Should you share your bed with your doggy?

Dog bed

We’re a nation of animal lovers. Around 53% of pet owners consider their four-legged friends to be a member of the family so it’s not surprising that so many of us choose to share the duvet with our pets. Even Queen Victoria is reputed to have shared her death bed with her Pomeranian! They’re our best friends, and a little terrier or collie can make a great hot water bottle in the winter nights, so why wouldn’t we want to cuddle up with them at night time?

Whilst it’s tempting to think that the best option for our pets is to cosy up with us our beds are getting higher whilst our doggies, well, they’re still the same height. The frames are taller as they are increasingly being manufactured to include storage drawers, and cosy mattresses are getting larger to accommodate our human needs, but the longer jump off of them can potentially hurt your pet’s paws. What’s best for humans unfortunately isn’t always what is best for man’s best friend.

From a dog training perspective, a lot of trainers advise that owners choose to offer a separate bed for their pet. This is because as the owner, it is important to maintain your position as pack leader, but dogs can perceive sharing a sleeping area to indicate that you are their subordinate. Whilst this may not be problematic if you’ve established yourself as the “alpha” of the family pack, if your dog is feeling anxious or aggressive these behaviours may be exacerbated by your sleeping arrangement and could mean that you’re at risk of a nip or bite.

Thankfully it isn’t all doom and gloom as adjusting to sleeping separately from your pet doesn’t need to be difficult or disruptive for you or your pet. There are a wide variety of affordable cushions and blankets that can be a comfortable alternative for your pet. The key to making the transition is that your pet understands they’re not being punished and that this new arrangement is just as comfortable as the old. Thankfully there is a wealth of advice available at the click of a button to help owners with implementing this change in their sleeping arrangements.

Having a special sleeping area for your doggy means that your sheets and fabrics are less likely to become full of rogue hairs and germs your pet will have brought in from the garden or their walk. That King Size you splashed out on from BedStar won’t be monopolised by Lassie (and her hairs!) so there will be more space for you to stretch out. You can treat yourself to some new bed linen and throw cushions knowing that little Bruno won’t be chewing on them during the night or leaving them full of fur. Sleeping independently from your pet won’t mean that you love them any less; hopefully it will mean a good night’s sleep for both of you, and less wear and tear on your bedding.

What To Do If Your Cat Has Fleas

If you own a pet cat, you have a responsibility to make sure that your feline friend is living a happy and healthy life.

Whilst this includes ensuring that your cat is provided with comfortable and sufficient living conditions, it also applies to making sure that they are free from disease and infection.

So, let’s say you are playing with your cat one day and you notice that there are tiny reddish-brown coloured insects crawling over their fur. In this situation it’s highly likely that he or she has managed to catch fleas.

Hearing the word fleas is enough to drive any cat owner up the wall, although with regular spot checks and an understanding of the symptoms, your cat can be treated as soon as possible. So where do you start?

Symptoms
Before you can treat fleas, you need to establish if this is definitely what your cat has caught. If your pet is displaying any of the following signs, then there is a good chance that they may be suffering from fleas.

  • Your cat is constantly grooming itself
  • Has bald patches over its tail
  • Has small and scabby patches over its body
  • Is scratching itself more often than usual

On closer inspection, you should brush your cat’s fur and observe if there are any tiny moving dark specs scurrying about. Another way to do this is to place the fur that has stuck to the comb on a white surface, such as a piece of paper, as they will be easy to identify. You may also notice that you have a number of small bites on your ankles too from walking barefoot around the house.

If you do come across tiny, dark moving insects then your cat has fleas. If this is the case, don’t panic, it’s a step in the right direction that you have actually managed to discover them at this stage. If fleas are not treated then there is a chance that your cat can catch worms as a result of infected flea larvae.

Taking action against fleas
Now that you have discovered that your cat has fleas, you need to take appropriate action. The fleas won’t cause your cat any major harm and can be treated easily with the correct prescription.

However, there is a risk that your cat can become allergic to the substances found in flea saliva which can result in flea allergy dermatitis. To avoid this, you need to act straight away.

First of all, speak to your vet to see if they recommend a specific treatment for maximum impact that is more suited for cats and not dogs. Regardless of the product that has been prescribed, always make sure you read the instructions to avoid giving your cat too much medication. If at any stage you are unsure of what you should be doing, seek veterinary advice.

When speaking to your vet, always inform them of any cat flea treatments that you have already been using. Furthermore, check that the medication you are using is suitable if you will be using it for kittens or pregnant cats.

If your vet has told you to use a specific product, such as spot-on solutions, spray or shampoo, then these can be purchased from your vet or a pet supplies store.

Tips and advice
As mentioned above, never give your cat flea treatment that is suitable for dogs, as this could result in death. It is also advised that you keep your cat away from other dogs that have just been treated for fleas to avoid possible contact with these products.

Also, avoid exposing your cat to other insect killer sprays to prevent additive effects and to ensure that your pet can make a quicker flea-free recovery.

In rare cases where your cat suffers an allergic reaction, take them to the vet with the packaging for any flea treatment that you have been using.

Recovery and cleaning your home
With effective usage of the correct medication, your cat will make a swift recovery over a short period of time.

To avoid the spread of fleas, it’s not only your cat that needs to be checked, you also need to thoroughly clean your home.

Fleas will avoid the light and instead live in darker conditions, such as in your carpet. Therefore, as your cat is being treated, vacuum the floors, including all of the nooks and crannies where your cat has been and where the fleas could spread to.

Next, wash your cat’s bedding on a high heat to ensure that any fleas and larvae die out and obtain a household spray to use in areas of the home where your cat has been.

By continuing the flea treatment for the recommended time listed on the product, both your cat and your home should become flea-free and your cat can continue to live without itching and suffering any longer.

This guest post was written by GJW Titmuss, a leading online pet supplies, pet food, and pet accessories store.

How to do a Gram Stain… What a difference a wall makes! (Day 215)

Proteus Mirabilis on Blood Agar

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans

Well today was interesting as we are looking at Gram positive bacteria which are different to the Gram negative bacteria that we have been studying previously. The grouping into gram negative and gram positive bacteria is the most basic step in the identification of bacteria using a technique called Gram Staining (or Gram’s method). The gram stain technique was invented by Hans Christian Gram in the Berlin city hospital in 1984 whilst working in the morgue. Hans originally designed gram staining to make it easier to view bacteria in lung tissue, and noted that it did not stain all the types of bacteria.

Proteus Mirabilis on Blood Agar

This phenomenon is due to differences in the structure of the cell wall when exposed to different chemicals. There are four different chemicals used in the gram stain process; a basic dye, a mordant, decoloriser, and counterstain.

The basic dye is applied first before the mordant which is a substance that increases the bond between the dye and cell wall helping to fix the dye inside the cell. This makes it more difficult to wash off the dye and in the gram stain fixes the gram positive blue colour. A decoloriser is then used which is a substance that removes the dye from the stained cells, this ability varies between the cell wall type and so only gram negative cells lose their dye. The final counterstain is another dye that is applied and fills the cells that have just been cleaned by the decoloriser giving the gram negative red colour.

How to do a Gram Stain

Doing a gram stain is one of the most basic procedures in the microbiology laboratory, and so I wanted to make sure that I had covered it here. The video below demonstrates the steps that are outlined here:

  1. Apply bacteria to a slide, if using a culture plate add a drop of saline solution to the slide to allow the bacteria to be easily spread and then air dry this over a bunsen flame.
  2. Fix the bacteria to the slide by passing the slide back and forth through the bunsen flame.
  3. Apply crystal violet to the slide and let it react for 30 seconds.
  4. Rinse the slide thoroughly under running water
  5. Apply Grams Iodine (or Lugols solution) for 30 seconds
  6. Rinse the slide under running water and then apply 95% ethyl alcohol for 10 seconds
  7. Rinse the slide under running water.
  8. Apply the counterstain; in our case carbolfuchsin for 30 seconds
  9. Rinse the slide under running water and then allow to dry.
  10. Examine the slide under the microscope – I prefer the 100x Oil Immersion lens here!

The video demonstrating how to do a gram stain is here: