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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April 13, 2012

Help! My Dog Has a Tumor!

Filed under: Cancer,Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:46 am

One of the scariest health problems a dog owner might someday come across is finding a lump on their pet’s body where there wasn’t one before. Looking up dog tumor pictures and trying to diagnose your dog yourself will quickly lead you to assume the worst: cancer. But all lumps aren’t necessarily cancerous even when they look just like other tumor pictures. A sudden new lump on a dog usually means one of two things: mast cell tumor (cancerous) or oil cyst and other types of cysts (non-cancerous). It’s important to understand the differences between the two types, and what pet owners should do in either case.

Mast cell tumors (MCT) are malignant tumors which generally need to be surgically removed or treated. According to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine these cancerous tumors are common in dogs and are found in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and overall appearances. Pictures of dog tumors confirm that MCT can look like anything from small white lumps to large, red, hardened masses. Early detection is the best prevention from MCT becoming aggressive and fatal. Because these cancerous tumors like to spread throughout the body, surgical removal is usually necessary, but radiation is sometimes used when surgery is not an option. Courteous Canines, LLC writes that tissue samples from any questionable lumps are removed by a veterinarian prior to any other form of treatment to perform a biopsy and diagnose a lump as MCT.

Sebaceous cysts, or oil cysts, are small bumps found under the skin that are caused by blocked pores from hair follicles, dirt, and oil. Sebaceous cysts can also be common in dogs but unlike MCT they are non-cancerous and benign. Unfortunately, sometimes a cyst can look like cancerous tumors, and a veterinarian will need to perform a biopsy to rule out malignant cells. According to VetInfo, occasionally a veterinarian will suggest having a cyst removed surgically if it has ruptured to decrease the risk of infection.

If you believe your dog could have mast cell tumors or cysts you’ll want to get a final diagnosis from your dog’s veterinarian. Finding a dog tumor or cyst can be a scary experience, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Even if your dog is diagnosed with cancerous mast cell tumors there are different options at varying price points that can help ease pain and increase survival rates. Remember not to make an ultimate diagnosis based off dog tumor pictures, instead get a professional opinion and save yourself the potentially unnecessary grief.

March 20, 2012

Top 5 Issues Affecting Pets Today

Filed under: cat health,Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:39 pm

pet health issuesLife as a pet is different than that of a human. You’re small, you’re low to the ground, you’re often times left to your own devices outside, but above all else you speak a language that the humans don’t understand. Communication is tough; messages get overlooked. However, for the first time ever Critter Cures brings you reporting that comes directly from the front lines of pet nation. Your animals spoke out, and we listened to the top 5 issues affecting American pets today.

“What Happened To the Regular Checkups?”

Pet owners are taking their pets to the veterinarian way less than they used to. In 2007 dogs received a checkup around 2.7 times per year, and cats 1.7 times. These numbers dipped even low after the recession of 2008 but they ideally shouldn’t. Taking your pet to the veterinarian allows for early detection of medical issues.

“Does This Leash Make Me Look Fat?”

Word on Pet Street is that animals are starting to put on some unsightly and unhealthy weight. This is in part due to the fact that owners are not likely to recognize obesity in their pets. Bruiser, the grumpy pit bull who lives at the house in the cul-de-sac says the prominence of pet obesity because his owner is, himself, obese. Bruiser reminds pet owners that obese pets have a shorter lifespan and an increased risk of a bunch of diseases, so be sure to not to neglect the exercise level of your little friend.

“Doggy Treat or Sugar Fix?”

Likely caused by the obesity epidemic amongst pets, the incidence of diabetes is quickly on the rise as well. Banfield State of Pet Health reports a 32% increase in diabetes in dogs and 16% increase in cats, comparing 2006 to 2010. The disease is treated much the same way it is treated in humans, with insulin injections—but when Misty is out, hanging with the rest of the neighborhood cats at night she doesn’t want to be bothered with that kind of nuisance. She urges her pet owner to act preventatively and feed the animals in their care responsibly with a specific series of meows.
canine paw care

“I Have a Lump on My Paw…”

According to the Morris Animal Foundation, one in four dogs die from cancer, and cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over two years of age, but cats are similarly affected. Cancer can be tracked genetically in humans; likewise, the type of dog breed will play a huge factor in which, if any, cancers your dog is predisposed to. It’s important to find out this information as it can potentially allow for an early detection of a malignant tumor.
According to one study done in 2009, all the cats that participated had evidence of periodontal disease. According to the neighborhood Tabby cat, known for her gossip, the word on the street is that pet owners are simply reluctant when it comes to dental procedures in their pets. Even Tabby cats know that periodontal disease can cause collateral damage in other parts of a pet’s body. In dogs In dogs, periodontal disease was associated with increases in markers of systemic inflammation and indicators of failing kidney function, and was also associated with endocarditis and heart muscle problems.

Speak to your pet (as best as possible) and get into the mindset of preventative care. If your pet(s) could talk, they would thank you.

July 25, 2011

There is Blood in My Dog’s Urine

urinary tract infection in dogsIf your dog has been peeing blood recently, it is time for a visit to the vet. Bloody urine occurs if a canine urinary tract infection is present, if there are bladder stones (Canine urolithiasis), or a combination of the two. Canine urolithiasis in dogs commonly occurs in dogs between the ages of two and ten years old. Bladder stones most often occur in the bladder but they can also occur in the kidneys or the ureters.

Blood in the urine is a typical symptom of canine urolithiasis. Other symptoms include urination at inappropriate places, odor in urine, back pain, and difficulty urinating or frequent urination in dogs. On the contrary, most pets do not experience any symptoms when hosting bladder stones. Bleeding occurs because the stones irritate and scrape the urinary tract causing cuts and thus resulting in bloody urine.

The proper name given to stones which form in the bladder is “calculi”. Calculi are usually made up of minerals such as magnesium, ammonium phosphate, or calcium oxalate. Usually these minerals form stones within the urinary tract when the urine is over saturated. Bacterial infections in the urinary system often result in calculi composed of ammonium phosphate, which is also known as struvite.

Treatment usually depends on the size of the stones and if there is an infection present. If the stones were caused by a bacterial infection, then your pet will be prescribed antibiotics. In most cases, dogs are given a special diet that focuses on lowering mineral concentrations. If the stones had caused blockages, your vet will remove them immediately. If necessary, your veterinarian will also prescribe medications to help rid of calculi. Complete elimination happens within 4-16 weeks.

Reoccurrence of urolithiasis is frequent in dogs which is why many veterinarians encourage pet owners to continue keeping their dogs on the special diet. When keeping your pet on the special diet, it is crucial that he or she only consumes what your veterinarian has approved. Refrain from feeding your pet additional supplements, cereals, and foods as doing so can prolong your pets’ suffering.

October 26, 2010

Caring for Your Dog in the Winter

Filed under: Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:32 am

As the winter season quickly approaches, it is important for dog owners to make sure their beloved pets are well cared for during the winter.  Especially if you live in cooler climates, you need to protect your dog from colder winter weather.  From grooming and shelter to general health concerns, the winter season requires dog owners to be more vigilant about pet care.

First and foremost, you must provide your dog with adequate shelter during the winter.  Leaving your dog outdoors for extended periods of time is not only uncomfortable but can also pose a serious risk to your dog’s general health.  In addition, wind chill and other weather factors like rain and snow make the outside temperatures even colder.  Your dog needs somewhere warm and dry to sleep; even indoors tile or non-carpeted flooring will be unnecessarily cold for your dog.  Plus, older dogs who may be suffering from osteoarthritis will experience more extreme symptoms in the winter so keep them warm and cozy.

When it comes to grooming, letting your dog’s hair run wild during the winter is hardly a good idea.  You might think that you need to worry less about grooming because a thick coat will protect your dog in winter.  On the contrary, regular grooming is necessary to ensure that your dog is effectively insulated from the cold.  Long-haired dogs should be brushed and hair around their feet should be trimmed to prevent snow build up.  Remember that short haired dogs are not well insulated so they should be kept warm with a sweater or coat.

Finally, dog owners should realize that some of our winter routines pose an added risk to a dog’s health.  For example, antifreeze tastes and smells appetizing to dogs but it can be fatal if ingested.  Always store antifreeze well out of your dog’s reach and ensure that spills are cleaned thoroughly.  Also, treating walkways and driveways with rock salt prevents ice build up but rock salt can also be an irritant to your pet’s feet so be sure to clean and dry your dog’s feet after walks.

October 14, 2010

Keeping your Dog Healthy and Fit

Filed under: Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 2:40 pm

how to keep your dog healthyThere is little doubt that people in today’s society spend a good portion of their time thinking about how to stay fit.  We think about what and when we eat and we try to develop an exercise plan that fits our busy schedules.  Unfortunately, too few dog owners consider their dog’s fitness needs and as a result health and weight problems in dogs are on the rise.  While you may believe that your dog can manage his own fitness, this is simply not true.  However, with the help of their caretakers, dogs can be very fit and lead a long and happy life.

canine vitamins Before starting any new exercise plan with your dog, speak to your veterinarian first.  Depending on the age, weight, and general health of your dog, your veterinarian will probably suggest different types of exercise.  Indeed, even different breeds require different kinds of exercise and you also want to ensure that your dog’s heart and joints are healthy enough for exercise.  But beyond exercise, diet is also an important aspect of your dog’s fitness.  Many commercially available dog foods do not necessarily offer the nutrition we expect.  As such, it is important as a dog owner to carefully review and understand food labels and to provide your dog with a balanced diet that is rich in protein and low in fillers and fat.

Of course, when it comes to exercise, there are many easy options available for dog owners.  Walking is the easiest and most common form of dog exercise that is also a great benefit to owners.  Start with short walks and gradually build to longer walks if your dog is not familiar with the extra exercise.  Many dogs also love swimming which is one of the healthiest forms of exercise.  Swimming is low impact so even dogs with joint problems can do it.  In addition, swimming provides a full body workout to stretch muscles and work the heart.  However you decide to exercise your dog, be sure to stay within his limits and speak to your veterinarian if you are concerned about his ability to partake in new exercise.

October 6, 2010

Do Dogs Get Colds?

Filed under: Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:37 pm

From time to time you may find yourself asking what to do when your dog has a cold.  He has developed a runny nose, cough, and sneezing and you think it must be a cold.  However, dogs are not like humans and their cold-like symptoms are more likely a sign of respiratory illness caused by a canine-specific virus or bacterium.

Some of the most common reasons your dog may be suffering cold like symptoms include para-influenza, adenovirus type-2, kennel cough, and canine distemper.

  • Para-influenza is very common and highly contagious among dogs.  Para-influenza is a virus that causes dogs to have a chronic cough but most dogs today are vaccinated against this pervasive virus.
  • Adenovirus Type-2 is one of the leading contributors to kennel cough which is most often confused for a doggy cold.  While there are vaccines for this virus, it is not yet possible to completely prevent infection.  Still, adenovirus type-2 vaccinations can drastically reduce the severity of illness that dogs suffer when they are infected.
  • Kennel Cough can also be caused by canine-specific bacteria such as Bordetella bronchiseptica.  This condition presents as a rasping, chronic cough accompanied by phlegm as well as discharge from the nose and eyes.  While kennel cough is known to resolve itself, unless your dog is also immuno-suppressed.  In severe cases, kennel cough may develop into pneumonia which can be life threatening.
  • Canine Distemper is a serious and very contagious disease caused by a virus that is spread through the air.  Dogs should be vaccinated for canine distemper because it is a serious illness that often ends in fatality.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from any of these conditions or you notice cold-like symptoms, you should visit your veterinarian immediately.  In the majority of cases, treatment is effective and sometimes even life saving.

September 23, 2010

Caring for an Elderly Dog

Filed under: Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:42 am

canine arthritis As your dog ages, his needs tend to change.  Young puppies need a lot of exercise and even different nutrition than older dogs.  Moreover, as your dog’s age advances, he will likely suffer from one or many conditions, like arthritis or cataracts, which require special care.  Still, even if your elderly dog is starting to slow down, you can help him live his final years happily and healthily through regular veterinary visits, pet medications, proper nutrition, and daily pet health care.

First, you need to take some time to understand the changes your dog may be facing.  Caring for an elderly dog offers special challenges as your dog may be suffering hearing or vision loss, incontinence, changes in appetite and thirst, weight gain, decreased energy, and even stiffness in joints.  All these changes obviously have an impact on your dog’s quality of life and to keep them in check you’ll need to have regular visits with your veterinarian.  Regular pet health check-ups are especially important when you are caring for an elderly dog because you also have to be vigilant about possible life threatening conditions.

elderly dog careStill, aside from regular vet visits, you need to make some changes at home as well.  Nutrition is particularly important and you should look for a dog food that has been specifically formulated for senior dogs.  Likewise, your dog will still need plenty of exercise but your expectations should change.  Speak to your veterinarian about the best exercise program for your dog, especially if your dog suffers from arthritis.  Dogs with arthritis certainly benefit from regular exercise but high impact programs are not recommended.  Moreover, exercise that involves climbing may not be ideal for your dog.  There are dog pain relief medications for arthritic dogs, make sure you speak to your veterinarian about dog pain medications that will help with your dogs arthritic pain.

Finally, try to understand that like elderly humans, elderly dogs experience some psychological changes as a result of their aging.  Be sensitive and patient and always attempt to provide your dog with loving support.

August 23, 2010

Living with a Deaf Dog

Filed under: Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:10 am

deafness in dogsA costly trip to the veterinarian and the application of the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test will help you to determine if your dog is going deaf or just ignoring you.  Likewise, you can conduct a few simple tests from home to self-diagnose deafness in your dog.  For example, you can clap your hands loudly or call his name when he is sleeping, or have another family member bang some pots in another room and watch for your dog’s response.  In either situation, if your dog is unresponsive, this is a good indication that he may be deaf or beginning to go deaf.

If you suspect your dog is deaf, you really should visit the veterinarian.  Your veterinarian can inspect your dog’s ears to look for blockages or malformations that can sometimes be treated to restore your dog’s hearing.  Still, as is the case with elderly humans, older dogs may become deaf naturally.  If your dog’s hearing cannot be restored, you must learn how to live with a deaf dog.

deafness in dogsYou must take extra precautions to protect a deaf dog.  First of all, never take your deaf dog off leash in an open area because you won’t be able to call him back.  Furthermore, deaf dogs are at greater risk of accidents or attack as they will not be able to hear potential dangers.  Deaf dogs also tend to be more anxious so you must always approach your dog calmly and carefully so as not to startle him.  Finally, when in the company of other dogs, always make sure there is somebody keeping a watch over your dog.  Dogs regularly use vocalizations like barking or growling to communicate aggression, danger, or other information.  Obviously, deaf dogs will not be able to hear these communications and this can put them at risk.

May 19, 2010

How to Care for Aging Dogs

Filed under: age of dogs,dog age,Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:25 pm

Age advances whether you are talking about humans, birds, cats or dogs.  As we get older, we become more susceptible to illness and we endure the natural degeneration of various body systems.  Proper care for an aging dog ensures that your beloved pet can enjoy the last years of his life comfortably.  Moreover, certain behaviors can even extend the life of your pet; for example, it is important that your dog is fed a healthy diet and gets lots of exercise.

As dogs age, they often develop special health needs.  Decreased activity level, increased sleep, and less excitement are all signs that your dog is starting to age. In addition, older dogs tend to be more sensitive to extreme temperatures; they may suffer hearing loss; and their skin and coat may change color.  In fact, many of the signs of aging in humans are quite similar to the signs of aging in dogs.  As your dog’s age advances, you can help ease the transition while also stressing the importance of regular exercise.

Still, you will need to consider the fitness of your dog as age advances.  Walks or runs will become shorter and your dog is likely to suffer from some muscle stiffness in his senior years.  Early in the morning you’ll want to give your dog plenty of time to stretch out and work out any stiffness.  Also, as your dog gets older, he will probably have more difficulty climbing stairs or getting in and out of cars so you will have to provide assistance.  Try to give your dog a comfortable bed to prevent unnecessary muscle pain.

As dogs get older, their skin and coat tends to dry out as well.  You can find some great moisturizing shampoos at the local pet store to help stimulate the production of oils.  Regular brushing can also help keep your dog’s coat healthy.  Generally speaking, you want to make your dog as comfortable as possible so he can enjoy his final years.

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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.