Pet Advice: Should Your Pet See the Dentist?

State Unveils Cat-Theme License Plate
By DONNA WILLIAMS LEWIS - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Former shelter cat served as model

Georgia’s newest specialty license plate, unveiled Thursday, is aimed at cat lovers

The “Feline Friend” plate features a painting of a cat named Hope, a fetching black-and-white with big yellow eyes who was adopted from a shelter. A portion of revenue from the $25 tag fee goes to the Dog and Cat Sterilization Program, which subsidizes spay/neuter procedures by Georgia vets.

“I fell in love with her face and said, ‘I’ve got to have this kitty,’” she said.

The new plate joins the state’s list of plates that, for a fee, enable motorists to support various causes or show their support of colleges and other institutions.

The cat tag is to be available March 1 at tag offices. More than $22 of the fee will go to Georgia’s dog and cat sterilization program.

The state already has spay/neuter plates featuring a dog named Buddy and a drawing of a dog and cat.

Since 2003, nearly $2.9 million has been raised through the sale of the animal tags and through a state income tax check-off program, the Agriculture Department said.

The image on the new cat tag is by Duluth artist Randalyn “Randy” Bieniek, who painted four cats at the Suwanee shelter and submitted them in a contest. Hope was one of six finalists.

Following 18 days of voting and more than 12,000 votes, Hope’s painting “was the overwhelming choice,” state Agriculture Department officials said in September, when the winner was announced.

Going to the Dogs Hasn't Hurt Emmy-Winning Writer

The woman who gave the world "Stupid Pet Tricks" can't resist a cold nose, soft fur and puppy-dog eyes

"I live in a herd," writer Merrill Markoe said. "I have four dogs, and, no matter where I am, they're all sitting around me, staring at me like I'm really interesting."

Markoe, who also writes funny stories about man's best friend, will read on Friday from her latest novel, Nose Down, Eyes Up, as part of the "Evenings With Authors" series, sponsored by the Thurber House.

Nose Down, Eyes Up is the story of Gil -- a broke, boozing, unlucky-with-love handyman who understands what his four dogs are saying.

One wants him to play catch at all times; one is confused about where to go to the bathroom; one is a worrywart. And the fourth dog lectures the neighborhood pack on how to manipulate owners -- hence the book's title.

"My rules for writing about dogs are very different from a lot of people's," Markoe, 60, said from her Los Angeles home.

"There are a lot of talking dogs in . . . (fiction), but a lot of them are ordering martinis and reading the financial pages. My dogs are locked into being dogs."

Markoe draws inspiration from her experiences as a pet owner.

"They're so dominant in my house that I just think about what they're thinking all the time because it's clear that we live on different planets, even though we're sharing the same space."

Markoe has been called "the funniest woman in America" by People magazine. She has done some stand-up comedy but might be best-known as the head writer of the NBC program Late Night W ith David Letterman, for which she won five Emmy Awards and created the "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment.

The idea arose during a brainstorming session with Letterman, she said, when she recalled that she and her friends would put socks on a dog and figured that everyone had silly animal stuff to share.

As for her pets, "I'm willing to credit them with tricks that they aren't even doing."

For example: "I have a golden retriever (who) drops balls in the pool and jumps in after them. She's fetching for herself."

Markoe, who usually writes in the first person, had difficulty using a male narrative voice in Nose Down, Eyes Up.

"It was harder for me to write from a male perspective than it was from a dog perspective. In fact, I did a lot of checking with members of the male gender because I was so insecure about it.

"I really checked with the guy I live with a lot. I kept making him read passages, and I'd say, 'Help me de-girl-ify this.' "

Susanne Jaffe, executive director of the Thurber House, thinks Markoe writes well about both sexes, regardless of species.

"For me, Merrill Markoe epitomizes the Tao of Thurber: humor, dogs and the relationships between men and women," Jaffee said. "What could be more Thurber than that?"

Pet Ownership Rising in Hawaii Despite the Faltering Economy
The Star-Bulletin

Question: We've read news that shelters are overflowing with animals because people can't afford to care of them. Is that true?

