Arts & Life

Pet Patter: Animal grab bag

Samantha Bennett is the co-owner of the pet care business Mille Pattes. This monthly column is a space for simple, useful directions, tips and information designed to keep animals safe and happy.

Rather than focus in on a specific area, this month’s column is dedicated to a pet potpourri.

In an earlier column (maintenance exam for your dog) I detailed what to look for when determining if your dog or cat was in basic good health. Below are two ways to help ensure this:

Ear cleaning

Cats and dogs are very good at keeping themselves clean, but waxy build up and debris associated with ear mites are two examples of when you should step in. You can make use of a commercial ear cleanser meant for pets (do NOT use alcohol or HP) although I find a solution of vinegar ( apple cider vinegar works too) and water (one part v with two parts w) is perfectly fine. Dribble a small amount of the mixture into the ear canal and massage base of ear to loosen debris, wrap cotton or gauze around tip of index finger and gently wipe out any build-up and debris.

Teeth brushing

Teeth health has a real impact on the health and longevity of dogs and cats, 80 per cent of which, three years or older, have gum disease. You can use gauze around a fingertip or a toothbrush. Do not use human toothpaste as fluoride causes intestinal irritation. Focus on the gum line and outside surface, not inner surface, and always be gentle.

Restraining your pet

This is useful if you wish to give your animal an at home maintenance exam or groom your pet, as well as to attend to any minor injuries.

For a dog:

  • Standing: one arm gently around neck and other under belly to stop him from sitting down
  • Lying down: hold front and rear paws on down side (closest to floor). Gently press down on neck with forearm holding front leg to discourage wiggling

For a cat: 

  • Wrap your cat snugly in an old towel, making sure paws are inside, unless you wish to leave a paw at a time out for trimming nails. 

Harmful foods for dogs and cats

  • Fatty or spicy food ( bacon, turkey, sausage) which can cause Pancreatitis
  • Chocolate, especially bakers or dark, can cause hyperactivity, rapid HR, high BP, tremors and seizures
  • Onions and garlic can cause anemia
  • Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs
  • macademia nuts can cause muscle weakness and tremors
  • Zylitol ( sugar substitute found in gum, candy baked goods) can mean life-threatening low blood sugar in dogs

Is your pet experiencing loss of appetite? A vet will help to determine possible reasons, and once you know that, try a little hot water over kibble, drain off water, add small amount of canned food and a bit of low-salt beef or chicken broth.

Finally, an interesting tidbit about animals and the rain. Although it may appear your pet does not wish to get wet, the usual reason an animal is reluctant to venture outside in these conditions is because rain amplifies sound and reverberations, often too intense for their sensitive ears.

Our pets can teach us a lot more than we realize and all it requires is our focus and attention. Animals have much to share!


Samantha Bennett is a writer and the co-owner of the pet care business Mille Pattes.  She can be reached at