Traveling With Your Pet

Summer holiday, Travel - family ready for the travel for summer

“In the Summertime, when the weather is fine…” people travel with pets!

Here is a short list to check-off before you take-off:

  1. Veterinarian Phone number
  2. Any medication’s your pet is on (including Benadryl in case they get stung)
  3. Remember a leash! Many rest stops regulate pets and want them on a leash at all times.
  4. Bring a water Dish and Water Bottle, so they have something to drink out of.
  5. Dog/Cat food and Treats (Some brands are hard to find and you do not want to switch foods on a trip as it can effect the pets digestive system)
  6. Leave room for pet, when packing owners often try to cram the dog underfoot or put the cat facing backwards in hatchback.

A few Do’s and Don’ts:

DO check with the hotel to make sure you have a pet room, and verify if there is an additional charge

DO check with family so that they know your pet is coming with you and are prepared

Do NOT leave your pet in the car while you break to eat, instead get food to go or find a restaurant with outdoor seating

Do NOT feed your pet anything unusual because they could get gassy, stinking up the car

DO consider having Four Paws Pet Sitting watch over your pet, if they don’t travel well, are a puppy, or are older and are used to a routine!

Cats Don’t Count Calories

Fat orange cat sleeping

My neighborhood has a problem and it’s called fat-cat syndrome. All winter long we felines were kept indoors with little stimulation. No reason to get off our soft beds and stretch, run,  or jump. Then Spring came with it’s rain, wind and a few tornadoes. Nobody wanted to be out in that!

Now it is finally July and the blessed bugs have arrived!  The sunny side of the street has lizards ripe for chasing. I notified my owner with a yowl that signified “This cat has GOT to get out, NOW!” and she obliged.

My goal is to gather my four friends and go frog hunting. When I go to get Bubbles next door,  I don’t even recognize her! She resembles a couch pillow, all round and puffy! “It’s the beefy kitty treats. I just couldn’t get enough” she purrs. “The label says a serving size is 2 treats per day. Ha! I had no less than 20 a day since granny moved in and can’t remember whether  she has fed me or not.”

Gently, I explain to her that since she weighs 11 pounds, her total calories needed for a day would be 300 (or 25 calories/per pound for cats).  With each treat supplying 10 calories, she has consumed  half her daily requirement! That would be like a human eating 1,000 calories of butter. Not healthy!Persian Harlequin Cat, 6 Months Old, Sitting In Front Of White B

She flicked her tail at me and wobbled down the path to Tiny’s house.

He met us in the garden, his Maine Coon coat covered in dirt. “You missed an epic battle! I chased a blue-tailed skink all around the tomatoes. He got away but I got this trophy – his tail!” boasted Tiny. I smile politely, then do a double take! Tiny is… BIG. Seems to be as wide as he is tall. “What are you eating?” I ask.

“Ahhh, I have developed  a weakness for fresh cream” he replies. My warning that we cats don’t digest dairy very well doesn’t even register. Additionally, milk’s high calorie count is a contributing factor to feline obesity. And many cats have lactose intolerance, which leads to chronic diarrhea and upset stomach. If he keeps chugging the cream, I  fear Tiny  may not be able to make it through the kitty door!

Our last stop is a small bungalow where siblings Fritz and Mitch live. They jump down from the front porch and land beside me with a THUD. Whoaaa, big boys! “Yeah, we did nothing this winter. Literally. And yet the magic food bowl kept supplying us with a gelatinously good liver pate” purrs Fritz. Oh dear, this is worse than I feared! All of my kitty friends have succumbed to FAT CAT syndrome.

After we pounced on and pursued frogs for the better part of the morning, I returned home to my computer to research why so many cats get big. And bigger. Here are some things for owners to be aware of:

1. Large food portions. Read the directions and feed according to your cat’s IDEAL weight, not actual weight.

2. Free-feeding. Leaving food out in the bowl all day – a bad idea because cats will eat when bored.

3. Competition for food. In households with multiple cats, when one cat goes to the food bowl others are often driven there out of curiosity or competitive instinct instead of real hunger.

4. Too many treats, or the wrong kind of treats. (Don’t give them cheese, milk or carbs)

Help a kitty out – only feed us at meal time!

Hiking and Traveling Pet Products

chuckit-hydro-bowl-travel-water-bowl

Portable water bottles with drink bowls? Food bowls that pop up? Who thought of these things – why, pet owners like you!

Now, when you travel for a weekend or week-long trip, your pet’s dishes are more portable and easier to use. The following products are light-weight, small, and pet-tested / owner approved!!

For food dishes, try one of these three:

1. Gamma Vittles Vault TRAVEL-tainer Portable Pet Food Container
“It keeps your pet food fresh, in an easy carry, airtight, food grade plastic container. Just remove the carry handle and pull off the food/water dishes. Twist off top of the Gamma Vittles Vault TRAVEL-tainer Portable Pet Food Container and pour!” Cost: $ 8.99

2. Popware for Pets
Collapsible Travel Cup with Carabiner (BIG clip) is an “expandable food and water cup that you can latch onto your dog’s leash when you are on the go. BPA free. Collapses to less than 0.5 inches thick. Quick-release clip attaches to leashes, belt-loops, purse, stroller”. Cost: $6.99

3. Chuckit! Hydro Travel Bowl
Folds up and snaps into a compact size. Easy to clean! The Hydro bowl has a 5 cup capacity. The price point is right, coming in under five. Cost: $4.99!

Now, on to the thirsty pet problem. How often have you cupped your hands to share your water bottle with the dog? Or had them gulp as you slowly pour it out? Neither method works and that’s why there are now water bottles with a bowl attached! One of the coolest products is the:

1. PET PortaBottle Travel Water Bottle
Holds up to a 20-oz bottle of water. Flip-down bowl is attached to the water bottle, handy tether for hanging from a bike, shoulder, stroller, backpack or vehicle. Cost: $17.69

2. Martha Stewart Pets® Double Travel Bowl
2 in 1 travel bowl. “The double bowl design accommodates food and water, and the drawstring closure lets you store food for later use. The side pocket also provides storage space for treats”. Cost: $13.49

3. OurPet’s Speed-e-Drink To Go
“Just insert a (16.9 ounce) water bottle into the specially designed holder and turn upside down. The holder is designed to dispense water into the attached tray without your dog’s mouth touching the opening of the water bottle.” Cost: $3.49

So choose the style that’s right for you, then take that much-needed vacation with your furry best friend!

Bengal Cats – A Little Closer to the Wild

Bengal kitten
Have you ever admired an exotic-looking leopard print cat? Chances are it’s an Asian Bengal breed, started in the 1960’s, and they are quite the characters among felines! The Bengal is a hybrid of the Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic cat. What breeders call “Pet quality” costs from $1000-$2000 dollars, whereas a show quality Bengal can cost between $2000- $4500.

These cats are so highly intelligent, that they have been known to pull up heat vents, open doors, turn on faucets to drink, open cupboards where their food is kept, and figure out how to pull toys apart. Unfortunately, their smart personality can lend itself to becoming destructive if left alone all day while you work outside the home.

They are also extremely vocal and their social personality lends itself to “talking” to pet owners. In the evening, however, BEWARE! They are prone to caterwauling (a loud howl/cry that repeats over and over) especially when there is a full moon!

Additional Personality Qualities:
Intelligent
Extremely Active at Night
Playful
Need for Attention is High
Need to Vocalize is High
Very Curious
Enjoy Water
Confident
Territorial
Can become destructive when Bored

As far as appearance, the Bengal’s rosette spots are aligned horizontally rather than in random or tabby configuration. Their fur has a ‘glitter gene’ that gives it an iridescent glow. Three recessive coat variations have been developed: the snow leopard, the marbled (often brown spotted), and the snow marbled (pale-white or cream background). Males can get up to 18 lbs and females are quite a bit smaller, averaging 10 lbs.

Bengal’s love fresh cooked chicken, and according to vets “Cats are carnivores, so they need protein and a common recommendation is a diet that is at least 30% protein.” Plenty of large water dishes should be left out, as this breed likes to dip its paw in and lick it off. They have also been known to enjoy a shower or bath, surprising their owner! If you have a fish tank – cautionary warning – they can figure out how to get the top off and paw at the fish within!

So if you are considering adoption of this breed, there are several things to consider: how often are you away from home, if you have the time to walk this cat or have a screened-in porch for their night-time antics, and if you are looking for a highly-interactive pet.

The Bengal is very affectionate and dangerously smart – yet it is a cat that is not for everyone. If you do not want to pay the big bucks to a breeder, here are several rescue organizations for Bengal cats:

http://www.bengalrescuenetwork.org
http://www.greatlakesbengalrescue.com
http://www.bengalcatworld.com/home/breeder-directory/bengal-rescue

How Fast Did That Dog Just Go?

Speedy Irish Setter Running
So, if you have ever been out-gunned by your dog in a race, read on…

The average human runs at 12-15 mph. Even Usain Bolt, the fastest man on Earth, ran at only 23 mph for 100 meters. In comparison, the average household dog runs at around 25 mph.
When considering the five dogs listed below, average humans are downright tortoise-like!

These five fastest canines are sure to impress you:

1. The African Wild Dog (Aka Cape Hunting Dog) can run at speeds of over 45 mph. The Wild dogs hunt in packs, sometimes pursuing their prey at top speeds for 10 to 60 minutes. They have an unusual foot with 4 toes instead of 5, and very long muscular legs built to power-up for speed. With an 80% success rate when hunting, it is this genetic advantage of speed that makes them such good hunters. Unfortunately, they are now on the endangered species list in much of South East Africa.

2. The Greyhound’s speed over 100 meters is 43 mph, just slightly behind the Wild Dog. Much has been made of the Greyhounds ability to accelerate faster than almost any animal – covering 59 feet per second – just slightly slower than the Cheetah. This dog’s body combines “long, powerful legs, deep chest, flexible spine and slim build to attain it’s top speed within six strides from a standstill! Greyhounds did not develop as naturally, though, and have been bred for over 200 years to participate in coursing and races.

3. The Saluki is a cousin of the Greyhound and has been clocked at 43 mph as well, It is a desert sight hunter, chasing down gazelle and antelope. It lives in areas surrounding Turkey and is the Royal Dog of Egypt! They are an ancient breed, with “their pictures appearing in ancient Egyptian tombs dating from 2100 BC. ”

4. The Whippet was bred from mixing Italian Greyhounds and Terriers to produce a smaller, quicker dog that could successfully catch rabbits and rats. It has been clocked at 37 mph and was frequently raced on tracks in England.

5. Grey Wolves have also been clocked at speeds of 35 mph when hunting. They are considered the descendants of wild dogs that followed humans around, feeding off scraps from their hunt. They frequently gave up their lone hunting for a more reliable scavenging off human kills.

*It is worth noting that conflicting sources listthe Russian Borzoi as faster than the Border Collie. Both are in contention for the next fastest canine at speeds of around 30 mph.

The Emotional Dog

Therapy

Does your dog know when you are sad and come over to comfort you? Does  he really experience feelings of sadness, joy, distress, fear, and love internally? According to new research, the answer is YES.

Just think of the look on your dog’s face when he rolls on his back in the cool dirt or long grass. Legs kicking in the air, pure joy radiating out of his eyes – he is experiencing a feeling. Joy!

Recent studies show that dogs “ have seven fundamental, basic, emotional systems that provide the ability to react to information about what enters the brain via the senses. These ‘magnificent seven’ include a seeking system to look for food, a fear system to respond to unfamiliar events that may be dangerous, a play system and a care system to raise offspring and form vital social attachments.” – Centre of Applied Pet Ethnology (COAPE).

Now, let’s take it a step further and examine one specific emotion dogs feel: the ‘fairness’ emotion. Another study done by Sharon Maguire of the Dog Breed Info Center “Suggests dogs are able to interpret fairness, as when one dog decides things are “not fair” and reacts by refusing to obey or getting emotionally upset. Dogs were asked to perform a trick and the dog’s enthusiasm was lowered when they saw other dogs being rewarded with food but receiving nothing for themselves. Some of the dogs even turned their heads, refusing to look at the human or other dog.” The hang-dog look when you don’t reciprocate a biscuit for a trick is proof of this fairness feeling. If you have another pet in your household, then you know that when one is fed, the other expects to be, too!  Dogs sense when another animal in their house is getting a treat (they hear or smell it) and expect to receive a treat themselves.

Additional support for dogs having feelings involved a study that linked dog development to human development:

“Dogs also have the same hormones and undergo the same chemical changes that humans do during emotional states. Dogs even have the hormone oxytocin, which, in humans, is involved with feeling love and affection for others.”- What Do Dogs Know. Several articles cautioned owners not to give their pets human emotions – dogs have their own version of love – and it is a constant,  simple, toddler version.

Dogs can tell if you are upset after a long day of work, and the dog won’t understand why, but he will pick up on your energy and body language. In the Psychology Today study, researchers analyzed their data and determined “that the mind of a dog is roughly equivalent to that of a human who is two to two-and-a-half years old. This conclusion holds for most mental abilities — including emotions.  The difference is that dogs age quicker, thus going through their developmental stages faster. They develop all of the basic emotions: joy, fear, anger, disgust, and love but not the  more complex emotions: guilt, pride, shame, and manipulation. So thinking a dog has ulterior motives in a situation is wrong.

Dogs are not confused about how they feel, unlike people!

Halitosis Means You Have Bad Breath, Slider

tongue

“Really Slider, I need to get you a breath mint!” moaned my owner. What she calls bad-breath,  I prefer to think of as aromatic exhalation. After I eat tuna, fish, or other pungent scrap, my breath mimics that lovely smell!  If she only knew the bad breath our neighbor’s senior cat has. His is caused by tartar and serious gum disease. A lot of older cats get this because they don’t brush their teeth. Me, I prefer GREENIES, a crunchy treat that scrapes off some of the tartar that contributes to halitosis.

Bad breath can also be the result of a mouth ulcer, mouth sores or even cancer. This is why owners should take their kitties to the vet to rule out any major issues. I was just at the vet earlier today, being tested for: Feline leukemia and feline aids. These both cause bad breath and my owner wanted to rule out any possible culprits!

As we sat in the examination room, my gaze fell upon the pamphlet my owner was reading:

“The following symptoms will require veterinary attention:

•    Excessive brownish tartar on your cat’s teeth, especially when accompanied by drooling, difficulty eating and red, inflamed gums, could indicate serious dental or gum disease.
•    Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your cat has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.
•    Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
•    An unusually foul odor accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged corneas and/or gums could signal a liver problem.
•     Pawing at the mouth
•    Loss of appetite, runny nose or eyes, lethargy, oral disease, and bad breath may indicate Feline Leukemia”

Now I am petrified that I have that weird word “gingivitis” or even Leukemia! My eyes widen when the vet tech comes in to examine me. The worst is when she pries open  my mouth open, causing me to gag as she pokes and prods. Possibly, she is looking for the scrap of tuna I wedged behind my back teeth for later. “Good job Slider. No tartar on those teeth!”

They take some blood and stool samples, both highly unpleasant. Another long wait, then the vet comes back and states “Everything looks good to me.  I checked the blood work and Slider is a very healthy cat!” My owner thanks the her and we head out to the car, me stuffed in a stupid cat carrier.

“Well my dear, my dear, looks like you will be sipping on some Parsley tea to freshen that breath!” Fine by me, I growl, just don’t try to brush my teeth because  I will attack anything that comes near my mouth.

Recipe for Parsley Tea Breath-Freshener:

Pick up some Parsley from the organic section of your grocery store. Pinch off several sprigs and place in hot water. Remove the parsley after 5 minutes, and let the tea cool. If your pet will drink this, that’s great. If not, put it in a spray bottle and spritz that dog or cat in the mouth.

Another odor reducer involves putting 2 drops of lemon juice in the water bowl. This will neutralize odor-causing bacteria in the cats mouth.

Hot Diggity Dog!

Warning Of Leaving A Dog In Parked Cars

Many pet owners take their dogs with them to the gas station or fast food joints and leave them in the car  for “just 10 minutes.” In the summer, this mistake in judgment can be fatal. Even on a cloudy day, the temperature can rise drastically in mere minutes.

“On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes” -RedRover.

Contrary to popular belief, keeping the windows cracked open barely slows the rapid rise in temperature! The lack of shade and added heat coming off parking lot pavement speeds up the heating process in a car.

This summer when you’re out shopping, if you notice a panting dog in a car “take down the car’s color, model, make, and license plate number. Have the owner paged in the nearest buildings, or call local humane authorities or police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog and be your witness if you need to break the car window to save the animals life. Stay with the animal until authorities arrive.” – PETA.

Signs of heatstroke:
Excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy panting,  lack of coordination. lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and loss of consciousness.

At particular risk: Long-haired dogs in warmer climates should be trimmed short. Bulldogs and pugs often have small tracheas and long soft palates, which decrease their ability to cool themselves. Senior dogs and young pups are even more susceptible to heatstroke.

As a responsible pet owner, try to leave pets at home or with a pet-sitter when you travel. Don’t be like the tourist parked at the Washington DC Holocaust memorial. He was arrested on animal cruelty charges after pedestrians got police to open his minivan. His two dogs had been inside the vehicle for an hour, barking to get out, and suffered severe heatstroke. The smaller chihuahua died.

Ways to bring down the animals temperature:    Forlorn

1. Applying cool, wet towels on the stomach, chest, groin and paws but do not to use ice
2. Get the pet to an air-conditioned car
3. Place dog in front of fan
4. Immerse in a tub of cool but not cold water
5. Help them drink small amounts of cool water

Just this month, a Wake Forrest woman left her two dogs in the car while she went shopping at Walmart. It was 84 degrees outside and she cracked her windows. Two hours later, pedestrians noticed the barking, panting dogs locked inside and called police. By the time they arrived, both dogs were dead.  Their owner had been shopping for three hours. When she came out, she was charged with Animal Cruelty. Last year, it was a Carrborro woman that left a service dog in the car on a stormy day for two hours. It died when interior temperature reached 124 degrees!

Remember, no matter the weather, never leave your dog unattended in a car for more than 10 minutes. You don’t want a hot dog, so be cool and leave them at home!

Cat Scratch Fever

Cute Cat With Closed Eyes Scratching A Scratching Post

Does your cat scratch things you don’t want it to, like the new sofa? Or the curtains?  You are not alone in this vexing problem. Many cat owners seek a way to curb this “bad” cat habit!!

“The goal in resolving scratching problems is to redirect the behavior onto acceptable objects” Suzanne Hechts, Ph.D. Strategically placing a scratching post, an old rug, or a cardboard box can redirect your cat’s scratching area. You may be wondering “W hy do they do it in the first place?”

There are several reasons why a cat scratches:

1. To stretch their kitty limbs and flex their feet!
2. To mark an area (cats have scent glands on their feet that deposit a smell on the scratched object)
3. To get the dead outer layer of skin off their claws
4. To show dominance in front of another cat

And the reason they choose to claw your favorite chair, the one you spend the most time in?
Simply, kitty is marking you as his or her human and since that chair smells like you (or bed, or sofa).

So now we know why they scratch, let’s go over how we can get them to do it only in specific, acceptable places.

1. Cover objects you don’t’ want scratched with something kitty won’t like:
a. Double-sided sticky tape
b.  aluminum foil
c. sheets of sandpaper
You will need to leave these up for several weeks until kitty develops the new habit.

2. Buy a vertical scratching surface, one tall enough for kitty to fully stretch out while scratching
The post ideally should  be similar to tree bark, and many have sisal fiber rope wound around, that is coarse and perfect for kitty claws

3. Have more than one scratching post. Especially if you have more than one cat! Ideally, you should place one near where they sleep so that when they wake up and stretch, they have a place to flex their muscles. “Placing a scratching post in a prominent location in the most used room in the house, even directly in front of the piece of furniture the cat has shown a preference for, will often encourage the cat to scratch the post to mark his territory”-Petfinder.

Some recommended scratching posts include:
•    Carpeted board/ Tree perch (you can make this yourself by wrapping scrap carpet on a 4 by 4
•     Sisal Cat Scratching Post
•    Horizontal Super Scratcher made from cardboard

Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

Rose Closeup

The doorbell rang this morning and a delivery man brought something exciting into my house – a new plant!  How I do love all things green and leafy – can’t wait to destroy this one. Closing the door,  my owner cradled the plant like a baby and exclaimed “A dozen roses, oh honey you shouldn’t have!”

“The flowers are for mother’s day,  my sweetheart. Of course I should, and probably much more often ” he replied. After they were set on the table, I jumped up to investigate. My nose twitched with excitement, they smelled really good – like honey. I tried to get some of that heavenly scent on my fur and rubbed-up against them. OUCH! The deceptive rose has nasty pointy objects hidden on its stem. Those evil spikes impaled my beautiful fur and I wailed until mom came over.

“Oh Slider, what now!” Seeing the red drops of blood blooming in my fur, she brought over tweezers and told me I had just gotten a thorn in my side. I informed her that this new plant had to go, taking a swat at it a few moments later. “No Slider, look how you’ve knocked the Peach Petals off! Shoo!”

Later, as I lay glaring over at the new plant, my owner brought over a magazine FULL OF ROSES!  She tried to interest me in the horrid plant, and spoke about getting a bunch for the garden. I opened my mouth real wide, a giant yawn, to demonstrate my level of interest. “Now Slider, I know how you love learning. See, here is a diagram about  the meaning behind each color of rose. I was given the Peach plant variety.  Please try and find what out what this color means for me.” She continued to look at me expectantly, so I finally scanned the page. Eight different colors of roses, each with a description after it – curiously interesting:

Dark Pink: Appreciation and Gratitude
Light Pink: Admiration, Sympathy and Sweetness
Yellow: Friendship, New Beginnings, HappinessSlippity
Red: Love, Courage, Respect
White: Purity, Innocence
Peach: Appreciation and Sincerity
Lavender: Enchantment, Love at First Sight
Orange: Fascination, Desire

I weighed in on her Peach roses and the appreciation/sincerity they signified with a heartfelt “Meoooow.”

“Good old Slider. ” She smiled as if she understood.