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January 22, 2016
by Lynn Merton
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Is Your Pet Depressed?

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It is rather easy to tell when one of your friends or family members are depressed. Their signs are much easier to read or they can just simply tell you they are not feeling their best. But can you tell if your four-legged friends are feeling blue? Animals, sadly, do not have the ability to communicate with us, so it is up to us to notice the signs and identify if our pets are upset or feeling sad.

Signs of your pets being depressed

As you spend time with your pet, pay attention to signs that could indicate a change in behavior. Some of these are similar to symptoms of depression in people, so they are not too hard to notice.

  • Changes in appetite: Some animals lose interest in food when they are depressed causing them to lose weight. On the other hand, some animals will begin overeating and gain a lot of weight.
  • Sleeping patterns: Like people, dogs and cats could resort to sleeping too much when they are feeling sad. Do not confuse their regular sleeping patterns for something else, as dogs and cats sleep for several hours during the day, but if your pet does not greet you when you return home or if he/she does not acknowledge your presence, then you should do something about it. Check for physical ailments, and if you cannot find any, then your pet is probably depressed. Also note that this could work differently for puppies and kittens, which might become restless and have trouble sleeping.
  • Hiding: Animals tend to hide when they are either injured or ill. So, if your dog wants to be left alone or suddenly wants to hide, then you should realize that something is bothering him/her.
  • Dip in interest: If your pet loses interest suddenly in activities like playing, going for walks, and so on, this could be a sign that he/she is depressed.
  • Licking and biting paws: An increase in chewing and licking of paws shows that your pet is trying to soothe himself.

Causes of pet depression

There could be various reasons why your pet is depressed, but it has been reported that loss and change are the usual triggers. Here are some common causes:

  • The death of a companion or a beloved human.
  • Change in location.
  • Increased stress at home.
  • Loneliness, especially in dogs.

Ways to handle pet depression

Reduce the stress at your household and make sure you give your pet a lot of attention and affection. Make sure your pet is eating well and regularly give treats. Spend time playing and exercising with your dog or cat. Take your dog to the local dog park. Make your move from one home to another as smooth as possible for your pet. If your pet is showing prolonged signs of being depressed, take it to the vet who might prescribe medication in case of serious cases.

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January 21, 2016
by Lynn Merton
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Is Your Dog Happy?

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Dogs are synonymous with joy. They spread love and happiness around and make great companions. An unhappy dog is born from adverse experiences and bad interactions with owners.

Signs of a happy dog

Your dog cannot tell you how it feels, but if you pay attention to signs mentioned below, you can gauge if your pet is happy or otherwise.

Happy dogs sleep for 8 to 10 hours every day, mostly through the night. They are very alert and active when they wake up. They seek attention from their people and interact well with the other pets in the house.

Happy dogs enjoy social activities, including walks and playing. They get excited when their owners return or during meal times. Soft and bright eyes, swiveling ears with tails held high are strong signs that your dog is feeling great. They spend the evenings relaxing with the other pets at the house or with their owners for company.

Signs of an unhappy dog

Focusing on keeping your dog happy also involves paying attention to signs that tell you if your canine friend is feeling blue. Dogs can get depressed for several reasons, including a change in home environment, the death of a fellow pet or a beloved human as well as stress at home. Dogs are also deeply affected by loneliness since they are pack animals. If you leave your dog alone for several hours during the day, there are increased chances of it growing depressed. Dogs that have faced abuse from their owners grow sad and untrusting. Neglected dogs also become very aloof and helpless.

Unhappy dogs sleep for longer periods in a day. They also display behavioral problems that manifest as excessive barking, overeating or destructive mannerism. These dogs become confrontational with their owners and with the other pets in the household. Their body language also displays how they feel; cowed postures, hunkered and dull behavior are common among unhappy dogs. Their eyes do not shine and they appear dull and display a lack of curiosity. They become very anti-social and aggressive sometimes.

Ways to creating a happy dog

Set a routine for your dog and make sure it gets plenty of exercise. Feed him/her regularly and it should be healthy. Give him small treats occasionally. Keep communication with your dog as clear as possible. Regularly, take him to the vet, have his vaccinations updated frequently and ensure he/she is in no discomfort or pain. Spend more time with your pet and encourage him/her to be more social and interactive.

A happy dog is an immense joy and a great blessing for each home, so make sure that you follow all the right directions to keep your four-legged companion as happy as can be.

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January 20, 2016
by Lynn Merton
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Can Pets Pass Their Illnesses to Owners?

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You treat your dog or cat as a member of your family and not just your pet, so you cuddle with them, allow them on the couch and beds and let your children play with them. But, do you know what your pet was doing just before it came back inside and licked your face? You can never really keep an eye on your pet all the time, but you can make sure your pets are healthy and free of diseases and parasites.

Transmission

Pets can transmit various kinds of diseases and conditions to us, so always think twice before you share food with it. The most common mode of transmission is though physical contact. Diseases passed on from animals to humans are called zoonotic illnesses or zoonoses. Another mode of transmission is through the animal’s saliva or coming in contact with its excrement. Your pets can also carry ticks and fleas that can transmit “vector-borne” diseases such as Lyme disease.

Some diseases spread by pets

It was reported that more than 100 out of 250 zoonotic illnesses were transmitted from pets to people; the remaining were transmitted by livestock/other non-domesticated animals. Here are a few common diseases you could contract from your pet.

  • Rabies: This is a very dangerous disease and all pets are required to be vaccinated. Your pets can contract the disease only if they are bitten by a rabid animal. If your pet then bites you or if its saliva comes in contact with an open wound you might have, then you will also get infected. It is a potentially fatal disease and needs to be treated with highest concern.
  • Ringworm: This condition is caused by a fungus and is very easily transferable to humans. If either your pet or you contract this condition, then you can easily treat it with the right anti-fungal medication.
  • Roundworms: These are parasites found in your pet’s digestive system. Roundworms can cause blindness and are usually transmitted through soil or direct contact. Regularly give your pets de-worming medication.
  • Scabies: This is a serious condition for dogs after a mite burrows into its skin and causes itching and scabs all over its body. This is, however, not a serious condition for humans.

Prevention steps

Since you cannot monitor your pets at all times, you could follow the steps listed below to ensure that your pets stay healthy and so does your family.

  • Regularly vaccinate your pets.
  • Keep your pets free from ticks, fleas and other parasites. Use powders and other medication prescribed by your vet.
  • Keep your house and yard clean and remove your pets’ feces.
  • After touching your pets, always make sure you wash your hands.
  • Consult a veterinarian if you suspect your pet is ill.

Always remember that preventing your pets from contracting these diseases will keep your family safe and your four-legged companion healthy and happy.

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January 19, 2016
by Lynn Merton
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How to Make Your Pet More Social

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Is your pet a social butterfly or people-shy? Veterinarians can instantly tell if an animal has been socialized. Some animals leap up and are happy to see the doctor and everyone else in the waiting room. Others take cover behind their owner and do not want to come out as life is stressful for them.

Socialization makes all the difference. It is the key to having a well-behaved cat or dog. When kittens or puppies are introduced to a variety of other animals, environments and people during the first few weeks of their life, they do better, are not as stressed and have relatively fewer problems later on in life. When they are young, they take new experiences in their stride. However, as they grow older, they become scared and nervous when they are confronted with something or someone new.

How to go about it?

The key to is to start when they are young and introduce your new cat or dog to as many new things as possible. Here is what you can do:

  • Start when they are a few weeks old – Kittens and puppies should be socialized before they are sixteen weeks old. People have a tendency to isolate their pets when they are young and erroneously think that they will get them used to different environments after a year. The perfect time for this kind of pet training is between three and twelve weeks of age. The window starts closing around eighteen weeks. The time period is even younger for kittens. If you are going to adopt an adult dog, you miss out on the opportunity to socialize. But even they can get used to people they see on a regular basis.
  • Set goals – Think clearly about what and who a puppy will be around as it gets older. Make a list of things that your pet needs to be socialized to. That includes children, crying babies, men, women, people of different nationalities, people wearing hats, crowds, and more. The wider the variety of people your pet is exposed to, the better.
  • Expose them to different environments – Take your puppy for a walk on concrete, grass, through pet stores, on quiet streets, busy streets, areas with other animals – and near trucks, cars, trains, and buses. You can take your dog for a ride in the car through different parts of the town, through car-washes, and through drive-throughs. This is also the time to get them used to being handled during grooming.

Socialization tips

  • Daily schedule – Socialize your pet every day during the first sixteen weeks. Let strangers pet your dog.
  • Reward your pet – Give positive reinforcement in the form of a small treat when your pet socializes well.
  • Give it 75 minutes – It takes puppies and kittens 75 minutes to get used to a new thing. So it is important to give them some time.
  • Go to kindergarten – If your puppy has not received all its vaccinations, sign up for socialization classes at an animal hospital. It is a safe environment and the classes are meant to introduce your pet to a variety of sights, sounds and smells, and can even assist with obedience training.
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January 18, 2016
by Lynn Merton
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Eight Reasons to Neuter or Spay Your Pet

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If you are planning to adopt a pet, one of the critical health decisions you are going to make is to neuter or spay your dog or cat. Spaying, which entails removing the uterus and ovaries of a female pet, is a medical procedure that offers lifelong health benefits and requires minimal hospitalization. Neutering, the process of castrating your male cat or dog, will improve the behavior of your pet and keep him close to home.

Many counties and states have established low-cost programs to make surgery more accessible and affordable. Here’s a list of reasons to persuade you to neuter or spay your pet:

  1. Female pets live a healthier, longer life – Spaying prevents breast cancer and uterine infections, which is fatal in about 90%of cats and 50% of dogs. Spaying your female pet before her first heat offers the best possible protection from the aforementioned diseases.
  2. It provides health benefits to your male pet – Apart from preventing unnecessary litters, neutering your dog or cat also prevents testicular cancer.
  3. Spayed females do not go into heat – While cycles tend to vary among cats, female felines go into heat four to five days once every three weeks during the breeding season. To draw the attention of males, they will urinate and yowl frequently.
  4. Male dogs will not roam away from home – Intact male dogs do everything they can to find a mate. They’ll dig their way under fences, chew on meshes and do just about anything to escape the house. Once they free themselves, they risk getting injured in traffic and getting into fights with other males.
  5. Neutered males are better behaved – Neutered dogs and cats focus their attention on the human families they live with. Unneutered cats and dogs tend to mark their territory by urinating all over the house. A lot of aggression problems can be avoided if your pet is neutered early.
  6. It is cost-effective – The cost involved in spaying or neutering your pet is much less than the cost of caring for a litter. It’s also cheaper than the cost of treatment when your unneutered pet escapes and gets into fights with neighborhood stray dogs.
  7. It prevents pet overpopulation – Every year, millions of dogs and cats of all breeds and ages either suffer as strays or are euthanized. It is the direct consequence of unplanned litters that can be prevented by spaying or neutering.
  8. Neutering or spaying does not make your pet fat – Overfeeding and lack of exercise causes your pet to pack extra pounds – not neutering. Your pet will remain trim and fit as long as you monitor the food intake and provide exercise.