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

Holiday Pet Tip: No Sweets For Your Sweet Pet

For many people, overindulging in holiday goodies may result in a few extra pounds; however, the consequences for our animal companions are much greater if they accidentally ingest cookies, candy or baked goods containing chocolate. In any form ranging from one-ounce baking squares to brownies, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can cause stimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors. Clinical symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst. Urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

Veterinary poison and emergency center across the country seem to receive more calls involving chocolate toxicosis during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. During one Thanksgiving holiday, an 18-pound cocker spaniel consumed an 18-ounce box of milk chocolate truffles. By the time the owners brought the dog to the veterinary emergency center, she had already vomited several times and was drinking large amounts of water. The emergency clinician worked in conjunction with the dog's veterinarian to provide emergency treatment, which included activated charcoal, intravenous fluids and medication for her elevated heart rate. She'd recovered by the next morning, but spent the day in doggie day care to make sure she didn't have further problems.

Although chocolate toxicosis is more common in dogs who have been known to eat candy and trays of brownies and fudge accidentally left out, it can be a potential problem with any species. Take care this holiday season and keep candy out of your pets' reach - and don't let them in the kitchen unsupervised when you're baking. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.

Keeping Your Dog Anxiety Free On New Year's Eve

Celebrating the new year is an exciting time for many people. Unfortunately, your dog might not share the same enthusiasm you do. There are numerous ways your dog might be put on edge this December 31. Whether it's loud neighbors celebrating loudly or fireworks exploding overhead, as a dog owner you must be conscientious of your dog's fears.

Fortunately, there are ways to make your dog feel more safe as we move into the new year. Here are just a few pointers to keep your dog happy and healthy into the new year and beyond.

Give your dog plenty of exercise before the celebrations begin. Take him or her to the dog park, go on a long walk or jog, play fetch until your dog's tongue is down to the floor. The point is that the more you tire them out during the day, the likelier they are to sleep through a noisy night.
Create a relaxing environment for them. Lavender oil (Lavendula augustifolia or Lavendula officinalis) can be used either on the skin or by letting your dog smell it, and has been found to reduce anxiety. It's also a good idea to play calming music, like classical or light jazz, that's turned up just high enough to wash out external noise.
Ask your veterinarian about medications that may help. Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe your dog anti-anxiety medication that will help calm them throughout the night. These same types of medications can be used for other anxiety-producing scenarios like thunderstorms or car rides.

Above all, remember to have a fun and safe New Year's Eve for both yourself and your dog!

A Safe Home for Your Cat

Since many of us believe that a house is not a home without a cat, we need to ask ourselves if our home is a safe place for them. If you have children, many of the safety measures needed for cats are probably already in place. If not, then it is necessary to look around the house and fix potential hazards.

Even cats that spend most of their time indoors may be exposed to a number of potential hazards. Disinfectants, drain cleaners and detergents are among the many household chemicals that are toxic to your pet. They should be stored in tightly closed containers and secured cabinets where pets are unable to reach them. Medicines should also be out of reach as common painkillers such as Advil and antidepressants are poisonous to cats.

Sharp objects such as knives and forks, carpet tacks and pins should be kept out of reach. Children's toys and small objects may attract a playful kitty and become lodged in its mouth or swallowed. Although kittens are sometimes pictured with a ball of yarn, a playful kitten and yarn are a bad combination. If ingested, yarn as well as any kind of thread, twine or ribbon could cause serious damage to the esophagus and intestinal tract of your cat.

According to the National Safety Council, as many as 5,000 house fires a year can be attributed to pets as a result of their chewing of electrical cords. In order to prevent this hazard, do your best to keep electrical wiring out of your cat's sight and reach. Exposed lamp cords and other wires should be kept as short as possible. If extension cords are used, tack them against a baseboard or run them under a carpet so they cannot be played with or chewed.

If you live in an apartment, your cat may be vulnerable to "high-rise syndrome." If your window screens are not securely fastened, a cat may fall from a window and suffer serious injuries, if not death. A cat should be sufficiently restrained or confined if allowed on an apartment balcony.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 74 percent of homes in the United States built prior to 1980 contain hazardous amounts of lead paint. As with humans, any item containing lead can be extremely harmful to a cat. Harmful effects may not show up until weeks after ingestion. Signs of lead poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite, loss of muscle coordination, blindness and seizures. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you think there is a possibility of lead poisoning.

In addition to indoor dangers, outdoor hazards are often found in the garage or shed. Harmful products include windshield cleaners, weed killers, insecticides, used motor oil and antifreeze. Many cats are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze (believe it or not!) containing the chemical ethylene glycol which is highly toxic to cats. If it is spilled on the ground or leaking from your car, it can combine with a puddle making it exceptionally easy for your cat to drink it. New antifreeze products have been introduced that claim to be non-toxic to pets, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to clean up spills of any questionable liquid to avoid injuring your kitty.

