Sunday, 28 August 2011

Preventing Cat Hairballs (Trichobezoars)

No one likes to vomit and the same goes for your cat. Little surprises that they sometimes through up and leave for you on your light coloured carpet, of course are a chore to clean up. Cats are known for grooming themselves a lot. It's roughly estimated that a cat will spend up to a third of its waking life washing itself. When your cat washes herself miniature hooks pull the loose hair out and go in to the digestive system. The occasional hairball is usually nothing to worry about it's when it becomes more frequent that you should worry.

Nature has designed a carnivores stomach to digest fur and hair. Any wildlife programme you watch will show meat eaters stripping fur and flesh and consuming it all together. The issue is the breeding of long haired animals, Persians, Birmans, Maine Coon and other medium to long haired cats. This doesn't mean that a short haired cat won't have problems as well. When a cat grooms, the hair sits in the gut and usually passes through. However if there is a problem in the stomach the hair will collect, become thicker and come back up the wrong way! As a kitten you probably never really saw any hairballs from your pet, however as your cat grows so does their ability to groom themselves better.

Frequent brushing with a good quality cat brush should be a daily procedure for any responsible animal owner. If you're going to have a long haired cat as a pet then make sure you are taking the time out to groom them correctly. Your pet shop should have a mixture of good, quality cat brushes and combs. Brushing alone isn't enough, combing is necessary too. A brush tends to collect fur from the top where as a long, wide toothed comb will get through thick, long hair and remove dead hair from the root. The thickness is just as much a problem as the length. Also the issue of flea treatment will be easier to deal with if you can lessen the amount of dead fur that your pet has to carry around.

Hydrating your pet is a must for helping with hairball problems. Cats are notorious for liking to drink in different places. So having fresh water readily available in all your cat's favourite places, as well as at the feeding area, will get your cat used to drinking more. This will start to lubricate the digestive system and help to flush the hair through rather than clumping in the stomach. It's a well known fact that cats love to drink from running water. Have you ever seen them sit in the bath catching the dripping tap water? If you have a difficult cat then you're more likely to entice them into drinking by purchasing a fountain type water bowl. Certain brands are now selling hairball control food. Where this is good in terms of high fibre content it can cause problems if your cat doesn't drink enough water.

Always check with your vet first and ask for their opinion on dietary changes and supplements.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Microchipping Your Pet

With the frightening reality of pet theft on the rise and animals getting lost, is microchipping your pet the best option? You could be out in the park, distracted for a moment and your dog is gone. What if your pet escaped out the back garden and got lost? What if your dog collar became loose? These and many other situations are faced by pet owners every day. If stray animals are rescued but aren't reclaimed, then sadly they are euthanized. Microchipping is a quick and painless procedure, no anaesthetic is required and it lasts up to 75 years. The microchip is no bigger than a grain of rice and is usually injected between the shoulder blades very close to the surface. The microchip contains a memory circuit which retains your pets individual identification number, which is then registered. A pet microchip has radio frequency identification, (RFID) so when the animal is scanned the chip then becomes active supplying the data about the individual pet. This type of chip is called a 'passive RFID tag' because it lies dormant until scanned. So there is no battery or internal power source inside your pet.

Unlike a tag or collar, once a chip has been implanted it can't be dislodged. Also if your pet is stolen a chip can help with disputes as to who is the real owner. In the U.K the government is considering if it's worth introducing compulsory microchipping. Battersea Dogs and Cats home, is in principle, supporting the idea as they feel it will encourage responsibility in animal owners and help to reunite owners and pets. In 2010 they took in just over 4000 stray dogs and only 32% were microchipped. How would you get your pet back if they weren't chipped? Collars and tags come off where as a microchipped pet is traceable for life.

There is also the benefit of keeping bad breeders in line if microchipping becomes compulsory. If people are held to account for the standard of animal they produce then they will hopefully be more responsible. The financial strain on animal shelters would also be lessened, as stray pets would be immediately identified and owners notified. The cost of having to house, feed and maybe euthanize an animal is far more expensive than having the quick simple procedure of chipping done.

If you are a cat owner then there is also the plus side of a microchip cat flap. We all know about the naughty neighbourhood cats that sneak in when you're not looking. They'll help themselves to your pets food, maybe have a sneaky catnap on your new, expensive bed quilt and perhaps use your cats cat tray for themselves. There is also the added treat of them all spraying their messages around your house attracting other cats as well. A lot of the microchip cat flaps work by setting themselves to only allow your cat in as it will automatically pick up the first microchipped pet through. So make sure when setting it, that your cat is the first to go through.

Whatever your opinion on microchipping is, something has to change. Rescue centres are sadly sometimes the last place a lost pet will call home.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Five Ways to Deal With the Loss of a Pet

Sadly we can't all live forever and there may come a time in our life when our beloved faithful pet leaves us behind, as much as it can be devastating and life changing we must try to move on and cope with the sad loss.

Here are some ways to help you in coping with the loss of a pet.

1) Remember the Good Times

Do not focus on the negative factors but instead focus on the positives, the good times that you had with your pet. Think about the way your pet used to greet you when you arrived home, the games you played, the trips or days out when your pet came with you and any funny habits that your pet had. Cherish the memories and be grateful for every day that you spent with your pet. Feel grateful that you were lucky to be the proud owner of your pet and also that you cared for your pet as much as you could.

2) Allow the Natural Grieving Process

Do not try to rush the grieving process for the loss of your pet, as the process must be natural and it is all part of the course to express your true feelings. This much loved pet was part of your family and whom you had a strong bond with, who was there with you everyday, who you shared your life with and who was part of so many of your memories, so feeling extreme pain and sadness is completely normal in this situation.

3) Keep the Memory Alive

Print a special photo out of your pet and frame it, then display it on your mantelpiece or somewhere you pass by often, so he or she is never far from you and if you are feeling lonely you can always look at the photo. Many places offer pet memorials such as a pet headstones and also pet cemeteries. You may also want to consider a pet cremation service. Another memorable thing to do would be to plant a tree or shrub in memory of your pet then you can look out into your garden at the tree or shrub and remember your beloved pet and every time the tree or shrub blooms you will feel a little closer to your pet.

4) Stay Healthy

The loss of a pet can be a very stressful time and can drain your energy levels, so it is important to continue regular meals to keep your strength up. Having plenty of sleep will help boost your energy and when you awake you will feel ready to take on another day, whatever it may bring. Walks will help too, get some fresh air and a change of scenery, you will feel much better for it.

5) Talk to Friends and Family

Talk to people about the way you are feeling, it will help to get things off your chest and clear your mind. Friends and family may have experienced a similar loss and they may be able to tell you the way they felt and what helped them cope with their sad loss. It may help to clarify things in your mind.

Losing a pet is a very difficult time and it is always hard to deal with and come to terms with but if you follow the above advice it may help you in coming to terms with the loss of your pet.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Fat Pets

We all worry about our own health and our families and this should also include our pets. Obesity in animals is just as much a problem as it is in the human world. There are illnesses that can cause weight problems but the main reason is like us, a lack of exercise and over indulgence. Of course we love to spoil and treat our pets, but we must remember that being disciplined is also a sign of love and affection, as our pets health is at risk if we over do it. If you continue to feed your pet excessive amounts, chances are you will lose your friend at a young age. Too much food and not enough exercise = A Fat Pet.

What Is Obesity?

Obesity is actually a disease, described as an overabundance of body fat that will be dangerous enough to impair health. Studies show that in humans problems occur when body fat is 20 - 25 per cent above normal body weight. In animals it is considered to be along the same guidelines. Diabetes, arthritis, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and many other health issues can all affect your pet because they're over weight.

How to Control Your Pets Weight?

Always buy a good quality pet food as cheap versions will be higher in salt and sugar. Look for established brands that offer lower calories, but the same nutrients as their regular food. A lot of companies now sell indoor pet food because of this problem. Stick to the exact feeding instructions on the packet. Just because your pet may clean their bowl it doesn't mean they're still hungry. Remember a lot of animals eyes are bigger than their stomachs! If food is left out for them they will graze all day and definitely start to gain weight. Set exact feeding times and stick to them and don't let your pet snack between meals. Try not to give into them by giving titbits from leftover food, you may think your being too strict but it's in their best interest to maintain an established feeding pattern.


Another problem is giving house bound animals enough exercise. The most exercise some animals get is walking to their food bowl. Obviously dogs who are walked everyday and get to play in the park will keep healthier than indoor pets. So you must set times and games up for your pet if for example they are an indoor cat. Having cat stands or toys you can throw for them to chase, will get them into the idea of exercise.Understanding your cats natural instinct is to pounce and chase after it's prey, should give you an idea of which pet toys will be most appropriate. For dogs, throwing balls in the park is a great form of exercise. Please don't throw sticks as so many vets see injuries caused by sticks getting stuck in dogs mouths and throats. Don't forget most pet dogs have been bred to perform daily tasks alongside humans - sheep herders, sleigh pullers, hunters. So they naturally need to expel that energy every day and strengthen their muscles and limbs.

So to sum up - Don't be a lazy owner, take the time each day, your pets health is at risk.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Docking Dog’s Tails. Why Do We Still Do It?

Are there any medical reasons for people having their dog’s tails amputated?
Or is it purely for cosmetic reasons.
Still, in this day and age this barbaric procedure goes on.

Originally, back in Georgian times, the idea for docking a dog’s tail was to avoid diseases such as rabies. It was also meant to help strengthen the back, help with hygiene and to prevent damage to the tail when fighting and working.
Apart from working dogs such as farming, police dogs, armed forces or search and rescue dogs, these excuses aren’t really valid anymore.
The main reason this mutilation continues is purely for cosmetic show.
Scotland completely banned it in April 2007. England and Wales also banned it in 2007, the exception being working dogs or if there is a genuine medical problem.
The tail of a working dog can only now be docked by a vet before a puppy is 5 days old. The vet then has to have proof that this is a legitimate case for docking. Once the surgery is completed the puppy has to be microchipped either straight away or when the vet feels it’s appropriate.
It is illegal for the owner to give false information on the status of the working dog. There is supposed to be a certificate of exemption given to the owner that will be with the dog for its entire lifespan.
If someone is found guilty of unlawful docking they can face a fine of up to £20,000, 51 weeks in prison or both.

Of course there are possible problems such as extensive bleeding, infections and death.
Wouldn’t you be worried about these possible complications if you were about to have a limb amputated?
A dog’s tail is so important for them to communicate with other dogs as well as humans. Have you seen a dog with a docked tail wag it? It looks sad and pathetic!
There are studies that have shown that a dog can become more aggressive with a docked tail and other dogs will respond cautiously or become antagonised when coming face to face.
The reason this happens is that in dog language a wagging tail means play. Where as a tail that is still and upright is a sign to stay away or approach carefully.
So in a dog’s social world they may be seen by other dog’s as volatile, when in actual fact they just can’t show their natural emotion with their tail.
Balancing is also another tail function for a dog and they also use them for direction when running and swimming.
If a dog has a tail there’s a reason for it!

Luckily decency and humanity is becoming ever present with vets and there are many veterinarian clinics that refuse to carry out this cruel, brutal and unnecessary amputation.
However, there are now a lot of cases of breeders doing it themselves. This is a frightening reality.
Not only is the obvious lack of surgical training a massive problem but also the unhygienic and unsterilized instruments and surroundings.
Hopefully as time goes on the human race will stop interfering with how they want animals to look and will love them just as nature intended.

Cropping Dog's Ears. Why Do We Still Do It?

There has been no proof at all that there is any medical benefit in ear cropping dogs (Otoplasty). Yet still it goes on. The most common, pathetic argument for it is that it keeps the ear canal vented, therefore reducing the risk of ear infections and is easier to clean. Well, if you are a responsible pet owner cleaning and grooming your animal should be a daily ritual you do anyway.

The breeds of dog that are commonly subjected to this barbaric procedure are American Pit Bull Terriers, Min-Pins, Boxers, Great Danes, Schnauzers, Bouviers and Dobermans. Between the young age of 6-12 weeks is usually when ear docking is carried out. It has to be done under full anaesthetic, which is a danger to all young animals.

About two thirds of the ear skin (pinna) is cut away including many nerve endings. The ears are then stitched up, splinted and bandaged. Also there is the high risk of blood loss and infections occurring, as a puppy's immune system isn't fully developed at this stage, so illness is a big factor. The skin around the ears becomes extremely sensitive and the redressing and splinting of the ears doesn't help either. Naturally the pup will want to scratch and pull at the plasters as it is extremely uncomfortable and gets very itchy. This will obviously lead to possible infections and the healing process can take months. Even after surgery and recovery time there is no guarantee that the dogs ears will stand up. They're not supposed to! It is mainly done for cosmetic reasons, for breeders who exhibit their dogs at shows. Many show dogs have their ears cropped because it has been part of their breed standard for years. Many people who have these breeds as pets also want the 'traditional' look of cropped ears.

The Kennel Club in the UK has banned the exhibition of dogs with cropped ears or docked tails in dog shows as of 2007. However The American Kennel Club has fought such laws. In statements against them, the AKC says this "as prescribed in certain breed standards, (they) are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health and preventing injuries," and that "any inference that these procedures are cosmetic and unnecessary is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs."

What a load of nonsense!

There is some hope though as the AVMA (Association of Veterinary Medicine) in 2003 said that it was against ear cropping as well as tail docking. The AVMA's position on ear cropping and tail docking, adopted on July 9, 1999, states: "Ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic reasons are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anaesthesia, blood loss, and infection. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before agreeing to perform these surgeries."

Ear cropping isn't being taught now in most veterinary colleges, which definitely says something. Hopefully as the new generation of vets graduate and begin to practise, they will be as disgusted as the majority population is with this barbaric procedure and in time it will die out.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Puppy Training Tips

Now that you have chosen your puppy and have a delightful new fluffy bundle of joy in your household, you need to give some thought to training your puppy so that he grows into a well behaved dog that is a pleasure to have around.

Start with the basics of potty training your puppy, so that he will quickly learn what is required and "accidents" will be prevented. Remembering that puppies need to go to the bathroom frequently, you will need to either physically take him outside to do his business, or allow him free access to the outdoors once he gets the hang of things.

Next you will need to lead train your puppy. You need to be able to take your dog out of your property on a lead from time to time. Whether this is for daily walks, or for trips to the vet, at some point, leash control will become a necessity, and it is better that your puppy learns how to walk properly on a lead early on in life.

Puppy obedience training is also recommended. Basic commands like sit, stay, fetch will soon be mastered with proper training, and will not only make your dog an obedient, pleasurable pet to have around, but this training will also strengthen your bond with your pet as he learns to respect you as the leader.

You can take local puppy training or dog obedience classes to train your pet in a group setting, or if time is an issue to you, or there is no training classes offered nearby, then an online course or ebook detailing training techniques may be a more practical and convenient solution for you and your pup. Check out the "Train Any Pet" ebook guide that offers practical training tips using pet psychology and animal sociology to help us understand how our pets think and incorporate this knowledge in our training methods. As the title suggests, this book will enable you to train any pet, not just your puppy, but your adult dog, cat, or pet bird too.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Choosing a Puppy

Dogs are instinctively pack animals, but through the centuries they have become domesticated and introduced to family life. They regard their human family as their pack, and provide the same loyalty and devotion as they would to members of their own kin, earning them the reputation as man's best friend.
When choosing a puppy, proper thought should be given to its suitability to your household, in order to prevent untold heartache for both you and your dog in the long run. Firstly, the family needs to consider whether they are prepared to make the sacrifices needed to accommodate the new family member. It is not fair to get a new addition to the family if there is no-one at home all day, resulting in it doing solitary confinement. If you desperately want a furry friend under these circumstances, rather get two, who can be partners in crime whilst you're out earning their keep! You must, however, be prepared to exercise and shower them with attention when you get home.

You will need to consider the expenses of keeping a dog, which include feeding, licensing, vaccinations and vet bills. If you choose a breed with a long coat, you will also need to budget for regular trips to the dog parlour to keep him well groomed and prevent the coat from becoming a matted mess.

When there are young children in the family, it is important that you choose a puppy very carefully, perhaps postponing the adoption until your young ones are slightly older. It is a fallacy to think a tiny pup is suitable for a tiny tot! Young children tend to manhandle fragile puppies, which can be seriously hurt. Likewise, young pups have needle sharp teeth, which can result in tears all round as they playfully savage your tender little darlings. Teething pups will also chew on anything that appeals, and this will usually include your finest leather shoes, or newly upholstered lounge-suite!! You have been warned, so be prepared. 

Is a bitch or dog a better choice for the family? A bitch will come in heat (which lasts 3 weeks) every six months. During this time she will attract the attention of every hot-blooded male dog in the neighbourhood, and will need to be kept securely confined. There are commercial products on the market, such as bitch sprays, which can be sprayed on the bitch to reduce her sex appeal to would-be suitors. Bitches are more even-tempered and placid than their male counterparts, and are less inclined to wander in search of a mate. Some people are attracted to the high spirited energy of dogs, which gives them a unique character, not often found in the bitch. Both dogs and bitches can be sterilised, and whatever sex you choose, unless you plan on breeding with your pet, it is advisable to take precautions against bringing unwanted litters into this world.

When choosing a puppy, you will also need to take into consideration the size of the breed. Do you want a big or small dog? Big dogs need space, exercise, and proper training, never forgetting that a BIG dog has a BIG appetite! A large uncontrollable mutt is no pleasure to have around, so be fair to your big buddy and train him to your ways from early days.

There are many avenues where you may find the friend of your dreams. If you are after a particular breed and prefer a pedigreed dog, it is best to contact a reputable breeder. If you are not that concerned about breeding and simply want a pet that you can love and cherish, then look at reputable pet shops, or in the classified section of your daily newspaper. A heart-warming option is to provide a home for Orphan Annie from your local animal shelter - this may save her life. Animal Welfare organisations do not usually give dogs away free to a good home, but charge what seems to be quite high prices for unwanted dogs. This is to deter people from taking animals they may tire of rapidly, and also covers the cost of vaccinations and sterilisation which is carried out on all animals as a matter of routine.

When choosing a puppy look for one that is lively, with bright eager eyes. It should not have a bloated stomach (a sign of worms), or be flea infested, although a deworming treatment and good bath should usually cure these two ills. A good rule of thumb when choosing an individual from a litter is to separate all the potentials (e.g. male or female, black or white, depending on your preference), put these down on the ground, turn your back and walk away, then turn around and call out to them. If you can resist the urge to take home the pack, the first one at your feet should have the honour of being your newly elected friend for life.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Cage Accessories for Pet Rats

Once you have acquired your pet rat, and purchased a suitable rat cage, you may wish to outfit his new home with a few accessories to make life more stimulating and comfortable for your pet. The following points should be considered when fitting out a cage for your pet rat.

Take care when choosing a pet litter for the base of your rat's cage. Wood shavings often contain volatile oils that can be harmful to rats. Similarly, while clay cat litter is very effective at absorbing urine and reducing odours, it contains a large amount of dust, which can cause health problems in pet rats. The best option is corn or paper based litters, or shredded paper, which is a good way to recycle your used paper and put it to good use.

Food/Water Dispensers
As rats are quite active, they tend to tip water and food dishes over with their enthusiasm. To prevent food from being wasted, and your pet's cage getting damp and soiled, water bottles and heavy bottomed food bowls are recommended. Small stainless steel dog bogs work well for food. When choosing a water bottle, look for a large size bottle as rats tend to drink quite a lot. Also, avoid bottles with plastic clips as your rat will quickly chew and destroy these. Rather opt for water bottles with metal or wire fasteners that are rat proof.

Super Pets International Ferret Play Tunnel
Pet rats love a cosy sleeping nest to curl up in. Rats love being elevated, so hammocks provide the ideal loft style sleeping area. Nests suitable for rats come in a variety of styles from open slung hammocks to pop-up tents, snuggle pouches and snuggle tunnels that are all effective in providing a comfy sleeping area for your rat. Fleece material provides a soft, warm, and comfortable nest that is easy to wash, and dries quickly. 

Savic Relax Standard Green Ferrets Hammock Rats Bed
Levels, Ramps, Ladders & Lofts
Rats are very inquisitive and love exploring. Try to make their cage interesting by providing multiple levels, connected with ramps, ropes or ladders that they can climb up and down to give them plenty of exercise and keep them busy. If your rat's cage is a single level cage, this can be achieved with wire cut to size and attached to the cage bars with cable ties. Or you can hang a piece of material across the cage using pegs to fix to the cage bars. Have a look at bird ladders made from wood or rope as these will be enjoyed by your rats too, and they offer a great way to add a new dimension to your rat's cage.

Savic Giant Rat and Ferret Tube
There are a number of stimulating toys available that will provide your rat with hours of entertainment. Treat balls are a good way to make your rat work for his food and keep him busy. Other toys that will keep your pet stimulated and prevent boredom include wooden see-saws, exercise wheels, chew tubes, tunnels, ladders and climbing walls. When purchasing toys such as tunnels and exercise wheels, choose a size suitable for rats, ferrets, guinea pigs or rabbits rather than for hamsters or mice, even if you have a small baby rat, as it will soon outgrow these. 

To prevent your ratty from getting bored while confined to his cage, change cage accessories often to keep your rat occupied, providing mental stimulation and exercise.