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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

Thanksgiving: Sharing the Bounty with Your Pets

Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for gathering around the dinner table with family and friends to share in your thanks for all that you have and all that you’re about to consume! For many pet owners, Fido and Mittens are valued members of the family and saying ‘no’ to their pleading eyes may be something you skimp on given the special occasion.

You may already know of the Thanksgiving foods to avoid feeding your pet, for various health and safety reasons. Those foods include raw or bone-ridden bits of turkey, raw bread dough and cake batter, walnuts, mushrooms, onions and garlic, sage and nutmeg, and, of course, chocolate. There are, however, some foods which should be perfectly safe to share with most pets.

Turkey – In small amounts, and without bones or excess skin and fat, cooked turkey is just fine to feed your pets under the table.

Pumpkin – Again, in small amounts, pumpkin is safe for pets and can even quell an upset stomach if they’ve overdone it on other tasty Thanksgiving fare. With a bounty of beta carotene, vitamins, and fiber, pumpkin also helps with digestion. And, if you’re trying to help your pet slim down, it’s low-calorie!

Sweet Potatoes – If your pets are at your feet during meal preparation, a taste of sweet potato won’t hurt them. Just be sure it’s before you add any of the sweet deliciousness, as pets will have a hard time digesting it. Cooked and plain is the way to go.

Veggies – Most pets enjoy the satisfying crunch of raw vegetables. Carrots and broccoli are packed with beneficial vitamins!

Even though it’s Thanksgiving remember: Everything in moderation, especially for your pets. If your kitty or pooch does overindulge, they could develop a serious upset stomach, diarrhea, or an inflammatory condition of the pancreas. Try to keep your pets on their regular diets through the holiday and supplement the above Thanksgiving goodies only as small treats.

Veterans and Dogs: Companions of Hope

With Veteran's Day quickly approaching, it is an opportune time to commemorate not only our soldiers and veterans- but those important canine friends that help our servicemen and servicewomen’s reentry to American life.

Engaging in military battles or conflict can create anxiety in even the hardiest of soldiers. Unfortunately, sometimes that anxiety permeates their emotional state in such a way so as to disrupt their attempts at a "normal" life once they return home.

Oftentimes, returned soldiers can suffer not only from anxiety but also from depression, fear and substance abuse. Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can include reliving the experience through memories, nightmares or flashbacks. PTSD can also cause a victim to avoid situations that remind him/her of the event, create negative feelings, and initiate hyperarousal (living with a chronic state of fight or flight). These hard-to-overcome emotions can paralyze veterans, dismantle family life, and prevent an individual’s chance at happiness.

PTSD Therapy Dog

Pawsible Help

A specially trained PTSD dog can give its owner a sense of comfort, security, calm. Like all service dogs, a psychiatric service dog is individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the owner’s disability. With PTSD, some of these mitigating tasks may involve:

- Providing environmental assessments (entering a room prior to the owner and making sure “the coast is clear”)
- Interrupting an owner’s repetitive or injurious behavior
- Reminding the owner to take medication
- Guiding the handler away from stressful situations.

PTSD Therapy Dog

Creature Comforts

Much research has been performed that demonstrates dogs’ ability to serve as good companions, elicit feelings of love and affection, and reduce stress in humans. These and other natural canine virtues make dogs the perfect therapist for a PTSD survivor. These well-trained service dogs draw individuals out of their shells and help them overcome their emotional numbness or fear. Researchers have also concluded that human-dog bonding has biological effects such as adjusting serotonin levels, lowering blood pressure and overcoming depression.

If you or someone you care about has been affected by PTSD and could benefit from special canine companionship, contact either of the following organizations for more information:

- Canines 4 Hope, 1-772-631-4931 or http://www.canines4hope.com/index.htm
- Service Dog Express, http://www.servicedogexpress.com/

Thanksgiving Tips for Pets

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and indulge (and, sometimes, over-indulge) in delicious holiday treats. You can be sure that if your cat or dog is around for the festivities, they'll want to share some of the goodies, too. But no matter how much your pets purr, plead, whine or whimper, owners should remember that holiday treats that are tasty for people can be potentially harmful for pets.

Thanksgiving foods may look tasty to your pet, but they could be harmful.

The typical Thanksgiving spread is flush with a variety of foods, from savory fare like turkey and stuffing to sweet foods like yams and cream pies. Your pet's diet is much blander and boring, and for good reason—foods with lots of fat, dairy and spices can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. For this reason, it's best to avoid letting Rover dine on the usual turkey day leftovers. If you must give your pet some holiday foods, stick to dishes like boiled potatoes or rice, which will not upset your pet's stomach.

Some holiday foods, however, can cause much more than an upset stomach in your pet. Garlic and onions are members of the allium family and, if eaten in large quantities, can cause hemolytic anemia, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to burst. Raisins and grapes are also toxic to pets and have been linked to kidney failure.

Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods that pets can eat—it's also one of the most prevalent holiday foods. Whether chocolate is found in cookies, cakes, truffles or baking squares, any amount can be dangerous. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylxanthines that can cause stimulation of the nervous system, increased heart rate and tremors. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate.

Chocolate is dangerous for pets

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.

You may also be tempted to give your dog a leftover turkey bone or two once the table is cleared. However, poultry bones are small and easily breakable and can easily shatter and get caught in your pet's throat. These bones can cause damage to your pet's throat or lead to choking.

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.

During holiday gatherings, it's a good idea to keep your veterinarian's phone number handy. If your pet does get a hold of some Thanksgiving food and experiences mild vomiting or diarrhea, you can help settle their stomach by withholding food for a few hours then feeding small amounts of boiled rice and cooked hamburger. If the symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian immediately.

VIDEO: Cats Often Overlooked for Veterinary Care

From Siamese and Persians to the outdoor barn kitty, Americans love our cats! With more than 80 million felines being pampered in homes across the country, our cat friends have become the #1 pet in the nation. Since they are so popular, it would be easy to think that our cats are probably given everything that they could want or need. Unfortunately, studies show that cats are much less likely to be given proper veterinary care than our dog friends...why is this? Watch this video to learn the answers of why cats get lower care!

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Are Fur Babies Replacing the Human Kind?

Last year, the number of babies born in the United States increased from the previous year for the first time since the Great Recession – but, only by 1%.

In the U.S., Italy, and elsewhere, birth rates have generally been declining in recent years. During a 9% drop in births from 2007 to 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Americans had 2.3 million fewer babies than if the numbers had held steady. Studies attribute the decline to economic hardship, fewer couples having children, and women waiting until they’re older to start families.

With fewer human babies in the picture, furry lovable replacements are taking center stage. Fur babies! Yes, dogs. Although fewer women in their 20s and early 30s are choosing to have children, more are choosing to buy, adopt or rescue small canine children. A study by Pets International, reported the number of small dogs (those weighing less than 20 pounds) are on the rise. Since 1999, Americans have been buying more small dogs with each passing year. Their popularity has grown so fast they are now the most popular choice of canine world- and nationwide.

The opinion on whether or not there’s a correlation between choosing not to having children and choosing to be a pet parent remains divided. With fewer babies being born, yet more than twice as many small dogs sharing homes with Americans than before 1999, it may be due to many factors - such as the national migration to cities and apartment-living.

Either way, Pope Francis has issued a warning to married couples not to substitute pets for children.

“You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,” he said. “It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

Are children the only way to avoid bitter loneliness in old age? Does forgoing children threaten the sanctity of marriage? Couples and singles could always opt for both a child and a pet, or one or the other, or neither. The choice is theirs to make.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Accelerates Healing in Pets, Too!

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, is as simple as breathing.

The therapy, which consists of breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube, has long been used for a variety of conditions in humans. In a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the air pressure can be as much as four times higher than outside air. In this hyper-oxygenated environment, lungs can breathe in a higher concentration of oxygen than they would be able to do otherwise. This fresh stream of air moves throughout the body, fighting off bacteria and promoting healing by stimulating the release of growth factors and stem cells. It only makes sense that the therapy, which has been available to humans for more than two decades, is now becoming more and more available for pets.

Veterinarians who believe in the benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy say it cuts down on the length (and cost) of hospital stays.

"It helps with animals who have had trauma, snake bites, and it helps with Pancreatitis,” said Dr. Stephanie Phillips of CARE Veterinary Center in Maryland.

CARE is the only animal hospital with the pet-friendly technology in Maryland; however, the largest HBOT equipment supplier for animal clinics, Hyperbaric Veterinary Medicine, has 30 chambers nationwide. Their animal-specific chambers are built to be scratch-resistant, while being safe and comfortable for pet patients.

Veterinarians have used HBOT to treat swelling, trauma, non-healing wounds and smoke inhalation, to carbon monoxide toxicity and after cases of near-drowning or near-hanging. Sessions typically last anywhere from three minutes to two hours.

"When the animal breathes in the increased oxygen in the chamber, it pushes that oxygen into the tissues, which then allows the tissues to have more oxygen to heal," said CARE veterinary surgeon Dr. Kelly Gellasch.

The hospital recently saw positive results when it treated a 4-year-old Whippet named Carson. The pup had sustained serious neck wounds from a fight with a housemate and was referred from his regular veterinarian to the CARE Veterinary Center due to the severity.

"When Carson came in, he had extensive muscle trauma under his skin because of the bite wounds, so the hope with the hyperbaric oxygen treatments was to increase the oxygen supply to those muscles to prevent us from actually having to do extensive surgery to remove any damaged muscle," said Gellasch.

Luckily for Carson, a breath of fresh air was just what he needed and after three treatments the swelling subsided and the wounds were able to heal without the need for an invasive procedure. To read the CARE Veterinary Center story in its entirety, click here.

VIDEO: Battling a Canine Killer... Katy's Story

Half of all dogs will develop some sort of cancer in their lifetime and one in four dogs will die. These are the sad statistics of this dreaded disease that affect people and pets. Canine cancer is so prevalent that it is the leading killer of dogs over the age of two. The Canine Cancer Project is now underway to help fund studies aimed at eliminating canine cancer in the next ten to twenty years. Watch this video to learn how you can help eradicate cancer in your dog’s lifetime!

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November is Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month, but with more than 50% of the nation’s cats and dogs overweight or obese, raising awareness of the common endocrine disease has been extended to pets – rather than just their human caretakers. It is estimated that one in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes, being the most common endocrine condition found in felines. The numbers for dogs are similar and only expected to increase.

Diabetes results when a pet’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I DM) or doesn’t process it properly (Type II DM). When your pet eats, carbohydrates found in his or her food are converted into simple sugars, one of which is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines and travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin typically helps turn the glucose into fuel. However, when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose can’t even enter the cells to be converted into energy and instead just builds up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats & Dogs

• Lethargy

• Excessive Thirst

• Frequent Urination

• Always Hungry, Yet Maintains or Loses Weight

• Thinning, dry, and dull coats in cats

• Cloudy Eyes, in dogs

At-Risk Pets

• Those with genetic predispositions

• Those with other insulin-related disorders

• Those who are obese &/or physically inactive

• Dogs who are between 4- to 14-years-old

• Unspayed/intact female dogs are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes

• Dog breeds with greater risk for development: Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Pomeranians, terriers, and Toy Poodles

Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed so that symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely. Your veterinarian will decide which treatment options are best for your pet. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle, combined with or without daily insulin injections, can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have diabetes, contact your veterinarian today. Veterinarians are the only professionals who can accurately diagnose your pet and provide proper health management. Diabetes can affect a pet differently over time, even if your pet has experienced a long period of stability. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the better, and the less likely you'll incur the cost of an expensive emergency visit for diabetic complications.