Cat Grass

Cat Grass

The other week I was watering my houseplants when I noticed the ends of some of the leaves of one of my favourites were all frayed. What the heck? As the days went on, I noticed more and more of the leaves were missing their tips. I had just moved this particular plant, but I couldn’t imagine how a simple change of location could cause this. So, I did some sleuthing. Turns out, the new home I had chosen for my plant was accessible to my cat (a.k.a. The Culprit) and she had been happily nibbling away at her leisure! Needless to say, the plant changed locations again, and my little furball got a stern talking to.

Addie Additude

“Yeah I ate your plants, whatchu gonna do about it?”

It was then that I realized that since moving in August, my cat could now only enjoy her outdoor time contained on our deck and no longer had access to a grassy lawn. It was too dangerous to allow her to roam freely as our backyard went from the size of a postage stamp, to backing onto a coyote-filled ravine. So, she was missing her grass snacks apparently! This peaked my curiosity and I decided to look into cat grass as an alternative for her.

Did you know that cat grass is actually really beneficial?

Medically, cat grass has been reported to speed digestion. This is because it is a great source of insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and helps food pass through the digestive system at a quicker pace. This means that it can be helpful for cats that suffer from digestive issues such as constipation and/or diarrhea. In addition to this, cat grass is an excellent source of folic acid. Folic acid helps the body produce and maintain new cells and is essential for red blood cell formation. All very good things!

Cat grass can also be beneficial for cats when they have a hairball or an upset stomach. When a kitty is having some tummy troubles, they will eat full blades of grass in order to induce vomiting. If they are eating for pleasure, they will chew up the grass and it will not cause regurgitation. So, you shouldn’t expect any grassy-kitty vomit unless your cat is having an issue.

Another positive aspect of cat grass is that it is super easy to grow. This means you can grow it yourself and have it available both inside and outside. This will offer your cat an alternative to munching on potentially chemically treated grass and/or toxic plants that can be found outside such as lilies, ivies and tomato plants. The best types of grass for cats are barley, wheatgrass, oat and rye.

And finally, I learned that it must be some tasty stuff because my little kitty gobbles it up! She smells it, she rubs against it, she eats it. She loves her cat grass!

Happy Addie

And really, who could ever stay mad at this cute little face?

Have you ever had an animal in your household eat your plants? What did you do? Have you tried cat grass or some other alternative? I would love to hear some stories or see some pictures!

Thank you for reading,

Kait.

Power Breeds

Power Breeds

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to selecting a type of dog. Some people prefer large over small, short hair over long hair, wrinkles over a smooth face, curly tails over straight… The list could be endless! And luckily for us, dogs come in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of different traits and temperaments. What I want to focus on in this blog is the so-called “power breed.”

What is a Power Breed?

When referring to a power breed, I am talking about those breeds that are just that – powerful. They are typically a larger breed of dog, with a lot of defined musculature. These would be your Rottweilers, Presa Canarios, Doberman Pinschers, Mastiffs, Cane Corsos, etc. These dogs can be extremely loyal and loving, and we have quite a few that come into our clinic that are complete delight – sloppy kisses and all!

Heidi

Heidi is a lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, and she gives the sloppiest of kisses when she comes into the clinic!

Another noteworthy attribute of many of these power breeds is that their original “jobs” were to be watch/guard dogs, hunters, and in some cases, even fighting dogs. Therefore, certain traits have been selected and emphasized over many, many years of breeding. Characteristics such as an imposing or intimidating appearance, a reservation towards strangers, brute strength and high intelligence have become instinctual within these types of dogs.

Finn

Finn is a sweet, old Doberman Pinscher who is owned by one of our staff members.

Battling Preconceived Notions

A few years ago, my husband and I welcomed a Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue into our home. His name was Troy and he was only the second dog I had ever adopted. I had been a fan of the breed since I first met a group of them about a decade earlier. Unfortunately, I was not in the least bit prepared for the difficulties I encountered when I was out with him. In fact, the thought had not even crossed my mind when we were considering adopting him… To me, he was a sweet soul that had endured a life of neglect and wanted nothing more than to snuggle up and be part of a family. To others, he was large and scary, and he had a big mouth with lots of teeth and a loud bark. I would go for walks with him and people would cross the street so they would not have to go near us. It broke my heart. This was a dog that literally ran away from a 5-pound Maltese in the waiting room of the clinic one day and hid behind me! The realization that he, and other breeds like him, would be met with fear and misunderstanding was a bitter pill for me to swallow, especially after having gotten to know Troy and experiencing first-hand the issues faced by those who have these types of dogs in their lives.

Troy

Troy is our Rhodesian Ridgeback who was scared of 5 pound lap dogs.

Ending the Stigma

Power breeds have had to endure a bad reputation that has been developed within our society and has stuck to them like glue. Their nature has too often been referred to as dangerous or aggressive. And while there is no denying that these dogs do have the potential to do harm, many of them are not deserving of the discrimination that they face.

Stone & Rocky

Stone and Rocky are two goofy Rottweiler patients of ours, it is always a pleasure seeing them.

Luckily, there is a way for lovers of these breeds to help repair the damage that has been done. And that is by showing the world the amazing, goofy, loving side of these dogs. The temperament of a dog can often be contributed to the time and effort their family puts into training them, as well as the boundaries that are set out for them. When one commits to adopting a power breed, they are taking on not only the responsibility of pet ownership, but also the responsibility of meeting the needs of a very special type of dog. It is critical for all dogs to be well socialized from a young age and given strict guidelines on what is proper behaviour. However, this becomes an especially important consideration for prospective pet parents when accepting power breeds into the family.

Kali

This is Kali, a 95-lb Boxer. She is such a joy to see whenever she comes to visit us!

Considerations for Prospective Owners

If you are thinking about adopting a dog, please also look into training and consider going to puppy classes. It is essential to do your research and make sure that you understand exactly what sort of discipline and structure is required for the welfare and happiness of your new family member. Power breeds can be very strong-willed, so it is important to take a step back and evaluate yourself as an owner before taking on the responsibility of accepting these types of breeds into your family. An unprepared or unsuitable owner can result in an out of control pup, which only serves to harm the reputation of these breeds even further.

Indy

Indy (aka Spotty Dog) is Dr. McQueen’s Great Dane rescue.

 

Take your time, do your research and select a breed that is appropriate to your lifestyle. Your future fur baby will thank you for it ten-fold, and the bond you two will develop will last a lifetime!

Thank you for reading,

Kait.

Taking the “Finicky” Out of Your Feline

Taking the “Finicky” Out of Your Feline

A well-balanced and properly formulated diet can make a world of difference when it comes to your pet’s health.

I discovered this first-hand a few years ago when my cat, Adelaide, was urinating around the house. It was behaviour that was so out of character for her that I knew she was trying to tell me something. It took a few urine samples and some x-rays, but she was soon diagnosed with bladder stones. She was quickly booked in for a cystotomy (surgery to remove the stones) and recovered very well.

She settled back in at home and was happily using her litterbox again. However, her treatment was not quite finished yet. The doctor’s wanted to make sure that she did not suffer a repeat of her experience. The stones collected from her bladder were sent out for proper identification, and a new food that was specifically designed for cats with urinary issues was recommended. I was, of course, eager to oblige. Anything for my little kitty! Addie, on the other hand, was not so excited for her new food…

Introducing a cat to a new food can certainly be a challenge.

As I immediately discovered, cats can be very picky when it comes to their diet. And, I have to admit, I hear from owner’s all the time at the clinic that their cat’s are very fussy eaters – I just never thought it would be a challenge that I would have to face myself! Luckily, I had the support of my fellow staff members at Snelgrove Vet, as well as a team of veterinarians. Through the experience of having to switch a (then) 10-year old cat to a brand new food, I learned a lot of tips and tricks, which I can now share with our readers and clients alike!

Offering your cat a variety of foods while they’re still young can make your life a lot easier in the long-run.

If I had been doing this since she was a kitten, I don’t think Addie would have had a difficult time transitioning from her old food to her new urinary food. Cats often become conditioned to eating only one type of food and, because they like to stick with the familiar, it can be difficult to change foods later on if necessary. This is especially true of lower quality dry and canned foods (some are the equivalent of having a cheeseburger with fries everyday. Tastes great but not great for you!) It is a good idea to introduce your cat to all different kinds of  textures while they are still young enough to be willing to try them. Of course, I was not forward thinking enough to do this when she was younger.

Preparing for the transition from old food to new food took some consideration.

Before I could transition Addie to her new and amazing urinary food, there were a few things I needed to put into practice first. I had to get her off of free-feeding and establish a feeding schedule. She was so used to grazing from her bowl whenever she wanted that I was afraid she would turn her nose up at her new food and hold out for her old food. I had to start feeding her at specific times so that she would be hungry by the time I was filling her bowl again. I also had to eliminate any hint of her old food from the house. Some very clever kitties think that they can hold out for their old food and eventually get it, especially if they can see or smell the bag or can. So, I took her old bag of food out to the garage so that she would not be able to sniff it out. I did keep it on hand, just in case I needed it though.*

Waiting (not so) patiently for dinner

Transitioning to new food took a little bit of time and a lot of patience.

Cats are usually very particular about their eating habits, and my Adelaide is no exception. In order to allow myself the greatest chance of success, I had to make sure that I didn’t make any “environmental” changes to her routine. I fed her in the same spot within our home, out of the same bowl, with the same scoop, at the same time of day – the only change was to the food itself, nothing else. Finally, we were ready to break out the new food! Sometimes all it takes is a bit of time for a cat to accept a new type of food, so I started feeding a mixture of 3/4 regular food and 1/4 new food for a few days. She seemed okay with this, so I began to mix the foods 1/2 and 1/2. When this went well for another few days, and I was able to feed a mixture of 1/4 old food and 3/4 new food, until I was finally able to eliminate her old food altogether from the bowl. The entire transition probably took about 8 or 9 days. Some cats may need more time, others may need less.

I was lucky that transitioning Adelaide to her new urinary diet went fairly smoothly. I think that approaching the food change with a well-thought out plan helped a lot. Hopefully my experiences can help other cat owners that are facing food transitions of their own! Of course, if any of our clients or readers have any questions or concerns, the staff at Snelgrove is always able to lend an ear and discuss some tips and tricks.

Thank you to everyone for reading, I would love to hear if anyone else has had any experiences with this. What helped the most with your transition, and what hindered it?

– Kait.

*Please note: At no time should a cat ever go more than 24 hours without eating. If your cat is truly considering a hunger strike and has refused to eat for 24 hours, call your veterinarian immediately as they may be in danger of developing health issues such as fatty liver disease, which can lead to renal failure.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TIPS FOR FURRY FAMILY MEMBERS!

cup 5Happy New Year to all! It’s that time again! It’s time to think about how we want this year to go and what we want to do differently from last year. But wait, this doesn’t have to be just about ourselves. Let’s take a look at the entire family; furry and four-footed included. Do they have some bad food habits that should be kicked? Have they gotten lazy on their walks? Are they looking ’rounder’ than you remember?

We all know that making changes can be hard and that it is nice to have a supportive family there to help along the way. Our furry friends are a part of the family, so why not include them as well!

Here are a few helpful hints that everyone can use!
1. Portion control is helpful for everyone. Some experts recommend using smaller plates so that it looks like you have as much food as before. For pets, use a measuring cup that you don’t have to eye-ball. Make sure that the measurement is level. You’d be amazed by how much food this knocks off, you may even find that you save some money as your bag will last longer. 😉

2. Get active! Now that everyone is eating a bit less, we need to work the extra weight off. But don’t start off with a long hike if you’re not used to it. Use that as your goal and start off small with your dog. Start with two 15 minute walks and when that becomes easy, start increasing one of the walks by 5-10 minute increments. Before you know it, you and your dog will be hitting the trails!

3. Cats can be tricky to get motivated to move. We recommend looking over the inventory of toys you have and then putting most of them away where your cat can’t find them. (Tricky, we know) The idea is then to rotate the toys so that there is always something ‘new’ for your cat to play with. You can also use this time to figure out which types of toys your cat likes. Does she like catnip toys more, or does she prefer the laser light on the floor? You can try hiding their food so that they have to hunt for it is another idea to try. Basically, try anything that might get your cat moving and jumping.12640other_01Oct20135153_large

4. Don’t get discouraged when you pets don’t seem to lose as much weight as you are. In this case, the number of pounds(or Kgs) can be deceiving. Since dogs and cats weigh far less than us, losing a pound is a lot of weight when you consider the body proportions. Remember, slow and steady wins this race.

5. Factor in snacking. We all love having a little snack during the day and our pets are no exception. In fact most pets will diligently remind you if you’ve forgotten! Instead of cutting all treats, find ways to include it in your pet’s diet. Choose lower calorie snacks like carrots instead of milk bones. Call your vet clinic and see if they have a low-calorie treat that they recommend and carry in stock. Cut back the kibble to account for the treats given during the day. (If you call your vet, they’ll likely help with figuring out how much kibble and how many treats would be ideal.) There are many different ways to accommodate treats. Find what works for your family.

6. Talk to your family and get everyone on board. This only works if everyone understands the goal and is working towards it. Make sure everyone knows what the feeding plan is and what is available for treats and how many. One way to do this is make up a treat bag for each pet. This will include the number of treats per day that each pet can have. This will make it easy for the family to see if there are any more treats to be given in any given day. This can be done with the kibble as well, so it doesn’t have to be just one person feeding the pets. Everyone will feel included and help make your life a bit easier in the process.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet for help. They have a wealth of information and experience to offer as well as support. They can help set up realistic weight goals, calculate how much food (and treats) to give, as well as track progress. Weight gain can also be a symptom of some diseases, so it is always good to talk to your vet before starting a weight loss program.

Foods To Share With Fido!

abby eats

With Christmas just around the corner, here are 5 suggestions if you feel the need to share

We’ve all heard about the human foods we should not be sharing with our canine companions: chocolate, avocado, grapes/raisins, onions… The list goes on and on. For your dog, these and many other foods can be dangerous or even toxic! But what about foods that you actually can share with your dog? Naturally, a veterinarian recommended diet is always the best option for your pet, but if you really want to share a special treat with your dog once in a while, here are our top 5 picks:

Carrots

Carrots are a fun, crunchy choice for your furry friend. They are an easy treat to prepare (just wash them!) as well as being low in calories and high in fiber.

Cooked Chicken

Chicken is a fantastic source of protein for your dog. Just be sure that it is thoroughly cooked and free of any bones. Raw meat can play host to all kinds of bacteria (including salmonella and e. coli) and chicken bones can actually splinter when chewed, which could result in a laceration or blockage within the digestive system.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is extremely palatable for your pup! It’s a great treat because it is full of nutrients. Just be careful to give it in small doses – peanut butter is also very high in calories.

Cheese

Cheese is another popular choice among dog owners. It is a great source of calcium and protein. Just be careful – some dogs can be lactose intolerant, and cheese could also hinder the absorption of some medications if they are given simultaneously. And again, keep portions small, cheese is also one of those high calorie choices!

Rice

Rice may not be the most exciting thing to give your dog, but it certainly has its benefits. Plain boiled rice is a very easily digestible carbohydrate, so it is often recommended when your dog is having tummy troubles. It can also provide a good source of energy for older dogs.

So, there you have it – our top 5 suggestions for human foods that you can share with your canine. Remember that moderation is key when it comes to treats. We don’t want to end up with an overweight, unhealthy pet! Extra food should be in addition to a balanced diet, and shouldn’t make up any more than about 25% of your dog’s daily food allowance. You should also be mindful of where and when you give treats. Tossing your pet a morsel off of your plate while seated at the dinner table will only encourage begging, and nobody wants that! Feed treats away from the table and only if your pet is eating his regular food on a consistent basis.

Bon Appétit!

– Kait.

Do cats see colour?

When you look at a rainbow in the sky, you see shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo,and violet. Do you ever wonder what your cat sees when he looks at a rainbow? Can your feline friend distinguish the same range of colour that you do? Does he see bands of black and white? Do the colours look blurred?

How cats see colour is a long-standing topic of research and the results are pretty amazing.While cats can’t appreciate all the colours that humans do, their world is not entirely black and white. In fact, cats live in a pretty colourful world.

What makes a colour so “colourful?”

Colour is discerned by the nerve cells in the eye. The retina of the eye has two main types of cells–rods and cones. The ability to differentiate cat6colours is determined by the presence of the special colour sensitive cells called “cones.” Human and feline eyes have three types of cones that can identify combinations of red, blue, and green. But because humans have 10 times more cones than cats do, they appreciate more colour variations. In scientific observations, cats don’t appear to perceive the full range of colours that humans can. Some scientists believe that cats see only blue and gray, while others think they see also see yellow like their canine counterparts.

Just as cones are responsible for distinguishing colours, rods have a special job to do as well. Rods detect light levels and motion. Cats have more rods than humans do, giving them the edge when it comes to seeing in low light or identifying moving objects.

How does a cat’s vision compare to human vision?

Just because cats don’t appreciate the entire spectrum of colour that humans do, that doesn’t mean they don’t perceive
different colours. They just may not see the “true” colour of an object. They are also less sensitive to changes in rightness, so they don’t have the ability to perceive colour in the rich, vibrant tones that we do.

In addition to colour perception, felines and humans have other visual differences. In some respects, feline vision is not as acute as human vision. Cats are more near-sighted than we are. When looking at an object from the same distance, the object may appear crisp to us, but blurred to our cats. For example, if a human sees an object clearly from a distance of 100 feet, it will appear blurry to a cat. In fact, the object will not appear sharp until the cat is much closer to it, about 20 feet away.

What are other visual differences between cats and people?

To compensate for these minor deficiencies felines have other visual advantages. Cats have eyes that are set more on the sides of the head, which allows them a broader range of peripheral vision than we have. The trade-off is a smaller range of visual acuity so cats don’t have the depth perception that we do.

Also, cats have elliptical pupils that dilate to the max, allowing them to capture as much light as possible. They also have reflective cells under the retina which form the tapetum. The tapetum gives cats the “shiny eye” appearance and also improves their ability to see in dim light.

“When compared to humans, cats see better in dim light (dusk and dawn) and more accurately detect motion.” 

Cats also have more rod cells in the retina than their human friends. Rods are responsible for detecting motion, even small movements at great distances. So, when compared to humans, cats see better in dim light (dusk and dawn) and more accurately detect motion.

Why do cats see what they see? 

Cats are equipped with the visual accommodations that allow them to survive and thrive in the wild. Seeing well in dim light and picking up slight movements in the forest at great distances improve the cat’s hunting ability. These assets also help a cat know when HE is the prey and needs to flee.

Knowing how and what your cat can see will help you make good choices for her. For example, you should keep your cat’s colour range in mind when shopping for toys. He will enjoy yellow and blue toys more than red ones. And you’ll understand why he suddenly becomes alert while sitting on the windowsill as he hones in on a bird flying 50 yards away. You’ll also know that to get his complete attention, you should stand directly in front of him where his range of visual acuity is greatest.

“Your cat will enjoy yellow and blue toys more than red ones.” 

And the next time you are lucky enough to be graced with a rainbow in the sky, rest assured that your cat can enjoy it, too. He won’t see ALL the colours of the rainbow, but he may see a bit of yellow and blue. And that’ll be just fine for him!

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Lynn Buzhardt, DVM
© Copyright 2015 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

Mud, dogs and other stuff!

muddy pic 001

The joys of spring are upon us.

Warmer weather, longer days, melting snow, wet mucky backyards and parks and of course, rain! But, it’s been a long cold winter and this is a welcoming sign of better days to come. This is the time when wet muddy feet track through our homes and worse yet we see what has melted away in the backyard.

Ugh!

Lots of poop and scooping to be done!!! What we have to keep in mind is the importance of cleaning this up and cleaning it up well! A truly disgusting fact to add to this, is some dogs have a condition called ‘coprophagia’ which means that they eat ‘poop’!!!

Gross, right??

Absolutely! But it is a fact. Now, some dogs do this because they truly have a need to. It may be caused by a lack of nutrients in their food to medical conditions that cause them to have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients.  Also, some diseases, i.e. diabetes, Cushing’s, thyroid conditions, can actually cause an increase in appetite which leads to coprophagia. If you have an adult dog that is new to this behaviour, please contact our office, Snelgrove Vet Services in Brampton to schedule an appointment. If this is a young puppy it may be just a new adventure. Some puppies sniff poop, then play with poop and eventually taste poop and unfortunately, inadvertently, because they get lots of attention for doing this, we end up actually reinforcing this behaviour.

So, now the big question. How do we STOP this???

Well, the obvious first step is to stop access to it!!!

Then, if it’s an older dog that has never shown this behaviour before , take them to a vet. If it’s a new dog or you recently acquired a new dog and the previous dog is eating the vice versas, clean well after ever bowel movement and hopefully it will stop. If you have recently changed food brands considering going back to their previous food. If you have recently placed your dog on a diet or started exercising them more, consider increasing their food intake.

In puppies, don’t punish the behaviour itself, try to distract the puppy away from it before it gets a chance to eat it. Try calling him/her to you as soon as they have eliminated and upon coming to you, give them a treat. This rewards the dog for the behaviour of, after every bowel movement, YOU will give it a treat. Then clean it up promptly.

Amazingly many types of internal parasites (worms) can survive throughout the winter months. So the better we clean the less our chances of our pets acquiring these wiggly friends.

Don’t forget this also applies to trip to the park. Melting snow can reveal all sorts of hidden dangers. Everything from broken glass, to moldy, rotten food waste and worse, different dog poop! A new sort of treat. LOL