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

VIDEO: Controlling Ticks

Most people would be happy to live out their lives never having to see a tick. These eight legged parasites invoke almost as strong of a negative reaction as spiders do. However, dog owners especially need to be aware of the potential for their pet to acquire ticks and the possibility of their dog contracting a serious tick-borne disease. As vectors of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, and Lyme Disease, ticks can be found in every state and have even been known to survive longer than a year. Due to the small size, many ticks will go unnoticed by pet owners. Fortunately, veterinary science has several options available to protect our pets. Watch this video to learn more.

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Keeping Your Dog from Jumping on Guests

Since dogs generally greet each other through nose-to-nose contact, there is no reason why they shouldn't do the same thing with people. There are various techniques you can try so your dog won't jump up on unsuspecting guests. One thing is certain: never pet your dog when he / she jumps on someone. Petting him is a sign of approval and you are sending him a mixed message. Below are three techniques that seem to work very well.

As soon as the dog jumps up, stand tall, look straight ahead, pull your hands up by your chest, say "sit," and wait for the dog to sit. When the dog does sit, immediately look at the dog, kneel down, and calmly stroke the dog. If the dog jumps up again, stand up and repeat the steps.

The second technique involves standing tall, looking straight ahead, pulling your hands up by your chest, and saying "off". When the dog jumps on you, turn your body toward the wall so the dog can't reach your face. Another option is to step back outside the door and close the door in the dog's face (you need to leave it open a crack). Say "sit." When the dog sits, turn to face the dog, kneel down, and calmly stroke the dog. If the dog jumps up again, stand up, turn, and repeat the steps.

The third technique is a follows. Stand tall, look straight ahead, pull your hands up by your chest, say "off," and continue walking into the dog. The dog will jump back to get out of your way. When all feet are on the floor, say "sit" and wait. When the dog sits, kneel down and calmly stroke the dog. If the dog jumps up again, stand up, walk toward him, and repeat the steps.

You should never allow your dog to jump up on people. This can be dangerous, especially if you have a large dog and children are in the vicinity. A puppy eventually grows into a full size dog. Labrador and golden retriever puppies sometimes weigh more than 100 lbs. when they reach full adult size.

Pregnancy and Healthy Puppies

The starting point for a healthy litter of puppies is a healthy, active bitch. It is important to have vaccination and de-worming programs updated before the bitch is mated. Heartworm prevention should be continued throughout her pregnancy.

Dinner time!

About a month after the breeding, a veterinarian can conduct a pregnancy exam. False pregnancy, a physiological condition in which the bitch displays all the signs of pregnancy, except having puppies in her uterus, can fool owners and lead to undue anxiety.

Nutritionally, everything a bitch needs for the duration of pregnancy is in a good quality, balanced, commercial (not generic) dog food. Large doses of supplemental minerals or vitamins may only unbalance a balanced diet.

During the first six weeks of the pregnancy, it is recommended to feed the usual pre-pregnancy maintenance diet. The mother's caloric requirements don't increase dramatically until the last three weeks of pregnancy. During this time, the pups grow significantly in size and the nutritional requirements increase proportionately. This increase in food continues during the first three weeks after delivery, when she is producing the most milk. You should gradually increase her daily food over this six-week period from the maintenance quantity to three times that amount.

Set up a whelping area early so that the mother has time to become comfortable. A whelping box should be big enough for the bitch to stretch out and turn around, bedded with sheets or towels that can be easily cleaned, and located in a quiet, secluded, draft-free area.

The bitch's rectal temperature indicates when she is about to whelp. A dog's normal temperature is 101 or 102. In late pregnancy, it runs below normal, around 100. Within 24 hours before delivery, it drops to 97 or 98. Toward the end of the pregnancy, the dog's abdomen balloons out, her mammary glands enlarge and may drip milk, and she displays nesting behavior. However, the only sure sign of impending labor is the drop in rectal temperature. It is recommended to take the bitch's temperature twice a day (always at the same time each day) so as not to miss it.

Labor begins with contractions of the abdominal muscles and uterus. The amniotic sac protrudes, followed by a pup and placental membranes. Puppies are generally born in pairs, maybe 15 minutes apart, followed by a rest period that lasts up to an hour or, in large litters, even longer. The mother may take a break and walk around during this rest time.

Each pup is delivered enclosed in an amniotic sac that the mother breaks open. The mother then chews the umbilical cord and cleans the pup. The placenta is delivered with or right after each puppy. The bitch often eats the placenta, but it is not necessary for her to do so and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The mother also licks the pups' bottom in order to stimulate urination and defecation. If the bitch does not do these things, you should get the pup out of the amniotic sac (so it can breath), tie off (one inch from the body) and cut the umbilical cord, dry the pup, disinfect the navel, and let the pup nurse. Use a warm wet hand towel to lightly stroke the pup's anal and genital areas in order to stimulate urination and defecation.

Any of the following conditions call for veterinary assistance in delivery:

  • The rectal temperature drops and labor does not begin within 24 hours
  • The temperature does not drop within a week after the due date
  • Labor contractions continue for more than 30 minutes without producing a pup
  • All the pups are not delivered within 24 to 36 hours of labor
  • There is not a placenta delivered with each puppy.

Healthy puppies nurse right away and then every few hours. The pups must nurse from their mother within 12 hours of birth to receive colostrum (antibodies against disease). After 12 hours, their stomachs do not absorb antibodies. After this first 12 hours, if the mother does not have enough milk, or if her litter is too large, the pups' diet can be supplemented with commercial puppy milk replacement. Cow's milk is nutritionally inadequate for puppies.

Supplemental heat should only be used for orphan puppies if the room's temperature is too cold for the mother's comfort. A newborn pup can't generate body heat until it develops the shiver reflex; this occurs at about two and half weeks of age. Orphan pups need an environmental temperature of about 97 degrees the first week, in the mid 80s the second week, then in the 70s. If the mother is there to keep the pups warm, high temperatures are unnecessary and make her uncomfortable.

Good health can be monitored by weighing the pups every day. A healthy pup's weight increases daily. A sick pup does not gain weight but can lose weight. Weight loss is generally the first sign of illness. Good health can be maintained by disinfecting the pups' navels with half-strength tincture of iodine a couple times a day until it dries up and falls off. The most common cause of puppy death is infection via the belly button.

Within a day of delivery, the bitch should be taken to the veterinarian for an examination. The examination is to make sure that there are no remaining puppies and to make sure that all placental remnants are expelled from the uterus. Normal vaginal discharge can last for two to three weeks.

Good planning is the key to having healthy puppies. Most bitches whelp without a problem. However, when a problem occurs, time is very critical. Plan in advance with your veterinarian and discuss emergency and after-hours procedures.

Feline Mammary Tumors

Mammary tumors are among the most common tumors in the cat. The average age of diagnosis is 10-12 years though it can be seen in cats of any age. Most affected cats are intact females, however, the disease is occasionally seen in spayed females and, rarely, in male cats. Almost 90 percent of feline mammary tumors are malignant, meaning they have the potential to spread to other portions of the body. Since malignant tumors tend to metastasize rapidly, containing the spread can be difficult and requires immediate attention.

Senior cats should see a vet regularly as tumor prevention

To date, surgical excision at the earliest possible opportunity is the most effective therapy for any mammary tumor. If the tumor is benign, complete surgical excision is curative. If the tumor is malignant, post-surgical treatment with chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy may be warranted. With conservative surgery, more than half of the cats have a recurrence at the surgical site. The most significant predictive factors affecting recurrence and survival times for cats with malignant mammary tumors are tumor size, extent of surgery, and the grade of the tumor.

Tumor size is the single most important factor. Cats with tumors larger than 3 cm in diameter have an average survival time of four to six months, whereas cats with tumors 2-3 cm in diameter have an average survival time of about two years. Cats with tumors less than 2 cm in diameter have an average survival time of over three years. Thus, since the size of the tumor clearly affects the survival time of the cat, early diagnosis and treatment is vital in cats with mammary tumors.

There are various treatment options for a cat diagnosed with a malignant mammary tumor. However, since size and grade of mammary tumors vary, some treatments may not be an option. Consult your veterinarian to find the best treatment for your cat.

Where, Oh Where, Has Your Little Cat Gone?

Avoiding Your Veterinary Hospital Has Your Cat Paying the Price

From Siamese and Persians to the outdoor barn kitty, we Americans love our cats! With more than 80 million felines being pampered in homes across the country, our feline friends have become the #1 pet in the nation. Since they are so popular, it would be easy to think that our cats are probably given everything that they could want or need. Unfortunately, cats are much less likely to be given proper veterinary care than our dog friends.

A yearly check-up is just as important for your cat as it is for you. Regular exams can help spot medical problems before they become serious. A yearly exam also gives you, and your veterinarian, a clear picture of your cat's overall health. During wellness exams, we discuss with you dental care, nutrition, behavior, diseases and vaccinations. In the long run, regular veterinary checkups and preventive care save you money and allows your kitty to lead a long and healthy life.

Has Your Cat Gone Into Hiding?

Fat Cat

Chewing the fat with your veterinarian is not always easy.  The increase in cat size and its effects is not always easily understood by cat owners.  Oftentimes, the bigger your furry friend is, the healthier you perceive him to be.   Contrarily, if you know your cat is overweight, you may be reluctant to bring her to the veterinarian, too.  Fearing reprimand, criticism, and high veterinary bills, most owners opt to bypass annual visits.  But hiding from the veterinarian can have serious costs to your cat.

Obesity in cats is reaching epidemic proportions in this country. Although many cat owners think it is cute that Fluffy is a little extra puffy, extra weight can contribute to serious health conditions just like it does in humans.  Diseases most often associated with overweight or obese cats include diabetes and neoplasia. Obesity also increases a cat’s risk of heart disease and dermatological problems.

While discussing your cat’s weight may be embarrassing or uncomfortable, don’t let it interfere with providing your cat optimal care.  Controlling his/her weight issue will allow you and your feline friend to enjoy many more years together.

What’s Bugging You?

Just because a cat may live indoors doesn't mean she/he is immune from fleas, ticks, or ear mites.  Fleas can get into your home by themselves or can be carried in by another family pet (dog, outdoor cat).

If you find yourself purchasing more and more over-the-counter flea products but are not consulting with your veterinarian, it is time to schedule an appointment.  And don’t forget about heartworm prevention either!  As there is still no treatment for heartworm disease in cats, prevention is imperative for a long and healthy feline life.

Nine Lives and Counting

True, cats do always seem to land on their feet but that doesn't mean that you should neglect their needs and health issues.  Just because a cat doesn't display outwards signs of ill health or merely because your indoor cat is not exposed to outdoor elements doesn't necessarily mean that she/he is perfectly healthy.  Years of veterinarian avoidance can lead to an insurmountable health issue once discovered.

Like people, cats need yearly wellness exams. Understanding and administering preventive care has never been more important. An ounce of prevention can add years (maybe even nine) to the life of your cherished feline.

Kitten Play and Behavior
Lots of play is essential for young cats

When cats play, they incorporate a variety of behaviors into their play. Aggressive play behavior is particularly common in young cats and in cats that live in one-cat households. Play provides young cats with opportunities to practice skills they would normally need for survival, such as pouncing, stalking, biting, scratching, and clawing. If humans play with a young kitten using their hands and/or feet instead of toys, the kitten is liable to learn that practicing these skills while playing with people is okay. In most cases, it is possible to teach your kitten or young adult cat that rough play is not acceptable behavior.

Since young cats and kittens need a lot of playtime, it is important to set up three or four consistent times during the day to initiate play with your cat. This helps her understand that she is not the one responsible for initiating play. This also helps to avoid unwanted pouncing at inappropriate or inconvenient times.

They may look like they're fighting, but it's really playtime.

One way kittens play is by grabbing each other with both front feet, biting each other and kicking with their back feet. This is also a way kittens try to play with hands and feet if being waved in front of them. It is very important to avoid using any part of your body, like fingers or toes. Redirect your cat's aggressive play behavior onto acceptable objects like toys. It may take some trial and error to find the toy that works best with your kitten so make sure you try a variety.

Often, discouraging unacceptable behavior is the only avenue that is available. You need to set the rules for your kitten's behavior and your family and friends should reinforce these rules. Your kitten can't be expected to learn to differentiate between people in terms of when it's okay for rough play and when it is not.

Nope... not a good kitty!
  • Use aversion techniques to discourage your kitten from nipping or biting. You can either use a squirt bottle filled with water or a can of pressurized air to squirt your kitten when she becomes rough. To use this technique effectively, you always need to have the spray bottle or can handy. Remember that aversion techniques only works if you offer your kitten an acceptable alternative.
  • Redirect the behavior. After you startle your kitten with the air or water, IMMEDIATELY offer her a toy to wrestle with or to chase. This will encourage her to direct her rough play onto a toy instead of a person. It is recommended that you keep a stash of toys hidden in each room specifically for this purpose.
  • Withdraw attention when your kitten starts to play too rough. If the distraction and redirection techniques don't seem to be working, the most drastic thing you can do to discourage your cat from rough play is to withdraw all attention. Since she wants to play with you, she is going to figure out how far she can go; however, you keep this limit consistent. The best way to withdraw your attention is to walk into another room and close the door long enough for her to calm down. If you pick her up to put her in another room, you're rewarding her by touching her. You should be the one to leave the room.

PLEASE NOTE: None of these methods are very effective unless you also give your kitten acceptable outlets for her energy. You need to play with her regularly using appropriate toys.

Never hit the kitten!

Punishing your kitten for rough play by tapping, flicking or hitting are almost always guaranteed to backfire. Your kitten could become afraid of your hands or she could interpret those flicks as playful moves and play more aggressively. Picking up your kitten to put her into a "timeout" could possibly reinforce her behavior because she probably would enjoy the physical contact of being picked up. By the time you get her to the timeout room and close the door, she has probably already forgotten what she did to be put in that situation.

If you find that none of these suggestions work and your kitten's play increases in aggression or becomes unpredictable, it can be best to seek help from a behavior specialist. Kittens can bite or scratch through the skin, and abuse by your cat is not conducive to a caring and mutually beneficial relationship.

VIDEO: Foolproof Pet ID

A microchip is a tiny computer chip which has an identification number programmed into it. The chip is the size of a grain of rice, and it is easily and safely implanted into the skin of an animal with a hypodermic needle. Once the animal is "chipped" he can be identified throughout his life by this unique number. Microchips are read by a scanning device which recognizes a unique identification number. Through registration of the animal with a national database, the owner can be contacted and this is an important step many pet owners forget. The bad news is that this technology is not foolproof. Watch this quick video and learn more about what you can do to make sure your pet is properly identified using a new free service.

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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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Dogs with 'Tudes: Does Obama's Dog Know He's Famous?
Do dogs know they are famous?

President Obama's furry friend Bo is certainly one top dog. But does Bo know just how high he is on the celebrity totem pole? Can he tell that reporters are clamoring over his pictures as the newest addition to the White House family?

Many psychologists and philosophers wonder whether our pets are truly as smart as we often claim them to be. When it comes to celebrity dogs, "they know they’re famous, and they definitely get an attitude," says Cecelia Ruggles, the owner of Stump, the Sussex Spaniel who took home the title of Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club show in 2009. Ruggles also owns a Bichon who won Westminster in 2001, who she claims knows precisely how to make an impressive entrance into press conferences.

"He waves his paws — it's his signature. It's not something we taught him to do, it's just something he does," Ruggles stated. Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, tends to disagree. Instead, Coren believes that dogs only know their relative position in the pack, and how much they can demand and get away with.

Whatever the case may be, Bo is surely becoming one famous dog. Whether he knows it or not is still open for debate.

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.