Feline Friday: National Hairball Awareness Day

Do you know what today is?  It’s National Hairball Awareness Day! RomeoTheCat and FURminator are once again co-sponsoring an event to bring attention to this big-hairy-deal.

Have you ever discovered the latest squishy “kitty creation” by stepping on it, barefoot, at 3 a.m.? Ewww!

Cats, and some dogs (Pomeranian owners, am I right?!) swallow fur during self-grooming. Hopefully it ends up in the litter box or yard. But when it comes out the other end, the cat vomits hotdog or cigar-shaped hairballs.

[caption id=”attachment_1011″ align=”aligncenter” width=”339″ caption=”Cats spend 30% of their lives grooming.”

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 Shedding season increases the odds kitty will “urk” more often, especially in longhair cats. The techie term for hairball is a “bezoar.”   I warn you, don’t click that link until after breakfast. I’m not posting a picture cuz I don’t want readers to “urk.” (Turns out, humans get bezoars, too, Ewww!)

I’m fortunate that Seren has short fur, but even that can accumulate and be swallowed. We kid that fur in a pet home should be considered a condiment, but if kitty swallows too much, it stops up the system. Baseball-size hairballs have been removed from cats. Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated.

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The no-brainer solution is to groom kitty and pull off the fuzz before it gets swallowed. I have grooming tools–the dog Furminator (above) is awesome and works especially well on the Magical-Dawg. (I don’t even wanna think what size bezoars he’d produce!)

I received a kitty-size Furminator to test on Seren-kitty for this month. She is IN LOVE…I have the handy grooming tool next to my chair. Each evening Seren arrives for a session of lap-snuggling and purr-icity while the kitty Furminator massages her whiskers to tail. She has not “urked” up a hairball this whole month, ever since we began getting rid of the extra fuzzies.

Here are more ways to manage hairballs. Do your cats get hairballs? What do you do to prevent ’em? What about your DOGS and hairballs? Cats that groom dog friends increase their hairball risk, too. Do your fur-kids like or loathe grooming. What are some tricks you use to keep a handle on fuzzy-icity? Please share!

Groom the cat. The cheapest, easiest hairball cure is to regularly comb and brush your cat. Any hair you remove won’t be swallowed to end up staining your upholstery. The Furminator eliminates up to 90 percent of shed fur.

Feed a hairball diet. A variety of commercial products are designed to prevent hairballs. They include extra nondigestible fiber. That helps push swallowed hair through the digestive tract, so it is eliminated naturally with each bowel movement.

Add some fiber. If you’d rather not switch foods, just add fiber to kitty’s regular diet. Mix in a teaspoon of plain bran or Metamucil to canned meals. Flaxseeds or psyllium husks, available in health food stores, also act as natural laxatives and work well. Add ¼ teaspoon of flaxseeds or psyllium for every meal.

Offer pumpkin. Canned pumpkin—the plain type, not for pies—is very rich in fiber and cats often love the taste. Get a jumbo-size can, and divide into teaspoon-size servings and freeze in an ice cube tray. Thaw one serving at a time, mixing into the regular food or offer as a treat once or twice a week.

Give a bit of honey. If your cat doesn’t appreciate canned pumpkin, you can offer a natural laxative, two or three times a week. Combine raw oatmeal, honey, and olive oil into a paste. Offer one to two tablespoons as a treat when hairballs are a problem.

Lubricate the gut. Butter will make your cat purr, but it won’t help hairballs. Digestible fats like butter can cause diarrhea and usually get absorbed before they can move the problem out. Instead, offer non-medicated petroleum jelly. It looks nasty but many pets like the taste. It will coat the hairball to make it slide more easily out of the system. If kitty refuses to accept a finger-full scraped into his mouth, just spread the jelly on his paw so he has to lick it off as he grooms. Commercial hairball remedies often add salmon or malt flavoring to similar petrolatum products. Take care to follow label instructions or your veterinarian’s advice, though. Overuse of these products can interfere with the pet’s use of fat-soluble vitamins.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Howl-oween Spook-tacular

Early people honored animals with cave paintings, worshipped them as gods, and felt awed by their mysterious ways. Even though dogs have become our partners and beloved companions, a mournful howl or puzzling behavior still can shiver your spine, especially around Halloween.

These 10 blood-chilling legends of demon dogs and ghostly saviors, creation fables and ancient gods have both reviled and celebrated man’s best friend. But is there any truth to these tales? Don’t ask the dog, he’s keeping his secrets safe!

Speaking of trick or treats, PLEASE be aware that chocolate can POISON your pet! It’s scary how something that tastes so good can be so dangerous, but puppies and chocolate are a deadly combination. With Halloween just two weeks away, many families will have lots of trick-or-treat candy in the house. Be sure to keep all of it out of reach, and refer to this article on warning signs and first aid tips for chocolate poisoning.

On the fun side of Halloween, maybe your dog wants to play dress up for the howl-iday? Does he want to channel his inner were-wolf? Does she enjoy “glamming” up for Halloween? Teach him to accept wearing that wild-and-crazy outfit (and overcome the embarrassment!) with these 7 pet costume training tips. But if he’s reluctant and you still want the dog to be festive, check out these 7 easy Halloween costumes for pups.

Does your dog howwwwwwllllll like the Hound of the Baskervilles? Magical-Dawg howls…when I sing. Check out the Ask Amy on the prowl about howls.

Have you ever seen a ghost dog? I have! My first dog–the reason I became a pet writer–died on Halloween night and a strange black cat came and stood over his body and yowled–and over that weekend I saw him and felt him jump on the bed. And no, it didn’t shiver my soul, it gave me a strange comfort he’d said goodbye. My colleague Dusty Rainbolt interviewed me about this on her very first Paranormal Pets radio podcast.  Since that time Dusty has posted 50 ghostly, ghoulish, uplifting, awesome shows about paranormal pets–be sure to check them out!

What are your Halloween favorites? How do your pets react? Will they be involved in the festivities this year? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Canine Senility Cure?

Dogs aged 11 to 16 are most likely to develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), sort of the doggy version of Alzheimer’s Disease. CCD is a medical condition in which a starch-like waxy protein called beta amyloid collects in the brain and causes behavior changes.

There actually are some ways to treat CCD in dogs–and reverse the signs, at least temporarily. Special dog foods such as Hill’s Prescription Diet bd and Purina ProlPlan Senior 7+ Original include a mix of antioxidants that help “feed” the brain. There’s also a natural supplement called Cholodin, and a drug called Anipryl that work well for some dogs. I discuss many of these options in my Pet Care-Cutting Edge Medicine book as well as Complete Care for Your Aging Dog.

But the biggie–the easiest thing you can do for your dog–is to make them think! That old adage “use it or lose it” works for pets, too. Here’s my latest Paw Nation article with 7 tips to keep doggy brains youthful.

How do you keep your “old dog” connected to life? Do you take him with you to the park or to visit Grandma? How about practicing obedience commands or tricks and games? What if you’ve adopted a shy pooch who hates the leash–like the folks in this Ask Amy video–what other suggestions would you have for Bob?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Storks, Babies & Separation Anxiety

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Whether you’re an expectant parent or grandparent, a new baby can bring joy into your life. But what does a newborn mean for the animals you’ve lived with for years?

Dogs used to adults may not recognize babies as the same species. Newborns and toddlers sound scary, smell funny, and seem to evict pets from your lap because they divert a favorite human’s attention. Here are tips to help you persuade your dogs to welcome babies as part of their family. The latest Paw Nation article offers tips on how to encourage your dog to welcome Baby into the home.

How have you managed the fur-kids when you became pregnant? Did the dog act differently? What was his or her reaction when the baby came home? Was it love at first sight or did the dog drag his furry heels accepting the “interloper?”

I’m always amazed at the folks who share their lives with a wonderful canine companion for years and years–and then decide to “get rid of him” because of the baby! Did you know that infants and kids brought up with pets are LESS LIKELY to develop allergies to them? There are wonderful programs available to help like my colleague Jennifer Shryock’s Dogs & Storks (awesome I love it!) and the free pamphlet from American Humane called Pets Meet Baby.

Safety is always an issue, of course. Teaching children how to interact properly with dogs is as important as the fur-kid learning good kid-manners. You should teach puppy bite inhibition whether you have kids or not. These additional dog bite prevention tips can help you and your kids learn how to be safe around your own dogs and strange dogs.

Adopting a new friend?

Once your dog accepts the infant as a member of the family, a wonderful relationship can blossom. When its a young dog, the kids and pup can grow up together. But that means dogs that become very attached also can suffer when the child loses interest in the pet–or goes away to school. Yep, it’s back-to-school time and especially for puppies acquired over the summer, you may notice some separation behaviors from the little guy. After all, if for the first months of his life he had constant company and attention from the kids and they leave all day for school or–HORRORS!–move away to college, what’s a lonely dog to do? Here are some tips for dealing with separation anxiety and behaviors.

Are your dogs upset that school started? How does their behavior change? Do you have tips to share to help them feel better until the kids come home? Please share!

A great relationship with dogs can result in something like the trust and joy exhibited in this video. Enjoy!

 

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: When Pets Hate Your Soulmate

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When love is in the air, everyone’s happy, right? So why did the cat hiss and baptize his shoes? What’s up when your dog growls at his voice? Why can’t your pet love your soul-mate as much as you?

And if your new soul-mate says, “CHOOSE, it’s ME or the PET…” what’s your answer?

Any change of routine can threaten your pet’s sense of security. When you spend time with your new love, the dog or cat misses you and feels lonely–and you smell weird, like that stranger! Dogs and cats often feel proprietary toward their owners and take offense at new people invading their territory.

After all, our dogs and cats love us unconditionally. They don’t care if we have bad breath, or had a bad day at work, or we change our socks. Actually the Magical-Dawg is a sock fanatic and the more aromatic the better! Puppies show their love in any number of ways. And adult cats and dogs show love in surprising and sometimes annoying ways–like chewing up your favorite shoes or peeing on the pillow.

Angry Blue Eyed Grey Cat

I’ve heard from readers with some amazing stories about pets ‘dissing’ their owner’s significant others. Even a couple stories about a pet telling on an unfaithful relationship. On the other paw, I also know pets can bring people together and become furry matchmakers. Heck, our dogs and cats want us to be happy and it’s not surprising pets think THEY are the key to that happiness. Hey, we include them in our birthdays and holidays, right?

In fact, my colleague, best-selling author Eve Adamson understands this about pets and is writing an article about including your dog in your winter holiday festivities in creative ways. She’s looking for dog owners to interview but wants to talk to non-writers.  She says, “Could be anything from making up a dog stocking to marching in a holiday parade or caroling with dog or whatever.” You can contact her about your doggy festivities at eadamson@mchsi.com.

Back in April I posted an Ask Amy video on the topic of pets and date hate that drew so much attention, I had to write an article about it. The key to getting pets to switch on the fuzzy love is to turn that STRANGER DANGER moment into adoration by romancing the pets, too.

How would you do that? Bribes? What floats your pet’s boat? Have you had successes (or failures) with pets in your romantical experiences?

Check out my latest Paw Nation article, where you’ll find tips to convince the cat and dog to welcome him–or her–into the family. And here’s a re-run of that Ask Amy video that got all the attention, enjoy!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!