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Why Your Cat Needs Regular Visits to the Veterinarian

Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

By Lisa King

Veterinarian Assistant

You should take your cat to the vet at least once a year for a check-up.

August 22 is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. There is no comparable day for dogs, so why is this annual reminder necessary? The answer is simple: Even though there are more pet cats than dogs in America, owners take their cats to the veterinarian about half as often as they take their dogs.

There are many reasons people are reluctant to take their cats to the vet regularly. Cats are seen as low-maintenance compared to dogs, and while this might be true overall, when it comes to medical care it is simply not the case. A cat should see his veterinarian once a year whether he has any symptoms or not. This applies even if yours is a young, sprightly, indoor-only cat.

Another problem for many cat owners is cost. Veterinarian visits aren’t cheap, but spending the money for a checkup annually can catch problems early, when they are easier to treat, thus saving you money in the long run.

Many owners resist taking their cats to the vet because it is so stressful for the cat. Cats are notoriously nervous about vet visits. Since most cats only get in their carriers and take car rides on vet day, no wonder they run and hide at the first sight of the carrier. The solution is to create positive associations with the carrier. Leave it out on the floor with the door open in a room your cat frequents. Line it with a comfy blanket and occasionally put a few treats, toys or a sprinkling of catnip inside. Your cat will come to see it as just another piece of furniture, and might even take naps inside. You can also put him in the carrier and take him on short drives that don’t end up at the vet’s office.

Another good reason for yearly exams is so your vet can get to know your cat, which will make it easier for her to diagnose what’s wrong with him if he develops symptoms. Establishing a good relationship with a vet also makes it easier for you to trust her judgment in matters of treatment.

Vet Assistant School

During the annual exam, the vet will check your cat’s teeth and gums.

Once you’ve gotten your cat to the vet, a vet tech will first weigh him. Then comes the indignity of having his temperature taken with a rectal thermometer. The veterinarian will do a thorough check of your cat’s eyes, ears, nose, mouth and teeth, looking for inflammation, discharge and other problems. She will listen to your cat’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope. She will also examine his paws, genitals and anus, and comb through his fur looking for evidence of fleas. Next, she will gently examine your cat’s body, looking for bumps, swelling or other abnormalities. If this is your cat’s first visit to a particular vet, she might want to do blood work to establish baseline values to compare against later tests.

Talk to your vet about flea control, deworming and dental care. The handling of these issues will depend on your individual cat’s circumstances. Vaccinations are another topic to discuss with your vet. While rabies shots area regulated by law, most other vaccinations are given at the owner’s discretion. Some vaccinations are recommended to be given annually, but increasingly vets are waiting three years between shots. Work out a plan that both you and your vet can live with. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; your vet can also offer advice and guidance regarding diet, behavior problems or any other concerns you have. 

As your cat ages into his senior years, he should visit the vet more often and be checked for arthritis, diabetes, kidney problems, thyroid issues, heart disease and other conditions common in older cats. If you’ve been assiduous about regular checkups with a trusted vet when your cat was young, you’ll be in good hands if you have to face a serious illness.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

Make Sure Your Pets are Prepared in Case Disaster Strikes

Preparing Your Pets for Evacuation

By Stacy Mantle

RescuePetFloodWe never think it will happen to us, but the truth is a disaster can strike anywhere at any time. From hurricanes and fires, to gas leaks and terrorist threats, there are hundreds of reasons why you and your pets may need to evacuate your home. The important thing is to be prepared and to be certain your pets are, too. Here are some guidelines on getting your pets ready for evacuation.

Microchip Your Pets: This is the best way to ensure you and your pet are reunited. Be sure to register the tag (or change ownership if you adopted a dog or cat from a rescue). If you move, be sure to update your pet’s microchip information.  Always keep a recent photo of you and your pets on you. You never know when this information will be needed in case of separation. In addition to microchipping, your pets should always be wearing a collar with ID tags.

QR-coded tags are handy if you have a pet with a medical condition as you can store the information needed in one simple app. You decide how much of the information a stranger who finds your pet needs to know.

