Category Archives: pet health

Petting a Dog or Cat is Mutually Therapeutic

Dog & Baby

 

 

Did you know that petting your dog or cat has mutual benefits? It seems obvious that your pet gets pleasure from petting and shows it in many ways like rubbing up against you, nudging you, and often we see a smile and a gleam in their eye from petting.

For humans, petting often triggers the release of a hormone called oxytocin, which is a bonding hormone. They say that petting a dog for only 15 minutes can also release other feel good hormones such as serotonin and prolactin.   Another benefit is that the stress hormone called cortisol, has been known to be lowered by petting.  Studies have shown that the same effect happens with cats.

For those suffering with mild depression, by petting your pet, it stops you from focusing on your problems and looking inward and digging into a deeper hole. Your energies are now focused on your pet and it helps to take the worry and the depressive thoughts and turn them toward something positive and loving, outside of your own mind. What is amazing is our pets can usually tell when we are feeling blue and will often stay closer to us and want to snuggle more.

Many studies have shown that not only do we get the positive effects of petting, but our pets get the same kind of benefits, too.

So keep petting your pet so you both enjoy that mutual benefit that has been termed “the love loop”.

P.S. Do you think a cat and dog petting each other has the same effect?  [Photo: Courtesy of Funagram]

 

 

 

Cats Tickly Whiskers – What Do They Do?

cat-whiskers

If something touches a person’s skin, it is felt. Our skin is a major sensory organ in our bodies. If lightly brushed, the hairs on our arm, for example, might stand up on end and we get a slight sensation because the hair is rooted in the skin.

The whiskers on a cat act in a similar way but are highly sensitive organs, more so than the fur on their bodies. There are numerous nerve endings on the skin at the base of the whiskers. Whiskers are thicker than ordinary hair and more deeply rooted. A cat’s sense of touch is enhanced by long whiskers.

The brain region where information from whiskers is received is similar to the visual cortex. It allows a cat a 3D map of its surroundings without being a true visual sense. It is a sense of touch. Cats depend on their whiskers to give them information on many things, such as balance and precision with their bodies in space. They help a cat know where objects are around them. The whiskers act as a measuring device such as allowing a cat to know if it can fit through a narrow space. The upper and lower whiskers can move independently for greater precision during measurement. They also allow a cat to navigate better in the dark.

Whiskers aid in hunting as they help a cat to detect a preys location. As the air is disturbed by the movement of the prey, a cat’s whiskers help it know in which direction the object has moved. They are part of the reason that cats are such accurate hunters.

Dogs, on the other hand, do not depend on whiskers as much as cats do. They rely more heavily on their senses of sight and smell. Whiskers can help dogs be more aware of an object they are smelling, such as its composition.

So take care when brushing and grooming your cat. Do not trim the whiskers. They are more important than just hair. A cat needs its whiskers to sense and interpret the world around them. Just let those whiskers just tickle your cheeks and let them grow.

Does Your Dog Have The Blues?

Smiling dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered if your dog might be depressed? Many vets and pet behaviorists agree that pets have real emotions. You know when your dog is happy and excited, wagging his tail and doing the circle dance when you come home from work or if you have been away. Conversely, you know when he is sad such as after a scolding when his tail is between his legs and his head is down. So what do you look for when you suspect your pet may be depressed?

Signs and Symptoms:
-withdrawn
-not eating
-losing weight
-hiding
-listless
-not interacting with others

There are many possible causes for these symptoms and it is important that you first have your dog carefully tested by a veterinarian to be sure there is no medical reason for the symptoms. Once ruled out, other causes that can trigger depression are: loss of an owner or family member or other pet in the household; moving to a new house; adding a new pet or family member; family member who moves away, such as a student off to college; changes in routines such as a non-working owner going off to a new job and many other significant changes in your household. Dogs also respond to the emotions of their human families. If a family member is in mourning, a dog can sense this. Another side-effect of change or upheaval which can lead to depression is when your dog feels he is not getting his usual attention and play with you. This can happen when you are preoccupied with the move, loss, or change.

We all want our dogs to be happy and content. There are some things you can do if you suspect your dog is depressed. Be sure to give him some healthy attention and take him out and about for mental stimulation. Make time for his favorite game or activity several times throughout the day. If he has lost a companion, bring your dog to a dog park or let him interact with another dog. If you are ready, it might help to bring another pet into your home. Enlist other family members to help keep your dog active when you yourself are feeling down about a loss. One caution is to be careful not to reward your pet’s mood. In other words, if you are overly sympathetic, this can backfire and perpetuate the depression. Ask your vet if he thinks an anti-depressant is indicated if your dog does not seem to be responding. It could be that your dog has a chemical imbalance and needs medication to regulate his emotions.

On a positive note, dogs tend to live in the present moment. Although they may suffer from depression for a period of a few weeks or even a few months, it is not common for a dog to have long-term depression. Given the attention, care and love you can provide, a dog will likely come around. And remember, when you feel good, it rubs off on your pet.

Donation by Tails Untold Personalized Pet Books for Animal Hope-Riska

Tails Untold Personalized Pet Books, has a very dear Serbian friend and huge supporter who is currently living in the US, but her family and many friends are there.  She sent us the information about the terrible floods they have experienced in and near Belgrade.  She sent us a link about this wonderful, 13 year old, no-kill shelter that does not have safe drinking water as of today and they are currently helping 200 dogs.  We hope our donation helps and prayers go out to all there. https://www.betterplace.org/en/projects/18305-please-help-our-dog-shelter-riska-in-belgrade-serbia

Should You Spay or Neuter Your Pet?

 

cat & dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the decision to spay or neuter your pet or not requires a lot of thought. When you spay or neuter, you are removing the female’s ovaries and uterus and the male’s testicles. Unspayed or neutered cats can have their first heat as early as 4 months and dogs at 5-6 months. Cats can have 3 litters and dogs 2 litters per year.

There are pros and cons to both. The media has informed us of the plight of homeless pets in our country. There are 7 puppies and kittens born in the US for each 1 human. There are as many as 6-8 million homeless pets in the US per year. As many as 30-50% of these animals are euthanized due to a lack of people adopting them. Shelters are not just home to feral pets but to litters of unwanted pets or pets that people could not care for. This is a significant pro for why we should spay or neuter our dogs and cats.

Also on the pro side to spaying or neutering, studies have shown that spayed or neutered pets live longer; as much as 18% longer for males and 23% longer for females. This is due to the fact that these animals have reduced risk from health issues or aberrant behaviors.

Some of the health issues related to not spaying or neutering are an increased risk of life threatening conditions such as females having mammary infections or cancer including mammary, ovarian and uterine cancers. In males, there is increased risk of testicular and prostate infections and cancer. Mammary gland tumors in female dogs and cats who are not spayed are more common in older females. Female dogs and cats that are spayed before the first heat have almost no chance of developing mammary cancer later in life. Spaying after the first heat increases the risk to 7% and spaying after the second heat increases the risk to 25%. Cancer of the uterus, ovaries and testicles is twice as common in dogs than in cats. But by removing these sexual organs, the chance for infections and cancer in these areas is reduced to none. Also for females, having a litter can also be physically dangerous and stressful to them.

In the behavioral realm, unneutered males can become more aggressive which can be a problem for children and other animals. They tend to become frustrated in their search for a mate and have a tendency to roam more. This puts them in potential danger from car accidents or fights with other animals, which can cause serious injuries. Males will also do more urine marking. Some females also urine mark or become irritable in heat. Pets may exhibit more dominance related behavior such as excessive barking in dogs and howling in cats. Spayed or neutered pets are often more relaxed and less prone to aggressive behaviors or roaming. They do not have to get fat although they can have a decrease in metabolism. The pet owner will need to monitor food intake and nutrition and give their pet the opportunity for exercize. Spaying or neutering does not change the pet’s basic personality, like being protective, which is formed more by genetics and the environment. Animals do not recognize their sexual identity so there will not be an identity crisis if you remove their sexual organs. However, in all cases, pets require basic behavior training with or without spaying or neutering surgery.

