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Newsletter

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Introduction

The veterinarians and staff at Apple Valley Animal Hospital 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!





Earth Day: How to Make Your Dog More Green

Let's face it: Dogs have big carbon pawprints, as we all do. Because they are largely carnivorous, their toll on the environment is nearly as large as that of a human, but there are ways to create a more environmentally sustainable pooch.

What is a Carbon Pawprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere just by living our daily lives. Environmental groups have been watching the rising amount of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and urging everyone to cut back where they can. The biggest emitters of CO2 are automobiles, factories and coal-fired power plants. But even the family dog creates its share of harmful greenhouse gases. Some report that the dog is as big an emitter as the family SUV.

The Carnivorous Diet

Your dog's meat-loving diet is the biggest factor in his carbon emissions. Beef cows emit methane, an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Even chickens and lambs are not raised in an eco-friendly way, and those heavy bags of dry food and cans of meaty foods have to travel a very long way to get to your door.

The solution? Make your own dog food using locally grown or organic vegetables and vegetable proteins. Your veterinarian can help you determine the exact mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat to keep the dog happy and healthy, and can suggest vitamins and minerals that should be included.

Consider how much healthier homemade meals can be for your dog, especially considering the recent recalls of commercial pet food. Toxins and salmonella introduced in the manufacturing process poisoned and sickened many pets. Your homemade dog food also won't have chemicals and preservatives.

If this seems too complicated, consider buying smaller packages of locally made dog food, or you can switch to meat sources other than beef, which have less impact on the environment.


Other Environmental Impacts

When buying pet products, look for eco-friendly brands that limit the amount of harmful chemicals that will eventually enter the air or water. Dog shampoos often contain environmental pollutants such as sodium lauryl sulfate. Read labels. If you are buying dog toys, avoid plastic and synthetic products and look for recycled and recyclable goods. There are many available products made from natural fibers such as organic cotton or hemp. Dogs love cotton stuffed animal toys they can toss around, but make sure they are tough enough not to break apart.

Safe Flea and Tick Treatments

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently published a warning about flea control products. Their research suggests that some products pose a risk of cancer for children. If you have young children in the household, ask your vet about safe handling instructions for your pest products. You may wish to consider some alternate products available from your veterinarian. You can also read the NRDC's list of safer flea control products.

Pooper Scoopers

When walking your dog in a city park or along suburban sidewalks, most dog owners know to pick up after their dogs. Not scooping the poop is irresponsible. If you leave dog droppings, the bacteria can contaminate nearby water reservoirs and wells. If you are picking up after your dog, shop for biodegradable plastic bags.

Control Pet Populations

Overpopulation of dogs, and a surplus of unwanted dogs, is not a healthy situation for the planet. Spaying and neutering your dog is the eco-conscious thing to do. An unwanted litter of puppies creates a huge environmental impact, as much as a fleet of SUVs. Consider visiting a shelter or rescue organization when it comes time to add a dog to your family.


Small steps such as these can make a difference, especially when practices become widespread. You don't have to give up the dog to be environmentally responsible. If we all do our part, we can make pet ownership sustainable.

Say Thank You: World Veterinary Day is April 29

Saturday, April 29 is World Veterinary Day for 2017. Started by the World Veterinary Association, World Veterinary Day was started to honor veterinarians and spread awareness of the One Health Concept, which “recognizes that the health and well-being of animals, humans and the ecosystem are interconnected, and depend on effective and sustained collaboration between human and animal-focused disciplines.”

But what does your veterinarian actually do?



If you think veterinary medicine is about animals, you’re only partially right. Animals don’t call veterinarians. People call veterinarians. The vast range of people and places needing veterinary services include research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, dairies, swine farms, public health departments, feed industry, livestock industry and pet owners. Veterinary medicine is a great field because it encompasses so many different areas.

Most people don’t realize how closely human medicine is linked to veterinary medicine. Lifesaving medical advances, in areas from vaccine development to heart surgery, could not have been made without the use of research animals. People may also be unaware of the public services that involve veterinarians. Government agencies from the FDA to state health departments rely on veterinarians to track rabies, foodborne illnesses and diseases transmitted from animals to people.



Of course, there are many benefits to working closely with animals. One of the pleasures of being a veterinarian is that people who own animals love their animals, whether the animals are horses, pigs, iguanas or puppies. You are generally dealing with people with empathy who like what they are doing. They recognize that what is best for the animal is also usually best for them.

For more information about World Veterinary Day, check out the World Veterinary Association’s website.

