Keeping On Top of Your Kitty’s Dental Health Saturday 30 December 2017 @ 11:09

White and Black Cat With Tongue Out at DaytimeIn 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

Ciarra and KeishaSevere 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.

Woman in Purple Split Neck Cap Sleeve Bodycon Dress Holding Cone of Ice Cream Licked by Black Tan DogGet 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!

JordySome 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.

JordyBe 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.

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Pets of the Month: Ciarra, Keisha and Birman Cats. Thursday 14 December 2017 @ 08:18

JordyOver 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.

Ciarra & KeishaAll 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?

Family petAll 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!

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Making Your Own Dog Food Saturday 02 December 2017 @ 00:00

Woman in Purple Split Neck Cap Sleeve Bodycon Dress Holding Cone of Ice Cream Licked by Black Tan DogBack 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.
  • Family dogIf 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.
  • JordyA 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.

Jordy

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.

Sample Recipes

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

1 squash
3 potatoes (any variety)
2 carrots
1 head of broccoli (with the stem)
2 portions of salmon with skin (or 1 ounce per 10 pounds of dog)

Fancy Mincemeat

1 pound of beef mince
2 eggs
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
OR:   

 

4 carrots
2 tablespoons of butter
1 pound of beef mince
1 tin of corn
2 cups of unsalted beef broth
1 tin of tomatoes

ginger cat

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

 

You can find more dog food recipes on Damn Delicious, Life in Pearls and Sports Bras, Water Earth Wind Fire and All Recipes.

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.

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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.

DogHere 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.

Medical dogSupport crew

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.

Services

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.

Author bio:

Liz Walden

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

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Hypoallergenic Dog Food Monday 13 November 2017 @ 00:00

JordyIn August, our sponsored pet of the month was Jordy, a playful, super-active and loving young pup who loves nothing more than a sloppy kiss and a big old cuddle every once in a while. If you want a chance to meet Jordy, you can look for him through his page on Hunter Animal Rescue’s website, because he’s still searching for his forever home!

Jordy’s one special requirement is that he needs a family who will pay attention to what he’s eating, as he needs to avoid eating anything he could be allergic to. In return for this little bit of extra care, he’ll be more than happy to give you all the love and fun you could possibly want!

Jordy is the reason that our last blog post was all about caring for dogs with food allergies. Around 10% of all dogs suffering from allergies are living with some type of food allergy. However, it’s also possible for dogs to suffer from food intolerances, which are different to food allergies. Food allergies are the cause of around 20% of all scratching and itching in dogs. We also covered hypoallergenic dog food to a certain extent in the last post, but today we’d like to talk about it in more detail so that you have all the information you need on the subject!

What is hypoallergenic dog food?

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. A dog with an allergy doesn’t necessarily need you to splash out on some overpriced “organic” meal, and while some will benefit from grain-free foods others will feel no difference between the two.

Jordy

What your dog will need is an elimination diet. This is why the only actual hypoallergenic dog food is either a diet with hydrolyzed protein or an elimination diet. Ingredients from your previous dog food must be avoided in an elimination diet. This is why, as healthy as grain-free dog food with venison meat may sound, it may be of no use if it’s also full of corn, dairy, beef, chicken, eggs or soy.

Try taking the ingredient label from your old pet food into your local pet store and identifying any foods which don’t have any of the same ingredients. Keep in mind that colouring and flavour additives should also be avoided if possible. The best way to find the right food for your dog is to take them to the vet. Your veterinarian might be able to come up with a diet plan specific to your dog or find you the prescription diet right for your dog.

Most Common Allergens

As a general rule, dog foods will be marketed as hypoallergenic if they’ve been formulated to avoid the more common allergens for your pet. Pet food producers such as Drs. Foster and Smith explain that although dogs aren’t naturally allergic to the majority of these items, some of the most common food allergens for canines include…

  • JordyBeef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Yeast
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Lamb
  • Dairy

These have become the most common allergens as they’re the ingredients used most often in dog foods. As a result, our dogs are exposed to them more often than they would be naturally.

Making Your Own Dog Food

As fiddly as it might sound, making your own dog food from the very basics is easily the best way to make sure your dog doesn’t end up eating things they’re allergic to. Try looking at some healthy dog food recipes such as those shared on Rover.com, and tips and hacks like the ones shared on Pinterest. There’s a great big community out there of other people who have started making their own dog food. Go out and find them, and they’ll be able to help you on your way!

Perks of Switching to Hypoallergenic Dog Food

There are loads of benefits you might find when you make the switch from regular dog food to hypoallergenic and homemade types. At the end of the day, your dog won’t be the only one who gets the benefit of a healthier diet: your wallet might also start looking much healthier. While saving your pup from the unpleasantness of an allergic reaction is the main goal here, it’s not the only benefit you’ll get to experience.

Dog and family

A carefully planned diet of homemade or hypoallergenic dog food could also reduce your dog’s likelihood of suffering from a number of other health issues, including anal gland blockages, periodontal disease, obesity and arthritis. Further problems you could avoid can include difficulties in digestion, some kidney ailments and heart disease.

Dogs are happy, fluffy, eating machines. They love food and need plenty of nutrients to be healthy. It’s not surprising, then, that the vast majority of illnesses that tend to affect our dogs come as a result of their diets. With veterinarian appointments costing as much as they do, improving your dog’s diet and therefore their health will be the best move for both of you in the long run.

Cat

In conclusion…

  • Food that doesn’t contain the same ingredients as most other dog foods is known as hypoallergenic dog food (though the best hypoallergenic food for your dog can be found through an elimination diet).
  • This is not a solution for all allergies. Only around 1 in 10 dog allergies can be treated through the use of hypoallergenic dog foods.
  • If you think your dog may have an allergy, talk to your vet. Seek professional advice before attempting an elimination diet.
  • These foods are a good way to help your dog if they’re suffering from food-related allergies. They are not, however, the only tool available to you.

All dogs deserve to get the best food possible for a content, healthy life.

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