Know Where to Go: You should be certain you have a place to go in case of emergency. Search in advance for pet-friendly hotels in your area. In the event of long-term evacuation, you should have a plan in place with family or friends where you can take your pets.  You might also want to make prior arrangements with a kennel (for dogs or cats), a ranch (for large animals) or an animal rescue (for exotics).

Know Your Emergency Veterinarian Hospitals: Even if you don’t think you’ll need a veterinarian, you should know where your nearest 24-hour hospital is for your pets. This is particularly important if you have large animals who are more likely to injure themselves due to the stress of evacuation.

Make a Plan: You should have several ways to get out of your home with your pets, know how you will gather them safely in a timely period and identify a “meet place” with other family members. Map out your area and know where the nearest 24-hr veterinarian clinic is located so you can ensure your pets receive prompt attention in case of emergency. Verify that your veterinarian, pet sitter, trainer or daycare facility has an emergency plan in place if anything happens while your pets are under their care.

Create a “Go Bag”: Every household should have a single backpack that you can “grab and go” on the way out the door. This is a perfect bag for quick evacuations (gas leak, police evacuation or other temporary threat).

This bag includes a three-day supply of whatever your pets need for longer-term evacuations. Larger animals can carry their own packs if you plan well. You should have a go-bag in place for each animal and teach them ahead of time how to carry a pack. Smaller pets may need you to do the carrying.

  • Documentation: This includes an updated photo of you with your pet, microchip numbers, ID tag numbers and any emergency contact information in case anything happens to you.
  • Water: You and your pet need water. Keep a three-day supply of water for you and your pets in your go-bag. Plan on keeping 1 to 3 ounces of water per pound of body weight for each animal, each day.
  • Food: Keep at least three days of food for each pet in an airtight, waterproof container. Rotate these out on a monthly basis to ensure freshness. You may want to consider feeding your pets moist or canned food to assist in preventing dehydration. You can also consider purchasing premade emergency meal kits. (See resources below.)
  • Medicine: Keep an extra week of medicine on hand for pets who are on prescription medication.
  • Collar, Leash, ID Tags: Your pets should always be wearing a collar and ID tags, but it’s also a good idea to have an extra set stored in your “go bag.”
  • Dishes: Be sure you have at least one dish for feeding and watering your pets.

Crate: Be sure you have a way of transporting your pet securely. Conduct training exercises on a regular basis so that pets know the crate is a safe place. The goal is to have the crate be their location to run if anything frightens them. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a cat that has hidden in fear during an emergency situation.

Sanitation: Be sure you have a way to clean up after your pet. For cats, this means a spare litterbox and litter (these are premade and easy to dispose of). For dogs, this means plastic doggy bags. Your sanitation bags should also include paper towels, a disinfectant and wipes.

Use the Buddy System: A buddy system can be incredibly beneficial in saving your pets lives. Particularly if you work away from the home or have large animals (like horses), larger dogs who may be considered threatening (shepherds, pit bulls, etc.), or exotics (reptiles, ferrets, birds, etc.). Proper handling of these animals often means the difference between life and death. Work out an agreement between three and four families to learn how to handle one another’s animals. That way, you have back up if you’re out of town and emergency strikes at home.

Emergency Resources ASPCAPetFirstAid

 Premade Meal Kits and Bottled Water for Pets:

 First Aid Kit for Pets

 


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

What to Do if Your Cat Gets Stung

The Cats and the Bees

By Sandy Robins

CatBeeGardenDid you know that July 10 was “Don’t Step on a Bee Day.” Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? If you don’t believe me, go to a website called DaysOfTheYear.com and check this out along with national waffle day and national gummi bear day…

The whole idea of this day is to help preserve bees, which are in danger in many parts of the world. While saving bees is a good thing, they can present a problem when you have cats. Cats find them irresistible to watch, chase—and catch.

We have a succulent on our balcony where the cats are allowed to sit safely and sun themselves. Every year it produces a huge stem with hundreds of tiny yellow flowers and with it comes the bees that probably get more pollen from this one stop than from flitting from flower to flower.

Fudge couldn’t care less. Been there done that—this occurs every year. But Ziggy is fixated, watching their every movement. It must make him dizzy when several bees arrive at once and flit all over this huge flowering stem. When one bee lost its sense of direction and flew inside Ziggy took after it at high speed. I had to spring into action to prevent ensuing conflict.

After a couple of weeks of this, I realized I couldn’t sit and watch Ziggy watching the bees any longer because eventually he could catch one and probably get stung, so I cut off the huge stem and put into it into a vase instead.

CatwBeesWhat do you do if your cat gets stung on her nose, paws or anywhere else? First off, if possible, get the entire stinger out. (Note: wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and bumble bees don’t leave their “stingers” behind.) A credit card is your best friend when it comes to removing a stinger. Use the credit card to scrape it away, making sure you get the whole stinger. Don’t use tweezers or your fingers as you might end up releasing more venom into or onto your cat. A sting won’t be too painful for your cat, according to veterinarians, but the site can swell up quickly. Ice will help reduce the swelling and it’s also a good idea to apply an antibiotic cream.

A friend’s cat chomped on a bee and got stung inside his cheek. That necessitated a trip to the vet and an antihistamine injection. In fact, any bee sting is definitely worth a follow up to the vet because cats can have an allergic reaction and go into shock. They might have difficulty breathing if the tissues of the throat swell. In addition, their blood pressure could plunge, resulting in a life-threatening complication. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms after being stung, take her to a veterinarian immediately.

Sorry bees. Next year when this plant flowers, I am going to cut off the flowering stem and put it in a vase straight away. I am going to buy Ziggy a toy that replicates a bee on a wand and play with him instead.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

Cats in Film – Superstar Cats People Love To Watch on the Big Screen

Cats in Film
By Sandy Robins

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

It seems that if you have an idea for a national holiday or special day, all you have to do is lodge your suggestion with someone (I am not sure with whom, to be exact) and bingo, you have a day on the calendar to celebrate.

Case in point: June 19 is National Pets in Film Day.

If you just take cats, there is a plethora of well-known feline actors as well as cartoon cats and, of course, feline-inspired characters such as Catwoman that actors love to portray to show off their feline prowess.

In fact, cats have been stealing scenes throughout the history of cinema. The movie “Inside Llewyn Davis owes its success to a brilliant cat performance from an unknown ginger tabby, according to British film critic Ann Billson who writes for The Telegraph. Billson also noted that the Coen brothers, who produced the film, were so successful because they applied one of the truisms of the Seventh Art: There are few films that are not improved by the presence of a cat.

I would take it one step further and say that many films are only remembered because of their feline stars.

I don’t remember much about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s except that Audrey Hepburn’s character had a cat. Nor do I remember much about the dysfunctional Focker family shenanigans in both movies, but I do remember Jinx, the cat. The movie “The Heat was one big catfight between the Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy characters, but the scene-stealer was the ginger tabby Pumpkin. “Cloud Atlas is a blur, but the sleeping grey tabby that the naked man grabbed and used as a modesty shield until its claws came out made this movie memorable to me. Go tabby!

Not surprisingly, ginger tabbies are definitely movie favorites. The opening sequence of “The Long Goodbye,” Robert Altman’s revisionist update of Raymond Chandler’s private-eye story, depicts Marlowe (Elliott Gould) being woken up by his cat, which tramples all over him and meows nonstop till it gets what it wants. Billson claimed the film as having “a fine bit of Method acting from the ginger cat.”

Billson’s critiques are very cat-centric. She also gives kudos to Jones in “Alien” another handsome ginger puss that performed multiple functions. He is a catguffin—a pretext for characters to go wandering off by themselves. He is a catpanion for Ripley to talk to, provides several moments of catshock by suddenly jumping out at people and remains a wild card to the end because the audience is never quite sure if an alien has infected him.

The James Bond movies are often an intellectual muddle between good and evil but everyone remembers Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s white Persian who made her first appearance in “From Russia with Love,” and returned to nestle in the archvillain’s lap in “You Only Live Twice.” Not to mention the Austin Powers spoof where the white glamorous Persian is replaced by a sphynx named Mr. Bigglesworth.

There is no question that dogs are easier to train for the movies; however, cats, even if they work on cue, add their own special feline mystique that make them scene stealers. And when it comes to cartoon cats, such as Garfield or Puss in Boots, or any one of the memorable Disney movies such as “The Aristocats,” the felines aren’t the sidekicks; they are where all cats belong: in the spotlight center stage as the star.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

Benefits of Hugging Your Cat

Hug Your Cat!

By Sandy Robins

Did you know that June 4 is officially Hug Your Cat Day? It’s the purrfect oppurrtunity to celebrate the power of the purr.

It’s actually been scientifically proven that cats are good for us. Research done at the University of Minnesota deduced that cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack.

There is no question that if you have had a bad day at the office or, for any reason, are particularly stressed, the moment your cat greets you at the door and insists on a game of fetch (as my Ziggy does) or simply climbs on your lap, you begin to relax and benefit from your cat’s slow and gentle purr.

There are many ways to celebrate this wonderful human-feline bond. Sitting and relaxing with your cat on your lap is a no-brainer.

Grooming your cat can be considered “hugging” her, too, because it is a great way to bond. Once you have found the ideal grooming tool, cats enjoy being brushed and it’s a great way to spend time with her, not to mention the benefits of getting rid of shedding fur.

I mention the ideal grooming tool because lots of cats don’t like the feel of anything metal on their fur and skin. They prefer a grooming mitt that offers a simultaneous massage—who can resist that?

Hugging also falls under the heading of playing with your cat. Cats enjoy all kinds of games and will turn anything into a fun toy—such as a cardboard box that you had something delivered in.

However, the best games are interactive ones .In other words, games that involve both you and your favorite feline—just like Ziggy’s endless games of fetch, which we play with a wand toy. Wands and laser tools are a great way for the two of you to interact. Cats enjoy pounce-and-play type games and will often include a couple of head butts during the games. This is their way of hugging you back.

Cats blink at their people and also yawn, which are recognized signs of affection; so be sure to blink back. Your feline will understand the communication.

But the most important thing to remember is that cats enjoy their people every day. It’s not a matter of hugging your cat, but how many times you hug them in a day that really counts!

Hug Your Cat Day is a great idea to have on the pet calendar. Actually, every day should be hug your cat day. Your cat deserves nothing less.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

Cat Hairballs – Cough It Up

Preventing hairballs—or their aftermath—helps keep cats healthy (and floors clean).

By Sandy Robins

This April 25 marks the ninth year cat lovers will celebrate National Hairball Awareness Day. It is interesting to note that felines aren’t the only hairball expellers; rabbits do, too. So do cud-chewing animals such as cows, oxen, sheep, goats, llamas, deer and antelopes. And—wait for it—people, too! A human hairball is called a trichobezoar. It’s common in people who compulsively play with their hair and swallow it.

Now, this is not a day you want to celebrate by being greeted by a big hairball presented by your cat. A celebration would be NOT waking up to a hairball on the rug.

Most cats are able to expel hairballs by vomiting them up. But often that is the tip of the iceberg of hair—so to speak. Ingested hair can cause a serious blockage in the intestinal tract and lead to all sorts of complications.

It’s so important to remember that while cats are self-groomers, they still need help from their pet parents, especially if the cats have long hair and, also if they are elderly and simply are not agile and mobile enough to groom themselves properly.

There are lots of excellent grooming tools on the market that help get rid of thick undercoats. I am always telling my friends with cats that grooming should be considered a fun way to spend quality time with their cat rather than a chore. My cats really enjoy being massaged with a hand mitt, which picks up the loose hair as your brush.

For owners who need to deal with their cats’ ingested hair, there are products, such as Petromalt Hairball Relief Gel from Sergeants PetCare, which can help alleviate the formation of hairballs by coating the digestive tract to prevent build up—they also act as a laxative. It’s simply a matter of putting a dollop on a front paw and letting the cat lick it off. For really fussy cats, put a blob on their lower chin and let them take over from there.

For anyone wanting to know more about hairballs, the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) in Washington, D. C., has a virtual hairball exhibition on its website. You can learn why hairballs develop in the stomach and see examples of them from various animals, including humans.

There are also craft books such as Crafting with Cat Hair, which shows readers how to transform stray clumps of fur into soft and adorable handicrafts. From kitty tote bags and finger puppets to fluffy cat toys, picture frames and more, these projects are cat-friendly, eco-friendly and require no special equipment or training.

For the past couple of years, there have been all kinds of hairball events, including a celebrity lookalike competition where people were asked to brush their cats and take the fur and style it into a celebrity. I took part last year and got my cats’ shedded fur to look like Howard Stern—well sort of….

On a final note: when you’re stressed and want to pull your hair out, remember it’s simply a phrase, not a call to action. Brush your cat regularly instead!


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

Designing a Play Palace for Your Pet

Designing a Pooch Palace or Feline Fortress in a Small Space

If you’ve been thinking it’s time to give your four-legged family member his own dedicated living space, most vets will agree it’s a good idea. Not only is it fun, but it can help soothe your pet when he’s stressed or overstimulated. You don’t have to transform an entire spare room into your pooch or kitty’s favorite hangout (although that’s a trend growing in popularity, too)—you can get started with just a patch of underused space.

A Special Space is Smart

If your home has become a haven for claw marks or paw prints, a space of his own can minimize damage in the living areas. A pet room also helps confine shedding and dander, which is especially beneficial if you have guests frequently. This will minimize suffering for those with allergies and give your pet a safe place to hang out while you entertain.

Crate Training Dogs - Tips and Benefits

Things to Consider

A converted laundry room with a large sink or tub is ideal, because it makes bath time easy. Natural lighting is important, so try to choose a room or area with a window. Make sure your pet’s outdoor view can easily be controlled with window treatments—this way, you can open up the blinds or shades when you want to give him some action, and close them when it’s nap time or when the barking gets to be too much.

 

Dog Laying Down - Arthritis

Also consider his size. If he weighs more than 20 pounds, he may be more inclined to stay in an entire room devoted to him rather than a segmented area of the house that isn’t enclosed. And try to use a space you know he already likes.

Outfitting the Space

Include plenty of features that will attract your pet’s attention and keep him occupied. Cats love ledges that give them opportunities for climbing and cozy nooks for napping. Some pet owners even put an aquarium or television in the room, so their pets have something interesting to watch or listen to all day long. This can decrease their anxiety and make them feel less lonely.

For furniture, try placing a used piece near a window. You can find a cheap chair or couch at your local Goodwill. Or, put a comfortable pet bed on a rug, so your pet can lounge around. Just be sure whatever you choose is washable. For flooring, the perfect choice may be interlocking rubber tiles that are comfortable under all four feet. Add colorful cubbies or baskets around the space, and fill them with plenty of safe toys.

exercise_indoor_cats

If you can go custom, consider installing counter-tops at the perfect height for brushing and grooming. Another option: food and water bowls built into the wall to reduce spills and messes.

Decorate the walls however you would like. Go with pet motifs, jungle themes or simply abstract art with lots of color, so the humans who spend time in the space can feel welcome, too.

Cat Bath – How To Bathe a Cat

how to bathe a cat, cat bath

How To Bathe A Cat

The general perception is that cats hate water, but in fact, they are natural swimmers. Certain breeds such as Abyssinians and Turkish Vans might even willingly join you in the shower. This misconception probably persists because the average domestic feline isn’t usually exposed to water on a regular basis. For an adult cat who has never been bathed to suddenly find herself in warm water can be very stressful and could even cause her heart rate to spike. However, if you introduce your feline to water from kittenhood, she will learn to tolerate a bath—and may even enjoy it.

It’s a good idea to get everything ready before you bring your cat into the equation. Make sure you have your shampoo and conditioning products open and have at least two towels in place. Special absorbent pet towels are excellent for removing excess water before you wrap your cat in an ordinary towel. If possible, warm your towels in advance by placing them in the dryer.

Remember, you have options. You can bathe your cat in the kitchen sink, in your bathtub or even in the shower stall. It will depend on how tolerant she is. Wherever you decide, be sure to put down a rubber mat or a towel on which she can stand. This will give her traction and make bath time less stressful for her—and for you.

Often, cats don’t like the sound of handheld shower sprays more than the actual water. The best way to deal with this type of hesitant cat is to place her in position and have several buckets of warm water on hand along with a sponge and a cup. The idea is to use the first bucket of water to sponge her before and during the shampooing and conditioning ritual and then to use the second bucket of water and cup to gently pour water over her fur for the final rinse.

Start washing your cat from her neck down to her toes and tail. Massage the bath formula into her fur—she will like that part. Dab shampoo and conditioner onto a cotton ball and work gently around the eyes, nose, ears and under the chin. Some cats might prefer the use of a pet wipe on facial areas.

If you are using any kind of special skin treatment, experts suggest that you apply it twice during a bath for it to effectively treat the condition. Leave the second application on for 5 to 15 minutes (cat permitting, of course) to allow the active ingredients to be properly absorbed.

Rinse the fur well to remove all traces of shampoo and conditioner, especially if you are using the “buckets-of-water” routine. If you are showering the products off, allow the water to run over your cat for at least 5 minutes to enable her skin to be properly hydrated. It’s very important to rinse well because products not designed to be left on the skin and fur can cause irritation. They might also be ingested when your cat takes over her own grooming and starts licking herself after you’ve completed the bath.

Also, never allow water to enter your cat’s ears—fold them over when rinsing. It’s not a good idea to place cotton balls in the ears because you may forget to remove them.

When your cat has been thoroughly rinsed and while she is still in the tub, use an absorbent pet towel to remove excess water. Then scoop her up in a warm, dry, fluffy one for the final toweling.

Longhaired cats should be gently brushed or combed after a bath so that their fur doesn’t mat during the drying process. If you are going to use a hair dryer, make sure that it’s made specifically for pets because those designed for humans are far too hot—and noisy.

No matter how efficient you are and how wonderful the experience is, you will probably still get a look from your cat that implies you didn’t do a proper job, so she is now forced to “clean up” after you.

But that’s just her natural grooming instincts kicking in. It’s what cats do.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

It’s Pet Dental Health Month

It’s Pet Dental Health Month

Pet Bad breathe isn’t the only thing that improves with proper oral care.

By Lisa King


The condition of your dog’s teeth and gums affects not only whether his breath is stinky or not; poor dental health can influence his quality of life and even his life expectancy. Although cavities are relatively rare in dogs, they can suffer from plaque and tartar buildup, gingivitis and periodontal disease just like people. These in turn can cause painful gums, loose teeth and bone loss.

Periodontal disease can be very serious; bacteria and toxins from diseased gums can enter the dog’s blood stream and be carried to the organs. The brain, heart, liver and kidneys are the most likely organs to be affected. These toxins and bacteria can cause inflammation and infections in the organs, leading to permanent organ damage or even death.

It’s your responsibility as a dog owner to keep your pet healthy by caring for his teeth to prevent these painful and dangerous conditions. Ideally, this means brushing them every day.

This might sound like a tall order if your dog is not used to it. The trick is to get him accustomed to brushing. If he’s a puppy it will be easier, but an older dog can also be taught to tolerate tooth-brushing. Start by massaging the outside of his mouth for 30 seconds or so a couple of times a day. When he’s used to this, try massaging his teeth and gums. Let him lick a little doggie toothpaste off your finger.Never use human toothpaste.

When he will accept this type of touching calmly, get him a doggie toothbrush, either one that looks like a smaller human toothbrush or one that fits over your finger. Apply toothpaste and move the brush in small circular motions, lifting up his lip as you work around his mouth. If he gets impatient, you can skip cleaning the inside surface—most of the tartar buildup is on the outside of the teeth.

Another tool in your dental arsenal is the chew toy. Hard rubber, rawhide and rope chew toys help keep your dog’s teeth clean and his jaws strong, as well as relieving stress. You can also purchase dental treats that are designed to clean tartar off a dog’s teeth and dental rinses that you can put in your dog’s water. But as with people, there’s no substitute for regular brushing.

A well-balanced dry food is less likely to cause tartar buildup than wet food, and human food is worst of all when it comes to your dog’s dental health, so keep table-scrap treats to a minimum.

It is important that your veterinarian checks your dog’s teeth regularly. She will need to handle issues such as cysts under the tongue or tumors in the mouth. Between vet visits, be on the lookout for bad breath, increased drooling, loose teeth and swollen or inflamed gums (the tissue is red instead of pink). An apparent loss of appetite can be caused by painful teeth or gums. Any of these can indicate that your dog has a dental problem and should see the vet.

If you haven’t been taking care of your dog’s dental health or if he is simply an older dog, he might have developed tooth or gum disease. If so, it’s time for a professional deep cleaning. Your vet will need to anesthetize your dog so she can do a thorough job, including cleaning under the gum line. She will also X-ray your dog’s mouth to ensure the roots of his teeth are healthy. This procedure can cost hundreds of dollars, but it can make your dog pain-free and add years to his life.

The best approach to maintaining your dog’s dental health is prevention. Start as early as you can to brush his teeth and check the condition of his teeth and gums. Provide him with a good diet and plenty of chew toys and dental treats. Take him in for regular vet visits. A dog with a healthy mouth is a happier, healthier dog.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea.”

For the Love of Cats – Valentine’s Day Gifts for Cats

For the Love of Cats

Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your favorite feline companion(s).

By Sandy Robins


There’s no question that our pets get to celebrate the holidays throughout the year, too. However, the next one up on the calendar, Valentine’s Day, is actually a difficult one for cats to celebrate by copycatting tradition people gifts because felines neither appreciate red roses nor chocolate, which is a big toxic no-no.

So what to do?

Cats are not that easy to shop for on Valentine’s Day in terms of themed merchandise. That said, you simply can’t go wrong with anything catnip, such as a plush mouse that can be filled and refreshed with dried catnip or a fresh catnip plant.

Kitty Cat Garden

Live plants should be placed in a bright position such as on the kitchen counter. Cats love to nibble on greens and a planter with different types of seeds—such as Pioneer Pet’s KittyGarden—makes a great gift, especially in multi-cat households. The wooden planter has four separate sections for 100 percent organic oats, wheat, rye and barley seeds. They begin sprouting in four to six days. And if you keep harvesting fresh greens for your cat, it can yield quite a crop.

A small, sealed aquarium of exotic fish or even a single betta fish, as long as it’s in a sealed, sturdy bowl, makes a nice decorative feature in a room and will provide endless hours of feline entertainment.

Super Cat Paper

Cats love crumpled paper and paper bags. So the feline paper items from Supercat—available in pet specialty stores and online—make great gifts for cats. Not only do they enjoy the sounds of the crinkly paper, but the products are infused with catnip to increase their enthusiasm!

Nothing says love quite like treats. This is a time to splurge and head for the pet store and purchase a variety of different flavors. However, it’s really important to know whether your cat likes her treats soft and chewy or crisp and crunchy. Some cats really enjoy treats that are crunchy on the outside with a soft center.

For cat lovers and pet parents, a nice coffee mug is always a welcome gift. If you simply Google “cat + coffee mug” a slew of fun designs will pop up. Even Grumpy Cat has her own mug, channeling Garfield and protesting that she hates Mondays …

The website Cafepress.com has a slew of fun cat-themed merchandise, including magnets, aprons, jewelry,, mouse pads and iPad covers. You name it there’s a variety of slogan and paw prints on everything imaginable. The craft site Etsy.com is another great place to explore.

For The Love of Cats

I can’t let this Valentine’s Day opportunity slip by without mentioning my cat book, which is aptly named “For The Love of Cats.” It’s a coffee-table collectible with beautiful illustrations by the talented Mark Anderson. The book is an alphabetical collection of fun rhymes and interesting feline factoids that cover everything from why the ancient Egyptians loved cats to the many “features” cat’s whiskers have. It’s available at www.SandyRobinsOnLine.Com.

While gifts are fun, there is no substitute for spending quality time with your favorite feline (or canine) and dispensing lots of extra hugs and kisses on Valentine’s Day. With love in the air, this is undoubtedly the best way to show your feelings to your pets.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats