Monday, June 25, 2018

Training Your New Kitten

The difference between dogs and cats is no more obvious then when they are puppies and kittens. Cats aren’t small dogs, so training a kitten is not the same as training a puppy. Training a cat is more challenging for people who are used to training dogs because of the notorious cat independence and their disinterest in the opinion of their owner. But with patience and diligence, you can train your kitten to be happy, healthy and obedient.

The Training Process

It is important to begin training as soon as possible for the purpose of the kitten growing up to learn and respect your boundaries. Kitten obedience will keep your cat’s mind active, teaching them good social skills, while also strengthening their bond with you.

Toys are an essential with a new kitten. If your kitten starts doing something she’s not supposed to, bring their attention back to the toys, providing them to it as a reward for avoiding bad behavior. Your kitten will be kept mentally and physically occupied by having toys to play with regularly.

Your cat can be willing to learn from you, but it can also be willing to ignore you, too. Being that every cat is different, training can be frustrating. The best thing to do is take time out every day to train your cat. Be aware that cats don’t like punishment. They will most likely run away from you, which can lead to stress and cause behavioral and health problems. The proper thing to do is encourage good behavior through rewards and affection. Keep training sessions short because cats have low attention spans and become bored quickly. Focusing on one command at a time, not moving on until the trick is learned, is the best approach.

Addressing Your Cat’s Bad Behavior

There are many possible reasons for your cat’s disobedience. Changes in their home environment, an unaddressed medical condition or the simple misunderstanding on your cat’s part that their behavior is wrong. It is important to remember that your cat is not misbehaving out of spite towards you.

Instead of punishing your cat like you would a dog, redirect their behavior. Doing so will put them back into an obedient state of mind. Unlike a dog, if you actually punish your cat, they may feel threatened by you and rebel or misbehave even more as a result, not to mention the break in the bond you two share. But they should still be made aware of their wrongdoing. One very effective way is through making them associate their bad behavior with something unpleasant. If your cat doesn’t like a certain perfume or cologne you wear, soak a cotton ball in the scent and rub them in places you don’t want your cat to go to. Always praise your cat for good behavior, too. Praise when your cat has done something good lets them know their good behavior comes with rewards.

Common Cat Behavior Problems
  • Furniture Scratching 
  • Urinating (or ‘Spraying’) 
  • Avoiding their litter box 
  • Aggressive behavior towards people or other animals.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Importance of Vaccinations and Their Different Types

Vaccinating your dog or cat is one of the most essential steps in assuring that they will have a healthy life. Like people, animals need vaccines regularly for proper effectiveness. But vaccines can become complicated and can vary from one pet to another. Asking your veterinarian which vaccines are right for your dog or cat (especially if they are a puppy or kitten getting their vaccines for the first time) is the best place to start.

What are Vaccines?

Vaccines are products designed to enable protective immune responses and prepare the immune system for combating future infections from disease-causing agents. They stimulate the immune system’s antibody production and can provide immunity against several diseases. Vaccines can ease the severity, or even prevent, some diseases completely.

Essential Vaccines for Pets

It is important to know that necessary vaccines differ between dogs and cats. While dogs need one kind of vaccine set for diseases that they come into contact with often, cats need another set for the diseases that they come into contact with. Some essential vaccines for a dog or cat (such as a rabies vaccine) are even requiring by law to have.

Essential Vaccines for Dogs:
  • Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHPP) - This all-in-one combination vaccination shot is commonly called the ‘distemper shot’. It protects against the four diseases in its name. 
  • Rabies - The rabies virus is fatal in both pets and humans. The rabies vaccine is required by law in most states.  
Your veterinarian may also recommend additional vaccines for your dog based on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle:
  • Leptospirosis - This bacterial infection is most common in moist climates where there are standing or slow-moving water areas. This is a disease that can also be spread from animals to humans. 
  • Bordetella (‘Kennel Cough’) - A virus that causes an extremely contagious upper respiratory infection and cough. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your dog goes to a dog park, kennel, groomer, or anywhere else where there are other dogs that possibly haven’t had their shots. 
  • Lyme Disease - A bacterial infection carried by ticks. This disease is extremely common in certain parts of the country (both the East and West coasts and the Great Lakes areas, especially). 
  • Canine Influenza - A viral upper respiratory disease that originated in Florida in 2004 and has quickly spread across the United States. Outbreaks happen often in animal shelters and kennels. 
  • Corona Virus - A virus that infects the intestinal tract and is more common in the Southern United States. 
Essential Vaccines for Cats:
  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicvirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) - The feline ‘distemper shot’. This combination vaccine protects against three different diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicvirus and panleukopenia (known as ‘Feline Distemper’). 
  • Rabies - Like dogs, rabies is deadly for cats and a rabies shot is required by law in most of the United States. 
Additional Vaccines for Your Cat:
  • Chlamydia - A bacterial infection that causes severe conjuctivitis. The vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combo vaccine. 
  • Feline Leukemia (Felv) - A viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact and this vaccine is generally only recommended for outdoor cats. 
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - Like feline leukemia, FIV is only transmitted through close contact and is generally only recommended for cats that go outdoors. 
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) - A viral infection most common in feral colonies, it is almost always fatal. Most house cats don’t run a significant risk of contracting this disease. 
When it comes to making sure that your pet receives their vaccines on time (which is essential), be sure to create a schedule to follow from the time your pet receives their latest vaccine to the time suggested by your veterinarian.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Tapeworms

