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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

Your Next Pet: Have You Considered Rescuing an Animal in Need?

After the death of a beloved companion, the house may no longer feel the same. You may have another pet who seems lonely or you may just want the companionship of another pet in your life again. Once you have given yourself ample time to grieve, you may start thinking about getting a new pet. Consider this: Each year approximately 7.6 million companion animals end up in shelters nationwide. Of the 2.7 million who are euthanized, roughly 1.2 million are dogs and 1.4 million are cats. When considering your next pet, why not consider rescuing one of the many pets who are in need of a forever home? If you've never rescued/adopted before, you may be reluctant for a variety of reasons. Below, you'll find several of the common misconceptions about animals in shelters.

"They’re Less Healthy & You Can't Get a Purebred"

On the contrary, pets adopted from shelters or rescues are actually five percent less likely to require an unplanned visit to the veterinary office than those bought at a pet store. This was determined when the Vice President of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance analyzed claims made to the company. Additionally, most major animal shelters will vaccinate and microchip pets upon intake and many of the animals will be or have already been spayed or neutered. That makes your out-of-pocket expenses much less than if purchasing from a costly pet store and then having to schedule additional visits with your veterinarian.



There is much debate about whether purebreds or mixed breeds are healthier. Either way, a quarter of all dogs in shelters are actually purebreds. If you fancy a particular breed, there are rescue organizations for just about all of them – tracking down a healthy pet of your liking is almost always possible.

"They Aren't Trained & Can't Be"

While it makes sense that some dogs and cats are surrendered to shelters or abandoned because of behavioral problems, that isn't always the case. Many animals in shelters lived with their human families for years and are very well trained. Those who are particularly unruly often receive training and socialization before being considered for adoption to lessen the likelihood of them ending up back at the shelter. Many shelters include descriptions of their available pets online - which will often provide information on the commands they know, their personalities, and so on. Many shelters or rescues will also allow (or encourage) a meet-and-greet, so you can get a better idea of the animal's temperament.

"But, I Want a Puppy/Kitten"

Although senior pets are more in need of loving homes, shelters have pets of all ages – including puppies and kittens. Although puppies and kittens may not be surrendered as often, pregnant animals or litters removed from bad homes/environments are quite common.


Shelter pets come in all shapes, sizes, ages, breeds, and conditions. By adopting, you may well be saving that animal's life, but you'll also be gaining a very grateful friend.

Twelve Tips for a Well-Behaved Dog

  1. Train your dog gently and humanely. Use positive rewards and motivation methods. Rewards should be the rule and reprimands should be the rare exception. Keep obedience sessions lively so that the training process is enjoyable for all parties. Training your dog should not be drudgery.
  2. Start training your puppy at an early age. While old dogs can be taught new tricks, what’s learned earliest is often learned quickest and easiest. Also, the older the dog, the more bad habits he may need to unlearn.
  3. Your dog needs to respond to you properly at home. If not, he certainly will not behave outside the home. Distractions are fairly minimal at home; however, in the outside world there are other dogs, pigeons, passersby, sidewalk food scraps (to name a few).

    Does your dog listen to you and obey you at home? Does he treat you like a human gymnasium when you’re sitting on the furniture? Does he beg at the table? Jump up on visitors? Demand your attention by annoying you to death? Ignore your commands?
  4. Avoid giving your dog commands that he cannot obey. Each time you give a command that is neither complied nor enforced, your dog learns that commands are optional.
  5. One command should equal one response. Give your dog a command, say it once (twice, max!), and then gently enforce it. Repeating commands or nagging causes your dog to tune you out, and teaches him that the first several commands are a bluff. For instance, telling your dog to "sit, sit, sit, sit" is neither an efficient nor effective way to issue commands. Simply give your dog a single command, gently place or lure him into it, and give him praise or reward.
  6. Avoid giving your dog combined commands which are incompatible. Combined commands such as "sit-down" can confuse your dog. Use either sit or down.
  7. When giving your dog a command, avoid using a loud voice. Even if your dog is especially independent/unresponsive, your tone of voice when issuing an obedience command should be calm and authoritative, rather than harsh or loud.
  8. Whenever possible, use your dog’s name positively, rather than using it associated to reprimands, warnings or punishment. Your dog should trust that when he hears his name, good things happen. His name should always be a word he responds to with enthusiasm, never hesitancy or fear.
  9. Correct or prevent the unwanted behavior. Don’t punish, but try to teach him. Do not reprimand or get even with him. After-the-fact discipline does NOT work. If you’re taking a "whip ’em into shape" approach, you’ll undermine your relationship with him. Also, you’ll be missing out on all the fun that a motivational training approach can offer.
  10. When training your dog, timing is everything. Take the following example: You’ve prepared a platter of food for a small dinner party and it is sitting on a small table in the dining room. Your dog walks into the room and smells the food. He air-sniffs, then eyes the food, and is poised to jump up. This is the best, easiest and most effective time to correct your dog’s behavior— while he’s thinking about jumping up to get the food. If he has already eaten the food and is resting comfortably in his bed, correcting him at this point is useless. He cannot associate something that occurred earlier with a correction that he is receiving at the present time.
  11. Often, dog owners inadvertently reinforce their dogs’ misbehavior by giving them lots of attention (negative attention) when they misbehave. Needless to say, if your dog receives lots of attention and handling when he jumps up on you, that behavior is being reinforced, and is therefore likely to be repeated.
  12. Keep a lid on your anger. Never train your dog when you’re feeling grouchy or impatient. Earning your dog’s respect is never accomplished by yelling, hitting, or handling your dog in a harsh manner. Moreover, studies have shown that fear and stress inhibit the learning process.

