The veterinarians and staff at the Beach Veterinary Clinic 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

Blood Testing - What It All Means

We are pleased to provide you with some information regarding blood testing. Do not hesitate to call the hospital if you have specific questions.

Many technologies that help humans live longer, healthier lives are available to your pet. By performing some basic blood tests, your veterinarian can gather information concerning the health and well being of your pet.


This blood test actually consists of several tests that evaluate the number and type of blood cells in the circulation. Cells that are evaluated consist of white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC), and platelets.

Veterinary Laboratory Technician Counting Blood Cells

Laboratory Technician Counting Blood Cells

White blood cells are important in helping the body fight infection. Red blood cells are fundamental for carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues. The measurement of these cells can indicate anemia, infection, leukemia, stress, and inflammation.

Microscopic view of Canine Red Blood Cells

Close-Up View - Canine Red Blood Cells

Microscopic view of dog blood

Close-Up View - The Arrow Is pointing To A Neutrophil (Type Of White Blood Cell)

Platelets are involved in the blood clotting process and if low (in number) can indicate a bleeding disorder.

The hematocrit (HCT) provides information pertaining to the relative number of red blood cells (RBC) in circulation. This test is used to diagnose anemia and dehydration.


These tests survey many of the organ systems of the body in order to make sure they are working properly.

Albumin (ALB) - Low levels indicates chronic liver or kidney disease, intestinal disease, or intestinal parasites (hookworm).

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) - Elevated with liver disease or injury.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) - Elevated levels can indicate liver disease or Cushing’s disease.

Amylase (AMYL) - Elevated blood levels can indicate pancreatic and / or kidney disease.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) - Reflects kidney and liver disease as well as dehydration.

Cholesterol (CHOL) - Elevated levels are seen in many disorders. Some include liver and kidney disease and hypothroidism.

Creatinine (CREA) - Elevated levels can be due to kidney disease or urinary tract obstruction.

Blood Glucose (GLU) - High levels can indicate diabetes. Low levels can indicate liver disease, infection or certain tumors.

Total Bilirubin (TBIL) - Levels of Bilirubin are useful in diagnosing anemia and bile duct problems.

Total Protein (TP) - This can detect many conditions. Some include liver, kidney, and gasrointestinal diseases as well as dehydration.


Calcium (Ca) - Increased levels are seen with certain tumors and kidney and parathyroiud gland disease.

Phosphorus (PHOS) - Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease.

Sodium, Potassium, Chloride - all should be within normal levels. Vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea can affect their levels.

Poison Jerky Treats: Why the FDA Hasn’t Recalled Potentially Fatal Pet Food

Veterinarians have been urging pet owners not to feed their pets Chinese-made jerky treats, saying the treats can cause Falconi syndrome, a rare and often fatal illness that arises from kidney problems. Nearly 600 animal deaths and 3,600 cases of illness have been linked to the treats, but the FDA has yet to issue a recall.

According to the FDA, testing for contaminants in the jerky treats has not yet revealed a cause for the illness. Because the FDA cannot recall products without reason, the treats have remained on pet store shelves. The treats have been tested for dozens of harmful substances, but because they are hard and stiff, they are difficult to break down in solvents for chemical analysis.

Poison Jerky Treats

For now, veterinarians recommend that pet owners exercise caution and stop dolling out the treats. “I tell every dog owner I meet: Do not feed these treats,” said veterinarian Sofia Morales.

Normal Cat Behavior

Domestic cats are descendants of the African wildcat, and many of the characteristic behaviors of these ancestors are still exhibited by cats today. An understanding of the origin and purpose of such behaviors can help cat owners appreciate their feline companions more fully and lead to an enhanced human-animal relationship.

Social Behavior: Once thought to be asocial animals, it is now recognized that domestic cats can form complex social groupings. Studies have repeatedly shown that they form territories or ranges in which they live and defend these from intruders. In stable situations, cat territories can overlap without overt antagonistic interactions.

Communication: The cat has three primary methods of communication: vocal, visual, and olfactory. Vocal communication involves a variety of sounds that convey different messages. Visual communication involves the body posture and facial expressions. For example, the position of the ears, hair, and tail can offer important information about the emotional state of the cat. Olfactory communication plays a very important role in communication. The deposition of scents via facial marking, anal secretions, and urine marking is an important communication tool for the feline.

