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

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Dental care is vital to your pet's health. If you've already established a dental care program for your pet, you're off to a great start. But if your pet hasn't received a dental exam from your veterinarian, it's time to get started. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, the perfect time to schedule a dental exam for your pet and develop a home dental care regimen for your best friend.

Why is dental care so important for your pet? Periodontal disease is the number one diagnosed problem in pets. By the age of two, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have periodontal disease in one form or another. The buildup of plaque and tartar on your pet's teeth leads to bacterial infections that can enter the bloodstream and infect other parts of your pet's body. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, osteoporosis and other problems.

The good news is that periodontal disease is easily prevented. Regular dental cleanings and a home dental care regimen can eliminate the plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease and oral infections. During a dental cleaning, your veterinarian also performs a complete oral examination of your pet. This includes screening for oral cancer, broken teeth and cavities. Spotting these problems early makes them easier to treat and improves your pet's overall oral health.

Your pet's dental cleaning is more involved than the same process you go through at your dentist's office. Anesthesia is required to keep your pet still and comfortable during the procedure. Because of this, your pet undergoes a thorough physical examination before each dental cleaning. Laboratory blood tests, as well as other diagnostic procedures are also used to screen for potential problems and risks before anesthesia is administered. Using these results, your veterinarian develops a safe anesthetic protocol specifically for your pet.

A Cat's Teeth Before and After a Dental Cleaning

During a dental cleaning, tartar is removed from your pet's teeth with a hand scaler. Next, a periodontal probe is used to check for pockets under the gumline - where periodontal disease and bad breath start. An ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above the gumline and a curette is used to clean the teeth under the gumline and in the crevices. Finally, the teeth are polished and an anti-bacterial solution is applied to help delay future tartar build-up.

Dental care doesn't end in your veterinarian's office. Brushing your pet's teeth at home is an added level of protection against gum disease. In order to be most effective, brushing must be done at least three times a week; however, daily brushing is ideal. Brushing your pet's teeth can be supplemented with antiseptic rinses. Some pet foods and treats are also effective in preventing plaque and tartar buildup. However, there is no substitute for regular brushing and professional dental cleanings.

Call your veterinary hospital to schedule a dental examination and cleaning for your pet today. Your best friend will thank you!

Adopting A Pet

You see a cute tiger-striped kitten with white paws and green eyes, just begging for your attention. Or maybe it's a handsome, tail-wagging Labrador mix who couldn't be more friendly and has those irresistible puppy eyes.

If you're like most of us, falling in love with a pet is easy. And no wonder! Sharing your home with a four-legged friend can be one of life's greatest joys. Dogs, cats and other pets give us unconditional loyalty and acceptance, provide constant companionship, and even help relieve stress after a hard day's work.

Adopting a pet, however, is a big decision. Dogs and cats are living beings who require lots of time, money and commitment - over 15 years' worth in many cases. Pet ownership can be rewarding, but only if you think through your decision before you adopt a companion.

Things to Consider

The fact that you're thinking about adopting a pet from an animal shelter, rescue league or humane society means you're a responsible and caring person. But before you make that final decision to bring a furry friend into your life, take a moment to think about these questions:

Why do you want a pet?

It's amazing how many people fail to ask themselves this simple question before they get a pet. Adopting a pet just because the kids have been asking for a puppy usually ends up being a big mistake. Don't forget that pets may be with you even after your children leave home.

Do you have time for a pet?

Dogs, cats and other animal companions cannot be ignored just because you're tired or busy. They require food, water, exercise, care and companionship every day of every year. Many animals have been given up because their owners didn't realize how much time it took to properly care for them.

Can you afford a pet?

The monetary costs of pet ownership can be quite high. Licenses, training classes, veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, kitty litter and other expenses add up quickly.

Are you prepared to deal with special problems that only a pet can cause?

Fleas, scratched-up furniture and accidents from animals who aren't yet housetrained are just a few of the inconveniences that you will face.

Can you have a pet where you live?

Many rental communities don't allow pets, others have restrictions. Make the necessary inquiries before you bring a pet home.

Is it a good time for you to adopt a pet?

If you're a student, in the military, or travel frequently as part of your work, waiting until you settle down may be the wiser choice.

Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you have in mind?

Adopting an energetic dog or a breed that is unsuitable to share your small apartment (a Border collie for example), is not a good idea. Choose an animal who will be comfortable in your surroundings.

Who will care for your pet if you go on vacation?

You'll need either reliable friends and neighbors, or money to pay for a boarding kennel or pet-sitting service.

Will you be a responsible pet owner?

Having your pet spayed or neutered, obeying community leash and licensing laws and keeping identification tags on your pets are all part of being a responsible pet owner. Of course, giving your pet love, companionship, exercise, a healthy diet and regular veterinary care are other essentials.

Are you prepared to keep and care for the pet for his or her entire lifetime?

When you adopt a pet, you are making a commitment to care for the animal for his or her lifetime.

Get an Animal for Life

Sure, it's a long list of questions. But a quick stroll through the animal shelter will help you understand why answering them before you adopt a pet is so important.

Please, think before you adopt. Sharing your life with a companion animal can bring incredible rewards, but only if you're willing to make the necessary commitments of time, money, responsibility and love for the life of the pet.

Much of the information for this article was contributed by the Humane Society of the U.S.

Puppies: From Birth To 9 Months Old

This is one of the most exciting times for you as a proud new puppy owner. Now that you've chosen your puppy and brought him or her home, you're starting one of the most satisfying relationships in your life.

Your New Puppy - From birth to 3 months

He's round, he's soft and very cute, but don't let looks deceive you. Inside a very young puppy - from birth to 12 weeks - there are already important social developments taking place. According to top breeders, there are two distinct stages for a puppy: socialization with dogs and socialization with humans.

Stage One

The first phase, from roughly 4-6 weeks of age, is when interaction between your puppy and other dogs is of greatest importance. During this time, puppies learn how to socialize with dogs, as well as learn not to soil where they play, sleep or eat. Your puppy will also be weaned and moved from mothers milk to a quality brand puppy food.

Stage Two

From 5-12 weeks, your puppy begins to socialize with humans, so he should be handled by different people everyday and groomed weekly to become familiar with human touch. House and basic "manners" training can also begin during this period. Your puppy may also experience "fear/avoidance" behaviors between 8 and 10 weeks. Even happy puppies may temporarily react to you with caution or alarm and react strongly to stressful situations, so don't let your puppy's fear scare you.

Your puppy's fear is a natural part of socialization and lasts for several weeks. By treating your puppy with patience and protecting him from stressful experiences, your puppy will emerge from the fear state to a trusting relationship with you.

Puppy Adolescence - 3 to 6 months old

Puppies grow up fast. In fact, from the time you adopt your puppy to the time he is 6 months old, your puppy will complete 75 percent of his growth. As you can imagine, this is a critical time in puppy development and by knowing what to expect, you can relax and be certain that your puppy is growing up on schedule.

Puppies From 3-6 Months.

What to Expect

  • Many puppies become more independent and occasionally ignore their owner's calls during this period. It's wise to continue your established training routine; this will help your puppy grow through this phase.
  • Your puppy will get all new teeth and chewing will begin. Use appropriate chew toys in order to keep your property and puppy safe.
  • Establish yourself as the puppy's leader, mirroring wolf-pack behavior. Dogs are pack animals and need to know who's in charge. If you don't lead, they will.

Training the "Teenage" Puppy

6 to 9 months old

A puppy's "teenage years" - the time between 6 and 9 months - can be quite a challenge to a dog owner, but with consistent and thoughtful training, you can build on your puppy's early experience to turn your young dog into a great companion.

Although your puppy will not physically grow as quickly as he did between 3 and 6 months, important developments are taking place. During this time, your puppy will probably achieve sexual maturity and breeding or pregnancy will be possible. If you don't plan to breed your puppy, have him neutered or her spayed as close to the 6 month mark as possible. Pet overpopulation is a major problem in the U.S., with only one in four dogs having a proper home.

By the age of 6 months, it's best if your puppy is able to "sit" and "stay" on command and "come" when called. If you're not there yet, it's important to instill these good manners immediately.

Correction and Praise

Reprimanding your adorable puppy is frequently a stumbling block to training for new puppy owners. But, correcting your puppy is the only way to get his attention for training. That's why leash correction is so important. Correctly used, a leash gets your puppy's undivided attention so he can respond to your request. Just pulling on the leash is not enough - it only results in a tug of war.

Proper leash correction includes the following elements, which must work together:

A training (slip) collar of soft braided nylon. It should be snug going over the puppy's head, rest high on his neck and be positioned so the leash clips to the live (moving) ring on the back of your puppy's neck.

A comfortably-held leash, with slack so your puppy has enough room to make a mistake. A taut leash creates constant pressure on your puppy's neck, which will make him resist and is counterproductive to what you're trying to do.

A three-part correction of 1) verbal "no"; 2) leash tug/release; and 3) verbal "no," plus praise. In all of this work, it's important to praise your puppy consistently and appropriately. Giving praise at the right time will reinforce good behavior. Do not confuse your puppy by trying to reason with him or explain things. Your puppy will truly be happiest with clear commands and loving praise.

Puppy Playtime - The Good Stuff

Play is important to your puppy's development - that's why he needs at least 20 minutes of it every day. It develops coordination, stimulates his brain and relaxes him in social situations. Without play, your puppy won't develop into a happy, well-adjusted companion. So, here are several ways to make playtime a rewarding experience:

  • Choose toys that stimulate active, entertaining play, like weighted balls that roll in unpredictable directions and rubber chew toys in various shapes.
  • Rotate your puppy's toys each day so he always has "new" toys.
  • If you have an enclosed outside run or yard, set up old tires or large clay conduit pipes for your puppy to explore and play in.
  • Puppies love clean, used plastic bottles, old tennis balls, cardboard boxes and squeaky toys made for dogs. Squeaky toys help desensitize puppies to unusual noises.
Flying with Your Pet

Flying may not be the ideal way to travel with your pet, but sometimes there are no other options. In fact, over two million pets and other live animals travel by air every year in the United State. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know what the policies are regarding pet air travel as they vary from airline to airline. Furthermore, states in the U.S. and national governments impose different restrictions. Whether you're flying coast-to-coast, cross-Atlantic, or half-way across the world, there will be specific guidelines to follow before you take to the skies.

Here are a few standard regulations that are helpful to know if you’re considering flying with your pet. If you have more questions, contact your airline directly. Most times, the specific policies and procedures are listed on the airline’s website, or you can call the airline’s reservations line and speak with an agent.

Pets in the Passenger Cabin

Policies regarding animals in passenger cabin vary from airline to airline with one exception – service animals. Since service animals are not considered pets and are needed to aid those with disabilities, they are always allowed to stay in the passenger cabin. Service animals do not require health certificates to travel, nor do they need to be in a container or cage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows each airline to enforce its own individual policy regarding pets in the passenger cabin, but the FAA requires:

  • The pet container must be small enough to fit underneath the seat without blocking any person’s path to the main aisle of the airplane.
  • Your pet container must be stored properly before the last passenger entry door is closed so the airplane can leave the gate.
  • The pet container must remain properly stowed the entire time the plane is moving on the tar mac, as well as during take off and landing.

Despite differing procedures, there are a number of general policies you’ll encounter that allow for all passengers to have a comfortable flight. Some of these policies may include:

  • Restrictions on the different types of animals allowed aboard
  • A limit on the number of pets allowed in the cabin
  • A requirement that your pet is harmless to fellow passengers, including inoffensive and odorless
  • A requirement that you be able to produce a recent health certificate for your pet

Tips for Safe Air Travel with Your Pet

As a pet owner, you are responsible for the welfare of your animal while traveling. In addition to federal regulations and airline policies, here are a few things you can do to help make traveling with your pet easier and safer:

  • Before traveling, it’s best to help your pet get accustomed to its kennel. Also make sure that the door latches securely.
  • Don’t feed your pet solid food at least six hours before the flight. A moderate amount of water and a walk before and after a flight are strongly advised.
  • Ask your veterinarian if it would be best for your pet to be tranquilized for the trip. It’s also a good idea to try a test dose before travelling to gauge how your pet will react.
  • Health certificates must be issued 10 days before travel. Rabies and vaccinations certificates are also required.
  • Reserve a space for your pet in advance with the airline. Also ask about the time and location for drop-off and pick-up for your pet. Because of restrictions on the number of animals permitted, reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Ideally, try to book a non-stop flight. This will help reduce stress and worry for you and your pet. If possible, avoid connections or traveling during the weekend or holidays.
  • For overseas travel, ask about any health requirements including policies pertaining to quarantine.
  • Be sure to write your name, address and phone number on your pet's carrier, and make sure your pet is wearing a tag with the same information. A temporary tag that shows your destination address and phone number is also a good idea, as is bringing a picture of your pet in case it becomes lost.
How to Pill Your Cat

So, the veterinarian has sent you and your cat home with a bottle of pills and some instructions. Don't worry - giving pills to your cat is not as difficult as it may appear. It's just a matter of know-how and plenty of praise.

One thing to remember though, giving a pill to a cat is not quite the same as giving a pill to a dog.

  1. Have someone hold your cat's front legs and chest from behind so you're free to do the rest, or vice versa. If you have trouble, wrap a blanket or towel around your cat.

  2. Put your hand on top of the cat's head, avoiding the lower jaw. Raise the head until your cat's nose points to the ceiling. As the mouth opens, use your other hand to hold the pill and press down on the lower jaw, pushing the pill as far back on the tongue as possible.