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ADVANCE™ is scientifically formulated to help improve pet health.  Read all the latest articles and news, as well as get tips and advice on puppy, kitten, dog and cat nutrition and health care topics.  Brought to you by the experts at ADVANCE™ premium pet food.

Blog posts for September 2019

 

Dogs and children

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This is a picture of children with a dog

Big pet lovers

Australians sure love their pets!  Current statistics show that 40.2% of Aussie households have a dog and 26.3% have a cat. This makes it important to understand the dynamics of pet parenthood and care, especially when the household contains children.

Big pet lovers

Australians sure love their pets!  Current statistics show that 40.2% of Aussie households have a dog and 26.3% have a cat. This makes it important to understand the dynamics of pet parenthood and care, especially when the household contains children.

Our pets fulfill a number of roles including beloved companions, farm helpers and assistance providers. Further research suggests that there are many positives in having a pet in the home. Helping to care for animals is a great way of teaching children responsibility, as well as empathy.

Before acquiring a pet

It’s essential that prior to taking on any pet, a family considers all the reasons for introducing a pet into the household and researches the most appropriate type to meet their needs.  Unfortunately impulse buying can lead to unnecessary problems and a pet should be considered a companion for life.

The choice of pet needs to take into account the environmental and family lifestyle situation, financial considerations and time constraints.  For example, thought needs to be put into the training, grooming and exercise requirements of the various dog breeds, and the family’s ability to meet them.

Best friends

Dogs and children form a very special bond.  A family dog is often a key part of a child's formative years and tends to become their best friend, particularly for the single child.  Children provide dogs with affection as well as opportunities for activity and interaction, and dogs provide children with companionship and loyal friendship.  By living with a dog, children also learn about responsibility and develop nurturing and caring skills. Children with pets generally have higher self-esteem and better social skills.

Supervision & education is essential

While pet companionship provides benefits for the child, parents and caregivers should educate both themselves and their children to offset any risks.  Due to a dog’s territorial nature it's unfortunate that young children can be bitten by a dog that they know.  For this reason, children should always be supervised when around dogs.  

When introducing children to dogs it’s imperative that children understand how to approach dogs, so that they are equipped to better handle themselves and minimise any risk:

  •          Never run towards a dog.
  •          Avoid patting dogs you don't know.
  •          Always get permission to pat a dog from the owner.
  •          Approach a dog at an angle, not from the front or rear.
  •          Slowly extend the back of your hand for the dog to sniff.
  •          Stroke the dog gently on the side of the chest or under the chin (not the top of the head or shoulders).
  •          Don't continue patting the dog if it backs away or doesn't sniff the hand.

Canine body language

It’s equally important for children to be able to read dog behaviour, as dogs can bite when frightened or provoked.  Teach children to leave a dog alone and not run away or kick, squeal or jump if the following behaviours are exhibited.

A frightened dog:

  •          Has its ears back.
  •          Has its tail curled under its legs.
  •          Tries to minimise its size by hunching or lying down

An aggressive dog:

  •          Shows its teeth and/or snarls.
  •          Has its ears laid back but not totally lowered.
  •          Has its tail raised.
  •          Tries to make itself bigger by raising its hackles and standing on the tips of its paws.

By providing children with the necessary education, we can help ensure they have a rewarding relationship and a loyal companion for life.  This will also provide dogs with a comfortable environment in which they will aim to please all family members including any children. 

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Super sniffers

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This is a close up of a dog's snout

K9 Super power

Dogs are famous for their sense of smell, but do you know just how much of a super power it really is?

Read on to learn more about the amazing talent of the canine super sniffer!

K9 Super power

Dogs are famous for their sense of smell, but do you know just how much of a super power it really is?

Often damp, sometimes wriggling but always cute as a button, your dog’s nose helps them interpret their world.  A dog’s ability to smell is nothing short of incredible!    

Superior sniffer design

When we try to smell something, we breathe air in through the nose.  When we need to exhale, the air goes back out the nose, taking the smell with it.  Dogs have thought this through a little better!  They can separate out their inhaled breath into two components – one for breathing and one for smelling.  The portion of air that’s used for sensing smell goes to a specialised lining in the back of the nasal cavity, just in front of the brain, called the olfactory epithelium. Some idea of the importance of their sense of smell can be gained from the surface area of this epithelium, which is 18-150 cm2 in dogs (depending on breed), 21 cm2 in cats, but only 3-4 cm2 in humans.  So dogs have an ability to store smell in their nose, while continuing to breathe in and out. 

The olfactory epithelium is covered by a layer of mucus, into which airborne molecules which cause sensation of odour must dissolve before they can be detected by special chemical receptors. Each receptor is a nerve cell, which transmits information to other nerve cells in the olfactory part of the brain.

Dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to only around 6 million for us. Plus the region of their brain dedicated to interpreting these is about 40 times larger than ours.  This means that your dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than yours!  To put that into perspective, a dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools! 

Dogs also have the ability to smell separately with each nostril, which helps them locate the source of a smell.  When dogs deliberately sniff objects, the duration of the sniffs is adjusted to allow optimum exposure of the olfactory epithelium to the stimulus. If a stimulus is weak, dogs tend to increase the rate of sniffing, rather than the duration of each sniff.

Dogs also possess something called the vomeronasal organ, which we humans don’t have.  This organ detects special chemicals called pheromones and comes with its own nerves and specialised part of the brain.

Tracker dogs

Dogs not only have a well-developed olfactory sense, but are also readily trained and this combination of skills has been utilised for thousands of years for the hunting, tracking and retrieving of game.

The tracking skills of dogs depend on their ability to detect the volatile fatty acids found in human sweat, in concentrations which are hundreds or thousands of times lower than our own threshold for smell. Dogs can also detect whole human odours, even those derived from fingerprints, both when fresh and following a week or more of weathering. Perhaps most impressive is a dog's ability to detect features specific to the individual in all the body odours (palm, armpit, sole) from a single person, even though these regional odours smell quite different to us.

The ability of trained dogs to distinguish between different people has been investigated using pairs of identical twins. In tracking experiments, when direct comparisons could be made, the twins could be reliably discriminated, but in successive choices the same dogs indicated that the twins were much more similar to each other than to other humans. In other words, tracking dogs can tell people apart by their smell, about as well as we can by sight.

So next time you notice your dog wriggling their nose, you'll appreciate just how much is going on under the surface!

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Your pet's golden years

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This is a picture of a dog and cat

Growing old gracefully

Time flies when you're having fun and it can be easy to overlook the fact that your pet is getting older.  It might seem like that cute little ball of fluff came to brighten up your life only yesterday, but if your pet is more than 8 years old (or for large and giant breed dogs more than 5 years old), then the senior years have arrived.  No major cause for alarm though as with some thoughtful understanding and consideration these can be some of your best years together.

Growing old gracefully

Time flies when you're having fun and it can be easy to overlook the fact that your pet is getting older.  It might seem like that cute little ball of fluff came to brighten up your life only yesterday, but if your pet is more than 8 years old (or for large and giant breed dogs more than 5 years old), then the senior years have arrived.  No major cause for alarm though as with some thoughtful understanding and consideration these can be some of your best years together.

Here we consider nutrition, care and lifestyle for cats and dogs entering what is considered to be their senior phase of life.  Your vet can also assist you by explaining how you can actively help in monitoring your pet's health at home.

The life expectancy of dogs and cats varies widely.  Although we can't prevent the ageing process, by feeding a specifically formulated premium quality diet like ADVANCE™ and modifying home care, you can help ensure your pet continues to lead a healthy active life.

Keep life interesting

The world often becomes smaller for older animals.  Walks become shorter, their ability to perceive and interact with the world becomes more limited and they often rely on you to provide an environment in which they feel safe, secure and as comfortable as possible.  This can mean appropriate veterinary care and medications as a first point of call.

Healthy ageing

Over the past few decades the life expectancy of cats and dogs has been increasing.  This is helped by a number of factors:

  • A greater understanding of cats and dogs nutritional needs and the availability of prepared pet foods that provide a balanced diet.
  • Advances in veterinary medicine enabling vets to successfully diagnose and treat more conditions.
  • The growth of preventative healthcare programmes to detect problems at an early stage and so start treatment sooner.

To keep your senior pet looking good and feeling great requires a little more attention than when they were younger.  Both cats and dogs tend to become less attentive to their own grooming so require a little more help from you, especially with their coat and oral hygiene.

Skin and coat care

As cats and dogs age their coat can become thinner, losing its shine and the skin can become thicker and less elastic.  This changes not only how your pet looks but also how it feels when stroked.  In some cases the skin will feel rough and you may find warts or growths on the skin.  By establishing a regular grooming routine you can monitor any changes in your pet’s skin and have any areas for concern checked by your vet as they become evident.  Remember to continue to treat your pet for fleas and worms even in their senior years.

Oral care

As pets age they become more prone to dental problems that can cause pain and discomfort.

The problem often begins with the build-up of dental plaque and tarter which, if left untreated, can lead to gingivitis (gum inflammation) and abscesses.  Such conditions need veterinary dental treatment.  Watch out for the following signs when your pet is eating or chewing to help detect any problems at an early stage:

  • Eating cautiously or refusing to eat
  • Dropping food from mouth when chewing
  • Avoiding eating or chewing of dry food
  • Drooling saliva when eating

Ask your vet about an oral care regime that you can carry out at home for your pet.

Let’s not forget the little things that often make all the difference for your elderly pet. Take some time for a relaxing cuddle, provide an extra soft bed or fill a food dispensing toy and encourage your dog to find it. 

Puppy and kitten thrills and spills can be great fun.  But there's also a lot to be said for sitting quietly by the fire with a long trusted friend who seems to know your very thoughts while they happily purr or snore away beside you.

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