Can Dogs Thrive on a Vegan Diet?

Image Credits: Pixabay

The question of whether or not dogs can live meat-free seemed to have an obvious answer. No, they can’t. At least that’s what we all thought, but a growing body of scientific literature seems to prove otherwise. With a rise in the number of people turning vegan, there has also been an increase in the number of vegan dogs. Even the market for vegan pet food seems to be growing, but what is fact and what is fiction? Is a vegan diet safe for your canine friends?  

Dogs have adapted to a starch-rich diet

Although dogs belong to the family of wolves, studies have found differences in their genome from that of wolves. They seem to be able to digest starches better, produce more enzymes needed for its digestion, and have lower requirements for protein and amino acids. They are also capable of utilizing vitamins A and D from plant sources, just like humans.

Dogs need protein

Protein seems to be synonymous with meat, but plant-based sources of protein also exist. Beans, corn, soy, and whole grains are plant-based sources of protein that can provide the amino acids your dog needs.  In fact, some dogs may be allergic to animal protein, and in such cases, vets may recommend plant based diets for their health. The huge population of vegan dogs in the world are proof of the fact that dogs can be meat-free. One such inspiring figure is Bramble, a 25-year-old collie, and the oldest dog in the world.

Supplement, if necessary

Some dogs may be deficient in L-carnitine and taurine based on breed, size, and genetic make-up. In such cases, they may require supplementation of these two amino acids from the local pet store, but this is not common to all dogs on a plant-based diet. 

Vegan dog food

Vegan pet food is usually packed with all the nutrients your pet requires and is growing in popularity. If you’re trying to shift your dog to a plant based diet and are looking for a quick fix, you can even check out the latest vegan pet food brands at your local store or online.  

The key is a well-balanced meal plan

If you’re going to end up feeding your dog only carrots and cucumbers, you may not find success with a vegan diet. It’s important to do your research first if you plan to make the switch. Connect with others who have vegan dogs, and find community groups online to help you with recipes or vegan pet food options. Your dog can thrive on a vegan diet with your vet’s help.

Read More...

Can dogs get measles?

Image Credits: Pixabay

Outbreaks of measles are on the rise in the United States. This has made many people concerned about how this terrible disease can affect their families as well as their dogs. The outbreaks have made many dog mums and dads ask the question, can dogs get measles? The short answer to this is no; dogs cannot get measles or even transmit the virus to humans. However, dogs don’t get off scot-free. In fact, dogs are susceptible to a virus known as canine distemper. Canine distemper is a virus that is in the same family as measles. Untreated, canine distemper can result in permanent neurological damage and can also be fatal.

What is canine distemper?

As already mentioned, the canine distemper virus (CDV) is a virus that comes from the same family as the measles virus. There are many symptoms that dogs with CDV display. Some of them are as follows.

  • Hardening of the paw pads
  • Fever
  • Abnormal jaw movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness and sometimes paralysis
  • Lethargy
  • Convulsions
  • Ocular and nasal discharge
  • Head tilt
  • Coughing
  • Stumbling or walking in circles
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Transmission occurs through direct contact between dogs. The disease can also be transmitted through coughing and sneezing. CDV doesn’t pose any threat to humans. However, many other species of animals such as foxes, wolves, skunks, ferrets, and bears are susceptible to it.

Canine distemper is treated very seriously as there isn’t any cure for it. Fluids, antibiotics, and management of symptoms until the disease has run its course is how the disease is treated. Most dogs who survive canine distemper suffer permanent neurological damage. While the virus is highly contagious, it can be prevented through vaccination.

What is the canine measles vaccine?

The canine measles vaccine is a vaccine that was used to protect young puppies from CDV. Maternal antibodies would deactivate the CDV vaccine if the vaccine was given to puppies while they were quite young, which would leave the puppies vulnerable to infection. The canine measles vaccine was used as the first line of defense against CDV until puppies were old enough for the maternal CDV antibodies to weaken.

The canine measles vaccine isn’t used as much now as modern CDV vaccines are much more effective. Modern CDV vaccines are usually given to puppies at intervals of 3 to 4 weeks until puppies reach 16 weeks old. While measles and distemper are from the same family, measles isn’t a risk to dogs. However, dogs haven’t got off easy as they are quite susceptible to canine distemper. Prevention is possible through the correct vaccination, which is why you should make sure that your dog has all of the appropriate vaccinations in his/her system. If you’re concerned about canine distemper, a visit to your veterinarian would be the best course of action.

Read More...

Protect Your Cat against These Tick-Borne Diseases

Image Credits: Pixabay

Cats are notorious for their grooming regiment and for generally keeping themselves clean. But did you know that cats, like dogs, are also susceptible to ticks? And these nasty little arachnids (yes, they are arachnids like those eight-legged spiders) don’t just burrow themselves underneath all that fur and feed on your pet’s blood, but they also carry diseases that can make your cat dangerously sick.

Learn about common tick-borne diseases that typically infect cats so that you can give your little ball of fur the care it deserves.

1. Babesiosis

Also called Piroplasmosis, it is caused by a single-celled protozoa called Babesia felis. It can be transmitted not just by a tick bite, but also through bites from an infected dog or cat. The disease attacks the red blood cells of the cat, causing anemia, and can go undetected for years.

Symptoms

Fever, enlarged lymph nodes, appetite or weight loss, dark urine, pale gums, and lethargy. The cat may also go into shock.

Treatment

It is treated with anti-malarial medicine and antibiotics. Transfusions may become necessary if the cat is severely anemic.

2. Borreliosis

Commonly known as Lyme disease, it is transmitted by deer ticks. The disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. For the disease to be transmitted to the cat, it takes about 48 hours. So early detection and removal of the tick is key.

Symptoms

Fever, low appetite, and swelling in the joints and lymph nodes. If the infection is severe, it may affect your cat’s heart, kidney, and nervous system.

Treatment

The treatment is usually a course of antibiotics ingested orally.

3. Cytauxzoonosis

Also called bobcat fever, Cytauxzoonosis is a severe tick-borne disease that has a low recovery rate. It is caused by Cytauxzoon, a parasite, that can cause hemorrhaging and death. Cats who survive the infection end up being lifelong carriers. The good news is the disease is fairly uncommon.

Symptoms

Low red blood cells or anemia, dehydration, trouble breathing, high fever, jaundice, and depression.

Treatment

To be effective, treatment must be immediate and aggressive. It involves a combination of anti-malarial and antibiotic drugs, IV, and supplementary care.

4. Ehrlichiosis

It is relatively uncommon among cats. It is a rickettsial disease caused by Ehrlichia canis and Ehrlichia risticii. These bacteria are parasitic in nature and eventually destroy the infected cells.

Symptoms

Appetite loss, weight loss, diarrhea, fever, swollen lymph nodes and joints, fatigue, depression, trouble breathing, eye discharge, and vomiting.

Treatment

Antibiotics are the primary recourse. If the infection is severe, transfusions, IV fluids, and other options may have to be pursued.

5. Haemobartonellosis

Also called feline infectious anemia, the disease is caused by Mycoplasma haemofelis, which affect the red blood cells of the cat.

Symptoms

Mild or severe anemia, depression, appetite and weight loss, heart palpitations, breathing problems etc.

Treatment

It is treated with antibiotics over the course of at least three weeks. In severe cases, blood transfusions maybe required.

6. Tularemia

Tularemia or rabbit fever is caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis which is carried by four different types of ticks.

Symptoms

Swelling in the lymphatic nodes, high temperature, discharge from nasal cavity, pus build-up at the bite site, mouth ulcers etc.

Treatment

Though a blood test can be used to diagnose the disease, the results usually come too late. Without a definitive diagnosis, it is treated with generic antibiotics. In most cases of feline tick-borne illnesses, administration of antibiotics is the foremost treatment protocol. But as a cat owner, the most important thing you can do is prevention and control. So inspect your cats regularly for ticks and, if yours is an outdoor cat, make sure to inspect it every single time the cat comes back from a trip outside.

Read More...

Best Books to Read on Cat Training

Image Credits: Pixabay

Most people think of cats as independent spirits who can be a bit temperamental. Does this mean that they cannot be trained? Absolutely not! Cats have unique personalities that are sometimes difficult to work with. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be trained to be well-behaved and obedient companions. Cat training can be quite a task. That’s why it’s especially important to use the best cat training books that are available to you. Here are a few of the very best cat training guides on the market. Not only will these books help you train your cat, but it will also provide you with useful tricks, tips, and advice on how to manage your cat successfully.

Where Can You Buy These Books?

Most of these books are available online. These books can be bought for much cheaper online than if you were to buy them from a pet store or book shop. If you don’t want to invest in a book just yet, you can find good books on cat training at your nearest library. But you’ll definitely have a wider selection if you choose to get them online. You can even see the ratings and reviews for each book before you make your choice.

Best Books on Cat Training

Here are some of the best cat training books currently available on the market. With this assortment of books on cat care and training, you’re sure to find one that perks your interest.

1. Pam Johnson-Bennett’s ‘Think Like A Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat’

This book gives you a well-written guideline for both training and caring for your cat. The book also gives you an insight into what drives your cat’s behavior. The training lies in behavior modification through therapy techniques during playtime.

