National Pain Awareness Month….Pets can feel pain too! How do you know if your pet is in Pain

Kit:  Oh hey Al Catcino!  It’s National Pain Awareness Month for Humans, so I thought we should chat about pain in pets! I figured you might know a thing or two about pain 😉

Al Catcino: Hey Kit, no problem! I sure do know a lot about pain! Being a tom cat, sometimes I get into…shall we say…disagreements with other tom cats….and sometimes I get hurt!  Don’t tell anybody though – I don’t want to mess up my tough guy image.  The thing is, pain in pets can be tough because we can’t talk!  So we can’t tell our owners with words how uncomfortable we are – and being the tough guy that I am, I often hide my pain and act like everything is fine until the pain is really bad!

Kit: I know lots of pet friends who pretend to be fine when they are in pain. Our instincts tell us we should not show our pain to others. If we can’t talk and we hide our pain, how will our owners know something is wrong and that we need to go visit the vet?

Al Catcino: Well Kit, the last time I got into a really bad, um, disagreement… well, let’s just say that I had some pretty bad bruises and a small cut – and you shoulda seen the other guy!  Anyway, after a couple days of pretending that everything was ok, the cut got infected and it hurt so bad that I could not put any weight on my foot. That’s how my owner knew to take me to see my vet, Dr. Murphy.  Dr. Murphy talked a lot to my owner about pain in pets and how to pick up on the little clues. I guess next time I won’t be able to hide it so well! Dr. Murphy fixed my infected cut and I am feeling great now! If you like, I can tell you some of the things she told my owner.

Kit: That would be great Al. It’s important for people to know that pets feel pain too! And because we can’t talk, it’s even more important to be able to notice little things that might mean we are uncomfortable.

Al Catcino: First of all, Dr. Murphy said that the reason we like to hide our pain is because of our instincts like you said. When great-great-great-great granddaddy Caesar lived in the wilds in Sicily, he naturally wanted to protect himself from any bad guys looking to make him their lunch! Those predators look for injured animals as they are easier prey. It was safer for us back then to pretend we were not hurt or in pain. Caesar was really tough and he never let his pain show.

Dr. Murphy also said that it is more difficult to tell if a cat is in pain. One of the most common things a cat does when they are in pain is HIDE.  She was right with this one! Every time I get into a scuff and get hurt, I go right under the bed and stay there!

The American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) came up with 5 clues for owners to help identify discomfort or pain in pets. Dr. Murphy gave them to my owner, I’ll list them below!
“Abnormal chewing habits: Abnormal chewing can be a sign of pain in the mouth. This could be due to dental disease or a growth in the mouth. Other signs include face rubbing or smelly breath. Regular dental checkups at your vet are very important to catch dental concerns early and prevent unnecessary dental pain.
Drastic weight gain or loss: Pain can influence a pet’s weight and eating habits. Animals carrying excess weight are at increased risk for joint or ligament pain. Pets with arthritis or sore muscles may not eat as well if it is uncomfortable to bend down to the food dish or go up or down stairs where the food bowl might be located. Arthritis pain can be very subtle – you might notice weight gain because the pet is less active. If pain is really bad, it often can lead to a lack of appetite in cats and dogs.
Avoiding affection or handling: A normally active pet may spend more time sleeping or laying around if it is painful. A pet may not like being petted if there is an area that is sore.
Decreased movement and exercise: Pets may be reluctant to go up the stairs, jump into the car or up onto the bed if they have sore muscles or joints. You might even notice limping if a limb is painful. Back pain can often cause dogs to walk very stiffly and cry out loud when they jump up or are picked up.
Accidents in the house: Sometimes accidents in the house can be seen as a behavioural issue when they are actually secondary to pain. A cat with arthritis pain may not want to go downstairs to a litter box or climb over the high sides to get into it, and therefore may do their business on the floor somewhere else in the house. Urinary tract infections or tummy troubles can also cause pets to have accidents in the house. The pet may be very painful in its abdomen if there is a bladder infection or if they are experiencing a sore tummy. Unwanted surprises in the house should prompt an owner to take their pet to see the veterinarian to make sure there are no health concerns.
Being aware of a pet’s habits can be helpful too, any changes may be a sign that something is wrong or that the pet is uncomfortable.
 Kit: That is very helpful information Al, thank you! It sounds like it can be really hard to tell if a pet is in pain. Is there anything else owners should look out for?

Al Catcino: Well Kit, we’ve talked quite a bit about cats, I suppose we should talk about those other pets… dogs!  Here is a list of other signs that dogs may be in pain.
“Most dogs that are experiencing pain will show a vocal cue such as whimpering or crying out. They also might be significantly agitated and not able to get settled. Sometimes they become extremely sensitive and things that normally would not hurt them, such as picking them up, may cause them to cry out.
Long term pain in dogs can cause signs of depression, reduction in appetite, changes in attitude such as nipping or growling, and trembling.
Dogs that are hurting may…
Appear less active and quieter than normal
Hide or avoid being around people
Have stiff body movements or unwillingness to move, limping
Appear restless and pace around
Show increased panting, shallow breathing, trembling or pupils may be dilated
Stop eating
Be licking or chewing at an area that might be uncomfortable
Seek more attention than usual or follow the owner everywhere
Stand in a hunched position when there is back or abdominal pain

Kit: That’s a great list of signs to watch for! Hey Al, can you tell me a bit about how pain in pets can be treated?

Al Catcino: Sure Kit! When I saw Dr. Murphy last week, she gave me something called a “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug” or NSAID. It helps with pain and can take down swelling too. You can get it in two ways – from a needle or in a pill. There are human forms of NSAIDs but they ARE NOT SAFE for pets!! This is a common problem for veterinarians. Many humans who think that their pet is in pain, give them one of their own pills, like Tylenol or Advil. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the proper enzymes in our liver to break down these drugs and they can be TOXIC!  Sometimes even fatal! Especially with Tylenol in cats!  Stay away from that, Kit!

If owners think their pets are in pain, its best to see the veterinarian. Veterinarians can prescribe SAFE pain medication, some that are made just for pets! Most of them come in yummy flavors too!  Some pets with long term pain, such as arthritis pain, take these NSAIDs on a regular basis. For these pets, it’s important to have their blood checked out every 6-12 months to make sure it’s safe to continue taking this medication long term.

These days, many people are looking for alternative options for pet pain management. Things such as laser therapy, acupuncture, massage and physiotherapy can really help. Dr. Penney at PetFocus Bedford South does those cool treatments.

Kit: I didn’t know that people pain medication like Tylenol or Advil were so toxic for pets! I am sure glad my owner always calls my veterinarian first if she thinks I am sick! I’m glad we talked about this Al, this is important information to know! One more question for you before you go, what happens if a pet is in a lot of pain and their owner cannot get them to the vet clinic?

Al Catcino: That’s a good question Kit! It happened to a good friend of mine once who fell out of a tree! His owner was afraid to move him! They called PetFocus and the veterinarian came out to their house! Did you know PetFocus now offers house calls?

Kit: I didn’t know that! That’s great! Sometimes I get terrified when I am at the vet clinic, even though my vet is really nice. There are a lot of scary smells and sounds there. I think I would be much less scared if my vet came to visit me at home. Thanks for all your helpful information today Al! I hope our blog readers find it useful!

Al Catcino: No problem Kit, now back to guarding my territory!

Kit:  Stay out of trouble, Al Catcino! You don’t want to be visiting your veterinarian over the Christmas Holidays, unless it’s for a treat!

On the road again… Happy Tails on the Trails, Rails and in the Air

“Where are we going?  Is it the last train to Barksville? Are we flying to Meow-mi? I do hope we are going to Paw Springs”, said Liz Claybone, the beautiful Cocker Spaniel, as she and Catrina, the elegant Russian blue cat, were chatting about their summer vacations with their families.  They were very excited that their families are planning to take them along on their trips – they used to always be left home but now, they travel much more.  “Why was it that in the old days, we never got to go anywhere?”, asked Liz.  “Times have changed”, purred Catrina.  “So many more humans want to take their pets with them now – and it is a lot easier than it used to be.  There are a few important things to know though, to help make the trip better for the humans and for us,” she continued.  “I like everything to be purrrrr-fect”.

