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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!

November is National Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Pet Diabetes Month, but with more than 50 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs overweight or obese, raising awareness of the common endocrine disease has been extended to pets – rather than just their human caretakers. It is estimated that one in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes, being the most common endocrine condition found in felines. The numbers for dogs are similar and only expected to increase.

Diabetes results when a pet’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I DM) or doesn’t process it properly (Type II DM). When your pet eats, carbohydrates found in his or her food are converted into simple sugars, one of which is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines and travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin typically helps turn the glucose into fuel. However, when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose can’t even enter the cells to be converted into energy and instead just builds up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs:

• Lethargy
• Excessive thirst
• Frequent urination
• Always hungry, yet maintains or loses weight
• Thinning, dry and dull coats in cats
• Cloudy eyes in dogs

National Pet Diabetes Month

At-risk pets include:

• Those with genetic predispositions
• Those with other insulin-related disorders
• Those who are obese and/or physically inactive
• Dogs who are between 4- to 14-years-old
• Unspayed/intact female dogs are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes
• Dog breeds with greater risk for development: Cocker spaniels, dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labradors, Pomeranians, terriers and Toy Poodles

Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed so that symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely. Your veterinarian will decide which treatment options are best for your pet. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle, combined with or without daily insulin injections, can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have diabetes, contact your veterinarian today. Veterinarians are the only professionals who can accurately diagnose your pet and provide proper health management. Diabetes can affect a pet differently over time, even if your pet has experienced a long period of stability. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the better, and the less likely you'll incur the cost of an expensive emergency visit for diabetic complications.

Diet and Heart Disease Debate


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


Most Common Reasons of Poisoning in Cats

Cats are sensitive to many toxic agents, sometimes in ways unique to their species. Although cats are less likely than dogs to expose themselves through "curious" ingestions, cats do have more of a tendency to nibble on deadly agents. Cats are also able to jump to high places and squeeze into small spaces that are out of reach to dogs, children and even adults. Lastly, because of their need to groom, cats with skin exposure to hazardous chemicals are likely to receive an oral dose as well.

The products listed below have been selected based on the most frequent feline exposures reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) over the last four years.

1-2. Canine topical treatments and other topical insecticides

Believe it or not, owners often accidentally apply dog flea and tick treatments on their cats. In some cases, cats have even developed signs of poisoning after being in close contact (sleeping near or grooming) with a dog that has recently been treated with a flea/tick topical medication. Initial signs of intoxication may appear within a few hours but can take 24 to 72 hour to show up. Full body tremors are the most common, though seizures may also occur. Cats may also have an adverse reaction to topical insecticides specifically designed for cats. In general, topical flea control products applied according to the label directions do not cause problems. If signs such as irritation of the skin or hypersensitivity appear, wash the product off with a mild detergent. If a cat licks the applied product, hyper-salivation, agitation and occasionally vomiting, may develop.

3. Venlafazine

Venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR-Wyeth) is an antidepressant available in tablets and capsules. Cats seem to be big fans of venlafazine and readily eat capsules containing the drug. Although this is not a common household drug, it can cause serious illness if ingested. Clinical signs include dilated pupils, vomiting, tachypnea (rapid breathing), tachycardia (rapid heart rate), ataxia and agitation. Signs generally begin within 1 - 8 hours after ingesting the medication. The prognosis is good with timely treatment and close monitoring.

4. Glow sticks and jewelry

Glow sticks and glow jewelry including plastic bracelets, necklaces and wands that contain a liquid that glow in the dark also pose a serious danger. "Glow-wear" is popular throughout the summer, especially around the Fourth of July and at Halloween. Cats frequently bite into the jewelry, but due to the extremely unpleasant taste of the liquid chemical, they generally don't ingest more than a small amount. Almost immediately after biting into a piece of glow jewelry, a cat exhibits signs of a taste reaction, including hyper salivation, agitation, and, occasionally, vomiting. The behavioral changes are likely due to the cat's reacting to the unpleasant taste. A tasty treat such as milk, liquid from a tuna fish can or other palatable food can ameliorate the taste reaction. Remove any liquid on the fur with a wet washcloth to prevent re-exposure.

