Pet Cats

Cat Diet
Adult cat

Read the labels and choose the best brand your budget will allow. Adult cat food should offer 28 to 32% protein, and 10 to 12% fat. The first ingredients should be meat. Cats are carnivores. If the first three or four ingredients are carbohydrates (wheat, corn, soybean) than choose something else.

Feeding Schedule

Kittens age 6 to 12 weeks: 4 times a day

Kittens age 12 to 24 weeks: 3 times a day

Kittens age 6 months to 1 year: 2 times a day

Kittens require higher levels of calories, vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus and protein than older cats. Look for packages labelled “Kitten” or “Growth” formulas. Most Supermarket foods like 9 Lives, Friskies and Whiskas are designed for adult cats (unless specifically labelled otherwise).

Adolescent and Adult cats require much lower amounts of key nutrients than kittens, so keeping them on kitten food could lead to health problems later in life. Beware of foods labelled “for any age” because that is impossible.

Adult cats 1 to 6 years: 1 or 2 times a day

Senior Cats 7+ years: 2 or 3 times a day

Once your cat is about 7 years old, the digestive system begins to show signs of aging. The kidneys begin to lose their ability to handle waste materials excreted in the urine and foods become difficult to digest. Senior foods are formulated to accommodate these changes. Your senior cat’s sense of smell may be diminishing or diminished. This can be serious for cats, as many of them rely on the aroma of the food to stimulate their appetite. There have been cases of geriatric cats that have refused to eat once their sense of smell was gone. A more aromatic food can help, or you might try microwaving the food for a minute to stimulate the appetite.

A cat must have a collar. The collar needs to fit correctly. Not too loose that it can slip off easily but not too tight either. You need to be able to fit two fingers under the collar to measure the correct size. There are many collar types; most have a bell and some are reflective which may help to have the cat seen in the dark, especially near roads. It is important to regularly check under the collar for skin irritation and redness as well as hair loss. This will mean the collar does not fit properly.

A growing kitten, will require a larger collar as it grows in size towards adult stage. Most collars also have a breakaway fastening which will release if the collar gets caught, alternatively they will have a piece of elastic so that if snagged, the collar will slip off over your cat’s head. Do not use collars that do not have these features.

Harnesses and Leads: It is possible to teach a cat to walk on a lead. It is advisable to attach the lead to a harness rather than the collar for this purpose. Leads are only required if you intend to take your cat for walks or if you are taking it to an unfamiliar house or place where you want to keep it under control.

If you plan to do this, it is advisable to introduce your cat to a harness and lead as early as possible. Put the harness on for short periods each day without the lead for the cat to get used to it. Then attach the lead and let your cat get used to this trailing around the house and garden before taking your cat out to busy and noisy areas.

To keep a cat in good health and protect it from disease, it is necessary to have the cat vaccinated on a regular basis. The type of diseases a cat can contract are:

FVR: (feline viral rhinotracheitis) FVR and (feline calicivirus) FCV account for 85% to 90% of all upper respiratory infection in cats. Kittens are especially susceptible. First vaccination can be done from 9 weeks of age, followed by a second vaccination 2 to 4 weeks later. A booster should be done yearly after initial vaccinations to keep up immunity. This also means your cat will get a yearly health check from the veterinary surgeon.

FPL: (feline panleukopenia) Distemper:

Kittens in shelters, strays and multiple cat households are at highest risk for this severe intestinal infection.

Initial dose for kittens. This vaccination is given at the same time as the above, 9 weeks and repeated 2 to 4 weeks later, then a yearly booster is given to keep up immunity.

FELV: (feline leukemia) A virus that is transferred through saliva or nasal secretions and causes immunosuppression in pet cats. Outdoor cats who may fight or mix with other cats should ideally be vaccinated against Felv.

Again, initial vaccinations from 9 weeks, then a yearly booster.

FIV: (feline immunodeficiency virus) A virus similar to HIV but is solely the cat version, therefore cannot be transfered to humans. There is currently no vaccination available.

Sterilization eliminates the need to breed, producing a calming effect on the animal. Many aggression issues can be resolved or prevented by spaying or neutering your pet. Female cats in heat will yelp and howl for four or five days each estrus cycle. Intact males tend to spray, (spraying urine around the house).

Millions of unwanted cats and dogs of all ages are euthanized each year or live on the streets as a result of pet overpopulation. You can help stop pet overpopulation by spaying or neutering your pet. Spaying (technically called Ovario-hysterectomy) is the surgical removal of the ovaries.

Neutering (technically called Castration) is the surgical removal of the testicles. Many vets require the cat to be at least 6 months old, but the surgery can be safely performed as early as 2 months of age. The younger the cat, the easier quicker they recover.

