The veterinarians and staff at the University Animal Hospital 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

VIDEO: Feline Heartworm

Dog owners are well aware of the threat of heartworm disease, but many pet owners would be shocked to know that their cats are in danger as well. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes and are capable of infecting cats in addition to dogs. Unfortunately, our cats rarely show physical signs of this infection and are more likely to die due to their body’s reaction to the parasite. The good news is that your veterinarian can help you prevent this deadly feline disease.

Cats are abnormal hosts to heartworms and these heartworms will live shortened lives. You might think that this is a good thing but, heartworms actually can cause more serious and severe disease in cats than they do in dogs. It is not unusual for a dog to live for years with 50 worms in their heart. But a cat with a single heartworm can die suddenly, often with no apparent clinical signs whatsoever. In addition, your “inside only” kitty is just as susceptible as the outdoor tomcat. Watch this video to learn more.

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VIDEO: Flea And Tick Prevention For Your Pet

If you own a pet, fleas and ticks are nothing new. In a special video report, Dr. Jim Humphries with the Veterinary News Network and PetDocsOnCall discusses the importance of flea and tick prevention and shares tips on how to keep pesky parasites away from your pet.

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Can My Indoor Cat Get Rabies?

Rabies is known to affect virtually all mammals, but the disease is rare in small rodents. Since 1995 in the United States, more than 7,000 animals per year--most of them wild--have been diagnosed with rabies. The disease is found in 49 U.S. states (all but Hawaii), as well as in Canada, Mexico and most other countries of the world. Among domestic animals, 59% of the reported cases in 2009 were cats.

In wild animals, rabies is more common in bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes, but the disease also has been found in deer, coyotes and in large rodents such as woodchucks. Cats, dogs and livestock can get rabies too, if they are not vaccinated and are bitten by a rabid animal. Some animals, including chipmunks, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rabbits, rats and squirrels, get rabies but cases are less frequent. From 1985 through 1994, woodchucks accounted for 86% of the 368 cases of rabies among rodents reported to the US Center for Disease Control. Since rabies is a disease of warm-blooded animals only, birds, fish, insects, lizards, snakes and turtles do not get rabies.

Many cases of rabies have been traced to rabid bats. So, if your indoor cat encounters a bat, transmission is very possible. It is unlikely that your cat will get rabies from field mice that enter the house, or from house mice that set up nests. Other unwanted house guests that enter accidently, such as chipmunks and squirrels, can transmit rabies to your cat; however, reported cases are infrequent.

That said, as a precautionary measure, it is necessary to have your indoor pets vaccinated for rabies and other diseases. Since bats get in and cats get out, it is always better to be safe than sorry. For more information about vaccinating your indoor pets against rabies and other contagious diseases, call your local veterinary hospital today. Your veterinarian is always the best source for information about protecting your pets.

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How Dogs Use Smell to Detect Disease

The keen olfactory senses of man's best friend have been used by humans ever since dogs were first domesticated. From hunting and tracking game and assisting the disabled to ferreting out criminals and finding illegal drugs, dogs are adept at picking up subtle scents and signs that human senses cannot register. However, a dog's nose may be more important than has ever been realized. Scientists are finding increasing evidence that dogs may have the ability to detect cancer in humans simply by using their sense of smell.

Dogs can sense the most subtle smells

A study published in the March 2006 edition of the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies, researchers Michael McCulloch of the Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo, Calif. and Tadeusz Jezierski of the Polish Academy of Sciences, presented research that suggests dogs can detect the presence of lung or breast cancer by sniffing the breath of cancer patients. Five dogs trained during a three-week period sniffed the breath of 86 cancer patients and 83 healthy patients. Dogs were trained to identify the presence of cancer on a patient's breath by sitting or lying down in front of the test subject. According to the study, the dogs had a success rate between 88 and 97 percent. Though dogs probably will not take the place of MRI, mammograms and other cancer screening tools, medical researchers continue to examine the link between a dogs' sense of smell and human illness.

