A Publication of St. Louis Critter Sitters
December 2006


Breed of the Month – The Westie

DESCRIPTION With his bristly white face and dark sparkling eyes, the Westie makes a smart, proud, spunky, and hearty companion. Outdoors he is a speedy and skillful hunter; indoors he is an affectionate and devoted companion. Owners will especially appreciate a typical Westie mischievousness. The Westie loves people. With other animals he is generally friendly, but can get scrappy if not supervised. He will alert his family to visitors.

TEMPERAMENT West Highland White Terriers are described in the standard as being "possessed of no small amount of self-esteem with a varminty appearance." This game and hardy little Terrier is easy to train. They are fairly friendly toward strangers and get along well with behaved children. Westies may snap when irritated, but are not as willful as many of the other Terrier breeds. They are lively and extremely self-assured toward other dogs. Westies usually do not pick fights with other dogs, although some males are combative with other males. They may chase a cat for fun, but usually will not hurt it. Robust, friendly, cocky and spunky, Westies just love companionship. Despite its size, they make a very good watchdog. These little dogs are easy to travel with. The Westie likes to dig and bark.

Wintertime Safety for Pets!

Winter can be very beautiful with newly fallen snow and crystal formations in tree branches. However, it is also a season during which we should be extra cautious regarding the well being of our pets.

It is true there are many more safety concerns for those living in snowy areas, but there are also wintertime hazards in the southern states due to cooler than normal temperatures. Below are a few of those things that you should be watchful for during the winter season.

Furry bodies need warmth too! Whether your pet has long or short fur, frostbite is always a possible threat. The ears, tail and feet are very susceptible to frostbite, so special care should be taken to ensure that your pet always has proper shelter if outside for any length of time. Always keep a watchful eye on your pet while he/she is outside. Cold temperatures and winds can quickly reduce your pet’s body temperature resulting in frostbite and/or hypothermia.

Signs of frostbite include:

• Discoloration of the frozen area. The skin may be pale or even blue in color initially and bright red or even black when thawed.
• Lack of pain or sensation at the affected area, or it may be very painful, especially when the area starts to warm up.

Signs of hypothermia include:

• Areas of skin feel cool to the touch
• Weak pulse
• Decreased heart rate
• Shivering
• Pupils may be dilated (the black inner circle of the eye appears larger)
• Mucous membranes are pale or blue
• Body temperature is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit
• Stupor, unconsciousness or coma

If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia contact your veterinarian immediately! Hypothermia can be fatal if not treated promptly!

To help your pet maintain proper body heat, it is important to keep your pet’s fur groomed and free of mats. Fur that is matted will reduce the insulating ability of long fur on your pet.

Additionally, if your pet stays outside for any length of time or is a feral cat, keep in mind that they will require more food to maintain body warmth. Food supplies the chemical substances needed to fuel metabolism - the body's natural method to produce heat. If you pet appears hungrier during the colder months, he/she may very well be as they are burning more calories to stay warm. Remain attentive to their food requirements and if your pet has other medical needs and/or concerns be sure and consult with your veterinarian pertaining to their special nutritional needs during the winter months.

Give Me Shelter Please
Proper shelter is extremely important to the well being of your outside pet. Be sure he/she has a housing area which is can protect them from the wind, rain, snow and cold temperatures. Straw and blankets or old towels offer great bedding and help a pet maintain a warmer body temperature. Periodically change the bedding as blankets and towels become dirty and can cause allergies and skin irritations. Additionally, straw needs to be changed out as it can become moldy and/or matted down over time. Moldy straw, like dirty blankets and towels can cause allergies and skin and respiratory irritations.

If your sheltered area is in a garage, use extreme caution when using a heat lamp, space heater or other similar heating device. These can be very dangerous and should be closely monitored at all times. Not only do they pose a potential fire hazard they are not meant for pet care and can burn your pet.

Fresh Water is Always Important - Check your pet’s water often – fresh water is a must. With colder temperatures shallow bowls of water easily freeze over. Pets are then unable to get fresh water which is a must for their well-being and nutritional needs.

