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

Doga (yoga for dogs) Lets You Do The Downward Dog With Your Dog

Stretching out, jumping up on two legs, rolling over for a belly rub - at first glance, those are all natural dog behaviors. But are they yoga poses, too? Some people and their canine companions think so. Yoga for dogs - also known as doga (pronounced DOH-ga) - is popping up everywhere, with yoga centers and fitness clubs across the United States and even in Japan offering yoga classes for people and their pooches.

The first doga class started in New York City in 2002. Yoga instructor Suzi Teitelman started incorporating her dog Coali into her regular yoga routine.

"As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I was often on my yoga mat, and Coali started to join me," Teitelman said. "Before long we were doing the poses together, and I was creating a new class. Coali and I started teaching Doga all over New York City in 2002, and now it is all over the world."

Teitelman now teaches doga in Florida and maintains a website to help spread the word about yoga for dogs. Since then, classes have sprung up from California and Texas to Maryland and New York. There's even a doga association in Japan.

Suzi Teitelman and Coali practice doga.

Suzi Teitelman and Coali practice doga.

Dogs and yoga might seem at first an unlikely combination, but the two are a natural fit, in a way. One of the most basic yoga poses is "downward facing dog", after all. In doga, owners and their canine companions practice together; sometimes, an owner will help his or her pet get into a pose, while other times, the dog will become part of the owner's pose. For example, in the "chair pose", the dog stands on his or her hind legs with the front paws in the air while the owner supports the dog. In the "savasana relaxation" pose, a dog lies on his or her back and has his or her belly rubbed.

Okay, so that last one isn't very different than the usual tummy rub your dog gets while lying on the living room floor. But some doga classes also include light massage and acupressure for dogs, and the overall result is a lot of direct human-to-dog contact. Doga practitioners say it is more about bonding with your pet than exercising and increasing flexibility (though those are plusses). Sessions typically start with owner and dog sitting together, perfectly still, and breathing together. Doga teachers and practitioners have reported that a good doga session calms down hyper pets and greatly relaxes both pets and their people. Other benefits for dogs include better sleep and stronger muscles.

"You will find that both you and your pet become more peaceful, more loving, more connected to each other," Teitelman said. "The more you practice doga, the more you find that you need it and want to stretch and relax, and bond together with your pet. I find that many dogs become better behaved and listen more to their owners."

Suzi Teitelman and her dog Roxy bond through doga.

Suzi Teitelman and her dog Roxy bond through doga.

For novice dog yogis (dogis, perhaps?), Teitelman recommends starting out with a pose called the "sacred kneel." Teitelman describes it like this: "Sitting on your heels, have your dog sit and face you. Take a moment to connect with your dog through massage, positive words, and get into your long deep inhales and exhales. Allow the dog to feel you breathe and feel your calming energy. The dog picks up on your energy through your touch and breath, so stay peaceful through all the poses. Carefully move deeper into the pose by gently and lovingly lifting the paws of the dog into the air. Either hold their paws to help them balance, or place the dog's paws on your shoulders. Hold and breathe for 5-10 breaths."

Doga hasn't made to every yoga studio in the country yet, but for budding dogis and their people, there's the book "Doga: Yoga for Dogs", a handy introduction to dog yoga. Of course, you could always just watch what your dog does and follow his or her lead - they've been doing their own sort of yoga for years.

VIDEO: The Silent Epidemic Affecting Our Pets

An epidemic is killing our pets, but it's not from a new infectious disease or even from resistant parasites. This insidious killer works more slowly, over months and years, robbing our dogs and cats of health, vitality and even longevity. The bigger problem in all of this is there is a disconnect between veterinarians and pet owners about this very common problem. What could possibly be so serious yet so misunderstood? The answer, of course, is the increasing number of overweight and obese this video to learn more about keeping your pet at a healthy weight.

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Dogs Eating Feces - Coprophagia

Most people are embarrassed by the fact that their dog eats his or her own poop. Since this behavior is not often discussed, most people don't realize that it is a common dog behavior.