Every pet owner knows a series of different possible hazards to their pet— fleas, ticks, rabies, etc. One of the most well-known and frightening is the tapeworm. Tapeworms are tiny parasites that develop into long, tape-like problems inside your dog’s intestinal system. While they are easily treatable, the average dog owner should educate themselves.

Tapeworms: What They Are and Where They Come From

Tapeworms are flat, white worms that are made up of segments. Each segment is roughly the size of a grain of rice and they are shedded regularly through your dog’s feces as they grow. As they get bigger and longer, tapeworms can begin to resemble their namesake form—tape. Tapeworms attach themselves to the lining walls of your dog’s intestines using their hooked suction mouths. From there they feed and grow inside your dog.

There are different types of tapeworms, but the most common is caused by ingesting an infected flea. Fleas can carry the tapeworm’s larvae and if your dog swallows the flea—either through biting and licking themselves because of a flea infestation or simply due to regular grooming—an adult tapeworm will grow inside your dog’s intestines.

Symptoms

Tapeworms can grown between 4 to 6 inches in length. You will not see the actual adult tapeworm, but its segments that fall off and pass through your dog’s feces. You may also see them crawling around your dog’s hind end or on their bedding, or even in their feces.

The reason why the segments come off is because they die and dry out, becoming hard specks that can stick to the hair on your dog’s backside. Some dogs will scoot (or dragging their behinds across the floor) or lick their hind quarters frequently.

Though it is rare, if tapeworm segments get ingested into your dog’s stomach, they can make it vomit. Weight loss is a common symptom of a heavy tapeworm infection.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian can confirm a diagnosis after either seeing segments on your dog or seeing segments or eggs in your dog’s feces under a microscope. Several fecal samples are sometimes needed, since tapeworms eggs and segments are not passed every time.

Treatment

There are many safe prescription treatments that treat tapeworms inside your dog. Your veterinarian will choose the right one for your dog. They can be given by tablet or as a shot. The medicine dissolves the worms, so they will not pass through your dog when it defecates.

How To Prevent Tapeworms
Because fleas are the main cause of tapeworms, control them in your home, yard and in your pet. Talk to your vet about flea preventatives. Working with your veterinarian on keeping a de-worming plan for your dog is a wise decision. Don’t let your dog wander unsupervised in places where other animals have been, such as dog parks or wooded areas. It is important to clean up after your dog in your yard or in parks.

Though rare, people can develop tapeworms from their pets. You have to swallow an infected flea, of course, and this happens most in children. Be safe and wash your hands after playing with animals or outside.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Dangers of Rabies

Rabies is a severe, often fatal, virus that affects an infected animal’s brain and nervous system. The most common way pets contract rabies is by being bitten by an infected carrier, such as foxes, skunks, raccoons and bats. Infectious viral particles are harbored in the carrier’s salivary glands to better transfer it through their saliva.

Once the virus enters your pet’s body, it replicates itself to the muscle cells and spreads from there to the closest nerve fibers, including peripheral, sensory and motor. From there, it travels to the central nervous system through fluid in the nerves.

The rabies virus can take up to a month to develop to the point of symptoms showing. Once the symptoms do begin to show, the virus rapidly progresses.

The virus can also be spread to humans through infected carriers, as well.

Symptoms

There are two types of rabies: ‘paralytic’ and ‘furious’. The pet will show signs of mild central nervous system abnormalities in the early stages of the virus, lasting one to three days. Most dogs will either escalate to the furious stage or the paralytic stage, or even a combination of the two. Others can die from the infection without displaying any major symptoms.

‘Furious’ Rabies is characterized by extreme changes in behavior, such as over-aggression and attack behaviors. ‘Paralytic’ rabies is characterized by loss of coordination and weakness, followed by paralysis.

Symptoms of rabies include:
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Hydrophobia
  • Inability to swallow
  • Lack of muscular coordination
  • Unusual shyness or aggression
  • Excessive, or ‘frothy, saliva
Rabies Causes and Diagnosis
Rabies is a virus transmitted through the exchange of saliva or blood from an infected animal. Very rarely is it caused by the escaping gasses of decomposing animal carcasses infected by the virus, which can be a concern for hunting dogs.

If you suspect that your dog has rabies, call your veterinarian immediately. If safe to do so, subdue your dog and take it to the veterinarian to be quarantined. If your pet is acting violent or is trying to attack you, you must call animal control to restrain your dog. The only suitable method for confirming suspected rabies infection is by having your veterinarian quarantine your dog for 10 days.

Since rabies can be confused for other aggression-causing conditions, a laboratory blood analysis must be conducted to confirm the virus’ presence.

Treatment

If your dog has had a rabies vaccination, provide proof of it to your veterinarian. Notify anyone who may have come into contact with your dog’s blood or saliva, or were bitten by your dog, immediately so they can seek treatment.

Rabies is always fatal for unvaccinated animals, usually dying from it within 7 to 10 days from when the initial symptoms began.

If your dog does test positive for rabies, you must report the case to your local health department. An unvaccinated dog that is bitten or exposed to a rabid animal must be quarantined for up to six months, or according to state and local regulations. A vaccinated animal that has bitten or scratched a human should be quarantined and monitored for 7 to 10 days.

Management


Disinfect any area the infected animal may have infected (especially with saliva) with a 1:32 bleach dilution of household bleach solution to inactivate the virus quickly. Don’t come into contact with your dog’s saliva. Saliva can enter into your skin through an accidental scratch or wound, leaving you at risk for contracting the virus.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Perils of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is well-known as ‘that disease that comes from ticks’. But what Lyme Disease is, in clinical definition, and the effects it has on a person or animal are not as defined as would be expected. While humans have more of a fighting chance against preventing tick-transmitted Lyme Disease, dogs and cats do not. That is why it is important to check your pet regularly for ticks.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection capable of affecting dogs, cats, humans and other mammals. The primary carrier of Lyme Disease is the deer tick, which usually begins its early stages by feeding on rodents. As it matures, the tick can attach itself to a dog or a human and transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease include:
  • Depression 
  • Lymph node swelling 
  • Appetite loss 
  • Fever 
Lyme Disease can also cause joint pain and swelling and lameness, as well as renal failure.

What To Do If You Think Your Pet Has Lyme Disease

The most advisable thing for you, as a pet owner, to do if you think your pet has Lyme Disease is to take them to the veterinarian for evaluation. Evaluations include a physical exam, blood tests and even radiographs.

How Is Lyme Disease Treated?


Your veterinarian can determine the best treatment plan for your pet. Antibiotics are the most used option. With prompt and proper treatment, your pet’s condition should begin improving within 48 hours.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fleas on Your Pet: What To Look For

It is no doubt that fleas are not only a nuisance, but a danger to both your pet and you. With nearly 2,000 different species and subspecies of fleas, there are plenty to go around. Fleas thrive in warm, humid environments and like to feed on their host’s blood. But fleas don’t need to be a fact of life for pet owners. There are plenty of things that can be done to prevent fleas from infesting your pet or, if your pet is already infested, get rid of them.

Why Pets Are Susceptible to Fleas


Fleas are insect parasites that live solely on the consumption of blood from a mammal, known as a ‘host’. Unlike other insects that have wings to help in searching for a host, fleas rely on jumping from point to point for their meals. They can jump up to 10,000 times in a row, thanks to three pairs of legs that create superior leaping capabilities of up to 2 feet. Their lateral, flattened body allows them to make quick and stealthy movements in pet fur.

Their complete life cycle ranges from 16 days to 21 months, depending on conditions like environment and are most commonly found on a pet’s abdomen, tail base and head; heavy infestations can prompt fleas to thrive anywhere on the body. Fleas like to feed once every day or two, generally remaining on their host during the intermittent period.

What Can Fleas Do To A Pet?

There is a wide variety of issues that fleas can cause your pet. Anemia and significant blood loss over time are two of the most prominent since fleas can consume 15 times their body weight in blood. Things can become especially complicated for young or small pets (such as puppies and kittens), where a low number of blood cells can be life threatening. Pale gums and cold body temperature are both signs of what is called ‘parasitic anemia’

Pets with a heightened sensitivity to flea saliva can have an allergic reaction with just one bite, known as flea allergy dermatitis, which can cause intense and uncomfortable itching in your pet, along with hair loss, reddened skin, and scabs and hotspots which can lead to skin infections.

Signs of flea presence include:
  • ‘Flea Dirt’, or flea droppings, in a pet’s coat, 
  • Flea eggs on the pet or in its environment, 
  • Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin 
  • Hair loss 
  • Hot spots and scabs 
More severe symptoms of flea presence include:
  • Pale gums (from anemia and excessive blood loss) 
  • Tapeworms (transmitted from the flea to the pet if the pet actually ingests the flea through biting or licking their skin.) 
Pets That Are Prone to Fleas
Pets living in warm and humid climates (climates that fleas thrive in, with ideal living temperatures of 65 to 80F), as well as those who live outdoors or are outdoors often are the most susceptible to fleas.

Seasons also influence how much of a presence fleas have in your pet’s environment. Areas experiencing freezing temperatures are at less of a risk for infestation because the cold either kills fleas or forces them to become dormant until warmer times. But if your pet (or you) bring fleas into your house, outside temperature won’t matter and they can spend the winter doing what they would usually be able to do in the warmer months outside.

What To Do If Your Pet Has Fleas

If you think your pet has fleas, talk to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will confirm whether your pet has fleas and will discuss the appropriate treatment options for your pet. Tailoring the flea preventative treatment of your pet, as well as their environment, is important due to certain products used in combination becoming toxic. Your veterinarian can also decide the best approach for preventing future infestations, as well.

Treating and Preventing Fleas


All of your pets, indoor and outdoor, as well as their environment, should be treated for fleas. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing the right treatment product for each pet. Popular options include topical liquids applied to the back of the neck, shampoos and tablets. Some products even kill both adult fleas and their eggs, but can vary in efficacy. It is very important not to use products for one animal that are intended for another and vice versa. When it comes to choosing treatment products, prescribed is more effective and safe than over-the-counter.

If you think your house has been infested by fleas, thoroughly clean everything from rugs to bedding and upholstery (don’t forget to throw away any vacuum bags). Some, more severe, cases might require the use of a spray, requiring temporary evacuation of the home.

In terms of preventing fleas, using a flea comb on your pet and washing their bedding at least once a week will be very effective in controlling any possible flea infestations. While treating your home is important, treating your yard is as well. Focus your attention on shady areas where fleas like to live and use an insecticide.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ticks!

Ticks are ectoparasites (parasites that live on the outside of the body) that feed on the blood of mammals, or ‘hosts’, such as dogs and humans.

Ticks are classified as arachnids, like mites and spiders. Tick species’, such as the brown dog tick and the American dog tick are both common examples of ticks that affect both canines and felines. Ticks such as these require three ‘feedings’ of their host’s blood daily.

Being that tick presence varies according to where you live, what time of the year it is (tick presence varies in warm and cool weather), your pet’s habits and your method and frequency of tick preventative product use.

Ticks attach themselves to your pet by inserting their mouth into your dog’s skin via barbed spikes, followed by the commencement of feeding. Many ticks can also produce a glue-like substance to stay attached.

What Can a Tick Do To My Pet?

Ticks are highly capable of causing many different diseases in your pet. Although rare, ticks can consume enough of a host’s blood to cause anemia. Certain female ticks can cause a rare paralysis in their host from a toxin they produce during feeding. But the disease most familiar to pet owners is Lyme Disease. Another serious disease is Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Lyme Disease can cause arthritis and swelling of joints that can result in lameness. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause fever, lameness and other serious ailments. Along with these, ticks can transmit other serious diseases to your dog or cat. Your veterinarian can answer any questions you may have concerning ticks and the different diseases they can carry.

Preventing Ticks and Knowing Their Routine

It might be surprising to know that it is very difficult to prevent your pet’s exposure to ticks. Whether going on walks, hikes, or other outdoor activities, ticks can always attach themselves to your pet. The best way to prevent ticks is with regular tick control use. Your veterinarian can help you with deciding the best product for your dog or your cat and their current situation. Your veterinarian is also knowledgeable of the specific diseases common in your area that can pose a risk for your pet.

While ticks can be found everywhere, warm climates and certain rural and wooded areas, especially in the Northeast, are places where ticks are more present and can increase your pet’s exposure rate.

How To Know If Your Pet Has Ticks and How To Remove Them

Ticks are visible, so it is a good idea to check your pet regularly. If you happen to find one, be careful when removing it, because any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit their infectious diseases onto your pet, or even you.

Before you start, treat the area where the tick is with rubbing alcohol and remove it with tweezers. Make sure that you have removed the biting head and any other body parts. It may only take a few hours for disease from the tick to be transmitted to your pet, it is preferred that you take your pet to the veterinarian for evaluation through blood tests following the removal of the tick. They will also recommend a tick preventative for the future.