Friday, July 31, 2015

Feline dementia or feline arthritis? Sometimes, it's hard to tell

Eamon the cat waiting for his vet appointment in his cat carrier
Senior cats and foreign cars have a lot in common. They're both finicky, prone to difficulties and expensive to fix. And yet, they're both intensely lovable (at least to me).

Today, I had to take my foreign car... er, senior cat to the veterinarian for an annual workup, and I got some pretty surprising news.

Eamon has been dealing with arthritis for about 5 years now. He takes supplements every morning, and has a muscle injection two times per week. Every day, he also takes the medication gapapentin for pain. That means I spend a lot of time, every day, trying to keep his pain under control. It's a top-of-mind issue for me, mainly because there are so many details to stay on top of.

And, of course, anytime he has any kind of strange and new behavior, I blame that on the pain. Recently, he's started throwing out a ton of these new behaviors. So off to the vet we went, and mentioned Eamon's:
  • Sedation. He's been sleeping for the majority of the day, and he's been sleeping in the middle of the room. That means he's often interfering with the flow of traffic, and he doesn't seem to move when people walk by. My interpretation: Sedation from the drugs. 
  • Aggression. I've been bitten by Eamon twice. Neither bite broke the skin, but both the nibbles were pretty hard and they came during petting sessions. He's never done anything like this before. My interpretation: Pain from arthritis. 
  • Short temper. Eamon often initiates play sessions with the other pets. But when they play, he seems to tire of them really quickly, and the play suddenly becomes a fight. My interpretation: Pain from arthritis. 
  • Forgetfulness. Several times throughout the day, Eamon seems to hear an internal breakfast bell. If I walk through the kitchen, he runs to his breakfast spot, even if he's just finished eating. My interpretation: Side effect of medications.
  • Vocalization. Eamon has always liked to sing for his supper. But lately, his cries have been ever more piercing. And he's been starting them earlier and earlier in the day. My interpretation: ??? (if I'm being honest).
All of my interpretations might very well have merit. But there might be something else going on, too. Turns out, Eamon might have a bit of feline dementia.

At 14 years old, Eamon is right in the pocket for dementia onset, and every single one of the signs I'm seeing could be caused by a decaying mind. The kicker? A true hallmark of dementia is increased hollering in the midnight hour. That's something we've struggled with in the past, but it's not constant. I didn't even think of it until the veterinarian mentioned the issue.

Eamon the brown tabby and Troy the black cat resting together
At the moment, there are no good options for feline dementia treatment. Dogs, apparently, have a good therapeutic options. But no such luck for cats.

And this is just a tiny sliver of all of the problems impacting Eamon right now. He also seems to have a mass in his mouth (tumor?) that's growing. It's not painful, but it's awfully firm. That smacks of the big C. And, he's lost about a pound of weight within the last year, even though he's been eating the same amount of food this entire time.

This poor guy is dealing with a lot of difficulties, all at once. So his behavior changes might also be due to cancer, a metabolic problem or something else altogether.

So we're talking quality of life. I really HATE that discussion.

In the interim, we're backing off his gabapentin dose and adding in a different pain medication that isn't sedating. We'll monitor and see if some of the sleepies and grouchies and weirdness goes away, and if he isn't painful and limping as a result.

And if that doesn't work?

I don't want to talk about it.

But, I do want to hear from you if your cat has dementia. What sorts of things have you tried to make quality of life better? What worked? Share with me in the comments, won't you?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Real #JusticeForCecil comes through laws, not bullying

Pug with sign that says #JusticeforCecil

As soon as I heard that the alleged shooter of the majestic lion named Cecil was an American and a small business owner, I knew there was gonna be trouble. If you follow me on any of my media channels, you know that I deal in the reputation management space from time to time. And these things always play out in a predictable manner.

It goes like this:
  1. An individual does something abysmal. 
  2. That person doesn't apologize properly (or can't, because the incident in question is so truly horrible).
  3. The online community rallies to get justice. 
This dentist is deep in step 3. I've seen his SSN, his address, his phone number and the names of his children all over the web. I've seen his Yelp page peppered with bad reviews. And apparently, this man's business is shuttered, and the parking lot is filled with protestors. Death threats are all over the web, too.

Some might say: "Good! He deserves it!"

But is that really justice for Cecil?

I don't think so.

Here's the thing: The way things stand now, the issue hinges on paperwork. It's legal to bait a lion with a carcass, lure it out of a preserved park, blind it with a bright light, shoot it with an arrow and follow it for days until it dies. That shit is LEGAL....

.... as long as the hunters have the proper paperwork.

So this guy is facing, at best, a paperwork issue. Did he have the permits? Did he know he didn't have the permits? Was the hunt authorized? Was Cecil "approved" to be killed?

The pro-game hunters are discussing paperwork and logistics. That means the next guy could easily say: "Great! I have everything in order. Bring me a rhino!" (And yes, they're killing those, too, even though there are only 4 of them left on this entire planet.)

As long as we activists are discussing rights and emotions and feelings and the trophy, big-game hunters are discussing paperwork and permits, we will have a problem.

As long as we attack the hunter without the permit, we allow big-game trophy hunters with permits to kill endangered and/or protected animals.

Black cat with sign reading #JusticeforCecil

Don't be distracted. If you want REAL justice, use this as a springboard for real change. 

Follow this link and donate to programs that help to protect big cats in the wild. Any tiny bit of money you can donate will help. Follow this group to learn more about the plight of wild lions.

And, contact your elected officials. If lions and others like them can be considered protected species, killer dentists can be prosecuted for bringing their dead carcasses home as trophies. Don't know who your officials are? Go here.

Now, I know I can't stop the death threats and reputation attacks. People are mad, and they need to vent that anger. I understand.

But please. As Jimmy Kimmel so eloquently pointed out, we need to ensure that something comes of the death of Cecil. It needs to be more than a flash in the pan and an attack on an individual. It needs to be a sweeping, global movement.

Only then will we truly have #JusticeforCecil.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Liam and his very long pug tongue

Pug licking his lips with a long pug tongue
Liam celebrated his 8th birthday over the weekend (!), and I surprised him with some frozen yogurt. He got a little bit of treat on his lower lip, and try as he might, he couldn't quite get it off...
Dog licking his upper lip with yogurt on his lower lip
"Is it up here?"
Pug with pink tongue covering his nose
"Maybe it's over here."
Pug looking up with yogurt on his chin
"I got it all, right?"
Silly goose. Leave him a birthday wish, won't you? We always read the comments.

And remember to visit the other blogs in this hop. You'll like them!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Want a Boston terrier? Get ready to play and play and play!

Boston terrier sitting on the couch with her toy
Last week, I saw Boston terriers included in a listicle about dog breeds that love to cuddle. (Yup, I'm a sucker for dog click bait). Anyway, this article included a bunch of information about how much Bostons like to sit with their people during the day, and how much they like to sleep with those owners at night.

All of that might very well be true, but people who hope to get a 100 percent Boston snuggle buddy might be disappointed.


Because these guys love to play.

At least once per day, I'll look down and see something like this.

Boston terrier watching for toy on couch

Sinead put this toy on the couch next to my foot, and she's waiting patiently for me to pick up that toy and throw it. And see all of those little toys in the distance? If I don't take the bait with this bigger toy, she'll start adding those smaller toys to the pile.

She's perfectly capable of snuggling, but she'd much rather be doing something active. She likes to fetch, to run and to tug. If she had her choice, she'd do those active things well before she'd settle down for loving.

Once you start digging into the history of Boston terriers, this makes a whole lot of sense.

This is a dog breed that stems from working breeds, like the English terrier and the bulldog. These are independent creatures that are happiest when they have something to do or a task to complete. And they're also stubborn breeds that have minds of their own. They could do what you want, but they have their own opinions, too.

Boston terrier wants to fetch the large dog toy

It's rare for me to make Sinead wait for a toy throw. If she brings it, I try to toss it. I'm prepared for that, because I know what Bostons are like. In a way, it's what I signed up for when I brought home a dog from this particular breed.

But the next time someone asks me about how snuggly Bostons are, I might show them this little series of photos. Might change their minds!

Thanks for stopping by! Oh, and have you signed up for my Weruva cat food sweepstakes? See the details here. Love to have you enter!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Need a pick-me-up? Try 8 photos of happiness!

Small Boston terrier puppy napping on the floor in sunshine
Last week, my friends at The Daily Pip nominated me for an awesome new challenge called "8 photos of happiness." It's a brand-new tag, started by Ariel's Little Corner of the Internet, designed to allow bloggers to pop up 8 examples of photos that are truly smile-worthy.

Sinead sleeping in the sunshine, shown up top, is an easy addition. After all, who doesn't love Boston terrier puppies, right? But I have a few surprises planned for this post, too, so you'll want to keep reading.

Here goes!
Boston terrier with open mouth after surgery
This is Seamus. He was my very first dog, my very first Boston terrier, and the subject of my very first blog entry (you can read that here). He looks a little unusual because he endured a nasty mouth cancer and a disfiguring surgery. But I love this photo because of his expression. This guy was very loving, and that really comes through in this photo. It never fails to make me smile.

Pug and blind cat in a dog bed, sharing a tennis ball
Speaking of surgeries, here's what little Lucy looked like before her eye operation. I'll admit that I miss her pretty lashes and deep-black lids. She looked so exotic! But I don't miss the constant cleanup her weeping eye sockets needed (and she really didn't like to be handled, either). Liam and Lucy had a very close relationship when she was a kitten, and that really shows in this photo.

Pug and two humans on a bench
Here's Liam, hubby and me. Why are we so happy, you ask? Because this shot was taken on our honeymoon. We, of course, took Liam with us, and someone was nice enough to snap this new family photo for us. Pretty great, right?

Black cat on her back
This pretty cat isn't one of mine. She's a shelter cat. Every week, I volunteer at Willamette Humane Society, and I snap shots and write up notes about the cats looking for homes. This is my favorite shot of any cat I've taken during the year or so that I've been volunteering. This senior girl, Vita, just couldn't understand why I wouldn't pet her belly and she got more and more creative with her requests. This photo captures her perfectly.

Black cat on his side taking a nap
After a year of volunteering, I finally fell in love with one cat. This is Troy. (And he's the subject of the picky cat food challenge sweepstakes. Have you entered for a chance at free food? Do it now!) I snapped this photo just 30 minutes after bringing him home. He was so exhausted from months of trying to get adopted at the shelter. Rescuing him, and seeing him relax, might end up being one of the high points of this year.

Large bouquet of red and white roses in an urban gardener's hands
Most of my happy photos have to do with pets. But I do have other interests, too (it's true!). Roses are a particular passion, and one of my plants has really taken off this year. Here I am holding just a few of the flowers I pulled from that rose on a sunny day.

Brown tabby cat and black kitten playing
And finally, here are Eamon and Maggie caught mid-wrestle. I think Maggie was about 4 months old here, and she had a lot of energy. Eamon is a wrestling machine, and he was more than happy to help her work out some of her playful side. Eamon's arthritis (more on that here) keeps him from playing like this anymore. But I'm glad to have this shot as evidence of him in healthier days.

That's it! And as part of the challenge, I need to tap a few other bloggers to participate. I choose:
If any of you have already done this challenge (or you plan to), then ignore the tap. But if you can, let's keep this thing going! It seems pretty fun. See the rules here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The picky cat food challenge results (and a cat food sweepstakes!)

Black cat eating canned cat food
A few weeks ago, the nice folks at Weruva sent me a big box of food to try on picky eater cat, Troy. I wrote up a quick blog post about that here, and at the time, I mentioned that I was going to put Troy through a food challenge, so I could keep track of what he would and would not eat.

The results of the #WhatWillTroyEat challenge are in, and I'm thrilled to share the results with you. And, keep reading, because I have a sweepstakes you can enter in order to win some BFF goodies of your own.

Update: And we have a winner! Kim Berg is the lucky duck that gets the Weruva package. But be sure to keep reading; you might want some of your own!

