The veterinarians and staff at the Capitaland 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!

Decision to Have Your Dog Spayed or Neutered

Having your pet spayed (ovariohysterectomy) or neutered (castrated) is an inexpensive and realistic method of pet population control. The number of unwanted adult and young animals that are euthanized each year in the United States is astounding. Aside from the pet overpopulation problem, neutering a male dog and spaying a female helps prevent, and even eliminates, medical problems associated with hormonal imbalances.

Sexual Maturity

Male and female dogs reach sexual maturity around nine months of age. Often, male dogs reach maturity slightly later than females. Sometimes confusion exists between sexual maturity and normal puppy behavior. Normal puppy behavior is often exhibited when he or she straddles the leg(s) of an individual. This behavior has nothing to do with sexual maturity and is performed by both male and female puppies.

It is usually noticeable when a female dog (bitch) reaches sexual maturity. A bloody discharge is seen around her external genital area. This bloody discharge is significant and can last up to 10-14 days. Along with the discharge, the external genitals become swollen. This is the first phase of her heat cycle and is called “estrus.” During the last few days of the estrus phase, the bitch is receptive to the male and can get pregnant. Similar to cats, the gestation period lasts about two months. At the end of the two-month gestation period, puppies (puppies, not a puppy) are born. A typical litter size averages between five to 10 puppies.

Health & Behavioral Benefits of Spaying/Neutering

Aside from having puppies, non-spayed females are more susceptible to mammary gland tumors and uterine infections. Pyometras (infections of the uterus) are extremely common in non-spayed bitches and almost always require emergency surgery. Mammary tumors get large and multiply quickly if left untreated. Having your dog spayed can eliminate both of these conditions.

Having your male dog neutered makes him a better pet. Instead of roaming, he will spend more time at home. Non-neutered male dogs often exhibit aggressive behavior, especially if a non-spayed female is in the vicinity. Dog fights between two non-neutered dogs are not uncommon. Usually one of the dogs ends up severely injured. An aggressive dog will not hesitate to bite a human. Often, non-spayed and non-neutered dogs are significantly more aggressive than spayed and neutered animals. Many people receive serious injuries resulting from dog bites.

Dog neuters and spays are generally performed when animals are six to nine months of age.


Cat playingKitten Play and Behavior

When cats play, they incorporate a variety of behaviors into their play. Aggressive play behavior is particularly common in young cats and in cats that live in one-cat households. Play provides young cats with opportunities to practice skills they would normally need for survival, such as pouncing, stalking, biting, scratching, and clawing. If humans play with a young kitten using their hands and/or feet instead of toys, the kitten is liable to learn that practicing these skills while playing with people is okay. In most cases, it is possible to teach your kitten or young adult cat that rough play is not acceptable behavior.

Since young cats and kittens need a lot of playtime, it is important to set up three or four consistent times during the day to initiate play with your cat. This helps her understand that she is not the one responsible for initiating play. This also helps to avoid unwanted pouncing at inappropriate or inconvenient times.

One way kittens play is by grabbing each other with both front feet, biting each other and kicking with their back feet. This is also a way kittens try to play with hands and feet if being waved in front of them. It is very important to avoid using any part of your body, like fingers or toes. Redirect your cat’s aggressive play behavior onto acceptable objects like toys. It may take some trial and error to find the toy that works best with your kitten so make sure you try a variety.
Often, discouraging unacceptable behavior is the only avenue that is available. You need to set the rules for your kitten’s behavior and your family and friends should reinforce these rules. Your kitten can’t be expected to learn to differentiate between people in terms of when it’s okay for rough play and when it is not.

  • Use aversion techniques to discourage your kitten from nipping or biting– You can either use a squirt bottle filled with water or a can of pressurized air to squirt your kitten when she becomes rough. To use this technique effectively, you always need to have the spray bottle or can handy. Remember that aversion techniques only works if you offer your kitten an acceptable alternative.
  • Redirect the behavior– After you startle your kitten with the air or water, IMMEDIATELY offer her a toy to wrestle with or to chase. This will encourage her to direct her rough play onto a toy instead of a person. It is recommended that you keep a stash of toys hidden in each room specifically for this purpose.
  • Withdraw attention when your kitten starts to play too rough– If the distraction and redirection techniques don’t seem to be working, the most drastic thing you can do to discourage your cat from rough play is to withdraw all attention. Since she wants to play with you, she is going to figure out how far she can go; however, you keep this limit consistent. The best way to withdraw your attention is to walk into another room and close the door long enough for her to calm down. If you pick her up to put her in another room, you’re rewarding her by touching her. You should be the one to leave the room.

If you find that none of these suggestions work and your kitten’s play increases in aggression or becomes unpredictable, it can be best to seek help from a behavior specialist. Kittens can bite or scratch through the skin, and abuse by your cat is not conducive to a caring and mutually beneficial relationship.


Keeping Your Dog from Jumping on Guests

Since dogs generally greet each other through nose-to-nose contact, there is no reason why they shouldn’t do the same thing with people. There are various techniques you can try so your dog won’t jump up on unsuspecting guests. One thing is certain: never pet your dog when he / she jumps on someone. Petting him is a sign of approval and you are sending him a mixed message.

Training Techniques

  • As soon as the dog jumps up, stand tall, look straight ahead, pull your hands up by your chest, say “sit,” and wait for the dog to sit. When the dog does sit, immediately look at the dog, kneel down, and calmly stroke the dog. If the dog jumps up again, stand up and repeat the steps.
  • The second technique involves standing tall, looking straight ahead, pulling your hands up by your chest, and saying “off”. When the dog jumps on you, turn your body toward the wall so the dog can’t reach your face. Another option is to step back outside the door and close the door in the dog’s face (you need to leave it open a crack). Say “sit.” When the dog sits, turn to face the dog, kneel down, and calmly stroke the dog. If the dog jumps up again, stand up, turn, and repeat the steps.
  • The third technique is a follows. Stand tall, look straight ahead, pull your hands up by your chest, say “off,” and continue walking into the dog. The dog will jump back to get out of your way. When all feet are on the floor, say “sit” and wait. When the dog sits, kneel down and calmly stroke the dog. If the dog jumps up again, stand up, walk toward him, and repeat the steps.

You should never allow your dog to jump up on people. This can be dangerous, especially if you have a large dog and children are in the vicinity. A puppy eventually grows into a full size dog. Labrador and golden retriever puppies sometimes weigh more than 100 lbs. when they reach full adult size.


Feline Hearing

Have you ever noticed your cat stalking something you cannot see or hear? Have you ever noticed your cat turning her attention to something or looking quickly in a certain direction while you sit dumbfounded wondering what she is doing? It’s possible that she hears something you do not. Of course, that must mean that when you call your cat and she turns her head as if she doesn’t hear you, she is choosing not to hear you. If you are familiar with “cat-titude,” then knowing about your cat’s hearing can come in handy.

It all begins with the cat’s outer ear, or pinna, which sits on top of the cat’s head. The outer ear is controlled by about 30 different muscles that enable the cat to independently rotate each ear 180 degrees, and position one ear or both facing any sound the cat detects. The shape of the ear is designed to funnel sound down to the middle ear, where the tympanic membrane and three small bones, called auditory ossicles, transmit vibrations into the inner ear. The middle ear also contains a canal called the Eustachian tube that helps to equalize pressure in the ear. Within the inner ear is a curved bone, known as the cochlea. This is where the actual hearing mechanism is located, called the organ of Corti. It is here that small, sensitive hairs pick up sound vibrations and send them through the auditory nerve to the brain.

Each part of the ear, working together, gives the cat superb high-frequency hearing. Since mice squeak at an extremely high frequency, cats can hear these noises. This is no coincidence. Waiting in ambush and listening closely for the slightest squeak, cats’ hearing allows them to be extremely effective hunters. To put it into better perspective, humans can hear frequencies from about 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz while cats, on the other hand, can hear frequencies from about 30 hertz to 60 kilohertz. Cats also have an incredible ability to localize sounds. They can hear and differentiate sounds three feet away whose sources are only three inches apart.

Because hearing is such a large part of a cat’s life, it is important to try to shield them from loud, high-pitch noises such as sirens or loud whistles. It is also important to take sound into account when playing with cats. There are several toys on the market that mimic the sound of prey species to entice cats to play with them. This has the advantage of making the toy much more interesting. However, if the volume is irritating to you then it could be harmful to your cat. So, the next time your cat is sitting nearby and does not respond to your commands, remember that she can hear you loud and clear and is probably choosing to ignore you.


VIDEO – What Are Heartworms?

Why are heartworms a threat to your dog? This short video explains.


Head Against the Wall: It May Look Silly, But It Could Indicate A Problem

It’s known as “pressing;” the strange, yet unquestionably cute behavior of dogs or cats standing with their heads planted face-first against a wall or other object for no apparent reason. Are they putting themselves in timeout? Are they ashamed of something they’ve done? This behavior could indicate a medical problem and should be checked by your veterinarian.

What It May Mean

Head pressing is typically indicative of damage to the pet’s nervous system. What can cause this damage? There are several possibilities.
In addition to poisoning, pressing behavior can also be a symptom of a brain tumor, head trauma, liver shunt, metabolic disorder, infection of the brain or spinal cord, or stroke.
It could also be an indicator of prosencephalon disease. More commonly referred to as the forebrain, the prosencephalon is the forward-most portion of the brain. With this disease, the forebrain and thalamus become damaged and pets may exhibit circling, changes in learned behavior, damaged reflexes, pacing, pressing, seizures, and/or vision problems. Dogs and cats of any age or breed can be affected.

What To Do

A visit to your veterinarian will help get to the bottom of the behavior. Providing your veterinarian with a thorough history of your dog or cat’s health, when the head pressing first began, and possible incidents that might have preceded it, will help him or her in diagnosing the cause.

Diagnostic tests, such as blood and urine testing, radiographs, and a complete physical examination, may determine the cause of the head pressing. Advanced tests, such as MRI or CT scan, may be required if the initial results come back negative.

Not To Be Confused With Normal Behavior

It’s normal for healthy pets to rub or butt their heads against objects, animals, and people. Known as bunting, this is a form of territorial scent-marking. Pressing, on the other hand, indicates a serious medical condition and is abnormal.

By itself, head pressing may not be dangerous to your pet – the concern lies in what it could be signaling. You know your pet better than anyone. If something seems off, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.