Your pet’s health depends on your being able to know when he is sick. Inform your vet if any of the symptoms listed below persist for more than several hours, and never let them go untreated for more than 2 days.
- Vomiting: Can be symptomatic of constipation, poisoning, hairball (in a cat), or a serious ailment such as distemper.
- Lack of appetite: The refusal of food for more than 2 days usually means a very sick animal. Waste no time in notifying your vet.
- Runny eyes and nose, high fever: Often primary symptoms of a serious ailment.
- Lethargy or depression: May indicate that the animal has a fever.
- Sneezing or coughing: Cold-like symptoms usually mean one of the upper-respiratory-tract infections, such as distemper, Pneumonitis, or rhinotracheitis.
- Diarrhea: Loose stools can be caused by too much milk or by some foods such as raw liver or a chemical toxin. Diarrhea also can be caused by worms, or coccidiosis, a contagious ailment that is spread through contamination of stools from an infected animal.
- Abscesses: Swellings can result from the bites of another animal.
- Urinary straining: This usually indicates cystitis or blockage of the urinary tract by urinary stones. Males suffer this malady more often than females.
- Shaking head: A common cause for head shaking is an ear infection.
Reference: Dog Shaking Head and Scratching Ear – Pet Health Partnership
- Drinking a lot of water: The early sign of diabetes or kidney disease.
Reference: Dog Drinking a Lot of Water – Pet Health Partnership
Feeding a puppy
A puppy requires a high amount of protein during the first 90 days after weaning. The extra protein enables him to cope better with emergencies in early life, such as disease or parasites. Proper nourishment will help develop immunity.
Puppies vary in their food requirements. What may be sufficient for one may be a famine for another. A weaning puppy should be fed 4 meals a day; between 4 and 6 months, 3 meals daily; and between 6 months and a year, 2 meals a day.
After one year, most dogs require only one meal a day. This rule, however, is arbitrary. Each dog should be fed according to his needs, and quality and type of food.
The delicate digestive system of a puppy at weaning requires a soft, bland diet. Baby foods are excellent.
Small breeds need more food per pound of bodyweight than large breeds. When most people see a St Bernard or a Great Dane, they shudder to think of the food bills. But the giants eat extremely large amounts of food only during the first year or year and a half of their growth. After they have reached maturity they don’t eat much more than a collie or a German shepherd.
The health of the puppy depends on the kinds of meals he is given. A good puppy chow provides a basic, well-balanced diet, and should make up the major part of the dog’s diet.
Puppies need variety in food as we do, and table scraps and leftovers are an excellent means of breaking up the monotony of the everyday diet. But they should be used as a supplement, and not as the main part of the diet.
Raw meat is more easily digested than cooked meat. Too much fat is not good for a puppy, although small amounts should be an integral part of the diet. Liver, tripe, and kidney are beneficial additives.
Egg yolks are excellent, raw, or cooked. For the first year, a puppy should have daily amounts of vitamins and minerals added to his food.
With their tender gums and growing teeth, most puppies enjoy gnawing on objects such as human flesh, expensive shoes, and antique furniture. The addition of crunchy food to the daily ration or an occasional large bone can provide distraction and therapy for teeth and gums.
Feeding a kitten
Weaning kittens may be started on a diet of baby food or high-protein baby cereal, mixed with warm water or milk. You can teach a young kitten to eat by sticking your finger into this mixture and letting him lick your finger clean. If he refuses, dab a little on his nose, and he will lick it off.
Gradually teach him to eat the food in a dish. As he begins to lap the cereal-milk mixture, add strained baby meat and a few drops of the vitamin-mineral supplement every day.
When he is completely weaned from his mother, he should have about 5 meals a day every 2 hours. Gradually, as his teeth come in, feed him finely minced or scraped raw beef in his cereal-milk mixture.
Other foods can be added to supplement his meals: commercial cat food, cooked fish, chopped and cooked poultry, egg yolks, small amounts of heart, kidney, or liver.
As he gets older, cut down to 4 meals a day while increasing the portions. When he is 4 months old, cut down to 3 meals, at 6 months, 2 meals. After one year usually one meal a day will satisfy most cats, although some continue to prefer 2.
Food for good nutrition
An animal in a natural environment chooses his diet with incredible care and discretion. If he is carnivorous, as are cats and dogs, he will devour his entire prey, including muscle, organs, and roughage, and thus ensure a well-balanced diet.
In captivity, however, an animal must rely on his owner for a well-balanced diet. This can be a good commercial pet food – dry or canned – with first-class proteins added if necessary (milk, eggs, meat, fish, and cheese).
It takes 18 hours for food to pass through the average adult dog’s digestive system. Therefore, one meal a day is recommended.
It is best not to feed dogs raw pork since they are just as susceptible to trichinosis as people. Actually, pork is not the best meat for dogs because of the high-fat content. Some dogs seem unable to tolerate it.
A watchdog on night duty should not be fed later than 4 pm, because with a full stomach he will become drowsy. But a barking dog who keeps the neighbors awake at night should be fed late in the evening so he will sleep most of the night.