Here are some of her tips:

Where are you going? – “Lots of hotels, beaches and parks like us – and we can go there any time and we might even be allowed to run around without a leash.”  Liz Claybone added that she had been to a few places where leashes were required – and even some where pets were not allowed at all!  Seriously!  She was quite miffed about that but said that she was so glad that her humans checked first so there were no surprises – it would have been awful to go to a park and then not be allowed in!  That is when some humans forget about what happens when pets are left in cars… it can get much too hot.  That’s another whole story…

Catrina, who has travelled across Russia and to many other countries, said that it is also important for humans to check on customs or immigration rules.  That means knowing about the rules when you cross a border into another country.  Not every country has the same rules about pets as Canada and so humans need to know these rules.  Catrina was stuck in quarantine once because her humans didn’t have all the paperwork they needed – “Quarantine means you have to stay with the government people for awhile until they are sure you are not sick – it was just awful… I missed my family – it was worse than being stuck in Siberia” she said!  Fortunately, her humans learned about checking with the consulates of other countries she has visited.  They knew about the vaccines she needed – and had all the paperwork ready.  They also learned about parasites, those awful little bugs, which are different in other countries.  Liz said that on one of her family’s drives to Paw Springs in California, her dog food was taken at the border because her humans didn’t have the label from the bag to show the ingredients and country of origin.  Very important!  “They forgot that paperwork but they did have my rabies certificate”, she said.  “Fortunately, they remembered to take me to the vet to get that before we left or who knows what might have happened!?”

Bring your ID – Always keep an identification tag with up to date contact information on your pet’s collar and consider microchipping them in case they lose their collar.   Liz and Catrina said they both have microchips – “I was surprised”, said Liz – “it didn’t hurt a bit!  I saw the veterinarian coming with that needle and was worried but it was fine.  And my owner’s information is on a computer database and so if I get lost anywhere, a veterinarian can wave a magic wand over me and find out everything.  It is great!”  If you’re heading far from home, it’s a good idea to also attach a temporary tag with your cell phone number and address of your destination. It wouldn’t hurt to keep a photo handy.

Secure them for the ride – Airlines, trains and ships have rules about shipping crates for cargo or “in cabin” carriers. Liz said that it is so important to check their policies and make reservations early.  Once, she said, we got the airport, and my crate was not suitable.  We had to get a new one right away.  Another time, the airline said that only one animal could be in the compartment at a time – “fortunately,” said Liz, “it was me!” 

Catrina said that she heard about a dog who was hurt in a car accident from flying through the air from the back seat – he hit the dash and he hurt a human too!  “How awful”, said Liz.  “I have a sparkly harness that has a slot for the seatbelt to go through,” she said.  “And in some vehicles, I take my carrier and nap in there – totally safe for me and my humans.” 

Keep them comfortable –Try to arrange as direct and short a journey as possible. The danger of flying is mostly the time spent on the ground while we wait to be loaded or unexpected delays. It can get really hot or really cold during these times. Most airlines will post recommendations for food and water. Liz said that her owners always freeze some water in her dish overnight so it won’t spill during loading and it melts when she needs it.

Stress and anxiety; to medicate or not to medicate? – Liz said she does not like to have any medication before flying – it makes her groggy and a bit uncoordinated and she hates that.  It also made it hard for her to breathe properly.  She says that it is always best to avoid sedating your pet for travel. 

Catrina said that her owners have discovered Feliway and she loves it!  It is a calming pheromone (that is, a smell that she notices) and she loves having it sprayed in her carrier before she travels – even in the car to go to the vet.  She also has a Thundershirt for anxiety.  She told Liz that these tight shirts make you feel like you are being gently hugged and it feels so good!  She said her humans got one for her at PetFocus and they have them for dogs too!

