Category Archives: Neighbor shopping tips

Rabbits need fiber from HAY for healthy digestion

Young red rabbit in hay on green backgroundIf you have a rabbit, the number one thing to be mindful of is that your rabbit gets enough FIBER in his or her diet.  Most of this should come from fresh, thoroughly-washed leafy vegetables – such as romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro and other greens.  (See some great information on rabbit nutrition as well as other rabbit care topics on the House Rabbit Society website at http://rabbit.org/suggested-vegetables-and-fruits-for-a-rabbit-diet/

But it’s also important to supplement fresh greens with HAY to aid healthy digestion and stool production.  Include TIMOTHY HAY in your rabbit’s diet as a good source of fiber.   One supplier of Timothy hay is Oxbow Animal Health.  Timothy hay should be provided to your rabbit in unlimited quantities daily.  Chewing hay will also help with natural wearing of your rabbit’s teeth.   (See my past blog on Rabbits need to chew to avoid dental problem.)

Rabbits that lack sufficient fiber are prone to a condition called GI stasis, a potentially deadly condition in which stool production slows down or stops completely.  Sufficient fiber – including Timothy hay – can help prevent this condition.

Should you notice your rabbit not eating, or is producing diminished or no stools, see your veterinarian* immediately.  GI stasis can be extremely painful and can cause death in a rabbit sometimes in a matter of hours.

*IMPORTANT NOTE:  Do NOT assume that the same veterinarian who you take other pets to will care for your rabbit.  Not all veterinarians see rabbits.  Therefore, it’s best to find a good vet for your bunny BEFORE you need one – and also to schedule annual wellness exams. 

AS ALWAYS, CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT YOUR PET’S OVERALL HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

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Limit frequency of dog, cat bathing / NEVER use human shampoo

The first step in bathing your dog or cat is to choose a shampoo MADE FOR PETS.  There are many good ones on the market.  AVOID using HUMAN shampoos that will dry your pet’s delicate skin.  NEVER use hand soaps or laundry soaps which are way too harsh for your pet.
Bathroom to a dogWhile bathing your dog – or cat – keeps them clean and helps keeps their fur soft and shiny, too much bathing removes essential oils and  can lead to dry skin, itching and flaking.  Some pet owners make the mistake of thinking that bathing will remove dry itchy flakes.  In fact, it does just the opposite and will make the problem worse.

If your dog has itchy flaky skin, limit bathing and choose a shampoo that contains oatmeal which will be much milder on the skin.  If your cat or dog has some form of SKIN IRRITATION, CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN.  DO NOT THINK THAT BATHING WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM.  While there are special shampoos for irritated skin, they are NOT the best solution.  Instead:

  • Feed your pet a high-quality food that provides proper nutrition.   Nine times out of 10, itchy, flaky skin is a result of poor nutrition.
  • Consult with your veterinarian who can do a blood test to see if your pet is suffering from any blood deficiencies.
  • Once your veterinarian has ruled out any underlying health issues, consider treating irritated areas of your pet’s skin with an anti-itch spray to temporarily relieve minor pain and itching. One such product is Allercaine for DOGS. You can also buy Allercaine with Bittran, a safe, bitter substance that discourages animals from licking.   NOTE these products are for DOGS ONLY.  As always, check first with your veterinarian.

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Grooming tools that remove dog and cat undercoat

Dog and cat grooming tools come in a wide variety of styles and at a variety of price points.furminator

One highly-rated and popular implement that has become the “gold standard” of pet grooming is the Furminator Deshedding Tool The Furminator Deshedding Tool is a metal comb with lots of tiny teeth.   The design makes it perfect for removing a dog’s or cat’s undercoat.  The Furminator Deshedding Tool comes in a variety of sizes priced from about $20 to $70.  Furminator also produces a variety of other grooming brushes, combs and tools.

groomAnother grooming implement that is also good for removing pet’s undercoat is the Shedding BladeThis tool is a more economical alternative at about $10.  It is a simple design using a looped piece of metal with teeth on each side.  The teeth help to remove excess fur from your dog’s or cat’s coat.

undercoatYet another grooming tool for removing undercoat is the Undercoat Rake.  This tool, at about $20, works well for dogs with long, thick fur.

Following removal of your pet’s undercoat, groomers will often use a brush for finishing.  For this, you can use a ladies “pin brush” which may be similar to what many of us use at home.   These brushes have little “pins” with nubs on the ends and can be found at any drug store usually for just a few dollars.

For breaking up fur mats, consider the Mat Breaker.  This tool has razor edges that get under matted fur.  The backside of the tool is blunt, making it safe for your pet.  Cost is from about $8 to $14 depending on size.

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Choosing a collar for leash-trained dogs

depositphotos_dogcollarOnce your dog has been leash trained and is comfortable on a leash, you can explore the wide variety of neck collars available.  We emphasize that neck collars are NOT intended for training.  They are for dogs that are already leash trained and have learned not to pull while leashed.  (See our previous post on leash training.)

The most important consideration is that a collar should properly FIT your dog.  It should also be comfortable.  The best thing to do is to bring him or her into the store for a proper fitting.  Different breeds have different size and shape necks, so there is no one standard.  However, in choosing a collar, there are three main criteria you should take into account: 1) Width 2) Length and 3) Material.

  1. Width – You want to make sure that your dog is comfortable, so you do not want to choose a collar that is too thick and that could irritate your dog’s neck. At the same time, if the collar is too narrow, it could not be strong enough and is at risk of breaking, especially on a large dog.  So important considerations are comfort plus durability.
  1. Length – You want the collar to fit well and not leave any large gaps that your dog’s head could slip through. At the same time, you want a collar that is not too small that it cuts into your dog’s neck or could potentially choke your dog.
  1. Material – There are three main types of materials used in dog collars: leather, nylon and soy fibers.  The first two can be irritating if left on too long, or if they get damp or wet.  Soy fibers – made of recycled soy – are softer and less irritating.

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Rabbits need to chew to avoid dental problems

small rabbit sitting in hayPet rabbits are adorable, but need more care than many bunny owners might realize.

One thing that surprises many new bunny families is that rabbits have 28 teeth – including molars and incisors. Very few of these teeth are visible without a special instrument that your veterinarian* will use to check your rabbit’s teeth.

NOTE: Rabbits need veterinary care just like any pet. As prey animals, they mask their illness and often do not show signs or symptoms until it’s too late.  So at least annual preventive care is essential.

Your rabbit’s 28 teeth can grow tooth spurs and sharp edges that can prevent your rabbit from eating and cause extreme pain. So it’s important to help your rabbit keep his or her teeth properly worn down by providing things to chew on. Some options include:

  • Special bunny size lava rock blocks
  • Special wood blocks made just for bunnies (Get these at a pet supplies store. Do NOT use just any wood as some can contain toxic finishes that could be fatal to your rabbit.)
  • Timothy hay which should be provided to your rabbit in unlimited quantities. (Watch for my upcoming blog: Rabbits need fiber from HAY for healthy digestion.)

*IMPORTANT NOTE:  Do NOT assume that the same veterinarian who you take other pets to will care for your rabbit.  Not all veterinarians see rabbits.  Therefore, it’s best to find a good vet for your bunny BEFORE you need one – and also to schedule annual wellness exams. 

AS ALWAYS, CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT YOUR PET’S OVERALL HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

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Dog-walking safety: stay in control, protect against other dogs, predators

e9d139fa-031a-41e4-ae30-4c5ff95227c0All dog owners love the chance to let their dog have a good run and get some exercise.  But save any off-leash running for the dog park as letting your dog out of your control just anywhere could result in serious injury or worse.

When walking your dog in public, make sure you have complete control.  This means the leash – no more than SIX FEET in length – should be firmly in your hand.  Avoid using a retractable leash unless you are in a fenced-in yard or dog park.  Even though you may be comfortable with, and trust YOUR dog’s behavior, you cannot control OTHER dogs who can quickly approach and distract your dog.

If you have a SMALL dog (or any pet), say 15 pounds or less – be on the lookout for birds of prey, like hawks, that can quickly snatch small pets.  When hungry, hawks and other predator birds are not intimidated by humans and can act in the blink of an eye with heartbreaking consequences.  Also be on the lookout for coyotes and foxes that are becoming more prevalent in urban and suburban areas, especially during dusk and dawn hours.

Finally, avoid using your cell phone while walking your dog.   This includes talking, texting, tweeting and all cell phone activity.  It can and will distract you from all of the above.  It can also take your attention away from oncoming traffic.  Instead, enjoy this time with your pet.

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Two toys your dog (and maybe your cat) can’t live without

There is definitely no shortage of dog toys on the market.  In fact, the hardest part of getting a new dog in the family may be CHOOSING which toys your dog will think are the BEST.

While there are many great toys, you can’t go wrong with two that are getting rave reviews from dog lovers.  They also offer variations for cats.  They are:

kongKONG toys

KONG toys are made of high quality natural rubber and come in different shapes and sizes.  These toys are durable and will last longer than many other toys.

Some KONG toys have spaces that you can fill with peanut butter or other treats.  This is excellent for giving dogs who are crated during the day an activity and something to do. kong-cat

Kong also makes a variety of toys for your cat.

ropeRope toys

Rope toys not only provide a source of entertainment and playful activity for your pet, but they can be also be beneficial to your pet’s teeth since the chewing motion helps to remove plaque and tarter.  Puppies can sink their teeth into rope toys which act as a teething ring.

Photos courtesy of Pet Supplies Plus.

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Nail trimming can be done at home with right tools & supplies

Nail trimming – for dogs and cats – is a regular part of your pet’s grooming that should be pretty easy to do at home.  Doing it at home can save you a little money at the groomer’s.  Some veterinarians trim nails for free during a regular appointment, but this means waiting six months or more for the next trim.

So to try nail trimming at home — just like anything – you will need the right TOOLS and SUPPLIES.

Clippers

scissorstyle
A scissor-style pet nail clipper. Photo courtesy of Pet Supplies Plus.

There are two main types of nail clippers:  Scissor-style and guillotine style.  We prefer the SCISSOR-STYLE clipper to the GUILLOTINE-STYLE clipper.      

The SCISSOR-STYLE of pet nail clipper – pictured right — applies pressure from two sides.  We find it easier to control the nail cut with this type of tool as it is similar to using a pair of scissors in which you are bringing both sides together to make a cut.

clippers
A guillotine-style pet nail clipper. Photo courtesy of Pet Supplies Plus.

On the other hand, the GUILLOTINE-STYLE of clipper — pictured left — requires that you slide the blade over the nail.  The clipper then applies pressure from one side to the other.  We find this style more difficult to use.

IN CLIPPING YOUR DOG’S OR CAT’S NAILS, CAREFULLY TRIM RIGHT ABOVE THE “QUICK” OR THE PINK AREA WITHIN THE NAIL WHERE THE NERVES AND BLOOD VESSELS ARE.  IF YOU ARE NOT SURE, ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN.  CUTTING TOO MUCH INTO THE NAIL CAN BE PAINFUL TO YOUR PET AND CAN CAUSE EXCESSIVE BLEEDING.

Nail grinder

Nail grinders for pets are becoming very popular.  They remove the rough edges AFTER you trim the nails.  Removing the rough edges is important to prevent nails from chipping and splitting.  A split nail can be very painful and can necessitate a trip to the vet for your pet. For a good quality nail grinder, expect to pay $30 or slightly more.  A lower-priced version can have a weak motor and may not do the job.

Styptic powder

Should you cut into the “quick” of your pet’s nail, bleeding can be profuse.  Styptic powder is used to stop bleeding.  It’s used externally and packed onto the wound.  See package directions.

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Do pets need vitamins & supplements?

Dog and hand with pill isolated over white.A growing number of pet vitamins and supplements are entering the market.  While many humans have been quick to use over- the-counter nutritional products, are similar vitamins and supplements a good idea for your pet?  Not really – but with some exceptions.

Most pets should get all the necessary vitamins and nutrition they need from their FOOD.  You are better off spending more money on a

HIGH QUALITY dog or cat food — that provides a good source of protein, calories and nutrients – than you are trying to supplement a poor quality food.  So instead of considering vitamins and supplements, start by rethinking your choice of dog or cat food.

At the same time, there are SOME PETS who WOULD benefit from vitamins and supplements:  (AS ALWAYS, CONSULT  YOUR VETERINARIAN.)

Puppies  

If you have a new puppy, it’s important o make sure he or she is getting all the vitamins and nutrition needed to grow at this stage of life.

Senior / geriatric dogs and cats*

For aging pets – who often experience joint pain and reduced mobility – supplements can make getting around easier.  Consider over-the-counter supplements like glucosamine / chondroitin.  Both can help lubricate joints to help your pet move more freely.

*NOTE – Cats are typically considered senior by age 10-12.  For dogs, this designation can vary based on SIZE.  Larger dogs are considered senior much earlier than small dogs.

Underweight pets

For pets that have been compromised and need to put on weight, high calorie supplements can help.  Such pets include those with chronic illnesses and those who are shelter or rescue pets that have come from circumstances in which they were not getting enough nutrition.  If your pet needs to put on weight, vitamins can help keep nutrients at healthy levels while your pet regains his or her strength and vitality.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If your dog or cat is losing weight, see your veterinarian immediately to determine why.  Weight loss is a sign of many common illnesses and conditions that can be easily managed if caught early.

Pets with digestive problems

If your dog or cat suffers from conditions such as frequent vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite, your pet may benefit from certain supplements, however it’s important to first determine the underlying cause of any of these symptoms.

Lactating females

Nursing dogs and cats often lose nutrients to their offspring.  Consider switching them to PUPPY FOOD for extra nutrients and also consider giving them vitamins.

AS ALWAYS, CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT YOUR PET’S OVERALL HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

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Dog leash training: Head collars reduce leash pull; better than choke chains & standard collars

gentle leaderIf you are training your dog to walk on a leash, head collars – like the one pictured —  are extremely good at getting your dog not to pull.

A head collar fits over your dog’s nose and places a gentle pressure on the nose and back of the neck.  This pressure is released immediately when the dog stops pulling so you never have to jerk on the leash.

The fit of the head collar is vastly different from how choke chains and standard neck collars fit.  Both of these put pressure on your dog’s delicate throat which can cause your dog to choke and cough, not to mention the discomfort.

In working with our own dogs, we have found that a head collar not only teaches your dog not to pull, but such a collar also changes your dog’s demeanor.  The head collar uses gentle e pressure to let your dog know that you are in charge, giving greater control to you, the handler. You will be amazed.

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