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November 2010

Archive for November, 2010

Lead Poisoning in Pets

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

dog-and-cat-3Lead poison is a hazard that is normally associated with humans, especially children but cats and dogs can also be susceptible.  The same sources that affect people like old paint or plaster with lead in it can hurt pets as well.  Dogs or cats usually get lead poisoning during home renovations especially in older houses.  If a cat gets a lot of dust on him when paint is being removed, he will groom himself and ingest the lead particles.  Dogs may chew on construction materials. A pet with lead poisoning may have vomiting, diarrhea, depression, dementia or seizures.  If you suspect lead poisoning, your vet will prescribe a blood test and administer pet medication if necessary.

Protecting your dogs feet in ice and snow

Sunday, November 28, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

dog-coat-bootsDogs usually love a long walk in the snow, except when the salt on the sidewalk gets stuck between in your dogs paws. This is extremely painful and causes their paws to burn.  Even snow and ice can get stuck in your dogs paws causing cuts and uncomfortably cold toes. Even a small amount of snow and ice buildup on your dogs paws can pull the hairs underneath and cause a loss of traction.  You can help by keeping your dogs nails clipped short . If the hairs are clipped too short, they will no longer offer protection from snow and ice. You could avoid trimming out too much hair by keeping the scissors parallel with your dogs pad and just clip off what sticks out from in between the pads. The fur should be cut just short enough around the toes to see the end of the toe nail.

In cold weather, you may want to consider a dog coat and dog boots to protect his paws. Make sure that you are aware if your dog is in pain from the ice, snow and rock salt that can get stuck between his toes.

Bad crating habits

Saturday, November 27, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

dog-crate-3A crate should always be a positive experience for your dog. Some people use the crate in the wrong way and create a negative experience for their dog.  Bad crating occurs when the crate is over used or is misused.  Some people want their dog out of the way so they “throw” then in their dog crate. These people should not own a dog.  Crating a dog for eight hours while you’re at work or overnight is fine as long as the dog is given plenty or attention and exercise when you’re home.  People who crate their dog for longer periods must question why they got a dog in the first place.  It’s fine to send a child to his room if he has done something wrong. Dogs do not take to this kind of discipline in the same way. If your dog chews something that he is not supposed to and you “throw” him in his crate to punish him, you are not only punishing the dog but you are punishing yourself. The dog will NEVER want to go in his crate because you created such as bad experience for him. NEVER USE THE CRATE FOR PUNISHMENT!! You’ll be sorry if you do. Remember, dogs live in the moment, so you must catch in in the act of doing something wrong and correct him in the right way.

If you use your dog crate in the right way, it will become a safe, comfortable place for your dog.

Feeding your dog in his dog crate

Friday, November 26, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

dog-crate-2When introducing a new pup to his crate, you want to make it a pleasant experience for him. Food is always pleasant to a dog.  Begin to feed him his regular meals near his dog crate.  He will begin to associate a pleasant experience with the crate.  If your dog is going in his crate regularly, then put his food in the back of the crate.  If your dog is still a little reluctant to go into his crate, put the food in the crate only as far as he will go before becoming nervous or anxious.  Each time you feed him, place his food a little further back. This way he will start to feel comfortable with the crate knowing that there is a pleasant experience waiting for him inside.

Once you notice that your dog is not nervous and is standing comfortably eating his food, you could then close the door to the crate.  At the beginning, open the door as soon as he is finished eating then gradually leave the door closed a little longer after each feeding.  If your dog begins to whine or cry, then decrease the time that the door is closed. Do not let him out until he stops whining.  Otherwise, he will learn that the way to get out of his crate is to whine.  After he gets comfortable eating in his crate, you can keep him inside for short periods of time while you’re home. Crate training is a gradual process. Never try to force your dog inside or leave him in his crate and leave before he has gotten used to it. If you do this, your dog will never get used to his crate and will associate it with something that is unpleasant. We will have more on crate training in upcoming blog posts. Patience is the key.

Is it OK to take your cat for a walk on a lease?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

cat-leashA cat’s life is safer when they live indoors. Lots of people would like to give their cat some fresh air and would like to take them for a walk on a leash.  There are leashes for cats available that are different from a typical dog leash.  It is possible to train a cat to walk on a leash. Use a harness instead of a collar and get a leash that is four to six feet long.  The first thing that you must do is get your cat used to the harness.  If she resists, don’t force her. Leave the harness around for a few days where she can smell it.  When she’s ready, let your cat drag the leash but keep an eye on her.  Then hold the leash and follow her for short indoor walks.  Eventually, you can try to take her outside.  Make sure that you praise her, pet her and give her a treat when she goes where you want.  Never pull.

In my opinion, if your cat won’t walk on a leash, don’t force her. Indoor cats are not used to being on a leash or being outdoors. An ideal situation is a screened in porch. This way your cat can get the feeling that they’re outside without really being out. They can rome around on their own and will still remain safe.

Teaching an outdoor cat to use the litter box

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

cat-buried-in-litterIf you want to turn an outdoor cat into an indoor cat the first thing that you’ll have to do is teach him to use the litter box. This actually can be easier than you think. Cats are naturally inclined to go in sand or fine particles.  The first thing that you should do is confine your cat to a room with no absorbent surfaces other than his litter box.  Give him lots of attention and get some cat toys so that you could play with him as much as you can. When he starts to use the litter box regularly, give him more and more time outside of the room but make sure that you watch him closely.  Eventually, you will want to put another litter box in the place where you really want the box to stay. The location is key. Make sure that the box is in a quiet, easy to access place away from the cat’s food and water. Make sure that you wait for your cat to use the new litter box before you remove the first one.

Do your cats urinate in your plants?

Monday, November 22, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

cat-plantIf your cat was an outdoor cat, she would naturally use the dirt to urinate of defecate. If she is urinating in your plants, it’s because dirt is her natural toilet.  I’m sure that you don’t want to remove all of the houseplants from your house but what can you do to stop this annoying behavior? The first thing that you should do is make sure that the cat’s litter box is clean.  A dirty litter box is not the cause of her behavior.  I know this will be a little extra work for you but you need to re pot your plants.  Once your cat has urinated in a plant, her smell is there and she is likely to go back to that plant again.  You’ll need to replace the soil and then you’ll need to put some kind of pet repellent on the plant. These repellents are sold in many pet and garden stores. You may also need a pet stain and odor remover if your cat “missed” and peed on the floor.

Keeping your dog safe during the holidays

Sunday, November 21, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

dog-tableThe holidays are right at our door step and we are preparing big meals, decorating and gathering with family and friends. We must remember our pets during the holiday season and make sure they are safe. If you are expecting guests and your dog gets excited when the door bell rings, make sure that he doesn’t run out. Keep him in another room or in the basement until the guests have arrived.

Keep a current ID tag on your pet at all times in the event that he does escape during a holiday party.

There are certain substances that must be kept away from dogs. They are: apple seeds, onions, raisins, grapes, chocolate, macadamia nuts and pear seeds. These are all toxic to dogs.  Remind your guests not to give your dog anything except his dog treats.  Do not leave food unattended, dogs love to snatch treats from the table and it just could be something that is toxic to them.

Some common plants are toxic. They are  azaleas, rhododendron, and foxglove and can all cause heart failure if ingested.

Make sure that you dispose of all of the trash right away. You don’t want your dog to get a hold of a bone and possibly choke on it.

It’s a good idea to keep your dog in a separate room during a party. Make them comfortable with some of his favorite toys and some soft music.

Christmas tree lights can be a problems if you have a puppy who likes to chew. Make sure that there are no hanging wires from the tree. A puppy would love to grab them, chew on them and possibly even pull the tree down! Try not to use tinsel. I almost lost a cat years back who chewed on the tinsel which got logged in his digestive track. It was really a close call.

Follow some of these simple instructions and have a great holiday!

The Holidays are here, time to shop for our pets

Saturday, November 20, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

santa-catAccording to a survey that was done by Pet Smart, over 95% of us plan to give a Christmas present to our dog or cat.  Even though our pets don’t know the significance of a holiday, they love to receive a new dog or cat toy or some treats that they could munch on. Some good ideas are toys that dispense treats. There are lots of  balls, bones or boxes which you can put treats in.  These toys stimulate a dogs brain as well as his appetite.  If your dog is an active one, and likes to fetch, get him a new F risbee or ball.  If you dog is a swimmer, you can buy a floating toy which he will fetch for you while in the water.  If a Frisbee is too hard, you can choose softer flying discs which won’t hurt your dogs teeth.

How about cats? I own two and one cat loves anything that dangles from a stick. There are lots of cat fishing pole cat toys to choose from. My older cat likes to cuddle up in her favorite places and prefers peace and quiet. I would choose a kitty condo or a comfy cat bed for her. Cats are more about comfort then fetching and playing. That’s except if your cat is like my younger cat, Millie who must play every evening, that’s EVERY evening. It doesn’t matter if I’m busy, tired or sick, I must play with Millie. Another thought would be a video of something moving like birds flying.  This would be a great gift for a cat.

Whatever you do this holiday season, lets not forget about our little best friends. Happy shopping!


Kitten Vaccines

Friday, November 19, 2010
posted by Jim Murphy

kittens-cupsThey say that cats have nine lives but just to be on the safe side, we need to get them vaccinated. You should see your veterinarian about starting a series of vaccinations for your kitten by the time she is eight weeks of age. All kittens should receive vaccines for rabies, upper respiratory infections and distemper.  A vaccination against feline leukemia is recommended especially if your cat is going to be going out doors.  Whether or not your kitten needs shots for other diseases is up to your veterinarian. He or she will consider the risk of infection to your cat, other cats that she may be exposed to and where she lives.  Your vet will also consider the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine.  I always got my kittens a new cat toy after each vaccine. I guess that’s because as a kid, I really hated needles and when I would go to my doctor, I would throw such a fit that my parents would always buy me a new toy if I had to get a shot. What a spoiled kid I was!