The veterinarians and staff at the Irving Pet 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

May is National Chip Your Pet Month. Here's Why You Should Microchip Your Pet.

Each year, millions of dogs and cats are lost; in fact, this disaster strikes 1/3 of all pet-owning families. Of the millions of cats and dogs that are lost, only 10% are ever identified and returned to their owners. More pets lives are lost because owners did not identify them than from all infectious diseases combined.

All pets should wear traditional collars with identification and rabies vaccination tags. A traditional collar, however, is not enough. These collars are often worn loosely and are easily removed. Cat collars are designed to break off if the animal is caught in a tree branch. When the traditional collar is lost, removed, or breaks off, nothing is left to identify the pet...unless, of course, the pet has a microchip.

Microchips are rapidly becoming a very popular method for identifying pets. Once the microchip is inserted, the pet is identified for life. Microchips are safe, unalterable and permanent identification for pets. The microchip is a tiny computer chip or transponder about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades of a cat or dog, in much the same way that a vaccine is administered. The microchip is coded with a unique 10-digit code. Each microchip that is inserted contains a unique code, specific to the individual pet.

Inserting the microchip is simple and causes minimal or no discomfort. The microchip comes pre-loaded in a syringe, ready for insertion. The entire procedure takes less than 10 seconds. Post-injection reactions are very rare and the encapsulated microchip remains in place permanently.

The scanner is a hand-held device used to detect the message encoded in the microchip. The scanner is passed over the animal, paying particular attention to the area between the shoulder blades. If a microchip is present, the 10-digit number (encoded in the capsule) is read by the scanner. Scanners are provided to animal control, humane shelters and other rescue organizations so that all stray pets are scanned and those with microchips are reunited with their owners. Veterinarians can also purchase scanners for use in their hospital.

The veterinary hospital where the microchip is implanted records the pet’s information and its unique microchip identification number. When a lost pet is found and scanned, the veterinary hospital is immediately contacted. Since most veterinary hospitals are not open 24 hours a day, it may take some time before you are notified. In addition to this standard registration, you can register your pet in your own name for a charge of $15-20. By doing this, as soon as your pet is found, you are notified.

Along with the additional registration fee, we recommend that you update your personal information with the microchip database on a regular basis. It is also advisable to have your veterinarian test the microchip on an annual basis in order to make sure that it is properly transmitting data.

How to Care for Your New Puppy or Kitten: Feeding & Grooming

Congratulations on your new family member! If you are new to pet ownership or a seasoned veteran, it is important to stay up to date on proper care for your new puppy or kitten.

The Importance of Nutrition

Proper nutrition is extremely important for the health of your growing puppy or kitten. For this reason, we recommend a quality food that is specially balanced for your pet's needs. Because nutrition is such an important part of good pet health, we cannot emphasize the need to feed a puppy or kitten enough quality food. When you bring your new pet in for its first examination, be sure to ask us about the diet you are feeding to make sure it is appropriate for your pet's nutritional needs.

Which is better, canned food or dry food? This question has been steadily debated for years, "Should I feed my pet canned or dry food?" The truth is that feeding canned or dry food is a matter of personal choice and pet preference. It is important to understand that dry and canned foods are nutritionally equal. However, there are some facts that may help you in your decision making. Dry food tends to be more economical, it doesn't spoil as easily, and it is better for tartar control and tooth strength. Canned food tends to be more flavorful and provides higher moisture content. Your decision to feed canned or dry food is going to be dependent upon what you and your pet wants. Keep in mind that you can also mix canned and dry food to successfully combine economy and taste!

It is very important that your new puppy or kitten be fed at regular intervals to help prevent episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Small breed puppies and all kittens should be fed three or four times daily after being weaned from their mothers. This should continue until around three or four months of age. At this point, you can reduce their feedings to twice daily. Larger breed puppies tend to do well on a twice daily feeding schedule. Before you commit to a feeding schedule for your puppy or kitten, be sure to ask your veterinarian which schedule is right for your pet. Feeding schedules become very important when housebreaking becomes an issue. Because young animals associate feeding with their need to eliminate, planning a good feeding schedule proves very helpful in housebreaking.

Grooming Your Pet

The grooming protocol you develop for your pet depends heavily on the type of pet you have. Certain canine and feline breeds demand much more grooming attention than others. In general, it is good to bathe your pets only when necessary, as over bathing can lead to abnormally dry skin. In other words, don't feel obligated to bathe your puppy once a week when he may only need it once a month.

