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February 2010

Archive for February, 2010

cat-litter-boxCat litter works to reduce odor causing bacteria from urine and feces. It really doesn’t matter if you choose unscented or scented kitty litter. My cats don’t mind which kind that I choose, as long as I don’t buy litter that looks like crystals. It must be clay based or my cats will not go near it. My cats may be different than yours or are just more fussy.  You can also choose clumping or non clumping litter. Clumping litter sticks together where the cat urinates.  This makes it easier to scoop the clumped litter from the box everyday. You also do not need to change the litter box as frequently. Just add more litter as your need it. Scooping out the clumps will reduce the amount of litter in the box and reduce the amount of odor. You can go longer without changing it. Non-clumping litter should be scooped everyday and the entire box should be changed once a week. More frequently if you have multiple cats in the house.

When filling the box, make sure that the litter is at least two inches deep in the box. This will make your cleanup easier and give your cat enough litter to bury the waste.  You may want to use plastic litter liners, they can make cleanup easier. That’s if your cats are not like mine. My cats shred up the plastic liner actually making cleanup more difficult. So I got rid of the liner altogether.

There are many kinds of products from littermaid and other manufacturers. You can purchase a self cleaning litter box, a covered box etc. Whatever you choose, make sure that the litter box is kept clean and changed regularly.

dog-wearing-glassesDid you know that animals develop cataracts the same way that people do? Their eye lenses slowly begin to degrade and cloud over. As those lenses become compromised, those lens loose the ability to form clear images and your dogs sight may become seriously impaired. Cataracts can develop in dogs of all ages. They are most typically seen in older animals.  The bad news is that there is no way to reverse the damage. The only treatment option is to surgically remove the lens and insert a synthetic lens in its place. This surgery is very costly and many dog owners simply choose to let their pet adapt to it’s new circumstances.  Most dogs do so quite well if they are in a familiar environment.  However, dogs with cataracts should be monitored carefully because those faulty lens can become inflamed. Pet medication such as eye drops are often recommended.

st-bernard-2Some dogs don’t have much interest in high end activities such as running, racing or playing frisby.  They prefer a laid back life style and require only a 20 minute walk twice a day.  There are some breeds that fall into this category. Among them are the Bulldog, Shih Tzu, St Bernard and Pekingese. Dogs that are couch potato’s range in size from very large to petite. Despite the fact that they love to stay in their dog beds and rest, they are not pushovers!  They can be uncooperative, stubborn and quick to take an assertive role in the absence of a human. They do like their long naps but they also need guidance, discipline and regular exercise.

cocker-spanielsMany foods are potentially toxic to dogs. One that is extremely dangerous is bread dough.  The mixture contains yeast as a leveling agent and therefore can expand many times its original size. This is exactly what happens when your dog swallows bread dough. As the dough swells in your dogs stomach it starts to ferment producing alcohol which is toxic to your dog. Even ingesting small amounts of bread dough can cause your dog pain, bloating and vomiting.  It can also leave him feeling disoriented and listless. Pet medication will not help him feel better.  If he’s eaten a lot, he may end up in the operating room requiring surgery to remove the mass.  Your dog will also need treatment for alcohol poisoning. If you a bread maker, make sure to keep your dog out of the kitchen while you’re baking!

Using your pet carrier or crate properly

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

dog-in-crateA pet carrier or crate is a portable kennel just large enough to contain the dog that it is intended for. It is made of either plastic or metal. When we use the term “crating”,” we mean the practice of using the kennel for training purposes.

You must understand what the crate means to your dog. Dogs are normally considered den creatures. So the dog crate is considered it’s den. If it is properly introduced, it becomes a safe haven for your dog. It should never be used as a means of punishment. The crate should be kept around other people not stuck in a basement or small room where there are no human beings. Have your dog sleep in the crate during the night and feed you dog in the crate. Dogs like to be around people so make sure he is not kept in his crate during the day if possible.  The crate must be large enough for your dog to stand and turn around it. A puppy should never spend more than 3 or 4 hours a day in his crate. An adult dog should not spend more than 8 hours in the crate.  Make sure that the crate is always kept clean and not in a damp, cold area.  If you use the crate correctly, it will always be a safe haven for your dog.

puppy-and-catIntroducing a new puppy to a new home with a cat really takes a lot of time, patience and prudence to keep the peace. When the puppy arrives, put him behind a gate in a room separate from the cat but let the two sniff each other.  If a few days, walk the puppy around the house with a dog leash. Allow the cat to approach but beware of any hostility that may occur. If anything occurs, pick up the pup and say “no.”  If they stay calm, praise each of them. When the tension subsides, you may let the puppy move freely around the house.  Always make sure that the cat has a safe retreat such as a ledge. Always keep them separate when you go out at first. You should keep the cats litter box and food bowl out of the puppy’s reach. Remember,not all cats and puppies will become buddies but most can live with each other harmoniously.

small-dogThe Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed. I owned a Chihuahua that was a mix. It was slightly larger that the typical toy Chihuahua.  These dogs make great apartment pets. They are loyal and hearty. The can be very high strung. From the outside of my apartment, my Chihuahua sounded like a much larger dog by his bark. This was a good thing since his bark provided protection. Chihuahua’s are also very loyal and loving pets.  They are easy to keep. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a dog leash that fits properly if they are super small. Chihuahua’s live to about 15 years on average but since they are so small, they don’t have problems with arthritis that some of the larger breeds have.

You may be curious as to what is the smallest dog ever recorded. The answer is a Yorkshire Terrier that was approximately 3″ long and 1 1/5 inches tall at the shoulder. Now that’s a small dog!!

dog-sleepingWe all know very well that dogs really like to nap. The time spent napping varies from dog to dog. If your dog gets plenty of exercise everyday and spends lots of time in his dog bed napping, then I wouldn’t worry. This is perfectly normal. If your dog does not get enough exercise and naps all the time, it could just be that he’s gotten lazy just as humans do if they don’t get enough exercise. If your dog is an older dog and has arthritis, it could be that he is most comfortable in his bed resting.  All animals need different amounts of sleep. Horses and cows may sleep only three or four hours a day because they require long hours of grazing to supply their bodies with sufficient amounts of food. Bats and opossums, on the other hand sleep about 20 hours a day! If you have a very large breed such as a St. Bernard, Newfoundland or Mastiff, it is not uncommon if they sleep 16 or 17 hours a day.

Just make sure that your dog is healthy, gets lots of exercise and eats right, then just let him sleep as much as he wants.

mini-dachshundA miniature Dachshund may be small but he has plenty of energy. Along with long walks, you can help train his energy with some lively games. There’s nothing more enjoyable for your mini dog than playing fetch. Retrieving balls and squeaky toys is his idea of nirvana. It is also a good opportunity for you to teach him the command “drop it.”  He also likes to play “tug” but make sure it’s not too rough and you are the one who starts and ends the game.  Playing hide and seek with him is also fun as long as he already knows how to sit.  Try teaching him a few new tricks like “hi five” or “take a bow.”  If you take the time to play with your mini Dachshund, he will have a fit mind and body. It will also keep him more relaxed and happier. He will really enjoy sleeping in his dog bed at the end of a long day of play!

cat-on-nightstandCats are very habitual creatures.  I don’t use an alarm clock because my cat, Mollie is there every morning waking me up at 6:00am. She sits on the nightstand and gently gives me a tap or two. My younger cat, Millie systematically sits by her cat toys each night when its time to play. If I don’t start swinging her sticks around so she could chase whatever is on the end of them, she will meow and jump on things that are off limits to her just to get my attention until I give in.

Your cats internal alarm clock and crepuscular nature tells her that it is time to get up at around dawn. It also keeps them up in the early evening. Usually mine sleep in the middle of the day.  I do believe that their internal clock tells them when it’s time to eat, play, sleep etc. So if your cat is there every morning waking you up, it could really be a good thing especially if you forget to set your alarm clock. As long as she is not waking you up at 3:00am!