Category: Pets

Pets~ Things You Should Know

a cat lying on a couch: Here's another for good measure.
  • INSIDER asked a group of pet experts about some of their best advice for those who have animals.
  • Socializing your pets is great for their mental and physical health, according to animal expert Larissa Wohl.
  • It’s fairly common for dogs and cats to become obese, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s diet and weight.

Owning a pet is a huge responsibility and although it can be rewarding, it’s not always easy. Fortunately, there’s a lot of handy advice out there that can benefit you and your pets.

Here are some useful things for pet owners to know, according to experts. Allpets should be seen by their veterinarian at least once per year, even if they seem healthy

You may be tempted to skip your pet’s annual exam if they seem healthy, but Katy Nelson, host of “The Pet Show TV” on WJLA in Washington DC, said she recommends staying on top of wellness check-ups to ensure your furry friend is as healthy as they appear.

She told INSIDER that annual check-ups can help you catch health issues “early on while you still have time to intervene,” which can save you money and keep your pet feeling as well as possible. Obesity is quite common in cats and dogs, so it’s important to keep an eye on what your pet eats and how much they weigh

a close up of a cat eating from a bowl

© iStock

“Being overweight is devastating to our pets and overlooking it by calling them cutesy names like ‘Chunky,’ or ‘Fluffy’ is doing them no favors,” she said. “Adipose cells, known as fat cells, are hormone factories, producing dozens of inflammatory cytokines that increase your pets risk of diabetes, heart disease, joint disease, and even cancer.”

She said she suggests individuals speak to their veterinarian about their pet’s diet, their eating habits (including treats), and exercise patterns. She also encourages owners to try to keep their pets active.

“Find creative ways to exercise your pets like hunting feeders for cats or doggy daycare [or] anything that you can do to get them moving is a move toward getting healthy and fit,” she told INSIDER. Instead of telling your pet what not to do, try to direct them toward engaging in proper behaviors

Many of us forget that our pets don’t understand things as we do – so sometimes it’s helpful to guide them to proper actions, especially when they are doing something you’re trying to discourage, Kim Paciotti, an experienced dog trainer and pet expert from Charlotte, North Carolina, told INSIDER.

“Your dog may be chewing on something inappropriate, like a piece of furniture, and you quickly tell them to stop. They do for a short time but then they go right back to that same undesired behavior,” said Paciotti. “Why? Because you told them what not to do, instead of telling them what to do. The appropriate action would have been to give the dog something they were allowed to chew on.” If your dog is pulling on its leash, you may need to change how you act before and during a walk

Paciotti said one of the main behavior issues many dog owners complain about is that their animal pulls when it is on a leash. She said that sometimes owners are the cause of the problem, not the dog.

“Stop and see if you are actually setting your dog up to do this. Are you one who gets your dog all excited to go? Or are you one who knows your dog is distracted by other dogs and you proceed to walk them when everyone in your neighborhood walks their dogs?” said Paciotti.

“Or, maybe you have a puppy and want them to walk with you. A 6-foot leash and a new puppy are two things that should not go together. The pup must learn to focus on you and not the surroundings,” she added. When teaching your dog a new command, try speaking in plurals and using a high-pitched voice.

Another tip that Paciotti shared is that you should try to be mindful of the tone and pitch in your voice when talking to your dog. She said that speaking in plurals and even changing the tone of your voice can help you train a puppy in a lot faster.

“For example, if you want your dog to sit, say ‘sitting,’ and if you want your dog to lay say ‘laying,'” she said. “Dogs hear tone and pitch in our voices. The tone of our voice will change and peak the dog’s ears to pay attention.” Whenever your pet’s behavior changes, you may want to go see a veterinarian as it can be a sign of something more serious

As tempting as it may be to use the internet to diagnose changes to your pet’s behavior, Steve Dale, a certified animal-behavior consultant and host of several pet radio shows, said that a veterinarian should always be consulted to rule out a possible medical explanation for behavioral issues.

“Don’t assume, don’t wait, and don’t depend on [search engines]. Until a time comes when [the internet] can do blood work or heart your pet’s heart online, seeing your veterinarian is the right thing to do,” added Dale. Declawing a cat is considered to be inhumane and it’s not necessary

“A declaw is an amputation no matter how you slice it … the veterinarian amputates the end section of the last bone which contains the growth plate along the nail,” explained Dale. “It’s a procedure that we now know may cause long-term pain, including phantom pain.”

