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First Aid for Cats


Carol Bryant
No doubt at some point you've heard urban legends about the elderly lady who has dozens of cats or the guy who collects snakes and never leaves his house, or someone who spends thousands on clothes for their pet.

Perhaps you are one of them. Personally, I stopped caring years ago about what people think of me and my dedication to dogs, my dog-themed career, and the activities in which I choose to engage with and for dogs. It's my name on the birth certificate, after all.

In recent months, I've been told by a good friend about a very upsetting comment hurled her way at work.

"I'd never spend that much on a dog; I'd sooner put him down," the rude co-worker told her in response to her dog needing over $10,000 in medical treatments. To date, this has not been said to me, hopefully because my "don't go there" aura shines brightly.

A dog is a living, breathing being, and where someone spends their money is none of someone else's business. I'd sooner live in a cardboard box than not spend money on my dog's health and well-being. From grooming costs to cancer treatment and everything in between: When a good dog parent says "I do" to a pooch, it should be for keeps. Telling me to put a dog down in the name of cost savings is grounds for dismissal from my life, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

To some, a dog is just a dog, and spending a large sum of money on pet care and wellness is somewhat akin to being "off one's rocker" or even obsessed with your pet. But to me and millions of pet owners just like me, going to such lengths in the name of dog (and all earthly creatures) is the loving norm.

When Does Companionship Become Obsession?

Many people believe this sounds like an obsession with pets which could be unhealthy for the human and pet alike. But many others say mind your own business as long as there's no harm or neglect happening. To them, going to great lengths for their pet is completely rational, caring behavior.

Where is the line between obsession and devotion?

Quality of Life

What I call passionate some naysayers call obsession. To me, an obsession becomes so when you give much more than you receive and the object of your said affection is less than reciprocating.

A passionate dog owner is someone who is their pet's biggest cheerleader. We make sure our dog is kept healthy, happy, and a very integral part of the family.

However, when the health or the pet's quality of life suffers, that can spiral into an unhealthy obsession.

When a beloved pet is suffering and someone is so very much in denial about it, this can become an unhealthy obsession. Elizabeth Kubler Ross, in her famed Five Stages of Grief, would label this "denial."

Sometimes it takes a friend, relative or vet to point out the problem. One of the most common situations is when a pet has a terminal condition that is hopeless and the pet owners do not consider euthanasia.

There is a fine line here, though. We don't replace a family member by simply accessing someone who happens to look like Grandma or Mom or Aunt Susie. The same holds true for dog parents: We don't replace Ginger with Misty. For some of us, life without the pitter-patter of dog feet is simply not an option. I never thought I would want to commit to another dog after my first Cocker, Brandy Noel, died, but here I sit, with a snoring dog at my feet. He is my "never again," yet this decision was mine and mine alone.

Dedication and devotion is sometimes mistaken for a preoccupation with pets.

If the balance is unhealthy where the pet is the total focus of someone's life and the pet parent is unable to work, function, or be a part of activities of daily living, then the term obsession starts rearing its ugly head.

When You Are Called Obsessed

I am a dog mom. I love it when folks call me a dog mom; I never grimace, furrow a brow, or correct them. In fact, a sense of pride swells in me.

I embrace that I do things with my dog in 2012 that perhaps others who went before me did not (or could not) do with their pooches. I look back on my childhood and cringe: The "family dog" wasn't allowed in the living room, and I still wonder whether she ever even saw anything above the basement, where she was "allowed" to sleep on colder nights.

I, along with millions of other caring pet parents, go above and beyond for their dogs. As long as no one is being harmed and everyone is happy, what's the big deal?

When obsession spirals into hoarding, that's the big deal.

Hoarding and Its Hazards

An unhealthy obsession to pets can lead to a disorder known as animal hoarding.

Hoarding is a form of abuse where perpetrators do not always believe nor recognize they are doing something wrong. In the eyes of the hoarder, they are saving animals.

Animal hoarding is unsafe and unhealthy for the pets and the people involved. Contact animal control services if you suspect animal hoarding.

Have you ever been accused of being obsessed with your dog? Does this bother you? How do you handle the naysayers? Bark at me in the comments below.

This article was originally published on partner site Pet360.com

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Marisa Dalessandro via Pet360
By: Marisa Dalessandro

BOOM! The thunder crashes and there goes Carlos, running as fast as he can to my side and digging under the blanket. This is typical behavior for Carlos when he hears a loud noise. The same thing happens when we're in the car and a semi-truck pulls up besides us. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Where does this anxiety come from and what do we as concerned pet parents do about it?

Lacking Social Skills

Anxiety in dogs can be brought on by several different causes such as a lack of self-esteem. Dogs who lack proper socialization as puppies can grow up with little or no self-esteem; unsure how to act in various situations, their anxiety is almost constant as if they're always on alert and ready to flee.

A dog suffering from anxiety because of lack of self-esteem needs you to challenge them both physically and mentally with different situations where the dog can receive positive feedback from other more confident dogs. This is a delicate process and confidence must be built slowly with small goals repeatedly accomplished. Every small success brings a little more confidence.

Anxiety Due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic events can also cause anxiety in dogs. Similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in humans, dogs have been shown to experience signs of PTSD following a traumatic situation. Cases of extreme stress can occur over a variety of different experiences such asnatural disasters, car accidents, physical or emotional trauma during an interaction, history of abandonment or significant change in home environment (like a death of a family member). If your dog has been through an extremely stressful situation, he or she may require treatment if the severity and duration of the reaction seems persistent and excessive with no signs of improvement.

Exercise Does the Mind Good

Dogs with mild anxiety can benefit from exercise and counter-conditioning. Prior to the onset of anxiety, take your dog for a rigorous walk or game of fetch. A tired, worn out pooch is less likely to panic and just like humans, your dog's brain chemistry is positively affected by a good workout. Counter-conditioning works by changing your dog's anxious state into a pleasant one. It works by associating the cause of the anxiety with something positive. Over time, the dog learns that whatever he or she is scared of predicts something good.

More Complex Treatment Options

More severe cases of anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. Consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist to help you design and carry out the treatment plan. This plan starts with changing your routine. If your dog is anxious when you're gone, you might start to see the onset of anxiety when you start your routine, like putting your coat and boots on and grabbing your keys. Teach your dog that those pre-departure cues don't always mean you're leaving. Put on your coat and sit down to watch TV for a bit. This will reduce your dog's anxiety because those cues won't always lead to your departure. Once you've mastered that, move on to leaving for short bursts of time, starting at 1 second, while building in counter-conditioning. Based on your dog's response, you may start to increase your time away leading all the way up to a full-work day. This process may take several weeks and it is vital to this treatment that once started, your dog cannot experience full-blown anxiety (in this case, cannot be left alone) until completed. If possible, take your dog to work during this time. In addition to this desensitization process, all hellos and goodbyes should be calm and low-key. Some severe cases of anxiety require the use of medication in combination with behavior modification treatment.

My Experience with Carlos

Carlos' anxiety comes from his past experiences. When my fiancé, Louie, and I adopted him 3 years ago, the rescue organization said they found him wandering alone on the streets of Texas. The sounds of thunder or semi-truck take him back to a place where he was forced to brave the elements and survive alone. It takes every ounce of will power that I have to ignore Carlos when he is anxious and not reward him with the attention he craves. My instinct is to coddle him, scoop him up in my arms and pet him. Unfortunately, that's the exact opposite of what should be done. By ignoring him, I'm signifying that there is nothing to worry about because I'm not worried. Once he is calm, I give him attention. After I started this routine, his recovery time is a lot faster and I see so much progress to where I feel confident the anxiety will be eliminated all together very soon.

Do you have a dog that suffers from anxiety? I'd love to hear what treatment methods are working or not working for you.

This article was originally published on partner site Pet360.com

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Patrick Mahaney
There have been two feline Internet sensations garnering news headlines around the country for the past year, Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. These famous cats have been busy making their rounds throughout the media circuits and have been entertaining their adoring fans with a scowling glare and a pronounced pink tongue (respectively).

If you're not familiar with these clever-looking cats, you certainly will be soon as both have released "tell-all" books. The feline stars are trying to outdo each other while clawing to the top of the best-selling charts. Lil Bub's Lil Book and Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book feature all sorts of flattering photos and tales of their origins and subsequent rise to fame.

We reported back in August that Grumpy Cat, otherwise known as Tarder Sauce, launched her own brand of coffee. Before the coffee venture, Grumpy Cat signed on the dotted line to star in her own movie. Now this week, more good news came Grumpy Cat's way. It was announced that she has officially signed on as the "spokescat" for Friskies. I'm sure Grumpy Cat is "thrilled" in her new role (maybe she even smiled).

"She's very busy. The first thing she'll do for us is receive the lifetime achievement award," Friskies spokeswoman Julie Catron told the Associated Press.

Read More: Grumpy Cat Launches a Brand of Coffee

USA Today recently profiled these cats and provided the great reveal that both are females along with the following facts:

Grumpy Cat:

Real name: Tardar Sauce

How she got her nickname: Specializes in frowny faces

Age: 1

Other stats: Has feline dwarfism; weighs under 5 pounds

Her human: Tabatha Bundesen

Accolades: 2013 Webby Award for Meme of the Year

Social media: 1 million+ Facebook likes; 100,000+ Twitter followers

Lil Bub:

Nickname: Bub

Lil Bub's book is full of Internet-inspired whimsy.

Family background: Born the runt of a feral litter

Age: 2

Why her tongue sticks out: Born with genetic mutations including underdeveloped lower jaw and no teeth

Weighs: 4 pounds

Her human: Mike Bridavsky

Film credits: Stars in Lil Bub & Friendz

Social media: 206+ Facebook likes; 22,000+ Twitter followers

A documentary about the life of Lil Bub and her owner, Mike Bridavsky, Lil Bub & Friendz, follows their adventures in life and even includes other "cat-lebrities" like Grumpy Cat. It premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Tribeca Online Festival Best Feature Film. Go Lil'Bub!

Interestingly, both Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub have genetic issues related to their breeding, yet both cats are mixed breeds.

Grumpy Cat has a feline dwarfism (see petMD's Bone Deformity and Feline Dwarfism in Cats), a genetic condition having two subtypes:

Osteochondrodysplasia- a growth and developmental abnormality of the bone and cartilage, which results in lack of normal bone growth and bone deformities. Where osteo refers to the bone, chondro refers to the cartilage, and dysplasia is a general term that is applied to abnormal growth. The Scottish fold breed has been found to be predisposed to osteochondrodysplasia of the limbs.

Achondroplasia- is a form of osteochondrodysplasia in which the bones do not grow to the normal size, based on what is expected of the breed. This is caused by a mutation of the fibroblast growth factor receptor gene. The result is abnormally short limbs, a condition called dwarfism. In some breeds this trait is selectively encouraged, such as with the Munchkin breed.

Clinical signs of feline dwarfism include:

-Larger than normal head

-Undershot jaw with shorter nose

-Crooked teeth due to shorter jaw

-Abnormal bone shape

-Poor growth or lack of growth

-Bones appear shorter than normal

-Enlarged joints

-Sideways bowing of forelimbs - front legs are more likely affected

-Spinal deviation to either side of the body

It is presumed that Grumpy Cat's scowling facial expressions are related to her feline dwarfism.

Lil' Bub's unique look with her tongue protruding from her mouth is also related to her genetics, as she has a retrognathic mandible ("underdeveloped lower jaw") and apparently "lacks teeth" (which could be ectodermal dysplasia or other cause). Her tongue appears fairly normal in size and shape. Therefore, I would not consider her to have macroglossia, a disorder where the tongue is larger than normal.

Hopefully, some of the Internet and YouTube-related fame that is now translating into real-life celebrity will help to bring awareness to the health conditions that contribute to these cats' unique appearances.

This article was originally posted by partner site Pet360.com

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Patrick Mahaney
It's great to learn that a dog who was very sick during her first few months of puppyhood has reached the milestone of her first birthday.

Reportedly, Britney Spears' dog, Hannah, just had the opportunity to blow out all of the candles on her dog cake on her special day.

Hannah, a Yorkshire terrier, is quite a popular pooch, as she even has her on Twitter handle (@HannahSpears) with nearly 55,000 followers. Hannah received a birthday shout out from Britney Spears on her Britney Spears Instagram page:

"Everybody wish Miss Hannah Banana a happy birthday!!! We celebrated her first today, cake and all :)," Spears wrote as a caption to the photo.

Health Issues for Britney Spears' Dog

During her puppyhood, Hannah was in and out of the veterinary hospital receiving care for a variety of mild to severe illnesses.

RadarOnline details Hannah's hospitalization drama starting back in November 2013 when Spears "found Hannah listless, eyes half shut, not responding to voices, not eating, and having trouble breathing. She eventually went home, but by January 3 was back in for the third time. The poor pooch remained in the hospital until late afternoon Friday, undergoing tests for liver function and being monitored for an erratic temperature and fluid in the lungs. Her condition remains unstable and if it were not for Britney's money and ability to pay the vet bills, Hannah would be dead by now."

Common Health Problems in Puppies

Puppies tend to have immature immune systems and are prone to a variety of conditions related to their physical development. It's not surprising to hear that Hannah has needed veterinary medical care. Some of the most common issues affecting puppies requiring treatment include:

Respiratory Tract Infection and Irritation

Many bacterial, viral organisms and environmental irritants (dust, pollen, smoke, etc.) can cause inflammation of the eyes, and respiratory tract (nasal passages, trachea, and lungs). Clinical signs include cough, sneezing, eye and nasal discharge, lethargy, decreased appetite, and more.

Gastrointestinal Parasites

Coccidia, Giardia, Hookworm, Roundworm, Tapeworm, and Whipworm are parasitic organisms capable of infecting the digestive tract of puppies (which can also affect adult dogs and people) causing diarrhea, vomit, and anorexia (decreased appetite).

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia is commonly caused by an infection, inflammation, or other stressors that use up the body's available blood glucose (sugar). Unlike adults, puppies don't have the same capacity to store glucose in the liver and will exhibit lethargy (tired behavior), ataxia (stumbling), or even fall into a coma when their glucose precipitously drops.

Based on the RadarOnline report, it sounds like Hannah had hypoglycemia, which can be related to a congenital (present from birth) problem where blood does not properly flow through the liver for detoxification called portosystemic shunt ("liver shunt").

Additionally, Hannah may have been suffering from pneumonia ("fluid in her lungs"), which results from infection or aspirating (inhaling) food, water, vomit, or other substances which can cause "trouble breathing."

Prevention is the Key to Keeping Puppies Healthy

Preventing puppies from becoming infected with many bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms can be achieved through veterinary-guided vaccination protocols, diagnostic testing (checking feces for parasites, blood tests, etc.), providing regular de-worming medication, and good sanitary practices (disposal of feces and urine, bathing, disinfecting of environmental services, etc.).

Unfortunately, puppies are not as discriminating as adult dogs in keeping themselves clea. Also, many times they do not stop themselves from eating various materials in their environment (dietary indiscretion).

As a result, they are much more prone to coming down with infections or ingesting materials that can potentially cause mild to severe digestive tract upset or other health problems.

I hope that Hannah has many more healthy years to come with Spears and her other household canine and human companions.

This article was originally published on partner site Pet360.com

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Dr Lorie Huston
In many cases, the need for first aid can be eliminated by taking precautions to prevent emergency situations from arising. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your cat gets regular veterinary examinations. Often, these examinations can pinpoint health problems before they become serious and can prevent emergencies from occurring in the first place.

  • Cat-proof your house. Remove potentially toxic plants, like lilies, from your home. Keep sharp objects like sewing needles, fishing hooks, knives, etc., out of your cat's reach. Keep thread, string, ribbons, tinsel and the like out of your cat's reach as well. Keep all medications, both human and animal, in a safe location. Make sure that all cleaning chemicals and other substances (such as antifreeze) that can be toxic are stored in an inaccessible place. Keep your cat away from chocolate and other toxic foods.

  • Keep your cat indoors (or provide supervision when outdoors). Outdoor cats are more prone to traumatic injuries, such as dog attacks, cat fights, car injuries and other accidents.

  • Be sure your cat has some form of identification in case he gets outside accidentally. Identification may be an ID tag, a microchip, or preferably both.

While taking precautions can help avert many emergencies, things happen. In the event that your cat does become injured, be prepared.

  • Prepare a pet first aid kit and keep it in an easily accessible location. Many companies offer first aid kits for pets for sale. Alternatively, you can prepare your own kit. Include cotton, gauze, sterile bandage pads, tape, a pair of scissors, a pair of tweezers, an antibacterial cleanser, and blankets or towels. Keeping a cold pack in your freezer for use when necessary is also advisable, but be sure to wrap the cold pack in a towel before using it on your cat.

  • Know your local veterinarian's telephone number as well as the number of the nearest emergency veterinary care facility. Write these numbers down and keep them in an easy-to-find place. Many people attach them to their refrigerator using a magnet. Keeping them programmed in your phone (both home and cell) is also useful.

  • Keep a copy of your cat's medical records handy too. Many people keep a copy with their first aid kit. If your cat needs to visit a veterinary facility after-hours, your regular veterinarian may not be available and the veterinarian at the emergency facility may not have immediate access to your cat's previous medical history unless you provide a copy.

  • Know what to do in case of an emergency. CATalyst Council has provided these five tips for feline first aid. It is worth your time to read; they discuss how to handle cuts, insect bites/stings, broken bones, animal bites, and burns.

  • Always have a cat carrier available in case your cat needs to visit your veterinarian. Never try to transport a cat without a secure carrier.

  • Be aware that an injured and/or painful cat may act unpredictably. Take precautions to avoid being bitten or scratched. Wrapping your injured cat in a thick blanket or towel before moving him is one way to help prevent injury to yourself.

  • If your cat is in pain, transport him as soon as possible to your veterinarian. Do not attempt to give aspirin, ibuprofen, or other pain relievers to your cat without your veterinarian's advice. Many pain relievers are toxic for cats. Your veterinarian will be able to provide safe pain control for your cat.

Your veterinarian is your best source of information for your cat. If you are unsure what to do in a given situation, contact your veterinarian and ask for advice. Your veterinarian will be able to offer suggestions relevant to your individual situation.

Dr. Lorie Huston

This article was originally published on partner site petMD.com

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