Monthly Archives: October 2013

3 Common Types of Pet Heartworm Meds

vet-dog

The American Heartworm Society recommends that animals living in all parts of the U.S. be given heartworm preventive medications on a year-round basis. But which are the best heartworm meds for dogs and cats? While there isn’t necessarily a “best heartworm medication” there are certain types of meds that may be more convenient for you and effective for your pet (if given in the proper dose on a regular schedule). Here are three of most common types of heartworm preventive medications to discuss with your veterinarian.

1. Oral Monthly Heartworm Medications

The heartworm preventives you are probably most familiar with are the once-a-month tablets or chewables. Many of the various oral heartworm medications available today contain either ivermectin or milbemycin as the active ingredient and many serve more than one function— not only killing heartworm larvae but also eliminating internal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms. You do, however, need to watch your dog or cat to be sure he/she chews the entire piece or tablet and doesn’t spit any of it out. Otherwise, the heartworm medication loses its effectiveness.

2. Topical (Spot-on) Heartworm Medications

These heartworm medications are applied monthly to the back of the dog or cat’s neck, or between the shoulder blades on the skin. Not only do these preventives protect against heartworms but there are some with active ingredients that work to eliminate such things as fleas, ticks, mange mites, and roundworms. These heartworm preventives are toxic if ingested, so be sure to isolate your pet for a time after application — both to prevent your pet from coming in contact with children or other animals and to prevent them from rubbing the medication off on furniture, carpet, etc.

3. Injectable Heartworm Medication

Along with being used in other forms of heartworm preventives, Moxidectin can be administered as an injection for up to six months protection from heartworms. The injectable heartworm medication does come with restrictions on its use. Veterinarians must administer this heartworm medication to their patients, and this is only after intensive training in its proper use. Your veterinarian is also required to record the lot number of the product used for your pet and must report any adverse effects that may arise.

Follow Instructions and Consult Your Vet

No matter which medication you choose for your dog or cat, read the medication’s label closely and follow its instructions. Additionally, tell your veterinarian if your pet shows signs of illness after administration and be sure to have your dog or cat tested yearly for heartworms.

Why Do Cats Knead?

Kneading is the motion cats make by rhythmically alternating their paws, pushing in and out against a pliable, soft object (such as a lap). Not all cats knead in the same way; some never push out their claws at all, and some even use all four paws. While not all cats knead, it is a common behavior for young and adult felines alike, so it’s likely your cat does it. Have you ever wondered why cats knead at all?

There are a few different ideas out there as to why. Some cats knead (and purr contentedly) when they’re being petted, but they may also do it for no clear reason. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular theories.

Kid at Heart

Cats start to knead as kittens, before they’re even able to get around on their own, while nursing from their mother. A nursing kitten instinctually kneads to help stimulate the mother’s milk production. Why do they continue to knead past nursing age? Even though kneading a soft surface doesn’t yield milk, adult cats forever associate the motion of kneading with the rewarding comfort of nursing.

Love Hurts

If your cat is curled up and kneading your lap while you’re petting him, he’s returning the affection and telling you he loves you right back. Unfortunately, this can be quite painful, since the happier he is, the harder he’ll dig in with his sharp nails. Try placing a thick, soft barrier between the cat and your lap, or gently place him on his back and pet his belly if it gets too intense. However, do not punish your cat for this behavior — he doesn’t relaize it hurts. To better ensure the comfort of both you and your cat, make a habit of keeping his nails trimmed, or invest in nail guards to cover your cat’s nails.

Stre-e-e-tch

Cats are natural yoga masters and love to work out all the kinks left over from napping. Think about it — if you have sore shoulders, it feels good to grab onto a surface and pull against it. Kneading is one of the many ways cats keep themselves limber … until the next nap.

Bedding Down

The wild ancestors of domestic cats liked to lay down on soft, comfortable surfaces to either sleep or give birth to their young. By kneading down tall grass or leaves, cats were able to fashion a comfy spot to lay down in, and also possibly to check the ground for unwelcome visitors lurking under the foliage.

Paws Off — That’s Mine!

Cats are territorial creatures, and one of the ways they safeguard their turf is to scent-mark their belongings. By kneading their paws onto the surface of an area (yes, including you), they’re activating the scent glands located inside the soft pads on the bottom of their paws, thereby marking that item as theirs.

Is It Hot In Here?

Female cats have an additional reason for kneading: they’re known to knead their paws just before going into estrus — commonly known as “going into heat.” Kneading acts as a display to male cats that she wants and is able to mate.

***

Cats have many unique and amusing behavioral traits, and kneading is just one of them. So even though these are some of the more popular ideas for why cats are thought to knead, it certainly doesn’t provide all of the possible reasons. For example, some cats knead just before they’re about to take a nap. Whatever reason your cat kneads, the one thing all these ideas have in common is that kneading is natural, instinctual, and common cat behavior.

Five Considerations Before Gifting a Pet

gift-dog

Receiving a pet as a gift is an honor, but it can also be a precarious situation if not thought through properly. Animals are not disposable, nor can they easily be repackaged, regifted, or returned if the recipient is not pleased. Now that doesn’t mean you should necessarily scrap the idea; just do it wisely. Here are five important considerations before you decide to gift a pet.

1. Money

Caring for pets isn’t cheap. In fact, the ASPCA estimates that the minimum cost of humane care for cats and dogs for the first year is over $1,000 (slightly less for other animals). It’s therefore extremely important you consider the financial obligation of a pet before you unknowingly burden someone with thousands of dollars in expenses they can’t afford.

2. Time

Pets are a lifetime commitment — and that often means years, if not decades. This is a wonderful thing for pet lovers. They get to love and dote on cute animals, maybe even make them a part of their family. But a pet is definitely not a cheap, quick thrill. Think twice about gifting a pet to someone who avoids long-term relationships. You wouldn’t want to inadvertently add to the overpopulation of animals in shelters.

3. Health

Are you absolutely certain the recipient is not allergic to animals? Does anyone else at the residence suffer from allergies? Allergies to dogs and cats, for example, are not uncommon. Do your due diligence and consider any possible health restrictions before gifting a pet.

4. Housing / Apartment Restrictions

Speaking of restrictions, many Home Owner’s Associations (HOAs) and apartment complexes have pet restrictions (e.g., size, breed, type). Your would-be pet recipients may even be renting from a landlord that expressly forbids any pets in the residence. If you can’t surreptitiously learn about these restrictions, forgo the gift giving.

5. Timing

Deciding when to gift a pet is almost as important if you should gift a pet. The winter holidays, for example, is just about the worst time because there is usually so much else going on that little time can be dedicated to training and acclimating a pet to his or her new home. Pets need to bond with their new family — and this takes time, patience, and, of course, love.

10 Car Safety Items for Your Pet

dog-car

As you plan your road trips this summer, be sure to consider your pet’s car safety before pulling out of the driveway. With states like Hawaii, Connecticut, Illinois, and Maine banning motorists from driving with their pets in their laps and New Jersey debating a law that would require pets to wear seatbelts, now’s the time to investigate proper car restraints. Here are some options for your cat or dog.

1. Ruff Rider Canine Vehicle Restraint

When pets are in car accidents, they often suffer multiple injuries, including broken bones, ruptured lungs, and severe trauma as a result of not being restrained properly, said Ann E. Hohenhaus, DVM, ACVIM (oncology & small animal internal medicine) at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. Unrestrained pets can also injure themselves trying to jump out of or down from open windows as the car is moving.

Help prevent your dog from moving around your vehicle freely with a step-in harness like the Ruff Rider Cainine Vehicle Restraint. It is designed to work both in and out of the car and will fit dogs from 6 to 150 pounds. Make sure to measure your pet’s chest and neck to ensure proper sizing before ordering any type of travel harness to be sure the product protects your pet the way it is designed.

2. Small Dog Seatbelt

Tested for small dogs up to 25 pounds, the Doggie Seatbelt attaches to any dog harness and can easily be moved from one car to another. You can also attach the seatbelt to your cat’s harness to protect it on long car rides outside of its crate. Look for well-made products that are designed to fit your dog properly to make sure the restraint does its job properly.

Having a properly restrained pet can also prevent distracted driving, Hohenhaus said, which can lead to car accidents. A recent study has found that, similar to texting while driving, having pets in the car can prevent drivers from keeping their eyes on the road at all times and can lead to a crash.

3. Bergan Auto Harness

A seatbelt and harness system that uses carabiners to attach to the webbing of your car’s seatbelt and your pet’s harness, the Bergan seatbelt offers a secure fit and meets the V9DT safety durability test. It fits dogs from 10 to 150 pounds and has a padded chest area to keep your pup comfortable and safe.

While there are certain safety tests done on car restraints for pets, Hohenhaus said that unlike seatbelts and car seats for people, there are currently no government standards or tests in place for car restraints for pets.

4. Kurgo Pet Travel Back Seat Barrier

Keep your pet safely in the backseat of your car (even if you’re stopped short) with this Kurgo Pet Travel Back Seat Barrier. The partition, which fits most vehicles, fastens between the front and passenger seat and prevents your dog or cat from making their way into the front seat as you drive.

Even if your cat or small dog is in a carrier, they could easily make their way into the front seat in the event of an accident, and installing a back seat or cargo barrier will help prevent your animal from being a projectile that could injure you as much as itself if the car crashes, Dr. Hohenhaus said.

5. EzyDog CLICK Adjustable Car Restraint

Let your dog sit freely on her own with the EzyDog CLICK Adjustable Dog Car Restraint that clicks right into your car’s seatbelt buckle. Secure the opposite end of the restraint to your dog’s harness or collar and adjust it to fit the size of your dog and the amount of movement you’d like her to have.

6. Kurgo Pet Travel Canine Leash and Zip Line Combo

With a zip line system that attaches to your car’s cargo hooks, the Kurgo Pet Travel Canine Leash and Zip Line Combo provides security for your pup while allowing her to move around your back seat comfortably. Secure the zip line to the interior of your vehicle and clip the leash, which can be used as a walking leash once you reach your destination, to your dog’s collar or harness.

Although it may be a pain to take your dog in and out of its restraint as you make pit stops, pets should not be left alone in cars under any condition — particularly in warm weather. Dr. Hohenhaus said more pets die in hot vehicles than in car accidents, so it’s important to keep them on a leash and with you at every rest stop along the way.

7. Pet Gear Signature Pet Car Seat & Carrier

Perfect for small dogs up to 20 pounds or cats of the same size, the Pet Gear Signature Pet Car Seat & Carrier attaches to any car seat belt during your ride and becomes a pet carrier once you’ve reached your destination. Attach your pet’s harness or collar to the carrier’s interior tether for additional security and safety as you drive.

Make sure that your pet’s carrier is tethered to the vehicle at all times while driving to prevent the carrier from moving or being thrown forward into the front seat, Hohenhaus said.

8. K&H Bucket Booster Pet Car Seat

Give your dog or cat a better view without endangering themselves with the K&H Bucket Booster Pet Car Seat. Snap your pet’s collar or harness to the clip inside the seat, which can fit in either the front or back seat of your car, and give them a little heat on cold days with a 12-volt heater that plugs into any standard car outlet. With two sizes to choose from, be sure to look at the dimensions of the seat in comparison to the size of your pet.

9. Good Pet Stuff Aquiline Travelin’ Dog Pet Carseat

Most people love their pets as they do their own children, and they should treat them the same way they would a child when it comes to car safety, Dr. Hohenhaus said.

The Good Pet Stuff adjustable booster seat comes equipped with harness straps to keep your cat or dog secure. With folding legs that range from 10 to 14 inches in height, a plush seat, and reinforced plastic for additional security, you can adjust the seat to fit the needs of your pet while keeping him comfortable and safe.

10. Bergan Car Pet Travel Barrier

Another product designed to keep your pup or cat securely in the backseat, the Bergan Car Pet Travel Barrier has both upper and lower vents to promote healthy air circulation and adjusts to fit between the front and passenger seat of most cars. Cars with air conditioning vents in the back seat will also help to keep your pet cool and comfortable, Dr. Hohenhaus said.

Top Ten Tips on How to Keep Your Cat’s Teeth Clean

cat-teeth

Unlike us, cats can’t brush their teeth or find a suitable domestic replacement for chewing on bones and grass — their way of keeping their teeth clean when they’re out in the wild.

Here are ten ways to establish good dental hygiene. After all, you want to prevent your feline from having to undergo uncomfortable — and expensive — surgery after suffering in silence.

#10 Be Vigilant

That mild fishy scent known as “kitty breath”  is considered normal. But if your cat has foul breath, this is a strong indicator he’s having oral problems. If left untreated, your cat’s breath is only going to get worse. Like people, when an animal has bad breath and is drooling, the cause is often related to gum disease and/or tooth decay.

#9 Give Them a Yearly Checkup

Unfortunately, a dental checkup is something most people don’t think about as part of the yearly trip to the veterinarian. But, just like people, cats suffer from dental issues that, if unchecked, can lead to serious health problems.

#8 Be Thorough During the Checkup

It’s important to let your veterinarian know if your cat has bad breath or is bleeding from the mouth (usually noticeable after eating dry food). Occasional bleeding gums are nothing to become too alarmed about, but if your cat has a combination of bleeding gums and bad breath and these symptoms are accompanied by drooling, then he likely needs a deep cleaning or even a tooth extraction.

Ask your vet to thoroughly check your cat’s teeth, gums, breath, and whether the gums are prone to bleeding, swelling or redness.

#7 Establish a Cleaning Routine

It’s not too tricky to get cats used to getting their teeth cleaned. Adult cats are often more resistant, though, so it’s a good idea to get them started young. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends getting cats used to the process while they’re kittens by using a finger cot or gauze, along with toothpaste made specifically for cats. You can also try dipping your finger in tuna water before rubbing it on your kitty’s gums to make the experience more pleasant.

#6 Brush Kitty’s Teeth

Believe it or not, you can brush your cat’s teeth. Toothpaste specially designed for cats is readily available in flavors they’ll enjoy. Do NOT try to brush your cat’s teeth with “people” toothpaste; if fluoride toothpaste is ingested it can make your cat severely ill. Once your cat is used to the flavor of the “kitty toothpaste,” you can cradle your cat from behind, cup his chin, and lift up his lip to clean his teeth using either your gauze covered finger or a kitty toothbrush.

#5 Stimulate Their Gums

Tooth decay usually starts with irritated or inflamed gums, so however you’re able to maintain your cat’s oral health, don’t forget to massage his gums when you can. Not only will this accelerate healing, it will strengthen the gums so your cat will be less likely to suffer from gum problems further on. Gums should normally be pink and healthy, not red in appearance or irritated.

#4 Good Eats

Diet is another important factor in maintaining your cat’s teeth for good health. Besides the variety of feeding your cat a combination of wet and dry foods, you can also include deboned raw meat to stimulate him to chew, which helps to keep the bones strong. Vary the meats, too. Besides fish, you can also feed your cat beef and rabbit.

#3 To Treat or Not to Treat?

Tartar control treats and chews are okay in moderation, but they’re not sufficient for effectively cleaning your cat’s teeth. If, however, you regularly clean your cat’s teeth, special food supplements can be a good addition to an already healthy diet. Try using these healthy chews and treats as a reward for good behavior while getting your cat used to having his teeth cleaned.

#2 Give Them Bones to Chew On

Cats are predators, so part of their natural diet consists of hard bones. Bones knock off tartar and help keep teeth and gums healthy. Since most indoor cats don’t have access to bones, some veterinarians recommend them as a treat. But, be careful not to give your cat pork, chicken or fish bones. These could splinter and cause severe internal injures. Raw bones are also better than cooked ones, since they are less likely to splinter.

#1 Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to heart, kidney, and other serious chronic illnesses. Don’t wait until your cat shows signs of distress to have his teeth checked out. Many cats do not show obvious signs of discomfort until they’re in considerable pain. Preventive care, yearly checkups, and a good diet can ensure that your cat stays happy and healthy.

Top Ten Training Tips for New Puppy Owners

jack-russell-puppy

Most dog owners would love a well-trained pooch. To achieve this, it is best to start the training while your dog is still a puppy and much more malleable. This will mean fewer accidents for you to clean up, multiple pairs of shoes that won’t be chewed, and not to mention that it reflects well on you when your dog is well-behaved.

#10: Be Patient

Remember that your puppy is just a baby and you are training him because he truly doesn’t know any better. There will be accidents in the beginning and you need to stay patient with him if you want to achieve success.

#9: Be Consistent

Consistency is the key to keeping your puppy from becoming confused. If you tell him one thing one day and another the next, you cannot expect him to learn properly.

#8: Be Confident

Dogs need to know who is in charge from the start. Commanding him confidently, holding his leash confidently – all of these things let your dog know that he isn’t running the show, you are.

#7: Use Treats

Treats are far and away the best training trick. As Dr. Lisa Radosta puts it: “If you want to train your dog effectively, you have to find his ‘currency.'” She goes on to suggest finding a treat that will make your puppy do back flips, so that when you move on to harder commands, such as coming to you instead of chasing a cat, your dog is more inclined to listen.

#6: Try the Replacement Theory

Replacement theory is a way to keep your puppy from chewing on inappropriate things. Remember, he doesn’t know any better. So when you catch him with your shoe, firmly say no, take it away, and replace it with something your puppy is allowed to chew on.

#5: Hold the Leash Properly

In holding the leash, make sure that you do not hold it too tightly; there should be enough slack so that your puppy does not feel any discomfort. It takes some getting used to, since it is common for most dog-owners to hold on to the leash too tightly at first.

#4: Utilize Confinement

Confinement can be your best friend when it comes to housetraining your new puppy. When you are not around to keep an eye on your puppy, keep him in a crate or specific playroom or area just for him. Most puppies quickly learn to restrain their bladder, as they do not wish to make a mess of their personal space.

#3: Learn from Others

Enroll in puppy classes. You will benefit from the instructors, as well as the other puppy parents in the class, and your puppy will begin socialization with other dogs.

#2: Stop the Biting at the Start

New puppy owners sometimes allow their puppy to chew on hands or feet because it doesn’t hurt and the puppy is just so darn cute. However, when your puppy reaches full size, those bites are going to really hurt and it will be too late to train him out of it. Discourage biting from the get-go.

#1: Use Discipline, Not Cruelty

There is nothing a puppy can do wrong that warrants cruelty. Always remember that he just wants to please you and is trying his best. If you consistently stop the puppy in the middle of the act of wrong-doing and sternly say “NO,” the point should be made. Or you can try the ignoring theory. To a puppy, even negative attention is attention, so by simply ignoring the puppy, you are showing him that he is behaving unacceptably and won’t get attention from you.

10 Puppy Supplies to Add to Your Checklist

terrier-puppy

You are now the proud caregiver of a new puppy! Over the next several weeks, months, and years you’ll come to learn and experience so many wonderful things. But one of the keys to success is preparation. Make sure you have these puppy checklist items on hand before you’re distracted by a licking, happy ball of fur in the house.

1. Dog Food

Growing puppies need a dog food that is specially formulated for their developmental stage— the “puppy” life stage. Puppies need certain nutrients to grow strong bones and muscles, to feed their developing brains, and to build their immune systems without overdoing it on the calorie count. Optimal nutrient profiles are especially important for large breed puppies, which can develop painful bone conditions when they are allowed to eat foods with a high calcium to phosphorus ratio and thus grow too quickly. Look for large breed puppy foods for puppies which will be 55 pounds or more once fully grown as an adult.

2. Dog Treats

Dog treats are the highlight of a puppy’s day. They can make dog training a snap and improve the human-puppy bond through a positive reinforcement program. However, because it’s easy to overdo, make sure dog treats are small enough to be a tiny bite of flavor … not a meal replacement. In fact, treats should not account for more than 10 percent of your puppy’s daily calories.

3. Dog Toys

Teething puppies have an intrinsic need to chew. If you don’t have an adequate supply of dog chew toys on hand, you can kiss your shoes, purses, and furniture goodbye. Inappropriate chewing is annoying, expensive, and possibly even dangerous, so set your puppy up for success with dog-appropriate chew toys.

4. Bedding

Puppies should have a safe, comfortable, clean spot to sleep. Many owners find crate training an indispensable tool in the house training process, and this solves the problem of both house training and a designated slumber spot. A large dog crate with a soft cozy crate pad is often just what puppy needs for a secure place to lay his busy head.

5. Dog Gates (or Pens)

Dog gates are an excellent way to block doorways to rooms you’d like to keep off-limits to your puppy. Some may even be configured as a personal play pen.

6. Cleaning Supplies

Puppies are messy, no two ways about it. They rip things up. They have “accidents” (hint: enzymatic cleaners are very helpful in these cases). They sometimes vomit on the rug. A good supply of cleaning supplies is indispensable. However, choose cleansers that are designated “pet safe” to ensure that even if Fido sneaks a lick, it won’t be a problem for him or for you.

7. Grooming Supplies

Your puppy will certainly be in need of a bath at some point. While you don’t need a shampoo specific to puppies, you will need one specific to dogs, as their sensitive skin is easily irritated by the stripping cleansers in shampoos designated for people. Have a good brush on hand as well to get your puppy used to being groomed and to keep their puppy coat in tip top shape. Brushing helps keep the coat shiny and healthy by spreading the oils in their skin through the coat.

8. Leash(s)

Dogs aren’t born knowing how to walk on a leash. Training them to get used to a dog leash (and collar) early is an essential socialization skill. For young dogs still learning manners, make sure your leash is short enough that they will be in your control and save the long leashes for when they are a bit older. If you have a small dog — under 20 pounds — you may also want a travel carrier.

9. Collar(s)

Dog collars should be snug enough that your puppy dog can’t back out of them, but large enough for 2-3 fingers to slip comfortably underneath. Remember, a growing dog will need a new collar several times during the puppy stage as he or she gets bigger.

10. Veterinarian Contact Info

Finally, before you bring that new puppy home, make sure you have established a relationship with a veterinarian. Your new four-legged bundle of fur will require ongoing care and advice from a veterinarian. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask questions! A veterinarian can help you make decisions about several things, including vaccinations, neutering, and diet based on what is best for your new puppy!

Top Ten Reasons to Hug your Cat

cat-hug

Happy day! You either have decided to adopt a cat or kitten or already have a cutie at home. It’s important to realize that the more love you show, the more you will get in return. Not sure if you should eschew affection and leave cats to their mysterious ways? Here are ten reasons why you should stop thinking that nonsense a give your cat a hug.

#10 Hugs are Good For You!

Have you ever been sad until you got a hug? Physical contact alone raises spirits, and hugs release those good-feeling endorphins that help chase away the blues! So next time you’re feeling melancholy, pick up your cuddly cat and give them a gentle, loving squeeze. Who knows, you may be lifting their spirits, too!

#9 Cat Health Improves With Cuddling

Like you, the pet parent, cats can get a mood boost by receiving physical affection. This is especially important if you have only one cat, because cats understand their environment best through their highly developed sense of touch. If you are unsure about cat behavior, all you have to do is observe how they interact with each other in the wild, or indoors with you (and the furniture).

#8 Strengthen The Pet/Human Bond

When you first bring a new kitten or cat home, you may be armed with pamphlets on cat information and behavior. But that won’t help if your new addition feels unsecure in their new surroundings. Once they’re brave enough to come out from hiding, coax them gently with positive reinforcement and soft, loving hugs. Your cat will begin to feel right at home in no time.

#7 Unsure if You’re Ready to Adopt?

Maybe you’re not a pet parent, but besides casually looking up information on where to adopt a kitten, you’re just not sure yet. If you follow up leads on friendly cats, a good way to know if you’ve met your future pet is to snuggle them. A responsive cat will be receptive to your affection, which is important if you have a household with small children.

#6 Free Stress Therapy

Sometimes, your life can become so hectic it frazzles your nerves. If you just don’t have the time (or money) to fit a vacation or spa session into your busy schedule, hugging your cat will soothe those jangled nerves in no time.

#5 Good Kitty!

Cat behavior is alluring, mysterious and can be frustrating. Cats may be considered aloof, but in reality they’re very social creatures. The more attention and positive reinforcement you give them, the less likely they are to develop aggressive or destructive behavior. Lavishing your cat with hugs may just be the key to raising a well-behaved and relaxed kitty.

#4 Loving Reassurance

Cats are creatures of habit and don’t like disruptive changes in their immediate environment. From moving to a new location to making a new addition to your family, a cat may suddenly feel out of place or threatened. By reinforcing your bond with affectionate hugs, a cat will be much less likely to act out.

#3 Maximum Purr-fection

Scientific study (and natural curiosity) has led many people to try and discover the “why” of a cat’s purr. Imagine the surprise when it was discovered that the sonic frequency aids in reducing pain and accelerating healing! From sore muscles to mending bones, holding a purring cat close can actually help alleviate physical pain.

#2 Empty Nest Syndrome?

An adult cat is roughly the size of a human infant. So if your kids have gone off to college or no longer need babying you may find that your cat welcomes the extra attention and hugs.

#1 Celebrate June 4th All Year Long!

Of course National Hug Your Cat Day is a wonderful excuse to show your cat extra affection, but it’s best if you practice it year-round. And if you don’t have a cat, then now is your chance to consider adopting one. Cats make excellent cuddle buddies!

Eight Natural Methods for Controlling Fleas on Cats

outdoor-kitten

There are a lot of different options available for cat owners who are being faced with fleas. There are even some options available that are considered more nature-based. Here are a few ways to eliminate fleas on cats the natural way.

1. Prevention, Not Elimination

You may find that some of these “home remedies” work great the first year and then become less effective over time. While these methods are safer, you will find that they are more effective at preventing flea problems than eliminating established infestations. Also, no single method is going to work 100 percent, so it may be necessary to combine a few different methods to reduce the level of infestation present in your home and on your cat.

2. Limit Outdoor Exposure

If your cat spends lots of time outdoors, you will probably have more difficulty controlling fleas naturally, since they may be strongly established in the yard (or wherever your cat frequents) as well as in the home. Be aware that not every flea control method will work for every situation. You may need to use one method for the yard, another for the home and yet another for your cat’s body.

3. Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Your cat can benefit from a simple and thorough rinse with cool water to expel fleas from the body and hair. Following the water bath, using a cedar, eucalyptus, lavender, or citrus-infused shampoo may help to keep fleas at bay – they are all known flea repellants. Adding extra omega-3 fatty acid supplements to your cat’s diet will improve skin health, too. This is especially helpful for protecting the skin from drying out when you are using regular shampooing for eliminating fleas from the haircoat.

4. Flea Comb it Out

If your cat hates water, try using a flea comb. You will need to make sure the comb gets down close to the skin, but you will need to work slowly, as the comb may pull on the hair while you are dragging it through. While combing, concentrate on the areas of your cat’s body where fleas like to hide, like the groin, armpits and base of the tail. Also, have a bowl of soapy water nearby when you use the comb so you can drown the fleas as you remove them.

5. Don’t Forget the Home

Adult fleas will lay eggs in your cat’s bedding, deep in the carpet, and almost everyplace your cat frequents, so you won’t be able to get rid of the entire population of fleas by simply combing and washing your cat. You will need to be sure to also clean and treat the household and yard when fighting fleas. Cedar and diatomaceous earth, for example, can be used in the home to repel fleas from areas where your cats sleep.

6. Vacuum Diligently

You will need to be very diligent in vacuuming and cleaning the inside and outside of your home when dealing with fleas, and you will need to do it frequently in order for it make a real difference. You may wish to initially have your carpets professionally cleaned to help remove some of the deposited eggs and larvae, but this will not eliminate the problem entirely. You will need to vacuum all of the surfaces of your house every few days (disposing of the vacuum bag at least weekly) and wash all of your cat’s bedding almost as often.

7. Use Salt

Salt may be sprinkled into the carpet to work as a desiccant (drying agent) to kill flea eggs and larvae deep in the fibers of the carpet. However, salt would not be a good solution for those who live in areas of the country with higher humidity levels (such as Florida), as it can absorb water and result in mildewed carpet.

8. Treat Your Yard

The outside yard will also need to be kept free of debris (piles of leaves, etc.) to help reduce places for fleas to congregate. Planting certain herbs and plants, such as lavender, eucalyptus, fennel, marigold, in the yard may help direct fleas away from your property. Food-grade diatomaceous earth can also be used to treat the yard without chemicals. It acts as an abrasive and drying agent, much like boric acid does. Just keep in mind that you may need to reapply it after a particularly heavy rain as it can be washed away.

Ten Winter Holiday Pet Hazards

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Winter holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy family and friends. But with all the extra hustle and bustle you may forget to abide by the same pet-proofing measures you follow the rest of the year. We spoke with Dr. Justine Lee, Associate Director of the Pet Poison Helpline and Specialist at Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, to discuss 10 common winter holiday hazards she and her colleagues encounter. Some of the items may surprise you.

1. Chocolate

As tasty as chocolate can be for us, it can be plenty dangerous for our pets. Worse yet, there are many seemingly innocuous forms of chocolate pets can get into during the holidays — chocolate coins, baking chocolate morsels, even chocolate-covered espresso beans and macadamia nuts can dispense an unhealthy dose of methylxanthines to pets. Cats, it’s important to note, can also be adversely affected if they ingest chocolate. But Dr. Lee points out that it’s just that most cats have no interest in it. In fact, over 90 percent of chocolate toxicity calls to the Pet Poison Helpline are for dogs.

2. Alcohol

Now it’s highly unlikely any of your household guests would dare to give Fido or Fluffy a sip of their alcoholic drink, but they may not think twice about a piece of rum cake. Pets may also inadvertently become poisoned if they eat any unbaked bread dough. Once ingested, Dr. Lee Says, “the stomach acts as an artificial oven that basically metabolizes the yeast [from the unbaked dough] into ethanol and carbon dioxide.” This can then cause the animal to bloat from the excess carbon dioxide and suffer from alcohol poisoning from the ethanol.

3. Grapes (and Raisins)

Grapes and their dried cousins, raisins, are other common hazards for pets during the holidays. It may sound unusual, but any candied raisins found in fruit cake or grapes found on appetizer platters could spell bad news for your pet. “The other reason we get a lot of [grape and raisin poison] calls, Dr. Lee says, “is because holidays are a time when family [and friends] visit — and they are sometimes unaware that grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs and cats.”

4. Medications

You may be stickler when it comes to pet-proofing your house, but once the holiday guests arrive that all goes out the window. Traveling household guests often leave open suitcases on the ground, where pets can easily get into prescription medications found Zip-loc bags. Suddenly you have a pet that can get into 20 different medications all at once.

5. Tinsel

Anyone who has a cat needs to really watch out for when using this shiny object around the house, Dr. Lee says. In fact, you may be better off forgoing using tinsel on trees, wreaths, or garland this year. Tinsel is thin and sharp and can easily wrap itself around the intestines or ball up in the stomach once ingested.

6. Xylitol

It may sound like some exotic instrument, but xylitol is just a sugar substitute found in some sugar-free candies, gum and recipes. When ingested by pets, xylitol may cause vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and in severe cases, liver failure. Don’t let your sweet tooth accidentally become hazardous to your pet’s health.

7. Plants

Winter holidays wouldn’t be the same without mistletoe and holly. Unfortunately, these are also two of the more toxic holiday plants to pets, causing severe gastrointestinal disorders, breathing difficulty, even heart failure in extreme cases. The dangers of poinsettias, on the other hand, are overhyped in Dr. Lee’s opinion. Of course, while they are not safe for your pet, often the worse that happens to a dog or cat that ingests a small portion of the poinsettia is a bit of mild indigestion.

8. Liquid Potpourri

Much like “regular” potpourri, liquid potpourri can freshen up any room. However this concentrated fragrance, which is typically simmered in a pot and then placed in a bottle for later use, can cause severe damage to your pet if ingested. “Cats,” Dr. Lee says, “are super curious about [simmering] potpourri and drink the liquid, which then poisons them.” Liquid potpourri also contains a cationic detergent, which is corrosive and can cause burns on a pet’s tongue, difficulty breathing, and even excess liver enzymes.

9. Holiday Ornaments

Although not poisonous, many ornaments have sharp edges that can cause perforations and lacerations to pets that try to chew on the decorations. We wouldn’t dare ask you to strip the house of all the joy holiday ornaments can bring, but please safeguard them for the sake of your pet.

10. Electrical Cords

Winter holidays bring with them plenty of connected devices —lights, lights, and more lights — along with the electrical cords and outlets needed to power these devices. Curious puppies and kittens are especially intrigued by the exposed wiring, Dr. Lee says, and are therefore most in danger of the burns or fluid accumulation in the lungs associated with electrical shocks. Take care where you place electrical cords and outlets, and when possible, place them out of reach from your pets.

Be Prepared

As you can see, the dangers for your pets are numerous. But with a little common sense and a lot of preparation you can minimize the danger. One of the most important aspects of being prepared is knowing what to do if an emergency should occur. Dr. Lee has some advice for that as well. “I always tell people to preprogram the contact numbers for your vet, nearest emergency hospital and the Pet Poison Helpline (855) 213-6680.” So, what are you waiting for? Do it now!