Common Illnesses in Senior Pets

As our furry companions gracefully age, they become more susceptible to a range of common illnesses that can impact their health and vitality. The golden years bring wisdom and charm, but also potential health challenges for our senior pets. Understanding and recognizing these common illnesses is crucial for pet parents to provide the best possible care, ensuring our aging companions enjoy a comfortable and happy life. Let’s dive in!

Obesity

As pets enter their golden years, metabolic changes and decreased activity levels make them particularly susceptible to weight gain. Obesity in senior pets can lead to a myriad of health problems, including joint issues, diabetes, respiratory problems, and cardiovascular diseases. The added weight exacerbates conditions like arthritis, making movement painful and contributing to a sedentary lifestyle that further compounds the problem. This not only diminishes their overall quality of life but also increases the risk of chronic ailments, limiting their ability to enjoy their senior years with us to the fullest.

Diet plays a pivotal role, and our healthy pet care specialists may recommend a specialized senior pet food that addresses their nutritional requirements without excess calories. Smaller portions spread out multiple meals, coupled with regular exercise, can aid in weight loss, and improve overall mobility. It’s essential to monitor progress closely with regular body condition checks and adjust the treatment plan as needed. Additional interventions may be recommended such as medications or supplements to support weight loss and manage associated health issues.

Preventing senior pet obesity is key to ensuring  healthy and active sunset years for our furry friends. Losing the weight once already on is much more difficult than preventing the weight gain to begin with. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor weight and identify potential health concerns early on. Pet owners should focus on providing a balanced and age-appropriate diet, adjusting portions as needed to maintain a healthy weight. Incorporating regular, low-impact exercise into a senior pet’s routine, such as gentle walks and interactive play, can help prevent weight gain and promote joint health. By being proactive in both treatment and prevention, pet owners can contribute to a longer, happier, and healthier life for our senior companions.

Arthritis

As our beloved furry friends gracefully enter this period, they may encounter arthritis, a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It can be both managed and prevented with a little extra care but if left unaddressed, it can significantly alter their quality of life. You might notice your once sprightly companion taking a bit more time to rise from their cozy spot or showing a preference for leisurely strolls rather than high-energy play. Unfortunately, many symptoms of arthritis are mistaken as part of the “normal” aging process.

Symptoms
– Difficulty with stairs and getting on/off furniture
– No longer using their favourite perches
– Less active and sleeping more often
– Limping or lameness
– Loss of muscle mass in backend
– Trouble squatting for bathroom or more accidents in the house
– Increased irritability or sensitivity to touch

The diagnosis typically involves a comprehensive examination, where your pet’s joints are gently assessed, and blood work and X-rays may be recommended to rule out any underlying condition, such as bone cancer. X-rays are also used to assess the degree of degeneration. There is no cure for arthritis but there are treatments to slow the progression and ease the discomfort. Treatment options often include medications to ease pain such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and joint supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3s, and much more to promote flexibility and mobility. In some cases, alternative therapies such as massages, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture has been shown to improve mobility and quality of life.

Preventing arthritis involves embracing the role of a proactive pet parent. Keep those tails wagging and kitty paws padding by maintaining an ideal weight through a well-balanced diet, as extra pounds can put unnecessary stress on joints. Including joint supplements before symptoms occur can help hold off any progression.  Regular exercise, even in the form of gentle play or short walks, is the key to keeping those joints limber. With a combination of love, attention, and a watchful eye, you can ensure your senior companion continues to age gracefully.

Diabetes Mellitus

While navigating the world of senior pet health, we often encounter the challenge of diabetes mellitus, a condition that affects our older furry friends much more frequently than their younger counterparts. Keep an eye out for an increase in water consumption and more frequent bathroom breaks—key signs that your pet might be dealing with diabetes. You may also notice cloudy eyes, especially in dogs, and reoccurring infections. If your once spry companion is suddenly less enthusiastic about playtime and seems to be losing weight despite a hearty appetite, it’s time for a trip to the vet’s office.

Diagnosis is made based on the clinical signs discussed and persistently high levels of glucose in the blood and urine. Fear not, for the treatment journey is paved with love and care. Managing diabetes in senior pets may involve a combination of insulin injections, a carefully tailored diet, and regular monitoring of their glucose levels. Their diet and feeding schedule is very important. Pet parents will want to feed them the same food, in the same amount, at the same time each day so our furry friends can achieve consistent insulin regulation. Prognosis is good, as long as we are committed to treatment and monitoring. If caught early, treatment may lead to remission, where they are no longer considered diabetic and do not require insulin therapy, though regular monitoring is still recommended.

Preventative MeasureTips/Reasoning
Maintain a healthy weight – Obesity is a well-known leading cause of diabetes
– Control portion sizes, treats, and access to human food
– Regular exercise
Healthy diet – Quality ingredients with high protein content and minimal carbohydrates
– Single ingredient high protein treats are best
Regular Vet Visits – To discuss their eating habits and identify any subtle changes
– Regular blood work/urinalysis to diagnose and treat early for best chance of remission

Kidney Disease

Embarking on the delightful journey of senior pet companionship may bring us face to face with kidney disease, a condition that demands a thoughtful approach to our aging friends’ well-being. The kidneys act as a filtration system, removing many waste products from their blood. Normally, these waste products are eliminated through the urine. When kidneys are not functioning to full capacity, due to damage, aging or other processes, waste products are no longer filtered and build up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms
Compensated Kidney FailureThe earliest signs:
– Increased thirst
– Increased urination
Advanced Kidney Failure – Loss of appetite and weight loss
– Lethargy
– Vomiting & Diarrhea
– Bad Breath

If you spot these signals, a visit to the veterinarian’s office becomes a necessary step towards understanding and addressing kidney concerns in our furry companions.

Blood tests and urinalysis take center stage, unveiling clues about our pet’s kidney function and overall health. The bloodwork will assess the levels of waste products such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and blood creatine (CREA) which indicate decreased kidney function. Also, high levels of SDMA (a naturally occurring indicator of kidney function) can help indicate the early stages of kidney disease before BUN and CREA levels will indicate an issue. The blood test will also show levels of substances like albumin, minerals like phosphorus and calcium, as well as white blood cells to help determine the best course of treatment.

Kidney Disease Treatment
Phase 1Phase 2
– High doses of intravenous fluids are given to flush out the kidneys and bloodstream.
– Helps mildly damaged kidney cells function again
– Helps replace various electrolytes, especially potassium
– The second phase of treatment is to help keep the kidneys functioning as long and as normal as possible by using one or more of the following:
– The Diet
– A Phosphate Binder
– Home Fluid Therapy
– Proteinuria Therapy

Preventing kidney disease can be a tricky task as there can be a variety of causes. Kidney disease can be inherited, and many responsible breeders have taken steps in preventing the chronic disease within their breeding program. Many acute cases are due to our little friends ingesting toxic substances such as antifreeze, grapes, pesticides, and some plants, so we need to do our best to prevent their access to these items. The infectious disease leptospirosis is also a culprit behind kidney disease and can be prevented through regular vaccination. The best prevention we can provide our pets is a healthy diet, appropriate exercise, and regular vet visits to keep them healthy and happy for as along as possible and catch any changes right away.

Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism

On our senior journey with our pets, and especially our cats, we might encounter thyroid imbalances, where hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism play their quirky roles. Hyperthyroidism is increasingly common in senior cats and becomes a higher and higher risk as they get older. This is similar to its counterpart hypothyroidism, though not as common, and is seen mostly in senior dogs.

HyperthyroidismHypothyroidism
The overproduction of thyroid hormone and the subsequent increase in metabolism. Many organs are affected, especially the heart Most commonly seen in senior catsCondition caused by the inactivity of the thyroid gland leading to low levels of thyroid hormone and a low rate of metabolism. Affects many organ systems.
SymptomsSymptoms
Restless, increased aggression, increased vocalization, weight loss despite ravenous appetite, high blood pressure The high blood pressure can lead to cardiomyopathy, retinol detachment and kidney disease.Weight gain without appetite, lethargy, cold intolerance, dry coat & increased shedding, increased ear & skin infections, high blood cholesterol, and slow heart rate. It can also cause abnormal functioning of the nerves causing lameness and lack of coordination.
DiagnosisDiagnosis
Blood test performed to look for high levels of TT4.Blood test performed to look for low levels of TT4. Confirmed with low levels of T4 when a “Free T4 by ED” test is performed.

When it comes to hypothyroidism, there is no cure, but treatment with lifelong medication can help them live a normal happy life. Hyperthyroidism has a few treatment options. They do have the option of oral medication to restore the normal levels of thyroid hormone that requires regular blood tests to monitor for rare, but serious side effects. There is also the choice of treating our purrfect friends by feeding an iodine-limited diet to lower the levels, but must be the only food fed, including treats. In some cases, your veterinarian may be able to offer radioactive iodine therapy which destroys the abnormal thyroid tissue without endangering the other organs. With surgery, they may also be able to remove the affected thyroid gland(s) to treat the condition. In both of these cases, recurrence is rare.

As we wrap up this exploration of common illnesses in our senior pets, let’s remember that each sneeze, shuffle, or slower tail wag tells a unique tale of aging and resilience. Our furry friends may face their share of health hiccups as they gracefully enter their golden years, but with a sprinkle of love, a dash of veterinary care, and a pinch of preventive measures, we can ensure that their senior journey remains as charming and delightful as their youthful escapades. Understanding and embracing the quirks of our senior companions allows us to be the best partners in their journey through the whimsical landscape of aging. Here’s to more years of cuddles, joy, and health for our beloved senior pets!!!


Written By

Taylor Luther

Marketing Lead, Customer Engagement

Taylor completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph and has built up experience within the pet nutrition industry and the animal medical field. She has a passion to share all insights on pet nutrition and health for all of our furry (feathery, scaly or otherwise) friends.

The Importance of Body Condition Scoring

In most cases, our furry family members are typically visiting the vet every 6-12 months. Of course, unless they get sick and need to visit more frequently. During the vet visit our pets will have a physical exam and the vet will determine their body condition score (BCS), but a lot can change in 6 months, and especially in 12 months. This is why it is important for us pet parents to know how to determine their body condition score at home.

Pet obesity is the number one nutritional disorder in pets, and it can be very easily managed and monitored. It is not the only concerning condition that BCS can help identify and monitor, but it is estimated that 59% of dogs and 63% of cats are overweight and may be struggling with the health implications that come with it. It is a big issue that we need to tackle. We all want our furry family members to be healthy, happy, and with us as long as possible. Unfortunately, a high body condition score puts them at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, joint ailments, arthritis, high blood pressure, and surgical/anesthetic complications. BCS can help with better communication with our veterinarians and a better understanding of the risks in order to come up with a treatment plan together.

Typically, owners are focused more on the number on the scale, but measuring body condition can provide more detail on their health. Weight may stay the same while fat percentage increases and lean body mass decreases with age. We can monitor their body condition and health between visits and have the ability to warn our vet team so they can provide any treatment that may be needed. This early intervention may allow for better treatment options and may prevent a disease from occurring or at least worsening.

What is BCS?

We know that people come in all different shapes and sizes and the pet world has an even bigger variety of both, especially with canines. We needed a method that not only can be used accurately for cats and Chihuahuas but also Bulldogs and Great Danes. Despite this variety, we needed a consistent system used by all veterinarians. BCS is the standardized method of predicting a patient’s body fat percentage and assess if they are carrying a healthy amount. To develop and validate the method they used a machine called DEXA, Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. It uses low doses of radiation to assess the body condition, the proportion that is fat, lean tissue (organs, muscles, etc.) and bone. You may be thinking, “well why don’t we use DEXA machines to determine their condition?”. The machines are extremely expensive and are not available to most veterinary practices, which is why they came up with body condition scoring. BCS is not just opinion, it is a scientifically validated system, and is species specific. It relies on several visual cues as well as palpation of various regions of the body allowing the veterinarian to monitor their health, approximate their ideal body weight and make any recommendations they feel is needed in each individual case.

The System

Veterinarians may use one of two scoring systems, 1-5 or 1-9. The standard BCS is based on the 9-point system as it helps to identify the more subtle changes in condition. Now the scores are not just numbers, they represent a category of body condition and an approximate body fat percentage of our furry friends.

How to Assign a Body Condition Score

Assigning a body condition score involves both a visual assessment and physical touch component through palpation. You will want to visually examine your pet while they are standing facing forward. Having a helping hand to keep their attention and stance is a great idea if possible.

First, we will want to view them from above and we want to see that the waistline curves in between the ribcage and the hips in dogs. We may also see the last rib or two in our canines and that is okay. From above our cats, we want to see a slight inward curve at the waist, but not as defined as dogs. The cats are likely overweight if they have no inward curve or have an outward curve visible from above.

Next up, we will want to examine our furry friends shape from the side. In dogs, we want to see a defined abdominal tuck though the degree of tuck will be varied between breeds. A slight abdominal tuck will may still be visible in overweight or obese patients, but it is more likely to see an outward curve with them. Keep in mind, an abdominal tuck in cats may be a sign they are too thin.

Speaking of our purrfect friends, we want to do a visual and tactile assessment of the abdominal fat pad. There should be a minimal layer of fat, any more could be a sign they are overweight. Many cats who were previously overweight will have a pouch of loose skin.

The last visual aspect of body condition scoring are the bones beneath the skin. We will start with the ribcage. In dogs, being able to see the last 1-2 ribs is healthy and we may be able to see more if they are moving around, sniffing or have a short hair coat. If we are able to see the ribs of our beloved kitties, they are too thin. Now moving along to hip bones or pelvis, if they are visible our furry friend is most likely too thin at a score of 3/9 (2/5) or less. This is also the case if the spine is visible. If the pet has lost weight and possibly muscle mass, other bones may be evident without touch as well.

