Monthly Archives: October 2012

How to Help Your Pet Live Longer

1. Feed a high quality diet.

Pets fed a high quality diet have a shiny hair coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. A good diet can help strengthen your pet’s immune system, help maintain his or her intestinal health, help increase his or her mental acuity, help keep joints and muscles healthy, and much more.

2. Keep your pet lean.

Pets that are overweight are at risk for a myriad of health issues. Obesity is the number one nutritional disease seen in pets currently and studies have shown that being overweight or obese can shorten a dog or cat’s life span by as much as two years. Why? Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes, among other things.

3. Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly.

All pets, including both dogs and cats, require regular veterinary care. However, veterinary care goes far beyond routine vaccinations, even though those are important. A routine examination by your veterinarian can uncover health issues of which you are unaware. In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment. Early diagnosis is also likely to be less costly for you than waiting until your pet’s illness has become advanced and serious before attempting treatment.

4. Keep your pet’s mouth clean.

A common problem among dogs and cats, dental disease and oral health issues can cause your pet pain, making it difficult for him or her to eat. If left untreated, oral health issues may even lead to heart and kidney disease. In addition to regular dental checkups, the most effective means of caring for your pet’s mouth at home is to brush his or her teeth at home. If your pet isn’t a big fan of toothbrushes there are other alternatives as well, including dental diets, treats, and toys. Ask your veterinarian for some recommendations.

5. Do not allow your pet to roam unsupervised.

Allowing your dog or cat to roam free may seem like you’re doing your pet a favor. However, pets that roam are susceptible to a number of dangers, including automobile accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons, and more. Additionally, allowing your pet to roam unsupervised may alienate your neighbors should your pet ever “relieve” him- or herself in their lawn or dig up their garden.

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets

All forms of chocolate – especially baking or dark chocolate – can be dangerous, and even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be lethally poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, subsequent loss of coordination, and seizures.

Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween

Surprisingly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable, nonetheless. Keep your pet indoors on Halloween night.

Keep pets confined and away from the door

Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends, who don’t know the difference between fun yelling and aggressive yelling. Dogs can be territorial and may become anxious and growl at innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your pets in a secure room away from the front door will protect the kids, and also prevent them from darting outside into the night.

Keep Halloween plants, such as pumpkins and corn, out of reach

While we might not think of taking a big bite out of the jack-o-lantern or dried corn, keep in mind that they are still food, and still smell yummy to a dog. Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets (i.e., chow-hounds) ingest them in large quantities. A dangerous intestinal blockage can even occur if large pieces are swallowed.

Don’t keep lit pumpkins or any type of fire around pets

Should they get too close to the lit candle, pets run the risk of burning themselves or even knocking the candle over and causing a fire. Instead, rely on flashlights and battery operated tea-light candles to bring a glow to your jack-o-lanterns.

Try on pet costumes before the big night

If your pet seems distressed, allergic, or shows any abnormal behavior while in costume, consider letting him or her go “au naturel.” Festive bandanas and ribbons can work just as well for party poopers, too.

IDs, Please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that they will be returned. Microchips are great, but require a veterinarian with a scanner to locate the owner’s information. It is always best to use a collar with an ID tag – with up-to-date information – so that your pet can be returned most quickly.

Pet Profile: Maltese

The Maltese is the quintessential lap dog. It is extremely lovable and playful, and enjoys nothing more than to be pampered and praised by its owner. The breed is easily distinguished by its straight and long white coat, making it appear like it has just stepped out of a doggie hair salon.

Physical Characteristics

The Maltese is a very small dog that has a compact and square body. It is entirely covered with silky, long, flat and white hair that, if allowed to grow to full length, hangs nearly to the ground. Its expression is both alert and gentle. As a vigorous dog, the Maltese moves with a smooth, lively, and flowing gait; it may even appear as the dog is actually floating on the ground when it is trotting.

Even though the Maltese dog is known for its unusual coat, other features like the facial expression, the body structure, and overall carriage are equally important.

Personality and Temperament

Do not let the innocent appearance of the Maltese fool you, it is feisty, bold, and not afraid to challenge larger dogs. Also, do not over-coddle these adorable creatures, as it can actually do them more harm than good.

If the Maltese is allowed to become the pack leader, it may develop behavior disorders and become anxious and stressful. This may also lead to unnecessary barking and snapping at stranger and children. So love a Maltese all you want, just make sure to establish a firm and clear chain of command.

Care

The exercise needs of the Maltese may be met with a romp in the courtyard, a short leash-led walk, or vigorous indoor games. Its coat, which may be clipped for easier maintenance, requires combing on alternate days. The Maltese is generally considered an unsuitable outdoor dog.

Health

The Maltese, which has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, may suffer from deafness, shaker syndrome, and dental problems. It is also prone to minor health issues like patellar luxation, hydrocephalus, open fontanel, hypoglycemia, distichiasis, entropion, hypothyroidism, and portacaval shunt. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run knee, eye, and thyroid exams on this breed of dog.

Reducing Your Cat’s Stress

Minimize Changes in the Environment

Cats may appear to have little interest in the activities and daily lives of other members of the household, however, most cats are very aware of the changes around them. Common disruptions in the environment may appear insignificant to people but to a cat, they can be perceived as profound or even terrifying. Cats may hide or display behaviors that are out of character.

Try to avoid frequent changes to areas your cat is used to living. Your cat’s bedding can be washed often but try to keep it in the same place. The same applies to the litter box. Clean it often but don’t change its location more often than necessary. Consider adding an additional little box if you have more than one cat. Most importantly and often most challenging, try to change residences as infrequently as possible. Moving is often unavoidable, and much less stressful than re-homing your cat, but don’t forget to keep your cat in mind when moving.

Creating a Stress-Free Zone

Providing an area specifically designed to minimize stress is especially recommended when your cat has recently been through an obviously stressful ordeal. Perhaps you just adopted a new cat or your cat has returned home from a medical procedure. In addition to providing proper food and/or medication, designate a dark and quiet place where your cat can relax and acclimate at his or her own pace.

Allow for a Routine

Most pets are creatures of habit and cats especially tend to enjoy predictability. Feeding your cat at the same time each day is one of the easiest ways to establish a routine. A regular feeding schedule also helps manage your cat’s weight if he or she has a tendency to over-eat.

Let sleeping cats sleep. Because cats sleep many hours a day, it is often tempting to wake them in order to spend some time with them. Unlike most dogs, cats need their privacy and tend to be more independent. Allowing your cat to choose to visit you will help minimize stress and may actually strengthen the bond between the two of you.

Pet Profile: Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel comes in two varieties: the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel. And though they are different, both can be traced back to mid-19th century England. Originally bred for hunting small game, its jolly disposition has made the American Cocker Spaniel a pet in many homes today.

Physical Characteristics

The Cocker Spaniel happens to be the smallest of all the Sporting Group spaniels. Its athletic, compact body and soft facial expression gives the dog an appealing look, while its most distinctive feature is the Cocker Spaniel’s medium-length silky coat, which can either be slightly wavy or flat. Today, a majority of Cocker Spaniels have a heavy coat meant for field work. The dog also has a strong and balanced gait.

The American Cocker Spaniel is generally split up into three color varieties: black, ASCOB (Any Solid Color Other Than Black), and parti-colors. The black varieties include solid blacks and black and tan, while the ASCOB varieties include colors ranging from the lightest creams to the darkest reds, including brown and brown with tan points. Parti-colored Spaniels have large areas of white with another color(s), usually black and white, brown and white, or red and white.

Personality and Temperament

The American Cocker Spaniel, apart from being sensitive and responsive, is very keen on obeying instructions and learning. Always cheerful and affable, it has even been dubbed as the “merry” Cocker. While this breed loves staying indoors, it considers outdoor walks one of its favorite activities. The American Cocker Spaniel is also known for its excessive barking, especially if it has been cooped inside the house all day.

Care

It is important that the American Cocker Spaniel receives regular eye, ear, and feet cleanings to keep them dirt-free. The dog also needs its coat brushed a minimum of two to three times a week, as well as a monthly hair trimming and nail clipping. Its exercise requirements, as with many other dog breeds, can be met with regular walks. And as the American Cocker Spaniel is a social dog that needs constant human companionship, it should be kept indoors to be closer with the family.