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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Importance of Your Veterinarian

The first written records of veterinary were documented as early as 1900 BCE! Veterinary medicine however has come a long way since and it is important, as a pet owner, to develop a relationship with your local veterinarian. Veterinary medicine is informally as old as the human and animal bond but recently it has expanded as a result of the availability of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for most species. A vet’s role includes diagnosing animal health problems; vaccinating against diseases; medicating animals; treating and dressing wounds and setting fractures; performing minor to major surgery; advising owners about animal feeding, behavior, and breeding. Animals today often receive advanced medical, dental, and surgical care. Your vet only wants what is best for your pet AND for you. His advice is to be valued and considered seriously as today’s veterinarians are doctors who are highly educated to protect both the health of animals and humans.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Puppy Love

Puppies too require extensive care during their first few months. Vaccinations are very important in the first 3 months of your puppy’s life, as the antibodies from the initial breast milk wear off. Puppy food, found in dry, canned, raw and homemade forms, and sometimes those specific to certain breeds or types of dogs, should contain nutrients that allow puppies to develop strong bones, teeth, joints, a shiny coat, and a strong and healthy immune system. Puppies often need to eat between 2 and 3 (or even more) times daily, to accommodate their very fast metabolisms. Puppy toys are also important in the development of your puppy, as they are designed to increase their ability to logically reason. Chew toys aid during the teething phase. A quick tip however, it is not recommended to give your puppy a shoe to chew, as they will identify any shoe as a chew toy and those leather pumps you only pull out for special occasions will be a leather mass in NO time!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kitten Care

Caring for your kitten is essential as to ensure a strong and healthy adult life. Firstly, be sure to de-worm your kitten at approximately 4 weeks of age. Secondly, make sure that your kitten is inoculated as soon as your kitten is between 8 and 12 weeks old. Make sure to consult your vet as to what it is your kitten is being inoculated for. If it is your intention to have your kitten neutered or spayed, do consult your vet as to what the suitable age is. Kittens require a high-calorie diet packed with protein. Orphaned kittens may be fed a cat milk replacement formula every two to four hours, if they are too young to eat solid foods. Kittens shouldn’t be fed cow's milk because it doesn’t provide all of the necessary nutrients required by kittens. If your kitten is suffering from diarrhoea, it may be as a result of sugar or lactose intolerance. If your kitten does develop diarrhoea, it is best to seek advice from your vet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Keeping Koi

Koi are cold-water fish, but benefit from being kept in the 15-25 degrees C range. They don’t react well to long cold winter temperatures as their immune systems become inactive at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. The koi fish’s bright colors put it at a severe disadvantage against predators therefore a well-designed outdoor pond is very important when keeping koi fish. The pond should include areas too deep for herons to stand in, overhangs high enough above the water so that mammals can't reach in, and shade trees overhead to block the view of birds. It might be necessary to string nets or wires above the surface of the pond as to keep predators out. Also, include a pump and filtration system to keep the water clean and clear. Koi are an omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of foods, including peas, lettuce, and watermelon. Koi food is designed not only to be nutritionally balanced, but also to float so as to encourage the fish to come to the surface and feed. When they are eating, it is recommended to check koi for parasites and ulcers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pet Care Essentials

It is important to ensure that your pet has all the essentials required to lead a healthy and happy life. Ensure that your pet always has fresh drinking water. Give your pets food that’s made especially for them. Dogs should eat dog food; cats need cat food. Ensure that your pet has appropriate shelter to protect it from rain, cold and heat. Some animals need protection from noise, wind and other conditions. Exercise improves the physical and mental health of dogs. Be sure to give your pets the love they need. Pets also need vaccinations to protect them from disease, veterinary care is important to your pet’s health – and life. Use proper pet care products to control ticks and fleas. Make sure that your dog wears a collar and identity disc. You should be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s collar and his neck. Cats should only wear special cat collars with a quick release clip, to ensure that they do not strangle themselves.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What is Animal cruelty?

Chained dogs: cruel, unnatural and renders a dog powerless to protect himself or his territory.
Dog fighting: extremely abusive – and illegal.
Abandoned pets, horses and farm animals.
Failure of owners to seek veterinary treatment for pets: leaving sick or injured pets to suffer.
Hoarding of cats.
Human/wildlife conflict issues.
Sick or injured wildlife, pets and horses.
Poor handling and transportation of farm animals.
Lack of adequate care and stabling of horses.
Overloading cart horses and under- age driving.
Abusing horses to carry out illegal activities.

The welfare of animals is protected by law, under the Animals Protection Act. Convicted under the Animals Protection Act, offenders must live with a criminal record – and can face a fine of up to R60 000 or three years in prison. The magistrate can also impose a ban on pet ownership and order the offender to complete community service.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pet Rights

1. The right to be wanted
You can choose your pet, but your pet can’t choose you. Be sure that you are committed to caring for the animal before you bring it home.
2. The right to proper care
Pets depend on their owners to meet all of their needs.
3. The right to proper food and shelter
All animals need the right food to eat and fresh water every day, as well as protection from the elements.
4. The right to exercise
Lack of exercise and stimulation prevents pet wellbeing.
5. The right to health care
Take your pet to the vet if it’s sick or injured.
6. The right to safety
Watch kittens and puppies carefully and protect pets from the streets.
7. The right to help when in distress
If you see a sick, abused or neglected animal, report it to the SPCA immediately.
8. The right to be animals
An animal isn’t a person. Reward good behaviour and ignore ‘bad’ behaviour.
9. The right to love and company
Your pet loves to play and spend time with you and enjoys the company of other animals.
(SPCA 2009).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sterilisation: the benefits

There’s less risk of females developing mammary gland tumours, ovarian or uterine cancer and other dangerous diseases, especially if they’re spayed before six months of age. They have fewer urges to stray from home, which reduces the risk of them contracting disease, getting injured, being abused or stolen for ‘bait’ for dog fights or ending up at a shelter. Pregnancy and birth are the most stressful times in a female pet’s life. Physical condition, health and immunity are weakened. Complications can arise during pregnancy, at birth or after. Sterilised pets generally live longer, healthier lives. Surveys show that as much as 85% of dogs hit by cars are males that have not been neutered. Their urge to roam (because they’re not sterilised) often costs them their lives. Letting pets breed brings more animals into a world that’s already seriously over-populated. There are already far too many animals and too few homes. They need our help to reduce numbers until there are enough homes for all dogs and cats.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Store bought animals

I feel compelled to share the information that I recently came across, on the SPCA website, regarding animals for sale in pet shops. The SPCA regularly monitors the pet shops and the source of their puppies, kittens etc. It is reported that more often than not the animals for sale in these stores are rarely de-wormed or vaccinated and that they may be harbouring viruses that only manifest during stressful periods i.e. being bought by a new family. The new owners then have to deal with an ill animal and the heartache of the little sick pet. Buying animals from pet shops keeps unscrupulous breeders in business. However it is possible to be apart of the solution: Don’t buy puppies or kittens from pet shops. Approach the SPCA if you want to adopt an animal. The pets are vaccinated, de-wormed, sterilised, and micro-chipped and given an ID disc before they go home; and report any concerns about pet shops to your SPCA.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Constipated Kitty

Cats are usually less likely to open their bowels when the weather outside is wet and raining, or if their litter boxes are not cleaned regularly. Constipation is also more prevalent in older cats, and it is therefore important to provide your cat with lots of water and to try and keep it active. The most serious complication of constipation is that your cat may develop intestinal blockage. Make sure that your cat can still pass water, if not then seek immediate treatment. If your cat is constipated, it will be uncomfortable and won’t take interest in anything. Your cat will also have a lack of appetite and be reluctant to drink any water. Speak to your local vet, who will be able to prescribe a cat laxative treatment to help relieve constipation. If this is not treated your cat may develop ‘mega colon’ which may be highly painful, as the colon may swell to three times its size. Treatment involves surgery or careful manual removal of the colon’s contents, under anaesthetic.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Looking after your aging dog

As your dog gets older it is important to keep a keen eye on its health. Prevention is better than cure and through regular check-ups it will be easier to detect any irregularities or changes in your dog’s health. Tygerberg Animal Hospital recommends that you make an appointment with your vet for a demonstration on checking your pooch’s vital signs. You will be shown how to thoroughly take your pet’s temperature. The average temperature of a healthy dog is 38°C. Your vet will also tell you the normal pulse rate for your dog’s breed and size, as well as how to perform a respiration test and to check your pet’s circulation. Observing your pooch’s water intake and knowing how to check its hydration levels is also very important in monitoring your dog’s health and your vet will be able to provide you with all the information you require.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Problems as a result of over-feeding your fish

As previously mentioned, if your fish is overfed and the water is not changed regularly there are a number of problems that may result. Firstly, low oxygen levels may occur which virtually suffocates the fish, as excess food decays through aerobic processes. Secondly, fins can develop a moth-eaten appearance that often occurs when fish are stressed as a result of overfeeding or poor water conditions. Thirdly, fish may develop ‘fatty liver disease’ which affects the liver function and may result in death. Overfeeding is a major cause of algae bloom. Algal blooms may not be harmful, but in cases of red or blue algal blooms in the tank, the water may become highly toxic to your fish as well as omit a terrible odour. Finally overfeeding may result in clogged filters. The filters are unable to filter the water resulting in a very poor water quality for your fish and increased exposure to numerous fish diseases.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NOT another bite!

Over feeding your fish may result in serious tank-water problems, which may lead to the death of your fish. Fish are small, and don’t require as much food as we may think. Because feeding is one of the only ways we are able to interact with our pets, we tend to feed them every time we walk up to the tank, or we may misinterpret their swimming at the top of the tank as being hungry, which is not necessarily the case. Uneaten food that accumulates in the tank can produce toxic water chemistry changes. This may result in fish diseases and health problems. To avoid overfeeding feed your fish on a schedule (usually twice daily) and feed your fish the proper amount; generally one only feeds them as much as they can eat within 4 to 5 minutes. Always feed based on the number of inhabitants, not the size of your tank.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Little-Pet Care

Preventative health care will save your rodent-pets unnecessary distress. It is important that mice, rats, hamsters and other small pets be examined and their diet and husbandry be reassessed by your vet annually. During your pet’s annual exam include how long you’ve owned your pet; where it was bought; other pets in the house; cage materials and its hygiene; diet; medication use (if any); behavioural changes. Take note of what your vet mentions as his expertise shouldn’t be taken for granted. By providing your vet with as much information as possible and having your pet examined frequently you can help it to maintain good health. It is important, as a pet owner, not to feel ‘silly’ walking into the vet holding your little rodent. They require (and are entitled to) the same kind of care that we would give to our dogs and cats. Some vets have a special interest in small mammals and will appreciate the visit.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dog Grooming

Grooming your dog is an important part of pet care, even if your pet has a short, coarser coat. Regular grooming ensures that your dog is happy, healthy and comfortable. Some dogs shed their hair, and grooming rids the body of this excess, other dog species however, do not shed their hair and would require a trim much like us. Grooming improves the skin and the coat, helps with cleanliness of the dog, enables the owner to monitor the dog’s health, and allows for a bond to develop between the owner and the dog. Although dogs don’t require a regular bath, it is important to wash their coat with shampoo once in a while. Two washes ensure that the coat is clean, and make certain that all of the shampoo has been rinsed from the dog’s coat otherwise it may irritate the skin. Bathing your pooch too much may strip the coat of its natural oils and dry the hair out.

Friday, August 7, 2009


These little creatures are dreadful parasites that, to some degree, inhibit the quality of your pet’s life. It is important to ensure that your pet is protected against this parasite, as they may the cause for discomfort in the form of hair loss, rashes, or they may act as a vector for other diseases. Fleas, larvae and the eggs may be controlled by a number of products on the market. Some products prevent the larvae from developing chitin, killing them, but it is important to note that this will not kill the fleas. Remember to use flea medicines with care as some of them are strong enough to affect your pet, if not applied according to the instructions. One must also ensure that one’s home environment is rid of these beasties, by spraying appropriate product, and through regular vacuuming. Fleas also tend to thrive at higher temperatures (so be prepared for the summer months) and the use of air conditioning may also inhibit the fleas’ life cycle.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why not a Guinea Pig?

Are you wanting a pet, but don’t have the space for a dog or cat? Then maybe you should consider a Guinea pig. Guinea pigs get along in groups of two or more, and are kept in cages lined with wood shavings. Grass is the guinea pigs normal diet. It is also important to include fresh fruit and vegetables in their diet; otherwise they may suffer from a vitamin C deficiency. Pellets, obtained from your vet, are also acceptable. Guinea pigs are prone to obesity so do make sure that their diet is well balanced. They tend to be a little messy and startle very easily, and are know to either hide away, or freeze in place when they perceive danger. However, and I must admit I think this would be reason enough to get some, when guinea pigs get excited they perform little hops in the air.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

‘Green’ Cat

Millions of tonnes of kitty litter are disposed of annually, which may not be beneficial to our natural environment. However there are a number of biodegradable kitty litter products on the market today, which will solve your cat’s as well as your concerns. Biodegradable litters are made from a number of different plant resources, including pine wood pellets, recycled newspaper, clumping sawdust, barley, and dried orange peel, which makes them easy to make at home too. Most biodegradable litters last a lot longer than clay litters and also have better deodorising properties than conventional kitty litter. This litter can then be composted at home, instead of being thrown into the garbage. Cats that are asthmatic or allergic to conventional kitty litter may also benefit from these forms of litter, creating a friendlier environment for you and your cat. Grain-based poultry feed also provides an economical substitute to products marketed specifically as cat litter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I’ll make it fit!

I have reached a conclusion! Small dogs take up the ENTIRE bed, but big dogs? Big dogs make sure that they fit! No blanket too small, no pillow too minute, no rug too petite. Actually the smaller the better! If that is where they want to ‘make their nest’ (as my mom would say) then that is where it will be. It usually begins with a ten to fifteen minute pawing of the material in question. Heaven forbid that there be a lump of stuffing in the wrong place, not that there is much left to ‘lump’ anyway. This is followed by systematic twisting and turning, stomping and standing as to ensure that every corner of the tiny piece of blanket is exposed as to maximise its use. You will then find that with a breathless groan the said ‘big dog’ will promptly curl up as tightly as possible onto their blanky only to wake up on its back, paws in the air and mouth wide open. Entertainment like no other, I say.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Animal Warfare

Dogs were used in warfare even before the Roman Empire. The Romans would adorn their dogs with chain mail and spiked metal collars for protection while the dogs obediently adhered to attack formations made specifically for the dogs. Dogs were also used in logistics and communication during warfare. During World War I, dogs were utilised to pull carts laden with artillery, or the wounded. They were also used to carry messages during battle or to pull telephone lines from one place to another. In today’s warfare dogs are still very much utilised, however they are rarely used in front-line arrangement. The German Shepard is used, in the police force, for the detection of bombs, drugs or people trapped under rubble. Military Working dogs continue to serve as trackers, search and rescue scouts as well as mascots. Retired working dogs are often adopted as pets or are used as therapy dogs.