 2015, New York City’s Animal Care and Control (the city shelter) took in 391 stray dogs and 1266 stray cats.  30% of the dogs were reunited with their owners, and just 3% of the cats.


How can I improve my pet’s chances of being found?

  • Get your pet microchipped!

Dogs with microchips are twice as likely to find their way home, cats with microchips are 16 times more likely!  A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and can be inserted quickly while your pet is awake.  Contact us to set up an appointment to place one for your pet.

  • Register your pet’s microchip

Placing a microchip is half the process, the other half is registering it.  When a microchip is scanned, it provides a unique number, but no other information.  That number is listed in a worldwide database, and can be linked to your information.  Only half the microchips placed are ever registered, which means half these animals are still unlikely to make it home.

  • Maintain your registration

Whenever you move, change your number, or are unreachable, be sure to update your registration.  This way, if your pet is found by a vet or a shelter, the chip will be scanned, your information will be retrieved, and your pet will come home!


295 West 112th Street, New York, NY 10026

(212) 222 – 1221   —

Halloween Safety for Pets


We LOVE Halloween — delicious candy, fun costumes, and celebrations with friends.  Not all pets feel the same way, however.  In the time leading up to Halloween, take a few minutes to plan how you’ll handle the day (and the weekend) to minimize stress and risk to your furry family members in NYC.

1.  Pet Costumes — we can certainly appreciate a good pet costume (see the Uptown Vets Facebook page to enter your pets in our annual contest!), but they should be used with caution.  Not all pets are comfortable wearing them.  If this applies to your dog or cat, it’s probably best to skip the outfit.  Make sure any you do use fit properly, don’t have any pieces that your pet may ingest, and are only used when you can directly supervise your pet.  Never leave a pet in a costume unattended!

2. Human Costumes — some costumes are similar to normal clothing, but some may significantly change the way we look, or appear to move (think of a child in a spider costume, or a big box on a person), or even the way we sound (e.g. crinkly pieces and funny shoes).  All these changes can be scary for a dog (and cats!).  Just imagine if you lived in a world and suddenly all of its inhabitants were replace by a strange assortment of oddly shaped monsters!  Plan to walk your dog well before prime costume time.  This is especially true for any pets who already have anxiety about new people, places, or things.

(If your pet suffers severe anxiety, please consider bringing him or her in for us to discuss anti-anxiety medications that may be helpful.  We may need to do a trial run a few days early to make sure your pet does well on any medications, so be sure to make your appointment well in advance of Halloween, or other stressful events.)

3.  Parties — if you are planning to host a party, create a pet “safe space” where Fido and Fluffy can escape, if needed.  A quiet room or corner, with favorite toys or treats, and a warning for guests to leave stressed pets alone in this area will help your pets interact with guests when they are comfortable.  Make sure cats have high up places to go, where they can observe the action without feeling threatened.  Make sure any human treats are well out of your pets’ reach, too!

If you’re going out for the night, make sure your pet has a safe, comfortable place to spend the evening.  Consider leaving the TV or a radio on with conversation to help mask unusual noises from neighboring homes and the street.

4.  Candy — toxic ingestion of food and candy is common around any holiday, especially Halloween.  Remember that dogs cannot eat chocolate, raisins (even one raisin can be deadly!), grapes, coffee, or sugar free gums and candies.  Cats should not eat most of the same things, and are also at risk of ingesting flowers and plants that may be toxic.  Marijuana and other drugs and human medications can be deadly to pets.  If your pet has ingested any of the above, please call ASPCA Poison Control immediately (they will inform you if a trip to the vet is necessary, and tell you what to do in the first few minutes at home), and then contact us at Uptown Vets, or the closest emergency  veterinary service.

Halloween falls on a Friday this year, so be sure to plan ahead for the full weekend.  If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, don’t hesitate to contact us, and don’t forget to enter our Halloween costume contest!

Internet Pharmacies — the good, bad, and unknown facts


Every day we receive a couple dozen requests for prescription refills.  Requests range from wanting to pick medications up at our office, have them called in to human pharmacies, or from internet pharmacies.  We are happy to fill prescriptions as long as we are legally able, your pet is up to date on any required testing, and the medication is correct.  However, there’s more to pharmacies than meets the eye.

Medications dispensed directly from our in-hospital pharmacy are always guaranteed by the manufacturer.  This is important, especially for parasite preventatives.  If your dog is on a heartworm and intestinal parasite preventative dispensed by our office, and contracts one of these diseases, the manufacturer will cover any cost of additional diagnostics and treatment.

Online pharmacies come in two forms — those authorized on behalf of a veterinary office (e.g. VetStreet, which you can access through the Pet Portal on our website), and those acting independently.  Medications dispensed by VetStreet are covered by the same guarantees as those dispensed directly from us.  This is because we work directly with medication manufacturers to ensure the safe supply and approved dispensing of these medications — there are no middle men.

Independent online pharmacies may or may not be reputable.  Some of them carry medications purchased through back channels, and none of the products sold through these sites are guaranteed by the manufacturers.  This means that if the products fail to work, the manufacturer will not reimburse you for any treatments required.  In some cases, the medications or foods sold through them may also be counterfeit.  Many pharmacies are working to prevent this, but as the products are purchased through third parties, it is harder to verify their authenticity.  Similarly, manufacturers are unlikely to guarantee preventatives purchased over the counter at third party stores.

