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July 2015

7 Facts About Declawing Your Cat

 by petbucket on 30 Jul 2015 |
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By Gail Fero   Congratulations, you've decided on a cat! Though the decision might have seemed monumental, it was only the first of many decisions you'll have to make. Your cat's well-being is be up to you; there is training to consider, as well as toys, food and bedding. But one of the most controversial decisions you'll have to make is whether or not to declaw your cat. You may have heard horror stories about cats tearing up carpets or shredding the curtains with their claws. But before you jump into the decision to declaw, here are some facts for you to consider.   1.     Declawing can cause lasting problems for your cat physically. Pain is only the first of these problems as they also include nerve damage, lameness, infection, possible regrowth and bone spurs.   2.     Declawing is almost exclusively an American solution to cat scratching. Most other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and large swatches of Europe, have banned it as inhumane.   3.     The surgery, which many people believe to be simply removing the nails, involves much more than you might think. It not only removes the nail but also the bone up to the last knuckle, similar to cutting off a finger's last bone. This is not just a fancy, permanent manicure, but a proper surgery, sometimes referred to as an amputation.   4.     Declawing is the removal of a cat's first line of defense. For indoor cats, this can mean a greater dependence on their teeth, but for outdoor cats, this is endangerment. Once you've declawed a cat, they should stay indoors to stay safe from predators.   5.     For many cats who go through the surgery, there can be behavioral changes. Poor pain management afterwards can make your cat wary of using the litter box. They will also start marking their territory in this way as their claws are gone. Some become more aggressive and start biting more.   6.     Because the surgery to declaw is more akin to an amputation than a simple removal of the nails, cats must relearn how to walk. With the balance changed by the removal of a bone, cats can suffer back pain and often struggle with the new balance required.   7.     The procedure of declawing is not necessary, despite the horror stories you've heard. Just as a dog needs training, a cat needs training as well. They can learn where they can scratch and where they can't, and they need to learn to be amenable to nail trimming. If these don't work, there are soft nail caps you can have put over the nails to stop scratching for indoor cats.   Choosing to declaw your cat is a big decision. Before you make it, you should ensure that you have all the facts. Think about what this might mean for you and what it will definitely mean for your cat.

Teaching Kids the Fundamentals of Proper Dog Handling

 by petbucket on 22 Jul 2015 |
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Children should know how to honor the feelings and boundaries of other living creatures, whether human or not, and these conduct codes are particularly important with respect to dogs. From an early age, kids should learn what behaviors are acceptable and which are not, and that includes being light-handed when it comes to their interactions with dogs. These rules are necessary to learn whether you have a family dog or not. Sooner or later your child will interact with a dog, whether it is the pet of a another person in a supervised setting or an encounter with an unfamiliar dog in a park or on the street. The following safety guidelines are important for children of all ages to be made aware of.   Be Light-Handed   Children often don't realize how rough they may be, nor do they necessarily know that even though they're playing, the dog may not take it as such and could retaliate. Teaching children how to be mild, gentle and in control when excited and playful will be of great benefit to them on many occasions in their lives, not only when interacting with dogs.   When your little one is around a dog, demonstrate to them the way to pet softly. Avoid allowing them to yank on the dog's fur and ears, but instead a soft stroking of the dog's coat, or brief graze of its ears is acceptable. Avoid letting them clutch onto patches of hair, and teach them to be especially careful of and not to tug on the dog's tail, which is always a sensitive spot for a dog and best avoided. If your child tends to be rambunctious or heavy-handed, use a toy or stuffed animal to demonstrate the proper way to pet first. A real dog may not be as tolerant of grasping hands as you might assume.   The Correct Procedure   As soon as they're old enough to comprehend, you should instruct your kids on the proper and non-threatening way to approach a dog. But what exactly is the appropriate manner to approach a dog? If it's a strange or unknown dog, it's best to first approach his master and request permission. Once permission is granted, your child should know to approach the dog calmly and gradually and avoid boisterously running up to it. Teach your child that offering out your hand to the dog with the palm facing down and letting him or her sniff you is the most common and safe way to get acquainted with a dog. Let him decide how close he wants to get. While lots of dogs thrive on human attention, others are also often the type that is "shy at first, but warms up quickly," so the first couple of seconds of any initial encounter are crucial. The proper approach can encourage the dog to come closer to your child for affection, or even flip onto his or her back for a belly rub.   The Smell of Fear   Make sure you don't raise your kids to be afraid of all dogs, even though you yourself secretly may be. A parent's fear is contagious to their child, and if they see you react to any dog fearfully they will likely pick up that behavior. This may cause your kids to respond to an unfamiliar dog in an improper fashion that may confuse the animal and incite him to act unpredictably. Rather than being afraid or running away in panic, show them how they should respect the bounds of dogs and other animals.   Encountering a Threatening and Unfamiliar Dog When No Owner Is in Sight   It is critical to teach your kids to maintain a calm demeanor when being approached by a strange and possibly growling dog. Don't jump on your first instinct to scream in terror and run. In an authoritative but not overly loud tone of voice, instruct the dog to leave. If it remains, don't freak out.   Since dogs communicate primarily through body language, teach your child the right way to interpret their signals. A dog that is simply curious will often have its ears straight up and its tail wagging while standing in a relaxed posture. In this case, don't run -- simply walk calmly and steadily away.   A dog that feels threatened or agitated often flattens its ears down onto its head and has a stiff body posture, while his tail might be swaying slowly or completely rigid. Avoid making sudden movements or screaming loudly, both of which are often potential triggers for an uncomfortable or irritable dog to attack. Instead tell him to leave firmly and retreat slowly and calmly, without showing fear. Should the dog jump to attack, it is better for kids to drop to their knees with their head tucked downward and protected by their arms in a classic "turtle" posture, and to call out for help.   Don't Run in Fear From A Dog   The turtle and tree postures are better at diffusing a dog's aggression than running, which will only serve to activate a dog's reaction to "prey" behavior, and a dog which might have been satisfied just sitting and growling may abruptly follow in fierce pursuit. Even if a dog only means to play with a child, its inborn predatory response triggered by running can cause it to cross the line between playing and attacking.   Don't Disturb a Dog While It is Eating   This is an important rule kids should be educated about, especially if your dog tends to be territorial and protective of their food. Kids won't naturally know about the potential danger of approaching an eating dog, so it's wise to clue them in on the fact that being defensive while eating is an inborn tendency in dogs passed down to them from their ancestors that had to scavenge and fight for every scrap of food. In the instant a child unwittingly bothers a dog as it eats, the animal can seem to adopt an aggressive personality that may confuse and bewilder a child unaware of a dog's potential to instinctively behave this way.   Don't Leave a Child Alone With a Dog   This may seem like common sense, but a dog may be more prone to be aggressive with a child if it is missing the security of its adult owner being around. Likewise, a child may be more likely to agitate or do things to a dog they've been instructed not to, simply out of curiosity and the "testing" instinct. This may easily set the dog off and cause it to attack.   The Importance of Hygiene   Stress to your kids the necessity of washing their hands after petting or playing with a dog. Dogs are not the most sanitary creatures from a human standpoint, and germs, parasites or bacteria that a dog may be adapted to may have a dangerous impact on your child's health if they do not disinfect properly after contact.   The best way to ensure your kid's welfare when interacting with dogs is to educate them thoroughly on safety behaviors. Both children and dogs are naturally curious, and this curiosity can potentially cause interactions between them to turn ugly. Assuaging your child's curiosity by cluing them in on the reasons for certain safety behaviors with dogs is the best prevention for such dangers. Don't undervalue the importance of teaching your child how to play with a dog simply because you don't have a pet. Eventually they will be in an environment out of your supervision and in the presence of a dog. Prepare them for it.

5 Tips for Traveling with a Dog

 by petbucket on 15 Jul 2015 |
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Even though you want to take your dog with you when traveling, it's not always easy. If you want to make the journey as comfortable as possible, there are some simple things that can make your trip more enjoyable for everyone, including your furry companion.   Food and Water Supply   When planning your trip, bring enough of your dog's food for the entire journey, plus some extra in case there are any delays. Do not rely on being able to purchase food while you are away because not all stores carry the same brands, and changing your dog's diet suddenly could cause adverse side effects.   Pack enough bottled water so your dog is never at risk of dehydration. This is even more important during summer months when hot days can exhaust your dog faster. Avoid using fresh local water because water systems vary from place to place, and a sudden change could cause diarrhea.   Bring along ice cubes in case your dog becomes carsick, or ask for a cup of ice during your gas station breaks. Ice forces your dog not to gulp down water too quickly, which could cause it to become even more nauseous. And don't forget to bring food and water bowls.   Secure Your Dog   When traveling in the car, make sure you keep your dog secured at all times. Although you may have an obedient dog, it may get distracted by things you cannot necessarily predict, such as dogs in other vehicles. This may cause unexpected excitement and distract you while driving, putting both you, your dog, and others on the road in danger. You may want to use a kennel carrier in the back of your vehicle or a special dog-friendly seatbelt to keep it secured.   Be sure to also pack multiple leashes to use while outside the vehicle. You should never let your pet roam free while at rest stops or your hotel. This is not only for safety reasons, but also because it is illegal to do so in many areas.   Ventilation   It is important to keep a window open or run the air conditioning in your car to ensure your dog is getting enough fresh air and doesn't overheat. While you may feel comfortable at room temperature, traveling may cause anxiety that can lead to your dog feeling overheated.   If you choose to open a window, make sure there isn't enough room for your dog to jump out. Many cars now also have child safety features that will allow you to disable the controls in the back seats. Use these to prevent your dog from stepping on the electric window controls and accidentally putting the window up or down.   Frequent Breaks   Just as you need to take breaks when you are driving, you should not forget about your dog. Your dog needs the chance for toilet breaks just as much as for exercise, as dogs tend to move around much more frequently than humans. Take these opportunities to provide fresh water, too.   Prepare for Emergencies   It is important to remember that accidents happen and being far away from home can make them even more difficult to handle. In addition to any regular medications that your dog may need, don't forget a pet first aid kit that includes bandages, gauze, and topical ointments in case you encounter the unexpected. Bring a copy of your dog's medical records in case you need professional treatment while abroad or proof of vaccinations.   Consider bringing your dog's favorite blanket and toys to help keep it calm and comfortable in scary situations. Never remove your dog's collar and check that your contact information is up-to-date and clearly readable before starting your trip. Even the most well-trained dogs can become spooked and run off, so you want to make sure you're easy to contact, just in case.   If you want to bring your dog with you while traveling, plan ahead to make it easier on both of you. Preparation can make your trip less stressful and more enjoyable.

Chubby Dog - Making Changes To Improve Your Dog's Health

 by petbucket on 09 Jul 2015 |
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Obesity is a growing issue in the human population, and it's not surprising that this problem is also affecting dogs. Experts believe that up to 50 percent of American pets are overweight and susceptible to a variety of health issues. If you are concerned about your dog's increasing chubbiness, there are ways to remedy this common problem.   Health Problems Associated with Obesity Dogs have many of the same types of health problems associated with obesity that humans have, including:   · Arthritis and joint problems   · High blood pressure   · Heart disease   · Lung function problems   · Diabetes   · Immune system disorders   · Cancerous tumors   Recognizing Obesity in Dogs Pet owners often don't notice that their dogs are gaining weight until they have a full-blown weight problem on their hands. One way to determine if your dog is carrying too much weight is to feel his ribs and spine. These bones should be easily detectable with just a single layer of fat under the skin. If these bones seem to be pretty well-padded, it may be time to consider a weight management plan for your best buddy. Another way is to look at your dog's body from above. You should be able to see well-defined narrowing at the waist. If the body shape is rounded, with no definition between shoulders and hips, your dog needs to be on a diet. A visit to your veterinarian will give you an opportunity to put your dog on the scale and talk with your vet about the best way to reduce your dog's weight.   Learning Portion Control The same principles that help people lose weight are also effective for dogs. Portion control can be critical. Because dogs usually eat only once or twice each day, their owners tend to fill the bowl to the brim to ensure that the dog is satisfied. However, this habit can be detrimental to keeping your dog fit. Always measure out the correct amount of dog food at mealtime, as recommended on the bag or by your veterinarian. Your dog may whine for more, but be firm. This discipline will keep him healthier for many years.   Increase Exercise Levels More exercise will help to burn off the calories, improve muscle tone and provide better mental health for your dog. If you are providing a morning walk for your dog, try addinga long evening walk as well. If time is a problem, hire a dog walker to ensure that your dog gets the exercise he needs. Many dogs benefit from doggie daycare, which provides playtime that burns off excess calories. When you are at home, spend time playing indoors with your dog, in games of fetch or "chase me."   Treats - The Downfall of Doggy Diets Pet owners often use treats to reward their dog's good behavior or simply to express affection. These extra calories can add up quickly, making weight loss more difficult. Cutting out treats is often an effective way to help many dogs lose those extra pounds. If this is too drastic, try changing to low-calorie treats, like vegetables or rice cakes, to reduce caloric intake.   Those Stubborn Pounds If your dog fails to lose weight despite your efforts to limit food consumption and increase exercise, it may be because of another health condition. Make an appointment with your vet to have your dog's blood analyzed. These tests can often detect metabolic disorders that can contribute to weight gain, such as thyroid problems or Cushing's disease.   As with people, losing weight requires commitment and consistency. Helping your dog to reach a healthier weight will ensure that he will be around to spend many good times with you.

Six Easy Games to Play With Your Kitten

 by petbucket on 02 Jul 2015 |
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Congratulations on your new kitten!  Getting a kitten is an exciting time for your entire family.  As you may have already learned, caring for a kitten is an exercise in patience.  Not only do you have to work to care for your new pet, but kittens are full of boundless energy.  This means that you're going to need to play with her, too.  Fortunately, kittens are easy to please.  Here are six easy games to play with your kitten:   Ping-Pong Balls:   Ping-pong balls are a cheap and easy way to entertain any young cat.  Bounce the ball into walls, roll it under beds, and watch as your kitten dashes after it.  One fun activity involves putting your kitten and the ball into an empty bathtub.  The ball will bounce off the sides of the tub and work your kitten up into a fur-flying frenzy.   Paper Bags:   Cats love the sound of crinkling paper.  They also love to investigate enclosed spaces.  A paper bag provides the best of both worlds.  Put one on the floor and watch your kitten as she crawls over and inside it.  Try tapping your finger on the outside of the bag - she might try to catch it!   Puzzles:   With a puzzle game, you can help your kitten strengthen her growing brain.  Plastic balls with small holes in them are available at many pet shops.  Fill these toys with a few treats or kibble and see if your cat can figure out how to get the snack.  Show her how to do it by batting at the toy yourself if she can't figure it out.  Once she does figure it out, this is a game she'll love to play again and again.   Crumpled Paper Ball:   Something about paper drives cats wild.  Crumple some paper into a ball and roll it towards your kitten.  Chances are she will jump at it and start ripping it apart.  Just be sure not to let her eat any of it - some cats are notorious paper eaters.   Hide-And-Seek:   In the wild, cats will find a hiding place where they can wait and stalk their prey.  You can unleash your kitten's instincts with hide-and-seek games.  If you see your cat hiding under a sofa or chair, drag a toy nearby where she can just see it.  You'll both have a blast as she reaches out to try to catch it.   Mobile Games:   Who would have guessed that a cat could play a mobile game?  Although not all cats will respond to games on phones or tablets, some do.  You can download games specifically for cats.  Try downloading one of these apps and then putting your phone or tablet on the floor.  Many kittens will bat and swipe at the motions they see.  If she doesn't seem interested, try showing her a YouTube video or TV show.  Some cats can even become real couch potatoes.   Playing with your new kitten doesn't have to be difficult or expensive.  Kittens, as it turns out, love playing with almost anything.  So relax and try these six easy games to play with your kitten.  You and your new pet are both sure to find something that you both love!
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