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Newsletter

The veterinarians and staff at Greece Animal Hospital 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

Dog Storm Phobia

It’s storm season, and Spot is going wild. Maybe he’s pacing, hiding under the bed, shaking, panting, or simply craves your attention – whatever it may be, he’s scared and needs your help. Many pet owners think that their dogs will grow out of their phobias, and therefore don’t bother to indulge in Spot’s tantrums. Yet oftentimes it will only get worse with time if nothing is done to help curb your dog’s fears.

Can I have your attention?

There are various theories about why dogs are particularly affected by storms. Some say that low-frequency waves and even electric shocks effect dogs immediately preceding the storm, which humans cannot even hear or feel. This builds anxiety, and by the time the storm has hit, your dog has gone full-fledge manic. But really, can you blame him?

Here are a few tips to help alleviate your dog’s storm phobia:

  • Calm him down like you would your own child. Speak to your dog in a soft and soothing voice in order to assure him that there is no need for stress and fear. Never yell at him when he reacts to the storm, this will only increase his fear – and with it, his barking. This does not, however, mean you should over-coddle him. This may only worsen his phobia.
  • Reward calm behavior. Try to train your dog to settle down on command and learn that becoming calm is a behavior that – along with sit and stay – will be rewarded.
  • Exercise and tire out your dog before a storm is scheduled to hit. This way he’ll have less energy to focus on stress.
  • Create a safe room for your dog to go during the storm. This can be a carpeted room without windows, a basement, or other place where you can play calming music without hearing the outside commotion. However, don’t confine your dog to a small space, especially a crate, as this will only build anxiety.
  • Play a CD with light storm sounds in order to better acclimate your dog throughout the year. You can supply him with treats while he remains calm through the sounds, and gradually increase the volume over time.
  • Consider melatonin or other anti-anxiety drugs. Melatonin doesn’t typically make dogs sleep, but it is known to calm them down and help thwart against bothersome noise. If you think your dog could benefit from a prescription – or if you have any other concerns, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

Although there’s no easy solution, a few minor adjustments and a bit of patience will go a long way towards helping your Fido weather the storm.

Selecting a Boarding Kennel For Your Dog

Every owner wants to find a well-run boarding kennel for their pet, but how do you tell if it is well-run? Here's a ten point check list for any facility you are considering.

  1. Do They Allow Inspection?
    You should be able to tour the whole facility with little advance notice. Any facility which refuses a tour is suspect. Many facilities are very busy and have specific tour hours. Please be respectful of their visiting hours.
  2. Dogs Should Look Happy
    While touring the kennel, most of the dogs should be up near or on the gates wagging their tails, barking and generally making a nuisance of themselves. One or two may hang back, but most should be up front.
  3. Fencing
    Double fencing is a must. Double fencing is one line of well maintained fence with another line of equally well maintained fence a few feet away. This ensures that even if a dog does get out of his run, he is still contained. Single fence facilities are OK; however, double fencing is much better.
  4. Doors
    There should always be two doors between your animal and freedom. Facilities which have doors directly to the outside in the kennel area are accidents waiting to happen.
  5. A Member of ABKA?
    ABKA stands for American Boarding Kennel Association, and is a good sign of the owner's commitment to professionalism. It isn't a guarantee, and lack of it does not mean the kennel isn't first-class, but it is reassuring to see the ABKA logo.
  6. Requires Vaccinations
    Good kennels require proof of up-to-date vaccinations including kennel cough (bordatella). Never leave an animal in a kennel where vaccinations are not required. This is your only guarantee against some major contagious diseases.
  7. Smells Clean
    Your nose knows. A boarding kennel filled with dogs will smell like dogs. Along with dogs, you may well smell disinfectant. There shouldn't be an overwhelming stench of urine or feces. Occasionally a dog comes in for boarding who isn't clean in their indoor pen, but these are rare. If more than a couple of dogs have urine and/or feces in their indoor areas, something is wrong.
  8. Indoor/Outdoor Runs
    These are attached runs with an individual door for each dog. This situation is safer and less stressful for your pet than being kept in a crate and taken outside a few times daily. The exception to this is dogs who may become frightened in the kennel. For these dogs, crating in a quieter area is best.
  9. Boarding Kennels and Disease
    No matter how excellent the kennel, boarding is still a stressful experience for most dogs. Stress leaves animals susceptible to disease. Also, not all vaccinations are 100 percent effective. Even dogs who have been vaccinated against kennel cough and viral diarrhea can pick up a strain not covered by the vaccine. Even a carefully run facility will occasionally have an intestinal bug. We take for granted that our children will get colds or skin a knee at school or camp, yet we are surprised when our dogs do the canine equivalent at a kennel.
  10. Provide Information
    If an emergency occurs, the kennel's obligation is to inform you of the situation (if possible), get the dog the necessary veterinary care while at their facility, and to practice thorough sanitation measures. Disease is rare at a good facility - but it can happen. That's just part of the package when your board your dog. Because of this, elderly dogs; puppies under six months of age; fearful, anxious dogs, and dogs with immune problems are best cared for in a home environment.
Caring For Older Cats

