7 Tips To Help A Rescue Dog Settle Into Their New Home

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This is an image of a dog running.

Guest blog by Richard Cross creator of The Dog Clinic which helps dog parents build a strong bond with their pet through positive training. Learn more at: www.thedogclinic.com

Adoption is a wonderful moment for any rescue dog – but it can also be a stressful time. The dog must adapt to a new home and family and may still feel somewhat stressed from shelter life.

There are many ways to help your dog settle in – here are seven of the best methods, along with tips for making the transition as smooth as possible.

Guest blog by Richard Cross creator of The Dog Clinic which helps dog parents build a strong bond with their pet through positive training. Learn more at: www.thedogclinic.com

Adoption is a wonderful moment for any rescue dog – but it can also be a stressful time. The dog must adapt to a new home and family and may still feel somewhat stressed from shelter life.

There are many ways to help your dog settle in – here are seven of the best methods, along with tips for making the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Prepare your home for the new arrival

It’s natural for your dog to feel anxious when you bring them home. Remember, they may have been in a shelter or foster care for a while, which can be a stressful environment and quite different to their new home.

Some basic preparation can help your dog to feel more relaxed. Make sure you buy a high-quality dog bed (memory foam is a great choice), plenty of fun toys and other essential items. It’s also a good idea to find a quiet space to put their bed, so your pet has a place to rest without being disturbed.

Find out which food your dog was eating at the shelter, so you can buy the same brand and type. While you may want to change their food, this can cause stomach upsets if you do so too quickly. Instead, gradually change their food over the course of a week or two, so the dog’s digestive system has time to adapt.

It’s also vital that the garden and home are secured. Check for any gaps in hedges or broken fence panels, as an adopted dog is at risk of trying to run away. Make sure any toxic plants are removed from both the garden and house.

2. Keep introductions calm

Ideally, an adopted dog should meet all members of the family before you bring them home. This includes any other dogs you have at home.

Even if your dog has already met the family, it’s important that the first interactions in the home are calm and quiet. Too much excitement can be stressful and difficult for your dog to cope with.

To avoid unnecessary anxiety, ask family members to sit down quietly. Allow the dog to approach them when they feel ready and give them space when they move away. This can be difficult for children, so try to explain why a calm introduction is important. Reward your dog with treats and praise for calm behaviour.

Note: Be extra careful when introducing your pet to other dogs. It’s best to do so in a neutral environment, such as a local park with lots of space. Allow your dogs to greet each other in their own time – don’t force interactions.

3. Pay attention to rules and advice provided by the shelter

Some dogs have behavioural issues and while these can be improved through positive training techniques, this takes time and patience. The stress of moving home can also temporarily worsen a dog’s issues.

The shelter should inform you of any behavioural issues your dog has. They may also recommend ways to handle them, including management strategies. It’s vital to take this advice seriously.

If your pet has issues with resource guarding, for example, don’t be tempted to “test” whether you can take away a toy. If you’ve been told that they are defensive around other dogs, don’t invite a friend over with their pet. Ignoring the rescue centre’s advice is a common reason for dogs being returned to the shelter.

4. Delay guests until your dog is more settled

It’s natural to want friends and family to meet your new dog. Many of them will also be desperate to say hello to your new canine companion!

Unfortunately, greeting strangers is a stressful experience for a dog, even if they might appear happy and excited at the time.

For this reason, avoid having guests until your dog is more settled in their new home. This allows the dog time to bond with their new family and learn the routine.

5. Establish a consistent routine

Dogs thrive on consistency and routine. The faster you establish this for your dog, the faster they’ll settle in.

Aside from avoiding guests, you should feed, walk and toilet your dog at roughly the same time each day. Having a consistent time to go to bed and wake up can also help your dog to settle overnight.

6. Always use positive training techniques

It’s important to develop a strong bond with your new dog. Without trust and love, it’s impossible for your pet to settle into their new home.

That’s why positive training is such an important technique. The basic idea is to reward the “desired” behaviour, while ignoring your dog when they do something wrong. Over time, your dog learns which behaviours are rewarding, and you don’t damage the bond you’re building by shouting or scolding.

