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Newsletter

Newsletter The veterinarians and staff at the Hill Country 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

May is National Chip Your Pet Month: Is Your Pet Protected?

Each year, millions of dogs and cats are lost. In fact, this disaster strikes nearly one-third of all pet-owning families. Of the millions of cats and dogs that are lost, only 10 percent are ever identified and returned to their owners. More pets lives are lost because owners did not identify them than from all infectious diseases combined.

All pets should wear traditional collars with identification and rabies vaccination tags. A traditional collar, however, is not enough. These collars are often worn loosely and are easily removed. Cat collars are designed to break off if the animal is caught in a tree branch. When the traditional collar is lost, removed or breaks off, nothing is left to identify the pet unless the pet has a microchip.

Microchips are rapidly becoming a very popular method for identifying pets. Once the microchip is inserted, the pet is identified for life. Microchips are safe, unalterable and permanent identification for pets. The microchip is a tiny computer chip or transponder about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades of a cat or dog, in much the same way that a vaccine is administered. The microchip is coded with a unique 10-digit code. Each microchip that is inserted contains a unique code, specific to the individual pet.




Inserting the microchip is simple and causes minimal or no discomfort. The microchip comes pre-loaded in a syringe, ready for insertion. The entire procedure takes less than 10 seconds. Post-injection reactions are very rare and the encapsulated microchip remains in place permanently.

The scanner is a hand-held device used to detect the message encoded in the microchip. The scanner is passed over the animal, paying particular attention to the area between the shoulder blades. If a microchip is present, the 10-digit number (encoded in the capsule) is read by the scanner. Scanners are provided to animal control, humane shelters and other rescue organizations so that all stray pets are scanned and those with microchips are reunited with their owners. Veterinarians can also purchase scanners for use in their hospital.

The veterinary hospital where the microchip is implanted records the pet’s information and its unique microchip identification number. When a lost pet is found and scanned, the veterinary hospital is immediately contacted. Since most veterinary hospitals are not open 24 hours a day, it may take some time before you are notified. In addition to this standard registration, you can register your pet in your own name for a charge of $15-20. By doing this, as soon as your pet is found, you are notified.

Along with the additional registration fee, we recommend that you update your personal information with the microchip database on a regular basis. It is also advisable to have your veterinarian test the microchip on an annual basis in order to make sure that it is properly transmitting data.

Lyme Disease: How to Protect Yourself and Your Pets

Lyme disease, an illness that is transmitted by hard-bodied ticks such as the deer tick, is a serious disease affecting humans and pets across the country. While being around ticks may be hard to avoid, there are many things you can do to prevent Lyme disease from becoming a debilitating disorder for you and your pets.

Although Lyme disease has been diagnosed in people in all 50 states, more than 80 percent of human cases have occurred in the eastern states from Massachusetts to Virginia. The disease was named after Lyme, Conn., where the first human cases occurred in 1975. Ticks obtain the disease from the mammals they feed on, which include rodents and deer, and pass it on to humans and other animals, such as dogs, through a bite. Symptoms of the disease in humans include a rash and/or symptoms of the flu, followed by joint pain and possible arthritis.




Pets handle the disease differently, however. For example, canines will not show signs of the disease for several weeks or months after infection. If it is caught early, they will respond quickly to a round of antibiotics. Symptoms in dogs include arthritis and occasional fever. If undiagnosed for a long period of time, dogs can develop glomerular disease, a type of kidney damage caused by overstimulation of the immune system by an infectious organism.

Similarly, the methods for prevention of infection differ for humans and animals. A vaccine exists for dogs, which should be boostered annually. It is also advisable to avoid tick-infested areas, if possible. Use of a tick collar or monthly topical preventative such as Frontline Plus, K9 Advantix or other similar product and careful examination of your pet after she or he has been in an area that ticks may be present are additional ways to prevent Lyme disease in your dog.



While the FDA approved a human vaccine in 1998, it was removed from the market in 2002 due to poor sales, according to the Winter 2001/ pring 2002 issue of The Lyme Times (a publication of the Lyme Disease Research Center). The Centers for Disease Control recommends that people follow these guidelines to avoid or prevent ticks from biting:

• Use a repellent with DEET on skin or clothing or permethrin on clothing and wear long sleeves, long pants and socks (do not allow children to apply repellants with DEET themselves)

• Wear light-colored clothing so that you can see ticks if they are crawling on your clothing

• Tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up your legs

• Examine yourself for ticks after being outdoors and remove any ticks you find


Being outdoors is a fun way to spend time with your family and pets, and it also gives your pet the exercise he or she needs for a healthy lifestyle. Following these guidelines can help safeguard the people and animals in your life, ensuring fun and good times for all.

Safe Garden for your Pets

Can I have your attention?

With the summer months ahead, many of us have gardening on the mind. But your green thumb doesn’t have to come at Fido’s expense. Here are some tips to ensure that your garden is kept pet-friendly this summer:

  1. Avoid sweet-smelling mulch: parasites tend to thrive in mulch, and sweet-smelling cocoa mulch contains toxic ingredients if ingested by dogs and cats.
  2. Use nontoxic plants and fertilizers: Look over the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic plants in order to determine whether your plants are hazardous to Fido’s health (such as the popular azaleas, Easter lilies and rhododendron). This also applies to fertilizers and any pesticides you may use.
  3. Watch out for freshly watered lawn: Try not to let your pet walk on your lawn or garden areas after watering it. Chemicals you have applied can stick to your pet’s paws, which they may proceed to lick and ingest.
  4. Arm against fleas, ticks and heartworm:  Summer brings in the bugs, so make sure to take preventive measures against fleas, ticks and heartworm. Visit your local veterinarians for suggestions and treatments.
  5. Watch for Allergies: With all the summer pollen in the air, watch for signs that your pets may be struggling right along with you. After taking your daily walks, wipe your animal’s paws down with a towel in order to keep any unwanted pollen out of the house.

With summer fun comes summer struggles. But with these few easy tips in mind, it may make it a whole lot easier – and healthier – for both you and your pet.

5 Popular Domestic-Wild Cat Hybrid Breeds

When a male lion and a female tiger are bred, the result is the behemoth known as the liger. When a wild cat and a domestic cat are bred, the result is just as stunning. Creating wild-domestic cat hybrid breeds has become a profitable industry with exotic –yet domesticated– cats sometimes selling for thousands of dollars.

Many first or second generation hybrids are sterile and maintain too many “wild” traits to make decent house pets, but later generations have been able to successfully interbreed and live domestic lives. Although they require more care than a normal domestic cat, here are five popular wild-domestic cat breeds:

1. The Bengal – Although you would think this cat derived from a Bengal tiger-cross, it is actually the result of breeding an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat. These cats are considered large, with males weighing 10 to 15 pounds on average. Bengals are known to be a handful They require a lot of stimulation and often vocalize loudly to get their way. Their shiny, soft fur has two basic patterns: spotted and swirled marble, both often tricolor. The Bengal has been cross-bred with many different breeds, resulting in a variety of hybrids.

2. The Toyger – A Los Angeles breeder has been attempting to create a breed that resembles a tiger since the late eighties. By crossing a domestic cat with a Bengal, she has come pretty close. The breed is considered to be “in development,” but is available worldwide for purchase from different breeders.



3. The Savannah – This hybrid is the result of crossing a domestic cat with an African Serval, which somewhat resembles a cheetah with a smaller head, bigger ears and added stripes on its body. These cats are tall and lanky.

4. The Chausie – Also known as the Stone Cougar, this mix between a domestic cat and Jungle Cat hybrids can grow up to three feet long and weigh 35 pounds. This breed is considered completely domesticated in temperament because it was bred from more domestic and hybrid pairings than wild ones. With long legs and bodies, they come in three colors: black, black grizzled tabby and black/brown ticked tabby.

5. The Safari – Although rare, the breeding of a South American Geoffroy’s cat with a domestic feline results in this “living room leopard.”

Bath Time For Your Pup: How to Give Your Dog a Bath

Dogs are not similar to people and should only be bathed when they are dirty or when they need a flea or medicinal bath. Over-bathing removes the natural oils in their skin and fur and can leave the skin dried out and flaky. Dry flaky skin very often results in scratching. Frequent bathing also reduces the coat's insulative and waterproofing capacities. However, certain dog breeds that are prone to skin conditions benefit from regular bathing. Cocker spaniels, for example, benefit when bathed every 6-8 weeks.

The Shampoo

When selecting a shampoo, it's best to use a good quality shampoo that is specifically formulated for dogs. Don't use a human shampoo. They are not formulated for a dog's skin or coat. A conditioner (also formulated for dogs) is a good idea, particularly if there are tangles and lots of knots.

To start, the best place to bathe your dog is in the bathtub or in a utility tub. If you plan to bathe your dog outdoors, make sure your hose has both hot and cold water. A cold bath is not only disagreeable, but can also cause rapid hypothermia. Bathing indoors is a challenge; as all escape routes need to be considered.



Bath Time Basics

Make sure that all your supplies are within reach before putting your pet into the tub. Dogs often don't remain in the tub very long when left alone. Your supplies should include shampoo, conditioner, scissors, several towels, cotton balls and a plastic container (for rinsing). If you are planning to clip the toenails, make sure that the nail clippers are also within reach.

A rubber mat should be placed in the bottom of the tub so your dog's feet don't slide around, and so he or she will feel more secure and safe. Most dogs don't want to be there in the first place, so you need to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Place one or several cotton balls in each of your dog's ears. Don't push the cotton too far down the ear canal; however, it does need to remain securely in place. The cotton helps keep water out of his or her ears. A drop of artificial tears (placed in the corner of each eye) prevents the shampoo from irritating the eyes.

Properly lift your dog in the tub, avoiding injury to both you and your dog. Place one arm in front of the dog's chest and one arm behind the rear legs, just under the tail. Make sure you bend your knees (not your back) when lifting, particularly if the dog is heavy. If your pet is too heavy to lift by yourself, always get help. Nothing hurts more than an injured back.

Turn the water on slowly and adjust the temperature. The water should be lukewarm. Thoroughly wet his or her coat down with the spray hose starting from the back end moving forward. Then, begin lathering your pet. Work the shampoo into a thick, rich lather. If you are using flea shampoo, some brands recommend leaving it on for several minutes. Read the directions on the container and follow them carefully or the results may not be achieved. Lather the main body, stomach, legs, feet and tail.

Finally, pour a small amount of shampoo into your hands and gently lather the fur around the face and on the head. Be careful not to get the lather into your dog's eyes.

Finishing Up

• When rinsing, start with the head and work towards the rear. Cover your dog's eyes with your hand and gently rinse off the top of the head and around the eyes. Then, gently cover your dog's nose and rinse off the rest of the face and neck. Next, work your way down the body, making sure to rinse out all of the suds and shampoo.

• If you are applying a conditioner, now is the time. Make sure you follow the manufacturers recommendations for applying the product. If a conditioner is applied, another rinse is probably necessary.

• Remove the cotton balls from his or her ears and gently squeeze any excess water from the coat.

• The drying process is generally the part that dogs like best. Most dogs enjoy getting a vigorous rub down. To finish drying your pet, a hair dryer can be used. Never use a high heat setting and pay careful attention. Do not allow your dog to become overheated.


If you have questions about the type of shampoo, how often to bathe your pet, or whether or not to use a conditioner, don't hesitate to call your veterinarian.