Happy Cat??

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

How to Create a Happy Cat

In addition to feeding a nutritionally optimal, species-appropriate diet, keeping kitty at a lean-and-healthy weight, and providing exercise incentives, there are several components to her indoor environment that you’ll need to consider from her uniquely feline perspective. These include:

  1. Litterbox location — In the wild, cats not only hunt prey, they are prey for other animals. Certain activities make them vulnerable to predators, including eliminating. This vulnerability is what causes anxiety in your kitty when her litterbox is in a noisy or high traffic area.

Your cat’s “bathroom” should be located in a safe, secure location away from any area that is noisy enough to startle her or make her feel trapped and unable to escape.

  1. The opportunity to “hunt” for meals and snacks — Your cat, while domesticated, has maintained much of his natural drive to engage in the same behaviors as his counterparts in the wild, including hunting for food, which also happens to be excellent exercise. A great way to do that with an indoor cat is to have him “hunt” for his meals and treats.

Separate his daily portion of food into three to five small meals fed throughout the day in a variety of puzzle toys or indoor hunting feeder mice (available for raw and canned food, too!). You can also hide his food bowls or food puzzle toys in various spots around the house.

  1. Places for climbing, scratching, resting, and hiding — Cats are natural climbers and scratchers, and those urges don’t disappear when they move indoors. Your cat also needs her own resting place and a hiding place where she feels untouchable.

Cats prefer to interact with other creatures (including humans) on their own terms, and according to their schedule. Remember: well-balanced indoor kitties are given the opportunity to feel in control of their environment. Jackson Galaxy has written several books on creating feline environmental enrichment around the home that I highly recommend.

  1. Consistency in interactions with humans — Your cat feels most comfortable when his daily routine is predictable, so performing little rituals when you leave the house and return can help him feel more comfortable with your comings and goings. A ritual can be as simple as giving him a treat when you leave and a nice scratch behind the ears as soon as you get home.

Playtime should also be consistent. Learn what types of cat toys he responds to and engage him in play, on his timetable. Of course, while you can encourage him to play, it’s pointless to force the issue. Oh, and when he’s had enough, he’s had enough!

  1. Sensory stimulation — Visual stimulation: Some cats can gaze out the window for hours. Others are captivated by fish in an aquarium. Some even enjoy kitty videos.

Auditory stimulation: When you’re away from home, provide background noise for kitty that is similar to the ambient sounds she hears when you’re at home, for example, music or a TV at low volume. Olfactory stimulation: You can stimulate your cat’s keen sense of smell with cat-safe herbs or synthetic feline pheromones (e.g., Feliway).

All in all, paying attention to your kitty, interacting and talking with them will go a long way to ensure their happiness. Provide stimulation—you get bored right?  Well, they will to!   If they seem upset or sad consider what may have changed in their life or environment to have caused their issue.  When all else fails, contact Diane who is an animal communicator at dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com.

 

Thyroid Dysfunction

By Dr. Dodds DVM

Thyroid Dysfunction is the most frequently recognized endocrine disorder of pets and it’s often difficult to make a definitive diagnosis, since many clinical signs mimic those resulting from other causes.

 

Dogs

Hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine disorder of canines. Nearly 90 percent of canine cases result from autoimmune thyroiditis. The heritable nature of this disorder poses significant genetic implications for breeding stock.
Common symptoms to look for in dogs:

  • Scratching  •  Hair loss  •  Seizures  •  Chronic bowel issues • Seizures in adulthood  •  Chewing feet and skin  •  Skin and ear infections  • Behavioral changes: aggression, moodiness, phobias

Cats
Hyperthyroidism in readily induced, especially in geriatric cats, by feeding commercial pet foods, treats and snacks containing excessive amounts of iodine. This finding has led to a major change in the iodine formulations of feline commercial pet foods.

Common symptoms to look for in cats:
Pacing  •  Anxiety  •  Phobias   •  Howling  •  House soiling  • Insatiable hunger  •  Dementia with aging  •  Hunger and weight loss

5 Fall Dangers for Dogs

By: Jill Fanslau comments by Diane Weinmann

 

During the hot summer months, you’ve learned how to keep your dog cool, hydrated, and happy. But what about when the chillier fall season rolls in, and brings its own set of unique challenges? How do we prep our pooches for the change in atmosphere and the possible dangers that befall them? Here are five ways to keep your dog safe when the temperature changes from warm to crisp.

Rodenticides

 

As the weather gets cooler, you’ll stay indoors more often. Unfortunately, mice and rats will follow your lead, coming inside shelters to find warmth and food.

