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Pet Amphibians

ID-1002214Are you thinking about getting an amphibian for a pet? If you are there a few things you should consider first. When shopping for an amphibian, what you see in the store is a baby, they will grow larger and the babies usually require a certain level of care to keep them healthy and fit.

Be aware that amphibians secrete Salmonella, an anaerobic bacteria that can cause food poisoning if the person who handles the amphibian doesn’t wash their hands thoroughly after handling the amphibian. Always wash your hands before handling the amphibian to protect them and afterwards to protect yourself. You can’t clean the salmonella off the animals, it’s their natural defense mechanism, it will always be there.

Also, when purchasing an amphibian be sure that the animal was bread in captivity, you don’t want to be supporting poachers. Before purchasing your amphibian, ask about the health of the animal and for documentation of legality for imports or protected species to ensure that you’re not purchasing a poached amphibian.

If you decide afterward that you don’t want the animal do not release it into the wild, even if the species is native to your area. Amphibians in captivity may expose natural or wild amphibians to diseases, and in some cases it’s illegal to release captured or captive amphibians into the wild.

Here are some great amphibian species for beginners: Green Tree Frog, Barking Tree Frog, African Clawed Frog, African Dwarf Frog, Fire Salamander, Tiger Salamander, Marble Salamander, Fire Belly Toad, American Toad, Eastern Newt, or Fire Belly Newt.

ID-100244622Avoid amphibians that have the name monitor or Poisonous as these require specific knowledge to own. The previously mentioned amphibians are perfect for beginners. But be sure not to mix species in the tank. If they don’t live together in the wild, they could transfer diseases to one another.

Before bringing the new amphibian home make sure that their environment is ready at your home for them.  It’s important to make sure that the cage is the proper temperature and has all the required materials inside so you don’t traumatize your new friend. And be sure to buy the proper food for your new pet as well.

Most pet stores have kits, you can buy one set it up and have it ready for when you bring your new pet home. But always do some research before purchasing so you know what you’re getting into and if you can handle the responsibility.

 

 

 

When to Put Your Pet on a Diet

ID-10023413Your pooch or kitty might be a little overweight and you wouldn’t even know it. A healthy size of dog depends on its breed and size. Cats generally have a straightforward weight class that is determined by gender and whether they’re neutered/spayed or not.

Dogs have a weight size index on the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention website which guides owners to better feeding habits and schedules for their animals. Dogs can safely lose 1-3 percent of their body weight as long as the program their on isn’t aggressive. Just like humans, dogs need motivation, support and positive reinforcement to learn new healthier eating habits.

First thing you need to do is monitor your pet’s eating habits. Are you free feeding them? That’s when you leave an amount of food in the dish for your pet to eat as they wish. Another possibility is you have two cats or dogs and one is eating the others’ food. Either before the second pet has a chance, or finishing off whatever the second pet leaves behind.

In this situation you should probably feed your pets separately. or if you like them feeding together, you should tether the over weight one until the second pet finishes and then you can control how much the overweight one eats. Also don’t over feed your pooches. They only need to eat twice a day. As long as you are feeding them their daily needed intake, you shouldn’t be feeding them more.

Pet treats are another source of contention in the battle of the bulge. Most people give their animal the full treat, but some vets recommend that you break apart the treats and feed them only treats the size of an eraser for certain size dogs. Large dogs should even have their treats monitored. You can even think about giving your pets healthy snacks. Dogs are natural omnivores, but often treated as though they are carnivores. You can always give your dog some carrots, apples, and other fruit and vegetables for a treat or reward. Whatever you do, don’t stop treats altogether or your dog will think they’re doing something wrong.

If your dog begs for food, rather than giving in, try giving your dog some attention. Flip that behavior into something positive, or you can try giving them something healthy when they engage in this type of behavior.

You can give you dogs and cats a little extra play time. Don’t over do it, just make it a light activity, for example toss a ball around for a bit, or if possible take them for a swim. Just be sure on hot days to make sure your pet is hydrated! When you’re playing with your dog during your regular play time make sure the toys are interactive. There are toys that you can hide food in, but makes your dog work for it at the same time. These toys can help fight the fat too. Ask your vet which ones are best suited to your pooch.

Be sure to walk your dog every day. Take everyone, you and your family can even benefit from the exercise. If you have a n older dog and a younger dog maybe try taking the younger dog to a dog park for some extra play time while the older dog takes a bit of a break at a slower pace.

Cats are harder to put on a diet because they tend to be more finicky about what they eat, not to mention the fact that they sleep 20 hours a day. Your cat is over weight if you cannot feel his ribs under his coat, or if their belly hangs down instead of being distended. Cats should only lose .5-2 percent of their body fat per week. Anything more aggressive than that can cause health problems for your feline.

Depending on how over weight your cat is your vet can recommend a portion size and food for your cat. If you are trying diet food with your cat and he/she seems unresponsive to it, then remove it and put it back half an hour later. If your cat is still persisting in not eating it, you can add some chicken or beef broth to the food to peak the cat’s interest.

Just keep in mind that your pet’s weight loss struggle is much like your own. It’s not easily won, but with persistence and patience you can achieve it!

How to Fight Doggy Bad Breathe

132317You love your furry friend, but don’t love their bad breathe. How do you go about getting rid of this so you can enjoy those kisses more? The following are tips to help your dog have better smelling breathe and a healthy mouth at the same time.

The best way to fight it is to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. Their bad breathe is caused by bacteria build up on the teeth and gums. If this is the case and it is never rectified your dog’s breathe might the only thing going awry. This bacteria can spread to their lungs and guts causing infections and diseases. This type of bad breathe, or halitosis should be looked at by a vet.

If your dog’s breathe doesn’t nauseate you (which is usually a sign of bacteria build up in your dog’s mouth), but is not a bed roses there are somethings you can do to make it smell better. You should have your dog’s teeth checked 1-2 times a year, and if you notice a sudden stink that wasn’t there before, check his/her mouth for food lodged between the teeth. Brush your dog’s teeth once a day, this will help to eliminate bad breathe, fight tooth decay and gum disease, and stop periodontal disease from occurring.

If you’re feeling like you can handle it, floss your dog’s teeth much like how you would floss your own. We know that flossing is good for our teeth, but not all of us do this everyday. Well your dog’s teeth could use some of that same TLC.

Give your dog safe toys to chew, hard rubber toys, raw hide bones and ropes are excellent chew toys for your dog to help loosen plaque build up, and if you smear some tooth paste on the toys it will also help your dog to become accustomed to the flavor of the paste.

Specialized dental treats also help your dog’s teeth and breathe from becoming intolerable. A chemical that  helps promote healthy teeth and breath is Chlorhexidine. Foods and treats that contain this chemical are safe to eat, the chemical acts as an antiseptic and stops odor causing bacteria from forming in your dog’s mouth.

Diet is another thing to look at. If your dog is eating a lot of meat this will also cause bad breathe, Make sure your dog is getting a balanced diet, which should include an intake of vegetables and rice. Your dog’s eating habits can also cause bad breathe. If your dog is eating often throughout the day this can also cause bad breathe because it will feed the bacteria that is forming in your dog’s mouth. Also cleaning and giving your dog fresh water daily can eliminate bacteria growing in his/her water supply.

Heterodont Teeth

hamsterHeterodont teeth are teeth that you typically find in mice, rabbits, and other animals that eat grain as their main source of nourishment. The heterodontal teeth are the four teeth in the front, the two incisors on top and the two incisors on the bottom.

These types of teeth are always growing, which is why these animals are partial to gnawing. In order to stop the teeth from outgrowing the mouth, these animals need to chew and gnaw on wood or toys that are made specially to help them to wear down the incisors.

An animal whose heterodontal teeth are too big for their mouth will have trouble eating, and this can spell health problems and possibly death if it isn’t rectified.

When you are purchasing a pet always talk with the pet store worker or vet about the specific needs of the animal you are purchasing. When you are prepared to look after the animal it will make your life easier knowing what is expected of you as a pet owner and make life more enjoyable for your furry friend.

When buying toys and food from the pet store make sure there isn’t any additives to the food that your pet doesn’t need, these can make them sick and unhealthy. The best things for your pet are found in nature. If you can’t find the food or toys in the outdoors around your house, see if you can find a pet store that carries them.

Helping your little critter wear down his heterodontal teeth should be an easy task, do research on the internet and talk to your vet for advice and your pet will live a long and happy life.

Dog Tooth Extraction

Teeth cleaningThis is a procedure that is only done when there is a specific need for it. Unfortunately you might not even know that your dog is suffering. Sure signs that your dog is having difficulty with its teeth are changes to their eating habits or loss of appetite, unusual night awakenings, rubbing the face against things or facial swelling. If you notice these signs in your dog take him/her right away to your vet. Dogs can start having problems with their teeth as young as four years old.

Not all vets are trained to deal with dental problems, you’ll want to make sure that you get a consultation with your vet about the type of procedure your dog will go through and the after care that you’ll need to provide.

A tooth extraction is not simply just the pulling of a tooth, it can involve infection, abscess, cracked tooth, or periodontal disease. Some of these are simple procedure that can be followed by a short healing period or a longer one depending on the type of complications that arise form the extraction.

In some cases all the teeth must be removed, this is more common than you would think. If your dog need to have its teeth extracted always get the specifics of the procedure, and if your vet isn’t able to extract the teeth or tooth be sure to get a referral to a vet who is capable and has experience.

As long as you know the signs of a dog who is suffering from dental pain you will get help sooner when the problem may not be too severe, if you don’t recognize the signs, then the pooch may not only be in severe pain, but have more complications when the extraction takes place.

Gingivitis in Cats and Dogs

Teeth cleaningFebruary has been selected as National Pet Dental Health Month. Every Friday we will look at a different oral condition and explain what it is and how it can be prevented.

This week’s issue is gingivitis. Animal’s rarely get cavities because pet food is usually sugar free (as in contains no sugar or sweeteners) or lower in sugars than human food. However, animals are as susceptible to periodontal disease as humans are. These diseases are caused by plaque build up on the teeth and gums.

Gingivitis is the first step in periodontal diseases. This is caused by a build up of tartar which irritates the gums and causes swelling of the gums and bleeding gums. These are the first signs of gingivitis. Your dog may display other signs of gingivitis such as red gums, trouble eating, and bad breathe that smells sulfuric (like rotten eggs).

If you catch the gingivitis at this stage you can prevent serious health issues. You can do this by taking your cat and dog for teeth cleaning and learning how to brush your pet’s teeth yourself. (See our blog which teaches you how to clean your dog’s teeth.)

If you don’t take your pet for teeth cleaning the gingivitis can lead to serious periodontal disease which can result in bone loss and tooth decay. The tooth root may also rot and cause the teeth to fall out. An infection may even take place that can spread throughout the body and cause further problems and even premature death.

Al this can be avoided with regular dental care and cleaning. Vet’s recommend getting into a teeth cleaning regiment at home to prevent tooth and gum problems. Read our blog on how to brush your dog’s teeth here.

Dental Health

Dog Dressed HalloweenHere are some tips to your dog’s dental health. These will help you to identify problems and possibly treat them.

Dogs
The breath of a dog may never smell like lilies, but if your dog’s breathe is likely to melt butter you should probably take the pooch to your vet, especially if this bad breathe is accompanied by loss of appetite, vomiting, and excessive drinking or urinating.

Once a week you should get face to face with your dog so their lips can be lifted to reveal the teeth and gums. The gums should be pink; white, red, or swollen gums are not good. you should take your pet to see a vet. The teeth should be clean and not have any brownish tartar.

In order to avoid plaque build up, tartar, and gingivitis you should take your pet for regular teeth cleaning. Without regular cleaning your dog’s gums may start to recede or even loose his teeth.

The good news is you can clean your dog’s teeth at home with a canine teeth-brushing kit. You can ask your vet to recommend a tooth brush and tooth paste for your dog. The brush should be made especially for dogs. Or you can use a fresh piece of gauze and wrap it around your finger to brush the teeth.

Never use human tooth paste or fluoride when cleaning your dog’s teeth. You can make tooth paste using baking soda and water or use what your vet recommends.

You should accustom your dog to having its teeth brushed. Massage your dog’s lips for 30-60 seconds twice a day for a few weeks. Then you can move to touching the teeth and gums. Once your dog is comfortable being touched this way you can rub the tooth paste or baking soda mixture on his lips so he can get used to the taste. Then the next step is to introduce the tooth brush.

Clean your dog’s teeth in small circular motions at a 45 degree angle. Work in your dog’s mouth one area at a time and lifting the lips as needed. The teeth that touch the side of the cheek usually have the most tartar. If your dog resists being brushed don’t fight with them. Let them go and try again another time.

If you can build up to brushing your dog’s teeth 2-3 times a week you can give your dog the gift of dental health.

The oral diseases you should look for are: periodontal disease, gingivitis, halitosis, swollen gums, proliferating gum disease, mouth tumors, salivary cysts, and canine distemper teeth.

Chewing on toys can help eliminate tooth decay as well. Ask your vet to recommend some toys with dental benefits for you pooch, and take good care of your dog’s teeth!

Small Breed Dogs

CVH 13Not all dogs are created equal and the small breed dogs are no exception. Small breed dogs, or Toy Breeds are the miniature version of their larger counterparts. This has been achieved through years of selective breeding. Diminutive dogs make great loving companions, the European royalty also kept these lap dogs for companions. Small breed dogs make excellent pets for smaller spaces like apartments and condos. These breeds make excellent first time pets for inexperienced dog owners, but their fragility means that families with small children have to be careful with interactions between the dog and children.

Some toy breeds are noisy, but all of them love attention from their owners and strangers. These small dogs are loyal, intelligent and can learn to do tricks, which makes them great competitors in obedience competitions. But before you go and pick out the cutest pup from a breeder, here are tips on how to choose a small breed dog that is right for you.

First consider the size of dog you want, even some small breeds are close to being a medium sized dog. Generally the main difference is in the weight. Smaller dogs are easier to pick up and carry around, but that can have problems of its own. When training your dog you have to remember to let your dog do things on his own. For example don’t carry him to his litter, let him walk there. If you constantly carry him/her around they will not know what to do when you aren’t around and make messes on the floor.

ChihuahuaOn the other hand these dogs are intelligent and learn really fast making the training time shorter than a slower learning breed dog who will require more patients and time. So if you want an easily trained dog you will need to do your homework into which breed is more easily trained.

Most small breeds don’t require a lot of maintenance, small dogs tend to shed less, which makes them more allergy friendly, but they will still cause allergic reactions because of their dander and saliva. But some small breeds shed more than others and then there are the sheds a lot more than others. Again research into the type of dog you want will eliminate any stress about allergies or unwanted shedding.

As mentioned above you will want to be careful with your toy dog around children, excessive ear pulling, teasing, smothering and generally unwanted behavior can result in nips, barking and biting. So always supervise the interactions between your dog and children. Otherwise your dog will love the children and visa versa.

Lap dogs also make great guard dogs. They’re very protective of their home and will bark when strangers come to the door. Some breeds are better at guard duty than others though, another consideration if you live in an apartment or condo.

We hope these tips were helpful, but the deDaschundion and research are still left to do to decide which breed is right for you.

 

Environmentally Friendly Flea Control

fleaPrepare to feel itchy as we dig into the world of fleas. Fleas are wingless insects that live off the blood of mammals and birds. They grow to be 1-4mm in size and have a brown or reddish brown color. Although these insect do not have wings they can jump great distances, 20cm vertically and 41cm horizontally.

Fleas have a four stage life cycle; egg, larva, pupa, and adult flea. A single female flea can lay as many as 60 eggs a day, and the average lifespan of a flea is 90 days. That adds up quickly if even a small number are introduced into your home. And you will know if your pet has fleas because you will see them scratching and biting areas where the fleas are irritating their skin. Sometimes flea bites can result in hair loss as the animal repeatedly scratches the same area, or even in sores if the animal aggravates a bite by over scratching and biting.

Fleas will bite humans as well and their saliva can cause skin irritations that are a small, hard, red itchy spot that will be slightly raised and swollen with a single puncture point at the center. Flea bites often appear in clusters or lines, and can remain itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks.

Many people try to control this pest by calling an exterminator, but there are more environmentally friendly ways to deal with fleas. Instead of using poisons and gases to get rid of these parasites you can do a few simple things that will ensure that you are bringing the fight to the fleas.

Take physical control over your indoor environment. Vacuum carpets, drapes, and cushions to ensure that you get the eggs and larva. Carpets not only hide fleas, but it creates a great environment to hide the eggs through their life cycle to adulthood. If you’re experiencing a great amount of fleas you may want to vacuum 2-3 times a day, and steam clean those carpets once they’ve been vacuumed. If you have hard wood floors get at those dust bunnies! Dust like carpet creates the perfect environment to hide fleas and their eggs. If you take your pet into your car you will want to vacuum there as well.

Washing also helps to eliminate these pests because the soap in the water kills them. If you have a doggy bed or a blanket your pet likes to sleep on throw it and all your bedding into the wash ensuring to use hot water. You may even want to throw out the old bedding and hold off replacing it until you get the fleas under control. Fleas will most likely hide in the carpet or bedding waiting for your pets return rather then risk traveling on your pet. The rule is for every flea you find on your pet there are 30 more some where in your house.

Comb your pet with a flea comb and a bucket of hot soapy water. Fleas collect mainly on the tail and neck, so comb through the hair in these places with extra care and attention. When you find a flea wash it off the comb in the soapy water. You can even remove flea feces and dried blood through combing your pet’s hair.

There are oral treatments you can give your pet as well. Giving them natural liver and vitamin B in a flea treat helps to not only eliminate the pests, but make your pet healthier. Always discuss these medications with your vet before giving them to your pet though.

Lastly, there is a natural type of earth that can be effective in controlling the pests as well. Diatomaceous earth is a natural type of earth made from microscopic marine animals. This earth can be sifted into carpets and cushions where your pet likes to sit and the diatomaceous earth will get into the fleas shell and chip away at it and afterward stick to the insect and dry it out and ultimately kill the pest. It’s suggested that you use diatomaceous earth before you vacuum. You can even rub this onto your pet’s skin and it will work the same way on the pest without harming your pet.

If you combine these methods all together, you should see a drastic reduction in household fleas with in the week. To control fleas outside your house you should also spread the diatomaceous earth where ever your pet seems to play or sleep the most. The reason we don’t suggest using pesticides in your home or on your pet is that ultimately these are soaked into the pets skin and yours where the chemicals can enters the blood stream affecting long-term health. Not to mention that fleas are similar to cockroaches in that they adapt to their environment. They become stronger and more immune to the popular commercial flea control chemicals with each generation.

Now that you are armed with knowledge, go out and get rid of those fleas safely for you, your pet and the environment.

Should You Get a Puppy When You’re Expecting a Baby?

132317This is a very difficult question to answer, difficult because it all depends on your level of commitment to the puppy in question. There is no breed of dog that is better with children than another, everything depends on your ability to prepare the puppy for the new baby, and to care for both simultaneously.

Puppies require as much care as a newborn child, if you think that caring for a puppy will prepare you for your forthcoming baby it might, but nothing will prepare you for the work load of caring for puppy and baby. What happens to puppies who are not prepared for babies are hardships that the animal didn’t ask for. Many puppies who cannot be managed after baby comes home from the hospital wind up being rehomed, kenneled, or given to shelters. Many of these situations wind up with an adolescent dog who winds up being put down.

If this would be your first time owning a dog we suggest that you wait until your baby is at least 3-4 years old before purchasing a puppy. When you do decide to get a dog make sure that the breeder is reputable and recommended. After you puppy has had its shots start socializing him/her right away.

If you absolutely want a puppy before the baby comes here are recommended steps to prepare the puppy for the baby. Puppies get used to a schedule and environment, but when the baby comes home all that will change, be sure that you’re slowly introducing your pet to these changes. For example, if you plan on using baby gates to separate the puppy and baby be sure to put them up well in advance of the babies arrival home so the puppy can get used to them. Also make sure you have help taking the puppy for its walks. If you’re unable to walk the dog it will get left outside and become unsocialized which is bad for him/her and your family.

Early gradual changes in your schedule around the house will help prepare the puppy for the changes the baby will bring with it. Let the puppy investigate the nursery before the baby comes home, send home blankets from the hospital for the puppy to sniff and so he/she can get used to the scent of the new baby. It is very important for the puppy to understand and obey the basic instructions like stay and down before the baby comes home. If the puppy shows signs of agitation toward your new baby you should speak to your vet immediately.

When you come home from the hospital you should get someone to hold the baby for you so you can give the puppy the proper attention it needs after your absence from the home. Have the puppy on a leash as the excitement of the day will have him/her excited.

Always supervise your puppy and baby when they’re together never leave them alone even if they are both sound asleep. And never set aside separate time for your puppy from your baby. Always positively reinforce your interactions with your puppy in the presence of your baby. Give the puppy praise and treats so the puppy associates the baby with positive socialization.

Puppies vary in how they welcome a new baby, so give it time. If you’re not seeing positive interactions with in a certain amount of time always speak with your vet. Remember a puppy is always learning, without careful intervention and direction your puppy will pick up bad behaviors, such as chewing shoes, stealing food and chasing cars or bikes.

The best time to buy a puppy is during a time of little change or disruption so they can feel stable and welcome in their own home. Before you buy that puppy research different breeds to find out which type best suits your lifestyle, instead of choosing a dog based on appearances. Think about all that your new puppy will need, how much food it will eat, how many times a day you will need to walk the dog and how much time you will need to spend socializing and training your puppy.

Now that you have considered all these factors we hope you make the right decision for you and your family.