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Monthly Archives: October 2016

What Are the Uses of Catnip

What Is Catnip?

“Catnip” or officially Nepeta cataria is a herbaceous perennial herb of the mint family. Its white flowers may be pleasing to the eye, however beware: if you plant catnip in your garden, you will soon understand how it earned the name “catnip” – many of our feline friends go absolutely bonkers for it.

cat-wearing-glasses

Why Do Cats Love It?

For your kitty, it’s all about the euphoric effects of nepetalactone, which is found in the leaves and stems of the plant. Cats may attempt to nibble or crush the catnip in an effort to extract the plant’s nepetalactone containing essential oil.

Common kitty reactions to nepetalactone include rubbing the face and body, loud purring, chewing and licking, all with the blissed out appearance that is tell-tale of a happy cat. Most cats will interact with the catnip for under ten minutes, and then seem to enter a bliss-like state which may last for about an hour. Some kitties will become very possessive of the catnip, and react with aggression if interrupted.

Does catnip work on humans?

Have you ever noticed that you don’t roll around on the ground and rub your cheeks into the carpet when catnip is present? That’s because nepetalactone doesn’t effect humans in the same way it does cats. However, emerging research indicated that nepetalactone shows promise as a bug repellent, with studies indicating that it could be tens time more effective than DEET.

Catnip Uses:

Make Toys More Enticing

Has your cats favorite toy lost some of its luster? Bring it back to life with a sprinkle or spray of catnip. This is also a way to introduce new toys to your kitty, making them quick favorites.

cats-playing-with-toy-mouse

Bliss Out

For felines that react to nepetalactone it doesn’t take much to have a good time. Simply sprinkle a little of the dried herb near your cat, or spray a spritz or two of catnip spray onto a papertowel or other object, and stand back and watch as your kitty happily entertains himself.

 

Oh this post is for ME?

Sometimes a scratching post or cat tree is not immediately embraced by our furry friends. While we would quite like them to attempt to scratch their own, personal scratching post to shreds (instead of the new lazy-boy recliner), it can oftentimes take a little convincing. A sprinkle or spray of catnip on the feline furniture will in many cases do the trick.

Does Catnip Work On All Cats?

The ability to enjoy nepetalactone is a genetic trait that is thought to be present in an estimated 50-75% of cats. Among those who share this trait, the reaction to nepetalcatone varies from mild to much stronger reactions.

Don’t be discouraged if your kitty is delighted with catnip just yet; cats under eight weeks do not have fully developed senses, and are not yet able to react to nepetalcatone. Give it a try once they are a couple of months older.

Catnip Alternatives

Cats who do not react to catnip, may react to one of these natural alternatives. Also, cats who do react to nepetalactone may enjoy these herbs as well:

Valerian

You may be familiar with valerian as it is found in health stores world-wide, promoted as a calming agent in humans, and also in dogs. However, for many cats valerian root has the reverse effect and acts as a stimulant. The feline-activating constituent of Valerian root is actinidine, which for some cats is a stronger draw that the more famous nnepetalactone from the catnip plant.

The downside to valerian is chiefly that some humans find the scent to be, well… not quite as nice as your cat hopefully will, to put it mildly.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is often effective for the segment of felines who do not respond to catnip. It’s important to note that while the honeysuckle sawdust shavings are for kitty, the plant’s berries are toxic to cats. Also of note, not all varieties of honey suckle have cat-attractant properties, only Lonicera tatarica (tartarian honeysuckle sawdust) specifically has the ability to charm our feline friends.

Silvervine

Long popular in Asia, silver vine (also called matatabi) has recently started to make its way into Western markets. Like Valerian, silvervine contains the cat attractant actinidine, but unlike Valerian root it also contains a second cat attractant: dihydroactinidiolide. This one-two punch may be why Silvervine has a reputation for being the most potent feline stimulant for many kitties.

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Why Puppies and Adult Dogs Chew and How to Humanely Stop It!

If you’ve come home to find that your beloved fluffy Fido has torn up the rug, or made unwanted alterations to your throw pillows, you may be wondering why your precious pup would do such a thing.

What Causes Destructive Chewing in Puppies and Adult Dogs

Boredom and Excess Energy

dog-playing-frisbee

Possessing neither a gym membership nor a rubix cube, dogs have few ways to­­­ release their pent up energy. Those who do not have their physical or mental needs met may engage in destructive behaviors including chewing or otherwise destroying objects, or even chewing him/herself.For some dogs this will present in excessive self-grooming (licking).

Anxiety

cute-boston-terrier-puppy

Dogs may exhibit anxiety for a variety of reasons, such as separation anxiety, fear of thunder/stormy weather, or nervousness after the introduction of a new pet to the household. Dog anxiety can range from mild and situational to chronic and severe. Exercise, training and adherence to a routine can significantly minimize most anxiousness in dogs, however in some cases medication or supplements containing a casein protein may be appropriate.

Teething

boston-terrier-puppy-sleeping

Like toddlers, your little ball of fluff will likely experience some degree of discomfort as their big doggie teeth grow in. Teething takes place between three and seven months, as the puppy teeth fall out and adult teeth grow in.­­ Cold or frozen specialty dog teething toys or treats can be kept in the freezer and help sooth sore puppy gums.

Keep in mind, you may not actually find any of your dog’s teeth around the house. As unappetizing as it sounds, many dogs will swallow the teeth that have fallen out.

Allergies

Dogs who chew on themselves, particularly the paw pads (which may appear red and irritated), may be exhibiting signs of allergies to food or other environmental factors. In such cases it is best to consult with a veterinarian who can provide advice on identifying and managing any present allergies. Like in humans, dog allergies can be seasonal or chronic.

How to Stop Destructive Dog Chewing

Visit Your Veterinarian

Ruling out medical causes for dog and puppy chewing is advised, as a small percentage of destructive chewing cases are due to malnutrition (caused by parasites, incomplete diet, and other medical conditions), thus it is truly important to firstly explain your concerns to a veterinarian.

Provide Ample Exercise Opportunities

dog-exercising-in-mountains

Your dog was bred to live a lively and fulfilling life! Dogs of all sizes benefit from plenty of fresh air and exercise, including long daily walks and romps in the park. Generally speaking, the old saying “a tired dog is a good dog” is right on the money. Exercise requirements vary depending on factors such as age, breed, and individual energy level. However, while it is true that the border collie will almost always require more exercise than the mighty chihuahua, even the species smallest dog benefits from a daily walk. The mental and physical benefits of such truly cannot be overstated.

Mental Stimulation Is Important Too

dog-wearing-glasses

While Fido may not be the next Albert Einstein, he’s no dummy either. Mental stimulation is crucially important for your pup’s wellbeing. Dog-food dispensing puzzle toys, basic obedience, sports such as fly-ball and agility, and learning new tricks are all fun ways to tire out your pups’ brain. Remember to keep it fun and positive; the goal is not simply to master the trick, but to do so in an enjoyable way that fosters the dog-human connection.

Training

happy-dogs

Dogs who are regularly trained in basic obedience develop better impulse control and become calmer family members. Ten minutes a day of sit, stay, down, come, and other basic commands will do wonders for your pup. You’ll be amazed at what he can learn as you work your way up to more advanced commands (your dog will be making your double soy latte, extra foam in no time!)

If you catch your dog chewing something he shouldn’t, a firm no, and a redirection to something enjoyable that he is allowed to chew is certainly appropriate.

Supervision

Until proven trust-worthy, rambunctious puppies should be left only in puppy-proof areas while unattended. Using an x-pen, a crate or a room where all objects are removed from reach are all viable options. While destruction to your property is unfortunate, it is also far too common for a puppy to ingest dangerous foreign material, which can be a very serious medical emergency.

Deter

Spray deterrents leave an unpleasant but non-toxic taste on the objects sprayed. This off-putting flavor can help to dissuade your pet from nibbling on forbidden or dangerous items.

Provide Suitable Chewies

The instinct to chew can be fun and rewarding for your dog when appropriate, releasing happy endorphins while also providing some dental benefits. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to provide your dog with tasty snacks that he can gnaw away on. Bully sticks, Himalayan chews and deer antlers are all favorites around here. The size and strength of the chew will vary from breed to breed, as often a bone enjoyed by a smaller dog will make quick work for his larger cousins. Keep in mind that while it was once common to throw a cooked bone to the family pooch, this is actually discouraged now as such bones are prone to splintering which could cause an obstruction and/or internal bleeding.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that some amount of chewing is considered ­normal, natural dog behavior. Teaching our dogs what­ is appropriate to gnaw on is an important part in keeping them healthy and happy.

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