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 - 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.

A Safe Home for Your Cat

Since many of us believe that a house is not a home without a cat, we need to ask ourselves if our home is a safe place for them. If you have children, many of the safety measures needed for cats are probably already in place. If not, then it is necessary to look around the house and fix potential hazards.

Even cats that spend most of their time indoors may be exposed to a number of potential hazards. Disinfectants, drain cleaners, and detergents are among the many household chemicals that are toxic to your pet. They should be stored in tightly closed containers and secured cabinets where pets are unable to reach them. Medicines should also be stored out of reach.

Sharp objects such as knives and forks, carpet tacks and pins should be kept out of reach. Children's toys and small objects may attract a playful kitty and become lodged in its mouth or swallowed. Although kittens are sometimes pictured with a ball of yarn, a playful kitten and yarn are a bad combination. If ingested, yarn as well as any kind of thread, twine or ribbon could cause serious damage to the esophagus and intestinal tract.

According to the National Safety Council, as many as 5,000 house fires a year can be attributed to pets as a result of their chewing of electrical cords. In order to prevent this hazard, do your best to keep electrical wiring out of your cat's sight and reach. Exposed lamp cords and other wires should be kept as short as possible. If extension cords are used, tack them against a baseboard or run them under a carpet so they cannot be played with or chewed.

If you live in an apartment, your cat may be vulnerable to "high-rise syndrome." If your window screens are not securely fastened, a cat may fall from a window and suffer serious injuries, if not death. A cat should be sufficiently restrained or confined if allowed on an apartment balcony.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 74 percent of homes in the United States built prior to 1980 contain hazardous amounts of lead paint. As with humans, any item containing lead can be extremely harmful to a cat. Harmful effects may not show up until weeks after ingestion. Signs of lead poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite, loss of muscle coordination, blindness, and seizures. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you think there is a possibility of lead poisoning.

In addition to indoor dangers, outdoor hazards are often found in the garage or shed. Harmful products include windshield cleaners, weed killers, insecticides, used motor oil and antifreeze. Many cats are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze (believe it or not!) containing the chemical ethylene glycol which is highly toxic to cats. If it is spilled on the ground or leaking from your car, it can combine with a puddle making it exceptionally easy for your cat to drink it. New antifreeze products have been introduced that claim to be non-toxic to pets, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to clean up spills of any questionable liquid to avoid injuring your kitty!

Wherever the hazard may come, it is important to remember that your cat is not so different from a child. Curious paws and noses may inevitably discover areas that have yet to be "kitty-proofed." Once you get to know the likes and dislikes of your cat, it would be much easier to determine what is hazardous and what has not made your cat's priority list of noteworthy attractions.

Adopting the Right Dog

Man's best friend comes in all shapes, sizes, and of course, personalities. Choosing the right one can be overwhelming! The good news is that almost any dog can make a wonderful, lifelong companion for you and your family. The bad news is that most dogs are returned to the shelter or breeder because the original owner did not take certain key elements into consideration. The key is knowing what to look for.

Choosing the right dog generally means identifying the type of animal who matches your lifestyle and needs. If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, adopting a large, active retriever might not be the best choice. Conversely, if you have a family of four and are looking for a companion to match your active lifestyle, such a dog may be perfect. A dog's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.

Start by learning about different breeds and mixes. Talking to breeders, visiting with animals at the shelter, speaking with adoption counselors and asking questions to an owner of a specific breed are good ways to learn about what kind of dog might be right for you. Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds and mixed breeds. Most animal shelters have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, are similar to a specific "breed standard". This means that if you adopt a purebred puppy, you have a good chance of knowing approximately how big he'll get and what general physical and behavior characteristics he'll have.

Of course, the size, appearance and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can often be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you happen to know the ancestry of a particular mixed breed puppy or can identify what type of dog he is (e.g., terrier mix), you have a good chance of knowing how he'll turn out.

Once you decide what kind of dog you think you would like, there are a couple of questions to ask yourself when faced with a number of different dogs that fit into the category you have chosen.

How old is the dog?

You may want to select a puppy as your new companion. However, young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack time or patience to house train your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.

How shy or assertive is the dog?

Although an active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, a quieter or more reserved dog might be a better match if you don't have a particularly active lifestyle.

How good is the animal with children?

Learning about a dog's past through a history sheet or from an adoption counselor can be helpful, but past information isn't always available or reliable. In general, an active dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog that can probably thrive in a house full of kids. Also, keep in mind that puppies younger than 4 months, because of their fragility and special needs, often do not go well with families with young children.

Every dog in a shelter or kennel can provide you with boundless love and companionship, and every dog certainly deserves a lifelong home. But some dogs are better for you and your lifestyle than others. That is why you should take the time to make a thoughtful choice. After all, you are choosing a friend likely to be with you 10-15 years, if not longer! Select the right dog, and you and your new companion can enjoy those years to the fullest.

Senior Pets - Improving their Quality of Life

Congratulations! You've just taken the first step toward providing the best care for your friend in its golden years. Through senior blood testing, not only can normal laboratory values be determined that are specific to your pet, but any abnormal values may be addressed in order to maintain a high quality of life for your pet as it ages.

It is recommended to have these tests performed every one to two years to monitor any changes that may occur. It is only through early detection that many age-related illnesses may be slowed or prevented. Depending on the results, more frequent testing may be recommended.

Girl playing with senior cat

The aging process brings about a gradual reduction in your pet's physical capabilities. While dogs and cats begin to undergo these changes starting at about age five to seven years, different pets will show the various signs of growing old at different rates. The best time to recognize your pet's "senior" status and need for extra TLC is long before advanced disabilities set in.

Senior dog

To increase the length and quality of your pet's life, it is important to begin a process of prevention. Risks are associated with your pet's background, environment, or lifestyle. Certain conditions put him or her at greater risk of developing age-related changes or diseases. Some of these factors cannot be controlled; however, activity level, living conditions, quality of medical care, and level of nutrition are factors that can be controlled by a responsible owner. The extent to which these factors are managed help determine the quality and length of your pet's life. By identifying some of your pet's risk factors, treatment can be initiated prior to the onset of a medical problem.

Dental Disease

Tooth loss and serious gum infections become more common as pets age. The loss of teeth is a problem, and difficulty in chewing food may result. However, the spread of bacteria from the mouth into the pet's bloodstream, when infections occur around the teeth, is an even more serious risk to the older pet's health. Tumors of the mouth and gums also become more likely with advancing age. The first step in good dental care is to have your pet's teeth examined by your veterinarian.

Weight Gain

Obesity is one of the single most important risks the older pet's health. Since the older animal's metabolism and activity level slows down, most older pets have a tendency to gain weight Obesity is unhealthy in any pet, but it is especially harmful to an older animal's joints, heart and other organs.

Skin Conditions

Skin problems may occur more frequently since the older pet's skin is less elastic and repairs itself less rapidly. Hair loss is usually more pronounced, because hair follicles are less active in later life.

Cold and Warm Temperatures

Because your pet's metabolism is slowing, you may notice an increasing intolerance to heat and cold. This happens because your pet produces less of the hormones that are critical for maintaining the body's normal temperature.


Smell, sight, taste and hearing will diminish as your pet ages. Many pets adapt to these losses very well, although there may be a decrease in appetite. For such pets, a highly nutritious, well balanced diet is a must. Eye problems, such as glaucoma and cataracts, are more likely to develop in older pets.

Internal Organs

Diseases of vital internal organs—heart, lungs, kidneys and bladder—occur more frequently in older dogs and cats. As animals age, the organs also age. Therefore, a complete health assessment of the senior dog and cat includes considerable attention to these organs along with dietary recommendations to promote good health.

What you can do at home:

  • Avoid excessive weight gain. Your veterinarian may recommend an exercise program as well as a special senior pet food.
  • Keep your pet's living and areas clean, dry and warm at all times.
  • If possible, regularly check your pet's mouth for reddened gums, loose teeth or unusual swellings. Check eyes for redness, unusual cloudiness, discomfort and discharge. Check ears for wax build-up, discharge or unusual odors.
  • Thoroughly groom and inspect your older pet's skin regularly. Look for lumps, bumps and wounds.
  • If your older pet's eyesight is impaired, avoid relocating furniture. Also, try not to drastically change your pet's daily routine.
  • Any change associated with eating, drinking or elimination should be noted and discusses with your veterinarian. These are conditions are often associated with early stages of disease.
  • Take your older pet for regular senior checkups, even if he or she seems to be well. It is always easier and less expensive to prevent a problem rather than treat a problem.
  • Feed only the food your veterinarian recommends. Since many "treats" are high in sodium, you should not permit your older pet to eat them unless recommended.

Your older pet is a real member of the family. With proper care and regular testing, your loyal companion should be able to live a long and healthy life.

Behavior Problems In Dogs: Urination

Excitement Urination

During times of high excitement, dogs may dribble or squirt small amounts of urine. This behavior often occurs when the owner returns from a trip or even a day at work. Some dogs are so excitable that each time they see someone familiar, they dribble a small amount of urine. Generally, this behavior occurs more often in puppies and younger dogs (1 to 7 months of age). Most dogs outgrow this behavior without specific intervention

Failure of House-Training

A dog that is not housetrained or has lost it's house-training abilities will urinate or defecate in the home whether the owner is present or not. Some dogs learn to avoid eliminating directly in front of the owner if they have been previously punished for this behavior. Dogs may find indoor locations more readily available or attractive. They often have a preferred substrate or location for the indoor elimination. Inclement weather can contribute to the development of the problem. This problem usually occurs in young puppies (2 to 6 months of age) and elderly dogs (>7 years of age) but can occur at any age.This problem must be dealt with immediately.

Marking with Urine

Urine marking involves small quantities of urine usually deposited vertically on targets. Urine marking occurs despite adequate access to the outdoors. Triggers for marking behaviors may include the addition of another pet, female dog in estrus (heat), or a new item or person in the household. Sexually mature, intact male dogs are most likely to engage in urine marking behavior.The age at onset for this behavior is between 6 - 24 months of age.

Submissive Urination

In an attempt to communicate a submissive status to a person, usually associated with a greeting or a reprimand, the dog may urinate. The dog will exhibit other body postures that convey submission (e.g., ears back, avoidance of eye contact, cowering, or rolling over). Submissive urination is more common in young female dogs. Most dogs outgrow this behavior by 1 year of age. The age at onset for this behavior is early in life (1 to 7 months of age) but can occur at any age.