Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Signs that Your Pet Is Overweight

Currently, one of the top health concerns in pets is obesity.

Obesity in pets can result in serious health effects, such as reducing the lifespan of your dog or cat, even if they are only moderately obese.

Excess body fat can affect multiple areas of the body, including bones, joints, digestive organs and the organs responsible for breathing capacity. 

It is very important to assess and monitor your pets weight for the health and well being of your pet.

Taking a quick assessment of optimal body weight could be the start to lengthening your dog or cat’s life.

So how do you know if your pet is a little on the heavy side? The following points will help you to assess if your pet is overweight and how you can help them loose or prevent the excess weight.  

sad dog lying on floor


Your Pet Has Lost their Figure


When looking at your pet from above, you should be able to see some gentle curves on their back. There should be a gentle dip after their ribs (waist area) with a gradual slope until the base of their tail.

When looking at your pet from the side, the area just before the hind legs should view as though it is “tucked up”. From their ribs to their hind legs it should not appear as a flat line along the base of their belly.

It may be hard to view the shape of your pet if they have a heavy/long haircoat. If this is the case, simply run your hands along the outline of your pet as this should reveal these natural curves.


view of dog from above




You Can No Longer Feel Your Pet’s Ribs


You should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs by applying gentle pressure with your fingertip. If you are only able to feel cushioned body wall, your pet is probably carrying too much weight.

man holding cat



Your Pet is Food Obsessed


If your pet is constantly on the lookout for food, compared to a pet who is comfortable free feeding, they are more likely to be overweight. If your dog or cat loves to eat however needs to lose some excess weight, it is best to offer them low-calorie food and treats as an alternative. Treats such as raw carrots can be a great alternative if your pet loves a treat.

cat with empty food bowl


Your Pet is Uninterested/Unable to Exercise


A pet that is of optimum body weight and in good health are usually excited to go for a walk or to play with toys and their owner. If a pet is overweight they may have the want to play/exercise to begin with, however will soon begin to pant excessively or take breaks frequently in order to keep up with the physical activity. Carrying extra body weight can also lead to extra pressure on your pet’s joints, heart and lungs making it harder for them to exercise.



Your Pet Suffers More in the Heat


In addition to an overweight pet’s body having to work harder just to move around, overweight pets overheat easily. Fat is a great insulator. This condition is known as heat intolerance, and will put overweight pets at a great risk of getting heat stroke.


cat lying on chair




Support Tools for a Healthier Pet


Before taking action to guide your pet to a healthier lifestyle, it is best to work with your vet to rule out other medical problems that may be causing your pets excessive weight as some diseases may cause your pet to be overweight.

In most cases, obesity is caused due to overfeeding and the intake of high calorie foods as well as not enough exercise. In order to get your dog or cat back on track, it is best to seek your vet for a diet and exercise plan. Every pet is different and therefore require will require different diet and exercise plans to follow.

If you do think your pet is a little on the heavy side, start by trying to exercise them more, however only for short amounts of time. In addition to this, consider alternative foods if your pets current diet includes high calorie foods.





Is your cat trying to tell you something? Find out how to ready your cats body language here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Reading Your Cat’s Body Language

Is your cat trying to tell you something?

When she exposes her stomach does she want you to rub it?

Which signals mean ‘stay away’?


cat lying on ground



Their Eyes

A cat’s pupil will dilate when they are scared or surprised. A Vet knows that seeing dish-like pupils in a bright examination room means to beware. A constricted pupil could also mean your cat is feeling aggressive or tense.

Like a human’s, a cat’s pupil will react to light by dilating in darkness and constricting in well-lit areas, so it is important to take this in to consideration when reading your cat.

Your cat holding eye contact could be communicating a challenge, whereas slow blinking, having her eyes half closed, or sleeping is a sign that your cat trusts you. In a social setting, cats will often look at someone who is not paying them any attention.


cat looking up



Their Tail

A cat will often use their tail to communicate a message. A happy or confident cat will have their tail pointed straight up, whereas a tail pointed down could mean that they are feeling threatened or scared.

A wagging or thumping tail does not indicate the same feeling in a cat as a dog. If your cat’s tail is moving rapidly, it indicates they could be feeling agitated. On the other hand, a slow moving tail is a sign that your cat is trying to make up their mind about something.

