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Pet Care on a Budget
SF Tails of the City

Saving money is top of mind for all of us right now, but when it comes to our our furry family members, providing care on a budget shouldn't mean compromising their health.

Unfortunately, our tendency during tough economic times is to hold off on routine care and play the "wait-and-see" game with sick animals. But this approach can put our pet's health at risk and cost us a lot more in the long run. Benjamin Franklin once wisely said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And this sentiment applies to pets as much as it does to people.

I recently asked Dr. Scott Line*, a veterinarian with Merial and associate editor of the Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health, to share his advice on where we can cut safely back and where we should continue to pony up the cash to ensure our pets thrive, even in a bear market.

Vaccinations: Skimping on core pet vaccines is never a good idea. Parvo and distemper in dogs and feline leukemia in cats can be easily prevented with an $18 vaccine. If contracted, these deadly diseases can cost upwards of $1000 to treat.

Spaying and neutering: In addition to helping to curb the homeless pet population, spaying and neutering also eliminates the possibility of uterine, ovarian and testicular cancer and by decreases the incidence of prostate disease. Keep in mind that when you adopt an animal from a shelter, rather than buying from a breeder, the "snipping" and vaccinations are typically included in the minimal adoption fee.

Annual exams: A visit to your vet just once a year can result in the early diagnosis of potentially harmful conditions (such as dental disease and obesity) so they can be easily and inexpensively treated.

Heartworm medication: Dose your cat and dog regularly during warmer months to ward off heartworm (a mosquito borne illness) and other intestinal parasites. Talk to your vet about which brands he or she recommends.

Dental hygiene: While having your pet's teeth professionally cleaned may seem like a luxury, sticking to a regular home dental care routine can make a huge impact on your animal's health and happiness, along with saving you wads of cash. (Excess tartar and gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, and an infection in the mouth can wreck havoc on the kidneys and liver.) There are lots of easy-to-use tools on the market (including a nifty "finger brush" with nubs) and numerous websites to help you master your technique. Dr. Line also recommends a nutritious brand of dry food plus raw bones or other healthy "hard" snacks to help keep gums and teeth in good shape.

Diet: With the recent melamine scare and plethora of pet food recalls, Dr. Line suggests sticking with a high-quality, dry kibble from a reputable brand. Investing in healthy food is some of the most potent preventative medicine we can offer our pets. Ask your vet for specific recommendations that are in line with your pet's age and health needs.

Grooming: Doing the washing, trimming and nail clipping at home not only saves you big bucks, but also allows you to keep a close eye on your animal's skin and body so anything out-of-the-ordinary, such as a lumps and bumps under the skin or a wound that isn't healing properly, can be immediately checked out by your vet.

Training: Cultivating a well-socialized and obedient dog may save you money by helping you avoid injuries to people and other animals (either from fights or by being overexcited). Dog clubs, community colleges and animal shelters often offer low-cost group classes. Dr. Line recommends first observing a class to ensure the trainer emphasizes positive, reward-based techniques.

Exercise: Luckily some of the best things in life are still free. It costs you zilch to take your dog to the park or play with your cat. In a longevity study by Purina, overweight dogs (labradors, in this case) died a full two years sooner than those who maintained a healthy weight. The heavier dogs also had a 50 percent increase in arthritis and a greater occurrence of cancer. So shelve the treats and pick up the leash or cat toy instead.
Share your own tips for keeping your pet's health recession proof.

* Scott Line, DVM, PhD, DACVB earned his veterinary degree at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and completed a residency at the University of California, Davis. He is also a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. He lives in Decatur, Georgia with his dog Gromit and cats Ben and Jerry.

Camp Bow Wow(R) Launches New Pet Sitting Service

Home Buddies Targets Households With Multiple Pets by Providing In-Home Pet Services

BOULDER, CO, Dec 04, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Camp Bow Wow(R), the leading franchisor of dog day care and boarding facilities, today announced the launch of a new franchise opportunity targeting the in-home pet care market. As the number of households with multiple pets continues to grow, Home Buddies by Camp Bow Wow will provide customers a single solution for providing the highest quality home care for their pets. This new pet care concept will offer dog walking, pet sitting for dogs, cats, birds, fish, small mammals and reptiles, shuttle service to and from vet offices and Camp, grooming and training services, care for special needs pets, pet food delivery and pet waste clean-up services.

"This is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive pet care service opportunity in the country," said Heidi Flammang, CEO and Top Dog of Camp Bow Wow. "Now pet parents can have one trusted, in-home pet care provider capable of delivering the same dependable service our customers enjoy at Camp Bow Wow locations around the country."

Home Buddies by Camp Bow Wow also offers an attractive and rewarding business opportunity for pet-minded entrepreneurs who want to start their own business in one of the hottest industries in North America. With many companies downsizing or restructuring, franchising offers people the opportunity to leave corporate jobs behind and invest in their own future by running their own business. New franchisees can start their own Home Buddies for as little as $69,000.

Despite the financial crisis, the pet industry continues to grow as pet parents spend on pet care necessities and Camp Bow Wow continues to see increased demand for pet related services. In fact:

-- According to the report "Market Trends," the pet-services market is
out-growing both the food sector and non-food supplies sector in the pet
industry. The U.S. Market for Pet Care Services is valued at $22 billion
for 2008.

-- According to the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association
(APPMA), more than 60 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet. This
is an increase of five percent from around 15 years ago.

-- The APPMA estimated pet expenditure in the U.S. to be over $40 billion
in 2007, and is one of 2008's biggest industry trends, with this increase
expected to continue at a rate of around five percent annually over the
next few years.

"Home Buddies is the answer that pet lovers across America have been asking for," added Flammang. "Whether you are interested in bringing it into your community or looking for these services for your own use, this business is in high demand and we are ready to meet those needs."
For more information about a Home Buddies franchise, visit or call 877-700-BARK (2275).
About Camp Bow Wow
Camp Bow Wow is the premier doggy day care and overnight camp in North America. It's where a dog can be a dog(R), and is designed to provide the highest levels of fun, safety and service for its campers, and peace of mind for their parents. Since the Boulder, Colo.-based company started franchising in 2003, Camp Bow Wow has sold more than 200 franchises in 38 states, plus one in Canada. As we grow, our simple philosophy remains the same: It's all about the dogs. Visit us on the web at
Alicia Hassinger
Email Contact

A Little Imagination Unleashes Endless Ideas for Pet Gifts
Honolulu Star Bulletin

Question: I'm wanting a gift for a friend who loves animals and has a dog and a cat. Any gift ideas?

At the Hawaiian Humane Society we think that the ideal gifts for animal lovers are the ones that either strengthen a person's bond with his own pets or bring him closer to the welfare of all animals.

Some interesting gifts we've heard about have included a year's supply of flea and heartworm preventative, an animal behavior book, a consultation with an animal behaviorist, a gift certificate for an adoption or a donation in honor of a person or their pet.

For many friends and family members who have too much to do, the gift of time or an enriching experience for a pet can also mean a lot. A gift certificate for a day at doggie day care or pet sitting service, or simply offering to take your friend's cat to the vet for her spay surgery, can mean more than any toy or treat that you could give.

We've heard of a teen who once gave her auntie the gift of a daily dog walk for a week.

What are some ideal toys?

First and most important, select toys that are safe.

Steer clear of toys with strings for cats. Ensure balls are too big for a dog to swallow or get lodged in its throat. Browsing through the pet toy aisles can be overwhelming, but applying common sense about toy durability and ingestion dangers will best guide you to find what's safe.

The best toys are ones that keep a pet's mind active.

Chronic boredom can lead to depression in pets, and the latest and greatest toys are designed to appeal to their instincts and keep their minds busy.

