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Newsletter

The veterinarians and staff at Cats & Critters are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

Dog Spays - Answers To Common Questions

There is little in scientific literature that indicates any negative effects of spaying a dog. The most recent research conducted by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine indicates that spaying, even on very young puppies (perhaps as young as eight weeks of age) is safe, and that the dog recovers within a few days.

Aside from having puppies, non-spayed females are more susceptible to mammary gland tumors, uterine infections and ovarian diseases. After the ovaries are removed, vaginal estrous bleeding is no longer a concern. The dull and shaggy coat appearance that often occurs in some dogs during the estrus cycle seems to disappear. Pyometra (infections of the uterus), which are extremely common in non-spayed bitches and almost always require emergency surgery, do not occur. Mammary tumors that get large and multiply quickly occur much less frequently in spayed female dogs.

Behavioral effects

The behavioral effects of dog spays are only positive. The bitch does not go into estrus (heat), the time of the cycle when she is receptive to males. (In non-spayed female dogs, there are generally about two heat cycles per year.) Since estrus does not occur in spayed female dogs, there are no bloody secretions on the carpets, upholstery or throughout the house. Non-neutered male dogs are attracted to females in heat. These male dogs travel long distances in order to mate with a bitch in estrus. This creates a nuisance, as the male dogs are fairly aggressive and remain in the vicinity until the heat cycle is finished.

Male dogs are attracted to female dogs in heat.

Non-Neutered Male Dogs Are Attracted To Female Dogs That Are In Heat


Spaying does not really change the way a dog digests food. It does, however, affect the dog’s activity level. Non-spayed females have periods of greater activity during their estrus cycle. By removing the ovaries, as is done in an ovariohysterectomy (spaying), the female hormone levels are greatly reduced. Without the surge of estrus related hormones, there is no hormone-related increased activity level.

To make sure your dog does not become obese, it is necessary to regulate her diet and activity level. Adult dogs can have their rations cut back until you reach a point at which the dog maintains a stable weight. If this is insufficient, there are several good quality weight reducing dog foods that are available. Ask your veterinarian or a veterinary technician for a food that is right for your dog. Also, make sure your dog is exercised, even if it's for one long daily walk.

Psuedopregnancy

A normal, annoying, sometimes disappointing, and dangerous behavior pattern seen in unspayed female dogs is pseudopregnancy (also called false pregnancy or pseudocyesis). Pseudopregnancy is a condition that occurs slightly less than two months after estrus. The bitch develops enlarged mammary glands and an enlarged abdomen. She may even show typical "nesting" behavior associated with having puppies. Often, a stuffed toy or other inanimate object is taken to the "nest" and she appears to be protecting or even nursing it. Problems arise when she becomes aggressive or attacks a person or other animal whom she perceives as threatening her "offspring."

Pseudopregnancy is a false pregnancy seen in unspayed female dogs.

Pseudopregnancy Is A False Pregnancy Seen In Unspayed Female Dogs


The natural evolution and advantages associated with pseudopregnancy are still being debated. The most widely accepted theory is one that recognizes ancestral wolf behavior. In wolf packs, bitches who did not give birth to pups might act as the pups' "nursemaids." This particular behavior, as well as milk secretions, is associated with pseudopregnancy and results from production of the hormone prolactin. This is the same hormone that is produced during the final stages of a normal pregnancy. Thus, pseudo-pregnant behavior would prepare these nonpregnant bitches for their protective and nursing role. Obviously, for a dog that lives in a human household, and not in a pack, this behavior is inappropriate and undesirable.

Uterine infections are not uncommon in bitches that frequently experience pseudopregnancy. Once the pseudopregnant behavior has ceased, the bitch should be spayed in order to prevent this behavior as well as the infections from recurring.

Having your female dog spayed (ovariohysterectomy) is an inexpensive and realistic method of pet population control. The number of unwanted adult and young dogs that are euthanized each year in the United States is astounding. Aside from the pet overpopulation problem, spaying your female dog helps prevent — and even eliminates — medical problems associated with hormonal imbalances.

Care Of The Older Dog

Within the last few decades, advancements in veterinary medicine have caused a dramatic increase in the longevity of pets. Today, dogs, like humans, are living longer healthier lives. As a result of this increased longevity, a new branch of canine medicine has emerged called canine geriatrics.

Older Dogs Require More Care

Older Dogs Require Additional Care


The aging process can be defined as the time when deterioration takes place faster than regeneration or repair. When the aging process becomes greatly accelerated, this is known as the "geriatric stage."

Not all dogs age at the same rate. In general, the larger the dog, the earlier the geriatric stage occurs. St. Bernards and Great Danes age more rapidly and have shorter life spans than Poodles and Terriers. Certain breeds have a tendency to reach the geriatric stage earlier than others. This is true for the Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced breeds) - Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers. Aside from aging rapidly, the brachycephalic breeds do not age well. This is due to the respiratory problems associated with the anatomy of the face and head.

As a dog matures and reaches the geriatric stage, functional changes occur in most major organs and organ systems. Many of these changes can be anticipated and special care is required. Since each dog is unique, an individualized geriatric program must be discussed with your veterinarian.

Listed below are some functional changes that occur in geriatric dogs

General Metabolic Rate

A decreased metabolic rate is the primary change associated with the aging process. As a result, an older dog's diet must be altered. In general, compared to the diet of a young active dog, an older dog's caloric intake should be reduced by about 20%. This can be accomplished by increasing the amount of fiber in the diet. In general, diets specially formulated for senior dogs contain increased amounts of fiber.

Cardiovascular System

Heart disease is a major problem in geriatric dogs. In fact, 75% of dogs over 9 years of age have evidence of heart disease. Although this number is quite large, only about 25% of these dogs develop symptoms of heart failure during their lifetime.

The most common heart disease in older dogs is endocardiosis. Endocardiosis is a degenerative disorder of the heart valves. The valves of the heart become thickened and distorted, leaking blood to other chambers when the heart contracts. Four valves are present in the heart: the mitral valve, the tricuspid valve, the aortic valve, and the pulmonic valve. The mitral valve is most commonly affected.

Symptoms associated with heart failure include coughing, respiratory problems, fatigue, and exercise intolerance.

Medical management is often effective in controlling symptoms associated with heart disease. This includes reducing the amount and intensity of exercise, decreasing stress, lowering salt intake (homemade diets or special commercial low-salt diets), and administration of prescription medication.

Understanding How to Care for Geriatric Dogs Improves their Longevity

Understanding How to Care for Geriatric Dogs Improves their Longevity


Respiratory System

Tracheal Collapse in Small Dogs - This condition primarily occurs in toy and small breeds. This results from a weakening of the tracheal cartilage or the tracheal muscles. Obesity is a predisposing factor for tracheal collapse.

Bronchitis and Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - As dogs age, the normal elastic tissue of the lungs is replaced by fibrous tissue. This fibrous tissue decreases the capacity of the lungs to stretch. As a result, breathing becomes more difficult and less oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Small and toy breeds are predisposed to bronchitis and obstructive pulmonary disease.

Urinary System

As a result of the aging process, dogs' kidneys undergo degenerative changes. The kidneys normally filter waste material from the blood and concentrate urine. Older dogs' kidneys function less efficiently, and the ability to concentrate urine and eliminate waste products decreases. Symptoms associated with decreased kidney function include increased thirst, increased urine production weight loss, and occasional vomiting.

Kidney failure is a life-threatening disease of animals. It is one of the most common medical problems encountered in older dogs. Regular veterinary exams, along with blood tests, are extremely important for detecting early changes associated with kidney disease.

Bladder infections(cystitis) are also quite common in older animals. Straining during urination, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine are common symptoms associated with cystitis.

Dental Care

Periodontal disease (the progressive inflammation and destruction of supporting structures of the teeth) is an important cause of teeth loss in older dogs. Dental care is often neglected and should begin at an early age. Veterinary teeth cleaning is the first step in maintaining healthy gums and teeth.

Symptoms associated with advanced periodontal disease include bad breath, oral pain, and reluctance to chew food, and weight loss.

By combining regular veterinary visits with special home care, your dog can live a long healthy life. If your dog is approaching the twilight years, discuss blood testing and geriatric care with your veterinarian.

Children Can Help With Pet Care Tasks

Children should help with the responsibilities and tasks that are associated with having a pet. As adults though, we need to remember that children are children and adolescents are adolescents. It's very important to assign tasks that are appropriate with the child's age.

Here are some of the things you can expect

Toddlers - A toddler can help parents with pet care simply by being involved — "helping" a parent fill food and water dishes, grooming, going with parents to take the pet for a walk, or to the veterinarian. The toddler and young child can accompany the parent when he or she purchases the food, grooming supplies and other essential elements involved in pet care. The toddler can also give the dog a treat for good behavior, i.e. gets in bed or crate before family leaves the house. This special job is rewarding and enjoyable for both the dog and the toddler.

The 5-7 Year Old - The children in this age group are capable of doing some of the tasks above (feeding, watering, grooming) without parental help. Don't assume that children will automatically assume these responsibilities and that they will always remember to do them. Very often, a nice friendly reminder from mom or dad is required.

Children can help with some pet care tasks

The 8-12 Year Old - At this age, a child can feed, water and play with the pet alone (depending on the pet's temperament and area for exercising). Parents still need to supervise children in this age group for some tasks, like walking the dog. Before a child is 10-12 it's not advised that they walk a dog without adult supervision.

Helping with pets can teach a child responsibility

Teenagers - Depending on your teen's maturity, you can sometimes allow him/her to take full responsibility for the pet, including feeding, cleaning up after, driving to the vet and exercising the pet. Allowing the teen to take the dog to obedience classes can also be a good activity for both of them.

Do Cats Care About Their Owners?

A new study suggests that cats have little regard for their owners. Researcher Daniel Mills, a professor of Veterinary Behavior Medicine in the United Kingdom, says that while dogs form an attachment to their owners similar to the one children form with their parents, cats are more likely to see their owners as a provider of resources, not a provider of safety.



The experiment mimicked one performed in the 1970s, where children were briefly separated from their parents and then reunited. When the children saw the parents after the separation, they were immediately drawn to the parent in most cases. The experiment with dogs produced similar results. Cats, however, did not appear to care whether or not their owner was present. “Clearly cat owners love cats,” said Mills. “It’s difficult to say whether or not cats love back.”

VIDEO: Golden Retrievers May Hold the Answers in Canine Cancer

How do genetics, diet and environment influence the incidence of cancer and other diseases in our pets? To answer that question, Morris Animal Foundation created the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, the most groundbreaking observational study ever undertaken to improve canine health. Learn more in the video below!


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Halloween Tips, Treats and Tricks for Pets

When witches, ghosts and ghouls take to the streets in search of treats this Halloween, they'll have some furry friends by their side. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, about 7.4 million households celebrating Halloween plan to outfit their pet in a festive Halloween costume this year. Devils and pumpkins are the top choices for pet costumes, with witches, princesses and angels rounding out the list.

One in ten households will dress their dogs up for Halloween this year.

If you plan on letting your pet don a devilish disguise, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. First, make sure your pet wants to wear a costume! While some animals may not mind being outfitted with a pumpkin suit, others may experience extreme discomfort and stress while in costume. Try putting the costume on your pet in advance of the big night to make sure he or she is comfortable with it. And while your pet is out trick or treating, don't forget about the pets that may be coming to your house - keep a few dog treats by the door to hand out to any four-legged companions accompanying trick-or-treaters.

Whether your pet is dressed like a pumpkin or a dinosaur, make sure the costume allows for easy movement and is not restrictive or confining; however, also be on guard for costumes that drag on the ground. These costumes can get caught in doors or snag on other objects. If your pet's costume includes a mask, modify the eye holes so they are big enough to accommodate your pet's peripheral vision. A pet that can't see may experience increased stress and could become aggressive as a result.

Make sure your pet's costume allows for easy movement.

When the trick-or-treating is over and the treats are ready to be had, be sure to keep chocolate away from your dog. Any amount of chocolate is harmful to your pet, so keep the treats out of their paws, no matter how much they beg. Those cellophane and foil wrappers left behind after the treats are gone are also a potential health hazard for your pet. The wrappers can be caught in your pet's digestive track and cause illness, severe discomfort - and even death - if the problem is left untreated.

There are some other pet safety tips to keep in mind this Halloween:

Jack o'lanterns and lit candles may look spooky, but they can pose problems for your pet. Rambunctious pets can knock lit pumpkins over and start fires, and wagging tails can easily get burned by open flames. Keep lit pumpkins and candles up on a high shelf to avoid accidents.

If you're hosting a Halloween party, keep your pet in a separate room, away from all the hustle and bustle. Too many strangers in odd costumes may cause your pet stress. This will also prevent your pet from sneaking out through an open door and darting out into the night.

Keep your pet indoors during the days and nights around Halloween. Pranksters and vandals have teased, injured, stolen and, in rare cases, killed pets on Halloween. Keeping your pet inside will keep them from becoming a target.

Spooky!

Halloween can be a fun time for you and your pet. Following the above safety tips will make sure the only scares you experience are all in good fun.

Ebola and Dogs: Cause For Concern?

As the deadly Ebola virus continues to spread from West Africa to other parts of the world, including the United States, questions about its transmission between humans and animals have been raised.

Ebola, which causes a fever, headache muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and eventually dysentery, is fatal 90% of the time. With a third person testing positive for the disease in the United States, many fear that the disease will continue to spread.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is often transmitted to people from wild animals including gruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines. Human-to-human transmission occurs through contact with infected bodily fluids.



Because of its connection to wild animals, some worry about Ebola spreading to and from an infected person’s pets. In Spain, a dog was euthanized after its owner tested positive for Ebola, leading many to wonder about the transmission of Ebola between humans and dogs. Unfortunately, existing evidence suggests that euthanizing the dog was unnecessary.

According to an article from the Veterinary News Network, most of what is known about dogs and Ebola comes from an outbreak in 2001, where over 400 dogs in the African nation of Gabon had exposure to the virus. Many of these dogs developed antibodies, demonstrating that they contracted the disease.

But the dogs showed no symptoms of Ebola, and there are still no known instances of humans catching the disease from dogs. One possible explanation is that dogs are “dead end hosts,” meaning they can contract the virus but cannot spread it to humans. However, more research is necessary before this can be determined.

The World Health Organization says that there is no evidence that domestic animals play an active role in the transmission of Ebola to humans, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there are no reports of pets becoming sick or playing a role in transmission of Ebola to humans.

If your pet is vomiting, has diarrhea or a fever, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. There are other diseases that have similar symptoms and require immediate attention.

For more information about Ebola, visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/qas-pets.html.