Why It’s so Hard to Cut Kitty’s Calories

By Dr. Karen Becker DVM


Estimates are that around 60% of cats in the U.S. are not only overweight, but obese. Owners of obese cats are often advised by their veterinarians to do the obvious — restrict the amount of calories kitty eats. However, this is apparently easier said than done, based on the low rate of compliance.
To try to answer the question of why it’s so difficult for cat parents to comply with recommendations to restrict how much their pets eat, scientists at Nestlé Purina Research set out to determine how much of an effect calorie restriction has on the feeding patterns of cats.
Specifically, “the objective of the present work was to better elucidate the impact of calorie cut-off on individual cat feeding behaviours, as well as on interactions between cats during food anticipation.”1
6% Reduction in Calories Has Dramatic Effect on How Cats Eat
For the study, the researchers assigned 80 domestic cats to two groups (40 per group) that were balanced for sex, age, weight, and body condition score. Cats being cats, several who “couldn’t adjust to their social group” were sent on their way, leaving 38 cats in the test group and 31 in the control group.
All the cats were fed the same commercially available diet on the same schedule. Canned food was the morning offering, kibble was served in the afternoon and overnight, along with very occasional treats. The test group of 38 cats was mildly calorie restricted (6%), which was accomplished by cutting off access to additional food when their allotted calorie intake was reached. All cats were monitored for 9 months, at which point the calorie restriction was ended.
The cats were free fed and typically consumed about 30% of their calories in the morning serving of wet food and 70% in dry food over the remainder of the day. However, the cats in the calorie restricted group quickly changed to rapidly consuming 70% of their calories in the first meal, leaving only 30% of their calories for the rest of the day. The cats in the control group, who continued to be free fed, didn’t change their eating behavior.
“While the control cats’ feeding behaviour remained unchanged throughout the trial, the study cats ate fewer but larger meals, came back faster to the food bowl after each meal, and ate their meals faster on the caloric restriction regimen compared to ad libitum feeding,” explained lead study author Séverine Ligout, PhD, in an interview with International Cat Care.
“However, one month after returning to ad libitum feeding, the study cats’ eating behaviours had returned to their baseline levels, showing that cats were able to readjust their feeding behaviours back to normal.”2
Calorie Restriction Also Increases Conflicts Between Cats
The researchers also observed an increase in conflicts between the calorie-restricted cats just before the first meal of the day. According to the researchers, it is likely linked to higher hunger and food motivation, since the cats have fewer calories to consume and they consume them faster, which leads to a longer period without food between the evening meal and breakfast the next morning.
The higher food motivation undoubtedly creates tension when several cats approach the food bowls for breakfast, leading to an increased likelihood of negative interactions. This behavior has been termed “irritability aggression” in other scientific studies and can be loosely compared to the hunger-driven irritability in humans known as “hangry” (a combination of hungry and angry).
“[The] conflicts consisted of avoidance of each other, one cat displacing another from a location by staring or approaching, lifting a paw in a threatening manner (i.e., as if to swat the other cat with its paw), and some cats actually made contact with another when swatting with their paws,” said Ligout.
“Thus, it looked like cats, just like us, are no strangers to the “hangry” (hungry + angry) feeling of hunger-driven irritability! Although no physical harm occurred during the study period, these interactions have the potential to impact negatively on the cats’ mental wellbeing and therefore welfare during the caloric restriction period, at least at actual feeding times.
These cats were housed in an enriched manner that allowed them to distance themselves from one another using space and physical structures, allowing them to avoid further conflict. In addition, their welfare was continually monitored throughout the study by veterinary professionals.”

Pet Parents Tend to Cave-in to Their ‘Hangry’ Cats
The researchers concluded that restricting the calories cats consume can change their feeding behavior significantly. Specifically, they eat larger meals faster, consuming their daily calorie allotment more quickly, which is outside the normal feline behavior of eating multiple small meals throughout the day.
So, while calorie restriction is a common strategy that humans employ when addressing feline obesity, from the cats’ perspective, it not only results in less food to eat, but also removes their sense of control over certain aspects of food availability and how much to eat.
Given that kitties like to feel in control of their living environment, it makes sense that they get “hangry” when their human attempts to restrict their food intake. According to the researchers, this leads to begging behavior, which then leads to lack of owner compliance.
Carnivores Fed Like Herbivores Results in Metabolic Confusion
Ideally, not allowing cats to free feed and become overweight is always the best advice when it comes to intentionally creating long-lived, disease-free cats. Cats, like other carnivores who remain well-muscled and lean throughout their lives, maintain innate metabolic flexibility when they’re at their ideal body weight and have periods of digestive rest in between meals.
Unlike carnivores, vegan animals (such as cows, goats and horses) need to nibble almost constantly to maintain their metabolic and physiologic wellbeing. The problem is when people feed their cats like goats, creating unhealthy and delicate metabolic butterflies that are prone to all sorts of health problems, especially when dieting.
As cats spend their days nibbling more and more, they can lose their ability to be sensitive to insulin and a variety of other metabolic hormones and end up with an overburdened liver and gallbladder and a sluggish and overworked digestive tract.
Many cats who nibble 24/7 lose their ability to effectively metabolize fatty acids at a normal rate, making them more metabolically fragile and prone to fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) if they skip meals. This is the exact opposite of how nature wired cats to be — resilient, athletic, stealthy hunters who stalk their prey and take long naps in between meals.
As guardians, we often unknowingly fail cats in all sorts of ways. We feed them far too much and far too often and we feed them ultraprocessed, high carb foods, which only fuels the problem. By the time we realize we’ve created hangry addicts, it can be really difficult to switch gears. If you find yourself in this position, working with an integrative feline veterinarian or health coach who can help you map out a strategic, safe and effective plan is the best approach.
Pro Tip: Encourage Hunting Behaviors at Mealtime
The researchers recommend strategies such as puzzle feeders and/or dividing food into multiple smaller meals to help mitigate “hangry” behaviors. This advice makes sense, as wild and feral cats are always on the move in search of their next meal.
Many domesticated cats, on the other hand, are free fed at the same location every day. The more you feed, the less interested your kitty is in “hunting” — which is good exercise — around the house. If the only time you see her in motion is when she’s walking to or from the buffet, she’s getting zero exercise.
My mom adopted two older, obese cats just over a year ago. We weaned them off kibble and onto raw food in a series of small steps and very slowly, so as not to create stress. They were free fed kibble their whole lives (hence the obesity), so first we transitioned them to scheduled feedings: 6 small meals a day. Then after a few weeks we reduced them to 4 meals and then 3 meals a day.
Next we transitioned them from dry to canned food (this took about a month), then weaned them from canned food to cooked commercial food (we used Smalls), then onto raw food. The entire process took over 3 months.
Lastly, we separated their daily food allotments into several small portions at dusk and dawn and placed them in different locations around the house for them to find (we feed them in separate parts of the house while they are “hunting” to make sure they don’t eat each other’s food). I recommend making use of indoor hunting feeders, which encourage natural feline behaviorsand provide mental stimulation as well.
Also consider putting food bowls or the hunting feeders at the bottom and top of as many flights of stairs as you have to encourage muscle-building exercise throughout the day.
A recent study suggesting cats may be healthiest being fed just once a day had many feline fanciers up in arms. If people suddenly cut meals for the majority of indoor, under-exercised, overfed cats all sorts of bad things can happen.
This study demonstrates the behavioral component of “dieting” cats and the correct assumption that the entire process of changing a cat’s food, food volume or feeding schedule is stressful and must be done very slowly (and patiently).

