Newsletter

Newsletter The veterinarians and staff at Veterinary Center of East Northport 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

Winter Tips To Keep Your Pet Safe

It’s official: winter and all of its trappings have arrived. That means snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures.

Just because your pet is covered in fur doesn't mean they’re comfortable in the cold. In fact, prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures can be just as deadly for pets as it can be for humans. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help keep your pets warm and toasty this winter.


Cat in the Snow


  • Just like a hot car in the summer, a cold car in the winter can be deadly. Never leave your pet alone in a cold car.
  • Save a warm spot off the floor and away from drafts for your pet to sleep at night. For kittens and older cats, try a heated pad or bed.
  • Be sure to keep a close eye on small, short-haired, very young, or very old dogs when they’re out in the cold. When taking them on a walk, keep them warm with a sweater or a doggy coat. Long haired dogs or breeds that tolerate the cold may be better equipped for snow, but they should also still be supervised.
  • Adjust your animal’s food intake based on the amount of exercise he or she is getting in the winter. (You might consider adjusting your own, too.)
  • Matted fur won’t protect your dog or cat from the cold, so keep their coats well groomed. After taking your dog for a walk, wipe down their feet, legs, and stomach area to prevent ingestion of salt or dangerous chemicals. And always use a pet-friendly ice melt product for your own home.
  • Never let dogs off leash on snow or ice.
  • Antifreeze has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but is a deadly poison. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately, or better yet, use pet-safe antifreeze.


Dogs in the Snow


  • Outdoor cats often nap on or around car engines to keep warm. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, honk the horn before starting your car to make sure any cats hiding next to your tires get out safely.
  • If your dog is let out in your yard, make sure snow drifts near your fence haven’t made it easy for your dog to escape.
  • Keep water available for your dog while he’s outside. Use a tip-resistant, ceramic or hard plastic water bowl rather than a metal one so your dog doesn’t accidentally recreate the flagpole scene from A Christmas Story.
Litter Box Behavior

Cats can be very communicative. Unfortunately for us, they generally do not communicate verbally, and certainly not in a language that we understand! So when a cat stops using the litter box, that is his way of letting us know that something is wrong. In order to determine if it's a medical problem or psychological problem, there are a few things you need to know.

When your cat stops using the litter box, have your veterinarian examine your cat to rule out any medical problems such as a urinary tract problem. If you notice your cat straining to urinate or defecate, he or she should be taken to the veterinarian immediately, as it could indicate a serious health issue. Once your cat's health has been cleared, it's time to look to other causes of litter box avoidance.

It is important to make sure your cat's litter box is in a location that allows for some privacy. Cats, like dogs, use association as a way to dictate behavior. If your cat has a bad experience while using the litter box, it can lead to unwanted behavior and inappropriate eliminating. For example, if your cat has been frightened by the noise of a barking dog or a large household appliance while in the litter box, he may find other places that are quieter or more private to relieve himself. Trapping your cat in the litter box in order to administer medication could also result in the same unwanted behavior. To guard against this, try to find a relatively private location for your cat's litter box and allow your cat the same privacy you would like when using the bathroom.



Another reason for your cat avoiding the litter box may be the due to the number of cats in the household. Adult cats generally like to define their territory. Depending on the number of cats and the amount of space they have, territories can often overlap. This can cause territorial anxiety which may lead your cat to spray urine in order to mark his or her territory. Keep in mind, however, that the litter box can become part of a cat's territory, making it extremely important to have enough litter boxes for all the cats in the home. Cats in multiple cat households generally use more than one box, so having multiple boxes increases the likelihood that your cat is going to find a satisfactory one. A good general rule is to have one more litter box than the number of cats. For example, if you have three cats, you should have four litter boxes, if you have 5 cats, you should have six litter boxes, etc. If for space reasons you need to limit the number of boxes, have as many as you can and be sure to clean regularly, if not daily.

If you only have one cat and the litter box is in a quiet, private location, the solution could be as simple as changing the type of litter. Believe it or not, cats can be quite choosy about the litter they like. If you find a litter your kitty likes, DO NOT change it unless directed by your veterinarian for medical purposes. The litter box should be scooped daily and the entire box of litter should be changed once a week. When you change the litter, you should also wash the box with a mild soap and water and allow it to air dry. If a strong disinfectant like bleach is used, the lasting odor could deter your cat from using that box. If your cat is not using the litter box and the box has a cover, removing the cover can sometimes cure the problem. Many cats prefer the open air and find an enclosed box too confining, especially larger cats.

Hopefully these useful tips can help you find a solution to your cat's litter box avoidance problem. If you find that your cat is still not using the litter box after repeated attempts to resolve the problem, it might be reasonable to consult an animal behaviorist. Before doing this, however, it is best to contact your veterinarian for further assistance.

Age of Your Cat

How old is your cat in "people years"? Some suggest a guideline of one "cat year" equal to four "people years," but it really doesn't work out that neatly. You can see the problem from the beginning: A 1-year-old cat is nearly mature, but you can't say the same thing about a human 4-year-old.

A better way to figure it is to count the first year of a cat's life as comparable to the time a human reaches the early stages of adulthood - the age of 15 or so. Like a human adolescent, a year-old cat looks fairly grown up and is capable of becoming a parent, but is lacking in emotional maturity.

The second year takes a cat to the equivalent of full adulthood in humans—a 2-year-old cat is roughly equivalent to a person in the mid-20s. After that, the "one equals four" rule works pretty well. A 6-year-old cat is nicely middle-aged, as is a person in the early 40s.

Confused? Remember what's most important when it comes to keeping those years adding up: working to prevent accidents by keeping your pets contained, as well as ensuring good health through proper nutrition, exercise and preventive veterinary care.

Keeping Your Dog Healthy

You And Your Veterinarian Working Together To Keep Your Dog Healthy

Maintaining your dog in top physical shape and optimum health is the goal of every responsible dog owner. It is also your veterinarian's goal, and together, you can ensure that your pet stays healthy for years to come. Crucial to maintaining your dog's good health is the routine physical examination that your veterinarian performs on your pet.

Keeping your dog in top physical shape and optimum health is the goal of every pet owner.

Why are regular check-ups important?

Check-ups are important because they provide an opportunity to prevent diseases or even avoid them altogether. Unfortunately, many pet owners tend to underestimate the value of these visits because their pets appear to be healthy. However, this may be deceiving, since many diseases are often not evident in the early stages.

Heartworm

Similarly, heartworm disease is a serious threat that causes cardiovascular weakness and lung incapacity. Caused by Dirofilaria immitis, these worms plug up blood vessels, which places an increased workload on the heart, along with restricted blood flow to the lungs, kidneys, and liver. This can eventually lead to multiple organ failure, including heart failure and death. Visible signs of the disease often do not appear before the infection has caused significant and irreversible internal damage. As part of an annual physical examination, your veterinarian can perform a simple test to detect heartworm disease and prescribe an easy-to-use preventive.

Obesity

Your veterinarian can also determine whether or not your dog has an obesity problem. Obesity affects almost one out of every three pets, making it the most common nutritional disease among dogs and cats. Through visual assessment and palpation, your veterinarian can advise on whether or not your dog could benefit from a weight-reduction program.

Obesity affects almost one out of every three pets.

Questions and Answers

The check-up also provides pet owners with the opportunity to have their questions answered regarding health, nutrition, training and hygiene.

Obedience training is important for your pet's health because behavioral problems account for more deaths in dogs than any known disease. In fact, a well-trained and obedient dog is more likely to live to a ripe old age than a poorly trained one. Obedience-trained dogs are less likely to be involved in car accidents and dogfights, tend to be happier, and are less likely to have behavioral problems. The checkup provides an opportunity to discuss training techniques and behavior concerns with your veterinarian.

Feeding a proper diet rates as one of the most important considerations in health maintenance. Its importance lies not only in optimizing a pet's health, but also in the prevention and management of many diseases. Nutritional counseling is an essential part of the veterinarian's checkup and many owners use the opportunity to gain valuable advice on what to feed their pets.

What happens during an examination?

Before the physical examination begins, your veterinarian asks you questions concerning your dog's state of health. This is very important for determining whether or not there are problem areas that need to be addressed. For example, a "history" of poor weight gain or weight loss can provide a clue to your veterinarian that there may be a parasite problem. Intestinal parasites (worms and protozoans) are a common problem in pets because they carry with them the potential to kill your pet. This is particularly true in young puppies, but also holds true for adult animals. With a simple stool test, your veterinarian is able to detect the presence of these parasites.

After obtaining a history, your veterinarian performs a physical examination on your dog. Starting at the head, your veterinarian examines the eyes, ears, face, and mouth. Examining the teeth is especially important since up to 85 percent of all dogs and cats over four years of age have some degree of periodontal disease! Early detection of periodontal disease is important, not only for effective treatment but also future prevention.

Vaccinations are an important part of your dog's health regimen.

Disease detection

During the physical examination, your veterinarian listens to the chest with a stethoscope to make sure there are no respiratory or cardiovascular problems. For example, the early warning signs of heart failure can be detected in this way. Since more than 12 percent of the dog population experiences some form of heart problem in their lifetime that leads to heart failure, early detection is crucial.

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 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.

A Pet's Teeth Before and After a Dental Cleaning

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 on 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, we develop 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 the hospital to schedule a dental examination and cleaning for your pet today. Your best friend will thank you!

Decoding Dog DNA May Help Cure Heart Disease
DNA studies of boxers may help cure disease

Researchers have long thought that the mapping of human genes and chromosomes holds the key to curing diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. This research is taking a surprising and sudden leap forward thanks to recent DNA studies of man’s best friend--specifically, the Boxer. It seems that dogs are teaching us some new tricks.

With human populations, there is great variance in genetic material from one individual to another. Mapping of human genes has been a painstaking and difficult process partly because of these great variations. Dogs, however, are surprisingly similar within certain breeds. For example, all yellow labs look very much alike, with few differences in facial structure, fur color or eye color. This fact makes the mapping of genes less complex in dog breeds.

A team of researchers at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., completed the genetic mapping of one breed, the Boxer, in 2005. By looking at the limited areas of genetic variation in Boxers, researchers have been able to isolate the areas of the chromosome where certain defects reside. For example, this chromosome is responsible for diabetes, this one for obesity.

The Boxer held great promise in this research for advances in human medicine, not only because its genome was mapped first. These popular pets are known for being high-spirited, playful, energetic and strong. But one vulnerability caught the attention of researchers: Boxers are susceptible to a fatal heart disease called cardiomyopathy. This is one of the many diseases shared by humans.

Researchers started looking at the chromosomes of one group of Boxers who had developed cardiomyopathy and comparing them to the chromosomes of a healthy group. When comparing each chromosome of a sick Boxer with the corresponding chromosome of a healthy Boxer, researchers found that most points of comparison were identical. They worked steadily down the genetic map from Chromosome 1. When they came to Chromosome 17, however, they suddenly found a huge number of variations in the Boxers with cardiomyopathy. Using this information, researchers have isolated the genetic mutation responsible for this disease.

Now, with the mutation's identity and location known, the research team hopes to locate the corresponding gene in humans. This means that one day, there will likely be a way of genetically curing this fatal disease. Because of the relative simplicity of the Boxer’s DNA, scientists were able to bypass a huge body of painstaking research on the human genome. Without dogs, this process could have taken decades. It’s one more reason to call them man’s best friend.



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VIDEO: Modern Veterinary Anesthesia

Do you worry whenever your pet might need surgery? Of course you do...the Internet is full of all sorts of information about the dangers your beloved animal might face when under anesthesia. But, how true is that? Are pets dying every day while undergoing routine spays, neuters and other procedures? Watch this video to see the real story and understand how veterinarians and animal hospitals are working hard to make sure that your four legged friend's surgery goes smoothly and safely!

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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.”