Closed 1st Weds of each month from 12pm – 1:40pm
Closed 1st Weds of each month from 12pm – 1:40pm
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!
You may have heard the saying, "You own a dog, but you feed a cat." It is true that cats value their independence a bit more than their canine counterparts. But, if you've ever been around cats, you already know they crave and require love and companionship. Cats make wonderful pets and most easily adjust to a variety of lifestyles and living spaces. Every cat is a true individual though, so it's important to take the time to choose a four-footed friend who's right for you. A cat's personality, age and appearance, as well as the kinds of pets you already have at home, are all things you should keep in mind when making your selection.
If you've ever been to a shelter, you have probably noticed that some cats meow and head butt the cage door while others simply lie back and gaze at you with a look of total ambiguity. There are as many different personalities of cats as there are cats in the shelter. Which disposition is best for you? YOU have to decide.
Regardless of individual personality, look for a cat that is playful, active, alert and comfortable while being held. At the shelter, ask an adoption counselor for assistance when you wish to spend some time with individual cats. Because they are in an unfamiliar environment, some cats that are usually quite social may be frightened or passive while in the shelter.
As a general rule, kittens are curious, playful and full of energy, while adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous. Kittens also require more time to train and feed. Cats are only kittens for a few months, though, so the age of the cat you adopt should really depend on the level of maturity you are looking for. Young children usually don't have the maturity to handle kittens responsibly, so a cat that is at least 4 months old is probably the best choice for homes with young children.
They All May Be Cute, But Which Is Right For You?
Though dogs also have differences in coat, choosing the length of coat on a cat is a little different. Because the hair is generally finer and cats generally shed more, hair length can be an important part of your decision. Cats can have long, fluffy coats or short, dense fur and the choice between the two is chiefly a matter of preference, availability and your willingness to devote time to regular grooming. Short-haired cats are generally easier to come by since they're the most popular and the most common. Keep in mind that long-haired cats require frequent grooming to remain mat-free. Felines with short coats also require brushing, though less frequently. Most cats enjoy a regular brushing and look forward to this daily ritual.
If you already own a cat or dog, you're probably wondering how easy it is to add a cat to the family. The good news is that cats can get along with other cats, and despite the common stereotype, most dogs can get along with cats too. Unfortunately, introducing a new cat to a home with other pets can be time consuming and require patience on your part.
The best way to handle adding a new cat to the home is to provide time for a period of adjustment. You can do this effectively by isolating your new feline in a room of his own for a while, something that is a good idea for a new cat anyway. After several days, supervise meetings between the animals for periods of increasing length. Most cats will soon learn to accept each other. Some dogs simply won't tolerate the presence of a cat, but by carefully introducing them, most problems can be solved.
No matter which kind of cat you choose, remember that you're making a commitment to love and care for your new feline friend for his or her lifetime. That could mean 10, 15 or even 20 years. So choose you new companion carefully and be a responsible pet owner. In no time at all, you'll know how wonderful sharing your home with a cat can be.
For more information about Adopt-A-Cat month, please visit the American Humane Association's website.
With summer in the air, it’s getting particularly hard for some animals to breath. This is especially the case for short-nosed – or flat-faced dogs such as the Pekingese, pug, bulldog, boxer, shih tzu and chihuahua. However, these airway problems, which are typically due to narrow nostrils, a long soft palate or collapsed voice box, can also affect our feline friends, such as Himalayans and exotic shorthairs. This condition (known as the Brachycephalic airway syndrome) is largely due to the dog or cat’s unique head shape, so there isn’t much you can do to entirely avoid it.
However, there are certain factors that can increase the risk and further complicate their breathing condition. These include:
Treatment options largely depend on the symptoms exhibited by your dog or cat. In some cases, surgical procedures may be your pet’s best option. So don’t let the summer heat waves stop your pet from getting a breath of fresh air. For more information about symptoms and treatments, talk to your local veterinarian.
The FDA released a warning for canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain dog foods that contain peas, lentils, and other legume seeds, or potatoes as the main ingredients (grain-free). There is also concern with “boutique diets” that are not regulated to contain a complete and balanced nutrition accordingly to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Recently, they have released a list of certain brands that have been implicated. Research is still being done with no definitive answers as of yet. At this time, Matthews Animal Clinic is recommending that you continue a grain free diet ONLY if there is a true medical reason but, otherwise, we would recommend either avoiding grain free diets (especially those on the FDA list) and boutique diets that do not contain an AAFCO statement or having an in-depth discussion with one of our doctors on other recommendations.
FDA list of brand names most frequently associated with dilated cardiomyopathy cases:
Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature’s Variety, Nutrisource, Nutro, Rachael Ray Nutrish
Many people believe they cannot own a dog or cat if they have asthma or allergies, but not all people with these problems necessarily have a reaction to dogs or cats, and some people may be allergic to dogs and not cats, or vice versa.
Some believe that there are dog and cat breeds that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction in their owners but this is not always the case. Most people who react to dogs and cats are allergic to the dander rather than the hair. Dander consists of dead skin cells shed by the animal. All breeds of dogs and cats shed dander.
Other people are allergic to a protein in the animal's saliva. This is more likely to cause problems to cat owners, as cats self-groom by licking their fur. A suggested remedy for this is to bathe the cat once a month. No soap is needed, merely soak the cat thoroughly. Done on a monthly basis, it may help to keep the saliva levels down to a tolerable level.
For those people who react to dog or cat hair, there are breeds which are non-shedding. Poodles, Bichon frise and Bedlington terriers have a wool-like coat which does not shed. Some of these non-shedding dogs however, have other requirements. These breeds need to be clipped on a regular basis and also require close human companionship. They are not suitable for owners who want a dog who will spend the majority of its time alone or outside.
Crossing the poodle, Bichon frise and Bedlington terrier with other breeds does not guarantee any puppies in the litter having a non-shedding coat. If you wish to be sure that the pup you purchase has the coat type you require, then it is best to buy a purebred.
The Cornish rex and Devon rex cat breeds also have a non-shedding coat but they need to be kept indoors.
There are some steps which you can take in order to minimize allergies to cats and dogs:
• Keep pets out of the bedroom
• Keep pets off the furniture
• Clean and vacuum often
• Groom and brush pets often and outside if possible
• Bathe pets regularly
Since some people are simply allergic to a new dog or cat, repeated exposure may diminish the allergic reaction. In other words, you may not be allergic to dogs or cats that you are exposed to regularly.
An allergy specialist can test you for allergies and then give you periodic injections to help you develop an appropriate immunity to them. Be sure to find a specialist familiar with dog and cat allergies as some doctors may simply recommend you get rid of pets.
The companionship of a dog or cat has many benefits for both children and adults, and it is sad to deny ourselves these benefits without considering all the options. However, if you suspect a family member may have an allergy to a pet, it is best to seek medical advice before bringing one home. It can be heartbreaking to have to part with a loved pet because of a family member's allergies.
What is rabies?
How do you contract rabies?
Why should I be worried about rabies in wildlife?
How can I tell if an animal has rabies?
What should I do if I am bitten by an animal?
What can I do to prevent rabies?
Q: What is Rabies?
A: Rabies is a virus that infects the central nervous system in warm-blooded animals. The disease is invariably fatal if left untreated; however, effective vaccines are available to protect people and pets.
Q: How do you contract rabies?
A: Rabies is passed along through contact with an infected animal’s saliva and is almost always transmitted when an infected animal bites an uninfected animal or person. People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.
Q: Why should I be worried about rabies in wildlife?
A: Rabies is a serious public health concern because if left untreated it is always fatal. Costs associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies exceeds $300 million annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of reported rabies cases in the United States are in wildlife.
Q: How can I tell if an animal has rabies?
A: The test to determine if an animal has contracted the rabies virus requires them to be euthanized to test the cells of the brain stem. Some of the visible signs of a rabid animal could include any of the following symptoms: aggressive behavior, attacking for no reason, lethargic, walking in a circle, confused and drunk-like. Wildlife should never be approached at any time. If you have any questions about wildlife, please contact USDA’s Wildlife Services at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297).
Q: What should I do if I am bitten by an animal?
A: Wash the wounds thoroughly with soap and water as a first aid precaution. Call your doctor or local health department immediately. If it is a domestic animal, get the name and address of the animal’s owner. If it is a wild animal, contact your local health department, animal control or professional wildlife officer for assistance. If the animal is dead, wear gloves or use a shovel to move it. If testing is necessary, put the carcass into a heavy plastic bag and place it in a cold area away from people and other animals. Clean the area where the animal was found with one part bleach to ten parts water. Call your local health department for further instructions.
Q: What can I do to prevent rabies?
A: Avoid contact with all wild animals. Make sure your pets are vaccinated in accordance with state and local laws. Report any suspicious acting animals to USDA’s Wildlife Services at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297) or to your local police or animal control. Do not relocate wildlife.
Looking at the results of laboratory tests done on your pet can be very confusing, overwhelming and at times, even frightening. As your pet's caregiver, it is important for you to have a general understanding of laboratory tests and what their results mean. This information can be valuable when it comes to deciding medical treatment options that are important as well as available for your pet.
Generally, in order to conduct a test a sample of your pet's blood and/or urine is collected. Once collected, it can be stored in various kinds of tubes to help preserve the sample and provide the laboratory technicians with a clean specimen.
So what does it mean when your veterinarian says she needs to run some blood work on your pet? Blood work (pre-surgical or otherwise) is usually a combination of a complete blood count (CBC) and a blood chemical analysis. Blood work is a basic evaluation tool. It also helps your veterinarian diagnose a pet's disease or monitor the progression of a disease. The cellular elements of the blood are examined in the CBC. The CBC determines the number of erythrocytes (red blood cells), the number and type of leukocytes (white blood cells), the number of thrombocytes (platelets), the hemoglobin level and the hematocrit (packed cell volume or PCV). Erythrocytes carry oxygen throughout the body. Leukocytes fight infection and are part of the immune system. Platelets are clotting proteins and can indicate how fast your pet's blood clots; slow clotting can be a serious problem. A CBC can tell your veterinarian if your pet has an unusual number of red blood cells, white cells or platelets. The numerical values for these cells can indicate if your pet's health is improving or deteriorating.
The results of a chemistry panel can indicate how well your pet's kidney and liver are functioning and the level of electrolytes in the blood. The chemistry panel usually includes the following tests:
• Alkaline phosphatase- Used extensively as a tumor marker, it is also present with liver injury, bone injury, pregnancy, or skeletal growth (elevated values). Growing animals have normally higher levels of this enzyme. Low levels are sometimes found in protein deficiency, malnutrition and a number of vitamin deficiencies.
• Alanine transaminase- Increased levels are seen in liver damage, kidney infection, chemical pollutants or myocardial infarction.
• Bilirubin (total)- Elevated in liver disease, hemolytic anemia, low levels of exposure to the sun and toxic effects to some drugs. Decreased levels are seen in people with an inefficient liver, excessive fat digestion and possibly a diet low in nitrogen bearing foods.
• Blood urea nitrogen- Increases can be caused by excessive protein intake, kidney damage, certain drugs, low fluid intake, intestinal bleeding, exercise, or heart failure. Decreased levels may be due to a poor diet, malabsorption, liver damage or low nitrogen intake.
• Creatinine- Low levels are sometimes seen in kidney damage, protein starvation, liver disease, or pregnancy. Elevated levels are sometimes seen in kidney disease due to the kidneys job of excreting creatinine, muscle degeneration and some drugs involved in impairment of kidney function.
• Glucose- Elevated in diabetes, liver disease, obesity, and pancreatitis due to steroid medications, or during stress. Low levels may be indicative of liver disease, overproduction of insulin or hypothyroidism.
• Total protein- Decreased levels may be due to poor nutrition, liver disease, malabsorption, diarrhea or severe burns. Increased levels are seen in lupus, liver disease, chronic infections, leukemia, etc.
• Albumin- High levels are rarely seen and are primarily due to dehydration. Low levels are seen in poor diets, diarrhea, fever, infection, liver disease, inadequate iron intake, third-degree burns and edemas and hypocalcemia.