Already, dogs' excellent sense of smell is already used by people with type 1 diabetes to detect impending episodes of hypoglycemia. Organizations like Dogs For Diabetics and Heaven Scent Paws train dogs to recognize the scent of chemicals emitted by diabetics before hypoglycemia sets in. The dog alerts his or her handler, who can then administer insulin in order to prevent a diabetic episode. Dogs can also be trained to alert people with epilepsy of impending seizures, giving them time to stop what they're doing and move to a safe place. It is still unclear how exactly dogs can detect the onset of a seizure, though many researchers believe a dog's olfactory and other senses play a large role.

Dogs can be trained to recognize the signs of a diabetic episode

How are dogs able to detect these scents? Both dogs and humans have organs inside their noses called turbinates. When a dog or a human inhales, air passes over the turbinates, which contain a spongy membrane that houses scent-detecting cells and the nerves that send scent-signals to the brain. In humans, the area around the turbinates is small, containing roughly 5 million scent receptors. In dogs, the turbinates contain hundreds of millions of scent receptors, depending on the breed. For example, the dachshund has 125 million scent receptors, while scent-hounds like the bloodhound have 300 million receptors. These receptors are what make it possible for dogs to do everything from tracking a fox through a forest to picking up the scents emitted by a diabetic when his or her blood sugar is low.

Curious canine noses can also be trained for other activities. Dogs are being used in increasing numbers to hunt for truffles, underground fungi that are highly sought-after culinary delicacies. Hogs have been the traditional truffle-hunting agent in Europe: a hog's keen sense of smell, coupled with the similarity between a truffle's odor and a pheromone found in boar saliva, make swine innate truffle hunters. But pigs are difficult to train and will quickly dig up and eat the truffles they were sent to find if a handler isn't close by. That is why many truffle seekers are using trained dogs (especially Labradors) to find—and not eat—the fungi.

VIDEO: Saving Money on Pet Care

In today's economy, saving money wherever you can is a smart thing to do. There are many opportunities for pet owners to not only save a few dollars, but also provide the best care for their pets. Routine vaccinations for infectious diseases, proper heartworm prevention, routine dental care and healthy diets are just few of the things that can end up saving pet owners big bucks. Watch this video to learn more.

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Fuzzy Therapy: Nuzzles and Pats Help Heal

Sometimes, all you need to feel better is a good belly rub. That is the core belief behind animal assisted therapy, an approach to healing that pairs human patients with dogs, rabbits, horses, dolphins, and even monkeys and llamas.

Fuzzy Therapy: Nuzzles and Pats Help Heal

A Therapeutic Relationship

For people recovering from addiction, the type of attention, affirmation, and unconditional love that sometimes can come only from an animal is a very important part of their healing process. According to the Addiction Recovery Guide, there are many benefits to the interaction between patients in recovery and their furry companions, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased beta-endorphin levels, decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension and anxiety, improved social functioning, and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-esteem.

Treatment Centers Recognize Benefits

It is not unusual to see animal assisted therapy listed among the programs offered by addiction treatment centers. The Ranch, a facility in Tennessee, takes animal-assisted therapy one step further in their program called "Animal-Assisting Therapy for Addiction," which focuses not only on patient benefits, but on the benefits participating animals receive as well. Deviating from therapy programs which use specially trained animals, The Ranch pairs recovering addicts with homeless, abused, and abandoned animals whose personal histories are often as complicated and tragic as their own. They believe that caring for an animal with a similarly wounded spirit intensifies the redemptive effects of the therapy, resulting in physical, emotional, and psychological improvements for both the patient and the animal.

At Alta Mira in California, patients are offered equine therapy and are allowed to bring their pets with them while they undergo treatment. Although Alta Mira acknowledges that the hard evidence of animal assisted therapy’s benefits is still scant, anecdotal evidence at their treatment center has led them to conclude that "animals play a key role in the healing process."

Beyond Addiction

Animal-assisted programs are not limited to treating people who are fighting addiction. The therapeutic benefits of a wet nose rubbing against your hand and a playful scratch behind the ears can help people facing many types of emotional, physical, and psychological challenges, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, autism, cerebral palsy, high blood pressure, and social phobia.

April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Pets and their people love being outside in the summertime - and so do mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes are the most common carriers of heartworm disease, keeping pets up to date on preventive heartworm treatments during mosquito season is especially important.

Heartworms are exactly that—large worms that live in the hearts of cats and dogs. Known as Dirofilaria Immitis, heartworms are long, spaghetti-like worms that range in size from 6 to 10 inches. Heartworms are almost always transmitted by mosquitoes. A mosquito bites an infected dog or cat; that mosquito picks up microfilariae, a microscopic version of the heartworm. When that mosquito bites your dog or cat, the heartworm microfilariae are transmitted to him / her. Within 70 to 90 days, the microfilariae make it to your pet's heart and, once mature, begin reproducing. The cycle then begins again.

Cycle of heartworm transmission / reproduction

Heartworm disease cycle.

Signs of heartworm disease in pets vary based on the age and species of the pet and the number of worms present. Because the worms are usually located on the right side of the heart and lung, coughing and shortness of breath are common signs in both dogs and cats. Dogs that have just acquired the disease may have no signs, while dogs with a moderate occurrence of the disease may cough and show an inability to exercise. In extreme cases, dogs may experience fainting, weight loss, fever, abdominal swelling and death. In cats, the symptoms of heartworm disease are similar to those of feline asthma, including coughing and shortness of breath. Some cats may exhibit no signs of the disease, while others may suddenly die.

When it comes to preventing heartworm disease, pet owners have a number of options. Before beginning preventive medication, pet owners should have their pets tested for the presence of heartworms. If heartworms are present, a treatment plan should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Most heartworm prevention is done by administering your pet a once-a-month heartworm preventive medication. Many of these monthly products are administered as a chewable treat. Some are combined with other preventive medications. Your veterinarian will recommend the product that is best suited for your pet.

If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm or you would like additional information about the disease, please call the hospital.

Lyme Disease: Seven Myths You Should Know

Lyme Disease: Seven Myths You Should Know

April is Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month.

It is important to understand the risks your pet faces when it comes to ticks. Common misconceptions can lead pet owners to avoid the right preventative measures needed to protect beloved pets from Lyme disease. Here are a few persistent myths dispelled:

Myth 1: I don't live in a wooded area, so my pet can't get ticks.

Even if your pet doesn’t play in wooded areas and places with high grass or brush where ticks are commonly found, ticks are actually able to live their entire life cycle within your home. Woodpiles near or inside your home provide the perfect environment for ticks to survive. Small rodents such as mice can also transport the ticks indoors. Even if ticks don't make their way into your home, they can still live in low grass and trees—such as the back yards of most suburban homes.

Myth 2: I haven't seen any ticks on my pets, so they aren't at risk.

Often ticks are only easily visible on your pets once they're engorged. However, the tick's life cycle includes the larva and nymph stages where they're not as easily noticed. Even when adult ticks have been removed, they may have already laid eggs on your pets, continuing the tick infestation.

Myth 3: I've only found a few ticks on my pet, so I'm sure he's fine.

You can be diligent about checking for and removing ticks, but it still only takes one tick bite for a pet to contract Lyme disease. When you find ticks on your pet, there's a good chance the pet has had other ticks that you have missed.

Myth 4: I apply a flea and tick preventive to my pet monthly, so I don't need to worry about Lyme disease.

No prevention medication is 100 percent effective. Talk to us about your pet's habits and environment, and we can discuss whether you need to take additional steps to prevent Lyme disease.

Myth 5: During the colder seasons, I don't need to worry about applying flea and tick prevention.

Because most insect populations decrease once cold weather sets in, you might assume ticks will follow suit. In reality, ticks are much hardier—and their population can increase during the fall season. Ticks can also survive through the entire winter even when frozen in the ground. For the best protection, continuously apply preventives throughout the year, including the colder months.

Myth 6: My pet was treated for Lyme disease, so now she's cured.

Once your pet is diagnosed with Lyme disease, an antibiotic is usually prescribed. Do not assume that once the antibiotic course is finished, the Lyme disease is cured and your pet is no longer at risk of experiencing Lyme disease symptoms. It can take multiple courses of an antibiotic to successfully treat Lyme disease. Any pet diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease should be routinely screened for tick-borne diseases every year.

Myth 7: My pet has already contracted Lyme disease, so he can't receive a Lyme disease vaccination.

Pets that have been treated for Lyme disease run the risk of reinfection, so it's important to continue applying preventives and check pets for ticks. Another preventive measure is to have your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease. Although there are more benefits to giving the vaccine before exposure occurs, the vaccination will help prevent reinfection.