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Cat Health – Keeping Them Purr-fect

Hi Pet Blog Readers,

Please welcome guest blogger Lilly Sheperd!  Today she has a post that asks us to be proactive in regard to the health of our friendly felines.  She covers how important preventative maintenance can be for your cat and how crucial it is for them to engage in exercise and activity while also enjoying a good diet.  If you have any questions, comments or tips of your own for keeping your cats healthy please let us know in the comments section.  Thanks!

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Cats are extremely agile and active pets known for their curiosity. For this reason, many humans find they are easily humored by the feline species’ innate sense of independence, and enjoy spending time with these furry little beholders of big personalities.

 

It is no wonder, then, that cat owners want to do whatever it takes to help their animal companions live long and healthy lives. Promoting longevity in your pet is not achieved by any miracle cure, but rather results from consistent effort throughout an entire cat’s life. By combining a well-rounded preventative care regimen, an increase in the amount of exercise your pet experiences, and a boost to the nutritional value of your cat’s diet, you may be able to carry your pet through over a decade of play, laughter, and fun.

 

Preventative Care Starts Early: Preparing Your Pet for a Long and Healthy Life

One of the most important aspects of health maintenance for your cat is preventative medicine – and prevention begins the moment that a cat is born. Staying up-to-date on regular vaccinations, anti-parasitic medications, and other preventative treatments can severely reduce the risk of your beloved pet developing illnesses and diseases. Since regulations regarding what medicines are required of domesticated animals often change, consultation with your veterinarian on an annual basis is necessary to help you ensure that you stay in compliance with policy.

 

Picture uploaded to Flickr by Zabby Allen.

Another key facet of preventative care for cats is maintenence of your pet’s dental hygiene – though it is often overlooked by pet owners. The process of taking care of your cat’s teeth and gums is relatively simple: with a small toothbrush and a pea-sized drop of toothpaste that is specially formulated for your cat’s mouth, gently massage the teeth and gum areas to remove plaque and any other buildup. Cats that are more finicky about the process of having their teeth brushed often can substitute crunchy dental health treats, designed to remove plaque as cats eat, for their brushing routine. Frequently serving crunchy dry food to your cat can also reduce the risk of buildup forming inside its mouth.

 

Achieving Regular Activity: Both Play and Exercise Are Critical to Cat Health

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It is very important for cats to have access to toys and enough space for adequate play each day. Surely, stereotypes tell us that cats are fat, lazy, and lounge around all day – and veterinarians agree that it is healthy for cats to have relaxation time as well. However, play can help build the strength of your pet’s muscles, and staying active can prevent troubles with your cat’s joints and ligaments over time. It is far easier for active cats to maintain a healthy weight through engagement in exercise than simply through calorie restriction.

 

A Nutritious Diet: A Central Part of a Cat’s Healthy Lifestyle

Perhaps the most important part of a pet’s preventative care routine is the maintenance of a healthy, balanced diet. A cat should have a daily diet of healthy cat food. The ideal cat food brand has a high level of animal proteins, and is chock-full of vitamins and minerals that promote your cat’s health. Look for trusted brands that, unlike generic brands, have certification stamps of their safety, and use meats, carbohydrates, and other ingredients that are natural and of high quality. Access to a fresh bowl of clean water is also a key part of maintaining bodily health for a cat.

 

Did you know that over 54% of the cat population in the United States is overweight? Veterinarians warn that extra weight is an early indicator of disease, and can lead to kidney failures, heart disease, and other kitty illnesses over time. Weight management is based in part on portion control, but also depends upon the food’s nutritional quality. For more information about what your pet’s particular dietary needs are, consult your veterinarian.

 

 

This is a guest post by Lilly Sheperd. She is freelance writer, occasional guest blogger and pet lover.

Rabbit Health: How a Misaligned Jaw Almost Killed my Pet Rabbit

Despite being partially blind, Matthew the rabbit is easily one of the liveliest pets in my house. His outgoing personality, penchant for mischief, and insistent foot stomps for attention are both endearing and frustrating. So, when boisterous Matthew huddled in the back of his cage one night and refused to eat or play, we knew something was wrong. When his head suddenly listed to one side and his muscles tensed minutes later, we were terrified that we were losing our little mischief-maker.

Fortunately, Matthew survived. Quick online research confirmed what we already thought; Matthew had suffered a stroke, though minor enough that he regained most of his muscle control. We scheduled a veterinarian appointment and monitored him carefully in the meantime. While he could nibble some of his pellets and try to chew with his right, the left side of his face seemed locked and stiff, and he could not move his lips enough to grasp hay or fully close his right eye.

We figured this was a result of the stroke only, but our veterinarian found a root cause that surprised us. After determining that Matthew’s lips still had circulation and feeling, he used a scope to view Matthew’s back teeth, which are tightly positioned back by the cheeks and almost impossible to examine otherwise.  After this check, our vet informed us that Matthew’s jaw was slightly misaligned, causing one of his back left teeth to wear improperly. This created a sharp, uncomfortable point that discouraged him from using that side correctly for a while. The area underneath this tooth became infected, and the infection’s swelling had likely triggered the stroke. While the movement of his left facial muscles would slowly return, the pain from the tooth and infection was discouraging him from using them. Matthew required a few weeks of antibiotics to overcome the infection, along with some rabbit-safe painkiller and anti-inflammatory to encourage proper use of the pointed tooth.

While the vet explained that sedating Matthew and physically filing the back tooth was an option, he did not recommend this after such a high health risk as a stroke. He explained that the location and of the tooth and current discomfort made filing without anesthesia impossible, and our safest bet for Matthew was to see if we could get him to use that side again himself. He also recommended purchasing rabbit-safe cardboard tubes to chew. Unlike normal wooden chews, these would be softer and help prevent making the sensitive area sore. If Matthew still could not wear his tooth enough to be comfortable, sedation and filing was still an option, but it would indicate that he would likely need it every couple of months. Placing a sensitive animal such as a rabbit under anesthesia so frequently is in itself risky, and he suggested we wait on that option unless it seemed necessary.

We left the vet’s office both fearful and optimistic, armed with information, medicine, and a powdered probiotic food to maintain Matthew’s digestive system after his time spent with inadequate eating. As his poor muscle control made using a water bottle difficult, we also boosted his fluid intake with feeding syringes. Providing dishes of water was a poor idea for Matthew; with his poor vision and compromised health, he merely kept his distance from the unfamiliar shape.

After a few days, slow improvements began to show. Matthew’s energy was returning, and he no longer sulked in the back of his cage. He began eating his pellets more regularly and could use his water bottle again, and we stopped the supplemented feed soon after he began his first clumsy bites of hay. He could fully blink his left eye, and movement returned to the left side of his face.

As of today, Matthew seems to be recovered and shows no difficulty grasping, chewing, or biting. While there is no way to correct his conformation, the medications assisted him enough to begin wearing the tooth more properly. I’ve seen many different health conditions in rabbits, but I never expected such an unusual cause as a poor jaw alignment jaw to potentially cause something as serious as a stroke. The vet suggested keeping a close watch for any changes in behavior, as infections as he had can be difficult to truly eliminate in rabbits and might eventually reoccur. For now, Matthew is himself again: stomping for attention, digging at the floor, and watching the activity around him with an alert curiosity.

 

 

Battling Bad Dog Breath

48/365 - Puppy Kisses!Most of us love getting lots of smooches from our pets, but sometimes their breath is so stinky it just isn’t enjoyable anymore. This is clearly a problem that many pet owners face as there are hundreds of products on the market today aimed at battling bad breath including toys, mints, gels, pastes and liquids. How do you decide what to try?

Gross! Dog Breath!Many parents of foul-breath pets don’t realize that the odor can be caused by more than just plaque and bacteria. Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a sign of a more serious malady. If you notice that your pet’s breath is fouler than usual, the best advice I can give you is to visit your veterinarian to rule out serious problems like digestive issues, oral disease or tooth decay, lung conditions, kidney or liver disease, and even diabetes. If your dog has serious oral problems or shows signs of tooth decay, you may want to set up an appointment at your vet’s office for a thorough cleaning.

Once serious disease and oral conditions have been ruled out or treated, it is time to start a regular oral hygiene regimen. You’ll be most successful if you start regularly cleaning your dog’s teeth when he’s a puppy so he becomes used to the sensations, but move slowly in introducing your pet to this new grooming procedure whether he is young or old. Read More »

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