April 27, 2012

The Top 5 Most Interesting Facts About Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs

Filed under: Dog Breed — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 4:48 pm

rhodesian-ridgebackThe Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog is a rare dog for someone to own from a humane society, but that is how Lily came into my life. I didn’t know she was of this breed until I noticed the ridge of hair on her back reversed towards her head. I had to research this phenomenon to really understand what I was seeing. The African Lion Dog or Ridgeback was originally bred to hunt lions in South Africa and are an exceptionally sturdy breed that can tolerate heat and dry conditions.

Depending on your living situation, certain characteristics of this large dog breed can be good news or cause for concern. Before taking one into your family, consider all of them carefully.



  1. They have short, beautiful wheat-to-red color coat that has no smell. I am sure this was an advantage when around lions, but despite their extremely spirited nature, they cannot be left outside in the cold.
  2. They are described as energetic with great stamina which translates into a dog with immense amounts of energy that can jump vigorously and enjoys digging immensely. Although ours did slow down a little with age, never expect a quiet dog. This dog has an immense enthusiasm for every task and if you are a jogger or want a constant companion, this is the dog for you.
  3. They are loyal, which means if you do not socialize them, this can translate to a dog that can be too protective if not trained.
  4. They weigh around 80-90 pounds and with all the energy can be a lot of dog inside a house. Lily, my dog, cleared many a table with her tail. She was so lovable, and when worn out, would sleep, but if she still had left over energy, the house could seem too small. They are very stubborn and require a strong leader and consistent training. Luckily they live to be 10-12 years which is quite long for a big dog, so you’re rewarded for the training time spent.
  5. They do suffer from some genetic health problems, such as dermoid sinus and hip dysplasia, so if you are not lucky enough to be handed yours as a surprise, seek out a reputable breeder. And also will need to have regular veterinary care as the breed has an unusually high rate of medical problems associated with subaortic stenosis and bloat.

As with any breed, researching the breeder, understanding the characteristics of the dog that you have welcomed into your home, training, veterinary care and exercise will make a Ridgeback a successful addition. More information can be found at the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States at [www.rrcus.org].

April 24, 2012

5 Signs of Feline Illness

Filed under: Cat Disease,Dr. Loridawn's Lessons — Tags: — Dr. Loridawn Gordon @ 12:28 am

Feline IllnessFrom my experience, cats fear visiting the vet as much as people fear going to the dentist.

Unfortunately, for our own good, a dentist trip is inevitable every now and again. It’s the same with cats: once in a while, it’s important to see the vet, even if it’s unpleasant.

Cats deserve a happy and healthy life.

The obstacle may not be the office itself. Maybe your cat hates traveling. That alone can be enough for some cats to make their owner’s lives very unpleasant.

I have seen plenty of cats that didn’t have a sick-looking hair on their body, but still needed attention. Then again, other kittens that I’ve helped care for were born sick from day one, making visits to me a regular occurrence.

Cat owners have to be wary about being over-protective of their pet’s health. Too many visits to the veterinarian won’t harm your cat, but your bank account will quickly feel the pain. Once in a while is just right.

In the interim, every cat owner should learn to recognize the signs of an impending feline illness.

Below I’ve listed the top five signs that your cat needs medical help. This should help give you a basic understanding of the most common feline health issues.

Excessive Vocalizations: When Loud Becomes Obnoxious

A cat that meows too much could possibly be in pain.

Or, it might just have a ‘talkative’ personality.

“Excessive” vocalization depends on a cat’s specific quirks. I once saw a cat named Ashley that meowed constantly in the mornings until she is fed, according to her owner. But other cats I’ve seen may never meow, unless in real distress.

So, if a normally quiet cat suddenly starts calling out in distress, it’s time to make a vet appointment.

Excessive Sleeping: Too Much Snoozing, Too Sick to Eat

Many cats sleep for a large portion of the day.

On average, felines sleep as many as 16 hours a day. However, cats can sleep excessively, too.

Sudden changes to a cat’s sleep routine could signal an illness. When accompanied by a fickle, non-existent appetite, consider it an even stronger warning.

Cat Colds: Kitten Coughs and Sneezes

Cat cold symptoms are very similar to human cold symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Swollen, crust-rimmed eyes
  • Oral sores

Thankfully, humans can’t contract a cold from a cat and vice-versa. Cats can, however, transmit viral and bacterial infections amongst each other rather well.

Excessive meowing and sleeping may accompany a cat cold. And that could mean a more serious health issue.

Fur Loss: Not Just a Sign of Old Age

A cat’s fur coat receives constant grooming and attention throughout the day.

Cats groom themselves and each other as often as they sleep, so if your cat is losing hair, it could signify a health problem. Ringworms could cause patchy hair loss in cats, but fleas can also cause excessive scratching, which then results in losing hair.

Surprisingly, cats can develop allergic reactions from flea infestations, too.

Urinary and Bowel Incontinence: Accidents Happen

Cats are very particular with their toilet arrangements. You should be concerned if your cat suddenly cannot make it to the litter box in time. It might be a cat just getting older: arthritis in cats may make climbing up to the litter box painful. Your cat has accidents outside because he or she can’t get in!

A dirty litter box can also be a fertile breeding ground for germs, especially in homes with multiple cats. First, try to maintain a clean litter box so your cat has the best chance of going in and using it. If the problem persists, it’s vet time.

Dr. Loridawn Gordon

April 21, 2012

Top 5 Weird Things Dogs Do That Are Actually Normal

Filed under: Dog Behavior — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 11:06 pm

dog behaviorWhen your dog starts chasing its own legs or humping your legs, sometimes it makes you wonder “Is my dog normal?” There certainly are weird things dogs do that they do to make us wonder what is normal. Here are a few:

1. Crotch Sniffing

Apparently, when it comes to this behavior, dogs can figure out a lot of information about other dogs by sniffing their genital areas. There might be a good reason that dogs think that this works on humans too, so they go about sniffing the same area.
Chasing Tail: Another crazy thing dogs do is chase their own tails, but it’s actually not so crazy. It’s their way of exploring themselves and have some fun and exercise at the same time.

2. Scooting

It is pretty common for a dog to scoot after doing their business, especially if they have loose stools, but if they do it frequently it is a good idea to take the dog to the vet. Compulsive disorders can be common among certain breeds of dogs and the same can be treated with medicines and behavioral modifications

3. Humping

When you find your dog humping against your sofa you might think, Is it normal for my dog to do this? Well, it is their method of relieving stress and can be found in both male and female dogs.

4. Eating Grass

Dogs are omnivores and this means they like vegetation along with their meat. It is considered normal when taken in moderation, but if your dog binges on grass it might be a sign of an upset stomach. A dog eating grass is normal.

5. Drinking From Toilet

A dog drinking from the toilet is normal, as the water might taste much fresher than stagnant water, as it gets changed with every flush.

Dogs can act crazy, but these behaviors are well within the normal range for dogs.

April 17, 2012

A Cat Health Problems Journal – Appreciating Life Indoors

Filed under: Cat Behavior — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 10:19 pm

cat personalities Sometimes I imagine how it would be to be a dog for one day. Not that I envy that silly drooling roommate of mine, not at all. It’s just that I might feel some sympathy for him this way. I just don’t understand him, and I can’t understand how different we are.

I mean, we’re both four-legged, we both were born the same way and we’re sharing the same destiny: being pets. Our similarities end here. He’d be lost without humans; he wouldn’t be able to hunt his own food but he’d have to beg for it, and let’s not begin to what it would do to his soul! He’d just die of sorrow. What a needy guy!

Not me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what humans do for me. And of course I enjoy being petted whenever I’m in the mood. But fortunately, I’ve got many abilities that would allow me to survive if for some reason I end up being on my own, like hunting my food, escape when being chased, and apparently, I have 9 lives (does this count as ability? I’m not sure).

