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September 2018

The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiking with Pets

 by yunus on 19 Sep 2018 |
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By following a few simply tips, you can make the most of hiking with your companion while being good trail ambassadors for all four-legged friends. Every pet owner loves bringing Fido along on adventures and dogs can make excellent hiking companions, regardless of their size. Before you hit the trail with your pet, however, there are a few things you need to consider.   Just as you choose trails that match your fitness level and abilities, you should also consider Fido’s physical fitness before hitting the trail. Hiking is more strenuous than walking and often involves uneven terrain and vertical climbs. Take into account your dog’s normal level of activity when planning a hike. If a typical walk is less than a mile, for example, an 8-mile climb should be out of the question. Be sure to check the weather the day of the hike, too, because no matter how fit you and your companion are, a hot, humid day can wreak havoc on your health. You should also note any health issues, such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, that may affect your dog’s ability to enjoy a hike. While it’s obvious why senior pets may not be up to the climb, it’s important to remember that puppies’ bodies are still developing and may not be suited for hiking on uneven terrain, either. After considering your pet’s fitness, it’s equally important to take note of his obedience and behavior when planning a hike. You’ll be sharing the trail with other people and animals, so it’s important to bring only well-socialized pets on popular routes. Hiking companions should also be experts at sit, stay, heel and come and feel comfortable walking both on- and off-leash. Aggressive or timid pets will not be good at sharing the trail, so it’s best to work on socializing these dogs before taking them hiking. On the trail, you and your pet will be ambassadors for other hiking dogs, so always practice good etiquette by giving dog-free hikers the right of way and maintaining control of your pet. If you encounter a loose dog on the trail, put your own pet on a leash to avoid any potential confrontations. And remember: Always pick up after your pet both on and off the trail.   Ensure your companion stays safe by choosing hiking routes without exceptionally steep climbs or ladders. Do your best to stop your pet from drinking standing water by packing his own water and dish. Especially on longer treks, plan on bringing plenty of fresh water and food for both you and your pet. You should consider buying a doggy “backpack” so your pet can carry his own supplies, making him feel useful and taking some of the burden off of your own back. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and has been adequately treated for fleas, ticks and heartworms before visiting your favorite hiking spot.   With some planning, you and your four-legged friend can enjoy hiking together. It’s important to choose routes based on both of your fitness levels, maintain control of your pet at all times, and follow the “leave no trace” rule when it comes to picking up after your pet. By adhering to these simply guidelines, you can make hiking the best experience for you and your pet and act as positive ambassadors for other four-legged friends on the trail.

Is it healthy to feed my dog a meat-free diet?

 by lucy on 10 Sep 2018 |
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Many pet owners choose to eat plant-based diets, but it’s less clear whether their dogs can thrive on vegetarian or vegan meal plans. Fortunately for plant-based pet parents, dogs are highly adept at getting the nutrients they need from a variety of foods. Many pet parents choose to live vegetarian or vegan lifestyles, but it’s less clear whether their canine companions can thrive on similar diets. Owners’ main concern when switching Fido to a meat-free meal plan is whether their pet will get all the nutrients he needs to stay healthy. Fortunately for plant-based pet owners, dogs can lead healthy lifestyles without consuming meat.   Canines belong to the order Carnivora, but in reality, our companions are omnivores and scavengers adept at eating a variety of foods. This means the canine body is able at transform certain amino acids—the building blocks of proteins—into others, so dogs can get the amino acids they need without eating meat. However, dogs process food differently from humans and will have a few special needs when eating vegetarian diets. Dogs cannot produce vitamin D in their skin, for example, so they must receive this nutrient from their food.   As with any diet, buy only commercial pet foods that have undergone feeding trials and meet Association of American Feed Control Officials standards when switching Fido away from eating meat. If you plan to make your own vegan or vegetarian pet food, it’s essential to consult a veterinary nutritionist to ensure your pet is getting the nutrients he needs. While replacing meat with eggs and dairy is a relatively easy switch to make in your pet’s diet, owners wishing to feed their dogs a vegan diet—one completely free from animal products—will need to pay close  attention to their pet’s nutritional intake. The right balance of different plant-based proteins, such as from beans, corn, soy and whole grains, can still provide the needed amino acids when carefully monitored.   Potential problems to watch for when switching your pet to a meat-free diet include low protein intake, imbalance of certain amino acids such as taurine and L-carnitine, and deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and iron that are obtained through eating animal products. If nothing is done to fix these deficiencies, they can lead to serious medical problems, such as reproductive or growth failure. It’s best to avoid feeding puppies or breeding dogs a vegetarian diet to avoid potential complications from these deficiencies. You should also schedule more frequent wellness exams—at least two per year— to ensure your pet is thriving on a meat-free diet. Skipping the chicken and beef can be highly beneficial, however, for certain dogs that suffer from food allergies.   After making sure your pet will get the vitamins and minerals he needs eating a meat-free diet, the only hurdle to overcome is with picky eaters who are accustomed to beef, chicken or other animal proteins in their food. If Fido turns his nose up at his new food, try gradually mixing increasing amounts of the new food into the old, until he switches seamlessly to his new, plant-based diet.

How to stop your cat from spraying

 by lucy on 06 Sep 2018 |
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Cats use their urine to mark their space, a practice known as spraying. You can try some tricks to minimise this behavior. Since they can’t be in several places at one time, cats use scent-based ways to mark their territory. While most marking is done through rubbing or scratching, issues can arise when Kitty decides to mark his space with urine in, a practice known as spraying. Fortunately, there are several ways to curb this unwanted behavior in housecats.   The first step to solving your cat’s spraying problem to determine whether he is truly spraying or if he’s simply urinating outside the litter box. When spraying, cats tend to stand upright and eliminate a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces. Cats that are just urinating, however, generally squat and eliminate larger amounts on a horizontal surface. While there are a number of reasons cats urinate outside of their litter boxes—everything from an unclean box to litter they don’t like or an insecure location—spraying is a tool for communicating via smell. Once you’ve determined your cat is, in fact, spraying, you can begin to address the problem.   While unneutered males are the most common culprits behind spraying, any cat can spray when marking his territory or if he feels anxious or threatened. Hormones play a big role in spraying, so the first step to curbing the problem is to spay or neuter your pet. Next, determine what is causing Kitty’s anxiety. Any number of environmental factors can stress out your cat and lead to spraying. If there is a stray cat outside, for example, your pet may mark near doors to establish the home as his territory. Introducing a new pet to the household or tension with an existing pet can be another source of stress that causes spraying. Watch your pet closely to determine the reason behind his behavior and then work on ways to address it, such as separating rival pets or limiting your cat’s view of outside animals with window blinds.   Another key step to stop your cat from spraying is to clean any areas or objects that have already been marked. The residual odor can prompt your pet to mark the same spot again, so use enzymatic cleaners to eliminate smells. You can also use soothing products that mimic feline pheromones, such as Feliway, in areas your cat has marked or as a plug-in diffuser for the entire room. These synthetic products mimic the pheromones your cat leaves behind when he rubs his faces against you or your furniture, marking the territory as safe and secure. You may want to add more litter boxes to multi-cat households and give your cat toys to help him expel excess energy and distract him from the source of his stress. Form positive associations with the problem area by playing with your cat there, petting him, or even feeding him in spot he has sprayed. With some time and effort, you should be able to stop your cat’s unwanted marking, though you can always seek your veterinarian’s help if the problem persists.
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