Pet treats, food and health insurance

In my post about finding the right dog food I listed a very informative link to a site that evaluates dog food. I have since learned that these evaluators have links to cat food, cat treats, dog treats and pet insurance. It is just as important to feed your dog or cat quality treats as it is to feed them quality food, especially if you give them a lot of treats.

Keep in mind that snacking a lot can make a pet put on weight. So, if you are using a lot of treats, especially when training your pet, you may want to decrease their food to compensate. Also, keep in mind that as your pet gets older, they will tend to put on weight (the same as many people do). If your pet tends to put on weight, look for a treat that has few calories. Some treats have only 3 or so calories.

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Health insurance is another very confusing issue for many pet owners. There are so many options and prices. However, considering how expensive veterinarian bills can be, especially for catastrophic illnesses, it is a good idea to have insurance. What options you pick will depend on what you can afford to pay for without insurance. When choosing the right policy for you, take into consideration what your income will be at the end of your pet’s life. This is the time when your pet may need the most veterinarian care. Cost consideration is especially important if you will be retired or near retirement as your pet ages. Taking the time to research treats, food, and insurance will benefit you and your pet in the long run.

Cat food: http://www.reviews.com/cat-food/​
Cat treats: http://www.reviews.com/cat-treats/​
Dog treats: http://www.reviews.com/dog-treats/​
Pet insurance: http://www.reviews.com/pet-insurance/​

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Keeping cats safe outdoors

Many cats enjoy being outdoors as much as dogs do, but unfortunately it is not safe to allow a cat to roam outdoors. There are many dangers a cat faces while outdoors that do not necessarily threaten a dog. Cats can be prey for large canines, including dogs, coyotes, wolves and even a fox.

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They are exposed to parasites of all types, including ticks, fleas, and various worms. This is especially risky if the cat catches small rodents.

Feral cats can also pose a problem by attacking and passing diseases to your cat. So what is a cat owner to do?

One option is to teach your cat to walk on a leash. Some cats enjoy doing this if they are taught properly. The first step is to be sure that your cat has a collar with ID tags or is micro chipped in the event that the cat should get away from you. Since cats do not like having pressure on their necks, you should use a harness for the cat.

The first step is to get the cat used to the harness indoors. You can do this by putting it on while you give the cat a special treat that they love and only get for wearing the harness. Clicker training the cat also works very well.

Once the cat is used to wearing the harness, you can lure the cat around your house with the special treat to get the cat used to walking with the harness on. As soon as the cat is used to that, you can attach a leash to the harness and lure the cat with the treat.

It is important to avoid pulling on the leash to get the cat to follow you, rather lure the cat with the treat.

Once the cat is willing to follow you, try doing it outside near your home or in your backyard. Gradually increase the distance that you walk with your cat. It is OK if you can only walk your cat in the backyard.

Keep in mind that your cat may be frightened by the outdoors and only feel comfortable in your backyard. Cats typically do not like noise and strange people if they are too close.

If your cat does not enjoy being outdoors on a leash you have other options. A nice window or enclosed porch can be enjoyable for a cat, or a cat “pen.” See https://www.pinterest.com/explore/outdoor-cat-enclosure/?lp=true for some ideas. Keep in mind that if you use a cat pen, you need to protect your cat from hawks as well, especially if the cat is small or a kitten.

Never force a cat to go outdoors if they do not enjoy being there. Some cats never get used to being on a harness. It is important to pay close attention to see if your cat is enjoying the experience. Some cats are very happy being an indoor only cat with a large window to look out of.

If your cat is one of those who do enjoy being outdoors, make sure that you check with your veterinarian to get tick and flea as well as parasite prevention measures to keep your cat safe. All of your cat’s yearly shots must be up-to-date as well.

Happy cat walking!

 

Excessive licking in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats will groom themselves by licking their fur. This is normal. They will lick their owners as a sign of affection as well. Licking can be a form of play and to let you know they are hungry. If the owner pays attention to their pet when they lick, it can reinforce the behavior, encouraging the pet to do it more often.

However, some pets will engage in excessive licking. Only the owner can determine if the pet is licking more than normal. Excessive licking is a compulsive behavior and the pet may lick everything in sight. This is not good for the pet and the family. Do not try to “correct” this behavior, it will only make it worse.

The first thing a pet owner must do is schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Excessive licking can be due to allergies, including food allergies. Other causes are boredom, stress, pain and diseases.

Try to recall if anything in the pet’s environment brought about the excessive licking. Changes are especially suspect, did you move, change the pet’s food, bed, alter the environment such as adding or taking away furniture, someone in the family moving in or out, a new pet, neighbor or any other change that the pet is aware of. Even a family member changing jobs, or a family crisis can affect a pet.

The easiest way to correct excessive licking is to give the pet an alternative activity. If the pet is a dog, give the dog a chew toy when he starts to lick. Praise the dog for chewing the toy. If the pet is a cat offer a toy for the cat to play with and interact with the cat. Be sure to give the pet a good rubdown or petting when they stop licking. If the pet tries to lick family members gently say “no” and give them something to chew or an activity.

If the excessive licking was due to a change in the home environment it may take a few weeks for the pet to adjust to the change. If the behavior does not stop or if it increases, it is best to consult with a certified canine or feline behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaabc.org  With time and patience, excessive licking can often be cured.

Diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats can develop diarrhea and vomiting for several reasons. One of the most common causes for diarrhea is a sudden change in diet, such as changing the pet’s food. High quality food is always better but if the pet has been eating poor quality food and then is switched to high quality food too quickly, diarrhea may result. If you are going to change your pet’s food it should be done gradually over at least a week. Keep in mind that high quality food is only available in specialty shops. Examples of high quality food are Wysong and Annamaet.

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Sometimes a pet will eat garbage or other food that they find and that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Eating grass often results in vomiting.

However, unresolved diarrhea and vomiting can be a sign of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in both dogs and cats. It usually occurs in middle age, in older pets and certain breeds of dogs. Those breeds are: Basenjis, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, German Shepherd Dogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Shar-peis, Rottweilers, Weimaraners, Border Collies, and Boxers.

IBD can be managed with daily medications and regular visits to the veterinarian. If your pet has diarrhea or vomiting for 24 hours or more, you must get them to your veterinarian right away. Even if it is not IBD, your pet is at risk of dehydration.

For an excellent article go to:

http://www.vetdepot.com/in-depth-look-at-inflammatory-bowel-disease-dogs-cats.html

Whole genome sequencing is helping to identify rare feline genetic disorders

 

Whole genome sequencing looks at the complete DNA sequence to identify anomalies that cause disease. This process allows veterinarians to provide more effective treatment for the diseases that they identify.

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Scientists at the University of Missouri, using the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Consortium established at Mizzou by Leslie Lyons, the Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine, have identified genetic variants that cause progressive retinal atrophy and Niemann-Pick type 1 which is a fatal disorder in domestic cats.

These studies will help domestic cats as well as their close relative the African black-footed cat which also suffers from these disorders.

DNA sequencing has helped in previous studies by identifying a genetic link between degenerative myelopathy in dogs and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in people.

It is exciting to read about the progress that is being made by scientists that will eventually help both people and animals live a longer, quality of life.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511115938.htm

Cats seem to be able to understand the laws of physics

Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan led by Saho Takagi published their findings in Springer’s journal, Animal Cognition. In previous tests, researchers determined that cats can determine the location of invisible items based on their hearing alone. The latest study showed that cats responded to articles dropped from a container more when the container was shaken and made a rattling sound then they did to containers that had an object in them but did not make a rattling sound.

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“Cats use a causal-logical understanding of noise or sounds to predict the appearance of invisible objects,” say Takagi. Since many cat’s hunt in low-light situations, this is a necessary association for them. This is one step closer to understanding the abilities of cats.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160614114410.htm

Medicating a cat

Medicating a cat can be one of the most difficult tasks that a cat owner faces. Most cats do not like to take medications. It is difficult to give a cat liquid medications, but they can be squirted into the side of the cat’s mouth, if you can hold the cat while doing it. Some pharmacy’s will compound medications for pets, using a chicken or beef flavor, which can make giving liquid medications easier.

However, giving a cat pills is even more difficult. Most cats are hard to hold and it is almost impossible to drop a pill into the back of the cat’s mouth far enough so that they must swallow it. If you miss, the pill can become wet with saliva and fall apart or be less likely to slide down the cat’s throat on a second try.

Trying to pry a cat’s mouth open when they know a pill is coming can result in being bitten. Janna Hautala, MSc (pharmacy) is addressing this problem by experimenting with flavored and flavor coated minitablets for cats. If she succeeds, cats may enjoy taking their medications, which will be a bonus for both them and the cat’s owner.

In the meantime, a pill popper is a good way to place a pill in the back of a cat’s mouth so that they swallow it. This helps to prevent the owner from being bitten and will help keep the pill dry until it is placed in the cat’s mouth.

There are two basic types, one is the Kruuse Buster Pet Pill/Tablet Syringe with Soft Tip and the other is called a pill gun.

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The best way to use them is to tilt the cat’s head back, pry open the cat’s mouth by squeezing the back of the cat’s mouth on both sides to force it open with one hand and then quickly put the pill gun in the back of the mouth and dispense the pill. Quickly close the cat’s mouth and hold it until the cat swallows the pill. If the cat loves a special treat you can give the cat the treat the instant the cats swallows the pill.

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Timing and rewarding the cat is essential or the cat will fight when it is time for the next pill. Of course, the best thing a cat owner can do is teach the cat or kitten to allow you to open their mouth and give them a pill. This can be done by going through the motions of giving the cat a pill but instead of a pill, they are given a small, pill sized treat that they love. It also helps if the cat only gets that treat when you practice giving the cat a pill. Make sure that the treat is easy to swallow and does not hurt the cat’s mouth or throat.

 It is essential that the cat owner practice giving the cat treat as a pill at least every other day. Hopefully in the near future, there will be cat pills that cats like to take.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170322103701.htm

Cats can suffer from high blood pressure

 

Most people do not realize that cats suffer from high blood pressure the same as humans. High blood pressure or hypertension is more common in older cats and often goes undetected.

Hypertension in cats can cause a multitude of health issues, such as organ damage to the eyes, heart, brain, and kidneys and even blindness.

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The good news is that your veterinarian can easily check your cat’s blood pressure with a cuff that is put on the cat’s hind leg or tail. It is a painless procedure.

If you have an older cat it may be a good idea to have your cat’s BP checked when you get your cat’s yearly wellness check. High BP can be treated and treatment can prevent serious health issues. Talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s blood pressure.

 www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170301105503.htm

Chronic colitis in cats

Chronic colitis in cats has been an ongoing problem for cat owners and veterinarians alike. Cats who have it suffer from diarrhea that comes and goes. Often the bowel movements are soft, like a ‘cow pie’ and can have blood and/or mucus in it. The most common cause is a protozoan Tritrichomonas foetus which typically infects the large bowel.

The cats that are most affected are young, about one year of age, come from catteries, shelters or places where there are multiple cats. This infection is transmitted both by feces and orally. What makes this a difficult infection to treat is that it does not respond to most medications. The only medication that seems to work is ronidazole. However, the effectiveness of this drug is in question.

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For multiple cat households or multiple cat environments cleanliness is the best preventative measure that a cat owner can take. More research needs to be done and hopefully can resolve this issue in cats.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170320104032.htm

Brominated flame retardants found in cats

This is a short article but important. A recent study found that indoor cats have a high level of brominated flame retardants in their blood as a result of inhaling the dust in homes. Previous studies found that cats who developed Feline Hyperthyroidism had high levels of flame retardants, but now researchers have found it in healthy cats as well.

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As the flame retardant materials age the particles that come from them become part of the dust in a home. What is especially important to be aware of is that other pets, humans, and especially small children also breathe in the dust.

The flame retardants make up part of furniture, electronics, and even various fabrics. So what can we do about it? I have found an air cleaner that can help reduce the dust in a home. I personally have used the Fresh Air Surround air purifier for years and find it helps keep my home allergy free. I picked that model because it kills germs as well, an added benefit, and does a great job of killing household odors, including litter box odor.

I strongly urge everyone to consider this air purifier. You can get more information from David Scharikin, at Finance2@ptd.net or call him at 570-325-2433. There are a number of models to choose from. And no, I do not make a commission for passing this information along. As a pet owner, dogs, cats and birds, and allergic to many indoor and outdoor irritants, it has made my life much better.

FMI: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170224092516.htm