When your cat is fluffing up their tail, they are most likely feeling threatened or in danger and is trying to make theme self look as big as possible. A cat with a fluffed tail is best left alone until they calm down.


cat lying down



Their Ears

Ears turned forward suggests that your cat is in a happy and playful mood, whereas if they are turned back they are likely to be feeling anxious or nervous. If their ears are flat against their head, they are feeling aggressive and possibly ready for a fight.

If their ears are standing straight up tall, your cat is alert and at attention. This will often happen when they hear an unfamiliar sound.


cat looking up



Their Body

A cat spread out on their back could be an invitation for you to rub their belly, however use caution when approaching them. A cat will also assume this position when they are feeling defensive, and may be accompanied by extended claws.

If they begin to attack your hand as you approach them, the best thing to do is to freeze. A cat is hard-wired to pounce on moving objects, and keeping still for a moment before retreating is the best thing to do.


cat lying on couch



It is important to keep in mind that these are only guidelines, and may differ from cat to cat. Nobody will know your cat as well as you.

Is your dog being territorial? Getting aggressive around other people/pets? Find out why this may be and how to stop it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Training a Territoriality Aggressive Dog – Back to Basics

Is your dog being territorial? Getting aggressive around other people/pets?

Dogs that are territoriality aggressive can be very dangerous and a huge liability for homeowners. If the behaviour goes unchecked it is likely to increase in severity and can put visitors and other pets at risk. 

Maybe it’s time to think about some basic training to help the well-being of your dog and for the safety of yourself and others.


dog snarling


Why is My Dog Territorial?


Like most creatures, dogs are territorial by nature. It is common for dogs to inherently guard resources and possessions deemed valuable to them. 

Some dogs are genetically inclined to have a greater aggressive tendency. This is due, in great part, to selective breeding for dogs that are best suited to guard us and our property.

Other underlying causes of territorial aggression can occur due to the lack of adequate, early socialization or handling exercises and underlying medical issues. Since there is most often a genetic tendency to territorial aggression, the goal is not to cure the problem but to control and manage it in an effort to decrease severity of possible aggressive displays.



dog with ears down



Signs 


The subtlety or severity of aggressive displays or behaviours in response to a real or perceived threat can vary on a wide scale and include some or all of the following signs:
Freezing when approached
Turning away
Lifting of the lips
Growling
Barking
Snapping
Lunging
Biting



dog snarling


Suggestions 


Territorial behaviour can become very dangerous if it turns aggressive. These tips and suggestions for training your territorial dog are a great starting point. 


1. Basic Obedience

Basic obedience lays the groundwork for troubleshooting problem behaviour, and basic commands can be incredibly useful in a tense situation. For example, if your dog has mastered the art of “sit-stay,” you can use it to keep them calm in another part of the house when someone knocks on the door.

Pet gates and a crate will also help as you’re working on the command. Even if you’ve already been through basic obedience training with your dog, a refresher will help both of you focus and bond. Aim for a few five-minute sessions each day, and be sure to make training worth it by offering rewards.

2. Recall 

Recall, or coming when called, is among the most important things you can teach your pup, and for a territorial dog for that matter. You should be able to work on recall anywhere, but if your dog is especially territorial in the yard, indoors is a good starting point.

Again, be sure to reward them for getting it right! You want your dog to know that good things come to those who come when called. 

3. Nothing in Life is Free 

Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can reinforce good behaviour by practising “Nothing in Life is Free” training.

It’s time to re-train your dog (and yourself) that all resources come from you. Again, start small: require your dog to “sit” before you reward them by putting the leash on to take a walk, or sustain a “down” command for a few minutes before being released to eat their dinner. 

Asking your dog to work for everything they want is a positive, safe way to remind them that you control the resources, and can greatly reduce guarding behaviour.

4. Quiet Down 

If you find that your dog barks when they sense a threat to their territory, teach them a command that means “be quiet.”

Don’t wait for your dog to be stuck in a barking loop in the backyard, before teaching them to calm down.

Start in a peaceful environment such as indoors, and gradually introduce more distractions as your dog becomes better at calming on cue. The idea is to reinforce a calm emotional state. This is a step beyond the basics, but when practised and reinforced, a “be quiet” command can help an anxious, territorial dog relax.

