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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

Researches Warn Against Raw Meat Diets for Pets

A new study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association cautions pet owners against raw meat-based diets, saying that the diet may “lack nutritional balance and cause illness.” The study notes that, while many who feed their pets a raw meat-based diet believe it is a more natural option for cats and dogs, there are significant risks involved.

Researchers noted that raw meat-based diets often do not provide adequate nutrition for pets, and can carry food-borne illnesses, which have proved fatal in some cases. In one case, salmonella was found in 48% of raw meat-based diets. The researchers ultimately concluded that, in the case of raw meat-based diets, “the risks outweigh any minimal benefits.”

Fearful Cat

When your cat feels threatened, he may have a variety of responses. Generally he follows a pattern or displays one of three reactions: fight, flight or freeze. Each cat has a preferred way of dealing with a crisis. Knowing how your cat reacts to a perceived threat and what may cause your cat to consider a situation threatening helps you better understand your cat.

Common fearful reactions include hiding, freezing in place, loss of bladder and/or bowel control and aggression. Aggression can manifest in spitting, hissing, growling, swatting, biting, scratching and puffing up of fur. These are all normal behaviors if your cat feels scared or threatened. Your reaction to your cat's behavior is most important. Wanting to help and comfort your cat when he is frightened is natural; however, it isn't necessarily the best thing to do. Providing your cat with a safe and protected place (a box, space in the closet, under the bed) is often the best decision. Allowing your cat to deal with his fear is healthy as long as his aggression is not destructive and/or directed at you or other pets.

Many things can trigger fearful behavior in cats. The trigger could almost be anything, and until you learn what it is that initiates this behavior in your cat, you need to closely observe him when faced with new situations. Common triggers can be a particular person, a stranger in your home, another animal, a child, loud noises, household appliances and so on. It is important to note if your cat's behavior changes when faced with potentially frightening situations. In other words, the vacuum may draw an initial fearful response, but gradually change into acceptance. By noting your cat's ability to adapt to scary situations over time, you can learn quite a bit about his personality.

Hiding is a common fearful behavior.

So what can you do to reduce your cat's anxiety or fear? To help him become more confident and secure, follow the steps described below.

  • Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a thorough physical exam to rule out any medical reasons for your cat's fearful behavior. Cats very often show symptoms of sickness in their behavior. Any sudden behavior change could mean that your cat is ill. Common symptoms that appear in sick cats include unusual aggressiveness, frequent hiding and eliminating outside the litter box.
  • If your cat is healthy but hiding, leave him alone. He'll come out when he's ready. To force your cat out of his hiding spot will only encourage fearful behavior. Make sure he has access to food, water and a litter box from his hiding place, and avoid "checking in" on him. By giving him space, you will not be conceived as a threat, therefore giving him a sense of security.
  • If you have identified a specific person or circumstance that stimulates fear in your cat, minimize contact with that particular person or situation.
  • Keep your cats routine as regular as possible. Cats feel more confident if they know what to expect daily. Feeding, playing, cuddling, grooming and napping generally round out a cat's existence. Interfering with you cat's routine may cause him to behave as though threatened.
Selecting a Boarding Kennel For Your Dog

Every owner wants to find a well-run boarding kennel for their pet, but how do you tell if it is well-run? Here's a ten point check list for any facility you are considering.

  1. Do They Allow Inspection?
    You should be able to tour the whole facility with little advance notice. Any facility which refuses a tour is suspect. Many facilities are very busy and have specific tour hours. Please be respectful of their visiting hours.
  2. Dogs Should Look Happy
    While touring the kennel, most of the dogs should be up near or on the gates wagging their tails, barking and generally making a nuisance of themselves. One or two may hang back, but most should be up front.
  3. Fencing
    Double fencing is a must. Double fencing is one line of well maintained fence with another line of equally well maintained fence a few feet away. This ensures that even if a dog does get out of his run, he is still contained. Single fence facilities are OK; however, double fencing is much better.
  4. Doors
    There should always be two doors between your animal and freedom. Facilities which have doors directly to the outside in the kennel area are accidents waiting to happen.
  5. A Member of ABKA?
    ABKA stands for American Boarding Kennel Association, and is a good sign of the owner's commitment to professionalism. It isn't a guarantee, and lack of it does not mean the kennel isn't first-class, but it is reassuring to see the ABKA logo.
  6. Requires Vaccinations
    Good kennels require proof of up-to-date vaccinations including kennel cough (bordatella). Never leave an animal in a kennel where vaccinations are not required. This is your only guarantee against some major contagious diseases.
  7. Smells Clean
    Your nose knows. A boarding kennel filled with dogs will smell like dogs. Along with dogs, you may well smell disinfectant. There shouldn't be an overwhelming stench of urine or feces. Occasionally a dog comes in for boarding who isn't clean in their indoor pen, but these are rare. If more than a couple of dogs have urine and/or feces in their indoor areas, something is wrong.
  8. Indoor/Outdoor Runs
    These are attached runs with an individual door for each dog. This situation is safer and less stressful for your pet than being kept in a crate and taken outside a few times daily. The exception to this is dogs who may become frightened in the kennel. For these dogs, crating in a quieter area is best.
  9. Boarding Kennels and Disease
    No matter how excellent the kennel, boarding is still a stressful experience for most dogs. Stress leaves animals susceptible to disease. Also, not all vaccinations are 100 percent effective. Even dogs who have been vaccinated against kennel cough and viral diarrhea can pick up a strain not covered by the vaccine. Even a carefully run facility will occasionally have an intestinal bug. We take for granted that our children will get colds or skin a knee at school or camp, yet we are surprised when our dogs do the canine equivalent at a kennel.
  10. Provide Information
    If an emergency occurs, the kennel's obligation is to inform you of the situation (if possible), get the dog the necessary veterinary care while at their facility, and to practice thorough sanitation measures. Disease is rare at a good facility - but it can happen. That's just part of the package when your board your dog. Because of this, elderly dogs; puppies under six months of age; fearful, anxious dogs, and dogs with immune problems are best cared for in a home environment.
Ten Best U.S. Cities for Dog Owners

