“Owners can play a direct role in safely reducing the weight of their cats or dogs in a high percentage of cases of pet obesity. The problem is that many people do not know how to recognize if their pet is overweight or how to rectify the situation,” A minor change in the diet and feeding patterns of pets and regular exercise can have a major impact on improving their life span and quality.
How to tell if your Pet is Overweight
- Standing above your cat/dog, look down and check for a “Waist” – pets at the proper weight will have a visible indentation behind their ribs.
- Place both hands, palms down, lightly on your cat’s or dog’s ribs. You should be able to feel the ribs, but they shouldn’t be sticking out.
- If you cannot feel the ribs, chances are your cat/dog is overweight. Overweight pets also commonly have pouches of fat in the groin area between the hind legs.
- If you can see the ribs, chances are your cat/dog is underweight.
As a responsible pet owner, you owe it to your pet to take her dental care seriously, both professionally and at home. If you start as early as possible in your dog’s life getting her accustomed to having her mouth handled, then dental care should be as easy as feeding her. Do you know what the most common health problem is in dogs? Eighty percent of domestic dogs that are three years and older are affected by infection of the gums. Yet it’s one of the most overlooked problems by pet owners.
What are some possible signs of dental disease?
- Bad breath.
- Discolored teeth.
- Red or swollen gums.
- Loss of teeth.
- Difficulty in chewing and eating.
- Weight loss.
- Broken or missing teeth.
- Nasal discharge.
- Blood in the saliva.
- Tearing or swelling below one eye.
How does a dog get periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease starts with plaque. This is the white film that accumulates on our teeth. If the plaque is not removed through regular teeth brushing, it will mineralize (harden) and turn into tartar. As the tartar builds, the plaque continues to accumulate and infect the gums.
How can periodontal disease be prevented?
Unfortunately, periodontal disease cannot be reversed. It can, however, be slowed or stopped with proper dental care. There are several things you can do to prevent this disease from affecting your pet.
- Brush your pet’s teeth regularly.
- Feed your pet a nutritionally balanced diet.
- Provide your pet a dental chew toys and chew items.
- Get regular dental exams by a veterinarian.
Brush your pet’s teeth regularly
Your pet’s teeth should be brushed as often as possible, ideally every day. Try to get in the habit of brushing your pet’s teeth after you brush your own!
You can purchase toothbrushes made especially for pets, or you can use a soft child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, a gauze pad around a finger, or a cotton swab. Use toothpaste specially formulated for pets. These have ingredients that continue to work in the mouth even after brushing. Canine toothpaste has a special food flavoring to make it more appealing to your pet. Stay away from human toothpaste, baking soda or salt. Many dogs don’t like the foaming action these give, and they may upset their digestive systems.
Try to reach the inside surfaces of the teeth, and the back upper molars. These teeth tend to quickly build up tartar.
Feed a nutritionally balanced diet, preferably dry
A hard, crunchy premium food will scrape against the teeth and help keep bacteria from growing.
Provide dental chew toys and chew items
Not only are they fun for your dog, but he doesn’t even realize how good they are for him. Supply your dog with plenty of "teeth cleaning" chew toys and bones, especially knobby toys, rope toys and floss toys. Rawhide is another chew item that rubs against the dog’s teeth and removes harmful plaque.
Get regular dental exams by a veterinarian
Have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned regularly. Frequency of cleanings depends on each pet’s individual needs, so consult your veterinarian at least once a year.
How do I get my dog used to brushing?
Get your pet accustomed to having your fingers in his mouth. Squeeze a bit of toothpaste on your finger and place your finger between the cheek and gum. As your pet licks the paste, praise him calmly. Once he’s comfortable with that, you can place the toothpaste on the toothbrush and do the same thing. Soon your pet will be comfortable with the process. Spend only a few seconds at first, then build up to spending a minute or so brushing the teeth.
The Beginner’s Guide To Bathing Your Dog
Bathing your pet doesn’t have to be dreadful! Once you have thoroughly brushed your pet and removed all mats, you’re ready to gather your supplies and begin the bathing process.
How often should I bathe my dog?
How often a dog should be bathed is different for each breed. Breeds prone to skin conditions, such as Cocker Spaniels, benefit from regular bathing about every six weeks. Double–coated breeds only need bathing about 3 or 4 times a year. Bathing a dog with an undercoat more often than this will cause the coat to soften and reduce the coat’s isolative and waterproofing qualities.
What kind of shampoo should I use?
That depends on your pet’s coat and any specific needs you have, like moisturizing the skin. Always use a shampoo specially formulated for dogs. Human shampoos are harsher and are formulated with a different pH than what a dog needs.
What should your bathing session consist of?
Gather all supplies so that they are within arm’s reach, everything you need should be right next to the bath. Placing a rubber non-slip mat on the bottom of the tub keeps your dog from slipping around on a slick surface and will put him more at ease. Pets can get very nervous if they lose their footing, and they may try to jump out.
Protect your pet’s ears
Place one or two cotton balls in each ear as a barrier should any water accidentally get in the ear canal. If the pet has floppy ears, press the ear leather against the ear to help keep the water from soaking the cotton. If the pet’s ears stand up, cup your hand over the opening of the ear while wetting and rinsing.
Protect your pet’s eye
A drop of mineral oil in your pet’s eyes prior to bathing will form a thin coating over the eyeball to help keep soaps and chemicals from irritating the eyes. A tiny drop in the corner of each eye is all you need to provide a barrier against irritants. Mineral oil is not harmful to the pet’s eyes.
Properly lift your dog to avoid injury
If you need to lift your dog into a tub, avoid possible injury to both you and your dog by using proper lifting techniques.
Place one arm under the chest in front of the dog’s front legs, and place the other arm behind the rear legs, just under the tail. Keep your upper body upright and lift with your legs, not your back.If your dog is heavy, always ask for help.
The person in front places one arm under the chest in front of the dog’s front legs, and the other arm under the chest, just behind the front legs. The other person places one arm behind the rear legs, just under the tail, and their other arm is placed under the dog’s body, just in front of the rear legs. Both people stand up at the same time, remembering to lift with the legs, not the back.
Wet the coat
Turn the water on slowly and adjust the temperature and water pressure before ever turning the water on the pet. The temperature should be lukewarm, not hot and not too cool. Shampoo works best with lukewarm water, and your pet will be more comfortable if the water is warm. Hold the spray nozzle as close to the coat as possible, about one inch from the coat. This way the pet is not frightened and you get the deepest penetration of water into the coat. Completely soak the pet’s coat to the skin. Start with the hindquarters and work to the front of the pet.
The head should be the last thing you wet. The flow of water must be gentle, and it should never be sprayed directly into the pet’s face. Slightly lift the face so that the water runs down the back of the head instead of into the eyes or nose. Use your fingers to help move the water around the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Shampoo the coat
Being systematic ensures you thoroughly cover the entire pet. Start with the hindquarters and work to the front of the pet, leaving the head for last. A tearless shampoo should be used on the face. Make certain you work the shampoo through the hair to the skin. Don’t just wash the top of the coat. A rubber brush can be used on breeds with shorter hair to help work the shampoo down into the coat. If the pet has especially long hair, massage the coat in the direction of hair growth so the hair doesn’t tangle.
Wash areas that need special attention
Areas that are often neglected are between the pads, under the stomach, under the tail, under the neck, in facial wrinkles, and the ear leather (flap). A rubber brush can help remove feces or any other matter that may be clinging to the hair.
Rinse very well
Again, check the temperature of the water. When rinsing, start with the head and hand rinse the soap from the face. Continue to rinse the rest of the pet, using your free hand to knead the soap out of the coat. Any soap left in the coat will dull the coat and cause a skin irritation.
Apply a moisturizer, if needed
Moisturizing treatments are designed to seal in the moisture from the pet’s own skin. These can be used on a regular basis for pets that are prone to dry skin or dandruff. In most cases, the solution is massaged into the skin after bathing and left on the coat.
Dry the pet
Once the pet has been bathed, squeeze the excess water out of the coat with your hands. Blot the excess moisture from the coat using a clean towel. Do not vigorously rub the coat of a longhaired dog. Shorthaired dogs can have their coats towel dried in a circular motion. Remove the cotton from the ears and use the towel to absorb any moisture in the ear.
Many breeds with long, flowing coats will have a better look and texture to the hair if they are fluff dried. These include the Poodle, Bichon Frise, Old English Sheepdog, Afghan Hound, and Maltese, for example. Use a blow dryer on the low setting. When working on the head, never direct the flow of air into the pet’s face.
Vaccination for Pets
VaccineWe are all under constant attack from the millions of micro–organisms which inhabit our world, so some means of protection is essential for survival. Healthy bodies are equipped with several defense mechanisms which are in operation all the time. The skin is a barrier to invasion by microbes, the mucous membranes in the nose trap foreign substances which are breathed in, and the cough reflex comes into play when throat and larynx are irritated and to prevent “Germs” getting into the lungs. The acidity of the stomach will kill invaders which get that far, and the quantities of mucus produced by the small bowel acts as a barrier to infection. Other invaders will pass from the body in feces and urine, while the liver will destroy toxins produced by bacteria. These defense mechanisms are similar in man and animals, and they work very well when health is good, but are not so effective when the body is in a run–down state, underfed or weakened, or when there is a state of mental or physical stress. When an organism succeeds in passing these primary barriers, the body still has resources to use against the invader. The immune system comes into action to manufacture special and specific weapons – antibodies – to use against the organism making the attack.
Puppies do have an immune system of their own at birth, but it is not fully developed. Thus nature has arranged for them to acquire some protective antibodies from their mothers. These are called passive antibodies since they have not been produced by the puppy itself. A modicum of passive “Maternal antibody" passes to the puppy while it is still in the uterus, but most comes via the colostrums, the first milk from the dam. Antibodies to disease in the colostrums can only be absorbed by puppies for the first day or so after birth and that time can be much shorter. It is obvious therefore that when the litter is very large or the whelping is prolonged, the early puppies are going to have more opportunity to get colostrums than those born later, so the ability to resist disease may vary between the members of the litter. The antibodies which the mother passes to her puppies will be to those diseases which she herself has encountered or been vaccinated against. If she has lived a very isolated or protected existence, never met other dogs, and has never been vaccinated, she will have no protection to pass on, and her puppies will be vulnerable to all the infectious canine diseases from their earliest days. Although the mother will pass on protective immunity through the colostrums, this type of protection will fade quite soon – in fact the amount in the blood halves each week, so the puppy must develop its own antibodies either by encounter with disease or by vaccination if it is to be protected for the rest of its life.
Most disease–causing organisms consist mainly of proteins. A healthy body is quick to detect proteins foreign to itself and to set about rejecting them by the production of specific antibodies to the invader. These active antibodies (i.e. they are created by the animal itself) are produced by specialized white blood cells found mainly in the lymph nodes and spleen. The first time the body encounters a specific disease, or a vaccine, active antibodies may take as long as ten days to be produced, but next time that disease presents itself, memory cells come into action and antibodies are “Manufactured” very quickly, so that the disease does not have the chance to become established. This is why some diseases of man and animals occur only once in a lifetime. For example, measles in man is usually a once–only disease and once an attack has been survived, there will be life–long protection. Antibodies tend to be very specific and destroy only the microbe (the antigen) which stimulated their production. A blood sample taken from the dog and processed at a laboratory will show if the dog has antibodies to a particular disease circulating in the blood, and sophisticated techniques can often reveal whether the antibody has been made in response to a recent infection or has been present for some time. Antibody levels wane with time, but another encounter with the right antigen will cause a quick resurgence of production.
Since we do not want dogs to have to endure an episode of disease to develop their own protection, we turn to the creation of active immunity by vaccination. This is the deliberate triggering of the immune response by the giving of a small, weak dose of the disease in order to stimulate the production of antibodies.
Essentially modern vaccines fall into four main classes:
Attenuated living vaccines
Fortunately bacteria and virus can be modified to reduce their ability to cause disease, but at the same time maintain their ability to stimulate the formation of active antibodies. This is achieved by a process called attenuation and is usually brought about by growing the organism in an unnatural host, e.g. in eggs, a different species of animal or in tissue culture. The amount of attenuation depends on how long the germ is maintained in the “Artificial” system. The trick is to get the right balance to achieve maximum antibody production in the animal given vaccine and yet not cause disease. The big advantage of live vaccines is that usually only one dose is required in adult dogs to stimulate immunity. Dogs injected with the ideal live vaccine will not shed organisms to the dogs – indeed that is the case with modern Canine Distemper vaccines. If this is not so, then organisms shed from vaccinated dogs may “Infect” in–contact animals and if this happens, on several occasions there is always a risk that the organism’s ability to cause disease may return. Such vaccines are better not used where a good alternative dead vaccine, or a live vaccines that is not shed, is available.
These are made from “Germs” which have been killed by heat or chemical agents such as formalin. Although the organisms are incapable of multiplying in the vaccinated animal they, nevertheless, stimulate the formation of antibodies. However, two doses are normally required and an additive, or adjuvant as it is called, may be needed to enhance the effect. By and large, the immunity produced is not so long–lasting but obviously the safety factors in vaccines of this type are greater.
The lethal effect of some organisms is brought about by the fact that they produce poisonous substances called toxins. The body reacts to these by producing specific antibodies called anti–toxins, which are capable of neutralizing toxin. This can be done artificially by injecting a toxoid which is a detoxified toxin. Toxoids are generally made by inactivating toxins, either by heat or by chemical means and on injection they stimulate anti–toxin to be formed in the body. Two doses are normally required to stimulate immunity and booster doses may be needed over one, two or three years. Probably the most familiar example is tetanus toxoid.
It is possible to make mixed vaccines provided that care is taken to ensure the compatibility of the antigens. Mixed vaccines may contain, for example, two live antigens, several dead antigens or even a combination of live and dead antigens. Such vaccines make it possible to establish an effective degree of protection against diseases with a minimal number of injections.
Protection created by vaccines is generally not as long–lasting as natural immunity, so boosters are needed periodically, different intervals being advised for the different diseases. Dogs which are kept in isolated conditions, exercised only on their owner’s land and never taken to shows or training classes, are more in need of booster protection than those dogs which live in towns and mix frequently with other dogs and hence get a degree of natural “Boosting” from the low level of infection present in the environment.
Methods of Administration
Vaccines are generally given by subcutaneous or intra muscular injection, but in certain circumstances, where there is a need to stimulate local protection, they are given by other routes. For example the vaccine used to protect dogs against Kennel Cough caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica is given by the intranasal route. Administration by this route stimulates the production of “Local antibodies” in the upper part of the respiratory tract within only a few days just where they are needed. This is followed later by the production of antibodies in the blood stream.
When to Vaccinate
Obviously the aim is to stimulate the production of active antibodies, by vaccination, as early as possible in a puppy’s life. Unfortunately, this is not easily achieved, since not only does maternally–derived antibody protect against disease, but it also prevents a proper response to vaccination. There is, incidentally, an “Immunity gap” during which puppies will not be protected by maternal antibody and have yet to produce their own active antibodies in response to vaccination. Much effort has gone into devising vaccination regimes to keep this time of vulnerability to a minimum. Canine Parvovirus disease or vaccine produces a higher level of antibody than distemper. A bitch which has a high level of CPV antibody should pass on a lot to her puppies, so they may have to wait a long time before they are ready for vaccination, perhaps up to 20 weeks. If the bitch has not much antibody to pass on, the pups may be ready for their own vaccination at six weeks. This wide variation causes a considerable dilemma and is the reason why several doses of vaccine are often recommended. Veterinary surgeons need to calculate the optimum time for vaccination in the light of local disease conditions and the history of the kennel in which the puppy was born, possibly in conjunction with blood sampling. Finally, in this connection it has to be remembered that there will always be a proportion of dogs (and humans) whose bodies fail to make any response to vaccine given to them. A multiplicity of safe effective vaccines are available these days to protect dogs against the five major infectious diseases from which they suffer.