Pet Dogs

Looking After Your Dog
playful dog

A dog will rely on you for all its needs, a good home, good and loving care. A well loved and cared for dog will quickly become part of the family. A dog will respond to love and kindness just like people do. A dog will live from 10 to approaching 20 years. So by taking on a dog, you are making a statement about caring for this dog for a considerable amount of time.

Before making this commitment you should be clear in your mind that you can meet this dog's needs.

Do you:

Have time to train and be with your dog?

A puppy will need to be toilet trained, and be trained to be obedient to you.

You'll need to ensure your dog is happy, and not barking constantly or being a nuisance to your neighbours.

If you intend to go away on holiday, can you have someone available to care for your dog in the meantime.

Have you children, since some breeds of dog are more suitable to be with children than others.

A dog will have other costs along with its general food, things like a leash, possible visits to the vet, bedding and removal of toilet poop.

As a dog owner, you'll be taking on legal responsibility for your dog. You'll have to be aware of the local byelaws and the need for a dog licence.

A dog will need a garden to play and be active in as well as be taken on walks so he is kept in prime health always.

To keep a dog in good health and protect it from disease, it is necessary to have the dog vaccinated on a regular basis. The type of diseases a dog can contract are:

Distemper (CDV)

Severely contagious virus, often fatal. Young puppies are at highest risk. Initial vaccination can be given from minimun 6 weeks of age, followed by a second 2 to 4 weeks later. A booster needs to done yearly.

Hepatitis (IHC)

Contagious infection of the liver. Puppies, young dogs and geriatric dogs at highest risk.

Initial vaccination from minimun of 6 weeks of age, followed by a second 2 to 4 weeks later. Booster to be done yearly.

Parvo (CPV)

Highly contagious, often fatal intestinal virus. All dogs at risk, especially in multiple dog environments.

Initial vaccination to be given from minimum of 6 weeks of age, followed by a second 2 to 4 weeks later. Booster to be done yearly.

Leptospirosis (L)

Also called Weils Syndrome and transmitted through rats urine. It is a bacteria which causes kidney damage, jaundice, fever and can be life threatening. Initial vaccine given at 8 weeks, followed by a second 2 to 4 weeks later. Booster to be done yearly.

Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Common upper respiratory infection, highly contagious. Most boarding kennels require this vaccine. Initial dose can be given at 6 weeks of age and a yearly booster if mixing with dogs or routinely going into kennel environment.

Worming, Flea and Tick prevention

Parasite control is important to keep a healthy pet.

Worming: As a pup, every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every month until 6 months of age and then routinely every 3 months. Use a complete wormer that will cover against roundworms and tapeworms. This is especially important if you have young children at home.

Flea Treatment: The easiest way is to use a "spot-on" treatment, which is a small pipette of liquid that you apply to the back of the neck. It works quickly and lasts for a month. Most flea spot-ons will also do ticks.

Bringing home a puppy for the first time can be a lot like bringing home a new baby. A whole new routine begins with this first step. The puppy must be cared for, fed, watered, loved and trained to grow into the dog you want it to be. You'll also need to be aware of removing any sharp objects that could cause harm to a young dog with little experience of life. But a puppy can bring lots of new opportunities for fun and games to a family, as well as a central point for all love and attention.

Ensure your puppy has a warm and secure place to sleep, but also ensure that the bed is at a lower level to where you sleep or sit as this will train the dog to realise it is below you in the pecking order.

You should feed a young puppy 3 times a day, and don't allow the puppy near when the family is eating either as feeding from the table is discouraged. Feeding treats especially when training is important as this reinforces the bond between you and your new puppy.

Ensure your puppy gets used to being handled from a young age. Gently rub their paws and ears and get them used to being handled by all the family. Brushing your puppy with a soft brush from a young age and this will make grooming and trips to the vet easier later. When you use the puppy's name, try to not shout as this may discourage the puppy when it hears it name.

Try to remember that this puppy will soon grown into a fully grown dog, so licking your face or allowing the puppy to bite you could soon become something more serious later on. Persistence is needed when toilet training a puppy Use positive reinforcement always and try to ignore bad behaviour. Try and get your puppy into a routine of going outside after meals. When your puppy goes to the toilet in the appropriate place provide lots of praise and a food reward.

Ensure you have control over your puppy when walking them. Some puppies will struggle with a lead when training but be patient and be full of praise. Have fun with your puppy. The more you love and praise your puppy the better the bond is between you and your future dog.

Dogs are pack animals. They enjoy being part of a group or family. Obeying orders, from a dog’s perspective, is part of belonging. It makes them feel secure and letting them know where they stand in rank of the pack. Teaching your dog some basic commands is the best thing you can do for their self-esteem.

Every dog needs to know a few basic commands, but there is more to giving orders than saying “Sit” or “Come”. Dogs are not fluent in human language, although they can learn their names and a few short words. They take many of their cues from our body language. That’s why combining verbal commands with hand signals is a very effective way to begin.

Sit: Find your dog’s favourite treat and get his attention. Show him the treat in your hand and slowly move it up and over his head. As he follows your hand with his eyes, his butt will drift towards the floor and he will automatically sit. As this is happening, say the word “Sit” in a firm, but not angry tone of voice. Once his butt hits the floor praise him lavishly and give him the treat. Do this a few times a day for a few days and your dog will be sitting pretty!

Lie Down: Have your dog sit. Hold a treat in front of his face and move your hand towards the floor and back towards yourself a few inches (like a backwards L shape). Say the words “Lay Down” in a firm, but not angry tone of voice. As your dog follows your hand he with his eyes he will automatically lay down. When he does, give him the treat and lavish him with praise.

Stay: Once you have mastered “sit”, and “Lay down” it’s time to work on “stay”. While your dog is sitting, ( or laying down) show him the flat of your palm with your fingertips pointed upwards ( you’ll have a treat in the other hand, of course). Move back one step while saying the word “Stay” in a firm, but not angry voice. Return and offer a treat. Repeat hand signal and verbalization but this time, step back two steps, slowly increasing the length of time your dog must stay before being awarded a treat. After a while, when he is getting the hang of it, increase the amount of distraction in the room like noises and people shuffling about so that he will learn to stay when you tell him to, no matter what is going on around him.

Come: First, have your dog sit and stay. Start by facing your dog from a few feet away. Your hands should be at your sides and, of course, a treat in your hand. Say your dog’s name and the word “come” in a firm, but not angry voice. As you say “come” sweep your arm up and out to the side, (so he can see the treat) then forward to the chest. When he gets to you award him the treat and lavish him with praise. Over time increase the distance you are apart as you practice the command.

Read the labels. Dry adult dog foods should offer 24 to 26% protein and 14 to 16% fat; Puppy foods will be higher in protein and fat. Formulas for less active pets contain lower amounts of protein and fat and higher amounts of fibre. Check the list of ingredients. A good-quality meat product should be listed as the primary ingredient, because, after all, dogs are carnivores. If a dry food’s primary ingredients are carbohydrates (wheat, corn, or soybeans) and there’s no mention of meat in the first few ingredients, you should look at another food.

Feeding schedule:

Fresh water should be made available at all times.

Puppies aged 6-12 weeks: 4 times a day

Puppies aged 12-24 weeks: 3 times a day

Puppies aged 6 months to 1 year: 2 time a day

Free access to food should never be available to puppies. A high quality dry and canned food specifically formulated for his age. This is very important because dogs require different levels of nutrients at different stages in life. Puppies require more calories and higher levels of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and protein than adult dogs for growth. Look for packages labelled “puppy” or “growth” formulas.

Adult Dogs 1 to 5 years: 2 times a day

Senior Dogs 6+ years: 2 or 3 times a day

Overeating, even nutritionally balanced foods can lead to obesity, and possibly, bone problems. With the exception of Expecting Mothers, Adults require lower levels of nutrients than puppies do. Puppy foods are rich for adults and can cause health problems later in life. For them, look for products labelled “Adult” or “Maintenance” formulas. Pregnant dogs should be fed the “growth” formulas.

While older dogs require the same nutrients as young adults, they need fewer calories. Many seniors have difficulty digesting regular dog foods. At around 7 years old (5 for large breeds) a dog’s kidneys begin losing the ability to handle waste minerals excreted through the urine. Most commercial bands offer “senior” diets to accommodate our friend’s special needs.

Be wary of packages labelled “for any age”. This is impossible.

Dry food often contains the most nutrients and is the best for your dog’s teeth. If your dog prefers canned or semi-moist foods, mix some dry ration in or add some doggie gravy to it.

Sterilization eliminates the need to breed, producing a calming effect on the animal. Many aggression issues can be resolved or prevented by spaying or neutering your pet. Intact males tend to spray, (spraying urine around the house). Female dogs in heat can attract males from great distances, right to your doorstep! Likewise, intact males may roam in search of such females.

Spaying your female dog will eliminate the bloodstains on your furniture that may result from her cycle. Neutering your male will prevent embarrassing behaviour, like him mounting a neighbour's leg when they visit the home.

You can help stop pet overpopulation by spaying or neutering your pet. Spaying (technically called Ovario-hysterectomy) is the surgical removal of the ovaries. Neutering (technically called Castration) is the surgical removal of the testicles. Many vets require the dog to be at least 6 months old, but the surgery can be safely performed as early as 2 months of age. The younger the dog, the easier and quicker they recover.

Aquarium Fish

Goldfish: Housing
Cichlid fish

Some goldfish can be kept in garden ponds throughout the year, whereas all goldfish can be housed in a coldwater aquarium indoors, with no heating required. Choose a rectangular rather than a circular tank to give the fish more space. They can easily grow to 15 to 20cm or more, and are rather clumsy when swimming, so only include floating plants in an aquarium with large goldfish, others will be uprooted.

Care

Don’t overfeed! This will otherwise be fatal, with leftover food piling up in the aquarium. Offer several snacking opportunities through the day, rather than one massive meal, providing no more food than will be eaten in about 5 minutes. An under-gravel and/or power filter helps to maintain water quality, but change about a third of the aquarium water every two to four weeks. Always add a water conditioner before adding fresh water to the tank, otherwise, chlorine compounds in tap water can kill your fish. Ensure the temperature of the new water matches that of the pond.

Temperament

Pretty placid as a general rule, agreeing well together. Said to have a very limited memory, but never forget to come for food! Males, recognisable by the white spots that develop on the gill covers behind the head, will chase females who swell with eggs when in breeding condition.

Varieties

Hardy varieties which can live outside through the year have long, stream to lined bodies, and include the mottled Shubunkins, as well as the common goldfish itself, which can actually be white or even canary yellow. The jewel of the indoor varieties is the Pearlscale, whose scales look like mini to pearls, glistening along the sides of the body. The Moor is a lustrous, matt black variety and also popular is the striking Red to capped Oranda, with its silvery to white body and red area on the head. There are also plenty of different fin types too, including the elegant Veiltail, not to mention the rather dumpy Lionhead.

Lifespan

Goldfish have been known to live for over 40 years, they will only live long if they have the space to grow. Likely illnesses Short to bodied goldfish may gulp down air when feeding at the surface and this adversely affects their buoyancy, causing them to swim at strange angles. Give these varieties sinking food will help to avoid the problem. Goldfish can also sometimes develop wart to like growths on their bodies, but these are not usually serious. Do watch for fungus on their fins or bodies though, which creates a haloed appearance and is often caused by poor water quality. Can be cured if caught early.

Equipment needed: Aquarium with a hood and light, water conditioner, suitable filter(s), floating plants and gravel for those indoors, or suitable pond and plants for outdoor goldfish. Prepared goldfish food , flakes or pellets. Will also require a water test kit to ensure water quality, plus a net.

Why do fish become ill?

If you feed your fish too much, keep too many in the tank, wash the filter in tap water or don’t make regular partial water changes the water conditions can deteriorate rapidly. In polluted water the immune system of the goldfish doesn’t function properly and the fish may quickly succumb to disease. Most goldfish diseases are easily treated, but before adding any treatment to the tank, you must find out why the fish have become ill.

At between 5 to 9 euros, you might see test kits as an expensive luxury item, particularly since you’re going to need a separate kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH, or a master kit for that includes all four. However, these are going to help you to keep your fish healthy, thus saving you money on disease treatment, or even replacement fish. Goldfish like a pH between 7.0 and 8.0, ammonia and nitrite levels of 0ppm, and a low nitrate level. They’re more likely to suffer from disease if the water isn’t within these parameters.

How to treat ill fish

When it comes to treating the disease, there are bewildering arrays of medications available. You might need the help of your retailer when it comes to choosing the right one. You will need to know the exact dimensions of the tank in order to work out the amount of treatment required and the size of the bottle you require.

To work out the volume of your tank, take the length, width and depth in metres or centimeters. Simply multiply them together, so length x width x depth = tank volume. You will also need to remove any activated carbon from your filter; otherwise it will remove the treatment.

What is White Spot

White spot is a spread of tiny white spots about the size of a grain of salt. The microscopic white spot parasite lives under the skin and the immune system of the fish responds by coating them with a little cyst which is the white spot you can see. Infected fish often get quite itchy and might scratch of flick against the décor.

If your water test reveals polluted water, make a large water change to help dilute the toxins and make it easier for the fish to recover. Then obtain some anti to parasite treatment aimed at white spot and other “protozoans”. Follow the instructions carefully and make sure the water stays free of pollution. After the full course of treatment the formally spotty fish should be back to its former glory.

Rotting Fins

If your fish have had their fins nipped or torn and the water conditions are causing them stress, they might succumb to fin rot. The torn area of the fin usually gets a white or pink edged. Again, test the water first, otherwise the treatment might not work as successfully.

Fin rot is caused by bacteria. If you don’t manage to treat the rotting fins in time, the bacteria may spread to the fish’s bloodstream and the fish will become ill and may even die.

If you maintain good water quality, keep the right kind of fish together, feed good quality food and monitor all your water properties you will rarely have any problems.

A few things to observe: Are the fish active? Are they eating? Are there any scars, spots or open wounds? Are the gills nice and pink? Are the fins wide open, not clamped close to the body?

Bacteria/Fungus/Parasites: VISUAL SYMPTOMS:

Anchor Worms: Tiny, threadlike worms hang from body of fish. Black Spot Disease Small, black specks on skin.

Fish Lice: Flat, disk to shapes slowly moving on skin and fins.

Flukes: Small red spots on skin and/or fins; Fish scrape on objects in tank; Gills hang partially open and pump fast.

Grey/White Slime: Appearance of Grey/white film on all or part of body.

Hole In The Head Disease: Pin sized holes or wounds in the head region.

Ick (white spot): White, sugar like crystals on fins and/or body of fish.

Internal Parasites: Fish are thin and listless; Loss of appetite; Pale, stringy faeces.

Neon Tetra Disease: Colour fades from blue line which may turn yellow Shimmy Fish rock, shake and tremble while staying in one place Velvet Skin or fins of fish appear dusty, with very fine spots in yellow or grey patches.

Coldwater Fish are the easiest of all fish to keep. So, here are a few basic steps to help you keep your new fish happy.

So, here are a few basic steps to help you keep your new fish happy in its new home.

Try and make the journey as gentle as possible for the fish and keep it out of direct sunlight.

Rinse the gravel thoroughly under the tap until the water runs clear.

Fill your new bowl with water. In the small bowl, add two drops of stress coat, in the big bowl add three. This conditions the water making it safe for your fish.

Add two oxygen tablets to the bowl, these provide enough air in the water for the fish to breathe. Add one tablet every other day to ensure the oxygen supply is always plentiful for your fish.

Float the bag containing the fish in the bowl for five minutes; this will acclimatise the fish to the water temperature.

Carefully open the bag and allow some of the water from the bowl mix with the water in the bag, after two /three minutes release the fish and water into the bowl.

It is best not to feed the fish until the following day, fish won’t eat when stressed and it’s possible the ordeal of the journey to their new home was stressful on them.

Water Changes

Now that your aquarium is decorated and your equipment is in place, you’re ready to add the water

Change the water at least twice a week.

Fill a plastic container and leave it in the same room as your bowl some time before to acclimatise the temperature to that of the bowl. This ensures that the water temperatures are the same. Add the stress coat and oxygen tablets as before. Net your fish into the new water.

Empty the bowl, cleaning gravel and ornaments thoroughly. Pour water and fish into your clean bowl.

PROBLEMS : CAUSE : SOLUTION

Cloudy water : High ammonia : Change water

Water smells : High ammonia : Change water

Fish at water surface : High ammonia : Change water

Fish have a mucus coating on the body, which protects them from bacteria and fungus ever present in the water. When stressed this coating comes away from the body which leaves the fish prone to infection.

An introduction to Tropical Fish Keeping.

The water must be heated to between 25 degrees C and 28 degrees C. A large variety of beautiful, tropical fish is available which makes them an excellent choice for your first aquarium. Many species, such as Guppies, Swordtails and Angelfish live together well, these are known as community fish.

Aquarium fish need the following:

Clean, healthy, well circulated and aerated water of the right temperature.

Sufficient swimming space

The right tank companions

A balanced and varied diet

Required Aquarium Equipment: A filter, heater, light, Water conditioner, Living Bacteria.

Aquarium Snails

Is it a good idea to add snails to my aquarium? Snails do add interest to an aquarium, and some, such as the yellow form of the apple snail are very attractive. But it is important to bear in mind that these molluscs can reproduce very quickly under good conditions, and may soon reach plague proportions.

Their appetite is likely to cause them to turn their attentions to aquarium plants, which may already have to cope with the attention of some of the fish here too. If you find that the tank is being over to run with snails, you can trap them quite easily using an inverted saucer, by placing fish food tablets on the base.

Switch off the aquarium and room lights, and this will attract the snails here to feed, enabling them to be lifted out on the saucer. Beware though, if your aquarium contains pufferfish, because it will probably be impossible to keep even a small number of snails in their company, because these fish naturally prey on aquatic snails.