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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

Happy 2017! New Year, New Pet Resolutions

A new year is upon us. With it comes the opportunity to start anew and set some goals for better, healthier and more productive living. As a pet owner, the new year also marks a fresh opportunity to include your pet's well-being in your plans.

Here are five New Year's resolutions to consider:

1. Resolve to engage in more physical activity and exercise with your pet – It may still be cold outside, but even increasing your daily walk by a few minutes will be beneficial to you and your four-legged friend. Play can also happen indoors. Ward off obesity and behavior issues before they become a problem. Games of fetch, play-wrestling or tug-of-war all are ways to keep your pup active and engaged.

2. Resolve to feed your pet a healthier diet – You may think feeding your pet human food is a way to show your love, but much of it can be fatty and unhealthy for your dog or cat. Just as you may be resolving to watch your own waistline, your canine or feline companion requires a diet that is formulated to provide all of the nutrients he or she requires. Do some research and invest in a high-quality kibble, canned food or raw diet plan – and be careful, as supplementing that with unhealthy human scraps is a leading contributor to weight gain.



3. Resolve to provide your pet with regular veterinary care – As pets age much faster than humans, a lot can happen with their health over the course of a year. Preventive pet health care is the best thing you can do to ensure your furry friend lives a long, happy and healthy life. Between visits to your veterinarian, take measures to continue care at home. This includes giving regular baths, grooming and brushing his or her teeth.

4. Resolve to curb bad behaviors – Being lovingly mauled by your pooch when you arrive home was cute for a while, but maybe the bruises are getting a little out of hand. This year, step up your training game and make it part of your pet's regular routine. Reward good behavior and stop passively encouraging the bad.

5. Resolve to be the best pet parent you can be – Odds are you probably already pamper your pet quite a bit. In 2017, look for more ways to be an outstanding owner. Maybe this means finally getting around to microchipping your pet, investing in pet health insurance or starting a savings fund, or introducing an adopted pet brother or sister into your home. You can also endeavor to do things that benefit you and your pet, such as getting him or her a stylish new bed that complements your décor or organizing that overflowing toy bin.

VIDEO - In the Exam Room: Preventive Care Visits

Preventive care visits are an important part of keeping your pet happy and healthy. But what does a veterinarian do during a wellness check-up? Dr. Julia Georgesen takes us into the exam room and shows us what to expect when we take a pet to the veterinarian for a preventive care exam.


Cat Behavior and What It Means

Domestic cats are descendants of the African wildcat, and many of the characteristic behaviors of these ancestors are still exhibited by cats today. An understanding of the origin and purpose of such behaviors can help cat owners appreciate their feline companions more fully and lead to an enhanced human-animal relationship.




Social Behavior

Once thought to be a social animals, it is now recognized that domestic cats can form complex social groupings. Studies have repeatedly shown that they form territories or ranges in which they live and defend these from intruders. In stable situations, cat territories can overlap without overt antagonistic interactions.

Communication

The cat has three primary methods of communication: vocal, visual and olfactory. Vocal communication involves a variety of sounds that convey different messages. Visual communication involves the body posture and facial expressions. For example, the position of the ears, hair and tail can offer important information about the emotional state of the cat. Olfactory communication plays a very important role in communication. The deposition of scents via facial marking, anal secretions and urine marking is an important communication tool for the feline.

Sexual Behavior

Female cats are seasonally polyestrus, with peaks in the Northern Hemisphere occurring from January to March and again from May to June. If they are not bred, estrus will last about 10 days and the female will cycle every three weeks for several months. During estrus, the female will engage in increased activity, vocalizations and marking with urine and other glandular secretions. Crouching with rear end elevated and rolling are common body postures that a female may exhibit during estrus.

Eating Behavior

In the wild, the cat developed as a solitary hunter that targeted various small prey. This led to an eating pattern of multiple small meals with considerable variety in the diet. Many domesticated cats continue this pattern and exhibit a preference for a variety of foods.

Bathroom Behavior

Kittens start to eliminate independently at about 4 weeks of age. They instinctively prefer to eliminate in fine particulate material with good drainage. Most cats will investigate a potential spot, dig a hole and pass urine or feces in the squatting position. Cats usually will then cover the elimination.

Sleeping Patterns

Although cats have traditionally been described as nocturnal creatures, they are actually crepuscular by nature, which means that they are more active in the twilight and evening hours. The average adult cat spends 10 hours per day sleeping and an additional five hours resting.

The Best Tips on Crate Training Your Puppy

Just like a new parent needs a crib for a new baby, a new dog owner should provide a crate for his or her new pup. Crates are a place your puppy can call his own - a place they can go and retreat when they want or need space. Crates are an indispensable aid in house training and dealing with misbehavior, and provides a safe place for your dog when you're away. It's also a convenient method of carrying your pet when you travel.

Choosing a Crate

Both solid plastic airline and wire mesh crates are available. If you travel extensively, the foldable wire mesh crates are preferable. When purchasing a crate, make sure there is enough room for your dog to stand up and move around.




Introducing the Crate

If you introduce the crate when your dog is young, he should readily adjust to it. Puppies love people, so put the crate in an area where you and your family spend time. The kitchen, den or family room are generally the best places. Crates need to be perceived as a fun place where your pup wants to be. If the crate is placed in an isolated area, your puppy may cry and bark.

A rule of thumb for how many hours your pup can be confined is the number of months they are old plus one; i.e., a three-month-old pup should not be crated more than four hours. Each dog has its own individual preferences and differences. Most puppies can hold their needs by four months of age if they’re on a feeding and watering schedule.

Initially try and introduce the crate early in the day on a weekend and keep the door open. This allows him to investigate the area. Throw some treats in the crate, play fetch the ball in the crate, store his toys in there and let him go in and out at his own leisure. Feed him in the crate, leaving the door open. If he initially hesitates - put the bowl near the crate door so he can reach in and get to it.

Closing the Door

It is important to schedule crating after your pup has had a good amount of exercise and has eliminated. Put your puppy in there when he is tired and give him a treat and a toy, then praise him and shut the door. Provide him with a toy or bone that he can chew. (If necessary, this bone or toy can amuse him for several hours.) As soon as this is done, leave the room for a few minutes. He may complain, but give him a few minutes. Never reward his cries by letting him out (he will learn to continue crying if you do so). Once his crying has stopped, let him out.

Do not put papers in the cage. This may encourage him to go to the bathroom there. If your pup messes on blankets in the crate, do not put any inside the crate.

The Noisy Pup

Some puppies will cry continuously for 15 minutes or more. If crying continues, a light correction may be needed. You can try to sneak up on the pup (without him seeing you) and tap the wall. This sudden noise may quiet him. You may need to repeat this several times. Another recommendation is to try a squirt from a water gun or shake a soda can full of coins. Just remember not to speak. You don't want the puppy to associate the punishment with you. If all else fails, anti-barking devises such as a citronella spray collar may be needed. This is quite effective and a humane method to control barking.

Hello, Polly: An Intro to Your New Pet Bird

Unlike dogs, birds require much less care. A bird, or several birds for that matter, can be left alone all day, while a dog needs to be walked regularly. For many working couples, it is impractical to keep a pet dog. In many apartments and residential communities, there are regulations that prohibit dog and cat ownership. Many people that cannot own dogs or cats would still love to have an affectionate pet. For many people, the company of a beautiful, unique, affectionate and possibly talking pet can make keeping birds an attractive alternative to other pets.

The personalities, housing and dietary needs of different types of birds must be considered by prospective bird owners.To select a healthy bird, look for: bright, smooth feathers; full breast muscles; clear, alert eyes; and playful activity. Shivering, ruffled feathers, shut eyes and inactivity often indicate a health problem. All new pet birds should be checked by your veterinarian, if possible, before the sale is final.

Nutrition

To ensure your bird stays healthy, it must be fed a proper diet. A balanced diet contains ingredients from all of the major food groups. Quantities of different foods should be adjusted so that the bird samples everything and doesn't fill up on just one preferred food. A seed-only diet is deficient in many nutrients and leads to malnutrition, poor feathers, increased susceptibility to illness and a shortened life. Processed foods (in pellet form), fruits, vegetables, cereals, breads, and proteins like beans, eggs or meats should be offered to provide a well-balanced diet. Birds are one type of pet where we encourage the feeding of people food. Clean, fresh water always must be available. Nutritional and vitamin supplements can be used under the guidance of your veterinarian. Birds, like people, frequently have strong preferences for certain foods. Even if they are stubborn, we should not give up on getting them to eat what is best for them.

Housing & Environment

The type and size of your bird's cage should be carefully matched for each bird. If a cage is too small or the bars too widely spaced, the bird's wings may be injured or the pet may escape. The cage must be made of non-toxic materials that can withstand the abuse of heavy chewing. It also must be secured so that it is not easily knocked over. Within the cage, food and water cups must be anchored. Dishes should be kept clean and free of any droppings. Perches of the proper size, material and position are essential. Using a variety of perch diameters keeps the feet and legs in good condition. Sand paper perch covers can cause sores and are best avoided. Newspapers (black and white, not colored), paper towels, or brown paper are the preferred bedding materials. These materials are inexpensive and allow droppings to be easily observed for problems. To minimize the bird's exposure to bacteria and fungi, the bedding should be changed daily.

The cage and all of its contents should be cleaned regularly with mild soap, followed by a thorough rinsing. Stronger disinfectants approved by your veterinarian may be used periodically. Healthy birds can adapt to any comfortable room temperature. However, sudden, dramatic changes in temperature can cause chilling. Additionally, many common household items can be poisonous to birds. Some of these items include fumes from overheated Teflon cookware, tobacco smoke, paints that contain lead, chemical cleaners, insecticides, many aerosol products and certain house plants.

Veterinary Care

Birds hide illness quite well. Often, owners don't even realize that a bird is sick until it is almost too late. By the time a bird shows symptoms, it may have been sick for a long time. Owners should be aware of any subtle change in the bird's behavior. Slight decreases in appetite or activity may signal an illness requiring medical care. It is always best to catch problems early. As with most pets, birds benefit from having a yearly checkup.