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!