Pet Parents Tend to Cave-in to Their ‘Hangry’ Cats
The researchers concluded that restricting the calories cats consume can change their feeding behavior significantly. Specifically, they eat larger meals faster, consuming their daily calorie allotment more quickly, which is outside the normal feline behavior of eating multiple small meals throughout the day.
So, while calorie restriction is a common strategy that humans employ when addressing feline obesity, from the cats’ perspective, it not only results in less food to eat, but also removes their sense of control over certain aspects of food availability and how much to eat.
Given that kitties like to feel in control of their living environment, it makes sense that they get “hangry” when their human attempts to restrict their food intake. According to the researchers, this leads to begging behavior, which then leads to lack of owner compliance.
Carnivores Fed Like Herbivores Results in Metabolic Confusion
Ideally, not allowing cats to free feed and become overweight is always the best advice when it comes to intentionally creating long-lived, disease-free cats. Cats, like other carnivores who remain well-muscled and lean throughout their lives, maintain innate metabolic flexibility when they’re at their ideal body weight and have periods of digestive rest in between meals.
Unlike carnivores, vegan animals (such as cows, goats and horses) need to nibble almost constantly to maintain their metabolic and physiologic wellbeing. The problem is when people feed their cats like goats, creating unhealthy and delicate metabolic butterflies that are prone to all sorts of health problems, especially when dieting.
As cats spend their days nibbling more and more, they can lose their ability to be sensitive to insulin and a variety of other metabolic hormones and end up with an overburdened liver and gallbladder and a sluggish and overworked digestive tract.
Many cats who nibble 24/7 lose their ability to effectively metabolize fatty acids at a normal rate, making them more metabolically fragile and prone to fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) if they skip meals. This is the exact opposite of how nature wired cats to be — resilient, athletic, stealthy hunters who stalk their prey and take long naps in between meals.
As guardians, we often unknowingly fail cats in all sorts of ways. We feed them far too much and far too often and we feed them ultraprocessed, high carb foods, which only fuels the problem. By the time we realize we’ve created hangry addicts, it can be really difficult to switch gears. If you find yourself in this position, working with an integrative feline veterinarian or health coach who can help you map out a strategic, safe and effective plan is the best approach.
Pro Tip: Encourage Hunting Behaviors at Mealtime
The researchers recommend strategies such as puzzle feeders and/or dividing food into multiple smaller meals to help mitigate “hangry” behaviors. This advice makes sense, as wild and feral cats are always on the move in search of their next meal.
Many domesticated cats, on the other hand, are free fed at the same location every day. The more you feed, the less interested your kitty is in “hunting” — which is good exercise — around the house. If the only time you see her in motion is when she’s walking to or from the buffet, she’s getting zero exercise.
My mom adopted two older, obese cats just over a year ago. We weaned them off kibble and onto raw food in a series of small steps and very slowly, so as not to create stress. They were free fed kibble their whole lives (hence the obesity), so first we transitioned them to scheduled feedings: 6 small meals a day. Then after a few weeks we reduced them to 4 meals and then 3 meals a day.
Next we transitioned them from dry to canned food (this took about a month), then weaned them from canned food to cooked commercial food (we used Smalls), then onto raw food. The entire process took over 3 months.
Lastly, we separated their daily food allotments into several small portions at dusk and dawn and placed them in different locations around the house for them to find (we feed them in separate parts of the house while they are “hunting” to make sure they don’t eat each other’s food). I recommend making use of indoor hunting feeders, which encourage natural feline behaviorsand provide mental stimulation as well.
Also consider putting food bowls or the hunting feeders at the bottom and top of as many flights of stairs as you have to encourage muscle-building exercise throughout the day.
A recent study suggesting cats may be healthiest being fed just once a day had many feline fanciers up in arms. If people suddenly cut meals for the majority of indoor, under-exercised, overfed cats all sorts of bad things can happen.
This study demonstrates the behavioral component of “dieting” cats and the correct assumption that the entire process of changing a cat’s food, food volume or feeding schedule is stressful and must be done very slowly (and patiently).

Why Is My Dog Scared of Everything?

Reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM
By: Victoria Schade


If your dog is scared of literally EVERYTHING, then you understand that life with a fearful dog can be limiting.
Instead of greeting the world with a confident walk and a wagging tail, a fearful dog might shy away from anything new, or worse yet, react preemptively to avoid a new situation altogether.
It’s not easy for a pet parent to admit that their dog is scared of everything because trying to work through those fears can be overwhelming.
Fearfulness does have a place in the wild; it increases an animal’s chance of survival by keeping them away from danger. But when your dog is acting strange and scared in everyday life, it’s stressful for both ends of the leash and can even have long-term health implications.
Let’s take a look at why certain dogs are scared of everything, how to recognize fearful behaviors, which situations trigger fear, and how you can help your dog deal with their fear.
What Makes a Dog Scared of Everything?
Dogs that seem scared of everything can be products of nature and nurture. A dog’s genetic makeup, early experiences, environment and daily life can all have an impact on their temperament.
Lack of Socialization
A common reason for fear in dogs is a lack of positive exposure to new people, animals and environments during the critical fear period of the puppy socialization process.
This important developmental stage in a puppy’s life occurs between 8 and 16 weeks of age, when pups need to have a variety of pleasant interactions with the world around them.
Puppies that don’t have positive exposure to the world around them might be more likely to be wary of anything new or unusual. This can lead them to be scared of things we wouldn’t associate with fear, like people wearing large hats or having a stroller/skateboard/skater go past you.
Genetic Predispositions
However, some nervous dogs might also have a genetic predisposition to fearfulness or shyness. Puppies born to anxious mothers are more likely to be fearful as well.
Traumatic Experiences
For some dogs, all it takes is a single traumatic experience to create lifelong fear responses. For example, a dog that’s caught off guard by firecrackers during a walk might then generalize that fear response to any loud noise—like a car door slamming—and might also develop a fear of walking anywhere near where it happened.
Pain
It’s important to note that some behaviors that look like fear might be related to pain. Dogs that seem “hand shy” and nervous about being touched might actually be dealing with an undiagnosed medical issue.
Your veterinarian can help you determine whether your dog is experiencing pain or suffering from fear-based issues.

Recognizing Fear in Dogs
The first step to helping a dog that’s scared of everything is understanding their body language.
Some fear displays are hard to miss—like a trembling, hunched-over dog that has their ears back and tail tucked. But learning to recognize subtler fear reactions will allow you to intervene before your dog’s fear escalates.
Some of the telltale signs of fear in dogs include:
• Trembling or shivering
• Hunched body with head down
• Ears back
• Tail tucked
• Hair standing up on the neck and back
• Growling
• Showing teeth
A dog that’s afraid might also show these more subtle signs:
• Freezing in place
• Moving in slow-motion
• Repeatedly licking their lips
• Yawning frequently
• Trying to move away from the stressor
• Panting heavily or suddenly stops panting
Keep in mind that some behaviors that look like aggression, like leash reactivity and barking, can also be signs of an underlying fear of something.
Common Things That Dogs Are Scared Of and How You Can Help
Many dog fears are universal—it’s rare that a dog actually enjoys a trip to the vet—however, a dog that’s scared of everything might have a difficult time coping with common, everyday noises or encounters.
Loud Noises
It’s almost impossible to avoid having a startle reflex when you hear an unexpected loud noise, but dogs that are scared of everything will react more dramatically to noises.
For example, a typical dog might jump at the sound of a dropped pan, but a fearful dog might run, hide and then refuse to come out.
How to help:
If your dog only reacts to certain types of noises, like sirens or fireworks or thunder, you can use behavioral modification to help your dog learn to tolerate the sound. Use a recording of the sound to gradually desensitize him to the noise by playing it at a low volume and pairing it with treats.
Increase the sound over a series of training sessions, watching your dog’s body language to make sure that he isn’t becoming uncomfortable with the noise. If your dog is trying to cope with ongoing scary sounds like construction noise, use a white noise machine to muffle the sounds.
Children
Kids can be fast, loud and unpredictable, and because of that, they can be challenging for even the most even-tempered dogs.
But dogs with generalized fear reactions will find children even more distressing, particularly because a child doesn’t understand canine body language and will have a hard time recognizing when a fearful dog is trying to get away.
How to help:
If you don’t typically have children in your home, it’s easiest to manage your dog’s behavior by keeping him in a safe, quiet space when small guests visit.
If you discover that your new dog is fearful around your own children, make sure that he has an area where he can spend time away from them. Then you will need to find a positive-reinforcement dog trainer to help you assess the situation and create a training plan that keeps everyone safe.
Other Dogs
Unfortunately, not every dog wants to be friends with his own kind, particularly timid dogs. If a dog hasn’t had the opportunity to meet dog friends and develop canine language skills, he might wind up feeling overwhelmed when faced with other pups.
How to help:
Helping fearful dogs learn to feel more confident around other dogs requires a slow approach and a good understanding of canine body language. You will need to slowly work through dog introductions in order to keep your dog feeling comfortable.
For dogs that are mildly uncomfortable around other dogs, you should find a mellow, dog-savvy dog and try walking them together, at the same pace but with distance between them. When both dogs seem relaxed, gradually begin to bring them closer together, making sure that they remain calm and happy as they get closer.
Keep early introductions short and end sessions before the nervous dog gets overwhelmed. And remember that making friends with one dog doesn’t mean the behavior will generalize to all dogs.
Strangers
Some dogs are uncomfortable around people that look different from their family (for example, large men with beards or people wearing hats and bulky jackets), but dogs that are afraid of anyone outside their family can make going into public or having guests over traumatic.
How to help:
Using desensitization and counter-conditioning can help a stranger-shy dog start to overcome his fears.
To begin, figure out your dog’s “buffer zone”—the area at which he can remain calm when faced with a stranger. Then have the stranger come into view at the edge of that buffer zone and feed your dog a bunch of extra-special treats that he doesn’t normally get.
Continue giving treats while the person is in view for a few seconds, then have the stranger disappear.
Gradually bridge the gap between your dog and the person over a series of training sessions. Always watch your dog’s body language to make sure they remain calm and confident throughout the training process.
Going Outside
Sometimes the world outside your front door is a scary place. Dogs that move to a different environment, like from the suburbs to the city, might find the noise and crowds in their new neighborhood overwhelming.
Similarly, a traumatic experience outside, like having a fight with another dog, can be enough to create an overwhelming fear of going outside.
How to help:
Dogs that are afraid to leave their home can benefit from a training process called “shaping.” Shaping makes it easier for dogs to face their fears by breaking behaviors down into manageable steps and rewarding the dog for making progress toward the finished product.
Pet parents can begin the process by standing near the door with a handful of treats. When your dog makes any movement towards the door, mark the behavior with a clicker or verbal marker like, “good!” then toss a treat to your dog. Continue to build on and reward each step towards the door until your dog is able to cross the threshold.
Be Patient With Your Dog
Keep in mind that a fearful dog should always set the pace for training. Trying to push a nervous dog beyond his comfort zone could derail the training process, so be patient and encourage your fearful pup as he learns to be a more confident dog.
Talk with your veterinarian about pairing training and desensitization efforts with natural, holistic calming supplements or pheromone collars. Sometimes, medication is very helpful to calm some dogs in certain situations if natural options have not worked. Also, working with a veterinary behaviorist may be the best option if all other routes have failed.
By: Victoria Schade

The Dangers Of Mold Exposure In Dogs

As seen in Dogs Naturally

Do you have mold in your home?

It’s an important question you need to answer because, left unchecked, mold exposure in dogs can cause serious health problems (and it’s true for you too).

Your dog is continuously exposed to mold spores in the air. Like humans, some dogs are more susceptible to mold spores than others. By understanding how to spot and address mold exposure, you can protect your dog from the harmful effects of mold.

What Is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that grows anywhere there’s moisture. Outdoors, mold typically grows in damp shady areas. Indoors, mold can grow anywhere in your home that gets damp and retains moisture. Mold spreads by releasing spores into the air … and the spores can grow on just about any surface.

Every home has moisture issues, whether from condensation, high humidity or water leaks. And every home has the elements that are required for mold growth … moisture, oxygen and organic material. Mold can damage your home structure and create costly repairs … but worse, mold can damage the health of the people and pets who live there.

The health risks of human exposure to mold are well documented. According to the CDC, symptoms of mold exposure can include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. More severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. People with chronic lung illnesses may develop mold infections in their lungs.

And it’s not just people who can get sick from mold … it can harm your dog too. So here’s a closer look at mold exposure in dogs …

Is Mold Bad For Dogs?

Yes, mold is bad for dogs (as well as people). Mold exposure in dogs can cause adverse health effects like …

  • Lung and respiratory issues
  • Damage to the gastrointestinal tract
  • Serious digestive problems
  • Allergic reactions
  • Neurological issues, including tremors and seizures

While the immediate impact of mold is often treatable in the short term, longer term exposure can be more serious and more difficult to manage. When left untreated, mold exposure can lead to organ damage, creating more serious complications.

The dangers of mold exposure in pets came to light in 2007, when a veterinarian found pulmonary hemorrhages in two cats during pre-op procedures (1). Both cats died after complications. According to the report, the home was contaminated with mold from flood damage.

The Truth About Black Mold
Do dogs get sick from black mold? You may have heard that black mold is the most dangerous type of mold, but this isn’t really accurate. In reality, there are over 10,000 species of mold, many of which look quite similar. These species of mold come in a variety of colors and shapes, so you usually can’t identify it just by looking at it.

Any color mold exposure in dogs can be dangerous. So what should you be looking out for?

Dog Mold Exposure Symptoms

Symptoms of mold exposure in dogs include:

  • Respiratory distress (rapid or labored breathing)
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing, wheezing, sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Bleeding from the mouth and/or nose
  •  

Some dogs will have an allergic reaction … with excessive scratching, chewing or licking that can lead to fur loss and the development of painful sores.

If your dog eats mold, it can cause reduced appetite, vomiting and changes in stool.

Signs and symptoms of mold exposure can mimic other health conditions. If your dog is showing any combination of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to take her to your vet.

Long-Term Mold Exposure In Dogs

Over time, mold can cause other problems. One of the long-term consequences of mold exposure in dogs can be aspergillosis, an opportunistic fungal infection. Aspergillosis usually occurs in the nasal passages (nasal aspergillosis).

Symptoms of nasal aspergillosis include

  • Nasal pain, swelling, discharge
  • Nose bleeds
  • Sneezing
  • Reduced appetite

Note: There’s a systemic type of aspergillosis called disseminated aspergillosis (2). Animals with disseminated aspergillosis may experience spinal pain, bone inflammation, fever, vomiting, and weight loss. These symptoms generally develop more gradually after mold exposure. However, disseminated aspergillosis isn’t common … according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, it’s seen most often in middle-age, female German Shepherds. Dogs with compromised immune systems are also at higher risk.

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Where To Find Mold

Because of its location underground, most people recognize that the basement is a prime spot for water leaks and mold. A recent survey found that 55% of homeowners and renters have lived in a home with a wet basement. But water has ways of getting in that are not immediately obvious … and those are the places where mold can thrive. Check these less obvious places for mold in your home:

Cluttered Places
When airflow is blocked by clutter, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can’t properly circulate the air. Condensation can build up on your curtains and vents, creating a moist environment where mold can grow.

Steamy Spaces
Your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and other areas that get steamy and humid are problem areas that need proper ventilation fans to remove the damp air.

Dripping Water
Leaky pipes and drips from condensation that forms on pipes and windows create conditions for mold to grow.

Refrigerator Drip Pan
The drip pan is a place where standing water goes unnoticed and undisturbed — the perfect environment for mold growth.

Air Conditioning Ducts
Mold can grow in organic matter, standing water or condensation in your air conditioning ducts. Preventative maintenance can keep mold from growing in your air conditioning system.

How To Prevent Mold In Your Home

To keep your dog and your family safe from mold, it’s important to remove existing mold and take steps to prevent mold growth.

  • Check the underside of hidden areas such as ceiling tiles, drywall, carpets, and wallpaper for mold, since these places can attract and retain moisture. You may be able to remove small areas of mold from solid surfaces with vinegar or baking soda. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles and avoid breathing in mold or mold spores.
  • Keep your home’s interior as dry as possible. Repair your leaky basement, roof, pipes, windows, and other areas where water is getting in or accumulates from drips or condensation.
  • Ensure that your bathroom and kitchen fans and all ventilation systems are working as they should.
  • If water does get in, clean and thoroughly dry the area as soon as possible.
  • If you find large areas of mold, you may want to hire professional help to take care of the clean up.

When Should You Call A Pro?

It’s important to remember that mold infestation often involves more than meets the eye. If you suspect you have hidden mold, or if the moldy area is too large to clean up with vinegar or baking soda, your safest course of action is to call a professional.

A general contractor or handyman won’t necessarily have the expertise to manage the job. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you “make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold.” Be sure that the professionals you hire have experience, can provide references (be sure to check the references!) and are bonded and insured.

What Will The Pros Do?
When you hire a professional to assess the situation and remove mold from your home, expect the process to look something like this:

  • First, the company should inspect your home and advise you of the extent of your mold problem. Ask them to provide you with a written schedule (including how much time areas of your home will be unavailable to you), instructions on how to prepare and what to expect. For your own safety, your family will not have access to rooms or areas where the mold cleaning team is working.
  • To prevent the mold spores from dispersing into the air, the mold removal specialist will seal off the work area with plastic sheeting. You may have to turn off your heating or air conditioning systems.
  • They’ll remove and discard mold-damaged building materials (drywall, insulation, baseboards, carpeting etc). Restoration is not typically included as part of the mold clean-up.
  • In addition to fans and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums to remove mold spores, most services use antimicrobial chemicals to clean the mold and the stains. Some services use “green” cleaning solutions but even “green” cleaning product can contain dangerous ingredients. A 2015 Australian study found that 100 percent of goods labeled “natural,” “organic,” “non-toxic,” or certified as green gave off at least one potentially toxic chemical (3).
  •  

The mold removal service should show you where and how the water is getting in. Remember that moisture is what allows the mold to grow so you will need to take steps to keep the water out in future. Your mold removal company may offer this service or should be able to recommend a provider.

If you suspect your dog is ill due to mold exposure, talk to your vet. She may not consider the possibility that your dog’s symptoms stem from mold. In addition to treating your dog’s symptoms, be sure to check your home for hidden mold and call a professional if you’re unable to manage the clean-up on your own.

By: Austin Werner is the President of Real Seal LLC, a basement waterproofing company based in Schaumburg, IL. Real Seal is committed to personalized and expedited service and, of course, dry basements. Check Real Seal LLC out at http://therealsealllc.com

 

How To Turn Your Love of Pets Into a Business

By Ryan Goodchild

According to recent research, 70% of U.S. households have at least one pet, and they spend over $126 billion a year on their care. If you’ve been thinking about launching a pet care business, you have picked the perfect time to start.

Choose Your Business 

There are many pet care business opportunities available to you. 

Dog Walking

If you love exercise and dogs, a dog walking role position is a good choice. Canine experts advise dogs need at least 30 minutes and up to two hours of exercise a day. You can help busy pet parents by providing this daily service for their pooches.

Dog Training

If you are great at teaching dogs how to behave or do a few tricks, consider becoming a dog trainer. This job teaches pet parents and their pups habits for a healthy lifestyle. It is best to get certified first so you are prepared to handle different breeds with the right communication style. The startup cost for this business is low as you can train at the pet’s home, a park or in your backyard.

Pet Sitting

Many pets love to stay in their home when their parents go away. Cats, in particular, prefer their surroundings over a boarding service. As a pet sitter, you stop in daily to provide food and water, exercise time, and lots of love and attention. Cats also need their litter box cleaned and daily brushing. It’s a great idea to snap a couple of photos and text them to the pet parent to show how well Fluffy or Fido is doing under your care. To get started, offer your services for free to a couple of households who promise to refer you to their friends and family.

Dog Groomer

Regular grooming is essential to keep a dog healthy, especially during hot weather. Many dog owners prefer to have a dog groomer take care of this instead of doing it themselves. Take a course or intern with a professional to learn the proper techniques. Once you have the tools, you can offer in-home services, open a salon or work out of your house.

Make a Plan

Make a business plan with details on how you’ll establish and maintain your company. Consider creating a “doing business as” name for your company so you can easily offer new services or sell products under a different name. A DBA is also helpful if the web domain name you wanted for your business isn’t available, as you can market it under another name.

Promote Your Company

Creating a Facebook page and website for your new business helps you market your services to potential clients. Include some testimonials from happy customers and lots of photos of your furry clients.

Advertise your dog walking business by printing up business cards and handing them out to people walking their dogs in your neighborhood or local park. Word of mouth referrals should help your business grow. For a dog training business, offer a free class or two at a local park or post your training videos online. Have business cards ready to give to any dog owners you encounter.

Now is a great time to turn your love of animals into a business. Consider one of these startup ideas to begin your new venture.

Rosanne (left) and Diane (right) at the Indie Author Showcase

Nourish your senior horse with acupressure

By Amy SnowNancy Zidonis

Performing gentle acupressure sessions on your senior horse can help enhance his spirit, strength, and longevity.

The more time that passes, the dearer our senior horses become. We share many good times and a few hardships with these equines, growing closer to them through each new experience. So when their beautiful bones become more visible, the hairs around their muzzle turn gray, and they develop a hitch in their step – it’s not easy for us to watch. But while a senior horse often loses his status in a herd, and might not be able to sail over jumps with as much ease, he can still thrive well into his golden years! As long as he’s still here, there are steps you can take to maximize his quality of life – including acupressure.

Supporting his spirit

The more you can support your senior horse during this period of his life, the longer you will have him to love. Chinese medicine offers caring, gentle methods of nourishing your senior horse’s spirit, strength, and longevity. By promoting the harmonious flow of chi, blood, and other vital substances within the horse’s body, you can help him through these latter years in comfort.

Specific acupressure points, called “acupoints”, address and enhance the spirit as your aging horse adjusts to his changing status within the herd. Helping our horses live healthfully and comfortably as they age is the goal, and there are acupoints to help accomplish this.

According to Chinese medicine, emotions impact the horse’s entire being. The ancient Chinese saying, “The spirit is housed in the heart and revealed in the eyes,” couldn’t be truer for horses. When we see a horse with dull, absent-looking eyes, we know he is suffering. An aging horse is bound to lose status in the herd, and is bound to experience a wide variety of emotions during the adjustment period – from fear and anxiety to resignation and withdrawal. Offer your senior an acupressure session that can help calm and nourish his spirit, and clear his mind.

Strengthening muscles

Muscle tone and mass decrease with age; that’s the way it is. However, there are acupoints that enhance the circulation of energy and nourishing blood to the horse’s muscles, helping to sustain and build strength even as he ages. Two actions must occur to accomplish this. First, the horse’s digestive system must be able to break down the ingested forage into bioavailable nutrients; and second, the horse’s vascular system must be able to circulate nutrient-rich blood to the muscles.

When stimulated, the acupoints indicated in the chart below help strengthen muscles and sustain muscle tone, while also supporting digestion and blood circulation.

Equine longevity

Living a long time is one thing. Living a long time in good health is another. We all wish for our senior horses to live long and well. Chinese medicine is known for its attention to longevity. Ancient Chinese doctors knew that longevity is dependent on a robust flow of life-promoting energy (chi), blood, and the circulation and balance of all the vital substances needed to nourish the body. This is a tall order, acupoints known to enhance longevity have been used for thousands of years.

Between current conventional medicine and ancient Chinese medicine, we have the opportunity to enjoy our senior horses longer than ever before. These elders have nourished our lives, so it feels good to offer them acupressure sessions that help them feel their best. In many ways, our caring nourishes us both.

Why Do Dogs Hump?

As seen in PetMD

Humping is a common term for what veterinarians call mounting behavior. This is when a dog puts their front legs around another dog, and then thrusts their pelvis repeatedly (the humping motion). The mounting behavior can be directed towards the hind end of another dog, or sometimes the other dog’s head or side, or even toward a person.

Both male and female dogs, whether they are spayed or neutered or not, can perform mounting behavior. So why do dogs hump dogs, people, toys, or just the air, even after they are fixed?

Reasons Why Dogs Hump

Mounting behavior is a natural, instinctive behavior that occurs in puppies 3-6 week of age, most commonly during play. Both male and female puppies may mount each other.

Mounting can also occur when adult dogs play with another dog or person. People commonly think mounting behavior is strictly sexually motivated.

In unneutered male dogs, mounting behavior is in fact influenced by testosterone—it will occur in the presence of an unspayed female dog or a female dog in heat. But people assume the behavior will stop once their dog has been neutered. While neutering will reduce the mounting behavior by 50-60%, not all humping behavior is sexual in nature.

While there may be a hormonal reason that causes a dog to mount, humping behavior is not always triggered by hormones.

Humping can occur when dogs are excitable, such as during play or after greeting another dog. Some dogs may perform this behavior when they see their favorite dog friend or person.

Sometimes dogs hump to get their pet parent’s or another person’s attention. It is difficult for most people to ignore a dog when they are mounting their leg. If the person is sitting on the ground, the dog may mount them from the side or their back.

Mounting behavior can also be one way of conveying social status in dogs. Some dogs may mount other dogs to assert their status, but this behavior is usually accompanied by additional social signaling. Most social communication between dogs can occur without it escalating to one dog mounting the other. It is less likely to occur in a social context with the pet parent. In most cases of humping, there is another underlying cause.

Why Is My Dog Trying to Hump All of the Sudden?

This behavior may seem to come out of nowhere when a male dog reaches sexual maturity around 6-18 months of age, depending upon the breed of the dog. Some female dogs may mount people or objects when they are in heat. If the mounting behavior increases in frequency during this time period, it is most likely hormonally driven in intact animals.

If your dog is already spayed or neutered, then there may a learned component to this behavior. Every time your dog humps, you may be inadvertently reinforcing their behavior.

For example, your dog may mount you to tell you they want to play. You might push them away using your hands or legs. In your dog’s mind, this strategy worked to get your attention and you are now “wrestling” with them.

Why Do Dogs Hump People?

Humping behavior can be directed toward a person when a dog is excited. It is a sign of mental or emotional arousal. The behavior can be a physical outlet for the dog or a way of seeking attention.

Some dogs may just mount the person, but other dogs may mount and escalate to biting when the person tries to push them off. Legs are the most mounted areas because they are easily within a dog’s reach. However, it is not uncommon for dogs to mount any body part within reach.

Dogs may select a person to mount based on their relationship with the individual. It may be a sign that the dog prefers the person. Or it could actually be a sign that the dog may be anxious about that person. You would need to look at the dog’s relationship to the person to understand the underlying motivation.

Children can be targets of dog humping due to their size and depending on the dog’s previous experience or relationship with a child.

Why Do Dogs Hump the Air?

Some dogs may be excited or emotionally aroused but have been previously punished for humping. In this case, a dog may not be sure whether they should make physical contact or not. These dogs would be most likely to hump the air next to another dog or a person.

Why Is My Dog Humping My Cat?

If your dog humps your cat, it may be a sign of excitement or part of play, if the two pets do usually play with each other. Some small dogs may mount a cat if there is social conflict between them.

Should You Let Dogs Hump Things?

Some dogs hump their favorites toys, blanket, or pillow. They may hump regardless of whether you’re around or not and in any environment.

Some dogs may hump when they are anxious. This is referred to as displacement behavior. The dog is anxious and engages in a particular behavior as an outlet for their anxious energy, similar to an anxious person tapping their foot.

If your dog engages in this behavior for a short period of time and is not causing any injuries, then there’s no harm in allowing your dog to hump. It may be a self-soothing behavior for your dog.

However, if you think it’s an unsightly problem, you need to engage your dog in another behavior whenever they try to mount an object. This may mean keeping all pillows, toys, and blankets out of your dog’s reach.

When Is Humping a Problem in Dogs?

Humping can be a problem when your dog spends most of their time performing this behavior. If you have difficulty distracting and redirecting your dog from humping, it may be a sign of compulsive behavior.

In male dogs, frequent episodes of mounting may cause dermatitis over their foreskins. It is a serious problem when a male dog humps objects frequently enough that he causes lesions to form on the tip of his penis. The lesions can be painful, and in some cases, they can cause scarring at the tip of the penis, therefore forming a urinary blockage.