As for puppies and kittens, bathing can be performed as needed after they are weaned from their mother. It is best to avoid human shampoos, as most are too harsh for young animals. There are several good shampoos available through your veterinarian, but regardless of which type you choose, be sure to read the label carefully and address your veterinarian if you have any questions. When bathing your pet, you should also use eye protection in case shampoo gets into their eyes (either sterile ophthalmic ointment or mineral oil).

Your pet should be bathed in a warm room and tepid water should be used. When finished, it is best to towel dry and perhaps finish the job with a blow dryer. If you chose to blow dry, be sure to keep the hot air far enough away from the skin to avoid burning. Running your fingers through the fur while blow-drying is a good way to gauge the temperature.

VIDEO - Why Parasite Control Really Matters

Dr. Mike Paul, former head of the Companion Animal Parasite Council, discusses why parasite control really matters.

Cat Aggression Toward People: Part I

Pet owners can't figure out why cats are friendly one minute and aggressive the next. Cat bites are very common and probably occur more frequently than dog bites; however, they are infrequently reported. Aggressive cats can be dangerous, so attempting to resolve a cat aggression problem often requires a specialist who is trained in animal behavior medicine.

There are several types of feline aggression. The list below includes some of the most common forms.

• Redirected Aggression- When a cat is aroused into an aggressive response by a person or an animal, but then redirects this aggression onto another person or animal, this is called redirected aggression For example, if two family cats have a spat, the losing cat may walk up and attack the family child.

• Territorial Aggression- Cats are highly territorial animals and usually only feel the need to defend their territory from other cats. Territorial aggression in cats isn't commonly directed toward people.

• Aggression With Petting- This behavior isn't well understood, even by experienced animal behaviorists. Some cats will suddenly bite while they're being petted or held. For whatever reason, petting, which the cat was previously enjoying, apparently becomes unpleasant. Biting is the cat's signal that she has had enough. Cats vary in how much they'll tolerate being petted or held. Although people often describe their cats as biting "out of the blue" or without warning, cats do generally give several signals before biting.

You should become more aware of your cat's body postures, and cease petting or stop any other kind of interaction before a bite occurs. Signals to be aware of include:

  • The cat becomes restless
  • The tail begins to twitch
  • The cat's ears turn back or flick back and forth
  • The cats head starts moving toward your hand

When any of these signals become apparent, it is time to stop the petting or holding the cat. The best thing to do is put the cat down and stop petting her. Absolutely do not impose any physical punishment on the cat as she (or he) may bite. Physical punishment may make it worse the next time you try to pet her or pick her up.

If you want to try to prolong the amount of time your cat will tolerate petting, use a food reward. When your cat first begins to show an undesirable behavior (or even before), offer her a favorite tidbit of food. As you give her the food, decrease the intensity of your petting. In this way, she'll come to associate petting with something pleasant and may help her to enjoy petting for longer periods of time. Each time you work with your cat, try to pet her a little longer. Be sure to stop petting before she shows any aggression.

Has Your Dog Developed Bald Patches? This May Be Why…

You shared your peanut butter sandwich with your pooch and now he's itching, shedding, and developing bald patches – lesson learned. Food allergies are just one of several reasons your pup can seem to become "folicly challenged" overnight.

Hair loss is a symptom of an underlying problem and is often accompanied by intense itchiness or pain, among other things. The following are all potential causes of hair loss in dogs and all should prompt a call to your veterinarian for treatment recommendations:

Allergies – Allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds. They are typically due to fleas, but can also be the result of food or an inhaled irritant like dust or pollen. The most common symptom associated with allergies is itching. Other symptoms include coughing, sneezing, and wheezing or digestive problems causing vomiting, flatulence, or diarrhea.

Cushing's Disease – Most common in older dogs, Hyperadrenocorticism/Cushing's Disease is caused by an excess of the cortisol hormone (found in corticosteroid drugs). In addition to hair loss, it can cause a pot-belly and darkened skin.

Hereditary – Of course there are breeds that remain hairless throughout their lives, but there are also some breeds more prone to hair loss than others. These include the Chihuahua, Dachshund, Doberman Pinscher, Italian Greyhound and the Whippet. Bald spots appear most commonly on the ear, chest, back, or thigh.

Infection – Bacterial or fungal infections may be to blame for hair loss. Ringworm, a fungus, causes areas of irregular or circular hair loss as well as infected scabs/crusts and inflammation.

Infestation – If your pet is host to parasites like fleas, ticks, or mites, he or she probably feels very uncomfortable! Symptoms of infestation may include inflammation, itching, and redness. Hair loss typically occurs around the ears and eyes or belly/chest.

