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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

INFOGRAPHIC: Pet Holiday Hazards

The holidays can mean exciting smells, sights, and tastes for your curious pet -- and more ways he or she can get into trouble. Please take a look at the infographic below outlining the most serious dangers. Take the necessary precautions to keep the holidays happy and healthy for everyone in your home!

Click on the graphic below and print it out. Keep it handy during the holiday and give copies to your friends and family.

Holiday Hazards

Back Problems In Dogs

An animal that has trouble going up or down the stairs, can't jump up on the furniture, and / or seems to be in constant pain may have a back problem

Disk problems are the most common back problems in dogs. The disk functions as a shock absorber between the vertebrae, commonly known as the bones of the back.

When these disks are injured or degenerate, they put pressure on the nerves, creating a "pinched nerve." Aside from a pinched nerve, the injury can interfere with nerve impulses that are sent down the spinal cord. Without a complete functioning nervous system, advanced cases can cause a wobbly gait, leading to paralysis in the hind limbs.

Dogs with short legs and long bodies are most affected by disk problems. Commonly affected breeds include dachshunds and basset hounds.

Basset Hound

Basset Hound



Early detection is very important in the treatment of back problems. As soon as a problem is noticed, strict rest is recommended. Unlike humans, dogs don't lie on their backs and certainly don't do very well in traction. Strict rest, and particularly no jumping, is best for the animal.

In more pronounced cases, your veterinarian may recommend surgery in order to remove the affected disk. Back surgery is generally pretty expensive and there are risks that go with it. Back surgery is generally performed by a surgeon / specialist at a referral veterinary hospital.

The earlier the surgical procedure is done, the higher its success rate. Back injuries in dogs are like spinal cord injuries in people. Once paralysis sets in, the success rate declines rapidly, and some veterinarians elect not to take their patients to surgery.

Early detection and a veterinary examination are essential for quick recovery from a back injury. Depending upon the severity of the injury, most dogs recover quite well with medication, rest and lots of TLC. Dogs that have more complicated injuries may be candidates for more complicated back surgery.

VIDEO: Winter Holiday Dangers for Pets

We all enjoy the festive nature of the holidays. But, did you know that the delicious food we love and the sparkling decorations could be a danger to our pets? Many holiday traditions, such as tinsel on the tree or mistletoe, have led to pets needing emergency medical treatment. Some foods can cause illnesses in our dogs and cats as well. Wintertime can indeed be hazardous to our pets! Watch this video to learn more.


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ASPCA Revises Stance on Pets as Gifts

ASPCA Revises Stance on Pets as Gifts

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has advocated against giving pets as gifts for decades, but a new survey has caused them to change their tune. According to a telephone survey conducted by the ASPCA, 96 percent of pet owners who got their pet as a gift – whether it was a surprise or not – either increased or didn’t impact their attachment to the animal. Of those owners, 86 percent still remained in the home, which is the same rate as pets obtained in other ways.

While some shelter owners remain skeptical, others have ramped up holiday adoptions in response to the new information. While in the past, many shelters would close around Christmas, this year many plan to remain open and some will even deliver pets to homes on Christmas day.

World’s Oldest Penguin Returns To Colorado Zoo After Successful Radiation Therapy

A 40-year old African penguin is returning home a southern Colorado zoo after undergoing treatment for skin cancer. Tess, who resides at the Pueblo Zoo, is the oldest penguin of her kind, according to officials at the zoo. She was treated for sarcoma at the Colorado State University veterinary hospital in early December. After two weeks of isolation, she was welcomed home to the zoo, where she was reunited with her mate, Mongo, and the rest of her friends in the habitat.

African penguins rarely live past 20 years, and experts at the Pueblo Zoo say that the breed has declined 90 percent in the last 100 years. “Some people would ask, ‘why are you putting all of these resources into an individual animal?’ But, if this individual animal can tell a story that helps globally with the African penguin, then it’s all worth it,” said Dr. Matthew Johnston, a veterinarian at Colorado State University. “If we can make people aware of these endangered species, with awareness comes action, and with action comes change. And, ultimately, we help.”

Tennessee Man Leaves Mansion to Cats

Tennessee Man Leaves Mansion to Cats

A man in Tennessee has left his 4,000 square foot mansion and $250,000 savings to his two cats, Frisco and Jack. Leon Sheppard Sr., who was president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union, passed away last year. In addition to his worldly possessions, the cats must also remain cared for in his Memphis home.

Sheppard has five children, but they won’t see any of his fortune until the eldest cat, Frisco, passes away. Jack, the younger feline, may be moved out of the house, but Sheppard’s will stipulates that he must also remain cared for. While Sheppard’s family did not comment on the will, neighbors confirmed that Sheppard, unsurprisingly, was very fond of his cats.

Christmas Season Pet Hazards

Holiday season adornments are attractive to all creatures. The ornaments, foods, gifts, wrappings, ribbons, lights and plants are all curiosities for pets. Pets investigate new items by sniffing, tossing, chasing, and finally by tasting. A few precautions are necessary to avoid the holiday crowds at the veterinary hospital.

Holiday Tree

The most common problems this time of year are stomach or intestinal disturbances caused by pets eating the holiday feast or other novelties. Scraps from the table can cause gastrointestinal upset and even predispose pets to life-threatening pancreatitis. Bones can get stuck in the mouth or perforate the intestines and should be avoided. Chocolate is poisonous to cats, dogs, and birds. Plastic wrap and aluminum foil (coated with good-tasting juices) are enticing but can cause intestinal damage (and even blockage) if eaten by the pet.

Other sweet treats, like gum and hard candies, can also make your pet ill. Sugar-free candies and gum are made with xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause a drop in blood sugar, depression, loss of coordination and seizures in your pet. Xylitol is also linked to liver failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all candies, chocolate and other sweets out of your pet's reach. If you believe your pet may have ingested chocolate or candy, call your veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate and other sweets can make pets sick

Chocolate with Wrappers

Be sure to properly dispose of leftovers and wrappers. Feed pets their usual diet. Treats formulated similarly to the pet's regular diet are generally healthy and safe. Also keep in mind (while cooking) that pets may not know about hot stoves or to stay out from underfoot. Keep pets away from the stove so they don't get burned or get hot foods spilled on them.

Several decorative plants are poisonous. Mistletoe and holly can cause stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhea. The berries of these plants are attractive, easily swallowed, and potentially fatal if consumed. Poinsettias, like the leaves of most any plant, can also cause stomach upset. Use artificial mistletoe and holly; keep other plants out of your pet's reach.

Mistletoe Holly

Mistletoe and Holly

Make sure Christmas trees are secured so that pets cannot pull them over. Omit preservatives from the tree-stand water and cover the water so pets don't drink it. Don't spray snow on the tree unless it is labeled for pet consumption. Angel hair is spun glass and is irritating to both the inside and outside of your pet. Even glass ornaments and ornament hooks have been chewed and swallowed. These objects can cause problems from stomach upset to damaged intestines. Low-hanging ornaments are a real temptation, as are tinsel and electric lights. Decorative lights and electrical wiring can cause shock or burns when chewed, soremember to unplug holiday lights when pets are unattended.

Holidays have lots of activity going on. Be sure doors are not left open as guests come and go. Indoor pets inadvertently left outside could be injured by frostbite, cars, or other animals. Ice-melting chemicals and salt on sidewalks and roads can severely burn foot pads and should be washed off right away. Also, watch that guests don't leave interesting objects, such as chocolate, ribbons, stocking stuffers, or other illicit treats, within your pet's reach.

Holidays can also be as stressful for your pet as they are for you. Large gatherings of unfamiliar people may cause your dog or cat unnecessary stress and worry. If your pet does not interact well with strangers, keeping him or her in a separate room during the festivities may help keep your pet relaxed and worry-free.

Don't leave food items under the tree with an unsupervised pet; the wrapping, ribbon and enclosed gift are probably not compatible with your pet's digestive system. Ask Santa to put gifts out of your pet's reach so your pet won't beat you to them on Christmas morning.

When choosing a gift for your pet, consider the pet as an individual. Cats enjoy lightweight toys they can bat around, catnip toys, scratching posts, and kitty perches. Dogs like balls, chew toys, and things they can carry around. However, beware of toys with parts, such as bells, buttons, string, yarn, or squeaky parts, that can be detached and swallowed. Watch how your pet handles a new toy until you are sure it is safe. Some dogs treat a stuffed toy like a friend and carry it around and sleep with it. Others will tear them up and eat the stuffing and get into trouble. Also, if there is more than one pet in the household, consider all the pets before buying for any one of them. A one-inch diameter toy for a cat is fine, but a puppy in the household may swallow it and possibly require surgery to remove it.


If your pet does get sick, consult your veterinarian before giving any medications. Many of the over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen - Tylenol(r) and Excedrin(r) and ibuprofin - Advil(r), Motrin(r), are toxic for animals even though they are safe for us. Don't wait to see if your pet gets better. If your pet is acting sick, consult your veterinarian.

Only Five Northern White Rhinos Remain In The Entire World

The northern white rhinoceros is closer than ever to extinction now that Angalifu, a 44 year old male white rhino at the San Diego Zoo, has passed away from old age. After Angalifu, there are only five northern white rhinos remaining, including Nola, a female also living at the San Diego Zoo, with whom Angalifu was unable to breed.

The other remaining northern white rhinos include Najin and Fatu, two females in Kenya; Sudan, a male also living in Kenya and the last remaining male of the species; and an elderly female in the Czech Republic.

“Angalifu’s death is a tremendous loss to all of us,” said park curator Randy Rieches, “not only because he was well beloved here at the park but also because his death brings this wonderful species one step closer to extinction.”

The San Diego Zoo preserved some of Angalifu’s testicular tissue and sperm in hopes that the species may survive through artificial breeding methods.