Boarding Your Dog PLUS Cold Weather Tips

Keep Animals in Mind
as Temps Drop
By Becky Graham -

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Temperatures are dropping, and that can be dangerous for pets kept outside.

Outside pets are often thought of as independent, but when the extreme temperatures move in, they rely on their owners the most.

"You know dogs and cats are affected like people are by the heat, they are affected by the cold," Miranda Knight with the Vanderburgh County Humane Society said. "Just because pets have fur coats, that doesn't mean they're any less susceptible to the cold."

So how can a pet owner create warmth in a frigid environment? Knight said you have to start by providing the animal with a shelter.

"If you have a garage they can stay in, that's great," Knight said. "Shed, something along those lines. If definitely, but nothing else you have to have a dog house of some sort."

Adding insulation, like straw, can also provide additional protection, but shelter isn't the only thing pet owners should supply this season.

"Say you have an outside dog that is fairly active, you might want to up their food intake a little bit just to make sure they are getting plenty of calories," Knight said.

All of these tips are important to follow. If not, your pet could be come sick or injured.

"But pets that come in and their owners have taken them outside or they've live outside and they've got ice or snow in their paws, that can do some damage that can cut them and really hurt them," Knight said.

Knight also recommends pet owners tap their car before turning it on during the winter. She said cats have a tendency to climb near the engine to get warm.

Steps in Choosing
a Family Pet
By Rebecca Froebell -

Adding your first pet to your family can sometimes be challenging. Each member of the family may find they appreciate an entirely different breed of animal then their sibling or parent. There is a great deal to take into consideration before purchasing your first family pet.

Bringing a pet home to learn to love you is not much different then bringing home a baby. Much though you may not like changing diapers and hearing it cry, you cannot give it back. A puppy or kitty must be potty trained and will cry when hungry too. Your house is now their new home and they will be very frightened if you send them away when you tire of them. Take the steps to ensure you really want, or can have that pet for the next fifteen years before offering it a home.

The first consideration, and one often overlooked is if allergies exist to cats, dogs, pet dander, hair or oils. These types of allergies are very debilitating to both the young and old. Breathing can quickly turn anaphalyxis if a severe allergy becomes apparent. The second consideration is if the family will continue the daily chores involved in owning a pet. Checking for pet allergies and owner responsibility is not always easy before purchasing your own pet, but a few suggestions used as tests are as follows.

1: Ask willing neighbors if you could borrow a pet for a few hours each day, or volunteer to baby-sit it while they go on vacation. You will find the dander, and other allergens will scatter about your home quickly. It does not take long for allergies to show in the form of sneezing, runny or blurry eyes, stuffy heads and even fever.

2: Each member of the family should take charge of feeding, walking, bathing and grooming the animal. Those are all chores, which must be performed on a daily basis. Yard waste must be cleaned up every day too. The water bowl and the animals bedding should be sanitized daily to keep germs and parasites under control. Flea and tick treatments will keep infestations down for both the animal and the human. Various worms or parasites can be transferred from animal to human, so it is imperative to keep your home clean when pets co-habitat in your home.

When the test is over and everyone appears to love the idea of all that is involved in keeping a pet, it is time to go find the one that gels with your family. The best advice is to locate a humane society or local veterinarian and allow them to help you find a healthy pet. It often takes two or three visits to a local animal shelter before it becomes apparent which pet belongs with your family. They just seem to come to you when it is right. Pets provide a lot of love and companionship, but also require the same from you. Test family pet readiness and then enjoy your new pet.

Choosing a family pet can be pretty challenging. Other animals, which you may enjoy are horses, but they also require grooming and care to stay healthy and happy. Pets are great, but young children may find owning a model horse is a better choice until they are ready for the responsibility of a real pet.

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Pets Welcome?
Make Sure First

A number of apartments have put out the welcome mat for small pets, including dogs and cats, but a bad choice could land you in the doghouse, angering your landlord and fellow renters.

Some pets, even if they are small, do not make good apartment companions, generating too much noise, ripping up the furniture, or leaving an odor.

Even a fish might be a problem if the tank leaks into other units, so no decision is trivial when it comes to pets. They have the potential to put you on bad terms with landlords, your neighbors and even consume your security deposit if left alone to do damage.

Yet many renters do have pets without serious consequences.

Justin Molnar, assistant manager of The Aquarium in Elmwood Park, said he has a fish tank in his Saddle Brook apartment but received his landlord's permission first. Because a fish tank could leak and cause damage, Molnar said, "They do encourage you to get homeowner's insurance for each place." The insurance policy often covers incidents such as flood and fire, and it could be structured to include the fish tank, too. If having a pet is important to you, Molnar said, make sure the lease addresses this so you are not disappointed later on.

While recommending any small caged creature, from reptiles to rabbits, Molnar said it's best to ask first. He recalled a friend whose landlord refused to let him have a small snake, although certain other pets were allowed.

Stacey Gelkopf, owner of Scuffy's Pet Store in Wayne, said: "Typically the best thing for renters is to get a quiet pet that won't disturb neighbors. Fish, hermit crabs, lizards and birds such as canaries and parakeets topped her list.
Birds might be a surprising choice but Gelkopf said the melodious tones of these smaller birds should not upset the neighbors.

"There are definitely a lot of apartments that allow cats or dogs but one has to take into consideration that they have enough space," she said.
If you're set on Fido, Gelkopf said that can be a gamble because there are "no dogs that don't bark at all."

Dottie Anderson, owner of Rockport Pet Gallery in West Milford, said a small fish in a bowl, like a beta, is a pet with few consequences. But not everyone is happy with a fish, so she also suggested small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs and cats.
Keep up with weekly or daily cleanings of cages or litter boxes because odor follows neglect. A stench will be a sure red flag to neighbors of poor housekeeping and may trigger a complaint to the landlord. For less effort, all of these small animals can be trained to use a litter box.

To have success with an apartment dog, Anderson recommends training.

"If they're going to get a dog, it will take a lot more training as opposed to a cat, which you really don't have to do anything to," she said.

Lisa Rose, a volunteer with The Last Resort, a West Milford-based animal rescue group, recommends crating your dog as a "simple precaution."

"If you're allowed to have dogs in your apartment, taking a simple precaution like crating your animal will benefit both the apartment and the dog,'' she continued. "Crates are like a den or cave to a dog and most feel secure there."
When he's not working as a police captain in Wanaque, Ken Fackina is known for training dogs. His recommendations for training an apartment dog include using a crate – especially the plastic variety like the Vari Kennel that's more of a den than a cage. "It's a safe zone for a dog," he said.

Fackina isn't sold on the belief that small dogs are best suited for apartments. Terrier breeds like the Jack Russell are known for high energy and could "wind up getting destructive because they're bored," he said.

Some of the toy varieties, such as the Yorkshire terrier, Maltese and pug, are better suited for apartment life, even gaining mention on the American Kennel Club Web site as "ideal apartment dogs." Fackina says if size is not an issue with the landlord, you might want to consider a midsize dog. Some German shepherds are less than 60 pounds and might fit the bill better, he said.

Puppies are usually a bad match with an apartment because they are big on energy and small on the manners needed for apartment living.

He suggested visiting an animal shelter to find a dog at least 3 years old, past its puppy years, and without a history of barking or aggression. Talk to the shelter volunteers about the animal's past as a gauge for whether it will be suited for apartment life. Most dogs bark in a shelter setting, so it may be hard to judge whether they have a noisy nature.

Once you have chosen your pet, make training a priority, go for regular walks, and provide toys to keep the dog entertained in your absence. Bark collars could be employed if noise becomes a nuisance, said Fackina.

Tenants will want to prevent damage so as not to lose their security deposit Some apartments also require a pet deposit to cover potential damage.
So if your new apartment is "pet friendly," look into your options carefully, to ensure Fido will be here to stay.

Cat Behavior And
All About Cats

People describe cats as tree climbing animals. Proailurus was the first true descendent of the cat that was found 33 million years back. Cats earlier resided in rain forests and were great hunters.

Their razor sharp claws helped them ascend deftly, hiding on trees to escape danger or climbing to wait for a prey. Climbing in other words was immensely helpful for survival and eventually became a way of life.

Domesticated cats have a general fondness for heights. A household cat will always feel very contented in an elevated part of the room be it a window perch or a high shelf. Instinctive knowledge plays an important role in verifying this standard feline desire. Cats instinctively search for hideaways, as it is their natural behavior for shelter and hunting. Do not be surprised, if a cat’s eyes are seen gleaming from some corner.

