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

“Back-To-School Blues” For Your Dog

Parents and youngsters aren’t the only ones who have to adjust to a new schedule every fall. Just as kids grow accustomed to the care-free days of summer, dogs get used to the constant attention and play time that a child’s constant presence brings. Many dogs will adjust quickly to the change, but those prone to separation anxiety may look for ways to lash out.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Nick Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recommended the following tips to help ease the transition between summer and the school year:

  • Make departure time happy using toys and treats
  • Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe
  • Try starting the routine before school begins
  • Do not indulge with baby talk or sympathy
  • See a veterinarian if the dog’s disposition doesn’t improve

With a little advanced planning and a few tweaks to you and your dog’s morning routine, you can keep your dog relaxed and content while his favorite playmate is gone for the day. Before you know it, your dog’s “back-to-school blues” will be a thing of the past.

Behavior - Urination Problems In Dogs


During times of high excitement, dogs may dribble or squirt small amounts of urine. This behavior often occurs when the owner returns from a trip or even a day at work. Some dogs are so excitable that each time they see someone familiar, they dribble a small amount of urine.

Generally, this behavior occurs more often in puppies and younger dogs (1 to 7 months of age). Most dogs outgrow this behavior without specific intervention


Regular Housetraining Helps Prevent Indoor Urination & Defacting Problems

Regular Housetraining Helps Prevent Indoor Urination & Defecation Problems

Description: A dog that is not housetrained or has lost it's housetraining abilities will urinate or defecate in the home whether the owner is present or not. Some dogs learn to avoid eliminating directly in front of the owner if they have been previously punished for this behavior. Dogs may find indoor locations more readily available or attractive. They often have a preferred substrate or location for the indoor elimination. Inclement weather can contribute to the development of the problem.

This problem usually occurs in young puppies (2 to 6 months of age) and elderly dogs (>7 years of age) but can occur at any age.This problem must be dealt with immediately.


Description: In an attempt to communicate a submissive status to a person, usually associated with a greeting or a reprimand, the dog may urinate. The dog will exhibit other body postures that convey submission (e.g., ears back, avoidance of eye contact, cowering, or rolling over). Submissive urination is more common in young female dogs. Most dogs outgrow this behavior by 1 year of age.

Submissive Behaviors Include Urination

Submissive Behavior Includes Urination

The age at onset for this behavior is early in life (1 to 7 months of age) but can occur at any age.


Description: Urine marking involves small quantities of urine usually deposited vertically on targets. Urine marking occurs despite adequate access to the outdoors. Triggers for marking behaviors may include the addition of another pet, female dog in estrus (heat), or a new item or person in the household. Sexually mature, intact male dogs are most likely to engage in urine marking behavior.The age at onset for this behavior is between 6 - 24 months of age.

Cats Encountering Other Cats

When cats encounter other cats, their meetings are often quite unpleasant. Here are some tips that may come in handy when dealing with these unpleasant encounters:

Sit out the minor battles - When cats meet, there will be a certain amount of hissing and posturing. In most case, this is their way of getting to know each other. If they do start arguing, chances are it will settle down in a few minutes.

Don't get in the middle of a fight - If the cats really do start to fight, stay out of it. In the heat of battle, they don't care what they bite or scratch - and that bite could well be you. Keep your hands clear.

Interrupt Correctly - If you see a fight brewing, try to stop it before it gets to a heated pitch. Interrupt the action with the deepest and loudest NO that you can muster. Cats associate a low-pitched voice with a threatening growl and will take it far more seriously than they will a, "Now, now, Fluffy—stop that, please."

Use Water - If you are lucky enough to have the fight occur near a water source, given them a blast with the hose. Even a pitcher of water or water pistol can do the trick. Hard to convince cats will take lots of water.

Think ahead - If you do want two cats, try to get them at the same time and as kittens. Cats that grow up together are less likely to squabble.

Provide an escape route - Make sure that when two cats meet for the first time that they have an easy way out. If they don't feel trapped, they will be less likely to fight.

