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New Report Links Heart Disease in Dogs to Diet Containing Potatoes

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Dog owners – we wanted to bring your attention to recent headlines making the news about certain types of dry dog food potentially causing heart disease in canines. Here’s what we know so far…

Last week, the FDA issued the following warning:

“We are concerned about reports of canine heart disease, known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), in dogs that ate certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legumes or potatoes as their main ingredients. These reports are highly unusual as they are occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease,” said Martine Hartogensis, D.V.M., deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance. “The FDA is investigating the potential link between DCM and these foods. We encourage pet owners and veterinarians to report DCM cases in dogs who are not predisposed to the disease.”

The FDA is in contact with pet food manufacturing companies as well as veterinarians about this possible link, and they are encouraging dog owners and vets to report cases in dogs who are not predisposed to the disease. So far, cases have come forward in larger breeds such as Labrador retrievers, Shih Tzus, and Bulldogs. Breeds that are typically at risk for DCM include Cavelier King Charles Spaniels, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Saint Bernards.

We will keep everyone posted as we learn more about this investigation.

To read more, click here: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/FDAInBrief/ucm613355.htm

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Pampered Pet’s Complete Guide to a Safe Summer with Pets

Happy Summer, from the team at Pampered Pets! Now that it’s in full swing, we wanted to offer a comprehensive guide to keeping your pets safe during all the warm weather festivities. Here’s how to ensure a safe environment for your furry friends…

1) If you are having a big party or BBQ:

Be mindful of where the food and trash is at all times. Both cats and dogs will be tempted to get into the garbage if you let them, and there are many hazardous objects (hello, chicken bones) that, if, ingested, could result in a trip to the ER. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of managing a party while keeping an eye on your pet, consider hiring a trusty pet sitter to take your four-legged friend out of the house or apartment and away from all the activity, especially if your pet doesn’t do well with crowds or people in the home. Another option? Book a long walk with one of our top of line dog walkers so your pup is tired during the party. Have a cat? Plan to set aside some one-on-one play time before guests arrive.

More Resources from Pampered Pets:

2) Car Safety

As a pet owner, you hear it every summer: do not leave your pets in the car. We know you know this already (right?), but it’s always worth reiterating – it’s not worth the risk, and never is. Done and done!

3) Fireworks/Thunderstorms

Even if you plan on staying indoors with the pets during the hottest months of the year, chances are high that you will hear fireworks in the distance, or a summer storm will pass overhead. Dogs and cats that react to thunderstorms will most likely have a similar reaction to the sound of fireworks, and both events can cause anxious pets to become destructive. Make sure that all doors and windows are securely closed so that your pet doesn’t try to escape out of fear, and inform everyone in the house to be mindful of opening and closing the front door. For cats that become anxious or scared during thunderstorms, we recommend remaining calm (as felines look to us and our body language to assess stressful situations), providing cozy and safe hideaways, and plugging in a pheromone spray. Visit the vet if you think your pet has a particularly hard time (for example, if he or she continues to shake and hide even hours after the storm or fireworks are over).

More Resources from Pampered Pets:

4) Walks and Outdoor Time

Walking dogs in the hot summer heat can be unenjoyable for you AND your pup. When possible, avoid asphalt that has been baking the sun, and always bring along some water. Stay in the shade as much as possible, and keep walks short on the hottest days. Most importantly, pay attention to your dog’s cues, and familiarize yourself with the symptoms of overheating in pets (see below).

More Resources from Pampered Pets:

Lastly, always keep plenty of cool water available for all furry friends during the summer, and keep them on heartworm medication!

What would you add? We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe summer!

Canine Influenza Outbreak in New York City

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Dog owners in the Tri-state area – we wanted to alert you to a recent outbreak of canine influenza in New York City. There have been a few cases in both Brooklyn and Manhattan, and we suspect there will be more. Luckily, there are several preventive measures we can take to keep our pups healthy this summer. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Get your dog vaccinated. Even if your four legged friend doesn’t attend doggy day care or frequent the dog park, it’s a good idea to take him or her to the vet for the vaccination, especially since the flu is highly contagious among canines, and can spread easily among both dogs and humans (we can’t catch canine influenza, but we can carry the strain on our clothes or hands if we touch a dog infected with the flu).
  2. Keep a watchful eye out for early symptoms. Any coughing, sneezing, clearing throat, fatigue or loss of appetite warrants an immediate trip to the vet. If you suspect that your pooch is infected, make sure to notify your dog walker, or anyone else who is in regular contact with your furry friend.
  3. Lastly, if you’re a dog walker or dog owner involved in dog shows, competitions and other such activities, make sure to practice good infection control by washing your hands frequently, keeping a clean environment, and staying up to date on the most recent outbreaks.

