Pet News - Pet Advice

Don't Skimp on Pet's Preventive Care During Tough Economic Times
By DR. TRACY ACOSTA - McClatchy Newspapers

Everyone during these challenging economic times is looking for ways to cut back on expenses. One area you don't want to cut back on is the basic preventive care for your pets. So, how do you define basic preventive care? First, keep in mind that prevention is worth a pound of cure and that prevention is always less expensive than treatment.

Depending on how dire your economic situation is, will help to determine where you should trim the budget. The best place to look for help with those questions is your pet's personal veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows your particular pet and its health status best, and can definitely help make critical decisions with you. Be honest with your veterinarian about your situation; while at the same time explain that you don't want your pet's health to fall to the wayside either.

The bottom line for most pets' basic requirements include good nutrition, parasite prevention and necessary vaccinations.

As you can see, a fancy bed or collar is not on that list. Not that those items aren't nice, but they can be added later once the basic health care needs have been met.

In regard to good nutrition, this is one area you can truly make a difference in the quality and length of your pet's life. You get what you pay for. I do not encourage any pet owner to ever skimp when it comes to feeding their pet a good quality food. At the same time, I don't believe you have to pay a fortune for quality food. Now, with so many different foods and choices, any pet owner can be easily overwhelmed and find it difficult to make a good choice. Remember, quality commercially produced pet foods are available. So, ask your pet's veterinarian to give you a couple of brands they think would be a good choice for your particular pet's needs. Remember, with the better quality foods, you actually will have to feed your pet less, because it has less fillers, which in the end (literally) means less fecal output.

As far as parasite control goes, no owner can fail to do their part to provide their pet proper external and internal parasite prevention. The paramount reason is many parasites can pose a health risk to the humans who live with them. The Centers for Disease Control encourages veterinarians to be vigilant against any disease or parasite that can have a zoonotic potential, which means can be passed from animal to human. Most pet owners are aware of the dangers of ticks on their pets as a source of a zoonotic threat, but most, unfortunately, are unaware of the serious dangers their pets' intestinal parasites can pose, especially to young children.

Where you and your pet live in the United States, will determine what types of parasite prevention will be necessary. Some of the top parasites of concern: fleas, ticks, heartworms, roundworms and hookworms. Consult your local veterinarian on this area of preventive care for your pet. Not only will your pet be healthier, but you will also assure the health of your entire human family.

Vaccinations for your pet are another critical aspect of a healthy pet and a healthy human family. We have come too far in absolute preventive care with the use of proper vaccinations in both human and veterinary medicine to let this aspect of care be ignored.

Where you live and the lifestyle of your pet, help determine the best vaccination protocol to keep your pet healthy.

There is no "blanket" approach to vaccination protocols, so discuss with your pet's veterinarian what your particular pet needs.

Hopefully, I don't have to remind pet owners that rabies is a disease that poses a human risk. This is only one of the zoonotic diseases that we vaccinate pets for routinely, so be sure to have your pet properly vaccinated.

Those are just a few of the basics of pet health care that should not be cut back. Every pet has its own special needs and should always at least have an annual physical exam by a veterinarian, or twice a year if over the age of 7 years. Veterinarians believe prevention is imperative when it comes to every pet's health. So, I encourage all pet owners to provide the best they can for their pet's health since it not only promotes a healthy and happy pet, but also promotes a safe environment for its human companions.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season and Happy New Year!

(Dr. Tracy Acosta is a veterinarian at Biloxi Animal Hospital. For questions on this column call 896-8255 or toll free at 1-866-450-8255 or write to South Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association, 20005 Pineville Road, Long Beach MS 39560 and include a self-addressed stamped envelope.)

Rescue League Reaches Pet Adoption Goal
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania has reached its goal of placing 5,000 pets in 2008. It announced yesterday that a family from Monessen chose the 5,000th pet, a shepherd mix named Tela.

The "Drive for Five" campaign was spurred in part by an annual increase in the number of animals that end up in shelters. One of three major shelters in the city, the league also has the contract to handle drop-offs from the city's animal control officers.

Tifanie Tiberio, a league spokesman, said staff worked aggressively to reach the goal.

Pet-Food Pantries are Doggedly Working to Keep Animals Fed
USA Today

Animal lovers are marshaling forces in hopes of minimizing the number of pets that go hungry or land in shelters because their owners can no longer afford to feed them.
Free pet-food pantries are being established in cities and towns across the nation by volunteers concerned about the recession's effect on pets. And the long lines of pet owners showing up by the thousands for free kibble are growing more diverse each week. Lower-income people are now joined by middle-class folks pummeled by the economy: white-collar workers recently laid off; elderly people who had been receiving regular cash from relatives who can't afford that anymore; military spouses unable to find work to earn some discretionary income; students who've lost their part-time jobs; high-earners with high debt who are dramatically downshifting.

"Some (clients) are a little embarrassed, but everyone can have a financial problem, especially in this economy, and that's why we're here," says Atlanta businesswoman Ann King, who launched Save Our Pets food bank this year after hearing of hundreds of pets being abandoned or left at Atlanta-area shelters because owners were in financial straits. Demand has grown 20% every week since the food bank began last summer, she says; now the group gives away more than 3,000 pounds of cat and dog food a week. On distribution days, as many as 200 people line up for a month's supply of pet food.

'It means the world to me'

"A lot of the people we serve are right on the edge. They barely missed getting food stamps or have a new job starting in a few weeks or they're waiting for government assistance," says Darlene McCaslin, who started Pikes Peak Pet Pantry in Colorado Springs last year. "If we can help during this awful period, it helps them keep a pet dear to them, it helps the animals and it helps the shelters seeing a big increase in the numbers coming in."

Since January, McCaslin's group has distributed more than 11,000 pounds of dog and cat food to owners of more than 1,800 pets.

"It means the world to me," says Rose Laxson of Colorado Springs. "When feeding yourself is uncertain, it is so comforting to know you can feed your pet." Laxson, who has an English bulldog named Elmo, recently received her nursing-assistant certification. But she's eight months pregnant, and until she gives birth and gets a job, she's living with her parents and scraping by.

Pet food banks — operated by local animal shelters or groups of animal lovers — employ a variety of means to gather food or the money to buy it. Most get donations from retailers of torn bags of food or dented cans; some have lined up pet-loving sponsors such as veterinarians who place donation boxes in their offices; most have beat the bushes for citizen donations that they use to buy pet food from retailers at a discount.

Most pet owners discover the whereabouts of local pet food banks by contacting animal shelters, traditional food banks or other social service organizations. But many who newly need help have little or no familiarity with social-service networks and aren't sure where to turn. McCaslin has posted contact numbers for nearly 30 pet food banks across the nation on her website (, an action she took after being contacted by hundreds of needy pet owners.

Compiling a national list of pantries

There does not appear to be any national clearinghouse or list to guide pet owners to the nearest temporary-food distributor, according to several national and regional pet-welfare groups. The Humane Society of the United States, when contacted, said creating a national list is an "overlooked" but "definite" need and this week put online a preliminary list that will be added to regularly (visit and click on "pet tips").

Atlanta's Save our Pets also is compiling a state-by-state list to post on its website ( by January.

Many hope the economy's meltdown will educate the public about a reality that shelters and rescue groups have long dealt with: Pets are usually the first casualty when a family's finances go bad. The Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society in South Deerfield, Mass., serving the state's lowest-income county, realized years ago that temporary pet assistance was vital and set up a pet food bank. It has seen a 25% increase in demand in recent months. "But," says executive director Leslie Harris, "the fact is, the economy is always bad for someone."

A Siberian tiger rests at a breeding centre in Harbin, Heilongjiang province December 25, 2008.

Facts You Need to Know About German Shepherd Dogs
By Alex De La Cruz

For active families who are looking for a versatile pet, German shepherd dogs must be on top of your choices. They can be a house pet and at the same time they can also be a working dog as guard or police dog. It is known to all that German shepherd dogs are popular police dogs and rescuers. However, their gentle character is one of the reasons why they can be great pets to kids, too. With the right training, they can blend well with people in a household and even perform the duties of a guard dog at the same time.

This is quite contrary to the common impression that German shepherds are fierce dogs. The characters of a German shepherd dog would generally say that this breed is extremely intelligent, quick to learn, and loyal to his master. If you are well-versed about this breed, you can maximize this dog's potentials to your benefit. Choosing a German shepherd as your family pet may depend on the type of lifestyle that you live and your purpose of getting a pet. They need ample of daily exercise to release their energies. If they are not given enough time to exercise outdoors, they tend to be overexcited and restless.

Thus, you need to ensure that you have the time to accompany your pet outdoors. They need special attention for trainings and exercise that is why owners of this breed must be aware of their obligations. Otherwise, having this pet may just be a pain in the head. These important facts about German shepherds you have to know prior to owning one. Do not be an irresponsible owner because you might cause problems not only to your household but to other people as well. Training a German shepherd is not too complicated since their breed is basically easily trainable. They are quick learners and smart, so don't worry about their capacity to cope with the training.

However, you need to at least have enough knowledge in training this particular dog breed if you intend to handle the training yourself. Training must start while the dog is still young. If it's too late, there is a greater tendency that German shepherd dogs will be difficult to handle. A Guide to German shepherds would often recommend that you need to implement a firm training on this breed. It is important that they learn proper behavior while they are young so that they can be easily handled when they mature. Like training any other dog breed, positive reinforcement through compliments and rewards are highly recommended for German shepherd dogs, too.

Having a healthy and well-trained dog could bring in a lot of joy and pride to you and your family. They are considered to be as one of the best dogs in the world to own. If you plan to own this type of breed, then stuff yourself with enough information on raising German shepherd dogs. It may not be too easy at first but as you dedicate more time and effort to raising this breed, it would be more rewarding.

The author of this article Alex De La Cruz is a Dog Trainer who has been successful with several dog training courses for many years. Alex decided to share his knowledge and tips through his website You can sign up for his free newsletter and enjoy a healthy and submissive dog.

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Diagnosing Your Best Bud - Dog Illness Symptoms
By William Man

A healthy pet makes its owner happy. There are several ways on how to keep you pet healthy. Daily grooming, proper feeding, exercise, and regular check-ups with your dog's vet are a must. Your pet's vet must be capable of detecting your dog's illness after examination, whether the cause may be viral, bacterial, or a metabolic disorder. Once you pet is properly diagnosed and examined, it could receive proper cure and can save you and your pet from further expenses and discomfort.

There are a lot of elements or factors that could bring your pet various illnesses. Acquisition maybe because by sudden exposure to weather, contaminated food, emotional distress, genetic weaknesses, improper immunization shots, accident, inadequate rest and exercise, exposure to infectious diseases and parasites, and a lot of other similar concerns.

You can form a diagnosis of your dog's sickness through the careful observations of your pet's behavioral patterns. But before that, you must be familiar with your dog's vital statistics, body shape, and posture in order to facilitate better diagnosis. If your dog does not eat its meal on a regular basis as before, if it seems depressed and disoriented, if it has been loosing its sense of balance when standing or walking, if your pet has been displaying uncharacteristic aggression, well, its time to consult the vet.

The first thing that maybe observed when you think that your dog is sick is the unpleasant odor, coloration, or discharge of its feces and urine. These symptoms maybe caused by a several illnesses. It maybe caused by digestive disorders, intestinal obstruction, poisoning, genital tract infection, and presence of internal parasites such as tapeworms, hookworms, heartworms. Poisoning, gland inflammation, cancer, allergies and the like may also be the reasons why your pet is behaving erratically. Your pet's vet might want to examine its feces and urine samples to determine the specific cause.

Frequent vomiting maybe caused by eating grass or other serious illnesses. However, many people confuse vomiting with retching and other things that dog's do. Learn the difference in order to accurately describe the symptoms to the vet. Vomiting and diarrhea can indicate anything from intestinal parasites to liver diseases, cancer, allergies, enteritis, and a host of other series of disorders.

You can tell whether your dog is healthy or not by observing its coat and skin. A coarse and lusterless coat, skin eruptions, and a tendency to frequently lick or scratch the skin do not indicate a good health. It may point towards the presence of parasites like lice and mice, yeast and bacterial infections, some sort of allergy, or towards a case of dermatitis. Consult your pet's vet immediately. If your pet's fur is starting to get thinner and thinner, your dog may be suffering from hair loss due to allergies, parasites, and even its dog soap or shampoo. Skin and dermal dog disorders are extremely unpleasant and unwanted by owners. It gives your pet extreme discomfort from long and sustained treatments.

A well canine has a cold and wet nose. A hot, dry nose or discharge may indicate fever or infection caused by either a virus or a bacteria. If your pet is having a trouble in breathing or is drooling too much, or is frequently coughing, the symptoms may point towards canine filiarisis, respiratory problems and cardiac problems.

Examine your dog's ears. There is no need to worry if the dog doesn't keep shaking or scratching them all the time. If there is no discharge of unpleasant odor or if there are no parasites or other foreign bodies then your pet is perfectly fine. If your pet's skin looks clean, lustrous, and healthy then it should be fine. However, if your pet is sponge-like and is drinking too much liquid, it may have some kind of liver or kidney problem or diabetes that you should be concerned about.

Sticky discharge from the eyes, squinting, redness or clouding may indicate injury, vision problems, fever, herpes and viral infection. If your pet is limping or seems uncomfortable when walking and standing, it could be have a thorn or wound in the paw, have arthritis, weight problems, tendonitis, or genetic problems like hip dysplasia or luxating patella.

Dogs are men's best friend. Therefore they should be given proper care and be treated like a part of one's family. Unless you want your dog to be pushing daisies, follow this formula: good food, walk, checkups, and cleanliness. All of these will lead your pet to dog heaven. And your pet dog will be as happy as you are!

More exciting information about dog, please head on to where you can also find the shocking truth about dog food allergies.

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8 Ways to Tell If Your Cat Has a Urinary Tract Infection
By John Paduchak

Boy, did I learn a valuable lesson. My cat was acting lethargic and strange so I got worried and took her to the veterinarian. Turns out she had a urinary tract infection that had traveled up to her kidneys! My veterinarian told me that if I had waited any longer, my poor cat would have died. That was a wake-up call for me and made me realize that in order to keep my cat safe, I needed to learn what the signs and symptoms of cat urinary infection were so I could spot it quickly. Here are 8 ways to tell if your cat has a urinary infection before it's too late.

1. If your cat is cringing in pain while urinating, this is a definite sign of cat urinary problems. It's important to know how your cat normally behaves in order to detect any unusual behavior.

2. Excessive grooming of the genitals can possibly be a sign of cat urinary infection, especially if your cat is crying while grooming.

3. Is your cat urinating more or less frequently than usual? Take note of any changes in urination patterns.

4. Dehydration can be one of the first signs of cat urinary problems so if you notice your cat drinking more water than usual, your cat could possibly be suffering from a urinary tract infection.

5. Let your cat urinate on a light-colored surface. If you see traces of blood in your cat's urine, it is most likely a sign of cat urinary infection. Take your cat to a veterinarian for immediate diagnosis.

6. If your cat is urinating outside of its litter box, it is a sign of cat urinary problems. This happens because your cat associates the pain of urinating with the litter box and therefore tries to avoid it all costs.

7. If your cat has a fever, and tender abdomen when you pick it up this is also a uti symptom you should be concerned about. Lethargy is a sign of the later stages of uti.

8. If your cat stops urinating altogether, it is a serious red flag and you should take your cat to the veterinarian immediately. If your cat goes even 3 to 4 days without urinating, it can be fatal.

In conclusion, if you want to treat your cat's urinary tract infection before it's too late, it's important to keep abreast of these signs and symptoms. Cat urinary infection can be fatal if not treated in time. The best way to treat these symptoms however is at home with a homeopathic remedy before they spiral out of control. Your first step should be to go to a veterinarian and get a correct diagnosis. Then you can administer a homeopathic remedy and make some important lifestyle changes. By doing so, you can kill two birds with one stone and treat the infection while preventing recurrence.

John Paduchak is a pet enthusiast and webmaster of and Throughout his life, John grew up on a 140 acre farm in upstate NY and had pet friends of many varieties. Now he currently has 3 cats, freshwater tropical fish, & 4 hermit crabs that he shares with his daughter, Marie. A strong supporter of naturopathy for pets he publishes articles on their care and training.

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