Dec 01 2009

A Puppy for The Holidays – Are You Ready?

The holidays are around the corner and one of the most popular gifts to give and receive is a new puppy or kitten.  Breeders and shelters sell and adopt more animals during the holiday season than any other time of the year.  This can be a wonderful experience for both the animals and their new owners.  Nothing is greater then giving a new home and family to an animal in need.  However, many times, especially during the holiday season, puppies and kittens are adopted without owners entirely understanding and considering the love and care they need to provide, not just for the moment, but for the animal’s lifetime.  It is important to understand the responsibility and care an animal requires before purchasing or adopting a new puppy or kitten in order to avoid heartbreak for new owners and new pets.  The best and most loving homes for animals are prepared homes. Once your pet is a new member of the family, it will require a lot of attention and care not only while it is young but for its entire life. Puppies and kittens require examinations and vaccinations every 3 weeks until they are 4 to 5 months of age.  In addition, they require the proper monthly heartworm, tick, and flea prevention throughout their lifetime.    It is very important to have your pet spayed and neutered.  Many rescue groups and humane societies ...

Posted in: Home,Your Pet with Dr. Birken

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Oct 21 2009

What Not to Feed Your Pet

There are many foods that people routinely eat without a problem. These same foods, however, can have a very different effect on our pets. The spectrum is broad, ranging from mild gastrointestinal symptoms to major toxic reactions. With the approaching holidays, veterinarians will soon be treating some of the most serious cases of food indiscretion and food toxicity.  At this time of the year, it is very important for you, as pet owners to have a good working knowledge of which foods are potentially harmful to your pets. In general, any kind of “people food” can cause an upset stomach in your pet.  Unlike humans, dogs and cats generally eat only one type of food.  The result is that their gastrointestinal tract becomes accustomed to digesting only that food.  Similar to people, the intestines of dogs and cats contain certain types of bacteria, which aid in their digestive process.  When we feed our pets new foods that they can not digest easily, it can result in serious abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Your pet may be affected for several days, becoming lethargic and refusing to eat. Fortunately, in most cases, after a few days he or she will begin a rapid recovery.  So, always keep in mind that there is a real risk involved when you decide to give your pet a new food. To this point, the foods that ...

Posted in: Your Pet with Dr. Birken

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Sep 10 2009

The Humane Society

Did you know that as recently as last year cockfights were still legal in some areas of the United States? This practice that causes pain and suffering for the breed birds that engage in the fight, became illegal in all 50 states of our nation in August 15, 2007, when Louisiana passed a law making the practice unlawful. But roosters are not the only animals that are victims of this practice. Everyday, around the world, dogs die in closed rings where their owners put them to fight. Gambling, drugs and weapons are usually present at these violent rings. But thanks to the efforts of organizations like the Humane Society of the United States, legislations are being passed to end this cruel practice. The Humane Society, which is the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization, pushes state and federal officials to enact laws that make our world a better place for animals and, consequently, for humans to live. While cockfighting is engraved in the tradition of our country and many others around the world, that doesn't mean the practice is right. “‘Old'" does not necessarily mean right or even acceptable. At one time the United States allowed slavery, lacked child abuse laws, and refused women the vote,” the organization said in a statement published on their website. Cockfights also have a detrimental effect on humans. According to an article published by the HSUS, the roosters that ...

Posted in: Penny's Pets News

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Sep 10 2009

Give Your Pet A Day At The Spa!

So you are asking yourself, “self, why in the world would this newspaper, devoted to kids nutrition, fitness and health, have an article on pets?” Let me explain. You're right about The Nerdhealth News. We are devoted to educating and helping kids and parents eat healthier, making exercise fun and helping to make the right choices. But we must not forget our devoted friends and companions, our pets. Did you know that according to AnimalWorldNetwork.com, a surprising 52 million dogs and 57 million cats live with U.S. families? Their nutrition, exercise and well being are also important. How many times has your veterinarian said,” better cut down on the portions and switch to a healthier food?” Well I bet it's been said to you a lot! We have a tendency to overfeed our pets. Whether they are given too much pet food, or too much table food or both, our pet's health is also at risk. When was the last time that you actually took your dog for a walk? Yep! Remember how happy your dog was when you went to get the leash? The tail was wagging 100 miles per hour. It was good for both of you. How much exercise is your pet getting every day? Can your pet run as fast as he or she use to? Getting exercise with your pet is one of the best ...

Posted in: Penny's Pets News

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Sep 10 2009

The 2007 Pet Food Recall, can it happen again?

I think we all remember the March 2007 pet food recall. It was a major event in every pet owner's life. Some of us had pets that ate the tainted foods and found their animals vomiting and deathly ill with kidney failure. Others lost their companions. It was a sad time for all of us. A wheat gluten and rice protein from China, were both implicated. They were used to make animal and fish feed. And it was the substance melamine, a cousin of cyanide that was the indentified culprit. All products containing the melamine products were recalled and the Chinese companies were shut down. Even though a year or so has passed, I am still vigilant about looking at the labels and watching for any news on recalls. I spent a lot of time on line researching the different pet foods that were not included on the recall as many did. In fact, some people started to prepare foods at home for their animals. Many people were forced to rethink what they were giving to their pets. Now, as soon as I hear the word recall, the hair on the back of my neck stands straight up. So what do you do? Will you have to change food again? Is the food that you're giving to your Buster the dog and Sammy the cat good? What happens if the ...

Posted in: Penny's Pets News

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Sep 10 2009

Are Pet Owners a Healthier Group of People?

I was having a great discussion about all of the aspects of preventive health with an academic friend of mine recently and a very interesting issue came up of whether raising children with pets will make them healthier. Yes, of course they make them healthier I said astoundingly, citing studies that I had been aware of from the cardiac literature that have shown that pet owners were more likely to complete cardiac rehabilitation compared to non owners (Mary M. Herrald, Joe Tomaka, Amanda Y. Medina) and that pet owners had lower blood pressure compared with non owners (Anderson, W. P., C. M. Reid, and G. L. Jennings, Medical Journal of Australia, v. 157, p. 298-301. 1992 ) and even some that have shown an improvement in pet owners mental health compared with non owners (Schneider, M. S.; Harley, L. P. Anthrozoos. 2006. 19: 2, 128-142). So I was amazed when my friend quoted a recent study that was published in 2006 from the University of Turku in Finland showing that pet owners have a higher BMI, higher cholesterol, more back pain, are in need of more exercise and in general are in a “poor” state of health compared to the non owners. How can this be I responded? So I quickly went to my laptop and searched for pet owner's health. A study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine popped ...

Posted in: Pet's & Their People

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Sep 10 2009

What are Vaccines and Which Ones Should I Give to My Pet?

Just like us, your pet has an immune system which is made up of many organs and cells in the body that defends against infection, disease and foreign substances. A vaccine is a preparation that is administered to your pet to improve his or her immune system in order to fight off certain diseases.   A vaccine typically contains a small amount of an agent that stimulates your pet’s immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and "remember" it, so that your pet will not contract that disease in the future. There are many diseases that can be easily prevented by administering vaccines.  Making sure your pet visits their veterinarian every year for physical examinations and required vaccination administration are an extremely important part of keeping your pet strong and healthy. Vaccinations are classified as core vaccinations meaning required, and non core vaccinations, or optional.  Non core vaccinations should be administered based upon your veterinarian’s recommendations according to the individual pets risk and lifestyle. The following is a guideline as to which vaccines your pet should be receiving as a puppy or kitten and then into their adult lives. Feline (Cat) Vaccinations Core Vaccines 1) FVRCP (Herpesvirus-1, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia Virus) Begin vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age Booster every 2-4 weeks until 14-16 weeks of age Revaccinate in 1 year, then every 1 to 3 years according to your veterinarian’s recommendations based upon risk and lifestyle Non-Core Vaccines 1) ...

