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

Arthritis Factor in Dogs May Prove Important to Humans

Drawing upon an international database of some 16,000 dogs, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have pinpointed what's believed to be the first solid predictor of future arthritis. The scientists have found that laxity in the hip joint—several millimeters' worth of excessive play between the ball of the femur and the hip socket—correlates strongly with the advent of hip arthritis later in a dog's life.

"The relationship between hip laxity and arthritis in dogs is akin to the relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease in humans," said lead author Gail K. Smith, professor of orthopedic surgery and chair of the Philadelphia Department of Clinical Studies at Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine. "Hip laxity is no guarantee of arthritis later in life, but it is a very solid risk factor."

The finding, reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, could lead to new ways of averting or minimizing the occurrence of canine arthritis, which afflicts an estimated 70 to 80 percent of dogs in certain breeds. Since a canine generation is just 30 to 36 months, Smith said selective breeding to avoid high-laxity individuals could slash the incidence of canine arthritis within 10 years.

Smith, who began collecting data on arthritis in dogs in 1983, says the physiological similarities between dogs and humans make it very likely that joint laxity could similarly signal the likelihood of arthritis in people, whose laxity could be remedied in humans with medications. There is currently no such risk factor used to predict the onset of arthritis among humans.

In dogs, several larger breeds are most prone to arthritis: golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, Newfoundlands and St. Bernards. Conversely, certain breeds that have long been bred for speed or athletic prowess, such as performance borzois and racing greyhounds, almost never develop arthritis.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

"This research gives dog breeders an additional tool they may use in their efforts to decrease the incidence of hip dysplasia," said Mary B. Mahaffey of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, who was not involved in the work. "The authors give good recommendations for breeders striving to decrease the incidence of hip dysplasia in their kennels, and should allow breeders to make reasonably good progress in reducing the incidence of hip dysplasia."

As in humans, canine arthritis becomes more symptomatic with age. More than half of 2-year-old golden retrievers show radiographic signs of degenerative joint disease, and more than 90 percent of susceptible dogs show signs by old age.

The current study grew out of Smith's development of a now-licensed system called the Penn Hip Improvement Program, or PennHIP. Some 1,400 veterinarians worldwide have been trained to use PennHIP to measure hip laxity among dogs; it's from these clinicians that Smith gathered data on the 15,742 dogs included in the JAVMA paper.


University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program

PennHIP positions dogs differently than traditional radiography of the hip, which images dogs with rear legs extended. With PennHIP, the veterinarian takes one image of a sedated dog's hip in the conventional position. Then, with the hips in a more neutral position, this image is supplemented with two others: one with the femoral head pushed in toward the hip socket and one with it pulled away from the socket. Comparing the latter images lets clinicians determine how many millimeters of play exist between femur and socket.

Source for this article: University of Pennsylvania, Office of University Communications

Cat Carriers

If you have a cat, you ought to have a cat carrier. We've seen people trying to transport their cat in everything from bare hands to pillow cases. Nothing beats a cat carrier when it comes to safety, comfort and convenience—for both you and your cat. Skip those cardboard ones the shelters give you to take your new pet home; they’re not designed for sturdy long-term use. Others to rule out include carriers with no privacy, or ones that don’t clean easily, such as those made of wicker.

Cat Carrier

Your best bet is a carrier made of hard, high-impact molded plastic that has an open-grid door. Most models have the door at one end, but you may find it easier to deal with your pet if instead, you purchase the kind with the door on the top. These make getting your pet in and out of the carrier much easier.

Another reason to own a carrier - A carrier is an essential piece of any disaster kit, making evacuation easier in the event of an emergency and expanding the possibilities for temporary housing for your pet.

AKC Breeds, Varieties And Groups

There are more than 150 breeds eligible for American Kennel Club registration. Every breed is assigned to one of eight groups based on the use for which the individual breeds have been originally developed. New breeds are constantly being considered and added to the AKC's list, increasing the number every year.

A breed is a relatively homogeneous group of animals within a species, developed and maintained by humans. Each breed has been created by humans, using selective breeding techniques in order to highlight desired qualities. The result is an unbelievable diversity of purebred dogs which, when bred to other dogs of the same breed, produces their own kind.

Throughout the ages, humans have bred dogs for hunting, guarding, or herding according to their needs. Admission of a new breed to AKC's Stud Book is determined by the AKC's Board of Directors. One of the most important criteria for admitting a new breed into the AKC's registry is that the breed be well established and documented in the registry organization of the foreign country.

The American Kennel Club

Logo of the American Kennel Club


A variety is a division of a breed for show purposes based on coat type, size or color. Members of different varieties of the same breed may be interbred and the offspring registered with the AKC. Varieties are not indicated on registration certificates. For example, Dachshunds have three different coat types: long-haired, smooth and wire-haired. Although they are all the same breed, the dogs are considered a different variety, putting them in different divisions.


There are eight groups which compete in shows for the top prize. The groups have been selected in order to indicate the type of dogs included in each. As more and more breeds become recognized, the groups increase in size, according to the requirements and the original purpose of the particular breed. Originally, dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Today, their present purpose can be quite different than what were used for in the past. With some exceptions, dogs today are basically companion animals. In order to classify the breeds of dogs, the AKC has chosen the following eight groups:

  • Toy
  • Herding
  • Hound
  • Non-Sporting
  • Sporting
  • Terrier
  • Working
  • Miscellaneous Class

The diminutive size and winsome expression of toy dogs illustrate the main function of this group - to embody sheer delight. Don't let their tiny size fool you. Many toys are tough as nails. If you haven't experienced the barking of an angry Chihuahua, for example, well... just wait. Toy dogs have always been popular with city dwellers and families without much living space. They make ideal apartment dogs and terrific lap warmers on cold nights.

Dogs belonging to the toy group comprise the miniature versions of the dog world. Many of these breeds are quite ancient, attesting to the value people have long placed in dogs for the sake of companionship and adornment. It is difficult to ascribe behavioral characteristics to the entire group because many of these dogs are basically miniaturized versions of dogs from other groups. However, some of the toy breeds are of such ancient origin that they cannot be traced back to their larger ancestors.




Yorkshire Terrier

While some of these dogs may be familiar to you, others may never cross your path. There are still many dog breeds in a particular group that are not commonly kept as house pets. Some less popular breeds are often only found in breeders' homes or in the country of origin doing what they have been bred for in the first place!

The list below includes just a sampling of dogs in the toy group.

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Maltese
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Papillon
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Silky Terrier
  • Toy Fox Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Although we have only covered some of the breeds and characteristics of the dogs in the toy group, the characteristics of a group applies to the seven other groups as well. In future newsletters, we plan to cover the individual characteristics of each particular breed, plus the characteristics they share with other members of their particular group.

VIDEO: Rabies - A Worldwide Threat

It probably seems inconceivable to most North Americans, but more than 55,000 people across the world die every year from rabies. This dreaded killer disease still ravages large areas of Asia and Africa and children are often the unfortunate victims. Overall, someone in the world dies from rabies every 10 minutes! Fortunately, global awareness is increasing due to World Rabies Day. Watch this video to learn about how you can keep your pets safe and help eradicate terrestrial rabies.


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Cat Behavior—Hunting

One aspect of cats' behavior which some owners find difficult to accept is hunting, especially when the cat insist on bringing her prey home. Hunting is a very strong instinct in cats and the techniques can be while watching young kittens at play. As the kittens grow older, the skills are finely honed through further play and by watching the mother and mimicking her when she hunts.

Cat Hunting

Hunting is entirely natural for cats and takes place even when they are well fed at home. They evidently enjoy the hunt, stalking patiently and carefully, moving forward and freezing with single minded concentration until they are close enough to pounce. If the cat returns with her kill and presents it to her owner, the reason is possibly because you should congratulate her on her hunting prowess. There is really no point in trying to punish your cat for hunting as it is a part of her nature that is so deeply rooted that to try and eliminate it may well cause her a lot of confusion. Playing catching games with your cat using toys may help to relieve some of her urge to hunt.

