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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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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Caring for Dogs with Food Allergies Tuesday 31 October 2017 @ 07:54

JordyBack 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.

Jordy

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.

Tricolor Short Coat Dog Running

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
  • Hives
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Itchy rear end
  • Nausea
  • Skin rash
  • Poor coat quality
  • Itchiness

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.

Cat face palm

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.

Family dog

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.

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