Fleas And Your Pet

UNDERSTANDING THE FLEA

For millions of pets and people, the tiny flea is a remorseless enemy. The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouthparts to pierce the skin and siphon blood.

When a flea bites your pet, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of pets become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of pets – flea allergy dermatitis.

If your pet develops hypersensitivity to flea saliva, many changes may result.

  • A small hive may develop at the site of the fleabite, which either heals or develops into a tiny red bump that eventually crusts.
  • The pet may scratch and chew at himself until the area is hairless, raw and weeping serum (“hot spots”). This can cause hair loss, redness, scaling, bacterial infection and increased pigmentation of the skin.

Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your pet may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your pet carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. When moistened, flea dirt turns a reddish brown because it contains blood. If one pet in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.

If you see tapeworm segments in your pet’s stool, he may have had fleas at one time or may still have them. The flea can act as an intermediate host of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Through grooming or biting, the animal ingests an adult flea containing tapeworm eggs. Once released the tapeworm grows to maturity in the small intestine. The cycle can take less than a month, so a key to tapeworm prevention is flea control. Anemia also may be a complication of flea infestation especially in young kittens and puppies.

THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE FLEA

The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

  • Eggs. The adult flea uses your pet as a place to take its blood meals and breed. Fleas either lay eggs directly on the pet where they may drop off, or deposit eggs into the immediate surroundings (your home or backyard). Because the female may lay several hundred eggs during the course of its life, the number of fleas present intensifies the problem. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, cracks or corners of the pet’s living area.
  • Larvae. The larvae survive by ingesting dried blood, animal dander and other organic matter.
  • Pupa and adult. To complete the life cycle, larvae develop into pupa that hatch into adults. The immediate source of adult fleas within the house is the pupa, not the pet. The adult flea emerges from the pupa, then hops onto the host.
    This development occurs more quickly in a warm, humid environment. Pupa can lie dormant for months, but under temperate conditions fleas complete their life cycle in about three weeks. The inside of your home may provide a warm environment to allow fleas to thrive year round.

FIGHTING THE FLEA

Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot on insecticides.

In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which required leaving the house for several hours, have been used twice in 2-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.

Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infect your pet. You may even need to treat your yard or kennel with an insecticide, if the infestation is severe enough.

The vacuum cleaner can be a real aid in removing flea eggs and immature forms. Give special attention to cracks and corners. At the end of vacuuming, either vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum bag, or throw the bag out. Otherwise, the cleaner will only serve as an incubator, releasing more fleas into the environment as they hatch. In some cases, you may want to obtain the services of a licensed pest control company. These professionals have access to a variety of insecticides and they know what combinations work best in your area.

TREATMENT & PREVENTION

As one might expect, flea control through these methods is very time consuming, expensive and difficult. The good news is that currently, with the newer flea products on the market, flea control is much safer, more effective and environmentally friendly. Current flea control efforts center on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control.

It is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet’s life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments especially in areas of high flea risk is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective.

Fleas and Your Pet

Feeding Your Kitten

FEEDING PROPERLY FOR GOOD HEALTH

Kittens are full of energy. They bounce off the walls, jump through the air, and pounce at anything that moves, like toys and feet. All this energy has to come from somewhere in that tiny body. Feeding your kitten the right nutrients will keep their energy up and support their rapid growth rate.

NUTRIENT NEEDS

Cats have evolved to be complete and true carnivores, or meat-eaters. This is why they have unique nutrient needs. It’s impossible for their bodies to convert the nutrients other animals can get from plants, so they get their vitamin A naturally from a prey’s organ meat, taurine from muscle tissue, and essential fatty acids from animal fat sources. Because of this, their requirements for certain nutrients like those mentioned, and including protein and niacin, is higher.

THE GROWTH OF YOUR KITTEN

When a kitten is born, she will weigh about three ounces, and will gain a half an ounce every day. By the time she is ten weeks old, she’ll be about 2 pounds. That means she’s gained ten times her weight in ten weeks! Male and female kittens grow similarly in the beginning, but by the time they are ten weeks old, the males begin to outweigh their sisters. Also, females will stop growing at about 8 to 9 months of age, while the males will continue to grow until they are eleven months.

THE FEEDING REGIMEN

Your kitten will be on mom’s milk only until they are three to four weeks old, when they start adding solid food to their diet. Weaning happens at about ten weeks old. When providing your kitten with solid foods, give them soft, meat-based (canned food) diet. With barely any teeth and a tender stomach, this type of diet will be easier on them.

WHEN THEY ARE WEANED

After your kitten is weaned, it’s your responsibility to provide a diet that is complete and offers all the right nutrients in proper proportion. The best diet is foods specially formulated for kittens since they are more nutrient-dense. However, a diet labeled “all-stages” supports your kitten’s growth as well. The nutrients zinc, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin A & D, thiamine, taurine, and essential fatty acids are especially important. Your kitten needs all of these ingredients to support her rapid growth and development. A diet that is otherwise sufficient but deficient in just one nutrient, like zinc, can cause poor growth, skin lesions, and other deformities.