Posted in: Your Pet with Dr. Birken

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Sep 10 2009

Pets Get Healthy The New Nerdel Way

Diet and overall nutrition plays a key role in a healthy and long life for your pet. Just like us, it is very important to maintain a proper weight and healthy lifestyle to avoid diseases. We can help our pets to live a long healthy life by choosing the proper diet, making sure they are not getting too many treats, and allowing them to exercise regularly. When you go into a pet store or your veterinarian's office, there are many brands of foods to choose from. One of the most important requirements that I make sure all my clients do when choosing the brand of food to feed their pet, is that it has been approved by the AAFCO (Association of American Food Control Officials). This organization assures that the pet food is well balanced for your pet with all the proper nutrients that they need. So whether you chose from Purina, Science Diet, Eukanuba, or any other brand of food, make sure the food is AAFCO approved. http://www.aafco.org In addition to a proper well balanced diet, feeding your pet the right type of treats is important in maintaining their weight. As a general rule, I recommend feeding your pet no more then 10% of his or her diet as treats. Some healthy treats that I recommend are carrots, chicken, turkey, or low calorie dog treats which can be purchased ...

Posted in: Your Pet with Dr. Birken

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Sep 10 2009

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal parasitic disease affecting both cats and dogs. Fortunately, it is easily preventable with appropriate medication. This parasite is carried by several different species of mosquitoes. The disease is transmitted to dogs and cats when bitten by an infected mosquito. This illness is widespread throughout the United States, but is particularly prevalent in the eastern and gulf coast states, which include Florida. The disease is more common in warmer climates because these parasites rely on higher temperatures in order to grow and mature. The adult heartworm lives mainly in the large arteries leading to the lungs. These arteries, termed the pulmonary arteries, originate from the heart, hence the names name Heartworm Disease. The Following is a diagram of the lifecycle of Heartworm Disease All different ages and breeds of dogs and cats are susceptible to heartworm disease. If your pet becomes infected, the following are some of the symptoms you may see: Difficulty breathing such as panting or shortness of breath and fatigue Fainting spells Coughing Weight loss Cats may exhibit gagging or vomiting It is important to note that many dogs and cats may be positive for Heartworm disease but not exhibit any clinical signs at all. In addition, many of the symptoms listed a bove can be associated with other diseases. If your pet is exhibiting any of these abnormalities, he or she should be evaluated by your veterinarian immediately. DIAGNOSIS A very simple ...

Posted in: Your Pet with Dr. Birken

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Sep 10 2009

How To Choose The Right Food For Your Pet

I recommend feeding your pet an AAFCO (Association of American Food Control Officials) approved dog food. Dogs younger then 10-12 months of age should be on a food formulated for puppies - these diets have more calories, fat and protein then adult formulated diets designed to meet the needs of growing animals. Puppies should be fed 2-3 times per day. Adult dogs may be fed 1-2 times per day. Every AAFCO approved dog food has a weight based guideline on the bag of food, advising how much your pet should be fed per day. Consult your veterinarian regarding the proper weight your pet should be. This ideal weight should be used as your guideline to measure how much food your pet should be eating daily. I advise feeding large dogs, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, diets formulated specifically for these large breeds. Small dogs, such as Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas, should be fed diets formulated for smaller breed dogs. When giving your pet treats, make sure the total amount of treats given in one day does not exceed 10% of your pet's total diet. Try and pick healthy low fat treats such as carrots, green beans, or plain chicken. Low calorie/fat treats can be purchased from your local pet store. Avoid feeding your pet people food and other foods that they are not accustom to eating. One of the most common causes of gastrointestinal upset in pets, ...

Posted in: Your Pet with Dr. Birken

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