Save your Pet from Choking

One hopes they’ll never have to endure the terrifying experience of seeing their furry friend choking. However, if this nightmare does occur, a pet owner needs to be well-equipped to save the life of their fuzzy loved one.

What to do if your Cat is Choking:
If your cat shows signs of choking such as pawing at the mouth, coughing/gagging, laboured breathing or unconsciousness, first try looking in their mouth for a foreign item. If you can’t clearly see an obstruction, wrap your cat in a towel or place them in a transport carrier and rush them to your closest veterinarian.

Adhere to the following steps if your cat is either unconscious and not breathing or they appear to be gasping for air. With your fingers, open their mouth and pull their tongue down and forward. Grasp the object if visible. Failing this, the Heimlich Manoeuvre is effective on cats too:

  1. Place the cat on their side.
  2. Place one of your hands on their back and your other hand on the soft area below the last rib.
  3. Give 5 sharp pushes inward and upwards using your hand that’s on the last rib.
  4. Assess the mouth for an object and, if found, remove it with your index finger.
  5. If the object still cannot be seen, close the mouth and breath a few shallow breaths through the nose.
  6. Continue through steps 1 to 5 until the object causing the obstruction has been removed from the airway.
  7. If they are still unconscious and not breathing by now, establish if there’s a heartbeat by placing your index and middle finger on their chest. If you cannot find a pulse, perform CPR or artificial respiration. Rush your cat to emergency care immediately.

What to do if your Dog is Choking:

  1. Holding the mouth open, look for what is choking them. If you see the obstruction at the back of your dog’s throat, attempt to carefully hook and remove it with your index finger. Be cautious as they will panic if their breathing is restricted and may try to bite you. Be careful not to lodge the object further down the throat and worsening the situation.
  2. If the object is too deeply lodged-:
    For small to medium-sized dogs:
    Lift and hold them with their back against your chest.
    For larger dogs:
    Station your dog in a standing position.
  3. For small to medium-sized dogs:
    By making fists with your hands, press firmly on the soft area directly under their ribcage. Using both hands, rapidly and simultaneously push them inwards and upwards 5 times.
    For larger dogs:
    Standing behind your dog, enfold your arms around their stomach area. Make a fist with one hand and position the other over your fist. Pushing firmly inwards and upwards, apply 5 quick abdominal thrusts.
  4. Open the dog’s mouth and look for the obstruction. With your finger, carefully hook, dislodge and remove the object.
  5. If unsuccessful:
    For small to medium-sized dogs:
    Invert and suspend the dog so their head is pointing downwards.
    For larger dogs:
    With the dog’s front paws remaining on the floor, lift their hind legs as if you were using a wheelbarrow.
  6. Again, open the dog’s mouth and sweep the mouth with your index finger to hook, dislodge and remove the object.
  7. Failing this:
    For small to medium-sized dogs:
    Position your dog in a standing or sitting stance, and give your pet 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades using the palm of your hands.
    For larger dogs:
    Position your dog in a standing stance and give them 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades using the palm of your hands. 
  8. Again, open the dog’s mouth and sweep the mouth with your index finger to hook, dislodge and remove the object.
  9. Repeat steps 2 to 8 until the object is removed successfully.
  10. Give your dog 5 breaths if they become unconscious, followed by 5 abdominal thrusts. You may need to perform CPR and/or artificial respiration if required.
  11. It’s imperative that you rush your dog to a vet immediately.

 *For small to medium-sized dogs, the above process can be done in the car on the way to the vet if you have someone to drive you there.

It is best to supervise your pets when spoiling them with unusual treats and remove any potential hazardous pet toys once you have finished playing with them.

Things to avoid giving your cat:

  • Rolled up balls of Aluminium foil
  • Corks
  • Balled cellophane
  • String and wool
  • Rubber bands rolled into a ball or loose
  • Toys with ribbons, feathers or plastic eyes
  • Dental floss
  • Toy stuffing
  • Hair ties
  • Food that swells when moist

Things to avoid giving your dog:

  • Tennis balls
  • Sticks
  • Cooked bones, especially chicken and T-bones
  • Gristle
  • Rawhide chews
  • Dental treats
  • Small dog toys
  • Kids toys
  • Plastic wrap
  • Food that swells when moist

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

Are Dogs Smarter Than Cats? Scientists Weigh In

The battle between dog and cat owners just got kicked up a notch, with new research that suggests canines might be smarter than felines.

A study in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy says dogs have more neurons in the part of their brain that is a cognitive powerhouse.

The researchers were comparing the brain sizes of different carnivores, including lions, brown bears, raccoons, hyenas, mongooses and ferrets, and measuring the number of neurons in each of their brains. Dogs and cats were among the animals studied and the humans found that dogs have much more of these brain cells in their cerebral cortex than cats.

That large brain region, which is made up of gray matter and has many different parts, is connected to a lot of cognitive function, from memory and language to consciousness and other types of thought.

According to Vanderbilt University, dogs have 530 million neurons in the cerebral cortex — more than double the number cats have.

Humans have in the neighborhood of 16 billion.

Neurons, as pieces of the nervous system, are involved in sending signals and information throughout the body.

“I believe the absolute number of neurons an animal has, especially in the cerebral cortex, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience,” researcher Suzana Herculano-Houzel said in the university statement. “Our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.”

According to the study, a golden retriever had more cortical neurons than larger animals as well, despite having an overall smaller brain: striped hyenas, African lions and brown bears.

It was not the only example of brain size being unrelated to the number of neurons. The researchers said that brown bears had the largest cerebral cortex of the animals studied but only had as many neurons as cats; and raccoon brains are about the size of cats’ but have roughly the same number of neurons as dogs, “which makes them comparable to primates in neuronal density.”

Scientists compared brain sizes and the number of neurons in different carnivores
and found that dogs have more of these brain cells than cats, among other revelations.
Photo: Suzana Herculano-Houzel/Vanderbilt

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SA claims another title – world’s largest gathering of dogs with bandanas


South Africa has laid claim to another Guinness world record title – this time for the largest ever gathering of dogs wearing bandanas.

With 765 dogs in total from across Gauteng descending on the on The Big Red Barn Farm Venue in Pretoria‚ it pipped the previous record established in Canberra‚ Australia‚ in 2015 by a whisker – or single dog to be more precise.

Organised by pet insurer‚ the event also raised R50‚000 in aid of the Animal Anti-Cruelty League in Johannesburg.

Source: Time Live

Making ‘Scents’ of Essential Oils and Cats

The alluring fragrance that essential oils emit in our homes cannot be disputed, however they aren’t as compelling or harmless to our feline friends. Not only do cats have a far keener sense of smell than humans, but essential oils from which these heavenly fragrances come from, are potentially detrimental to them so we must introduce essential oils into our homes responsibly.

Symptoms of Toxic Poisoning:
Feline livers struggle to metabolise certain components found in most essential oils as they do not have the necessary detoxifying enzymes in which to do so. This causes toxicity levels in the bloodstream to rise, ultimately leading to poisoning or death. Toxins can accumulate over an extended period, so symptoms of poisoning may not be apparent immediately.

The following are associated symptoms of toxic poisoning:

  • disorientation
  • partially paralysed
  • vomiting
  • drooling
  • convulsions

Methods of Toxic Poisoning
Although inhalation isn’t ideal, toxicity is most rife when essential oils are ingested. This happens when a cat grooms itself and subsequently licks essential oils that may have accidentally spilled onto their fur. Inhalation of essential oils can aggravate ailments such as asthma or other respiratory illnesses that your cat may suffer from.

Essential Oils Considered Poisonous to Cats:

  • Bergamot (bitter orange) (Citrus aurantium spp. bergamia)
  • Birch (Betula spp.)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  • Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Fir (Abies spp.)
  • Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Lemon (Citrus limonum)
  • Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
  • Melaleuca (Melaleucaalternifolia), also known as Tea Tree
  • Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata)
  • Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
  • Orange (sweet) (Citrus silences)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
  • Pine (Pinus spp.)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Tangerine (Citrus reticulate)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  • Any other oils comprising phenol

* spp. is the abbreviation for “species”.

