February 18, 2011

Separation Anxiety in Cats

Filed under: separation anxiety — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:18 pm

stressed catSeparation anxiety is relatively common in cats and even if your cat has never shown any of the symptoms of separation anxiety this doesn’t mean the condition won’t develop.  In fact, adult cats are as likely to suffer separation anxiety as younger cats when you are away from long periods of time.  Separation anxiety can actually manifest in a number of different ways.  Some of the most common signs of separation anxiety in cats include destructive behaviors like chewing and scratching, following their owner at all times, inappropriate urination or defecation, or even excessive grooming.

feline stressAs you can guess, it may be difficult to determine whether or not your cat is actually suffering from separation anxiety.  Still, if your veterinarian has ruled out other medical problems and you’re fairly certain that separation anxiety is the problem, there are things you can do.  Separation anxiety may be triggered by a stressful event (such as your cat being alone during a longer vacation) and there are even some genetic or early environmental influences at play.  As such, it is very difficult to prevent separation anxiety.  Instead, behavioral modification techniques and natural anxiety treatments can help you solve your cat’s separation anxiety.

Firstly, try to desensitize your cat to your absence.  Cats are very tuned into our behavior and they may be able to tell you’re planning to leave just by your regular routine.  To desensitize your cat, engage in the behaviors that normally coincide with leaving for an extended absence from your house but stay home.  Also, providing your cat with interactive toys or activities to occupy her while you are away may also prevent inappropriate behavior.  Some cat owners have even noticed an improvement if they leave the TV on the nature channel or if they play the radio while they are gone.  Regardless of the approach you choose, you can effectively solve separation anxiety in cats with consistent, patient behavior modification.

February 9, 2011

Canine Diabetes

Filed under: diabetes in dogs — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:15 pm

Canine diabetes is becoming increasingly common in dogs.  While diabetes seems to affect obese dogs more often, there also appears to be a genetic link to the disease.  For example, certain breeds seem to be predisposed to developing diabetes.  Poodles, Schnauzers, Cairn Terriers, Dachshunds, Keeshounds, Beagles, and Cocker Spaniels are in the highest risk group for developing canine diabetes.

Canine diabetes is a serious disease wherein the dog’s body stops producing enough insulin or when certain cells become resistant to insulin.  As a result of diabetes, affected dogs cannot properly regulate their blood sugar levels leading to a number of problems.  While identifying the symptoms of canine diabetes seems easy enough, many of the symptoms are common for other diseases so you will need to visit a veterinarian for diagnosis.  Nevertheless some of the most common symptoms of canine diabetes include:

  • Increased urination
  • Sudden changes in weight (weight loss or weight gain)
  • Increased drinking
  • Increased appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Cataracts

Through a series of blood tests that determine your dog’s ability to process sugar, your veterinarian will diagnose canine diabetes.  Your veterinarian will likely want to check your dog’s sugar for glucose.  Once a diagnosis of canine diabetes has been made, treatment is necessary.  Left untreated, dogs suffering with diabetes will become very ill and die.

However, diabetes treatment in dogs is very straightforward and quite similar to human treatments.  In extreme cases, your dog may require insulin injections, but in the beginning of treatment your veterinarian will recommend a strict diet and regular exercise.  A diabetic dog should avoid fats and simple carbohydrates and move to a diet that is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.  Finally, your dog will require regular veterinary visits to ensure that his blood sugar levels are maintained at the appropriate levels.

February 1, 2011

The Essentials of Dog Grooming

Filed under: Dog Grooming — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:11 pm

One responsibility of owning a dog is grooming.  In order to maintain the health and well being of your dog, grooming is a necessity.  While dogs don’t need to be bathed every day, there are 5 essential grooming activities that no dog owner should overlook.  Moreover, depending on the breed of your dog as well as his hair type and overall health, grooming can be a very different endeavor for dog owners.  Nevertheless, hair brushing, nail clipping, bathing, tooth care, and regular haircuts should be a part of every dog’s grooming regiment.

Dogs usually enjoy being brushed and hair brushing sessions give you and your dog an important opportunity to bond.  Indeed, all grooming activities give a dog and his owner time together and many dog owners admit to enjoying grooming once they get the hang of it.  The type of hair that your dog has is important when it comes to brushing.  Long haired dogs should be brushed frequently, even daily, to prevent hair from matting.  Medium-haired dogs are less affected by matting but they should still be brushed regularly, perhaps weekly.  Obviously, short-haired dogs will require the least brushing and these breeds will be satisfied with monthly brushing.

Nail trimming can be a bit tricky because dogs have some nerve endings in the quick of their nail.  If you trim the quick, your dog will not be happy and the nail will likely bleed.  Also, dogs don’t usually enjoy having their nails trimmed, so if you are not confident you should consider taking your dog to a groomer.  Similarly, dogs don’t always enjoy bathing and it can be hectic for the owner as well.  Dogs should be bathed monthly and you can speak to your veterinarian about the best kind of shampoo for your dog.

Clearly, dental health has implications for the wider health of your dog.  Your vet will likely recommend regular brushings, as often as once a week, but there are also dog foods and treats designed specifically to improve your dog’s dental health.  Finally, long- and medium-haired dogs will require regular haircuts.  Cutting your dogs hair can be difficult, so you should find a trustworthy professional to cut your dog’s hair at least once a month.  Remember, the benefits of grooming are extensive.  You’ll have more time to bond with your dog and your dog will look and feel great!

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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.