Newsletter The veterinarians and staff at the Animal Hospital of Sayreville 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

May is National Chip Your Pet Month: Is Your Pet Protected?

Each year, millions of dogs and cats are lost. In fact, this disaster strikes nearly one-third of all pet-owning families. Of the millions of cats and dogs that are lost, only 10 percent are ever identified and returned to their owners. More pets lives are lost because owners did not identify them than from all infectious diseases combined.

All pets should wear traditional collars with identification and rabies vaccination tags. A traditional collar, however, is not enough. These collars are often worn loosely and are easily removed. Cat collars are designed to break off if the animal is caught in a tree branch. When the traditional collar is lost, removed or breaks off, nothing is left to identify the pet unless the pet has a microchip.

Microchips are rapidly becoming a very popular method for identifying pets. Once the microchip is inserted, the pet is identified for life. Microchips are safe, unalterable and permanent identification for pets. The microchip is a tiny computer chip or transponder about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades of a cat or dog, in much the same way that a vaccine is administered. The microchip is coded with a unique 10-digit code. Each microchip that is inserted contains a unique code, specific to the individual pet.

Inserting the microchip is simple and causes minimal or no discomfort. The microchip comes pre-loaded in a syringe, ready for insertion. The entire procedure takes less than 10 seconds. Post-injection reactions are very rare and the encapsulated microchip remains in place permanently.

The scanner is a hand-held device used to detect the message encoded in the microchip. The scanner is passed over the animal, paying particular attention to the area between the shoulder blades. If a microchip is present, the 10-digit number (encoded in the capsule) is read by the scanner. Scanners are provided to animal control, humane shelters and other rescue organizations so that all stray pets are scanned and those with microchips are reunited with their owners. Veterinarians can also purchase scanners for use in their hospital.

The veterinary hospital where the microchip is implanted records the pet’s information and its unique microchip identification number. When a lost pet is found and scanned, the veterinary hospital is immediately contacted. Since most veterinary hospitals are not open 24 hours a day, it may take some time before you are notified. In addition to this standard registration, you can register your pet in your own name for a charge of $15-20. By doing this, as soon as your pet is found, you are notified.

Along with the additional registration fee, we recommend that you update your personal information with the microchip database on a regular basis. It is also advisable to have your veterinarian test the microchip on an annual basis in order to make sure that it is properly transmitting data.

Safe Garden for your Pets

Can I have your attention?

With the summer months ahead, many of us have gardening on the mind. But your green thumb doesn’t have to come at Fido’s expense. Here are some tips to ensure that your garden is kept pet-friendly this summer:

  1. Avoid sweet-smelling mulch: parasites tend to thrive in mulch, and sweet-smelling cocoa mulch contains toxic ingredients if ingested by dogs and cats.
  2. Use nontoxic plants and fertilizers: Look over the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic plants in order to determine whether your plants are hazardous to Fido’s health (such as the popular azaleas, Easter lilies and rhododendron). This also applies to fertilizers and any pesticides you may use.
  3. Watch out for freshly watered lawn: Try not to let your pet walk on your lawn or garden areas after watering it. Chemicals you have applied can stick to your pet’s paws, which they may proceed to lick and ingest.
  4. Arm against fleas, ticks and heartworm:  Summer brings in the bugs, so make sure to take preventive measures against fleas, ticks and heartworm. Visit your local veterinarians for suggestions and treatments.
  5. Watch for Allergies: With all the summer pollen in the air, watch for signs that your pets may be struggling right along with you. After taking your daily walks, wipe your animal’s paws down with a towel in order to keep any unwanted pollen out of the house.

With summer fun comes summer struggles. But with these few easy tips in mind, it may make it a whole lot easier – and healthier – for both you and your pet.

All About Lyme Disease

It is interesting to note that Lyme Disease has become the most common tick-borne disease in North America and has become a significant threat to public health. Not only can you get Lyme Disease - your dog can also become infected if bitten by an infected tick. Tick eggs live in the grass and weeds your dog may run through on family outings, daily walks or during regular daily activities. Once attached to your furry canine companion, the eggs of the tick infest not only your dog, but also his bedding and, ultimately, his home.

First discovered in humans in 1975 and later reported in dogs in 1984, Lyme Disease or Borreliosis, continues to sweep across the country, effecting more victims each year. This disease is caused by the transmission of a spirochete (bacteria-like organism) known as Borrelia burgdorferi. Carriers of these bacteria are certain species of ticks, small parasites that live off the blood of other creatures. Ticks that carry this spirochete are called deer ticks. When an infected tick bites, the bacteria causing Lyme Disease is then transferred into the host's blood.

Lyme Disease is prevalent in North America and may exist in any region where Borrelia burgdorferi infected ticks live. To keep your pets and yourself safe, you should be wary of any tick you find attached to either yourself or your dog. Studies have shown that migratory birds have helped disburse the infected ticks, contributing to the spread of this disease. In addition, dogs and other animals that go into infested areas have the potential for carrying the infected ticks back into their own habitat. If you travel during the warm summer months and plan to take your dog with you, exercise caution in secluded or heavily wooded areas. These are natural environments for ticks and the Lyme Disease bacteria.

The signs of Lyme Disease are similar in both dogs and humans. Signs in dogs are not as obvious as in human Lyme Disease. Once infected, your dog may experience arthritis, sudden pain or lameness, fever, loss of energy, loss of appetite and depression. To properly diagnose Lyme Disease, blood tests may be performed to search for the disease fighting proteins known as antibodies after the symptoms of Lyme Disease have been observed. Sadly though, blood tests being used to diagnose this condition are often inconclusive.

Using broad-spectrum antibiotics may treat Lyme Disease in dogs, but treatment may not always be successful. Pets may need to be on medication for a long period of time and may experience a relapse. Vaccines available through your veterinarian have been developed after years of careful testing for both effectiveness and safety. While no vaccine is ever 100 percent effective, the canine Lyme Disease vaccine has proven in studies to be somewhat effective. Vaccination is recommended for pets that are taken hunting, camping or for pets that live in areas where Lyme Disease is known to exist. Following an initial series of vaccines given weeks apart, your pet should then receive an annual booster vaccine.

The tick life cycle determines when the disease is transmitted. Both the nymph stage and the adult stage of the tick can transmit the disease. The small nymph stage (of the deer tick) feeds on dogs, deer and humans during late spring and early summer. The nymphs are extremely small (about the size of a skin mole) and very difficult to see in your pet's fur. In the fall, the nymphs transform into adults and feed on larger mammals such as the white-tailed deer. They mate, lay eggs, then die.

In the Northern United States, the potential for exposure to ticks is moderate to high from April to November, but the risk of Lyme Disease for a dog varies by season and the area of the country. The best course of action to protect both your dog and yourself from ticks and the potential of Lyme Disease is prevention. Your veterinarian can recommend products that will kill and repel ticks. In addition, a long lasting yard spray in the doghouse and under bushes will usually kill both tick eggs and larvae. In areas with no winter freeze to kill ticks, treating with a yard spray will probably need to be done twice a year.

To further protect your pet, consider the following precautions:

• Check your dog after being outside, especially in grassy or brushy areas

• Brush your dog after each outing

• If a tick is attached to the dog's skin, remove it carefully with tweezers, washing the affected bite area and your hands afterward

• Use baths, dips and flea/tick collars as recommended

• Keep the grass and brush cut where your dog plays

Discuss vaccination against Lyme Disease with your veterinarian.

Preparing For Your New Kitten

You will need to have the following items on hand before bringing home your new kitten:

A litterbox that is the right size for the age of the kitten. Avoid boxes that are too deep and thus might be difficult for your new kitten to climb into.

Litter for the litterbox - you may be surprised at how picky some kittens can be. Some cats prefer the very fine grain litter and some prefer the coarser types. Don't give up if your kitten does not seem pleased at first. Most kittens will definitely let you know when you have hit upon the right mixture. The breeder can let you know what the kitten is used to.

Scratching Posts (or some type of cat furniture) - They are invaluable in training your kitten to avoid harming your furniture. Scratching their claws is a healthy, natural instinct for cats, and providing them with the right place to do that will keep you and your kitten happy. Be aware that some cats prefer rough surfaces like sisal rope white others go crazy for plain old carpet (the kind on your floor, if you don't have a scratching post!).

Grooming Tools suitable for the breed of your kitten - A brush and comb are indispensable for a long-haired kitten/cat, or a flea comb or special brush for short-haired cats. You'll also need clippers for their nails (human nail clippers are not recommended). Purchase clippers made especially for cats. These can be found in most quality pet stores. Trimming the nails is an important part of feline grooming. We also recommend discussing teeth brushing with your veterinarian. This requires a special toothbrush and toothpaste.

Food and Water Bowls - Believe it or not, there is a difference even in the type of food and water bowls you provide for your kitten. Certain types of plastic, wood and even some types of ceramic bowls may contain tiny cracks that can harbor potentially harmful bacteria. Most professionals recommend using glass and stainless steel food and water bowls. These bowls should be cleaned regularly (the dishwasher is great). Make sure the bowls are not too high for your kitten to reach.

TOYS, TOYS, TOYS - Just as human babies love to play, so do kittens. It is their survival instinct and throughout their lives, kittens and cats emulate hunting in their play. Providing them with suitable toys helps to ensure they fulfill this need. You will need to be very selective in the type of toys as kittens do love to chew and nibble. Avoid purchasing toys with small strings or beads that can be swallowed easily. Toys don't have to be expensive to be appreciated by kittens and cats.

Cat Carrier (Pet Taxi) - You'll need to have a carrier for safely traveling with your kitten, as well as trips to the vet. There is also a new "Pet Seat" available, which secures your kitten/cat (up to 30 pounds) in your car, allowing for more interaction between you and your kitty.

Food - Check with the breeder or veterinarian to be sure you have the proper food on hand. Changes in diet and water, even litter and environment, can cause minor diarrhea and other problems. It doesn't hurt to pick up a few bottles of Pedialyte liquid to keep in the cupboard in case of diarrhea and/or dehydration.

Bedding - A nice cozy bed is a great idea for the new member of the family. Your kitten will soon know that this is her/his special place. Choose a bed that is well constructed and one that is machine washable.

Providing Great Care For Your Senior Cat

Older cats have special health needs and may require more attention and care than younger kitties. The aging process varies between species. For example, if you own a senior dog, your cat may not be considered a senior, even if they are the same age. You should consider your cat a senior around 10 years of age. As your cat ages, changes occur in his physical condition that warrant more frequent visits to the veterinarian. If medical problems are recognized and treated when they are first detected, the treatment may be easier for your cat and less costly for you. Twice-a-year wellness examinations are recommended in order to diagnose medical problems during the early stages.

A geriatric exam is more extensive than a simple check-up and includes a complete physical exam, oral and rectal examinations and a recording of body weight and body condition. The veterinarian will also examine your cat's ears, eyes and various internal organs. Some laboratory work may be done, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exam and perhaps endocrine blood tests and other complementary examinations. Establishing a base line is an added benefit and can ultimately help, should there be any changes, even small ones, to your cat's health.

As cats grow older, their organs may become less efficient and they may be less resistant to infections and other diseases. As a responsible cat owner, you want your cat to remain healthy and active for as long as possible. It is important to be aware of any condition that may warrant our attention.

As your cat ages, changes occur in his or her physical condition that warrant more frequent trips to the veterinarian.

Simple Tips for Caring for Your Aging Cat

Diet - Cats are carnivores, and even older cats still need plenty of protein. In fact, sometimes they need more protein as the digestive organs become less efficient

Joints - As your cat ages, joint pain and stiffness may develop. This may mean that your cat becomes less active and his or her energy level may decrease. Your cat may become tired more easily and want to nap more often. Muscle tone tends to reduce, which may further reduce your cat's ability to run, jump and climb. This decrease in muscle tone and exercise also contributes to the stiffening of joints.

Senses - Hearing, sight and smell can all become less acute with age and you may need to make allowances for these changes. Watch these changes. Unfortunately, hearing aids and contact lenses still have yet to be fit for cats. Be cognizant of indications of impaired sight, such as bumping into furniture, or loss of hearing, such as if your cat stops reacting to its name or familiar sounds. Eye infections, cataracts, decreased night vision, or even blindness is common; however, these can also be symptoms of a larger problem.

Dental - Older cats are more likely to develop tooth and gum conditions. If your cat has sore gums or loose teeth, he or she may be reluctant to eat, or it may cause food to drop out of his or her mouth. Gum disease not only leads to loss of teeth, but can also cause heart and kidney infections if bacteria enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums. Examine your cat's mouth regularly and ask us for advice if the teeth or gums do not look healthy.

Urinary - Urinary incontinence or inappropriate urination is common in an aging cat. Inappropriate urination may also be the result of a urinary tract disorder, kidney problem or symptomatic of a larger problem. Changes to your cat's litter or litter box location may also trigger urinary issues. Consult our veterinary staff if your cat suddenly becomes incontinent or begins to urinate more frequently.

Behavior - As your cat ages, his or her behavior may change significantly. You might interpret this as simple aging, but it actually might be due to a treatable geriatric disease like cognitive dysfunction. Some typical signs include confusion, disorientation, decreased activity, changes in the sleep/wake cycle, loss of litter box training, or signs which suggest a decrease in your cat's interest in, or ability to interact with, his or her environment or with you.

Kidneys - Excessive thirst and frequent or uncontrolled urination are often signs of kidney problems or diabetes. Since the kidneys process and eliminate waste products into the urine, it is important that these organs remain healthy. Ask your veterinarian about available treatments, such as those provided by holistic and traditional medicine, for slowing down kidney failure and making your cat feel good.

Coat - As cats get older, their temperature sensitivity increases because their coats are often poor and not as resistant to temperature changes. Tolerance of cold temperatures and wet conditions decreases, and the need for a dry, draft-free, sleeping area is a priority. If your cat does go outside, do not leave him or her outside for long periods of time in cold or wet weather. In hot and humid weather, use air conditioning and/or fans to help keep your cat cool.

Grooming - Provide regular grooming. This helps to remove dead hair and prevent hair balls that may cause vomiting or intestinal impaction. Grooming also gives you a chance to inspect your cat for parasites, skin disorders and unusual lumps or lesions that may require our attention. Besides the health benefits, many older cats enjoy the extra physical contact.

Even if your cat seems perfectly healthy, regular geriatric check-ups are important to manage many of the changes associated with aging. Cats over nine years of age should have a veterinary examination twice a year. A complete geriatric health maintenance program can provide a means to target age-related health problems, institute preventive health care measures, and detect any disorders early enough to provide appropriate medical treatment.

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