Monthly Archives: July 2011

Pet Health Facts: Omega Fatty Acids

By the Drs4pets Team

Fat is the primary source of energy for your pet. The fats in food are made up of omega fatty acids, important nutrients in your pet’s diet. Not only are certain fatty acids essential for life, they also play critical roles in optimal health and vitality.

All foods contain omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid is one of the omega-6 fatty acids, and is considered an essential nutrient. One of the key roles this fatty acid plays is to maintain the proper moisture balance in the skin’s surface. This is critical for maintaining a barrier between the outside world and the inner workings of the body.

Omega-3 fatty acids come from ingredients such as marine sources (fish oil or fish meal) and also from vegetable or plant sources (flaxseed or algae). While alpha-linolenic acid is the only omega-3 fatty acid that is truly considered to be an essential nutrient, it is likely that others in this important group will make the list soon. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), have been found to be critical for good health. DHA is important for the proper development of cognitive function and vision in young animals, and EPA has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids can diminish inflammation in the joints, skin and digestive system and may even help fight or prevent cancer.

It is important to feed a pet food that contains a blend of omega fatty acids to support optimal skin and coat condition, proper immune function and to control inflammation throughout the body. Looking at the label for sources of these critical nutrients, as well as checking the Guaranteed Analysis for the guaranteed levels, will help ensure that your pet’s diet contains omega fatty acids for optimal health.

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Cat Versus Dog: Which One Makes the Best Pet?

By Julia Williams

Pet owners often engage in friendly – and sometimes not-so-friendly – discussions on whether cats make better pets than dogs, or vice versa. While there are quite a few pet owners who love both cats and dogs equally, others are adamant in their stance that one species is better than the other. Where we stand in the great ‘cat versus dog debate’ is often a result of which pet we had growing up, or a particular experience we had with one, either positive or negative. Sometimes a preference emerges for no apparent reason; it just is, and it’s how we’ve always felt.

Over the years I’ve been a pet mom to a dozen cats. I like dogs too but have only shared my home with one, so my experience with them is more limited. However, just because my BFF’s have always been cats doesn’t automatically mean I think cats make better pets than dogs. The relationships are different, not necessarily better. Nonetheless, for the sake of the debate I’ve come up with a few reasons why one might want a cat instead of a dog. Don’t think I’m bashing dogs though, because I’m really not. Rather, this is just my attempt at humor.

The Cleanliness Factor

Dogs need to be bathed regularly and even then, many breeds have a distinct ‘eau de dog’ shortly after getting squeaky clean. Cats win this category paws down because they are remarkably self cleaning. My cats wash themselves after every FELIDAE feeding frenzy, in between mealtimes, and pretty much every waking hour. Bathing a cat is rarely necessary, which is a good thing because it’s not exactly easy to do without getting shredded.

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Summer Vacation Tips for Traveling with Dogs

By Suzanne Alicie

The warm weather of summer often has us humans making vacation plans and heading out of town. For those of us who want our canine pals to have a summer vacation with the rest of the family, we have some choices and preparations to make to ensure that it’ll be a safe and fun trip for everyone.

Road Trips

Taking your dog with you on a long road trip can be enjoyable or traumatic, depending upon the dog. For dogs who like to ride and don’t get carsick, it’s a fun thing to go on a road trip. For dogs who don’t like to ride or get carsick, it can be a miserable experience for everyone involved. Be sure to take along a bowl for food and water, a fresh bottle of water and some dry dog food. Also pack paper towels and check with your vet for an anti-nausea remedy. Don’t forget the leash for rest stops and a comfy place for Fido to curl up when he’s tired of looking out the window. Read “What to Pack for a Road Trip with Your Dog” for more tips.

Vacation Rentals

Nearly all places that offer vacation rentals have at least a few properties that are dog friendly. You may have to pay an extra deposit and ensure that your dog has a crate for when you have to leave him at the strange house all alone if you and the family go out. Be sure to bring along his favorite CANIDAE treats to reward him for being such a good dog, and his favorite blankie or bed so that he feels safe and comfy in the vacation home.

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Rescued Dogs Become Search and Rescue Heroes

By Linda Cole

Sometimes you have to look deeper inside a pet to see the real spirit lurking below the surface, waiting for the right person to set it free. Some people think shelter animals aren’t worthy of their attention and don’t consider adopting them. However, many great shelter dogs and cats turn out to be a pet that saves the life of their owner. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is a nonprofit and non-government organization that provides firefighters, who are first responders, with rescued shelter dogs that have been trained for Search and Rescue (SAR) work. Even a scruffy shelter dog has the potential of becoming a hero who might one day save your life or someone you love.

Dogs end up in shelters for a number of reasons: their owner didn’t understand how to handle behavioral problems, picked the wrong dog for their lifestyle or grew tired of the dog, or the dog became lost or was dumped. Hollywood dog trainers have known for decades that animal shelters are a great place to find pets that are smart, loyal and eager to work. The pet just needed a person who saw their potential and was willing to make a commitment to work with the dog to develop his hidden abilities.

Organizations looking for Search and Rescue dogs have also discovered that animal shelters are full of untrained dogs that only need a steady and compassionate hand to teach them the art of locating people who become lost or buried under rubble after a natural disaster. Not every canine is up to the task of being a SAR dog, but many are and you only have to go as far as the local shelter to find them.

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How Pets See the World

By Julia Williams

I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked at one of my cats lounging around without a care in the world and thought longingly, “Oh Cat, if only I could trade places with you. How awesome that would be!” Our pets are so blissfully unaware of all the struggles we face just being human, not to mention making sure we are responsible pet owners. Pets don’t know a lick about mortgages, utility bills or credit card debt. They don’t ever have to shop for groceries, do the laundry, clean the house or cook a meal. For the lucky ones with doting owners, their whole life is about joy, love and contentment. They only really worry about two things: “Where should I take my next nap?” and “Is it time for me to eat yet?”

I admit, I’m quite jealous of my cats. I want to be the one who gets to sleep all day and have food magically appear in a bowl (although I don’t really want that bowl to be on the floor, thank you very much!). Life is infinitely simpler for our pets, and it just doesn’t seem fair. Why should my kitties get the cushy life while I slave over a hot computer, slinging words together just so I can buy them the meowvelous FELIDAE cat food they love? That settles it – in my next life, I want to be a feline!

So, while contemplating what it would be like to be a cat, I started to think about how our pets see the world around them. I tried to imagine what they might think or feel when they see us doing things that are commonplace to us, but oh-so-alien to them. I began to wonder…Is the life of a cat or dog as carefree as I imagine it to be? In actuality, there are some things that scare the bejeebies out of my cats. Such as:

1.  The vacuum, aka the “Suck Monster.” I don’t even have to turn this noisy thing on to give my cats a fright. The second they hear me getting it out, they run for their safe spot under the bed. Their little cat brains can’t comprehend the Suck Monster’s purpose, and I wonder if they think I turn it on just to terrorize them? Gosh, I hope not!

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Does Your Dog Bark to Get Attention?

By Linda Cole

One reason a dog might end up in a shelter is because their owner didn’t understand why they did certain things, such as bark excessively. Dogs bark when they’re playing, bored, alerting us to danger or because they want attention. Separation anxiety and barking for attention are two different things, but both need to be dealt with before the barking gets out of hand.

There are a variety of reasons why a dog might develop separation anxiety, which I explained in my article “Is it Separation Anxiety, or Something Else?” Barking to get attention is more like the child who keeps tugging on his mom’s arm while she’s talking to someone else. If Mom stops talking and pays attention to the child, an onlooker might say the child is spoiled. Dogs that bark to get attention are also classified as being spoiled. I agree that you can’t allow your dog to try and manipulate your attention by constantly barking. However, referring to a dog or child as being spoiled links behavioral problems to a word that can be offensive to some and often is not true about either the child or the dog.

Dogs learn what we teach them, and we teach them a lot even when we don’t know it. Small dogs can easily become attention-getting barkers because they are small and it’s easy to pick up your small dog when he’s standing with his paws on your leg or lap and barks to get your attention. He learns the way to get your attention is to jump up and bark and you will pick him up. Some dogs bark when they are outside and can’t see their owner. The difference between barking for attention and separation anxiety can be seen in their body language and in the sound of their bark.

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