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The Best Foods to Keep Your Beloved Pets at a Healthy Weight to Help Them Live a Longer Life

The recent trend toward weight gain and obesity hasn't been limited to humans and places pet family members equally at risk. But weight control is crucial to well-being and quality of life, so finding ways to help your pet maintain a proper body weight becomes crucial for health as well as lifestyle reasons.  When it comes to pets, like people, there isn’t an ideal weight that is appropriately clear across the board. Your cat or dog’s breed, size, and age will all enter a formula that will determine the correct weight for individual pets. To begin, regular check-ups with your veterinarian will aid in determining appropriate body weight and identifying early signs of weight-related issues.  How Will I Know if My Pet Is a Healthy Weight? If your cat or dog is a healthy weight, the ribs and spine can be felt but not seen. Visible spine and ribs indicate that your pet is underweight. Because pet weights vary, your vet will use a “Cat Body Condition Score” to evaluate a pet’s muscle mass and weight which is similar to the Body Mass Index used for people. It will determine if a pet is too thin or too fat.  Pet parents can use a “Hand Test” to get a pet’s weight. Feel your pet’s ribs located behind the front legs.  Ribs feel like the back of a hand, indicating an average weight. Ribs with a cushion similar to the palm of a hand point to your pet being overweight.  Photo by Rick T.T. on Unsplash Why Your Pet Needs to Be a Healthy Weight Apart from contributing to a better quality of life, there are serious health issues related to being overweight. These illnesses or medical conditions can compromise comfort and quality of life easily and rapidly. The most common weight-related issues include:  Arthritis Cancer Cardiac disease Diabetes Kidney Disease Pancreatitis  Food’s Role in Maintaining Healthy Weight If a pet is underweight or overweight, your veterinarian will likely recommend that a pet be fed weight loss, weight management, or high-calorie food to achieve a more appropriate calorie intake and, consequently, a healthier weight. Commercial pet foods will contain variations in formulas to guarantee essential nutrients but at the same time aid in increasing or decreasing weight.  It’s All About the Food The bottom line is that your pet’s diet determines if a pooch or kitty packs on the pounds or perhaps is not eating sufficiently to keep its weight on. While weight gain is generally associated with an intake of too many calories and too little exercise, pets may suffer weight loss from:  Age Arthritis may cause a pet not to walk even to the food dish. Cancer Dental issues like toothaches or periodontal disease can dissuade a pet from eating. Diabetes may cause a decrease in eating and an increase in thirst. Diseases Parasites like worms can cause weight loss. Medication may provoke an appetite change. Insufficient food or insufficient food intake due to boredom or dislike of taste or texture can contribute to weight loss.  And weight loss can be just as devastating to a pet’s general health as obesity. Foods for a Healthy Weight: What kinds of Pet Foods Are Available? Dry Pet Foods Dry pet food should offer a balance of fiber, protein, and fat formulated for weight maintenance, weight gain, or weight loss. Dry food lacks moisture, but a crunchy texture can be appealing. Dry foods also tend to be non-odorous, so your home won’t smell.  Wet Pet Foods This is a favorite food type among pets, often taking the form of chunky stew, ground meat, pate, or bite-sized pieces drenched in gravy. It contains much more moisture aiding hydration.  What to Search for in Pet Food Protein, Fiber, and Carbohydrates Protein and proper carbohydrate content assist in weight management while offering essential nutrients. Fiber content is necessary for digestion. Quality Ingredients High-quality ingredients are essential in weight management, so take the time to learn what’s inside your pet’s food. Fillers often used in dry kibble may be empty calories that offer no specific benefits.  Allergens Pet foods should not contain ingredients that your pet is allergic to. Food allergies can cause general discomfort. Nutrients and Vitamins Vitamins can aid in overall health. Vitamins A, C, and E are known to shore up the immune system and improve muscle tone.  Foods to Keep Your Pet a Healthy Weight: Dog Foods Dog Food for Weight Management Timber Wolf Organics Black Forest Legends Dog Food Principal Ingredients: Venison Meal, Salmon Meal, Whitefish Meal, Lentils, Lamb Timber Wolf Organics has developed a selection of carnivore-specific foods that are fully balanced and not only ideal for weight management but also for specific challenges faced by pups with allergies and food intolerances.  Dog Foods for Gaining Weight Nature’s Logic Canine Beef Feast Canned Dog Food Principal Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Sardines, Porcine Plasma, Herring oil Nutrient-dense and highly palatable, this food contains lots of meat protein and a dose of vegetables and fruits to guarantee essential nutrients. Each can has 549 calories.  Dog Foods for Losing Weight Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food Formula Principal Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Deboned Chicken, Brown rice, Pea Fiber, Barley This is a low-fat formula with added calcium and potassium. Filled with I-carnitine to develop lean muscles, it features fewer fat calories. Omega-3 fatty acids work on joint strength and mobility to assist in increased exercise and physical activity.  Photo by Lina Angelov on Unsplash Foods to Keep Your Pet a Healthy Weight: Cat Foods Cat Food for Weight Management Timberwolf Organics Ocean Blue Legends Principal Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Herring Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Oil Featuring the very best of the deep blue sea, this particular cat food contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids to promote brain, heart, and skin health while keeping your kitty at a healthy weight. It’s also perfect for cats with allergies to land-based meats. Great flavor and balanced nutrition in the same food. Cat Foods for Gaining Weight Royal Canin Recovery RS Canned Diet Principal Ingredients: Water, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Gelatin, Natural Flavors A specially formulated soft pate cat food designed for essential nutrition and weight gain. It’s a great solution for finicky cats or those suffering from poor appetite.  It requires a veterinary prescription and tends to be more costly.  Cat Foods for Losing Weight Hill’s Science Adult Cat Perfect Weight Principal Ingredients: Chicken, Brewer’s Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Meal A dry kibble blended to encourage weight loss but maintain muscle mass. The manufacturer claims that 70% of cats using this kibble lose weight in ten weeks. It does contain grain in case your kitty has allergies—very low calorie.  READ MORE ABOUT CAT OBESITY PREVENTION The Bottom Line Simple actions that will assist your beloved pet in achieving its appropriate weight include:  Eating healthy pet-appropriate foods Veterinary visits at regular intervals Portion Control Intelligent treats and treating No Feeding from the table and no people food Lots of exercise and physical activities   
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Potentially Dangerous Household Chemicals for Your Pets

Most people commit a certain amount of time and money to clean their houses on a regular basis. This is particularly true of pet owners, especially those that have pets who shed a lot. Unfortunately, many of the household cleaning products are not necessarily safe for our pets, whether cats, dogs, or even our pet birds or small animals. This is why it’s essential for pet owners to pet-proof their homes properly.  Dogs and some cats will eat food and crumbs that fall on the floor. All pets, including birds, breathe the air inside our homes. Plus, most pets clean themselves, lick their paws, etc and can potentially ingest harmful chemicals that way too. Consequently, our pets are at risk of ingesting harmful chemicals that are potentially dangerous to their health regardless of whether they eat something or breathe in fumes.   There are many products and product types that are potentially dangerous to our furry and winged family members and should be eliminated and substituted with natural alternatives if possible. Those that you are not able to stop using should be appropriately stored. You also need to recognize symptoms and signs that your pet has ingested a toxin.  Potentially Dangerous Household Products Cleaning products and disinfectants contain many harmful chemicals even when indicated as green or natural. Exposure to cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals can result in a range of symptoms in cats, including gastrointestinal, respiratory, and skin irritations with varying degrees of damage from red, flaky skin to an internal hemorrhage.  READ >>> Easy Ways to Cleanup After Your Cats Highly toxic chemicals are dangerous to your pets and are pretty standard in cleaning products, from oven and fireplace cleaners to wood and glass cleaners. Ingredients often include: ●        Ammonia Ammonia may appear in the ingredient list of drain cleaners, floor waxes, oven cleaners, and even window cleaners because it is an excellent sanitation agent. It can cause damage to the eyes and skin if touched, to the lungs if inhaled, and to the digestive tract if ingested. Causes damage to eyes, lungs, skin, and stomach.  ●        Cationic surfactants Found in dryer sheets and fabric softeners, chemicals such as benzalkonium chloride or cetrimonium bromide are extremely poisonous to pets. Even if only through skin contact, your pooch or kitty may cause burns or irritation. Ingestion causes worse with potential damage to the lungs, kidneys, and the nervous system. Causes damage to the lungs, nervous system, and kidneys. It can cause ulcers and depression.  ●        Chlorine This is the principal ingredient contained in bleach and is likewise found in detergents from dishwasher detergents to laundry products and bathroom cleaning products like toilet bowl cleaners and general all-purpose cleaning materials.  ●        Formaldehyde This chemical is often employed in cleaners because it is antibacterial. Although considered carcinogenic for humans, it may still be lurking in the ingredient list under names such as formic aldehyde, formalin, methanol, methyl aldehyde, glycol, or oxide. Considered a carcinogen.  ●        Glycol Ethers These chemicals are used against grease and may even be found in supposedly green cleaners. Look for 2-Butoxyethanol, 2-Ethoxyethanol, or 2-Methoxyethanol in the ingredient list, especially for products that are great at eliminating grease. Linked to cancer, birth defects, and delayed development.  ●        Phthalates Included in household cleaning products for fragrance purposes, the most recognizable is BPA. Linked to weight gain, cancer, developmental delay, cancers, and reproductive problems.  Other types of products often found in homes that are equally toxic to pets include: ●        Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) Antifreeze is highly poisonous when ingested, even if in a microscopic quantity. It is sweet-tasting and odorless. If you keep antifreeze in your garage, store it so that it is inaccessible to pets. If you think your pet has ingested even a tiny amount, take your pet to your vet immediately. Antifreeze ingestion can cause kidney failure and be lethal.  ●        Fertilizer and Herbicides Fertilizers and herbicides are generally in the form of granules or liquids. Chemical-based products need to be used with caution, and pets should be kept indoors to avoid hazards.  Nowadays, there are various organic options available that will not place your pet in harm’s way. Watch for symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, or seizures.  ●        Gasoline and kerosene Gas and kerosene are often kept at homes for cars, motorized power tools and equipment, and even grills. They must be stored so that your pet does not have any contact of any kind, whether through skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation. Watch for symptoms such as drooling, abdominal pain, lesions, mouth ulcers, and collapse.  ●        Heavy Metals Heavy metals such as lead or zinc are poisonous. This means that even a coin swallowed can create a problem.  ●        Ice Melting Products Even if you do not personally use this type of product around your home, know that these are used on streets and sidewalks where you may take your dog for a walk. They commonly contain chemicals and compounds such as calcium salts, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, and urea. Because some pets like to play in the snow, your pet may get these substances on their paws and then ingest them during licking. Watch for diarrhea, vomiting, hyperthermia, labored breathing, and irregular heartbeat.  ●        Paints Paints used in home improvement projects, whether latex, oil-based, water-based, or unleaded, will have some toxicity for pets. Areas of your home that have been freshly painted should not be accessible to pets and need to be well-ventilated. Paint products need to be stored out of reach. This also includes paint thinners and turpentine. Watch for symptoms such as nausea, stomach upset, respiratory difficulty, vomiting, and lack of coordination.  ●        Pest Control products While pest control products, more often than not, are used in spaces not directly inhibited by family members, such as an attic, a basement, or perhaps in cupboards, a curious pet may investigate if these spaces are accessible in some manner. Pest control products such as mothballs, insecticides, and rodenticides (rat baits) are very dangerous to pets. Even something like slug bait can be very poisonous, so you also need to be careful where you use these products indoor or outdoor.  Watch for symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, pale gums, lethargy, seizures, and difficulty breathing.  The Importance of Using Natural Cleaners Using natural cleaners in your home is a healthier choice for you and your pets. Inhaling toxic fumes can lead to respiratory irritations and infections or long-term conditions such as asthma. Exposure to chemicals also can affect the skin resulting in allergic reactions, eczema, or irritations.  By selecting a natural cleaning product, you can reduce these risks and safety concerns and contribute to the well-being of the environment. Green cleaning products are formulated to be non-toxic and non-corrosive. Chemical products, by contrast, are often highly corrosive.  A natural product formula will avoid dyes, formaldehyde, sulfates, or bleach. More common ingredients in natural cleaning products include vinegar, natural fragrances, plant-based surfactants, and oils, and the amount of each ingredient will usually be specified.  Natural Pet Products Some of the same considerations are valid for the products specifically designed for pets. This includes toys, pet foods, grooming products and accessories, and even cat litter.  Using a natural litter without harmful chemicals or added scents like okocat is better for your cat, your family and your home. Think about your cat digging in the litter box and breathing in any harmful chemicals or licking it from their paws. Learn more
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Tips & Tricks for Bonding With Your New Small Animal Pet & Introducing a Companion

Playtime and socializing are an essential part of being a small animal pet parent. As with everything when it comes to your new pets, start gradually. Once you’ve let your new furry friend adjust to their new home then you’re both ready to have some playtime! >>> Read more about getting a new small animal pet Whether you are going to just sit together and cuddle or let them roam a bit on their own, always make sure your space is ready and safe for playtime. Put away anything you don’t want your pets to get into or chew on like electrical cords, and keep loud noises to a minimum, close open windows and doors so they do not escape. When picking up your new pet, use both hands and be sure to support its bodyweight. Be gentle but firm, holding its feet against your body, and take care when you put it back down on the ground. Always supervise young children to make sure they are handling them gently. Have toys, tubes and a hidey place available to them, as well as a few small fresh treats. DO go slowly with socialization. Start with sitting beside them and letting them sniff you – once they get used to you, you can start to pet them and eventually pick them up. Try limiting initial handling to a few minutes at a time. DON’T ignore signs of distress. A scared bunny may cower, squeal or grunt and thump the ground with its feet, while a nervous guinea pig might wee on you, and a frightened hamster may try to bite. If your pet displays any of these behaviors, put them back in their habitat and try another time. Be patient and in no time they will be interacting and snuggling.   Tips for introducing companion pets Most small pets except hamsters are social and need a companion. In a perfect world, you would be adopting your rabbits or guinea pigs at the same time. The smoothest transition is likely with littermates, previously bonded pairs, or babies, but that may not always be an option. Neutered males and females often make great pairs, as does two females, but we would advise against more than one male cohabitating as they can become aggressive or compete for resources. When you bring your companion home, do not put them straight in your other pet’s habitat. Once again, it is very important to move forward gradually! Start by placing two habitats near each other so they can adjust to each other’s presence without feeling threatened. Allow them to swap scents by putting a bit of bedding from each habitat into the other. Then you can progress to physically introducing them in a neutral space, like a different room than they are used to or a playpen, without lots of distractions in the environment. Provide them with places to hide if they are nervous, but with two open ends so they don’t get cornered. And offer them some fresh veggies as a distraction and so they may associate positive feelings with each other. Keep these initial introductions supervised and short, around 15 minutes, you can gradually build up the duration as long as they remain happy together. At every step on this process, make sure to monitor their behavior closely! Look for signs your animal is happy. These are the clues you need to see to progress to the next step. Look for behaviors like grooming each other, squeaking to each other, sniffing each other, spending time close together and ‘popcorning’ for guinea pigs or binkies for rabbits. These are good signs! Don’t be alarmed if your rabbits try to mount or chase one another, this is to be expected and as long as the other doesn’t become aggressive they are ok. If your pets show no signs of aggression and have taken to each other, then you get the green light to allow cohabitation. Just make sure their habitat is large enough for two or more. The bigger the better!
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Bringing home your new small pet: best care tips for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits & more

Did you know small animals can make a wonderful pet?Small pets are a great way to teach responsibility, are usually affordable, work well in smaller homes and spaces, and most are generally easier to care for than larger pets. With proper care and attention, they are a wonderful addition to the family. We can’t wait to share a few tips on how to provide a loving home and the very best care.  When deciding on what kind of small pet to get, keep in mind you may need to get at least two. Guinea pigs and rats for example are very social and need a buddy. Hamsters however are better with just one. Also consider how much space you have for their home and play. Hamsters are solitary, nocturnal, independent and love to burrow and run on their wheel at night Guinea pigs are gentle, sweet and sociable so they need a companion/buddy, and can make an ideal first pet Rabbits are also gentle and sociable, best with a companion, and can be trained to use a litter box Rats are very smart and social and can learn fun tricks  Before you bring your new pet home, it's best to get their new home all ready for a happy homecoming. It's much easier and less stressful if you purchase supplies and get everything setup before you bring them home. Small Pet Supply Checklist   It will vary slightly by animal but generally these are the basics you need: Pet carrier for transportation home and vet visits  Appropriate large habitat with ample room for your pet to play and plenty of space for everything they need – Bigger is Better! It's fun to watch them burrowing and building tunnels or popcorning in the bedding.  Avoid wire bottomed cages, as this poses a risk of injury for their small and delicate feet  Plenty of carefresh soft, absorbent paper bedding for nesting and burrowing. It’s unscented, no soggy mess, easy to clean up, with lots of fun colors to choose from Food & water dishes that won't tip over or a water bottle that hooks on the side Appropriate food including fresh hay, pellets, treats, fresh fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens Toys and accessories to keep them busy! It’s so much fun to watch them exercise on their wheel or run through a tunnel: Wood, wicker, cardboard, etc for chewing and entertainment and to wear down their teeth Tunnels or wheels for exercise, make sure the wheel is large enough to avoid back injury, no wires or mesh Hidey House: small pets need a place to seek shelter and feel protected. Small litter box and carefresh rabbit & ferret litter (for rabbits, ferrets or any small pets that use a litter box) Appropriate grooming tools Sand bath for those pets that cannot be bathed in water Playpen for safe social time  It's all about the location   Now that you have all the supplies, it’s time to have some fun setting up their home. Make sure to put their habitat in a well-lit area out of direct sunlight, with good ventilation, not too hot or cold.  Remember that most small pets are social creatures and will enjoy being able to observe you throughout the day; however, hamsters are more nocturnal and can get a little noisy at night running on his wheel!  Start by putting 2-6 inches of carefresh bedding in their habitat, or even more bedding off to one side or corner to give them ample space to burrow or nest—gerbils and hamsters will especially love you for this!  Then add all the accessories, being sure to secure the water bottle or water dish. Be creative!  Now you are ready to bring home your new pet!  Bringing them home   Your pet will need time to adjust to their new home. Keep your interactions to a minimum for the first few days, changing out their food and water when they are sleeping—give them time to feel safe.  Sit nearby and speak gently to them, letting them adjust to your presence and the sound of your voice. Observe them for any odd behaviors and contact your vet if you notice anything concerning.  As soon as your little ones are more used to their new home, start socializing with them and playing with them, a little more each day. Some small animals do not like to be held a lot but they may enjoy lots of soft petting – guinea pigs and rats even purr!  Be sure to handle them very gently. Small children should always be supervised.  Hamsters will squeak out of pure joy when being fed, running on a wheel, or receiving a new toy to play with, and guinea pigs make the cutest noises when they are happy.  Now you can provide the very best care and have FUN with your new small pet! 
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Easy Spring Cleaning Tips for All Cat Parents

It’s that time of year where flowers bloom, birds start chirping and we start looking forward to spending more time outdoors. Unfortunately, the country is currently facing a time of isolation due to COVID-19, which is causing us to spend even more time at home. We may not be happy about it, but think about all of the happy cats!Now that you find yourself with more time at home and less to do, are you thinking about doing some deep spring cleaning to pass the time? You may be catching up on laundry and cleaning out closets, but don’t forget your cat! Now is a great time to find all of those missing cat toys, improve your cat’s litter box area or clean up that lingering cat hair — don’t worry, we all have it!   Toys — where did they all go?!: We all love spoiling our kitties with toys they can catch and chase, but as you probably know, those toys can easily go missing. Make your cat’s day and consider taking the time to find all of the hair ties, springs and catnip filled toys that have fallen victim and gone missing under the couch, refrigerator or stove. If you need help reaching those toys in hard to reach places, a broom can help extend your reach! After you’ve completed your search, place all of the toys in one area and make it a mission to collect all of the newly missing ones each week. Your cat will be happy because he’ll always have something to play with, and you’ll be happy because you won’t have to keep buying more toys when the others go missing. If you want to take it one step further, thoroughly inspect each toy as you find them. Is it broken or dirty? If so, then take the time to fix, clean or toss them in the trash, if necessary. When cleaning cat toys, we recommend using a vinegar and water solution. If a particular toy is still in good condition but your cat doesn’t use it, consider donating to your local shelter. Litter — is it time for a switch? Giving your cat’s litter box area a deep cleaning isn’t always fun, but you’ll feel so much better once it’s done. Start by removing all litter boxes from the area and grab your trusty hand vacuum (or an old fashion broom and dust pan works too!) and sweep up any remaining litter pieces. If your litter boxes are on tile, vinyl or hardwoods go the extra step and wipe down the area with a floor-safe disinfectant spray or wipe.While your litter boxes are out of the area, now is a great time to completely empty all remaining litter and fill the empty boxes with ökocat. ökocat is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a cleaner, healthier cat litter for your home. One of the best parts? It can last up to 7 weeks with regular scooping, so you won’t have to deep clean as often. In addition to being a cleaner, healthier cat litter option, also includes key benefits found most important to cat owners when choosing a litter: Stops odor before it starts: Wood fiber naturally prevents enzymes from bonding with liquid and waste to stop the creation of ammonia. Clumps solid for easy cleaning: Precision-cut fiber absorbs liquid on contact to form solid clumps for easy scooping and cleaning. 99% dust free for a healthy home: Clean wood fiber is screened & de-dusted for a cleaner pour. No dirty clay dust. NO artificial fragrance, NO synthetic chemicals, NO toxic dyes, NO GMO’s 100% sustainably sourced, responsibly rescued Biodegradable & Flushable for fast, easy clean-up or can even be composted Naturally lightweight for easy carrying and pouring Doesn’t attract bugs like some food based litters Cat Hair — we all have it!: You know what warmer weather brings? More shedding… 🙀 All of us cat owners struggle with keeping up with the cat hair that floats around our houses. You’re not alone! Take this time to catch up on cat hair removal. This could mean giving your couch a thorough vacuuming, replacing the air filter in your furnace or finally taking the time to move that piece of furniture that’s typically hard to sweep underneath and/or behind. To stay ahead of the cat hair, you can also help your cat by brushing them often with a deshedding tool, which means less hair floating around your house. You’ll be surprised by how much hair it gets, and your cat might enjoy it, too! Another thing you can do to help your cat continue to live its best life as the weather warms up is to start treating for fleas and ticks early, especially if they go outdoors. Set up a time to meet with your vet to make sure you have everything needed to keep your cat and home pest free. As we try to enjoy spring and make the most of our increased time at home, we encourage you to take the time to make cleaner, healthier choices for your cat, your family and your home. Let us know other unique ways you’re making your cat’s life easier and cleaner if there’s something we didn’t cover!
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