Belly rubs for cats

“My cat rolls over but if I try to rub her belly, she will scratch and bite, why does she do this?” is a question I am often asked by cat owners. People who are familiar with dogs and have experienced the dog that rolls over to have his belly scratched, assume that cats want the same thing.

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When a cat, rolls over it is a defensive position that they use when they cannot out run an attacker. This allows them to use the claws on all four feet for defense.

However, some cats do roll over and lay on their back because they enjoy it. They will do this when they feel comfortable enough in their environment to expose their vital organs.

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If you have a kitten, you can get the kitten used to being handled and petted by gently handling all their body parts in a caressing manner. This will allow a veterinarian and you to examine the cat for lumps, bumps and injuries without too much stress to the cat.

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If you gently pet a kitten sometimes the kitten will allow you to rub its belly. If the kitten seems to enjoy this, you can do it as a sign of affection. Often a kitten will playfully hit your hand with its front and hind feet. As long as it is playful and no teeth and claws scratch or bite, this can be a fun time for the kitten and owner. But if the cat offers its belly but does not like to be touched there, it is best to accept the friendly gesture as a compliment and do not try to rub their belly.

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Rat bite fever

Many people have rodents as pets and they can make wonderful pets for people who do not have room for a larger pet or cannot have a dog, cat or bird. However, although it is rare, rat bite fever can be transmitted by pet rodents, either through a bite or scratch. Rats, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs and ferrets are capable of transmitting rat bite fever. Rat bite fever is an old disease that has been recorded for over 2300 years.

Rat bite fever is caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis which is the most common cause. The symptoms include fever, pain in joints, nausea, rash and vomiting and can be fatal if not treated.

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Children, pet store workers, veterinary technicians, veterinarians and laboratory technicians are in the higher risk group since they handle rodents on a regular basis. People who frequently handle rodents can wear protective gloves to prevent being bitten.  Parents should monitor children who have rodents as pets and if they are bitten or scratched, notify your pediatrician.

Socializing a pet rodent is a precautionary measure that will reduce the chance of being bitten. Rodents can be trained using clicker training methods which will also help to reduce the chances of being bitten by teaching the rodent to come to you.

Always be careful not to frighten or startle a rodent. Avoid trying to handle a rodent that is sleeping. A tap on the cage or talking to the rodent before handling it can calm the rodent and allow the pet to be aware that it is going to be handled. Using common sense will help prevent being bitten and avoid rat bite fever. 

Keep in mind that rat bite fever can also be transmitted by wild rodents. If there are wild rodents in your area and they are trapped, use caution in removing them or handling predators that might have caught and killed a rodent.

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151223141151.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fplants_animals%2Fanimals+%28Animals+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1797630/

Chronic kidney disease in cats

If your cat is ten years old or older, there is a 33% chance that your cat will get chronic kidney disease, (CKD). Cats that have CKD often have a number of signs and complications which include, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, anemia, hypertension and urinary tract infections (UTI).

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Because standard tests can be iffy, diagnosing CKD may not be easy for a veterinarian. To help veterinarians, cats and their owners, the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of International Cat Care, formed an international panel of veterinarians from the UK, France, Australia and North America to analyze CKD.

They found that dietary management is one of the best therapies, but often it is difficult to get a cat to eat the prescription diets. They also found that routine blood pressure monitoring and the use of antihypertension medications helped reduce damage to other organs such as the eyes and heart, thus prolonging the quality of the cat’s life. While there is no cure as yet, it is heartening that veterinarians continue to search for ways to help our pets live longer, quality lives.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160302121038.htm

Large carnivore attacks on humans

Studies have shown that at least half of the attacks on humans by brown bear, black bear, polar bear, puma, wolf and coyote are due to risks that humans take. Most are due to the fact that people do not understand how to act in areas where these animals live. This is not limited to North America, the studies have been conducted since 1955 in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Spain.

If you are going hiking, camping, hunting or visiting areas where these animals live do not go jogging at night, leave children unattended, approach a female with young, walk a dog unleashed.

Bears are attracted to food, so find out the safe ways to have food if you are camping. Local rangers can advise you what works in their area. Do not feed wild animals, this teaches them to approach humans.

Recently in certain parts of the United States and Canada, coyotes and wolves have interbred creating the coywolf.

These animals are typically bolder than wolves and no one is sure what the mix of wolf or coyote they are, if they are more of one or the other. If they are in the area where you live, you must take precautions if you have pets, especially outdoor cats, since they prey on small dogs and cats. If you live in a rural area where there is a large population of feral cats you can expect that coyotes and coywolves are in the area.

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This makes it important to understand how to protect yourself, pets and family from these animals. Often if an animal attacks a human, the animal must be destroyed, even if the attack was defensive and not aggressive. By being careful and avoiding confrontation, you are protecting yourself and saving the life of the animal.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160204111357.htm

Jewel of Persia, by Roseanna M. White

Jewel of Persia, by Roseanna M. White, White Fire Publishing, ISBN: 978-0976544470 available on Amazon, 346 pgs.

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Jewel of Persia is an amazing book. It is a Christian based historical fiction that I could not put down. The main character is a woman named Kasia, who is friends with Esther from the book of Esther in the Bible.

The story tells how Kasia is chosen by King Xerxes to be one of his wives, and becomes his favorite. She is the only person who can calm his temper. As a Jewess, Kasia can never be queen but she has a strong influence over the king. This makes her a target by Jewish hating members of the royal household as well as the wives that are jealous because she is the king’s favorite. The tension and drama in this book make it a real page turner.

Ms. White did a great deal of research about the time of Esther which gives the reader a fascinating, clear view of what life was like in Biblical times. The loyalty of the Jewish people to Jehovah, the Biblical character’s and the real events from the book of Esther make it hard to believe that this book is fiction.

A parasitic worm that infects the eyes of dogs

The worm, Thelazia callipaeda is transmitted by a fruit fly and is capable of infecting mammals including dogs, cats and humans. Three dogs in the UK have been infected that were imported from Europe. The adult worms live in the mammal’s eyes and the tissues around the eye. The infection manifests itself as mild conjunctivitis to severe corneal ulceration which if left untreated can lead to blindness.

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The discovery was made by a research team led by John Graham-/Brown at the University of Liverpool.  In light of the fact that so many people travel abroad and import dogs and cats, it is a wise idea to keep this information in mind in the event that you or your pet develops eye problems. With the history of how illnesses are spread, there is no doubt in my mind that it is just a matter of time until this parasite reaches the U.S. and other countries.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170918222244.htm

Dog aggression may be related to hormone levels

According to research conducted by Evan MacLean at the University of Arizona and published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology they found that the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin may be linked to aggression in dogs. Both hormones are also found in humans.

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Dogs that tested to be more aggressive had higher levels of vasopressin. What is interesting is that further research of dogs bred to be assistance dogs who are bred specifically to be non-aggressive, had higher levels of oxytocin and higher oxytocin-to-vasopressin ratios. What this means is that oxytocin may help inhibit aggression.

Researchers also found that experience can influence the level of vasopressin in a dog. Often aggression results from a traumatic experience which alters the hormone levels resulting in a form of PTSD. On the flip side, positive experiences such as socialization with people and other animals in a non-threatening manner can raise the oxytocin levels.

The good news is that in humans, they are already using hormone therapies to help people with autism, schizophrenia and other problems such as PTSD. Perhaps this will lead to therapies for dogs that are extremely aggressive.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170927162032.htm

Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings

Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings, self-published, ISBN: 9781522042914,  $10.50, 341 pgs. Is a unique blend of genuine search and rescue work by SAR dogs, factual history and a few ghosts added for extra drama. Although this is a self-published book, I have to rate it very high in writing quality. It flows well and is well organized. The physical aspects of the book are good as well.

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Ghosts of Iwo Jima is a story about a team of men and woman, and two special dogs, who go to Iwo Jima to find the remains of five Marines that died on the island during WWII. The book takes us to the historically factual battle and gives the reader a genuine feel for a war situation. Most of the search takes place in an area the Marines named the Amphitheater where the five Marines went missing.

The realism of the story is due to the fact that the author served in the Marines during Vietnam and made the Marines his career serving from 1964 to 1988, including being a part of the Combined Action Program, served in the infantry and reconnaissance units. He is also a SAR dog handler with the Great Basin K9 SAR unit.

The dogs are a Cadaver dog and a Military explosives detection dog. The cadaver dog must find the bodies and the explosive detection dog must clear the area of unexploded ordnance before the team can search.

What I especially liked was the conflict between the characters, one specialist did not understand and believe the capabilities of the dogs, and the Japanese commander who was in charge of the island and was misinformed as to the intent of the team’s search. The two ghosts that were involved in the mission were enemies and did their best to influence the outcome of the mission. The bad ghost tried to kill the dogs and sabotage the mission, while the other ghost communicated to the team to guide them. The way all of the elements of the story blended together is excellent.

The dialog in the book has a real-life sound to it, making the reader feel as if they are a part of the team. The pressure that the team felt is evident to the reader, since the team was allotted only ten days by the Japanese to find the missing remains.

All of the technical aspects of the book are true to life, the searching, the forensic work and the obstacles that the team faced. The ending is excellent, with an unexpected surprise. Of the many books that I have reviewed, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and wished there were more missions to come, in another book, for the team. For his first book, Joe Jennings did an outstanding job.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or can you?

Lisa Wallis and Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at Vetmeduni Vienna have designed tests to study the effect of aging on cognitive processes such as learning, memory and logical reasoning in dogs. Something that has not be explored previously.

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The researchers tested 95 Border Collies that ranged in age from 5 months to 13 years. They picked this breed because of their reputation as fast learners and because as a popular pet, there were enough dogs available for testing.

The dogs were divided into five age groups and tested for learning, logical reasoning and memory. The test involved a touchscreen with images on it. What the researchers found was that older dogs learned more slowly with less flexibility in their thinking. However, logical reasoning increased with age. Also, long-term memory was not affected by age, all of the dogs were retested six months later and all had no problem recalling the positive images.

So, you can teach an old dog new tricks, although it may take longer. As a certified animal behavior consultant, I find that older dogs are more likely to have formed habits that are harder for them to break. If the new trick, or task requires them to change a habit, it may be hard for them to accomplish that, the same as it is for people.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160202121818.htm

Moving with a pet By Cindy Aldridge guest blogger

Whether it’s across town or across the country, moving is one of the most difficult, most stressful processes of our lives. Finding a new place; selling the old place; purging, packing, unpacking; redecorating, setting up utilities, change-of- address forms. And those are just the logistics. Never mind the mental and emotional toll moving can have on a person… or a pet.

Us humans? We know exactly what is happening. While a move may be stressful, we’ve probably done it (multiple times) before. Plus, we can take comfort in the fact that it will all be over soon enough. With some guidance, even young children can understand that, in a few days or weeks, they will be settling into a new home surrounded by all the possessions and people they love.

Our pets, on the other hand, have no idea what’s going on or what to expect. Animals, much like people, are creatures of habit. For this reason, a big transition can cause them just as much stress as it does us. That’s why it is important to take extra care of your furry friends throughout the moving process.

Tip # 1 – Keep your pet healthy.

Even the healthiest pets need extra care in the midst of a move. If you’re traveling to your new home via car, transport your small pets in a secure, well-ventilated carrier. Large dogs that cannot be contained in a crate should be kept on a leash at all times. You should also pay close attention to temperature, and never leave your pet in the car for extended periods of time. If possible, let your pet eat, drink, and exercise according to his or her normal schedule, and stop frequently for potty breaks.

If you think your pet may suffer from motion sickness, there are medications that can make his or her trip more comfortable. Check with your veterinarian for an over-the- counter recommendation or prescription. He or she should also be able to provide guidance when it comes to dosage amounts and frequency. For pets that suffer from chronic illness or disease, keep medications on hand.

Tip # 2 – Keep your pet safe.

From pet hazards at the new home to the increased likelihood of losing a pet, moving presents a variety of safety concerns of which every pet owner should be aware. First and foremost, you should create a safe space at your new home for your pets. The space should be free of possible poisons, electrical or heat sources, choking hazards, falling objects, and escape routes. It should be full of items that bring your pet comfort, like favorite toys and familiar bedding or blankets.

In the event your pet were to escape or run away from your new home, a little advance preparation could go a long way when it comes to getting your furry friend back safe and sound.

Purchase and attach new tags to your pet’s collar prior to your move, and don’t forget to register your microchip with your new information. (Hint: Use a cell phone number and email address that won’t change, instead of a landline or physical address.)

Tip # 3 – Keep your pet happy.

Once you’re in your new home, it will take some time for your pet to adapt. You can help them adapt to their new normal simply by spending time showing them around their new home. Once all the boxes are unpacked and everything is in its place, take your pet on a guided tour of their new space. Show them where they’ll eat, sleep, and play. And don’t forget the outdoors. For the first few weeks, some pets may try to find their way back to their old home. Keeping them on a leash while they explore their new surroundings will ensure they stay close.

Finally, don’t forget to show your pets lots of love. Reward them with treats, playtime, and cuddles when they do well, and be consistent with their new routine. In a few weeks time, just like the rest of the family, your pets should acclimate to their new home and any stress or anxiety caused by the move should be relieved.

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Image via Pexels