Thursday, February 25, 2016

COMING SOON! PRICKED BY A ROSE a new contemporary romance

I'm excited to announce the upcoming release of my latest contemporary romance novel, PRICKED BY A ROSE!!


After being abducted by a serial rapist, Rose McAllister is haunted by nightmares. Wanting a fresh start, she leaves her job in the city and moves three hundred miles away to a quaint college town. She begins to think that a normal life is possible as a budding relationship develops between her and her sexy new neighbor.

Mason Sterling is fighting to move past painful memories of his own. As his attraction for Rose intensifies, the instinct to protect his heart becomes stronger. Can he overcome his trust issues enough to give their relationship a chance to grow into something beautiful? Is she worth risking another broken heart?

PET HEALTH TIP #17- Litter Box Issues

One of the most common reasons people give away their cat is frustration with the cat’s refusal to use the litter box.  Instead of taking the cat to the veterinarian, they assume the cat has a behavioral problem and just get rid of it.  Most of these cats are wonderful animals.  They would have made great pets, if the owners had a better understanding of the underlying problems that caused the cat to refuse to use the litter box.  So, I thought I would share some tips in the hope of preventing a perfectly good cat from ending up in a shelter.

Reason #1-The most common reason a cat will refuse to use the litter box is that they have a medical issue.  This is especially true if the cat has been using the box and then suddenly stops.  There are two main underlying medical issues that will cause a cat to stop using the litter box:  

First, a bladder infection.  Cats are notorious for getting bladder infections.  Their bathroom (i.e. litter box) isn't always the cleanest place in the world.

Second, urinary crystals.  These are caused by mineral deposits that build up in the urine and then form crystals.

Both of these medical issues cause urination to be very painful for the cat.  The cat doesn't know why it hurts to urinate.  She then blames the litter box for the pain and starts trying to go other places.  To make matters worse, she feels like she has to urinate all the time, so she starts urinating everywhere.  That is the most common complaint from the owner, "She just started peeing all over the house." Please, if your cat starts doing this, take it to the vet!

Reason #2-Cats are very sensitive about where they go to the bathroom.  Think about it.  They are very vulnerable during this time.  They want to feel secure about where they are going.  A big mistake that owners make is to stick the litter box next to something that makes a loud noise (i.e. dryer or water heater).  The cat is just plain scared to urinate in those locations and will find somewhere they feel safe.

Reason #3- The number of boxes, type of box, or litter used in the box will play a big role in whether or not your cat feels comfortable using the litter box.  First, the rule of thumb for number of boxes is one for each cat plus one.  So, if you have three cats, then you should have four boxes.  This can become very inconvenient, but if you have cats that don't particularly care for each other, then the last thing they want is to smell each other’s scent while they use the litter box.

The next issue is the type of box.  Some cats like boxes with a lid and door to enter and some don't.  Finally, some cats prefer sand-like litter in their box, some prefer paper, and others like crystals.  If you want your cat to use the box, then you will have to get them the type of box they prefer and place it in an area where they can feel secure.  It's really not asking that much.  In the outdoors, they can go anywhere they choose.  You are asking them to use a particular box placed in a particular area. The least you can do is make it comfortable for them.

Reason #4- Clean the box regularly!  I can't tell you how many times I have asked the question, "How often do you clean the box?" and have been told something like, "Whenever it starts to smell bad."  Do you like to use the bathroom in a place that smells bad?  Remember, by the time it smells "bad" to you, it smells like something died in there to your cat!

Monday, February 15, 2016

PET HEALTH TIP #16- Cat Declaw

One of the most difficult choices a cat owner faces is whether or not to have their cat declawed.  Here are some facts to help in making that decision:

1)  What does the surgery entail?

The claws are removed by removing the last bone in the digit.  Essentially, that would be like removing the ends of all your fingers.  So, it is not just the nail itself that is removed.  The bone has to be removed or the claw will re-grow.  Not only will the claw re-grow, but it will re-grow in an abnormal way and cause a lot of discomfort for the cat.

2)  How painful is the surgery?

This really depends on the age of the cat.  Young kittens who are declawed before they are six months old usually recover within just a few days.  After the first few days, they rarely show any signs of discomfort.  Cats who are declawed over six months of age often show signs of discomfort in their paws for several weeks.  However, there are some very good analgesics (pain medications) on the market that have significantly reduced the amount of post-surgical pain felt by these older cats.  But, if you are going to have the surgery done, the younger the cat the better.

3)  What are some alternatives?

There are several behavioral modification techniques that you can try if your kitten or cat is destroying your furniture.  First, cats do not like water or loud noises.  So, if you spray them with water or blow an air horn every time you catch them scratching something they aren't supposed to scratch, this will be a major deterrent for them.  They also tend to stay away from citrus smells.  So, you can try using lemon or orange scents on the furniture you don't want them to scratch.  Finally, they don't like the feel of plastic or aluminum foil on their paws.  So, you can put a barrier they would have to walk across to get to their favorite scratching area.

Next, you will need to give them an assortment of alternative places to scratch.  These need to be more attractive than the furniture.  Catnip works really well to attract cats to the post you want them to scratch.

Unlike most dogs, cats tend to take a toenail trims pretty well.  You can use human nail clippers to trim the cat’s nails.  Dog toenail trimmers are too big and bulky for the small cat claws.  To trim a cat's nails, press on the end of the toe and the nail pops out.  Then, you can trim off the tips.  By keeping the nails short, they will do significantly less damage when your cat does scratch.

Finally, there are products that can be glued onto your cat’s claws.  I have found these to be difficult to use.  They don't all pop off at once and so it seems to be a constant struggle to keep them on the cat’s claws.

I recommend trying all of the above alternatives before deciding to have your cat declawed; especially, if the cat is an adult.  However, I worked in an animal shelter for several years, and one of the things that caused me the biggest heartache was to see really nice cats given up for adoption because they were destroying the furniture in the house.  Many of the cats never got adopted.  So, I would definitely support having your cat declawed, if the only other alternatives are to turn her out or have her euthanized.  Most cats recover just fine from the surgery and go on to lead happy, healthy lives.

Monday, February 8, 2016

PET HEALTH TIP #15- Intestinal Parasites

Several intestinal worms infest dogs.  The most common intestinal worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.  The one most commonly seen by the owner is the tapeworm.  It looks like a small grain of rice.  The dog is not actually passing the whole worm.  It is passing an immature worm that breaks off the mature worm.  The mature tapeworm can be several inches long and is flat.

Occasionally, if the worm burden is high enough, the owner may also see roundworms in the stool, or the dog may vomit up the roundworms.  These are long spaghetti-shaped worms.  However, most of the time the dog only passes the roundworm, hookworm, or whipworm eggs, which are microscopic.  Therefore, you will not see the worms themselves.

Symptoms of intestinal parasite infestation include: weight loss (or failure to gain weight) and loose stools.  Occasionally, in small puppies, high worm burdens can cause vomiting.  Hookworms can also cause bloody stools.

Another common intestinal parasite is Giardia.  This is not a worm, but is a protozoa.  Dogs with Giardia infections usually have very loose stools to runny diarrhea.

Puppies will often have multiple infestations.  It is common for them to have roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and Giardia all at the same time.  Therefore, it is very important to deworm puppies.  Typically, your veterinarian will deworm your puppy at the same time he receives his vaccinations.  Dog breeders will start deworming puppies as early as a couple of weeks of age.
Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and Giardia are all transmitted fecal-orally through the ingestion of the eggs.  The infested dog will pass the eggs in his stool and then the next dog usually picks the eggs up on his feet.  Then, when he groom himself, he ingests the eggs.  The eggs then mature into adult worms.

Tapeworms are transmitted by the flea.  Dogs typically get tapeworms from biting at the fleas that are biting them.  They accidentally ingest the flea, and the immature stages of the tapeworm are released and mature into adult tapeworms.  Cats often become infested with tapeworms by eating a rodent (rat or mouse) that has fleas.

Most heartworm medications also contain medication that will kill roundworms and hookworms.  So, you are giving them a monthly heartworm and intestinal worm treatment with each monthly dose.

Tapeworms are not killed by most heartworm medications.  Also, most over-the-counter medication do not kill tapeworms.  If you see evidence of your pet passing tapeworms, it is important to make sure you are using a deworming medication that kills them.