Pet Supplies

Bark Control Alternatives
Bark Control Collars
Vaccinating Cats at Home
Cat Spraying vs. Urination
Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears
Treats for Overweight Cats
Why Can’t I Use My Dog’s Flea Control on My Cat?
Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Tip #69: Bark Control Alternatives

Doberman growls

Many people use bark control collars as part of their training plan to prevent chronic barking. Some pet owners are uncomfortable with the idea of a collar that administers an electric shock to their dog, regardless of how mild the negative reinforcement may actually be.

Fortunately, there are pet supplies available with a "non-electric" option. The PetSafe Spray Control bark collar is one example; when the sensor detects barking, the collar delivers a spray of citrus scent as the correction. No electric shock or pain compliance is used with these collars, but they deliver similar results. Another alternative in bark control dog supplies is the sound-correction unit. This is an ultrasound emitter that may be heard by humans in a limited way, but is definitely irritating to a dog's ears. An audio sensor activates the shutoff function once barking stops. These two dog supplies are excellent ways to supplement your training plan without using a "shock collar" or electricity-based bark control device.


Tip #70: Bark Control Collars

Dog

Bark control collars administer a vibration, mild electric shock, or other negative reinforcement when the collar's sensor detects barking. Shock collars should only be used when nothing else works. If you must use a shock collar, choose one that automatically increases the electric shock if the pet continues to bark. Most dogs learn very quickly that their bark sets off the collar. After your pet learns that wearing the collar means no barking, you can often put the collar on without the battery to control barking. 

The bark collar is one of the most popular dog supplies for people living in apartments or neighborhood with noise restrictions, but it’s easy to overlook the underlying causes of excessive barking. If your neighbors complain about barking, chances are the dog is vocalizing boredom or separation anxiety because he is lonely. Chewing is also a sign of boredom or separation anxiety, and if your furniture is suffering along with your neighbors, you definitely have a training issue to contend with.

Purchasing a bark control product may temporarily relieve the barking, but it won't cure the underlying problem. Dogs need exercise, play, and a proper training program. Some dogs are able to adjust to being left home alone for the duration of a work day after training, but it's unfair to your dog to expect results without structure or planning. Pet experts like Doctors Foster and Smith say boredom barking can become a habit, but with the right praise, rewards, and encouragement you can retrain a dog to stop chronic barking. Bark collars should be viewed as pet supplies that supplement the training program rather than the training itself.


Tip #71: Vaccinating Cats at Home

Cat receives vaccination

These days, vendors who sell cat supplies include home vaccination kits and cat vaccines. Vaccinations should only be administered to a healthy cat. A physical examination performed at the time of vaccination is a very important component of good health maintenance of your pet.  While the technique of vaccinating is relatively simple, most pet owners are squeamish or do not want to inflict pain on their cat. Vaccines are fragile and must be shipped and kept in a controlled environment to assure efficacy. The vaccine will not work if it is subjected to temperature extremes during shipment. Frequency of vaccination and record keeping is also an issue for some people. Finally, many boarding facilities will not accept owner-vaccinated pets for boarding. For these reasons, most veterinarians do not recommend home vaccination of pets.  Some Web sites, including DrsFosterSmith.com, promote home vaccinations as a way to protect your cat while reducing the stress and anxiety of a visit to the veterinarian.

There are three basic types of cat vaccine delivery methods: intranasal, intramuscular and subcutaneous. The vaccination method is often dictated by the type of vaccine, so be sure to read all instructions or consult with your veterinarian on the best way to proceed. It’s important to buy fresh cat vaccine and use it as directed. Don’t let your medicine grow old, as your cat vaccine has a limited shelf life. Medical supplies like needles and syringes should never be used more than once, the same as with human vaccinations. Always have a treat ready for your cat for after the vaccination, and expect a moody kitty for a short time after the vaccination until the soreness goes away.


Tip #72: Cat Spraying vs. Urination

Gray cat

Cats spray to mark their territory, and it's easy to mistake this behavior for outside-the-litter-box urination. Spraying can happen when your cat is under stress, competing with another cat in the household, or if he sees other cats in the neighborhood through a window. Pet experts Doctors Foster and Smith (DrsFosterSmith.com) say you should restrict a cat's view to the outside if this creates territorial spraying, but you may need to purchase some cat supplies to help control other symptoms. If you are redecorating, moving, or causing other disruptions in a cat's routine, you can prevent anxiety-related spraying with Feliway Spray, which contains a pheromone-like substance which can help calm a stressed-out cat.

There is also the Comfort Zone Plug-In which contains Feliway, and works like any other odor control plug-in product. Feline medicine experts say it's important to distinguish between spraying and the symptoms of feline urinary tract infections. If you notice large carpet stains or puddles, contact your veterinarian right away.


Tip #73: Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Veterinarian examines dog

A dog's ears are prone to bacteria because of the warm and wet environment in the ear canal. Your dog’s ears can also be a fertile breeding ground for yeast and sometimes even parasites. Dog ear care isn’t a fun time for your pet, but with some additional training and rewards you can make it a more hassle-free experience. Never fail to reward your dog for sitting patiently through an ear cleaning. That positive reinforcement will go a long way towards good behavior. Avoid injury or additional discomfort for your pet by using only dog supplies made specifically for ear cleaning, and never insert any object into the ear canal. Experts recommend weekly dog ear care, starting from an early age.


Tip #74: Treats for Overweight Cats

Cat

Overweight cats have two basic kinds of reducing diets: one that simply uses a smaller portion of normal food and another type that is a low calorie, high fiber dietary food. Cats with medical problems are often placed in the special diet category and require special cat supplies, while cats that are healthy and only slightly overweight may benefit from portion controls of ordinary food. A special part of living with your cat is treat time, but most treats are high in fat. If you must give your cat treats, purchase healthy alternative treats which are low in calories and fat.

Doctors Foster and Smith recommend a “no guilt” cat treat called Puffs ‘n Purrs, which are made from natural fish, wheat and corn. These kinds of treats may be diet-friendly, but those with multiple cats may find the treats are popular with all the cats, especially those made from actual fish and without artificial flavorings. You may be able to switch exclusively to cat treats with lower fat and calorie counts and avoid the diet issue completely in the future.


Tip #75: Why Can’t I Use My Dog’s Flea Control on My Cat?

Puppy and kitten

Experienced pet owners know cat flea treatments are much different than dog flea treatment. Dog flea treatments are made especially for the dog’s stronger metabolism. Cats are much more sensitive than dogs and should never be given dog products labeled “dogs only.” For maximum safety, you should only use products that are labeled for cats. Products should say they are safe for cats on the label.

The Web site DrsFosterSmith.com warns pet owners to keep cats away from dogs recently treated for fleas to avoid contamination problems from dog flea control products. You should also avoid combining cat flea treatments unless you have a veterinarian’s permission or you’ve consulted a compatibility chart. As a rule of thumb, never use two topical flea treatments together. In the past, two flea and tick products were needed to kill adult pests and larvae, but with increasingly sophisticated types of cat flea control, two products are no longer needed. Experts generally advise people to use only one treatment at a time.


Tip #76: Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Cat sits outside

Opinions vary on why cats eat grass. Some believe cats need grass for the fiber, and some think grass helps clean out hairballs from a cat’s stomach. Either way, eating grass is a natural part of cat behavior. Pet owners are right to worry about their cats eating grass in areas where bug sprays, fertilizers, or other substances could be used. Some of these products are toxic to cats.

Did you know there are cat supplies made to offer your cat a safe, pesticide-free way to eat grass? One product is simply called Cat Grass, which is grown inside your home and is safe for both cats and kittens. These products are inexpensive and often come with replanting kits to keep a regular supply of grass available. Using cat supplies like Cat Grass satisfies your cat’s urge to eat greens but in a controlled environment. It may take some trial and error to find a container or a place to keep the grass that is tempting and accessible to your cat, but once she’s used to eating grass indoors, the habit should stick.


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