NewsletterThe veterinarians and staff at the Dover Veterinary 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

World Rabies Day - September 28

September 28th is World Rabies Day, an international event established by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to raise awareness of the deadly virus. And this year in particular is special because it marks 10 years of the holiday. The theme for 2016 is "Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate." 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 59,000 people per year; nearly 60 percent of those are children under the age of 15 who are unaware of the risks of rabies. In 95 percent 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

Feline Communication

There are many ways to communicate with your cat. Although we don't speak the same language there are ways to understand what your cat is trying to tell you through vocalization and body language.


If you listen closely to your cat's vocalizations throughout the day, you might notice that she or he expresses far more than a typical meow. Along with body language and the "signatures" produced by marking with scents glands, claws or urine, vocalization is an important and expressive communication tool for cats. Cats use sound to let other cats and humans know if they are happy, scared, or angry.

The range of cat vocalizations can be broken down into three broad categories:

• Murmurs - Produced while the mouth is closed, include purring, chirping, and mating vocalizations

• Vowel Patterns - Include the more recognizable "meow" and are produced when the cat opens its mouth and then closes it

• Strained Intensity Patterns - Generally a sign of distress and are produced when a cat holds its mouth open with a prolonged sound; include growling, hissing and screaming; hearing these sounds can be distressing to a human, but it is equally if not more upsetting to the cat

Tricks of the Tail

A cat's tail acts as an extension of its feelings and as a warning of its intentions. A good rule of thumb is, the higher the tail, the better the mood. Broad swishing indicates agitation or annoyance, while twitches are a sign of excitement and curiosity. If you notice your cat giving you the signal of annoyance by swishing his tail from side to side, it might be wise to keep your distance. Often a batting paw will follow a swishing tail! A straight tail with a slight curl at the end (imagine a tail in the shape of a question mark) indicates general contentedness and is a sign of a happy cat. A puffed tail generally means that something has spooked the cat, hence the picture of a black cat with an arched back and puffed tail that is commonly associated with Halloween.

Watch Those Ears

In general, a cat will hold its ears erect and forward. This means that it is relaxed, following a daily schedule or offering a friendly greeting. When the ears go down, however, watch out! Ears laid flat and back against the head indicates aggression. This helps keep them out of the way of teeth and claws if a fight erupts. Ears back but down indicate fear, but aggression is always a possibility depending on the cat's personality. A frightened cat can often be an aggressive cat.

Cats are a communicative bunch. If you pay attention to your cat and know how to read the signs you are given, you can have an open and mutually beneficial relationship. If you can avoid handling him in a way that makes him unhappy, this avoids the risk of turning your happy, purring kitty into an angry, growling kitty, making life for both of you that much more enjoyable!

Grooming Your Dog

Grooming your dog accomplishes much more than just making your pet's coat look nice and shiny. It provides you with the opportunity to spend some "quality time" with your dog —combing, brushing, bathing and generally bonding with him or her. Before jumping right into it, let your dog sniff the brush and comb. As you are grooming, talk to your pet in a reassuring tone. If the grooming procedure is made comfortable, he will enjoy the procedure and begin to look forward to regular grooming sessions.

While grooming, you can check your dog closely for any problems. Move the fur aside and examine the skin closely for signs of fleas, ticks or skin irritations. Look for any unusual problems with the coat such as mats, tangles, dandruff, etc. Mats and tangles can be carefully removed while grooming. Learn where your dog likes to be combed and brushed and where he or she doesn't. All dogs have sensitive areas that need to be groomed a little more gently and carefully than other areas. By paying special attention to these areas, your dog will be more comfortable while being groomed and most likely will not resist future grooming sessions.

Healthy Coat & Nail Care

Regular grooming is essential to your dog's health and well being. Regular combing and brushing keeps the coat clean and healthy. It stimulates the skin and allows the natural oils to circulate to the coat. It also allows you to carefully check for potential skin problems. Constant scratching in a particular area may be an indication of a problem. Check with your veterinarian about any unusual problems that you find.

Combing - Comb in the direction of hair growth. It's best to comb small sections of the coat at a time. Continue combing until the coat is tangle free. If the coat has a particularly stubborn knot or tangle, you may have to trim it off with scissors. (Make sure that a piece of skin is not trimmed off as well.) A de-matting comb or slicker rake can be used to remove mats. When using a combination comb, begin with the widely spaced teeth, then follow with the finer teeth.

Brushing - Begin brushing your pet at the head, working toward the tail and down the legs. Always brush in the direction of hair growth. Pay particular attention to the legs and flanks, and areas that easily mat. A pin brush can be used to fluff the coat by brushing against the directions of hair growth. Regular brushing is good for your pet as it helps distribute the natural oils from the skin, producing a healthy, shiny coat. Brushing several times a week is recommended for most dogs.

Nail Trimming - Regular nail trimming is important to your dog's health and well being. Never use ordinary scissors to trim your dog's nails. Use trimmers that are specially designed for dogs. Nail trimming is a procedure that requires patience. The first attempt may only get you as far as touching the paws and looking at the nails. During subsequent attempts, you may get as far as trimming a few nails. Don't push your luck on the first few tries. Make sure that you reassure your pet frequently, and don't turn it into a battle. Hold the dog's paw firmly, and cut off the tip of the nail with a single stroke. Be very careful to stop short of the quick, the blood vessel inside the nail. (Cutting into the quick is painful and very messy.) Trimming the nails right after bathing often makes the quick more visible. Applying baby oil to the nails serves the same purpose. Follow up by filing your dog's nails with a nail file.

It is important to establish and adhere to a regular schedule of grooming sessions. Schedule these at a convenient time for both you and your dog. A good time to do this is after the dog has been walked, while he is relieved and calm. Select a time when you are generally not interrupted and have ample time to do a proper job. Long-haired dogs should be groomed daily, while short-haired breeds may require grooming only twice a week. It won't take long to see what frequency your dog requires.

Preparing For Your New Kitten

You will need to have the following items on hand before bringing home your new kitten:

A litterbox that is the right size for the age of the kitten. Avoid boxes that are too deep and thus might be difficult for your new kitten to climb into.

Litter for the litterbox - you may be surprised at how picky some kittens can be. Some cats prefer the very fine grain litter and some prefer the coarser types. Don't give up if your kitten does not seem pleased at first. Most kittens will definitely let you know when you have hit upon the right mixture. The breeder can let you know what the kitten is used to.

Scratching Posts (or some type of cat furniture) - They are invaluable in training your kitten to avoid harming your furniture. Scratching their claws is a healthy, natural instinct for cats, and providing them with the right place to do that will keep you and your kitten happy. Be aware that some cats prefer rough surfaces like sisal rope white others go crazy for plain old carpet (the kind on your floor, if you don't have a scratching post!).

Grooming Tools suitable for the breed of your kitten - A brush and comb are indispensable for a long-haired kitten/cat, or a flea comb or special brush for short-haired cats. You'll also need clippers for their nails (human nail clippers are not recommended). Purchase clippers made especially for cats. These can be found in most quality pet stores. Trimming the nails is an important part of feline grooming. We also recommend discussing teeth brushing with your veterinarian. This requires a special toothbrush and toothpaste.

Food and Water Bowls - Believe it or not, there is a difference even in the type of food and water bowls you provide for your kitten! Certain types of plastic, wood, and even some types of ceramic bowls may contain tiny cracks that can harbor potentially harmful bacteria. Most professionals recommend using glass and stainless steel food and water bowls. These bowls should be cleaned regularly (the dishwasher is great). Make sure the bowls are not too high for your kitten to reach.

TOYS, TOYS, TOYS - Just as human babies love to play, so do kittens. It is their survival instinct and throughout their lives, kittens and cats emulate hunting in their play. Providing them with suitable toys helps to ensure they fulfill this need. You will need to be very selective in the type of toys as kittens do love to chew and nibble. Avoid purchasing toys with small strings or beads that can be swallowed easily. Toys don't have to be expensive to be appreciated by kittens and cats.

Cat Carrier (Pet Taxi) - You'll need to have a carrier for safely traveling with your kitten, as well as trips to the vet. There is also a new "Pet Seat" available, which secures your kitten/cat (up to 30 pounds) in your car, allowing for more interaction between you and your kitty.

Food - Check with the breeder or veterinarian to be sure you have the proper food on hand. Changes in diet and water, even litter and environment, can cause minor diarrhea and other problems. It doesn't hurt to pick up a few bottles of Pedialyte liquid to keep in the cupboard in case of diarrhea and/or dehydration.

Bedding - A nice cozy bed is a great idea for the new member of the family. Your kitten will soon know that this is her/his special place. Choose a bed that is well constructed and one that is machine washable.

Teaching Puppies Not To Bite

A puppy likes biting and chewing on almost anything that enters its world. Just as with jumping, biting between litter mates is their style of play. Biting also teaches them how to use their main hunting tool, their teeth. Unfortunately, this behavior often carries over into their interactions with the members of their new home.

Biting between litter mates is normal

Puppies have very sharp teeth and a bite or nip can hurt. Along with inflicting pain, a dog bite can be terrifying to small children.

There are several methods that are used to eliminate this unwanted behavior.

Holding the Mouth Shut
The simplest method for handling this behavior is to very, very quickly grab the puppy's mouth and hold it shut. While holding the mouth shut, say a single, stern "No" in a low tone. Holding the mouth closed is usually done by placing the thumb over the top of the puppy's nose and the fingers below the bottom of the jaw.

Holding the mouth closed for four to five seconds is sufficient and the puppy usually whines. Don't try to cause them pain; there is no need to firmly squeeze the mouth. After releasing the puppy's mouth, don't make any further fuss, but go on with whatever you were doing.

It will take a few sessions for the puppy to catch on, but the animal will soon put together the facts that the bite instantly causes his mouth to be held shut.

It's not recommended to bring children into this form of discipline. Children can get hurt or they can hurt the puppy.

Startle Response and Redirection
As soon as the puppy bites down, make a sudden, abrupt, high-pitched, loud "yelp" sound. This imitates the sound that a littermate would make if bitten by the puppy. This sound should be so sudden and sharp that the puppy is immediately startled and stops the behavior. If done correctly, the puppy immediately removes his mouth and looks bewildered. At that point, quickly substitute a toy (such as a ball) for the puppy to chew on.

If your puppy bites, substitute a ball or toy

This method redirects the puppy's biting behavior to the ball. The puppy learns that it is no fun to bite; however, chewing the toy is ok. It may be necessary to repeat this process several times during the puppy's play period. If the "yelps" make the puppy more excited, it's best to try another approach.

Stop the action immediately and dramatically leave the room when the puppy bites. This is certainly a method children can use. After multiple times the puppy will learn that every time she bites, she loses her playmate, and that's no fun at all.

Important! No matter what method you use, do not entice the puppy to bite you. Games like tug-of-war and waving your hands in front of the puppy may encourage him (or her) to bite.