U.S. News & World Report studied hundreds of U.S. cities and graded them on dog-friendly factors to come up with a list of the ten best. The grading system included information on:

  • weather
  • population density
  • availability of green space
  • availability of dog parks
  • pet-friendly housing
  • local laws and regulations

The pet-friendliest cities have a variety of dog amenities such as leash-free fenced dog parks, separate parks for large and small dogs, and great weather for walking in all seasons. Here is their list, along with the factors that contributed to the ranking:

  1. Ellicott City, MD: Mild weather and lots of public parks and "green" areas
  2. Rocky Point, NY: Dogs are allowed on the beaches, and can swim in Long Island Sound during summer mornings and evenings.
  3. Auburn, AL: Kiesel Park boasts a garden, a pond, and a 2-1/4 mile walking trail for dogs and owners. There's also a fenced in, off-leash area designated for dogs.
  4. Butte, MT: Lots of surrounding hiking areas where dogs are welcome.
  5. Yankton, SD: A hearty outdoor recreation culture. Dogs are often included in hunting activities.
  6. Lewiston, ID: More than 20 public parks, and 7 square miles of green space within 15 miles provide outdoor walking and hiking areas that welcome dogs.
  7. Glasgow, KY: Near Bowling Green, this area has 80 square miles of surrounding green space friendly to dogs, and a park with separate areas for large and small dogs.
  8. Aiken, SC: Hopeland Gardens, a 14-acre park in the city, lets dogs on leash wander through paths and gardens.
  9. Flower Mound, TX: Fantastic weather and an active, well-respected animal services department make this a pet friendly city.
  10. Wolf Trap, VA: This and surrounding towns have off-leash dog parks and other dog-friendly amenities. Dynamic local organizations (Arlington Dogs, e.g.) advocate for dog-owner rights.

Other organizations have their own "top ten" lists ranking dog-friendly areas. Portland, Oregon, ranks well among all the lists due to many pet-friendly hotels, motels and inns as well as a liberal pet policy on state beaches.

Portland is also home to the Lucky Labrador Brewing Company, where dogs are welcome to follow their owners into the bar. Many restaurants, especially in summer months, allow dogs and even cater to them with special treats.

The dog-friendly website,, compiled its own top ten list and ranked cities not only for their pet amenities, but also for the number of times the city showed up on a pet-friendly list.

Their results:

  1. Portland: 56 points on 8 lists
  2. Colorado Springs: 38 points on 5 lists
  3. Austin: 36 points on 6 lists
  4. NYC: 33 points, on 6 lists
  5. Seattle: 28 points on 5 lists
  6. San Diego: 28 points on 5 lists
  7. Chicago: 24 points, on 4 lists
  8. San Francisco: 20 points on 4 lists
  9. Boston: 20 points, on 3 lists
  10. Orlando: 17 points on 3 lists

Do you live in a pet friendly place? Definitions vary, but generally, pet friendly places lack regulations that restrict where animals can go. In a pet friendly city, there are dog parks, fenced no-leash dog run areas, restaurants with water dishes on the floor, and an abundance of pet services. Active Humane Societies and adequate numbers of veterinarians and animal hospitals also serve the pet friendly community.

VIDEO: Senior Pets

For years, many pet owners just accepted the fact that their four-legged friends were just going to live a relatively short life, get old, and pass on. But modern veterinary medicine can help pets live longer with less painful or debilitating problems. Watch for changes in thirst, appetite, bad breath, lumps and changes in behavior. See your veterinarian more often and work out a senior wellness plan to help your pet live happy senior years. Watch this video to learn more.

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Have Backyard Chickens? Take Precautions!

Have Backyard Chickens? Take Precautions!

Three hundred people nation-wide have been linked to an outbreak of salmonella originating from a hatchery in Ohio. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the outbreak has stemmed from humans in contact with live chickens from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries, which supplies live chicks to stores in several states. Many of those infected raise backyard chickens.

Backyard Chickens

The CDC says that consumers who own live poultry can protect themselves against the illness by washing hands thoroughly with soap immediately after touching live poultry, keeping live poultry outside the house, and keeping living spaces for live poultry clean. The CDC offers additional information on salmonella prevention, as well as symptoms, on their 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.

Pet Rabbit Care Part 1: DIET

This is Part I in a series of articles on caring for rabbits. Look for additional featured articles in upcoming issues of our newsletter.

Rabbits make intelligent, friendly and quiet house pets. The average life span for a bunny is 7 to 10 years, with records of up to 15 years of age being reported. The following information is designed to help you take the best care of your pet and enjoy a happy, healthy life with him or her.

Pet Rabbit


Rabbit Pellets: A good quality rabbit pellet may be offered daily but in limited quantities. The uncontrolled feeding of a pelleted diet can lead to obesity, heart and liver disease, chronic diarrhea, and kidney disease which results from the high concentration of carbohydrates, low fiber and high calcium levels in the pellets. Make sure that you buy pellets high in fiber (18 percent or more), and that you buy small quantities. Oxbow Hay Company sells very reasonable, high fiber pellets. You can find them on the web. Keep the pellets refrigerated or cool and dry to prevent spoilage. Old, rancid pellets can cause a rabbit to stop eating.

The following chart shows daily amounts to be fed to your bunny. Do not refill the bowl even if the pellets are all eaten before the next day. Overfeeding of pellets is the number one cause of health problems we see. Keep your rabbit healthy by not overdoing it!

*Rabbits up to eight months of age can have access to pellets free choice, because they are still growing rapidly. However, after eight months of age, they should receive the following maintenance diet.

  • 2-4 lb. of body weight—1/8 cup daily
  • 5-7 lb. of body weight—1/4 cup daily
  • 8-10 lb. of body weight—1/2 cup daily
  • 11 - 15 lb of body weight—3/4 cup daily

*Please note that these food amounts are for the maintenance of the non-breeding, mature house rabbit. If you intend to breed your pet, then we suggest increasing the daily pellet amounts by 1/4 cup during the breeding season. For does that are nursing babies, the pellets should be increased over a 4 to 5 day period to free-choice until the babies are weaned. After the breeding period is over, resume feeding at the maintenance levels as listed above.

In some situations, your veterinarian may recommend that pellets should be removed totally from the diet. Do not become alarmed, because your pet will be able to receive all the nutrients necessary from the hay and fresh foods that you will be instructed to feed. This is commonly the treatment suggested by our hospital for very overweight bunnies that need to lose weight safely.

*Avoid pellets with dried vegetables and fruits. These are not healthy for bunnies.

Hay: Timothy, Orchard, or other grass hay(but not alfalfa) should be offered daily in limited amounts. It is important that hay be available at all times for your pet. In fact, 90 percent of your bunny's diet should consist of hay! Rabbits tend to eat small amounts of food frequently throughout the day and withholding hay for long periods of time can lead to intestinal upsets.

We prefer the loose, long strands of hay, as opposed to the pressed cubes or chopped hay. The fiber in the hay is extremely important in promoting normal digestion and for the prevention of hairballs. Hay also contains proteins and other nutrients essential to the good health of your pet. We no longer recommend the use of alfalfa hay, particularly if it is being used along with pellets (which are already high in alfalfa), because it may provide too much calcium and extra carbohydrates, which may lead to serious health problems and digestive upsets. If the rabbit is on a no pellet diet, then alfalfa hay may be used in unlimited amounts, but weight loss may be more difficult to achieve.

Check with your local pet stores for timothy hay or other types of grass hay. They can be purchased on the web at Oxbow Hay Company. Also check with local feed stores and horse barns, because many of these places will sell you a "flake" of hay off a bale at a very nominal cost. Hay should be stored in a cool, dry place with good air circulation (don't close it tightly in a plastic bag). Discard wet or damp hay, or any hay that does not have a "fresh" smell. The best way to offer the hay is to use a hayrack on the outside of the cage. Your pet can pull the hay into the cage through the bars, as he or she needs it. This keeps the hay clean and eliminates much of the waste.

At certain times of the year and in certain locations, it may be difficult to obtain grass hay. At these times it is okay to use hays mixed with alfalfa, or use strictly alfalfa hay for a short period of time. The most important thing is to always have hay available to the pet. Remember, we are restricting the pellets, and the hay is a major source of fiber and nutrients.

Fresh Foods: These foods should be given daily. Rabbits in the wild eat primarily tough, fibrous leaves, bark and other difficult to digest plants. Their digestive tract functions best when it has the most work to do in breaking down cellulose. If your pet is not used to getting any fresh foods, then start out gradually with the green leafy veggies and add a new food item from the list every 5 to 7 days. If the addition of any item leads to diarrhea or unformed stools in 24 to 48 hours, then remove it from the diet.

Young bunnies should also be introduced to new foods gradually. However, once your pet is eating these foods, try to give at least three types daily. We find that the addition of these fresh fibrous foods, along with the hay, helps in the prevention of hairballs and other digestive upsets. Plus, your bunny will love you for it!

The following are all foods that you can try on your pet. The total amount of fresh food that can be given daily, once your pet has been gradually introduced to it as described above, is about one heaping cup per 5 pounds of body weight.

Carrot tops, beet tops, dandelion greens and flowers (these are excellent, but no pesticides, please), kale, collard greens, escarole, romaine lettuce, (don't give light colored leaf lettuce or iceberg lettuce), parsley, clover, cabbage, broccoli (don't forget the leaves), carrot, green peppers, pea pods (the flat edible kind), brussels sprouts, basil, peppermint leaves, raspberry leaves, radicchio, bok choy and spinach.

Try to feed at least three different types of greens daily. Feeding just one type of green food only (especially broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and spinach) may lead to nutrient imbalances.

Treat Foods: In a small amount, you can give one of these "treat" foods daily, (give about one level tablespoon per 5 lbs. of body weight) - strawberries, papaya, pineapple, apple, pear, melon, raspberries, peach, pear or dried whole grain bread.

One can alternately give one level teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight of banana or dried fruit.


Water: This should always be available and changed daily. A dirty water container can breed bacteria that can cause disease. The container can be either a water bottle or heavy bowl that is weighted or secured to the side of the cage so that it does not tip over. Do not use medications or vitamins in the water, because your pet may not drink if the taste or color is altered.

Vitamins: These are not felt to be necessary if the rabbit is getting pellets, hay and fresh foods in the diet. In fact, the indiscriminate use of vitamins may lead to over dosage and serious disease.

Salt or Mineral Block: Not necessary for the house pet on the described diet. You may want to have one available for those animals kept outdoors in warm climates and for breeding animals. (We do not recommend keeping pet rabbits outdoors.)

Night Droppings: It may seem strange to list this as a part of the diet, but these "special droppings" are an essential part of your pet's nutrition. During certain times of the day, usually in the evening, you may observe your pet licking the anal area and actually eating some of the droppings in the process.

These cecal (we are not confusing this with the word fecal) pellets are softer, greener, and have a stronger odor than the normal hard, dry round waste droppings. Your pet knows when these droppings are being produced and will take care of eating them himself. These cecal pellets come from the cecum, which is the part of the digestive system where fermentation of food takes place, and they are rich in vitamins and nutrients, which are needed by your pet to maintain good health. After eating these "vitamin pellets," he will redigest this material and extract all the necessary nutrients. This habit may appear distasteful to us, but it is normal and important for your pet.

Occasionally, a rabbit will drop these cecal pellets along with the waste pellets instead of eating them. They will be soft, brighter green, come in clumps and are misshapen, but formed and have an odor. This is not considered diarrhea, and, if it only occurs occasionally, is not considered a disease problem.

Pet Sitting: It’s for the Birds

It’s fairly easy these days to find someone to walk your dog, feed your cat, or clean your rabbit’s cage while you are out of town. But many people, even in urban areas, are finding ways to keep chickens. These are not family pets; they are primarily food sources. They provide fresh eggs, keep bug and pest populations down, and are fun to have around the yard. The problem? It’s not easy to find someone to watch the henhouse when owners need to fly the coop.

Chicken sitters hard to findChickens can be aggressive and dangerous. When threatened, they will flap their wings, fly up at your head or arms, and peck with their beaks. They often attack the hand that tries to take their eggs.

Fortunately for bird keepers, some enterprising pet sitters, like Easy Acres Chicken Sitting in Los Angeles, have added chicken sitting to their menu of offerings, and for $20 a day, they will clean the coops, collect eggs, and drop off food and fresh water. This company will even let free-range chickens out and collect them at the end of the day.

In a slow economy, it pays to be creative, especially for small companies and individuals trying to stay afloat. Expanding the list of species is one way that pet sitters can gain new clients. Those who aren’t “chicken” to care for urban and suburban flocks will find that more and more people are opting for fresh eggs and looking for intrepid caretakers for the birds.

VIDEO: Modern Horse Care
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