In general, cats live longer than dogs. The average life span of a housecat is about 12-15 years. Some cats are extremely healthy, living well into their 20s.

Cats grow old gracefully. As they grow older, they have a tendency to sleep more. An elderly cat generally spends most of his or her time sleeping on a couch, a comfortable chair, or on a blanket close to a heat source.

Senior Cat

Senior Cats Sleep More


Older cats are less active and less playful than kittens and young cats. They are also more irritable. As cats get older, their organs function less efficiently. Degeneration of the kidneys, thyroid glands, pancreas and adrenal glands occurs, resulting in kidney failure, hyperthyroidism and diabetes. Their senses (sight, smell, and hearing) have a tendency to deteriorate as well.

Older cats need help with grooming. As cats get older, they groom themselves less, as well as less effectively. Long-haired cats are particularly bothered by coat problems. Their coats are often matted, causing severe skin irritations. If an elderly cat is unable to keep up with his or her grooming, human intervention may be necessary. Long-haired cats and short-haired cats that do not groom themselves effectively should be brushed or combed twice a week.

Constipation is a common problem of older cats. It is often the result of a decrease in gastrointestinal tract motility. Hairballs can also cause constipation and very often they lead to intestinal impaction. Surgery is occasionally necessary in order to remove obstructive hairballs. Since hairballs are not easily regurgitated, preventative medication such as laxatives should be administered once a week. The use of a laxative is recommended for the prevention of intestinal obstruction, however if the laxative is given too frequently, it can interfere with intestinal absorption of vitamins and minerals.

The skin and nails of an older cat should be checked regularly. The skin should be checked for lumps and bumps. If lumps are found, the cat should be examined by a veterinarian. Nails should be checked and trimmed on a weekly basis. Untrimmed nails have a tendency to curl around, causing self-inflicted injury.

Senior cats need dental car.

Senior Cats May Need Dental Care


Many elderly cats are prone to dental tartar build-up. Tartar causes bad breath and can lead to dental problems — gum disease and tooth loss. Cats may tolerate a bit of home dentistry like brushing; however, they must be taken to a veterinary hospital for treatment. Treatment generally consists of cleaning and polishing the teeth.

Kidney failure is a very common disease of older cats. This occurs when 70 percent of the kidney's functions are lost. Early symptoms of kidney failure include weight loss, increased thirst, increased urination (frequency and amount), decreased appetite, and occasional vomiting. Symptoms of kidney failure result from the buildup of toxins in the body, which are normally removed by healthy kidneys.

Specially formulated foods are available for cats that are diagnosed with kidney failure. These foods may be purchased through your veterinarian.

Cancer, usually resulting from feline leukemia virus infection, is commonly diagnosed in elderly cats. The virus is transmitted from an infected cat to a healthy cat through intimate "nose-to-nose" contact with infected saliva. There are no specific symptoms for feline leukemia virus infection; however, tumors of the lymph nodes, kidneys and intestines are quite common. Other symptoms include weight loss, anemia (decrease in red blood cells), poor appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.

Hyperthyroidism is a very common endocrine problem in older cats. Hyperthyroidism is due to an overproduction of thyroid hormone by the thyroid glands (two glands, one gland on each side of the throat). Symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include drastic weight loss, hyperactivity, and increased appetite. This disease can be treated medically, surgically, or with radiation therapy.

Heart problems are often diagnosed in elderly cats. The most common heart disease is cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a primary heart disease, though it can develop secondary to kidney disease and hyperthyroidism.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that commonly affects older animals. Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and increased urination. Animals with diabetes mellitus often have ravenous appetites. Insulin is usually necessary for controlling diabetes mellitus in older cats.

Older cats do not appreciate change. They feel comfortable with the status quo. Environmental changes are not well tolerated. If a vacation or a trip is planned, have someone come to your home to feed your cat. An elderly cat does not do well in a kennel situation.

Change Generates Stress For Older Cats

Change Generates Stress For Older Cats


Since older cats spend most of the day resting, the location of their bed is important. This area should be draft-free, warm, and not damp.

Elderly cats loose some of their ability to digest specific foods. The ability to digest and assimilate fat declines with age. Olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) senses are diminished. Food may need to be warmed (not hot) in order to entice an older cat to eat. It is not recommended to give food directly from the refrigerator.

Fresh clean water should be available at all times. The water bowl should be checked and filled at least once a day.

Routine veterinary check-ups, along with blood and urine tests, are important for detecting medical problems before they become emergency situations. Discuss an examination schedule specific to your cat with your veterinarian.

VIDEO: Pain Relievers for Pets Are Dramatically Improved

The introduction of pain relief medications for dogs has improved the lives of millions of dogs in the United States and across the globe. Some pet owners are concerned about Internet rumors of severe side effects and have chosen not to give these medications to their pets. Are these drugs safe or are we putting our dogs at risk? New research and experience trials are giving us the answers. Watch this video to learn more.

 

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Have Backyard Chickens? Take Precautions!

Have Backyard Chickens? Take Precautions!

Three hundred people nation-wide have been linked to an outbreak of salmonella originating from a hatchery in Ohio. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the outbreak has stemmed from humans in contact with live chickens from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries, which supplies live chicks to stores in several states. Many of those infected raise backyard chickens.



Backyard Chickens


The CDC says that consumers who own live poultry can protect themselves against the illness by washing hands thoroughly with soap immediately after touching live poultry, keeping live poultry outside the house, and keeping living spaces for live poultry clean. The CDC offers additional information on salmonella prevention, as well as symptoms, on their website at http://www.cdc.gov.

If Your Dog Bites Someone...

As an owner, you have a responsibility to ensure that your dog doesn't bite your neighbor, the letter carrier, or anyone else he or she encounters. Not only is a dog bite painful and possibly disfiguring to the recipient, it can cost you thousands of dollars in civil and criminal penalties. A single bite may risk cancellation of your homeowner's insurance, and the local authorities may even require that the dog be euthanized.

There are good reasons why the penalties can be severe. Dog-bite claims are costing the insurance industry about $1 billion per year. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 500,000 to 1 million dog-bite victims in the United States require medical attention each year; many other cases are not reported. As many as 20 Americans die from dog bites annually.

The legal ramifications vary widely. If you are found to have violated a specific law or ordinance, such as a leash law, you may face criminal penalties. Even if no laws were broken, the victim can sue you. In a worst-case scenario, the dog could be ordered to be euthanized by the court, and the owner could face criminal charges (in addition to any civil charges the victim might decide to bring) and be jailed or fined for harboring a vicious animal. Criminal charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the case and the jurisdiction. Dog owners can also lose their homeowner's insurance or be required to pay very high rates and obtain very high amounts of coverage if they continue to own the dog. Many companies do not write homeowner's policies if you own specific breeds of dogs.

Lesser penalties can include a warning citation, a fine, or the requirement that the dog be evaluated by a certified behaviorist, muzzled when in public, or confined in a covered pen.

How cases are determined

The laws regarding dog bites vary from city to city and depend upon many factors. The factors are normally taken into consideration by a judge or jury vary, but there are common circumstances that are considered. Among these are whether the victim provoked the bite by tormenting the dog, whether the bite occurred on or off the dog owner's property, and whether the owner was aware that the dog could pose a danger to anyone wandering onto the property. Of course, anyone who deliberately uses a dog as a means of attack is automatically liable, except under the most dire of circumstances. The severity of the bite itself is also always taken into consideration.

Averting disaster

To prevent dog bites and their severe consequences, owners have several responsibilities:

  • Before getting a dog, learn about the breed and make sure you can handle problems associated with its characteristic behaviors. Some breeds are more prone to biting than others.
  • Socialize your dog when she's a puppy, using positive techniques. A puppy that has very limited exposure to humans will probably fear them as an adult dog.
  • Don't make excuses for any warning signs that the dog gives. These warning signs must be dealt with in an appropriate way.
  • Don't violate leash laws.
  • Neuter male dogs to curb aggressive tendencies.
  • Make sure your dog treats all people as friends. Asking the dog to make a discrimination as to who belongs on his property and who doesn't is not realistic.
  • If your dog displays aggressive behavior, do not ignore it. The first thing to do is contact a veterinarian to rule out medical problems. After this, contact a veterinary behaviorist, a certified animal behaviorist, or a dog trainer experienced at handling aggression cases.

VIDEO: Traveling with Pets Doesn't Have to Drive You Crazy

By plane or car, more pet owners than ever are taking their dogs and cats on vacation with them. A few minutes of preparation and homework can help you to avoid common pitfalls and even serious accidents and injury to your pet. Whether it's picking up vaccine records from your family veterinarian or calling ahead to find pet friendly hotels, your "vacation homework" could just be a lifesaver. Watch this video to learn more.


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Colleges Opening their Doors to Pets

As enrollment figures are starting to drop, many colleges are welcoming pets. Administrators at Stevens College in Columbia, MO and State University of New York at Canton have seen enrollments increase and emotional problems, often associated with students leaving home for the first time, decrease since allowing pets on campus.

A survey of 1,400 colleges lists allergies and irresponsible students as the two main reasons for not allowing pets. Other objections include mess, noise, disease, biting, roommate issues and pet abandonment. Schools that allow pets solve these problems in a variety of ways, including special dorms for students with pets and extra security deposits and cleaning fees. Schools also require current veterinary records and waivers of liability.


A girl and her dog on the quad


Here are a few schools that allow students to bring their pets to college:

MIT – Cambridge, MA
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students may keep cats in “cat-friendly” areas of certain dormitories. The cat-friendly areas have a Pet Chair who is responsible for approving and keeping track of pets in the dorm, and the pet owner must have approval from his or her roommates.

Stetson University – DeLand, FL
Stetson University allows students to bring fish, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, mice, cats and dogs under 50 pounds to pet-friendly housing areas on campus. While several breeds of dogs including pit bulls and Rottweilers are prohibited, the college nonetheless won the Halifax Humane Society’s 2011 Wingate Award for encouraging responsible pet ownership.

Eckerd College – St. Petersburg, FL
Students with pet ducks are in luck at Eckerd College. In addition to cats, small dogs and rabbits, the college allows owners of waterfowl to cohabitate with their feathered friend in its pet friendly dormitories. All pets on the Eckerd campus must be registered with Eckerd’s pet council.

Stephens College – Columbia, MO
Stephens College is home to Searcy Hall, affectionately referred to by students as “Pet Central.” In addition to welcoming cats and small dogs, Stephens offers an on-campus doggie daycare and opportunities to foster pets through a nearby no-kill animal rescue organization.

Caltech – Pasadena, CA
Students housed in Caltech’s seven pet-friendly dorms are allowed to keep up to two indoor cats. Cats are provided with an ID tag by Caltech’s housing office, and students must remove cats if neighbors complain.

SUNY Canton – Canton, NY
State University of New York’s Canton campus has a designated pet wing where students are allowed to keep one cat or a small caged pet with the approval of the residence hall director. Pets in this area are allowed free reign in the hall, as the school’s pet wing community tries to promote a family-like atmosphere for its residents.

These are just a few of the colleges that currently allow pets on campus. In fact, a recent survey of college admissions officers found that 38% of schools have housing where some pets are permitted, with 10% of those schools allowing dogs and 8% allowing cats. Students who dread leaving Fido behind every fall might not have to if they choose a pet-friendly college.