Your Pet’s Pearly Whites: Pet Dental Health Month
Many people believe that pets naturally have bad breath. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Odor from your pet's mouth could indicate serious dental damage. The good news is, there are steps you can take to keep Rover's mouth as clean as a (dog) whistle. There is no better time than the beginning of February to update your knowledge on pet dental health: it is Pet Dental Health Month!
Just like with your mouth, the first step in maintaining pet dental health is regular preventative cleaning. The best way to do this is to brush your dog or cat's teeth daily, although this is not always a possibility. If you cannot perform regular daily brushing on your pet, the next best thing is to do so several times per week. Dogs are generally agreeable when it comes to brushing, while cats are usually not huge fans. It is important to be patient and reward them afterwards.
There are also products on the market that claim to help with pet dental health, but it is best to talk to your veterinarian to get their recommendation first.
Professional Dental Care
Human dental care and pet dental care share another important aspect: they both require regular professional checkups. Make sure to bring your pet to a veterinarian at least once a year, and be sure that the veterinarian checks on your pet's dental health. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, if you notice any of the below problems with your pet, you should get them checked out more regularly:
- Broken teeth
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Reduced appetite or other abnormal eating behaviors
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Swelling around the mouth
If you have been neglecting to care for your pet's dental health, Pet Dental Health Month is a great time to start.
- Health Mutt Store Admin
Transitioning Your Cat's Food with Cat Treats
So you're thinking about changing your cat's food. Whether you're doing it for health, you want to change the type of food, or you just want to get your cat onto a rotational diet, convincing your cat to eat something new can be difficult. After all, new is scary! Their instincts tell them that something they don't recognize might make them sick, so they're often skeptical of anything different in their bowl.
While there are many ways to help convince your cat to eat something new, an often overlooked technique is using treats.
When using this method, you want the treat to be high value. Because cats are carnivores, this means that the meatier a treat is, the better.
First, you need to find the treat that your cat can't seem to live without. This can take some time, but we recommend using an animal protein they're already familiar with, and then finding a matching treat. Jerky, dehydrated snacks, or a meaty cookie are all great options.
Next, begin adding small pieces of the treats to the food you're already feeding. Do not give them the treats outside of this time so that they come to expect it with their meals. Just a couple of feedings should be enough.
Third, begin the transition. If your cat has been eating the same food for a long time, you're going to want to take this slowly. While their bodies are quick to adapt, their minds can take some convincing. You'll want to mix 75% of the old food with 25% of the new. Alternatively, for the super picky eaters, start with just a dollop of the new food. Make sure you're mixing in the treats! This will be the familiarity that helps convince them the new food is OK.
Once they seem OK with this change, move them to 50% old food with 50% new food: keep using the treats. Then it will be 25% old food and 75% new food.
After a week or two, you can transition them entirely onto the new food. Just be sure to give them their treats so there's still something extra delicious from their old food.
Finally, you can slowly remove the treats from their meals and give them to your cat as you normally would. By now, your cat should be seamlessly enjoying their new diet!
Now, if you're moving from kibble to canned, freeze-dried, or raw, or you just don't want to get into feeding treats, you can use kibble or air-dried food the same way. We recommend using a high quality food. Using an old favorite while you transition you cats to new textures and types of food (the ultra-scary transition) will really entice them to eat without sacrificing any nutrition or health in the process.
Whatever your reason for changing your cat's food, cat treats can make the transition easy and stress-free for everyone involved.
- Health Mutt Store Admin
Could Your Pets Suffer From SAD?
Humans and dogs share similar brain chemistry, according to science.
With this being said, one study shows that one in three pet-owners believe their pets suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder: a type of depression that is characterized by multiple symptoms during certain times of year.
Because of the shorter days and longer nights, our biological responses begin to change. We use less serotonin and more melatonin.
Similarly, cats and dogs can also struggle to retain their usual energy and great attitudes because they, too, have the same kinds of biological makeup as far as hormones and neurotransmitters go.
If you notice your pets being a little more tired, a little less hungry, or generally not as energetic as they usually are, there are a few things you can do to ensure they make it through the long dog days of winter.
Make the most of the sunlight. Take your dog for a walk or make sure there is a nice, warm, sunny windowsill for Fluffy the cat. Sunlight is an important part of the production of serotonin.
Although cats don't care too much for walks outside, they do love playing with toys and chasing lasers. Dogs, too, can benefit greatly from the stimulation of play. This will help them rest fully and wake up more energized and excited.
If your pets are indoor pets, they may need a slight change in diet because of the lowered amount of exercise they will be getting. Conversely, if your dog is an outdoor type, they may need two to three times more food than they do during the warmer months.
Regardless of whether you keep your animals inside or outside or whether they are SAD or not, there is no doubt the need for your extra attention during the cold months is necessary to keep them happy and healthy.
- Health Mutt Store Admin
The Joys of Dog Toys
Toys--we all love them! From tiny tots' blocks and teddy bears, to grown ups' cars and tools, toys make life more fun! But you don't have to be human to enjoy the benefits of a good plaything. Dogs love them too!
