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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

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Dental care is vital to your pet's health! If you've already established a dental care program for your pet, you're off to a great start. But if your pet hasn't received a dental exam from your veterinarian, it's time to get started. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, the perfect time to schedule a dental exam for your pet and develop a home care regimen for your best friend.

Why is dental care so important for your pet? Periodontal disease is the number one diagnosed problem in pets - by the age of two, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have periodontal disease in one form or another. The buildup of plaque and tartar on your pet's teeth leads to bacterial infections that can enter the bloodstream and infect other parts of your pet's body. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, osteoporosis and other problems.

A Pet's Teeth Before and After a Dental Cleaning

The good news is that periodontal disease is easily prevented. Regular dental cleanings and a home dental care regimen can eliminate the plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease and oral infections. During a dental cleaning, your veterinarian also performs a complete oral examination of your pet. This includes screening for oral cancer, broken teeth and cavities. Spotting these problems early on makes them easier to treat and improves your pet's overall oral health.

Your pet's dental cleaning is more involved than the same process you go through at your dentist's office. Anesthesia is required to keep your pet still and comfortable during the procedure. Because of this, your pet undergoes a thorough physical examination before each dental cleaning. Laboratory blood tests, as well as other diagnostic procedures are also used to screen for potential problems and risks before anesthesia is administered. Using these results, we develop a safe anesthetic protocol specifically for your pet.

A Cat's Teeth Before and After a Dental Cleaning

During a dental cleaning, tartar is removed from your pet's teeth with a hand scaler. Next, a periodontal probe is used to check for pockets under the gumline - where periodontal disease and bad breath start. An ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above the gumline and a curette is used to clean the teeth under the gumline and in the crevices. Finally, the teeth are polished and an anti-bacterial solution is applied to help delay future tartar build-up.

Dental care doesn't end in your veterinarian's office. Brushing your pet's teeth at home is an added level of protection against gum disease. In order to be most effective, brushing must be done at least three times a week; however, daily brushing is ideal. Brushing your pet's teeth can be supplemented with antiseptic rinses. Some pet foods and treats are also effective in preventing plaque and tartar buildup. However, there is no substitute for regular brushing and professional dental cleanings.

Call the hospital to schedule a dental examination and cleaning for your pet today. Your best friend will thank you!

Who's Walking Who - Dog Obedience & Behavioral Training

Dogs are extremely clear about relationships: either you are someone to listen to, or you are someone to be directed. Period. Power struggles evolve around the issue of control. They result from a lack of clear-cut delineation of roles, or a lack of respect for the designated authority figure. Power struggles are learned behavior.

Dogs are pack animals like wolves, and they respond naturally to the laws of pack existence. A dog is a dog; from a Great Dane or a Rottweiler to a Poodle or a Chihuahua, they will lead or be lead. Just because your puppy does not live in a wild pack does not mean that she will not instinctively adapt these behaviors to her domestic environment. Living with your puppy will be much more enjoyable and meaningful if you understand the basic principles of pack life and apply them to your relationship. Dominance and submission are absolutely central to the pack.

All puppies love to play; you can capitalize on this by making play sessions with your pup part of her training. Play conditions your pup to be enthusiastic about learning and to enjoy being with you. By mixing training with games, you can bring out of a healthy attitude in your pup that will carry over to conventional obedience work as she gets older.

Prevention, which is easier than correction, is the name of the game. Start grooming right away even if there isn't much to groom. Rough games encourage rough behavior, so avoid rowdy forms of play. Don't encourage your puppy to do anything you do not want your adult dog to do. Get your puppy used to having you touch her while she eats. Never pet a barking or whining puppy: the response to soothe the upset youngster is seen as praise, leading to more of the same later in life. If you can ignore the noise, praise her when she stops. Get a puppy used to all kinds of handling early. When you get your pup, be sure to gently grab her skin, hold her tail for a second, or lift up one of her paws. Always be gentle; you do not want to hurt the pup.

Do what is truly natural: be your dog's leader. Most dogs love their owners, but many don't respect them. Respect is earned, not given. Dogs adore and respect a confident leader who is decisive and fair.

VIDEO: Strange Things Found in Pets' Stomachs

As improbable as it seems, a puppy can swallow an 11" steak knife and survive without any apparent lasting effects. Veterinarians from across the country have submitted x-rays in a contest to find the most unusual objects found in a pet's stomachs. Will the winner be the snake who ate the light bulbs or the dog who ate nine batteries of various sizes? Watch this video to learn more.


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VIDEO: How to Give Your Cat a Pill

When your veterinarian prescribes medication to treat your cat, and it's in pill form, you may be at a loss as to how to hold her down and force her to swallow it. It doesn't have to be as traumatic as that. The following video shows how to give the cat a pill quickly and without injury to you or your cat.

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.”

Winter Pet Care Tips

Winter is a difficult time for pets. Outdoor animals need extra care in order to cope with the cold weather. Special attention should also be paid to older animals, young puppies, and animals with short coats.

It is important for all animals to be properly nourished during the winter months. Outdoor animals require about 25 percent more food during the winter months than during warmer months. The increase in food is necessary to generate enough heat for the body to stay warm. Indoor animals often require less food, since exercise is generally limited.

Pets require adequate shelter during the cold weather. Outdoor dogs should have an insulated dog house that is protected from the wind. The dog house should not be too large (the heat that the dog generates is used to keep him or her warm) and the opening should face south or southeast. A plastic flap should cover the entrance, especially during windy days. Straw, hay, or blankets make excellent bedding material.

Cats generally do not find dog houses very appealing. A small entrance flap (cat door) to the basement of the house, or to the garage, will provide an access to shelter during the cold weather.

Outdoor animals cannot eat snow for a source of water. Clean, fresh water must be provided several times each day. A water heater is a practical solution; however, it must be safe and installed properly.

Check your pet's paws during the winter

During the cold weather, cats often take shelter under the hood of cars. A warm engine is a comfortable area for a cat to rest. When the car is started, the cat risks severe injuries from the fan belt or blades. Before starting a car, knock on the hood or raise it in order to conduct a safety check.

Paws should be checked regularly during the winter months. Snow and ice should be removed from the fur located between the toes. Damp paws should be thoroughly dried. Moisture that accumulates between the toes can cause sores. De-icing chemicals and salt are common irritants. If these products are commonly used, animals paws should be bathed regularly.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic if ingested by animals. The sweet taste is often appealing to cats and dogs. Antifreeze that is spilled should be cleaned up immediately.

Pets often experience dry skin during the winter months. Lack of humidity tends to dry the skin. Frequent grooming and brushing helps stimulate the production of oil from the skin glands. A topical humectant spray can be purchased at the hospital to help moisturize the skin and keep the coat shiny.

Occasionally an animal is accidentally left outdoors for an extended period of time in extremely cold weather. As a result, frostbite may occur. The most common areas for frostbite are the tips of the ears, paw pads, and the tip of the tail. The frostbite area should be bathed in warm, not hot, water, and the animal then should be taken to a veterinary hospital.

Kindness is the best care in winter months

Kindness is the best care for animals during the winter months. If the temperature drops below 15 degrees F., the pet should be moved indoors. If an animal is shivering or refuses to play, this generally means that he or she is too cold and should be brought indoors.