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April 17, 2010

Desensitizing your Dog to Having His Nails Clipped

Filed under: Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 12:48 am

How to Desensitize Your Dog to Having his Nails Clipped

Does your dog run away when he sees you pull out the nail clippers? Does he fidget, get nervous, or try to bite when you clip his nails? Don’t give up! It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to get your dog to accept and even like having his nails done, using a desensitization program. The purpose of this is to teach the dog very gradually to accept having his feet touched, manipulated and finally having his nails clipped, using treats to reward when he is accepting you touch his feet. Depending on how nervous your dog gets about having his nails done, this process might take some time, so be patient, it will be worth it in the long run!

1. Get a supply of tasty treats cut into tiny bites. Use something the dog loves and doesn’t get often, such as cheese, cooked chicken, or salami. Train in 5 minute sessions and always end on a good note!
2. Start without the clippers. Get your dog lying quietly and just gently touch his back foot, when he is calm, not pulling away or reacting say “YES” and immediately reward. Do this with all four feet and then end your session. Depending on the severity of your dog’s phobia you may have to do this for several 5 minute sessions.

3. Next step is to pick up the foot in your hand and put light pressure on the toe above the nail, when the dog accepts it say “YES” and reward. Do this for all 4 feet, but remember to keep the session short and fun.
4. Repeat the above step but take out the nail clippers and leave them sitting on the floor next to you during your session.
5. After this, hold the paw and pick up the clippers, but do not bring the clippers close to the nail. Again when the dog is calm say “YES” and reward.

6. When the dog accepts you picking up all four feet and pulling pressure on his toes, while holding the clippers, you can graduate to just clipping the very tip of the nail. Always mark the behaviour you like with an upbeat “YES” and reward right away.
7. When he calmly accepts getting the tip of his nail taken off you can finally start to clip his nails shorter!


May 7, 2009

Vaccination: Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 3:11 pm

This post is part of a three part series on vaccinations. I strive to always be an informed pet owner, so I have been doing research on vaccinations on top of what I have been learning in school.  The first part will address what immunity is and what a vaccination does to stimulate immunity.

The basic function of the immune system is to recognize foreign  cells that invade the body and destroy them, thus protecting the body from illness. There are two types of specific immunity.

Humoral immunity- The body acquires the ability to recognize invading cells, called antigens, and stimulates the production of antibodies, which bind to the antigens and destroy them.

Cell mediated immunity- Certain cells within the body to recognize and destroy foreign cells without the production of antibodies.

Ideally we want a combination of the two types of immunity to be fully protected. Immunity can be aquired in many different ways. It can be acquired passively, either from mothers milk, during gestation or from injection of preformed antibodies made in another animal. It can also be acquired actively, either from contracting the disease and fighting it off, or from receiving a vaccine towards a particular disease.

A vaccine is essentially a preparation of an antigen( the agent that causes a disease), that will bring about production of antibodies towards a disease without causing the animal to become ill. In order to not cause illness the bacteria or virus must be altered or weakened in some way. Typically vaccines are either killed or weakened before being injected into an animal.

When the vaccine is injected the body recognizes the foreign cells and creates antibodies towards them. The body also creates memory cells which function to remember the invading organism and launch a secondary response to it if the animal is exposed to it again. In this way the animal is protected against disease.

Vaccines are an amazing discovery that have saved many lives. In the next part I will discuss common pet vaccines and the dieases they prevent.

March 17, 2009

Kitty Climbing Wall

Filed under: Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 1:18 pm

I am very good at thinking of projects that would be fun but not neccessarily so  great at executing them. Thats why I’m thankful that my very patient ( and handy) boyfriend Mike decided my latest hairbrained idea was a possibility!

The concept was a cat climing and perching wall for our two cats, Alaska and Sencha. They are forever sitting on our TV, on Mike’s desk, or pretty much anywhere else they’re not supposed to be. We thought it would be nice to give them a place they could climb without fear of harrasment!

I took my inspiration from this picture from


And from this picture from Modern Cat Magazine

After several days of measuring, a visit to Ikea and some cutting we ended up with this….



The Finished Product!


First Discovery



Looks like its a hit!

March 4, 2009

Exercise- The Missing Link

Filed under: Health Care, Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 4:59 am

One of the most important things you can do for your dog is to provide it with enough exercise.  Exercise combats obesity, and keeps your dog is tip top shape. Unfortunately, obesity is one of the most common health problems in both dogs and cats. Obese pets live shorter lives and suffer many of the same problems obese people do, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. This is an important thing to consider as the average dog lives just 12 years and health problems catch up to them quite fast. It’s up to you to make sure your dog stays fit. After all I have yet to see a dog take itself for a walk!

 An added benefit is that exercise drastically reduces behaviour problems.  Almost every “problem” dog behaviour is just a natual dog behavior that has gotten out of control due to pent up energy and frustration. Take chewing for instance, dogs do it. Period. The problem comes in when dogs start to chew excessively. This problem directly stems from boredom, and of course lack of supervision. Many other behaviors such as barking, digging, hyperactivity, and food stealing can all be linked to lack of exercise.


Most people get dogs and don’t fully realize the level of energy the dog will have.  They expect the dog to be content to run around the backyard and go on a 20 minute walk. This just doesn’t cut it! If you think of what your dog was bred to do it starts to make sense. The retrievers were ment to run all day in the field, either pointing, flushing or retrieving game, the terriers were ratters, ment to race around chasing vermin, the hounds were bred to hunt prey by sight or scent, the herding were ment to heard animals all day,and the working group performed a variety of jobs from guarding to carting. You can see that there are no couch potatoes amoung these dogs! They can go all day, and need frequent regular exercise. There are of course some exceptions, some breeds require less exercise such as the Mastiff, Great Dane, Newfondland, and some of the toy breeds, but even these can benefit from a good daily walk.




Now that we have established that exercise is important I need to clarify what kind of exercise I’m talking about. I believe every dog should have mental and physical exercise everyday. Its important to exercise the mind and the body as it this will result in a fully tired out dog. If you only exercise the body you will only end up with a really really fit totally out of control dog!

Miranda’s Daily Doggy Exercise Schedule

1) Walking– Walking is great as it exercises you at the same time! It also give the dog an oportunity to smell out the neighborhood and have a change of scenery. Walking is also important as the act of having your dog walk with you reinforces your leadership. Walk with your dog beside you and have him stop and sit beside you at cross walks. This will teach the dog to be more in sync with you and will improve your relationship. If you prefer biking, running, or roller blading these are all GREAT alternatives to walking!

2) Free Play– Free dog playtime is essential as it allows the dog time to just be a dog and interact with others of his kind. This helps him work on his social skills. VIP: Do not think that because you took your dog to the dog park you do not need to walk him! Walking is just as important in order to achieve a well balanced dog!

3) Obedience or Trick Training– This is the part that will work your dogs brain. Teach him a new trick such as sit up, roll over, play dead… get creative! Or simply work on your obedience training together.

4)Play with toys– Playing fetch or tug of war is an excellent energy burner provided you are always in control of the game. You have to teach your dog a “drop” as well as a “take” command so that the game progresses at your pace not his.

Increasing exercise not only helps keep your dog in shape and prevents behavioural problems but it also really builds a strong bond with your dog. Some days I don’t feel like going out in the cold with the dogs, but when I do it always makes me feel better. There’s something about watching dogs run at top speed with blissful abandon that’s good for the soul.

Thats all for now… What are you waiting for?

Go Walk Your Dog!

February 20, 2009

What’s For Dinner?

Filed under: Raw Food Diet, Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 9:20 pm

A few months ago I did an extensive post on raw food diets for dogs and cats. If you haven’t caught that yet you can do so here :

I feel this is the healthiest diet for pet companion animals, but I realize that it can seem quite daunting to those that have never done it before. I remember when I started… I was always worried if I was using the right ingredients in the right ratios. Should I feed supplements? How much do I feed?  Am I feeding enough meat/organs/ eggs? How do I know if my menu is balanced?? etc. etc.

So to simplify things for you I decided to post a little tutorial. This should give you a bit more of an idea should you decide to take the plunge.

 Note: This is just what works for me, there are many different diet variations. You have to take what I say and use it as a spring board. I encourage anyone who is interested in starting their pets on raw to do their research. It’s a lot of work in the beginning but in the end you will have a very good understanding of your pets nutitional needs.

This post is not for the faint of heart!

Tulip Roxy and Alaska waiting at the kitchen door for supper!

Tulip Roxy and Alaska waiting at the kitchen door for supper!

The Basic Diet for the Dogs is:

60-70% Raw Meaty Bones ( chicken necks, backs, or carcasses, turkey necks or wings, pork riblets, lamb riblets etc.)

20-30% Meat, Eggs, Organs, or Yogurt ( I try to vary the types of meats and organs as much as possible, and I only feed yogurt ocasionally)

5-10% Veges ( These are really optional. Many don’t feed them at all and have very health dogs. I choose to include them usually closer to the 5 % mark. The veges are raw and pulped to better mimic the stomach contents of prey)

Supplements (Optional, some feed them to offset what they feed is lacking in the diet)

Basic Diet for Cats:

50% Raw Meaty Bones

50% Eggs,Organs or Meat


The menu for today is:

Fresh Chicken Carcasses

 Fresh Chicken Carcasses

Fresh Chicken Carcasses

Fresh Chicken Gizzards
Fresh Eggs

Pureed Vegetables


Supplements – I use Salmon Oil ( Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Vitamin C & E ( Antioxidant vitamins) and Kelp( Trace Minerals and Iodine)


I measure out a certain amount of each ingredient according to which diet model I am following.

