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

Celebrate World Animal Day on October 4

Mark your calendars – a major holiday for all animal lovers is quickly approaching. World Animal Day was started in 1931 by a group of ecologists in Florence, Italy. Originally intended to bring awareness to endangered species, the scope of the holiday has since expanded to social justice for animals. Its mission is to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe.

World Animal Day is observed across the globe in a variety of ways, from fundraising for various animal welfare groups to educational events at schools to public celebrations. It only 2003, the organization knew of 44 events held in 13 different countries. It's not estimated that there will be over 1,000 events in over 100 countries. To learn more about World Animal Day, visit the official website.

October is National Pet Wellness Month

Though it may seem like only yesterday that your pet was a playful puppy or curious kitten, pets age more rapidly than humans. At age 2, most pets are considered adults, and by the age 7, pets have entered their senior years. As pets grow older, it becomes increasingly important to spot health problems before they become serious. In order to raise awareness of the pet aging process and promote twice-a-year wellness exams, the American Veterinary Medical Association and Fort Dodge Animal Health has named October "National Pet Wellness Month."

National Pet Wellness Month.

Regular wellness exams are a key part of keeping pets healthy and happy. While annual exams are a good start to keeping your pet healthy, more frequent exams are better. Twice-a-year wellness exams are a way for your veterinarian to detect, treat and, most importantly, prevent problems before they become life-threatening. These exams are also an excellent time for you to ask your vet questions about nutrition, behavior, dental health and other issues. Click here to calculate your pet's age.

Much like humans, as pets age, the risks of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other conditions increase. Many of these conditions are treatable if diagnosed in time, making twice-yearly wellness exams extremely important. For adult cats and dogs (ages 1-6 years), wellness exams include immunizations, parasite and heartworm checks, dental exams, urinalysis and blood and chemistry profiles. For senior pets, these exams also include osteoarthritis exams, thyroid checks and other tests. Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests depending on your pet's health history.

Contact your veterinarian today to schedule a wellness exam for your pet.

What You Should Include in a Pet First Aid Kit

When your pet is injured or poisoned, quick and decisive action can mean the difference between life and death. It is not the time to wonder where you last saw the gauze, if the hydrogen peroxide (used to induce vomiting) is expired, or if you even have styptic powder.

The American Red Cross recommends that the following pet first aid items be kept in a waterproof container:

• Latex gloves

• Gauze sponges

• Gauze roll, 2-inch width

• Elastic cling bandage

• Material to make a splint

• Adhesive tape

• Non-adherent sterile pads

• Small scissors

• Tweezers

• Magnifying glass

• Grooming clippers/safety razor

• Nylon leash

• Towel

• Muzzle

• Compact emergency blanket

• Water-based sterile lubricant

• Hydrogen peroxide 3%

• Rubbing alcohol

• Topical antibiotic ointment

• Antiseptic towelettes

• Insect sting stop pads

• Cotton-tipped swabs

• Instant cold pack

• Epsom salts

• Eye dropper

• Sterile eye lubricant

• Sterile saline wash

• Safety pins (medium size 4)

• Tongue depressors

• Diphenhydramine

• Glucose paste/syrup

• Styptic powder/pencil

• Plastic card

• Petroleum jelly

• Penlight

• Needle-nose pliers

Additional items to consider, include:

• Milk of magnesia and/or activated charcoal to absorb poison

• Digital thermometer for taking your pet’s rectal temperature

• Liquid dish soap for removing a potentially poisonous toxin from your pet's skin

• Canned tuna in water or chicken broth to flush out mouth and esophagus if your pet ingests a chemical (from a plant, household product or cleaner) that causes irritation

Remember to program the following numbers into your phone and post them prominently in your home:

• Your veterinarian

• A local emergency veterinary hospital

• Animal Poison Control Center

Before an emergency, take the time to assemble your own pet first aid kit. You and your pet will be glad you did.

How to Celebrate a Safe Halloween with Your Pets

When witches, princesses and superheroes take to the streets in search of treats this Halloween, they'll have some furry friends by their side. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, total spending for Halloween is expected to reach $8.4 billion this year, an all-time high since the survey began 11 years. With nearly 171 million Americans celebrating Halloween, it's estimated 16 percent of households will not only pick out costumes for themselves, but for their pets as well. Superheroes and mermaids are the top choices for pet costumes, with bees, sharks and Stars Wars-themed garb rounding out the list.

