May 31, 2013

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

Filed under: Disaster Preparedness — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:17 pm

Disaster preparedness petsWhether you live in an earthquake zone, tornado zone, or another region that is susceptible to natural disasters, you already know the importance of being prepared.  You know that food, water, and first aid supplies for your family should be collected and stored in advance – but t are you prepared for your pets?  In preparing pet materials for a disaster, your veterinarian can be a great help.  Otherwise, this article will detail a few tips to help you with disaster preparedness for pets.

There are a number of steps that must be taken to prepare pets for emergencies and disasters.  The following suggestions should get you started on pet disaster preparedness:

  • Purchase or assemble animal evacuation and first aid kits.
  • Ensure your pet carrier is in good condition.
  • Make sure all pets are wearing identification tags with full contact details including your name, address, and phone numbers.
  • Photocopy veterinary records so they can be safely stored in case of a disaster; these records should include a medical history, a list of vaccinations, a list of medications, and other important medical information.
  • Ensure you have evacuation plans developed for your family and pets.
  • Prepare emergency sources of food and water for your pets.

Following these guidelines will help you keep your pet healthy through a natural disaster, but what do you do if you’re not at home?  Most of us leave our pets alone from time to time so you need to prepare for your pet being alone during a disaster.  Purchase some signs or stickers for each entry to your home to notify authorities and neighbors that you have pets and where they can find emergency supplies.  Furthermore, choose a trustworthy neighbor that will care for your animals if you cannot reach them during an emergency.  This neighbor should have a key to enter your home, access to the emergency preparedness kit, and should also be familiar with your pets.  A natural disaster does not necessarily spell disaster for your pets.  Think ahead and plan for your pets so you’re ready in case of an emergency.

We’re social! Do you have a comment, question, or concern about disaster preparedness for pets? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

May 17, 2013

Farm Animals and Medication

Filed under: Farm Animals — Tags: , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:38 pm

Farm Animal HealthThroughout life, there are times when we all feel under the weather and other times when we feel on top of the world.  Not surprisingly, when we are sick we often look to modern medicine to make us healthy again.  Yet while humans hardly hesitate to seek prescription drugs, we may or may not help our animals with animal prescription drugs.  However, farm animals also suffer from bacterial and viral diseases and infections and in many cases farm animal medications are necessary to cure their illnesses.  Furthermore, parasites can also cause health problems for farm animals and need the proper farm animal medications.

Clearly, farm animal prescription drugs, much like pet meds, are used to serve two purposes to treat disease and to prevent disease.  In most cases, you can find effective drugs from a pet pharmacy or other reputable source.  Many conditions cannot be prevented and farm animal medications are especially useful for treating bacterial or viral infections.  In addition, even treatment offers prevention as by curing an animal’s illness you can prevent other animals in the flock or herd from becoming ill.  Furthermore, preventative farm animal medications can help to ensure the welfare and health of animals throughout their lives.  Vaccinations and other preventative animal prescription drugs are necessary for keeping farm animals healthy.

While we may not always show the same concern about farm animal health as we do about pet health, the fact remains that farmers make their money from their animals.  Maintaining the health of farm animals is one of the most important jobs of a farmer and farm animal medications help.  As medical technology advances, farm animal prescription drugs have become safer and more effective.  Nowadays, many illnesses affecting farm animals can be treated quickly and easily through the use of the right farm animal medications.

May 7, 2013

Natural Flea Prevention and Treatment

natural flea prevention and treatmentFleas can be a particularly pesky and difficult pest to eliminate; they can jump around 100 times their own height, females lay 20,000 eggs in just a few months, and eggs take between 3 and 6 weeks to hatch.  All these factors make fleas versatile and elusive and as a result many pet owners turn to commercial flea products to kill the pets and prevent future outbreaks.  In some cases, you may have no choice but to seek stronger flea treatments but there are also a range of natural preventative measures that you can try to control the flea population in your home and pets.

One simple and natural flea prevention is garlic.  By adding garlic to your pet’s meals you may find that you have effectively prevented fleas.  In addition, there are many meal additives that can deter fleas; sulfur prevents fleas and can be added to your pet’s diet weekly, and black walnut hulls are available in capsule form at your local pet store and they repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.  Typically, these kinds of remedies require 4 to 6 weeks to be completely effective.

Unfortunately, when it comes to fleas, prevention may not be enough.  Especially if your dog or cat is already infested with fleas, you’ll need to take some time to get rid of the infestation.  So it’s bath time.  There is a wide selection of herbal shampoos available at the pet store that help to kill and remove fleas.  Combinations of pine cedar, bergamot, rosemary, eucalyptus, citronella, juniper, lavender, or geranium (just to name a few) are especially effective when you’re dealing with fleas.

In addition, you need to remove the fleas from your home.  One natural treatment involves mixing 1.5 pounds of diatomaceous earth, 1.5 pounds of organic borax, and 1 cup of salt.  You can purchase the diatomaceous earth and organic borax at a garden supply store.  Sprinkle this mixture throughout your house and let it sit for a few days.  Finally, vacuum up the mixture and you should be flea free!

May 3, 2013

How To Prepare for a Kitten

Filed under: cats,Kitten Care — Tags: , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:25 pm

Prepare for KittenMaking the decision to bring a kitten home can be very exciting. Who wouldn’t want a small, cute, furry friend to join their home? Just keep in mind that your new friend is going to be completely reliant on you. Your kitten will be entering a new environment and must feel safe, loved, and taken care of. Use the following tips to help you prepare for a kitten, in order to ensure that you start your relationship off on the right foot.

1. Inform your household of the kitten’s arrival
Since the kitten will become part of your family, it is important to inform everyone in your home about your new furry friend. This will help ensure that everyone is prepared for the arrival of the new family member. It will also give a chance for others to lend a helping hand, to prepare for your kitten’s arrival.

2. Do some research
If you have never had a cat before, it is important that to understand cat behaviors. This will help you to not only better understand your cat, but it will help you take care of your cat. Once you have conducted research, be sure to share it with other’s in your household.

3. Choose a spot for your furry friend
Designate a certain spot in your house that will be your cat’s own space. This spot should be warm and secure. You should also “cat-proof” the space by making sure that objects, like plants that are poisonous to cats and cable wires, are out of the kitten’s reach.

4. Visit a pet store
There are important items that kittens need in their daily lives. Ensure that you have acquired these items before the arrival of your four-legged friend:

Litter box: A new, clean and comfortable litter box should be acquired for the kitten.

Food and water bowls: Opt for a ceramic or stainless steel bowl. They are said to be healthier for pets.

An identification tag: Whether you plan to have an indoor or outdoor cat, you want to make sure that your furry friend will be found if he ever gets lost.

Scratching post: Cats need to scratch themselves and a scratching post will prevent your kitten from using your carpet or furniture as his scratching stations.

Cat carrier: You’ll want a carrier in order to safely transport your kitten while travelling or even for simple visit to the vet.

Food: There are many brands of kitten food and it is important to do research on the best type of food before buying. Providing your kitten with a nutritious diet will prevent health problems in the long run.

Tools for grooming: Even kittens need good grooming. A comb, brush and shampoo can help achieve this.

5. Visit a veterinarian with your kitten
Upon your kitten’s arrival, it is important to visit a veterinarian. Your vet will check the kitten’s overall health while also offering you advice on how to care for your new friend.

After these 5 steps, you should be prepared and ready to welcome home your new friend.

We’re social! Do you have a comment, question, or concern about bringing a kitten home? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

 

April 24, 2013

Hairballs in Cats

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:44 pm

Cat HairballHairballs: a cat’s worst enemy.

No cat owner enjoys the site of seeing their poor kitty vomiting up foam and moist balls of hair. Though hairballs are a notorious cat trademark, they have the potential to cause serious health problems.

Hairballs are created due to activities like grooming, where hair enters the digestive system. Although the feline digestive system is unable to digest hair, a diet with a good amount of fiber, fat, and oil will allow some hair to pass through. When there is too much hair that enters the digestive system, or if a cat has a lack of fiber, fat, and oil in his diet, this is when hair is vomited out of the system in the form of a hairball.

Now this may seem all fine – a hairball will be vomited out, cats are known for this; so what’s the big deal? Well, hairballs can have serious health implications that include:

• Eliminating appetite
• Acting as a cork in the intestinal tract, leading to a serious infections
• Causing diarrhea or constipation
• Inducing vomiting all year long
• Requiring surgical removal (severe cases)

As a cat owner, what can you do to help ease the stress of hairballs in your cat?

• Groom your cat more often
• Provide a high quality diet, rich in essential vitamins and minerals
• Administer a vet-approved oral lubricant 2-3 hours before a meal
• Feed your cat ½ tsp of butter daily
• Rub Vaseline onto the roof of your cat’s mouth or onto his fur
• Offer a pinch of psyllium powder to your cat

Of course, every cat is different. You may need to try different products and remedies for different cats. When unsure about a product or remedy, always consult your vet.

We’re social! Do you have a comment, question, or concern about hairballs in cats? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

April 16, 2013

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

cushing's disease in dogsRead the following symptoms:

  • • Urinating often
  • • Drinking and eating very often
  • • Loss of body hair
  • • Thinner skin
  • • Bumps on the skin
  • • Increased energy
  • • Weight gain

Though these are common symptoms for many pet related illnesses, they are particularly linked with Cushing’s disease in dogs. Cushing’s s the overproduction of a hormone called glucocorticosteroids, by the adrenal glands.

There are surprisingly only two known causes of the overproduction of hormones by the adrenal glands. One cause is that the pituitary gland, a gland in the brain that is directly related to the adrenal gland, triggers the overproduction. Many animal health practitioners believe that this could be related to psychological and physical stress. The second cause, and a less occurring cause, is that a tumor on the adrenal glands causes the over production. In most cases the tumor is benign, but there have been cases where the tumor is cancerous.

To treat the disease, there are conventional options where a veterinarian will prescribe medication. There are also natural options where a license practitioner will alter a pet’s diet, provide herbal supplements, or administer homeopathic drugs.

It is important to know that there is no singular way to prevent Cushing’s disease in dogs. Often, health practitioners recommend feeding your pet a nutritious diet, while also ensuring that your pet does not feel psychological or physical stress.

Cushing’s disease is more common in dogs than in cats. Nonetheless, if you suspect that your cat or dog has Cushing’s Disease, request your veterinarian to perform a blood test in order to check your pet’s hormone levels and adrenal functioning. Leaving Cushing’s disease untreated in your pet can lead to further health problems that may be severe.

We’re social! Do you have a comment, question, or concern about Cushing’s Disease? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

April 9, 2013

Dog Feelings: Do You Know Your Dog?

Filed under: Dog Behavior,dogs,Feelings — Tags: , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:57 pm

dog facial expressions

If you’ve ever wondered what your canine friend was thinking and feeling, you could always turn to Cher for the answer. The crooner, who always claimed that the truth wasn’t in his eyes, could have been closer to reality the first time around. Although, we’d stay away from your dog’s kiss, that probably won’t reveal too much about his mood.

Well, okay, fine – you can give your pooch a kiss anyway. Because as a study published in the Behavioural Processes journal reported, us humans are pretty darn close to our pets. So close in fact, that we can even predict how they feel.

The study, led by Dr. Tina Bloom, involved asking participants to guess the emotions of a dog based off photos that they were shown. The dog in the photos was Mal, a Belgian Shepherd police dog. Mal was captured expressing happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, fear and anger.

And while it might seem hard to recreate Mal’s emotions for photographs, researchers were actually very clever about it. To make Mal happy, they praised him. To make him sad, they reprimanded him. They surprised him with a jack-in-the-box, gave him medicine he didn’t like to disgust him, and showed him nail trimmers to make him feel fear. Finally, to get him to feel anger, one brave researcher dressed up and acted like a criminal.

The risk was worth it though. The photographs of Mal’s expressions were shown to 50 volunteers and what researchers discovered was incredible. According to the study results, humans can accurately determine a dog’s mood based solely off the dog’s facial expression.

This suggests, Dr. Bloom believes, that we are far closer to our furry friends in terms of emotional communication than we had originally thought. She also believes that the results showed that interpreting the emotion of dogs is an innate skill, rather than a learned one.

This belief comes from the fact that the study showed that inexperienced volunteers (those that had limited experience with dogs) could sometimes predict Mal’s expressions more accurately than experienced volunteers.

The research also showed that humans were better at identifying happiness and anger, rather than surprise and disgust. Eight-eight percent of volunteers could identify happiness and 70 percent could identify anger, but only 20 percent recognized surprise, and 13 percent placed disgust.

Meanwhile, sadness was recognized around 37 percent of the time, while fear was identified 45 percent of the time.

Future studies by Dr. Bloom and her team hope to reveal whether our natural empathy with dogs could potentially be something we share with other animals.

Comments, questions, or concerns? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

April 2, 2013

Breed of the Month: Perro De Presa Canario

Filed under: Dog Breeds,dogs — Tags: , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:25 pm

Dogo Canario - Presa CanarioThe Perro De Presa Canario (aka: Canary Dog of Prey, Presa Canario, Canary Dog, Dogo Canario, and Canary Island Mastiff) originates from the Canary Islands. They are a large, powerful, and very intimidating breed. Having a dominant nature, the Presa Canario requires an experienced dog owner who understands the alpha nature that may exist in dogs.

It is important that a Presa Canario has a mixture of early socialization and obedience training. This will ensure that the dog is not a threat to others. Though the breed appears to be intimidating, they are known to be sweet, gentle, loyal, and very protective of their families. This makes them an excellent guard dog.

A Canario can be fawn, black, or brindle and weigh anywhere from 80-130lbs. Due to their size and working dog status, the breed requires several long daily walks. Not properly exercising a Presa Canario may lead to a more aggressive dog. The average life span of a Presa Canario ranges from 8-12 years.
For more information about the breed, visit the Dogo Canario Club of America.

 

Do you have a Perro De Presa Canario? Share a picture or story with us! Have a comment, question, or concern? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

March 26, 2013

Unique Activities to Keep Your Pet Fit

Filed under: cat health,cats,Dog health,dogs,pets — Tags: , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:08 pm

pet-activitiesWith the sunshine now peeking out from behind winter clouds, the birds chirping happily and baby animals coming out to play, now is the perfect time to experience the joy of spring and maybe even shed some of those winter pounds too.

And let’s face it: you’re not the only one who gained some extra hibernation weight over winter – your pet could use the exercise too!

But if you’re sick of the same old walk in the park, why not mix it up a little and try some of our unique ways to keep your pet fit this spring?

 

Star Jumps for Dogs
Who says star jumps are just for humans? Not so! Star jumps are a great cardiovascular workout for your pet. Just take one of their favorite toys and tap their nose gently with it, before lifting the toy up into the air. Your dog should follow your movement and leap into the air playfully.

Cat Cardio
The greatest investment you will ever make for your cat’s fitness is a mini torch. While you’re doing your own workout (or even making dinner, doing the chores or anything else around the house) you can entice your cat into exercise by turning on a mini flashlight and shining it against the wall and the floor. Your cat will chase after the light and unwittingly get in some great cardio.

Stair Work for Dogs and Cats
Just like a quick journey up and down stairs can leave you huffing and puffing, it can increase the cardiovascular health of your pet too. For dogs, why not run up and down some stairs at the local park? For cats, just trail their favorite toy up and down the stairs at home.

Walking the Cat
You read correctly. Dogs aren’t the only ones who can enjoy a pleasant walk outside. Plenty of pet stores have leashes and collars specifically developed for cats, so why not pick one up and try it out? Test it out in your backyard first as your cat will need to get used to the sensation of a collar and leash. If you have a kitten, try to train them to do this as young as possible and make sure you keep your cat away from parks or areas where dogs regularly frequent.

Ultimate Frisbee for Dogs
We have all seen the movies where the Golden Retriever leaps gracefully into the air and catches a Frisbee. But that’s just stuff of the movies, right? Not the case! You can teach your pooch to become an ultimate Frisbee pro in no time. Just pick up a Frisbee, walk down to the local park and start practicing!

And once you’re done trying out these unique exercises, why not create some of your own? Exercise should be as much about play as it is about health for your pet, so get creative. Your pet will thank you.

After all, according to the experts, over 35 percent of pets are overweight, which puts them at risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and breathing problems.

So this spring, make a pact with your pet to help them become the fittest pet in the neighborhood.

 

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March 20, 2013

Dealing With a Loss of a Pet

One of the saddest aspects of pet ownership is coming to terms with the death of a beloved pet. Our pets are part of the family and as such, it’s only natural that we mourn and grieve their loss.

What to expect emotionally

While some (mostly those who don’t own a pet themselves) scoff at the idea of mourning a pet, it’s actually a perfectly normal and natural response. The stages of grief for those who have lost a pet are in fact very similar to those who have lost a family member or loved one.

While the length of the mourning and grieving process is individual to each circumstance, the following emotions and stages are quite common:

Stage one: Denial – Typically, this stage lasts the shortest and occurs when the owner hasn’t yet accepted, or come to terms, with the loss.

Stage two: Anger – In the next stage, many pet owners channel their anger towards a third party for the loss of their pet.

Stage three: Guilt – There will always be the ‘what if’ component of any loss and it’s normal for a pet owner to feel guilt over what they could have done, even if there were no other options.

Stage four: Depression – The final stage of grieving is typically personified by a deep sadness that permeates the pet owner’s life and reduces their motivation.

Coping mechanisms

Thankfully though, there are coping mechanisms that you can put in place to help deal with the death of a pet, the first of which is to allow yourself to grieve. Whatever you are feeling, acknowledge the emotion and let it run its course. The following, lists some coping mechanisms you can try:

• Where possible, speak to friends, family and loved ones about your loss.
• Prepare a tribute to celebrate the life of your pet. This could be a scrapbook, a letter or a poem to your pet.
• Make a difference to the lives of other pets and either volunteer your time at an animal rescue organization or donate money on behalf of your pet.
• Seek the support of professionals, whether that is your own family therapist or an organization like The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. The American Veterinary Medical Association also has pet loss support hotlines available for your use.
• If the sight of your pet’s belongings upsets you, you can put them away during your mourning period or donate them to charity.
• You can organize a memorial or funeral for your pet. This is one of the more practical aspects to consider. Whether you choose to create a burial in your backyard, or plant a tree in your pet’s honor, the final resting place of your pet is a special and important decision.
Other tips

• If you have other pets, understand that they may experience grief too, even if it’s just in response to your own.
• Do not bring a new pet into your life until you feel completely ready. You must be emotionally up to the demands of a new pet and able to dedicate yourself to their upbringing.
• If you have children in your family, be honest and open about your pet’s death and support your children through their grief.

And finally, be kind to yourself. This is a difficult and emotional event in any pet owners life. Ensure that you take care of yourself and give yourself the time and the space to move on.

We’re social! Do you have a question, comment, or concern? Let us know by leaving a comment below or by clicking the following links to our social media pages: Facebook and Twitter.

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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.