Training can go a long way, but while you’re still working on these basics, it’s up to you to reduce potential prompts. This may mean closing the curtains, feeding in a private place, and gating your dog away from the front door when guests are expected. Good luck!

dog sitting on lead



Has your pet ever done something out of the ordinary and you’ve wondered whether or not you should tell your vet?Find out when you should seek your vet.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

4 Things You Should Be Telling Your Vet – But Aren’t

Has your pet ever done something out of the ordinary and you’ve wondered whether or not you should tell your vet?
 

It can be hard to identify when differences occur in your pet if you’re being over protective or just concerned and unsure.

In some cases, changes in your pet can be harmless, however they can also be serious and possibly life threatening.
So what should you be telling your vet on your furry friends next checkup? 


vet, dog and owner


1. If Your Pet Ate Something Unfamiliar


If your fur friend is feeling unwell, you should tell your vet everything they have digested including food, treats, chew toys, bones and things your dog may have found.

Don’t hide anything, especially if you think they have had anything toxic. Letting your vet know will allow them help. 

It’s not the end of the world if your pet ate something they found, however it is still best to inform your vet as it may have been something dangerous. Therefore they will be able to solve the issue sooner rather than later.

cat licking lips



2. Specifics – Not ‘Handfuls’


When it comes to your dog’s eating habits, specifics are key. Telling your vet, you give your dog or cat ‘about a handful or so’ won’t help in the long run.

Exact measurements will ensure you dog isn’t under-fed and suffering from nutritional deficiencies or over-fed and risking the chance of becoming obese and suffering from health problems that follow.

Spending a little extra time measuring your pet’s food will allow your vet to asses if you are feeding them the right amount. Just because your pet is hungry, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be eating more. 

pug food



3. Behavioural Changes



"Any change in your pet's behaviour from what it normally does is a reason to see your veterinarian."


Behaviour is what animals do to interact with, respond to, and control their environment. It is generally an animal's “first line of defence” in response to environmental change.

Therefore careful observations of behaviour can provide your vet with a great deal of information about your pets' requirements, preferences, dislikes, and internal states.

All behaviour changes should be mentioned when visiting your vet, this includes water drinking habits, appetite, playfulness, energy level etc..

sad dog


4. Unusual Symptoms


Much like behaviours, our pets will let us know if they aren’t okay through change in symptoms.

Honest communication is essential when informing your vet about how long symptoms have been occurring for –you won’t be believed when your dog has a huge infection and you say it appeared overnight.

One of the best ways to spot serious medical problems is by paying attention to what is going on inside your body.

Unfortunately, our dogs are not able to tell us when something is wrong. This is why you, as the owner, should always keep track of your pet’s symptoms and honestly let your vet know about them.

Specific symptoms you should be telling your vet are; vomiting, diarrhoea, persistent coughing, hair loss or itchy skin, fever, unexplained weight loss, distended abdomen, difficulty breathing and red eyes. 

sad-cat


Tired of being pulled along by your dog during your leisurely afternoon walk. Find out how.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to Stop Your Dog from Pulling on the Leash

I think we all know someone with expert-leash walking skills.

You know the ones that aren’t constantly being pulled or getting wrapped around trees. The ones that are able to easily enjoy an afternoon stroll with their pooch by their side.

So you may be asking yourself the question: where did I go wrong?

If you’re over being yanked along, it’s time you take back control of the leash and implement some training methods that’ll get your pooch walking like a pro in no time.



dog on leash


Before You Get Moving


  • Remove any distractions – train somewhere where it will be easy for your dog to focus whether that is in the backyard or even indoors.

  • Short, sweet training sessions are optimal. Keep the training anywhere between 5-10 minutes a day so both you and your pup don’t get frustrated.

  • Reward your pup with treats each time they co-operate with you. 

dog on leash walking



Steps to Calm Leash Walking



  1. For your dog to learn they need to stay on one side of you when walking, ask your dog to sit next to your left leg (or right), with their shoulder in line with you.

  2. Hold a treat in your hand to get your dogs attention.

  3. Step off with your left leg, while saying ‘heel’.

  4. As soon as he takes off ahead, turn around and start walking in the opposite direction.

  5. As soon as your dog catches up and reaches the correct position next to your left leg say ‘heel’ and get his attention with a treat.

  6. Repeat then turn-around each time your dog surges ahead and correct him by saying ‘heel’.

  7. Initially reward them each time they are in the heel position and walking by your side (this will also teach them to look to you for direction). As your pooch progresses, get them to walk for a longer period beside you before they get the treat.