Answer: National news stories about the increase in pet surrenders to animal shelters due to the economic crisis have been alarming. The good news is that this story does not apply to Oahu. Hawaiian Humane Society data shows no difference in animal arrivals compared with the same period last year. In fact, statistics show that pet ownership is on the rise. On Oahu, nearly 60 percent of the population has a pet.

Q: The stories I've been reading also say that shelters are putting more animals down because of the economy. Is that happening here?

A: Oahu's euthanasia rate of healthy, adoptable animals is less than 2 percent - far below the national average. And the Humane Society is working toward a lower rate every year. Choosing adoption, spaying pets and making a lifelong commitment to your animals are perhaps the most powerful choices you can make to reduce the population in shelters.

Saving lives, finding new families for the homeless and helping owners keep their pets for life is a huge undertaking for the few animal-welfare organizations that exist on Oahu. It requires a tremendous amount of community support no matter what economic challenges islanders face.

We are always in need of more support from the community, from volunteers, adopters, educators and advocates. Landlords, property managers and others in positions of influence can choose to support families with pets.

Those who would like to volunteer can call 356-2217.

The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.

A musher braves a heavy wind while riding his dog sled during the Sedivackuv Long dog sled race in Destne v Orlickych Horach, January 23, 2009. Each year racers from all over Europe arrive to the village of Destne in Orlicke mountains in Czech Republic to take part in this race series. REUTERS/Petr Josek (CZECH REPUBLIC)

Michigan Cat with Snipped Ears Finds Temporary Home
Detroit Free Press

KALAMAZOO -- A scrawny, silvery cat discovered roaming in freezing weather with his ears intentionally snipped off has found a temporary home in a downtown Kalamazoo boutique

Lana Hawkins says she calls the gentle feline Earless Ernie.

The cat apparently had been abandoned near the Kalamazoo-Van Buren county line when someone turned him in Jan. 6.

The cuts where Ernie’s ears were removed are healing but the shoulder blades on his thin frame still stick out awkwardly.

Hawkins tells the Kalamazoo Gazette for a story published today that she decided to keep the cat at her store, Lana’s Couture, until someone offers to give him a permanent home.

She says Ernie enjoys sleeping by the cash register in his favorite chair.

Gem County 12-Year-Old Says He Shot Cat With an Arrow was Accident
Katy Moeller - Idaho Statesman

A 12-year-old boy who shot an arrow into the head of a cat in an unincorporated area near the Canyon County/Gem County line has come forward

He said he didn't mean to hurt the cat when he was shooting arrows in its direction to shoo it away from some birds, according to the Gem County Sheriff's Office.

A concerned resident captured the wounded cat on Redmon Road on Tuesday night. An arrow was sticking through the cat's eye and out the back of its head. Veterinarians at WestVet Emergency & Specialty Center in Garden City successfully removed the arrow from the cat's head Wednesday afternoon.

The boy who shot cat told the neighbor who rescued the cat that the shooting was an accident. He said he was trying to scare the cat away from quail and didn't realize he'd hit it.

"The boy was described as extremely upset and crying that he had hurt the cat, and that he was trying to protect the quail," a press release from the Gem County Sheriff's Office says.

The cat was described as a stray that a resident in the area fed on occasion. That person said he did not wish to press any charges against the boy because he believes it to have been an accident.

A report has been filed on the case, and it will be forwarded to the Gem County Prosecutor's Office, according to the Gem County Sheriff.

Understanding Pet Food Labels
by Teri Webster, Pet Examiner

Understanding the ingredients on pet product labels is more important than ever.

The current peanut butter salmonella scare that began with people food has extended into dog biscuits

In 2007, melamine-tainted pet food sickened scores of pets and was blamed in some deaths.

These events raise many questions about the safety of pet food.

It’s virtually impossible to anticipate when a batch of tainted pet food may arise, but knowing what is in your pet’s food can help alert you to a potential problem early on.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says reading and understanding labels can help ensure your pet’s food is nutritious and safe.

But it’s what’s not on the label that concerns some pet owners.

For example, do you know the difference between meat and meat meal?

Some reports indicate that road kill, dead zoo animals, and euthanized cats and dogs are included in meat meal found in pet food.

Traces of pentobarbital, a drug used in euthanasia, has been found in dog food.

The Food and Drug Administration concluded that adverse affects against dogs was unlikely.

Generally speaking, dog food made with "premium" ingredients is a better value and provides better nutrition for your dog. These dog foods are highly digestible, have no need for additional supplements, requires smaller portions, and have been scientifically researched, according to guidelines from Petco.

Lower quality dog foods are less digestible and are not as nutritionally complete. You may even have to feed your dog more because of a lack of nutrients. They also can contain low-quality protein and fats, and more sugars and artificial colors.

Federal pet food regulations cover areas such as net quantity statement, manufacturer’s address and the listing of ingredients.Within these parameters, here are some tips from the FDA to help understand what’s on a pet product label.

Product name
A product’s name is the first thing the customer notices. But it’s more important to know what’s inside than it is to buy a product because of brand recognition or a flashy name.

Names that feature ingredients, such Tuna Cat Food, must contain at least 95 percent of that ingredient, not counting water. It must be at least 70 percent including water.

Ingredients must be listed in predominance by weight.

Ingredient list
All ingredients are required to be listed in order of predominance by weight, including water content.

The ingredient list is also the place to look to see if your pet food contains meat -- which is just that -- or meat meal.

The rest of ingredients are typically minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. There may also be artificial colors, preservatives or stabilizers.

There is some controversy surrounding some other ingredients, including ethoxyquin, a food additive.

The FDA says it received reports from dog owners who believed ethoxyquin in dog food is connected with allergic reactions, skin problems, major organ failure, behavior problems, and cancer.

However, any connection could not be proven, the FDA says.

Nutritional Adequacy Statement
According to the FDA, a nutritional adequacy statement is one of the most important aspects of a dog or cat food label.

A statement that a pet food is complete and balanced must be supported by either the ingredients, or being part of a line of pet products found to have proper nutrition.

There are no established guidelines for indicating a food is appropriate for a specific breed or stage in life.

Net quantity statement
Simply put, the net quantity indicates how much product is in the bag or container.

Consumers should make cost-per-ounce or per-pound comparisons before determining which product is a better buy.

Manufacturer's name and address
The manufactured by statement identifies was business is responsible for the quality and safety of the product and its location, according to the FDA.

The words "manufactured for" or "distributed by" means the food was made by an outside company.

Guaranteed analysis
The guaranteed minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, and maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture.Canned products have more moisture and generally are lower in crude protein and most other nutrients.

Feeding directions
Feeding directions give advice on how much product should be offered to a pet.

This is an advisory statement, as breed and activity level can also influence food intake.

It’s best to follow the suggestions on the label and adjust, if needed, according to the FDA.Other label claims
There are no official requirements for pet foods labeled as premium, gourmet, or natural.

Calling a product “natural” implies a lack of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.For the most part, "natural" can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product.

Organic implies the way plants were grown or animals were raised.

Again, there are no officials rules for labeling foods “organic.” Pet food ingredients section source: FDA, David A. Dzanis, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

A tame golden eagle claws a fox during a traditional hunting contest near the town of Karkaralinsk in central Kazakhstan January 23, 2009. Kazakhstan's national sport of Sayat - or hunting with golden eagles - is popular in the Central Asian state. Berkutchi, or golden eagle hunters, from all over the country arrived for the annual competition. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (KAZAKHSTAN)

Ask the Inquisitive Canine: Here’s a Pet Project to Get Your Tail Wagging
By Joan Mayer -

Noozhawk's newest columnist will connect you with your dog's life

Dear Canine Enthusiast,

I started blogging last year because I tend to get so many questions from clients and friends about how to instill good manners in their dogs. So it only seemed natural for me to start a weekly doggie advice column to share my dog training expertise and philosophy with you, the inquisitive pet owner.

In 2005, I founded The Inquisitive Canine to empower dog owners with a rewarding education that helps them further develop and enhance their everyday relationships with their dogs.

So, yes, I am a canine behavior coach and a certified pet dog trainer. But more important, I’m also a dog owner — so I understand the challenges humans and dogs each face in everyday life. Therefore, I try to infuse my canine coaching with realistic expectations.

In addition to teaching dog owners positive ways to reinforce real-world manners in their dogs (like sit, stay, coming when called, greeting people politely, walking nicely on leash), I also help them learn to address specific behavioral issues such as resource guarding, digging, chewing, separation anxiety, and eliminating (house training).

I envision this column to be a fun place where inquisitive dog owners (and their dogs!) can seek practical guidance and solutions for making any situation work. These days we all tend to lead remarkably full and busy lives, but I strongly believe that no matter how much or little time you have, you can take steps toward better understanding your dog and positively reinforcing the behaviors you want, while limiting and preventing inappropriate habits.

And while I encourage you to take advantage of the training tips, tools and advice you read here, it’s important to keep in mind that this column is not intended to be a substitute for meeting with a dog trainer in person. However, it is a great resource for supplementing any training you have undergone or any education you plan to embark on with your dog. I encourage you (or your dog!) to e-mail questions about behavior, training or life in general to My trusty canine sidekick, Poncho, and I hope to respond to as many e-mails as possible.

In the meantime, click here for more coaching tips at my dog-training blog.

Woofs and wags,

Joan & Poncho

Ask The Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified pet dog trainer and dog behavior counselor. Her column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail

Tootz the Cat Has Stopped Using Her Litter Box
Smudge & Bryson - StatesmanJournal

Dear Smudge and Bryson: My name is Hank, and I'm a very obedient English bulldog who lives with an old female cat.

Mostly, she's indifferent to me. But sometimes, when I walk near her, she gets her fur in a bunch, which is understandable because I could sit on her and squish her. But I know better, especially when mom gives me the evil eye if I start to drool on her.

But I'm not the problem. Tootz (the grouchy old Siamese) has taken to peeing lately in all the wrong places and mom's taking her impatience out on all of us four-leggers.

Tootz has been peeing in the laundry basket and on the carpet in the guest bedroom and her sewing room, and in the corners and on the pillows of the daylight basement sofa.

She was taken our vet and checked for a urinary infection, which she didn't have, so we're at a loss for what's up with the peeing pranks.

Any thoughts on how to stop her before we both have to sleep outside? Hank

From Smudge the pug: I can so relate. I have an older sister cat who swats me for no apparent reason if she walks by while I'm snoozing on the rug.

But I don't know beans about the pee problem, so I've asked Dr. Stephanie Hazen of The Pet Clinic to offer some advice.

From Dr. Hazen: Dear Hank, it can be very hard to cure an older cat of inappropriate elimination (peeing and pooping where they're not supposed to).

Cats don't scheme, much as some people would like to believe, but we can't think like a cat so it's hard to know why they choose to do some of the things they do.

If a cat is scruffing up a laundry basket or some bedding, they're not mad, they're comfortable!

As long as they're not spraying walls with urine, they're not upset, they've simply found something much better on which to pee.

Perhaps the cat got spooked by noise when it was using its litter box, or it was always soiled (which is why it should be cleaned frequently), or maybe the litter box was located near its food and water dish (another no-no for cats), or it had no privacy, so it looked for somewhere else to "go."

There are other reasons why cats who were formerly trained to use a litter box seek something else to scruff up.

Is the cat so old that it's incontinent? Or could there be bits of bowel debris stuck to the underside of its anus? Maybe it needs a good bath.

A thorough lab exam also is needed to rule out a medical cause for the problem.

Once a medical abnormality is ruled out, the typical solution to inappropriate soiling is to get a large cage, kennel the cat and retrain it. Most cats can be retrained, but it takes dedication and commitment.

I recommend detailed urine testing from the beginning. Some routine urinalysis only involves dipping a stick in the urine, which can limit the results.

I encourage having the urine centrifuged and looked at under a microscope.

It should be dried, stained and observed for crystals or bacteria also. These extra tests cost more, but they can help uncover hidden problems.

If those tests fail to yield any results, I'd suggest having the cat's kidneys and bladder X-rayed for size and shape, and possible kidney stones.

X-rays can also find injuries such as a ruptured disk, arthritis and items that shouldn't be there such as BB-gun pellets.

I once found, using X-rays, stainless steel stitches that another vet had left in following an earlier surgery.

Ultrasound could be used as a last resort to look for cancer and tumors.

In most instances, cats respond well to drug treatments.

I hope this helps, and that Tootz finds her way back to her box. Dr. Hazen.

More from Smudge: I hate football.

I loathe $3 million television commercials.

And Bryson and I always looking for something to chew on Super Bowl Sunday other than a dry bone, so we're suggesting the Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl V on Sunday, Feb. 1.

Running opposite the football game, the fifth installment of the Puppy Bowl will be broadcast in high definition television by beloved NFL announcer Harry Kalas.

The action starts at noon Pacific time, and will feature a dozen puppies, mostly around 12 weeks of age, scampering around a scaled-down gridiron at Animal Planet Stadium.

They run, they jump, they chase tennis balls, chew and tug on toys and look cute in the process. There's always an "accident" or two as well.

Fans will be encouraged to vote for their favorite pup online, and this year, every dog was recruited from a local animal shelter, so all of the puppies are free agents looking for good homes.

Pepper the Parrot will sing the national anthem, and the cats are back for the Kitty Half-Time Show.

So get out the potato chips and settle in for some real pig-skin chewing.

Animal Planet is available locally on cable and satellite television.

From Bryson: Hey folks — I just wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow — Jan. 24 — is Change Pet's Life Day.

The first 10 adoptions at participating animal shelters are free.

In our area, the Willamette Humane Society and Linn County Dog Control are in on the deal.

If you get a new family member, e-mail us at, or tell us about it (and PLEASE send a photo) on our blog at

I know the address is long, but there are two of us for crying out loud.

Stay strong.

Smudge and Bryson provide tips and solutions for confused pets. Area experts will help them answer your questions on Fridays in the Life section. Write to them at

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

Pet Pause: Brodie Needed a Dental Check-Up
By Robin Shroyer - The Adobe Press

My niece, Chelsea, moved 3,000 miles from home to go to college. She became homesick and adopted a little male Chihuahua from the humane society. She named him Brodie. Brodie was about 8 years old and the humane society had decided not to neuter him because he had such a noticeable heart murmur.

As often happens, custody of Brodie was transferred to Chelsea’s parents when her college plans changed. Eight months ago, he began to cry out loud for no apparent reason. He stopped eating and didn’t want to go for walks any more. My sister lives in Portland, Ore., and I advised her to go see her veterinarian.

The results of Brodie’s two visits to the veterinarian left Brodie feeling about the same, and with a quote for $4,000 worth of surgery on his knees. My sister decided to bring Brodie to Nipomo for a second opinion.

Brodie is not an easy dog to examine. He really wanted to bite all of us. He did have a really loud murmur and he also had luxating patellas (moveable kneecaps). His biggest problem appeared to be his dental disease! His mouth smelled horrible. Nauseating.

We took chest X-rays and saw that he had an enlarged heart. We did blood work and it was normal. We had the radiologist do a cardiac ultrasound, which showed he had a valve in his heart that was leaking. Brodie was placed on two heart medications for three days and was then anesthetized for a dental cleaning and a neuter.

The procedure was scary for all of us but went amazingly well. Brodie did very well under anesthesia and post operatively. He lost a few teeth and the remaining teeth looked (and smelled) great after the dental. The only thing that went wrong was that Brodie felt so good after surgery he really wanted to bite!

