Tag: cat health

Ear Mites 101 – Keeping Your Pet Mite Free!

Has your furry friend by doing a lot of unexplained ear scratching lately? It might be a good idea to check them out for the dreaded ear mites.

Ear mites are a highly contagious eight-legged parasite that infects the ear canal of pets. The icky creatures feed on the oils and waxes in your pet’s ear. While pets of any age can get them, they are most often seen in young animals, and more frequently in cats. If you suspect your pet has contracted an infestation, look for these tell-tale symptoms:

Symptoms of Ear Mites In Pets

  • Excessive scratching of the ears and head shaking
  • Scabs, raw patches, and scratches in or around your pets ear
  • A “coffee ground” looking debris in your pet’s ear

While a case of ear mites isn’t a huge deal, it does need to be treated promptly. If you catch it early, many times you can treat your pet at home using over-the-counter products that you swab your pet’s ears with. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to go to your vet to get a proper diagnosis though. Other more serious conditions can mimic ear mites and it’s important to rule these out first.

While ear mites themselves can be easily treated with the proper medicine, the scratching your pet does can result in serious infections that require further treatment. Severe scratching can also lead to blood vessels rupturing, something that may require surgery. Be sure not to take this condition lightly.

If your pet has contracted a case be sure to check any other pets you have who may have come into contact with them. Since ear mites are so contagious it’s likely that if one pet has them, they all do. Don’t forget to thoroughly wash all your pets bedding and clean the areas the frequent most!

photo credit: hannemiriam via photopin (license)

Spay or Neuter Your Pet – The In’s and Out’s!

Spaying or neutering your pet is a very important aspect of pet ownership. Doing so helps to keep your pet healthy and keeps the population down at animal shelters. Here are a few bits of spay or neuter information you need!

Age

While there is some variation on what the best age to spay or neuter a pet is, the average seems to be about four months. Some vets advocate two months as being old enough and encourage this since younger animals can heal faster, while others think one should wait until six months. Both cats and dogs can become capable of reproduction around five months. It’s important to be aware of this if you plan on waiting till the six-month mark.

Can I spay if my pet just had babies?

You should not spay or neuter you pet while they are nursing. They can become pregnant again during this time though. It is important for you to keep your pet away from unneutered males until their babies are weaned. This can be 5-6 weeks for kittens 4-5 for puppies.

Spay or Neuter Cost

Spaying and neutering isn’t’ free so it’s important that you factor this into pet costs before you commit to bringing one home. Prices will vary from place to place. Because this procedure is so important many areas offer low-cost clinics. Check out the ASPCA website here to find a low-cost clinic near you!

Other reasons for spaying and neutering

This procedure can help with several territorial issues pet owners may deal with. Territorial behaviours can be as unpleasant as spraying to mark turf, or as dangerous as aggression toward both you and other animals. Spaying or neutering can also help to keep your pet from wandering. The term “catting around” is based on the likeliness of male cats roaming far from home while looking for mates.

What is the recovery time?

Fourteen weeks seems to be about average. This may vary based on your pet’s age and other variables specific to them. It’s important to follow all your vet’s instructions post surgery!

 

 

Paws – Amazing Facts About Your Pet’s Paws!

Paws, what do we know about them? Aside from most pets having four of them, not much! Did you know that your pets paws are a big part of how they experience the world? Check out these awesome facts and cultivate a broader appreciation for your pets feet!

Facts About Pet Paws

  • The size and shape of your dog’s paw shows the type of climate they were made for. Large, wide paws are often found on breeds that come from cold climates with lots of snow. These large feet act like snowshoes!  Furthermore, water breeds like Retrievers have webbed toes!
  • Did you know that cat claws grow from the bones in their foot, not a nailbed like the human fingernail? This is why declawing is bad for cats!
  • Both dogs and cats walk on their “toes” instead of their heels like humans do
  • Some agile dog breeds have “cat-like” feet, with high arches and a narrow width. This allows them a better range of quick movements. Dobermans and Greyhounds are two breeds with “cat feet”.
  • Cats have unique fingerprints too! Cat paws have unique grooves that leave unique prints. Did you know you can use your cat’s paw to unlock your iPhone?!

  • The thick foot pads which make up the “paw” are actually made of fatty tissue deposits. This acts as an insulator allowing your pet to run around on snow or warm surfaces that would burn our sensitive feet. Please note though – while pet paws are better insulated they can still get frost bitten or burnt from hot asphalt!
  • These thick foot pads also act as cushions and shock absorbers in cats, and help keep their steps quiet while hunting!
  • People often say dogs don’t have sweat glands. Not true! Dogs have sweat glands on their noses and paws!

 

photo credit: Ifor’s baked bean paws via photopin (license)
photo credit: Mika Feet via photopin (license)

April Is Pet First Aid Awareness Month!

Would you know how to administer first aid to your pet in an emergency? Do you even have emergency numbers quickly accessible? You don’t need to have an accident prone pet to realize it’s just good policy to make sure that you’ve got an action plan in case of an emergency! This April, take some time to brush up on what you need to have and know – your pet’s counting on you!

Pet First Aid Refresher Tips

  • Get the App! Did you know that the American Red Cross has a First Aid app just for pets? It provides helpful information for both dog and cat owners in emergency and disaster situations!
  • Update your Pet First Aid Kit! Don’t have one? Get/Make one now! You should check your pet first aid kit annually to ensure that all the supplies are still properly packaged, any medications are not out of date, and nothing has leaked. If you don’t have one, this needs to be on your must list! There are a wide array of pre-packaged kits out there for sale. Bump those store bought ones up against this list from the Humane Society to make sure it includes everything you need. Or, use that list to make your own! Be sure to include comfort items for your pet too!
  • Know the basics! It’s apt that April is pet first aid month since Spring means more time outdoors for everyone! It also means that pets are at a higher risk for being victims of the native flora and fauna. Know what plants to keep your pets away from, and what to do in case of snake bites, bee stings, etc.
  • Vaccinations! Check your vet records to ensure your pets vaccinations are all up to date! This includes wormers, flea and tick prevention, dog flu, and rabies!
  • Check those emergency numbers!  Maybe you’ve changed vets? Or moved to a new location? Make sure that the numbers for both your regular vet and the nearest animal hospital are still accurate and quickly accessible for the whole family!

Don’t forget to share your emergency contacts and details about your first aid kit with any pet sitters you hire!
photo credit: Link’s Check-Up via photopin (license)

 

 

Poison Prevention and Your Pet

March is Pet Poison Prevention Month – a cause that needs regular awareness. Carelessness and over-confidence on many pet owners parts lead to pet poisonings every year. While many animals have natural instincts that help them avoid unhealthy things in nature, they are less keen when it comes to man-made things left accessible in their territory. As pet owners, it’s up to us to make sure our animal’s homes are safe and poison-free at all times! See our tips below to stay on your toes and keep your pet safe!

Keeping Your Pet Away From Poison

  • Household cleaners – As Spring cleaning gets underway it’s easy to get careless with your cleaning products and leave them within a pet’s reach. If you can’t banish your pet from the area you are working in until you’re done, it’s important to always stay aware and not become distracted. If your pet has a problem with drinking out of the toilet, make sure to never leave toilet cleaner unflushed. Unattended mop buckets with cleaners in them can also pose a threat to a thirsty pet.
  • Mouse, Rat, or Insect poison –  These are three types of poison people tend to tuck away into areas pets can’t get to – the backs of cupboards, closets, shelves, etc.  These carefully concealed poisons can become a threat to your pet when you forget about them and then drag things out of a closet or cupboard, potentially bringing the poison with it. Always be mindful this! Especially if you have recently rented or moved into a new place. There may be poisons left in nooks and crannies that you’re not aware of!
  • Fertilizers & Herbicides – Don’t think your home is the only place you have to be worried about poisoning your pet! Newly fertilized lawns can harm pets too. In addition to storing lawn and garden poisons well away from your pet, be sure not to let them spend time in newly treated areas. Remember you can track poisons too, so keep your shoes out of reach!

Keep your pets away

from areas herbicides

have been used!

photo credit: Grass Beater First Aid- By Chris_Alberti CCBy2.0 via photopin (license)

Skincare For Your Pet This Winter

With all that cuddly fur it’s easy to forget that some pets need skincare too! Just when our pets think they can take a break from summer scratching, winter comes in with a whole different kind of itchiness! Dry skin doesn’t just affect humans. Some types of pets or specific pet breeds who are already prone to skin disorders suffer endlessly during the winter months. Don’t just leave your pet to scratching though! Check out these skincare tips and give your pet some relief!

Winter Skincare Tips For Your Pet!

  • Don’t stop brushing! – Just because the shedding season is over doesn’t mean that you can put the brush up! Brushing your pet helps to keep the fur free from matting and dandruff and helps allow your pets skin to breath easier. Your first step in pet skincare is to get in the habit of regular brushings!
  • Think before you bathe! – Because baths can be drying, it’s best to avoid bathing your pet unless you actually need to. Fortunately, since summer has gone, you should be able to set aside the flea and tick shampoos in favor of gentler options. There are many pet skincare lines out there and you can get as fancy as you want. We suggest you look for something sodium-laureth sulfate free (SLS free, or “sulfate free”) with skin conditioners.
  • Feed them healthy fats! – Just like with humans, good skincare starts from the inside out! Make sure that year round (especially if you have an older pet) they are getting plenty of healthy fats in their diet. Look for pet foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6, or consider supplementing your pet’s diet with a little canned fish.

Skincare for your pet!

  • Rinse their feet! – If you’re taking your pet out for walks in the winter time, consider rinsing their paws when you get back home. Salt and de-icers can become irritants and encourage your pet to lick/chew on the bottoms of their feet – in addition to allowing them to ingest potentially harmful chemicals. Got a dog walker or pet nanny? Be sure ask them to do foot rinses/wipings!
  • Deal with excessive scratching – If you notice your pet scratching or chewing on themselves more than usual. Nix it quickly and find the source of the problem. A little itchy dry skin can turn into a trip to the vet your pet gives themselves sores. Try putting an article of pet clothing on their body to shield their skin. If they already have inflamed looking spots, consider dabbing with some non-antibacterial, original Neosporin. For many pets this is same (even if licked) but check with your vet first if you have concerns!

Be sure to always let your pet nanny know if your pet is suffering

 

Cats and the Tips For Health and Happiness

Cats are pretty self-sufficient creatures. They keep to themselves aside from demanding your focus while you’re trying to do something else (reading anyone?). This doesn’t mean there aren’t important things that a cat owner need to know. Sometimes their ability toward self-reliance means their needs can be overlooked. Your best bet is understanding your cat’s needs and personality!

Cat naps in a sunny windowsill!

Tips For Your Cats Happiness

  • Grooming – Yup. It doesn’t matter that your cat takes baths all the time and is a fastidious groomer. Just like most other fur-covered animals they can benefit greatly from a regular brushing. A regular brushing, especially during shedding, can help cut down on fur balls. This ensures your cat’s got a happier belly and less clean up on  your end. Don’t forget to provide them with a good scratching post too to keep their nails trim!
  • Naps – We have the term “cat nap” for a reason! Cats will spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping – often times in short increments. It’s important that you respect their need for lots of sleep. Depending on your cat’s personality they may prefer to nap somewhere near you. Other cats may prefer to the most remote place your home has to offer. They will often like warm and/or sunny spots. Make sure your cat has easy access to their favorite nap spot!
  • Keep the Litter Box Clean – It’s no secret cats are clean animals! Keeping their litter box cleaned out makes for a happier cat and a cleaner home too! In addition to regular scooping be sure to wash your kitties box each time you change the litter with hot soapy water too! Don’t settle for the cheapest litter out there either. Opt for an eco-friendly variety that is free from harmful dust or chemicals that can cause health problems in cats over prolonged use.
  • Scheduled feedings – Keep your cat happy and healthy with a regular feeding schedule. Having a schedule can help keep you from overfeeding and prevent obesity. Many people find it works well to feed in the morning coinciding with family breakfast, and then again with the family dinner. A cat with constant access to food is at risk of obesity, a growing problem with cats in America that can lead to shorter, less happy life spans.

Bonus Tip: Cats LOVE empty boxes!

photo credit: My box! via photopin (license)
photo credit: The windowcat train has had a collision via photopin (license)

Pet Care As Your Companion Ages – Signs and What to Do

Pet care evolves throughout each furry critters life-span. Just like with humans, the way you care for a baby is different from that of an adult or elderly pet. Do you know how to properly care for your pet at the different stages in their life?

The unique pet care required for young animals seems to be well taught. Pet owners are quick to provide soft and easily digested foods for those that are recently weaned. Many also understand that growing pets need extra nutrients and plenty of play time to develop a strong body. Vaccinations and wormers are also all musts. As they approach adulthood, pet care often becomes more standardized unless you have a pet with special needs. In most cases, it consists simply of a nutritious feeding twice a day with plenty of fresh water and daily exercise.

Pet Care for Aging Companions

What about pet care for aging pets though? Unfortunately, this often gets overlooked for a multitude of reasons. It’s easy to forget that your pet ages a lot faster than you and will likely enter their golden years long before you. When your pet does begin to need specialized care it’s not always obvious. Maybe you’re too busy or distracted to notice the subtle struggles your pet is undergoing? Be sure to take note of some simple signs and know how to care for your pet accordingly.

Aging Pet Care Tips

Talk to your vet – It sounds obvious but if you’re less than prompt about those yearly check-ups and only hit the vets office when something is clearly amiss, you may not realize your pets true age. Talking to your vet about when you should start looking to change up your pets nutrition and habits is a great way to stave off those symptoms of age and ensure your pets continued comfort.

Notice your pet’s energy levels – Are they ready for a rest much sooner than usual? Do they act languid before their old play routine is over? Take note of your pet’s energy levels and adjust play time accordingly. Note that this doesn’t mean stop playing with your pet – just play with them differently. Shorten their walking circuit. Shrink their play space so their toys aren’t so spread out. Take them for shorter but more frequent frolics. Essentially know their limits and cater to them accordingly.

Watch their eating and bathroom habits – As pets age, they sometimes need softer food that is easy to digest just like young animals do. If you find they are eating less or seem to have trouble chewing try switching foods. Additionally, if your pet has always had good bathroom habits but lately they seem prone to accidents or going outside their box or “zone” you may need to make adjustments. If your cat uses a litter box try getting one with a lower entry point for easier access. If your dog waits to go outside try introducing puppy pads so there is a safe place for them to go in the house in case they can’t hold it.

Test for nutritional deficiencies – Some pets will experience hair loss and vision or hearing problems. In most cases, the level of pet care you provide will be limited to simply trying to make their life with the disability easier. Some of these problems can be lessened or slowed by correcting nutritional deficiencies associated with age. Consider having your pet checked regularly as they age.

 

 

Bath Time – What You Should Know About Bathing Your Pet

With all the extra summer romping around it’s not unusual for your pet to need a bath a little more often. Taking a bath may seem super straight forward to us but for pets things get a little more complicated. Does your pet have skin allergies that may make it sensitive to soap? Is a bath dangerous for my type of pet? If my pet cleans itself, do I ever need to give it a bath?

Bath time!

Bath Basics

Dogs need regular baths, it’s a simple fact. They don’t groom themselves and get up to (and in to) all sorts of unpleasant thing. Dog baths are pretty straight forward barring any specific skin allergies or water phobias. The basic steps to giving most pets a good bath are as follows:

  • Give them a good brush down to get rid of any loose fur or mats
  • Place them in an un-stopped up tub so the water drains freely and poor warm water over their coat.
  • Be sure the water is penetrating your pets coat of fur.
  • Lather them up with pet shampoo! Be sure to use appropriate shampoo for your pet. Do you need extra flea protection? Is your pet sensitive to fragrances or detergents?
  • Rinse with warm water
  • Towel off!

Some pet owners may add in a pet safe conditioning step or even rinse their pooch with a little vinegar to help shine the coat and nix any lingering scents.

What about other pets though?

    • Cats – Cats groom themselves but on occasion may require some extra help. Cats can get into some sticky and smelly situations too and it’s perfectly safe to give them a bath. In addition to following the steps above you may consider trimming their claws before hand and loosely tucking a couple cotton balls in their ears to keep water from getting in them.
    • Rabbits – It is often highly advised against giving a rabbit a bath. They are prone to hypothermia once water penetrates their fur to their skin. Rabbits can also die of fright and are more prone to injure themselves when frightened. If your bunny really gets into a mess that they just can’t handle themselves consider a good brushing followed by a thorough wiping down with a wet cloth.
    • Potbelly Pigs – Pigs may be associated with being dirty but they are actually very clean critters! Under normal circumstances there is no need to bathe your pig. Brush them and wipe them off like a bunny and you should be good to go!
    • Hedgehogs – Hedgehogs usually love baths! A sink with a small amount of water in it is often a great source of fun for them! Be sure the water is not too deep or warm and never leave them unattended. Dry thoroughly when done!

photo credit: The mascot pup after a bath 1943 via photopin (license)

 

Shaving Your Pet To Beat The Heat- Is It Okay?

Many pet owners who watch their pets labor under the heat and humidity of the summer months have wondered about shaving off their pet’s thick fur coat. From rabbits to sheep-dogs many pets are burdened with having to stay “bundled-up” even in the hottest of months. Sometimes the easiest way to address your pet’s suffering is by doing the same thing you do when it gets hot – take off those winter clothes and chop off your hair! Assuming you can even get near your pet with a pair of clippers, would it be safe?

Is Shaving My Pet An Option?

One of the first things to remember is that pet hair isn’t like human hair and it’s not like clothes. Pet fur serves more purposes than just providing warmth like keeping an animal’s skin dry and protecting it from pests (like mosquitos) and it’s environment (like thorns and sunburns). Many animals have “built-in” systems that their body uses to regulate body temperature that the average human is unaware of. Not to mention shedding – nature’s way of removing your pet’s fur coat. Each pet variety is different though when it comes to the shaving question.

Cats – Cats are excellent at regulating their body temperatures. They are also often more mobile than dogs since they aren’t kept on leashes or in outdoor pens. This means they are more capable of moving to cooler spots if they find themselves getting uncomfortable. If you happen to have a cat with a particularly long fur coat who spends the majority of their summer days outside and you see visible signs of heat distress, consult your veterinarian about a quick trim. Shaving a cat is never recommended, but using a pair of clippers to reduce your cat’s fur coat to about an inch in length is often considered acceptable. Keeping your cat’s weight down and regular brushings are two additional great ways to combat heat fatigue.

Know the risks before shaving your cat!

Dogs – Shaving dogs is often a far more common occurrence. There are so many different breeds of dogs and their fur coats vary widely. If you have a breed that comes from a  northern climate and is bred for much cooler weather than where you live, definitely weigh your options. Dogs also have built in regulators for body temperature, but these will work less effectively in a Siberian Husky that lives in Georgia. Summer shaving is often used in dogs as a control for matted fur, parasites, and heat exhaustion in especially wooly breeds. As always though be sure to consult with your vet before you break out the clippers.

Rabbits – First of all we have to commend you if you can get near a rabbit with a pair of clipper running! Particularly long-haired breeds like the Angora rabbit almost always must be shaved (it’s actually called “sheared”) or have some attention given to their luxurious coat. Please note though that shaving the average pet rabbit is not recommended. Rabbits do tend to be prone to heat exhaustion but they also easily suffer from hypothermia. While it may provide your bunny some relief during the hot days it can harm them when it cools down at night or gets rainy. Opt for bringing your rabbit indoors during the heat of the day or keeping a frozen water bottle in their hutch.

Always remember to check with a vet before you shave your pet! Follow the basic rules of summer pet care by ensuring fresh water is always available, shade is accessible, and never leave your pet in a hot vehicle!

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