Saturday, 31 December 2011

Deworming Your Dog

At some point or another, your dog will have a worm problem. Whether it’s as a puppy (which is most common) or as an adult dog, immediate treatment is vital to stop further infestation and the development of other illnesses.
The usual intestinal parasite suspects that we know are tape worm, round worm, hook worm and whip worm. Heartworms are found in the heart's blood vessels going to the lungs. Blood tests will be required to detect heartworms. Tape worms and round worms can be visually diagnosed, the others can only be determined through faecal examination. It is imperative to do regular de-worming of all types dogs, including puppies and pregnant females. This will definitely reduce infestation of your pet and prevent infection to humans.
Round worm symptoms include, vomiting, coughing, diarrhoea, bowel obstruction, pneumonia, a dull coat, and a swollen stomach. Severe cases can be fatal. Round worms are usually 3 – 6 inches long and they can infect dogs by ingestion, across the placenta, or can be transferred to puppies through the mother's milk.

Worms can be passed from animal to human. Children are the most vulnerable, as the eggs can be picked up from stroking their pet and then using dirty hands to eat, or even more commonly picking up eggs from a sandpit or dirt outside. Once in a child's system worms can cause a variety of health problems, they can reside behind the retina which can cause damage to the eyesight. This disease is called Toxocariasis, and has been known in this day and age to still cause partial blindness in up to 100 children each year.
At 2 weeks of age puppies should be dewormed and then again at 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks. It is vital then to continue deworming at 4 months, 5 months and then at 6 months old. This regular deworming pattern kills all worms and their eggs, whether contracted as a foetus, through infected mother’s milk, or by consuming the eggs. At 6 months of age, you will want to start a heartworm medication treatment once per month. Another important point is to deworm the mother at the same time as the puppies. The cycle won’t be broken if one of them has been treated at a different time.
Infestation on a small scale will not be a big threat to your dogs health as although they have varied levels of immunity most have an inbuilt resistance to worms. An abundance of worms however would impair the health of your dog dramatically. The vitamins and nutrients needed by your pet will be used up by the worms. The tissues and the red blood cells will be destroyed which could lead to anaemia.

For adult dogs worming treatments may be more flexible. Some people prefer to keep their pets on a quarterly programme others like to only treat them when they have an infestation.  I would strongly advise speaking to your vet about whether or not continual flea and deworming treatments throughout your pets life is necessary. If you have more than one dog it will be probably be a more regular requirement, but again check all medication needs with your vet. It’s not worth being wrong for either your dog or you and your family.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

10 Cat Commandments

NO. 1. Thou shall jump onto the keyboard when thy human is on the modem
NO. 2. Thou shall pull the phone cord out of the back of the modem
NO. 3. Thou shall sit in front of the television or monitor as if thou are transparent.
NO. 4. Thou shall lie down with thy butt in thy human's face.
NO. 5. Thou shall reset thy human's alarm clock by walking on it.
NO. 6. Thou shall leap from great heights onto thy human's genital region.
NO. 7. Thou shall jump onto thy sleeping human's bladder at 4a.m.
NO. 8. Thou shall remember that thou are a carnivore and that houseplants are not      meat, a nibble is always fine though.
NO. 9. Thou shall remorse when being scolded. NEVER!!!!!!!
NO. 10. Thou shall realise that the house is a prison from which to escape at any and every opportunity

Monday, 19 December 2011

If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog first make sure you can answer all the below points. Having a cat is a completely different kind of commitment to becoming a dog owner. On average a dog can live up to 12 years plus.
First of all why do you want a dog?
 Is it for company, for your child, protection or perhaps to breed from? Be honest as to the real reason as it will help you to answer the next set of questions.

