Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pet Health Tip #5- Dental Hygiene

Dental health is as important for your pet as it is for you.  Chronic dental disease is the number one cause of heart disease in older pets.  This is one area that most pet owners neglect.

The idea of brushing your dog's or cat's teeth is not very appealing.  However, it is the most effective way to prevent dental disease in your pet.  There are two main ways to brush your pet's teeth.  The first, do it the same way you brush yours, with a toothbrush.  There are a few dogs that will allow this, but most will fight pretty hard when you stick a toothbrush in their mouth.  The usual result is that you end up jabbing your dog in the gums with the end of the toothbrush, and that is the last time you are allowed to do that!

The next alternative for brushing your pet's teeth is to use a finger brush.  This is a little toothbrush that fits on the end of your finger.  It allows you to have a little more control and will help avoid injury to your pet.  This is the safer method for your dog, but not very pleasant for you.

The good news is that although brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way to ensure dental health, it is not the only option.  One good preventive measure is to make sure you feed your pet kibble and not canned food.  The kibble will naturally keep tartar from building up on your pet's teeth.  Feeding your pet canned food is one of the worst things you can do for dental health.

Another important thing you can do for your pet's teeth is to have them cleaned on a regular basis.  For most dogs, that means having a dental cleaning every three years.  There are some breeds of dogs, such as Greyhounds, that need dental cleanings on a more frequent basis.  The best way to know if your dog needs his teeth cleaned is to lift up his lips and take a look at the teeth.  If they have tartar build up, then they need a cleaning.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pet Health Tip #4- Obesity

In the same way that obesity has become a problem for people, it has also become a problem for our pets.  Several health issues can arise as a result of obesity.  Many of these health concerns are the same ones that obese people face.

For cats, the major health problem that can arise as a result of obesity is diabetes.  Overweight cats are at a significantly higher risk for diabetes than cats who are at a healthy weight (See #31 Diabetes Mellitus in Cats).

For dogs, the main health concerns associated with obesity are heart failure and arthritis.  Just like in people, when a dog is carrying around more weight than he is meant to carry, his heart has to work overtime.  When the heart has to work extra hard, it wears out before it would have otherwise.  In addition, the extra weight puts too much pressure on the dog's joints causing extra wear and tear that leads to arthritis.

Bottom line: Obesity will significantly reduce your pet's lifespan.  So, stop killing your pet with kindness!  What do I mean by that?

The number one contributor to pet obesity: Feeding your pet people food!  I hear all the time, "But he really likes it and will throw a fit if I don't give it to him."  First of all, if you don't start, then you don't have to stop.  Secondly, just like a child will choose donuts over green beans, your pet will choose people food over pet food.  There are some perfectly acceptable pet treats that your pet will appreciate that are much healthier than people food.  Your pet will adapt to the change, just be consistent.

The next question is, "How do I know if my pet is obese?"

There is a simple illustration:  First, make a fist.  If your pet’s ribs look like your knuckles when you make a fist, then it is too thin.  Second, turn your palm face up with your fingers straight out.  If your pet’s ribs look like the pads over your knuckles on your palm, then he is too fat.  Finally, turn your palm face down with your fingers straight out.  If your pet’s ribs look like your knuckles, then he is the ideal body weight.  In other words, you want to be able to easily feel his ribs when you rub your hands over them, but you don't want to see his ribs.

Finally, "What do I do if my dog is obese?"

First, stop feeding him people food.  Second, cut back on the fatty treats.  By that, I mean things like rawhides and pig's ears.  There are some very good low fat treats that you can use.  Alternatively, one of the easiest things to do is give him a piece of his kibble (dry food).  Since it is being given outside of his normal feeding time, he will think of it as a special treat.  Also, if you are feeding canned food, either stop all together, or cut it back significantly.  Canned pet foods are much higher in fat than dry kibble.  Additionally, canned food is a major contributor to dental disease.  Finally, just like people, pets need to exercise.  So, get him moving.  This will not only help him slim down, it will also improve the health of his joints.

Again, a pet at a healthy weight will live significantly longer than an obese pet. I don't know about you, but I want my pets around for as long as I can have them!

Monday, March 17, 2014

4 1/2 star review of "To Love A Cat"

To Love a Cat

author: Billi Tiner

Genre:  contemporary romance, thriller

Copyright 2014

4 1/2 Stars!

Catherine "Cat" James had always promised herself that one day she would be a foster parent--hopefully saving someone from the type of horrid childhood that she herself had experienced.  Taking the plunge, she welcomes 13 year old Ethan Summers into her life.  Ethan is basically a good kid, but almost immediately he runs into trouble and is brought home by Mitch Holt.  Mitch is a homicide detective with the Spring Valley PD, but through a series of coincidences he and Cat keep meeting.  Meanwhile, unbeknown to everyone, Ethan's father has been released from prison and suddenly throws everything and everyone for a loop.

I very much enjoyed this book!  All the characters are believable as are the situations they find themselves in.  It is well-written, reads smoothly and the story moves fairly quickly.  I was never bored and in fact, found myself looking forward to being able to get back to it to find out what happens.  I personally like stories with happy endings and this one doesn't disappoint.  It has it all, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Well worth the read!

Reviewed by:  Tracey Naylor

4 1/2 Stars!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pet Health Tip #3- Puppy Hair Loss

There are a several different underlying causes of hair loss in puppies.  I am only going to address a few of them.

Patchy hair loss with associated pruritus (itchiness):  The most common cause for patchy hair loss is fleas.  However, it can also be caused by the Sarcoptes mites.  This is often referred to as “Sarcoptic Mange.”  Infestation with Sarcoptes mites causes severe pruritus.  The puppies will scratch constantly.  Because of the constant scratching, and the damage that it does, the puppies often develop a bacterial skin infection.  These puppies will have red, crusty skin lesions in addition to the hair loss.  Sarcoptes mites live on the skin, and treatment is usually topical.  However, due to the skin infection, the puppies may also need to take antibiotics.  Sarcoptes mites easily transfer to other pets and can cause itchiness in people as well.  They don’t infest humans, meaning they don’t set up permanent residence on our skin.  However, they will bite us if given the chance.

Patchy hair loss without pruritus:  There are two common causes for these symptoms in puppies.  The first is ringworm (See #13 Ringworm for details).  The second common cause is another mite called Demodex, often referred to as “Demodectic Mange.”  These mites live in the skin.  They do not typically cause pruritus, so the puppies don’t usually scratch.  The treatment for demodectic mange is oral and usually requires a long treatment therapy.

Demodectic mange is not contagious to other pets or people.  The puppies actually obtain the mite from their mother, during nursing.  In addition, there is a genetic component that determines whether or not the animal will have any symptoms associated with the infestation.

In conclusion, several underlying factors cause puppy hair loss.  Therefore, it is important to consult your veterinarian for a specific diagnosis and treatment options.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pet Health Tip #2- Puppy Vaccines

Routine puppy vaccinations against Parvovirus and Distemper virus are essential to ensuring your puppy’s health.  Puppies are initially protected against these viruses through the antibodies they received from their mother.  However, as the mother’s antibodies begin to fade, puppies become susceptible to infection.  There is a window of susceptibility during which time the mother's antibodies are no longer effective, but they are still too high to allow your puppy to develop his own protection.  For most puppies, this window is open between 8-12 weeks of age. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep your puppy away from environments where he could possibly be exposed to the virus until he has received a full round of vaccines.

Most veterinarians recommend your puppy receives his first set of vaccines at approximately 6-8 weeks of age.  Then he should receive a booster every 3-4 weeks until he reaches 16 weeks of age.  This will ensure he receives the full round of vaccines and has developed his own protection by time his mother's antibodies are no longer effective

Parvovirus and Distemper virus are both found throughout the environment and can survive for long periods of time in the soil.  It is imperative that you keep young unvaccinated puppies away from any yards where there was a known positive puppy for at least one year.

Both of these viruses cause severe intestinal distress.  Basically, they cause the intestines to shed their lining.  The intestinal lining consists of the cells that absorb water and nutrients out of the intestines.  Therefore, the puppy ends up losing a lot of water (i.e. diarrhea) and losing a lot of weight due to the inability to absorb nutrients.  The shedding of the intestinal lining is also very painful.  Many puppies, especially small breeds, do not survive this loss of water and nutrients.

If you choose not to vaccinate your puppy and they survive puppyhood, their odds of contracting the viruses do decrease significantly.  However, unvaccinated adult dogs can still become infected with both Parvovirus and Distemper virus.