By Eugene Magazine

Is wet or dry food better to feed your pet? 

That’s a good question that can have many answers depending on who you ask! Dry food helps keep teeth clean. Wet food is typically more palatable and has a texture more similar to food animals would eat in the wild. In the end, there is no hard and fast answer to what food is better for healthy pets.The most important thing is that the food agrees with your pet! Your pet should have a nice shiny coat, have healthy skin, have normal bowel movements, have a healthy physique, etc! Now, the answer about texture can be different for your pet if their body is changing due to age, illness, disease, etc. In these situations, the texture of food can become important and will be part of a treatment plan your veterinarian would discuss with you for your pet.

How do you start to introduce dogs and cats together?

As every cat and dog is an individual, there is no set best way to introduce them, but there are guidelines. Plan to have at least one to two weeks where the animals are completely separated with contact only under a door, if possible. This allows the new pet to acclimate to the new area as well as prevent disease or parasite transfer. Introducing something that has their scent to the other animal, such as a loved toy or the cat carrier, can allow scent familiarity without stress to either pet. Once the time for shared space has arrived, ensure that each animal has an area of safety to escape to if they need to get away, be that a high cat tree, separate room, or kennel. If a young, boysterous dog is involved, it is safest to have them on a short leash around the cats until they can be trusted not to chase, bark, or pounce on them. Keeping the dog calm or distracted with treats can allow the cat time to investigate the space with less stress. Remember to give positive reinforcement to the dog for being calm or leaving the cat alone in addition to intervening when they get too excited. If any aggression is shown, especially by a larger dog, it may be best to start over and have an even slower introduction. Even with animals that seem comfortable with each other, aggression over toys or food can occur, so monitor new situations closely. Many dogs and cats can learn to live peacefully and even lovingly in a household together given enough time and space to feel safe.

How do you figure out what kind of scratching post your cat likes?

Cats use the scratching type motion to claim territory (there are scent pads on their feet), to remove the outer sheath of their claws, and to facilitate a comfortable stretch. Once we know this it is easier to determine what is the best type of post for your cat and where is a good location for it. Generally most cats without any mobility issues like a post that is 1.5 to 2 times their height standing up and has a rough exterior such as wrapped twine, carpet, or potentially cardboard. The post needs to be tall enough for them to reach up with their front limbs fully stretched out and sturdy enough it is not going to wobble while they do this. It should be located somewhere they like to hang out or near an outside door may be desirable. For older cats where stretching upwards may be less comfortable, scratchers that lay flat may be easier for them to use. Generally, these types are cardboard that can be replaced once the surface is heavily torn up. If your cat seems to not be using scratchers anymore, check their nails to ensure they aren’t getting overgrown. Older cats commonly have nail sheaths that are “retained” and can become so long the nails grow into their paw pads. If you are having trouble with your cat scratching at furniture rather than their post, even after getting an appropriately sized one, there are some options. Using a product such as Feliscratch may help redirect them to their post instead. There are scratch pads that can be secured over the arm of a couch or armchair to prevent damage to the furniture itself.

My senior cat is losing her eyesight. How can I help her adapt and adjust?

First, have your cat examined by your veterinarian when this issue is first noticed. There are medical reasons for sudden decline in eyesight, especially in older cats, that shouldn’t be ignored. Conditions such as high blood pressure from renal disease and hyperthyroidism or cataracts from diabetes can cause blindness and the underlying cause needs to be addressed for your cat’s best health. There are some simple changes that can be made to your cat’s environment to help them get around more safely. If your cat has previously been allowed outside, this activity is not recommended without being directly supervised such as being on a leash. Avoid moving furniture around in the house and keep the floor clear of debris. They may need assistance with getting onto and off of couches or beds. Providing lots of soft bedding material at lower levels may help reduce their wish to be higher up. Moving all water and food dishes to ground level will help to prevent falls and ensure they have easy access. If there are other animals that are stealing their food, switching to a microchip scanner feeder or doing meal feeding separately from other pets can help ensure they get their own food.

Why does my dog kick the grass after pooping?

In the wild, wolves and other canids use scent marking from urine, feces, and anal gland secretions to declare territory and communicate their health to potential interlopers or mates. Our modern dogs still have this instinct. As evidenced by their avid interest in other dogs’ smells, they still get a lot of information about other dogs in their neighborhoods from marked areas. The kicking motion after defecation or urination is thought to spread the smell more extensively and likely also demonstrates good health and mobility.

Dr. Carrie Casita graduated from Oregon State University in 2014. Since then, she has been an Associate Veterinarian at Companion Animal Clinic, a full-service veterinary clinic serving dogs, cats, and some exotics in the Thurston area for more than 35 years.