January 31, 2010

Can my Dog eat with no Teeth?

Filed under: dental care for dogs,dog dental,dog with no teeth — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:11 pm

dog with no teethThe luckiest dog owners will get to see their beloved pet grow to a ripe, old age. While the health of older dogs is a bigger concern, we all want to believe that our dogs will be around for a very long time. Yet, in many of these cases these dogs have special care needs and many pet owners wonder if a dog with no teeth can still eat.

Clearly, the best thing a dog owner can do to ensure their dogs will have no problem enjoying their favorite foods long into adulthood is to take care of your dog’s teeth. Proper dental care should start early and will include using milk bones and even tooth brushes from time to time. Still, for many dogs, losing teeth is inevitable as they get older.

Nevertheless, even without teeth your dog can still eat; but as a loving owner, you will need to make some more intelligent choices when it comes to their diet. Chewy treats and dog bones are probably no longer appropriate. Likewise, dogs lose their ability to crunch on dry dog food as they lose their teeth so you will almost definitely need to make some dietary changes.

canine tooth careIn the early stages of losing teeth, switch to softer, dry food. Your dog will still have some teeth and should manage well will soft or semi-moist food. But once your dog loses all its teeth, even softer dog foods will be difficult. You’ll want to make the switch to canned, wet foods and you’ll need to spend some extra time preparing the food. Your dog doesn’t have any teeth so it probably cannot break up even wet food very easily. Cut or mash the wet food so that your dog can easily take small bites. No teeth makes meal times a bit more challenging but certainly not impossible.

January 29, 2010

Do Rabbits Eat Carrots?

Filed under: carrots and rabbits,nutritional foods for rabbits,rabbit diet — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:19 am

healthy food for rabbitsWho can forget the image of Bugs Bunny chomping on carrots as he outwits Elmer Fudd. We’re all familiar with the stereotype of rabbits eating carrots, but is it true? Indeed, rabbits do eat carrots but their diet is not as specific as carrots alone. Wild rabbits eat a variety of foods and while each species of rabbit will have some variation in their diets, most rabbits enjoy a similar range of foods.

Carrots are loved by rabbits because they are hard vegetables that help them to sharpen and work their teeth. Also, carrots are sweet and a great treat for rabbits, but this food alone is insufficient for their diets. In fact, eating carrots alone can provide your rabbit with too many calories and too few vitamins so you should introduce a more complete diet to your rabbit. Rabbits, for example, love to eat hay for fibre. Hay can help rabbits maintain good digestive health, specifically intestinal health. Fresh vegetables are also important for rabbits but they must be combined with some food that is high in fibre (i.e. hay). Vegetables provide nutrients and water to rabbits but can cause diarrhea if rabbits don’t get enough fibre. Finally, fresh fruits like apples, cherries, peaches, and berries can be fed to your rabbit as a treat; however, fruits are high in sugars and should be given to rabbits in moderation only. The can be a great treat and are especially useful for luring an escaped rabbit!

Whatever diet you feed your rabbit, remember that it needs to include a range of vitamins and nutrients. Like humans, rabbits need to eat well to live a long and healthy life. Feeding your rabbit the same food every day will not only be boring for your rabbit but will also prevent them from achieving proper nutritional health.

January 28, 2010

How many times a day should I walk my dog?

A healthy lifestyle is based on a balanced diet and regular exercise. Whether we’re talking about dogs, cats, rats or people, this statement holds true. Still, not all dogs require the same exercising your dogamount of exercise so you need to carefully consider the needs of your dog before you can answer the question: how many times a day should I walk my dog?

Some dogs like Golden Retrievers or Border Collies need a lot of exercise. Many pet owners love Border Collies because they are intelligent and gentle, but they are often surprised to learn that Border Collies can become very high strung if they don’t get enough exercise. Anybody who has ever owned this breed of dog knows it can chase a ball for hours every day. Because Border Collies and other herding dogs evolved to follow herds of animals over several kilometres, they often need much more exercise than large breeds of dog. Some bigger breeds like Saint Bernard’s or Newfoundland’s require less exercise but still need regular walking.

