Preventing ticks on your pets
Jul 08
Preventing ticks on your pets

Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases. Vaccines are not available for most of the tickborne diseases that dogs can get, and they don’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it’s important to use a tick preventive product on your dog.

Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tickborne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.

Talk to your veterinarian about:

  • The best tick prevention products for your dog
  • Tickborne diseases in your area

To further reduce the chances that a tick bite will make your dog sick:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your pet remove it right away.
  • Reduce tick habitat in your backyard, by keeping yard free of trash. Clear  tall grass and brush from around home and edge of lawn. Mow grass frequently. Keep stray animals out of your yard.
  • How to remove a tick
    1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
    2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
    3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
    4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
  Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any tick prevention products to your cats without first asking your veterinarian! 
Article by CDC

Ways to Help an Outdoor Cat Stay Cool
Jun 30
Ways to Help an Outdoor Cat Stay Cool

Cats are highly intelligent, and they can stay cool on their own if you give them the proper resources. Here are just a few ways to help your cat escape the heat:

  • Place a comfortable bed in a shaded area, such as a porch or under some low lying shrubs.
  • Put out two bowls of fresh water. One bowl should be fresh and cool, and the other frozen. The frozen bowl will melt slowly and provide cool water later in the day.
  • Throw ice cubes into a water bowl to cool it down and draw the interest of your cat. This may encourage her to drink more liquid.
  • When temperatures reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you should refill the bowls every couple of hours.
  • Brush your cat daily  to allow the air to move freely through her fur, particularly if your cat has long hair.
  • Do not tie or confine your cat to an area with asphalt or concrete because these surfaces really hold the heat on a sunny day.
  • Wrap a towel around a bag of frozen peas and place it in her outdoor bed so she can lie on it to cool off.
  • Take a damp cloth and wipe it over your cat. If your cat will tolerate water, wet her with a spray bottle. Most cats will tolerate the damp cloth better.
  • Hold a cold compress around your cat's neck to help her cool off a bit more.

Create the Ideal Shelter

Even if your cat is an outdoor cat, consider bringing her inside during the hottest part of the day, which is typically from about 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you absolutely cannot have a cat indoors due to allergies or another reason, consider getting the cat a climate controlled cat house. The house is air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter to offer your cat a place to escape extreme cold and heat.

Signs a Cat Is Overheating

 Cats left inside vehicles on hot days are the most common heat stroke victims. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach about 104 degrees within about 15 minutes. states that elderly cats, kittens and obese cats are more likely to suffer heat stroke. Signs that your cat might be overheating include:

  • Rapid breathing or panting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Yowling

If you suspect your cat may be overheating, take her temperature.  A normal temperature for cats is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat's temperature is above that range, take steps too cool her off. The quickest way to cool kitty down is to wet her fur. Put her in a sink or bathtub with a couple inches of room temperature water, or wet her down with a garden hose. You should then phone your veterinarian for further instructions. The vet may want to see your cat, depending upon how high her temperature is and which symptoms she exhibits. A temperature of 104 degrees is serious. A temperature of 106 to 107 means your cat is overheating in a dangerous way that may cause permanent damage or even death. If you cannot take your cats temperature, and they are experiencing any of the above symptoms, then please take your cat to your veterinarian.

Article by Lori Soard 

Things You Can Do to Protect Your Dog in the Summer
Jun 24
Things You Can Do to Protect Your Dog in the Summer

1. Never, ever leave your dog in the car;
2. Make sure your dog has unlimited access to fresh water;
3. Make sure your dog has access to shade when outside;
4. Take walks during the cooler hours of the day;
5. When walking, try to stay off of hot surfaces (like asphalt) because it can burn your dog's paws;
6. If you think it's hot outside, it's even hotter for your pet – make sure your pet has a means of cooling off;
7. Keep your dog free of external parasites (fleas, ticks) and heartworms – consult your veterinarian about the best product for your pet;
8. Consider clipping or shaving dogs with long coats (talk to your veterinarian first to see if it's appropriate for your pet), and apply sunscreen to your dog's skin if she or he has a thin coat.


Do Pets Get Jealous
Jun 12
Do Pets Get Jealous

Sometimes our pets behave in a way that suggests they are jealous. When we bend down to pet another dog, our pup may shove his way in front of us, knocking our hand away from his canine companion. A cat may excessively meow when you’re not paying attention to him, or a dog may annoyingly whine when another pet in the house gets a treat and he doesn’t. But are these actually jealous behaviors? Experts disagree.

“Pets don't experience jealousy in the true sense of the word,” says Katenna Jones, associate applied animal behaviorist and owner of Jones Animal Behavior in Warwick, Rhode Island. “What you are most likely seeing your pet exhibit is assertive, pushy, or rude behavior—e.g., the pet that bulldozes other pets out of the way—or social hierarchy, where a higher-ranking pet displaces another pet.”

On the other hand, a recent study found that dogs “exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors (e.g., snapping, getting between the owner and object, pushing/touching the object/owner) when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog [an animatronic toy that moved and vocalized] as compared to nonsocial objects [a children's book and a plasticjack-o'-lantern].”

Suzanne Hetts, applied animal behaviorist and co-owner of Animal Behavior Associates in Littleton, Colorado, concludes the jury is out on whether a pet feels the same type of jealous feelings that humans do. When a pet is determined to get your attention or his favorite toy back, “We have no idea whether a pet's emotional state is equivalent to what people label as jealousy,” she explains. “In most cases, this is better described as a competitive situation where the pet is competing with another individual—human, dog, cat, or otherwise—for something it wants.”

Jealous-Like Behaviors in Pets

Regardless of what you call it, this type of behavior is often unwanted or unhealthy. Here are some jealous-like behaviors that pet parents should be on the lookout for:

  1. Aggression. “This can often be in the form of biting or nibbling of the animal or person getting attention over them,” says Dr. Scarlett Magda, founding president of New York City-based Veterinarians International.
  2. Going to the bathroom indoors. “Our pets can’t express their thoughts and feelings in words, so instead, they sometimes express their feelings in actions,” says Dr. Geoffrey Broderick, a veterinarian in Huntington, New York. “If you see them peeing or pooping in places where they shouldn’t, they may be trying to tell you something.”
  3. Paying extra attention to their owner. According to Broderick, this can come across as a pet cuddling up extra close to you and suddenly licking your hand or face. “This is a sign of affection and they are trying to get your attention,” he says.
  4. Pushy behavior. Magda notes that this often comes in the form of a pet “inhibiting another person or animal from moving freely on a regular basis or pushing their way into a situation demanding the attention of their owner.”
  5. Growling, hissing, or getting into a fight with another pet. This may especially be an issue in a multi-pet household where pets are competing for their owner’s attention and resources, Broderick points out.
  6. Trying to scare off strangers. “Pets may aggressively bark, hiss, or growl when owners are greeted or visitors arrive,” Magda says.
  7. Doing a trick. According to Broderick, this is a surefire sign that your pet is trying to get your attention.
  8. Crowding your space. “Cats sometimes will lie down on your work table or sit on your computer keyboard to get attention or even start knocking things off the table,” Broderick says. “A dog may sit up and beg to try and get your attention or sit up on their hind legs.”
  9. Leaving the room. Sometimes when our pets get mad, they may have a tendency to withdraw, Broderick says.

What Causes Jealous-Like Behaviors in Pets?

According to experts, jealous-like behaviors in pets typically suggest boredom or a ploy for attention from their owners. “Sometimes, just like people, they can feel insecure,” Broderick explains. “They need individual attention, lots of cuddling, and activities to keep them busy and to keep them from being bored. Sometimes, our pets just want us and they don’t want to share us with another pet or person.”

In circumstances like this, here’s what could be going through your pet’s head: “I see you doing something. You look happy. I want that,” Jones says. A lack of resources (only one toy for multiple pets), social conflict, too small of a space, stress, lack of exercise, and geneticdispositioncan cause jealous-like behavior, she adds.

Magda advises pet owners to pay close attention if one pet or family member is receiving more attention than another, a new pet or family member has arrived in the household, or there is inequality in the amount of food or treats between pets.

How to Stop Jealous Behavior in Pets

Here are some of Magda’s tips for nipping this type of behavior in the bud, before it gets out of control:

  • Keep a diary to record circumstances that cause signs of jealousy/aggression to occur, so you know what to look for. This can also be helpful for behaviors that you cannot manage on your own, as you can share the list with your vet or a professional animal behaviorist.
  • Avoid giving too much attention to one pet versus another.
  • Train dogs to feel safe in their crate so they can feel relaxed during their “time out” period. Give cats a space to call their own as well.
  • Feed pets separately to avoid conflict during mealtimes.
  • Ignore your pets when you arrive home so they don’t feel like one is getting more attention than the other. The level of emotional excitement will diminish, preventing signs of aggression from occurring.
  • Put leashes on both dogs when walking two at a time and consider a gentle leader for better control.
  • Don’t pet one animal at the expense of the other.
  • Have at least two of all toys and beds but remove food-based toys unless supervised.
  • Catch your pets being good. Give them attention and praise when they are acting the way you want them too.

Managing unwanted behaviors and keeping our pets mentally healthy are keys to avoiding unpleasant situations down the line, Broderick says. “As pet parents, we need to attend to their physical and emotional needs, just like we do for our human children,” he says. “Our pets just want to feel loved.”


How to Identify Heat Stroke Symptoms in Dogs
Jun 05
How to Identify Heat Stroke Symptoms in Dogs

Heat stroke is a condition that results from hyperthermia (an elevation in body temperature). This increase typically occurs as a response to a trigger, such as inflammation in the body or a hot environment. When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result. Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heatstroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage or even death can occur.

Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans; they release heat primarily by panting and they sweat through the foot pads and nose. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise. Once the dog's temperature reaches 106°, damage to the body's cellular system and organs may become irreversible. Unfortunately, too many dogs succumb to heat stroke when it could have been avoided. Learn how to recognize the signs of heat stroke and prevent it from happening to your dog. 

Why Do Cats Get Hairballs and Are They Normal?
May 04
Why Do Cats Get Hairballs and Are They Normal?

It’s a frightening sight if you’ve never witnessed it before. Your cat’s entire body convulses, as loud retching rumbles from deep inside. Then a cylindrical object hurls out of her mouth and onto the floor, much to your horror. It isn’t pleasant for your cat either, and many of them will moan before this violent bodily act. We have a lot of things in common with our felines, but this is not one of them. As mammals, we are warm-blooded, nurse our young and possess similar vital organs and bodily functions. Although we do experience vomiting, “coughing up” hairballs is something associated mostly with our beloved kitties.

Actually, cats do not “cough up” hairballs. Because hairballs are ejected from the stomach through the esophagus, vomiting is the correct term.

Hairballs, also known in the scientific community as trichobezoars, contain undigested hair and digestive fluids, including bile, which might explain their yellowish hue. Cylindrical in shape as they pass through the narrow, tubular esophagus, hairballs retain that shape as they are expunged from your cat’s mouth.

How does a hairball form?

Cats are meticulously clean. They don’t take showers like we do and, unless they have mobility issues, don’t generally need to be bathed like dogs. Cats clean themselves with their sandpapery tongues, which contain backward-slanting papillae. These barbs grab loose, dead hairs that the cat swallows while grooming. Overly meticulous groomers and long-haired breeds are prone to swallowing more hair, especially during shedding season.

While most of these hairs pass through your cat’s digestive tract and are eliminated in the feces, some of it remains in the stomach. As more hair accumulates in the stomach, it begins to form a clump that we know as a hairball.

A hairball can become dangerous if the mass passes from the stomach to the intestine rather than being vomited, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center. In fact, this would be a medical emergency , because the hairball could create a life-threatening blockage, which requires surgical removal. If your cat tries but does not produce a bowel movement, vomits frequently or refuses to eat, take her to the vet right away.

Is it a hairball or something more?

Brushing your cat and removing loose hairs prevents your cat from swallowing too much hair, which keeps hairballs from forming. Hairball diets, which are high in insoluble fiber, fiber supplements and GI lubricants like Laxatone are effective at moving swallowed hair through the digestive tract so that it passes through the stool.

While these remedies work at preventing hairballs, new research shows that we might just be treating symptoms and ignoring underlying disease. We may think of vomiting hairballs as a normal part of being a cat, but perhaps we should be asking why our cats are having problems moving swallowed hairs from the stomach through the rest of the digestive tract and expelling them through the feces in the first place.

When it’s more than just a hairball

Decreased digestive motility, or hypomotility, could indicate something more serious. Chronic vomiting, whether or not a hairball is expelled, could be a symptom that warrants further examination. So, before starting a hairball remedy, take your cat to your veterinarian to confirm that the hairball vomiting is just about the hairball.

“The problem with covering up vomiting with hairball diets, fiber supplements or GI lubricants is that it delays getting a diagnosis,” said Gary D. Norsworthy, D.V.M., a board-certified feline specialist and owner of the Alamo Feline Health Center in San Antonio.

Dr. Norsworthy explained that chronic vomiting might be a symptom of small bowel, or small intestinal, disease. Small bowel disease starts with mild inflammation in the intestines and progresses to severe inflammation, a condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In some cats, IBD progresses to lymphoma

 “It is much easier to treat IBD than lymphoma,” Dr. Norsworthy said. “Sadly, many of the chronically vomiting cats I diagnose are already at the lymphoma stage.” Assuming that chronic vomiting is normal or treating the symptoms without an accurate diagnosis can allow disease to progress, he warned.

“Vomiting two times per month or more for several consecutive months is abnormal and justifies an ultrasound study,” Dr. Norsworthy said. “If the ultrasound study is abnormal, biopsies of the small intestine (and sometimes the stomach) are justified. The presence or absence of hair is not significant.”

The final word: Don’t dismiss chronic vomiting and hairballs as normal

What does this mean for those of us who live with cats? Bottom line: Don’t dismiss chronic vomiting as normal.

“Chronically vomiting cats (even hairballs) need an ultrasound study and most likely biopsies of the small intestine,” Dr. Norsworthy said. What surprised him was how many chronically vomiting cats there are and how many of them have intestinal lymphoma. In fact, only one of the first 100 cats studied had a normal biopsy, necessitating further examination for all chronically vomiting cats.

With so many cats afflicted with chronic vomiting, it’s no wonder that we accept it as normal. “Where there are cats, there are hairballs” might be an axiom we accept as part of life with cats. But Dr. Norsworthy and his colleagues refuse to accept that, and neither should the rest of us.

Article by: Susan Logan McCracken