Monthly Archives

July 2015

Itchy Skin in Cats

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Itchy Skin in Cats

If your cat can’t stop scratching, you should take a closer look at her coat and skin to see what could be the culprit. Itchy skin in cats is a very common problem and fortunately, it usually isn’t serious. However, it is of utmost importance to identify the cause of itching and make sure that your cat receives proper treatment. As soon as possible in order to avoid complications as constant scratching can lead to hair loss, crusting and infection.

A number of things can be responsible for itchy skin in cats. The most common causes include:

– Fleas and lice. Both parasites can cause major discomfort including intense itchiness which gets worse if the infestation is left unchecked. Fleas and flea droppings can often be seen with a naked eye but to be sure, you may also use a comb. If you see tiny black spots, you are looking at flea droppings. You may also comb out white dots or flea eggs. Lice and their eggs can be visually detected as well. They are tiny white insects producing white elongated eggs. However, they are far less common than fleas.

– Mites and other parasites. Mite infestation in cats usually involves the ears but there is also mite species which affects the skin, causing severe itching and symptoms such as scaling and skin lesions. Just like fleas and lice, skin mites can often be seen with a naked eye on a closer inspection of the skin. The same counts for parasites such as ticks.

– Allergies. Cats can develop allergies too. And they can manifest themselves in the form of itchy skin. The latter can be a reaction to a number of things including food, grooming products and even environmental factors such as pollen and dust, while many cats are also hypersensitive to flea and insect bites. Besides itchy skin, symptoms of an allergy in cats may also include skin lesions and hair loss.

– Bacterial and fungal skin infections. These are usually also accompanied by other symptoms such as crusting, lesions, hair loss or/and discharge.

Treatment of Itchy Skin in Cats

Scratching Cat

To relieve the discomfort, it is necessary to identify and treat the cause of the itchiness. If fleas or lice are the culprit, the itchiness will go away as soon as the parasites are eliminated. There are a number of highly effective topical products from shampoos and sprays to spot-ons, many of which also provide protection from future infestations and are available over-the-counter.

Other parasites such as mites can successfully be treated with topical products as well, while ticks should be physically removed. Topical ointments and creams are the most commonly prescribed treatment for bacterial and fungal skin infections but your vet may also prescribe oral medications, depending on the cause and severity of the infection.

Allergies can be very challenging to treat, especially if the trigger hasn’t been identified yet. The best treatment is elimination of the trigger but your vet may also prescribe oral and topical medications to reduce the allergic reaction and alleviate its symptoms including itchy skin.

Introducing Your Dog to New Dogs

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Introducing Your Dog to New Dogs

Dogs are social animals and a new dog can thus bring a lot of joy in your pet’s life. A new dog, after all, means a new playmate, new friend and new companion. Unfortunately, this is not how your dog may perceive new dogs, especially when first introduced. For that reason, it is highly important to take the introduction process very seriously and follow the expert advice summarized below.

Neutral Territory

It is recommended not to introduce your dog to new dogs at home. Dogs are territorial and they consider your home and backyard as their territory. Just like a stranger (and mailman), a new dog can be perceived as an intruder. To prevent hostile and aggressive reactions, introduce your dog to new dogs on a neutral territory, for example in a nearby park.

One Person Per Dog

It is impossible to foretell how your dog will react to a new dog. To prevent the worse, there should be one person per dog. Also, every dog should be on the leash. That way the distance between the dogs can be controlled and in case of aggression, they can be pulled apart before seriously injuring each other. But remember that the leashes should be kept loose. Tightness can cause anxiety and nervousness which in turn can lead to hostility.

One Dog at a Time

Introducing Dogs

If you have more dogs, introduce the newcomer to one dog at a time. Two or multiple dogs act like a pack and if one of them attacks the new dog, others will follow him.

Calm, Friendly Tone

If you’re tense, your dog will be tense as well. Tension is bad because it translates into an increased risk of hostility and aggression. So be sure to be calm and talk with a friendly tone when introducing the dogs.

Gradual Progress

Let the dogs to sniff each other but only for a few seconds. Then take them for a walk and allow them to sniff each other repeatedly while walking. You may also reward the dogs with a treat when obeying your commands or displaying good behavior to make the experience more pleasant for both of them.

Body Language

It is extremely important to ‘read’ your dog’s body language. If your dog appears relaxed, has his mouth open, makes a play bow or wags his tail, it means he is OK with the new dog. But if his tail is held high, ears placed forward, mouth closed or if he is staring, growling or moving stiffly and slowly, immediately stop the introduction and distance the dogs from each other for a few minutes.

Dogs Need Time Too

Don’t try to speed things up. Instead, let the dogs to proceed at their own pace. When ready, they will interact. Also, keep in mind that it’s normal for newly introduced dogs to ignore each other at first. Be patient and remember that just like humans, dogs need some time before becoming comfortable with each other as well.

You should follow the above listed ‘introduction rules’ no matter if the new dog is just a visitor or new pack member. If the introduction didn’t go well, you are recommended to seek professional help as soon as possible, especially if the dogs are going to live together.

Dogs being introduced

Arthritis In Cats

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Cats Get Arthritis Too

Arthritis, a painful inflammation of the joints which gradually gets worse doesn’t only affect humans. The condition is also very common in cats, especially in those older than 10 years although it can be developed by younger cats as well. And since cats typically hide signs of health problems, arthritis usually goes unnoticed until the pain becomes severe. Unfortunately, arthritis in cats cannot be cured but there are ways to relieve the pain and improve the cat’s quality of life.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats

Cats are masters of disguise when it comes to hiding health issues. As a result, it is very difficult to notice that they have a problem until it gets severe. And arthritis is no exception. The first signs and symptoms are thus displayed only when the pain increases to the point the cat can no longer hide it. Some of the most common symptoms of arthritis in cats include:

– stiffness, lameness
– lethargy
– reduced activity, lack of interest in play
– reluctance to jump, difficulty climbing stairs
– joint swelling
– accidents outside the litter box
– decreased grooming
– discomfort, irritability, display of aggression when handled

Causes of Arthritis in Cats

Arthritic Cat

Most cases of arthritis in cats are caused by degeneration of the cartilage, a protective tissue that prevents the bones from rubbing directly against each other. This degeneration is unfortunately a normal part of the aging process and thus the condition is most often observed in older cats. However, arthritis can also be developed by younger cats. The most common causes after aging related wear and tear include injury, trauma and infection. Overweight has also been shown to play a role in arthritis by increasing stress on the joints which doesn’t only increase the risk of developing the condition but it also makes it more difficult to manage.

Risk Factors of Arthritis in Cats

Just like in humans, the risk of arthritis in cats increases with age. More than three quarters of cats aged 10 years or more have damaged cartilage to a certain extent. Overweight is also a major risk factor because it puts stress on the joints and increases the wear and tear. Other risk factors include injury such as joint dislocation, trauma and infection causing inflammation of the joints.

Treatment of Arthritis in Cats

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis in cats. The available treatments focus on relieving the pain and improving joint mobility which, however, dramatically increases the pet’s quality of life. For that reason it is critical to start with treatment as soon as possible.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are the most commonly prescribed treatment because they alleviate the pain and improve mobility. Surgery may also be an option, especially if the cat has suffered an injury or trauma. If your cat has arthritis, you can also help her by making food and water easily available, providing easy-to-reach and cozy bed, buying a litter box with low sides, etc. The last but not the least important is to watch the cat’s weight. If she is overweight, ask your vet for advice on diet and exercise that is safe for cats with arthritis.

Golden Retriever – Breed Information

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Golden Retriever

Due to its friendly appearance, intelligence, obedience and attachment to humans, the Golden Retriever is one of the top 3 most popular breeds in the United States. Predominantly kept as a family dog – the breed gets along very well with kids – the Goldens are also used as hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, guide dogs for the blind and detection dogs, to mention only a few of many uses.

History of Golden Retrievers

The Golden Retriever was recognized as a breed by the Kennel Club of England in 1911, while the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1925. The first Golden Retrievers were developed on the estate of Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth (1820 – 1894) in Scotland in the mid-19th century. The legend has it that the breed originates from a Russian tracker dog breed that was acquired by Tweedmouth from a circus. However, this was later shown to be a myth. Instead, the Golden was developed by careful inbreeding of Wavy- and Flat-Coated Retrievers, Water Spaniels and Irish Setter with an aim to develop a breed capable of retrieving game from both land and water.

Golden Retriever Appearance and Physical Characteristics

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a large-sized breed, reaching 21 to 24 inches in height and weighing 55 to 75 pounds. The golden coat (albeit there are several different shades) is thick, soft and shiny, while the hair is straight or wavy but not curly. The hair is long on the ears, chest, under stomach, back, hind legs and tail, and short on the head, front of legs and paws. Shedding is quite heavy, especially during the seasons change.

Golden Retriever Personality and Temperament

The breed is known for its friendly personality, calm character, intelligence, obedience and loyalty. And as mentioned above, the Goldens are also great with children which makes them excellent family dogs. Just like other dogs, however, it is crucial for them to receive early socialization and training.

Golden Retriever Grooming and Care

Golden Retrievers don’t need any special care. To keep their golden hair soft and shiny, they should be brushed twice a week and given a bath every now and then. Equally important is to keep their nails short, regularly clean their ears, brush their teeth – if possible, on a daily basis – and make sure that they receive all the necessary vaccines and protection against fleas, ticks and other parasites.

Golden Retriever Diet and Exercise

Healthy, nutritionally balanced diet plays the key role in every dog’s health and longevity. And Golden Retrievers are no exception. If you need advice or guidance in choosing the best diet for your dog, please consult your vet who will also help you determine your dog’s nutritional needs based on his age and overall health.

Golden Retrievers are a sporting breed and therefore, they need a lot of exercise. They also love to play with their human masters.

Golden Retriever Health

The Goldens can be develop the same health problems as other breeds although they are also prone to some hereditary conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Other common health problems in Golden Retrievers involve the eyes and cardiovascular system. You are recommended to choose a reputable breeder and follow your vet’s recommendations on how to keep your dog happy and healthy.

Things You May Not Know About Golden Retrievers

– Two U.S. Presidents owned a Golden Retriever while in office: Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan
– They are very friendly to strangers which makes them bad guard dogs
– Their topcoat is water-repellent
– When they get older, the color of the hair gets grayer or whiter

Golden Puppies