VIDEO - Choosing Between a Kitten and an Adult Cat

Cute, cuddly kittens are hard to resist. But an older cat may need a home more desperately--and may be a better fit for your lifestyle. Consider the factors outlined in this video before you make your final choice.


Senior Pets - Improving their Quality of Life

Congratulations! You've just taken the first step toward providing the best care for your friend in its golden years. Through senior blood testing, not only can normal laboratory values be determined that are specific to your pet, but any abnormal values may be addressed in order to maintain a high quality of life for your pet as it ages.

It is recommended to have these tests performed every one to two years to monitor any changes that may occur. It is only through early detection that many age-related illnesses may be slowed or prevented. Depending on the results, more frequent testing may be recommended.

Girl playing with senior cat

The aging process brings about a gradual reduction in your pet's physical capabilities. While dogs and cats begin to undergo these changes starting at about age five to seven years, different pets will show the various signs of growing old at different rates. The best time to recognize your pet's "senior" status and need for extra TLC is long before advanced disabilities set in.

Senior dog

To increase the length and quality of your pet's life, it is important to begin a process of prevention. Risks are associated with your pet's background, environment, or lifestyle. Certain conditions put him or her at greater risk of developing age-related changes or diseases. Some of these factors cannot be controlled; however, activity level, living conditions, quality of medical care, and level of nutrition are factors that can be controlled by a responsible owner. The extent to which these factors are managed help determine the quality and length of your pet's life. By identifying some of your pet's risk factors, treatment can be initiated prior to the onset of a medical problem.

Dental Disease

Tooth loss and serious gum infections become more common as pets age. The loss of teeth is a problem, and difficulty in chewing food may result. However, the spread of bacteria from the mouth into the pet's bloodstream, when infections occur around the teeth, is an even more serious risk to the older pet's health. Tumors of the mouth and gums also become more likely with advancing age. The first step in good dental care is to have your pet's teeth examined by your veterinarian.

Weight Gain

Obesity is one of the single most important risks the older pet's health. Since the older animal's metabolism and activity level slows down, most older pets have a tendency to gain weight Obesity is unhealthy in any pet, but it is especially harmful to an older animal's joints, heart and other organs.

Skin Conditions

Skin problems may occur more frequently since the older pet's skin is less elastic and repairs itself less rapidly. Hair loss is usually more pronounced, because hair follicles are less active in later life.

Cold and Warm Temperatures

Because your pet's metabolism is slowing, you may notice an increasing intolerance to heat and cold. This happens because your pet produces less of the hormones that are critical for maintaining the body's normal temperature.

Senses

Smell, sight, taste and hearing will diminish as your pet ages. Many pets adapt to these losses very well, although there may be a decrease in appetite. For such pets, a highly nutritious, well balanced diet is a must. Eye problems, such as glaucoma and cataracts, are more likely to develop in older pets.

Internal Organs

Diseases of vital internal organs—heart, lungs, kidneys and bladder—occur more frequently in older dogs and cats. As animals age, the organs also age. Therefore, a complete health assessment of the senior dog and cat includes considerable attention to these organs along with dietary recommendations to promote good health.

What you can do at home:

  • Avoid excessive weight gain. Your veterinarian may recommend an exercise program as well as a special senior pet food.
  • Keep your pet's living and areas clean, dry and warm at all times.
  • If possible, regularly check your pet's mouth for reddened gums, loose teeth or unusual swellings. Check eyes for redness, unusual cloudiness, discomfort and discharge. Check ears for wax build-up, discharge or unusual odors.
  • Thoroughly groom and inspect your older pet's skin regularly. Look for lumps, bumps and wounds.
  • If your older pet's eyesight is impaired, avoid relocating furniture. Also, try not to drastically change your pet's daily routine.
  • Any change associated with eating, drinking or elimination should be noted and discusses with your veterinarian. These are conditions are often associated with early stages of disease.
  • Take your older pet for regular senior checkups, even if he or she seems to be well. It is always easier and less expensive to prevent a problem rather than treat a problem.
  • Feed only the food your veterinarian recommends. Since many "treats" are high in sodium, you should not permit your older pet to eat them unless recommended.

Your older pet is a real member of the family. With proper care and regular testing, your loyal companion should be able to live a long and healthy life.

Pets As Key To Your Child’s Development

There’s a common understanding that pets help children develop the relationships and social skill sets essential for their development. In fact, many families site their children as the very reason for acquiring pets in the first place. And now researchers are taking it even further. Fido may not only serve as a child’s companion and “man’s best friend,” but also an essential tool to help combat childhood obesity, trauma, stress, and even autism.

Boy and Puppy

Having pets in the household is credited by some doctors as contributing to a child’s heightened awareness of nonverbal social cues, thereby enhancing their general communication skills. Yet other doctors say such a belief is confusing the cause with the effect – and rather, it’s those children with greater empathy and communication skills who are more likely to develop significant relationships with their pets.

Nevertheless, there is no disputing the fact that caring for a pet and taking them for walks provides great exercise for kids, amongst many other advantages. Their potential ability to reduce stress and trauma is exemplified in the courtroom’s increasing use of dogs while children are testifying or undergoing interviews in stressful situations.

And the benefits don’t stop there. Recent studies have flipped the idea that pets contribute to children’s allergies on its head. These studies are now showing that exposing children to dogs and cats at an early age could in fact have a protective effect.

So, maybe Sally’s request for a new puppy this summer isn’t such an unreasonable request after all.

Puzzled About Parrots? Here Are 10 Fun Facts!

Parrots are the most popular pet birds in the world and the fourth most popular pet in the U.S., but how much do you know about them? Here are 10 fun and informative facts about these stunning and intelligent birds.

1. They can imitate sounds - Most birds sing instinctual songs they were born knowing, but parrots know by learning and learn through imitating. In the wild, this is how they learn to communicate with their flockmates. In captivity, they imitate sounds they hear in their environments (including human voices). An African grey parrot named Alex was once found to speak and understand more than 100 words! The best imitators are the African grey, parakeets, Amazon parrots, and macaws.

2. They are the most intelligent birds - Parrots can talk, but they can also understand and associate meaning with the words they learn. They can even use tools and solve problems, earning them what scientists have said to be the “logic of a four-year-old.”

3. They often mate for life - As is common in the animal kingdom, male parrots go to great lengths to impress and court their potential mates. Once the female accepts, the pair will remain together beyond the breeding season, raise their young together, and then maintain a relationship for life. The birds help one another with grooming, finding food, and keeping an eye out for predators.

4. They are the only birds who can eat with their feet- In fact, they’re often either right or left-footed! Parrots have been observed showing a preference as they use their feet to pick up objects and bring food to their mouths. Their feet are zygodactyl, meaning they have two forward-facing and two backward-facing toes on each foot.

5. They can live for decades - Many parrot owners don’t realize their pets could outlive them! While small parrots typically enjoy lifespans of 15 to 20 years, medium-sized birds live in the range of 25 to 30 years, and large parrots can live 60 to 100+ years! The oldest living parrot is 81-years-old, but there have been macaws believed to be 89 or even older than 100.



6. The largest parrot can’t fly- The only non-flying parrot in the world is also the largest. The kakapo can weigh as much as nine pounds and measure more than two feet long! It’s great at jumping and climbing trees.

7. There’s one cold-environment parrot- The kakapo’s cousin, the kea, is the only alpine parrot. With olive green feathers, bright orange feathers can be seen under its wings when in flight. It is known for being curious to the point of mischievous and intelligent.

8. There’s one that can move its head feathers like dog ears- Cockatoos aren’t brightly colored like most parrots, but they make up for it with their extravagant head feathers – or headcrest. The birds raise their headcrests when flying, landing, scared, excited, or angry.

9. They have mighty beaks- Beware! Parrots use their strong beaks to break open nuts, so you wouldn’t want one to confuse your finger for food. The hyacinth macaw can crack open coconuts and macadamia nuts, which are one of the toughest nuts to crack.

10. They have been kept as pets for thousands of years- The ancient Egyptians kept pet parrots, as did other ancient cultures. Historic figures who have kept parrots include: Aristotle, Marie Antoinette, Queen Victoria, Martha Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and many more.