Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Pawfessionals Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters: Should You Trim Your Pet's Whiskers?

Sometimes our furry friend’s whiskers, also called tactile hair, grow really long and we wonder how in the world they can stand it. Our first impulse is to trim them down to our liking, but those whiskers serve several, necessary purposes.


Whiskers are longer, thicker and more rigid than hair. According to, each whisker is rooted in a hair follicle that is filled with blood vessels and nerves that occasionally fall out and grow back. Most cats have 12 whiskers arranged in four rows on either cheek, but dog whiskers vary per breed. Those hairs sticking out above your pet’s eyes are whiskers, too, as well as those under the chin. Cats can even grow whiskers behind their wrists.


So what are all these whiskers for? Well, believe it or not, the primary function of whiskers is to aid with vision, especially in the dark, because they provide sensory information. They are the animal’s antennae. Even though they are filled with nerves, the whisker cannot feel anything. However, they vibrate when they touch an object, which then stimulates the nerves in the hair follicle. This makes perfect sense because the scientific name for whiskers is vibrissae, which is derived from the Latin word, vibrio, which means “to vibrate”.


Cats use the whiskers on their head to know whether or not they can fit into a narrow space and use the whiskers on their legs to sense prey and to climb trees.


40% of a dog’s brain can detect when something touches their face because of their whiskers.


Both dogs and cats can use their whiskers in the dark to warn them before they bump into things, without even touching anything. Amazing, right?


The whiskers above the eyes protect them from long grass and other objects close to them.


So, if you trim your pet’s whiskers, you take away your canine and feline friend’s ability to feel and protect themselves. The bottom line is, it’s best to leave them alone.


  • Kassira McKee

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Pawfessionals Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters: Do Cats Shed Like Dogs Do? by Kassira McKee

Well, folks, summer is upon us, which is the season for animals to shed some fur for the summer. Dogs shed their undercoat to prepare for the heat, but do cats do this as well?


According to, outdoor cats lose more hair in spring and fall and retain more fur in the winter. So, seasonal shedding is naturally common.


However, there are several issues such as medical, dietary and stress that may cause your cat to lose more hair than is normal. If you see excessive shedding or bald patches on your cat, take it to the veterinarian ASAP. Here are some things that could be occurring:


1) Allergies – could be environmental or dietary.

2) Ringworm – circular, patchy areas caused by a fungus that infects the skin, hair and nails and can be passed on to humans and other animals.

3) Fleas – also passed on to humans, other animals and the general environment.

4) Bacterial Diseases – Salmonella and other bacterial diseases caused by consuming raw or contaminated foods, licking manure off of their feet and coats and oral contact with surfaces contaminated by other infected cats.

5) Hypothyroidism – a common glandular disorder caused by an excessively, circulating thyroxine-a thyroid hormone (T4) in the bloodstream.

6) Poor diet – your cat is not eating anything you serve it, which means something is wrong.

7) Stress – caused by many different factors such as other animals in the household, a chaotic, unsettling environment, relocation or being left alone for an unusually long time.

8) Medications – caused by allergies to medications.

9) Pregnancy/Lactation – caused by morning sickness, like vomiting and lack of appetite, fatigue due to hormonal and uterus changes, and post birth when your cat stops eating 24 hours before giving birth, her temperature drops to 100 F and she is fatigued during the nursing period.

10) Sunburn – caused by being left outside too long.


Symptoms of abnormal shedding to look for are obsessive licking, biting or scratching, loss of patches of hair and loss of appetite. Take your cat to the Veterinarian immediately.


If your veterinarian determines there is no medical cause, here are a few things you can do to cut down on hair loss: 

  • Feed your cat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Groom your cat regularly
  • Check your cat’s skin and coat during grooming sessions for hair loss, redness, bumps, cuts, fleas, ticks and parasites.
  • Keep your home vacuumed to better monitor your cat’s shedding 

If a feline’s excessive shedding that is a medical issue goes unattended, its health will worsen. If a long-haired feline goes ungroomed for too long, matting occurs, which is not only painful, but can also lead to a bacterial or fungal infection.


We at The Pawfessionals Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters love our feline clients and are here to help you keep your kitties healthy.

- Kassira McKee


For more detailed information on feline shedding, click here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Pawfessionals Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters: Canine and Feline Obesity by Kassira McKee

As human obesity increases, pet obesity is increasing as well. The Veterinary world figured out that the epidemic in pets is connected to their owners because the bond between the two is so close.


Professor Michael Day is the chair of the One Health Committee established by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). He says, “The importance of studying the human-animal bond is justified by reference to the benefit to human health and well-being from association with pet animals. One of the key issues is obesity. Probably the most important health issue of man and pets in Western countries is the shared epidemic of obesity that is often directly related to aspects of this shared lifestyle. We cannot hope to understand feline and canine obesity without also knowing something about human obesity, the social status of owners, and the relationships that humans actually have with their dogs and cats.”


According to the Veterinary Record, in dogs and cats, as in people, a distinction is drawn between being overweight and being obese. Being overweight can be defined as having a body composition where the levels of body fat exceed those considered optimal for good health. Obesity can be defined as being overweight to the extent that serious effects on an individual’s health become likely.


In humans, the Body Mass Index (BMI) is widely used as an assessment tool. However, it is solely based on a person’s weight and height, which is not transferable to assessing dogs and cats because of diverse breeds and body compositions. Therefore, the Body Condition Scores (BCSs) was developed for both dogs and cats, which utilizes several categories, ranging from emaciated to severely obese, based on specific physical features.


Canine obesity studies in North America, Europe and Australia revealed that 22% to 44% of pet dogs are clinically obese. Although human obesity is caused by many factors such as psychological and social problems like depression and anxiety, canine and feline obesity is not suspected to be caused by the same issues.


Studies show that some dog and cat breeds have a higher likelihood of becoming overweight or obese. However, what humans and dogs and cats have in common is that higher levels of obesity occur from over-eating and lack of exercise. The results are also similar, which are lack of energy and higher chances of diabetes and cardiorespiratory disease. Dogs and cats can also develop orthopedic and dermatological diseases, circulation issues, urinary and reproductive disorders, neoplasia and complications when under anesthesia.

So, how do you determine whether or not your pet is obese? Take him/her to the vet and have an assessment done.


How do your solve the problem of your pet being overweight or obese? There are many strategies to try. Pub Med on NCBI online states, “Pet owner commitment, a proper feeding plan and regular monitoring are the keys to a successful weight loss program. Treatment of obesity involves caloric restriction and/or a diet change….the diet choice should be tailored to the individual patient. Appropriate feeding management is equally important.”


Maze bowls are widely used by dog owners these days, which forces the dog to eat slower because he/she has to work to get the food out of the bowl. Also, smaller, controlled portions are very effective, which means you never leave the food bowl on the floor for random grazing. Low calorie, high fiber, moderate to high protein, low sugar diets are the healthy route and cut down on excessive fat gain.


Studies also show that many pet owners use food to communicate with their pet. Using other ways to engage your dog or cat, instead of using food, is much healthier for them. Outdoor activities such as longer walks and extensive playtime are important in helping your dog get fit and stay fit. For cats, carpeted towers, tunnel toys or wall shelving specifically installed for cats to walk around on, provide an answer to an otherwise, lethargic indoor life.


Making healthier choices for your canine and feline kids adds more years to their lives, which adds more happy companionship for you!


Love your pets with no regrets!

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