Newsletter The veterinarians and staff at the The Yancey Clinic of Veterinary Medicine 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

World Rabies Day - September 28, 2019

September 28th is World Rabies Day, an international event established by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to raise awareness of the deadly virus. And this year in particular is special because it marks 10 years of the holiday. The theme for 2016 is "Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate." With this in mind, it’s the perfect time to take a few minutes to educate yourself about rabies prevention and treatment.

World Rabies Awareness Day

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through exposure to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal, and is nearly always fatal without proper treatment. Rabies kills over 59,000 people per year; nearly 60 percent of those are children under the age of 15 who are unaware of the risks of rabies. In 95 percent of human rabies cases, the cause was a bite or a scratch from an infected dog.

Rabies is not always visible to the naked eye. However, the following symptoms are common in infected animals:

  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Unprovoked aggressive behavior or overly friendly behavior
  • Foaming at the mouth

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control recommends that all mammals that are in frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated, but especially dogs, cats and ferrets. Additionally, vaccinations should always be kept up to date to ensure their usefulness.

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, the Alliance recommends that pet owners feed and water their pets indoors, as even empty bowls can attract wildlife. Garbage should be securely covered, as the smell from an open garbage can will attract stray animals. Wild animals should never be kept as pets, and should never be approached, even if they appear friendly.

If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal that is unknown to you, you may have been exposed to rabies. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Once symptoms of rabies appear, survival is very rare.

If your pet is bitten by an unvaccinated animal, consult your veterinarian immediately to see if your pet needs booster shots. You should also keep your pet away from other animals, and watch your pet for signs of illness or unusual behavior for at least 45 days.

More Information
For more information on rabies and to find out about World Rabies Day events, visit the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website at

Animals Laugh. No Joke.

A dog may be man’s best friend, but can dogs join in on a joke by laughing? If so, what does this suggest for animal behavior and their cognitive skills? New research suggests that animals not only have the ability to respond to physically-induced sensory stimulation that causes laughter, but that certain behaviors may trigger cognitive reactions that strongly resemble human laughter as well. If so, it is hard to say who has the last laugh: animals or us.

From Birth to Mirth

For many years, scientists have studied chimpanzees, gorillas and other primates, as well as rats and even dogs to develop theories regarding the evolution of animal pleasure and mirthful behavior. Interestingly, two categories have emerged from such studies that shed more light on whether animal laughter is merely a reactionary or cognitive response.

Reactive Laughing- Scientists have long studied chimpanzees, gorillas and others in the primate species in order to identify evolutionary traits and common ancestry links. Through their research, scientists have discovered that when chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas wrestle or are tickled, they exhibit laughter-like vocalizations. Whether or not the animal lives in the wild or exists in captivity doesn’t matter; a spontaneous game of tag produces the same result — laughter.

While chimpanzee laughter may not sound like human laughter, it does follow the same spectrographic pattern that human babies follow. That is, they alternate between rapid inhalations and exhalations, create similar facial expressions and even share similar ticklish areas on the body such as the armpits and belly. Unlike humans, however, chimpanzees continue to enjoy being tickled throughout their entire lifespan. There are few elderly among us humans who would admit the same.

Cognitive Laughing- Likewise, rats also have striking similarities to humans when it comes to our funny bones. When tickled and/or engaged in physical activity and play, rats emit long, high frequency, ultrasonic, socially induced vocalized… well, laughter. Extensive studies by Jaak Panskepp and Jeff Burgdorf, then at Washington State University, concentrated on whether rats can become accustomed and conditioned to tickling sensation so as to seek it out on their own volition. The result is no laughing matter. Over time, not only do rats become conditioned to the tickling sensation but they seek out the tickler — thereby strongly suggesting a link between sensing the stimulus and acting upon the favorable positive emotion — a cognitive connection, to be sure.

Of additional interest, rats that “laughed” the most also played the most, and preferred to spend more time with other laughing rats. Just as humans abide by the old adage “like attracts like” so too do rats appear to socially prefer other rats who exhibit similar laughing behavior.

Obviously, it is hard to know what goes on in an animal’s brain, but ongoing research and analysis seem to suggest that laughter is not only a way to signal joy but also an age-old tool used to promote social bonding. With this in mind, it seems fair to say that animals may very well have the last laugh.

Exotic Pets You Can Call Your Own

The following is a list of nontraditional pets for those who want something other than a cat or dog. Remember, exotic pets are not for everyone. Contact your veterinarian and/or a local zoo before purchasing any exotic species.

  • Domesticated rodents like guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, mice and rats
  • Domesticated rabbits
  • Captive-reared birds like budgies (parakeets), cockatiels, small parrots, canaries, finches and domesticated doves
  • Pigeons, ducks and geese
  • Captive-bred exotic birds like large parrots
  • Tropical fish
  • Ferrets
  • Hedgehogs
  • Selected species of reptiles (preferably captive-reared), avoiding large constrictors, poisonous species and members of: the crocodilian family; selective captive-reared amphibians and selected species of invertebrates.

Most other wild or exotic species should not be considered as pets.

Dogs for Diabetics

Nothing causes greater worry in a parent than to have his/her child at risk for harm. Parents of diabetics know this anxiety well as the risks of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) can occur at any time and result in deadly consequences. Fortunately, continuous research studies and programs help insulin-dependent diabetics manage their insulin therapy and lower the risks of a hypoglycemic reaction. And surprisingly, the friendliest blood glucose detector on the market? Dogs.

Living with Risk

As many as three million people have Type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disease in which a person’s body stops producing insulin. The disease does not discriminate; T1D strikes both adults and children with equal vigor. It develops suddenly, causes dependence on insulin injections, and carries with it the constant threat of devastating complications.

Dog with Boy

Living with T1D is a constant challenge as individuals must carefully balance injected insulin doses with eating, drinking, physical fitness and other activities. Even with careful monitoring, people with T1D still run the risk of dangerous high or low blood-glucose levels, both of which can be life threatening. The disease can be particularly threatening to babies/young children, newly independent young adults or single adults living alone for the simple reason that it is difficult for these individuals to communicate and/or respond to dangerous complications.

Common Scents

It takes more than common sense to know when an acute attack of hypo or hyperglycemia is about to strike. A relatively new growing class of service dogs is emerging to help diabetic patients predict when blood glucose levels are falling suddenly or unexpectedly. Evidence suggests that these trained dogs can react with an accuracy and speed that beats medical devices such as glucose meters and continuous glucose monitors. Studies have shown that dogs may be able to identify the onset of hypoglycemia up to 30 minutes ahead of it being registered by a glucose meter. With their acute sense of smell, dogs (especially retrievers) are able to react to the chemical scent produced by falling blood sugar levels.

Tangible (and Intangible) Benefits

Clearly, a service dog’s companionship for a diabetic has real and tangible benefits to the patient. The dog is a constant guarantor that, even in a medical crisis, lifesaving measures will be taken. In this case, man’s best friend is truly a very best friend.

However, there are also not-so-readily-viewable advantages to having a service dog available for diabetic patients. When a child has T1D, his mother tends to spend many a night on high alert. Assistance dogs allow parents to rest comfortably while the dog keeps watch. They can also help newly independent college students live away from home without parental oversight. Moreover, an elderly adult living alone with diabetes can also be comforted knowing that her loyal companion is an extra component in her support network. Dogs’ capabilities and reliability in recognizing the impending dangers of hypoglycemia offset the ever present worry that sidles up next to diabetic patients who live with this disease. And not only do they comfort the owners but also those who care about the diabetic.

Further Information

If you or someone you love suffers from diabetes and is interested in this type of assistance, please contact your physician or one of our veterinarians. There are several organizations available that provide service dogs for diabetics, including,,

Did You Know? Your Cat Might Be a Lefty

Humans usually prefer one hand over the other. In fact, nearly 85 percent of the human species prefer the use of their right hand according to the BBC. And while right-handed people generally score higher on intelligence tests and live on average nine years longer than their left-handed friends, being a southpaw has it's advantages too, like having a natural leaning toward creative thinking.

But did you know that your cat may also prefer one paw over the other? It's true!

According to Dr. Bonnie Beaver, an animal behavior specialist at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, cats can be right-pawed or left-pawed. Dr. Beaver says right forepaw usage is preferred by about 20 percent of cats and 38 percent of cats are left pawed. The remainder are ambidextrous, using either paw to manipulate objects.

There's also an interesting divide between the sexes. In a 2009 Queen University Belfast study, it was revealed male cats tend to prefer their front left paw while females preferred their front right paw.

Want to test out the theory yourself? Set a cup out in front of your cat with a piece of food inside. Your cat will reach inside with their dominant paw to fish out that tasty morsel. Studies have shown the more difficult the task, the more likely a cat will use their dominant paw.

6 Games to Play with Your Cat

One of the best ways to strengthen the bond between you and your cat is to play games together. When you play with your cat, you become the most interesting object in his or her life. Not only is playtime fun for your cat, it's also a great way to get your cat to exercise, both mentally and physically.

Here are six games you can play with your cat. Not every feline will want to play every game on this list, but certainly there are at least a few games here that you and your cat will enjoy. While most of them require objects you may have around the house, there are also a number of toys available that provide the same fun. The key is to actually play with your cat in order to create a fun and lasting relationship with your cat while also keeping them trim and healthy.

Cat Playing

Paw Hockey - Play this game in a room with hardwood, tile or linoleum floors that has at least 10 square feet of free floor space. Break off an 8-inch square of aluminum foil and scrunch it up into a hockey puck shape. (Please remember that foil balls should always be thrown away at the end of the game. They are fine for games, but are not safe for unsupervised play.) Show your cat the puck and then flick it with your fingers so that it goes skittering across the floor. Your cat will then chase after the puck, batting it with his paws and making it scoot from one end of the room to the other. If your cat starts to lose interest in the game, pick up the puck and give it another flick.

Staircase Dash - With your cat at the top of the stairs and you at the bottom, fling a ping pong ball to the top of the staircase, against the side wall, one or two steps in front of where your cat is sitting. The ball bounces down the stairs and your cat should race down the stairs chasing after it. When the ball reaches the bottom of the stairs, probably with your cat just a step behind, fling the ball back up to the top of the staircase. Keep tossing the ball up the steps until your cat gets tired.

Bathtub Scurry - Put a ping pong ball in a clean, dry bathtub. Remove the bottles of shampoo and bars of soap and plug the drain so the ping pong ball doesn't get lodged there. Put your cat in the bathtub, show him the ping pong ball and bounce the ball off the side of the bathtub. As the ball bounces around, your cat should chase after it. If the ball starts to slow down, give it a good roll off the side to get it moving again and to keep up your cat's interest.

Chase the Thing on the String - Get an aluminum foil ball, hollow plastic Whiffle ball or catnip mouse and tie it to a 3-foot piece of twine or heavy string. Pull the string along the floor in front of you, over the cat furniture or up and down your staircase and let your cat chase after the object. Be sure to allow your cat to capture the object every once in awhile so he/she can feel like a successful predator.

Shadows on the Wall - Turn off the lights in the evening and shine a flashlight on a nearby wall. Dangle bouncy cat toys or other small objects in the light and move them back and forth so their shadows race up and down the wall. Your cat should leap up at the wall trying to catch the elusive prey.

Cat Playing