PALATABILITY

Your kitten should have a healthy appetite as long as the food is yummy to her. Tastiness depends on the foods smell, taste, and texture. If you want your kitten to be less selective as an adult, it’s a good idea to feed a variety of flavors of food. As your kitten grows up, you can begin to feed a complete and balanced dry food along with canned, or slowly wean them off of canned altogether. What you feed your kitten should be consistent though to avoid digestive upset or diarrhea. If your kitten is still having difficulty with dry food, you can moisten it with warm water to make it easier to consume.

BE WARY OF “ADULTS ONLY”

Do not feed your kitten any diet labeled “maintenance” or “adult”. Specially formulated kitten food contains 35% protein, and has12-24% higher fat content and about 25% higher calorie content than adult diets. All this is essential for your kitten to have complete nutrition. That is why it’s important to feed your kitten a diet that is labeled “kitten” or “100% complete and balanced for all life stages”.

OVERFEEDING

It’s practically impossible to overfeed your kitten from a very young age to up to three or four months. She’s going to need 250 kilocalories of energy per kilogram of body weight per day when she is 10 weeks. This is about eight or nine ounces of wet food, or three ounces of dry. The amount of kilocalories per kilogram of body weight decreases significantly at around five months of age from 250 to 100-130 kilocalories needed, which is closer to an adult. Most kittens will become adult size and weight at around eight months. This is when they require about 1 ounce of wet food or a half ounce of dry per pound of body weight.

HAS KITTY LOST HIS APPETITE?

If your kitten is frisky and playful, he is doing just fine. When it comes to his food, you should only be worried about providing him a good quality, well-balanced diet. You should always be comfortable consulting your veterinarian about any concerns regarding your kitten’s diet. If he hasn’t eaten in 48 hours, talk to your veterinarian. See your veterinarian immediately if symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea accompany a lack of appetite. In a case such as that, dehydration is more critical than a decrease in food consumption.

Feeding Your Kitten

Feeding Your Adult Dog

WHAT SHOULD YOU FEED?

Your dog recognizes that what’s on your plate is a great deal better than what is in his bowl, and you’ll probably be tempted to prove it to him by giving him a taste. Before you do, keep in mind that a balanced diet with complete nutrition is essential for a healthy dog. Therefore, your dog’s caloric intake should be monitored carefully.

Your dogs nutritional needs include plenty of fresh water and good quality food. Your dog’s food should be fed in amounts that are enough to meet his energy requirements. Too little or too much is equally unhealthy.

A lot of the dry dog foods out there are rice, corn, or soybean based. You’ll know the higher quality brands by the first ingredient listed being meat or fish meal. These foods will naturally be higher priced because you’re getting higher quality, but they are definitely worth looking into. Dogs tend to eat less of a food that is higher quality, so that helps reduce the cost. Dry food also contains a greater caloric density, meaning less water, than wet foods. This is okay for smaller dogs, but larger dogs may have trouble getting the calories they need to support their energy output since they would have to eat so much of it. The type of food you give your dog is a personal choice, but it’s recommended to give larger dogs (over 30 pounds) dry or semi-moist food.

Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are needed for energy. The amount required can depend on not just the size of the dog, but the medical history, activity, and stress level of the dog. An outdoor dog is likely to get more exercise than an indoor one. This means they will require more protein and fat to produce energy. Also, different life stages and certain special situations require different amounts of nutrients. A pregnant and nursing dog’s caloric needs are going to be greater than a regular adult, and a working dog will need more calories than a couch potato.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” cat and dog foods. Your pet’s food should at least match to minimal AAFCO values. Pet diets that meet the standards of the AAFCO will have “formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for (a given life stage)” printed on the label.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • AAFCO Standards: Check the label of any foods to make sure they conform to AAFCO standards.
  • Food: It’s your choice whether you want to feed your dog dry, moist, or semi-moist dog food. If your dog is 30 pounds or more, it’s recommended you feed dry or semi-moist food to be sure your dog is able to get the right amount of calories.
  • Water: Always supply plenty of fresh water.

YOUR DOG’S AGE

  • Puppies (less than 8-9 months): Always feed your puppy a consistent, high-quality canned, dry, or semi-moist food with a label that states “puppy” diet. If your puppy is over 30 pounds, it’s recommended you feed them dry or semi-moist food for a better caloric density.
  • For adult dogs (8-9 months to 6 years): Always feed your adult dog a consistent, high-quality canned, dry, or semi-moist food with a label that states it is an “adult” diet. If your dog is over 30 pounds, it’s recommended you feed them dry or semi-moist food for a better caloric density.
  • For senior dogs (over 7 years): Always feed your senior dog a consistent, high-quality canned, dry, or semi-moist food with a label that states it is a “senior” diet. If your dog is over 30 pounds, it’s recommended you feed them dry or semi-moist food for a better caloric density.

CONSIDER YOUR DOG’S BODY WEIGHT

  • Underweight: Make an appointment to see your veterinarian about the body condition of your dog. Consider switching your dog’s food to one with higher fat and protein and start feeding your dog 1 ½ times the amount of food you usually feed him.
  • Lean: There are many healthy dogs, especially active young males, who are a little bit thin. Consider giving them 25% more food than usual. Weigh your dog every week to keep track of their progress.
  • Chubby: It’s a good idea to increase your dogs daily exercise routine if your dog is a little bit overweight. If your dog is not limited by a medical condition, gradually increase his exercise over a period of 2 weeks. If no progress is made, cut out all treats, except vegetables, and decrease their usual amount of food by 25%.
  • Fat or obese: If your dog is not limited by a medical condition, increase their exercise slowly over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. Completely cut out all treats except vegetables. Switch your dog to a low-fat, high fiber diet and reduce the total daily food amount by 25-40%. Call your veterinarian to talk about your dog’s diet and ask about any prescription diets they recommend. These diets can be very effective in providing the right nutrition and keeping the calories down.

MEDICAL PROBLEMS

Be careful when adjusting your dog’s diet and exercise. Make sure you talk to your veterinarian before changing the diet of a dog with liver, kidney, heart, bladder, or intestinal problems. If your dog has allergy issues, certain metabolic diseases, or other medical conditions, they may also need a special diet.

Feeding Your Adult Dog

Feeding Your Adult Cat

WHAT CATS NEED TO EAT

Good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential elements for good health. The ideal diet for your cat includes a good quality food and plenty of fresh water. Your cat should be fed amounts sufficient to meet energy and caloric requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.

Dry cat foods have greater caloric density which means simply, there is less water in a 1/2 cup of dry food as compared to a canned food diet. Overall, the choice of “dry” vs. “canned” vs. “semi-moist” is an individual one, but most cats enjoy eating a combination of a dry food along with supplemental canned food.

Cats in the various life stages, including kitten (“growth”), adult and senior (“geriatric”), require different amounts of nutrients. Special situations such as pregnancy and nursing kittens can dramatically affect nutritional needs. Working cats need more calories, while the “couch potato” needs less (just like us).

Cats have particularly unusual nutrient needs. These include:

VITAMIN A

Your cat doesn’t have the ability to convert the carotene found in plants to vitamin A. His source of vitamin A must come from liver, kidney and other organ meats. If a cat lacks vitamin A in his diet, poor growth, weight loss, damage to cell membranes and decreased resistance to disease are among the possible consequences. More importantly, female cats may fail to cycle, the embryo may fail to implant or the pregnant cat may abort or produce kittens with abnormalities, such as a cleft palate.

NIACIN

Your cat is unable to synthesize niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, due to an excess of a certain enzyme. Therefore, unlike other animals, his requirement for niacin must be met entirely from niacin present in animal tissues (plants are low in niacin). Deficiencies include weight loss, loss of appetite, unkempt fur and wounds around the mouth.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

Your cat requires sufficient arachidonic acid, a fatty acid found only in animal tissue. Therefore, he requires some animal fat in his diet. Dermatitis and poor reproductive performance are among the deficiency symptoms.

TAURINE

Your cat’s taurine requirement is quite high. Naturally he’d obtain taurine, an amino acid, from muscle meats. Fish and shellfish are also exceptionally good sources. Taurine deficiency can produce central retinal degeneration (CRD), a form of blindness. Besides CRD, deficiency symptoms of taurine include poor reproduction and dilated cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease).

In addition to these dietary peculiarities, your cat requires a high amount of protein in his diet, about 12 percent in comparison to 4 percent for adult dogs. Unlike you, your cat does very well on a high-fat diet. Fat gives him needed energy, assists the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such A and E, and adds taste. Fat also adds to his needed calories, a daily requirement of about 35 kilocalories per pound of body weight.

FEEDING

You can either feed him at least two meals a day or leave food out for snacking. In order to fulfill his needs, feed him one ounce of canned food daily, or 1/3 ounce of dry food, per pound of body weight. Most young cats (one to four years of age) are very active and self-regulate their food intake, thereby maintaining a healthy body weight.

As your cat ages, he may slow down and begin putting on extra weight. Monitor his weight — if he’s becoming too fat, consult your veterinarian.

Remember, water is also an important nutrient. He needs fresh clean water daily. Your cat drinks about twice the amount of water as he consumes in dry food, though since canned cat food in greater than 75 percent water, he barely drinks when his diet consists of canned cat food only.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” cat foods. Diets that fulfill the AAFCO regulations follow the national consensus recommendations for feline foods and will state on the label: “formulated to meet the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profile for…(a given life stage).

 CONSIDER YOUR CAT’S AGE

  • For kittens (up to 8-9 months of age): Feed your kitten a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry cat food designed for kittens.
  • For adult cats (1-9 years): Feed your cat a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry cat food designed for an “adult” cat.
  • For senior cats (8-9+ years): Feed your cat a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry cat food designed for a “senior” cat.

CONSIDER YOUR CAT’S BODY CONDITION

  • Underweight cats: Feed your cat 1-1/2 times the “usual” amount of food and make an appointment to see your veterinarian about your cat’s body condition. Consider switching to a food with higher protein and fat content.
  • Lean cats: Many healthy cats are a bit thin, especially active young male cats. Consider increasing total daily food or caloric intake by 25 percent. Weigh your cat every week, if possible, to chart progress.
  • Chubby cats: If your cat is a bit overweight, try increasing the daily exercise routine. Gradually increase exercise over two weeks unless limited by a medical condition. Many cats like to play. If these measures fail, cut out all treats and reduce daily intake of food by up to 25 percent.
  • Fat or obese cats: Stop all treats except hairball medicines if needed. Increase exercise gradually over 2-3 weeks if not limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, reduce the total daily food amount by 25 percent to 40 percent, switch to a low fat/high fiber diet, and call your veterinarian to discuss plans. Inquire about prescription-type reduction diets that can really be effective while providing balanced nutrition.

Feeding Your Adult Cat

Exercising Your Dog

DAILY EXERCISE RECOMMENDED

Exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you. Young dogs and healthy adults alike need lots of it, and even senior pets need a regular daily workout to maintain their health. The type of exercise you choose depends on the age and fitness of your dog and your own lifestyle. Dogs are adaptable and are happy to play Frisbee in the park or take long walks in the neighborhood.

Exercise is one of the best ways to spend time with your pet. It’s especially important for large breed, working, and active breed types. Dogs are wonderful athletes and most adapt to even strenuous exercise, provided they have had adequate opportunity to “train” and the environmental conditions are not too extreme.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Daily exercise is recommended unless the weather is especially dangerous or a medical problem limits your dog’s activity. If there is a medical problem, consult your veterinarian about exercise limitations. Keep in mind that obese dogs and those with heart and lung diseases may have a problem, and be sure to consult your vet before starting a new regime.

Be certain your dog has plenty of water available at all times, and provide a place to cool down out of the sun. When the temperature drops below freezing, exercise should be limited, unless your dog is really used to this weather. This will often vary with the breed and hair coat. If the wind picks up to more than 10 mph, be careful to prevent hypothermia or frostbite. If your dog is shivering, get him back indoors or in some form of warm shelter. If you live in an area that gets cold and icy, remember that road salt can burn your dog’s feet. Don’t forget: even in cold weather, an exercising dog needs plenty of water.

Almost all dogs, especially those with heart and lung problems and those with thick hair coats, are likely to have trouble with hot and humid conditions. It’s better to exercise in the early morning or evening when the heat is less than 80 degrees and the humidity is less then 30 percent (avoid hot and humid conditions).

Exercising Your Dog

Exercising Your Cat

DAILY EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT

Have you ever watched your cat exercise? Perhaps your kitty’s exercise regimen consists of a mad dash around the house – a furry bullet dashing from room to room. Or possibly it’s jumping up on horizontal (and even vertical) surfaces, tearing up the carpets and furniture, or attacking your feet in the middle of the night. Or maybe it’s stalking or pawing at some moving critter, like a fly or a lizard.

Exercise is as important to your cat as it is to you. Young cats as well as healthy adult cats need periods of exercise. Even our senior pets need regular exercise to maintain their health and well-being.
We all know that exercise affects us both physically and mentally. The same is true for your cat. Your kitty can become depressed if not sufficiently stimulated. He may keep you awake at night if he does not receive enough stimulation during the day. Cats are wonderful athletes, but they generally like to exercise for brief periods only. A vigorous playtime at night may help you both get some sleep.

ORGANIZED PLAY

Organized play is important and one of the best ways to spend quality time with your pet. Play stimulates your cat mentally. When kittens play together they pick up social skills and self-sufficiency. They refine their stalking and pouncing, as well as coordination and timing required to make a kill. They learn about their environment by exploring and climbing, and they find the best spots to hide in and lie in wait for their victims.

Adult cats, too, enjoy toys that allow them to simulate natural stalking and hunting activity. Commercially available toys are often inviting, but your kitty would probably be happy with anything that he can chase or pounce on. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Roll a table-tennis ball across the floor. Sit back and watch as your kitty chases, stalks and swats the ball.
  • Wad up a piece of paper, attach an old tie around it so that you can drag the paper around the floor. Soon your cat will launch an attack.
  • Get a tall scratching post, preferably one with “branches,” that your cat can run up and down. Scratching posts assist your cat to flex his muscles and to shed old claw sheaths.
  • Provide a large paper bag or cardboard box for your cat to explore.
  • You can also buy elaborate gymnasiums for cats, which your cat might climb and explore.

PRECAUTIONS

  • Never use string or yarn as a toy. Although your cat may enjoy them, these items can be deadly if swallowed and a portion becomes stuck around the tongue or in the intestinal tract.
  • Putting your cat outside is not a particularly good way to encourage exercise. In general, the most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your cat (in addition to kitten vaccinations) is to keep your cat indoors or confined within a controlled out-of-doors area. This keeps your kitty safe from injury, animals attacks, and the spread of deadly infectious diseases from stray cats.
  • Daily exercise or playtime is recommended unless there is a medical problem and your veterinarian has instructed you to limit your cat’s activity.

Exercising Your Cat

Coprophagia In Dogs

Coprophagia is the practice of eating stool (feces). There’s nothing more disgusting to a dog owner than seeing their dog eat its own or another dog’s stool, and then to have the dog saunter up, tail wagging, looking for a kiss and a few kind words.

“Why on earth would dogs do such a repulsive thing?” an owner might ask. What on earth is the attraction in this behavior? We may never know for sure but we do have an inkling about what initiates the behavior and can surmise how and why it continues.

THE FACTS ABOUT COPROPHAGIA

Coprophagia is not an abnormal behavior for canines in certain situations. Bitches naturally consume their own pup’s feces – presumably, to keep the nest clean. This behavior provides a survival benefit as it prevents unhygienic conditions from developing in the nest; a state of affairs that could lead to disease. The biological drive to eat feces, which is implanted as a survival instinct, compels nursing bitches to ingest their pups’ feces.

In addition, many puppies go through an oral stage in which they explore everything with their mouths, sometimes ingesting a variety of non-food items, including feces.

As time goes by, the majority of pups eventually learn that food tastes better than feces and they swear off the stool-eating habit for the rest of their lives. Some older puppies may continue to eat feces for a few months, but most grow out of the habit after the first year.

Barring nursing bitches, the majority of “normal” adult dogs have absolutely no interest in eating feces.

WHEN COPROPHAGIA IS A PROBLEM

Slow learners, “oral retentives,” and pups in which habits are easily ingrained may continue to engage in coprophagia well beyond the accepted “norm” and may engage in it to excess. Such hard-core coprophagics continue the behavior long after their peers have developed new interests. Dogs like this, that seem addicted to the habit, may best be described as “compulsive.”

Below is a list of possible contributing factors though more than one may be operating in any one case.

  • The opportunity to observe the dam eating stool
  • High protein, low residue, puppy food
  • Irregular feeding schedule
  • Feeding inadequate amounts of food
  • Under-stimulating environment
  • Constant opportunity to ingest feces
  • Inadequate attention/supervision

VETERINARY CARE

DIAGNOSIS

Whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of factors, coprophagy rears its ugly head as a persistent and irritating habit that some long-suffering dog owners seem fated to endure. There are several different forms of coprophagy but, whatever form it takes, there are probably similar drives and predilections operating. Variations on the theme include:

  • Dogs that are partial only to their own stool
  • Dogs that eat only other dogs’ stool
  • Dogs that eat stool only in the winter if it is frozen solid (“poopsicles”)
  • Dogs that eat only the stool of various other species, often cats

THERAPY

There are some “home” remedies that have been practiced, but they rarely work. Here are a few:

  • Adding Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer® or Forbid®, commercially available preparations of pancreatic enzymes, to the dog’s food
  • Adding crushed breath mints to the diet
  • “Doctoring” each stool with Tabasco® in the hopes of discouraging the dog from the habit
    The following strategies have met with more success, though it is important to note that results vary:
  • Picking up all available stools (i.e. denying access)
  • Escorting the dog into a “picked up” area and walking him back inside the house immediately after he has successfully passed a bowel movement and before he even has a chance to investigate the fruits of his labor
  • Some dogs try to circumvent their owner’s control by eating the stool as it emerges and for these incorrigible few a muzzle may be necessary
  • Changing the dog’s diet and feeding schedule so that high fiber rations are fed frequently and perhaps by free choice. A diet that contains 10 percent fiber is a good option. It may work by allowing the dog to eat to satiation without gaining weight, or it may alter the texture of the dog’s stool, making it less palatable. Dry food seems more effective than wet food in curtailing coprophagia
  • Lifestyle enrichment is also helpful. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise and spends plenty of quality time with you each day. Some dogs respond when a “Get a job program” is implemented. Such a program is designed to encourage the dog to exercise his natural tendencies by means of activities like chasing, fetching, walking, pseudo-hunting, fly ball, agility training, etc.
  • Teach the LEAVE IT command
    Although some of the above measures have occasionally been found effective on their own, it best to apply a whole program of prevention for at least six months to nip the behavior in the bud. If during this time, if the dog gets access to stool and ingests it, some ground will be lost. Hopefully, though, progress will eventually be made, even if it’s one step back for every two forward.

Despite all these modifications in environment and training, some dogs persist in the habit of coprophagia. For these dogs, the compulsive disorder diagnosis may be worth considering. Some obstinate cases respond to the judicious use of human anti-depressants.

Although controversial, the obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis seems to fill the bill, on occasion at least, and it meets a couple of the scientific criteria for diagnosis.

  • Face validity: The dog appears obsessed with eating stool and compelled to ingest it.
  • Predictive validity: Extreme, refractory, coprophagy should follow a genetic predilection, occurring more frequently in anxious breeds of dog. The latter appears to be true, as the condition seems to be more common in certain breeds (e.g. retrievers). Also, the condition should, and often does, respond to therapy with anti-obsessional drugs.

HOME CARE

In the majority of cases, coprophagy can be successfully treated at home by means of a combination of management changes (exercise, diet, and supervised outdoor excursions) and environmental measures, but be wary of the occasional medical condition that masquerades the same way (your vet can help rule out such conditions).

Coprophagia In Dogs

Brushing Pets Teeth

The most common disease in pets is dental disease, especially periodontal disease. The good thing is that it is one of the most preventable and treatable as well. Aside from brushing your pet’s teeth, we can reduce and even prevent dental disease by giving the appropriate chew treats and toys, and feeding a crunchy diet. Use these steps as a guide to assist you in brushing your pet’s teeth:

  • In order to keep your pet’s mouth free of disease, the first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth. Begin with either a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums, or once your pet has had a dental cleaning done professionally by your veterinarian.
  • To begin your regimen, you will need a soft-bristled tooth brush and pet toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems and can be very toxic. Also, pet toothpastes come in flavors that will appeal to your pet. Below the gum line is a very important place to brush, so you must use a bristled tooth brush to reach that area.
  • There are numerous vital facts about your pet’s mouths that tell us how, when, and where to brush. The upper and back teeth are usually affected first and mostly by periodontal disease. Like our mouths, plaque builds up on your pet’s teeth daily, particularly just under the gum line. This plaque can harden into tartar, or calculus, in less than 36 hours! After it hardens it can’t be removed with a brush, only a professional cleaning. This is why brushing should be done daily to remove the plaque from under the gum line.
  • It’s best to pick a time of day that is convenient for you and your pet and easily fits into both your routines. Be patient and stick to it. It may take a few days in order for you and your pet to get used to the habit. If you always follow the brushing with a walk or an enjoyable dental treat, your pet may actually start looking forward to getting their teeth brushed.
  • If you feel your pet may not adjust to teeth brushing, start slow. Offer them a taste of the paste, then next time use the paste and run your finger along their gums. Repeat the process with the tooth brush. If you can, make sure to angle the brush slightly up to get under the gum line, work from back to front, and make small circles. Brush their teeth for, at the most, 30 seconds. It’s all right if you can’t brush the entire mouth at first, but the outside of the upper teeth are the most important to clean to prevent periodontal disease. Eventually, if you’re patient and persistent, your pet may allow you to brush their entire mouth.
  • If your pet is cooperative and you stick to the routine, it’s still possible they would need a professional cleaning eventually, just like us. But as long as you reduce the regularity and complexity of their dental cleanings, your goal of giving your pet a healthier grin, and a healthier life, is met.

brushing pet teeth

Barking

BARKING PROBLEMS

A dog barks for many reasons, some good and some bad. Barking can communicate things from a greeting, to a warning. A dog that barks every now and then is tolerable, but the problem lies in those who just won’t quit.

Some breeds were bred to bark, like beagles and Shetland sheepdogs. Dogs that rarely ever bark are greyhounds and basenjis. Barking is a form of communication that serves various purposes. It can be used to keep away, attract, share distress, and warn. Even people who are inexperienced with dogs can notice the difference between a muted woof of acknowledgement and a series of angry, aggressive barks.

Barking is most appreciated by owners when its purpose is to alarm. Dogs can be like a warning system, not just to warn us about possible harm, but to warn those who are potentially dangerous to us to keep away. The key is training your pet to bark when appropriate and turn it off when the threat has passed. Barking can become a huge problem to owners, friends, family, and neighbors when it is inappropriate.

WHEN BARKING IS A PROBLEM

You first need to understand why your dog is barking in order to figure out how to deal with the situation.

TO GET ATTENTION

Some dogs will bark as a way to get whatever they want from you. These individuals are pushy, spoiled dogs who persist on getting their way, insisting the spotlight and all the attention possible. The dog is usually acting up to be played with, sit on someone’s lap, be given food from the table, etc. Either way, it can be tough to ignore these barkers and easy to get irritated with them.

What makes a dog like this? In a nutshell, it’s conditioning. Everything our dogs do, we react to, even if it’s with disregard. This means we are training our dogs constantly through our actions. No dog will continue with an approach that doesn’t work, whether that tactic is crying, whining, or barking. Whatever produces the goods is what is reinforced. An attention-seeking barker is just that because their behavior has been praised with casual irregular support. There are tips to help eliminate this behavior, but it’s very important to remember that a dog barking for attention will usually try their absolute hardest before quitting. This means they will become louder and more intense before they realize it’s not going to pay off.

Withdraw attention. To the attention-seeking dog, any notice is better than no notice. Even scolding can be more appealing than being ignored. Pay no attention to the “bad” behavior and only respond with interest and praise when the dog is calm and quiet. Don’t make eye contact, touch, or speak to the dog when they are barking.
Bridging stimulus. A bridging stimulus can be used to hasten progress if the above strategy becomes tedious. This would be a neutral sound, like a clicker, that is done right when the dog begins with an outburst. It is an indication that you’re about to refuse to give them attention. With this sound, the dog will focus its attention on the consequences of its actions and, hopefully, speed up the realization that the negative behavior will get them nowhere.
Audible Punishment. Sometimes an audible punishment technique may work as a deterrent, but only with dogs that are not very sensitive. You can issue a simple command such as “No bark!” If that fails you can blast an air horn or use a “shake can” (a can with stones in it) to startle them.
Counter conditioning. Counter conditioning is training the dog to do something that is unsuited with his former conditioned behavior, such as barking. For instance, whenever the stimulus that previously caused barking occurs, like mealtime or relaxing on the couch, you can train your dog to lie down in their bed. There they will be given praise from you and possibly a food treat that is long-lasting. If the strategy works, the old, bad behavior is replaced by the new, calm behavior.

SEPARATION ANXIETY BARKING

Separation anxiety barking happens when you are not around, leaving the pet, or are about to leave. Here are the two types of separation anxiety barking:

The first type is an acute type of barking that sounds hysterical. It usually occurs within minutes of the owner leaving and it signifies panic, or a cry for help. Sometimes it’s broken up by bursts of whining. The purpose is to attract attention from the owner, or anyone, so that their misery is recognized, and hopefully, alleviated.
The second type is a more chronic, monotonous barking. This is conveyed by dogs that have all but given up on solving their dilemma.
The treatment for the problem of the acute variety is the same as the treatment of separation anxiety because it is the source of the problem. As neighbors complain of the disturbance, owners only think of the behavior as their problem, not their dog’s problem. Chastisement of such behavior is a common and mistaken answer. Physical punishment, particularly after the behavior, is not only useless but is unproductive and inhumane.
When a dog’s barking simply becomes a release of anxious energy – a displacement behavior – it becomes the chronic, monotonous type of barking. This type usually indicates that a dog has been left alone for extended periods of time for years, and barely believes in its capability to call anyone’s attention to its crisis. Because of this, chronic displacement barking is a barometer of long-term suffering. The humane resolution for these dogs is to prevent them from having to experience such isolation and futility in the future by making arrangements. Training them to stop barking will usually not work and misses the point. Punishment is inhumane. Much more basic issues need to be addressed in order to fix the problem in dogs with this type of issue.

TERRITORIAL BARKING

Since one of a dog’s main duties is to protect their home, having one in the house is as good, if not better, than having an electronic alarm system. It becomes an issue, however, when dogs who are particularly enthusiastic continue to bark far longer than needed to inform their owners.

There’s a trick in training your dog to stop barking by acknowledging their warning. Saying “thank you” or “good dog” lets the dog know that you’re aware of their signal. If barking continues after you have verbally recognized it and thanked your dog, a command like “cease!”, “enough!”, or “stop it!” should be used afterwards to call an end to it.

Positive reinforcement should be carried out when training with the “stop it!” command. Treat or praise your dog immediately after, but only when, the barking has stopped for 3 seconds. This type of training may take a lot of patience until your dog will get the message. It’s a good idea to practice this training with a “volunteer visitor” who can ring the bell or knock, but doesn’t mind waiting outside for however long it takes as you go through the training.

A big problem owners face when attempting to train their dogs not to bark at the is that they are trying to juggle too many things at once; opening the door, greeting the stranger, and ushering them in at the same time as trying to control the dog. The only way to train correctly is to have a volunteer help you in training sessions so you are able to completely focus on handling your dog.

TRAINING SEQUENCE

Have the volunteer approach and ring the bell or knock. Your dog will bark and you reply with “Good dog, thank you.”
If the dog continues to bark, say “Enough!”
If the dog continues to bark, remain motionless and ignore the behavior. Your volunteer is to wait outside. This is where patience from you and your volunteer comes in.
When the dog finally stops barking, as they all do eventually, say “Good dog!” and present them with a food treat as a reward.
The volunteer will ring the bell or knock again, and the sequence is repeated until the dog is responding more promptly.
Remember to always finish a training session on a good note with a reward for behaving quietly. These training sessions should be repeated every day for many days until the dog stops their barking quickly (less than 3 seconds) and stays quiet as the visitor comes in.
If this method fails, your dog may need a slightly more direct approach. The recommended technique is using a Gentle Leader® head halter.

Initially, you need to train the dog to cooperate when wearing the head halter and not struggle. Plan a visit with your volunteer and have your dog wear the halter and attach a 10-foot training lead. When you’re in your training session and your dog starts to bark as usual, praise the barking then say the command “enough”. If the barking continues, apply a gentle, steady, upward grip to the lead. This causes the dog’s nose to elevate and transmit slight pressure to the dog’s muzzle and nape of the neck. Keep up the tension until your dog is relaxed and quiet, then release the tension. Even though you made the quiet behavior happen, praise your dog for it.

If you are consistent in applying tension to the lead, in turn pressure to the muzzle and neck, your dog will eventually learn that it’s pretty much hopeless to ignore your “enough” command. Using this powerful, yet gentle, training tool, you will intercede and take control of your dog’s behavior.

There is also a counter conditioning technique you can use with or without the head halter. As mentioned earlier, you can train your dog to do something that’s not compatible with the negative behavior. For example, you could train them to go to an out-of-the-way part of your yard or home and relax whenever a stranger appears. Don’t forget to reward them extremely well for this behavior.

If your dog is territorial and also reacting out of fear, some of the above measures may still help, but chances of success are more limited. These dogs can be so anxious and fearful towards strangers that they may never settle down, even after you have greeted the guest. These types of dogs should be put on a “total package” program where they are desensitized to strangers. It’s a good idea to start this kind of exercise on neutral ground so your dog will be less territorial.

REACTIVE BARKING

Some dogs will bark at anything that moves. It doesn’t have to be a stranger or even something living. These dogs will bark at passing cars, falling leaves, or icicles breaking off. They are on constant “red alert” and can be very hard to live with, especially if the degree of protection you need is very low to begin with. These dogs, perhaps by nature or nurture, trust nothing and no one and will view any environmental change as a threat.
The bad news is that we can’t persuade these dogs that their mission is pointless. The best thing you can do, with your vet, is address any medial contributions to hyperactivity, make sure they are on an appropriate diet, provide the right amount of exercise, and attempt to use the best physical control possible. This treatment is not unlike what needs to be done to control territorial barking. The only difference is that the application of this training may need to be more intense.

If the barking is partly due to a medical condition like hypothyroidism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might be able to fix it easily with your vets help. If it is not, however, you will have your work cut out for you. Always remember to try to enrich the lives of these reactive barkers so they are more likely to understand what is worth barking at, and what should be ignored. A natural, genetic drive for a dog to bark combined with our own mismanagement can create a very difficult situation. Such a dog may need medication along with behavior modification therapy to even make slight improvement. It’s best to act early to prevent such behavior development.

barking

Allergic Dermatitis

Allergic dermatitis in dogs refers to inflammatory skin conditions caused by any type of allergy, and may be temporary or life-long. Aside from the common symptoms of the allergic condition itself, the pet will frequently suffer from more than one allergic condition at once. This, along with the propensity for them to develop secondary infections as well, can make the diagnosis and treatment of allergic dermatitis very challenging.

The most common classes of allergic dermatitis seen in dogs are flea bite allergy, food allergy and atopy. Atopy, or atopic dermatitis, is a hypersensitivity reaction caused by inhaled allergens, or absorption of allergens through the skin. Some other causes of allergic dermatitis in dogs may arise from urticaria and angioedema, contact hypersensitivity, hypersensitivity to the bites of ticks, mosquitos, or other insects, ear mites, or intestinal parasites. Bacterial infections such as staph infections, or Malassezia overgrowth may also cause symptoms.

The clinical signs of most allergic hypersensitivity reactions display similar symptoms, including pruritis (itching), erythema (redness), hair loss, raised red pimple-like skin lesions with a scaly appearance, hyperpigmentation or discoloration of the skin, and lichenification (leather-like thickening from constant scratching, licking, or rubbing of the skin).

Some of the factors that may be responsible for the development of allergic dermatitis include the predisposition of certain breeds, genetic factors, and environmental or seasonal conditions. Diagnosis can be complicated by the presence of secondary or underlying conditions, so other diseases and characteristic symptoms must first be excluded. Allergic dermatitis is generally diagnosed by collecting a thorough medical history, physical examination, skin scrapings, skin cytology and bloodwork. Additional tests such as allergy blood tests, intradermal allergy testing and dietary trials may also be necessary.

Treatment depends on the diagnosis of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with allergic dermatitis may be treated with special shampoos, topical medications, antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, special diet or immunotherapy. Food allergies may be treated by experimenting with hypoallergenic diets or the exclusion of ingredients known to cause the symptoms. Treatments targeted at preventing insect bites are also helpful. Discuss treatment details with your veterinarian when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

Allergic Dermatitis In Pets