How To Keep Your Pet Healthy

The family pet is an important part of American homes, often just like part of the family itself. Of course, we don’t go to the extent of inviting our pets over to the dining table, but our love for them is very clear. Keeping our pets healthy is a top priority, given how much we care for them. Here are a few steps to help you make sure that your pets enjoy long and fruitful lives.

Make sure to annually vaccinate your pets. Despite this, a lot of pet owners are declining vaccines due to the safety issues involved. That still shouldn’t stop you from having your pets vaccinated, as it may help them avoid contracting certain deadly diseases like the canine parvovirus. You can protect your pets from these diseases with a standard vaccination, and save money in the long run – they can be very expensive to treat otherwise. The standard costs for treatment can often go over $1,000, including the costs of hospitalization and medicine. Vaccines cost much less than that.

The next thing to consider is dental care. Make sure you have your pets’ dental check-ups scheduled on a regular basis. Dogs that regularly get fed human food are especially in need of regular dental care. Do not take this lightly as liver, heart and kidney diseases can easily set in if your pets’ teeth aren’t well maintained. In fact, there are studies that show that 80% of all pets over three years old have some form of dental disease. It may not really sound like fun, but brushing our pets’ teeth can greatly reduce the risk of dental disease and other health issues in our pets. For our pets’ teeth, preventive measures are just as important.

Finally, we need to carefully monitor our pets’ weight and diet. Usually, monitoring our pets’ diet and making sure it is balanced is the best preventive measure. Choosing a good brand of pet food can help set us in the right path as pet owners to prevent obesity in our pets. Overweight pets may seem cute on the surface, but be aware that an overweight or obese pet can develop serious health problems. Among the health problems an overweight pet can acquire are joint pain and arthritis, as well as cardiovascular issues. A dog treadmill can be an excellent way to exercise your pet if the weather is bad or you live in an unsafe area.

Improve Your Health – Get A Pet

It’s a well-known fact that owning a pet can be good for companionship, but it can also be good for your health. Recent studies have proven that companion animals can help improve our physical and mental health. Lowered anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure and stable heart rate are three health benefits that pets can give their owners.

Most pet owners are young children and their families, and pets have been known to enrich their lives – but they can also be very helpful in assisting the elderly. Pets have been proven to help elderly owners extend their lives, stay healthier and avoid stressful situations. Studies from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society compared independent seniors with and without pets, and the senior citizens with pets proved to be stronger physically and mentally. Thanks to their pets, they live less stress lives and are more physically active and happier.

Owning a pet and maintaining it can seem like a lot of hard work for some of us. However, when a pet owner takes the time out to actually take care of his or her pet, including the usual maintenance, feeding, bathing and walking, these activities lead to a reduction in anxiety, tension and blood pressure, a reduction in heart rate and the proper release of beta-endorphins in one’s body. Taking care of your pets in the simplest ways can be a workout of sorts, improving heart rate and keeping your joints flexible and mobile by performing actions like changing your pet’s water or opening the pet door to let your pet dog in or out. It may not be a real workout, but it helps pet owners stay healthy.

Of course, a lot of a pet’s benefits cannot be seen by the naked eye. Having a pet around the house allows for companionship for the owner, love and affection, and a play companion in the absence of children. Pets can step up to the plate as well for older pet owners without close family relatives or friends. When faced with a tough emotional situation, pet owners can turn to their pets for additional support. For those living alone by choice or by fate and for elderly folks in nursing homes, pets can provide much-needed social protection.

Pets are ideal companions for older people, as they provide support, keep them motivated and interested in living their lives to the fullest, and allow them to take care of routines like buying groceries or simply leaving the house. Indeed, pets’ interactions with elders are a great help to their physical health while at the same time keeping them stress-free.

When Do You Discipline A Cat?

Although a concerned cat caregiver may find occasions when discipline is necessary for a behavioral problem, more often than not, that behavior is the cat’s way of letting its human know that there is a problem with something in the household. Cats are basically pretty well-behaved critters, and rarely “act out” unless there is a problem. For example, a cat will not urinate on your bed because he is “mad” at you, nor scratch the arms of your favorite chair because he is “stubborn.”

Effective correction of a true behavioral problem is a three-fold process:

  1. Determine first, if it is really a behavioral problem
  2. If not, find and correct the real causes of the undesirable behavior
  3. In the rare cases of a true behavioral problem, find and use a correct means of discipline or retraining.

We’ll explore each of those steps more fully with a few common undesirable behaviors. Rather than trying to “reinvent the wheel” I’ll directs you to behavior-specific articles, when indicated.

Litter Box Avoidance
The classic example is a cat who suddenly starts urinating outside the litter box. You’ll need to eliminate the possible causes, starting with the most urgent, which could be a urinary tract infection or blockage.

What NOT to Do
Never, ever rub a cat’s nose in his pee or feces. He has no idea why he is being punished for performing a natural body function, and it teaches him nothing, except perhaps that you are a big bully with nasty manners. For the same reason “spanking” is an ineffective discipline for the above or any other violation.

Inappropriate Scratching
Cats are born to scratch. It provides a means of “sharpening their claws,” which is really the process of removing the grown-out sheath that covers them, and it offers the kind of stretching, pulling exercise that helps build strong muscles, tendons, and joints. (Think isotonic excercise.) A cat who scratches furniture needs a scratching post. If he already has one, he needs another one or two, of different sizes, textures (carpet, wood, or sisal) and configurations (tall, flat, or inclined).

What NOT to Do
Obviously, do not declaw because of property damage. There are many other humane alternatives.

Fighting or Bullying Other Cats
Cats sharing a household will often “play fight.” It’s a way of honing their skills, and is usually harmless fun. However, if one participant is clearly “out of his league,” real damage is being done, or one cat seems to be stalking and bullying another, you need to hone your own investigative skills. It could be something as simple as a strange cat lurking outside a window.

What to Do
First, clap your hands and shout “No!” to get their attention. Next, if possible, remove the cat on the short end of the fight to another location. If the bully seems intent on bloodletting, try throwing a large stuffed toy near him to help him redirect his aggression.

What NOT to Do
Never try to physically separate two cats bent on doing damage to one another. You can be seriously scratched or bitten.

Painful Scratching and Biting (of Humans)
This form of behavior is most often caused because your cat is not in the mood for a belly rub. Learning to read his body signals will go a long way to prevent future “attacks” by your cat.

What NOT to Do
Don’t jerk your hand away or you may be seriously scratched. Never shake a cat, hit or spank him. Shaking can cause internal injuries much like “shaken baby syndrome,” and as one forum member said, “All the cat knows is the human they love hit him, and he doesn’t know why!”

Jumping on Counters (Tables, etc.)
Training a cat to stay off forbidden areas is possible, but will take some patience and creativity on your part. Here are some Countering Counter-Surfing ideas.

What NOT to Do
Never throw a cat off a counter; you could inflict serious injury to him. If he is in immediate danger (close to a gas stove), approach him without alarming him, then pick up up and gently place him on the floor.

Almost all other behavioral problems can be corrected by the three methods discussed at the beginning of this article.

Potty Training Puppies–Essential Success Tips

Who else wants to know the secret to house training your puppy? The secret is that there really is no big secret. Here is how it works: You need patience, you must be persistent, and you must be firm but gentle. House training your puppy properly will set the stage for an unbreakable, loving bond with your puppy.

It may very well be that the idea of house training your puppy makes you shudder and cringe at the thought of yourself sopping up rivers of pee and worse. For many, the mere utterance of the word, “potty training” sends them running for high ground. You don’t have to be among their number if you understand the key elements of housebreaking your puppy.

How long does it take to before you have a potty discipline puppy? Experts say–and my own experience confirms this–that you should see consistent results in two to three weeks. However, professionals also warn that it may take two to three months without the dog eliminating before the job is truly accomplished.

If there is a secret to housebreaking your puppy, if there is one, single fundamental that you must keep in mind, it is this: routine. Dogs are creatures of habit, and a predictable routine helps make your dog feel secure. For that reason, you want to make your training the same and follow an exact, unvarying regimen.

The key basics to house training your puppy include the following: set a routine and do not change it; take your puppy outside to go to the bathroom once every one or two hours; establish a schedule for feeding and do not change it; accompany your puppy outside ten to fifteen minutes after feeding; praise your puppy when it eliminates outside; accidents are bound to happen inside–never show anger when this occurs; and last, thoroughly clean the areas inside where the puppy has made a mess.

These steps alone are key to new puppy training. If you adhere to the house training tips set forth above in a firm and loving manner, you will not only successfully potty train your puppy, you will be well on the way to sound relationship with your pet.

House training your puppy for health and happiness.. How to get the most out of puppy training techniques–start today!

What To Do When Your Dog Begs For Table Scraps

Like most people, dogs love food. They’re willing to sacrifice their dignity in order to obtain it. If food is not given freely, but instead eaten in front of them, they will beg. Some will do so relentlessly.

A begging dog can be particularly frustrating for his owner. He’ll sit and stare longingly at his owner’s plate, hoping to receive a tasty morsel, regardless of size. Unfortunately, many people acquiesce under the pressure, and give their pets table scraps just to send them away. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

Below, we’ll explain the side effects table scraps can have on your canine; you’ll learn the reasons you should avoid providing them. We’ll also describe a few methods you can use to discourage the behavior, so you and your family can eat in peace.

Reasons To Avoid Feeding Your Pet Table Scraps

Commercial brands of dog food are specially formulated with the nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy. The vitamins and minerals contained in these brands are necessary for whatever stage of development your canine is in. Table scraps rarely provide the same level of nutrition. Instead, they usually deliver excess calories, which are likely to cause weight problems for your pet. And that leads to avoidable health issues.

Another reason to avoid giving your dog table scraps is because doing so can lead to digestive problems. Even though your pet will eat anything placed in front of him, his body may be unable to tolerate some types of food.

Also, given a steady diet of people food, your canine may eventually become fussy with his own meals. He’ll essentially acquire a taste for the foods you feed your family. And that’s when his begging will begin to take on a new level of urgency.

Preventing Access To Your Table

This method removes your pet’s opportunity to beg. You can use a couple of different approaches depending on whether you would like your canine to remain in the room in which you’re eating, or to stay out.

If you’d like his company in the room, place a lead and collar on him, and secure him to a nearby chair or other piece of furniture. He should be kept far enough away from the table to minimize the temptation to beg. Consider providing a chew toy to give him something to do while you and your family eat.

You can also bar him from the room, which can be done easily with a pet gate. Confine your dog to a room elsewhere in your home, so he’s unable to watch you eat through the gate. This will prevent him from whining to gain your attention.

Sending Him Elsewhere

This method requires more time and patience since there is training involved. The goal is to give your dog something to do elsewhere in your home without confining him to that particular space. You’ll need to train him to stay in his space while you and your family enjoy meals.

At first, your dog will be tempted to abandon his designated spot, and come looking for table scraps. Over time, however, you can teach him to remain there, thereby preventing him from begging.

This method has the added benefit of being helpful in other circumstances. For example, suppose you’re entertaining guests, and would like to prevent your canine from bothering them. Simply instruct him to go to his designated space while your guests are visiting. As long as he has a few toys to occupy his attention, he’ll be fine.

When your dog begs, he does so because he has an expectation his begging will produce results. This is the reason owners who have given in to their canines in the past find it difficult to curb the behavior. But it’s never too late. Use the methods above to turn your begging pooch into a patient, pleasant companion.