Tails Blog

Here are a few things I learned about catnip

Steve Coppell - Friday, April 09, 2010

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a plant in the mint family that grows wild as a weed.

Cats under three months of age usually do not respond to catnip. Most older cats typically become excited or aroused as they smell, chew and eat catnip.
They will frequently salivate, roll and rub, and sometimes run and leap in the air when responding to the catnip. It may be applied to scratching posts or used in stuffed toys.

Not all cats are stimulated by catnip to the same degree, and over a third of cats will not respond at all. Strange as it may seem, the different responses are probably due to environmental factors, and the gender of the cat, (males are more likely to respond than females). If a cat that normally responds to catnip is in a strange environment or is anxious, she may not react to the catnip. Cats in certain genetic lines do not react to catnip. No one really understands the genetic trait, but it can be bred into a line through genetic selection.

The cat active ingredient in catnip is nepatalactone. This substance closely resembles a chemical found in the urine of female cats.This would explain why unneutered males generally have more of a reaction to catnip than females and neutered males.

Give catnip no more than once a week or the effects may diminish. Cats love it green and fresh. Bruise it slightly before giving freshly cut stems or leaves. If using dried catnip, store it in a sealed container in the fridge and give up to a teaspoon per cat weekly.


What foods could be dangerous for my dog

Steve Coppell - Thursday, April 08, 2010

Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other species of animals, can pose hazards for dogs because of their different metabolism.Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness and even death. The following list contains some of the common food items that should not be fed to dogs.

Alcoholic beverages  Can cause intoxication, Coma,and Death

Baby food
  Can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs.(see Onion and Garlic)

Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources
  Can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.

Cat food
  Generaly too high in protien and fats.

Chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffiene
Can contain caffiene, theobromine, or theophylline, which can be toxic and effect the heart and nervous system.

Citrus oil extracts
Can cause vomiting.

Fat trimmings
Can cause pancreatitis

Grapes and raisans
Contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys. There have been no problems associated with grape seed extract.

Unknown compound causes panting, increased heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures, and death.

Human vitamin supplements containing iron
  Can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to other organs including the liver and kidneys.

Large amounts of liver
  Can cause   vitamin A toxicity, which effects muscles and bones.

Macadamia nuts
  Contain an unknown toxin, which can effect muscles, the digestive and nervous systems.

  Depresses the nervous system, cause vomitingand changes in the heart rate.

Milk and other dairy products  Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose -free milk products are available for pets.

Moldy or spoiled food, garbage  Can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhea and can also affect other organs.

Mushrooms   Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.

Onions and garlic raw,cooked, or powder  Contains sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Garlic is less toxic than onions.

Persimmons  Seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.

Pips from peaches and plums  Can cause obstruction of the digestive tract.

Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves, potato and tomato stems  Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem for livestock.

Raw Fish  Can result in a thiamine or vitamin B deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.

Raw eggs  Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin a vitamin B. This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain salmonella.

Salt  If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.

String  Can become trapped in the digestive system called a string foreign body.

Sugary Foods  Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.

Table scraps  Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10 per cent of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat, bones should NOT be fed.

Tobacco  Contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, callapse, coma and death.

Yeast Dough  Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Xylitol artificial sweetener  Can cause liver failure.


My cat scratches the furniture

Steve Coppell - Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Scratching is a natural behaviour. Cats scratch to mark their territory, to stretch their muscles and for sheer enjoyment. It is impossible to stop a cat from scratching, so the only way to protect the furniture is to train the cat to scratch something more appropriate.

Provide an Alternative
All cats should be provided with at least one scratch post, preferably in an upright design that mimics the basic shape of a tree, something that  the cat can strech its body against to its full height. To fulfill this requirement, a post should be a minumim of 70cm in height.

Whether you provide a home scratcher or buy one, make sure it is securely anchored. If it tips over just once your not likely to get pus near the offending structure ever again, much less scratching it.

Scratch posts should be placed in a common area rather than hidden away when you first bring them home. Scratching cats are usually marking their territory, and the areas of a home they value are often those where their humans spend time. Once the cat has adapted to using the post, you may be able to move it to the far edge of a room or tuck it into a corner.

Train your cat to use a scratch post
Some cats turn up their noses at scratch posts when they first encounter them. You can help your cat develope positive associations with the post.Keep the post near where your cat sleeps. Play with your cat near it, rub or spray catnip into it, attach the cats favorite toys to it and give your cat treats when it uses the post. All these things will encourage the cat to associate the scratcher with its own territory.

Decrease the appeal of your furniture
When you first begin training your cat to use the scratch post, it is also helpful to encourage it to give up habitual scratching areas. Covering a favored scratching area with tin foil, sand paper, or double sided sticky tape will make the surface unappealing to scratch. Once the scratching habit has been broken and the cat has learned to prefer the post the covering can be removed.

Because a scratching cat releases its scent through its paws to mark its territory, its a good idea to thoroughly clean the areas that the cat once scratched to decrease its appeal. If the cat still goes back to scratch these areas, you can pair this behavior with a harmless but unpleasant stimulas. Purchase a spray gun or water bottle and squirt the cat each time it attacks the sofa, or blow a whistle whenever the bad behavior occurs. For those deterants to work, they must be done while the cat is actually scratching. Doing them afterward will simply perplex and upset the cat but not change the behavior because the cat will not make the connection between the two events.

When attempting to change the cats behavior, never use physical punishment. Hitting rarely changes cat behavior for the better, and is in fact more likely to create feelings of insecurity and anxiety in the cat that will result in even worse behavior.

Canine Ear Mites

Steve Coppell - Sunday, April 04, 2010

Canine Earmites

Can you amagine 1000s of little mites crawling around inside your ear canals? Just the movement of these mites in this sensitive area can drive a cat or dog mad! Is your dog rubbing his ears vigorously? And are you finding it a bit weird?


Just observe him for the following symptoms closely.
:Constant scratching around the ears.
:Ears are sensitive or hurt when touched.
:Dark brown to black debris in the ears.
:Rubbing the head and ears against objects.
:Head shaking.
:Foul smelling oder coming from ears.

If you feel these symptoms exist, then its time for an ear inspection. Dog ear mites are very small, but you may be able to see them with a magnifying glass.Look for small moving white specs on the dark debris in your dogs ears.If your not sure if you are dealing with an ear mite infestation or an ear infection it is best to bring your dog to a vet straight away.

What are ear mites?

So what are ear mites? Basically a dogs ears are normally warm dark and moist. This is also  a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.Ear-mites are tiny external parasites that live in the ear canal of dogs.They have tiny tentacles that aggrivate the ear canal, making your dog susceptible to bacterial or fungal infection. They cause pain and discomfort as they actually bite through a dogs skin to feed.
Ear mites can be transmitted to other pets also. Mites have a life cycle of about three weeks. Like fleas they can survive away from an animal for a period of time. If you have any other pets you should treat each of them along with your infected pet. Make sure to give a good cleaning to any areas where your dog spends significant time-like the couch, carpets or his dog bed. Also, ear mites are the most common reason for an ear infection getting transfered from a mum to pup.


As in any disease, early treatment of ear mites is crucial to prevent a more serious ear infection. Just remember to clean the ears throughly before treatment. Treat long enough with vet approved ear mite drops and it should be easy to rid your pet of these common pests. The treatment primarily includes washing out the debris with an insecticidal formular that will kill the mites and any eggs that may hatch in that period of time. It's also better to sprinkle some flea powder on the dogs skin. Remember, if a bacterial ear infection is left untreated it can result in loss of hearing. And do not stop the treatment mid-way, else he may get infected again, as mites lay eggs.

So prevention is better than cure, isn't it?

Is your pet scratching its ears?
Frequent ear scratching is a common symptom of ear mites. Often you will see this causes discomfort, especially if they have ear mites over a prolonged period of time. 

Fidos Ear Drops are an effective treatment for ear mite infestations, mild bacterial and fungal ear infections in dogs and cats. Apply these drops twice daily for at least 14 days.

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Just click on Fidos Dog and Cat Ear drops

Pets and their impact on our health

Steve Coppell - Saturday, February 20, 2010

Click on the picture above and it will link you to an interesting episode of "HEALTH MATTERS"
Where the topic of pets and their impact on our health.
This works better for those of you who have broadband.

Taming and handling mice

Steve Coppell - Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taming and Handling your Mice

A tame mouse will let you hold him and pick him up without becoming frightened.  The more time you spend holding and playing with your mice, the more quickly they will learn to trust you and become tame. It is best to begin your taming sessions in the early evening, when your mice are naturally awake.  If your mice are sleeping when you want to play with them, call their names, tap on their nest box and allow them a few moments to wake up before you visit. If you startle or grab your pets, they might bite you.  Do not force your pets to come out of their next box when they would clearly rather sleep.

Some mice are very jumpy and active.  If your pets’ exhibit such behaviour, it is best to start taming them by keeping your hand inside their cage, rather than taking your pets out of their cage.  Let your mice sniff and crawl on your hand, place a food treat in the palm of your hand and encourage them to climb onto your hand.  Do not make rapid movements with your hands.  If your mice seem confident, try using a finger to pet a mouse along his side or behind his ear.  Even a brief momentary stroke will work, continue to slowly pet your mice within their cage while talking softly to them so they get used to your voice.  Eventually your pets will climb onto your hands, they might even climb out of the cage and up your arm.  Replace the mice in their home before they get too far up your arm and they will renew their quest to explore outside their with renewed vigour and confidence.

Holding Mice

You can use one of several methods to pick up a mouse: (1) pick him up by scooping him into your hands; (2) pick him up by his tail; or (3) scoop him up in a small container.  The preferred method is to let him climb onto your hand or to scoop him up under his belly.  Mice can be frightened when a hand descends down over their back, so always put your hand in the cage palm up , lower it to the bottom of the cage, then move it towards your mouse.  Do not turn him over on his back and expose his belly, this posture makes mice feel vulnerable and they will become upset and will struggle frantically to right themselves.  Keep in mind that a normally docile mouse might bite you when he is frightened.

You can use the base or middle of the mouse’s tail to pick up your pet.  But you must be extremely gentle and you must immediately allow him to rest his body on your other hand or arm.  Do not pick up your mouse by the end of his tail, doing so is uncomfortable for him and your pet can turn and bite your finger, which will probably cause you to drop him.  Do not hold your mouse by his tail for longer than necessary, if you restrain your mouse by his tail he will struggle to get away.  Instead, let him rests in one hand and use your other hand to block or control his movements.  Never drop your mouse into his cage by his tail, doing so could fracture his spine.

Mice do not like being scooped up in a container because containers usually have smoother sides that do not let the mouse hold onto anything.  Nonetheless, this method may become useful in an emergency.  Be sure the container you choose will easily fit into and out of the cage, do not chase the  mice around the cage with the container, place it on the cage floor near a corner and gently coax your mouse into the container.  Cover the top of the container with one hand to prevent your mouse from leaping out.

Mice are nimble.  Until your mouse is calm and tame, always use two hands to hold him.  Loud noises and sudden movements could scare your pet and cause him to jump out of your hands.  Use one hand to hold your mouse and lightly cup your other hand over his back or in front of his face.  Keep your mouse close against your body for greater security.  It is also prudent to immediately sit on the ground when first teaching a mouse to be held; then, if he does jump, the distance is much less than if you were standing.

Options for play outside your pets’ cage include large plastic enclosures made especially for small pets that you can set up much like a child‘s playpen, a high-sided plastic swimming pool (at least 32cm high) or a parrot play-stand.  Place bedding, nest boxes and toys in the play-ground, all these enclosures should be escape-proof.  Plastic run-about-balls are another option.  Be sure to choose the smaller, mouse-sized ball, only one mouse can be placed in a run-about-ball at a time.  Always supervise your pets, stairs and other pets are potential hazards.  Small balls are designed to move on a racetrack, which helps to confine your mice’s movements to a safe place.

An Escapee

Should your mouse escape from his home, place the cage on the floor next to a wall, do  not leave the cage door open since you other mice will join the wanderer.  Instead, provide the remaining mice with a new nest box, take the old nest box and the nesting material and place it on the floor next to the cage.  Quite often, the mouse will return to the cage area and then fall asleep inside his familiar nest box.

Introducing Mice to each Other

If one of your mice dies and you want to get your remaining mouse a companion, you should follow these steps.  Mice are territorial and often do not accept an unfamiliar mouse.  Adult mice placed together in a cage for the first time will fight, sometimes until death.  Remember, you can pair a male and a female, or two females, but not two males.

A new cage is an unanticipated cost to purchasing a new mouse friend for your original pet.  It is important that the cage or cages  you use for the introduction be new, your original mouse will resent any newcomer’s intrusion into his territory.  He will be aggressive in defence of his home and the chances of a successful introduction will be reduced.  Buy a younger mouse to increase the chances for success, they tend to be more readily accepted than another adult.

Several methods can be used to facilitate the introduction; place your original mouse in a wire cage, and place the new mouse in another wire cage.  Slide the two cages together so the mice can smell one another through the cage bars.  Alternatively, you can try dividing a wire cage or aquarium with a piece of wire mesh.  You must be certain to securely place the wire so that the weight of the mice pressing against it will not cause it to fall.  The spaces between the wire mesh should also be small enough that a mouse cannot push his nose through and bit the other mouse.

Over the next several days, switch the mice several times a day between the cages or sides of the cage.  Usually the two mice will accept one another within several days.  If they fight, you must continue switching them back and forth for several more days before once again housing them in the same cage.  Carefully watch your mice for the first few days they share a home to make sure that they do not fight and have accepted one another.  Look out for bite wounds.  Providing two nesting boxes can reduce the likelihood of fighting.

Feeding Parrots

Steve Coppell - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

About Seed Mixes
Seed mixes are wasteful and a potential source of poor nutrition.

Parrots don`t eat the husk and select only favourite seeds wasting up to 40 % of the seed mix.
Commercial seed mixes are made to a price and often contain grain that parrots wont eat.

Poor Nutrition
Seeds in seed mixes are either deficient in essential nutrients or have them poorly proportioned.
Storage time and conditions will reduce the nutritional value of seed.
Most packaged seed does not have an expiry date so it is difficult to know its age or quality.

Passwell Pellets
Passwell pellets are totally edible and contain all essential nutrients in a balanced formula.
Your birds get excellent nutrition while you save money.
They also have a best before date so the quality is guaranteed.

Changing to Pellets
Parrots need to modify their feeding technique to eat pellets.
Initially they will disintegrate the food trying to remove the husk, but they soon learn to consume the pellets and will even eat any powder produced during feeding.
Begin change over early in the morning on a mild day. Observe birds regularly during the day to ensure that they are eating the pellets.
Avoid changing over on days that are either very hot or cold.

Direct change to pellets
Applys to pigeons, companion birds, cockatiels and larger parrots. Remove all seed and provide only pellets.
If the birds do not eat during the day then replace the seed before nightfall and try again the next day. If this is not successful then try introducing pellets.

Introducting pellets
For parrots smaller than cockatiels start with a 50-50 mix of pellets and seed then slowly increase the proportion of pellets. Remove all seed once birds begin to eat pellets.

How much to feed
Depends on temperature size of bird and cage size. Never fill the feed bowl as birds will scatter the pellets in search of other food. At most have two layers of pellets in the feed bowl.

Non Breeding Birds
Cockatiels,parrots and pigeons 5 to 15grams per bird per day.
Large parrots and cockatoos 25 to 40grams per bird per day.

Breeding Birds
Feed 50 per cent more than the non breeding requirement of pellets.

What to feed with pellets
Pellets are a complete diet. Limit the use of supplements and treats.

Non breeding birds
Feed any three of the following each day.
Small Parrots an eighth of an apple, pear, kiwifruit, banana, orange, corn cob or silverbeet leaf.
Large Parrots a quarter of an apple, pear, kiwifruit, banana, orange, corn cob or silverbeet leaf.
Cockatoos half an apple, pear, kiwifruit, banana, orange, corn cob or silverbeet leaf.

Breeding Birds
Double the amount suggested for non breeding birds and also feed an egg and biscuit mix.

Cat food and your Cats Eating Habits

Steve Coppell - Saturday, November 21, 2009

Did you know?

Cats have only 500 taste buds, compared to 1700 for dogs and 9000 for humans.
Cats eat in cycles, a trait passed down from their ancestors that hunted for food?
Don't mistake these peaks and valleys as signs your cat dislikes its food. Switching petfood brands frequently in response to your pets whims can reinforce bad eating habits and create finicky eaters.
Its important to change your cats diet gradually!
If you change your cats diet , it must be done gradually so that it's intestinal flora can adjust to the new diet.
10 days transition period is recommended. Following this advice will help reduce the risk of diarrhea.

Sailing the high seas

Steve Coppell - Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sailing the high seas

There have been too many reminders on the news recently about kiwi boaties going out ill prepared. Keep all your family safe this year on the high seas. Tails can sell you a dog life jacket to suit your pet regardless of size.

Have you ever wondered what your dog is saying to you?

Dogs use body language of course, but check out this link to to gain insight into what your dog might be saying to you.

Anything you ever wondered about having a farm animal for a pet.

Kriston Ware - Saturday, November 07, 2009

This link offers some helpful hints for anyone out there with a bit of a farm in the back yard who wants to care for their pet farm animal.