Pet Advice

What Does It Mean if Your Cat is Sneezing?

When our cats are sick, it can difficult to really understand what they are experiencing as they obviously can’t communicate with us!  When a cat sneezes, it can be equally confusing.  There are many reasons why a cat might sneeze.  If there isn’t any dischargefrom your cats’ eyes or nose and he or she is eating normally, then your kitty probably doesn’t have a cold.  However, if there is discharge from your cat’s ears or nose, then you kitty might have a cold or upper respiratory infection.

An upper respiratory infection in a cat is more like the flu in humans because it can be very difficult to cure without medical help, especially in kittens, senior cats and/or those with chronic health problems.   And, of course, any kitten, no matter how active, should be seen by a veterinarian at the first sign of a cold. However, if your cat refuses to eat or move, you should bring your cat to a veterinarian immediately.

Below are the symptoms to look out for in your kitty that might signal a respiratory infection:

Sneezing, especially occurring as a series of sneezing over the course of a few hours, or frequently over several days; discharge from the eyes or nose; this may be watery, bloody, or thick and colored clear, yellow or green; coughing or excessive swallowing (if there is drainage into the back of the mouth and throat); lethargic; loss of appetite; fever, dehydration or a raised eyelid.



How to treat a cold or upper respiratory infection

Use a vaporizer:  By using a vaporizer, it can help produce warm moist air that will help drain your cats’ nasal passages and sinuses. To treat the bacterial component of the cold, your cat will require antibiotics.

Keep your cat away from any draft:  It's important to keep your pet warm and comfortable while he or she isn’t feeling well. It's true that a cat mainly relies on his fur to keep him warm, but cold drafts provide added stress to his body, and stress can keep the immune system from functioning as it should. If necessary, move your cat's bedding to a warmer location in the house.

Keep the mucus away:  Wipe away secretions with a warm, moist paper towel and discard.  Keep the eyes and nose free of discharge using cotton moistened with warm water to remove the discharge.

Make sure your kitty drinks plenty of water: Although your cat may feel less like drinking while he's ill, it's important to keep up his fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Make sure your cat has fresh water available and feed him more moist food at this time if you normally feed you kitty dry food. Cats really take in more moisture from their food than by drinking.  

Try to get your cat to eat:  You can also try to warm up canned food or give your cat a meat flavored baby food to encourage your cat to eat.  Try adding warm chicken broth to dry food or whatever it takes to get your cat to eat.

If your cat doesn’t eat at all, he or she might need to be fed intravenously

If your cat is not eating or is dehydrated, your cat will be hospitalized and put on intravenous fluids until he is eating on his own. B vitamins and appetite stimulants may also be used to help his appetite to return. If neither of these methods help with your cat's appetite, he may need to be force fed for a while.

If the symptoms resolve only to return a few weeks later, chances are your cat does not have a cold and further blood tests will need to be taken.

If your cat’s cold is due to a herpes virus infection, he may have occasional recurrences of the symptoms. As with people, you cannot get rid of a herpes virus; all you can do is treat the symptoms when they appear.  This is why it is important to keep up with your cats’ boosters and FIV virus shots when they are kittens.

Preventing an upper respiratory infection             

Although there is no way to completely prevent a cat from getting a cold or infection, you can help boost his immune system so he is better able to fight off cold by keeping your cat’s living space clean.  Make sure to wash your cat's food bowl and water dish daily.  By keeping your cat properly vaccinated and limiting his or her exposure to the outside also helps.  Indoor cats tend to be healthier.


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When is It Time to Say Goodbye to Our Beloved Pet

There is nothing harder than watching our pets get older and start to really show the signs of old age.  It is extremely difficult when our fur kids start to lose some of their normal functions, slow down, or suffer from amnesia, deafness or a variety of different ailments.  It is natural for our pets to finally leave us to cross the Rainbow Bridge, but what is extremely heartbreaking is when we have to make the decision for them.

The following are some ways to indicate that it might be time to say goodbye.

Every pet, illness and situation is different

There is no single rule that can be followed for when it is time to help your best friend cross the rainbow bridge. Getting input from your veterinarian on the specific medical conditions that your loved one may face is vital for doing what is best for your pet. You may also benefit from having a caring friend who is not as emotionally involved in the situation as you to help you gain perspective and really see what is happening with your pet. 

When Is It Time


Sometimes, pain medicine will help and can often give your pet a new lease on life. And, of course, there are those animals that are happy to limp around the house for years on a bad leg unaware that they have a problem.  But when your animal can no longer enjoy life because of pain, it's probably time to let them go.

If your pet is in pain or suffering, you will want to help stop their suffering

You know your dog or cat well enough to know that he or she is unhappy or suffering. Usually, the light goes out of his or her eyes, he doesn’t run around, curls up in a ball and sleeps the day away. Favorite toys and treats are left untouched and sometimes they will be irritable. 

Cats tend to want to be on their own, won’t face you or will hide to mask their suffering. They might not want to be stroked anymore, will usually stop eating and there is no joy in their faces. 

You can exhaust all the options before making your decision

You owe it to yourself and your pet to exhaust all the options (if your pet isn't suffering terribly). Try not be lured by claims of miracle cures. If surgery or medication isn't the answer, try acupuncture or massage.  There are holistic remedies that might help and if you have a good veterinarian, he or she will be honest with you about the likelihood of your pet being cured or at least having more time with you.

Remember that pets live in the moment and all they know is how they feel today. By considering their perspective, we can see the world more clearly through their eyes. And their eyes are what matter.

If the bad days outweigh the good days, there is no longer a quality of life

Try to measure their quality of life to determine how good or bad your pet’s life is at this moment. Trying to assess this can be difficult, but there are some ways you can try and evaluate it. Assess the days when your pet is feeling good as well as the days when he or she is not feeling well can be helpful.  If the bad days outweigh the good, then your pet is suffering in his or her own way.  

This tough decision can be suddenly very clear to you one day

Sometimes it’s clear that it’s time to let your friend go and you just know.  If your pet doesn’t eat or can’t control when or where he poops and pees, this is indicative of his organs shutting down. Maybe all he can do is lie there or lost mobility in his legs.   When your pets’ legs go out and he or she can’t move, that’s not a good quality of life and it’s up to you to help them end their suffering. It’s a bleak outlook, but it makes the decision easier.

It really is unfortunate that our pets can’t grow old with us and live as long as we do.  They bring so much joy to our lives and unconditional love.  And it is so hard to say goodbye, but make sure to do what is right for them and know they will be in our hearts forever.


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5 Cool Bonuses of Feeding a Raw Food Diet

By Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging

Have you heard of raw feeding for pets?  The idea is to feed our pets a diet of fresh food and zero preservatives.  Like me, many people are drawn to the raw food diet after giving up on traditional treatments to combat allergies, digestive issues, or other health issues with their pet.

Rodrigo’s Story

Rodrigo is a border collie, blue heeler mix we adopted (along with his sister) in 2010.  From the start, Rodrigo had digestive issues.  I thought we were feeding him a quality food.  I was told to shop in the “high end” pet food aisle for the quality brands.  I guess I was in the wrong aisle.

Two years and four dog food brands later, I was ready to try raw feeding with our dogs.  Rodrigo had a terrible skin rash, protein and environmental allergies, chronic ear infections, joint issues, and digestive issues.  He was three years old, and I wanted him to enjoy being a dog.

pets eating raw

I transitioned our dogs to raw dog food by Darwin’s Natural Pets during the spring of 2013.  Immediately we saw improvements.  Today, more than two years later, I make our dogs food every weekend, occasionally supplementing with pre-made raw when I can get a good deal.  95% of Rodrigo’s health issues have vanished, and I add supplements to his diet for joint and digestive health.

Benefits of Raw Feeding

The list of benefits that come with feeding a dog a raw food diet is long.

    • Healthy skin and shiny coat
    • Improved digestion
    • Improved joint health
    • Improved immune system health (allergy relief)
    • Clean, white teeth; fresher breath
    • More energy
    • Healthier weight
    • Smaller, less smelly poop
    • Fewer veterinarian visits

I have witnessed all of these improvements in our adult dogs.  When we brought our puppies home two years ago, we immediately started them on raw dog food.  Today, I feed raw to four dogs.

5 Cool Bonuses of Feeding Raw Dog Food

The benefits are old news.  If you’ve done any research on the raw food diet for dogs, you would have stumbled on the above list in multiple places.  There are a few things that I didn’t expect when I transitioned to raw…

1.  I take such pride and comfort in knowing what our dogs are eating.  The more I learned about the pet food industry, preservatives used in pet food, and questionable sources for the proteins – the more afraid I became.  Today, I know exactly what our dogs eat and where it comes from, and it’s a great feeling.  If our dogs have digestive trouble or a rash (which is rare), I can fix it immediately and naturally.

2.  Our veterinarians are on our side!  At first, they weren’t too keen on us feeding our dogs a raw food diet, but when our dogs were examined, both vets were on board, because our dogs are gorgeous and healthy. 

3.  There is a HUGE raw feeding community there to support us.  Like every community, there are some pushy people out there, but for the most part, raw feeders want to help others feed their dogs better.  I’ve learned a lot from my fellow raw feeders.

4.  Raw feeding is inexpensive!  I used to think I couldn’t afford to feed raw dog food, and if I was still buying pre-made, I wouldn’t be able to afford the diet.  I was introduced to a local raw food co-op and was able to slice my monthly budget IN HALF!

5.  Lots of variety.  Although I fall in love with things and eat them daily for months, for the most part, I don’t want the same meal every morning and every evening.  I don’t think our dogs want this either.  Feeding raw allows me to alternate their meals and offers a lot of variety that I couldn’t do on a dry food diet.   In the past two weeks, our dogs have had turkey, venison, elk, and rabbit.

Raw feeding is one of many healthy choices for dogs.  Becoming a raw feeder doesn’t mean that I’m better or smarter than other dog lovers; it simply means that I made a choice that I believe is right for our dogs.  If you want to learn more about raw feeding, take your time and do your homework.  There are plenty of books, e-books, and communities that will provide you with a lot of information.  Do not allow anyone to push you into raw feeding until you’re ready and don’t allow yourself to be made to feel bad should you decide that raw feeding isn’t appropriate for you and your dog.

About the Author:  Kimberly Gauthier is the blogger behind Keep the Tail Wagging, a blog about raw feeding, dog supplements, and raising littermates.  Kimberly and her boyfriend are raising two sets of littermates in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy a property with plenty of room to run and explore.  Kimberly finished her first e-book on raw feeding called Raw Feeding from A to Z.  Rodrigo, Sydney, Scout and Zoey are all herding mix dogs, including Blue Heeler, Border Collie, Catahoula, Australian Shepherd, and Labrador (a lover, not a herder).


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6 Tips to Stop Your Cats from Destroying Your Furniture!

Our cats love to scratch anything and everything, especially as kittens.  Cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent and to stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws. Since declawing is not an option (and inhumane), below are six tips to help you keep your cat’s nails intact and prevent your furniture from being destroyed.

1. Figure out what your cat likes to scratch

Watch your kitties’ patterns and try to figure out what they like to claw.  Most cats like a textured surface or anything they can really sink their claws into (like beds or couches), but each cat is different.  Some cats scratch as they stand up against a vertical surface; others like to scratch on all fours and stick their butts up in the air for a good stretch.  Once your figure out what your cat likes to scratch, you can then figure out a way to stop them.

2. Cover the areas where your cats like to scratch or use citrus!

Cats like texture so cover the areas where you don’t want your cats to scratch with things they will find unappealing on their paws, such as double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, sheets of sandpaper or a plastic carpet runner with the pointy side up.  You don’t have to keep them up permanently but just in the early phases.

Cat Scratching Furniture

So this is where I’m supposed to scratch!

Many cats don't like the odor of citrus or menthol so you can even put that smell on the above to double the effect.  Orange oil on and around your furniture might just do the trick.  Cats also dislike the flavor of citrus fruits, so you can use it to discourage them from chewing on things.

3. Scratching pads and rope are great distracting scratching posts

A sturdy rope-covered upright post, a flat scratch pad of corrugated cardboard, the back side of a piece of carpet are all different post and pads that your cat will like.  A scratching object can be free-standing, flat on the floor, or hang from a doorknob, whatever your cat desires. Rub a little catnip onto the post or attach a toy to the top to make it even more attractive.  You need to redirect the scratching to the correct place.

4. Place the posts in your cats’ favorite scratching places

Watch for which pieces of furniture your kitty has clawed and their locations. If it is always the chair you sit in most, locate a scratching post near it and maybe leave a piece of your laundry on the top for a while or use its top tray as a drop spot for personal items so that your cat sees it as part of your territorial marker, like your favorite chair.   Cat trees are a great way to give your cats their own ‘homes’ where they can scratch and sit.

5. Try clapping to discourage your cat from scratching

Never hit your cat or yell at him or her; a simple “no” will do. If you do catch your cat shredding a "naughty spot," interrupt your cat by making a loud noise (clap your hands, shake a can of pennies or pebbles, slap the wall) and redirect her scratching to one of the acceptable items. Do this consistently to teach her that your furniture is bad, your scratching post is good!  And praise your cat with a nice rub down.

6. Trim your cat’s claws every few weeks

Indoor cats don't wear down their claws as quickly as outdoors ones do so they can become overgrown. Untrimmed claws can grow into the cat's pads, leading to infection, pain, and difficulty walking and using the litter box. Check your cat's claws every couple of weeks to see if they need to be clipped. If it is too hard for you to clip them, a groomer can help.  And, of course, the shorter the claws, the less likely they will scratch your furniture to get rid of their claws.

Keep your cat’s claws short, redirect your cat’s scratching to the correct posts and your furniture should remain intact!


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How to Stop Your Dog from Destructive Behavior!

We love our dogs and want them to be happy, healthy and behave properly in our homes.  When a dog or dogs start acting destructively, there is usually a reason why this behavior just started (assuming they are not puppies).  It is important to figure out why they are behaving this way and then determine the proper way to stop this behavior.

Figure out the time when your dog is most full of energy and then acting out

Is your dog always full of energy and always acting out the most during the day? Does your dog constantly chew on things, run in circles, bark, and wreak havoc in your home?  Your dog is acting out because he or she has too much pent up energy.  So, therefore, you need to increase the play time for your dogs and/or take your dog out more.

destructive behavior

Who me, destructive?!

In order to get rid of that excess energy, try taking your dog on different walks, go for a run, or a new park.  Play fetch with your dog every night and/or even before work.  The more exercise, and activity will leave a happier, more relaxed dog at home who will most likely be too tired to act up. 

Your dog could be acting destructively to seek your attention

If your dog is barking all day long, chewing on your furniture, or chasing his tail around all day long, he might be seeking your attention.  When our dogs act out destructively, it is only natural for us to tell him ‘bad dog’ or try to get their attention to help stop the behavior.  Even negative attention is attention in our dogs mind and then they will continue to act out destructively.

The best thing you can do if you think your dog is trying to get your attention, you will need to simply walk away when they are barking or ignore it.  If you just turn away, they will hopefully stop this behavior and realize this is not seeking your attention. 

Your dog might be feeling anxious or alone and is lashing out

If you just changed your work schedule and/or your kids just went back to school, your dogs might be acting out destructively because he is upset of feeling alone. Your dog could be destroying items in your home, throw a tantrum and start barking, pacing, defecating in inappropriate places in an attempt to get you back to your old schedule or just for leaving him alone for too long.

If the above is the case, the best cure for anxiety is to create a sense of independence in your dog.   Try leaving your dog in short intervals and coming back so your dog gets used to the idea of your being gone.  Don’t always take him on every outing so you can come and go and your dog will get used to being alone.  And, make sure he has toys to keep him company while you are gone.

Determine if your dog is simply bored and in turn is acting destructively

If you leave your dog in a specific area or something that is not fun or comfortable, your dog could be acting destructively because he or she is bored.  Make sure that when you leave, you have a nice place for your dog to reside with a comfy bed or blanket.  Also, as mentioned above, make sure your dog has plenty of toys to play with that will keep your dog distracted.  Try switching the toys around so your dog will be entertained and he'll think it’s a treat when he gets an old toy to play with that’s been hidden away.  

Place the toys in different areas of your home to let your dogs’ explore.  You need to give your dogs’ things to do in order to keep them from being bored and in turn acting destructively.

Try keeping your home calm and peaceful to prevent destructive behavior

Make sure to provide your dog with a calm and peaceful environment to keep your dog at peace. Your dog is more likely to be annoying and overactive if he or she is already in a chaotic environment. Turn the television down lower and close any doors where sound can impact her negatively.  Maybe your dog is reacting to a neighbors’ dog that is barking all day long.  If you think this is the case, try turning on some comforting music that will help keep your dog calm and relaxed.

Once you figure out why your dog is acting destructively, you can then determine a solution.  Exercise is key, great toys and the right kind of positive attention when your dog behaves the right way.


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