A Puzzle for Cats: Fun with Food

Cat health eating
Cat health eating

Cats are animals of mystery. They love to knock things over. They love to spy on you and hide around corners. Let’s not even try to understand the fascination with boxes. A lot of our house cats get bored. We can give them toys and try to captivate their attention, but they are naturally curious and natural hunters. Just as a puzzle exercises the human brain, it too exercises the feline brain.

Cat puzzles are food puzzles for your cat. It is an object that requires your cat to try to figure it out to get their food. There are lots of different kinds of food puzzles from batting food around to be able to put it in their bowl, or hiding food inside a ball. No matter what the puzzle is, the point of it is to force your cat to use their body and their mind to get their food. A study by the University of California, Davis, says that it brings out their domestic foraging behavior. 

Cats use to have to forage for their food. Humans made it too easy by putting their food in a bowl. We took their jobs away. 

There is some link to increase weight loss, and a decrease in anxiety, in cats that used food puzzles. 

Just like with anything, if your cat has been eating out of a bowl its whole life, it will not want to jump right into foraging with a food puzzle. You need to start them off with something easy and let them work their way up to more complex ones. A lot of cat owners say their cat is too lazy to do it. If the puzzle engages their mind, they will not be too lazy and they will do it, especially because they will want to eat. 

You do not need to feed every meal in a food puzzle, but a few times a week to change things up could be a nice break from routine for our feline friends.  Food puzzles can be purchased or created. There are a lot of great food puzzle videos on youtube. 



In the Fold: Skin Fold Dermatitis

dog wrinkles dermatits
dog wrinkles dermatits

I love wrinkly dogs. All their great folds of skin. It is so cute and cuddly and squishy!!!! It is also the perfect place for Fold Dermatitis. Yeah, that is a nasty sounding condition. If you have a wrinkly breed of dog, this is a common condition that you need to watch out for,

The wrinkles in dogs skin create the perfect environment for breeding bacteria, yeast, and fungi, The heat and moisture build-up and bingo, fold dermatitis.   

It is most typically found in the face, lips, vulva, and tail folds, but it can happen anywhere on their body. Most of the time a case of skin dermatitis is short lived but if not treated properly it can become a chronic skin disorder,

It is most common during hotter months, so during the summer. In New Mexico, we have a long hot season so your dog is at risk from about mid-April through mid-October. 

Symptoms of Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

These symptoms may not be present for all kinds of skin fold dermatitis, but if you see any of these, they could be a sign that your dog has this issue. If you think your dog may have this, bring them into your Albuquerque veterinarian for an evaluation. 

  • Moist red areas inside skin folds
  • Rubbing their bum on the carpet (this can also be a sign of needing their anal glands drained)
  • Excessive licking in the vulvar folds, aka. their vagina. 
  • Bad smell
  • Red irritated skin
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Swollen lips
  • Painful lips
  • Discolored and/or matted fur
  • Scratching and rubbing of the face
  • Weeping sores
  • Blisters

There are a few different types of fold dermatitis depending on what part of the body it occupies. Dogs with short and curly tails typical have tail dermatitis.  Lip fold dermatitis is most common in dogs with loose hanging lips. Face dermatitis is most common in dogs with wrinkly faces. Dogs that are not overly wrinkly, but are obese dogs, are at risk as well. Fat rolls on your dog can create a good environment for fold dermatitis. 

Most Susceptible Breeds

Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to skin fold dermatitis than others:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Bloodhounds
  • English Bulldogs
  • Pekingese Pugs
  • Saint Bernards
  • Shar Peis 
  • Shih-Tzus
  • Spaniels


After your Albuquerque vet has diagnosed your dog they may shave the affected area to help keep it clean and dry. They will likely give you a cream to apply and may give you a medicated shampoo to use. Depending on the level of infection, your dog may need an oral antibiotic. 


Make sure to love your wrinkly dog and play with them, and also check between the folds to make sure that everything is dry and healthy. 

Cat’s Haven’t Evolved: Should Your Dog Go Vegan?

dog food new mexico
dog food new mexico

Is this a question you are asking yourself? An increasing number of people are turning towards vegetarian and vegan diets because of links to lower cancer rates and other health benefits in humans. But these health benefits do not necessarily extend to our four legged friends.

There is an increasing trend in pet owners changing their pets omnivorous diet to a vegetarian diet.

In the wild, wolves are carnivorous, but their domesticated brothers and sisters have evolved to being able to digest starches such as potatoes, wheat, corn, and rice. Cats, however, have not evolved. I know many dog lovers will be laughing about that statement, but it is true. Cats remain carnivores. This means that if you put your car on a vegetarian or vegan diet, they will likely die of malnutrition.

Most plant-based dog foods are not compliant with acceptable standards of pet food and 86% of vegetarian dogs that were surveyed were found to be deficient in protein, essential amino acids, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. With lots of supplements, and a high level of monitoring, it is possible that a dog could be healthy as a vegetarian, but it is unlikely. Cats cannot be healthy on a vegetarian diet.

If you want to keep your dog and cat healthy, keep feeding them their balanced meat filled diet. Remember, your pets body and digestive system is not the same for them as for you. Human bodies can eat a lot more than pets and what is healthy for us is not always healthy for them. In fact, there is a lot of food that is toxic to your pet.

If you are concerned about something your pet has eaten, or about their diet, call our Albuquerque veterinary clinic and make an appointment for a well animal checkup.