Catnip: Why Cats Love It

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Is Catnip Right for Your Cat?

Catnip does not have the same effect on every feline. Some cats don't care about it at all.

The love of this plant is inherited, so only 50 to 70 percent of cats respond to catnip. Kittens typically ignore it until they are three to six months old.

Catnip is non-toxic but cat owners should use caution in giving it out too often. Some cats exhibit aggressive behavior when exposed to catnip and should not have it under any circumstances.

Consult your veterinarian if you notice problematic behavior when your feline uses catnip.

Few things stimulate a cat’s pleasure faster than catnip. Exposure to this simple herb can reveal a new side to their feline personality. Many cats will go crazy at the smell of this plant.

Catnip has a reputation of being a feline drug and many cat owners wonder if it is safe to give it to their pet. Giving catnip in small doses does no harm. Using it as a treat can be quite good for your cat’s emotional health. It relieves stress and can help them get rid of nervous energy.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip is a type of mint plant found  in many countries throughout the world. It can grow up to three feet high and has many branches filled with purple flowers and heart shaped leaves.

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Vomiting Versus Regurgitation

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What Is That?

It is important to differentiate between vomiting and regurgitation.

Vomiting is a dynamic process, with the dog actively using its stomach muscles.

The material produced by vomiting will look digested.
Regurgitation is a passive process, the dog appears to just burp up contents.
The material produced does not appear digested.

Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or notice continued vomiting or regurgitation from your dog.

When you come home to find a mess on the floor, it is easy to assume that the dog vomited. Vomiting is very common in dogs, as they often eat weird things! There are actually many other causes of vomiting, including parasites, kidney disease, liver problems, pancreatitis, and food allergies. Overall, there are probably at least 101 causes of vomiting.

When you take your dog to the veterinarian, the doctor will ask questions and determine if the dog is truly vomiting, or if the dog really has regurgitation, because they have different causes. You will be asked if you saw the process and what the mess looked like.

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Glaucoma in Pets: What You Need to Know

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What You Can Do for a Pet with Glaucoma

When your pet is three years old, particularly if you have a breed with a predisposition for glaucoma, make an appointment to have your veterinarian check for the disease. Although glaucoma can be difficult to treat, your veterinarian has several options.  A veterinarian may also recommend referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Glaucoma is typically a disease affecting middle- age to older pets. The symptoms can be very insidious in that they may not be noticeable at first, but eventually you may see a red eye or a  dilated pupil, and ultimately, as the disease progresses, you can see that the eyeball is larger than normal.

Glaucoma Is Serious

Glaucoma is increased pressure inside the eye resulting from fluid build-up within the eyeball from fluid not draining properly. If your pet doesn’t receive veterinary care, the condition damages the optic nerve, which can lead to blindness. When glaucoma occurs in one eye, it often  eventually occurs in the second eye. When glaucoma occurs in both eyes, blindness may seem to occur suddenly.

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Planning for Your Dog’s Health Care

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Your Dog's First Visit to the Veterinarian

During your pet's appointment, your veterinarian will likely ask you a few common questions. Consider these questions before you arrive to ensure an efficient check up.

1. How long have you had your pet?

2. Where did you adopt him or her?

3. What vaccinations has your pet had? When?

4. What do you feed your pet?

5. Is your pet drinking more or less water than usual?

6. Has your pet lost or gained weight?

7. Has your pet displayed any odd behavior or symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or vomiting?

8. Does your pet go outside?

9. Has your pet ever suffered any serious medical condition?

Contact your veterinarian to schedule a health screening for your pet. Be sure to ask your veterinarian when you should schedule your pet's next appointment.

Before adopting a dog, take a moment to consider the amount of care your pet will require and your ability to provide that care. Too often a cute face and wagging tail inspires individuals to bring home dogs without really considering the amount of time and financial resources required to raise healthy and happy dogs. As a result, animal shelters fill and pets do not receive the care they deserve.

Budget

Before adopting, look at your household budget. Dogs should have a yearly check-up at the veterinarian and get the required vaccines. Don’t forget the daily expense of pet food, medications, toys, and other supplies. Keep in mind, the bigger the animal, the higher the cost. Before you settle on adopting a St. Bernard or Great Dane, consider the quantity of food the animal will require and how much room your budget has to accommodate your new pet’s appetite. Remember to calculate your pet’s average expenses into your monthly budget as well as a reserve emergency savings for any accidents or unexpected trips to the veterinarian. If you don’t have emergency savings available, pet insurance might be a responsible option; the monthly cost will be consistent and most of your pet’s veterinary care will be covered. You can check on-line to compare the dozen pet health insurance companies. Be sure to ask about exclusions or what is not covered. You can always contact your veterinary office for information about the specific cost of care.

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Addison’s Disease in Dogs

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Maya's Story

Maya, a five-year-old Border Collie (pictured), presented symptoms of lethargy and occasional vomiting and diarrhea. She was a dog who loved doing agility trials, but who had become much slower in her performance. Her blood profile was normal, but a very astute doctor kept investigating, and when "Maya" flatlined her ACTH stim test, a diagnosis of Addison's was made.

Talk to your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet's behavior or see symptoms of lethargy or vomiting.

Addison’s disease is an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands, near the kidneys, fail to produce enough hormones.  This disease is relatively uncommon (approximately one case per 3000 dogs) but it is more common in dogs than humans. It is very rare in cats.

The common symptoms of Addison’s are lethargy, occasional vomiting or diarrhea, weakness, low body temperature, low heart rate, and shaking. The symptoms are often vague, may be intermittent, and can be attributed to many other causes. The problem is probably under-diagnosed; the doctor must have a high degree of clinical suspicion. The disease can be fatal if left untreated.

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What to Do When Your Pet Goes on the Carpet

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Incontinence in Pets

    Incontinence is also very common in dogs, especially middle -aged to older female dogs. This does not cause pain though, unless there is a secondary UTI.  Incontinence causes the dog to leak urine, usually while lying down or sleeping. A small to medium volume of urine will leak out; the dog may not be aware, or you may see her licking her genital area more than normal.  There are many cases where it is confusing whether the pet is suffering from incontinence or one of the bladder diseases. Your veterinarian can help you and your pet sort through this and decide the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Painful Urination

Straining to urinate, frequent urination, blood in the urine, and accidents in the house are common symptoms that pet owners report to their veterinarian. Many times the signs come on suddenly, as people find urine spots on the floor, often near the door where the dog goes outside. Cat owners may notice that the urine balls in the litter box are smaller than usual, or they may also see urine spots around the house, often in the corners of rooms.  Painful urination has three main causes in dogs and cats.

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New Uses for Animal DNA

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Using DNA to Fight Dog Fighting

Another goal of the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab is to help eliminate dog fighting. It has come together with the ASPCA, a Missouri humane society, and the Louisiana SPCA, to form the Canine CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).  This is the first ever database dedicated to collecting DNA profiles from dogs that are seized during dog fighting investigations, as well as blood samples from suspected venues. The DNA is used to identify relationships between dogs, and thereby allow officials to expand their investigations to those who breed and train dogs for fighting.

Advances in science have enabled the decoding of several animals’ DNA. Knowing the genome of a species has enabled medical professionals to detect some diseases that have a genetic basis. But it also has other uses, even in the criminal justice system.

The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory Forensic Unit at the University of California, Davis is the first accredited crime lab dedicated to animal DNA profiling. There are three main types of cases: where an animal is a victim, where the animal is the perpetrator, and where the animal is a witness.

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Grooming Is About Health Too

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How Do I Groom My Cat?

Effective at-home grooming starts with the right products. Talk to your veterinarian about what brush is best for your cat; long-haired cats will need a different brush than short-haired cats.

Once you have the right products, brush your cat on a daily basis. Cats prefer routine, which is why your veterinarian may recommend brushing your cat in conjunction with an evening feeding or right before bedtime. If you will also be bathing your cat, ask your veterinarian which shampoo would be best to use.

Medical Benefits of Regular Home Grooming for Cats

The condition of your cat’s coat and skin is an important feline health indicator. Healthy coats are shiny and smooth, and healthy skin will be supple and clear. While nutrition and health status will influence a cat’s appearance, regular grooming also has an impact. At-home grooming care, including daily brushing, is an important part of feline wellness care.

While most cats are fastidious groomers and rarely require a bath, regular at home grooming, including daily brushing, is still important. Brushing is especially important for long-haired cats, which are more susceptible to tangles and matted fur. Daily brushing is the best way to remove loose hairs. Daily brushing will also help owners who suffer from allergies as regular grooming reduces the amount of hair and pet dander in the home. For people with mild cat allergies, daily brushing may sufficiently reduce airborne feline allergens, making it possible for these individuals to comfortably share a home with cats.

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The Veterinary Approach

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Veterinarians employ state of the art technology that is very similiar to technology used in the treatment of humans.

Veterinarians in private clinical practice work to prevent disease and other health problems in their patients. They examine animal patients, vaccinate them against diseases, prevent the transmission of animal disease to people and advise owners on ways to keep pets and livestock well nourished and healthy.

When health problems develop, practitioners must diagnose the problem and treat the patients. Accurate diagnosis frequently requires the use of laboratory tests, radiography or x-rays, and specialized equipment. Treatments may involve a number of procedures including: emergency lifesaving measures, prescribing medication, setting a fracture, delivering a calf, performing surgery, or advising the owner on feeding and care of the patient.

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You & Your Vet

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Your veterinarian will rely on your awareness of small changes in your pet's behavior or habits.

As the pet owner you must communicate your pet’s health care needs to your veterinarian. Nobody knows your pet like you.  Many signs of illness are subtle. Your veterinarian will rely on your awareness of small changes in your pet’s behavior or habits.

Take the time to choose the right veterinarian for your special pet.  It is a good idea to start thinking about selecting a veterinarian before a new pet becomes a member of your family. In fact, a veterinarian can assist you in selecting a pet that complements your personality, work schedule and home life.

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