Consider leaving us behind – Even though pets love to be with their humans, sometimes it may be best for your pet to be left with a trusted friend, relative or boarding kennel. “Oh, so true,” said Catrina.  “Sometimes I’d rather just stay in one place and look out the window.   The cat condos at PetFocus are so great… I love staying there,” she said. 

Happy trails!!!

Additional information: Travel products www.aspca.org/shop; Canadian Food Inspection Agency www.inspection.gc.ca; www.thundershirt.com; www.feliway.com; www.dogappeasingpheromone.com

BARKS AND RECREATION – DO’S AND DON’TS FOR ENJOYING NATURE

“Wanna go to the park?”  Tommy Holedigger was trembling with excitement when he heard that question – “I can’t believe it!  It’s “Parks and Recreation Month” again – or as I like to call it, “Barks and Recreation Month” – my favourite month of the year!  This is the month that all pet owners are reminded to take us out to play outdoors with them.  Hurrah!  Let’s go… c’mon…now!” 

Tommy is a very busy Border Collie and he likes nothing more than to get to an off-leash park and run, run, run… and then when that is done, to run some more!  Of course, he does have a few “issues” and has been known to get into a bit of trouble sometimes as he is not always polite with others – and he does not always come right back when called.  His buddy, Indiana Bones, a busy beagle pup, has learned a few things at his Socialization classes and decided to share with Tommy. 

Indiana was excited too but he knew that he had to follow a few rules.  His tail was wagging as fast as it could go and he ran around in circles as he reminded Tommy of a few things… 

Tommy, get a grip.  I just came from my obedience class and Dr. Callen was there and she said we have to remember a few things – here is what I learned:

  1. Leash: What park are you going to?  Do you need your leash or not? Check first or you might get in trouble with “the law”.  Remember, Tommy – we are not allowed to run loose anywhere except in special “off-leash parks”.  As much as we like to take off and run, we have to be “under control” all the time… I hate that too, but it is for our safety.  We are well behaved (most of the time) but there are other dogs or safety issues that we might not know about and so we need to be on our leash to be safe.  My owner is really good about that and says that she wants to be a “responsible pet owner”.  Hurrah for her!
  2. Aggressive dogs: Have you ever been to the park with that big mutt, Bony Soprano?  That guy is mean – he pretends to be friendly and then “Wham!”, he lunges.  We have to be careful about guys like him, and his cousins – those guys just should not go to off leash parks at all.  Don’t their owners know that?  It’s because of thugs like them that being on a leash is good as it makes it easier to break up fights. 
  3. Training: I am so glad I have been going to obedience classes.  It is sooo hard to come back when I am called when I am off exploring or chasing squirrels but now I know how to do it – every time.  My humans will let me go off leash now.  Tommy, if you would learn to do that, you might get to go free more often!  Even busy Border Collies like you can learn to do that.
  4. Licenses:  I just got a new tag – and it looks pretty sharp!  My human said I need it on my collar so that the City knows about me and can help if I get lost.  Pretty cool, eh?  Make sure you get your license renewed too. 
  5. Microchip: Hey, Tommy… do you have one of those cool microchips?  I do, and it kind of makes me feel like a space dog.  I went to see my vet at PetFocus and she put this little thing, about the size of a rice grain, under my skin.  It didn’t hurt a bit.  It’s very high tech – if I ever got lost, a vet could wave this magic wand over my back and the information about my owners would pop up.  How awesome is that?  I think all the guys should get one.
  6. Poop:  Well, we know all about that, right?  When you gotta go… anyway, our owners have to remember to “scoop the poop.”  I hope they know that this is the law too… back to that responsible pet owner thing again.  I love sniffing poop but apparently there can be dangerous stuff in it – like buggy things and diseases.  Ick.  As much as I love checking it out, I wouldn’t want to carry bad stuff back to my owner’s house.   My owner is really careful about that – she just took a sample of my poop to PetFocus to be tested – she said we will do that every year.  She’s the best.
  7. Parasites: I hate ticks and fleas!  Those things make me itchy and give me a rash.  Fortunately, I get some stuff every month to keep those pests away from me…  The problem is, not all the guys get that stuff and so some of the dogs I like to play with at the park are carrying around pests, and they are in the grass too.  Make sure your owner is giving you the monthly dose of treatment.  My owner also checks me over (I love that part – it’s like a free massage!) for ticks every time we come in – and we don’t go back to the places where I find ticks.
  8. Vaccines:  I was at PetFocus last week – my owner took me in because we are going camping and she was afraid we might run into some deer or raccoons.  You know I just can’t help sniffing around where those guys have peed!  Anyway, it seems I needed some vaccine to help protect me from some of the awful stuff those wild beasts might carry.  Tommy, you should check that out too as I know you like to drink from puddles and ditches – you don’t know who peed there, buddy!  Get vaccinated to protect yourself and your humans. 

So anyway, Tommy, I am ready to roam.  Let’s go celebrate “Barks and Recreation” month and enjoy the great outdoors.  Be safe and responsible. 

Additional information:

CPRA ACPL – Parks and Recreation Month www.cpra.ca

HRM Off Leash Parks Strategy – http://www.halifax.ca/realpropertyplanning/olps/index.html

By-Law A-300 Respecting Animals & Responsible Pet Ownership – http://www.halifax.ca/legislation/bylaws/hrm/index.html

Getting Too Hot Under the (Dog) Collar

“Whew! Dahling – it’s like an oven in this car!  I can’t possibly wait for you here.”  Zsa Zsa Dogbor was indignant that her owner would even think about leaving her in the car while she went in for her hair appointment.  Summer is here and some owners forget that their pets need to stay cool!  Zsa Zsa was chatting later with her friend, Schnitzel, about this and he agreed that it is a scary time of year for dogs, especially.  “Ja, dis is da wurst time for dogs.  Sometimes, I feel like a ‘hot dog’ bratwurst in da bun”, said the little dachshund.  “Every year, dey hear da warnings, and every year, some dog owners let their pets suffer in the heat.  Why, why, why do dey do dat?” 

“Oh Dahling”, Zsa Zsa cooed, “some owners have memories that are shorter than your legs – we have to keep reminding them about the dangers of heat stress for us.  My cousin, Ilsa, almost died from being left in a car while her owner went for lunch.  Can you imagine?  She was stuck there, with no air conditioning, and no idea why she was left there or for how long.  She panicked and that made it even worse.  Here is what I learned from my PetFocus vet after they saved her…. 

“It’s Ok – I’ll only be gone five minutes.”  That’s what Ilsa’s owner said when she left her.  The human was going into Tim’s to pick up a coffee – but, she met a friend and decided to have lunch and forgot about Ilsa.  That happens so often.  Five minutes becomes twenty-five.  Honestly, I don’t know how any human could forget about me for a moment, but it happens!  The scary thing is that Ilsa started to be stressed in only 10 minutes.  Her human left all the windows open a crack and left her some water but it didn’t help.  She still suffered from heat stress. 

“How hot is too hot?”, asked Schnitzel.    

Well, even on a typical summer day at 21OC, temperatures inside a parked car can reach 38OC and on a really hot day of 32OC, they can hit a whopping 60OC!  Oh Dahling, we literally cook at those temperatures.  People don’t realize that inside temperatures can be 10–20OC higher than outdoors within minutes. Of course, Dahling, I don’t sweat!  Actually, no dogs and cats can sweat like humans and most of us have heavy fur coats. I don’t like to talk about it as it is not very ladylike, but we cool down mainly by panting and through sweat glands on our feet. The other problem, which Ilsa had, is that as it got hotter, she panicked which made things even worse.  Poor baby was barking and pacing and no one noticed.  

“Ach, nein!”  said Schnitzel.  “Dat is terrible.”  He wondered… 

How can you tell if a panting animal in a car needs immediate help?”  

Zsa Zsa explained – Oh, it is not at all ladylike – some signs of heat stroke are extreme panting, drooling, deep red or bluish tongue, trouble breathing… Ilsa threw up (how embarrassing), and she was stumbling and weak and her muscles had tremors.  When her owner finally came back, her eyes were glassy and she had a “far away” stare… it was awful, dahling.  The vet said that the next step would have been a seizure, collapse or loss of consciousness.  Even worse, after that, she might have gone into a coma or even died! 

“What if someone had seen her in the car?  What should they have done?”  asked Schnitzel.

This is a difficult question to answer – they could call 911 or the local animal control agency right away.  They should write down the license plate and a description of the car. They could also try to find the owner in nearby buildings – ask stores to page the car owner.  If they think that it is urgent, they could get another person to check too and then do whatever they can to get the poor baby out of the car.  They will need to go to the vet right away.  They should be moved to an air-conditioned car or building and they should be wetted down with “cool” (never cold or icy) water for a few minutes.  Give them some cool water to drink.  

Other things to think about in the heat are that pets can get sunburned too – Zsa Zsa said that she never sits in the sun as she is so concerned about her perfect skin but some dogs are taken places where there is no shade.  Cats, she said, are sometimes better at finding shady places and dogs need that too.  It is also important to make sure that pets don’t have to walk a long way on hot pavement – oh dahling, my poor feet. 

Don’t make excuses. Don’t take pets out for walks or runs during the hottest time of day.  Leave your pets at home if you know you will need to make any stops and NEVER leave them unattended in a parked car.  Paying attention to this may save their life.

Tick Talk! With Kit and Kapoodle

“Hey Kit!  Did you hear about that crazy guy, Tommy Holedigger?  What a character.  You know how Border Collies like to run and play?  Well, that guy just can’t stay out of the woods around his yard and yep… you guessed it… he came home with a bunch of ticks!”

 Kit was intrigued – “you mean sort of like hiccups? “, she purred.

 “No”, Kapoodle replied – “and not like fleas either!  I know, I know, you are too prim and proper to know anything about such things – but let me tell you, these little parasites are no fun.  Even for a fun guy like Tommy.  He was really ‘ticked off.”’  With that, Kapoodle rolled on the floor, laughing at his own joke.

Kit ignored his attempt at humour – but she was really curious now – “do tell”, she said – even though just the word “parasite” made her itchy.

 Kapoodle loves telling stories so he launched into it…

 “Tommy Holedigger had a bunch of ticks on him – his owner, who does a great job of checking him over after they have been out in the woods or for their long hikes in the grassy areas, found some ticks on him.  Did you know that a tick, which is about the size of a sesame seed, can get to be about the size of a lima bean when it has been acting like a little doggy vampire?  Ewww.  True fact – they swell up as they feed.  I have a picture I can show you.  Anyway, Tommy’s human checked online to see what to do – he saw all these crazy ideas like putting a lit cigarette on the tick!  Can you imagine?!?  Yikes – Tommy was pretty glad they didn’t try that.  Then they read about people putting finger nail polish on the tick…”

 Kit perked up at that – “oooo like going to the spa…I love the spa”, she purred. 

 “No no, you spoiled kitty – not like going to the spa!  Some people think they can get ticks out if they put polish on them – duh, not!  Anyway, the human kept researching and realized he would probably make things worse if he tried to pull the ticks off himself, and that the best thing was to visit PetFocus.”

 Kit asked why it wasn’t a good idea to just pull the ticks right off quickly.

 Kappodle, so proud of his new found knowledge, said that he heard Dr. Woodbury on CTV talking about this and that Dr. Woodbury said that if you pull them off and don’t get everything, the bacteria can cause even more problems.

 He continued with the story… “so, they went to PetFocus and got the ticks off with a little tick twister gizmo and they did a simple blood test on Tommy.  And, poor Tommy – the test showed that those deer ticks were carrying Lyme disease and he had contracted the organism carrying it!  Tommy had to take medication right away and now he is fine.”

 OMG, said Kit.  “Did he turn green?”

 Kapoodle shook his head… “Cats”, he said.  ‘Not that kind of Lyme – this Lyme is named after a place in the US where the disease was first discovered.  Fortunately, the disease is easily handled in dogs but it is much worse for people.  They can’t catch it from dogs or from each other – only from a tick – Tommy was pretty relieved to hear that as he loves to cuddle – when he can sit still long enough.  However, his human had some ticks too and they are being tested as well.  And his human was reminded about how important it is for Tommy to have annual checkups and vaccines too – I am so glad my human takes me to PetFocus every year for an exam and vaccine against a whole bunch of parasites. It would really ‘bug me’ to have ticks”, he said, rolling on the floor and giggling again.

 Kit was nervous now as she loves her humans so much and didn’t want anyone to be sick.  She wanted to know more – :”Why don’t I know about Lyme Disease?  Why didn’t we hear about it years ago?”

 Now Kapoodle could really show off his new knowledge.  Here is why, he said:

  • Deer ticks live on… guess where?  I bet even a cat can answer that one.  (Kit just rolled her eyes at him!)  Yep – on deer.  And there are more deer in Nova Scotia than there used to be and they are living closer to where people live and so there are more ticks being carried around.  Birds can carry the ticks around too.
  • The climate is a little warmer than it used to be and the ticks can live through the winter.
  • The rules about “no pesticides” to help the environment mean that ticks are not killed as much as they used to be.

 Kit was impressed.  She decided to tell all her friends who live with dogs to make sure they get tested right away at PetFocus.  She also said that she has new appreciation for dogs – the occurrence of Lyme in dogs is useful to know about so that humans can be protected too!  Well, she cooed – “Finally, a good reason for dogs to be around!”

To learn more about Ticks and Lyme Disease – see:

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Safe-use-of-flea-and-tick-preventive-products.aspx

Pictures below:

1. A Tick

2. A tick that is attached to a dog

3. A tick on a person

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Family… see, family is da most important thing. Check out the shelters and rescues.

Hi! This is Al Catcino here… and I gotta deal you can’t refuse, see?  Family… you can’t ever forget how important family is and even though I’ve met some pretty tough cats (and dogs), I think they all need family and deserve respect.  You listenin’ to me?  Well, here’s the thing, see.  Dogs and cats deserve a real, forever family, see.   And the really sad thing is, not everyone has one and so even a tough cat like me likes to go to shelters and rescue groups to add to my family.  I’ve uh, lost a few family members from time to time, see, so I know how to find great new ones.  And, my father always said, a cat who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real cat – ya read me?

  So, here are some things to ponder before you add to your family, ok? 

  1. When making the decision to adopt make sure that the entire family is on the same page with how you are going to train your new friend, as well as what and how often you are going to feed them.  The family has got to be on side, see?  Just like my family in Sicily, everybody’s got to be on the same page!  All animals need some sort of structure to feel comfortable, but rescue animals tend to need a little bit more structure, especially at first as they are getting use to a new home, and their new family.
  2. Don’t jump the gun… you know what I mean?  Take your time.  When looking into adopting a new pet make sure you go and meet a few different animals, or some rescues have a website on which you can view their current adoptables before you go in to meet them.
  3. Patience.  My father always said, wait for the right moment.  Often times you are unable to adopt your new friend right away.  That’s ok.  It’ll be worth the wait.
  4. Do your research – check ‘im out first.  When you go to meet your new potential friend, watch for symptoms of behavioural issues, and always ask about medical history. Now if you notice they have a behavioural problem, always take them out of the shelter to a more open and grassy area where they may feel more comfortable, as well let them come to you versus you approaching them. These things can make a huge difference in their personality, sometimes they are just uncomfortable with being in a kennel or feeling like they are backed into a corner. Also behavioural issues don’t mean that they are a bad animal to adopt, just means that they need a special kind of family that understands their specific needs, and understands that it is going to be tough at first, but it can be very rewarding.  Loyalty see, that’s what’s important in a family and you will earn that with your new friend.
  5. Always be prepared – if you are adopting an animal with obvious anxiety issues or behavioural problems, be sure you are prepared to deal with those issues. If you don’t have a Godfather, like me, speak to your PetFocus veterinarian – he or she will give you the scoop.  My family knows the importance of training for every job we do – you may also want to be check out the PetFocus trainers, too.   Destruction – I know a bit about that – and so you should make sure  that your home is prepared for an animal that may chew or destroy items;  provide them with lots of toys which they can utilize instead of your shoe, or couch leg.

 For anyone who is interested in adopting a pet in the HRM you can follow this link and find the rescue that best suits you!  http://www.maritimeanimalrescue.com/contacts.shtml#ns

 Thank you for supporting you local shelters, and thanks for considering adoption as an option for your new friends.   You’ll be glad you did!

Avoid the Winter Blues – Keep your pet active all winter long

Tommy Holedigger here! Cold weather brings some challenges for keeping your furry friends fit and free from cabin fever. Since I am a Border Collie, I know a bit about having lots of energy, so my good buddy, Kapoodle, asked me to “weigh in” on how to keep your pets active during the winter. Remember to have your people check with your PetFocus vet first to ensure any changes to your exercise program have been given the green light!
Many pets can handle outdoor activities if it isn’t too cold. We play with our family, go for walks, and enjoy the winter wonderland along side of our humans.
The problem is, we often don’t know when to quit so we rely on you to tell us when enough is enough or, when it’s just too cold to go outside at all. The general rule is, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for us…and yes, that applies to those of us with lots of fur too!
There’s a lot to consider when taking a pet outside in the winter so I thought you might like this link from the American Animal Hospital Association to help you out a bit:
http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=Winter_Pet_Care
“So Tommy (you ask), what can I do for my pet if it’s too cold to go outside?”
“Ruff ruff ruff” (I say), which means “You’re in luck!” I have some great options to rid your pets of the winter blues on cold, snowy days. Let’s talk indoor play!
First and foremost, always make sure you have removed any “obstacles” that may be harmful to your pet prior to playing with them indoors. Dog tails and fragile trinkets don’t tend to mix…not that I’d know anything about that. [Why do people put ornaments on low coffee tables anyway?]
The first game happens to be my personal favourite – “hide and seek”! You might know that one! Playing “hide and seek” is a good way to get dogs moving. Supplies needed: you, a few other humans, and some good hiding spots. Get a couple of people to hide in different places around your home and let your dog go. We will have to try and find the humans (that’s you) who should then give us a small treat. It’s always good to reward us after we find you so that we know exactly what you want us to do.
Another variation of this would be to hide treats in select places around your home and have your pet search them out; this game is especially rewarding for any dog that is considered a “hunting breed” as they are bred for these specific types of activities! Cats, being natural hunters, enjoy this game as well. I’ve been told that pet food is so yummy that some tiny humans will eat it too, so keep that in mind if you’re playing hide and seek with food! Another outdoor version that some of my friends like involves hiding things in the snow – that can be really fun.
Laser pointers are a great way to get your pet moving. While they are usually considered a toy for cats, lots of dogs actually enjoy playing with laser pointers as well. It’s an excellent toy to use indoors as you have a lot of control over where your pet goes. Make sure there is something other than just light at the end of the tunnel though or we might get a little frustrated. When you shine the laser in the last location, it’s a good idea to have a reward there that your pet can pounce on. A nice “catch” at the end of the chase helps eliminate any feelings of frustration.
Another toy that can be used for cats is a toy on the end of a string. You can get cats to jump and run wherever the toy is moving and it keeps them engaged for a long period of time. My friend Kit asked me to tell you that any toys involving string should not be left for cats to play with unattended. Apparently they like to eat them…even if they’re not coated in bacon. I’ll never understand cats.
What about a good old fashioned stair climber? Have your pets go up and down steps with you. This may take some tempting (and a little bit of exercise on your part as well) but it’s worth it for everybody.
You could also set up obstacle courses in your home. Use things like pillows for pets to jump over, and hula hoops for them to run through – and my favourite part – make sure to always reward your pets with a treat when they do something you want them to.
How about revisiting some of the obedience training you worked on during your pet’s developmental stages. Being housebound presents a great opportunity to teach new skills. More and more people are clicker training their cats now so even your feline friends can get in on the action!
Here are some more suggestions from AAHA that could come in handy for you: http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=Exercising_Your_Pet
Remember that with some planning, you can keep your pets happy and healthy all year round – and you might get a little extra exercise yourself too!