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I am the Owner/President of Snaggle Foot Dog Walks & Pet Care in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. I live there with my puppy Bandit. I love reading stories and information about pets which could help both owners and animals.  Please feel free to check out our dog walking and pet sitting services.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Learn About Your Pet Food and Nutrition

Pet foods have been a preferred option for many pet lovers. The focus is usually on the balancing of nutrients available in these foods. However, there are many factors and aspects revolving around these feeds. For instance, what are the additives, the nature of ingredients used and the manufacturing process? In terms of nutritional composition, the percentages of individual components are important in prevention of diet related disorders.

What Makes Pet Foods
Due to marketing strategies, advertisers encrypt attractive embroidery of the supposed components of the feed. However, the actual components of pet feeds are human leftovers or food that is unsafe for human consumptions. In order to increase pet’s palatability, certain odors and aromas are added to the food. Other feeds contain supplements, mainly micronutrients that help boost the health and proper growth of the pets. 

Rendering is one of the major processes that lead to production of food. This process involves utilization by products from human food through cooking processes, to make them edible by animals. The ingredients in this case range from livestock carcasses to human food leftovers. Although this process serves many purposes, sterilization through elimination of pathogens is important for safety of consumption. The main ingredient utilized by the manufacturer is the dry protein, while the rest of the products end up in disposal.

The dried protein undergoes grinding, to increase the surface area for addition of other diet components. Energy giving foods and micro nutrients are included into the meat meal in different percentages, depending with the intended use and targets. In order to add that natural flavor, the pet foods may contain digest matter. Digest is a product of chemical synthesis of edible meat and other products, which have that natural umami taste and flavor. 

The Process and Yields
With rendering involving high temperatures, there is a tendency of destruction of nutrients in the vats. Just like humans, animals have digestibility rates of certain products, based on the availability of the subject nutrient. For instance, the whole process of making pet food may either increase or reduce the availability of digestible proteins to the body. This means that the expertise of the manufacturer determines the success of the pet food.
However, not all processes will yield the same composition of nutrients. Generally, these foods come as either natural or synthetic, based on the ingredients used. Natural feeds are recognized by Association of American feed Control Officials since they utilize ingredients from the natural environment. On the other hand, synthetic foods contain of in-vitro made supplements, which occur in higher percentages and presentations than that of natural foods.

Functional Pet Foods
Just like there are functional foods for humans, pets also have functional feeds. The main aim of these advanced foods is reviving the health or nutritional attributes of the pet. However, the label composition and the ingredients used are important, with regard to possible side effects. Manufacturers are adding important nutrients to form supplements for pets. In as far as, you feel your pet requires these boosters, it is important to understand the carrier properties and reactions.

For instance, antioxidants and omega-3 supplements are available in the market. Some of the manufacturers claim their meat meals contain these properties. However, the percentage composition may have little impact on the expected results due tom presence of antagonistic nutritional properties in the foods. Some foods that have intestinal benefits simply increase the fiber content reducing the likelihood of constipation and colon blockages. 

Additives and their Impacts
Since pet foods come from byproducts, sometimes the rendering process leads to loss of their characteristics. It is obvious that highly processed foods have a shorter shelf life especially with the destruction of enzymes through heating. Among the additives you find in these foods are preservatives in form of antioxidants, to reduce the deterioration levels of the food. Vitamin E and C are the most important inclusions due to their nutritive addition as well as preserving attributes.

Other additives include minerals such as Calcium, Iron and Phosphorous and essential vitamins to boost the strength and immunity of the pets. The rest of the additives add no Nutritional value but can increase the organoleptic properties. They include colorants, flavors, stabilizers and emulsifiers, all that focus on the palatability and suitability of the foods to the pets.

Final Scope

The labeling of pet foods as super or premium may not necessarily reflect on the nutritional benefits. It is important to check the percentage composition of natural ingredients in the food, to enjoy maximum benefits.

Monday, April 3, 2017

How to Create a Strong Bond with Your Pet Bird

Birds have a flock mentality and are out of their element in a domestic environment. Bonding with your pet helps to ease the transition and is an essential but often ignored aspect of bird care. In any case, it would be nice to have the same relationship with your bird as other pet owners have with their dogs or cats. There are a few simple but effective tips that you can use to create and strengthen the bond with your pet bird. 

Share some of your meals
Sharing your own meals helps activate the bird’s flock mentality and to perceive you as a friend. Birds bond in the wild by regurgitating food for each other. Sharing food off your plate can have a similar effect. Ensure that the food is safe for birds and does not contain any salt or seasoning. Fruits are a safe bet in this case. 

The bird may be hesitant to try the food at first. Simply put a small portion in his food bowl and eat yours directly in front of him. Your bird should warm up to the idea of sharing food in no time. Encouraging the bird softly as you eat can help to move things along. 

Create time to bond
This is especially important for rescue birds or birds that have been rehomed. Some of these birds have unfortunately had traumatic experiences with humans or simply haven’t spent much time around them. Schedule time every day to simply sit next to your bird and speak to him softly as you would to a child. Rehomed or rescue birds can get nervous around people so it may take some time for your bird to warm up to you. Sit next to the bird for 5 or 10 minutes daily while avoiding any sudden movements. You can increase this time as the bird grows more accustomed to your presence. 

Consider grooming sessions
Grooming is an essential part of bonding for most animals including birds. Grooming is a great way to create a strong relationship with your bird provided that he allows himself to be handled. Gently scratch the back of the head to remove pinfeathers. With time, consider investing in a shower perch to enjoy quality bath time with your feathered friend. 

Be creative with food
Remember that a proper diet is an integral part of bird care. Birds generally do well with fresh seeds, pellets, vegetables and fruits. Find out as much information as you can about your particular breed’s feeding habits and quantities. Hide some of the food in your bird toys, cardboard box or around the bird cage. This lets the bird forage for food as he would in the wild and provides much needed entertainment while you are away. 

Listen to music together 
Birds in the wild mainly communicate through their voices and body language. Mimicking this is an effective way to bond with your pet. Sing to your bird or listen to music and dance for him. Most pets cannot resist the temptation of joining in. It may feel awkward or silly at first but it will come more naturally in your bird care routine. 

Try bribing your bird
Bribery works magic with shy birds. Note your pet’s favorite treats and offer them every time you spend time with him. You can also make a few homemade bird toys to spruce up the bird cage and give him something to do while you are away. 

Respect your pet’s decision
This is in respect to birds that are let out of the cage and is especially important for a bird that just arrived. Getting the bird out of the cage can be challenging at first but it is best to allow him to do as he likes. Simply open the cage and wait for him to come out on his own. Physically removing the bird from the cage can frighten him or create mistrust. Most bird species want to feel control over their environment so this is a good way to allow your pet that privilege. 

Bonding with your bird is just as important as with any other pet. Ensure that you have a good avian veterinarian on call in case of any health issues or questions about your pet. These tips should help you create a mutually rewarding relationship with your pet bird. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Common Pet Illnesses and What To Do

If you own any pet, you very well know how vulnerable they are to various diseases. And because they can't communicate with us, it's our duty to take care of them. When you are a pet parent, it's not just about the fun parts, it's also about taking care of them when they are sick and being a responsible guardian. 

What to do if your pet seem to be sick?
If your pet seem to be a bit off, there is a huge possibility that it might be sick. Pets usually try to mask any sign of disease. This type of behavior in animals is their natural instinct kicking in, as in the wild any animal who showed weakness sign was ostracized by its members or attacked by other stronger animals. Thus, you have to be alert regarding any changes in the behavior of your pets, no matter how subtle it is.
Before giving medications to your pets on your own, you need to take them to a veterinarian and get them tested properly. At the earliest onset of symptoms it's important that you seek professional advice rather than waiting till the end when things go out of control.

Top 5 common pet illnesses.
Parvovirus- Parvovirus is a common disease seen in dogs as well as cats (however it does seem to effect puppies more than adult dogs). The disease is highly contagious though it doesn't spread cross-species. The disease is caused by a virus known as canine Parvovirus. This virus can remain in the environment for a period of at least one year. Large amount of virus is found in the feces of pets, hence if your pets even sniff feeces of an infected animal, they can get this disease. Symptoms of Parvovirus in pets:


Always get your young pet vaccinated for Parvo.  However once your pet gets it, it needs proper care and intensive treatment.  The mortality rate is high with Parvo so vaccination is imperative. 

Skin infection - skin infection in your pets can get really messy. Skin infection can be caused by fungus (eg- ringworm), bacteria ( eg- pyoderma and impetigo) or skin parasites. These infections can either be on the surface of your pet’s skin or they can penetrate deeper. Skin infection is contagious and if you think your pet has it, you need to visit your vet office and ask for a skin test.

Symptoms of skin infection in pets are:
Loss of hair in spots
Redness of skin
Itching of skin.
Oozing sores on your pet’s skin

As bad as these symptoms appear, you need to start treatment for them instantly or things can get worse.

Diabetes- The growth rate of diabetes in pets is much more than in humans. From the year 2006-10, dogs diabetes rate in US increased by 30% whereas in cats the rate was 10%. diabetes happens when your pet’s body isn't producing enough insulin. This can be due to pancreas are working in a defective manner or it's damaged. Although diabetes can't be treated, it can be managed and controlled. 

Symptoms of diabetes in pets are as follows:
Pets get thirsty frequently 
Frequent urination
Loss of weight
In advanced cases, your pets might show symptoms like:

Arthritis- arthritis usually occurs in older pets. However in several cases, even young pets were seen suffering from this disease. This disease causes pain in the joints of pets and your pet shows signs of pain, stiffness and discomfort. Arthritis can be caused by old age, development of abnormal cartilage, ligament damage or fracture.

Some of the common symptoms of arthritis in pets are:
Difficulty in moving
Muscle atrophy

Usually if your vet thinks that your pet got arthritis he will suggest X rays to confirm the bone or bones in which arthritis is prevalent. Weight loss and proper exercise can provide your pet immense relief from arthritis pain. Your vet may also prescribe joint medication.

Heartworm disease- Heartworm disease is a common and fatal disease amongst pets. Usually, the symptoms of Heartworm shows up late and by then the disease can become fatal and deadly. Heartworm is caused by worms known as dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread in your pets through bites of mosquitoes. 

Symptoms of Heartworm in your pets are:
Dry cough
Loss of weight
Difficulty in breathing
Bulging of chest

If not treated on time, Heartworms can cause heart failure, damage of organs, lung disease and in some cases it might also lead to death. Your vet can test your pet for Heartworm by taking his blood sample and testing it.

You are with your pet every day so if you see something that just doesn't seem right, seek care, it could save their life.

Monday, March 6, 2017

How To Care For Your Cat

If you are a lover of cats, you might think it nice to have one share your lovely home. These cute looking, feline creatures have been widely misunderstood by others; but not you. So you adopted a little cutie for yourself, and you are now wondering just how you might show them care, and love, and warmth. Well, caring for cats is nothing close to rocket science; all you need is a short and simple guide.

Understand your cat
Unlike dogs, cats have been misunderstood; and many have accused them of being mean and cold. This is not true, and you will find it rewarding to try and understand your cat when she is trying to say something or even trying to give you a hug. For instance, John Bradshaw, an anthrozoologist, from the University of Bristol, has said that contrary to popular belief, cats purr when they need some care and want you close by. You may have shared the old belief that cats purr when they are happy and it might just be time for you to drop it— that is if you want to get along with your cat. In the same vein, Gary Weitzman, a renowned veterinarian, has pointed out that slow blinking is a way of your cat saying that she trusts you. I bet you may have assumed that it was probably feeling dizzy. Enough has been said. Learn to communicate with your cat.

Feeding your cat
Believe it or not, cats can be very finicky when it comes to food. I personally have 2 cats and there is only 2 kinds of food they like so you may have to go through different brands before finding the ones they like. Just make sure the food is nutritionally balanced.

Groom your cat
In addition, cats need to be regularly groomed. Grooming involves brushing your cat to remove loose hair. Brushing your cat is beneficial to her health as it will cut down on hairballs that would develop in her digestive tract if she does it herself. A pin brush works great for long fur while a flat brush is better for short fur. Use this time to inspect your cats for fleas on the skin and don’t fail to seek her cooperation before doing all this. There are a few tricks like doing this before meals and Weber say this will make the cat connect grooming with something delicious.

Provide good health care
This is likely the most important point. Kittens need regular health care when they are very young. They will need to receive vaccines for common illnesses like rabies and distemper. During these checks, the veterinary doctor will evaluate your cat for leukemia and roundworm which is highly contagious. Apart from these early checkups, you also need to monitor your cat closely, so you can tell when they are in need of medical attention. There are some signs which should immediately alert you to the fact that your cat is ill and they include Eye redness, discharge or blur; foul smell from the ears or secretions; Reddish urine or excessive urination; skin lumps and bumps, wounds; vomiting and diarrhea, and signs of insanity.

General cleanliness
If you think it’s necessary to take your bath every day, then there is no reason why you should leave your cat out. Bathe your cats with warm water and let them dry. It is also important to brush your cat’s teeth every day using a soft toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste only. Brushing your cat`s teeth regularly helps prevent gum and tooth-related diseases. Every now and then, ensure your cat has her teeth cleaned by a professional and her mouth thoroughly examined. If you are not comfortable bathing your cat, find a professional groomer who specialized in feline grooming.

Housing your cat properly
Your cat needs every bit of comfort that he or she deserves. One way of doing this is to create some space for your cat. Cats need a bit of privacy as there are times when they want to be alone to rest or sleep. The standard rule for litter boxes is 1 for each cat you may have.  Cleaning the litter box every day is a routine you need to implement in your daily life. Believe it not, cats are finicky about how clean their boxes are. If you let them get too dirty they will start eliminating next to the litter box and not in the litter box.  Also, the amount of litter is important. Standard rule is no more than 3 inches of litter in the litter box.

Play play play!

Cats love to play.  Take a run to the pet store and get yourself some cat toys. I personally am not a fan of the laser lights but small cat toys can be fun for both of you!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Alternative Pet Care - Going Natural In Treating You Pets

Making your pets healthy is one priority you should take care of if you have pets at home. Aside from the usual treatments, one can get over the counter; you also have a choice of giving alternative pet care.

As much as people are now looking for natural and alternative healing, your pet too can have alternative and natural means of treatment. It is also looking into pet care as not only treating diseases through its symptoms but promoting total pet care that will build the immune system of your pets.

Among the concerns that are being looked into in alternative pet care is to make sure that your animal has proper nutrition and making sure that he has a safe and healthy diet, helping your pet exercise and managing the stress levels in their lives as well. It also makes use of alternative practices and therapies.

Herbal Remedies
In alternative pet care, it may involve the use of herbal remedies to treat your pet's diseases. Like herbal remedies for humans, herbal medicines and natural treatments for pets are prepared from stems, leaves, barks or roots of plants. These remedies provide health benefits for your pets and address common illnesses. It is, however, important to keep in mind to know what your pet's problem is before attempting to give him any herbal remedies.

Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure are also being used for animals to help with inflammation and can also contribute to relieving pain. Acupuncture is an ancient practice in humans that involves the insertion of very tiny needles in the many acupuncture points in the body. For pets, this is also done similarly and is said to work as an effective treatment for a variety of ailments in animals including respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders.

Chiropractic Treatment
Another practice used in alternative pet care and holistic healing for your pets is through chiropractic treatment. This involves manual therapy, aligning of the spine to improve proper functioning or the pet's body and appropriate exercise. Chiropractic treatment is not usually painful for the animals, but they may develop mild soreness after the treatment which is just normal, to allow for the adjustment to take place. Chiropractic treatment benefits your animals as this practice often address issues involving your pet's spine and joints.

Indeed, alternative pet care has been growing nowadays as people are also looking for the natural and holistic treatments themselves. The best way to make sure your pet remains healthy is making sure you help them build their immune system and prevent them from any types if diseases, parasites, and ailments by giving them the best nutrition they should have. 

As always, before starting any holistic or natural treatments, contact your Vet first so both of you can come up with a plan for ongoing treatment.

Monday, February 6, 2017

All The Small Things: The Best Way To Care For Small Animals

There’s something undeniably cute about having a small pet - they often instill us with a sense of complete wonder as we watch them scurrying around their miniature homes searching for food, bedding, or pretty much anything they can amuse themselves with! 

It doesn’t matter what kind of small creature you choose to have as a pet, they’re all fairly similar in nature in that they’re immensely curious and highly sensitive to the world around them - this makes them fantastic companions and once you form a bond with them, you’ll find that they’re loyal to you as a result and many years worth of happy memories will ensue.

Over the course of this article we’re going to address the needs of your small pet so that you can carefully consider each and every area before purchasing one - you’re going to need to ensure that you cover everything on this list adequately if you want to ensure the optimum safety and happiness of your friendly critter at all times.

What kind of home should my small pet live in?
This is an absolutely crucial first question to ask as your little friend is going to be spending the vast majority of its time in the habitat that you purchase for it - as a result, that habitat needs to be completely suitable for its needs whilst ensuring safety and protection.

If you’re going for a hamster for instance, it’s a good idea to acquire a home that allows it to get plenty of free roaming space whilst including tunnels and small areas for it to create a bed in - the tunnels will tie into its natural curiosity and small spaces are a must in order for it to create a suitable bed.

Should you choose a gerbil on the other hand, your cage should include areas where it can climb and make the most of its natural agility whilst including tunnels and open areas for it to run through - rabbits will need an outdoor hutch that contains plenty of space and adequate insulation to keep it warm during the cold months.

Regardless of your pet choice, make sure you know precisely what kind of habitat it’ll need to keep it satisfied.

The right food
Even though certain small animals may look very similar, they all have very different metabolisms and digestive systems - you’ve got to ensure that the food you purchase for your pet is going to be compatible with its inner workings.

It’s always a good idea to research online and find out which food type is going to serve your new family member the best - you need something that’s going to be nutritionally dense whilst offering every ounce of the energy it needs to function at an optimal level.
Mainstream isn’t always the best route to go down, and you’ll find that a lot of the commercial pet food available is lacking greatly in nutritional value - anything supported by a veterinary or animal welfare group will put you on the right track. 

Daily activities and human engagement
Is your creature a natural recluse or does it prefer company? Is it lazy by nature or does it need constant physical stimulation? These are both questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before deciding which small pet to get.

Some pets will naturally need a great deal of exercise, more than their cages can possibly provide - as such, you’ll need to ensure that they get plenty of time out in the open (ensure the area is secure, letting them run wildly on your front lawn for instance is definitely going to result in an escape attempt) so that they can run off all of their excess energy.
In contrast, some rabbit breeds like a little outdoor exercise in the garden but they’re content with not straying too far away from their cage - this makes them quite easy to manage and ultimately they’re often content sitting in their own space with a handful of treats to gnaw on.

No matter which pet you have, it’s definitely going to have its own unique set of personality traits - whereas too much human interaction and outdoor space can be overwhelming for some creatures, for others it is their lifeblood.

Common issues
All creature varieties have a genetic flaw of some kind as part of their organic make up and you need to know precisely what kind of issues you’re likely to face with them in order to ensure that you can look after them properly.

Research thoroughly what your new pet may be allergic to or what could lead to it falling ill and ensure that you contact your vet immediately should any of the symptoms of these ailments arise.

Small animal care certainly isn’t rocket science, and if you pay close attention to the individual needs of your pet by thoroughly digesting the innate traits and habits of the species - it’s safe to say that you’ll have a really positive time with your furry little friend.

Monday, January 23, 2017

5 Essential Tips for Effective Pet Grooming

Pets are an important part of the family. They offer protection and companionship among other things. So, you need to treat them with care like you do to other members of the family. Do you keep a cat, dog or any other pet in your home? How do you ensure it is clean and hygienic? It is important to groom your pet so you don't have to deal with any animal-human health risks. Furthermore, no one likes a stinky pet. Grooming also keeps your pets healthy and happy.

This is a good grooming practice for furry pets. Dogs and cats naturally shed fur whether it's long or short. This process allows for the development of new and healthier fur on their bodies. Brushing is one effective and easy way to prevent excessive shedding by your pets. This practice softens and cleans their coats (both top and underlying).  It is also important to choose the right brush for your pet. Each brush is designed to handle a specific kind of coat. 

Like human beings, pets also need regular bathing. The frequency of the exercise varies with your pet's breed. Some may also love to get dirty by nature. For instance if your cat or dog loves playing in the mud then you are up for frequent bathing sessions. There are recommended shampoos and soaps for washing pets. As you shop for such, make sure you choose the right ones for your pet. Organic shampoos are some of the best for your pets when it comes to bathing. Please read the ingredients to make sure they are not “abrasive” or “allergenic”. You can also vary the water temperature depending on prevailing weather conditions. Buy pet-grooming gloves to help you in scrubbing your pet. Make bathing an enjoyable experience for both yourself and your pet. 

Nail and Paw Care
Pets get their nails or paws dirty in many instances. These are among the few parts of their body they find it hard to clean on their own. A cat can sometimes try to do this but it is not effective enough. If you have dogs, you need to do it from scratch. This process can sometimes get difficult if your pet is not used to it. They can be speeding off at the sight of clippers. You can do this by playing with their paws as you hang out together. You can also check for wounds on the paws as you groom the nails. Your pets can only jump and play well if they have healthy paws and nails. Be careful not to cut the pink part of your cat's nail (the quick). It contains blood vessels making it sensitive. Very long hails can cause paw deformities and can also be very painful to the animal (imagine walking just on your toenails all day long).  If you are not comfortable cutting your pet’s nails, contact a professional groomer in your area.
Eye Care
Eyes are among the most delicate organs ever created. It is also surprising that they are very durable. Pets may sometimes get involved in fights and hurt their eyes. It is also possible for pets to get eye infections and inflammations. Early discovery of an eye problem can save your pet from an infection. The easiest way of doing this is to be observing their eyes. You can also trim hair around their eyes, and ensure they are free of mucus. You can do this by use of sterile veterinary eyewash. Before you bathe your pet, you can apply protective ophthalmic ointment on their eyes. This will prevent possible eye irritations that might cause infections. Clean any tear-stains from your pets' eyes since these can harbor bacteria.  Please contact your vet immediately if you notice any eye deformities or infections that may be occurring.

Dental Care 
Your pets need to have their teeth clean and healthy. You need to brush your dog's teeth every other day like you do to yourself. Every pet has specific toothbrushes and toothpastes. Damage to gums and the tongue expose your pets to many health risks. You can introduce your pet to this idea by massaging their gums. Once you get them used, you can brush their teeth using the old-fashioned way. Brushing your pet's teeth will also help you identify any oral complications. Be watchful for strong odors from your pet's mouth. Such symptoms may be a sign of a gum condition or digestive problems.  Some professional groomers will also clean your pets teeth as part of the grooming process so if you are comfortable brushing your pets teeth consider a professional.

Proper grooming for your pets will ensure they stay healthy and happy!