December 8, 2011

Why No Respect for Pet Lovers?

Filed under: Your Pet — Tags: , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:22 pm

canine stress In an article featured in the New York Times by Vanderbilt Philosophy Professor, Kelly Oliver, contends that the pathology of animal lovers is often times portrayed as weak and mentally unstable. Her argument rests on two scenarios. Firstly, she argues that the President is traditionally seen as an animal tamer, hunter, and eater. Presidents are photographed hunting, a political strategy used to depict them as a character who provides sustenance for his family and protection for the nation; they are not pet lovers. Even President Obama, who is one of the few Presidents to not hunt, is often times seen eating a burger. Oliver contends that vegetarianism and American politics are polar opposites. Her next argument revolves around how female celebrities for animal rights are oftentimes depicted as “quirky at best and at worst crazy.” In fact, she argues that pets are only accepted in two categories: as pets for children, or as service animals. In the former, she argues the psychological profile for pet lover is “soft, childlike, or pathological,” attributes which are only accepted in a child who turns to their pet for comfort and support. In regards to the latter, she argues that society only accepts animal dependence in times of “illness, handicap or severe need.” For example, service animals provide physical assistance to the blind or emotional support for patients going through extreme emotional and medical stress.

Pet LoverWhile this article does raise some interesting points, I think it makes too broad conclusions based on weak assumptions and promotes unfair assumptions for pet owners. Her first argument about the President ultimately not being a pet lover is simply untrue. For example, Bill Clinton was notoriously close to his dog, Buddy. Buddy wasn’t his daughter’s, Chelsea’s, dog; the dog was Clinton’s through and through. In fact, nearly ever President has owned a dog, and to argue that those dogs were for their children and not for the President, even when the President owned the dog before he had children/after his children had grown up, is simply absurd!

Her second argument is also contentious. There are many vegetarian and vegan celebrities who are regarded with respect, such as Paul McCartney and Steve Jobs. Moreover, recently in the UK, Paul McCartney and Gordon Brown have been pushing to introduce a Meat-Free Mondays law, with the goal of pushing health, the environment, and other ethical issues higher up on the political agenda.

Her third argument, about service animals being used for the physically and emotionally vulnerable, is perhaps her most legitimate argument. It is true – people do turn to animals in times of need. However, this decision to rely on animal support during times of need is clearly a choice – people turn to service animals because they provide unconditional love and support.

Show your beloved pet support. Give back to her or him, particularly with the upcoming Christmas season. Ensure that they are always safe, loved, and free of possible dog anxiety with herbs and supplements for overall pet health.

Also, what do you think? Are pets really just for children? Do you think powerful people can be animal lovers? Leave your opinion on this article in the comments section below.

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.

June 18, 2011

Everyday Exercises for Cats

Filed under: cat health — Tags: , , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:26 pm

Rainy day and you need something to do? Does your cat sleep more than you do? Truthfully, your cat does need more sleep than you, on average cats tend to sleep for fourteen hours per day. Although it is advised to keep indoor cats inside the house, it is not recommended to encourage lazy lounging. When they are not snoozing it is important for cats to exercise to maintain good health as overfeeding combined with inactivity can increase risks of obesity and arthritis in cats. Exercise decreases these risks and also promotes weight loss in cats. Exercising does not have to be tough. With so many games to play, you and your cat may find yourselves enjoying exercise time.

feline arthritis Chase the Light : Cats can’t get enough of this game. You can use either a flash light or a laser pointer. Tease your cat by pointing the light close to him and moving it when he attempts to “catch” it. It can be entertaining to watch your cat bounce off objects and people in their path. Most pet stores supply inexpensive laser pointers. This game does not require much effort and is an easy method of providing exercise to your pet.

Hunting : Cats are primitive creatures; it is in their nature to hunt for their food. Hide their food in a different place each meal. Whether dinner is served at the top of a flight of stairs, in a cozy crook, or on the top of tall furniture, your cat will be more interested and active while searching for his food. Do not hesitate from placing food at higher places; cats love to be elevated.

exercises for catsCatch the Snack: There are pet toys in which you can encase snacks. The trick is to let your cat watch you package the snack up to draw him in. Let your cat chase the toy (this works best when the toy is attached to string) and reward him when he catches the toy. Lay the toy in front of the cat and move it side to side. Do not prolong the game as cats will lose interest after two to three minutes. Let your pet win and enjoy his reward to encourage him to play again in the future.

Chase Your Cat : Believe it or not, some cats like being chased. This is great exercise for you and your pet. Additionally, this is also a great exercise that kids can take part in as well. Just be careful to hazardous objects to avoid tripping and painful accidents.

Play Toys: One can never go wrong with the use to cat toys. There a variety of mouse toys that cats love to chase and play with. Some cats prefer life-like mice toys while others take delight neon colored mice. Toys are an excellent means of keeping busy for cats; you’ll know you have found the “right” toy when your pet hides the toy to play with it later.

June 13, 2011

Plants Your Pet Should Avoid

Filed under: pet health — Tags: , , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:26 pm

Plants Dogs Should not EatWhenever a dog gets a chance, they will go exploring. Their curiosity is what makes them stop at every fire hydrant, go digging in the dirt, and lick whatever looks good. This curiosity is fun for them but it’s time to check out what they are putting their noses into. Dogs will always go up to different plants to take a sniff especially when outside. Some of these plants might look pretty on the outside but can cause serious damage to pets. Here are just a few so you can keep your dogs health in perfect condition.


Lilies can cause a lot of damage to a dog’s health in small amounts. If ingested, lilies can cause damage to the kidneys. Also, a small amount can cause a dog to vomit, suffer nausea, arrhythmia, and a slowed heart beat.


These pretty flowers aren’t so pretty on the inside. The bulb part of the flower contains toxins that can cause depression in dogs of the central nervous system. It can also cause intense gas, irritation, loss of appetite, excessive drooling and cardiac abnormalities.


Not only dogs are affected by this plant but also grazing animals such as horses. If ingested symptoms of diarrhea, excessive salivation, depression, vomiting, weakness, and coma in dogs. These symptoms can result in death from cardiovascular collapse.

Sogo Palms

T his plant doesn’t even need to be ingested by your dog to have harmful effects on them. If this plant is licked, seeds are swallowed which causes symptoms of vomiting, liver failure, seizures, and may lead to death. Keep your dog as far away from this plant as you can since the whole thing is poisonous.


Pothos are popular household plants that cause serious damage to a dog. If it is chewed by a dog or ingested, it can cause mechanical irritation and swelling of the tissue in the mouth and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.


These colorful and bright flowers bring a lot of attention to themselves when found in areas of the woods or in a nearby park. Grayantoxins are found in Azaleas which cause vomiting. Ingestion of this plant results in hyper salivation, weakness, and can end in coma or death.

May 16, 2011

Nightmare on Flea Street

Filed under: flea treatment — Tags: , , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:09 pm

Dog with FleasWhat can jump 150 times their body length, is 1.5 to 3.3 mm long, sucks blood to live, has been around since prehistoric times, and is a wingless insects with tube-like mouth-parts? This horrendous creature sounds like a description out of a horror movie but its real and could be living in your house. Ctenocephalides canis, better known as fleas could be hosting off your pet without you even knowing. Fleas live on a life cycle of four stages. Stage one is when an adult flea infests your dog and begins to lay eggs. Stage two is within two and five days as the eggs develop into adult fleas. Stage three is larvae or caterpillar, where the egg hatches into larvae. The last stage is flea pupae or cocoon, which means now there is a fully grown flea and now the cycle begins again.

The effects on your dog make their life very unpleasant. The common effects are itching and scratching. However some dogs feel unbearable itching that cause the dog’s skin to thicken and their hair to fall out. This in turn makes the raw skin vulnerable to bacterial infections.

You need to wage a full out war if you’re going to take down this resilient creature. This ongoing battle will take place on two fronts; the dogs environment and on his skin. The key to eliminating fleas is to totally remove the life cycle of the fleas which is tricky because they are all on different parts of the cycle. Also, the reproduction of fleas is ridiculously fast while the treatments can be tedious. One hands-on way of dealing with fleas is hang a light over some flypaper, the heat will attract the fleas which will then get caught on the flypaper. In addition, treating your carpets with a borate-based powder and spraying the yard with outdoor flea control products will help lower the flea count in the dog’s environment. Washing your dog thoroughly with a flea repellent will be the best at getting rid of fleas on your best friend. Providing a healthy meal is also important because this will strengthen the dog’s immune system.

Of course pet medication for fleas is the best way of defeating fleas. It’s fast and easy. There are several dog flea medications for all sizes and needs in the pharmaceutical industry. For example Advantix Red, Advantix Blue, Revolution Mauve, and Frontline flea control. The task of killing fleas is daunting but it is necessary and your furry little friend will love you for it.

February 18, 2011

Separation Anxiety in Cats

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

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

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

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

February 9, 2011

Canine Diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 1, 2011

The Essentials of Dog Grooming

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

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

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

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

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

January 25, 2011

Tips for Choosing a Dog Trainer

Filed under: training your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:07 pm

best dog trainersWhether trainingat home is not working out as well as you had expected or you just prefer professional training for your dog, you really need to take some time to make sure you choose a good dog trainer.  There are many dog training methodologies, some of which will not be compatible with how you choose to care for your dogs.  While most successful dog trainers use humane, science-based training methods, this is not always the case.  So, do your research and pick a trainer that will be effective using a positive training philosophy.

1.       Choose a trainer with real world dog experience.  Not all trainers have been in the business for very long so you’ll want to make sure your dog trainer has the necessary experience to effectively train your dog.  This is not to say that a novice trainer won’t be able to train your dog, but most dog owners want to get some references or recommendations from other customers.  Still, it’s more important that you choose a trainer with quality experience.

2.       Decide whether you prefer group classes or private training.  Obviously group classes are going to be less expensive but if your dog has had problems with aggression or is not very friendly with other dogs, private classes might be a better way to start.  Even if your dog is happy and social, private classes are considerably more effective.

3.       Don’t let price be the deciding factor.  Obviously the most experienced dog trainers are going to be the most expensive, especially if they have a good reputation.  Nevertheless, the price for training sessions should not be your deciding factor.  Narrow your results to a few trainers in your price range and then make your decision based on recommendations and experience.  Some dog trainers will even charge based on results rather than time.  In this case, you pay based on what your dog actually learns and if more sessions are required, they should be free of charge.

Ultimately, you want to choose a dog trainer that uses humane and proven training methods so that you know your dog will be treated respectfully but will also learn new behaviors.  Furthermore, if you develop some concerns about your trainers techniques, it’s never too late to ask for a refund.

January 13, 2011

Hormone Gels and the Risk to Kids and Pets

Filed under: Human Medications and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:54 pm

Hormone gels and creams are prescribed to men and women in order to help them maintain healthy hormone levels.  Menopausal women may use these creams to treat hot flashes and men suffering from low testosterone levels may also use them.  Unfortunately, with these creams we risk exposing children and pets whenever we engage in skin to skin contact.  While serious problems resulting from such contact are rare, there are some shocking symptoms associated with secondary exposure to these hormone gels.

hormone gelChildren exposed to hormone gels may show signs of puberty earlier than average and cases of enlarged genitalia, early pubic hair growth, and even breast development have been reported.  Dogs can cats may even ingest the cream when they lick your hand or skin leading to heat-like behavior even if they have been spayed.  In fact, in July of this year, the FDA went so far as to issue a warning to parents that children and pets need to be protected from exposure to Evamist, a commonly prescribed estrogen spray for menopausal women.  Furthermore, manufacturers AndroGel and Testim, two common topical testosterone gels, were required by the FDA to include warnings on the products’ labels.

While the risk to children and pets is increased when individuals are using topical hormone gels, these forms of replacement therapy seem to be healthier for the patient.  With oral hormone replacement therapy, specifically for women taking estrogen, there tends to be a higher risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack while transdermal hormone gels are significantly safer.  As a result, there has been a noticeable shift in treatment toward creams and gels.

Patients who use topical hormone gels and who also have close contact with children and animals should take special precautions.  Always wash your hands after applying the cream or gel to prevent secondary exposure.  Also, if you regularly hold pets or small children, you should be careful to prevent secondary exposure from contact with arms, legs, and the body.

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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.