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Teeth, and Ears and Paws! Oh My!

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It should come to no surprise that regular and proper maintenance of your pet insures a happy, healthy and pro-active life! But all to often it’s the little things that seem to build up, often times overlooked or neglected. Many people come in for both cats and dogs to get regular grooming but many are unaware of the importance of what might seem as “the small stuff.” In this blog post we’ll tackle three most commonly overlooked body parts of your cat and dog that often times impact their health.

Teeth are an essential aspect to a carnivore like a dog or a cat, obviously their used for eating. Dog and cat dentistry is vitally important to keep up those healthy purly whites of theirs. Without proper maintenance you can run into a serious risk of loss of teeth. This is one reason why it’s important they have hard foods over soft foods to eat, this will help reinforce the teeth. The most common aspect of lack of animal dentistry is gum problems. It’s estimated that 85% of canines (for example) over the age of 4 develop some form of gum disease. Other common problems with teeth include cracking, the loss and crooked teeth which can cause infection.

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The loss of teeth is usually due to some sort of gum disease in older dogs. It’s important to understand that if this happens it’s important to make an appointment with your vet ASAP as this could be a sign of illness. Mangled teeth, or crooked teeth, can cause problems with eating. It’s important to use proper toys, for both dogs and cats. A good indication if a toy isn’t good is if there is blood left over after the animal has played with set item. The real problem comes when plaque begins to build and is left untreated.

Plaque untreated can cause gingivitis and eventually cause periodontal disease among other gum related problems.

Though it’s quite important to have hard things for dogs especially to chew on, it’s also important to understand when items are too rough or problematic. Chewing the wrong thing can cause tooth trauma, and eventually this could potentially lead to cracking or crooked teeth and left untreated can cause infection.

From a cracked or broken tooth comes tooth root abscess, this is a very painful and problematic bacterial infection. This happens when the root of the tooth comes into contact with bacteria, and thus causes an infection. If this has happened it’s important to see a veterinarian immediately. It’s a very painful and agonizing experience for your pet.

There are many, many wonderful products for breath, mouth and teeth found in pet stores specifically for the mouth of your pet; often times they are toys, sprays, liquids, treats, foods and brushes geared for protection and maintenance of teeth, gums, tongue, breath and mouth!

Moving away from teeth and moving unto ears.

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Ears that consistently have build up, that has been left unchecked, can cause problems of infections and temporary deafness. Not only that, the build up in ears can encourage the presence of mites. Ears are very sensitive, especially in cats. Without proper maintenance of your pets ears you run the risk of damaging the ear which can lead to further problems down the road. Another common problem is blood blisters, this is where blood accumulates in the ear flap. This usually comes due to mites, fleas and infections.

Lastly the paws.

Though nails are common, people just seem to overlook it. If nails aren’t properly maintained it can cause walking problems and nerve problems in the nails. It can be very painful. Overgrowth is quite common, in minor cases it causes discomfort and difficulty of walking. In extreme cases it can cause separation of toes, arthritis, problems with the paws themselves and bone problems. With paws themselves, they can be easily scratched and torn open, which can lead to infection. That’s why dog boots are very much encouraged for those who walk their dogs in forested areas for example. The protection of your cat and dog pads and nails is crucial.

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When all of these things are taken into consideration and properly looked after, not only will you have a healthy, happy pet but one where you minimize the risk of severe problems in the future. A healthy pet, is a happy pet, and a happy pet is a happy you!

Rabbits

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rabbit

You’ll be my favorite creature
And here’s the reason why:
Your eyes are bright, your feet are swift
Your ears hear round the bend
But your very simple humbleness
Will steal the heart of men.
Together we shall thwart the pains
The gods do throw to earth
And turn aside their fiery darts
With merriment and mirth.
And when time comes that men forget
The lessons animals render
T’will be the humble rabbit
That mankind will remember.–S.J. Tucker, “Rabbit’s Song”

Rabbits have been increasingly popular pets, not only are they cute and fuzzy, they are also quite intelligent able to learn a number of tricks and even (to the delight of parents) learn how to be potty-trained.

Rabbits make great pets for a variety of home situations. Whether you have time on your hands or are a busy bee, Rabbits are more than capable of entertaining themselves while retaining their tameness and docile natures. However, it’s important that your Rabbit is able to interact with all members of the family on a frequent regular basis.

Though people often think that rabbits are content little animals put into small cages, it’s important to understand that these are active little guys and it’s important to have a relatively large cage for them to interact in, as well as sometime outside of their cage. It’s important to have a close supervision while a rabbit is roaming and playing outside of the cage else you might find it chewing your wires, your furniture and your walls!

Rabbits are also smarter than people realize, they are more than capable to learn tricks (such as sit or play dead) as well as certain behaviours that will benefit you as well–such as potty training.

Properly introduced rabbits can also make wonderful pet pals with other animals in the home, including dogs and cats.

Being a prey animal rabbits are often timid animals, quick to run at loud noises and sudden movements, it’s important to train your children (if you happen to have any) how to approach and handle rabbits appropriately and respectfully. Rabbits are loving and cuddly pets (though there are exceptions) and with their gentle natures and brain of theirs they will often come and play with members of the family voluntary. Some are even eager to play, standing on their hind legs.

Let’s talk about diet. It’s important get a good high value diet specifically geared for rabbits, you should be looking for a higher fibre content–for example Living World Extrusion. However, you should also be giving your rabbits hay (such as Timothy Hay), it is one of the most important factors in a rabbit’s diet. It’s full of fibre, which is instrumental to keeping that gut in good working condition.

Though not technically a “food” source, appropriate chew toys and treats (such as yogurt drops) are wonderful sources of entertainment, cutting down the teeth that continuously grow and provide a good balance of vitamins to a rabbit’s diet.

Of course there are various fruits and veggies that you can feed your rabbit as well to help balance and maintain a good diet. Stay away from potatoes, avocado, cabbage and onions (there are just some foods they can’t eat). Good foods you can give are dandelion (be careful of pesticides and insecticides), radishes, carrots, apples (no core or seeds), strawberries, raspberries, plums, celery and pears.

Playing with your rabbit can be one of the most rewarding experiences, not only are they quick to pick up concepts, they are quite engaging. Once you’ve gained their trust they are more than happy to interact. Capable of learning their names, like dogs many come when they are called, loved to be petted and played with, but thankfully like cats rabbits can also entertain themselves and take care of themselves. They are good pets for both the busy and not so busy household.

Rabbits, however, if playing outside should be carefully watched–not only are there predators on land and sky, but they are also quite susceptible to heat and are quicker to get heat stroke than we are. They should be given fresh, clean and cool water on hot days, and if you find the heat hard to deal with imagine how your rabbit is feeling.

There are countless species of rabbits, the most common are your lion heads, dwarves and regulars. There are also dutch, angora, rex, mini rex, silver marten and much, much more. Each equally making great pets.

These humble animals will be quick to win your hearts and affection, they are one pet that is quickly over looked, but perhaps shouldn’t be. They are simply wonderful pets to own, with their easy maintenance, ease of learning tricks and behaviors and their affectionate natures.

Who said bunnies were small?

Who said bunnies were small?

lion head

Chinchilla

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IMG_0040The Chinchilla is among one of the most exotic and probably one of the most prized of the rodent family as pets. In this blog post we will be discussing Chinchillas! The post will include animal husbandry, common illnesses and diseases, special requirements and what they are like as pets.

Chinchillas are native to the Andes mountains in South America, making them very robust little critters. They often live in colonies and they are named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who like the Chinchilla once wore its dense, velvet-like fur. The name of Chinchillas can be translated to “Little Chincha.” Chinchillas are well known for the fur, anyone who has the privilege to touch one knows just how soft and warm it can be, this fur helps them regulate their natural body temperature (along with dust) because unlike us as humans, they do not sweat.

Chinchillas are active little creatures, requiring extensive exercise in and out of their cages. Like most other rodents, their teeth will continue to grow, and therefore they will require all sorts of blocks and woods to help keep them from growing to long. Living in colonies means they require daily interaction from their owners, and because of their unique fur coats they require a dust bath (which can be purchased at most pet stores), this dust bath not only helps clean the fur, it also helps regulate the body temperature by mimicking the way we can.

Chinchillas require a special diet, they cannot efficiently process high protein or fatty foods meaning sunflowers, most seeds and raisins are off the market. A high-quality hay based diet with specially made pellets or Chinchilla food will meet all the dietary needs for the Chinchilla. They also aren’t big drinkers, so it is doubtful you will witness them drinking as frequently as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.

Chinchillas also have fantastic hearing, making them sensitive to loud and disruptive noises. For this reason most experts will tell you that they don’t make great family pets, and aren’t good for children. A family that is well prepared, however, and understand the need of their animal can maintain a perfectly healthy Chinchilla without the problems that often result to their sensitive loud behaviours. This behaviour includes weight loss, heart attacks, plucking and aggressiveness.

People are often surprised at how large a Chinchilla can reach, as such they should have a large enough cage for them to run and play around, and enough toys to keep their paws and teeth busy. They are also fragile animals, and also quite quick, another reason why they aren’t particularly good for children under the age of 8. Children who aren’t careful often get bitten and aggressive behaviour in the Chinchilla can develop.

Despite this seemingly dominating nature, Chinchillas make wonderful pets for the right homes. Like most mammals, they are capable of having multiple and individual relationships with all members of their “colonies” making each relationship in the family unique, rich and rewarding on its own. They are often quite affectionate, and enjoy been cuddled despite their energetic natures, they bond closely and readily with their members of the family–making them loyal and loveable creatures.

Chinchillas also happen to be nocturnal creatures, this means they are active at night, they are often considered more active during the hours of dusk and dawn, and during these times it isn’t unusual for them to “bark.”

Chinchillas, for a rodent, have a large “vocabulary” to express various emotions. One of the most common of these vocabulary is what we like to call barking. Barking, as you might imagine, is similar to that of a dog, and usually signifies excitement, or like birds, a call to their family. Be prepared for this barking during dusk and dawn at peek hours. They are also known for spitting, hissing, grunting, chirping and other similar noises.

Chinchillas have a dark history, something that most owners don’t know about, and that is the fur industry. They are well known for their fur, and they are highly sought out for their velvet-like, soft furs to make into jackets, boots, mittens, hats and other clothing items. Chinchilla fur-farming can be traced right back to the 16th century. Due to fur farming, the numbers of Chinchilla have diminished, but due to certain laws implemented 19th century, their population has risen and it is now quite rare to find their fur on the market.

Overall, Chinchillas make wonderful pets for the right families, and are unique, exotic and fascinating animals. As pets they are affectionate, loveable, playful and curious. They have a wide vocabulary for a rodent, and express themselves in very unique ways. They require a dust bath to help regular their body temperatures, and to keep themselves clean, and in the right families they will make a wonderful addition to these homes.

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