After puppies are born, the mother dogs keep them clean by licking them and eating their feces. If the mothers did not have this instinct, the puppies would get very dirty and the feces would accumulate. If too many puppies were produced in a litter and the mother was not able to keep up with her obligations, another adult dog in the family would very often take over some of the motherly responsibilities. Cats also perform these same tasks for their kittens.

Mother with Puppies

Mother and Her Puppies

Eating feces is not at an unusual behavior for dogs. Within a few weeks, the puppies begin eating solid food and can walk well enough to get out of the nest. At this time, the mother can stop her cleaning responsibilities as the puppies start pooping elsewhere. This habit, however, can persist in her, and this same instinct most likely exists in most dogs (male and female), ready to be triggered by various life situations.

Why a Dog Eats Feces

Sometimes we don't know why a particular dog starts eating poop, but certain conditions can trigger the behavior. Since some of these indicate a dog that needs help, you'll want to consider them as possibilities for what is going on with your dog.

1. If a dog is not getting enough to eat or is going too long between meals, he may begin to eat his own feces. If you are having trouble figuring out a feeding schedule or the amount to feed your dog, it's probably best to discuss this with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you evaluate the dog's weight and can suggest a feeding schedule and amount. Sometimes it takes experimentation to see what works best for a particular dog.

2. Your dog may have a physical problem that causes excessive hunger, pain or another sensation that may resort to eating feces. If your adult dog suddenly starts eating his or her own feces, take your dog to your veterinarian for a check-up.

3. A dog with intestinal parasites or another condition that changes the consistency of his feces may resort to eating them. If another dog has a similar condition, your dog may decide to eat the other dog's feces. When you take your dog to the veterinarian, bring a fresh fecal sample for evaluation.

4. Whatever the cause of the problem might be, a change of diet sometimes helps. There are so many dog foods from which to choose, and food that works well for one dog may not be right for another. When changing from one food to another, you need to make the change gradually. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the old. Over a period of two weeks, increase the amount of new food and decrease the quantity of the old dog food. At the end of this time, you should be feeding your dog only the new food. Gradually switching foods gives the dog's intestines time to adjust and avoid diarrhea resulting from the change.

5. If you are punishing your dog during house training or punishing him for defecating in the house, he may react be eating his own feces. This is one of many reasons not to use punishment during house training or after a dog defecates in the house. Some dogs develop a mental connection that they will be punished if their humans find them in the same room with feces.

6. Boredom can cause dogs to do all sorts of things. If your dog is not socializing enough or you are not exercising him sufficiently, he may end up eating his own feces. If you are leaving your dog alone for long periods of time, you may want to purchase some toys in order to keep him amused. Toys that have treats inside them (for the dog to get out) can help with lots of boredom-based problems.

Miracle Cures That Usually Don't Work

Eating feces is not healthy for your dog. The first thing you need to do to help overcome this problem is to keep your dog's area clean of feces. House training and supervising the dog whenever he is in the designated relief area is required.

Until a dog is fully house trained and the feces-eating habit has died out, picking up after each bowel movement is important. After your dog develops proper habits, you may be able to pick up just once a day if you have a private place for the dog to use.

Some people swear that mixing food additives or meat tenderizers in a dog's food can cure the habit. Their theory is that the additive provides a nutrient that the dog is craving. Another theory is that the additive makes the feces taste bad.

Before you try adding any of these substances to your dog's food, consult your veterinarian. Some additives may not be safe for your particular dog. Also, don't expect any additive to be a miracle cure. These things tend to work for the occasional dog, but chances are pretty slim that they will work for your dog.

Behavior Training - The Cure

If a medical or nutritional problem is not found, your dog may need behavior modification. Behavior modification takes time and you shouldn't expect to cure the problem after just a few sessions.

Each time your dog goes out to potty, you need to have him by your side, attached to a collar and leash. If your dog is large and you cannot control him well, he needs to be fitted with some type of head halter.

Each time you take your dog out, he needs to be on the leash and collar. As soon as his poop hits the ground and he shows interest in it, call the dog to you. Don't use the leash to jerk the dog, but simply to keep him from being able to reach the feces. Keep the treats that you have out of his sight.

Dog Praise

Reward and Praise Your Dog

The instant the dog reaches you, praise him, whip out a treat that he likes and give it to him. Back away from the dog, praise him and give him another treat for coming to you. Repeat this process for a total of three to five times. At this point, you will have taken the dog's mind off the feces.

When you first begin, put the dog inside while cleaning up the feces. Once you have good control and a good rapport with your dog, you can go ahead and clean up while the dog is still outside. As you repeat this process of rewarding him with a treat, you can increase the length of the leash. Eventually you can replace the leash with a long line and give him the reward at your back door. Once you feel that your dog is responding well, remove the line and reward him when he comes to the door. Keep up the same energy and level of the reward if you want your dog to keep responding.

Solving Behavior Problems

As with any behavior problem, it is best to begin intervention as soon as you notice the problem. The less time that the habit has persisted, the less time you need for correction and the more easily the problem fades.

If a friend or a family member's dog has a behavior problem, let them know that punishment cannot solve it. Punishment is detrimental to the dog's trust in people and to the family's relationship with their pet.

Hepatic Lipidosis - Fat Cats and Dieting

Hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver syndrome, is a common and very serious condition that occurs in fat cats who, for some reason or another, have stopped eating. The disease results from an accumulation of fat in the liver and, if not treated during the early stages, can be deadly. Hepatic lipidosis is treatable and cure rates are good if the cat is presented to a veterinarian during the early stages of the disease.

Why would a fat cat not be eating?

Here are some reasons:

  • Bad teeth
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Stress - examples: Moving into a new home, introducing a new animal into the family, owner goes on vacation
  • Hairball
  • Illnesses

These are all good reasons why a cat would stop eating. The most common reason for a cat to stop eating is an upper respiratory infection.

Think about it - cats like their food because they enjoy it and are familiar with the smell. So if a cat can't smell its food, it's not going to eat.

The question is: "What would cause a cat to loose its ability to smell food?"

An upper respiratory infection could cause a cat to loose its sense of smell.

Cats get upper respiratory infections all the time - sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes.

So, you have a fat cat that gets the flu and can't smell. Since the cat cannot smell his food, he stops eating. The body is looking for ways to feed itself, and tries to do this by converting stored fat into energy. In order for the fat to be converted into fuel, it must pass through the cat's liver. The liver can't handle this fatty saturation and liver dysfunction ensues. This doesn't happen to thin cats. They don't have enough fat available to mobilize and create this problem.

Many owners do notice that their cat is not eating, but they think, "That's all right, Tiger needs to lose a few pounds." Then, after a week or two without an appetite, they start to worry and finally bring the animal to the veterinarian. If they don't bring their cat in soon enough, he (or she) is a prime candidate for hepatic lipidosis.

Symptoms associated with hepatic lipidosis include loss of appetite, vomiting, depression, weight loss and lethargy. Some cats develop a yellow coloration of the eyes, ears and mouth. This yellow coloration (particularly of the mucus membranes) is jaundice and usually indicates liver disease and/or red blood cell destruction.

The prognosis for cats with hepatic lipidosis is good if treatment is not delayed. The longer that treatment is delayed, the less likely for recovery. Cats that have underlying diseases (cancer, pancreatitis) are less likely to recover.

How would a veterinarian treat a cat with hepatic lipidosis? The veterinarian would probably hospitalize the cat, and among other treatments, feed it through a tube. After your cat has recovered from hepatic lipidosis, or, before your fat cat gets hepatic lipidosis, you should put your cat on a veterinarian-recommended low-calorie diet. Exercise is an important factor in weight loss, so it is important to encourage exercise via catnip or toys. Carefully monitoring your cat's food intake in times of stress (for example, the addition of a new pet) can be crucial in preventing mortality due to hepatic lipidosis.

Preventing obesity is the best way to prevent hepatic lipidosis. Regular meals should be given and free-choice feeding should be avoided. Obese cats should be placed on a special diet food. By slimming Tiger down, you could save him from hepatic lipidosis and other life-threatening diseases related to cat obesity.

For more information on disease prevention, contact a staff member at your veterinary hospital

How Your Cat Has Mastered Manipulation With Cuteness

Think Whiskers is purring out of pure love and joy to be in your company? Or Rubbing against you to show her excitement that you’re home? Well, she may have us all tricked. Whiskers may actually know a whole lot more about her cuteness – and what it can produce – than we ever thought.

Can I have your attention?

  • Rubbing Against You = They Own You
    We love when we’re greeted by an affectionate rub. And we love thinking it’s because Whiskers has missed us so much. This may in fact be true. But what is also true is that a cat tends to rub against a person in order to claim their ownership over them, leaving you with a scent that is theirs – and theirs only. But don’t think that it also works the other way. In fact, after you rub and pet your cat, she wants that smell gone immediately. You may notice she starts licking herself more than usual after a good rub down, right? This actually helps to get your smell off of her coat. And they had us convinced they were just being clean and tidy pets…
  • Leaving Poop Uncovered = They Rule You
    Cats instinctively cover their poop when they’re done going to the bathroom, and we love that. But when you come home to that surprise on the door mat or kitchen floor, it may not be a product of Whisker’s old age or degenerating blind spot. Rather, your cat may be making a statement of power through his poo. This act of defiance marks their territory and flags to all other members of the household that this is one tough kitty!
  • Meowing Like A Baby = Treat Me Like A Baby, Now!
    Cats are smart, we all know this. But just how smart? Well, looks like they have even perfected their meowing to imitate the sounds of a baby – in effect getting us to “baby” them. Studies have shown that a cat’s meow for attention or food shares a similar frequency level to that of a baby crying for similar wants and needs.

So, Whiskers may be more of a master of her own manipulation than we ever thought. But hey, at least she’s cute about it!

Veterinary Acupuncture

As interest and application of acupuncture grows in veterinary medicine, practitioners are using the modality for much more than pain control. In fact, acupuncture can be used to help treat allergies, seizures, reproductive problems, and liver and kidney disease. Acupuncture involves the insertion of small gauge needles to various points on the body in order to cause physiological responses in the body. Acupuncture works by stimulating nerve endings near acupuncture points. These nerve fibers then conduct impulses to the brain and spinal cord, causing changes in the body that speed healing. Animal owners are showing a growing interest in this field in an effort to find the best care for their pets, especially when conventional medicine and surgery options may not have been successful. Learn more by watching this interesting video.

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VIDEO: Cryosurgery: Icy-Cold Handiwork

Imagine a procedure where your pet's warts, skin tags and even cancerous growths could be removed from his or her skin without the need for anesthetic and is also practically painless and bloodless. It might sound futuristic, but the reality is that many veterinarians are now turning to Cryosurgery to help remove unwanted skin growths from our pets. Although the technique is not new, modern tools and delivery devices now make it easier for your veterinarian to use extreme cold to help heal your pets!

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VIDEO: Pets Go Green

Rising gas prices and climate changes have many people worried about the future of our planet and pet owners are no exception. Luckily, help appears to be on the way. From organic pet toys to bio-degradable cat litter, many companies are finding new ways to help pets and their owners lessen their carbon footprint. Watch this video to see ways that you can help your pet “go green”!

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Earth Day 2014: 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 a human's. 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, to name a few. 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.

Greening your Dog

If you are a dog owner who wants to be more eco-friendly, here are some suggestions for a more sustainable Spot:

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.

Greening your Dog

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.

Choose 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.

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