Tag: health

Gut Bacteria – Keeping Your Pet In Balance!

Do you know what “gut bacteria” is and how important of a role it plays in your pet’s health? Recent studies on the topic have pointed to the conclusion that maintaining a healthy level of good gut bacteria is a key factor for good overall health in both humans and their pets! So, what is gut bacteria and what does it do? What happens without it? What can you do to help your pet maintain the right levels? Let us teach you!

Bacteria? Good? Yup!

While stomach acid helps break down the foods you eat, thousands of tiny little microbes do the real work! These helpful little buggers neutralize toxins, kill off bad bacteria and yeasts that try to overgrow, and assist in vitamin absorption!

 “The gut is the largest immune organ in the body,” says Susan G. Wynn, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist in Atlanta

Low Population?

Several factors can affect your pet’s level of the good bacteria. The balance is frequently upset by consuming things they shouldn’t and/or picking up parasites from things they eat. Taking antibiotics can also upset the flora & fauna of their bellies. Be sure to talk to your vet about gut bacteria levels if your pet is prescribed an antibiotic. Some signs of an improper balance include vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation – though your pet can have moderately low levels for an extended period of time that will affect them in other ways like malnutrition, or low immunity.

Growing & Maintaining Your Pet’s Gut Bacteria

Maintaining your pet’s gut bacteria is the best option! You can do this by ensuring they aren’t eating a lot of human foods (especially processed ones!) and aren’t given the opportunity to consume things in the wild that may have parasites. If you’re laughing at the latter option there though, talk to your vet about temporarily introducing a probiotic specifically for your pet and breed. Probiotics can be given in the form of pills, powders, or a liquid that can be added to food. They work two ways – lowering the pH of the gut creating a healthier environment for good bacteria to flourish, and by replenishing said bacteria!
photo credit: ynaka29 Happy Laika on Bed at Taconic, Kimpton Hotel via photopin (license)

Wet Dog Smell Explained – Why & What You Can Do!

The term “wet dog smell” is so universally relatable it’s used to describe things other than a wet dog! No grooming, bath, conditioner or scented oils are powerful enough to make it go away entirely. Where does it come from? What can you do about it?

The Source of Wet Dog Smell

Dogs may be furry but their skin is very similar to ours. Underneath all that fluffiness their skin excretes oils (called sebum) that help to moisturize and protect it. When this oil builds up around the hair follicles of your dog’s fur bacteria can start to grow. This growth is spurred by the addition of water. The bacteria create the smell that we (not so fondly) refer to as “wet dog smell”.

Treatment & Prevention

That sounds a little dramatic. This isn’t a dangerous or life-threatening situation, but it is mighty unpleasant. Here are some ways you can deal with and prevent a return!

  • Humans have to wash regularly to keep sebum from building up and wash away dead skin cells. Your pup needs this service too! Regularly removing build up can be a big help! Don’t go overboard though – remember that oil serves a purpose. How often should “regular” washing occur? Try a couple times a month. You may reduce this down to once a month in the winter when skin tends to get drier.
  • Regular deep (but gentle) brushing can be helpful in between baths to loosen and remove buildup from the hair follicles. This may be more effective on short-coated pets than long ones.
  • Wash all their things regularly! Imagine if you never washed your bed sheets or clothes? You’d be pretty smelly too, no matter how many baths you took. Toss all things washable through a wash cycle every time you bathe your pet. If something’s not washable, spray it down with some white vinegar, wipe it down, and air it out in the sunshine regularly.

photo credit: carterse Dusty Loves the Water via photopin (license)

Tips Caring For A Pregnant Pet

Congratulations! It’s a boy and a girl and a boy and a girl and… If you’ve got a furry expectant mother on your hands you’re likely to see some different and new behavior. A cat’s gestation period is between 64-67 days, a dog’s is 58-68 days, and a rabbit’s is only 31 days!  You might be wondering what your role is as a standby expectant pet parent? Are there steps you can take to help your pregnant pet? You bet!

