Start 2018 Off on the Right Paw with Training

training-dog-chew-destructive-shoeJanuary is National Train Your Dog Month. Training your dog to be a well-behaved canine citizen promotes safety and strengthens the bond you share. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) has created an entire website specifically to help pet owners do exactly that.

Here’s a sample of the resources you can access through their site: 

Training for Dogs that Bark Excessively 

Dogs bark for many reasons – if they feel threatened, if they feel playful, if they want attention, if they are in pain, or if they are lonely, bored, or stressed. For every reason a dog barks, careful training can help an owner determine the cause and teach the dog appropriate behaviors. 

Training for Dogs that are Afraid of Storms and Fireworks 

Watching a dog tremble with fear during a storm will tear at the heart of any dog owner. And if the dog’s fear gets to be too much, it can lead to destructive behavior and even aggression. For these dogs, training can focus on lessening the dog’s fear through desensitization therapy, soothing the dog with massage or with tools such as a “ThunderShirt” that help it feel safe, redirecting the dog’s focus, or even using certain homeopathic remedies or essential oils.  

Training for Dogs that Chew Destructively 

Dogs chew for one or more of three reasons: teething (yup, just like babies!), boredom, or separation anxiety. Training for chewing that’s getting out of hand can include providing alternatives such as durable and interesting chew toys, using baby gates or crate training to limit the dog’s access to tempting items, and ensuring your dog is getting exercise for his body and his mind.   

For More Information 


Tips for Safe Travel with Your Pet

national-pet-travel-safety-dayJanuary 2 is National Pet Travel Safety Day! Here at Liberty Animal Hospital, we’ve only met a few dogs that don’t jump (literally) at the chance to go for a ride in the car. Cats seem to be a lot less excited, and some of them actively dislike it. We know you love your pets. And if your pets ride in the car with you (willingly or not), we know you’ll be interested in keeping them safe and as happy as they can be on those trips. Here’s how: 

Keep Your Pets In by Keeping Your Windows Up 

We know. Dogs LOVE to stick their heads out of windows. So. Many. Smells! But they can get hit in the eye or the face with road debris such as rocks and gravel tossed up by passing cars. Or a distracted driver (or motorcyclist or even bicyclist) in the next lane could weave too close to your car and sideswipe your pooch with a side mirror, handlebar, or elbow. And if your dog is overly reactive to the sight of other dogs, you might learn the hard way that a large dog actually *can* squeeze himself right out the window before you have a chance to react. The safest choice is to keep the windows up; if you must roll them down for fresh air, roll them down no more than 2 inches. 

Restrain Your Pets with a Car Harness, Travel Crate, or Seatbelt Car Leash 

Unsecured pets – even those that love to be in the car – can be a hazard to themselves as well as to the driver and passengers. Picture an excited dog bounding from the back seat to the front and back again. How could that NOT be distracting to the driver? It’s likely uncomfortable for front-seat passenger as well. The same is true for an uncomfortable pet that dislikes car trips and expresses its displeasure by being vocal, mobile, or both. Finally, if you have to slam on the brakes, your unsecured pet becomes a projectile. Your pet can be badly or fatally injured, and can cause injuries to you if you are in its path. Side note: the metal “separators” that mount inside your car to confine your pet to the back seat are not a solution. In a sudden stop, your pet will fly into that hard metal.) A proper car harness will hold your pet firmly and will attach to the seat belt. Typically less expensive than car harnesses are travel crates. The least expensive option is a special short leash with one end that clips to your pet’s collar and another that clips into the seatbelt latch. 

Bring Food and Medicine for Your Pets; Schedule Stops for Pottying and Water 

Just because you can drive for hours on end without a rest stop, meal, or refreshing beverage doesn’t mean your pet can. Always carry water and a water bowl, no matter how short your trip. For longer trips, be sure to have food and any needed medicine for your pet. Schedule stops every 2-3 hours so you and your pet have a chance to answer nature’s call, have a snack and some hydration, and stretch your legs. 

Never, Never, Never Leave Your Pets Unattended in the Car 

It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Don’t do it. Temperatures inside of your car can climb to deadly levels faster than you can imagine. Even if your car is parked in the shade. Even if you leave the windows rolled down. Even if it’s “not that hot outside.” Even if “you’ll only be a minute.” Don’t.  

For More Information 


Yes! Your Pets Can Share in Your Thanksgiving Celebration

We’re all for pets sharing in Thanksgiving celebrations…but this isn’t exactly what we had in mind.

Yes! Your Pets Can Share in Your Thanksgiving Celebration

You see the warnings every Thanksgiving about what not to feed your pets. “Your pets can’t have this!” “Keep your pets away from that” We’d bet we’re not the only ones who are sooooo tired of seeing these warnings around Thanksgiving and other holidays. Don’t get us wrong. It’s absolutely important to keep your pet safe – not just during the holidays, but always.

But you love your pet. In fact, he or she is one of the things you’re thankful for. So we understand the desire to share your holiday bounty with them. Not only do we support that instinct…we’re going to help you indulge it, SAFELY.

Here’s What’s Safe for Pets

Responsible owners know that poultry bones, chocolate, onions, and garlic are on the Naughty list for pets. So are some foods you might not have thought of – nuts, bread dough, and alcohol. But there are plenty of foods on your holiday table that are just fine for Fido and Fluffy in the right amounts.

Safe foods include:

  • Roast turkey (no skin)
  • Roasted, baked, or boiled sweet potatoes (peeled; no butter or seasoning)
  • Pumpkin (flesh only roasted or baked with no butter or seasoning; canned pureed pumpkin – not pumpkin pie mix)
  • Apples
  • Bite-sized carrots
  • Steamed green beans (no butter or seasoning)
  • Brown or wild rice (no butter or seasoning)

Portion Control is Key

Just as with humans, too much of a good thing is too much. Regardless of where the calories are coming from – their regular food or a holiday meal – it’s important to keep calories in mind. These references from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association are a good reference for adult animals in good health and at an appropriate weight:

If your pet is over- or under-weight or has health issues, calorie needs will differ, and certain foods may be off limits. In these cases, it is best to consult with a veterinarian.

Thanksgiving Recipes for Pets

The folks at PetPlan have put together a complete “Mutt’s Menu” with recipes to appeal to both dogs and cats. They include:

  • Pumpkin Smoothies (13 cal/serving)
  • Paws-Itively Peanutty Crudites (122 cal/serving)
  • Simple “Sorbet” (5-9 cal/serving)
  • Roasted Turkey Medalliions (17 cal/serving)
  • Sweet Potato Cookies (14 cal/serving)

At Entirely Pets, they offer “5 Delicious Thanksgiving Pet Recipes,” including:

  • Mini Muttballs
  • Turkey Treats
  • Puppy Meatloaf
  • SassyKat’s Special Dinner
  • Kitty Catnip Cookies

And if you still need pet holiday meal inspiration, check out the American Kennel Club and its “Easy-to-Make Pumpkin Recipes for Dogs”:

  • Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Treats
  • Pumpkin Puppy Muffins
  • Pumpkin Cookies

Ask Your Vet About Pet Nutrition

Proper pet nutrition is the cornerstone of healthy living for our furry friends. Your pets depend on you to make the right nutrition choices for them. Your vet is your best source of information, because he or she has the most knowledge about your pet’s health and medical conditions.

About Liberty Animal Hospital

Aris Atakem, DVM is the owner of Liberty Animal Hospital in Westminster, CO. He has worked in private practice since 2011 as an associate veterinarian, a mobile vet, and an emergency vet. He founded Liberty Animal Hospital in 2016. Dr. Atakem has both deep and broad experience in veterinary medicine, and has particular interest in orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries (including laparoscopic surgeries), arthritis, and obesity. He treats every pet he cares for as his own and is driven by the desire to contribute to human and animal wellbeing.

Do you have questions or concerns about pet nutrition? Or do you need a great local vet for your cherished companions? Schedule an appointment with Liberty Animal Hospital by calling us directly at 720-897-5595 or using our online appointment request form.


February is National Pet Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

How would you feel if you had these symptoms:

  • Really bad breath
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Lack of appetite, weight loss, and/or dropping food
  • Red, swollen, painful, bleeding gums

What if it was your 3 year-old child who was having these issues? You wouldn?t hesitate?you?d get the problems fixed and make sure to use good dental hygiene so you don?t have more problems in the future. Right?


Your pet?s dental health is no less important. Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease by age 3 (source: American Veterinary Medical Association, 2017)? That?s why we encourage every owner to have us regularly examine your pet’s teeth and perform regular professional dental cleanings.


February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Test your pet dental health knowledge with this true/false quiz:


  1. True or false — If my pet?s teeth aren?t discolored, I don?t need to worry about their dental health.
    1. False ? There?s much more going on below the gum line than you might think. Bacteria can harm the tissues that keep your pet?s teeth in place, and can even damage the jaw bone.
  2. True or false ? It?s too late now to try to get my pet to let me brush their teeth.
    1. False ? Although it?s best to begin a dental health routine when your pet is young, it?s never too late to start. It may take several weeks of gradual, consistent effort before your pet will tolerate a full brushing session. This short video from the American Veterinary Medical Association shows you step-by-step how to get started.
  3. True or false ? My pet doesn?t need anesthesia for a dental exam or cleaning.
    1. False ? We do check the overall appearance of your pet?s teeth during an annual exam. But because so much of dental disease occurs below the gum line, most often it is necessary for the animal?s comfort and safety to have their full dental exam (and cleaning, as needed) while under general anesthesia. We welcome your questions on this topic and will be happy to explain how we handle anesthesia in our practice.


Call us today at 720-306-9900 to schedule your pet?s dental health exam. And post a picture of your pet?s smile on our Facebook page; we?ll choose one lucky owner in February to receive $25 off their pet?s next dental exam.

Healthy mouth after dental
After Teeth Cleaning, Healthy Breath, Healthy Kisses!

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture (CrCL) in Dogs

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture (CrCLR) is the most common orthopedic condition affecting dogs in North America. This ligament is found in the knee and is known as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans. Large breed and very active dogs are more likely to get injured just as much as older and overweight pets. However, dogs of any age and breed can rupture their ligament in one or both knees. Some of them are more susceptible to this condition because of an abnormal conformation of their knee.

A torn CrCL makes the knee unstable and causes a significant amount of pain to the point that the dog will have trouble walking properly. If treatment is delayed for too long, the lack of stability in the joint will further damage other structures such as the meniscus (additional pain) and ultimately lead to osteoarthritis, which will further compromise the normal function of the knee. Dogs with a torn CrCL will naturally put more weight on the opposite limb to alleviate the pain but this adjustment will put excessive load on the healthy limb, and lead to a ruptured ligament on that leg as well. Thus, a unilateral CrCL rupture can lead to a bilateral CrCL rupture.

Surgery is the most effective long term treatment option for the condition. There are many surgical techniques including but not limited to: Extracapsular? Repair, Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) and Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO). At Liberty Animal Hospital, we can perform both the extracapsular repair and the TPLO.

With the extracapsular repair, a strong nylon band is used to stabilize the ligament-deficient knee and keep it from shifting back and forth. Over time, scar tissue forms and further stabilizes the joint. With this technique, pets must limit their activity for two to three months after surgery to allow proper healing. With the TPLO, the anatomy of the knee is literally reconstructed to allow proper biomechanical dynamics of the CrCL deficient knee to restore proper function. The TPLO is a solid construct. Pets that undergo a TPLO surgery tend to bear weight quicker on the affected limb as opposed to the extracapsular repair but the long term outcomes are about the same.

At Liberty Animal Hospital, our veterinarian will discuss with you the treatment option that best fits the size, anatomy and lifestyle of your pet, along with other factors that will help in recovery and early return to function. As usual, nothing is as perfect as ?mother nature?. It?s best to prevent injuries if possible by taking the necessary steps to prevent obesity, strenuous and uncontrolled exercise. But if injuries happen, we are here for you.

Liberty Animal Hospital serves pets and pet owners in Westminster, Colorado and the greater Denver area. Visit our website or give us a call at (720) 306-9900 to schedule a consultation to discuss CrCL injuries in your dog (s).