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

Socializing Your Puppy

Puppy socialization should begin early in life. In fact, the most important period of time for socialization of the puppy is during the first three months of his or her life. If the puppy is not well-adjusted, future problems may result. Some of these problems include, but are not limited to, fear and aggression.

Help your puppy make friends

The puppy should not be removed from its mother or litter mates before seven weeks of age. These first seven weeks are important in the socialization process. The interaction between mother and litter mates is the earliest and perhaps the most important socialization period.

Socializing your new puppy requires time, energy, and patience. Begin the socialization process slowly and gradually. Invite one or two friends over to your home to meet and play with the puppy. Take the puppy for short frequent walks. Always reward him or her for good behavior. Never give a treat, praise, or reward for bad behavior.

After your puppy has completed his series of vaccinations, introduce him to a public park where he can encounter large groups of people and other dogs. Do not force the introduction. Reward him with a treat whenever he meets another person or another dog.

Dog parks offer a chance for socialization

It's important that your puppy socializes with children. Dogs often do not recognize the fact that children are small humans. They often misinterpret them for another species. Make sure that children are involved in the socialization process.

Socialize your puppy with children

Puppy classes are an excellent way to learn how to socialize your new puppy. These classes are not only good for education, they also allow your puppy to socialize with other dogs in a controlled environment.

Call your veterinary hospital for a list of puppy classes in your area. The staff at your local veterinary hospital generally knows the classes and the instructors that have the best reputations.

VIDEO - Why Yearly Feline Checkups Are Crucial

Dr. Elizabeth Colleran explains how to avoid future headaches and additional expenses just by taking your cat to see to the veterinarian regularly.

Eliminating Dog Odor

Aside from an accumulation of dirt, a persistent and unpleasant doggie odor could be caused by many factors. Some of these factors include dental disease, ear infections and oily skin. A closer look at your dog may help you find the problem.

• Look in your dog's mouth. Are the teeth discolored? Do you smell more than the usual "doggie breath?" If so, a visit to the veterinarian for a dental checkup and treatment may be in order. During your visit, your veterinarian may explain how you can clean your dog's teeth, in order to help protect against future dental disease.

• Ear infections are frequently the cause of an offensive odor, especially among long-eared and floppy-eared dogs. The inside of the ear becomes moist and hot, providing the perfect environment for infections. Take a close look inside your dog's ears. Is the skin red and sore? Does the dog cry out in pain as you try to examine the ears? Does the ear canal have a bad odor? Any of these may be warning signs of an ear infection which should be treated by a veterinarian.

• Do you feel a slight greasiness on your hands after you pet your dog? This may be an indication of seborrhea, a common skin disorder in dogs. These dogs have excess production of sebum, a normal product of the skin glands. The result can be flaky dandruff or an oily, waxy feel to the hair coat and a strong odor. Seborrhea may also dispose a dog to skin and ear infections. Frequent bathing with a medicated shampoo recommended by your veterinarian can help prevent much of the odor.

• One other possibility for your dog's odor may be its rear end. Infection or improper emptying of the anal glands can cause odor and discomfort to the dog, and a trip to the veterinarian may be in order. Long-haired dogs sometimes have a soiled rear from defecating. Without daily brushing, the rear can become matted and smelly. Monthly clipping around the rear end helps, as does daily brushing and grooming.

Once you have investigated the cause of your dog's odor you can begin to help control it. Enlist the aid of your veterinarian in identifying the problem, treating it if necessary, and controlling it in the future. Never forget the importance of grooming on a regular basis. It is essential to keep a hair coat healthy by removing scale, dirt and dead hair; distributing the natural oils throughout the coat and preventing mats and tangles in long hair.

Back Problems In Dogs

An animal that has trouble going up or down the stairs, can't jump up on the furniture, and / or seems to be in constant pain may have a back problem.

Disk problems are the most common back problems in dogs. The disk functions as a shock absorber between the vertebrae (or bones of the back). When these disks are injured or degenerate, they put pressure on the nerves, creating a "pinched nerve." Aside from a pinched nerve, the injury can interfere with nerve impulses that are sent down the spinal cord. Without a complete functioning nervous system, advanced cases can cause a wobbly gait, leading to paralysis in the hind limbs.

Dogs with short legs and long bodies are most affected by disk problems. Commonly affected breeds include dachshunds and basset hounds.

Early detection is very important in the treatment of back problems. As soon as a problem is noticed, strict rest is recommended. Unlike humans, dogs don't lie on their backs and certainly don't do very well in traction. Strict rest, and particularly no jumping, is best for the animal.

In more pronounced cases, your veterinarian may recommend surgery in order to remove the affected disk. Back surgery is generally pretty expensive and there are risks that go with it. Back surgery is generally performed by a surgeon / specialist at a referral veterinary hospital. The earlier the surgical procedure is done, the higher its success rate. Back injuries in dogs are like spinal cord injuries in people. Once paralysis sets in, the success rate declines rapidly, and some veterinarians elect not to take their patients to surgery.

Early detection and a veterinary examination are essential for quick recovery from a back injury. Depending upon the severity of the injury, most dogs recover quite well with medication, rest and lots of TLC. Dogs that have more complicated injuries may be candidates for more complicated back surgery.

A Cat's Tongue

A feeling of rough sandpaper as you are licked by your cat is a reminder that its long, muscular tongue serves many functions, including grooming.

A Grooming Tool and More

A cat's ability to groom itself is the result of numerous knobs, called papillae, on the surface of a cat's tongue. Located at the tongue's center, the papillae form backward-facing hooks containing large amounts of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails. These hooks provide the abrasiveness a cat needs for self-grooming. The strength of these hooks also helps a cat hold food or struggle with prey.

Although the abrasiveness of a cat's tongue helps it to clean itself and untangle its hair, your help is needed through regular grooming. As you groom your cat, you are removing loose and dead hair. Otherwise, a cat may ingest this hair and hair balls can form, which can cause vomiting and may cause impaction in the gastrointestinal tract. Long-haired cats need daily grooming; short-haired cats should be groomed at least once a week.

When Cats Lap it Up

A cat's tongue becomes spoon-shaped to enable it to lap liquids. Notice how its tongue laps under water in much the same manner as an elephant uses its trunk. It flicks its tongue quickly in and out of the water, swallowing after every third or fourth lap.

A cat's water intake will vary depending on the season of the year, activity and type of diet being fed. Cats consuming canned cat food diets will not drink as much water as those fed dry food. If, for some reason, a cat does not appear to be drinking enough water, more water can be added to the food Always keep fresh drinking water in a clean bowl available to your cat. Water is an essential ingredient and is involved in virtually every function of a cat's body.

A Matter of Taste

Studies show that the cat's sense of taste is keener than that of the dog. This acute sense of taste is the result of two sets of taste buds. Mushroom-shaped papillae at the tip and sides of the tongue hold some of the largest taste buds. A set of cup-shaped papillae are located at the back of the tongue. In addition to flavor, a cat's tongue reacts to the texture or "mouth-feel" of a particular food. This is one of the reasons dry cat foods come in a variety of shapes. The cat's tongue also reacts to temperature and shows a preference for foods at room temperature.

Contributing To A Cat's Sense of Taste

Cats also have a highly developed sense of smell and they notice changes in their food. Some researchers suggest that this sense may stimulate their appetite or cause them to refuse to eat. A cat's appetite may be affected by many factors including noise, strange people, changes in routine and even feeding dishes washed with a strong detergent and not carefully rinsed.

However, if a cat refuses to eat for a period of two to three days, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. This continued food refusal may be a sign of illness.

Cat Myths

They're playful and loving, aloof and mysterious, frisky and mischievous. They're cats!

Cats have fascinated humans ever since the day, probably about four thousand years ago, the first domestic cat made himself at home on the hearth by the fire. From ancient times to our modern age, myths and superstitions have surrounded cats. The ancient Egyptians worshiped them as gods, but people in later centuries feared them as harbingers of witchcraft and evil. In today's high-tech world, we may think we've outgrown such fables. Yet a surprising number of modern-day myths about cats persist. Did you know that the following are feline fables, not facts?

Feline Fables

• Cats are "no maintenance" pets- Because cats are litter-trained, some people think that simply giving their cat food and water is enough. Not so. Cats also need regular veterinary care and, just as important, lots of love and attention.

• Cats always land on their feet- While cats can often land on their feet after a short fall, falling from heights is another story. Upper-level windows and porches, unless securely screened, should be off-limits to cats, particularly in high-rise buildings.

• Cats can't be trained- Cats will, of course, do things their way if left to their own devices. But most cats can be taught to obey simple rules like not scratching the couch, eating plants, or jumping up on the kitchen counter. Repeated, gentle, and consistent training gets good results.

• Cats aren't happy unless they can go outside to roam and hunt- Cats like to play, prowl, and pounce, and they can do all those activities indoors with you and a few toys - without being exposed to predators, disease, traps, poison, and traffic. Indoor cats are healthier, happier - and safer!

• Cats become fat and lazy after they're spayed/neutered- Cats, just like people, generally become fat because they eat too much and don't get enough exercise. The fact is, cats who are spayed or neutered live longer lives and make better companions. And they don't contribute to the pet-overpopulation problem in this country, where millions of unwanted cats and dogs are destroyed every year. There's no need to wait until a female cat has had a litter to have her spayed; it can be done before her first heat cycle.

• Cats can see in the dark- Cats cannot see in total darkness any better than a person can. They can see better than other animals in semidarkness, however, because of their eyes' anatomy.

• Cats don't need collars or ID tags- An identification tag is a lost cat's ticket home. Every cat, even an indoor cat, should wear a collar with an ID tag to help him come home if he is lost. Many cat owners believe a collar can injure a cat. But a breakaway collar lets a cat escape if the collar becomes snagged.

• Cats who disappear for a couple days are just out hunting (there's no need to worry)- The prolonged disappearance of any pet is cause for alarm. Cats are no exception, and as domestic animals, they cannot cope with the dangers posed by the outdoors. For their own safety and well-being, cats should always be kept indoors, but if your cat does somehow become lost, he needs to be looked for immediately - before it's too late.

• Cats will suck the breath from sleeping infants- Curious by nature, a cat may want to climb into the crib to see what new manner of squalling creature her family has brought home. But she won't suck the baby's breath. She may feel a little jealous, however, so introductions should be gradual. Lots of lavish attention will also help reassure her that she's still an important member of the family. Cats can suffer from sibling rivalry, too!

• Cats are aloof, independent animals and don't really want a lot of attention from humans- Cats are domestic animals because they live in the home. They crave human companionship and establish loving bonds with their human families. They may not always show it, but that's just the feline way. If you toss the cat outdoors, or spend little time with him, you'll never know the rewarding - and very special - relationship that comes from making a cat a true member of the family.

Home Page