Friday, August 10, 2018

Pet Sugar Gliders: What to Do When You Bring Them Home

Rocky, my first Sugar Glider entered my life two years ago as a gift from my son.  My inexperience with Sugar Gliders became apparent as soon as I tried to pick up the little creature.  He stood on his hind legs and batted at me with his paws, making scary chattering noises. 
Sugar Glider

As I looked at this tough little guy, I knew the name, Rocky, fit him to a tee.  I immediately went online and read all the information I could find about socializing Sugar Gliders and found out that the worst thing I could have done was try to pick him up as soon as the baby sugar glider arrived. 

I found that forming a bond with my sugar glider depended on how much time I spent with him during his first few weeks at home.

Sugar Glider Bonding Techniques

I began the relationship with my baby Sugar Glider by leaving him alone for two days.  The solitude gave him time to become acclimated to his new home.  The Sugar Glider cage that I chose for him had both vertical and horizontal bars so that Rocky could grab the sides without sliding down the bars. 

In the wild, Sugar Gliders can glide up to 15 feet, so they jump around in the cage quite a bit.  I used pine shavings for the floor of the cage but newspaper can be used also.  My Sugar Glider was all set to spend his two days of peace and quiet once I added the glider food and a water bottle.

A Sugar Glider eventually recognizes the smell and voices of the people it lives with, so I found an old t-shirt and wore it for a few hours.  Then I cut a small piece from the shirt and placed it in the cage.  This helped Rocky to become familiar with my scent, strengthening his trust in me.  I also used a bonding pouch that I hung around my neck. 

Rocky stayed in the pouch while I went about my daily routine around the house.  I made it a point to rub the pouch every few minutes so the Sugar Glider would get used to my touch.  Carrying him in the pouch familiarized him with my scent and the feel of my body.

Once I felt that he knew my scent, it was time to hold him in my hands.  Everything I read about handling Sugar Gliders emphasized not to be afraid because my fear would transfer to the Sugar Glider and make him afraid, as well. 

Sugar Gliders are marsupials, so as babies they are used to living upside down in their mother’s pouch.  They feel safe in tight, enclosed spaces.  When first handling my Sugar Glider, I used a firm touch, squeezing him in my hand and petting him firmly.  I noticed that a firm touch also calmed him down when he became excited. 

When I first held Rocky, he was frightened but I soon discovered that the tighter I held him, the calmer he became.  The more I rubbed his body, the more he trusted me.  I had to keep reminding myself that my Sugar Glider wanted to feel my hand tighten around him rather than hold him loosely.  He needed that tight secure feeling.

I took Rocky out of his cage every day, holding and squeezing him for as long as could.  After a few weeks, my Sugar Glider felt secure and confident.  He trusted me completely and now he never leaves me when he is out of his cage.  

The extra time spent with my baby Sugar Glider in those first few days of his arrival was the key to the rewarding experience I have had with Rocky.  We both enjoy the times he sits in my pocket or on my shoulder and his trust in me grows stronger every day. If you're thinking of getting a Sugar Glider as a pet, take time bonding and he'll be a funny, loving small pet.