Pressure Sores – Although more obvious than the above possibilities, pressure sores are still a cause of hair loss. They are characterized by calloused skin that may crack or bleed and lose hair. They are most common in large older dogs and are formed on elbows or other pressure points that regularly come into contact with hard surfaces.

Poop Scooping Solutions

Picking up your dog’s waste is an unpleasant, yet unavoidable task for most pet parents. Odds are you’ve become accustomed to awkwardly waiting while your pet does his business so you can scoop it up into a nearby waste bucket or dog poop bag.

Poo bags come in a range of sizes and offer benefits such as being “heavy-doody,” ecofriendly or freshly scented. There are even a variety of carrying case options for the bags, from simple pouches to plastic fire hydrants -but the poop scooping market doesn’t stop there.

Other products available to help make the task more bearable include:

• Pawsby PooPatroller – Although this one may not be on the market for much longer, Pawsby was introduced as a dog-walking assistant. It is essentially a plastic dog contraption, complete with a hemp leash and collar. It features a crank flashlight, water bowl, and hands-free pooper scooper that allows you to store waste within the unit until you can dispose of it elsewhere. It’s bulky, but much cuter to be seen walking with than a full bag of doo-doo in your non-leash-holding hand.

• Poop-Freeze – It doesn’t get much worse than feeling the heat of a fresh #2 through your dog waste bag as you hurriedly try to pick it up. That’s where Poop-Freeze finds its bathroom niche. If you’ve ever used Duster for your computer keyboard, this is essentially the same thing. Aim, spray and your pet’s poo will be cooled to -62 degrees. We can’t make this stuff up. Poop-Freeze makes poo easier to pick up and eliminates most (if not all) of the smell. It can even be used indoors on your carpet if Fido has an accident.

• Pooch Power Shovel – Weighing in at about four pounds, the Pooch Power Shovel is a leaf blower turned vacuum, specially designed to pick up - you guessed it – poop! This cordless device sucks waste into a biodegradable bag that you can remove and toss after each use. After a 12-hour charge, you’ll be good to go for nearly 50 uses (that’s about a month if you have one dog)!

• Doggie Doo Drain – For the environmentally-minded, this product helps cut down on the amount of pet waste in landfills. The funnel is screwed directly into your septic tank. Just scoop your pet’s waste and then send it down the Doo Drain!

• Doggie Dooley – If you don’t have a septic tank, or are interested in other options, the Doggie Dooley is a leach-style system that works like a miniature septic system. Once placed in the ground, natural-acting bacteria within the unit compost dog waste into a liquid that is absorbed into the ground. It’s safe, eco-friendly and affordable.

The Best Pet Birds for Beginners

The thought of caring for a bird can be daunting for first-time bird owners. Birds are much different than other common household pets and require much different care. Some birds, such as large parrots, require an immense amount of time and dedication and can live for several decades or more. For those who want to introduce a bird into their home for the first time, here are the most low-maintenance species commonly available.

• Canaries - These colorful little songbirds delight, but don’t require much time when it comes to their care. Like many bird species, canaries prefer not to be handled and live just fine within the safety of their cages. They can be kept singly or in pairs.

• Cockatiels - Part of the parrot family, these familiar birds are the highest maintenance on this list. Because they are highly intelligent, they can become bored or depressed if not provided with sufficient social interaction. Two to four hours per day in the company of your cockatiel should suffice. During this time, handle your bird, provide out-of-cage play, and try teaching him or her some basic commands. A large cage and/or a bird-friendly room is recommended.

• Doves - With their soft coos, doves are both beautiful-sounding and -looking. Most do just fine with little quality time spent with their owners, but many also enjoy the interaction and will form bonds over time. Additionally, doves are said to be less messy than many other birds when it comes to cleanup.

• Finches - The winner when it comes to low-maintenance birds, finches need only a sufficient cage and two or three cage-mates to be happy. These birds don’t need (or want) to be handled and don’t need playtime outside of their cages. They prefer socializing with their finch friends much more than their human caretakers. They do, however, depend on their people for food, water, and cage cleanup – which can get messy. The reward? Their vocalizations are enjoyable and watching them is very entertaining!

• Parakeets - Also known as budgerigars or “budgies,” parakeets are one of the most common pet store birds. Budgies aren’t, however, the most low-maintenance, and fall just behind cockatiels when it comes to time needed for their care. With many living into their teen years when properly cared for, budgies require a couple hours of owner interaction, handling, and out-of-cage play each day for the best results. They can be held, trained, and some will even talk.

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