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September 2015

Five Vaccinations That Your Cat May Need

 by petbucket on 16 Sep 2015 |
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If you're adding a new cat to your household, you definitely need to consider how you plan to protect this pet against some of the most common contagious diseases that can damage a cat's health. The good news is that there are plenty of vaccinations available, and that many of these can help to protect your pet. However, there are some complications; certain vaccinations are not necessary for indoor pets, and can be expensive (or even cause unpleasant side effects). Here's what you need to know about the major cat vaccines that will be offered by your vet.   1) Feline calcivirus When cats contract feline calcivirus, they will develop painful mouth ulcers that often lead to reduced appetite and weight loss. In addition, you will notice the cat sneezing, coughing, and weeping discharge from the eyes. In many cases, calcivirus causes permanent respiratory issues, and in a minority of cases cats will end up suffering from the major symptoms of calcivirus for the rest of their lives. The vaccine is recommended for all cats, whether they live indoors or venture outdoors, and it will protect your pet against some of the main strains of the disease. However, it is worth noting that there are other strains out there, so you should always be vigilant for signs of calcivirus (even after vaccination).   2) Feline infectious enteritis Sometimes called feline panleukopenia or simple FIE, you may already know that feline infectious enteritis is an incredibly dangerous disease that causes fatalities in almost all cases. To make matters worse, it is very easy to pass this illness from cat to cat. The symptoms typically begin with a heightened body temperature, and ulcers soon develop in the cat's digestive system. As the disease lowers the immune system, the cat becomes vulnerable to other pathogens as well, and quickly deteriorates. Experts tend to recommend that all cats receive a cat flu vaccination, and this recommendation is dramatically reducing cat flu cases year after year.   3) Chlamydia Chlamydia is a common bacterial infections that causes the symptoms of conjunctivitis (such as red, painful eyes), and upper respiratory issues such as coughing and noisy breathing. These symptoms are typically relieved by a course of strong antibiotics, and the disease is mainly passed between cats that spend time outdoors. As a result, most vets will think that the vaccination is not strictly necessary if you have an indoor cat (especially if she lives alone).   4) Feline herpesvirus Feline herpesvirus will cause your cat to appear as though she has the flu; she will sneeze, experience discharge from the eyes and nose, and develop a painful sounding cough. While the disease is not always fatal, it leaves the cat with a predisposition to develop other respiratory problems in later life, and most cats with herpesvirus also suffer from repeated eye infections throughout life. The herpesvirus vaccine is highly effective and is recommend for all cats.   5) Feline leukemia virus Feline leukemia virus (or FLV) can severely reduce a cat's ability to fight disease, and it also makes your pet more likely to develop a range of different cancers. Once a cat has contracted FLV, she is likely to die within three years, and the disease is highly contagious. It tends to be transmitted through saliva, so cats can contract it by sharing water sources or washing each other's coats. If you live in a multi-cat household or plan to let your pet outdoors, you should definitely ask your vet for the FLV vaccine. Given the severity of the disease, you may want to get your indoor cat vaccinated as well, but you must be aware of the fact that some cases develop a malignant growth after receiving the vaccine.

How Much Exercise Should Your Dog Be Getting?

 by petbucket on 11 Sep 2015 |
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We're all familiar with the problem dog who constantly craves attention or destroys his or her owner's home through chewing and pawing at everything in sight. We've also all seen the overweight dog who wheezes with the slightest exertion. More likely than not, a lack of exercise is usually to blame for both of these conditions. You see, it's not only we humans who sometimes struggle with our weight. Our dogs too can have size issues which may have grave consequences for their health. Heart-disease, respiratory ailments, diabetes, hip trouble, and a slowed metabolism are all linked to obesity brought on by a lack of daily activity. But just how much and what kind of exercise should your dog be getting?   All dogs are different, of course, and thus they have different exercise needs. Puppies and younger dogs need more exercise than older dogs. Regular exercise, for example, can calm a young dog while helping him make sense of his world. But you should also be careful not to work a puppy too strenuously until after his growth plates have closed, usually sometime around its first birthday. Geriatric dogs also need exercise but, likewise, you should limit activity so as not to tire your pet too much or injure his aged body. A dog's lifestyle should also be taken into consideration when deciding on the level of activity. Outdoor dogs may get a good level of exercise from running around outside their owner's home. Indoor dogs, meanwhile, may not be as sedentary as you think, especially if a household contains children who regularly play with the pet.   A good general rule is that a dog between the ages of one and six years of age should be getting either a half-hour of strenuous exercise (a run or hike, say) or a full hour of casual activity (for example, a walk around the neighbourhood) on a daily basis. It's important, though, to take your cues from your pet's own behaviour. If your dog is hyperactive, chewing things, barking, and otherwise demanding your attention, for example, it's likely that he needs more exercise. If your dog is content with lying about and isn't overweight or raring to go outside, he may be getting the right amount of exercise already. If, on the other hand, your dog is reluctant to go out or if he dawdles or takes constant rests while out walking, you may be expecting more activity from him than he actually needs.   A dog's breed will often determine his exercise requirements. The most needful dogs are the herding, sporting and working breeds. These require a lot of daily activity. An hour to ninety minutes of exercise, plus another half hour of tough activity should be about right. Terriers and toys, with their rather hyperactive nature, often receive a good deal of exercise around the home. In this case a further hour a day of casual activity may suffice. Hounds will need a similar amount, although a few short sprinting sessions over the course of a week may be sufficient for greyhounds and racing varieties. The needs of scent hounds, meanwhile, are more akin to those of working breeds. Short-nosed dogs such as pugs often have trouble with breathing and overheating. With this in mind, owners of these dogs should keep activity casual so as not to strain their pets. It is important to note, though, that these dogs, in common with toys, are particularly prone to obesity. So if your pet's size is increasing, you will want to fit in a bit more daily activity.   As for exercising your pet, there are any number of ways to keep things both lively and interesting. A dog enjoys being challenged, so try to steer clear of boring activities. Walks around the neighbourhood are always good for your dog. Not only does your pet get his necessary exercise, but he also gets to keep up with what's going on in his patch, so to speak. That old favourite, playing fetch, is another good activity. Hiding objects and having your pet retrieve them is another exercise which combines physical and mental stimulation. Having your dog jump obstacles is another fun idea. Remember to bring along treats to reward good behaviour when you're out and about. Also bring plenty of water, especially if you are taking your dog on a strenuous hike or if the weather is particularly warm. If it's cold outside, you may want to bring along a doggy sweater or coat, depending on your dog's temperament. Whatever you do, don't allow winter weather to be an excuse not to give your dog the exercise he needs. If you are trapped inside, run stairs or play with toys or teach him tricks -- and make sure you don't fall into the trap of giving your dog treats in lieu of giving him attention if you can't go outside.   During activity, panting is a good sign. It means your dog is working up a sweat. Wheezing, on the other hand, may indicate that you're overworking your pet. In that case, take it easy for a while. When you're done your pet should be visibly tired. Back home afterwards, make sure to give your dog plenty of water. It may also be a good time for a bath. Your pet can thus enjoy the coolness of the water and, for your sake, he may be restful enough to allow you to bathe him without too much fuss. Afterwards, why not curl up together and give yourselves a well-deserved rest? Exercising your dog shouldn't be a chore, but rather a way of strengthening your bond with your pet.

Strolling with the Pack: 6 Tips for Walking Two or More Dogs

 by petbucket on 03 Sep 2015 |
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Walking two or more dogs can be a lot for one person to handle. But for many dog walkers, there isn't time in the day to take separate walks with each dog they own. Still, all dogs need exercise, and walking is one of the best ways for them to get it. So how can you walk multiple dogs safely and effectively? The short answer is, with care and caution. Beyond that, there are some valuable tips that will help make your daily walk with two or more dogs a successful venture.   Invest is good dog walking equipment. A durable, functional leash is necessary when walking one dog, but it becomes extra important when walking two or more dogs. Two- and three-way couplers that attach to a single leash can eliminate the problem of multiple leashes becoming tangled; however, a separate leash for each dog or a dual leash may be easier for dogs that need room to roam. Leashes should be non-retractable, no longer than six feet, and made of strong material. They should also have comfortable, easy-to-grip handles. Well-fitted dog collars are a must, too, although pinch collars, gentle leaders, or harnesses may be needed for dogs that pull.   Practice walking multiple dogs at home. Walking multiple dogs takes patience and skill--and practice. Before you start a routine of walking two or more dogs, make sure they're individually trained to walk on a leash. Leash training is best accomplished at a training facility, but once your dogs are proficient at it, you can work at home on teaching them to walk together. Be sure to also practice basic commands, like "heel" and "leave it," as these skills will come in handy when walking on the sidewalks and paths. Once you've mastered leash walking multiple dogs at home, begin your outdoor routine with short walks in distraction-free areas.   Clothe yourself and your dogs properly. Dressing appropriately for dog walking will help keep you and your dogs comfortable and make your walks more enjoyable. Besides donning good walking shoes, you'll want to wear adequate clothing, including a weather-proof jacket, sensible layers, hats, and gloves, if necessary. But while choosing what you should wear, don't forget about your dogs. They may need specific walking attire, too, especially if they tend to become chilled or overheated during exercise. Dog jackets, coats, and snow boots are all useful for walking in cold or rainy weather. Cooling vests can be helpful for dogs that get too warm.    Don't leave home without dog walking essentials. Before you leave the house with multiple dogs in tow, make sure you have basic dog walking essentials with you. Items to carry when walking two or more dogs include several poop bags, multiple treats, water for you and your dogs, an extra leash should one break, a whistle or other dog deterrent, and your cell phone in case of an emergency. Keep a mental checklist of these items and then go over it before you head out the door. You can carry the items in a fanny pack fastened around your waist, a shoulder pouch, or a dog backpack--all which allow you to keep your hands free for leash handling.   Avoid hazardous walking paths and inclement weather. When walking two or more dogs at once, take extra precautions to walk in areas that are free of hazards and unexpected dangers. It's best to avoid high-traffic walking routes, where you might encounter aggressive animals or throngs of bikers, joggers, or other large groups of people. Even walking along paths that buzz with wildlife can be distracting to one or more of your dogs and disrupt your walk--or worse, cause an injury. Be sure to stay sky aware as well. If the weather calls for storms, postpone your walk until the skies clear. Likewise, avoid after-dark walks, when visibility is poor.   Be the pack leader for your dogs. A calm and confident dog walker usually begets calm, confident dogs, so aim to be a composed leader for your walking companions. If you're confronted with an uncertain situation while walking multiple dogs, the way you handle it can make all the difference to your dogs and how they react. By calmly diverting their attention to a toy or treat, getting them to refocus on you, or changing routes, you can turn a worrisome encounter into an easily overcome obstacle. Even if just one dog senses panic in you, he could make a bad situation worse by startling all the dogs. Stay cool, and your dogs will follow suit.   Walking multiple dogs is a time saver, fun bonding activity, and productive way to exercise your furry companions. Just make sure you're adequately prepared for the task and that you put safety first. A successful outing with your dogs will benefit the entire pack--including you.
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