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Pet Bucket Blog

April 2016

Are My Pets Getting Enough Sleep?

 by yunus on 29 Apr 2016 |
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As all pet owners know, when their pets are sleeping, they sleep hard. It might be a dog sleeping upside down on the couch or a cat stretched out at the most uncomfortable angle possible, just to ensure that its entire body is in the splash of sun on the floor. Waking up the pet isn’t easy when it’s in a warm spot, taking a nap.   But after watching your pet snooze much of the day, you may start wondering whether the animal is sleeping more than it should. Then if that same pet is spending much of the night prowling the house and keeping you awake, you may start to wonder if the pet is sleeping enough.   Finding the Right Amount of Sleep   It’s important that you understand whether your pet is receiving the right amount sleep. When a pet is not sleeping enough or is sleeping too much, it could indicate an animal that is suffering from some sort of illness or disorder. The amount of sleep that each pet needs will differ for numerous reasons.   ●Activity. A pet that doesn’t have much of an activity level may sleep more than average, in large part because it’s bored. To keep this pet healthy, you need to ensure the pet starts getting more exercise and sleeps less.   ●Age. An older pet will begin sleeping more than it did in its early adulthood, while a young animal will also sleep more than the average.   ●Instinct. If you have a pet that normally is a nocturnal type of animal, such as a cat, it may sleep more during the day, when you can see its activity level. But it may quietly be awake throughout the night, when you cannot see what it’s doing, meaning you may think it’s sleeping too much.   ●Job. Some pets are working animals, where they may volunteer at a hospital or work with humans as a police animal or a companion animal. The more the animal works, the more it will mimic the sleep patterns of the human with which it works.   ●Predator. Animals that are natural predators, such as dogs and cats, will tend to sleep more. Those that aren’t natural predators, such as horses or rabbits, will tend to sleep less. Figuring Out an Average   Because of the reasons listed above, discerning the amount of sleep each type of animal needs is a bit of a challenge. Additionally, an animal in captivity will sleep a bit differently than an animal in the wild, skewing the average.   ●Least sleep. Pets that need the least amount of sleep include horses at about 3-4 hours per day and cows at 4-5 hours per day. A fish doesn’t need much sleep either, but studying sleep patterns of fish is extremely difficult.   ●Similar sleep to humans. A human requires about 8 hours of sleep, which is similar to rabbits (8-9 hours) and primates (9-10 hours).   ●Most sleep. A dog will require 12-14 hours of sleep per day, while a cat may sleep 14-16 hours of sleep daily. Rodents and parrots also sleep about 12-14 hours per day. If you have a reptile or a turtle as a pet, you may notice it sleeps much of the day during the winter, which is a time when it would be hibernating in the wild.   While it’s important to keep an eye on the amount of sleep your pet is receiving, it might be even more important to pay attention to a change in the animal’s sleep pattern. If an animal has a sudden change in sleep habits that cannot be explained by an environmental change or by an instinct to hibernate in the winter, it could indicate a potential illness, so be aware of your dog’s health. For example, arthritis in dogs can be heavily disruptive to sleep patterns. An altered sleep schedule could be an early indicator of a problem such as this. Check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about any change in sleep patterns!

Cats: Indoors or Outdoors?

 by yunus on 27 Apr 2016 |
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When it comes to the indoor-outdoor debate, many cat owners are wrought with guilt over keeping kitty cooped up inside. After all, outdoor cats live a more mentally and physically stimulating life with the freedom to hunt, climb and seek out the sun. However, free-roaming cats face dangers such as car accidents, predation and exposure to diseases that indoor pets do not. Moreover, indoor cats can live a healthy, fulfilling life when equipped with the right accouterments, making it important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether your cat will spend his time inside or out.   When it comes to disease, the indoor-versus-outdoor debate seems like a no-brainer. Experts estimate that there are more than 50 million stray cats living in the United States, and many of these feral felines carry diseases that can be passed on to your pet. Feline AIDS, distemper and leukemia are just a few of the serious and potentially fatal maladies your pet can contract. Parasites such as ticks and intestinal worms are another cause for concern when kitty ventures outside. Though indoor cats can contract parasites, outdoor cats are at a much higher risk of infection, which can cause symptoms from skin infections to severe vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, outdoor cats can face busy roads, wild animal attacks, and contact with toxins such as antifreeze and are the culprits behind millions of songbirds’ deaths each year.   If you do decide to let kitty venture outdoors, there are several steps you can take to reduce risks to his health and safety. Keep him up to date on vaccines and ensure your pet has been spayed or neutered. Outfit your cat with a collar that includes an identification tag in case her gets lost and a bell that will alert songbirds to any oncoming attacks. If you live near a busy road, it is worth considering teaching your cat to walk on a leash.   On the other hand, if you keep your cat indoors, there are several ways to ensure he has a healthy, satisfying life. Providing your feline friend with a companion — another cat, or even a dog in some cases — gives him an outlet for play, exercise, grooming and affection when you’re away from home. Cats also enjoy toys, such as laser toys or kitty “fishing poles,” that are both physically and mentally stimulating. Playing with these toys for a few minutes each day gives your cat an outlet for his natural hunting instincts. Indoor cats also need appropriate surfaces for scratching, so ensure your pet has several scratching posts spread around the house. You can create a stimulating indoor oasis for your cat by providing climbing places, hiding spaces, perches in sunny spots, and in-house entertainment such as bird feeders or birdbaths within view of windows.

Flea collars: Do they really work on dogs?

 by yunus on 20 Apr 2016 |
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If your dog spends any time outdoors or socializing with other animals, he has the potential to attract fleas and ticks. These biting pests are more than just major nuisances for your pet, however. They also raise serious concerns from flea infestations that spread quickly to an entire household to allergic reactions and diseases, such as Lyme and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. When looking for answers to their flea and tick problems, owners encounter a dizzying array of topical liquids, chewable pills, dips, sprays and more. One age-old option, the flea collar, has fallen slightly out of fashion, but these cheap and simple products might be worth revisiting for some pet owners.   Flea and tick collars serve two basic functions: Older collars were designed to repel pests by emitting a gas, while many newer designs actually treat existing infestations with a medication that seeps into a dog’s skin or spreads with the skin’s natural oils, similar to how most topical treatments work. Some collars serve only one purpose, while others both prevent and treat infestations, so it’s important to read the product description carefully before buying a collar. Traditional collars have evolved over time and still hold some advantages over spot-on treatments. Collars can last up to eight months, for example, while spot-ons are generally effective for 30 days. Flea collars tend to cost less than other flea and tick treatments— though buyers beware, the cheapest collars often sacrifice effectiveness for price.   The collar-versus-topical (or chewable) debate often comes down to specific circumstances. If your dogs swims several times a week in the summer or gets frequent baths, choosing a waterproof product is important to ensuring he is protected from fleas and ticks. You should remove his flea collar ahead of time to ensure the medication remains effective, while you cannot “remove” a topical liquid before it has had time to absorb. Some instances when flea and tick collars can prove especially useful include times when pest concerns are higher than normal. If you know your dog will be taking a romp through tall grass, for example, you can double up on tick protection by putting a medicated collar on during the walk and removing it afterward, even if your dog is already being treated with a topical medicine. Always consult your veterinarian before choosing a flea and tick treatment and monitor your pet for any irritation or other side effects when switching to a new product.

Ah-choo! Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

 by jaime on 17 Apr 2016 |
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We all sneeze from time to time when dust, dander or other irritants tickle our nose and throats. It turns out dogs sneeze, too, for many of the same reasons. A more arresting reaction, however, is the reverse sneeze: the reflex by which dogs rapidly draw air into their bodies to remove irritants from the area behind their nostrils. Many owners mistake these loud, wheezing episodes for asthma attacks, causing panic and emergency trips to the vet. In reality, however, the startling sounds are a relatively normal part of life for some dogs, just like sneezing is for humans. Your canine companion may look distressed when the reverse sneeze strikes, but in truth, it is harmless behavior in most dogs and leaves no lasting ill effects.   Reverse sneezing typically occurs when something irritates a dog’s soft palate (the fleshy bit at the back of the roof of his mouth) or throat. Whereas air is forced out through the nose in a regular sneeze, air is pulled rapidly in through the nose during a reverse sneeze. This causes a dog to make a loud snorting or gasping sound as he extends his neck and gulps in air.  It is a disturbing display, but veterinarians agree that reverse sneezing is actually fairly common in dogs. Smalls dogs are more prone to it due to their smaller air passageways, as are breeds such as pugs and bulldogs with elongated soft palates. Episodes can last anywhere between a few seconds up to a few minutes and may appear in dogs at any stage of life.   Whether it’s allergies or mites, treating the underlying cause is the best way to prevent reverse sneezing. Some dogs simply have an attack when they’re excited, while other may reverse sneeze due to perfumes or household chemicals; exercise intolerance; pulling on a leash; or even eating and drinking. If an episode doesn’t end quickly, you can try helping your wheezing companion in several ways. Gently massage his throat to stop the spasm; cover his nostrils to make him swallow and clear the irritant from his throat; or press his tongue down to aid breathing. Different techniques work for different pets, so you will have to experiment gently to find out the best way to help your pooch.   Reverse sneezing doesn’t usually require treatment, but if it becomes a chronic problem, you should seek your veterinarian’s advice. As a general rule, if your dog is reverse sneezing more often than the average human sneezes, you should seek help. If allergies are the root of the problem, for example, your vet may prescribe antihistamines. He can also rule out other causes such as respiratory tract infections or foreign bodies that could be blocking your dog’s airway. Asthma, on the other hand, is vastly less common in dogs and is typically accompanied by a chronic cough. Though rare, dogs with asthma likely struggle more with exercising and fatigue and the condition is almost always caused by an allergic reaction to something in the environment. 

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

 by yunus on 06 Apr 2016 |
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Most people have heard of heartworms, but fewer know that dogs are at serious risk of contracting heartworm disease in any area where mosquitos are present. Insidious parasites that nest in dogs’ hearts, lungs and surrounding blood vessels, heartworms are easy to prevent, but difficult and costly to cure. For this reason, pet owners should protect their dogs against heartworms in any area where mosquito bites are even a remote possibility.   Dogs only contract heartworms in one way: through the bite of an infected mosquito. This is because adult heartworms thriving in an infected animal produce baby worms, known as microfilaria, which circulate throughout the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites an infected pet, it picks up the microfilaria, which develop into larvae within the mosquito. When the infected mosquito bites another animal a few weeks later, it passes on these larvae, which mature into adult heartworms and continue the lifecycle. It only takes one bite and, about six months later, the larvae mature into adult heartworms within a dog. Pets with untreated heartworms may harbor several hundred of the parasites, which leave lasting damage to the heart, lungs, arteries and other organs even after they’ve been treated.   The good news is that heartworms cannot be passed from dogs to humans or other pets. The parasite is only transmitted through mosquitos, and typically affects only dogs, cats and several other mammals. The bad news is that, once infected, a dog needs serious and costly treatments to rid him of the parasites. Symptoms of heartworm disease may take some time to appear, but as the worms begin crowding a dog’s heart and lungs, he may develop a cough, intolerance to exercise, trouble breathing and fatigue. Left untreated, most heartworm infestations are fatal.   Fortunately, heartworm disease is easily preventable. Chewable pills, monthly topicals and six-month injections all exist to arm your pet against mosquito bites and heartworms. A year’s supply of heartworm medication ranges in cost from around $35 to $80, depending on your dog’s weight— many times less than the cost of curing an infected pet. While you may be tempted to stop treatment during the colder months of the year, when mosquitos are inactive, the American Heartworm Society recommends using year-round heartworm prevention. Owners may forget a monthly dose, which is typically a non-event if your dog is being treated consistently, and many heartworm pills also treat for other parasites such as roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms that are present year-round.   In the case that your dog does become infected with heartworms or you purchase a heartworm-positive pet, the disease is treatable. An injectable product called Immiticide is used to wipe out adult heartworms in the blood vessels. However, as the worms die, they break down and can block a dog’s pulmonary vessels, making it crucial for dogs to keep quiet for several months during and after treatment. Remember, even if your dog has survived heartworms once, the parasite can come back, making heartworm prevention a no-brainer for any owner.
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