Oct 212016

Cat and Dog Skin Problems


Does your dog (or cat) have skin problems? Is it continually scratching, biting and licking at itself….and you don’t know why? Well, take comfort, you are not alone.

There are really six main reasons why dogs and cats will itch and scratch. The bottom line is… don’t let them suffer! There IS a diagnosis to be made and then you and your veterinarian will be better able to select the proper treatment plan.

Itching and scratching in dogs: One of the most common calls made to any animal hospital in America goes something like this: “Doctor, I’ve got to get this dog in right away. He’s driving us nuts. All he does is itch and scratch, bite and lick and he’s keeping us up all night!”

My thought is that if the pet’s caretakers are being driven “nuts” by the dog’s scratching and licking, how awful must the poor dog feel?

This kind of call to the veterinarian refers to a fairly serious case of pruritus. In reality there is a wide spectrum of causes and severity of itching and scratching in dogs with skin and coat trouble. Some dogs can spend hours romping through fields, digging holes, and rolling in the grass and still have no after-effects at all. Others, kept indoors and fed an excellent diet, may have severe skin disorders.

Let’s see if we can make some sense of this complicated and aggravating situation and try to answer the question “Why does my dog itch-and-scratch-bite-and-lick?”

There are six main categories of dermatitis we veterinarians have to consider whenever a cat or dog skin problem — or “skin case” — is presented. Most skin and coat abnormalities can be defined by or placed in one of these categories:


Keeping in mind that there are entire textbooks written about these categories, you might understand why veterinarians often take a deep breath before entering the exam room wherein awaits a patient with a “skin problem.” Let’s look at each category, starting with the simplest (Environmental Dermatitis) and finishing with the most challenging (Neurogenic Dermatitis).
1. Environmental Dermatitis

Patients in this category are physically and nutritionally normal, but present with signs of itching and scratching, hair loss and skin irritation. By careful discourse with the owner regarding diet, activity, medical history and environment, and by performing a thorough physical exam, the veterinarian can rule out the other categories of dermatitis. Through the analysis of the patient’s history, the veterinarian will discover that the patient spends time swimming or excavating gopher holes or romping through fields where thistles seem prevalent.

Many dogs are very sensitive to simple lawn grasses. And by matching what is visible on the patient’s skin with a probable environmental irritant — the cause of the cat or dog’s skin problem can be determined and corrective measures taken.

An example is Moist Eczema, often called a “Hot Spot”. These skin lesions often occur as a result of moisture on the skin surface from rain, pond or lake water. Minute scratches on the skin from, for example, a clipper blade, may trigger other cases. Especially in dense coated dogs or dogs where there is an accumulation of mats or shedding hair, moisture on the skin may remain long enough to allow superficial bacteria to reproduce (sort of like an organic soup!) and create an infection.

Some cases of Moist Eczema will spread very rapidly and require rather aggressive therapy to correct. Contact with plastics can also cause environmental dermatitis.


2. Nutritional Dermatitis

When food is the issue, correction of these cases of dog and cat itching and scratching should be a “no brainer,” but even today, many veterinarians and pet owners really believe the “Complete and Balanced” statement on pet food labels.

Unfortunately, many dogs and cats live their entire lives in less than optimum health because their caretaker feeds the least expensive food they can find … and feels secure in doing so because of that “Complete and Balanced” statement.

In my thirty-five years of practice, I have seen hundreds of dogs and cats whose lives changed dramatically, and where the pet’s caretakers were shocked and surprised at the remarkable difference in their pets, by the simple act of providing the pet with a high quality, meat-based diet.

You can read more on dog and cat food protein and overall pet nutrition for some common sense information about sound feeding principles.

Without proper nourishment skin problems in dogs and cats is just one of the possible reactions; the animal’s entire body, not just its skin and coat, will be continuously in a state of stress. High quality meat-based dog foods seldom, if ever, create the kind of skin and coat irritation in most animals.

If you feed dry commercial dog food, be certain that the first ingredient listed is meat such as beef, poultry, lamb or fish. Specialized diets are widely available that are generally better than others in several key categories:

Quality Dog Food
* All Natural Dog Food – Shop Natural Dog Food
* Grain Free Dog Food – Shop Grain Free Dog Food
* Organic Dog Food – Shop Organic Dog Food
* Veterinary Prescription Diet Dog Food – Shop Veterinary Prescription Diet Dog Food
Quality Cat Food
* All Natural Cat Food – Shop All Natural Cat Food
* Grain Free Cat Food – Shop Grain Free Cat Food
* Organic Cat Food – Shop Organic Cat Food
* Veterinary Prescription Diet Cat Food – Shop Veterinary Prescription Diet Cat Food

Will supplements help? Absolutely! But if the diet is a high quality, meat-based brand, the need for supplements is much less critical. It has been my experience that supplements such as Omega Fatty Acids, Vitamins and table scraps will always help a dog that is eating a generic, commercial dry dog food; and on occasion, supplements may even show positive benefits in a dog eating a high quality diet.

Many types of cat or dog skin problems are avoided if the animal consumes an optimum diet. In some cases, adding a supplement, such as an omega fatty acid supplement, is the key factor in avoiding repeated episodes of hot spots and other skin problems.

If your dog or cat seems to lack good coat and skin health, consider upgrading the diet to a meat-based ingredient formula and adding a supplement.

3. Parasitic Dermatitis – Ticks and Fleas

The most common response a pet caretaker makes when they see their dog scratching and biting at itself is “I think he’s got fleas”. And sometimes this guess is correct. Dark, copper colored and wingless, and about the size of the head of a pin, fleas are big enough that they can be seen scurrying along the skin surface trying to hide within the sheltering forest of fur. (Read more about fleas and what to do about them here)

There are a number of highly effective and safe flea preventatives. Fleas are ubiquitous, but an understanding of their life cycle, where they hide in the dog’s environment, and utilizing modern pharmacology breakthroughs, no dog needs to be “driven crazy” with itching and scratching, hair loss, infections, scabs and other skin problems as a result of flea infestation.

Repeated exposure to fleas can trigger a hypersensitivity (an abnormal, excessive reaction) to the bite of even a single flea. Every veterinarian has been fooled into making a diagnosis of “allergy”, not even suspecting fleas, simply because no fleas were discovered at the time of the physical exam. This is a classic example of a Parasitic Dermatitis (flea bites) triggering a complicated Allergic Dermatitis (due to the flea saliva).

Interestingly, the all-too-common parasite called the tick rarely triggers itching and scratching or allergic reactions, but on occasion will leave an ulcerative lesion that is notoriously slow to heal.

Chiggers, deer flies, and gnats (sometimes called No-See-Ums) can be considered nuisances and generally do not create remarkable systemic skin problems. Local treatment with first aid ointments generally is successful.

Cheyletiella mites look like tiny spiders under a magnifying glass and are often called “Walking Dandruff” because upon close inspection it seems like little flakes of dry skin are actually moving about. Partly because they live on the surface of the skin, these tiny critters can be eliminated easily by using any common flea shampoo. And here’s a creepy thought … Cheyletiella mites can be transmitted to humans where they create, just like on the dog, alopecia (hair loss) with a dry, flaky, slightly pruritic skin surface.

Sarcoptic mites are nasty critters! Also called scabies or red mange, they create very intense itching and scratching, alopecia, and inflamed skin with multiple small scabs often present. Sarcoptic mite infestation, more than any other entity, is frequently misdiagnosed as Allergic Dermatitis by even very competent and experienced veterinarians. There is a good discussion of Scabies here).

Many veterinary dermatology specialists will not accept an uncontrolled “Allergic Dermatitis” referral case unless the referring veterinarian has first ruled out Sarcoptic mites by actually treating the dog for scabies. Do as many skin scrapings as you like, you’re not going to find these little rascals because, unlike most skin parasites, these burrow right down into the skin. (Even ticks simply hold on to the surface of the skin while they feed; ticks do not burrow into the skin.)

Unfortunately, many dogs are treated with cortisone for a supposed allergic dermatitis when in fact these Sarcoptic mites are the cause of the pruritic, inflamed skin… the unnecessary cortisone eventually worsens the situation.

Sarcoptic mites happen to have preferences … certain types reproduce and thrive on dogs, but they do not thrive on other species such as humans. Nevertheless, Sarcoptic mites from dogs can infest humans so if your dog has signs of scabies and you are itching and have little scabs, make sure you see your dermatologist

Mention your concern about scabies mites. If your physician makes a diagnosis of scabies, your next call should be to the veterinarian to make an appointment to discuss the possibility of Sarcoptic mites in your dog (the one that’s been getting all those cortisone shots for “allergy”).

Then there are Demodex mites — also called “mange.” These little rascals do live and reproduce just under the skin surface in the tiny hair follicles and oil glands of the skin.

Unlike Sarcoptic mites, Demodex mites can be seen on a skin scraping viewed under the microscope. They look like tiny cigars with stubby legs stuck to the front half of their body.

Demodex is most commonly seen in young dogs. In adult dogs, Demodex cases seem to be associated with individuals that are stressed from disease, poor nutrition, immune disorders or a harsh environment.

There is evidence that many cases of Demodex have a genetically transmitted immune protein deficit underlying its manifestation; the dog’s breeder should be informed of any cases of Demodex mites.

If the dog is otherwise healthy, there are effective treatment protocols for Demodex. On the “itch scale”, Demodex causes very little itching and scratching. On the “baldness scale” Demodex creates mottled and patchy alopecia.

4. Infectious Dermatitis

Bacterial, fungal and yeast organisms are notoriously obnoxious pathogens causing coat and skin problems in dogs (and cats). Fungal organisms are called dermatophytes. One type, called Microsporum canis, causes non-pruritic, circular patches of hair loss, often called ringworm. Transmissible to other dogs (and occasionally some strains of fungi can be transmitted to humans) your veterinarian can diagnose and treat skin fungal infections in the office.

Yeasts, most notably a common contaminant of inflamed and environmentally stressed skin called Malassezia pachydermatitis, can irritate an already diseased skin surface. Especially notorious for creating long term, low-grade external otitis, Malassezia does cause itching and scratching and inflammation.

Yeast infections typically create greasy, odorous and pruritic signs in affected dogs. The skin is stressed by the waste products of the organisms and responds by releasing histamine — which triggers further inflammation, itching and scratching and cell damage.

If a yeast infection is diagnosed, there’s generally something else going on such as hypothyroidism, chronic administration of cortisone medication or dietary fatty acid deficiency.

Bacterial dermatitis rarely occurs spontaneously. Normal healthy skin has tremendous numbers of a variety of bacteria present all the time. If something upsets that balance, such as antibiotics eliminating one or two types, the remaining types have a free-for-all! Anything that damages the normal, healthy, intact skin will hamper the skin’s defense mechanisms. Any Environmental Dermatitis, such as contact with grass, plastic, an abrasion or moisture, can adversely affect the skin’s defensive barriers and opportunistic bacteria then have their way. Parasitic damage to the skin will allow invasion by bacteria and trigger the body’s healing defense mechanisms.

A common skin problem in dogs, Infectious Dermatitis often is so irritating that dogs will lick continuously at the lesion and undo any healing that has taken place. A moist, sticky, inflamed skin lesion along with hair loss is characteristic of bacterial dermatitis. These can spread rapidly and even be transposed to other areas of the skin through biting, licking, and scratching of previously uninfected areas.

The treatment for Infectious Dermatitis often includes clipping the hair from the area to allow the air to assist drying. The application of gentle topical medication is helpful as is the administration of oral antibiotics to fight the organisms that are deeply invading the skin.

Yes, cortisone may assist in alleviating the stinging or itchy sensation, but may also suppress normal healing processes. Whenever an infection is present, the decision to use cortisone needs to be very carefully evaluated. A better choice may be antihistamines orally.

5. Allergic Dermatitis

I’ll be honest. There’s no way to cover this topic in one article. Veterinarians spend entire weekends and lots of money attending seminars on this topic alone! It is common, it can be lifelong, it is a challenge to diagnose, and once identified it can be resistant to attempts at treatment. All the other categories of dermatitis must be ruled out (especially those elusive Sarcoptic mites) before a diagnosis of Allergic Dermatitis can be made. Food ingredients, synthetic and natural fibers, medications and pharmaceutical products, plant material and even dust all can trigger an Allergic Dermatitis.

Even common bacteria on the dog’s skin can provoke an allergic reaction to themselves! These cases of sensitivity to normal resident bacteria are very challenging to correct. No matter what kind of allergic dermatitis afflicts the dog, the ultimate cellular cause of the inflammation and resulting “itch-and-scratch-bite-and-lick” activity has a common cause … the release of histamine from skin Mast cells, the deposition of antigen/antibody protein complexes within tissues, the dilation of some blood vessels and constriction of others, the release of toxic chemicals from broken intracellular structures, and chemical and physical irritation of sensory nerve endings.

To what are dogs allergic? Take a look around you right now. Odds are that your dog could be allergic to half-a-dozen different substances in the very room you sit; that doesn’t even include microscopic substances in the air you and your dog breath! Food, carpeting, blankets, dust mites, mold spores in the air, pollen, plastic food dishes, furniture stuffing and ornamental plants all have the potential to trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. Food allergies are so common that pet food manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in research, development, promotion and delivery of “antigen specific” diets to help in the therapy of dogs with food allergies.

How do allergies develop? Each individual’s biochemistry is determined by millions of genetic variables. On occasion, an individual’s various immune responses may over-react to a certain material and “learn” to recognize this substance in case of future contact with it.

The offending agent is called an antigen. Flea saliva is a good example of an antigen that triggers “flea bite” hypersensitivity. When an antigen makes contact with the dog, the dog’s immune defenses – all primed and ready for a fight since it has previously identified the antigen as an enemy – set to work to disarm the antigen.

Unfortunately, during the course of the battle (called an antigen/antibody reaction) side effects of the battle can cause tissue irritation, inflammation, swelling and cell destruction. That’s when we notice skin problems in dogs and when they go into the “itch-and-scratch-bite-and-lick” mode! There’s a biochemical war going on within the dog!

Immunologists have classified a number of different types of allergic reactions. Skin and blood tests are common methods of attempting to identify what the patient is allergic to. Probably the most common type of Allergic Dermatitis seen in dogs is Atopic Dermatitis. This situation is triggered by a number of antigens including inhaled substances such as molds, dust, pollens and other static and airborne microscopic organic substances.

Dogs with Atopy lick and chew at their paws  and scratch their face, eyelids and ears. This skin problem can be very troubling for dogs and frustrating for the owner. One minute the dog may look and feel normal, the next it will chew its paw or face raw from the intense itching and scratching. .

Treatment of Allergic Dermatitis includes topical medicated soothing baths, ointments and sprays. The use of oral antihistamines can neutralize some of the destructive effects of internally released histamine.

More effective in alleviating the discomfort of allergies is cortisone. This potent hormone, normally secreted by the adrenal glands, can be manufactured commercially. Numerous derivatives of cortisone are used in pill, injectable, spray, liquid and ointment form. Caution: If you are sent home with a prescription for cortisone, or your dog has simply been given “a cortisone shot to stop the itching,” your dog may ultimately be worse off than before if the true diagnosis happens to be an unrecognized case of Sarcoptic mites!

Be patient, yes, but be persistent, too. If your dog is itching, scratching, and licking, or if the skin and coat are not healthy appearing, you and your dog need to diagnose what type of skin problem it is before treatment is started.

A key point to remember is this: There is no cure for allergies! All we can do is avoid the food, material or parasite that is triggering the immune response, desensitize the patient through immune modulation techniques, and assure that the patient is eating a high quality diet. There are a number of products that address allergies in dogs and allergies in cats that may help: Hypo-Allergenic Food, Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo, Hypo-Allergenic Dog Treats, Hypo-Allergenic Cat Treats, etc.

6. Neurogenic Dermatitis

This group presents a major challenge to diagnose and treat. As a veterinarian I know I have classified a number of cases as “Neurogenic” simply because I have ruled out all the other categories! There’s nothing left but to blame the poor dog for all that incessant licking and chewing at itself! The most commonly seen form of Neurogenic Dermatitis is called Acral Lick Dermatitis, Lick Granuloma or canine neurodermatitis. Read more about lick granulomas by clicking here.

Although rarely seen in cats, in the dog something creates an impulse to lick at a specific area of skin. Characterized by persistent, obsessive licking and chewing at the target area, lick granulomas may have an unknown origin.

Commonly, though, most cases have a suspected cause such as boredom, separation anxiety, frustration, confinement, or even a minor physical origin such as a tiny abrasion that captivates the dog’s interest. The dog persists in traumatizing the area, which is usually confined to an easily accessible forelimb, carpus (wrist) or ankle area, and never allows the skin to heal.

Repeated episodes of self-mutilation, partial healing, then repeated trauma and healing, result in severe and disfiguring scarring. Deep bacterial infections are common and permanent skin damage results. A specialist in dermatology and a behaviorist may be the dog’s best friends in these cases of Neurogenic Dermatitis.

In summary, keep in mind that any dog with skin problems or whose skin and coat are not in optimal health needs attention because that dog surely does not feel well. Be patient with your veterinarian because each category of “Dermatitis” must be evaluated, categories need to be ruled out, and a final diagnosis needs to be established BEFORE proper, effective treatment begins. Expect laboratory work, skin scrapings and blood tests to be required to reach that diagnosis.

If your dog is suffering from Chronic Dermatitis, all is not hopeless. Be persistent in trying to identify the cause and then pursuing a treatment. And do not be bashful about requesting referral to a specialist in veterinary dermatology. These experts work with severely affected patients on a daily basis and can be an excellent resource for assistance to those poor dogs that seem incessantly to itch-and-scratch-bite-and-lick. Resolving these cases invariably puts a smile on the veterinarian’s face, the pet owners face, AND the dog’s!



 Posted by at 2:22 pm
Oct 112016

1/2 price cat veterinary services and cat boarding.
To celebrate the opening of our new cattery in our Kildare clinic we are offering 1/2 price on cat services till November 1st
Contact us today to make an appointment.
Kildare 045521507
Portarlington 0578640741





















 Posted by at 4:43 pm
Oct 112016


Our Dog Kennel area has been completely redecorated following an extreamily busy summer/autumn season.


The kennel area is now fully ready for the winter season.

We look forward to welcoming your pet.







 Posted by at 9:10 am
Oct 112016


We are excited and delighted to be announcing the purchase of  a new digital Radiology Machine.

This amazing service differs from traditional x-ray in that the image quality is superior. This allows us to make treatment decisions for your pet in a more informed and efficient manner.

The results are displayed on a high-definition screen for analysis. Features of the computer program allow clinicians to manipulate the picture to create the most ideal image possible.

What this means for our patients are: better pictures, less time undergoing imaging,  more accurate diagnosis and a quicker turnaround for our referral service.

We are extremely pleased with this new cutting edge technology and look forward to being able share it with you on your next visit!



 Posted by at 9:07 am
Oct 072016

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? Let’s face it, it can be a downright nightmare. Forgo the stress and dangers this year by following these 10 easy tips.


1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets.

All forms of chocolate — especially baking or dark chocolate — can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


2. Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween.

Surprisingly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless.

3. Keep pets confined and away from the door.

Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends. Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxious and growl at innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your dog or cat in a secure room away from the front door will also prevent them from darting outside into the night … a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

4. Keep your outdoor cats inside several days before and several days after Halloween.

Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution.

5. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach.

Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities. Intestinal blockage can even occur if large pieces are swallowed. And speaking of pumpkins …

6. Don’t keep lit pumpkins around pets.

Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking it over and causing a fire.

7. Keep wires and electric light cords out of reach.

If chewed, your pet could cut himself or herself on shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

8. Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know they’ll love it.

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe or bark and meow.


9. Try on pet costumes before the big night.

If they seem distressed, allergic, or show abnormal behavior, consider letting them go in their “birthday suit”. Festive bandanas usually work for party poopers, too.

10. IDs, please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that they will be returned. Just make sure the information is up-to-date.

11. Fireworks

A large percentage of dogs and less so of cats become stressed or fearful around Halloween as they are exposed to excess noise, excited children, costumes, visitors etc.  This can also be a very stressful time for owners, many of whom are unaware as to how to help their pets.

The first step is to make preparations well in advance of Halloween.

Begin by ensuring your pet has a safe haven or a den to retreat to. This must be an area they feel secure in. It should ideally be an internal room, easily accessible at all times and away from windows or doors. The den can be a place that your pet already uses and is adapted to be comfortable, dark and quiet as possible. It could also be a manmade temporary option such as a cardboard box or crate.

Preparing a den in advance allows your pet to get used to the area and accept it as a safe place. Whatever format the den is, it is advisable to use towels and/or blankets to cover the area in order to dim the sounds and lights of the fireworks or bangers.

Dogs that have shown signs of noise sensitivity in previous years, should be taken to the vet, to assess if medication would help them cope with the firework season

– Be aware that older dogs may find noises more challenging than in previous years as they start to find changes to routine difficult

–  Keep pets indoors during Halloween

– Soothing or punishing a dog may increase the intensity of the experience or reward inappropriate behaviour. Distracting them with a chew, toy, puzzle feeder or game may be helpful

– Feed dogs early in the evening as anxious dogs may not want to eat

– Ensure dogs have been taken out for a walk and to the toilet before it gets dark to avoid the need to be taken out later

– Ensure the dog has access to their water bowl at all time as anxious dogs can pant more

– Ensure windows, doors and cat flaps remain closed during the Halloween season to prevent them escaping and this will help to reduce noise also. Microchipping your pet and ensuring the details are registered with a recognised database can help in the event of your pet managing to escape.

– Keep curtains closed, have the TV or music on to help drown the noise and keep the dog company. Doors with glass panels can be covered with towels or blankets to block out the flashes

 Posted by at 2:31 pm
Oct 072016



Some cats just won’t give peace a chance. There are several reasons that cats might not get along. The most common is undersocialization—a lack of pleasant experiences with other cats early in life. If your cat grew up as the only cat, with little or no contact with other felines, he may react strongly when he’s finally introduced to another cat because he’s afraid of the unknown, he lacks feline social skills, and he dislikes the disruption to his routine and environment. Cats tend to prefer consistency over change. This is especially true if the change involves a newcomer to your cat’s well-established territory. Cats are a territorial species. While some cats overlap their territories a great deal, others prefer to keep a good distance from their neighbors. Two unrelated males or two unrelated females may have a particularly hard time sharing space. Another cause of strife may be a feline personality clash. Cats usually don’t get to pick their housemates, and sometimes we humans just don’t select the right match. In some cases, however, cats get along just fine until something scary or unpleasant (like fireworks or the odor of the veterinary clinic) becomes associated with the other cat. In other cases, relationships change as the cats mature. If one cat reaches the age of one to three years old and then trouble brews, social maturation may be a factor.

Any sudden change in your cat’s behavior could be an indication of an underlying medical condition. If you notice any unusual physical or behavioral symptoms, or if your cat stops eating, please see your veterinarian right away.

