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

Attention Seeking Behavior in Dogs

It is perfectly normal for our dogs to engage in a little attention getting behavior from time to time. As longs as the behavior stays within acceptable limits, there is nothing particularly wrong with it. Many times your dog will communicate with you by barking at you, indicating a reason to take notice of him. Also, if you are engrossed in conversation, for example, and your dog paws at your leg to solicit your attention, it would not be inappropriate. What you must remember is that your dog quickly learns which behaviors work and which ones do not according to how you respond. That being said, it is necessary to set reasonable boundaries from which your dog can learn which behaviors are acceptable to you.

There are a number of ways a dog can look for attention. The most common actions are barking, whining, gagging (or actual vomiting), feigning lameness (limping), jumping, and pawing. Keep in mind that some dogs go above and beyond if they think their behavior will be rewarded with attention, so this list may seem fairly tame. It is important to note what your reaction is to certain behaviors in order to determine which one your dog has employed to get your attention. If you ignore your dog when he barks but yell and/or touch him when he jumps, you are more likely encouraging him to jump whereas his barking is a normal communication.

He may just want attention and not what you're eating!

The main principle involved in treating attention seeking behaviors is to ignore the behavior. It is not a fast acting solution but one that generally produces the best results. In fact, the behavior may get worse or even more intense, before it eventually fades away. Keep in mind that if you give in intermittently or after a lengthy period of trying to "tough it out" before the behavior has been squelched, you will reinforce the behavior more firmly. Your dog will learn that if he keeps it up, the attention he wants will eventually come his way.

Another way to solve the problem is to use a "bridging stimulus." A bridging stimulus is a neutral sign (or cue) that brings about a particular consequence (i.e. it forms a "bridge" between a behavior and a consequence). It could be a duck call or a tuning fork, or the sound of striking a note on a piano. The noise is sounded at the time the dog is engaging in the unwanted behavior to signal the owner's imminent withdrawal of attention, perhaps even leaving the room. What the bridging stimulus does is to focus the dog's attention on that point in time when attention withdrawal is about to happen. It is not intended to be aversive but rather a consistent signal. The specific behavior should dissolve more consistently and rapidly if a bridging stimulus is used rather than if attention withdrawal is employed without such a signal.

If your dog is still performing the same behaviors after employing the above mentioned strategies, there could be other factors involved. It is possible that your dog is not receiving ANY attention or he is spending too much time alone or in a crate. It may be that he is getting insufficient exercise or mental stimulation. Excess energy could also be an issue. It is extremely important to address these issues as well rather than just trying to stop the dog from bothering you. It could be that YOUR expectations are not conducive to normal dog behavior and care. Some questions you may ask yourself are:

  • Does my dog get enough exercise? The minimum is 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.
  • Is my dog eating a sensible diet?
  • Is my level of communication with my dog adequate? Have I trained my dog? You should be striving for 85% responsiveness to a one word command such as sit, down, come, watch, etc.
  • Is my dog being rewarded with my attention (petting, praise, etc) when he is doing something I like? If not, begin indicating my approval of desired behaviors.
  • Does my dog have a "job?" For certain breeds having a job or something to focus attention regularly helps curb unwanted behavior. Retrieving the paper every day or accessing his food is an example.
It's a big job, but he wants to do it!

The bottom line is that dogs need attention. What you give your attention to (whether good or bad) generally teaches the dog how to achieve that attention through certain behaviors. As an owner, it is your responsibility to let your dog know which behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not. Any behavior can be reinforced. It is up to you to decide what kind of relationship you want with your dog.

VIDEO: Saving Pets' Smiles and Sometimes,Their Lives

Most of us understand the need for preventative dental care in our pets, but sometimes, a trip to the veterinary dentist can be a lifesaver too! Whether the pet has severe dental disease showering bacteria into the bloodstream or has trauma to the oral cavity, pet dentists have an arsenal of tools ready for action! Watch this video to see why one lucky dog likely owes her life to the work of her Veterinary Dentist.


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Caring For Older Cats

In general, cats live longer than dogs. The average life span of a housecat is about 12-15 years. Some cats are extremely healthy, living well into their 20s.

Cats grow old gracefully. As they grow older, they have a tendency to sleep more. An elderly cat generally spends most of his or her time sleeping on a couch, a comfortable chair, or on a blanket close to a heat source.

Senior Cat

Senior Cats Sleep More

Older cats are less active and less playful than kittens and young cats. They are also more irritable. As cats get older, their organs function less efficiently. Degeneration of the kidneys, thyroid glands, pancreas and adrenal glands occurs, resulting in kidney failure, hyperthyroidism and diabetes. Their senses (sight, smell, and hearing) have a tendency to deteriorate as well.

Older cats need help with grooming. As cats get older, they groom themselves less, as well as less effectively. Long-haired cats are particularly bothered by coat problems. Their coats are often matted, causing severe skin irritations. If an elderly cat is unable to keep up with his or her grooming, human intervention may be necessary. Long-haired cats and short-haired cats that do not groom themselves effectively should be brushed or combed twice a week.

Constipation is a common problem of older cats. It is often the result of a decrease in gastrointestinal tract motility. Hairballs can also cause constipation and very often they lead to intestinal impaction. Surgery is occasionally necessary in order to remove obstructive hairballs. Since hairballs are not easily regurgitated, preventative medication such as laxatives should be administered once a week. The use of a laxative is recommended for the prevention of intestinal obstruction, however if the laxative is given too frequently, it can interfere with intestinal absorption of vitamins and minerals.

The skin and nails of an older cat should be checked regularly. The skin should be checked for lumps and bumps. If lumps are found, the cat should be examined by a veterinarian. Nails should be checked and trimmed on a weekly basis. Untrimmed nails have a tendency to curl around, causing self-inflicted injury.

Senior cats need dental car.

Senior Cats May Need Dental Care

Many elderly cats are prone to dental tartar build-up. Tartar causes bad breath and can lead to dental problems — gum disease and tooth loss. Cats may tolerate a bit of home dentistry like brushing; however, they must be taken to a veterinary hospital for treatment. Treatment generally consists of cleaning and polishing the teeth.

Kidney failure is a very common disease of older cats. This occurs when 70 percent of the kidney's functions are lost. Early symptoms of kidney failure include weight loss, increased thirst, increased urination (frequency and amount), decreased appetite, and occasional vomiting. Symptoms of kidney failure result from the buildup of toxins in the body, which are normally removed by healthy kidneys.

Specially formulated foods are available for cats that are diagnosed with kidney failure. These foods may be purchased through your veterinarian.

Cancer, usually resulting from feline leukemia virus infection, is commonly diagnosed in elderly cats. The virus is transmitted from an infected cat to a healthy cat through intimate "nose-to-nose" contact with infected saliva. There are no specific symptoms for feline leukemia virus infection; however, tumors of the lymph nodes, kidneys and intestines are quite common. Other symptoms include weight loss, anemia (decrease in red blood cells), poor appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.

Hyperthyroidism is a very common endocrine problem in older cats. Hyperthyroidism is due to an overproduction of thyroid hormone by the thyroid glands (two glands, one gland on each side of the throat). Symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include drastic weight loss, hyperactivity, and increased appetite. This disease can be treated medically, surgically, or with radiation therapy.

Heart problems are often diagnosed in elderly cats. The most common heart disease is cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a primary heart disease, though it can develop secondary to kidney disease and hyperthyroidism.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that commonly affects older animals. Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and increased urination. Animals with diabetes mellitus often have ravenous appetites. Insulin is usually necessary for controlling diabetes mellitus in older cats.

Older cats do not appreciate change. They feel comfortable with the status quo. Environmental changes are not well tolerated. If a vacation or a trip is planned, have someone come to your home to feed your cat. An elderly cat does not do well in a kennel situation.

Change Generates Stress For Older Cats

Change Generates Stress For Older Cats

Since older cats spend most of the day resting, the location of their bed is important. This area should be draft-free, warm, and not damp.

Elderly cats loose some of their ability to digest specific foods. The ability to digest and assimilate fat declines with age. Olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) senses are diminished. Food may need to be warmed (not hot) in order to entice an older cat to eat. It is not recommended to give food directly from the refrigerator.

Fresh clean water should be available at all times. The water bowl should be checked and filled at least once a day.

Routine veterinary check-ups, along with blood and urine tests, are important for detecting medical problems before they become emergency situations. Discuss an examination schedule specific to your cat with your veterinarian.

Twelve Tips for a Well-Behaved Dog

  1. Train your dog gently and humanely. Use positive rewards and motivation methods. Rewards should be the rule and reprimands should be the rare exception. Keep obedience sessions lively so that the training process is enjoyable for all parties. Training your dog should not be drudgery.
  2. Start training your puppy at an early age. While old dogs can be taught new tricks, what’s learned earliest is often learned quickest and easiest. Also, the older the dog, the more bad habits he may need to unlearn.
  3. Your dog needs to respond to you properly at home. If not, he certainly will not behave outside the home. Distractions are fairly minimal at home; however, in the outside world there are other dogs, pigeons, passersby, sidewalk food scraps (to name a few).

    Does your dog listen to you and obey you at home? Does he treat you like a human gymnasium when you’re sitting on the furniture? Does he beg at the table? Jump up on visitors? Demand your attention by annoying you to death? Ignore your commands?
  4. Avoid giving your dog commands that he cannot obey. Each time you give a command that is neither complied nor enforced, your dog learns that commands are optional.
  5. One command should equal one response. Give your dog a command, say it once (twice, max!), and then gently enforce it. Repeating commands or nagging causes your dog to tune you out, and teaches him that the first several commands are a bluff. For instance, telling your dog to "sit, sit, sit, sit" is neither an efficient nor effective way to issue commands. Simply give your dog a single command, gently place or lure him into it, and give him praise or reward.
  6. Avoid giving your dog combined commands which are incompatible. Combined commands such as "sit-down" can confuse your dog. Use either sit or down.
  7. When giving your dog a command, avoid using a loud voice. Even if your dog is especially independent/unresponsive, your tone of voice when issuing an obedience command should be calm and authoritative, rather than harsh or loud.
  8. Whenever possible, use your dog’s name positively, rather than using it associated to reprimands, warnings or punishment. Your dog should trust that when he hears his name, good things happen. His name should always be a word he responds to with enthusiasm, never hesitancy or fear.
  9. Correct or prevent the unwanted behavior. Don’t punish, but try to teach him. Do not reprimand or get even with him. After-the-fact discipline does NOT work. If you’re taking a "whip ’em into shape" approach, you’ll undermine your relationship with him. Also, you’ll be missing out on all the fun that a motivational training approach can offer.
  10. When training your dog, timing is everything. Take the following example: You’ve prepared a platter of food for a small dinner party and it is sitting on a small table in the dining room. Your dog walks into the room and smells the food. He air-sniffs, then eyes the food, and is poised to jump up. This is the best, easiest and most effective time to correct your dog’s behavior— while he’s thinking about jumping up to get the food. If he has already eaten the food and is resting comfortably in his bed, correcting him at this point is useless. He cannot associate something that occurred earlier with a correction that he is receiving at the present time.
  11. Often, dog owners inadvertently reinforce their dogs’ misbehavior by giving them lots of attention (negative attention) when they misbehave. Needless to say, if your dog receives lots of attention and handling when he jumps up on you, that behavior is being reinforced, and is therefore likely to be repeated.
  12. Keep a lid on your anger. Never train your dog when you’re feeling grouchy or impatient. Earning your dog’s respect is never accomplished by yelling, hitting, or handling your dog in a harsh manner. Moreover, studies have shown that fear and stress inhibit the learning process.

Top 10 Dog Breeds in 2014

Dogs occupy a larger place than ever in our society in recent years. They’re not just pets – they’re real members of our families. People have come to cherish a wide variety of these four-legged friends, and according to the American Kennel Club, the 10 breeds below topped the ranks in 2014.

1. Labrador Retriever – Labrador Retrievers, or simply Labradors or Labs, are frequently described as devoted, obedient, outgoing, gentle, agile and intelligent. Great with children and eager to please, it’s no surprise these dogs came out on top for the 24th consecutive year.

2. German Shepherd Dog – German Shepherds are working dogs, originally bred for herding sheep. They are known for being strong, intelligent, obedient, loyal and easy to train. While they are a common choice for law enforcement and the military, they also make great family pets.

3. Golden Retriever – Golden Retrievers are the loyal, strong and sometimes overly enthusiastic good buddies of the dog world. These energetic, affectionate canines shower their families with endless nuzzles, kisses and tail wags, and make very emotionally rewarding pets.

4. Bulldog – This breed is gentle, kid-friendly, affectionate, and stubborn. Bulldogs are not the energetic equals of Golden Retrievers or Labs. Instead, they favor brief walks and long periods of rest – most preferably with their heads on a beloved human’s lap – between meals.

5. Beagle – Beagles are members of the hound group and possess a great sense of smell and tracking instinct. Happy, outgoing, loving but also inquisitive and determined, these small and hardy dogs make great family pets.

6. Yorkshire Terrier – Yorkshire Terriers are the most popular toy breed in the US. Attention seeking, intelligent and independent, with a propensity for yapping, they are great for apartment dwellers and families with older children.

7. Poodle – Poodles have an unmistakably distinct appearance that makes them stand out from other dogs. They’re elegant, active and very intelligent. There are three types of poodles, Standard, Miniature and Toy, and all are considered to be affectionate family pets.

8. Boxer – Boxers are medium-sized dogs that are happy, loyal, brave, high-spirited, playful, intelligent and energetic. This breed is an excellent watchdog, is a great family pet and benefits greatly from dominant owner and training starting at a young age.

9. French Bulldog – French Bulldogs have a distinct look, too – but they’re a little more funny looking than other dogs. They’re adorable, too, and it’s no mystery why these affectionate small dogs, with their easy-going and playful natures, have won people’s hearts. French Bulldogs enjoy lavishing love on their human companions and generally get along well with everyone, including children.

10. Rottweiler – Often used as search and rescue dogs, guide dogs for the blind, and guard dogs or police dogs, Rottweilers also make great companion pets. Known for being exceptionally intelligent and strong, they are also devoted, good-natured, obedient and fearless. Properly bred and socialized Rottweilers are playful, gentle, and loving to their families.

When deciding to welcome a canine companion into your home, it’s important to consider where you live, your family, your existing pets and your lifestyle. Choosing a pet with the temperament, energy level and size that complement each of these factors is a vital part of making sure your life together is a long and happy one!

“Pets Deli” in Berlin Serves Up Gourmet Dishes for Pets

A new gourmet restaurant has opened in Berlin, but this one has a twist: all of its dishes are exclusively crafted for cats and dogs. The restaurant, called Pets Deli, serves a range of specialties including kangaroo meat with broccoli, berries with rice, and more. And the prices are much more affordable than your typical gourmet fare, ranging from $4 to $8.

David Spanier, the owner of Pets Deli, says that he wanted to open the restaurant after seeing his own dog have trouble digesting regular pet food. “Junk food is bad for animals,” Spanier said. “It’s as if I ate fast food every day. I may like it, but it’s very bad for your health.”

While their four legged companions are feasting on delicacies, the restaurant offers coffee for owners. Plus, there’s nothing keeping pet owners from sampling a dish. “The meat is of such quality that it could be safely consumed by humans,” said Spanier.