If you plan on letting your pet don a devilish disguise, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. First, make sure your pet wants to wear a costume. While some animals may not mind being outfitted with a pumpkin suit, others may experience extreme discomfort and stress while in costume. Try putting the costume on your pet in advance of the big night to make sure he or she is comfortable with the idea. And while your pet is out trick-or-treating, don't forget about the pets that may be coming to your house - keep a few dog treats by the door to hand out to any four-legged companions accompanying trick-or-treaters.

Whether your pet is dressed like a spider or a dinosaur, make sure the costume allows for easy movement and is not restrictive or confining. However, also be on guard for costumes that drag on the ground. These costumes can get caught in doors or snag on other objects. If your pet's costume includes a mask, modify the eye holes so they are big enough to accommodate your pet's peripheral vision. A pet that can't see may experience increased stress and could become aggressive as a result.

Halloween Pet Celebrations

When the trick-or-treating is over and the treats are ready to be had, be sure to keep chocolate away from your dog. Any amount of chocolate is harmful to your pet, so keep the treats out of their paws, no matter how much they beg. Those cellophane and foil wrappers left behind after the treats are gone are also a potential health hazard for your pet. The wrappers can be caught in your pet's digestive track and cause illness, severe discomfort and even death if the problem is left untreated.

Additional pet safety tips to keep in mind this Halloween:

• Jack o'lanterns and lit candles may look spooky, but they can pose problems for your pet. Rambunctious pets can knock lit pumpkins over and start fires, and wagging tails can easily get burned by open flames. Keep lit pumpkins and candles up on a high shelf to avoid accidents.

• If you're hosting a Halloween party, keep your pet in a separate room, away from all the hustle and bustle. Too many strangers in odd costumes may cause your pet stress. This will also prevent your pet from sneaking out through an open door and darting out into the night.

• Keep your pet indoors during the days and nights around Halloween. Pranksters and vandals have teased, injured, stolen and, in rare cases, killed pets on Halloween. Keeping your pet inside will keep them from becoming a target.

• With all the Halloween festivities, it's a great idea to make sure your pet has proper identification if they escape from your house or become lost while out trick-or-treating.

Halloween can be a fun time for you and your pet. Following the above safety tips will make sure the only scares you experience are all in good fun.

Understanding Your Fearful Cat

When your cat feels threatened, he may have a variety of responses. Generally he follows a pattern or displays one of three reactions: fight, flight or freeze. Each cat has a preferred way of dealing with a crisis. Knowing how your cat reacts to a perceived threat and what may cause your cat to consider a situation threatening helps you better understand your cat.

Common fearful reactions include hiding, freezing in place, loss of bladder and/or bowel control and aggression. Aggression can manifest in spitting, hissing, growling, swatting, biting, scratching and puffing up of fur. These are all normal behaviors if your cat feels scared or threatened. Your reaction to your cat's behavior is most important. Wanting to help and comfort your cat when he is frightened is natural. However, it isn't necessarily the best thing to do. Providing your cat with a safe and protected place like a box or space in the closet is often the best decision. Allowing your cat to deal with his fear is healthy as long as his aggression is not destructive and/or directed at you or other pets.

Many things can trigger fearful behavior in cats. The trigger could almost be anything and until you learn what it is that initiates this behavior in your cat, you need to closely observe him when faced with new situations. Common triggers can be a particular person, a stranger in your home, another animal, a child, loud noises, household appliances and so on. It is important to note if your cat's behavior changes when faced with potentially frightening situations. In other words, the vacuum may draw an initial fearful response, but gradually change into acceptance. By noting your cat's ability to adapt to scary situations over time, you can learn quite a bit about his personality.

So what can you do to reduce your cat's anxiety or fear?

• Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a thorough physical exam to rule out any medical reasons for your cat's fearful behavior. Cats very often show symptoms of sickness in their behavior. Any sudden behavior change could mean that your cat is ill. Common symptoms that appear in sick cats include unusual aggressiveness, frequent hiding and eliminating outside the litter box.

• If your cat is healthy but hiding, leave him alone. He'll come out when he's ready. To force your cat out of his hiding spot will only encourage fearful behavior. Make sure he has access to food, water and a litter box from his hiding place, and avoid "checking in" on him. By giving him space, you will not be conceived as a threat, therefore giving him a sense of security.

• If you have identified a specific person or circumstance that stimulates fear in your cat, minimize contact with that particular person or situation.

• Keep your cats routine as regular as possible. Cats feel more confident if they know what to expect daily. Feeding, playing, cuddling, grooming and napping generally round out a cat's existence. Interfering with you cat's routine may cause him to behave as though threatened.