Other Types of Aggression to Consider

Maternal Aggression

A female cat with a litter of kittens may hiss, growl, chase, swat or try to bite another cat who approaches, even one with whom she was formerly friendly. Maternal aggression usually subsides once the kittens are weaned. It’s a good idea to spay maternally aggressive cats to prevent future litters and future aggression problems.

Play Aggression

It’s common for kittens and young cats to engage in rough, active play because all feline play consists of mock aggression. Cats stalk, chase, sneak, pounce, swat, kick, scratch, ambush, attack and bite each other—all in good fun. If they’re playing, it’s reciprocal. They change roles frequently. Their ears are typically forward in play, their claws may be out but they don’t cause damage, and their bodies lean forward not back.

Suggestions for Managing Your Cats

  • Never let the cats “fight it out.” Cats don’t resolve their issues through fighting, and the fighting usually just gets worse. Interrupt aggression with a loud clap of your hands or spray from a water gun.
  • Neuter the cats. Intact males are particularly prone to aggressive behavior.
  • Separate their resources. Reduce competition between the cats by providing multiple, identical food bowls, beds and litter boxes in different areas of your house.
  • Provide additional perches. More hiding spots and perches will allow your cats to space themselves out as they prefer.
  • Don’t try to calm or soothe your aggressive cat, just leave her alone and give her space. If you come close, she could turn and redirect her aggression toward you.
  • Reward desired behavior. Praise or toss treats to reward your cats when you see them interacting in a friendly manner.
  • Try pheromones. You can purchase a product that mimics a natural cat odor (which humans can’t smell), that may reduce tensions. Use a diffuser while the aggression issue is being resolved


If the Aggression Is Mild or Between Two Cats Who Used to Get Along

  • Separate your cats in different rooms for several days or weeks, with separate beds, bowls and litter boxes. This way they can hear and smell each other, but don’t have to interact.
  • Place the cats’ food bowls on opposite sides of a closed door. This will encourage them to be close together while they’re doing something that makes them feel good.
  • Each day, have the cats switch rooms so that they both experience some variation and get access to each other’s scents. You may need an assistant to do this safely.
  • After several days, if both of your cats appear relaxed, crack the door open one inch. If they remain calm, open the door a bit more, then a bit more. If the cats remain relaxed, they may be ready to be together again. But if they react with any signs of aggressive behavior—such as growling, spitting, hissing, swatting, etc.—separate them again and follow the gradual reintroduction instructions below.
  • Some cat parents have had success with rubbing a bit of tuna juice on their cats’ bodies and heads. The cats become so occupied with grooming, which is a relaxing behavior, that they’re less likely to be bothered by the other cat. If things go really well, the cats may actually groom each other because they can’t reach the juice on their own heads.

If the Aggression Is Severe or Occurs Between Cats Who Have Never Gotten Along

  • Separate your cats as described above but for a longer period of time, and reintroduce them at a much slower pace, like several days to a few weeks.
  • Instead of simply opening the door to reintroduce the cats, provide daily reintroduction sessions that very gradually move the cats closer and closer together under supervision.
  • During the sessions, you might find it easier to control your cats with harnesses and leashes, or by confining one or both of your cats in crates.
  • During the sessions, keep both cats distracted with food or play. Start out with them far apart. Keep the sessions short. Make it easy for them to succeed.
  • Separate your cats between reintroduction sessions to prevent a relapse.
  • Only when your cats can peacefully eat and play within a couple feet of each other should they be left alone together unsupervised. Trust them only for short periods together at first and increase their times together gradually.
  • Behavioral medication may be helpful in reducing a domineering cat’s aggression and a skittish cat’s fear, making the reintroduction go more smoothly and quickly
 Posted by at 2:30 pm
Sep 292016


Burns Sensitive Treats are an expansion of Burns ever-popular Sensitive+ food range.

A new healthy treat option for dogs


Our Sensitive Treats were formulated by veterinary surgeon John Burns for dogs with sensitive stomachs or skin, but dogs of all ages and breeds will enjoy them too.

These delicious pork and potato bone-shaped treats are hypoallergenic, low in fat and extremely easy to digest, making them an ideal reward or healthy snack

 Posted by at 9:50 am
Sep 292016


Burns Choice Dry Dog Food

Burns Choice Fish & Maize Dog Food. This delicious, premium quality whole grain dog food is formulated with carefully balanced ingredients to provide all the essential nutrients your dog needs

A complete low fat dog food for adult and senior dogs of all breeds

  • Novel carbohydrate
  • Ideal for dogs with intolerances to everyday ingredients
  • Healthy skin and coat
  • Healthy digestion
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • No added wheat, soya or dairy
  • Naturally delicious

This delicious, premium quality whole grain dog food is formulated with carefully balanced ingredients to provide all the essential nutrients your dog needs. When used as a general maintenance diet it can help to maintain healthy skin, coat and digestion. Burns Choice dog food Fish & Maize flavour can also be used for the management of many dietary related health problems.