2. Miriam Fields Babineau’s ‘Cat Training in 10 Minutes’

This is a cat training manual with simple instructions to train your cat in a few effective steps. This book claims that you can train your cat by just dedicating 10 minutes a day for the job. Training your cat using this book will also strengthen your bond with your furry friend as it uses positive reinforcement as one of the prime techniques.

3. John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis’s ‘The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide’

The trainable cat explains how, although all cats are different, they can all be trained by using the right techniques. The book shines a positive light on cat training as training your cat will also have a positive impact on the bond you share. It has full exercises and tips to get you through any scenario your cat throws at you. The books listed above are written by some of the best cat behaviorists in the world. These books give you insider info on how to train your cat throughout one lifetime, while also strengthening the bond you have with them.

Read More...

Benefits of Brushing Your Cat

Image Credits: Pixabay

Cats are clean animals and spend a considerable amount of time grooming themselves. It’s probably one of their top three tasks of the day, the other two being, sleeping and eating. Brushing is one such grooming activity. Some cats love being brushed, some cats hate it, while other cats may have never been brushed before. The practice of brushing your cat is more beneficial than just the quality time it gives you and your feline friend.

Reduces shedding at home

Cats are always shedding fur, and this means that dead hair is hiding in their coats. Dirt, dust, and fleas (if they exist) are also embedded in their coats. Your cat’s shed fur may settle on household furniture or the floor, and require cleaning up. Brushing your cat regularly removes the dead hair with a brush and keeps your house and cat clean.

No more matted hair

Your cat’s fur can become entangled and form clumps without regular brushing. The clusters formed are painful, uncomfortable, and may need to be shaved off. They also prevent blood circulation and can cause dirt, dust, and fleas to fester, giving rise to infections. Regular brushing keeps fur tangle-free and healthy.

Hairball free house

Cats lick themselves clean, and without being brushed, they’re likely to ingest the dead fur, dirt, dust, and fleas. Apart from being unhealthy, ingesting these particles increases the likelihood of them coughing up hairballs at home that you’ll have to clean up.   

Spreading natural oils

Brushing cats allows for the natural oils on their skin to be spread throughout their coats, giving them a healthy, shiny coat. Spreading natural oils also prevents irritation and dryness.

Promotes blood circulation   

Flakes under the coat can be removed through regular brushing, improving blood circulation. Improved blood circulation keeps the skin healthy and maintains the overall health of cats.

Detect bumps and skin abnormalities

With regular brushing, it is possible to monitor your cat’s condition and watch out for any abnormalities in their skin that may require a vet’s attention.

Stress buster

Many cats enjoy being brushed and purr incessantly to express their delight. Brushing can provide tremendous relief from stress and improve the overall wellbeing of cats that enjoy it.

Time to bond

Brushing your cat serves as a wonderful way to bond. Older cats especially rely on it since they may have trouble grooming themselves.  With all the benefits that are brushing offers, it’s crucial to include it as a part of your regular grooming plan. Don’t ambush your cat if he’s not accustomed to being brushed. Start slow, choose a brush he’s comfortable with, and ease him into it. The benefits are worth it!

Read More...

Top 10 Facts About Ticks

Image Credits: Pixabay

Most of us are aware of ticks. However, we do not know much about them. What are they? How are they harmful? How can they be prevented? If you are interested in learning more about ticks, here are ten tick-related facts for you –

  1. Ticks are not insects. No, ticks are arachnids. So, they are more closely related to spiders and scorpions.
  2. Ticks undergo four life stages. These are egg, larva, nymph, and mature. Ticks need host blood to feed on in every stage barring the first. They die if they cannot latch onto an animal host after they’ve progressed into the larva stage of their life cycle.
  3. Ticks can take upto three years to reach full maturity.
  4. Ticks are best treated with prescription medication as they are small in size and can be hard to find on your own.
  5. The different kinds of tick species number upto 900. About 90 of these are found in the continental US alone. They carry diseases such as Alpha-gal, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme disease.
  6. Ticks prefer to feed on different host types in the different stages of their life.
  7. Tick infestations are more common in dogs than they are in cats. For this reason, it is easier to prevent tick infestation in a dog, as there are more FDA-approved treatment options available. In fact some tick-prevention medicines are not even safe for use on cats.
  8. Not just pets, even humans can contract multiple diseases from as little as one tick bite. These diseases shouldn’t be taken lightly, as they can be fatal if left untreated. Try to treat the ticks on your pet’s body, as they can attach to you and bite you.
  9. Ticks are not born with disease agents but acquire them as they progress in their life-cycle. They transmit diseases from one diseased body to another. However, ticks need to feed on a singular body for hours until it can spread disease. Tick prevention methods make use of this time needed for ticks to spread infection and kill them before they can spread any disease.
  10. It is not advisable to pick a tick off your pet’s body with your bare hands. You should try to avoid any contact with the tick’s blood. Use a pair of tweezers or another specialized tick-removal instrument. Also, always remember to remove the head, as well as the body. It is the head of the tick that bites.

Now, that you are aware more about what ticks are and how they can damage your pet’s health or cause you disease, you can take informed steps on dealing with your tick problem. Visit a vet or try out tick home-treatments – either way, take quick action and prevent the ticks from spreading.

Read More...

Why Firecrackers Don’t Excite Our Furry Friends

Image Credits: Pixabay

Diwali is supposed to be the festival of lights and calls for a celebration, but sadly, it is far from exciting for our furry friends. As we dress up, light lamps and crackers, and distribute sweets, our furry companions spend the festival petrified. It’s scary enough for pets indoors, but the fear only gets heightened for the animals out on the streets.

They hear sounds that we can’t

Cats and dogs can pick up on sounds that are beyond the capacity of the human ear. While we can receive frequencies between 20 and 20000 Hz, cats can receive frequencies between 48 and 85000 Hz, and dogs between 40 and 60000 Hz. The distressing loud noises we hear are amplified several times over, making it even scarier for them. We are capable of comforting ourselves because we know the source of the sound and the reason for it, but they don’t. The sudden bursts cause them to perceive imminent danger and can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. 

Heightened stress levels and physical decline

The loud noises and perceived danger raises stress levels of our furry friends, forcing them into a survival situation. Pets often run for cover under the household furniture and seek comfort from family members, but animals out on the streets aren’t lucky enough to do the same. They may hide in gutters to protect themselves, or under vehicles to escape the fireworks. Heightened stress levels often result in physical manifestations like shivering, loss of bladder control, drooling, and anxious pawing. They may refrain from eating and develop illnesses if the stressful condition persists. The emissions from firecrackers also interfere with their breathing and can damage their eyes.

Accidents abound 

Playing with fire comes at a risk, even for humans and accidents are common during Diwali. The risk is even greater for animals, as they may be unaware and may come dangerously close to firecrackers, suffering burns. Their stressed out states can make them more prone to vehicular accidents as well, while they frantically attempt to find safety. Cases of animal cruelty are also reported, with some people bursting crackers close to and even on the fur of street dogs.      

Lost, but not found  

Several animals end up escaping from homes and street animals often escape from their familiar streets in an attempt to flee to safety. Many end up getting lost amidst all the noise and celebration and find it difficult returning to their homes or streets.        Considering how detrimental firecrackers are to our furry friends, wouldn’t it be moreexciting to celebrate the festival of light without putting someone else’s world into darkness?

Read More...

What to do if You Spot an Injured Dog on the Road

Image Credits: Pixabay

You’re driving down the road, excited about reaching your destination when you spot an injured dog. What do you do? Whom do you call? Where do you take the dog? The questions come rushing to you, and you’re left feeling helpless because you don’t know how best to help the dog. Make a note of these tips so that you’re ready to help next time such a situation occurs.

Prepare for the worst

Keep handy a list of emergency contact numbers – rescue centers, animal shelters, and rescuers in your city. It also helps to have a list of vets who perform on the site visits for emergency cases. Stay connected with rescue groups online and familiarise yourself with your city’s rescue network. You can carry around a first aid kit with basic supplies and undergo rescuer training from your local animal shelter.

Analyze the situation

Check whether the situation requires back-up or if you can handle it yourself. Dogs have different temperaments, and their levels of aggression may vary based on injury severity. Map the nearest vet’s clinic from the site of the injured dog and stay prepared to transport the dog. If the back-up is needed, make the necessary calls and wait until help arrives.

Approach with caution

Don’t make sudden movements or ambush the dog in a way that will only increase the fear the animal already feels. If the dog seems friendly, try using food to lure him into a cage or your car. If he is aggressive, use a blanket, net, cloth, or muzzle to secure him. If the dog seems to be unable to move and you suspect a fracture, call for professional help. Do not try to move the dog as this may result in more pain and cause further damage.

Pay the vet a visit

Once you’ve secured the dog, either alone or with someone’s help, visit your nearest vet. If immediate treatment is possible, the vet will perform it. More severe injuries may require you to transport the dog to the trauma center of your local animal shelter. Get a recommendation from the vet on what is the best course of action. Vets may even recommend euthanasia in certain cases. Stay with the dog and offer comfort as much as possible. 

Post rescue care   

Shelters will usually release the dog back to the streets once he has fully recovered. If he is treated at the vet’s clinic, post-treatment care can be done in a foster home or rescuer’s home until he heals. Whatever the outcome, you’ll be happier knowing that you at least tried helping.

Read More...

Lessons to Learn from Rescued Animals

Image Credits: Pixabay

Rescued dogs and cats brought into homes have histories different from the purebred animals families buy from breeders. They are either picked up as strays, or come into loving homes after enduring abuse, neglect, and injury. Adopting a rescued animal is about more than just opening your doors to let them into your house. Anatole France rightly remarked, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains un-awakened.” Bringing home a rescued animal best embodies the spirit of that quote because of the enlightening lessons it teaches us.

Learn to trust again

Rescued animals usually have dark, unpleasant histories and may take time to get comfortable in new homes. Abuse, abandonment, and fear of injury can make them cautious at first, but over time, most rescued animals transform into healthy, loving ones. Their negative past experiences don’t prevent them from opening up their hearts to new family members and trusting humans again.

Everyone deserves a chance or two

Rescued animals typically would end up in shelters or on the kill list had they not been brought into a loving home. Interacting with them reminds us that they are no different from their furry counterparts who are more fortunate. Watching them live full lives and have experiences that they otherwise could not reminds us that we all deserve another chance.

Our stories are unique

Each rescued animal has a different history, and each one’s history plays an important role in shaping their personality. Every rescued animal has different needs and adjusts differently, requiring us to understand them differently. Acknowledging the influence of the past on current behavior improves our empathy, and this can be extended to fellow humans as well.

The power of patience and unconditional love   

Caring for a rescued animal requires patience and unconditional love from both ends – the human and animal. The visible transformation in the relationship brought about by unconditional love and patience in care is unparalleled. It teaches us that love can heal and be experienced in any form, with anyone if we only open our hearts to it.

Live in the moment and be thankful for what you have

Rescued animals light up after being in loving homes and teach us the importance of seizing each day for all that it brings. Whether it’s a walk, a game of chase, playing with a ball, or the simple pleasure of food, they know how to enjoy the moment with their loved ones. That’s a lesson we could all benefit from! The funny twist is, while we may call them our rescued animals, they, in fact, end up teaching us lessons that rescue us.

Read More...

Gingivitis in Cats and Promoting Oral Care

Image Credits: Pixabay

The earliest sign of periodontal disease in cats is gingivitis, a gum disease characterized by inflammation of the gums due to plaque build-up. While gingivitis is reversible, periodontal disease is not, making it crucial to identify early signs and get the necessary treatment. Watch out for these signs that your cat’s dental health may be at risk.

Red, swollen gums

A yellowish plaque build-up may appear on their teeth, with red, inflamed gums. The best time to check is when they’re asleep or at ease. Make it a regular practice to check for red, inflamed gums and plaque build-up. If you spot a brownish build-up, your cat is likely to have tartar and suffers from severe gingivitis or early periodontitis.

Halitosis 

If your cat’s breath smells bad, the chances are that they’re suffering from gingivitis, and as the disease progresses, their breath just gets worse.

Pain or discomfort 

Monitor your cat’s behavior carefully to notice any signs of pain, especially while eating. Swelling of the gums can result in avoiding hard foods, eating with difficulty, eating slowly, or refraining from eating altogether. The discomfort experienced can cause them to become lethargic and result in poor overall health. Check for changes in their usual behaviors to know if something is amiss. 

Risk factors

Certain factors may increase the risk of your cat developing gingivitis. Old age, diabetes, feline immunodeficiency virus, leukemia, breed disposition (for purebred cats) are all factors to bear in mind while checking for gingivitis.    

Once you’ve identified the signs, it’s time to book an appointment with your vet for an oral examination. Depending on the severity of the disease, your vet may perform scaling and polishing under general anaesthesia to remove the plaque or tartar build-up. Once this is done, you will be instructed on practices that promote your cat’s dental hygiene.

Diet change    

Your vet may recommend a change in their diet to include more plant fibers that prevent the build-up of plaque. You may also be asked to give chews and add supplements to your cat’s water to maintain dental health.

Brushing their teeth

You may be given a special paste to rub on your cat’s teeth with a brush, a cloth, or your hands. As effective as this practice is in preventing plaque build-up, it’s easier said than done. Most cats struggle to get away, but you’re in luck if your cat enjoys the taste and feel of it! Bottles of mouth rinse are quicker as they can be used to spray over your cat’s teeth.  With proper care and regular check-ups, your feline friends can be spared of their dental troubles!

Read More...