Amount to feed per day

2-3% of each pets body weight in food per day

Take your pets weight and multiply it by 16 to get his weight # in oz.  Then multiply that number by .02 or .03 to get the # of oz to feed  per day.

Then multiply that # by .70 to get the percentage of Raw Bones to feed, .25 to get the amount of meat to feed and .05 to get the amount of veges to feed.


Roxy weighs 22 lbs X 16 = 352 oz

.o3 of 352 = 10.5 OZ total per day

10.5 X .70 = 7.4 oz Raw Meaty Bones per day

10.5 X .25 = 2.6oz meat or extras per day

10.5 X .05= .5 oz veges per day

Sounds super complicated but its not. I am horrible at math so if I can do it you can too!

I use this as a rough guide, some days they may get a little more or a little less of something. It’s all about balance over time.

This can be closer to 1.5 if the pet is chubby, or up at 3 if the pet is very active.



It requires a bit more effort than opening a bag of the crunchy stuff, but I think the time is worth it. My pets have never been healthier or more excited about meal times!


February 11, 2009

Health : Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Filed under: Health Care, Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 6:25 pm

This week has been a tough one for my sister’s cat Cassis. He was hospitalized last thursday as he had a blocked urinary tract. He was put under anesthetic , deblocked and flushed out. They kept him for a few days with a catheter in to monitor him. But, when they brought him home he was still peeing blood and in very small amounts. So, he went to my school on Tuesday to continue treatment. ( I’m currently studying to be a vet tech) We’re all hoping he’ll pull through!

This prompted me to write a post on urinary tract problems. I will discuss symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment. I think its important that people realize that this is a very common and sometimes preventable problem.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a broad term that covers a wide range of problems. Most cases involve bladder inflamation ( cystitis) , with or without bacterial infection, and with or without either struvite or oxalate crystals.

The symptoms of FLUTD vary but usually include one or more of the following:

  • Innapropriate elimination ( ie peeing all over the house) or frequent litter box trips that only produce droplets of pee
  • Painful or difficult urination ( dysuria)
  • Crying or yowling while trying to pee
  • Blood in urine  (hematuria)
  • obsessive licking of the genital area

If you notice any of the above symtoms you need to get your cat to the vet right away! This ia a critical condition as if the cat is blocked the urine cannot exit the bladder and can cause swelling to the point of bursting.

At the vet they will take blood tests to see if the cats kidney’s are functioning well. They will also do a urinanalysis to check if there is infection, and also examine the urine under the microscope to check for crystals.

If the cat is not blocked the treatment will vary due to the type of crystals found and the presence or absense of a secondary infection.

If the the cat is critically blocked the vet will put the cat under anesthetic, insert a catheter and  flush out the bladder. They will usually hospitalize the cat for a few days and keep the catheter in to give the bladder a chance to flush out and heal.

There are serval things that predispose your cat to getting urinary tract problems.

First of all there are two types of crystals that commonly occur in cats. They are struvite and calcium oxalate. Struvite tend to form in an alkaline urine PH( >7.0), while oxalate tend to form in very acidic urine PH(< 6.0). Struvite crystals are far more common in cats than oxalate.

  • Male cats > Female cats-This is because the male cats urethra is much smaller and shorter than the females, so if crystals form they are more likely to block.
  • Stress- usually due to sudden changes in the cats life
  • Obesity- Yet another problem that caused by letting your cat get fat!
  • Genetics- Vets think that genetics may play a role as well
  • Diet-  Cats fed a dry diet versus a wet one are much more likely to develop problems with struvite crystals.   This is because a dry diet causes the cat to produce a concentrated urine. Cats tend to not drink a lot and rely on thier diet to provide them with the water they need. When the cat is on dry food his bladder empties much less and this allows the mineral that form the crsystals to be able to get together easier, and it is also an ideal environment for bacteria.
  • Dry food is also high in carbohydrates which promotes an alkaline PH which is the enviroment that struvite crystals prefer.

Since you can’t do much about your cats genetics I think its important to focus on what you can control in your cat’s life namely diet and stress.

In my opinion all cats should be few either a canned food or raw food diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, they are not designed to eat cereal based dry food which is usually 40% grains. This causes a whole host of problems such as obesity, diabetes and of course FLUTD.

Raw food is the ideal diet as this will manage the PH so crystals don’t form and also be high enough in water content so that the cat is not dehydrated. This diet will also prevent obesity, as it is low in carbs which cause cats to gain weight as they can’t digest them properly. In addition it will promote good dental health.

If you don’t feel you can go to raw then at least feed a good quality canned diet. The canned diet will also prevent crystals as it is low in carbs and high in moisture. The only thing it doesn’t do is clean the teeth, so they will still have to be cleaned professionally.

Remember you have control over what your cat eats, so feed him a healthy diet and you’ll have many more years together!

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