How To: Switch Your Pet's Food

VSSF Admin - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When introducing new food to your pet’s diet it is important to make it a slow transition. Cats and dogs have fragile digestive patterns, and when this is disrupted, problems may arise.
These problems include:

  • Food refusal
  • Stomach upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Excess gas
  • Constipation

In order to avoid these symptoms, follow a strict schedule for five to seven days while making the transition.

  • Day 1: Old food 75%, New food 25%
  • Day 2: Old food 75%, New food 25%
  • Day 3: Old food 50%, New food 50%
  • Day 4: Old food 50%, New food 50%
  • Day 5: Old food 25%, New food 75%
  • Day 6: Old food 25%, New food 75%
  • Day 7: Old food --, New food 100%

If at any time during this transition your pet experiences loose stools or seems to be constipated switch the food at a slower rate. If your pet begins to vomit, call the veterinarian immediately. 

A helpful hint that tends to work for most pets also enhances the aroma of the new food. Place the new food in a microwave safe container and microwave for about 10 seconds, making sure it is not too hot before your pet digs in. 

Taking Care of Your Aging Dog

VSSF Admin - Saturday, August 20, 2011

Although you do not have the power to regulate your dog’s genetic makeup, you can still attempt to control some of the environmental factors that could increase their longevity. Through reading and following the pointers listed below, you may be able to increase the number of years you are able to spend with your dog.

Diet and Exercise

When you supply your dog with a controlled, balanced diet you can delay the attack of major diseases. In addition to feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet, you need to make sure that they are active. As a pet owner, you must encourage your dog to exercise daily in order to improve circulation, metabolic efficiency, maintain muscle tone, and improve waste elimination. Exercise is especially important for older dogs and you should encourage this about 2-3 times per day.  

Veterinary Trips

Setting up regular appointments with your veterinarian can also assist in lengthening the lifespan of your dog. Also, when your puppy visits your veterinarian for the first time, they can set you up with two very important components connected to your dog’s health; the appropriate vaccination program for common infectious diseases, as well as an acceptable dental care plan.


The amount of stress that your dog has can affect their longevity. Some sources that cause stress for our dogs include: trauma, physical restraint, confinement, change of routine, noise, boredom/lack of motivation, separation, and unwanted interactions (over-aggressive people/other animals). If you are unsure if your dog is stressed, the following are a few signs that they could be:

  • Whining
  • Yawning
  • Hiding
  • Drooling
  • Lip licking
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Aggression (biting, growling, or snarling)
  • Lack of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Other unusual behaviors

Dogs are similar to humans when it comes to stress because although it may not cause any long-term issues, it is important to address any issues that may arise as soon as possible.  You should also try to minimize any possible causes of stress for your dog…and yourself!

Caring for Mother Cats and Their Kittens

VSSF Admin - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You may think that helping your mother cat care for her kittens after her pregnancy is useful, but in reality it is only necessary in certain situations. A majority of the time, if your mother cat sticks around, you will have minimal duties as an owner. Some of the following instances do require your helping hand:

Lack of Milk

If your kittens begin to cry, stop nursing, and/or stop moving about, chances are they are experiencing a lack of milk from their mother. When kittens are hungry their bellies tend to sink in and are not fully rounded. If you notice your kittens behaving this way, the first thing you should do is check and make sure the mother’s breasts are producing milk. You can check this by lightly squeezing the mother’s breast.

Respiratory Failure

This is one of the most common causes of death among kittens and is linked to low birth weights and immature physiology. Due to the fact that kittens are so small, infections are common as a result of an immune system that has not fully developed.  This can be easily avoided as long as the mother is healthy and raises her kittens in a clean, warm environment.


In order to ensure a healthy and successful weaning process for kittens, you must have patience. Begin the process by feeding your kitten a freshly made weaning mush 2-4 times a day. One way you can prepare this mush is by blending equal amounts of kitten growth food and water, occasionally kittens will refuse to eat this. If that is the case, try blending it with warm water, and for 1-2 days increase the proportion of water you’re feeding the kittens.

Then, begin feeding them 1 meal per day and gradually increase the number of meals up to 4 over a 3-4 week period.

Do not feed your kitten or cat baby food, pablum, milk, or other similar products. Feeding kittens milk is only acceptable if they refuse to eat the weaning mush.  However, it should not be regular milk, but instead a milk replacer formula. Weaning is a very important process that occurs at the most critical stage of your kitten’s life.

Life without Mom

At the age of 4-6 weeks (no later than 6 weeks), your kitten must be vaccinated, checked for parasites and have a general health checkup. As long as you follow your veterinarian’s program for vaccinations, you have a better chance of avoiding feline panleukopenia (“distemper”), which is the highest cause of mortality at this age.

When a kitten is about 8-10 weeks old, their mother begins to encourage distance between the two of them. Then, once the kitten has reached the age of 3-4 months, their mother has very little to do with them.

Hyperthyroid = Super Skinny Cat

VSSF Admin - Saturday, August 13, 2011

While watching your cat eat you begin to wonder why she cannot seem to gain any weight. She is skin and bones, but eats constantly. This could be a clear indication that your cat has hyperthyroidism. This is the abnormal secretion of excess thyroid hormone, which strongly affects the metabolic function of a cat. There are a few options to consider when treating this condition.


Medical: The medical option requires methimazole administration two or three times per day for the duration of your cat’s life. This can be a pill, a cream spread in the cat’s ear, or oil placed in the cat’s food.

Surgery: During surgery one or both lobes of the thyroid gland would be removed. Cons to this option include anesthesia and a chance of reoccurrence.

Radioiodine:  This is a form of iodine, which has been made radioactive. When injected into the body, radioiodine accumulates in the thyroid gland, while the unused radioiodine is excreted. The radiation is capable of eliminating the abnormal cells while sparing the normal cells. This treatment allows the cat to quickly return to a normal health without assistance from medication.  

Hyperthyroidism must be treated; fatal results can follow if this condition goes without treatment. If ignored heart failure and an untimely death can occur.

Perks of Being a Pet Owner

VSSF Admin - Monday, August 08, 2011

Deciding whether or not a new puppy or kitten should be welcomed into your home can be a difficult task. Not only are new pets a lot of extra work, it can be similar to caring for a child at times. Time must be set aside from a day to care for the new addition, and leaving the house can be a hassle. When booking a flight, reserving a spot in a kennel may be necessary.  When shopping for groceries, picking up dog or cat food will also be on the list. House training and obedience school will need to be attended to and sometimes a mess will have to be scrubbed away.

It is a lot of work, and a new pet can be time consuming, however there is a long list of perks associated with being a pet owner.  Often times these perks will outweigh the responsibilities that come with owning that new fluffy friend

One: Studies have shown that people with pets live longer, have less stress, and fewer health problems. (Source: American Pet Product Manufacturers Association)

Two: 94% of pet owners say their animal pal makes them smile more than once a day. (Source: i-pets.com)

Three: Pets can decrease a person’s blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. (CDC)

Four: Pets can increase a person’s exercise levels and socialization. (CDC)

Five: When children own pets, it has been suggested that exposure to pets should facilitate the establishment and maintenance of relationships with peers, especially in grade and high school. (National Institutes of Health)

So remember: when considering bringing a new pet into your life, don’t discount the responsibilities that come along with it, but also keep in mind the positive impact a new furry companion may have on your overall well-being!

Awesome Dog Tricks

VSSF Admin - Thursday, August 04, 2011

Have you ever watched a movie with a movie star dog? Did you catch yourself thinking, “Wow, their dog can jump through loops of fire, and I can’t even get my dog to sit”? These dogs made it to Hollywood through months of rigorous training and patient trainers. Key is to stay positive and consistent.

 Bark Machine

Yes, there’s an App for dog tricks. You are not limited to an expensive dog trainer. If you are more of a visual person like most of us, this App will guide you and your pet onto a path of success. Dog Trick & Bark Machine’s instructions were supervised by certified dog trainers, according to the App’s creator. The dog tricks part of this App includes games and tips on how to correct behavioral problems and commands. A neat tool included is a high-frequency whistle that only dogs can hear, great for when waving hands frantically and calling out isn’t working out.

101 dog tricks

Check out this full list of tricks listed by difficulty. Challenge your dog and see how many tricks you can mark off and start setting goals. Aim high and teach your dog how to clean the house like Jesse the talented Jack Russell Terrier. These tricks performed by Jesse were made possible through positive reinforcement. Start with small tasks and work your way up. Have a tasty treat ready for your dog once they have accomplished their trick. This will keep up the great work and keep your doggie’s belly jolly.


If you look close enough you’ll find that your dog is communicating with you through body language.  Next time you take your dog on a walk, take a closer look at their behavior. By being in sync with your pet you’ll find training much easier. If you see that your dog’s ears are back he’s indicating submission. You can also tell a lot by a dog’s tail wag. If your dog’s tail is usually wagging towards the right, this is a great sign! It mean’s positivity. On the contrast left wagging behavior, may be a negative indication. Your dog may be in need of a walk or attention.

One of the reasons why dogs are man’s best friend it may be attributed to the fact that we are similar to our furry best friends. Dogs communicate through their barks, they may even communicate more often than humans.

Hungarian researches recently tested 6,000 different barks from 14 Hungarian sheepdogs using special software. Their study showed that the computer program correctly identified what the dog was trying to communicate 43 percent of the time, compared with 40 percent for humans.

It all starts with a foundation. So be consistent, be deliberate; be sure about all your directions and command. Mistakes are a part of learning, and most of the two-leggers are to blame. Play loads with your dog and your bond will grow stronger and so will your relationship. Most importantly, keep it fun!

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