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June 2018

Seven Foods NOT to Give Your Cat

 by lucy on 28 Jun 2018 |
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Cats are famously fussy when it comes to food. But keeping her healthy often means avoiding some foods she loves. Cats may be picky eaters, but that doesn’t mean they always know what foods are best for them. While any fare not specifically designed for felines can wreak havoc on your pet’s stomach, there are a few foods in particular that you should avoid feeding your cat:   Tuna: Tuna may be one of your feline’s favorite treats and it’s OK— but only in small doses. A steady diet of tuna prepared for humans can lead to a malnourished cat as it doesn’t contain all of the nutrients your pet needs. Tuna is also a mercury-rich food and when consumed in large enough doses, can cause mercury poisoning in both you and your feline friend.   Milk and other dairy products: Another feline favorite, milk can actually wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive tract. That’s because many adult cats are lactose-intolerant, leaving them with stomach issues such as diarrhea if they consume milk or other dairy products.   Fat trimmings and bones: Cats love these table scraps, but both cooked and uncooked fat and bones can be bad for your pet. Fat can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or an upset stomach, while bones can splinter, causing tears in Kitty’s digestive tract.   Grapes and raisins: Grapes, raisins and other similar foods such as currants can cause kidney failure in both cats and dogs. Even a small amount can make your pet sick, so watch for vomiting or hyperactivity as early signs that your cat may need immediate medical treatment if he’s consumed any of these forbidden foods.   Onions, garlic and chives: Onions and related roots contain a substance called N-propyl disulphide that can wreak havoc on your cat’s red blood cells. In large enough doses, this can cause anemia in your feline friend.   Chocolate: While chocolate is a tasty treat for humans, this sweet snack contains a stimulate called theobromine. The darker the chocolate, the higher its concentration of this bitter-tasting chemical that can cause heart problems, muscle tremors and seizures in cats. Chocolate also contains caffeine, another no-go for our feline friends.   Alcohol: This many seem like a no-brainer, but beer, wine, liquor and even foods containing alcohol are bad for our pets. Alcohol has the same detrimental effects on your cat’s liver and brain as is does in humans, but even two teaspoons is enough to kill a cat or leave him in a coma.   No matter how careful you are, pets sometimes eat something they shouldn’t. If you suspect your cat has consumed a toxic food or substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 immediately. The faster you get help, the better the possible outcomes for your pet.

How to use clicker training with your dog

 by lucy on 26 Jun 2018 |
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Unlike traditional training, which relies on fear, pain or intimidation to bully pets into learning, clicker training uses positive reinforcements. Clicker training is a popular way to train dogs by rewarding good behavior. Unlike traditional training, which relies on fear, pain or intimidation to bully pets into learning, clicker training uses positive reinforcement to shape your pet’s actions.   A clicker is a small, handheld device that—as the name implies—makes a “click” noise when pressed. Owners use the sound in place of marker words traditionally used in training, and for good reason. While praising your pet with a “yes” or “good boy” after he performs a trick certainly works, clickers make a distinctive noise. Unlike our voices, which we use constantly around our pets, the click is a sound your pet will associate only with training. Unlike our voices, too, clickers produce a constant, neutral sound. This can eliminate the confusion your pet experiences when trying to decipher the tone of your voice, helping him focus more on the task at hand.   Clicker training relies on the scientific concept that animals will continue to perform a behavior that is rewarded. To begin clicker training with your pet, click every time your dog looks at you, followed immediately with a reward. After some practice, your pet will know the sound signals a tasty treat is able to arrive and you can begin using the clicker to shape his behaviors. If you’re teaching your dog to lie down, for example, start by clicking every time he lowers his head to follow your hand when you give the “lie down” command. Once your dog has mastered this, click only when he begins to curve his body closer to the ground. Eventually, you will only use the clicker and food reward when your pet has fully executed the trick.   As with any type of training, shaping behavior using a clicker takes practice, so simply walk away and resume teaching another time if you or your dog becomes frustrated. Canines learn best in short spurts, so training beyond five or ten minutes will likely only irritate both you and your pet. Try to find a quiet location during the early stages of clicker training and reward each small step toward the desired action until your dog fully masters each new trick. If your pet is struggling with a certain trick, you can also use a food lure to speed up progress toward desired actions. When using a clicker, it’s important to remember the sound is a reward for doing something right—not a way to get your dog’s attention. Never use the clicker to call your dog, and always follow the click immediately with a treat

How to communicate your cat

 by lucy on 18 Jun 2018 |
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Cats are notorious for never listening, but that doesn’t mean your pet doesn’t care about what you have to say. Felines have their own, nuanced ways of communicating and by learning to use a few of their social cues, you can strengthen the bond you share with your pet. Here are a few tricks to try when “talking” to your cat:   Use your inside voice: Unlike dogs, who generally respond well to a bombastic “hello,” cats have incredibly sensitive hearing and will run away if a greeting is too loud. Instead, try using a quiet, sing-song voice when welcoming your pet, especially if he is shy or anxious.   Lend a helping hand: Cats often greet each other nose-to-nose and you can imitate this gesture with your hand. Crouch or sit so your hand is at eye level with your cat, curl your index finger to make a “nose” and slowly reach out your arm. This allows your pet to bump “noses” with your hand—a greeting he can understand.   Offer “slow blinks”: When cats feel relaxed, they slowly open and shut their eyes in what’s called a slow blink. Doing this in your company means your pet trusts you and feels safe around you. You can offer him the same sign of affection by slowly closing and opening your eyes. Often, your pet will return the friendly gesture.   Give consistent commands: When communicating verbally with your pet, be sure to offer consistent commands. If you say “come up” when welcoming your cat to hop into your lap, be sure to always use the same phrase. Likewise, if your cat becomes too rough during play, use the same verbal cue, such as “stop it,” to let him know he’s gone too far, and then disengage from play for several minutes.   Listen to your pet: As with humans, the best communicators in the feline world are also good listeners. While your pet can’t speak per se, he uses body language to communicate with you constantly. Get to know your cat’s unique set of non-verbal cues and you will be able to better communicate with him in ways your pet can understand.   Whether your cat is openly affectionate or offers more subtle signs of his love, he has his own ways of showing he cares about you. By learning to use these cues, you can communicate with your cat in his own language, strengthening the bond you share with your pet.

How prepare your dog up for success during your next vacation

 by lucy on 14 Jun 2018 |
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Whether it’s work, a wedding or a well-deserved vacation, every pet owner occasionally needs to skip town to travel. Leaving your dog behind can be hard on both you and your pet, but by planning ahead, you can set your dog up for a low-stress transition while you’re out of town.   Before hopping on a plane, it’s important to decide where your pet will stay while you’re away. You can board your dog at a kennel or veterinarian’s office, but many owners opt to hire a pet sitter. Not only does this minimize stress by allowing your dog to stay within the comforts of his own home, but also provides you with a house sitter to pick up mail, water plants and take care of other day-to-day activities while you’re gone. Whatever option you opt for, be sure to provide your pet’s caretaker with any necessary health information, including your vet’s contact information in case of an emergency.   Once you’ve arranged a spot for your dog to stay, you can begin mentally preparing Fido for your trip. Invite your pet sitter over or take your dog to meet the staff at the boarding facility so he isn’t confronted with strangers on departure day. If your pet is prone to separation anxiety, discuss this with his caretaker and ensure he won’t be left alone for long periods of time. Spend some extra time with your dog before you head out and make sure he’s had plenty of exercise to help him relax during the transition. If you’re dropping him off at the kennel or vet’s, you can send him with familiar objects, such as toys and bedding, that will bring the smells and comforts of home. You can also send your dog with his usual food and treats to minimize any changes to his diet. Some pet owners find it helpful to leave their pets with time-consuming toys, like a Kong, to distract them the day of their departures. When it’s finally time to leave, be sure to remain calm and confident, as dogs can easily pick up on their owners’ emotions.   Your companion will miss you, just as you miss him during a trip, but a few preparations can help ease the transition. Planning ahead will help you feel ready for your temporary separation, and if you feel confident on departure day, so will your dog.
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