Posts by Santiago Woods

How to curb obesity in your guinea pig

Guinea pigs are charmers—with their cute faces and squeaks, it’s difficult to resist overfeeding them. The digestive system of the guinea pig is such that it needs to be constantly moving in order for the guinea pig to be in good health and stay alive. So how do you put a guinea pig on a diet if they can’t stop eating?  

Health problems

As with all other creatures, obesity in guinea pigs can be damaging to their health. They are quite fragile creatures and even the smallest thing can overwhelm them. Obesity in guinea pigs can exacerbate:

  • Arthritis.
  • Difficulty eating caecotrophs. Caecotrophs are the soft poos that guinea pigs expel and immediately eat. They boost their immune system, aid their digestion and are an important part of your guinea pig’s health. If a pig is obese, they may struggle to reach their anus to take the caecotroph.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Everyday stress. Guinea pigs are flight animals and extra weight will make it difficult for them to run away quickly, resulting in stress and potentially further breathing troubles and heart attacks.  

Solutions

If you have an obese pig, you can’t just cut down on their food as this will damage their digestive system. If your piggy is getting dangerously podgy, try these tips.

  • Exercise. Every guinea pig should have ‘floor time’, a specified playtime when they can escape their usual home and go exploring and play in a safe environment. But an obese piggy won’t be interested in playing. So instead make sure you place the food bowl at the opposite end of your pig’s home to its water bottle. Guinea pigs will eat and drink and then go back to eating, so this will mean they have to cover ground to get to each one.  
  • Cut back on the nuggets. Talking of the food bowl, cut back on the amount of nuggets you feed your guinea pig. Even specially formulated guinea pig nuggets (which they should be given) contain fattening ingredients. Good quality hay is the most important part of a guinea pigs diet, so replace any lost nuggets with plenty of hay.  
  • Feed the right vegetables. Fresh vegetables should be given to guinea pigs daily but watch out for the veggies that are high in sugar, such as carrots. Broccoli and cabbage, on the other hand, can cause uncomfortable bloating so try to keep these and the sugary vegetables and fruit as treats and feed sparingly. Bell peppers, which are high in vitamin C, can be fed daily and mixed with romaine lettuce, fresh grass, celery and cucumber. Experiment to see what your pigs like and design a menu for them.  

There is no ideal weight for a guinea pig as each is individual. Speak with a vet like Baw Baw Paws Vet Clinic if you are concerned and they will be able to give you advice and suggestions on how to keep your piggy a healthy weight.

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Understanding Your Puppy’s Dietary Needs

Puppies have dietary needs that differ from adult dogs, so you should always choose a food that’s specially formulated for young dogs. Your puppy still has a lot of physical growth and brain development ahead of them, so a balanced diet is vital for their long-term health. This article will help you to ensure that you are feeding your puppy correctly.

Signs Of Nutritional Deficiency

Your puppy will display a number of physical symptoms if their diet is lacking in key nutrients. Be aware that your puppy may not have had the best diet before they came to live with you, so try to be especially vigilant during the settling in period.

One of the first indicators of nutritional deficiency is digestive problems. Constipation or diarrhoea can be a sign that your puppy’s digestive system is not coping well with their diet. They may have food allergies, which can prevent them from absorbing some nutrients, so track how long it takes for them to experience digestive upset after eating and discuss their diet with your vet.

Dramatic changes in weight can also indicate there’s a problem with your puppy’s diet. If your puppy is gaining weight and is constantly hungry, they may be overeating because they are lacking in key nutrients. Nutrition can also suffer if your dog just doesn’t like the type of food you are giving them. In this situation, they will not consume enough calories for the growth and development they have ahead of them, which can lead to weak bones and impaired cognitive functioning.

Essential Nutrients

Your puppy requires a diet rich in the following nutrients:

Protein

Puppies require more protein in their diet than older dogs as protein supports the development of new tissue. Healthy skin, nails and hair are all dependent on consuming enough protein, and the best type of protein for puppies is meat as they can’t absorb vegetable protein as easily.

Calcium

Calcium is required for the development of healthy teeth and strong bones. Opt for puppy food that contains calcium, but don’t be tempted to give your dog synthetic calcium supplements as they can upset digestion. If you feel your puppy needs a calcium boost, you can stir a finely ground eggshell into their food once a week.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants play a key role in strengthening the immune system. Natural antioxidants found in dog food include citric acid, vitamin E and rosemary. Some brands use synthetic antioxidants, which may include butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and ethoxyquin. Consider whether you want your dog to have access to natural antioxidants, and ask your vet how you can support your puppy’s immune system.

Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids promote healthy brain development and have anti-inflammatory properties, but are only available to dogs through diet. Check that you’re feeding your puppy a brand of food that contains evening primrose oil or fish oils. If your puppy’s diet is lacking in essential fatty acids they may develop a red rash or dry patches of skin.

High-quality food is a necessary expense when caring for a puppy as their diet will have a direct impact on their long-term health. A vet like Warnbro Veterinary Hospital can recommend a brand of food that will provide the best nutrition for your puppy based on their breed and age.

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3 Tips For Preparing Your Dog For Their Stay At The Kennels

Are you worried about using boarding kennels for the first time? It’s natural to be concerned about how your buddy will cope during their stay, but once you’ve found a kennel with a great reputation, there are a few steps you can take to get your dog ready for their stay. Here are three tips:

Take Them For A Few Visits

Visiting the kennels a few times will help to reduce the anxiety your dog may feel during their first day of boarding. A good facility will be happy to work with you to ensure your dog is as prepared as possible for a change in environment.

A few short visits in the weeks leading up to their stay will allow them to get to know the kennel staff and get used to the noises. If there’s an empty bay during your visit, ask if you can sit in it with your dog. This will allow them to understand that being put into a kennel bay is not a punishment.

Create The Kennel Environment At Home

First-time boarders can find it difficult to go from having the run of the house to the relatively small space in a kennel bay. You can help your dog prepare by creating a kennel bay environment at home, which will acclimatise them to small space living in an environment they feel safe.

The easiest way to do this is to buy a dog crate or cage a few weeks before boarding them. The crate should have enough room for your dog to stand and turn, and you should use a thick blanket or soft bed on the floor of the crate to ensure they are comfortable. The crate should never be used to punish your dog as the idea is to build a positive association with the crate and normalise it for them.

Initially, just leave the crate open in your main living area and let your dog get used to it being there. After a few days, start putting your pet’s favourite toys in the crate so they will have to go into the crate to retrieve the toys when they want to play. The next step is to quietly close the crate door when you see them going into the crate, but open it as soon as they want out. This process allows your dog to see that the crate is a safe place and no big deal.

Gradually start leaving the door shut for longer periods of time, but stay in the room with your dog. Once your dog is comfortable being in the crate for several minutes with the door closed, you can start leaving the room, but build up the time gradually and start with just a few seconds. Praise your dog each time you let them out of the crate, which will help them understand what you require of them.

Pack Their Favourite Things

A favourite blanket, a few of their own toys and the brand of food they are used to will help your dog to feel more settled and less anxious. You may also want to give them an item of your clothing with your scent on it, which they are likely to find comforting.

Not all boarding kennels place an emphasis on hand-on time with their boarders, but a friendly staff member playing with your dog and giving them a good belly rub will really help them to feel safe and settled. Ask prospective kennels what their policy is on one-on-one time with the dogs.

If possible, create a plan several weeks before you need to board your dog and make the process as much fun for your pet as possible. For more information, contact a company like Cottage Kennels & Cattery.

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