Taking Care of Your Pet
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Everyone has their own favorite dog breed. The various breeds were once intended for specific tasks. For instance, the American Pit Bull Terrier, Beagles, Spaniels, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Coonhounds and others were bred as hunting dogs while Rottweilers, Schnauzers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and German Shepherds were bred to protect their owners and their families and breeds like poodles and Pomeranians were bred as circus dogs. Today, many dogs such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Great Danes and Border Collies work as service dogs for people with disabilities.
When you’re looking for a dog, you should be sure to get a breed, or a mix of a breed, that fits the type of lifestyle that the dog will be living. If you live in a small house with little room, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t get a large dog. But beyond that, if you have children, stay away from small, anxious, high-strung breeds like Chihuahuas or Schnauzers that are prone to biting. If you are particular about fur on your furnishings, don’t get a furry breed like malamutes, huskys, shepherds, retrievers and chows.
Mutts are always great!
Many people are so worried that their pet isn’t eating enough that they overfeed or give too many snacks. Cats rarely get too fat – they generally eat enough to fill up and then walk away. Dogs, however, are known to keep eating. How do you know how much your dog should eat?
Overfeeding a dog may lead to intervertebral disk disease, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, inflammations, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, breathing and heart problems and a general inability to exercise and live the active life that an animal is meant to enjoy.
A general rule of thumb is to feed your dog according to his weight. A small dog who weighs two to three kilos (five pounds) should get approximately half a cup of food a day. Large dogs who weight up to 100 pounds (45 kilos) can be given 6-7 cups of food every day. Weights that fall in between those two extremes should be fed accordingly. Active dogs can be given more food.
Snacks should be specifically dog-friendly. If you feed your dog fatty people-food, don’t be surprised if she turns into a tubby.
If your pet is sick, it’s best to take him to a vet. It’s not always easy to know when to go to the vet because your pet can’t tell you just how bad he’s feeling. But if there’s any doubt, better safe than sorry.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to make a vet appointment every time something happens. There are quite a few natural cures and treatments that you can do on your own for a variety of conditions. Some include:
- Citrus for fleas. Rub some lemon or orange juice on your pet’s fur to repel fleas. You can use leftover citrus rinds. Give Fido or Fifi a good shower afterward and keep the animal as wet as possible – chances aren’t good that you can submerge a cat in water but you might be able to submerge a dog. Fleas drown in water. Cheap over-the-counter flea and tick treatments can be dangerous. If you want to try chemicals, try a flea/tick collar made by a reputable manufacturer.
- Geraniums for ticks on dogs. Rose geranium oil will repel ticks. Dab a few drops on the dog’s collar. Don’t use this on cats – their skin is sensitive to this type of oil.
- Chamomile tea for irritated skin. If your pet’s skin seems irritated, spray some chamomile tea to alleviate the irritated skin. Make sure that the tea isn’t hot! Vitamin E oil, either orally or through application, is also a healthy way to treat irritated skin. If the skin seems itchy, try applying fine oatmeal mixed with a little water to the affected area. The paste should be left on for 10 minutes and then rinsed away.
- Sports drinks for dehydrated dogs. If your dog seems to be dehydrated, you can often use sports drinks to help her rehydrate. Speak to your vet about which drinks are safe and the proper dosage.
- Butter for hairballs. Cats are prone to getting hairballs because they are always grooming themselves. Brush your cat regularly and then wipe him down with a wet cloth to keep him from ingesting fur that can form into hairballs in his digestive tract. It’s also a good idea to give him half a teaspoon of butter to lick (he’ll love it) to keep things moving through his system.
- Pill delivery system. If your pet needs a pill you can stick it in some yummy food for her to gulp down with the tuna or chicken dinner. If that doesn’t work (some animals are experts at eating the food and spitting out the pill), grasp the animal’s upper jaw to open its mouth and place the pill in as far as it will go into its throat. Then hold the animal’s muzzle closed for a few seconds until she swallows.
- Keep your pet far away from chocolate. Never give a dog or a cat chocolate. It’s toxic to them. If your dog or cat gets into the chocolate anyway, give them hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Dose is one teaspoon to five pounds of body weight. It’s a good idea to call your vet for instructions and guidance as well.
- Save on medications. You can save on medications by buying at an online pharmacy or even a retail pharmacy. You’ll find the same drugs that your vet sells at a 10% to 20% discount. Do NOT give human medications to an animal.