Pet Dental Health

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Yuliia Sonsedska

 

I’m sure the majority of you are well aware about the importance of good dental health, but have you ever thought how important good dental health is in your pets?  Just as in humans, the mouths of your pets are teeming with bacteria, and some of those bacteria can enter the digestive tract, respiratory tract, and bloodstream, and cause disease, particularly in the heart, lung, and kidneys.

Another factor to consider in our pets is the fact that we have domesticated these animals over the millenia, and as a result, they no longer depend on hunting to procure their food.  This means that the natural form of teeth cleaning, in essence, gnawing and tearing at the flesh of their prey, has, for the most part, been eliminated, and replaced with dry kibble and canned foods.  Eighty percent of pet dogs and cats who have had no dental cleaning or intervention show signs of oral disease by the time they are 3 years old.

I take all of this very seriously with my pets, and I am diligent about taking them in every six months for non-anesthetic dental cleaning.  It’s worth the financial expense, even though I struggle to pay for their dental care twice a year.  The way I see it, I’d rather take them in for regular dental cleaning than to put them at risk for a myriad of diseases, and have them suffer needlessly as a result.  I’ve been taking them in for regular cleanings from the time they were young adults, and they have had mild issues with no need for a more aggressive cleaning with anesthetic.  I realize that they may at some point need cleaning under anesthesia, but until we cross that bridge, I will continue to take them in for the anesthesia-free option.

There are definitely some limitations with non-anesthetic teeth cleaning for pets, such as the fact that only the plaque above the gum line can be removed.  The veterinarian examines the pet’s teeth and gums to determine if there is any inflammation or sign of infection, and if there are any findings which are beyond the scope of the non-anesthetic cleaning crew, the pet is referred for cleaning with anesthesia.

Overall, if you aren’t paying attention to your pet’s teeth and gums, you should.  It’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian at your next visit what he or she recommends in the way of dental care.  There are dental chews which help to clean the teeth, and some very brave pet owners actually brush their pet’s teeth.  Your vet will help determine the best care regimen for your beloved pet.

 

Pets and Your Health

42089792 - woman with her dog tender scene

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I don’t know how I would get through difficult days without my three wonderful cats. Tenshi, Shima, and Kazu are so special to me that I always look forward to coming home and seeing their sweet faces. Those of you who have pets to whom you are closely bonded know how comforting it is to come home to them. Animals are capable of deep, unconditional love which is unparalleled. A pet won’t care that you look all disheveled from battling a grueling day. If you are distraught, a pet will make you smile and perhaps even laugh with cute and silly antics. Pets are natural antidepressants, and create the perfect distraction when you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself or ruminate over something which is only causing you anguish.

Pets are wonderful for our well-being and spiritual health.

It turns out that owning a pet also confers physical health benefits as well. Pet owners enjoy a reduction in stress and anxiety, which has a positive impact on blood pressure. Another very striking and unexpected benefit to having pets is a decrease in a child’s chances of developing allergies to animals. The decreased chance of developing allergies to animals in small children who live with animals is as high as 30 percent, according to research conducted by pediatrician James E. Gern which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Gern conducted a number of studies on children exposed to pets, all of which concluded that children who were exposed at an early age to animals tended to develop stronger immune systems overall, and were far less likely to develop pet-related allergies.

When I think of friends who have allergies to cats or dogs, most of them did not grow up with a pet in the house. I also did not grow up with a family pet per se, unless you count the two rabbits I had in fourth grade for about six months. My mother was so fed up with them that she sold them to a pet store, and that was that. But I spent extended periods of time petting and hanging out with numerous outdoor cats in the neighborhood, enough so that I had a regular exposure to them. I also spent weekends with my dad’s dog, or with his friends’ dogs, so the exposure was steady.

I honestly believe that early and regular exposure to pets is a boon to immune health in young children. And since there is a large body of scientific evidence to back that up, why not get a family pet for your children to love?

SureFlap Microchip Pet Feeders

http://www.sureflap.com

For the past two years, I have tried just about every tactic to train my obese European Burmese cat Kazu to eat a special diet. We put her on scheduled feedings, only giving her wet food, and tried to ban her from the dry kibble which we needed to leave out for the other two cats (both of whom are normal weight). Kazu continued to sneak dry kibble throughout each day, despite being scolded for doing so.

After all my unsuccessful efforts to get Kazu on a unique feeding schedule, I was at my wit’s end. Then a couple of people suggested that I purchase a microchip pet feeder. I looked up microchip feeders online and discovered SureFlap Microchip Pet Feeders. I almost keeled over when I saw the price of these units: $149. What’s worse is that I knew I had to purchase TWO of these feeders, since Kazu would have to be trained on one feeder, while Tenshi and Shima would be trained on the other.

I saved up so that I could buy two feeders. $365 later (I had to purchase C batteries, as well as extra RFID tags since only one tag comes with each feeder, and we have three cats), I was ready to give them a try.

The training period consists of five stages, in which the door progresses from remaining completely open (stage 1), closes a small amount (stage 2), then closes incrementally more until stage 5 when the door closes completely, only opening for the pet who is programmed to the feeder. The idea with the incremental training is that the pets will eventually understand that the closed door will open when they approach the feeder to which they are programmed.

Without going into agonizing detail, I will say that it took a good six weeks before my cats finally understood how the feeders worked. They were so afraid of the devices at first that I honestly began to doubt whether the system would work for my household. As soon as the door would move back or forward, my cats would just freak out, so we were at training level 2 (the door only moves a small amount and the chamber is very accessible) for close to 3 weeks.

I’m not sure how I feel about these things. While they are well constructed and work well, they are inaccessible to people who can’t afford the units. In addition, our household STILL hasn’t progressed beyond the training setting, because when the doors are completely closed (as they are in regular post-training mode), my cats don’t consistently understand that all they have to do is approach the feeders for the doors to open.

What this basically means is that I must have dry kibble available to all three cats in both feeders, which completely defeats the purpose of buying these devices in the first place. I purchased these feeders THREE MONTHS AGO. In addition, all three cats race into the kitchen when I enter it, and beg for wet food like starving street urchins. I relent, because I want to make sure my babies are fed.

Kazu just keeps getting fatter, while my wallet is definitely slimmer from purchasing the devices which mainly serve to startle and confuse my entire brood.

My Blue Burmese LOVES Hugs And Kisses

I never realized how few people have bonding experiences with cuddly cats. I also guess I am lucky to have had several of the most affectionate cats. My blue Burmese absolutely loves to be hugged, and he adores kisses. It is rather common for me to pepper his cute little forehead with a barrage of kisses, which I know most cats would never tolerate.

Tenshi has gotten to the point that he expects and demands hugs and kisses from his humans. If I don’t hug and kiss him hello, he gets grumpy! Check out my video of him getting kisses.

This Is What $54 Worth Of Good Cat Food Looks Like…

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For the past several weeks, I have been re-training my European Burmese cat Kazu to eat moist cat food so that she will lose weight. She is a very fussy eater, and it has been a guessing game, trying to determine which foods she will eat. My conclusion is that Kazu will only eat food which has had little to no processing, and is considered “human grade”. This little lady is insisting on a whole food diet, which is fine with me, but the kind of food she likes is expensive!

Today I decided to stock up, so I went to C&C Pet Foods (great place for discounted pet food in Burbank) and purchased 32 three ounce cans, 6 three ounce pouches and 1 six ounce can, which came to a total of $54. That’s pretty pricey if you ask me! However, Kazu has refused other brands of foods, so I have to stick with a small handful of brands (Tiki Cat, Weruva, and B.F.F.) which are not available at stores like Petco or PetSmart.

If you have a finicky pet, I would HIGHLY recommend these brands of pet food, because they are high quality and quite palatable to most pets.

My Cat Needs A Body Transformation

For the first time in the thirty years that I have had cats, I share my home and my heart with an obese cat. My six year old European Burmese Kazu is of small stature, and her normal weight should be somewhere around nine pounds. She was nine pounds until just under a year ago, when her weight began creeping up. I noticed instead of walking down the stairs like she used to do, she hopped down the stairs, mainly as a result of her increasing belly girth and her short legs, both of which interfered with normal transit.