Cat in Tree

One solution is to put a bell on her collar so that the birds and other likely victims can hear her coming. If you do this, make sure that the collar has an elasticated section so that she can escape if it gets caught up on some object. It is important to worm your cat regularly, particularly if she hunts. Consult your veterinary hospital for more advice on de-worming.

Pet Therapy in Hospitals

Everyone knows how beneficial pets can be in our lives. But now, recent scientific evidence has actually proven what pet owners already knew. Heart failure patients who spent 12 minutes with a dog or cat had lower stress hormone levels, lower blood pressure levels, and a general brighter outlook about their recovery. Therapy dogs, and cats, have now started their rounds, under "doctor's orders." Watch this video to learn more.

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Lumps On Your Pet

Lumps are a very common occurrence, especially in aging pets. Approximately 30 percent of all tumors found in dogs and cats occur on the skin. There are a couple of important questions owners should ask themselves when they find lumps on their pets.

  • Has the lump appeared suddenly, or has it been there awhile?
  • Has the lump stayed the same in consistency and appearance or has it changed recently?
  • Does the lump seem to separate from underlying tissue or is it attached?
  • Is there only one lump or are there multiple similar lumps?
  • And finally, are there changes in your pet's behavior such as eating less, losing weight, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy?

Answering these questions may help your veterinarian evaluate the seriousness of the lump's presence.

Often, lumps are benign accumulations of fat known as lipomas. Keep in mind, however, that while all lipomas are lumps, not all lumps are lipomas. Any detected lump should be evaluated for the possibility of a more aggressive malignancy. In general, many benign lumps may grow slowly or not at all and remain unchanged for many months or even years. Most malignant lumps, however, grow rapidly and may infiltrate into the underlying tissue. The best way to figure out if a lump is benign or malignant is to have your pet examined by a veterinarian.

Many skin tumors, benign or malignant, can be cured with surgery. Unfortunately, skin tumors could be just the tip of the iceberg. Diagnostic tests may be needed to determine if the lump on your pet might be a manifestation of a more widespread disease.

Canine Mast Cell Tumor

Canine Mast Cell Tumor

The most common malignant skin cancer in dogs is the mast cell tumor. Mast cells are normal cells in the body that serve as a defense mechanism. When you are bitten by a mosquito, for instance, the mast cells initiate the inflammatory response that causes the production of a red and itchy hive. Mast cells also contribute to asthma and food allergies.

If the normal mast cell undergoes a malignant change, a mast cell tumor may be produced. Canine mast cell tumors may be benign or possess varying degrees of malignancy. Malignancies range from local reoccurrence following surgical removal to aggressive systemic disease, which may ultimately be fatal. Biopsy can help determine the aggressiveness of a mast call tumor.

Although mast cell tumors primarily affect the skin, they have the potential to spread to other areas of the body. Therefore, it is important not only to address the skin tumor, but also to fully evaluate the pet for signs of metastasis. This often includes blood work, thoracic radiographs and abdominal ultrasound. If there is no evidence of tumor metastasis, surgical removal of the mast cell tumor may cure the problem. If complete surgical removal is not possible, radiation therapy or chemotherapy can be considered.

Feline cutaneous (skin) mast cell tumors are generally benign and surgical removal is often curative. Metastasis from a skin mast call tumor is not as common in cats as it is in dogs. Some cats, however, may produce a distinctly different type of mast cell tumor that primarily affects internal organs, such as the spleen, liver and bone marrow. This type of mast cell tumor is called visceral mastocytosis and is much more aggressive than mast cell tumors of the skin.

When you notice a lump or bump on your pet, it is best to have your pet examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Many pets have lumps that remain benign all of their lives, but if a lump is malignant, your pet has a better prognosis if treated early. Skin cancers are quite common and often can be cured. The best way to detect lumps at any stage is to give your pet full body rubs on a regular basis. Not only are you contributing to your pet's health and your own peace of mind, your pet is going to love the attention!

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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VIDEO: New Laser May Beam Away Your Pet's Pain

When you hear the word laser, do you envision the Death Star blowing up planets or maybe Captain Kirk taking out a few Romulan renegades? While lasers do have their destructive side, a new therapy known as Low Level Laser Therapy is finding it's way into veterinary practices. This "cold laser" procedure is 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.

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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.