Can You Afford a dog?
Sit down and list everything you will need to provide for your new pet on a daily and weekly basis. Be realistic about the cost of dog food. If you’re going to buy a large dog obviously you will be spending more on food. Also the better quality food will be more expensive, but cost effective as your pets health will be better for it in the long run.
Think about vet bills and whether you can afford those trips to the vet that you didn’t plan for. If you’re starting with a puppy then you will have all of the start up fees to contend with. Neutering, worming and vaccinations all come with follow up consultations, which are not cheap. Then you have the other accidents and illnesses you didn’t see coming. Who knows when any of us will become sick? Then think about how much pet supplies cost. From dog bowls, leads and collars to their favourite toys and grooming equipment.
Is Your Home Big Enough?
If you are living in a small one bedroom flat with no outside space then obviously a Great Dane will be out of the question.  If you have a house with a garden then think about how secure is the garden? Will you need to spend a lot of money on fencing and gates? Then think about where your local parks are and if you will have the time and energy to daily walk your dog.
Your Time.
Walking, grooming and play time are all time consuming activities. A dog will also suffer from separation anxiety if they are left alone for too long, so think about whether someone will be around during the day. Will your dog get a proper walk? Will they receive enough attention and interaction with you? Don’t be cruel be honest. If you know that you’ll be working long hours, travel a lot or have a hectic social life then a dog is not the pet for you. Get a fish.
Do Your Homework
Research the type of dog you want to have. Find out about their character and temperament, their feeding habits etc. Find out exactly what you’ll be bringing home.  For instance don’t get a small snappy type of dog when you have young children or a German Shepherd when you can’t give it adequate, daily, exercise.
Dog Training
This is a particularly important question to think about, especially if you’re bringing home a puppy. Dog training and socialisation takes plenty of time and patience. There is no way you can leave a puppy alone for long amounts of time. Will you be able to commit to a proper programme of training? You may need to invest in puppy training classes as well, so bear that in mind before you bring a puppy home.
All of these questions have to be thought about and answered truthfully. The rewards of owning a dog are that you will receive LOVE, LOVE, and LOVE. However you must be able to return that love and care 100% of the time as that’s what they’ll need.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dog Paw Care in the Winter

With the weather getting colder it is advisable to think about protecting and caring for your dogs paws. Their pads are designed to withstand running and walking on different surfaces, but just as we would wear sandals on a hot beach or shoes in the snow their paw pads need looking after as well.
With the ice and snow possibly coming, the streets will be treated with grit and salt which can cause dry cracked skin and other irritations. Infections can also occur if the skin splits and is then walked on. Not only that but naturally a dog will lick and gnaw at the affected area, which of course means they will then ingest grit, salt and whatever else is on the streets, possibly causing vomiting and diarrhoea. Dryness is a big problem with dog pads. Naturally in winter we all need a bit more warmth, whether it’s central heating or a cosy log fire is on these other factors can add to drying your dog’s paw pads and add to the skin being irritated.
So start with trim the hair between their toes, this way they will have less chance of keeping salt crystals and wet mud particles in their pads throughout the day. Also long hair can cause your dog to have less grip on slippery surfaces.
Keep their nails trimmed as well. If they become too long they won’t give your dog any grip which will force your dog to walk on his back feet. This added pressure on the back paws can make his toes spread which in turn allows more snow, grit etc to gather in between their toes creating balls of ice and dirt.
Foreign objects can become stuck in your dog’s pads. Regularly check in between toes for thorns, small stones, bits of broken glass and other debris. This is something that should be done all year round.
Keep a towel and a bowl of warm water next to the front door for immediate paw rinsing and drying after walks.
There are many paw balm treatments on the market that should be applied weekly or as often as needed in harsh conditions. I would suggest doing it all year round as part of their grooming routine anyway. The balm should form a dense, barrier wax that creates a breathable bond with your dog's paws. There are some that have been developed for use with sledding dog’s, it provides strong protection even in the most hostile conditions. Some are made from a blend of several food-grade waxes, then refined. Obviously check all ingredients in anything that you buy for your dog as they have a habit of licking their paws.
You can use petroleum jelly but never use human skin lotions.
Massage their paws and pads to stimulate blood flow and relax their muscles and tendons. If you do it right they’ll enjoy it just as much as you do when being massaged or manicured. Begin by rubbing between their pads and then rub between each toe working your way up their shins and legs.
Alternatively you could try and get your dog to wear dog boots. There are many varieties on the market that all offer great protection for your pet’s paws. However, personally through trial and error, I’ve found that the rubber style boots, that allow your dog to feel and grip the ground below, are the easiest ones for them to get used to.
If in doubt, always check with a vet for the best treatments for your dog.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Can You Walk Your Cat On A Lead?

As a cat owner I hate to be parted with my beloved tiger and ginger boy. I can’t wait to get home to see them at the end of the day. I even get excited when I have a night out cancelled so that I can cosy up with them indoors. My little feline angels are a big part of my family. They’re there when I need a furry cuddle. They pick up my moods and comfort me whether I want it or not. Sleep on my head at night and sit on my stomach at 4 am for no apparent reason. I love all of their kitty traits, so why not have them join me in everyday life as I do with my dogs?
Well to start with I would have needed to begin their lead training from kitten hood. There’s no way they could cope with being out as adult cats now. It would cause them serious stress and possibly lead them to have panic attacks. Obviously as a kitten they don’t have any preconceived ideas of what they are or aren’t allowed to do, so this is the ideal time to try. Be prepared for being stopped every 5 minutes as it’s still a very unique thing to see on the streets these days.

Patience will be required and don’t forget that a cat and a dog have very different characteristics. A dog tends to be more loyal and will want to please their owners. Cats on the other hand, as we’re all aware, are their own bosses and have a wild streak in their DNA anyway. So don’t expect complete obedience all the time and be realistic as to where you will be able to walk your cat. I certainly wouldn’t be taking them shopping and expecting them to cope with being out on the streets with me for the day. However a trip in the car to visit friends or a trip to a small local park, aren’t out of the realms possibility.

Choose a light comfortable body harness, preferably not a collar as they will easily wriggle out of it. The lead that attaches to the harness must be light weight (not a dog lead) and have a very strong clip. I would suggest one that is approximately 5 feet long. Now that you’ve bought your items you’ll need to familiarise your cat with them. Start by leaving the harness next to their sleeping area for a few days. Encourage them to sniff it, play with it, anything to get them used to the smell and feel of it.

The next step is to get it on them. The best time to fasten the harness on is just before feeding. The chances are they will be more focused on dinner coming than what you’re doing. Put it on loosely, feed them and then see how long they will tolerate it. Distract them with a game to keep them occupied and then repeat the same procedure each day, slowly fastening it to comfortably fit your cats body. Hope fully you will find the harness stays on longer and longer each day.
Then you will need to start introducing the lead. Again leave the lead near your cat so they can get used to it and let them play with it if it helps. Now you’re ready for your first walk. Start indoors and be patient. Use encouraging words as you begin to lead your cat around the room. Just like a puppy learning leash training they will need to hear from you that they are doing well. Don’t yank the lead but keep it short so that they learn to stay close to you. Of course a cat outside on the lead will have many attractive things catching their eye. Birds, other cats, trees to climb, so getting them used to a small length on the lead is a good idea.
If you have a back garden start their outside walk there for about a week. Then if they seem comfortable being on a lead you can progress to a small trip outside. Don’t start off on a main busy road, remember this is a whole new world to them. Go somewhere calm and quiet for a small amount of time and build up over the weeks. Hopefully in time you will have a cat that can join you for walks on a lead.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Secretly Plotting World Domination Whilst Pretending To look Busy :D

Help Your Child Cope With The Death Of Their Pet.

Chances are your child’s first experience of death will be the loss of the family pet. How can you help them to deal with this and prepare for the departure of their beloved friend?
Firstly understand the bond that children have with animals.
Most likely this will be the first relationship where they undoubtedly gave and received unconditional love, outside of parents, sibling etc. This will be the friend who was there for them when they had a bad day at school, when they got sent to their room for bad behaviour and also there for the fun, happy times. So bear in mind this will be a massive wrench for them. Don’t underestimate the love your child would have received and felt. There will also be a level of commitment and responsibility that they will have developed, from grooming and feeding to walking and cuddle time. This will have created a huge bond and time slots in their daily life that will now be gone.

Secondly, when it comes to explaining pet death, stick to the truth. Don’t fluff it up or skirt around the facts. If your pet has an illness and is likely to be put down you will need to start preparing your child. A good way to know what they’re capable of understanding is to let their questions guide you. After the obvious statement from you telling them about what’s going to happen, they will likely have their own questions and that will be enough for them at the beginning. Don’t flood them with information let it gradually come out as the process goes on. If you do decide to euthanize your pet then you must tell your child. Let them know when it will happen and why. They will need to have time to say goodbye. They may not understand that your pets body is unable to carry on and explaining to them that this is the best option for the animal as they will no longer be in pain is a good start.

Adults struggle with the concept of death never mind trying to explain it to a child. No one can say what is best for your child you know them best. However it’s a good idea not to make it too complicated. Maybe start by asking them what their idea of death is. Children have wild imaginations so they may have formed a magical place in their mind that their friend has gone to. Encourage them to describe this place and what their pet is doing. Perhaps you could get them to draw it and keep it on their wall. Honesty is never a bad thing and regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs you can always say that you’re not 100% sure, if of course you’re not.
In my opinion it’s not a good idea to use the phrase “they’ve gone to sleep” or are being “put to sleep” as this could cause fear for them at night when trying to sleep. Saying “they’ve left us and are in a better place” can make your child angry and feel that their pet had somewhere they wanted to go without them. Keep it simple explain that death can be from an accident or illness and old age. Let them understand that just like humans, an animals body can wear out and weaken from sickness. Talk to them about grief and how it’s ok to be sad and miss their friend at times.
Lastly, don’t try and replace their pet straight away with another one, give it some time. They may feel disloyal if they like the new pet straight after the death of the other one. Talk to your child about the fun things they used to do together and encourage them to speak to you about their favourite memories. Let your child pick their favourite photo of them with their pet and have it framed and put in their bedroom. If they want to hold onto a toy or a collar, don’t disapprove it will help them to feel that they still have some physical contact. Make sure you don’t clear the house of all the pet items straight away, your child will need to feel that not everything has been taken away and that there’s some normal feeling of the pet still around the house. A simple memorial in your garden or at the park is a constructive way to let your child say goodbye. Planting a shrub that they get to pick out for their pet and burying a special drawing they’ve done with it is also a good way for them to have some closure.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Building Confidence in your Dog

Let’s not beat around the bush. Is your dog a bit of a wimp?
A bit of a big girl’s blouse when it comes to interacting with other dogs. Obviously each dog has a different character to the next, but can your nervous, trembling pooch be given enough confidence by you to start socializing properly with other dogs. Even if their character by nature is shy and timid, you can help them gain courage so that interacting with other dogs and humans isn’t too stressful for them. It may be that they became this way because of a trauma as a puppy or in adulthood. They may also have other issues like separation anxiety.
Firstly understand that this won’t happen overnight. Be patient. Little and often is the key to slowly building up your dogs confidence.

To begin with start obedience training. It’s the first step in helping to socialise your dog as it will help them to feel comfortable in their body. The better they become at understanding and obeying commands the stronger their confidence will grow. You will praise them when they get something right and that too will develop their feeling of self worth. Physically doing jumps, tricks and runs, will give them a positive sense of their own body as well as strengthen them and keeping them fit. All of this is helpful in building up their self esteem. Teaching them to weave, play fetch and other tricks are fun for both of you as well as exercise and technique learning for your pet. Do not baby them when they are learning. If they need to be corrected because they got something wrong, do it. They will feel confident if they know their boundaries.
Dog socialisation means that your dog is taught (hopefully from a young age) how to feel comfortable with themselves around humans, other dogs and different environments regardless of their breeds and characters. Mixing them in as many different circles of people and pets is the best start. After the age of 4 months, if you have socialised your puppy correctly he should be very confident in new surroundings and company. If you haven’t done this from a young age or you’ve taken on an older dog, then the above obedience training will be a step in the right direction.
Take your dog to the park where you can both sit and watch other owners and dogs. Believe me it will help your dog to get used to being around others without having to interact at this stage. You need to do this as regularly as possible.
You could be unwittingly encouraging your dogs fear by your own behaviour.
Next time you’re walking your dog pay attention to how you react when another dog approaches. Do you immediately tighten the lead or guide your dog away from interacting? Do you talk to him and pat him as they draw closer? You may think this is a good way of reassuring him but your dog will pick up very quickly on your reactions and take being cautious as the normal thing to do when they see a new dog. Keeping quiet and calmly walking ahead without quickening your pace will not alert your dog to any problems. When your dog is scared the first thing you want to do is pet him to reassure him. Don’t, he will think you are encouraging his nervous behaviour as the correct way to feel.
Fear aggression is a state you do not want your dog getting to. This is very hard to correct. It is exactly as it sounds, aggressive behaviour produced as a result of fear. Basically a dog will attack or become aggressive first so that the other dog doesn’t. If you find yours has gone too far down this road then you really should invest in a dog behavioural expert. No amount of obedience training will change the underlying problems. I say “problems” because it is quite a complex issue. Fear, a lack of early socialisation, abuse and possible genetic conditions could all be contributing to this problem.
It may be that you never fully train your dog to change this problem as it is so deeply embedded, but with a behavioural expert and plenty of patience you can definitely help to alleviate it.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Pet Theft – Is It On The Rise?

Unfortunately the answer is yes.
Research in the U.S shows that dog theft figures have trebled in recent years. The U.K is experiencing the same increase too. Why do people do it and how can you protect yourself and your dog from this heartache?

Firstly and obviously money is the primary reason. Stealing a dog off the streets, from pet stores or from a park and then selling them on to unsuspecting buyers is becoming a popular practise. People rarely disbelieve that someone’s a fake dog breeder. They have no reason to be suspicious. A buyer is usually only interested in the new dog’s health, have they been vaccinated etc and the cheap price they’ve managed to pay. A thief will easily obtain fake documents off the internet and lie to you about the animals health and vet visits. Once you’ve paid it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever be able to get hold of them again.
A lot of one off sales from drug users to dog fighters happen because of the need for fighting dogs for the illegal practise of dog baiting that sadly still goes on. It doesn’t matter to these disgusting people if the dog won’t fight, it’ll be good for bait for the other dog to practise on. Sick, but very true.
Particular breeds are going to be a target for different reasons. Lurchers are sold on for hunting, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and similar breeds for fighting and the smaller breeds like Yorkshire Terriers are quick and easy to steal and can fetch a nice profit. Breeding is another reason for dog theft and if the dog has been spayed then they can just sell it on anyway.
U.K animal charity Dog Lost works tirelessly to reunite lost and stolen dogs with their owners.
The charity's founder, Jane Hayes says "It's rising and rising, and probably due to the recession," she says "It's a good way to make money because owners will pay anything to get their dogs back. One owner paid £25,000 and had to remortgage the family house."
Thieves are well aware how much pets are loved and if they can tap into the heartbreak of losing a beloved member of the family they will ransom it for as much as possible.

Sadly some people just take an animal because they want it. I heard about an elderly man in my town who lived on a very tight budget but truly loved his cat. He always made sure his cat had food was groomed and vaccinated. When his cat was stolen he was devastated and never really recovered. I had my suspicions as to who had done this but nothing could be proven. The person I suspected would have given the cat a beautiful life but this was no justification for taking him from his owner. Poor or not the cat was loved and very well looked after. People often think they can sit in judgement of other people’s lifestyles, but rarely enquire properly as to their circumstances.
Below are some tips on keeping your dog safe.
Don’t leave your dog tied up outside when you’re shopping. It sounds obvious but people do it all the time. No one would leave their child on a leash outside a shop and when we park our bikes before shopping we usually make sure they are securely chained up. So why think your dog will be safe. It won’t.

Don’t leave your dog alone in a car. If someone sees an opportunity they won’t think twice about smashing your car window in if it means they’ll get money.
Do listen to your instincts. It’s always right. Be suspicious if someone is paying too much attention to your dog, asking too many questions. You don’t have to be rude but be aware of who’s around you at all times.
Don’t lose sight of your dog in the park and keep a watchful eye out for anybody suspiciously hanging around.
Do microchip your dog immediately.
Don’t buy a stolen pet even if you think you’re getting a great deal. You will only be helping this vicious circle to continue.
Do get a new pet checked out at the vet if you’re suspicious about their history.
Don’t buy pets from the internet. You will never truly know their past.
Always thoroughly check out a breeder before committing to buying an animal and if possible try to rehome an animal from a rescue centre.