As always, we hope everyone’s pets are safe and healthy this summer!

For additional information:

What to know about the flu: http://pamperedpetsinc.com/qa-what-to-know-about-dog-flu/

AVMA’s Canine Influenza FAQ’s: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Control-of-Canine-Influenza-in-Dogs.aspx

 

 

The Importance of Asking About Behavior at Every Vet Visit

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We often think of the vet as a place to take our furry members of the family for check ups, upset stomachs, and vaccinations. But your veterinarian is a great resource to have throughout your furry pal’s life. Aside from ensuring that your four-legged friend is in good health, your veterinarian is a trained specialist in pet welfare, and he or she is knowledgeable not just in physical health when it comes to your pet, but behavioral as well.

Case in point: when my dog, Juniper, was a few years old, she was very shy around guests and struggled with fear-based aggression when men entered my house. I did research and even worked with a trainer, but the best advice I received was actually from my veterinarian, who told me to plan a dinner party in which I skipped Juniper’s dinner (so she was extra hungry) and then gave a piece of hot dog to every man who entered the house. I then told them, per the vet’s instructions, to give the piece of hot dog to Juniper without making eye contact whenever she approached them. While this seemed like a relatively simple suggestion, it was a huge success and something I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of on my own. Not only did it drastically change Juniper’s behavior (she now assumes men who come into the house are going to give her a delicious treat) From then on, I went to my veterinarian for behavioral tips, and I’ve never been let down.

To start the conversation with your veterinarian, you can begin by asking what he or she feels most knowledgeable about when it comes to behavior. They may say they have a strong grasp on behavior in general for both dogs and cats; they may say they specialize in some areas in particular such as aggression or housebreaking, or they may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist, depending on what issues you’d like to address. Either way, we like to think of the vet as resource to take advantage of throughout our furry pal’s life, through the good and bad!

Living With a Senior Pet

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Like humans, pets experience aging in many different ways. If you have a dog or cat nearing his wiser years, a routine that once suited your furry pal can become harder to follow as your pet adjusts to a more senior lifestyle. While the transition can take time and patience, there are a few ways to make this time special for both you and your four-legged friend…

In their later years, both dogs and cats can experience age-related cognitive decline, and keeping your pet engaged, whether it’s gentle physical activity or environmental stimulation, can be the perfect way to enrich his life. For example, if your cat has always loved a certain perch by the window, making it more accessible with a small stepping ladder or a few boxes will be easier on your furry friend’s joints. Similarly, if your dog has always been a big fan of fetch, he might enjoy laying on a mat and having the ball rolled towards him. Another fun way of engaging your pet? Teach him a new trick. Whether it’s training your cat to walk through a low hoop or teaching your dog to (finally) shake hands, giving daily attention and engaging your furry pal will not only strengthen your bond but engage their brain in a fun way.

In terms of exercise, a slow on-leash walk with your canine can be a great source of stimulation, and for non-mobile dogs, a walk in a carrier (or a ride with the windows down!) can be just as beneficial. For cats, stash away the laser and try puzzles and other games that require less leaping and more inquisitive exploring (like treats in an empty water bottle).

Lastly, being observant and watching for signs of discomfort or disorientation will ensure that your furry member of the family stays happy and pain-free. As always, we recommend taking your pet for frequent veterinary visits as signs of aging can often be subtle.

To read more about this topic, click here.

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Part 2: 6 Tips for Dealing with Very Picky Cats

In our last article, we talked about why our furry felines can be the pickiest of eaters. Today, we’re going to offer a few tips on how to get even the most finicky cats to eat their meals.

To begin, take a step back and look at your cat’s daily routine when it comes to mealtime. Does he have a place to eat where he feels safe and away from busy activity of the house? Something else to consider: if your kitty is being particularly picky and it seems like a sudden change in behavior, something may be disrupting his natural feeding behaviors. Changes in their environment can spook Shadow enough that he may enter a food strike, and it could be as subtle as a new and foreign smell. If, however, you have a feeling it has more to do with his refined taste buds and disinterest in his kibble, we have a few suggestions:

-Add a little tuna water to his food, which is high in protein and appeals to most (if not all) felines.

