Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Cats And Cat Carriers - An Interesting Study

Many of you that have ever had to take a cat to the the vet to be examined will know the dreaded 'getting the cat into the carrier' scenario.

One thing that may help a lot if you know that you have an impending veterinary appointment is to leave the carrier around so that your cat may get 'acclimatised' to it. Leaving some bedding in there that your cat has used previously and placing in a spot with the door/lid open so that the cat may wander in and out can be a positive move.

Interestingly I came a across a small study that showed that the act of allowing a cat to get used to it's carrier prior to a trip to the vets really helped to reduce stress for our feline friends.

You can read about the study here

Finally, An Amazing Guide That Helps You Understand What Your Cat Is Thinking http://bit.ly/CatThoughtBible

Cat Spraying No More

Sunday, 12 August 2018

How Proper Socialisation And Training Saves The Lives Of Dogs

A new study, undertaken in the UK on behavioural reasons for deaths in dogs under three years of age, has found that a staggering 33.7% of deaths was linked to undesirable behaviour problems. It highlights the importance of puppy socialisation and dog training in preventing early euthanasia.

The study, conducted by the VetCompass Programme at the Royal Veterinary College, found behaviours responsible for early deaths included aggression, over-excitability and barking.

Some of these inappropriate behaviours may be due to poor training and lack of proper socialisation. However underlying medical disorders may also be responsible for a number of behavioural issues. An example of this includes problems with toilet training due to bladder infections and gastro-intestinal conditions.

This new research showed aggression as being the most common behaviour issue that led to death. Recall problems may be responsible for road traffic accidents fatalities, the next most common cause of early death. The study also revealed that male and smaller dogs were more likely to die than female or larger breeds.

Worryingly, over three quarters of dogs in the study had been euthanased. This raises concerns for dogs who are put to sleep because of their temperament.

Researchers hope that the findings will raise awareness of some of the common undesirable behaviours, encouraging owners to think about improved training. They also highlighted the importance of breeders and owners providing appropriate puppy socialisation to prevent problems from developing.

Dr. Dan O’Neill, the supervisor of the study and senior lecturer at the RVC, commented that “Greater awareness of the scale of this issue can be the first step towards reducing the problems and making the lives of thousands of our young dogs happier”.

As a behaviourist I am well aware that training and appropriate socialisation are essential for the development of a happy and well-rounded dog. This research highlights the sad fact that many young dogs lose their life because of undesirable behaviours. Consequently I advise when getting a puppy:
  1. Breeders should have begun the socialisation process as early as possible (the socialisation period starts at around 3 weeks of age and lasts until around 12 weeks of age).
  2. Proper socialisation should continue once puppy is brought home
  3. It’s really important to see the mother to assess her behaviour. This gives an in-sight in to the temperament of her off-spring.
  4. New owners should start positive reinforcement training as early as possible
  5. Choose a trainer who uses positive reinforcement methods if you need support and guidance
  6. Training should continue throughout the dog’s life to ensure on-going good behaviours.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Use This Handy Calculator To Check Your Cat's Stress Levels.

Most cat owners will know that our feline friends tend to like routine and it is well documented that even small changes can affect a cat's mental well-being.

Because there are so many factors that may lead to an increase in a cat's stress levels it is often hard to pinpoint exactly what may be causing the upset. A cat's age, health, environment and general personality can all affect how a cat is coping with external factors at any given time.

Our lifestyle is a huge external factor to a cat and being as busy as our modern lifestyle can dictate it is often easy to overlook our affect on our feline charges.

I was therefore very pleased recently to come across a handy 'feline stress calculator' that owners can use to give their cat a quick mental health check and identify if their furry friend may be a little stressed out.

Covering pretty much all of the external factors that may cause a little stress in our cats, it may well be worth giving your cat a quick 'stress test' and find out how they may be feeling.

Check it out HERE and if you would like to help another owner then please share this post!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Most Advanced Cat Flap Ever? Our Review

I was recently invited to review the SureFlap Microchip Cat Door Connect. Coming with the bold claim of being 'The most advanced cat door ever'. My research showed that the company, Sure PetCare do have an excellent reputation for producing quality cat flaps and pet doors so it was a claim worthy of further investigation.

Disclaimer - I was given the product and hub as a free sample and paid a small amount for my time in writing this review but if I felt it was a poor product either to begin with or upon further research then you wouldn't be reading this right now. I only review products that I feel would be of real interest to my subscribers.

The Company

Sure Petcare who present this product in their Sureflap range came out very well in my 'Amazon Test'. Plenty of great feedback on the internet giant's site shows that the company's previous offerings have been extremely well received by a large number of previous customers.This for me is a key sign of credibility as a good number of people spending their money online and feeding back will generally give a good indicator of customer satisfaction. 

I was aware prior to this review that the company had gained a lot of credibility across their product range by winning a few respectable industry awards.

A 3 year warranty from a business that I found pleasant to deal with was also a good sign of a company that believes in their product and is prepared to back that up with a decent assurance.

The Sureflap Microchip Cat Door Connect
This neat little video gives a good quick overview of the product

Microchip Cat Flap Connect from Sure Petcare on Vimeo.
The connection with your pet just got better.

I will freely confess, as a non-techie, my primary interests were whether the cat door was easy to set up and if the high-tech benefits connected with the product were going to be worth it.

The cat flap itself is of a sturdy construction and alongside the Hub arrived well packaged and of a nice appearance. The compact cat's head shaped Hub is pretty cool looking and cat owners are sure to appreciate this little touch.

After downloading the app, the ease of set-up is very welcome and the user booklet in the main box alongside the Hub's own quick start guide give clear information of both installation and technology set-up. I was impressed so far.

Features And Benefits
This is where I was a bit blown away. In my capacity of owning cats and a pet business I had gained experience of a number of cat flaps, from the basic to the more standard microchip connected offerings but this was something else.

Essentially the set-up is designed so that the included Hub connects the cat flap to the Sure Petcare app so that you can monitor your cats activity at a level that genuinely surprised me!

I'm a bit benefits driven when reviewing anything and especially when recommending products to my readership. The features of and benefits to cat owners when considering purchasing the SureFlap Microchip Cat Door Connect include:

Receive notifications whenever your cat(s) enter or leave your home. This feature is enhanced by the fact that the system can keep track of 30+ cats so even the most extreme multi-cat households could well be interested in this feature.

The system reads your cat's microchip OR Sureflap Rfid collar tag (not supplied). This nicely answers the question for owners of cats that haven't been microchipped. The system also allows access/ingress to individual cats within a multi-cat environment.

The ability to lock/unlock the cat flap remotely and set/change curfew times. Loved this feature!

The product's impressive trademarked DualScan technology allows owners to set permissions for each individual cat so you can keep certain cats indoors whilst others can roam in and out.

The system allows owners shared app access to friends, family or maybe a pet sitter and manage their permissions. I think this is a great feature and it pleasantly surprised me. The times I could have used this when I ran a physical pet business!

The ingenious app gives owners the  ability to monitor and store activity records for their cats. I like this feature a lot. Cat owners are able to monitor their cat's long-term activity which may ultimately allow them to see changes in behaviour. 

Keeps out intruder animals. The more basic cat flaps potentially allow unwanted guests to find their way into a cat owner's home.

Other things I liked. The company show their experience in the marketplace by going out of their way to be as informative as possible. Examples of this include a handy microchip compatibility checker and good general product information and support on their website and easy to digest accompanying information with their product.

So would I recommend the SureFlap Microchip Cat Door Connect?
I needed to answer three basic questions of this product before I would recommend it:

Is it a good product from a business that I would buy from? It certainly is. A well constructed and benefits packed cat door that goes well beyond the basic model of a cat flap. The product goes some way beyond the microchip connected cat doors available at present.
The company has proved itself knowledgeable and informative. I also like a business to offer good product support, guarantees, accessories and a network of stockists and these boxes were ticked.
The business website and the information that came with the promptly delivered product offers easy to digest and unexpectedly pre-emptive answers to a number of questions that I had intended to ask.

Do I know anyone personally that would buy this product?
I know a few cat owners that would love the benefits that this product brings and would be highly likely to be interested in purchasing it.

Does it live up to its bold statement of being 'The Most Advanced Cat Flap Ever'? 
I haven't found one to beat it's range of features and benefits!

So it's an unequivocal yes from me. I think this is a groundbreaking product that should do well in the marketplace with the kind of owner that is looking for the features and benefits on offer. It's a little more expensive but I feel that it offers a lot and justifies the higher price tag.

Where can I purchase a SureFlap Microchip Cat Door Connect?
Either directly from the website www.surepetcare.com or you have the choice of a variety of the large internet shopping giants. If visiting the website and you click your country flag top right you can go to your own countries site and there is a where to buy function on the about page that also lists your local stockist if you type in your address.

Friday, 6 July 2018

A Chastity Belt For Dogs In Season - Our Review

I don't review many products as my criteria of them being innovative/unusual/informative is a stringent one but when I came across an anti-breeding belt for dogs in season I felt that a review could be of benefit to my readers.

Disclosure - I will disclose that I was paid a small fee for my time in writing this review but as stated above...if I felt it was a poor product to begin with, or upon further research, you wouldn't be reading about it right now.

So what's it all about?
The ingenious team at PABS (pet anti-breeding system) in Shreveport Louisiana USA have developed the world's first safe, non-surgical and non-invasive breeding-control harness - essentially a chastity belt for female dogs in heat!

There is very credible research that supports the delayed spaying of dogs such as this article from the respected AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) here as well as the myriad of highly reputable sources on the Delay Her Spay website here which also adds the pensive disclaimer that they are NOT against spaying your dog they simply want to help owners make an informed decision on the potential hazards of spaying their female dog too early.

The product benefits and design were of particular interest to me.

Aside from the potential health benefits for young female dogs in season outlined above what I really like about the PABS breeding-control harness is the thoughtful way that the product has been designed.

Questions many people may have about the product:

Will the PABS chastity belt hurt or be uncomfortable for a female dog in heat?
Not at all, the anti-breeding harness straps on like any other harness. The eight-point buckle system is adjustable to ensure a comfortable fit. Once properly fitted, your dog is able to run around and play as normal.

Is my dog able to relieve herself whilst wearing the harness?
Yes! The heart-shaped mesh rear of the harness is cleverly designed not only for the dog's tail to comfortably pass through but also to allow her to defecate over the top. The mesh design also allows urine to pass through.

Is the harness reusable?
Yes! The sturdy webbing and polypropylene mesh ensures that the harness is reusable for a couple of heat cycles. The company do advise that owners store the harness away from their female dogs between cycles as the scent of a previously worn harness could attract her as well as attracting the attention of male dogs.

Are there any accompanying products?
The company sell washable and reusable Sani-T dog diapers. These dog diapers cover your dog's vulva when inserted in the pocket of the PABS Delay Her Spay harness to protect your surfaces during the early stages of your dog's heat cycle (her period).

Should an owner wait until their female dog is in heat or order the harness/diapers beforehand?
PABS advises owners to order prior to the onset of their dog's heat cycle.This is sensible advice as it also allows your dog to become accustomed to wearing the harness.

Can the harness and diapers be used to address incontinence issues in older dogs?
Yes! Used in conjunction, PABS Sani-T pads (diapers) and harness offer an advantage over conventional products on the market that deal with canine incontinence in that their products are designed to stay on where other products are more easily removed.

I like the idea of this product. It solves a problem that I have previously talked about with dog owners and breeders.

I do my own research when asked to review a product and found some very credible sources supporting the product and its aims.

Renita Marshall, DVM, MS an animal reproductive scientist at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA conducted tests using multiple breeds in various settings and found the PABS system to be 98 percent effective in preventing unwanted breeding. The remaining 2 percent could be attributed to incorrect fitting.

There are also some excellent testimonials here from genuine users of the system.

This reviewer in America gives a good insight into the product by 'road testing' it on her French Bulldog who was due to come into heat and her positive findings can be found here

I found the developer of the product and President of the company Dexter Blanch to be a man who is knowledgeable and passionate about his product.

The company website is thoughtfully laid out with informative videos and a lot of well presented information about the business, their aims and the products themselves. I particularly like the fact that the company encourages contacting them prior to placing an order to ensure you get the right sizing and information for YOUR dog - a professional and personal touch facilitated by a live chat function on their website.

The company are presently looking for UK and worldwide distributors for the PABS system after making good sales and being well received in the United States. If you are interested in becoming a distributor you can find out more by contacting them directly here

As I stated at the beginning of my review, I don't review many products as I believe that it's important to only recommend products and services that I believe to be of genuine interest and benefit to my subscribers.

So...would I recommend the PABS system?
Yes I would! Aside from seeing the potential benefits of the product for dog owners and breeders, I genuinely like the company and it's aims. They're not pushy or vague to deal with. Highlighting the potential benefits of their products with pensive informative research I feel that the business strikes the right note with potentially interested dog owners.

The President of the business Mr Blanch discussed with me his plans to develop a network of distributors worldwide to bring the products to a wider market and I am happy to support this by recommending PABS products to my readership.

Where can I buy a PABS system for my dog?
Orders can be placed at www.delayherspay.com The company ships internationally and the checkout process is excellent as it converts to the country of order placement showing expected delivery time (which is very quick for an internationally shipped product) and reasonable postage and packing costs. Cost wise, I found the product to be very fairly priced and believe it will be a hit with customers.


Monday, 2 July 2018

Interesting Cat Related Trivia From Our Archives

One thing I have learned about cat owners is that they never get bored of finding out new things about our feline friends.

I've recently been 'trawling' the archives to find some cat related snippets that I hope our cat loving readership will enjoy....

Cat Warm Temperature Tolerance
You have probably noticed that most cats tend to head for the shade on a summer's day to take a nap. What you may not know is that according to the the physiology section here cats can tolerate temperatures up to 56 degrees centigrade (or 133 degrees Farenheit) with an ample water supply!

Cat Ear Tufts
Ever noticed those little tufts of hair inside your cat's ears? It may interest you to know that their function is to keep out dirt, direct sound into the ears and for insulation. They have a quirky little name as they are known as 'ear furnishings'.

Sir Isaac Newton Invented The Cat Flap, Well Almost!
The famous English scientist is widely recognised as one of the most influential people of all time. Famed for his formulation of the laws of motion and hailed as the man who deciphered gravity, Newton is also, in some circles, credited with being the inventor of the humble cat flap.
Frustrated at his cat Spithead continually wrecking his experiments by wanting to go in and out the room, Newton came up with the idea of making two holes in the wall acting as access and egress to keep both himself and his feline companion and her kitten happy.
Whilst the tale above has been open to interpretation, what is indisputable is that the door to cat lover Newton's chambers was found to have holes of dimensions suitable for this purpose.

Cats Have Whiskers On Their Front Legs!
Cat owners may be surprised to learn that cats really do have whiskers on their front legs. Known as carpal whiskers their function is to allow the cat sensory feedback on caught prey that they are holding. The nerve endings in these carpal whiskers give the cat information on how much  a caught prey may be struggling and the best course of action as a cat's short vision is not very good. More can be found out about these whiskers here 

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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Does Your Dog Have Problems With Car Journeys?

Now that Summer is here and  we all start to turn our attention to going on holiday.  Packing up the car for a day’s outing with our dog should be something to look forward to.  Unfortunately, for some dogs this isn’t the case.                                                                                

Problems of car travel mainly involve:
  • Motion sickness and feeling nauseous
  • Associating the car with an unpleasant experience (going to the vets or kennels)
  • Over-excitement
  • Movement chasing
So what can we do to help?
  1. If your dog salivates, pants and looks miserable, it’s likely they feel sick. Ask your vet about medication that addresses this problem.  www.cerenia.com is a product that can help. There is also some useful advice on car travel on their website.
  2. For fear, associate the car with pleasant experiences. Give them treats in a motionless car. Play with them by opening all the doors and throwing a ball through the car for them. This encourages the dog to enter the car to retrieve it.
  3. Gradually build up their confidence. Follow step 2 but begin starting the engine.
  4. Work towards moving the car a short distance. Provided they do not show fear, slowly increase the journey time. Remember to continue with the rewards.
  5. For movement chasers- consider using a covered travel crate. Remember to follow the tips for crate training: https://www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk/how-to-crate-train-your-dog.
  6. Adaptil spray is a pheromone product that may help induce calm behaviour. It has also been shown to reduce stress and nausea. Spray it on a blanket in the car a few minutes before travelling or on to a bandana that your dog can wear during the trip.
  7. Avoid feeding before a car journey but make sure they have had a small drink half an hour beforehand. Don’t forget to take water with you.
  8. For over-excitement introduce car travel on the way back from a walk. You could also try taking them on short journeys but to nowhere in particular. This will help them stop predicting an exciting walk so they do not become over-aroused.
  9. For the dog that only usually goes to the vets in the car - try and take them to pleasant destinations too!
  10. Remember: Dogs should always be harnessed or secured during travel to prevent injury and interfering with the controls.
Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk


Monday, 11 June 2018

Cats Can Suffer From High Blood Pressure Too

At 7 years of age and above, most cats are still very playful and although they may appear youthful there is an increasing risk of feline age-related problems developing.

Hypertension (often referred to as high blood pressure) is a medical condition that most humans have heard of.  But did you know that cats over 7 years of age are at a higher risk than many other pets?  In fact one in eight cats over the age of 9 are likely to be suffering from what has been labelled “The silent killer”. 

Hypertension makes the blood in the vessels circulate at high pressure. This causes bleeding and damage to vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, nervous system and the eyes. Symptoms often go unnoticed by owners until the damage is done. Sudden blindness and kidney failure can be some of the more obvious results of the condition so prevention is very much better than cure in all cases.

Many cats presented to a veterinary surgeon with high blood pressure have an underlying disease. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the most common. This is followed by hyperthyroidism, a disease affecting the thyroid gland.

Rosanne Jepson, a specialist in small animal internal medicine at the Royal Veterinary College, said: “High blood pressure can cause severe damage to key body organs” “Unfortunately, it is a condition that develops without much warning for the cat owner; a cat may seem perfectly fine until either the blood pressure is checked, or other organs are damaged.”

Recommendations for cat owners with mature cats:

1.As advised by ISFM (International Society of Feline Medicine), owners of cats over 7 years of age are being urged to get their cat’s blood pressure checked at least once a year.
2. Ask your vet about having your cat’s blood pressure monitored routinely.
3. If the blood pressure is found to be high, there is treatment available. This will reduce the blood pressure and prevent damage to those vital organs.
4.Often your vet will advise that your cat has a full blood screening carried out too. This is to rule out any underlying diseases already mentioned.
5.Close and regular monitoring of your elderly cat is a sensible idea. Look out for other common signs of disease. This includes: weight loss, poor coat condition, changes in behaviour, appetite, thirst, urination, or general lethargy.

Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk

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Saturday, 2 June 2018

Some Interesting Studies Regarding Dogs And Children.

After reading a study that concluded children who were close to their dogs were also more likely to be closer to their parents and best friends. I decided to delve deeper into the relationship between dogs and children.

It appears that our canine friends are a far more positive influence on our kids than we may have realised.

Another study here showed that in a a test group comprising of pre-adolescents delivering a speech, the half of the group accompanied by their pet dogs showed a less stress-related response than the half that didn't. It seems that simply interacting with their dogs during a potentially stressful event allows children to feel calmer and more confident.

To further compound the stress-alleviating qualities of dogs around youngsters, another study showed that when left alone, with a parent or with a pet dog the children were less stressed and more relaxed around the dogs.

Factors attributed to the dogs in the aforementioned studies having such a positive influence in calming children could include the fact that dogs are non-judgmental or a good distraction from stress-related events. 

It appears that it wasn't just the fact that they owned a dog but the dog's interaction with the children that had a positive effect on the youngsters.

One thing is for sure, the myriad use of dogs in therapy is not without good reason and man's best friend is a good influence on men, women and children.


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Why A Lost Dog May Not Run Back To Us

I read something recently that I wanted to share with you that may not be obvious and could prove helpful if either your dog goes missing or you encounter a dog that is lost.

If you've ever been on social media and seen posts about missing dogs that are sighted several times in various locations and wondered why the dog doesn't simply run to the safety of a potential rescuer then read on.

Many lost dogs can easily go into what is described as 'survival mode'.

When a dog goes missing survival mode can be brought on by way of the dog being frightened, tired, hungry and being in a constant state of alert. In this state is not unusual for a dog to become so disoriented and confused that they become wary and may not take the time to determine if an approaching person may be potentially helpful or even their owner. The longer the dog is missing the more likely that survival mode may kick in.

It should be established that all lost dogs may act differently and although it is more probable that the more nervous dog may be more likely to have their survival instincts kick in, it really could happen to any dog dependant on the conditions and the length of time that the dog is missing.

So is there a 'best practice' when approaching a missing dog?

Yes there is - when encountering a lost dog, even if it is your own dog, the following advice is a good way to try to ensure that the dog feels less threatened and more likely to approach.

  • If possible, sit down.
  • Turn your body side on to the dog or even turn your back to the dog.
  • Avert your eyes and maintain your head in a bowed position so as to look as non-threatening as possible.
  • Remain quiet or silent.
  • Toss treats such as hot dog sausages or cheese (bite size) several feet to the side of you or behind you.
  • Wait for the dog to approach YOU and be sure not to make any sudden movements.
  • Once the lost dog has approached be patient and take the time to build trust. Do not make a grab for them straight away!
  • The dog may still be wary. Speak softly and if the dog backs off a little then stop speaking and gently entice the dog with more treats and resume the trust building until you can determine when a gentle approach to tether the dog can be established.

The Dog Solution

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

This Little Known Thing Can Cause Seizures In Older Cats

I was reading a study published in The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery that I thought may well be of interest to my readers with older cats.

You've possibly read about cats being spooked by high pitched noises but did you know that, in older cats especially, noise sensitivity can lead to seizures?

Until now, many older cats may have these noise-induced seizures put down to old age but research has shown that because cats have ultrasonic hearing they hear things at a pitch that can induce these seizures.

The ultrasonic hearing range of a cat allows it to hear at frequencies that a human cannot detect and it has been found that even relatively quiet and innocuous (to humans) sounds can bring on seizures in more senior cats.

There is even a name for these seizures 'feline audiogenic reflex seizures' although researchers more commonly refer to them by their acronym FARS

What is concerning is that normal household noises such as the crinkling of tin foil, tapping on a keyboard and the jangling of keys, to name a few, can induce this condition in older cats and highlights the importance of understanding as much as we can about FARS

The research was initiated after the cat charity International Cat Care received enquiries about older cats having seizures that appeared to be triggered by noise sensitivity. After collecting detailed information from concerned owners worldwide a study was published which you can read here

Saturday, 21 April 2018

UK Dog Owners - Be Aware Of Adders When Walking Your Dog

Now that it’s spring and the weather is warming up, most of us will be planning some lovely long walks with the dog. Whilst out and about, it’s possible to come across an Adder basking in the sunshine as they emerge from their hibernation dens. But would you know what to do if your dog was bitten by one?

The European Adder is the only venomous snake found in Britain. They live in moorland and are fairly common in areas of rough, open countryside and on the edge of woodland habitats. Adders have a venomous bite although they are not generally aggressive and only usually attack in self-defence. This tends to be if they are trodden on or if your dog appears to be threatening them.

Adders are identified through a dark zigzag running down the length of the body and an inverted 'V' shape on the neck although some are completely black so may be mistaken for some another species.

How do I know that my Dog has been bitten?

1. Swelling at the site of the bite – sometimes two small puncture wounds are evident in the middle of the swollen area
2. Bites are most common around the face and throat which may cause breathing difficulties. Limbs are also targets so limping and swelling are other signs
3. Pain around the site of the bite  – e.g. pawing, shaking the head
4. Other signs include: drooling, vomiting, restlessness and drowsiness
5. If left untreated the dog’s condition may progressively worsen. This includes: collapse, tremors or convulsions
6. In some rare cases a dog may suffer anaphylactic shock after being bitten. The signs are quite dramatic and usually appear quickly after the injury. Signs include breathing difficulties, collapse and a rapid but weak pulse

What to do if your dog is bitten?
  • Seek veterinary attention
  • If possible carry your dog to prevent the spread of venom going through the circulation
  • Bathe the wound in cold water or use an ice pack on the swollen area to reduce the pain and swelling
  • Keep your dog warm to combat and treat shock
  • There is an anti-venom treatment available and your vet may use this as part of the treatment
  • Fortunately, most dogs survive provided they receive the correct treatment and prompt veterinary attention

So if you are walking in an area where Adders inhabit, make sure your dog is under control. Knowing the signs of an Adder bite is important as well as having some idea of how to administer first aid.

This article was compiled using information from the Forestry Commission www.forestry.gov/forestry and www.vetsnow.com

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Some Quirky Cat-Related Things To Know

Love cat trivia? Check out these feline-related finds!

You may know that an unneutered male cat is commonly called a Tom but less well known is that a neutered male cat is known as a Gib.

A cat called Stubbs was elected 'honorary mayor' in the Alaskan town of Talkeetna in 1998 and remained 'in charge' until his sad demise in July 2017. Stubbs lived to a ripe age of 20 years and 3 months and during his 'reign' was said to enjoy a tipple of water and catnip from a margarita glass.

Don't be surprised if you ever notice your cat going a little crazy around olives. The mystery lies in the fact that olives contain similar chemical compounds to those found in catnip and are known as Isoprenoids.

A ten year study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that cat owners were 40 per cent less likely to have a heart attack and 30 per cent less likely to have a stroke than non-cat owners!

If you want to check out your cat's mood take a look at their whiskers. If they are forward or relaxed then your cat is probably just fine but beware if they are pushed back as this may indicate that your feline friend is annoyed or irritated!

A cat's sense of smell is sensitive to nitrogen and chlorinated water. Many cats also have a dislike of the scent of citrus.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Some Less Well Known Quirky Dog Related Stuff

Dogs have always fascinated me, I'm often found delving through the archives, studies and surveys on canine behaviour looking to bring my readers the latest finds.

People often ask if I fear ever running out of material and after a few years research  I now answer that as long as there are dogs there will always be something new to find out about our canine friends.

Below I have put together a few quirky things about dogs that I hope you may find interesting.

Wet dogs can generate more force than a Formula One racing driver when shaking themselves and have been known to shake seventy per cent of the water off their coats in four seconds and we look for efficient ways of drying them!

Studies have shown that small dogs have more dreams than their bigger counterparts. Smaller breeds of dogs may have a dream every ten minutes or so unlike larger breeds such as the Great Dane who are likely to dream every hour.

The more wolf-like breeds have seen a resurgence in ownership in the last few years due to shows such as Game of Thrones and the sheer amount of memes that highlight them on social media. It may surprise a lot of people to learn that the Shih Tzu is a breed that is more closely related to the wolf than many other breeds!

You may have often heard how rare Pandas are. What is less commonly known is that there is a British breed of dog, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, that is now sadly rarer than the Giant Panda.

Statistically studies have shown a third of dogs are left-pawed, a third are right-pawed and the remaining third show no paw preference. Interestingly right-pawed dogs have been shown to be bolder and more inquisitive than their left-pawed counterparts. Right-pawed canines are also statistically more likely to pass the training needed to become a Guide Dog.

If you really need any more reason to take your furry friend for a walk then it might interest you to know that research has shown that dogs are more confident exploring with their owner at their side than with any other person.

The Dog Solution

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Stroke Your Cat Like This - They Prefer It!

A recent study showed that cats have a definite preference as to how and where they prefer to be stroked. It's perhaps no surprise to cat lovers to hear that the survey built in an 'allowance' for the instances when the cats in the study simply walked away and didn't want to be stroked at all!

The findings were certainly interesting and the main findings were that:

Cats showed negative behaviours when being stroked near their tails.

The study involved two groups carrying out the stroking tasks - owners and experimenters. You may be surprised to learn (I know I was) that the cats preferred the attentions of the experimenters.

The cats showed a preference for being stroked around the face where their scent glands are contained. Cats seem to appreciate being stroked around the chin, cheeks, the gap between the eyes and ears and the ears themselves.

The study was a small one and tested 34 cats aged between 6 months and 12 years in their own homes. The cat reactions underwent video analysis to determine the findings above and more on this fascinating study can be found HERE

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Can The Moon Affect Your Cat Or Dog's Behaviour?

I was recently interested to come across a study that showed that after reviewing the records of twelve thousand cats and dogs over a ten year period a strange pattern emerged.

The study carried out at Colorado State University's Veterinary Medical Center showed that cats and dogs suffering heart attacks, seizures and general trauma turned up in greater numbers around a full moon!

The fullest phase of the moon occurring over twelve days in the moon's twenty-eight day cycle lead to an increase in emergency visits of twenty-three percent for cats and twenty-eight percent for dogs.

Whilst the study threw up no conclusive answers to why this spike had occurred, it did interest me enough to do a little delving of my own.

Regarding cats it was suggested that a possible answer could be that cats spend more time engaging in more risky hunting behaviour during a full moon phase as there is more light available to hunt by.

Whilst this isn't an unreasonable theory, it is known that cats already possess incredible night vision and use nerve receptors in their whiskers to locate potential prey which suggests darker phases of the moon might suit them better when hunting but again, that's just a theory too.

I have read that birds possibly become disorientated during a full-moon phase which leads me to think that perhaps cats have picked up on this and upscale their hunting efforts which leads to more accidents. Again, just a theory.

Dogs are often said to howl during a full moon and, like cats, become more restless. Whilst I have no conclusive answer to this it is interesting to note from a human study here that "it has been scientifically proven that the moon affects the activities and behaviour of the humans in an evident and significant degree"

The study above also went on to mention that, as with the seas and the oceans, the moon also affects the liquids of the bodies of animals and as (like us) cats and dog's bodies are highly composed of water this could well be a significant factor in them feeling a bit different during varying lunar stages.

What we do know is that the moon phases have been shown to interact with the earth's electromagnetic field and as dogs have been shown to have a strong alignment with electromagnetism and there is anecdotal evidence linking cats to it too then it comes as no surprise that this may well affect our pet's behaviour.

There's a fun article here that talks more about how lunar phases could affect your pet.

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Saturday, 10 March 2018

Top Tips For Keeping Old Dogs Mentally Fit

Just like humans, as dogs age, they benefit from being mentally stimulated.  In a recent study, researchers in Vienna taught elderly dogs to play computer games and found that they can help slow down mental deterioration. The scientists used touch-screen tasks on a computer, combined with rewards, to motivate them to perform.

The study compared computer games for elderly dogs to elderly people doing Sudoku puzzles and proposed that this could also be an alternative to more physically demanding activities.

Physical limitations often mean that elderly dogs do not get walked and many spend a great deal of their time sleeping. Inactivity can make joints cease up and the resulting pain and general lack of stimulation can lead to a general sense of apathy.

The researchers are hoping that the computer-game study might kick-start the production of a living-room friendly alternative.

But until then, try some of these simple alternatives:

1. Re-visit some basic commands – Use a puppy training manual and teach some simple commands. Target training is another great way of engaging them too.
2. The prospect of getting a reward helps release feel-good hormones. So make sure you use their favourite treat to motivate them to perform
3. Engage all their senses to stimulate different areas of the brain – For example snuffle mats encourage them to use their sense of smell and touch to find hidden food
4. Ditch the food bowl. Present some of their daily food ration in a Kong or Treat Ball so they have to work at finding it
5. Hydrotherapy can be mentally and physically stimulating for dogs that love water. The buoyancy of the water prevents concussion on the joints and helps build muscle. Make sure you find a pool with qualified hydro-therapists. Also check with your vet beforehand as there are some conditions for which swimming is not appropriate.

Applying these simple activities into an elderly dog's routine will help create positive emotions, slow down mental deterioration and improve quality of life.

Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk


Friday, 2 March 2018

Why Does My Cat…….?

All cats are individuals and have their own personality types. However there are a number of common behaviours that most cats exhibit. Knowing what some of these are and what they mean helps us understand and appreciate them just that bit more.

As a feline behaviour counsellor, here are some of the most common questions I get asked:

Why does my cat lift his tail upright, in the shape of a question mark when he meets me?
This is a greeting and is usually shown to members of cat that belong to the same social group. It’s their way of saying hello to you!

Why does my cat prefer to drink from the bird bath than his water bowl?
Cats have particular preferences to the way water is presented. However most prefer the bowl to be made out of ceramic or glass rather than plastic as that material taints the water. Wide openings to prevent their whiskers from being crushed seem to be favoured too. They also prefer to drink away from their food so dual bowls are not a good idea. Some like running water so using water fountains can help encourage drinking. Because cats are prone to kidney problems as they age, it makes sense to give them water in the most acceptable source possible.

Why does my cat knead me when I am stroking him/her?
This is a sign of security and shows that they feel safe with you. It has associations with being with their mother. When kittens suckle, they pad alternately on either side of the teats to help express milk. Certain textures can trigger this pleasant memory too which explains why some cats exhibit the behaviour when they are on a fluffy material. Some cats will even salivate excessively when being cuddled and this is thought to be linked to the emotion of anticipating the milk feed.

Why does my cat rub around my legs?
Scent profile is very important to cats. They have numerous scent glands around the face, body and tail that distribute pheromones. These pheromones are unique to each cat. Sharing this scent between other cats shows that they are part of the same social group and is only done if they are affiliated. So you should feel quite honoured that your cat is anointing you with their scent!
Cats will also rub on objects in the home. This is because being able to smell themselves gives them a sense of security. That explains why some cats can show signs of distress when there have been renovations or new decorations in the house.

Why does my cat like to scratch with his/her claws?
Cats are highly driven to scratch and this innate behaviour is believed to serve the following purposes:

• Visual territorial marking – this informs other cats about their presence in a given area
 Claw conditioning and exercising the fore limbs (important for predation).
 Marking – glands in between the toes help to distribute their scent.

Why does my cat like catnip?
Cat nip is a plant (Nepeta cataria). The active chemical in the plant is called nepetalactone which is harmless and has been likened to LSD without any of the side-effects.
Around 80% of cats seem to be attracted to its scent and act in an excited manner when they smell it. This includes rolling around on top of it and vocalising. Catnip toys can be used as environmental enrichment or to mentally stimulate in-door cats.

Why does my cat always go towards visitors who are non-cat people?

For most cats - Less is more! They tend to feel threatened by the stranger that makes a direct move towards them, puts out their hands or stares at them. The person who is non-catty therefore is more likely to attract them!

Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Are Dogs Like Us?

Working as a canine behaviour counsellor means that I often have to help people understand why their dogs react or behave in a particular way.

Attributing human emotions can be unhelpful
Often misunderstandings arise because owners ascribe human emotions to their dogs and this can be unhelpful. The term for this is anthropomorphism.

As an example, the dog that destroys things when left alone can be described by the owner as being: annoyed at being left or wanting revenge for being made to stay at home. It’s easy to see that these sorts of attributes can have serious welfare implications, particularly if the dog is punished. It’s much more likely that the dog has some separation related issues. The common motivation for this is anxiety and fear.

Another very common statement that I hear is “They knew they had done wrong because they looked guilty when I came home”. The likelihood is that when the owner returns home to find destruction, the dog is repeatedly punished. The dog now begins to anticipate this and shows body language that is misinterpreted as guilt. Turid Rugaas, an international dog trainer, has observed dogs for a number of years and describes many of these displays of body language as calming signals. So rather than feeling guilty, your dog is actually trying to calm and defuse the situation.

Examples of calming signals:
  • Yawning
  • Turing the head or body away
  • Slow movement
  • Sniffing the ground
  • Lying down
  • Shaking (as if wet)
  • Licking lips or nose licking
  • Blinking
But we do share some common emotions, don’t we?

Anthropodenial is the opposite of anthropomorphism: Not being able to see any human-like characteristics in other animals. This too can be dangerous

As most dog owners know, we do share some feelings and are motivated by similar things. For instance, it is clear that dogs feel fear and anxiety. Take the dog that trembles and shakes when it is taken to the vets – that’s a bit like the human who has a fear of the hospital or the dentist.  And try telling me that my dog isn't able to feel joy and happiness when she's chasing her ball in the park!

Being open to our similarities can help an owner understand their dog's behaviour problem. Client education is crucial when getting some one on board with a behaviour modification plan. In my experience compliance is much greater when the owner can sympathise with their dog. It also helps with training if they can see how reward and praise has the same motivating effect on them as it does with us.

So having a balance is important. Being able to appreciate and compare a dog’s feelings with our own is a good starting point. But being mindful of our differences prevents misunderstandings and makes for a more harmonious relationship.  And that’s something we should all want - isn't it?

Caroline Clark is a recognised expert in canine behaviour and more information can be found at www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk