Dog Park Dos and Donts

dog park

Your dog is giving you that look again, isn’t he? He keeps staring at this leash, then at your car keys, then at the window, back to your car keys, back to his leash, then back to you. It’s clear what he wants: he just wants to go see his friends at the park, mom.

While you’re sympathetic to his want to socialize, you may also be wondering what going to the dog park means for you. Are there certain rules you have to follow? Are there there ways your dog is expected to behave? What does being a good dog park goer entail?

We’ll break all that down and more in the following article. Let’s get started!

Dos

Make Sure Your Dog is Vaccinated

dog park etiquetteBefore you even consider bringing your dog to the park, you have to make sure that he’s gotten his shots. This is both for the safety of other dogs in the park as well as their owners. In order to be considered fully up-to-date, your dog will need to have been vaccinated for rabies, kennel cough, leptospirosis, dog flu, hepatitis, parvo and and distemper. Additionally, the American Kennel Club recommends that dogs spending time in dog parks should be treated for fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

This may seem like an exhaustive list, but we can never be too safe when trying to keep our fellow four-legged friends and their pet parents safe from infectious agents. Before taking Sparky to the park, consult with your veterinarian to hash out a treatment plan that’s right for your dog. They may also suggest further steps to keep your dog and everyone else at the park safe.

Leash Your Dog (When Indicated)

dog in parkThis is a no-brainer, but it needs to be said: when you’re at a dog park, your dog and the other pups are all guests that must respect the rules of the park. That means, when you’re in a designated leash area, you must leash your dog. Beyond being compliant, it’s also just a common-sense safety measure. You don’t want your unleashed pup to go up to dogs who don’t feel comfortable enough with that level of friendliness. It can get ugly – fast. Not even mentioning the potential for dog-dog confrontation, an unleashed dog can pose a hazard to themselves by running away from the park and into the street.

To maximize safety, keep your dog on a leash when you first get to a dog park. Let your dog become acquainted with their surrounding area (and other dogs) from afar. Plus, you can stop them from picking up and eating any trash or litter from the ground. However, once you’re in the off-leash area, you should absolutely remove their leash so long as you feel it’s safe to do so. Off-leash dogs can more easily distinguish body language cues in other dogs that indicate their willingness to play than on-leash dogs,

Go In With a Preventative Mindset (but Know How to Take Charge)

While knowing how to take charge in a situation that is spiraling out of control is paramount to guaranteeing your dog’s safety, you should really aim to minimize the chance of such a situation from occurring in the first place. Luckily, there are a variety of ways for you to do this.

dog park rulesThe first step is to keep moving. This (hopefully) forces your dog to keep checking your position and follow you. However, it’s also important to be able to recall your dog if they’re too busy smelling the grass. In the event that they don’t come when called, don’t be afraid to go up and grab their collar. Be warned: if you have not trained them to be receptive to having their collar grabbed, this can quickly become a hassle.

That being said, you may want to let Fido go off and play with other dogs without mom and dad right there at his side. We understand. But that doesn’t mean that you can let Fido out of your sight. In fact, it’s imperative that you keep a close eye on your furry friend at all times. You need to moderate your dog’s interactions to ensure that any play remains friendly and to make sure your pup isn’t bothering some dog who just came to enjoy his one day off from.. Being a dog at home.

Speaking of interactions with other dogs: you need to know the signs of when play has turned sour if you’re going to keep your dog safe. It doesn’t matter if your dog is the hap-hap-happiest dog in the whole wide world – chances are, he might just catch another dog when they’re feeling ruff or just not in the mood to socialize. There are a few tell-tale signs that a strange dog is not in the mood to play with your dog: their stature will be tensed up, their head will be held high and lurched forward, their lips may be snarled, and their ears will be pointed up or forward.

If your dog begins to scrap with another pooch, you need to also know how to put a stop to it immediately. One of the most successful methods of breaking up two fighting dogs is known as the “wheelbarrow method”. This method sees two people grab the back legs of their dogs and pull them away from one another in a curving motion; this second part keeps the dogs from biting the person holding their legs.

CHowever, if one of the dogs has latched onto the other, it’s important that you break their grip before pulling them apart as this can harm the injured dog. To break a dog’s grip, slide a break stick into their mouth and towards the back of their throat and then twist. This should make them release their grip and make it safe to separate the dueling parties.

Clean Up After Your Pup

dog with diarrhea but acting fineLook, it’s common courtesy: if your dog poops, please clean up after him. Just come prepared to scoop, bag, and dispose of his waste. Not only is leaving his waste everywhere really unpleasant to look at (and smell), but it’s also unsanitary!

Just be a good steward of your local dog park and help keep it clean. If you wouldn’t want someone to just leave their dog’s feces on your yard, why on Earth would you think it’s okay to leave an entire park infested with your dog’s droppings?

Just pick it up! A blog shouldn’t have to tell you this!

Be Packed

Like any day you might spend at the human park, you should come prepared with the appropriate supplies to ensure a good, safe time can be had by all. That means coming to the park equipped with a travel bowl and water and even some dog treats (just keep them in the car and out of sight of the other dogs, lest you be swarmed by hungry eyes).

Also, bringing along a doggy first aid kit isn’t a bad idea, either – you never know what sorts of shenanigans your pup might get up to that require you to render aid. Finally, given that more and more dog parks are being built with dog wash stations, you might want to bring along some dog shampoo and a towel too if your pup likes to get dirty and play around in the muck with his other four-legged companions.

Don’ts

Take Puppies

puppy treatment for ringwormsWhile socialization is an important part of raising any well-adjusted pooch, the dog park is not the place to do it. Puppies experience a critical socialization period from birth until they’re about four months old. During this time, they gain their first impressions of the world around them and will take these lessons into adulthood. It’s crucial that you expose them to many different kinds of dogs, people, and really as many other new animals as possible during this time so that they’re not afraid or skittish around them when they’re older. However, you must introduce them to these new beings in a controlled setting where he can be comforted and assured that what’s being introduced to him is good.

At a dog park, there’s very little you can control. Sure, most dog parks are filled with responsible pet parents who would know better than to let their hulking Great Dane trample over your fur baby. However, it only takes a handful of bad experiences with dogs who weren’t being watched correctly to transform the dog park into a torturous place for your pup.

Allow Your Dog to Pester or Bully Other Dogs

dog running to burn off energyThere’s a whole lot we can say about this, but we think it’s best to keep it simple: if you wouldn’t want your kid to behave a certain way with another kid, chances are you shouldn’t let your dog behave the same way. When you see your dog and a pal ganging up on another, smaller or older dog, stop them immediately! Dogs who bully other dogs kill the vibe of the whole park and ruin the experience for other dogs.

Similarly, if you see your dog about to mount another dog, stop them! While it may be just another behavior in their repertoire, this move isn’t likely to be welcomed by all dogs in the park. If you notice your dog is trying to mount another dog, body-block them to stop the behavior and repeat as many times as it takes them to get the message. You may even have to take your dog outside the park to calm down for a minute if they’re too excited. However, don’t be afraid to do this: the other dogs and their parents will appreciate it greatly!

Take Unneutered Dogs or Dogs Who Are in Heat

Happy DogUnneutered or intact male dogs who are over the age of one shouldn’t come to the dog park. At this point in their life, dogs are becoming fully mature and may begin displaying more dominant, aggressive behavior rooted in their desires to attract a mate. This same behavior can then begin to show up in unwelcome settings, such as at a dog park with dogs who are just trying to play. If you notice your dog is beginning to act aggressively towards other dogs, consider getting them neutered as soon as you can.

In that same vein, it is extremely ill-advised to take an in-tact (unspayed) female dog who is in season (in heat) to a dog park. For starters, you probably aren’t looking to breed your female with an unknown dog who can’t control himself. Also, if other in-tact males are in the dog park, your female may cause them to stir up trouble and cause fighting. When in doubt, just remember: if your dog has not had their baby making capacities reduced, keep them away from the dog park.

Disobey Size Regulations

types of dog earsWe get it. Your little floof got his name, Scrappy, because he’s able to hold his own against your bigger dogs during playtime. Thus, you reason, it makes no sense that he should be partitioned away from his bigger brothers during their visit to the dog park. However, there’s plenty of valid reasons why your small dog shouldn’t mingle with the beefier canines in the park.

For starters, even small dogs who are friendly with all the other big dogs can easily get hurt if they’re in and around a group of much larger dogs who are playing. Not every big dog is agile enough to leap out of the way of a small dog who is bouncing around, and not every small dog is aware enough of their surroundings to get out of the way of inbound big dogs. It’s naive to believe that strange animals will accommodate our pets’ size.

Additionally, and perhaps more crucially, small dogs don’t really stand a chance against larger breeds if a fight were to break out. Bigger dogs are simply stronger and more able to seriously and quickly damage a small dog. This is not to say that big dogs are inherently prone to preying upon and harming small dogs. It simply means that big dogs have numerous advantages in a fight.

Regardless of whether you practically live at the dog park or it’s about to be your first time, we hope that this short explainer of dog park etiquette helps make your experience safer and more joyful.

We know that, as a caring pet parent, you want what’s best for your pup. We hope you found this article helpful and if your dog ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or hot spots, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind.

Sources

  • https://www.fitbark.com/blog/dog-park-dos-and-donts/
  • https://www.wvlt.tv/content/news/The-vaccines-your-dog-needs-before-going-to-a-dog-park–480539161.html
  • https://www.dogsavvylosangeles.com/blog/dog-park-etiquette
  • https://sitmeanssit.com/dog-training-mu/austin-dog-training/how-to-tell-if-a-dog-is-being-aggressive/
  • https://www.ccspca.com/blog-spca/education/how-to-break-up-a-dog-fight/
  • https://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/why-puppies-and-dog-parks-don-t-mix/101482
  • https://shewhisperer.com/dog-park-etiquette/

Why Does My Cat Get Hairballs?

cat asthma

Oh no. You hear it. The tell-tale signs of a hairball coming on. Your cat is hacking, gagging, and retching. Almost as quickly as it began, your cat goes back to their business, and a nice, shiny hairball awaits you. “Great…” you think to yourself.

As you go to scoop it up and put it in the trash, you may begin to wonder: “why does my cat get hairballs? What causes them? Is my furry pal okay? I know I wouldn’t be okay if I just hacked up what looks like a small animal…”

In this short article we’ll review what hairballs are, why cats get them, whether or not you should be concerned by them, and how to prevent them altogether!

What Are Hairballs?

coughing catHairballs, technically called trichobezoars, are clumps of hair that accumulate in the stomach or esophagus that go undigested. They’re almost certainly going to match the color of your cat’s fur, only they’ll likely be a bit darker because of food and other gastric secretions in her digestive system.

Despite their name, hairballs are rarely round like little balls. Instead, they’re often slender and cylindrical, almost like a cigar or a sausage. They’re usually about an inch long and half an inch thick, though some can grow to be up to five inches in length! Talk about a hairy situation.

Why Does My Cat Get Hairballs?

sneezing catThey may be unsightly and a tad nauseating to think about, but it’s important to know that hairballs are really just a part of life. As your cat grooms themselves, tiny, hook-like structures on their tongue latch onto loose and dead hair. Then, that hair is swallowed and the majority of it passes without problems through their digestive tract. However, some of that hair can also sit in the stomach where it begins to accumulate more and more hair and voila: you’ve got yourself a hairball.

According to Dr. Guglielmino, an associate veterinarian at The Cat Doctor feline health clinic in Seattle, kittens and young cats are less likely to develop hairballs than mature cats. This is because young cats and kittens are less experienced with grooming, whereas mature cats spend a good portion of their days licking their coats. Unfortunately, it follows then that cats with long hair – such as Persians and Maine Coons – are at a substantially higher risk for developing hairballs than short-haired breeds.

Are Hairballs a Health Concern to Your Cat?

Again, it’s important to remember that hairballs are common occurrences with cats. In fact, Dr. Richard Goldstein, DVM, an associate professor of small animal medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, claims that it’s common for cats to regurgitate hairballs once every week or so. However, regular hairballs or daily hairballs may be signs of an underlying problem.

cat in blanketIf you notice your cat is producing an inordinate amount of hairballs, it’s best to get them checked out by a veterinarian. Your vet will likely want to run some blood tests that can make sure your cat’s kidneys and liver are working correctly, as well as to make sure there are no underlying conditions that may be causing your cat to produce more hairballs than normal.

Any number of health disorders may cause excessive hairball production. Conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or stomach / intestinal cancer can negatively affect the movement of things through the digestive tract, which may result in excessive hairball production. Additionally, conditions that affect the fur or skin can cause your cat to feel itchy and thus groom more often which can produce more hairballs than normal.

When you’re at the vet, they may also want to conduct imaging tests like x-rays or ultrasounds to ensure there’s no blockages. This last point is especially important, as hairball blockages in the intestine or esophagus can quickly become life-threatening to your cat. The treatment plan your vet recommends will be based on the cause of your cat’s hairballs.

If there is no clear underlying condition that is causing your cat to produce excessive hairballs, your veterinarian may recommend that your cat start taking a hairball treatment gel known as laxatone. These gels serve as a lubricant that can help move things along in your cat’s digestive tract.

Additionally, your veterinarian may suggest your cat begin on an over-the-counter diet formulated to prevent hairballs. A diet focused on controlling hairball production will be rich in fiber that helps hair move through your cat’s digestive system while also nourishing your cat’s luscious coat. However, if the problem persists, your vet may also propose that your cat begin a specialized, prescription diet that will more aggressively treat the problem.

If a minor intestinal blockage is present, your vet may recommend that your cat take a veterinary-grade laxative. However, you should never give your cat a laxative without first being recommended to by a veterinarian. Your vet may also recommend surgery if they believe no other methods will be sufficient in removing the blockage.

Can You Prevent Hairballs?

cat sneezingAbsolutely! There are three methods we know of that can help prevent the development of hairballs. The first is to groom your cat very regularly with a quality de-shedding tool. Combing or brushing your pointy-eared buddy each day can not only effectively minimize the amount of loose hair your cat can lap up, but it can also be a fun bonding experience. Second, you may also want to train your cat to partake in other activities in their down time rather than licking their coat, such as playing with new toys.

Finally, if you notice that your cat is beginning to show signs of irritating skin infections that may cause them to excessively groom themselves, consider reaching for Banixx! This clinically-proven solution provides fast-acting, sting-free, odorless relief for a variety of unpleasant maladies without relying on pesky steroids or antibiotics. Simply identify the affected area, apply Banixx once or twice daily, and in no time your cat will start feeling better. With Banixx, relief really can be that simple.

We hope you found this article helpful and if your dog ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or ringworm, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind.

Sources

  • https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/what-to-do-about-hairballs-in-cats
  • https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/healthcare/why-hairballs-in-cats
  • https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/hairy-dilemma
  • https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/danger-hairballs
  • https://www.preventivevet.com/cats/are-hairballs-normal-for-cats
  • https://www.chewy.com/vetoquinol-laxatone-lubricant/dp/109717
  • https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/healthcare/why-hairballs-in-cats
  • https://www.banixx.com/for-cats/

How Old is My Dog in Dog Years?

Quick. How old is your dog?

No, not in human years. In dog years. You probably thought— well, compute whatever their human-years age is and multiply by seven.

And we totally understand where the instinct to use that formula comes from. Unfortunately, recent scientific research reveals that this handy rule-of-thumb is more pop wisdom than actual science.

In reality, calculating your dog’s true age in dog years requires some pretty intense math, but the reward is being able to know how far along in their life your four-legged friend really is.

In this article, we break down where the myth of comparing seven dog years to every human year comes from, how to accurately measure a dog’s age, and how to tell your dog is getting older.

Where Does the 7:1 Ratio About Age in Dog Years Come From?

happy willyIn reality, nobody really knows for sure where this idea comes from. There are multiple potential origins of this mythological 7:1 ratio. The first potential genesis of this ratio comes in the form of an etching on the floor of Westminster Abbey completed in 1268 that postulated a ratio of dog-to-human years that was closer to 9:1. This theory was then bolstered in the eighteenth century when French naturalist Georges Buffon noted that dogs lived between ten and twelve human years compared to the human life span of 90 to 100 years.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that a rhetoric emerged about dog years even being a subject of interest. In the 1950s, it became a rule-of-thumb that most humans lived to 70 while most dogs lived to about ten years old. As a result, a shorthand ratio of 7:1 entered pet owners’ lexicons. This ratio was then enshrined in popular media through a variety of mediums, most notably through a series of Alpo commercials in the 1970s that ran the tagline: “Duchess is 13. That’s like 91 to you and me.”

However, almost as soon as it entered the collective brain, this ratio came under intense scrutiny from veterinarians, animal researchers, and gerontologists. In 1953, French researcher A. Lebeau categorized life-stage markers that humans and dogs share in common – those being puberty, adulthood, and maximum lifespan. His work also uncovered the remarkable fact that, in a dog’s first year of life, a dog will age between 15 to 20 times faster than a human, a ratio that shrinks considerably thereafter to a ratio of about five to one (human to dog years).

So, that still leaves the question: if science has exposed this common saying as nothing more than popular mythology, why is still so persistent?

Well, according to Assistant Professor of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University William Fortney, it’s likely because of advertisers. “My guess is it was a marketing ploy,” says Fortney, “a way to educate the public on how fast a dog ages compared to a human, predominantly from a health standpoint. It was a way to encourage owners to bring in their pets at least once a year.”

How Should We Measure Age in Dog Years?

So, now that we know that the 7:1 ratio isn’t based on…anything at all, how should we, as pet owners, go about guessing the age of our pooch pals? Well, the first step is to remember that not all dogs are the same.

As stated by aging expert David J. Waters, “Eight years in one breed is not equivalent to eight years in another.” And we know this already. It’s common knowledge at this point that small dogs tend to live longer than big dogs, meaning that a Dachshund who is one human year old is likely younger in dog years than a one year old Great Dane.

So, if we’re trying to get an accurate understanding of our dog’s age that can account for the variable of their breed, we should try and utilize calculation methods that take these differences into their methodology. One such method like this was crafted by researchers at the University of California – San Diego School of Medicine.

After comparing changes in DNA over time between groups of humans and Labrador Retrievers, the researchers concluded that the most accurate method of translating a dog’s age into human years was to multiply the natural logarithm of the dog’s age by 16 and adding 31 to that figure. The formula looks like this: (human_age = 16ln(dog_age)+31).

“[This research] validates what a lot of other researchers have been saying,” said Casal, a professor of medical genetics, pediatrics and reproduction at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Luckily, you don’t need to pull out your old graphing calculator from high school calculus. There are plenty of handy online calculators that utilize this formula already and are much more intuitive to use. What even is a natural log anyway? Aren’t all logs natural?

Of course, if computation isn’t really what you came to a pet blog to do (I mean, who can blame you?), then there is an even simpler formula you can use. Just remember that the first year of a dog’s life is equal to roughly 15 human years. Then, their second year of life is equal to about nine human years. Every year after is equal to about four or five human years.

Why Do Small Dogs Age Slower than Big Dogs?

This is another one of those questions where there are plenty of answers that sound right, but there’s just no conclusive evidence on the matter.

According to evolutionary biologist and Professor of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne Mark Elgar, “Large dogs die young mainly because they age quickly.” Professor Elgar’s theory is backed by research, particularly a study of 74 dog breeds in North America which concluded that the driving force behind the trade-off between size and lifespan was a strong positive relationship between size and the rate at which the dog ages.

But why? Why do big dogs actually age faster than their micro counterparts?

Well, according to evolutionary biologist and researcher Cornelia Kraus at the University of Gottingen in Germany, it may have something to do with their hormonal system. Kraus and her team analyzed demographic data, including age and cause of death, for more than 50,000 dogs across 74 breeds.

What they found was that small dogs have lower concentrations of the growth hormone IGF-1, which has been linked to higher likelihood of death from age-related diseases in organisms with high concentrations of it in their blood. However, this finding alone isn’t enough to cement this theory as fact.

Cynthia Kenyon, a researcher on aging at the University of California at San Francisco, suggests that one way to test the hypothesis that greater concentrations of IGF-1 cause large breeds to die younger would be to take a small dog and give it high levels of IGF-1 while it’s young so that it grows to be large. Then, while it’s an adult, try to extract the excess IGF-1 and see if it has a long life.

Of course, there are other theories about why small dogs live longer and age slower than big dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, some researchers believe that bigger dogs are more susceptible to diseases caused by abnormal cell growth like cancer due to the fact that they progress from puppyhood to adulthood much faster.

Whatever the reason is, it’s important that you as a pet owner be able to identify signs of aging in your pup. Just as it’s important to be able to identify nasty skin infections, ringworm, mange, hot spots, or other uncomfortable maladies that may be making your pooch feel ruff. Luckily, if you spot any of the above, you have access to one of the most powerful, clinically-proven antidotes to common ailments: Banixx Pet care!

If you notice your furry friend suffering from any of the above afflictions, just identify the affected area, apply Banixx twice daily, and wait. Soon after application, your dog should feel significant or total relief from whatever fungal or bacterial infection they’re suffering from without needing to rely on pesky antibiotics or steroids. With Banixx, relief is simple.

What Are the Signs of Aging in Dogs?

Everybody ages, including your four-legged friend. The adorable puppy you snuggled has now become a fully-grown dog, and they may have even begun to show it. Their muzzle grays. Their gait becomes a bit more stilted. Their endless walks have been replaced by short jaunts. Eventually, the evidence may become undeniable: they’re a senior dog.

Of course, some signs are a bit more subtle and, to the untrained eye, may not be identified as signs of aging. For example, some senior dogs’ eyes may become cloudy or milky looking. While this symptom of old age is relatively common and often doesn’t affect their vision, it’s still important to take note of as this may be a sign of cataracts.

Also, you may have heard of puppy breath, but wait till you smell elderly dog breath. More common in dogs who have poor dental health, sudden awful-smelling breath can be a sign of any number of oral maladies including gum disease, tooth decay, or oral infections. As dogs age, their immune system weakens and thus makes them more susceptible to infections. If your dog suddenly presents with truly rancid-smelling breath, it may be time to take them for a dental cleaning and dental exam.

Additionally, you may notice that your dog’s body becomes dotted with new lumps and bumps. Thankfully, many of these randomly-appearing bumps are likely to be benign, fatty tumors known as lipomas. However, it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion on any newly-sprouted lumps. Remember: many cancers can be effectively treated if caught early enough.

Finally, there’s also the changes that may come to your dog’s mental faculties that you should watch out for. According to a study at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, between 14% and 35% of dogs over eight years old suffer from a type of dementia known as canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Changes that may occur as a result of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome include fear of familiar people, increased barking, house soiling, or a marked change in activity levels.

If your dog is eight years old or older and presenting any of the above symptoms, consider getting them evaluated for canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome. While there is no cure for this disease, your veterinarian may be able to provide you with therapeutic options and medications that can help your dog.

Of course, maybe your dog isn’t even near eight. Maybe they’re just now entering their early twenties (in dog years) and old age is a long time away.

Regardless of whether they’re twenty or 120 in dog years, one thing’s for sure: they’ll always be your fur baby.

We hope you found this article helpful and if your dog ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or hot spots, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind.

Sources

  • https://www.icons.org.uk/theicons/collection/westminster-abbey/features/the-great-pavement
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B43Lnqs-eUg
  • https://online.wsj.com/articles/SB121997338176882143
  • https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2020-07-02-how-old-is-your-dog-in-human-years.aspx
  • https://www.pedigree.com/dog-care/dog-age-calculator
  • https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/669665
  • https://www.insidescience.org/content/large-dogs-age-faster-die-younger/953
  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/physical-mental-signs-dog-aging/

Q & A with Ariel Grald

ariel grald

In 2019, Ariel Grald, an international 5* event rider and her horse, Leamore Master Plan or “Simon,” finished in the top 10 at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford, United Kingdom. This finish earned the pair the distinction and recognition as the highest placed finish for Burghley first timers. They also had success in 2019 at their 5* debut at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event finishing in 12th place. Ariel and Simon’s plans to return to international competition in 2020 were put on hold as the worldwide pandemic took center stage. As equestrian events and competitions cautiously and optimistically move forward in 2021, Ariel and Simon are working to successfully return to international competition.

ariel grald horse

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo Credit: Britt Gillis

Q. You did very well at Burghley. Tell us about your experience.

A. Competing at Burghley was an incredible experience. It’s a massive venue. Burghley House is stunning and the estate is so scenic. But there’s a lot of terrain. Even just hacking from the stables up to the dressage and show jumping arena is a decent workout. The cross country course is pretty relentless. You’re going up and down hill a lot. You’re always riding over changes in terrain so that was very challenging. When I competed at the Kentucky 5*, I wasn’t as aware of the people watching along the ropes of the cross-country course because it was a bit more open. There are way more people at Burghley, that was the biggest thing I noticed. Some of the galloping lanes are a bit narrow and some parts are a little bit more twisty and there are spectators everywhere. They don’t have a big grandstand like at the Kentucky Horse Park, but there is stadium seating that goes all the way around all four sides of the grass arena where the dressage and show jumping is held. It’s pretty intimidating!

Q. Do you have a horse you are going to take to the Land Rover Kentucky event this year?

A. We are not going to Kentucky this year, unfortunately. With the uncertainty with Covid and everything I had made a different plan for my top horse, Simon, because I’m really trying to get him back overseas. We are aiming him for another event a little later in the spring hopefully, in Germany.

Q. Why are you pointing him towards Europe? What’s the difference?

A. It’s for his experience and for my experience and for the international scene. Just looking ahead, we are trying to make the U.S. Championship teams and you’re always going to be traveling, either to Tokyo or to the World Games that are in Italy in 2022. Anytime I can go to a new venue and deal with the stress of traveling for both of us riding in arenas that we haven’t been to, riding on cross country and show jump courses that we haven’t been to is to keep building our experience.

Q. Every industry was impacted by Covid last year. Some things implemented out of this worldwide emergency, such as Zoom and working from home, are most likely here to stay. Is there anything in the equine industry impacted by Covid that’s also here to stay?

A. After horse trials were shut down for several months at the start of the pandemic, we were fortunate to resume competitions in the summer. While major 5* events such as Burghley and Fair Hill were cancelled, I feel very lucky that we were able to finish out most of the event season. As we all hope to return to some version of normal, I think the enhanced use of technology for communication will stay. For example, show venues send out mass texts to riders, grooms, and others regarding schedule updates and other important information. Also, many professionals turned to virtual lessons to allow people in different areas to train together and I imagine this may continue in the future. Many trainers share tips and ideas on social media by uploading videos and giving educational talks. I’m impressed at how many people throughout all aspects of the sport used technology to overcome logistical issues caused by Covid.

Q. Everybody has their own riding styles, especially when you get to upper levels. You like to work with each horse as an individual. How does that make a difference in your riding?

A. I feel like I am able to really get to know all the horses that I have. I spend so much time with each individual horse that I think I end up developing a really good partnership with each one. Some like a little more rein pressure, others like little more leg pressure. I know what support they need from me and how they like to be ridden or the warm up routine for dressage. So I’m lucky that I get to spend enough time with each horse every day when we’re training at home and to really learn about their personalities. I like sort of quirkier horses. I don’t mind ones that are a little bit fresh or a little bit higher energy. I actually prefer that ride. So in having some that are a little more sensitive you really have to spend that time to get to know them.

Q. What’s your approach when competing in straight show jumping versus to the show jumping phase of eventing?

A. I like to bring my dressage saddle and I still go do flat work with the horses to get them ready at the show venue. Some of my event horses can be strong and unfocused if I go straight to jumping them. They are used to having their dressage test and then either going to cross-country or show jumping next. It’s a good time to practice different warm up strategies– which jumps I’m going to jump, how many and how high before I go in the ring. A lot of eventers take their event horses to jumper shows to work on how to best prepare them and it’s a good way to work on those technical show jumping skills. It’s useful to go to a jumper show for several days, jump multiple courses and not have the pressure of being at a horse trials.

Q. What do you like most about Banixx products for your horses’ routine care?

A. I’ve used all of them but I think we use the shampoo the most. The wound care cream and spray I use to treat particular issues of course if a horse has a cut. The wound cream we use a lot on their legs. Often if they have some irritation on their heels or anywhere on their legs we use the spray for that. So those two products I use to treat certain issues. The shampoo we use routinely. If their skin is in pretty good condition we wash their legs a couple times a week with it. We just got back from Florida where the horses are always getting leg scurf and funk. So being able to use the shampoo on their legs and do the full leg soak for 10 minutes and wash it off, that’s a really important part of daily care of the horses in those environments like Florida where it’s humid and where the horses are quite likely to get skin irritation.

Q. Why do you choose Banixx versus other products?

A. I think their products are effective and I have many horses with sensitive skin. My top horse, Simon, has four white socks. His pink skin is very easily irritated. I like that Banixx has the collagen in it and the way the formula is made it doesn’t over dry or doesn’t cause further skin irritation. It actually helps soothe their skin. My horses wear boots daily for either schooling and competition, and are often bandaged or poulticed after they gallop and jump. This means we wash their legs frequently so I have to be careful which shampoos we use. Some other products are harsh and make their skin worse and more angry. But Banixx really, really helps.

Ariel Grald is based out of Setters’ Run Farm owned by Annie Eldridge in Vass, North Carolina. For more information, visit arielgrald.com or settersrunfarm.com.

We hope you found this article helpful and if your horse ever gets any cuts, abrasions, scratches or white line disease, we hope you keep Banixx Horse & Pet Care in mind.

Wolf Teeth in Horses

wolf teeth in horses

If you take a quick peek into your horse’s mouth, you’ll immediately be struck by just how different their teeth are from our own. All the typical types of teeth including incisors, premolars, and molars are there. However, just in front of the premolars you may notice there are stubbly, blunt teeth that don’t seem to have too much reason for being there.

These are known as equine wolf teeth. And, before you ask, no: they don’t have any relation to dogs, wolves, or other canines. Regardless of why they’re called wolf teeth, one question persists among horse owners: what are you supposed to do with wolf teeth? Leave them in? Pull them out at first sight?

To help settle this question, we’ve written up the following blog where we’ll explore what wolf teeth are, what problems they cause, what you should do about them, and how to ensure a safe, comfortable recovery.

What are Equine Wolf Teeth?

While “wolf teeth” might sound like some sort of horrible disfigurement or disorder, they’re actually completely natural. Wolf teeth are small, often pointed or peg-shaped teeth that grow just in front of a horse’s first premolars. Technically, they’re known as a horse’s first premolars since they erupt in the mouth between five months and twelve months of age.

wolf teethWolf teeth belong to a category of teeth known as brachydont teeth, meaning they erupt all at once and stop growing upon full eruption. This is different from the behavior of the other class of teeth, known as hypsodont teeth, which erupt gradually throughout a horse’s lifetime. A horse’s incisors, premolars, and molars are hypsodont teeth.

However, unlike their incisors, premolars, and molars, wolf teeth don’t really have any use for modern horses; they’re a vestigial structure left over from horse’s ancestors. Fossil records show that equus caballus, the much smaller, ancient precursor to the modern horse, survived on a very different diet than today’s horses, often eating low bushes and shrubs. As a result, their mouths were built to hold seven teeth in each dental arcade.

As their diets evolved to include more grass, horses grew bigger and, consequently, their teeth increased in size to provide larger surface area for chewing and grinding. When this happened, the 1st cheek tooth, known today as the wolf tooth, was no longer necessary and gradually disappeared across successive generations. However, as with humans’ wisdom teeth, many horses still develop wolf teeth to this day. While more commonly reported in male horses, they can develop in both sexes.

Additionally, while it’s more common to see wolf teeth develop on the upper jaws, they can erupt on the lower and upper jaws. A wolf tooth can erupt on a single side of the mouth or both, and they can be uni- or multi-rooted. Sometimes, wolf teeth can even fail to erupt at all (this is known as blind wolf teeth).

What Problems do Wolf Teeth Cause?

horse teethAs with humans’ wisdom teeth, many horses live just fine with their wolf teeth fully intact and without the need for extraction. However, similarly with young humans, many horse parents want to disable the potential development of biting issues that may arise from leaving wolf teeth in place.

Furthermore, as horse owners want to maximize their horse’s comfort with a bit placed in their mouth, it may seem advisable to remove wolf teeth. This is because wolf teeth contain nerves and are situated in and around highly innervated gums and bone near the periodontal ligament. If the bit makes contact with the tooth, it might induce pain which may cause the horse to act up in response. In fact, any pressure that’s placed on a horse’s cheeks is capable of rubbing against these teeth and causing pain.

What Should be Done About Wolf Teeth

Because wolf teeth are both not necessary and may interfere with bit placement in performance horses, many horse trainers opt to have them removed as early as is feasible. However, according to Glennon Mays, DVM and Clinical Assistant Professor at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM), one should not just jump to extraction as the only viable option once wolf teeth are noted.

wolf teeth horse“Even with this reputation as a negative, unneeded component of the mouth, owners do not always remove the teeth, especially in horses that do not have erupted wolf teeth or in horses that are not used for performance purposes,” says Mays. “Removing wolf teeth is a decision you should make with your veterinarian. The procedure is not particularly dangerous, but there are risks with any surgical procedure. There is the possibility of severing or damaging the palatine artery which can cause a great deal of blood loss. Or in horses with large, curved wolf teeth, the curvature of the tooth increases the possibility for complications.”

If you and your veterinarian decide to leave your horse’s wolf teeth in, you should remember that the recovery process from extraction will become substantially harder on your horse as they age. However, if you do decide to extract the teeth, you should feel comfort in knowing that the procedure is relatively quick and easy.

What is the Extraction Process Like?

The process of removing wolf teeth is relatively simple and usually requires sedation with a local anesthetic applied to the affected area. During extraction, the mouth will first be cleansed and then flushed to lower the chance of infection. Then, the gums and ligaments around the tooth will be loosened with a tool called an elevator which allows the tooth to be removed with forceps. Due to the variety of shapes and sizes of wolf teeth, the procedure time can vary from just a few minutes to an hour.

horse wolf teethBecause of how minimally invasive most wolf teeth extraction procedures are, aftercare tends to be just as minimal. However, some reports on wolf teeth extraction advocate for not feeding hay, straw, or grain concentrates for up to twelve hours after removal. Additionally, some equine veterinarians may recommend that owners irrigate the extraction site twice daily for a few days after the teeth are pulled to maintain a clean oral environment and minimize the chance of infection. Also, it is advisable that you do not ride or train your horse for at least 24 hours after extraction to minimize their discomfort.

To ensure an easy, complication-free recovery process, make sure that your horse is up to date on their vaccinations, most specifically tetanus. Horses are highly susceptible to the toxins from the tetanus bacteria, clostridium tetani, leading to many tetanus infections in horses becoming fatal.

The types of wounds in which the anaerobic tetanus bacteria thrive are small, hidden puncture wounds where there is little to no oxygen. This means that the many small cuts or gashes that may be present after a wolf tooth extraction offer the perfect environment for this nasty infection to sprout. Adequate protection against tetanus infections includes an initial vaccination, followed by a second booster four to six weeks later, and then recurring vaccinations every two to four years.

Thankfully, the process for protecting your horse against an opportunistic infection such as tetanus is as easy. In that same vein, so is protecting your horse against a variety of fungal and bacterial infections. Just reach for Banixx Horse & Pet care products!

Banixx works to provide instantaneous sting-free, odorless relief without relying on pesky steroids or antibiotics. If your horse is suffering from Scratches, Rain rot, Thrush, White line disease, or another infection, just identify the affected area, apply Banixx twice daily, and wait. In no time at all, your horse will be trotting along, ready to be taken to the veterinarian for a more comprehensive evaluation. With Banixx, relief really is that simple.

We hope you found this article helpful and if your horse ever gets any cuts, abrasions, scratches or white line disease, we hope you keep Banixx Horse & Pet Care in mind.

Sources

  • https://www.bwequinevets.co.uk/130/wolf-teeth/
  • https://equimed.com/health-centers/dental-care/articles/wolf-teeth-in-horses
  • https://evds.net.au/tips-and-info/wolf-teeth
  • https://thehorse.com/118149/equine-wolf-teeth/
  • https://www.vetfolio.com/learn/article/from-the-horses-mouth-an-extraction-of-the-first-premolar-teeth
  • https://www.banixx.com/rain-rot-horse-how-to-treat/
  • https://www.banixx.com/thrush-horse-how-to-treat/
  • https://www.banixx.com/horse-chronic-white-line-disease/

My Horse Is Too Fat

fat horse

We’ve all heard the phrase “I’m as hungry as a horse.” But we never really stop to think about what that means.

Horses eat a lot.

Like… a lot.!!

Like so much that someone came up with an idiom to make how much they eat synonymous with a ton.

Unfortunately, sometimes horses eat too much and, as a result, can wind up unable to comfortably work and even develop some seriously worrisome health issues.

Luckily, chunky horses don’t have to stay that way. There are a variety of tools at the horse owners’ disposal that can help horses shed weight without too much hassle.

Assessing Your Horse’s Body Weight

big fat horseBefore any treatment plan can be recommended, you must first get an accurate understanding of your horse’s weight. There are several methods available to help you determine whether or not your horse is overweight.

If any of the following methods indicate that your horse if overweight or obese, you should consult with an equine nutritionist and veterinarian to develop a weight loss program.

Weight Scales

The gold standard for getting an accurate weight measurement of your horse is to use a scale, likely available with your nearest equine veterinarian.

Of course, we also understand that not everybody has easy access to this tool. If you’re unable to get your horse weighed on a scale, proceed with using one of the methods described below.

Girth Height Ratio

feeding fat horseWho ever said you wouldn’t use math outside of the classroom? Okay, besides you that one time. The girth-height ratio is a reliable, easy-to-implement method of getting a quick snapshot of your horse’s weight.

To put it into practice, first take a flexible tailor’s measuring tape and measure the circumference of your horse’s girth in inches by running the tape behind both elbows and straight over their withers. Record this measurement.

Next, take a carpenter’s measuring tape or a sturdy six-foot ruler and measure the length of your horse’s torso on one side, in inches, from the point of their shoulder to the point of their hip. Record this measurement as well.

Next, you want to apply the two measurements taken to the following formula:

[(girth)2 X length] / 330 = body weight

By using this formula, you should get at least a semi-accurate picture of your horse’s current weight.

Body Condition Score

A horse’s body condition score is a numeric value assigned on a scale from 1 to 9 that measures the amount of fat deposited across six areas – their neck, withers, spinous processes and transverse processes, tail head, ribs, and behind the shoulder.

standing horsesThis score allows horse owners to have a reliable overview of their horse’s general health. A score of 1 would indicate that a horse is far too thin to be healthy, while a score of 9 would indicate that a horse is far too fat to be healthy. Generally speaking, a horse’s body condition score should fall between 4 and 6 to be categorized as being of normal weight.

To evaluate a horse’s body condition, start by visually assessing their ribs. If the ribs are easily seen and felt, then the score for the ribcage will be below a five and vice versa if the ribs are not easily seen or felt.

Next, look at their shoulders. A horse’s shoulder with a body condition score of greater than five will be bulging with little deposits of fat behind it. A bonier shoulder indicates a score that will likely be below five.

A visual assessment of their withers should follow. A very thin horse with a body condition score of below five will have little to no fat deposited between the top of the shoulder blade and the spinal vertebrae, making them easily discernible. A horse with a body condition score of five, however, will possess withers that are slightly rounded.

You should then spend some time looking at their loin, which is the area of the back just behind where a saddle sits. If the horse has a body condition score of five, the loin area will be relatively level with no bumps, dents, or creases along the spine. As the score begins to increase, fat will begin to build up on either side leading to the formation of visible creases.

Next on your list should be the tailhead. A horse with a very low body condition score will exhibit an easily discernible tailhead, while a horse with a body condition score of seven or greater will have a tailhead that feels soft and plush.

horse standingFinally, look at their neck. If your horse is a proper weight, the neck should blend smoothly into the rest of their body. If your horse is overweight, however, their neck will look and feel quite thick with fat deposits at the crest.

As you assess each area of their body, remember to assign them a score of 1 to 9. You can consult this chart as you assess each area to get a better understanding of what each score means.

After each area is evaluated and assigned a score, you then want to average the scores together to get a final overall body condition score. If your horse has an overall score between 4 and 6, they’re likely to be able to perform almost any activity you give them without too much trouble.

However, if your horse scores above 6, they may be less tolerant to high levels of activity. A score of 6 or above will likely require consultation with an equine nutritionist to begin contemplating ways to bring their weight down.

My Horse is Overweight – What do I do?

So, you’ve determined that your horse is a bit husky and you’re wondering what the best course of action is. We understand completely. Not only are horses with a high body fat percentage less capable of comfortably working, but they’re also predisposed to a number of concerning health issues including mainitis, hyperlipidemia, orthopedic stress, and less effective body temperature regulation.

With the stakes set so high, it’s only natural that caring horse owners like yourself are determined to help your hooved friend get back down to their target weight. Noting that most horses gain weight the same way that all animals do (via taking in more calories than they expend), the target of any worthwhile weight loss program must be to either reduce their calorie intake without sacrificing essential nutrients and vitamins, increase their exercise levels, or both. However, caution must be used if increasing exercise is the route taken, as overweight horses can quickly become overstressed by a sudden jolt in activity levels.

Set Realistic Expectations

sorrel horse runningThe first step in getting your horse to lose some weight is to set realistic expectations. Just like with humans, weight loss is a journey, and a difficult one at that. It can take many months for your horse to reach his target weight, and he may plateau or even experience a mild regression of progress along the journey.

If any of the above happens, don’t fret. Just revisit the feeding and exercise program you’ve crafted and consult with your equine nutritionist and veterinarian about whether changes ought to be made. Remember: patience and consistency are key to successful, healthy weight loss.

Re-Evaluate What You Feed Your Horse

smallest horseNext, you need to think about where the horse’s excess calories are coming from. It’s well understood that horses consume their calories from pasture, hay, grains, and/or concentrated feed. However, most people underestimate the importance of hay and pasture in a horse’s diet – if your hay and pasture are of good quality, your horse can likely derive much of their needed caloric intake from these two sources alone. Concentrates, while certainly beloved by our galloping buddies, have the most calories per pound of feed. Therefore, it can be assumed that a reasonable first step in reducing total caloric intake is to reduce the amount of concentrate/feed being fed.

It’s important to remember that the average horse requires about 2% to 2.5% of their body weight in forage in order to maintain their weight. Overweight horses who are receiving this amount of forage or more can benefit from a slight reduction in the amount consumed each day. However, remember that it is critical that the amount of forage given each day makes up at least 1% of a horse’s bodyweight. With regards to what type of feed is best, it’s recommended that horses consume forage that is high in fiber and low in sugars and starches such as mature grass hay. Not only is mature grass hay high in fiber, but their thick stems require more chewing and, as a result, uses up more calories to eat.

In addition to feeding hay, you may want to consider giving your horse a daily dose of ration balancers rather than a regular horse feed.. Ration balancers deliver high concentrations of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein that are otherwise missing in most forages but, caloric “fillers” are missing from these feeds. Consequently, a ration balancer help your horse get their necessary nutrients without extra unnecessary calories being consumed.

Restrict Pasture Feeding

It may just seem as though the issue is due to all of the additional calories that we provide to our horses. Maybe the best solution is to just let them eat exclusively from the pasture, right? After all it’s all just grass… right? …Wrong! In reality, horses evolved from eating on pastures that were much less calorically dense than the lush pastures that horses often graze on today. Pastures today can provide a seemingly limitless supply of calories to especially hungry horses.

horse legsWith that in mind, it may be advisable to limit your horse’s access to pasture. The best way to do this is to put your horse in a dry-lot where you can limit the amount of food your horse has access to. However, confining your horse to a dry lot presents a picture of them just standing around, a little bored, just waiting for more food. This does not help to burn off calories!. To combat this, consider pairing your horse with a younger horse who will keep the older horse mobile.

If this solution is untenable, either due to the lack of a dry lot or because dry lot placement is not working, consider fitting your horse with a grazing muzzle. Muzzling your horse will allow them to eat very little at a time, thus reducing the likelihood of them gorging themselves on all that sweet, sweet pasture..

However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can just muzzle a horse for a few hours and that this will solve an overeating problem. A horse who is used to having more calories and is only muzzled for four hours per day will try and find ways to make up for those lost calories in the remaining twenty hours of the day!. You must keep the muzzle on whenever they’re at pasture to see real progress. Remember: consistency is key.

Get Your Horse Moving

While you’re finagling the diet portion of your horse’s weight loss program, you need to also be thinking about ways to get your horse active. Regular exercise is the single best way to increase the total number of calories used per day. Horses who are deemed capable of exercise should work out three to four times per week for a duration of between thirty minutes and one hour.

how much horse costBeneficial exercises include, but are not limited to, lunging, trail riding, walking, trotting, participating in riding lessons, and competing. However, any forms of exercise must be introduced slowly and gradually increase in intensity as the horse demonstrates greater capability. Slow increases in exercise levels will prevent the development of metabolic issues or exhaustion. Remember to never simultaneously pair an increase in exercise intensity with an increase in exercise duration, as this can quickly overwork your horse and potentially lead to injury.

While guiding your horse through weight loss may seem like an arduous, perhaps even overwhelming, task, just remember that you’re not alone! Remember to lean on the expertise of your equine nutritionist and veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about the progress your horse is making.

Simultaneously, don’t forget to be attentive to any other developments in your horse’s health. Neglecting to treat certain disorders or ailments like White Line Disease or skin infections such as Scratches can stymie your horse’s ability to comfortably proceed with any exercise regimen or dietary adjustments.

If you notice your horse is beginning to show symptoms of either of the above, reach for Banixx Horse & Pet Care! This topical antimicrobial solution delivers instant, odor-free, sting-free relief for a variety of fungal and bacterial maladies without relying on pesky steroids or antibiotics. Simply identify the affected area, apply Banixx to it twice daily, and wait for your neighing buddy to feel better. Delivering relief to your horse really can be that simple.

For more tips on how to keep your horse happy and healthy, stay up to date with our horse page!

Sources

  • https://stablemanagement.com/articles/equine-obesity-31969
  • https://www.extension.iastate.edu/equine/body-condition-score
  • https://thehorse.com/164978/body-condition-scoring-horses-step-by-step/
  • https://www.purinamills.com/horse-feed/education/detail/body-condition-scoring-your-horse
  • https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/horses/Trimming%20the%20Fat%20-%20Weigh%20Loss%20Strategies%20for%20the%20Overweight%20Horse.pdf
  • https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/2805/2805-1002/2805-1002.html
  • https://thehorse.com/165233/my-horse-is-too-fat-what-should-i-do/
  • https://www.banixx.com/scratches-injuries-horse-how-to-treat/
  • https://www.banixx.com/horse-chronic-white-line-disease/
  • https://www.banixx.com/blog/

Can I Pet a Cat with Ringworm?

cat with ringworm

There’s nothing quite as lovely and fulfilling as sharing our hearts and homes with our cats. They provide endless entertainment and even cuddles. However, it’s not like we want to share everything with our cats (they clearly think differently, given their joy at bringing us dead rodents).

Of the things we’d most like to not share with our felines is ringworm. Both highly infectious and unsightly, ringworm is a common, persistent problem among cats. Not only does this infection end up costing pet owners money, but it often steals away time that could have been spent bonding with your purr-fect buddy.

Today, we’re going to outline what ringworm is, how it’s spread, what an official diagnosis should entail, how to treat it, and answer the most pressing question pet parents have when they discover it: can I handle my cat if they have ringworm?

What is Ringworm?

ringworm catFirst things first: the name ‘ringworm’ is misleading. Ringworm has nothing to do with worms at all. Ringworm is a common fungal infection of the superficial layers of your cat’s skin, hair, and nails. Its name comes from the circular shape of the symptomatic hair loss of the infection.

It’s caused by a specific group of fungi known as dermatophytes. Once they make a home for themselves in their host’s body, they thrive by digesting keratin, the main protein structure of hair and nails. As they feast on keratin, they begin to rapidly multiply into millions of single-cell spores that can perpetuate the infection.

Some species of dermatophytes only infect one species, while others can transfer between different species of animals or between animals and humans. Cats who are infected with ringworm are likely infected with the dermatophyte variant known as Microsporum canis. While other variants exist, they’re not nearly as common.

Is it Safe to Pet a Cat with Ringworm?

petting cat with ringwormAnswering this question is a bit tricky. Is it safe? As in, will you die if you pet a cat with the tell-tale red rings? No, probably not. But should you pet that ringworm riddled cat? No, probably not.

What you must keep in mind is that ringworm transmission occurs via direct contact with the fungal spores. While some species of ringworm are only transmittable between specific animal species, some are zoonotic and can thus infect humans. Unfortunately, it’s not like our eyes can immediately distinguish between variants of ringworm as safe or unsafe for humans.

But you shouldn’t necessarily jump to donning your hazmat suit if you suspect your cat has ringworm. Most healthy human adults are resistant to ringworm infection unless they make contact with a spore through a break in the skin like a scratch, scrape, or cut. However, as with cats, most elderly and young humans, as well as adults with weak immune systems, are susceptible to ringworm infection.

Moreover, in summary, there are a number of precautions you can take to protect yourself against infection if you suspect that your cat has ringworm. It’s as simple as wearing disposable gloves!

How do Cats Get Ringworm?

There is no shielding your cat from ringworm. Ringworm spores can live just about anywhere in the world, from soil to surfaces to the skin of animals and humans. Cats often become infected with ringworm via coming into contact with infective spores from other infected animals, contaminated surfaces, and contaminated objects.

ringworm cat legIt should be noted that the mere presence of ringworm spores on a cat’s coat isn’t sufficient enough to spark infection. Rather, there are a minimum number of spores that must be present to establish an infection. However, there is no set minimum number that applies to all cats; it varies depending on a variety of factors.

That being said, some cats are predisposed to ringworm infection, such as long-hair cats. Long-hair cats are believed to be more predisposed to ringworm because their long hairs protect the spores from being effectively groomed away. Similarly, Geriatric and young cats are also particularly susceptible to developing ringworm due to their inability to properly groom themselves. Kittens, in particular, are a target due to their immature immune system that has trouble fighting any infection.

Even still, it’s not necessarily as simple as just: minimum number of spores present = cat is infected. Cats have evolved a number of natural defense mechanisms, such as grooming and sunbathing, to protect against these sorts of nasty skin infections. But should those defenses fail, the spores will begin invading and germinating.

What are the Symptoms of Ringworm in Cats?

kitten ringwormAn especially frustrating fact about ringworm for veterinarians, pets, and pet parents alike is that it can be quite difficult to even detect in the first place. Some cats who are infected with ringworm present no clinical signs at all, while others present a cornucopia of unsightly symptoms.

The classic symptom of ringworm is the appearance of one or more areas of patchy or circular hair loss accompanied by some form of crusting. A sort of “cigarette ash” scaling in the depths of the coat may also be visible. Other cats may develop alopecia in spots where the spores have infected the hair shafts. The scale of hair loss can range from mild to dramatic, and can be symmetrical or asymmetrical depending on which sites are infected. Most areas of hair loss will also often present with varying degrees of redness.

Other symptoms can include alterations to the color of your cat’s skin or hair, as well as the emergence of broken or stubby hair. Some unfortunate felines with ringworm may even develop a secondary condition known as onychomycosis, which is where the claws become rough and develop a scaly base. Many cats who develop ringworm will also begin grooming themselves in an excessive amount to stave off the irritating itching that may follow.

Regardless of whether your cat presents with all of these symptoms or none, any suspicion of ringworm should be immediately met with caution and a trip to the vet.

 

How to Protect Yourself from Ringworm

Humans are thankfully just a tad more thorough with our hygiene than our pointy-eared buddies. For one, we have access to soap and the means to apply it whenever we want without issue. This makes the likelihood of just picking up ringworm from our cats a little bit lower than the risk they have of contracting it themselves.

cat toy ringwormHowever, it’s always good to be cautious, especially when you suspect one of your cats has become infected. First, remember to wear gloves, long sleeves, and an apron when handling a cat who has ringworm. Also, remember to wash your hands and clothes thoroughly each time you handle your pet if you suspect they have ringworm. If you have even the slightest abrasion or open wounds, even if it’s covered by your favorite superhero Band-Aid, minimize any contact of that spot with the infected surface.

Additionally, you’ll want to throw out all bedding, toys, supplies, and other paraphernalia that is possibly contaminated and buy new ones. (We know, it’s already expensive enough having a cat.) Some recommend simply washing all cat bedding in a good bleach solution followed by a plain water cycle in the wash machine. The regular washing and disinfecting your pet’s new bedding, toys, and dishes with a disinfectant spray can also reduce the risk of surface-to-skin transmission. Do not use Lysol, it’s not friendly to our felines. Apple cider vinegar is an excellent cleaner and its acidic nature repels fungal infections such a ringworm. You’ll also want to diligently vacuum your floors, and not just because you want to actually see your carpet again. Ringworm spores can still survive even on loose hairs, so vacuuming is an easy way to be thorough with your disinfection efforts. Follow this by disposing of the vacuum cleaner bag.

Perhaps most unfortunately, you may also want to consider isolating any infected cat during their treatment. If you have multiple cats, it’s safe to assume that they’re all infected if one is. In that case, you should aim to have each of them diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Nonetheless, a suspected ringworm infection necessitates that you regularly deep clean and disinfect your cats’ environment. Since spores can linger for long stretches of time, you may need to remain vigilant against possible reinfection for a long period of time, possibly up to two years after the initial infection.

How is Ringworm in Cats Diagnosed?

There are a variety of diagnostic procedures your veterinarian can deploy to uncover the presence of ringworm in your purry pal.

veterinarian giving a cat a blood test due to blood in cat stoolOne of the most common tests is what’s known as a Wood’s lamp procedure. This is when affected hairs are placed on a surface known as a dermatophyte test medium. Then, the hairs are examined beneath a special ultraviolet light known as a Wood’s lamp. Hairs that begin to glow with a yellow-green or apple-green fluorescence are typically thought of as being infected by Microsporum canis.

However, the Wood’s lamp test is by no means definitive in diagnosing ringworm. Veterinarians often need to conduct what’s known as a fungal culture to completely discern whether or not an infection is present. During this procedure, scrapings of the skin and samples of the hair are taken and studied for signs of fungal growth in a laboratory.

If the technicians begin to see evidence of fungal growth consistent with Microsporum canis or other variants of ringworm, they will be able to officially diagnose the afflicted cat as suffering from the infection.

How is Ringworm in Cats Treated?

So, your cat’s got the bad news. He has ringworm. His hair is patchy, his skin is irritating, and he is just dying to get back to how things used to be, when he could cuddle up on you without you recoiling in fear.

Luckily, ringworm is by no means a fatal or even a debilitating disease. Modern veterinary science has innovated a cocktail of topical and oral treatments that are especially effective at eradicating ringworm when done in conjunction with aggressive clipping of the coat and environmental disinfection.

shave cat with ringwormThe first step in any effective treatment plan for feline ringworm is to determine whether the coat needs to be clipped. If your cat has long hair or lives with any humans who are immunocompromised, it’s likely they will need their coat clipped. Rest assured that this measure alone will save lots of money and time spent at the vet by reducing the chances for spores to continue spreading via shedded hairs.

After the clipping commences, your veterinarian will likely start your cat on a 1-2 treatment plan consisting of daily oral antifungal medication and twice-weekly topical therapy. Oral antifungal drugs that have been shown to be particularly effective at combating ringworm include griseofulvin, terbinafine, and itraconazole. Please keep in mind that itraconazole frequently has to be compounded into a liquid solution for administration.

There are a variety of effective topical products to choose from including medicated ointments, creams, and shampoos. If symptoms seem to encompass large parts of your cat’s body, a periodic full-body dip or rinse in whatever medicated solution is chosen may be necessary.

One topical treatment that is exceptionally effective at alleviating the discomfort of ringworm’s symptoms is Banixx Pet Care! Due to its remarkable anti-fungal properties, Banixx is capable of providing immediate, soothing relief to your kitty while delivering a damaging blow to fungal spores. While wearing disposable gloves, gently massage a cotton ball soaked in Banixx to your cat’s skin two to three times daily. Within minutes, your cat will begin feeling relief without having to rely on pesky antibiotics or steroids or some stinky, oily topical treatment.

Once your cat is feeling a bit better, you can take them to the vet and begin the process of eradicating this awful infection once and for all! In the meantime, you can learn more about how to keep your pointy-eared buddy happy and healthy through our cat blog or cat page! We hope you found this article helpful and if your cat ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or ringworm, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind.

Sources

  • https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/ringworm-serious-readily-treatable-affliction
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/keratinase
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  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/ringworm-in-cats
  • https://novacatclinic.com/my-cat-has-ringworm-will-i-get-it/
  • https://www.care.com/c/stories/6522/ringworm-in-cats-what-you-need-to-know/
  • https://www.uwsheltermedicine.com/library/guidebooks/ringworm/diagnosing-ringworm
  • https://www.thesprucepets.com/ringworm-in-cats-4175211
  • https://www.banixx.com/faq/faq-cats-kittens/115-how-to-treat-ringworm-in-cats-ringworm-in-kittens-solutions-from-banixx-pet-care/

When Do Cats Stop Growing?

kitten in grass

When you first lay eyes on your kitten, it almost seems impossible to imagine that something so tiny and meek will one day grow into a beautiful, majestic cat. That same little furball with the huge blue eyes who can barely walk will one day be powerfully jumping into the air with pure terror at the sight of cucumbers. Nature really is a miracle.

But exactly how long is the timeframe between your kitten being so small it can fit in the palm of your hand and it being a fully grown cat? Should you expect a gradual shift from kitten to cat? Or will it be like with humans, where they go from small children to getting their driver’s license in the blink of an eye?

What Age Do Cats Stop Growing?

cute kittenAccording to veterinarians, most cats will usually be considered at or near their full size by the time they reach one year of age. However, some larger breeds will continue to grow for months afterwards. In fact, some of the largest cat breeds like the Maine Coon have been reported to grow all the way up until they’re four years old!

While the exact date of maturity varies slightly by breed, your little furball will likely turn from being a kitten into a cat between ten months and eighteen months old. With that in mind, you may be sitting next to a kitten as you read this and wondering: “This looks like a cat to me, and I know Whiskers isn’t older than six months! What gives?” While your kitten might have the physical characteristics of a mature cat, it’s important that we review the milestones that kittens pass as they transition from kittenhood into…. Well, cathood!

From Months Three to Six

During this pivotal time in your feline friend’s life, a lot is going to change. They’ll begin sprouting ferociously sharp baby teeth around this time. Those teeth will start to fall out, too, so make sure the “Tooth Fairy” has some small treats for your buddy. Their eyes will change color too, shifting from a precious, baby blue color to its adult color. Your kitten’s petite frame will also begin to fill out during this time, meaning they’ll start packing on muscle and the adorable baby fat adorning their belly will likely slim out.

Month Six

kitten playingBy six months old, your once youthful kitten will likely look more and more like their adult selves. However, this doesn’t mean they’ve reached full size. As a general rule, remember that an average-sized cat will gain one pound per month while they’re maturing. So, by six months old, your cat should weigh roughly six pounds and look like they could use a bowl or two more of food. Your cat’s body proportions may even look a bit wonky around this time, but don’t worry, they’ll easily grow into their bodies with time.

Month Seven

Raising your seven-month-old kitten may feel reminiscent of raising a teenager: your cat will be simultaneously excited to explore everything but oh so sleepy. As your cat works his way through his seventh month, expect him to take lots of naps. With a larger body to match their budding confidence, seven-month-old cats will also begin demonstrating how social they want to be, both with you and other animals in your household.

Months Eight and Nine

toyger kittyAt this stage, your cat is likely nearly done growing. Notice we said nearly. Having taken the awkward first few steps towards pronouncing their personalities, your cat’s confidence will likely be at an all-time high. During this time, their paw-eye coordination will strengthen considerably, as will the muscles in their hind-legs. With this in mind, it’s important to make sure that you clear your counters (and any other high spaces, really) of materials that could be hazardous or, non-replaceable, if they were knocked off.

From Months Ten through Twelve

It’s between months ten through twelve that the average cat will reach their full adult heights and lengths. Additionally, your cat’s personality (while by no means paused forever) will likely conclude developing in these three months. This is also the time that your cat will likely have achieved sexual maturity, although we recommend getting your cat spayed or neutered well before this point. Perhaps most importantly, this is the period of time when your kitten will make the full transition from eating kitten food to eating regular cat food. After all, we are what we eat, right?

So, that’s it. Start to finish, nine months is about all it takes for the average kitten to evolve from a tiny fur ball into the slinky, loveable critters we know and love. Now, the above timeline is by no means a hard-and-fast schedule. How fast your cat grows (and how big they grow to be) can be affected by a variety of factors.

What Factors Affect How Fast Cats Grow?

Gender

siamese catIt may be surprising to learn that, unlike humans, male cats actually grow more slowly than their female counterparts. This is because female cats tend to have smaller frames than male cats of the same breed, meaning they have less of a body to grow into. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the average domestic male cat weighs approximately seven pounds, whereas female cats weigh approximately six pounds. Using this same manual, it’s found that male cats tend to be around 21 inches long while female cats are slightly shorter at 19 inches long.

Spaying or Neutering

It has long been a subject of discussion as to whether or not spaying or neutering your point-eared friend stymies or stunts their growth in some way. More specifically, it was believed that spayed and neutered cats grew larger than their unaltered counterparts. Studies have, in fact, borne this theory out to a degree. It can now be safely said that, so long as the procedure is performed before the cat reaches adulthood, their girth and length will be larger than their virile counterparts. This is because pediatric spaying and neutering results in a protracted fusion of a cat’s growth plates around their legs and arms, thus giving them more time to grow.

Diet

Of all the items on this list, this is by far the most important.

Once a kitten is weaned off milk at around two months old, they become solely reliant on their owners for nutrition. With such a heavy weight placed on your shoulders, it’s necessary to keep in mind the goals of proper kitten nutrition.

A proper diet ensures that your purry pal grows at just the right rate – not too fast, not too slowly. You want to avoid a diet that precipitates maximal growth at all costs, as this can lead to feline obesity. While the type of food you feed your kitten is undoubtedly important, you should also consider how much food you’re feeding them and how often you’re doing it.

cat in foodFrom months two to three, kittens should be fed small meals at least four times per day. This is because their tiny stomachs can’t store the amount of food needed for proper nutrition. As they progress from three months old to six months old, you should be feeding them between ⅓ and 1 cup, volume-wise, of food at least three times per day.

Some veterinarians even recommend a practice known as “free-feeding” for kittens who are between three and six months old. Free-feeding is exactly what it sounds like: you leave food out for kittens to eat throughout the day. Regardless of whether you choose a meal-based schedule or a free-feeding style, you should be weighing your cat every week at this stage of life and consulting with your veterinarian about whether or not adjusting their food intake is necessary to maintain a healthy weight.

From months six through twelve, your cat should be eating twice per day at roughly the same time each day (cats purr-fer a routine). During this period, follow recommendations from food labels and your veterinarian to determine the amount you should feed them.

However, be warned that these dietary guidelines change drastically if you neuter or spay your kitten. In general, it’s believed that removing a cat’s reproductive tract can reduce their daily caloric needs by up to 30%. The reasons for this are still being studied, but two theories have gained prominence. The first is that the process of neutering and spaying lowers a cat’s activity levels so substantially that they need to take in less food in order to account for the lack of additional calories being burned. The second is that the process of spaying and neutering alters the hormones in a cat’s bodies responsible for regulating their metabolism. Regardless of the reason why, the science is clear: if you spay or neuter your cat, give them less food during each feeding.

Now that we’ve discussed the questions of “How much?” and “How often?”, we can begin talking about the components of a proper diet for growing kittens. When crafting a diet for your kitten, there are three main nutritional components that you have to solve for: fat, protein, and calcium.

One thing to note is that, unlike dogs and humans, cats are obligate carnivores. As such, they have much higher minimum protein requirements than dogs (33g versus 21g per 100g of dry matter). That’s why kittens require that at minimum 35% and up to 50% of their dry food be composed of protein, with at least 9% of dry food coming from an animal source. The necessary amount may be higher when the kitten is weaning off milk, but, rest assured that the amount of protein they’ll need will decrease as they continue aging.

While we might try to avoid foods that are rich in fat, kittens actually need a fair bit of fat in their diet. Fats are loaded with essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that are crucial for your cat to be in good health. Generally speaking, the fat content of your kitten’s food should be between 18% and 35% on a dry matter basis.

cat eating foodAnother critical mineral for your kitten’s healthy development is calcium. As specified by the trade body representing the European pet food industry, a complete diet for your cat should provide 2.5g of calcium per 1000 kilocalories of food. Do not overshoot or undershoot this nutritional requirement. A study of cats who were fed a diet lacking calcium demonstrated cats that grew to develop soft-tissue calcification which led to breathing difficulties, lethargy, and stunted growth as a result of vitamin D toxicity. Meanwhile, cats who were fed too much calcium developed hypercalcaemia, which resulted in calcium deposits building in their kidneys.

In order to guarantee that your kitten gets all of these essential nutrients, we recommend following the advice of most veterinarians and getting your kitten specially formulated kitten food. More specifically, we recommend following the advice of Mindy Bough, Senior Director of Client Services for the Midwest Office of the ASPCA, stating “Don’t go with generic or store brands. Buy from a reputable company. Research has shown these kitten foods provide excellent health.”

A quality kitten food, Bough says, will have a label that specifies that it meets the nutritional requirements for kittens as established by the American Association of Feed Controls. Better yet, look out for the “Complete and balanced nutrition” label; this label signifies that any kitten eating this food will need no mineral or vitamin supplementation in order to grow healthily.

So, let’s say it’s been a year since you picked up Ole Whiskers. Well, she’s now a year old, so, it’s probably Young Whiskers. Regardless, let’s say it’s been a year and you still have moments where you can swear she looks like she’s getting bigger. How exactly are you supposed to tell when she’s done growing?

How to Tell When Your Cat is Finished Growing

cat licking lipsWhile we’ve already discussed the fact that cats can indeed continue to grow after one year, it’s important to remember that their growth will slow down significantly. However, it’s natural to wonder whether or not your kitten is done blossoming into a beautiful cat! So, if you ever catch yourself just itching to know whether or not your paw-fect pal is done growing, use the tools at your disposal and measure them! For real! It’s that simple.

Just measure their length and take their weight every month for three to six months after they hit one year old. At some point, the ever-minutely-increasing measurements are likely to stop. Once they do, you’ll know for sure that you’ve got one whole cat in front of you!

We understand the want to monitor your cat’s development and check up on them constantly. So, when we check on our fur babies and find that they’re developing a skin infection or a yeast infection, we reach for Banixx Pet Care! This antimicrobial spray provides instant sting-free, odorless relief from a variety of fungal and bacterial maladies, all without relying on steroids or antibiotics. Just identify the afflicted area, apply Banixx a few times per day, and wait for your pet’s symptoms to begin waning. Relief really can be that simple.

Almost as simple as we make learning about how to keep your pet happy and healthy! We hope you found this article helpful and if your cat ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or ringworm, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind.

Sources

  • https://pets.thenest.com/kitten-considered-fully-grown-4251.html
  • https://animalpath.org/how-long-until-maine-coon-is-full-grown/
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  • https://petskb.com/when-do-cats-stop-growing/
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  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/feeding-growing-kittens
  • https://www.theveterinarynurse.com/review/article/nutrition-for-kittens
  • https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-bust-6-myths-pediatric-early-spay-neuter-cats
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  • https://fediaf.org/self-regulation/nutrition.html
  • https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/feeding-your-kitten-food-and-treats
  • https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/blog/2019/11/12/when-do-cats-stop-growing-reliable-ways-to-know-when-cats-reach-their-full-size

How To Keep Your Senior Dog Healthy

old dog window

senior dogAs our dogs begin to age, we start to notice changes, both in their behavior and appearance. Their once vibrantly-colored coats begin to take on a grey or white hue, and they move a little slower. The seemingly-endless playtime suddenly becomes a lot more finite, and you notice they’re much more in favor of just lounging around next to you.

These changes bring to mind important questions: Do I have to adjust how I care for a senior dog? Can they still go on long walks or hikes with me, like they used to? Is giving them little nibbles of cheese still okay? While the answers to these questions ultimately are going to vary from dog to dog, there are still some relatively universal rules you can abide by that will keep your graying pup around for many happy years to come.

Keep Your Dog’s Weight In Check

When we think about the national “weight problem”, we tend to think of humans who can’t help but get large-sized meals, or people who just love soda. However, the weight problem is by no means restricted to just us bipedal creatures.

man with senior dogBy defining obesity in dogs as being 30% above their ideal body weight, it has been estimated that more than 55% of dogs can be categorized as overweight or obese. While having a bit of extra cushion isn’t likely to lead to significant issues, obesity presents significant health risks to dogs. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, dogs who are obese are at a greater risk for developing arthritis, chronic kidney disease, bladder/urinary tract disease, liver disease, low thyroid hormone production, diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and cancer.

When mixed with other afflictions that already plague older dogs, obesity can compound the damage done by existing conditions to a dangerous degree. According to veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman at Tufts Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine, obesity can be especially brutal on dogs with bad joints, stating: “The large weight of the dog will stress the joints further. You can get a lot of relief if you can get him down to his fighting weight.”

However, don’t just go slashing your good old boy’s food intake by half just because they’re a bit chunky. Instead, go in with a plan. Weigh them first to get an exact idea of whether they’re overweight, underweight, or just right. If you discover your dog can afford to lose a few pounds, consult with your veterinarian to devise a plan on how to effectively cut back the amount of food you give them.

While we’re on the subject of food…

Feed Them a Senior-Friendly Diet

Your four-legged friend’s been eating that same brand of dog food for the past six years, so there’s no way they’d need to switch things up once they reach their golden years, right?

senior dog eatingGuess again!! Just as it is with humans, dogs’ dietary requirements evolve as they age. As Dr. Katie Kangas, founder of The Pet Wellness Academy, says: “[Practicing good nutrition] is literally the most important thing we can do to support and promote the health of our pets.”

But in order to fully understand how to practice “good nutrition”, we have to first discern what good nutrition is for senior dogs. One of the most important concepts to grasp is that senior dogs may require fewer calories than their spry counterparts. While that may point to the increased likelihood of your dog gaining weight, the opposite can also be true! As dogs progress from being a senior pup to an ancient dinosaur, they actually tend to start losing weight. In these cases, dogs need to have their diet monitored to ensure they’re getting enough calories rather than to make sure they’re not overeating. In any case, determining the exact right caloric intake for your dog is good conversation to have with your veterinarian.

However, discerning the optimal number of calories for your dog doesn’t help you understand what macro nutritional needs they might have developed as they age, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. As an example, many believe dogs should eat less protein as they age to minimize potential negative impacts on their kidneys. However, while chronic kidney disease is a known health issue for elderly dogs, recent research disproves the notion that protein poses any harm to kidney function. In reality, veterinary dieticians are now in consensus that elderly dogs actually need up to 50% more protein in their diet than younger dogs in order to maintain a healthy muscle mass.

Additionally, you should consider orienting your senior dog’s diet around mitigating the effects that old age is having on their bodies. For example, many older dogs begin to suffer from constipation due to a progressively impaired colon. Luckily, we can limit the harmful effects of this organ breaking down by giving our senior dogs food that is high in fiber. Diabetic dogs can also greatly benefit from a low-fat, high-fiber diet thanks to the delayed absorption of food that this diet yields. However, be warned that giving your dog a diet that is too high in fiber may decrease the uptake of essential nutrients.

Also, as discussed previously, many dogs are predisposed to developing kidney diseases in old age. Likewise, some dogs’ hearts will stop working as well as they did when they were young pups. Thankfully, there are ways to feed your dog a heart- and kidney-healthy diet! A 2011 study revealed that low-phosphorus, high-potassium diets are particularly helpful for bolstering the function of your dog’s kidneys and heart. Decreasing your dog’s intake of sodium can also support their kidney and heart function.

Dr. Kangas also suggests that one of the first (and easiest) steps we can take towards providing optimal nutrition to senior dogs is weaning our older pups off of processed foods. This is because heavily-processed foods are not only pro-inflammatory, but are known to contain preservatives and additives that are, at some level, toxic. Minimally-processed or unprocessed foods, on the other hand, tend to have higher quality ingredients and, due to their lower levels of processing, greater bioavailability of essential nutrients.

senior dog licking lipsHowever, diet alone is unlikely to solve all of an older dog’s nutritional deficiencies; that’s why many senior dog foods include supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin (two supplements that aim to prevent your dog from developing osteoarthritis). Unfortunately, the evidence that these ingredients work is limited.

On the other hand, there are a range of supplements you can give your aging furball that have been clinically proven to benefit their health. Perhaps one of the most famous examples is omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Originating from fish, krill oil, and phytoplankton, omega-3 fatty acids are not only anti-inflammatory, but can also improve your dog’s cognitive function and stabilize your dog’s heart muscle cells. Similarly, research conducted by Purina suggests that feeding your senior dog a normal diet supplemented by a mixture of antioxidants, B-vitamins, fish oil, and L-arginine led to significantly higher cognitive function.

Your dog’s heart, kidneys, and brain aren’t the only thing supplements can support. Two compounds we discussed above, glucosamine and chondroitin, can both be taken as standalone supplements to protect your dog’s joints and cartilage. Let’s not forget about the tummy, either. Human doctors are beginning to understand the importance of gut health, and veterinarians are doing the same. That’s why you see more and more dog-friendly probiotics coming to market.

All that being said, we know that diet and nutrition are only two parts of a total wellness regimen. One of the most important, and most loathed, aspects of maintaining optimal health is regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Keep Your Senior Dog Active – Physically and Mentally

Right now, you might be looking at your pup and thinking: “What? My dog? Slow down? Have you seen how fast he runs after that ball?”. And we understand completely. However, this thinking is misguided. Not only is waning mobility a common issue that senior dogs face, but some even deal with debilitating conditions like arthritis that make moving around genuinely painful.

senior dog kidWhile senior dogs might be a bit slower than they used to be, they still need to move around. Ideally, you should walk your dog at least once per day even if you think their health should prompt less movement. Your walks don’t have to be marathons in order to get tangible benefits from them, either; according to Dr. Kangas, even a short ten-minute walk once per day can help stave off the progression of arthritis.

Be sure to also tailor your dog’s exercise regimen to their own capabilities. If your dog is suffering from a particularly mobility-limiting ailment like osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia, then you’ll want to choose a physical activity that eases stress on their joints such as swimming. Also, if you notice that your dog is walking stiffly after a walk, consider adjusting the length, intensity, or surface of their workout. Really, all you need to remember is that your dog’s workout routine is meant to benefit them, not you. If you notice your dog tends to take their sweet time on a walk, let them! The whole point is to get them out and about while keeping it enjoyable for them!

It’s not like exercising only yields physical benefits, either. On the contrary: moving around and getting outdoors is a simple, effective way to keep your pup’s brain sharp. Sitting around the house all day is boring, anyway! Giving your dog novel things to see and sniff each day will keep their brain active.

Exercise is by no means the only way to keep your dog’s brain young, though. Much like how humans use brain teasers and crosswords to keep their minds sharp and snappy, dogs can use toys to stimulate their brains. Certain toys, for example, prompt your dog to try and retrieve items that are hidden or are stuffed into the toy. These force your dog to think logically about how to solve the puzzle in order to get the reward. Other toys, such as the famous KONG, reward your pup while cleaning their teeth and soothing their gums. In order to keep your old pup’s interest, consider rotating your toys on a weekly basis to keep things fresh and exciting.

senior dog playing outsideAnd while the old saying goes “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, we think that’s a load of…. Well…you know. It may not be as easy to teach an old dog tricks, but it absolutely can be done and it pays off big in terms of keeping their mind sharp. All it takes is a little bit of patience and consistent encouragement from you!

Perhaps one of the most potent (and adorable) ways to enrich your dog’s brain is to get them a dog companion. We’ve all seen the videos of elderly dogs excitedly receiving a younger sibling, and they typically follow a formula: the elderly dog initially reacts with a bit of apprehension or is downright standoffish–followed shortly by the duo playing together. The message of these videos seems to be that a young dog can reinvigorate your old timer while the senior pup teaches the new dog social and behavioral skills. It seems like a win-win.

Now, while impossibly cute, this heart-warming scenario is not guaranteed. For starters, you should honestly assess your current dog’s sociability before introducing a new puppy. The last thing you want is for your graying pup to act mean towards the baby. Additionally, you’ll want to consult with your veterinarian to make sure your elderly dog is sufficiently capable, both physically and mentally, of handling the new puppy’s high energy levels.

Shine Those Chompers

The importance of a dog’s dental hygiene to their overall health can not be overstated. Not only will diligent dental care prevent the development of oral infections or the loss of teeth, but it will also prevent the development or worsening of certain medical conditions. This is because the bacteria that is present in oral plaque can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, where it does additional (lasting) damage.

senior dog butterflyWhat’s worse: decaying teeth and gums can exacerbate presently-existing health conditions, which can be especially perilous for senior dogs. Unfortunately, many pet owners do not heed this warning, which is why 80% of dogs have some form of oral disease by age three. Thankfully, you can prevent these sorts of negative outcomes by giving your dog’s mouth just a little bit of T-L-C.

First things first: you need to feed your dog a well-balanced, nutritious diet. This ensures that the environment of your dog’s mouth is insusceptible to the growth of harmful bacteria. Next, make sure to brush your dog’s teeth every-day with a made-for-dogs toothbrush and toothpaste.

While you’re brushing their teeth, be sure to check their mouth for evidence of redness, bleeding, inflammation, and broken or cracked teeth. You might want to also consider getting your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian to guarantee that nothing is missed.

Make Your Home Friendly to Senior Dogs

As dogs’ muzzles begin to gray and the walks with them get a bit slower and shorter, it becomes apparent to us that they’re really getting older. And while we may adjust how often and how hard they work out, or what we put in their food dish, we tend not to spend too much time thinking about how to make their living spaces a bit friendlier to their needs. This is a mistake, and it’s one we can easily fix.

senior dog tableIt all starts with acceptance that our dogs’ needs change as they get older. As we become more aware that our dogs are slowing down and their mobility is shrinking, we can take steps to make it easier for them to get around. An easy way to do this is to provide them with ramps so they can still go up the stairs, get on the couch, and climb into bed.

Speaking about bed, answer this question: when you’re 70+ years old, do you want to sleep on soft blankets or 20+ year-old bedsheets? We thought so. That’s why we implore you to make your senior dog’s bed as comfortable as possible! Give them soft blankets, and consider even springing for an orthopedic bed if your dog suffers from joint pain or arthritis.

Furthermore, there are other simple, low-cost ways to account for ailing joint health. One way is to account for how joint health impacts where our dogs spend their time. For example, if your kitchen has slippery flooring, an aging dog may begin to spend less time there. In order to prevent this from happening, you can install non-slip surfaces with rubber backings on any hard floors your dog walks on.

For good measure, you should also limit the frequency with which you move furniture around. As your dog ages, the strength of their senses will also begin to deteriorate. If you semi-frequently change the layout of your house, this can make navigating the home a stressful experience for a dog whose sight and smell are fading. After all, wouldn’t you be stressed if you just kept bumping into stuff in your house?

old dog homeAnother, unexpected way to do right by your senior pooch is to elevate their food and water bowls. This may seem contradictory to the advice we’ve given thus far; after all, wouldn’t doing this make it harder for them to get food and water? Yes, but also no!

While our natural instinct might tell us to lay the food and water bowls on the floor, or even bring the bowls to the dog, that may not be the best idea for their overall health. As explained by Connie Schulte, a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner at Blue Pearl Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Missouri and Kansas: “Once we start providing everything for them, they no longer have the need to get up and walk to the food or water bowl.”

With this in mind, it makes sense that we’d want to find simple ways to keep our old buddies as mobile as possible for as long as possible. Hence the suggestion to elevate the bowls off the floor. With this simple action, we end up encouraging our old dogs to get up, travel to the bowls, and remain standing while they consume. By forcing them to move around more frequently throughout the day, even in this minimal way, we end up bolstering their mobility and preventing further muscle atrophy.

Don’t Skip Those Health Check Ups

It may seem like an easy thing to do, but we strongly advise against falling into the mindset of: “I’ll wait until something is wrong before I take my pup to the vet.” This line of thinking actually goes against the consensus of most veterinarians who advise that senior dogs be examined bi-annually.
Regular, thorough physical check-ups by your veterinarian can help catch the beginnings of a variety of potentially lethal diseases and conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and more. By catching them early on, your vet can work with you to develop a treatment plan that will prevent found conditions from worsening. Remember: it is almost always easier (and cheaper) to prevent a disease than it is to treat one.

However, we know that you’re a diligent pet parent and that you’re likely to pursue solutions quickly. That’s why we know that, if your senior pupperoni ever starts displaying signs of skin infections or injuries, you’ll use Banixx Pet Care! Our antimicrobial spray offers immediate, sting-free relief from a variety of bacterial and fungal infections – all without leaving a lingering odor or relying on steroids or antibiotics. Just identify the affected area, apply Banixx once or twice daily, and watch your dog recover from anything such as an ear infection, hot spot, itchy skin, ringworm & more…Relief really can be that simple.

And so can learning ways to keep your dog happy and healthy, regardless of their age. We hope you found this article helpful and if your dog ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or hot spots, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind.

senior dog owners

Sources

  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/obesity-in-dogs-a-major-health-threat-hiding-in-plain-sight/
  • https://petobesityprevention.org/
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  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-to-feed-the-senior-dog/
  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/kidney-failure-chronic-in-dogs
  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/nutritional-needs-for-senior-dogs/
  • https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/senior-dog-food
  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nutrition-for-dogs-with-heart-disease
  • https://www.rover.com/blog/senior-dog-tips/
  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/provide-senior-dog-proper-exercise/
  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/toys-and-games-for-senior-dogs/
  • https://thebark.com/content/stay-young-keeping-older-dogs-busy
  • https://www.thehonestkitchen.com/blog/old-dogs-and-new-puppies-made-in-heaven-or-not/
  • https://www.orvis.com/dental-care-for-older-dogs
  • https://www.petmd.com/news/view/5-reasons-why-dog-dental-care-important-38003
  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_multi_senior_pet_health_tips
  • https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/senior-dog-care-9-ways-to-keep-your-aging-dog-healthy-happy/

Toyger Cats

toyger cats

In 2020, a phenomenon took the world by storm, all while we were sitting on our couches. We’re talking, of course, about Netflix’s show Tiger King. While watching Joe Exotic get his come-uppance was certainly entertaining, it sparked a curiosity in many people about the ethics of big cat ownership. As we observed through the show, the cats’ playful and exuberant nature was contrasted by Joe Exotic’s heavy hand and blase management.

But what if you could enjoy the playful nature of these majestic animals in a more bite-sized, home-friendly body (with far less scary teeth)? You can! Enter the Toyger breed. An adorable cat of recent creation that mimics the look and gait of wild tigers, these cats are friendly, intelligent, and so beautiful that it’s unfair. If you’ve never heard of them, don’t worry! By the end of this article, we’ll have you feeling like an all-knowing Toyger King (or Queen).

History of Toyger Cats

toyger kittyUnlike with many cat breeds of unknown origin, we actually know the exact person who is responsible for the inception of the Toyger: Judy Dugden, daughter of Jean Mill, the original breeder of the Bengal cat species. Developed in the 1980s, the Toyger cat gets its name by crossing the words ‘toy’ and the word ‘tiger’. Sugden’s inspiration for breeding the Toyger came after noticing one of her cats had tabby markings on their temple which she believed could be used for creating a cat with circular patterns on their head, similar to a tiger.

After deciding to embark on this journey, Sugden began formulating the exact characteristics a cat would need to have in order to bring the image of a “toy tiger” to the public’s mind: a long, muscular body, a sprawling network of tabby patterns, circular head markings previously unheard of on a domestic cat, and a long face. Eventually, she was able to achieve her goal by mixing her mother’s famed Bengal breed with a Domestic Shorthair. A Kashmirian street cat was also eventually brought into the mix to get those distinct spots behind the ears, while a cat from Delhi helped give the Toyger its characteristic sheen.

Finally, after years of development and further tweaking, the International Cat Association accepted the Toyger for registration in 1993. As of today, it is now listed as a championship breed.

Characteristics of Toyger Cats

Toyger cats’ visually stunning, orange and/or tan coat is characterized by distinct, dark stripes. However, unlike the vertical stripes that characterize mackerel tabbies or the rounded rosettes of other breeds, the Toyger has broken, branched stripes and rosettes that proliferate across and around their bodies. Like their big cat cousins, each Toyger’s stripe patterns are unique to each cat, acting almost as a fingerprint. Their thick coat is also accented by a faint glow of glitter that some breeders describe as a “dusting” of gold.

Toyger cats are medium to large in size and tend to have a surprisingly muscular definition, often weighing in between seven and fifteen pounds. To accommodate their muscular stature, their long, rectangular body is slung low to the ground while their shoulders sit high on their torso, mimicking the powerful stance of wild tigers. Toyger cats are also unique in the composition of their facial markings. According to the 2008 TICA Standards, a Toyger cat’s facial markings and stripes are circularly aligned around their face and are accented by white “thumb marks” on the back of their ears.

Personality of Toyger Cats

toyger kitten playingLike the Tiger cubs they were modeled after, Toyger cats are exceptionally playful and outgoing, often yearning to play with their owners, children, and even other pets! Whether you want to play fetch or even play in the water, your Toyger will be ready to join in the fun at the drop of a hat.

Toygers are remarkably active cats, meaning they require consistent physical and mental stimulation. Luckily, their laid-back temperament and high levels of intelligence makes them easy candidates for leash training. To keep his mind busy, consider investing in toys that reward him with treats or kibble for learning how to solve puzzles. If they’re anything like Tigers, your Toyger should learn how to manipulate any puzzle you put in front of him in no time.

But don’t worry – while their name might imply that these are some sort of ferocious or cunning felines, the Toyger breed is actually one of the most loving, affectionate cat breeds around. As much as they delight in scurrying around and pleasing you by performing tricks, they’re equally happy to laze around in your lap as you watch television or read. There really is a Toyger for everyone!

Health of Toyger Cats

Unfortunately, while the name for these cuddly cats takes inspiration from one of the strongest, most resilient big cats in the world, they’re prone to developing some health issues. Like the Bengal and Domestic Shorthair, Toyger cats can be predisposed to developing heart murmurs.

The Bengal side of the Toyger may also make them a prime candidate for developing pyruvate kinase deficiency, an inherited disorder that leads to a breakdown of red blood cells and can morph into anemia. However, the newness of the Toyger breed makes determining the probability of inheriting this condition hard to discern.

toyger stripesAdditionally, while its frequency is unknown, some Toygers are reported to suffer from a condition known as cow hocking. This painful affliction sees a cat’s hind legs turn inwards, leading their feet to point outwards which makes walking difficult.

However, the most prevalent health issue that Toygers face is one that is not limited to any single cat breed: obesity. Feline obesity, defined by Cornell’s Feline Health Center, is characterized by a body weight that is 20 percent or more above normal weight and is currently the most frequently observed nutritional disorder in domestic cats. Unfortunately, it’s also the fastest growing feline health crisis.

If left untreated, feline obesity can breed and exacerbate a variety of serious disorders including: osteoarthritis, a the erosion of cartilage in the bones; hip dysplasia, where a cat’s thigh bone will no longer fit properly into the socket of their hip; and diabetes, a condition where a cat’s pancreas can no longer regulate or produce insulin. Thankfully, there are multiple steps you can take to prevent your whiskered friend from becoming obese.

According to Carolyn McDaniel, VMD and lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, an important first step is to eliminate free feeding and switch to pre-portioned canned food. Making time in your cat’s routine for regular exercise and play are also important components of any weight management regimen (which won’t be a problem for your Toyger!). Above all, make sure that any weight loss or weight maintenance program you decide to employ is carried out under supervision of a trained veterinarian.

Grooming and Caring for Toyger Cats

toyger cat cuteGrooming a Toyger cat is a piece of cake (and much easier than grooming an actual Tiger, thank goodness.). Since their coats are relatively short, they’re not going to require constant maintenance. Most Toyger owners have found that simply brushing or combing them weekly is enough to keep them kempt. And, unless you love cat hair on the sofa, consider increasing the frequency of grooming to once per day during their shedding season.

The same ease of grooming holds true for their nails, ears, and teeth. Like all cats, Toyger cats should regularly have their nails trimmed, ears cleaned, and teeth brushed using veterinarian-approved products to ensure optimal health.

Unfortunately, doing all of the above isn’t a silver bullet to preventing the development of certain annoying maladies. Even the most attentive owners might discover that their Toyger has developed a skin infection, fungal infection, or even just gotten an owie that won’t stop irritating their purry pal. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: Banixx Pet Care! Developed without the use of pesky antibiotics or steroids, Banixx is a clinically-proven formula that provides instant, sting-free relief without leaving any lingering medicinal odor. Just identify the affected area, apply Banixx a couple of times per day, and wait for the great results.

How to Find Toyger Breeders

Due to the fact that Toyger cats are a relatively new breed, finding a reputable breeder can be a bit of a challenge. That being said, we have some tips to make this process go a heck of a lot smoother and ensure you won’t give your money to any sketchy breeders.

The first thing to remember is that any reputable breeder will proudly abide by a code of ethics that forbids them from selling to pet stores and wholesalers. This code of ethics will also outline the breeder’s responsibilities, both to their cats and to the buyers – like you. Additionally, any worthwhile breeder will be forward with the results of all necessary health certifications that screen for genetic disorders. Along those same lines, make sure to get as much information on the physical conditions of the breeding operation as possible; consider even going to check the facility yourself! Remember: any breeder worth their salt will be happy to show you around. You’ll want to make sure that the cats are being raised in sanitary conditions and that there are no sick cats to be found.

toyger kitty catAlso, be sure to ask about how the breeder is socializing the kittens. While it may not seem consequential, you’ll want to avoid buying kittens from breeders who raise kittens in isolation since kittens who aren’t raised in the home might become difficult to socialize later in life.

If the breeders that you’ve selected have websites, then keep this handy list of red flags close by to weed out potentially unreputable candidates. First, never buy a kitten from a breeder who claims there are always kittens available. Many reputable breeders will have wait periods from a few months to up to a year in advance, so a facility who always has kittens available may not be treating their cats ethically. Along those same lines, make sure to only pick from breeders who are giving the kittens at least twelve to sixteen weeks with their mothers. Any less than that and you run the risk of picking a kitten that wasn’t allowed to properly develop.

Also, if your breeder has multiple litters on the premises at once, make sure to ask them why and really probe how they’re ensuring the cats’ health and safety. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to get a satisfying answer to these questions, as having multiple litters or (worse) multiple breeds on-site is often indicative of kitten farming. While the process of question asking might sound arduous or even uncomfortable, it’s important to ensure you don’t end up with a sick or otherwise troublesome kitten.

In fact, it’s advised to approach any potential transaction with a breeder with a list of pertinent questions in-hand to avoid any potential mishaps. Some things you may want to ask them include how long they’ve been a breeder, how many cats they raise in any given year, and any information they know about the genetic defects specific to this breed. If the breeder you’re interacting with sputters or tries to dodge these questions: run. Any reputable breeder should have quick, verifiable answers to these basic questions.

Of course, you can take the guesswork out of finding a reputable breeder by leaning on certain resources available. Your veterinarian is likely to have the contact information for local breeders who they’ve verified as passing the sniff test. And, if they don’t (which may well be the case for Toygers), they’ll likely be happy to connect you with someone who does have that information. Plus, there are a growing number of Toyger-specific rescue groups that will be able to help you find your fur-ever friend. However, take note that some of these groups have limited availability and may not have what you’re looking for.

But, in between searching for breeders or rescue groups, be sure to visit our cat page to learn more about how to keep your Toyger (and other pointy-eared buddies) happy and healthy!

Sources

  • https://www.cpccares.com/blog/avoid-buying-from-kitten-puppy-farm/
  • https://tica.org/toyger-breeders
  • https://www.thesprucepets.com/heart-murmurs-in-cats-3384633
  • https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/pyruvate-kinase-deficiency/
  • https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/obesity
  • https://www.petguide.com/breeds/cat/toyger/
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