Pet Advice & Ideas

Five Plants That Can Seriously Injure Your Dog

Dr Jane Bicks

If you’re a dog lover, thoughts of summertime conjure memories of long evening strolls and outdoor recreation with your dog. In fact, you may have already started this summer to create new fond memories. Given that, the last thing you want on one of your nature walks is for your canine companion to be sidelined by an injury. Unfortunately, many pet parents don’t realize until it’s too late that there are menacing toxins lurking in the plants of both cultivated and wild landscapes. Plants that you are used to seeing in public parks, your neighborhood and perhaps even in your own backyard can lead to devastating effects. In what follows, I will review five of these dangerous plants so that you will be able to identify and avoid them when you’re with your dog. First up are four plants commonly used in landscaping that are actually toxic to canines …More...

Helpful Tips on Caring for Senior Pets

A relationship with a companion animal can be one of the most rewarding experiences we humans encounter in our lifetimes. In the last 20 years, medical science has repeatedly shown that having a dog or cat in your life can result in health benefits for you, including improved, self-reported mental and physical health, and even fewer doctor visits compared to no-pet people. Additionally, caring for pets can help us to develop a greater sense of responsibility, elevate our own sense of self-worth and foster a mutually beneficial bond that enriches not only our lives but those of our pets, too. More...

Why Do Cats Purr?

Dr Jane BicksAs a veterinarian, I am commonly asked “Why do cats purr?” Most people believe cats purr when they are content or happy. While cats do purr when they are content, researchers attempting to uncover the answer to this 3,000-year-old mystery are finding the answer more complicated than previously thought. All domestic cats purr, as well as many wild cats, like pumas, ocelots, lions and cheetahs. Purring can occur in a variety of situations. When cats purr in the presence of other unknown cats or kittens, the behavior may serve to convey submissiveness or a friendly greeting. While it is true that cats purr contentedly while on their pet parent’s lap, they also purr when they give birth, when they are frightened, severely injured and even while dying. Because kitties clearly cannot be content in all these situations, contentment or friendliness cannot be the only reason they purr.

So why else would they purr? More...

Tips for Better Nail Care

Nail trimming is a vital part of your pet’s healthcare routine. Unfortunately, it’s often neglected as many pet parents never receive any training about the best method for trimming nails safely. Watch this short video for helpful tips for better nail care. More...

Feline Inappropriate Elimination (Part 2)

Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is the most common lower urinary tract disorder diagnosed in cats. Symptoms can include painful urination, urination outside the litter box and blood in the urine. Stress is a significant factor in the incidence of FIC. Veterinary researchers have determined that cats with highly sensitized nervous and endocrine systems are more prone to FIC. Research indicates that felines suffering from FIC may experience high levels of stress without exhibiting any noticeable symptoms. Fortunately, there are specific alterations to your home and changes you can make in your cat’s daily routine that can help to prevent mental and physical stress. More...

Tips for Feline Heart Health

 

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Dr Jane Bicks When I consider what I like most about cats, I’d probably say it’s their mysterious demeanor. I never know why one of my cats will suddenly pounce on my computer keyboard, why another might hide for hours on Wednesdays, or what could possibly be going on inside the head of one who spends time shadow boxing in my bathroom. Just as their motivations and desires remain secret to us, they are also, unfortunately, masters at concealing any illnesses they might have. A cat can have a medical problem and even the most watchful owner may not realize it until the condition becomes full-blown.

An unhealthy heart is an all too common feline problem, regardless of age. The good news is that heart conditions are best treated when found early. Additionally, early detection and treatment also give felines opportunities to live relatively healthy and happy lives. All you have to do is be proactive by routinely giving your cat a quick home-health examination. Don’t worry – it’s easy, fun and can even save a life. More...

Feline Inappropriate Elimination (Part 1)

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Peeing outside the litter box, otherwise known as feline inappropriate elimination, is one of the most frustrating and common behavioral problems some cat lovers must endure. Feline inappropriate elimination refers to the location of the deed, and it is considered inappropriate by most cat owners because peeing on the bed, the rug, the curtains, the tile, the laundry or anywhere outside of the litter box is not considered appropriate!

What many cat guardians may not know is that urinating outside the litter box, or defecating for that matter, is a message from your cat. Cats have a natural inclination toward sand. They prefer to dig in the soil before they eliminate: that is why litter boxes are so effective, even in young kittens. Cats do not naturally choose flat, hard, or cloth-like surfaces, and they do not eliminate outside the litter box out of meanness or spite. Your cat is, in essence, letting you know that something is wrong and is asking for help. More...

Essential Fatty Acids Simplified

Mom Giving Daughter Supplement If you’re like most people, you are probably wondering, “What are essential fatty acids?” Or, “How could something with the word ‘fat’ in it be good for me?” The short answer is essential fatty acids (or EFA’s) are essential because our bodies alone cannot produce them – they must be obtained through our diet. EFA’s are long molecules that are used in the construction of the walls of our cells, known as the cell membranes. The cell membranes are critical for both nutritional processes and the excretion of toxic waste products. Without EFA’s, the body cannot make or repair cell membranes correctly. EFA’s also regulate bodily functions such as blood pressure, clotting, fertility, heart rate and immunity. For these reasons, they are often referred to as “good fats”.

Now that you know a little more about essential fatty acids, you may wonder, “Are there different types of EFA’s?” And if so, “What are the differences?” More...

Are all Omega-3s Created Equal?

Girl Pondering There seems to be a lot of confusion out there as to the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This article will break down the major sources of omega-3’s and give you the information you need to make educated choices.

First, there are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA, EPA and ALA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) are found in fish and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid ) is found in plants like flaxseed. When you choose an omega-3 source, we suggest that you select a healthy balance of all fatty acids, but make sure you are getting enough EPA and DHA, as these fatty acids are responsible for the majority of the health benefits of omega-3’s.

This is important to remember: if a food or supplement states it is high in omega-3, it does not necessarily mean it is high in EPA and DHA. For example, although flaxseed oil is six times richer than most fish oils in omega-3’s, flaxseed oil contains mainly ALA, not DHA and EPA. Unfortunately, our bodies can only convert ALA into DHA and EPA in very small amounts. Scientific studies have revealed that fatty acids from fish or fish oil, but not flaxseed oil, benefited patients with cardiovascular disease and ADHD. More...

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Digestive Health

A review of how probiotics work and why they are so important to good health.

Probiotics have received a great deal of attention lately, and this focus is absolutely justified. An increasing number of products, from yogurts to pet foods, contain probiotics. Often referred to as “healthy” and/or “friendly” bacteria (or microorganisms) in the media, their proper notation is “direct fed microbials” when used in pet foods. Basically, probiotics are helpful bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract. In fact, every digestive system contains millions of bacteria, both those with a healthful purpose (like probiotics) and some that are not so beneficial. While some kinds of bacteria can be harmful, many (like direct fed microbials) actually help the immune system adapt to internal changes within the body and thus naturally support good health. More...