A few weeks ago we had a post on controlling flatulence in pets where we talked about the eating behavior of some dogs where they gulp down food so fast that they swallow bellows of air with it. If your dog is eating his food fast, and exhibits obsessive behavior towards his food, don’t worry. You can modify the behavior of your pet for the better.
Why is it bad to gulp the food down?
If your pet is a fast eater, then he won’t chew his food properly and a big, unbroken piece can cause gagging or choking. It is also a sign of greedy behavior and can cause your pet to become aggressive if allowed to fester. If he thinks that anybody is competing for his food, he will become even more aggressive. The rapid gulping can also cause dilatation (swelling) of the stomach. As it expands, it twists around on the axis, thereby restricting the passage of food to the intestine. This can be extremely dangerous as your dog can go into a shock and die faster than you can do anything about it.
What causes it?
Although the exact reason is unclear, littermate competition can explain some of it. Puppies tend to compete for the mother’s milk before it gets over. If you see a more markedly greedy behavior when other animals are around, it is a sign that your dog had some trouble during nursing. Also, there are certain medical conditions which can cause this behavior. Your pet could be infected with parasites which affect his ability to absorb nutrients properly. If the food is not nutritionally adequate, it would leave him hungry even after eating which can cause him to get greedy with it.
What can you do about it?
There are many solutions to this problem. You can try placing objects like balls or toys in the food bowl so that your dog is forced to eat around it, thereby preventing him from gulping it down too fast. You can also place a small bowl inside the large one to partition the meal. Pour food into the space between the bowls. He can only eat from the narrow space between the bowls. You can also try feeding him small meals at regular intervals through the day so that he cannot consume a lot in one go.
If you are a biker, we are sure you are familiar of those guilty pangs that lunge at you every time you buckle up and sneak out for a ride while your dog whines away sadly, knowing very well that you are off to have a good time without him. Granted, your worries are not unwarranted. Your dog might not be able to keep up or his leash might get caught in the wheels of the bike. Here are some basic steps you can take to ensure that you no longer need to leave your canine companion behind every time you set out.
If your pet dog has the stamina and energy to jog along side the bike as you ride, this is a great way for him to get some exercise. However, even if your dog seems to be in the pink of his health, you should consult his vet to make sure that it is a good idea for him to start a new routine. The vet will make sure that your dog does not have any sort of underlying condition which can be exacerbated by heavy exercise. Most importantly, if your dog is obese, going headlong into a new jogging routine might not be the best idea. It is better to start off with regular walking first.
Once you are in the clear, purchase all the necessary gear. The essentials include – a new body harness (attaching the leash to the neck might be risky. It is safer to go for a whole body harness), a lead that does not get tangled, a bright reflective vest (you can stick reflective tape to the vest), blinking lights for both the bike and the dog (go for a light-embedded collar or a small attachable light), a first aid kit for emergencies, an extra set of leads for purposes other than jogging as well as water bottles. Getting used to it
If your dog has no experience jogging along to your bike, start off by walking your dog on one side and the bike on the other to get him used to the idea. Try using soft and grassy paths. When you take your dog along for the practice runs, teach him the commands for making turns, slowing down, or garnering the attention if he is distracted. Choose specific words so that there is no possibility of confusion with the words that you can encounter on the street every day. Don’t expect him to run the half marathon when you start out. Understand that, just like us, they need time to acclimatise themselves to a new routine. Build up the speed and distance over a period of time. If he is tired or panting, stop a break and let him get hydrated. Go for positive reinforcement by giving your dog a treat during the break. But make sure you do not overdo it. It is not a good idea to mix exercise and food.
We have a steady stream of new pet medication flooding the market every day, aimed at improving the efficacy and safety of veterinary medicine. However, not a lot of us know everything that goes on in the hospital pharmacy. It is extremely important to understand the side effects of pet medication before you give it to your pet. Pharmacies must only use high quality, fresh pet medication as per the directions. Moreover, not all drugs are effective or safe for all cats and dogs across the board.
You need to contact the vet if you have any questions on the medication, dosage or an undesirable side effect. It is just as important to understand some of the commonly used terms:
Expiration date – Vets frequently get asked about the expiry date. Simply put, the expiration date is an indicator of the date by which a doctor or pharmacist should stop selling the product. However, it doesn’t mean that the medicine becomes useless of ineffective after that date. Drug companies must set the expiry date before the effectiveness drops so that they can factor in the time it takes for a customer to use the medicine. Basically, the expiry date is decided by factoring in the time it will usually take for the consumer to use up all of the medication.
Side effects – Side effects refer to undesired responses to medication. For instance, if the doctor prescribes an antihistamine to reduce nasal congestion that is caused by an allergy and if the medicine induces sluggishness and sleepiness, it is considered to be a side effect. Since most of the cats and dogs do not drive or handle heavy machinery, sleepiness is not a big problem. As a matter of fact, it might even be good as it would let the animal rest.
Strength, dosage and dose – A medicine’s strength is the weight or concentration of the given substance. For instance, if the vet prescribes an antibiotic to your dog, he may be prescribed a 50 gram strength tablet. Dose, on the other hand, is the quantity of medication that should be taken at any given time. One antibiotic might have an acceptable dose of 8mg/pound and another might have a dose of 25mg/pound. Dosage refers to the quantity of medicine prescribed for a specific period. For example, if your vet asks you to give two tablets at a time to your dog after meals till the prescribed amount is over, that amount would be the dosage.
It is common for dogs and cats to develop adverse reactions to some medication. If you’re looking for an ideal world where things work the way they are supposed to, you will not find it in the pharmacy. But it is a small consolation to know that you will not find that anywhere else either.
If your pet is suffering from a parasite infestation, don’t jump to the conclusion that the quickest and fastest treatment is the best course of action. Strong chemicals always pose a risk of accidental poisoning. Conversely, you might believe that your pet’s immune system is enough to fend off any infection. Both the assumptions are ill-advised. Here are a few things you should avoid when choosing a pest protection treatment:
Dogs and cats are different – Apart from their obvious differences in size, dogs and cats are essentially different species. The differences in their respective physiologies necessitate different treatment courses. Before you use any medication, consult with your vet to make sure that it is appropriate for your pet. This applies to both external and internal medications. Cats lick and ingest loose fur which puts them at a higher risk of accidental ingestion.
Don’t let the infestation get out of control – A lot of owners decide to wait it out when their pets have a pest infestation. They think that the problem will be easier to eradicate in the winter months. If you ignore a problem, you are basically making sure that you don’t get rid of it. Ticks can thrive in wooded environments and getting rid of fleas can take several weeks. Winter is not going to solve the problem for you.
Don’t hang on to visible signs – Keep your pet up to date on vaccines and stay on the lookout for health hazards like water-borne bacteria, canine parvovirus (a particularly infectious virus that is transferred among canines, especially in summer) and ticks. Do not ignore symptoms just because there are no visible signs.
Holistic products are not completely harmless – For combating pest problems, there are numerous alternative treatments that you can choose from. But check with the vet before you administer any holistic product, like essential oils. Like we said, cats can accidentally ingest harmful substances because of their risky grooming habits.
Clean your pet’s hangout spot – While a lot of owners immediately apply some sort of spot treatment on their pet when they contact parasites, they make the mistake of leaving their hangout untreated. A cleansing or spot-on treatment only kills the adult fleas on their body. The moment they go back to their infested hangout, it’s back to square one all over again. Remember to treat your home along with your pet to get rid of pests.
Indoors are not necessarily safer – If your pet likes staying indoors, you don’t have to worry about heartworm carrying mosquitoes or ticks. But this does not mean that you ignore the possibility completely, especially if there are visible signs of an infestation like biting or chronic scratching. Although fleas do not infect humans, they have no qualms about hitching a ride. Once they get inside the home, you will find it quite difficult to get rid of them.
Most pet owners understand the basics of dog-proofing their homes, but fail to take appropriate precautions when dealing with their backyard. Here are a few tips to help you protect you pet from the usual backyard dangers.
Choose safe flowers – There is no denying that seasonal flowerbeds enhance the beauty of your garden, but a lot of the common flowers, including daffodils, tulips, amaryllis and azaleas are poisonous to canines. Consult with the vet to know which plants are poisonous before you get down to planting them in your garden.
Secure the garage supplies and trash cans – Recycling bins and trash cans must be secured with the appropriate lids. Liquids like fuel, antifreeze (lethal to pets) and cleaning supplies must be stored away from the reach of your pet. Rat or bug bait and herbicides must be used cautiously and stored carefully, as they can be fatal to your dog if ingested.
Fence around the swimming pools – Even if your pup enjoys swimming around in the pool and is strong,you should never leave him unattended if your yard has a pool. Make sure to fence the pool area, and train your dog to enter and exit safely from the pool from the time he is six months old.
Check the fence for any weak areas – Even if you have fenced your yard, your pup can wiggle through the tiny holes or gaps that you do not notice. Check the fencing in your yard regularly to ensure that it is secure before you let your dog out to play.
Landscape the lawn regularly – Ticks tend to lay in wait in branches and tall grasses so that they can hitch on to the skin of your dog when he passes by. To avoid a tick infestation, trim away all the tall, high grasses and remove any debris.
Clean the sheds, decks and backyard structures routinely – Fleas live in humid and dark areas like an outdoor kennels, decks and other outdoor structures like sheds. Sweep off the patios and clean under the deck regularly. Also, make sure you remove any debris from the outdoor structures to stop fleas from gathering around in the yard.
Keep pets away from treated lawns – Insecticides are tremendously helpful when it comes to controlling bug infestation, but if you apply it heavily, it will be toxic to your pet. Avoid using insecticides whenever its possible and consult with the vet on the best way to spray such chemicals. If your lawn has been treated with pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers recently, keep your dog away from the area.
Provide shade and water – Dogs love to play outdoors irrespective of the time of the year, but heat sickness and dehydration can pose a real threat in sunny, warm weather. Give your dogs enough breaks in a well-shaded area, supply him with plenty of fresh water and provide an access way so that he can get back inside if he feels like it.