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Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Halloween Photo Contest

Calling All Halloween Lovers!
Send us a photo of your pet in a costume and you could win a $50 gift card to our hospital!

To enter:
Like our Facebook page and send us a direct message on Facebook with your pet’s photo by Sunday, October 23rd.

On Monday the 24th we will post all of the photos in an album and then voting will begin! Vote for your favorite photo(s) by “liking” them or using your favorite reaction. The photo with the most “likes”/”reactions” will be our winner and will be announced on October 31st!

We encourage you to share your picture, or the album, with your friends and family to increase your chances of winning.

Good luck and may the best costume win!

*One photo per pet. If you have won a contest more than once, we ask that you please split the prize with the 2nd place winner. To keep this lighthearted and fun, pictures shared to “like for like” groups or those similar, or others deemed unfair or inappropriate, will be disqualified.
Winding Hill - nicole renee - remy alexa

2015 Halloween Contest Winner – Remy Alexa

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Adopt a Shelter Cat Month

Welcome to Adopt a Shelter Cat month!

Along with the beautiful weather and flowers, June tends to bring out the amorous side of our feline friends. The ASPCA estimates that there are roughly 70 million stray cats in the United States at any given time. The fertile females of that group can have 1 to 2 litters every year, averaging 4 to 6 kittens per litter. If one third of those 70 million cats are fertile females and they each have 1 litter that year with 5 kittens in the litter, that’s 116,666,666 kittens born that year!

Out of all of those millions of cats, around 3.4 million are received into shelters a year. “Of cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less that 5% of cats who come in as strays are returned to their owners.”* To put that into numbers, 1.3 million will be adopted, but 1.4 million will be euthanized every year.

I think what strikes me the most about all of these numbers I’ve thrown out, is that it all boils down to more cats being euthanized than adopted out. That’s heartbreaking. Shelters work so hard to care for and get as many homes as possible for the kitties they have. We can help them by going to them when its time to bring a new feline into our hearts and homes. Even just spreading the word can greatly help. “According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 40% of pet owners learned about their pet through word of mouth.”* So, even if you’re not looking for one of your own, get out and advocate and help make Adopt a Shelter Cat month a success!

On a related note, June 4th is International Hug Your Cat day. Help us celebrate by submitting some pictures of you showing your feline friend some love! In return, here are pictures of some of the Winding Hill crew hugging their kitties.

*All figures and quotes come from

Cats Are Different!

By Dr. Carol Edwards Cats are unusual, mysterious, and fascinating. They are both predator and prey in the wild, and therefore their communication can be very subtle…body language and facial expression. They also hide symptoms of illness as long as possible as an instinctive defense mechanism. Therefore, if you notice ANY change in your cat’s behavior, it is usually significant. Cats are crepuscular – having periods of increased activity at dawn and dusk. They often start racing around the house at these times of day, which is when their prey outdoors are most active. At our house, we call it having a case of the “scampers”, and enjoy how seriously our cats take themselves. Unlike dogs who see only black and white, cats have a limited ability to see color, which they use primarily to see movement of prey in low light. They are farsighted, so when they are looking at your face, your features are blurry to them. It also is why they often don’t see treats up close on the floor right away. Cats are desert animals. They look for their water in their food. Leading feline nutritionists are now recommending feeding canned food to cats. Like their prey, canned food is about 70% water. This also makes it significantly lower in calories than dry food. Additionally, it is higher in fat and protein, which tells a cat he or she is satiated, leading to lower calorie consumption and a healthier weight. Cats strictly on dry food have an increased risk of weight gain and urinary issues. Additionally, cats are neophilic. Ever wonder why they only like the first serving or two of a new food? If fending for themselves, they might have a crunchy grasshopper for breakfast, a mouse for lunch. Many cats like a varied diet. (Some cats will only eat one thing, though.) It is a good idea when your cats are kittens to change their diets regularly to encourage acceptance of different foods. Cats possess keen hearing. For instance, if you are in the kitchen turning on your blender, your cat can hear the current passing through the cord before the appliance comes on! This explains why cats can be so responsive to noises. Cats certainly have a different way of experiencing our world, and to me, it makes them all the more endearing!

Meet Lily

Meet Lily the Berger Picard! Berger Picard
The Berger Picard (pronounced Bare-Zhay Pee CARR) is a rare breed that hails from France and is now enjoyed in the United States as well. We had the pleasure of meeting Lily when she came in for her first puppy exam with us. She’s a very engaging and adorable puppy and she won the hearts of all of us immediately. Also known as the Picardy Shepherd, this breed is utilized for herding and companionship. Like most herding breeds, with exercise and training, the Picard can be a loyal and wonderful addition to any active family. For many years, efforts to establish this breed in North America were unsuccessful. But thanks to the internet there is now an influx as American buyers can easily communicate with European breeders. They are becoming more and more known as time goes on. In fact, the star of the movie, Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), was a Picard! As this is being published, the breed is being added to the AKC herding group. For more information about this breed you can visit the Berger Picard Club of America at

The Human-Animal Bond

By Dr. Dailey Our human journey has always included animals, companion, livestock, and wild. Research has shown the first domesticated animals were not a food source but a companion, the wolf. It is postulated highly social wolves and highly social humans started walking, playing, and hunting together and never stopped. The dog is literally the wolf who stayed. Evidence of the bonds between people and animals throughout the ages is easily found, such as literature, cave paintings, and archeological sites. The close relationship between animals and people date from the dawn of civilization. In Ancient Egypt, cat owners shaved their eyebrows when their cat died, signifying feline loss and mourning. Many cave paintings throughout the world depict symbolic animal representation including Chauvet Cave, France, (32,00 years old), Goyet Cave, Belgium, (31,700 years old), Blombos Cave, South Africa, (20,000 years old), Grotte de Pigeons, Morocco, Stehul, Israel, Australia and probably the the most well known Lascaux Cave, France (17,000 years old). What intrigues many people about Lascaux Cave is the child’s footprints left in the mud and alongside them a paw print of the child’s dog! Saint Joan of Arc and Florence Nightingale recognized the health benefits animals provided. In understanding this bond, science has progressed from intuition-based thoughts, to anecdotal ideas and finally in the 1970’s, to evidence based research. The animal human bond cannot be underestimated. This bond is extremely powerful, mutually beneficial, and affects our mental, social, and physiologic health. Our pets are valued members of our family, 62% of American households have a pet (47 million dogs and 41 million cats). Pets are good for us. Pets encourage touch, conversation, laughter, increase exercise, teach responsibility, nurture kindness, decrease blood pressure, and boost immunity. Pets can be better medicine than medicine. Our animals are an antidote to loneliness, anxiety and depression. The therapeutic value of animals for socially isolated individuals in nursing homes, hospitals, hospice, and prison is documented. The one year survival rate after a heart attack is 94% among pet owners and 74% among non-pet owners. The aid and service working dogs provide is immeasurable and cannot be underestimated. The unique ability to connect and care for animals enriches our quality of life. To create and sustain a strong bond the pet must be easy to live with, behaviorally. Problems such as aggression, barking, destructiveness can erode the human-bond. It is important to match the breed characteristics with the personality and life style of the owner. This wonderful bond is everywhere, past, present, and future. Our lives are forever intertwined. We are fortunate to enjoy the companionship and unconditional love our dear pets bring every day.

House Training Your Puppy

Please understand that I am just a baby. I need to learn that the “potty” is outside. Be patient with me and I will learn. Keep me in a small confined area like a crate. If it is a size to be my bedroom only (like a crate), that will work – no room for a “potty.” As long as I am out of my crate often for exercise and bonding with you, my time in the crate will not be an issue. Whenever you get me out of my crate take me out right away. I will need to go out often. Whenever I wake up from the night or a nap I will need to go to my potty place. Keeping that place consistent will assist me as I learn. You may want to tell me to “go potty” so I start to associate those words with the action. Feed me on a regular schedule. I will need to go out when I eat or drink. When I slow down after play I will likely need to go again and whenever I am excited about something. If I do a good job with the potty outside you can give me some freedom in the house but only when you watch me. If I seem restless, start sniffing more around the floor or begin the potty position take me out right away. If you are not watching and I have an accident please don’t stick my nose in it. I really cannot connect that with the act of going “potty.” Like any new baby I am a lot of work but I will repay you with tremendous amounts of loyalty and companionship. As I mature I can wait longer to use the potty. All puppies are different but a good rule of thumb is a puppy can easily wait the number of hours equal to how many months of age they are. There are certainly lots of precocious puppies that wait all night from the time they are released from their mom and go to their new home. Many need at least one middle of the night visit to the potty. Gotta go now – it’s potty time again! Contributed by anybody’s puppy with a little help from Terri Heck, CVT

Canine Influenza Outbreak

The recent outbreak in Chicago by a new strain of Canine Influenza is still under investigation. Cornell University has identified the type of virus strain involved and has found it to be different from the one used in the current Canine Influenza Vaccines (CIV). It is not yet known if these vaccines (CIV) will offer any cross -immunity. There is no evidence that this virus can be transmitted to people but it has caused respiratory infections is some cats. For further information please go to the AVMA website.

Pet Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is a holiday that humans and animals can enjoy together. There are many exciting aspects of Halloween but that doesn’t mean there are no risks. See below and read how to have fun while keeping your animal friends safe. CANDY – Don’t feed your pets Halloween candy! Chocolate in all forms, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in most sugar-free candy and it is also toxic to animals. Also be sure to throw away all wrappers as they present a choking hazard. CANDLES – Make sure to keep any lit candles or jack-o-lanterns out of reach from pets. They are attracted to the bright light and can either burn themselves or cause a fire. CHIP YOUR PET – Make sure your pet is properly identified with a microchip and collar and tag. They can easily escape through an open door when you greet trick-or-treaters or while trick-or-treating. Only 22% of lost dogs and less than 2% of lost cats that are not microchipped are ever returned to their owners. COSTUMES – Make sure any costume you put on your pet fits properly and is comfortable. Also make sure that it doesn’t have any pieces that can be chewed off and doesn’t affect your pet’s seeing, hearing, breathing, or moving. You should also avoid any costumes with metal pieces. Some metals (like zinc) are dangerous if ingested. If your pet does not want to wear a costume, you should not force it. Never leave your pet unattended while he or she is wearing a costume. DECORATIONS – Make sure to keep all wires and electrical cords out of reach of pets. If they chew on them, they could suffer from cuts, burns, or receive a shock. Also keep pumpkins and decorative corn out of reach. While these are considered relatively nontoxic, they can produce stomach upset if ingested. GLOW STICKS – Although the liquid in glow sticks and glow jewelry has not been known to be toxic, it causes pain and irritation in the mouth and will make your pets salivate excessively and act strangely. KEEP YOUR PET INSIDE – There have been reports of pranks being played on pets that are outside. You should bring any outdoor cats inside a few days prior and a few days after Halloween as well. If you bring your pet trick-or-treating with you, make sure you keep them on a leash with a firm grip. Animals can be spooked by all the people and costumes they may see. While inside, put them in a safe space where they are comfortable. The constant motion of trick-or-treaters at the door can be stressful and upsetting to pets. We hope you have a wonderful and safe Halloween full of devilish dogs, cool cats, boo bunnies, and more!

Hot Spots

A “hot spot” (also known as pyotraumatic or moist dermatitis) is a skin condition that occurs when an animal constantly bites, licks, or scratches an area of itchy skin. The skin becomes inflamed and infected and often appears as a moist, oozing, reddened area that is painful and very itchy. If there is hair at the area, the hair will hold in moisture and irritate the skin more. The condition worsens if the animal continues to bother the area and it is common to notice a small affected area in the morning and a larger one in the evening. Because the lesions are warm to the touch, they are called hot spots. Hot spots are treatable but it is important to also identity the underlying cause to ensure the prevention of future hot spots. A visit to your veterinarian may be required depending on the severity of the lesion. Any hair in or around the lesion will be trimmed and removed so the area can be thoroughly cleaned and topical medications can be applied. Your veterinarian will prescribe oral antibiotics for about three to four weeks to treat the infection and may also prescribed corticosteroids (such as prednisone) to help with the itching and pain from the inflammation. One of the ways you can prevent hot spots is by removing exposure to allergens. Animals can have environmental allergies, such as grass, trees, or dust mites, or they can also be allergic to food. Avoiding fleas, mites, insect bites, and skin wounds in general will also help prevent your pet from developing hot spots. You can use an Elizabethan collar, or “e-collar,” to keep your pet from agitating the spot further.

Halloween Costume Contest

Submit a photo of your pet in a Halloween costume and you could win a $50 gift card!! Halloween is almost here and that means it’s time to get festive. Like our Facebook Page and submit a photo of your pet in his or her best costume through private message on Facebook. We will be accepting submissions now through October 23rd and voting will start on October 24th. We will be posting all photos in an album where you can vote for your favorite(s). The person whose photo gets the most “likes” will receive a $50 gift card! We ask that you only send one photo per pet. Once the photos are posted and voting is open, make sure to share your photo or the album with all your friends and family to increase your chances of winning! The lucky winner will be announced on Halloween. We hope you participate and good luck!   winding