Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Stop Your Dog from Pulling on the Leash

I think we all know someone with expert-leash walking skills.

You know the ones that aren’t constantly being pulled or getting wrapped around trees. The ones that are able to easily enjoy an afternoon stroll with their pooch by their side.

So you may be asking yourself the question: where did I go wrong?

If you’re over being yanked along, it’s time you take back control of the leash and implement some training methods that’ll get your pooch walking like a pro in no time.


couple walking dog


Before You Get Moving


  • Remove any distractions – train somewhere where it will be easy for your dog to focus whether that is in the backyard or even indoors.

  • Short, sweet training sessions are optimal. Keep the training anywhere between 5-10 minutes a day so both you and your pup don’t get frustrated.

  • Reward your pup with treats each time they co-operate with you. 

lady and dog


Steps to Calm Leash Walking


  1. For your dog to learn they need to stay on one side of you when walking, ask your dog to sit next to your left leg (or right), with their shoulder in line with you.

  2. Hold a treat in your hand to get your dogs attention.

  3. Step off with your left leg, while saying ‘heel’.

  4. As soon as he takes off ahead, turn around and start walking in the opposite direction.

  5. As soon as your dog catches up and reaches the correct position next to your left leg say ‘heel’ and get his attention with a treat.

  6. Repeat then turn-around each time your dog surges ahead and correct him by saying ‘heel’.

  7. Initially reward them each time they are in the heel position and walking by your side (this will also teach them to look to you for direction). As your pooch progresses, get them to walk for a longer period beside you before they get the treat.

  8. Enjoy your walk and continue to occasionally reward your dog for paying attention and walking with you. Once the behaviour is established, rewards can be in the form of treats, play or just simply a ‘good boy’ when they are doing the right thing.

lady walking dog


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Monday, May 22, 2017

Nexgard Spectra: Fast Action and Effective!

Nexgard Spectra is a new once a month, chewable tablet for the effective control of fleas, ticks, heartworm and intestinal worms for dogs and puppies. 

It combines two active ingredients (Afoxolaner and Milbemycin Oxime) for protection against the most common internal and external parasites of dogs. 

It is easy to administer and has a tasty beef-flavoured chew that your dog will love!

nexgard spectra packages


Nexgard Spectra for Dogs Key Benefits

  • Monthly protection against fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and heartworm
  • Soft beef-flavoured chew that dogs readily accept
  • Fast Action and Effective - Flea control within 8 hours of administration
  • Long Lasting - Kills and controls fleas & ticks on dogs for up to a month
  • Kills and controls ticks including Paralysis ticks, Brown Dog ticks and Bush ticks
  • Protects against intestinal worms including roundworms, hookworms and whipworms, and deadly heartworm
  • Safe to use on puppies over 2kg in weight, 8 weeks of age and older
  • Can be given with or without food
  • Not affected by bathing, swimming or shampooing
  • No need to separate treated dogs from other pets in household


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cat Tongues: How Do They Work and Why Do They Use Them So Often?

Cats are famous for their finicky self-grooming.

However, the way in which their tongues actually work to get them clean has remained somewhat of a mystery.

So how does their tongue actually work in cleaning them? And why do they do it so much?


cat licking

The Tounge


A researcher at Georgia Tech began investigating cat tongues after seeing a cat lick a thick blanket and getting its tongue stuck. They found that a cats’ rough pink tongue acts just like a hair brush, however much more advanced than your average human hairbrush.

Despite the coarse and scratchy feeling of your cats’ licks, your cat’s tongue is not like sandpaper at all. Cat tongues are covered in tiny, claw shaped backward-facing spines made of keratin (the same material as fingernails). Researchers found that in one single grooming sweep, a cats’ tongue moves in four directions, working as a flexible comb that adjusts to any knots it encounters.

The top of the tongue spines are much like claws, with a curved hook-like shape which works like Velcro to clean their coats. When the spines are not in licking mode, they lie flat enabling collected fur to slide right off and be swallowed.

kitten lying down

Clean from the Start


Straight from birth, mothers begin to lick their kittens in order to stimulate the release of urine and faeces, provoke them to suckle, and provide them with comfort.

Kittens then begin grooming themselves and littermates a few weeks later.

This is known as ‘allogrooming’ which often continues into their adulthood as a social activity that strengthens a bond between cats.

kitten


Grooming


Cats spend half of their waking time grooming themselves or other cats. 

When a cat grooms itself via licking, their barb-like tongues work to stimulate the sebaceous glands at the base of their hairs and spread oil throughout the hairs. This is how they maintain their clean and shiny coats!

