Newsletter The veterinarians and staff at the Tharp Animal Health Care 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

Summer Exacerbates Your Pet’s Breathing Problems

Summer Pet Tips

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.

Picture Perfect Tips for Pet Photos

Wish you had a lens ready for those cute moments when Whiskers snuggles up against Spot on the couch? Or when Fido gives you that adorable look? More often than not, we are simply not picture-ready for those picture-perfect moments of our pets. And by the time we finally reach for our cameras, the moment has already passed. If this sounds familiar, here are a few tips to help your pet get the spotlight he deserves:

Can I have your attention?

• Timing is everything- With animals, time is always of the essence. Your pet is constantly moving, so having a camera that’s both accessible and easy-to-shoot may be key to capturing those fleeting moments. Where movement presents an issue, photographers also recommend shooting in “burst mode” whenever possible.

• Get low- You may need to do some gymnastics in order to accomplish the shots you want. Shooting from a comfortable angle probably won’t allow those cute puppy eyes to shine through. Getting down to your pet’s level will instantly improve your shots.

• Shoot like a video camera- Instead of waiting for your pet to do something cute before reaching for your camera, try reversing your steps. Grab your camera and wait for your pet to entertain you. Usually we’re just a few seconds too late. But if you already have your camera ready, you’re sure to catch Fido in the act.

• Keep shooting- Especially in the age of digital photography, there’s no reason you can’t rapid fire until you find that one shot that perfectly captures the moment. After 20 shots, you’re bound to get one image that fits the bill.

• Use natural lighting- It’s best to use natural lighting when photographing your pets. If you have to use a flash, avoid taking the photo from straight on, otherwise you’ll get a red-eye effect. Photographers typically recommend soft morning light or early evening light that comes through trees or windows.

• Get their attention- Though the best shots are usually candid, it often helps to get your pet’s attention using treats, toys, or simply calling their name. Remember, dogs will often respond to multiple calls, but chose your battles wisely with Whiskers – she may only fall for that trick once.

• Experiment- Play around with your camera’s various modes and shutter speeds to see what best suits your animal’s movements and personality. Each picture tells a story, so don’t be afraid to play around with your camera until you’ve created the story you want to tell.

Pets can be the most fun – albeit complicated – subjects to photograph. With some time, patience and a lot of experimenting, you too can get the shots of Fido you’ve always wanted. So go ahead, snap away!

Pet Obesity Can Cost You A Fortune

Studies reveal that half of the dogs and cats found in American homes are overweight or obese, translating to over 85 million. Pet obesity has become a major health concern across the nation, forcing us to rethink what we throw into Fido’s bowl or pass under the table.

Yet, what we often don’t think about are the costs associated with this soaring trend. Not only are there diseases and conditions caused by obesity, but also many others that are greatly exacerbated by the extra pounds. And the increase in costs can be alarming. In fact, treating pets with diabetes, heart disease or ligament tears that are caused by weakened joints can cost you thousands in veterinary fees. According to Petplan, pet insurance claims in 2011 for heart disease increased by 32 percent, diabetes by 253 percent and arthritis by a whopping 348 percent.

But just as people need to be safe about their dieting, the same holds true for animals. If you have questions about your pet’s eating habits or changing dietary needs, consult your local veterinarian for help.

Fat Cat

Living with an Aging Pet

People have a wide range of attitudes about getting older, ranging from optimism to pessimism. But when it comes to pets, people tend to have a negative attitude about aging. The tragedy of getting old is that we attribute the problems pets face to old age, and don't bring them to the veterinarian. Most owners think that pets can't be helped if it's just old age, often overlooking symptoms that could be treated or eased.

There are a series of physical changes affecting aging pets' bodies. These may include graying of the muzzle, thinning of the coat, brittle toenails, arthritis and lameness, whitening of eyes (cataracts), difficulty hearing and dental problems.

Pets entering their golden years face two types of changes--those that can be relieved with the help of a veterinarian, and those that cannot. Veterinarians can prescribe medication to ease the pain of arthritis and even perform surgery to replace painful hips. Veterinarians don't have means to treat deafness; however, surgery can cure cataracts. There is also medication that can be prescribed to alter mental status, making older pets less senile.

With aging, there are also behavioral and mental changes that take place. Older animals have more difficulty getting around. They lose self-confidence and tend to stay close to their owners and close to home. Fear of strangers and new surroundings may be more pronounced in an older pet as well.

Older dogs and cats usually sleep more, pay less attention and don't tolerate the cold weather as well as they did when they were younger. The aging process begins and ends differently for each animal. It's just like humans. There are people in their 70s who appear young and there are people in their 60s who appear old. On the average though, small dogs and cats begin to exhibit signs of aging at 9 to 10 years old, while large dog breeds begin to age at about 7 years of age.

Owners need to prepare themselves mentally as their pets undergo the aging process. Emphasis should be placed on quality of life. This means that owners should have their older pets examined by a veterinarian. Annual (or even semi-annual) veterinary examinations are recommended. This way, any potentially serious problems can be diagnosed (early and treatment can be provided that may slow the progression of the ailment and, if possible, cure it.

Some pet owners try to avoid the fact that a pet won't be around forever. As a pet ages, it's best to accept the process and try to provide him or her with a good and happy quality of life.

When a pet is very old and has severe medical problems, an owner must confront the decision of putting him or her to sleep. Many owners have a common misconception on this topic. People always hope their pets will die peacefully in their sleep, but this rarely happens. Very often, owners wait too long and the pet incurs too much pain and suffering. When an animal loses bowel control or can't move its legs, owners should interpret these signs and make the appropriate choice.

Making the decision to euthanize a pet that has been a member of the family is never easy. Owners need to know that it is the final step in the human - pet relationship. Putting an animal to sleep is the last act of love from a good owner to their loyal companion.