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HOW SENIORS FEED THEIR PETS

When you know how seniors feed their pets, you can help them choose more balanced and nutritious, homemade alternatives
Seniors feed their pets nutritious homemade snacks of dehydrated tripe and sweet potato

Last but by no means least, the topic of how seniors feed their pets and keep them hydrated concludes the fourth and final article in this four-part series. Each week we have presented a wide range of subjects that show how retirees and those approaching retirement age care for their dogs and cats.

Even though we interviewed just over a dozen people, some of whom have multiple pets, the findings are insightful. Most importantly, they give other pet guardians ideas to try out as well as actions to avoid. It is meant to be a learning experience for all animal lovers.

OUR BODIES ARE SIMILAR 

Without nutritious food, and water that is toxin free, the body’s essential functions are compromised. This results in health issues that range from minor to life-threatening. 

With themselves in mind, humans are definitely paying greater attention to the benefits of certain foods and avoiding those which can cause harm and illness. Now, finally, people of all ages are demanding no less for the dogs and cats that share their home. 

HOMEMAKE IS BETTER 

There is a lot of discussion going on right now about recalls of dry and canned pet food because it has been found to contain harmful ingredients and even foreign matter, such as pieces of plastic. So it’s no wonder that pet parents everywhere, from millennials to retirees, are starting to prepare Fido’s and Fluffy’s food from scratch. 

Here is an introduction to some of the survey findings, facts and tips that focus on how seniors feed their pets.

FOOD AND MEALTIMES 
  • number of meals
  • free-fed or measured
  • wet or dry
  • home-cooked
  • how quickly kibble can turn rancid
TREATS AND REWARDS
  • over-treating
  • healthy treats
  • rewarding good behavior
  • parent’s guilt
  • medication disguise
WATER, QUALITY AND QUANTITY
  • tap or bottled
  • optimum daily intake
  • water fountains
  • flat-faced breeds alert
  • bowl bacteria buildup 

For details on the findings, facts and recommendations, this link will take you to MedicareFAQ where the article was first published on June 4, 2018.

https://www.medicarefaq.com/blog/food-treats-water-part-4-of-4 

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

SENIOR PET OWNERS CONCERNS

A senior pet owners concerns help rescue dog “Pandora” overcome her fears and have fun
Abused rescue dog “Pandora” is thriving and her senior pet owners concerns are decreasing

As we move along to part three in this series, I share some senior pet owners concerns which, naturally, are my concerns, too. This time they are specifically related to grooming services, transporting dogs and cats from A to B as well as going away and transferring care. 

A number of the retirees and folks approaching retirement age that I interviewed had just one pet while others had more. But the fundamental issues were apparent across the board.

OWNERS OR GUARDIANS?

Safety is a huge advocacy push of mine so I found out what precautions were being implemented by these pet parents when taking a dog or a cat on a car trip, whatever the reason may be. What not to do, and what could happen.

By the way, those readers who have been following me for a while know that I prefer to use the term pet parent, or pet guardian, or pet caregiver, and avoid the word “owner”. Why? Because animals are sentient beings, not possessions. That said, I made an exception by giving this article the title Senior Pet Owners Concerns. The reason being that a large segment of the population still relates to those words and they frequently appear in search results. 

MAKING ARRANGEMENTS

The survey also dealt with vacation time and arrangements for care when pets stay behind. In addition, I brought up the question of what provisions, if any, they had made in the event they were no longer able to provide for their furry family members. Declining health and new accommodation arrangements that do not allow pets on the premises, are the most obvious reasons.

For details on the findings, facts and recommendations, this link will take you to MedicareFAQ where the article was first published on May 7, 2018.

The Groomer, Transportation, Going Away, Transferring Care – Part 3 of 4

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

RETIREES TALK ABOUT THEIR PETS

Retirees talk about their pets and how satisfied they are with their veterinary care
Retirees talk about their pets like “Henry” who loves to nap beside his fav rag doll

For the second part in this series, retirees talk about their pets and what’s involved with caring for their dogs and cats. Those who also participated in my survey were people approaching retirement age, but not yet officially retired.

IDs

On the topic of identification, almost everyone I interviewed said that their pets were microchipped. However, they were decidedly less enthusiastic about collars and tags.

WALKS

The survey also revealed their leash preferences. A shout out to senior pet owners who use a dog harness, either made of soft fabric or one with straps. Unfortunately, too many still mistakenly believe that retractible leashes are the best thing since sliced bread. However, I am still hopeful that one day they will change their mind. 

VET VISITS

In addition, retirees talk about their pets specifically regarding what they think of the quality of care at the veterinary clinic, as well as health insurance and medical costs. 

Apart from the habits and concerns that these pet parents in retirement mention in the article, I added some very interesting facts and tips so that readers could participate in the discussion with valuable comments. For example, the success rate of getting lost pets back home when they are or are not microchipped. How to make sure a dog’s collar is not too tight or too loose. And, what to wear and take with you when out walking after dark. 

For details on the findings, facts and recommendations, this link will take you to MedicareFAQ where the article was first published on April 9, 2018.

https://www.medicarefaq.com/blog/i.d.s-restraints-walking-the-vet-part-2-of-4

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

OLDER PEOPLE AND THEIR PETS

A great example of how older people and their pets can have a great life together
“Good Jake” and Mom show how older people and their pets can enjoy a good life together

It’s a win-win situation when older people and their pets are able to enjoy a really good life together. So, I’d like to tell you a little bit about why and how I came to write various articles about seniors and their companion animals.

SOME BACKGROUND 

In case you didn’t already know, pets are my passion! I spend a lot of time every day either working with them, or writing about them. 

Soon after I launched my blog site, some nine months ago, I was invited by a private sector organization to become a contributor on their website. Delighted, I accepted and decided to initially focus on their target audience…retirees and those who are approaching retirement age.

In order to get to know this segment of the population a little better, I developed a survey for my own use, and conducted interviews, either in person, by phone, or online.  The end result is a four-part series about older people and their pets which I would like to share with all of you now. 

FIRST SET OF TOPICS 

Here are some highlights from the first article. The broader content includes not only what the interviewees told me, I also added useful facts and many tips.  The objective is to help pet-loving seniors everywhere care for their dogs and cats the best way possible and within their means.

  • the benefits to humans resulting from the companionship of pets
  • how to enrich the life of dogs and cats
  • avoiding accidents in the home
  • emergency situations

    and

  • what a renowned behavior expert calls “cat tv”

This link will take you to MedicareFAQ where the article was first published on March 12, 2018.

Retirees, their Pets and a Good Life Together – Part 1 of 4

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

HOW PETS FEEL AND ACT

Because they don’t speak our language, we often have to guess how pets feel and act the way they do. And, as you probably already know from experience, it takes time to develop a sense of what is going on inside the head of your companion dog and cat. But that’s what makes having them around so interesting and, occasionally, challenging.

Last week we introduced the topic of behavior and body language. In today’s blog we’re going to discuss a few more mood indicators and what to avoid. 

Mistakenly, a large percentage of humans believe that canine and feline behavior cues are identical. Then, after a rather painful experience, they find out—the hard way—that’s not the case.

Belly exposure is one glaring example. Read on for more tips.

If you don’t know why dogs do this, learn all about how pets feel and act the way they do
You can learn how pets feel and act by understanding why dogs sniff this part of the anatomy
A Dog
  • Food and toys: do not allow Fido to guard and prevent you from getting near what he claims is his and his alone. 

Reaction: he will almost certainly bite or even attack you.

  • Shakes toys vigorously in his mouth: this is how dogs in the wild kill their prey by breaking their neck.
  • Sniffs the rear end of other dogs: the pheromones (chemicals)  secreted by this part of the anatomy allow other dogs to know his identity.
  • What happiness looks like: happy facial expression; body relaxed; one paw tucked under his body

 

Kitty looks carefree but skills to know how pets feel and act a certain way help promote harmony at home
Kitty seems carefree but it’s helpful to develop skills to really know how pets feel and act a certain way
A Cat
  • Petting: many, many cats do not tolerate having their belly, tail or any of their paws touched so avoid doing this unless you know her very, very well. 

Reaction: she will lash out by scratching and injuring you.

  • Turns her back on you: it means she trusts you; and if she places her rear end in your face, she is being affectionate and wants to bond.
  • Tries to bite your ankles: this is play aggression; it’s her way of telling you to give her more attention and to play with her.
  • What happiness looks like: eyes half-closed and slow eye blinks; slow, deep breathing; quiet purring; slow walking gait; ears slightly forward.
Addressing The Issue

By taking the time to observe and analyze your companion animals, you will soon develop the ability to know why and how pets feel and act a certain way. This is really important. 

So, if you notice that your dog is starting to show signs of aggression, do not wait thinking that he’ll get over it in time. The fact is, the behavior will only worsen and the consequences can be very serious.

Last but not least, do seek the help of a professional, a dog behavior expert, to address this issue promptly. The expense is a small investment that is well worth it compared to any medical bills and legal expenses that will likely occur down the road.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

PET BEHAVIOR AND BODY LANGUAGE

Understanding pet behavior and body language helps pet parents avoid actions like petting a dog on the head
When you understand pet behavior and body language you will never pet a dog on the head again
When you understand pet behavior and body language you can find out why your cat is urinating on your bed
Understanding pet behavior and body language helps pet parents find out why the cat is urinating on their bed

This week’s blog is an introduction to the fascinating subject of pet behavior and body language as it related to dogs and cats. In fact, it’s one of many that I will be sharing with you over the coming months.

Some of the behaviors are in their DNA. They are passed down from generation to generation since way back when dogs and cats were wild. However, there are times when these, now, companion animals of ours can be trained to act a certain way. In addition to that, they may just acquire a particular characteristic on their own.And, another likelihood is that they will mimick what they see what other canines and felines do.

It’s All About Communicating

The body language they exhibit and the sounds they utter tell us, and other animals, what emotional state they are in. Whether they are content and relaxed, excited and playful, concerned and anxious, or defensive, fearful and in fight mode.

These visual and auditive signals may be done consciously, or otherwise, but the purpose is unquestionable. They are designed to transmit to others their intention and when the communication is successful, those other animals and humans will react accordingly. 

Here are just a few specifics to get started, with more on their way very soon.

A Dog
  • Removes food from his bowl and eats it elsewhere: he is prewired to protect his food from other animals.
  • Petting: avoid the head and rear part of the body where he cannot see you.                                    Reaction: he may move away or snap at you.
A Cat
  • Chirping is an attention-getter. Mother cats chirp to their kittens so they pay attention to what she wants them to do and follow her lead. 
  • Urinating on your belongings: it is likely she feels insecure and is attempting to bond by leaving her scent on your personal items.
To Sum Up

Watch. Listen. Learn. And, don’t forget, this is a two-way street. While you are interpreting what your pet is demonstrating to you, your pet is doing the exact same thing, to one degree or another.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

DOGS TRAINED TO DETECT SPIKED CIGARETTES

The dogs trained to detect spiked cigarettes in the UK are often Spaniels
In the UK, the dogs trained to detect spiked cigarettes are often Spaniels
Spaniels Are Doing The Sniffing

In our latest Pet Hero story, we highlight the work of dogs trained to detect spiked cigarettes. And, in the U.K., many of these wonderful dogs are Spaniels.

The supply and demand for cheap, illicit and extremely harmful tobacco products has reached a new high across the pond. However, despite the challenges that law enforcement faces to apprehend the culprits, their job is now a whole lot easier. And these sweet-natured canine heroes have made this possible.

Spaniels, both purebred and crossbred, are being used to detect spiked cigarettes and loose tobacco. In addition, they sniff out legitimate merchandise that is smuggled into the country.

These sniffer dogs are sometimes equipped with bodycams that document their work. As a result, the footage can be released for public viewing to heighten awareness of the health dangers from smoking tainted tobacco.

Targeting Central London

In recent months, police conducted a raid at a hair salon in the heart of London’s West End. The dogs discovered nearly 30,000 fake cigarettes hidden in suitcases inside Lego toys and laptop cases. 

Scamp And Phoebe

I read recently about another seizure in the East Midlands county of Northamptonshire that had taken place a few years back. To my delight, the article mentioned the two dog heroes. Their names are Scamp, a Springer Spaniel, and Phoebe, a Sprocker Spaniel, which is a cross between a Springer and a Cocker!

Dangers And Loopholes

Products such as these are not only cheaper than genuine ones and can reach more consumers, especially juveniles, they are dangerously toxic. Analyses show that they often contain elevated levels of cancer-causing chemicals, such as nicotine, tar, lead, cadmium and arsenic. Even more shocking, lab technicians have also found stuff as gross as rat droppings and camel excrement. 

And, let’s not forget that these dogs and their handlers also help out in another way. After all, they prevent the loss of government revenue in the form of duty and sales tax when non-counterfeit products are smuggled in.

When detector dogs sniff out spiked cigarettes they are saving lives.This is yet another example of what happens when humans and animals work as a team. Truly great things happen.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

DOG EXERCISE CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Whatever the exercise, consistency is key to keeping your dog active, healthy and happy
You will rarely meet a dog that doesn’t love the physical challenge of a good ball game
A daily exercise routine for your dog is necessary to safeguard his physical and emotional health
Another form of exercise, this dog proudly carries his big stick

Today’s blog is about physical activity with a focus on why dog exercise consistency is key. 

An appropriate range of physical activities, sometimes with the use of tools, provide the benefits required for your pets to be healthy and stay healthy. We tell humans this all the time, and the exact same principles apply to the dogs in our lives.

This may be stating the obvious but the whole point here is to give some of you a little nudge to actually do so. And, to be sensible about it. To factor in physical condition, the breed’s DNA, your surroundings, and climatic conditions.

Consistency Is A Major Factor

On average, 20 minutes of aerobic activity daily is considered necessary for your dog’s health. It is the recommended time a pet parent should put aside for this purpose. Not only is it vital for his overall physical well-being, it also helps alleviate boredom and destructive behaviors.

Here’s the next point to bear in mind. Regardless of what type of exercise it actually is, at least some activity must be done each and every day. Also, even though your intentions are good, it’s not wise to over-indulge. By that I mean, little or no physical activity during the typical work week, then “binge” at the weekend.

On top of that, more injuries occur when physical exertion is not increased gradually. As an example, what do amateur and professional athletes do? They warm up and cool down, by stretching and prepping. Consequently, precautionary measures like these will minimize the likelihood your pet will suffer strains and sprains.

Here are some ideas.

Activities: 
  • Walking briskly is basic good exercise that most pet parents can do.
  • Jogging is an ideal activity for more athletically inclined humans and canines.
  • Fetching a ball or catching a frisbee is easily done in the confines of a fenced-in back yard.
  • When dogs really enjoy the outdoors they often love to be their family’s hiking companion.
  • Swimming is a fabulous activity for a broad range of dogs that can choose how playfully or strenuously they want to participate.
  • Another outdoor option is having your dog trot alongside while you are bicycling. However, this does require thorough training and a high degree of caution for it to be safe for everyone involved.
  • Treadmill workouts are gaining popularity especially in areas that are prone to harsh weather conditions that can occur at any time of year. They also require training and extreme caution. And, if you didn’t already know, there are several treadmills designed specifically for canines. So go check them out.
Tools: 
  • Ball, frisbee, stick (inexpensive, exercise-promoting toys)
  • Hide and seek objects (be creative)
  • Set up an agility course (even a small, simple one for beginners and less energetic breeds can work wonders)
Benefits:
  • These include cardiovascular health, agility, reflex acuity, and muscle tone.
  • Exercise provides mental stimulation and is highly beneficial in the effort to control destructive behavior.

Find out what motivates your dog. Have fun. Enjoy your quality time together. Be creative but, above all, be sensible. And, please make an effort to be consistent. A health, active dog is a happy dog.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

THE BURMILLA IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE “oops!” BREEDS

What’s new Burmilla pussy cat? Look at those big pussy cat eyes!
The Burmilla, a beautiful “oops!” breed with a stunning silver coat

Was this really an accident? Apparently so!

The History

It came about when Sandquist, a male Silver Chinchilla Persian, and Fabergé, a female Lilac Burmese, had a one-night stand just before the latter had a scheduled blind date with one of her own kind. Fabergé produced a litter but they didn’t look quite like her. That’s when the tryst became public news and Burmillas eventually became recognized as a new breed. The incident (oops! accident) occurred in England, in 1981. In 1984 the Burmilla Cat Club was formed and by 1990 the breed had achieved preliminary Championship Status.

The Looks

The Burmilla has striking green eyes outlined in black and the ear tip is slightly rounded. Its dense, double, silver-toned coat is either short or medium-long. The fur is either tipped or shaded in an extensive range of hues, such as, black, chocolate, blue, lilac, red, caramel, apricot or cream as well as tortie variations of some of these.

The Personality

These fabulous felines are affectionate, devoted, playful and, just so you keep your fragile valuables well protected from mishap, slightly clumsy! They love to climb and survey their surroundings. Generally they get along well with children and other pets. To sum up…sweet, friendly, loyal and adventurous.

 The Care

Burmillas tend to shed a lot and should be brushed and combed frequently, especially the medium-haired variety.

Otherwise considered a pretty healthy breed with a longevity of 10-15 years, these cats are prone to polycystic kidney disease. This is a medical condition where cysts form in the kidneys which can eventually lead to renal failure. So, it is advisable to make sure they always drink sufficient water.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe! 

WHERE DO YOU TAKE A LOST PET TO BE SCANNED?

A microchip can be scanned at any time, day or night
If you find a lost pet, take it immediately to be scanned for a microchip. Photo curtesy of Big Creek Veterinarian Hospital, Ontario, Canada

Let’s imagine that you have found a lost pet that is friendly enough for you to pick up and rescue. It has no collar so, obviously, it has no visible identification. The next thing to do is take it to be scanned and hopefully discover that it has a microchip and that it’s pet, parent and vet information is current. But where will that be done?

* a veterinary clinic – during official office hours.

* Banfield Animal Hospital – located inside all PetSmart stores, which has longer hours of operation than your normal veterinary clinic.

* an emergency animal clinic – will be open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, during the hours your normal veterinary clinic is not.

* your local privately-run animal rescue organization or municipal shelter (also known as a pound).

Please beware that once you surrender a lost pet to the municipal shelter, the animal’s future will be uncertain. The pound is supposed to comply with a mandatory hold for a certain number of days in order to give the animal’s owner time to claim it. If it is not claimed within that time period, it may be put up for adoption. 

PET PEEVE – However, there are reports every single day, of pounds across the country that do not put a pet’s welfare first. They ignore these laws and have even destroyed the animal within hours of it being dropped off.

PEP TALK – Lesson to be learned: be responsible and do everything in your power to keep your pet(s) safe…not some time, not most of the time, but ALL of the time.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!