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January 2017

Dog breath: A cause for concern?

 by lucy on 25 Jan 2017 |
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Dogs are famous for chewing on rancid, rotten and otherwise offensive objects, and they aren’t shy about sharing their bad breath with humans. Sometimes, a toothbrush can fix the problem, but a foul mouth can also be a sign something is wrong. By learning the common causes behind bad breath, you can better recognize when Fido’s “dog breath” is a cause for concern.   Officially known as halitosis, bad breath can arise when your pet is facing dental issues such as gum disease, infections and tooth decay. One sure sign an oral issue is behind bad breath is gum inflammation, indicated by red, swollen or bleeding gums. Some issues, such as cavities, aren’t visible, but tartar buildup can be a good sign your dog is having dental problems. Mouth tumors can also cause a foul odor, as they often grow too fast for the body, causing dead areas to form and bacteria to take over. If you suspect Fido’s bad breath is a result of dental issues, arrange an appointment with your veterinarian.   Other medical issues can cause bad breath, too. Kidney disease or failure can cause an offensive odor, as the organ isn’t doing its job of eliminating waste products from the bloodstream. Look out for an ammonia-like smell, as well as changes in appetites, increases or decreases in drinking and urination, and other behavioral changes such as depression, which could indicate this is the problem. Diabetes can also cause strange breath, usually with a sweeter or fruity smell. Dogs can have bad breath due to sinus infections, which lead to mouth breathing, or gastrointestinal problems, often accompanied by changes in appetite, nausea or vomiting. Ingesting toxic substances can cause a foul mouth, too, and if you suspect Fido has found his way into something poisonous, you should call your veterinarian immediately for emergency care.   Sometimes, however, Fido’s foul mouth is simply the result something he ate. Feasting on fish bones or feces will obviously cause offensive breath, but even his regular dog food can cause your pet’s bad breath. If you think your dog’s dish is the source of his bad breath, talk to your veterinarian about other options for his food. Daily tooth brushing is key in keeping your pet’s breath fresh, too.   While bad breath isn’t always a medical emergency, knowing the signs can help you know when to take your pet to the vet. If your dog’s bad breath is accompanied by a sudden change in appetite, pawing at his face and mouth, or compulsive nose licking, call your veterinarian, as these and the symptoms listed above can indicate there’s something seriously wrong.

Avoid feeding your dog these fruits and vegetables

 by lucy on 18 Jan 2017 |
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We’re all guilty of spoiling our dogs with a human snack every now and again, but some foods are best kept away from our canine companions. To help keep Fido fit and healthy, avoid these fruits and vegetables that are toxic to pets:   1. Grapes, raisins and currants: We may enjoy a healthy handful of grapes, but for our canine companions, this snack can be fatal even in small doses. Although experts don’t know why, grapes, raisins and any foods containing the two can cause severe kidney damage. Pet owners who are familiar with the dangers grapes may be surprised to learn that currants carry the same, life-threatening level of renal toxicity, too.   2. Cherries: While the flesh itself is safe for Fido to eat, cherry stems and pits are toxic to dogs. That’s no surprise, give that they contain cyanide, a deadly poison that deprives the body of oxygen and can lead to respiratory failure and even death.   3. Onions and garlic: Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate, which can cause damage to your dog’s red blood cells. Some experts say that garlic is even more toxic than onions, so avoid this pungent food, too.   4. Mushrooms: Only some species of mushroom are poisonous to humans, and the same goes for our pets. While some mushrooms are safe to feed Fido, you need to be 100 percent positive about what you’re feeding him, since other mushrooms can cause tremors, seizures, organ failure and even death.   5. Apricots: Like cherries, apricots contain toxic seeds and stems. While dogs can safely snack on the fruit’s flesh, the cyanide in the pits can cause respiratory failure and death in large enough doses, so be sure to peel Fido’s sweet treat before handing it over.   6. Raw or undercooked potatoes: Raw, green and unripe potatoes are toxic to dogs. If Fido scarfs down a bad batch, look out for nausea and vomiting, seizures and heart irregularities as they can contain solanine, a defensive poison found in the plant’s stems, leaves and skin that can damage your pet’s nervous system.   7. Rhubarb: A seemingly innocent ingredient in a classic pie, rhubarb contains xalate crystals in its leaves and stems that can deplete dogs’ calcium levels. In large enough doses, this can kidney failure and other symptoms such as drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors and bloody urine.   8. Apple seeds: Like other fruits, apple seeds contain cyanide. While Fido may have to eat quite a few to suffer any ill effects, it has been known to happen and is best to dispose of the core before feeding your dog any apple snacks.     If you know what your dog has eaten and he is displaying symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness or other ill effects, call your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact a Pet Poison Helpline after hours to find out the level of risk your dog is facing after eating something he shouldn’t have.

Making moving less stressful for your cat

 by lucy on 12 Jan 2017 |
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Moving is stressful even under the best circumstances and cats can become especially anxious when moving house. Making the transition as stress-free as possible for your feline has major benefits, however, from decreased risk of aggression to lower chances of escape attempts, house soiling and excessive meowing or crying.   When considering moving your cat to a new household, it’s helpful to break planning down into three phases: pre-move preparations, the relocation itself and settling Kitty into his new home. Preparing your cat for the big day starts with helping him adjust to the changes that come before he ever steps foot in the new house. Start putting out moving boxes several weeks before packing, for example, to help him adjust to their presence. If your cat becomes nervous during packing, move him to a quieter room away from the action. Start introducing your pet to his cat carrier early, too, leaving it open on the floor for Kitty to explore at his own pace. Equipping the carrier with a soft bed and tasty treats will encourage your cat to enter, although placing his food dish by the carrier will also encourage exploration if your pet is reluctant to enter the carrier on his own. This will help your cat form positive associations with his carrier, making move-in day less traumatic.   Leading up to your move, keep Kitty’s daily routine as regular as possible by feeding him at the same time each day. When to big day day finally comes, feed your pet a smaller breakfast to reduce the chances he gets an upset stomach. Keep his carrier closed while in transit to avoid any escape attempts and keep an eye on your cat at both the old and new houses to be sure he doesn’t dash out the door.   Once in his new home, your cat will likely feel overwhelmed. To help settle his anxiety, introduce him to a quiet room equipped with food, water, a litter box and a bed. Plant treats around the room to help Kitty feel more at home and encourage him to explore his new room. Ideally, keep your cat confined to this one room for the first few days in his new home to allow him to adjust to new the sights and smells gradually. Spend time with your cat in the room and, when the chaos of unpacking is over, gradually give your pet access to the entire house. At this point, you can place a second litter box in the spot where you want to keep one permanently, only removing the original box after your pet has had time to adjust to the new location. Alternately, you can inch the original litter box slowly toward the desired location over several days.   Moving with a pet can be stressful, but with adequate planning and preparation, you can reduce your cat’s anxiety, leading to a smoother move-in day for both you can your feline friend.

Which collar is right for my dog?

 by lucy on 06 Jan 2017 |
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Your dog’s collar is one of the most important everyday tools you use with your pet, but choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Selecting a dog collar or harness depends on the individual needs of you and your canine companion. Fortunately, a few simple rules can help simply your decisions.   When it comes to controlling Fido, the two main options are harnesses and collars. Harnesses can act as effective training tools for puppies and provide better control over dogs prone to pulling or jumping. They’re also well suited to pets with respiratory issues or neck injuries. Some dogs balk at the feeling of a harness, however, and harnesses that clip at the back can actually draw your dog’s attention away from you, rather than towards you, when you pull on the leash. If you don’t have any tugging or control issues during walks, then, a classic leash-and-collar combination can be the best option for your pet.   A traditional, flat collar is the easiest, most convenient neckwear for Fido. Collars are simple to slip on and off and ideal for dogs already trained to walk side-by-side with their owners.  Collars are less useful for training, however, and pulling can increase the likelihood of neck injuries and create eye pressure, which can be especially problematic in breeds such as pugs. A traditional collar can slip over the heads of some breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets, but Martingale collars circumvent this problem by using two attached loops— one around the dog’s neck and the other attached to the leash. When the dog pulls, the larger loop tightens enough to prevent him from slipping his collar, but not enough to choke him. Many trainers recommend this type of collar over choke-chain collars, but still suggest it only be used when you are actively supervising your pet.   In addition to traditional collars and harnesses, there are several specialized designs for specific pets’ needs. A slip collar is a great tool for correcting bad behavior, for example, because it allows owners to give a quick tug to one side, throwing a dog slightly off balance and drawing his attention back to his human. A pack lead collar helps keep the slip collar at the top of the dog’s neck, where it is most sensitive, and is ideal for dogs that don’t respond to a traditional slip collar. Head halters incorporate a piece of nylon that loops around a dog’s muzzle, preventing him from keeping his nose to the ground and making it easier for his owner to keep his attention.   Whatever type of equipment you choose, your dog’s safety should always be the top priority. Some experts advise removing your dog’s collar when you’re not around or investing in a breakaway collar to reduce choking risks. If your pet has any health issues or you have concerns, consult your veterinarian for advice on choosing the best collar for your pet.
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