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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.

Ways to pamper your cat on their birthday

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This is an image of a cat.

Many happy returns

If your kitty has a birthday or anniversary coming up, we know you’re going to want to celebrate!  Our cats are special family members, so here’s some fun ways you can make the day memorable. 

Many happy returns

If your kitty has a birthday or anniversary coming up, we know you’re going to want to celebrate!  Our cats are special family members, so here’s some fun ways you can make the day memorable. 

Gift time

Buy your furry friend a gift to show them how much you care! 

Does your cat need a snazzy new collar, or maybe something to snuggle up with in their basket? 

Perhaps your cat needs a new toy they can chase and pounce on?  Playtime is an essential daily activity for all cats, and for those that live indoors, it may be their main source of exercise.  Play helps a kitty condition their muscles and joints which supports physical health.  It also provides much needed mental stimulation helping your cat keep their mind sharp.  New toys bring the novelty factor, and can encourage even the most snoozy of felines to get active!

Also consider a puzzle feeder toy as these provide mental stimulation to help keep your pet occupied when you’re not home. 

Book a pamper appointment

Perhaps your kitty could do with some spa treatment and a bit of a makeover?  Book them a pamper session at a local groomer to get the tangles out, as well as a nail trim, so they can look and feel great for their special day!

Make a cat-friendly ‘birthday cake’

Create a cat-friendly ‘birthday cake’ using a few tasty wet cat food trays layered up.  Choose flavours that your kitty loves, and you can also sprinkle some dry food kibble between the layers and decorate with cat treats on the top.  Don’t forget to sing happy birthday!

Have a snooze together

Take some time out from your busy schedule, and follow your cat’s lead … all the way to a quiet, sunny spot.  Take a birthday nap together, or get cozy on the couch for a movie.  You’ll feel like it’s your birthday too!

Photo shoot

Capture the special day on film, by booking a professional photo shoot.  That way you can both enjoy the session, without any frustrations!  A good pet photographer will design the session around your cat’s personality and comfort levels.  If your cat is shy and timid, the photographer can work with your cat and at a pace that suits them.  You’re sure to get the photos you want.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate your best friend’s special day, the main thing is that your feline buddy gets to spend extra time with you.  That will be the best present in the world!

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Socialising your puppy

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This is an image of two puppies playing

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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Foods your pet should avoid

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Tempting tidbits

While some pets are happy to tuck into just about anything, it’s worth knowing which ‘human’ food and drink items can make your pet unwell, and even be dangerous. Here we take a look at some of the common foods and drinks your pet needs to avoid getting their paws on.

Tempting tidbits

While some pets are happy to tuck into just about anything, it’s worth knowing which ‘human’ food and drink items can make your pet unwell, and even be dangerous.

Here we take a look at some of the common foods and drinks your pet needs to avoid getting their paws on.

Those eyes!

Picture yourself happily munching away on a snack, or sitting down to eat a meal.  Next thing you hear the pitter patter of paws, and your pet is suddenly on the scene.  Their keen nose has sensed that something good (and tasty) is happening, and they’d like a piece of the action, pretty please!

Sound familiar?  When your pet looks at you with those big adorable eyes and that goofy grin, it can be hard to resist.  Before you toss them a tasty morsel, it’s worth considering if that’s actually a safe thing to do. 

Could a little something from the dinner table really hurt your pet?  The answer to that depends on what food it is and what’s in it.  While some foods are safe for pets to eat, others shouldn’t be on the menu.  Some common foods and drinks can cause discomfort and an upset tummy, while others can contribute to choking and intestinal obstruction.  Some foods are even toxic to pets, and can be lethal.

Food and drinks your pet needs to avoid

The following is a list of common foods and drinks that should be avoided by dogs and cats, some of which might even surprise you. 

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, so always check with your veterinarian if in doubt.

  • Alcoholic drinks and foods containing alcohol
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot and peach pits
  • Avocado
  • Caffeinated drinks such as cola, coffee, energy drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits such as limes, lemons and grapefruits
  • Cooked bones
  • Corn cobs
  • Fatty foods
  • Fruit with pits such as cherry, plum, peach
  • Garlic, onions and shallots
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Milk and dairy items – most pets are lactose intolerant
  • Onions
  • Potatoes with growths or sprouts
  • Raw and under-cooked meat and eggs
  • Sultanas and raisins
  • Diet food and drinks (including candy and gum) containing artificial sweeteners
  • Yeast dough (expanding dough can cause digestive pain and bloat)

If you suspect your pet has eaten any of these items, contact your veterinarian right away.  It’s helpful if you know how much they have consumed. 

For peace of mind, it’s best to stick to only feeding a quality pet food such as ADVANCE™ as well as treats specifically formulated for pets.  Also avoid offering cats anything that has been designed for dogs, and vice-versa.  This will help keep your pet safe and healthy.

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How can I tell if my cat is overweight?

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This is an image of a cat sharpening their claws.

A weighty issue

Did you know that around a third of Australian cats 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 a third of Australian cats 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. 

Body condition scores

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

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

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

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

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

A cat 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™ cat food display a 5-point body condition scoring chart that you can use to help condition score your cat.

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

 

 

Getting back in 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 cat helps burn calories and build muscle.

 

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Stress in cats

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Stressed out

Just like us, stress can affect kittens and cats.  Here we take a look at some of the ways stress may be expressed by cats.  If your kitten is suddenly acting differently and you're concerned, it's always best to get advice from your vet, who may if necessary, suggest referral to an animal behaviourist.   

Stressed out

Just like us, stress can affect kittens and cats.

There are a number of ways stress may be expressed by cats.  If you're concerned about any sudden behaviour changes, it's always best to get advice from your vet, who may if necessary, suggest referral to an animal behaviourist.   

It’s worth noting that certain feline behaviours such as scratching and scent-marking, might be perfectly normal from your kitty's point of view, just not so acceptable from yours!

Here are some ways a stressed cat may act:

Anxious behaviour

If your cat crouches low to the ground, with a tense body and dilated pupils, they may be feeling anxious.  If so, they may also pant, and lick themselves more than usual.

Aggression

If your usually friendly cat starts to bite and scratch, they may be feeling bored or threatened.  If a cat’s hunting instincts aren't met through play, they'll start to look for it in other places.  A cat might also behave like this if they think their territory is under threat.

Hiding

Cats like some degree of ‘alone time’.  However, if your cat starts hiding from everyone in the house, and particularly if this is not usual behaviour for them, head to the vet.

Excessive meows

Some cats are ‘talkers’, but unusual episodes of increased vocalisation shouldn’t be ignored.

Off their food

If your cat suddenly seems disinterested in their food or stops eating altogether, it’s best to book a visit to the vet.

Indoor urine marking

Changes to a cat’s normal routine, or the introduction of a new cat in the home, can lead to urine marking behaviour. 

Avoid using ammonia and chlorine cleaners as these smell similar to cat urine and may actually encourage marking behaviour.  Clean the affected area with a 10% solution of biological washing powder, and spray it with an alcohol such as surgical spirit.  Offer your cat lots of love and reassurance.

Not using the litter tray

If your kitten is otherwise healthy, eliminating outside the litter tray could be a sign of stress.  It’s still important to rule out any underlying medical issues, so book a check-up with your vet.  

Cats don’t stop using their litter tray out of spite, so consider if you’ve made any changes such as using a new type of litter.  Also assess whether your litter tray cleaning schedule is up to scratch.  Provide one more litter tray than the number of cats in the household and ensure all cats have free access to litter trays.

Nervous grooming

Stressed cats may over-groom themselves by continually licking and scratching a particular area of their coat.  This can lead to hair loss and a skin infection, so head to your vet for advice.

Chewing wool

Obsessive wool chewing and sucking behaviours can occur, and amongst other causes, can be stress-related.  Items such as blankets, jumpers and carpets are commonly targeted, and this behaviour tends to be more often seen in Oriental breeds such as the Siamese and Burmese. 

Try to discourage your cat from doing this, and if possible remove or reduce access to the tempting material.  Redirect your cat through puzzle feeders and toys, and ensure your cat has scratching posts and other ways to stay entertained.

Cats don't all display the same signs when it comes to stress.  Always talk to your vet so that you can rule out any underlying health issues.  Then you can focus on ensuring that your home and routine helps your cat feel safe and reassured.

 

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Cat doors

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This is an image of a cat coming through a cat door.

Benefits

Cat doors, also known as cat flaps, provide a means for your cat to come and go between the indoors and outdoors.  A basic cat door is generally inexpensive and easy to install.  Learn about the various types of lockable cat doors that are available, as well as how to help your kitty get used to using one.

 

Benefits

Cat doors, also known as cat flaps, provide a means for your cat to come and go between the indoors and outdoors.  A basic cat door is generally inexpensive and easy to install.

Cat doors offer designs with a wide range of features, such as to be able to adjust the access available.  For example, you might only want the cat door open during the day and locked at night.  Or, you might want the cat door to only operate in one direction at a certain time. 

Types of lockable cat doors

• Simple locking cat door – you operate the lock yourself, choosing when to let your kitten in or out.  This type of cat door doesn't discriminate between who can use it.  That means the neighbour's cat might also pay your home a visit!

• Electro-magnetic cat door – activated automatically by a special magnet on your kitten’s collar.  This type of cat door does rely on your cat not losing their collar.  

• Micro-chip cat door – activated automatically by your kitten’s unique micro-chip.  This has the advantage of not relying on a special tag on your cat's collar as their microchip is under their skin. 

Early wariness

Some kittens can be a little suspicious of the cat door at first, and might need your help to gain confidence when using it.  The noise the door makes as it shuts can be scary, as can the feel of the door as it touches the cat’s back on the way through. 

Tips to help

• Fit the cat door at the right height for your kitten to step through – this is usually about 6cm above the bottom of the door

• Let your kitten have a good sniff and explore around the area

• To begin with, prop open the cat door slightly and tempt your kitten through it with treats and food

• Try gently lifting your kitten up towards the cat door to demonstrate what you expect them to do

With a little practice, and lots of positive reinforcement, your kitten will soon be using their cat door.  A whole new world of feline adventures await!

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Caring for your cat's claws

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This is an image of a cat sharpening their claws.

Claw care

Your kitten's sharp little claws are amazing.  They help them balance on smooth and slippery surfaces, and give them a good, strong grip when they’re climbing and holding onto things.  It’s important that your kitten’s claws stay in good condition.

Claw care

Your kitten's sharp little claws are amazing.  They help them balance on smooth and slippery surfaces, and give them a good, strong grip when they’re climbing and holding onto things.  

It’s important that your kitten’s claws stay in good condition.

Regular checks

Because your kitten’s claws are protected by special sheaths, they rarely get damaged.  However, it's a good idea to check them regularly to make sure they haven't grown too long.  Outdoor kittens usually keep their claws trim by scratching on trees or fences, but if your kitten lives indoors you may want to check their claws more frequently.

Scratching post

When it comes to caring for your cat’s claws, their scratching post will act as a nail file.  However, your cat is likely to need a nail clip when they get older.  To help get your cat used to that idea, start handling their paws early on so that they'll be more accepting of a trim when the time comes. 

Remember that a scratching post is a great outlet for your cat’s natural scratching behaviour, and it's better for your furniture as well!

Ask your vet

The first time you notice that your kitten’s claws have grown long, you might prefer to take them to the vet.  That way, you can watch how the expert does it, and decide whether you want to carry on trimming your cat’s claws yourself.

How to trim your cat’s claws

If you decide claw trimming is for you, it helps to be well organised.  Make sure you work in good light and find a comfortable place where your cat can be gently restrained.  Use a pet claw trimmer and trim each claw back a little at a time until you get close to the quick, the pink part where the blood supply is.  You can see where this is on white claws, but you’ll need to use your judgement on dark coloured claws.

Be sure to pair this exercise with food treats to ensure a positive association with claw trimming. 

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Grooming your kitten

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Grooming

If your kitten is a long-haired breed, grooming throughout life will be a must.  However, grooming is recommended for all kittens as it's a great way to build on your relationship.  This is because grooming mimics the social bonds between a mother cat and her babies.  It's best if you try to establish good grooming habits early on, and ensure grooming time is a positive one by using positive reinforcement through treats and praise.   

Grooming 

If your kitten is a long-haired breed, grooming throughout life will be a must.  However, grooming is recommended for all kittens as it's a great way to build on your relationship.  This is because grooming mimics the social bonds between a mother cat and her babies. 

It's best if you try to establish good grooming habits early on, and ensure grooming time is a positive one by using positive reinforcement through treats and praise.   

How to groom your kitten

Ideally you've been handling your kitten regularly, so they're comfortable with having their skin and coat touched.  But don't worry if your kitten seems a bit hesitant when you pull out the brush for the first time. 

Let your kitten become accustomed to a brush and comb by letting them have a play with them first.  Stroke your kitten very gently, so they get comfortable with being handled.

Progress to using a comb through the coat moving from head to tail, being particularly gentle around the head.  Check the condition of the coat and skin, and look for signs of fleas or other parasites.  Then brush the fur to remove any dead hair. 

Be sure to move only at a pace that your kitten can handle.  Slowly build up the amount of time you groom your kitten, so that the experience is a positive one for both of you.

Dealing with tangles

Medium to long haired cats can get tangles in their coat.  Gently tease out any tangled hair with your fingers and remove it before you groom your kitten properly.  If you stick to a regular grooming schedule, tangles shouldn’t happen too often. 

If your kitten has got in a bit of a mess, dip a clean cloth in warm water, squeeze it out, and use it to wipe them down.  Don't use soap as it can irritate a kitten’s sensitive skin.  

Wiping the eyes

If needed, you can give your kitten's eyes a very gentle clean by carefully using a cotton ball moistened with warm water.  Use a different swab for each eye.  If you notice any abnormalities or discharge, be sure to have a check-up with your veterinarian. 

With practice and positive reinforcement, grooming can be bonding time you share while you help keep your kitten looking their best.

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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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Importance of quality nutrition for kittens

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This is an image of a kitten playing.

Big changes

Kittenhood is an amazing time of change and development, both physically and mentally.  Fuelling the incredible changes that you see in your kitten is the nutrition you provide.  It can be argued that no other factor plays such a crucial role in the overall health and wellbeing of pets as a nutritionally balanced diet.  So choosing the right diet is vitally important. 

Big changes

Kittenhood is an amazing time of change and development, both physically and mentally.

Fuelling the incredible changes that you see in your kitten is the nutrition you provide.  It can be argued that no other factor plays such a crucial role in the overall health and wellbeing of pets as a nutritionally balanced diet.  So choosing the right diet is vitally important. 

How long should I feed kitten food for?

Cats are considered adult at around 12 months of age, and can then be transitioned to an adult cat formula.  Until then, keep your kitten on a complete and balanced growth formula, and ensure they maintain a healthy body condition.

How can ADVANCE™ support my kitten's health? 

ADVANCE™ has been formulated to support multiple pet health indicators.  This is achieved through high quality ingredients, potent actives as well as synergetic complexes of nutrients.

ADVANCE™ Kitten dry food contains:

• Colostrum to help protect the developing gut.

• Antioxidants which help prevent cellular damage and provide a natural defence for your pet against Australia’s harsh climatic conditions.

• Enhanced levels of zinc and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and shiny coat.

• Smart start – fish oil (natural source of DHA) and enhanced levels of Choline to help support brain development.

• Yucca extract to reduce litterbox odour.

Every ingredient in ADVANCE™ serves a precise purpose to deliver the superior nutrition your kitten needs. 

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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