Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips

Cat Sometimes Walks Backward
Steve Dale • Tribune Media Services - Courier-Journal

Q: My cat sometimes walks backward. Is that normal? -- S. H., Largo, FL

A: Sure, if your cat is under the influence of catnip. If your cat is walking wobbly, or backing into objects, contact your veterinarian immediately -- that is not normal.

Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to Include your name, city and state.

Thanksgiving Tips for Safe Holiday Fun With Your Pet
by Sharon Harleigh, Los Angeles Pet Examiner

The holidays are a wonderful time for family and feasting but to keep your pet healthy and happy, remember a few tips:

--Too many fatty, rich, or new foods ("table scraps") can be very hazardous to your pet, and can cause pancreatitis or gastroenteritis;
--Onions and onion powder, widely found in stuffing, will harm your pet's red blood cells and may lead to anemia
--Grapes, raisins, and chocolate can be toxic to your pet
--Aluminum foil, wax paper, and other food wrappings can be ingested and can cause intestinal obstruction.

Make sure your pet always has plenty of water. This seems obvious, but having too many cooks in the kitchen can cause an empty water bowl to go unnoticed.
Make sure your dog has a quiet retreat area should the holiday festivities become too stressful and overwhelming to your pet. (This is true for humans too!)
Keep an eye on your garbage and keep it securely closed so your dog doesn't get any extra holiday cheer out of the trash.

And remember, most importantly, to give thanks on this holiday for the unconditional love and affection which we share with our pets. I know my life is enriched and so much happier for the love I share with my dog Angel and my cat Eddie, and I hope you likewise give thanks for your furry friends!

How to Teach Your Dog to 'Take a Bow'
by Jeff Millman - The Examiner

This is a really fun trick to teach. There are many steps involved, so just focus on improving a bit more each session. Eventually you will achieve the final behavior!

This behavior might take a couple sessions, or it could take much longer. I always recommend that you focus on keeping your dog interested each session vs. getting frustrated that he is not learning fast enough.

You can watch a short video that shows Ranger taking a bow to see the final behavior.

Lets get started.

Hand Signal

It is important to teach the hand signal before you start using a verbal cue or changing the cue to a different cue. DO NOT say, "Take a bow" at this stage.

--Use amazing treats because you want your dog to be really motivated to follow your hand.

--One of the most challenging aspects of this behavior is to teach your dog not to lie down. Especially when working with a dog that has a lot of training, he might see the hand signal, anticipate that you are going to ask him to lie down and lie down automatically.

--Start with your dog in a stand position

--Slowly move the treat down and towards his tail in between his front legs

--Before he lies down, say, "Yes" and give a treat If he lies down, say, "Eh! Eh!" (it means wrong answer) and quickly move your hand up and away from your dog

--Continue working and try and get a bit more of the behavior each time. Move the treat slowly enough (this is called luring) so your dog is licking or smelling the treat at the beginning until it moves below his chest.

--Continue moving the treat until he realizes that lying down doesn't work and moving into the "bow" position is what works.

--To help him understand the differentiation, use verbal praise while you are luring him, "Good, good, keep it up" and say, "Eh! Eh!" and quickly remove the treat if he lies down.

--Once you get a good version of the behavior say, "Yes" and quickly move your hand with the treat in it forward along the floor away from your dog and raise it a bit so he stands up. Then give him the treat when he is standing.

--That last step is really the "secret" to this trick. Once your dog does the trick, you want him to be motivated to stand instead of lie down. It is really important that you do not reward him when he is lying down.

If you are feeling frustrated, end on a good note, take a break and try again later

Verbal Cue

Once you establish a very reliable hand signal you can now add the verbal cue.

--Say, "Take a bow" (or what you would like) ONE TIME

--Wait just a moment

--Then use the hand signal that you have established above

--Everything else stays the same, use verbal praise, and "Eh! Eh!" if he lies down

--Say, "Yes" when you get the behavior

--Make sure that you move your hand up and away from your dog and reward when he is standing

--Eventually your dog will understand that "Take a bow" means the same thing as the hand signal

Change the Cue To Something Else

You can devise something very creative for the cue instead of the beginning hand signal or the verbal cue, "Take a bow". For instance, one of my clients bends at the waist as if he is doing a bow, and his dog bows back, very cool.

The key for this is that you need to make sure that it is different enough from a cue that you already use, and that your dog is watching you when you show it.

--Do the new cue (the cue that you want to use)

--Wait for a moment

--"Help" your dog understand what you want him to do by providing one of the other cues you have established, either the original hand signal or verbal cue

--Do short sessions so you or your dog doesn't get bored or frustrated

--Always end on a good note - meaning the final behavior should be something close to the final behavior

--Make sure you say, "Yes" to mark the right behavior BEFORE he lies down and then quickly move the treat up and away so he stands

--Use really good treats

--Use a lot of verbal praise and enthusiasm

Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

Picking a Boarding Facility

Dear Readers: The holidays are almost here, which means it is time to think about making a RESERVATION if you will be going out of town and needing to board your pet. Here are some doggone good hints to help you select a boarding facility.

In an emergency, will there be a vet on call? Is written proof of vaccination and shot records required of all boarders? This helps to protect your pet from catching something from another guest boarder.

Visit in the morning to see the care the staff gives boarders when it is feeding and cage-cleaning time.

Tour the area where your pet will be kept. Notice the cleanliness of the whole facility and the types and sizes of cages.

Will they provide food, or will you have to bring food for your pet?

Ask about the routine for boarders -- how often and how long are they walked; when are they fed; do they have access to a dog run, and how often are cages cleaned?

If your pet is going to be boarded for a while, have a friend or family member check on it, and call the facility every so often to check up.

Remember to make reservations far enough in advance so you will be assured a place. -- Heloise

P.S.: We take Cabbie's pillow and a few favorite toys when we board her, plus a T-shirt that I've worn.


Humane Society Accuses Pet Stores of Selling Dogs from Puppy Mills
L.A. Unleashed

The Humane Society of the United States is accusing Petland stores of selling dogs from “puppy mills,” where animals are bred in cramped cages with substandard care. The Kansas City Star reports:

Michael Markarian, Humane Society vice president, on Thursday announced the results of an eight-month investigation of Petland. The investigation, he said, used U.S. Department of Agriculture reports and other records to connect Petland stores to known high-volume breeders or brokers.

Missouri was one of the states singled out by Markarian as a haven for puppy mills.

Petland Inc. responded to the Humane Society report with a written statement.

“At Petland, healthy, happy, well-socialized pets within our care are our number one priority, as they have been for 41 years,” the company said. “We do not support substandard breeding facilities, and we provide each Petland store with ‘Humane Care Guidelines’ that were developed in conjunction with the USDA to assist with breeder facility inspections as it pertains to pet selection.”

Markarian said there are about 140 Petland stores in the U.S., a mix of corporate and franchise stores, with several in Missouri and Kansas.

Humane Society investigators visited 21 stores and 35 breeders and brokers that sold to Petland, he said, and reviewed records of 322 other breeders and 17,000 puppies linked to Petland. The investigators did not visit Missouri or Kansas stores.

Arizona Pets

Would You Choose Your Pet Over Your Partner?
SF Gate

In a study of 900 pet parents by BizRate Research, women said they had a deeper emotional connection with their pets than men did. Nearly all women respondents (99%) reported that they frequently talked to their pets (although 95% of men also admitted to having conversations with their furry friends) and 93% of women said they believed that their pets communicate with them (compared with 87% of men).

But here's where things get a little dicey: more than half of the women surveyed (56%) said that their pets are more affectionate than their partners (vs. 41% of men), and 45% of women claimed that their pets were cuter than their partners (vs. 24% of men). Um, this can't be a good sign.

According to a survey of 1,105 pet parents by Petplan, a provider of health insurance for dogs and cats, more than two thirds of Americans would rather be stranded on a desert island with their pet than with their partner. And most recently, Opinion Matters found that pet parents in the U.K. were more likely to display a photo of their pet than their partner on the mantelpiece at home. (Pet photos were second only to children of the two-legged variety.)

The headlines for all of these studies could have easily read: "Survey Reveals Even More Unhappy Couples Than We Thought" or "You Really Should Have Married Your Cat." But more than anything, these statistics are further proof that human relationships are complicated (an understatement) and that basking in the unconditional love of a pet will always be an easier ride than loving our partners (and, my shrink would add, ourselves), warts and all. I personally prefer interesting over easy, which would help to explain the romantic roller coaster I've willingly climbed aboard...

Is My Cat Giving Me a Bath?
Houston Pets

I own a 4yr. old black domestic short-hair male cat that I adopted from the SPCA. He is in a loving home and is extremely spoiled. He loves to sit on my lap & lay on me when I rest & watch TV. The minute he sits on me he is so contented he "licks" me. What does this mean? Thanks, G.P.

Dear G.P.,

Cats lick for a variety of reasons. They are fond of grooming so it could be a grooming ritual or you might just taste good! The saltiness on our skin often appeals to different breeds.

Yahoo Pets

Selecting Saltwater Fish for Your Aquarium
Author: Paul Talbot

Some fish will turn your aquarium into a beautiful and peaceful biosphere while others into a chaotic boxing ring.

There are many factors to consider when selecting fish. You need to ensure that you have the experience to look after the fish you select, that the fish you buy are healthy, and that they are compatible with the fish you currently have.

As a starting point, it is very import that you only buy very healthy fish because the best way to keep strong healthy fish is to start with strong healthy fish. Buying a fish because it doesn't look well or happy and you feel sorry for it and want to give it a better home in your display tank is not a very good idea. An unwell fish can introduce diseases into your tank that can infect your other fish, and may even cause them to die. It helps to become familiar with a species of fish before you buy it as this will allow you to be clear on exactly what it should look and act like. Ensure the fish looks alert with clean clear eyes, fins and scales. It is also important that the fish appears eager to feed and can maintain its position in the water column. And finally, as a precaution, only buy from a clean healthy store that you trust.

To break this down I simply refer to all fish as number 1, number 2, or number 3 fish. I refer to number 1 fish as fish that most people can easily keep in regular aquarium conditions. Number 2 fish are fish that from my experience work for some people and not for others and number 3 fish being those which don't work for most people.

Some examples of number 1 fish are Damsels, Clownfish, Dottyback, Triggerfish, Pufferfish, Foxface, Rabbitfish, most Wrasse, most Tangs, Blennies, Cardinal fish, lionfish. Some examples of number 2 fish are , most Tangs, Boxfish, Angels, Gobies, Sweetlip. Some examples of number 3 fish are Moorish idol, Powder Blue Tang, Achilles Tangs, Anthias, Filefish, pipefish, Mandarin fish, Butterfly fish.

Many people select marine fish by wondering into aquarium shores and looking around until they see a fish that catches their attention at that time, they will them ask the staff member closes to them if this fish will go with the few of their fish that they remember to name. If the staff member says yes then that is a green light to buy the fish. This approach takes very little into consideration and will as often as not result in the person purchasing a fish that was not likely to work from the start.

After a considerable amount of time and money, the person will start to understand which fish work in their aquarium, mind you most will have given up marine fish before this time has arisen. Instead of the impulse approach where you slowly learn the hard lesions of fish selection, I strongly recommend starting with a wish list.

A wish list is simply a list of fish that you wish to keep together in your tank. The beauty of a wish list is that you are able to show it to other experience aquarists to get their opinions on how these fish are likely to go together. If you have fish already you can add them to the top of the wish list to reduce the chance of adding other fish that won't work with the fish you have. If you have a wish list you are likely to seek out experts to ask in order to gain the right advise. With the impulse approach you are far more likely to ask the nearest sales person and hope that they know. With the wish list you are able to use the opinions of a range of experts to save you a lot of time and money learning hard lesson on paper instead of with real fish. This is a very responsible and economical approach.

When selecting fish for your aquarium there are several things to consider before purchasing it e.g. diet, aggression, territoriality and weather it will nip at your corals.

A simple thing that you need to remember is that fish don't want to die. They will only die if you don't provide them with at least their basic minimum requirements. By researching a fishes basic minimum requirements first and asking a few people for their experiences keeping that fish you can massively increase the amount of success that you have when keeping marine fish.

The use of the wish list is going to help you make sure you are mixing fish that will commonly work together. Regardless of where you are at it is worth asking the right person the right questions to ensure that the fish you add are likely to work together. Regardless of how qualified the advice you get, fish are fish and in the end they do what they want how they want. Just because 10 experts tell you something is likely to happen, it doesn't mean that that will happen. Understand that the fish you buy are your responsibility and your responsibility alone. So if the fish you buy don't seem to be mixing well, it is up to you to separate them, before too many fish affected by the troubles.

It is important consider aggression when selecting fish. Monitor the aggression of the fish you keep and only add fish that will be able to compete with the fish that you have and not over compete. If you add a fish that is too aggressive for the fish you have it is likely to act boisterously and eat all the fish food and attack the other fish in the tank, even killing them. When you see this type of activity remove the trouble maker before it is able to cause you any more problems. The key is just as much in the monitoring and the action you take once a problem is identified as it is in initial selection.

Some fish are more so territorial then plan aggressive, an aggressive fish will attack fish for seemingly no reason. A territorial fish will drive fish out of their territory but leave them when the fish is out of its territory. It is worth considering territorial behaviour when selecting fish. Some fish like the Dottyback is territorial and can often be housed safely with many fish because its territory is small, leaving room for the other fish in the tank, while some other fish like coral trout can get so large that its territory can be the whole tank.

There is a big difference between territorial, aggressive and predatory. Territorial fish drive fish out of their territory, aggressive fish attack other fish for what can seem like to reason but to show dominance and predatorily fish eat other fish. Predatorily fish don't have to be aggressive or territorial. Predatorily fish are primarily concerned with their belly, what can fit in their mouth is what they will eat. A perfect example of a predatory fish if the lionfish. This fish is not aggressive or territorial but it will eat any fish that will fit in its huge mouth, which is about the same size as it body. When selecting fish it is worth assuming that all fish are predatory.

When creating you wish list also include when you intend to adding the fish, because you also want to gather comments on this. Most groups of fish are best added at the some time to reduce territorially e.g. any tangs should be added together, any clown should be added together, this is also true for many fish even Wrasse and angels.

Many fish take about 3 day to settle into a new tank, in this time it is common for them not to feed and they may act differently. It is important to monitor new fish extra carefully for the first week for stress, behaviour, aggression and feeding habits. Always watch for changes in behaviour, action must be take when it is required.

Some fish live in large schools in the wild and do tend to fret with kept in aquariums singly or in small groups. These fish are used to having a lot of their own kind around them as an instinctual form of security, when they are placed in aquariums lightly stocked with fish they stress thinking there is danger because the rest of their school is absent. This can be the case when all the other fish appear fine but an individual seems to be jumpy and breathing quickly, some examples of these fish are Blue Tangs, green chromis and anthias.

If you are going to introduce fish to a tank with Coral and invertebrates it is important to identify which are likely to be a threat to them. This could be identified as A, B C fish. Some fish e.g. C fish will eat coral like Butterfly fish and Angelfish.

While others e.g. B fish will nip at it sometimes like Triggerfish, Pufferfish, Foxface, Rabbitfish most Wrasse, most Tangs Moorish idol. Others are mostly safe with coral e.g. A fish like Damsels, Clownfish, Dottyback, Blennies, Cardinal fish, lionfish, Anthias. Filefish, pipefish and Gobies.

Your wish list is a way of reduce the risk of introducing a coral eater to a coral tank. If you get a fish that only nips a particular type of coral you can consider avoiding that piece in the future. Hungry fish are more likely to graze on coral , even if your fish is not eating the coral it may stress it by nipping it regularly coursing it by often closed, depriving it of light.

Most fish need similar amounts of nutrients but the way they process the food means that not all foods are appropriate for all fish. You must consider what you will be feeding that tank when you buy fish for the tank. Herbivores have long digestive systems and a designed for consuming green food stuffs while predators have a short digestive system for eating fish meat. Some high quality pellet and flake foods can be fed to all fish but many natural food like fresh fish and seaweed are not suitable for some fish e.g. Meat is not good for herbivores and seaweed is not good for predators, this is because of the way that the fish process that food.

It is very important not to introduce new fish unless that your aquarium is running perfectly for the last month. You will increase the chances of problems like Whitespot if the fish are introduced more regularly than once a month, so add some fish then wait a month then add some more then wait a month. It will also help to ensure that you are running a lower salt level e.g. 1.020 when you introduce new fish, this will help lower osmotic stress on the fish and also help reduce the chance of problems like Whitespot.

A quarantine tank is a very good idea to help protect your display tank from decease out break.

All fish can thrive as long as their basic minimum requirements are met. I go into this further with my Instructional Marine Aquarium DVD available at

Good luck and enjoy
Paul Talbot

Article Source:

About the Author:
Paul's interest in fish species and aquariums started early in life.
He has worked in the aquarium industry all his working life and
has been able to transfer his passion as a hobbyist to his customers.
His wealth of experience is an advantage to corporate and hobbyist
customers alike. Paul has written many articles for both
international and local magazines.
He has bred many types of fish and propagated many types of coral.
His Instructional Marine Aquarium DVD can be found at

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