Common Mistakes to Avoid Making as a Cat Parent

On our recent summer vacation, my wife and I met a lot of animal lovers, strangers, and relatives included. It was mostly a discussion on the happiness pets brings to our lives, how each is different, and an odd medical opinion on their pet. We were fairly taken aback when one of our relatives mentioned to my wife (also a veterinarian) that she had given her injured kitten Rosie, a dose Diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to help with pain management. We both got progressively more concerned as she went on to tell us that the kitten has been very tired and had inappetance (she wasn’t eating) since.

Very quickly, our primary concern had become the dose of diclofenac, and what potential damage it may have caused to her kidneys. Was Rosie not acting lively due to discomfort from pain or was it due to adverse effects of human painkillers given to cats? Did you know that indiscriminate use of pain medications have huge potential to cause GI ulcers, kidney damage and blood abnormalities in cats?

This episode helped reiterate the fact that there are so many things we may do (or not do!) for our pets that are actually harmful to them, without realizing the true potential of it. Thankfully, Rosie did very well within a few days of rehydrating her body and a lot of loving care from her family.

Following is a list of some other common mistakes to avoid as a cat parent:

  1. Leaving stringy toys and hairbands unmonitored in the house – can cause cats to accidentally swallow them and lead to serious intestinal obstructions.
  2. Using leftover antibiotics from before – is never ok, as you may not know the adequate dose or length of course needed. Also, as different antibiotics target different bugs it may not be a good antibiotic choice. Such indiscriminate use can lead to resistant infections and nasty superbugs.
  3. Allowing an outdoor lifestyle, without taking precautions for outdoor hazards such as fleas, worms, and viral infections (feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus) – be sure to keep your outdoor cat up to date on outdoor cat vaccines, deworming, and monthly flea prevention year-round.
  4. Feeding dry food (kibble) exclusively – this was considered ideal for cats till a few years back, but it is now recognized that a large portion of a cats’ diet should be canned or soft moist food.
  5. Believing that cats are not perturbed by environmental changes – on the contrary, cats are very sensitive to changes in their routine or environment. We should always consider and pursue environmental enrichment for these sensitive critters when it is time for a move, introduction of a new pet, upcoming childbirth, etc.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Clinic, Burnaby.

10 Beach Day Tips for You and Your Pup

You and your pup will love having fun together at the beach this summer! To make your beach day even better, we have ten tips to share with you! These will help make sure the experience is always a great one for you and your four-legged best friend.

Before You Hit the Beach…

Make sure you don’t arrive at your beach destination only to discover that you have overlooked some key item or haven’t prepared well enough for a day of fun. While at the beach, stay alert to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort.

1. Dogs Welcome

Not all beaches near Vancouver or in the Lower Mainland allow dogs. Check online or on the phone, but make sure the beach on which you have set your heart on is a dog-friendly beach. Also, you may be able to find out ahead of time if your dog will be allowed to run off-leash. If that information isn’t available to you, be sure and check the beach rules for dogs as soon as you arrive. Bring along an extra-long leash just in case he or she can’t run free.

2. Tide Information

If you are taking your pup to the ocean, make sure you know when to expect high and low tides. These times will determine whether or not you can walk along the beach, how far you can go, and how far you have to walk to reach the water when the tide is out. 

3. Health Protection

Make sure vaccinations for your pooch are up to date so that he or she will be protected from any diseases it’s exposed to in the new beach surroundings and from potential new friends. Check with your veterinarian before departing to see if booster shots are needed or to get your dog’s shots up to date. 

4. ID Protection

Some beaches are so huge your dog may get lost by accident when he or she runs off! Don’t forget to attach an ID collar to them and have the contact numbers for your veterinarian on your phone—just in case. An ID microchip inserted in their shoulder area can also help find a dog if they get really lost.

5. Pack Carefully

These are the important items you’ll need for beach day: 

  • Water – Puppy needs water to drink and you also need it to wash the sand off if it is bothering him or her or when it’s time to go home. You may not be able to stop him or her from drinking water that is sitting around in puddles or ocean salt water, but you can reduce the amount by offering fresh water to drink. Bringing a water bottle or a collapsible or regular water bowl can help. Some dog-friendly beaches even offer fountains specifically for dogs so they can stay cool! Check online first to make sure they’re available.
  • Beach towels – Puppy needs beach towels just as you do, so don’t forget to bring along one or two.
  • Leashes – Bring the usual leash as well as an extra-long one because your pup will want to run! Even if he or she is allowed to run free, you may prefer to keep him or her on a leash now and then—especially if you get tired of trying to keep up!
  • Beach Umbrella – Shade will be welcomed by both of you from time to time, so you should bring along a beach umbrella in case there is no natural shade available.
  • Sunscreen – You need sunscreen for yourself and, yes, puppy may need it too. Choose a sunscreen that is appropriate for babies or people with sensitive skin because these don’t usually include zinc oxide, and that is the ingredient you must avoid. Your veterinarian can advise you if you have any concerns about what to buy. Sunscreen is especially necessary for dogs with light-coloured coats or who have been shaved.
  • Paw Protection – The rule of thumb is if the sand is too hot for you to walk barefoot on, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. Be sure and check by slipping off your sandals or flip-flops and taking a few test steps.
  • Poo Bags – There will probably be poo bags available on the beach for your convenience, but don’t count on it. As you might need several and won’t want to make repeated trips to a garbage can, bring along a big bag to hold all the poo bags you accumulate. There is no excuse for not picking up after your dog on a beach. Children play in the sand and so do adults.
  • Toys! – Yes, toys deserve an exclamation mark! The beach is a great place for you and puppy to play. You should bring along toys for the water that float and toys for the beach like a Frisbee or a ball for playing catch. 

6. Read the Rules

Most beaches post a sign with rules for enjoying the beach. If you have taken your pet to a public beach, look for the sign and make sure you know the restrictions. 

7. Don’t Force Puppy to Swim

Most dogs love the water, but some are frightened by the sound of the ocean or they’ll panic when they get out of their depth. Make sure your pup enjoys the water and don’t force him or her into the ocean if he or she seems reluctant.

8. Life Vests are an Option

If your dog is really small, or if it gives you peace of mind, you can buy a life vest for your pooch so you don’t have to worry about him or her being in the water.

9. Check for Hazards

There can be danger in the ocean from sharp shells, jelly fish, sting rays, and crabs, and some dangers are hidden under a thin layer of sand on any beach, like broken glass. Don’t ever take your eyes off your dog or let him or her run out of your sight. If you become tired of non-stop supervision, put him or her on the leash. 

10. Post Beach Care

When you leave the beach, give your pup a good rubdown with a towel so he or she doesn’t get cold or drag sand home! Make sure to dry his or her ears well, especially to prevent ear infections. To deal with the sand and salt water, bath him or her when you get home or, at least, brush his or her coat well until you have time to bathe him or her. An old quilt spread over the back of the car for the trip home can reduce the sand cleanup needed—and it’s always needed!

You and puppy are sure to have lots of fun together at the beach this summer! You can use our tips as a checklist of what to take with you and reminders of how to ensure your four-legged best friend’s safety and comfort. Have fun!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

5 Reasons Why Cats Make Great Pets

There are five major reasons that make cats the first choice as a great pet for many, many people! When you are looking to adopt a new pet, consider your lifestyle and the characteristics of cats when going through the adoption process. Rest assured, cats make wonderful pets and can adapt to almost any situation!

1. Cats are Loving Companions

Forget what you’ve heard about cats being so independent that they don’t love their owners and don’t need attention—it is simply not true.

Cats love to be held and petted, and are very loyal. They will let you know that their lives revolve around you and many cats run to the door to greet their owners when they come home. They follow you around and sleep near you if you are busy—they may even try to sleep on the keyboard of your computer while you are trying to work and on your bed while you are sleeping!

Their independence is a wonderful characteristic for many reasons. It certainly does not prevent them from showing their love and appreciation for their owners. This marvelous characteristic of cats allows them to respond to affection to the same degree that it is offered to them.

2. Cats are Low Maintenance

Cats are not only inexpensive to adopt, but also they are much less expensive to maintain than dogs, and it requires very little work to look after them:

  • They are easily entertained, even with only an empty cardboard box, meaning you don’t need as many toys for playtime.
  • There is no long, grueling housetraining to worry about as there is with dogs. Cats can be trained to use a litter box within a couple of days or so. There will be no accidents unless kitty is ill. You don’t have to take cats out for walks in the rain, sleet, and snow, and you don’t have to get out of bed early in the morning to take them outside when they must heed the call of nature.
  • Depending on their breed and age, you don’t have to bathe a cat with water or worry too much about your pet’s cleanliness. Cats are incessant self-groomers. Even as kittens they take care of bathing all by themselves. They will still need your help to groom knots and tangles out of their fur however, as well as provide them with regular oral care.
  • You don’t have to worry or stress about a cat when you leave for work or go out in the evening. Cats are self-sufficient and there will be no worrisome whimpering or loud cries to disturb the neighbours when they are left on their own. Adult cats sleep about 15 hours a day. Your absence simply means a longer nap time for them.
  • As long as they have access to food, water, and a litter box, you can even leave your cat for a day or two if it’s really needed.

3. Cats Keep You Healthy

The companionship of a cat helps create health and happiness in your household:

  • Children who have a cat at home learn responsibility and empathy. Cats thrive in homes with children and will help them cope with unhappiness and loneliness.
  • Cats also help adults deal with stress and unhappiness. Studies show that cats notice when their owners are sad or worried, so they’ll often rub against their cat parents more aggressively and purr more loudly to comfort them when they sense their human is anxious. (Also, cats are so cute they cheer you up just by being around!)
  • Purring is considered by many people to be downright therapeutic. You can find online videos of cats purring used by people who find the soothing purrs help them fall asleep.
  • Research shows that owning a cat lowers a person’s blood pressure and reduces stress, which lessens the possibility of suffering a stroke or a heart attack by older owners and for people who are ill.

4. Cats Can Be Trained (Or Not)

Cats can be trained and have good memories. You don’t have to train cats to be quiet because they are quiet. They don’t create a loud ruckus when the doorbell rings, or when someone outside walks by the door, or when left on their own. All of these makes them ideal pets for apartment owners and for anyone living in a quiet neighbourhood.

It’s a good idea to train your cat to come when you call their name, which is especially important if you have an outdoor cat that likes to wander out of your yard and out of sight. Cats can also be trained to scratch a scratching post rather than your furniture, and to stay off of food preparation and eating areas such as counters and tables. You can train a dog to obey with a clicker and treats; you can train a cat the same way.

Make sure everyone in the household is on board with your training program and it will go much faster and more easily.

5. Many Miscellaneous Benefits

The following advantages of cat ownership may not fit into any particular category, but cat owners appreciate them:

  • Cats hate bugs and spiders as much as you do! These critter problems disappear when you bring a cat into your home (if there are too many critters to find, however, you should call an exterminator).
  • Cats usually dislike travelling, but they are easy to transport when you have to take them to the veterinarian or if you need to move to a new home. Purchase carriers for them and away you go! You can also walk a cat using a collar and leash, which is very nice if you have an indoor cat and live near a busy street or in a rural area with lots of natural cat enemies. Kitty can get some fresh air while staying safely by your side.
  • It is heartbreaking to lose a pet. That’s why it is comforting to know that cats have reasonably long life spans so you can expect them to live longer than most dogs do.
  • During the darker and colder seasons, it’s seriously wonderful to have a warm cat cuddled up on your lap or wrapped around your neck.
  • A cat will love to play with you, but not for so long that you become bored. They don’t show any disappointment when you have had enough and want to stop.

If you want a pet that is easy to care for, gentle with children, enjoys playing but sleeps a lot, and is good for your health and disposition, adopt a cat. Cats make great pets; you won’t be disappointed!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Puppy Care 101, Part 2: Ages 8-12 Weeks

Welcome to part 2 of our 2-part puppy care series! This is the age where your puppies are really growing up from babies to toddlers.

A pup is able to leave its mother and their littermates when he or she is about eight weeks old. We’re positive they will be excited and nervous when he or she first comes to their new home. We’re certain you have been waiting just as eagerly to welcome them into your home and want to help them adjust as soon as possible!

You will need to have the necessary food, bed, water and food dishes, collar, ID tag, and leash purchased in advance. Organize your home, too, and make sure it is a safe and loving environment.

You will see many changes taking place in your little friend over the next few weeks and you should prepare yourself for the kind of behavior they are most likely to exhibit while settling in with the new family. You should also know how to train your new puppy accordingly as they grow and learn so that he or she develops good behaviour. 

Expect These Normal Characteristics of Young Puppies

  • Your pup will be only a fraction of their adult size at eight weeks, and will usually grow rapidly for the first six months.
  • He or she will sleep or need sleep about 18 to 19 hours a day.
  • He or she will have all their baby teeth and develop their first adult teeth at this stage, which explains why they love to chew on everything in plain sight—they will be teething! Supply lots of chew toys.
  • Your puppy will be adjusting to being separated from their mother and littermates for a few days, and they may exhibit concerns in a few ways. He or she may pace and pant much more than normal, or vomit, develop diarrhea, or relieve themselves inside the house. Assume he or she will have a few mishaps, stay calm, and don’t scold or shout at them.
  • Take your puppy outside frequently to the same spot each time and praise them when he or she relieves properly. Try to establish a regular routine, such as before breakfast, after breakfast, at noon, mid-afternoon, etc., so that they will learn how long they need to control themselves. Most puppies at eight weeks old can hold their urine for about three hours. He or she will be able to wait longer as they get older.
  • Between 8 to 12 weeks, he will be alarmed easily by loud noises, unexpected events, and new people and animals, but he will grow out of this stage more quickly if you remain calm and speak to him reassuringly.
  • He or she may need to eat three times a day when they’re a small pup, but you can cut back to twice a day when they reach about 16 weeks old.

How to Puppy-Proof Their New Home

You can puppy-proof a home in the same way you would baby-proof it. Puppies, like little children, are curious and love to move around fast. Make sure your puppy will be protected from encounters with dangerous objects that are perfectly safe for older children and adults.

Take a tour through the premises and try to think like a puppy or a child—what will interest and attract them the most? Before your puppy arrives, remove any small, sharp, poisonous, and dangerous objects they may find intriguing.

  • Remember that dogs have a great sense of smell that helps them discover new and interesting items. You must put temptation out of reach, up high, behind latched doors, and into bins that can’t be knocked over. You may need childproof latches for low cupboards, especially if you keep toxic substances like cleaning products in them, or if you don’t want the contents strewn all over the floor.
  • Puppies like to chew and may decide to munch on exposed electrical cords. Put these out of their reach! Also, tie up cords from curtains and window blinds as pets can get tangled in them.
  • Small objects can cause a puppy to choke. Coins, jewelry, sewing equipment, yarn, dental floss, paper clips, fishing line and hooks, and small toys should all be hidden from their sight and kept off of the floor.
  • Use screens to shield your pet from fireplaces, heaters, and wood stoves, and remove toxic plants and decorations.
  • Take a tour through your yard as well, and look for dangerous objects, such as sharp nails, small pebbles, or any areas that you must restrict your pup from entering. Make sure paint, fertilizers, tools, and all toxic materials are safely stored away.

Protect Your Puppy’s Health

Any puppy that reaches 8 weeks of age should be checked up on by a veterinarian and given their first vaccinations. If your puppy was not checked over before you brought them home, make an appointment right away. Your new little friend will be given the necessary vaccinations and a nose-to-toes checkup. You will have an opportunity to ask any questions you have about their care, food, and training, and you can set them up with a regular vaccination schedule.

Your dog vet will be your lifesaver during this stage in their lives! They can guide you on the vaccinations your puppy will need and when it needs them. They will be immunized by its mother’s milk in the first few weeks, but this protection gradually disappears between 6 to 20 weeks of age.

Essential puppy shots are:

  • 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and repeated at 16 weeks – distemper, canine hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
  • 12 weeks – Bordetella or kennel cough and leptospirosis.
  • 16 weeks – rabies, Lyme disease, and boosters for Bordetella and leptospirosis.

The need for other vaccinations will depend on your puppy’s risk factors, their new lifestyle, their breed, where you live, etc.

Puppies must also be protected against flea bites and it’s recommended they be de-wormed with each puppy booster, with regular checkups afterwards. Plan on taking your puppy to your vet for a checkup each year, at which time they can receive their annual vaccinations (again, what they will need will depend on their new lifestyle), nipping any problems in the bud.

Start Puppy’s Training Right Away

Establishing boundaries for your puppy should be full of positive experiences. Be careful not to be angry, impatient, or fearful while training or letting your puppy see you are upset with them or with anything that happens. Do your best to establish a routine, including playtime.

If you have the time and money, consider enrolling them in formal obedience training. Otherwise, you should teach them to obey simple commands such as sit, stay, come when their name is called, refraining from jumping on people, not biting people, and learning the meaning of “no”. It’s okay to give them a treat when he or she does what you ask!

When dealing with chewing problems at this stage, remember they are teething and needs something to safely chew on. Don’t remove whatever they have chosen unless you have something in your hand to make the switch to something more acceptable. Also, don’t give your puppy an old shoe to chew on or he or she will think any shoe is fine—including your most expensive footwear.

Make sure he or she sleeps in the place you have chosen so they don’t think there are options. Be consistent. Sleeping with a blanket that has been rubbed against their mother for the first few nights would be a great way to comfort them.

Most puppies have light coats that don’t shed; however, it’s a good idea to groom them regularly and to keep an eye out for any skin problems. Carefully brush their coat at regular intervals and inspect their feet, nails, mouth, and ears so they get used to being touched at an age when they’ll enjoy the attention.

Introduce your puppy slowly to visitors, other animals, and noises. Keep visitors to a minimum and carefully supervise their time spent with other animals so that the new social experiences are happy ones.

Let your puppy play in and out of their travelling crate so that trips to the vet are positive experiences too. Leave the door open, put a treat inside, and let them come and go until he or she is used to it and doesn’t fear it or mind being inside.

Congratulations on becoming a new puppy parent! Be sure to combine their health and safety care with providing lots of love and attention.

Did you miss out on part 1? Check out Puppy Care 101, Part 1: The First 0-8 Weeks.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

How to Have a Great Summer With Your Cat

As the weather gets warmer, seasonal care for cats is needed. There is a way to plan a summer of fun with your cat and ensure they are safe, healthy, and happy! To do that you will need to know the seasonal conditions worth preparing for. You can also check out activities to keep you and your kitty entertained.

If your cat is an outdoor one, it’s crucial you anticipate and prepare for the risks that exist whenever he or she goes out to play. Even if he or she is an indoor cat, there is the possibility it may decide to stop lazing about and rush outside when an unscreened door opens or when an open window invites it to find freedom.

Outside Risks

Ideally, it’s best to raise your cat as an indoor one so that the risks of being outside can be avoided altogether. However, if your cat insists on enjoying the warm weather outside and there’s little to no traffic around, prepare yourself and your cat for the call of the wild:

  • Teach it its name. Use its name often and always when you call to it for dinner. Cats can be hyper aware of the sound of dinner preparations—the noise of the can opener, the crinkle of the dry food bag, and the clatter of silverware tapped against their food bowl—so you should call his or her name whenever you go to get food so he or she connects the name with the pleasure of eating. Also, call him or her at various times and have a treat in your hand. He or she’ll catch on so when he or she is outside and hears his or her name being called, he or she’ll probably come.
  • Make sure your cat has received the vaccinations he or she needs such as rabies and de-worming preventatives so he or she can play outside without risk.
  • Equip your cat with an ID collar. If he or she has not had preventative flea treatment from his or her veterinarian, get treatment right away and then put the ID on an easily detachable collar. If he or she gets lost, anyone who finds him or her can contact you, and the collar will prevent your kitty from being caught in a dangerous situation.
  • Have an ID microchip registered with your cat’s name, your name, and your phone number embedded under the skin. This is a simple, painless procedure that your veterinarian will be happy to perform at your cat’s next checkup or if you call ahead before an appointment. Shelters and animal hospitals always scan for microchips when lost or injured cats are brought to them and they will contact you.
  • If you are travelling with your cat, don’t leave it alone in the car. Take it with you in a travel case even if it becomes awkward to carry. You probably don’t need another reminder of why you must do that, but here is another one anyway: if you leave your pet for only a minute and circumstances turn that minute into an hour, your beloved pet may be trapped in a dangerously hot car, and possible heat stroke can occur.
  • If your cat is in accident, a fight with another animal, or shows unexpected symptoms of illness or poisoning, take him or her to a cat clinic or hospital as soon as possible. Have the phone number and address handy at home, or on your phone so there will be no delay.

Make sure you know the common symptoms of problems, illnesses, or poisoning for which you need professional help. It’s a good idea to be familiar with basic first aid too such as how to keep a frightened, injured cat from biting you and how to transport an injured kitty to a cat hospital.

Remember that cats will try and conceal pain because it shows weakness to their enemies in the wilds and makes them targets for attack. This instinct is so strong that they will not show their distress to their loving owners either. Be alert. If your cat comes into the house and immediately hides, or if an indoor cat hides and won’t come when called or to eat, it may be in pain. Examine it carefully and give it whatever help it needs. 

Keep Kitty Cool Indoors and Out

Cats love warm weather but older cats and kittens are less tolerant of the heat and sun. Watch out for conditions that could cause heat stroke or dehydration for cats of any age.

  1. Water – Keep your cat’s water bowl full and check it often as he or she will need more water than usual when the weather is warm. It is a good idea to have more than one bowl of water available. Check out our blog post if you’re not sure just how much water your kitty will need.
  1. Sun – Your cat is better off inside on very hot days or during the hottest time of the day (between 10am and 3pm). Once the temperature has lowered and he or she insists on going outside as usual, make sure a water bowl goes outside with him or her, and make sure there is shade he or she can reach when he or she wants to get out of the sun. A cardboard box on its side can do the trick.
  1. Inside the House – When your cat is indoors, make sure it’s not trapped in a room that gets too hot for comfort. Cool tiled floors, open screened windows, fans and air conditioning, and closing blinds and curtains and windows during the hottest time of the day can all help keep kitty cool inside.
  1. Walks – If you take your indoor cat outside for a walk, choose the coolest time of day and stay off the hot pavement and sidewalks. Test these with the back of your hand for five seconds, and if the surface is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your cat.
  1. Cooling Suggestions – Try putting cold water in a hot water bottle or cool a towel in the freezer and put it on their bed so kitty can lie on it. You can also put an ice cube in his or her water bowl to give him or her something to play with while also staying cool.

Healthy Cat Checklist

  1. Pest Protection – Keep your cat safe from outdoor pests, even if he or she is an indoor cat. Fleas and other parasites can be carried indoors on footwear and clothing and if other pets are visiting. Even indoor cats can suffer from flea allergy dermatitis. Check outdoor cats carefully for ticks when you are grooming them and bring them to a vet ASAP if you find any that have latched on! Make sure your pets are protected from all parasites with regular treatments from your vet. Check out our blog post on the subject if you’re looking for prevention tips.
  1. Vaccination Schedules – As we mentioned before, it’s a good idea to keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date. Diseases don’t take a vacation and your outdoor or indoor cat needs his or her booster vaccinations for protection. Your kitty may also need booster shots for non-core vaccinations (e.g., leukemia) if it is receiving them. Don’t let vacation plans interfere with kitty’s healthcare!
  1. Cat Disease Safety for Humans – Be alert for diseases that can spread from cats to humans, especially if you have children in your house. Caution them against touching cat feces, touching cat litter (and be careful yourself!), or playing in sandboxes that are not covered. Keep your cat off of surfaces in your home where food is prepared or eaten.
  1. Hairball Problems – Cats develop hairballs more frequently in the summer months because they lick themselves in an attempt to stay cool, and when playing outside, they want to keep themselves clean. You can cut down on the hairball problem with daily brushing and combing, and feeding your cat food that is high in fiber, often called “hairball formula.”

Let’s Have Some Fun!

  1. Toys – Cats love toys that appeal to their hunter instincts such as mice, bugs, and birds. You can attach a toy to a length of string and take your cat on a merry chase. Use a laser pointer to skip along on the floor like a bug does. Expect your cat to get bored quickly and be ready with another toy to replace it. Let it catch something now and then and put a treat someplace where the toy or the laser takes it in order to keep kitty entertained. An empty box provides amusement for a long time!
  1. Training – Take time in the summer to train your cat. Work on having it come when you call, teach it to stay off of furniture (like the table where you eat), or to stop scratching couches or climbing curtains.
  1. New Experiences
  • You can take your indoor cat on walks using a leash.
  • Try to help your cat adjust to riding in the car by letting it get used to their travel carrier in the house. Put some toys or treats inside so kitty can go in and out and get used to it before taking him or her out to the car. When you take kitty out on a ride, give it a treat just before you start the engine.
  • Blow bubbles from a non-toxic solution outside in a safe area where your cat can jump, chase, and catch them.
  • Show your cat a treat and place it under a plastic cup so he or she has to figure out how to knock it over.

With some preparation, you can have a fun summer with your cat while making sure he or she stays safe, healthy, and happy, and in turn makes your summer more enjoyable, too!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

10 Burnaby Dog-Friendly Parks to Visit on Father’s Day

“Dog is man’s best friend,” so the saying goes. We don’t think there’s any saying truer than that on Father’s Day! This year, we’d like to help dad get the most out of his four-legged best friend’s company. Staying at home is one option if the weather is less than ideal, and there are some great activities to do with your pooch if so. But if the weather is beautiful, don’t stay cooped indoors! This year we’d like to help dad get out of the house by sharing with you some dog-friendly parks and off-leash areas around Burnaby we think dad and his “best friend” will both enjoy!

1: Confederation Park’s Off-Leash Trail

Fresh air will do both dad and his dog good no matter what age they are! If you haven’t been to the Confederation Park’s off-leash trail located across from Penzance Drive, perhaps make Father’s Day the occasion! This trail is known as one of the best off-leash parks in the midtown Burnaby area. Dad and his best friend can navigate their outdoors adventure along this trail while being surrounded by BC’s natural beauty. Run, walk, jog, hike, or even dance (if you want to!) along the 1.14km trail.

2: Burnaby Heights Park (the Off-Leash Enclosure)

The off-leash enclosure at Burnaby Heights Park includes a water fountain just for dad’s dog (if the sun is out and it’s hot, anyway!). There are also enough benches and space in the park for everyone who wants to visit, with or without their pooch. Remember to bring sunscreen however as there is not as much shade from the sun as there is in other parks. On the plus side, the view of the North Shore Mountains from this area is a spectacular sight to behold!

3: Robert Burnaby Park

Robert Burnaby Park is located within East Burnaby and features a lot of cool things to do, including an open off-leash area and shared trail for dad’s favourite pooch! You could play a game of catch or get the family involved in a game of baseball at the baseball diamond. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, playground, and picnic area. This is a must-visit if you want to share Father’s Day with both your dad and his best friend, especially if they’re nature lovers. Why not create a picnic basket or fill up a cooler of snacks and drinks and bring it along with you? (Don’t forget to bring Fido his dog-friendly variety!)

4:  Barnet Marine Park

Whatever time of day you visit Barnet Marine Park, you’ll see some spectacular views! The large sandy beach is a popular spot to swim in in the summertime and Burrard Inlet’s nearby sounds and smells will be a welcome escape on this special holiday. The foreshore leg part of Drummond’s Walk passes through the off-leash area where Dad can play a game of catch with his favourite four-legged buddy. Drummond’s Walk itself is a great trail to walk along in and of itself, too!

5: David Gray Park

If you’re concerned about your dad’s pup wandering away from a non-fenced off-leash area, or if his pup needs work on his recall, try going to David Gray Park. Your pup can wander around leash-free for a while, and if they get thirsty (something bound to happen if it’s hot out), there is a nearby water fountain they can drink from.

6:  Burnaby Mountain Park

Known for having one of the most gorgeous views in the Burnaby area, Burnaby’s Mountain Park has many amenities aside from the fantastic views of Metrotown, downtown Vancouver, the ocean, and the North Shore mountains, including—you guessed it—a dog-friendly trail. Dad can check out the totem poles with his best friend as well as keep his kids or grandkids entertained at the playground. Just be prepared for a drive and to bring your sweater as the park is indeed in the middle of the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area and the elevation makes the air quite cool—but the trip here is so worth it for the view!

7: Taylor Park

Taylor Park is not just fun for dad and his dog, it’s a fun place to visit for the whole family! In addition to the off-leash park, there is a basketball court, a ball hockey court, a disc swing, a bike park, a casual sports field, a picnic area, and some really cool mosaic artwork done by local high school art classes. The off-leash area can be accessed via the pedestrian trail connecting from Southpoint Drive, or dad can take his pooch along for a leashed walk along the trail before letting them loose in the enclosed area. A drinking fountain is also available here for dad’s favourite pooch.

8: Malvern Park

If all the other dog parks are too crowded, or if dad’s dog is smaller and laid-back rather than large and energetic, check out Malvern Park’s off-leash area. There is a grassy field right beside the main parking lot, which makes it convenient for quickly parking and then getting dad’s pooch out to play right away! The short trail loops around and emerges back near the entrance, about 1/3 of a kilometre long, and a water fountain is available after you’ve completed the loop so dad’s pup can have a drink! If dad is a fan of geocaching, there is definitely one hidden within the park. Bring a GPS and see if you can find the latest surprise!

9: Burnaby Lake Regional Park

This is a great area for the whole family to relax in, including dad’s best friend! Although most of the area requires your dog to be on a leash, there is an off-leash, fenced off park near the northern entrance of Piper Spit (the nature house). There are many birds and wildlife living in this area as well as a sense of calm and peace while navigating the trails. This would be a great place for dad and his best friend if a calm Father’s Day is what they’re both looking for, especially if they’re avid bird watchers or nature fans.

10: Deer Lake Park

There’s all sorts of activities for dad and his best friend to do here! Dad can bring his dog along the off-leash trail here in the heart of the Burnaby area close to Metrotown. Dad can also rent a boat for a day, go out in a canoe, go for a morning jog or bike ride, go out for a picnic, or even try out kayaking for the first time in this area. If there’s any day or place to start learning how to paddle a kayak, Father’s Day and Deer Lake Park would be it.

Whatever you decide to do on this holiday, we hope you, dad, and his four-legged best friend have a wonderful and relaxing Father’s Day! Have fun!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Pet Obesity: An Ever-Growing Concern

Obesity is a growing concern in companion animals, and the increasing incidence appears to be mirroring the trend observed in humans. In fact, it is the most common nutritional disorder in companion pets. Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excessive amounts of adipose tissue in the body. Similar to humans, being overweight is usually the result of either excessive dietary intake or inadequate energy utilization, or both.

Numerous factors may predispose our pets to become overweight including genetics, the amount of physical activity, and the energy content of the diet (the whole sum of pet-food, homemade & commercial treats, table food, etc.). We all like giving our pets treats as positive reinforcement and as part of TLC. Those big eyes, wagging tails, or the persistent barking or meowing (depending on how your pet companion may influence you) definitely makes it easy to reach out for the treat bag; or, to reach out for food off the dining table. While it is all right to use treats for training or to show affection to your pet, it is not the only available method. After all, it is you and your company they crave most. Yes, even over food and treats.

In order to prevent pets from packing on the pounds, the most important thing is to not reach out for the treats as a reflex. We use treats as positive reinforcement, as a distraction, when we just want the pet to be attentive, when we are happy, when the pet is happy, the list goes on. Treats are meant to be just that – similar to snacks or an order of fries that we might enjoy from time to time, but should not be thinking of at every instant. The smaller your pet is, the smaller his or her stomach is, and the more harmful excessive treats can be for their wellbeing. So, instead of “treating” your pet, think of alternative methods of positive reinforcement, distraction etc. If you want to share some love with your dog or cat, nothing beats hugging and petting them. Our clinic cat, Midnight is overly food oriented at the best of times and steals food all the time. But when she is in the mood and is getting gentle scratches on her chin and getting babied, she drools profusely. Obviously it is not all about the food and treats, is it!

It is also helpful to designate one person in the family, or a common place of treats in the house, so as not to exceed the designated volume of treats a pet should be getting per day. The family needs to work as a team on this. I am always surprised to see that often the weakest link in following a weight reduction program is not the pet, but a family member. Following a weight loss program for a pet is only successful with a whole family approach. It is very easy to train a young pet to not want treats at every instant – all it is takes is some self-restraint. In a house with an adult or senior pet, the same self-restraint would be needed, but with the additional hurdle of slowly backing off on the treats and extra food rather than stopping abruptly, in order to wean them off of a long-standing habit.

Do not forget the need for exercise in maintaining a healthy body weight – this is especially true for indoor cats. Remember to regularly stimulate them to run around and play on a daily basis. By helping keep your pet at a good body weight and preventing a serious problem like obesity, it would help decrease the chances of other serious illness such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, respiratory problems, cancer, and severe arthritis in your pet. Let us make sure they are with us for a long and happy life.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Clinic, Burnaby.

How to Reunite a Lost or Abandoned Cat with Its Owner

Please note: while this article is very cat-centered, these tips can apply to our pooch friends, too!

Picture this: you’re out on the usual walk, minding your own business, perhaps on a walk home from work, or you’re out for your morning jog. Suddenly, you hear it—a cat’s meow. You pause, look around, and realize the sound of the cat has come from a place where they shouldn’t be—near a dumpster, or from under a garbage can lid, or from around the corner where you normally walk. You take a step closer, and the cat either pops out from around the corner or they pop out from under a garbage can or dumpster. That’s when you glimpse it—a collar around their neck, or a thin ribcage.

This may not be a normal situation, but there are times when a pet cat can get lost on their way home or, in some cases, be abandoned by their previous owner. Cats who live their lives as strays do not receive the medical attention they need, and a lost cat may end up in an even worse predicament than described (especially in the city!). If you are ever in a situation such as the one we just described, there are steps you can take to ensure if these cats need a home, or are missing theirs.

How to Tell if a Cat is Actually Lost or Abandoned

Sometimes, a cat is actually not lost at all but simply prowling its neighbourhood (especially if it’s being raised outdoors, but this is actually not a very good idea!). If this cat looks familiar to you, and you don’t see an owner calling out its name or desperately searching for the cat, it’s probably fine.

If you’re really not too sure, read the list below to see if the cat matches any of the following:

  • A clean, healthy looking fur coat
  • Bright eyes, with no goop from its tear ducts or redness
  • A friendly, easygoing temperament
  • A healthy physique, i.e. it looks well-fed

You should be more concerned if these signs are evident in the cat, however:

  • Shy and timid behaviour (i.e. the cat runs away from you, or tries to hide)
  • Aggressive behaviour, i.e. the cat hisses and bats at you when you draw near it
  • A dirty and dull fur coat or patches of skin where fur should be
  • A thin, visible ribcage
  • Irritated eyes or goop-filled tear ducts
  • Visible face wounds
  • Limping

If the above applies, the cat likely needs help.

Always Look for Identification

A collar is usually a dead giveaway that the cat belongs to someone else. However, some cats hate wearing a collar, and they may escape outside if they’re being raised as strictly indoor cats. The other best means of identification is either one of two things: one, a series of numbers inside the cat’s ear flap, and two, an embedded microchip. These are permanent forms of identification that can help a lost cat be reunited swiftly.

If there is ID on the cat’s person, follow the next section on how to safely get the cat to its owner. If there is no ID to be found, or the cat appears to have been outside and fending for itself for some time, skip the next section and read the one that comes afterwards.

How to Return the Lost Cat to their Owner

Unless there is an owner nearby calling out the cat’s name, or searching desperately for their pet, these tips can be done if the cat is lost:

  1. Try and bring the cat to a veterinary office or an animal shelter and get them checked out for a microchip. This is because microchips are actually not visible at first glance; they are inserted under the cat’s skin between the shoulders. Often, microchip numbers are registered with the manufacturer’s company online. Vet offices and shelters have scanners to read the number, which will definitely be registered to the company and is searchable online. The number that is identified on the microchip should be on file at the vet office or shelter.
  2. If you see a serial number tattooed inside of the cat’s ear flap, and there’s no owner to be found, get the cat to a veterinary clinic or shelter right away! Each province in Canada has their own unique alphanumeric code for identifying which vet clinic applied the tattoo. This makes reunions with lost cats and their owners a much easier task!
  3. Get on social media! Take a photo of the cat and then post about what has happened to your social networks (Facebook and Instagram are good places to try and reach out to fellow pet owners). Some groups on Facebook were created specifically for this purpose, and you can join the group if the need calls for it; perhaps they’ve posted information on the very cat you’ve just found?
  4. If there are any posters of the cat you’ve found in your neighbourhood, get the info you need from it and then contact the owner. While posters may be a bit outdated compared to social media, in some cases they still work well as a means of notifying fellow pet owners that a cat needs help.
  5. Ask around your neighbourhood in person about the cat. This will require some door-to-door action, but it’s better to do that than to find out the cat was indeed missing when it didn’t appear to be!

What to Do if the Cat is Abandoned

Most abandoned cats hang out where there is a food source, i.e. garbage dumpsters and cans or in alleyways where predators cannot find them easily. It’s a sad fact that kittens may end up being abandoned too, usually because the owners did not think their ownership through or the kittens are born to a feral mother.

In all cases where the cat is abandoned, notify your local animal shelter and give them as much information as you can about the cat or kittens. If for any reason you cannot leave the cat’s side, or the cats in question are kittens, stay put and call the animal shelter.

What Not to Do

There are some no-nos that can and do apply in the event of a lost or abandoned cat:

  • Do not attempt to trap an abandoned or lost cat yourself! It’s very likely that in both cases they will try to run away from humans. They may also be ridden with parasites such as fleas if they have been out on the streets for that long. An animal shelter has the means to trap the cats humanely as well as work with veterinarians in the event that medical attention for the cat or cats is needed.
  • Don’t feed the cat or give them treats if they keep visiting you. Not only will this make them needy, their owners may not be too happy that you’re overdoing it with the treats!
  • Don’t attempt to take the pet home with you. Unless the cat or kittens have been abandoned on your property, you may be unwittingly causing an owner grief by doing this!

All pets should be raised in a loving, nurturing environment, but unfortunately homelessness for cats is a reality, and some cats do go missing. In the case where a cat is lost, it’s an incredibly stressful situation for their owner! Imagine their relief if and when you help them find out their cat is safe and swiftly being returned to them. Hopefully by following our tips, and in the best case scenario, you can make yourself a hero to felines everywhere, whether it’s by reuniting a caring owner with their fur baby or helping abandoned pets find a new and loving home.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Puppy Care 101, Part 1: The First 0-8 Weeks

Congratulations on your new babies! Fur babies, that is. If your family dog is now the mother of a litter, you as a new puppy owner have some parental duties as well to ensure each bundle of love gets the puppy care they need (as well as some cuddles!).

An Important Note

Before you read any further, please understand that we are not encouraging anyone to home breed dogs! If you do not wish to have puppies or you don’t have the financial security or space to raise multiple dogs, spaying or neutering your current dog is the first best step you can take. We understand that in some cases there are “Whoops” moments, however, or perhaps you’ve decided to adopt from a shelter such as VOKRA or the SPCA for foster care, and if that is the case then this article may be of use to you.

If this is your very first puppy and you want to be an awesome pup parent, this post is for you as well!

Week 0-2: We Have Puppies!

When they are first born, puppies are blind, deaf, and toothless, meaning they will be especially dependent on their mama for everything from eating and sleeping to staying warm. Their first impression of their environment should be warm, loving, and safe.

We know the puppies look very cute after they are born, but did you know it’s actually a bad idea to touch the puppies constantly during the first week? The less human contact is made, the better. This is the time for mama dog to do her part as a mother by letting the puppies eat, sleep, and cuddle her; cuddling is especially important as it will regulate the puppies’ temperature for them, preventing them from getting too warm or cold. The puppies’ weight should double over time during the first week, and they will spend the majority of their day sleeping or feeding off of their mother’s milk. The milk contains the nutrients needed to help boost their immune systems.

Fair warning, their sleeping area is bound to get messy! Mama will be licking them to both keep the puppies clean as well as stimulate them so they know to urinate and defecate. You will need to clean up after everyone in the area regularly.

Week 2-3: Peek-a-boo, We See You!

Week 2 is when you get to see the puppies’ eyes and ears open at last! Their ears will usually open after 2 weeks have passed since birth, and their eyelids usually open between 10 to 16 days after birth. This is the period of time when they are finally realizing there is a bigger world beyond their mother’s care, and they’ll be finding their vocal chords by yelping, whining, and barking. Their senses will have improved, and they’ll be able to tell light from darkness. Do not force your puppies’ eyes open during this week! This could lead to permanent blindness as well as make them more vulnerable to infections.

Around week 3—only if Mama is okay with this—you as the owner can start picking up the puppies several times a day. Always be gentle and don’t take them out of Mama’s sight! They should be much heavier than they first were at birth, but their legs and bones are still developing. Be extra gentle when picking them up and putting them down!

Please note that if mom has not been dewormed during her pregnancy, then she and the puppies can start their deworming protocol after 2 weeks as parasites can be transferred from mom to her pups.

Week 3-4: It’s Time to Play

Weeks 3 to 4 are when the puppies find their sense of momentum and mobility. If there are sudden sounds or loud noises, they will respond accordingly with startled barking, yelping, and whining.

Food-wise, while the puppies may not be ready to eat regular puppy food during week 3, you can start weaning them off of Mama by giving them soft, wet food (ask your veterinarian for the right kind!). It may be a good idea to combine the food your dog vet recommends for the puppies with Mama’s milk to form a gruel. Your vet may recommend bottle feeding depending on how well the puppies take to their new food (never hesitate to ask if you’re not sure!). By the end of week 3, the puppies will be crawling, and you’ll even see lots of tail wagging.

During the fourth week, the puppies will be much more active; they’ll be standing on all four legs, running, walking, and even pouncing. Mama will be able to teach them to eliminate outside of their sleeping area. They’ll be playing more often with their littermates and learning the difference between biting hard and biting gently. The puppies will not be so dependent on Mama to help them during this week. This is when they are building their individual sense of independence, and maybe a little bit of personality too!

Week 5-6: Time to Get Involved

Now that week 5 has arrived, it’s time for puppy cuddles! This is the crucial week where the more a puppy socializes, the better it is for their well-being and the more likely they will learn to be more obedient. Walking the puppy, even if only around the house if they’re ready for outside, is highly encouraged! This is also the best time to house train them, being sure to encourage their good behaviour but not so much their bad behaviour. Be aware of household dangers while training the puppies however, such as chemicals and house plants to lessen their risk of being hurt or injured.

During these two weeks, you can start providing the puppies with individual bowls of gruel and milk replacer (do NOT use regular cow’s milk as this can upset their digestive system!). Place these food bowls in a separate room so that the puppies grow to understand where they are and are not allowed to eat (it will also discourage them from begging for food they shouldn’t eat, i.e. your food).

While training your puppy, be sure that they are not constantly itching, grooming, rubbing, or chewing on their own skin, ears, and fur. This is not normal behaviour for puppies; these are signs of an underlying skin or ear problem that should be diagnosed and treated at once. Also, be aware that bathroom accidents in your home are bound to happen while house training them. If going outside is not an option for them, use newspapers and designate a corner of the room in your home for them where they can urinate or defecate and you can clean up afterwards easily.

Week 7-8: From Dog Baby to Toddler

It’s around this time frame where it is best to bring your puppies to your veterinarian for vaccinations and a precautionary worming treatment. You can also start grooming your puppies if they are long-hair breeds or require specific healthcare, such as skin treatments.

Regular check-ups on their ears, teeth, and nails are highly recommended, not only for the great social interaction but also because the earlier you start on the nail trimming and grooming, the easier it will be to groom them, brush their teeth, and provide medicine. It’s okay to ask for help from your family veterinarian if any of these tasks are proving difficult!

By week 8, a puppy should be fully weaned away from Mama, they can start eating regular puppy food (mostly solids), and if they need to be adopted they can be. Normally, a puppy should not be adopted unless it is over 8 weeks old; this is recommended so that they can develop properly and in a healthy way.

Whether you’re learning how to be a great new pet parent, or you just love puppies in general, we hope this article has proven to be of use to you. Above all else, enjoy your new little bundle of furry joy!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.