Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Don't forget your Cat..few points on Cat Health Management

1. Regular Veterinary check:
It is a myth that cats are self sufficient and don't need the regular care a dog needs. Cats need a wellness check up by the Vet on a regular basis, at least twice a year, to keep check on health issues with regards to nutrition and weight, dental check, behavioral changes as they age and regular vaccination and deworming. As your cat ages past 8yrs, the frequency of visits will need to increase to read the signs and avoid age related problems from setting in.

2. Yearly Vaccination:
Vaccinating your cat even though he maybe entirely an indoor cat is not an option but should be mandatory. Vaccination is done to maximize our ability to prevent infectious diseases in our pets. It starts at 6-8wks of age and after the initial boosters it should be repeated on a yearly basis to maintain the required immunity levels in the body. You must discuss the required protocol with your veterinarian.
The core vaccines that need to be given are against Rabies, Panleukopenia (causing very contagious viral disease), Calcivirus(causing severe flu and oral disease) and Herpes virus (causing Infectious Rhinotracheitis respiratory infection).

3. Parasite control:
External parasites like fleas, ticks and lice are commonly found on cats that are not maintained properly or in unhygienic environments. This leads to irritated skin, hot spots, hair loss and infection. Fleas are hosts for tapeworms so all it takes is a lick from the cat to swallow a flea which leads to a tapeworm infestation. Thus regular grooming and oral deworming once in 3-6 months is very important to maintain your cat's condition.

4. Spay and Neuter:
Whether your cat is a completely indoors or roams outdoors as well it is a very important decision and responsible parenting to choose to spay/neuter her/him. It is the procedure done to sterilize and prevent your cat from further breeding. There are so many health benefits in this procedure. Here are a few:
*Spaying your female before her first heat cycle best protects her from developing uterine infections and breast cancer which leads to 90% fatality in cats.
*Neutering males before 6mths can prevent testicular cancer which is a common problem in older pets.
*You can avoid the stress the poor female cat goes through during her heat cycle which is usually for 4-5 days every 3-4weeks during breeding season. This is accompanied with mood swings, yowling loudly and frequent urinating, usually all over the house.
*Neutering prevents your male from roaming in search of a mate and getting injured either by other males or with traffic.
*Prevents overpopulation. Every year so many cats and abandoned or euthanized as they don't have homes. This could be prevented by just sterilizing your cats and the street cats around as well.

5. Grooming: 
Grooming is an excellent way to bond with your pet and be rewarded with loud rumbling purrs. Avoid baths unless really needed as cats have a natural cleaning mechanism by licking themselves, but you can aid them by regular brushing to prevent too much shedding and hair ball issues. Long hair cats need to be brushed on a daily basis while shorthair cats can be brushed 2-3 times a week. Start them young so they get used to the procedure and then starts looking forward towards it. 
Bathing in cats can be tricky and each cat has its own preferences. Just avoid pouring water directly on the head or trying to submerge the cat. Place the cat in a tub and use a sponge or a small cup and pour the water on the body from a close distance. Avoid water from entering the ears or nose. Make sure the shampoo is washed off throughly. Towel dry your cat or use cool air from the dryer as hot air can burn your little one's delicate skin.

6. Weight control:
Overfeeding with lack of exercise leads to an overweight cat. This is a very common problem in indoor cats. Obesity can lead to health conditions like diabetes, arthritis and cancer. It is very important to stick to a veterinary prescribed diet based on pet age, lifestyle and weight where calorie intake is monitored.

7. Mental stimulation:
An empty mind is a Devils workshop , and this is so apt for cats. They need an enriched environment for their overall development, long term health benefits by regular exercise and to stay away from trouble. Toys, scratch posts and running-chasing games avoid boredom which may lead to unwanted behavioral habits especially in hyper young kittens. 
Tip: don't replace your old worn out scratch post cause that's when your cat likes it the best and incase you replace it he may switch to the arm of your couch!

8. Litter box maintainence: 
It is very important to keep the litter box clean for basic hygiene purpose and to encourage you cat actually to use it. Litter needs to be cleaned on a daily basis to prevent a smelly house, a sick cat as they will not use dirty litter and avoid infections like toxoplasmosis which is transmitted through stool which is not cleaned over 24hrs. Wash the box once a week with warm water and detergent and dry well before adding fresh litter. Always use gloves and wash your hands well after handling the litter.

9. Senior cat care:
When a cat crosses 8yrs of age he is referred to as a senior cat. Older cats need special attention as one must observe for signs of discomfort, inappetence or abnormal behavior and immediate get them checked by the Vet before the condition gets worse. Extra care that needs to be taken in a senior cat:
* Regular blood checks and vet examination to monitor kidney function as kidney failure is a common problem in old cats.
* Due to inactivity it can lead to excessive nail growth so regular trimming needs to be done.
* Diet needs to changed to an easily digestible diet and prevent over feeding as lack of exercise can lead to obesity.
* Regular supplements need to be given to keep the bones and joints strong. 
Always check with your Vet before starting or changing any diet or supplement.

10. Training your cat:
Yes, you can train your cat, only that you need to convince him that the trick was worth it! Cats are individuals and each react differently when trained. Thus you need to be patient, repetitive and always use positive reinforcement.When training motivate your cat with tasty food bits, a favorite toy, catnip or a preferred tickle. Use what the cat demands from you as an incentive while training.
You can start with a simple command like "sit" or "up" or "hi5". Use hand signals and a gesture with the verbal command to indicate to the cat what you are expecting. Make sure your have their complete attention. Example, you can pat a chair and say "sit" so when the cat comes and sits beside you, reward her with a treat. In this way she will associate the gesture with what you expect from her.

Cats are extremely intelligent animals and have a personality of their own, but they too love being cuddled and played with from time to time. So don't forget to spoilt your little furry bundles, afterall a little bit of love goes a long way with them!!

                          - Dr. Nezhat Belgamvala 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Dog Yoga or "Doga" as it's commonly called

A little reference about what exactly Doga  is all about. Quoting directly from Wikipedia :

Doga (a portmanteau of "Dog Yoga") is the practice of yoga with pet dogs.

Through acts of meditation, gentle massage, and stretching, doga practitioners seek to achieve a greater harmony with their dogs. Canine acupuncture and chanting are also known to take place within the occasional doga routine.

In Doga, the submissive dogs and their human masters work as one unit - the masters help their dogs facilitate different poses and, in some cases, the pets are used as props or instruments while the masters perfect their poses. This is seen to be a Zen way of practicing non-traditional yoga and training, while exploring power play dynamics.

Doga has received some criticism from the yoga community. Doga classes have been labeled inappropriate for trivializing the sacred practice by turning it into a "fad", for their lax policies on teacher certification, and for the dogs' interference in participants' concentration and relaxation when they are not properly trained to cooperate.

We at PetStepin' have our own Doga expert "Abhi" the pug.. He has a variety of positions but this sit-sleep posture is his all time favorite. We all have to learn the art of complete relaxation from our master Doga expert!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Weekend plans..

So the group decides to discuss plans for the weekend. Snoopy the pug is super excited and quite the talker..

Snoopy: hey guys what say you...let's start with tag..then the winner will be the guy who hides in hide and seek ..then we can play catch your tail ...blah blah blah ...

Milo, the golden retriever: Wow Snoopy..that sounds exhausting ..I'm out..guess I'll catch a Snooze!!

Snoopy doesn't give up..he turns to Simba, the German Shepard, and Leo, the lab.. "So guys what say you? Ready for some fun" 

Simba: ummmm huh well ..I'm not so sure Snoop 

Leo: *snore snore* Zzzzzz

Meanwhile in another corner the others were deciding what they should do.

Ginger, the Golden Retriever, to Cookie, the Cocker, : hey Cookie should we play Catch?? And the winner gets to choose the next game..

Cookie: that sounds like funnnn..lets go...I got a head start..Hehehehe 

Simba ambles on to Ringo.." Hey Ringo, what's happening dude?" 

Ringo: am chasing Boosa..he thinks he just too quick ..wanna join my team??

Boosa bolts off like a bike : Eat my dust !! I've been named Boosa for a reason!! 

And off they all dart across PetStepin'.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Am I really risking my pets life by feeding them human food?

Read on to understand the reason why your Vet recommends you to feed your pets their special diet. This is just a brief review of a few of the common things you must avoid feeding your cats and dogs.

1. Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine

Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that is toxic to dogs in large enough quantities. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, and certain soft drinks. Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine and caffeine. For example, dark chocolate and baking chocolate contain more of these compounds than milk chocolate does, so a dog would need to eat more milk chocolate in order to become ill. However, even a few ounces of chocolate can be enough to cause illness in a small dog, so no amount or type of chocolate should be considered “safe” for a dog to eat. Chocolate toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid or irregular heart rate, restlessness, muscle tremors, and seizures. Death can occur within 24 hours of ingestion.

2. Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause acute (sudden) kidney failure in cats and dogs. Clinical signs can occur within 24 hours of eating and include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy (tiredness). Other signs of illness relate to the eventual shutdown of kidney functioning.

3. Avocados

The avocado tree leaves, pits, fruit, and plant bark are likely all toxic. Clinical signs in dogs and cats include vomiting and diarrhea.

4. Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions contain chemicals that damage red blood cells in cats and dogs. Affected red blood cells can rupture or lose their ability to carry oxygen effectively. Cooking these foods does not reduce their potential toxicity. Fresh, cooked, and/or powdered garlic and/or onions are commonly found in baby food, which is sometimes given to animals when they are sick, so be sure to read food labels carefully.

5. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are common in candies and chocolates. The clinical signs of macadamia nut toxicity in dogs include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint pain, and pale gums. Clinical signs can occur within 12 hours after eating. In some cases, signs can resolve without treatment in 24 to 48 hours, but patient monitoring is strongly recommended.

6. Chewing gum, Candy and Mints

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in products such as gum, candy, mints, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Xylitol is harmful to dogs because it causes a sudden release of insulin in the body that leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Xylitol can also cause liver damage in dogs. Within 30 minutes after eating, the dog may vomit, be lethargic (tired), and/or be uncoordinated.  However, some signs of toxicity can also be delayed for hours or even for a few days. Xylitol toxicity in dogs can be fatal if untreated.

7. Alcohol 

Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death, if consumed in large quantities.

8. Excessive salt - Chips, Potato Fries

While a pinch of salt is fine in dog food to maintain their electrolyte balance, large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. 

9. Raw/ Undercooked Meat and Raw Egg

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets causing Gastroenteritis. Symptoms include that of food poisoning and can sometimes be fatal. This is very common especially in warm countries like ours where the cold chain for the meat preservation is not maintained.

In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Thus always boil your eggs well if you want to add that as a protein source to your pets food.

10. Raw Bones

Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract. Thus one must completely avoid feeding bone, especially chicken bones to pets who are not experienced in eating them.

Many cases of human food toxicity in pets are accidental. A pet may find and chew on a package of gum or candy, or steal food from a countertop or table. The best way to prevent this is to keep all food items in closed cabinets or in areas that are inaccessible to pets. This may be particularly difficult during the holiday season, when more sweets, chocolate, fruit baskets, and other food items are around. During these times, increased vigilance can help prevent pets from finding and eating dangerous foods. Children should be taught at a young age not to feed pets table scraps. If you suspect that your pet has eaten a potentially hazardous item, contact your veterinarian immediately.

This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Two peas in a pod

Here at PetStepin' you will always see us in pairs..either chilling under the trees, or by the water bowls or lying on one another..we are always together!! 

Whether it  Puppy and Scruffy sharing the stage..

Or Champ serenading Cara..

Or Annabus and Champ striking a pose..it's just fun to have a partner in crime ;) 

This is how we say Cheers..by touching tail tips!! Have a great day!! 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Wrestle Mania at PetStepin'

It's such fun to watch these naughty little ones toss and turn and twist around with each other as they play.

Annabus and Toffee are both boarding with us on long stays. They met at PetStepin' and just bonded immediately. Now you can find them wrestling and knocking each other over all day in the sand outside or inside the house!!

And the best part is the music that happened to be playing at the time just coordinated so well ;)