The staff at the Angel Refuge Pet Cemetery & Crematory Inc. are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to memorial and burial services, end-of-life care, grief counseling and more.

Current Newsletter Topics

November is National Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Pet Diabetes Month, but with more than 50 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs overweight or obese, raising awareness of the common endocrine disease has been extended to pets – rather than just their human caretakers. It is estimated that one in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes, being the most common endocrine condition found in felines. The numbers for dogs are similar and only expected to increase.

Diabetes results when a pet’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I DM) or doesn’t process it properly (Type II DM). When your pet eats, carbohydrates found in his or her food are converted into simple sugars, one of which is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines and travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin typically helps turn the glucose into fuel. However, when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose can’t even enter the cells to be converted into energy and instead just builds up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs:

• Lethargy
• Excessive thirst
• Frequent urination
• Always hungry, yet maintains or loses weight
• Thinning, dry and dull coats in cats
• Cloudy eyes in dogs

National Pet Diabetes Month

At-risk pets include:

• Those with genetic predispositions
• Those with other insulin-related disorders
• Those who are obese and/or physically inactive
• Dogs who are between 4- to 14-years-old
• Unspayed/intact female dogs are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes
• Dog breeds with greater risk for development: Cocker spaniels, dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labradors, Pomeranians, terriers and Toy Poodles

Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed so that symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely. Your veterinarian will decide which treatment options are best for your pet. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle, combined with or without daily insulin injections, can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have diabetes, contact your veterinarian today. Veterinarians are the only professionals who can accurately diagnose your pet and provide proper health management. Diabetes can affect a pet differently over time, even if your pet has experienced a long period of stability. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the better, and the less likely you'll incur the cost of an expensive emergency visit for diabetic complications.

10 Common Questions Asked after the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a cherished animal companion can cause extreme sadness, intense guilt and a whirlwind of other emotions. Often, you will seek answers to questions that may not be black and white. Below, you will find some of the most common questions pet owners ask of themselves while grieving the death of a pet.

1. When is the right time to euthanize a pet?

Your veterinarian will make a recommendation based on your pet's physical condition and long-term outlook. You, however, have the unique insight into your pet's daily quality of life. By evaluating your pet's health honestly, you will be able to work with your veterinarian to come to the most humane decision for your individual pet. The decision to euthanize will never be easy, but is often the final act of love you can provide a pet who is suffering.

2. Should I stay with my pet during euthanasia?

This is a completely personal decision that you will need to make. Many pet owners want to be there for their pets and witness it so they can see it happened peacefully and without pain. This can be traumatic, but not witnessing the death may make it harder to accept that the pet is really gone. Also, you want to gauge your own emotional strength- if you have an uncontrolled outpouring of emotions before your pet passes, it may be upsetting for him or her to witness. Euthanasia can sometimes be performed at home. Discuss your options with your veterinarian beforehand.

3. I've heard of the stages of grief, but what are they?

The grieving process is often illustrated by five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Typically, you will move through them progressively, but everyone grieves in different ways. You'll know you're beginning to heal when you're thinking more rationally and more often of the good times you shared with your pet rather than of the "what-ifs" and the guilt.

4. How can I cope with my feelings?

Having someone to share your feelings with will help you not have to keep them locked up inside. Don't deny how you feel or simply put on a brave face. You must acknowledge your feelings to work through them. Some of your thoughts may be misguided and as time passes you will be able to realize this. Do whatever works best for you as a means of emotional expression – go somewhere secluded and scream, cry, talk, write, paint, create a memorial, or find a new activity to fill the time you previously would've spent with your pet.

5. Should I just get over it?

It is common to hear the phrase "it was just a pet" when others find your emotions to be too extreme or too long-lasting. These people aren't aware that the death of a pet creates the same emotional response as the loss of a human friend or family member. Grieving is natural and thousands of pet owners can attest to that.

6. Who can I talk to?

Share your feelings with family or friends who have pets. Reminisce about your pet. Or, speak with your veterinarian or local humane association to identify pet loss counselors or support groups. Hospitals and churches also often have resources for grief support.

7. Should I do burial, cremation, or disposal?

This is another decision which should be based on your personal wishes. It can be easiest to have a clinic dispose of your pet's remains (often for a fee), but many prefer something more formal. Based on your living situation, a burial at home may be a good choice. However, both burial and cremation depend on your personal or religious values, finances and future plans. Your veterinarian or an online search will provide options available in your area.

8. What should I tell my children?

Be honest with your children and provide as much information as they seek in a way that matches their age and maturity level. Saying their pet was "put to sleep" is not advised, as they may begin to fear bedtime. Allow your children to grieve in their own ways and be open about your own emotions around them rather than teaching them to keep it all inside.

9. Will my other pets get depressed?

Your other pets may notice a change in the household. Based on their relationship, some may search for their companion, eat less and seem to be grieving. Giving your surviving pets extra love and attention during this time will be beneficial not only to them, but to you as well.

10. Should I get a new pet right away?

Generally, it is best to allow yourself time to work through your grief and loss before introducing a new pet into your home and life. A new pet is a unique individual, not a replacement. Try to avoid getting one that looks the same or naming it the same as your deceased pet, and don't expect it to behave exactly the same either. Getting a new pet too soon may lead to resentment or feelings of disloyalty because you still want your old pet back.

Most Common Reasons of Poisoning in Cats

Cats are sensitive to many toxic agents, sometimes in ways unique to their species. Although cats are less likely than dogs to expose themselves through "curious" ingestions, cats do have more of a tendency to nibble on deadly agents. Cats are also able to jump to high places and squeeze into small spaces that are out of reach to dogs, children and even adults. Lastly, because of their need to groom, cats with skin exposure to hazardous chemicals are likely to receive an oral dose as well.

The products listed below have been selected based on the most frequent feline exposures reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) over the last four years.

1-2. Canine topical treatments and other topical insecticides

Believe it or not, owners often accidentally apply dog flea and tick treatments on their cats. In some cases, cats have even developed signs of poisoning after being in close contact (sleeping near or grooming) with a dog that has recently been treated with a flea/tick topical medication. Initial signs of intoxication may appear within a few hours but can take 24 to 72 hour to show up. Full body tremors are the most common, though seizures may also occur. Cats may also have an adverse reaction to topical insecticides specifically designed for cats. In general, topical flea control products applied according to the label directions do not cause problems. If signs such as irritation of the skin or hypersensitivity appear, wash the product off with a mild detergent. If a cat licks the applied product, hyper-salivation, agitation and occasionally vomiting, may develop.

3. Venlafazine

Venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR-Wyeth) is an antidepressant available in tablets and capsules. Cats seem to be big fans of venlafazine and readily eat capsules containing the drug. Although this is not a common household drug, it can cause serious illness if ingested. Clinical signs include dilated pupils, vomiting, tachypnea (rapid breathing), tachycardia (rapid heart rate), ataxia and agitation. Signs generally begin within 1 - 8 hours after ingesting the medication. The prognosis is good with timely treatment and close monitoring.

4. Glow sticks and jewelry

Glow sticks and glow jewelry including plastic bracelets, necklaces and wands that contain a liquid that glow in the dark also pose a serious danger. "Glow-wear" is popular throughout the summer, especially around the Fourth of July and at Halloween. Cats frequently bite into the jewelry, but due to the extremely unpleasant taste of the liquid chemical, they generally don't ingest more than a small amount. Almost immediately after biting into a piece of glow jewelry, a cat exhibits signs of a taste reaction, including hyper salivation, agitation, and, occasionally, vomiting. The behavioral changes are likely due to the cat's reacting to the unpleasant taste. A tasty treat such as milk, liquid from a tuna fish can or other palatable food can ameliorate the taste reaction. Remove any liquid on the fur with a wet washcloth to prevent re-exposure.

5. Lilies

Though beautiful to look at, lilies can pose a threat to cats. While many plants are called lilies, cats can develop acute renal failure after ingesting Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, Tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies and Day lilies. Within 2 - 4 hours after ingesting any part of the plant (including the pollen), vomiting and depression can occur. Often, the cat seems to recover only to deteriorate rapidly about 24 to 72 hours after the exposure. The symptoms that appear include frequent urination, frequent drinking of water and more severe depression. The prognosis is good with prompt, aggressive treatment.

6. Liquid Potpourri

Who doesn't like a pleasant smelling house? Unfortunately, liquid potpourri is hazardous to cats. Cats, ever the curious species, may lick the product from the container or from their fur if exposed to a spill. The liquid may contain high concentrations of detergents, essential oils or a combination of both. Clinical signs of ingestion include upset stomach, drooling, depression and hypotension. If skin or eye exposure occurs, skin irritation and ulceration along with severe corneal ulceration can occur.

7. NSAIDs - Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Cats may be exposed to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) either by owner administration or, more rarely, by self-ingestion. Although NSAIDs are a group of medications, the most common ones are carprofen (Rimadyl), ibuprofen, deracoxib, naproxen (Aleve), etodolac, meloxicam and indomethacin. Ingestion can cause stomach upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, ulceration, bleeding and ulcer perforation. Acute renal failure, seizures and comas have been associated with higher doses. In general, cats have a low tolerance for NSAIDs. For example, cats are thought to be at least twice as sensitive to ibuprofen as dogs. Because of this sensitivity, most exposures require emergency, aggressive treatment.

8. Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen, most commonly known as Tylenol, is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve pain and reduce fevers. Most often, owners attempting to help relieve their cat's discomfort, wind up causing harm by administering acetaminophen as a pain reliever. Cats should never be given acetaminophen as a pain reliever. Just one pill can cause significant tissue damage in cats. Signs of intoxication develop quickly and can include salivation, vomiting, weakness, abdominal pain and fluid build up (edema) in the face or paws.

9. Rodenticides (rat poison)

Since rodents and cats are all mammals, it makes sense that substances highly poisonous to mice, for example, would be just as lethal to cats. Rodenticides are highly toxic and any such poisons designed to kill small mammals need to be carefully stored away from curious kitties. Also, since cats can be natural rodent hunters, it would be wise to let nature take its course as opposed to exposing your cat to a deadly toxin.

The most common poisoning seen in veterinary practice is that of the anti-coagulant kind. Anti-coagulant rodenticides have ingredient names like warfarin, fumarin, diphacinone and bromadiolone. These poisons act by interfering with a cat's ability to utilize vitamin K. Without vitamin K, a cat's blood is unable to clot when necessary, which can ultimately cause severe blood loss, anemia, hemorrhage and death. Generally, clinical signs are not seen until 3 to 5 days after the cat has ingested the poison. Symptoms resulting from intoxication are weakness, difficulty breathing, pale mucous membranes, bruising and bleeding from the nose. Other types of rodenticides can cause neurological signs such as incoordination and seizures as well as cardiac failure.

If accidental ingestion of rat poison is suspected, contact your veterinarian immediately, even if your cat is showing no obvious signs of being ill. Be sure, if possible, to bring the poison container to the veterinary hospital in order to determine the specific rodenticide ingested. Early recognition is critical, as some toxicities can be treated successfully if caught early and treated appropriately.

10. Fertilizer

Cats, the perennial groomers, often lick their paws, especially after walking outdoors. Because fertilizers are usually a combination of ingredients, several toxic outcomes are possible. In general, the ingredients are poorly absorbed and most clinical signs are related to gastrointestinal irritation showing up as vomiting, hyper-salivation, diarrhea or fatigue. The best way to avoid illness or injury is to keep your cat inside while treating your lawn and wait a little bit before letting him or her out again.

Burial Options for Your Beloved Pet

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. Although cremation has become a popular option, other pet parents still prefer burial – either at home or in a nearby pet cemetery. Burial provides the bereaved with a sacred spot where they can go to visit with their deceased companion. It also allows the owner to feel that his or her pet is still present, still at home and not soon to be forgotten.

A burial site can be adorned with flowers, a personalized headstone or grave marker, or even a statue. Many pet parents will plant a flower or tree atop their pet's grave, or bury their pet beneath an existing and protective tree or shrub.

The Options

Home Burial

Home burial is not always an option. For pet owners who rent, move frequently, or live in an urban area, it may not make sense or it may be forbidden or illegal. Many cities prohibit home burials because of the potential hazard it may cause to public health.

If you do opt for home burial, ensure that your grave site is in an area that won’t be disturbed, is at least three feet deep, and that your pet's body is wrapped in or placed in something which is biodegradable.

Pet Cemetery Burial

Some pet owners prefer the formality of a cemetery burial – with or without an accompanying service. Others simply do not have the space of their own to bury a pet at home. Having your pet's remains buried in a pet cemetery comes with the assurance that the grave site will always be cared for and will never be disturbed. This can be reassuring for older pet parents or those who may move in the future and not be able to relocate their pet's remains.

Burial in a cemetery comes with many options for headstones and other decorative add-ons for your pet's grave or casket. Additionally, many companies exist that can pick up your pet's remains and help make arrangements for a complete funeral and memorial service if that is what you desire. Most states have several pet cemeteries. To locate the one nearest you, consult with your veterinarian or visit the International Association Of Pet Cemeteries & Crematories or the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance websites.

Crematory Options for Your Cherished Companion

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. While some pet parents still prefer burial, cremation has become the most popular option. This may be because more people are renting or living in urban areas where home burial is often prohibited. Some believe that a body is merely a receptacle for a spirit and that more attention should be placed on honoring the memory of a pet than on its remains.

Whatever your beliefs may be, cremation offers the bereaved the option of having a pet's remains returned. They can be kept in a keepsake urn or spread somewhere sentimental. Some veterinarians perform crematory services or there are many crematories who cater just to pets. Since it has become so popular, there are several affordable options.

Private & Viewing

A private cremation ensures that your pet will be cremated alone and that the ashes you receive will be solely his or hers. Viewing cremations are sometimes possible, where you and your family can witness the process from a separate viewing room. This often provides the bereaved with the reassurance they their pet's remains were treated properly and with respect.


In a semi-private cremation, several deceased pets are placed in the same chamber and divided by a partition. While the majority of the ashes you receive back should be those of your pet, some co-mingling of ashes does occur. Be sure to clarify which option you desire (and are paying for) as semi-private is sometimes labeled as private.


If having your pet's ashes returned to you is not something you desire, a communal cremation may be the best option. It results in the co-mingling of several deceased pets' ashes who are cremated together without any partitions separating the bodies.

Helping Pets in Grief

Although it isn’t known for sure if pets grieve the loss of an animal or human companion in the same way humans do, many do express their awareness that something has changed. Depending on how long your pets spent together and what their relationship was like, a death can create a significant void within the home that your surviving cat or dog may notice.

Symptoms of Grief

The ASPCA studied pet behavior after the loss of a pet companion during the nineties and found that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes. Some of these changes included:

• Loss of appetite
• More needy for attention
• More or less vocal than normal
• Restless during sleep
• Searching for deceased pet
• Wandering aimlessly

Allowing Your Pet to Say Goodbye

Many pet owners will attest to the searching behavior their surviving pets seem to exhibit after the death of a companion. When a friend suddenly leaves the house and doesn't return, he or she may anxiously wait for their return or search the house and yard hoping to find them. It has been suggested that allowing your pet to see the deceased pet's body can help him or her understand what has happened.

During this visit, your pet may: sniff, paw at, or try to "bury" the body; lay beside it; howl or whimper; invite play by bringing over a toy; or do nothing at all.

If letting your pet say goodbye in this way is not possible, consider clipping a lock of your deceased pet's hair for your surviving pet to smell. If your pet is showing any signs of grief, provide plenty of extra love and attention.

Thanksgiving: What's Safe to Share With Your Pet

Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for gathering around the dinner table with family and friends to share in your thanks for all that you have and all that you’re about to consume. For many pet owners, Fido and Mittens are valued members of the family and saying ‘no’ to their pleading eyes may be something you skimp on given the special occasion.

You may already know of the Thanksgiving foods to avoid feeding your pet, for various health and safety reasons. Those foods include raw or bone-ridden bits of turkey, raw bread dough and cake batter, walnuts, mushrooms, onions and garlic, sage and nutmeg, and, of course, chocolate. There are, however, some foods which should be perfectly safe to share with most pets.

Thanksgiving with your pet

Turkey – In small amounts, and without bones or excess skin and fat, cooked turkey is just fine to feed your pets under the table.

Pumpkin – Again, in small amounts, pumpkin is safe for pets and can even quell an upset stomach if they’ve overdone it on other tasty Thanksgiving fare. With a bounty of beta carotene, vitamins and fiber, pumpkin also helps with digestion. And, if you’re trying to help your pet slim down, it’s low-calorie!

Sweet Potatoes – If your pets are at your feet during meal preparation, a taste of sweet potato won’t hurt them. Just be sure it’s before you add any of the sweet deliciousness, as pets will have a hard time digesting it. Cooked and plain is the way to go.

Veggies – Most pets enjoy the satisfying crunch of raw vegetables. Carrots and broccoli are packed with beneficial vitamins.

Even though it’s Thanksgiving, remember: everything in moderation, especially for your pets. If your kitty or pooch does overindulge, they could develop a serious upset stomach, diarrhea or an inflammatory condition of the pancreas. Try to keep your pets on their regular diets through the holiday and supplement the above Thanksgiving goodies only as small treats.

Take a Bite Outta Your Dog’s Aggression

Scared that your little Fido is one tail-pull away from his first bite?Worried to bring spot to the playground for fear he could snap at any moment? Aggression is the most common— and troublesome— behavioral problem in dogs. In fact, millions of Americans are bit by dogs each year, and the number just keeps rising. In 2015, there were 34 reported fatal dog attacks in the U.S., with pit pulls accounting for over 82 percent of them, and rottweilers securing a #2 position with approximately 9 percent.

Though certain dogs are preceded by their dangerous reputations, it is important to remember that all dogs are not created equally. Some dogs were bred as hunters, while others served to guard, protect or even fight. Although most dogs are not currently used for their original purposes, still, many dogs are predisposed to act in certain ways. Nevertheless, it is important not to judge a dog entirely by his breed. Individual temperaments can vary greatly among similar breeds, and each dog is a unique product of their own environment and upbringing.

Just as every dog is different, so are the signs of oncoming aggression. However, there will typically be an element of protection or possession involved. Rage could also be attributed to fear or a build-up of annoyance or pain. How many times could you take getting your ears pulled before you snapped?

Aggressive Dog

Here are a few signs and behavioral sequences that your dog may become aggressive:

  1. Becomes very still and stiff
  2. Starts with a low and guttural bark or growl that serves as a potential warning
  3. Starts lunging forward or making thrash movements
  4. Snarling or showing teeth

Learning how to deal with these aggressive tendencies is one of the most important skills you can develop as a pet owner.

Here are a few recommendations to help control your dog’s aggression:

  1. Learn your dog’s triggers! Pay attention to things, places, people and movements that trigger your dog’s aggression. Then, reward your dog when he acts appropriately in these situations.
  2. Contact your veterinarian. If you notice repetitive aggression, it may be wise to seek veterinary attention. Your dog could be acting up due to a medical condition that can be treated. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting your dog the treatment, medications or attention he needs. On the other hand, certain medications could also be affecting your dog’s moods, and this too could be the source of aggression.  
  3. Change food and exercise regime. Just as eating healthy food and exercising helps improve moods in humans, the same may be true of your fury friend.
  4. Hire a qualified professional to help you retrain and coach and curb his aggressive habits. You can hire a personal trainer or look into classes in your area.
  5. Limit exposure to situations and people that trigger your dog’s aggressive tendencies. Although this is not a “cure,” helping to eliminate the potential for aggression is a step in the right direction. Whether your dog will act up is not always predictable, but if there are certain triggers you know are risky, try to avoid them whenever possible.

With more and more people bringing fury friends into their households, it is increasingly important to understand the symptoms and signs of aggression. So, learn your dog’s triggers, and be on your way to unleashing a more predictable, calm and collected Fido.  

Urine Exam

You can learn a lot about the health of your pet from his or her urine. This smelly yellow liquid provides a variety of clues that can help your veterinarian solve the mystery of your pet's health.

Like people, pets should have yellow urine that has a characteristic odor. Most pets develop a pattern and urinate with the same frequency each day.

Changes in frequency of urination, blood in the urine and pain during urination are common signs of infection and/or irritation. Most pet owners are very good at noticing these signs.

Your pet's urine can be collected at home or in the veterinary hospital. The 'free catch' method for collecting urine can be done at home. When walking your dog, slip a plastic bowl or container under his leg when he stops to urinate. To speed up the process, you can feed your dog several ice cubes before leaving for the walk. Free catch does not require intensive labor, money, or time, nor does it upset your pet. There are some disadvantages to the free catch method. The free catch method does not provide sterile urine and may be contaminated by bacteria from the environment. If the urine is not transported immediately to the hospital, some of the tests may yield inaccurate results.

Urine Collection Vial

Urine Collection Vial

Your veterinarian or a veterinary technician can obtain a fresh urine sample from your pet by catheterizing the bladder. This collection procedure requires the animal's cooperation and often requires sedation.

Once the urine is obtained, the first thing examined is the sediment. Sediment refers to the cells floating in the urine. An increased number of white blood cells signals inflammation and helps with the diagnosis of a bladder infection. With bladder infections, large numbers of bacteria may also be present.

Canine Urine Sediment

Urine Sediment of a Dog.
White Blood Cells and Bacteria are Shown

Due to the long length of the urethra, female dogs are more prone to urinary tract infections than male dogs. Diabetic animals have an increased amount of glucose in the urine, which may promote bacterial growth and cause infection.

Animals can form bladder stones due to a genetic condition, if urine flow is decreased or if the bladder wall is irritated. Stones can sometimes be seen on x-rays and they can often be located during ultrasound examination. Surgery is usually required to remove large bladder stones.

Bladder Stones

X-Ray Showing 2 Bladder Stones

Examination of the urine is also important for diagnosing kidney disease. The specific gravity (of the urine) compares the weight of urine to the weight of water, detecting functional problems with the kidneys. The specific gravity indicates how well the animal is concentrating its urine. If the specific gravity is low (approaching that of water), the kidneys may not be eliminating the body's waste products properly into the urine. Instead of eliminating the waste products into the urine, they accumulate in the blood stream and cause problems.

Various minerals can solidify in urine to form casts and crystals. The presence of calcium oxalate crystals, for example, can be found as a result of ethylene glycol (antifreeze) toxicity. Ammonium biurate crystals are red flags for liver disease. The most commonly found crystals are triple phosphate (magnesium ammonium phosphate) and can signify a bladder infection.

Urinary Cast

Various Urinary crystals (A) Calcium Oxalate Crystals (B) Uric Acid Crystals
(C) Triple Phosphate Crystals with Amorphous Phosphates (D) Cystine Crystals

The kidney is composed of a series of tubules that aid in making urine. Substances are either absorbed back into the body or excreted in the tubules as urine. If casts are found in the urine, this may indicate a problem with the tubules in the kidney. Casts are solid clumps of protein cells or red and white blood cells. These cells collect in the tubules and are shed sporadically. These casts have a tube-like shape and can be seen under a microscope.

Urinary Cast

Large Granular Urinary Cast

Urinary Cast

Red Cell Granular Cast and Numerous Erythrocytes.
Early Stages of Acute Kidney Disease

Urine is so much more than a waste product. Your pet's urine test means a lot for his or her health. It provides many interesting diagnostic clues that help determine what's going on inside your pet!