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.