Indoors vs. Outdoors - The safest place for your cat is inside where there is no chance of territorial fights. The average life span for an indoor cat is 12 to 14 years, for an outdoor cat it is 1 to 2 years.

Neuter your cat young - Cats that are neutered before they are six months old, may never develop the tendency to fight. Aggression is greatly reduced in males and even spayed females display a less quarrelsome disposition.

VIDEO: The Down and Dirty on Fleas!

Everyone knows that fleas can be a major nuisance, but, what’s the best way to get rid of these pests? Fleas reproduce very rapidly and have been known to carry a variety of diseases and parasites, so it is important to understand how to break their life cycle. Treating the pets to kill the adult fleas is essential, but you must also attack the remaining 95 percent of fleas living in the environment. Watch this video for a few tips and tricks about keeping fleas away from your pets!

To enjoy the videos on our site please download the latest flash plugin.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis - DKA

Diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, is one of the most serious metabolic disorders seen in both human and veterinary medicine. As many as 5 to 10 percent of humans with DKA die from this condition. Death rates for dogs may be as high as 30 to 40 percent in some situations.

A severe complication of diabetes mellitus, DKA is characterized by an elevated concentration of blood sugar; the presence of substances called ketones in the urine and reduced concentrations of bicarbonate in the blood. Some dogs with DKA may be affected mildly, but the majority become seriously ill. DKA leads to death in many cases, but aggressive diagnostics and treatment can be life saving.

DKA often develops in dogs and cats that have a relative or absolute insulin deficiency. This can be due to an unrecognized case of diabetes mellitus or a low dose of insulin administered to a diabetic animal. The third and least common cause of DKA is the result of another illness or medication that impairs insulin action.

The most effective method of preventing DKA is having your pet examined by a veterinarian. If the pet is displaying any symptoms of diabetes, laboratory tests can be run and treatment can be initiated immediately.

Clinical symptoms of DKA include excessive drinking, excessive urination, increased or decreased appetite, weight loss, prostration and vomiting. Other symptoms sometimes associated with DKA include, neurological disorders, and acute kidney failure.

DKA is one of the most serious metabolic disorders seen in both human and veterinary medicine. Many patients die from it. However, patients can pull through a crisis successfully with aggressive diagnostics and appropriate treatment

The aggressiveness of treatment depends upon how sick the animal is. While pets with mild DKA may be successfully treated with intravenous fluids and insulin, those with severe manifestations of disease need more significant therapy. Even with appropriate and aggressive treatment, some animals develop secondary problems that can prove fatal.

Laboratory blood testing is important for diagnosing cases of diabetic ketoacidosis. Continuous blood testing is also needed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. In addition to a routine urinalysis, a urine culture is often performed on any dog with DKA, as urinary tract infections are very common complicating factors. X-rays of the chest and abdomen and sometimes abdominal ultrasound are needed in order to investigate underlying or associated factors, as well as other abnormalities that may require specific treatment.

The most important method for preventing DKA is recognition and careful treatment of a diabetic pet. Common symptoms of diabetes mellitus include increased thirst and urination, increased appetite and weight loss. Diabetic animals should be treated very carefully with steroids. Steroids can cause insulin resistance that leads to the development of DKA.

VIDEO: Lasers Relieve Your Pets' Pain

"Cold laser" procedures seem to be providing relief for arthritic pets and even helping wounds heal faster. Proponents of laser therapy say that the feeling is like receiving a deep, relaxing massage. Watch this video to learn how the therapy works and what advocates, and skeptics, are saying.

To enjoy the videos on our site please download the latest flash plugin.
Divorce and Pets

Children and pets both thrive and depend on intact families. However, divorce takes that sense of stability and security and throws it to the wind leaving children and pets anxious as to what the future holds. In the best case, both parents are able to come together and create a reasonable shared custody arrangement. In the worst case, a court must do this for them.

Divorce affects pets and children

For kids the effect of divorce and the criteria used to establish custody are relatively well known. However, the effect of family separation and criteria to determine custody of pets are not nearly as well understood or clear cut in the law.

Divorce's Effect on Pets

Both dogs and cats are sensitive enough to understand when their human companions are under stress. They can sense discord and see the beginnings of one parent beginning to leave the home. Since your pet relies on you so much for their own sense of wellbeing, yelling and fighting and impending change can cause your pet quite a bit of anxiety. This anxiety can also lead to behavioral issues such as soiling, barking or howling and in some cases destructive actions.

If you are fighting with a spouse or in the midst of separating, it is important to understand that just as you shouldn't fight and yell in front of kids, you shouldn't do these things in front of your pets.

Additionally, as change and separation begins, make sure to keep consistent routines with your pets. Feed them at the same time each day and take them on regular and well known walks. Since they likely have a deep bond with your kids, maintain that relationship. It's good for both your pet and kids.

After separation or divorce you should understand that dogs, especially older dogs have a difficult time handling new routines and surroundings. It is important to take steps to ease your pets, when possible, into new circumstances. It may also be a good idea to talk with your veterinarian about some form of behavior counseling to help you make the best decisions for your pet.

Separation affects dogs and cats

Divorce, Pets and the Law

Pets occupy a rather uncomfortable place in divorce law. Pet owners love their pets and have deep and loving bond with them, but unlike children, a pet is merely a possession in the eyes of most state laws; sort of a four footed, furry and friendly flat-screen TV. This is changing in some areas, and there are instances of shared custody arrangements and issuance of visitation rights, but a judge is not obligated to make these considerations.

Most judges decide pet custody based on a few criteria:

  • Have the couple's children bonded with the pet and which parent has child custody?
  • Is the pet the property of one person prior to the divorce?
  • Who is in the best position to provide care for the pet?
  • And generally speaking, what is in the best interest of the pet?

As noted above, in the best case, the parents will have arranged a shared custody agreement for the kids and have included the pets so that they remain with the children. If child custody is held by one parent, then it should be agreed the pets should reside there as well, with allowances for visitation.

However, in many cases custody of pets can become a contentious issue. In this case, the following should help you maintain custody of your pet:

  • If you owned the pet prior to marriage you will need to be able to show this to the court.
  • Tell your lawyer how important custody of your pet is to you so it can be a priority.
  • If you have custody of the children, a court is very likely to award you the pets as well.
  • Communicate and negotiate with your ex. Perhaps there is an arrangement that could be made.
  • Were you the primary caretaker of the pet? If so make sure you can demonstrate that to the court by asking your veterinarian to be a character witness as well as friends and family. Also include evidence that you paid the vet bills and provided care such as grooming services and etc.
  • Try to show that the pet is best off in your home because you are physically and financially able to take care of it.
World Rabies Day - September 28

September 28th is World Rabies Day, an international event to raise awareness of the deadly virus. With this in mind, it’s the perfect time to take a few minutes to educate yourself about rabies prevention and treatment.

World Rabies Awareness Day

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through exposure to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal, and is nearly always fatal without proper treatment. Rabies kills over 55,000 people per year; at least half those are children under the age of 15 who are unaware of the risks of rabies. In 95% of human rabies cases, the cause was a bite or a scratch from an infected dog.

Rabies is not always visible to the naked eye. However, the following symptoms are common in infected animals:

  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Unprovoked aggressive behavior or overly friendly behavior
  • Foaming at the mouth

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control recommends that all mammals that are in frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated, but especially dogs, cats, and ferrets. Additionally, vaccinations should always be kept up to date to ensure their usefulness.

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, the Alliance recommends that pet owners feed and water their pets indoors, as even empty bowls can attract wildlife. Garbage should be securely covered, as the smell from an open garbage can will attract stray animals. Wild animals should never be kept as pets, and should never be approached, even if they appear friendly.

If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal that is unknown to you, you may have been exposed to rabies. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Once symptoms of rabies appear, survival is very rare.

If your pet is bitten by an unvaccinated animal, consult your veterinarian immediately to see if your pet needs booster shots. You should also keep your pet away from other animals, and watch your pet for signs of illness or unusual behavior for at least 45 days.

More Information
For more information on rabies and to find out about World Rabies Day events, visit the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website at

Colleges Opening their Doors to Pets

As enrollment figures are starting to drop, many colleges are welcoming pets. Administrators at Stevens College in Columbia, MO and State University of New York at Canton have seen enrollments increase and emotional problems, often associated with students leaving home for the first time, decrease since allowing pets on campus.

A survey of 1,400 colleges lists allergies and irresponsible students as the two main reasons for not allowing pets. Other objections include mess, noise, disease, biting, roommate issues and pet abandonment. Schools that allow pets solve these problems in a variety of ways, including special dorms for students with pets and extra security deposits and cleaning fees. Schools also require current veterinary records and waivers of liability.

A girl and her dog on the quad

Here are a few schools that allow students to bring their pets to college:

MIT – Cambridge, MA
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students may keep cats in “cat-friendly” areas of certain dormitories. The cat-friendly areas have a Pet Chair who is responsible for approving and keeping track of pets in the dorm, and the pet owner must have approval from his or her roommates.

Stetson University – DeLand, FL
Stetson University allows students to bring fish, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, mice, cats and dogs under 50 pounds to pet-friendly housing areas on campus. While several breeds of dogs including pit bulls and Rottweilers are prohibited, the college nonetheless won the Halifax Humane Society’s 2011 Wingate Award for encouraging responsible pet ownership.

Eckerd College – St. Petersburg, FL
Students with pet ducks are in luck at Eckerd College. In addition to cats, small dogs and rabbits, the college allows owners of waterfowl to cohabitate with their feathered friend in its pet friendly dormitories. All pets on the Eckerd campus must be registered with Eckerd’s pet council.

Stephens College – Columbia, MO
Stephens College is home to Searcy Hall, affectionately referred to by students as “Pet Central.” In addition to welcoming cats and small dogs, Stephens offers an on-campus doggie daycare and opportunities to foster pets through a nearby no-kill animal rescue organization.

Caltech – Pasadena, CA
Students housed in Caltech’s seven pet-friendly dorms are allowed to keep up to two indoor cats. Cats are provided with an ID tag by Caltech’s housing office, and students must remove cats if neighbors complain.

SUNY Canton – Canton, NY
State University of New York’s Canton campus has a designated pet wing where students are allowed to keep one cat or a small caged pet with the approval of the residence hall director. Pets in this area are allowed free reign in the hall, as the school’s pet wing community tries to promote a family-like atmosphere for its residents.

These are just a few of the colleges that currently allow pets on campus. In fact, a recent survey of college admissions officers found that 38% of schools have housing where some pets are permitted, with 10% of those schools allowing dogs and 8% allowing cats. Students who dread leaving Fido behind every fall might not have to if they choose a pet-friendly college.

Congress Vs. Exotic Pets: The History Of H.R. 669

Not all pets are cute and cuddly and sit in your lap, but pet owners love them just the same. Snakes, iguanas, birds, hamsters, fish and others are all popular pet choices, even though they can't go for a walk in the park or come when you call. However, in 2009, the future of exotic pet ownership was in question when a piece of legislation was introduced during the 111th session of congress.

The bill, H.R. 669, was called the "Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Protection Act." According to the text of the bill, its aim was to "prevent the introduction and establishment of nonnative wildlife species that negatively impact the economy, environment, or other animal species' or human health, and for other purposes."

The overall goal of the bill was noble enough, intending to stop irresponsible pet owners from keeping dangerous pets and preventing non-native species from taking over local ecosystems.

Many species of birds are considered non-native and will be affected by HR 669

Many species of birds are considered non-native and would have been affected by HR 669.

However, the language of the bill was vague, which meant that traditional pets like hamsters, aquarium fish, most species of birds, and reptiles could have been banned under the bill. As part of the bill, substantial scientific proof would have had to be provided before a non-native animal could be imported into the U.S., bred or transported across state lines.

The bill was widely opposed by pet owners, who mounted a massive letter writing campaign declaring opposition to the bill. Luckily for exotic pet owners, the bill died in committee, never even making it to the House floor for a vote. Similar legislation has not yet been introduced.

Home Page