Of course our friendly felines need water, food, and shelter like us and their canine cohorts. However, cats have some unique requirements to keep them mentally healthy and happy. Cats truly need a “happy place”. They are territorial control freaks and for the most part prefer not sharing their territory or their resources. Resources include food, water, toys, beds, high perches, litter boxes, scratching posts, sunny windows spots, and hiding places. Cats need to be secure in knowing that they have a safe place to eat, rest, hunt and play without being ambushed. On the contrary, kittens that are raised together can show signs of bonding and friendship. They will sleep together and participate in mutual grooming activities. Cats can also bond with humans and demonstrate their affection towards the human by rubbing their face, sitting close to them or in their lap, and by grooming their human. In general kittens need to be socialized by 8 weeks of age. Play (hunting behavior), introduction to novelty and gentle handling is paramount in raising a confident cat.
This holiday keep your pets safe from,
Toxic plants (poinsetta, holly, ivy, mistletoe) including watering solutions with fertilizers or bleach
Snow globes can contain etylene glycol which is highly toxic to pets if ingested
Ice melt salts and salt dough ornaments can be tasty to pets but can cause electrolyte imbalances
Electrical Cords and batteries
Toxic foods (xylitol, chocolate, raisins, grapes, currents, garlic, onions, macedamia nuts)
Damaging foods such at excessive fat, grease, uncooked yeast bread dough, and sharp splintery bones
Ornaments (especially glass), flocking, and other decorations
Garland, tinsel, wrapping twine/ribbon, hair ties
Presents and little toys that the kids might leave lying around that could be ingested
Human medications that house guests may bring in and accidentally allow the pet access to
Little two-legged humans that might want to terrorize the fur babies even if it’s from trying to love them too much.
(have a room or crate where the pets can get a way from it all and feel safe)
Excessive noise and commotion can also be stressful to pets (they hear much much better than we do)
And lastly, every year we get reports of Christmas trees that have either fainted in front of or attacked the mischievous family pet so make sure the tree is secure!–
While socialization essentially begins at birth, there are five distinct behavioral stages. Puppies should be handled as soon as appropriate after birth to help prevent shy, fearful, defensive, and self-mutilating behaviors in adulthood.
Curiosity Period (5-7 wks) Fearless and exploring everything by crawling, climbing, tasting, and touching everything. This is a great time to expose a puppy to grooming, bathing and trips outside the home.
Behavioral refinement (7-9 wks) This is a great time to teach puppies basic commands and behavioral boundaries. Learning is permanent at this age and training can be tailored to each pet.
Fear Imprinting (8-11 wks) The age of cautiousness. Loud noises, strangers, sudden movements, and disciplinary actions by both other animals and humans are taken to heart and will be remembered .
Environmental Awareness (9-12wks) Puppies are refining their behaviors at this point and learning the right behaviors for the right time and place. Motor skills are improving and human bonding can be very strong at this point. If a puppy is left with littermates during this time frame and has very little human interaction it will often have trouble with separation anxiety and/or hyper excitability.
Senior classification (13-16 wks) The age of independence. Pup will test dominance and leadership. It’s important to be consistent and gentle but firm during this stage and not let the dog dominate children or resist things like nail trims and leash training.
A dog’s behavior is determined both from its genetic makeup and from its environment. While dogs with a history of abuse can act fearful, more often than naught they were not properly socialized as puppies. Proper socialization gives a puppy guidance, confidence, and the ability to handle new situations with grace. In general the key socialization period for puppies is about 5-16 weeks. The curiosity period is from 5-7 weeks, and the behavioral refinement period occurs about 7-9 weeks. Fear imprinting can be seen from 8-11 weeks. Environmental awareness is seen from 9-12 weeks and seniority classification usually occurs from 13-16 weeks. I’ll expand more on each phase in the next article, so stay tuned.
In general healthy cats need only to stay dry and get out of the wind to cope with colder temperatures. However older cats, sick or thin cats, and kittens all need more warmth to stay well. Facebook and Pinterest sites often have great ideas on building simple shelters for cats, if you don’t have access to a shed, garage, or covered porch. Some of the simplest designs include using plastic totes with lids and inexpensive Styrofoam coolers to line the inside. An entrance/exit hole(s) are cut in the sides along with a few smaller holes for ventilation. Lastly bedding material such as straw, shavings, blankets, old towels, or even a heated pet bed is added. Remember cats don’t always share well, so having more than one kitty condo is great.
Winter will be upon us before we know it. While a lot of pooches get to spend the majority of their time inside during the winter, other dogs have to deal with the outdoors in inclement weather. The question then is what is enough shelter to keep you dog safe from the elements? In general any shelter that can keep the dog dry and out of the wind is adequate unless the pet has extremely short hair. Dog houses, insulated or not, need to be large enough for the dog to stand up in and turn around. Keep bedding such as straw, shavings, beds, or blankets clean and dry. Try to face the opening of the shelter away from prevailing winds. In most areas this will mean facing the opening to the south, east, or southeast. Geriatric dogs, sick dogs, short-haired dogs and puppies will likely need additional warmth depending on the temperature and wind chill.
This is a list for people looking to add a new puppy to the home, keep in mind for the following top 10 breeds named by the American Kennel Club.
Labrador Retrievers: Cancer, hip/ankle/knee dysplasia, osteochondrosis and entropion.
German Shepherds: Hip/elbow dysplasia, digestive problems, epilepsy and chronic eczema.
Golden Retrievers: Shorter life span, hypothyroidism, eye disorders, elbow dysplasia, tumors and seizures.
Bull Dogs: Cardiac and respiratory disease, hip dysplasia, cherry eye, prone to heat stroke and skin disorders.
Beagles: Eye disorders, patellar luxation, glaucoma and epilepsy.
French Bull Dogs: Trouble breathing, heat stroke, respiratory disorders, spinal disorders, eye disorders, join disorders and heart disease.
Poodles: Inherited eye diseases that lead to blindness and blood clotting disorders.
Rottweiler: Aortic stenosis, hip/elbow dysplasia, entropion, ectropion, cruciate ligament rupture and cancer.
Yorkshire Terriers: Bronchitis, cataracts, eye disorders, digestive issues, vomiting and diarrhea.
Boxers: Cancer, heart conditions, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, epilepsy and gastric issues.
While pets are generally good stress relievers, there are situations in which they can actually cause us more stress than we already have.Â Â Itâ€™s best to recognize early on what circumstances may increase our stress levels and then pick the pet that best fits our personality, lifestyle, and budget.Â Here is a list of common stressors.Â Â Â Â Â
They require maintenance or have medical problems that go beyond oneâ€™s budget.
They interfere with oneâ€™s sleep for a prolonged period of time.
They make excessive amounts of noise (especially high pitched noises)
They are aggressive and/or unsocialized or lack basic training for species
They repeatedly escape from their enclosure
They have house soiling issues
Having too many to care for, especially if they donâ€™t get along
Careful consideration and placement of a pet or pets is necessary to help avoid pet induced stress to humans.
Having a pet is a great way to relieve stress and stay healthy, provided they are a good fit and the owner can provide for the petâ€™s needs. Pets can give us a sense of purpose and responsibility. Daily walks with a dog are great for the cardiovascular system and help boost mood. The playful antics of pets can make us laugh so hard we cry, thus boosting our immune system. Â Even watching fish in a tank for 30 minutes can decrease cortisol levels even more so than spending time with a spouse. Overall, pets decrease our blood pressure. They lower our cortisol levels which in turn lessens depression.Â Interactions with pets can increase our oxytocin levels and cause the release of endorphins and the neurotransmitter dopamine, thereby improving, our ability to relax.Â Pets bring us joy and happiness and brighten our days.
Summer is a time that many dogs and cats get a chance to roam around outside and experience the great outdoors. Both dogs and cats have predator instincts and many enjoy hunting. However, hunting brings with it unwanted parasites that most pet parents find disgusting at best. Tapeworms might the worst. The owners usually notice flat rice sized segments wiggling out of the pet’s anus. Sometimes they find the dried segments stuck to the animal’s fur around the tail area or on bedding where the pet sleeps. On occasion, the pet will actually vomit up a live or dead worm. While tapeworms aren’t usually life- threatening, they can cause a pet to lose weight, shed excessively and possibly vomit more than normal. Fortunately worming medications for pets are relatively safe and effective and in most cases are easy to administer. Talk to your veterinarian about the best deworming program for your cat or dog.