Tag: health

Growing Pains – How To Raise A Happy Pet

Growing with your pet can be an amazing experience. Kittens, puppies, baby bunnies – whatever your style watching them grow and learn is a real treat! On occasion though, two different species coming together, each trying to learn about the other so they can co-habitat in harmony, can cause a few growing pains. So what can you expect to struggle with from your new young pet? Check out our list of common growing pains!

What Traits Do You Need To Help Your Growing Pet?

Patience – No matter what kind of pet you’re raising up for a companion the key virtue you need to have is patience! Growing pets need thoughtful discipline and the only way to achieve thoughtful (as opposed to “in the moment” discipline is to understand that your pet has no way of understanding the concept of how much that shoe they just ruined cost, or what a big deal it is to stain the carpet. They have to learn that there are unacceptable behaviors, but one thing they DON’T need to learn is to fear you.

Growing kittens need patience!

Consistency – While training a growing pet it is of the highest importance that you are consistent. This applies to both disciplining them consistently for wrong behavior, rewarding good behavior, and being on a regular schedule. It can be hard to train a puppy to do their business outside when you leave for random long periods of time and know one is there to tend to them. When you get a new pet, it’s important that your life is stable so they learn your routine. If you can’t be there to attend to you growing pets needs, make sure you can higher a pet sitter or have a willing friend who can.

The Value of Distraction – While with some pets implementing a regular, consistent discipline is ideal, other pets don’t respond to that well at all. Rabbits are one of those pets that you just can’t discipline. Due to their nature as a prey animal instead of a predator (like most other pets) they are much more sensitive. They don’t perceive punishment as “discipline” but rather as “danger”, and they will learn to avoid you as a threat. With rabbits, your best method of approach is to distract them from their bad behavior. If they are nosing around where they aren’t supposed to be, lure them with a treat somewhere else! provide them with plenty of toys and areas to act out their natural instincts.

Understand your pets nature – Puppies and bunnies have an urge to chew, kitties need to scratch things. These are simple facts of having a pet. Don’t set your pet up for failure by leaving expensive shoes or electronics around for little teeth. Limit your pets roaming area, keep them under careful watch, and make sure that you have provided them with an environment free from as many bad temptations as possible. Make sure your new pet has toys and areas to act out their instincts, free from admonishment. Remember, you’re supposed to be the higher intellect.

photo credit: pet24 via photopin (license)
photo credit: You sneaky rabbit! via photopin (license)

Wildlife Pet Threats – What You Need To Know

Most pets will encounter some type of wildlife during their adventures. Whether you live in a rural area or the city, wildlife encounters happen all the time! From pigeons and rats to racoons, skunks, or squirrels! Is it okay for your pet to play with wilder cousins and distant relations? Sometimes pets and wildlife can learn to be great friends but there are several precautions and scenarios you need to be aware of!

Wildlife And Your Pet

  • The City Varmints – If you live in the inner city and rarely escape closer to nature it’s likely your pets wildlife interactions will be limited. That being the case though, they are still at risk for exposure to some pretty nasty diseases, mites, and parasites from rats, roaches, or pigeons. Not to mention the poisons often put out to control such creatures.
  • The Unseen Threat – Dogs and cats may seem impervious to a lot, but they suffer from many of the same threats as us. Waterborne illnesses and parasites in the dirt are two unseen and serious threats. Most pets are fine drinking and burying their faces up in things we would never dream of, but that doesn’t mean it’s always safe! If you’re in a national park or out traveling pay attention to signs, keep your pet in areas that appear to be well travelled, and avoid letting them drink stagnant or foul smelling water.
  • The Woodland Varmints – Whether your camping or live in the country your house place is bound to be visited by a skunk, opossum, armadillo or another similar critter at some point. Make sure your pet keeps its distance! Aside from being smelly, skunks are popular carriers of rabies. While armadillos and opossums carry leprosy and lots of other diseases! Not to mention, a confrontational or overly friendly pet is likely to get bit! Did you know that skunks will kill kittens?

Wildlife love to feast on food left out for pets!

 

  • The Predators – More of a threat for campers or rural dwellers, predatory wildlife can be a big danger for pets. Coyotes, bears, mountain lions, alligators, and bobcats are all critters found across America. Don’t let your pets roam out of sight, and make sure you have an action plan should you confront one. Some suburban pets can come under attack too. Rabbit owners should always be on the look out for birds of prey!

When out hiking, always keep an eye out for wildlife warnings!

No matter where you and your pet live or choose to travel always make sure they are up to date on all their shots and preventative medicines for fleas, worms, and everything else to minimize the impact wildlife could have on them!

photo credit: Skunks Stealing Sam’s Food via photopin (license)

 

 

Tick Diseases In Your Pet – How To Spot Them

With the first day of summer just over a month away, in some parts of the country tick season is well underway. Spring is an especially vulnerable time for pets as pet owners who let flea and tick prevention lapse over the winter may fail to pick it back up again in time to prevent those first few tick bites of the season. Aside from being an irritant to you and your pet, ticks carry all sorts of deadly diseases that are easily transmitted to you or your pet. Do you know what the diseases are and how to spot the symptoms in your pets?

Identify Ticks here:

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/ticks/article_em.htm

Common Tick Diseases and their Symptoms

  • Lyme Disease- A particularly deadly tick disease that may be hard to spot in pets until well after they have been infected. The main symptom is a general malaise in your pet. Fatigue, loss of appetite, and lameness in one or more legs are all earmarks of this very serious sickness. If your pet is exhibiting these symptoms and you have any reason to believe they may have suffered a tick bite within the last few months, be sure to as your vet to test them.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever (RMSF) – This sickness is typically carried by what is commonly known as the “dog tick” and can result in pretty severe sickness for at least a couple weeks, sometimes resulting in death. Don’t let the name of this disease fool you either while it is more frequent in the Rocky Mountain states, it has been found country-wide. Symptoms in pets for this tick disease include stiffness and/or difficulty walking due to neurological effects, blood in the urine or nose bleeds, swelling of the limbs, and lethargy. This sickness usually results in pet hospitalization and treatment.
  • Anaplasmosis – This disease comes from the same ticks that transmit Lyme Disease. There are actually two different variations of anaplasmosis with similar symptoms. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, nose bleeds, and high fever. If your pet tests positive for this tick disease, it can be treated with antibiotics and your pet should start improving in 2-4 days!
  • Ehrlichiosis – This tick disease can vary in severity, affecting your pet’s quality of life for a few weeks, months, or even years. In very severe cases, pets may require blood transfusions. Symptoms include weight loss, pain in joints, depression, coughing, vomiting, and fever.

What better reason do you need to stay on top of your pets flea and tick prevention this year? Ticks don’t limit themselves to dogs or cats either. Any pet that spends time outside should be treated regularly. Be sure to use treatment specific to your pet though. What works for dogs can be very dangerous for rabbits or ferrets!

Some tick-borne illness can affect humans too so keeping your pet tick free ensures the health of the whole family! Remember, if your pet is acting out of the ordinary always be sure to have your vet consider these tick borne illnesses before the disease is allowed to progress into something very, very serious!

Water Fun & Safety With Your Pet

Memorial Day is fast approaching and for many Americans that means time spent near the water either at the lake, canoeing the river or another family friendly activity. As summer nears weekends of swimming, fishing, and boating become more regular for many. That also means more dogs are being taken along for family fun. Are you and your pet prepared? New environments mean new rules for pets and you shouldn’t rush out with a dog in tow to hit the beach without being prepared! Here are some important things to consider!

  • Does your dog even like the water? –  Pets, like people, all have individual personalities and some may not care for the water. Make sure you know how your dog feels before you drag him for a day at the lake!
  • Do they know how to swim? – While dogs may have a style of swimming named after their technique, not all pets are strong swimmers. If you have any doubts and plan to take your pet out on a boat or canoe, look into a life jacket for your pet!

Taking your dog to the water!

  • Be considerate of others – Keep your dog on a leash until you are in a relatively remote area and know that your pet obeys your commands when given. Some dogs have a natural instinct to save “drowning” people and may mistake a playful swimmer for a human in distress. Other pets may just be overly friendly. Not everyone is a fan of dogs and may not like being approached. As in any public setting, keep your pets interactions limited to you and your family.
  • Be mindful of doggie “business” – Keep the shore and water free of dog droppings.
  • Be VERY careful taking dogs out in motorized or speed boats! – Make sure they are properly kept on a short leash while in a boat, not capable of jumping over the side. If your pet is scared of loud noises then a motor boat may not be for them.
  • Be prepared for an emergency – Know what to do if your dog gets in over his head. These tips will help guide you through what to do in the event of a drowning. Knowing basic pet first aid could mean everything! To prevent an emergency, try to keep your dog close and always in an area where you can get to it quickly if needed. Stay clear of areas where boats and jet skis are in use too!
  • Be prepared for the ride home! – If you take your dog out much, your probably already know this. Just in case though, be sure you are prepared to be returning home with a wet pet and you have proper seat covers to protect your vehicle! Pack a towel for your dog and do your best to towel them off before hand!

Can’t take your pet with you for a day on the water? Make sure to have a pet sitter or friend check in on them throughout the day to ensure their needs are met and they aren’t too lonely!

photo credit: Beaches_0705 via photopin (license)

Adopt A Shelter Pet – What Steps Do You Need To Take?

If you and your family are looking to adopt a new pet for your home, you’re likely going to start at your local pet shelter. Some people can be a bit surprised when they get to the shelter and find out that pet adoption has more steps than just choosing the pet that’s right for you and taking it home. Before you head to the shelter, be sure you know what you need to do and have before you adopt!

How to adopt a shelter pet

  • Talk to the people at the shelter – The people at the shelter are the ones who have spent the most time with each individual animal and know their personalities. Before you adopt talk with the people who take care of the animals about your family and lifestyle. Do you like to do outdoors activities or are you, more homebodies? Do you have small children or other pets in the house? These people can help guide you to the pets best suited to your family’s lifestyle making the bonding process a breeze for both your family and the new pet!
  • Don’t rush! – Just because you’ve decided to get a pet doesn’t mean that you have to leave with one on your first trip to a shelter. Spend time with the pets you are considering and get to know them. Some shelters will let you take dogs on a walk and spend some one-on-one or family time with the pet you are considering.
  • Bring your paperwork – Shelters like to make sure that when someone comes to adopt a pet they are doing so with the best intentions for the animal and are prepared for the commitment. Make sure to have a photo ID with you and your current address. If you’re a renter, some shelters may require that you have a copy of your lease agreement or written permission from your landlord that you are allowed to have pets. These precautions help ensure that the pet is moving into a lasting and stable environment instead of an impulse adoption that will end up on their doorstep in a week or two again.
  • Bring Money – Shelters are not a free place to adopt a pet. They have to cover the expenses associated with operating, and some shelters will spay/neuter, and vaccinate the pets when they first come in. Be sure that you are prepared for the expense required bringing your pet home.
  • Ask for your new pets medical history – While some shelters will spay/neuter or vaccinate pets, not all do. Make sure you know what medical treatment your pet has had, and what services it may need. It’s often best to plan on a vet check-up shortly after you adopt regardless of your pets known history.

Why should you adopt a pet instead of buying a new one from a breeder or pet shop? Pet shelters are often overwhelmed with abandoned pets missing their homes and a loving family. Breeders breed pets to meet demand while shelters try to find homes for already existing pets in need of love.

 

Adopt A Shelter Pet – What Steps Do You Need To Take?

If you and your family are looking to adopt a new pet for your home, you’re likely going to start at your local pet shelter. Some people can be a bit surprised when they get to the shelter and find out that pet adoption has more steps than just choosing the pet that’s right for you and taking it home. Before you head to the shelter, be sure you know what you need to do and have before you adopt!

How to adopt a shelter pet

  • Talk to the people at the shelter – The people at the shelter are the ones who have spent the most time with each individual animal and know their personalities. Before you adopt talk with the people who take care of the animals about your family and lifestyle. Do you like to do outdoors activities or are you, more homebodies? Do you have small children or other pets in the house? These people can help guide you to the pets best suited to your family’s lifestyle making the bonding process a breeze for both your family and the new pet!
  • Don’t rush! – Just because you’ve decided to get a pet doesn’t mean that you have to leave with one on your first trip to a shelter. Spend time with the pets you are considering and get to know them. Some shelters will let you take dogs on a walk and spend some one-on-one or family time with the pet you are considering.
  • Bring your paperwork – Shelters like to make sure that when someone comes to adopt a pet they are doing so with the best intentions for the animal and are prepared for the commitment. Make sure to have a photo ID with you and your current address. If you’re a renter, some shelters may require that you have a copy of your lease agreement or written permission from your landlord that you are allowed to have pets. These precautions help ensure that the pet is moving into a lasting and stable environment instead of an impulse adoption that will end up on their doorstep in a week or two again.
  • Bring Money – Shelters are not a free place to adopt a pet. They have to cover the expenses associated with operating, and some shelters will spay/neuter, and vaccinate the pets when they first come in. Be sure that you are prepared for the expense required bringing your pet home.
  • Ask for your new pets medical history – While some shelters will spay/neuter or vaccinate pets, not all do. Make sure you know what medical treatment your pet has had, and what services it may need. It’s often best to plan on a vet check-up shortly after you adopt regardless of your pets known history.

Why should you adopt a pet instead of buying a new one from a breeder or pet shop? Pet shelters are often overwhelmed with abandoned pets missing their homes and a loving family. Breeders breed pets to meet demand while shelters try to find homes for already existing pets in need of love.

 

Fruits & Veggies For Your Pet? You Bet!

While fruits and veggies for some pets are common-sense, like rabbits or hamsters, they can seem a little unorthodox for dogs and cats! It turns out that many fruits and veggies can add a lot of important nutrients to your pet’s diet that even the more expensive dog or cat foods can be missing. They can also be a great way to help an overweight pet slim down! At this point, you may be asking yourself whether or not your could get Fido to eat a cabbage? How interested is Snowball going to be in a banana? You might be surprised! It’s all about presentation and learning your pet’s preferences!

That being said, be careful introducing new fruits and veggies into your pet’s diet though. Changes in diet can cause stomach upset in some pets so new items should be introduced slowly and in small quantities at first. Be sure to always wash all produce before you feed it to your cat or dog. Pesticides, germs, and imported fungi or bacteria can make your pet sick too. A simple and quick way to clean your pets produce is to take it straight from the grocery bag and submerge it in a weak vinegar solution in a bowl or your kitchen sink. The vinegar helps to cut the waxy coatings that can make the pesticides adhere to the fruits and veggies and help them rinse cleaner!

WARNING – Always remember to remove all seeds from fruit before feeding it to your pet! Especially apple seeds, which contain small amounts of arsenic. It’s not enough to hurt a human in most cases, but in small pets over time it can cause illness. Also, beware of pits in things like peaches and apricots, which can be a choking hazard! If your pet has a tender belly avoid citrus which can cause upset stomachs, as well as grapes and raisins since they can cause kidney damage in dogs and cats. It’s best to avoid corn, onions, and garlic too.

When introducing the new items, be sure to cut them up into bite-size pieces! You may find it easier to mince them up and mix them in with your pets regular food until they get used to the taste. Who knows though, some pets love fruits and veggies! This summer, if you’re feeling like really giving your pet a treat, try blending them up a smoothie with ice to cool them off and give them a nutritious boost!

 What are some of the best fruits and veggies to introduce to your pet?

Blueberries
Strawberries
Banana
Apricot
Apples
Pineapple
Pear
Watermelon

Bell Peppers
Cabbage
Sweet Potato
Spinach
Green Beans
Pumpkin
Carrots
Cucumber

What about canned fruits and veggies? Try to avoid them since most canned fruits contain added sugars and preservatives, and canned veggies can contain added salt. When possible, stick to fresh produce and don’t try to feed your pet anything you wouldn’t eat too!

photo credit: Moby’s writing table – 43/52 via photopin (license)

 

Memory in Animals – How Does Your Pet Measure Up?

Have you ever wondered how good your pets memory is? Does your pet seem to be a repeat offender when it comes to misbehavior? Do they seem to recall some things (like the sight of the bag of treats) with an amazing ability and then completely blank out with other things (I didn’t know that was a no-no…)? Animals, unlike humans, tend to remember things that are triggered as important to their survival. In the wild, an animal may always remember the way back to a popular watering hole, but  show no recollection of a recent event. As a result, when considering the memory of a pet, it has to be divided into what they remember in the short-term, and what they remember in the long-term.

The short term memory span of a rabbit is four minutes!

Like most animals, dogs have great long-term memories, but are unable to keep track of time and specific events like humans can. Their long-term memories for remembering their training or tricks, are created not by remembering specific episodes, but by connections that are formed in their brain during the training which result in memory “impulses”. So that their reactions to certain stimulus become second nature to them. It’s important to have an empathetic understanding of animal memory when you decide to take on a pet – even more so when you decide to train one!

Their lack of a short-term memory is the reason why disciplinary action must be taken immediately after a bad behavior occurred. If your pet tore up the house and made a mess while you were away, by the time you get home, it’s too late to punish them and expect any effect except other than making them scared of you for a little while. Lasting training and discipline with most pets must come in the form of immediate cause and effect – you go into the brier patch and get scratched or you touch something hot and get burned. Committing a “pet crime” and then getting punished a few hours later is seen as nothing more than abuse by your pet, not punishment. It will result in no change in your pets behavior other than making them less trusting of you, and trust is a key factor in successfully training a pet.

 Interesting facts and statistics about animal memory:

  • Fish can remember where for is for up to twelve days! On the down side though they probably have no idea who you are. Their short term memory span is about three seconds.
  • Dogs short-term memory maxes out at about two minutes – no punishing if it’s been longer than two minutes!
  • Chimpanzees will forget trivial information in about 20 seconds, but have a visual memory far superior to humans allowing them to recognize other chimpanzees and places.
  • Sea lions can recall frivolous things they were taught for up to a decade.
  • Ravens remember faces and voices for their entire lifetime.
  • Cats memories are said to be much better than dogs. Cats are believe to have a short term memory of about sixteen hours – maybe it’s that slow pace they’re known for!
  • A rabbits short-term memory is about 4 minutes.
  • Hamsters have terrible memories. The poor little buggers will occasionally forget what they were doing moments after starting!

photo credit: Remember, remember the Olaf of November! via photopin (license)

Shedding: How To Deal With Pet Hair

It’s getting to be that time of year again… No longer needing their thick coats for warmth, pets begin shedding. Even for those lucky enough to not have allergies can be subject to sneezing fits and itchy eyes when the season of shedding begins. The back seats of cars, your carpets, furniture, and clothes are usually he biggest victims. How to cope? Here are some great tips, tricks, and devices to help get pet shedding under control!

How to Conquer Shedding this Spring

  • Brushing – It may sound obvious but frequent brushings cannot be recommended enough! While once a week may be good for most of the year, we suggest once a day during peak shedding season! Try using a specialized brush with rubber teeth to really grip the hair. Two top rated such brushes are the Kong Zoom Groom Dog Brush and the FURminator.
  • Conditioner – When bathing your pet be sure to include a conditioner. Not only will this help to keep dry skin at bay but the sleeker your pets coat the easier it is to remove loose fur during a brushing.

Shedding nightmares!

  • Air Filters – This may not help with shedding but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Make certain that all the filters in your house are checked frequently and either cleaned or replaced until shedding season is over. Don’t forget the vacuum filter to maximize its usage!
  • Lint rollers and rubber gloves – These are two common household items that can work overtime in the spring! A damp rubber glove run over furniture picks up pet hair wonderfully! A lint roller can be used on more than clothes too! From car seats to mini blinds their uses are plentiful!
  • Launder – Wash pet bedding daily if possible. Don’t leave clothing where your pet can recline on it. Keep your pet off your bed or be prepared to wash your bedding several times a week! Don’t give pet hair a chance to build up on anything!

Do you have your own tried and true tips for dealing with a shedding pet? Share it with us!

(license)

Diseases In Pets And How To Guard Against Them!

Nobody likes catching a cold or the flu and that’s no different for your pet! Since your pet can’t talk sometimes it can be hard to know when they are under the weather. Unlike humans, most pets aren’t likely to suffer from the common cold or simple illnesses that are easily overcome by lots of rest and soup. When a pet gets sick it’s something to pay attention to. Here is a list of some common diseases in pets and how you can avoid and treat them.

Dealing with Pet Diseases

  • Dental Disease: This can be found in most pets and left untreated can cause prolonged discomfort and lasting health issues for your pet. Most dental diseases are can be identified by a foul (fouler than usual!) breath, excessive drooling and loss of appetite. If you suspect your pet of suffering from dental issues be sure to make a vet appointment. Preventative measures can and should be taken. If brushing your pet’s teeth sounds like a nightmare try investing in dental treats and toys. They can be found in most pet aisles.
  • Obesity: Obesity in pets is one of those diseases that few pet owners take seriously. While a chubby pet may be extra cuddly and cute long-term obesity can cause long-term damage. You can find your pet’s healthy weight here. Maintaining the recommended weight will keep your pet safe from liver and kidney diseases and also protect their joints. Be sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and keep the treats to a minimum!

Diseases in pets: obesity

  • Allergic Dermatitis: This is one of the many diseases that toy breeds of dog are susceptible too. If you notice your pet scratching excessively with bald patches that are red and flaky it’s a good sign your pet is suffering from allergic dermatitis. Fortunately this can often be helped by increasing your pets’ intake of protein, essential fatty-acids, and antioxidants. Always check with your vet first though to ensure there isn’t an environmental factor that needs to be removed.
  • Heart Worms: Heart worms are one of the diseases that affects dogs more than cats. If you are raising your pooch from a puppy your vet will provide preventative treatment against heart worms. If you are adopting a pet and don’t know its medical history keep an eye out for some common signs: fatigue, coughing and weightless. This is not one of the diseases that can be treated at home and requires immediate veterinary attention.
  • Ear Mites: Maybe not technically a disease, ear mites are still a common ailment of pets. Fortunately they are easy to treat and as a result usually not a threat. If your pet seems heavily pre-occupied with scratching their ears then it is likely they have mites. If it is a mild infestation simply rubbing their ears with mineral oil can do the trick. If it seems more serious you can get special drops from your vet. Be certain to keep your pets ears clean though since excess scratching can lead to infection.

Remember that regular vet check-ups are a must to keep your pet free from all types of diseases!

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