The veterinarians and staff at the Worth Street Veterinary Center 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. Here's Why You Should Microchip Your Pet.

Each year, millions of dogs and cats are lost; in fact, this disaster strikes 1/3 of all pet-owning families. Of the millions of cats and dogs that are lost, only 10% 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, of course, 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.

Common Canine Poisonings: Part II

Ant and Roach Baits

No one likes having ants or roaches in the house, but it is important to remember the potential hazard to your dog by placing baits or traps. The product names vary, and the containers may be referred to as chambers, discs, stations, systems, traps, baits or trays. To attract the insects, most ant and roach baits use an attractant (often peanut butter), a sweetening agent and bread. These baits once contained compounds highly toxic to mammals (arsenic trioxide and lead arsenate); the most common insecticides used in ant and roach baits today are boric acid, avermectin, fipronil, hydramethylnon, propoxur and sulfonamide.

Due to the low concentration of the insecticide and the small size of the bait, serious illness in dogs ingesting the baits is not expected. In many instances, the risk of a foreign body or obstruction from the plastic or metal part of the container is of greater concern than the active ingredients. Signs of ingestion are usually limited to mild gastrointestinal upset and do not require specific treatment.

Rodenticides (rat poison)

Poisons intended to kill rats, mice, gophers, moles and other pesky mammals are among the most common and deadly household poisons. Since rodents and dogs are both mammals, it makes sense that substances highly poisonous to mice, for example, would be lethal to dogs. It cannot be stressed enough that rodenticides are highly toxic and any such poisons designed to kill small mammals need to be carefully stored away from curious canine noses. The poisons usually come in flimsy cardboard containers, and any dog or puppy can chew through it to get the bait.

While there are many categories of rodenticides, the most common poisoning seen in veterinary practice is the anti-coagulant kind. Anti-coagulant rodenticide has ingredient names like warfarin, fumarin, diphacinone and bromadiolone. These poisons act by interfering with a dog's ability to utilize Vitamin K. Without it, a dog's blood is unable to clot, which can ultimately cause severe blood loss, anemia, hemorrhage and death. Generally, clinical signs are not seen until 3-5 days after the dog has ingested the poison. Signs of ingestion are weakness, difficulty breathing, pale mucous membranes, bruising and bleeding from the nose. Other types of rodenticides can cause neurological symptoms such as incoordination, seizures and other cardiac failure.

If accidental ingestion of rat poison is suspected, contact your veterinarian immediately, even if your dog is not showing any symptoms. If possible bring the poison container to the clinic to determine the specific rodenticide ingested and therefore provide the best treatment. Early recognition is critical, as some intoxications can be treated successfully if caught early and treated appropriately.


Spring and fall are the times to fertilize. Unfortunately, it is also the time for accidental poisoning. Dogs 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 lethargy. The best way to avoid illness or injury is to keep your dog inside while treating your lawn and wait awhile before letting him or her out.

Household Chemicals (hydrocarbons)

Hydrocarbons are in numerous household products, including paints, varnishes, engine cleaners, furniture polish, lighter fluid, lamp oils, paint removers, and fuel oil (e.g. acetone, xylene, kerosene, gasoline, naphtha, mineral oil). Since there are so many possible poisons, the result of ingestion varies widely. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, mild to moderate eye irritation, skin burns, pulmonary damage, pneumonia, depression or excitement, hypoxia, inflammation and liver or kidney damage. Though dogs generally do not enjoy the taste of any of these products, a common cause of ingestion is through drinking out of puddles that contain chemicals or walking through spilled liquids and then licking their paws.

Cleaning Products

This category contains dozens of products used around the home including toilet bowl cleaners, bleach, detergents, caustics (e.g. Drano, Ajax, etc.), pine oils and so forth. These products are often highly poisonous to dogs. The range of chemicals included in cleaning products can cause signs varying widely from mild local irritation (many detergent soaps) to deep penetrating tissue damage (alkaline products) to severe systemic disease (pine oils). Due to the wide range of products, generalized illness is most common along with skin irritation or a burn if contact has been topical instead of ingested. Like rodenticides, it is wise to keep all cleaners tightly closed when not in use and stored in a location where curious canine noses are unable to reach. Also, be sure to keep dogs out of newly cleaned areas to avoid paw injuries from walking in the cleaning solution and mouth burns from subsequent grooming.

VIDEO - How To Brush Your Dog's Teeth

Fresh breath isn't just important for humans - your dog needs regular dental cleanings, too. Here's how to keep plaque, gingivitis and doggy breath at bay.

Keeping Kitties Entertained

Most cats hold their human caretakers to high standards. As a cat lover, you're quite aware of how you can't always meet their unspoken expectations. You know the displeased feline glare better than anyone and so you understand it takes work to keep your kitty happy.

Indoor cats especially must be provided with activities to connect them with their wild ways. Otherwise, your bored ball of fur may quickly turn disruptive or worse - destructive! Luckily, kitty entertainment comes cheap and toys can even be rotated (research has shown that old toys regain their novelty this way).

Some activities sure to provide some stimulation include:

Letting them hunt – Hopefully your house isn't plagued by mice or rats, but there are still ways your cat can experience what it's like to be a hunter or huntress. Try hiding some of your cat's food throughout the house or place it in food-dispensing toys. Working for a meal will be mentally and physically engaging. You can also infuse old socks with scents or treats, create a scent trail, and hide them in various places to encourage your cat to go on the prowl.

Letting them explore – If you've seen the YouTube videos, you know many cats love boxes and sometimes even shopping bags. Let your cat investigate or climb inside these objects or invest in a kitty condo. If your cat is an indoor cat, consider getting a harness and taking him or her on an adventure into the backyard. You could even build an enclosed outdoor area.

Letting them watch cat TV – Animal Planet is a good start, but there are videos made just for cats featuring close-ups of birds and mice that many cats can't seem to get enough of. Windows (especially those overlooking a bird or squirrel feeder) and aquariums can also serve as a source of visual entertainment for the more nature-inclined. Just be sure screens and tank lids are secure to prevent escape or an unfortunate catastrophe.

Letting them enjoy you – Some cats prefer toys they can toss around on their own, but many others still enjoy interactive play with their human. Feather wands, mouse-like or catnip-filled toys tend to be favorites. You can also try teaching your cat some new tricks.

Do Dogs Mourn the Death of Another Pet?

When a dog dies, owners will often notice some changes in the pets that are left behind. They may become aloof or lethargic. Some may stop eating or become clingy. Based on these outward signs, it appears that dogs grieve when their canine companion dies. Because our pets cannot speak, we don't really know what is going through their minds. We must base our interpretations of their emotional state on their behavior—what they do in certain situations and under specific circumstances.

When a person experiences the death of a human loved one, we may know how he feels grief based on what he says. Very often, however, it is how he reacts or what he does that tells us he is suffering. He loses focus, becomes listless and disoriented, doesn't eat and becomes disinterested in what is happening around him. The person may cry, go without sleep or sleep more than usual. An animal that is experiencing the loss of another animal companion may react similarly.

Dogs Do Mourn

Some animals can actually become depressed when they lose a loved one. They show symptoms similar to humans, such as loss of interest in their favorite activities and sleeping more than usual. However, dogs may sometimes distance themselves from the family and sleep more than usual when they are ill, so you should consult with your veterinarian before seeing a behaviorist if your dog exhibits such symptoms. Your dog may lose her appetite, become disoriented or become more clingy. If the deceased dog was taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized, the grieving dog may sit at the window for days, watching for her return. Animal behaviorists commonly call this emotional state "separation anxiety". On the surface, the pet's behavior is similar to that of a person experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a "Companion Animal Mourning Project" in 1996. The study found that 36 percent of dogs ate less than usual after the death of another canine companion, while about 11 percent stopped eating completely. About 63 percent of dogs vocalized more than normal or became quieter. Study respondents also indicated that surviving dogs changed the quantity and location of sleep. More than half the surviving pets became more affectionate and clingy with their caregivers. Overall, the study revealed that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes after losing a pet companion.

Helping Your Dog Heal

If your dog shows signs that she is grieving the loss of an animal or human family member, provide her with more attention and affection. Take her mind off the loss by engaging in a favorite activity. If she enjoys human company, invite friends she likes over to spend time with her. Use environmental enrichment techniques like toys to help keep her busy. Hide toys or treats at her favorite spots for her to find during the day.

If your dog is very depressed over the loss, she may not respond to extra activity right away. The old saying "time heals all wounds" has meaning for your dog, too. Time is one thing that may help. Based on the results of the ASPCA study, most dogs returned to normal after about two weeks, but some dogs took up to six months to fully recover.

If your dog is vocalizing more or howling, don't give her treats to distract her This might unintentionally reinforce the howling. Giving attention during any behavior will reinforce it, so be sure you are not reinforcing a behavior you don't like. Give attention at a time when your dog is engaging in behaviors that you do like, such as when she is resting quietly or watching the squirrels. As the pain of the loss begins to subside, so should the vocalizing, if it is related to the grieving process.

You may also want to consult with your veterinarian about drug therapy to help decrease your dog's anxiety.

If you are thinking about adding another dog to your home, wait until you and your surviving dog have adjusted to the loss. Forcing your dog to get to know a newcomer will only add stress to her already anxiety-ridden emotional state. And be patient. Your dog may miss her canine companion as much as you do.

How Your Cat Has Mastered Manipulation With Cuteness

Think Whiskers is purring out of pure love and joy to be in your company? Or Rubbing against you to show her excitement that you’re home? Well, she may have us all tricked. Whiskers may actually know a whole lot more about her cuteness – and what it can produce – than we ever thought.

Rubbing Against You = They Own You

We love when we’re greeted by an affectionate rub. And we love thinking it’s because Whiskers has missed us so much. This may in fact be true. But what is also true is that a cat tends to rub against a person in order to claim their ownership over them, leaving you with a scent that is theirs – and theirs only. But don’t think that it also works the other way. In fact, after you rub and pet your cat, she wants that smell gone immediately. You may notice she starts licking herself more than usual after a good rub down, right? This actually helps to get your smell off of her coat. And they had us convinced they were just being clean and tidy pets…

Leaving Poop Uncovered = They Rule You

Cats instinctively cover their poop when they’re done going to the bathroom, and we love that. But when you come home to that surprise on the door mat or kitchen floor, it may not be a product of Whisker’s old age or degenerating blind spot. Rather, your cat may be making a statement of power through his poo. This act of defiance marks their territory and flags to all other members of the household that this is one tough kitty!

Meowing Like A Baby = Treat Me Like A Baby, Now!

Cats are smart, we all know this. But just how smart? Well, looks like they have even perfected their meowing to imitate the sounds of a baby – in effect getting us to “baby” them. Studies have shown that a cat’s meow for attention or food shares a similar frequency level to that of a baby crying for similar wants and needs.

So, Whiskers may be more of a master of her own manipulation than we ever thought. But hey, at least she’s cute about it!