Palpation

A very important component to body condition scoring is touch, called palpation, especially of the ribcage. Fat will typically accumulate over the top 3rd of the ribcage so this is where we will assess. We want to feel for the fat covering by placing our thumbs on their spine and spreading our fingers across their ribcage and working our way from head to tail. If our pet’s ribcage is easily palpable without applying pressure, they are most likely at a score between 3/9 and 5/9 (2/5 to 3/5). With an emaciated pet with a score of 1/5 or 1/9, they will have a ribcage that is not only easy to feel without pressure but also visible. Obese pets with a score of 5/5 or 9/9 would have a thick layer of fat covering the ribcage making it very difficult and, in some cases, impossible to feel the ribcage. Feeling the ribcage is less uncomfortable for our furry friends then feeling their hips and pelvis, and many may think we are just showing them some love with extra pets. For our arthritic friends, we will want to stick to just the ribcage as they may experience pain with any pressure on their back or hips.

Now, what does a healthy fat layer feel like? There is a great trick using just our hands to demonstrate the feeling. Let’s try it out! Our left hand will represent our furry friend’s ribcage, while our right hand is our hand palpating. First, we will hold our left-hand limp and with the right, feel the bones on the back of our left hand. This is what an ideal fat layer feels like. Now, make a fist with our left hand and feel the knuckles with our right hand. This is what very little fat covering feels like, our pet would be too thin. Lastly, let’s flip our hand over, palm facing up, holding it limp. If we feel our left palm with our right hand, we have to push harder to feel the bones. This represents the ribcage of an overweight pet.

What Do We Do Next?

Now that we know the two scoring systems and how to assess their condition both visually and through palpation, we can give our beloved pets a score. If our cats are at 5/9 or 3/5 and our dogs at 4-5/9 and 3/5 they are at a healthy body condition. Congratulations! From here we know we don’t need to make any changes to their exercise routine or their diet and feeding amount. If our assessment is indicating that our pets are above or below a healthy body condition score, there are a few things we can do but first it is best to discuss with your veterinarian. We will want to ensure there is no underlying condition causing the change in weight and condition before we start switching food amounts or changing their daily activity. Having this knowledge does not replace the need for physical exams, consultations, and diagnosis performed by our veterinarians, but helps monitor health and pass along any insights since our last visit. No matter their score, we suggest monitoring both body weight and body condition every 2-4 weeks and adjusting feeding amount as needed, with the guidance of your pet health team.

If after performing our assessment we are concerned about our pet’s condition, here are a few things to keep track of and document to bring to our next appointment or relay to the veterinarian and team.

Early Identification of Conditions

Body condition scoring and monitoring weight helps to identify health issues early to provide the best care and treatment that is needed to get them back to feeling their best! Many health conditions may be the underlying cause of our pet very quicky gaining or losing weight. Below we will go over both conditions that may cause them to lose weight and those that may make them gain weight. The more we know the better chance we will have to catch these conditions early before they have a big effect on our pets’ lives.

Conditions Causing Weight Loss

Conditions Causing Weight Gain

There are many reasons a pet may gain weight, but it is typically more of a gradual progression over time such as when we are simply feeding too many calories or not getting enough exercise. We are going to go over a few conditions that can cause of furry family members to lose a lot of weight and fast.

All of these conditions and diseases can be better diagnosed, treated, and managed with early intervention thanks to pet parents monitoring body condition score at home. If you have any questions about checking your furry friend’s body condition score, feel free to reach out to your local Global Pet Foods to speak with their healthy pet care specialists or your veterinarian’s office.


Written By

Taylor Luther

Marketing Lead, Customer Engagement

Taylor completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph and has built up experience within the pet nutrition industry and the animal medical field. She has a passion to share all insights on pet nutrition and health for all of our furry (feathery, scaly or otherwise) friends.

Dangers of Feeding from the Table

We all love to share with our pets to show love and form that tight bond, at the same time we need to ensure we are not causing any harm with these special treats. It can be so hard to say no to those pleading puppy-dog and kitty eyes, but it may be the best answer for them to live a healthy and happy life with us. It can be confusing to all the different foods that are good or bad for them, so we have broken down three key factors to keep in mind with any type of food or treat and their common health effects. Sharing may not only lead to health problems so we will look into how they can affect behaviour as well. To wrap everything up we will touch on a few of the top toxic treats and safe alternatives for our furry loved ones.

Three Key Factors

Many pet parents may feel the table scraps they are feeding are not toxic to pets, so what is the problem? We need to keep in mind that just because it is not poisonous does not mean it is healthy for them. There are a lot of “safe” human foods that can have many adverse effects on our pets through considerable amounts of sugar, fat and/ or salt. Even feeding small amounts of our meals can go above their daily nutritional requirements, causing them to gain weight leading to poor overall health. Those at an optimal weight are less likely to suffer from joint, bone, and mobility issues. Pets that are overweight are at higher risk of developing many health conditions such as heart disease, breathing issues, and decreased liver function.

Dangers of High Fat Treats

Sharing our breakfast like bacon or letting them have a bite of your cheeseburger are seemingly innocent gifts that may lead to dangerous health conditions and possibly an emergency vet visit. A small piece of cheese for us does not make up that much of a daily fat requirement but for a 20-pound dog it is a lot for their little body. These small bites can lead to a lot of weight gain and overtime you will notice the negative effects on the body. The added burden on our pets’ bodies can be seen as joint pain, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Many human dishes are just too rich and fatty for a beloved pet(s) to properly digest leading to gastrointestinal issues. After a fatty treat you may see vomiting, diarrhea and this habit could lead to severe conditions like pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. It can be life threatening and may be hard to identify as symptoms are similar to many other conditions. Some symptoms they may experience are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, reduced appetite, and hunched posture. When the pancreas is functioning normally it works with the digestive tract by releasing digestive enzymes that only become active once they are present in the small intestine, where most of digestion occurs. If the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes can be released and activated early, leading to the digestion of the pancreas and surrounding tissues. This is extremely painful for dogs and cats as this can significantly damage the pancreas and surrounding organs in the abdomen. Without intervention it can cause internal bleeding and even death. Pancreatitis can come about for a variety of reasons, but the leading cause is a high fat diet. This may be part of their daily meals or if they suddenly consumed a large amount of fatty food in table scraps or through the garbage. The condition requires veterinary treatment and long-term management as flare ups may now occur from even the slightest trigger. Management will include a complete diet change, and possibly a change in feeding frequency and amounts as well as some physical activity and extremely limited treat options. Like many health conditions, pancreatitis is much easier and less costly to prevent than to treat and manage. The pancreas is also responsible for the production of insulin, resulting in diabetic patients being at a higher risk of pancreatitis and those with pancreatitis are more likely to get diabetes as well.

Dangers of Too Much Sugar

Speaking of diabetes, providing a lot of sugar to our pets over an extended period of time can cause numerous health issues. Along with diabetes, your pet may experience gastrointestinal upset, obesity, metabolic changes and in severe cases it can also lead to pancreatitis. Even semi-regular consumption can cause varying weight gain, impacting various organ systems and metabolic processes. Sugar treats are also a top cause of tooth decay and gum disease because the harmful mouth bacteria thrive off sugars. We do not want there to be confusion. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables are safe in moderation. They contain water and fibre that helps slow down the body’s absorption of fruit sugars like fructose preventing the dangerous spike in blood sugar levels. They also benefit from the various micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables. It is best to stay away from all forms of added sugar including products using artificial sweeteners like xylitol found in gum, candy, and some peanut butters. Xylitol is toxic to pets and can cause liver failure and seizures.

