HEALTH AND WELLNESS
It's never too late to paws and breathe.
A balanced diet, regular exercise, proper grooming and regular veterinary care are essential in keeping your pet healthy. However, pets can only express themselves through barks, meows and movements, so it's not always easy to tell if they are experiencing pain or discomfort.
Pet Food Institute and the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines, through its Well Fed, Well Nurtured campaign, impart a head-to-toe checklist that identifies signs of a healthy pet.
Healthy cats have clear and bright eyes. Any irregularities like redness or mucus excretion can mean infection or nutrient deficiency. If the cat squints or blinks with one eye, it could indicate injuries like a scratch, or a foreign matter may be stuck in the eye area.
Dogs should have bright and shiny eyes. It’s normal for dogs to have mucus and tears in their eyes, but it should be minimal, clear and not yellowish. Swollen or reddish eyes are not normal and could be a symptom of a bigger eye health problem.
The ears of both cats and dogs should have minimal to zero amount of wax. Any crusty build-up could lead to swelling inside the ear. If they shake their heads frequently, it might be a symptom of ear mites or ear infection. Unpleasant odor that lingers after ear cleaning could mean an infection.
A healthy cat’s nostrils should be mucus-free. A cat may sometime sneeze due to allergies or dust but continuous sneezing accompanied by gagging hints of a possible foreign matter inside its nasal passage.
A dog’s nose is leathery, cool, and moist. They sometimes have nasal discharge but it should be minimal and never yellowish. A dog's wet nose does not always mean it is healthy, and a warm and dry nose does not always mean it's sick.
Both cats and dogs have pink or black lips, depending on the breed. As they age, they may develop black spotting around their lips. Inside their mouth must be pink, including the tongue, and their teeth should ideally be white and tartar free. Any evidence of dental diseases such as foul breath odor, gum bleeding or gum redness should be examined by a veterinarian.
COAT AND SKIN
Cats and dogs should have shiny coats that don't harbor ticks and fleas. Shedding is normal but must not be too excessive. Depending on the breed, cats and dogs' coats can turn lighter or darker as they age. However, a very dull coat is a sign that the animal may have a health concern.
APPETITE AND BOWEL
The consistency and appearance of a pet’s stool can say a lot about its overall health. Most dogs have bowel movements twice a day, while cats do it at least once a day. Their urine should not be too yellow, while their feces should neither be too hard or too soft. If both their urine and stool have blood or parasites, it might be a case of rectal or anal dysfunction.
A healthy pet is the result of responsible pet care with the right balance of safe and nutritious food and exercise. Dogs and cats should be provided with pet foods that are carefully formulated to meet their unique nutritional requirements. Pet Food Institute maintains that safe and nutritious pet food contributes to the total well-being of the pet that leads to a long and healthy life.
TREATMENT for bites, scratch and lick of potentially rabid animals is now compensable with PhilHealth and available in more accredited clinics.
The agency recently announced that there are now 154 accredited animal bite treatment centers (ABTCs) with the capacity to provide vaccines to combat rabies problems among PhilHealth members and their dependents.
Also, PhilHealth members and dependents undergoing anti-rabies treatment are entitled to avail of the Animal Bite Treatment Package (ABT), fixed at P3,000 to any of the accredited Out-Patient Animal Bite Treatment Center (ABTC) and Animal Bite Center (private facilities) in the country.
The ABT package include payment for treatment due to bites of dogs, domestic and livestock animals such as cats, pigs, horses, goats and wild animals like bats and monkeys. Transdermal bites, even exposure to rabies patient through bites and those handling infected carcass and ingestion of raw infected meat can also be covered.
This package includes Post–Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) services like rabies vaccine, rabies immune globulin, local wound care, tetanus toxoid and anti-tetanus serum, antibiotics and other supplies used.
The total costs of treatment for animal bite patients who are PhilHealth Sponsored Program members shall be entirely covered by the said package, whereby “no balance billing” policy of PhilHealth applies. However, employed and self-employed members are required of three months payment within six months before the month of confinement to qualify for the package, while OFWs, Lifetime and SP members are covered within the validity of their membership.
CATS and dogs are at high risk of getting cancer when exposed to secondhand smoke.
This is one of the key take-away points shared by scientists from the University of Glasgow which is completing a study into the effects of secondhand smoke on domestic pets.
Aside from possibly getting cancers, dogs and cats exposed from secondhand cigarette smoke at home will likely suffer from cell damage and weight gain.
Between dogs and cats, the latter proved to suffer more from the direct impact of secondhand smoke, said the Scottish institution. This is because cats not only can inhale the smoke, they can also take it in when they self-groom themselves.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
A FRIEND sent me a video link of cats getting startled by cucumbers and asked: “Are cats really scared of cucumbers?” I said “No!”, as swift as a cat scampering away from a, well, cucumber?
With the recent deluge of Internet videos showing unsuspecting cats getting startled and scared by cucumbers that people secretly placed behind them, animal behaviorists are now asking cat owners to not pull this kind of mean joke on cats anymore as it endangers the animal's well-being.
Getting cats scared this way usually become severely stressed and experts warn that it could create a more permanent psychological problem.
It's not the cucumber per se that scares the cats, but the element of surprise. Even people could get scared at anything and everything that happens to creep up from behind them.
The videos usually show cats getting surprised by cucumbers when and where they are eating. There is a chance a cat will no longer want to visit its food area if a “cucumber apparition” happened there because cats like to eat where they feel safe and in peace.
Aside from the emotional trauma, the sudden surprise can also get cats hurt as they uncontrollably leap through the air and run mad, sometimes colliding with furniture and doors.
The prank is quite mean and no self-proclaimed cat lover should put a cat through such a fur-raising experience.
If you want to introduce a cat to a cucumber, make it part of its diet or make it a spa-treatment as shown in this photo:
IS your pet a picky eater? Food is one of the strongest stimulus that can effectively elicit a response in animals, so it's not normal for a pet to ditch its food.
The Pet Food Institute and the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines, through its Well Fed, Well Nurtured campaign, believe health issues, bad food and bad habits can cause pets to be picky eaters.
A pet's sudden loss of appetite is a cause for concern. Check if your pet's weight has drastically gone up or down. Diarrhea and or vomiting are indications that your pet should be immediately checked by a veterinarian.
Observe if your pet is feeling any discomfort or pain that hinders it from eating its food. Let a veterinarian examine your pet’s mouth for sores, tumors, bad teeth or foreign objects.
Check the quality of food you give your pets and the expiry date. Gradually introduce new flavor to their food to stimulate their appetite. Dry and wet food can be mixed together to boost flavor.
Also, pets want a clean, safe, calm and regular place to eat. You won't like eating in a noisy place with dirty tableware, so why should your pet do?
Irregular feeding routines and too much treats in between meals that are tastier and more interesting can make pets pick on their regular food. Getting pets accustomed to eating human food may also affect their food preference. Table scraps don’t have the adequate amount of nutrition that should make pets healthy, not obese. Nutritionally sound pet food should not be substituted with treats and human food.
Like children, pets could also use some positive reinforcements when they eat the right food for them. Praise them or pat them on the head after they finish eating their food.
WELL FED, WELL NURTURED
Pet Food Institute encourages pet owners to provide nutritionally balanced pet foods that are also scientifically produced and safe for pets to enjoy. The Well Fed, Well Nurtured campaign of PFI and VPAP aims to bolster awareness on responsible pet ownership through expert guidance and proper nutrition.
PFI represents the companies that make 98 percent of US pet food. As the industry's public education and media relations resource, representative before the U.S. Congress and state and federal agencies, PFI is dedicated to promoting the overall care and wellbeing of pets, and supporting initiatives to advance the quality nutrition for dogs and cats.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
ORAL hygiene in dogs should be taken seriously as tooth problems in canine could lead to other health issues, said Earl Elvis Rabara, a veterinarian with the local brand food manufacturer Good Boy.
Speaking before a group of dog owners at the recent Cat & Dog Expo organized by Pet Express, Rabara said the plaque that formed in dogs' teeth can lead to tartar which invades gums. Infected gums, he said, leads to gingivitis and periodental diseases that can affect internal organs such as the heart, lungs and kidney.
“Cats and dogs don't really develop tooth decay unless the teeth are stressed or they've been damaged to the point that the pulp has been exposed,” he said.
But an unhealthy oral cavity can cause inflammation of heart and other types of heart conditions, warned Rabara.
He urged dog owners to start brushing their puppies' teeth to get them used to it at an early age. He even recommended the application of some peanut butter on the toothbrush so dogs would associate brushing with their favorite treat.
There are specially-formulated toothpaste for dogs, but there are also alternative products that dog owners can use to brush or clean their dog's teeth.
Rabara said Bactidol, baking soda and, to some extent, ordinary toothpaste can be used to clean a dog's teeth.
Soak a piece of cotton in Bactidol then squeeze out the excess solution. Rub the cotton around the dog's teeth, gums and tongue.
“Bactidol is safe for dogs. In fact a derivative of hexeditine is being used in some dog food formulation,” the veterinarian said. “But I don't advise using Listerine on dogs.”
He also don't recommend using ordinary human toothpaste to brush dog's teeth. While it can help clean, human toothpaste is rich in fluoride and too much of it may even lead to cancer as dogs cannot eliminate fluoride from their system, said Rabara.
Baking soda, he said, is a better alternative to fluoride toothpaste. Dog owners can use small quantity of baking soda to gently clean the dog's teeth and mouth.
“But dogs should not ingest baking soda, so with its head facing down, take a water hose to wash off the baking soda from the dog's mouth after application,” added Rabara.
Brushing or cleaning of dog's teeth should be ideally done at night after the dog has eaten its dinner and will no longer eat anything after that. Rabara emphasized that the dog's tongue should be routinely scraped gently to remove dirt.
Rabara used his session to also relaunch the Good Boy (Lamb & Beef) dry food for dogs. He said Good Boy helps keep dogs' teeth healthy with its microfiber components, especially suitable for small breeds with dense teeth that can easily develop plaque.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
WHAT calms you? Different people have various ways of tapping into their inner peace. Many perform yoga exercises to feel centered and get focused. Now, there's even “dog yoga” for people who want to experience the zen state with their canine friends.
At the recently held cat and dog expo organized by Pet Express, Brad Feliciano demonstrated some basic yoga poses that are applicable to dogs. With his svelte dog Alba, Brad showed the audience that yoga can be even more rewarding when done alongside a favorite pet.
Brad, 31, from BetterDog, said he studied dog training in the United States and has been doing yoga poses or “doga” with Alab for sometime now. Alab is a rescued Aspin adopted by Brad from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). The very obedient Alab will turn seven years old in March 2016. This wonderful dog is also one of the instructor dogs at BetterDog.
Brad and his friend yogis currently hold regular yoga sessions with their three dogs every Wednesday night from 7pm to 8pm at their place at the ground floor of G&A Building at 2303 Pasong Tamo, Ext., Makati.
He said it's preferable to prepare dogs for yoga by giving them a good walking exercise first (10 kilometers, if possible). Those who wish to enroll their dogs for yoga class should also provide Better Dog with an approval form from a veterinarian to cancel out medical issues.
“We do require a veterinarian's approval because yoga is not advisable to dogs that are overweight, have joint problems and hip dysplasia,” added Brad.
He said there are many yoga poses that dogs can do, but they cannot do back bending.
“Some yoga poses need to be adjusted to suit the animal. They can do assisted handstand although there are some dogs that, after lots of practice, can do it on their own,” Brad said.
Dog yoga, he continued, makes dogs amenable to being touched. Dog yoga also helps lengthen the dog's spine so it becomes well formed even when they get old.
“It also allows humans to discover or detect early any lump and cyst in their dogs as they get to touch and hold them more during yoga,” Brad added.
To learn more about dog yoga, watch this video clip taken during the pet expo.
DEMAND for herbal solutions for dogs and cats skin problems is growing and the most sought-after are those with Madre De Cacao extract.
More popularly known in the Philippines as “kakawate”, this leafy legume tree is valued for its wide healing properties. Extracts from its leaves, roots and barks are now finding their way in bottles of pet shampoos and conditioners as well as in bars of soap.
A quick look at what the market has to offer revealed at least six brands of Madre de Cacao infused pet products.
The Papi herbal soap is made for dogs and cats with skin problems and could use some scrubbing of pure Madre De Cacao soap. A box costs more or less P80.
The Miah dog soap and shampoo ticks (no pun intended) all the boxes when it comes to fighting off pesky ticks and fleas and providing remedy for mange, dandruff, scars, redness, itchy skin, falling hair, bad odor and dog's other stubborn skin problems. The 500ml bottle costs about P150, though some stores sell it for a bit more.
Banjo'S Wonder Herbal Soap claims to be an all-natural soap made from herbal extracts that are known to treat various skin diseases like demodectic and sarcoptic mange as well as fungal infection. Aside from Madre De Cacao, Banjo's also contains extracts from guava leaves, akapulko and makabuhay.
The makers of Lori makes several variant of their soaps and they have one that contains pure Madre De Cacao. They also added milk and herbs to the mix to condition the dog's coat. The Lori with Madre De Cacao is also made specially for smaller, toy breed dogs.
The newest bath and skin care product in the pet market, Miao Solution comes in three variants -- Wonder Sud, Shampoo to the Rescue and Skin Magic. All products credit their efficacy to the medicinal elements found in Kakawate.
MYSTERIOUS MADRE CACAO
The Mysterious Madre Cacao (MMC) line of pet products includes not just shampoo and conditioner and soap, they also have cologne. They are supposed to be suitable for both cats and dogs and they are also the most widely available brand we saw in the market.
But if you really want to go traditional, you could opt to get fresh kakawate leaves and boil them and use the water as a topical bath solution.
The Bureau of Agricultural Research said that aside from its anti-bacterial properties, the Kakawate (Gliricidia sepium) is also an effective mosquito repellant. Farmers grind the Kakawate leaves and apply them where mosquitoes alight. The Kakawate is not edible. It is actually quite poisonous and, for this reason, it is often used as rat bait.
MIAO Cat Cafe, the first cat cafe in Metro Manila, has scored another first: its own line of bath and skin care products for pets.
Branded as “Miao Solution”, the products were developed by a US-based chemist who is a relative of Miao Cat Cafe owners. The said chemist, credited for having formulated Sergeant Shampoos for dogs, incorporated Madre De Cacao extracts to develop Miao Solutions that address pets', particularly cats, skin and fur problems.
Miao Solutions consist of three products – Wonder Suds Shampoo, Shampoo to the Rescue and Skin Magic.
Wonder Suds Shampoo contains organic ingredients that are safe to use for pets. Loida Ramos Benson of Miao Cat Cafe said it has no strong oxidizing agent to clean the fur, but contains natural essential oils for long lasting scent. She added that the Wonder Suds Shampoo also contains organic anti-flea formulation and has the right pH level to control and prevent fur shedding.
Shampoo to the Rescue is made for cats and is ideal specially for those suffering from hot spots, mange, skin allergy and fungal infection. It is made from 100 percent organic ingredients and Madre de Cacao extract.
Skin Magic is a liquid spray for the treatment of skin infections. Benson said it's similar to the Shampoo to the Rescue but with more intense and fast-acting skin repair properties. It can heal common skin problems in pets in just a week of use, she added.
These Madre de Cacao-based products can be used regularly even for animals without skin problems. They are ideal not just for cats but also for dogs and even rabbits, Benson said.
Miao Solutions are the latest additions to the growing number of pet care products in the market that use Madre de Cacao as an ingredient.
Madre Cacao or Madre de Cacao is more commonly known in the Philippines as “kakawate”. It is scientifically considered as the second most important multi-purpose legume tree with wide healing properties. As a topical solution, the kakawate can help cure scabies in human and treat demodetic mange, sarcoptic mange, fungal infection, and other skin conditions in animals. In addition, Madre de Cacao is known to be a natural flea and tick remover because of its tannins and insecticide components.
Miao Solutions come in three bottle sizes. Wonder Suds Shampoo and Shampoo to the Rescue have the following similar prices: 50ml bottle for P50, 100ml bottle for P100 (plus P20 with pump), and P250ml bottle for P200 (plus P20 with pump).
Skin Magic is priced at P80 for a 50ml bottle, P120 for 100ml bottle (add P30 with pump), and P250 for 250ml bottle (add P20 with pump).
Miao Solutions will be available at Miao Cat Cafe. Benson said they eventually would want to to also make them available in pet shops and pet clinics. She said they will seek Bureau of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD) approval for their new products after the required two-year market test run. -- AJB
By ALMA J. BUELVA
THE world has gone to the cats. Whoever was the genius that thought of assigning one day in the calendar as Hug Your Cat Day has successfully solidified cats' place in our lives.
Although cat owners surely hug their cats more often than that, what makes June 4 so special is it has become a global annual event that cat lovers embrace with much affection.
Cat lovers don't need an excuse to hug their cats. Hugging a cat is good for you and your cat. Here are some very good reasons why you should do it more frequently.
STRENGTHENS EMOTIONAL BOND
Hugging makes the bond between you and your cat stronger. Cat feels loved and protected while you get to hear the ultimate relaxing purr of a cat. Hugging will make you and your cat feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
MAKES CAT WELL-ADJUSTED
The more you hug your cat, the more it becomes accustomed and relaxed around you. It becomes more trusting and less jumpy. Studies have established that well-hugged babies are less easily stressed as adults. The same can be true for pets like cats.
If hugging even a teddy bear can help some people fight anxiety, what more if it's a breathing, purring cat? Who needs a stuffed toy to hug if you have a purr machine that helps balance out your nervous system?
POSITIVE CHEMICAL REACTION
Think Oxytocin, Dopamine, Serotonin. Yes, cats have the power to shake up things inside you in a good way especially if you give them a good hug.
When we give or get a hug, our pituitary glands let oxytocin (a.k.a. love hormone) to flow through our bodies resulting in lower heart rates and cortisol hormone levels responsible for stress, high blood pressure and heart ailments.
Hugging someone, including a cat, also stimulates the release of dopamine (the pleasure hormone) into our system. Hugs can help keep dopamine levels from going south so that a person can avoid being moody and sluggish, among others.
Serotonin, like endorphins, also needs an electrifying trigger for it to help improve one's disposition and health. Serotonin fights stress and the blues. Hugging is said to help in bringing up one's serotonin levels so a person can feel better inside and out.
A hug creates a strong emotional cocoon but aside from that it actually “massages” our heart. Cat owners are said to be 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 30 percent unlikely to die from a heart disease. So, keep calm and hug a cat.
STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM
Hugs boost the immune system naturally because of all the combination of stress-relieving hormones that get activated by loving touch. Hugs also stimulate the body's thymus gland said to be responsible in regulating the production of white blood cells that fight diseases. Also, the closer you get with a cat, the more it could make you develop some sort of defense against allergens.
DETECT CAT'S HEALTH PROBLEMS
Hugging your cat allows you a good opportunity to feel its body and clue you in about something wrong under its fur. Normally, cats are very good at hiding their discomfort and don't want to be poked around. Seize the chance to find lumps or sore areas in your cat's body while its muscles are relaxed as you two hug.
MAKES THE WORLD BETTER
It may not completely bring world peace, but if lots of people would hug a cat for an extended period for a day won't this world be a better place?
Just like laughters, hugs could be the other best medicine to cure the heart and soul. Get a sweet, funny cat and you can have both!
Photos used for this article are from MetroPets readers who submitted them as entries for the Hug Your Cat Day Photo Contest 2015.
* Cats as vegetarians? Animal group says it's bad idea