Pet Advice

Tips to Properly Care for Your New Pig!

Pigs can be great pets and provide your home with joy and laughter.  Pigs are better suited for homes (not apartments) so they can have some room outside and inside.  Pigs are not ideal for small children as they can be intimidating to your kids.  Pigs are clean pets, very healthy and with a little love, care and the proper housing, they can thrive and become a happy member of your family.

Pigs are mostly outdoor pets

While some pigs enjoy being inside the house, they also require outdoor time to root around, relax in the sun. Pigs acquire certain critical nutrients from soil and therefore must be given an opportunity to be outdoors. You can keep your pig outside during the day and allow him to sleep inside at night. While outdoors, your pig will need to be protected from the elements. Provide your pig with a properly secured yard, a house with bedding and with an overhead shelter like a tarp or canopy to protect him from the sun, wind and rain. If given a choice, some pigs prefer to live outdoors, so need to provide a proper outdoor home.

Care For Your New Pig

I love the outdoors!

Pigs need a certain enclosure for sleeping

Many pet owners use doghouses or a shed for their pigs to sleep in outdoors. If your pig sleeps indoors, he or she should have his own cozy bed filled with bedding, a large crate or a children’s play tent are all good. Pigs living indoors need comfortable soft bedding. Outdoor houses can be packed with straw or hay.

You should plan ahead and ‘pig-proof’ your home

As you would for any pet, make sure that household cleaning products, insecticides, medicines, lighter fluid and other toxins are out of reach. Remove plants that could harm your pig. Take potted indoor plants off the floor and don’t leave handbags within reach. Pigs love lipstick and chewing gum! If needed, secure your cabinets with childproof locks. Avoid feeding your pig out of the refrigerator…if your pig learns to open the fridge door, you might have to install a latch! Tape up computer, telephone and electrical wires where possible. We recommend that pigs be kept away from open swimming pools as you would with dogs.

Pigs get along great with cats

Pigs and cats have been known to get along great. Dogs, however, are another story, and it is best to separate your pig from your dogs. While your small dog may eventually get along with your pig, they must always be closely supervised. As tame as your dog may be, keep in mind that dogs are natural predators of pigs and can turn on pig even years after living together. A dog can easily kill a pig. Don’t leave your pig and dog unattended.

Pigs tends to thrive on grains and protein

You should feed your pig a combination of grains and protein. Pigs love corn, barley, wheat; the rest of his or her diet should consist of protein-rich foods, such as dairy products like cottage cheese, whey, yogurt, milk powder or even ice cream.  They also like fruits and vegetables.

Provide plenty of fresh water for your pig, ensuring that you replace the water daily to prevent parasites or insects from getting inside the water bowl or bucket.

Pigs love human connection and/or touch

Scratch your pig on its back or belly. Pigs loved to be scratched and often scratch themselves against anything that doesn't move. Excessive scratching, however, could indicate a disease or insect bites. If this is the case, take your pig to a veterinarian that knows how to care for pigs.

Most pigs don’t like their feet touched. If you need to trim your pig’s hooves, it's best to scratch his or her stomach first to get it to relax a bit.

Make sure to play with your pig

You should play with your pig and give him toys, such as buckets, balls and chew toys. Pigs are very playful animals, but they get bored quickly so rotate the toys on a regular basis.

Pigs are smart and curious creatures

Remember that pigs are very smart and curious. Once they learn how to do something (pull up the carpet, open the fence door, and so on) they won't forget and you need to stay one step ahead of them. They can also be very sneaky and might try to manipulate you to get their way.  So, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get out or do something that you might not like!

Pigs are very healthy pets

With proper care, most pigs have few health problems. However, there are several serious problems that occasionally arise. Pigs can become easily constipated, leading to impacted bowels, which is a life-threatening condition. It is important that you provide your pigs with a high-fiber diet and plenty of fresh water. Male pigs can also have serious urinary tract problems, which can be costly to repair.  Don’t overfeed your pig as obese pigs will inevitably have crippling joint problems, respiratory problems, both conditions can lead to immobility and his or her end.

With the proper care, enclosure, and diet, your pig will thrive and be a new happy member of your family.

 

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How to Deal with Common Cat Quirks

While we all love our feline friends dearly, there are times when our cats can be a tad high maintenance.  Sometimes after a little catnip or not as much attention as they think they deserve, our cats become hyper and do naughty/annoying things to keep us on our toes!  Or because they can.

It is important that we cat owners do our part and make sure to have time to play with our cats so they don’t become too antsy or bored, feed them a well-balanced food and provide plenty of water for them.  The more satiated and/or well fed they are in the day, the less likely they will cause havoc in your home.

Below are some recommendations on how to deal with some common cat issues:

Cat litter all over the floor or carpet

If you’re using clumping litter and are tired of how it sometimes sticks to the cat litter pan, you can try using a little non-stick spray to stop this problem. Wash the litter pan, let it dry, spray some non-stick spray inside the pan and make it is completely dry before putting litter back in. It should help keep the clumps from cementing to the pan.  You can also buy a pine litter product that does not stick to the litter box and doesn’t track litter all over the carpet or floor.  It also smells nice and is great for those cat owners who have allergies.

Your cat attacks your feet while you walk around

If your cat attacks your toes or feet while you are trying to walk around your house, redirect this behavior with a toy. You may want to have a few toys on strings or feather toys in different rooms. You can even walk around holding the toy, like a fishing pole, and let the cat play with that instead of your toes or feet.  And, of course, when your kitty does the right thing, make sure to praise the correct behavior and eventually your kitty will choose the toy and not your feet!

Cat Tips and Solutions

 

Your kitty eats around the food bowl

If your cat seems to walk away from the food bowl, it might not be the food.  Try getting a new food bowl first as it is easier to transition a cat to new bowl. Sometimes if a cat’s whiskers touch the edges of a bowl they will back away from it. The width of the bowl may seem too small. You can switch to a flatter bowl or even a plate before trying to see if it’s the food or a health issue.  Sometimes that is all it takes before your kitty is devouring his or her meal.

Your cat tends to chew on your computer or electric cords

If your cat chews on your electric cords, it is not only bad for your cat, but can destroy your cords.  You can purchase flex tubing that can be placed over multiple cords and you can wrap them up inside. It tidies up your space and also keeps the cat from accidentally being electrocuted, the latter which is most important!

Your kitty loves to dig up your potted plants

Does your cat think digging in potted plants is a fun pastime? To curb this behavior, you can sprinkle a little powered habanero pepper on the soil. The smell of it will repulse your cat, and if some gets on his or her paws, a little lick will quickly associate the potted plants with a negative consequence. But, be very sparing as it can harm your cat if they ingest a large dose.  And usually once they make the association of yucky smell and plants, you won’t have to repeat the process.

Your cat seems to stay up all night because he is wound up

If you have a very active cat that wants to play when you come home and won’t stop bugging you, try to keep a variety of toys around. Spend a few minutes each day playing and creating a routine that works best for both of you. This way your cat will slowly know that before dinner she gets to play with a fishing rod toy and after dinner (or right before you go to sleep) it’s time to nap and receive a ton of affection.  With a little play routine each night, you and your kitty will sleep a lot better.

We love our cats and want them (and us) to remain happy and healthy and live a long time in our household where we all can thrive.

 

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How to Housetrain Your Puppy – Do’s and Don’ts!

When you first bring a puppy into your home, there will be many new things for the two of you to learn.  The first and biggest hurdle for your young puppy is housetraining.  The best way to actually get your puppy housetrained is to reward your puppy for eliminating where you want him to and by preventing him from doing so in places where he shouldn’t.  If possible, you should try to keep confining him and crate training to a minimum until your puppy learns the proper housetraining.

Each puppy has a different time frame in learning to be housetrained

Some puppies learn when and where not to eliminate at a very young age, while others take longer to understand. Most puppies can be housetrained by five to six months old. Some puppies seem to catch on early but then regress. This is normal. Keep in mind that it may take a while for your puppy to develop bowel and bladder control. He may be mentally capable of learning to eliminate outdoors instead of inside, but he may not yet be physically capable of controlling his body.  Not that different from getting your child to be potty- trained.

Housetrain Your Puppy

Give me time and I will learn!

The goal is to have your puppy get through the night without any accidents

All puppies are different, but a puppy can usually only hold in his waste for the same number of hours as his age in months. A five-month-old puppy should not be left alone for more than five consecutive hours without your letting him or her to go outside. Usually, a puppy can last longer at night, since he sleeps more and is relatively inactive. By the time your pup is about five months old, he should be able to make it through the night without going outside.

Below are some additional overall tips to help you housetrain your pup successfully:

Try to clean the spots where your puppy has an accident with a strong, enzyme based cleanser to help reduce any odor that could attract the puppy back to the same spot.

Once your puppy is house trained in your home, he may still have accidents when visiting others’ homes. And this is normal and to be expected.  Puppies need to generalize their learning to new environment, however, just because they seem to know something where to eliminate (or not) in one place doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically know that everywhere. You’ll need to watch your puppy carefully when you visit new places together and be sure to take him out often.

Further, if something in your puppy’s environment changes, your puppy most likely will have a lapse in house training.   If you bought a new piece of furniture, your puppy might think this is a new place to pee!

