Keeping On Top of Your Kittyâ€™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.
Hypoallergenic Dog Food Monday 13 November 2017 @ 00:00
In 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.
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…
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.
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.
- 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.
Caring for Dogs with Food Allergies Tuesday 31 October 2017 @ 07:54
Back in August, we got the chance to sponsor Jordy, a loving, fun and super-active young Vizla X (Kelpie/Bully) who loves a hug and a big sloppy kiss every now and then. Jordy’s favourite pastimes include running, fetching and taking long walks on the beach, but he’s happy to take part in any sort of game (even frisbee). He isn’t even all that high-maintenance in terms of attention - as much as he loves snuggling with his humans in warm or comfy places, he’s still relaxed and happy enough in his own company.
Jordy’s one special requirement is that he needs a family who will pay attention to what he’s eating because 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!
Somehow, Jordy still hasn’t found his forever home. This is a shame as every dog deserves to find the family that will love them, but it’s also good news for you as it means there’s still a chance for you to get to know Jordy yourself! For more information, head on over to his page on HAR’s website! And for more information on caring for pups with food allergies, continue reading below…
How common are food allergies in dogs?
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.
Food allergy or intolerance?
It’s important that you know the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. Food allergies are a type of true allergy, showing all of the external skin problems and itching found in other feline and canine allergies. Food intolerances, on the other hand, are primarily internal issues which can cause vomiting or diarrhoea, and won’t cause a typical allergic reaction.
Your pet’s food intolerance could be similar to you getting an upset stomach when you eat fried or spicy foods. It’s not going to kill them, but it will make them very uncomfortable. The good news here is that both allergies and food intolerances can be improved if you feed your pet a diet free from the offending foodstuffs.
Try to isolate the problem
If your pet appears to be exhibiting symptoms, the first thing you’ll need to do is work with your vet to check that these symptoms really are as a result of a food allergy. If this appears to be the case, your veterinarian will probably recommend an elimination diet, that is, feeding your dog foods with a different grain (carbohydrate source) and meat (protein source) to what your dog had been eating previously.
What symptoms should I be looking out for?
A lot of symptoms which may seem completely random could actually be signs your dog has a food allergy. Other symptoms of food allergies can closely mimic those that a human will experience. Your dog’s symptoms might include…
- Chronic ear inflammation
- Paw biting
- Obsessive licking
- Chronic diarrhea
- Itchy rear end
- Skin rash
- Poor coat quality
What causes food allergies and intolerances?
It can take months or years of happy munching before your dog becomes allergic to a certain food. However, once the allergy is there, it’s there and he will almost definitely have a strong negative reaction to the food. Allergic reactions in dogs are most often tied to the protein source (meat) in their food.
Food types: The most common causes of food intolerance and allergies in dogs are milk products, wheat and beef.
Age: Food intolerance and allergies can occur at any age.
Breed: There are certain dog breeds which appear to be more prone to developing food intolerance and allergies. These breeds include cocker spaniels, Irish setters and West Highland White terriers.
Damage as a cause: Food allergies and intolerance may occur as a result of damage to the digestive system caused by infection, certain medications, surgery and inflammation.
Does an allergy to a specific dog food suggest there’s something wrong with that product’s quality?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: Allergies occur as a result of your pet’s immune system, as opposed to issues with the product it is consuming. If your dog develops an allergy to a specific ingredient, they’ll most likely experience the same unpleasant reaction to any product containing that ingredient.
What is the best food for dogs with allergies?
Common anti-allergy foods that may be recommended will feature novel protein sources. Combinations might include venison and potato, or kangaroo and oatmeal. With any luck, this should prevent your pet’s immune response from continuing to be triggered.
It’s important that you work with your veterinarian to determine which food is best for your dog with an allergy. Along with novel protein, hydrolyzed diets which are only available by prescription are generally better than those which are bought in your average pet store, as the later will often contain a certain amount of common allergens whether or not they’re mentioned on the label.
Eliminating different ingredients from your dog’s diet at random without talking to your vet first can also be a pretty bad idea. This can easily lead to nutritional imbalances without making the underlying issue any clearer.
For a simple explanation of how you might identify whether or not your dog has a food allergy, check out this great WikiHow article: 3 Ways to Determine if Your Dog Has Food Allergies. We’ve also written a couple of blog posts on pet foods. Check out our posts, Should You Trust Your Pet’s Food Label? and Species-Specific Diets: Fundamentals of Feeding Your Feline for more information.
5 Things You Must Do to Find Your Lost Pet Thursday 28 September 2017 @ 08:38
We hear stories all the time from devastated families who have lost their pet and have no idea how to go about searching for them. To try and help you guys out, we’ve put together a list of five of the most important things you need to do when searching for your missing animal companion.
1. Postpone Any Unnecessary Commitments
Some things - like doctor’s appointments, funerals or graduations - can’t simply be cancelled or postponed whenever necessary. However, some things can. Laundry day, day trips and coffee dates are not as important as the life of your puppy, cat or feathered friend. If you have young kids to look after or older kids to cart to and from school, see if a friend or family member can do this for you for now.
If at all possible, it’d be very helpful to take a bit of time off work to search for your missing animal. If you have a big event that you have any chance of postponing - a wedding, a family holiday - this can wait as well. You need to give yourself as much free, flexible time as possible to look for your missing pet.
2. Start Spreading the News
To give your furry friend the best possible chance of being found, you need to get the fact that they’ve gone missing out there. Try making up posters and fliers with your contact information, information about rewards (if you can afford one) and a picture of your pet. Try to give a good, clear description of your animal so that he can be easily recognized, but do make a point of keeping one identifying characteristic a secret so that you can check if anyone claiming to have your animal is telling the truth.
With your posters ready, it’s time to spread them. Try putting them up all around the area in which they went missing. Information and fliers can be posted in town halls, animal shelters, mailbox clusters, vet offices, grocery stores - anywhere your poster can be seen by lots of people who might have relevant information. If you’ve recently moved house, you may also want to post fliers around the area you used to live, as many pets have an uncanny ability to reappear in the neighbourhoods they used to inhabit.
3. Get Out There
As important as it is to have all of these extra eyes on the lookout for your missing pet, it’s also absolutely vital that you get outside yourself and call your missing animal by name. After all, your pet knows and trusts you, not all of these other strangers. It’s also a good idea to get friends and relatives - especially those who are familiar with your animal - to go out and search, canvas the community and talk to people.
Don’t try to predict where your pet will and won’t be: you don’t know, and you can’t know. All you can do is search, and the best time of day to do this is nighttime and dawn. These are the times your animal is most likely to be out and exploring because there are fewer people out and about. The reduced number of people also means it’s the time when your pet is most likely to hear you, and you’re most likely to hear your pet.
If you’re searching from your car, drive slowly while calling. Keep all of your windows rolled down and the radio turned off. Stop your car and turn off the engine every now and then to make listening easier.
4. Set up a Home from Home
If you’re keeping yourself busy searching for your missing pet, there’s a pretty high chance your house will be empty while you do this. So what happens if your missing pet decides to return while you’re out of the house?
A good way to deal with this conundrum is by setting up a home from home where your pet can stay until you return. Try placing a large cardboard box (big enough for your animal to hide in) upside down in your yard. Cut a hole in the side big enough for your animal to climb through, and cover its floor with your pet’s favourite bedding and toys.
Make sure the base of this box is weighed down enough that it won’t blow away so that this can be a safe place where your pet can wait for you. Place some water, food and a litter tray (if relevant) nearby. Not only will these creature comforts make this den a nice place to hide when your pet returns, but the scent of your animal’s toys, bedding and food may well attract them and help them find their own way home.
5. Register Your Pet with Lost Pet Finders
Finding your missing pet is quite literally our job. When you register your lost pet with us, you’re automatically opting in for our many free services. Once you’ve completed this registration, you’re also given an obligation-free quote which will show you how much it would cost to issue a Pet Alert in your area, which you can adjust to your liking.
The final price of your pet alert will vary depending on where you live, how large an area you wish to cover and how many people are available in the area for us to contact. If you opt into our paid services, you’ll also get the free bonus boost on your Facebook Pet Alert.
Species-Specific Diets: Fundamentals of Feeding Your Feline Sunday 16 July 2017 @ 10:46
In our last post, we talked about how you might go about beginning to socialise your shy cat. We explained how you can use tasty snacks to encourage her to play with you, but to make sure they’re healthy: Loading your feline friend up with unhealthy treats won’t help anyone, and will just give you and your pet a whole new problem to deal with. Always make sure you’re feeding your pet a diet appropriate to their species and full of nutrients and fresh foods.
One of the key ingredients for your cat’s health is her diet. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the most important aspects of feline nutrition. Putting some time and thought into the food you give your cats can save them from suffering unnecessarily from malnutrition-related illnesses, as well as saving you from unnecessary vet bills. Our main takeaway point? Do not feed your cat on a diet of only dry food.
Cats may be cute and fluffy, but they still have many of the skills and structures inherited from their larger ancestors. As a result, they need a diet that gives them all of the necessary nutrients that will let them run, pounce and play and keep them healthy. Your furry friend is an obligate carnivore, meaning she has evolved to have her nutritional needs met by consuming animal-based proteins from the meat and organs of other animals. It also means she is able to get significantly less nutritional value from the plant-based proteins in vegetables and grains than we can, as she lacks the appropriate enzymes.
Not all proteins are created equal. Animal proteins - the ones your cat needs - have a full complement of amino acids, the building blocks that make up a protein. Plant proteins, meanwhile, do not have all of these amino acids. Dogs and humans can take plant proteins and process them to replace the missing pieces, allowing them to enjoy their full nutritional value. This is why humans are able to happily live as vegetarians. Cats, however, do not have the wherewithal to do this.
We know you aren’t stupid: we aren’t functioning under the belief that our readers are lovingly force-feeding their cats broccoli, encouraging them to chase carrots and parsnips across the floor. We know that you know your cat needs meat. What you may not know, however, is that the protein in dry cat food is often heavily plant-based, despite being advertised as a balanced and nutritious meal for your cat. Meanwhile, the protein in wet, canned cat food is more likely to be meat-based.
One of the most vital nutrients that your cat can get from meat, taurine, is missing from plants. A lack of this nutrient in your cat’s diet has the potential to cause heart problems and blindness. But plant proteins are cheaper to attain than meat proteins, so pet food companies are going to continue using wheat, rice, soy and corn in their foods because it’ll increase their profit margin.
Along with protein, the other main consideration you need to take into account in your cat’s diet is water. Water is vital to the survival of every living thing, from cats to caterpillars, but cats do not have a very high thirst drive compared to other animals like humans and dogs. This is why it’s very important that your cat takes in a certain amount of water as part of their diet through wet canned or homemade foods. Without this, your cat risks dehydration and urinary tract diseases, especially if she has any issues with her kidneys.
N.B.: Many people choose to feed their cat dried foods for financial reasons. If this is the case, it’s recommended you try to feed your friend a combination of wet and dry food, if you can afford it. Advice given on this blog is not to be taken over that given by your vet.
Above all else, our aim is to make sure as many pets as possible get to be with families who will love them and give them all the care they need no matter what, and this includes reuniting wandering animals with their worried parents. Here are just a few of our recent success stories!
“Lilly is home!!!
THANK YOU so much for the advice and encouragement, and the help of everyone who shared the post and sent support.
We searched for her late at night and in the early morning, put litter and food outside and left a handful of litter on the corners nearby hoping she'd pick up the scent.
We don't know where she was or what might have helped – she just turned up at the window meowing frantically. She has lost a bit of weight but otherwise fine. We’re very happy and relieved.”
Kev has been found and is now in solitary confinement, with all lock picks confiscated!
Thanks to the neighbour 4 houses down, who contacted me this afternoon after seeing one of the Pet Alert Flyers from the LPF site.
His favourite treats were his downfall (but enabled me to catch him.)
Cat door removed entirely.”
“Thank you for the comfort of this listing Tigger returned 10-7-2017.. Very thin, hungry and please to see us”
“Thankyou to the call service that went out to homes... it was the second alert that I placed that had a lady able to track him down to a neighbour that had found charlie in his yard 2 days ago.... he was a little bit smelly and hungry but after a bath and some food he is home safe and sound
“The service is great. Our chinki has just returned home- she has a wound on her face which will heal in time but she is very very skinny and bony and been eating only since she came. I think she has escaped from someone because it is not normal for her wander so she was trapped and not fed by someone cruel. She is very normal now and we are very happy this is happening. Today is a very good day. Thankyou are your help. Hopefully my other cat will return just like this”