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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

“Back-To-School Blues” For Your Dog

Parents and youngsters aren’t the only ones who have to adjust to a new schedule every fall. Just as kids grow accustomed to the care-free days of summer, dogs get used to the constant attention and play time that a child’s constant presence brings. Many dogs will adjust quickly to the change, but those prone to separation anxiety may look for ways to lash out.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Nick Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recommended the following tips to help ease the transition between summer and the school year:

  • Make departure time happy using toys and treats
  • Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe
  • Try starting the routine before school begins
  • Do not indulge with baby talk or sympathy
  • See a veterinarian if the dog’s disposition doesn’t improve

With a little advanced planning and a few tweaks to you and your dog’s morning routine, you can keep your dog relaxed and content while his favorite playmate is gone for the day. Before you know it, your dog’s “back-to-school blues” will be a thing of the past.

What You Need to Know: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in 2015

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a chronic, slow-developing and contagious disease of cats. Though FIV is closely related to human AIDS, the virus is specific to cats and cannot be transmitted to humans.

What FIV is and How is it Spread

FIV infects and destroys lymphocytes, which are important white blood cells that help your cat fight infection. Without lymphocytes, your cat’s immune system becomes suppressed.

FIV is most commonly transmitted through bite wounds among cats. Due to their aggressive territorial behavior, non-neutered male cats are most commonly infected. Any cat that is bitten by another cat is at risk of contracting FIV. Casual contact, such as social grooming and sharing litter boxes and food bowls, does not appear to be a source of transmission. FIV is rarely spread from an infected mother cat to her kittens or through sexual contact.

Three Stages of FIV Infection

Within four to six weeks after exposure, your cat’s lymph nodes will become enlarged – a development often accompanied by fever. Although the lymph nodes may remain enlarged for two to nine months, these early symptoms of FIV generally go unnoticed.

During the second stage, enlarged lymph nodes and fever disappear, and your cat may enter a long period of latency. This period may last several years and few (if any) clinical signs are observed. Other infected cats may slowly and progressively deteriorate, or experience recurrent illness mixed with periods of relative good health.

The last stage is the chronic or terminal phase of the infection. Secondary infections are common and may last months or years. More than 50% of infected cats have gum infections (gingivitis) and/or mouth infections (stomatitis). Skin, bladder and respiratory infections are also very common. Other symptoms include poor coat, fever, weight loss, seizures and behavioral changes. Due to the vague and generalized symptoms of FIV, your veterinarian may test your cat when he / she is ill in order to rule out this disease.

Diagnosis, Vaccination and Treatment

The diagnosis of FIV is made by your veterinarian. Your cat’s history, the presence of clinical symptoms, and the results of a specific blood test are instrumental in diagnosing the disease.

If your cat is diagnosed with FIV, any other cats in your household should also be tested. All FIV-positive cats should be kept indoors to prevent the spread of infection and reduce their exposure to secondary infections. Cats in the terminal stages of the disease can shed large quantities of the virus in their saliva and can pose a greater threat to uninfected cats. To best monitor your cat’s health, we advise scheduling wellness appointments every six months. Although there is no specific treatment for FIV, your cat’s health and well-being can be prolonged by easing the secondary effects of the disease.

Currently there is a vaccine to help protect against FIV infection; however, there are several problems with it. Not all vaccinated cats are protected by the vaccine, so preventing exposure, even in vaccinated animals, remains important. Vaccination also interferes with FIV test results. Before deciding on vaccinating your cat, it is best to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your veterinarian.

FIV-positive cats who receive proper medical care, live in a calm indoor home and are fed a nutritionally balanced diet can live many happy months or years before the disease reaches its final stage. For more information about FIV, or to make an appointment to have your cat tested, please call the veterinary hospital today.

VIDEO: Advances in Pet Dentistry

Without proper oral care, more than 80% of dogs and cats will show signs of gingivitis or even periodontal disease by the time they are three years old. Watch this video to see the new advances in pet dentistry and what you can do to keep your pet’s mouth healthy!

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Meet Bretagne, The Last Surviving 9/11 Rescue Dog

As a remembrance of the lives lost on September 11, 2001, here's a story of the recovery effort from a unique perspective.

In the aftermath of 9/11, hundreds of service dogs aided in search and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Today, just one remains. Bretagne, a golden retriever, recently celebrated her 16th birthday with a trip to New York where she dined on gourmet cheeseburger, explored the city in a vintage taxi, and took the time to pay her respects at Ground Zero.

Bretagne and her owner, Denise Corliss, came from Texas in the wake of the disaster. It was the first deployment for both Corliss and the then-two year old dog. As a search dog, Bretagne was responsible for searching through areas of rubble. If no one was found, the rubble would be removed. According to Corliss Bretagne regularly spent 12 hours per day searching alongside other rescuers and their canines.

After 9/11, Bretagne and Corliss worked together during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ivan. She retired as a search dog in 2009 and now serves as a therapy dog at elementary schools in Texas.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Corliss said that Bretagne also helped in another way. At one point, Bretagne spotted an exhausted and expressionless firefighter and ran to his side, ignoring Corliss’s calls to return. “It was like she was flipping me the paw,” she said. “She went right to that firefighter and laid down next to him and her head on his lap.”

Marijuana Intoxication in Dogs is on the Rise

Veterinarians are seeing an increase in emergency calls for pets that have been sickened by ingesting marijuana.

In Colorado, where marijuana is legal, veterinarians are seeing a four-fold increase in the number of marijuana toxicity cases. Much of the increase is due to pets getting into their owner’s stash of THC-infused baked goods, or edibles.

Marijuana Intoxication in Dogs is on the Rise

And while humans presumably know how little of each item to ingest, their pets – dogs especially – are prone to eating as much as they can. (Think of them as having a permanent case of the munchies.)

Christy Tomcik, a veterinary technician at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at CSU, says that the effect of marijuana on pets is similar to that of humans. “They become very tired and don’t move very much,” she said. Other effects commonly seen in humans, such as the desire to see whether or not Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard Of Oz sync up, are not as common.

Pets that have ingested marijuana are typically treated with activated charcoals that can absorb the toxins, inducing vomiting, and administering IV fluids.

Veterinarians say that pet owners should keep treats away from their pets. “Marijuana is a poison to dogs,” said Dr. Billy Griswold, an emergency veterinarian. “Owners have to be careful and use common sense.”

If pets do get into their owner’s stash, veterinarians say it’s important to get medical help for them right away, and never withhold the fact that the pet has eaten marijuana. While pet owners in areas where marijuana isn’t legal may be wary of authority figures, Dr. Brian Serbin, a veterinarian in Phoenix, says that “the veterinary community is not here to tattle on [them]. Be honest with your doctor so we can fix your dog.”

Otto, the Cat With An Eating Disorder

Think eating disorders are just for people? Think again. If your cat is a mealtime monster, he may need a therapist.

Otto, the eight-month-old Siamese cat, lived to eat. He voraciously sought after everyone’s food, both human and feline, even engaging in pica—the abnormal urge to eat non-food items.  He was one obsessed kitty, hissing and growling and purposefully jumping up on the dining room table.  His abnormal responses to food occurred in every situation: during food preparation, throughout mealtime, and immediately after meals, when he desperately scavenged. Otto was out of control.

Otto, the Cat With An Eating Disorder

So what do you do with a ravenous, insatiable cat?

Otto’s family brought him to the veterinarian for lab work. Those test results were basically normal and next, his behavior was evaluated by a team of researchers at the Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy. The team, comprised of eight veterinarians, came to an untraditional conclusion: Otto’s disorder was psychogenic; it was psychological, not physical. Otto is the first cat ever diagnosed with an eating disorder.

The team focused on a treatment plan. They limited Otto’s exposure to stress while attempting to modify his responses to food. They:

  • Provided environmental enrichment
  • Increased playtime and interaction
  • Rewarded positive behavior
  • Ignored negative behavior
  • Allowed Otto to see food only at mealtime (no one could eat in front of him)
  • Changed his basic food


After lots of TLC and consistency, Otto’s behavior improved to the point where his owners could actually eat his favorite foods right in front of him. Otto didn’t even care.

If your cat demonstrates unusual or disruptive eating patterns, consult your veterinarian. He may lack necessary nutrients or have a more complex medical problem. Or he just might have an eating disorder that requires a therapist and a behavioral modification program.


VIDEO: Foolproof Pet ID

A microchip is a tiny computer chip which has an identification number programmed into it. The chip is the size of a grain of rice, and it is easily and safely implanted into the skin of an animal with a hypodermic needle. Once the animal is "chipped" he can be identified throughout his life by this unique number. Microchips are read by a scanning device which recognizes a unique identification number. Through registration of the animal with a national database, the owner can be contacted and this is an important step many pet owners forget. The bad news is that this technology is not foolproof. Watch this quick video and learn more about what you can do to make sure your pet is properly identified using a new free service.

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Time to Cut the Kibble: October 7 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54% of U.S. dogs and cats are too pudgy, and 21% are classified as obese. The figures are similar for dogs and cats. The risks of being too heavy are well known in humans, and yet 68% of U.S. adults are overweight. Pet obesity carries similar risk factors, and as responsible pet owners, we need to cut the kibble and up the exercise for our companion animals.

October 12 is Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Primary Risks of Obesity in Pets:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  • Kidney Disease
  • Many Forms of Cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

How to Tell If You Have an Obese Animal

Just by looking at your pet, you should be able to tell if a dog or cat is carrying extra weight. The following are signs that you have a pudgy pet:

  • It’s difficult to feel the pet’s ribs under the fat
  • It has a sagging stomach – you can grab a handful of fat!
  • Seen from above, your cat or dog has a broad, flat back
  • The pet has no waist

If you think you have a heavy pet, your veterinarian can recommend weight management foods, portion recommendations, and some simple exercise regimens to follow with both dogs and cats. Dogs may need to be walked 2-3 miles several times a week, and cats need to get short 15-minute bursts of active play two or three times a day. The routines may be good for you, too.

For Pet Obesity Awareness Day, veterinarians are being asked to record some simple weight data for each pet they examine on October 12. The goal is to determine more accurately the exact number of pets in the United States that are overweight or obese. Pet owners can also contribute to the study by visiting the association’s website at http://www.petobesityprevention.com/npoad/ and filling out a simple form. Instructions for participation will be sent via email.

October 4th Is World Animal Day

Mark your calendars – a major holiday for all animal lovers is quickly approaching. World Animal Day was started in 1931 by a group of ecologists in Florence, Italy. Originally intended to bring awareness to endangered species, the scope of the holiday has since expanded. According to the official website for World Animal Day, its mission is “to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe.”

World Animal Day is observed across the globe in a variety of different ways, from fundraising for various animal welfare groups to public celebrations. To learn more about World Animal Day, visit the official website.