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

INFOGRAPHIC: Pet Holiday Hazards

The holidays can mean exciting smells, sights, and tastes for your curious pet -- and more ways he or she can get into trouble. Please take a look at the infographic below outlining the most serious dangers. Take the necessary precautions to keep the holidays happy and healthy for everyone in your home!

Click on the graphic below and print it out. Keep it handy during the holiday and give copies to your friends and family.

Holiday Hazards

Rabies Still Poses a Threat

Rabies is a preventable disease that still kills more than 55,000 people worldwide each year. Half of those killed are children under the age of 15.

Children are at risk for rabies

“Rabies is primarily a disease of children, who are particularly at risk from this terrible disease, due to their close contact with dogs, the major global source”, said Dr. Debbie Briggs, Executive Director of the Alliance for Rabies Control. “Children are more likely to suffer multiple bites and scratches to the face and head, both of which carry a higher risk of contracting rabies. Children are often unaware of the danger that dogs transmit rabies and may not tell their parents when a bite, lick, or scratch has occurred from an infected animal.”

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans. The disease is transmitted mainly by bite, but exposure may also occur through contamination of broken skin or mucous membranes with saliva from an infected animal. Once neurological symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans.

According to the CDC, rabies in the U.S. is primarily carried by raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes with most instances of human exposure associated with contact with a bat. In fact, the CDC warns that if you wake up to find a bat in the room or find an infant or disabled person in the same room as a bat, there is a concern an exposure to rabies may have occurred. If possible, the bat can be caught and tested. In any event, it is important to speak to a medical professional such as a doctor or emergency room physician as soon as possible.

Eabies affects dogs and cats

Areas with the highest incidence of infected animals in 2009 were Texas, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Of these infections, wild animals composed 93 percent of all cases with domestic animals representing seven percent.

Of the 510 domestic animals to be infected, cats by far made up the majority of cases (59 percent), dogs were 16 percent, and the remainder is cattle, horses, goats and sheep.

In 2009, there were only four human infections. Three of these were fatal. Further, between 2000 and 2009 there were 31 cases of human infections with only two survivors. In most cases where an exposure occurs, the person is aware they have come into contact with a rabid animal and seeks medical care. However, for these 31 infected people, they were unaware of exposure and did not seek medical attention until symptoms appeared.

Symptoms can remain latent for days or even as much as two months. In humans they include irritability, generalized pain, itching or twitching at the infection site, and fever. During the latter stage of the disease, symptoms include muscle spasms in the throat and respiratory tract affecting breathing and swallowing, hallucinations, convulsions, seizures and paralysis.

In dogs and cats, symptoms are as follows:

  • Early symptoms: Change in tone of dog’s bark, chewing at bite site, fever, loss of appetite, subtle behavior changes.
  • Second stage: craving to eat anything including inedible objects, Constant, growing and barking, Dilated pupils, Disorientation, Erratic behavior, aggression, no fear of natural enemies, seizures, trembling and muscle incoordination.
  • End stage: appears to be choking, drops lower jaw (dogs), inability to swallow leading to drooling, paralysis of jaw, throat and chewing muscles, which spreads to other parts of body causing coma and death.
Pet Therapy - Dog Visitation Rights

Therapy Dog

Pet Therapy: Giving Dogs Hospital Visitation Rights

Hospitals around the country have begun expanding their visitation rights to pets, in what appears to be the next best thing in pet therapy. Hospitals, such as Texas Children’s Hospital, are working with a non-profit organization called PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) to help bring approved pets into the hospital rooms. The dog may be the patient’s own pet, or a pet that is brought in by a trainer volunteer; and the hope is to promote a speedier and more pleasant recovery for the patient.

There are, of course, a series of requirements that must be satisfied before a dog can enter the hospital. For instance, they must have the appropriate vaccinations, as well as the accompanying good behavior, for a white-coat setting. So far, there have not been any problems attributable to the dogs’ visits.

In fact, the various programs have been praised for helping patients with their pain and moods. Donna Dishman, executive director of PAWS Houston, said the first personal pet visit was remarkable, and she saw no reason not to run with the program. The patient was an 83-year-old woman with breast cancer, who was in the intensive care unit. "[She] was not eating, not responding, and had given up," Dishman said. "When we put her dog on her bed, she started talking, and started eating." With feedback like that, there’s no reason not to include Fido in the family visit!

VIDEO: What's Wrong With My Cat's Mouth?

Many cat owners look at the grace, athleticism and beauty of their pets and think that they have the “perfect” animal. Unfortunately, many of these same cats will have a very “imperfect” mouth, due to a serious and very painful condition that causes teeth to resorb, dissolve and even break! Here’s what we know about Tooth Resorption in cats.

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Christmas Season Pet Hazards

Holiday season adornments are attractive to all creatures. The ornaments, foods, gifts, wrappings, ribbons, lights and plants are all curiosities for pets. Pets investigate new items by sniffing, tossing, chasing, and finally by tasting. A few precautions are necessary to avoid the holiday crowds at the veterinary hospital.

Holiday Tree

The most common problems this time of year are stomach or intestinal disturbances caused by pets eating the holiday feast or other novelties. Scraps from the table can cause gastrointestinal upset and even predispose pets to life-threatening pancreatitis. Bones can get stuck in the mouth or perforate the intestines and should be avoided. Chocolate is poisonous to cats, dogs, and birds. Plastic wrap and aluminum foil (coated with good-tasting juices) are enticing but can cause intestinal damage (and even blockage) if eaten by the pet.

Other sweet treats, like gum and hard candies, can also make your pet ill. Sugar-free candies and gum are made with xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause a drop in blood sugar, depression, loss of coordination and seizures in your pet. Xylitol is also linked to liver failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all candies, chocolate and other sweets out of your pet's reach. If you believe your pet may have ingested chocolate or candy, call your veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate and other sweets can make pets sick

Chocolate with Wrappers

Be sure to properly dispose of leftovers and wrappers. Feed pets their usual diet. Treats formulated similarly to the pet's regular diet are generally healthy and safe. Also keep in mind (while cooking) that pets may not know about hot stoves or to stay out from underfoot. Keep pets away from the stove so they don't get burned or get hot foods spilled on them.

Several decorative plants are poisonous. Mistletoe and holly can cause stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhea. The berries of these plants are attractive, easily swallowed, and potentially fatal if consumed. Poinsettias, like the leaves of most any plant, can also cause stomach upset. Use artificial mistletoe and holly; keep other plants out of your pet's reach.

Mistletoe Holly

Mistletoe and Holly

Make sure Christmas trees are secured so that pets cannot pull them over. Omit preservatives from the tree-stand water and cover the water so pets don't drink it. Don't spray snow on the tree unless it is labeled for pet consumption. Angel hair is spun glass and is irritating to both the inside and outside of your pet. Even glass ornaments and ornament hooks have been chewed and swallowed. These objects can cause problems from stomach upset to damaged intestines. Low-hanging ornaments are a real temptation, as are tinsel and electric lights. Decorative lights and electrical wiring can cause shock or burns when chewed, soremember to unplug holiday lights when pets are unattended.

Holidays have lots of activity going on. Be sure doors are not left open as guests come and go. Indoor pets inadvertently left outside could be injured by frostbite, cars, or other animals. Ice-melting chemicals and salt on sidewalks and roads can severely burn foot pads and should be washed off right away. Also, watch that guests don't leave interesting objects, such as chocolate, ribbons, stocking stuffers, or other illicit treats, within your pet's reach.

Holidays can also be as stressful for your pet as they are for you. Large gatherings of unfamiliar people may cause your dog or cat unnecessary stress and worry. If your pet does not interact well with strangers, keeping him or her in a separate room during the festivities may help keep your pet relaxed and worry-free.

Don't leave food items under the tree with an unsupervised pet; the wrapping, ribbon and enclosed gift are probably not compatible with your pet's digestive system. Ask Santa to put gifts out of your pet's reach so your pet won't beat you to them on Christmas morning.

When choosing a gift for your pet, consider the pet as an individual. Cats enjoy lightweight toys they can bat around, catnip toys, scratching posts, and kitty perches. Dogs like balls, chew toys, and things they can carry around. However, beware of toys with parts, such as bells, buttons, string, yarn, or squeaky parts, that can be detached and swallowed. Watch how your pet handles a new toy until you are sure it is safe. Some dogs treat a stuffed toy like a friend and carry it around and sleep with it. Others will tear them up and eat the stuffing and get into trouble. Also, if there is more than one pet in the household, consider all the pets before buying for any one of them. A one-inch diameter toy for a cat is fine, but a puppy in the household may swallow it and possibly require surgery to remove it.


If your pet does get sick, consult your veterinarian before giving any medications. Many of the over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen - Tylenol(r) and Excedrin(r) and ibuprofin - Advil(r), Motrin(r), are toxic for animals even though they are safe for us. Don't wait to see if your pet gets better. If your pet is acting sick, consult your veterinarian.

World’s Oldest Penguin Returns To Colorado Zoo After Successful Radiation Therapy

A 40-year old African penguin is returning home a southern Colorado zoo after undergoing treatment for skin cancer. Tess, who resides at the Pueblo Zoo, is the oldest penguin of her kind, according to officials at the zoo. She was treated for sarcoma at the Colorado State University veterinary hospital in early December. After two weeks of isolation, she was welcomed home to the zoo, where she was reunited with her mate, Mongo, and the rest of her friends in the habitat.

African penguins rarely live past 20 years, and experts at the Pueblo Zoo say that the breed has declined 90 percent in the last 100 years. “Some people would ask, ‘why are you putting all of these resources into an individual animal?’ But, if this individual animal can tell a story that helps globally with the African penguin, then it’s all worth it,” said Dr. Matthew Johnston, a veterinarian at Colorado State University. “If we can make people aware of these endangered species, with awareness comes action, and with action comes change. And, ultimately, we help.”

Do Dogs Mourn the Death of Another Pet?

When a dog dies, owners will often notice some changes in the pets that are left behind. They may become aloof or lethargic. Some may stop eating or become clingy. Based on these outward signs, it appears that dogs grieve when their canine companion dies.

Because our pets cannot speak, we don't really know what is going through their minds. We must base our interpretations of their emotional state on their behavior—what they do in certain situations and under specific circumstances.

Some animals can become depressed when they lose a loved one.

When a person experiences the death of a human loved one, we may know how he feels grief based on what he says. Very often, however, it is how he reacts or what he does that tells us he is suffering. He loses focus, becomes listless and disoriented, doesn't eat and becomes disinterested in what is happening around him. The person may cry, go without sleep or sleep more than usual.

An animal that is experiencing the loss of another animal companion may react similarly. Some animals can actually become depressed when they lose a loved one. They show symptoms similar to humans, such as loss of interest in their favorite activities and sleeping more than usual. However, dogs may sometimes distance themselves from the family and sleep more than usual when they are ill, so you should consult with your veterinarian before seeing a behaviorist if your dog exhibits such symptoms.

Your dog may lose her appetite, become disoriented or become more clingy. If the deceased dog was taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized, the grieving dog may sit at the window for days, watching for her return. Animal behaviorists commonly call this emotional state "separation anxiety". On the surface, the pet's behavior is similar to that of a person experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one.

If your dog shows signs of grieving, give him or her more attention and affection

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a "Companion Animal Mourning Project" in 1996. The study found that 36 percent of dogs ate less than usual after the death of another canine companion, while about 11 percent stopped eating completely. About 63 percent of dogs vocalized more than normal or became quieter. Study respondents also indicated that surviving dogs changed the quantity and location of sleep. More than half the surviving pets became more affectionate and clingy with their caregivers. Overall, the study revealed that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes after losing a pet companion.

If your dog shows signs that she is grieving the loss of an animal or human family member, provide her with more attention and affection. Take her mind off the loss by engaging in a favorite activity. If she enjoys human company, invite friends she likes over to spend time with her. Use environmental enrichment techniques like toys to help keep her busy. Hide toys or treats at her favorite spots for her to find during the day.

If your dog is very depressed over the loss, she may not respond to extra activity right away. The old saying "time heals all wounds" has meaning for your dog, too. Time is one thing that may help. Based on the results of the ASPCA study, most dogs returned to normal after about two weeks, but some dogs took up to six months to fully recover.

If your dog is vocalizing more or howling, don't give her treats to distract her This might unintentionally reinforce the howling. Giving attention during any behavior will reinforce it, so be sure you are not reinforcing a behavior you don't like. Give attention at a time when your dog is engaging in behaviors that you do like, such as when she is resting quietly or watching the squirrels. As the pain of the loss begins to subside, so should the vocalizing, if it is related to the grieving process.

You may also want to consult with your veterinarian about drug therapy to help decrease your dog's anxiety.

If you are thinking about adding another dog to your home, wait until you and your surviving dog have adjusted to the loss. Forcing your dog to get to know a newcomer will only add stress to her already anxiety-ridden emotional state. And be patient. Your dog may miss her canine companion as much as you do.

Only Five Northern White Rhinos Remain In The Entire World

The northern white rhinoceros is closer than ever to extinction now that Angalifu, a 44 year old male white rhino at the San Diego Zoo, has passed away from old age. After Angalifu, there are only five northern white rhinos remaining, including Nola, a female also living at the San Diego Zoo, with whom Angalifu was unable to breed.

The other remaining northern white rhinos include Najin and Fatu, two females in Kenya; Sudan, a male also living in Kenya and the last remaining male of the species; and an elderly female in the Czech Republic.

“Angalifu’s death is a tremendous loss to all of us,” said park curator Randy Rieches, “not only because he was well beloved here at the park but also because his death brings this wonderful species one step closer to extinction.”

The San Diego Zoo preserved some of Angalifu’s testicular tissue and sperm in hopes that the species may survive through artificial breeding methods.