Providing your dog as a puppy with well-made toys puts him on a path of play for life. A sedentary lifestyle for our furry buddies, as for us humans, can lead to obesity and other secondary health concerns. Regular exercise is important, and playtime is a great way to get that exercise--not to mention the quality bonding time it provides for those who walk on two legs with those who walk on four!
Here are a few tips on how to get your canine pal interested in toys:
- Show interest in the toys yourself first by tossing it around and being excited when your dog shows an interest, too. Many dogs love silly, enthusiastic voices!
- Try interactive toys, especially ones that dispense food, to keep him eager to play.
- Rotate toys if your dog seems to become disinterested in those you've made readily available. Remember that pets can get bored, too!
- Try playing hide-and-seek with your dog by carrying along a noise-maker. Not only will the treat be finding you, but you can make a big deal out of him finding the squeaky thing as well!
- If you're playing indoors, encourage your dog to find a toy that you hide under a blanket or small rug.
- Remember that your enthusiasm will rub off, so really ham it up for your pup!
The advantages of having your furry friend attached to playing with dog toys range from exercise to improved behavior (such as less chewing on shoes and furniture). Well-designed toys last longer than cheap ones and are safer, so the investment is worthwhile, especially since your pooch will receive both physical and mental stimulation from his playthings.
So isn't it time that your hairy best buddy gets a new toy?
- Health Mutt Store Admin
Car Travel with Your Dog: 5 Safety Tips to Follow
As a dog owner, you'll probably take your canine companion to the veterinarian, pet store, park and other locations in a typical year. However, you should follow these safety tips to reduce the risk of injury while promoting a positive and enjoyable experience.
#1) Don't Allow Your Dog to Roam Free
While it may seem harmless, you shouldn't allow your dog to roam free in the car. There are simply too many things that can go wrong with an unrestrained dog: he could distract you, get underneath your feet, or sustain serious injury in the event of a collision.
#2) Restrain Your Dog
Rather than allowing your dog to roam the car, use a safety harness or crate to restrain him. Safety harnesses are designed to work with your car's existing seat belt. Once your dog is secured inside the harness, you can connect it to the seat belt; thus, preventing him from moving around. Alternatively, you can use a crate to restrain your dog, although you'll also need to secure it in place.
#3) Stop Frequently
When driving long distances with your canine companion, stop frequently as pet-friendly rest areas so your dog can walk around and do his business. Forcing your dog to ride for long periods of time without stopping may lead to car travel anxiety. And if your dog becomes anxious of car travel, he may hesitate the next time you want to travel with him.
#4) Bring Food and Water
Regardless of how far you are driving, bring a small container of dog food and some bottled water. You never know when your car will break down, leaving you and your dog stranded. If you have food and water, though, you can rest assured knowing that your dog is comfortable until help arrives.
#5) ID Tag
If your dog doesn't have an ID tag, you should get one before taking him on car rides. Hopefully, this doesn't happen, but if your dog escapes without an ID tag you may have trouble finding him. If it has an ID tag, however, the two of you will have an easier time reuniting.
- Health Mutt Store Admin
The Do's and Don'ts of Taking Your Dog to Dog Parks
Dog parks can provide an excellent source of exercise and socialization for both you and your canine companion. These parks generally provide a large, fenced-in area where dogs can run and play in safety, and many owners enjoy the benefit of meeting fellow dog lovers as well. There are some general guidelines that are required to ensure the safety of both your dog and other visitors of the park.
Weight and Size Regulations
Some dog parks are split into separate, fenced-in sections according to the weight and size of the dog. DO take these guidelines seriously and make sure your dog is in the correct area. DON'T assume that because your dog is old, gentle, or otherwise good-natured, that he is an exception to the rule. Large dogs can hurt smaller dogs, even unintentionally. If your dog is on the cusp of the weight restriction, choose the larger area to prevent injuries to other patrons.
Most dog parks require that your dog is up to date on all vaccinations including rabies, parvo, distemper and bordetella. DO make sure that your dog is up to date on these vaccines and be sure to have him wear his rabies tag. DON'T bring an unvaccinated puppy or older dog to the park. Not only are you putting your dog's health at risk, you are potentially endangering other dogs as well.
Dogs that are found to be habitually aggressive are generally banned from using the dog park, but there are rarely employees on site to check and enforce this. DO make sure that your dog plays well with others. If another dog is behaving aggressively toward your pet, politely ask the owner to control their dog's behavior. If they do not comply, remove your dog from the park until the other dog isn't present. DON'T bring your dog to the park if you know he has a tendency toward aggression. If your dog is a victim of aggressive behavior, do not escalate the situation by arguing with the other owner. Dogs are sensitive to our moods, and raised voices could turn a simple bullying situation into a full-fledged dogfight in a hurry.
Cleaning Up After Your DogAll dog parks will require that you clean up any waste products left on the grounds by your dog. Some will provide little bags with which to do so. This is important, as besides being messy and smelly, waste products can often transfer parasites from one animal to another. Do always clean up after your dog and bring your own bags in the likelihood that the supplied bags are not there. DON'T assume someone else will clean up after your dog. It's your responsibility to pay attention to where your pet does his business and clean it up right away. The dog park is a valuable resource for pet owners, do your part to make sure it stays that way.
- Health Mutt Store Admin