Pregnant Pet Tips

  • Lower the Litter Box – If your cat or rabbit is expecting kittens (yup, baby bunnies are called kittens too!) you might need to amend their litter box. High litter boxes can be difficult to get in and out of with a big belly! Consider getting a plastic litter box and cutting one side out of it so they can simply step in and step out. Be sure to place it on a large mat to help with clean-up!
  • Gotta Dog? More Frequent Walks – If you have a dog that you take outside to use the bathroom you may need to make these trips more frequently. Especially if you can’t adapt them to using puppy pads. To maximize your pet’s comfort, you may even need to let them out in the middle of the night too. Unless you want to clean up accidents in the morning!
  • Increased Nutrition – Just like humans, pregnant and nursing pets will have increased nutritional needs. Do your research and talk to your vet about how you may need to change your specific pets food and feeding times to meet their new needs.
  • Provide Nest Material and a Safe Spot – Ultimately your pet will choose where their babies will be born, but you can “offer suggestions” by ensuring they have a comfy out-of-the-way spot with all the things they need to nest.
  • Know Your Pets Behavior – The better you know your pet, the better you’ll be able to address their specific needs and tell when their behavior might be signaling the time is near!

Be sure to find good homes for your new critters and get them fixed as soon as you can! Puppy’s  & kittens can be fixed at about 8 weeks, and rabbits are usually around 6 months.
photo credit: Sukanto Debnath One day old Mongrel pups via photopin (license)

Organize You & Your Pet’s Life This Spring!

Somewhere along the line pet ownership got complicated. Between grooming equipment, travel items, medicine, and toys a pet-friendly home can get pretty cluttered! Don’t waste that valuable time allotted for the dog park trying to find the leash! Check out our top tips to organize your pet-friendly lifestyle this Spring!

Organize Now!

Accessorize – I know, you’re thinking “the last thing I need is more pet stuff!”, but hear me out! When it comes to grooming your pet you’ve got a brush, nail clippers, and shampoo – if you’re a bare minimalist! Maybe you have a moisturizing winter shampoo and a flea & tick summer shampoo? What about a toothbrush? Ear swabs? Conditioner/lotion? Things can add up fast. Instead of cluttering these things up in your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen, why not consider a pet grooming caddy? This handy little one below from Everything Mary is under $30 and has room enough to accommodate and organize all your pets grooming needs and more!

Health Needs? Even a healthy pet may need to take medicine from time to time, or even a vitamin. You’ve seen those day-of-the-week pill organizers? Check out this cute pet version from ForgettingthePill.com!

This keeps pills organized, is great for travel and easy to slip into a grooming caddy, first aid or emergency kit, or a medicine drawer or bag.

Have a Car Kit! Don’t waste time looking for the leash, water bowl, or any other travel accessories your pet may need – keep an extra in a travel kit for your pet! Travel kits that are kept in your vehicle are a great idea for quick trips to the dog park, road trips, or to double as an overnight bag if your and/or your pet are staying away from home. You can include a few treats, food, fresh bottled water, toy, leash, and anything else specific to your pets needs!

Consider a Toy Box! Always stepping on a squeaky toy, or even worse, a spiky toy? You put them “away” in whatever area of the home your dog “owns” yet they always get drug back out? Consider a toy box! Adorable and functional for that pet that has everything!

Prep Your Pet – Spring Into Action Now!

That time of year we’ve all been eagerly waiting for – Spring! Throw those windows up and welcome the fresh air! As we roll back into motion after winter there is so much to do. Twice as much if you’re a proud pet parent! In addition to thinking about your tan and planning summer fun, there are important steps you need to take to prep your pet for the return of warm weather!

Spring Pet Prep

  • Vaccinations – Is your pet up to date? Warm weather can bring your pet into contact with risks you need strong vaccinations against. Digging in the dirt? Contact with wildlife? Ask your vet to ensure your pets rabies, parvo, and other vaccinations are all up to date!
  • Collar with Contact Info – Lost pet numbers always rise with the temperatures. Even if your pet is microchipped make sure they have a secure collar with your contact details clearly listed on it!
  • Heartworm Prevention – Prep your pet for the incoming mosquito season before it arrives! Whether you treat with oral medication or a shot, make sure your pet stays healthy by administering their spring dose!
  • Fleas and Ticks – These buggers always make it out earlier than you expect and then before you know it, you’re fighting an infestation instead of doing simple Spring Prep! Many pet owners keep up flea and tick prevention year round, but if you’re a pet parent that lets it lapse over the winter, prep now! If you’ve got a new puppy or kitten check with your vet first to determine dosing for their size and age!

Whew! Now take them for a treat after all those shots and medicine and make sure this spring they hit a few mud puddles with you! Happy Spring!

photo credit: The_Little_GSP 0230 Happy Spring Puppy via photopin (license)

Dental Care – The Do’s and Don’t’s For Your Pet!

While dental care may be a priority to you, sometimes our pets chompers can be overlooked. Do you need to get down on their level with a toothbrush daily? How about floss? Lots of pet owners can be a little confused or clueless when it comes to dental care for their pets. Let these do’s and don’t’s guide you along the right path!

Dental Care Do’s and Don’t’s!

  • DO talk to your vet regularly about your pet’s dental health! They will be your greatest source of information about how you should or shouldn’t care for your pet.
  • DO make sure your vet checks for broken or damaged teeth at regular check-ups. Sometimes there is no telling what our pets get up to without us and a broken (and painful) tooth may go unnoticed by pet parents.
  • DO brush your dog’s teeth!
  • DON’T use human toothpaste! Get a specially formulated toothpaste for animals.
  • DO consider teeth cleaning chew toys and treats. Just make sure they aren’t hard enough to cause tooth damage (i.e. some bones…) Never give your cat or dog something to chew on that you would find too hard for yourself. Their jaws may be stronger, but their teeth aren’t!
  • DON’T ignore bad breath. Yes, your pet’s breath may not always be minty fresh, but don’t just dismiss an unpleasant dental odor as “doggy breath” or “kitty breath”. It can be a sign of a more serious issue that can lead to kidney or heart disease if left unchecked.
  • DO feed small animals like rabbits, gerbils, and hamsters fresh timothy hay regularly. Not only does this keep their digestion on track, it also helps to wear down their ever growing teeth, which can be a real problem!
  • DO talk to your vet about periodic professional teeth cleaning – with anesthesia!
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Diet Changes For Your Pet? Read This First!

For most people feeding your dog is simply a matter of grabbing the dry kibble, putting some water in the bowl and hope that your pup loves it.

There is, however, a new movement of feeding dogs a raw diet or supplementing their diets with fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. Of course, dogs evolved from wolves, and therefore they enjoy a diet high in protein, specifically meat based products.

For many of us, knowing what human food to feed a dog can be a challenge. A diet that’s high in fat, sugar, and fillers is bad for dogs – and us, so why should we feed them unhealthy food? Luckily Pet Gear Lab has produced a super handy chart which you can download, print out and stick on your fridge. It lists all the common foods which you can freely feed your pup and those which you should feed moderately, or avoid altogether. It’s handy for kids, elderly parents or even a pet nanny to refer to when they feel like giving your pets tit bits.

This is what it looks like:

Head on over to Pet Gear Lab to grab the download and let us know how you’re getting on with introducing human food into your dog’s diet!

Chocolate, Candies, and Flowers – Keep Your Pet Safe!

Whether this Valentines Day finds you committed or single, your pet loves you unconditionally! The way they are always happy to see you, always up for snuggles, and the affectionate ways they bring you gifts or help you out with your grooming make up for not sending you chocolate once a year.  All the more reason to ensure your celebrations aren’t putting them at risk.

The Chocolate Factor and Others

  • If there is a holiday more associated with chocolate, we don’t know what it could be! You may know that chocolate can kill your dog, did you also know it’s bad for cats too? Chocolate causes abnormally high heart rates in animals. It’s super important to make sure your pet never has access to it! Since chocolate can cause cardiac arrest, make sure you know how to perform CPR!

 

  • How about those flowers delivered to your door? They look beautiful and smell great but could also be toxic to your pet! Lilies are especially toxic to cats and many other flower varieties can cause upset stomachs and vomiting. Even if the flower itself is not toxic to your pet, many floral arrangments are sprayed with chemicals to enhance their look and extend their life.
  • Sugar-free doesn’t mean pet-friendly. Xylitol is often found in sugar-free chocolate and candies (Gum too!). This ingredient is especially toxic to pets. It’s in you and your pets best interest to keep all sweets out of reach!
  • Ribbons, bows, and candles. You’ve done great making sure those chocolates are out of reach (or gone already…) but what about the box? Delicious smelling candy wrappers, bows, and ribbons can pose choking hazards for many pets, and potentially cause intestinal blockage if consumed. And how about those candles that set the mood for a romantic evening? Make sure their not where a pet can know them over!

photo credit: DaPuglet Valentine Pug via photopin (license)

Whiskers – Your Pet’s Sixth Sense in Action!

Whiskers – just about every fuzzy creature around has them. They stick out of cheeks and snouts, hang off chins and even span out like exaggerated eyebrows. They are found in predators and prey alike, and cats even have them on the back of their front legs! What do these peculiar hairs do though and why are they so common? Here are some interesting facts about your pet’s whiskers!

All About Whiskers

  • They are much different from normal pet hair, or human hair! They are embedded much more deeply and send information about an animal’s surroundings straight to their sensory nerves. This helps animals have a clearer sense of their surroundings knowing how and when to react to them.
  • Did you know that whiskers will shed, just like fur? Don’t worry if you find one laying around. It’ll grow back!
  • Not all whiskers are straight! Some breeds of cats can curl!
  • Don’t trim them! Trimming can give an animal a distorted sense of their surrounds. Some critters, like rabbits, can’t see right in front of them and whiskers are pertinent to keep them from bumping into things!
  • They help gauge width. Ever wonder how your cat or rabbit just knows they can fit into a tight spot? Those long hairs help tell them the width of spaces without being able to see them. If the whiskers fit, the body can fit!
  • They are so sensitive, they respond to vibrations in the air!
  • The cat with the longest whiskers lives in Finland and is named “Missi”. In 2005 they were measured at 7.5 inches long!
  • Whisker Stress is a real thing! If your pet eats or drinks out of a narrow food or water dish they can develop this disorder. The constant stimulus every time they eat or drink can become uncomfortable. This may lead to your pet not eating or drinking enough, or attempting to drag their food out of their bowl before consumption.

photo credit: y_egan “Whiskers on kittens…” via photopin (license)

Thanksgiving Cooking Dangers and Your Pets

Two days until Thanksgiving and in some households the cooking has already begun! As the pressures of the holidays mount be sure you’re not overlooking your pets safety! We’ve done some of the work for you and put together a handy list of new risks you should be aware of as you gear your kitchen up!

Thanksgiving Cooking Dangers

  • Exposing poisons – Be careful while you hunt for that turkey platter or electric knife you only use once a year. In your rummagings, things like mouse poison, household cleaners or toxins, or other things you try to keep out of your pets space may become exposed or spill. Be aware of your environment, making sure once you’ve succeeded in your quest that the floor or counter is free of new debris.
  • New cords – With the unusually high volume of cooking it’s pretty common to break out new appliances or set things up in places you normally don’t. Make sure these are pet-free zones!
  • Food exposure – All those yummy smells are going to attract more than just your human guests! It’s best during the flurry of meal preparation to keep your pets put up. They’ll have a keen eye for dropped morsels and will likely be faster than you at the clean-up! While many things are harmless, a splatter of chocolate from your pie or errant bone can be lethal.
  • Hot things – Yes, you have hot things in your kitchen every time you cook, but this time of year it’s the volume of hot things that pose the risk. As you try to multi-task the danger to your pet (and yourself!) goes up! Try to not have more than one burner going at a time so you’re not handling boiling water, hot grease, and pans from the oven all at once!

 

photo credit: Petteri Sulonen Stir Fry via photopin (license)

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