Dangerous to pets

Easter Lilies are dangerous to catsMany everyday things that look innocent and are perfectly safe for humans can pose a threat to pets. Easter lilies, for instance, can poison a cat just from the cat rubbing up against a vase, getting spores on the coat, and licking them off.

Here is a list with five categories that should be kept out of reach at all times.

Prescription medications

This includes anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, antidepressants, and more. A safe course of action is to assume all medications are dangerous to pets unless specifically prescribed to the pet. This includes items you can buy at the grocery store, like Tylenol. If your pet needs a medication, check with your vet, or at least look the substances up on pet poison helpline.

Insecticides

Most people keep bug poisons, rat poison, ant traps, and similar out of reach for their pets, but also make sure to be careful with flea and tick products. Pay close attention to dosage and never apply a product intended for a dog on a cat. Dogs and cats are very different and their products have different compositions. A dosage appropriate for a dog can be dangerous to a cat, even if the pets are of the same weight.

Household products

This is a wide but important category. Laundry detergent, laundry pods, soap, fertilizer, lawn products, and other cleaning products should all be stored out of reach of pets and children. Be particularly careful with pods filled with detergent – they often look like toys or candy, and cause accidents with children, dogs, and cats every year.

People food

We eat many things that pets can taste, but other things are toxic to cats and dogs. Some items to never give a pet include chocolate, alcohol, xylitol, grapes, raisins, and macadamia nuts.

Plants

Many pets aren’t inclined to eat plants at all, but others are all too happy to munch down on greenery and things on the ground. This naturally goes for whatever they find in neighboring yards and along walks, and not just in your own yard. Examples of toxic plants include sago palms, bulbs of tulips, daffodils, and similar, azaleas, easter lilies, and rhododendrons.

What to do

If you think your pet has eaten something toxic, call your vet at once. The sooner your pet gets the appropriate treatment, the better.

Dogs can be affected by dementia

A dog’s brain is a lot like a human’s, and unfortunately this means that the same problems that affect the human brain can affect dogs. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is the canine equivalent of Alzheimer’s, and around half of all dogs over the age of ten will exhibit symptoms.

Don’t panic – not all aging dogs will get the disease, and those who do get different symptoms than humans. You can also help decrease the risk through providing a healthy diet, mental stimulation, physical exercise, and plenty of human contact.

Dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome may appeared disoriented in everyday situations. They may appear lost in the house or the yard, get stuck behind furniture, or have difficulty finding the door. These problems can also be caused by hearing loss or loss of vision.

Other symptoms include sleeping more overall but less at night, and an increase in pacing back and forth. Some dogs become clingy and want human contact around the clock, while other leek less attention and walk away from their humans.  These behaviors can also be attributed to physical changes, so if your dog displays them, see a vet to get a proper diagnosis.

If your dog gets the diagnosis, there is a drug used to battle Parkinson’s disease in humans that can improve symptoms and give the dog a better quality of life.

Therapy dogs in nursing homes

The Volpino Italiano needs a medium Plexidor dog doorA nursing home is a place for a person who needs more care around the clock than can be reasonably given at home, but who doesn’t need to be in a hospital. Many nursing homes strive for a home-like environment. Some allow residents to bring their pets, but this isn’t always possible, and many nursing homes around the USA have opened their doors to therapy dogs who come visit on a regular basis.

Dogs have an instinctive way of knowing when they are needed, and a visit from a dog can calm and soothe someone, or lift the spirits of a person who is sad and lonely. The dogs provide a physical touch and many love the feeling of soft fur. They also bring warmth, joy, and a patient ear that will always listen.

Some believe only a certain breed can become a therapy dog, or that they are raised for this purpose as puppies. Therapy dogs come in all breeds and sizes, and many are rescue dogs.

If you’re interested in doing therapy work with your dog, start by training some basic obedience, and bring your dog to many different environments so he or she gets used to noises and people. Then, find a therapy-dog organization in your area. Many states have animal-assisted therapy organizations that offer training programs.

To become a certified therapy dog, a trainer will evaluate you and your dog and suggest courses to take. Then, you’re ready to volunteer. Many organizations will help you find volunteer opportunities. Here is a list that can help you get started.

Be careful with antifreeze

At this time a year pet owners need to watch out for antifreeze spills. Antifreeze for cars is based on ethylene glycol, which is quite toxic and leads to many pet deaths every year. If a pet laps it up and isn’t treated immediately, severe damage to kidneys and nervous system will follow.

In the past all antifreeze solutions had a sweet smell and taste, nowadays some manufacturers have changed the formula to make them less appealing to pets, and some manufacturers make “pet safe” antifreeze. Using the pet safe products helps – they are less toxic than traditional products, but can still be dangerous.

If you see a puddle on the ground when you’re walking your dog, don’t let your pet drink from it or walk through it. If it gets on the paws, odds are the pet will lick it off later to clean itself.

Keep this type of product off the ground and out of reach for pets. If there’s a spill, clean it immediately and rinse the area with lots of water.

If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze – even a small amount – call your veterinarian or the closest pet ER at once.

Subtle signs of illness in cats

Cats are masters at disguising any illness. This seems counterproductive to us – we can only help the cat if we know something is wrong – but to the cat, showing illness equals showing weakness. 

The sooner a problem is detected the better and faster it can be treated, and it is important for cat owners to keep an eye for any subtle changes in behavior. And, if your cat suddenly starts acting “weird” it’s time for a trip to the vet.

Here are some of the most common – but subtle – signs of illness in cats:

Unexplained weight loss or gain

Since you see your cat every day it can be hard to notice weight loss or weight gain. It’s a good idea to weigh your cat once a month, or take monthly photos to compare.

Many cats are finicky eaters, and it can be difficult to keep track of consumption of food and water. Measuring the cat’s food helps. You also want to keep an eye on how your furry friend eats – if your cat has always been neat and suddenly starts eating in a messy fashion there might be a problem with their teeth.

Changes in behavior with others

If your cat has enjoyed playing with other cats regularly and starts avoiding them, something is most likely wrong. It can be a health problem, or stress. The other way around can also be true – if your cat has always been private and a loner and suddenly starts seeking attention, something might be wrong.

If your cat suddenly slows down from being energetic, or drastically increases activity, it’s a good idea to visit the vet. Sudden increases in activity in older cat can be a result of a thyroid problem.

Altered habits

If your cat suddenly changes their sleeping pattern or grooming habits, it’s time to see the vet. Also watch for a change in the cat’s voice and smell. Be particularly alert for foul breath.

Kittens

Dog food allergies

Allergies are fairly common both amongst humans and dogs, and just like a human, a dog can develop an allergy at any age. The most common dog allergy is against flea bites, and the second most common is inhaling allergens such as pollen or molds. Dog food allergies come in on a close third place.

In order to develop a food allergy, a dog must be exposed to the same food ingredient for a couple of years or more. Most dogs are between two and six years old when food allergies are first noticed.

What causes food allergy?

An allergy is caused by the immune system responding to something it believes is foreign. It is a defense mechanism that would normally protect the body, but instead causes an over-reaction to harmless substances met in everyday life.

When it comes to dogs and food the immune system most often reacts to a protein, and the most common triggers are beef, milk and other dairy products, chicken, eggs, soy, corn, and wheat.

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

Symptoms of food allergy include excessive scratching and itchy skin. A dog with a food allergy can scratch until they lose all hair in an area, and the skin is often red and irritated. This is particularly common on the ears, groin, and belly. Some dogs with food allergies lick or chew on their paws, get repeated ear infections, and/or rashes. Stomach problems are also often connected to food allergies.

How do you treat a food allergy?

To treat a food allergy, the dog needs to stay away from eating the problematic ingredient. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find the problematic ingredient. The idea is to eliminate potential causes of the problem through feeding the dog something completely different from what he or she has eaten in the past. The new food – and nothing but the new food – has to be fed for two to three months to give enough time for the method to work. This means no treats or tastes of human foods, which can be frustrating for both dog and human.

Once the dog is symptom free, one ingredient can be added back at a time to see if the immune system reacts.

 

 

Five New Year’s Resolutions for your pets

A Coton de Tulear needs a medium PlexiDor dog doorMany use the new year holiday to reflect on the year that has passed, and to look forward on what they want to change. Top new year’s resolutions for humans often include to exercise more, lose weight, and stop smoking. The new year can be a fresh start for your pets too. Here are five ideas for New Year’s Resolutions for your pet.

1. Measure your pet’s food. Every time

Over half of pets living in the USA are overweight. Measure your pet’s  food every meal to make sure you’re not overfeeding your furry friends. Keeping a healthy weight can decrease the risk of serious diseases and increase the pet’s life span.

2. Do something new together

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Try something new – go hiking, take your dog to dogs, or try a dog sport. This is fun, a great way to bond, gives your pet important socialization, and you both get some exercise.

3. Groom your pet and brush their teeth

A daily session does more than help your pet look great – it builds the bond between you. Brushing your pet can help alleviate your stress, and show him or her that you love them. Brushing teeth can be more of an ordeal until you both get used to it, but keeping pets’ teeth clean is important to their overall health. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste meant for pets.

4. Teach your dog some new tricks

Mental stimulation helps keep your pets healthy and happy. Practice tricks your dog already knows, and learn something new. Puzzle feeders and toys are also great to help keep your pet entertained and alert.

5. Check your pet’s tags and microchip information

When something changes – be it a phone number, an address, or even your name – there’s a lot to think about, and the pet’s information is often forgotten. If any of your information has changed, update your pet’s tags and microchip information.

Sunshine story: dog gets 3D printed legs

Derby the dog was born with deformed and disabled front legs, and would get around through dragging himself with the small forearms. His foster family got him a wheelchair, and while that worked well, they felt that he could get something even better. Thanks to technology and the new 3D printing technology, Derby got a Christmas miracle and is now able to run on newly created legs.

3D printers have been used to make cost efficient limbs for humans, but Derby is the first animal to get 3D printed prosthetics. The materials and tools that are developed for humans don’t always work on animals. It is, for example, easy to scan a person’s leg to fit a prosthetic, but not as easy to scan a dog’s. The company making the leg molded a cast of fiberglass and scanned that into the printing system.

Another problem is teaching the pet to use the prosthetic, and as you can see from the video, Derby has succeeded quite well – and he is becoming an Internet phenomenon.

//youtu.be/uRmoowIN8aY

 

 

 

Holiday decoration safety tips for pets

Puppy santaHoliday decorations are a big part of the season, and lights and cheerful colors spread joy in the winter darkness. Everything new in the house brings new dangers to pets as well, and here are some safety tips for little things that can make a big difference.

The tree

Whether you use an artificial tree or a reason, make sure it’s securely anchored so your pets can’t knock it over. Especially cats are tempted to climb into the tree. Also clean up any tree needles regularly – they’re sharp and can get stuck in your pet’s throat or paws.

Tinsel

Pets love to play with and eat tinsel and ribbons. These can cause a lot of damage if swallowed, and even require surgery. Keep tinsel and ribbons off the floor.

Baubles

Many pets, particularly cats, see baubles as irresistible play things. Try to use decorations that won’t shatter if they hit the floor, and that aren’t too small. You don’t want your pet to accidentally swallow a decoration.

Power cords

Protect cords so your pet can’t play with them or chew on them.

New house plants

Many of the season’s house plants are poisonous. Most people think the poinsettia is very dangerous, but it is only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. Pets shouldn’t be encouraged to eat it of course, but the poinsettia’s reputation is quite exaggerated. Mistletoe, rosemary, and holly can be dangerous to cats and dogs. Keep them out of reach, and contact a veterinarian if you think your pet has ingested any type of holly.

What is flyball?

If you have an energetic dog that loves balls, Flyball might be an ideal sport. It’s a team sport, and a form of controlled chaos that involves a lot of running and jumping. The dog needs to be able to focus around distractions and in good enough shape to run and jump.

Flyball is played in teams with four dogs in each team. One end of the course holds a starting line, and the other a specialized box where the dog will release and catch a tennis ball that is to be carried back to the starting line. In between are four jumps.

Each dog in the team must complete the course. That is, run over the jumps, trigger the box to release a ball, catch the ball, and return with it, going over all four jumps. The next dog in line can’t cross the line before the dog currently on the course returns. If a dog would run on the side of a jump, or return without the ball, he or she must run the course again.

The height of the jumps are based on the team’s shortest dog, so everyone wants to have a small dog on the team.

Flyball is one of the most athletic dog sports. At a flyball tournament, a team might run between 18 and 24 heats in a day. Add in reruns for starting too early, missing a jump, or some other error, and a dog can easily run 40 times during a weekend.

To start training, your dog needs to get used to noisy and busy places. At a competition there will be dogs running around, barking, people running back and forth, balls, and other distractions. Train to stay calm around distractions, and train recall with distractions.

You can also train jumping, chasing you, tugging, and building the dog’s general strength through swimming and jogging.

Search for a club and classes in your area. This is a great sport with a lot of fun, and an opportunity for both humans and dogs to make friends.

 

Pet feeding tips for Thanksgiving

contestThis is a great season for family get-togethers, and everyone enjoys the Thanksgiving dinner table. Make sure the holiday flows smoothly and safely for the pets too with our handy tips.

Dogs and cats can nibble on some boneless and well cooked turkey. They shouldn’t have raw turkey, undercooked turkey, skin, or bones. It is also okay to share some unsalted and unbuttered vegetables.

Dogs and cats cannot eat onions, garlic, leeks, or scallions. They also shouldn’t have grapes or raisins.

A taste of mashed potatoes is fine. Just consider that mashed potatoes can contain other ingredients than just potatoes. If your pet is lactose intolerant, cheese, butter, and milk in mashed potatoes can cause problems.

A taste of macaroni and cheese is also fine, if your pet can handle dairy.

Cranberry sauce is fine for pets, but there can be a lot of sugar in it, so limit the amount.

Some other things to watch out for are xylitol, sage (common in stuffing), and raw bread dough. The bread dough seems harmless, but it will continue to expand when eaten, and this can be very dangerous

Do you brush your dog’s teeth?

Cats and dogs are just as susceptible to teeth problems as humans, and problems with teeth can lead to other health issues.  Luckily, you can prevent toothaches and tartar.

Some of the most common warning signs for tooth and gum problems include:

  • Bad breath
  • Sensitive mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Deposits on the teeth
  • Inflamed, bleeding, or withdrawn gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Problems chewing

You can teach your dog or cat to let your brush its teeth at any age, but it will be easier the earlier you start. Always give plenty of praise and rewards.

Start by wrapping some gauze around your finger and rub your pet’s teeth with this. This will help your pet get used to the brushing process.

Show  your pet a dog or cat toothbrush and let them get used to the brush. There are specially designed toothbrushes and toothpaste – don’t use human toothpaste.

Focus on the gumline, and make a routine of brushing at least a few times per week. Every day is the best.

Make your own dog cookies

This is a baking time a year for many, and holidays line up. It’s tempting to give the pets some of our treats, but human foods and cookies aren’t all that good for them. Better to make them something of their own.

To make this recipe, you need:
2 cups wheat germ
3 jars of chicken baby food (check so it doesn’t have onion)
1 tbsp water

To make the cookies, you need to strain the baby food and mix it with wheat germ and water. Make balls of the dough, flatten the balls with a fork, and bake in 350 F in 20-25 minutes.

Super easy, and dogs love them!

 

Are there hypoallergenic cats?

Russian Blue
The Russian Blue produces little allergens

Many believe that a cat or dog breed being hypoallergenic means they can’t cause allergies. That’s not entirely accurate – hypoallergenic means that something has a smaller risk of causing allergies, but it can still happen. There are no non-allergenic cats or dogs, but there are hypoallergenic cats breeds.

Many also believe that allergies are connected to the cat’s coat, but that’s not always the case either. Most people are allergic against proteins from the cat’s skin oils and saliva. These proteins are in turn distributed on shed fur. This means that some cat breeds – with fur – are gentler for persons with allergies than others.

The Balinese is a good example. These cats are sometimes called the “longhaired Siamese,” but despite their coat they produce little of the protein that causes allergies. This is also true for the Russian Blue and the heavily coated Siberian.

Bengals certainly aren’t hairless, and they produce just as much of the protein as many other breeds, but their coat is so fine that they don’t have to groom themselves as much as other cats. That means their hair carries less of the protein. Another upside of the Bengal is that they shed little, so what allergens are present won’t be spread around as much as with other breeds.

Cornish Rex is another breed that works well for many with allergies. They’re not entirely hairless, but they only have an undercoat. Since they’re less hairy than other breeds they also shed less, and cause less allergies.

The Sphynx cat is completely hairless. They have no fur that can trap allergens and shed around the house, and the allergy-causing substances stick to the cat.

Keep Halloween candy away from the dog

Joy!Halloween is just a week away, and while dogs may dress up and go trick or treating, we have to be cautious with what we feed them. Many children want to share, and this is a kind side that should be rewarded, but pets should not eat human candy – or decorations. 

If you will have plenty of candy and/or children in your house, or take your dog trick or treating, it’s a good idea to bring some safe dog treats.

The four most common hazards around Halloween are:

1. Chocolate

By now most people know that chocolate is dangerous to pets. It holds a strong allure and many dogs will go to great lengths to get to chocolate, so keep it safely out of reach.

2. Overindulging in treats and candy

Human candy in general isn’t good for pets – it contains too much sugar and artificial substances. Sugar-free candies often contain Xylitol, which is potentially lethal to pets.

3. Raisins

Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. Treat raisins like chocolate and keep them in a safe place.

4. Wrappers

Wrappers smell and taste like candy. Eating cellophane and foil can obstruct the bowel and require surgery. Get rid of all wrappers at once so they don’t pose a temptation.

 

Five common mistakes amongst dog owners

There are many health benefits to petsDogs and humans are so different, and even though we want our dogs to be happy, there are some common mistakes that are stressful for dogs. Small changes can have a big impact on the dog’s well being, and in the long run make the whole family happier.

1. Dogs need exercise

Most people have crammed schedules and it can be hard to find the time and energy to exercise the dog. It’s wise to choose a dog breed with energy needs that fit your lifestyle, but even breeds that are mostly inactive and content with being indoors need some exercise.

Letting the dog into the yard isn’t enough. Take your furry friend for a daily walk, or play ball together. There are many ways to make sure your dog gets sufficient exercise, and you can have fun while doing it together.

2. Don’t take your dog’s food bowl away while their eating

Many people think they need to take the dog’s food away in the middle of each meal, or take the toy the dog is playing with. If your dog is properly raised and socialized he will share food and toys with you if needed, and you don’t have to keep taking it away to prove the point. Your dog won’t understand why you keep taking it, and there’s a big risk he will end up stressed, anxious, and even aggressive from knowing the food will disappear.

3. Crates are not meant for punishment

A crate can be a great training tool and your dog’s sanctuary. It needs to be a safe place where your dog can rest and feel secure. Many owners use the crate for time-outs when the dog has done something wrong, but dogs don’t understand that. Using the crate for punishment won’t solve the problem with whatever the dog did wrong, and it can ruin the dog’s safe place.

4. Teach your dog what’s right instead of yelling

It’s human to raise one’s voice when someone doesn’t listen, but it doesn’t work on dogs. If your dog doesn’t have basic training, he won’t understand to come to you because you shout louder. Watch yourself during a day – if you yell a lot at your dog, you might need to take him to doggie school, or at least look over your methods of training. Make a point of rewarding the right behavior instead of scolding the wrong.

5. Is your dog alone too much?

Dogs are social, and many dog owners work more than eight hours a day or travel a lot. If you have a dog it’s important to fit in time for exercise and play. If you can’t do it yourself, consider finding a dog walker or daycare. If your dog is alone to much they’ll be sad, stressed, and unhealthy.

Did your dog eat something he shouldn’t?

There are many stories about dogs eating everything from stuffed toys to gravel. Some dogs never get into trouble, and others eat everything they can get a hold of. If your best friend falls into the latter category it’s wise to dog-proof your home. If doggie can’t get to something, he won’t eat it.

If your dog still manages to eat the remote control or something from the laundry pile, go see a vet. If your normal vet is closed, call the nearest emergency animal clinic and tell them what happened. Some objects will pass on their own, but others can create great damage.

Many pet owners are tempted to wait and hope for the best – even if the dog ate something toxic – but it’s not a wise course of action. Call a veterinarian. The more time that passes, the costlier it will be to fix the problem – and the more dangerous to your pet.

Common signs that your dog ate something he shouldn’t have include vomiting, gagging, stomach pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, changes in bowels, and changes in behavior.

 

Maintain the litter box

maine coon catCats are naturally clean and hate dirty, stinky litter boxes. If the box isn’t squeaky clean, your kitty might search for a substitute, and whether that’s a corner of the carpet or a basket of clean clothes, you don’t want it to happen.

If the litter box is squeaky clean and your cat still avoids it, consider seeing a vet – it might be a sign of a physical problem.

The box itself

Some cats are picky about the box itself. It needs to be large enough to scratch, dig, and turn around in – and it has to be easy to get in and out. Many cats don’t like covered litter boxes, because they trap the smell. Cats have 14 times the sense of scent we do, and they don’t want to smell their own waste any more than we do.

Many cats get along fine with automatic litter boxes, but others don’t like them at all. In that case, a large plastic box scooped manually a couple of days is the best choice, even though it requires work.

A box for each cat

Many multi-cat households only have one box, and this can also lead to problems. A rule of thumb is one box for each cat, and maybe one extra. It’s okay to have the boxes side by side.

The litter

Some people like to use a liner in the box. That’s a personal preference – the cats usually don’t care. Most litter manufacturers recommend using 2″ to 3″ of litter, but if you have a deep scratcher you might want to use up to 4″. It’s easiest to use clumping litter, because it’s easy to scoop.

Pick a scoop that fits your litter – large particle litter requires larger holes to sift the clean litter out, while fine-grained litter needs smaller holes.

The box should be scooped at least twice a day.

Clean the box

Regular scooping and replacing the litter will keep the box clean and smelling fresh for quite a while, but eventually you’ll need to empty it and clean it. Depending on the type of litter you use this might need to be done weekly, or monthly. If you don’t like the smell, you cats won’t like it either.

Wash the empty box thoroughly with hot water and detergent. Rinse well and spray with a mild bleach solution. Make sure you don’t use a cleaner with ammonia, because this smells a little like a cat’s pee, and might make them avoid the box.

Did you know there’s a rattlesnake vaccine for dogs?

Every year, around 300,000 dogs and cats are bitten by venomous snakes in the USA. While many dog owners may know they live in an area with rattlesnakes, they might not know there’s a vaccine available for dogs.

The vaccine has been developed to provide protection against the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake’s venom. While it is most effective against bites from this particular snake, it also gives some protection against similar venoms through generating protective antibodies that can neutralize the venom.

Dogs with the antibodies experience less pain and have less risk of permanent injury from a bite. Vaccinated dogs typically have less swelling, less tissue damage, and recover quicker. If the dog is bit it should still see a veterinarian.

How often the dog should be vaccinated depends on how big the risk is, how big the dog is, and other factors.

If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake or other snake, it is always an emergency. Even a vaccinated dog needs to see a veterinarian for evaluation – the dose of venom can be more than the immunity from the vaccine can handle. Bites from non venomous snakes are also serious, because they can lead to infections, and the dog might need antibiotics. If your dog is bit by a snake, time is of the essence. Go see at vet at once.

To learn more about rattlesnake vaccine, click here to visit Red Rock Biologics.

Science shows how much we love our pets

People love their pets. Coming home to the waiting cat or dog can be the highlight of the day, and many experience separation anxiety if they have to leave their pet for an extended period of time. A new study shows there is a biological explanation to our connection to pets.

The study compared MRI scans of brains of mothers looking at images of their dogs and images of their own children. Both types of images activate the same areas of the brain – with two differences: the photo of the child activated a region associated with forming bonds while the photo of the dog activated an area associated with facial recognition.

The next step will be to replicate the experience with men and women without children.

It is too early to conclude exactly what this means, but we already know pets are good for physical, emotional, and psychological well being. Many studies show pet owners live longer, have lower blood pressure, and get other physical advantages to non pet owners.

There are many health benefits to pets