<?php echo HOSPNAME; ?>Newsletter articles The veterinarians and staff at the York 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

Socializing Your Puppy

Genetics and experience are some of the most important factors that determine a dog's behavior. There's not much you can do about genetic influences except try to select a dog or breed that fits your lifestyle and comes from a good, healthy lineage. Once a pup has been born, he is on a certain path determined, to a large extent, by his genetics. Of course, a puppy's experiences early in life also contribute greatly to his underlying behavior and disposition. The contribution of genetics and experience is thought to be about equal, with early negative experiences probably accounting for a large number of temperamentally flawed adult dogs. Faulty raising practices are common and, unfortunately, are very common. That is why it is important to understand the basics of socializing your puppy.

Socialization needs to begin at home when a dog is young and should continue throughout his life. It is always better to deal with a potential behavior problem sooner rather than later.

Puppies trust everyone and everything when they are young. At this time, they should be exposed to people and various animals under pleasant circumstances with positive consequences. In socializing young pups, your goal should be preventing negative experiences from occurring. Friends should visit your house and interact with your pup - pick him up, feed him, play with him and talk to him soothingly. These are all good experiences for your puppy. The window of rapid acceptance begins to close toward the 8th to 10th week of life. If a negative experience is associated with a particular situation, this situation may be regarded as negative for the rest of the dog's life.

Attempting to socialize puppies after this sensitive period of learning is much less effective. Investing time and effort in socializing your puppy at an early age pays off later in life, both in terms of confidence and the puppy's ability to fit in with society.

Socialize your puppy at an early age.

"Puppy parties" can be helpful for teaching your dog confidence and help him accept other people and their pets. Before puppies start interacting, they need to be vaccinated and in good health. Play groups allow the puppies to learn acceptable non-threatening dog behavior.

A "sink or swim" attitude is never good when attempting to socialize a puppy. For example, taking your dog to a supermarket parking lot to meet different people does not achieve socialization. A situation like this can be overwhelming to your puppy. This is especially true if your dog is not used to being around a lot of people at once. Take it slow. Introduce people individually or in small, non-threatening groups. As with any behavior training, it is always a good idea to take small steps toward your desired goal.

Ultimately, teaching your puppy good social skills is your responsibility. Dogs often pick up cues from their owners without the owner even realizing it. Maintain a non-threatening environment and make it clear to your puppy what is and what is not acceptable behavior.

How Old is Your Cat Really?

How old is your cat in "people years"? Some suggest a guideline of one "cat year" equal to four "people years," but it really doesn't work out that neatly. You can see the problem from the beginning: A 1-year-old cat is nearly mature, but you can't say the same thing about a human 4-year-old.

A better way to figure it is to count the first year of a cat's life as comparable to the time a human reaches the early stages of adulthood — the age of 15 or so. Like a human adolescent, a 1-year-old cat looks fairly grown up and is capable of becoming a parent, but is lacking in emotional maturity.

The second year of a cat's life is equivalent of full adulthood in humans — a 2-year-old cat is roughly equivalent to a person in the mid-20s. After that, the "one equals four" rule works pretty well. A 6-year-old cat is nicely middle-aged for example.

Confused? Remember, what's most important when it comes to keeping those years adding up: working to prevent accidents by keeping your pets contained, as well as ensuring good health through proper nutrition, exercise and preventive veterinary care.

Why Your Cat's Diet Matters

The very basic requirements for life are food and water. Good nutrition is the foundation of overall health. Since cats are natural carnivores, they require meat-based diets. Luckily, cat owners can choose from a variety of diets certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. These products are available from your veterinarian, your feed store or from your grocer. Pet food manufacturers spend huge sums of money touting the benefits of their products in addition to the feeding trials conducted by the AAFCO in order to verify that their pet foods meet quality standards. It is always best to listen to your veterinarian as they may recommend a particular diet according to your cat's needs.

Nutritional needs vary with the cat's age and health status. Kittens should consume growth diets until they reach approximately 9 months of age. At this age, young cats can be gradually weaned from kitten food to adult cat food. This should be done by gradually increasing the amount of adult food and decreasing the amount of kitten food over several days. If a food is changed too abruptly, this can lead to intestinal disturbances with diarrhea. Cats entering their golden years should transition from adult food to senior cat food in a similar manner. Specialty diets that address dental disease and hairballs are good preventive medicine diets that help avoid these health problems in susceptible cats.

Infographic: Pet Holiday Hazards

The holidays can mean exciting smells, sights and tastes for your curious pet -- and more ways he or she can get into trouble. Please take a look at the infographic below outlining the most serious dangers. Take the necessary precautions to keep the holidays happy and healthy for everyone in your home.

Click on the graphic below and print it out.

Keep it handy during the holiday and give copies to your friends and family.

Holiday Hazards

Keeping Your Dog Anxiety Free On New Year's Eve

Celebrating the new year is an exciting time for many people. Unfortunately, your dog might not share the same enthusiasm you do. There are numerous ways your dog might be put on edge this December 31. Whether it's loud neighbors celebrating loudly or fireworks exploding overhead, as a dog owner you must be conscientious of your dog's fears.

Fortunately, there are ways to make your dog feel more safe as we move into the new year. Here are just a few pointers to keep your dog happy and healthy into the new year and beyond.

Give your dog plenty of exercise before the celebrations begin. Take him or her to the dog park, go on a long walk or jog, play fetch until your dog's tongue is down to the floor. The point is that the more you tire them out during the day, the likelier they are to sleep through a noisy night.
Create a relaxing environment for them. Lavender oil (Lavendula augustifolia or Lavendula officinalis) can be used either on the skin or by letting your dog smell it, and has been found to reduce anxiety. It's also a good idea to play calming music, like classical or light jazz, that's turned up just high enough to wash out external noise.
Ask your veterinarian about medications that may help. Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe your dog anti-anxiety medication that will help calm them throughout the night. These same types of medications can be used for other anxiety-producing scenarios like thunderstorms or car rides.

Above all, remember to have a fun and safe New Year's Eve for both yourself and your dog!