Management is also essential when training your dog. This involves minimising the opportunities they have to perform unwanted behaviours.

Here are a few examples:

  • If your dog barks from the front window at people walking by, use a baby gate to keep them in a different room when you’re not around.
  • If your dog likes to chew shoes, put them in a cupboard and provide more appropriate chew toys.
  • If your dog tries to take food off the table, put them in their crate (assuming  your dog been properly introduced to a crate) or in a different room during meal times.

While this might seem like avoiding the problem, management is a great way to prevent behaviours from becoming habits

7. Be patient

It can take months for a rescue dog to feel fully settled into their new home, especially if they’ve had negative experiences in the past. Be patient during the settling in period, as becoming frustrated will just make life more difficult for your dog.

It’s also important to remember that all dogs are different. Some might want to explore their new home and investigate their new family members. Others may just want to lay down and sleep. Whatever your dog’s personality, the key is to provide a relaxed, loving and calm environment.

Gaining the trust of a rescue dog requires patience and a lot of love – but it’s worth the effort.

Summary

While adopting a rescue dog is an exciting time, it’s important to remember that your new family member is likely to be stressed, anxious and unsettled.

You can help them to settle in by creating a calm and comfortable environment. Treating them with kindness, patience and consistency will also help you build a strong bond and partnership with them.

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Fun home activities with pets

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Prioritise play

With social restrictions starting to ease, you’re probably feeling a bit less cooped up in general.  However, many of us continue to work from home – often with pets by our sides – and some fun home activity ideas might be just the ticket to break up the daily routine.  They might also come in handy when the next cold, rainy day rolls around!

Read on for some fun home activities you can play with your pet!

Prioritise play

With social restrictions starting to ease, you’re probably feeling a bit less cooped up in general.  However, many of us continue to work from home – often with pets by our sides – and some fun home activity ideas might be just the ticket to break up the daily routine.  They might also come in handy when the next cold, rainy day rolls around!

By setting aside time for fun, you’ll develop an even deeper bond with your pet.

Pets of all ages need some play time to keep them happy and healthy, and this is especially true for indoor cats.  Play helps a pet condition their muscles and joints which supports physical health.  It also provides much needed mental stimulation helping to keep their mind sharp. 

Pets who are bored tend to make their own ‘fun’ and this might lead to destructive or other undesirable behaviour. 

Here’s some fun home activities you can enjoy together:

Great playtime ideas for cats

By stimulating their hunting instinct, your cat will happily swop snooze time for playtime.

• Playful cats adore anything that you can make move, twitch or disappear out of sight! 

• Toys with feathers or anything on a string will bring out your cat's natural hunting instincts.

Be sure to let your cat catch their 'prey' now and then, otherwise playtime will lead to a build-up of frustration.  This can be an issue particularly with laser style cat toys.  To combat this, ensure your play session ends by allowing your cat to hunt and catch an actual, physical toy. 

• Other toys a cat will love include catnip mice and sacks, bouncy balls and balls filled with toys.

• Treat dispensing toys are great and can also be used by cats.  Be sure to account for this food in your cat's daily ration and let your cat 'play' for their meal. 

• Consider cutting a hole in a cardboard box and see how your cat enjoys playing and hiding in it.

• A cardboard tube will give you and your cat endless entertainment, especially if something pops out of the end!

Go on a treasure hunt

Who can resist a hunt for tasty treats?  Hide kibble and treats around your house or yard and let your pet use their superior sniffer to find them. Start off with easy to find hiding spots and slowly build-up the complexity as your pet gets the hang of things. Treats with a stronger aroma will be easier to find.

This is a great way to help a timid pet gain confidence or build focus in a pet who finds it hard to concentrate on a task.

Finding the tasty titbit is often reward enough, but if you also give praise, your pet will be even more motivated.  You might like to incorporate a timer so that your pet can try to beat their personal bests!

Create a digging pit

Digging is a normal, instinctive behaviour for many breeds of dog. Problems arise when a dog digs in an area we don’t think is suitable but makes perfect sense to them (“Not the rose garden!”)

Help your dog know where they can get their paws dirty by choosing an area of the yard where it’s acceptable to dig.  Make this area attractive to your dog by burying treats and toys for them to discover.  Use lots of praise and reward when your dog digs in their new pit.

