Keeping On Top of Your Dog’s Dental Health Monday 15 January 2018 @ 10:25
Last month, we met Ciarra and Keisha, two gorgeous kitties looking for adoption through Hunter Animal Rescue. The pair are still waiting to find their forever home, but if you think you can provide one you can check out their page on Hunter Animal Rescue’s website. When we first met them, Ciarra had just returned from a visit to the vet and had just received a polish, one tooth extraction and a descale. For this reason, we thought it would be a good idea in our last post to talk about some of the best ways to look after your cat’s dental hygiene.
But of course, your cat isn’t the only pet whose teeth you need to keep in tip-top condition. Between the regular vet checkups, fitness and quality food, we put a lot of effort into making sure our canine companions are healthy. But it can be so, so easy to overlook their dental hygiene. Conditions like periodontal disease can easily occur when the deep bone structures of your dog’s jaw are separated from the teeth by calculus, allowing abscesses and pockets to form.
Experts have suggested that around 85% of dogs over the age of 4 will be living with a type of periodontal disease, which can easily lead to infection and tooth loss. If your dog has damaged gums or toothache, they’ll be living with difficulty and pain that you may not even have noticed. A dog’s teeth are often forgotten about, but they’re a major part of their overall health.
As with oral hygiene issues in cats, bacteria from your dog’s mouth, if left untreated, can reach the bloodstream and cause real issues in their kidneys, liver or heart. Fortunately, all of these issues can be avoided with the help of regular tooth-brushing and visits to your doggie dentist.
Doggie Dental Diseases
When your dog has good gums and teeth, they’ll get to enjoy every last morsel of food they can get their paws on, but with unhealthy teeth, this will quickly come to an end and your pup will no longer be enjoying their food. This can be very bad news. So what should you be looking out for as a concerned puppy parent?
- Plaque develops when the bacteria constantly forming in your dog’s mouth get the chance to mix with food and saliva. This appears as a colourless, sticky film on the outside of the teeth, especially the upper molars and pre-molars. If plaque is allowed to build up, it can harden and turn into calculus. Plaque and calculus can be helped to a certain extent by dry dog foods, but you will also need to provide some dental care to keep everything healthy.
- Calculus forms when plaque is allowed to stay on your dog’s teeth for around 3-5 days and combines with the minerals in their saliva. This is also known as tartar and can be very irritating to a dog’s gums, leading to reddened, swollen gums as a result of gingivitis. Gingivitis can also cause bad breath, which can be rather noticeable.
- Periodontal disease is more likely to become an issue the longer calculus is allowed to build up under your dog’s gum line. This is where your dog can begin to struggle with bloody gums, lose teeth, struggle with food and suffer damage to their internal organs. Bacterial growth is allowed to progress unnoticed, eventually causing irreversible damage. And every last part of this process could be avoided with a good cleaning!
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth will be a little difficult when you do it for the first time, but if you’re gentle and allow your dog time to get comfortable with what’s happening it can be a lot simpler than you may expect. Here’s a quick Step-by-Step to help you become the best doggy hygienist out there!
- Be gentle. Give your dog time to get used to having hands and brushes in their mouth.
- Let your dog do a taste-test. Help them get used to the taste of dog-friendly toothpaste by licking it off your finger or brush.
- Introduce the toothbrush. Allow your dog to get used to the idea of the toothbrush and see that it’s nothing to be afraid of, but help them understand that this is not a toy.
- Start small. Just brush a couple of your dog’s teeth at first so they can get used to the sensation.
- Move from Outside to Inside. Brushing the outer sides of your dog’s teeth is less invasive, so it’s generally a better idea to start here and move to the inner sides.
- Introduce a routine. If you turn brushing your dog’s teeth into a routine, it’ll be easier for them to get used to it and for you to remember to do it regularly. Daily brushing will provide the best results, but even three times a week will make all the difference.
There are also a number of high-quality treats and chews that can contribute to better dental hygiene for your dog. These chews will keep your dog entertained, involve less work for you and will still provide a good clean (though you will still need to brush their teeth occasionally).
Four Tips to Make Brush-Time Easier
- Your dog can sense if you’re stressed or tense and will mimic these emotions, so try to keep calm!
- Don’t go straight for the goal - your dog will need time to adjust to this new experience!
