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Start The Year Out Right By Resolving To Improve Your Pet’s Life

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New Year, New Resolutions

Make 2015 a great year for you and your pets.

By Sandy Robins

Dogs and Cats Celebrating the New Year

Start this year out right by making a resolution to implement your resolutions, especially those that will help your pets have healthy and happy lives for years to come.

Yes, every year it’s the same pattern. We vow we are going to do certain things in the New Year and make positive changes to our lifestyles—and our pets’ lifestyles, too. Somehow, the year picks up steam and hurtles along and soon we are back making the same statements at the start of a different year.

Let’s start this year out right by making a resolution to implement the resolutions. Our pets truly rely on us for everything, from their food to a topped-up water bowl, from a comfortable bed placed away from any household draughts to their grooming and exercise routines.

The following basics are a great place to start making things better for your pets.

Cat Drinking from a Water Fountain

A resolution: Remember to regularly refresh and top off your pets’ water bowls and fountains. Every pet needs constant access to fresh water. Photo courtesy of PetSafe.

From a feline perspective, as the litterbox janitor you can resolve to scoop daily (if you aren’t already doing so) and ensure its topped up with fresh litter—about 4 inches’ worth inside the pan. The rule is one litterbox per cat in the house. So, if you don’t have the correct numbers, put another pan on your shopping list. You might even score a post-holiday bargain.

Water bowls and fountains also need to be refreshed and topped up daily. If you have been slacker, this is a quick fix. You can also delegate kids in the household to keep an eye on the water levels and nag you to top up. Kids know how to nag, right?

Exercise is vital to good health for both cats and dogs. When it comes to cats, short games with a wand or a toy they can chase makes all the difference. Try to introduce playtime twice a day. The kids can step in here as well and commandeer a play session. This daily exercise offers felines both mental and physical stimulation. Interacting with pets also provides great learning opportunities for children.

Dogs need several good walks in a day. During the winter, you can take them on several shorter walks instead of just one or two long walks in the cold. If the weather is just not conducive to going outdoors, a pet treadmill can be a great investment when it comes to taking care of their exercise needs.

Dog Playing With Treat-filled Toy

A resolution: Ensure your pets always have something to keep themselves occupied–safely and constructively. Puzzle toys, especially treat-filled ones, are great for dogs and cats. Photo courtesy of PetSafe.

Be sure to introduce other interactive games, too, so that you can spend quality time together. Puzzle toys are great for both cats and dogs left home alone as they truly give pets a chance to constructively occupy their time—and their minds.

If you are like me, no resolution in the world is going to stop you from being a part-time couch potato with all that good material available on Netflix. However, make sure you curl up together with your favorite pets so that you can all enjoy quality time together—as well as (low-calorie) snacks.


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

 

Keep Your Cat Healthy With Visits to the Veterinarian

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Take Your Cat to the Vet

Why your cat needs to have regular health checkups.

By Lisa King

Cat Examination at the Vet Hospital

Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary.

Veterinarian visits are expensive. Taking your cat in for a routine checkup can run over $100 if he’s due for a vaccination. If you have multiple cats, the costs mount. Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. For these reasons, many cat owners avoid taking their cats to the vet unless there is an obvious medical problem. In fact, dogs are taken to the vet twice as often as cats are.

Avoiding routine vet visits can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary. If your cat is older or has any existing health issues, he should see the vet twice a year.

The vet will check your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listen to his heart and breathing. She will also weigh your cat, and might recommend blood work, especially if your cat is senior. If any problems are found, they can be dealt with before they become more serious—and more expensive.

It’s a good idea to bring a stool sample in a plastic baggie to your appointment. That way, the vet can test for intestinal parasites right away.

Veterinarian Listens to a Cat's Lungs

A typical veterinarian exam includes checking your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listening to his heart and breathing.

The annual vet visit is a good time to discuss other topics with the doctor. Is your cat exhibiting any unusual behaviors? Has he suddenly started urinating outside the litterbox? Has his appetite increased or diminished? Is he drinking more or less water than normal? Changes like these can be indications of underlying medical issues.

If you are avoiding vet visits because your cat goes postal at the sight of his carrier, there are steps you can take to calm him down. Start by placing the carrier in an area your cat frequents so it isn’t a signal that a vet visit is imminent. Leave the door open and put a favorite blanket, a couple of toys and some treats inside.

Put a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray. These synthetic pheromone products are designed to reduce anxiety in cats by mimicking the scent of lactating mother cats.

Cat in a Carrier at the Vet's Office

Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. You can help your cat deal with a trip to the vet by putting a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray.

Take your cat on car rides that don’t end up at the vet. Drive around for several minutes and then come home and give your cat a treat or a favorite toy. This will lead him to associate car rides with rewards rather than punishment.

In extreme cases, your vet can prescribe a sedative to be given shortly before visits. This will make it easier for you to transport your cat and will also make it easier for the vet to examine him.

If your cat still gets very stressed by vet visits, it is possible to find vets who make house calls. Ask your vet if she does, or if she can recommend someone who does. Keeping your cat in familiar surroundings and skipping the car ride will reduce his anxiety significantly and will make his annual checkups relatively painless for both of you.


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.”

Your Dog’s Antics Aren’t All That Strange

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Dog Behavior, Explained

There really are reasons behind your pet’s weirdness.

By Stacy Mantle

Dog Acting Weird

REM sleep disorder, which occurs when the brain signals the large muscle groups in the body to move, is the reason why your dog “runs” in his sleep.

Our dogs do a variety of strange things, from walking in a circle three times before they lie down to running a special pattern before eating. However, believe it or not, there are often some very legitimate reasons for them to do these things. Here a few of these behaviors and the reasons behind them.

 

Why Does My Dog Press His Head into the Wall?

Recently, there was a “wall-staring” meme that started on YouTube, where people posted photos and videos of their dogs and cats sat staring at a wall—or pressing their head against it—for extended periods of time. If your pets do this, you should consider it an emergency situation and get them into the vet. Known as “head pressing,” it is an indication of neurological damage. Causes of head pressing can include tumors, liver shunt, stroke, encephalitis, hepatic disease, prosencephalon disease and even toxic poisoning. Take this behavior very seriously.

 

Why Does My Dog Run in His Sleep?

You see your dog running in your sleep and wonder what he’s dreaming about. The truth is, he might have a sleep disorder. REM sleep disorder occurs when the brain signals the large muscle groups in the body to move. Usually this is harmless, but if you’re really concerned because your dog has begun injuring himself (such as suddenly standing up and running into a wall), it’s time to see a veterinarian. They can provide medications that will help control the disorder.

 

Why is My Dog Crying?

Dogs sometimes start “chuffing” and make a snorting or choking sound, they might even appear to be crying. The phenomenon is known as paroxysmal respiration. It sounds awful, but it’s really a reaction to several different factors, including eating too fast or reacting to an irritant in the air. If it happens often, you’ll want to see a veterinarian.

 

Dog Rolling in Cow Patties

There are numerous theories as to why dogs like to roll in horribly smelly things. Whatever the reason, the end result is always the same: a bath.

Why Does My Dog Roll in Dead Things?

There isn’t a dog alive who wouldn’t choose to roll in stinky stuff if given half a chance. There are many theories as to why dogs do this. Some people believe the dogs are “disguising” their own scents—an instinct leftover from the days when dogs were actual hunters. Some believe it indicates a dog doesn’t like the way he smells (especially right after a bath). I subscribe to the theory that they are showing other dogs where they have been that day (similar to a child running up to you and saying, “Look what I found!”). Still, others believe their pets just really like the smell. The real reason? Only our dogs know for sure.

 

Why Does My Dog Circle Three Times Before Laying Down?

This is likely another instinctual behavior leftover from the good ol’ days of being predators. In order to pat down the long grasses on ranges, dogs would turn around in a circle (usually three times is enough to pat down grasses), making a perfect grass shelter bed. Dogs are pack animals and the circle is a way of staking out a preferred sleeping area.

 

Why Does My Dog Pull the Stuffing Out of His Toys?

Dog Destroys Stuffed Toy

A dog who enjoys disemboweling her stuffed toys is probably just following her natural hunting instincts. To solve this problem, simply switch her over to unstuffed toys.

If your pup enjoys disemboweling her toys, don’t be too concerned. There is nothing more instinctual to a dog than pulling all the stuffing out of her toys. I you watch the process, you’ll see there is a specific way she accomplishes this behavior. She will first pull out the “perceived” intestines, kidneys and liver, then the heart, lungs and spleen. This is because the organs are “high-value” targets due to their concentrated levels of vitamin B, which wild animals need a lot of to survive. If your dogs were in the wild, they would then move on to the large muscle mass of each leg, then to the ribs and finally to the tougher portions (like bone, tendon, cartilage and hide).

Of course, it might also be that the stuffed toy “stomach” is generally where the seam is usually located. However, personally, I like the hunting theory.

No matter how strange your dog’s behavior is, you can rest assured there are physiological or instinctual reasons behind it. Taking the time to explore the history of your dog and understanding her reasoning for doing certain things will give you a huge advantage in distinguishing between “learned behavior” and “instinctual behavior.” This will go a long ways toward helping you train your dog.


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

 

Regular Veterinarian Visits = Happy Healthy Dogs

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Happy, Healthy Dogs

Your Canine companions need to see a veterinarian at least once a year.

By Audrey Pavia

Veterinarian Exams a Lab

Depending on what your veterinarian finds during the exam, he might recommend changes in your dog’s lifestyle.

Your dog seems happy and healthy. He’s full of energy, eats all his dinner and always has a bright look in his eye. So why stress him out by putting him in the car and taking him to the vet?

While it might seem that the only time you should take your dog to the vet is when he’s sick, the truth is that regular vet visits—at least once a year—are as important as giving him good food, daily exercise and a warm place to sleep.

Chances are your medical doctor recommends a yearly checkup to make sure your body stays in good working order. The same rule applies to dogs. By taking your dog to the veterinarian once a year for a wellness exam, you are helping to keep him happy and healthy.

Here is what your dog’s vet will be checking for when you take him in for a yearly exam:

  • Body condition. Your vet will determine if your dog is of a healthy weight, and will make suggestions to correct any issues she might see. She might also perform an exam on your dog’s joints to look for early signs of arthritis.
  • Healthy skin. An exam of your dog’s skin will reveal any issues with allergies or parasites, such as fleas and ticks.
  • Healthy teeth and gums. Infected teeth or gums can lead to serious illness in a dog. The vet will examine your dog’s mouth thoroughly, looking for gum disease or loose or infected teeth.
  • Normal heartbeat. By listening to your dog’s heart with a stethoscope, your vet will determine if your dog has a heart murmur or any other irregular rhythm.
  • Normal breathing. Using a stethoscope, your vet will listen to your dog’s breathing to ensure his lungs are clear and his respiration normal.
  • Healthy eyes. Your vet will look into your dog’s eyes with a light to check for signs of cataracts or other issues. She will also examine the area around the eyes for signs of infection or injury.
  • Healthy ears. Your vet will look into your dog’s ears to check for parasites, infection or other issues.
  • Your dog’s records will indicate if he is in need of vaccines. Puppies require several vaccines during their first six months of life to help protect them against serious illness. Adult dogs need regular boosters to help them stay healthy.
Veterinarian Checks a Dog's Eyes

Regular vet visits—at least once a year—are as important as giving your dog good food, daily exercise and a warm place to sleep.

If your dog is a senior—6 years old or older, in most breeds—your vet might suggest blood work to evaluate the function of your dog’s kidney, liver and other body systems.

At the time you set up your dog’s exam, the veterinarian’s office might request that you bring in a fresh stool sample from your dog. Tests will be run on the sample to look for parasites such as roundworms and pinworms, which could be occupying your dog’s digestive system.

When taking your dog to your vet for an exam, be prepared to answer some questions. Your vet will ask you about your dog’s behavior, appetite and bowel movements. She will want to know what you are feeding your dog, and might want to discuss nutrition and exercise with you.

Depending on what your veterinarian finds during the exam, she might recommend changes in your dog’s lifestyle. If any serious issues are discovered, your vet will discuss options with you and provide your dog with treatment, or referral to a specialist.

If your vet finds any health issues with your dog, you’ll be glad you caught them early. The chances of your dog making a complete recovery will be much greater.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

 

Holiday Gift List For Every Four-Legged Family Member

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Pet Holiday Gift List

What to give your favorite four-legged friends.

By Stacy Mantle

HolidayGifts4Pets

When it comes to the holidays, we all want the best for our pets. I spend the year looking for well-designed gifts that will last—and are from companies that participate in programs to benefit nonprofit organizations. If you’re looking for a gift for your dogs or cats, these are a few of my holiday picks for 2014.

For the Dogs on Your Holiday List

Ruffwear K9 Overcoat

Ruffwear-K-9-OvercoatOnce again, Ruffwear proves it is the king of outdoor wear for dogs. The redesigned K9 Overcoat is great for any climate and the durable material allows it to stand up to even the most active dog. Wind- and water-resistant outer fabric keeps the elements out, while interior fleece layer keeps body heat in. Ruffwear’s Donation Program provides product donations to organizations and events that support outdoor spaces where wildlife thrives and people and dogs recreate

Pricing begins at $65

http://www.ruffwear.com/K-9-Overcoat

ClearConscienceSliders

Clear Conscience Pets Sliders

Sliders® are formulated with meat content and ultra-low carbohydrates and are free of all chemical preservatives, including glycerins and glycols. These treats make the perfect stocking stuffer for any sized dog. Clear Conscience Pet actively supports The Potcake Foundation and the Turks and Caicos SPCA (TCSPCA) and a variety of local animal shelters.

http://www.clearconsciencepet.com/about-products/sliders

UpCountryHolidayCollarsUpCountry Collars

Perfect for a night walking with carolers. UpCountry collars come in more than 100 beautiful designs and the company offers matching leads and harnesses to complete the look. Made in the USA THE holiday collection features everything from sweaters to treats. Each year during the holiday season at Up Country, employees collect money for donation to a nonprofit organization. Up Country generously matches the total raised and the company actively participates in fundraisers for a variety of organizations.

Prices vary, but most collars begin at $20

http://www.upcountryinc.com/our-products/category/holidays

Pogo-PlushPetSafePetSafe Pogo Plush Toys

Looking for a toy that will hold up to the heaviest chewer? PetSafe offers PogoPlush toys that come complete with a migrating squeaker and an inner cage under the plush covering dogs love. Great for any size, this toy can last much longer than your standard plush toys. PetSafe plays a lead role in helping pets become respected citizens and actively participates in community initiatives to create dog parks, as well as offering tuition assistance and supporting pet-friendly communities.

Prices begin at $12.99

http://store.petsafe.net/pogo-plush

OrvisWaterTrapperOrvisDogBreedOrnaments

Orvis Pet Ornaments and Water Trapper Mats

Orvis offers an extensive line of high-quality holiday items that any dog or cat owner will love, including pet-themed ornaments, durable water-trapper tree mats, and much more. Orvis partners with customers to help the PetFinder Foundation in its mission to support rescue shelters. Orvis will match every donation dollar for dollar up to $30,000 for a total contribution of $60,000.

http://www.orvis.com/dog-products

For the Cats in Your Life

NekoTelescopingRodNekoFlies BirBug Telescoping Rod

NekoFlies brings a unique twist to the wand toy. This gliding toy features a design that will entice even the most unresponsive cat, and its telescoping rod makes it the perfect selection for playtime in the largest of rooms or the tiniest of spaces. NekoFlies regularly donates products to shelters.

http://www.nekoflies.com/index.php/neko-birbug.html

Ultimate-BlendFrom the Field Silvervine & Catnip

Silver vine is the new herb for cats who don’t generally respond to catnip. Naturally grown in Malaysia, this natural herb can give your cat a euphoric response even if she doesn’t normally respond to catnip or valerian root. Sprinkle a pinch of From the Field’s Ultimate Blend of silver vine and catnip on your cat’s favorite toy or bed, and watch the magic. Protecting the planet was the inspiration for the From the Field line of products. The company works to protect the earth from deforestation and pollution by using eco-friendly products and supporting key .

http://www.fromthefieldpet.com/silvervine.html

EcoCattypillar

Eco Cater Pillar Toy

This all-natural toy is perfect for cats who love to play. Each colorful body part is made of organic wool and sewn together with hemp twine. The natural lanolin aroma appeals to any cat and the toy can be hand-washed. As a bonus, the wool components are handmade by women in Nepal as part of the Fair Trade program, and every purchase helps support families who are involved with Snow Leopard Preservation programs.

http://honestpetproducts.com/shop/natural-cat-toys

Licks4CatsLicks for Cats

The perfect stocking stuffer comes in the form of a supplement. Individually packaged to ensure proper dosage, LICKS® offers an extensive line of products, each formulated to focus on resolving specific health and behavior conditions. (I recommend the ZEN™ formula as a calming aid to keep anxious, stressed-out or aggressive cats calm during the holidays). LICKS Liquid Vitamins contributes 5 percent of revenue to charitable organizations.

http://www.lickspillfree.com/?page_id=1084


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

Every Day Should Be National Mutts Day

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Magical Mutts

Let’s make every day National Mutts Day, not just December 2.

By Audrey Pavia

Magical Mutts

Your mutt is unique since no two mixed breed dogs are exactly alike. Regardless of the cross, it’s nearly impossible to find two that look identical.

Purebred dogs are wonderful creatures. They have been bred for hundreds of years to look and act a certain way. Purebreds are special, and the world would not be the same without them.

That said, dogs of mixed blood are also amazing in a different way. For one thing, more mixed breeds are on the planet than any other type of dog, yet each one is special.There are some good reasons to own a mixed breed dog.

Uniqueness

No two mixed breed dogs are exactly alike. Regardless of the cross, it’s nearly impossible to find two that look identical. Even deliberately bred mixes like Schnoodles (Schnauzer x Poodle) or Cockapoos (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle) are not uniform in color, shape and size. If you want a dog that looks like no other dog, a mixed breed is the pet for you.

Good Health

Due to decades of close breeding, many pure breeds suffer from common genetic illnesses. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are prone to a bleeding disorder called Von Willebrands Disease. German Shepherds have a proclivity for hip dysplasia. Standard Poodles can develop an endocrine disorder called Addison’s disease. Mixed breeds, on the other hand, are less susceptible to genetic ailments because their genes are so mixed. This notion is supported by the fact that several pet insurance companies charge lower medical premiums for mixed breed dogs than purebreds.

Availability

MagicalMutts1

With a mixed breed, not only do you have the best of several breeds in your dog, you also have a friend who will always be thankful that you love him.

Because most dogs are mixed breeds, shelters are full of them. While purebreds often end up in shelters, the vast majority of dogs picked up as strays or surrendered to animal control facilities are mixes. In fact, 75 percent of shelter dogs are mixed breeds, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Many of these dogs are homeless through no fault of their own. The result of irresponsible pet ownership, these hapless dogs are in desperate need of caring owners.

Some mixed breeds are pretty hard to figure out, most likely because they have been mixed for many generations. If you are curious about your mixed breed’s background, a company called Wisdom Panel offers an inexpensive DNA test where you can have his genes tested to see what breeds went into making him. For more information, visit www.wisdompanel.com.

Living with a mixed breed can be a fun and joyful experience. Not only do you have the best of several breeds in your dog, you also have a friend who will always be thankful that you love him.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Corral Your Independent-Minded Feline Day (Or Not)

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Celebrate National Cat Herders Day!

It really isn’t has hard to do as you think.

By Sandy Robins

HerdingCats

The expression “ It’s like herding cats” is meant to describe a seemingly impossible task—just like herding independent-minded felines.

If you are suffering from the feeling of losing gravity and find yourself spinning off into the blue yonder, you are not alone. This—among other reasons— is why a California couple, who obviously understands this state of helpless chaos, stepped forward and created a special day, declaring December 15 as National Cat Herders Day.

The expression “ It’s like herding cats” is meant to describe a seemingly impossible task—just like herding independent-minded felines….

Frankly, National Cat Herders Day is simply a good reason to stop what you are doing, open a bottle of pinot grigio, sit down on the couch and enjoy the vino, preferably with a cat on your lap.

I am not too sure where the cat reference even comes from. Yes, I know cats can be independent and pretty much have their own routines based around arranging themselves in as many sleeping positions as it’s possible to achieve in a 16-hour stretch. However, if you are going to take the action of herding cats quite literally, it’s really a very easy thing to do. Simply take a bag of treats and shake it; cats will coming running from wherever they are. Moreover, if you do the Hansel and Gretel thing of dropping treats as you walk, they will simply follow you—until you run out of treats.

HerdingCats-Treats

To herd cats, simply take a bag of treats and shake it; cats will coming running from wherever they are (getting them to stay is another matter entirely).

It’s worth noting that if you are suffering from end-of-year chaos, the power of the purr has been medically proven to be not only relaxing but a preventative measure for a heart attack. Yes, if you live with a cat you stand a 40 percent less chance of having a heart attack (all other factors being equal, of course). In addition, if you have your own mini herd of cats, well even better.

For anyone seriously considering an attempt at herding cats, stop and take a moment to watch this You Tube video. Admittedly, it is an advertisement , but it says it all. Happy holidays!


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

Dogs Offer Us Daily Lessons on Life

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Dogs Keep Teaching Us

From puppy to senior, canines offer life lessons daily.

By Ava Olsen

DogsTeachUs1

Dogs teach us about family, love, compassion and life from the beginning to the end.

What is cuter than a puppy, cute enough to melt your heart with a single look and make all the work and effort worthwhile.

When you get a puppy you sign on for a hurricane of joy and enthusiasm. Constant activity followed by crashes into deep, deep sleep and then reawakening with all batteries charged and ready to tear into life again at full speed. They are our companions for walks and adventures. They take us outside to see the trees and forests, sunsets and seasons. We work to train them, but they learn to be part of the family.

Dogs have short life spans and we know in the back of our minds when we bring that little puppy home that in a few years we will have a mature dog as part of our family and then an old dog and all of the questions and challenges that go with that. It is our own lifespan in miniature.

My dog is now 9 and has been through a series of health problems that have been heart-wrenching and costly. With so much medical technology now available to our dogs, who are our family members, we have new considerations about quality of life, health insurance and end-of-life decisions that have come to the forefront. It broke my heart to see my dog sick and struggling but I also admired his determination to keep going and to find joy in those things he was still able to do. Now that he has recovered to a point where he goes crazy for his food and loves playing with his toys, my heart feels lighter and happier. Dogs make us laugh, they give us love and unconditional acceptance. The way they approach life with such enthusiasm brings that same enthusiasm to us. They let us see the way they love life and it makes our lives better.

DogsTeachUs2

As puppies, they teach us patience; as they age, they teach us a new kind of patience, compassion, love and devotion.

As puppies, they teach us patience; as they age, they teach us a new kind of patience, compassion, love and devotion. They face sickness and death with calm resolve and, in the end, acceptance. We are left to make the decisions about care and medication. We are left to make the decision as to when the pain is too much to be tolerated. We are left to be the grownups but they always remain our teachers.

In our society where families live miles or countries apart, it is our dogs who have become our immediate families. We take them on outings, we care for them, they are there at the end of a hard day to provide a friendly face and a warm hug or face lick. They are also there to aggravate us with inappropriate or bad behavior, like any good family member.

In our society where our old relatives are put in facilities, it is our old dogs who continue to teach us about aging and end of life. Our old dogs give us the patience to go for very slow walks or “sniffing” outings. Our old dogs teach us that even though they are not cute puppies we still love and value them and want to care for them.

Why are there millions of dogs living in our homes? Dogs of all ages? They are here to teach us about family, love, compassion and life from the beginning to the end.


About the Author: Ava Olsen is a long-time dog owner and rescue advocate, and is the Brand Manager for Charlee Bear Dog Treats, headquartered in Madison, Wis. Ava spends a fair amount of time in Costa Rica each year, where she has been known to foster dogs. 

Great Products for Dogs and Cats

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Nifty New Pet Products

MudMonstersMuttluks Mud Monsters and Snow Mushers boots are made for walking, hiking, rugged terrain, snow, ice and extreme heat or cold. Made with 100 percent recycled rubber, the unique flexible soles with traction treads incorporate “barefoot” technology that makes the boots “pawsitively” comfortable for dog paws. Mud Monsters are a rugged summer boot with a breathable mesh upper fabric; Snow Mushers are a rugged winter boot with warm fleece inner lining. Both feature elastic soft-cinch fastening and are available in eight sizes and three colors. www.muttluks.com

 

TUFFKittyPuff

 

Kats ‘n Us TUFF Kitty Puffs feature colorful yarn and tinsel that are tightly woven together to outlast the hunter instinct and playfulness of any cat. The cat-pleasing toys come in assorted brilliant sparkly colors—blue, white, gold, green, red and dark pink—and are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. www.catsnus.com

 

 

 

flexi-NEONDesigned to improve safety and visibility for dog owners during evening walks, the flexi® Neon retractable leash offers highly reflective, neon components, on the leash handle break button and the 16-ft. retractable cord or tape. Highly durable, lightweight and equipped with an easy-to-use thumb breaking-system, NEON comes in three different sizes—small, medium and large. www.flexi-northamerica.com.

 

CatGlowDots-Petmate

 

Petmate’s Glow Dots cat collars incorporate glow-in-the-dark ink to provide nighttime visibility for added security. Sized 3/8 in. x 8 ½ in., the collars feature breakaway buckles to ensure cat safety while on the prowl indoors or out. The dot-patterned collars come in three colors: purple, orange and yellow. www.petmate.com

 

 

 

Fruitables-snowflake

 

Give your dog a reward as unique as he is with new Fruitables Vanilla Snowflake Flavor dog treats. Each limited edition treat pouch includes an estimated 300 snowflakes, sustainably harvested in the Rockies. To make these novelty holiday treats, Fruitables combines a snowball’s worth of real, fresh high-altitude snow with its delightful pumpkin granola and yogurt recipe. The finished product is both satisfyingly crunchy and creamy. And, with only 9 calories per treat, dogs can guiltlessly indulge without worrying about winter weight gain. www.FruitablesPetFood.com.

 

 

KttyConnectionDeluxe

 

Kitty Connection®, from Innovation Pet, is a patent-pending, modular playground featuring the SmartLink® Toys system for cats of all ages—from kitten to senior. You can choose from two starter kits, Essential or Deluxe (shown), and add-on a wide variety of accessories that connect together, allowing for endless possibilities in movement and sound attractants, creating the ultimate playground for your cat. www.innovationpet.com

 

 

 

BravoHomestyle

Bravo Pet Foods Homestyle Complete Dinners have premium meat or poultry as the No. 1 ingredient. The freeze-dried diets also contain wholesome ingredients such as organ meat and chickpeas plus a generous helping of garden vegetables and cranberries, as well as natural herbs such as turmeric and sage. Available in three different proteins—beef, pork and turkey—each dinner is 100 percent complete and balanced, low in fat and grain- and gluten-free. In addition, no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors of any kind are used. www.bravopetfoods.com

November is Pet Diabetes Month

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Living with a Diabetic Pet

Thanks to treatment  improvements, the disease is now very manageable.

By Stacy Mantle

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and as this is a disease that affects nearly every species, it’s important for pet owners to know a little about it. All types of animals, from ferrets to cats and humans to dogs, can develop diabetes.

To understand the condition, you need to know a bit about insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables a body to use sugar (glucose), which is converted from consumed food, for energy or save it for use later. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines; it then flows to the body’s cells. If the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, which acts as a key to open up cells to glucose, the sugar cannot be absorbed by the cells. This results in a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream.  

This buildup is what causes your pets want to eat constantly, but still appear to be malnourished. It is due to the cells not properly absorbing glucose for energy.

If your pet is showing signs of excessive thirst, frequent urination or acting like he or she is tired all of the time, it’s time to get some blood work done. Diabetes is one of those diseases that can sneak up on you and if you don’t pay attention, you could quickly lose your pet. Caught early, and your pets can live a normal, healthy life.

 

Types of Diabetes in Pets

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces no insulin at all. For Type 2, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body’s cells don’t respond well or have become resistant to it.

Dogs tend to develop insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1), which means they will need injections—probably forever. Cats, however, are more commonly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which can usually be handled with oral medication and diet changes.

 

Diagnosing Diabetes in Pets

If your veterinarian suspects diabetes in your pet, she will likely need to perform a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis to confirm diagnosis. While this may seem like a lot of tests, they are important as it allows the vet to accurately confirm the dosage levels required to help your pet.

It’s also important to remember that many pets react very strongly to being at the veterinarian’s office, and this can effect or change their actual levels. Running multiple tests will help confirm what is really going on while also ruling out other things that could affect your pet’s health.

 

Treating Diabetes in Pets

After your veterinarian has reached the conclusion your pet has diabetes, she will select an insulin type and dosage for your pet. The dosage needs to be closely monitored for the first few months to ensure it is accurate and effective. Every animal responds differently to the treatment and it’s up to the vet to establish how well your pet is doing with it.

In severe cases, your veterinarian might ask you to leave your pet at the hospital for a few days so she can quickly establish the best dosage through close monitoring.

Learn more about pet diabetes, its signs and risk factors with this downloadable brochure from Merck Animal Health.

 

Diet and Exercise

You might also need to change your pet’s diet to a prescription food or other vet-recommended food. It is very important that you monitor your pet’s diet, including treats, for the rest of his life. You need to be extra careful not to let your pet eat from the table or get into garbage as this can seriously affect his blood-sugar levels.

Currently, most vets recommend that dogs stay on high-fiber diets, since fiber seems to help increase the effect of insulin in dogs. Cats with diabetes, however, should be on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. Sugars, obviously, need to be avoided. This is often simple to do for cats, but dogs tend to have a harder time controlling their intake of sugar.

Exercise is also very important. You will want to make sure your dog is getting plenty of walks and playtime to keep him active—it will tremendously help him to manage this condition.  

 

Injections

Most pets could require injections twice a day—after each meal. You might have to modify your pet’s feeding schedule. You will also need to learn how to give these injections subcutaneously (under the skin). This might seem intimidating, but you can quickly learn this simple task. The needles are quite small and, in most cases, your pet will not even feel it—especially after you’ve had some practice.  Work closely with your veterinarian to learn how to give these injections. They are very, very important to maintaining your pet’s health.

In some cases (such as with Type 2), oral medication can be used instead of insulin injections. The treatment plan will depend on your veterinarian and how advanced your pet’s condition is (which is one more reason why you need to catch it early).

 

Glucose Testing

Your pet will need to have glucose tests to monitor his insulin levels. In the beginning, he might need to have a glucose curve established—blood -sugar levels are monitored every 2 to 4 hours for a 24-hour period. This test tells the veterinarian how well your pet is adjusting to the insulin.

After the initial curve is established, you should be able to monitor your pet with ongoing veterinarian appointments or by measuring the levels at home with a glucometer. You’ll want to learn more about this process because many things can affect how your pet responds daily to insulin day.

If you suspect your dog or cat has diabetes, be sure to get him into the veterinarian right away. This is a very manageable disease and the science used in preventing and treatment is improving every day.


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

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