Q&A with a Purina expert

You asked and Purina answered. Dry nose on your cat? Worried about your dog chewing on a bone? Are flowers dangerous to cats and dogs? The expert Purina team have read your questions and concerns and they’ve shared their answers and words of wisdom here. Read on below to see the responses…

Q. Do you suggest Purina cat & dog biscuits for older dogs and middle aged cats?

Yes, Purina formulates food specifically designed for all life stages of pets including seniors. These foods are designed to help your dog or cat as they start to slow down in their daily activity, often being lower in calories and higher in other functional nutrients to help adjust for the aging process and a reduction in their metabolic rate. You can read more about feeding a senior dog here.

Q. My dog is very territorial and gets aggressive when people and other dogs walk by. What do you suggest?

This can be tricky to tackle. We suggest you speak with your local vet for a recommendation or referral to a veterinary behaviourist or appropriate dog trainer in your local area. Someone who will be able to take a detailed history, observe and understand the triggers for the unwanted behaviour in your individual dog, will be in the best position to suggest an appropriate action plan and to help you implement it for the best outcome for both you and your dog.

Q. Do dogs suffer from grief when their partner or owner dies? If so, how can I support/comfort them?

Dogs are capable of a far greater range of emotions than most of us have ever imagined – and that can certainly stretch to canine grief. Recognising the problem is the first step to caring for them. If your dog’s mood or behaviour has changed suddenly, we always recommend that you visit your vet to check for any underlying medical causes first. Once your dog has received a clean bill of health, ask for a referral to an accredited experienced veterinary behaviourist. These specialists are trained to identify behavioural issues and understand the root cause, and can help you transform your dog’s mood and life for the better. Read more from Purina on this topic here.

Q. Why do dogs like squeaky toys and are they good for them to play with?

A good dog toy stimulates your dog’s mind. It allows them to use their natural instincts, whether that is chasing, searching, or solving a problem. It also makes these activities fun for your dog, so they enjoy themselves while leading a healthy life. We always recommend supervision with any toy, especially if they love to seek and destroy the squeaky ones! Every dog is different though, which is why we have a variety of toys available in our PURINA Total Care range. Here is a link which may be helpful: https://www.purina-aoa.com/articles/dogs/behaviour/play/toys-for-dogs

Q. Is a dry nose a bad sign for cats?

A tricky question to answer as everyone’s idea of dry or wet is different and the environment also plays a role in moisture levels. In addition every cat will have varying degrees of “normal”. That said, no one knows your pet better than you and your vet. Always consult your vet if you have any concerns, but particularly if your cat has damaged/discoloured skin around their nose, nasal discharge, or difficulty breathing.

Q. Are bones actually safe for dogs?

If you’re looking for information about feeding bones to your dog, you’ve probably discovered that there’s lots of conflicting advice out there! This is because although bones can provide some very limited dental benefits for dogs, the very serious risks of choking, splintering and physical trauma outweigh any potential benefits. At Purina we don’t advise feeding bones to your dog. Read more on this topic here.

Q. How can I stop my cat from scratching the furniture?

Cats have an absolute requirement to scratch and sharpen their claws as part of their natural behaviour and it’s very important to their wellbeing that they are given an opportunity to do this. However, scratching and tearing up your sofa or prized wooden table legs is often a far from ideal solution, so there are a few tips which may be helpful. If they have access to the outdoors, they will often transfer their affections to a tree trunk or wooden fence. If they don’t have outdoor access, then buying a roughly textured scratching post is a good first option and placing it in a corner of the same room as the furniture they’re currently scratching up, often means your cat will transfer their affections to the new scratching post instead of your sofa. Another tip is to mix up the texture, some cats love rope/sisal/jute scratchers, others prefer cardboard, so if the one you have isn’t enticing enough try a different type. For kittens while they are learning and exploring, it’s best to encourage use of the scratching items you have specially bought for them. For cats of all ages, make sure to play and reward the behaviour you wish to see! Here is a link which may be helpful: https://www.purina-aoa.com/articles/cats/behaviour/training/stop-cats-scratching-furniture

Q. Is coconut oil safe for cats?

This is a great question and although coconut oil isn’t poisonous for cats, we wouldn’t recommend supplementing their diet with it. This is because it has a very high fat content, lots of calories and can also lead to tummy upset if your cat struggles to digest it. Always consult your vet when considering adding supplements of any sort to your pet’s diet. This is because they are in the best position to know the individual health of your cat and whether specific supplements might be beneficial or not. Here is a link if you have a similar question about dogs: https://www.purina-aoa.com/articles/dogs/feeding/what-dogs-eat/can-dogs-eat-coconut

Q. Is yarn safe for my cat to play with?

We do not recommend yarn be left for your cat to play with and especially if they are unsupervised. Cats move very quickly and not only could they easily get tangled in the yam/string, they might also end up swallowing it. This can very rapidly turn into a veterinary emergency requiring surgery of the intestines. The same advice holds true for Christmas tinsel, thread and any streamer-like material, unless you’re in charge and keeping a firm hold of one end at all times.

Q. What flowers and plants in the home are dangerous for my cat and dog?

There are a number of indoor plants and flowers which are not suitable to have with companion animals in the home as they can be toxic if eaten. Of course this advice also depends on your individual pet and how much they interact with their environment, particularly how curious they are about exploring new additions such as plants and flowers. Most of the poisonous plants are only dangerous once ingested, but sometimes an exploratory lick can be enough to cause serious illness. Here are two links for guidance: https://www.purina.co.nz/articles/dogs/feeding/what-dogs-eat/harmful-dog-foods

To see more from Purina, visit www.purina.com.au to browse their tips and range of products.

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