Just like humans, it is not completely certain why some pets have developed diabetes. Some pets are genetically prone but there is evidence that being overweight increases the risk of your pet developing diabetes. Excess sugar that is not needed for energy is stored as fat as the pet becomes overweight their cells become increasingly resistant to insulin, resulting in the condition. Symptoms to watch for include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, change in appetite, sweet smelling breath, lethargy, UTIs, and loss of eyesight. There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed. This may include regular insulin shots up to twice a day, regular blood glucose testing, monitoring for changes and symptoms, and changing their diet. It is especially important for these pets to stick to a healthy low sugar diet. They also need lots of water to keep hydrated and flush the sugars sitting in the bladder. Saying no to human scraps, sugary treats, butter, oils, salt, and other seasoning is crucial. It is best to go for single ingredient, dehydrated treats if you want to offer them something special.

Dangers of Too Much Salt

Everyone loves a good, seasoned fry and the salty, crunchy bite of a potato chips including our four-legged friends. A rare treat may not hurt but too much salt can lead to health concerns just like too little salt. Salt helps to replenish their electrolytes, which are essential minerals that are vital to many functions in the body. This is why most pet foods are balanced to meet their daily salt requirements. Pets can exceed this limit by sharing treats like our fast food, seasoned meat, deli meat, and salty snacks leading to many health problems down the road. There are three main health concerns with excessive salt intake. Our first concern is dehydration since the high salt content in the blood stream causes water to rapidly drain from the cells to dilute the salt content in the blood. This severe dehydration will cause confusion, lethargy, and neurological effects due to brain swelling. Our pets can experience muscle cramps and joint pain causing them to lose balance and mobility. The flow of water leads us into our next health concern, high blood pressure. This can be especially hazardous if the pet also suffers from anemia. The influx of water to offset the salt puts a lot of pressure on the walls of the circulatory system. High blood pressure can have damaging effects on many internal organs such as the kidneys, heart, and brain. If the salt levels in the blood are extremely excessive, your pet may experience salt poisoning. This is caused by an extreme sodium imbalance; it is a severe condition and if left untreated can result in death. Treatment is not as straight forward as removing the salty culprit and providing more water. Rehydrating too quickly can actually exacerbate their symptoms and can even result in brain swelling and heart attacks. The signs to watch out for include, diarrhea, vomiting, swollen abdomen, excessive thirst, excessive urination, muscle tremors, incoordination, and seizures. If you suspect your pet may have salt poisoning it is best to seek veterinary assistance.

Effects on Behaviour

Another downside of sharing with our furry family members is the potential effects on their behaviour when food is around. This can start to form bad habits like begging, and we reinforce them by giving them a piece. They may start to think begging and mooching is acceptable and beg for food all the time and from everyone they see with food. Some pet parents are unknowingly reinforcing this unwanted behaviour by providing a piece of food just to get the pet to leave them alone, if only for a brief moment. A little drool in your lap as you eat your food may not be a big issue for you, but you may reconsider if it progresses. With some pets this might encourage them to steal food from young kids or skip the middleman and steal right from the plate. This not only introduces a danger to any children but for the dog as well, as somethings we are eating or might drop are toxic or a hazard to them. It can lead to food aggression with their own and human food making it difficult to remove if it is a danger to them and it can be incredibly challenging to correct this behavior. This can also result in very picky eaters. They may not want their food if they think they can get a slice of your pizza when they hold out long enough. Many of these issues are very frustrating and time consuming to correct and may take months of training and continued commitment to limit the unwanted and potentially dangerous behaviours.

Food Products to Avoid

Many human foods are unfortunately, toxic, or unsafe for our pets to consume and it can be hard to be aware of them all. We encourage pet parents to stop and consider if the treat your about to give is a safe and healthy option before we let them have it. The following table is here to help navigate a few human treats to avoid and the reasoning behind it.

Human Food/TreatHealth Risks
AlmondsNon-toxic but is not safe. Almonds can block the esophagus and tear tissues along the digestive tract with the sharp pieces. If salted, it is a higher concern due to side effects of excessive salt.
BreadNon-toxic but is unhealthy. Bread is remarkably high in sugar, preservatives and does not provide much nutritional value.
Chocolate & CaffeineToxic. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which can not be properly metabolized by our pets. Affects their circulation, heart, and smooth muscle control, and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, irregular heart function and seizures.
CinnamonNon-toxic (oil is toxic) but not safe. It can lower their blood sugar too much and lead to diarrhea, vomiting, irregular heart rate and liver disease. If inhaled it can cause coughing, choking and difficulty breathing.
Cooked BonesNon-toxic but extremely dangerous. Cooked bones are likely to splinter and cause punctures or tears in the digestive tract. It can also cause a blockage within the digestive tract.
Deli MeatNon – toxic but not safe. All lunch meats are extremely high in salt and fat and can lead to obesity along with heart disease, diabetes, and pancreatitis.
Fast Food/Processed FoodsMay be toxic; is not healthy. Can contain toxic ingredients like onions, toxic herbs, and unsafe spices. They also contain excessive amounts of fat, sugar and salt leading to many health conditions.
Grapes/RaisinsToxic as it contains tartaric acid. This acid causes vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, kidney damage and even kidney failure.
Ice CreamNon – toxic but is unhealthy. Ice cream is extremely high in sugar leading to many health issues. Some pets are sensitive to dairy and could lead to vomiting and diarrhea. What is great is that they are so many pet-safe ice creams and alternatives to treat them with instead.
Macadamia NutsVery Toxic. Can induce signs of poison after ingesting only a couple nuts. Watch for signs of fever, vomiting and lethargy.
OnionsAll varieties are toxic, including chives due to disulfides. If our pets ingest a large amount, whether over time or all at once, they can damage their red blood cells, causing anemia.

Safe Alternatives

Not all human foods are bad. There are many healthy food options to treat our beloved pets without the harmful effects. With many things, it is all about moderation. Treats should only make up 10% of their daily diet and the rest should be balanced meals to ensure our pets are getting everything the need to thrive. We will go through a few examples below.

Human Food/TreatHealth Facts
CheeseSafe in moderation. Cheese is high in fat and should be given in small amounts. Some pets may have a sensitivity and experience gastrointestinal upset.
CoconutCoconut and coconut oil is a great option for a treat as it has many health benefits for the skin and coat. It is also good for bad breath.
EggsEggs are safe to eat in moderation. They are high in protein, fatty acids, and many vitamins. If feeding raw should only be given a few times a week as raw egg whites can cause a biotin deficiency. *Eggshells are an excellent source of calcium, and the shell membrane is a great joint supplement.
FishSafe and healthy treat. A fantastic source of omega-3s for skin & coat and to reduce inflammation. Remember to remove all bones that can cause GI tears, except for sardines which have very soft, digestible bones.
FruitsMany fruits and vegetables are safe for pets as long as they are seedless and have pits removed. Many fruits provide fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Berries are fantastic antioxidants.
Meat ProteinSafe in moderation. Offer them the meat they crave with many single protein options of breast, liver, and heart. Be careful in excessive treats as this can disrupt their balanced diet and lead to GI upset.
PeanutsSafe in moderation. An excellent source of protein. They are high in fat and can lead to pancreatitis if given too much too often. Stay away from salted or seasoned peanuts as it can lead to salt poisoning.
Peanut ButterSafe in moderation. Very crucial to read the ingredients and stay away from any containing salt and the toxic artificial sweetener, xylitol. Contains heart healthy fats, vitamins, and niacin.

For more safe treat suggestions please visit your local Global Pet Foods where our healthy pet care specialists are happy to help.


Written By

Taylor Luther

Marketing Lead, Customer Engagement

Taylor completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph and has built up experience within the pet nutrition industry and the animal medical field. She has a passion to share all insights on pet nutrition and health for all of our furry (feathery, scaly or otherwise) friends.

Urinary Tract Health

The Urinary Tract

Before we dive into all the different types of urinary tract diseases and other health concerns, I want to make sure we break down the different components of the urinary tract and understand why it is so important that it stays healthy and able to perform its duties. The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The ureters are tubes that connects the kidneys to the bladder. The urethra is the tube that carries the urine from the bladder to outside the body. The urinary tract can be separated into two parts to better identify a concern or describe a diagnosis. The upper urinary tract includes the kidneys and ureters. The bladder and urethra make up the lower urinary tract. An issue affecting urinary health can occur at any point, but concerns are most commonly seen in the lower urinary tract.

Urinary tracts perform several important tasks and can have big effects on health when not functioning properly. One key role it plays is filtering the blood of waste products from bodily processes such as converting food to energy. It also helps to maintain the correct balance of water and electrolytes and helps process vitamin D. The urinary tract has a role in the production of hormones that maintain healthy blood pressure, blood cell production and ensures our bodies are absorbing salt correctly.

Common Urinary Tract Issues & Symptoms

We are going to go through the common urinary issues and a few that are not too frequently seen but can be quite serious. One of the most common urinary issues, also well known for humans, is the UTI. It stands for urinary tract infection, but it is used to describe infection of the lower region of the urinary tract, the bladder and urethra.

Another term you may frequently hear if your pet suffers with a urinary issue, is Lower Urinary Tract Disease. This is a general term to describe multiple health problems of both the bladder and urethra. This could include infection, sterile cystitis (inflammation without infection), and the presence or signs of crystal formation.

Specifically for cats, the term FLUTD is used, meaning Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. It is not a specific condition but a general term to cover a variety of lower urinary tract issues like infections, crystal & stones, and FIC (feline idiopathic cystitis/inflammation). FIC is a very common condition where there is inflammation of the bladder from an unknown cause. This can lead into secondary infections, but the infection is not what causes FIC.

A urinary issue that can go unnoticed for quite some time is bladder stones, though these can be very serious when left untreated. This is when crystals have formed into stones in the bladder. These stones can build up and are more likely to block the opening from the bladder to the urethra. Some stones may even travel down the urethra and get stuck at a narrower opening, completely blocking the flow of urine. This results in the bladder filling up which causes a lot of pain and discomfort for our pets. This is called an obstruction and is an emergency situation as urine cannot exit the body. Since the urine has no where to go it can back up to the kidneys, causing permanent damage or it can rupture the bladder and release toxins into the abdomen, causing the patient to become septic. This helps explain why prevention is so crucial; it can go from completely unnoticed to an emergency situation within a day or two that could possibly result in death. We will get to treatment and prevention information, but identifying the type of stones comes first. The two most common minerals that make up the stones are calcium oxalate and struvite. Now slightly less common but still a concern is ammonium urate crystals and stones.

Sadly, some urinary issues can be explained by bladder cancer, though this is not nearly as common as the above lower urinary tract issues. The most common type is transitional cell carcinoma. It typically develops in the trigone area of the bladder which is where the urine exits into the urethra, and it is very painful. Its placement is what causes the similar symptoms to UTIs and lower urinary tract disease.

The last lower urinary tract issue we will discuss is urinary incontinence. It is most often seen in females, but it can also occur in males as well. It is the leaking or spotting of urine, in large or small volumes and our beloved pets are unaware it is happening. It is the loss of control that can happen while they are asleep/relaxed and may also dribble while standing or walking.

It is very hard to diagnose specifically between these issues just based on symptoms as they share many of the same, apart from incontinence signs. This includes frequent urination, small urine volume, blood in urine, straining to urinate, fever, and urinating in inappropriate places. You may see your pet frequently licking their genital area, hiding, or you may notice subtle, unusual behavioural changes. It is very important to take your pet in to be seen to ensure the correct treatment plan is administered for this specific concern.

Upper Urinary Tract Disease such as infections are much less common but can be very serious and painful for our beloved pets. This is the infection of the kidney or ureters. Kidney issues are not as common and not as high up on the list of concerns for urinary health, but it is still important knowledge to know. This includes issues like kidney failure, kidney infections and kidney stones. If they are experiencing a kidney issue it may be confused with a Lower Urinary Tract Disease because they show the same initial signs. Those experiencing kidney issues, such as kidney failure, may also experience decreased appetite, urinating in large volumes, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea.

Causes & Predispositions

For many pet owners, the big question is “why did this happen?” Some pet parents will have cats and/or dogs with no history of urinary issues and then they have one pet that experiences reoccurring urinary issues with no obvious explanation. There are many factors that can affect our beloved pets’ urinary tract health, and it may be more than one depending on their circumstances. Age, breed, activity level, stress, diet, drinking habits, injury and underlying conditions can all play a role in the development of urinary tract issues.

Urinary Tract Disease/ConcernPotential CausesThose at Increased Risk
Lower Urinary Tract Disease & Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseaseo Genetics
o Cystitis (inflammation)
o Diet
o Dehydration
o Imbalance of bacteria
o Poor hygiene
o Stress (FIC)
o Sometimes unknown
o Age – our older pets have a decreased immune system performance and/or grooming issues due to mobility.
·  More likely for bacterial imbalance or inflammation to occur.
o Those suffering from underlying conditions such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and immunocompromising disease
o Those with diabetes mellitus
·  Increased glucose in the urine making the perfect environment for bad bacteria to thrive.
o Poor body condition
·  Are not able to groom themselves thoroughly and may result in bacterial imbalance
UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections)o Abundance of bad bacteria
· From outside the body to urethra and bladder
· Most commonly E. coli
o Can occur secondary to another underlying urinary problem (crystals, stones, or cancers)
o Genetics
o Diet
o Dehydration
o Cystitis (inflammation)
o Poor Hygiene
o Stress 
o Females
· More likely to experience UTIs as the vulva and anus are so close in proximity.
o Pets experiencing gastrointestinal issues.
· More likely to experience diarrhea or loose stools, leading to increased chance of bacteria entering the urethra.
o Age – our older pets have a decreased immune system performance and/or grooming issues due to mobility.
· More likely for bacterial imbalance or inflammation to occur.
o Those suffering from bladder stones/crystals
· Irritation of the bladder and urethral lining can lead to UTIs.
o Those suffering from underlying conditions such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and immunocompromising disease
o Those with diabetes mellitus
· Increased glucose in the urine making the perfect environment for bad bacteria to thrive.
o Poor body condition
· Are not able to groom themselves thoroughly and may result in bacterial imbalance.  
Urinary Incontinenceo Weak Sphincter muscle control (at the bladder exit to urethra) due to:
· Genetics
· Injury
· Cystitis (inflammation)
· Stress
· Cancer
· Hormone imbalance
· Sometimes unknown
o Age – Our older pets have decreased sphincter control.
o High anxiety pets
o Females – more likely to have/develop weak sphincter muscle control.
o Urinary Tract Issue History
· Damage from past urinary tract diseases/concerns
o Urine retention
· Holding urine from stress or fear
Calcium Oxalate Crystals/Stoneso Genetics
o Cystitis (inflammation)
o Diet
o Dehydration
o Imbalance of bacteria
o Poor hygiene
o Stress
o Sometimes unknown
o Age
· Our older pets have a decreased immune system performance.
· Increased levels of calcium in the blood and urine
o Those suffering from underlying conditions such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and immunocompromising disease
o Those with diabetes mellitus
· Increased glucose in the urine
o Urinary Tract Issue History
· Damage from past urinary tract diseases/concerns
o Miniature Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apsos, Yorkshire Terriers, and Shih Tzus are genetically predisposed.
Struvite Crystals/Stoneso Genetics
o Cystitis (inflammation)
o Diet
o Dehydration
o Imbalance of bacteria
o Poor hygiene
o Stress
o Sometimes unknown
o Age
· Our older pets have a decreased immune system performance.
· Increased risk of infection leads to struvite formation.
o Is the most common stone found in younger pets as well due to hygiene and immune performance.
o Those suffering from underlying conditions such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and immunocompromising disease
o Those with diabetes mellitus
· Increased glucose in the urine
o Urinary Tract Issue History
· Struvite formation is commonly due to a UTI, bacteria produce urease (increases mineral concentration)
· Damage from past urinary tract diseases/concerns
o Miniature Poodles, Pekingese and Dachshunds are genetically predisposed.  
Ammonium Urate Crystals/Stoneso Genetics
o Cystitis (inflammation)
o Diet
o Dehydration
o Imbalance of bacteria
o Poor hygiene
o Stress
o Sometimes unknown
o Age
· Our older pets have a decreased immune system performance.
o Those suffering from underlying conditions such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and immunocompromising disease
o Those with diabetes mellitus
· Increased glucose in the urine
o Urinary Tract Issue History
· Damage from past urinary tract diseases/concerns
o Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Pugs, and Miniature Schnauzers are more likely to have a congenital liver condition that increases ammonia in the blood, leading them to be more likely to experience ammonium urate stones.
o They may also be more predisposed if they have inherited a defect in uric acid metabolism, seen in English Bulldogs and Dalmatians.  
Obstructiono Build up of crystals and/or stones blocking the flow of urineo Those with a history of bladder stones and UTIs
o Male cats
· Urethra is long and narrower than females

How Do We Diagnose & Treat

As many of the symptoms and potential causes overlap across different urinary tract diseases and concerns, diagnostic testing is key to pinpoint the problem and offer the most effective treatment. The minimum diagnostics performed for urinary issues is a physical exam and urinalysis. A basic urinalysis checks for specific gravity (ability to concentrate urine), pH levels, presence of bacteria, blood, protein, inflammatory cells, crystals, glucose, and other indicators or urinary tract health and abnormalities.

Your veterinarian may also suggest further testing such as bloodwork, x-rays, or ultrasound to get a better idea of any underlying conditions or structural abnormalities that may be contributing to urinary tract symptoms and concerns. For UTI suspicions they may also recommend a urine culture and sensitivity. This helps to guide antibiotic usage to ensure the treatment is effective and decrease the chance of developing antibiotic resistance.

While waiting for diagnostic results, they may prescribe a pain medication and/or anti-inflammatory, as these conditions can be very painful and stressful for our pets. These help to provide relief and decrease the inflammation of the bladder to aid in healing and discomfort during urination. If your pet is prescribed antibiotics, it is crucial to give the entire course! Do not stop the medication because your fluffy friend is feeling better and back to their normal selves. The infection can return very easily if not taken care of properly and can lead to antibiotic resistance and tougher treatment route down the road.

Treatment for urinary incontinence may be a combination of a few medications as well. The treatment plan can consist of medications for sphincter tone, hormone replacements, and anti-anxiety medications. For severe cases, surgical intervention is sometimes a suitable option too.

If your pet is experiencing or suspected of experiencing an obstruction, confirming with an exam and possibly x-ray will be the first priority before jumping right into treatment. Obstructions will require sedation, flushing, and placement of a catheter to relieve the blockage and pressure on the bladder. This is followed by a few days of hospitalization as the stones shifting and blocking the flow again is possible. This is then followed by treatment to dissolve the stones. If the stones are too large to dissolve, surgical intervention to physically remove the bladder stones may be required.

Many of the urinary tract diseases will include a recheck exam or repeat urinalysis within the treatment plan. This may seem like your veterinarian is over doing it, but it is to ensure any infection, inflammation or signs of stones are truly gone or to ensure there are no negative/unexpected side effects occurring. Severe UTIs may require a longer course of medication. If the symptoms are not improving, your veterinarian may request an additional urinalysis or further testing to ensure there is no underlying condition that is causing the persistent infections. We do not want to leave any underlying condition untreated as the pet is bound to suffer from another secondary health condition.

Prevention

Now you may be saying, “We have identified and treated the problem, but how do we stop it from happening again?” Now prevention is not guaranteed, as some causes are not fully understood, and some pets are prone due to their breed & genetics. About 50% of pets with bladder stones experience a reoccurrence within 2 years. With this said, many researchers have found preventative methods that can be used in combination to decrease the likelihood of a persistent urinary issue or developing a urinary issue to begin with. There are a few areas that we can implement changes to help boost urinary tract health. This includes their diet, hydration, grooming practices, bathroom practices, stress management, and supplements/medications.

Preventative MethodDetails
Dieto High moisture content
o High in protein, low in carbohydrates
· Quality ingredients help limit inflammation.
· High carbohydrate diet is linked with stone formation.
o Helps to prevent the formation of stones and flush out the crystals.
o Foods low in phosphorus  
Hydrationo Adequate water intake dilutes the minerals, toxins and irritants building up in the bladder.
· Flush crystals before they can form.
o Constant access to fresh, clean water
o Entice them with running water or flavour with bone broth.
o Cat water is a great option to help maintain the correct pH balance of the urinary tract.
· Minimizing stone formation and bacterial imbalance.
Grooming & Body Conditiono Maintaining a healthy weight helps to ensure proper grooming practices and a healthy skin & coat.
o Mats keep bacteria from urine and feces close to the urethral opening and leads to increased infections and possibly stone formation.
o Regular brushing and/or bathing can help reduce matting and debris accumulation.
o Pets who are overweight or suffer from arthritis are more likely to need assistance with grooming as they cannot reach the crucial areas.
Bathroomo Dogs may benefit from more frequent bathroom breaks.
o Provide an area to do their business that is a quiet and low traffic area.
o Cleaning litter boxes more frequently
· Helps to monitor any changes and catch the problem early.
o Have an adequate number of boxes/cats.  
Stress Managemento Stress can occur from anxiety over a recent change or addition in the house, boredom, or the inability to perform their natural tasks.
o Work on anxiety coping training methods or medications.
o Ensure cats have high places to relax in.
o Toys, scratching posts, safe space and playtime can help limit their stress levels.
o Feliway, Adaptil pheromone sprays and other calming products can help minimize stress when unavoidable circumstances occur
Supplements & Medicationso Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe calming medications to help ease their stress & anxiety levels.
o They may also be able to provide medication to keep the urethra more open to allow for better urine flow.
o Supplement antioxidants into their diet to support their natural defenses.
· They protect against free-radicals that damage the tissues and can cause chronic urinary issues.
· Free-radicals are produced as a product of inflammation, which occurs from irritants in the bladder.
· Cranberries, blueberries, kale
o Supplement anti-inflammatories into their diet to slow the effects of aging and boost the immune system.
· Reduces pain & discomfort caused by inflammation of the urinary tract.
· It blocks the production of prostaglandins which causes inflammation.
· Turmeric, omega 3s, spirulina

Prevention may seem like extra research, work, and cost, but it helps to avoid the pain & discomfort our pets will experience, making it all worth while. Not to mention it helps to avoid those big vet bills.

If you have any further questions on urinary health and what you can do to boost their health, please see our Healthy Pet Care Specialists that are happy to discuss tips and tricks to maintain a healthy urinary tract.

Why do our Pets Bring Joy?

With over 160 Global Pet Foods stores across Canada, we see firsthand as to just how much joy pets bring to our customers (and to us!).

 

From the way that people pick out the “right” bed for their dog, a new toy for the cat, or ask the common question of our Healthy Pet Care Specialists, “Is this the best food for my pet?”, we know that our customers want the best for their pets.  And we are more than happy to help because we want the best for your pets too.

 

We love to see the joy your pets bring you.  It’s one of the key reasons why we love what we do.

The bond between people and their pets is really unlike no other bond.  Yes, children bring their parents and extended family joy too.  But children grow up and, in most cases, lead independent lives, whereas our pets depend on us for their entire lifetime.  We are their sole providers and caregivers.

 

There’s no question of the tremendous pain that people go through when their pets are ill or have passed over the “Rainbow Bridge”.  It is the same pain akin to losing a spouse or a child.  For most people, they cannot imagine their lives without their pets.  Our pets bring joy to our lives.

But how? And why?

Our pets do not discriminate.  Our gender, race, appearance, wealth (or lack thereof), where we live, what we do, or how we dress means absolutely nothing to our pets.  They just love us – plain and simple – unconditionally.  Unconditional love is very difficult to find in humans.

 

Our pets are forgiving.  There is rarely a conflict among packs of animals.  They solve their problems and move on.  They don’t hold grudges or worry about what happened yesterday.  Yes, dogs and cats may have excellent memories, but veterinarian and animal behaviourist,

Alexandra Horowtiz states that the cerebral cortex in a dog’s brain, the part responsible for higher-order though functions and language, is not sufficiently developed to support human-like conceptual thinking.  The same anatomical feature which makes our dogs incapable of feeling guilt also allows them to forgive easily because they don’t have the framework of language to help them structure and retrieve memories in any detail.

 

Our pets teach us to live for today.  As humans, we wish for things that we don’t have, or spend time regretting what we have done or not done.  We spend a lot of time worrying, don’t we?  Our pets?  They live for today!  Every day is a new day and they simply live it and they love living it with us, whether it’s curled up beside us or sitting on our laps, or going for a walk.  What a great world it would be if we lived like our pets!

There isn’t a better feeling than when we come home and our pets are so excited to see us.  Our pets greet us every day as if we have been away for days or years.  It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?

 

Watching our fish tank at night relaxes us.  Petting our ferret, rabbit, hamster, lizard, puppy or dog, kitten or cat, calms us.

Our pets love us unconditionally.  And that brings us joy.

All you Need is Love…and a Cat!

While many cats are “house” cats, they still require some special attention during the summer months in order to keep them healthy, safe and content. Visit your Global Pet Foods store for product recommendations and more tips.

 

Water, water, everywhere!

Your cat needs to drink lots of water when the temperature heats up. Please ensure that there’s always fresh water available in several different shaded spots throughout your home, and on your porch or in the backyard if your cat spends time outdoors.

 

If your home is not air-conditioned, and you’re away during the day, freeze a plastic dish of water overnight, and put it out in the morning, in addition to the regular water dish.  This way, your cat will have a continual source of cool water throughout the day. A water fountain with an add-on reservoir is a great alternative to a water bowl and it does a better job of providing your cat with a constant source of fresh water.

 

It’s extremely important to keep senior cats hydrated as they tend to have compromised kidney and thyroid functions. Since they tend to nap a lot, this means they’re not eating or drinking as often as they should. Ensure that you or someone in your household encourages them to drink and eat a few times through the day.

 

On really hot days, wipe your cat down with a cool washcloth or towel, especially if your home is not air-conditioned.

 

Cool place to rest:

Make sure that your cat has access to areas with tile floors or rooms that don’t get much sun. Cats will naturally gravitate to the most comfortable sleeping area that they can find and a bed that’s comfortably cool can really hit the spot. Make a “cooling” bed by placing a packet of frozen peas under a blanket or your cat’s bed cover.  Your cat will enjoy this cool spot.

 

Grooming:

Shedding is considered a sign of health in cats, and your cat will shed to remove dead hair from her body.  Since dead hair can cause skin irritation, it needs to be removed.  It’s also important to ensure that your cat’s fur does not mat since matted fur traps in heat, which can cause her great discomfort in the summer.  Grooming your cat daily will help to prevent fur from becoming matted and also allows air to flow freely through it, keeping her cool in the summer months. This is very important for long-haired cats.  Regular grooming of your cat is also key to the prevention of hairballs. Signs of a major hairball problem and possible impaction are: retching, inability to poop, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or a swollen abdomen.

See your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat is impacted.

Playtime and exercise:

Cats need daily play and exercise. If your home is not air-conditioned, their exercise time should take place during the cooler hours of the day, early morning and evening. This is especially important for young kittens and seniors, both of whom are very vulnerable to heatstroke.  Please be sure to give your cats time to digest their food before you engage them in exercise.

 

Avoid heatstroke:

Keep tabs on your cats during the hot weather and monitor them for signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke is life-threatening, and learning proper first aid can save your cat’s life.  The symptoms of heatstroke in cats can include:

 

If you suspect that your cat is a victim of heatstroke, take her temperature. It should be between 100.5 and 101.5 F. A temperature above 104 is a definite warning sign of hyperthermia.  If you believe that your cat is suffering from heat stroke, you must quickly take steps to cool her down. Move her to a cool area immediately and try to lower the temperature by wetting towels with cool or lukewarm water, and wipe her down.  Then increase air movement around her with a fan (low setting). You need to take your cat to a veterinarian right away.

 

NOTE: Using very cold water can actually be counterproductive. Cooling your cat too quickly, which may result in lowering his body temperature too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions. Allow your cat free access to cool water but don`t force feed your cat, as they may inhale it and choke.  Snub-nosed breeds (like Persians and Himalayans) are especially vulnerable to heat stroke.

Natural Probiotics to the Rescue

Recently, many pet foods manufacturers are promoting the probiotics in their pet food, which is more commonly found in dog food. While we certainly support the use of probiotics in pet food, we recommend that you give your pet a probiotic supplement instead. Probiotics are sensitive to moisture and heat so if they’re added to pet food (especially kibble) they will have little effect by the time they make it into your pet’s digestive tract.  The bacteria in a probiotic must be live and be able to reproduce in order to provide your pet with any health benefit.

 

Probiotics can be used for the following:

First of all, what are probiotics, anyway? Everyone knows they help optimize our gut flora (the bacteria occurring naturally in the intestine), but really, what are these things? Where do they come from?

 

Probiotics are living microbes which have a beneficial effect on the host animal by contributing to its intestinal microbial balance. Acidophilus and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics, but there are over 30,000 species of microbes that interact to maintain a healthy intestinal environment! Probiotics tip the balance in the gut toward friendly bacteria and away from pathogenic bacteria which can cause gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, skin and coat problems and other illness. They’re great for helping dogs and cats recover from most digestive disturbances, both chronic and acute.

 

Although there are lots of commercial products on the market in pill and liquid form for high retail prices, probiotics are naturally found in foods such as fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, and kimchee) and sprouted seeds, for example. These are proven to be, by far, much more effective than the lab-made strains available in bottles.

 

Why? Because science cannot imitate the naturally complex relationships of all of the species of microbes that interact in the gut to maintain a healthy intestinal environment. Neither has science yet discovered all the ways the body interacts with each of these species to produce the beneficial effect. But most importantly, recent research shows that if the probiotic microorganisms are allowed to establish their own symbiotic environment prior to being ingested by the host body, they are ‘hardier’, more able to re-establish their dominance, more able to withstand the heat and acid environment of the gut.

 

And finally, commercial probiotics are created by isolating individual strains of microorganisms which are then artificially stimulated to reproduce in a laboratory. In the final product, the selected probiotics have been separated from their intrinsic supporting microbes that were present in the original natural state. These supporting microbes are critical to the survival of the selected strain, so the absorption and use of the finished probiotic by the body will be greatly and significantly reduced.

 

This means that when a native probiotic found in food is ingested while still in its natural host environment it remains supported by the full range of original microorganisms that allow it to function. It will stay healthy, viable and be much more bio-available for absorption within the animal’s intestine. Now that’s something to toot about!

Keeping your cat Safe & Healthy

Sharing your life with a cat is a rewarding and enriching experience. Cats have so much to offer including love and companionship. Some people view cats as being aloof and not needing a lot of attention.  But just like dogs, there is great responsibility in caring for a cat’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Cats will get sick from time to time, but there are ways to reduce the chances of this happening.

Below are some suggestions.

Other common dangers include: poisons, hot stoves, toilets, washing machines and tumble dryers, string, ribbon, electrical cords and more.  You should know where your cats are at all times if they are at risk to be injured.

Keep Your Cat Healthy

Cats are fascinating animals. They are fun, loving and intuitive, but they can also be temperamental and unpredictable.

 

A bored cat may become destructive and aggressive, and result in excessive grooming or inappropriate litter box use, ie. urinate in other areas of your home.

 

Caring for a cat is a big responsibility as it’s difficult to keep them healthy in the same manner as dogs, who head outside for walks every day.  Many pet parents keep their cats indoors for safety reasons (it helps to reduce death, injury and disease), which can pose other health risks for them if they’re not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation.

 

Cats need more than just the basic – food, water, litter pan.  While your cat may do a great deal of sleeping it`s critical that you provide regular mental stimulation and exercise, which will enhance their living environment and help them live a happy and healthy life.

 

The onus is on you, and/or other members of your family, to help indoor cats keep their minds alert and sharp.  Failure to do so may cause your cat physical and emotional stress which in turn can lead to physical health issues.

 

Keep your cat active by creating a stimulating environment with these tips below:

 

And finally, the greatest stimulation that you can provide your cat is simply spending time with them each and every day.  This special time will improve your cat’s quality of life.  Research shows that spending 30 minutes of quality time with a cat can calm your nerves and boost your mood. Time spent with a cat can increase your body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that boosts feelings of well-being, and decrease your cortisol levels.  Like high pressure, cortisol is caused by stress which may lead to high cholesterol and hypertension. Not only will the quality time spent with your cat keep you healthier, but your cat will  benefit greatly from the time spent with you too!

Dogs VS Cats

  1. Dogs can be trained quickly, some in a matter of minutes, to obey basic commands like ‘come’ and ‘sit.’
    Most cats are difficult if not impossible to train to respond to directives.
  2. Most dogs take considerably longer to housebreak, and some just never get all the way there. Unlike with Fluffy, housebreaking a pup is usually a hands-on, time intensive project.
    Cats can be house-trained in an instant as long as they have access to a litter box. There’s really no training to it, in fact. It’s instinct.
  3. Dogs are social beings. They want to be with their pack, wherever their pack may be.
    Cats are solitary by comparison and their primary attachment (when forced to choose) is to their territory rather than other two or four-legged animals.
  4. Dogs have 42 teeth. Cats have 30.
  5. Cats can jump and climb, giving them more options when they need to hunt for food, or when they feel threatened.
    Dogs are  earthbound, so they need their pack to hunt effectively.  And when a threat triggers their fight-or-flight response, they are more likely to react with aggression because their ability to flee from a predator is limited.
  6. Dogs are scavenging carnivores, which means although they are primarily meat-eaters, if necessary they can survive on plant material alone (remember, surviving is different than thriving).
    Cats are obligate or strict carnivores. Cats cannot sustain life without eating meat in some form.

  7. Dogs in the wild catch their prey by running it down. They are long distance runners, not sprinters.
    Cats creep up on their prey and catch it by surprise. They are sprinters, not distance runners.

  8. Cats cannot be fasted and should not be dieted down too quickly. Cats don’t efficiently burn fat reserves as an energy source. Instead, without food, their bodies break down non-fatty tissues for energy. This can lead to a life-threatening liver condition called hepatic lipidosis.
    Dogs are much better at using their fat reserves and can tolerate a lack of food for much longer than cats.
  1. Cats have retractable claws that stay sharp because they are protected inside the toes.
    Dogs claws are always extended and become blunt from constant contact with the ground when they walk.

 

  1. Cats can remember up to 16 hours.
    A dog’s memory is only about five minutes long.