Friday, May 29, 2015

Why Does My Dog Kick Grass After Pooping?

By Karen Becker Has this ever happened to you? You’re walking little Buddy on his leash and like the well-trained boy he is, when you give him a verbal cue to poop, he produces almost immediately. Voila! You’re standing ready with biodegradable poop bag in hand, and as you bend over to collect his deposit, grass and soil pelts your face because Buddy, having done his business, is kicking up his heels in celebration. What the heck? Here’s the simple explanation for Buddy’s post-poop happy dance: Wild canines kick the ground after pooping to tidy up (much as cats do in their litter box), and also to mark territory. Your dog has glands in his feet that secrete pheromones, and a couple of backward scrapes of the paws release those chemicals, thus “claiming” the spot. 
That’s why dogs spend so much time sniffing the ground, bushes, tree trunks, and anywhere another animal may have eliminated. Little Buddy is constantly monitoring his territory and sniffing out information about other dogs who have come and gone.

If your dog is destroying the grass on your lawn with this, there is a solution. Take him for a walk around the block twice a day instead.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?

By Karen Becker

If your otherwise healthy, well-nourished dog nibbles on selected grass once in awhile, there’s no cause for concern. Unless, of course, the grass has been treated with chemicals (pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, etc.). You definitely don’t want your precious pooch ingesting toxins with her grass snack.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why Dogs Move Food to the Floor Before Eating It

This can be a rather crazy-making behavior if you enjoy a clean floor, and is especially icky if you’re also a raw feeder with wall-to-wall carpeting! Unfortunately, it can be difficult to nail down exactly why your dog performs this odd “I prefer to dine away from my bowl” behavior.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Deal With Picky Eaters

Dog Picky Eater

A lot of dogs are finicky eaters; some dog breeds more than the others. In the wild, dogs will eat almost anything. However, at home, these pets learn that some foods are palatable, and some are just so fantastic. While picky eaters only occasionally refuse to eat and still can be readily tempted with a little slice of cheese added to his food bowl, a finicky eater, which is what we are dealing with here, is a dog who has finally decided to give up his dog food for good.

If you’re like most pet parents, you’ve probably had your pooch on the same food for some time now, so it’s not surprising if he has begun turning up his nose at it. Imagine if you only ate the same meal day in and day out… yuck!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The 3 Most Common Behavioral Problems Dogs Have (And How to Avoid Them)

dog behavior issues

By Jen Mangham

It’s a shocking fact: 96 percent of pets given up to shelters have had no manners training at all according to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP). This is especially troubling because many of the common behavior problems that contribute to pets being given up are easily avoidable. “The most important thing is to start training early and be consistent,” said Lauren Novack (KPA-CTP), professional dog trainer and owner of Lauren’s Leash. “The best thing you can give your new family member is consistency and boundaries.” 

She adds that it’s a mistake to think you need to choose between setting boundaries for your pup or giving them lots of love and affection, even if it’s a rescue dog. There’s a time and a place for both

so if you want to give your new pup a big snuggle, have them sit first. At the end of the day, your pup just wants to make you happy. These tips will help you better communicate your house rules to your pup to keep more pets in furever homes. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

How to Safely Remove a Tick From Your Dog

Tick Removal

From Sidewalk Dog

Summer is officially upon us, and while that means sunshine, time on the lake, and all the grilled meats you can handle, it can also mean lots and lots of ticks, for both you and your dog. Of course, pet parents know how important preventatives are, but even the best of the best can’t guarantee your dog will stay tick-free this summer.

If your dog likes spending time in areas ticks love to be (think: the cabin, the woods, tall grasses, you know… nature), then a tick check should be part of your daily routine. Run your fingers over every part of your dog’s body, not just her torso: armpits, between toes, inside ears, etc. If you feel a bump, check further to see if a tick has attached.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Signs That Your Dog Is About to Bite, And How to Stop It

By Dr. Becker

It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which serves as a reminder each year that dog bites can and do happen… and most are preventable. An estimated 70 million dogs live in family homes across the US, and millions of people, primarily children, are bitten each year.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association:

  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog bites were the 11th leading cause of non-fatal injury to children ages 1 to 4, 9th for ages 5 to 9, and 10th for ages 10 to 14 from 2003 to 2012.
  • The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid just under $500 million in dog bite claims.
  • According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost 27,000 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
  • The US Postal Service reports that over 5,500 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • The American Humane Association reports that 66 percent of bites among children occur on the head and neck.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dog Safety Tips: Preventing Dog Bites

Preventing Dog Bites
From G'Day Pet Care

Each year, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs-and nearly half of these are young children bitten by the family dog. Approximately 800,000 dog-related injuries require treatment in a hospital due to bites as well as sprains and strains caused by actions to avoid dog aggression. Dog-related injuries in the U.S. resulted in 31 deaths in 2011 alone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

10 Fascinating Cat Facts

We cherish our cats for their uniqueness – from their mysterious behavior to their grace and flexibility to their strange sleeping habits

1. Cats are kind of constructed like rag dolls. The pelvis and shoulders are only loosely attached to your cat's spine, which is part of what makes kitties so flexible and able to squeeze into tight spaces

2. Cats really do land on their feet (but not always). It's called the "righting reflex." When a cat is falling, he is able to orient himself in midair so that he lands on his feet. The fall has to be at least a foot in height, but some cats have survived falls of 7-story buildings. This could be because they tend to spread their bodies out to increase drag.

3. Cats are awake only 1/3 of the day. The average kitty sleeps about 16 hours a day. That's because as an obligate carnivore, your cat is designed for intense, brief bursts of energy to catch prey, followed by a meal, followed by a long period of rest to prepare for the next hunt.

4. It takes time to look as good as they do. Cats spend 1/3 of their awake time grooming themselves.

5. Cats use their mouths to smell things. When a cat smells an odor, opens her mouth slightly, crinkles her nose and pulls back her upper lip, she is doing something called a "flehmen" response. She's drawing in air, capturing the scent, and moving it to her vomeronasal organ, or Jacobson's organ, which is a small sac located high up in the roof of the mouth. The vomeronasal organ traps the odor molecules and sends info to kitty's brain regarding the scent.

6. Cats are sharp-tongued. And I don't mean in a biting way (pun intended). Cats' tongues are actually covered with tiny, rear-facing barbs. These little protrusions have several jobs to do, including helping your kitty lap up water and pull food into her mouth. Another thing those tiny tongue barbs do is help your cat groom herself efficiently by scraping away loose fur and debris on the skin. Another little known fact about cats is that the male's penis also has barbs called penile spines. Their job is to scrape the walls of the vagina as the penis withdraws after ejaculation, presumably to stimulate ovulation in the female.

7. The eyes have it. Cats have the largest eyes relative to their size of any mammal. In addition, their pupils can grow bigger, smaller, and change size faster than the pupils of many other mammals. This allows your kitty to see well in varying levels of light, and especially in the dark.

8. They have whiskers everywhere. You may think cats have whiskers only on their cheeks, but they can also have them on their chins, eyebrows, and front legs. A kitty's whiskers are sensitive touch receptors that help orient her body in space, and let her know when, and when not to try to squeeze through an impossibly small opening.  It's important never to cut your cat's whiskers, as she can become disoriented and less able to navigate her environment.

9. Healthy cat kidneys are remarkable organs. Cats are designed to get most of their water requirement from their food, and their kidneys – when healthy – help out by producing highly concentrated urine. It's extremely important to feed your cat a high quality (human grade), species-appropriate, moisture-dense diet (not kibble) so that his kidneys remain healthy throughout his life.

10. Cats walk on their toes. Also, when they walk or run, rather than a left-right or right-left movement, they move both left legs, then both right legs.

Monday, May 18, 2015

10 Ways to Kitten-Proof Your Home

Thinking of getting a new kitten?  Here are 10 ways to make sure you and your home are ready:

  • Learn your household’s hideouts. Kittens are not only curious little beings, but their bodies are fantastically flexible. This means your little one will very likely find and squeeze herself into spots in your home you may not know exist. Cats like small, dark, out-of-the-way places. While your kitty can be easily spotted if she’s concealing herself under your bed, you might think you've lost her for real if she finds a clever place to hide.  
    It’s a good idea before leaving the house to say good-bye to kitty so you can lay eyes on her and reassure yourself she isn't trapped in a shoe box in your closet or a dresser drawer. As much as possible, limit her access to potentially unsafe hiding spots when you’re not at home. And when you’re at home and about to run the clothes washer or dryer, check carefully first to insure kitty isn't in either machine.  
  • Eliminate escape routes to the outdoors. All the windows and doors in your home should close and latch securely, and screens should fit snugly in their frames. Your kitten may see something outside he wants to investigate, and many a cat has launched himself against a loose screen and made a quick getaway.  Obviously, this goes double if you don’t live on the ground floor. During the warmer months of the year, thanks to a phenomenon known as Feline High Rise Syndrome, city dwelling cats routinely fall from open windows and fire escapes, often necessitating a trip to an emergency veterinary clinic. 
  •  Put away anything you don’t want broken. Cats are gifted climbers and explorers, but their considerable acrobatic skills can’t be counted on to prevent a disaster. If you have fragile collectibles on open shelves in your home, you might want to put them away until kitty is a bit older. Not only could she knock something precious and breakable off a shelf by accident, she might also decide to play swatty-cake with your expensive stemware or the ceramic angel your daughter made for you at summer camp.  
  • If it’s dangling, it’s a cat toy. The most potentially hazardous household “danglers” are electrical cords and draw cords on window coverings. You want to prevent your kitten from chewing electrical cords by any means available, and draw cords on drapes, curtains, or blinds can present both a choking and hanging hazard.  You might also want to raise your window coverings well above floor level while your kitten is learning to use his OWN scratching and climbing surfaces.  
  • Remove poisonous plants from your home. Most kittens and adult cats will sample whatever greenery and flowers come into their domain. You’ll want to know the plants that are poisonous to cats (there’s a long list) and make sure they’re not in your home. You may also want to find places for safe plants that kitty can’t get to… unless you like the look of partially chewed greenery! 
  • Some toys require adult supervision. As long as you’re right there to watch him, it’s fine to let your kitten play with yarn, string, or ribbon. But it’s important to keep those items out of reach when you’re not around, as they can be a choking risk if kitty chews or swallows them. 
  • Secure cabinet doors and drawers. If you've ever had feline housemates, you probably know that some cats have a knack for opening drawers and cabinets to see what’s inside. Unless your kitten will be constantly supervised, it’s a good idea to install childproof latches to prevent her from breaking and entering into an area where cleaning supplies or other toxic chemicals are stored. If that’s not possible, I definitely recommend you move all those types of products to an area of your home that your cat doesn't have access to. 
  • Keep toilet seats down. One of the quirkier behaviors of some cats is a fascination with water (often only water that is NOT in their water bowl). Some cats also develop a strange obsession with toilet bowl water, so to protect your little guy or gal from an unexpected dunking or worse, it’s a good idea for everyone in the family to develop the habit of keeping the toilet seat down.  This could also be a lifesaver if the water in the bowl happens to contain cleaning chemicals.
  • Keep all medications out of reach. All medications in your home should be kept where your kitten can’t get to them. If you’re in the habit of leaving pill bottles on your kitchen or bathroom counter, it’s time to move them to a secure spot, because a determined kitten can chew through a plastic bottle.  It’s also important to immediately pick up any pills accidentally dropped on the floor before kitty finds them. 
  • Give kitty her own outdoor hangout. As long as your kitten is immunized against disease, she can go outdoors on a harness and leash, or into her own outdoor enclosure or catio. This will allow your kitten to enjoy the great outdoors (preferably with her paws on the ground as often as possible) in nice weather, which can prevent boredom and enrich her environment in a meaningful way. If you choose not to vaccinate your cat, please keep her inside.
SOURCE:  Dr. Karen Becker

Friday, May 15, 2015

Keeping Your Pet's Ears Healthy

If you notice that your dog is shaking his head, scratching his ears, or find that his ears are smelly, there is a chance that it is a symptom of an ear infection. You can prevent infections by cleaning your pets ears.

Basic cleaning:

  • Avoid putting anything down the ear, including swabs or cotton tips. 
  • One of the safest ways to clean the ears with either a cotton ball or tissue, lightly moistened with a little oil, vinegar, or water. Gently stuff the ear with the tissue or cotton, massage the outside, then remove. 
  • Repeat this process until the tissue comes out clean.
  • Avoid over-cleaning, plucking hairs, or using too much ear cleaner, since this can actually change the environment of the ear and may cause irritation and infection.

There are usually several commercial ear cleaners available from your veterinarian or pet store for purchase, or try the home remedies below.

Home Remedies:

Clean Your Dog's Ears Step 3 Version 2.jpg
Vinegar Rinse: Vinegar keeps bacteria and yeast under control. Mix 1/3 apple organic cider vinegar (2-2.5% acetic acid) with 2/3 water. Using a syringe, gently flush the ear canal with 1 and 5 ml of the solution. This can be used got long-term prevention of infections in cats and dogs that get frequent mild ear infections. Use weekly. It is also useful to flush your dog's ears after swimming. Do not use in inflamed ears.

Yogurt Ear Cleaner: When you allow yogurt to settle, a small amount of liquid (the whey) pools at the top. Dip a cotton ball or tissue in this to wipe the ear. The good bacteria in the whey can help control yeast and bacteria.

Other Options:

Gentle Massage: A massage at the base of the ear can help stimulate circulation to the area, and most pets love it!

Acupressure or Acupuncture: Acupuncture can reduce pain and help resolve ear problems. Acupressure points that are useful for any ear problems include TH 21, SI 19, GB 2, TH 17, LI 4, and LI 11.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Explore the Outdoors: Leash Training Your Cat

How many times has your cat tried to slip out the door? Cats instinctively like to explore, hunt, and hide; and the call of the wild can be all too tempting for your feline friend. So many of us keep our cats strictly indoors, but taking your cat outside to enjoy the sights and smells of nature can help to provide them with much-needed exercise, helping to decrease their risk of becoming overweight.
Leash training your cat is a fantastic way to keep your furry family member safe and secure while they’re outside with you, wherever you may go exploring together.
Oh, but your cat won’t walk on a leash, you say? Well, hang on a minute – let’s take a look at how you can get your feline to not only accept a harness and leash, but learn to enjoy wearing them, too.

Prep Work Before the Leash

First, let’s start with a bit of preparation. Before you head out for a stroll around the block with your cat, you have some work to do inside at home.
  • Any cat that goes outdoors risks picking up contagious viruses. Protect your pet and have them vaccinated against major feline diseases.
  • Buy a harness and leash specifically made for cats. Make sure it’s comfortable and easily adjustable for a good fit – this is especially important, as these furry Houdinis can easily slip out of a too-loose harness! (it’s also why collars don’t work for cats, either)
  • Let your cat check out and sniff the leash and harness – try leaving it lying on the couch or near their food or sleeping area, for a few minutes, several times each day. Each time he shows interest, offer a really tasty, tiny treat, like a bit of tuna, chicken or canned cat food. Soon your kitty will know that the appearance of the leash means good things are going to happen!
  • Before you even try to put the harness on, it’s a good idea to get your cat used to being touched and held – some of our feline friends can be pretty picky about letting us into their personal space! Take a few minutes each day to gently handle your cat from ear tips to tail, picking him up and holding him for a few seconds longer each day. Reward him with praise, petting, and lots of tasty tidbits or a fun play session each time you do this.

Wearing the Harness and Leash

Now that your cat is used to your touch, it’s time to teach him to tolerate wearing the harness and leash.
  • Unclip the harness straps and drape the harness over your cat’s back, distracting him with something like food, treats or catnip. When your cat is comfortable with this, snap the harness closed while he’s focused on something else. Let your feline walk around and get used to the sensation of wearing the harness, continuing to offer really tasty treats to build a positive association with the new gear in your cat’s mind.
  • Make sure that you adjust the fit of the harness, then take it off after a minute or two. The harness should be quite snug around your cat’s body – you should only be able to slip a finger or two underneath the straps. Practice putting the harness on your cat several times every day, keeping it on your cat for a bit longer each time, and always rewarding him with treats or one-on-one playtime while he’s wearing it.
  • To teach your cat to follow you, snap the leash onto the harness, but leave it dragging on the floor at first. Take a few steps away from your cat and call him to follow you. When kitty catches up to your side, make sure they get lots of praise and their favorite treat (at this point, the tastier, the better). Repeat this until your cat is following you willingly around the house. Now you can pick up the leash!

Heading Outside

  • When you do head outside with your cat, remember that he might easily be scared or overwhelmed by new sights and sounds. Choose a quiet spot to sit, and let your cat look around – he’ll start to explore on his own when he’s ready to see the sights!
  • Finally, it’s important to always, always stay with your cat when they’re on a leash. Tying your cat outside can be dangerous for them – they can get tangled up, and if a predator happens to come around, it’s going to be very hard for them to escape. Walking with your cat should be an activity that’s fun and exciting for both of you, and done together with your favorite feline friend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Easy 10 Point Home Health Exam for Your Pet

At Home Pet Health Exam

Although annual veterinarian visits are important, it's your job to monitor your pet's health throughout the year. A home exam can be performed easily and regularly. Start at the sharp end and work down to the tail.

Ear Exam

You might not have an otoscope or swabs to check your pet's ears like your vet can, but you can find early changes by simply looking at or smelling the ears. The inside should be clean and the same color as the pet's skin. Redness, excessive grease, or strong odor means there is a problem and veterinary attention is needed. Scratching and shaking the head are clues there is a problem.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dogs and Ticks: Myths vs Facts

Common areas to find ticks on your dog
By Steve Dale
Disease-carrying ticks pose health risks to dogs and people, no matter where they live.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that tick disease occurs in every U.S. state, and it seems tick population and therefore tick disease is actually on the rise.
Since signs of tick-borne diseases are difficult to recognize in both pets and humans, simple preventive measures and understanding as much as possible about these disease carrying aggravating arachnids are the best ways to keep everyone safe. Here from are some surprising truths on ticks.
MYTH: The best ways to remove a tick are with a lit match, fingernail polish or petroleum jelly. 
FACT: None of these methods cause the tick to “back out,” and all of them may actually result in the tick depositing more disease-carrying saliva into the wound, increasing the risk of infection. Experts say the best way to remove a tick is to grasp it as close to the skin as possible with tweezers and pull the tick’s body out with a steady motion. Wear rubber gloves, and still use soap and water to be sure. Dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.

MYTH: Lyme disease is the only illness that ticks can transmit to dogs and humans.
FACT: Lyme is the most widely-known and is the most common tick disease, but there are many others. These include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis (sometimes known as “dog fever”), ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and some emerging diseases with potentially devastating effects.
MYTH: If I find a tick on myself or someone in my family, Lyme and other tick diseases can be ruled out immediately with a blood test.
FACT: According to the CDC, laboratory results for tick-borne illness in people are often negative on the first sample and require a second test two to three weeks later to confirm infection. Further, children are more susceptible to infections due to their immature immune systems. Signs of Lyme in dogs may be lameness, and/or  flu-like symptoms such as fever and malaise with or without a bulls-eye rash in oth people and dogs. Though many people and dogs experience no discernible symptoms – especially in the early stages of the disease.
MYTH:Ticks aren't a problem in the winter, when it’s too cold for them to live outside.
FACT: In most areas of the country, high season for ticks runs from April to November. Experts recommend year-round preventives, however, as infection can occur at any time of the year. In the winter, for example, some tick species move indoors and are in even closer contact with pets and people, while others make a type of antifreeze to survive during the winter months.
MYTH:Ticks live in trees, so as long as I don’t live near or visit a wooded area, I don’t have to worry about them.
FACT: Ticks live on the ground. They typically crawl up from grass blades onto a host and migrate upwards, which is why they’re often found on the scalp.
MYTH:Ticks are insects.
FACT: Ticks are a species belong to the group known as arachnids (spiders are arachnids), and also belong to the same family as mites. Ticks are in the family of Ixodiad, which along with mites constitute the subclass acarina.
Source: Chicago Now