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My Favorite Pet Sitter


May 2008 Newsletter

Pet Health – Home Cat Exams and Spring Training for Dogs

Home Cat Exams

Observe your cat and do a perfunctory examination each month to recognize health problems early and add to your cat's longevity. The extra attention will benefit your cat and you!

The following is a very simple at-home assessment you can do yourself. Report any problems to your veterinarian.

General Appearance: Watch your cat walk around. Note any limping, check weight status. (Is she gaining or losing weight?) Is she alert? Is her disposition normal?

Eyes: Any discharge, redness or inflammation? Any cloudiness? Have you noticed any signs of sight impairment such as not seeing toys, bumping into things?

Ears: Discharge from the ears? Are the canals reddened or irritated? If so, she could have an infection or ear mites (generally black, crumbly discharge and severe itching). Smell the ears. Do they have a rank or yeasty odor? The ears should smell clean. Clean ears regularly with appropriate cleaning products, as recommended by your veterinarian.

Nose: Any nasal discharge? Is her breathing congested? If so, she may have an upper respiratory infection. See your veterinarian.

Mouth and Throat: Lift up the lips and look at the gums. Are they inflamed? Are any teeth broken or missing? Any tartar buildup on the teeth? Any facial swelling? Any swelling on the throat? A regular dental hygiene program can really make a difference.

Abdomen: Run your hands over your cat's abdomen. Is she in pain? Does the abdomen seem distended? Here's another opportunity to check weight status. Any unusual lumps or bumps? Is your cat using the litter box regularly and normally?

Neck and Spine: Run your hands down her back from the neck to the end of the tail. Any obvious pain? Any obvious limitations of movement? Does your cat have difficulty jumping to her favorite Perch? If you think your cat has neck and spinal problems, contact your veterinarian.

Skin and Coat: Is your cat grooming herself properly? If she has long hair, are you helping prevent mats or dander buildup by brushing her? Is there any hair loss? Is the skin dry or greasy? Does she have external parasites like fleas? Note any lumps and bumps on the skin. Dry skin and coat can be alleviated with an Omega-3 fatty acid enriched product.

Spring Training for Dogs

For the safety of your puppy... the 'come' command is the most important command to teach.

The goal in teaching the 'come' command is to have a well disciplined dog that can always be brought to your side regardless of the situation. This is as much for your dog's safety and protection as it is for your convenience.

This method of teaching 'come' to a puppy involves the use of a collar and a long leash or check cord. However, your puppy needs to become adjusted to the sensation of the collar and the effect of the leash. Do not start training until this is done. We prefer a leash or cord that is at least 15 ft. long. Also, choose a training time when there are no distractions.

Stand with the pup several feet from you and gently pull him toward you with the cord. As he reaches you, give praise by gently reaching down to pet him, rubbing him across the shoulders a few times. It may also help to kneel down in a crouched position to encourage the pup to come to you.

You don't need to say anything at all yet because saying 'come' will just be confusing to the pup at this point. In all training, we believe that a dog should know and understand the action demanded of a command before you ever add human language to it. Dogs don't understand our words. They can be taught to understand but it is not a natural or instinctive process for them. Repeat the pulling-in and praise a few more times. The first lesson should only be a few minutes long; a pup's attention span is short and we want the lessons to be a fun time between pup and owner.

After a few sessions, you will notice that the puppy comes easier and easier until the slightest tug on the cord starts the pup right toward you. This is exactly what we want. Giving treats is not necessary, but since this is such a difficult command for some dogs to learn, it may assist in training.

Once you are confident that the pup will start coming to you with the slightest pull on the cord, say 'come' at the same instant you start to pull on the cord. Just say it once and don't repeat yourself. Do not raise your voice. The pup will soon associate the action of 'come' with the verbal command. Repeat this process until the cord, although still attached to the collar, plays no part in bringing the puppy to you. Rather, the pup comes on his own as a response to the verbal command. At this point in the training, the cord can be removed. Working in a controlled area, the command can be given and the correct behavior rewarded with mild praise. There will be instances when the pup challenges your authority. Then it is time to go back to using the check cord for a period of time to refresh and remind your pup.

Be careful how you use spoken commands around your pup. For example, the pup probably won't even hear you as he runs across the neighbor's yard, playing with another dog. Screaming 'come-come-come' at a time like this only tells a pup that he can get away with disobeying your commands. Use common sense when using the command and make sure the puppy always obeys. Also be sure that all family members use the same word for the same command. One person can't be saying 'here,' another saying 'come here Ralph,' and yet another 'over here' and expect the puppy to understand and obey.

Pets of the Month

Sammy & Pepper

Congratulations to Pepper and Sammy, our May pets of the month! Pepper and Sammy are Shitzus (Pepper is black and gray and Sammy is gray and white). They were recently interviewed by their mom, Amy, and had this to say.

How we met our family:

Sammy:  I was adopted by my Mommy in 2002. 

Pepper:  Mommy and Daddy adopted me in 2003.

What we have to say about the companion human(s) we share our home with:

We love our parents!  We wish they would let us sleep on their bed, but other than that they are perfect.

Our favorite hobbies:

Pepper:  Lounging on the fluffiest pillow I can find in the living room, also eating cheese and microwave popcorn.  I love cheese; it is my reason for living.

Sammy:  I like to chase birds in my backyard.  I like to consider myself the family's security guard.  I'm always checking the perimeter of the house and making sure it is secure. 

Our favorite foods:

Cheese and microwave popcorn

Our favorite toys:

Sammy:  I love my squeakers. 

Pepper:  I'm not much of a toy fan, unless Sammy has something I want.

Our most exciting adventures:

We love the dog park!

Our idea of a perfect day:

A walk or trip to the dog park.  Followed by a bag of microwave popcorn. 

Pepper: I also love it when her Daddy brushes me.

Secret skills or abilities that few people know about us:

Pepper: I have a very large vocabulary.  I’ve also figured out that when the microwave popcorn starts to pop that 2 minutes later I'll have a snack (I’m quite motivated by my tummy).

Sammy: I have recently mastered the art of using the doggie door.

What I like most about my pet sitters:

Sue is very loving and cares about us very much.  She also gives us treats when Mommy and Daddy are gone.  We don't feel lonely when our parents have to go out of town!

Service Announcements

Memorial Day is just around the corner. If you are planning a vacation over the holiday, please let us know so we can get your visits scheduled.

Adoption Event

No More Homeless Pets in Sacramento County is holding a Super Adoption on May 17th and 18th inside Country Club Plaza Mall at 2310 Watt Ave. (at El Camino). Saturday hours are 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm. Homeless dogs, cats, and rabbits will be looking for a “forever home”. Please come and adopt!

Pet Humor

Two professional engineers illustrate the proper handling of cats. They cover topics like feline art and cats as a power source. You’ll see all the practical benefits of being “that guy with all the cats.” This is truly hilarious, especially for cat lovers and engineers.

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

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