In addition, the Humane Society advises against removing a cat’s claws and multiple countries and some cities and states in the US, such as New York, have made declawing cats illegal.Socializing your pets is important to help keep them happy

Most pets enjoy getting out and playing with other animals, Larissa Wohl, a pet expert on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” show, told INSIDER.

“Socializing your animals, particularly dogs, is so important. We get so busy with our own day-to-day responsibilities that oftentimes [we forget that] our animals sit at home for the entire day,” said Whol. “The dog may get a walk in the morning or night, but socializing the animal with other animals helps them mentally and physically and helps them play nicely with other animals.”

She suggests dropping your canine off at a doggy daycare location a couple of times a week or scheduling a play date with a friend who has a dog. And, if you have a social cat and are prepared to adopt more pets, you may want to look into adopting another feline for it to socialize with throughout the day. Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/pets-animals/8-things-every-pet-owner-should-know-according-to-experts/ar-AAFQNVs

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Products That Are Causing Cancer In Your Pets

Elephants and naked mole rats are two animals that rarely get cancer. Scientists believe these two creatures may have genetic mechanisms that allow them repair damaged DNA (which could otherwise precipitate tumors). Unfortunately, household pets (especially cats and dogs) are not so lucky.

Why are so many pets getting cancer?

Indeed, these beloved creatures are experiencing higher rates of cancer than even humans. For instance, today one person out of five will get some form of cancer in their lifetime. But one out of every two dogs will develop the disease at some point.

All told, at least six million dogs and six million cats will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Veterinarians often explain these alarming stats by telling owners that it’s because their pets are living longer than ever before and tumors are almost inevitable in old age.

However, it’s not just advanced age that seems to be a problem. In all probability, inflammatory diets, toxic pet care products, and environmental factors are contributing to the epidemic of cancer that is afflicting cats and dogs.

How to keep your pets cancer-free

With that in mind, here are seven likely carcinogenic culprits that you’ll want to keep your pet away from as much as possible.

1. Heat-processed pet food

Animal lovers have been horrified to learn about some of the stuff that turns up in many brand name pet foods. Part of the problem is that the FDA hasn’t made the health and well-being of cats and dogs much of a priority.

Another problem with conventional pet food is that it is heat-processed and loaded with preservatives. All this is meant to extend the shelf life of the product, but these methods can subtract years from your pet’s life. That’s because heavily processed foods tend to stimulate compounds called cytokines, which promote inflammation in both the gut and throughout the body.

Chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for cancer and other diseases. For instance, it can precipitate a condition known as leaky gut syndrome, which can upset your pet’s hormonal balance while triggering an overactive immune system.

Increasingly, scientists believe that intestinal integrity is one of the keys to avoiding and preventing cancer. Many veterinarians do recommend conventional pet food brands, but the evidence suggests that both humans and pets are better off eating more nutritionally-rich raw foods.

Of course, cats and dogs have unique dietary requirements, which generally includes consuming excellent protein sources such as meat (along with raw veggies, grains and fruits).

2. Secondhand smoke

Cats exposed to secondhand smoke are 2.5 times more likely to get lymphoma than felines from smoke-free homes. Similarly, dogs exposed to secondhand smoke are at much greater risk for respiratory and nasal cancers. Smoking isn’t good for you, but it’s especially bad for your pet. Now, you have another good reason to quit the habit!

3. Preservatives in food

Artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin have been linked to a variety of health problems and are suspected carcinogens to boot. Pet food companies could opt for all-natural preservatives such as tocopherols (vitamin E), citric acid (vitamin C) and rosemary extract, but they don’t because that would cost more. To avoid artificial preservatives you can look for organic brand pet foods that specify that they have no artificial additives or preservatives.

4. Flea and tick control products

Many popular flea and tick control remedies include suspected carcinogens like fipronil and permethrin. These chemicals have been shown to cause tumors in laboratory studies and have been linked to thyroid problems as well as cancers of the lung, liver and thyroid too.

At the very least, you should limit using conventional flea and tick products to the months when these pests are active. For an even better solution, it’s very easy to make your own apple cider vinegar flea and tick repellent spray.

5. Commercial pesticide sprays

A recent study has linked the chemical dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (also known as 2,4-D), which is used in many lawn herbicides sprays, to an increased risk of cancer in dogs. The scientists at Tufts University who conducted the research explained, “Specifically, the use of professionally applied pesticides was associated with a significant 70 percent higher risk of CML (canine malignant lymphoma).”

Earlier studies have found a link between lawn sprays and bladder cancer in pets. Eradicating dandelions and other weeds may provide aesthetic benefits, but there’s a tradeoff that may impact your pet’s health. At the very least, try to keep your pets away from lawns that have been treated with toxic herbicides and pesticides.

6. Cleaning agents and household items with formaldehyde

Formaldehyde has long been suspected to be a carcinogen and a health hazard to both humans and pets. Unfortunately, this chemical is used to treat and persevere everything from cleaning agents to cosmetics to furnishing (like sofas and carpets).

To reduce exposure, scrutinize product labels and avoid shampoos, laundry detergents and other household products that specifically include formaldehyde or any of the following ingredients: Quaternium-15, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin and Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.

It’s hard to avoid carpeting and other furnishings treated with formaldehyde, but thankfully the chemical begins to break down when exposed to fresh air. Therefore, keeping your home well-ventilated can help reduce the health hazards from formaldehyde exposure.  

By the way, dogs and cats have very different types of skin than people. So, never use a shampoo intended for humans on your dog or cat. To avoid a shampoo with harmful preservatives (like formaldehyde), try making your own with these simple DIY recipes for dogs and cats.

7. Electromagnetic radiation

There is not a real lot of evidence tying radiation from cell phones, TV screens and computer to cancer in pets, but it’s well known that other forms of radiation (including ultraviolet light and x-rays) can damage DNA.

Cats and dogs love warm places, but allowing them to fall asleep directly under the TV, on top of a computer or near WiFi routers is probably not a great idea. It’s hard to avoid electromagnetic pollution these days, but keeping your pets at least several feet away from common devices can help reduce their exposure.

— Scott O’Reilly

Thank you for reading 🙂

Cat Nutrition

From Kitten to Senior Cat Food: Cat Nutrition by Lifestage

Published byChristine O’Brien‎

Your cat’s age is something that needs to be considered when choosing the proper food for your cat, whether you’re searching for kitten food or senior cat food. Selecting one that provides your furry friend with the optimum nutrition she needs at each lifestage can help to ensure a long, healthy life.

When searching for a cat food check the packaging to see if it matches your cat’s lifestage. A cat requires different levels of nutrition at every lifestage, so it is important to choose one that matches her energy level, metabolic rate and other basic needs. Some times all this information can make cat food labels not easy to read, however, so it’s important to know what your cat needs and why.

As classified by the American Animal Hospital Association, there are six identifiable stages of a cat’s life, each of which requires its own smart pet food choices.

Kitten eats food from a plate.

Newborn Kittens (Birth to 4 months)

Newborn kittens will stay with their mother for the first 8 or so weeks as they will rely on their mother’s milk to help them grow and fight off diseases that their immune system is quite equipped to deal with. During this time, they will do little else other than nurse and sleep.

When your kitten is at least 8-9 weeks old she will be ready to wean off her mother’s milk and come home with you. After she is weaned and ready to go home, you’ll immediately discover that she’s a ball of energy with a zest for life. At this stage, a kitten’s routine follows the pattern of eat, sleep, run around like crazy, repeat. She requires the right nutrients to maintain her boundless energy.

Now that she is weaned from her mother, whether from her mother or bottle-feeding, your new kitten food should be made with fatty acids, such as DHA (a common source of this nutrient is fish oil), folic acid, and taurine, an amino acid that aids in the vital development of the immune and digestive systems, heart functions and vision quality. Protein is another vital component of kitten food and comes from a variety of sources, including meat and grains. She is growing at an astonishing rate (this stage is equivalent to the first ten years of a human’s life!) and needs energy to keep up the pace. It’s important that these nutrients are always in the right amounts to ensure the best opportunity to be healthy as she grows. In addition to nutrition, don’t forget about other kitten care opportunities.

Junior Cats (7 Months to 2 years) and Prime Cats (3-6 years)

If your fur baby’s behavior changes as she approaches the one-year mark, don’t be surprised. She’s beginning adolescence and then moving on to adulthood, lifestages that correspond to the human ages of 12-27 (Junior) and 28-40 (Prime).

Technically, cats are considered to be adults at the age of one year and that will extend through year six, but age is not necessarily a deterministic factor in how active your cat will be. Many cats will be very lively well into their double-digit years. For this reason, one of your considerations for feeding a young adult cat should be activity level. An average kitty will need enough food for “maintenance” energy to go about her daily activities, but if your cat is extremely active and spends hours sprinting around the house, she’ll need a few more calories to sustain her. If your pet likes to laze in the sunshine all day, she might require carefully measured meals to keep her trim. Talk to your vet about your cat’s activity level, as they can help you determine if your cat needs more or less calories.

Adult cats require the right amount of fat and protein in their meals as well as other nutrients like taurine. Consider the Hill’s® Science Diet® line of cat food. These products, ranging from kitten food all the way up to senior cat food, provide balanced nutrition in a variety of options for adult cats of all ages, sizes and activity levels, including hairball, sensitive stomach and light formulas.

Mature Cats (7-10 years) and Senior Cats (11-14 years)

Cats in these two categories are placed firmly in the middle stages of life. In human years, these furry friends are in their early 40s through early 70s comparatively to humans. While your kitty won’t (necessarily) experience a mid-life crisis, she may become a little more finicky with her food choices, and you’ll need to ensure she gets the nutrients she needs while staying properly hydrated. Always make sure your cat has access to clean, fresh water.

This also is a time of life when cats’ nutritional needs shift, whether because of medical issues or simply aging. In some instances, too much or too little of any one ingredient may impact her health. During this stage, you’ll want to keep an eye on your cat’s weight as her activity level may decrease, which could lead to obesity. Avoid the calorie-rich food formulated for kittens and young adult cats; instead, look for foods that are formulated with her needs as an aging cat are kept in mind like Youthful Vitality cat food. Watching her calorie intake not only keeps her weight in a healthy range but also reduces the risk of diseases, such as kidney disease, certain cancers and osteoarthritis.

Tabby cat lays on human's lap while being pet.

Geriatric Cats (15+ Years)

In her golden years, your fur baby may start to seek more attention from you, become more affectionate, and reduce her activity level. As her behavior changes, so do her meal time needs.

Much like the foods for adult cats, senior cat food should be low in calories and fiber. Another concern for elderly cats is being underweight. Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 11+ Age Defying Cat Food is formulated with the right balance of necessary ingredients for geriatric cats with the added benefit of antioxidants that help keep her healthy during the aging process.

Both wet food and dry food provide your cat with the ingredients she needs, but there are upsides and downsides to each. Older cats often have worn or missing teeth, so she might appreciate something a little softer. Some pet parents try a combination of the two, or add just a little wet food — or even some fresh water — to dry kibble. Your cat certainly will let you know her preference, and the two of you can work together to find the perfect fit.

Where do cat treats fit into a cat’s meal plan? As just that: a treat. “While giving your cat an occasional treat is not generally harmful, they are usually not a nutritionally complete and balanced source of nutrition and should only be fed occasionally,” explains the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. According to Cornell, you also should avoid giving your cat raw meat (it carries the risk of toxoplasmosis and infectious disease), canned fish (risk of neurological disease) and milk (many cats can’t digest dairy).

In addition to a nutrient-rich food, your cat needs to stay hydrated in order to stay healthy. This is especially true for senior and geriatric cats, for whom dehydration can be a side effect of certain medical conditions.

There are, of course, exceptions for each cat lifestage if there are medical concerns or other issues to address, at which time you should consult with your veterinarian. Your vet can also help you determine the best feeding schedule for your cat including how much to feed at each lifestage as well as when to feed throughout the day. Choosing the best cat food for your best pal will help to keep her healthy, no matter whether she’s young or young at heart.

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Pet Owner~ What Certain Dog Behaviors Mean

Interpreting Common Dog Behaviors & the Meaning Behind His Moods

Published byErin Ollila Contributor Photo‎

Your pup’s actions tell you a lot about his mood. And although you may not be fluent in the canine tongue–short of what it means when it salivates–you do need to learn how to interpret dog behavior. Have you ever witnessed your dog licking certain textures or circling the same spot in front of you? There are many reasons a specific dog state of mind or health concern may cause him to do these things. Once you pay attention to his behavior, you’ll be able to help him.

1. Bad Breath

Dogs aren’t known for having wonderfully minty breath, but if you notice a marked change with even a little halitosis, it might be time to take a trip to the veterinarian. There could be something wrong with your dog’s oral health.

A change in the smell of your dog’s breath may also be a cause for concern with respect to his gastrointestinal tract, liver, or kidneys. If your dog’s breath smells of urine, for instance, he could have a kidney problem. Sweet-smelling breath is a sign to vets that your dog may have diabetes (especially if he’s drinking more water and urinating more often). His overall dog mood may appear happy, but if his breath has changed, pay attention – let your veterinarian know.

2. Biting

Puppies may nip at you as they learn how to communicate with their pet parents. This usually happens while playing, as young dogs often communicate with their mouths when they interact. It may also happen during training, or for simply no reason you can identify. If your young one is nipping regularly, though, it’s important to stop it before it develops into a more problematic dog behavior down the line.

Dogs bite out of anxiety, fear, or aggression. Can you identify which is motivating your pet to do so? Is his mood influencing his actions? If you’re having trouble teaching your dog not to bite, consider working with a professional trainer, or better yet, a veterinary behaviorist. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend one for you.

3. Circling

Dogs who can’t stop walking in circles may have a health issue. Yes, sometimes it’s fun to chase your tail, but if your pup can’t shake the compulsion, there’s a problem beneath the surface. Ear infections may cause circling, but compulsive tail chasing may occur with bull terriers

Of course there may be other reasons your buddy is circling. Older dogs may suffer from idiopathic vestibular syndrome, and, not to alarm you, but all dogs are at risk for poisoning or a brain tumor. Only your vet can determine the cause of your dog’s circling, so get him in for a checkup.

4. Digging

Dogs dig in the ground for many reasons: to escape, to track animals, to make a cool spot to lie, or to hide something important to them. However, some dogs “dig” inside as well. Have you ever noticed your dog scratching at the blankets or couch in order to find the perfect place to lie down? This dog behavior happens most often at night and during nap times, and it is completely normal.

If your dog’s digging starts to bother you, or damage your furniture, consider working with a professional trainer to reduce this stubborn habit.

5. Eating poop

Dogs eat feces for many reasons; it can be a normal (while distasteful to us) dog behavior. Young dogs may watch their mother clean them (who ingests feces as a result), and mimic her. Fear may even cause your dog to eat feces if he’s afraid of the repercussions. Then again, your dog may just be curious. He may smell certain scents in the feces and wonder what it tastes like.

Eating poop can also be an instinctive solution to a nutritional deficiency. Make sure you feed your dog a well-balanced food like Hill’s® Ideal Balance®, so you can completely rule out malnutrition as a reason for his eating waste. Contact your veterinarian especially if your dog is losing weight as well.

6. Head Pressing

If you notice your dog pressing his head against the wall or another firm object, there’s a need for your immediate attention. Head pressing is a common sign of numerous serious problems, such as toxic poisoning or brain disease. Make an appointment with your dog’s vet right away.

7. Panting

Dogs expel most of their body heat from their mouths. When your dog pants, he’s probably too warm, so he is regulating his body temperature. However, it’s important to pay attention to panting, as he may do it when in pain as well. Help your pal regulate his temperature and make sure he’s well hydrated before any physical activity–especially as the weather warms up. If your dog was injured, get him to the vet immediately. Some other health problems may also show increased panting as a sign, so if you have a question, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

8. Sitting on Your Feet or Between Your Legs

This is often mistaken for possessive behavior, but is most often a sign of anxiety or nervousness. “Dominance” is rarely the problem; your dog is probably trying to feel safer by staying close.

Yellow lab puppy sitting at owner's feet on a leash

Anxiety is often more than a dog trainer is qualified to help with so discuss the behavior with your veterinarian and see if your dog would benefit from a referral to a veterinary behavior specialist.

9. Scooting

Have you ever watched your dog drag himself across the floor . . . with his bottom on the ground? It may seem funny (or kind of disgusting). But it is also called scooting, and it means there’s something irritating your dog’s anus. It’s possible that your pup’s anal sacs are full and need to be expressed.

If your dog’s anal sacs aren’t backed up, the problem could be irritation for some other reason. Allergies may only show up as an itchy rear. While it’s common to blame worms, it is an uncommon reason for the behavior. Check with your veterinarian to be sure your pal is on an appropriate parasite prevention program.

Finally, a dog who’s a grass-eater, or likes to lick around the house, could have strands of grass or hair trapped in his anus that he’s rubbing the ground to get out. This is the least-severe reason for scooting but the easiest for you to help him take care of.

10. Urinating

If your dog is house trained, it may come as a surprise if you see him urinating in your home. Dog behavior doesn’t usually change without reason. Formerly reliable dogs who suddenly begin urinating inside need your attention! This is a sign that something may be very wrong with your furry friend, and when he relieves himself frequently–even if he is in the correct location–it can be a sign of a urinary tract, bladder, or kidney infection. In an older dog, it may even be a sign of dementia.

11. Yawning

American Staffordshire terrier puppy, white with black eye patch, yawns sitting on wooden boards

Although you might think he needs some sleep, a dog yawn doesn’t usually mean he’s tired. He may be interested in napping, but he could also be showing a sign of fear or stress. If your dog appears to yawn at an increased rate around a new person, don’t rush the introduction. He’s either picking up vibes he doesn’t feel comfortable with, or is fearful for a less-obvious reason. No matter what the case, a forced introduction isn’t a good idea.

12. Anxiety Shows in Many Ways

Signs of anxiety include shaking, tail tucking, escapist behavior, defecating in the home, biting or injuring himself, barking, and many more, according to PetMD.

Because they’re technically pack animals, your dog may become fearful when left alone. If separation anxiety is a chronic issue for your dog, you’ll both need to learn how to create a relaxing environment when you leave the house. Consider taking your dog for a long walk or play a rigorous game of fetch in your backyard to tire him out before you go. Don’t make a big deal out of your departure, either. If you’re still having trouble with separation anxiety, consider involving a professional who can work on behavioral training.

If your dog is experiencing any of these behaviors, and it’s not normal for him, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with his vet to rule out any systemic medical issues. Your once social, extremely energetic dog won’t suddenly become lethargic and withdrawn. If he does, he’s asking for some help.

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Pets~Ways To Clean Up Pet Hair

Keep your home pet hair free with these simple hacks.

Clean Up Pet Hair Beauty

Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

For pet owners everywhere, keeping pet hair at bay is an everyday struggle. With these simple hacks, cleaning up after your furry friends has never been easier.

What you will need

  • nail file
  • rubber glove
  • paint roller
  • duct tape
  • squeegee
  • spray bottle

Nail File

Clean Up Pet Hair Nail File

Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

A nail file makes quick work of pet hair that is stuck to felt chair pads.

Rubber Gloves

Clean Up Pet Hair Rubber Glove

Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

Not only do rubber dish gloves protect your hands while cleaning, they are perfect pet hair magnets.

Paint Roller and Tape

Clean Up Pet Hair Paint Roller

Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

Wrap duct tape around a paint roller to help lift off pesky pet hair from your furniture.

Squeegee

Clean Up Pet Hair Spray Bottle

Loch and Key Productions

Vacuums won’t get all your pet’s hair form carpet and upholstered furniture so try this simple trick. Spritz a bit of water onto the furry surface.

Clean Up Pet Hair Squeegee

Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

Take a squeegee and move it back and forth across the carpet or furniture. The rubber attached to it will loosen the embedded hair. Pick up the clumps of hair that accumulate and you’re done.

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Tomatoes~Poisonous to Dogs?

Are Tomatoes Poisonous for Dogs?

Those of us with furry, barking friends may wonder whether tomatoes are safe to share. There’s a lot of confusing information out there on the topic, so here’s what you should know about each part—the ripe fruit, stems and leaves, as well as the flowering plant.

Can My Dog Eat Tomatoes?

Dogs can absolutely have the tomato fruit. If you want to give a tomato to a dog, small amounts won’t hurt them a bit. Many dogs love them for the same reason people do; they’re tasty!

While they are nontoxic, don’t feed too much tomato to your dog because it can cause stomach upset. Tomatoes are notoriously acidic, which could definitely cause problems in a dog with a sensitive stomach.

Be sure you start with small amounts to see how your dog reacts, just like you would when introducing any new food.

Cooked Tomatoes and Tomato Pomace

Cooked tomatoes are safe for dogs, just like ripe ones, and tomato pomace is a common ingredient in many dog foods.

Tomato pomace is made from the ripe fruit and incorporates skin, pulp and seeds. It’s a frequent byproduct of human food production.

Why Do People Think Tomatoes Are Poisonous to Dogs?

The tomato is a member of the nightshade family of plants. Since some other members of this family are known to be very toxic, it raises doubt as to whether the more commonly consumed plants are truly healthy for dogs.

Toxic Tomatine in Tomato Plants

There is a potentially toxic substance found in tomatoes—called tomatine—that can be very harmful when consumed in large quantities.

However, ripe tomatoes contain such a small amount that, even if your furry friend consumes far more than you ever intended, it’s not really a concern as far as toxicity goes.

Unripe tomatoes contain slightly more tomatine, but the difference is probably not significant.

Tomatine is found in greatest concentration in the tomato plant itself—more so in the flowers and small stems, but also in the leaves and the stalk.

Even so, the flowers, stems and leaves don’t actually present much of a threat to dogs. The likelihood of a dog consuming enough of the plant to cause serious harm is very slim.

Mild gastrointestinal upset is the most likely outcome when dogs eat tomato greenery. Large, grazing animals are the main concern when it comes to toxicity from tomato plants due to the volume of plant material they consume.

That said, if you think that your dog has eaten a large amount of tomato plant, call your veterinarian for advice.

Do Tomatoes Have Health Benefits for Dogs?

Since we know tomatoes are not poisonous to dogs, it’s natural to wonder whether they offer any health benefits. Tomatoes can absolutely be good for dogs, which is why so many pet food manufacturers use them in their formulas.

Tomatoes have lots of soluble and insoluble fiber. The pomace form has more fiber than whole tomatoes since the liquid is removed from the pomace, leaving behind only the fibrous parts of the fruit.

Fiber helps to support healthy digestion and maintain your dog’s steady blood sugar levels.

Tomatoes also contain antioxidants and several important vitamins and minerals, like potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. The amount of these nutrients in the tomato or tomato pomace will depend heavily on the quality of the fruit.

By: Jennifer Coates, DVM

Featured Image: iStock.com/jbosley58


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Dog Dementia

5 Signs of Dog Dementia

by Katherine Tolford

While your beloved senior dog can’t really forget where he put his car keys, it turns out that he is capable of experiencing “senior moments.” If your dog forgets the route on your daily walk or if he’s not enjoying the things he once did, like chasing after his favorite toy or greeting you at the door, he could be suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), or the doggy version of Alzheimer’s.

Canine cognitive dysfunction can occur for a number of reasons, like an accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain. This creates a build-up of plaque, which eventually damages nerves and results in the loss of brain function, which can affect your dog’s memory, motor functions and learned behaviors.

Most dogs, regardless of breed, experience some form of CCD as they age. In a study conducted by the Behavior Clinic at the University of California at Davis, researchers found that 28 percent of dogs aged 11-12 years, and 68 percent of dogs aged 15-16 years, showed one or more signs of cognitive impairment.

Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, says a lot of dog owners aren’t aware that their dogs can suffer from CCD until they take them to the vet for what they think are physical or behavioral problems.

“The first thing you should do is to talk to your vet to make sure that it’s cognitive dysfunction and not something else. It comes on gradually and owners don’t always notice things,” says Dr. Beaver.

“What did your dog stop doing that he used to do? Is he not chasing his ball because he has arthritis? Or is it that he doesn’t care anymore? It’s important to differentiate between physical and mental causes.”

Some symptoms of CCD can overlap with other age related conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and kidney issues, as well as hearing and sight loss. Depending on your dog’s symptoms your vet may propose x-rays, blood tests, urinalysis, or other diagnostic tests.

Dr. Denise Petryk, a former emergency room vet who now works with Trupanion pet insurance, says the widely accepted DISHA acronym can help dog owners characterize the most distinct signs and changes associated with CCD.

The term DISHA refers to the symptoms Disorientation, [altered] Interactions with their family members or other pets, Sleep-wake cycle changes, House soiling, and Activity level changes. 

“It gives us the ability to check against a list of things to show that something else isn’t going on. If your dog has one of the symptoms or some combination then we’re more likely to call it cognitive dysfunction.”

Dr. Beaver says to keep in mind that there isn’t necessarily a progression to the symptoms your dog may be experiencing.

“The more signs and frequency we see, the greater significance of the problem. Each sign or symptom doesn’t really signify a particular phase,” she says.

Here’s the DISHA list of possible symptoms that may demonstrate cognitive dysfunction in dogs:

Disorientation

One of the most common things pet parents may notice is that their senior dog gets disoriented even when he’s in his normal or familiar environment.

“This often happens when the dog is out in the backyard and he goes to the wrong door or the wrong side of the door to get back in. The part of the brain that is involved with orientation has been affected.” Beaver says.

Your dog may also experience difficulty with spatial awareness. He may wander behind the couch and then realize he doesn’t know where he is or how to get out.

At bedtime you may find your dog in a different part of the house staring at the wall instead of curled up in his dog bed. Petryk says dogs have a good sense of timing, so this is a sign that something is wrong.

“The first thing you should do is to take your dog in for a check-up. It might not be a cognitive issue, so your vet may want to rule out some other possible medical causes which could involve a brain tumor or diabetes.”

Interactions

Canine cognitive dysfunction can affect your dog’s interactions with people and other animals. Your once sociable dog who used to be the most popular pooch on the block now acts cranky and irritable, or even growls at other animals or children. He may lash out and bite his once favorite playmates. Petryk cautions that this behavior could be the result of something serious.

“He may be acting this way because he’s in pain. He could have arthritis or some other ailment that hurts when he moves or is touched. Your vet may want to do x-rays to rule out a painful condition.”

Some dogs withdraw from their family and their favorite activities. They may fail to notice when the doorbell rings and seem disinterested in greeting visitors, or they may stop barking at the mailman. Your dog may not even respond when you get his leash out to go for a walk.

“I’ve had patients whose dogs don’t recognize that their favorite cookies are treats for them, “ says Petryk. “The owner’s first instinct is to buy other cookies. They don’t realize something else could be going on.”

Sleep-Wake Cycle Changes

A change in sleep patterns or a disruption in circadian rhythms is one of the more specific symptoms related to cognitive dysfunction. Dogs that used to sleep soundly may now pace all night. Many dogs reverse their normal schedules, so their daytime activities become their nighttime activities. This “up all night” routine can be frustrating and tiring to pet owners.

“If your dog is active at night and you want to get him to sleep, a nightlight or white noise may help him,” Beaver says.

If this doesn’t provide relief, consult your vet for medications that may ease your dog’s anxiety and reestablish normal sleep cycles.

House Soiling

Urinating or defecating in the house is one of the most common ways cognitive dysfunction is detected in dogs, especially if the dog was previously housetrained.

Petryk says that when this happens it’s important for owners to consider that their dog may have lost its ability to voluntarily control elimination or even let them know that he needs to go outside.

“After we run tests and rule out a bladder infection, kidney problems, or diabetes, then there’s usually been a cognitive change. If your dog is staring out at the sliding glass door and then poops in the house anyway and it’s not because of bowel trouble, then he’s lost the understanding that he should poop outside,” Petryk explains.

Activity Level

Dogs with cognitive dysfunction may show a decreased desire to explore and a decreased response to things, people, and sounds in their environments. They may not greet you or they may no longer respond on cue to fetch their favorite toy. They may also be less focused and show an altered response to stimuli. Some dogs have trouble eating or drinking or finding their food bowls.

“They may drop something when they’re eating and they can’t find it,” says Petryk. “If they don’t have sight or hearing issues, this can be a true indication that they are experiencing cognitive dysfunction.”

Although older dogs experience a normal decline in activity levels, they may also experience restless or repetitive locomotion.

“They may exhibit repetitive motion; things like head bobbing, leg shaking, or pacing in circles. This kind of action is more related to cognitive dysfunction or a degeneration of the brain. It’s less likely to be mistaken for anything else,” Petryk says.

Owners should also be aware if their typically quiet dog now barks excessively or if he barks at times when nothing is going on.

Diet, Medication, and Environment

Watching your dog lose his cognitive abilities can be a difficult and disturbing process, but there are things you can do to help ease his discomfort.

“You can’t stop the process but it’s possible to slow it down so they don’t go from one problem to three problems,” Beaver says.

Certain dog foods are formulated to help slow down cognitive dysfunction and include anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to promote and strengthen cell health.

Beaver says combining an enhanced diet with efforts to enrich your dog’s environment provides the greatest chance for cognitive improvement.

“Introducing things like food puzzles encourages mental stimulation,” she explains. “Any type of food dispenser toy where they have to roll it around to get the food out helps keep them mentally active.”

Regular scheduled play sessions can also stimulate your dog’s brain and improve his learning and memory abilities.

“If your dog doesn’t have physical restrictions, grab his leash and take him to the dog park where he can socialize with other dogs,” says Petryk. “It’s possible to slow deterioration by keeping him physically and mentally active, just like it is for us.”

Psychoactive drugs and dietary supplements can also help slow your dog’s decline, but Beaver recommends visiting your vet for specific recommendations that can be tailored to your dog’s health and medical history.

“If, for instance, your dog also has a heart problem, the medications he takes for that is going to factor into any medications prescribed for cognitive decline,” says Beaver. “Vets and owners need to work together to establish a plan.”

Regular Check-ups

“As your dog gets older he should be having twice yearly check-ups. That way they can help differentiate between normal aging and what’s pathological or wrong,” says Petryk.

She suggests going into the vet with a list of questions and observations—things that you notice when you’re at home. If changes happen gradually, it’s easy to overlook them, says Petryk.

“People can be blind to the changes in their pets because they’ve happened slowly,” she says. “They may not notice things and it may be too late to fix them.”


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Yogurt For A Dog With Diarrhea

Sometimes our little buddies will get some serious tummy problems, and it’s mostly due to the fact that they will put almost anything in their mouth. For those times when your dog has diarrhea, it is important to keep him hydrated and not to upset the stomach further, and yogurt will help soothe the inflammation and promote the growth of good bacteria.


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