You can also use a portable child’s sand pit, which is great if you’re a bit pushed for space.

If your dog digs elsewhere, encourage them to move to the designated digging pit and reward with treats and praise. You can also make other areas unattractive for your pet by blocking access or fencing the area off (even just temporarily) while your dog gets the hang of things.

Play hide and seek

A favourite for many, is the classic game of hide and seek.  It’s also a great way to practice the ‘stay’ and ‘come’ commands.

Tell your dog to ‘stay’ and then go find a hiding place. Once you’re well hidden, call your dog to ‘come’.  Wait patiently for your dog to follow their nose all the way to you.  Once you’ve been found, let them know they’ve been a very clever dog! 

Choose hiding spots with increasing levels of difficulty.  This is another great game where you can incorporate a timer which adds a whole new element.

Make some frozen treats

Food motivated pets will love these home-made ‘petsicles’!  Spoon out canned food into ice cube trays and freeze.  You could also use canned tuna and mix in a blender before freezing.

Alternatively, stuff a Kong toy with yummy treats, seal up with peanut butter and pop in your freezer.  Once frozen, you’ve created a boredom buster that will last for hours!   These are also great for keeping pets entertained during warmer weather.

Ideas for creating fun at home activities with pets are only limited to your imagination.  Be safe, tap into your pet’s instincts and interests and you’ll be on your way to unstoppable fun!

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Preventing boredom in dogs

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Home alone

Many dogs are left alone for hours every day.  This can lead to boredom which is often the root of many behavioural problems.  Let’s take a look at how you can keep your dog occupied when you’re not there.

Home alone

Many dogs are left alone for hours every day.  This can lead to boredom which is often the root of many behavioural problems. 

Dogs are intelligent creatures and therefore require mental stimulation.  Left alone with nothing to do, a dog will create its own entertainment.  This could include such behaviours as barking at birds and clouds, running in circles, pulling clothes off the line or digging holes in the garden.  In extreme cases, some dogs will even resort to self-mutilation.

How can I keep my dog occupied when I'm not there?

The key lies in 'environmental enrichment'.  This means to make your dog's environment more interesting and complex, and is a strategy used in zoos and wildlife parks around the world.

Exercise

Dogs need daily exercise and ideally they should leave your property every day.  Taking your dog on a walk has many health benefits for both of you.  Try to vary your walks so that your dog gets to experience new sights, smells and interactions.

Find a safe off-leash area where your dog can let off some steam.  For high energy dogs consider dog sports such as Agility or Flyball.

A happily tired out dog is more likely to rest when you’re not home, rather than seek out mischief.

Toys

Have a collection of safe and fun dog toys and rotate them daily (yes, every day!) so they maintain their novelty factor and stay interesting for your dog.  Select toys that are appropriate for your dog’s level of destructiveness.  Always supervise your dog when first playing with a new toy to see if there is any potential risk of the toy becoming dangerous.  Inspect toys regularly for signs of wear, and replace any that are damaged. 

Make feeding time last longer

In the wild, an animal spends a significant proportion of their time seeking out their next meal.  When your pet can rely on you to meet their nutritional needs, they’re left with a fair bit of time on their paws.  So rather than feeding your dog from a bowl, scatter their dry kibble around the backyard.  It will take them ages to sniff out every piece.

Stuff a ‘Kong’ toy with yummy treats or put some kibble in a treat ball or ‘Buster Cube’.  Your dog will need to use their brain to work out how to get those treats.

Provide your dog with a raw bone and smoked pigs ears a couple of times each week to chew on.                            

You could also

Create a digging pit using a child’s sand pit.  Try hiding toys and treats in it for your dog to find as buried treasure.

Play hide and seek by hiding treats around the garden for your pooch to find.

If you don’t have time to walk your dog, consider employing a professional dog walker.

Investigate local doggy day care centres, where your dog can spend some quality time playing and socialising.

 

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Role of DHA for Puppies and Kittens

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This is a picture of a puppy and kitten.

