DogTime Blogs

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is the development of a malformation of the hip in any dog breed. More commonly seen in large breed dogs, it has been reported by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals as high as 80% in some breeds. The condition has a strong genetic component but can also be caused by other factors such as growth rate and diet.

Commonly affected breeds:
• Bull Dogs
• Newfoundlands
• Saint Bernards
• Labrador Retrievers
• Golden Retrievers

• Radiographs analysed by the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP)

• Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain
• Neutraceuticals to help with join health
• Modified exercise program
• Physical Therapy
• Diet modification for weight loss
• Surgery

• Do appropriate screening of dogs before adopting them
• Get your puppy screened early at the time of vaccination

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Avoiding Swine Flu

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by the highly contagious H1N1 virus. Like other viruses, it can mutate to infect other animal species and in this case, humans. It is spread through the air from the coughing and sneezing of infected animals and people.

• Wash your hands with soap and warm water
• Frequently use alcohol-based hand cleaners
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
• Avoid close contact with ill people
• If you do get sick, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and limit contact with others
• Contact your physician immediately if you think you have contracted the virus

Visit CDC for further information and updates.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Missing Teeth

On the surface, missing teeth may not appear to be a problem in cats and dogs. But, under the surface, bone cysts or abscesses can form causing long term problems.

Dogs and cats should have all their teeth showing by 6 months of age.

How many teeth are they supposed to have?
Dogs: 42 permanent teeth
Cats: 30 permanent teeth

You local vet can schedule dental x-rays to determine whether a tooth is truly missing or whether it lies under the surface of the gum.

It's always best to get these investigated early rather than wait for a more serious problem to occur.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anti-inflammatory (NSAID) Side Effects

Pets are often prescribed anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to help relieve the pain following surgery, dentals or long term for pets with chornic conditions such as arthritis. These products can provide very effective pain relief, but are not advised for pets with kidney, liver, or stomach issues. Only your veterinarian is able to choose the right anti-inflammatory for your pet.

If your pet has been prescribed anti-inflammatories, it is important to monitor your pet closely for any side effects such as:
- vomiting
- diarrhoea (with or without blood)
- inappetence
- tense abdomen
- black stools
- drinking a lot
- urinating a lot
- pale gums

Notify your veterinary hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs.

And NEVER use human NSAIDs on your pets!

Prevention of serious NSAID problems
- Monitor for signs
- Visit the veterinarian regularly i.e. every 3-6 months
- Have blood tests done at vet visits to pick up early signs of kidney or liver problems
- Keep to the prescribed dose (Increasing the NSAID dose does not necessarily provide more pain relief)
- Notify the veterinarian of all other medications your pet is on. Other drugs such as Corticosteroids (used for allergy relief) and Aspirin can cause serious drug reactions.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is your Pet in Pain?

Pets show pain in many different ways. Here are some signs that may indicate to you that your pet is in pain

Physical Signs:
• Increased heart rate
• Increased respiratory rate
• Enlarged pupils
• Slowed reflexes

Behavioral Signs:
• Reduced appetite
• Difficulty rising or sitting
• Restlessness
• Quiet
• Personality change
• Licking or biting at itself
• Irritability

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Poor Training Linked to Dog Aggression

The conclusions of a recent study at the University of Cordoba suggest the following factors as causes of dog aggression:
• First-time ownership
• Lack of obedience training
• Spoiling the dog
• Receiving the dog as a gift
• Buying a dog on impulse
• Buying a guard dog
• Spaying female dogs
• Leaving constant supply of food
• Spending little time with the dog

Other factors such as breed, male sex, small sized dogs and the ages between 5-7 years have also been associated with a greater risk of aggression. However, this study concluded that breed had less influence.

This study should remind us of the importance of training and dog obedience and that dogs that are trained well are less likely to retain any inherent aggression.

