Posts

My Mission

Pet Peeves Unmasked is a blog about dogs and cats designed to help educate pet parents

THIS BLOG HAS A MISSION

My mission is to help push you gently to become THE BEST PET PARENT POSSIBLE.

I have written a book entitled “Perfect” Pet Parenting that covers all aspects of caring for dogs and cats. It is based on my personal experience as a pet caregiver and incorporates the expertise of professionals who focus on specific areas of a companion animal’s wellbeing.

This blog contains extracts from my book. I welcome comments and suggestions so that, together, we can keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!

ARE RETIRED PET PARENTS CAREFREE OR CONCERNED?

“Pandora” is living the good life with her rescue sibling and loving guardians
Big smiles from rescue dog “Pandora” and her pet parent

As we move along to the third part in this series, I share other topics of discussion from my interviews with retirees and folks approaching retirement age. Some had just one pet. Others had more. But the fundamental concerns were apparent across the board.

Safety is a huge advocacy push of mine so I found out what precautions were being implemented by these pet parents, or pet guardians,—I never use the term pet owners— for taking a dog or a cat on a car trip, whatever the reason. What not to do, and what could happen.

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 PET’S ID, WALKS AND VET VISITS

This kitty goes to the vet for his monthly mani-pedi
Henry with his Mom and fave rag doll

For the second part in this series on how retirees and those approaching retirement age care for their dogs and cats, almost everyone I interviewed said that they were microchipped. However, they were decidedly less enthusiastic about collars and tags.

The survey also revealed their leash preferences and what scared their dogs the most when out walking. Also, they shared what they thought of the quality of care at the veterinary clinic, as well as health insurance and medical costs.

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.

I.D.s, Restraints, Walking, The Vet – Part 2 of 4

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

RETIREES, THEIR PETS AND A GOOD LIFE TOGETHER

A senior may have difficulty transporting a dog this size if it became very sick
Good Jake, a Blue Tick Hound, posing with his Mom

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 was a four-part series which I would like to share with all of you. 

Today’s topics cover the following:

  • the benefits to humans resulting from the companionship of pets
  • how to enrich the life of a dog or a cat
  • avoiding accidents in the home
  • emergency situations

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

Continuing with the theme that was introduced last week, we bring you more examples of the diverse behaviors and moods that our pets exhibit.

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.

A dog’s identity is revealed in the pheromones secreted by this part of the anatomy
Sniffing the rear of another allows a dog to obtain important information

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

 

This picture captures a cat in a state of total happiness
With eyes half closed, this cat doesn’t have a care in the world

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

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. 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!  

BEHAVIOR AND BODY LANGUAGE: A BIT OF BOTH

If you don’t know a dog extremely well, avoid petting it on the head
What not to do! Avoid petting a dog on the head.
When a cat urinates on your belongings, it could be a sign of insecurity
Is your cat urinating on your bed? Could be she feels insecure.

This week’s blog is basically an introduction into many that I will be sharing with you over the coming months. It’s all about the fascinating subject of body language and behavior in the world of dogs and cats.

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. Other times these pets of ours can be trained to act a certain way and, of course, they may just acquire a particular characteristic on their own or by mimicking what they see other canines and felines do.

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.

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

SPANIELS IN THE UK DETECT SPIKED CIGARETTES

Sniffer dogs like this Spaniel help track down illicit cigarettes and loose tobacco in the UK
Spaniels are frequently used in the UK to detect toxic, spiked cigarettes

As the supply and demand for cheap, illicit and extremely harmful tobacco products reaches a new high in the U.K., these sweet-natured canines have become the new heroes.

Spaniels, both purebred and crossbred, are being used to detect both spiked cigarettes and loose tobacco as well as legitimate merchandise that is smuggled into the country.

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

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

Such products 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, as well as stuff as gross as rat droppings and camel excrement. 

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

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

This is yet another example of when humans and animals work as a team, great things happen.

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

OF COURSE HUMANS MUST EXERCISE! DOGS TOO!

Ball games are great exercise for dogs of all sizes
You will rarely meet a dog that doesn’t love ball games
Walking proudly with his big stick is another form of exercise for dogs
Another form of exercise, this dog proudly carries his big stick

We all know that. However, the point of stating the obvious is to give some of you a nudge to actually do so. And, to be sensible about it. To factor in physical condition, the breed’s DNA, surroundings, and climate.

On average, 20 minutes of aerobic activity daily is considered necessary for your dog’s health and 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.

Now, do please bear in mind that consistency is very important. 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 Monday to Friday work week, and then “binge” at the weekend. 

More injuries occur when physical exertion is not increased gradually. So, just like amateur and professional athletes do, warming up and cooling down, by stretching and prepping, will  minimize the likelihood of your pet suffering strains and sprains and the like.

Here are some ideas.

Activities: 

walking briskly

jogging

fetching a ball

catching a frisbee

hiking

swimming

trotting alongside a bicycle (with adequate training and using extreme caution)

treadmill workout (with adequate training and using extreme caution)

Note: There are treadmills designed specifically for canines.

Tools: 

ball, frisbee, stick

hide and seek objects

set up an agility course (even a small, simple one for beginners and less energetic breeds can work wonders)

Benefits:

cardiovascular health

agility

reflex acuity

muscle tone

mental stimulation 

destructive behavior control

Find out what motivates your dog. Have fun. Enjoy your quality time together.

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!  

Tara: CAT ATTACKS DOG ATTACKING BOY

Feisty feline Tara saved a four-year old from what could have been fatal injuries
Tara the hero cat in the arms of his human sibling, Jeremy
Hero cat Tara became a YouTube sensation with 20 million views in five days
Tara in action giving chase after the roaming dog attacked Jeremy and mom Erica

Yes. You read it right! This is indeed our first cat hero story and it’s pretty amazing. So amazing, in fact, that Tara became an internet sensation when footage from the home surveillance video that captured the incident was uploaded two days later and seen by viewers across the globe. It then became the first video in YouTube history to reach 20 million views in five days.

The story with a mostly happy ending started off like this. On May 13, 2014, in Bakersfield, CA, four-year old Jeremy Triantafilo was riding his bike in the driveway of his home when a neighbor’s dog (a Labrador/Chow Chow mix) ran up from behind, bit him in the leg and started pulling him backwards. 

Tara, the indoor/outdoor tabby cat that the family had adopted six years prior, heard the commotion and raced into action, running towards the much larger canine at full speed and body slamming it. Jeremy’s mother immediately rushed outside to the rescue but was also bitten before valiant Tara chased the aggressive dog away.

Little Jeremy required 10 stitches to his left calf but was able to join Tara and his parents on The Today Show a couple of days later.

This feisty feline, who is typically just as sweet as can be, has won several awards for her bravery. In addition, she became the first non-human to be named Grand Marshal for Bakersfield’s Christmas parade in 2014 and on January 1st, 2018, Tara and her family rode in the Rose Parade on the Lucy Pet Foundation Paws for Life float honoring several other heroic animals.

Footnote: The young adult dog in question was surrendered by its owners to the local Animal Care Center. However, after the mandatory 10-day quarantine period for rabies, it was not put up for adoption due to its “vicious” behavior and, sadly, was euthanized.

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