HEALTH AND WELLNESS
It's never too late to paws and breathe.
SUMMER is here and if you can feel the heat, so can your pets.
It may be bright and sunny outside, but summer has a dark side – excessive heat that can be harmful to pets. The main reason hot weather is a serious issue for dogs, cats, rabbits and other furry pets is because they are not able to cool off as efficiently and so they can easily suffer from dehydration, heat stroke, and sunburn.
Heat stroke, for example, can send an energetic dog to a comatose state if its temperature reaches over 40°C or higher or around 104-110°F. Heat stroke's symptoms include heavy panting, salivating, staggering, vomiting and diarrhea. Time is of the essence to bring the dog's temperature down before it reaches a clinic.
To beat the heat, follow these simple and practical ways to cool pets down:
TO KEEP BUNNIES COOL:
* Keep rabbits away from the sun, even when they are outdoors. See to it that there are shaded spots where they could run to.
* On a hot day, a rabbit should always have cold water to drink and a ceramic tile to lie on. Putting ice in their water bowl is a good idea, so is setting an electric fan to blow air into their cage.
* Occasionally wet or lightly spray the rabbit's ears with water because heat dissipates from their ears.
* Trim or remove excessive fur by brushing. Summer calls for short coat.
* Leave a sealed icy bottle of water or any frozen item inside the rabbit's cage as a cooling medium.
* Keep rabbits hydrated by providing not just water, but also fruits and vegetables.
* Bring them indoors, if possible, if the temperature outside becomes unbearably hot.
TO KEEP CATS COOL:
* Give cats access to fresh, cold or chilled water.
* Give them a bath.
* Make them “catsicles” or a big ice dome they could lick.
* Let them stay in cool places in and out of the house, especially during the hottest time of the day (from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
* Provide them with shady places outside where they could stay.
* Get them a cooling pad to lie on.
* Don't leave kitty inside the car.
* If kitty hates bathing, just wipe them down with cold, damp towel.
* Be kind to let them inside the house, especially when the air conditioner is on.
Are black cats and other animals covered in dark fur more likely to feel hotter? Some argue that they could because black attracts heat, but many cat owners also say they don't see much difference between their black and other light-colored cats' handling of excessive heat and humidity.
However, pale-colored cats are more susceptible to getting sunburned, particularly where fur is thin such as in their ears, noses and the sides of the foreheads. A cat's sunburned skin can become red, tough and flaky so it's recommended to protect and treat the areas mentioned with a non-toxic waterproof sunblock made for pets.
TO KEEP DOGS COOL:
* Give them cold water and cold treats such as an ice cube, a frozen treat or a pet-friendly popsicle.
* Let them swim or give them more baths
* Don't walk the dog on hot asphalt roads or concrete that can blister or burn their paws
* Use pet sunscreen for light colored dogs such as white pit bulls and great Danes as they easily get sunburned.
* Cut excessive long furry coats.
* Avoid involving your dog in strenuous activities in the heat. Dogs should walk in shady places only early morning or late afternoon.
* Don't use muzzle on dogs, especially on hot days. Dogs need to be able to pant to release body heat.
* Bring them inside the house when the weather is at its hottest.
* Don't take them on long road trips, and don't leave them inside the car even for just a few minutes.
* Give your dog a cooling pad. It help dogs feel relaxed even when the weather is hot.
CALLING all pet owners. February 28 is World Spay and Neuter Day, a good time to have your dogs and cats fixed if you haven't already.
Spaying and neutering dogs and cats benefits not only them but also their human families and their neighborhoods. Fixed pets are healthier and calmer and obviously are no longer in danger of having unwanted litters.
Overpopulation leaves many unwanted animals in the streets where they are exposed to the elements, starvation and abuse or cruelty. When the population of cats and dogs are kept in control, so are the cases of neglect, abandonment and euthanasia at pounds.
For a more affordable spay/neuter procedure for your pets, contact animal welfare groups such as the Philippine Animal Welfare Society and CARA Welfare Philippines or inquire at the UP Veterinary Medicine office inside the UP Diliman campus. -- MetroPets
THE stork has visited your cat, what will you do?
A pregnant cat can use some extra tender loving care and there are ways you can help to make her and her kittens healthy and comfortable. The same is true with pregnant dogs.
Experts from Pet Food Institute and the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines have the following tips to ensure a safe and sound maternity for cats and dogs.
ENSURE THAT YOUR PET IS IN BEST HEALTH
Balanced and sound nutrition is essential for any cat or dog, and pregnant pets may have additional specific nutritional requirements. It’s important to discuss your pregnant pet’s food needs with a veterinarian.
Providing measured portions of food can help in regulating the size and weight of the pet. You don’t want your pet to gain or lose excess weight during pregnancy, which may lead to delivery complications. For dogs, doing regular exercises, like going for a walk or a game of fetch, can help them stay healthy before labor. Plenty of rest is also important for them to recharge and refuel.
PROVIDE A WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT
A safe and secluded spot in the house is the most ideal place for your pregnant pet to rest. Make all her necessities, such as water and food, accessible, and place soft bedding for her to rest on. Remember that she needs her personal space, so keep her away from areas of heavy foot traffic around the house to avoid stress.
KEEP THEM CLEAN
Your soon-to-be-mom cat or dog should be clean and free of ticks and parasites. Give her a regular wet or dry bath and brush her fur regularly.
PROVIDE DRINKING WATER
Pregnant pets should always have clean and fresh water available to them. Try putting up water stations around the house for their convenience.
GIVE COMFORT AND SUPPORT
Stay with and watch over your pet closely once she goes into labor, probably even if she's delivering her litter at a clinic. The presence of abnormal amount of blood and or colored mucous or pus should make you want to get veterinary help immediately.
After giving birth, your mother cat or dog will need more nutrition to feed her litter. Necessary adjustments to her diet should be made to maintain her health and that of her new family.
PFI aims to promote pet health by encouraging pet owners to choose carefully formulated, nutritionally complete, and balanced US-commercial pet food products. With their Well Fed, Well Nurtured campaign, PFI seeks to drive awareness of responsible pet ownership throughout the Philippine pet community through proper feeding and regular veterinary care.
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.
* First aid treatment for toad poisoning in dogs