Please note that just because an oil is excluded from this list, does not mean that it’s considered safe for felines. Have your fur baby’s best interests at heart by making certain that you are purchasing an essential oil that will not affect them negatively.

Toxicology reports have discovered that cats are far more vulnerable than other mammals to two constituents in essential oils called pinene and limonene. These components are found in pine and citrus essential oils and make up ingredients in natural pine and citrus cleaning products as well as natural repellents for ticks and fleas.

Pawtionary (Cautionary) Measures:

  • Ensure that essential oils don’t rub off your skin and onto your cat.
  • Regardless of certain product instructions, never apply essential oils directly onto your cat. They may attempt to lick it off when grooming and ingestion is the most dangerous route for toxins to plague the feline body.
  • Ensure any materials cleaned with essential oils are stored out of reach from your cat.
  • Store all your oils away from your cat’s reach. Essential oil bottle lids can leak and this could wreak havoc to your cat’s health if ingested by them.
  • Where possible, dilute your essential oils so that if your cat does ingest them, the consequences will be far less dire than if consumed in higher concentrations.
  • As soon as you notice a leaking diffusor, safely dispose of it in a place that’s out of your cat’s nosy reach.
  • Always keep the local poison control centre’s contact number at hand in case of emergencies.        

Safer Alternatives to Using Essential Oils:

  • Oil burners aren’t the best substitute because the risk factors associated with them are too high. Cats can either knock them over causing a fire, burning themselves or ingesting the spattered oil.
  • Aerosol diffusors and those containing hydrosols instead of essential oils are considered safer alternatives as the scent is released in the form of a mist which is more diluted and challenging for inquisitive furry felines to access.

If you choose to use essential oils in your home for any reason, do so with the utmost caution as these seemingly harmless oils could be detrimental to your four-legged baby.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

South Africa – World’s Biggest Exporter Of Live Endangered Animals

Image: Pixabay

South Africa is facing an unprecedented crisis in the animal export industries. In the last 14 years the country legally exported more than 10,000 live, endangered mammals, making it officially the world’s number one exporter of endangered wildlife species.

The latest Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora report states that the booming industry made commercial sales in excess of R19,7 billion, but conservation bodies say the trend is becoming a significant threat to the survival of the continent’s wildlife than poaching.

“This continues the breeding of captive animals for the pet trade. They (breeders) remove them, hand-rear them, when they start breeding them again, they do the same thing. It’s just fuelling the trade and there’s a lot of abuse that takes place,” says senior inspector Isabel Wentzel, manager of the wildlife protection unit at the NSPCA.

“There’s a lot of internal trade with these things inside Africa where its out of hand and nobody actually knows the extent of it,” said Wentzel.

Globally, the most exported animal overall is the African Green Monkey, a popular pet, with over half finding themselves in Russia — the biggest importer of animals.

“Those of us troubled by this data must understand that Africa’s legitimate economic and cultural imperatives drive these exports — and frequently poaching as well — and that stopping them is not simple. For one thing, the income derived from animal exports would have to be replaced.” Says Big Think analyst Robyn Berman.


Written by: Garreth Van Niekerk
Source: Huffpost

Meat without animals to hit shelves in 2021

Meat without animals to hit shelves in 2021

Image: Pixabay


A growing number of startups are trying to produce meat products without using animals, with a view to addressing concerns about animal welfare and the carbon footprint of meat. However, Chris Lo, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, reports that new products will not be ready to hit the shelves until 2021.

Lo commented: “Memphis Meats, a 2016 startup secured funding this year from a group of investors, including Bill Gates and Richard Branson, as well as food industry heavyweight Cargill and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. Venture capital group DFJ, which has previously backed Skype, Tesla and Twitter, led the funding.”

Clean meat

Memphis says its ‘clean meat’ is “identical to the meat we eat, down to the cellular level”. They are competing with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, which produce plant-based burgers said to emulate beef burgers more closely than has been achieved before.

Memphis produces meat by using animal cells, as its products are not meat alternatives. The Silicon Valley-based group has produced beef, chicken and duck in its lab and is aiming to produce all meats by the same methods. The process works by combining self-producing cells in tanks, or bioreactors with oxygen, sugar and other nutrients. 

The resulting product is being positioned as a meat that is produced without harming animals or producing methane. There is no wasted land or excess water use, and no deforestation for cattle grazing. The resulting ‘clean meat’ will not have come from animals treated with antibiotics, or grazed on chemically fertilised soil, nor will the meat have been contaminated with anything undesirable in a slaughterhouse.

Aiming for commercially sustainable production

Lo, added, “The ‘meat’ is being publicised by its venture capital investors as having a better taste and more nutritional value than real meat. However, the presence of Cargill on the investment roster is significant, signalling that Memphis is firmly aiming for commercially sustainable production: a product that is affordable to the growing Chinese and Indian middle classes. Success will ultimately require a huge amount of trust from consumers and transparency from Memphis.”

Source: Bizcommunity


Canine Parvovirus

Image: Pixabay

Canine parvovirus is an exceptionally infectious disease that can prove fatal to dogs. The virus more commonly develops in the small intestine, where it replicates, wiping out cells and impairing the stomach lining. Parvo in puppies is especially concerning as it can attack the bone marrow, tissues and the heart muscles, potentially causing permanent cardiac issues or death.

Methods of Transmission
Parvo can be transmitted through dog-to-dog contact or when a dog sniffs or licks an object, person or animal that has been contaminated by infected faeces. This highly resilient virus can survive for substantial periods of time on items such as food and water bowls, shoes, clothes, carpets and floors. Outdoors, it can survive for years if shielded from the sun.

The following symptoms are associated with canine parvovirus: 

  • severe, bloody diarrhoea
  • dehydration
  • lethargy
  • fever or low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • severe weight loss
  • depression
  • weakness

Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of the above symptoms. Warn them in advance if you suspect parvo so they can take the necessary quarantine precautions to prevent subjecting other dogs to the virus.

Parvo can be diagnosed according to clinical symptoms and faecal testing to identify the virus in your pooch’s stool. Your vet may also insist on conducting various blood works, urine analysis, abdominal radiographs as well as ultrasounds.

It’s helpful to give a sample of your pup’s stool or vomit to your vet for analysis to determine whether parvo is the culprit of your dog’s ill health.

Parvo can be a deadly disease if not recognised and treated early. Currently, there is no treatment to cure this life-threatening illness. Intensive treatment in a hospital setting is usually recommended to nurse the associated symptoms and alleviate any chance of developing secondary bacterial infections. Your pup will have lost vast amounts of fluids, proteins, nutrients and electrolytes from vomiting and diarrhoea so it’s important to intravenously replace these to combat the possibility of dehydration. Your puppy will most likely be administered antibiotics to fight off bacterial infections as well as drugs to control nausea and vomiting.

Timely parvo vaccinations of all puppies and adult dogs in your household are crucial in warding off this infection.

Puppies require their first vaccination at 8 – 9 weeks old, their second at 11 – 12 weeks old, and their third at 14 – 16 weeks old. A re-vaccination should take place again at 1 year of age and then every 3 years thereafter.

Until your pup has received all their updated shots, isolate them from unvaccinated dogs or from environments where infected dogs could have contaminated the area.

Make sure that your puppy training school requires proof that all dogs enrolled are vaccinated so to prevent outbreaks like parvo.

Unvaccinated adult dogs may be vulnerable to parvovirus. Consult your vet about immunising your dog along with any further vaccinations going forward.

Parvo is impervious to most common disinfectants; however, household bleach is known to successfully kill the virus. Soak an infected dog’s accessories as well as potentially contaminated shoes and clothing in the ratio of 1-part bleach to 32 parts water for 10 minutes. Surfaces such as grass, carpets and floors should be sprayed with this steriliser or resurfaced entirely.

Pregnant females should also receive the complete course of parvo shots because her puppies will rely on the antibodies from her milk in the initial weeks of their lives.

If your infected dog has been in contact with other dogs, tell their respective owners to get their dogs tested for parvo as soon as possible.

Limit your pup’s proximity to other dogs’ poop while quickly cleaning up that of your own dog’s, be it at home or in a communal environment.

Isolate your pooch for approximately two months after recovery so other dogs are not exposed to the virus.

Susceptible Victims
Interestingly, certain canine breeds are more vulnerable to parvo such as Labradors, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, American Staffordshire Terriers, English Springer Spaniels and German Shepherds.

Unvaccinated puppies or adult dogs are particularly susceptible to parvo.

From around six weeks to six months, puppies are at the highest risk of contracting this virus. Females weaning their pups are vulnerable to parvo as well as to other secondary infections, so it’s essential to understand how to properly care for both mom and pups.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

Can a Cough Kill Your Cat?

Nobody enjoys a kitty coughing, especially when it’s such an uncommon trait in cats. Read on to learn more about the causes, treatments and preventions so your cat remains cough-free and healthy.

Different causes can bring about coughing in cats. Some are less complicated than others so it’s vital to get it checked by your vet as it could potentially be life-threatening if left untreated.

Coughing is generally a means of preventing a build-up of foreign objects and secretions in the airways. It can, however be prompted by the following:

  • Allergies and asthma
    A cat’s air passages may become inflamed and contract when something agitates them, thereby making breathing difficult. The associated cough could be minor yet persistent.

    • Allergy and asthma triggers include:
      • mold
      • obesity
      • stress
      • perfume/essential oils
      • cigarette smoke
      • cat litter dust
      • pollen
  • Lung cancer
    Feline lung cancer may present itself in the form of a dry cough and the cat will usually appear lethargic. Medication can treat some tumors but if they fail to do so, surgery may be required. 
  • Tight collars
    Any pressure against your kitty’s windpipe can cause damage, resulting in coughing.
  • Heartworm Disease
    Heartworm is caused by infested heartworm larvae that spread via mosquito bites. One of the many symptoms of heartworm is coughing and preventative medication can be given to avoid this condition.
  • Aspiration pneumonia
    Aspiration pneumonia in felines can be caused by inhaling foreign matter from regurgitating gastric acid or vomiting. This then results in the cat’s lungs becoming inflamed.
  • Congestive Heart Failure
    Cardiac disease could be a reason for your kitty’s coughing spells. Your vet will conduct an electrocardiogram, X-ray, ultrasound or MRI to verify if the heart is, in fact, the reason for the coughing.
  • Respiratory Disease
    Coughing in cats could also indicate disease affecting the lower or upper respiratory tracts.

Helping Your Vet
To assist your vet in identifying the precise cause of the cough, you will need to give them a thorough account of the cough concerned:

  • Description: Does the cough sound wet (productive) or dry (unproductive)?
  • Time of occurrence: Night coughs could be associated with fluid in the lungs or cardiac failure
  • Triggers: Coughing during or after exercise could prove to be heart disease. If coughing occurs after consuming food, it could be attributed to issues with the larynx or the esophagus.

This knowledge is invaluable to the vet in identifying probable causes; conducting relevant tests to pinpoint a diagnosis and to remedy the cough with appropriate treatment. 

The cause of the cough will determine the treatment administered.

Treatment options could vary between antibiotics, steroids, cough suppressants, other drugs or surgery. Always finish a course of antibiotics, even if the symptoms appear to have subsided.  Be vigilant in administering the prescribed dosages to your cat as over-dosage of these medications can be fatal.

Take actions that will reduce the chances of your purring pal developing a cough by:

  • Regularly testing them for internal parasites.
  • Avoiding aerosol cleaners, perfumes and air fresheners that may agitate your cat.
  • Adhering to consistent feeding, play and cleaning schedules each day as cats are usually prone to falling ill when their routines change.
  • Buying cat litter that is dust-free and scentless.
  • Exercising your cat regularly so they maintain a healthy weight.
  • Never subjecting your feline fur ball to cigarette smoke.
  • Using a humidifier in dry air.
  • Ensuring your cat is protected from heartworm by giving them preventative medication.

Give your vet consistent updates about how your cat has responded to the prescribed treatment and any improvement of the cough or lack thereof. Follow-ups with your vet will be necessary for them to assess your cat’s progress and if medication needs to be adjusted. In some cases, ongoing treatment may be required for a kitty to make a full recovery.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson