The veterinarians and staff at the McKillip 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

Say Thank You: World Veterinary Day is April 29

Saturday, April 29 is World Veterinary Day for 2017. Started by the World Veterinary Association, World Veterinary Day was started to honor veterinarians and spread awareness of the One Health Concept, which “recognizes that the health and well-being of animals, humans and the ecosystem are interconnected, and depend on effective and sustained collaboration between human and animal-focused disciplines.”

But what does your veterinarian actually do?

If you think veterinary medicine is about animals, you’re only partially right. Animals don’t call veterinarians. People call veterinarians. The vast range of people and places needing veterinary services include research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, dairies, swine farms, public health departments, feed industry, livestock industry and pet owners. Veterinary medicine is a great field because it encompasses so many different areas.

Most people don’t realize how closely human medicine is linked to veterinary medicine. Lifesaving medical advances, in areas from vaccine development to heart surgery, could not have been made without the use of research animals. People may also be unaware of the public services that involve veterinarians. Government agencies from the FDA to state health departments rely on veterinarians to track rabies, foodborne illnesses and diseases transmitted from animals to people.

Of course, there are many benefits to working closely with animals. One of the pleasures of being a veterinarian is that people who own animals love their animals, whether the animals are horses, pigs, iguanas or puppies. You are generally dealing with people with empathy who like what they are doing. They recognize that what is best for the animal is also usually best for them.

For more information about World Veterinary Day, check out the World Veterinary Association’s website.

Earth Day: How to Make Your Dog More Green

Let's face it: Dogs have big carbon pawprints, as we all do. Because they are largely carnivorous, their toll on the environment is nearly as large as that of a human, but there are ways to create a more environmentally sustainable pooch.

What is a Carbon Pawprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere just by living our daily lives. Environmental groups have been watching the rising amount of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and urging everyone to cut back where they can. The biggest emitters of CO2 are automobiles, factories and coal-fired power plants. But even the family dog creates its share of harmful greenhouse gases. Some report that the dog is as big an emitter as the family SUV.

The Carnivorous Diet

Your dog's meat-loving diet is the biggest factor in his carbon emissions. Beef cows emit methane, an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Even chickens and lambs are not raised in an eco-friendly way, and those heavy bags of dry food and cans of meaty foods have to travel a very long way to get to your door.

The solution? Make your own dog food using locally grown or organic vegetables and vegetable proteins. Your veterinarian can help you determine the exact mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat to keep the dog happy and healthy, and can suggest vitamins and minerals that should be included.

Consider how much healthier homemade meals can be for your dog, especially considering the recent recalls of commercial pet food. Toxins and salmonella introduced in the manufacturing process poisoned and sickened many pets. Your homemade dog food also won't have chemicals and preservatives.

If this seems too complicated, consider buying smaller packages of locally made dog food, or you can switch to meat sources other than beef, which have less impact on the environment.

Other Environmental Impacts

When buying pet products, look for eco-friendly brands that limit the amount of harmful chemicals that will eventually enter the air or water. Dog shampoos often contain environmental pollutants such as sodium lauryl sulfate. Read labels. If you are buying dog toys, avoid plastic and synthetic products and look for recycled and recyclable goods. There are many available products made from natural fibers such as organic cotton or hemp. Dogs love cotton stuffed animal toys they can toss around, but make sure they are tough enough not to break apart.

Safe Flea and Tick Treatments

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently published a warning about flea control products. Their research suggests that some products pose a risk of cancer for children. If you have young children in the household, ask your vet about safe handling instructions for your pest products. You may wish to consider some alternate products available from your veterinarian. You can also read the NRDC's list of safer flea control products.

Pooper Scoopers

When walking your dog in a city park or along suburban sidewalks, most dog owners know to pick up after their dogs. Not scooping the poop is irresponsible. If you leave dog droppings, the bacteria can contaminate nearby water reservoirs and wells. If you are picking up after your dog, shop for biodegradable plastic bags.

Control Pet Populations

Overpopulation of dogs, and a surplus of unwanted dogs, is not a healthy situation for the planet. Spaying and neutering your dog is the eco-conscious thing to do. An unwanted litter of puppies creates a huge environmental impact, as much as a fleet of SUVs. Consider visiting a shelter or rescue organization when it comes time to add a dog to your family.

Small steps such as these can make a difference, especially when practices become widespread. You don't have to give up the dog to be environmentally responsible. If we all do our part, we can make pet ownership sustainable.

Let’s Go: Advice on Getting Your Cat into Their Carrier

Your cat is cuddly, friendly and charming, but when it comes time to put them in their carrier, they can turn into your worst enemy. Scratching, meowing, hissing ─ we all know these telltale signs. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Getting your cat to the veterinarian is important, getting it done without causing your cat distress, more so. Here are a few pointers to help get your cat to and from the hospital with the least amount of conflict.

Decide on the Type of Carrier

Consider starting out with a hard-sided carrier. Many of these carriers have openings at both the front and on top. When it comes time to let your cat out of the carrier, it's better to have the option of picking them up from the top, instead of forcing them to come through the front.

Soft-sided carriers are lighter and easier to handle. Like the hard-sided carrier, they also open from the top and the front, but they're not quite as sturdy and might not be comfortable for your cat's first few trips to the vet.

Let Your Cat Get Acclimated to the Carrier before Traveling

Putting your cat into a new environment and suddenly rushing them off in the car can be traumatizing, causing your cat to fear their carrier and what it means when they are in it. Instead of forcing your cat into their carrier, let them explore it on their own. Try putting some treats or a favorite toy inside, and over time they will grow comfortable with the carrier on their own terms. So, when it does come time to see the veterinarian, they'll feel comfortable with getting inside the carrier instead of fearing it.

If Your Cat Refuses, Try This

Regardless of the amount of time or comfortability your cat has with his or her carrier, there are going to be times when they just don't feel like taking a trip. If that's the case, here's one method of helping them get into the carrier that's tried and tested:

• Position the carrier so that the front door is open and facing the ceiling
• Put a soft blanket in the bottom of the carrier
• Pick your cat up and gently lower him down into carrier
• Once he is positioned comfortably, shut the gate and slowly lower the carrier back down to its normal resting position.

Flea Control for Your Cat

The summer is made for lazing about in the sun and spending time outdoors, two activities cats love. But when the weather is warm, fleas are never far behind. As temperatures rise, it becomes increasingly important to protect your feline friend from hungry fleas.

Keeping fleas off your pet and out of your home is about more than just stopping your pet's constant scratching. Aside from itchy, irritating bites, fleas can cause the skin disease flea allergy dermatitis in both cats and dogs, as well as miliary dermatitis in cats. A single flea bite can trigger flea allergy dermatitis, which can lead to excessive scratching, hair loss and, potentially, a secondary bacterial infection. Miliary dermatitis consists of small bumps, called papules that eventually develop into crusts. Fleas can also transmit Dipylidium caninum, or double-pore tapeworm, a common tapeworm found in dogs and cats, as well as a number of other diseases.

Even if fleas aren't on your pet right now, they may be living in your home. There are four stages in a flea's life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. It is only during the adult stage that the flea actually lives on an animal. During the other three stages, the flea lives in the surround environment. Immature fleas usually account for about 90 to 95 percent of the total flea population in a home. A good rule of thumb is that for every flea you find on your pet, there are about 100 more immature fleas living in the surrounding environment.

The average flea can live for anywhere between 12 days and 180 days, though the typical lifespan of a flea lasts three to six weeks. But even in that short amount of time, an adult female can lay more than 1,000 eggs, which means that even only one tiny flea can result in big problems.

How can you tell if fleas have invaded your home and latched on to your dog? Scratching is the first sign. During feeding, fleas inject saliva into the skin of the animal. This saliva contains proteins that cause allergic skin reactions, which leads to bouts of rubbing and scratching. Fleas are most commonly found on cats around the base of the tail and on the head, neck and ears. If you suspect your cat has fleas but cannot see them, check for "flea dirt." This is the excrement of the flea and consists of a mix of feces and dried blood. To find flea dirt, have your pet lay on the ground and place a piece of white paper underneath him or her. Brush your pet and let the paper collect any dirt or debris. Next, add a few drops of water to the dirt on the paper; if dried blood is present, the water will take on a reddish color, indicating the presence of flea dirt.

During the last several years, significant improvements have been made to flea control products. Oral and topical medications containing insect growth regulators (IGR) and insect development inhibitors (IDI) disrupt the flea's maturation process and stop infestations before they begin. These treatments are less toxic for pets and the environment and more effective in controlling fleas.

Topical treatments are more effective than past products because they remain on the surface of the pet's skin, where they are toxic only to fleas, rather than absorbed into the pet's bloodstream. The safest and most effective flea control products are available through your veterinarian. Flea control products designed for dogs should never be used on cats. Products containing pyrethrin- or pyrethroid-based chemicals can be dangerous and possibly fatal for your cat. You should keep dogs and cats separate immediately after applying flea control products.

How to Ease Your Dog's Separation Anxiety

What is the cause of this obsessive behavior?

Dogs are pack animals and need a social structure. They rely on other dogs (or humans) for interaction. They need to be socialized and need to understand what is expected of them. Many of them have been mistreated in the past and have been locked up alone for long periods of time. Some of them have been abandoned and have ended up in animal shelters.

Dogs need socialization.

Since our pets are usually not socialized in a pack, it is our responsibility to see that the job gets done. Obedience training is the best method for socializing a dog. Both the dog and the owner learn what is expected of each other. If obedience training is begun at an early age, the dog will learn how to interact with both humans and other dogs. They will not have this insecurity that "separation anxiety" dogs seem to display.

How do you treat this condition?

First of all, establish yourself as the leader. In order to learn this, both of you will probably need to enroll in a dog obedience class. This will also help your dog in the socialization game. He may misbehave during the first few classes, but before you know it, he'll be the star pupil. How does this affect the dog's destructive behavior when you leave him alone? Since you are the leader of the pack, the dog accepts the idea that you are leaving. He does not question your authority.

In the beginning, confine your dog to a crate when you are away. This has two advantages. The first is that your dog does not have the opportunity to destroy your house. The second is that your dog actually feels comfortable and secure in the crate. The crate must be large enough for your dog to turn around and stand up.

When you leave, turn on a radio. A talk show is the best type of program. A tape recording of your voice is even better. The radio or the tape recorder should be placed in the bedroom with the door closed (any room as long as the dog cannot enter). Since most destructive behavior occurs during the first hour, you only need a voice recording that lasts slightly more than an hour.

Plan your departures.Before leaving your residence, give your dog a treat. A chewy bone packed with his favorite treat works very well. This should distract your dog long enough for you to leave. Leave quickly and quietly. Do not say goodbye. When you return, give him another treat. By doing this, coming and going are not so traumatic.

Practice your departures.As mentioned earlier, the most difficult time for your dog is the first hour that he is left alone. Practice leaving and entering. Take your dog out of his crate, put your coat on, and then walk out the door. Return immediately. Greet your dog calmly or don't greet him at all. If he is excited, completely ignore him. Repeat the same exercise; however, this time stay out longer. Continue with this exercise until you are comfortable leaving him alone for an entire hour. This may take several weeks to perfect.

Your dog must have regular, planned exercise. This exercise relieves stress and tension. Just like feeding time, your dog needs a specific time for exercise. Dogs like routine. Feed and exercise your dog at the same times every day. They are creatures of habit.

Curing "separation anxiety" is very difficult. It is definitely one of the most challenging behavior problems in dogs. Enrolling in a good obedience-training course is the first step to take.

Proper Care of the Older Dog

Within the last few decades, advancements in veterinary medicine have caused a dramatic increase in the longevity of pets. Today, dogs, like humans, are living longer and healthier lives. As a result of this increased longevity, a new branch of canine medicine has emerged called canine geriatrics.

Older Dogs Require Additional Care

The aging process can be defined as the time when deterioration takes place faster than regeneration or repair. When the aging process becomes greatly accelerated, this is known as the "geriatric stage."

Not all dogs age at the same rate. In general, the larger the dog, the earlier the geriatric stage occurs. St. Bernards and Great Danes age more rapidly and have shorter life spans than Poodles and Terriers. Certain breeds have a tendency to reach the geriatric stage earlier than others. This is true for the Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced breeds) such Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs and Boxers. Aside from aging rapidly, the brachycephalic breeds do not age well because of respiratory problems associated with the anatomy of the face and head.

As a dog matures and reaches the geriatric stage, functional changes occur in most major organs and organ systems. Many of these changes can be anticipated, and special care is required. Since every dog is unique, an individualized geriatric program must be discussed with your veterinarian.

Functional changes that occur in geriatric dogs:

General Metabolic Rate - A decreased metabolic rate is the primary change associated with the aging process. As a result, an older dog's diet must be altered. In general, compared to the diet of a young active dog, an older dog's caloric intake should be reduced by about 20 percent. This can be accomplished by increasing the amount of fiber in the diet. In general, diets specially formulated for senior dogs contain increased amounts of fiber.

Cardiovascular System- Heart disease is a major problem in geriatric dogs. In fact, 75 percent of dogs over 9 years of age have evidence of heart disease. Although this number is quite large, only about 25 percent of these dogs develop symptoms of heart failure during their lifetime.

The most common heart disease in older dogs is endocardiosis. Endocardiosis is a degenerative disorder of the heart valves. The valves of the heart become thickened and distorted, leaking blood to other chambers when the heart contracts. Four valves are present in the heart: the mitral valve, the tricuspid valve, the aortic valve and the pulmonic valve. The mitral valve is most commonly affected. Symptoms associated with heart failure include coughing, respiratory problems, fatigue and exercise intolerance.

Medical management is often effective in controlling symptoms associated with heart disease. This includes reducing the amount and intensity of exercise, decreasing stress, lowering salt intake (homemade diets or special commercial low-salt diets) and administration of prescription medication.

Respiratory System- Tracheal Collapse in Small Dogs - This condition primarily occurs in toy and small breeds. This results from a weakening of the tracheal cartilage or the tracheal muscles. Obesity is a predisposing factor for tracheal collapse.

Bronchitis and Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - As dogs age, the normal elastic tissue of the lungs is replaced by fibrous tissue. This fibrous tissue decreases the capacity of the lungs to stretch. As a result, breathing becomes more difficult and less oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream. Small and toy breeds are predisposed to bronchitis and obstructive pulmonary disease.

Urinary System- As a result of the aging process, dogs' kidneys undergo degenerative changes. The kidneys normally filter waste material from the blood and concentrate urine. Older dogs' kidneys function less efficiently, and the ability to concentrate urine and eliminate waste products decreases. Symptoms associated with decreased kidney function include increased thirst, increased urine production weight loss and occasional vomiting.

Kidney failure is a life-threatening disease of animals. It is one of the most common medical problems encountered in older dogs. Regular veterinary exams, along with blood tests, are extremely important for detecting early changes associated with kidney disease. Bladder infections(cystitis) are also quite common in older animals. Straining during urination, increased frequency of urination and blood in the urine are common symptoms associated with cystitis.

Dental Care- Periodontal disease (the progressive inflammation and destruction of supporting structures of the teeth) is an important cause of teeth loss in older dogs. Dental care is often neglected and should begin at an early age. Veterinary teeth cleaning is the first step in maintaining healthy gums and teeth. Symptoms associated with advanced periodontal disease include bad breath, oral pain, reluctance to chew food and weight loss.

By combining regular veterinary visits with special home care, your dog can live a long healthy life. If your dog is approaching the twilight years, discuss blood testing and geriatric care with your veterinarian.

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