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

Summer Tips for Dogs

Helping Rover Beat The Heat!

People usually prepare themselves for the dangers of increased temperatures. But as the dog days of summer approach, our trusted companions also need special attention to insure that they don’t get burned. Like for us, the summer months bring an increased danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for dogs.

Dogs in Pool

People naturally regulate their body temperature by sweating. Dogs mainly cool themselves by panting, or breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. The process of panting directs air over the mucous membranes (moist surface) of the tongue, throat and trachea (windpipe). The air that is flowing over these organs causes evaporation, thus cooling the animal. Another mechanisms that helps remove heat includes dilation of blood vessels in the skin of the face, ears and feet. Dilated blood vessels located on the surface of the body cause the blood to loose heat to the outside air.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Like people, dogs can become overheated. If it rises to 105 or 106 degrees, the dog is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. If the body temperature rises to 107 degrees, the dog has entered the danger zone of heat stroke. With heat stroke, damage to the body can be irreversible. Organs begin to shut down, and veterinary care is immediately needed.

Fortunately, if owners recognize heat exhaustion, they can prevent the dog from entering heat stroke. People can easily recognize when the heat gets to them because they become lightheaded and fail to sweat. For dogs, early signs of heat exhaustion may include failure to salivate and a dry mouth. Heat exhaustion may also include a dog lying down and looking tired, losing its appetite, and becoming unresponsive to owners.

If heat exhaustion progresses into heat stroke, the dog becomes very warm to touch and may have seizures. Internal mechanisms roll into effect that may cause blood clotting and organ damage. If you are near a phone and think that heat stroke is a possibility, call your veterinarian immediately. If a veterinarian is not within reach, or while waiting for a veterinarian, get the dog out of the sun and cool him or her down with cool water baths (cool—not cold). Provide a fan, especially if you wet the dog down, and encourage him or her to drink water.

While these steps may help a dog, the best treatment is prevention. In order to prevent overheating, some owners may shave their dogs or trim their fur excessively. This isn’t always a good idea. The hair coat may appear to be a burden for a dog; however, it can also keep the animal comfortable by trapping cool air next to the skin, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the hot outside air to the body of the dog.

Dogs with long or thick coats that have problems with matted hair are often good candidates for clipping. Matted hair can cause skin irritation and is undesirable. Owners that do not have time to adequately remove mats and debris from their dog’s coat may prefer to have the coat clipped short. After a short clipping, and if the dog is outdoors, owners need to be careful of sunburn. Sunscreen may be applied to the dog’s skin; however, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian to find out which ones are safe.

Here are some other tips for keeping your dog cool this summer:

  • Keep dogs indoors, in air conditioning, on very hot days.
  • Do not leave dogs in a car during the summer. Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a car can quickly rise to above 120 degrees.Make sure outdoor dogs have plenty of shade.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times.
  • On very hot days, exercise dogs early in the morning or late in the evening. If this is not possible, exercise in an air conditioned environment.
  • Provide your dog with a sprinkler or wading pool on very warm days.
  • If you take the dog to a lake, make sure it has plenty of time to drink and get wet. Most dogs can drink lake water without adverse effects.
  • If your dog has a light coat or exposed skin, take precautions against sunburn.
  • Dogs can acclimate to warm temperatures and have no trouble staying outdoors in the heat. However, dogs that are used to cool climates or air conditioning should not be left outside on hot days.
  • Acclimating your dog gradually is the key.

If you have questions about caring for your dog during the summer months, please give us a call today.

VIDEO - Why Do Cats Get Less Medical Care?

Experts believe that cats and people have co-existed for more than 10,000 years. That's a long time to get to know each other pretty well. So, if we have this great relationship, why do we our feline friends get less medical care than our dogs?

What Your Dog’s Gums Can Tell You

Your veterinarian routinely checks your dog’s gums during each physical examination, but what are they communicating? Gum color can be used to gauge your pet’s overall health. Although they can’t always pinpoint the exact health issue troubling your four-legged friend, they can give clues.

A healthy dog generally has wet, pink gums. If you press your finger down on them, you’ll notice the area will turn white and then quickly return to pink as if the spot had never existed. This is known as a capillary refill test and it demonstrates how well your pet’s tissues are being oxygenated. When your pet is ill or in shock, his or her gums will appear a different color. It will also take longer (more than two seconds) for the gums to return to their normal color after pressing your finger onto them.

The following colors can indicate medical concerns that require veterinary attention:

• Blue or Purple (cyanotic) – Your pet isn’t getting enough oxygen. This is an indication of low blood pressure that may be caused by breathing issues such as asthma, choking or pneumonia. It can also indicate hypothermia or heart disease in some cases.

• Pale Pink or Whitish – Although this could simply mean your dog’s feeling a bit chilly, pale pink or whitish gums can also signal hypothermia, shock, internal bleeding, a blood clotting disorder or heart problems. Other possibilities include kidney disease, anemia, poisoning from a heavy metal or rat poison, or cancer.

• Yellow (icteric) – Jaundice gums signal a problem with the liver. They can also be caused by anemia if red blood cells are being destroyed at a high rate.

• Bright Red – This can indicate high blood pressure. Bright red gums could also accompany heat stroke or poisoning from carbon monoxide or other toxins.

• Slightly Red – Vigorously chewing on a bone, toy, or stick can cause slight irritation to the gums and isn’t a major concern. However, if chewing wasn’t involved, slightly red gums could be an indicator of an infection or gingivitis.

• Dry or Sticky – If you notice your pet’s gums are unusually dry or sticky –encourage drinking. This is an indicator of dehydration.

For dogs with black gums, the above still apply – just look at the color of the inner eyelid by gently pulling the eyelid down.

Become familiar with the normal color and condition of your dog’s gums. If a change in color occurs, it most often indicates a problem requiring medical attention.

Cat Aggression Toward People: Part I

Pet owners can't figure out why cats are friendly one minute and aggressive the next. Cat bites are very common and probably occur more frequently than dog bites; however, they are infrequently reported. Aggressive cats can be dangerous, so attempting to resolve a cat aggression problem often requires a specialist who is trained in animal behavior medicine.

There are several types of feline aggression. The list below includes some of the most common forms.

• Redirected Aggression- When a cat is aroused into an aggressive response by a person or an animal, but then redirects this aggression onto another person or animal, this is called redirected aggression For example, if two family cats have a spat, the losing cat may walk up and attack the family child.

• Territorial Aggression- Cats are highly territorial animals and usually only feel the need to defend their territory from other cats. Territorial aggression in cats isn't commonly directed toward people.

• Aggression With Petting- This behavior isn't well understood, even by experienced animal behaviorists. Some cats will suddenly bite while they're being petted or held. For whatever reason, petting, which the cat was previously enjoying, apparently becomes unpleasant. Biting is the cat's signal that she has had enough. Cats vary in how much they'll tolerate being petted or held. Although people often describe their cats as biting "out of the blue" or without warning, cats do generally give several signals before biting.

You should become more aware of your cat's body postures, and cease petting or stop any other kind of interaction before a bite occurs. Signals to be aware of include:

  • The cat becomes restless
  • The tail begins to twitch
  • The cat's ears turn back or flick back and forth
  • The cats head starts moving toward your hand

When any of these signals become apparent, it is time to stop the petting or holding the cat. The best thing to do is put the cat down and stop petting her. Absolutely do not impose any physical punishment on the cat as she (or he) may bite. Physical punishment may make it worse the next time you try to pet her or pick her up.

If you want to try to prolong the amount of time your cat will tolerate petting, use a food reward. When your cat first begins to show an undesirable behavior (or even before), offer her a favorite tidbit of food. As you give her the food, decrease the intensity of your petting. In this way, she'll come to associate petting with something pleasant and may help her to enjoy petting for longer periods of time. Each time you work with your cat, try to pet her a little longer. Be sure to stop petting before she shows any aggression.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Your Cat

All across the world, cats have been making mad dashes out of windows, falling freely through city skylines into uncertain fates. As many as four cats a day fall out of high-rise windows in New York City. While it’s not quite enough to necessitate a Kevlar umbrella, it has caused many to ask why cats are falling out of windows so often. And, when you learn that many of these cats survive falls well over 100 feet, a more important question arises: how do cats survive these falls?

High-Rise Syndrome is the tendency of cats to fall out of high-rise windows, terraces, or fire escapes. You should know that they are not jumping; rather their quick descents are triggered by evolutionary habits of hunting from tall branches. All it takes is one visiting bird perched on a windowsill to send your cat flying down towards the city streets.

Surprisingly, cats have the capacity to fall well over 10 stories and survive. One cat at a New York City veterinary clinic survived a fall from 42 stories! The survival mechanics of cats are relatively simple to comprehend. Once in free-fall, cats turn their heads and move their bodies according to messages received by their eyes and inner-ear canals. With these messages, cats turn their spine and align their rear quarters to balance out their bodies. Before impact, they arch their backs to reduce the force of impact.

This makes sense, as domestic cat’s ancestors evolved to fall from tall trees while hunting. But for a while, veterinary scientists were left with one confounding conclusion: cats that fell from greater heights sustained fewer injuries than cats that fell from roughly the fifth to ninth floors. It wasn’t until recently that an explanation was discovered. Within the first five floors of free-fall, the speed of falling is not quite fast enough to cause maximum damage, although some damage may occur. The real problem heights lie between the fifth and ninth floor, where the speed of falling is still increasing and the cat is still rigid and intense.

The most common occurring injury for cats who incur High-Rise Syndrome is broken bones, more specifically the jaw bone, which is the classic sign (along with broken teeth) that a cat’s chin has slammed the ground upon landing. Other injuries include joint injuries to the legs, ruptured tendons, ligament injuries, and internal injuries to the organs.

There are ways that pet owners can prevent High-Rise syndrome, and if done properly, can make this syndrome 100 percent preventable. Veterinarians recommend installing high and sturdy screens into your high-rise windows. If your current screens are adjustable, you want to make sure they are tightly wedged into the frames. Vets also warn even though child-proof window guards are safe for children, cats can find ways to sneak past them, so don’t rely on them for absolute protection. Finally, if you want your cat to be safe in any city, its best to keep them indoors where they can’t roam freely and find new ledges or ceilings to hunt birds from.

VIDEO - In the Exam Room: Preventive Care Visits

Preventive care visits are an important part of keeping your pet happy and healthy. But what does a veterinarian do during a wellness check-up? Dr. Julia Georgesen takes us into the exam room and shows us what to expect when we take a pet to the veterinarian for a preventive care exam.

Ice Water: Dangerous for Dogs?

Concerned pet owners may have come across a Facebook post warning against giving dogs ice water. The post claims that giving dogs ice water can cause bloat, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), or bloat. It’s often accompanied by a seemingly true story of a well-meaning pet owner trying to keep their dog cool on a hot day only to find they must rush their pet to the emergency vet.

It sounds scary, but it’s absolutely false. Veterinarians across the country have been addressing this myth for years, but the misinformation continues to spread thanks to social media. Frigid gastric ‘cramping’ is a falsehood similar to those that inform you that your hair will grow back coarser if you shave it (myth), or that you shouldn’t go swimming for 30 minutes after eating lest you drown in a fit of cramps (myth).

Bloat can be caused when your dog drinks too much too quickly, but the temperature of the water has nothing to do with this. In fact, putting ice cubes in your dog’s water can sometimes slow your dog’s water consumption, keeping the risk of bloat at bay.

If you have a large dog and are concerned about bloat, we recommend feeding a few small meals per day instead of one large meal and avoid exercising for an hour or so after eating. But if your pup is thirsty on a hot day, there’s nothing dangerous about helping them cool off with ice water.

Bloat or gastric torsion is a disease n which the dog’s stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its axis. Bloat is primarily a disease of large and giant-breed dogs. Deep-chested breeds such as great Danes, German shepherds and standard poodles are most commonly affected.

For additional information about bloat, please give us a call.