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!

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.

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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.

March 5, 2013

Breed of the Month: Newfoundland

Filed under: Dog Breeds,dogs,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:00 am

As a child, did you ever watch Peter Pan and thought to yourself “I wish I could have a dog like Nana that would take care of me.” Well, it’s possible. Nana wasn’t some made up dog; she was a Newfoundland. The Newfoundland (aka: Newfie, Newf, or Greater St. John’s Dog), is named from its origins in Newfoundland, Canada, is a working breed known as the ‘Gentle Giant’ (obviously gentle as we saw in Peter Pan).

The breed is classified as large, with males weighing anywhere from 130-150lbs and females weighing from 100-120lbs. Their thick, water-proof coats and webbed feet, make the Newfoundland excellent swimmers and resistant to harsh cold climates. Their long coats require brushing several times a week, and may be black, brown, or gray.

Though the breed is large and could make an intimidating first impression, Newfoundlands are noble, honest, and hard working. They are said to be sweet tempered and as a result are good family dogs. However, as a puppy, the Newfoundland may not be aware of its own size, so be cautious if this breed is around small children. The large dogs must be trained at a young age in order to avoid bad habits and to build socialization skills.

The breed requires to be walked a few times a day, but should not participate in rigorous exercise. Intense exercise can create stress on their joints and may result in future health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Other health problems Newfoundlands may develop are cystinuria and a heart condition called Subvacular Aortic Stenosis (SAS). The life span of the breed is from 8-10 years.

For more information about Newfoundlands visit the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada.

Do you have a Newfoundland? Maybe a question, comment, or concern? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

February 25, 2013

The Best Toys for Your Cat or Dog

Imagine this: You are sitting at home with your family. Your dog is at your feet, and your cat is in your lap. Everyone in your house is enjoying time together. You notice that your dog starts to get restless and goes over to the couch and starts sniffing around. Before you even know what’s happening your dog is chewing the corner and your cat has jumped off your lap and joined in.

What the heck is going on?! You have never seen this type of behavior from either of your pets, and you are disgusted, to say the least. You send your dog to the kennel but can’t find the cat. The next night the cat and the dog start chewing and scratching away at your dining room table and chairs.
Your pets have always been mild mannered until now, and you can’t figure out why the change in behavior. Take a look around your house. Have you purchased any pet toys to help give them sensory satisfaction?Toys for your pets are not just something that you get them to spoil them. They are also used to help with sensory satisfaction and to help keep them engaged. When any kind of animal isbored, they tend to find the first thing that peaks their interest and typically that spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e for them and anger for you.

So what type of toys is best for your pets? If you have a dog that is a little bit more hyperactive, you need to find a toy that allows them to fun and play as much as possible. Balls or any type of toy that they can chase is often a good idea. The same goes for a cat. Cats are natural predators. They love to pounce, chase, and run around just as much as a dog.

 The best toys you can purchase for your dog include
Chew toys 
• Plush Toys

The best toys you can purchase for your cat include:
Feeders 
Interactive toys 

No matter what type of toy you buy for your pets it is important that they have them. They are not just a tool to help them be more occupied, they also help to increase brain function. Always ensure that no matter what type of toy you get for your pet it is safe for them. Consult with you local pet store owner to find out what your best options are and what toys meet the highest safety standards. Remember, always keep your pet engaged; have fun with them. Sensory satisfaction is important for your pet’s happiness and your peace of mind.

 

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February 14, 2013

Dog Stories That Inspire Us to Love

Filed under: Dog Stories,dogs,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:00 pm

There are so many stories that we hear about people, heroes who risk their lives. Well there are four legged heroes that rescue us every day. Here is the story of Wendy Young and Izabelle from Lakeland, Florida. Her story, and more, can be found on Pet Place.

Yes, dogs do sense when people need them. I have seen it in action with my Golden Retriever Izabelle on our therapy visits. When she was just nine months old we went to visit the residents at a nursing home with a therapy dog group. The residents were brought into a room and we took the dogs around to meet them. Izzy kept trying to make her way over to a gentleman sitting by the door in a wheelchair. None of the others in our group was paying any attention to him. Finally she just pulled me over to this man. She sat down beside his chair and laid her head in his lap. He tried to pet her but his hands kept shaking, so she gently laid her head on his hands to stop the shaking and just sat there with him like that for the longest time. He lowered his head to her ear and kept whispering to her, “beautiful baby,” he kept repeating that in a whisper over and over to her. I looked up at the nurse standing behind his wheelchair and she had tears in her eyes. It seems this gentleman had not spoken a word to anyone or anything in the four months he had been in the home. She was so happy that my Izabelle had brought some comfort and joy back into his life. When we went to leave, he touched my hand and thanked me for bring Izabelle to meet him. She seems to have a gift for knowing the one person who needs her the most when we visit nursing homes.

Pets are amazing. We love pets and would love to hear an amazing pet story from you! Share your story in the comment box below, on Facebook, or send us a link to a story on Twitter.

 

February 12, 2013

Pet Health: Smoking and Your Furry Friend

Filed under: cats,dogs,pet health,pets,puppy health,Smoking,Uncategorized,Your Pet — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:00 pm

At one point or another, we have all been told that smoking is bad for our health. We have been shown the impact of tar on human organs, we have been told about the many cancers that can result from smoking, and time after time we are informed of the dangers of secondhand smoke. Full of this knowledge on the health risks related to smoking, have you ever consider the impact that smoking may have on your pet?

Just as smoking may affect the people around you, studies have shown that it may also impact your pets. When someone smokes, toxins are released into the very same air that your pet breathes in. When breathing in air, the toxins move through your pet’s mouth, into their lungs, and throughout their circulation system. This process is repeated every time your furry friend takes a breath. Moreover, toxins that are released into the air come in contact with your pet’s fur and skin. When grooming themselves, pets lick their fur, fur on which toxins like nicotine and tar may collect. The nicotine and tar enters your pet’s mouth and digestive system each time they lick themselves.

Smoking effects and pet health

Studies have shown that a few effects that second-hand smoke can have on your pet are:

  • Cancers: lymphoma, lung, and nasal
  • Respiratory problems
  • Allergies
  • Skin diseases
  • Eye infections
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation

It is common for us to hear the effects that smoking has upon humans, that we may forget to think about how our pets are impacted. Next time you think of lighting up near your pet, think about the effects that smoking might have on their health.

 

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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.