Theories For Fondness Of Heights:

Below mentioned are some reasons that state why a cat loves heights:

1. Height in some way signifies the rank of a cat. If there are many cats residing in the same household, the cat who reigns the topmost perches generally governs the rest. The governing cat is factually the ‘top cat’.

2. Height enables a cat to observe the surroundings effectively. The cat can thus be more vigilant about the activities of individuals and other pets. An upper position in the wild, functions as a hidden area from where the cat can hunt for its prey.

3. A cat may feel warmer, if it climbs a high place.

4. A high perch enables a cat to escape from any factor, which makes it scared or anxious.

Buy A Cat’s Furniture According To Its Lifestyle:

An individual may find out a pet cat’s character and personality by careful observation and accordingly select the furniture, which best suits the cat’s lifestyle.

1. A brave mountain lion keen to climb an apartment perch: Younger, energetic cats’ favor the highest perch one may provide preferably a ground to ceiling tree. An extremely tough mega tree is necessary for a cat, which likes to dash up the tree.

2. A temporary explorer who regularly occupies a secure middle position: Many segments between two to seven feet will suit the cat’s requirements. A 39″ tall curved penthouse will be suitable accompanied with an ideal observation deck.

3. A demure savanna occupant that prefers a soft floor level pillow: Older cats and those suffering from ailments will favor a comfortable pyramid bed.

Cats Survive After Falling From Great Heights:

Cats have survived falls from 32 stories. Humans die after falling from such a great height. Interestingly the rate of survival and the severity of damage were the same even if the cat fell from seven stories or from 32 stories. In fact, sometimes, the injuries were much less.

This is because cats achieve maximum speed at 60 mph or only after five stories. When a cat reaches this speed, its balancing organs become less functional. This causes the cat to relax, which distributes the collision force uniformly.

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Pets Can Be Tested for
Swine Flu, Too,
says Oklahoma Veterinarians
BY SUSAN SIMPSON - The Oklahoman

STILLWATER — The animal disease diagnostic lab at Oklahoma State University is offering swine flu testing of house pets.

Only one sample has been submitted, a cat that tested negative for H1N1 and recovered from illness.

Veterinarians from Oklahoma and surrounding states can send nasal or cheek swabs for testing to the lab, which is approved by the National Animal Laboratory System. The test will cost pet owners about $80.

Lab director and veterinary doctor Bill Johnson said the lab can test samples from dogs, cats, ferrets and birds.

Several cats and ferrets have tested positive for H1N1 in the United States, and China reported two dogs were infected with the virus.

"It’s a pretty rare event,” Johnson said.

Still, pet owners can take precautions. Family members who are sick with influenza should stay away from pets if possible, and wash their hands before petting them or handling their food.

Symptoms of influenza in pets include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.

Johnson said there is no H1N1 vaccine for pets.

Rescue Animals Break Hearts,
Find New Homes

IRVINE – There's something about the bars and concrete at the pound that can make even a friendly dog look dangerous, Eileen Smulson once noticed.

So she decided to do something to make thousands of dogs more adoptable.

Tessa Gushue, 3, gets acquainted with Charlie, a one-year-old Dalmatian rescue at the "Home for the Holidays," adoption event in Irvine Sunday. Tessa's dad said the family was looking for 'the dog that wants us.' Charlie fit the bill and the Mission Viejo family took him home. MINDY SCHAUER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Smulson had one of 93 stands set up at the Home for the Holidays adoption fair at the Irvine Animal Care Center Sunday. More than half of the stands were for rescue groups, which displayed hundreds of dogs and cats to folks roaming the lawns.

Between the rescue dogs and cats and the animals already housed at the facility, there were "well over 600 animals" available for adoption Sunday, Animal Care Administrator Ron R. Edwards estimated. By 3 p.m., 52 had been adopted from the center, and Edwards expected the total to rise after they hear back from all the rescue groups.

"Last year there were 316 adoptions," Edwards said.

Smulson's big idea was to give blankets to impounded animals to lift their spirits and make them appear less threatening. At her Operation Blankets of Love stand, she had posters with stark before-and-after images; a sullen dog, head hanging, in a bare cell turns into a smiling dog snuggling with a blanket.

"You're saving lives by just giving us a blanket or a towel," Smulson said.

Jim and Patty Fusting brought three Great Pyrenee dogs down from their rescue operation in Devore to introduce people to the breed, which grows to over a 100 pounds.

"They're bred to guard cattle," Jim Fusting said. "They're very protective but very laid back."

Their association has been taking in more dogs lately, as hard times cause more families to cut expenses, he said.

Next to the Fustings, Lisa Trost was explaining her services as a dog listener.

There are four activities, Trost said, where most people unintentionally give their dogs cues to take over the lead: feeding, reuniting, barking and taking walks.

"I teach people how to behave like a pack leader," Trost said.

A volunteer at the center named Marilyn DeCesare watched with reddening eyes as a woman decided against adopting a bedraggled, 9-month-old, terrier mix named Elkie, who shivered from time to time under a sweater.

But the dog that really broke her heart, DeCesare said, was Toby, a part-German Shepherd whose family had lost their house to the bank.

"Toby came in totally happy with his family thinking it was an outing," another volunteer explained. Now the dog just laid there, not responding to anyone.

In one pen, Heidi Campbell of Irvine watched as a Scottie/terrier mix named Bosley chased Gertie, her Brussels Griffon. Campbell had been considering adopting several dogs over the last month for her autism nonprofit, Wonder Works Therapy.

"I lost a bloodhound in August and Gertie's been going through separation anxiety," she said.

While Bosley pursued her, Gertie played coy. Then a volunteer broke the ice with a game of fetch. Campbell decided the Scottie was just the sort of calm, clear-eyed pup the household needed.

"He's a bright boy, very sweet," Campbell said. "He needs a girlfriend though."

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When Boarding Your Dog

December is one of the busiest months for kennels. If your plans for the holidays include boarding your pooch for the first time, here are a few tips from the experts:

Try things out first.

A few initial overnight stays at the kennel might be a good idea if you are taking, say, a month off so your dog can get used to the place.

Don’t take your dog’s favorite toy.

Toys and even blankets are sometimes lost during a facility’s play time. If you take something to leave with your dog, make sure it’s something you can do without later.

You don’t have to feel guilty.

This may sound odd, but if you start overcompensating for your impending absence by being overly affectionate, your absence will be more strongly felt by your dog. Right before you board your pet, show him a bit less attention than you normally do.

Be calm.

Dropping off your pet at the kennel can be an emotional moment, so don’t make a scene. Your dog can sense your emotions, and you don’t want her getting stressed out as you leave her.

When you get back, let your dog relax.

Your dog has probably been up at night barking and has been spending the days you were gone playing with the other dogs, so he may sleep a lot for several days.


Pet Rabbit Care Is Even More
Important During
The Winter Months
By: Tom Jui Home

The cold winter months are here for a while and pets will need extra warmth and comfort until spring eventually arrives. This is the right time for owners of pet rabbits to think about stocking up their pet's rabbit food and ensuring they have appropriate shelter and accessories to stay cosy over the cold spells.

Rabbits are hindgut fermenters which means they look to bacteria in their intestines to break up fibre. The result of this process should be a healthy rabbit. Feeding a rabbit lettuce and a few carrots is not enough. Rabbits should eat lettuce and bits of carrots as a treat. Like humans, rabbits require a variety of foods which are balanced, including fibre, protein and fat.

Specially formulated rabbit food in the shape of pellets helps to build up your pet's bones and keep their teeth in very good shape. Pet rabbit care includes advice on giving your rabbit food that is full of vitamins to help them build up their immune system during cold and wet weather. Outside rabbit hutches should be checked to see if they are in good order and not likely to let in the cold wet weather. Eroded rabbit bowls should be replaced with new ones straight away and hutches need cleaning out very regularly too.

Warm living accommodation helps keeps a pet rabbit in good health. If your pet rabbit is too big for his rabbit hutch consider buying a larger one. Advertise your smaller rabbit hutch at your local veterinary surgery or online to help recoup some of the costs. Rabbits need exercise too, so a run is usually a must along with the hutch.

At Ideas-4-Pets we have a variety of pet rabbit supplies and rabbit cages or rabbit hutches to keep your pet warm, dry and well cared for this winter.

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Pets: Saving Money, Teaching Your Children and Winter Survival Tips

Bathtime for Your Pet Tips
by Vernette Dahl -

Bath time for your pet dog can be an enjoyable or even a humorous experience. How often should you give him or her that long needed bath? This all depends on how dirty the dog gets. Even seasons like summer may require more frequent bathing because of either ticks or fleas which ever love to invade your pet. Sometimes by making an outline of your pets activities will help you make this decision.