Nutrition for growth

How a puppy or kitten is fed is critical for their future health. Certain nutrients are particularly important during the growth phase.  Here we’ll focus on the Omega 3 fatty acid DHA, which is a major building block of the brain.

 

Nutrition for growth

How a puppy or kitten is fed is critical for their future health.  Growing pets have nutrient requirements that are different from those of adult pets.  Their diet must supply all the energy and nutrients required for maintenance as well as cater for the growth and development of this active life-stage. 

A nutritionally complete and balanced diet specifically formulated for puppies or kittens should be fed until adulthood.

As a general guide:

Kittens and small breed puppies (under 10kg as adults) should be fed a growth diet until 12 months of age. 

Medium breeds (10 to 25kg as adults) should receive puppy food until 15 months of age.

Large and giant breeds (over 25kg as adults) should be fed puppy food until around 21 months of age.

This may be provided by feeding either a wet or dry format or a mixture of the two. Certain nutrients are particularly important during growth and it is key that a puppy or kitten receives the right balance of nutrients. 

Fat is an important source of energy for fuelling growth. The differences between one fat and another are mostly the result of different combinations of fatty acids in each. Let’s consider a specific type of fatty acid known as DHA.

This is an image of kittens playing

What is DHA?

DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is an Omega 3 fatty acid required for the normal development of the brain and nervous system of a puppy or kitten as they grow.  DHA is one of the primary fats found in the brain, eyes and nerves.

How does DHA Help?

To help your puppy or kitten learn and develop, DHA should be included in their diet from birth to adulthood.  Before weaning, puppies and kittens receive a source of DHA from their mother’s milk.  After weaning, DHA needs to be supplied in the puppy or kitten food they consume.  In pet foods, DHA is usually supplied through ingredients such as fish, fish meal and fish oil.

Studies have shown that puppies fed an enhanced DHA diet outperform puppies fed a typical DHA diet in learning and trainability tests.

The ADVANCE™ range of dry growth diets for puppies and kittens have been designed to facilitate healthy brain and vision development through enhanced levels of DHA, as well as the nutrient Choline.  They are proudly made in the Central Tablelands in NSW and offer a 100% money back guarantee.

This is an image of puppies playing

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Tips to help your pet cope in the heat

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Warmer months

When the weather heats up, it’s vital to consider how prepared your pets are to cope.  Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body temperature through sweating (like we can), which means they’re more susceptible to heat stress than humans.

Read on for our tips to help your pets stay cool during the summer months.

Warmer months

When the weather heats up, it’s vital to consider how prepared your pets are to cope.  Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body temperature through sweating (like we can), which means they’re more susceptible to heat stress than humans.

Do dogs and cats sweat?

Dogs and cats possess only a limited number of sweat glands, and these are mostly located around paw pads.  This means that when a pet’s body temperature starts to rise, sweating alone is insufficient to help cool them down.  Instead, dogs and cat utilise other strategies to help regulate their body temperature.  Dogs pant to dissipate body heat via evaporation of moisture from their tongue and nasal cavity.  For cats however, panting is generally cause for concern and may indicate an underlying medical problem.  If you see your cat panting, it’s best to book a visit with your vet.

Cats help cool themselves down by grooming.  The saliva that evaporates off their skin has a cooling effect.  Both dogs and cats seek out cool areas to lie and reduce their activity to help keep cool.

It’s worth noting that breeds with short noses and flat faces such as the French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug as well as Persian and Himalayan cats are more susceptible to overheating and heat stroke.  Overweight pets also find it harder to regulate their temperature, so special care needs to be given if this applies.

Cool refuge

On warm and hot weather days, plan for your pet’s comfort accordingly.  Ensure they have access to a cool spot with plenty of shade, and when the weather warrants it, bring your pet indoors.  Keep your pet well hydrated by supplying cool, fresh drinking water with some ice cubes added.  Consider placing multiple water bowls in a few different locations, which also helps if your pet tends to knock over their water bowl.

A cool surface to lay on, such as floor tiles, helps a pet transfer any excess body heat.  Keep blinds shut and use fans and air conditioning to help keep the room cool. 

You can make cool treats by freezing canned pet food in ice cube trays.  This can help pets stay entertained as well as cool!

Plan your walkies

Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest part of the day.  Instead, head out for a stroll during the cooler times of morning or evening.  Carry some water and a collapsible water bowl for an easy drink on the go. This helps avoid heat stress and dehydration.  

It’s also a good idea to take note of how hot the ground feels.  If it’s hot to your touch, there’s the potential it may damage your pet’s paw pads.

Try to avoid car travel with your pets when the weather is hot and never leave your pet unattended in a car.  The temperature within a closed car can rise rapidly and can be lethal.

Heatstroke

If a pet is unable to keep their body temperature within a normal range, they are at risk of heatstroke which can be fatal.

What are the signs of heat stroke?

  • Excessive and heavy panting
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Increased body temperature (over 40 degrees Celsius)
  • Drooling
  • Gums that appear bright red, bluish or pale
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Muscle tremors and seizures

A pet with heat stroke needs immediate veterinary attention.

Follow these tips to help keep your pets cool and comfortable during the warmer months.

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Common kitten feeding queries

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Feeding your kitten

It can be argued that nothing plays a more important role in healthy kitten growth and development as nutrition, so let's look at some common kitten feeding queries.  

Feeding your kitten

It can be argued that nothing plays a more important role in healthy kitten growth and development as nutrition, so let's look at some common kitten feeding queries.  

How much to feed my kitten?

Use the feeding guide found on pet food packaging as a starting point.  This will show you the total daily amount to offer your kitten.  Keen an eye on your kitten's body condition so that you can fine tune the amount fed, if needed.  Have a chat to your veterinarian if you're concerned about your kitten's body condition or growth rate.  

How often to feed my kitten?

In general, younger kittens should be fed smaller meals more frequently.  This is to help allow them take in enough food for growth.  Their stomach capacity is small, therefore they require frequent meals.  

Over time, the number of meals can be gradually reduced so that by the time your kitten reaches adulthood, they will be on one or two meals per day.  Many cats prefer to graze feed throughout the day, and this is acceptable provided they maintain a healthy body condition and are not allowed to become overweight.

Ensure that your kitten has free access to a continual supply of fresh drinking water in a suitable sized container.

Should I feed my kitten a home-made diet?

It can be tempting to feed a pet a diet made up of human food and table scraps.  However, it is a challenge to create a home-made diet that is complete and balanced, especially in the long term.  Kittens need a complete and balanced diet that is specially formulated to support their healthy growth and development.  A high quality super premium pet food such as ADVANCE™ provides this peace of mind.

In addition, some human foods can be toxic to pets such as grapes, raisins, onions and chocolate. 

Should I feed my kitten dry or wet food?

Dry and wet foods are equally nutritious.  The feeding of both dry and wet foods is known as ‘mixed feeding’.  This method of feeding provides a pet with taste and texture variety and enables them to get the benefits that each feeding format offers.

ADVANCE™ kitten diets are suitable for all breeds, so you can be sure there's a diet that’s just right for your kitten.

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Socialising your puppy

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Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people.  In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people. 

In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

The socialisation period

Puppies go through various developmental stages on their way to adulthood.  The ‘socialisation period’ lasts from around 3 to 12 weeks of age, and during this time, puppies are more sensitive to socialisation.  The experiences your puppy encounters during this stage, negative or positive, can have a profound effect on their behaviour later in life.

While the socialisation period is a critical developmental stage for your puppy, socialisation should also continue throughout your dog's life.                                       

Positive socialisation

Socialising your puppy involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, dogs, other animals, places, smells and noises.  It’s important that these interactions are a positive experience for your puppy.  Introduce them to new situations gently and reward them for calm behaviour. 

Puppy School training classes are a great way to start socialising and training your puppy.  Here you can get good advice on basic training, puppies can meet a wide range of other puppies of all shapes and sizes, as well as different people. 

Tips for choosing a Puppy School class

Puppy classes should be well structured and organised and not just a free play session for puppies, as this can frighten young or less confident puppies.  Off-lead play should be carefully managed and supervised with just a few puppies off lead for short periods.  The trainer should use positive reinforcement training methods.  In addition, class sizes should be limited to no more than 10 puppies.

Veterinarians can often recommend where to find good puppy classes, and a local veterinary clinic may well run one.

                                          

Socialising with other animals       

Remember that socialisation is not simply a matter of letting your puppy play with other dogs.

It’s very important that you select the dogs that you allow your puppy to interact with and supervise play sessions making sure all dogs involved are behaving appropriately.  As your puppy’s guardian you must make sure there is no bullying occurring either by your puppy or to them.  If either situation is occurring, simply end the play session and try again another day.  

Until your puppy is fully protected by vaccination, they should only mix with dogs whose vaccinations are fully up to date and should not be taken to parks or areas where other dogs have toileted.                                                                                                           

Introduce your puppy to other animals such as cats at an early age.  To a small puppy, an adult cat may be terrifying, so supervise these meetings to make sure they are positive encounters for both your puppy and the other animal.

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Gum disease in cats

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The stats

70% of cats aged over 3 years have some form of gum disease, yet less than 10% of pet parents realise their pet has a dental health issue.  By establishing a good oral health routine from a young age, your cat can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

 

The stats

70% of cats aged over 3 years have some form of gum disease, yet less than 10% of pet parents realise their pet has a dental health issue.  

By establishing a good oral health routine from a young age, your cat can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

Teething

Kittens start losing their temporary teeth (also known as milk teeth) between 3½ and 4 months of age.  These are replaced by a set of adult teeth. The milk teeth usually fall out easily, but during this time a kitten may have sore gums and eat a bit less than usual.  By the time your kitten is 6 to 7 months old, they should have all of their permanent teeth. 

Gum disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is common in cats, so start dental care while your kitten is young.  

Plaque can form on the teeth which contains bacteria and leads to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).  Plaque can then mineralise to form tartar which leads to bad breath and gum recession.  If left untreated, this painful condition can eventually lead to tooth loss and even systemic disease such as organ failure. 

Tooth brushing

Prevention is better than cure, and the most effective way to prevent tartar deposits is to brush your cat’s teeth daily.  

Step 1: Start with pet toothpaste

Sit your cat in your lap or a favourite resting place.  Using washed hands, apply a small strip of specially designed pet toothpaste to your finger and allow your cat to lick it off.  Repeat a few times.  Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of different pet enticing flavours.  Never use human toothpaste as it’s toxic to pets.

Step 2: Now get your cat accustomed to having their mouth and teeth touched

Apply pet toothpaste to your clean finger, lift your cat’s lip and smear the pet toothpaste on the teeth and gums.  Start slowly progressing only as far into the mouth as your cat is comfortable. Be gentle and patient and use lots of positive reinforcement (treats, verbal praise).  

Step 3: Progress to using a finger-brush and then a cat toothbrush

Prepare the brush with pet toothpaste and gently brush to clean the outside surfaces of the teeth and gums.  Many pets won’t allow you to brush the inside surfaces of the teeth.

Step 4: Toothbrush the back teeth

Be sure to brush the back teeth as they tend to quickly build up tartar.  Progress only at a pace your cat is comfortable, and keep up the positive reward based training.

Gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing your cat’s teeth.  Ideally, toothbrushing should be done every day.

Additional help

Specially designed dental dry food such as ADVANCE™ Dental Cat can be offered when your cat becomes an adult.  Dental treats such as Feline GREENIES™ can be used daily, and fed from 1 year of age.  These products are designed to help reduce plaque and tartar accumulation.  They can be especially helpful for pets who won't allow their teeth to be brushed.  

Follow these tips, to keep your cat’s pearly whites in top shape!

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How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

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A weighty issue

Did you know that around 40% of Australian dogs are considered above their ideal weight?  Pet obesity is a serious issue, and globally it's on the rise.  As with humans, overweight pets are at an increased risk of serious health consequences, which may be life threatening.  In addition, obesity may exacerbate existing medical conditions in pets.

A weighty issue

Did you know that around 40% of Australian dogs are considered above their ideal weight? 

Pet obesity is a serious issue, and globally it's on the rise.  As with humans, overweight pets are at an increased risk of serious health consequences, which may be life threatening.  In addition, obesity may exacerbate existing medical conditions in pets.

Overweight pets have a reduced quality of life and are more likely to be disinterested in exercise and play.  They tire quickly when they do exercise and might appear to walk with a waddle. 

Reduced lifespan

Overweight pets live shorter lives. 

A study published in 2018, examined Banfield Pet Hospital™ data from over 50,787 pet dogs across 12 of the most popular breeds.  The results showed that the lifespan of overweight dogs was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to dogs with a healthy body condition.  So it’s not just quality of life that is affected in overweight pets, it’s quantity too. 

Body condition scores

You can learn to assess the body condition of your dog and this also helps let you know if you're feeding them the right amount of food.

Take a look at your dog from both a side-on, as well as an aerial view (ie from above looking down) and check:

• Can you see and feel your dog's ribs, as well as the bones along their spine and over their hips?

• When looking down on your dog, can you see an obvious ‘waist’?

• Look at the area behind the ribs.  Can you see a tuck of the abdomen? 

A dog in ideal body condition has:

• Ribs which can be felt without excess fat covering them. 

• A ‘waist’ which can be seen behind the ribs when viewed from above

• The abdomen is tucked up when viewed from the side.

Once a pet is overweight, it becomes more difficult to feel their ribs due to a padding of excess fat.  Their ‘waist’ becomes less obvious and their abdominal tuck decreases. 

All packets of ADVANCE™ dog food display a 5-point body condition scoring chart that you can use to help assess your dog's body condition.

On a 5-point body condition scoring chart, a score of 3 is considered ideal.  A score of 1 or 2 indicates that the dog is underweight, while a score of 4 or 5 indicates that the dog is overweight.

Getting back into shape

Overweight pets need a tailored diet and exercise plan, and this is best managed under supervision by your Veterinarian.  Feeding a lower calorie or ‘light’ diet can be helpful, as they provide less calories per meal.  In addition, a tailored exercise program that is appropriate for the dog helps burn calories and build muscle.

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Skin and coat health for pets

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Gorgeous coat!

It’s a joy to see a pet with a beautiful and glossy coat.  Not only does it look great, but a healthy skin and coat is a good indicator of overall pet health.  What you feed your pet has a direct effect on their skin and coat quality.  For pets with a sensitive skin, diet can play a really important role in their management plan.

Gorgeous coat!

It’s a joy to see a pet with a beautiful and glossy coat.  Not only does it look great, but a healthy skin and coat is a good indicator of overall pet health.

What you feed your pet has a direct effect on their skin and coat quality.  For pets with a sensitive skin, diet can play a really important role in their management plan.

Vital barrier

The skin has a number of important functions including protecting the body from physical, chemical and microbial injury, as well as for sensory perception.

To be able to achieve this, the skin needs to function as an effective barrier.  Diet can play an important role in supporting the barrier function of the skin.

Unlike humans, the skin of dogs and cats plays a minimal role in helping them regulate their body temperature.  This is because dogs and cats have a very limited ability to sweat, so instead they pant to help reduce body heat when they need to cool off.  This is one reason why you need to take extra care when looking after your pet in hot weather.

Skin is an active organ

The skin is a large metabolically active organ, responsible for using around 30% of a dog or cat’s daily protein requirement.  The skin is particularly sensitive to subtle changes in nutrient supply, however its response to dietary changes may take several months to fully appear.

Skin nutrients

A number of different nutrients help support skin and coat health.  These include protein, vitamins and minerals as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Signs of a healthy skin and coat:

  • Soft, lustrous and glossy coat (bear in mind that some breeds have different coat types such as those with wiry coats)
  • Skin is free from scurf and dandruff and there are no areas of hair loss or signs of irritation (remember that seasonal moulting or shedding is a normal occurrence for most breeds)

How can I tell if my pet has a skin and coat problem?

A pet with a skin and coat issue may scratch quite a lot, which can lead to irritation, sores and infections.  Their coat may look dull and brittle, and their skin can appear greasy or conversely dry and flaky.

How diet can help

To enhance your pet’s skin and coat health, look for tailored nutrition that offers a specific skin and coat health claim. 

Every ADVANCE™ formula has been specifically formulated to help your pet look their best.  They contain patented levels of essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, as well as high quality protein, which have been shown to help improve skin and coat condition.

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