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The veterinarians and staff at the Shawnee Animal Clinic 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

Care Of The Older Dog

Within the last few decades, advancements in veterinary medicine have caused a dramatic increase in the longevity of pets. Today, dogs, like humans, are living longer healthier lives. As a result of this increased longevity, a new branch of canine medicine has emerged called canine geriatrics.

Older Dogs Require More Care

Older Dogs Require Additional Care

The aging process can be defined as the time when deterioration takes place faster than regeneration or repair. When the aging process becomes greatly accelerated, this is known as the "geriatric stage."

Not all dogs age at the same rate. In general, the larger the dog, the earlier the geriatric stage occurs. St. Bernards and Great Danes age more rapidly and have shorter life spans than Poodles and Terriers. Certain breeds have a tendency to reach the geriatric stage earlier than others. This is true for the Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced breeds) - Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers. Aside from aging rapidly, the brachycephalic breeds do not age well. This is due to the respiratory problems associated with the anatomy of the face and head.

As a dog matures and reaches the geriatric stage, functional changes occur in most major organs and organ systems. Many of these changes can be anticipated and special care is required. Since each dog is unique, an individualized geriatric program must be discussed with your veterinarian.

Listed below are some functional changes that occur in geriatric dogs

General Metabolic Rate

A decreased metabolic rate is the primary change associated with the aging process. As a result, an older dog's diet must be altered. In general, compared to the diet of a young active dog, an older dog's caloric intake should be reduced by about 20%. This can be accomplished by increasing the amount of fiber in the diet. In general, diets specially formulated for senior dogs contain increased amounts of fiber.

Cardiovascular System

Heart disease is a major problem in geriatric dogs. In fact, 75% of dogs over 9 years of age have evidence of heart disease. Although this number is quite large, only about 25% of these dogs develop symptoms of heart failure during their lifetime.

The most common heart disease in older dogs is endocardiosis. Endocardiosis is a degenerative disorder of the heart valves. The valves of the heart become thickened and distorted, leaking blood to other chambers when the heart contracts. Four valves are present in the heart: the mitral valve, the tricuspid valve, the aortic valve, and the pulmonic valve. The mitral valve is most commonly affected.

Symptoms associated with heart failure include coughing, respiratory problems, fatigue, and exercise intolerance.

Medical management is often effective in controlling symptoms associated with heart disease. This includes reducing the amount and intensity of exercise, decreasing stress, lowering salt intake (homemade diets or special commercial low-salt diets), and administration of prescription medication.

Understanding How to Care for Geriatric Dogs Improves their Longevity

Understanding How to Care for Geriatric Dogs Improves their Longevity

Respiratory System

Tracheal Collapse in Small Dogs - This condition primarily occurs in toy and small breeds. This results from a weakening of the tracheal cartilage or the tracheal muscles. Obesity is a predisposing factor for tracheal collapse.

Bronchitis and Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - As dogs age, the normal elastic tissue of the lungs is replaced by fibrous tissue. This fibrous tissue decreases the capacity of the lungs to stretch. As a result, breathing becomes more difficult and less oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Small and toy breeds are predisposed to bronchitis and obstructive pulmonary disease.

Urinary System

As a result of the aging process, dogs' kidneys undergo degenerative changes. The kidneys normally filter waste material from the blood and concentrate urine. Older dogs' kidneys function less efficiently, and the ability to concentrate urine and eliminate waste products decreases. Symptoms associated with decreased kidney function include increased thirst, increased urine production weight loss, and occasional vomiting.

Kidney failure is a life-threatening disease of animals. It is one of the most common medical problems encountered in older dogs. Regular veterinary exams, along with blood tests, are extremely important for detecting early changes associated with kidney disease.

Bladder infections(cystitis) are also quite common in older animals. Straining during urination, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine are common symptoms associated with cystitis.

Dental Care

Periodontal disease (the progressive inflammation and destruction of supporting structures of the teeth) is an important cause of teeth loss in older dogs. Dental care is often neglected and should begin at an early age. Veterinary teeth cleaning is the first step in maintaining healthy gums and teeth.

Symptoms associated with advanced periodontal disease include bad breath, oral pain, and reluctance to chew food, and weight loss.

By combining regular veterinary visits with special home care, your dog can live a long healthy life. If your dog is approaching the twilight years, discuss blood testing and geriatric care with your veterinarian.

Can Your Doggie Paddle?

Almost all of us learned to swim with the doggie paddle. So, we may be surprised to find out that our doggie can’t, well, paddle.

With the hot summer months ahead, we’re all anxious to take Fido to the beach. But what many pet owners don’t realize is that he may not be the natural swimmer you always assumed him to be. Though it’s true that most dogs will automatically start “doggie paddling” in order to stay afloat, this does not always mean that they can hold their head up long enough to swim.

Can I have your attention?

Most dogs that can’t swim have heavy chests in relation to the rest of their body. Think: Bulldogs. Labs, on the other hand, are pretty much bred for swimming. But don’t let this basic rule of thumb get you in trouble this summer. If your dog doesn’t race to the water’s edge, it’s wise to assume that he may not be a champion swimmer, and it is your job to ensure he reaches shore safely.

Teaching your dog to swim may be as simple as luring him in with encouragement, treats, and toys until he’s ready to go solo. Start shallow and work your way deeper and deeper. The learning curve is usually pretty quick, especially if there are other dogs around who appear to be having fun in the water. If you come to realize that your dog isn’t the avid swimmer you imagined, he can still have fun with you at the lake this summer. Just strap on a life vest, and he’s good to go!

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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Cats Are Paving the Way to Human Cancer Cures

Cats Are Paving the Way to Human Cancer Cures

Feline Cancer

Looks like Whiskers may provide us with more than pet love and companionship. In fact, she may even have the answers to our own medical emergencies.  Researchers have been examining cancer development patterns in animals that may ultimately help inform similar disease patterns found in humans.

Over the span of approximately 50 years and 1,000 cases, researchers have been able to gather key information from cats with intestinal tumors to help identify risks and treatments for humans with similar conditions. Amongst other things, so far the studies have revealed lymphoma to be the most common intestinal cancer found in cats, most of which were found in the small intestines.

Since domestic animals inhabit a similar environment as people, tracking their cancer patterns and developments could help shed valuable light on similar developments in humans. The current studies are all part of a larger project to better understand the convergence of human and animal health. Although the research is still in its early stages, the potential impact of these studies could be huge.

If you are concerned that your pet could have intestinal cancer, look for signs of unexplained weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting, and call your veterinarian for more details.

Leash-training Your Cat

We’ve always been told that cats are independent – that they like their space and fend for themselves. While this is sometimes the case, many animal behaviorists claim that cats may be more wanting of human attention and companionship than we once thought. Accordingly, these same behaviorists are promoting the possibility – and even benefits – of leash-training your cat. Not only can it increase your bond and overall companionship, but also strike a nice balance between owning an indoor and outdoor cat.

Cat Leash

Teaching a cat to wear a leash, however, may be no easy feat. But just like new puppies, they’re simply not used to it. Here are a few tricks to get Whiskers on a leash:

Positive Reinforcements
Cats don’t respond to discipline the way that dogs do, nor is pleasing you enough of a reward for Whiskers. Instead, an approach centered around positive reinforcement may be the only way to get your cat on that leash.

Rewarding With Food
When you’re first working with the leash, make sure your cat is hungry. Treat him to his meal, or a tasty snack, when he plays by the rules. If he’s not hungry, he simply doesn’t care about how delicious your pocket treat may be.

Baby Steps
Be patient. Take it one step at a time, day by day. Once your cat is straddled in, it’s probably not a great idea to head straight for the streets. This could be intimidating, with far too many distractions. Instead,  try a park or other safe area first – baby steps until your cat is ready to play with the big guys.

Refrain from Holding
I know it’s tempting, but picking up your cat whenever he looks scared or defeated will not serve you or your pet well. This will only make him more dependent on you and erase any confidence that he was starting to build.

Cat Leash

Know Your Cat
Most of all, know your cat. If he hates being held or handled, you may have a harder time getting him in that harness. Play to your cat’s strengths and weaknesses, and keep them in mind throughout the entire training process.

Go ahead, strap him in!

Cats May Offer Clues for HIV Vaccine

Researchers in Jacksonville have discovered a link between feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that may be a key to developing a vaccine for HIV. Janet Yamamoto, a professor of immunology at the University Of Florida College Of Veterinary Medicine, recently discovered a protein in the FIV virus triggers an immune response in blood from HIV-infected people.

Cats May Offer Clues for HIV Vaccine

Yamamoto, who discovered the first FIV vaccine in 2002, said that the possible HIV vaccine will need to be tested in two animals before it can be tested on humans; monkeys will likely be the next test subject. Provided animal testing goes well, the vaccine could be tested on humans within the next five years. “We can use those animals as a model,” Yamamoto explained, adding that monkeys and cats cannot transmit the disease to humans.

VIDEO: Going Retro is Not Good for Cats

You might enjoy a night out listening to the latest in “retro” music, but your cats should avoid “going retro” at all costs. Retroviral diseases, such as Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, are more common than most pet owners realize and are truly threats to your cat’s well-being. Fortunately, through testing protocols and lifestyle choices, owners can help keep their feline friends safe from these deadly diseases.

Feline Leukemia is not actually a cancer, but the virus can cause several types of cancer in the cat. This disease is associated with more illnesses and deaths of cats than any other infectious agent. Studies in the US estimate more than 2 million cats are carrying and spreading the virus. The FIV virus is less prevalent but still may infect almost 1 million cats in North America.

Cats carrying either of these viruses may not show any signs of illness. In fact, due to the ability of the viruses to hide in the cat’s cells, many cats can go years without any apparent symptoms. This is a problem when new cats are introduced to the household. FeLV is considered to be a “social contact” disease. It is generally spread through intimate contact between cats, such as grooming or sharing water bowls.

Watch this video to learn more.

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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.

VIDEO: Battling a Canine Killer... Katy's Story

Half of all dogs will develop some sort of cancer in their lifetime and one in four dogs will die. These are the sad statistics of this dreaded disease that affect people and pets. Canine cancer is so prevalent that it is the leading killer of dogs over the age of two. The Canine Cancer Project is now underway to help fund studies aimed at eliminating canine cancer in the next ten to twenty years. Watch this video to learn how you can help eradicate cancer in your dog’s lifetime!

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Blind Man and Guide Dog Survive Subway Train Collision

A blind man and his guide dog escaped serious injury after the man fainted on a New York City subway platform and fell onto the tracks. The operator of the train was able to slow the train and reduce the impact on the man and his dog while bystanders called for help. The man, Cecil Williams, said that the presence of his guide dog, Orlando, saved his life. “He tried to hold me up,” Williams said, adding that the dog barked frantically and tried to stop Williams from falling, but was unable to do so when Williams fainted.

Williams originally would have had to surrender the dog to a shelter when the dog turned 11 on January 5th, as his insurance will not cover the cost of a non-working dog. However, after an outpouring of support from New Yorkers, Williams will now be able to keep Orlando. “He’s my best buddy,” Williams said. “He takes me everywhere I need to go. He’s a very gentle gentleman.”