- The earlier you start (anytime after the age of 8 weeks), the better your dog will be at having their teeth brushed.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself: You aren’t going to be able to brush your dog’s teeth for a long time straight away. This is something that will get easier over time.
Keeping On Top of Your Kitty’s Dental Health Saturday 30 December 2017 @ 11:09
In our last post, we met Ciarra and Keisha - two ten-year old female Birman X cats featured through Hunter Animal Rescue. These kitties need to be rehomed together with an adoption fee of $200. It’s not yet known if these friendly felines would be suited to a home with children (or birds), but they do like near-constant human interaction so they’ll be sure to give plenty of love to whoever takes them in.
Ciarra and Keisha haven’t been adopted yet, so if you’d like to meet them there’s still a chance you can - just check out their page on Hunter Animal Rescue’s website! Ciarra has recently returned from a trip to the vet and is in great condition, having only needed a descale, polish and one tooth extraction. She is well on the road to recovery by now, but in honour of our fallen comrade (Ciarra’s tooth) we thought it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about the best ways to care for a cat’s dental hygiene.
How to Spot Dental Issues in Cats
Severe dental diseases in cats can lead to much more serious issues if they aren’t dealt with properly, such as complications with the kidneys and heart. This is why it’s so important that you keep an eye on your cat’s teeth, and that they have access to frequent dental checks (especially for older cats). Before any of this happens, though, your cat will begin to have incredibly bad breath - a sign of advanced dental disease.
Just like our own, a cat’s teeth will slowly gather plaque over time. If this isn’t removed it will irritate the gums by turning into a harder tartar, which can cause tooth loss and gingivitis. If this happens, you may notice your cat beginning to chew on one side of their mouth, lose weight due to difficulty eating or consistently drop food out of their mouth.
The first step in preventing this is to learn how to identify potential warning signs and how to keep the teeth in the best condition possible. Symptoms other than bad breath that are worth noting include yellow-brown tartar, drooling and reddened gums.
However, some cats will refuse to show their discomfort even if they develop severe dental disease. It’s not uncommon for cats to hide their pain if they’re unwell.
If you do notice any problems with your cat’s teeth, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will know what needs to be done, whether that’s using ultra-sonic vibration to de-scale (remove tartar and plaque) or removing any damaged teeth.
Get Your Furry Friends Used to a Cleaning Routine
In many cases adult cats will have a bigger problem with this than younger kitties, so it’s a good idea to get them started at a young age. This actually isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You can make the experience a little more pleasant for your pet by dipping your finger in tuna water first, so they come to associate the action with a pleasant taste.
Keep in mind that older cats may need their teeth cleaned more often than kittens. Try to find toothpaste that’s made specifically for cats, and rub this on their teeth and gums using some gauze or a finger cot. This is the best option. However, if your cat really won’t let you brush their teeth and becomes violent, fearful or agitated with every attempt, there are other options.
It’s possible that your vet will suggest a dental formula food. Certain vets will prescribe a special formula you can add to your cat’s drinking water to aid dental care by discouraging bacteria and breaking down plaque. You’ll just have to make sure your cat doesn’t stop drinking because of the taste of this additive, because dehydration will help nobody!
Some treats will contain ingredients like selenium, antiseptics, taurine and Vitamin E to try and cut down on the amount of bacteria in your cat’s mouth. There are special treats out there that have a rough texture designed to control the buildup of tartar, freshen the cat’s breath and remove plaque. Some companies have also produced dental sprays which can be squirted into your cat’s mouth every day to fight the buildup of plaque.
Foods with larger pieces, or “nuggets”, can be good at reducing plaque by getting your cat to chew more. No matter what method you use to keep your cat’s mouth clean and healthy, make sure you take them for a dental checkup at least once per year.
Examine Your Cat’s Teeth
Routine cleans and keeping a general eye out for signs of bigger problems are one thing, but the best way to make sure your furry friend has healthy teeth is to actively check them. If you have a cat who shows affection by pushing you with their head, this can make things a whole lot easier as moving their head with your hands won’t be so foreign to them.
Be sure to keep your cat as relaxed as possible when you’re doing this, so that they’re more likely to allow you to do your thing.
That said, you should never just stick your finger in your pet’s mouth without making sure they’re okay with it first! Having a close bond with your cat won’t save you when they accidentally/instinctively close their mouth with your hand inside.
One way of examining your cat’s mouth is to gently lift the flaps of their gums (while they’re sitting calmly and comfortably) and gently examine the teeth you can see this way. Examine one side fully before checking the other, so that you aren’t poking your cat too many times. Things to look out for include unexpected lumps, sore-looking areas, chipped or broken teeth and discoloured gums.
While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see their entire mouth, you should still be able to get a good idea of what’s going on.
Pets of the Month: Ciarra, Keisha and Birman Cats. Thursday 14 December 2017 @ 08:18
Over the past couple of months, the main topics we’ve been discussing have been how to go about caring for dogs with food allergies, shy cats and long-haired cats. These topics were selected in honour of three of our sponsored pets - Jordy, Misty and Russia.
These were three gorgeous pets which we were given the wonderful opportunity to sponsor through Hunter Animal Rescue, a great charity which aims to rescue abandoned pets from euthanasia and place them in their forever homes. We think that the best aspect of this non-profit is that while they’re waiting for their new families, HAR’s rescued pets don’t have to sit in a pound. Instead, they’re sent to foster homes where they get to practice being part of a big, happy family until they’re ready to be rehomed. This means they get all the love and care they need, and are more likely to be looked after properly.
For December, Hunter Animal Rescue’s Pets of the Month are Ciarra and Keisha.
All About Ciarra and Keisha
Ciarra and Keisha are two ten-year-old female Birman X cats, currently in care at PETQuarters Broadmeadow. They need to be rehomed together, and the adoption fee for the pair is $200. It’s not yet known if these friendly felines would be suited to a home with children (or birds), but they do like near-constant human interaction so they’ll be sure to give plenty of love to whoever takes them in.
While it’s not recommended that these two are moved into a home with dogs, we do know that they’re fine with other cats so they may be a good choice if you’re looking for a new furry friend for your cat. A dream home for these sisters would be one where they’re kept indoors and made to feel safe and secure. They’ve already had a busy life, and are ready for a quiet, mature home!
Both cats are fully litter trained, have a fairly low activity level and require an intermediate amount of grooming, so they’re good cats to have around if you like to pamper your pets but don’t always have the energy to run after them! Ciarra and Keisha are a pair of real individuals. A chatty, personable lady, Ciarra loves to munch on her human’s hair, receive gentle pats, brushes and chin scratches, sleep on your pillow and bump you with her head.
While Ciarra is keeping busy, it’s likely Keisha will be fast asleep on your lap. Keisha is the quieter of the pair. She’ll love you just as much as her sister will, she’s just happy to let Ciarra do all the talking. Ciarra has recently come home from a trip to the vet and is in great condition, having only needed a descale, polish and one tooth extraction. She is well on the road to recovery by now, though!
Now that we know she’s in full health, she can safely be moved to a forever home with her sister without risk of bringing germs in to share with your other pets. As with any other rescue pets, Ciarra and Keisha are in need of a new home through no fault of their own. Their former owner is moving overseas, and simply can’t bring them along. The pair were brought along to Hunter Animal
Rescued as bonded sisters, and need to be rehomed together if they’re going to be happy.
What do I need to know about Birman Cats?
Ciarra and Keisha are Birman X cats, meaning a lot of their genetic information and the resulting traits have been passed down from Birmans. This is a breed that’s much loved for its reputation as a calm, mysterious and enchanting cat. They also attract a fair amount of attention with their little white-socked feet and gorgeous blue eyes, so it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular breed.
With their contrasting colours and long, soft coat, they look something like a cross between a Persian and a Siamese. Thanks to their striking features and thick coat, they can often seem much larger than they really are, appearing as massive felines when they’re really only a medium-sized cat breed. That said, we don’t actually know for sure how the Birman breed came to exist.
Where did the Birman Cat originate?
All we know is that they seem to have appeared relatively recently in Europe, most likely originating from France. The result is a playful, loving breed that can play happily with children and adults alike. Certain stories suggest that a pair of these cats were brought back from a Temple in Burma by some travellers, which is why they’re known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma”.
As we’ve already said, we can’t be entirely sure about the exact history of the Birman breed. It’s said that the earliest Birmans were a cross between a longhaired cat, most likely an Angora or Persian, and a Siamese with white paws. The Birman breed almost died out entirely during World War II, but was revived when breeders thought to breed their Birmans with Persian cats.
General Description of the Birman Cat Breed
Birman Cats will generally have a slightly cobby and somewhat heavy appearance and muscular, powerful legs. Cats of this breed have wide, large heads that are marginally longer than they are wide. Their nose is roman and intermediate length, and they’ll generally have a firm, striking chin. Birman cats can be most easily identified by their faces along with their legs, tails and ears, which will be darker than the rest of their body. These areas can be seal point (dark brown), blue, red, tortoiseshell, cream, lilac or chocolate.
They also tend to have sweet little white socks on each of their paws. They are a medium-sized breed. These cats can need a fair amount of grooming as they are a longhaired breed, but it’s well worth it for the silky, gorgeous coats they have as a result. They have next to no undercoat. The head of a Birman Cat is fairly round. Cats of this breed will have slightly slanted ears with rounded tips, and furry tufts on the inside.
The majority of a Birman Cat’s coat will be cream or white-coloured. Their tails won’t allow you to view this coat as plain, though, as they finish off the look with the most luxurious plume of fluff you’ll ever see!
Making Your Own Dog Food Saturday 02 December 2017 @ 00:00
Back in August, we sponsored Jordy. Jordy is an energetic, loving, playful pupper who just loves to be affectionate with his humans. His only special requirement was that he needed a family willing to pay special attention to what he ate, as he had a food allergy. But in return for this extra care, he was ready to give all the love in the world!
Jordy’s allergy is the reason that our last blog post was all about hypoallergenic dog foods. With food allergies becoming an increasingly big deal for people and pets alike, it’s easy to feel a little lost when you find yourself staring at stacks of food, all of which claim to be grain-free or hypoallergenic or any number of other things.
An alternative to investing in some complicated hypoallergenic, organic and grain-free dog food while still keeping your pup healthy would be to make your own dog food. This may sound a little fiddly, but it’s quite possibly the best way of making sure your dog doesn’t eat anything they’re allergic to. There’s a whole community of people out there who have all taken to making their own dog food.
Try looking at some hacks and tips such as those shared on websites like Pinterest, and some recipes like the ones shared on Rover.com. To help you get started, here are a few tips that might be helpful.
The Perks of Making Your Own Dog Food
- As we’ve already mentioned, making your dog’s food yourself can be a great way of keeping them healthy if they have allergies. This is the only way you can personally choose the ingredients that go into their food, and the best way for you to make sure you’re avoiding everything you should be.
- If you’re smart about your sourcing and try to buy in bulk, making your own dog food will be no more expensive than buying it in cans, and can sometimes be even cheaper while still being more nutritious.
- You will be able to save time and effort by preparing large batches of food which you can freeze and use later.
- Picky dogs are often more likely to love the food you’ve prepared for them yourself than processed food from cans.
- Better food often means more compact, tidy stools.
- Many people who make their own dog food find that their dogs tend to be leaner and more muscular as a result.
- A healthier diet often brings with it fresher breath, less doggy odour, clean teeth and good skin.
- Preparing food for your dog will be no more difficult than cooking for your family, but will make a big difference to your pet’s health.
- You will no longer need to worry about dog food brands being recalled, as you know that the food you’re giving your dog is safe to eat.
- Making your dog’s food means you get to choose the standard of ingredients you want to use. You get to choose if you want foods to be free-range, organic or anything else. You get to choose if you want to buy ingredients from a farmer, market, supermarket or wholesaler.
Animal Products and Meat
These should always make up at least 50% of your dog’s meal. Be careful of meat cuts that contain excessive amounts of fat, as these are unhealthy and can cause obesity. Unless your dog gets the chance to have intense exercise on a regular basis, try to remove the skin from any poultry you use, cut off as much fat as possible and use lean meat, ideally with less than 10% fat.
If your dog becomes obese and you have to try and reduce their food to control their weight, this can result in deficiencies in the other nutrients. Remember that unless your dog needs an extremely low-fat diet, dark-meat poultry is better than breast meat. If this is already starting to sound a little tricky, just consider all of the advantages this change can bring.
In time, you’ll be able to come up with your own recipes without any help from us. But until you feel like you’ve got the basics of doggy dining down, here are a few ingredient lists you could try. Please note, all ingredients in these lists should be cooked before use!
Doggy’s Salmon Supper
3 potatoes (any variety)
1 head of broccoli (with the stem)
2 portions of salmon with skin (or 1 ounce per 10 pounds of dog)
|1 pound of beef mince
1.5 cups of rolled oats
Half a cup of cottage cheese
1.5 cups of your dog’s favourite grated vegetables, like carrots, peas or aubergine
Tasty Turkey Stew
|2 pounds of turkey mince
2 tablespoons of raw chicken or turkey liver
2 grated carrots
1 cup of broccoli florets
Half a shredded aubergine
1 cup of cauliflower florets
|OR:||1 cup of brown rice
1 shredded aubergine
Half a cup of peas
3 cups of chopped baby spinach
3 pounds of turkey mince
2 grated carrots
Add Any Necessary Supplements
Just because you’re cooking from scratch, it doesn’t mean your pup’s supplements are off the table. Even if you’re using the best recipes possible, it doesn’t mean your dog will automatically be getting all of the necessary nutrients. Supplements for nutrients such as calcium are the best way of keeping your dog healthy.
The supplements you need to include will depend based on the ingredients you’re using and the nutrients they already contain. For example, a recipe containing spinach and broccoli will contain iron, but might not have enough zinc. For more guidance on this topic, talk to your vet or a pet nutritionist.
The top things to do before you bring your new dog home Saturday 25 November 2017 @ 09:53
Christmas is just around the corner, and for many families, this will mean the introduction of a new bundle of fur joy into your home!
Like bringing home a baby, it can be daunting to know what to do with your new bundle, and unfortunately, if you are not prepared you can find yourself chasing your tail for a long time, and you may not be giving your pet the best chance to calmly assimilate into your family.
Here are our top tips:
Crate – for many this is a godsend when it comes to training. It quickly becomes the place where your puppy can feel safe, and at the same time when you’re not around so you don’t have to worry about the place being trashed!
Bedding – your puppy will need clean and warm bedding from the get-go.
Exercise area – make sure there is space for your puppy to exercise, and remember it needs to be out of the sun. Also if you want to confine your dog to a certain part of the house, you may want to consider baby gates to block doors.
Collar and leash - essential for those long walks and training.
Seat belt – these are now required in many States and can save the life of your dog in the event of an accident.
Training tools - These days, training is all about rewards and not punishment. Most importantly, there is no point punishing a dog for something after the event – it will not have a clue what the punishment is about – you need to catch them in the act! Clickers are used as a prompt for training, but they only work with a reward – generally, food as most dogs are motivated by food.
Boredom busters – dogs are social animals and love it when you play with them. Think about getting some balls, and fetch toys. Also if he is alone a Kong which is like a rubber beehive can be used as a toy or will keep your dog occupied for hours if you stuff it with treats!
Grooming tools – think about stocking up on combs and brushes (get some advice from your groomer or vet), shampoo, conditioner, scissors, nail clippers and toothbrushes. When you groom your puppy early he will get used it and don’t forget to give him a reward so that he looks forward to it in the future.
Pooper scooper – no pet owner should be without a pooper scooper, and/or doggie bags to “do the right thing” when you are out and about.
A vet would be at the top of the list, and one of the first things you would do is sign up for puppy school – these are often promoted and managed through vets. If you are going to be out a lot, you may want to identify a dog walker or daycare. Ask your friends and your vet for recommendations – it’s a very important decision – and don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Pet Insurance – it’s best to get pet insurance sorted whilst your puppy is young – that way you avoid pre-existing conditions being excluded from your policy. For most policies, once covered your pet can be covered for life. But do check the terms and conditions carefully. Here are some things to consider when choosing your pet insurance.
Microchip – this can be a lifesaver, especially when your puppy is young and may have a tendency to go AWOL. If you get your dog from a breeder this is usually done in advance, but if not, your vet can oblige. Make a note of the microchip number and keep it safe. Microchipping is mandatory in most States in Australia.
Lost Pet Finders – don’t forget to register your new furball with Lost Pet Finders. It won’t cost you anything, and in the event your puppy gets lost Lost Pet Finders will activate an army of pet lovers in your area to be on the lookout so you can be reunited with your furball as soon as possible.
Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. Liz is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals