Cats are known for being notoriously fussy creatures. They demand attention when it suits them, but reject snuggling with their owner when it doesn’t. They are picky eaters, can appear aloof and indifferent to their owners and seem pretty happy to go it alone most of the time.
This fussy attitude often even extends to their sleeping habits, and many owners have gone out and spent a considerable amount of money to provide a large, plush and expensive cat bed, only to find that their kitty refuses to sleep in it. But is she just being fussy, or is there an ulterior motive for this behavior?
According to animal behavior experts, most cats prefer to sleep and hang out in places with good vantage points, which comes from their natural survival instincts. A high position for sleeping or resting gives them an aerial advantage for spotting any potential dangers around them. Much of this instinct comes from their ancestry. Early cats were hunters that lived in the wild, and their climbing ability meant that they had somewhere to retreat to away from larger predators in addition to the capability of attacking smaller prey high up in the branches.
When a person or animal is unwell, external symptoms and blood test results may only tell part of the story. Advances in medical technology mean that it is now possible to see what is actually happening inside the body. One of the procedures that is being used in humans as well as animals, including horses, is called an endoscopy.
An endoscopy can be used to view and analyze many parts of a horse including the upper respiratory tract as well as parts of the gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts in order to help veterinarians make accurate diagnoses and recommendations for treatment on a wide range of health problems.
There are two main types of endoscopies available in the equine veterinary field. They are:
This is the most common type of endoscope used for investigative surgery in horses. The endoscope is made up of a bunch of optical fibers that are enclosed within a waterproof rubber tube. The tube is passed into the horse’s body either through a natural body cavity or through a surgical incision. The area is illuminated by a light source that passes through the fiber optics and then examined using an eyepiece that is attached to the external end of the fiber-optic cable.
This more advanced version of the endoscope has a tiny microchip video camera on the end of the scope which relays live feedback to a television screen in the room. This means that multiple people can view the feed, and it can be recorded and played back at a later time.
Our pets are beloved members of our family and seeing them unwell can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there are some illnesses that pets are unable to recover from. In the case of terminal illness and/or debilitating pain, one of the kindest things that we can do for them is to relieve them of that burden by making the difficult decision to put them to sleep.
Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on when it is time to consider euthanizing your pet. However, there are some signs and symptoms to look for that would indicate that your pet is no longer experiencing a good quality of life. If you notice these, it would then be advisable to contact your veterinarian to determine if euthanasia would be the most humane course of action.
These signs include:
Chronic labored breathing, breathlessness and/or coughing
Chronic pain that cannot be controlled by medication (your veterinarian can advise if this is the case)
Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting that leads to dehydration or severe weight loss
Inability to stand or move around
Disinterest in food or eating
Incontinent to the stage where they are frequently soiling themselves
No interest in communication with family members, treats, games, or other previously enjoyed activity
Zest for life is non-existent
While euthanasia is never an easy decision to make, a small benefit is that it allows family members the time to say their final goodbyes. This opportunity for final displays of love and affection with their pets helps to ease them into the grieving process. It is especially important to prepare young children as this may be their first experience of bereavement.
Many veterinarians will allow you to be present during the euthanasia procedure so that you can comfort your pet as they enter into their final journey. However, while this is a personal decision, it is not recommended that young children be present during this time.
There are a wide variety of animals that can be kept as domestic pets. While some, like cats and dogs, are fairly common, others are much less popular. In the past, an exotic animal was a species that was considered to be ‘wild’ in nature and not usually kept as a pet, but today, an exotic pet is pretty much any animal that isn’t a cat or dog, and are more commonly kept as pets than ever before.
The following animals tend to be classified as exotic animals and represent some of the more unusual pets in need of specialist veterinary care:
Amphibians - this includes frogs, newts, toads, and even salamanders.
Birds – including budgies, parrots, and birds of prey.
Crabs – in particular hermit and fiddler crabs.
Farm animals – including goats, llamas, and pigs.
Insects and millipedes – including cockroaches, stick insects, praying mantis and even ants.
Reptiles – such as lizards (including dragons, geckos, and chameleons), snakes, tortoises, and turtles.
Rodents – there are a huge number of animals classed as rodents including chinchillas, hamsters, rats, gerbils, and guinea pigs.
Scorpions - in particular the emperor scorpion.
Spiders – the tarantula is the most commonly kept pet spider in the world.
Homeopathy is a medical philosophy and practice based on the theory that by using the correct natural substances, the body can heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are used by more than 200 million people around the globe to treat a wide range of conditions.
The underlying principle is that the same substance that causes symptoms when given in a large dose, could also cure those symptoms if administered in a small dose. The trick is to find the remedy that best matches the symptoms.
Holistic medicines are derived from entirely natural substances such as minerals, plants and animal matter which stimulate the immune system and promote natural self-healing.
While omeopathic remedies are completely natural and safe for the majority of humans and pets, your veterinarian will be able to advise you if there is any reason why homeopathy may not be suitable for your pet.
Homeopathy in animals has had so many success stories that an increasing number of veterinarians are studying, gaining qualifications in, and practicing the principles.
Homeopathy has had proven results in an extensive range of chronic and acute conditions including:
Digestive and endocrine diseases
Fleas, skin and coat disorders
Heart and kidney diseases
Bone and joint disorders
Ears, eyes, nose and mouth problems
Immune system disorders
Mood and behavior problems
Reproductive system problems
Viruses and acute infections
Healing and recovery
We are constantly being told that obesity levels are increasing worldwide and that we should act now in order to ensure our long term health. However, this problem doesn't just affect humans. A shocking statistic from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.
(Source: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 2015)
Just like humans, pets who are overweight are at increased risk for a number of health problems including but not limited to:
Cranial cruciate ligament injury
Decreased life expectancy by up to 2.5 years
Heart and respiratory disease
High blood pressure
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Varying forms of cancer
Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a state with relatively consistent weather and temperatures and just as humans change their behavior and diet with fluctuations in temperature, so do most animals. Here are our guidelines for seasonal care for your pets.
Once you have decided to make a new pet a part of your family, the first concern you should have is with making them comfortable. After your pet has settled into your home, a good next step would be to think about training which can help to ensure that the behaviors they exhibit are primarily desirable ones.
Whilst dogs have earned a reputation as ‘man’s best friend’ thanks to their loyal and affectionate nature, they can sometimes possess frustrating habits or personality traits that make them difficult to live with, just like their human counterparts.
Training your dog will be hugely beneficial for your dog to learn to live harmoniously alongside his human family. It will strengthen his bond with your family and ensure his safety when out and about.
What is the best method to train my dog?
There are many different schools of thought concerning how to best train a dog. Some owners prefer strict training with punishments for non-compliance, whilst others prefer to praise positive behavior and ignore undesirable reactions. Studies have shown that as a general rule, the latter method works best, but however you decide to train your dog, you will need to consistently control the consequences of your dogs’ behavior in order for the training to be effective.
Since dogs cannot relate events that are separated by time, the consequences to negative behavior need to be immediate. Just as you cannot praise your dog several minutes after returning to you when called since he will not understand why he is receiving it. The easiest way to train a dog is to reward the behaviors that you like and not those that you don’t.
If your dog likes the reward you give them, they will be more likely to repeat that behavior so they can receive it again i.e. love, attention, and praise.
If they dislike the consequences, then they will do the behavior less often.
It really is that simple, but being consistent is vital to a successful training plan, otherwise, you will send mixed messages to your pet. For example, if you do not want your pet to jump on you (which they do to get your attention) then ignore them until they calm down. Once they have calmed down, be sure to praise and make a fuss over them. This will help them to learn that this is the way that you prefer them to behave. It may take several days or weeks of doing this, but your dog will soon learn the correct behavior to exhibit.
Letting children, especially young children, and pets, especially new ones, play can be a little nerve-wracking. The foremost worry is for the safety of the children, of course — it's more likely that an animal would physically hurt a child than the other way around. Unfortunately, kids can hurt pets too, and what's more, they can antagonize a pet to the point the animal will act out.
This is mostly due to two factors. First, children are still growing, learning, and testing boundaries, coupled with still learning how to verbalize their thoughts and needs. Second, pets can't verbalize at all, making it more difficult for them to communicate when they don't like something, want certain behaviors to stop, or are hurting. As a parent, you need to step in and fill this fundamental gap and help them understand each other.
Keep in mind that some animals simply aren't comfortable around children, and that's okay. When adopting a new pet, especially if it's older, make sure to talk to the shelter or rescue organization staff to make sure the animal is safe to live with kids. Similarly, if you already have kids and kid-friendly pets but are ready to adopt a new pet, make sure to ask if the animal is also comfortable with other animals. Bringing a pet into a home where it's uncomfortable will only make them more and more stressed, and thus more likely to hurt someone.
Did you know that despite doing all we can to keep our pets safe, approximately one in three pets in the United States will become lost at some point during their lifetime? This is a scenario that no owner wants to think about, but by understanding that it is something that does happen, we can be better prepared. One of the best ways of doing this is by microchipping your pet.
Many owners are quite content with using collars and tags as identification for their beloved animal. While microchipping isn’t intended to replace this traditional and highly successful practice, it can complement it. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected under your pet’s skin. Once inserted, it is impossible to locate exactly where they are, which makes them tamper-proof and accident-proof. While conventional tags and collars can be removed by thieves or can fall off, microchipping is permanent.
Studies have shown that microchipping is also a much more effective and efficient way of reuniting pets with their owners. Since many animals look alike, ownership disputes are a fairly common occurrence in neighborhoods where there are a number of pets of the same type and breed. However, microchipping can also prove invaluable when it comes to proving who the rightful owner of your pet is. While having your details on the chip is not proof of ownership, disputes nearly always go the way of the person who is registered with the microchip provider.