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

Halloween Tips, Treats and Tricks for Pets

When witches, ghosts and ghouls take to the streets in search of treats this Halloween, they'll have some furry friends by their side. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, about 7.4 million households celebrating Halloween plan to outfit their pet in a festive Halloween costume this year. Devils and pumpkins are the top choices for pet costumes, with witches, princesses and angels rounding out the list.

One in ten households will dress their dogs up for Halloween this year.

If you plan on letting your pet don a devilish disguise, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. First, make sure your pet wants to wear a costume! While some animals may not mind being outfitted with a pumpkin suit, others may experience extreme discomfort and stress while in costume. Try putting the costume on your pet in advance of the big night to make sure he or she is comfortable with it. And while your pet is out trick or treating, don't forget about the pets that may be coming to your house - keep a few dog treats by the door to hand out to any four-legged companions accompanying trick-or-treaters.

Whether your pet is dressed like a pumpkin or a dinosaur, make sure the costume allows for easy movement and is not restrictive or confining; however, also be on guard for costumes that drag on the ground. These costumes can get caught in doors or snag on other objects. If your pet's costume includes a mask, modify the eye holes so they are big enough to accommodate your pet's peripheral vision. A pet that can't see may experience increased stress and could become aggressive as a result.

Make sure your pet's costume allows for easy movement.

When the trick-or-treating is over and the treats are ready to be had, be sure to keep chocolate away from your dog. Any amount of chocolate is harmful to your pet, so keep the treats out of their paws, no matter how much they beg. Those cellophane and foil wrappers left behind after the treats are gone are also a potential health hazard for your pet. The wrappers can be caught in your pet's digestive track and cause illness, severe discomfort - and even death - if the problem is left untreated.

There are some other pet safety tips to keep in mind this Halloween:

Jack o'lanterns and lit candles may look spooky, but they can pose problems for your pet. Rambunctious pets can knock lit pumpkins over and start fires, and wagging tails can easily get burned by open flames. Keep lit pumpkins and candles up on a high shelf to avoid accidents.

If you're hosting a Halloween party, keep your pet in a separate room, away from all the hustle and bustle. Too many strangers in odd costumes may cause your pet stress. This will also prevent your pet from sneaking out through an open door and darting out into the night.

Keep your pet indoors during the days and nights around Halloween. Pranksters and vandals have teased, injured, stolen and, in rare cases, killed pets on Halloween. Keeping your pet inside will keep them from becoming a target.


Halloween can be a fun time for you and your pet. Following the above safety tips will make sure the only scares you experience are all in good fun.

What You Need to Know: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in 2015

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a chronic, slow-developing and contagious disease of cats. Though FIV is closely related to human AIDS, the virus is specific to cats and cannot be transmitted to humans.

What FIV is and How is it Spread

FIV infects and destroys lymphocytes, which are important white blood cells that help your cat fight infection. Without lymphocytes, your cat’s immune system becomes suppressed.

FIV is most commonly transmitted through bite wounds among cats. Due to their aggressive territorial behavior, non-neutered male cats are most commonly infected. Any cat that is bitten by another cat is at risk of contracting FIV. Casual contact, such as social grooming and sharing litter boxes and food bowls, does not appear to be a source of transmission. FIV is rarely spread from an infected mother cat to her kittens or through sexual contact.

Three Stages of FIV Infection

Within four to six weeks after exposure, your cat’s lymph nodes will become enlarged – a development often accompanied by fever. Although the lymph nodes may remain enlarged for two to nine months, these early symptoms of FIV generally go unnoticed.

During the second stage, enlarged lymph nodes and fever disappear, and your cat may enter a long period of latency. This period may last several years and few (if any) clinical signs are observed. Other infected cats may slowly and progressively deteriorate, or experience recurrent illness mixed with periods of relative good health.

The last stage is the chronic or terminal phase of the infection. Secondary infections are common and may last months or years. More than 50% of infected cats have gum infections (gingivitis) and/or mouth infections (stomatitis). Skin, bladder and respiratory infections are also very common. Other symptoms include poor coat, fever, weight loss, seizures and behavioral changes. Due to the vague and generalized symptoms of FIV, your veterinarian may test your cat when he / she is ill in order to rule out this disease.

Diagnosis, Vaccination and Treatment

The diagnosis of FIV is made by your veterinarian. Your cat’s history, the presence of clinical symptoms, and the results of a specific blood test are instrumental in diagnosing the disease.

If your cat is diagnosed with FIV, any other cats in your household should also be tested. All FIV-positive cats should be kept indoors to prevent the spread of infection and reduce their exposure to secondary infections. Cats in the terminal stages of the disease can shed large quantities of the virus in their saliva and can pose a greater threat to uninfected cats. To best monitor your cat’s health, we advise scheduling wellness appointments every six months. Although there is no specific treatment for FIV, your cat’s health and well-being can be prolonged by easing the secondary effects of the disease.

Currently there is a vaccine to help protect against FIV infection; however, there are several problems with it. Not all vaccinated cats are protected by the vaccine, so preventing exposure, even in vaccinated animals, remains important. Vaccination also interferes with FIV test results. Before deciding on vaccinating your cat, it is best to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your veterinarian.

FIV-positive cats who receive proper medical care, live in a calm indoor home and are fed a nutritionally balanced diet can live many happy months or years before the disease reaches its final stage. For more information about FIV, or to make an appointment to have your cat tested, please call the veterinary hospital today.

Dog Breeds with the Shortest Lifespans

Choosing which breed of dog to share your home and life with is always an exciting process. You’ll weigh factors such as size, temperament, grooming needs, and activity level, but what about life span?

Larger animals in the wild tend to encounter fewer predators, and as such they usually live longer than smaller creatures. Man's best friend rarely has to worry about predators, either, but interestingly, larger dogs tend to have significant shorter life spans than smaller dogs. The smallest dog breeds, such as the Chihuahua, can keep their human caretakers company for 17 years or more, while the largest canines typically live only half as long – or less.

While sources vary on the exact order of dog breeds with the shortest life spans, all name Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Irish Wolfhounds, and a variety of Mastiffs at the top. These large breed dogs typically live from six to nine years.

Anyone who has ever had a large breed puppy knows how quickly they seem to transform from being tiny balls of fluff to adulthood; however, process reflects a similarly rapid aging process. Purebred, large breed dogs are also often bred from a limited gene pool, which can result in significant health issues and shorter life spans. Breeds like the Bernese Mountain Dog are prone to suffering from breed-common illnesses caused by inbreeding, which often include malignant forms of cancer such as histiocytosis, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma and osteosarcoma.

Some researchers have questioned the morality of continued breeding of large breeds with such short life spans. Breeding out genetic problems can often be achieved, but is much harder to accomplish with breeds that are already so compromised.

Although not in the top 10, one small breed dog is also known for having an average life expectancy of less than a decade. The English Bulldog was the forth-most popular dog in the United States in 2014, but the breed is prone to a variety of congenital health issues. English Bulldogs aren’t fond of much physical activity and their stubby snouts can lead to breathing problems. They are plagued by respiratory and cardiac diseases, hip dysplasia and skin infections in between their signature wrinkled skin.

As a pet owner of an English Bulldog, or Mastiff, Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, Irish Wolfhound, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Bloodhound, or other larger-than-average breed, there are steps you can take to extend the time you’ll share with your furry friend. Spaying or neutering is often believed to reduce the risk of some cancers, and providing your pooch with a proper, nutritious diet and exercise is particularly beneficial.

Wait, Don’t Eat That!

The Most Shocking (and Often Impressive) Items Dogs Have Managed to Eat

A Great Dane, whose owners wish to remain anonymous, made national headlines in September when the tale of his emergency stomach surgery at Portland, Oregon’s DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital went viral. The three-year-old, 140-pound behemoth had consumed more than three dozen socks.

During a two-hour surgery in early 2015, doctors removed 43 ½ socks from the Dane’s stomach - likely saving his life - according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. The gentle giant apparently had a preference for small, brightly colored socks and is doing just fine today.

More Stories to Make You Ask: “They Ate What?”

  • A two-year-old Pug named Stella was kind enough to chip in for the cost of her abdominal exploratory surgery. After a night of nonstop vomiting, a visit to her veterinarian resulted in the discovery of 104 pennies and one quarter in her stomach. Does Stella think turning herself into a canine piggybank for $1.29 was worth the hassle? Probably not, but she made a full recovery.

  • A 10-month-old Golden Retriever named Cody didn’t need surgery to remove the household item he consumed. Unbelievably, the pup swallowed a lightbulb and then passed it intact a day later! Cody had been throwing up for two days and required intravenous fluids. His X-ray shows the unbroken lightbulb, filament and all.

  • Bath-time must’ve gotten a little out of control for Woof. When Woof’s owner noticed him stealing a rubber duck from her bathing son and then eating it, she decided it was time for a visit to their Florida veterinarian. For months, rubber ducks had gone missing and she finally thought she knew where they had gone. Surgery later revealed five rubber duckies, a toy truck, and a piece of another toy.

  • When one owner went fishing for catfish in Kentucky, he hooked a dog! A 7 ½ -week-old puppy named Elvis swallowed one of his human’s fishing hooks, chicken-liver-bait and all. A gastrotomy found the hook had perforated the pup’s stomach, but with antibiotics and surgery the little dog returned to his healthy, hungry self.

  • Speaking of sharp objects, a Lab named Lucy took self-defense too far when she swallowed a pocket knife. The dog had snatched the knife from a coffee table and decided it looked good enough to eat. Veterinarians produced a quick vomiting episode by administering Apomorphine and a small meal. Needless to say, the 9.2 by 2.3 cm knife was recovered without surgery.

These stories represent winning submissions to Veterinary Practice News’ ninth annual “They Ate WHAT?” radiograph contest. To see the jaw-dropping X-rays and finalists of other species, click here.

Cat Communication: How to Read a Cat's Tail
Cats communicate with their tails

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and non-communicative, but reading their emotions may be a matter of looking at body language. Cats express emotion with their tails.

All Wrapped Up

Even when the cat is asleep, her tail reveals her mood and level of comfort. When she is all "tucked in" with her tail wrapped closely around her body, she is feeling content but wants to keep to herself at the moment. Just as humans wrap in a blanket to sleep, a cat uses its tail for warmth and comfort.


You know when a dog wags his tail, he is excited and happy. It is just the opposite for the cat. A tail swishing rapidly from side to side is a sign that the cat is anxious and may become aggressive. It's best to leave the cat alone and let her relax before interacting. You can toss her a toy to distract her, but don't attempt to pet the cat until she calms down.

If the side-to-side motion of the tail is slower and more fluid, take a look at what is holding the cat's attention. There may be a bird on the windowsill or a squirrel in the yard. A slow swish of the tail indicates mild excitement or interest.

Puffed Up

When cats feel threatened, they puff their fur along the spine and down the tail. This is called "pilorection." A frightened cat resembles the Halloween cat in pictures: the back is arched, the tail looks fat, and fur is bristled all over the cat's body. It may be an attempt to look larger and more intimidating. Often the cat's ears will flatten against her head.

Straight Up and Quivering

When a cat holds her tail straight up, it's usually a sign that she is relaxed and happy. A slight curl at the end of the tail and a quiver means the cat is feeling friendly and may be excited to see you. If an unneutered male cat holds a quivering tail upright against objects, it may be preparing to mark its territory. A spray of urine is satisfying for the territorial tom cat, but not pleasant for the human caretaker.

Experienced cat owners can often tell what a cat is "saying" by the tone and volume of the cat's meow. It's easy to tell when a cat wants to be fed or let out, or when the cat's tail is accidentally stepped on. For deeper insight into more subtle feline emotions, look to the tail.

VIDEO: Do Generic Flea Products Meet Your Pets' Needs?

In recent months, brand new "generic" over the counter flea medications have found their way into many grocery stores and big box retail outlets. Many of these compounds compare themselves to well known brands available through your veterinarian and claim that you can get the same protection at half the price. Now, we all want to save money AND we all want to keep our pets safe from those pesky fleas and ticks, but is there any risk to buying your pet's flea products from a display rack? Watch this video for a few tips on choosing the right flea protection.

To enjoy the videos on our site please download the latest flash plugin.
Home Page