  8. Enjoy your walk and continue to occasionally reward your dog for paying attention and walking with you. Once the behaviour is established, rewards can be in the form of treats, play or just simply a ‘good boy’ when they are doing the right thing.

two dogs on leashes


Are bones really safe for your dog? Find out the answers here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Are Bones Safe for Your Dog?

It’s one of the oldest clich├ęs in the book: Dogs love to chew bones.

You have probably heard through the grape vine that feeding your dog a bone is natural and can help with mouth hygiene. 

In fact, the majority of bones are severely dangerous to your dog and can cause various health problems. 

So, the question here is, should you ban the bone altogether, or can you give your dog a safer option?

dog and bone

The Dangers of Bones for Dogs


The following health problems can be associated with dogs eating bones. These complications can occur in dogs after eating both cooked and raw bones.


Fractured Teeth

Bones are extremely tough and can cause your dog’s teeth to crack and in some cases, can lead to the need for root canals or tooth extractions. 


Oral Injuries

Bones have sharp edges that can cut the insides of your dog’s mouth, including their gums, tongue and other oral mucous membranes. Not only is this very painful for your dog, it can also turn messy. Bone fragments can also get stuck in their mouth and in particular between the molars of the lower jaw.

Airway Obstruction

The entire bone or part of it can become stuck in your dog’s throat and potentially block their airway, causing your dog to choke.

Gastrointestinal Complications


Serious damage can be caused when bones pass through the digestive tract. Pieces of the consumed bone can become lodged in the oesophagus, stomach or intestines and in most cases emergency surgery will need to be performed in order to remove the bone. 

If bone does not get stuck, it can cause irritation while passing through the GI tract and at the very least, diarrhea, vomiting or constipation can occur. 

Life-threating situations can also arise if bone fragments poke through the oesophagus lining, intestines, colon and stomach. 



sad dog

Are Any Kinds of Bones Safe for Dogs?


Your dog may love chewing on bones, however that does not mean they should be allowed to. 

The risks associated with feeding your dog bones applies to bones from all kinds of animals, including if they are raw or cooked.

However, cooked bones are of higher risk, especially those from poultry as they tend to splinter. 

The size of your dog is not a determining factor either; any kind of dog can be affected. However, it is obvious that small dogs eating large bones are at a greater risk.

Although you may have given your dog bones in the past without any problems, it does not mean you will not run into complications the next time. 

Is it really worth the risk?


dog and bone


Bone Alternatives for Dogs


Chewing is instinctively essential for dogs. Therefore, you will need to find a safer alternative that will satisfy your dog’s chewing needs.

No matter what you may choose for your dog to chew on, you should ensure you are always there to supervise.

Specially made dog toys (such as Kong), dental chews and other dog treats (such as Greenies) are great alternatives that will satisfy your dog’s need to chew.

 Be sure to ask your veterinarian for advice on the best options for your dog.


dog and chew toy


Keeping Bones Away from Your Dog


Be cautious when removing bones from left overs.

It’s best to take them directly to your outside bin (provided it’s out of your dog’s reach). 

Put bones in the foods that are toxic for your dog category and never look back.

If you think your dog has bone-related problems, ensure you contact your vet immediately. 

happy dog

Is your cat shunning it's litter box for other places in your home? Find out more.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How To Stop Your Cat Urinating Outside The Litter Box

It can be very unpleasant, frustrating and upsetting when your cat starts to shun their litter box for other places in your home. 

Cat urine present anywhere in the house can make you feel like you are living in one big litter box. 

Present in a cats’ urine are strong-smelling proteins used to mark their territory with a scent that is almost impossible to get rid of. 

In order to help eliminate the potent urine scent and prevent your cat from continuing to urinate in inappropriate places, consider these four steps.


cat hiding


1. Identify The Reason


The first step to solving your cats’ urinating problem is figuring out the reason why. If your cat is urinating in inappropriate areas of the house, he/she is trying to tell you something.

They could be unhappy with their litter box, anxious or even sick. It may take some time to find the exact reason behind your cats’ behaviour, however once you find it, you can begin to find a solution. Here are three possible reasons behind your cats’ urinating problem:


Medical:

Common health issues could be the cause behind your cats urinating problem. If these symptoms apply to your cat, he/she should be checked by your vet.

Bladder stones or blockage

  • Goes to the litter box often
  • Exhibits any sign of pain or distress (crying or mewing)
  • Abdomen is tender to touch
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Urinating small amounts often
Feline interstitial cystitis
  • Sudden urination (caused by inflammation of the bladder)


Behavioural:

Behavioural issues could be the reason behind your cats’ urination problem:

Change Of Environment: If you have recently moved house, have new people in your household or have a new pet your cat may be feeling threatened. Changes within your cats’ environment or schedule can have negative effects on its training.


Familiar Areas: If your cat has become used to urinating in a specific spot, he/she will keep returning to that same spot as to them it smells like the right place.


Territory: Make sure to identify if your cat is urinating or spraying. Your cat will want to mark its territory, especially if they are feeling threatened. Neutered and spayed cats are less likely to spray, however they may have a reason for feeling the need to claim or reclaim territory.



The Litter Box:

Before ignoring the obvious and rushing your cat to the vet fearing the worst, consider problems that can occur with your cats’ litter box. Consider these questions as another potential reason behind your cats’ urinating problem.
  • Has their litter box recently been moved?
  • Is the litter dirty?
  • Are there enough boxes to serve all cats in your household?
  • Is something preventing your cat to access their litter box?
  • Is the litter box placed in a cramped area? Could they have reason to fear becoming trapped or not being able to easily escape?
  • Is the litter box located in a spot that offers them privacy?
  • Does the box have a hood or sides that are too high?
  • Has your cat ever been interrupted or upset while using their litter box? 


outside cat



2. Clean Up The Mess


If your cat has been urinating where it shouldn’t, all traces of the smell need to be removed. If the urine is not successfully cleaned up, your cat will continue to return to its preferred area as he/she can pick up the scent. 

Incorrect cleaning can sometimes wet the crystallized proteins and reactivate the odour. Even if you can’t smell it, your cat can! Here are some tips for cleaning the mess:
  • Clean the urine as soon as possible
  • Use paper towels
  • Use a disinfectant and odour neutraliser
  • Avoid ammonia-based disinfectants (cats will think its urine)
  • Cleaning sprays with orange oil ingredients
  • Citrus! Cats hate the smell of it.
  • Use a black light to see if cat urine is still present
  • Place your cats’ food or water bowl in the area (they won’t pee where they eat!)
  • Place aluminium foil on the area (they hate the sound and texture of it)
Here are three great cat cleaner/repellent recipes you can make at home.


cat on the floor


3. Consider Adding, Moving, Changing The Litter Box


The Location 

Ensure your cats’ litter box is located in an area they can easily access which still provides them with some sort of privacy. Try moving the box to their preferred location and slowly moving it back to where it should be or move it to several different areas until it becomes comfortable with one.


Add an Addition

The general rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Ensure if you have more than one level in your house to place a box on each floor.



Alternative 

Although an enclosed litter box may suit your decorative standards better, it does not mean it fits with your cats’ toilet standards. Ensure their litter box is not enclosed or has sides that are too high.



Clean Regularly

Dirty litter is one of the first things that will send your cat in the other direction. Cats have a very clean nature and therefore need a clean are to do their business. Ensure you are consistent with cleaning out the box and changing the litter.



Type of Litter

Litter that is heavily perfumed may seem like the best choice, however cats tend to disagree. Studies have revealed that majority of cats prefer a loose, clumping and unscented clay litter containing activated charcoal.


cat in box


4. Love Your Cat No Matter What



  • If you have a new guest in the house (cat, dog, baby, roommate) or other changes, give him/her time to adjust and get used to the change.
  • Moving to a new home is not only a big change in your life, but also your cats’. Your cat will have to adjust to a new territory and maybe a new scent from a former tenant’s pet. You will need to ensure you remove all odours so your cat doesn’t feel the need to mark its territory.
  • Make sure you are giving your cat extra, affection, attention and praise.
  • Reassure him/her that they are loved and an important part of the family.


cat and owner cuddling


What Not To Do:


Training your cat to continue to use their litter box is all about patience, not punishment. Here is what not to do:


  • Rub your cat’s nose in its urine or faeces
  • Yell at your cat or physically drag them to their litter box
  • Place their litter box where they eat and/or drink

Hopefully these tips help with keeping your kitty in its litter box and out of your living room!

Wondering why your dog is channelling their inner cow and eating grass? Here's why.