The picky cat challenge basics

I kept a tally of all of the foods in my goodie box, and I kept track of what Troy would and would not eat during a time period of about a week or so, when I was here to supervise and/or coax him to nosh.

Turns out, Troy has very definite preferences about what he will and will not put into that little maw of his. Check out my notes. (Update: I typed these up, so they'd be easier to read.)

Chart of cat food options and cat foods the cat liked

In case that's a little hard to see (particularly for you mobile readers out there!), the food tended to fall into one of two camps. Either he loved everything and ate everything, or he wouldn't touch the food at all. Only one thing falls in the middle. The rest he either loved or hated.

And most of the things he loved had a common ingredient: Tuna.

Picky cat challenge redux!

So to test this guy's palette, so to speak, I picked up all of the foods he liked, and I tried them again in a head-to-head challenge. And here, there was a clear winner.
Black cat and nearly empty bowl of cat food
The BFF that comes in a packet (like this: Best Feline Friend (BFF) Tuna and Chicken Charm Me, Pack of 12 (3oz pouches) is a huge hit for Troy. Every time he got near that packet of stuff, even if it was just a tablespoon of food put on as a topper, he ate the whole bowl.

It's great to know that I have a secret weapon I can use to get this guy to eat.

The picky cat sweepstakes!

Do you want to try it for yourself? I thought so.

I'm holding a sweepstakes with the Wervua team to help introduce you to this BFF food with your own cats. Let's get some official rules out of the way, shall we?
  • The contest runs between 12 AM Eastern on 7/24/2015 and it ends at 12 AM Eastern on 8/7/2015.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • To enter, leave a comment on this blog entry with the name of your cats (so I can prove you're not a robot). When you've done that, check off your work on the widget in this blog. No other entry formats allowed. 
  • The number of eligible entries received will determine your odds of winning.
  • The winner will be chosen at random from the eligible entries. 
  • The name of the winner will be posted on this blog, and I'll try to contact you through your comments, too. 
  • The winner will have 1 week to claim the prize, and if it's not claimed, a new winner will be chosen at random.
  • The prize will be sent to the winner by Weruva, so you'll need to provide a valid mailing address.
  • Open to residents of the United States, older than age 18.
  • Void where prohibited by law. 

So here's the spot in which to enter. Good luck, and remember to comment!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A few disclosures

Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I was sent samples to try as compensation for this blog post. I wasn't paid for my time, nor was I provided with specific words to use in my review. All of the opinions expressed here are my own (and they weren't purchased!).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pet probiotics: What they are, and why your dogs and cats might need them

Pug and brown cat sitting close together
Liam and Eamon share a deep-set love of food they find on the floor, and that means this pug and this cat often have digestive troubles. And I have a secret weapon: Probiotics. A bit of powder sprinkled on a meal can help get their digestive systems back on track. But recently, I've discovered that these products can do just a little more. And that research is pretty amazing, and more than a little creepy.

Let me explain.

How veterinarians use probiotics for cats and dogs

I was first introduced to probiotics a few months ago, when Troy had a persistent case of diarrhea. He was a little stressed about transitioning to this multi-pet home, and he was going through a diet change. Then, he had a course of antibiotics for a dental, and his system just went haywire.

My veterinarian recommended probiotics.

These products are made up of either live or semi-live microbes that can survive the hostile environment of the digestive system. A healthy gut has hundreds of thousands of these things, of all different shapes and sizes, and they help with the digestive process. But stress and antibiotics can wipe out these healthy colonies, and that can cause diarrhea.

In humans, researchers suggest that a course of probiotics can shorten an episode of digestive distress by about a day. And, probiotics can assist in cases of severe diarrhea that just doesn't resolve with conventional methods. When teams apply critters, great things happen.

I'm not sure they're a magic bullet for diarrhea in pets, but I will say that I've used a course to amend garbage gut in both Eamon and Liam, and I've seen great results. Troy is back on the stuff again now, too, as he seems to be dealing with some food woes. It worked for him the first time as well.

Unusual uses for probiotics in dogs and cats

Here's where things get weird. During my "real job" work as a medical SEO, I stumbled across some research that suggests probiotics could amend the way that humans think and behave. And that's made me wonder if these supplements could do even more to assist the pets we love.
Black cat lying in front of computer
Troy likes to help me with my research.
Quite a few human studies (including this one, this one and this one) suggest that probiotics can shift emotional control. Basically, a dose of probiotics seems to amend brain chemistry in some way, allowing for better focus, fewer emotional outbursts and better overall mental health.

It's fascinating stuff, and it seems to suggest that there's a tighter link between the health of the gut and the working of the brain. Maybe a distressed gut sends signals to the brain that we're just not aware of, and those signals make us cranky, depressed and unfocused. By altering the gut, we could stop those signals and just feel better.

For those of us with sometimes cranky pets (hello, Eamon!), this is pretty heady stuff. If a probiotic could help him to feel a little better in his gut, maybe he'd behave with a little more consistency and kindness.

And there's more!

Research from 2014 suggests that gut bacteria can actually prompt human food cravings. The bacterial types we have can call out for all sorts of nasty food, including sugary sweets and salty snacks. By altering the composition of the gut, we could end up shifting the way we eat.

If this same theory holds true for cats, we might be able to alter picky cat syndrome (hello, Troy!) with probiotics, too!

Harnessing probiotic power

There's a lot more research to be done on probiotics. For example, researchers don't yet know what types of supplements humans should use and how the should use them. They haven't even touched those topics with dogs and cats. That means no one out there should leap to daily use without talking with a trusted veterinary medical professional. It's sort of uncharted territory, at the moment.

But as for me, I'm keeping this stuff in the refrigerator for periodic use. Upset tummies, be gone! Cranky kitties, no more!

This is the product I use: NATURVET 978045 Enzymes and Probiotics for Pets. But there are many out there to try. Just remember: Talk to your veterinarian first!

Anyone out there using a product like this? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: This couch belongs to the cranky senior cat

Cat stretched out on top of the couch
Eamon is a firm believer that this particular couch is his couch. Check out the looks of disgust he throws out there when we deign to try to sit down.
Brown cat resting on the back of a red couch
"You're not really thinking about sitting there, are you?"
Brown cat with eyes closed on red couch
"But, look how much room I need in order to sleep properly!"
Brown cat pretending to sleep on red couch
"Fine. I'll just cover my eyes and pretend you're not here."
Thanks for stopping by! And leave me a comment, won't you?

And, do visit some of the other blogs in this hop. They'd love to see you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July 2015 BarkBox review: It's time for the dog circus!

Small dog and large dog toy shaped like bearded lady
Every month, when our BarkBox comes, I write up a little review about the dog treats and dog toys we got. I'm not compensated for these reviews in any way. But I like these products so much that I feel compelled to tell you about them.

This month is no exception.

Last week, our July 2015 BarkBox came, and apparently, it's circus month! Typically, I don't like to support anything having to do with the circus (animal cruelty doesn't equal family fun, at least to me), but there's a lot of funny stuff in this dog box.

First up, this hilarious bearded lady Sinead is playing with up top. It's made by one of my favorite BarkBox vendors, BarkMade, and it's really just funny. The heart-shaped lips, big hands and super-fuzzy beard make me happy. And this toy comes with a unique noise-maker. Rather than simply squeaking, it sort of chuckles when you move the toy up and down. Sinead has been carrying this toy around since we got it, which is awesome.

We had three sets of treats in our shipment, and there's only one I've tapped into at the moment. That particular treat is made by Emerald Pet, and it's a treat made of pig parts, all baked and smashed together into a rope-looking thing. Both dogs were pretty darn excited about that treat, and it made for a nice afternoon snack.

The other treats, from Lucky Dog and My Doggy, are packed away in the cupboard for now. We're still working on our Salmon Paws Salmon Jerky Treats (see the review here), so we have no space for new gobbles at the moment!

Smiling pug with new blue dog toy
Speaking of gobbles, check out Liam's big smile. He fell in love with this new dog toy from Zigoo. It's open on both ends, so I could (in theory) pack it full of treats like carrots or peanut butter. But, Liam seems to like this toy just fine even when it has nothing in it at all. It bounces like crazy when you throw it, and it stands up to deep chewing from his tight pug teeth. He's even abandoned his prior favorite pig toy for this thing. Actually, you can see that pig staring forlornly in the background, now that I am looking closely at this photograph....

If you'd like to see reviews of previous BarkBox offerings, click here or here or here.

And, if you'd like your very own monthly supply of awesome, click here.

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 20, 2015

An open letter to my rescue cat's first family (thank you!)

Black cat in a bright patch of sunshine
Let's face it: A lot of the things we see on social media sites are pretty darn depressing. There's one type of post in particular that gets me to weeping every single time. I call this the "open letter to a jerk" post. Here, people write up notes about the pets they've rescued and how wonderful they are, while deriding the original owner for abandoning the pet. (Here's just one example.)

Today, I want to do something different.

This is an open letter to the family that once had my rescue cat, Troy. But I don't want to berate them. I want to thank them. So here goes.

Hello, family!

I want you to know that Troy (or whatever his name was when you had him) is safe, happy and loved in a brand-new home. And I want to thank you for doing a lot of things right with this old guy.

Black cat curled up and sleeping
I volunteer at the local humane society, and I see a lot of cats like Troy that come in as strays. Often, they're thin and starved for attention. Troy was certainly both of those things. But he also seems to trust almost every single human being he meets, and he looks to humans to solve the problems he faces. He loved all of the volunteers he met while he was at the shelter, and now, he's the first cat to meet people who come to my house for a visit.

This kind of openness seems to suggest that your family loved him deeply, and you taught him to trust humans of all shapes and sizes. That's such a gift, both for me and for him. We started our relationship from a place of trust, and that made integrating him into my family so much easier.

Black cat looking at the camera while lying in the sunshine
I wish I knew how old Troy actually is, but since Troy can't talk and he didn't come with paperwork, I have to make guesses. At the moment, my veterinarian estimates that he's at least 10, but he could be as old as 15 (or more!). Despite his age, he doesn't have kidney problems, liver problems or heart troubles. He's not obese, and he came with a pretty coat that continues to fill in. Thank you for taking such good care of him for most of his life, so he could avoid so many of the illnesses that plague older cats. I'm hoping that means he'll stay with me a little longer.

Troy is fitting in here nicely, mainly because he has excellent pet manners. He knows how to greet other cats, and he's even become accustomed to living with dogs (after a period of adjustment). Thank you for introducing him to new animals and new situations so he can be integrated into new homes. If you hadn't done that work, it would be harder for me to make him a part of my family.

Did you feed him human food, by the way? I'll bet that you did. Troy is a notoriously picky eater that absolutely refuses to eat many different types of cat food, although he'll come running for both bacon and corn chips. He also likes to sit on the dining room chairs while we eat, and he always seems to expect a bite or two (which he doesn't get). I'll thank you for this, because it allows me to do things like the "What will Troy eat" challenge I'm doing with Weruva.

Hey, if you come back later this week, I'm even having a contest about that, so you can win cat food for the pets you might have now!
Closeup of cat feet after declaw surgery
And that brings me to my last point. If you do have cats, please don't do this to them again.

I know when you had Troy declawed, you probably thought it was a good decision. You may have had a veterinarian tell you that it was a smart thing to do. But Troy struggles with his mutilated feet. I don't know if you saw this, but he has trouble walking well. He has arthritis, because his gait is askew. His body just doesn't work like it should, because you lopped off the end of his toes. And when he got out of your house and became a stray, he had no weapons. He made it, but I don't know how.

So I have so much to thank you for. And I do thank you. But please. Don't do this to another cat, okay? Just don't.

So that's my letter!

Anyone have anything to add? I, of course, have no idea who to send this to. Troy was a stray that was brought in by good Samaritans, so we have no way of knowing who his owners are. And he was at the shelter for some 2-3 months without anyone coming to get him, so maybe he didn't slip out as much as get booted. But maybe the family will see this, at some point. Share your thoughts, won't you?

And do come back later this week for the Weruva contest and the results of the "What will Troy eat" challenge!

Friday, July 17, 2015

SmarkCookee: Dog treats with an awesome message of equality

Boston terrier posing with dog cookies
Earlier this month, I entered a contest for these cool dog cookies, and I won! (Yay, me!) I wanted to spread the word about these products, too, because I like them.

But before I do that, I want to share the story behind these treats and how I found out about them.

As we all know, the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue of gay marriage earlier this summer. And in a historic sweep, they struck down laws that have kept vital, vibrant, valid members of our society from participating fully in the rights that so many of us take for granted.

We are calling that "Love wins." But in reality, hatred is still out there.

Those of us that spoke out in support of this legislation have faced some pretty nasty backlash. And those in the LGBT community have had it yet worse. Don't believe me? Check out this heart-rending post by the person who introduced me to these dog cookies.

She wrote an empowering post about why people in the LGBT community should be granted the right to marry. And guess what? She got nastiness in return. Not love. Nastiness. (And she chose to counter that nastiness with love, which is awesome.)

Pug with a head tip and dog cookies
So these cookies are wonderful and delicious in so many ways I'm going to tell you about in a moment. But make no mistake: I also love them because of the messaging.

I believe in equality, and I want others to do the same. I like having products like this that allow me to make my belief in equality a part of my everyday life. Maybe I can whip these out in a dog park and spark a conversation. Maybe I can have these on my kitchen counter and demonstrate to my nephew that all of us should care about the rights of the LGBT community, even if we don't identify as LGBT.

It's a pride cookie. And I have pride.
Pug in a down position with a dog cookie
So let's talk about these cookies, shall we?

The SmartCookee Company is based in the United States, and all of their products are made here. There are no chemicals or preservatives in these products, and everything on the ingredient list is either recognizable and/or pronounceable. These treats are also grain-free.

These are crisp and firm cookies that my dogs like to chew. They don't gobble them down, as they might other chews. They tend to break them apart into smaller sections with one bite, and then snack on those crumbs. I like treats like this because I can use them when I'm leaving. The dogs can't gobble and follow me out of the room. They'll work on them, which gives me time for a sneaky exit, right?

And they're inexpensive. You can order a bag of these treats on the manufacturer's website for about $9. Or, you can order a SMARTPAK of a bunch of different types of treats (sans pride messaging) on Amazon for about $20. Seems like a good deal, to me, for this kind of quality treat.

I hope you will try these cookies out. And I hope you'll also help to spread the message of pride.

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Maggie's cat rodent ulcer is back!

Black and white cat resting in a chair
Pretty Maggie has lived with rodent ulcers (also known as eosinophilic granulomas) most of her life. She had her first outbreak when she was just a few months old, and her last outbreak was in February.

That particular outbreak had me terrified, because the sores were deep inside her mouth. I was worried about all the sores I couldn't see, including those that might have tapped her in the esophagus or in her stomach. Thankfully, an injection made that outbreak fade away. (See a recap of that incident here.)

But it looks like she's still having some trouble. Check out this puffy lip.
Black and white cat with swollen and red lip from rodent ulcer
This is a much more typical presentation for her particular ulcers. Her lip is about twice as big as it should be, and between her top lip and her gums is deeply swollen, eroded tissue that looks a lot like a canker sore.

These spots are super easy to miss, because they don't cause Maggie any pain. She doesn't paw at her lips or hide or resist an exam. She's still eating and drinking normally. But meanwhile, her immune system continues to attack her lips.

Maggie eats a very restrictive diet (no treats!) that's 100 percent grain free. But with this new ulcer outbreak, I probably need to change protein sources, yet again. My attempts to soothe her sores with play therapy and relaxation just aren't working. It isn't stress that's causing this; it's probably food.

So we're borrowing some rejected food from Troy's Weruva packet. (See information on that here.) We may find a food there that contains no poultry and no grain, and that might be best for madame puffy lip, here.

If you're dealing with something similar, please let me know in the comments, okay? I'd love some inspiration.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Blind cats are beautiful

This pretty girl is Lucy, and she was born without functional eye globes. She's been (obviously) blind since birth, and she went through an enucleation surgery as a very young kitten, to prevent ongoing infections in her eye sockets. (More on her condition in this old blog post.)

When people meet Lucy for the first time, they often call her a "poor thing."

I think they should call her beautiful. Don't you?
She has amazing whiskers, an epic beard and beautiful ear hair. Her feet are tremendously hairy, too.

She's also a super good sport. She's even participating in a Solid Gold food challenge right now, helping me to highlight the importance of good nutrition in middle-aged cats with congenital defects (more on her transition to that food here).

She's a beautiful, lovely, healthy girl. That's anything but "poor," right?

Leave me a note, will you? That way, I'll know you came by. And as always, do check out the other posts in this blog hop!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dog treats made for pugs with itchy skin: Salmon Paws!

Pug sitting in a bathtub looking sad
Liam the pug has been dealing with an itchy-skin condition lately, so he's been spending a bit of time in the bathtub. His shampoo has to stay in contact with his skin for 10 minutes, so he has to sit and shiver while I count the minutes down.

Obviously, this boy needs a treat when we're done! And I think I found a great thing in my BlogPaws swag bag.

Block of salmon jerky as a treat for dogs and cats
This is a block of salmon jerky made by the company Salmon Paws. The packaging may look a little unassuming, but the treat inside is pretty great.

These treats are sourced from Alaskan salmon with no fillers and no yeast. There's nothing in here but salmon, and that's perfect for an itchy pug.

Omega oils in fish products have long been associated with skin benefits in dogs, which is why so many of us give fish oil to our dogs. But, many pups (including Liam) can be really sensitive to flat fish oil. (I've written about that here, in a very old blog post.) These treats are a little different. They're not so much concentrated oil as concentrated fish, so Liam can get the benefits without all of the nausea.

I tore this block up into a bunch of bite-size pieces, and so far, Liam is loving them. It's a good thing, too, as I have a lot of stock to share!
Salmon treat torn up into bite sized pieces for a dog
I'm keeping these treats in a jar, too, as they can be a little smelly.

I just found out that these treats are available on Amazon: Salmon Paws Salmon Jerky Treats. Hope your dogs like them as much as Liam does!

And remember: Leave me a comment and let me know you stopped by, okay?

Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I got a free sample and provided my opinion. But, some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cat ear injuries: Do cat fights leave lasting scars?

cat torn ear flap
I took this photo several years ago, when Jasper had been in a scrape with a neighborhood cat (and he lost that fight, sadly). See that nasty-looking gash in his right ear? That's the injury he was left with when the fight was over, and as soon as I saw this thing, I whipped Jasper in for an exam.

My veterinarian told me, at the time, that bites and scratches like this aren't at all uncommon. When cats fight, they tend to grab and pull at anything that sticks out from an opponent's body. And unfortunately, that means that most cats that fight end up with ear injuries like this.

And sadly, those injuries rarely heal.

A cat's ear flap is full of visible blood vessels (that's why they glow pink when they're lit from behind), but there's just not enough blood in there to support new tissue growth. When these deep bites break through the upper layers of fur and skin, and those nasty teeth sink into the cartilage below, those bite marks stick around.

Many cats with a history of street life have ragged ears like this. Troy does.
Senior all-black cat with bite injuries
His left ear has two very distinct bite marks. To me, it looks an awful lot like two incisors went through his ear on the edge. He must have pulled back during the bite, and the other cat got a piece of his flesh in return.

The best way to prevent these injuries is, of course, to keep your cats indoors. But if you're caring for non-domesticated cats that can't come indoors, as I am, there are some things you can do to keep these fights from breaking out.

For starters, spay/neuter your pets. An altered animal is less likely to fight, and it's less likely to command attention from other pets. Plus, you'll help with pet overpopulation. (More on that here.)

Next, keep your outdoor cats confined at night. Fighting at dawn and dusk seems common for outdoor cats, and cats running across roads in the depth of night are very hard for drivers to see. By keeping your cats confined, you're keeping them safe.

Any other great ideas out there? I'd love to hear them. Share in the comments!