You may be tempted to put out pesticides or rodenticides—otherwise known as rat poison—to get rid of unwanted visitors. “But these rodent control chemicals can be toxic for pets if ingested,” says Len Donata, VMD, Radnor Veterinary Hospital in Pennsylvania.

“When a dog eats mouse or rat bait, a clotting factor gets blocked,” he explains. “Your pet will start to bleed.” This bleeding can start anywhere—internally or externally, from a small bump on their skin to inside their lungs. You may never even see it.” Symptoms can include rapid breathing, blood in their vomit, weakness, or seizures. “If you notice something wrong, immediately call your vet’s emergency line,” Donata urges.

Another thing to remember: some traps can be just that to a dog and they may face injuries as a result. “A mousetrap with cheese or peanut butter may look like an appetizer to an inquisitive dog,” says Teoti Anderson, CPTA-KA, KPA-CTP, owner of Pawsitive Results in Lexington, South Carolina.

Make sure your pets have no access to areas containing bait or traps. Keep doors locked and regularly check the areas to determine children or pets haven’t disturbed them.

I have an life and death personal experience with this very topic with my dog Cocoa.  He at rat poison and went into seizures.  I thought we were going to lose him but he pulled through (thank the Lord!).  All caused from putting poison in a chipmunk hole by my husband!

 

Allergies

 

Along with the beautiful fall foliage, unfortunately, comes mold, ragweed, and pollen. For many people, those seasonal allergens can lead to sneezing, a scratchy throat, and watery eyes for both you and your dog. Sure, you can pop an allergy medicine—but what about your pooch?

“When your dog comes in from outside, wipe him down with some gentle baby wipes,” says Anderson. This will help remove any microscopic allergens from his fur so he’s not carrying them around all day long.

“If your pup continues to have symptoms—like scratching, shaking his head, or constantly tearing up—see a vet,” says Dr. Donato. “Depending on how severe the symptoms are, treatments range from simple antihistamines to more aggressive medications.”

My husky Neko has been coughing after he smells crushed leaves and when he smells the base of trees where the mold grows.  I gave him Benadryl based on the vet’s recommendation and it cleared up.

 

Ticks

“You might only think of ticks as a danger during the summer, but they can pose a big problem to your dog in the fall, too,” Dr. Donato explains.  That’s because many animals limit their times outdoors or hibernate when the temps start to drop.  The result: fewer victims for ticks to latch on to. If your dog hangs out in the backyard or goes on walks near woods, he’s now an easy target for ticks.

“Ticks have heat sensors and can detect heat up to 30 feet away,” he says. “They can hang out on a branch or tall grass, and then latch on to the creature when they walk by.” Your dog can contract Lyme disease or other nasty infections from a tick after only 24 hours of the bug attaching.

“If a tick does attach to your pet, remove it immediately,” says Anderson. First, wipe the bite site and a pair of fine-point tweezers with rubbing alcohol. (Regular tweezers may squeeze germs from the tick’s body into your pet’s body.) Then grab the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, and pull slowly upward with constant pressure until the tick pops out. “Clean the area again with rubbing alcohol,” she adds.

If there’s a bit of the tick still in the skin, don’t worry—it’ll eventually work itself out. But you may want to drop the tick in a small bottle full of alcohol and then take a photo of it on your phone. “That way you can show your vet if he or she needs to identify it later on,” Anderson recommends, adding, “Keep an eye on your dog’s health for the next two weeks.”

Still don’t want to attempt remove the bug yourself? No problem. Just call your vet!

I continue to give my dog his flea and tick meds but I also use essential oils called AWAY from Dr. Melissa Shelton DVM.  Shown below is more info on the product and where you can purchase it:

AWAY

Ingredients:  Essential Oils of Eucalyptus citriodora, Catnip, Citronella, Lemon Tea Tree, White Cypress

Away was created for many purposes, but all are encompassed in the word “Away”.  Bugs go “Away”, smells go “Away”, and stale energy can also go “Away”!  I put it on my dog any time we are going into the woods or open field for a walk.

Petting Technique
The petting technique is a way to apply the oils to your pet. This technique is well tolerated by almost every form of animal. The technique can be modified for small rodents, amphibians, or animals that may be difficult to handle, simply by having the oils absorbed into your hands, and then “cupping” and holding the animal within your hands.

 

Dogs:  Away can also be applied to most dogs topically using the “Petting Technique.”  Place 1-3 drops into your hands, rub them together until a light coating remains, then pet onto areas of need.  For insect repellent; rubbing down the legs, neck, shoulders, and back are good locations to concentrate on.  I especially focus on the “ankle” area of my dogs, since ticks will often contact this area first, as they start to climb up the legs.

Cats:  Diffusion of Away in a water-based diffuser is also recommended for cat households.  Away is wonderful for eliminating pet odors from the household, and litter box areas.

http://www.animaleo.info/order-animaleo.html

 Closed Pools

If you’re a pool owner, chances are you’ve already covered your pool for the winter. “Even though the pool is closed up, you still need to keep your pooch away from it,” says Dr. Donato.

The reason? Water can collect in puddles on top of solid covers. If your dog slides out on the cover, he may have trouble getting back to solid ground. “He can get stranded, and quickly get hypothermia if temperatures are low enough,” says Dr. Donato.

This can also occur with mesh covers and if the water isn’t low enough, your pet can walk across and get wet.

 

Holiday Treats

October brings a bunch of trick-or-treating superheroes, goblins, and Frozen Elsa’s to your front door. It also brings a ton of chocolate into your house. Most dog owners know to keep chocolate away from their dogs, but if your pup gets his paws on those sweets, bring them to the vet right away to induce vomiting. Too much chocolate can be toxic.

“You’ll want to keep your Thanksgiving leftovers to yourself, too,” says Anderson. Onions, grapes, and raisons can be toxic to dogs, and “turkey skin is very fatty and can lead to pancreatitis in your pet,” she explains. Dr. Donato warns that feeding Thanksgiving table scraps causes a lot of gastroenteritis issues in dogs. “I know it’s a way for people to bond with their pets, but it’s a big reason why we’re kept busy.”

In other words, more leftovers for you.

 

How your dog’s size and shape influences her behavior

By Dr. Karen Becker

 

A study published in 2013 by researchers at the University of Sydney suggests that a dog’s size and the shape of his skull play a significant role in his behavior.1 Using the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ) as a data-gathering tool, the research team analyzed information on over 8,300 dogs of 80 different breeds and compared them to the shape of 960 dogs of those breeds.

Their results revealed a strong association between height, bodyweight, skull proportions (width and length), and behavior and concluded that smaller dogs show more aggression than their larger counterparts.

“[In] the most comprehensive study undertaken to date, our research shows that certain physical characteristics in dogs are consistently associated with certain types of behavior,” lead study author Paul McGreevy, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science told Phys.org. “Essentially, the shorter the dogs the less controllable their behavior is for their owners.”2

33 of 36 unwanted behaviors were size-related

The researchers found that as the height of the dogs decreased, there was an increase in the incidence of mounting behavior, owner-directed aggression, begging for food and attention-seeking. In contrast, increasing height was associated with trainability. Another finding: When average body weight decreased, excitability and hyperactivity increased. The study revealed that 33 out of 36 undesirable behaviors were associated with a dog’s height, body weight and the shape of her skull. Some of these included:

Begging for food Urine marking
Fear of other dogs Peeing or pooping when left alone
Non-social fear Separation anxiety
Attention-seeking Sensitivity to being touched
Mounting people or objects Aggression toward owner

Additional revelations about dog size and behavioral tendencies

Another interesting insight from the study was that while long-skulled dogs (e.g., Afghans, Salukis and Whippets), excel at hunting and chasing behaviors, they also tend to display certain negative behaviors, including fear of strangers, persistent barking and stealing food.

“Given hunting dogs have not traditionally been companion animals sharing close quarters,” said McGreevy, “this may not be surprising.”

Short-skulled dogs like the Pug and Boxer — breeds that have undergone, and in many cases suffered generations of selective breeding to further “enhance” their pushed-in faces — tend to display more puppy-like behaviors as adults. They also seem to have completely abandoned many of their hunting instincts. Some additional observations from the study:

Unwanted behaviors increase as the size and height of a dog decrease.
Dogs with short muzzles engage in more grooming and compulsive staring.
Smaller breeds, especially terriers, showed more stranger-directed aggression. The researchers wonder if terriers were selected for aggressiveness because their job at one time was to chase and hunt underground prey. It could be that smaller breeds with short legs have inherited aggression.
Smaller dogs engage in more attention-seeking behaviors — which are linked to jealousy and territorialism — during times when their owner is paying attention to someone else.
Larger breeds descended from smaller breeds that were meant as companion dogs may have behaviors that are at odds with their body size.
Lightweight breeds are more apt to be excitable, hyperactive and energetic compared to breeds with heavy bodies.
Coping behaviors in response to stress, such as fly-snapping, are related more to a dog’s weight than height. The shorter and stockier the dog, the greater the tendency to display coping behaviors.
Obsessive tail-chasing isn’t linked to size or breed, nor is coprophagia (poop eating), chewing or pulling on leash.

Owners tend to tolerate and even encourage bad behavior in small dogs

In drawing conclusions from their research, the University of Sydney team considered the fact that dog owners may be more tolerant of undesirable behavior in smaller dogs, which may in turn result in increased behaviors such as excessive barking, nipping, eliminating indoors, begging, separation anxiety and attention-seeking.

The researchers speculate that owners of small dogs may encourage undesirable behaviors and predispose their pets to separation anxiety, puppy-like behaviors, mounting and begging. The tendency to keep small dogs indoors and under-exercised may also be contributing factors.

“Undesirable behaviors such as owner aggression, or mounting, occur more often among small dogs. This suggests that, in small dogs, these behaviors are tolerated more than they would be in larger dogs where such behaviors are more unwelcome and even dangerous. Equally, such behaviors in small dogs may be a result of their being overindulged and over-protected,” McGreevy explained.

Another consideration is that smaller breeds are known to be more reactive, neurologically, to stimuli in their environment than larger dogs, who tend to be more laid back.

“These findings … remind us that domestic dogs are an extremely useful model for exploring the biological forces that produce diverse animal structures and their related behaviors,” says McGreevy. “The interaction of nature and nurture in producing the relationships we have described in this study creates a raft of fascinating questions that further studies will address.”

Tiny terror training tips

If you’re a small dog parent and the above study findings resonate with you, there’s no time like the present to help your little one become a better canine citizen. Training a small dog is really no more difficult than training a large one — you just need to make a few accommodations for size.

  1. Stand small — Towering over a dog is intimidating when the animal hasn’t yet learned human body language and vocal tones. And the smaller the dog, the more overwhelmed she can feel in the presence of a big hulking human.

So, when training your little one, until she’s had some experience reading your signals, be sure to show her welcoming eyes, small movements and a soft voice. Don’t deal with her “head on” immediately. Turn slightly to the side and get down close to her level instead of looming over her.

  1. Use small training treats — Tiny dogs need only tiny training treats. Otherwise, you’ll own a not-so-tiny dog in no time. Anything more than, say, a treat the size of a housefly, is too big. You can buy or make treats to break into very small pieces; you can also use some of his regular food, subtracted from his meals, as treats.
  2. Train on her level — Training a small dog from a standing position can be merciless on your back, and the last thing you want is to be in pain when you’re trying to focus on molding your pet’s behavior. Initially you should sit on the floor not only to save your back, but also to appear less intimidating.

Other ways to do training exercises include sitting on a low stool or chair or moving your dog to a comfortable raised surface such as a table or bed.

  1. Use tiny toys and training tools — Your small dog needs a lightweight collar, harness and leash. Generally speaking, leather and chain collars and leashes aren’t a good idea for little guys. I always recommend harnesses for small dogs to avoid neck injuries. Some very small dogs have incredibly fragile necks. And just as his treats should be an appropriate size, so should your small dog’s toys and other supplies like food and water bowls, crate, etc.
  2. Teach your dog a verbal “lift-off” cue — Small dogs are often startled to be suddenly lifted off the ground by a human. If you put yourself in her place, imagining at any moment you will lose the ground beneath your feet, you can see why this is a stressful event. That’s why it’s good to train your dog with a verbal cue that signals you’re about to pick her up. Just make it a simple one-word signal.

To train her to the cue, put your hands on her, say the word and apply just a bit of pressure without actually lifting her. This gives her time to understand she’s about to be lifted. When you know she’s aware you’re about to pick her up, go ahead and do so. Consistent use of the cue will help her learn to prepare for “lift off.”

  1. Respect his smallness — Little dogs can be difficult to train to lie down – and there’s a good reason for it. Your pet is already small and vulnerable, and he knows it. When he’s lying on the floor, he’s even smaller and more vulnerable. He’s also likely to be more sensitivethan a bigger dog to cold, hard or rough surfaces. So, train your little guy to lie down using a soft, raised surface. He’ll feel less threatened and comfier.
  2. Give your little dog some space — As much as possible, your dog should be allowed to meet new people and dogs on her own terms. Picking up a shy or frightened small dog to force an introduction removes her ability to keep her distance if she needs to. So, leave her on the ground, and respect her wishes. If she seems skittish or unfriendly, don’t force the issue. This may be an area where extra work is needed to properly socialize your pet.
  3. Set big dog standards for your small dog’s behavior — If you wouldn’t allow a 70-pound dog to jump up on you, don’t accept the behavior from your little one. Reward only desirable behavior and ignore behavior you want to extinguish. Little dogs can learn to sit and stay just like the big guys do. The same goes for jumping up into your lap, charging out the door ahead of you or ripping treats from your fingers. Don’t accept rude behavior just because your pet is small.

Lastly, treat your little dog like a dog! He’s not a baby or a dress-up doll. He needs to be socialized, which means having lots of positive experiences with other dogs and people. He needs to be on the ground much of the time so he can learn how to climb stairs, get into and out of your vehicle, and move confidently on all kinds of terrain.

 

 

How to give your indoor cat the best of both worlds

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Not long ago at a veterinary conference, a Dr. Margie Scherk, a vet from Vancouver, Canada with a feline practice, spoke on the topic of lifestyle risks of indoor versus outdoor cats. One of her points was that while many people believe responsible cat owners keep their pets indoors, “The fact is that cats have not been selectively bred to be indoors 24 hours a day, and many don’t adjust to living in close contact to people — they’re forced to.”1

Lifestyle risks of indoor cats

According to Scherk, who cites a 2005 study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science,2 the following are risks to cats who live entirely indoors:

Lower urinary tract diseases Boredom
Hyperthyroidism Household hazards (burns, poison exposure, falls)
Obesity Inactivity, decreased fitness
Diabetes Behavior problems (spraying, scratching, obsessive behavior)
Odontoclastic resorptive lesions Dermatologic problems (atopic dermatitis, acral lick dermatitis)

Lifestyle risks of indoor-outdoor and outdoor-only cats

Thanks to KittyCams, researchers have been able to learn plenty about the kinds of risky business free-roaming cats get up to when they’re wandering around outdoors, including:3

Trauma (usually involving being hit by a vehicle) or human abuse Entering storm drains
Parasites Climbing trees
Crossing roads Climbing on roofs
Having non-aggressive contact with unfamiliar cats (infectious disease risk) Having contact with wild animals (injury and disease risk)
Consuming solids or liquids left by owners, baits Crawling into car engines

Cats are also prey for wildlife such as coyotes, mountain lions, wolves and raptors, and fights among outdoor cats can also lead to serious injury and infections, including bite abscesses. Sadly, cruel humans also pose a grave risk to cats through gunshots, poisonings, burnings and asphyxia.4

Infectious diseases, several of which are zoonotic (can be spread to humans) commonly sicken and kill outdoor cats, including feline retroviruses, mycoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis, bartonellosis (cat scratch fever), tularemia, plague and rabies, along with worms, ectoparasites and fungal infections.

Best of both worlds: Cats should live indoors and also spend safe, supervised time outdoors

Given the risks associated with living entirely indoors, Scherk believes it should be the goal of veterinarians to encourage people to make indoor living more suitable for cats by decreasing stressful stimuli and enriching and improving the environment.

I certainly agree. I tend to think of cats like humans; we live in protected, safe environments indoors, but enjoy going outside, and spending lots of time outside, in safe environments. Living indoors all the time isn’t what most cats would choose, nor is it an entirely natural environment for them, but it’s by far the safest life we can choose for them. Letting them roam free outdoors some or all of the time presents much more risk.

But just because your kitty lives inside doesn’t mean she can’t go on supervised visits outside to bask in the sun, exercise and ground herself on a daily basis. Outdoor adventures are wonderful for cats, as long as they’re safe.

I recommend walking your cat in nice weather using a harness. This gets him out into the fresh air, stimulates his senses and gets his paws in direct contact with the ground. An alternative is a safe, fully enclosed catio that prevents him from getting out and other animals from getting in. Many cats with catios spend the majority of their days outside, but safe.

Diane tried walking her cat once but the kitty was so scared she had to bring him back inside so this outdoor experience doesn’t always work; however, some cats love it especially in enclosed strollers!

How to provide your cat with an optimal life indoors

  • Enrich the indoor environment — The term “environmental enrichment” means to improve or enhance the living situation of captive animals to optimize their health, longevity and quality of life. The more comfortable your cat feels in your home, the lower her stress level. Reducing stress is extremely important in keeping cats physically healthy.

Enriching your kitty’s surroundings means creating minimally stressful living quarters and reducing or eliminating changes in her life that cause anxiety. Jackson Galaxy has written several books on creating feline environmental enrichment around the house that I highly recommend.

The essentials of your cat’s life — food, water and litterbox (which should be kept scrupulously clean), should be located in a safe, secure location away from any area that is noisy enough to startle her or make her feel trapped and unable to escape. Your cat also needs approved places for climbing and scratching (natural feline behaviors) in her indoor environment, as well as her own resting place and a hiding place where she feels untouchable.

Think about what you can do to appeal to your kitty’s visual, auditory and olfactory senses. For example, some cats can gaze out the window for hours, while others are captivated by fish in an aquarium. Some even enjoy kitty videos.

When you’re away from home, open all your shades and blinds to provide natural light during the day. Provide background noise for kitty similar to the ambient sounds she hears when you’re at home, for example, nature music or a TV at low volume. You can stimulate your cat’s keen sense of smell with cat-safe herbs or synthetic feline pheromones.

  • Make sure he gets daily exercise — Consistent daily exercise, including at least 20 minutes of high-intensity activity will help your cat burn fat and increase muscle tone. Make sure he has things to climb on, like a multilevel cat tree or tower. Think like a cat and choose toys and activities that answer his need for hunting, stalking and pouncing on “prey.” One of Diane’s friends had stairs created going up a wall so the cats could jump from one to another or just sit on them! Ingenious!

Because our cats don’t have the freedom they would in the wild, it’s up to us to give them opportunities to practice those natural instincts. A great way to do that is to have your kitty “hunt” for his food. Try separating his daily portion of freeze-dried raw food into three to five small meals fed throughout the day in a variety of puzzle toys or indoor hunting feeder mice, or load them with a small piece of tasty, dehydrated meat treat.

This will encourage him to “hunt” and eat on a schedule similar to his wild cousins, and as an added bonus, he might just sleep through the night thanks to the puzzle toy you give him at bedtime.

  • Feed a moisture-rich, nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet — Offering your cat an optimal diet is the single most important thing you can do to help her have a long, healthy life. That’s why it’s important to understand that some foods are metabolically stressful, for example, all dry (kibble) formulas, processed pet food (canned or dry) containing feed-grade (versus human-grade) ingredients and diets containing grains, potatoes or other starches.

The nutrition that generates the least amount of metabolic stress for most cats, regardless of age, is their ancestral diet: whole, raw (or gently cooked), unprocessed, organic, non-GMO and in its natural form. Animal meat should be the foundation of your kitty’s diet throughout her life. Filtered, pure, fresh water in nontoxic metal or glass (not plastic) bowls is also important.

  • Keep your cat at a healthy weight — Tragically, the majority of cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. The obesity-related diseases overweight kitties inevitably acquire shorten their lifespans and often destroy their quality of life along the way. If you want your kitty by your side and able to get around comfortably for 20 years, one of the worst things you can do is encourage him to get fat.

The first step in keeping your cat at a healthy weight is to feed an optimal diet as I described above. It’s equally important not to free-feed. It’s also important to calculate kcal (kilocalorie) requirements for your cat’s ideal weight and include treats in his total daily calorie count.

  • Schedule regular veterinary wellness exams — I recommend twice-yearly wellness visits because:

◦Changes in your kitty’s health can happen rapidly, especially on the inside where you can’t see it, like sudden changes in kidney health

◦Sick cats often show no signs of illness, but early detection allows for early intervention

◦Semi-annual visits give you and your veterinarian the opportunity to closely monitor changes in your kitty’s behavior and attitude that require further investigation

At a minimum, younger healthy cats should see the vet once a year. Kitties over the age of 7 and those with chronic health conditions should be seen twice a year or more frequently if necessary. If your cat hates car travel, consider a mobile vet who makes house calls.

I recommend that you find a veterinarian whose practice philosophy you’re comfortable with. This may be a holistic or integrative veterinarian, or a conventional veterinarian who doesn’t aggressively promote vaccines, pest preventives or veterinary drugs at every visit. House call vets can also be a great, lower stress option for indoor kitties.

Generally speaking, if you’re dealing with a conventional vet, you’ll need to advocate for your cat and push back as necessary, politely but firmly. Always remember that you have the final say in what treatments and chemicals are administered to your pet.

 

The 10 Funniest Questions Pet Nutritionists Have Been Asked

 

Animal nutritionists and experts know that their clients love their pets, and sometimes, they can ask some interesting questions. Needless to say, if you’ve ever felt silly asking something about your dog or cat, don’t — you’re certainly not alone!

 

We asked dozens of pet professionals from around the world the funniest question they’ve ever been asked, and the results are definitely entertaining. One thing we have to add, though: you should never feel strange asking your vet or pet nutritionist your questions because chances are, they’ve heard it all!

 

Don’t have a pet nutritionist yet? That’s okay! Check out How To Find The Right Pet Nutritionist For You & Your Pet to find the perfect match and have all your burning questions answered.

 

 

1. “Is it okay for my dog to eat cat food?”

 

Lynes Downing of Pet Sitting Professionals in Novato, California said he’s heard this question before. The short answer is, if Fido sneaks a few bites of your feline’s food, it’s probably fine; however, cat food will not provide a balanced diet for dogs, and should never be given as a meal.

 

 

2. “Can I eat this dog food?”

 

“We sell a dry food that it is made fresh monthly, a customer asked if they could eat it themselves,” says Carlos Deleon of Pet Wants San Antonio North in San Antonio, Texas. “I said, ‘There’s nothing bad in the food, all good, high-quality ingredients, so it should be fine … she proceeded to eat it. She said, ‘it tastes good!’ I was crying!”

 

How’s that for some human-grade kibble?

 

 

3. “Can my dog eat the same meals that I do?”

 

There are some healthy human foods that can add nutrition to a dog or cat’s diet, but the nutritional needs of pets are not the same as humans. “It still boggles my mind that some people believe that their pets can eat the same meals that their owners eat,” says Concetta Ferragamo of King’s Cages International, LLC in East Brunswick, New Jersey. She continues, “and, they seem to usually be a poor choice of meals, such as hotdogs or beans and rice (with nothing else) … Yikes!”

 

 

4. “Can I neuter my female puppy instead of spay her?”

 

“One time a client asked us if she could neuter her puppy instead of spay her since it was much cheaper,” recalls Kyle Goguen of Pawstruck.com.

 

Neutering is for males and spaying is for females, so needless to say, that would be impossible.

 

 

5. “Can my pet be vegan?”

 

Lisa Bliss of Fluffy Mustaches Pet Grooming in Mustang, Oklahoma was once asked by a client, “Can my dog live on strawberries? I think I want him to be vegan.”

 

It’s not natural for pets to live without meat, especially cats, who are obligate carnivores. That means they’ll eventually die without meat in their diets. This is because meat provides more than protein; it’s full of other essential nutrients, too.

 

 

6. “Is bread nutritional?”

 

This question was asked to Richard Nowak of Avian Sanctuary and Protection in Utah.

A bite of bread won’t hurt your pet, but it’s not very nutritional (and all those carbs can back on the pounds), so they should only enjoy small bits, if any at all.

 

 

7. “What’s a bully stick made of?”

 

According to Diana Farrar of Fifi & Fidos Pet Boutique & Holistic Nutrition Center in San Antonio, Texas, the funniest part about this question is the answer.

 

Farrar remembers a hilarious exchange with customers that went something like this:

 

“What’s that?”

“A bully stick.

“What’s it made of?”

“A bull penis!”

 

 

8. “What food would help calm my dog?”

 

Margaret and Steve Gelinas of Market Pet Shop recalls hearing this question from a customer. In actuality, diet can sometimes help with hyperactivity in pets. However, most naughty or anxious behaviors must be addressed through training.

 

 

9. “Why should your animal be fed human-grade food?”

 

George Craft of GGC Healthy Paws in Willingboro, New Jersey has heard this question before. Pets should be fed humane-grade food because it’s the safest, most nutritious way to maintain a healthy diet. Also, they’re family!

 

 

10. “My dog likes to eat cat poop. Should I feed it to him every day?”

 

A client asked this to Chris White of The Urban Zoo in Hamilton, Ontario … and his answer was likely a resounding “no!”

 

Eating cat poop is a common habit of dogs who live with felines, however indulging in this “snack” should definitely be discouraged.

 

 

We hope you found these questions entertaining, and more importantly, we hope you don’t feel silly asking your own questions after reading them!


The next article in our pet nutrition series is called 7 Healthy Dog & Cat Homemade Treats Recommended By Vet and Pet Nutritionists, containing ideas from experts around the world. If you’ve ever wondered about the healthiest snacks to feed your dog or cat, stay tuned for lots of amazing ideas!

 

Written by:
Suzie Cyrenne

CO-FOUNDER OF HOMEOANIMAL

Suzie Cyrenne co-founded HomeoAnimal over five years ago, and has worked in naturopathic pet medicine for more than six. Day-to-day, she works as the lead manager for the homeoanimal staff and specializes in training the team to have thorough knowledge of pet health and the company’s extensive line of naturopathic remedies.

Although Suzie has gained a lot of experience from years spent in the pet health field, she is studying at the School of Classical Homeopathy in Quebec, Canada, (a partner of the European Academy of Natural Medicine (AEMN) in France), in order to earn her degree.

Feel free to contact me anytime at support@homeonanimal.com

 

                                       

 

 

 

Can Dogs Empathize With Other Dogs’ Emotions?

Reviewed for accuracy on May 7, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

If you have a dog, you’ve probably had an emotional connection with them. Most dog owners claim that their pups are incredible at empathizing—picking up on their emotional cues and taking action to make them feel better when they’re sad or distressed.

 

And the evidence isn’t just anecdotal; a 2018 study on dog empathy found that when their owners made distressing sounds—like saying “help” or crying—dogs would try to reach them much faster than if they made neutral sounds.

 

It was also discovered that the higher the dog scored on a “bond test” (which measured the level of attachment a dog felt to their owner), the faster they’d try to reach them when they were in distress.

 

Dogs oftentimes mirror our emotions, says Russell Hartstein, certified dog behaviorist, dog trainer and founder of Fun Paw Care.

 

So clearly, dogs can empathize with humans. But can dogs feel sympathy for other dogs?

 

Can Dogs Read Other Dogs’ Emotions?

 

“I would argue that yes, dogs may have empathy for other [dogs],” says Hartstein. And while there isn’t a large amount of research on dog empathy, there is one promising study that explores how dogs react to other dogs’ emotions.

 

In a 2017 study, researchers from the University of Vienna sought to test how dogs would react to human and dog emotions. The researchers had pet owners bring their dogs into a laboratory that was equipped with speakers at different points in the room.

 

The researchers then played a series of human and dog sounds. For human emotions, they used laughing (positive) or crying (negative). For dog emotions, they used lighthearted and playful barking (positive) and dog whining (negative). They also played neutral sounds, like nature sounds or a person speaking in a neutral voice.

 

The researchers then observed whether the dogs paid greater attention to the positive, negative or neutral audio. They also looked to see whether the dogs showed signs of distress, like paw licking, whining or barking. The researchers tallied the behaviors and assigned a “score” to each auditory cue.

 

The study found that dogs paid more attention to emotional auditory cues than neutral ones. Even more tellingly, they found that dogs scored significantly higher when exposed to negative auditory cues, which implies that dogs can differentiate between positive and negative emotions in both humans and other dogs. They also found that dogs show higher levels of distress when exposed to negative emotions.

 

According to the study, there was no difference in emotional reactions when dogs heard human sounds compared to when they heard dog sounds.

 

While this study isn’t irrefutable proof that dogs experience empathy for other dogs, it certainly makes a strong argument that dogs have the ability to empathize with other canines.

 

But Hartstein cautions, “[A dog’s] ability—or any animal’s ability—to put themselves in another’s shoes to experience what [another dog] is feeling or experiencing is not possible to measure.”

 

Do Dogs Have More Sympathy for Dogs They Know?

 

So, the study shows that dogs have strong reactions to hearing other dogs in distress. But what about their dog friends? If they share a home with another dog, will they have more empathy for them versus a dog they do not know?

 

The same study suggests that dogs do empathize even more with their canine housemates.

 

Researchers from the study explored whether dogs would behave any differently when played emotional auditory cues of unfamiliar dogs versus dogs they shared a home with.

 

They found that the dogs showed much higher levels of stress (and scored higher overall) when played negative auditory cues from their dog friends.

 

How to Encourage Empathy Within Your Dog

 

If you want to encourage your dog to be more empathetic—to you, your family and to your other dogs—it starts with you.

 

“My suggestion for creating more empathy in your pet is working on a respectful, kind relationship. This can mean simply hanging out, spending time together, and enjoying walks and playtime that is nurturing and kind,” says Dr. Jim D Carlson, DVM CVA CVTP, owner of Riverside Animal Clinic McHenry and Grove Animal Hospital & Holistic Center in Chicago. “Truly connecting with the human-animal bond will help you start to spot some humanlike emotions in your pet.”

 

If you want to encourage more empathy between your dogs, foster your relationship with each dog and encourage their relationship and interactions with each other.

 

“Dogs develop their own relationships within their pack. Encouraging positive behavior, comfort and fun will help dogs bond over time,” says Dr. Carlson.

 

And don’t be surprised or discouraged if your dog’s way of showing empathy is different than yours. “Dogs have their own cues for reading emotions in each other. Many of them are physical. But they will also seek each other out during times of stress or emotion.”

 

So, if you notice one dog licking the other’s face after a trip to the vet or rubbing his body against the other during a thunderstorm, recognize it as their way of showing empathy. If you want that empathy to continue, reward the behaviors with plenty of praise.

 

 

By: Deanna deBara