A dog should not be fed within 3 hours of strenuous exercise, and after strenuous activity should have a half-hour rest before being fed.
Facts about dog feeding
There are many misconceptions about feeding dogs. Here are some truths:
- Different breeds don’t need different foods. Chihuahuas eat the same foods as Great Danes.
- It is not abnormal for a dog to gulp his food. The stomach takes care of the digestion.
- Dogs don’t need to chew hard foods or gnaw bones to keep their teeth sound. A well-balanced diet will keep the teeth in good condition. Gnawing bones, however, does help to keep the teeth tartar free.
- It should be a large beef bone, preferably a knuckle. Rib bones or T-bones tend to break off in sharp points and may damage the intestinal tract. Never give small bones, such as chicken, pork, veal, lamb, or rabbit. They are injurious to the throat and intestines.
- Some think that feeding raw meat will make a dog savage and a better guard dog. Raw meat has nothing to do with it.
- Dogs don’t need raw meat. They thrive on cooked or dried meat as well.
- Dogs can digest starchy foods as well as human beings can, provided this food is cooked. It is not harmful to feed a dog potatoes or other starches, in moderation.
- A normal amount of fat is not harmful to dogs. Working and hunting dogs need extra amounts.
- It is believed by many that sweets are detrimental to the dog, that they cause worms or ruin the teeth. Actually, sugar is an important part of a dog’s diet. Dental cavities are rare in dogs, although sweets may spoil his appetite for his regular meals. Occasional sweets are good, especially when used as rewards in a training program.
- Milk does not cause worms. Worms are caused by worm eggs, which don’t stand a chance in milk that has been pasteurized.
- The addition of garlic to the diet doesn’t eliminate worms. However, it may make the food tastier.
When a dog has a digestive upset, occasionally he will eat blades of grass which irritate the lining of his intestines and cause him to vomit and rid his stomach of excessive bile, as evidenced by yellow vomits.
At such times milk of magnesia is excellent for him. If the condition continues for more than a day, the dog should be checked by a veterinarian. The symptoms can signify worms or an intestinal infection.
Feeding your cat
Each cat should be fed according to his needs, likes, and dislikes. Adult cats feed once every 24 hours, although a healthy cat can go without food or water for surprisingly long periods, and steadfastly refuse foods that he dislikes.
His health also can affect his appetite. Some diseases, such as Pneumonitis, rhinotracheitis, or sinusitis, often prevent a cat from eating because they may plug up his nostrils so he cannot smell his food.
To maintain good health your cat is best nourished on a varied diet of meat, fish, and vegetables, composed of table scraps, leftovers, and commercial cat foods.
The most critical period is the time of rapid growth after a kitten has been weaned.
Young kittens do not thrive without some fond personal contact with human beings. Without it, they become apathetic and uninterested in food.
Feeding your dog an all-meat diet eventually will cause a mineral deficiency, which exhibits itself in hair loss and red and irritated skin. A calcium deficiency will develop in a puppy or a lactating bitch fed only meat.
Older dogs on all-meat diets usually develop kidney disease from the high concentration of protein. Too much protein causes chronic irritation of the intestines, similar to colitis in human beings, with dark and foul-smelling diarrhea.
For dogs who eat nothing but meat, add vitamins, minerals, and oils. Give them organ foods, such as liver or kidney, which are very nutritious.
Feeding your cat a diet of canned fish – especially tuna – can be dangerous, even fatal. Excessive amounts of fish oil can cause vitamin E deficiency. This will show up in listlessness, loss of appetite, and general soreness of the cat’s body.
Excessive amounts of raw fish can cause a deficiency of vitamin B1. A certain enzyme in raw fish destroys vitamin B1 and will bring on a loss of appetite, drop in body weight, the onset of heart disorders. Once the fish is cooked, however, this deadly enzyme is destroyed.
The finicky eater
Like human beings, a cat or dog can become bored with the same food day in and day out. About every fifth day feed him an entirely different food – either canned, meal, or dry. Or combine his basic commercial food with liver, meat, or table scraps. Foods that are high in protein, such as meat, milk, fish, or cheese, often make meals palatable.
Your pet should have some fresh meat at least once a week. Organ foods such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads, brains, tripe, and giblets are nutritious and furnish vitamins and minerals.
If you must take your cat or dog to a boarding kennel, inform the management of the brand of food the animal is used to.
For an especially fussy cat or dog, take his water dish and feeding pan along. If your pet is nervous outside his environment, give him a tranquilizer just before leaving and he will adjust more quickly.
Emergency first aid
Hurt animals are usually frightened and confused.
Even normally friendly ones may bite and scratch, so keep your safety in mind.
Here are a few points to follow:
- Move slowly, speaking quietly.
- Restrain the animal with a loose rope around his neck.
- To prevent biting, muzzle him.
- To control bleeding, use a pressure bandage.
- Cover the animal with a blanket or coat to keep it warm.
- Call a veterinarian for further instructions.
To Move an Injured Animal:
- Spread a coat or blanket along and under the spine.
- Gently put the animal on the blanket.
- Holding the corners of the blanket, carry it as you would as a stretcher.