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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

Bird Flu Outbreak Spreads To 16 States

A recent bird flu outbreak has sickened millions of birds, but officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the risk to humans and other animals is minimal. The outbreak began in December 2014 and has continued to spread. Health officials in Iowa, the top egg-producing state in the US, say that more than 5 million chickens would need to be euthanized after the virus was detected at a large commercial poultry facility.

While some humans have been sickened by another strain of the virus in the past, there are no cases of the strain responsible for this outbreak infecting humans, and the CDC says the risk for humans is low. This virus does not spread through consumption of poultry products.

Although the risk is minimal, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Avoid wild birds and avoid contact with domestic birds that appear ill or have died
  • If you have had contact with infected birds, monitor your own health for conjunctivitis or flu-like symptoms, and see a doctor if these symptoms appear

If you would like more information about bird flu, talk to your veterinarian.

Top 10 Dog Breeds in 2014

Dogs occupy a larger place than ever in our society in recent years. They’re not just pets – they’re real members of our families. People have come to cherish a wide variety of these four-legged friends, and according to the American Kennel Club, the 10 breeds below topped the ranks in 2014.

1. Labrador Retriever – Labrador Retrievers, or simply Labradors or Labs, are frequently described as devoted, obedient, outgoing, gentle, agile and intelligent. Great with children and eager to please, it’s no surprise these dogs came out on top for the 24th consecutive year.

2. German Shepherd Dog – German Shepherds are working dogs, originally bred for herding sheep. They are known for being strong, intelligent, obedient, loyal and easy to train. While they are a common choice for law enforcement and the military, they also make great family pets.

3. Golden Retriever – Golden Retrievers are the loyal, strong and sometimes overly enthusiastic good buddies of the dog world. These energetic, affectionate canines shower their families with endless nuzzles, kisses and tail wags, and make very emotionally rewarding pets.

4. Bulldog – This breed is gentle, kid-friendly, affectionate, and stubborn. Bulldogs are not the energetic equals of Golden Retrievers or Labs. Instead, they favor brief walks and long periods of rest – most preferably with their heads on a beloved human’s lap – between meals.

5. Beagle – Beagles are members of the hound group and possess a great sense of smell and tracking instinct. Happy, outgoing, loving but also inquisitive and determined, these small and hardy dogs make great family pets.

6. Yorkshire Terrier – Yorkshire Terriers are the most popular toy breed in the US. Attention seeking, intelligent and independent, with a propensity for yapping, they are great for apartment dwellers and families with older children.

7. Poodle – Poodles have an unmistakably distinct appearance that makes them stand out from other dogs. They’re elegant, active and very intelligent. There are three types of poodles, Standard, Miniature and Toy, and all are considered to be affectionate family pets.

8. Boxer – Boxers are medium-sized dogs that are happy, loyal, brave, high-spirited, playful, intelligent and energetic. This breed is an excellent watchdog, is a great family pet and benefits greatly from dominant owner and training starting at a young age.

9. French Bulldog – French Bulldogs have a distinct look, too – but they’re a little more funny looking than other dogs. They’re adorable, too, and it’s no mystery why these affectionate small dogs, with their easy-going and playful natures, have won people’s hearts. French Bulldogs enjoy lavishing love on their human companions and generally get along well with everyone, including children.

10. Rottweiler – Often used as search and rescue dogs, guide dogs for the blind, and guard dogs or police dogs, Rottweilers also make great companion pets. Known for being exceptionally intelligent and strong, they are also devoted, good-natured, obedient and fearless. Properly bred and socialized Rottweilers are playful, gentle, and loving to their families.

When deciding to welcome a canine companion into your home, it’s important to consider where you live, your family, your existing pets and your lifestyle. Choosing a pet with the temperament, energy level and size that complement each of these factors is a vital part of making sure your life together is a long and happy one!

Canine Influenza Update – June 2015

The Canine Influenza outbreak that started in Chicago has now spread to 13 states. The strain of the virus, H3N2, originated in Asia in 2007 and has sickened over 1000 dogs in the Chicago area alone. Eight dogs have died from either the virus itself or secondary infections. Alabama, California, Georgia, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa and Indiana have all reported instances of Canine Influenza.

Canine Influenza’s symptoms are similar to the flu that humans get, and include cough, runny nose, and fever. However, the disease cannot be spread to humans. Because the virus is highly contagious between dogs, pet owners in affected areas should avoid dog parks. Vaccinations are also available for dogs in high-risk areas. Please call us today if you like more information about Canine Influenza.

Cats Are Paving the Way to Human Cancer Cures

Cats Are Paving the Way to Human Cancer Cures

Feline Cancer

Looks like Whiskers may provide us with more than pet love and companionship. In fact, she may even have the answers to our own medical emergencies.  Researchers have been examining cancer development patterns in animals that may ultimately help inform similar disease patterns found in humans.

Over the span of approximately 50 years and 1,000 cases, researchers have been able to gather key information from cats with intestinal tumors to help identify risks and treatments for humans with similar conditions. Amongst other things, so far the studies have revealed lymphoma to be the most common intestinal cancer found in cats, most of which were found in the small intestines.

Since domestic animals inhabit a similar environment as people, tracking their cancer patterns and developments could help shed valuable light on similar developments in humans. The current studies are all part of a larger project to better understand the convergence of human and animal health. Although the research is still in its early stages, the potential impact of these studies could be huge.

If you are concerned that your pet could have intestinal cancer, look for signs of unexplained weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting, and call your veterinarian for more details.

Doga (yoga for dogs) Lets You Do The Downward Dog With Your Dog

Stretching out, jumping up on two legs, rolling over for a belly rub - at first glance, those are all natural dog behaviors. But are they yoga poses, too? Some people and their canine companions think so. Yoga for dogs - also known as doga (pronounced DOH-ga) - is popping up everywhere, with yoga centers and fitness clubs across the United States and even in Japan offering yoga classes for people and their pooches.

The first doga class started in New York City in 2002. Yoga instructor Suzi Teitelman started incorporating her dog Coali into her regular yoga routine.

"As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I was often on my yoga mat, and Coali started to join me," Teitelman said. "Before long we were doing the poses together, and I was creating a new class. Coali and I started teaching Doga all over New York City in 2002, and now it is all over the world."

Teitelman now teaches doga in Florida and maintains a website to help spread the word about yoga for dogs. Since then, classes have sprung up from California and Texas to Maryland and New York. There's even a doga association in Japan.

Suzi Teitelman and Coali practice doga.

Suzi Teitelman and Coali practice doga.

Dogs and yoga might seem at first an unlikely combination, but the two are a natural fit, in a way. One of the most basic yoga poses is "downward facing dog", after all. In doga, owners and their canine companions practice together; sometimes, an owner will help his or her pet get into a pose, while other times, the dog will become part of the owner's pose. For example, in the "chair pose", the dog stands on his or her hind legs with the front paws in the air while the owner supports the dog. In the "savasana relaxation" pose, a dog lies on his or her back and has his or her belly rubbed.

Okay, so that last one isn't very different than the usual tummy rub your dog gets while lying on the living room floor. But some doga classes also include light massage and acupressure for dogs, and the overall result is a lot of direct human-to-dog contact. Doga practitioners say it is more about bonding with your pet than exercising and increasing flexibility (though those are plusses). Sessions typically start with owner and dog sitting together, perfectly still, and breathing together. Doga teachers and practitioners have reported that a good doga session calms down hyper pets and greatly relaxes both pets and their people. Other benefits for dogs include better sleep and stronger muscles.

"You will find that both you and your pet become more peaceful, more loving, more connected to each other," Teitelman said. "The more you practice doga, the more you find that you need it and want to stretch and relax, and bond together with your pet. I find that many dogs become better behaved and listen more to their owners."

Suzi Teitelman and her dog Roxy bond through doga.

Suzi Teitelman and her dog Roxy bond through doga.

For novice dog yogis (dogis, perhaps?), Teitelman recommends starting out with a pose called the "sacred kneel." Teitelman describes it like this: "Sitting on your heels, have your dog sit and face you. Take a moment to connect with your dog through massage, positive words, and get into your long deep inhales and exhales. Allow the dog to feel you breathe and feel your calming energy. The dog picks up on your energy through your touch and breath, so stay peaceful through all the poses. Carefully move deeper into the pose by gently and lovingly lifting the paws of the dog into the air. Either hold their paws to help them balance, or place the dog's paws on your shoulders. Hold and breathe for 5-10 breaths."

Doga hasn't made to every yoga studio in the country yet, but for budding dogis and their people, there's the book "Doga: Yoga for Dogs", a handy introduction to dog yoga. Of course, you could always just watch what your dog does and follow his or her lead - they've been doing their own sort of yoga for years.

Fourth Of July Pet Safety Tips

Fireworks and the Fourth of July go together like ... well, fireworks and the Fourth of July. While you may already have safeguards in place for people and children, there are additional things to consider for pet owners. Here are a few tips on helping your pets remain safe and happy while dealing with fireworks.

Always keep fireworks out of reach of your pet. While this may seem obvious for lit fireworks, it’s important to keep unlit fireworks away from your pets as well. Ingesting fireworks could be lethal for your pet. If your pet does get into your fireworks, contact your veterinarian right away.

Be aware of projectiles. Roman candles, for example, have projectile capabilities. If used incorrectly, an ejected shell can hit a pet, causing burning. If your pet gets burned, contact your veterinarian right away.

Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier. Never let your pets run free in an area where fireworks are going off.

Know what do to in case of a seizure. For some animals, being in the presence of fireworks can trigger a seizure. If your pet is prone to seizures, he or she should never be around fireworks – but most pet owners won’t know if their dog is prone to seizures until he or she experiences one. If this happens, stay calm and remove any objects in the area that might hurt your pet. Do not attempt to move your pet, as they may bite without knowing it. When the seizure is over, move him or her into an area clear of the firework’s sights and sounds. Call your veterinarian right away.

Ease your pet’s fear. Many pets are frightened of fireworks, and may exhibit fear by whimpering, crying, or otherwise displaying uneasiness. Create a safe space for these animals before the event. During the fireworks, use the radio, television, fan or air conditioner to create white noise that will drown out the sound of the fireworks.

By planning ahead and keeping key information in mind, your pet can have a happy, stress-free Fourth of July – and so can you!

VIDEO: Therapy Dogs and Cats Relieve Stress in Hospitals

Everyone knows how beneficial pets can be in our lives. But now, recent scientific evidence has actually proven what pet owners already knew. Heart failure patients who spent 12 minutes with a dog or cat had lower stress hormone levels, lower blood pressure levels, and a general brighter outlook about their recovery. Therapy dogs, and cats, have now started their rounds, under "doctor's orders". Watch this video to learn more.


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VIDEO: Flea And Tick Prevention For Your Pet

If you own a pet, fleas and ticks are nothing new. In a special video report, Dr. Jim Humphries with the Veterinary News Network and PetDocsOnCall discusses the importance of flea and tick prevention and shares tips on how to keep pesky parasites away from your pet.

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