Summer Pet Tips

It’s Summer! It’s time to play in the yard and at the lake! It’s a time for fun with your family pet.

Here are some tips for a safe and happy summer:

  1. NEVER leave your pet in the car
  2. Don’t let your pet ride unsecured in the car or in the back of a truck
  3. Watch out for fertilizer and other poisonous plants, even Cocoa Mulch
  4. Keep plenty of water for your pet
  5. Don’t let your pet play unsupervised in the pool/lake, use a life jacket if necessary
  6. Don’t forget flea and heartworm preventatives
  7. Make sure your pet has a new collar and tags
  8. Go for walks in the early morning or evenings when it is cooler outside
  9. Provide shade if your dog spends a lot of time outside
  10. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, prepare a disaster kit for your pet and yourself

Dog Collar Sensitivity

It is natural for us to think that all dogs can wear a collar with no problems; however, some dogs are senstive about wearing a collar as well as letting anyone tug on it. Many dog bites occur because the act of grabbing the dogs collar or even wearing a lead startles the dog. Today we are going to work on desensitizing your dog to collar grabs. Got your treats? Let’s get started.

Pick a quiet place away from distractions to work with your dog.

Ask him to sit (if he knows that command) and give him several treats without touching him.

Next touch his head with one hand and give him a treat with the other.

Now, touch under his chin and reward with the other hand.

Continue touching and treating, gradually moving closer and closer to his collar.

Once your dog is comfortable with being rubbed around and under the collar, start moving the collar back and forth. You will want to work up in time to how long you can move the collar or grab at it.

Keep training sessions short, 5 minutes or so to keep both you and the dog comfortable.

If you have a non-aggressive puppy you can approach this in a different way by frequently interrupting play sessions by taking your puppy by the collar, asking him to sit, praising him, offering a treat, and then letting him go back to play.

Repeat this throughout the day, reaching for his collar faster and faster the more you practice.

Nutro Cat Food Recall

Nutro Products has announced a voluntary recall of select varieties of NUTRO® NATURAL CHOICE® COMPLETE CARE® Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO® MAX® Cat Dry Foods with “Best If Used By Dates” between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010. The cat food is being voluntarily recalled in the United States and ten additional countries. This recall is due to incorrect levels of zinc and potassium in their finished product resulting from a production error by a US-based premix supplier.

For more information, visit the Nutro Web Site.

Natural Flea Care for the Green Dog

In the past, flea control has been done pretty much exclusively with chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to nerve damage and even death for some pets. With the number of pet deaths rising from chemical flea controls, we decided to look for safer alternatives.

The first thing you will want to do is clean up your yard, keep your bushes and your shrubs trimmed up. You will also need to rake up any stray leaves that are hiding under the porch areas and around shrubs; these are areas where fleas like to hide. If you have flowerbeds, consider using some cedar mulch, as the cedar is a natural flea repellent. You can also add cedar shavings to your dog’s house and bedding to help repel fleas.

In addition to cleaning up your yard, you can also use plants that help repel fleas in your landscaping. A few plants that help repel fleas are:
•    Lavender
•    Mint
•    Pennyroyal (repels mosquitoes too)
•    Eucalyptus
•    Sage
•    Rosemary
•    Thyme
•    Wormwood
•    Lemongrass (great for mosquitoes!)

Once you have the yard in order, you can add beneficial nematodes that will help control fleas by killing them in the larval and pupal stages in the soil. Nematodes are multi-cellular animals that live in the soil and are commonly called roundworms.

In addition to nematodes, you can also use a natural product called diatomaceous earth, or D-Earth. D-Earth is a powdery substance that is made from the crushed fossils of single-celled plants. It kills fleas by destroying the waxy coating that covers them. It also dries out the flea’s bodily fluids, killing them. It can be sprinkled around the yard and even on your pet’s bedding. Not only does D-Earth repel fleas, it also repels roaches, silverfish, ants, bed bugs, flies, lice, scorpions, crickets and more.

Now that the yard is taken care of, its time to take a look at your dog and preventing and removing fleas on him. You will want to check him periodically for ticks and also for fleas. Make sure you do this outside, you don’t want fleas in the house! Using a flea comb, brush your dog, after each stroke, dunk the comb in soapy water this will kill the fleas. Do this until you have combed the entire dog. If you find a tick, be sure to remove it properly. When you are finished, dump the flea water down the toilet to prevent spreading them back into your yard or home.

Once your dog has been combed, you can also bathe him in a natural shampoo that contains oils that repel fleas, such as Natural Chemisty DeFlea Concentrate Shampoo. These natural shampoos gently cleanse the skin and are pH balanced with pure ingredients and botanical extracts, you can even use it on puppies (unlike chemical flea treatments).

There are also some natural supplements that help prevent fleas in your dog, one is Brewer’s Yeast with Garlic from NaturVet. The yeast will assist in controlling shedding and promote healthy skin while boosting the immune system. The combination of the two seems to be a one-two punch against fleas and many dog owners have had great success using just the supplement.

Visit PetSupplies4Less.com and see all of our Natural Pet Products.

Kidney Disease in Dogs & Cats

The kidneys are a bean shaped organ in the lower back that filters the body’s waste and turns it into urine. They help regulate the balance of certain chemicals, blood pressure, metabolism and produce a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production, called erytropoiten.

In the kidneys there are thousands of little tubes call nephrons, these structures filter and reabsorb the fluids that keep the body in balance. They are susceptible to damage from many causes, including poison, aging, infection, trauma, cancer, autoimmune diseases and genetics. If the kidneys are severely damaged, they can function with as little as 25 percent of its original nephrons.

When damage is greater than 25 percent, the remaining nephrons are unable to compensate, causing kidney failure. Kidneys that are failing are unable to clear the blood of toxins, such as urea and creatinine. This can cause the kidneys to produce extremely dilute urine or urine that is high in proteins.

The first signs of kidney disease in dogs and cats is often in increased thirst. Increased toxins and waste in the body signals the brain that it is dehydrated and the dog or cat will drink more water to compensate. This also causes increased urine flow, making your dog or cat have to urinate more often.

This increased intake of water and increased urination causes the urine to become more and more dilute, but the urine is not eliminating toxins from the body because the kidneys are not functioning properly. This can lead to weight loss, inability to perform normal metabolic processes, tissue repair and energy metabolism. Also, because water-soluble vitamins, such as B-Vitamins are washed out with the urine, your dog or cat can also experience hypovitaminosis (or vitamin deficiency).

If your veterinarian suspects your dog or cat might have kidney problems, he will perform a variety of blood and urine tests. Depending on if your pet has acute or chronic kidney failure, your veterinarian will prescribe a course of treatment that usually contains medication and changes in diet. Prescription food for kidney failure is available from Hill’s Prescription Diet and is specially designed to assist the kidneys in processing waste. Dietary changes primarily consist of restricting the amount of protein, phosphorus and sodium in the diet.

Cocoa Mulch & Your Dog

Spring is here! It’s here! Oh wait, its winter again! Spring is back! Ok so we have been having some pretty funky weather around here lately, but we have all got spring fever bad, which means an overwhelming desire to work on the yard and do some planting! Whoo!

Photo Credit: Cindy Fong

Photo Credit: Cindy Fong

There are many people that put mulch around their flower beds or in their gardens. Most use a cedar mulch that is good for keeping away fleas. Others use what is known as chocolate (or to die for smelling) mulch that is made from cocoa bean husks. Made from spent cocoa beans used in chocolate production, cocoa bean mulch is organic, deters slugs and snails, and gives a garden an appealing chocolate smell, but it attracts dogs like a magnet!

Cocoa mulch is just as poisonous to dogs as chocolate because it contains caffeine and theobromine. Cocoa mulch contains anywhere from 300-1200 mg of theobromine per ounce, making it the most concentrated chocolate product that a dog can encounter. According to the ASPCA,

Eaten by a 50-pound dog, about 2 ounces of cocoa bean mulch may cause gastrointestinal upset; about 4.5 ounces, increased heart rate; about 5.3 ounces, seizures; and over 9 ounces, death. (In contrast, a 50-pound dog can eat up to about 7.5 ounces of milk chocolate without gastrointestinal upset and up to about a pound of milk chocolate without increased heart rate.)

Photo Credit: Nutmeg66

Photo Credit: Nutmeg66

If you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate or cocoa mulch, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center immediately.

The first signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea, increased urination, lethargy and depression, and muscle tremors. This can progress to cardiac arrhythmia and seizures that can lead to death.  Though most symptoms will begin to appear within two hours it can take as long as twenty four hours for symptoms to appear and up to three days for recovery.

As theobromine metabolizes slowly in dogs symptoms may be slow in appearing- do NOT be fooled into thinking everything is ok.  Early attention and treatment can make the difference in saving your companion’s life.

If you discover your pet has ingested cocoa mulch DO NOT wait for symptoms to appear but phone your veterinarian-poisoning is an EMERGENCY.

It is up to us to keep our furry companions safe, so in the best interest of your dog, just avoid the stuff and use cedar or rock to landscape your yard.