Sexual Behavior: Female cats are seasonally polyestrus, with peaks in the Northern Hemisphere occurring from January to March and again from May to June. If they are not bred, estrus will last about 10 days and the female will cycle every three weeks for several months. During estrus, the female will engage in increased activity, vocalizations, and marking with urine and other glandular secretions. Crouching with rear end elevated and rolling are common body postures that a female may exhibit during estrus.

Eating Behavior: In the wild the cat developed as a solitary hunter that targeted various small prey. This led to an eating pattern of multiple small meals with considerable variety in the diet. Many domesticated cats fed ad libitum continue this pattern and exhibit a preference for a variety of foods.

Elimination Behavior: Kittens start to eliminate independently at about four weeks of age. They instinctively prefer to eliminate in fine particulate material with good drainage. Most cats will investigate a potential spot, dig a hole, and pass urine or feces in the squatting position. Cats usually will then cover the elimination.

Sleeping Patterns: Although cats have traditionally been described as nocturnal creatures, they are actually crepuscular by nature, which means that they are more active in the twilight and evening hours. The average adult cat spends 10 hours per day sleeping and an additional five hours resting.

The Schipperke

The small stature and inquisitive nature of the Schipperke makes it an alluring breed. But the origins of the Schipperke (pronounced "Skipper-Key") remain shrouded in mystery. The known history of the breed begins in 1690, but the origins of the breed are unclear. The Schipperke was first recognized as a breed in the 1880s, with the standard written in 1889. In the mid-19th century, the breed was extremely popular in Belgium and was designated the national dog. Around that time, Queen Marie Henriette acquired a Schipperke, and soon, the breed became popular amongst all classes, from workers to royalty. Much of their early history comes from a French sporting magazine in the 19th century. The first Schipperkes came to America in the late 19th century.

Even the origin of the Schipperke’s name is in doubt. It is traditionally thought to mean "little captain," coming from the Flemish "Schip," meaning "boat." However, in the early 20th century, it was popularly thought that the name was a corruption of the "Shapocke" or "Scheperke," the Flemish for "little shepherd." Whatever the origin, Schipperkes are known primarily as barge dogs, with members of the breed found working the barges in Belgian canals.

Schipperke’s are intelligent and have numerous traits in other breeds. They have been known to hunt vermin and keep horses and other livestock in line, and are also known to be excellent guard dogs. Schipperkes still have a reputation as boat dogs.

Schipperkes are energetic, curious, independent and fearless. These traits, along with their hunting, herding and watching skills, make them excellent companions; however, owners should be prepared to give their Schipperke lots of attention. Schipperkes need plenty of physical and mental exercise lest they become bored. Positive training is also important—the Schipperke’s willful nature can make life difficult for owners unless the dog is trained early on.

Pilling Your Dog

How To Give Your Dog A Pill

So, the veterinarian has sent you and your not-so-well dog home with a bottle of pills and some instructions.

Don't worry. Giving pills to your dog is just a matter of know-how and plenty of praise. Here are the steps to follow. Note: Giving a pill to your dog is not the same as giving a pill to your cat.

Pilling a Dog

  1. Gently take hold of the head from above, placing your thumb and fingers on either side of the muzzle. Squeeze firmly in and up just behind the canine teeth ("fangs"). The dog's mouth should open.
  2. Use your free hand to hold on to the pill while lowering the animal's jaw. With the mouth open wide, place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible, pushing it even farther with your index finger.
  3. Gently close and hold the muzzle while your dog swallows. You can encourage this by stroking the underside of the throat downward.
  4. Finally, give your dog lots of praise and reinforcement each time he swallows a pill.

Here are additional helpful tips for pilling your dog:

The more quickly you perform the above steps, the better.

Film-coated pills are best. They go down more easily and don't dissolve as quickly, which is important if it takes you more than one try.

If you can't get the pill down, try disguising it in something your dog loves (example: peanut butter or cream cheese).

Check with your veterinarian, because some medication should not be given with food.

VIDEO: Lyme Disease and Pets

For more than one hundred years, Lyme Disease has steadily crept across the United States, with more human and pet cases being seen each year. We know that ticks are responsible for spreading the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease, but did you know that the spring time robin may play a part as well? New research has shown that many songbirds are instrumental in the expansion of this serious disease. Learn what you can do to keep your pets safe from ticks that are taking flight.

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Most Common Feline Poisonings

Cats are sensitive to many toxic agents, sometimes in ways unique to their species. Although cats are less likely than dogs to expose themselves through "curious" ingestions, cats do have more of a tendency to nibble on deadly agents. Cats are also able to jump to high places and squeeze into small spaces that are out of reach to dogs, children and even adults! Lastly, because of their need to groom, cats with skin exposure to hazardous chemicals are likely to receive an oral dose as well. In this article we describe 10 common household hazards that are dangerous to cats. The products listed below have been selected based on the most frequent feline exposures reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) over the last four years.

1-2. Canine topical treatments and other topical insecticides

Believe it or not, owners often accidentally apply dog flea and tick treatments on their cats. In some cases, cats have even developed signs of poisoning after being in close contact (sleeping near or grooming) with a dog that has recently been treated with a flea/tick topical medication. Initial signs of intoxication may appear within a few hours but can take 24 to 72 hour to show up. Full body tremors are the most common, though seizures may also occur.

Be sure to read instructions when applying

Cats may also have an adverse reaction to topical insecticides specifically designed for cats. In general, topical flea control products applied according to the label directions do not cause problems. If signs such as irritation of the skin or hypersensitivity appear, wash the product off with a mild detergent. If a cat licks the applied product, hyper-salivation, agitation and occasionally vomiting, may develop. The best way to avoid any problems is to read the directions carefully and thoroughly before applying any topical medication or product on your cat.

3. Venlafazine

NOT for kitty!

Venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR-Wyeth) is an antidepressant available in tablets and capsules. Cats seem to be big fans of venlafazine and readily eat capsules containing the drug Although this is not a common household drug it can cause serious illness if ingested. Clinical signs include dilated pupils, vomiting, tachypnea (rapid breathing), tachycardia (rapid heart rate), ataxia, and agitation. Signs generally begin within one to eight hours after ingesting the medication. The prognosis is good with timely treatment and close monitoring.

4. Glow sticks and jewelry

What's inside can be very dangerous

Glow sticks and jewelry are plastic bracelets, necklaces, and wands that contain a liquid that glows in the dark. The jewelry is popular throughout the summer, especially around the Fourth of July and at Halloween. Cats frequently bite into the jewelry, but due to the extremely unpleasant taste of the liquid chemical, they generally don't ingest more than a small amount. Almost immediately after biting into a piece of glow jewelry, a cat exhibits signs of a taste reaction, including hyper salivation, agitation, and, occasionally, vomiting. The behavioral changes are likely due to the cat's reacting to the unpleasant taste. A tasty treat such as milk, liquid from a tuna fish can, or other palatable food can ameliorate the taste reaction. Remove any liquid on the fur with a wet washcloth to prevent re-exposure. Since the liquid is designed to glow in the dark, it is easiest to identify the chemical on the cat in a darkened room.

5. Lilies

Pretty, but not for kitty to eat!

Though beautiful to look at, lilies can pose a threat to cats. While many plants are called lilies, cats can develop acute renal failure after ingesting Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, Tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies and Day lilies. Within two to four hours after ingesting any part of the plant (including the pollen), vomiting and depression can occur. Often the cat seems to recover only to deteriorate rapidly about 24 to 72 hours after the exposure. The symptoms that appear include frequent urination, frequent drinking of water and more severe depression. The prognosis is good with prompt, aggressive treatment.

6. Liquid Potpourri

Smells nice, but not edible!

Who doesn't like a pleasant smelling house? Unfortunately, liquid potpourri, used for just that purpose, is hazardous to cats. Cats, ever the curious species, may lick the product from the container or from their fur if exposed to a spill. The liquid may contain high concentrations of detergents, essential oils or a combination of both. Clinical signs of ingestion include upset stomach, drooling, depression and hypotension. If skin or eye exposure occurs, skin irritation and ulceration along with severe corneal ulceration can occur.

7. NSAIDs - Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

They help us, but not our cats

Cats may be exposed to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) either by owner administration or, more rarely, by self-ingestion. Although NSAIDs are a group of medications, the most common ones are carprofen (Rimadyl), ibuprofen, deracoxib, naproxen (Aleve), etodolac, meloxicam, and indomethacin. Ingestion of these NSAIDs can cause stomach upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, ulceration, bleeding and ulcer perforation. Acute renal failure, seizures and comas have been associated with higher doses. In general, cats have a low tolerance for NSAIDs. For example, cats are thought to be at least twice as sensitive to ibuprofen as dogs. Because of this sensitivity, most exposures require emergency, aggressive treatment.

8. Acetaminophen

Cures our aches, but causes them in our cats

Acetaminophen, most commonly known as Tylenol, is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve pain and reduce fevers. Most often, owners attempting to help relieve their cat's discomfort, wind up causing harm by administering acetaminophen as a pain reliever. As with NSAIDs, cats should never be given acetaminophen as a pain reliever. Specifically, acetaminophen breaks down into smaller pieces that bind to red blood cells and other tissue cells, resulting in the destruction of these cells. In other words, just one pill can cause significant tissue damage in cats. Signs of intoxication develop quickly and can include salivation, vomiting, weakness, abdominal pain and fluid build up (edema) in the face or paws.

9. Rodenticides (rat poison)

Poisons intended to kill rats, mice, gophers, moles and other pesky mammals are among the most common and deadly of household poisons. Since rodents and cats are all mammals, it makes sense that substances highly poisonous to mice, for example, would be just as lethal to cats. It cannot be stressed enough that rodenticides are highly toxic and any such poisons designed to kill small mammals need to be carefully stored away from curious kitties. Also, since cats can be natural rodent hunters, it would be wise to let nature take its course as opposed to exposing your cat to a deadly toxin.

Not just deadly to rats!

While there are many categories of rodenticides, the most common poisoning seen in veterinary practice is that of the anti-coagulant kind. Anti-coagulant rodenticides have ingredient names like warfarin, fumarin, diphacinone, and bromadiolone. These poisons act by interfering with a cat's ability to utilize vitamin K. Without vitamin K, a cat's blood is unable to clot when necessary, which can ultimately cause severe blood loss, anemia, hemorrhage and death. Generally, clinical signs are not seen until three to five days after the cat has ingested the poison. Symptoms resulting from intoxication are weakness, difficulty breathing, pale mucous membranes, bruising and bleeding from the nose. Other types of rodenticides can cause neurological signs such as incoordination and seizures as well as cardiac failure.

If accidental ingestion of rat poison is suspected, contact your veterinarian immediately, even if your cat is showing no obvious signs of being ill. Be sure, if possible, to bring the poison container to the veterinary hospital in order to determine the specific rodenticide ingested. Early recognition is critical, as some toxicities can be treated successfully if caught early and treated appropriately.

10. Fertilizer

Good for grass, not for kitty

Spring and fall are the times to fertilize. Unfortunately, it is also the time for accidental poisoning. Cats, the perennial groomers, often lick their paws, especially after walking outdoors. Because fertilizers are usually a combination of ingredients, several toxic outcomes are possible. In general, the ingredients are poorly absorbed and most clinical signs are related to gastrointestinal irritation showing up as vomiting, hyper-salivation, diarrhea or fatigue. The best way to avoid illness or injury is to keep your cat inside while treating your lawn and wait a little bit before letting him or her out again.

Origin of the Domestic Cat

Scientists believe that the predecessor to the first land carnivores was most likely an animal called Miacis. Miacis lived about 55 million years ago and fossils show that the animal looked somewhat like a weasel.

Drawing of a Miacis Skeleton

Drawing of a Miacis Skeleton

The cat family split from other mammals about 40 million years ago, making them one of the oldest mammalian families. The best-known cats of pre-history were probably the saber-toothed cats (Smilodon) that lived during the late Pleistocene era (1.8 million to 10,000 years ago). Saber-toothed tigers, forerunners of the modern cat, were named for their sharp dagger-like canines. Able to kill full-grown elephants, these animals were plentiful in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Their small brain, large body and cumbersome teeth led to their extinction about 10,000 years ago.

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Although the saber-toothed cat has no close living relatives, paleontologists reconstruct how Smilodon looked by comparing its bones with those of large cats living today. Often called a saber-tooth tiger, Smilodon was not actually related to the tiger, although it may have behaved a bit like one. Scientists have determined that the saber tooth's skeleton was not built for speed. Very powerful front legs and a short tail indicate that it probably ambushed its prey, goring it with those fearsome canine teeth and leaving the victim to bleed to death.

Wild cats are believed to have evolved in Africa, and due to continental drift, eventually arrived in South America. About 2 million years ago, when North America and South America joined together, the cat made it's migration northward.

Evolutionary biologists agree that the domestic cat is a cross between Felis sylvestris (European wildcat) and Felis lybica (African wildcat). Of all the cats in existence, the domestic cat is the only one that has agreed to live with humans. Due to this fact, the domestic cat has been given the name "Felis domestica."

Cats were first domesticated by the Egyptians around 3000 BC in order to control the rodent problem in their cities. Since the Egyptians stored grain in woven reed baskets, rodents were able to chew through these baskets and eat the grain. With no devices, poisons or traps to fight the increasing rodent population, rats and mice swarmed through the cities. During this period, a small yellow cat with black stripes (the predecessor of today's domestic cat) began coming into the cities in order to feast on the rodents. The Egyptians welcomed these visitors and encouraged them to stay. The Egyptians named their new domestic animal "mau."

After realizing that cats had helped them solve their rodent problem, the Egyptians began holding them in high regard. Not only did the cat gradually take up residence in Egyptian households, but came to be revered and worshiped as being godlike. Bast, the Egyptian goddess of fecundity and beauty was depicted with the head of a cat. This beautiful goddess was the symbol of light, heat and solar energy. It was believed that she controlled fertility, cured illnesses and took care of the dead souls. According to Egyptian history, cats were held in such high regard that their export was forbidden, and the penalty for killing a cat was immediate death.

Cats were mummified after death and buried in sanctified plots, often with supplies of mummified mice for the afterlife. In 1890, one such plot was found to contain the remains of 300,000 cat mummies. The mummies were wrapped in expensive colorful cloth and enclosed in engraved wooden cases. Many of these mummies were distributed to museums around the world.

Since they reproduced prolifically and lived long and healthy lives, the Egyptian cat population began to swell. For a long time, Egypt had held a strict rule that cats could not leave the country. Despite this rule, the Egyptians began selling cats to the Greeks. After several years of breeding, the Greeks started selling cats to the Romans, the Gaels, the Celts and later to the Europeans. Resulting from trade relationships between Asia and Europe, cats were being exchanged for silk. The Asians loved their cats and began breeding them right away. Several distinct breeds of cats were produced in Asia, such as the Siamese, the Balinese, and the Himalayan.

Previous to the introduction of the domestic cat, the only mouse hunters in ancient Europe were semi-domesticated weasels and skunks. The Romans, and to a certain extent, the Greeks, introduced the domestic cat to the rest of Europe. In European countries, the cat was not worshipped but kept as a companion as well as a rodent hunter. However, by the time the Black Death appeared in the 11th century, cats were once again held in high esteem for their rodent killing abilities.

The Middle Ages in Europe were the worst times for cats. Cats were believed to be agents of the devil, and thought to possess magical powers. Pope Gregory IX declared the cat to be a "diabolical creature" and authorized a total persecution. Persons who kept cats were suspected of being witches, and were put to death along with their feline companions. With rat extermination becoming urgently necessary, cats were beaten, killed and driven away from towns and villages.

In Tudor England, cats were burned as a sign of both Protestant and Catholic heresy. During the inquisition, the burning of heretics, Jews, witches and cats were just some of the atrocities that were committed. By the 15th century, the European cat was on the verge of extinction, thus allowing the population of rats to increase. For lack of cats, more than two thirds of Europe died from the Bubonic plague.

Eventually the witch-hunts ceased and cats once again became highly prized and beloved household pets.

Cats were first domesticated over 5000 years ago and have since become one of the most popular pets in the world. The first record of domestic cats in Great Britain dates back to 936 AD. By the mid 18th century, cats were fairly abundant in the United States. By the late 1800s distinctive breeds were being established and cat shows held, with the long-haired breeds being especially popular.

Although the North American continent had many varieties of wild cats, there had been no history of domestic cats preceding the arrival of the Europeans. The first domestic cats were imported in order to control the rodent population in the settlements. Eventually, cats became quite popular and the first American breed, the Maine Coon Cat, was established.

The Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon Cat

Domestic cats now live on every continent except Antarctica and have been bred into more than fifty distinct breeds.