April 16, 2010

Holistic Dog Cancer Treatments

Filed under: dogs with cancer,holistic cancer treatments,prevent dog cancer — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:38 am

canine cancer There are many natural ways that we can prevent cancer. First and foremost, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet is the most effective way to prevent dog cancer. Still, once a diagnosis has been made you need to find solutions to the problem of cancer. Most holistic treatments for dog cancer focus on natural herbs and supplements as well as dietary changes to make an unfavorable environment for the cancer cells. Moreover, holistic treatments can ameliorate the symptoms of standard treatments for dog cancer.

For example, radiotherapy is a common way that veterinarians try to kill cancer cells but this treatment also affects healthy skin cells. Omega 3 fatty acids may prevent damage to skin cells during radiation treatments. Salmon oil is not only an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids but it is high in antioxidants as well and has some efficacy for reducing the symptoms of dog cancer, especially gastrointestinal cancers.

Also, dietary changes are highly recommended for dogs with cancer. Many veterinarians will recommend limiting carbohydrates in your dog’s diet as a means of starving the cancer cells holistically. Lactate is produced when simple carbohydrates are broken down and cancer cells feed on this lactate. There are also a number of holistic pet health supplements that have had some beneficial effects in dogs with cancer.

  • Echinacea improves immune functioning and supports your dog’s lymphatic system.
  • Ashwagandha can prevent the spread and growth of tumors.
  • Milk Thistle can be used to reduce the symptoms associated with chemotherapy as it restores liver health and helps to detoxify the liver so your dog’s body can more easily expel toxins.
  • Selenium is a natural antioxidant that can protect healthy cells.

While holistic treatments are not the norm for dog cancer, they can support the program recommended by your veterinarian.

April 15, 2010

What is Anal Gland Disease?

Filed under: anal gland disease,anal glands,gland disease — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:18 am

While more common in dogs, anal gland disease is a condition that can affect both cats and dogs. Around your pet’s anal opening there are some small sacs known as the anal glands which can become infected causing abscesses. In normal cats and dogs, the anal glands secrete a clear or cream colored substance during defecation that is used to market territory.

Anal gland disease in cats and dogs occurs when the anal glands become impacted or blocked. The contents of the glands can become dry and hard leading to inflammation and possibly an abscess. Some of the symptoms of anal gland disease include:

  • Swelling or redness of the anal area
  • Irritation near the anus
  • Severe pain
  • Behavioral changes

In addition to these symptoms, pets with anal gland disease may bite at their bottom or drag their bottom along the ground. In many cases, the abscesses that develop due to anal gland disease can burst which can be extremely painful for your cat or dog.

Treating anal gland disease is usually preventative. If your dog or cat has suffered from anal gland disease before, your veterinarian will recommend adding more fiber to your pet’s diet. The extra bulk in your pet’s feces will put gentle pressure on the anal glands ensuring that they are squeezed during defecation and preventing a blockage. Your veterinarian will have to manually squeeze the anal glands to express the substance from the gland. In addition, if abscesses have been formed, your veterinarian will clean the area and may prescribe antibiotics to treat infection. In very extreme cases of anal gland disease, cats and dogs may have to have surgery to remove the anal glands. In most cases, anal gland disease is not a risk to your pet’s life but it can cause a fair amount of discomfort.

April 14, 2010

Feline Respiratory Disease

Most often caused by upper respiratory infections, feline respiratory disease is especially common in kittens. These infections are caused by a variety of organisms even if the disease symptoms are fairly similar. The majority of feline respiratory disease cases are caused by some kind of viral infection, mostly feline calicivirus or feline herpes virus 1. Still, there are some bacteria that can cause feline respiratory disease, for example Chlamydophila felis, Mycoplasma, or Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Regardless of the particular cause, feline respiratory disease presents itself in very similar ways. Some of the most common symptoms of feline respiratory disease include

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose and/or eyes
  • Sniffles
  • Mouth or nose ulcers
  • Fever

Similarly, the risk factors for feline respiratory disease are not based on the causes or symptoms. Kittens are at the highest risk because their immune system is not fully developed. Moreover, kittens with feline respiratory disease will have more severe symptoms than adult cats. Logically then, cats that are immuno-suppressed are also at a higher risk of developing feline respiratory disease. Another risk factor for this condition is over-crowding which may occur in shelters, rescue centers, or pet stores. Upper respiratory infections are easily spread between cats making over-crowding a serious risk factor. Stress, improper or incomplete vaccinations, and genetics can also lead to an elevated risk of developing feline respiratory disease.

In most cases, feline respiratory disease is quite mild and treatment focuses on dealing with the symptoms. Nevertheless, it is not impossible for feline respiratory disease to be a fatal condition especially when more serious conditions like pneumonia develop subsequent to the original infection. Some of the more serious symptoms of feline respiratory disease include

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Open-mouth breathing

If you notice these symptoms, visit your veterinarian immediately to seek the proper treatment.

April 13, 2010

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Filed under: separation anxiety — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:43 am

When you leave your dog home alone for long periods of time, does he wreak havoc in your home? Separation anxiety is a real condition that dogs suffer from and one that many dog owners have experienced themselves. Dogs get bored and try to find activities to occupy their minds and many of these activities are inappropriate but this does not necessarily indicate that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. In fact, separation anxiety is associated with distinct and identifiable symptoms.

The major symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include:

  • Refusal to leave your side when you’re home
  • Destructive behavior
  • Inappropriate toileting, especially defecation inside the house
  • Constant barking and whining
  • Behavioral problems when your dog is isolated, even if you’re home.

Imagine how you feel when you get anxious about something and then try to understand how a dog suffering from separation anxiety must feel. This condition is not simply a case of loneliness so you should need to make some changes if you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.

First of all, try to move in and out of the house without giving your dog excessive attention. You don’t want to leave the house without saying goodbye but you also don’t want to make a big production that may trigger the separation anxiety. In fact, by giving your dog a lot of attention before you leave the house, you may be inadvertently rewarding your dog’s inappropriate behavior. Also, it is vital that you exercise your dog regularly for numerous reasons but keep in mind that if your dog is tired he’s much more likely to sleep than destroy your house. Finally, try to leave your dog some interesting activities when you’re not at home. Leave the TV or radio on or get some toys so your dog will be occupied while you’re out. Still, serious separation anxiety may not be easily cured and you might have to turn to a vet visit or hiring a pet-sitter.

April 12, 2010

Am I allergic to dogs?

Filed under: allergic to dogs,dog allergies,hypoallergenic breeds,pet allergies — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:31 am

Dog allergies are relatively common in the human world. The leading cause of the allergies is actually pet dander floating around in the air. These dead skin flakes are more prevalent during the spring because dogs begin to shed in spring meaning allergies can become much worse. If you suspect you may be allergic to dogs, there are some things you can do to reduce your symptoms.

First, you need to know the signs of allergy to determine if pet dander is going to be a problem for you. Allergies often manifest in the same way: itchy eyes, a runny nose, asthma, and rashes are among the most common symptoms of allergy. If you notice these reactions increase when you’re in the presence of a dog, you’re likely suffering from an allergy to dogs.

Luckily, there are a wide range of products on the market that are designed to treat pet allergies. From shampoos that moisturize your dog’s skin to prevent dander to shedding tools to control hair, there are definitely ways that you can minimize the severity of your allergic reaction. Medications are also a popular alternative for treating allergies to dogs.

In addition, there are a number of hypoallergenic breeds which are less likely to cause severe allergic reactions in humans. allergic to dogsSome of these breeds include:

  • Shih Tzus
  • Poodles
  • Hybrids
  • Portuguese water dogs
  • Schnauzers
  • Yorkshire terriers
  • Maltese

The important thing to remember is that pet allergies do not need to prevent you from becoming a pet owner. Do your research and you’ll find many ways to ameliorate the problems associated with these allergies. Whether you get a hypoallergenic breed or you take the necessary precautions to control allergens, you can be a happy pet owner with a happy, healthy puppy.

April 11, 2010

Caring for your Pet’s Eyes

Vision is an incredibly important sense for humans and animals alike. While blindness does not signify the end of life, we want to protect our senses and you should protect your pet’s vision as well. Any time you think your pet may be suffering from some kind of eye problem, it is important to get it checked by a veterinarian right away. Cataracts, pink eye, dry eye, glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and ocular discharge are common conditions that can affect cats and dogs.

Let’s take a moment to discuss some of the most common eye ailments.

Red Eyes

Both cats and dogs can suffer from red eyes. This condition occurs when blood vessels in the sclera, cornea, or lining of the eyeball and eyelids become enlarged. Red eyes may also be the symptom of more serious eye conditions like glaucoma or diseases of the eye socket. Have a veterinarian check for possible illnesses if your pet suffers from red eyes and always make sure to keep your pet’s eyes clean to prevent inflammation and discomfort.

Dry Eyes

More formally known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KIS), dry eyes are a condition marked by decreased tear production. As the cornea and conjunctiva dry out because of a lack of watery tears, they become inflamed and sore. This can cause scarring and pigmentation on the cornea which may ultimately affect vision.

Ocular Discharge

While not a disease in and of itself, ocular discharge is one of the most common symptoms of eye disease or infection. Depending on the ailment, discharge may have a sudden or gradual onset and may be watery, mucusy, or bloody. More ocular discharge would indicate a more serious eye disease or infection and if your pet suffers from prolonged ocular discharge it is always best to have it checked by a vet.

April 10, 2010

Selecting a Boarding Facility for your Cat

Filed under: boarding facilites for cats,boarding kennels,cat sitting,pet sitters — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:06 am

It’s not uncommon for cat owners to need to find somebody to care for their cat. Whether you have a vacation, business trip, or family emergency finding a safe, comfortable place for your cat to stay isn’t always as easy as leaving your cat with a friend or family member. There are various kinds of boarding facilities for cats including veterinary clinics, pet sitters, and boarding kennels.

Choosing the right place for your cat is paramount. Always visit boarding facilities before you leave your cat to ensure that your cat will be well cared for in your absence. Some veterinary clinics offer boarding facilities, which is often a great option for your cat. First of all, especially if it’s your cat’s vet, your cat will know the staff and will already have a level of comfort when interacting with them. Also, for cats with ongoing medical conditions, boarding at a vet’s office is perfect because you know their health will be closely monitored.

In addition to veterinary offices, there are many individuals who offer pet sitting services. A reputable cat sitter will have experience caring for all kinds of cats and they’ll actually work out of your home so your cat doesn’t have to readjust to a new environment. Still, be sure to carefully review references of pet sitters and always try to get a sense of how your pet sitter relates to your cat, how often they can come to your house or if they can stay at your house, and if they’re willing to provide special care (such as administering medications).

Finally, boarding kennels are designed specifically to care for your pets while you’re out of town. Check the yellow pages or talk to friends with pets to get a list of boarding kennels in your area then make an appointment to visit. Wherever you leave your cat, be sure it’s a safe, stimulating, and comfortable environment.

April 9, 2010

My Cat is Pregnant, What Should I Do?

Filed under: cat becoming pregnant,cat pregnancy,pregnant cats — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:15 am

my cat is pregnantPet cats should be spayed or neutered. Not only does “fixing” your cat prevent future diseases, it also helps to control the population of stray cats. Nevertheless, cat pregnancy happens and if your cat becomes pregnant it’s your responsibility to care for the mother and her unborn kittens. Typically, cat pregnancy lasts for about 65 days and during this time you’ll need to protect the mother and her health.

One of your first responsibilities during your cat’s pregnancy is grooming. Especially when the mother is carrying a large litter, she may not be able to groom herself properly. Grooming is an important aspect of your cat’s health and safety so if you notice your pregnant cat having difficulty grooming, be sure to brush her more often and wipe her backside with a warm, damp cloth.

In addition to grooming, you need to make sure your pregnant cat is receiving the proper nutrition. Speak to your veterinarian about special dietary needs of pregnant cats and how you can ensure that your pregnant cat is properly fed. Pregnant cats will typically eat about 25 per cent more calories and nutrients than usual. Also, during pregnancy cats may have a voracious appetite so take care not to over-feed her. You usually won’t need to provide your cat with vitamin supplements unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian.

Finally, during the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, you’ll need to be vigilant about your cat’s behavior. When your cat is preparing to give birth, she will look for an appropriate place for labor as well as post-natal care of her infants. Another sign that labor is imminent is a temperature drop of about 1°C in your cat. When you start to notice these behaviors it’s time to get ready for labor.

April 8, 2010

Is my dog fat?

Filed under: dog obesity,obese dogs,obesity in dogs — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:18 am

As is the case with the obesity epidemic in humans, pets are becoming more obese as well. In the past two decades the incidence of dog obesity has increased dramatically and this is probably closely associated with the more sedentary lives of pet owners. In fact, the changes in human lives quite closely mirror the changes in dog lives. For example, historically humans needed to work hard to accomplish what are very basic tasks in life today. Laundry was much more of a chore; heating the house required building a fire which necessitated chopping wood; and our jobs have evolved from laborious outdoor work to office-based work.

Similar changes can be noted in a dog’s life. Today, our pets are just companions. They don’t have any work to do, per se. Yet, historically dogs helped on farms or with hunting or were required to survive the harsh realities of life in the wild. Now, dogs are fed and pampered and they often don’t get as much exercise as they need. As a result, dog obesity is on the rise. Unfortunately, obesity in dogs is also associated with very serious health complications. Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other diseases of the kidneys, lungs, and liver are much more likely in obese dogs.

As the owner, it is your responsibility to help your dog lose weight. Fortunately for dogs, they have a very controlling personal trainer: you. Remember that your dog will eat whatever you give him so you should start by restricting his diet. Don’t drastically cut calories, but gradually reduce your dog’s caloric intake over a few weeks. Also, increase their exercise. Regular walks and visits to the park to play fetch are great ways for your dog to get more exercise. Again, you want to limit physical activity to your dog’s ability and gradually increase exercise times as his health improves.

April 7, 2010

Why Do Cats Spray?

Filed under: cats spray,cats spraying,pheromones,spraying — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:34 am

Spraying is a natural cat behavior that is used for marking their territory. It is a kind of non-verbal communication between cats that is used to set boundaries. Pheromones are chemicals found in all animal species that can be used to communicate a number of behaviors. In fact, pheromones help cats to attract mates, signal familiarity, and are also an important aspect of spraying behavior.

Most often, male cats spray to mark familiar objects and boundaries between territories. Spraying involves the excretion of a fine mist of urine that includes these pheromones for marking. Many pet owners falsely believe that spraying is a urinary problem when in fact it is a normal behavior. The reason the problem is more pronounced in male cats is because it’s the males who protect their territories but females will spray when they are in heat.

Cats do not spray just to annoy you. This is a learned behavior that has helped them to survive in the wild. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can control the issue of spraying. First of all, have your cat spayed or neutered. Spraying is associated with sex hormones so when cats have been spayed or neutered, they are much less likely to spray. Also, if your cat starts to spray suddenly, you should have her examined by a vet. There are some medical problems that can cause cats to spray. Finally, try to eliminate stress from your cat’s life. There are a number of stressful situations, such as fighting with other cats, separation anxiety, or moving homes that can increase spraying incidents. Always try to reduce stressful situations in your cat’s life.

Most importantly, remember that spraying is normal, natural behavior and you may not be able to eliminate it completely. Clean spots thoroughly and try to evaluate why your cat is spraying. Then make the necessary changes to avoid the behavior in the future.

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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.