Monthly Newsletter

Duluth Animal Hospital Newsletter

Duluth Animal HospitalThe veterinarians and staff at the Duluth 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 Duluth Animal Hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

Beat the Heat: Summer Care Tips for Cats

The summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather, but you may want to leave Kitty indoors while you frolic in the sun. While it's easy for you to keep cool when temperatures rise, cats have a much more difficult time when it comes to beating the heat. Here are some tips to keep your feline family members nice and cool in the summer.

Cats generally handle warmer temperatures better than dogs, but owners should remain vigilant about Kitty during the summer months. The easiest way to keep your cat cool in the summer is to keep him or her indoors during the hottest parts of the day. If you do let your cat venture outside, do so early in the morning or at dusk when the temperature is cooler and there is more shade from the sun. While your cat is inside, keep plenty of fresh, cool water available throughout the house. If the weather is extremely hot, consider wrapping your cat in a cool, damp towel or placing a plastic bag full of ice under their bed.

Keep your cat cool during the summer months

When the weather is extremely hot and humid, cats can be prone to heat stroke. Very old cats, as well as obese cats and those with existing health problems are especially susceptible to heath stroke. Owners should also be aware of signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. A cat's normal body temperature should be between 100.5 degrees F and 101.5 degrees F. Any temperature higher than 102 degrees F is dangerous, and immediate action should be taken to lower the cat's temperature. If a cat's temperature increases to 107 degrees F, he or she is possibly suffering the effects of heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Panting
  • Staring
  • Anxious expression
  • Warm, dry skin
  • High fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

If your cat begins exhibiting any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately. To cool your cat down, remove him or her from the area and apply towels soaked in cool water to your cat's skin. Immersion in a cool water bath for 30 minutes may also help lower your cat's temperature. While on the way to the veterinarian's office, place ice packs around your cat's head and body. No matter how you cool your cat off, you must bring him or her to a veterinarian as intravenous fluids may be required. Heat stroke can be fatal if left untreated.

Keep your cat cool during the summer months

Even though Kitty is covered in a fine coat of fur, she is just as susceptible to sunburn as you. Cats with white coats or white ears and faces are particularly prone to feeling the effects of the sun's rays. And while sunburn is discomforting for your cat in the short term, it can also have long term effects. Extended exposure to direct sunlight can lead to squamous cell carcinoma, a form of cancer that usually appears at the tips of the ears and on the nose. Signs of squamous cell carcinoma include sores that bleed excessively or do not heal. The best way to protect your cat is to keep him or her out of direct sunlight in the summer time. If your cat is going outdoors, you can protect his or her skin with an application of sunscreen; however, be sure only to use a sunscreen formulated for cats. Sunscreen not designed for cats can result in drooling, lethargy, diarrhea and excessive thirst. Ask your veterinarian about sunscreens that are right for your cat.

Your cat may also face other, non-weather-related problems in the summertime. Cats outdoors for a roam may be tempted to take a taste of antifreeze puddles they find in streets and driveways. Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets—it only takes one to two teaspoons of antifreeze to poison a cat. Symptoms include vomiting, excessive thirst/urination, depression and a wobbly gait. If you suspect your cat has ingested antifreeze, get him or her to a veterinarian immediately. Owners should also make sure there are no open, unscreened windows in their homes. Adventurous cats may jump or accidentally fall out of open windows, leading to broken bones and other injuries.

Summer can be a carefree, easy time for you and your pet, so long as you both play it safe and keep cool. Ask your veterinarian if you have any questions about beating the heat this summer.

Fourth Of July Pet Safety Tips

Fireworks and the Fourth of July go together like ... well, fireworks and the Fourth of July. While you may already have safeguards in place for people and children, there are additional things to consider for pet owners. Here are a few tips on helping your pets remain safe and happy while dealing with fireworks.



Always keep fireworks out of reach of your pet- While this may seem obvious for lit fireworks, it’s important to keep unlit fireworks away from your pets as well. Ingesting fireworks could be lethal for your pet. If your pet does get into your fireworks, contact your veterinarian right away.

Be aware of projectiles- Roman candles, for example, have projectile capabilities. If used incorrectly, an ejected shell can hit a pet, causing burning. If your pet gets burned, contact your veterinarian right away.

Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier- Never let your pets run free in an area where fireworks are going off.

Know what do to in case of a seizure- For some animals, being in the presence of fireworks can trigger a seizure. If your pet is prone to seizures, he or she should never be around fireworks – but most pet owners won’t know if their dog is prone to seizures until he or she experiences one. If this happens, stay calm and remove any objects in the area that might hurt your pet. Do not attempt to move your pet, as they may bite without knowing it. When the seizure is over, move him or her into an area clear of the firework’s sights and sounds. Call your veterinarian right away.

Ease your pet’s fear- Many pets are frightened of fireworks, and may exhibit fear by whimpering, crying or otherwise displaying uneasiness. Create a safe space for these animals before the event. During the fireworks, use the radio, television, fan or air conditioner to create white noise that will drown out the sound of the fireworks.


By planning ahead and keeping key information in mind, your pet can have a happy, stress-free Fourth of July – and so can you!

Fireworks Are Dangerous to Your Pet

If you thought it would be harmless to mix pets and fireworks, think again. All fireworks should be kept at a safe distance from curious and unsuspecting pets. Anything from small smoke bombs and sparklers to large aerial displays has the potential to cause severe burns. The face, mouth and paws are the most common places pets get burned by fireworks. Furthermore, fireworks can also contain heavy metals that are used as coloring agents and may cause poisoning if ingested. Symptoms of heavy metal/fireworks poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, jaundice, tremors and seizures.


If your pet may have ingested fireworks, immediate examination by a veterinarian is recommended. Do not induce vomiting at home as it can cause severe burns, especially in the mouth and upper gastrointestinal tract. While the prognosis is good in many cases involving the ingestion of small fireworks and minor burns, that is often not the case when the pet has ingested several fireworks. This is due to liver and nerve damage.

As you enjoy your holiday, remember to use common sense, and always put safety first for all family members.

How to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer

People usually prepare themselves for the dangers of increased temperatures. But as the dog days of summer approach, our trusted companions also need special attention to insure that they don’t get burned. Like for us, the summer months bring an increased danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for dogs.

People naturally regulate their body temperature by sweating. Dogs mainly cool themselves by panting or breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. The process of panting directs air over the mucous membranes (moist surface) of the tongue, throat and trachea (windpipe). The air that is flowing over these organs causes evaporation, thus cooling the animal. Another mechanisms that helps remove heat includes dilation of blood vessels in the skin of the face, ears and feet. Dilated blood vessels located on the surface of the body cause the blood to loose heat to the outside air.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Like people, dogs can become overheated. If it rises to 105 or 106 degrees, the dog is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. If the body temperature rises to 107 degrees, the dog has entered the danger zone of heat stroke. With heat stroke, damage to the body can be irreversible. Organs begin to shut down, and veterinary care is immediately needed.



Fortunately, if owners recognize heat exhaustion, they can prevent the dog from entering heat stroke. People can easily recognize when the heat gets to them because they become lightheaded and fail to sweat. For dogs, early signs of heat exhaustion may include failure to salivate and a dry mouth. Heat exhaustion may also include a dog lying down and looking tired, losing its appetite and becoming unresponsive to owners.

If heat exhaustion progresses into heat stroke, the dog becomes very warm to touch and may have seizures. Internal mechanisms roll into effect that may cause blood clotting and organ damage. If you are near a phone and think that heat stroke is a possibility, call your veterinarian immediately. If a veterinarian is not within reach, or while waiting for a veterinarian, get the dog out of the sun and cool him or her down with cool water baths (cool—not cold). Provide a fan, especially if you wet the dog down, and encourage him or her to drink water.

While these steps may help a dog, the best treatment is prevention. In order to prevent overheating, some owners may shave their dogs or trim their fur excessively. This isn’t always a good idea. The hair coat may appear to be a burden for a dog; however, it can also keep the animal comfortable by trapping cool air next to the skin, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the hot outside air to the body of the dog.

Dogs with long or thick coats that have problems with matted hair are often good candidates for clipping. Matted hair can cause skin irritation and is undesirable. Owners that do not have time to adequately remove mats and debris from their dog’s coat may prefer to have the coat clipped short. After a short clipping, and if the dog is outdoors, owners need to be careful of sunburn. Sunscreen may be applied to the dog’s skin; however, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian to find out which ones are safe.

Here are some other tips for keeping your dog cool this summer:

  • Keep dogs indoors in air conditioning on very hot days.
  • Do not leave dogs in a car during the summer. Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a car can quickly rise to above 120 degrees. Make sure outdoor dogs have plenty of shade.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times.
  • On very hot days, exercise dogs early in the morning or late in the evening. If this is not possible, exercise in an air conditioned environment.
  • Provide your dog with a sprinkler or wading pool on very warm days.
  • If you take the dog to a lake, make sure it has plenty of time to drink and get wet. Most dogs can drink lake water without adverse effects.
  • If your dog has a light coat or exposed skin, take precautions against sunburn.
  • Dogs can acclimate to warm temperatures and have no trouble staying outdoors in the heat. However, dogs that are used to cool climates or air conditioning should not be left outside on hot days.
  • Acclimating your dog gradually is the key.

If you have questions about caring for your dog during the summer months, please give your veterinarian a call.

June is Adopt-A-Cat Month - Here's How to Find the Right Purring Companion

You may have heard the saying, "You own a dog, but you feed a cat." It is true that cats value their independence a bit more than their canine counterparts. But, if you've ever been around cats, you already know they crave and require love and companionship. Cats make wonderful pets and most easily adjust to a variety of lifestyles and living spaces. Every cat is a true individual though, so it's important to take the time to choose a four-footed friend who's right for you. A cat's personality, age and appearance, as well as the kinds of pets you already have at home, are all things you should keep in mind when making your selection.

If you've ever been to a shelter, you have probably noticed that some cats meow and head butt the cage door while others simply lie back and gaze at you with a look of total ambiguity. There are as many different personalities of cats as there are cats in the shelter. Which disposition is best for you? YOU have to decide.

Regardless of individual personality, look for a cat that is playful, active, alert and comfortable while being held. At the shelter, ask an adoption counselor for assistance when you wish to spend some time with individual cats. Because they are in an unfamiliar environment, some cats that are usually quite social may be frightened or passive while in the shelter.

As a general rule, kittens are curious, playful and full of energy, while adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous. Kittens also require more time to train and feed. Cats are only kittens for a few months, though, so the age of the cat you adopt should really depend on the level of maturity you are looking for. Young children usually don't have the maturity to handle kittens responsibly, so a cat that is at least 4 months old is probably the best choice for homes with young children.



They All May Be Cute, But Which Is Right For You?

Though dogs also have differences in coat, choosing the length of coat on a cat is a little different. Because the hair is generally finer and cats generally shed more, hair length can be an important part of your decision. Cats can have long, fluffy coats or short, dense fur and the choice between the two is chiefly a matter of preference, availability and your willingness to devote time to regular grooming. Short-haired cats are generally easier to come by since they're the most popular and the most common. Keep in mind that long-haired cats require frequent grooming to remain mat-free. Felines with short coats also require brushing, though less frequently. Most cats enjoy a regular brushing and look forward to this daily ritual.

If you already own a cat or dog, you're probably wondering how easy it is to add a cat to the family. The good news is that cats can get along with other cats, and despite the common stereotype, most dogs can get along with cats too. Unfortunately, introducing a new cat to a home with other pets can be time consuming and require patience on your part.

The best way to handle adding a new cat to the home is to provide time for a period of adjustment. You can do this effectively by isolating your new feline in a room of his own for a while, something that is a good idea for a new cat anyway. After several days, supervise meetings between the animals for periods of increasing length. Most cats will soon learn to accept each other. Some dogs simply won't tolerate the presence of a cat, but by carefully introducing them, most problems can be solved.


No matter which kind of cat you choose, remember that you're making a commitment to love and care for your new feline friend for his or her lifetime. That could mean 10, 15 or even 20 years. So choose you new companion carefully and be a responsible pet owner. In no time at all, you'll know how wonderful sharing your home with a cat can be.

For more information about Adopt-A-Cat month, please visit the American Humane Association's website.

Summer Exacerbates Your Pet’s Breathing Problems



With summer in the air, it’s getting particularly hard for some animals to breath. This is especially the case for short-nosed – or flat-faced dogs such as the Pekingese, pug, bulldog, boxer, shih tzu and chihuahua. However, these airway problems, which are typically due to narrow nostrils, a long soft palate or collapsed voice box, can also affect our feline friends, such as Himalayans and exotic shorthairs. This condition (known as the Brachycephalic airway syndrome) is largely due to the dog or cat’s unique head shape, so there isn’t much you can do to entirely avoid it.

However, there are certain factors that can increase the risk and further complicate their breathing condition. These include:

  1. Allergies
  2. Obesity
  3. Over-excitement
  4. Exercise: Panting may also naturally increase in the summer months as the weather gets hotter and more humid.

Treatment options largely depend on the symptoms exhibited by your dog or cat. In some cases, surgical procedures may be your pet’s best option. So don’t let the summer heat waves stop your pet from getting a breath of fresh air. For more information about symptoms and treatments, talk to your local veterinarian.

How to Safely Use Flea Products

Never use insecticides on very young, pregnant, debilitated, or elderly animals without consulting your veterinarian.

When using a fogger or spray in your home, make sure to remove all pets from the house for the time period specified on the container. Food and water bowls should be removed from the area. Allow time for the product to dry completely before returning your animals to your home. Open windows or use fans to air out the household before returning your pets to the treated area. Strong fumes can be irritating to your animal's eyes and upper respiratory system.

Birds are more sensitive to fumes and usually require more time than other pets before their return to the treated home. Contact your veterinary health professional for advice on product usage around your birds.

Observe your pet closely after using flea products. If your pet exhibits unusual behavior or becomes depressed, weak or uncoordinated, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

Always, always, always read the label first! This could save the life of your pet.

Take Your Dog to Work Day is Friday, June 23

Take Your Dog to Work Day

Initially celebrated in 1999, Pet Sitters International's Take Your Dog To Work Day® (TYDTWDay®) was created for two reasons: first, to celebrate dogs’ innate virtues of loyalty, love and dedication to their human companions, and second, to encourage canine adoption from rescue shelters, humane societies and breed rescue clubs. This year, the annual event occurs on Friday, June 23 and employers are encouraged to support TYDTWDay by opening their workplace to employees’ canine friends. Participation will create an immediate “feel good” workplace environment and allow your staff to meet each other's special family members.

Looking for additional ways to celebrate and support this popular day?

- Solicit photos and designate a bulletin board for a “Dog/Owner Look-Alike Contest”
- Host a Pet Fair. Provide ASPCA or shelter materials and client educational materials regarding dog adoption, preventive care, training, diets, etc.
- Award a “Top Dog” honor, which employee’s dog can do the best trick, has the cutest face or the most endearing personality?

So don’t let sleeping dogs lie. Win over your employees and your clients by participating in this fun annual event and watch as wagging tails spread office joy.

Laboratory Tests Explained

Looking at the results of laboratory tests done on your pet can be very confusing, overwhelming and at times, even frightening. As your pet's caregiver, it is important for you to have a general understanding of laboratory tests and what their results mean. This information can be valuable when it comes to deciding medical treatment options that are important as well as available for your pet.

Generally, in order to conduct a test a sample of your pet's blood and/or urine is collected. Once collected, it can be stored in various kinds of tubes to help preserve the sample and provide the laboratory technicians with a clean specimen.

So what does it mean when your veterinarian says she needs to run some blood work on your pet? Blood work (pre-surgical or otherwise) is usually a combination of a complete blood count (CBC) and a blood chemical analysis. Blood work is a basic evaluation tool. It also helps your veterinarian diagnose a pet's disease or monitor the progression of a disease. The cellular elements of the blood are examined in the CBC. The CBC determines the number of erythrocytes (red blood cells), the number and type of leukocytes (white blood cells), the number of thrombocytes (platelets), the hemoglobin level and the hematocrit (packed cell volume or PCV). Erythrocytes carry oxygen throughout the body. Leukocytes fight infection and are part of the immune system. Platelets are clotting proteins and can indicate how fast your pet's blood clots; slow clotting can be a serious problem. A CBC can tell your veterinarian if your pet has an unusual number of red blood cells, white cells or platelets. The numerical values for these cells can indicate if your pet's health is improving or deteriorating.


Veterinary Blood Test

The results of a chemistry panel can indicate how well your pet's kidney and liver are functioning and the level of electrolytes in the blood. The chemistry panel usually includes the following tests:

• Alkaline phosphatase- Used extensively as a tumor marker, it is also present with liver injury, bone injury, pregnancy, or skeletal growth (elevated values). Growing animals have normally higher levels of this enzyme. Low levels are sometimes found in protein deficiency, malnutrition and a number of vitamin deficiencies.

• Alanine transaminase- Increased levels are seen in liver damage, kidney infection, chemical pollutants or myocardial infarction.

• Bilirubin (total)- Elevated in liver disease, hemolytic anemia, low levels of exposure to the sun and toxic effects to some drugs. Decreased levels are seen in people with an inefficient liver, excessive fat digestion and possibly a diet low in nitrogen bearing foods.

• Blood urea nitrogen- Increases can be caused by excessive protein intake, kidney damage, certain drugs, low fluid intake, intestinal bleeding, exercise, or heart failure. Decreased levels may be due to a poor diet, malabsorption, liver damage or low nitrogen intake.

• Creatinine- Low levels are sometimes seen in kidney damage, protein starvation, liver disease, or pregnancy. Elevated levels are sometimes seen in kidney disease due to the kidneys job of excreting creatinine, muscle degeneration and some drugs involved in impairment of kidney function.

• Glucose- Elevated in diabetes, liver disease, obesity, and pancreatitis due to steroid medications, or during stress. Low levels may be indicative of liver disease, overproduction of insulin or hypothyroidism.

• Total protein- Decreased levels may be due to poor nutrition, liver disease, malabsorption, diarrhea or severe burns. Increased levels are seen in lupus, liver disease, chronic infections, leukemia, etc.

• Albumin- High levels are rarely seen and are primarily due to dehydration. Low levels are seen in poor diets, diarrhea, fever, infection, liver disease, inadequate iron intake, third-degree burns and edemas and hypocalcemia.

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