There doesn’t have to be an unwanted struggle between you and your cat at medicine-giving time. Delivering the needed medication to a cat can be accomplished by performing the correct steps in the right sequence.
Whether the medicine is in pill or liquid form, always select a location that prevents feline escapes, such as a bathroom where you can close the door. Body positioning is also crucial. Position your cat so that her rear end is against a wall to prevent her from backing up and escaping.
Set yourself up for success by having the measured-out liquids or pills prepared in advance. Place a comfy, thick bath towel on the bathroom counter or floor for the cat.
Remind yourself that you are being a vital player in your cat’s recovery. So, before reaching for the medicine bottle, put yourself in a patient but purposeful frame of mind. This is important because cats read — and respond — to your emotional state.
Be calm and encouraging. Avoid rushing or saying phrases like, “I’m sorry” as cats are adept at reading your emotional state.
For easily frightened or feisty felines, consider wrapping them in a large bath towel first. The towel can also help protect you from being bitten or scratched.
How to Give a Cat a Pill
Why Comply: The cat needs the medicine to return to a healthy state. There is a reason a given medication is prescribed for a certain amount of time. Depending on the medication, it takes a certain amount of time for the drug to establish certain levels in the bloodstream to do its job and stay at that level long enough to make sure the problem doesn’t re-occur. If treatment is shortened because you think your cat is doing better, you may risk the problem not resolving or recurring.
Get Into the Right Mindset: Cats are masters at reading our moods and body postures. Be calm. Move slow. Never force or yell at the cat. Take a deep breath and inhale before giving medicine. Have all the right items needed before approaching the cat. Gently pet the cat before and after giving medicine.
Play It Safe: Subdue the cat using a thick towel that covers his eyes and tucks in his body to restrict movement. Do not scruff a cat as you will ignite his anger and fuel his determination to bite and claw you.
Safety Tip: Cats’ teeth are sharper than dogs’ teeth and their incisors can easily puncture your skin. It is better to be safe and use a towel. The purpose of towel wrapping is to make a cat feel secure and relaxed and prevent them from struggling
Step 1. Place your fourth and fifth fingers behind your cat’s skull to keep her from moving her head backward. Sit behind your cat or position her against a wall so that she cannot back up.
Step 2. In advance, prepare a syringe with water or tuna juice that will act as a chaser to ensure that the pill or capsule does not get stuck in your cat’s esophagus. Place the pill in the pill gun. Tilt your cat’s head back and open her mouth.
Step 3. Place a tiny amount of canned cat food, tuna or other food that your cat likes on the tip of the pill gun to hide the pill. Insert the pill gun into your cat’s mouth and deposit the pill at the back of the tongue.
Step 4. Remove the pill gun and quickly close your cat’s mouth while continuing to tilt her head up. Massage her throat gently to induce swallowing. Scratch behind her hears if she likes that to make it a positive experience.
Step 5. Follow up with a syringe filled with water or tuna juice to ensure the pill has been properly swallowed. Take care to leave your cat’s head level when giving this liquid.
How to Give a Cat Liquid Medicine
If a cat needs liquid medicine, make sure you know the right dosage to avoid an accidental overdose. Again, make this a relaxed, rewarding experience for the cat so she starts to associate getting medicine with getting tasty treats.
Step 1. Open your cat’s mouth, insert the syringe from the side and squirt in the liquid. Because liquids are more likely than pills to enter the trachea, keep the cat’s head level.
Step 2. You can also squirt the liquid medicine onto the roof of the mouth if the cat accepts having her mouth wide open. Remove the syringe and close her mouth so that she can’t spit out the medicine.
Step 3. If your cat is afraid of syringes, develop a positive association by placing the cat’s favorite treats, such as canned tuna, on the syringe tip for her to lick off.
Step 4. Try the yum-yuck-yum tactic. Line up three syringes. Put tuna water in the first syringe, the actual medicine in the second syringe and tuna water in the third syringe. The cat gets to taste something enjoyable – tuna juice at the start and finish of the medicine-giving time.
Step 5. End the session by giving a small treat as a reward, opening the bathroom door and allowing your cat to exit on her own.
By Sarah Zumhofe
It’s tough to find specific statistics on the percentage of dogs who develop arthritis, but arthritis is more apt to strike large breed dogs like German shepherds, golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers; dogs with long backs like Dachshunds and Corgis as well as any canine who is overweight or worse, obese.
So, what do you do to relieve pain and mobility limitations in your arthritic dog — and more importantly, what can you do to possibly even prevent this disease from showing up in your dog?
Two simple but powerful solutions: exercise and diet. By keeping your dog engaged in some form of daily exercise, you can prevent him from transforming into a canine couch potato. By not dishing up overflowing bowls of kibble and excessively heaping on treats, you can keep him from morphing into a hairy ottoman.
Research conducted in 2015 by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that more than one half of adult dogs in the United States are overweight. Sporting extra pounds can not only spur arthritis, diabetes and heart disease, but reduce the dog’s lifespan by two to five years compared to dogs kept at healthy weights and exercised regularly.
“Combining an exercise routine (like taking daily walks on level surfaces, rolling the ball during fetch sessions and swimming in safe bodies of water) with proper diet that keeps your dog at a healthy weight can positively affect the health of your dog,” declares Nancy Soares, DVM, president of the American Animal Hospital Association and owner of the Macungie Animal Hospital in Macungie, PA.
Adds Denis Marcellin-Little, DACVS, DECVS, a certified canine rehabilitation veterinarian and associate professor of orthopedics at North Carolina State in Raleigh, “Being overweight can certainly accelerate the progress of osteoarthritis and make mobility much more limited. Mobility is immensely important in dogs for their longevity, comfort and joy.”
And here’s a surprising fact: excessive fat tissue not only packs on the pounds and impairs mobility, but these tissues (known as adipose tissues) actually secrete hormones that promote pain.
“Adipose tissue is a major endocrine organ within the body that secretes hormones and other substances and these substances secreted trigger an inflammation cascade, which brings about pain,” explains Dr. Soares.
Even if your dog is diagnosed with arthritis — be it in the form of hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis of the knee or other joint, our experts assess some tactics to ease the aches and pains:
1. Nutraceuticals do best in supporting roles. Consult your veterinarian about the possible benefits of providing supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM to your adult dog before or at the early signs of arthritis. “While most products in this category are not studied and cannot make claims regarding their efficacy, anecdotally, anti-inflammatory benefits can be seen,” says Dr. Soares.
2. Think outside the (conventional) box. Acupuncture, acupressure, therapeutic massage, hydrotherapy and laser therapy may be beneficial, but make sure they are administered by professionals who are certified. “Hydrotherapy is a form of exercise, so it is effective, but realistically, it is easier to take your dog on a walk than finding a place that offers an underwater treadmill,” says Dr. Marcellin-Little.
3. Fight the pain safely. Pain management medications prescribed by a veterinarian, such as anti-inflammatories and analgesics can reduce swelling and pain in the joints, but steer clear of human medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) as they are both extremely toxic to dogs.
4. Weigh the benefits of surgery. Yes, some dogs do well with joint replacement surgeries, but make sure the operation is performed by a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. “Our pets deserve specialty treatment when advanced care is warranted,” says Dr. Soares.
5. The jury is still out on stem cell therapy to treat arthritis in dogs. “There is limited clinical evidence to support the expense and invasiveness of stem cell therapy,” says Dr. Soares. “Additional research is underway to determine the best treatment and efficacy for the best outcome.”
The parting message: “The big three weapons in combating osteoarthritis in dogs are managing pain with medications, losing excess weight and exercising regularly to help your dog stay strong and have good joint mobility,” says Dr. Marcellin-Little. “Your dog will feel better and move better and hopefully, enjoy a long, quality life.”
What Should You Feed an Arthritic Dog?
We can’t stop the aging body clocks inside our dogs, but by making smart nutritional decisions, we can possibly delay or stave off the impacts of arthritis. The signs are hard to miss: your dog’s gait slows. He starts to limp or favor one limb or hesitates before jumping on the bed or out of the car. Arthritic pain can make some dogs grumpy and a bit snappy. Or, you may also notice your dog is excessively licking a leg, a possible indication of his attempt to deal with joint pain.
Jean Hofve, DVM, holistic veterinarian, best-selling author and founder of the Little Big Cats website, identifies these five “arthritis-fighting” foods safe to give affected dogs:
1. Wild-caught salmon (not from fish farms), sardines or herring. All three are packed with omega-3 fatty acids touted for their anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Leafy green vegetables, such as kale or chard and spinach if your dog does not have digestive issues with oxalates. These greens contain antioxidants that also keep inflammation in check.
3. Blueberries, cranberries and apples. They contain less fructose (sugar) than most fruits and are loaded with anti-inflammatory agents and fiber.
4. Whole ground bone-in chicken, game birds or other poultry. “Oxtails for bigger dogs and turkey necks for medium-sized dogs,” adds Dr. Hofve. “The cartilage lining the joints contains all the cartilage building blocks your dog needs to repair joint damage to the extent that is possible.”
5. Green-lipped mussels. Dr. Hofve ranks them as arthritis-fighting super foods. “These mussels contain not only glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acids, but also the full spectrum of omega-3s.
To maximize your dog’s health, Dr. Hofve also recommends adding these key supplements touted to reduce inflammation and ease pain, such as:
• Chondroprotective agents (CPAs), such as glucosamine sulfate, MSM, eggshell membrane and adequan (intramuscular injection). These CPAs slow the rate of cartilage degeneration. Start your active dog on these now while his joints appear to be healthy and pain free.
• Turmeric root powder. New studies show that this spice has the ability to lessen arthritic inflammation, boost the immune system and act as an antioxidant. Also consider adding turmeric root to your dog’s diet as a preventive aid in the battle against arthritis. A little bit goes a long way. Consult your veterinarian for the right amount for your dog.
• Yucca, ginger, cinnamon and Boswellia in small amounts. “They are packed with antioxidants, but don’t give too much,” says Dr. Hofve. “With dogs’ ultra-sensitive noses standing guard, a little goes a long way.”
By Sarah Zumhofe
For lots of us, a family outing just wouldn’t be complete without our four-footed family members.
Unfortunately for many dogs, though, going anywhere that involves any kind of travel gets a little “ruff” because they suffer from motion sickness.
Motion Sickness in Dogs is Very Common
Canine motion sickness affects as many as 1 out of 5 dogs! It’s much more common than many of us realize. But the good news is that there is a solution!
Addressing Your Dog’s Motion Sickness
Unfortunately, very few pet parents are talking to their veterinarian about their dogs’ motion sickness. As a result, they aren’t getting the help they need. And, because there are so many other things that they need to address at a typical visit, our veterinarians don’t typically bring it up in an exam either.
So why wouldn’t the parents of a dog with motion sickness ask their vet about the issue? Often, it’s because they don’t recognize or understand the symptoms. They may think it’s a “mental thing” that their dog might just get over it. Or they don’t even realize that their veterinarian could help.
In many cases, pet parents just stop taking their dog places, either to avoid the potential situations that make their dog vomit, or just because they can tell how miserable they are, and they want to spare them the ordeal. This is not the only option. If you notice signs of motion sickness in your dog, talk to your vet and ask for help!
Signs of Motion Sickness in Dogs
Many dogs can get motion sick even on a short car ride. So, a simple trip to the vet or the groomer can result in a miserable pooch! Trips by plane or train can also trigger them. Some dogs even get sick from other activities like boating.
Vomiting is an obvious sign that your dog is suffering from motion sickness, but it’s not the only one. There are several other symptoms you should be aware of. Just because your dog doesn’t “Ralph” in the car doesn’t mean he’s not feeling sick. Some of the symptoms of motion sickness would be easy to dismiss if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so it’s important to understand all of the potential signs. Symptoms of motion sickness include:
• Dry heaving
• Excessive lip licking
• Excessive panting
If you notice your dog doing any of these things when you travel, you should talk to your veterinarian. You can also take this online quiz to help you decode some behavior and symptoms that might be caused by motion sickness.
Help for Dogs With Motion Sickness
The good news is that there is a great solution for canine motion sickness. Many years ago, vets would prescribe things like acepromazine, Benadryl®, or Dramamine® for motion sickness because there wasn’t anything else available. They’re human drugs, not made for dogs, and they are not ideal because they “work” by making your pet drowsy. We don’t want or need that!
Of course, you don’t want your pup getting sick or vomiting either. Besides the fact that it’s no fun to clean up a car full of your dog’s last meal, vomiting can be painful, exhausting, and anxiety-inducing for your dog.
Thankfully, there’s a treatment for the vomiting due to canine motion sickness that works without making your dog drowsy or loopy. CERENIA is the first and only veterinary FDA-approved anti-vomiting medication for dogs (and cats too). This video explains how Cerenia can help a dog with motion sickness.
CERENIA is an anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) medication and that addresses the cause of vomiting due to motion sickness. CERENIA works by blocking a neurotransmitter that’s involved in vomiting. For use at home, it comes in a once-a-day tablet form. To administer, you’d give your dog CERENIA with a small amount of food, two hours before traveling. It’s safe to give to your dog once a day, for up to two days in a row.
CERENIA is also available as an injection for dogs or cats undergoing surgery. Many animals don’t feel well after surgery due to the anesthesia. So, if your dog is getting ready for surgery, be sure to ask your vet if he or she plans to give your dog an “anti-emetic” (CERENIA) before surgery so the recovery process is smooth for your pet.
CERENIA is only available by prescription. So if your dog shows signs of vomiting because of motion sickness, make sure you talk to your veterinarian about whether CERENIA can help before your next ride!
By Sarah Zumhofe
Imagine an array of pet products that stretch the length of seven football fields. That was the case at the 15th annual Global Pet Expo held in Orlando. There was a football field-sized section dedicated to new pet products at this event billed at the world's largest pet trade show.
The buzz on this show centered on tinctures, capsules, powders, chews and pet treats containing CBD oil being touted to help manage pain from arthritis, reduce separation anxiety, improve mobility and even bolster cognitive function in senior pets.
Here are some other products that are rising in popularity:
At this year's Global Pet Expo, entrepreneurs vied for the Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize. Finalists included the creators of PlayDate, an in-home monitoring system inside a ball you can remotely control to get live video and audio feeds of what your pet is doing while you are away from home. Also in contention was Cat DNA, an easy way to genetically test your feline's health and genetic markers. And the winner? The innovation prize went to Guardian Vets, a business-to-business platform that acts as an after-hours triage service for veterinary clinics so clients (free of charge) can have access to their veterinary clinic even when it's closed.
By Sarah Zumhofe
One of the most popular options to occupy a dog’s time (and mind) while home alone is to offer him a Kong or other dog chew toy slathered with peanut butter.
However, in this age of Keto diets — and with the rise of people diagnosed with diabetes, more and more popular foods and products are being offered in sugar-free forms. Specifically, these foods often contain xylitol. This safe sweetener for people can be found in sugar-free yogurts, chewing gum, mints and toothpaste.
However, xylitol is toxic to dogs. When a dog eats peanut butter containing xylitol, his blood sugar levels plummet and damage to the liver begins immediately. The xylitol causes a dog to vomit, have trouble walking, lose muscle control and worse. Some dogs can experience seizures, liver failure and even death.
By Sarah Zumhofe
Smart marketing is one of the basic tenets of any industry. In the case of the dog food industry, it’s all about caveat paw emptor: pet parent buyer beware.
Ignore that enticing photo of a dog running through a field on the front and turn that bag, can or container around. Reading a label isn’t easy, but do pay close attention to this.
Keep in mind: Pet food labeling is one thing; pet food ingredients and facts are another. Labels are deceiving, and sadly there’s no one stopping dog food makers from continuing to fool us into our dogs must consume their product. Dog food labels are confusing. That’s why the emphasis seems to be on what is on the front of the bag. Ignore that.
In fact, read a dog food label with a discriminating eye. You may need to supplement. Here are 10 secrets pet food manufacturers try to squeeze past you and hope you won’t notice.
#1. Made with Human Grade Ingredients
There are some very interesting and startling facts about dog food labels. “Made with human grade ingredients” is a bunch of malarkey. Made with human-grade ingredients does NOT mean a finished product is actually legally, human grade. An ingredient might start off being fit for people to eat it, but once it is shipped to a pet food plant and processed according to regulations for feed grade products, the term “human grade” can no longer apply. By true definition, that ingredient is not human grade.
#2. Feed Grade
Feed grade refers to the quality of a finished product which is not suitable for consumption by humans according to FDA standards. It is only legally allowed to be served to animals because of the ingredients it contains or how it has been processed. Further, it may include by-products, chemicals, fillers, and parts from “4D” meats: animals which are dying, diseased, disabled, or deceased.
This means dead pets from shelters can end up in dog food. ID tags from euthanized dogs may end up in dog food. Does it happen? There is no mandate that dead pets must not be in pet food. The folks at DogFoodAdvisor.com are unable to locate any current regulation forbidding the use of euthanized pets in commercial dog food.
There are no formal definitions for organic pet food. Organic, according to the USDA, is food raised without chemical fertilizers and meet very stringent guidelines. The definition of organic in pet food is based on human standards. Those human standards may not apply to animals. The FDA’s website has this to say about organic labeling: “There are no official rules governing the labeling of organic foods for pets at this time.”
#4. Made With
If you see “made with” on a dog food label, it means that only three percent of something is included for the “made with” label to be applied. It could be real meat, organic meat, or some combination of who know what. Three percent.
#5. Holistic Dog Food Labeling
There is zero legal requirement in order for something to be called ‘holistic’ on a dog food product. Holistic is slapped on dog food labels in an attempt to get dog parents to purchase — and it works.
#6. First Ingredient Fooled Ya’
The first ingredient in a bag or can of dog food does not mean that is the primary ingredient. The moisture content of meat in a dog food is about 75 percent. That sounds fantastic, right? It would be if 75 percent of real safe meat went into your dog’s food. Food gets processed, dried, and the meat ends up being under 10 percent. Beef that starts out as 75 percent of the content in a dog food ends up at less than 10 percent when it goes into dry dog food. Sad!
#7. Glucosamine for Strong Joints
Glucosamine is anti-inflammatory in its properties and can help dogs with stiffness and arthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin have taken a stronghold in the pet food additive arena. Buyer beware because glucosamine and chondroitin are considered nutraceuticals (not pharmaceuticals) and are not strictly controlled by the FDA. Even if a can or bag of dog food claims to be a ‘rich source of glucosamine,’ don’t be fooled. How much of the dog food would the dog need to eat to get benefit of the glucosamine? According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, a 50-pound dog would need to consume about 1,000 mg of glucosamine supplementation per day to reap the benefits. Your dog would have to eat over 20 cups of kibble in some cases to get this amount.
#8. Carbs Are Not Required on Dog Food Labels
It’s not easy to find the carbohydrate content in dog food because it isn’t required on the label. To roughly calculate the percentage of carbohydrate in a dog food, look at the guaranteed analysis on the label, and subtract the amount of protein, fat, moisture, and ash from 100 percent. The carb content is what’s left over. (You may have to contact the company to get the food’s ash content; it’s not required on the label, either.)
What we do know is this: Fresh, whole food is good for dogs. Kibble loaded with corn and other fillers/sugars can lead to problems in a dog.
#9. Chubby Dog Syndrome
Veterinary nutritionists say that dogs eating fresh food diets as opposed to kibble are usually not chubby, as their carbohydrate intake is lower. They also tend to have better muscle tone, less dental tartar, and better skin and coat quality with no “doggy odor.”
#10. Does AAFCO Matter?
AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, a non-government body comprised of federal and state employees. Note the key word ‘feed’ and not ‘food’ in their name. AAFCO does not approve pet foods to market and they do not regulate pet food. So, animals eat feed; people eat food. Feed can contain dying and diseased animals and all sorts of contaminants and pesticides on animals. Food cannot. Ack!
A dog’s food should meet AAFCO nutrient profile requirements for sure. That said, Whole Dog Journal points out, “The organization is painfully slow to adopt changes that reflect newer research; the current guidelines date back to 1995! They have been arguing over and delaying implementation of changes based on the 2006 NRC updates for more than eight years now.”
If you want to really go down a rabbit hole, try searching for “lies about pet food” in your favorite web browser. Check out the credible sources and reports there.
Dogs do have special nutritional needs. Their bodies do react to the food and supplements, vaccines and topicals we put on them and in them. Is it any wonder that cancer and other diseases are on the rise in the canine world?
What you can do is understand your dog’s nutritional requirements. What you feed a 10-pound Yorkie will vary from what you feed an 80-pound Rottweiler. No two people are alike in their dietary requirements and the same goes for dogs.
Bonus Tip: How to Read a Dog Food Label
If you use your favorite search engine and type in, ‘how to read a dog food label,’ you’ll see results on pages one and two that are written by big brand pet food companies. It’s not that the information is amazing; it’s that they know how to properly SEO optimize a post. Meaning, the right words in the right place targeting the right people at the right time. SEO is search engine optimized. Those results get there because they are big companies, they know what they are doing, but you want your information from an objective source that isn’t associated with the pet food brands.
By Sarah Zumhofe
More and more pet parents are looking into options to pair with traditional medicine to address a host of issues in their pets. And, fast growing in popularity is the use of CBD oil. That stands for cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis and hemp.
Not all CBD oils are the same. "The CBD oil should not contain THC- tetrahydrocannabinol," says Elisa Katz, DVM, veterinarian and owner of the Holistic Veterinary Center in Bourbonnais, IL. "THC is the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. So, CBD oils made from hemp and not THC will not cause your dog or cat to get high. The CBD oil can help the pet relax."
In looking for top-quality CBD oil products, seek products that are:
CBD oils can be safe for use on dogs or cats when given the proper dosage. Here is a rundown of some situations in which CBD oil can be given to a pet:
Bottom line: CBD oil not containing THC is legal and safe to give to dogs and cats.
By Sarah Zumhofe
In a recent blog post on his website, dog trainer David Shade shares his expertise on the use of food in training dogs. He says it is critical to identify what motivates each dog. Yes, treats can be highly repeatable and inexpensive, but he identifies five food myths:
Myth #1: Food is a bribe. This could not be further from the truth. This would be the equivalent of saying your biweekly paycheck is a bribe. Forms of payment are reinforcement. Dogs need a paycheck and in some cases, that comes in the form of a yummy treat.
Myth #2: Using food causes dogs to overeat and become fat. The reality is when training animals you should keep sessions short. They should be no more than 30 minutes. I am a big fan of multiple short 5-to-10 minute sessions per day. Not only will the dog perform better in short sessions, but it will be nearly impossible to overfeed him.
Myth #3. My dog isn’t motivated by food. Nonsense! Dogs are biological creatures who are omnivores. This means that the dog needs food to survive just like they need oxygen and water. Saying a dog isn’t motivated by food to me is like saying, “My dog isn’t motivated to breathe air.” It makes no sense! Most likely, you are probably doing something wrong in your training if your dog isn’t motivated by food. Consider if your dog has just eaten his meal, is too stressed to eat, is sick or does not like bargain-priced treats.
Myth #4: My dog should listen because I am the boss! We already know that there is no dominance hierarchy between dogs and humans. If we are asking our dog to do work for us, we need to reward them for it—just like you get rewarded for your work.
Myth #5: My dog will only work for me with food present. It is a myth because it is not inherent. It is a learned behavior. When training properly, it is important to use a method known as fading in which you essentially try to take the food out of the equation for dogs. You may still reward them with food, but they don’t know when it is coming. When you pair this with secondary motivators, such as praise, affection and markers, then you can easily get them off a requirement of food to learn.
By Sarah Zumhofe
Sarah Zum Hofe was born in 1987 in St. Louis, MO- and has since then had a love affair with animals!