The kitty litter type and litter box options out there these days can be overwhelming. What may be the right choice for one cat or owner my not work for you and your cat. There are many reasons one might be looking for a new litter or litter box. Maybe you are bringing home your first cat or bringing a new addition to your home, and you want to make sure you are still up to date on your options and making the best choice for them and yourself. Whether you are switching to help ease some strain on your shoulders or switching to find your cat’s preference, we are here to help. We have gone through all the litter types and boxes out there, their downfalls and upsides, so you can make the best decision for you and your furry family members.
With so many different litter types out there, it can be hard to narrow down what’s right for you, your lifestyle, and your beloved cat. We all have different priorities, such as an easy clean up and little dust, or being more environmentally cautious or keeping your budget in mind.
We are going to breakdown many of the varieties available so you can be more confident in making that right choice for you and your cat(s).
|Non-Clumping Clay Litter||– Absorbs its weight in urine.|
– Much less expensive than Clumping Clay litter.
– Most, if not all cats like it, typically no litter training needed.
– Easy to find, many brands fall into this category.
– Covers smell to a certain extent.
|– Heavy and dusty.|
– Tracking occurs.
– Since it is non-clumping, must be changed frequently (at least once a week).
– Not biodegradable, sits in landfills.
|Clumping Clay Litter||– Made with bentonite clay, allows urine to form into solid clumps to be scooped.|
– Easy to clean.
– Most, if not all cats like it, typically no litter training needed.
– Easy to find, many brands fall into this category.
– Good at neutralizing the smell.
– With good routine, can be changed monthly.
|– Heavy and dusty.|
– Tracking occurs.
– Not biodegradable, sits in landfills.
|Crystal Litter (Silica-gel)||– Absorbs liquid and traps odour better than clay litter.|
– Crystals draw in urine inside them leaving the outside dry, no clumps to scoop.
– Less upkeep, only scoop the poop, switch out monthly.
– Very light weight.Little to no dust, bigger crystals result in less tracking.
|– More expensive.|
– Different texture, litter training may be needed, refusal is possible.
– Not biodegradable, sits in landfills.
|Wood Litter||– Made of wood like pine, absorbs liquid well and then turns to saw dust.|
– Lasts longer.
– Less expensive.
– Natural smell to control odour.
– Biodegradable, more environmentally friendly.
|– Different texture, litter training may be needed, refusal is possible.|
– More frequent cleaning/labour intensive.
– Must sift out the dust and keep the pellets regularly.
|Paper Litter||– Uses recycled paper made into pellets, biodegradable.|
– Light weight.
– More absorbent than clay litter.
– Dust-free, little to no tracking.
|– Different texture, litter training may be needed, refusal is possible.|
– More labour intensive and must switch out weekly.
– Can be messy, not the best odour control.
|Corn Litter||– Lighter than clay litter.|
– Can be formulated as a clumping litter.
– Biodegradable, more environmentally friendly.
– Less dust than clay litters.
– With good routine, can be changed monthly.
– Not as good at odour control.
– Some tracking occurs.
– Different texture, litter training may be needed, refusal is possible.
|Tofu Litter||– Made of edible soy, biodegradable and flushable.|
– Highly absorbent, quick clumping to scoop out.
– Dust-free and low tracking.
– Light weight.
– Different texture, litter training may be needed, refusal is possible.
– Not the best odour control, dependent on brand.
– Can go moldy if stored in a high moisture area.
As many cat parents know, cats can be very particular about their litter box such as, size, shape, depth, and placement. Just like the litter, what may work for one cat does not always work for another, or what worked last week isn’t to their liking this week and it can be hard to figure out why. If cats are spooked by their box or “inconvenienced” by the size or complexity of it, they are more likely to find somewhere more comfortable to do their “business”. We want to help you avoid that scenario as much as possible.
Before we jump into what litter box is right for your cat(s), it may be best to consider how many litter boxes you need. The general rule or recommendation is to have one more litter box than the number of cats in the home.
Number of litter boxes = n + 1, n represents the number of cats in the home.
Ex. If you have 3 cats, n = 3 in this instance. Therefore; Number of litter boxes = 3 +1
Total number of litter boxes = 4
Of course, this is a recommendation. Many single cat households are perfectly content with just one litter box, especially in smaller homes where locating multiple appropriate areas is not feasible. In multi-cat households many find that having that extra box helps provide the cats the options they desire and minimizes the chances of them going outside the box.
The first instinct for many is to keep it out of the way, and typically out of sight. This is normally for our own convenience, but there may be a placement that meets everyone’s needs. It is best place it in a cool, dry, and quiet spot. A low traffic area that is away from their food and water. As much as we want it out of the way, we must also choose a spot that is easily accessible, and not likely that they will get locked in or out of that area.
Similarly, to cat litter, there are many litter box options available. All different colours, sizes, depths, and different entry ways. We are going to touch on the big litter box questions, shedding some light on the more popular options.
A big question out there is whether to go with a covered or uncovered box. Every cat seems to have their own preference on the issue. A covered box does help eliminate some mess and odour for us humans. With that said a covered box also traps more dust and odours, which may irritate them than an uncovered box. If you happen to have a cat that is perfectly happy using a covered box, it is even more important to scoop everyday to keep it clean and comfortable.
Our next topic is for those pet parents that are dealing with sprayers or kickers. These cats can leave quite the mess of litter or pee outside the box. Some older cats or those with joint issues may not be able to crouch down as far anymore and this causes them to pee higher than the side of the box. Its best to look for a box with high sides but still a low enough entrance to enter and exit with ease. A covered box is a great choice for these cats as well, if they don’t mind the lid. A top-entry litterbox is another fantastic option for more mobile cats, and it really cuts down on the mess left around the litter box.
Self-cleaning litter boxes have been growing in popularity. These can help keep things clean and sanitary. It can be very beneficial for those that travel and don’t feel comfortable with pet sitters. It provides the convenience of not having to scoop daily while keeping the litter box clean and comfortable for the cat(s). The convenience does come with a bigger price tag, but that may be worth it for many cat parents. Keep in mind, the noise and movement as our cat(s) pass by may scare and make them more prone to avoiding the box and finding somewhere else to go.
The choice of litter box is not always up to us, some of our cat(s) may have more of an input on the decision than others.
Some cats take to a new litter right away and do not require any transition process and make it easy on us. Most of us, unfortunately, are not that lucky. Using a transition method can greatly decrease the stress on the cat(s) during this change. There are two common transition methods we will be going over.
This process is very similar to the traditional approach to switching their food. You add the new litter to the bottom of the litter box and then the old litter on top of it. This way when the cat first steps into it, the texture feels and smells familiar. As they dig and bury, they will get accustomed to the new litter underneath. Gradually increase the amount of the new litter at the bottom and decrease the amount of old litter on top. It may take up to 7 days for the whole transition, and by the end they will be using only the new litter.
This is another way to transition cats to a new litter or box. It may seem a little weird or gross, but it has worked for many cats and cat owners. This involves taking some of your cat’s feces from the old litter or old litter box and adding it into the new litter or new litter box. This creates a positive association for them. It signals to them that this is where they do their “business”, making them more comfortable as it smells like them.
Another great tool when trying to get them accustomed to a new litter or litter box is positive reinforcement. It can be a great addition to any litter or litter box transition. It may seem silly but rewarding your cat after using the litter box helps associate that behaviour to treats or attention, encouraging them to keep using it. This is especially helpful and effective if they are highly food motivated.
If your cat is going outside the box, is it always best to visit your veterinarian and rule out any underlying condition such as a UTI, crystals, or a blockage. It is always best to catch urinary problems as early as possible to prevent the irritability and pain they are feeling. It provides a great peace of mind before you tackle to task of changing litters or litter boxes to find your solution.
If you are unsure of which litter your cat will like most, you can fill two separate boxes with different litter. Over a few days keep track of which box they seem to be using the most or visiting the most. This process will give you great insight on their preferences.
It is also a good idea to avoid too many big changes at once. If you do choose to change the litter, you should keep the box and box location the same. Too many changes at once can overwhelm and stress out your cat leading to them refusing any of the changes. Keep this in mind if there are changes to their general environment as well, like adding a new family member, doing home renovations, or moving. It is best to avoid changing their box or litter if you are in any of those situations.
Are you having a problem with tracking? Litter with larger granules and top-entry boxes help cut down on tracking. Litter mats set up outside the box can also help with tracking as it catches the litter while the cat walks across and can also catch any being thrown out of the entrance.
If you do happen to choose a cat litter or litter box that helps cut down on the daily scooping, keep in mind that our biggest clue into our cats’ health is in their litter box. It can show us if they are having digestive issues like constipation or diarrhea, or urinary problems that lead to blood in the urine. Regularly checking the litter box also lets us know that there may be a gastrointestinal or urinary blockage by the absence of feces and urine. The earlier these issues are caught, the better, and may even be life saving. Whether you need to scoop daily or not, you should always check the litter box(es) regularly to stay up to date on their health.
In the end, our cat(s) are the final judge. If they continuously refuse to use the box or litter, no matter how much we want them to use it, it is time to try something else.
If you are struggling or have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask our healthy pet care specialists in store. They are happy to help come up with solution together that meets everyone’s needs.
Is your pet constantly licking or biting at its paws? Do you feel like your pet always has an ear infection? Are they relentlessly scratching all over their body? Your pet may be dealing with an allergy. Now, since these symptoms can also be seen with many other health issues, it makes allergies one of the hardest ailments to diagnose in our furry friends. We are going to breakdown all we need to know about allergies and food sensitivities and what we can do to give our beloved family members some relief.
When the immune system enters a state of hypersensitivity after coming across a specific substance, the allergen, this would be classified as an allergic reaction. Now many pet parents think “my furry friend has been on the same food it’s entire life and never had a problem before, how can it be an allergy?”, which makes sense. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The immune system becomes sensitive to an allergen after being exposed on multiple occasions. It may take a couple months, or even years, to become sensitive, and over time it leads to the over-reaction of the immune system, the allergic reaction.
Allergies are complex immune reactions involving protein molecules from the allergen attaching to antibodies in the blood stream. Those antibodies attach themselves and the allergen molecule to a mast cell. The mast cell then releases compounds such as histamines, which cause the typical inflammation, swelling, and itchiness you see. The constant itching, no matter what the allergen is, always poses a risk of a secondary bacterial infection. You may also see symptoms like reoccurring ear infections, loose stool, vomiting, bloating along with the skin issues we typically associate with allergic reactions in dogs and cats. Allergies usually do not appear the first 6 months of age and seem to develop more often once the pet is over 2 years old.
Allergies can be classified in many ways, but we are going to group them based on the allergen. The types of allergies we will be covering are environmental & food allergies. The easiest way to treat an allergy is to remove the allergen from the environment or diet. Your pet may not be suffering from just one type of allergy, it may be a combination and therefore may require a combination approach to treatment as well.
Environmental allergies are unfortunately not always easily avoidable, due to the allergens being a part of everyday life, such as grass, dust, or mold. They are commonly referred to as atopic dermatitis. Many are seasonal allergens, and you may only see symptoms in the spring and summer while others can be year long. The most common environmental allergens are tree pollens, grass pollens, ragweed, molds, mildew, and dust mites. These allergic reactions are commonly seen with itchy skin, so they may be licking their paws, rubbing their face, and scratching areas like the underarms. Since many of these allergens are hard to avoid, treatment may be necessary to ease the symptoms your pets are feeling. There are four common types of treatments for atopic dermatitis.
Some pet parents see significant results with just one approach, but many find their solution by combining multiple of the above therapies. Just like humans, each pet is different and will respond differently to the treatments. Try not to feel defeated as it may take some trial and error.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
A food allergy or hypersensitivity can develop to any protein or carbohydrate. Most reactions commonly develop in response to proteins: beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, dairy products, and soy are commonly associated with food allergies in pets. They can develop at anytime in a pet’s life; it is not related to their first exposure to the ingredient.
A food allergy involves the immune system having a reaction meanwhile a food sensitivity does not involve an immune system response, but more so the digestive tract’s ability to digest the ingredient. Typically, the food allergy symptoms are very similar to those of environmental allergies, while a food sensitivity commonly shows more gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, loose stools, vomiting, and bloating.
Food allergies normally do not respond to corticosteroids or other medical treatments like atopic dermatitis. Many pet parents are very focused on differentiating food allergies and food sensitivities but when it comes to the best treatment, they are the same, you want to eliminate the reaction-causing-ingredient from the diet. How do we figure out what to exclude from the diet?
Since allergy symptoms overlap with many other illnesses, your veterinarian may want to rule out other conditions before focusing on allergies. They may recommend allergy testing to confirm the diagnosis and identify the allergen. It is important to remember not all types of allergy testing are the same and it is not always possible to determine the allergen accurately. The use of blood samples for allergy testing is proven to be highly accurate with insect or environmental allergies but studies have shown it is not reliable for food reactions in dogs and cats. Allergy testing through a blood sample at your veterinarian office can be quite pricey and seeing a veterinary dermatologist for skin testing under mild sedation may not fit in everyone’s budget either. This has led to the growth of allergy testing through saliva or hair follicle testing. This can provide some accuracy in identifying environmental allergens, but recent studies have shown it not to be the most accurate in diagnosing a food allergen. So, keep in mind when using these methods to diagnose a food allergy to take the results with a grain of salt, as false positives and false negatives are possible.
Now the best way to identify a food allergy or sensitivity is an elimination diet. We can’t lie, these are not known to be convenient and takes a commitment from the pet parent. Those who have gone through an elimination diet will tell you the results are well worth any possible frustration it may cause you. Your pet(s) will be thanking you and will be so much happier. It can be broken down into a few steps:
If the symptoms have improved some but not completely it is in your best interest to select a new carbohydrate and protein source and start again as the pet may have an allergy to the selected ingredients. Keep in mind that the symptoms may not completely resolve if the pet is also suffering from environmental allergies, and combination treatment may be needed.
If there are other pets in the household, it is important to ensure that the symptomatic pet does not have access to their food.
Natural Remedies and Supplements
What is great about the pet industry is that you always have options. You can go the medication route from you veterinarian or with the natural remedies or a combination of both. It’s about what works for you and your furry family members. We have talked about medical treatments you can receive at the veterinarian, but now we will dive into some product types we can provide to help ease any symptoms as the allergens are not always avoidable.
A great supplement for pets with allergies as well as many other skin issues is an Omega 3 and 6 supplement, aka fatty acid supplement. It can be found in many forms with the most popular being fish oils and tripe. Not only do they help boost the effectiveness of antihistamines and steroids, but it also helps improve the health of the skin and coat. The skin and coat are the first layer of defense of the immune system and keeping it healthy results in better overall health and protection. In addition, it helps soothe the common skin reactions such as the itchy sensation.
It may be surprising to some that a digestive aid like probiotics can help immensely when it comes to allergies. Not only does it help keep the balance of good and bad bacteria, but it is said that 70% of the immune system is in the gut. The immune cells in the gut interact with the diverse bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract which in turn can have an influence on how the immune system responds.
Another option to help boost the immune system is including antioxidants in their diet whether by whole foods or an allergy supplement. Some whole food examples include blueberries, cranberries, broccoli, spinach, and kale. Another antioxidant supplement is bee pollen, as with many of the other examples it has high amounts of Vitamin E and Quercetin compound which acts as a neutral antihistamine. They can be quite beneficial for minimizing skin reactions and other allergy symptoms.
An additional ingredient to look for in an allergy supplement is Turmeric. It is best known for the vibrant colour it provides for curries. The main component of turmeric is curcumin which has several health benefits. One benefit is its use as a very powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which can help with reactions of the skin and gastrointestinal tract reactions that can result from allergies.
If you feel lost, you can ask one of our Healthy Pet Care Specialist to suggest one of the many allergy support supplements where they have done all the work for you. Each takes careful thought in incorporating their perfect mix of anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, and antioxidants to offer your pet some relief from their symptoms. When it comes to cats it is always a good idea to confirm all ingredients are safe for them as well as their dog friends.
In all scenarios, it is hard for there to be an immediate fix for allergies. It may take some trial and error on what works for your pet and their type of allergies. It can be a big commitment to stick with it and be consistent, but it is well worth the effort. The relief your pet(s) will feel will be a reward for all.
As the snow thaws and we start to see the grass it is also flea and tick season. While fleas can be around year long, we start to see more ticks once the temperatures are around 4°C. Ticks can typically be found in tall grass and wooded areas, whereas fleas are in shady leafy debris piles and underneath decks, but also inside homes in the carpet and under furniture. When either insect bites it can lead to infection or the transmission of diseases. Fleas commonly cause tapeworm infections and skin infections referred to as flea dermatitis. There are many tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and more. These diseases and infections are zoonotic and can transfer to humans.
When it comes to flea collars, make sure to read the package as some only kill fleas or adult fleas and ticks while others also kill flea eggs. The duration of effectiveness may vary between product as well, while some protect against fleas for 5 months and ticks for 4 months, some repel both for up to 7 months. It can be kept on during bath or swimming, but this may result in you having to replace it sooner. Never replace more often than 3 or 4 months, dependent on product. The collar must be applied tight enough to have skin contact or it may not be as effective.
Some topical treatments for pets only offer protection against fleas and/or flea eggs but not ticks, so keep that in mind if you need tick protection as well. These types of treatments usually last four weeks.
Straightforward application: part the hair between the shoulder blades as they are unable to lick off the product here, squeeze contents directly onto the skin. Topical treatments should be left to dry for at least 2 days before bathing or swimming. They should not be applied to already irritated, inflamed or broken skin.
These topical treatments are based on the pets’ weight so also make sure you get the correct product for the current weight of your pet. These products are also available specifically for cat and dog, never give a cat a product meant for a dog and vice versa. Be extra careful in multiple pet households as they may be able to lick the product off each other or transfer the product which may be a concern for overdosing. Some side effects that can be much worse with overdosing are anxiousness, itchiness, gastrointestinal upset, and redness or irritation to the skin.
The benefit of the shampoo is that the fastest way to kill fleas and ticks is to expose them directly to a wet insecticide. The product is applied directly to the coat, massaging in to reach the skin to cover all areas the fleas or ticks would be. This will take care of adult fleas, flea eggs, and ticks for up to 4 weeks. The products usually include soothing ingredients like oatmeal, coconut oil, lanolin, and aloe to help with the sensitive or dry skin that sometimes results. The shampoo should not be used on broken or already irritated skin. Treatment once a month is the general suggestion, but always read the labels and directions.
There are more natural products like repellent sprays that do not include the harsh chemicals or smells that may appear in some of the previous options. Many sprays use essential oils such as citronella and tea tree oil, which can be harmful for cats, so always check the label to ensure it is safe to use for both cats and dogs if applicable. Typically, these are not safe for pets under 12 weeks of age. This option is meant to provide protection without the skin irritation. Some repellant sprays protect against adult fleas, flea eggs and ticks while some only protect against one or the other. These range from needing application each time they can potentially be exposed, to needing application every 2 weeks.
Tickless is an excellent product for repelling fleas and ticks as well. It uses ultrasonic pulses that are imperceptible to humans and pets. The pulses disorient the parasites, which makes them stay away from your pet. The device is designed for preventive purposes and does not remove ticks or fleas that are already present on an infected pet. They have done tests showing a 94% efficiency against ticks. Of course, effectiveness does depend on the condition of the animal’s coat and how heavily populated with ticks that area is. It is odour free with no chemicals, so it is safe for all ages, sizes, and health conditions, as well as pregnant and nursing pets. Keeps pests away for at least 6 months after activation. It comes in two sizes and an assortment of colours for you to choose from. The device is not waterproof, but moisture resistant. If the device gets wet, dry it off immediately to avoid any water damage. Due to its small size, it may be a choking hazard, always have it clipped to the collar or out of pets’ and children’s reach.
Another more natural option is diatomaceous earth. It is an odourless, non staining powder made from the sediment of fossilized algae. The microscopic sharp edges pierce the exoskeleton of the pests and dehydrates them; it also kills them by absorbing all the oils and fats within. It is important to only use food grade instead of the filtered grade as this can be harmful. To help with fleas and ticks, sprinkle liberally over pet’s body, focusing on problem areas like around the ears as well as the stomach and hind end. Work it through their coat to reach their skin. You can wash it off after 8 hours with a gentle shampoo and conditioner to rehydrate the skin and coat. The powder can be applied once a day for seven days in severe cases, repeat if needed. They do not recommend giving to pets who already struggle with dry skin or respiratory issues. Always take care to not get in in the eyes or around mouth or nose. Can be harmful if ingested in substantial amounts as it can accumulate in the lungs. It is known to help with other external pests like ants, bed bugs, and cockroaches.
Since fleas and ticks can move around, they can fall off the effected animal onto the furniture or carpets infesting the house. The fleas you see on your pet are only 5% of what the total flea population would be in their environment. Ninety-five percent of the fleas are found in the home and yard in the form of eggs, larvae, and pupae. This means that treating just the pet does not rid your home of the pests. To treat the home and yard there are a few options. There is what is a “premise spray” which is only meant to be used in the environment, spraying beds, curtains, carpets etc., but never spray on the pet. It is designed to be used in conjunction with on-animal treatments. Treatment kills fleas and ticks, providing typically 7 months of protection. If pest infestation persists, treatment may need to be repeated 2-3 weeks after initial treatment. Diatomaceous earth can also be used in the home and outside. For inside, sprinkle all over floor, carpet, bedding, and furniture. After 3-4 days you can vacuum it up from all surfaces and mop or wipe them down. For outside, it is recommended to apply across the whole yard, though make sure to not do it on a day that it is raining, can be reapplied each month as needed.
The longer a tick is attached, the more likely it will transmit bacteria which may lead to infections and/or diseases. To contract Lyme disease, the tick must be attached for 1-2 days. You want to avoid tearing or squishing the tick as you may be spreading more bacteria into the bite area. You want to spread the fur, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull straight upward in a slow motion. This prevents the tick’s mouth from remaining in the skin. It is never recommended to use your fingers to remove a tick as you don’t want to risk squeezing more bacteria into the bite site. There are many products specially made for safe tick removal, otherwise a fine tipped pair of tweezers would be best.
As a reminder, always make sure the product you are using is safe for your pet whether cat or dog, as well as their age and health. Ensure you are picking a product that protects against all the pests you are concerned about, as protection does vary. Most products are not safe for pregnant or nursing pets. If ever unsure, you can always ask our healthy pet care specialists in store for advice.
Much like dogs and cats, many smaller critter companions need help maintaining their dental health too. The presence of bacteria after eating, that build plaque and tartar on the teeth, can expose them to periodontal disease and a potential risk to their kidneys, heart and/or liver. They are also prone to experiencing other dental issues that cats or dogs do not suffer from.
For instance, rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas have continuously growing/erupting cheek teeth and incisors (the small ones up front). Hamsters, gerbils and other small rodents have continuously growing teeth as well but only the incisors. These teeth must be worn down or they can cause dental issues like root impaction, reserve crown disease, abscesses and sharp spurs that can cut their cheeks and/or tongue. Misalignment of teeth is common, and many health conditions are secondary to these dental problems.
Common signs of periodontal disease in small animals;
More severe signs are nasal discharge, eye discharge, bulging eyes or discharge under jaw.
Including enough rough fibre by using long stem hays/grasses like Timothy Hay in their diet can help wear down the teeth, as it requires the side-to-side grinding motion that helps control dental growth. Toys like chew blocks, hanging chew charms, grass rings/balls, and sticks (of appropriate wood and size) are great choices to help the balance between tooth growth and tooth wear, and keeps them stimulated and entertained.
Ferrets are true carnivores, like cats, and can benefit from the same dental care, whether you choose toothbrushing, chews or raw meaty bones to work off the plaque and tartar. It is always a good idea to regularly check your pet’s teeth and oral health. Ferrets are prone to breaking their canines by chewing on the cage, exposing them to tooth-root infection.
When it comes to birds’ dental health, they do not have teeth and do not suffer from the resulting diseases. However, much like teeth, beaks can be misaligned, and overgrown, and regular maintenance may be required. To avoid any health issues resulting from an overgrown beak, use chew toys to help wear the beak down and prevent too much growth.
The category of reptiles is so large and covers many different species, so I will briefly touch on a few. Not all reptiles have teeth; turtles and tortoises do not, where as most snakes and lizards do. The common signs of periodontal disease are decreased water or food intake, thickening saliva, yellow plaque or puss, swelling of oral tissue or face (seek veterinary attention). Some snakes and lizards replace their teeth constantly while some take months or years to replace and may require care to avoid damaging them. This would include feeding only the specialized diets these species are meant to eat and nothing too hard that could break their teeth. The most common dental issues these species encounter is mouth rot or ulcerative stomatitis, which is an infection in the gums and mouth caused by small cuts and food stuck in their oral cavity. Snakes and lizards are most vulnerable. If you see food stuck in the oral cavity it is suggested to gently open the mouth, and remove item with a soft, small cotton swab. Keep in mind that the smaller the reptile the more fragile they are.
Bearded Dragons’ dental structures differ from other reptiles as their teeth are directly rooted into their jawbones, and as such they are predisposed to infection and inflammation to the bone. When their teeth are lost/damaged they are not replaced, like chameleons. Best prevention is to regularly clean the teeth. It’s suggested about every other day or at least once a week. Typically done with a dampened cotton swab to rub the plaque off the teeth.
The key to good dental health with small animals and exotics is a proper diet, regular care and the proper toys to limit plaque build up and work off any presence of tartar and of course, check ups with the Veterinarian when needed.
We all love our pets and want to do what we can to keep them healthy and happy and a part of that care is their dental health! Did you know that most pets have a form of periodontal disease by the age of three?
Are your pets experiencing any of the following symptoms?
If yes, your cat or dog may be showing signs of periodontal disease. We will touch on what the disease is, what it can lead to, and how we as pet parents can help them work off the plaque and tartar. There are many options to choose from to find what works for you and your furry family.
After consuming a meal, it takes only a few hours for the bacteria, saliva, and food particles in the mouth to become plaque. It may surprise you to know that it only takes around 24 hours after eating to form tartar on their teeth. Tartar is the result of hardened plaque if it has not removed. This tartar not only builds in clear sight but also below the gum line causing inflammation and reeking havoc on our loved ones’ dental structures and can lead to infection.
If your pet is experiencing the symptoms of the disease along with a fever and weight loss, this can be signs that it is affecting multiple organs instead of just one part of the body, a systemic infection. This is due to the incredible ease of bacteria, from the plaque and tartar in the mouth, entering the bloodstream affecting the heart, liver, and kidneys. The bacteria in the heart leads to infection and inflammation in the interior (endocarditis) as well as damaging the valves. Unfortunately, there is an increased chance of our little friends getting heart disease when periodontal disease is present. The kidneys and liver run into the bacteria as their function is to filter the blood and remove harmful components like toxins and bacteria. The resulting infection leads to the poor performance of the filtering function causing systemic infection and this is when we may see our pets quite sick, not acting themselves, and even lashing out in pain.
As part of their ongoing oral care, us pet parents have so many choices these days and something to fit everyone’s schedules day or night and what each of us are comfortable with. Some processes may work for one pet, but not for another and some pets may need multiple interventions to get the job done.
The Traditional Toothbrushing
Brushing is always the recommended technique to try first for dental care and there are a variety of different brushes and toothpastes, available in different sizes and flavours to find your pets’ favourite. When first starting out, it is best to take it slow, introducing them to each different product and giving lots of praise and rewards, while trying to have them remain calm and happy as possible. You can start by introducing just your finger to their gums and teeth and then put toothpaste on your finger, and finally once comfortable the toothpaste and the toothbrush combined. A newer product out there is dental wipes, though the method and function is the same. Sometimes its best to do in quadrants to give them (and you) a break. This is especially a good idea with puppies and kittens and this will help get them acclimated to it. The best time to do the brushing is after their last meal to prevent as much bacterial growth overnight, though for many of us just getting it done regularly is an accomplishment to be proud of.
Water additives are a great option to add on to your dental care routine, especially those with a busy schedule who may not be able to fit in a toothbrushing regularly. This option takes very minimal time or energy but still helps the teeth and gums daily, as recommend by health professionals. The products are typically odourless, colourless, and tasteless so your pets do not even realise they are taking care of their teeth and it will not decrease water consumption, keeping them hydrated. The specially formulated ingredients help break up existing plaque and tartar while also helping to prevent new plaque from forming. An added benefit with clean teeth is much better smelling breath. This results in improved dental health overall by simply adding the recommended amount to your pets’ water.
Oral supplements for dental health, similar to water additives, is a relatively new dental care option. Just like water additives you simply add the recommended amount either directly in the mouth or to the food. The two most common forms are an oral spray or a powder. Most spray forms would be used either before or after a meal and normally twice a day. The powder form is a food additive, may be given once or twice a day (always follow the directions on label). The ingredients in the products will interact with the saliva to clean the teeth, keep plaque and tartar at bay, and maintain balance within the oral bacteria resulting in fresh breath. This is another alternative if brushing cannot fit in your schedule, though some picky eaters may not like the addition to their food and some may not cooperate with the oral spray. It is best, just like introducing toothbrushes, to take it slow with a lot of praise and rewards and know that not every method is going to work for every pet. That is what’s so great about the growth in dental care options.
Dental Toys and Chews
Chews and dental toys are great at utilizing the natural way cats and dogs chew to help alleviate the plaque and tartar. Since many see these as as special treat or toy, they are seen as high rewards and pets will really enjoy working on these options and clean their teeth at the same time. Many toys have “nubs” or “points” that help massage the gums and work off plaque, teething toys also fall under this group because they love the feeling of the toy against their gums, keeping them comfortable and clean at the same time. As always, when introducing a new chew its best to supervise to ensure this type of dental care is suitable for your furry friend. If they are able to work pieces off the toy, this may not be the option for them as we never want to risk choking or gastrointestinal blockage. Always follow the products’ guidelines as many have options for puppies, seniors, and extreme chewers to keep everyone safe and healthy. If unsure, speak with one of our healthy pet care specialists to pick out the right one.
Feeding bones is a great way to help work the plaque and tartar off teeth, massaging the gums and the pets absolutely love it. Many people have their fears and reservations, but that’s why we are here to help you navigate. Once again, this method uses the natural mechanics of dogs and cats chewing to help their teeth. To avoid injuring teeth, choking hazards, gastrointestinal issues there are a few basic guidelines to follow:
Bones are typically recommended to feed twice a week to keep up with dental care, but each pet is different. Always keep an eye on their stool and its consistency; their stools should be firm but not too hard and they should not struggle or strain to defecate. If they are showing signs of constipation decrease the amount of bone you’re feeding.
With so many options out there to keep our pets’ teeth shining you’re bound to find the right product(s) for you and your pets and as always, our healthy pet care specialists are here and happy to help guide you or answer any questions!
There are many great reasons to feeding both wet and dry formulas. While pets don’t require both, offering flavors, toppers and textures adds variety to your pet’s diet which can help foster the human-animal bond. If you think about the ways that we as humans eat, we find variety enjoyable, and it can be fun to share that experience with our pets.
Wet food contains higher moisture content and provides your pet with an additional source of hydration. While crunchy kibble can help to provide oral health benefits.
It is important dogs and cats recognize all forms of food throughout their lives and find them desirable in the event they require a specific medically managed diet. You should try to ensure that your pet doesn’t find a certain texture unappealing. When feeding both wet and dry, make sure that you discuss how much of each you should be feeding with your veterinarian to ensure that you don’t overfeed. Additionally, when feeding both wet and dry it’s important to ensure that your pet is getting their daily dose of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Natural Balance® wet and dry formulas are nutritionally complete which allows you to mix and match. If you are looking to add wet food into your pet’s diet, we recommend pairing your dry formula with the matching wet formula.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease characterized by an enlarged heart as a result of compromised function of the heart muscles. The etiology (manner of causation) of the disease is not fully understood yet and, in many cases, the cause of the disease phenotype cannot be identified. A number of studies have been conducted in which a variety of etiologies have been noted. The most commonly attributed cause of DCM is genetics, with specific genetic mutations being identified in Doberman Pinschers, German Shorthaired Pointers and Boxers. Other breeds in which inherited DCM has been recognized are Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, Airedale Terriers and Scottish Deerhounds. More research is required to identify specific genetic mutations associated with DCM in these breeds.
Peer reviewed, published scientific studies have identified non-genetic causes of DCM including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle due to infection), hypothyroid disease, tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and nutrient deficiencies or nutrient imbalances.
An attempt has been made to associate certain categories of diets and diets with certain characteristics to canine dilated cardiomyopathy. The fact is that there is a much more complicated relationship between food and DCM. A broad category like grain free or boutique cannot be linked specifically to any health condition simply because there is so much variety within categories like this. Even characteristics of a food such as containing legumes or exotic proteins is much too broad of a characteristic to be able to make causative conclusions.
Nutrient imbalance and deficiency
Taurine and carnitine have both been linked specifically to dilated cardiomyopathy. These are both non-essential nutrients for dogs because they can be manufactured endogenously in the liver. The synthesis processes can be disrupted when dogs are fed diets that are low in total protein content or low in essential amino acids. Diets high in fiber can limit protein digestion and absorption which in turn can lead to deficiencies of essential amino acids, which affects production of taurine and carnitine. Other nutrients involved in the synthesis include iron, selenium, zinc and niacin; these nutrients have yet to be investigated for potential links to disease development.
Nutrients that could potentially affect development of canine DCM, but require further investigation, include vitamin E, potassium, choline, thiamine and copper.
In some studies, improvement was observed after a diet change, but other treatments were also administered, including taurine and/or carnitine supplementation and drugs such as inotropic agents, diuretics, ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. It is impossible to determine causation or even correlation with so many confounding variables.
One of the only research projects done in a controlled environment with proper experimental methods is a peer-reviewed, published study done by the university of Illinois. Dogs were fed either a diet containing 45% legumes, or a diet composed mostly of animal protein. Over 90 days, there was no significant difference when comparing amino acid and taurine status of the two groups. More detailed investigation is still required in order to make concrete conclusions.
Current FDA reports include sampling bias, small sample size, incomplete information about the sample population, confounding variables, lack of standardized measurements and conflicting information. It is not a scientific study, rather a collection of information submitted by pet owners.
The FDA sample population includes an over-representation of specific breeds such as Golden Retrievers representing 19% of all dogs in the report. Of all the dogs included with breeds named, 40% are breeds with a known genetic predisposition to developing DCM so it is not likely these cases are related to nutritional deficiencies, at least not exclusively.
Many of the reports were incomplete, missing the dog’s breed, age, weight, and not including complete diet history and medical records. The majority of reports included no analysis for taurine deficiency or any other nutritional deficiency. Some reports did not even include a diagnosis of DCM.
There was no control for confounding variables like treats, medication, supplements or other health conditions. In fact, the FDA Vet-LIRN report stated that 44% of the 202 dogs who were diagnosed with DCM via echocardiogram, also had documented concurrent medical conditions.
The FDA report states that boutique foods made by small manufacturers increase risk, but nearly half of the dogs in the report were consuming foods from the 6 largest pet food manufacturers in North America. It is also suggested that diets containing exotic proteins could be contributing, yet 76% of the diets named included typical pet food proteins such as chicken, lamb, salmon, whitefish, turkey, beef and pork. It is stated that grain free diets and diets containing legumes are related to DCM because the majority of the dogs in the report were eating this type of food, but this is what was specifically asked for, and no control data was collected to compare it to.
Based on the current scientific evidence available, there does not appear to be a link between “BEG” diets and dilated cardiomyopathy. More controlled research is required in order to obtain a better understanding of the disease and how it is related to genetics, metabolism and nutrition.
Without definitive conclusions from research, the best recommendation we can make is to provide variety in the diet of dogs. Any potential negative effect of a diet is compounded when the same diet is fed every day for every meal for an extended period of time. Rotational and combination feeding can mitigate the risk of continuous nutrient deficiency or adverse effects of specific nutrients or nutrient balances.
Click the link below to read a previous blog about combination feeding.
Global Pet Foods offers an incredible variety of high quality pet foods. We do our due diligence screening products so that our customers can be confident in what we offer. You can find the largest selection of Canadian made pet foods in addition to an abundant variety of food types. We guarantee satisfaction to our customers and our knowledgeable staff are ready and willing to help customers find the right products for their pets.
Click below to find your local Global Pet Foods store.
First aid is extremely important in emergency situations with pets. First aid is required to ease pain and prevent further injury until professional veterinary care can be obtained. Our pets (and our neighbours’ pets) are just as excited about the nice weather as we are, and they may become a bit more adventurous this season. Wildlife is also more active and potentially more aggressive if there are babies near by. There is more traffic on the road, more yard work on the go and spring cleaning is well underway. This time of the year is beautiful and also presents some dangers including wildlife, traffic, sharp tools, scary noises and garbage to get into! It is important to be prepared in case your pet, or a pet you come across, has become injured. The following information is only a sample of the kinds of things we should know as pet owners and lovers. Pet first aid training covers all of this and so much more, and we highly encourage all pet owners to invest in formal training.
In an emergency situation, your first priority needs to be safety! If you are put in danger or injured, you are of no help to the pet and you also may require medical attention. Ensure you are safe before attempting to administer first aid.
Animals need to be restrained before administering first aid as injured or scared animals can be unpredictable or dangerous.
You need to stay calm and focused in order to provide the best care for an injured animal. You also should get help. Another person can restrain the animal or provide transportation to a veterinarian.
Assess the condition of the animal and prioritize what needs attention first. Tend to the most threatening issue first.
Check if the animal is responsive to voice and touch. Check respiration and pulse.
Your goal is to stabilize the animal and transport to a veterinary clinic.
Checking and recording vital signs is an important indicator of the severity of an animal’s condition and can be a valuable tool for the veterinarian. It is also extremely helpful to record your pet’s normal vital signs at rest so you are able to identify changes in these vital signs, which would indicate injury or illness.
To check pulse, place your hand on the animal’s chest behind its elbow to feel the heartbeat, or place fingers on the inside of the back leg where it joins the body to feel the pulse in the femoral artery. Do not use your thumb to find the pulse. Count beats per minute.
Respirations can be checked visibly by watching for chest movements or holding a hand or tissue in front of the nose to feel or see breaths or by placing a hand on the animal’s chest to feel for movement. Count breaths per minute.
Check the mucous membrane colour by looking at the gums, and measure capillary refill time by pressing a finger firmly onto the gums above the canine tooth until the gums turn white under your finger and then release, counting the time it takes for colour to return.
Use the forms below to record your pet’s normal vital signs as a baseline reference.
Shock occurs when there is not enough oxygen circulating to meet the needs of vital organs.
Signs of shock:
Remember to always restrain an animal before attempting first aid. If an animal appears to be in shock, handle gently and keep the animal quiet. First control any bleeding and then check the airway, breathing and circulation. Keep the animal warm and transport immediately to a veterinarian. Do not give the animal anything to eat or drink.
Bleeding from minor cuts will stop within a few minutes. Severe bleeding requires immediate first aid as it can lead to shock and eventually death.
Restrain the animal first. Cover the wound with clean gauze and secure with a bandage. Reinforce dressing as needed if bleeding continues. Transport to a veterinarian.
There are many types of injuries and the action you take will vary depending on what type of injury the animal has sustained. Always transport to a veterinarian once the animal is stabilized.
If an animal has a broken bone, first control any bleeding, move the animal as little as possible and support the animal during transportation. If splinting a broken limb, do not attempt to bend the limb; splint in the position found.
In the case of an injury directly to the eyeball, use a cold compress and do not apply direct pressure.
For minor burns, apply a cold compress or submerge in water and apply sterile dressing and bandage. If burns are severe, transport immediately to a veterinarian and monitor vital signs.
Common foreign object injuries this time of year include porcupine quills, fishhooks and grass seed.
Porcupine quills can be removed without sedation if there are only a few; grasp the quill close to the skin with needle nose pliers and slowly pull straight out. If there are many quills or they are inside the mouth or near the eyes, they should be removed by a veterinarian.
To remove a fishhook when the barbed portion has not penetrated the skin, simply withdraw the hook from the skin. If the barb has penetrated the skin, push the hook forward until the barb sticks out. Cut the shank of the hook and remove it.
Many pet owners are unaware that grass seeds can become lodged in an animal’s nose, ears, feet, between toes or in the throat. If the object is visible, try removing it gently. Do not use tools in an animal’s nose or throat. If they cannot be removed, contact a veterinarian.
If an animal is having difficulty breathing, is gagging, rubbing their face on the ground or pawing at their mouth, they may be choking. Restrain the animal, open the mouth and pull the tongue forward to inspect the throat. If the object is visible, grasp it with your fingers and remove it. If this is not possible, a version of a Heimlich maneuver can be performed.
For small pets, place them against your stomach with their head up and feet hanging down. Put your first two fingers in the hollow space just below the rib cage and push inward toward your belly and upwards towards your chin at the same time.
For large pets, lay them on their side on the floor and kneel behind them, with your knees touching their back. Lean over them and place your closed fist in the hollow below the rib cage and press sharply upward and inward towards their head and your knees.
These maneuvers should only be done in severe emergency situations and your pet will require veterinary attention even after the object has been removed.
Always be conscious of potential dangers in your pet’s environment!
*The information provided here is intended as a guide only and does not replace formal first aid training.
It is important for at least one person in your household to have pet first aid training. If you experience a pet emergency, always phone your veterinarian or animal emergency clinic so they can give you guidance and/or prepare for your arrival.
Prevention of illness and injury is the primary objective of all pet owners and animal lovers. Pet first aid courses provide training that is essential for prevention in addition to emergency first aid training. We encourage all pet owners to receive animal first aid training.
With the legalization of marijuana, it is becoming more common in households. It may not be in your household, but it could be in your neighbour’s, your friend’s or family’s household. People may not be concealing it in the same way, so it could become more accessible to curious pets. Dogs and cats are crafty and are more capable of accessing seemingly inaccessible areas that we might think.
It is important for everyone to understand the dangers of THC when it comes to pets and how to recognize when they have been exposed.
Exposure to the toxin is most commonly through ingestion but second-hand smoke can also expose your pet to harmful levels of THC.
THC is a very fat-soluble substance, so it is metabolized by the liver and can be stored in the fatty tissue there or in the brain and kidneys before being eliminated. The majority of THC is eliminated in the feces (up to 90%) and the rest is excreted through the kidneys. The effects of the drug will wear off only after it has been metabolized and eliminated.
Symptoms of THC toxicity may be present very shortly after ingestion or many hours after and can last anywhere from approximately 30 minutes to several days. These factors are dependent on the dose ingested as well as the individual animal.
Dogs in particular have more cannabinoid receptors in their brain than people do, so THC can affect them significantly. Most symptoms appear neurological, such as wobbly, uncoordinated movements, dilated pupils, disorientation and vocalization. They may drool excessively or vomit as well as dribble urine. Tremors, seizures or coma are potential in severe cases.
There are tests available that can be done by your veterinarian to confirm the pet has ingested marijuana. Not all clinics have the test available, and it is important to always be honest with clinic staff about the potential for THC exposure. Your veterinarian’s priority is helping your pet, and no one in the clinic is there to judge, so there is no reason to hide anything.
Treatment options will vary depending on the situation. In cases where ingestion is witnessed or confirmed shortly after, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to prevent absorption of the toxin. This is not possible in cases where the symptoms are not present until after the drug has been absorbed. Your vet may choose to administer IV fluids to prevent dehydration and maintain blood pressure and organ function. In some cases, the pet may be sent home to be monitored by the owner until the drug is metabolized and symptoms subside. When the pet is home, it is important to keep stimuli to a minimum. Keep your pet in a dark, quiet place where they feel comfortable but are confined enough to prevent them from injuring themselves.
After your pet has come out of the toxicity, they will likely be very hungry and thirsty. Allow them to eat and drink, but in small amounts at a time so they do not over-do it and make themselves feel sick or bloat. Most pets will be visibly back to normal once the drug has been metabolized and eliminated. It is possible that there will be lingering digestive affects from the ingestion of a toxin, especially if it was a large dose. Monitor your pet’s body condition in the following weeks and if they experience weight loss, consider digestive support supplements for a short time until they are back to ideal body condition.
Prevention is key; keep all potentially toxic substances inaccessible to pets and remove pets from the area while smoking. If you suspect your pet has ingested or been exposed to a toxin, call your veterinarian or local emergency vet clinic.
Feeding a raw food diet can have serious health benefits for pets. High in protein and fat, low in carbohydrates and high in moisture, a raw diet is built for carnivorous pets like dogs and cats. Not only is the nutrient balance ideal, the way the nutrients are incorporated ensures optimal benefit. When nutrients are consumed as part of a whole food, in their natural state – the food matrix – they are more bioavailable and have greater impact on the body. In a raw diet, the food matrix is unaltered by heat or other processing, which ensures pets are able to get what they need from their food and are not exposed to any harmful chemicals that may be generated by refining or cooking processes.
When it comes to choosing a raw diet to feed, it is important to know about the manufacturer – their processes, their formulas and their values. Every manufacturer has a unique way of doing things; depending on what your values are as a consumer, you will align with manufacturers differently.
Here we are highlighting a company with one of the most unique processes in the industry.
K9 Choice Foods Premium Raw Pet Food is a family company in Alberta, Canada. The most interesting thing about this company is that they raise many of the livestock that are used in their recipes. This offers a high degree of control over the quality of their products. Not only that, it provides them with control over how the animals are raised; which is free range without the use of hormones or steroids. In addition to this, the age at which animals are processed, specifically cattle, can be controlled. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has much stricter regulations in place for facilities processing cattle of 30 months of age or older. Typically, cattle that are processed for the human food chain are less than 2 years old. The folks at K9 Choice just feel like this isn’t a long enough life to give the animals that give our pets sustenance, so they are allowed to graze and roam for much longer. What this means for consumers is that their processing facility goes through a more rigorous inspection process even than many of the facilities that supply beef to the human food industry.
Every part of the animal is available for the pet food recipes, even the most prime cuts of meat. In addition, the meat is not aged, and therefore retains all the moisture that is so important for hydration. The time from pasture to package is less than 24 hours – it does not get any fresher than that. Fresh, high quality protein is the foundation of a premium raw diet. This foundation is built upon with fresh produce to create balanced recipes.
From the company:
A Raw Dog food company built uniquely by design and philosophy.
Almost 20 years ago the idea of K9 Choice was born. Designed unlike any other we are the only raw dog food company that raises, processes and packages as many of our own naturally raised proteins as possible. We have shaped everything we do around the simple premise that we can and should feed our beloved pets the very best, real, and truly natural whole foods possible. When we started we made small, hand-crafted batches of a few hundred pounds maybe a few times a month, 20 years later we use the same small-batch, handcrafted, minimally processed techniques…..only we now make several batches an hour!
Pasture to Package isn’t just our tag line, it’s the philosophy we live every day.
K9 Choice Foods is now available at Global Pet Foods stores nationwide! Call your local store to inquire.