A dog with this condition needs immediate medical attention.

Frequent expression of mounting behavior can also exacerbate a painful condition, such as if your dog already has degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis in their hips or knees.

How to Stop Dog Humping

It may be very embarrassing to see your dog mount other dogs, people, or children. Many pet parents may pull their dogs away and scold them. This does not teach a dog to stop performing the behavior. Instead, it may increase a dog’s anxiety. 

Pet parents may also be inclined to place their dog on leash, tether them, or if at home, place their dog in a crate or another room to calm down. While these options do stop the humping behavior, better options include distracting your dog and redirecting them to perform alternate behaviors.

It is difficult for a dog to hump another dog if you focus your dog’s attention on chasing their favorite ball, for example. Or you could call your dog and engage them in calming behaviors, such as getting them to sit or lie down next to you.

When your dog engages in more appropriate behaviors, give them plenty of treats, praise, and attention. You can also keep your dog focused for longer by offering food puzzle toys or a long-lasting chew.

References

1. Beaver B V. Canine Behavior Insights and Answers 2nd Edition. 2nd ed. Saunders; 2009.

2. Hopkins S, Schubert T HB. Castration of adult male dogs: effects on roaming, aggression, urine marking, and mounting. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1976.

3. Bergman L. Canine Mounting: An Overview. NAVC Clin Br. Published online 2012.

Does my Cat love me?

As seen in PetMD

It’s a common misconception that our feline friends are not affectionate creatures. Yes, it’s true that earning the love of a cat is not always easy, but when a cat begins to show trust and adoration for you, there’s often no better feeling of accomplishment.

Their furry counterparts, dogs, are much more open with their love through licking, wagging tails, constant and sometimes overbearing attention, and obvious “come play with me” body language.

Cats are much more subtle in showing their love, though that does not mean that the shared bond between cats and humans is any less than with dogs. It just means that you’ll need to work harder to understand your cat’s love language and boundaries in order to build trust.

12 Signs Your Cat Loves You

Body language is most important when understanding how a cat shows love. Here are some common signs that your cat loves you:

1. Slow Blinking

Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul. With some animal species, eye contact should be avoided, as it can be interpreted as being aggressive.

Cats, on the other hand, use eye contact with their people to show adoration, and often only directly look into the eyes of those that they trust and love.

They often will make eye contact with lowered eyelids and steady, slow blinks. This is considered a feline version of a kiss, and you can even try slow blinking to show love back to cats.

2. Headbutting

Your cat may bump their head against you or rub their cheeks against you to show affection. This is a social behavior that is formed in kittenhood through headbutting other kittens and their mother.

It is often an attempt to mark you with their scent to claim you as one of their own. It helps cats bond together and is offered to their humans to show love.

3. Grooming

Cats groom each other as a display of affection, and this behavior will extend to humans when trust is built. Cats will often lick their people or allow them to brush them.

Licking is similar to the grooming they would perform on their feline friends and allows for marking of each other. Grooming builds a bond between cat and human. Just be certain to watch for fast tail swishing and listen for any growling or hissing, because grooming, especially with brushing, can be overstimulating if it’s forceful or goes on for too long.

4. Kneading

Cats usually knead with their front paws. This is a behavior that begins in kittenhood and is associated with nursing on their mother. Kneading is believed to bring comfort and perhaps endorphins to the brain after nursing has ceased.

Relaxed cats that knead are showing contentment. They will often knead when you gently pet or stroke them. Sometimes cats knead to create a softer sleeping spot, which is considered an innate behavior.

5. Showing Their Belly

This is often considered the ultimate sign of trust for a cat. Cats only lie on their backs and show their bellies when they are in their most relaxed state.

This is not an invitation to pet or rub your cat’s belly, though! They are simply communicating that they feel comfortable and safe enough to reveal one of the most vulnerable parts of their body. If you go in for the belly rub, be careful, as your cat might retaliate with a bite or scratch.

6. Meowing

Cats will often give us short, quiet meows when we speak slowly and softly to them and they feel comfortable. If the meows get longer and drawn out or turn to hisses, then that is a sign that your kitty has had enough interaction.

7. Purring

Cats often purr to show contentment when they are resting near you or when you’re petting them. They may also purr when they’re nervous, but this is often paired with different body language such as laying their ears back, putting their head down, fast tail-swishing, or hiding.

8. Greeting You at the Door

Your cat is trying to show you that they missed you when they greet you at the door. This is often followed by walking in-between your legs and curling their tail around your legs. Sometimes it’s also accompanied by meowing and “rattle-tail” behavior, where your cat will shake their tail quickly.

This is your cat’s way of welcoming you home. They may also be telling you something more important, like they’re ready to eat, they need fresh water, or their litter box needs to be cleaned, so be sure to check these things.

9. Following You

Cats will often follow those that they love and trust around the home, or even outdoors if your kitty is an outdoor cat. It is similar to the greeting at your front door, where they follow behind you and keep you in sight at all times. They may also weave around your legs.

10. Tail Language

Cats often use their tails to express adoration for their owners. A content cat will often hold their tail in an upright position with a “C-shape” or hook at the very top. They may slowly wag their tail back and forth and allow it to touch you when they are lying next to you. Sometimes they will even rattle their tail while walking when they are very happy to see you.

11. Bringing You Presents

Cats are hunters at heart. A cat that is allowed outdoors will continue this hunting behavior by killing rodents and birds and bringing the remains back to their humans as a “gift.”

Though this may turn your stomach, it truly is a sign of love and pride. Your cat wants to reward you for your love. Indoor cats will often do this with toys or objects since they do not have the option to hunt live game.

12. Sleeping Near You

A cat who chooses to sleep on or close to you is showing their love and trust in you. Even if they choose to lie just out of reach for petting, this means that they feel safe and trust that you will protect them, or they will protect you if danger appears.

Cats show love in many ways. Their body language, behaviors, and vocalizations often tell us a lot about their level of trust and adoration. Acknowledging and understanding these behaviors can help build a strong, loving bond with your cat. A cat’s love is not always easy to gain, but once trust is built, there is no better relationship.

SHOULD YOU HUG YOUR CAT?

As seen in  PetMD

You’ve probably seen cats being hugged, kissed, and carried, and still looking totally content with life. And then there’s the opposite scenario—a kitty that doesn’t hesitate to take a swipe at you if you just try to pet them or walk by them too closely.

With the big difference in personalities, it’s hard to know if a particular cat likes being hugged. Do some just tolerate it? Do some actually like being hugged? Should you hug your cat?

Do Cats Like Hugs?

The truth is, many cats HATE to be hugged. They don’t like being held against their will, and especially not in a firm fashion.

If you’ve witnessed the average cat being hugged, you’ve probably seen squirming, meowing, panting, and eventually, claws. Don’t take it personally—most cats view hugging as a form of human-induced torture, pleasurable to the human part of the equation only.

However, some cats do seem to enjoy it. So what is the difference here? There are a lot of factors that help determine whether cats love or hate hugging. Here are a few.

Learning to Like Hugs in Kittenhood

Some cats may get used to being hugged in kittenhood. If you have a very young kitten and they grow up being hugged, they are more likely to enjoy (or at least tolerate!) hugging than, for example, an adult feral cat that you bring into your home. 

Easygoing Cat Breeds

Some cat breeds are said to be more mellow than the average cat, including the RagdollScottish Fold, and Sphynx.

These breeds lean more toward the easygoing side, so they are more likely to enjoy handling or hugging. That said, cats are still individuals, and you may well find that your Ragdoll cat hates hugging every bit as much as your Domestic Longhaired cat.

On the whole, however, adopting a sweet and mellow kitty from your local shelter and spending time with them on a daily basis is just as likely to yield affectionate results.

How You Hug Your Cat

How you approach your kitty may influence the response you get, too. If you swoop in like a giant predator, catch them off guard, and hoist them to the ceiling, that probably isn’t going to go over well. However, if you work up to it slowly, starting with some face scratches, then body rubs, your cat may let you hug them, too.

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Likes Hugs?

Cats are the masters of subtlety, unless they don’t like something. You will likely know quite quickly whether your cat is a fan of hugs just by observing their body language. Cats that enjoy hugs lean into them. They will often purrheadbutt you, and sometimes even drool.

On the other hand, cats that don’t like hugs try to flee, push you away, and give you signals that they are annoyed. They may lay their ears back, swish their tail, and even growl. Some cats will actually “freeze,” leading you to think that they don’t mind being hugged, but if you look at them closely, they may have dilated eyes and a stressed expression.

A safe general rule is to immediately let go of any cat that struggles or acts like they don’t want to be held, cuddled, or hugged—and be prepared to beg for forgiveness.

There are other ways to share affection with your cat, such as gentle scratches, grooming them with a cat brush, and giving them treats. The best bet is to find out what your kitty enjoys so the bonding time is pleasant for both of you.

Do My Cat’s Gums Look Normal? Here’s How to Tell

By PetWellbeing

When your cat yawns, you might get a brief glimpse at what’s going on in their mouth. After taking a peek, cat owners often ask themselves, “Are my cat’s gums normal?”

The eyes might be the window to the soul, but the gums are the window to your cat’s oral health. Cats are masters at hiding illness, so inspecting the gums is a good place to start—if they let you!

If your cat is okay with it, check their gums on a regular basis to detect potential health concerns.

Traits of healthy cat gums

Gums with the following characteristics indicate your kitty is in good health.

  • Pink color: Healthy cat gums are light pink in color. The ideal shade of pink is one that’s neither too bright nor too pale. Some cats, particularly black and orange ones, naturally have black or spotted gums. This is normal as long as the gums have been black their whole life. Double check with a vet to make sure black is a normal color for your cat’s gums.
  • Slippery and wet: When you run a finger along your cat’s gums, they should feel slippery and coated in saliva. This is a good indicator that your kitty is well hydrated.
  • Smooth texture: Healthy cat gums should feel smooth, not bumpy. Some cats develop black or brown spots that look like freckles as they get older. Pigmentation is a normal part of the aging process for some senior kitties so long as the gums still have a smooth texture.

Unhealthy gums and their diseases

Schedule a trip to the vet if you notice any of these abnormal characteristics.

  • Red or bright pink gums: Redness indicates the presence of gingivitis when it appears around teeth or along the gum line. Gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, in which case the entire gum line will look either red or bright pink. Gums that suddenly change to these colors could mean your cat is experiencing heat stroke. Heat stroke can quickly turn fatal and requires an immediate trip to the vet.
  • Gums growing over teeth: Pet parents should be concerned if their cat’s teeth look like they’re sinking below the gum line. This is a clear sign of a dental disease called tooth resorption. Tooth resorption occurs when a tooth slowly deteriorates and gets absorbed back into the jaw bone. It’s a long, painful process that most older cats experience at some point in their life.
  • Dry or tacky gums: Your cat’s gums shouldn’t feel sticky or dry to the touch. If that’s the case, your cat might be severely dehydrated. This symptom sometimes appears along with the redness associated with heat stroke. Encourage your kitty to drink lots of water right away. If the gum’s moisture doesn’t return to normal, you’ll need to visit an emergency clinic, where vets can rehydrate your cat.
  • Blue, purple or gray gums: All of these colors are cause for immediate concern. Gums that have paled into a blue, purple or gray hue indicate your cat isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could be due to pneumonia or a blockage in the wind pipe. Don’t wait a second longer—these colors require immediate medical attention!
  • White or pale pink gums: While blue indicates a lack of oxygen, white or pale pink gums mean your kitty has poor blood circulation. It’s possible their body isn’t producing enough red blood cells, but these colors could also be a warning sign for internal bleeding. Most cats who recently sustained an injury will exhibit white or pale pink gums. Check with your vet for a proper diagnosis.
  • Bumps, craters or lesions: A bumpy gum texture usually indicates that something’s wrong. Cats develop bumps or lesions on their gums for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the bumps are malignant tumors associated with oral cancer. This is especially true if the bumps are quite painful. Gums that are pockmarked with craters or open sores could mean your kitty has a bacterial infection caused by poor dental hygiene. No matter the cause, anything other than a smooth texture warrants a trip to the vet.

If your cat seems off, their gums are the first place to look. A change in color, texture or moisture can speak volumes about your kitty’s health. While unhealthy gums can indicate a problem, pet parents shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what their cats may or may not be experiencing. Abnormal gum characteristics are your cue to visit a vet clinic where the experts can accurately determine the proper next steps.

Water-The Most Important Nutrient for Horses

by Nutrena Roy J.

Water is the most important nutrient that we provide for horses on a year around basis. Horses need 2 to 3 times more water than other feedstuffs. An 1100 lb horse on a dry forage diet at an average temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit will need a minimum of 6-7 gallons of water per day or 48-56 lbs of water, and many horses will drink more water than the minimum. We all appreciate that the water requirement may double at high temperatures, but may not realize that at -4 degrees Fahrenheit; the quantity required is about 10-12 gallons per day, or actually higher than at moderate temperature. The onset of cold weather can actually increase the requirement for water because there is no fresh grass and the air is very dry.

There is a misconception that domestic horses can easily eat enough snow to survive. While horses in the wild do adapt to lower water intakes, partially because food intake is also frequently reduced, horses can survive longer without food than they can without water. Reduced water intake can also impair digestion and potentially contribute to the incidence of impaction colic.

It also requires a great deal of energy to eat snow, melt the snow in the body and raise the fluid temperature to normal body temperature of 99.5- 100.5. Increasing the temperature of 10 gallons of water from 32 degrees to 100 degrees takes about 1372 Calories or about the amount of digestible energy in a pound of feed. Melting the snow to get to water will take a great deal more energy and the horses will not readily eat a pile of snow the size of 20 five gallon buckets. It takes about 10 inches of snow to have one inch of water.

Providing horses with fresh clean water at an appropriate temperature all year around is a great management tool to reduce the risk of colic, maintain healthy digestion, maintain body condition and even save a bit of money on feed cost!

How to Curb Destructive Cat Scratching Behaviors

Reviewed and updated for accuracy on January 2, 2019 by Katie Grzyb, DVM

As seen in PetMD

Behind every cat behavior there is a reason, and understanding some basic—and natural—cat behaviors may save you a great deal of time and energy when your cat is scratching at your carpets and furniture—and your patience.

But before you start trying to deter your cat’s scratching, it is important to understand why cats scratch and why it’s such an essential part of their overall health and happiness.

Why Do Cats Need to Scratch?

Dr. Leslie Sinn, CPDT-KA, DVM, and founder of Behavior Solutions for Pets, explains it like this, “Scratching is a normal behavior for cats. They do it to physically stretch as well as maintain their claws (in preparation for hunting). Vigorous scratching helps to dislodge old nail covers, expose the new growth underneath, and is also used by cats to mark their territory.” Dr. Sinn adds that it is really only when cats are scratching our furniture do we label it destructive.

Why does this matter? Scratching is a natural and healthy behavior for cats, so you should be redirecting the behavior rather than trying to stop the behavior. Lisa Stemcosky, CCBC, CPDT-KA, SBA, founder of Pawlitically Correct, a behavior modification and training organization, is known for her work in the shelter animal community. She puts it like this, “Cats aren’t intending to be destructive when they are scratching items in the home. Scratching is an instinctive behavior for cats, they have to do it. They scratch for many reasons. They scratch to groom their claws, to mark territory both visibly and with scent, when they are excited, and when they are stressed.”

Cat scratching is imperative in keeping cats healthy and well-balanced, so it is important that we give them the things they need to do it in a productive way. You wouldn’t withhold cat food or water from your cat, so why withhold something else they need to thrive?

Stemcosky explains, “Because scratching is so important to cats, you don’t want to alter the behavior. But, you can teach cats to scratch in the appropriate places. Cats want to scratch in social areas and areas that are important to them.”

Redirecting the Behavior

Stemcosky explains, “First, you’ll want to make the areas that you don’t want them to scratch undesirable. For example, if your cat is scratching your sofa, you can put foil over the area that they are scratching. But you need to add appropriate scratching surfaces in that area for your cat. A study showed that cats prefer a tall, sturdy post covered with sisal. In addition to providing cats with an appropriate scratching substrate, you should reward them for using it, a yummy treat when you see them investigate it or scratch on it.”

Cat scratchers are great for providing your cat with an appropriate place for cat scratching. It may take some experimenting to find a cat scratcher that matches your cat’s scratching style, but here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Does your cat prefer to scratch sides of furniture or your carpets? If she is a side-of-the-couch scratcher, start with a cat scratching post or hanging cat scratcher. If she is a carpet scratcher, try something horizontal like cat scratch boxes to mimic the floor she enjoys so much.
  • Which substrate does your cat prefer? As Stemcosky explained, sisal is a popular choice among the feline community, but there are a variety of other options out there. Try something made of recycled cardboard or carpeting.
  • Once you have chosen a cat scratcher, make sure to place it in the same area where your cat likes to do their scratching. You can also add a little bit of catnip onto the new cat scratcher to entice them over to that option. You want the cat to keep scratching but scratching the appropriate cat-designated furniture.

In understanding this basic instincts of our feline housemates and how to coexist comfortably, we can create a well-balanced home for all.

The Dangers of Deterrents and Declawing

Declawing is the amputation of part of the cat’s toes, and it is illegal in most cities nationwide, with strong support from the animal community. It strips the cat of its natural ability to climb and protect itself and can even cause chronic pain and behavioral changes. In fact, many rescue facilities have a no-declaw clause in their adoption contracts. Before considering this radical procedure, speak with your veterinarian regarding safer options.

Both Dr. Sinn and Stemcosky recommend against using cat deterrent spray. Stemcosky explains, “I never recommend using [deterrents], like canned air or a spray bottle to punish a cat for doing something. It’s better to teach them what you want them to do and where. As for pheromone sprays, the studies are 50-50 on their effectiveness. Using them won’t hurt anything but you may not get the benefits that you were hoping for.”

Dr. Sinn further explains, “The problem with using deterrent sprays is that the cat often associates the spray with the owner becoming worried or scared in the owner’s presence. At best, they learn not to scratch when the owner is around but go right back to it when the owner is absent.” She goes on to say, “Indoor cats need attention and exercise, so spending at least 15 minutes of ‘me’ time with your cat will help—playing, grooming and petting.”

5 Steps to Help Keep Your Pet’s Mouth Healthy

By Dr. Becker DVM

  1. Feed a nutritionally optimal, species-specific, fresh food diet, and feed it raw if possible. When your dog or cat gnaws on raw meat, it acts as a kind of natural toothbrush and dental floss.
  2. If you have a dog, offer recreational bones and/or a fully digestible, high quality dental dog chew to help control plaque and tartar. The effect of dental chews is similar to raw bones, but safer for power chewers or dogs who have restorative dental work and can’t chew raw bones.
  3. Brush your pet’s teeth, preferably every day. A little time spent each day brushing your dog’s or kitty’s teeth can be tremendously beneficial in maintaining her oral health and overall well-being.
  4. Perform routine mouth inspections. Your pet should allow you to open his mouth, look inside, and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along the gum line and on the roof of the mouth. After you do this a few times, you’ll become aware of any changes that occur from one inspection to the next. You should also make note of any differences in the smell of your pet’s breath that aren’t diet-related.
  5. Arrange for regular oral exams performed by your veterinarian. He or she will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your pet’s mouth, and recommend professional teeth cleaning under anesthesia, if necessary.

Daily homecare and as-needed professional attention by your veterinarian are the best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy and disease-free. They are also important for pets with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure.

What to Expect From a Veterinary Oral Exam and Cleaning

Prior to the oral exam and cleaning, your pet should undergo a physical exam and blood tests to ensure she can be safely anesthetized for the procedure. The day of the cleaning, she’ll be sedated and a tube will be placed to maintain a clear airway and so that oxygen and anesthetic gas can be given.

An IV catheter should also be placed so that fluids and anesthesia can be administered as appropriate throughout the procedure. If you’re wondering why pets require general anesthesia and intubation for a seemingly simple procedure, there are a number of benefits:

  • Anesthesia immobilizes your dog or cat to insure her safety and cooperation during a confusing, stressful procedure
  • It provides for effective pain management during the procedure
  • It allows for a careful and complete examination of all surfaces inside the oral cavity, as well as the taking of digital x-rays, which are necessary to address issues that are brewing below the surface of the gums that can’t been seen and could cause problems down the road
  • It permits the veterinarian to probe and scale as deeply as necessary below the gum line where 60% or more of plaque and tartar accumulate
  • Intubation while the patient is under general anesthesia protects the trachea and prevents aspiration of water and oral debris

While your pet is anesthetized, her teeth will be cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler as well as a hand scaler to clean under and around every tooth. Your vet will use dental probes to measure the depths of the pockets in the gum around each tooth, and x-rays should be taken.

Once all the plaque and tartar is off the teeth, the animal’s mouth will be rinsed and each tooth will be polished. The reason for polishing is to smooth any tiny grooves on the teeth left by the cleaning so they don’t attract more plaque and tartar. After polishing, the mouth is rinsed again.

The oral exam, x-rays and cleaning with no tooth extractions usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. The cost will depend on where you live, and typically ranges from around $400 to $1,000. Veterinary dental specialist visits will be more expensive; you’re paying for more specialized equipment and their ability to expertly manage complicated oral problems.

Extractions are typically priced according to the type of tooth and the time and work needed to remove it. There are simple extractions, elevated extractions, and extractions of teeth with multiple roots, which tend to be the priciest. Exceptional pain management after dental extractions should never be elective; always give adequate pain control for as long as necessary after more invasive dental procedures.