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Why Does My Cat Scratch on Things?

Cat-ScratchThere’s nothing worse than coming home to the surprise redecorating of your kitchen table’s legs or living room upholstery, courtesy of your cat’s scratching instinct.  That doesn’t necessarily mean your cat has some inexplicable scratch problem that most other cat owners don’t experience as well.  There are many reasons why a cat will scratch anything sturdy enough to take a beating.  Let’s examine this further. [Read more…]

5 Ways to Ease Pet Arthritis in the Winter

“Them bones, them bones…”

If you’re experiencing extended wintery weather like we are in North Texas this year, your pet’s arthritis may be causing more pain than usual. Just as with human arthritis, doctors do not know why the cold causes more pain.

Osteoarthritis appears as a pet gets older, the cartilage in the joints erodes and the bones come in contact with each other. The joints most likely to be affected are the weight bearing joints: those in the pelvis, knees, ankles and spine. Arthritis is a progressive disease without a cure, but often some of the pain can be alleviated. Treatment plans often include a healthy, reduced-calorie diet, therapeutic exercise, massage, and anti-inflammatory medications and/or supplements.

  • One of the best things you can do for your dog is to make sure you have him or her on a weight maintenance diet, since extra weight places a lot of extra pressure on the already stressed joints.
  • Gentle exercise can be helpful, such as short walks. Dog gyms or dog activity centers are opening up around the country.   Check the internet to look for ones in your area. Some have pet indoor swimming pools. This is great exercise for arthritic pets since it takes pressure off the joints.
  • There are some medications that may help your dog, depending on the severity of the arthritis. Your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid drugs to reduce inflammation. Dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can also provide pain relief.
  • Keeping your dog comfortable and warm by providing your dog with a well-padded bed in a warm indoor location or placing a heated blanket (make sure it’s pet safe) in his bed can make all the difference in his outlook. Clothing can also help. Wrap your dog in a specially designed dog sweater, or alter one of your old sweaters or sweatshirts to fit your dog.
  • Ask your vet about massage and alternative medicine.

Take good care of your pet’s bones and joints in cold weather, and make him/her happy.

Arthritis in Winter

Winter Fun!

Next Article: 5 Ways to Alieviate Loud Noise Anxiety

5 Safety Tips For Pets in Winter

Here in Texas we know that we are never far from the sun. But this year, Old Man Winter seems determined to stick around a lot longer than usual. So here are some things to keep in mind for pets in winter.

  • Animals are just as vulnerable to the effects of Hypothermia as humans are. If you have an outdoor dog or a roaming cat, it would be better to keep them indoors or in the garage during these sub-zero nights.
  • Speaking of garages, be aware of these two things: anti-freeze and carbon monoxide. If you have a car that needs anti-freeze in the winter, you must know that there are elements of anti-freeze that are lethal for pets. Wipe up all spills, whether in the garage or out on the driveway, and keep pets away from the car when you are adding the anti-freeze. If you warm up your car in the morning before going to work, make sure you do that with the garage door open or with the car in the driveway. Before you drive off, make sure your pets are not lingering around the car to keep warm. Some cats even may get into the engine, so look there, too.
  • The salt solution used to prep the streets and the salt/sand mixture you may use around your front porch and driveway are not good for your pets either. Wash their paws when they come indoors if they have been exposed to salt.
  • Rat and mouse poisons are used more frequently in winter, so be certain that these are placed far from your pets.
  • You can get booties and sweaters to keep your pets warm outside while you look forward to the sunshine of Spring!
pets in winter

Traci Easter’s furkid Pink enjoying the snow.

For more information about pets in winter go to 5 Deadliest Outdoor Dangers for Pets this Winter

Next Article: 5 Ways to Ease Pet Arthritis in the Winter

Exercising your pets? It depends…

Do you exercise on a regular basis? If you do, way to go! Physical fitness is essential for a long and healthy life, the same goes for exercising your pets. Even cats need exercise, especially now that obesity in domestic cats and dogs is on the rise. In a 2010 study on canine obesity, only 35% of dogs were considered to be “normal” weight. Of the remainder, 5% were underweight and a full 60% were classified as overweight or obese. The numbers for cats and humans are similar.” See the remarkable story of Skinny the 42 lb cat who lost… (more)

Exercising pets
It is a common misconception that since many animals are built to run, they can jump right into it. However, just like us, dogs and cats need to work up to being fit, where to start depends on fitness level. Before exercising your pets, take a trip to the vet where body condition and overall health will be assessed. Getting a medical OK can rule out hidden underlying conditions that may cause problems later. For instance, pets suffer from arthritis, they have joint and muscle aches just like humans. Plus, if they carry extra weight, like the 60% of the subjects in that study, it puts additional strain on their joints. Unfortunately, animals are very good at hiding pain and discomfort, it’s a survival instinct. So even a short run with stiff muscles may be too much but Fido can’t verbalize that. Get a medical check up then find an exercise routine that fits your level starting slowly and advancing with improvement.

Hiking is a popular exercise people do with their dogs. It’s a fabulous way for both of you to stay in shape but there are some things to consider before setting off in that direction with your pup:

With cooler weather on it’s way, you will be enjoying the outdoors exercising your pets. Let’s make the most of it for everyone’s benefit!

Next Article: 5 Safety Tips For Pets in Winter

FIV in cats, do you own an FIV+ cat?

My FIV+ kitty Thomas

My rescue kitty Thomas

I adopted my FIV positive cat named Thomas in 2008 when he became an orphan after the death of his owner. Thomas’ veterinarian agreed to take him in and find him a forever home. Or at least a foster in the mean time. Being an adult cat with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, finding him a home was going to be a challenge. Many FIV+ cats in this type of predicament are euthanized. Caring for an immune deficient cat involves a little more time and money than caring for a healthy cat. I’ve learned a lot about FIV in cats along the way.

So what symptoms does an FIV+ cat have? Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has an article which thoroughly covers the feline immunodeficiency virus:  “An infected cat’s health may deteriorate progressively or be characterized by recurrent illness interspersed with periods of relative health. Sometimes not appearing for years after infection, signs of immunodeficiency can appear anywhere throughout the body…”

Symptoms of FIV in cats (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus):

  • Diverse symptoms owing to the decreased ability to develop a normal immune response. Associated immunodeficiencies cannot be distinguished clinically from feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Recurrent minor illnesses, especially with upper respiratory and gastrointestinal signs
  • Mild to moderately enlarged lymph nodes
  • Inflammation of the gums of the mouth and/or the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth is seen in 25 percent to 50 percent of cases
  • Upper respiratory tract disease is seen in 30 percent of cases – inflammation of the nose; inflammation of the moist tissues of the eye; inflammation of the cornea (the clear part of the eye, located in the front of the eyeball); often associated with feline herpes virus and calicivirus infections
  • Eye disease – inflammation of the front part of the eye, including the iris; disease of the eye in which the pressure within the eye is increased (glaucoma)
  • Long-term (chronic) kidney insufficiency (see more)

Next Article :Exercising Your Pets

Reliable Pet Sitter Wanted?

If you have a reliable pet sitter, you probably did some of the following things to make sure you found one who is reliable and honest. Having the neighbor’s kid watch your pets and home is not good enough, you want a professional. For those who are in the market for a pet sitter, here are a few tips to help you pick the right one, a reliable professional.

First, and most importantly, is the reason to hire a reliable pet sitter. Professional pet sitting goes way beyond tending to your pets needs. The person in charge of taking care of your fur kids is also in charge of your home and every worldly possession you have. The average vacation is about 7 to 10 days long, that’s a week or  more of your home being mostly unattended. Unforeseen disasters can and do happen at any time, things like the electricity going out, pipes bursting, a fire, a break in… just to name a few. Professional pet sitters are equipped to deal with emergencies of all types, it’s essential to being reliable.

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) has created a thorough check list to help you pick the right pet sitter:

“Hiring a pet sitter is a serious process.  Make sure the person you choose is trained and professional.  He/she will not only be responsible for your pet, but also will have regular access to your home.” (read more)

The care of your pets involves working with your sitter as a team. Providing specific information about your pets and home will help the sit go smoothly. NAPPS provides a guideline to get the most out of your sitter.

“Once you’ve decided to hire a pet sitter, you’ll want to maximize the experience for you and your pet. The following pages list some simple guidelines that will ensure that that your get the most out of the relationship… Provide background on your pet’s history and habits…” (read more)

Part of a pet sitter’s job is to provide you with peace of mind while you are away. It’s worth the time to find the right one.

Next Article: Pet Dander

Reliable Pet Sitter

Walks are my favorite!

It’s a Pets’ Life, the Life of Luxury Pet Accessories

After my blog about luxury pet accessories a few days ago upon seeing an $18,000 Ralph Lauren pet carrier, it got me thinking about on what pet accessories, luxury or not, do people spend their money and why. Not the staples like food, veterinary care, regular accessories, dwellings (tanks, cages, etc…) I’m interested in expenses like flamboyant grooming, boarding, training, pet sitting, and extra items like jewel encrusted collars, all leather carriers and pricey diets. Surveys by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) show that Americans spent more on their pets in 2011 than in 2012, and data for 2013 project that figure to increase. At the same time, we spent less on ourselves because of a recessed economy. Is it because the cost of pet care has increased? Maybe, but probably not any more than the cost of human care. So, what do we buy for our pets above and beyond the basics?

The first thing that comes to my mind is more expensive food. The last several years there has been a trend towards better quality, more nutritious pet diets. A positive trend but with which comes a higher price compared to the store bought stuff that was pretty much the standard pet diet for many years. Now we have “designer” brands of foods mimicking those of our fur kids’ wilder cousins. Why do we continue to buy the more expensive cuisine for our pets but cut back spending on our own groceries? (I know I have!) Perhaps we have a strong need to nurture and “baby” what we see as a helpless creature relying on us for survival. On the whole, we are more attentive to the needs of something under our care that lacks self sufficiency. Even in better economic times, many are apt to cut back on their own expenses for the sole purpose of spending more on their kids.

I’m on board with higher quality pet food and don’t mind paying a little more for it. A high priced carrier for my cat Thomas, however, is not in either of our budgets. His current ride to the vet is an inexpensive pet store special that serves its purpose well. Besides, jewel encrusted or not, Thomas hates to get in his carrier at home but hates to get out of it at the vet.

Another relatively recent trend is taking your pet to a veterinary specialist. In the not too distant past, DVMs were “Jacks of all trades” regarding the veterinary discipline. As the knowledge base grew, branching out into specialties became a natural outcome. There are veterinary clinics all over the nation specializing in internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, dermatology, ophthalmology, oncology including radiation therapy, dentistry including orthodontics. Eastern and alternative disciplines such as holistic medicine, acupuncture, laser therapy, chiropractic and even massage therapy are also becoming more common albeit slower than that of traditional Western veterinary medicine. These days specialized medicine isn’t so much a luxury as it is a choice that costs more. Thomas has needed the care of veterinary specialists in the past, a dermatologist for benign cysts in his ears and, most recently, an ophthalmologist for a pretty severe eye infection. All is well now but as for getting a massage, kitty will have to settle for an occasional chin rub and fur brushing. In between naps of course.

Then we come to the decadent luxuries, the absurdly unneeded, the Bling! Choose from matching diamond studded collar-leash sets, fancy dog bakeries with overpriced treats, doggie spas and of course $18,000 pet carriers, it’s all out there. I, however, choose to stick to the plastic and mesh sided, faux denim topped cat carrier with which Thomas has a love-hate relationship.

No Bling Cat Transporter

No Bling Cat Transporter

Next Topic: Pets and The 4th of July

You paid HOW much for that luxury puppy purse?

As I google “luxury pet accessories” I’m thinking of $2000 designer puppy purses and expensive jewel encrusted collars. Ralph Lauren pops up as the second listing… *click* Ah yes, the $1950 puppy carrier, a couple overpriced leather collars and another carrier for $1800… No, wait… that’s $18,000! My jaw dropped.

Americans are spending more than ever on their pets in spite of a recession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we spent over 50 billion on our pets in 2011. That number is steadily rising and the American Pet Products Association estimates we will spend about $55.5 billion this year. Big numbers so let’s add a little perspective… that’s more than we spend on coffee and bottled water combined! Americans love coffee but we love our pets even more. There probably is a personal coffee maker for eighteen grand available somewhere but something tells me an $18,000 puppy purse is easier to find.

What is your “pet” guilty pleasure? Expensive food? Luxury dog bed? Designer cat collar? Whatever it is we do for our fur companions, it’s worth it!

luxury

Happy Dog

Next Topic: Spending On Pets

Is Your Pet Included In Your Disaster Preparedness Plan?

Disaster Preparedness

First Aid for pets

Having a back up for our pets during a disaster will save time and heartache if anything horrible were to ever happen. This blog will be a guest post from Dr. Brittany Barton of HEAL Veterinary Clinic in Dallas, TX. Her blog, Pet Pause With Dr. B, has a wonderfully worded, easy to read post on disaster preparedness and pets which also contains an extensive list of everything you need to protect your beloved pets as you would your human family (see below)

The recent devastating tornado activity in Oklahoma may have you scrambling to create a Disaster Plan for your family….but wait, what about your pets? Dr. Barton goes on to advise:

All of your pets should have collars with identification information, including your cell phone number and a back-up number of someone who lives outside of your area. But DON’T rely solely on this.  Approximately 60% of lost pets are found without their collar present.  Permanent identification is imperative in pets. Pet microchipping is an invaluable identification tool.  Members are able to list contact information, emergency secondary contact information and veterinary hospital information for each of their pets.  You can even list chronic medical conditions in the event your pet needs regular medication or special considerations.
Remember: If you move or any of your pet’s important information changes, you need to update the information with the microchip database. (This is simply done on-line)

Next Topic: Luxury Pet Accessories

Are you reading ALL Pet Food ingredients?

Lately we’ve heard a lot about looking at what is in pet food with an emphasis on protein being the first ingredient. While it’s true that protein should make up a large portion of our pets’ diets, there are many more factors involved in providing optimal and species appropriate nutrition. There are different forms of protein and not all of them are easily metabolized. According to Dr. Karen Becker from Mercola.com, “By-products are what are left after all the good stuff is harvested for the human food industry. Beaks, feet, feathers, wattles and combs are chicken by-products. There could be something beneficial thrown in, like the heart or gizzard, but because there’s such potential for undesirable pieces and parts in ‘by-products,’ it’s better to avoid them altogether.”

Grains like corn, rice and wheat are often seen in pet food in large amounts. These carbohydrates come in different forms, gluten meal, whole grain, flour, etc… Rice often comes in the form of brewers rice. Grain in any form is not a species specific ingredient essential for carnivorous diets, additionally corn is highly allergenic. No grain should be the main ingredient in your pet food.  Dogs are somewhat omnivorous so a small amount of fruit and vegetables make up a part of their balanced diet. However cats are obligatory carnivores, high carbohydrate pet food diets lead to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease and irritable bowl syndrome. Grain free diets are much more appropriate for both cats and dogs, see more here for a comparison between a high quality and a low quality diet. Often a raw is recommended as the best pet food for dogs and cats but it is very important to feed a balanced raw diet. Research and consulting a holistic veterinarian will help you decide what is right for your pets.

Our pets are what we feed them, we have an obligation to educate ourselves and provide them with a high quality diet so they can live a long and happy life!

Next Topic: Dog DNA