Antifreeze Can Be Fatal! - Antifreeze is another wintertime danger to dogs and cats who go outside. It has a sweet taste and so easily attracts animals. Antifreeze is toxic and can cause death in your pet – should you suspect ingestion (no matter how slight) contact your veterinarian immediately! To avoid this danger, be sure and dispose of antifreeze in secured containers and inaccessible to your pet.

Signs of antifreeze poisoning include:

• Stumbling
• Vomiting
• Inability to urinate

Command of the Month
Teach your pup to SIT!

“Sit” is a useful command. When your dog is sitting, she’s not jumping up on you, running out the door, or snitching your lunch off the counter.

An easy way to teach SIT is by using a treat to lure your dog into position. Show her a treat, and then slowly raise it up and toward the back of her head. As she lifts her nose up following the treat, her back end will lower into a SIT. When this happens, say “Good Sit” and reward with the treat. If you train using a clicker, click the moment her rear touches the floor, then reward.

After luring several times, eliminate the treat-lure. Make the same hand motion as when luring, but with your hand empty. Expecting a treat, your dog will sit. Click or praise, and give a treat you’ve kept hidden in a pocket or your other hand.

 

St. Louis Critter Sitters
Recipe Corner

Fleas Navidad Nibblers

• 2 Tbsp honey
• 2 ¾ cups water
• 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
• 1/8 tsp vanilla
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
• 4 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 Tbsp baking powder
• 1 Tbsp cinnamon
• 1 Tbsp nutmeg

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together honey, water, applesauce, vanilla and egg. In a separate bowl, mix peanuts, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, mixing well.

Spoon into a greased muffin tin, filling each cup two-thirds full. Bake for 35 minutes.

Store in a sealed container.

Best of luck with your Christmas baking.

 

Don't We Look Alike?

Glucosamine, Chondroitin & Joint Care
Glucosamine and Chondroitin have become popular supplements for joint care in both pets and people. Many have questions about these and other similar supplements relating to how they work and effectiveness. The reason so many questions exist is that while these ingredients have been found helpful to many they aren’t classified as drugs. Instead they are considered either dietary supplements or neutraceuticals. As such they are generally regarded as safe (GRAS), and need little documentation to be sold as over the counter supplements. Consequently, the rates of success for these products aren’t clear. Anecdotally many pet owners have found these supplements helpful in increasing their pet’s comfort level and mobility. However, there are some pets that don’t seem to benefit from these supplements.

There are specific benefits that each of these supplements is thought to provide. Glucosamine is believed to be connected with the proteins that assist cellular growth and structure. Chondoitin is thought to help aid the repair and strengthen cartilage that is often damaged for arthritis sufferers. Chondroitin, as well as MSM (MethylSulfanoMethane) another common neutraceutical, is believed to help reduce pain associated with joint diseases. This helps provide comfort, and if a pet stays active and mobile that helps slow the progression of arthritis. Other ingredients that are thought to have beneficial effects include shark cartilage, Perna canaliculus, anti oxidants and fatty acids. While the classification as a neutraceutical can be somewhat confusing when it comes to understanding the details and success rate of these items, the benefit is that they are very safe. While it is safest to contact your vet before starting any new diet or supplement, these food additives rarely have side effects. It is important to check with your vet particularly if your pet has other medical conditions, is taking prescription drugs, or is allergy prone. Also, asking your vet’s opinion on what combination he finds most effective and what the appropriate dosage is can help.

Another benefit of these supplements is that they can be given to at risk pets to help ward off the onset of such troublesome joint problems. While cats can have arthritis and joint problems it is much less common than arthritis in dogs. Usually if a cat has arthritis it has suffered a previous joint trauma. Trauma is a risk factor for all both cats and dogs. Large dogs are at a greater risk. High activity dogs, particularly dogs that jump or have greater than normal joint impact are at a greater risk too. Certain breeds such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers have a high incidence of hip dysplasia and arthritis. Overweight dogs, particularly dogs that have been overweight most of their lives are also at a higher risk. Finally, as age increases the likelihood of joint problems increases too. As the popularity of these supplements grow the information from research and studies is likely to grow as well. In the mean time many find these an excellent way to help their pet.

We wish you a very Happy Holiday
and a prosperous New Year!

... St. Louis Critter Sitters