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

World Rabies Day - September 28

September 28th is World Rabies Day, an international event established by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to raise awareness of the deadly virus. And this year in particular is special because it marks 10 years of the holiday. The theme for 2016 is "Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate." With this in mind, it’s the perfect time to take a few minutes to educate yourself about rabies prevention and treatment.

World Rabies Awareness Day

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through exposure to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal, and is nearly always fatal without proper treatment. Rabies kills over 59,000 people per year; nearly 60 percent of those are children under the age of 15 who are unaware of the risks of rabies. In 95 percent of human rabies cases, the cause was a bite or a scratch from an infected dog.

Rabies is not always visible to the naked eye. However, the following symptoms are common in infected animals:

  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Unprovoked aggressive behavior or overly friendly behavior
  • Foaming at the mouth

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control recommends that all mammals that are in frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated, but especially dogs, cats and ferrets. Additionally, vaccinations should always be kept up to date to ensure their usefulness.

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, the Alliance recommends that pet owners feed and water their pets indoors, as even empty bowls can attract wildlife. Garbage should be securely covered, as the smell from an open garbage can will attract stray animals. Wild animals should never be kept as pets, and should never be approached, even if they appear friendly.

If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal that is unknown to you, you may have been exposed to rabies. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Once symptoms of rabies appear, survival is very rare.

If your pet is bitten by an unvaccinated animal, consult your veterinarian immediately to see if your pet needs booster shots. You should also keep your pet away from other animals, and watch your pet for signs of illness or unusual behavior for at least 45 days.

More Information
For more information on rabies and to find out about World Rabies Day events, visit the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website at

Hairballs in Cats

Hairballs, also known as furballs, are very common problems in cats - particularly the longhaired breeds. They are an inevitable consequence of a cat's cleanliness. About 80% of cat owners report that their cats vomit furballs on a monthly basis.

Fur is very hard to digest. Usually it passes into the intestine if it doesn't first mat in the stomach. When fur mats in the stomach, it can fill this organ, causing food to be displaced. Because furballs are too large to pass into the small intestine, they are generally vomited up.

Have you ever looked at your cat's tongue? The top of a cat's tongue contains numerous hard barbs or spikes that point backward into the throat. These spikes are great for cleaning and grooming themselves; however, due to the direction of these spikes, the only way to get the fur off the tongue is to swallow it. Normally the non-digestible hair passes through the stomach into the intestines and is expelled in the cat's feces. Problems occur when the swallowed hair combines with fat (and sometimes food) forming a dense "hair ball" that usually stays in the stomach because of its size.

Hairballs are actually one of the most common reasons why cats vomit. The hacking or retching that you hear is the cat trying to vomit up the furballs. While it is normal for a cat to have them occasionally, large hairballs can be dangerous. Fortunately, most hairballs are eventually "coughed up" before they pass into the intestines and cause a serious digestive tract obstruction.

To reduce the frequency of hairballs, you should regularly comb or brush your cat. Long-haired cats and cats with thick coats particularly benefit from regular combing. In order for hairballs to pass more easily into the stool, an occasional dose of an oral lubricating agent is recommended. For cats that are particularly prone to furballs, special high fiber diets are available. The extra fiber in these diets help move the excess fur through the cat's digestive system. The most up-to-date dietary technology uses a natural soy lecithin emulsifier in combination with fiber. The combined action of the emulsifier and fiber helps break down existing hairballs and allows them to pass more easily through the cat's digestive tract.

Letting the Cat Out...Or Not

Thanks to the creation and marketing of cat litter in the mid 1940's, more and more cats have become indoor-only pets. As such, cats are now leading longer lives, with some living 20+ years! Our homes offer a safer, healthier environment than life on the street. The average life span of an indoor cat is 10 years, whereas the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is just two years. There is no doubt that indoors is safer.

Creating An Indoor Adventure

Yet, when we choose to make our cats indoors-only companions, we have a responsibility to provide the stimulation that was previously provided by the great outdoors. Scratching and climbing posts become trees; interactive toys become hunted birds, bugs and field mice. A rotating array of cat playthings provides excitement, unpredictability and exercise which, in turn, gives your cat everything it needs while extending its life inside. With that said, many cat lovers still prefer to commune with nature with their feline friends. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize the risks.

Ensuring the Proper Vaccination Protocol

Most importantly, while vaccinations are important for indoor cats, they are absolutely critical to the health of outdoor cats. The threat of rabies, FeLV, FIV, and FIP, transmitted through altercations with wildlife, or interaction with stray, un-vaccinated cats, should be enough to have your cat immunized in order to give you peace of mind. All of these diseases can be prevented and can provide your outdoor cat with proper protection should he need it.

They like to be outside, but the risks can be great.

Leash 'em Up & Go!

If you feel as though your cat deserves the fun of being outside, but want to provide a safe way to experience nature, there are alternatives to opening the door and watching him go. Harnesses and leashes (gasp!) have been developed for cats. Either cat specific or small dog accessories fit well and are relatively inexpensive. Training your cat to walk with the harness takes patience (unless you start with a kitten, in which case it could take less time), but the reward is worth it. Your cat will be able to experience the joys of being outside in a controlled environment. How far he can travel is up to you!

Consider An Outdoor Enclosure

Outdoor enclosures are another great alternative. Since outdoor enclosures are usually homemade, they come in all shapes and sizes. For durability, chicken wire or wire hardware cloth - secured around a simple wood frame - is preferable to ordinary window screening. The most successful structures usually feature climbing and resting furniture inside. A shaded area is necessary for warm or hot weather. Whether you choose an outdoor enclosure or add cat-proof netting to the top of traditional fencing, they are safest used only when you are at home able to check on them often.

Don't Forget Identification

Even with the option of training or providing your cat with an enclosed outdoor adventure area, you still need to consider identification. Lost cats result in heartache that can easily be avoided. Microchip and ID tags provide easy identification and may be what reunites you with your cat should he / she get lost or scooped up by a caring, but ignorant stranger.

When deciding whether or not to let your cat outdoors, it is important for you to consider the alternatives. As the pet industry expands and becomes more creative, more and more indoor/outdoor products are going to become available. Of course, there is nothing better than being outside. If you can provide your cat with the proper care and protection, allowing your cat to go outdoors can be a fun and healthy existence.

The Many Benefits of Spaying Your Dog

There is little in scientific literature that indicates any negative effects of spaying a dog. The most recent research conducted by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine indicates that spaying, even on very young puppies (perhaps as young as 8 weeks of age) is safe, and that the dog recovers within a few days.

Aside from having puppies, non-spayed females are more susceptible to mammary gland tumors, uterine infections and ovarian diseases. After the ovaries are removed, vaginal estrous bleeding is no longer a concern. The dull and shaggy coat appearance that often occurs in some dogs during the estrus cycle seems to disappear. Pyometra (infections of the uterus), which are extremely common in non-spayed bitches and almost always require emergency surgery, do not occur. Mammary tumors that get large and multiply quickly occur much less frequently in spayed female dogs.

Behavioral effects

The behavioral effects of dog spays are only positive. The bitch does not go into estrus (heat), the time of the cycle when she is receptive to males. In non-spayed female dogs, there are generally about two heat cycles per year. Since estrus does not occur in spayed female dogs, there are no bloody secretions on the carpets, upholstery or throughout the house. Non-neutered male dogs are attracted to females in heat. These male dogs travel long distances in order to mate with a bitch in estrus. This creates a nuisance, as the male dogs are fairly aggressive and remain in the vicinity until the heat cycle is finished.

Spaying doesn't change the way a dog digests food. It does, however, affect the dog’s activity level. Non-spayed females have periods of greater activity during their estrus cycle. By removing the ovaries, as is done in an ovariohysterectomy (spaying), the female hormone levels are greatly reduced. Without the surge of estrus related hormones, there is no hormone-related increased activity level. To make sure your dog does not become obese, it is necessary to regulate her diet and activity level. Adult dogs can have their rations cut back until you reach a point at which the dog maintains a stable weight. If this is insufficient, there are several good quality weight reducing dog foods that are available. Ask your veterinarian or a veterinary technician for a food that is right for your dog. Also, make sure your dog is exercised, even if it's for one long daily walk.

The Top Reasons Behind Your Dog's Odor

Aside from an accumulation of dirt, a persistent and unpleasant doggie odor could be caused by many factors. Some of these factors include dental disease, ear infections and oily skin. A closer look at your dog may help you find the problem.

• Look in your dog's mouth. Are the teeth discolored? Do you smell more than the usual "doggie breath?" If so, a visit to the veterinarian for a dental checkup and treatment may be in order. During your visit, your veterinarian may explain how you can clean your dog's teeth, in order to help protect against future dental disease.

• Ear infections are frequently the cause of an offensive odor, especially among long-eared and floppy-eared dogs. The inside of the ear becomes moist and hot, providing the perfect environment for infections. Take a close look inside your dog's ears. Is the skin red and sore? Does the dog cry out in pain as you try to examine the ears? Does the ear canal have a bad odor? Any of these may be warning signs of an ear infection which should be treated by a veterinarian.

• Do you feel a slight greasiness on your hands after you pet your dog? This may be an indication of seborrhea, a common skin disorder in dogs. These dogs have excess production of sebum, a normal product of the skin glands. The result can be flaky dandruff or an oily, waxy feel to the hair coat and a strong odor. Seborrhea may also dispose a dog to skin and ear infections. Frequent bathing with a medicated shampoo recommended by your veterinarian can help prevent much of the odor.

• One other possibility for your dog's odor may be its rear end. Infection or improper emptying of the anal glands can cause odor and discomfort to the dog, and a trip to the veterinarian may be in order. Long-haired dogs sometimes have a soiled rear from defecating. Without daily brushing, the rear can become matted and smelly. Monthly clipping around the rear end helps, as does daily brushing and grooming.

Once you have investigated the cause of your dog's odor you can begin to help control it. Enlist the aid of your veterinarian in identifying the problem, treating it if necessary, and controlling it in the future. Never forget the importance of grooming on a regular basis. It is essential to keep a hair coat healthy by removing scale, dirt and dead hair, distributing the natural oils throughout the coat and preventing mats and tangles in long hair.