Responsible Cat Ownership

Despite their reputation for being low maintenance creatures, cats are nonetheless a huge responsibility. Cats are fascinating creatures with very distinctive and instinctive behaviors. They are innately curious, mischievous and independent. They love to climb and stalk, they scratch, and they often mark their territory. They can also be very reserved and dignified. Whether your cat is a stray adopted from a shelter or a purebred, it still deserves and requires the same care and attention. Owning a cat requires you to give understanding, affection, shelter, food and general care. In return, you receive loving companionship. Modern research has shown that owning a pet can have measurable health benefits. By providing responsible and quality care for your cat, you are also giving yourself the benefit of a healthier life.

All cats are unique

Bringing Your New Cat Home

Being prepared is the name of the game. Before bringing your new playmate and companion home, you should be sure to have basic supplies set up and ready for its arrival.

Food - Because the food you select going to be your cat's sole source of nutrition, it can have a large impact on his or her health and well-being. Ask friends who own cats or speak to your veterinarian before deciding which food to choose. Often times your cat might choose for you. It is important to note what kind of food your cat was being fed previously, especially if he or she was thriving. If a food change is necessary, gradually transition to the new diet over a 7 to 10 day period by adding more of the new food and less of the old food until the transition is complete. Contrary to popular belief, cats should not drink milk. Milk may often cause diarrhea due to lactose intolerance. If you have a very young kitten who needs milk, specially formulated kitten milk replacement is available through your veterinarian.

Litter Box Materials - Purchase a litter box, cat litter and scoop. Make sure to choose a pan large enough for a full-grown cat and deep enough so your cat does not scatter litter when he or she scratches it. If you're bringing home a kitten, make sure the box is small enough so he or she can access it easily. There are a variety of litters available, so you may have to try a few different kinds to determine which one you and your cat like best. If you have more than one cat, a general rule of thumb is to provide one more litter box than the number of cats in the household. For example, if you have four cats, you should have five litter boxes. Even in a one cat household, it is a good idea to have a litter box on each floor.

Bed - From the beginning, you should determine where you would like your cat to sleep. It can be very difficult to break the habit of sharing your bed once the habit is formed, especially for the cat. Generally, cats like small, quiet places to curl up and snooze. For warmth, try lining a cardboard box, with sides high enough to block a draft, with an old cushion or any soft, washable material. To encourage your cat to use the bed, put an old item of your clothing in the bed to help him or her feel secure. Often times, cats will choose their own beds, such as laundry baskets full of laundry, so it is wise to establish where your cat can and cannot sleep before finding cat hair all over your clothes.

Carrier - These come in various styles and materials. You should select one that is large enough so your cat can comfortably stand up and turn around when he or she is full-grown. It should be well ventilated, secure and easy to clean.

Scratching Post - Scratching is one of the most innate cat behaviors. Scratching helps cats clean away dead scales from their nails and allows them to mark their territory (both visually and with their scent). Having a scratching post in the house provides your cat with an acceptable target for his or her scratching, as opposed to your new couch. The post should be sturdy and tall enough so your adult cat can stretch out to full length. There are a number of colors, styles and materials for scratching posts, so it should be very easy to find one that suits your home. If you notice your cat snagging or getting stuck to the scratching post (or your clothes), it might be time to trim his or her nails. Ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the proper technique and to give you tips on proper nail care.

Have your cat scratch a post, not the couch

I.D./Collar - Even an indoor cat should wear a collar with an up-to-date identification tag in the event that he or she escapes outdoors. Make sure the collar is made of flexible or breakaway material to lessen the likelihood of choking if it becomes entangled in something. You may also want to explore another, more reliable identification option with your veterinarian, such as microchip identification.

Grooming Tools - Cats are notoriously clean and spend many hours a day grooming themselves. It is still important; however, that you regularly groom your cat to help remove excess hair and dander. This helps lessen the likelihood of hairballs. Establishing grooming as part of your cat's routine and rewarding him or her after each "session" makes it a pleasant experience for both you and the cat.

Toys - Cats play with ANYTHING that moves, rustles, rolls or sways. Many of these "toys" are safe household items such as empty plastic thread spools, unshelled walnuts, cardboard toilet paper tubes or waxed paper balls. Cat nip toys, as well as feathers or something with bells, work well, too. Although cats tend to enjoy playing with string, yarn or tinsel, ingesting any of these could cause severe gastrointestinal problems.

Socialization of Your New Cat

When bringing your cat or kitten home, make sure the house is quiet and allow your cat to settle in and explore without too much interference. Keep your new cat or kitten confined to a particular part of the house or a particular room and definitely keep him or her indoors for the first few weeks. Once your cat has settled into its new home, the socialization process should begin. Introduce him or her to neighbors and visitors, allowing time for the cat to get acquainted with all the normal household noises and activities. Other pets should be introduced to him or her slowly and only under close supervision. It may take some time for a pet to get used to the new arrival "invading" the house and realize that the new cat is staying!

Regular Health Care

Establishing regular health care is an important element of your cat's well being. Regardless of your cat's age or where he or she was acquired, regular veterinary exams are crucial. These visits generally include vaccinations, inspection of the eyes, ears, mouth, abdomen and coat, as well as heart and breathing patterns. It is during these examinations that questions about your cat's health can be answered, even if it is a minor issue.

Dental exams are also an important part of your cat's routine health care. Plaque buildup is the most common dental problem in cats and can lead to deposits of hardened calculus on the tooth surface. If plaque is left unchecked, it can cause inflammation of the gums. This condition can worsen until the teeth eventually loosen and fall out. To prevent this, talk to your veterinarian about regular dental care for your cat.

Unless you have a pet that you intend to use for breeding, it is very important to have your cat spayed or neutered. Check with your veterinarian to determine the best time for the procedure. This helps prevent unwanted litters, manage pet overpopulation, prevent undesirable behaviors (urinating or "spraying") and may improve your cat's overall disposition. Spaying also eliminates the risk of uterine infections, lessens the chance of hormonal imbalances and reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering lessens the likelihood of testicular cancer and unwanted behaviors such as aggression and "roaming."

Holiday Time

If you are traveling, you need to consider how best to care for your cat while you are away. Cats can be safely left at home alone for up to two or three days, provided they are left with enough food and fresh water and have access to a clean litter box. If you decide to leave your cat home alone, it's a good idea to have a neighbor or pet sitter check in on him or her daily. If traveling for a long period of time, consider hiring a pet sitter or board your cat at a pet boarding facility. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a respected place to board your cat and be sure to ask for a tour of the facility. It is important to see where your cat is going to be living while you are away.

Ultimately, as you get to know your cat and form a lasting bond and friendship, you will become the best judge of what's best for him or her. Providing a caring and loving home will help to ensure the health and well-being of your cat, which will, in turn, benefit your health and well-being. If a question regarding the care of your cat arises, never hesitate to call your veterinarian for advice.

Training Your Dog To Come

It will be to your benefit to start using this command when your puppy is seven weeks old. The earlier you start letting him know that when you say "come" and he does, the better. Always encourage your puppy to come with enthusiastic praise and lots of encouragement. Keep in mind that no two dogs or puppies are alike, so you will have to adjust your training methods according to the individual dog.

Here boy!

Coming to you when called is a very important command for your dog to learn. The “come” command can prevent your dog from getting hit by a car and allows him or her an opportunity for freedom. Once your dog learns this command, you know you can call him back—in the park, on hiking trails, or anywhere.

Training your dog to come to you every time when called is much more difficult than it sounds. You dog learns very quickly that he can outrun you and that it's more fun to run away. To train your dog, you have to convince him that you're more attractive than even temporary freedom. Training sessions should be short and rewards should always be given.

Until you are confident that your dog completely understands and obeys the come command, it's best to limit his off-leash experiences to places where you won't find it necessary to call him back. A fenced-in yard or small fenced-in park area is ideal, since there's no risk of escape or injury if your dog doesn't return when called.

Reinforcement

It's best to begin training your dog at a very early age, before he becomes fimiliar with total freedom. Restraint and positive reinforcement are the keys to behavior modification.

Since you need something for capturing your dog, should he decide to run away, a lightweight check-type lead is useful and can be purchased at almost any pet supply shop.

Begin training at an early age

Food is an excellent positive reinforcement for most kinds of training. The treat should be given immediately, in order to reinforce the positive behavior. When you feel that your pet is reliable about coming to you, give the reward intermittently. There should, however, be some kind of reward each time your dog successfully completes the command, such as praise, hugs and food.

Gradual Training

Begin by kneeling on the ground and calling your dog's name. Call his name cheerfully, never shouting his name in a hostile manner. Try taking a few steps away from him and see if he follows.

Each time your dog comes, reward him, increase the distance, and start over. Keep these sessions short and fun. Sessions should last 5-10 minutes and they should end on a positive note. Don't get frustrated (your dog will pick up on this immediately) and don't expect too much for the first few days. If your dog seems to be losing interest, stop the session after an easy success. Eventually, when you feel your dog is doing well, try him out in the park or another new place. Remember, don't remove your dog's lead unless you know that he will definitely return to you.

Training Tip

If you scold your dog for not coming, he can associate your impatience with you losing your temper. You need to remain cheerful and enthusiastic because if you don't, coming to you is the last thing on his mind.

VIDEO - Why Do Cats Get Less Medical Care?

Experts believe that cats and people have co-existed for more than 10,000 years. That's a long time to get to know each other pretty well. So, if we have this great relationship, why do we our feline friends get less medical care than our dogs?


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