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The veterinarians and staff at Matthews Animal Clinic are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter of pet-related articles and news stories.

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. Get started by browsing the Current Newsletter Topics links that pertain to each article.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

March 23 is National Puppy Day

March 23 is National Puppy Day! Since 2006, National Puppy Day celebrates the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives. Over the years, this holiday has grown into an international holiday, and has trended on Twitter since 2012.

Creator Colleen Page—who also founded National Dog Day and National Cat Day—created this event to help save orphaned puppies across the globe while educating the public about the horrors of puppy mills. According to the National Puppy Day website, there are approximately 8,000-10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. , including many businesses that call themselves breeders that purposely allow their dog to get pregnant in hopes of selling puppies through local papers or online.

“The tragedy of puppy mills is that they don’t care about the animals more than a commodity to be sold,” National Puppy Day’s website reads. “Most of these animals live in crammed cages with no room to movie, in complete and utter squalor.”

While National Puppy Day is a great day to post pictures of your adorable puppy to your Twitter feed, don’t forget why we celebrate this holiday: for the fair and ethical treatment of dogs across the world. To learn more about National Puppy Day and why adopting a puppy is important, visit

How to Care for Orphan Kittens

NOTE: This advice is in no way meant to replace the advice from your veterinarian. Please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the best care for your orphan kitten.

You're on your nightly walk when you hear that heart-stopping sound—the soft chorusing mews of a kitten. With some investigation, you determine it's without a mother and bring the kitten home. Now what?

• Determine the age of the kitten to see if it needs to be bottle fed or if it can go directly to soft food. If the kitten's eyes are closed, ears folded over: it's in the vicinity of 1 to 14 days old. Eyes open, kitten moves but is wobbly: it's about 2-3 weeks old. Eyes open, ears up, can walk around: it's approximately 3 weeks or older.

• If the kitten is cold, warm it slowly by holding it against your bare skin, allowing it to absorb your body heat. Do not submerge it in water or do any other drastic warming measure. Simply wrapping the kitten up in a blanket or towel is usually not sufficient as it is not able to generate its own heat. The kitten needs to absorb heat from you. Do not attempt to feed a cold kitten; wait until it warms up.

• Make a kitten box— put a heating pad in a box large enough to accommodate the heating pad plus more room so the kitten can crawl off if it gets too warm. Cover the heating pad with several towels. Do not lay the kitten directly on the heating pad. Set the temperature to low. Change the towels two to three times daily.


• KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) or JUST BORN are two of the best commercial formulas to feed. Do not give cow's milk. If necessary, use the following emergency recipe for up to 24 hours only: 2/3 cup homogenized whole milk, 3 raw egg yolks, 1 tablespoon corn oil, and 1 dropper pediatric liquid vitamins. Warm the formula in a nursing bottle or medicine dropper. Test it on your wrist to check the temperature. If it feels too warm or too cold on your wrist, it is the same for the kitten.

• Place the kitten on its stomach (just as he or she would nurse from its own mother) and let her nurse until she turns her head. Do not squeeze the bottle while nursing, but place a drop on her mouth to get her started. Do not place the kitten on its back as it can aspirate formula into its lungs and suffocate.

• After the kitten is full, it is necessary to stimulate its elimination. Kittens cannot eliminate on their own until they are 3 weeks old. Take a washcloth or paper towel and gently massage the anal region in a circular or back and forth motion. This is the same kind of activity that a queen (mother cat) would do for her kitten.

• Feeding schedule (general guideline): 1-2 weeks, 6 feedings per day; 3 weeks, 4 feedings per day; and 4 weeks, 3 feedings per day. At five weeks, you can begin weaning with baby food or canned cat food mixed with KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer). Never use baby food that contains onion as it can cause a specific type of anemia.

Dos and Don'ts:

• The greatest danger to a kitten is chilling. Keep kittens warm in a draft-free area.

• Avoid getting air into the kitten's tummy. Hold the bottle at an angle to keep liquid toward the nipple.

• Don't force formula into a kitten unless it is in crisis and must be tube fed. If it gets to this point, seek veterinary assistance. This is very risky if done by an untrained individual. If done improperly, esophageal, stomach damage or death is possible.

• Don't panic if the kitten does not eat for the first day. She may have just come off the mother, whose milk is quite rich and can sustain her for a longer time than replacement formulas.

• Don't bathe a baby kitten unless absolutely necessary. If there are fleas, use a flea comb. If it must be bathed, use a very mild pet shampoo. Flea shampoo is too harsh for kittens. After bathing, towel dry the kitten as much as possible, then put it directly back on the towel-covered heating pad. Do not use a hairdryer.

9 Ways to be Kind to Animals

They make us laugh. They're our best friends. They're a source of comfort. If you love your pets, it's easy to share and show your kindness to animals as well. Here are some ideas on how you can spread the love and be kind to animals:

1. Speak out for animals

2. Never tolerate animal cruelty

3. Adopt a shelter pet

4. Spay or neuter your pets

5. Keep pets' vaccinations current

6. Identify your pets with tags or microchip

7. Appreciate wildlife

8. Leave room for animal habitats

9. Interest others in the cause

Improving Quality of Life for Senior Pets

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 5 to 7 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.

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.

Senior dog

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.

Mysterious Bond Between Humans and Dogs

Dogs and their owners share a bond that is unrivaled in the animal world. Not even our closest genetic relative—the chimpanzee—can understand our gestures, facial expressions and language like a domesticated dog can. This curious relationship is the subject of new research that is leading scientists to surprising discoveries in areas of species development, the strange consequences of domestication and the evolution of human culture.

Dogs and wolves are the same genus, sharing 99.8 percent of their genetic makeup. They can mate and produce fertile offspring. But in some ways, dogs and wolves are very different. Dogs cannot be taught to socialize in packs, and can never reintegrate into an established wolf pack. They just don’t get it. Wolves, on the other hand, don't communicate or bond with humans, even when raised the same way as dog puppies.

In a recent experiment at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, wolf pups were raised exactly as dog puppies. By 8 weeks, they were especially anxious to please their human owners. By 4 months of age, the wolves were so “undomesticated” that they had to be returned to the wolf sanctuary.

Why can't wolves bond with humans? In spite of being so similar to dogs genetically, they don’t seem to have the communication skills that dogs have. It's this curious ability of domesticated dogs to communicate with humans, to understand our emotions and our gestures that has made our relationship with dogs so special. Archeologists once believed that wolves became domesticated around 12,000 years ago. Newer research based on genetics not bones, has suggested a time period closer to 100,000 years ago. In these 100,000 years, something happened to make a dog less of a wolf.

On a farm in Siberia, Soviet scientists may have discovered the answer. Fifty years ago, they set up an experiment to domesticate silver foxes. The project has been teaching scientists a great deal about the process of domestication. By selectively breeding only the least aggressive foxes, researchers succeeded in eight generations to create "pet" foxes. The pet foxes are friendly, trainable, affectionate and obedient. Although they are genetically identical to aggressive wild foxes, the new generations are beginning to show physical as well as behavioral changes. Blood tests show lower levels of adrenaline. Their ears are floppier, legs are shorter and their tails are curlier. In short, they are beginning to look like dogs.

Could this be what happened to the wolves that joined humans in their hunting camps 100,000 years ago? Humans and wolves were group hunters who were active during the daylight, strange among wild carnivores. Hunting together must have given them an advantage. The intervening generations of domestication have changed dogs in a fundamental way. Dogs that were able to read emotion in human faces would be naturally selected for survival. Knowing when to be frightened and when to follow was certainly an advantage to primitive dogs. Today, after so many generations of co-dependence and co-habitation, dogs and humans communicate. Dogs read human faces, learn words and follow gestures such as pointing. Chimpanzees can learn words, but cannot be trained to follow a gesture or read a human emotion in a facial expression. Dogs know these things instinctively. Humans, too, understand. Experiments show that we understand dog barks surprisingly well.

Domestication of the wolf has provided humans with a faithful companion – the dog. This faithful companion protects us, sympathizes with our emotions and obeys our commands. It makes one wonder: What will dogs be like in another 100,000 years?