Animal Hospital of Western Springs Newsletter

The Latest News for Western Springs Pet Owners

The veterinarians and staff at the Animal Hospital of Western Springs 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 Animal Hospital of Western Springs, 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.

Preserving Your Companion's Legacy

Your Pet's Lasting Legacy

The following are all ways to preserve your cherished companion's legacy:
• Hold a funeral or memorial service
• Write a song, poem, or farewell letter
• Paint or draw pictures
• Make lists of things you'll miss & things you loved about your pet
• Create a photo album or scrapbook
• Compile photos/video clips into a digital scrapbook or movie
• Keep a locket of your pet's fur/hair
• Plant a tree or flower in remembrance
• Create a personalized headstone, memorial, or stepping stone
• Buy a flower that blooms at a significant time of the year
• Burn a special candle when thinking about your pet
• Create a special box for photos and memories
• Keep your pet's collar tags on a key-chain or necklace
• Write letters or send cards to your pet's veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter, etc.
• Write and publish a book about your pet's life
• Make a donation to a shelter or rescue in your pet's name
• Commission a professional portrait or stuffed-animal version of your pet
• Transform some of your pet's ashes into a diamond or other jewelry or art

Rabies Still Poses a Threat

Rabies is a preventable disease that still kills more than 59,000 people worldwide each year. Up to 60 percent of those killed by the disease are children under 15 years old.

“Rabies is primarily a disease of children, who are particularly at risk from this terrible disease due to their close contact with dogs, the major global source,” said Dr. Debbie Briggs, Executive Director of the Alliance for Rabies Control. “Children are more likely to suffer multiple bites and scratches to the face and head, both of which carry a higher risk of contracting rabies. Children are often unaware of the danger that dogs transmit rabies and may not tell their parents when a bite, lick or scratch has occurred from an infected animal.”

Children are at risk for rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans. The disease is transmitted mainly by bite, but exposure may also occur through contamination of broken skin or mucous membranes with saliva from an infected animal. Once neurological symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans.

According to the CDC, rabies in the U.S. is primarily carried by raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes with most instances of human exposure associated with contact with a bat. In fact, the CDC warns that if you wake up to find a bat in the room or find an infant or disabled person in the same room as a bat, there is a concern an exposure to rabies may have occurred. If possible, the bat can be caught and tested. In any event, it is important to speak to a medical professional such as a doctor or emergency room physician as soon as possible.

Areas with the highest incidence of infected animals in 2009 were Texas, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Of these infections, wild animals composed 93 percent of all cases with domestic animals representing seven percent.

Of the 467 domestic animals to be infected, cats by far made up the majority of cases (52.9 percent), followed by dogs at 19 percent, cattle, horses and sheep and goats.

In 2009, there were only three human infections.

Symptoms can remain latent for days or even as much as two months. In humans they include irritability, generalized pain, itching or twitching at the infection site, and fever. During the latter stage of the disease, symptoms include muscle spasms in the throat and respiratory tract affecting breathing and swallowing, hallucinations, convulsions, seizures and paralysis.

Rabies affects dogs and cats

In dogs and cats, symptoms are as follows:

  • Early symptoms: Change in tone of dog’s bark, chewing at bite site, fever, loss of appetite, subtle behavior changes.
  • Second stage: craving to eat anything including inedible objects, Constant, growing and barking, Dilated pupils, Disorientation, Erratic behavior, aggression, no fear of natural enemies, seizures, trembling and muscle incoordination.
  • End stage: appears to be choking, drops lower jaw (dogs), inability to swallow leading to drooling, paralysis of jaw, throat and chewing muscles, which spreads to other parts of body causing coma and death.
Through The Eyes Of Your Dog

Owners who want to better understand their canine companions must recognize that dogs see the world from a different visual perspective. The differences begin with the structure of the eye. We have a good idea what dogs see because we know the make-up of the retina of a dog’s eye.