Then there is the cost and population crisis. It is not cheap to care for a litter of puppies or kittens. By bringing more litters into the world, it decreases the number of adoptions from shelters and leads to more euthanization of unadopted animals. There is a relatively low cost to spaying or neutering a pet, especially at clinics that specialize in this. The dog or cat that has not been spayed or neutered may roam more and end up in an accident or fight that requires huge veterinary bills due to injuries.

On the con side of whether to neuter or spay, there are also behavior, health and cost issues. Some feel that females need their estrogen and oxytocin hormones to keep them calm and less anxious. It is felt that without these hormones, they can become more aggressive.

Some studies have shown that spayed females tend to develop more frequent urinary tract infections. As many as 5-20% of the spayed females have an increased incidence of spay incontinence. The risk is even higher for overweight dogs. Dogs spayed or neutered before reaching adult size may grow a little taller than if not surgically altered. In dogs prone to certain conditions, there can be an increase in risk of getting transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder, osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma. There is also a risk of increased hypothyroidism, knee and hip problems. There is an increased risk for endocrine issues due to hormone imbalance. These can lead to Cushing’s disease and other adrenal diseases. Endocrine issues can be difficult and involve costly tests to diagnose. Many studies have shown changes in appetite, metabolism and weight gain do occur, especially in animals that lead a more sedentary existence. However all studies say that monitoring the diet can prevent weight gain.

The majority of the articles researched conclude with the fact that the benefits of spaying or neutering cats and dogs far outweigh those of not spaying or neutering. It is an individual decision but soliciting the advice of your veterinarian is also important. They can advise you based on your particular pet’s breed and predisposition to behavioral and health issues.

* Editors note: Tails Untold is presenting these facts that have been taken from numerous articles on the subject in order for readers to be informed in their choices. It was not written to question the idea of whether to spay or neuter or not. However, the Tails Untold Company does donate proceeds from their books to animal shelters and causes that protect animals.

Your Dog’s Nose Health-Discoid Lupus

Discoid Lupus and Your Dog’s Nose

 

I love returning home everyday. Of course, we all eagerly await the end of a long workday when we finally kick off our shoes and relax but that’s not why I love unlocking my front door.  No, I love arriving home because I am greeted with tail wags and happy dancing feet and sloppy kisses and more love than I could ever deserve. After all joyous “welcome home” elation dissipates, my sweet Aussie inquires, “what did you do today?” The details of my lunch date, morning meeting and afternoon coffee are revealed as Glory carefully and methodically sniffs my shoes, my clothes, my handbag and just about anything else she can get her nose on.  Her nose is a portal into my day. In a few moments, she knows where I’ve been, who I’ve seen, what I ate and most importantly, if I saw OTHER dogs.

Dogs interpret the world through their noses.  And their noses need care.   Discoid Lupus is just one of the immune conditions affecting our dog’s most important communication tool . . . their noses.

What is Discoid Lupus? Discoid Lupus is a condition similar to Lupus where the body’s own immune system begins to attack the DNA in the body.  Discoid Lupus is usually limited to a dog’s nose, primarily on the nose leather, however it is also seen in the ears and inside the mouth.

When a dog has Discoid Lupus, the coloration of the nose fades as the nose leather loses pigmentation.  As the condition worsens, the nose becomes cracked and scaling on the skin occurs.  Eventually, the condition causes the nose to ulcerate which is extremely painful for the dog.

Traditional treatments can include vitamin E and refraining from sun exposure since UV lights can worsen symptoms or cause a flare up.  However, both traditional therapies have their shortcomings.  Vitamin E by itself simply does not possess enough healing power to soothe sore skin and correct the degeneration of nose leather associated with Discoid Lupus.  A natural product that contains various healing, moisturizing and carrier oils, like hempseed oil, shea, jojoba and sweet almond oil is ideal.

Furthermore, lack of sun exposure can deplete vitamin D which is an essential hormone that regulates the immune system.  Supplementation with liquid vitamin D3 could prove highly beneficial.

For those dogs that will be exposed to the sun, a product with sun protection is vital and natural protection is always better, since synthetic products contain harmful chemicals.  Kukui oil is a natural skin protector from the sun that has been used by Hawaiians for centuries.

Lola and Ralphie are two sweet pups suffering from Discoid Lupus.  Check out their stories below.

Lola’s Story:

My 8 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Lola was diagnosed with discoid lupus which affected her mucous membranes – particularly the nose.  She was treated with all kinds of medications but nothing ever worked, she always had lesions there. I tried the Snout Soother and the results were fantastic, you can view on my website! I started in February and within two months the stuff was gone. I am also using this stuff on an older girl’s nose who is suffering from hyperkerotosis.

Alice Caplinger
www.kodaridgebacks.com

 Ralphie’s Story:

“I just wanted you to know how much better Ralphie’s nose looks since we tried your Snout Soother. Ralphie is a Great Pyrenees and his nose is both pink and black. We live at a high elevation and Ralphie sometimes would get sunburn on his nose. So after a couple of sunburns the vet recommended we use Water Babies sunscreen for kids. Ralphie absolutely hated this idea. He ran from me like crazy whenever he saw the pink bottle. When I did get to put it on his nose it irritated the heck out of it. So between the sunburns and the allergic reaction to the commercial sunscreen his nose was toast. The minute I put the snout soother on Ralphie’s nose I noticed a difference and in the few weeks I have used it. His nose is no longer rough and has begun to heal. It is smooth and I am so happy he is getting the sunscreen protection he needs. I want to thank you but most of all Ralphie wants to thank you . . . look at his happy nose, and what a nose it is. I hope you keep making your great product.

– Kristine Zanno
www.kristinezanno.com

A dog’s snout is their door to the rest of this big wide smelly world. Be mindful of caring for this important (and cute) part of their body. Try treatments like Snout Soother (available here) if your pup simply has a dry nose, needs sun protection, or suffers from more serious conditions like Discoid Lupus.

Long live wet dog noses!

 

Fat Cat or Cool Cat?

We can all relate to the fat cat named Garfield.  Garfield eats whenever and whatever he can, especially lasagna. We chuckle at his many attempts to shovel food into his capable of becoming enormous jaws.  But being a fat cat is not a cool way to be.

Chubbiness or excess fat on a cat can be a serious health risk. When you look at your cat and cannot make out a visible waist or  can’t feel his ribs when you stroke his sides, chances are your cat is overweight. Cats, by their nature, spend a good part of their day laying around on a soft bed; be it the couch, your bed or a comfy pillow.  This typical lifestyle can lend itself to feline obesity.  In the United States, over 50% of all cats are overweight.  Just as with humans, excess weight can lead to bone and joint problems, diabetes, lung, heart and kidney diseases, among others.  Cats whose diets are too high in sugar store this sugar in their bodies and organs, which creates health problems.  It is important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian if you suspect he has become overweight.

So what do you do when your cat has put on too many pounds? As humans we might hit the treadmill or lift some weights.  Cats are not likely to perform such activities and look to you for their regular exercise.  A cat needs to be engaged in regular activities several times a day. Chasing a laser beam light around the room is a great way to get your cat active.  Dangling a toy on a string or just the string itself dragged behind you will have your cat chasing and pouncing those pounds away.  Provide your cat with a climbing tree which can be sprinkled at the top with catnip.  Scratching posts will allow your cat to stretch and strengthen his arm muscles.  There are many cat towers that have dangling toys and scratching posts to engage your cat and accomplish more than one type of exercise.

The average  10 pound cat needs only about 200 calories per day.  It is key that you choose the right food.  If there is too much sugar in the dry product, cats may become addicted to it.  They may lay around all day waiting for their next sugar fix.  Canned food is higher in protein with small amounts of fat and less carbs.   It has more water in it which is important for a cat’s urinary tract.  For cats who are overweight, 1/4 of a 5.5 ounce can two times per day is usually enough.  The higher level of meat or fish protein in canned food will satiate a cat better than a grain-rich, higher carb dry food. This will result in less begging for food.  You can keep feeding the lesser amount of food until your cat is at its desired weight. Adding a little more canned food or some dry food will help your cat maintain his desired weight.

If your cat only eats dry food, look for one that is labeled “light” or for “less active cats” if your cat is packing on too many pounds.  These tend to be lower in carbohydrates. Remember that dry foods contain only 10% water so be sure your pet gets plenty of water throughout the day.  Often cats have a low thirst drive and cannot make up his water needs with dry food.  Try to slowly introduce some canned food to your finicky dry food lover.  Dry foods tend to be calorie dense so watch those portion sizes.

As your cat loses weight, he will likely become more active and achieve his weight goal more quickly.  The end result will be a happier, healthier and livelier pet.  Isn’t that what we cat lovers want after all?

Pet Safety At Christmas

The holidays are here and we love to shower our pets with love and gifts to show how much we care. Our wish to you is for a safe and healthy environment for you and your pets. With that in mind, there are some precautions we should take when we celebrate with decorations and good cheer. The following are some safety tips to keep your pet happy and healthy this holiday season.

 

* Christmas tree  – Be sure to place your tree in a corner, anchored so it won’t fall on an excited pet. Keep in mind that the water in the stand can contain pesticides and bacteria, so keep your cat or dog from drinking it. If your tree is cut low to the ground, your pet won’t be able to get under it and take a drink. Remember to sweep up fallen needles. These can become lodged in your pet’s paws and eating them can cause intestinal punctures.

*Christmas lights – Be sure to keep lights away from the bottom-most branches. Use a cord container so your pet does not try to chew on the wires and become shocked. Always unplug the tree when you will not be home.

* Ornaments – Try to use unbreakable ornaments, especially near the bottom of the tree. A broken glass ornament splinters into shards and can cause a choking hazard, cuts, and intestinal distress.

* Tinsel – This lovely decoration is a big attraction to cats who love to bat at the shiny strands. Dogs or cats who eat the tinsel can block their intestines and cause severe vomiting. It is best to skip the tinsel.

* Holiday plants – Holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, amarylis and lilies should not be put within your pet’s reach.  The leaves, berries or sap from these are poisonous to your pet.

* Edible decorations – Many people string cranberries or popcorn. These are attractive to dogs and may result in intestinal upset if consumed. It is best not to use them for decorations.

* Gift wrap – Wrapping paper and ribbons can be fun for a pet to play with. Yet ingesting them can cause intestinal blockage. Be sure to dispose of used wrappings once those holiday gifts are opened.

* Chocolate – We often give chocolate as a gift. Dogs can sniff this right through the wrapping paper and can tear open a box to get at the treat. We all know chocolate can be lethal to pets. The higher the cocoa content, the more toxic the chocolate.

* Candy – some candy and most gum is sweetened with xylitol. This is also toxic to a pet so keep it out of reach.

* People food – Try to avoid giving your pet leftover food. Bones, high fat-content or spicy foods can lead to pancreatitis, pain and vomiting. Stick to your pet’s veterinarian approved kibble or canned food.

* Fireplaces  and Candles – Be sure to keep the fireplace screened in and candles up high. Candles can easily be knocked over by a wagging tail or leaping kitty.

* Adult beverages – Eggnog and sweet drinks can entice a pet to taste them. They cause nausea and can be lethal. Keep these drinks out of reach.

* Tablecloths and runners – Keep these from hanging too low to the floor. Dogs may tug at them and end up pulling the contents of the table upon himself. This is also how a dog can obtain no-no foods and candies.
With this lengthy but pet friendly list, you can do your best to insure that the most joyful time of the year stays that way for you and your pets. Try to stick to your routines of walking and playtimes so your pet feels comfortable and relaxed, in spite of the hustle and bustle that the holidays bring.

Wishing you all the best at this special time of year. Peace, hope and love to all from your Tails Untold friends!

Have Dog Will Travel…Safely

Recently dog restraints for cars have come to light as not being as safe as they’re meant or advertised to be. Before you jump to conclusions, it is important to look at the type and number of restraints that were tested. It is certainly a step in the right direction for consumers to begin looking at car seat belts, harnesses and crates that have been “crash tested”.  After all, safety for our pets is our number one concern.

Several states now require that pets be restrained when traveling in a motor vehicle. In states such as Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maine, you can be fined from $200. to $1,000. if you are caught driving with your dog in your lap.  Legislatures in other states are looking at driving with a pet in your lap as akin to texting or driving under the influence and are putting forth bills to prevent this from happening.

Seat belts and other car restraints protect you from being distracted by your pet.  They in turn protect your pet from being tossed about in the car due to sudden stops or sharp turns. In a collision, an unrestrained pet is like a flying projectile which can be slammed into a dashboard or window or even thrown from a vehicle. Many unrestrained dogs like to stick their heads out of the windows which can subject them to eye or nose injuries from flying debris.  An open window at a stop sign might entice your pet to jump out if he sees something interesting walking by.

There are many types of restraints that are available to help keep your pet comfortable and ensure his safety on the road. A seat belt or harness will secure a dog, with limited mobility, allowing them to sit or lay down in one place. A tether can be attached to a harness to give your pet a bit more mobility in the back seat. There are soft-sided dog crates for smaller dogs that can be belted into the passenger front seat that can be coordinated with the car’s airbag. A crate or kennel made to have a seatbelt strapped to it for larger dogs is used in the back seat.  If the dog is very large, a crate can be placed in the cargo area or a steel grate can be used to separate the cargo area from the rest of the car. The area should be well padded.

When looking at safety harnesses, choose ones with thick, padded straps to protect your dog’s chest and distribute the force of any impact or sudden stop or swerve. The fasteners and tether should be strong and well-constructed.  Do not have too much play in the tether and be sure it fastens at the dog’s back, not at the neck.

If you decide to use a crate, choose one that is not make of a brittle plastic material. Go for the sturdier plastics and other materials that won’t shatter. It is best if the crate is positioned lengthwise to the seat and secured with more than a seatbelt.  Use wide, heavy duty luggage straps as well. Having a mechanic install anchors for these would be a good idea.

Remember that you would not allow your human passengers to ride with you unprotected by seatbelts. Your pets deserve the same care. Enjoy your travels together!

Should Cats Eat Mice and Birds?

We all love our feline pets. They love to show they love us by bringing us little presents they capture in the wild. Many a cat lover has discovered a half eaten mouse or bird on their doorstep left by their kitty as a token of love for being such a good caretaker. But, we wonder, is it safe that they have eaten some of that wild animal, especially when we have no idea where it has been?

Cats are carnivores and predators. In fact they are obligate carnivores meaning they must have meat to live. Meat contains taurine which is one of the essential nutrients to a cat’s diet. The bones of the animals they consume are full of calcium and are easily broken down and digested. The bones, guts, fur and feathers of mice and birds contain fiber which is another essential nutrient. They obtain water from their prey as well. Cats enjoy a variety of textures which is why they relish chewing on mice and birds. Their natural instinct is to hunt.  If you do not wish to have them bring home such wildlife, you will have to keep them indoors or monitor their time outdoors.

If your cat is allowed to roam, be sure it gets regular check-ups for worms and other parasites. Be sure vaccines such as rabies and feline leukemia are up to date. In very rare cases, a cat can contract a disease such as toxoplasmosis which can lead to uvitis and glaucoma. Again, regular checkups for your outdoor cat are good preventative medicine.

Humans should take care when disposing of their little  presents of mice and birds. Take care to wear gloves and even a mask when handling the gift.  Viruses, such as the sometimes deadly hantavirus, can be spread for example, by handling a mouse. Scrub any surface that the mouse came in contact with.  Cats are not carriers of the virus nor can it be transferred from one person to another.

In general, it is not harmful for cats to eat mice and birds. This is how many cats live in the wild. However, keep your cat safe by keeping it’s checkups regular and keep yourself safe by using gloves when you handle strange wildlife. Happy hunting!