Quality Ingredients

Made with whole grains and high quality animal proteins, Burns Choice dog food is a complete diet containing all the nutrients a dog needs for a long and healthy life.


Burns Choice dog food is hypo-allergenic, so it is suitable for even the most sensitive dog. It is formulated without ingredients such as wheat, soya, dairy, artificial colourings and artificial preservatives which are known to cause symptoms of food intolerance including itchy skin, excessive moulting, full anal glands and waxy ears.

Healthy Digestion, Skin and Coat

Burns Choice dog food can help manage many dietary related health issues including bad breath, wind, itchy skin and excessive moulting.

Lower Feeding Costs

Containing only the finest quality ingredients Burns Choice dog food is highly digestible therefore feeding amounts are lower, meaning that daily feeding costs are significantly lower than those of other premium brands.

The Holistic Approach

Burns Choice dog food diets naturally maintain healthy skin, coat and digestion and can help manage dietary related health problems by caring for the body as a whole.

Burns Pet Nutrition

Burns produces simple, high quality diets developed by Veterinary Surgeon John Burns.

All Burns diets are hypo-allergenic, naturally preserved and free from artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives.

Burns Pet Nutrition takes an ethical approach to pet food manufacture and has never conducted experiments on animals.


Whole Grain Maize (73%), Fish Meal (18%), Peas, Salmon Oil, Sunflower Oil, Seaweed, Vitamins & Minerals.

Analytical Constituents:

Crude Protein 18.5%, Crude Oils & Fats 7.5%, Crude Fibre 2.5%, Crude Ash 7%, Copper 17mg/kg, Sodium 0.15%, Calcium 1.30%, Phosphorus 0.87%, Magnesium 0.11%, Potassium 0.54%, Sulphur 0.23%, Chloride 0.27%, Essential Fatty Acids 3.37%.

Nutritional Additives:

Vitamin A 25,000 iu/kg, Vitamin D3 2,000 iu/Kg, Vitamin E 100 iu/Kg, Calcium Iodate Anhydrous 1.5mg/kg, Cupric Sulphate Pentahydrate 55mg/kg, Sodium Selenite 0.6 mg/kg, Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate 160mg/kg, Manganous Sulphate Monohydrate 100mg/kg, Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate 130mg/kg


 Posted by at 9:45 am
Sep 282016

As much as we love them, dogs do disgusting and puzzling things. Why and how can such a sweet, innocent-looking ball of fur act so weird? Here we investigate 10 strange things our pooches do and the evolutionary origins of their behavior.


1. Drinking Out of the Toilet

As people who keep the lid-open already know, Fido seems to enjoy drinking out of the toilet so much more than the perfectly good water in his bowl. To him, it’s not a temporary receptacle of human waste; it’s an eternal fountain of a never-ending supply of clean, cool water. The constant flushing keeps the water fresh and maximizes its oxygenation. Even the container holds some appeal – porcelain doesn’t change the taste like metal or plastic bowls can. Experts, however, recommend keeping the lid closed, due to the potential ingestion of harmful bacteria or poisonous cleaning chemicals.



2. Rolling Around in Smelly Stuff 

What smells repulsive to humans is like perfume to a dog. Pooches enjoy the odor so much that they can’t resist covering themselves in it, essentially making it a part of them. Although indescribably gross, instinct and evolution guides this action going back to dogs’ hunting days. In order to make the kill, he had to stealthily stalk his prey and needed to smell as much unlike a dog as possible to remain undercover.



3. Chasing Cats

For those of you who have cat-loving dogs, please know that we do realize many dogs get along perfectly well with cats, and skip to the next segment. If your pooch is of the feline-chasing persuasion, though, read on. Some dogs, whether by breed or temperament, are hunters at heart. Since city dogs see many more cats than other furry creatures, such as squirrels and rabbits, the association of Fido chasing Fluffy comes from seeing those two on the run rather than any other prey. However, with felines clocking in at the top speed of almost 30 miles per hour, versus canines reaching a maximum of 29 mph plus a few hundred yards, a physically intact and reasonably young cat will out-pace her predator.

4. Pumping His Leg While His “Sweet Spot” is Scratched

Whether your concentration of scratching or rubbing is on his tummy, side, or back/tail joint, your pooch will usually respond with pumping his leg. This could indicate his enjoyment, but more likely is an ingrained response to keeping pests off of him. No matter how hard he tries, he is unable to stifle this automatic reflex reaction. In fact, it’s so predictable that veterinarians will use it to test their neurological functioning during examinations. Despite being fully aware that your fingernails aren’t fleas, he can’t resist the hardwiring that makes him bring his leg up to scratch them off. Both scratching and insect bites will produce the same response.

5. “Greeting” Your Visitor’s Leg

Embarrassed pet owners wish this behavior, more than any other, did not exist. Male dogs in their adolescent period, similar to teenage boys, have an overabundance of hormones that give them an insatiable sex drive. Neutering can often tame this behavior, but it’s not a guaranteed fix. If Fido’s obsession with his male parts seems especially overboard, get him checked out by your vet to ensure there’s no medical issue.



6. Eating Grass

While no definite explanation exists, there are two plausible theories. One is that dogs inherently know that grass helps their digestion, and they probably don’t know that its chlorophyll and fiber is why. The other theory is based on canine evolution, when no vets existed nor synthetic medications to ease their ills. Pups took matters into their own paws when they ate something bad by following with a grassy snack to tangle with the offending food, thereby irritating the lining of their stomach and making them vomit. Eating grass in modern times doesn’t always indicate a spoiled meal, but pooch’s nausea is relieved by instinctively eating grass to make them throw up. Anyone who’s been seasick knows that vomiting makes the nausea go away, and apparently, dogs know this too.


7. Barking at the Postman

Unfortunately, the post is delivered by someone in a recognizable uniform who approaches the front door, aka Fido’s territory, on an almost daily basis. When dogs normally bark at a stranger coming toward them, and that stranger leaves at the sound of the barking, pooches believe that they made the departure happen by loudly voicing their protest. If that stranger, such as the mailman, returns, canines bark even louder, believing their point wasn’t effectively made upon the stranger’s first transgression. A louder bark, they think, will make the offender leave for good. Over the course of time, this pattern of aggression becomes more intense and ingrained through the behavior/reward scenario. In other words, he is conditioned to bark to make the stranger go away, just as he is trained to beg for treats.

8. Licking You, Other Humans, Even Other Animals

Many dog owners consider this a form of “kissing,” although that is far from the truth. Licking is behavior introduced to Fido as soon as he is born by his mother performing clean-up duty. Licking her young removes the birth sack so that puppies can breathe. Motherly licking continues until they are old enough to clean themselves. But there’s more to this explanation than cleaning alone. Puppies lick their mother’s face to tell her they’re hungry and it’s time to regurgitate some food for them to eat. When the pups grow up, licking shows submission to alpha beings, whether that’s you or other dogs in the pack.Excessive licking can be a sign of injury, whether an open wound or sore joints, and signals that a trip to the vet is necessary.

9. Walking in a Circle Before Lying Down

Before the days of dog beds and rugs, pups in the wild had to create their own comfy sleeping quarters. Similar to people who smack down their pillows before laying their heads on them, pooches had to smack down their bedding of tall grass to make it more comfortable. Since “smacking down” is not as easy for dogs, instead they walk around in circles to flatten the flora. This also served to make a sort of fox hole to protect canines from the view of predators, with a high fence of grass all around them, and ensure more peaceful and secure sleep. And as an added bonus, circling helps regulate Fido’s temperature by exposing a cooler layer of grass closer to the dirt. In especially hot, desert areas, creating a cool spot was crucial to his comfort.

10. Wagging Their Tails

Dogs, like cats, communicate with their tails. Most people believe that a wagging tail means a happy dog, but the position of his tail is the real indicator of his mood. When your pooch holds his tail low and curves it into a “U” shape with a slow wag, he’s relaxed and content – “all is well.” However, if your pup’s tail is high and arched over his back, he is either fascinated or annoyed and a growl may be the only way to tell the difference. Interestingly, when a dog is home alone, his tail will rarely wag, since no members of his pack are around to communicate with. With no one nearby to see his furry flag, he keeps his feelings to himself.

 Posted by at 3:34 pm
Sep 232016

1. He Comes Home Late – If your puss is normally curled up on the end of your bed by 9 but recently he’s started rolling in around 11/12, you might want to start asking questions.

2. He Smells of Perfume – If you can smell another woman’s perfume on your kitty when he comes through the cat flap, chances are he’s a cheater. Even if he’s tried to cover it up through vigorous licking, your senses know things and he’s not fooling anyone.

3. He’s Not Interested in Snuggling – One minute he’s the snuggliest cat in the world, the next he barely even looks in your direction. If your cat is playing and getting his fill of cuddles elsewhere, then that would explain his sudden lack of physical contact.

4. You Find an Unexplained Hair on His Coat – So you’re carrying out his regular grooming routine and you chance upon a long blonde hair clinging to his coat. Problem is you’re a brunette and so is everyone else in the household.

 Posted by at 1:51 pm