Our veterinarians and staff at the Sky Lake Animal Hospital are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter and resources. We will try our best to update on regular basis.

We have articles related to pet care, information on our animal hospital, and news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Dr. Elizabeth Colleran explains how to avoid future headaches and additional expenses just by taking your cat to see to the veterinarian regularly.

Researchers have long thought that the mapping of human genes and chromosomes holds the key to curing diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. This research is taking a surprising and sudden leap forward thanks to recent DNA studies of man’s best friend–specifically, the Boxer. It seems that dogs are teaching us some new tricks.

With human populations, there is great variance in genetic material from one individual to another. Mapping of human genes has been a painstaking and difficult process partly because of these great variations. Dogs, however, are surprisingly similar within certain breeds. For example, all yellow labs look very much alike, with few differences in facial structure, fur color or eye color. This fact makes the mapping of genes less complex in dog breeds.

A team of researchers at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., completed the genetic mapping of one breed, the Boxer, in 2005. By looking at the limited areas of genetic variation in Boxers, researchers have been able to isolate the areas of the chromosome where certain defects reside. For example, this chromosome is responsible for diabetes, this one for obesity.

skylake_dnaThe Boxer held great promise in this research for advances in human medicine, not only because its genome was mapped first. These popular pets are known for being high-spirited, playful, energetic and strong. But one vulnerability caught the attention of researchers: Boxers are susceptible to a fatal heart disease called cardiomyopathy. This is one of the many diseases shared by humans.

Researchers started looking at the chromosomes of one group of Boxers who had developed cardiomyopathy and comparing them to the chromosomes of a healthy group. When comparing each chromosome of a sick Boxer with the corresponding chromosome of a healthy Boxer, researchers found that most points of comparison were identical. They worked steadily down the genetic map from Chromosome 1. When they came to Chromosome 17, however, they suddenly found a huge number of variations in the Boxers with cardiomyopathy. Using this information, researchers have isolated the genetic mutation responsible for this disease.

Now, with the mutation’s identity and location known, the research team hopes to locate the corresponding gene in humans. This means that one day, there will likely be a way of genetically curing this fatal disease. Because of the relative simplicity of the Boxer’s DNA, scientists were able to bypass a huge body of painstaking research on the human genome. Without dogs, this process could have taken decades. It’s one more reason to call them man’s best friend.

skylake_stormIt’s storm season, and Spot is going wild. Maybe he’s pacing, hiding under the bed, shaking, panting, or simply craves your attention – whatever it may be, he’s scared and needs your help. Many pet owners think that their dogs will grow out of their phobias, and therefore don’t bother to indulge in Spot’s tantrums. Yet oftentimes it will only get worse with time if nothing is done to help curb your dog’s fears.

There are various theories about why dogs are particularly affected by storms. Some say that low-frequency waves and even electric shocks effect dogs immediately preceding the storm, which humans cannot even hear or feel. This builds anxiety, and by the time the storm has hit, your dog has gone full-fledge manic. But really, can you blame him?

Here are a few tips to help alleviate your dog’s storm phobia:

• Calm him down like you would your own child. Speak to your dog in a soft and soothing voice in order to assure him that there is no need for stress and fear. Never yell at him when he reacts to the storm, this will only increase his fear – and with it, his barking. This does not, however, mean you should over-coddle him. This may only worsen his phobia.

• Reward calm behavior. Try to train your dog to settle down on command and learn that becoming calm is a behavior that – along with sit and stay – will be rewarded.

• Exercise and tire out your dog before a storm is scheduled to hit. This way he’ll have less energy to focus on stress.

• Create a safe room for your dog to go during the storm. This can be a carpeted room without windows, a basement, or other place where you can play calming music without hearing the outside commotion. However, don’t confine your dog to a small space, especially a crate, as this will only build anxiety.

• Play a CD with light storm sounds in order to better acclimate your dog throughout the year. You can supply him with treats while he remains calm through the sounds, and gradually increase the volume over time.

• Consider melatonin or other anti-anxiety drugs. Melatonin doesn’t typically make dogs sleep, but it is known to calm them down and help thwart against bothersome noise. If you think your dog could benefit from a prescription – or if you have any other concerns, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

Although there’s no easy solution, a few minor adjustments and a bit of patience will go a long way towards helping your Fido weather the storm.

skylake_catplayPlay and exercise are an important part of pet health. For cats, toys are a great way to stimulate play, combat obesity, discourage unwanted behavior, and provide an outlet for unused energy and predatory instincts. Below are ten highly rated toys that at under $25—most under $10—will help keep your cat happy and healthy and won’t break the bank.

  1. Da Bird Feather Teaser, online from $7.49. This teaser simulates the motion of a bird at your control. A flick of the wrist and the brightly colored feathers dance and spin enticing your cat to play. Encourages instinctual behaviors and exercise to keep your cat healthy and alert.
  2. Mylar Crinkle Ball Cat Toys, online from $1.49, an inexpensive, sure-fire hit that your cat will love to bat and bobble around the house.
  3. Yeowww! Catnip Banana, online price from $4.13. These popular stuffed bananas are made in the USA and filled with organically grown catnip.
  4. Fat Cat Kitty Hoots Big Mama’s Scratchy Box, online from $8.37. An effective, economical way to satisfy your cat’s desire to scratch and save your furniture. Comes with a supply of “Zoom Around the Room Organic Catnip.” The box is 100 percent recyclable. May need to be replaced every 1-2 months, depending on usage.
  5. PetSafe SlimCat, online from $4.69. PetSafe Slimcat is an interactive feeding ball that works by distributing your cat’s food into smaller meals that can be fed at regular intervals. Slimcat can also satiate your cat’s craving to hunt which results in a more peaceful pet.


  1. Petlinks System Dream Curl Curvy Two-Surface Scratcher online from $20.99. Your cat will love the shapely contours of the Dream Curl and its enticing variety of scratching surfaces and angles. Made from Earth-friendly sisal and contains organic catnip. The scratcher core is made from recycled material.
  2. Tipsy Nip Ball, online from $5. This organic catnip infused non-toxic wooden ball is sure to be a hit with your cat. When not in use, store in the accompanying bottle of catnip to keep the ball catnipalicious.
  3. Cat Amazing Interactive Puzzle for Cats, from $14.95. This interactive puzzle game has three levels of difficulty to stimulate and challenge cats, and those who complete the puzzle are rewarded with a treat. It is the perfect test of your cat’s skill and ingenuity and is an instant hit wherever people and cats are gathered. Made from 30 percent recycled cardboard and is 100 percent recyclable, and printed with certified metal-free inks.
  4. The Cat Dancer, available online from $1.79. The Cat Dancer is the original interactive cat toy. Spring steel wire and rolled cardboard create an irresistible lure for cats and great fun for cat lovers. According to their website, The Cat Dancer has been “home-tested by over 8 million cats.”
  5. Teddy for Kitty, $5.95, available online through EcoChoices Natural Living Store, is a teddy bear made from rugged corduroy and a colorful patch and filled with organically grown catnip. Made in the USA.
  6. Don’t forget: Homemade cat toys can be just as entertaining as those that are store-bought. Cats love batting around a crumpled ball of paper, hiding in a large paper bag or cardboard box, or attacking an object, such as a feather, bell, or stocking stuffed with catnip, attached to a string or pole. Best of all, you probably have most or all of these items in your home already

skylake_donteatthatThe Most Shocking (and Often Impressive) Items Dogs Have Managed to Eat

A Great Dane, whose owners wish to remain anonymous, made national headlines in September when the tale of his stomach surgery at an emergency veterinary hospital in Portland, Oregon went viral. The three-year-old, 140-pound behemoth had consumed more than three dozen socks.

During a two-hour surgery in early 2015, doctors removed 43 socks from the Dane’s stomach – likely saving his life – according to a report from the Chicago Tribune. The gentle giant apparently had a preference for small, brightly colored socks and is doing just fine today.

More Stories to Make You Ask: “They Ate What?”

  • A two-year-old Pug named Stella was kind enough to chip in for the cost of her abdominal exploratory surgery. After a night of nonstop vomiting, a visit to her veterinarian resulted in the discovery of 104 pennies and one quarter in her stomach. Does Stella think turning herself into a canine piggy bank for $1.29 was worth the surgery? Probably not, but she made a full recovery.
  • A 10-month-old Golden Retriever named Cody didn’t need surgery to remove the household item he consumed. Unbelievably, the pup swallowed a light bulb and then passed it intact a day later! Cody had been throwing up for two days and required intravenous fluids. His X-ray showed the unbroken light bulb, filament and all.
  • Bath-time must have gotten a little out of control for Woof. When Woof’s owner noticed him stealing a rubber duck from her bathing son and then eating it, she decided it was time for a visit to their Florida veterinarian. For months, rubber ducks had gone missing and she finally thought she knew where they had gone. Surgery later revealed five rubber duckies, a toy truck, and a piece of another toy.
  • When one owner went fishing for catfish in Kentucky, he hooked a dog! A 7 -week-old puppy named Elvis swallowed one of his human’s fishing hooks, chicken-liver-bait and all. A gastrotomy found the hook had perforated the pup’s stomach, but with antibiotics and surgery the little dog returned to his healthy, hungry self.
  • Speaking of sharp objects, a Lab named Lucy took self-defense too far when she swallowed a pocket knife. The dog had snatched the knife from a coffee table and decided it looked good enough to eat. Veterinarians produced a quick vomiting episode by administering Apomorphine and a small meal. Needless to say, the 9.2 by 2.3 cm knife was recovered without surgery.

These stories represent winning submissions to Veterinary Practice News’ ninth annual “They Ate WHAT?” radiograph contest.

Think Whiskers is purring out of pure love and joy to be in your company? Or Rubbing against you to show her excitement that you’re home? Well, she may have us all tricked. Whiskers may actually know a whole lot more about her cuteness – and what it can produce – than we ever thought.

Rubbing Against You = They Own You

We love when we’re greeted by an affectionate rub. And we love thinking it’s because Whiskers has missed us so much. This may in fact be true. But what is also true is that a cat tends to rub against a person in order to claim their ownership over them, leaving you with a scent that is theirs – and theirs only. But don’t think that it also works the other way. In fact, after you rub and pet your cat, she wants that smell gone immediately. You may notice she starts licking herself more than usual after a good rub down, right? This actually helps to get your smell off of her coat. And they had us convinced they were just being clean and tidy pets…

Leaving Poop Uncovered = They Rule You

Cats instinctively cover their poop when they’re done going to the bathroom, and we love that. But when you come home to that surprise on the door mat or kitchen floor, it may not be a product of Whisker’s old age or degenerating blind spot. Rather, your cat may be making a statement of power through his poo. This act of defiance marks their territory and flags to all other members of the household that this is one tough kitty!

Meowing Like A Baby = Treat Me Like A Baby, Now!

Cats are smart, we all know this. But just how smart? Well, looks like they have even perfected their meowing to imitate the sounds of a baby – in effect getting us to “baby” them. Studies have shown that a cat’s meow for attention or food shares a similar frequency level to that of a baby crying for similar wants and needs.

So, Whiskers may be more of a master of her own manipulation than we ever thought. But hey, at least she’s cute about it!


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