Category Archives: canidae

How to Know When Your Cat is Sick

By Julia Williams

Early detection is always best for any illness. Catching a disease before it becomes advanced increases the chance that it can be treated successfully. What makes this problematic for cat owners is that felines are hard-wired to hide signs of illness. Their wild ancestors did this as a means to survival, and it’s instinctual for a feline to conceal the appearance of sickness, even if they lead the life of a very spoiled housecat.

Your best course of action is threefold: 1) take your cat to the vet for wellness checkups at least once a year; 2) know your cat well enough that you can immediately recognize any changes in their normal behavior; 3) know the subtle signs of a sick kitty. Here are some things to watch out for:

Appetite Changes

Both an increase and a decrease in a cat’s food intake can signify illness. If a cat begins to eat ravenously and always seems to want more, diabetes or hyperthyroidism could be the culprit. Eating less could mean dental problems or something more serious such as kidney disease or cancer. It’s important to be aware that cats who stop eating can quickly develop a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat won’t eat anything for more than a day, get to the vet ASAP.

Water Consumption

As with food, both an increase and a decrease in water intake can indicate health issues. Excessive thirst can be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

Bad Breath

“Cat food breath” is one thing – all felines have that to some degree. However, if your cat opens his mouth and the smell just about knocks you over, that’s definitely cause for concern. Stinky breath can indicate dental disease, infection, digestive issues or kidney problems; a sweet, fruit-like smell can be a sign of diabetes.

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How the Aging Process Affects Dog and Cat Eyes

By Linda Cole

Growing older begins the minute we are born, and how we deal with the aging process depends on our perception of age, which is just a number. Eventually, though, the time comes when we begrudgingly admit we aren’t as young as we used to be. Like us, our pets can experience vision and hearing impairments. Changes in vision can be a normal part of aging for our dogs and cats, but could also be an early sign of something more serious. It’s important to understand what you see when gazing into your older pet’s eyes. There are two reasons why their eyes can look cloudy.

Nuclear Sclerosis

Also called lenticular sclerosis or lenticular nuclear sclerosis, this is a normal part of the aging process. Tissue fibers are constantly forming on the lens during a dog or cat’s lifetime, but as they age these fibers push toward the center of the lens and become more concentrated. They form layers around the center of the lens sort of like the layers of an onion, and are transparent when dogs and cats are younger. The lens also loses moisture as pets grow older. Because the cells get denser as pets age, the lenses are less transparent and takes on a hazy blueish look.

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Dog Breed Profile: The Fancy, Mutt-Looking Berger Picard

By Langley Cornwell

Have you seen the movie Because of Winn Dixie? We watched it recently and fell in love with the big, scruffy mutt that played the title role. But wait – was the role of Winn Dixie really played by a mixed breed? Many famous animal actors really are mutts. For instance, the famous Higgins of Petticoat Junction and Benji fame was a rescued shelter mutt, so it’s entirely possible that Winn Dixie was too. Curious, I decided to research it and discovered that he wasn’t a mutt at all. Even though the dog that played Winn Dixie looked like a shaggy, loveable cross between several breeds, he was actually a Berger Picard.

Pronounced “bare ZHAY pee CARR,” the Berger Picard is a rare French purebred dog whose origins date back to the ninth century. This herding breed is also referred to as a Picardy Shepherd.

Background

The breed was introduced to northern France by the Celts in the ninth century. The Berger Picard became useful for herding sheep and cattle as well as for smuggling tobacco and other contraband across the borders between France and Belgium. In the early 1900s, the Berger Picard was considered a legitimate breed and the first breed standards were written.

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Five Funny Things People Do with Their Dogs

fBy Laurie Darroch

A dog is not a human no matter how much we dog lovers try to give them human qualities or read human qualities into their interactions with us. People who love their dogs like family often do things that an outsider might find humorous or even downright silly. The fact is, we humans can be just as funny in our interactions with our dogs as they are with us.

Conversations

Our dogs are our companions. It is a normal thing to want to talk to them. Although dogs pick up on cues, voice inflection, and body language, and they do understand the association with particular words, they really do not have the language comprehension we give often them credit for.

I know I am often guilty of this odd behavior as I chatter on to my dog, Neela. When she sits in front of me with her head tilted as if she is trying her hardest to understand what I am saying to her, or she seems to be searching for a familiar word association that she can grasp, it is comical. The confused head tilt is very endearing to me.

I tell my dog about everything going on in my life. I also carry on deep one-sided discussions about life or daily events, and I even read my writing to her at times. She is probably thinking something like “Did she say the word treat in all that nonsensical chatter?” or “Are we going on a walk yet?”

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The Weather Channel’s Canine Hero: Butler the Therapy Dog

By Linda Cole

In the summer of 2013, an 18 month old Shepherd mix named Butler found himself in a Charlotte, NC shelter. When representatives from The Weather Channel (TWC) and the American Humane Association (AHA) visited the shelter, Butler had no way of knowing that this encounter would change his life and set him on a path to become a canine hero as The Weather Channel’s official therapy dog.

Natural disasters happen and your best defense is to have a plan, an emergency kit for your family and pets, and safe shelter for all. Recently, I talked with Butler’s owner/trainer/handler, Dr. Amy McCullough from the AHA, to learn more about the importance of therapy dogs in helping victims of natural disasters.

For the past few years, the AHA and TWC have provided tips for pet owners on disaster preparedness and related content online. In late 2013 they joined forces on a new initiative to help communities before and after a storm with lifesaving information, along with reaching out to help storm victims recover and heal. Butler’s role will be to provide animal-assisted therapy to those who need a comforting paw.

Amy was a member of the team that was searching shelters nationwide for just the right dog. “In addition to viewers submitting photos and videos of potential candidates online, I visited four shelters in four states in four days, meeting over 100 dogs. Butler was the second dog I met, and I knew he was the one.” The right dog needed to be at least a year old, in good health, able to get along well with other dogs, remain calm and enjoy meeting new people. “When I met Butler, he was playing with his friends in the shelter, but kept coming up to me seeking attention and affection,” Amy said. She adopted Butler, her third therapy dog, on January 22, 2014.

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How to Help a Scared Rescue Dog Acclimate to You

By Laurie Darroch

Adopting a rescue dog is a wonderful way to bring a new canine family member into the home. However, some rescue dogs are frightened by humans because of bad experiences with previous owners or homelessness which did not give them any bonding experience with humans. It takes patience and understanding to deal with a scared rescue dog and to help them acclimate to you and to their new home.

A skittish rescue dog may show his fear by being overly timid, withdrawn and untrusting or displaying signs of depression. Some may feel threatened by new people, situations and surroundings.

Warm Up to a New Home

When you first bring home a rescue dog, keep them confined to one area so they don’t feel so overwhelmed. Let them slowly get used to the new smells, sounds and sights around them. At first, your new rescue pet may seem jumpy, unsure and unable to relax. Keep the environment stress free for them. Use gentle commands, soft voices and quiet surroundings until they feel more at ease. They will eventually get used to the stimulation, but in the beginning, keep it a controlled non-threatening environment for them. As your dog begins to explore and perhaps timidly reach out, they will learn that your home is their home and it’s a safe place to be.

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