Newsletter The veterinarians and staff at the Deer Park 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

A Salty Danger: Keeping Your Pet Safe this Winter

With the winter approaching, pet owners should be aware of the dangers posed by rock salt, also known as “ice melt.” Used to combat slippery sidewalks, steps and walkways, rock salt contains a mixture of many minerals which pose unique problems for pets – who, unlike us, walk around bare-pawed all winter.

Pet Paws & Stomachs At Risk

Walking on rock salt-laden ground can lead to local irritation of your pet’s feet. Paws feature mucus membranes which are sensitive to the harsh, drying minerals found in rock salt. Prolonged exposure can lead to cracked paw-skin and, once the sensitive underlying tissue becomes exposed, can be quite painful for your pooch or kitty.

Your pet may want to cleanse his or her feet of the troublesome, yet tasty, substance by engaging in some extensive licking once back indoors. Ingesting the salt in this way, or from treated snow or melted puddles, can cause drooling, painful sores or swelling inside the mouth and oral discomfort. It can also lead to upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. The ASPCA Poison Control Center reports vomiting followed by diarrhea as the most common symptoms of rock salt ingestion in 30 percent of related calls.

However, if your pet decides to eat a buffet of rock salt cubes, this could be toxic and cause lethargy, tremors, disorientation, increased water consumption and seizures. In extreme cases, excessive ingestion can be fatal.

Tips for Cold-Climate Pet Owners

• Keep bags/containers of rock salt out of reach

• Don’t over-salt areas where your pet routinely walks

• Kitty litter works as a safe substitute

• Keep your pet from overeating salty snow or drinking from puddles

• Rinse then towel off your pet's paws after walks

• Monitor paws for excessive dryness, cracking or irritation

• Vaseline can be used as a salt barrier when applied to your pet's paws

• Consider pet booties!

If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested a fair amount of rock salt, call your veterinarian or a Pet Poison Helpline (such as ASPCA's 888-426-4435) immediately.

Advantages Of Spays and Neuters

Spaying or neutering pets is a common procedure, and most pet owners have probably had some experience with having the procedure done on animals they have owned.

Aside from the inconvenience of heat cycles and/or roaming tom cats, there are medical benefits associated to having your pet spayed or neutered. The direct health benefits of spaying or neutering are significant for the pet. If female pets are spayed before their first heat cycle, the risk of developing mammary tumors (breast cancer) is significantly reduced. Spaying female pets eliminates the risk of pyometra, an infection of the uterus. This disease can be very serious, even fatal, in female pets. Male pets can also benefit. Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate disease.

Spaying or neutering can indirectly help prolong a pet's life as well. When pets are spayed or neutered, their tendencies to roam or fight are greatly reduced. This prevents the pets from getting lost, stolen, hit by cars, or contracting a contagious disease.

Cats that fight are at risk of contracting a serious disease called feline leukemia. This disease, which affects the immune system of the cat, can be passed from feline to feline through saliva or blood. Cats also run the risk of contracting feline immune deficiency virus when they fight. This disease is very similar to human HIV. It can lie dormant in the cat for quite a while, and when activated, can cause the cat's immune system to function improperly.

Spaying or neutering dogs can help keep them under control. Dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are more likely to wander away from home. While running loose, they have a chance of being hit by a car, getting lost, stolen or taken to the animal shelter.

Even though spays and neuters are considered routine surgery, there is nothing routine about any abdominal surgery performed under general anesthesia. Most veterinarians consider spays and neuters to be major surgery, especially when spaying older animals that have had several heat cycles or have had litters.

Veterinarians and humane societies advise pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered. The medical advantages have been proven. Complications resulting from these procedures are rare and pets recover from surgery very quickly. Often the day after surgery, animals are bright and alert, sometimes seeming as if nothing had ever happened.

The cost of the procedure varies depending upon the species, sex, size and age of the pet.

New Year's Resolution: Ending Pet Obesity

Should old acquaintance be forgot... Hanging onto the friends and memories of the year past isn't a bad thing, but hanging on to old troubles may be. Pet obesity is still believed to be on the rise in the U.S. as 2016 comes to an end. It seems well-intentioned pet owners can’t kick the habit of viewing their chubby pets as adorable rather than at-risk for serious health issues.

A Troubling Trend

An American Animal Hospital Association task force found that for 2014 obesity rates for both dogs and cats had risen from the previous year. They now estimate 16.7 percent of dogs and 27.4 percent of cats are clinically obese. In all, the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) estimates 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight.

Although those numbers don't speak for 2015, it seems the weight problem has not been resolved.

"The 'fat gap' continues to challenge pet owners," said APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward. "Pet owners think their obese dog or cat is a normal weight, making confronting obesity difficult. No one wants to think their pet is overweight, and overcoming denial is our first battle."

Even with waistlines, diets, and exercise regimens a central focus for a variety of American industries, the obesity rate for humans increased 3 percent from 2011-2012 to 2013-2014. It makes sense that pets' nutritional needs aren't being met when 40 percent of the population is overweight.

With Excess Weight Comes Health Risks

With an increasing trend toward pets being obese rather than just overweight, specialists are concerned. Obesity brings with it a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and even certain forms of cancer.

"It is critical pet owners understand an overweight dog or cat is not a healthy pet," said Dr. Julie Churchill, a veterinary nutritionist at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

For recommendations on proper nutrition, serving size and exercise requirements, contact your veterinarian.

Be a Considerate Pet Owner

No one appreciates a loudmouth or someone who chews with their mouth wide open. These are common rules acknowledged as good etiquette so we are not rude to others.

Being a pet owner also comes with its own etiquette rules and while some may seem obvious, it is always helpful to remind ourselves what we should do to be considerate pet owners. After all, you want people to view you as a responsible pet owner and your furry friend as a well behaved companion.

So, without further ado, here they are:

City vs. Rural Living – The importance and rigidness of pet etiquette are in direct proportion to the population density of where you live. If you live in an urban area there not only will be more etiquette rules, but greater importance placed on them than if you live in a rural area.

Leashes – Many municipalities require all dogs that are walked in public or are taken to specific areas such as parks, beaches and other public places have a leash. People may enjoy seeing dogs at the park, but also may not appreciate them running wild. The ASPCA also recommends that leashes—particularly those in urban areas—be kept to six feet or less and be thick enough for walkers, people on rollerblades, bicyclers and joggers to see.

Get a License – Being sure to purchase a license for your pet is not only a legal requirement in many communities, but could help identify a lost pet and pays for animal control efforts. A license also shows that you take being a pet owner seriously and participate in your community’s efforts to document pet ownership.

Scoop the Poop – Seems obvious, but there are those sidewalks and parks with a ridiculous number of landmines. Also, animal feces can have parasites and present other health issues, especially for young children.

Peeing – Gardeners often put a lot of effort into their flower beds, bushes and trees, so be respectful and try to avoid letting your dog pee on them.

Train dogs with four commands

Commands – Being in control of your pet is more than simply having a leash. From an early age, it is important to train your dog to obey what have become known as the Four Basic Commands: sit/stay, heal, leave it and come.

Noise – If loud noises cause your dog to become scared, nervous and/or act out in some way, stay aware of the potential for a loud noise such as a car horn or siren to occur. Also try to avoid having your dog surprised by a sudden movement or commotion near him or her such as a bicyclist or jogger passing from behind.

Tying Your Dog Up – Leaving your dog tied to a tree or post while you get a drink or shop means others have to avoid your dog. This is worse if your dog has trouble when it can’t see you or becomes anxious when tied.

Bad Apples – Even though most pet owners are responsible and considerate, there are always a few bad apples out there that give all pet owners a bad name. If you see someone not picking up after their pet or allowing their dog to be a nuisance, find a way to politely remind them that manners and pet etiquette are important.

For more, visit: the ASPCA's website on urban dog etiquette.