For the most part, dogs will need to get outside several times a day to go to the toilet. Still, taking your dog out for 5 minutes does not constitute a walk. A good rule of thumb is at least 2 walks per day for any dog. Larger dogs will need longer walks but you really can’t walk your dog too much. The more time you have for walking is better but never let your dog go for a day without at least 2 walks. One walk in the morning and one walk in the evening are the absolute minimum. And for dogs that require more exercise, you’ll need to augment this exercise schedule. The importance of your dog’s physical fitness should never be underestimated so get your dog outside for several walks a day. Personally, I like to walk my dog at least once before work, once after work, and once before bed.

January 27, 2010

How can I tell if my fish is sick?

Filed under: fish behavior,fish health,healthy fish behaviours,sickness in fish — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:05 am

You may not be an expert on fish behaviour or health but you know that your fish can get sick. Unfortunately, in many cases fish die before their owners realize that they’re ill but there are signs that you should watch for if you suspect your fish might be ill. In most cases, when a fish develops a disease, its behaviour or appearance will change noticeably. A vigilant fish owner will recognize these changes and take the necessary steps to get their fish healthy again.

signs of a sick fishSo the first thing a pet owner needs to do is observe their fish when it’s healthy. If you don’t know how your healthy fish behaves or looks it will be extremely difficult to recognize behaviours that indicate your fish is sick. Most fish sickness is the result of stress; even in humans stress compromises the immune system and in fish this is often fatal. Some of the most stressful and therefore most detrimental health factors for fish include poor water quality, wildly fluctuating water temperature, insufficient space in the tank for fish, lack of oxygen, or poor nutrition.

If you suspect your fish is ill, there are some clear signs of a problem. First of all, changes in eating behaviour often indicate illness as do changes in exploratory behaviour. If your fish refuses to eat or swim around the tank, these could be early signs of illness. Even when an inactive fish become suddenly active you might be dealing with an illness. Visible spots or lesions on your fish’s scales also indicate illness. Finally, changes in swimming patterns can indicate sickness; so, if your fish is floating, sinking, whirling, or swimming sideways, you may have a problem.

Because fish cannot vocalize illness in the way that humans or other mammals do, it is extremely important to watch their behaviour to discover illness. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, visit a vet immediately.

January 26, 2010

How to maintain a healthy diet for my bird?

Generally speaking, healthy human foods make healthy bird foods. The best way to ensure the health and happiness of your bird is to give them a nutritionally rich diet that includes fruits, seeds, and even insects. Wild birds tend to live a lot longer than domesticated birds and for the most part this is because of their diet. Most bird owners feed their birds seed-only diets which are not actually a balanced diet. When birds were first domesticated, we had little information about their diets in the wild and assumed that seeds and nuts would be sufficient. As we’ve learned more about the nutritional requirements of birds we know that because of their rapid metabolic rate birds are highly susceptible to dietary deficiencies.

Consequently, it is vitally important that we understand our bird’s dietary needs and try to ensure that they get a full and balanced diet. Seeds are good for birds because they are high in fat but have little in the way of vitamins which is why it is crucial that you introduce foods from a variety of food groups. Birds, like humans, rely on a range of vitamins for their survival and should be eating foods from the major food groups including dairy, meat, and fruits and vegetables. Dairy and poultry products like yogurt, cheese, or eggs can provide an excellent source of calcium and protein. Beans and legumes are a preferred alternative as far as a source of protein is concerned. Moreover, fruits and vegetables are necessary for a balanced diet as they provide the majority of essential vitamins.

As you can see, giving your bird food from a variety of sources provides them with all the vitamins and nutrients you need. Still, you should be careful to avoid foods that are high in fats as they’re likely to get the majority of their fat requirements from seeds and nuts.

January 25, 2010

When I move, will it affect my dog?

Filed under: dog stress,moving homes with your dog,moving with your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:15 am

moving dogsMoving house is a stressful event for everybody. Humans don’t usually enjoy moving because of the work associated but also there are emotions attached to moving house. Perhaps we’re moving from the home we grew up in or we’re simply moving cities for a new job, it doesn’t really matter, we usually have mixed emotions about moving. The same is true for your dog except your dog doesn’t understand the reasons behind the move. From a dog’s perspective, there is suddenly a lot of commotion in the house and then they find themselves in a new place that they don’t understand or recognize.

canine stressDogs mark their territory and when they’re placed in a new environment without any warning they can begin to exhibit strange behaviours. In most cases, dogs will adjust easily to a new home by exploring and sniffing their new surroundings. Unfortunately, high strung or anxious dogs may not cope well with moving and could begin to demonstrate some aggressive or antisocial behaviour. For example, if your dog can smell evidence of other pets that previously lived in the new home, it may start marking its territory, which isn’t exactly ideal behaviour from the perspective of the pet owner. Similarly, your pet might need to be reminded about housetraining because it is confused about the new surroundings.

In most cases, your dog just needs time to adapt to the new home. Give your dog several opportunities to visit the new home before moving so that they won’t be so confused when they arrive. Other than that, you can help your dog by offering lots of support. Love and affection can put your dog at ease and make the transition to a new home much easier to handle. The confusion a dog feels about new surroundings can make it difficult for them to adjust so dog owners need to be patient and supportive during this process.

January 22, 2010

Fish Tank For Beginners

Filed under: fish tank maintenance,fish tank responsibilities,fish tank water — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:08 am

Investing in a fish tank can be a great way to bring some colour and personality to a room or office. Yet, with the investment comes a variety of responsibilities. Fish tank beginners will likely have a lot of questions they need answered so they know how to set up a good fish tank that is the ideal environment for fish. From water and temperature to light and location, the following tips should help you in getting started with your fish tank.

Many beginners think that tap water is perfectly safe for their freshwater fish. This is not the case. Because most tap water in the Western world is treated with chlorine and other dissolved gases to make it safer for drinking but can be deadly for fish. As such, water needs to be conditioned before you introduce fish into your tank. The easiest way to condition your fish tank water is to let the water stand for a couple of weeks in the tank before you put fish in it. Moreover, you can buy some chemicals from your local pet shot to remove chlorine and other harmful elements from your fish tank water.

Next, you need to consider the temperature of your fish tank. The water should ideally be warmed to somewhere between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius. Most fish live happily in this temperature range but if you’re not sure you can always ask at the pet store. Next, you need to ensure there is either a natural or artificial light source for your fish. They need light to feed and reproduce but you’ll also need light to promote growth of aquarium plants.

Finally, think carefully about the location of your fish tank. You need to ensure adequate light but never put a fish tank in direct sunlight as this can overheat the water. Also, avoid putting your fish tank near anything that can affect water temperature including heaters or air conditioners.

January 21, 2010

What is a good diet for my hamster?

hamster dietLike caring for any pet, caring for your hamster requires a good diet. What to feed our pets is probably one of the most important questions a pet owner can ask and this is true no matter what kind of pet, large or small. Hamsters will thrive when given a healthy diet and many pet stores offer commercial brand hamster foods that are healthy and nutritious. In most cases, store bought hamster foods will have the correct balance of nutritional elements and will appeal to your hamster’s tastes. In addition to a nutritious diet, hamsters will also need plenty of water and should always have a fresh supply in their cages.

Should you choose to supplement your hamster’s diet with fresh fruits and vegetables it is important that you do your research first. Hamsters will eat almost any kind of fruit, vegetable, seed or nut but this doesn’t mean that all foods are safe for your hamster. For example, you should never feed your hamster almonds, apple seeds, citrus fruits, eggplant, garlic, red beans, mushrooms, onions, pickles, rhubarb, tomatoes, or human junk food. On the other hand, there are a wide range of foods that your hamster will enjoy.

Feeding a hamster various seeds and nuts make a great treat. Often included in commercial hamster foods, seeds and nuts have a high fat content and are enjoyed by hamsters. However, be careful when feeding seeds and nuts to dwarf hamster as too many in the diet can cause fur to fall out. One or two nuts on alternate days is more than enough for a dwarf hamster while average hamsters can probably eat twice as much. Hamsters also love to eat green vegetables like cucumber or lettuce. One of the side benefits of these foods is that they also provide your hamster with water. Still, too many green vegetables, especially lettuce, can cause liver problems; as such, you should only feed your hamster green vegetables every two or three days.

January 20, 2010

How Can I Train My Cat To Stop Biting?

Filed under: cat aggressive behaviour,cat biting,training cat to stop biting — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:26 am

When we make the decision to extend our family by bringing a cat home, our expectations are for a lovely, cuddly creature that will bring love and affection into our lives. For the most part, cats provide the kind of love we’re looking for but from time to time cats exhibit aggressive behaviour like biting and pet owners are left trying to figure out how to stop this unwanted behaviour. One of the first steps a cat owner must take when trying to cease biting behaviour is to understand the underlying cause. In many cases your cat may be suffering from a painful physical condition, like an ear or tooth infection that can make your cat irritable and more likely to strike out. As such, one of your first responsibilities is to visit your veterinarian.

how to stop a cat from bitingStill, many people will tell you that the vet couldn’t solve the problems they were facing because of cat biting. In these situations, training your cat to stop biting is your only option. Again, the underlying causes of the biting must be determined. Most of the time, cats bite when they are playing, but sometimes stressful changes can lead to dramatic changes in your cat’s behaviour. Preventing cats from biting requires training them from a young age that biting humans is unacceptable behaviour. Behaviour modification techniques usually rely on a model of punishment or reinforcement. Reinforcing good behaviour while mildly punishing bad behaviour is the most effective way of stopping cat biting. Remember that your punishments and rewards need to be consistent. Carefully observe your cat so you can learn the signs that indicate biting will occur. When you see your cat demonstrate these behaviours, remove it from the situation that is causing your cat stress so that it doesn’t have the opportunity to bite. Moreover, when your cat demonstrates good behaviours give it rewards like treats or gentle pets. Remember that you need to set a consistent example and never let biting behaviour go unnoticed. In a short time you can teach your cat that biting is not going to be accepted.

January 18, 2010

Does Your Dog Have Cataract?

Filed under: blind dogs,cataract in dogs,dog blindness,dog cataract — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:30 am

Cataract in CatsAt some point or another we’ve all heard about cataracts. In most cases, our parents or grandparents have been diagnosed with cataracts and likely required surgery to repair the condition. What might shock you to learn is that dogs can also suffer from cataracts. In fact, cataracts are one of the most common eye diseases in dogs and they can affect any breed at any age.

Dog cataracts are caused by the degradation of fibres in the lens of the eye. Most commonly a genetic condition, cataracts may either be congenital, meaning the condition is present from birth, or early onset, meaning the condition develops at a young age. While some breeds are at a higher risk for inheriting cataracts (namely Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Siberian Huskies, Standard Poodles, Boston Terriers, and Mini Schnauzers), the fact remains that cataracts can be developed by any breed of dog. Indeed, other conditions have been known to lead to cataracts and even poisons, trauma, or infections can cause cataracts. Furthermore, certain medical conditions like diabetes can also increase the likelihood that your dog will suffer from cataracts.

Luckily, there are treatment options available for dogs with cataracts. For the most part, surgical repair or replacement of the lens will be required to restore you dog’s vision but the treatment is not 100% effective. Unfortunately, while the surgery can vastly improve your dog’s eyesight there is no current treatment to restore vision completely. Moreover, the cost of cataract surgery for dogs can be prohibitively high but because of its importance for maintaining your dog’s quality of life it should not be avoided. If you suspect your dog is suffering from cataracts, speak to your veterinarian about treatment options. Dog cataracts are a natural and relatively common eye disease and despite surgery as the primary treatment option, the condition can be managed.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.