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

Summer Tips for Dogs

Helping Rover Beat The Heat!

People usually prepare themselves for the dangers of increased temperatures. But as the dog days of summer approach, our trusted companions also need special attention to insure that they don’t get burned. Like for us, the summer months bring an increased danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for dogs.

Dogs in Pool

People naturally regulate their body temperature by sweating. Dogs mainly cool themselves by panting, or breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. The process of panting directs air over the mucous membranes (moist surface) of the tongue, throat and trachea (windpipe). The air that is flowing over these organs causes evaporation, thus cooling the animal. Another mechanisms that helps remove heat includes dilation of blood vessels in the skin of the face, ears and feet. Dilated blood vessels located on the surface of the body cause the blood to loose heat to the outside air.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Like people, dogs can become overheated. If it rises to 105 or 106 degrees, the dog is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. If the body temperature rises to 107 degrees, the dog has entered the danger zone of heat stroke. With heat stroke, damage to the body can be irreversible. Organs begin to shut down, and veterinary care is immediately needed.

Fortunately, if owners recognize heat exhaustion, they can prevent the dog from entering heat stroke. People can easily recognize when the heat gets to them because they become lightheaded and fail to sweat. For dogs, early signs of heat exhaustion may include failure to salivate and a dry mouth. Heat exhaustion may also include a dog lying down and looking tired, losing its appetite, and becoming unresponsive to owners.

If heat exhaustion progresses into heat stroke, the dog becomes very warm to touch and may have seizures. Internal mechanisms roll into effect that may cause blood clotting and organ damage. If you are near a phone and think that heat stroke is a possibility, call your veterinarian immediately. If a veterinarian is not within reach, or while waiting for a veterinarian, get the dog out of the sun and cool him or her down with cool water baths (cool—not cold). Provide a fan, especially if you wet the dog down, and encourage him or her to drink water.

While these steps may help a dog, the best treatment is prevention. In order to prevent overheating, some owners may shave their dogs or trim their fur excessively. This isn’t always a good idea. The hair coat may appear to be a burden for a dog; however, it can also keep the animal comfortable by trapping cool air next to the skin, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the hot outside air to the body of the dog.

Dogs with long or thick coats that have problems with matted hair are often good candidates for clipping. Matted hair can cause skin irritation and is undesirable. Owners that do not have time to adequately remove mats and debris from their dog’s coat may prefer to have the coat clipped short. After a short clipping, and if the dog is outdoors, owners need to be careful of sunburn. Sunscreen may be applied to the dog’s skin; however, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian to find out which ones are safe.

Here are some other tips for keeping your dog cool this summer:

  • Keep dogs indoors, in air conditioning, on very hot days.
  • Do not leave dogs in a car during the summer. Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a car can quickly rise to above 120 degrees.Make sure outdoor dogs have plenty of shade.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times.
  • On very hot days, exercise dogs early in the morning or late in the evening. If this is not possible, exercise in an air conditioned environment.
  • Provide your dog with a sprinkler or wading pool on very warm days.
  • If you take the dog to a lake, make sure it has plenty of time to drink and get wet. Most dogs can drink lake water without adverse effects.
  • If your dog has a light coat or exposed skin, take precautions against sunburn.
  • Dogs can acclimate to warm temperatures and have no trouble staying outdoors in the heat. However, dogs that are used to cool climates or air conditioning should not be left outside on hot days.
  • Acclimating your dog gradually is the key.

If you have questions about caring for your dog during the summer months, please give us a call today.

Keeping Your Cat Healthy: Diet

The very basic requirements for life are food and water. Good nutrition is the foundation of overall health. Since cats are natural carnivores, they require meat-based diets. Luckily, cat owners can choose from a variety of diets certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. These products are available from your veterinarian, your feed store or from your grocer. Pet food manufacturers spend huge sums of money touting the benefits of their products and the feeding trials conducted by the AAFCO in order to verify that their pet foods meet quality standards. It is always best to listen to your veterinarian as he or she may recommend a particular diet according to your cat's needs.