Their self-grooming also gets rid of any dirt or parasites (such as fleas) hidden in their fur and their saliva helps them cool down on hotter days as they don’t have sweat glands.

Cats will also groom just because it feels good and they enjoy it!

two cats

What Does It Mean if My Cat Grooms Me?


Cats are very social animals. If they are licking you it’s because they are displaying affection and trust, just like the way they would have licked their mother and littermates. They also may be licking to taste the salt substance on your skin.



cat and human

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Are Bones Safe for Your Dog?

It’s one of the oldest clich├ęs in the book: Dogs love to chew bones.

You have probably heard through the grape vine that feeding your dog a bone is natural and can help with mouth hygiene. 

In fact, the majority of bones are severely dangerous to your dog and can cause various health problems. 

So, the question here is, should you ban the bone altogether, or can you give your dog a safer option?

dog chewing stick

The Dangers of Bones for Dogs


The following health problems can be associated with dogs eating bones. These complications can occur in dogs after eating both cooked and raw bones.


Fractured Teeth

Bones are extremely tough and can cause your dog’s teeth to crack and in some cases, can lead to the need for root canals or tooth extractions. 


Oral Injuries

Bones have sharp edges that can cut the insides of your dog’s mouth, including their gums, tongue and other oral mucous membranes. Not only is this very painful for your dog, it can also turn messy. Bone fragments can also get stuck in their mouth and in particular between the molars of the lower jaw.

Airway Obstruction

The entire bone or part of it can become stuck in your dog’s throat and potentially block their airway, causing your dog to choke.

Gastrointestinal Complications


Serious damage can be caused when bones pass through the digestive tract. Pieces of the consumed bone can become lodged in the oesophagus, stomach or intestines and in most cases emergency surgery will need to be performed in order to remove the bone. 

If bone does not get stuck, it can cause irritation while passing through the GI tract and at the very least, diarrhea, vomiting or constipation can occur. 

Life-threating situations can also arise if bone fragments poke through the oesophagus lining, intestines, colon and stomach. 



sad dog

Are Any Kinds of Bones Safe for Dogs?


Your dog may love chewing on bones, however that does not mean they should be allowed to. 

The risks associated with feeding your dog bones applies to bones from all kinds of animals, including if they are raw or cooked.

However, cooked bones are of higher risk, especially those from poultry as they tend to splinter. 

The size of your dog is not a determining factor either; any kind of dog can be affected. However, it is obvious that small dogs eating large bones are at a greater risk.

Although you may have given your dog bones in the past without any problems, it does not mean you will not run into complications the next time. 

Is it really worth the risk?


dog with stick


Bone Alternatives for Dogs


Chewing is instinctively essential for dogs. Therefore, you will need to find a safer alternative that will satisfy your dog’s chewing needs.

No matter what you may choose for your dog to chew on, you should ensure you are always there to supervise.

Specially made dog toys (such as Kong), dental chews and other dog treats (such as Greenies) are great alternatives that will satisfy your dog’s need to chew.

 Be sure to ask your veterinarian for advice on the best options for your dog.


dog and chew toy


Keeping Bones Away from Your Dog


Be cautious when removing bones from left overs.

It’s best to take them directly to your outside bin (provided it’s out of your dog’s reach). 

Put bones in the foods that are toxic for your dog category and never look back.

If you think your dog has bone-related problems, ensure you contact your vet immediately. 


happy dog

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Many dogs love to channel their inner cow and munch away on grass. For some, it may even be a part of their daily routine. They may even be particular about what type of grass they eat.

Are they hungry? Sick? Is it bad for them? Are they bored? 

Firstly, don’t fret, you’re not the only one confused or concerned, especially if your pooch is vomiting after munching away at your lawn.

Fortunately, experts believe it isn’t something you should be worried about. 

So why do they do it?

happy pug outside


They Are Scavengers


It is a common misconception that dogs’, like cats are carnivores, when in fact they are omnivores. For thousands of years, dogs have been known as opportunistic scavengers that will consume anything that fulfils their basic dietary requirements. 

Due to domestication and evolution, the modern-day dog is no longer like their ancestors who would frequently eat the whole of their prey, including the stomach contents of plant-eating animals. 

Today, dogs seek out plants as an alternative food source with grass being the most common as it is closest at hand. 


dog running in field


Needed Nutrients


Grass has essential nutrients that your dog may be craving, especially if they are being fed a commercial diet. If your dog has increased the amount of grass it eats, they may be lacking in fibre. In this case, you might want to consider introducing cooked vegetables into your dog’s diet. 

If your dog just enjoys munching on grass here and there, you may want to buy a small grass tray just for them. This will give your dog a safe piece of grass to nibble on, free from possible pesticides. 


dog sniffing grass


Vomiting After Eating Grass


If your dog has a gassy or upset stomach it will seek out a natural remedy to cure it, and for them, grass seems to do the trick. When consumed, the grass blades can tickle the throat and stomach lining and in return, this sensation can cause a dog to vomit. This is more likely to happen if the grass is gulped down rather than chewed. If your dog occasionally nibbles on grass with no symptoms then they may just be enjoying it or they may have needed to add a little more fibre to their diet.

However, if your dog is ingesting large amounts of grass at a time and gulping it down, they may be unwell. 

If other symptoms occur including, licking its lips, salivating or swallowing a lot, frequent diarrhoea or your dog is vomiting more than once a week you should seek your vet for advice.

boxer dog in grass

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

How To Stop Your Cat Urinating Outside The Litter Box

It can be very unpleasant, frustrating and upsetting when your cat starts to shun their litter box for other places in your home. Cat urine present anywhere in the house can make you feel like you are living in one big litter box. Present in a cats’ urine are strong-smelling proteins used to mark their territory with a scent that is almost impossible to get rid of. In order to help eliminate the potent urine scent and prevent your cat from continuing to urinate in inappropriate places, consider these four steps.

cat hiding

1. Identify The Reason


The first step to solving your cats’ urinating problem is figuring out the reason why. If your cat is urinating in inappropriate areas of the house, he/she is trying to tell you something. They could be unhappy with their litter box, anxious or even sick. It may take some time to find the exact reason behind your cats’ behaviour, however once you find it, you can begin to find a solution. Here are three possible reasons behind your cats’ urinating problem:


Medical:

Common health issues could be the cause behind your cats urinating problem. If these symptoms apply to your cat, he/she should be checked by your vet.

Bladder stones or blockage
  • Goes to the litter box often
  • Exhibits any sign of pain or distress (crying or mewing)
  • Abdomen is tender to touch
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Urinating small amounts often
Feline interstitial cystitis
  • Sudden urination (caused by inflammation of the bladder)


Behavioural:

Behavioural issues could be the reason behind your cats’ urination problem:

Change Of Environment: If you have recently moved house, have new people in your household or have a new pet your cat may be feeling threatened. Changes within your cats’ environment or schedule can have negative effects on its training.

Familiar Areas: If your cat has become used to urinating in a specific spot, he/she will keep returning to that same spot as to them it smells like the right place.

Territory: Make sure to identify if your cat is urinating or spraying. Your cat will want to mark its territory, especially if they are feeling threatened. Neutered and spayed cats are less likely to spray, however they may have a reason for feeling the need to claim or reclaim territory.

The Litter Box:

Before ignoring the obvious and rushing your cat to the vet fearing the worst, consider problems that can occur with your cats’ litter box. Consider these questions as another potential reason behind your cats’ urinating problem.
  • Has their litter box recently been moved?
  • Is the litter dirty?
  • Are there enough boxes to serve all cats in your household?
  • Is something preventing your cat to access their litter box?
  • Is the litter box placed in a cramped area? Could they have reason to fear becoming trapped or not being able to easily escape?
  • Is the litter box located in a spot that offers them privacy?
  • Does the box have a hood or sides that are too high?
  • Has your cat ever been interrupted or upset while using their litter box? 

outside cat


2. Clean Up The Mess


If your cat has been urinating where it shouldn’t, all traces of the smell need to be removed. If the urine is not successfully cleaned up, your cat will continue to return to its preferred area as he/she can pick up the scent. Incorrect cleaning can sometimes wet the crystallized proteins and reactivate the odour. Even if you can’t smell it, your cat can! Here are some tips for cleaning the mess:
  • Clean the urine as soon as possible
  • Use paper towels
  • Use a disinfectant and odour neutraliser
  • Avoid ammonia-based disinfectants (cats will think its urine)
  • Cleaning sprays with orange oil ingredients
  • Citrus! Cats hate the smell of it.
  • Use a black light to see if cat urine is still present
  • Place your cats’ food or water bowl in the area (they won’t pee where they eat!)
  • Place aluminium foil on the area (they hate the sound and texture of it)
Here are three great cat cleaner/repellent recipes you can make at home.

cat on the floor

3. Consider Adding, Moving, Changing The Litter Box


The Location 

Ensure your cats’ litter box is located in an area they can easily access which still provides them with some sort of privacy. Try moving the box to their preferred location and slowly moving it back to where it should be or move it to several different areas until it becomes comfortable with one.


Add an Addition

The general rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Ensure if you have more than one level in your house to place a box on each floor.


Alternative 

Although an enclosed litter box may suit your decorative standards better, it does not mean it fits with your cats’ toilet standards. Ensure their litter box is not enclosed or has sides that are too high.


Clean Regularly

Dirty litter is one of the first things that will send your cat in the other direction. Cats have a very clean nature and therefore need a clean are to do their business. Ensure you are consistent with cleaning out the box and changing the litter.


Type of Litter

Litter that is heavily perfumed may seem like the best choice, however cats tend to disagree. Studies have revealed that majority of cats prefer a loose, clumping and unscented clay litter containing activated charcoal.


cat in box

4. Love Your Cat No Matter What


  • If you have a new guest in the house (cat, dog, baby, roommate) or other changes, give him/her time to adjust and get used to the change.
  • Moving to a new home is not only a big change in your life, but also your cats’. Your cat will have to adjust to a new territory and maybe a new scent from a former tenant’s pet. You will need to ensure you remove all odours so your cat doesn’t feel the need to mark its territory.
  • Make sure you are giving your cat extra, affection, attention and praise. 
  • Reassure him/her that they are loved and an important part of the family.

cat and owner cuddling


What Not To Do:


Training your cat to continue to use their litter box is all about patience, not punishment. Here is what not to do:

  • Rub your cat’s nose in its urine or faeces
  • Yell at your cat or physically drag them to their litter box
  • Place their litter box where they eat and/or drink

Hopefully these tips help with keeping your kitty in its litter box and out of your living room!

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

6 Causes of Excessive Barking

Barking in addition to whining, howling and growling is a dog’s natural way of communicating. It can be characterised as a series of short, sharp sounds that tend to vary little in pitch. Barking being a natural trait is not considered a problem – until it becomes excessive that is. 

These six causes should help you understand why your dog may be a frequent barker.

happy dog


1. Attention 


If you find your dog barking for attention, you’re not alone. Attention can be one of the biggest reasons why your dog has decided to become a barking extraordinaire.

 This idea of attention barking is often seen as a cause and effect chain. “If I do this, I get that” is how your dog may think of it. For example, if they bark you come running over yelling or telling them to stop, giving them your undivided attention. It isn’t important to your dog WHAT you are saying, just that you’ve stopped what you were previously doing to come over. 

You have to remember that negative attention is still attention. 

Sitting dog



2. Boredom 


Dogs are active animals that need both physical and mental stimulation; some working breeds need it more than others. Two common solutions to ‘fix’ a bored dog is to buy tons of toys and let them out in the yard. Unfortunately even though they are both great solutions, without some training and interaction doing the above just won’t be enough. 

Dogs need to be motivated to run/play with toys, they won’t do it on their own for extended periods of time. 

bored dog


3. Fear 


Almost all dogs are afraid of something, whether it is the postman or the neighbour’s cat, and it’s almost never a problem. Sometimes however, your dog can be afraid of something they encounter daily and barking is how they deal with it. 

Animals have three biological mechanisms to deal with threats: 

Fight: May start with mild aggressive dog behaviour like barking and escalate to growling, snapping and biting.
Flight: The dog will try to escape and put as much distance as possible between them and the frightening subject/object.
Freeze: The dog will stay as still as possible in hopes whatever the threat may be, won’t see them.  

A majority of dogs don’t like to fight however if they feel trapped, like on a lead, they will go into ‘fight’ mode and start barking. This can scare other dogs away which will teach the scared dog that barking will keep them safe – continuing to do so when frightened. 

scared dog


4. Territorial 


Excessive barking may be in response to people, other dogs or other animals within or approaching their territory. 

This can include your house, surrounding areas and eventually anywhere you dog has explored or associates with you (i.e. your car & their walking route). Dogs can be territorial because they are more often than not bred to protect, however at times it may be an issue of training or learned behaviour. 

territorial dog


5. Excitement 


Dogs, much like people, tend to verbalise their emotions of excitement a lot. For example they may bark when playful and excited or when they anticipate excitement such as being given a treat. 

Excited barking can often be caused when coming in contact with other dogs, especially if the dog has limited opportunity to play with or see other dogs.  Sometimes, owners may also mistake excitement barking as aggression therefore not dealing with it correctly.

excited dog


6. Underlying Health Issues


Less common but still an issue, dogs can find themselves barking excessively if they are in pain or discomfort.  If a dog is faced with a health issue the only way for them to communicate is through barking.

sick dog


Hopefully these explanations help you pinpoint the real reason you pup may be barking all the time!

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.