Category Archives: News Updates

Check here for News Updates. These include current information on Health, Disease Breakouts, Food recalls etc.

How to introduce a cat

How to introduce a cat
by Becky E. Marks, DVM

Cat introductions should be gradual 

The holidays are around the corner. Perhaps your youngster has been begging, Mom can I have a kitten for Christmas? You are wearing thin.You already have one cat. Is it that simple to add another kitten to your already hectic lives? Well yes and no. Often we get questions regarding how to handle the predicament of adding another feline (or canine) to the household. You must understand that the cat who currently reigns feels very threatened by newcomers. A cat who has her favorite chair, window ledge and scheduled pathway to roam about the house is not likely to welcome a frisky stranger.

Mistakes are easily made. What you should not do --Don"t immediately introduce these pets together by rubbing their noses together or closing them together in a room. By all means do not scold either pet for not meeting your expectations. This is a stressful event for them. What you should do . Create a safe place for the new cat or kitten.

A good option is a back bedroom. In this room, arrange all the comforts of home: food, water, litter pan and toys. For the first two weeks, play with your new kitten in this room only. In the meantime, the resident feline will know something is up. The smell of the new kitten will be on your clothes and sounds of the new kitten will be heard. The two felines can smell and investigate each other under the door without scratching or biting. In the next two weeks you may allow the new kitty out for short stretches of time. You have to monitor these time periods. It is easy to imagine how a cat fight could be dangerous and traumatic. This takes time, but keep in mind you are in control of the adjustment period. In the fourth week you may allow more extended periods of freedom for the new kitten, but keep monitoring. Try to show equal one on one time for each pet. It can be difficult to be impartial. If however, one pet is more upset than the other it is acceptable to show more affection.

Same feeding area Beginning week four you can start to feed both cats in the same feeding area. Feed the cats at regular times so that they have a good appetite and are more concerned about their food than the other cat. You are trying to create an association in each cats mind: Every time I see that other cat I get rewarded with food. Nothing bad happens! The food bowls should be as far apart as possible. Gradually move the bowls closer together over a period of several days. Now you are testing the waters. Go slowly. If any hissing or upset occurs you will have to retrace your steps and put the bowls further apart again.

Special toys Also, find some special toys that both cats like. They will have these toys only when they are together in the same room. A couple of strings are great. Drag a string for each cat so they are independently playing and again you are creating an association: Every time the other cat is playing I get my special toy and special attention!" Most cats will be over the hurdles in eight to 10 weeks. If they are not pals after three months, they never will be. It may be that your cats only tolerate each other, but you may have rushed the process. Try backing up a few steps and going slower this time.

Young kittens are usually easier to mix. Their adjustment period may only be a week. A dog entering into a cat household is somewhat similar. Dogs and pups tend to be rambunctious. Most resident cats will hide in the back room and the roles are reversed. This is OK.
A new kitten for the holidays is a wonderful treat. Make sure the guidelines are understood by the household before the pet arrives, and make the introduction a joy for all!

Another really important reason to use the initial 2 week separation is to prevent upper respiratory infections from being spread. Wahs your hands and change clothes if your new entry has any signs of infection before you return to contact with you older pets.

Becky E. Marks, DVM is a co-owner of Timberland Animal Clinic


holiday sorrows

Homemade ornaments are unique and easy to make

For many of us holidays with our pets a joyfilled. We may have a new addition to our family and have lavished them with gifts and stockings.  Many of us have our pets in our adjusted environment. Your pet knows the routine of the holiday–Christmas morning with happy people voices and papers all over the floor and children gleefully embracing their gifts. 

But for others Christmas may bring sadness. They are coming to terms with their pet’s illness. This may be Jasper’s last Christmas.  Or maybe Jasper is already deceased and the holidays resurface grief.  Those of us who are pet lovers understand the emotions of pet loss.  Not all  friends and family “get it”.

Some ways to celebrate your pet’s life during the holidays may include making a photo  ornament .  Set aside a special time to remember  your pets. Display some photos and have each family member speak a remembrance.  This is very helpful for children.  Keep the process simple.  And never force the experience on others who are not genuinely want to participate–that will ruin the experience for you. You could consider a facebook group /instagram for pets for  the holidays. Or just a gathering of like-minded friends. 

Study on Heartworm –the rise in Oregon

Did you know Heartworm disease is on the rise in the Northwest ?Portland is in the top 10 cities with the highest percentage increase in heartworm disease. If your dog gets heartworm disease, it can lead to heart failure, organ failure and eventually death. Heartworm disease is preventable. That is why our clinic is participating in a field study for preventative care.

We are seeking dogs for a Heartworm field study. Call us for details. 503.665.1194–sorry enrollment is closed for this study

What is Heartworm Disease?

“Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.

Dogs. The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, heartworm prevention for dogs is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible“.

Cats can be heartworm infected. The condition is very rare and
and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage ..


Grain Free Diets and Heart Disease?

A new client walks in with their first dog. They have the food recommended by the pet store. “It’s grain-free” they smile with an expectant affirmative response. After all isn’t that the best diet for their dog (cat)? As veterinarians this is a very common dialogue.  Unfortunately, the response to the client is a letdown. Grain-free diets are: extrapolated from the human side of nutrition, they do not meet all of your pet’s nutritional needs and new research shows these diets maybe harmful to your pet. The lack of grains requires replacement ingredients such as potatoes, legumes, peas and lentils. These ingredients lead to low levels of Taurine an essential amino acid.

  A recent UCDavis study (7/2018) discovered the dogs seemed to have a higher correlation of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) when on grain free diets due to the replacement ingredients.  Taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM. DCM is a disease of the heart muscle that results in weakened contractions and poor pumping ability. As the disease progresses the heart chambers become enlarged, one or more valves may leak, and signs of congestive heart failure develop. This disease is serious and in some cases sudden death.

Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds. see source FDA…

If the problem is identified early and if the patient has been on a grain-free diet the patient can be treated. However, early detection is not usually the case. Prevention is through dietary awareness. Ask your veterinarian for nutritional advice.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy can cause sudden death


Monkey Faced Giardia

By Becky E. Marks, D.V.M.

Recently, the Brown Family went for a hike in the Mountains. What a pleasure to get out of the city for awhile to enjoy nature: fresh air, sunshine and pure stream water. Within 48 hours they all had diarrhea including Dudley their pet dog.

The Browns and Dudley had been infected with Giardia. In the early 70’s and 80’s Giardia had been “the most common infectious disease reported to the health departments”. Currently in Oregon 9.73% of dogs tested are positive for Giardia! It is a protozoa that is found in streams and stagnant water and any moist areas that are contaminated with stools containing Giardia. A common way to acquire Giardia is from a water supply where beavers have defecated upstream. Any warm blooded mammal or bird can be infected.

When animals present to us (dogs more so than cats) they have usually had a profound diarrhea and a decrease in appetite. Often the pet owner can identify when the problem began. However some animals may have a more gradual disease with on and off diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence and weight loss. In this case the owner is not able to pinpoint when the problem started. ( Many people think these symptoms are from feeding cheap food.) Either way the small bowel disease is serious because it can spread to other animals including pet owners. This is by definition a zoonotic disease.

In order to diagnose the problem samples of stool must be examined microscopically or via an enzyme test. The bacterial flora should be examined microscopically, too. Humorously, one form of the tiny protozoa looks like a monkey face under the microscope. There they sit with “big eyes” looking back at you. The treatment may range from antibiotics and a temporary bland diet to hospitalization and fluids. It depends on the severity of the symptoms. The treatment for the protozoa is conventionally a specific antibiotic. However, no treatment is 100% effective. Retreatment or alternative treatments are needed and negative stools to confirm elimination. If an animal carries the Giardia but does not appear sick then he will be a silent carrier and continue to spread the disease. The yard and any areas where stools have been left should be thoroughly cleaned. This may include shutting down the coy pond or cleaning the bird bath because they are stagnant water sources prime for growth of Giardia. Avoid letting you dog drink from puddles.

Reading Food Labels

 Labels–the  guaranteed analysis

by Dr. Becky Marks


Firstly, an diet that says “for all stages of life” you already have problems. All diet have modications for the various stages of life. A puppy requires lots more in fat , calories and proteint for growth . The old lab that really is overweight and winding down needs less fat, calories and protein.  It is that simple.

Reading labels for pet food

Many Clients now looks for grain free diets. The idea implies that grains cause allergies or gluten issues. This is not the case. Keep in mind that cats and dogs in the will eat grains whenever they catch a rodent or rabbit they eat the GI contents for the extra (green) nutrition.

In the process of reading the pet food bag there is a lot of information that you might skim over. In the case of the recalls you quickly read through the ingredient list and relied on the accuracy of the label. Labels that have the American Feed Control Official (AAFCO) approval means the law has defined what can be used for manufacture. These are the minimum requirements. Some companies go beyond the basics. Better companies use human grade ingredients. Others use human non-edible grades.  There are also quality standards regarding packaging, physical integrity of the food, adequacy of sterilization, freedom from toxins and microbes.  Canada and Europe have different guidelines.

Remember that more nutrients are NOT always better in pet nutrition — many nutrients are actually toxic in excessive amounts! And every dog and cat has unique nutritional needs based on age, health and activity level.

Ingredients: Ingredients are required to be listed in their proper order of predominance by weight. The weights of ingredients are determined as they are added in the formulation, with their inherent water content. Water content greatly affects the weight of the listed ingredients. If the food is listed on As-is analysis then water is present and the calculations would need to be recalculated on the Dry Matter basis. For example, one pet food may list “chicken” as its first ingredient, and “corn” as its second. The manufacturer doesn’t hesitate to point out that its competitor lists “corn” first (chicken meal is second). However, chicken is very high in moisture (approximately 75% water). On the other hand, water and fat are removed from chicken meal, so it is only 10% moisture. If we compared both products on a dry matter basis, one could see that the second product had more chicken meal than the first product had chicken.

Some categories such as meat, meat by-products, and poultry by-products are confusing.Meat is the clean flesh of slaughtered animals (chicken, cattle, lamb, turkey, etc.). The flesh can include striated skeletal muscle, tongue, diaphragm, heart, esophagus, overlying fat and the skin, sinew, nerves and blood vessels normally found with that flesh.Meat By-products: Meat by-products are clean parts of slaughtered animals, not including meat. These include lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, and stomach and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth, or hooves.Poultry By-products: Poultry by-products are clean parts of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, and internal organs (like heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, abdomen, and intestines). It does not contain feathers.

Guaranteed analysis:

As you scan the guaranteed analysis you will see the breakdown of categories: Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, Water, Vitamins and Minerals.  Protein is the main element of body tissues like muscles, blood, skin, organs, hair and nails. Carbohydrates provide energy for the body’s tissues. Fats absorb, store and transport vitamins, moisturize skin and coat, make healthy pet food taste great and supply energy. Water is the most critical nutrient for survival. Vitamins assist in maintaining an animal’s metabolism. Minerals are necessary to develop healthy skin and hair, proper skeletal support and development. Minerals are usually abundant in pet food ingredients.


Minimum and maximum levels are in the guaranteed analysis. This may have some advantages when you are concerned about the maximum fat in a diet. However, in a pet with kidney disease the level of protein will be the main item of concern. Low protein is critical for kidney patients. When the level states “minimum’ protein 21% you have know idea what the maximum value may be. Now you are learning how to read “between the label lines’. At minimum, a pet food label must state guarantees for minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, and maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. The “crude” term refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself.


Some manufacturers include guarantees for other nutrients as well. Maximum ash is often guaranteed, especially on cat foods. Cat food commonly also bear guarantees for taurine and magnesium as well. For dog foods, minimum levels of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and linoleic acid are found on some products. If the guarantees don’t include information on a particular nutrient that you are interested in, ask the company, or don’t buy the product.

Comparing the guaranteed analyses of dry and canned products, one will note that the levels of crude protein and most other nutrients are much lower for the canned product. This can be explained by looking at the relative moisture contents. Canned foods typically contain 75-78% moisture, whereas dry foods contain only 10-12% water. To make meaningful comparisons of nutrient levels between a canned and dry product, they should be expressed on a similar moisture basis.  To roughly approximate this, the guarantees for the canned product should be multiplied by four.

When buying a canned food, look at the moisture guarantee. The maximum moisture content for a pet food is 78%, except for products labeled as a “stew,” “in sauce,” “in gravy,” or similar terms. The extra water gives the product the qualities needed to have the appropriate texture and fluidity, but you are paying for it.


Nutritional Adequacy Statement  will also state for which life stage(s) the product is suitable, such as “for maintenance, or “for growth.” A product intended “for all life stages” meets the more stringent nutritional needs for growth and reproduction A maintenance ration will meet the needs of an adult, non-reproducing dog or cat of normal activity, but may not be sufficient for a growing, reproducing, or hard-working animal.  Puppy/kitten, adult maintenance, low activity and senior pets can easily have their needs met with respective diets for each stage.

Feeding Guidelines:

Feeding guidelines instruct the consumer on how much product should be offered the animal. At minimum, they should include verbage such as “feed ___ cups per ____ pounds of body weight daily.”The feeding directions should be taken as rough guidelines, a place to start. Breed, temperament, environment, and many other factors can influence food intake. The best suggestion is to offer the prescribed amount at first, but don’t be afraid to increase or cut back as your eye guides you.


Trusting the information on the label will be difficult for you with regard to the recent recalls. The Pet Food Institute  has just announced the formation of a National Pet Food Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to investigate the cause of the recall and to recommend steps the industry and government should take to further build on safety and quality standards already in place. The Commission is an industry/government partnership composed of government officials, veterinarians, toxicologists and food scientists who are committed to maintaining and enhancing the high standards we have set in this country that protect our pets.

Canine Influenza

Alert to Dog Owners                                   :
First Case of Canine Influenza in Oregon reported this week.

We have vaccine available– Call for an appointment*

The Portland Veterinary Medical Association, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, and the State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Emilio DeBess, are recommending proactively vaccinating of all at-risk dogs for CIV to protect of these patient and prevent an outbreak in our community.

Dogs at increased risk of exposure include but not limited to dogs with lifestyles that include dog parks, dog-daycare, dog shows, grooming, boarding, travel (car, air, etc), rescue animals and dogs with pre-existing heart disease or lung disease, potential senior dogs, and brachycephalic breeds.

Symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge and frequent coughing that can last for two weeks or more. Some dogs develop more serious disease and pneumonia that requires hospital care.

Most dogs that get canine flu recover, but in the same way the flu affects older humans and those with weakened/new immune systems, young and very old dogs are at a higher risk.

*The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine, and is not recommended for every dog.

Timberland Animal Clinic 18110 SE Division St. Portland, OR 92376