Nutritional needs vary with the cat's age and health status. Kittens should consume growth diets until they reach approximately nine months of age. At this age, young cats can be gradually weaned from kitten food to adult cat food. This should be done by gradually increasing the amount of adult food and decreasing the amount of kitten food over several days. If a food is changed too abruptly, this can lead to intestinal disturbances with diarrhea. Cats entering their golden years should transition from adult food to senior cat food in a similar manner. Specialty diets that address dental disease and hairballs are good preventive medicine diets that help avoid these health problems in susceptible cats.

Dog Spays: Avoiding Psuedopregnancy

A normal, annoying, sometimes disappointing, and dangerous behavior pattern seen in unspayed female dogs is pseudopregnancy (also called false pregnancy or pseudocyesis). Pseudopregnancy is a condition that occurs slightly less than two months after estrus. The bitch develops enlarged mammary glands and an enlarged abdomen. She may even show typical "nesting" behavior associated with having puppies. Often, a stuffed toy or other inanimate object is taken to the "nest" and she appears to be protecting or even nursing it. Problems arise when she becomes aggressive or attacks a person or other animal whom she perceives as threatening her "offspring."

The natural evolution and advantages associated with pseudopregnancy are still being debated. The most widely accepted theory is one that recognizes ancestral wolf behavior. In wolf packs, bitches who did not give birth to pups might act as the pups' "nursemaids." This particular behavior, as well as milk secretions, is associated with pseudopregnancy and results from production of the hormone prolactin. This is the same hormone that is produced during the final stages of a normal pregnancy. Thus, pseudo-pregnant behavior would prepare these nonpregnant bitches for their protective and nursing role. Obviously, for a dog that lives in a human household, and not in a pack, this behavior is inappropriate and undesirable.

Uterine infections are not uncommon in bitches that frequently experience pseudopregnancy. Once the pseudopregnant behavior has ceased, the bitch should be spayed in order to prevent this behavior as well as the infections from recurring.

Having your female dog spayed (ovariohysterectomy) is an inexpensive and realistic method of pet population control. The number of unwanted adult and young dogs that are euthanized each year in the United States is astounding. Aside from the pet overpopulation problem, spaying your female dog helps prevent — and even eliminates — medical problems associated with hormonal imbalances.

Five Domestic-Wild Cat Hybrid Breeds

When a male lion and a female tiger are bred, the result is the behemoth known as the liger. When a wild cat and a domestic cat are bred, the result is also stunning. Creating wild-domestic cat hybrid breeds has become a profitable industry, with exotic –yet domesticated – cats sometimes selling for thousands of dollars.

Many first or second generation hybrids are sterile and maintain too many “wild” traits to make decent house pets, but later generations have been able to successfully interbreed and live domestic lives. Although they require more care than a normal domestic cat, here are five popular wild-domestic cat breeds:

1. The Bengal – Although you would think this cat derived from a Bengal tiger-cross, it is actually the result of breeding an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat. These cats are considered large, with males weighing 10 to 15 pounds on average. Bengals are known to be a handful, requiring a lot of stimulation and vocalizing loudly to get their way. Their shiny, soft fur has two basic patterns: spotted and swirled marble, both often tricolor. The Bengal has been cross-bred with many different breeds, resulting in a variety of hybrids.

2. The Toyger – A Los Angeles breeder has been attempting to create a breed that resembles a tiger since the late eighties. By crossing a domestic cat with a Bengal, she has come pretty close. The breed is considered to be “in development,” but is available worldwide for purchase from different breeders.

3. The Savannah – This hybrid is the result of crossing a domestic cat with an African Serval, which somewhat resembles a cheetah with a smaller head, bigger ears, and added stripes on its body. These cats are tall and lanky.

4. The Chausie – Also known as the Stone Cougar, this mix between a domestic cat and Jungle Cat hybrids can grow up to three feet long and weigh 35 lbs. This breed is considered completely domesticated in temperament because it was bred from more domestic and hybrid pairings than wild ones. With long legs and bodies, they come in three colors: black, black grizzled tabby, and black/brown ticked tabby.

5. The Safari – Although rare, the breeding of a South American Geoffroy’s cat with a domestic feline results in this “living room leopard.”

Common Canine Poisonings: Part I


Ibuprofen, also known by the name brands Advil or Motrin, is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug commonly used as a pain reliever or fever reducer. The most common over-the-counter strength is 200mg, but prescription strength tablets can get as high as 800mg. Dogs are often exposed accidentally, either because they have chewed a bottle containing ibuprofen or their owner has given it to them intentionally for pain control.

The effects of ibuprofen poisoning are diverse. An overdose can cause damage to the GI tract, the kidneys and the central nervous system. Ingestion by dogs can lead to ulceration, vomiting, diarrhea and/or abdominal pain. Larger doses can result in an increased risk of a dog developing acute renal failure, depression, seizures and/or comas.



Acetaminophen, most commonly known as Tylenol, is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve pain and reduce fevers. Available in tablets, capsules or liquids, it can be rather easy for a dog to chew on a bottle or mistakenly be given some by its owner as a pain killer. As with ibuprofen, dogs should never be given acetaminophen as a pain reliever. Specifically, acetaminophen breaks down into small particles that bind to red blood cells and other tissue cells. This results in the destruction of these cells. In other words, just one pill can cause significant tissue damage in dogs (especially small dogs). Signs of ingestion develop quickly and can include salivation, vomiting, weakness, abdominal pain and fluid build up (edema) in the face or paws.

Cold medications (Pseudo-ephedrine)

Many cold medications contain pseudo-ephedrine, a drug structurally similar to amphetamine. Ingestion can lead to cardiovascular and central nervous system problems. The most common clinical signs include agitation, hyperactivity, panting, hyperthermia (increased body temperature), tachycardia, head bobbing and dilated pupils. A small amount can be life threatening, so timely treatment is important.

Thyroid hormones

Thyroid hormones can be toxic to dogs. Although natural (desiccated thyroid) and synthetic (levothyroxine or L-thyroxine) derivatives of thyroid hormones are used to treat hypothyroidism in both animals and people, an overdose can be toxic. As with any medication, dogs are susceptible to drug overdoses, much like humans. Hyperactivity and tachycardia are the most common signs of overdose. If you think you have overdosed your dog or your own medication bottle has been chewed, consult your veterinarian for the best course of action.


Chocolate contains a stimulant known as a methylxanthine or theobromine. The amount of methylxanthines depends on the type of chocolate. For example, milk chocolate contains lower amounts of methylxanthines than dark chocolate, while baker's chocolate has the highest and most toxic amount.

Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning vary. The dog's reaction depends on the type of chocolate, the amount ingested, the size of the dog, and the dog's sensitivity to methylxanthines. Signs of ingestion can include mild stimulation such as hyperactivity, agitation and restlessness, cardiovascular effects like tachycardia (increased heart rate), arrhythmias, hypertension or hypotension and central nervous system signs such as tremors and seizures. Vomiting and diarrhea may occur with any amount, due to chocolate's high fat and sugar content.

VIDEO - Why Do Cats Get Less Medical Care?

Experts believe that cats and people have co-existed for more than 10,000 years. That's a long time to get to know each other pretty well. So, if we have this great relationship, why do we our feline friends get less medical care than our dogs?

Ice Water: Dangerous for Dogs?

Concerned pet owners may have come across a Facebook post warning against giving dogs ice water. The post claims that giving dogs ice water can cause bloat, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), or bloat. It’s often accompanied by a seemingly true story of a well-meaning pet owner trying to keep their dog cool on a hot day only to find they must rush their pet to the emergency vet.

It sounds scary, but it’s absolutely false. Veterinarians across the country have been addressing this myth for years, but the misinformation continues to spread thanks to social media. Frigid gastric ‘cramping’ is a falsehood similar to those that inform you that your hair will grow back coarser if you shave it (myth), or that you shouldn’t go swimming for 30 minutes after eating lest you drown in a fit of cramps (myth).

Bloat can be caused when your dog drinks too much too quickly, but the temperature of the water has nothing to do with this. In fact, putting ice cubes in your dog’s water can sometimes slow your dog’s water consumption, keeping the risk of bloat at bay.

If you have a large dog and are concerned about bloat, we recommend feeding a few small meals per day instead of one large meal and avoid exercising for an hour or so after eating. But if your pup is thirsty on a hot day, there’s nothing dangerous about helping them cool off with ice water.

Bloat or gastric torsion is a disease n which the dog’s stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its axis. Bloat is primarily a disease of large and giant-breed dogs. Deep-chested breeds such as great Danes, German shepherds and standard poodles are most commonly affected.

For additional information about bloat, please give us a call.

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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