Monthly Archives: July 2012

Allergies To Cats: What You Can Do

You probably know someone, or you yourself get those symptoms: Itchy, runny nose, red eyes, sore throat, sneezing, wheezing, the whole nine yards.  Some of us have friends who cannot visit because of their allergies, and we try to get rid of the issues causing the allergies, pet dander.  There are steps to take to help our friends with these allergies, but they are not always fail safe.

Some people will take allergy medications (Claritin or Allegra are the over the counter ones that seem to work best for some), others refuse to visit because of the allergy flare ups.  There are some things you can do to help those with allergies and possibly have allergic friends over to visit.

Cleaning up and vacuuming the home often helps to reduce pet dander.  You can use a vacuum that will help to get rid of the dander (no vacuum can get rid of it 100%, but some work better than others).  Bissell, Hoover and Dyson tend to make vacuums that work well for pet dander.

There are pet wipes that will help to pick up the dander on your cat, you can use them while petting your cat, or during play time, depending on how mellow your cat can be at any certain time of the day.

You can also install a HEPA air cleaner.

For more ideas and ways to help those with allergies, and if you have them as well, this article will give you more ideas.

Weekly Trick – Catch The Ball In Your Paws (For Dogs)

This little Beagle in the video is pretty talented and looks very sweet.

There aren’t any steps to training your dog how to do this trick but I would probably go about it in this way:

1. FIrst make sure your dog knows the command “sit”.

2. Next, start to teach the dog the command “up” so that they can stand on their hind legs and so that they can put their paws up as well.

3. Now incorporate the ball and start to throw the ball gently to your dog, aiming more for the paws so that they can catch it.

4. I would start using a word like “catch” or “hold” so that they associate that with catching the ball between their paws.

5. Then keep on working on that until the dog can catch the ball and hold it for a second or two.  Also the dog will most likely when trying to catch it, the ball will probably bounce back to you, so in essence, they are learning how to play and toss the ball back and forth and learn the “Catch” trick as well, so it’s a two for one!

Always remember to have treats handy, and make sure you have time and patience to teach this trick.  Do not try to teach it for more than 5-10 minutes at a time, as your dog’s attention span is not that long.

Here is the video to help you teach this trick to your dog.  Have fun!

 

Recipe Friday – Doggie Burgers

These “burgers” sounded so good and smelled good, I was tempted to keep them and eat them for myself!  Your dog is sure to love these tail banging treats!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley (If your dog is allergic to gluten/wheat, substitute 1-cup white or brown rice.)
  • 2 cups fat-free chicken broth (if your dog is allergic to poultry, you can use beef broth, or vegetable broth)
  • 2 slices lean bacon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (if your dog has a gluten/wheat allergy, you can use gluten free bread crumbs, or buy a loaf of gluten free bread, dry it out and make your own bread crumbs.  I leave the loaf out overnight, until it is dry, then put it in a ziploc bag, and use a rolling pin over the slices in the bag and it makes decent bread crumbs).
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (or any cheese you have on hand will do, those were the cheeses I used when I made this recipe).

Directions:

1. Over high heat, bring barley and the broth of your choice to a boil. (If you are using rice, cook the rice using the broth of your choice).

2. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until barley is tender (about 20 minutes.) Drain excess liquid and let cool in a medium bowl. (of course, if you are using rice, you can omit this step, but do put the rice in a bowl to cool).

3. While the barley (or rice) is cooking, cook the bacon over medium heat in a large nonstick pan until bacon is crisp (usually about 4 minutes). Keep bacon fat for cooking the burgers.

4. Finely chop bacon and add to the cooled barley (or rice).

5. Mix in egg, bread crumbs and cheese.  After mixture is evenly combined, divide into 4 patties. (If you have a smaller dog and want to make smaller patties, that is fine.  Or if you just want bite size burgers for any size dog, that will work as well).

6. Reheat the bacon fat and cook the burgers for 4 minutes per side on medium heat. (Less time for smaller bite-sized burgers).

7. Store any leftovers in your refrigerator in an air tight container.  Keep for no more than a week.

Canine Bloat

Just the other night, a friend called me in a panic, thinking that his dog was dead.  He has a purebred German Shepard, and the dog had finished eating and then soon after, he said his dog went down like a brick.  I told him to call the emergency vet and get there ASAP.

After tests and worry and shock, come to find out, his dog was suffering from Bloat.

I briefly mentioned this disease on a post I did back in November, and now that it has come up again, I wanted to go over it more in depth as it can be a scary situation if not treated immediately.

Bloat is also known as Gastric Dilation-Volvulus, (when too much gas or foam builds up in a dog’s stomach) which causes problems when the stomach can twist 90 or 360 degrees.  This creates a “seal” so that the rest of the digestive system is cut off, where the dog cannot get expel the gas or foam, making the stomach enlarge.  Kind of think of it as a balloon stuck in a small space and it keeps on inflating.  That is the pain that the dog goes through when they are unable to purge what is making their stomach essentially expand.

There isn’t that much that is known in preventing Bloat from happening, other than recognizing the possible signs and being educated as to what Bloat actually is and acting fast when the symptoms appear.

While not much is known in the cause, some factors can be when a dog gulps their water, or gulps their food down too fast.  Getting slow feeding bowls can help, feeding them good, healthy food, and using a good water fountain type dish can help.  Larger breed dogs are more at risk than smaller dogs of developing this.

Major symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Stomach distended
  • Nausea and attempting to vomit without being able to
  • Showing severe discomfort
  • Collapsing
  • Excessive drooling

Please read on to find out more about bloat.  Keep watch on your dog when they are eating and drinking and make sure they are not gulping too much air.  If your dog collapses or shows any of the symptoms above, please call your vet or the emergency vet (keep the number on the refrigerator and programmed into your phone).  Time is of the essence in treating bloat.

 

Interesting Facts For Dog Lovers

Dogs are very interesting animals and play such an integral part of society today.  Many years ago, dogs were not tolerated well and were often thought of to be dumb animals without any ability to think.

In fact, their life experiences do shape how their brain operates and thinks.  When thinking, their brain works on 80% instinct and 20% by what they have learned in their lifetime.  Their world is shaped and their actions can sometimes be compared with the fight or flight idea.

As well, in the first 21 days of life, dogs have no mental capacity and can only respond to sleep, food and warmth.

Along the same lines, it is not best to use a dog’s intelligence as an indicator of how well they will learn when you are training them.  Some dogs that are very intelligent, while they may be the type of dog that is supposedly easy to train (such as Labradors), their own personality and if the dog is strong-willed, they will not be an easily trainable dog.  Trainers will have to key into the fact that dogs are sociable animals and crave their owners attention and will do many things to get it.  Time and patience are necessary, even more so, with dogs of this sort.

Dogs are pack animals, therefore since they are not with their own kind, if you only have one dog, you become a part of their pack.  Many times dogs need to know their place in your world and that they are part of a new “pack” (their human family).  Many dogs need reassurance of this and need to feel like they are part of the family pack.  This can be achieved by training them, having them “work” (learning tricks) and showing them the love and attention they need.

This article explains more interesting facts about dogs and gives anecdotes and ideas behind each fact.

The Dog Suited For Cat People?

If you have always had a cat in your life and have been wanting a dog, but aren’t sure which dog you want, or which one will suit you, there is a dog that seems to be very cat-like.

The Tibetan Spaniel has been thought of to be a great dog for someone who is used to cats and their personalities.  They are similar in size/weight (usually between 9-15 lbs), they are also lovely lap dogs and most love to go on high perches.

These dogs should not be aggressive at all, if they are, that is usually learned behavior from bad upbringing or from abuse.  They will defend themselves against other animals and can be pretty impressive standing up for themselves against larger breed dogs.

Since this breed of dog is small, they are well suited for smaller living quarters.  If you really want a dog and live in an apartment, this dog will do better in an apartment than say, a Great Dane dog.

This dog is very intelligent and bonds with their humans.  They can pick up on and react to your moods and emotions.

Of course, this does not mean that every dog of this breed is going to be this way.  Make sure to do your research before deciding to adopt this dog.  Make sure you can commit 12-15 years of your life to be a pet parent to this dog as that is their usual life span.

For more information about adopting this beautiful dog, here is a link to the Tibetan Spaniel Club Of America.

 

Weekly Trick – Teaching A Cat To Do Tricks

Teaching a cat to do tricks can be such a daunting task.  Knowing what your cat will respond to and how far to push them are probably the top priorities in getting your cat to perform the tricks you want them to do.

Another important aspect is to get your cat interested in what you are doing.  Let me back up a bit here and start over.  If you want to teach your cat how to fetch, start to play with a ball (now start playing with a ball the size your cat will be comfortable with, like this, not a huge ball that your dog or a human would play with).

Keep playing with it each time your cat is in the same room with you, grab their interest.  If they come over to play, give them a treat of their liking (some cats really enjoy a good petting, some like treats, whatever will work).  Praise them and continue.

After some time, push the ball towards the cat and let them play, if they do, then reward them.  Try to grab the ball back and start to push it back to them again, then trace your finger on the floor so that they will come back to you with the ball in their mouth.  This will take time.  Also this may not work with your cat, it all depends on what your cat responds to.  Most important is that cats can sense frustration and anger, so if you start to get frustrated that they are not responding to what you want, do not let it show in your voice or trick learning time will be over.

Keep trying, keep rewarding, and keep playing.  Any kind of interaction will help. I know I have done posts similar to this one, but I wanted to share the process again as it can be difficult to teach a cat to do tricks.

Here is a video from a cat behavior specialist that may help explain how to teach your cat to do tricks better than I can.

Recipe Friday – Kitty-Kat Kisses

You are sure to receive some great kitty kat kisses (or headbutts) from feeding these wonderful treats to your fur baby.

Ingredients:

  • One can of your cat’s favorite cat food.
  • Catnip (how much you use all depends on how much you want to use.  I use a few pinches, you can use more or less).
  • One Ziploc bag, with the corner cut (you will be using it like a piping bag, like frosting, so cut the size of hole you want in the corner of the bag).

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Grease a cookie sheet (I use Olive Oil as it is good for cats, rather than other kinds of household cooking oils).
  3. Take the cat food and Catnip and put them into a blender and blend until it is the consistency of frosting.  If you do not have a blender, use a medium mixing bowl and use a hand mixer and if you do not have that, use a medium mixing bowl and a spoon and mix until it is like frosting.
  4. Take the Ziploc bag  and place the mixture into the Ziploc bag (wait until you have all the mixture in the bag, THEN cut a hole into the corner of the bag).
  5. Now, on the greased cookie sheet, squeeze or pipe out little “kisses” (like Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses) onto the sheet.
  6. Depending on the size of the kisses, bake them for 15 minutes, for small kisses.  They shouldn’t be too hard to the touch when checking them after baking.  You may increase time until it suits you and for the size of the kisses you make.
  7. Let cool and serve in moderation to your cat (I give Isis one a day when I make them).
  8. Use a plastic container and place them in the container with lid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Cats and Pancreatitis

The pancreas is an organ in the body that helps to metabolize sugar and regulate insulin.  Pancreatitis basically means neither of these are able to happen because the pancreas has become inflamed.  This can be incredibly painful and it can be a lethal disease if it is not treated in a timely manner.

There are many health issues that can contribute to pancreatitis occurring in your cat.  If your cat has taken antibiotics, that can be an issue.  Also, anti-cancer drugs and ingestion of insecticides can make things worse.

Inflammatory bowel disease, abdominal surgery, and abnormally high calcium in the blood play a part in this disease.

Of course, sometimes genetics (Siamese cats) are more susceptible to getting this disease.

Here are some symptoms that your cat may exhibit if they have this disease.  This is just a short list and there can be many other symptoms present:

  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Not as common a symptom, but some cats who get this disease will vomit frequently.
  • Abdominal pain (if you try to pick up your cat, they may growl and hiss as the pain can be excruciating.  Remember, cats are prideful animals and hate to show when they are ill, so if this is something that they do, you should see your vet).
  • Jaundice
  • Increased heart rate/abnormal heart beat
  • If your cat has an advanced case, they can develop sepsis (a total body infection).

Getting your cat to the vet immediately is the best way to fight this disease.  They will perform a blood count and urinalysis to determine if this is what your cat is suffering from.

To treat your cat, the vet will rehydrate, give pain relief, keep watch on nutrition and prevent anything worse happening.

If your cat is vomiting profusely, medications may be given to stop this, and food will probably be withheld for 24 hours so that the pancreas has time to not have to metabolize anything and relax.

To find out more, usual prognosis, and further long term treatment, this article will explain it all.

Licking Around The Tail

For the longest time, I used to think the only reason a cat (or dog) would lick around or underneath their tail was because they had fleas.  Well apparently I was very wrong.

There are several reasons this can occur.  If you have a female cat or dog, this could mean that she has a uterine infection, or she could have a bout of vaginitis.  Getting your cat or dog to the vet quickly so that they can get relief from the itching and pain is essential.  As well, if cats are not spayed, they will lick themselves when they are in heat or when they are getting ready to give birth.

Of course, if your cat or dog does lick or bite around their tail, it can be a flea problem and getting flea medication from your vet is best.  This will help kill the fleas and give your pets the relief and less stress from having to constantly scratch, lick or bite what is attacking them.

Another issue could be Anal Gland Disease.  This is something that affects many cats and dogs.  Usually the glands will need to be expressed.  I would suggest going to the vet and having them show you how to express the glands, and if it is not a severe case, they may be able to tell you that you can do it at home.

If your cat or dog is licking around the tail, but shows no signs of distress, nor do they do it obsessively, then it could just be that your pet is performing regular grooming rituals.

It is a fine line as to when licking around the tail becomes an issue.  Just observe your pet and trust your instincts.  Also, you can read this article for more information.  On the left hand side of the page is a block called “FAQ Article Library”, where you can look up ailments and check out what your pet may have and whether you need to visit the vet.  On the safe side, it would be good to see your vet if you are worried about anything your pet may be suffering from.