How Do You Treat Rabies In Your Cat?

Image Source: Pixabay.com/

Introduction

Rabies is one of the oldest known diseases infecting both humans and animals. Although the diseases are mostly identified with dogs, it does not leave cats from its grip. Out of all viral infections that afflict cats, rabies is perhaps the deadliest as it affects the central nervous system of cats. The virus infects, replicates and survives within the animal’s body until it finally reaches the brain, when symptoms start to show. The virus is transmitted through salivary contact, entering through open wounds, which means cats can get it by means of bite from another infected cat.

What are the symptoms of rabies in cats?

To treat rabies in cats, you should understand the typical symptoms of the disease. Symptoms of rabies in cats appear in stages recognized by different behaviors. The worse part is the contagiousness of the disease; it can spread easily from animal to animal or animal to humans. The following symptoms will help you identify the disease and take actions immediately:

  1. Stage One: Prodromal phase This phase lasts for one to two days, and includes the following symptoms:

    • Erratic behavior
    • Fever
    • Mood changes
    • Excessive salivating
    • Pupil dilation
    • Fly biting
    • Solitary behavior
    • Appetite loss
    • Itching in wound

  2. Stage two: Furious Phase Beginning on the second or third day, the second stage makes the cat more erratic than before. It may start eating inedible objects like sticks or stones. Other symptoms include the following:

    • Loitering around
    • Change in the sound of the cat’s voice
    • Violent or aggressive behavior
    • Irritability
    • Disorientation and seizures
    • Loss of muscle coordination

  3. Stage 3: Paralytic Stage Also called the dumb face, this stage makes the cat unresponsive and depressed. Other symptoms include the following:

    • Protruding tongue and open mouth
    • Weakness
    • Foaming
    • Paralysis
    • Difficulty in breathing
    • Coma or death

Diagnosis of Rabies in Cats
If your cat has been bitten by an other cat that is suspected to carry the virus, but your cat does not show the typical symptoms of rabies, then it is quarantined for a period of 10 days and given anti-rabies injections. However, if your cat starts showing symptoms, then veterinarian assistance is needed for a faster treatment. The best way to tell if your cat is infected with the virus is by examining its brain. In severe cases, the cat is euthanized to prevent the disease from spreading to humans or other animals.

Vaccination for rabies
Vaccination of cats with rabies vaccines can prevent it from countering the disease. The vaccine is usually given when your cat is nearing three months of age. However, a regular vaccination schedule hereafter is needed to keep the disease at bay.

Read More...

All You Need to Know About Managing Diabetes in Your Cat

How is diabetes characterized in cats?

Diabetes is a silent killer that is affecting humans and animals, especially cats alike. The disease affects nearly 0.5% to 2% of the feline population. The condition in cats is characterized the inability of the cat’s pancreas to produce insulin for breaking down glucose in the blood to provide energy. In the absence of sufficient insulin, the body breaks down fats, carbohydrates and proteins to compensate for the lack of energy in the form of glucose. As a result, it loses weight and develops high sugar levels in the blood.

What are the symptoms of diabetes mellitus in cats?

Diabetes mellitus in cats is classified into two types: non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Cat owners identify the typical signs of diabetes in the following forms:

  • Insatiable appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Increased consumption of water
  • Walking flat on the hind legs
  • Lack of interest in or ability to jump
  • Lethargy and vomiting

How to diagnose diabetes in cats?

Diabetes mellitus in cats is diagnosed on the basis of the initial symptoms, results of physical examination and laboratory tests, and the presence of abnormal sugar levels in the bloodstream and urine. The presence of ketones, which are waste products of fatty acids in the bloodstream and urine of cats, also show signs of diabetes in cats. Ketoacidosis, a condition characterized by the presence of ketones require immediate medical attention.

How to treat diabetes in cats?

Different cats respond differently to diabetes treatment. Some cats can be administered oral medications; others need insulin injections. Irrespective of this difference in treatment reactions, diabetic cats react best to consistent medications and proper diet. Some options for treating diabetic cats are as follows:

  • Insulin

    Diabetic cats need insulin injections to be administered twice daily at home. The best part of insulin injections is they are painless, and the dose can be altered based on the specific needs of different cats. A consultation with a veterinarian helps in determining the correct dose to be administered.

  • Oral medications

    Oral hypoglycemic medications help in regulating the sugar level in the blood. Although side effects of these medications are uncommon, a veterinarian’s expert advice is needed to keep them at bay.

  • Diet

    A high-fiber, high-complex carbohydrate diet works best in some diabetic cats, but some respond even to high-fiber and low-carbohydrate diets. A balanced diet prevents obesity by keeping the cat’s weight in check.

How to prevent diabetes in cats?

The following are a few tips to prevent the onset of diabetes in cats:

  • Maintaining an ideal body conditions
  •  Feeding a balanced diet
  • Providing playtime to cats
  • Regular medical examinations

Read More...

Do Puppy Dog Eyes Cause an Oxytocin Spike in the Dog and the Owner?

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

Unlike skunks, dogs are a paws-on species, both with us and one another. One doesn’t need to look further than YouTube for examples of dogs saying “Pet me please. Yeah, there you have it, just a little bit more”.

However, this is not a one-side relationship. Studies have indicated that a positive interaction between dogs and people can benefit both species. Researchers found an increase in beta-endorphin, dopamine and oxytocin – neurochemicals that are associated with bonding and positive feelings – in both people and dogs after enjoyable interactions like play, petting and talking. Spending time with a known dog activates the same neurophysiological markers as when two attached people spend time with each other. Now, the question is “Do certain interactions have more impact than others?”

Studies conducted to unravel the underlying neurological mechanism

Dogs pay close attention to human faces, and in certain cases, even facial expressions. Although your dog turning his face to gaze at you might seem benign and routine on the surface, it plays an important role in your mutual relationship. A new study in Japan found that dogs and owners that share a long gaze had higher oxytocin levels in their urine compared to dogs that gazed for a shorter period of time. Oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, plays a key role in social bonding as well as prenatal and post-natal hormonal changes in women. So, according to the study, the gaze between a human and a dog has the same properties as that between a mother and her child.

The researchers also performed a second experiment to confirm the causal link between the act of gazing and the release of oxytocin. 30 dogs were administered an intranasal spray of either saline or oxytocin. They observed that dogs that were given oxytocin gazed longer at their owners compared to the dogs that were given saline. Moreover, this also stimulated more oxytocin secretion in the owners. These effects were not seen between the dogs and unfamiliar people.

Does co-evolution has a role to play?

This research feeds into the ongoing debate about whether biological synchronization between humans and dogs indicates a co-evolution of dog-human bonds. The researchers also investigated whether an oxytocin spike was also observable when wolf pets interacted with a known human. They noticed that the wolves did not hold their gaze for more than a few seconds. Testing co-evolution can be quite tricky. While it is an exciting idea to include wolves in the study, the differences do not necessarily prove co-evolution. Moreover, it is also a question of numbers. While 60 dogs contributed to the first study, there were just five wolves that were tested.

Read More...

Can Your Dog Survive on a Starch-Rich Diet?

Image Credits: Pixabay

It is believed that the modern domesticated dogs evolved from wolves about 11,000 years ago. The evolution involved better adaptation of starch digestion. Genetic changes came into play for this to happen. Dogs nowadays can digest a wider variety of foods. Carbohydrates, in reasonable amounts, are good for dogs. However, in excess, can cause obesity and high blood sugar levels. It can also lead to a number of digestive problems as well. Your dog should be given a wholesome meal consisting of minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

The science behind a dog’s ability to digest starch

The enzyme amylase helps to break down carbohydrates. It is produced in the saliva. The carbohydrates are broken down before they reach the stomach. Amylase is abundant in omnivores and herbivores, however, not in carnivores. (Starch is plant-based). Dogs are considered carnivores, this is affirmed by biology. This basically means that dogs cannot produce the enzyme amylase in their saliva. However, thanks to evolution, it is produced in their digestive system and added to the small intestine and in the pancreas. This helps dogs to digest starch.

All about carbs

Carbs can provide energy to your dog. (The carbs are broken down into glucose molecules in the small intestine. For the majority of the body cells, glucose is the primary energy source. Glucose is also required for the normal functioning of the nervous system and the brain. The stored glucose in the body is released in the form of glycogen). If your dog is very active, you can involve a moderate amount of carb in his/her diet. However, if your dog is not very active, then it is better not to include starch in his/her diet. The stored glucose can turn into fatty deposits, and this can make your dog obese.

Carbs can provide texture and structure to the dry kibble, which makes it easy to eat, as well as make it shelf stable. Starchy carbohydrates can keep your dog from being hungry for a long time. It also helps to abrade the teeth surface and thus prevent tartar build-up. The beneficial fiber present in the carbs can keep your dog full. It can help with weight loss and prevent obesity. Even though dogs do not require carbohydrates, including them in your dog’s diet in moderation can be helpful. According to Dr. Susan G. Wynn, grains contain certain fibers that help with the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut, which is good for your dog. They also contain various essential minerals and vitamins.

Common carbohydrate sources such as barley, oats, potato, whole wheat/corn, and so on will usually be listed on the dog food bag.

Read More...

Can Your Dog Tell If Your Praise is Sincere?

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

Your dog understands you more than you understand him. A recent study has shown that dogs know when they are being praised. Researchers were able to prove that dogs understand not only the tone of your voice, but can also distinguish quite well between neutral and positive words. This is the first study to provide conclusive evidence of language processing in a dog’s head.

In the study, the researchers scanned he brains of thirteen family dogs belonging to four different breeds while they listened to a series of neutral or praising words. They observed that different areas of their brains lit up depending on the meaning and the tone of the word.

To accomplish this, the researchers had trained all the dogs to lie completely still in an fMRI scanner for the brain scans. They did not restrain the dogs in any way and gave them the choice of leaving the scanner as and when they please.

Once the dogs were in the MRI machine, they were played a recording of Hungarian words spoken in both a positive and a neutral tone. They included positive phrase like “ well done”, “clever” and “that’s it”, as well as neutral sounding phrases like “yet”, “such” and “as if”.

Who’s a good boy?

The left hemisphere of their brains responded very strongly to the meaning of all the words, just like our brains do. Irrespective of the intonation, praising words were linked to a greater response in the left hemisphere. On the other hands, neutral words did not have any such variance.

Meanwhile, parts of their right hemispheres picked up on the emotional content conveyed by the word, regardless of what it actually meant. It should come as no surprise that words that were delivered with a positive tone were associated with a very strong coordination between auditory regions and reward processing centers.

Praising words delivered in an encouraging tone garnered the strongest responses. Not only does the dog brain seem to process the intonation and meaning of the word, it was also able to combine both of them for reward processing.

What’s the catch?

Although the difference between the involvement of the right and the left hemisphere is convincing, the results pertaining to the reward centers cannot be established as definitive. It is a very small area of the brain and overlaps with many others. So, that finding cannot be categorically stated as true with all conviction just because it rings true. Before the results are normalized, the study will have to be performed on a much larger sample set. The study also failed to check if individual dogs were prone to hemispheric biases. Studying the pattern of brain activation in wolves might shed more light on this.

Read More...

How to Help Your Dog Cope With Blindness

Dogs respond differently to blindness, depending on the condition and their nature. Dogs who lose their vision all of a sudden or at a latter part of their life, generally have difficulties with it. Dogs that are pack leaders also find it difficult to get accustomed to visual impairment.

Dogs that turn blind gradually, or who are younger, may be able to adapt to the situation much more easily. Let us take a look at how you can help your dog cope with the condition.

Is your pet depressed?

It’s natural for pet owners and pets to mope after the onset of blindness. In fact, some dogs slip into depression right after the episode. Understand that your dog needs to go through this phase of brooding before he starts accepting and adapting to his new life. While you’re on it, do not mope in front of your pet, regardless of how sad you feel about the situation.

Dogs are highly perceptive of your emotions, and noticing that you are sad will only make it worse for them. Stay positive, and talk to them as much as you can, so they know you are around and there for them.

If your dog has a reduced appetite and activity, and spends most of his time sleeping, then it’s likely that he suffers from depression. While you want to give your dog his space and time to get over it, you do not want him to withdraw and stay cooped up at home. Make sure your pet is on his usual routine regardless of his emotional state of being. Dogs like structure and routine in their lives. Maintaining a routine can help bring in some stability into your dog’s life, and make him happy.

Drawing the line on dependency

Some dogs grow dependent on their pet owner when blindness sets in. It is important to set the boundaries on dependency and helping your pet from the very beginning. Even the thought of climbing up the stairs or going into a different room can seem impossible without your help. Do not encourage dependency behaviors in your blind pet. You may be tempted to pick up your dog and help him get around, but don’t play the rescuer for your pet.

Encourage your blind dog to get around by himself, and you will notice how he slowly learns his way around the house, by using his other senses. Consistently work with your dog so he can get back to his confident self. While he may not be able to walk, run and play the same way again, staying connected with you and learning to do things by himself, will help him get his life back on track.

Read More...

Adopting and Living With a Blind Dog

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia

Dogs that go blind can take anywhere between 3 to 6 months before they get accustomed to the condition and changes. While some dogs are blind by birth, others go blind due to illnesses, accidents or age. Here is how you can help your blind dog adapt to the change.

Training and routine

If your pet has not been blind from birth, but has only turned blind recently, the transition will not be as easy for him. Some pets that go blind also develop depression. You want to get your pet’s life back in order, by helping him adapt to the new situation. Make sure you regularly talk to your blind pet, so he knows you are around. Do not treat your pet any differently; pets are quick to pick up on their owner’s emotional state.

Get your pet back to the routine, whether it is daily walks or training sessions. You want to add new commands such as ‘watch’, ‘step up’ and ‘step down’ into your pet’s training list, so you can easily warn him of hazards, stairs and others. Get a ‘I’m blind’ tag for your pet, so anyone who approaches your dog knows about it. Use a short leash while walking your dog, so you can keep a close watch and make sure he does not trip or walk into hazards.

Keeping your pet safe

Pet-proof your house, so your blind dog can safely walk around without constant supervision. Cover sharp edges of furniture and other objects, and make sure that the floor space is organized so your pet can walk around without bumping into furniture, plants and other household objects. Use gates to seal off areas that you think are hazardous for your pet. The pool area should be fenced, so your pet does not unsuspectingly fall into it. Keep the front door and the gate closed, so your pet does not wander off and lose his way.

Using non-visual cues

You will have to use non-visual cues, whether it is the sense of smell, sound or touch to help your dog get accustomed to his new lifestyle. Food dispenser puzzles and squeaky toys are a great way to keep your pet busy when you are not around. Teach your pet to get around the house gradually, from room to room. You can lead him from one room to the other with the help of treats, so he gets used to getting around the house. Use rugs or scents to help your pet differentiate one room from the other. While you’re on it, do not move around furniture or other objects, for it’ll make things difficult for your pet.

Read More...

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Life for Cats

Image courtesy: Pixabay

Cat owners are generally divided on the decision of keeping their pets at home or outside. A large number of people believe that a cat should be let outdoors, as it is their natural habitat. But there is increasing evidence to suggest that maybe keeping cats indoors is what is best for everyone.

Average life expectancy

Statistics have shown that an outdoor cat survives for an average of five years. Indoor cats, on the other hand, seem to last through their entire life span. On an average, indoor cats live for about 12 years, but there have been instances where indoor cats survive for as long as twenty years, with the right amount of care. Most people who believe that keeping cats outdoors is the better idea are of the opinion that cats become lazy and lose their predatory instincts.

Outdoor cats live a tough life

The primary reason for such a large gap in the statistic is that cats are exposed to too many hazards when they are allowed to roam outside freely. There may be predatory animals like racoons, coyotes or even unfriendly dogs which can attack your cat. An outdoor cat can also come in contact with toxic substances like spoiled foods, garden products, pesticides, anti-freeze, and so on; or they may even contract life-threatening diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia.

If you live in a busy street, then road traffic can pose a serious threat to your cat as accidents can cause serious injuries or even death. Certain areas experience rapidly changing temperatures, which can prove to be a serious problem to an outdoor cat. Your cat can suffer from frostbite, dehydration, skin problems, burning paw pads and other issues due to changes in the weather.

Make the indoors fun

Keeping cats outdoors is quickly becoming an outdated practice, as the dangers far outweigh the benefits. Moreover, it is possible to offer adequate outdoor experiences to a cat in a controlled environment. You can have simple toys that appeal to your cat, or provide play furniture that enables your cat to climb to high places.

Tall furniture, window perches and shelving allow your cat to relax in a place far away from any disturbances. You may hide treats for your cat around your house so that she can use her senses to find it. Having another pet in the house, like another cat or even a friendly dog, can provide companionship and interactive play that will keep the cat fit.

Once you have provided enough of structure for your cat indoors, you can ensure their outdoor protection by visiting the vet regularly and microchipping the cat. If you absolutely have to let your cat outside, make sure that you can supervise it and reduce the exposure to hazards if need be.

Read More...

Do You Treat Your Pets Like Children?

Image courtesy: Wikimedia.org

We often see people refer to their pets as ‘babies’, but does that mean that they consider them to be like their children? How do pets feel about their owners? Let’s see what science has to tell.

Researchers study pet-human relationships

Researchers decided to study the bond that people share with their pets by observing their brain scans. The research study evaluated the response in different parts of the brain when women were shown pictures of their children versus pictures of their pets. The woman who participated in the study had children in the 2-8 age group. What researchers noticed from the scans was that the same parts of the brain that were responsible for reward, social interaction and relationships lit up when the women were shown pictures of their pets and children alike.

What’s interesting is that the part of the brain associated with visual processing showed a higher response when the women were shown pictures of their pets, than the responses recorded when they were shown pictures of their children. So what does this indicate? Researchers say that it could mean that human-pet relationships have visual indication as one of their strong links, while human-child relationships have both verbal and visual indications. Researchers have also found that the levels of hormones like oxytocin which is known for maternal bonding traits increase when women interact with their pets, confirming that pet parents do feel about pets the same way that they feel about their children, even if not entirely.

How do dogs view their pet parents?

A different research study decided to see how dogs felt about their pet parents, and especially understand if the concept of “Secure Base Effect” existed, as seen with caregiver-baby relationships. A Secure Base Effect is observed between infants and parents. It is seen that infants gain more confidence to explore and interact the environment around when their caregivers or secure base is around.

Researchers observed dogs who were given interactive food reward toys in three cases- the presence of a silent owner, absence of owner, and presence of encouraging owner. What they noticed was that the dogs did not interact with these food toys when their owners were not present, while they showed more interest in interacting with these toys in the other two cases.

Researchers then studied an alternate case where the dog was given a food dispenser toy and left in the presence of a stranger. They saw that the dog did not interact with the dispenser toy in this case either. What they concluded from the study was that dogs felt more confident to interact with their surroundings when their owners were around, much like how infants feel about their parents!

Read More...

Training Your Dog: Reward Vs Bribery

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Some pet owners are against the idea of using treats to train their pet, some others swear by it as the only way they have been able to set some of their pets’ problematic behavior straight. Let us take a look at whether you should be using a reward or bribery method in training your pet.

How is reward different from bribery?

Food can be a powerful motivator while training your dog. However, whether food or the behavior takes precedence, can be a huge determining factor in whether you are rewarding or bribing your pet. Rewarding can help in positive reinforcement of behavior in pets. Bribery, on the other hand, will have your pet look for treats as a cue to behave well. You need to get the cause-effect sequence right if you are looking to train your dog right. Remember, treats should always follow good behavior, and not the other way around. In other words, you want to reward your pet rather than bribing him.

How does food affect a dog’s learning ability?

Food has a positive effect on a dog’s learning abilities. It enhances the dopamine levels in a dog thereby putting emotions like anxiety and fear in check. In fact it is the same dopamine that promotes reward-driven learning in pets. It is an interesting combination that can help pets train in situations that they otherwise find stressful. The great thing about getting your pet attuned to reward mechanisms is that they behave as told anticipating for the treat to follow.

So if you have reinforced your dog’s behavior through a reward mechanism previously, then he is likely to repeat the same behavior the next time, in anticipation of the treat. When your dog starts exhibiting these behaviors more proactively, you can slowly start cutting down on the rewards. Since rewards always follow the action you can decide how often you want to treat your pet for the good behavior. The anticipation for thetreats will make him continue showing the same behavior.

Keeping those rewards in check

The thing about reward mechanisms is that you do not want to overuse them, else they will not have the same effect on your pet as intended. You want to use these reward mechanisms sparingly, else it will lose the effect or the value it holds. If use the same technique as we mentioned above, you should be able to train your dog with treats, and gradually bring down the treat or reward dependency as well. Of course, you can gradually move from treats to praise or other such rewards, once your pet picks up the desired behavior through repetitive training.

Read More...