From The Vet: 5 Signs Of Lyme’s Disease In Dogs

Lyme’s disease is a well-known disease that is spread by ticks to both pets and people. Projections indicate that Lyme’s disease is an ongoing risk in endemic areas and appears to be spreading. The causative agent is a bacterium called Borrelia Burgdorferi. The organism is spread from the tick to its host during feeding. Signs of infection may not show for months after the tick bite. Endemic areas include New England, the upper Ohio River Valley, and the Pacific Northwest. Even if you do not live in these endemic areas, if your dog travels with you to these areas, he/she could be at risk.

Affected dogs can show some of the following signs:

Lameness

Lameness can be an indicator of many different things, and may not mean that your dog has Lyme’s disease. If you notice your dog seems to have difficulty moving around, discuss the possible reasons with your vet.

Polyarthritis

Inflammation of multiple joints can be an indicator of Borreliosis infection. These dogs will be lame on one or more of their limbs. Sometimes the lameness shifts from one limb to the next.

Joint Swelling

In addition to the lameness, some affected dogs may experience visible joint swelling and joints that are tender to the touch.

Fever

Clinically affected dogs will experience fevers and depression as their immune system struggles to deal with the invader. They may not want to eat and may appear lethargic.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

As the immune system rallies to attack the foreign infections, sometimes owners will notice swelling near the original tick bite.

Kidney or Heart Involvement

Some isolated cases will progress to more serious complications, but these difficulties are rare. Certain breeds, like Retrievers, seem to be slightly more likely to develop the serious sequelae.

Most cases of Lyme’s disease respond rapidly to appropriate antibiotic therapy. Sometimes the cases will become chronic for dogs, similar to the cases in humans, but not commonly. It is also encouraging to know that only a small portion of exposed dogs will become clinically ill.

There is a vaccine for Lyme’s Disease and your veterinarian can advise you if there is a benefit to your individual dog in administering it. If you think that your dog is experiencing any of the above signs, do not delay. There are many serious and important illnesses that could mimic these symptoms and you will need medical intervention to identify and treat them.

Springtime Safety Tips

Spring has sprung, and with the change of season, our thoughts turn to spring cleaning and much-needed home improvement projects. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor revelry, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your furry friends.

Screen Yourself
Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows.

Buckle Up!
While most dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the beds of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets riding in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.

Spring Cleaning
Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all cleaning products, even all natural ones, contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.

Home Improvement 101
Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.

Let Your Garden Grow—With Care
Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients may be dangerous if your pet ingests them. Always store these products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Many popular springtime plants—including rhododendron and azaleas—are also highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if eaten.

Ah-Ah-Achoo!
Like us, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause itching, minor sniffling and sneezing, or life-threatening anaphylactic shock to insect bites and stings. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Pesky Little Critters
April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program. Ask your doctor to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.

Out and About
Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone, and any other relevant contact information.

Litter Box Problems

It’s estimated that at least 10 percent of all cats develop elimination problems. These problems include not using the litter box, sometimes using the litter box, and using the litter box for either urinating or defecating, but not both. In all instances, this proves a problem for cat owners and it’s something you’ll want to tend to right away—once your cat has developed a particular non-litter-box surface or location preference for eliminating, it can be hard to address.

According to the ASPCA, the following common litter box problems might cause your cat to eliminate outside of her box:

  • You haven’t cleaned your cat’s litter box often or thoroughly enough. Virtually all cats like clean litter boxes, so scoop and change your cat’s litter at least once a day. Rinse the litter box out completely with baking soda or unscented soap once a week.
  • You haven’t provided enough litter boxes for your household. Be sure to have a litter box for each of your cats, as well as one extra. If your home is multi-story, you’ll need a litter box on each floor.
  • Your cat’s litter box is too small for her or she can’t enter it easily.
  • Your cat can’t easily get to her litter box at all times.
  • Your cat’s litter box has a hood or liner that makes her uncomfortable.
  • The litter in your cat’s box is too deep. Cats usually prefer one to two inches of litter.
  • You’ve placed your cat’s food and water bowls beside her litter box. Generally, cats do not like to eliminate where they eat.

Other problems
Multi-cat household conflict and medical problems can also cause litter box aversion. Even if you don’t actively see one of your cats blocking access to the litter box, this doesn’t mean conflict isn’t behind the reluctance to use the box. Similarly, if your cat had a medical problem that caused pain during urination or defecation, this could create negative associations with the box even if the medical problem is now resolved.

Location
Most cats prefer a quiet litter box location with sight lines—so they can see people and animals approaching—and multiple escape routes so they don’t feel cornered when using the litter box.

Litter Type
Most cats prefer unscented, clumping litter OR they could be attached to the litter they used as a kitten—some cats adapt to litter changes no problem but some may feel wary of a litter they didn’t use when young. If you think your cat may dislike her litter type, try offering a few different types of litter in litter boxes placed side by side. Your cat will use the one she likes best.

Accidents
Clean all accidents immediately and thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser, available at most pet stores, designed to neutralize pet odors. Do not use an ammonia-based cleaner (urine is also ammonia), which can actually cause your cat to want to soil this area again.
If your cat has developed a non-litter-box location or surface preference for eliminating, you’ll need to make that surface or area less appealing. Try installing a bright light, or better yet, a motion-activated light, and covering the surface with tin foil, double-sided sticky tape, or the spiky underside of a carpet runner.

A Note on Urine Marking
Urine marking often gets lumped in with litter box problems but it is a whole different beast with different causes and solutions. Generally, a cat who is urine marking still uses the litter box but is also spraying other surfaces, usually vertical, with smaller amounts of urine. You may see your cat, tail held high and perhaps quivering, back up to a surface and spray it with urine.

8 Symptoms of Pet Allergies

Symptoms

Allergic reaction in pets take many forms and happen for many reasons. Symptoms can range from swelling to difficulty breathing. Allergic reactions vary in severity, but should always be taken seriously. The following symptom(s) may indicate an allergic reaction:

Pet Allergies
· Rash or Hives
· Swelling
· Licking or Scratching
· Itching, Runny Eyes
· Vomiting
· Diarrhea
· Snoring
· Labored Breathing

Causes

Causes of allergic reaction vary, as well. The most common causes of an allergic reaction are (not limited to):

· Vaccinations
· Ingestion of food, plant or substance
· Insect Bites
· Flea preventative
· Medication

Recommended Treatment For Dogs

The standard Benadryl tablet is safe to give at 1 milligram per pound, and each Benadryl tablet is 25 milligrams, making it easy to calculate the correct dosage for your dog. Administer the tablets every 8 hours. Benadryl can be both short or long-term treatment for allergies. However, it’s crucial to discuss your pet’s medical history, potential causes of the allergic reaction and the best plan of care with your veterinarian.

If you think your pet may be having an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately to seek medical attention.

Why Do Dogs Run In Their Sleep?

The saying says to “let sleeping dogs lie.” However, what if your dog doesn’t look like it’s sleeping at all? If your dog runs while sleeping it may look as though it’s more activity sleep than it does during your daily walks. The American Kennel Club reports that dogs sleep for about 12 to 14 hours a day, during some of the dog sleep cycles, it may twitch, jerk or even bark. Seeing this can be humorous, but it can also be disconcerting. Is your dog having a nightmare, or Is your dog simply dreaming about chasing a squirrel? This article explains these strange sleeping dog habits.

What Is Normal Dog Sleep Behavior?

The normal sleeping behavior of dogs involves lots of lounging. Experts aren’t sure why dogs spend so much of their lives sleeping. Puppies may sleep 18 to 20 hours a day because their boundless energy makes them tired whereas older dogs may need more rest just to rejuvenate their bodies. Different dog breeds require different amounts of sleep, for example, larger dogs tend to sleep more than smaller dogs. The amount of sleep that a dog needs is also dependent on the animal’s physical activity. Working breeds might not sleep as much as a pet that stays home all day. However, some dogs sleep just because they’re bored. Make sure that your dog is getting enough stimulation throughout the day to keep him from falling asleep out of boredom.  Additionally, dogs that are kept busy throughout the day may sleep better at night. This isn’t necessarily a problem for the dog, but a dog that’s up all night may become a problem for its owner.

What’s Normal For A Dog Sleep Cycle?

Dogs have similar sleep cycles as humans, the length of time for which they stay in each stage differs, however. Dogs stay in REM sleep for about 10 percent of their downtime. Humans, on the other hand, spend about 25 percent of their snoozing time in REM sleep. Experts believe that dogs do dream during the REM stage. According to Dog Notebook, the muscles are partially paralyzed during this stage and that’s why your dog might shiver or twitch but not take off running across the house. How frequent are REM cycles? The rate of REM sleep depends on the dog. Smaller dogs may have brief dreaming periods every 10 minutes and bigger dogs may not have as many REM cycles, but they tend to have longer dreams.

What’s Normal for A Dog to Do When It Dreams?

When your dog first falls asleep, it is quiet and peaceful. The animal’s breathing will slow down, and it won’t typically notice what’s going on around it. During this stage, the heart rate slows, and the blood pressure drops. Within about 10 minutes, the dog may enter the REM stage of sleep. During this time, it’s normal for a dog to twitch; the tail may move, or the skin along the dog’s entire body may jerk gently. Sometimes, a dog may move its paws as though it is running. During REM sleep, the eyelids may open, revealing the whites of the dog’s eyes, additionally, a dog’s whiskers or lips may quiver, and he may cry out or whimper. If your dog barks in its sleep, it is not necessarily having a bad dream. Barking is one of the only ways that dogs can communicate.

What Your Cat Really Wants

 

We love our cats, not only for their companionship but for their ability to help us preserve a connection with the untamed world. With three paws in our hearts and one in the wild, they connect us to nature in a way that other pets cannot.

But, despite their independent, self-reliant abilities, our cats still need us. Though not as needy as our dog friends, cats nevertheless require certain fundamentals to be happy. Without these, they can evidence behavioral and physical problems which lower their quality of life and strain our partnerships with them.

Of course, we all strive to provide a high-quality diet and ensure that Ginger gets regular veterinary care, but beyond good food and good health, there are other, less obvious, factors that contribute to her well-being.

The Cat Came Back: Territorial Stability
Space means a lot to felines, who, in the wild, covet it even more so than do their more sociable canid brethren. Territory, vital for hunting and mating success, is well-defined and defended. Your domestic cat is no different; she wants to live in a stable, predictable environment, with enough space to feel safe and in charge. Territory for your cat is a four-dimensional affair. She not only patrols the home from room to room, jumping up to stalk along refrigerators or cupboards, or slipping under beds and dressers; she will do so at varying times each day. This “time-share” phenomenon can allow multiple cats to share a finite territory; while one rests, another can patrol the same space without undue conflict. Provide your cat with a stable, safe, relatively stress-free territory. This means not creating unpredictable conditions that could traumatize or threaten her. Loud music, having the neighbor’s kids over to play tag or throwing a wild party every Saturday night could all disturb her enough to trigger backlashes such as housetraining mishaps or destructive behavior. Even redecorating your home can stress some timid cats enough to cause anxiety, so be sure to make changes in the physical environment slowly, over time.

Try not to move your cat’s litter box or food dishes around once they are in established spots. And, though you love all cats, yours may not take kindly to you adding new ones into her territory. The easiest path to peaceful multiple cat cohabitation is to get two kittens at the same time. The next easiest route is to, bring a kitten of the opposite sex into an established adult cat’s home. Keep in mind your particular cat’s personality and that too many adult cats in a small space, despite their ability to “time-share” territory, can lead to conflict and behavioural mishaps, so, if your resident cat is intolerant of other felines, you may wish to err on the side of caution and let your cat lord it over your home without competition.

Make your cat’s home territory as safe as possible. Avoid toxic houseplants, cover exposed wiring, and secure all doors and windows. Keep all chemicals and cleaning supplies locked away; even soaps or perfumes can poison a cat, so take care to cat-proof any area she inhabits.

Don’t Go Changing to Try and Please Me: Routine
Cats like routine, consistency, predictability. This harkens to the feline instinct to establish a stable, dependable environment. Like many of us, they are a bit obsessive about things and like it that way. Change the home routine too often and you’ll stress her out and invite trouble. It’s why, when cat owners move, their cats often run off in search of their old digs. Or when you return from vacation, your cat will often give you the cold shoulder for a few days. Switch from the swing shift to the morning shift and you’ll see the same reaction. Keep the timing of things as routine as possible. Feed her at the same time, play with her at the same times. Whatever your own schedule tends to be, try to stick to it. Avoid changing things such as the food dishes, the brand of litter, or even the actual litter box. If you add furnishings, do so one piece at a time. Paint one room at a time. New scratching post? Don’t toss the old one; instead, place the new one next to it.

 The bottom line is to “tiptoe” change into her life, instead of bowling her over with a sea change of modifications. As a cat, she’ll be more amenable to that type of strategy.

I Love You Just the Way You Are: Respect
Every cat has a distinct personality that must be identified and respected in order to have harmony in the home. For example, some cats revel in the attention of guests, while others slip away and hide when company calls. Take that shy cat and immerse her in a busy social environment and you may never see her again. Conversely, if your cat is a social butterfly but gets little face time with other people, she may start acting out through excess vocalization, or any manner of undesirable behaviors. It’s simply how they express their dissatisfaction with the status quo.

If she is shy and tense around company, don’t force the issue. Let her decide when she wants to interact. If she likes company, by all means, let her mix to her heart’s content. Identify what her preferences are, then encourage them, while limiting stimuli she finds scary. If she clearly likes other cats, consider getting another, but if not, don’t put her through it. Don’t force a timid cat to snuggle; rather, let her come to you, a sure sign that you can love on her. Whatever your cat’s personality, letting her initiate contact is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Lastly, remember that cats, unlike most dogs, will hold grudges with regard to behavior she deems scary or confrontational. If a child steps on Ginger’s tail, she’ll likely avoid that child for quite a while. If someone accidentally trips over her, she could hold it against that person for a long time. Accordingly, use her personality to determine what she will and will not tolerate, then stick to it.

The Eye of the Tiger: Enrichment
Though cats like the status quo, they also enjoy having their senses and intellect stimulated. It’s a function of them being effective predators; to be content, they need to have that inquisitive, hunting instinct aroused. Zookeepers hide meat around the lion and tiger enclosures in trees and shrubs; you should do the same around your house.

Provide your cat with objects, activities, and incentives that will stoke her natural curiosities. These “enrichments” can be as simple as adding a sisal scratching post to your home or leaving the radio on a classical music station.

Because You’re Mine, I Walk Feline: Cat Awareness
Last but not least, understand that your cat lives in a world defined by her needs and interpretations, not yours. She thinks of you not as a human, but as a gigantic maternal figure. She is a master of the sensory and owns a physicality that dwarfs our own. To that end, try to develop what I call effective feline empathy. Instead of humanizing your feline, try to “be the cat” as often as you can. See things through her eyes, and be in the present, as is she. Smells, sounds, light levels, temperature, body posture—whatever you think a cat might respond to, try to notice. This clarity of surroundings is what she is all about, so try to empathize with it. It will make you a better cat owner, and a better friend.

Food aggression and what to do about it

When a dog shows aggression to protect his food, it can be a serious issue. Not only is there the danger of other dogs or humans in the house being bitten, but over time it can lead to the dog becoming possessive over everything.

What is food aggression?

Food aggression is a form of resource guarding in which a dog becomes very defensive when eating, using threats to force others away. It can be directed towards other animals, humans, or both. The behavior can also extend to treats.

There are three degrees of food aggression:

  • Mild: the dog growls and may show its teeth.
  • Moderate: the dog snaps or lunges when approached.
  • Severe: the dog bites.

While it’s easy to assume that all cases of food aggression are a show of dominance, this isn’t necessarily the case. In a dog pack, the alpha dogs always eat first after a successful hunt, and then the other dogs get what’s left according to their pack position.

For an alpha dog, showing food aggression is a form of dominance, but for dogs with a lower pack position, it can be a sign of anxiety or fearfulness. Remember, in the wild, dogs never know where or when their next meal will be, so it’s very instinctual for them to gobble up whatever food there is whenever they have it — and to protect it from anything that approaches.

How to recognize food aggression

When a dog is eating, his body will stiffen and he may keep his head down. He is using his body language to “hover” over the meal and protect it.

Other signs are that the whites of your dog’s eyes may be visible, their ears are held back, their tail is lowered, or their hackles may rise. A dog may show any or all of these signs. Finally, there are the abovementioned signs of the severity of the problem: growling, lunging, or biting.

What to do about it

The first step is to assess your dog’s overall behavior. Is she only showing possessiveness over food, or does the behavior extend to other things, like favorite toys, resting spots, or even people in the pack?

If the behavior isn’t limited to food, then your dog is showing general resource guarding, so you’ll need to use the techniques listed below as appropriate in all cases where your dog is showing aggression using the target object instead of food.

Also, assess your dog’s overall confidence and behavior. If he is naturally a dominant dog, then you will need to assert yourself as the Pack Leader in a calm and assertive way. On the other hand, if he is timid or fearful, you will need to build up his confidence and teach him that his food is safe with humans around.

Finally, determine whether your dog’s food aggression is mild, moderate, or severe. For severe cases, start off by consulting a professional until you can get the dog down to a moderate level.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to start changing the behavior. Here are some of the techniques to use.

Be consistent
If the source of your dog’s aggression is fear or anxiety over when the next meal is coming, then be sure that you are feeding your dog at the same times every single day.

Dogs have a very good internal clock, and with consistency, they quickly learn how to tell when it’s time to get up, time to go for a walk, or time for the people to come home. Mealtime should be no different. Be regular in feeding to take away the anxiety.

Must work for food
Before you even begin to prepare your dog’s food, make her sit or lie down and stay, preferably just outside of the room you feed her in. Train her to stay even after you’ve set the bowl down and, once the bowl is down, stand close to it as you release her from the stay and she begins eating, at which point you can then move away.

Always feed your dog after the walk, never before. This fulfills his instinct to hunt for food, so he’ll feel like he’s earned it when you come home. Also, exercising a dog after he eats can be dangerous, even leading to life-threatening conditions like bloat.

Pack leaders eat first
Remember, when a wild pack has a successful hunt, the alpha dogs eat first, before everyone else, and it should be no different in a human/dog pack.

Never feed your dog before or while the humans are eating. Humans eat first and then, when they’re finished, the dogs eat. This will reinforce your status as the Pack Leader.

“Win” the bowl
Food aggression can actually be made worse if you back away from the bowl, because that’s what your dog wants. For every time that you do walk away when the dog is showing food aggression, the dog “wins.” The reward is the food and this just reinforces the aggression.

Of course, you don’t want to come in aggressively yourself, especially with moderate to severe food aggression, because that is a good way to get bitten. However, you can recondition the dog until she learns that she wins when she lets you come near her while eating.

Here are some of the techniques you can use:

  • Hand feeding: Start your dog’s meal by giving him food by hand, and use your hands to put the food in the bowl, which will give it your scent. The goal is to get your dog used to eating while your hands are around his face, and to have no aggressive reaction if you stick your hands in or near the bowl while he’s eating.
  • Treat tossing: Drop your dog’s favorite treats into the bowl while she’s eating so she’ll learn that people approaching the bowl is a good thing and not a threat. You can also put treats into the bowl when you walk near it and she’s not eating. This reinforces the connection in your dog’s mind that people near her bowl is good.
  • “Trade-Up”: When your dog is eating their regular food, approach them with something better, like meat or a special treat. The goal here is to get your dog to stop eating their food to take the treat from you. This teaches your dog several things. One is that no one is going to steal his food if he looks away from it. The other is that removing his attention from his food when people come around leads to a reward.

What’s going on?

In rehabilitating a food aggressive dog, two things are happening. One is that you’re desensitizing your dog so that she will no longer become protective when anybody approaches her while she’s eating. The other is that you’re counterconditioning your dog by teaching her to associate people approaching her bowl with good things.

There are many other techniques you can use to reduce food aggression or to prevent it from happening in the first place. The key, as always, is to be calm, assertive, and consistent.

The term “food aggression” can be misleading because people can easily interpret it as dominance, and it really is better to think of it as resource guarding. As humans, we need to establish our place as Pack Leader and teach our dogs that there’s no reason to guard their food against us.

Fleas: Everything You Need to Know

 

Fleas are well known as voracious feeders. They’re small, fast, and cause irritation to pets and people alike. In addition to physical discomfort, they transmit a number of diseases. If that wasn’t bad enough, the flea is forever connected with the Black Death.

What do you need to know about fleas?
If you have a dog or cat, you’ll want to be educated on fleas. These annoying parasites can carry and transmit several illnesses:

  • Tapeworms— Larval fleas may feed on the egg packets of a particular type of tapeworm. As the flea matures, the tapeworm egg develops and if that flea is swallowed by a dog or cat, the tapeworm develops in the new host.
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis— Even a single bite from a single flea can initiate a seriously itchy reaction to the saliva in some allergic dogs and cats
  • Cat Scratch Disease— This disease is caused by an organism called Bartonella. While Cat Scratch Disease usually does not affect most cats in a negative way, it puts cat guardians at risk.
  • Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis— This one isn’t even fun to say. The bacteria is transmitted mainly by ticks and fleas that have fed off of other infected animals. The disease affects red blood cells in cats and (less commonly) dogs, resulting in anemia. It’s more likely to affect dogs who have had their spleens removed.
  • Plague— Okay, this one is somewhat rare today, but can be found in prairie dog colonies in the western US. When it comes to the plague, best not to take any chances. According to the CDC, “Cats are highly susceptible to plague.”  While dogs are generally resistant to plague, an infection may occur.

Flea trivia

  • Fleas have been around for millions of years— According to livescience.com, flea ancestors were on earth during the Mesozoic era, “a chunk of geologic time extending from 250 million years ago to 65 million years.” These prehistoric predecessors of today’s fleas were five to ten times longer and had prominent mouth suckers that likely allowed them to feed on dinosaurs.
  • Fleas have a significant role in history and the arts— Fleas have been studied for over 400 yrs. The flea was first seen under magnification by Galileo and drawn in 1665 by Robert Hooke. The flea’s life cycle was known as early as the 17th century1.
  • There are over 2000 species of fleas— According to Terminix, “The most common of these are cat fleas, dog fleas, human fleas and Oriental rat fleas.”
  • Sand fleas are not fleas— Most people don’t realize that sand fleas aren’t actually insects. They’re tiny crustaceans. They leave an itchy, red welt that can be quite annoying.
  • For every flea you see there are 100 you don’t— The entire flea cycle, from egg to adult, is complete in 12 – 22 days when temperature and humidity conditions are ideal. More commonly it takes 3–4 weeks. Surprisingly, only approximately 5% of a flea infestation is made up of adult fleas. 95% is eggs, larvae, and pupae in the cocoon phase.
  • In the pupal stage, fleas can remain dormant for some time— Fleas emerge as adults in response to vibration such as carpet sweepers or even footsteps.
  • Up and away— A flea’s hind pair of legs are well developed for jumping, and enable fleas to jump up to 80 times their height. This would be the equivalent of a human jumping hundreds of feet. This is made possible by the fact that fleas have multiple joints in their jumping legs.
  • Black death—The flea has contributed to millions of deaths. The “bubonic” (Black Death) plague caused the deaths of over 75 million people, according to history.com.
  • Flea life cycle— Both female and male fleas rely on blood for their nutrition but can survive for several months without it.
  • A flea might live a year and a half under ideal conditions— These include the right temperature, food supply, and humidity. Generally speaking, though, an adult flea only lives for 2 or 3 months.
  • Female fleas cannot lay eggs until after their first blood meal— They begin to lay eggs within 36-48 hours after that meal. The female flea uses her blood to nourish developing eggs and will deposit up to 50 eggs a day or 4-5 eggs after each blood meal. Most females will lay at least 100 eggs within a life cycle of several months.

Flea control
Flea control has gotten a lot simpler and more effective. Regular, year-round use of flea control is the best way to control fleas and prevent discomfort from flea bites as well as preventing diseases carried by fleas.

8 Tricks to Help Your Cat and Dog to Get Along

Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t share the same space—they’re just going to need your help.

1. TAKE PERSONALITY—NOT BREED—INTO ACCOUNT.

Contrary to popular belief, certain breeds of cats and dogs don’t typically get along better than others. According to Galaxy and Sandor, it’s more important to take their personalities and energy levels into account. If a dog is aggressive and territorial, it won’t be a good fit in a household with a skittish cat. In contrast, an aging dog would hate sharing his space with a rambunctious kitten.

If two animals don’t end up being a personality match, have a backup plan, or consider setting up a household arrangement that keeps them separated for the long term. And if you’re adopting a pet, do your homework and ask its previous owners or shelter if it’s lived with other animals before, or gets along with them.

2. TRAIN YOUR DOG.

To set your dog up for success with cats, teach it to control its impulses. Does it leap across the kitchen when someone drops a cookie, or go on high alert when it sees a squeaky toy? If so, it probably won’t be great with cats right off the bat, since it will likely jump up whenever it spots a feline.

Hold off Fido’s face time with Fluffy until the former is trained to stay put. And even then, keep a leash handy during the first several cat-dog meetings.

3. GIVE A CAT ITS OWN TERRITORY BEFORE IT MEETS A DOG.

Cats need a protected space—a “base camp” of sorts—that’s just theirs. Make this refuge off-limits to the dog, but create safe spaces around the house, too. This way, the cat can confidently navigate shared territory without trouble from its canine sibling.

Since cats are natural climbers, buy tall cat trees, install shelves, or place a cat bed atop a bookcase. This allows your cat to observe the dog from a safe distance, or cross a room without touching the floor.

And while you’re at it, keep dogs away from the litter box. Cats should feel safe while doing their business, plus dogs sometimes (ew) like to snack on cat feces, a bad habit that can cause your pooch to contract intestinal parasites. These worms can cause a slew of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

Baby gates work in a pinch, but since some dogs are escape artists, prepare for worst-case scenarios by keeping the litter box uncovered and in an open space. That way, the cat won’t be cornered and trapped mid-squat.

4. EXERCISE YOUR DOG’S BODY AND MIND.

People exercise their dogs probably 20 percent of what they should really be doing. It’s really important that their energy is released somewhere else so that they have the ability to slow down their brains and really control themselves when they’re around kitties.

Dogs also need lots of stimulation. Receiving it in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by, say, chasing a cat. We recommend toys, herding-type activities, lure coursing, and high-intensity trick training.

5. LET CATS AND DOGS FOLLOW THEIR NOSES.

It’s a smart idea to let cats and dogs sniff each other’s bedding and toys before a face-to-face introduction. This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and avoid potential turf battles.

6. PLAN THE FIRST CAT/DOG MEETING CAREFULLY.

Just like humans, cats and dogs have just one good chance to make a great first impression. Luckily, they both love food, which might ultimately help them love each other.

Schedule the first cat-dog meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed door. They won’t see each other, but they will smell each other while chowing down on their respective foods. They’ll begin to associate this smell with food.

Do this every mealtime for several weeks, before slowly introducing visual simulation. Continue feeding the cat and dog separately, but on either side of a dog gate or screen, before finally removing it all together.

7. KEEP THEIR FOOD AND TOYS SEPARATE.

After you’ve successfully ingratiated the cat and dog using feeding exercises, keep their food bowls separate. You can’t assume that your dog isn’t food-protective or resource-protective.

To prevent these disastrous mealtime encounters, schedule regular mealtimes for your pets (no free feeding!) and place the bowls in separate areas of the house, or the cat’s dish up on a table or another high spot.

Also, keep a close eye on the cat’s toys—competition over toys can also prompt fighting.

8. CONSIDER RAISING A DOG AND CAT TOGETHER (IF YOU CAN).

Socializing these animals at a young age can be easier than introducing them as adults—pups are easily trainable “sponges” that soak up new information and situations. Plus, dogs are less confident and smaller at this stage in life, allowing the cat to “assume its rightful position at the top of the hierarchy.

Remain watchful, though, to ensure everything goes smoothly—especially when the dog hits its rambunctious “teenage” stage before becoming a full-grown dog.

Keeping your senior dog’s mind healthy

Raise your hand if you know what Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is. If your hand is in the air, you probably take written directions too literally; more importantly, though, you’re one of a precious few.

CDS is the name that pet behavioral specialists have given to the severe mental decline that happens in many dogs and cats as they get up into their geriatric years. It can involve things like disorientation, restlessness or increased sleep, increased agitation and separation anxiety, loss of appetite or interest in exploring, less of a reaction to sights, sounds and smells, and overall changes in the way they interact with you.

For lack of a better way to put it simply, specialists have likened CDS to pet “dementia.”
How often does this occur in pets? More research needs to be done, but experts say that somewhere around 28% of dogs aged 11-12 suffer from the condition, and that number grows to around 68% by the time dogs turn 15-16.

So, how can you help your dog if he or she is dealing with this degenerative condition?

Old dog, new tricks
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” right? Well, just as some older people do things like crossword puzzles and brain teasers to keep their minds sharp, dogs can learn new and engaging activities to keep their minds stimulated.

When their brains are forced to work and focus on something in order to succeed, it tends to slow down degeneration. Try new toys, new forms of exercise, and even training to keep those canine minds sharp.

Feed them right
Make sure that the food you’re giving your aging pup has plenty of vitamin C and E, as well as selenium, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Krill oil, for example, has proven to improve cognitive health, and overall the diet should promote growth, healing and a healthy metabolism.

Some experts recommend only fresh, living food, but tests have shown that some manufactured diets designed specifically to enhance brain functioning have made significant cognitive improvements in dogs suffering from CDS. To find out what’s right for your dog, talk to your vet.

Don’t over or under feed
This is true for dogs at any age, but it’s especially important for older dogs, because if they are an unhealthy weight, it increases their chances of suffering from various diseases and will harm their overall health. If your dog is already dealing with CDS, this will only make things worse.

Brush those pearly whites
Unhealthy teeth make for unhealthy dogs and open your best friend up to all sorts of potential problems. These only get worse as they age, and they can impact both physical and mental health.

Consider supplements
Before you do anything like this, it’s always wise to speak with your veterinarian first, but as more research is done into CDS and how to slow down the process, the number of tested supplements on the market continues to grow.

Coconut oil and SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) are two supplements that have tested well, but there are a number of others out there. If your normal vet doesn’t care for supplements but you’re still interested, you can always seek out the advice of a holistic veterinarian.

Ask about drugs
Dog owners don’t have many options available if they decide to turn to psychoactive drugs to improve the cognitive state of their pet, but there is one that has been approved. Ask your vet about Anipryl® (selegiline) and whether or not he or she believes that it can help.

While there’s no known way to completely stop or reverse CDS, the best way to deal with it is to keep your dog happy, healthy, active, and engaged. Do that and you’ll make their life as rich and long as it can be.