Journal reference: Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín; Muñoz-Serrano, Andrés. Factors Linked to Dominance Aggression in Dogs. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, 8(2): 336-342, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

ASK THE VET: Sleeping and Dreaming Habits of Dogs

Dogs need their sleep and without it they can become stressed. Stress can result in behavioral changes, weight loss and a lowered immune system. Although very few studies exist on the sleep and dreaming habits of dogs, it appears that the amount of sleep required depends on the dog breed, age and energy levels. Most dogs need about 14 hours of sleep a day.

Large breed dogs such as Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards and Great Danes sleep a lot more than the small breeds. They can sleep up to 18 hours a day. Low energy dogs that sit at home such as Bull dogs and Bassett Hounds sleep a lot more than high energy dogs such as working dogs (e.g. search and rescue dogs).

Placing your pet’s bed in an area that is away from noise and activity will help them get their required amout of sleep for rejuvenation. Changes in sleep patterns can definitely be an early sign of illness. If this is the case, seek veterinary attention for further investigation.

Like humans, dogs’ do dream. The twitching, whimpering and paw movements are signs of a dog in deep sleep. Avoid suddenly waking your pet up from deep sleep.

The question this week came from Lauren.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Does your Pet get up to When you are at Work?

For most of us, working means being away from our pets for more than 8 hours a day. Dogs can become bored very easily and this can result in destructive behavior such as chewing, barking, and digging holes.

Tips in preventing boredom in dogs:
• Leave pet-approved dog toys such as the KONG
• Freeze food over night in KONG toys
• Hire a professional dog walker
• Doggy day care
• Take your dog to spend a day with a friend’s dog (supervised)
• Create a dog play area in the backyard
• Hide small amounts of treats in the yard
• Exercise them first thing in the morning or straight after work

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Top 20 Purebed Dogs & Screening Tests

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is a non-profit organization that manages the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world. The AKC has sorted through over 150 different dog breeds from the most popular to the least popular.

1. Retrievers (Labrador)
2. Yorkshire Terriers
3. German Shepherd Dogs
4. Retrievers (Golden)
5. Beagles
6. Boxers
7. Dachshunds
8. Bulldogs
9. Poodles
10. Shih Tzu
11. Miniature Schnauzers
12. Chihuahuas
13. Pomeranians
14. Rottweilers
15. Pugs
16. Pointers (German Shorthaired)
17. Boston Terriers
18. Doberman Pinschers
19. Shetland Sheepdogs
20. Maltese

See the full list here

If you are serious about purchasing a purebred puppy, it is important to do your research. Unfortunately, there are many pets that are falsely advertised as purebreds or don’t have appropriate papers or medical reports. Check with your veterinarian, reputable breeder, breed associations, American Kennel Club, and inherited disease registry for potential inherited breed problems and determine which screening tests should be considered.

Examples of screening tests:
• Stethoscope or Echocardiogram to check the heart
• Radiology to check the joints such as the hips (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP))
• Eye exam to check for inherited eye problems

Ensure that the breeder has all these certified examination documents relating to the puppy as well as its relatives, to share with you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Much Do Our Pets Cost Us?

American pet owners own 65 million dogs and 77 million cats.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals report an annual cost of $1-2000 in the first year of owning a dog, slightly less for a cat and about $2-300 for a rodent, bird or fish. This does not include day care or boarding if the owner has to travel; in these cases you are looking at $15-25 a day extra.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, owners average about $350 in vet expenses a year which is a total of $8.6 billion a year. This does not seem much when compared to an overall $36 billion spent on pets a year.

In tough times, preventive care is especially important. The upfront costs of monthly preventive medications will help prevent expensive disease treatment in the future. Annual visits to the vet will help pick up early problems rather than expensive treatment for severe problems down the track.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Your Dog At Risk of Bone Cancer?

Bone cancer, and specifically Osteosarcoma is one of the most common bone cancers in dogs. It has been estimated that 10,000 dogs are diagnosed each year with Osteosarcoma which is approximately 5% of all dog cancers.

It is a cancer predominantly of older dogs but can also occur in dogs 1-2 years of age. Males appear to be affected more commonly than females. It has been estimated that dogs weighing >80lbs are at least 60 times more likely to develop this cancer than dogs weighing <75lbs.

Commonly affected large breed dogs:
• Rottweilers
• Sain Bernards
• Newfoundlands
• Bernese Mountain Dogs
• Great Danes
• Golden Retrievers
• Dobermans
• Weimeraners
• Boxers

Affected dogs usually present with lameness or a solid bone swelling.

Treatment Options:
• Amputation of the affected limb
• Removal of the affected bone
• Chemotherapy
• Radiation therapy
• Pain management

Unfortunately, this type of bone cancer is highly aggressive and often spreads to other organs such as the liver, kidney, skin or other bones.

As with most serious problems in pets, it is best to pick up changes early so there is a better chance of survival.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Antifreeze or Car Coolant Poisonings

Approximately 10,000 pets are killed each year in the US from the ingestion of the sweet-tasting antifreeze. One teaspoon of this coolant is enough to kill a cat. Half a cup is enough to kill a 20kg or 44lb dog.

Clinical Signs (show 30 mins to 12 hours after ingestion)
• Depression
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Head tremors
• Instability

Chances of survival are best when treated within 3-5 hours of ingestion. Once kidney failure occurs, the prognosis is very poor.

Keep your pets away from the garage and away from the car. Cats especially like to rest on or under the warm car on cold days. Keep any antifreeze along with other toxic substances such as pesticides, locked away securely.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Home Cooked Diets

Recent problems with commercial diets in the US, have stimulated an increase in home cooked diets and raw diets for our pets. There are definitely advantages to home cooked meals, but they do not outweigh the disadvantages unless the diet has been put together specifically for your pet by a qualified veterinary nutritionist.

• Increased palatability
• High digestibility
• Ability to control ingredients

• Expensive
• Poorly balanced i.e. lack the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals
• Bacterial contamination of raw ingredients that can affect both pets and humans
• Bones can cause gastrointestinal obstructions, break teeth and tear the intestines

Unless you have specific recipes that have been formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, commercial diets should be considered. All reputable veterinary nutritional companies must follow strict dietary requirements to ensure the diets are balanced and nutritionally beneficial.

Seek veterinary assistance in determining which diet is best for your pet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Setting Up a First Aid Kit for Your Pet

A first aid kit comes in handy when owning a pet as well as for traveling with your pet.

Here is a list of must-have items:
• Adhesive tape
• Sterile cleaning devices i.e. nonstick pads, gauze squares and cotton balls
• Board or towel for makeshift stretcher
• Cardboard or wood for splints
• Elizabethan collar to prevent licking of injury
• Examination gloves
• Sterile Saline to clean wounds
• Ice pack
• Large blanket
• Magnifying glass
• Muzzle
• Penlight flashlight
• Diluted Povidone iodine
• Rectal thermometer and lubricant
• Roller gauze (self-adhering), cotton roll and elastic bandage
• Tweezers
• Scissors

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gum Disease linked to Heart Disease

Gum disease occurs in 75% of middle-aged dogs. Purdue University recently published a study that links gum disease to heart disease. It has been known for many years that the bacteria that cause gum disease can travel through the blood causing disease in the body such as the heart and kidneys in both cats and dogs.

Good oral hygiene and regular visits to the veterinarian can help prevent this from occurring.

Signs of gum disease:
• Bad Breath
• Drooling
• Difficulty chewing or eating
• Inflamed or Bleeding Gums
• Yellow tartar on teeth
• Receding gums
• Loose or missing teeth

Prevention of gum disease:
Plaque builds up on teeth every 6-8 hours following brushing. So, it is important to be able to brush your pet’s teeth every day. Your veterinarian will be able to help you select the right toothbrush and toothpaste for your pet. Human toothpaste is not recommended as it can cause stomach problems if swallowed.

Dental chews, toys and diets exist for those pets that do not allow for their teeth to be brushed. Talk to your veterinarian about the right prevention for your pet.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Swimming as Therapy For Dogs

Aquatic therapy has been proven to help strength, endurance, fitness, range of motion, agility and general health of pets. The buoyancy of the water decreases the body weight of the pet, reducing the stress on the joints and reducing any pain through movement.

