When the weather gets cold and snowy, it is difficult to give our pets as much exercise and play as they need. Both dogs and cats that go outside may act up due to boredom. Feet freeze, making in painful to walk very far. It is harder to find the ball in the snow or chase mice and birds that are hunkering down in the shrubbery. Sometimes dogs may have accidents in the house because it is too hard on their feet to get in position to potty. Their toilet area may be covered with snow or just frozen, making it hard to smell the area. Accidents are forgivable; they are also very aggravating. Other ways that pets may act up in the winter is being more mischievous in the home. Cats may be knocking more items off the dresser or getting on the counters. Dogs may be pulling things off shelves to get your attention. You may hear more barking at squirrels out the window, or your cats may be swatting at each other more.
What to do? First of all, try to understand why pets are behaving badly. The house is no where nearly as fun as the great outdoors. So, to help cure cabin fever make the indoors more interesting. First be sure to keep the routines regular such as feeding and going outside. When you do feed, make feeding time more interesting by using food puzzles rather than just feeding out of a bowl. Both dogs and cats get a lot of mental stimulation figuring out how the heck to get the food out of the toy. Meals in the puzzle, not just treats. Food puzzles are available at the pets stores and you can make some of your own. You can see some videos starring Bella and Ranger using food puzzles on my YouTube channel.
To avoid accidents in the house, keep a feeding schedule. Twice daily feedings,using food puzzles or kibble to practice commands. Dogs will need to toilet about a half an hour after eating. Take your pet out for short but more frequent breaks and praise praise praise when they get it right. You may give them the first chance to eliminate, come in for 5 minutes (keeping them confined) then go on out again to finish up. Outside cats may still demand to toilet outside. If you let them out, give them some super yummy canned food right away when they come in to reward them for coming home.
Offering a potty pad in the home may be another way to help out the toy breeds. Reward the dog when they use the pad. Shoveling off some snow or making a path can also help the small dog go outside. For the housebound cat, reward them after using the box and keep the box absolutely clean. As soon as it is used, scoop it.
Increasing exercise cuts down on boredom and can help pets get along. Walking, even limited, is still good to do. Break it up into short 5 minute walks in different areas. Dogs really need to smell other smells to help reduce boredom. Head halters and front attaching harnesses can make walking easier than collars.
Lastly, find ways to play and get exercise in the house. Games of chase up and down the stairs, review obedience commands or teach them a new trick. Hide the food in small bowls for cats on shelves and perches. For dogs, hide kibble in different places and play hide and seek. This really uses their scenting skills and is fun.
Outdoor cats are tough to keep happy inside. Lots of play with the humans such as fetch, kill the toy, and feather toys can help. Cats really need to have their toys rotated every day to keep it interesting. You don't need many; just keep most up taking one or 2 down a day. Be sure you have enough places for the cats to lay and perch on. A step ladder set up with towels on the tread can increase the space to the cats. Placing this near a window can relieve much boredom.
Lastly pet proof the house. Keep the food off the counters, have snap shut garbage cans and keep the remotes, keys, cell phones and jewelry put away! Never underestimate the ability of a dog or cat to get up on a counter or table for chocolate brownies or a loaf of bread.
Need some suggestions for your cabin fever crazy patients? Go to my website and see articles on my blog - cabin fever - fun in the snow - frolic cat toy and videos on YouTube for suggestions. Let me know what works for you and your patients. I love to hear from you.
Beat Winter Boredom - Cat and Dog Food Puzzles
How do I keep my Pet's Teeth Clean?
Keeping your pet's mouth healthy is important. Your pet will be healthier and not have "doggy" or "kitty" breath.
Brushing your pet's teeth, giving your pet toys and rawhides and using rinses and water additives can help you keep your pet's mouth healthy at home. If your pet has lots of tartar on his or her teeth, call us to set up a dental cleaning appointment. We will need to clean your pet's teeth. Read more about that below.
Brush your pet's teeth daily. Use a pet tooth brush and tooth paste. We sell a tooth brush that has a three sided head so it brushes each side of the tooth in one swipe. Pet tooth pastes come in chicken, liver, beef and other flavors. Do NOT use people tooth paste. It is poisonous to your pet. Read the next topic below to learn how to teach your pet to accept their teeth being brushed.
You can teach your pet to accept having his or her teeth brushed. The best time to start brushing your pet's teeth is when they are a puppy or kitten. But you can teach your adult pet too. It just may take a little bit longer. Purchase a pet tooth brush and paste. Pet toothpastes come in various flavors. Try a flavor you think your pet will like.
When you start, don't just shove the tooth brush into your pet's mouth. They can get scared. You need to slowly work your way up to brushing your pet's teeth over several days. Start by putting some of the tooth paste on your finger and let your pet lick it off. When your pet looks forward to getting the tooth paste, start sticking your finger in your pet's mouth and move in like a tooth brush a few times. Do this until your pet is comfortable.Then start putting it on the brush and let him or her lick it off. When your pet is comfortable with this, move the brush in and out of the mouth one time. Do this until your pet is comfortable. Then slowly add more swipes until you can brush your pet's mouth.
This "how to" on brushing your pet's teeth is very informative. We found it in Veterinary Technician magazine. We have printed versions in our office. Stop in and pick one up if you like.
You can give your pet treats after you brush his or her teeth. This may seem strange. After all, you just cleaned their teeth. But giving your pet a treat lets them know, if they let you brush their teeth, then they get a treat.
Encourage your pet to chew on rawhides, nylabones and other toys to help clean your pet's teeth. The chewing motion helps to clean teeth. Some nylabones and toys are designed to help clean teeth.
Use a water additive to help keep your pet's teeth clean. We sell an additive called Clenz-a-dent. We also have a cleaning rinse that can be squirted into your pet's mouth. If your pet doesn't like the rinse squirted into his or her mouth, you can squirt it onto a toy or rawhide and let your pet chew on that.
If none of these are helping with your dog or cat's bad breath, call us to set up an appointment. We will look at your pet's teeth and mouth. We can also set up appointment to clean your pet's teeth. We place your pet under anesthesia while we perform the dental. Dr. Foote cleans the teeth while one of the veterinary technicians or assistants monitor your pet. We look at your pet's gums for any abnormalities. We remove plaque and tartar from your pet's teeth and look for loose teeth. We will remove loose teeth. We will also remove teeth if they are damaged. We then polish your pet's teeth and apply a sealant to help prevent tartar build up. Here are a before and after picture of a dog we performed a dental cleaning on.
Before - teeth are cover in plaque and tartar
After - teeth are clean
Most adult dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease. Tartar and plaque build up on your pet's teeth. Bacteria starts to live and reproduce around the plaque. Hair and pieces of food also can get stuck between your pet's teeth, allowing more bacteria to grow. The bacteria releases toxins that irritate the gum tissue. This causes inflammation, redness and pain. The toxins also attack the supporting structures, including the periodontal ligaments and bone, around the tooth. The loss of supporting structures makes the tooth loose. The bacteria can enter your pet's blood stream and travel to other organs, including the heart, kidney and liver. The bacteria can inflame these organs and cause health problems. The bacteria living in your pet's mouth also causes bad breath.
The progression of dental disease has four stages. During the first stage, the gums will be slightly red and swollen and teeth will have plaque on them. The first stage is reversible with a dental cleaning. During the second stage, the gums are red and swollen, the teeth have chunks of plaque on them and the breath will smell. This stage is also reversible with a dental cleaning.During the third stage, the gums will also bleed and some teeth may be completely covered by tartar. The mouth is also very sore during this stage. This stage may be reversible with a dental cleaning. During the fourth stage, the gums may contain pus pockets and tooth roots may be visible. This stage is not reversible. We perform a dental cleaning to remove the tartar, loose teeth and any infected tissues.
For more information about pet dental health visit the American Veterinary Dental College's website.
Okaw Veterinary Clinic 140 W. Sale Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-3221