Human pharmacies can be a valuable asset for your pet’s medications.  They may carry medications that are used more frequently for human patients, and which are not regularly stocked in a veterinary pharmacy.  However, they rarely carry veterinary-specific products (many of the medications we use are not used in human medicine or have a different formulation), and any veterinary-specific products they do stock are not covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee.

From time to time, we also run into difficulties with prescriptions being filled externally with incorrect instructions or incorrect warnings applied.  The side effects, dosing, and nomenclature are all different between human and veterinary medicine.  Human pharmacists usually receive no training in veterinary pharmacology (only veterinarians receive formal instruction), so are often unaware of differences.  The computer systems used by human pharmacies are also set up to deal with information from human doctors, but do not have any way of accommodating veterinarian prescriptions, so there are occasional clerical errors.

Ultimately, when deciding where to have your prescriptions filled, consider the following:

(1) Will your product be guaranteed by the manufacturer?  If the medication fails to prevent a disease (e.g. heartworm, intestinal parasites) or to treat one properly, do you want to have the cost of any additional diagnostics and treatments reimbursed?

(2) Does the pharmacy carry the medication or food you are looking for?  Do they have experience dispensing for veterinary patients and understand the difference between feline or canine patients and human ones?

(3) Are you interested in rebate offers or “buy X, get Y free” offers?  These are usually provided by manufacturers for medications dispensed through veterinary hospitals’ pharmacies in order to ensure you can buy guaranteed product without sacrificing on price.

Wherever you decide to have prescriptions filled, please double check all labels to make sure they reflect the instructions your veterinarian described to you.  Make sure the source is guaranteeing the product was sourced directly from a manufacturer, not through a third party.  Make sure your pet is up to date on any testing recommended, and has had a comprehensive physical exam with one of our doctors within the last year to ensure we are allowed to approve prescriptions right away.

We aim to address all prescription refills within one business day of their receipt, whether requested by phone, our website, via email, your Pet Portal, or another source.  If we have any concerns or need to update your pet’s care before dispensing the medication, our office will contact you within one day.  Please plan a few days ahead to make sure we can continue medications without interruption.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your pet’s prescription(s), please contact us.  We’re always happy to discuss different options with you to make sure you are 100% comfortable.

Canine Influenza Virus


We’ve been hearing rumors of an outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in the city.  After researching and reaching out to the NYC veterinary community, here is what we know:

A veterinary office in lower Manhattan reported that a boarding facility they work with had closed temporarily to disinfect the premises after the outbreak was detected.  No definitive test results are available to confirm or deny whether this was an outbreak of CIV.

The big question is whether or not our pets are at risk of exposure to CIV, and if we should take additional precautions.  CIV is a respiratory infection, which can cause severe symptoms and is highly infectious.  The risk of outbreaks is higher in densely populated areas such as NYC, where dogs interact regularly on the street, at parks, and at daycare, boarding, and grooming facilities.

Symptoms of CIV include coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, anorexia, and fever.  You can read more about CIV from the CDC’s website, and watch a short video on it here.

At Uptown Vets, we carry and regularly use a vaccine against the CIV virus.  While it is not considered a core vaccine, more and more boarding, grooming, and daycare facilities are requiring it as a precaution.  The vaccine is given as a series of two injections,  administered 14-28 days apart, then boostered annually.  Dogs are fully protected against the virus 7 days after the second dose is administered.

If you are interested in vaccinating your dog for CIV, please call us or request an appointment.  If you believe your pet is experiencing symptoms of CIV, please seek immediately medical attention.

Travelling with Pets this Labor Day


Travelling with your pet this holiday weekend?  Consider these tips to make the trip easy for the whole family, human and furry:

(1) Make sure it is safe for your pet to come on your trip — will there be appropriate accommodations at your destination?  Will the travel arrangements be comfortable and safe for your pet?  Does your pet do well travelling, or would he/she be happier at home with a pet sitter?  Be especially careful when considering air travel with your pet–this can be dangerous, especially in summer months.  When pets travel in cargo, they are exposed to extreme environmental conditions.

(2) Train your pet to be happy travelling — take time in the weeks (and months) leading up to your trip to work on using the carrier/crate for extended periods of time and in a variety of settings that mimic your trip.  Be sure training sessions are low stress, full of fun treats/toys, and always end on a high note.  This will be the most effective way to ensure a low stress journey on the day of travel!

(3) Plan ahead — make sure to bring enough of your pet’s normal food to last the entire trip, or be sure you can purchase the same food at your destination.  Sudden diet changes can lead to an upset stomach and more stress for your pet.  Don’t forget favorite blankets, toys, and a safe place for your pet to stay confined if need be (such as a large enough kennel or crate with good ventilation).   Bring enough of any necessary prescriptions to last through the trip; if you will run out while away, request refills several days before travelling.  Find out if you need any travel documents (vaccine certificates, health certificates) and schedule time to collect them a few days before your trip.

(4) Be prepared in case of emergency — look up veterinarians along your route and at your destination that are open 24 hours a day.  Most areas have a local emergency service, or on call service, if needed.  Make sure your pet is microchipped in case of escape, and keep your registration information up to date.  Bring a recent photo of your pet.

(5) Prepare your car (or carry on bag) for your pet passenger(s) — bring food and water for the trip, comfortable bedding, a good toy (and for cats, think about catnip and calming pheromone sprays), and turn on child locks to prevent inadvertent escapes!

(6) If you have any specific concerns regarding your pet and travel, get in touch with your veterinarian ( as early as possible.  We’re happy to help you make a travel plan that works for your family, but some plans may take a few days to put in place.