Image:  “Peanut” by Jason Meredith is licensed under CC by 2.0

Thursday, August 9, 2018

3 Steps for Emergency CPR on Dogs and Cats

Knowing CPR Could Save Your Dog’s Life 
Locate the heart to start CPR on a dog

Learning CPR for dogs and cats is very similar to the techniques used on people.  Every second counts when you find your pet unconscious and without a heartbeat.  Brain damage and death takes only a few minutes. 
Giving your dog or cat rescue breaths and chest compressions keeps the blood circulating and oxygen reaching the brain.  
It’s very important to continue CPR on dogs and cats for as long as possible, until the animal begins breathing on his own or until help arrives to relieve you.  Unfortunately, ambulances and EMT’s do not rush to the assistance of pets, so try to call someone for help and continue CPR while driving to the animal hospital.
Laying a dog or a cat in a van or truck with a flat bed works best for effective CPR but the back seat of a car will do if nothing else is available. 
First Step of Pet CPR
The first thing to do if you find your dog or cat unresponsive is to make sure it’s safe for you to approach the dog.  Look around for any other animals or hazards that could harm you.  If the area is safe, go to your dog or cat and check to see if he’s breathing. 
Look, listen, and feel around the animal’s mouth for breath.  If there is no breathing, check the airway of the animal.  Open your pet’s mouth, and see if there is anything lodged in his throat.  Pull her tongue out to get a better view and use your finger to dislodge the object and remove it from the airway.
Second Step of Pet CPR
Lay your pet on his right side.  If you have a large dog, extend and straighten the dog’s head to open the airway and tightly hold her jaw closed.  Give two rescue breaths into the dog’s nose, watching to see if the chest rises.
For cats and small dogs, extend the head and give two rescue breaths through the mouth and nose.  Make sure the animal’s chest rises.
If you don’t see your pet’s chest rise, repeat the procedure for checking the airway.  Hold the dog or cat with her back against your body and give a quick, sharp squeeze to the animal’s abdomen to try and get the object out.  Repeat five times if necessary, and then check the airway again.
Begin rescue breaths again.
Third Step of Pet CPR
Make sure your dog or cat is on his right side because the heart is located on the left side of the chest.  Another method is to lay the animal on her back and give compressions the same way as for humans, but it’s hard to keep an animal in this position.
Check for a pulse by using two fingers under the leg beside the chest, under the hind leg, or on the paws.  View this demonstration of finding a dog’s or cat’s pulse. 
·         Give large dogs over 60 pounds, sixty compressions every minute
·         Dogs or cats that weight 11 to 59 pounds should receive 80 to 100 compressions every minute
·         Pets that weigh less than 10 pounds should receive 120 compressions every minute.
Squeeze the lower abdomen of your pet after giving the chest compressions to help circulate the blood.
Also, check for injuries and apply first aid, if necessary after giving the first rescue breaths. 
The older CPR skills required 1 breath to 15 compressions but the rates are now 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until your dog or cat begins breathing on her own.  Just remember that either way of performing CPR on dogs and cats is better than not doing anything when trying to save your pet’s life. Hopefully, you’ll never have to do CPR on your dog or cat.
Please comment, if you have any other tips to give about CPR or first aid for pets. Thanks for reading.

Ever Thought about Getting Pet Alpacas for Fun and Profit?

Alpacas Are Fun and Useful Pets
Alpacas look like miniature camels. These camelids are native to South America but are growing in popularity in the United States and Canada. 

Where Did Alpacas Come From?
Three million years ago, members of the camel family (camelids) were native to central North America.  During the Ice Age, the camelids migrated south and never returned to North America.  As the centuries passed, the original camelid became the vicuna and guanaco, roaming wild in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.  Inhabitants in these areas domesticated the vicuna and bred them for their soft, thick coats.  The vicuna developed into the alpacas of today.
Alpacas Are Gentle and Easy Going
Alpacas make wonderful pets because of their gentle and easygoing nature.  They’re very cooperative and submissive, making them ideal as a family pet.  Alpacas love to be around the family members and become attached to them.  They never spit at people unless they’re teased, but they will spit at other alpacas.
They communicate by moving their ears and tails into different positions.  Alpaca owners soon learn what the different positions mean.  Alpacas also hum and make a shrill scream if they’re frightened.
Adult alpacas are usually three feet tall to the shoulder or four and a half feet to the top of the head.  They weigh about 16 pounds when they’re born, and they can grow to 150 to 175 pounds as adults.
You Can Train Alpacas
Alpacas are smart animals, making them easy to train.  Repeating a behavior four of five times is all the alpaca needs to learn the desired skill.  Training an alpaca is very similar to training a dog.  They learn how to walk with a lead and halter and how to get into a vehicle.  You can bring your alpaca in a station wagon, SUV or a minivan.
Alpacas Don’t Cost Much to Feed
Feeding alpacas is much cheaper than feeding most pets.  They have three stomach compartments, just like sheep and cattle, chewing their cud.  Alpacas require only two or three bales of hay every month.  A veterinarian may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements for pet alpacas.
Best Weather for Alpacas
Pet alpacas thrive in almost any climate.  When the weather is very hot, alpacas should be sheared and placed in a shady area with water sprinklers.  Alpacas also do very well in cold weather, but you have to keep them in an enclosed barn, so the alpacas aren’t out in the wintry conditions. For all other weather conditions, pet alpacas only need a three-sided shelter.
Raising Alpacas Is a Good Side Hustle
Pet alpacas are not only fun but are profitable, as well.  It’s soft, dense fleece is used for making yarn, fabric, and even stuffed animals.  Raising alpacas for fleece or breeding is an expensive venture but can be profitable over time.  If you’re raising alpacas for profit, you’ll need a small herd for both breeding and shearing. Most people have one or two alpacas, if they’re only raising them as pets.
How Much Does an Alpaca Cost?
The cost of alpacas depends upon their qualities, and if you’re raising them for fleece, breeding, or stud.  A gelded alpaca male can cost as little as $500.00, while a female used for breeding can cost as much as $20,000. Pet alpacas usually range from $500 to $1500.  Take a look at several alpaca farms before purchasing your pet. That way, you’ll find just the right alpaca for your family.

If anyone has any tips on buying or raising alpacas, please leave any comments that could help someone starting out with alpacas. Thanks.
Photo Credit: By Kyle Flood from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (Alpaca) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 6, 2018

What Are the Symptoms of Dental Disease in Dogs

The start of irritated gums

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, “more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop gum disease by the age of three years.” Gum disease, broken teeth, crooked teeth and tumors are all painful dental problems for dogs. 

These dental conditions cause dogs to struggle eating solid foods because of irritated gums and toothaches. 
If your dog drops his food while trying to eat, he might have one of the following dental problems.

It’s important for your dogs and cats to have dental exams at the vet because dental diseases can also cause organ damage due to gum infections that spread to your pet’s bloodstream. Also, try to brush your dog's teeth every day.

Periodontal Disease in Pets

A periodontal disease, known as gingivitis causes inflammation of your dog’s gums and is the most common mouth problem found in dogs. A bacterium builds up in your dog’s mouth, attacking the gum tissue. The bacterium causes plaque to form on the teeth and below the gums. 

Hardened plaque on 2-year-old bull terrier

The plaque turns into hard tartar, causing your dog’s gums to recede and exposes the nerves.  Chewing becomes very painful once your dog’s gums recede.  You can tell if your dog has periodontal disease if he has the following symptoms:

  • Fishy smelling breath
  • Weight loss
  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tooth loss

Does Your Dog Have Broken Teeth?

Another common cause of pain as your dog eats is broken teeth. Dogs break teeth from gnawing on bones, especially weight bearing bones like beef marrowbones. They can also break teeth from chewing cow hooves, plastic bones and large rawhide bones. Sometimes, it’s hard to see if your dog has any fractured teeth, so pull his gums back and look all the way to the back teeth.

Broken tooth from chewing hard bones

A broken tooth exposes the pulp of your dog’s tooth, which includes the nerve endings. A fractured tooth causes extreme pain to your dog, which prevents him from being able to eat. Veterinarians repair fractured teeth by crowning the tooth or extracting the tooth and replacing it with a bridge.

Tumors in Your Pet’s Mouth

Dogs and cats often develop tumors in their throats and mouths. Malignant tumors form ulcerated growths, sores, and swollen gums that inhibit your dog’s ability to chew and swallow.  Many times the tumors are located both in the gums and the throat. Your dog would need oral surgery if your veterinarian finds tumor in his mouth.

Abnormal Bite Can Cause Tooth Pain in Dogs

Crooked teeth make it difficult for your dog to eat because the teeth do not line up properly.  While chewing, an abnormal bite causes the top and bottom teeth to bump against each other causing pain.  It makes eating very difficult and sometimes impossible for your dog, especially when chewing dry dog foods.

If you suspect your dog has any of these dental problems, bring him to your vet for an oral exam. Maybe all he needs is a cleaning to get him back on the right track to oral health. Even if he needs some teeth extracted because of periodontal disease, at least his pain will be gone. 



Sunday, August 5, 2018

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

Maybe your dog is looking for attention.

Reasons Why Some Dogs Eat Poop

If you’re totally disgusted when you see your dog eating poop, then read more about why it happens.  Find out the most common reasons why your dog eats poop.

The medical term for eating feces is Coprophagia.   There are many reasons why your dog eats poop.  Some of the reasons are physical and some could be psychological.  Once you know the probable causes of Coprophagia, you can help your dog stop eatinghis poop.

Medical causes for eating feces

Some medical problems can cause your dog to eat poop.  The Douglas Island Veterinary Service says that the following health problems can cause dogs to eat poop:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Infections in your dog’s intestine
  • Inability to absorb nutrients
  • Feeding your dog a high fat diet

Coprophagia is not the only symptom of these diseases.  If your dog isn’t showing any other health related symptoms, especially diarrhea, then eating feces is probably a behavioral issue.

Behavioral reasons why your dog eats poop

Seeking AttentionUsually, when your dog eats poo, you reprimand him.  You either pull your dog away from the feces or actually lecture him how disgusting it is to eat poop.  It’s probably the most effective way for your dog to get your attention.  Your lecture has the opposite effect than you intended.  Your dog eats more poop to get more attention from you.

Imitating – Dogs are intelligent animals and want to please their owners.  When your dog sees you picking up poop in a doggie bag, she learns to do the same thing by eating it.

Learned – Your dog could learn coprophagia from other dogs.  Maybe your dog saw the neighbor’s dog or another dog at a dog park eating feces and copied the behavior. 

Maternal – When a mother dog delivers puppies, it’s perfectly normal for her to eat the feces of her puppies.  She’s keeping her puppies and the whelping box clean.  Another reason mother dogs eat feces is to prevent predators from smelling the puppies.

Dominance – Many times, a submissive dog will eat the poop of dominant dogs, especially when they are living in the same house. 

Hunger – Many dogs only eat once per day. If you feed your dog once per day, you could try switching to a few small meals throughout the day. Maybe your dog is hungry and eats poop to supplement his diet.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Poop

There are no fail-safe treatments for dogs eating poop, but the following methods can help:

 Treat the Food - Adding enzymes to your dog’s diet helps break down nutrients so he gets more nutrition, not needing to supplement with feces.  Meat tenderizer is a common ingredient that can provide enzymes to your dog’s diet.

Treat the Feces - After your dog has a bowel movement, don’t pick it up right away.  Pour hot sauce or other bad tasting, non-toxic product on the poop.  When your dog eats the feces, he’ll soon learn that it’s not a tasty treat. This might stop the behavior.

Pick up the Feces – Picking up the poop right after your dog eliminates helps break the habit of eating feces.  This is the most effective method found by dog owners.  If you’re unable to go outside with your dog and pick up the poop right away, put a muzzle on him so he can’t eat it.  Go outside as soon as you can, pick up the dog’s poop, and then remove the muzzle.  This will also break the cycle.

Avoid Punishment – Punishment never works to prevent coprophagia.  The dog only knows that he is getting attention and doesn’t associate the scolding with the poop eating.  It’s a waste of time and energy to try to stop the behavior with punishment, plus you risk breaking the trusting bond you have with your dog.

Positive Reinforcement – When you notice your dog start to eat feces, tell him to ‘leave it’ , ‘come’, or ‘sit’, whichever command he’s most familiar with.  If your dog responds to the command, give him a treat and praise.  Quickly, pick up the poop and distract the dog with some other activity.

Does My Dog Have Tapeworms?

Tapeworm with rice-like segments
Tapeworms are disgusting 8 inch worms that attach themselves to the lining of your dog's intestines.  Segments break off from the adult tapeworms and carry eggs through the intestines.  The egg segments look like white rice that wiggles on top of your dog's poop.  

Gross...for sure!  The white eggs also wiggle around the dog's anus and get onto your carpets and floors. 

Read more about the symptoms and how you can treat worms in your dog.

Most people cringe at the thought of canine tapeworms.  The tapeworms hook themselves onto your dog’s intestinal wall and shed segments that carry tapeworm eggs.  The eggs move through your dog’s intestines and come out when your dog poops.

How Tapeworms Get Passed on to Animals and People

If another animal or even a human is exposed to the eggs, they can get tapeworms too.  Fleas also pass tapeworms to other animals or people. This happens when fleas ingest the eggs while biting an infected dog.  When the fleas hop onto another animal, they deposit the tapeworm eggs with their bites.  Keep your family and pets safe from tapeworm infestation by knowing what to look for. 

What Do Tapeworm Eggs Look Like?

The eggs are the most noticeable signs of tapeworm infestation.  If your dog has tapeworms, you will see the egg segments (proglottids) on your carpets and floors.  They look like white rice and turn tan when exposed to the air.  The eggs also appear around the dog’s anus and from there they wriggle into the fur.  You’ll also see the egg segments in your dog’s poop as they move around in it.  Sometimes, adult tapeworms detach themselves from the intestines and show up in your dog’s poop. 
Anal Irritation Is a Sign of Tapeworms
Tapeworm eggs move out of your dog’s intestines and gather around his anus causing irritation and itching.  If your dog starts licking his butt, check the area for moving tapeworm segments.  Dogs also rub their butts across the floor trying to relieve irritation from tapeworms, depositing the egg segments on your floors.  If any children play on the floor and touch the eggs, they can contract tapeworms.
The vicious cycle begins again when your dog ingests the live eggs by licking his anal area.  Tapeworm infestation begins again, getting progressively more severe.     
Stomach Upset from Tapeworms
Canine tapeworms do not display many adverse physical reactions in dogs unless severe infestation occurs.  Adult tapeworms sometimes detach from the dog’s intestines and travel into the stomach.  When tapeworms reach the stomach, vomiting occurs.  The dog’s vomit will have live tapeworms that are up to 8 inches long.
Other Canine Tapeworm Signs
Here are some other symptoms of severe amounts of tapeworms infesting your dog:
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Anemia
  • Increased heart 
Treatment for Tapeworms in Dogs
Veterinarians offer several tapeworm treatments depending upon the severity of the tapeworms’ infestation.  Injections or oral medications are available that dissolve the worms. You can also buy home worming medication to get rid of tapeworms in your dogs or cats.
Your veterinarian also offers advice on how to prevent tapeworms from coming back. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Teach Your Dog to Use a Treadmill: Step-by-Step Guide

I know my Collie never runs out of energy, even when he gets the zoomies outside.  When I bought a treadmill, I decided to teach him how to use it.  He loves every minute he's on the treadmill now, and it gives him all the exercise that I wasn't able to give him. 
Dog exercising on the treadmill

According to the National Academy of Sciences, one quarter of pet dogs are obese.  If your dog is overweight, he can develop many health related problems just like people do.  Diet and exercise keeps your dog at a healthy weight, preventing complications, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Things You Can Do with Your Dog for Exercise

It’s hard to give a dog all the exercise he needs, especially if you own a highly energetic dog.  Taking your dog for a twenty minute walk is not enough to keep him fit.  There are many ways to exercise your dog other than just a daily walk. 

If you have a fenced in area or trust your dog to stay with you in the yard, playing ball or fetch is a great way to get your dog running, which develops both his muscles and heart.  

Another idea is to set up agility equipment in the yard or take a class where your dog can exercise both his brain and his muscles.  Making five or six jumps in the yard and teaching your dog to run the course is an excellent source of exercise.

When you don’t have the time or the space to do these activities with your dog, a treadmill is the ideal solution.  It offers your dog all the exercise he needs, no matter if you have a small or large dog.  Teaching your dog to use the treadmill takes patience but once your dog is comfortable on it, he will love it.

Pet supply stores do sell treadmills made for dogs, which have guardrails for safety, but don’t’ feel that you don’t have to buy a special treadmill for your dog to use. He can learn on yours. It works just as well for your dog.

8 Steps to Teach Your Dog to Use the Treadmill

Remember that your dog will not be able to do all these steps in one day.  It can take up to two weeks to follow these steps completely and have your dog really enjoy climbing onto the treadmill.  Be patient and your dog will run enthusiastically onto the treadmill in no time.

1. Have a handful of your dog’s favorite treats ready.  Your dog doesn’t need an entire dog biscuit for a treat.  A small kibble size treat is fine.   Train the first five steps with the treadmill OFF.  Don’t turn on the treadmill until your dog is comfortable and shows no hesitation when getting on. 

2. If you use a clicker to train your dog, it can be used for the treadmill, as well.  If not, that’s okay.  Just use the word, “Yes”, when your dog does the correct command.  Be patient and enthusiastic when training your dog to use the treadmill.

3. Introduce your dog to the treadmill by letting him sniff it and walk around it.  Place a treat on the treadmill and allow your dog to take the treat.  When he takes the treat, either click or say, “Yes” enthusiastically.  Only do this for a few minutes and end the training session for the day.

4. Next day, begin the same way, allowing your dog to sniff and walk around the treadmill.  Most likely, your dog will already associate the treadmill with receiving treats.  This time, climb on the treadmill yourself and call your dog to you.  If he puts even one paw on the treadmill, click and treat or say, “Yes” and treat.  The objective is to alleviate any fear your dog may have with standing on the treadmill.  Continue this exercise until your dog gets on the treadmill with you without hesitation.  Some dogs will do this right away; others will take a few days to become comfortable on the treadmill.

5. Once your dog gets on the treadmill with you, begin training him to climb on the treadmill alone.  Just let him stand or sit on it for a few minutes, then treat him and call him off.  Repeat this for a few minutes and end your training session.

6. Once your dog enjoys climbing on the treadmill and staying on it until called off, it’s time to turn it on.  The first few times, just have your dog stand on the treadmill as usual and treat him.  Then turn on the treadmill to its slowest speed while your dog is standing on it.  The dog will automatically begin walking.  Treat him while he walks on the treadmill.  Only do this for a minute or two and end the session.

7. The next day, repeat the procedure and start the treadmill slowly.  If your dog seems comfortable walking at the lowest speed, you can increase it to the next number.  Remember that your dog is not accustomed to walking on a treadmill so you should start out slowly.

8. Now, it’s time to develop your dog’s endurance on the treadmill.  Just like people, your dog needs to build up his stamina.  Start the dog’s treadmill training with only five minutes and gradually increase his time daily.  Eventually, your dog will be able to do a steady trot on the treadmill for twenty or thirty minutes, maybe more.  Make sure to decrease the speed of the treadmill, letting your dog cool down before he gets off.  Treat him when he finishes his workout.

Remember to make the treadmill fun for your dog and never leave him alone for even a minute.  Stay with him the entire time he’s exercising, encouraging him and watching for fatigue.  Don’t let your dog get to the point where he is lagging and struggling to keep up with the treadmill. 

Keep your dog healthy and prevent all the problems associated with pet obesity with regular exercise and a healthy diet.