Pet Forum

Rabbit Care 101 – Tips to Care for Your Newly Adopted Rabbit

 

If you just adopted a rabbit and are not sure how to care for new bunny, don’t be nervous.  Rabbits are adorable, affectionate pets that you can fit into your family with a little time and effort.  For the most part, rabbits should be kept inside for them to thrive and keep them safe and healthy. Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who need affection, and they can become wonderful companion animals if given a chance to interact with their human families just as any rabbit should!

First you need to rabbit-proof your home

Rabbit-proofing your home is part of living with a house rabbit (not unlike young infants). Just like cats or dogs, it is only natural for rabbits to chew on furniture, rugs, drapes, and electrical cords.  Cords must be concealed so that the rabbit cannot reach them. Exposed cords can be encased in vinyl tubing to protect your rabbit and your electric cords.

Rabbit Care 101 Graphic

If you give your rabbit enough attention, chewables, and toys, your rabbit will keep busy and hopefully stop chewing furniture and rugs. A cardboard box stuffed with hay makes an inexpensive play-box. Young rabbits (under a year) are more inclined to mischief and require more confinement and/or bunny-proofing than mature rabbits, like puppies!

Below are a list of the different items you will need for your new rabbit:

Housing essentials include:  a roomy cage, resting board, litter box that goes in the cage, pellet bowl or feeder, water bottle/crock, toys, and a pet carrier.

What you should be feeding your rabbits:

Limited pellets daily, fresh water, hay /straw (for digestive fiber and chewing recreation), fresh veggies, barley in small amount, wood (for the right chewing), multiple enzymes as a digestive aid.

Grooming list for your rabbit:

A flea comb, brush, flea products safe for rabbits, toenail clippers

Think about spaying or neutering your rabbits:

Although most rabbits will use a litterbox, hormones may cause unneutered males and unspayed females to mark their territory. Spaying or neutering your rabbit improves litterbox habits, lessens chewing behavior, decreases territorial aggression, and gives your rabbit a happier, longer life. Have your rabbit neutered between the ages of three to six months, depending on the rabbit’s sexual maturity by an experienced veterinarian.

Make sure your rabbits get exercise

Rabbits may have free run of the home and it is important that they have the freedom as they need to get exercise. However, it's best for most and necessary for some to start with a cage. To make cage time learning time, fasten a litterbox in the corner of the cage that your rabbit chooses for a "bathroom." As soon as your rabbit uses the box consistently, you can give him some freedom. Place one or more large litterboxes in corners of the running area outside the cage.  Always use positive reinforcement and never punish your rabbit.

Rabbits tend to get along well with cats and dogs

House rabbits and indoor cats can get along fine, as do rabbits and well-mannered dogs. Dogs should be trained to respond to commands before being trusted with a free-running rabbit, and supervision is needed to control a dog's playful impulses (this is especially true for puppies).  If you want to add another rabbit to your family, rabbits that are neutered adults of opposite sexes work best and they should be introduced for short periods in an area unfamiliar to both rabbits.

Health problems that are common in rabbits:

Intestinal blockages

Because rabbits groom themselves constantly, they can get furballs just as cats do. Unlike cats, however, rabbits cannot vomit, and excessive swallowed hair may cause a fatal blockage. Rabbits can also develop a serious condition known as GI stasis which has many of the same symptoms.

If your rabbit shows a decrease in appetite and in the size of droppings, get advice from a rabbit veterinarian. 

If you keep your bunny brushed (less hair is swallowed) and give them a handful of hay daily, this should help with blockages.

Bacterial issues

A rabbit's digestive tract is inhabited by healthful bacteria. If the good bacteria balance is upset by stale food or a sudden change in diet, harmful bacteria can take over the digestive track and kill the rabbit.

If you keep all rabbit food in a cool dry place and make dietary changes slowly, giving a new food in small amounts, this should help. If no abdominal gurgling or loose stool results in 24 hours, the food may be offered again. If your rabbit goes outside, check for pesticides and toxic plants.

Infectious bacteria

Many rabbit diseases are caused by bacteria, not viruses, and can be treated with antibiotics. If your rabbit shows symptoms of a "cold," take him to a veterinarian familiar with antibiotics that can be safely used in rabbits. Oral drugs of the Penicillin family, such as Amoxicillin, should NOT be given to a rabbit, since there is risk of destroying good intestinal bacteria.

Find an experienced veterinarian before a problem develops. If your rabbit has been harassed by a predator, take him to a veterinarian even if no injuries are apparent. When it is over, keep your rabbit cool with nearby wet towels or ice.

Regularly check your rabbit’s eyes, nose, ears, teeth, weight, appetite, and droppings, as you would in any cat or dog.

If you make sure to give your new rabbit plenty of exercise, a healthy diet and proper grooming, your rabbit will thrive and become an integral part of the family.  

 

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Food (And Other Items) That Are Dangerous to Your Cats

As you've probably discovered by now, your cat is an amazingly curious and resourceful hunter of new things to encounter and eat. Our felines will climb on countertops, open cabinets, and be their curious selves adding fun and mischief to our lives.  Unfortunately, some of these new discoveries can be harmful or even fatal which is why it is important to keep most locked up and out of reach.

Below is a list of food and some common household items you need to keep out of your cat or kitten's reach and definitely out of his or her mouth!

Xylitol in sugar free treats can be very harmful to your cat

Xylitol, which can be found in most sugar free gum or low calorie treats, can be very toxic to cats. It can prompt a sudden release of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia. Signs that your cat may have swallowed a product containing xylitol include a sudden lack of coordination, vomiting, lethargy and, eventually, seizures and possibly coma. Ultimately a cat that eats xylitol may end up with liver failure, which can sometimes be fatal.

Raw eggs whites can harmful to kitties

Raw egg whites contain an enzyme that destroys certain B vitamins. Raw egg yolks are OK as an occasional treat, but they must be separated from the whites.  Cooked egg yolks are also OK and preferred to raw, but not on a daily basis.

cat food dangerous picture

Watch out – I might eat anything!

Raw bread dough can upset your cat’s stomach

Raw bread dough made with live yeast can be hazardous to cats. When a cat swallows raw dough, the warm, moist environment of the stomach provides an ideal environment for the yeast to multiply, resulting in an expanding mass of dough in the stomach. Expansion of the stomach can be severe enough to decrease blood flow to the stomach wall and affect breathing.  All rising yeast dough should be kept out of reach of cats.

Chocolate (especially dark) can be very dangerous to our cats

Most cats don’t have a sweet tooth. However, some will eat foods containing chocolate, such as chocolate candy, cookies, brownies and chocolate baked goods. These and other chocolate-flavored treats can cause chocolate intoxication in cats. The compounds in chocolate that are toxic are caffeine and theobromine, which belong to a group of chemicals called methylxanthines. These compounds cause stimulation of the heart and nervous system. The rule of thumb with chocolate is that the darker it is, the more dangerous it is. Cats showing more than mild restlessness should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Ethanol in alcoholic beverages can also be harmful to cats

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol and drinking alcohol, can be very dangerous for cats. Due to their small size, cats are far more sensitive to ethanol than humans are. Even drinking a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Cats are often attracted to mixed drinks that contain milk, cream or ice cream. Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death can occur. Cats who are intoxicated should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover.

Moldy food (except cheese) can be dangerous to cats

A wide variety of molds grow on food. Some molds produce toxins which can cause serious or even life-threatening problems if eaten. Cats tend to be finicky, but they can eat molds that grow on dairy products, like cheese and cream cheese. The signs of this poison generally begin as fine muscle tremors that progress to whole-body tremors and, finally, convulsions that can lead to death in severe cases. Left untreated, these tremors can last for several weeks. Fortunately, they usually respond well to appropriate veterinary treatment.

Onions and Garlic, especially, can harm your cats

All members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain compounds that can damage cats’ red blood cells if eaten in sufficient quantities. Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions on an ounce-for-ounce basis, and cooking does not destroy the toxin. While it’s uncommon for cats to eat enough raw onions and garlic to cause serious problems, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, can put cats at risk of poisoning.  Green tomatoes and raw potatoes can cause violent lower digestive symptoms.

Your medication can be harmful to your kitties

Common pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are very toxic to our feline friends. Cats don't have the enzymes needed to detoxify and eliminate these substances, so they can cause liver or kidney failure. Other human drugs that are commonly involved in accidental poisoning include antidepressants, antihistamines, sleeping pills, diet pills, blood pressure medications and vitamins. Alcohol can also be are extremely hazardous to cats.

Some household plants can be dangerous to your cats

A number of common household plants can cause toxic reactions from vomiting all the way to hallucinations, convulsions, and death. Some plants to remove from your house: Dieffenbachia (dumb cane); lilies, daffodils, crocuses or other bulb flowers; ivy; and spider plants.  

I hope that your cat never eats or ingests any of these items; however, if you think that your cat might have eaten any of the above listed food/medicine, contact your veterinarian or local animal hospital animal immediately for further tests.  

 

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What to Feed Your Dog in Today’s Crazy Recall World!

When you first adopt a dog (we hope) or are in the process of trying to transition your dog to a healthier dog food, it can be tough. There are so many different kinds of dog food on the market that it can be confusing to even know where to start. And with so many recalls in the last year, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with what is good for your dog and what isn’t!  The good news is that our dogs, unlike cats, are usually less particular about their dog food and will usually eat all kinds of food. 

Below are some tips on how to find the best food for your dog:

Your veterinarian is always a good place to start

Your dog’s genetics, age, life style and tastes all play a role in how much and what your dog should eat. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations for your dog contingent on your dog’s body size, breed, age and health. There might be a medical issue to take into consideration or if your dog is overweight, it will narrow down the choices.  Once you get a recommendation from your vet, you can then do some research on your own.

Learn how to read the label on your dog’s food

The first ingredient in your dog's food should be a specified meat, not a meat by-product, but the real thing. If the first ingredient in your dog food is a corn, wheat, meat by-product, bone meal or anything but a real specified type of meat, move on to another food. By-products are the leftovers, such as the eyes, hooves, skin, feathers and feet that are not good for your dog.  Watch out for ingredients that do not list exactly what it is, such as words like "animal" and "meat" as opposed to "chicken," "beef," "duck," etc.  

Chicken meal, found in many dog food brands is a combination of the most unfavorable chickens that are left over and then rendered just like byproducts.   Take a look at this great video by Halo Pets on what chicken meal actually is in your food:

 

 

Therefore be aware that if the ingredients read "chicken" first and "corn meal" second, the food may contain more corn than chicken. Corn is a filler that a dog's body does not utilize well, if at all. The corn gets pooped out and the dog must eat more food in order to get enough protein and nutrients that their bodies can use from the other ingredients in the food.

Do your due diligence to see if the dog food you choose has been recalled

If you find a dog food that you think will be a good fit for your dog, you can easily go on-line to see if the food has been recalled.  With so much information at our fingertips, it shouldn’t be difficult to see if the brand or the particular food has been recalled or has unfavorable reviews.

Once you find the dog food that is the right choice, buy it in bulk

When you are feeding your dog a healthier brand, it tends to be a little more expensive.  However, the healthier food that you feed the dog, the more likely your veterinarian bills will go down.   Feed your dog the same type and brand of food every day. Unlike humans, a dog's digestive system cannot handle changes in food. It can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.   If your dog both likes the food that you find, buy a couple cases or in bulk to help bring the costs down.  There are numerous on-line sites that have great deals on different brands of dog food and even coupons.

Each dog is different in their taste and needs

While one dog may thrive eating all wet food, not gain weight and maintain good health, it doesn’t always equate cross the board.  Each dog is different in what works for him or her, so look for a high quality food, with a lot of protein, fewer carbohydrates and your dog should thrive.

Tips to transitioning your dog to a new food

When switching your dog to a new food, gradually transition him to the new food by mixing portions of both foods until you slowly phase out the old food. Your dog may experience diarrhea if his food is suddenly changed.  Once your dog is fully eating the new food, you can follow the guidelines on the dog food package for recommended feeding amounts.

Keep fresh drinking water available at all times. Change the water at least once a day, more for dogs who drool and as always, keep food and water bowls clean.

Make sure to monitor your dog's weight and activity level and make feeding adjustments as necessary.

Human food that is dangerous for your dogs

Keep your dogs, away from avocados, chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and raw bread dough made with yeast. Also avoid onions, garlic, and chives; milk and large amounts of dairy products such as cheese; alcohol; coffee and caffeine; salty food, such as potato chips; and food sweetened with xylitol, such as gum, baked goods, and candy. Xylitol, also used in products such as toothpaste, can cause liver failure in dogs.

Just as in humans, a dog’s diet can help maintain your dogs’ good health, longevity and help combat allergies or illness. That’s what the goal is, anyway, to have our dogs’ live long, happy and healthy lives.

 

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Finding and Pricing a Professional Pet Sitter - Why Not Use Family or Friends?

 Guest blog by:  Sloan McKinney

We all love our pets and the vast majority of us treat them just like family. For many of us, we may have a variety of pictures of them on social media sites, they’re seen on our desktop, smartphones and other handheld devices. While we love to spend time with them, sometimes we have to part ways with them for short periods of time, while taking business trips, away on vacations and other events when they must be left behind for days on end.

For more people nowadays, choosing a professional pet sitter is an affordable option to more traditional methods such as boarding them at a kennel. As the infographic below will show us, there are many benefits to keeping our critters in the comfort of their own home. For some pets with medical conditions, special dietary needs or separation anxiety, this is also a better solution.

While many of us depend on friends, family or neighbors to help with looking after our loved ones, sometimes this isn’t the best option. With all this in mind, here are some guidelines for pricing the protection of our pets while we’re away.

PRICE POINTS

The old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and pet sitters are no different. For many non-professionals that are charging low prices, this could be due to a variety of negative factors:

    • A lack of proper licensing, bonding and insurance
    • No training, policies or procedures in place for health, grooming and a variety of other necessities for proper pet care
    • Candidates aren’t given a thorough background check and could be without references

The national average for a pet sitting visit is around $16 for a half-hour visit, or a $32 hourly rate and approximately $50-65 for an overnight stay. So you should be looking for something in that neighborhood.

FAMILY & FRIENDS

Speaking of neighborhood, what about using your neighbors, family or friends as mentioned previously? This depends on a lot on circumstances unique to each situation, the individual pet and their owner. There are many questions to be asked here:

    • Are there health conditions or special dietary requirements that demand professional attention for your pet?
    • Do they really have the time to come over for all your pet’s feeding and exercise needs?
    • Can you honestly depend on a friend or relative to give your pet the complete care, love and affection they require?
    • Do they know how to respond to a medical emergency, illness or other unforeseen event?

 

Since they aren’t properly licensed, bonded and insured, if there was some kind of incident, you’re left completely unprotected from unpredictable expenses. Although in case of an injury to a caregiver occurring on your property, your homeowner’s insurance could take the hit, but would your rates raise as a result? These are all important questions to ponder that should lead you to considering the use of a professional caregiver for your critter.

Check out this infographic for more tips on finding the right professional pet sitter for your precious pooch, curious cat or pint-sized pet. A little homework and research can go a long way when it comes to protecting our four-legged friends during our absence.

PetSitter-infographic

 

 

Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.

 

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Why Does Your Dog Chase His Tail?

Puppies love to run around and explore everything in their new world around them.  Everything they encounter is new and exciting for them, even their own tails.  Puppies love to run around in circles after their own tails as it seems like a new toy to them and it is fun to spin around.  While puppies generally grow out of this behavior, some puppies continue to do this as they get older.

For the most part, a dog chasing his tail is a perfectly normal behavior for playful dogs.  They are simply trying to expend excess energy and express their desire for exercise and play.   Mot dogs love the sensation of free-wheeling, happy playfulness in a fun prey-like mode.  Some cats even like to chase their tail.    And, we dog owners, love to watch them and sometimes, for better and for worse, encourage them by laughing at them.

If your dog chases his or her tail excessively, than there could be a medical or behavioral issue at hand.

Medical causes

If you think the reason that your dog is chasing his tail could be a medical issue, make sure to go to your veterinarian for a physical.  Some of the medical issues that could cause your dog to chase his or her tail are dermatological, neurological, injury or something with his or her eyes.  Further, this behavior could also be caused by an anal gland infection, trauma to the tail or intestinal parasites.   High cholesterol may be another factor in behavioral problems.

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If your veterinarian has ruled out medical issues, there are some different behavioral issues and/or reasons could be causing your dog to chase his tail.

Your dog chases his tail to get attention

One simple reason which is pretty common in our dogs is that they get a lot of attention when they chase their tails.  A lot of dog owners give their pups attention or even clap or laugh when their dog is chasing its tail because we think it’s funny or cute.  Try not to give your dog any attention if they chase their tails often and simply ignore him or her and just walk away.

Your dog chases his tail because he is releasing pent up energy

Boredom is often expressed as a reason for tail chasing; however it’s usually not boredom but rather an inadequate level of physical activity that’s the cause. If your dog has a great need for aerobic exercise, he or she might engage in tail chasing to exert energy. If this is the case, the behavior should stop once the activity levels increases.

Your dog is chasing his tail because he is anxious

Tail chasing can also be the symptom of an underlying anxiety or psychological issue.  The behavior commonly begins with the dog chasing or scratching at the tail after an injury or irritation. As the behavior is comforting for the dog, it can quickly become a habitual response to all other threats, even after the tail has healed or the irritation has gone. In these instances, the dog is said to have become ‘conditioned’. While difficult to treat, this form of anxiety can be somewhat prevented if recognized and treated early in his life with a behaviorist.

Your dog might be suffering from a compulsive disorder and chasing his tail

As with most compulsive behaviors, it is really difficult to stop the behavior and can sometimes cause your dog to be aggressive to a dog owner. These types of dogs require a full behavioral treatment plan, and in some cases, medication.  Your veterinarian should be able to determine if the frequency in which your dog chases his or her tail is a compulsive disorder.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise to help with chasing his tail

As mentioned above, if you think your dog tail chasing is simply to keep himself occupied, make sure to take him for daily walks to expend his energy.  And when your dog does try to chase his tail, give your dog other things to expend his energy.  When he starts to chase his tail, bring him a toy to play with instead to divert his or her attention and hopefully forget about his tail.   Make sure to do this only if ignoring him and additional exercise does not work.  And, of course, praise your pup when he chooses the toy and not his tail.

 

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