The retina is the light sensitive portion of the eye. This structure is located in the back of the inside of the eyeball. The retina contains two types of light sensitive cells: rods and cones. Cones provide color perception and detailed sight, while rods detect motion and vision in dim light. Dogs have rod-dominated retinas that allow them to see well in the dark. Along with superior night vision, dogs have better motion visibility than humans have. However, because their retinas’ contain only about one-tenth the concentration of cones that humans have, dogs do not see colors as humans do.

Comparison between colors human see and those canines see

Dogs see like a color-blind human. Many people think that a person who is red/green color blind cannot see any color, but there are variations of color blindness. Most people have vision that is trichromatic (three-color variations). People who are red/green color blind are dichromatic (two color variations). Dogs’ retinas can distinguish two colors. These colors are blue-violet and yellow. Dogs can also differentiate between shades of gray. Dogs are unable to recognize green, yellow, orange and red.

Colors that Humans See

Colors That Humans See

Colors that Dogs See

Colors That Dogs See

Dogs use other cues such as smell, texture, brightness and position rather than relying solely on color. Seeing-eye dogs, for example, may not distinguish between a green or red stoplight; they look at the brightness and position of the light. This, along with the flow and noise of traffic, tell the dog that it is the right time to cross the street.

How a dog’s eyes are set determines the field of view as well as depth perception. Prey species tend to have eyes located on the sides of their head. This gives the animals an increased field of view and allows them to see approaching predators. Predator species, like humans and dogs, have eyes set close together. Human eyes are set straight forward while dog eyes, depending on the breed, are usually set at a 20 degree angle. This angle increases the field of view and therefore increases the peripheral vision of the dog.

Increased peripheral vision compromises the amount of binocular vision. Binocular vision occurs where the field of view of each eye overlaps. Binocular vision is necessary for depth perception. The wider-set eyes of dogs have less overlap and less binocular vision, thus, less depth perception). Dogs’ depth perception is best when they look straight ahead. This is not an ideal situation, as their nose often interferes. Predators need binocular vision as a survival tool. Binocular vision aids in jumping, leaping, catching and many other activities fundamental to predators.

The dog’s field of vision is wider than the human’s

In addition to having less binocular vision than humans have, dogs also have less visual acuity. Humans with perfect eyesight are said to have 20/20 vision. This means that we can distinguish letters or objects at a distance of 20 feet. Dogs typically have 20/75 vision. What this means is that they must be 20 feet from an object to see it as well as a human standing 75 feet away. Certain breeds have better visual acuity. Labradors, commonly used as seeing-eye dogs, are bred for better eyesight and may have vision that is closer to 20/20.

If you’re silently standing across the field from your dog, don’t expect him or her to recognize you. He’ll recognize you when you do some sort of motion particular to yourself. He may also recognize your presence by his outstanding sense of smell and/or hearing. Because of the large number of rods in the retina, dogs see moving objects much better than they see stationary objects. Motion sensitivity has been noted as the critical aspect of canine vision. Much of dog behavior deals with posture and appropriateness. Small changes in your body posture mean a lot to your dog. Dog owners need to modify training based on this fact. If you want your dog to perform an action based on a silent cue, we suggest using a wide sweeping hand and arm motion in order to cue your dog.

When dogs go blind, owners often wonder if the dogs’ quality of life has diminished to the point where they are no longer happy. Humans deal well with being blind, and humans are much more dependent on their eyes than are dogs. Blind dogs lead happy lives as long as they are comfortable. The owner may need to make some adjustments in the pet’s environment. Some of these adjustments include fencing the yard, taking leashed walks, and not leaving unusual objects in the dog’s normal pathways. Obviously, most blind dogs cannot navigate stairs very well. When blind dogs are in their normal environment, most people don’t know they are blind.

May is Intestinal Parasite Awareness Month

Did you know that 34 percent of pets are infected with intestinal parasites?

The close relationship between people and their pets increasingly means parasite infections can be shared among dogs, cats and their owners. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 to 3 million people are infected with an intestinal parasite in the United States. Children are at particular risk.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends that fecal examinations for intestinal parasites be conducted at least once a year. In addition, if children are present in the household, the CAPC recommends that you de-worm your pet quarterly.