* Out door pets will commonly require frequent bathing.
* House pet that is seldom out doors less frequent.

You could consult with your local veterinarian. When you take in your pet for his yearly or annual check up; make a list of your questions you want to ask him.
Know one is better qualified will know what is the best way in giving your pet a bath. He might even have is own dog shampoo product or products. That are more appropreiate for your size or kind of dog.

The vet usually will keep track of any products that you've acquired through his clinic but any allergies in ways of shampoos. They usually know what kind or type of shampoo is good for your individual type of pet. By having records kept on your purchases will keep track of the product name and other information for you.

Let him know if you are first time dog owner because he will either advise you or give you pamphlets on different issues you might have questions about.
Try keeping the same vet so it will make you and your dogs life easier.

If you do move away than it wouldn't hurt to get your dogs history records either printed up or put into your computer files. You also could ask him to send them to your new vet clinic for you. They might ask for a service fee. the new vet will be informed on your dogs case history or any other medical issues. This could save you added medical costs in the long run. This advise could be actual for most pet owners weather a dog or cat even a lizard.

Must give you credit for taking on the responsibility of a pet. But caring enough to provide for him with loving care. Further I don't claim to be an expert on dogs but have raised several dogs. Each of my them were a blessing for me to care for. They all gave me more by their unconditional love. My best friends they were to me and memories of them is still in my thoughts. Hope in some small way I've been of help for the sake of your pet. YOUR BEST FRIEND.

How to Safely
Wash Your Cat
by Angela Rednour -

If you have owned a cat for any length of time, you know that bathing is not a task regularly required by the owner. However, there are times when a cat may need help with their grooming. Reasons for this may include: An overweight cat that cannot reach all the areas of their body. When rolling in the dirt, once again, becomes a popular past time in the spring, or when a cat becomes older and seems to lose interest in keeping itself clean.

There are of course powders and foams you can purchase for cleaning cats, but they don't necessarily get out all the grease and loose hair and dirt your cat may have accumulated. The best way to make sure your cat is squeaky clean is to use the old fashion soap and water method.

The thought might be scary, but having worked in a grooming shop and bathed many a cat, I can say for sure that there is at least one safe way to bath your aqua phobic kitty, while keeping your arms and face free or at least mostly free, of scratches.

The best place to bathe a cat is in the bathtub, with the bathroom door closed. It's a small room and if the cat gets loose there aren't very many places to hide. You will need several items within arms reach before you begin.

1. Shampoo. (Animal shampoo is best, but human shampoo will work just as well).

2. A cup or bowl. (For scooping water)

3. At least three towels.

4. (optional) A second person. (To help if your cat is exceedingly feisty.)

The first thing you'll want to do is have the cat in the bathroom with you before you fill the tub.

(Getting your cat accustomed to being with you in the bathroom will help tremendously. The more you allow your cat in the bathroom, on non bath days, the more comfortable the animal will be when bath time does come around.)

The second thing is to fill the tub. Lukewarm water is best. Not to hot and not to cold. You will only need a couple inches of water in the tub, for wetting and rinsing.

The next step is the hardest and perhaps the scariest. Placing the cat in the tub. The best way to do this is to hold the cat by the scruff of the neck, while at the same time holding him tightly against your body and slowly lowering your cat into the water. Don't dangle the cat by holding it by the scruff of the neck. A mother cat may do this to its kittens but this action can actually hurt an adult cat. Holding your cat tightly next to you may not seem like the natural (or smart) thing to do when mixing cats and water, but it's the best way to keep the cat calm.

Expect to get wet very wet. Expect some resistance once that first strand of hair hits the water. If you are still holding the cat by the neck, there should not be too great a struggle. You should continue holding your cat by the neck the entire time she's in the tub. This of course means you will be shampooing and rinsing with one hand. If this seems impossible, that second person I mentioned earlier may be able to help with this. If there is no second person to help, there is another option.

Using your cat's collar and an inexpensive cat leash to tie the cat to the tub can be helpful. This will allow your cat more room to move around (and to scratch), but if you keep a firm grip on your cat at all times, this risk should be greatly reduced. Also be careful not to choke your cat.

You will want to wet the cat next. I do not advise getting water anywhere on the head of your cat. You want to avoid getting water in your cats ears at all cost; also, if a cat's head gets wet, they are more likely to freak out. If you believe your cat's head needs a good washing, I would suggest waiting till after the bath. You can then take a damp wash cloth with a little bit of soap on it and rub it over the cats face.

Once the cat is completely soaked, add just a tiny amount of shampoo. A cat may have a lot of fur, but a little shampoo can go along way. Plus the less you use, the less you have to rinse! You will want to be sure and get the belly, legs and tail of your cat, and don't forget about that behind!

When you are ready to rinse your cat, be sure to rinse thoroughly or you may find yourself taking the cat back to the tub sooner than either you or the cat would wish. Once the rinsing is complete, let the water out of the tub. You should still be holding on to your cat's neck at this point. Once the water is gone out of the tub, take towel number one and blot your cat with it. Don't rub the fur dry as this can cause matting. You can use both hands for this as long as you keep a firm grasp on your cat. Towel number two should be wrapped tightly around your kitty. You can then lift the cat out of the tub the ordeal is over.

Hold your cat tightly and speak soothingly to it. This will help keep your cat calm, rubbing the nose will also have a calming affect. Towel number one will no doubt become soaked quite quickly. You can let your cat wander around the bathroom while you remove towel number one and replace it with towel number two. This towel will also become wet pretty quickly. If you don't mind drips of water all over your house, or wet furniture, however, no further drying is needed, your cat can be set at liberty. If you prefer only damp furniture, I would recommend using the third towel, wrapping the cat in it tightly and blotting out excess water. I do not recommend using a blow dryer on your cat; this could be potentially fatal to your health. If however you want your cat to dry more quickly, you can place the cat in a cage with a quiet fan blowing on it. You will need to turn the cat every now and then to get all sides dry.

You can expect your cat to throw hateful glances your way for the next few days, but rest assured that eventually your cat will learn to love you again. In the meantime you can rest contentedly with the fact that you have once again survived bath time with your water phobic fur ball.

Your Pet Questions
Contributing Editor Steve Dale - USA Today

In response to complaints about barking, our condominium board just instituted a rule prohibiting dogs that weigh more than 30 pounds. We were just about to adopt a 32-pound whippet mix. Now, the shelter won't allow us to because it checked with the board. This is ridiculous: The dog is only 2 pounds over the weight limit, and whippets are a quiet breed.


I agree with you: Either allow dogs or don't. It seems to me that weight limits are made up without basis; after all, small dogs can be loud. Your building allows dogs under 30 pounds, but others may set the limit at 20 pounds or 15 pounds.

There are rules so people can be responsible neighbors, and you don't have to listen to a stereo blaring at 4 a.m. or incessant barking. Of course, a stereo can be turned off. The barking might be from a dog with separation anxiety that's actually calling out for help. Compassionate neighbors, I hope, would allow the owner to seek help before taking action. Meanwhile, considerate dog owners should follow these rules: Leash your pet in common areas, muzzle it if the animal is aggressive, and pick up after it.

If you (and other owners) can't sway the condo board, or bring in an expert to do that, then run for board president yourself. In the meantime, either wait until the rule is changed, move, or adopt a pup well under 30 pounds.


Charlie, my boyfriend of nine months, despises cats. I don't really know why -- he doesn't give me a straight answer. He says he won't visit anymore as long as I have Bella. I really do like Charlie, but Bella has been my friend for 11 years; I've had her since she was a kitten. Do you think his request is fair?

I guarantee that Bella will be devoted to you for the rest of her life. I'm not sure the same is true about Charlie. If it were true, would he be asking you to relinquish your friend? Keep the cat. Sorry, Charlie.


We have two cats that drink from the fish bowl rather than lap up their own fresh water. We're wondering if this is why the fish are dying. We recently replaced the fish, and the cats immediately went back to drinking fish water, and the new fish died within a week. Are the cats giving the fish heart attacks? What can we do?

Aquarists tell me the fish aren't likely suffering from heart failure. But cats have bacteria in their mouths that could affect the fish, or it may just be a coincidence that the fish are dying.

Regardless, offer the cats a more appealing water source. Many cats are fascinated by running water. There are bowls with running water, specifically made for cats, available at pet stores and online. Also, moving fish may be the attraction, so buy a pair of floating fish toys -- the kind little kids might put in a bathtub -- and place them in a spacious water bowl for your cats.

Meanwhile, relocate your freaked-out fish to a spot your cats can't access. You also can use double-stick tape or Sticky Paws around the perimeter of the bowl (cats don't like their paws sticking to surfaces). If you have an aquarium, put a top over it -- and secure it.

Steve Dale is heard weekly on WGN Radio and writes a syndicated column, "My Pet World."

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Winter Survival Tips
for the Green Dog!

Winter is upon us! The first snow has fallen here in Indiana. It is time to be ready!!!

There are a lot of dangers in the winter months for us dogs. Today, we thought it would be a good idea to share some winter survival tips for the green dog, or aspiring green dog. So, here are our top 15 tips. Feel free to spread the word!

#1 Us green dogs, we're cherished members of our families, and spend time indoors with our peeps. Many folks, unfortunately, don't feel the same way and leave their dog's outside even in the harshest of conditions.

Spread the word with those you can about the dangers to dogs when keeping them outside. If you see a dog chained outside, this great site - Unchain Your Dog - has some wonderful tips on what you can do to help, and flyers you can share. And you can print it out to help spread the word. We want every dog to be as safe and comfortable as possible.

#2 The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can not only irritate the pads of your pup's feet, but if they are ingested (like when we lick our paws after coming inside) they can be very toxic. Keep your pet away from the streets and sidewalks that have had salt put down. And if they have to venture out into these areas, be sure and wipe down your dog's paws the minute they come in from outside with a damp cloth. An even better idea would be to use an Earth friendly and safe paw wipe, like this one.

#3 What do you do about those slick sidewalks and keep your pups safe and healthy? Try putting down some hallway non-skid mats! We have a couple of them that we use in the garage, so we just take them outside, put them down on the sidewalk or patio and we're safe as can be!

If you don't have any mats and have ice or slick areas around your home and want to keep us pups safe, and 2-leggers as well, there is a great product on the market - Safe Paw - that melts ice and is safe for us pups and humans. Much better than those chemical ice melters.

#4 When it gets below freezing, it's just not safe for us dogs to be out in the cold for any length of time. Even a half hour in frigid temperatures can cause problems. Be sure to keep a sharp eye on your dog’s body temperature and never leave him in the yard for more than 10 minutes when temperatures dip below freezing.

If your dog needs to do his/her 'biz,' and it's that cold outside, don't hesitate to put a nice warm dog coat, like the West Paw CloudBurst Dog Jacket (and even boots, if necessary) on your pup. They need it. Even a sporting dog like me, will wear both if it makes me more comfy outside. Yes, I'll even wear boots! Try these Pawz Biodegradable Natural Dog Boots, or make your own from reused items in your home!

And be sure and make that trip out to 'potty' quickly, K?

#5 Trim the excess fur from footpads and toes of us longer haired dogs. It sure makes it more comfy on our toes in the snow. That fur is a catalyst for building up those painful and nasty ice balls between our toes. And why not add a little Salmon oil on their paws to keep the ice balls from forming, and they can lick it off safely when they come in?

#6 Be super careful with your dogs around rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes. Us dogs are drawn to those areas like magnets and during the winter months they can be deceivingly dangerous. They may look frozen, but many times they aren't (a very tempting danger), and the water can be super cold, creating hypothermia, just like in humans.

#7 Us dogs love to go for car rides. But don't leave us in there without you, K? Cars act as refrigerators in cold weather and we can again suffer from hypothermia. And a running car can accumulate dangerous carbon monoxide levels inside when idling.

#8 Dogs can get frostbite, did you know that? A dog’s ears, feet and tail are highly susceptible to frostbite. So be aware and limit our time outdoors. And keep this link handy, courtesy of the Absaroka Search Dogs. It has great info on recognizing hypothermia and frostbite in dogs, and what to do if you suspect a danger.

#9 My sis Gracie loves to eat snow. A little isn't too bad for us dogs and Gracie thinks its fun, so Mum let's her eat a little. But snow is not a substitute for water. Even in the harshest part of winter, make sure your pup has fresh drinking water available at all time. And remember, filtered is best.

#10 During the cold winter months, we are probably all utilizing an additional heating source, like a fireplace. These heating sources can be dangerous to dogs. Be sure and keep a good eye out and keep us away from any new dangers in the house during the winter. Use a barrier, like an x-pen if need be.

#11 Watch out for that anti freeze! It can leak onto driveways and roads and it smells and tastes really good to us dogs. But it is highly poisonous and can be lethal to your canine companion if ingested. Keep this phone number and link (from the ASPCA), as well as your vet and emergency vet number handy, just in case of an emergency.

#12 Don't let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Did you know that dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost during these times? More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wear ID tags, and keep 'em safe, K?

#13 Puppies are much more sensitive to the elements than us adult dogs. So take the necessary precautions. You may want to use paper training during the dead of winter if you are potty training. And if your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself and make the trips quickly.

#14 Running around in the snow is one of my absolute favorite things to do. But Mum only let's me when it's safely warm enough. And we don't do it for long. If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in safe outdoor activities during the winter months and is used to it, increase their supply of food, particularly protein, to keep 'em in tip-top shape.

#15 And when it warms up a bit, get out there and have fun with your dog! 'Cause us dogs know how to have fun.

Stay safe!

Why Do Cats Need Thiamine?
Amelia Glynn - SF Gate

In late September of this year, Diamond Pet Foods voluntarily recalled two of its feline formulas, Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat and Premium Edge Hairball, because they did not contain enough thiamine. Cats fed these foods without another source of nutrition were at risk of developing a thiamine deficiency that could make them sick and, if left untreated, could even result in death.

Why is thiamine is essential for cats? Thiamine, sometimes called aneurin, is a water-soluble B complex vitamin that helps support and maintain healthy functioning of nerves, muscle cells and the brain in both humans and animals. Without thiamine, the body cannot convert carbohydrates into energy. Thiamine also enables the body to quickly convert fats into energy. It was one of the latest vitamins to be discovered, and wasn't properly identified and classified until 1935.

Thiamine deficiency is rare in cats and is most typically seen when felines are fed diets containing large amounts of raw fish; raw fish contains the enzyme thiaminase that destroys thiamine. Other reasons for thiamine deficiency can include:

•Feeding cats pet foods that contain high levels of sulfur dioxide (a preservative), which inactivates thiamine.

•Cooking cat food in water (because thiamine is water-soluble) or with high heat. Pet food manufacturers must carefully monitor their products to ensure they contain adequate levels of thiamine to compensate for the loss during the cooking process.

•Choosing cheap or generic brands of cat food that may not monitor thiamine levels as carefully as they should.

Because thiamine cannot be stored in the body, levels can be quickly depleted if a cat is fed an inadequate diet or goes without food for any length of time. Thiamine must be consumed on a daily basis to maintain optimal health.

Initial symptoms of thiamine deficiency can include decreased appetite, salivation, vomiting, weight loss and increased aggression. Later, neurological problems can often develop, such as seizures, ventroflexion of the neck (in which the cat loses its ability to raise its head) and an overall lack of coordination, sometimes indicated by wobbly walking, circling and falling.

Thiamine deficiency can be effectively treated by switching to a nutritionally balanced diet, cutting down on or eliminating raw fish from a cat's diet and administering thiamine injections.

Diamond Pet Foods confirmed a total of 21 reports of thiamine deficiency in New York and Pennsylvania. The pet food was distributed in 18 states including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. No incidents have been reported since October 19.
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Advice On Potty
Training Your Puppy
by nfisher1983 -

There are plenty of articles and books available to pet owners that discuss successful programs for house training your young puppy . What I have to offer you are some pretty basic guidelines for a smooth and quick transition to a happy, healthy, and confident young dog.

First and foremost, crate train your puppy! Your dog knows not to pee where he sleeps, so if you find yourself needing to leave him alone for a couple of hours, place him in a crate. He will learn to hold it on instinct, and when you get home he will need to go right away. Not only will he learn how to hold his bladder, but he will also associate your return home as the time to go. Very quickly, you will find that he is learning.

Also, while he is going pee, repeat the phrase "Go potty" three times. Do this each time he goes to the bathroom for two weeks. Eventually, when you ask your puppy if he has to go potty, he will know what you are talking about and will give you a sign. Our dog jumps about 2 feet in the air and does a 360 degree turn as his signal. Good luck and be patient. Potty training requires consistency and you ABSOLUTELY cannot in any way associate punishment with going to the bathroom. So when he has an accident, no yelling and no punishment. None. If you do, you will only be setting your successful potty training back. Dogs are all about love and confidence; build up both and you will have a happy and healthy family member!

Keep Pet Costs
on a Tight Leash
By Stacy Rapacon,

Four-footed family members don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Over the past seven years, Anna Meyer has gone through many life changes. She earned her doctorate in immunology at the Medical College of Georgia, moved to Maryland, got married, had a baby and moved to Charleston, S.C. Through it all, her dogs, Boss and Spud, have been at her side (and at her feet). “They’re my family,” says Meyer. They also chew up a big slice of the family budget -- a whopping $1,350 per dog per year. But, she says, “they’re worth it.”

She’s in good company. Pet owners spent $43.2 billion on their animals in 2008, according to the American Pet Products Association. This year, despite the recession, they are expected to spend 5% more. But your furry (or scaly, slimy or feathery) loved one’s health and happiness doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

An Ounce of Prevention

Veterinary bills are one of the biggest budget busters, and they’re rising much faster than the average overall cost of owning a pet. In 2009, spending on vet visits is expected to increase by 10%, to $12.2 billion.

But don’t be tempted to pinch pennies by cutting back on preventive care, advises Dr. Louise Murray, author of Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health (Ballantine Books, $25). Says Murray, who is director of medicine at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, “Contracting an illness could be far more costly.” For example, immunizing your dog against the parvovirus costs $15. Skip the shot and you could wind up paying up to $5,000 for treatment in a veterinary-hospital intensive-care unit.

Buy a wellness plan? To save money on routine vet visits, vaccinations and preventive medications, consider purchasing a wellness package, which many veterinary practices provide at a discounted rate. Talk to vets in your area to see what kinds of deals they offer, or look into a plan that’s offered nationwide. For example, with the Pet Assure program, an annual fee of $59 per year for a cat or $99 for a dog entitles you to 25% off visits to veterinarians in the company’s network, plus 5% to 50% off pet supplies and services from participating retailers.

Meyer always asks vets about possible discounts. Her current vet, for example, gives her 20% off her second dog’s first annual visit. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking,” she says. “A lot of vets will give you a deal, especially when you have multiple pets.” Enroll Fido in obedience school. A trained pet is less likely to roam and rack up medical bills by becoming the victim of accidents. Plus, says Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice-president of the ASPCA, “a well-trained pet is going to help you save on other costs,” such as replacing damaged furniture or cleaning stained carpets.

In addition, routine grooming can stave off infections and other costly problems. For example, Zawistowski’s 11-year-old beagle, Morgan, has seasonal allergies and is prone to ear infections -- an ailment common to the breed. After consulting with his vet, Zawistowski began a regular regimen of washing Morgan’s ears to keep infections at bay. He also routinely shampoos Morgan’s feet to get rid of itchy pollen that makes the dog chew at his paws, which could cause significant skin problems.

Order medications online. Meyer estimates that she saves about $180 a year on flea and heartworm meds by ordering supplies in six- and 12-month batches from 1-800-PetMeds (800-738-6337; For additional savings, she signed up for the company’s e-mails, which alert her to special sales and coupon codes.

Maintain a healthy diet.

“We have a massive obesity problem among pets in this country,” says Zawistowski. And just as with humans, obesity can lead to costly health issues. Treating diabetes, for example, can cost $50 a month for standard supplies, including insulin and syringes. More-serious diabetic cases could lead to a trip to the ICU, which costs up to $3,000. In fact, maintaining a proper diet for your pet may not only prevent diabetes, it might also cure the illness in cats when combined with insulin treatments. Unfortunately, says Murray, “diabetic dogs are diabetic forever.”

In addition to diabetes, cats are especially susceptible to diet-related ailments. They are “pure carnivores who don’t drink much water,” says Murray. So feeding your cat dry food, which is typically carbohydrate-heavy, can lead to a range of diseases, including urinary-tract problems and kidney failure. Dry food might seem economical, says Murray, “but it’s not when your cat develops an illness.” As long as pet food meets guidelines set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, it will provide proper nutrition. Says Murray, “Just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better.” Meyer, for example, sticks with Costco-brand food for her dogs, which go through two 40-pound bags each month. Trading down from brand-name kibble saves about $240 a year.

Pet-insurance option.

Even if you provide all the proper preventive care, you still can’t protect your pet from everything. “Almost every animal at some point in its life is going to have at least one serious medical issue,” says Murray. “The most important thing is for pet owners to have a backup plan.”

If you don’t want to pay out of pocket, you have two choices: Set up a special savings account or buy pet insurance. Murray recommends maintaining a fund of $1,000 to $2,000 for a typical animal emergency, such as a stomach problem. But if you want extra protection in case you face a more serious situation, such as a car accident, you should bump your budget up to $3,000 or $4,000. Either way, an emergency-savings fund has one big advantage: If your pet never needs it, the money’s still yours.

Most people prefer to skip pet insurance. The ASPCA estimates that just 5% to 10% of pets in this country are covered by health insurance. Murray says insurance makes the most sense for “very vigilant owners who want to give their pets top-level care.” As a result, she says, “owners get a lot back from their coverage because they use it often.”

Pet insurance may start to look more attractive as sophisticated treatments become more expensive. Over the past few decades, the veterinary field has advanced rapidly, with high-priced procedures that range from $600 biopsies to $3,000 orthopedic surgeries to $7,000 kidney transplants.

Meyer insures both of her “boys.” When her 92-pound boxer, Boss, was a wee pup, he suffered fainting spells. Meyer worried that the symptom was a sign of bigger problems to come, especially because heÕs a purebred and therefore more prone to hereditary disorders. So she signed him up for insurance and did the same a year later when she got Spud, a 66-pound Dalmatian-Labrador retriever mix.

On average, reports the ASPCA, a basic pet-insurance plan costs $19 a month for a dog and $15 a month for a cat. At, you can compare the policies offered by major insurance companies and read reviews from animal owners. Users currently rate PetPlan’s Bronze policy best in show. Monthly rates start at about $8, and the policy covers all accidents, injuries and illnesses, including those caused by hereditary conditions (there’s a $200 deductible, and claims are reimbursed at 80%).

What’s not covered

Unlike the PetPlan policy, many policies do not cover congenital problems to which your pet’s breed may be susceptible. Boss’s coverage, for example, excludes cardiac arrhythmia, to which a purebred boxer is predisposed. In fact, Meyer’s insurer excludes narcolepsy for beagles and exercise-induced collapse for Labrador retrievers because the conditions are common to these popular breeds. Such exceptions make buying tricky, says Murray. “The condition that you’re going to need insurance for is often the one you’re excluded from.”

But that doesn’t make all pet policies a bad deal for purebred dogs. (Purebred cats are rare in this country and don’t often have problems with insurance exclusions. Mutts, such as Spud, don’t face coverage exclusions, either.) You just need to sniff out a plan that doesn’t exclude genetic conditions. Preexisting conditions are also an issue. Any visits or treatments directly related to Boss’s fainting are excluded because it preceded his coverage. Purchasing pet insurance from the get-go might help you dodge the problem. Plus, says Zawistowski, “like anything else, you’re going to get the best price when your pet is young and healthy.”

But there are no guarantees. An ailment that your pet is treated for this year may be labeled a preexisting condition when you go to renew the plan next year. “You don’t want a policy like that,” says Murray. “Animals, like humans, get the same illnesses over and over again.” A couple of years ago, Boss was plagued by prostatitis, a disease of the prostate gland, and his treatment cost more than $1,400. But Meyer was reimbursed by her insurer for 90% of eligible expenses, minus a $50 deductible -- a total of more than $600. “Even though I’m paying every month, it’s easier to spread out the money rather than face a big lump sum,” she says. “It gives me peace of mind knowing that I’ll be getting some of that cost back.”

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Animal Friends:
Teach Children How
to Approach Pets
By Linda Goldston -

Jean Laws of Portola Valley was letting her dogs Cleo and Louis enjoy a drink of water after a romp at a local park when a young girl jumped from behind Louis, a Boston terrier, to pat him.

"Nothing happened but Louis' being startled," Jean said.

About 15 minutes later, Jean was talking to one of the dog owners at the park when another little girl ran up to Cleo, a rescued Staffordshire bull terrier, "with her hand extended, ostensibly so Cleo could sniff it."

But the woman talking to Jean told the girl to stop and said "always ask first."

How true.

So many kids are bitten because their parents have not talked to them about how to approach a dog. This goes for adults as well, of course.

Luckily Jean's dogs "are pretty easygoing with kids, but I still always make the dogs sit and teach the child to proffer the back of a closed hand," Jean said. "The lack of etiquette on how to greet a strange dog is quite apparent."

Since many families don't have dogs and don't think to teach their kids about them, Jean recommends that those of us who know dogs take the time to teach when children approach our dogs.

"It could prevent a child from having a negative, if not dangerous encounter with a normally well-socialized dog, who felt threatened," Jean said.

I've seen that happen so many times and was delighted when Jean brought up the subject. I asked Cerena Zutis, the owner of CZ Dog Training who also works with special-needs animals for Humane Society Silicon Valley, for tips. You can read about her training philosophy at her Web site,

"For children meeting dogs, it's the basics," she said.

Always ask permission of the dog owner — "Is it OK if I pet your dog?" Offer the back of your hand. Allow the dog to smell it.

After you ask if it's OK, allow the dog to approach you, instead of reaching out, Cerena said.

"Don't pet them on the head. Pet the side of their face or under the face."

She also suggests practicing with friendly dogs. And if the dog owner seems unsure if it's OK for you to pet their dog, "inquire further or walk away," Cerena said. "A lot of people are rescuing dogs now, so they don't really know how the dog will always react."

With the holidays upon us, it's also a good time to think about dog and child safety — consider company arriving with their children who might not know your dog, for example.

Some dogs crave attention from anyone, but in general, she said, "dogs need a quiet place if company comes over. Kids should be taught that if they see a dog in a crate they should leave it alone. A lot of dogs are good with kids but don't like the screaming kids tend to do. It's too much for them."

My dog, Lucy, would have kissed a flea if she thought it would pay attention to her, but some dogs are shy and haven't been around people enough, aren't socialized enough, to feel comfortable when strange children or adults rush up to them. If a dog shies away when you approach, it's a good idea to back off.

"There's a polite way to greet people and a polite way to greet dogs," Cerena said.

We also need to look out for children when it's our dogs who are exuberant. How many times have you seen a dog accidentally knock a child down and the kid bursts into tears? That doesn't need to happen, so please pay attention and be sensitive when around children your dog doesn't know.

Norwegian Elkhound Dog
Breed Profile

The Norwegian Elkhound can be traced as far back as the stone ages. Through the study of the fossils from that time it can be determined that there existed the same basic dog that we know of today as the Elkhound.

This breed has such purity of ancestry that it can be considered to be one of the most ancient of all the dogs. The Norwegian word for the dog”, elghund” actually means “moosedog” however, Elkhound is the translation which stuck. Hound is probably not an appropriate term for the dog does not have any hound in its genetic makeup. However despite this the dog was brought into the American Kennel club in the Hound group. Devotees of the breed find that having the dog in this class or group can be a disadvantage since it bears very little resemblance to the dogs typically entered as “hounds”.

There are three varieties of the Norwegian Elkhound, all three are close cousins and have remained unchanged through the centuries. The Gray Elkhound is the one most familiar, then there is the Black (which is a slightly smaller variety) and the Swedish or the Jamthound.

Today the Elkhound still is used in the Northern countries to track and follow wild game, including moose, elk, deer, lynx and wolf. Many of the pet owners of this breed have no idea that indeed it is a hunting dog with unique versatility for it will bay on the track, or creep in silence behind the animal, or attack with dodging and feinting to bring the animal down.

Those who do hunt with this dog will insist that he can pick up the scent of the elk or moose as far away as three miles. He also is used on smaller game because moose and elk are not as plentiful as they once were and of course now there are established hunting seasons for these animals. The Norwegian Elkhound is generally a versatile farm dog, going after all kinds of marauding predators and also making himself useful as a herding dog for the livestock. The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium sized dog with a densely furred coat. The color is solid gray in varying shades, with black tips on the ends of the hairs.

Usually there is a typical whiter band of hair across the shoulders and around the eyes in a spectacle appearance. Also the breeches of the hind legs and the underside of the tightly curled tail are in lighter shades. Actually, the markings of the breed are similar to those of the Keeshond. However the Keeshond has a coat which is much longer. The Norwegian Elkhounds of today are popular as a family pet in most parts of the world and of course are shown in the dog shows.

One of the most well known judges and breeders, Patricia Hastings, made the Norwegian Elkhound famous in the show rings of the United States and also at Crufts. She bred and raised this breed for many years and took several of her dogs to the coveted wins of Best of Breed and even Best in show at Westminster, later going on to become a judge of great skill.

Her positive influence on the breed has no doubt increased the numbers of these dogs that are now found as family pets. However the dog is not a dog which is for everyone. It is a dog that must have a purpose and simply lying about the house is not part of its nature. Any dog that has solid working or hunting instincts can quickly become bored and quite destructive if the working nature of the breed is not channeled and encouraged.

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Cats Will Be Cats! (Photos)

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Cats Will Be Cats!

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Pet Kennels, Holiday Decorations and Bird Cages

Holiday Tips Offered
for Pet Owners
By The Capital-Journal

MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University veterinarian has offered tips to pet owners during the holiday season.

Susan Nelson, a veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences at K-State, said the holidays are a stressful time for both the pet and those who might interact with the pet.

For pet owners who opt to bring their pet to holiday gatherings, Nelson said the following things should be considered:

•Always ask the host if it is OK to bring a pet along.
•Bring essentials like food and water bowls, a leash, cleaning supplies and a litter box for pets that require one.

•Clean up after pets. Pick up waste in the yard, and bring a roller for pets that shed.

•Bring a crate so the pet doesn't run free in the home.

•Don't let pets hang out while people are cooking or during mealtime, unless the hosts are OK with that.

•Pets may become agitated with new people around or lots of activity.

•If a pet is nervous or prone to biting people, especially if children will be present, reconsider taking it with you.

•If a pet has anxiety or barks a lot, reconsider taking it with you.

•Not everyone likes animals. Some people may have a fear or may have allergies.

•Thank the hosts for allowing your pet to visit.

For pet owners who decide to leave their pet at home, consider the stress it may put on the pet and what the best care for the animal might be.

Nelson said a kennel is a good option for social animals that don't stress about leaving home. Pet sitters are good options for animals that are more at ease at home. She also said it is important to consider the animal's behavior before hiring a pet sitter.

Pet sitters should meet the pet ahead of time. If the pet isn't used to being home alone, owners should leave for short periods of time to prepare the animal, Nelson said. Additionally, for animals that are going to a kennel and may not be used to small spaces, consider getting a crate ahead of time to prepare the pet.

Arrange play dates for pets that might not be used to having other animals around. Send along an item that smells like home for a pet's stay at the kennel.

Kennel spots should be reserved early for the holidays. Pet owners may check into safety measures, such as video surveillance, fire alarms and sprinkler systems. Make sure pets are up-to-date on their vaccines, and find out if any others are required for their kennel stay.

Never forget to discuss what to do in a worst-case scenario, especially with an old or a sick pet.

How Do You Find a Good Kennel
for Your Pets?
Jill Rosen - Baltimore Sun

If any of you are like me, you shudder at the idea of having to leave a pet in a kennel.... a kennel where the little guy or gal doesn't know anyone...and, worse yet, you aren't quite sure if you can trust the place to take the kind of care you do with your loved one.

But, sometimes, like a lot of times around the busy holidays, a kennel is the only choice. Dr. Wanda V. Pool, a vet who owns Deepwood Veterinary Clinic in Centreville, Va., has some tips on how to find one you can feel good about.

1. Research: Find out about boarding facilities from reliable sources, like veterinarians, and tour the place before you bring your beloved pet to stay there. (Make sure no complaints have been lodged against a facility by checking with the Better Business Bureau.)

2. Sniff test: Satisfy yourself that the boarding kennel you choose is safe, clean and comfortable, providing good care from knowledgeable, experienced staff.

3. Healthy standards: Confirm that the kennel requires all boarding animals to meet health standards. The kennel should insist on current vaccinations, including protection against kennel cough (Bordetella) and the new emerging virus, canine influenza H3N8.

4. Pet Identification: Make sure your pet is properly identified during its boarding stay. The kennel should provide a highly visible ID collar as a help to kennel staff.

5. Just in Case: Kennels should require owners to provide the name and contact information of their veterinarian and/or a signed release form authorizing medical care.

6. Expecting the Unexpected: Kennels should have plans in place to handle health emergencies, including disease outbreaks.

7. Pet Inspection: Closely look at your pet when you fetch it from the kennel and look for signs of fleas, scrapes or bruises, or illness, such as discharge from the eyes or nose.

8. Relax: Maintain your composure when dropping off and retrieving pets from kennels so they can model your good behavior.

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Pet Adoptions:
When is the Right Time?
USA Today

Cute puppies can be tempting to purchase for Christmas, but the truth is many dogs end up in shelters after the holidays because families weren't ready to take them.

A press release came to me Wednesday that made so much sense I thought, well everyone knows this, so why pass it along? But apparently not everyone does know it.

Getting a pet -- or giving someone a pet -- for Christmas might seem like a good idea at the time, but the truth is many of these pets end up in shelters because people had no idea how time consuming the pet would be.

If you're tempted to get a pet for the holidays, Petfinder is encouraging people to foster animals over the holidays. They introduced the program at the end of the CBS movie Sunday A Dog Named Christmas. That movie must have hit a cord with viewers. More than 10 million tuned into watch it. A young man convinces people in a small town to bring home abandoned pets from the shelter for Christmas, including his own dad, who fought the idea the hardest.

5 Questions About Keeping
Your Pet Safe for the Holidays
By Body and Mind staff - DR. CALVIN CLEMENTS -

Position: Veterinarian, certified canine rehabilitation therapist

Company: Palmyra Animal Clinic

Years in field: 26

Q: Some pet owners might not think about dangers lurking in holiday decorations. What should people be aware of?

A: Holiday decorations enhance the season, but pet owners should be aware that these decorations can also be an attractive nuisance to their pets. In some instances, decorations can cause serious harm.

Glass ornaments can result in serious lacerations to the oral cavity, face and feet, not to mention, if swallowed, ulceration and perforation of the gastrointestinal tract. The hooks used to affix them to the tree can become lodged in the mouth, throat and gastrointestinal tract, requiring surgery to remove them.

Tinsel and garland become an attractive play toy to many pets. If swallowed, these can result in serious consequences that if not identified early results in fatality. Electric lights are often a beckoning call to be chewed and swallowed. Obviously this can result in electrical shock and serious electrical burns of the oral cavity.

A Christmas tree presents an obstacle course to the family cat daring to scale it. All too frequently this results in the Christmas tree tipping over, causing trauma to the pet and also being a fire hazard.

To avoid the hazards, decorations should be put up high. Trees should be put on stands to be taken out of reach. Low hanging tinsel and garland should be avoided. In the case of persistent pets accessing Christmas trees, the use of scat pads and motion detectors are helpful. It is highly recommended that all electrical cords be taped to the floor in such a fashion that they cannot be accessed.

Preplanning will allow pet owners to have a joyous time with minimal pet emergencies.

Q: Are poinsettias or other holiday plants really poisonous to pets?

A: The toxicity of poinsettias has been grossly overstated, likely based on myth or misclassification of the plant early in its introduction. Although they are not a source of extreme toxicity, we should not fail to mention that like most house plants, ingestion of them may cause gastric upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Although poinsettias will not cause seizures or death, it may cause a rather unenjoyable “present” on the floor.

If a pet has ingested any plants, it is best to call your veterinarian to check.

Q: Keeping the cat or dog out of the kitchen can be a trick under normal circumstances. What holiday treats might pose a special threat to pets?

A: Any change in a pet’s diet may upset their gastrointestinal system and could cause vomiting and diarrhea and, in some cases, pancreatitis. During the holidays, many treats become more available and accessible to pets. Treats that include chocolate can be harmful to pets, especially dark chocolate. Pet owners should be mindful to keep any human food and treats away from their pets.

Q: Holidays often mean having extra visitors to the house. What challenges does that pose for pets? And what precautions can owners take?

A: The hustle and bustle of the holidays is always a stress to the house pet. Changes in schedules, family being absent during the day while making shopping trips, new visitors being in the house, etc. can be stressful to a pet who doesn’t understand the busy holiday season.

Like many of us, pets respond to stress differently. Some pets become more aggressive or seek more attention, which often turns into deeds of misbehavior such as chewing, urinating indoors or outside of litter boxes, etc. Others internalize their stress response and exhibit their stress with a decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking and urinating.

Unfortunately, this can be compounded with visitors who don’t understand pets and their unique behaviors. Therefore during the holiday season it is important to remember that your pet can be extraordinarily stressed, and you should take extra steps to adhere to normal routines as it permits.

Q: What should pet owners know about traveling with their pets?

A: While traveling with pets, pet owners should practice proper restraint of their pets in vehicles. This includes pet car seats, crates or carriers, seatbelt attachments or barriers. Pets should not be allowed to roam around the vehicle, especially while it is motion. This not only puts your pet in harm’s way but you and your family as well.

Make sure that your pet is traveling on an empty stomach as some pets experience motion sickness. And remember that even pets need “bathroom breaks.”

Some pets get very scared while traveling and can exhibit varying behaviors that they may not have shown before. As a last result, there are sedatives that are available through your veterinarian.

If you are traveling, you should carry your pet’s current medical records. International health certificates may be required if you are traveling out of the United States.

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Dog Food Tips
for Buying the Best
Chantee Hale -

What your dog eats can make a big impact on your dog’s health. Good dog food has been shown to increase your pet’s life span. But how do you choose the best food for your dog?

The first rule in choosing dog food is to know what your pet needs. Has your veterinarian recommended a special diet, is your dog overweight, or is your dog a puppy, senior, or pregnant? Once you’ve answered these basic questions you can move on to selecting the right food for your dog.

What your dog likes may also factor into your choice. Smaller dogs may have trouble chewing large chucks of dry dog food so tiny pieces may be best for smaller breeds. Some dogs prefer dry food, while others may go nuts for wet. If your dog has a preference try to work with him, otherwise it’s time to start looking at labels.

Thanks to the Association of American Feed Control Officials we now have published standards for dog food, which encourages manufacturers to make their food as healthy as we’d like it to be. AAFCO’s website, found at, not only has dog food nutrient profiles to aid in your research but also alerts consumers to dog food recalls and other health concerns that are related to feeding your pet.

Now that you know your dog’s eating profile, what should you be looking for on the label? Here’s a list of ingredients that you will find in good dog foods.

Beef, chicken, lamb, turkey and other specifically named meat proteins. Foods with protein or meat ‘meal’ are made with less actual meat than foods with named whole meats. Also, be aware that foods with fish may contain ethoxguin, a product used to preserve non-human grade fish. Unless a dog food specifically states that the fish they use is ethoxyquin free don’t buy it.

Rice, Amaranth, Oatmeal, Millet, and Sweet Potatoes are acceptable fillers for dog food. As dog’s utilize protein and meat fats better than they do carbohydrates it’s important to get a dog food that has less carbs than it does protein and meat fats.

Animal fats are also good for your dog as they promote a healthy, shiny coat. Try to avoid generic fats, and buy dog foods that specifically name which animal fats they use. Also try to avoid foods that use beef tallow, vegetable oil, poultry fat, and mineral oils as they are not as good for your dog.

While these good ingredients can be found in many dog foods, some foods use ingredients that are unhealthy, or downright harmful for your pet. Here are the main bad ingredients to look out for:

Wheat is often used as filler, and manufacturers like to split it up in the ingredients list so that it looks like there is more quality food in their products.

Some dogs are also allergic to wheat, as well as brewer’s yeast, soy, and flax.
Dogs cannot digest corn, so while it does contain protine and is often used as filler in dog food for that reason, it should be avoided.

Also, chemical preservatives such as “ethoxyquin,” “BHA,” “BHT,” and “propylene glycol” can cause cancer, liver and kidney failure, and other health issues. They may make the food last longer, but as dogs are easier to poision than humans, they should be avoided at all cost. Choose foods that use natural preservative instead.

Along the same lines, but with less harmful side effects are foods with food coloring and flavor additives. That is a quick sign that there aren’t enough healthy meats and fats in the dog food.

Generic ingredients such as animal byproducts, which are no healthier for your dog than they are for you, or unspecific ingredients like ‘poultry meal’ should be avoided because you don’t really know what you’re feeding your pet.
Brewer’s rice is the leftover of the rice milling process and should be avoided, as it contains no nutrition whatsoever.

Onion is an ingredient that may seem harmless, but is actually toxic to dogs and can cause anemia. Unfortunately there are some dog foods which use onion or onion powder as flavoring.

Knowing your dog and knowing what to look for on the label will help you in the search for the perfect dog food. Even after you find it, you may desire to rotate your dog’s selection of healthy dog foods every few months to ensure that your pet gets a more balanced diet.

Author Chantee Hale (Chantee Hale) - Chanteé is an online content and SEO writer. Her literary fiction has been published in The First Line magazine. Chanteé is a prize winning author and has been featured on the Wright On Time Books website.

Sex and the Single Pet:
A Course in Common Sense
By Patty Khuly, Special for USA TODAY

Patty Khuly is a small-animal veterinarian in Miami, Fla. She is author of, an award-winning blog on pet health; she writes weekly for the Miami Herald and monthly for Veterinary Practice News. Her USA TODAY guest column appears each Friday. Khuly lives in South Miami with her son, Max, dogs Vincent and Slumdog, goats Poppy and Tulip, and a backyard flock of chickens.

Should pets have sex?

I should have saved this topic for Valentine's Day — or maybe not, considering it's not exactly a romantic one. As such, it's plenty appropriate for any time of the year if you consider that (1) pet overpopulation isn't going away anytime soon and (2) some people remain impossibly clueless on the subject of sex and the single pet (hence #1).

In case you don't completely understand the cluelessness I refer to, here's a question I received last week (and I paraphrase to protect the English language and your sensibilities, alike):

"I have a dog and he's in adulthood already but he's not yet had sex. Will that make him aggressive the older he gets?"

How does a self-respecting veterinarian respond to a question like that? In my case, I gave it a tongue-in-cheek spin in keeping with what I felt was its fundamental ridiculousness:

"Great question! Unneutered or unspayed (intact) dogs and cats will not become more aggressive if they are not sexually active. Indeed, lack of sexual activity is not considered a risk factor for aggression in any species — perhaps with the exception of humans and some non-human primates."

Depressingly agrammatical and typo-ridden as it was when delivered, the question succinctly revealed an all-too-pervasive point of view: Pets are like people. They like sex, too. And when they can't get it, they — like some of us — act out aggressively.

It's a surprisingly popular sentiment, this "my pet needs sex" thing. And it can be tough to argue against such a powerfully anthropomorphic argument when it comes to dogs and cats, but here's how I try:

Dogs and cats are not like people when it comes to sex. For example, females don't cycle the same way, and there's no evidence, behaviorally or otherwise, that sexual activity brings them any specific pleasure (male dog owners' rudimentary observations notwithstanding).

While unneutered canine and feline males have a strong sexual drive in the presence of females in heat, most will be largely unmoved by females when they're not hormonally receptive. They're normally not lookin' for love everywhere they go (though they might seek it out once they smell it).

Because female dogs don't come into heat but once every six months and since female cats are induced ovulators (meaning that once they've mated they're usually pregnant), it would seem that opportunities for sexual frustration would be relatively low in cats and dog.

Sure, I'll accept that some males might have a tendency to get testy if they can't approach an intact female in estrus, but neutered males typically couldn't care less. So then, according to the "pets-suffer-like-us" argument in favor of sexual activity for pets, it follows that all male dogs should be castrated — if for no better reason than because it serves their psychological health best.

Further, it's effectively posited that if you're to take the female dog and cat's point of view to anthropomorphic extremes, you'd be more than convinced that "tying" (nature's way of making sure the girl dog can't run away before the boy dog is done) and barbed penises (an accurate description of the feline appendage, I kid you not) do not recommend the sex act to any female of the canine or feline persuasion.

As a veterinarian it's sometimes frustrating to have to deal with people who want their pets to have sex. Personally, I find it a little discomfiting to deal with people who want their females' tubes tied or their males vasectomized just so they can purchase the pet version of "safe" sex for their animals.

It's not that I find either surgical procedure objectionable. In fact, I'll happily perform them given a good enough reason (and I've heard some), but sexual pleasure doesn't rank high among my criteria. I mean, I don't know about you, but pet owners who would take their personal hedonistic philosophies to surgical extremes on behalf of their pets kind of give me the creeps.

Personal peccadillos aside, the bigger problem here is that people who have a tendency to get all weird about their pets' sex lives are also the ones least likely to spay and neuter them. As in, "I won't neuter him or spay her until s/he's gotten it on at least once." What's that all about, anyway?

Should these geniuses ever condescend to sterilize their pets at all, it's not because veterinarians like me have convinced them with our sterling arguments. Nor does the concept of pet overpopulation and their personal contribution to animal suffering move them toward enlightenment. It's times like these I can't help thinking the truism holds: A lack of basic sex education breeds overpopulation. And not just for pets.

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How To Take Care
Of Pet Fish

Compared to other things, aquariums usually require very little care and daily attention. In fact, if you started maintenance on your aquarium by the time you begin reading this article, you will probably have been through before you even finish the article. So what is involved in aquarium care? We are going to look at four aspects of aquarium care that you will find very beneficial.

One has to do with the lighting. One thing you have to remember is that aquarium light does not need to be on at all times except when observing or feeding the fish or if the aquarium contains any live plants. The room light is generally considered sufficient and will keep the finish fairly active. In fact, leaving the light on for long periods can even cause algae growth explosions which of course you do not want. So how can you ensure consistent light and dark cycles are maintained, especially if you are a forgetful aquarium owner? You can install an inexpensive electrical timer that will turn the lights on and off and this will probably leave you with peace of mind knowing that your fish are getting the right doses of light.

Good aquarium care also means that you feed the fish two or three times per day and for only two or three minutes per feeding session. If you are a beginner, this may require some practice until you know the correct amounts of food to give. Do not overfeed the fish. The side effects are obvious; the water quality deteriorates, there is increased algae growth, the water gets cloudy and this often results in fish being prone to infections and diseases. This is as a result of uneaten food that accumulates in the aquarium.

Good aquarium care also means taking the time to simply observe the fish behavior especially during mealtimes. Look to see if every fish has got something to eat. Look out for fish that are picky about their food. Of course, each type of fish acts differently and it may take some time to determine 'normal' behavior for each fish type. If you take time each day to make this observation, your experience will grow.

Also do not forget to check the aquarium equipment and ensure that everything is working as it is supposed to. Consider the various pumps, heaters and filters as the life support system of the fish. This should be done daily. Excellent aquarium care takes some time and experience and is also a source of joy when you realize that your fish are safe and happy in their aquarium habitat.

Tips and Guidelines
For Bird Pet Owners

Bird cages should be equipped with proper food bowls, perches and bird toys, cleaned regularly, and birds are to be provided with proper food and care. Birds generally will do a good job of taking care of themselves if provided with some basic needs. However if one is to truly keep his pet in top shape he needs to follow some routine procedures and live to his responsibilities.

First of all one should provide his bird with proper food. There are basically two types of bird categories: seed eaters or hard-bills, like finches and canaries, and hookbills like parakeets and cockatiels. Seed eaters eat seeds of different grasses and plants when in their native environments. Providing these birds with commercial seed mixes and leafy greens such as chicory or dandelions, and slice of apple or orange will nourish them very well. On the other hand, hookbills consume leaves, fruit and berries so preferably they should be supplied with large seeds like safflower and sunflower together with an assortment of fruit and vegetables. They can consume these items very efficiently thanks to their strong, bigger beaks.

Bird cages should have a minimum of one food bowl, one water bowl for drinking and another for bating. These should be cleaned daily as when they eat, birds leave seeds and seed hulls in the feed dish and drinking bowl. Water and food must be replenished daily as what could appear as a full cup of seed might be all hulls. One should make sure bowls are made of a durable material and they allow thorough cleaning and disinfections. Bird cages should also have perches of an appropriate size and placed as such as to encourage the bird to move from one to the other by flying or hopping. In case of larger birds, like parrots, one should avoid placing more than two perches in their parrot cages as they could limit the space available for movement. Food and drinking bowls should not be placed beneath perches, as bird droppings would foul their contents.

Although finches and canaries usually do not use bird toys, parrots enjoy objects that they can manipulate or climb on, or chew up or hide in. Therefore bird toys are critical for parakeets, lovebirds, and cockatiels and should be placed in all parrot cages. There is a wide variety of wooden and plastic bird toys available. Some birds also enjoy their reflection from small mirrors.

Birds tend to keep themselves quite clean, but may need a bit of help. All birds enjoy and require a bath. Most birds self-bathe pretty vigorously in a shallow water bowl within their Bird cages. The bathing bowl should be kept separate from the bird’s drinking water. Another form of hygiene that birds maintain is preening. Self-preening is form of caring and grooming its feathers. Preening will ensure that their feathers are neat and nice. It is very important to trim a bird’s nails periodically when they start to curl or curve around, as they could have problems sitting on their perch. If properly taken care of, birds live for quite a long time and all members of the family can enjoy their presence.

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