Feb 08

Tips for New Pet Parents

Tips for new pet parents(BPT) – Whether you’re acquiring a new puppy or kitten for your household or adopting an adult pet from a shelter or rescue organization, the following tips will help you get off on the right foot with your newest family member.

* What’s up, doc? Just as you require regular visits to your doctor and dentist to make sure you stay healthy, so does your new pet. A veterinary visit should be a once-a-year event, minimum, and more frequent check-ups may be needed, depending on your pet’s age and health status. Regular visits are likely to include a thorough exam, weigh-in, immunizations and parasite checks (a heartworm test and fecal exam). Blood tests and dental cleanings are also routine procedures.

* Healthy eating. Your new pet may be eyeing your plate with interest, but don’t give in. Pets shouldn’t eat like people. Cats are carnivores; they need plenty of protein in their diets – roughly twice the percentage that you do – and they need it in the form of meat, poultry or fish. And while your dog, like you, is an omnivore, that doesn’t mean he should share your meals. A food formulated especially for dogs is much better and treats should make up no more than 10 percent of a dog’s caloric intake.

* Parasite prevention. You’ve probably heard of pests like heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks but understanding how and when to prevent them is a different matter. Dogs and cats can become infected with heartworms, although the resulting disease differs somewhat between the two species. Heartworm disease can be deadly, or it can reduce the quality of life of both dogs and cats. Mosquitoes spread heartworms and dogs and cats need to be protected year-round, thanks to a mosquito’s ability to survive in a variety of environments. A bonus is that many heartworm preventives also protect pets against other internal parasites. For more information on how to protect your new pet against heartworms and other parasites, talk to your veterinarian and visit the American Heartworm society website at heartwormsociety.org.

* Bathing. Most of us wouldn’t dream of letting a day go by without a shower or bath. But daily bathing is unnecessary for pets and can dry out their skin and hair. Most dogs are fine with a bath every three months, unless they get extra dirty or have silky hair. Cats usually keep themselves clean without any help although brushing long-haired cats on a regular basis is advised to keep their fur tangle-free and help prevent hairballs.

* Making a connection. Dogs and cats relate to their owners in different ways. As a pack animal, dogs expect you to lead their pack and give them rules to follow. Dogs make faces – in fact, it’s estimated that they have 100 different facial expressions, thanks to their mobile ears. Cats attach to their people as social partners and use affectionate behaviors, such as purring, kneading and rubbing against you to show their affection. They’re also quite vocally expressive and can produce more than 100 different sounds.

* Sleep habits. While cats have a reputation for dozing, both cats and dogs spend more than half their time in slumber. Like babies, puppies and kittens sleep more than adults, although their sleep patterns can be erratic. Keep in mind that excessive sleeping can be a sign of boredom. Most pets will be glad to forego a nap for playtime or a walk.

Bringing a pet into your home is one of the greatest joys in life, but it means new responsibilities. Understanding your pet’s behavior, as well as the do’s and don’ts of pet health care, will help make your bond with your pet a lasting one.

Feb 08

Easy ways to improve your pet’s quality of life

Easy ways to improve your pet's quality of life(BPT) – Pet ownership is more than just a privilege – it is a responsibility. While pet owners spend ample time and money purchasing elaborate outfits, accessories and toys for their pets, what truly matters is when owners take the initiative to install healthy habits and routines that enhance their pets’ lives.

Across America, veterinarians have witnessed a decline in annual vet visits, resulting in increased rates of preventable diseases in both cats and dogs. In fact, about 54 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs are reported to be obese. As a result, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are on the rise – diseases that are preventable if identified early on.

“Many pet owners are too busy or just skip annual checkups,” says Ron DeHaven, DVM and chairman for Partners for Healthy Pets, a committee of the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation that was created to ensure that pets receive preventive health care. “That’s why we have seen an increase in preventable diseases in cats and dogs. What we need to be sure pet owners realize is that annual veterinary checkups are as important as food and love to a pet’s health and well-being.”

By committing your pet to a healthy routine, you can do your part to ensure they live the happiest, longest life possible. If you want the best for your pet, forget the chevron-striped collar this year and instead focus on these simple tips:

Schedule annual checkups

No one knows your pet as well as you do, but veterinarians are trained to detect diseases before they become costly issues for both you and your pet. Make it a habit to schedule an annual checkup for your pet every year, using your pet’s birthday or adoption date as a reminder. There is no better gift you can give to your pet than a long, healthy life and annual checkups are an easy way to ensure your pet is receiving preventive care on a regular basis.

Provide a proper diet

You love your pet and your pet loves treats, but feeding your pet an excessive amount of food and spoiling them with treats can lead to rapid weight gain. If you are not sure how much you should be feeding your pet, consult your veterinarian. Simple dietary swap-outs can help your pet maintain a healthy weight and decrease the chances of developing health complications.

Exercise regularly

It seems like a simple thing to remember. However, busy schedules and daily stresses often cause people to either forget to exercise their pet or move it to the bottom of the to-do list. Commit yourself and your pet to a consistent exercise routine. Only have 10 minutes to take Spot to the park? That’s OK too. Small intervals of exercise each day can make a world of difference long-term.

Offer love and affection

Anyone who has loved a pet can testify to the relationship’s emotional benefits. The warm welcome you receive at the front door after a long day at work, the wagging tail you hear as you prepare your pet’s dinner and the head nestled in your lap each night as you watch the news are only some of the rewards of being a dog owner. It is important to reciprocate this love even in small ways, such as a quick scratch behind the ears or tossing a tennis ball around the back yard. Caring for your pet with enduring love and affection will bring you happiness and help enhance your morale daily.

Feb 08

Is the protein in your pet’s food causing a deadly disease?

Dachshund puppy lounging around

Dachshund puppy lounging around

(BPT) – You’ve seen the commercials and print ads: It seems like every pet food maker is touting meat as a top ingredient. Some even go so far as to eliminate grain completely, advertising super-high levels of protein for dogs or cats. But when it comes to pet food and protein, can there be too much of a good thing? According to the experts: yes.

“There’s no arguing that quality meat is important in dog and cat foods, but too much of commonly-used protein-rich ingredients for long periods of time can have devastating consequences for pets with subclinical kidney disease,” says Dr. Daniel Aja, DVM and director of U.S. professional and veterinary affairs for Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “Just like our diet must be balanced, this is especially important for our pets which rely on us for 100 percent of their nutritional needs.”

Dr. Aja explains that every dog and cat needs the amino acids that are present in proteins. While those amino acids may come from meat, many can also come from vegetables and grains in the diet. Protein is important and necessary to build muscles, organs, vital hormones and enzymes, but excessive levels derived from the animal protein ingredients commonly used in pet foods can lead to elevated phosphorus levels.

“Research shows that excess phosphorous beyond the nutritional requirements of your pet can place unnecessary and harmful stress on your pet’s kidneys,” says Dr. Aja. “Over time, this can accelerate the progression of chronic kidney disease.”

Pet owners feeding their cats and dogs too much phosphorous from common animal protein ingredients may unknowingly contribute to the progression of chronic kidney disease. Considering kidney disease is the No. 1 killer of cats and the No. 2 killer of dogs, it’s an important message for all pet parents.

“The importance of controlled phosphorus levels for pets parallels the importance in human health care and disease prevention,” explains Dr. Aja. “Health care professionals apply the same reasoning to human diets in regard to foods high in cholesterol, fat and sodium.”

Research shows that controlling and moderating levels of dietary phosphorus is important in slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease in dogs and cats. To maintain healthy phosphorus levels, Hill’s – maker of Science Diet, Ideal Balance and Prescription Diet brand pet foods – uses multiple protein sources, both animal and plant-based, in their foods.

“Since signs of kidney disease are often not evident until the disease is very progressed, keeping dietary protein and phosphorus levels in check is a good preventive step every pet owner should take,” advises Dr. Aja.

Since seemingly normal pets can have undetected kidney disease, it’s important to discuss your pet’s diet with your veterinarian. Dr. Aja says if you see these warning signs of kidney disease, call your veterinarian right away:

1. Increased thirst and urine production

2. Decreased appetite

3. Weight loss

4. Bad breath

5. Vomiting and diarrhea

6. Sore mouth

7. Muscle weakness

8. Lack of energy

9. Decreased grooming habits in cats

When it comes to the pet food you give your pet, a balanced approach is best. Always purchase food from companies with certified veterinary nutritionists on staff. You can call the 1-800 number on a bag of pet food to confirm this information and to ensure your pet food maker is controlling the level of dietary phosphorus in its products.

“Balancing protein and controlling the level of phosphorus in the diet throughout an animal’s adult life is key to optimal nutrition and will benefit pets that have undiagnosed kidney disease,” Dr. Aja says. “Ask your veterinarian for a dietary recommendation based on your pet’s needs. Proper, balanced nutrition is the best form of preventative medicine for your pet.”

Feb 08

Five simple steps to being a great pet owner

Dachshund puppy lounging around

Dachshund puppy lounging around

(BPT) – Brushing your teeth and getting dressed in the morning are among the daily routines that are second nature to humans. But you may not always remember that your pets need regular care too – like avoiding potentially harmful table scraps, being protected from pesky fleas and ticks, keeping the sensitive pads of their paws safe from ever-changing weather conditions, and getting regular veterinary care.

The following are five, simple steps to help keep your pets healthy and happy from Cristiano von Simson, DVM, MBA, director of Veterinary Technical Services, Bayer HealthCare, Animal Health Division, and proud dog owner.

1. No table scraps

What can be better than a gathering with family and friends around good food – whether a barbecue, the cornucopia of a Thanksgiving feast, or all the wings and nachos that accompany a big Sunday football game? According to Dr. von Simson, although you may be tempted – and your dog or cat may beg – remember to stop yourself before giving your pet a table scrap, leftover or bone. “You may make him happy for the moment, but it could create serious digestive problems for him in the long run,” he says. “So instead of sharing human food, give him an appropriate pet treat.”

2. Pest prevention

You don’t like to be bitten by pesky bugs – well, neither does your four-legged friend. While you may know that fleas and ticks may cause misery and disease for your pets, you may not know that these parasites can be active year-round, waiting for their chance to attack and feed on your dog or cat. Continuous protection against fleas and ticks is, therefore, an essential part of pet ownership. But it’s not always easy to remember to use a flea and tick preventive each month. See what several pet owners think about trying to remember to keep their pets protected at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rNCvUgQprQ. “Now, you can avoid the hassle of remembering to apply a monthly flea and tick topical by using Seresto, a convenient flea and tick collar that offers the performance you expect from a monthly topical, but in an easy-to-use form that kills fleas and repels and kills ticks on cats or dogs for eight months,” says Dr. von Simson. You can learn more about Seresto at www.Seresto.com.

3. Protect their paws

Do you wear shoes when jogging on hot asphalt – a no-brainer, right? What about boots when it snows? But did you ever stop to think that your pet’s feet need protection from the elements, too? It is important to keep the pads of their feet cool in sweltering weather, which is why walks in the evening or early morning are best. And during winter, be sure to protect their feet from snow; sled dogs wear protective booties for a reason.

4. Don’t forget the water

A summer run on the beach, a fall trek through the woods and blazing your own snow trail are all activities that not only make you thirsty, but your pet, as well. So when you pack a water bottle for the day, don’t forget to bring your pet’s water bowl, too. “Your pet will be grateful for a drink of clean water, not to mention properly hydrated,” says Dr. von Simson.

5. Get an annual check-up

Just as annual check-ups are essential for keeping us healthy, regular visits to the veterinarian are vital to the health and well-being of your pet. You may think, “My pet looks fine, and has no symptoms, so why should I take her to the vet?” But since your pet can’t really talk, she can’t tell you when she is ill, especially if the “she” is a cat. In fact, according to the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study III: Feline Findings, a nationally representative study of feline owners, 52 percent of cat owners indicated they had not taken their cats to the veterinarian in the past year. “Because cats age differently than humans – with the first two years of a cat’s life equal to 24 years of a human’s life, and each successive year equivalent to four human years – annual examinations are essential to helping keep cats healthy and preventing potentially serious disease,” says Dr. von Simson.

Remember, pets need us, just as much as we need them. For more tips on pet care, visit www.petparents.com.

Feb 08

Solve Your Cat’s Litter Box Issues

Solve your cat's litter box issuesYou thought bringing a new cat home would be easy and fun – and it should be! But it’s frustrating when your cat takes to spraying outside of the litter box. If your cat is otherwise healthy, chances are that a litter box mishap may simply be your cat’s way of telling you something isn’t quite right.

“Each year, millions of cats are surrendered to already-overflowing shelters due to litter box issues,” says Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a cat behaviourist, author, and spokesperson for Arm & Hammer. “Ironically, with a bit of patience and care, litter box problems are some of the easiest to solve.”

Follow these simple tips and take your cat from box-avoiding to box-abiding:

Placement: Make your cat’s litter box as appealing as possible. People tend to place the boxes in areas that are convenient to their own lifestyle which means placing it in the basement or closet. If you find these locations unwelcoming, so will your cat. Try to create an environment that would fall within their natural instincts.

Accessibility: The litter box should be placed somewhere that is easy to find and access. Your cat should be able to see the box as soon as he enters the room and feel relaxed enough to use it. This can be done by having an uncovered litter box in a slow-traffic area where the cat will not feel threatened.

Quantity: Make sure that you are providing your cat with enough litter boxes. This is particularly important in multi-cat homes. There should be at least one box more than the number of cats in the home.

Cleanliness: Keep boxes tidy by scooping often, ideally at least once a day. Using a litter with a neutralizer like baking soda, such as Arm & Hammer Multi-Cat Extra Strength Clumping Litter, will help eliminate odours and help keep scents to a minimum.

More information is available at www.armandhammerpets.ca.


Feb 08

How to introduce a new cat into a multi-cat home

American Short Hair CatNew additions to the household can be tough – especially when it’s a second (or third) feline friend. The change can impact any of your two and four-legged family members.

For cats, stress levels are increased with the presence of more established felines in the home. For owners, the first few weeks can make or break a pet adoption. To help your cat make a healthy and happy transition, Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a cat behaviourist, author, and spokesperson for Arm & Hammer Cat Litter, has created a list of tips to address commonly occurring issues:

The litter box: Make your cat’s litter box as appealing as possible to encourage use. Strong survival instincts mean that cats prefer an uncovered litter box for quick getaways from predators (like other cats) in the house.  Place multiple litter boxes (at least one more box than there are cats) throughout your home to avoid fighting. Don’t worry if they choose to share – it’s a natural part of their wild cat instincts to time-share latrine sites with their fellow felines. Most importantly, keep the litter boxes tidy. Use a litter, such as Arm & Hammer Multi-Cat Extra Strength Clumping Litter with baking soda to help eliminate odour and keep scents to a minimum.

Bonding: Cats from multi-cat households often develop a group scent by cuddling, napping, or grooming each other. Sometimes there is a social facilitator cat who passes the scent from one to another by nuzzling. If you don’t have such a cat, you can take on this role by brushing your cats with the same brush to spread their scent. This group scent will help cats to bond and co-exist in a more peaceful and friendly manner.

Cat instincts: Litter boxes aren’t the only things that cause tension in a multi-cat home. Provide ample food, water, perching and resting areas and cat toys. Spread the resources around the house to decrease territorial thinking and avoid hostility.

More information and tips are available at www.armandhammerpets.ca.


Dec 12

Become a hero today for a homeless pet

Become a hero today for a homeless petCanada is a nation full of pet lovers, but recent research shows that many communities need some guidance on how to help solve the homeless problem.

The 2014 Shelter Pet Report (by PetSmart Charities of Canada) found that while 73 per cent of people say that pet homelessness is at least somewhat important to them, an equal number of people admit that they don’t do anything to solve the issue.

With the following simple steps you can make a difference today:

1. Adopt your next pet. The largest motivator for adopting is to save a little life. Did you know that an estimated 70,000 pets are euthanized every year in Canada? By choosing adoption we can all work together to decrease this number.

2. Spay/neuter your pets. Unplanned litters are the main source of pet overpopulation. By increasing access to spay/neuter services and spreading the word about how important fixing your pet is, you can reduce pet overpopulation from the start.

3. Help stray pets. If you notice stray cats in your neighbourhood, call your local animal welfare organization to see if they offer trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs. TNR is an innovative program that allows street cats to live out their normal lives without the risk of being euthanized in shelters.

4. Donate to animal welfare organizations: Championing this effort is PetSmart Charities of Canada, for example. It funds hundreds of local animal welfare groups that offer adoption and spay/neuter programs.

5. Spread the word: By helping pet lovers get more involved with local shelters and rescues, we can help find a lifelong, loving home for every pet.

Shelter and rescue groups say that if communities work together we can all end pet homelessness in a generation. More information is available online at petsmartcharities.org.


Dec 08

Keep your pets safe during the holiday season

Cat and little dog wearing Santa Claus hatCelebrating the holidays is exciting for most families, but small changes in the environment can be stressful for pets. From holiday feasts to decorations, the holidays present many exciting and potentially dangerous situations for our furry friends. To protect them take a look at these tips from leading retailer, PetSmart:

• Deck the halls with tape and cord covers: Holiday decorations mean extra electrical cords, plugs and plenty of tempting new “chew toys.” Pet parents should take the extra time during decorating to tape down or cover cords to help prevent shocks, burns or more serious injuries.

• How anchored are your trees? Seasonal trees are sure to attract a pet’s attention and should be secured to keep from toppling over if a pet should try to climb them, use them as a scratching post, or simply bump into them. Since cats are inclined to eat tinsel and/or ribbons hanging from trees, these decorations should be placed high on the tree or not used at all.

• Bells are ringing, children singing, but pets need a quiet place to retreat: During the holidays, pets may not understand why their usually quiet home is filled with people and noise. Learn to notice behavioural cues in your dog. If he is feeling anxious he may begin to quiver, whine, or cry and will probably have his ears back and his tail between his legs. Pet parents should provide  a quiet place to retreat so the little ones can choose whether to come out and visit or keep to themselves. Using a ‘Thundershirt’ can also calm down a nervous dog by applying gentle pressure to the body. Similarly, a calming collar for your cat will release soothing pheromones.

• Human holiday feasts are not for the pets: Cats and dogs love rich table scraps such as drippings gravy and poultry skin. This, however, can cause pets to suffer from severe upset stomach, diarrhea and even pancreatitis, which is not only terribly painful, but can be fatal. Giving your dog poultry bones is also a bad idea as they can splinter and form sharp points that can get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract. Give them a pet-friendly treat like the Elk Antler dog chew, which come in a variety of holiday flavours including cinnamon apple.

More information about pet safety is available online at www.petsmart.com.


Nov 19

Planning can help families protect pets during natural disasters

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

(BPT) – News of natural disasters can stir our compassion, inspire us to find ways to help and remind us of the need to prepare our own homes and families to cope with emergencies, including severe weather, earthquakes and fire. Every family should have a disaster plan, so that if a disaster strikes, you’ll be ready to make the best use of aid from the shelters, volunteer organizations and government agencies that respond in a crisis.

In addition to taking care of the human members of your family, it’s important to have a plan in place for your pet. Approximately 70 million pet dogs and 74.1 million pet cats live in the United States and nearly 64 percent of owners consider their pets to be family members, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Natural disasters can be especially stressful and dangerous for four-legged victims, which makes proper preparation even more important.

“When disaster strikes, taking care of human victims is a priority for aid resources,” says Dr. Dan Aja, director of U.S. professional and veterinary affairs for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the makers of Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Ideal Balance. “Not all shelters can accept pets during an evacuation, and organizations that help house and feed human victims may not be able to provide assistance to pets.”

While Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love Disaster Relief Network provides aid to pets following a disaster, families should take steps to help protect their pets before an emergency occurs, Dr. Aja notes. As part of Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program, the Disaster Relief Network consists of nearly 100 participating shelters, allowing Hill’s to distribute emergency food supplies to the pets within hours.

Dr. Aja offers some advice for families looking to create a plan for their pets:

* During an evacuation, separation from loved ones is always a risk. Help ensure relief workers are able to identify your pets – through a microchip or ID tag with your current contact information. Owners should also carry good pictures of their pets in case they become separated during a disaster. Doing so will help shelter volunteers reunite pets with their owners more quickly.

* Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house, so that you can quickly find him or her when it’s time to evacuate.

* Prepare an emergency kit of pet supplies and keep it readily accessible in case you have to evacuate. Your kit should include first aid supplies and a guide book, a three-day supply of pet food in a waterproof container, bottled water, a safety harness and leash, waste cleanup supplies, medications and medical records, a contact list of veterinarian and pet care organizations, information on your pet’s feeding routine and any behavioral issues, and a blanket.

* Plan where you will take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Disaster shelters may not be able to accept pets, so it’s important to have a backup plan. Check for hotels or motels with pet-friendly policies (you can find listings on GoPetFriendly.com) or ask relatives or friends if they could house you and/or your pet.

* The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says if you have to evacuate from your home, you should not leave your pets behind. If possible, use a pet carrier or crate to transport your pet. A carrier keeps pets safer in moving vehicles, can provide temporary quarters if you must go to a shelter, and helps you keep track of your pet if things get confusing or frightening for him or her.

Pet lovers can also support organizations that aid pets during times of disaster. Supporters can donate, volunteer or find out about adopting a homeless pet at www.hillspet.com/shelter/pet-shelters.html.

“Because owners have such strong bonds with their pets, we want to encourage pet parents to think about how their pets factor into their evacuation plans,” Aja says. “Taking precautionary steps can help owners avoid delays in the event of an emergency.”