5. Lilies

Though beautiful to look at, lilies can pose a threat to cats. While many plants are called lilies, cats can develop acute renal failure after ingesting Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, Tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies and Day lilies. Within 2 - 4 hours after ingesting any part of the plant (including the pollen), vomiting and depression can occur. Often, the cat seems to recover only to deteriorate rapidly about 24 to 72 hours after the exposure. The symptoms that appear include frequent urination, frequent drinking of water and more severe depression. The prognosis is good with prompt, aggressive treatment.

6. Liquid Potpourri

Who doesn't like a pleasant smelling house? Unfortunately, liquid potpourri is hazardous to cats. Cats, ever the curious species, may lick the product from the container or from their fur if exposed to a spill. The liquid may contain high concentrations of detergents, essential oils or a combination of both. Clinical signs of ingestion include upset stomach, drooling, depression and hypotension. If skin or eye exposure occurs, skin irritation and ulceration along with severe corneal ulceration can occur.

7. NSAIDs - Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Cats may be exposed to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) either by owner administration or, more rarely, by self-ingestion. Although NSAIDs are a group of medications, the most common ones are carprofen (Rimadyl), ibuprofen, deracoxib, naproxen (Aleve), etodolac, meloxicam and indomethacin. Ingestion can cause stomach upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, ulceration, bleeding and ulcer perforation. Acute renal failure, seizures and comas have been associated with higher doses. In general, cats have a low tolerance for NSAIDs. For example, cats are thought to be at least twice as sensitive to ibuprofen as dogs. Because of this sensitivity, most exposures require emergency, aggressive treatment.

8. Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen, most commonly known as Tylenol, is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve pain and reduce fevers. Most often, owners attempting to help relieve their cat's discomfort, wind up causing harm by administering acetaminophen as a pain reliever. Cats should never be given acetaminophen as a pain reliever. Just one pill can cause significant tissue damage in cats. Signs of intoxication develop quickly and can include salivation, vomiting, weakness, abdominal pain and fluid build up (edema) in the face or paws.

9. Rodenticides (rat poison)

Since rodents and cats are all mammals, it makes sense that substances highly poisonous to mice, for example, would be just as lethal to cats. Rodenticides are highly toxic and any such poisons designed to kill small mammals need to be carefully stored away from curious kitties. Also, since cats can be natural rodent hunters, it would be wise to let nature take its course as opposed to exposing your cat to a deadly toxin.

The most common poisoning seen in veterinary practice is that of the anti-coagulant kind. Anti-coagulant rodenticides have ingredient names like warfarin, fumarin, diphacinone and bromadiolone. These poisons act by interfering with a cat's ability to utilize vitamin K. Without vitamin K, a cat's blood is unable to clot when necessary, which can ultimately cause severe blood loss, anemia, hemorrhage and death. Generally, clinical signs are not seen until 3 to 5 days after the cat has ingested the poison. Symptoms resulting from intoxication are weakness, difficulty breathing, pale mucous membranes, bruising and bleeding from the nose. Other types of rodenticides can cause neurological signs such as incoordination and seizures as well as cardiac failure.

If accidental ingestion of rat poison is suspected, contact your veterinarian immediately, even if your cat is showing no obvious signs of being ill. Be sure, if possible, to bring the poison container to the veterinary hospital in order to determine the specific rodenticide ingested. Early recognition is critical, as some toxicities can be treated successfully if caught early and treated appropriately.

10. Fertilizer

Cats, the perennial groomers, often lick their paws, especially after walking outdoors. Because fertilizers are usually a combination of ingredients, several toxic outcomes are possible. In general, the ingredients are poorly absorbed and most clinical signs are related to gastrointestinal irritation showing up as vomiting, hyper-salivation, diarrhea or fatigue. The best way to avoid illness or injury is to keep your cat inside while treating your lawn and wait a little bit before letting him or her out again.

Take a Bite Outta Your Dog’s Aggression

Scared that your little Fido is one tail-pull away from his first bite?Worried to bring spot to the playground for fear he could snap at any moment? Aggression is the most common— and troublesome— behavioral problem in dogs. In fact, millions of Americans are bit by dogs each year, and the number just keeps rising. In 2015, there were 34 reported fatal dog attacks in the U.S., with pit pulls accounting for over 82 percent of them, and rottweilers securing a #2 position with approximately 9 percent.

Though certain dogs are preceded by their dangerous reputations, it is important to remember that all dogs are not created equally. Some dogs were bred as hunters, while others served to guard, protect or even fight. Although most dogs are not currently used for their original purposes, still, many dogs are predisposed to act in certain ways. Nevertheless, it is important not to judge a dog entirely by his breed. Individual temperaments can vary greatly among similar breeds, and each dog is a unique product of their own environment and upbringing.

Just as every dog is different, so are the signs of oncoming aggression. However, there will typically be an element of protection or possession involved. Rage could also be attributed to fear or a build-up of annoyance or pain. How many times could you take getting your ears pulled before you snapped?

Aggressive Dog

Here are a few signs and behavioral sequences that your dog may become aggressive:

  1. Becomes very still and stiff
  2. Starts with a low and guttural bark or growl that serves as a potential warning
  3. Starts lunging forward or making thrash movements
  4. Snarling or showing teeth

Learning how to deal with these aggressive tendencies is one of the most important skills you can develop as a pet owner.

Here are a few recommendations to help control your dog’s aggression:

  1. Learn your dog’s triggers! Pay attention to things, places, people and movements that trigger your dog’s aggression. Then, reward your dog when he acts appropriately in these situations.
  2. Contact your veterinarian. If you notice repetitive aggression, it may be wise to seek veterinary attention. Your dog could be acting up due to a medical condition that can be treated. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting your dog the treatment, medications or attention he needs. On the other hand, certain medications could also be affecting your dog’s moods, and this too could be the source of aggression.  
  3. Change food and exercise regime. Just as eating healthy food and exercising helps improve moods in humans, the same may be true of your fury friend.
  4. Hire a qualified professional to help you retrain and coach and curb his aggressive habits. You can hire a personal trainer or look into classes in your area.
  5. Limit exposure to situations and people that trigger your dog’s aggressive tendencies. Although this is not a “cure,” helping to eliminate the potential for aggression is a step in the right direction. Whether your dog will act up is not always predictable, but if there are certain triggers you know are risky, try to avoid them whenever possible.

With more and more people bringing fury friends into their households, it is increasingly important to understand the symptoms and signs of aggression. So, learn your dog’s triggers, and be on your way to unleashing a more predictable, calm and collected Fido.  

Urine Exam

You can learn a lot about the health of your pet from his or her urine. This smelly yellow liquid provides a variety of clues that can help your veterinarian solve the mystery of your pet's health.

Like people, pets should have yellow urine that has a characteristic odor. Most pets develop a pattern and urinate with the same frequency each day.

Changes in frequency of urination, blood in the urine and pain during urination are common signs of infection and/or irritation. Most pet owners are very good at noticing these signs.

Your pet's urine can be collected at home or in the veterinary hospital. The 'free catch' method for collecting urine can be done at home. When walking your dog, slip a plastic bowl or container under his leg when he stops to urinate. To speed up the process, you can feed your dog several ice cubes before leaving for the walk. Free catch does not require intensive labor, money, or time, nor does it upset your pet. There are some disadvantages to the free catch method. The free catch method does not provide sterile urine and may be contaminated by bacteria from the environment. If the urine is not transported immediately to the hospital, some of the tests may yield inaccurate results.

Urine Collection Vial

Urine Collection Vial

Your veterinarian or a veterinary technician can obtain a fresh urine sample from your pet by catheterizing the bladder. This collection procedure requires the animal's cooperation and often requires sedation.

Once the urine is obtained, the first thing examined is the sediment. Sediment refers to the cells floating in the urine. An increased number of white blood cells signals inflammation and helps with the diagnosis of a bladder infection. With bladder infections, large numbers of bacteria may also be present.

Canine Urine Sediment

Urine Sediment of a Dog.
White Blood Cells and Bacteria are Shown

Due to the long length of the urethra, female dogs are more prone to urinary tract infections than male dogs. Diabetic animals have an increased amount of glucose in the urine, which may promote bacterial growth and cause infection.

Animals can form bladder stones due to a genetic condition, if urine flow is decreased or if the bladder wall is irritated. Stones can sometimes be seen on x-rays and they can often be located during ultrasound examination. Surgery is usually required to remove large bladder stones.

Bladder Stones

X-Ray Showing 2 Bladder Stones

Examination of the urine is also important for diagnosing kidney disease. The specific gravity (of the urine) compares the weight of urine to the weight of water, detecting functional problems with the kidneys. The specific gravity indicates how well the animal is concentrating its urine. If the specific gravity is low (approaching that of water), the kidneys may not be eliminating the body's waste products properly into the urine. Instead of eliminating the waste products into the urine, they accumulate in the blood stream and cause problems.

Various minerals can solidify in urine to form casts and crystals. The presence of calcium oxalate crystals, for example, can be found as a result of ethylene glycol (antifreeze) toxicity. Ammonium biurate crystals are red flags for liver disease. The most commonly found crystals are triple phosphate (magnesium ammonium phosphate) and can signify a bladder infection.

Urinary Cast

Various Urinary crystals (A) Calcium Oxalate Crystals (B) Uric Acid Crystals
(C) Triple Phosphate Crystals with Amorphous Phosphates (D) Cystine Crystals

The kidney is composed of a series of tubules that aid in making urine. Substances are either absorbed back into the body or excreted in the tubules as urine. If casts are found in the urine, this may indicate a problem with the tubules in the kidney. Casts are solid clumps of protein cells or red and white blood cells. These cells collect in the tubules and are shed sporadically. These casts have a tube-like shape and can be seen under a microscope.

Urinary Cast

Large Granular Urinary Cast

Urinary Cast

Red Cell Granular Cast and Numerous Erythrocytes.
Early Stages of Acute Kidney Disease

Urine is so much more than a waste product. Your pet's urine test means a lot for his or her health. It provides many interesting diagnostic clues that help determine what's going on inside your pet!

Thanksgiving: What's Safe to Share With Your Pet

Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for gathering around the dinner table with family and friends to share in your thanks for all that you have and all that you’re about to consume. For many pet owners, Fido and Mittens are valued members of the family and saying ‘no’ to their pleading eyes may be something you skimp on given the special occasion.

You may already know of the Thanksgiving foods to avoid feeding your pet, for various health and safety reasons. Those foods include raw or bone-ridden bits of turkey, raw bread dough and cake batter, walnuts, mushrooms, onions and garlic, sage and nutmeg, and, of course, chocolate. There are, however, some foods which should be perfectly safe to share with most pets.

Thanksgiving with your pet

Turkey – In small amounts, and without bones or excess skin and fat, cooked turkey is just fine to feed your pets under the table.

Pumpkin – Again, in small amounts, pumpkin is safe for pets and can even quell an upset stomach if they’ve overdone it on other tasty Thanksgiving fare. With a bounty of beta carotene, vitamins and fiber, pumpkin also helps with digestion. And, if you’re trying to help your pet slim down, it’s low-calorie!

Sweet Potatoes – If your pets are at your feet during meal preparation, a taste of sweet potato won’t hurt them. Just be sure it’s before you add any of the sweet deliciousness, as pets will have a hard time digesting it. Cooked and plain is the way to go.

Veggies – Most pets enjoy the satisfying crunch of raw vegetables. Carrots and broccoli are packed with beneficial vitamins.

Even though it’s Thanksgiving, remember: everything in moderation, especially for your pets. If your kitty or pooch does overindulge, they could develop a serious upset stomach, diarrhea or an inflammatory condition of the pancreas. Try to keep your pets on their regular diets through the holiday and supplement the above Thanksgiving goodies only as small treats.