House training requires an investment of time and effort and sometimes you might think it will never happen, but you can do it.  If you’re consistent, your hard work will pay off. Hang in there! If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified professional or a dog trainer to teach you and your puppy how to successfully be house trained.

Below are some tips of what you shouldn’t do if your puppy is not quick at housetraining:

You should never rub your puppy’s nose in his waste if he isn’t successful at holding it.

Please do not yell or scold your dog for eliminating indoors. Instead, if you catch him in the act, make a noise to startle him and stop him from urinating or defecating. Then immediately show your dog where you want him to go by taking him outside, waiting until he goes, and then praising and rewarding him.

You should never physically punish your puppy for accidents (hitting with newspaper, spanking, nothing physical). Realize that if your puppy has accidents in the house, you were not adequately supervising him or her.  Your puppy is like a baby and if you don’t take him outside frequently enough and/ or missed his signals that he needed to go outside, it’s your fault not his!

Confining your puppy to a small area for hours each day is not a way to housetrain.  You need to teach him and let him or her out frequently.

If your puppy is eliminating in his crate, than don’t crate him and leave him there.

If your puppy enjoys being outside, don’t bring him inside right after he eliminates or he may learn to “hold it” while outside so that he can stay out there longer.

Do not clean with an ammonia-based cleanser. Urine contains ammonia. Cleaning with ammonia could attract your puppy back to the same spot to urinate again. Instead, use an enzymatic cleanser that is safe for your puppy.

Housetraining is a process but with time, effort and rewards, you can teach a puppy to be housetrained.  Positive feedback and love is also a great encouragement.

 

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Hot Spots on Our Dogs- Uncomfortable but Treatable!

Hot Spots are areas of the dog’s skin that become irritated and inflamed and are very uncomfortable for our pups. These spots are usually a circular shape and are accompanied by hair loss, inflammation and sometimes a discharge of pus. Hot spots are actually a form of dermatitis and may result from allergy, flea infestation, behavioral problems or other causes. It is important to treat hot spots right away to prevent spreading.

Anything that irritates the skin and causes a dog to scratch or lick himself can start a hot spot. Hot spots can be caused by allergic reactions, insect, mite or flea bites, poor grooming, underlying ear or skin infections and constant licking and chewing prompted by stress or boredom.

Below are some steps you can try at home to cure the hot spot as soon as they appear:

1. Trim your dog’s hair carefully from around the hot spot so the area will be easier to keep clean. Clean the area with a mild antiseptic. You can use cotton balls to gently dab the area with the cleaning solution.

2.  Apply a cool compress to the hot spot for five minutes three to four times a day to soothe your dog's sore skin.  Make sure your dog is flea free. Hot spots often occur due to flea bites. The fleas must be eliminated in order to prevent further skin irritation.

Hot Spots On Dogs

Hot spots are no fun!

3.  Soothe sore hot spots with a dab of Vitamin E oil. Vitamin E oil is well known for its healing effects and dogs can also benefit from the oil. Dab Vitamin E oil on the affected area two to three times a day to help loosen the crusty areas that have formed and aid healing. It will soothe your dog’s itchy skin as well.

4.  Bathe the affected area of skin with cool tea to speed healing. Tea contains tannic acid which aids the healing process. Dab the affected area with a cotton ball that has been soaked in tea that has cooled. Repeat the process three to four times daily.

Make an appointment with your veterianian if the hot spots don’t go away immediately

If the above doesn’t work immediately, call your veterinarian to make an appointment as your veterinarian will prescribe something stronger or might give your dog any of the following:

antibiotics and painkillers, medication to prevent and treat parasites, an E-collar or other means to prevent self-trauma as the area heals, corticosteroids or antihistamines to control itching.

The following tips can help in the prevention of hot spots:

Make sure your dog is groomed on a regular basis and your dog’s hair is clipped short, especially during warmer months.

Feed your dog a healthy, fat-enriched diet.  If you've been shopping for bargains, you may need to upgrade to a premium dog food. Feeding your dog a good nutritious source of food can help heal skin irritation and prevent further irritation from developing. If your dog suffers from recurring skin conditions or has dull, thin fur, a change in his or her diet may be needed.

Give your dog a daily vitamin supplement that contains fatty acids known as Omega 3. This will help to heal hot spots and other skin conditions. Omega 3 fatty acids will speed healing, promote healthy skin and fur, and prevent further break outs of hot spots or other skin irritation.

Follow a strict flea control program as recommended by your veterinarian especially if you live in an area which is prone to fleas.  This will get you ahead of the hot spots.

Try to maintain as stress-free an environment for your dog as possible as he or she can break out in hot spots when stressed.

As always, make sure your dog gets adequate exercise and opportunities for play and interaction with his human family and, if he enjoys it, with other dogs.  Dogs frequently start to itch and/or scratch themselves just out of boredom which can then turn to hot spots.

Hot spots take time to heal

Don't expect a hot spot to go away overnight. It will take a little time for the skin to heal and the fur to grow back.  Check the spots daily to see if the area is healing. If the hot spot appears to get worse, consult your veterinarian immediately.

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Walking Your Cat On a Leash – It Can Be Done!

While most of our felines today are indoor cats, the majority of our kitties would like to get a glimpse of the outside world.  And, if your kitty is new to the outdoors, we cat owners would never just let them out to explore as we would be afraid of the repercussions.  Therefore, wouldn’t it be great to take your cat out walking on a leash where you can supervise?  While this seems like a nearly impossible task, with time, patience and practice, you can have your cat walking on a leash outdoors with you!

Make sure to purchase a harness and leash designed for cats

There are harnesses designed for cats with a leash attachment toward the middle on these harnesses rather than at the neck, which is much safer and less stressful for your kitty. If your cat runs up a tree or gets caught somewhere, a standard collar could strangle him, and a breakaway collar will detach.  And cats are extremely flexible and able to fit through tiny, awkward spaces. It isn't uncommon for cats to find a way out of their collars. You don't want this worry while you're outdoors with your cat.

Walking Cat On A Leash

This is so fun!

Start slowly and do your training when your cat is hungry and not sleepy

Make sure to do your training sessions when your cat is hungry. Make sure to break treats into very small pieces as your kitty's cooperation will decrease in direct proportion to how quickly her tummy gets full. Cats don't have a desire to please their owners like dogs do, so food treats are their primary incentive.  Try limiting treat-giving to training sessions so you don’t overfeed your cat.

Start slow and take baby steps. As anyone knows who has tried to train their cat, most will do what they want, when they want, for however long they want. But kitties do actually respond to food treats, verbal praise and praise in the form of love, rubs and kisses.

Practice indoors and let your cat get used to the feeling of a harness

You need to get your cat used to wearing the harness and leash before going outside. Put the harness on your cat, making sure it's snug but not too tight. The second you've got the harness on, before you let go of her, give your kitty a treat. If she takes a step in the harness, give her a treat, praise her and pat her on the head. Repeat the treating and praising if she continues to move about in her harness.

If your cat seems frozen in place or completely hates it and runs to hide, remove the harness and give a treat as a peace offering. Try leaving the harness near your cat's food bowl at mealtime and near her favorite napping spot for a few days to get her used to seeing it in places she associates with good things.

Or try holding the harness and a few treats and when/if kitty sniffs the harness, give her a treat. Next hold the harness against her body and offer a treat. As she sniffs the treat, slowly pull the harness away and let her eat the treat.  Giving treats immediately is crucial because you want your cat to connect a desired action with getting a treat.

Keep praising your kitty as she gets used to the harness

As your cat learns to tolerate the harness and leash for longer periods, give her a constant stream of verbal praise, head pats and food treats while she's wearing it. When she's done with a training session, meaning she's dropped to the ground, her tail is switching, remove the harness immediately. You want to end the session with your cat feeling confident and in control.

Next step outside with the harness

Once your cat is walking around in his harness and leash in a normal manner, you can step outside the door. Depending on your kitty’s tolerance, you might spend the next few weeks getting down the front walk or onto the grass. Or, if your kitty likes it out there, you could be walking in a week or so. If your neighborhood has lots of traffic noise, dogs, or other distractions that your cat views as threatening, try taking her to a quieter area where she's less exposed to frightening sights and sounds.

Now try to take your cat out for a little longer walk

Try to take your cat a little farther on each outing. When your kitty's eagerly exploring a new area with his tail up, take another baby step.  However, make sure that your cat doesn't pick up anything in her mouth or lick anything. And no tree climbing for leashed cats. It's too dangerous on many levels.

Don't tie your cat's leash to something and leave her outside, EVER. If something spooks your cat, she could get tangled in the leash. If she's threatened by another animal or even a person, she can't get away. Your kitty should never be outside unattended for any reason.  See how your kitty adjusts and you will know how long you can stay outdoors walking.

Remember that there could be setbacks when walking your cat outdoors

One day, your cat might be fine walking out on a leash and the next day, he or she won’t budge.   Just go back to the last place when your cat was comfortable and move forward with baby steps. And unless your kitty is in harm's way, resist the urge to pick up your cat if something spooks him. It's better for your cat’s confidence if you can leave him on the ground at his own pace.

With time, effort, practice and a lot of patience, you can get your cat walking on a leash.

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