Wherever the hazard may come, it is important to remember that your cat is not so different from a child. Curious paws and noses may inevitably discover areas that have yet to be "kitty-proofed." Once you get to know the likes and dislikes of your cat, it would be much easier to determine what is hazardous and what has not made your cat's priority list of noteworthy attractions.

Twelve Tips for a Well-Behaved Dog

  1. Train your dog gently and humanely. Use positive rewards and motivation methods. Rewards should be the rule and reprimands should be the rare exception. Keep obedience sessions lively so that the training process is enjoyable for all parties. Training your dog should not be drudgery.
  2. Start training your puppy at an early age. While old dogs can be taught new tricks, what’s learned earliest is often learned quickest and easiest. Also, the older the dog, the more bad habits he may need to unlearn.
  3. Your dog needs to respond to you properly at home. If not, he certainly will not behave outside the home. Distractions are fairly minimal at home; however, in the outside world there are other dogs, pigeons, passersby, sidewalk food scraps (to name a few).

    Does your dog listen to you and obey you at home? Does he treat you like a human gymnasium when you’re sitting on the furniture? Does he beg at the table? Jump up on visitors? Demand your attention by annoying you to death? Ignore your commands?
  4. Avoid giving your dog commands that he cannot obey. Each time you give a command that is neither complied nor enforced, your dog learns that commands are optional.
  5. One command should equal one response. Give your dog a command, say it once (twice, max!), and then gently enforce it. Repeating commands or nagging causes your dog to tune you out, and teaches him that the first several commands are a bluff. For instance, telling your dog to "sit, sit, sit, sit" is neither an efficient nor effective way to issue commands. Simply give your dog a single command, gently place or lure him into it, and give him praise or reward.
  6. Avoid giving your dog combined commands which are incompatible. Combined commands such as "sit-down" can confuse your dog. Use either sit or down.
  7. When giving your dog a command, avoid using a loud voice. Even if your dog is especially independent/unresponsive, your tone of voice when issuing an obedience command should be calm and authoritative, rather than harsh or loud.
  8. Whenever possible, use your dog’s name positively, rather than using it associated to reprimands, warnings or punishment. Your dog should trust that when he hears his name, good things happen. His name should always be a word he responds to with enthusiasm, never hesitancy or fear.
  9. Correct or prevent the unwanted behavior. Don’t punish, but try to teach him. Do not reprimand or get even with him. After-the-fact discipline does NOT work. If you’re taking a "whip ’em into shape" approach, you’ll undermine your relationship with him. Also, you’ll be missing out on all the fun that a motivational training approach can offer.
  10. When training your dog, timing is everything. Take the following example: You’ve prepared a platter of food for a small dinner party and it is sitting on a small table in the dining room. Your dog walks into the room and smells the food. He air-sniffs, then eyes the food, and is poised to jump up. This is the best, easiest and most effective time to correct your dog’s behavior— while he’s thinking about jumping up to get the food. If he has already eaten the food and is resting comfortably in his bed, correcting him at this point is useless. He cannot associate something that occurred earlier with a correction that he is receiving at the present time.
  11. Often, dog owners inadvertently reinforce their dogs’ misbehavior by giving them lots of attention (negative attention) when they misbehave. Needless to say, if your dog receives lots of attention and handling when he jumps up on you, that behavior is being reinforced, and is therefore likely to be repeated.
  12. Keep a lid on your anger. Never train your dog when you’re feeling grouchy or impatient. Earning your dog’s respect is never accomplished by yelling, hitting, or handling your dog in a harsh manner. Moreover, studies have shown that fear and stress inhibit the learning process.

VIDEO - Choosing Between a Kitten and an Adult Cat

Cute, cuddly kittens are hard to resist. But an older cat may need a home more desperately--and may be a better fit for your lifestyle. Consider the factors outlined in this video before you make your final choice.

Oink! 8 Fascinating Facts About Pigs

Believe it or not...

1. Generally, 8 to 12 piglets are born to a litter. The largest number of piglets born in a single litter was 34. The 2-day birth occurred in Denmark in June of 1961.

2. It is believed that the word "pig" comes from the Low German "bigge," meaning any domesticated swine.

3. Some pigs are really big. The largest was a 2,552 pound porker named Big Bill, who stood 5' 9" at the shoulder.

4. Pigs are often extremely intelligent, even more apt at picking up tricks than dogs. Scientists have found their grunts have specific meanings, allowing then to communicate to each other. World Book Encyclopedia rates a pig the seventh most intelligent in the animal kingdom.

5. Despite their penchant for wallowing in mud, pigs are very clean. They always keep their toilet far from their living area.

6. For centuries, pigs have been used to hunt truffles, a rare and flavorful mushroom.

7. It took 30 some piglets to play the part of "Babe" in the first film because the piglets outgrew the part so quickly.

8. There is proof of the existence of potbellied pigs as pets in 3468 BC, when the first book on the raising of them was written.