March 15, 2013

Kidney Disease Awareness for Cats and Dogs

Did you know that it is National Kidney Awareness Month? Similar to how kidney disease can affect humans, it can also develop in pets. As a matter of fact, kidney disease is the second leading cause of death in cats. This is pretty scary if you’re a cat owner, right?

What do kidneys even do? Well, they are organs that have two main jobs:

1. Remove waste/toxins from the blood
2. Maintain bodily fluids

The job that kidneys perform is just as important as the job of our hearts. Without kidneys, animals, as well as humans, would die.

The problem with kidney disease is that it is hard to detect until it is too late. When you begin to see symptoms of the disease in your cat or dog, it is likely that 75% of their kidneys are already damaged. Such symptoms include:

• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Cloudy urine
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Bad breath
• Ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue
• Dull coats with heavy shedding

Since kidney disease is hard to detect until most of the damage is done, you have to take care of your pet’s kidney health (and all aspects of their health) the moment you become a pet owner. In order to do this, make sure that you take your furry friend for yearly check-ups with your vet, and ensure that your vet is doing yearly blood work. It is easier to detect illnesses, like kidney disease, through blood tests than relying on symptoms.

If your cat, dog, or any other pet has kidney disease, it is likely that your doctor will recommend the following treatment options:

1. Diet change
2. Fluid therapy
3. Various medications

Make sure you do the research regarding the pros and cons of all treatments. There are even natural options to help with kidney disease that you may find more suitable for your pet.

Below is a list of cat and dog breeds that are the most susceptible to kidney disease:


• Abyssinian
• Persian
• Siamese


• Beagles
• Bull and Cairn Terriers
• Chow Chows
• Dalmations
• Doberman Pinchers
• English Cocker Spaniels
• German Sheperds
• Minature Schnauzers
• Poodles
• Shar-Peis
• Samoyeds
• Shih Tzus

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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:
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.


We’re social! Leave a comment, question, or story about smoking and pet health on Facebook, Twitter, or the comment box below.

February 5, 2013

Breed of The Month: Picardy Shepherd

Filed under: Dog Breeds — Tags: — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:00 am

The Picardy Shepherd is a French dog more formally referred to as the Berger Picard (pronounced ‘bare zhay – pee carr’). Although largely familiar from the North American movie, “Because of Winn-Dixie,” the Picardy Shepherd is a rare breed.

The medium sized dog grows to a weight of 50-70lbs. Their fur is rough and water proof and ranges from fawn to gray and even brindle. Overall, the Picardy Shepherd has a tousled appearance that requires little grooming.

With a life span of 12-14 years, the breed is a relatively healthy dog due to its rarity. They are athletic dogs and require a lot of exercise, otherwise may display destructive behavior.

Overall, the breed is intelligent, sensitive, and alert. They display a laid back and mellow attitude, but may be stubborn at times. Being a loyal and protective pet, the Picardy Shepherd may become assertive and therefore require a lot of socialization during the early years of their lives.

The breed makes for a good indoor and outdoor dog. However, they require companionship and prefer to be close to their owner and family. The dog does very well with children.

For more information about the breed visit the Berger Picard Club of America.


We’re social! Do you have a  Picardy Shepherd? Tell us more about your pooch or share a picture with us on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comment box below.

January 4, 2013

The Dog Weight Loss Mealtime Secret

Filed under: dog weight loss — Tags: , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:10 pm

Mealtime is often about socialization; going out to lunch with friends, eating dinner with your family or even business dinner dates.

When families sit down at the table for dinner at night, they use that time to catch up on that day’s events. But this doesn’t only include the humans in the family.

Fido is in on the meal time socialization, too. And it changes things.

Socializing over food can cause both people and dogs to overeat.

Think about the common interactions that you have with your pet every day. During your dinner time, your pet probably hangs around the table either eating his own food or begging for yours.

Maybe you slip him a piece of food here or there. Or maybe you serve him his own dinner at this time.

When you feed him snacks, you usually use them as rewards, praising him, petting him and showering him with affection. This changes things psychologically, for your dog. Your dog will do things that he thinks will cause you to give him the good stuff: treats and praise.

Just like humans, this relationship between food and socialization can cause dogs to overeat. That can cause weight gain.


The Science Behind the Dog Weight Loss Secret

Scientists studies cat and dog eating patterns. They found that when allowed to eat as much food as they choose with minimal human interaction, the animals ate only what was physically necessary.

However, when socialization was added to the mix, the animals ate to fulfill their social needs and not just their energy needs.

The conclusion? Animals will overeat if they relate it to praise, rewards or other human interaction.

In addition to praise, humans often provide their dogs with high calorie treats: dog snacks and human foods. These can be to encourage a finicky eater or as a symbol of guilt for leaving their dog alone.

The result is overfeeding, and dogs that are overeating because of it.


The Simple Dog Weight Loss Secret

Since dogs overeat because of bad social eating habits, the easiest thing to do is to introduce non-social eating.

Just like humans, weight loss in dogs happens when food is used as nourishment and not to fulfill any other purposes. Start by setting up standard meal times where your dog eats completely alone.

Don’t give praise while preparing or feeding your dog and don’t treat it as a reward. When trying to teach your dog a new behavior, avoid using treats when possible.

Use dog snacks sparingly. These have a lot of calories.

A majority of human food should be off limits to pets because of the high calorie count. After all, dog food is designed to fit the daily caloric and energy needs of your pooch.

If using a treat reward is necessary, consider using raw vegetables or berries. These are still tasty, but are a lot healthier.

However, as rewards, you should use petting, patting, sweet talk and even hair brushing. This way, your dog will still get the socialization that they crave from you without the extra fat.


November 27, 2012

The Best Pet Insurance: A ‘Think Different’ Approach

When you love your pet, you want them to receive medical care when they are in pain or injured. Unfortunately, many illnesses and most injuries can cause you a pretty penny between surgeries and medication costs.

Like health insurance for humans, pet insurance has a monthly premium that you must pay in order for your pet to receive coverage. When an illness or accident happens, the pet insurance will pay for a portion of the veterinary costs if it is covered in your pet insurance plan.

Depending on the plan, you may have to pay a deductible for each claim. You may also still be liable for a percentage of the costs which typically could be anywhere from 0%-20%.

If your pet is chronically sick or seriously injured, pet insurance could save you thousands of dollars.

But if your pet is relatively healthy, the money you paid into the premiums could be going down the drain. The question is whether simply starting a savings fund for your pet’s veterinary care is the better option as opposed to the cost of pet insurance.


Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance

The biggest pro is the reduced cost in out-of-pocket vet expenses. When you consider that an injury such as a broken bone requiring surgery could run up to $3,500, your pet insurance plan could save you thousands of dollars in one shot.

Another pro is that you will have peace of mind knowing that if something happens to your dog, you won’t have to scramble to come up with the money for their care. As your dog ages, their likelihood of being diagnosed with a chronic disease is significantly increased.

Pet insurance is beneficial in offsetting these costs, but will the amount saved at this late stage in your dog’s life equal more than the cost of pet insurance?

This brings us to the cons of pet insurance; primarily, will you ever recoup all the money paid into the premiums?

In addition, depending on the plan you choose, you may still be on the hook to pay for injuries or illnesses if they aren’t covered and even with the best pet insurance the covered incidents may still require you to pay a deductible and co-pay.


The Best Pet Insurance Could Be a Savings Account

When thinking about the best pet insurance option for your cat or dog, a savings account could be for you.

Just like pet insurance, the pros include having money available for your pet’s healthcare. You also get the peace of mind knowing that you can cover such expenses.

Perhaps the biggest pro here is that you won’t lose any unused money like you would if you were paying premiums. If your dog never requires major care, you still have the money in your account to keep. Even better, you can earn interest on the money.

However, the biggest con is that it will take time for you to build up your savings account. An injury or sudden illness could leave you short when it comes to having the cash to pay for their care.

Even if you spend years saving up, you still may not have enough if a really serious incident arises. And there’s always the temptation to use that money sitting in the savings account for something other than your pet’s care.

To figure out what is best, compare the pros and cons of both pet insurance and savings accounts to see what makes the most sense for you and your pet.

November 21, 2012

Homemade Dog Food Diet Important Warning

With dogs being more like family than pets, more and more owners are taking extra steps to ensure the health of their dogs. Dedicated dog owners are choosing natural, homemade food for their pooch instead of the regular run-of-the-mill dog food.

While their intentions are good, creating a homemade dog food diet isn’t as easy as it seems.

Many people believe that if they themselves are eating a healthy diet that it is okay to serve their dogs the same foods that they are eating. They may even go as far to buy their dog fresh meat and produce to prepare their meals.

Dogs just aren’t the same as humans, when it comes to food. They have very different nutritional requirements.

If you don’t know exactly what constitutes a healthy diet for your dog, a homemade dog food diet can do more harm than good.

A Homemade Dog Food Diet: What You Need to Know

The nutritional requirements for all types of dog foods, from canned to dry to raw, have been established by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). If you choose not to buy manufactured dog food then the same nutritional guidelines should be followed as a homemade dog food recipe.

Certain vitamins and minerals must be present in specific amounts within a dog’s daily diet.

However, finding the right sources for these vitamins can be difficult. For example, different cuts of meat can contain different amounts of phosphorus per ounce. So giving your dog 3 ounces of steak isn’t the same as 3 ounces of chicken.

Every vegetable will have a different nutritional content, too. You can’t just swap out a cup of green beans for a cup of carrots.

The same is true for fruits, carbohydrates and any other food group. So, simply adding a cut of lamb with a few scoops of broccoli won’t necessarily create a balanced meal for your dog.

By choosing foods based on what is healthy for humans, you can leave your dog deficient in many vitamins and minerals. You might even mistakenly feed them foods that our poisonous. In addition, you could also end up feeding them too much of a nutrient.

Either way, poor nutritional balance could mean health problems, suffering, and costly vet bills.

Take a Homemade Dog Food Diet Seriously

The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association recently published a research study that showed when people use a homemade dog food recipe online, it is often deficient in the correct daily nutrients required.

In fact, some recipes created by Board Certified Vet Nutritionists but still deficient. It’s not easy to feed a dog right.

The best way to make sure that your pet is eating a nutritional homemade dog food diet is by taking the time to specify the foods that you are feeding your dog. That way, you can compare your homemade dog food diet to the expert research on dog nutrition.

You can also add nutritional supplements into a dog’s homemade diet to make sure they are receiving the right amounts of what they need. However, supplements can also range in different amounts.

Compare your supplement to what you are already feeding your dog.

When you choose a homemade dog food diet, take the time to choose right. This not only shows how much you care, but that you’re willing to take the time to do it right, for real health benefits.

November 13, 2012

15 Household Items Poisonous to Dogs and Cats

1.         Human Medications

When a pet ingests a human medication, it could cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures and even death.

Be careful not to drop any pills on the floor without picking them up. Store them in their bottles in a secure place.

Never give a pet a human pill as treatment for an injury or illness.

2.         Chocolate

Any type of chocolate could cause a dog to suffer from hyperactivity, seizures, dehydration, and excessive urination. It could also kill.

Keep chocolate away from dogs and clean up any crumbs.

3.         Grapes and Raisins

Grapes in their fresh form or their dried form can cause renal failure in your dog and should never be fed to them.

4.         Avocados

Avocados can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. Remember to keep guacamole away from them, too.

5.         Lilies

Cats are known to snack on flowers and greenery. It’s important to keep lilies out of your home if you have a cat.

Cats that eat lilies are known to have their kidneys fail.

6.         Weed Killers

Weed killers contain harmful toxins that can harm your pets if ingested or inhaled.

The damage could be seen right away or may not appear for years. Keep your pets away from outdoor treatments for several hours after application.

7.         Pesticides

Pesticides can cause health problems in your pets if inhaled or ingested. Be sure to use non-toxic pest sprays in your house.

8.         Rodenticides

If a product can kill vermin, it could also harm your pets.

The dosages may not be enough to kill your pet but many mouse baits can cause internal bleeding in your pets. That can kill.

9.         Cleaning Products

Eating off a freshly cleaned floor, licking up spilled detergent or just inhaling certain cleaning products can cause immediate and long term damage to your pet.

Choose all natural and/or non-toxic products to clean your home.

10.       Glow Jewelry

The chemicals within glow in the dark jewelry typically aren’t lethal, but can cause panic when ingested by animals due to the strong taste.

Prevent this from happening by keeping these objects out of your pet’s reach and rinse their mouths out with water if it does happen.

11.       Paint

It’s not always clear what exactly is in paint, but it can be toxic to humans and pets alike.

Be sure to skip paints with antimicrobial or mildew fighting labels. These can cause thyroid damage. Store them away from your pets since their fumes can escape the can even when tightly covered.

12.       Flea and Tick Treatments

Just like insecticides for your lawn, flea and tick treatments can also damage pets if used incorrectly.

Make sure your cat doesn’t have access to your dog’s products and vice-versa since this can result in poisoning. Also be sure to use the right product designated for your pet’s size.

Specifically, K9 Advantix can kill a cat. Even if a cat just grooms a freshly treated dog.

13.       Gum

Chewing gum contains an ingredient called xylitol which can cause a dangerous dip in your dog’s blood sugar if ingested. Keep it away from your pets.

14.       Diet Soda

Xylitol is the sweetener used in diet sodas and can cause seizures and liver failure in your dog. Clean up any spilled soda before your dog can lick it up.

15.       Toothpaste

Toothpaste also contains xylitol which is known to reduce cavities in humans but it can make your dog seriously sick. Keep your toothpaste tube in a cabinet that your dog can’t access.

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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.