Pets that suffer from long term joint problems such as arthritis, often do well with swimming as a form of exercise rather than walking, as it is less stressful on the joints.

Aquatic therapy in swimming pools, whirlpools or underwater treadmills, has been used for rehabilitation for many years. Pets have benefited from aquatic therapy following:
• Fracture repair
• Cruciate ligament repair
• Tendon injury
• Nerve damage
• Muscle weakness

Speak to your veterinarian or specialist if you think your pet may benefit from this. Known contraindications for aquatic therapy include those dogs that fear water, certain fractures, and open wounds.

Article Topic Suggested by Cathy at The Rex Center

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What to do If Your Pet has a Fit

It can be very distressing to witness your pet having a fit. In many cases, the fit will only last for a few minutes at the most.

What to do if you see your pet having a fit:

  • move furniture and any objects out of the way to prevent injury to the animal

  • avoid touching or comforting your pet during the fit as you may be accidently bitten or injured

  • contact your veterinarian if fitting continues beyond a few minutes

  • if you need to transport a fitting pet to a veterinary clinic for emergency treatment, find a big thick blanket to wrap the animal in and be very wary of claws and teeth in the process

Monday, April 13, 2009

ASK THE VET: When Dogs Use their Crate as a Toilet

Toilet training can be frustrating at the best of times. It is important to ensure your pet is healthy and that you have a set schedule to help them learn. Not only is it convenient to have a specific toilet marked out, it is also more hygienic for the family.

Reasons for why your pet may toilet in the crate:
• Puppies brought up in pet shops are often conditioned to toilet in the same area they eat and sleep. It is possible to train them out of this habit.
• Young puppies 8-12 weeks that cannot control their bladder or bowel movements
• Disease – diarrhea (viral or bacterial) or worms
• Lack of a strict toilet or meal schedule
• Meals right before or during confinement

• Create a strict schedule for meal and toilet time and stick to it (every 3-4 hours they should be let out to toilet)
• Crate them with water only (avoid meals in there)
• Toilet your dog immediately after a meal - take them to the designated toilet area and wait until they go
• Always reward your pet when it uses the right area (hugs or very small treat)
• Collect any of your pet’s toilets and place into the specified toilet area. This helps mark the area.
• Never punish your pet when it goes to the wrong area as this may scare your pet from going to the toilet or going when you are around
• Use barriers or citronella spray in the wrong areas where they may have toileted previously
• If you are unable to let your dog out to toilet every 3-4 hours, set up a puppy pad as the toilet area within the crate
• Keep your pet occupied with toys or the radio/TV on to keep your pet stimulated whilst in the crate

Our question this week came from Erin

Animal victims of the "Black Saturday" Australian bushfires

Many animals were victims of the recent Australian bushfires on "Black Saturday". Surrounding veterinary clinics were innundated with domestic pets and wildlife suffering from smoke inhalation and burns of varying degrees.
Fortunately, two months later, most of these animals are nearing the end of their burns treatment.

Here are some simple first aid tips for animals with burns:

  • run cold water over burn or apply ice packs to the area for at least 15 minutes

  • cover your pet in a blanket if starting to shiver

  • apply a non stick dressing to the burn

  • transport your pet to the vet for futher treatment

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pets linked to 88% of Injuries

Each year, approximately 8 million people are admitted into the emergency room due to fall-injuries in the US. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) recently undertook a study to determine the relationship between dogs and cats and fall-injuries.

Nearly 90,000 falls were associated with cats or dogs. 88% of injuries were related to dogs. Female owners were 2.1 times more likely to be injured than males.

1. Be aware of your pet and their toys at all times
2. Ensure your dog undergoes obedience training
a. Can walk calmly on a leash
b. Do not jump up on people
c. Can “sit”, “stay” and “relax”
3. Discourage pets from lying at the foot of the bed or chairs
4. Discourage over-excitement

Check out the full report at CDC

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Top 10 Pet Poisons

The ASPCA recently published the Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2008. It's an important reminder for all of us to secure any possible poisons so that our pets cannot gain access to them.

1. Human Medications
2. Insecticides
3. People Food
4. Rat Poison
5. Pet Medication
6. Plants
7. Chemicals
8. Household Cleaners
9. Heavy Metals
10. Fertilizer

If you are concerned that your pet has had access to any of these poisons, contact the Poison Control Center at +1 888 426 4435 (USA)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Smoking Linked to Cancer in Cats

Attention all smokers! Exhaled smoke or smoke from a burning cigarette contains 4000 harmful chemicals including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and arsenic that is causing disease in our cats.

Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine undertook a 7 year investigation into the relationship between cancer (lymphoma) in cats and smoking households. They found that cats living in smoking households had twice the risk of developing lymphoma and cats in homes with >2 smokers were at 4 times the risk, than cats in smoke-free homes.

As well as cancer (lymphoma), there is evidence to suggest that cats are also at a higher risk of squamous cell carcinomas in the mouth, lung disease (asthma, pneumonia) and eye irritation in smoking households.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

ASK THE VET: How to Manage Separation Anxiety in Cats

Although the causes of separation anxiety are not fully understood, it is apparent that genetics and environmental factors play a role. It has been shown that orphaned or early-weaned kittens are definitely predisposed due to the lack of socialisation and parental discipline as a young kitten. Having multi-cat households where the cats don’t get a long can also exacerbate the problem.

• Following the owner from room to room
• Inappropriate urinating or defecating
• Destructive behavior i.e. chewing or scratching
• Excessive grooming that leads to hair loss
• Vocalization

If your cat is showing these signs, book them in for a full veterinary examination to rule out medical conditions first. If your cat is considered healthy, your veterinarian will consider behavior modifying techniques +/- medical management.

Behavior modifying
• Try not to make a grand exit when leaving your pets
• When you return home, ignore your pets for the first 15-20 minutes or until the pet calms down
• No attention given on demand to the pet - you must initiate the attention
• Reduce shadowing behaviour in the home by closing doors
• Leave toys (with or without catnip) for your cats to play with – consider ones that you can put food inside to keep your cat occupied
• Try a comfortable perch for the cat to enjoy
• Try music in the background with bird noises whilst you are away
• Climbing frames

You may also want to consider trying FELIWAY Spray or Diffuser, a synthetic feline facial pheromone, that has been shown to help reduce stress behavior in some situations.

Medical Management
In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend short-term medical management. Most behavior-modifying drugs such as CLOMICALM (clomipramine), PROZAC (fluoxetine), BUSPAR (buspirone), are not labelled for cats, however, have been prescribed by veterinarians extra-label with varying results.

Our question this week came from Nikki (Kinipelas Mom)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Warning for Pets

Whilst enjoying the Easter break, it is important that we prevent our pets from eating chocolate. Unfortunately, most deaths occur when our dogs steal the chocolate from our homes.

A typical easter egg of 150g (5 oz) can be life threatening for a 12 kg (25 lb) dog. Unsweetened bakers chocolate is 10x more toxic.

Chocolate contains Theobromine which over stimulates the heart and nervous system causing signs such as:
• vomiting
• diarrhea
• restlessness
• increased drinking and urinating
• tremors
• seizures
• Death as quick as 18 hours later if not treated

If you are concerned that your pet may have eaten chocolate, seek veterinary care immediately.

Dog survives 4 months on Remote Island off Australia

Sophie, a Blue Heeler dog was thrown over board during a sailing expedition off the Queensland coast in November 2008. Four months later, her grieving owners discover that she had managed to swim across shark-infested waters to an island and had been surviving on wildlife for the past 4 months. Source BBC News.

Tips for sailing with pets:
• Wear a Life Jacket at all times
• Attach the Dog by a tether to the boat in rough seas
• Dog Toys to keep them calm
• Dog Food and bowl
• Water and Water bowl
• Indoor Dog Toilet or dog pads

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pet Food Recalls - PEANUT BUTTER

The salmonella-contaminated peanut butter scare continues in the US. But, what about pet food?

Check your kitchen for the following contaminated products.

FDA Pet Food Product Recalls
Aggieville USA, Mountain Grove, MO
Alaska Canine Cookies
American Health Kennels, Inc.
American Nutrition, Inc.
Carolina Prime
Carolina Prime Pet
Farm Style
Grreat Choice
Happy Tails
Healthy Hide
Healthy-hide Deli-wrap
Hill Country Fare
Mill Creek
Morning Melodies
Morning Song
Next Gen Pet Products
Northwest Royal
Royal Wing
Shoppers Valu
Springfield Prize
Vita Bone Flavors
Vita Snacks
Western Family Biscuits
Western Trade Group, Inc.

Check back here for daily updates.

Lily poisoning in cats

Lilies are popular flowers but unfortunately many types of lilies are poisonous to cats when eaten. Ingestion of any part of the plant (flower, leaf, stamen, stem, root) can cause death in cats from kidney failure.

Some of the culprits include:
· easter lily
· day lily
· tiger lily
· japanese show lily
· glory lily
· stargazer lily
· rubrum lily

Prevention is easier than cure so it is always best to avoid bringing home lilies into a household with cats. Dogs and other pets are much less likely to be affected.

If you think your cat has eaten part of a lily plant, even if it’s a tiny amount, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.

Top 10 Cat Friendly Cities

Cats are the number one companions with 81.7 million (source: AVMA) in the USA. The CATalyst Council recently undertook a study to determine the top 10 cat friendly cities for 2009. The criteria included cat ownership per capita, level of veterinary services, microchipping and cat-friendly business.

Top 10 Cat Friendly Cities
• Tampa
• Phoenix
• San Francisco
• Portland, OR
• Denver
• Boston
• Seattle
• San Diego
• Atlanta
• Minneapolis

Planning on Traveling with your Pet over Easter?

Pets are part of the family, so why not take them on holiday with you. There are many great pet friendly places around. Check out the links below for some ideas.

When traveling with your pet it is important to pack appropriately. Here is a list of suggested items for a Pet Travel Kit:
• Pet Brush or comb
• Toys
• Pillow or blanket
• First aid kit
• Food
• Medical History
• Leash
• Medication
• Owner contact information
• Rabies vaccination certificate
• Veterinarian contact details
• Water and bowl

Check out some pet friendly spots in the USA
Check out some pet friendly spots in Australia
Check out some pet friendly spots in the UK

Monday, April 6, 2009

Unwanted Smells

Unwanted smells are a sign of a problem in pets. There are many reasons for this, but the most likely are due to infections. As soon as you sense a change in smell, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Bad Breath
Plaque and tartar store bacteria that can cause gum infections (gingivitis) and tooth decay.
Pets often need annual dentals to prevent serious dental problems. Regular cleaning of the teeth will help prevent gingivitis.

Ear Odour
Some pets, especially those with floppy ears i.e. Cocker Spaniels, are prone to getting ear infections. It is natural for some bacteria to live on the surface of the skin. Occasionally, the bacteria or yeast grow out of control to form inflammation. Regular cleaning of the ear and preventing water from getting into the ear will help prevent infections.

Hot Spot
Dogs with thick coats can get nasty skin infections that spread rapidly. It’s not until the hair is removed that we find the extent to which these skin infections have spread. Some dogs are more prone to these infections than others. It can take a flea bite or a small cut in the skin to become infected. Regular flea control and monitoring of the coat can help reduce the occurrence.

Anal Gland Infection
Cats and dogs both have anal glands that are used to mark their territory. Some pets have problems expressing their glands and can end up with an infection or a blockage. High fibre diets can help encourage natural expression.

Dangerous Pet Turtles

Children are often drawn to the very cute pet turtle. Their slow and harmless nature seem perfect for a child.

Unfortunately, they naturally carry harmful bacteria, Salmonella. These bacteria can cause serious gastrointestinal tract disease that results in severe diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and dehydration.

According to the FDA, over 70,000 cases of Salmonella are reported each year in the USA.

If you have a turtle, make sure you:
1. Wash your hands with soap after playing and before eating
2. Regularly clean the turtle's environment

Further information at the CDC

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Missing Dog Returns After 9 Years

A German Shepherd named Astro went missing from his family. Nine years later, the family receives a call from Animal Control having identified Astro by his microchip. (source: The Associated Press).

This heart-warming story should remind us of the importance of microchips, dog ID tags, and secure collars.

If you tend to travel a lot, consider a Missing Dog Emergency Kit for the dog carer:
• Details for the local emergency contact
• Details of where you can be contacte in an emergency
• 3x color photos – front, side, standing
• Scent article in a ziplock bag
• Brief medical history including microchip number and vaccination records

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Does Your Pet Eat Plants?

Common Toxic Plants:
• Algae
• Bird of Paradise
• Chrysanthemums
• Daffodil
• Daisy
• Eucalyptus
• Ferns
• Iris
• Ivy
• Lilly
• Mushrooms
• Nettles
• Peach
• Rhododendrons

Even though the chance of a pet consuming large enough quantities of plant material is fairly small, it is important for everyone to be aware of some offending plants. Care must especially be taken when in your yard or out walking in the park.

A comprehensive list of toxic plants can be found at Cornell University

Is the Barking Driving You Crazy?

All dogs have vocals whether it is barking, howling or yapping and some breeds vocalize more often than others. It’s important to choose the dog that’s right for your situation. As with any bad behaviour, excessive barking can be managed, if controlled early.

Dog Breeds That Bark A Lot
Yorkshire Terrier
Cairn Terrier
West Highland White Terrier

If your pet is sitting quietly, you can always reward them with hugs and treats. If you pet is barking you can teach them the “quiet” command. If the barking continues even with persistent training, you can always put them into isolation until they quiet down.

Unfortunately, excessive barking often takes place when you are not at home. And, it’s not until the neighbors complain that you are made aware of it. In this situation, separation anxiety is the most likely cause.

Check out the tips on separation anxiety if this is the case. And consult your local veterinarian for the right treatment plan for your dog.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What is Giardia (gee-are-dee-yah)?

Giardia is one of the most common parasites that cause gastrointestinal problems in animals and humans. Unfortunately, it is thought to be on the rise, being seen more commonly in pets and children.

Infection occurs through the ingestion of contaminated feces. If your pet is showing any of the following signs, seek veterinary attention immediately:
• Soft diarrhoea with or without mucus
• Dehydration
• Loss of Appetite
• Lethargy

To help prevent illness in your pets follow these steps:
• Prevent your pet from drinking stagnant water i.e. puddles, ponds
• Provide clean water every day
• Clean drinking bowls regularly
• Always clean up feces by throwing them in a bin
• Provide a fresh sample of feces every year to your veterinarian for analysis
• Practice good hygiene
• If your pet has diarrhea, do not take them to a public area and seek veterinary attention immediately

How to Stop Your Pet From Jumping Up

Dogs can often get carried away when greeting people. And it can get very embarrassing when your dog is trying to jump all over your guests. Unfortunately, we are often to blame for this bad behaviour.

Greeting pets enthusiastically encourages them to get excited and jump up on us. With us greeting them with hugs and excitement, we are rewarding that bad behaviour.

• Avoid greeting your pet enthusiastically
• Try to gain focus of your pet and use the “Sit” command to calm them
• Reward your pet with hugs when they sit calmly
• If your pet continues to jump up on you, ignore them by turning your back and continuing with your tasks
• In severe cases, put your pet into isolation until they calm down

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Which pet at what age for children?

If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, you will need to do your homework!

As much as the kids pester you and promise to take on the responsiblity of a fluffy, scaley or feathery new addition, it is more than likely that mum and dad will be actually taking on the majority of responsibility, regardless of how old your kids are, so be prepared to get involved.

Choosing an age appropriate pet can be a challenge. You will have to consider how much experience your child already has with animals. Special consideration also needs to be given to infants and toddlers when introducing a new pet, especially cats and dogs. They don't have the emotional ability or empathy at these stages of development to know when they are playing too roughly, and often don't respect sensitive faces and tails. Constant supervision is required, even for the nicest of pets, because no pet likes to be startled and may react in an unexpected manner.

My Border Terrier joined our family before the kids came along and I'm happy to chat with anyone in a similar situation about how I slowly introduced him to the kids. It's been very successful and he's a terrific family pet. However, as much as he puts up with the odd 'horsey' ride and 'overly enthusiastic' hugs, I constantly supervise the kids when he is inside. As much as we love him, he is a dog, not a person, and I don't give him 100% of my trust. Constant supervision means always being in the same room as your kids and pet when they are together, having the ability to intervene if necessary.

I would highly recommend taking the time to drop into your local vet clinic to discuss the risk factors of introducing a pet at this stage. Vets and nurses are always more than happy to talk to you about your specific circumstances and give you the best advice. The other benefit of contacting your local clinic is that you will want to start building a long lasting relationship with them.

Of course, don't limit your imagination to the traditional cat and dog. Kids make your life very busy, so it's also worth including on your potential pet list some low maintenance but great family pets.

Just to get you thinking:
- rabbits and guinea pigs
- mice
- rats
- lizards
- fish (brilliant for infants and toddlers when out of reach, but they will fascinated)
- birds
- ferrets

Try and visit a local 'petting' farm or visit friends with pets you are considering. Getting some hands on experience before making the long term commitment is a must.

I will be posting more information about what to consider when choosing types of pets at different childhood age groups through to the teenage years. Stay tuned and ask away. The more information you seek and preparation you do, the better chance of a successful addition to your family.

The Perfect Companion for Inner-city Living

The New York Magazine recently published an interesting article about the Top 10 dogs’ ideal for city living. Apart from the number one listing, the mixed breeds, I think they got it right. A mixed breed that has any of the high energy dog breeds such as a Bull mastiff, Irish setter, Dalmation or Border collie would probably not be ideal for city living.

That being said, any well trained, well adjusted dog would probably do well in any environment.

10: PUGS

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that mainly affects dogs, and occasionally cats, wildlife and rodents. It is caused by a number of pathogens but more commonly the Bordetella bacteria and Parainfluenza virus. Infection occurs through the transmission of infected respiratory secretions i.e. airborne, or on infected toys and water bowls. It is predominantly a problem in poorly ventilated, overcrowded areas such as kennels, boarding facilities, and shelters.

Clinical signs of kennel cough
• Honking cough
• Lethargy
• Runny eyes
• Nasal discharge

If your pet is suffering from these symptoms, contact your local veterinarian. They will also give you instructions on how to bring your pet into the hospital without infecting other patients.

If your pet is rested and healthy, it may go away on its own. You should ensure that they are confined until they are no longer contagious. Transmission can occur for up to 2 weeks following the infection. If your pet gets worse within a couple of days, your veterinarian may prescribe a cough suppressant and antibiotics.

• Vaccination is not 100%, however it does greatly reduce clinical symptoms.
• For social pets, kennel cough vaccine should be given every year.
• For pets boarded regularly, your vet may even recommend a vaccination every 6 months.

There are two types of kennel cough vaccines - intranasal and injectable. Intranasal kennel cough vaccines are quicker acting and therefore better for last minute situations where your dog needs to be boarded. Some dogs do show mild symptoms following the intranasal vaccine.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Two-Nosed Bunny

A two-nosed bunny has been discovered in Connneticut, USA. With no other apparent defects, this bunny is enjoying its new home and friends.

It should, however, remind us to take care when breeding animals as according to Beardsley Zoo director, Gregg Dancho, this deformity can be a result of inbreeding or parental exposure to pesticides or poisons.

Check this out at
Connecticut Post

Bee Stings

Spring and Summer are the most common times for bee stings. The flowers out which mean the bees are out. Bee and wasp stings can be very dangerous to out pets.

Signs of a sting:
• Swelling around face and muzzle
• Swollen foot or sore paw
• Breathing problems

If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, seek veterinary attention immediately.

• Keep grass short
• Remove any unwanted weeds with flowers
• Remove bright-coloured objects or old bones in the yard as insects tend to hang around them
• If you see a bee or wasp, call your pet away