There’s probably one benefit I get as a pet that I wouldn’t have if I were wandering around: good cat health. And this is worth to stay in. I’ve been told really crazy stories from life outdoors. I have this visitor every other month, who tells me how different (and exciting) an outdoors cat lives.
We talk to each other through my meshed window, so don’t think I’ll ever be able to follow him and check if all of it is true; he’s told me some nice experiences from the field. I think that at this point he has used four out of his nine lives, but he doesn’t seem to care.

outdoors catAnyway, he’s mentioned how sad it is to see a friend dying after developing bad health conditions that might have started as cat colds and ended as really bad infections (I’ve heard that respiratory infections in cats must be treated by professionals). What’s worst, if one of the gang gets sick, it will be most likely that the rest will get infected, so sometimes they leave the poor sick friend on his own. That must be really scary, being left to die alone.
There’s also other risk of wandering outdoors: humans. What my friend told me was a little difficult to believe because all humans I know are kind with me. But he says that a stray cat should always be careful with what he eats for this might be poisoned. Apparently, not all humans like animals, especially cats. I couldn’t believe my pointy ears.

I hope my friend gets lucky and someday a charitable soul picks him out of streets. In the meantime, I’m not planning on going anywhere. I’ve decided to keep my thoughts to myself, maybe write them down on a notebook and then forget about it. Whenever I start wondering about becoming an adventurer I try to remember those stories.

That’s why I’m grateful in some way when my owners take me to the vet, although, is not a pleasant trip. Especially when both my roommate and I go together, his yells are unbelievable. After all, is no fun to have all your entire body examined and touched by a complete stranger…but it is worse for my dog friend; I certainly wouldn’t like to be him.

At the end, I have some special tricks, as Gary Smith said once “Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, nap in the sunbeam. When you go to the vet, pee on your owner.”

April 13, 2012

Six Common Causes Of Dog Arthritis

Filed under: Dog Arthritis — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 6:48 pm

old sick dogArthritis is not just a human affliction, and dog owners are often surprised when their vet diagnoses their pet with canine rheumatoid arthritis. Early warning signs such as slowing down, being unable to stand in one spot for long periods of time, and joint stiffness can often go unnoticed until it becomes severe. Once a dog is diagnosed many pet owners begin to wonder how their dog came down with the disease. While not every cause will apply to every dog, there are some common causes of dog arthritis that will be relevant to the majority of them, and knowing the cause will help determine if there are any canine arthritis remedies suitable to try.


Older dogs are more prone to getting canine rheumatoid arthritis. As dogs age the normal wear and tear on their joints can cause cartilage to deteriorate. In addition, older dogs tend to be less active which can contribute to stiffness along with less lubricated joints. However, not all dogs that are diagnosed with arthritis are old. Sometimes younger dogs, which have some of the other traits present, can also be afflicted.


Obesity in dogs is one of the chief causes of canine rheumatoid arthritis, along with other diseases and health problems. Overweight dogs place additional strain on their bones and joints that is not present in a dog of average weight. Think of a small wooden table with a few books placed on top. The strain on the table is not so great but if you were to add a few more books, heavy weights, iron chairs, and even your dog on top, the legs of the table will soon become weakened. Each additional pound that is added places greater stress, and at some point the legs of the table will give out. The same is true of your dog.

Poor Nutrition

For bones and joints to develop properly, a dog needs to receive the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals. A dog whose diet lacks in these can develop arthritis later in life. In addition, if poor nutrition leads to weight gain and obesity they are of course at a risk to develop arthritis.


Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop arthritis. According to the ASPCA, rheumatoid arthritis in dogs is more prevalent in larger dogs like Great Danes and Bull Mastiffs, but other breeds like dachshunds are also at risk due to breeding patterns.  It’s also important to note that some breeders are not educated in dog breeding and these dogs can especially be prone to diseases such as arthritis.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic trait, but is listed here separately because pet owners often hear hip dysplasia and canine rheumatoid arthritis mentioned together. Hip dysplasia is not arthritis but it can lead to arthritis in dogs. According to PetMD, hip dysplasia is caused when the hip joints do not develop abnormally and do not fit together with the bones as they are meant to. If hip dysplasia is severe, there can be a lot of pain and arthritis is likely to occur. Some of the same breeds that are prone to arthritis are also prone to hip dysplasia, and many times it is the cause of arthritis in these breeds.

Previous Injuries

If a previous injury has happened on or near the joints, the chances of a dog developing dog joint pain is greater. Injuries can cause a weakening of the joints, and any time stress is placed on this area, over time arthritis can take hold.

Disclaimer: 1st Pet Naturals is an education resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet is taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.