Kong toys, in which you can insert peanut butter or a treat, are wonderful for food-motivated dogs.

Wild tails, which are motorized balls with a tail, are fascinating to both cats and dogs.

A Season of Responsibility for New Pet Owners

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind., Dec 04, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The holidays can become stressful for many families -- the pressure to find the perfect gift, the constant demand for time from friends, relatives and co-workers, and, this year, the added weight of a slumping economy. In this time of stress, many people may look to give the gift of companionship and joy by putting a puppy or kitten under the tree.

"Before giving a furry friend as a gift, it's important to think about the recipient," said Brent Hinton, CEO of PetFirst Healthcare and formerly the Kentucky Humane Society. "Gift-givers should first determine if the owner will be a suitable caretaker, whether it's a child or an adult."

Hinton suggests answering these questions:
-- Will the owner have a safe, pet-ready household?
-- Will the owner be capable of caring for the pet for its lifetime, both in terms of time and financial commitment?
-- Has the individual owned a pet before or has experience taking care of animals?
-- Does a certain breed better fit the recipient's lifestyle, home or family circumstances?

If the pet is for a young child, clearly the parents will need to take the lead in teaching their child how to care for it. In some cases, a teenager might not be so willing or committed due to numerous activities surrounding school, extracurricular activities or relationships.
Hinton said a responsible pet owner should also be aware of the cold weather and holiday hazards that exist for household pets.

Antifreeze ingestion is a common winter hazard because of its sweet smell and taste. Many times, antifreeze can be spilled on the driveway or the garage floor giving easy access to pets, and when ingested can cause kidney failure.
Other holiday hazards include decorations, such as ornament hooks and tinsel. Festive plants such as holly and poinsettias, as well as chocolaty treats, can also cause serious problems if ingested.
"With just a little forethought, pets can bring a lot of joy to people during this time," said Hinton.

About PetFirst Healthcare
PetFirst Healthcare is a privately owned pet insurance company based in Jeffersonville, Ind. Underwritten by an A-rated insurance carrier and available nationwide, PetFirst provides affordable and reliable coverage for dog and cat medical expenses along with fast and effective claims processing. For more information about individual and family plans and pricing, visit or call 1-866-937-PETS.
SOURCE PetFirst Healthcare


Adopt-a-Pet: Jack
L.A. Unleashed

If there's one thing that infuriates us, it is irresponsible pet owners -- and irresponsible pet owners certainly came to mind when we heard the story of sweet Jack (ID# A0918219) here. He was dropped off at the East Valley animal shelter with the explanation that he wasn't playful enough!

"Jack is a shy guy, but gets along well with other dogs and people alike," says Valerie Markloff, New Hope program coordinator at the shelter. "This little guy loves to give kisses and loves to have his head scratched." Sounds like a dream come true to us (but then again, maybe our dogs are a little too playful).

Jack is a 1-year-old dachshund mix who's available for adoption now at the East Valley shelter, located at 14409 Vanowen Street in Van Nuys. More information is available by calling 888-4LAPET1 with his ID number.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo credit: Los Angeles Department of Animal Services

Oh What Fun It Is... To Be a Pet-Lover in Portland
by Deb Wood, Special to The Oregonian

OK, we don't go dashing through the snow (too rainy). But that doesn't mean we can't hum "Jingle Bells" and have some fun.

This weekend is full of activities for pet lovers. Here are some that have come to my attention:


Looking for great presents from vendors? Want to see the region's fancy show dogs strut their stuff? Then come up to the Clark County Fairgrounds for the dog show this weekend.

Where: Clark County Fairgrounds, north of Vancouver

When: All-breed show Saturday and Sunday (click here for schedule)
Toy breed dog show and all-breed obedience trial on Friday (click here for schedule)

Cost: Admission is free; parking is $5.00 per car


Camp Doggie Tails is holding a "Howliday Celebration" and "Fun-Raiser" on Saturday.

When: Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Where: Camp Doggie Tails Tigard location, 14865 SW 72nd Ave, Tigard, OR

What's Happening: Canine massage demos from Heal Animal Massage, veterinary acupuncture demonstrations, photos with Santa, dog behavior tips, grooming tips, and raffle. This is a benefit for Autism Service Dogs of America.

Bring your pet (dog, cat, rabbit, rodent, or other beloved animal) to PetSmart every weekend before Christmas to get a keepsake photo taken with Santa. Family members are welcome to be part of the photo. You will receive a digital photo and holiday frame. Half of the cost of the photo will go to support the Cat Adoption Team.

When: Every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas, 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Where: The following PetSmart locations:

* Cascade Station PetSmart, 9721 NE Cascade Pkwy., Portland
* Clackamas PetSmart, 9450 SE 82nd Ave., Clackamas
* Hillsboro PetSmart, 889 NE 25th (by NE Cornell Road), Hillsboro
* Tanasbourne PetSmart, 1295 NW 185th, Hillsboro
* Tigard PetSmart, 7500 SW Dartmouth, Tigard
* Tualatin PetSmart, 7029 SW Nyberg St., Tualatin
* Wilsonville PetSmart, 8311 SW Jack Burns Blvd., Wilsonville
* Washington Square PetSmart, 8825 SW Cascade Ave, Beaverton

Cost: $10 (Cat Adoption Team receives receives 50%)

Who: Santa Claws (of course), assisted by elves from the Cat Adoption Team, who are there help you and your pet have a great time!

Please bring your dog on a leash and cats (and other small pets) in a secure carrier.

Lick Any Problems Before You Give a Pet for a Gift
By DARLENE PRINCE - Crescent News

What could bring more happiness to a child than finding a kitten or a puppy under the tree on Christmas morning?

While children and pets can be a great combination, parents who are considering getting a pet for a child at Christmas should do a little planning ahead of time.

At Town and Country Pets in Defiance, manager Josh O'Hara said more people are coming in and looking at pets to buy for Christmas.

"They are looking for smaller, non-shedding breeds," he said, "such as Yorkshire terriers, Shih Tzus and smaller poodles. The economy is playing its part in their selection. I think they may be looking ahead and thinking about the cost of feeding a larger breed dog and the cost of the food."

As for cats, O'Hara said the store works with the Williams County Humane Society to get their cats adopted.

"The humane society's cats are the only felines that we have," he said. "We try to uphold their policies on spaying and neutering pets and on meeting their adoption requirements."

"We do talk to the parents when they buy a pet and try to warn them that their child will be excited at first about their pet, but that excitement will wear off and it will be their responsibility to take care of it," he said.

"We want to educate people about their pets and that it is a lifetime responsibility to have a pet."

Another avenue parents might consider for a pet is their local humane shelter.

Lisa Fortner, of the Defiance County Humane Society, said, "We advise parents to bring their child or children in and spend time playing with the pets. They don't have to tell their child they are getting the pet, just that they are going to play with them.

"That way, they can see if there is a bond between their child and a certain pet," she explained.

"Parents should make sure they have everything ready for the pet before they bring it home," she said. "And they should make sure they are ready for the responsibility of owning a pet. It is a lifetime commitment for the pet."

"At the shelter right now, we have two, four-month-old, large-breed puppies to adopt and a few kittens," she said. "We have Lab mixes, collie mixes, a beagle and beagle pup.

"We have all kinds of colors of cats -- black, black and white, calico, gray and tigers," she said.

She said persons who are interested in adopting a pet can stop in at the shelter and fill out an adoption application. Shelter hours are seven days a week from 12-5 p.m.

For those persons who want to give a smaller pet that requires less care than a dog or cat, they can choose from hamsters, gerbils, birds, reptiles or fish, for example.

At Tammy's Pet Place in Ottawa, owner Tammy Beemer talked about her selection of pets.

"We have birds -- parakeets, a canary, finches and cockatiels," she said. "We have a beautiful Bourke's parakeet that has a blue breast with a little pink in it and a gray head with a little yellow mixed in it.

"We have hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and Siberian dwarf and Chinese dwarf hamsters. They are about the size of a mouse. We also have a variety of fish."

While the pet store does not carry dogs or cats, Beemer said she works with the Putnam Pet Pals dog rescue group to help dogs left at the Putnam County dog pound get adopted.

"They just had a big rescue of Lab mixes that were taken by a Lab rescue group," she said. "They have three dogs there right now -- a Jack Russell mix, a small shepherd mix and a dog that looks like a blue heeler but is red."

Beemer said that, based on her former work at another pet shop, not as many people buy pets for Christmas as have in the past.

"Maybe they have had the experience of getting a pet for a child at Christmas and after the excitement has worn off, the hard work of caring for a pet is still there," she said.

Beemer added that gift certificates are always a good idea.

Pet First Aide Class Offered Dec. 6
Quad Cities Online

Press release submitted by American Red Cross of the Quad Cities Area

Pet First Aid Class Offered Learn How to Keep Your Pets Safe!

The American Red Cross of the Quad Cities Area is offering a Pet First Aid class this weekend! The Pet First Aid class is designed to protect both pet owners and their pets from further harm, injury, or suffering during emergencies. Participants will learn how to call for emergency assistance, identify signals of sudden illness, and apply first aid techniques. Pet First Aid is ideal for pet owners, humane society workers and volunteers, and emergency care personnel.

The two hour class is $20.00 per person or $30.00 for a couple. The age requirement is 14 years old to attend or 12 years old when accompanied by an adult.

WHAT: Pet First Aid

WHEN: Saturday, December 6, 2008

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Hy-Vee, 2900 Devils Glen Road, Bettendorf

HOW: Call (309) 743-2166 to register. Fee is $20 per person or $30 per couple.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation's blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.

Holiday Pet Safety
By Robert Forto, PhD - YourHub Denver

My name is Dr. Robert Forto and I am the training director of Denver Dog Works and The Ineka Project in Colorado. I am asked all the time about holiday dos and don'ts from pet owners. While I always offer an article right around Christmas about training Christmas puppies I thought it would be wise to offer some tips to pet owners on holiday safety before the season's festivities reaches a crescendo. While most of this is common sense, it is the little things that we overlook during this busy time of the year that can turn a joyous season into a nightmare for your pet if you do not take some steps to ensure their safety.

The holiday season can get pretty hectic, and with the decorations and extra goodies around the house, there is a lot your pet can find to get into. Here are a few safety tips to help keep your pets safe and happy during the festivities:

Christmas trees

Firmly secure the tree in its stand and consider wire or twine ties attached to the wall to help secure the tree. You'll want to make sure the tree doesn't topple over if, or more likely when, kitty tries to climb the tree.

Dogs and cats will often try to drink water from the reservoir in the stand. The sap from the tree itself may irritate your pet's stomach, and preservatives added to the water may be toxic. Devise a cover to fit around the base of the tree-even a towel wrapped around the trunk covering the stand will do.

Research also shows that the chemicals used in producing artificial trees contain chemicals that can be harmful or even fatal if ingested by your pet. While there are many pros and cons to having a natural versus an artificial Christmas tree, this fact alone should make the decision a little easier.

Ornamentation is very attractive, especially to kittens, cats and puppies, but may be deadly. The tinsel, ribbon and glitter can cause intestinal blockages. Protect your pet by placing these items high enough to be out of reach. Packages under the tree may offer the same threat-the ribbons are just too hard to resist, and your pet may end up chewing on them while playing.

Those wonderful goodies

Holidays are the time for lots of baking, and receiving of baked gifts. These items smell just wonderful to your pet. Your dog may help himself to the candy, cookies, or part of the holiday meal if you are not looking. Eating people food may lead to indigestion, diarrhea, or worse. Remember, items containing chocolate and/or raisins can poison a dog, even if it is a small amount.

Remains of the holiday meal left on countertops, tables, and even in the garbage will entice your pets. If there is a way to get to it, be assured your dog will certainly try. Bones from turkey, a roast, or ham may splinter if eaten. Older garbage may even contain enough bacteria to poison a pet. Be careful where the trash is held while waiting to be disposed of.

And of course I don't need to remind you that begging at that table can cause major behavior problems in the future...

Other Decorations

Plants, especially poinsettias, are often used for decoration in November and December. Some of these plants contain toxins that can irritate your pet's gastrointestinal tract if chewed on or eaten. Eating enough of some plants may poison your dog or cat. In some cases it may be the leaves, in others the stem, berries, or roots. Your veterinarian or behaviorist can help guide you, or you can do a bit of research at the library or online to see if any of your holiday plants may be harmful to your pets.


On Christmas morning when all of those toys are being played with (and soon forgotten, I might add) they contain many hazards for pets. Small toys, balls, marbles, board game pieces, BB's from the Red Rider BB gun with the compass in the stock, and electric cords are all dangerous to your cat or dog.

Taking a few minutes to set some family guidelines and spot potential safety hazards could keep this holiday season from having serious consequences for your four-footed family member.

In the coming weeks Dr. Forto will be publishing and article on training Christmas puppies. His position is that you should never give a puppy for a Christmas present but thousands are given as gifts each year. In this article Dr. Forto will discuss when to train your dog, how to properly care for him and who should be in charge. Just remember that shelters are full of dogs that were once bundles of Christmas morning joy that grew up too fast and were not trained. Dr. Forto and his certified trainers at Denver Dog Works are here to help.

This article is provided as a general overview of the topic. Always consult your veterinarian or behaviorist for specific information related to diseases or medical care for pets.


Dr. Robert Forto is a canine behaviorist and the training director of Denver Dog Works in Colorado. He can be reached through his website at

Pet Food Pantry Idea Sparking Action During Economic Crisis
by Mary Schwager, Boston News You Can Use Examiner

Cue the rescue music and the cartoon iconic light bulb that goes off over someone's head when they have a great idea, especially during these tough economic times.

An animal shelter in East Brookfield, Massachusetts came up with a way to help struggling pet owners in financial turmoil: A pet food bank.

Across the country shelters have been overwhelmed with families surrendering their cherished horses, dogs, cats, birds and guinea pigs. One of the number one reasons is they just can't afford to feed them anymore.

The pet food pantry is the brainchild of a volunteer at the Second Chance Animal Shelter, Laurie Drazek, who decided she heard too many people say they no longer could pay for pet food. The shelter's director, Sheryl Brackley, says the idea exploded. "We started this so that we could hopefully keep more pets in their homes. With the shelters so full now because of foreclosures we figured it would be best to help at the source before the people were forced to surrender their pets."

Brackley has info up on the shelter's website if you would like to donate.

The MSPCA is psyched about this idea and wants to create a list of "human" food pantries that will also accept and circulate pet food donations. Their public relations guru, Brian Adams says to email him directly if your local food bank would be willing to help hungry two and four legged creatures.

Temporary Foster Homes?

Another thought I'd like to throw out is the concept of an organization to line up temporary foster homes for pet owners facing foreclosure, who may have to rely on temporary housing, which isn't always pet friendly. These would serve as stopping points for Fido or Friskies much like the ones that are literal lifelines to animal shelters across the country. Hmmm, farm owners could help out horse owners in trouble as well, there's been a lot of recent articles about heartbroken people having to give up their horses. These foster homes could provide a roof over the heads of these animals for a certain period of time. The MSPCA has a similar program called Phinney's Friends. People foster pets for patients undergoing treatment for HIV and AIDS. The pet returns to its original home once the owner is able to provide care again.

Email me and let me know what you think! This recession isn't going to last forever, may as well help keep everyone's families together as much as we can.

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