-Cats are grazers, eating many small meals throughout the day, so cat owners often leave food in their bowls so they can nibble as they please. The problem? Having food readily available may not offer your four-legged friend the mental stimulation needed to trigger appetite – there’s no hunt. Consider offering food only during meal times, as pickiness could be as simple as your cat not working up a big enough appetite in between meals.

-Try slightly warming your cat’s wet food, which brings out the aromas and may trigger hunger (similar to how the smells of a simmering meat sauce trigger feelings of hunger in us humans!). Just make sure it is warm and not hot!

-If you have more than one cat, consider feeding them together (with separate bowls, if necessary) as cats are social eating and feel comfortable eating together. Plus, having company during dinner can encourage a picky cat to eat, especially if he sees his fellow feline chowing down.

-Take out a toy before meals. A stimulating play session is a great way to get your four-legged friend out from under the couch and working up an appetite before dinner.

-Lastly, this trick seems to get a stamp of approval from many pet blogs online: sprinkle a little parmesan (the stuff from the green can is fine) on top of the food.

As always, if your cat has shown a decrease in appetite, we recommend a trip to your veterinarian. Do you have an exceptionally finicky cat? Please feel free to chime in with any tips of your own!

Part 1: Why Are Cats Picky Eaters?

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It’s not just little kids that can be picky eaters – if you have a cat, chances are high that he or she has turned his nose up to his dinner at some point in time. The reason? It’s probably a mix of behavioral as well as evolutionary. In the wild, cats hunt and eat frequently – up to 12 times a day, so they have the privilege of not scarfing down their meals to sustain them for the week. In fact, even in the wild, cats are known to “play” with their food, suggesting that they may even find enjoyment from their meals and less pressure to finish quickly as they are not sharing it with other felines.

While cat’s noses are not as powerful as dogs, aroma still plays an important role in what smells tasty and appetizing to them. Cold food, for example, might be less appealing to a furry feline because it doesn’t smell as strong. It’s also worth considering the way cats eat and how they use their teeth to rip and tear (for example, when eating a mouse). Moist food that offers opportunity to shred may be easier for a cat than dry food, which is often swallowed whole.

We know that cats are hypercarnivores, preferring foods high in protein and even detecting high protein levels in what they eat. When presented with three flavored wet foods in a recent study, cats chose fish out of a sample of rabbit, fish, and orange flavored food. It’s been hypothesized that cats are often unwilling to try a food that is new or different to them because it could lead to an upset stomach.

In the end, food pickiness may be boiled down to DNA. A 2005 study on cat genetics found that their taste receptors are much different than humans – for example, they don’t have receptors to taste sweetness, and their taste receptors for bitterness are much stronger than ours. This could be an underlying reason why food tastes different to them, and why they often appear picky.

Lastly, It’s important to keep in mind that an ideal cat food hits all the nutrition requirements – providing the proper vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to keep your cat at its healthiest.

Yes or No: Dogs in the Bed

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It’s the ultimate pet do or don’t: dogs in the bed. ​Some pet owners love cuddling up with Fido at the end of every day, while others say there is nothing worse than waking up with a paw to the stomach….

The topic makes the rounds every now and again, and this time, the buzz online is about a recent study in which 40 dogs were tracked with a device as they slept in bed with their owners. The study showed that over the course of seven days, both the humans and the dogs slept reasonably well. The dog owners were also required to keep a sleep diary and wear a device that tracked their sleep — they reported sleeping only slightly better with the dogs off the bed, but not by much.

Interestingly, the dogs’ sleep quality stayed the same regardless of where they slept, which is good to know for any owners who are thinking about transitioning their dogs off the bed and worrying that their pooch won’t sleep as well or as happily. For any pet owners concerned that letting their four-legged friend sleep in bed will give the dog the wrong idea about who’s in charge, you needn’t worry. “Dogs can distinguish between the relationship with its human fellows and other dogs, and the ways in which they regulate their interactions with humans in the house is not trying to establish a hierarchy,” says Dr. Siracusa in this article.

So – should dogs sleep on or off the bed? At the end of the day, it’s totally and completely up to you. We say, do what makes you happy. As long as you and your furry pal are waking up rested, we say there is no right or wrong way to do it!