Pet Advice - Pet News

Are You Intimidated by Pets?
by Getar

You enter someone's house. Everything is well lit, exposing the complete beauty of the room right in front of you. You notice the intricate designs of the furniture and the various colors complementing each other perfectly. You are awed at the sight, standing there gaping like a fish, but after a while, the novelty of the room vanishes. You notice that nothing else is happening - it's just a pretty room, after all. And before you know it, a puppy jumps into your arms and you gape once more.
Organic pets are an unconventional aspect of home décor, and sometimes aren't even classified as such. Organic pets refer to animals such as dogs, cats and other usual creatures that can be found in the household (plants and 'pet rocks' do not count). Rarely does one get a pet purely for decoration, since they are constantly eating, laying waste and shuffling about. It is perhaps for that reason that the lawn gnome is increasing in popularity. Organic pets may not contribute to the interior design of a house, but people get them because pets have become a common part of a home.

Around 63% of American homes alone include a pet, and among them are 75 million dogs and 88 million cats. Reportedly, 47% of Americans love their pets enough to share their beds with them. That is proof that organic pets are not simply commonly desired accessories in a house - they also become desired members of the family.

Organic pets could actually be more harmful than helpful when it comes to the decorations in one's home. It is common for a pet to have an entire house as its playground. Owners have to train pets to not destroy or ruin any accessories or furniture. Pets have been known to defecate on, bite, scratch and soil even the most valuable items in a house. It is always risky to keep pets, because they sometimes go out of control when left alone. They are also creatures that need constant care and good treatment.

People often wonder why pets are so popular if they are so destructive, and expensive to maintain (especially when factoring in veterinary services, food, grooming, training and buying the actual pet) -- the answer to that is the everlasting need of company for humans. Organic pets have their own unique personalities, and their habits are entertaining. A talkative parrot can liven up a household, and so can an inactive iguana, as long as the owner is loving and caring towards their animals. Dogs and other pets can even provide security, but pets in general are able to forge relationships with people that cannot be duplicated by a plant or a piece of furniture.

A home sometimes seems lonely or plain without the squawks of a parrot, or the presence of the housecat on the living room sofa. Some families consider organic pets the last piece of the house puzzle. They are the living beings that safeguard the home and give it a very lively, fun and enriching environment.

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Organic pets


More Tail-Wagging Tips for Pet Care
The Dallas Morning News

Dear Readers: Here are some more pet hints from Heloise Central:

• Put old newspapers under cat litter for easy litter dumping.

• If your cat likes to kick soiled litter all over the place, protect the wall with plastic wrap or a brown paper bag.

• Cut used paper plates in half to use as scoopers for when your puppy has an accident.

• Use the comics or other decorative sections of the newspaper as pet place mats.

• Make disposable scoops out of plastic jugs – handy if you own a dog in a city with pooper- scooper laws.

• If you need an emergency pet leash, cut a slit in the toe of a pantyhose leg, then slip the toe under the pet's collar and pull the stocking through the slit for a sturdy loop.


Dear Heloise: When our electric skillet quit working, we turned it into a bird feeder. The legs fit securely on the deck ledge, and the birds love to sit in it and eat.

Jana, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: If you have to leave your dog at the vet for a test or a procedure, bring a toy or something with your scent on it. We bring a towel for our dog, which helps him feel at ease.

Angie in Texas

Dear Heloise: When we take our dog on car trips, I place waterproof covers on the seats and rubber mats on the floor. That way, if he has an accident, it's easy to clean up.

Melissa in Texas

Learning Emergency First Aid for Your Pet
Eileen Mitchell - SF Gate

Readers of this column may recall an incident I once shared in which my greyhound, Elvis, nicked his ear tip on a rosebush. The cut was minuscule, but because ear (and tail) tips are so vascular, blood was gushing like a geyser.

By the time I arrived at emergency, the bleeding had stopped, but the on-call doctor cauterized the wound, just to be safe. The five-minute visit was so simple, the receptionist whispered that he probably wouldn't charge me. So did he? You better believe it.

Were that to happen today, I would know exactly how to treat this minor wound myself. After attending a pet first-aid class, I now feel equipped to provide the immediate care required for common illness or injuries that might befall my boy. The three-hour class, taught by the American Safety Academy, is not intended as a replacement for professional medical treatment but teaches how to provide basic emergency care and perhaps save a pet's life until professional care is available.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 1 in 4 injury deaths could have been prevented if first aid had been applied. As anyone who has a pet knows all too well, injuries - from abrasions and bites to burns and bleeding - happen quickly.

Knowledge makes difference
"Unfortunately, pet first-aid training and general emergency preparedness tend to be issues we only think about when it's too late," said American Safety Academy instructor Leigh Bury. "We may feel helpless during an emergency, but when you consider that preventable accidents are the leading cause of death in pre-senior dogs and cats, and that being trained in pet first aid gives us a 1 in 4 chance of saving our pet, we really can make a difference in those first moments of a crisis."

The session I attended featured all dog owners, so our focus was on Fido, although the interactive class is intended for dogs and cats. The manual included in the course fee says that first aid is similar for most pets.

Since our pets can't tell us what is wrong, the illustrated manual provides guidelines for detecting illnesses and injuries as well as instructions for treatment. By following the manual, in tandem with a video and lecture, students are taught how to assess a situation, recognize symptoms and administer care.

"Begin with the three A's," Bury instructed the class. "Assess the scene: Is it safe to approach the animal? Alert your veterinarian or an emergency-care facility: Let them know that you are bringing in a sick or injured pet so they can prepare and meet you outside. Attend to your pet's immediate needs. This means checking their ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation."

Especially helpful was the hands-on practice, using life-size dog mannequins and stuffed animals. We practiced checking for a heartbeat and pulse, learned how to create a restraint if a commercial muzzle isn't available (neckties, pantyhose, belts or Ace bandages) and studied how to administer CPR to a large versus small dog.

We even administered rescue breathing, which is done mouth-to-snout through a protective shield. Should I ever see an anxious Elvis pawing at his face, drooling, breathing loudly and coughing, I will recognize the symptoms of a choking dog and know how to apply a procedure similar to the Heimlich maneuver. Choking is a leading cause of canine cardiac arrest.

"Stick with Nylabones," Bury advised her students. She added that rawhide and pig's ears are notorious choking hazards.

The class covers a large amount of material. The intention isn't to provide a thorough education or foster paranoia but rather to serve as a reminder of the possibilities and the urgency of immediate and proper action. What if your dog is hit by a car? Bitten by a black widow spider? Falls in a pool, is pierced with an arrow or drinks some tasty antifreeze?

Be prepared
The key is to be prepared, which includes having a stocked pet first aid kit. They're similar to human first-aid kits but should also include canned food, veterinarian tape, a penlight, muzzle and leash. Sanitary napkins make excellent substitute gauze pads, and blankets can serve as stretchers. Also include the phone number for the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center, which provides phone consultations. (The number is (888) 426-4435; its Web site says a $60 consultation fee may be applied.) On cell phones, plug in your veterinarian's phone number, plus the number and directions for the closest 24-hour clinic.

"Don't rely on memory," Bury warned. "People tend to panic in an emergency and often can't remember their own names."

When a classmate pointed out that a nearby animal emergency hospital had recently closed, Bury used this as an example of the importance of periodically checking local 24-hour emergency clinics to ensure that the facilities are still operating. Imagine learning otherwise as you stand in front of the hospital's locked doors at 3 a.m. cradling a sick dog.

Fellow student Shirley Wright said she found the class well worth her time. "I have two cairn terriers and one is a senior dog," the Concord resident said. "I just want to be prepared in case he gets in trouble."

Fighting over Fido: Pet Custody Battles on the Rise
TODAY SHOW - Jill Rappaport

Dogs are like kids to splitting couples, but to many courts, they’re property.
Family pets often get caught in the middle of feuding couples.

There have always been plenty of things to fight over when a marriage or relationship falls apart. Now, in addition to houses, money and cars, there’s a new custodial battleground: pets.

TODAY entertainment correspondent Jill Rappaport, a major animal lover herself, reported Thursday on the latest issue that’s being thrown before judges trying to sort out who gets what when relationships fail. In addition to a pre-nup agreement, Rappaport suggested to co-anchor Meredith Vieira, couples with pets should consider a pre-pup agreement as well.

It’s an important point, Rappaport said, because even though people become emotionally attached to pets as they do to children, courts tend to view animals as just another piece of property to be assigned to one litigant or the other.

Life without Dexter
Just ask Doreen Houseman. Two years ago, her fiancé told her he was leaving. They had a pet pug, Dexter. “He told me that I could have Dexter,” Houseman said.

“Dexter means to world to me,” she explained. “He was the best thing that could have happened to my life … I couldn’t imagine not seeing him.”

But then Houseman’s fiancé learned that Houseman had been seeing another man. “It upset him,” she said. “He called me and started yelling and said that I would never see Dexter again.”

Houseman went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to keep her beloved pet. Her fiancé had purchased Dexter, which made the animal his, the judge ruled.

“The judge said he did not want to know about the emotional attachment,” explained Houseman’s attorney, Gina Calogero. “He didn't want to consider it, because to him, the dog was no different from a chair or a couch. They're not people. They're not children.”

Houseman’s ex-fiancé chose not to be interviewed, but his lawyer sent a statement to TODAY that read: “My client purchased [Dexter] with his own funds, had him registered, paid for all veterinary care, and values him as a loyal companion. My client adamantly denies that he ever gave or agreed to give Dexter to his ex-fiancée after their breakup ... Dexter is exactly where he should be.”

Who gets Bobesh?
Fortunately for Mark Haskoor, not all judges are as coldhearted. When he broke up with his wife, he was devastated when she told him she was keeping their dog, Bobesh.

“We got Bobesh when we were together, and then when we separated, she had taken him with her,” Haskoor said. “When I asked to start seeing Bobesh again, the answer was no.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks. He’s my best friend. He's part of my family. I’m not willing to let that go.”

Like Houseman, Haskoor took his case to court. But unlike Houseman, he found a sympathetic judge who worked out a joint custody agreement for Bobesh, treating the pet as if it were a child.

“The way the laws are, it’s a crapshoot,” Haskoor said. “You have to hire a good lawyer that’s willing to take the case, and hope that it gets in front of a judge that’s willing to listen to it. Without those two components, you have nothing.

“I was very lucky to get a judge who either was a very good animal lover, or he just realized that this is a serious thing to people.”

Haskoor’s attorney, Kate McDonough, said that the courts need to consider the emotional attachment people have for their pets, because the issue is becoming increasingly common in divorces.

“There has been an explosion in the court systems of people who want to litigate time sharing and legal ownership of family pets,” McDonough said. “There is some movement in the past years to bring to the courts’ attention the fact that animals, and most often dogs, are really akin to children in terms of how people view them affectionately and emotionally.”

Rappaport said these are cautionary tales that people entering relationships should keep in mind.

“Now all the lawyers say whether you’re married or not, it is always best to have everything spelled out in a written agreement — a sort of pre-nup for your pet,” she said.

Dog Training - Dog Bathing
By John Williams

Dog bathing is a must when living with a dog. Dogs naturally get smelly and are not like cats in being able to wash themselves well and be hygienic, this is why dog owners have to look after their dogs hygiene for them once in a while.

Dog bathing should take place when your dog starts to smell or is very dirty, some breeds of dog find it very hard to keep smelling pretty as you will quickly come to notice. Running around every day rubbing yourself up against trees, bushes, benches and rolling around on grass or getting drenched head to paws in rivers or puddles are all common occurrences in a dogs life and all contribute to dog smelliness.

It is important to make sure you brush your dogs coat and fur through before every bathing session to remove all bits of debris that may have got caught up in your dog’s fur since their last bath along with tangles or matted hair that may have formed. If you ignore this step any tangles and matted hair will get worse after bathing and make it an impossible task to rid of them.

You will need to use special pet shampoo and conditioner to clean your dog; human shampoo uses a different ph level and can be bad for your dog’s skin. Starting off by letting your dog get used to running water, warm water should be used to wash your dog, it is best to use a jug or container to gently pour water on your dog. Be sure not to put water directly on your dogs face to be sure not to frighten them off or scare them.

When your dog is wet, keep reassuring them and rewarding them if the behaviour is good to get the message across that bathing is not a bad thing. Rub the shampoo and conditioner onto your dog gently and being sure to do a proper job of getting all the smells and everything else out.

To finish off, rinse all the soapy water and shampoo of your dog and dry your dog in the same way you would yourself or if your dog has easily matted hair use patting only to dry your dog, when this is all done reward your dog with praise and rewards for being cooperative with you.

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7 Ways to Protect Your Cat's Health
By Dr. R.J. Peters

Summer is almost over, but certain risks are present year 'round. While it's less likely for your cat to pick up fleas and other parasites after hot weather has ended, some are persistent throughout the year, especially if you live in warmer climates. Even in cold areas, where snow and ice make life uncomfortable for us, the cold sends insects and other pests into hiding, but not necessarily to die. Lying dormant through the winter, they simply reappear in warmer weather... even warm days in the winter.

By taking the following precautions, you can reduce your cat's risk for becoming infected, infested, or terminally ill from the effects of some parasites.

1. Keep the litter box clean. Not just "clean," but CLEAN. Scoop it more than once a day if more than one cat is using it. The rule of thumb is to have one box per cat, but it's also useful to have litter pans in strategic locations so no one is stuck with a full bladder when they're on the wrong side of a door when the urge hits.

2. Wash your hands after this task, to prevent accidental spreading of infectious material that might be in the box. Some of the parasites that infect cats can also spread to people and other pets in your home, such as hookworms, roundworms, and some bacteria.

3. Prevent your cat from hunting mice or other rodents, if possible. Cats who are allowed outdoors are most at risk, though sometimes mice can enter our living spaces and even indoor cats may instinctively wish to catch and eat them. The risk is that rodents often carry fleas and ingesting them causes tapeworm infections.

4. Never let your cat come into contact with the feces of other pets. This is one reason to keep all litter boxes clean. You don't want Cat A stepping into a box Cat B just used and picking up some fecal residue on their paws. They will clean themselves by licking it off. You also don't want them stepping in the dog's business in the yard, so take care of that, too.

5. Keep an eye on your pet to be aware of any changes in behavior, appearance or habits. If they have ear mites, for example, they may scratch their heads or necks a lot, sometimes drawing blood. Some parasites, such as hookworms, will cause the cat's stools to be quite dark. Tapeworms leave tiny white segments that resemble grains of rice in their fur, under their tails. Others, such as round worms, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Brush or massage your cat daily to get a feel for the condition of their fur and skin. Check for ticks, fleas, and sores.

6. Keep your veterinarian's phone number handy, and take your cat in whenever you spot signs of potentially serious health problems.

7. Take your cat in to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated as required in your area, and to get a professional, clean bill of health for the coming season. Have your cat tested for diseases or parasites that are common where you live, too, such as heartworms and giardia. Treatment is effective only if you catch it soon enough.

Enjoy your feline companions to the fullest by taking care of their needs as fully as you can.

Dr. Peters is a retired health professional who established an animal shelter in 2002.
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