Rockford, IL animal hospital The veterinarians and staff at the Bellwood 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.

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Current Newsletter Topics

March 23 is National Puppy Day

March 23 is National Puppy Day! Since 2006, National Puppy Day celebrates the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives. Over the years, this holiday has grown into an international holiday, and has trended on Twitter since 2012.

Creator Colleen Page—who also founded National Dog Day and National Cat Day—created this event to help save orphaned puppies across the globe while educating the public about the horrors of puppy mills. According to the National Puppy Day website, there are approximately 8,000-10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. , including many businesses that call themselves breeders that purposely allow their dog to get pregnant in hopes of selling puppies through local papers or online.

“The tragedy of puppy mills is that they don’t care about the animals more than a commodity to be sold,” National Puppy Day’s website reads. “Most of these animals live in crammed cages with no room to movie, in complete and utter squalor.”

While National Puppy Day is a great day to post pictures of your adorable puppy to your Twitter feed, don’t forget why we celebrate this holiday: for the fair and ethical treatment of dogs across the world. To learn more about National Puppy Day and why adopting a puppy is important, visit

How Smart Is Your Dog?

Your dog always seems to know the difference between a ride to the dog park and a ride to the veterinarian's and understands dozens of different commands (though not necessarily always when you want him or her to do so), but just how smart is your pooch? According to a Canadian professor, your furry friend is just as smart as a 2-year-old child.

Dogs have the same developmental abilities "equivalent to a human 2-year-old," said Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the author of "How to Speak Dog" and "How Dogs Think," as well as a number of other books. Coren presented his findings earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Toronto.

According to Coren, the average dog can learn to understand about 165 words and can count up to four or five. Dogs can also experience fear, anger and happiness, but do not feel guilt - characteristics similar to a human toddler, Coren said. They can be sneaky, too: Coren said that dogs are capable of intentionally deceiving other dogs and people in order to get treats they want.

Border Collies are ranked as one of the smartest dog breeds.

While all dogs can learn new tricks, not all dogs are created equal, according to Coren. Using data from more than 200 dog obedience judges in the United States and Canada, Coren ranked a number of dog breeds based on their intelligence. The Border Collie sits at the top of the list, followed closely by Poodles, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Dobermans. The Afghan Hound is ranked at the bottom of the list of 100 breeds.

In his blog, Coren writes that dogs possess different varieties of intelligence. Instinctive intelligence refers to the skills dogs were bred for (herding dogs, etc.); adaptive intelligence is a measure of what a dog can learn to do for him or herself, and working and obedience intelligence covers skills learned by "working dogs" such as police dogs or guide dogs.

But Coren is quick to note that intelligence isn't always an indicator of personality and that the smarter the dog, the greater the chance for mischief: "While a smart dog will learn everything that you want it to know, it will also learn everything that it can get away with," Coren writes. More importantly, intelligence has no bearing on a dog's companionship; your dog's breed may not be at the top of the smartest-breeds list, but that doesn't make his or her friendship any less valuable.

Help, My Cat Keeps Me up All Night

You love your purring, furry companion, but when they're up and about during the night, making noise throughout your home that you begin to see them less of a friend and more of an enemy. Say goodbye to the night reign of the fur monster with these tips.

Cats are considered crepuscular, meaning they’re most active from dawn to dusk, which might not exactly synchronize with your sleeping schedule. The good news is that you don’t have to give up sleep forever. You can help your cat adjust to a new schedule over time, but first it’s important that your cat is not waking you up because they’re ill. Be sure to take your cat for yearly wellness exams.

Sure, you might swear your cat sleeps all day (and chances are they mostly do) but when they’re awake, they want food and stimulation. Playing with your cat will help them not only feel better, but will help make them feel more socialized. When it’s time for bed, create a routine for your cat as well. Start by brushing or spending some quiet time with your cat. This should help calm them and help them fall asleep.

Once asleep, don’t give in to your cat’s attempts for attention. We’ve all been there when they start walking over your head and licking your face because they want more food, but giving in only reinforces their bad behavior. Eventually a cat's persistence will stop, and if you continue to ignore their late-night badgering, they'll develop their own schedule that doesn’t include waking you up all the time.

Why Praising Your Puppy Will Help with House Training

The most important thing to remember in training a new puppy is this: puppies and dogs learn best by being praised when they do the right thing. They rarely learn by being punished when they do the wrong thing. House training is challenging, but can be made easier if you follow these basic dos and don'ts - and stick to them.


• Keep in mind that a puppy is the equivalent of a human baby and has to eliminate frequently. Take the puppy out every two hours (by the clock) during normal waking hours, in addition to immediately after eating, waking and playing. It will also need to go out right before being bedded down for the night.

• Pick the puppy up and take it to the same place each time. Praise and reward the puppy with a small treat immediately after it urinates or defecates in the designated place.

• Allow the puppy to "go" several more times before bringing it in. Puppies don't have the ability to eliminate everything in their bladder and bowels on the first squat. If you bring it in prematurely, chances are you'll end up with an unwanted puddle or pile.

• Make a loud noise to startle the puppy if you catch him in the act of eliminating in an improper place - this will make his body contract and usually stop mid-stream - scoop him up and take him to the designated place to finish eliminating.

• Thoroughly clean accident areas with a disinfectant and/or odor neutralizer.

• Feed the puppy at regular intervals. This makes it much easier to regulate bowel movements and predict when it has to "go."

• Keep the puppy close to you when you are home. Confine it with a gate, or keep it on a leash that can be attached to your belt or slipped under the leg of a chair or table. This makes it easier to keep an eye on the puppy, and monitor when it has to go out.

• Utilize crate training.

• Be patient and consistent, and make your puppy feel like it is the best puppy in the world when it eliminates in the right place.

As important as it is to know the right things, it is equally important to know the wrong things to do for housebreaking your puppy. The "wrong" things not only hinder your house training efforts, but can cause permanent unwanted behavior.


• Reprimand or punish the puppy when it has an accident. Puppies don't have the ability to understand that they are "in trouble" because they went in the house. This only frightens your puppy and makes it think that the act of urinating or defecating in itself is bad.

• Take the puppy over to its "mess" and put his face in it or show it to him. This is meaningless to the puppy and again only frightens or confuses it. Furthermore, a dog's attention span is very short so it will not understand the message you are trying to send.

• Put the puppy outside by itself to eliminate. If you are not there to praise it immediately after it goes it will not learn that it is supposed to urinate and defecate outside.

• Have unrealistic expectations of your puppy. Puppies don't have the ability to "hold" their bladder and bowels for extended periods of time. On the average, during waking hours, they don't have the ability to hold for longer than three to four hours until they are 6 months old.

• Lose your temper, use corporal punishment, or loud verbal reprimands when the puppy slips up - because it will.

This is all part of the house training process. Your puppy's progress depends largely on your patience and consistency.

Preparing For Your New Kitten

You will need to have the following items on hand before bringing home your new kitten:

A litterbox that is the right size for the age of the kitten. Avoid boxes that are too deep and thus might be difficult for your new kitten to climb into.

Litter for the litterbox - you may be surprised at how picky some kittens can be. Some cats prefer the very fine grain litter and some prefer the coarser types. Don't give up if your kitten does not seem pleased at first. Most kittens will definitely let you know when you have hit upon the right mixture. The breeder can let you know what the kitten is used to.

Scratching Posts (or some type of cat furniture) - They are invaluable in training your kitten to avoid harming your furniture. Scratching their claws is a healthy, natural instinct for cats, and providing them with the right place to do that will keep you and your kitten happy. Be aware that some cats prefer rough surfaces like sisal rope white others go crazy for plain old carpet (the kind on your floor, if you don't have a scratching post!).

Grooming Tools suitable for the breed of your kitten - A brush and comb are indispensable for a long-haired kitten/cat, or a flea comb or special brush for short-haired cats. You'll also need clippers for their nails (human nail clippers are not recommended). Purchase clippers made especially for cats. These can be found in most quality pet stores. Trimming the nails is an important part of feline grooming. We also recommend discussing teeth brushing with your veterinarian. This requires a special toothbrush and toothpaste.

Food and Water Bowls - Believe it or not, there is a difference even in the type of food and water bowls you provide for your kitten. Certain types of plastic, wood and even some types of ceramic bowls may contain tiny cracks that can harbor potentially harmful bacteria. Most professionals recommend using glass and stainless steel food and water bowls. These bowls should be cleaned regularly (the dishwasher is great). Make sure the bowls are not too high for your kitten to reach.

TOYS, TOYS, TOYS - Just as human babies love to play, so do kittens. It is their survival instinct and throughout their lives, kittens and cats emulate hunting in their play. Providing them with suitable toys helps to ensure they fulfill this need. You will need to be very selective in the type of toys as kittens do love to chew and nibble. Avoid purchasing toys with small strings or beads that can be swallowed easily. Toys don't have to be expensive to be appreciated by kittens and cats.

Cat Carrier (Pet Taxi) - You'll need to have a carrier for safely traveling with your kitten, as well as trips to the vet. There is also a new "Pet Seat" available, which secures your kitten/cat (up to 30 pounds) in your car, allowing for more interaction between you and your kitty.

Food - Check with the breeder or veterinarian to be sure you have the proper food on hand. Changes in diet and water, even litter and environment, can cause minor diarrhea and other problems. It doesn't hurt to pick up a few bottles of Pedialyte liquid to keep in the cupboard in case of diarrhea and/or dehydration.

Bedding - A nice cozy bed is a great idea for the new member of the family. Your kitten will soon know that this is her/his special place. Choose a bed that is well constructed and one that is machine washable.