8.18.15 Kazu

One day in May, my roommate remarked that Kazu was rather stout, then began asking questions about her. Since my roommate was new to the household, she could clearly see that my cat was overweight. Was she constipated? Well, yes, Kazu has had bouts of constipation since kittenhood. Did Kazu drink enough water? Yes, I think she does. Does Kazu overeat? Honestly, I really don’t think so. Kazu doesn’t usually beg for food, and she normally doesn’t like moist cat food or people food. Out of concern for my little girl, I took her to the vet, who told me that my cat was fat and that there was nothing I could do about it. I then got a second opinion which was the same. I then addressed the constipation issue by trying glycerin suppositories, but there wasn’t much of a change in Kazu’s bowel habits, and neither of us enjoyed the process.

By early August, Kazu’s weight shot up to twelve pounds, which prompted me to take her to a third vet. Thankfully, that vet (Dr. Lavely at Limehouse Veterinary) was willing to take the time to chat at length about the problems which I had regarding switching the household to scheduled feeding times (erratic schedule, often not home, greedy male cat who eats everything, Kazu’s finicky palate). It’s been about a week since we visited Dr. Lavely, and the feeding has definitely been very erratic, which is why I still have dry food out at all times for the cats to eat. I keep trying to give Kazu people food and moist cat food, but her response is inconsistent. On some days, she readily accepts the food I put out for her, while on other days, she barely even sniffs the food before walking away. I am hoping that Kazu begins to accept the offerings I give her, because that is the only way she will lose weight. I even bought a very expensive moist cat food which has human grade ingredients in hopes that she transitions over to moist food. My goal is to get her to lose three pounds in a healthy way over the next year. Kazu is relatively active and plays with her siblings frequently. She also plays toys and is the only cat out of the three who knows how to play fetch and even initiates games of fetch on a regular basis.

I guess Kazu is my first feline body transformation client!

Feeding Time

My tubby girl Kazu

My tubby girl Kazu

Over the past year, my European Burmese cat Kazu has put on considerable weight, and is now rather tubby at 11.5 pounds when she really should be 9.5 pounds. Since I have never had an overweight cat before, and also since my other two cats are rather svelte, I am wracking my brain trying to figure out a solution which would get Kazu to drop weight. When I took Kazu to the vet to investigate her sudden weight gain, the vet told me that all I could really do was to address her chronic constipation via dietary fiber and glycerin suppositories. When I tried feeding Kazu wet food with fiber mixed in, she refused it, but I wasn’t surprised since she isn’t a fan of canned food. On the one occasion in which I decided to try a suppository on her, neither she nor I were happy about the experience, and though I think the treatment helped to move things along a bit that day, I am not convinced that the mild boost in bathroom activity warranted me torturing my poor cat on a regular basis.

I feed my cats a low calorie, high protein, grain-free, dry formula to which they have free range all day. This is partially because I have always done that with the cats I have had since 1986, and because I am always so freakishly busy that I am gone for the entire day and unable to accommodate scheduled feedings. Kazu’s breeder suggested that I consider a timed feeder, but that wouldn’t work in our household because my American Burmese boy Tenshi is so food-motivated that he would chomp down all the food in the feeder, leaving none for the other two cats to eat.

I think at this point, I will try to add fiber by another means, and will measure out food so that about 1/3 cup of dry food is allotted per cat per day. I will have to portion the food out in the morning before I leave and just keep an eye on how much Kazu is actually consuming, though I know she isn’t a big eater. In addition, I have been trying to get Kazu to exercise more, even though she is relatively active. All three of my cats play “grab-ass” (my favorite terminology for the rough-housing they all do) on most days, and Kazu loves playing fetch with socks and toys, so I will try to encourage as much play as I can when I am home. It isn’t exactly easy to put a six year old cat on an exercise plan, but if I can do it for humans, I am certainly up for the challenge with a feline!