Friday, December 11, 2009

Canine History

Miacis, is described as a weasel sized small carnivore that lived 40 million years back in the Eocene period. This animal is believed to be the oldest ancestor of present day dogs. They were forest dwellers, smaller in size with long tail and short limbs.

Cynidictus was the next to evolve and the evolution of Hesperocyan is thought to be next stage. There are two views on the development of Miocene period was followed by Tomarectus of Pliocene period and then the present day canids. But there is another view that Hesperocyan and then Leptocyan may be the ancestors of dogs or even Tomarectus. The immediate wild ancestors of the dogs are more or less accepted as wolves (Canis lupus). But there are other views like the possibility of mixing of jackal and wolves, which lacks fossil evidence. The production of fertile offspring from the mating of wolf and dogs supports wolfian ancestry for dogs. Moreover the dog breed Alsatian has lot of similarities with wolf. Dogs belong to the class Mammalia, sub class Metatheria, Order Carnivora, Family Canidae, Genus Canis and species familaris.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dog Dental Health

Dental health is very important for the general health of the dog. The health of the dog depends very much on what it eats. The eating nutritious food is possible only when the dog dental health is at its peak.

Plaques are the one that gets formed in the teeth between the brushings. Plaque is nothing but the mixture of saliva, food particles and bacteria. The plaque will be very soft at the beginning and it slowly gets hardened. The color too changes to brown when it has hardened. The hardened plaque is called tartar. As more and more plaques are formed, they spread to the gum, thus carrying the infection to gum.

Tooth brushing is the easy and simply the best in removing the plaque and also in preventing the formation of the plaque. The dog’s teeth must be brushed regularly. There are special tooth brushes available for the dogs. The veterinarian will guide you how to brush the dog. In case brushing the dog’s teeth is not possible, then you can think of using the chews that rubs the sides of the dog’s teeth.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Old Soul

Cats are now living longer than ever with the average age being between 11 and 15 years (may be shorter for pedigrees). It is no longer unusual to find cats in their 20’s and even some reaching their 30’s. In human terms a cat ages 24 human years in its first 2 years and then 4 years every year thereafter. Therefore a 15 year old cat would be 24 + 52 (13x4) = 76 years in human terms. Old age cats, suffer various illnesses. Old age can also bring along aching bones, arthritis, kidney and liver failure, thyroid problems and cancer. An elderly cat should be blood tested once a year as many medical issues can be managed in the older cat if they are found in the early stages. Unfortunately, for example in the case of kidney failure - the kidneys can be 80% damaged before the owner notices anything is wrong. His teeth will also need checking!

If you have an older cat, you must make allowances, as you would for a human. It may feel warm enough to you, but for an old thin cat he may well seek out the heat of your lap.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Timid Tomcat Continued…

If you have a particularly timid cat, or if there are other pets in the house try putting one room aside to work with the timid cat. Set this up with its own bed, toys, litter tray, food, and a cardboard box as a safe haven. Do not place the litter tray near the bed or food. The cat is likely to be in here for a while, maybe even a few weeks, so make it comfortable. Leave the cat carrier in the same room as the cat. Place the box in a quiet corner, facing the opening into the wall. Cats feel more secure in a small dark environment. Also if you leave the carrier out the cat will not be as fearful of it should you need to take it to the vet. It is quite normal that when you get a shy timid cat back home it will become even more introvert. It is important at this stage to allow the cat to come to terms with its new environment at its own pace. Never attempt to drag the cat out from wherever it has taken refuge.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Timid Tomcat

We all hope that our cat will be the loveable little soul that will want to sit on our lap for hours and have endless cuddles, but some of them are just not like that. The most important time in a cat’s life is the first 8 weeks. Any experiences in these first few weeks will form their characters. Bare this in mind if you want to ensure a loveable pet: Hand feeding is the quickest and easiest way to gain a cats trust. If proving particularly difficult use tuna, ham or prawns to get started with and then feed her normal cat food. As she becomes more confident move the food further away so she has to come towards you to get her reward. This method can also be used with cats that will not sit on your lap. Sitting on the floor at her level, offer her the food - then bit by bit start to move the food a little further over each time, so she has to put one paw on your leg.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Agro Kitty

Pain Related Aggression - First and foremost you must see a vet. If your cat has suddenly become aggressive for what appears to be no reason at all then you must first rule out any medical problems. An abscess or wound from a fight may not be visible to us but can cause the cat extreme pain. There could be any number of reasons why a cat is in pain so you MUST get the cat checked by a vet first to rule out any medical reason before looking at the situation from a behavioural point of view.
Fear Related Aggression - the period from 2- 8 weeks of age in a kitten’s life is very important. They should be handled for at least one hour a day and should see at least 8 different people during this period. They should then grow up to be comfortable with being handled by humans. Kittens that are not well socialised learn to fear humans and will be defensively aggressive towards us. Kittens soon learn that if they hiss and spit then we back off - in the end the behaviour is done automatically as soon as a human approaches.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ingredients to look for/avoid in canned cat food

A cat needs several ingredients for their basic health. Cats need protein from an animal source, preferably chicken or fish or lean beef. A canned cat food should also have taurine, an essential amino acid. Cats also need a balance of vitamins, enzymes, fatty acids, minerals and enzymes. A canned food should not have corn, soy, colorings or artificial flavors. It also should have only 5- to 8% ash and a low grain content. Avoid foods with ingredients such as "bone-meal", added sugars or any kind of corn meal. Chemical preservatives such as ethoxyquin, propyl gallate, BHA and BHT or more than 8% grain are definitely bad for your cat. The best cat food contains at least 78% moisture. This helps your cat get the hydration it needs because a cat ingests moisture through the intestine. Some preservatives are necessary in canned cat food. However, the more natural the preservative, the better. Many natural cat food formulas use vitamin E as a preservative. Canned cat food should still be refrigerated and used within 3 days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NO-Bark Collars

A safer method than a barking problem in a dog is training. Most dogs bark because they are anxious, especially small dogs. Shocking them when they bark is not going to resolve the anxiety. In fact, it will make it worse. Thus, you may eventually stop the barking, but you have not helped the underlying problem. Those anxious feelings will show themselves in other ways such as chewing, inappropriate elimination or even aggression.

If your dog is barking at a window or in the yard etc, do not give them access to that area when you are gone. Give them a quiet room with a comfortable bed, treats and bones. Don't let your dog practice the behavior all day. When you are home, teach a no bark command. Play with him in a way that will make him bark. Then say "quiet" when he stops. Reward with good treats. Practice this until he responds every time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Say ‘bye’ to Ring worm

Ringworm can be spread by simple contact, so it's important to know with who your dog is in contact. At the dog park or other heavily trafficked area, it is impossible to know if your dog is coming in contact with ringworm or not. Ringworm survive in dark, damp places, so make sure to regularly clean areas where your dog spends a lot of time. Frequently wash bedding and clean water bowls, especially in outdoor areas. Groom your dog every two to four weeks, more frequently for long-haired breeds. If you handle a strange dog, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling your own dog since ringworm can be transmitted between species. Ringworm is more likely to infect puppies or undernourished dog, so providing your dog with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise will help prevent any type of disease. Check your dog food label and make sure the first three ingredients are high-quality protein (not meat by-products). The food should not contain any corn or wheat as dogs cannot digest this. It is cheap filler that provides no nutritional value. A higher value food may cost more, but you can feed less.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How to prevent older dogs from biting

In many cases, an older dog will have problems with biting. A dog who is older when purchased or adopted, or allowed to bite as a puppy, may have not have had the training as a puppy or may bite out of fear or aggression. It is vital that your dog understands that you are alpha and you are the one in charge. To do so requires changes in every day activities. Never allow your dog on your bed or couch. Doing so allows him to think of himself as your equal. Feed your dog only after you and your family has eaten. In a pack, the alpha dogs always eat first. When walking, your dog should always heal. Never allow your dog to pull or lead the way. If you have made it clear to your dog that you are in charge and you still have difficulties with biting and insubordination, contact a qualified dog trainer. If your dog is older, it will be more difficult to train this behavior out of him so patience is key. Work with him every day and seek professional guidance.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Why is your kitten sneezing?

Always consider the conditions from which you got your little kitten; if he / she was living in cold or draughty conditions or in contact with many other cats this may be a case of flu. Kittens are normally vaccinated against this with a course of injections at about 10 and then 12 weeks old. This is followed by a yearly booster vaccination. If your kitten has the flu (Feline Influenza virus), this is a very serious condition! Whilst this could be a harmless allergic reaction or just a normal cold, it is certainly only responsible that your kitten should see your local vet as soon as possible to guard against further complications, and even fatally as cat flu certainly is not to be messed around with! Indeed, whether or not it is a case of the flu, it is vital to seek prompt veterinary treatment to ensure good kitten health.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Handling Newborn Kittens

Many people are not sure how old a newborn kitten should be before it is handled. This as much depends on the mother as it does their age. As with dogs, your relationship with her is very important. If she is comfortable for you to be in the vicinity of the nest you can safely try to stroke the kittens. Under normal circumstances you should avoid too much handling but just enough to make them used to human contact from as young an age as possible. Never move them out of sight of the mother and if she behaves abnormally or over-anxious try again in another few days. To begin with, you may like to hold one for her to lick (as if you are assisting her with her duties) and it may also be useful to help them arrange themselves at milking or, when they are slightly older, to stop them from being so aggressive with their mother!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

May Cats eat Chocolate?

Even in relatively small amounts chocolate is poison to cats and dogs. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two different types of stimulants that affect the central nervous system and the heart muscle, as well as increasing the frequency of urination. For a cat or dog to lick the remains of an ice cream from a bowl is unlikely to cause any harm at all unless the animal has a specific medical condition already. However, if the animal was to eat a larger quantity of chocolate he may become very sick indeed and develop vomiting or diarrhoea. When the amount of chocolate eaten is excessive, symptoms can include restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination and/or excessive panting. White chocolate has the least amount of stimulants and baking chocolate or cocoa beans have the highest. A better idea is to buy chocolate drops which are made specifically for pets, as they will not harm your pets' teeth.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Siamese if you please?

Siamese cats are famous for their unique personality, and many owners often think their Siamese kitties act more like dogs than cats, especially when the household includes dogs. The Siamese cat reached highest popularity in the 1970s, and since then many Siamese breeders in the UK have created clubs to maintain their "old-style" Siamese cats, believing that US breeders have produced an "over-type" which may suffer from health problems as a result, in other words there may be two ‘variations’ on the breed, particularly to those in the know. However, there are few records of breed-specific illness in the Siamese cat. They are very susceptible to upper respiratory diseases prior to adulthood, so make sure your cat always has a warm, dry resting place as an option to snuggle up on. There has also been some evidence of cardiomyopathy (the deterioration of the actual heart muscle) and sensitivity to anaesthetics.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why does your cat have bad breath?

There is a multitude of possible causes for bad breath in cats, with many reasons being the same as in humans. Primary causes of bad breath are infections of teeth or the gums, a foreign body stuck in the mouth, and ulceration of the mouth. However, there are also more severe causes such as lung diseases and kidney disease. It is therefore very important that you visit your vet with your cat, not least to rule out the more serious conditions. When you visit your vet, he will also want to know if any other symptoms have been reported, such as oral discharge, change in feeding or behaviour or perhaps any other sensory changes. If it turns out that there is no detectable cause of your cat's breath, you can consider changing his diet or using a feline finger toothbrush to freshen his mouth every day or every other day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why does your dog vomit after drinking?

When food or water is detected in the oesophagus, a normal neurological reflex will cause a muscle contraction and relaxation that transports the food into the stomach. Other reflexes prevent breathing during this swallowing process to protect the lungs from aspiration. When this process is interrupted by a disease such as Megaesophagus, the oesophagus loses its ability to transport food. The most serious complication is that digestive fluid will at some point pool in the oesophagus. Since a dog's trachea connect to the oesophagus from the underside, this pooling generally results in aspiration of digestive fluid, leading to pneumonia. Normally an affected dog will exhibit other symptoms such as inability to swallow large mouthfuls of food, fever and foul breath. It is important that your dog has a thorough veterinary examination in order to diagnose him. Before this happens, you must make sure that your dog is receiving adequate nutrition (food and water) and document any additional symptoms - this will help your vet. If he has Megaesophagus your vet will discuss how to prevent further complications such as pneumonia.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to bath your puppy

Puppies do not normally need to be bathed, but if he has had a particularly dirty experience the need may arise. However, you should not bath your puppy more often than necessary, since shampoos will remove the natural oils that protect your puppy's skin and hair. If your puppy experiences any skin reaction after bathing, consult your vet about the shampoo you are using. If you are not taking your dog to a professional groomer, you can use your bath at home. When your dog is secure in the bath, gently introduce the water. This is best by use of an extendible shower head. The water should be warm, and avoid spraying the water straight at his face, ears or genitals. Wet the dog all over. Introduce the shampoo, working from the top of the body down and finishing at the face. Dog shampoo will probably not sting the dog's eyes but you should still be careful. Start rinsing from the top. When all shampoo has been removed, squeeze the hair with your hands to remove the excess and give your dog a good rub.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Extreme weight-loss in your dog after giving birth

It is common for dogs to show a small degree of weight and hair loss after giving birth but if it is a severe amount of hair and weight loss, then it may be worth taking her to the vet, as she may require immediate hydration or application of electrolyte solutions. It is also worth checking her discharge which should have significantly reduced by now, should not contain any blood and should be odour free. If any of these indicators are not as they should be your dog requires immediate veterinary care. Your dog may have a large litter to feed, so ensure that she is eating and drinking enough! She should be eating around 50% more food during the first week after giving birth and then should double her food intake (and by week three should treble it). This is best done by increasing the number of meals rather than increasing the quantity at each sitting. She also needs lots of water to allow her to produce the milk.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why does your Lab’s nose change color?

To be perfectly honest, experts still seem to be a little baffled by this occurrence; and to their knowledge, nobody knows. In some cases, it can be due to an irritation, but in other cases the nose would look agitated and the dog might scratch it. It is known that in some cases the colour will return, and in others it will come and go. If this is the case, you should determine if it happens at the time of moulting. A mineral or vitamin supplement may be helpful, so you could discuss this with your vet. For dogs that have pink noses, the possibility of getting sunburn is really very high! Be sure to apply some sun-screen if the weather is hot and in particular if your dog stays outdoors. It has been known in some cases for dogs with pink noses to be tattooed to restore the colour!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is your dog molting all year round?

Hairs grow in cycles, and each cycle consists of a growing period and a resting period. The hair production cycle is highly variable in dogs and to a large extent breed specific. However most breeds fall into a six-month cycle with two hair ‘sheddings’ per year, in early spring and autumn. Dogs that are housed indoors can be exposed to several hours of artificial light, which means they may shed their hairs throughout the year, since their cycle is regulated by sunlight. Reasons for incessant moulting can include congenital Follicular dystrophy with which there is abnormal development of the coat; Hair cycle arrest which can be associated with many diseases associated with adrenal glands and other regulatory systems; and can also be caused by hormonal changes due to stress or anxiety. Aside from medical reasons, hair loss can also be due to behavioural problems such as constant scratching. So, it is a good idea to get this checked out by a vet as there are a number of things that can cause hair loss!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Healthy Horse Hooves

As a rule, a healthy horse that has access to plenty of quality grass should demonstrate healthy hoof growth. If the health of the animal or its diet is not optimal then its possible that a strong hoof will not be possible. In truth, other variables such as breed, individual genetics and environmental factors all play a part. Horse hooves are much like human fingernails: they grow from the cuticle and harden into hooves. If there is a disruption in the cuticle so that tissue can not grow, the nail/hoof will not be produced. If the crack in a hoof is a temporary problem, it should grow out with adequate shoeing. However, if it appears to be permanent / repetitive you need to address the underlying cause. It is possible that a horse with a permanently split hoof has a damaged cuticle - in which case no hoof will ever grow in that area, but it is more likely to be a temporary effect.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What to look for in your first horse

Always consider the temperament of a horse or pony. The animal's suitability to the tasks asked of it is also important. You should consider what you want the horse to actually do. You should look for large ears and a 'nice look' to the eyes - signs of pleasant temperament. Check how the horse reacts to you: The horse should be happy for you to walk around it and touch his flanks. Never buy a horse or pony before riding it yourself or having a more experienced rider ride it, you need to make sure that the horse is obedient and ‘easy’ to ride. Avoid horses that swing their heads around and bare their teeth when you mount, or horses that swish their tails around when they are ridden. The most important thing is to buy a horse that enjoys being ridden; otherwise both you and your horse may be either physically or emotionally scarred by the experience.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monitor Species for Beginners

I believe the smallest monitor lizard available in the pet trade is the Spotted Tree Monitor (Varanus timorensis). This species grows to a maximum length of about 70cm, although is known to be nervous and difficult to handle. This species is not yet as widely available as other species sold as pets. The most common monitors sold in the pet trade are the African savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) and the African Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus). Both of these species can easily achieve a length of 1m and can grow up to 1.5m and 2m respectively. One of the largest minors sold as pets is the Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator), which can grow up to a whopping 2.5m but is thought of as one of the most docile species. A few other monitor species are regularly available in small numbers in the pet trade such as Dumeril's monitors (Varanus dumerilii), black rough-necked monitors (Varanus rudicollis) and mangrove monitors (Varanus indicus). These are moderately large and relatively easy to manage.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Does your budgie hold his head to one side, and walk around himself? There may be a number of reasons for this: Parasitic infections such as toxoplasmosis can induce sever symptoms, such as blindness, head tilt, circling and paralysis. Vitamin E and selenium deficiencies can be a chronic deficiency in adults, and can cause weakness and head tilt amongst other symptoms. Also, an ear infection could be the cause; a bird's ears open near the eyes and are well hidden by the feathers. If you part the feathers, you may be able to see the opening, which should not be swollen or have a discharge. If there is a bacterial infection, the tissues will become swollen and the opening is no longer clearly visible. Without a thorough vet examination there is no way of checking which of these illnesses your bird has, and several possible causes are extremely dangerous indeed. So make sure you get to the vet!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pecking Budgie

It is often difficult to properly care for, let alone bond with, a budgie that attacks your fingers whenever you get near to it, or its cage, as it won’t allow you to clean the cage, feed it and change water, or take it out of the cage. My advice to you would be to try and give your little bird small treats every time it comes near to your hand, either from your fingers or cradled in the palm of your hand. This should teach your bird to ‘trust’ your hand and see it as a threat to its territory. After several weeks, you could try only giving your budgie a treat when she doesn’t peck at your hand. It is however important to realise that this is certainly a tough problem to solve, as some birds are just adverse to human contact, and this may therefore be a problem you may not be able to solve.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Yawning Canine!

There is a definite distinction between an animal yawning when he is tired and an animal yawning not through tiredness. Yawning in mammals increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and increases the heart-rate. All mammals can be seen yawning under nearly any circumstance, not just when they are tired or bored. In fact, because of the physiological impact of a yawn, some researchers believe that a yawn is used as a way to prepare the body for impending action. For example, many dogs that compete in agility competitions are seen yawning on the starting line, as if they are excited by the impending start and are giving their body an extra physiological boost prior to start. Similarly, a stressed dog can frequently yawn, as if they are maintaining readiness for unpredictable events - many dogs frequently yawn during obedience classes where they find the environment challenging and perhaps stressful.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Balanced Diet for your Tortoise

During the summer your tortoise must have a varied diet, but you will have to work out its own preferences. Most of the following will be appealing: cabbage, runner beans, cucumber, broccoli, grass, clover, dandelion, carrot and watercress. Bean-sprouts are useful when good grass in unavailable and bananas also make a good supplement. Some animal protein will be required maybe once a week in the form of a hard-boiled egg or a spoonful of cat or dog food. Ask your vet or pet shop for a suitable vitamin supplement.

Your tortoise must always have access to fresh drinking and soaking water. It is no coincidence that all tortoises that have these dietary requirements occur in very humid ecosystems. Dehydration is always a very serious danger to tortoises, and if untreated tap water is all that is available it is certainly better than none at all. However, distilled water is preferred. If this is not possible, water should be left to stand for 48 hours before use for excess chlorine to dissipate.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bored Blues

Just like a dog, a cat, or a child, rabbits love to play. They need mental, physical, and social stimulation just like any other pet does. A rabbit cooped up in a cage all the time with nothing to do is a bored rabbit. If you use toys to play with your bunny, your bunny will associate fun with you. This will cause it to bond more closely with you.

Try rolling a ball toward it and watch how it will curiously approach the ball. When choosing a toy, make sure that there are no chemically treated pieces that could harm your bunny. Avoid painted toys as they may be toxic. Dye is okay as long as it is natural dye such a food coloring. Anything safe for parrots is usually safe for rabbits. Rabbits love to chew, so blocks of wood are great. String a bell to the top of the cage, and your bunny may soon be reaching up to ring it with its nose. Experiment and see what your rabbit likes. Every rabbit, like every human, has its own preferences.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Horse-trailer stress

Do not expect overnight success by any method. Firstly, position your trailer in your horse's field for at least some of the time. This will allow your horse to become comfortable in its presence. At this stage do not force your horse to go to the trailer, and instead wait until he can go past it or next to it without noticing it. The next step is to try and feed your horse next to the trailer and then on the ramp and eventually inside it. At all times your horse must be allowed to leave the trailer area whenever he wishes. The important lesson here is to allow your horse into the trailer for something enjoyable and let him leave whenever he chooses - this will instil confidence.

Once your horse is prepared to spend time in the trailer in a relaxed fashion, attempt to shut the trailer behind him. If he becomes stressed then open it again. Continue trying this until he can spend time in the trailer when it is shut (but not moving). Once your horse is comfortable with this step, you can begin to slowly move the trailer while your horse is in it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nitty Gritty

The other day I was asked whether it really is necessary to include grit products into your budgie’s cage. I have heard that in the wild they snack on stones, but wasn’t too sure of the answer. Well, actually…it’s not. In the wild, budgies need some kind of grit to help them digest all the foods they eat, but domestic budgies are generally fed foods that are easily digestible like seeds, pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables. This diet makes the need for grit obsolete. However, it usually isn't harmful for a pet budgie to be offered grit every once in a while, although you must be sure not to leave it in the cage. Budgies have been known on occasion to over-indulge on grit, which may lead to digestive problems and in extreme cases these digestive problems may most certainly lead to your budgie’s death. So make sure to take care!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Can dogs watch TV?

Many claim that their dogs watch TV. A lot of these dogs will actually follow the movement of objects moving around the screen and may also bark. However, the dog does not interpret the television the same way we do. The dog can’t determine what any object on the screen actually is. For example, if we can see a video of a dog running around a field, your dog will see a dark object moving around the screen and this may grab his attention and make him "watch". The sounds of the television are also likely to gain the attention of the dog, and because they can pinpoint the directional origin of any sound they hear, they will naturally look at the TV. Most dogs, however, will differentiate between the sounds of, a dog barking on TV and a real dog barking. Although unapparent to us, there will be a distinct difference which will render the TV version unimportant to your dog. A dog's most important sense, smell, is not present in television and may affect his reaction to stimuli such as the TV that is lacking scents.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don’t lay an egg!

There are several triggers to egg laying in cockatiels - possibly the most important being daylight hours. If the bird detects a lengthening of the daylight hours then this will trigger her to start laying eggs. You can help suppress this by keeping your bird covered or in a shaded/darkened room for at least 12 hours a day. Also, since your bird is more inclined to lay eggs when feeling safe and secure, she may feel less comfortable if there are frequent but subtle changes to her habitat, such as moving her cage furniture around. It is quite common for cockatiels to lay eggs. They will normally lay a clutch of 3-5 eggs at 48 hour intervals and then depending on how maternal the bird is feeling they will normally incubate them for one to three weeks before accepting they are not going to hatch. Make sure that she has a good supply of calcium as well as protein, vitamins and minerals to replace those that have gone into the egg production and ensure that she gets plenty of exercise between hatches to keep her fit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Home Alone…

I would rather suggest friend or relative pop in and check on your hamster while you are away/take your hamster in for the length of your vacation. This is the best option as it will avoid the undue stress of travelling and the possibility of your hamster overfeeding on the food left for it and then running out. Its not recommended leaving a hamster on its own for longer than three days. Rather just take him with you then. Take a cover for the cage while in the car and don't place it near the air vents, an open window or in direct sunlight. Things will move around a bit in the car even with the best driving so don't put anything in the cage that could harm your hamster. For example, use a water bottle and scatter a little bit of food around the floor rather than water/food bowls. A quiet background level of music will be fine but your hamster will probably be trying to sleep so wont appreciate anything very loud.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is chomping on the lawn ok?

Rabbits have a unique digestive system, which best suits a high fiber, low protein, and low energy diet. A high fiber diet, as well as being essential for digestion, also helps your rabbit to keep his or her teeth trim. All a rabbit really needs is a good quality rabbit mix containing cereal grains, minerals and vitamins, a constant supply of fresh hay, fresh water and small quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables. However, in the wild they eat grass and graze on vegetation, as a result, it is not a problem to let your rabbit nibble on the grass in your yard unless the grass is chemically treated. Be absolutely, absolutely sure that nothing has been used on the grass within the last 6 years or so i.e. pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Some chemicals can remain in the soil for that long and may have an adverse effect on your pet’s health and well-being.

Monday, October 26, 2009


There are a couple of methods to check whether your horse is dehydrated. So use these methods regularly so as to build up knowledge of your horse’s condition, and to make sure your horse gets enough fluids. The first method is to test the "capillary refill time" by parting the horse's lips to expose the gums. If you press gently and briefly on the upper jaw with your thumb you will see the blood is forced from the gum. Count how long it takes for the gum to return to its normal colour. If it is longer than 2 seconds your horse may be either dehydrated or might have a circulatory problem. Secondly, pinch the skin on your horse's neck just in front of the shoulders. If the skin does not return back to its normal position quickly, this may indicate dehydration. This is an easy test for you to do frequently to build up a picture of your horse’s relative hydration from day to day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dog vs. Cat

If you are introducing a new dog to a home that already has a cat, your cat will need time to gain confidence around the new arrival, even if you've picked a breed with a better reputation for getting on with cats. Cats will normally react to dogs by hissing or swatting with their paws, and will try to escape by running or hiding. They may also spray to mark 'their' territory. With time and patience feline-canine harmony should be achievable. Don’t leave the two unsupervised until you can completely trust them to behave in your absence. Kittens usually love dogs, whilst dogs find kittens unthreatening. Just like adults, they need to time to adapt to the new arrival. Introduce kittens gradually and never leave them alone together until a pattern of good relations has been established. Some adult dogs will carry kittens around and young kittens will accept this attention, but it's probably best to gently take your kitten away from the dog to avoid injury. Don't worry if they never really get along. Cats are naturally independent, so as long as each has their own space, things will work out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Worming around!

Most puppies are actually born with worms, so one of the first things you'll need to do is treat both the puppies and their mother for the condition. Roundworm and tapeworms (picked up from flea eggs) are the most common variety of infestation, but hookworms may also be lurking. Roundworms can be identified as spaghetti-like shapes in the vomit or faeces. Tapeworm is rice-shaped. The latter are particularly hard to spot and you are more likely to see them around your dog's bottom. Fortunately, worm infestations are easy to control and treat, as long as the condition does not progress too far. If you suspect that your dog has worms, talk to your vet. In some circumstances you may be advised to take in a stool sample, the vet will look under the microscope for worm eggs in the sample. It's a good idea to dispose of the stool when your dog goes to the toilet outside. This will help to prevent re-infestation, and will also protect playmates as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sick Pup!

It's not always easy to detect illness in your dog, so you'll need to look for a range of subtle signs that may indicate a potential problem. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, don't rely on books or websites for a diagnosis. Contact your vet immediately!
If your dog has persistent constipation or diarrhoea that lasts for longer than 48 hours, visit your vet, and, if possible, take a fresh stool sample with you.
Persistent sickness or choking when eating is a concern. Vomiting can be a sign of a developing allergy, or a more serious infection, particularly in older dogs. Kennel cough can also be a serious illness. For a range of reasons your dog's eating patterns may occasionally become irregular. But if your dog refuses food for a day or more, consult your vet. If for any reason your dog just isn't his or her normal, healthy, active self, it's worth taking a closer look. Like humans, dogs can just look unwell, and even if there are no obvious clues to what's wrong, a trip to the vet is a good idea if symptoms persist.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcoming your new feline friend!

Firstly choose a name for you kitty. Serve fresh food and water every day in clean plastic, ceramic or stainless steel dishes.

Next to the food and water, place kitty’s litter tray. Kittens function best when they have a choice of at least two trays, which are easy to access and nearby. Attach an ID tag and bell to warn you (and the birds) when your kitten is around - or trying to get out! Also speak with your vet about microchip insertion in case your kitten gets lost.

Choose a bed for your kitten and a variety of sturdy kitten toys. Dangle them from a string tied to a stick to keep your kitten active and interested. Cats don't need to be bathed on a regular basis, but brushing or combing your cat's coat could become a happy habit!

And finally, find a reputable veterinary practice that you can trust as this relationship may last 15 to 20 years!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Losing Your Best Friend

The sorrow associated with the recent or impending loss of a pet can be overwhelming, but there are ways to help you cope with the loss of your beloved pet. When your pet - sometimes your best friend - dies, even close friends may not know how to help you or what to say. Those who don't own pets often find it hard to comprehend the loss of the relationship you enjoyed so much. Time, of course, is the great healer. Creating a memorial can help give you closure when dealing with the loss of your pet, like holding a small remembrance service in your garden or planting a tree or plant. Talking to someone who has been through a similar experience is also a great comfort! And don’t feel silly! The sadness you may experience is valid and real. It might also help to talk to, or read books written by, those who have experienced a loss or who have professional training in this area, or scour the internet for articles that provide support on this topic.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Destructive Dog!

Chewing is a natural part of a puppy's development as they begin to explore their surroundings. Punish only if caught in the act otherwise this is pointless. Ignore any mess and clear up and remove your puppy from the situation until calm. Redirect your puppy's natural desire into appropriate chewing such as food balls or toys and praise when you see your puppy using these toys. Do not give articles of clothing etc to your puppy to chew as this may confuse it.

If you think your dog's destructiveness is a way of seeking attention then be aware that pets soon learn that they will be rewarded with owners undivided attention when they chew something. You must make sure that you give your dog attention even when it is being good and quiet so that it doesn’t resort to attention seeking behaviour.
Ignore any attention seeking chewing and redirect your dog towards appropriate chewing behaviour and praise any positive behaviour.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pet Training

Whether you have just brought home a new puppy or a rescue dog, training should begin straight away. Your dog can pick up bad habits if allowed to get away with certain behaviour when settling in that you later feel will be unacceptable. For example you allow your puppy to sleep in your room for the first few nights as he is crying, a few months down the line you cannot shut your dog in the kitchen at night because he barks the house down! So decide on the ground rules before your pet arrives and stick to them. You will need patience and a willing pet. You will also need a small, tasty treat to reward your dog with and a quiet room with no distractions to enable you and your dog to concentrate. It can be very helpful to join a training class for guidance and socialisation or work from a reputable dog-training book. Ensure that you have suitable training aids or equipment to hand such as clicker, harness, lead etc. Once your dog is performing a certain task reliably you can start to ask them to do this in a 'real' situation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What to do when puppy needs to pee at night

When very young, puppies often need to eliminate every 3 to 4 hours. To prevent them from getting into the habit of eliminating in the house, you can use a puppy pen or indoor kennel. Indoor kennels can be useful in toilet training as they don’t like to go to the toilet in their bed and feeding areas. Don’t put your puppy in the kennel if it doesn’t like it, or as punishment or just to keep it out of the way of the comings and goings in the house. The kennel should be large enough for the puppy to stand up in, lie flat out in and turn around in. Put puppy’s bed, water bowl and toys in it. Encourage your puppy to go in there by giving it attention and treats while in there, your puppy will learn that this is a safe place to go whenever required. When puppy’s happy to go in there and sleep with the door open, start to shut the door for short periods until it is comfortable with this. Ensure that puppy is tired when in the kennel so that it will just want to sleep and is not full of beans!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Bang!

Loud firework bangs and flashes in the sky can be particularly terrifying to animals. In order to keep your pet safe during firework displays, follow these tips:

  • If your pet is particularly sensitive to loud noises, ask your veterinary surgeon for advice on medication. There are some homeopathic remedies available to relieve stress.
  • Provide a litter tray for cats if they are used to having garden access.
  • Remember to secure doors and windows.
  • If you are having a firework display, warn neighbours in advance so they can take precautions. Ideally go to your local community display.
  • Ensure your pets' identification is current so if they do get away local authorities are better able to help return them to you.
  • You pet may find toys and treats comforting and distracting so ensure you have a supply.
  • Put your pet inside and draw the curtains, and put the TV or radio on to drown out noise.
  • Never let off fireworks near any animal!

Monday, October 12, 2009

How to wean your kitten

Kittens can usually be started on the weaning process at three weeks of age and should be fully weaned by 6-8 weeks of age. Canned food can be mashed up and mixed with water to form gruel. Smear the gruel around your kitten's lips to encourage your kitten to lick the food off his/her lips. Some kittens will take the food as a mash but make sure there are no big chunks in the food and water mixture. Dry food can also be soaked and used to make gruel. Feed small amounts to your kitten and as often as your kitten requires and as your kitten gets older start adding less water to the mixture. Many kittens will eat dry food without it being soaked by 10-12 weeks of age while most will manage a canned kitten food at 6-8 weeks. So the key is just to be patient with your kitten and make sure that they get enough food, frequently.

Friday, October 9, 2009

So how do you get started?

Like any kind of training, start in an environment that your dog is comfortable and relaxed in. Begin to associate the click with a reward by click-treat-click-treat-click etc holding the clicker out of view. Your dog will eventually begin to associate the clicker with a reward until the click becomes a reward in itself. In obedience training you give your dog an idea of what is expected and then when he does it right you can reward him. For example tempt your dog into the sit position by holding a treat in front of your dog’s nose and move your hand back over your dogs head. As he tries to keep the treat under his nose his bottom will automatically hit the floor, at this stage you can then click and treat. As you repeat this only give treats intermittently and introduce a command. Allow your dog time to work out what you want him to do and be patient.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Clicker Training?

Clicker training is a simple and effective method of training based on a positive reinforcement reward system. The clicker is a simple plastic box with a metal tongue. When compressed it emits a double 'click' sound. The clicker is used to reward a specific behaviour and works on most dogs’ willingness to want to please their owners and earn their prize. The positive aspect of the clicker is that it is specific to the behaviour your dog is displaying at the time that you want to reward. Praise such as "who’s a good boy!" is not as effective in teaching your dog what is going to get it its reward and so it will take longer for your dog to learn. As the click is sounded as the behaviour is happening, there can be no doubt about what the dog is being rewarded for. Clicker training uses your dog’s own natural desire to learn and obtain a reward without having to use any force or punishment. If your dog does not do what you are trying to train, it will not get a click reward and so will try harder to do what you want to gain recognition.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How to prevent your cat from spraying in the house

Firstly, distinguish between spraying and urinating: spraying is a deliberate act of communication, which will be done on a vertical surface such as a wall. Urinating is the normal passing of urine onto a horizontal surface like the floor. Spraying can be a sign of serious upset but is usually a normal marking behaviour in un-neutered cats and in most animals out of the house. Some of these apparent toileting problems can have a medical basis so if you are unsure always get your vet to check your cat.
For any kind of spraying/urination, cleaning the area properly is very important to prevent recurrence, try the following:

1. Clean the area with a 10% solution of a biological or enzymatic washing powder / liquid.
2. Wipe area down with cool clean water and dry.
3. Spray area with a low-grade alcohol such as surgical spirit through a plant mister.

Pheromone sprays can be obtained from a vet to make your cat feel more settled but the area must be properly cleaned first. The longer this problem continues the more difficult it is to stop.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baby Behaviour Training

Once you’ve identified the behaviour that needs changing, before your baby arrives, sincere training should start. Cats and dogs of all ages have the capability to learn new tricks; it is all about rewarding good behaviour and ignoring bad behaviour. If you catch your pet acting inappropriately you can use a negative reaction e.g. making a noise when they jump on the couch. This reaction however has to be consistent. It takes between three and five days for a dog to follow a new set of rules, and a cat can take between a week and ten days. So consistency is key to creating a new routine and a new set of rules to ensure that your pet will be prepared for the arrival of your new born and that they are well trained to deal with the new addition to the family, and essentially their territory!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Love at First Sniff?

Pets seldom happily welcome the newborn baby in the house and it is often forgotten that your pets, too, need to be prepared for the new arrival. Preparation of the arrival of a baby should begin as soon as you know you’re pregnant: use a baby doll to determine how your pet may react to a real infant. While your pet’s watching, hold the doll in your arms and place it on the floor. If you don’t like your pet’s reaction you have to teach him/her how you like them to behave, by using the doll. You should consider that your pet’s general behaviour may need to change. Your pet won’t instinctively know to change its behaviour just because a baby is in the house. It is important to remember that your pet is not being naughty or stubborn but is just doing what it has always been allowed to do. So nip any behaviour you consider inappropriate around an infant, in the bud before your baby arrives. You need to teach your pet new rules; otherwise they are bound to make ‘mistakes’.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Midnight Snack…

Most dogs have the uncouth habit of snacking on faeces. Here are a few ways to put an end to this nasty habit: The pineapple method suggests that you put small (and keep it small as your pet may start vomiting from too large a piece of pineapple) pieces of pineapple into your pet’s food. This will give the faeces a bitter taste. The courgette method proposes that you cook courgettes in a small amount of olive oil, until soft. Give a small dog 1 to 2 teaspoons, or a large dog 1 tablespoon of the courgettes with each meal. The best way to correct this habit is to restrict access to faecal material. Clean up your dog’s mess as soon as possible! Rewards go a long way, so reward your dog when they behave well, and withhold treats when caught chomping on pooh. Also, provide your pet with enough chew toys and spend quality time with him/her.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to deal with puppy’s separation anxiety

Separation anxiety may manifest itself through barking, toileting, chewing or self-mutilation. A traumatised pet, be it a new puppy or an established pet, may display these symptoms and a vet check-up may certainly be in order then! Here are a few guidelines to help them (and you) deal with their anxiety: For young dogs, gradually familiarise them with long periods of time alone. Precede these periods with quality time. Don’t make a big issue out of coming in and leaving the house. Leave your pet with something desirable, that it may only have on its own, such as toys or food balls. Always be sure to reward good behaviour. Most damage is done during the first ten minutes of you leaving, so change your routine to dispel your pet’s anxiety. Don’t punish your pet unless it has been caught in the act of doing something wrong. Punishment may increase your pet’s anxiety.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Diabetic Doggy

Diabetic dogs usually require insulin on a daily basis. In many cases your dog’s diet does not have to change, and your dog may be fed the same food that it has always eaten. The food, however, has to be the same amount of the same type of food, at the same time every day. Establishing and maintaining a routine is important as this routine is vital to stabilising your dog’s insulin levels. If it is proving really difficult to stabilise your dog’s insulin levels, or if your pooch is overweight, then consult with your vet so that he/she may prescribe a special diet to help avoid any fluctuations in your dog’s blood sugar levels and to ensure that your dog’s weight stays down as to prevent any further serious health issues. A good relationship with your vet is important in this instance as to ensure that your pet is provided with a healthy approach to this disease. Your pet will then still be able to live a full and happy life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fat Cat!

Cats are prone to putting on a few kilograms, especially as they get older and less active. It is very important that you monitor your cat’s weight as obesity may lead to diabetes, heart and respiratory conditions and bladder or kidney problems, but to name a few health concerns. It may be difficult to know whether your cat is overweight or not. Regular assessment by your vet is recommended, but to check your cat’s weight at home simply run your hands around your cat’s flanks and abdomen. You should be able to feel (not see) the ribs easily, without a heavy layer of fat. Also, the waistline behind the ribs should be visible when looking down, from above. To bring weight down and maintain health, cut out kitty treats and snacks, cut down food intake, and avoid a ‘crash diet’. Exercise is vital too! So ensure that your cat lives a long and healthy life and implement these very easy steps. It will do your cat the world of good.

Monday, September 28, 2009

An Ode to Astrid

When I got to my dear friend’s house yesterday I was greeted with some very sad news. His rusty-coloured, loyal Doberman, Astrid, suffered a heart attack on the beach, while he was walking her! The news made my ears sing loudly. I really grew fond of that pooch! She was never particularly aware of her size and as a result she would attempt to climb on my lap or sit, with only one bum-cheek, on the couch trying to avoid being told to ‘get off!’ by looking inconspicuous and watching the TV with much interest. I think her presence will be sorely missed this summer season, void of Astrid snapping at the water splashes we make while playing in the pool on a warm summer’s day. She wasn’t always the brightest of dogs, but she loved us enough to thwart a number of attempted burglaries and she only ever greeted us with affection – ALWAYS happy to see us! My friend and I agreed that the beach was the best place for her to have her last experience on this earth. She loved chasing the gulls and snapping at the waves. R.I.P Astrid xoxo

Friday, September 25, 2009

Travelling Feline

Travelling with your cat is usually a major undertaking! Cats tend to be most at ease in their own homes, surrounded by familiar litter boxes and food bowls. So maybe you should consider leaving them at home, with a house-sitter. A trusted house-sitter can clean your cat’s litter box and ensure fresh food and water on a daily basis. House-sitters often advertise at the vet, so scour the notice boards for someone. If you do decided to take kitty with, a cat carrier is essential! Introduce the carrier to your cat in advance, so that it is not frightened by the carrier when it is travelling. Place a cushion and some catnip in the carrier to entice your cat to it. Allow it to get used to the carrier a few days in advance so that by the time you need to load your kitty into the carrier it is used it being around the house and does not associate it with anything negative. And remember, when travelling with your pet, to ensure that your pet has enough water to remain hydrated.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What’s the best way to feed your pet dry food?

Most dry pet food can either be fed dry, or soaked in gravy or in water. Most cats do prefer to eat their food dry, and dry cat food tends to become rather unappetizing in appearance when soaked in any liquid. Some dogs prefer dry food to that of soaked food, however dogs may differ. Dogs that are used to eating canned dog food usually prefer their food to be soaked in a bit of water or gravy. You can soak the food in warm water, for about half an hour, and then allow for it to cool before giving it to your pet. Remember that gravy can be quite salty and there is usually no need to offer this with a dry complete food – this contains all the nutrition your dog will need. At the end of the day, be it dry or soaked dog food; feed your pet what it will happily eat.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fussy kitty!

Every cat is an individual and like people, each cat can have taste preferences. Cat foods are available in many different forms such as chunks in jelly, chunks in gravy or a meatloaf type. If your cat is a very fussy eater, warming the food slightly will help to release the natural aromas, which should entice your kitty to its bowl. Hand feeding your cat can also be very useful to tempt him/her to eat. This method is particularly helpful when trying to feed a cat that is on the road to recovery after an illness. One trick is to try offering a "platter" (yes this does sound ‘spoilt’ but if you are desperate it may be the best solution!) with a little of each different type of food on it and watch for the one your cat shows a preference for. Don't forget that some cats prefer crunching on a dry food, so do consider this when your cat pulls its nose up to the other types of cat food available.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flea Fi Fo Fum!

Fleas are one of the major causes of allergic skin diseases in domestic animals. Effective flea control is dependant on an all year round approach – this would include controlling fleas on your pet and in its environment. Fleas are present all year round, although we tend not to see them in winter as much. Effective flea control involves keeping your pet on a topical flea product throughout winter. You should also spray your household environment with a flea spray, or powder, to control those fleas and parts of the fleas’ life cycle that are not on your pet. Often the problems we experience in summer with fleas build up in the winter months, so by maintaining treatment throughout the year the spring season becomes a lot more manageable! And in particular: good winter control of fleas and other parasites means a more easily controllable summer season!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Skin Allergies

Although the symptoms of skin problems are only really noticeable in summer, they are only the tip of the iceberg and indicate what is going on in your dog’s body which needs to be controlled all year round. Generally dogs are allergic to more than one thing. Long term control of allergies is best achieved by reducing the allergen and through the use of essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids can take up to 12 weeks to be effective, but dogs should remain on them throughout the winter months so that they have high blood levels of fatty acids to provide them with strong and healthy immune systems that are able to deal with the allergen load that occurs in spring time. Consult your vet to ensure that you provide your pet with Omegas 3 and 6 as well as zinc and vitamin A to ensure a healthy coat, skin and general dog health.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Eight Steps to building a relationship with your Cat (Part 2)

5: Establishing a grooming routine for your kitty.

If your cat has long hair he/she should be groomed everyday. If, on the other hand, your cat has a short-haired coat, then he/she only needs to be groomed twice a week.

6: Always look out for any signs of sickness!

While grooming your cat, have a look for fleas, ticks or any other parasites. Also look for any skin disorders, lumps, bumps, or skin lesions and treat it accordingly and a soon as possible.

7: Set some ground rules for your kitten and stick to them!

Ground rules help prevent your kitten from developing bad habits, as it teaches your kitten the difference between right and wrong.

8: Make sure that you start litter box training as soon as possible!

The litter box should be placed in a secluded area so that your kitten associates that area with having to ‘do his business’. Also, it is important to keep the box clean as cats don’t like to use soiled litter.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eight Steps to building a relationship with your Cat (Part 1)

1: Ensure that your kitten has enough human contact!

Handling your kitten frequently during their first month increases and improves their learning ability.

2: Take time out to play with your kitten as it aids in development.

This teaches your cat about its environment and how to negotiate it. It also encourages instinctual behaviour in your kitten.

3: Make sure that your kitten pays a visit to the vet as soon as possible.

It is vital to ensure that your kitten is vaccinated against diseases and worms, and ask your vet for diet advice while you are there.

4: Make sure that your kitten is receiving a balanced diet.

A balanced, and nutritional, diet is vital to the development of your kitten – it ensures that he/she has enough nutrients to develop physically and mentally and makes for a strong and healthy immune system.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Before and After?

Some people are not always sure what changes to expect in their dogs after neutering their dogs. In males you may find that your dog is not prone to straying, as apposed to before neutering, also your dog may become calmer and neutering may ease any aggressive or sexual behaviour displayed by your dog. In general though, the basic character of your pet will not change. Dogs tend to recover from the operation rather quickly, usually feeling quite dizzy the day of the operation, but they are usually up and about the day after the surgery. It is important to note, that a neutered dog has a strong tendency to gain weight – this may be due to it becoming less active by no longer straying and roaming the streets for un-neutered females. It is therefore important to adjust your dog’s diet accordingly and to ensure that your pet gets sufficient exercise often enough.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Moving your Cat to a New Home

Moving houses may be quite a traumatic experience for cats. The moving process is also very difficult for you, and your cat will easily pick up on it. It might be best to send your cat to a cattery, or to let it stay at a friend’s home, during the packing and moving process. When your cat is introduced to your new home, you should allow for some ‘settling in’ time. However, be sure to not let the house-rules go! Make sure that your cat knows where his/her food and water bowls are and where his/her litter box has been placed. Cats should be kept indoors for a period of two weeks, before they are let out, to allow them to settle into their new home. It is also important to give your pet the opportunity to explore its new surroundings and to get familiar with its new territory.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bath Time

Although cats usually don’t need you to bath them, there are certain occasions where this activity is required. Here are a few tips to ensure a happy feline (and a happy you)! Firstly, make sure that you use a cat/kitten shampoo that doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals or perfumes. Human shampoo may be harmful to your cat’s skin as the pH levels differ – so avoid using this. Secondly, make use of your bath tub, or a large plastic tub, and fill it with warm (NOT hot) water. If your cat violently protests to having a bath and you do suffer some minor ‘battle wounds’ in the process, have them checked out as cat-inflicted scratches or bites easily infect. Thirdly, use treats, verbal praise and assurance to make your kitty feel calm. Try not to get any shampoo in your cat’s ears or eyes and make sure that you rinse your cat thoroughly – again avoid the ears or eyes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sausage Roll!

An overweight pet certainly is not a healthy pet! Sometimes it is very difficult to say ‘no’ to your pet when they look at you with those big brown eyes and they’re begging from underneath the dining table. A treat every now and then is not a problem, but pets require a balanced diet according to their species and substituting this with our human food results in malnutrition and obesity. Obesity may lead to a number of health issues including heart disease, back problems, and strain on the liver and kidneys. It is important to stick to the pet diet recommended by your vet and to ensure that your pet gets frequent and sufficient exercise! Small and older dogs are particularly prone to obesity which will substantially affect their quality of life. Dogs such as Dachshunds suffer from terrible back pain when overweight and easily break their backs while jumping. So do take care and make sure that your pet is getting the diet suited to him/her!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Giving your dog a bath

Let’s face it; most dogs don’t enjoy the experience of having a bath. Here are a few tips as to ensure that your pooch is happy and clean! Dogs are very sensitive to sound, so it is not always a good idea to make use of the hose pipe, as the water squirting startles them. Fill your bath tub, or a plastic tub (that is big enough), with some lukewarm water and put your pooch in there. It makes the experience less traumatic. If you do decide to use the hose pipe, then don’t turn it on ‘full blast’ and spray your dog in the face. Instead, approach your dog gently with the water and wash the suds off carefully. This should prevent them from panicking. A hose pipe turned on to it’s fullest is rather cruel – just consider it this way: if you won’t like it, chances are your pet won’t either. Make sure you use a good quality dog shampoo, and give your dog a good brush afterwards. This will stimulate circulation and make for a healthy, shiny coat!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Naughty Cat!

Its spring time again and that usually means one thing: a restless kitty!! As cats come into mating season they become rowdy and extremely territorial, which often results in an injured cat or an injured bird! So how do you, if not prevent, at least mitigate your kitty’s behaviour? I suggest that you make sure your cat wears a bell around its neck so as to alert the nesting pigeons, robins and doves. This will give them fair warning of your cat’s presents. If the neighbourhood’s cat’s are having a turf war in your backyard, cut up some citrus fruit – lemons or oranges – and spread them across your lawn or where you know the cats tend to congregate. Citrus deters cats as they don’t like the smell, and this should leave your yard free of meowing madness in the middle of the night. If your cat’s antics are driving you nuts, it might be a good idea to consider spaying or neutering your cat. This is important in preventing ‘unwanted’ pregnancies and aggressive pets.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Birdcage

Birds truly are lovely pets to keep as they require little maintenance and bring much joy to their owners. However, it is always important to remember that these sensitive little creatures are pets too, and that they require all the love and attention they can get. Birds are social creatures that so it is a good idea to put their cage on a table outside, or hang it from a tree, so that they are able to interact with other birds. Throw some bird seed out underneath the cage to attract some birdlife and intern stimulate your budgie or parakeet’s social side. This tip goes for any pet: do not keep your bird in a smoke-filled room! Animals may exhibit signs of allergy to cigarette smoke and constant exposure to it certainly is NOT in the best interests of your bird (or any pet for that matter). And finally, make sure that your bird’s cage is suitable big enough for it at least to be able to jump and flap around in. All animals require enough space to remain active and stimulated in.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New member of the Family

If you are thinking of adding a new pet to your family, but are not sure of how your existing pet family member will handle it, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, success will only be certain if your dog has a healthy temperament towards other dogs, or if your pet is not too old. It makes it very difficult for your current pet to accept a new dog into his/her territory, which is definitely aggravated by age. Secondly, do not pay the new pet too much attention to the detriment of your existing pet. This will make them jealous and give them reason to attack the new pup as to assert authority or territory. Feed your existing pet first, and his/her usual feeding spot and then feed the new pet, this will prevent competition for food. Try not to treat your pets any different with the acquisition of a new pet, but instead treat them equally, showing the same amount of love and care to both.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Choke Chain Reality

The practice of slamming the dog sideways with a jerk that brought the foreparts clear of the ground and 2-3 feet towards the handler, became popular in the 1970s and resulted in a painful condition known as 'Woodhouse neck' (see below) in his practice. He reports that some of these cases exhibited misalignment of cervical vertebrae on radiographs and that his ophthalmology colleagues had decided views on the relation between compression of the neck caused by the use choke chains, intra-ocular pressure disturbances and damage to the cervical sympathetic nerve chain resulting in Horner's syndrome. He also reports having personally seen a case of 'swollen eyes with petechial scleral haemorrhage and a number of temporarily voiceless dogs caused by the use of choke chains in the training of dogs'. It is never appropriate to recommend to an owner to hang a dog from a choke collar to subdue aggression. If the owner cannot back the dog down, and this may take a fight to the death, they are at risk of being injured (Grobbelaar 2006).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Importance of a Walk

The mental stimulation a dog receives from a walk is underestimated. Dogs are mentally stimulated when required to use their senses. They get to see different environments, people and other dogs; they get to feel different textures under their feet, which increase dopamine in the body. Dopamine influences the brain's pleasure centre and is responsible for the positive feelings a dog experiences. They get to socialize and hear different noises. The more different environments a dog experiences the more adaptable he becomes. The bonding experience between dog and owner on walks is also often overlooked. If you have more than one dog per household try every now and then to walk just one dog at a time, even if it means they get a shorter walk on that day as to fit all of them in. It gives your dog time to be with you without the normal competitiveness that usually surrounds more than one dog on a walk.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Children and Dogs

All children should be taught to respect other living beings, be they animal or human, even if your household does not contain animals, your children should still be taught the basics. Dogs do not like hugs and kisses. Many dogs tolerate this as they have been exposed to it as puppies but they do not particularly like it. Dogs may feel threatened when hugged. Teach your child to scratch the dog on the chest and shoulders or rub behind the ears from the side. If a strange dog approaches your child, teach them to 'BE A TREE'. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. 'Be a tree' means: stand still, fold your branches (arms) together and look at your roots (feet). Children can even use this technique if their own dog gets to boisterous during play. Dogs are stimulated by movement and sounds. The erratic movements and high pitch sounds that children make can cause some dogs to view them as prey and a chasing or wrestling game can become seriously dangerous.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Unwelcome Greeting

Jumping up is a common behavioural problem with dogs. It is usually invited and encouraged by owners as a greeting ritual, expression of affection and play. When puppies are small they tend to jump up to obtain your attention and interaction, we reinforce this behaviour by touching and talking to them. The puppy then learns that to obtain attention that is what he must do. As the puppy gets older and bigger in size the more of a nuisance it becomes, especially if you have a dog that jumps up on visitors etc. Ignoring the dog will not solve the unwanted behaviour; the dog might actually try harder to get your attention by jumping up more. The best results will be obtained by teaching an alternative behaviour (sit) with rewards and play, rather than focusing on suppressing the unwanted behaviour. Be pre-emptive, before your dog even has the chance to jump up to greet you, ask for a 'sit'. If he complies he can be calmly greeted, if not, withdraw your attention from him by turning away and then ask again for a 'sit. He’ll learn that jumping up isn’t rewarded, but 'sit' brings him positive interaction and attention.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stressed out Canines

Although not all stress that your dog is exposed to is negative, there are certain stressful circumstances that may result in kidney, bladder, skin or cardiovascular diseases. Some signs of stress and frustration may be more difficult to detect while others are unmistakable. You may notice that some signs relate to an increase in activity while other signs relate to a decrease in activity. It is important to note that some of the symptoms could have medical causes and you should always consult your veterinarian.

Some symptoms of stress include: Relapses in an already housetrained dog; self mutilation i.e. chewing a paw or tail; sleeping excessively or a disturbed sleep pattern; compulsive behaviour; urinates more frequently in a particular context; continuous diarrhoea; destructiveness; loss of appetite or over eating. Sometimes certain stressors are unavoidable. If they do occur, give your dog time to de-stress to allow the chemicals in the body to go back to normal levels. It is import to identify symptoms and know how to prevent stress in our dogs' lives if we want them to be physically healthy and behaviorally sound.