Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eco-Friendly Cat Litter

Cat litter can be a significant part of the cost of owning an indoor cat.  Litter made of clay, whether clumping or not, has a much higher cost to the environment.  The clay that goes into cat litter is the product of strip mining.  This process destroys the soil and vegetation of the area, and leaves behind land that is barren for generations.  Clay cat litter also takes up space in our landfills.
Fortunately, there are alternatives.  The following plant-based litters are all made from renewable resources, and are probably the most environmentally friendly options available.
World's Best Cat Litter is made from corn.  This clumping litter is biodegradable as well as flushable.  For those who wish to avoid using products that contain GMOs, this litter may not be the best choice, as corn is one of the most common GM crops.
Swheat Scoop is a clumping litter made from wheat.  The naturally occuring enzymes in the wheat neutralize odors.  Currently there are no GM varieties of wheat being grown.
Feline Pine comes in clumping and non-clumping formulas.  This litter is made from the pine shavings that are a byproduct of the lumber industry.  This company has a "Pine Perks" program that allows customers to collect and redeem points that they can exchange for things like donations to the ASPCA or reforestation programs.
Blue Naturally Fresh comes in clumping and non-clumping varieties, both of which are made from walnut shells.
Yesterday's News is a non-clumping litter made from recycled newspaper.

Being conscious of where your cat's litter comes from is a big step toward going green, but is just as important to think about where the litter goes after your cat is done with it.  If you choose to compost your litter, make sure it is far away from your vegetable garden.  Be careful about flushing the litter as well.  Currently there is a problem in California with sea otters becoming infected with toxoplasmosis.  This is thought to be a direct result of flushed cat feces.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Grass?

Those new shoots of grass that are popping up this time of year are very tempting for some pets. No one is really sure why cats and dogs eat grass. Some do it when they aren't feeling well, and some just seem to like it as a snack. Whatever the reason, it is generally not a good idea to allow them to graze on the lawn.
The biggest danger is the artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that are sprayed on many lawns. Lawn chemicals have been linked to malignant lymphoma, and bladder cancer in dogs, and hyperthyroidism in cats. Ingestion of these chemicals can also affect your pet's nervous system and cause symptoms such as dilated pupils, lethargy, and tremors. If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned by a lawn chemical or anything else, immediately contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Another hazard of eating grass is the possibility of infection with intestinal parasites like roundworms.

If you just can't say no to that adorable face, try using a pet safe, OMRI approved product on your lawn, or you can grow some grass for them inside using wheatgrass seeds.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's Flea and Tick Season

As warmer weather approaches, people are spending more time outside with their pets. This means there is an increased chance of flea and tick bites. Because we don't have very long periods of freezing temperatures on Cape Cod, your pet is still at risk of picking up fleas and ticks even during the colder months. For this reason, the doctors at VACC recommend year round flea and tick prevention. If your pet has not been on these preventatives all year, now is the time to start back up again.
Not only can fleas make your pet itchy and cause anemia, but they can carry diseases like Bartonella (also known as "cat scratch disease"), and parasites such as tapeworms. Ticks harbor many diseases as well, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
At VACC we recommend monthly treatment with Canine Advantix II for our canine friends. This product not only kills fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, but it repels them too, so most of the time they don't even get a chance to bite. For our feline friends we recommend Revolution. While this product is not 100% effective against ticks, we feel it is the best option because it prevents fleas, feline heartworm, ear mites, roundworm, and hookworm.

If you have any questions or concerns about fleas and ticks, ask your veterinarian, or contact us here at VACC.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Think Twice Before Buying a Pet for Easter

Many people are tempted to bring home a new pet for Easter. Rabbits, chicks, and ducklings are hard to resist when they are babies, but it is important to remember that these animals will require years of care and attention. Every year shortly after Easter, animal shelters across the country are overwhelmed with unwanted rabbits, chickens, and ducks. Unfortunately, many of these animals are euthanized due to lack of space in the shelters.

Here are some things to keep in mind before you buy that cute Easter pet:

  • Rabbits require a lot of space to run, dig, and play. They will not thrive if they are living in a hutch 24 hours a day.

  • Rabbits, and especially chickens, and ducks all crave social interaction with others of their own kind. If you are adding just one animal to your family, be sure you have enough time to play and interact with him or her.

  • Rabbits can be expensive to own. Their diet should consist of hay, and fresh vegetables as well as rabbit pellets. Veterinary care will often be more expensive than it would for a cat or dog because many animal hospitals consider them to be exotic pets.

  • While rabbits can be trained to use a litterbox, chickens and ducks will eliminate where they happen to be standing when they get the urge.

  • Rabbits do not always make good pets for children. Younger children may not understand the proper way to pick up their pet rabbit, and may accidentally injure them.

Should you decide that a new pet is the right choice for your family this Easter, please consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue.