Category Archives: Resources

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   –

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   –

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.

Choosing a Scratching Post for Your Cat


We’ve all been in the scratching post aisle at the pet store (or online) and been overwhelmed with choices.  After much care, you purchase one and take it home, only to have your cat turn up her nose, walk over to the couch, and go to town.   Scratching is an important behavior that helps cats maintain healthy nails, and mark their territory.  Scratching may be more frequent in households with multiple pets, or recent changes (think new family members, rearranged furniture, new smells).  It is an important activity for indoor cats especially, who use it to help stretch and condition their muscles.

So how do you choose a scratching post your cat actually wants to use?

First things first, you’ll need to decide what kind of scratcher your cat is.  Does he prefer vertical or horizontal surfaces?  Does he gravitate toward the sisal rugs or the carpets?  Does he like the corner of objects or secluded areas of the house?  In general, cats tend to fall into one of two categories: (1) Rakers, or cats who like to drag nails along horizontal surfaces, often preferring natural fiber rugs and corrugated cardboard, and (2) Vertical scratchers, or cats who prefer to stand up and scratch.

Second, decide what type of scratching set up you want in the house.  There are some flexible surfaces that can be hung directly over a favorite scratching zone, cat trees with built in scratchers, and cardboard scratching posts, board, and lounges that can all be implemented.

Between these two sets of information, you can venture to your pet store or online with a better plan of attack.  Pick out a few options that fit your pet’s preferences and try them out.  Make sure vertical surfaces are tall enough for your cat to stand up and stretch out while scratching, or else they won’t be appealing.  Generally, it’s worth trying a disposable or inexpensive option initially to make sure you’ve correctly guessed your cat’s scratching desires before investing in more expensive options.  Adding catnip to the surface can also help get your cat interested in the new additions.

More companies have designed attractive scratching post (and cat tree) options in recent years, so don’t worry if a neon carpet stand doesn’t exactly fit into your home’s decor.  This is especially helpful when considering where these posts will be — they need to be where your cat likes to spend time and scratch!  Putting them in a far away corner won’t encourage her to use them.

If, despite all your hard work, your cat is still scratching objects you hold dear, you may need to consider alternatives.  Synthetic pheromone diffusers and sprays (brand name Feliway) can help reduce the urge to mark territory and reduce scratching.  Regular nail trims can also help.  Watch Cornell veterinary school’s video on how to safely trim nails at home.

If you are frustrated with scratching, you can also try soft rubber nail covers.  If you’ve been to our hospital, you’ve probably seen the hospital cats, Jimmy (featured in the photo above) and Eva, sporting their orange Soft Paws.  These disposable covers are easily glued onto the nails and prevent damage from scratching.  Make sure to continue regular nail trims if you are using nail covers to prevent ingrown nails.  You can always schedule a technician appointment at our office to have your cat’s nails trimmed and Soft Paws applied (be sure to bring your Soft Paws with you — they are easy to order online and come in really fun colors!).

We hope this helps next time you are purchasing a scratching post.  If you have more questions or concerns about your cat’s nails and health, please contact us!

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.