Since Brodie’s dental, he is walking again, has not cried out once and has become a fat and happy boy. I imagine he will still try to bite me when I visit Portland and I doubt that he will ever have surgery on his knees. My sister is glad she sought a second opinion.

The side effects of dental disease can be underestimated, and the fear of sedating an older pet for a dental cleaning can keep us from improving our pet’s health and life. The pre-anesthetic work-up, surgery and dental for Brodie was expensive, but much, much less than the knee surgery. The majority of dental procedures would not require as much pre-anesthetic testing.

February is Dental Month and many veterinary hospitals will be offering discounts on dental procedures. If you think your pet needs dental attention now is the time to seek the advice of your veterinarian.

Veterinarian Robin Shroyer is the co-owner of Nipomo Dog & Cat Hospital, 525 Sandydale Drive. Contact the hospital at 929-2855 or visit the Web site at

Do Animal Rescue Groups Make It Too Hard to Adopt Pets?
By Shaunti Feldhahn - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Shaunti Feldhahn, a right-leaning columnist, writes the commentary this week and Andrea Cornell Sarvady, a left-leaning columnist, responds.

I have recently realized that animal rescue groups are caring, well-meaning — and making it way too hard to save homeless animals.

You see, like the new First Family, our family has been researching pets — and with so many homeless animals euthanized (72 percent of cats, according to the National Council on Pet Population), we decided to adopt two “rescue kittens.” But after dozens of frustrating phone calls to rescue groups and shelters, no one would adopt to us. Why? We are going to allow our cats outside once they’re older. These groups all refuse you if you don’t agree in writing to keep cats indoors and follow pages of other stipulations (dog provisions are equally extensive).

We live on a quiet cul-de-sac and I want my children to be able to play outside with our cats, as I did. Yet modern rescue groups have become so opposed to that that they will, by default, allow cats to be euthanized instead. Most rescue groups run “no-kill” shelters — but they’re usually full. Every animal they won’t adopt to a caring family means another being killed somewhere. Even a local county government shelter that actually euthanizes cats wouldn’t adopt once we said we’d allow them outside!

I firmly support spaying, neutering, and requiring assurance that the pet will be cared for. But beyond that, this culture of micromanagement isn’t just offensive — it discourages only the responsible owners. Others will just lie and sign the form.

More critically, the “no-outdoor” policy is based on wrong information. Every shelter quoted the same statistic: cats allowed outside live less than three years. “Bunk,” my veterinarian said. After days of research I could find no source for that statistic, and believe that if it exists, it must apply to feral (wild) cats. By contrast, the oldest and largest pet insurer, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), says the top 10 reasons for treatment are almost the same whether the cat is indoor or outdoor. As spokesman Brian Iannessa put it, “We just don’t differentiate.”

We finally found a county shelter that willingly gave us two kittens. I urge all other rescue groups to stop relying on urban-legend data and recognize that good homes come in many different forms.

By Andrea Cornell Sarvady

“Marley and Me”? Just change the title to “Milo and Me” and you have a glimpse of our life since we adopted an adorable black lab/mix puppy in front of a pet store last fall. He loves to eat straps — leashes, purses and favorite shoes have gone to meet their maker. And the vet bills! We’ve dealt with fleas, mange, kennel cough, even an overnight stay after he found an old bar of rat poison left in the fireplace grate.

But, so what? We adore this dog, and thanks to the thorough vetting done by the animal rescue group that let us adopt Milo, we knew exactly what we were getting into. Sure, at first the amount of questions the intake woman asked seemed extreme. “We’re not adopting a baby”, I remember thinking.

Yet the more she asked, the more I realized the depth of this new commitment. By the time we left the pet store, (where we were personally escorted around, to make sure we had everything we needed) I saw this puppy not as an adorable new friend, but as a growing dog that would be with our family for many years to come, in good times and bad.

Unfortunately, too many new owners don’t fully comprehend this responsibility. An estimated 8 to10 million animals are sent to shelters each year, and many are older dogs and cats. What rescue groups are trying to do is stop the cycle of adoption and abandonment, a cycle that has increased in this economy due to rampant foreclosures and evictions, according to a 2008 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, as foreclosures rise, more pets are abandoned.

Rescue groups can afford to have stricter standards than larger organizations, like our local humane society. Though the one in our town strongly advises against letting cats go outside — disease, dogs and traffic pose too great a peril — they don’t bar prospective adoptions for that reason.

I’m a huge fan of animal rescue groups; they help new owners truly understand the pet/human relationship. As for “Milo and Me,” things are going well. We’ve been training him and he’s been training us, and though life continues to be a roller coaster of chaos and cuddles, I can’t imagine it any other way.

After all, he’s our baby.

Pet Health Policies: Are They Worth It?
by Sheila Dichoso - Medill Reports

Interested in insuring your pet? Here are some tips from Mary Haight, board vice president at Lake Shore animal shelter:

Do your research. Find out important information such as if policies set age limits or exclude pre-existing conditions.

Always read the fine print. “There’s a lot of legalese [in an insurance plan], so a lot of times people can’t understand what it says,” Haight said. “[It’s] very much ‘let the buyer beware.’”

Think it through. Especially if you have “a perfectly healthy young dog,” she said. “It’s just a matter of what your position is in life and whether it’s a viable thing."
With medical costs surging, it’s not only man’s health that’s suffering – but man’s best friend too.

According to the American Pet Products Association, the number of U.S. pet owners buying health insurance for pets has doubled since 2002, and experts say it’s due to financially tough times.

“In times when the economy is so threatening, people don’t want to be burdened with surprise medical bills,” said Elysia Howard, vice president of marketing and licensing for the New York-based American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Animal hospitals such as Blum Animal Hospital in Lakeview are “definitely” noticing a rise in pet health policies, said Tania Hayes, the hospital administrator who processes health forms. “I’ve seen, probably in the past two years, that it has doubled,” the 39-year-old said.

Mary Haight, board vice president of Lake Shore Animal Shelter in the West Loop, agreed.

“Vets are getting so expensive now that it can be prohibitive to many,” Haight said. “All of a sudden $5,000 might not be affordable if you just lost your job or if your mortgage is high. People think, well, I’d rather pay 20, 30 bucks a month that will cover something that just came up.”

Already popular in Europe, pet health insurance is a fairly new concept in the United States. Although the number seems small – of an estimated 163 million U.S. pets (dogs and cats), 2 million are insured – the association projects a 5 percent to 7 percent increase by 2010.

The insurance policies generally reimburse a portion of medical care costs for pets, usually covering injuries, accidents and illnesses. “It’s pretty much like human health insurance,” Haight said. “There are different plans, depending on how much you want to pay and co-pay.”

The anti-cruelty society began providing health insurance two years ago. Howard says it is the fastest growing pet health insurance company with more than 75,000 subscribers.

The society offers five plans that range in price from $7.50 to $77 a month. The most popular –
and cheapest – covers unexpected emergencies, such as a pet being hit by a car. Other plans cover vaccinations, medications, wellness and surgeries depending on how much a pet owner wants to spend.

Since ASPCA is committed to animal welfare, Howard says it covers spaying and neutering, but what it doesn't cover are procedures the society considers “unethical” such as tail docking, ear cropping and declawing.

But pet health insurance still has its skeptics.

Companies may have restrictions on coverage such as excluding hip dysplasia, a joint disease common among dog breeds including german shepherds and golden retrievers.

Potential buyers should research the limitations of other pet health insurance providers.

Fred Dudek, 35, insured Stella when she was three months old. But when the collie and german shepherd mix tore both her anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL), the Lakeview resident learned the insurance would not cover the surgery. Soon after, Dudek canceled her policy after a year of coverage. The ACL crosses inside the knee to help stabilize it. It tears when it endures too much pressure, making it the most common injury suffered by human athletes--and it's a common injury in dogs as well.

“It was more like we were wasting money,” Dudek said.

But some still find pet insurance helpful.

“If your dog is seven or eight years old, your dog is getting older and cancer becomes a big thing, ask yourself, ‘do I want to have to make a choice to put my animal down, my family member, because I don’t have the money?’” Haight, the owner of a rescued shih tzu, said.

“People seem to think that it’s valuable and worthwhile,” Howard added. “It’s a great way to give yourself peace of mind."

Woman Charged After Dog Found Dead In Driveway
Jill Del Greco -

RIVERSIDE, Ohio -- Officials with the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center said a woman is now facing charges after she allegedly left her dog outside to freeze to death.

Mark Kumpf, director of the resource center, said Alberta Shade, of Riverside, is now charged with one count of animal cruelty and neglect.

According to incident reports, the beagle died Friday, Jan. 16 , when overnight temperatures reached 14 degrees below zero.

"The dog ended up freezing to death in the temperatures," Kumpf said.

Incident reports say Shade told animal officers that she did not realize it was that cold outside.

"Basically there was no really good reason to why this happened," Kumpf said. "The owner apparently didn't think everything all the way through and thought the animal would be OK outside."

A person answering the door at Shade's home on Bushnell Avenue declined to comment.

Kumpf said Shade faces up to 180 days in jail and fines.

The following are tips from the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center for winterizing your pet.

*Cats and dogs need protection from the wet and cold, whether they get it inside your house or inside their own. Cats are best kept inside when it gets cold, as are most small and short-haired dogs. An outdoor dog needs a dry, elevated dog house with clean, dry bedding and a flap over the opening to deep drafts out. Or consider adding a dog door to the garage with a soft cushion in the warmest corner.

*A bowl of frozen water can't help a thirsty pet. Check outdoor water bowls often when it's below freezing, and break the ice or refill with water as necessary.

*Outdoor dogs need more calories in the winter to produce body heat, so increase the amount you feed your pet. On the other hand, indoor dogs and cats may get less exercise in the cold months, and will need fewer calories to avoid weight gain.

*Chemicals used to melt snow on sidewalks can irritate a pet's paws, so you may need to wipe them with a wet cloth after an outing. Dogs outside in the snow may need the ice between their paw pads removed.

*Antifreeze tastes good to pets, but it is a deadly poison. The most likely source of the poison is radiator drainage spots in your garage, which should be flushed with water immediately.

*A cat may crawl up under your car seeking shelter and warmth near the engine. It may get caught in the fan and seriously injured when the engine starts.

Tropical Fish Disease - What You Can Do
By Rob Bleckorski

Do you often sit and gaze in wonder at the little swimmers that traverse the aquarium in your office or living room? It is a well-established fact that enjoying tropical fish can lower your blood pressure, decrease your pulse, and help you relax and lower your feelings of stress or anxiety. For the most part, fish are pretty easy to care for as well; you don't need to walk them or take them to a kennel when you plan to be out of town for a weekend.

There is one menace that you should be aware of, however; that is tropical fish disease. Tropical fish diseases can affect or kill the fish in your tank so you need to be aware of how to avoid the plight of ich, velvet, fin rot, parasites, and a whole host of other ailments that can destroy your whole aquarium. Remember that your fish tank is a closed environment, unlike the sea or fresh water rivers where fish can swim to safety and avoid diseased cohabitants. Because your fish are in such close proximity, it can be difficult or impossible to contain the spread of sickness if you do not have a separate tank for any fish that might get a tropical fish disease.

The most important thing you can do to ensure the good health of your colorful friends is to avoid bringing any sick fish into the tank and to take good care of your aquarium so that sicknesses are prevented. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So, whether you already experience the joy of housing your very own tropical fish or whether you are considering adding these delightful creatures to your living space, it pays to learn all you can about how to properly care for both your tank and your fish so that you can reap he rewards of these blessings from nature for years to come.

Take care of your aquarium now! Tropical Fish Disease is the site to visit.

Article Source:

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores

No comments: