Pet Advice and Pet News

Toxic Pet Toys?

Use caution.

That's the advice of two area veterinarians regarding toys for pets, an area that is still under the pet safety radar.

A New Port Richey veterinarian, Dr. James Steffes, is raising concerns about toxic chemicals in pet toys. At the same time, a board-certified avian veterinarian, Dr. Joel Murphy of Palm Harbor, is warning about objects meant for other uses that people give to their birds as toys.

But two major pet toy sellers say they impose safety standards on the companies that make the toys they market.
Steffes became concerned about toxicity in pet toys after Tashie, his 6-year-old Doberman pinscher, developed ulcers in her mouth that eventually produces an inch-and-half lump that Steffes had to remove.

Two different biopsies failed to reveal the cause of the infection. Prior to resorting to surgical removal Steffes treated the lump with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents but failed to get results.

To pinpoint the cause, Steffes began to observe the things Tashie chewed. He quickly settled on her favorite rope toys, all of which came from China.

In researching pet toys, Steffes found there are no federal standards for toxic substances in pet toys. He discovered tests on pet toys made in China selected at random turned up the toxic metallic elements lead, chromium and cadmium.

"All these agents are potential carcinogens," Steffes wrote in a summary of his research., an independent Web-based consumer news center, tested four Chinese-made pet toys. One toy contained what the laboratory's toxicologist called high levels of lead and cancer-causing chromium. Another, a catnip mouse, had levels of cadmium.

Consumer Affairs contacted experts who disagreed on the risk to animals. The laboratory toxicologist felt the levels were dangerous.

One veterinarian said the levels were too low to be of concern. Another veterinarian noted that even though he considered the levels low, lead accumulates in the body. Even small amounts being ingested would add to the body's store of the toxic heavy metal.
Steffes took no chances. He took away Tashie's colored rope toys and started giving her toys without dyes. The infection cleared up. Chromium is often used in dyes, he notes.

Scientists do not consider most forms of chromium a health hazardous. Research suggest, however, that one of the element's oxidation states, called chromium (VI) or hexavalent chromium, can cause cancer or pose other hazards if eaten or inhaled.

In addition, compounds known as chromium salts, or chromates, have been implicated in triggering allergic reactions. Even though there are no national standards for pet toys, Jennifer Erickson, a spokeswoman for the PetSmart chain, said the pet supply retailer makes an effort to ensure the safety of all the products its sells.

PetSmart conducts both random in-house and third-party tests for a large range of toxic substances on its toys, according to Erickson. In addition, it requires its vendors to meet the same standards established for human safety. It is against company policy, however, to divulge information about the frequency and extent of the tests, she said. As for Wal-Mart, Caren S. Epstein, its director of corporate communications, in an e-mail message responding to a request for comment, wrote: "Wal-Mart works with an independent laboratory that conducts some lead and toxicology tests as part of its overall product safety testing. A more extensive program is scheduled for 2010."

Epstein declined to give further specifics. Toys are not the only danger for pets, observes Murphy, the Palm Harbor-area veterinarian. "Lead and zinc poison are the most common toxicities we see in birds," he notes.

But Murphy has found dangers for birds lurk more in household objects such as chains, jewelry, and fishing weights birds put in their mouths. Birds love the taste of lead, he observes. Both veterinarians advise pet guardians to read labels closely and to use care when buying toys made abroad.

The Growing Pet Service Industry
by Jadon Sluck

There are many of us who consider our pets as part of the family, and this is evidenced by a recent statistic that states 65% of all U.S. homes own at least one pet. Along with this increase in pet ownership comes the need for services tailored for our pet's comfort. And, because of this trend, pet services have grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry that encompasses a wide range of services from pet supplies to recovery services aimed at returning our lost pets.
The largest industry leader is still pet supply, and companies like PetCo and PetSmart are the leading forces, providing everything from pet foods to grooming. Companies like these have evolved because their services are based on the growth of the pet population, and our need to make our pets feel like a family member. This focus has driven the industry from a single section in discount and grocery stores into a wide range of businesses that are tailored at pampering our pets.

One of the services that have grown out of this industry are pet sitting services that will, as the title implies sit for your pet like a baby sitter sits for you children. These services can range from kennels with all the amenities that will pamper your pet while your on extended absences, to small home services that sit for your pets while your at work. The cost for the services can range from a few dollars per hour for basic sitting services to a few thousand dollars for the more posh kennel services that cater to your pets' every need.

Then there are the specialty service that have become popular by their use in movies and television commercials, and the most recognized of these is the pet walking services. Pet walking services became popular in movies of cosmopolitan life in the inner city, and this service has grown ever since. Another popular service, but not as glamorous is the poopey scooper service, that effectively keeps our streets clean. And, with the recent laws that have been enacted regarding this issue, this service is becoming ever popular.

And finally there are services that have become popular with the growth of the internet; one type of service that is growing is the pet recovery field. This service helps pet owners recover their pets by providing a place to list their pet in advance, so when the lost pet is found, the owners contact information can be retrieved. One company that also includes a free pet identification tag with registration is RecoveryPets.Com and their website is located at, and this enables the finder to quickly find the lost pets' owner by knowing exactly what site visit.

Because of these specialty services our pets are more pampered and secure, and if the pet ownership population continues to grow, we will see an increase in the number of services dedicated to our pets, and the continued growth of this multi-billion dollar industry.

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Puppies Become Dogs--Find The Right Breed For Long-Term Happiness!
by Llisa Corwin

There are dogs only somewhat larger than a fat hamster, with a lot less hair. There are dogs the size of a small pony, with a lot more hair. And there are literally a hundred breeds of dogs of size and coiffures between the extremes. When you family is ready for a new dog, it is vital to find the breed of dog that suits your house, yard and family best.

Why? Because there's nothing more tragic than sending a dog to the pound because you didn't realize that a large, energetic dog needed a yard larger than yours. Or that some breeds of dog are too 'sharp"--to nippy to make good pets for small children. Your kids (and your spouse) are in tears, and you feel like as if you're sending this dog to a tragic end. And that's a possibility, when you get rid of a dog you wish you hadn't bought in the first place.

Stop! Don't dwell on that picture. Your family can and should have a puppy . . . just do your homework first. You know what your family neds. Is it a quiet, small dog that doesn't shed much? A super-friendly, happy-go-lucky, long-furred fellow that'll run the kids ragged before their nap time? The perfect companion for a women who lives alone: a large dog that'll make a burglar think twice, but in reality wouldn't hurt a fly?

Think about it. If you need a small dog to live in an apartment and be content with a walk down the block and back, don't choose the puppy that'll grow into a canine giant. That means tall, high-octane dogs such as Dalmations, Labrador Retrievers, Huskies, Malamutes, Collies, Rotweilers, Dobermans or Greyhounds. (There are many other large breeds, of course.) Huge paws on a tiny puppy tell the story: this is not the dog for a miniscule yard situation. Think of the quieter, calmer, less exercise-intensive breeds.

Or do you have a huge yard and three kids you can throw frisbees at dogs for hours on end? A small, shy, retiring lapdog is not the right creature for this family. The Setters, Retrievers, Hounds, Collies, and even some of the high-energy Terriers might be great additions to the household. You won't believe the number of Terrier breeds alone, each of them slightly different from its nearest kin.

Size isn't the only indicator of a dog breed's suitability for small yards or roughhousing children. Some small dogs are bundles of boundless energy! Some very large dogs are quiet individuals. Find out which breeds are suitable for you by investigating their general energy levels, temperaments, sizes, talents and inbred characteristics. Do you know the differences in the needs of Toy Poodles, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, Miniature Dachshunds, Miniature Pinschers, Chihuahuas and the many other tiny breeds? Find out!

Involve the whole family in your research into the breeds of dog. Find a book. Get an e-book. Go to the library or get on the computer. Yo might want the dog to love and to get your children out of the house, into the yard and the sunshine! But, first, sit down and figure out what kind of dog will love you best.

Yes, every puppy is adorable. But teach the kids that the dogs in this photos . . . and this photo . . . and this photo . . . will be happy dogs when they grow up in your home. Explain that this tiny, long-haired dog would be frightened by loud noises, or unable to keep up with a pelting pack of children. Explain that some dogs are too small to catch frisbees in their mouths. Most children will understand.

The fun part is, you'll find out about breed of dogs you never even knew existed. Also, you'll probably discover news facts about dog breeds you thought you knew. Yet another advantage to doing your homework: even if you go to the dog pound to rescue a mixed breed, it helps immeasurably to read the right book first. The staff at the most dog pounds will be very good at predicting, "This dog is part such-and-such and part so-and-so. He'll probably be about his tall and . . . ." Listen to that expert advice.

Kids love dogs. Therefor, your children will want to help you ensure that the new canine member of the family will be happy in the long run.

About the Author
I am single, white and female, and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. I have one very large critter and two very small pets to keep me company. You can find out more about me at, where I can offer you an excellent book for choosing the breed of dog that best suits your family and household.

Making A Terrarium For Your Pet Iguana
by Janet Bugby

A large, airy terrarium is needed for your pet iguana with an area for basking and plants or branches for climbing.
Suitable Terrariums

Iguanas grow very fast and can often more than double their size in just a year. Make sure you buy a large enough terrarium so it doesn't have to be replaced when your iguana is fully grown. But at least a forty or fifty gallon sized tank. A large open, airy terrarium with plenty of foliage and climbing areas will suit your pet. A glass cage can heat up too much in the sun so a mesh cage would be preferable. Check all edges to make sure there are no sharp places to injure your pet. Always make sure the lid and doors are securely fastened.


Iguanas need UVB lighting to ensure they have healthy bones. Keep the UVB lamp on in the daytime and use an infra red lamp during the night. Position the lamps about eighteen inches above the mesh lid.


Iguanas, like other reptiles cannot control there body temperature and are cold blooded. You need to make sure the temperature is correct at all times. The terrarium can be heated by heat pads underneath the floor or by incandescent lamps or ceramic heaters. The temperature should be kept at around 86F in the day and about 75F at night. The basking area should be at between 90F and 94F and special reptile basking lamps can be used. Iguanas like to climb high to bask so set your basking lamps at the top of your cage close to a branch or shelf for the iguana to sit on.

In order to ensure that the terrarium is at the correct temperature for your iguana you need at least two thermometers. One in the basking area and one in the cooler part of the cage. It is difficult to get an accurate reading if you place the thermometer in the direct rays of the lamp. Place it to one side or cover with a piece of paper. It is vitally important that the temperature is correct. Observe your pet and see if it keeps close to the heating source, it is possible too cool, or moves right away from the heating source, it is possible too hot.

A note about hot rocks - do not use them. They can get very hot and severely burn your pet.

Feeding Your Iguana

Provide fresh water daily for your pet. Either provide a bathing area or spray your iguana with a gentle mist of clean water daily. The main meal should be dark green leafy plants such as cilantro, mustard greens, lettuce, dandelions, green beans, chicory, ocra etc, a healthy diet should be 80% leafy green vegetables, 10% other vegetables and 10% fruit. Suitable fruits include papaya, figs, grapes, raspberries and blackberries. Foods high in oxalic acid are toxic to Iguanas and should not be used. These include kale, cauliflower, spinach, rhubarb, beets,turnips and brussel sprouts. Iguanas should never be fed on dog or cat food, cheese, eggs or meat.

A commercially prepared diet can be used but so not use for more than half of your pets diet. Supplement it with fresh vegetables. Dries food needs to be moistened before giving it to your pet and chop up any food into small pieces as iguanas are not capable of chewing food. A juvenile iguana should be fed daily, an adult can be fed twice a week. Iguanas should always be given a supplement once or twice a week containing vitamins and calcium.

About the Author
For more information on terrariums, terrarium plants and some good deals on plant and reptile terrariums visit Cheap Terrariums for Sale and Cheap Reptile Terrariums

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Four Expert Tips for Taking Care of Parakeets
by D Swain

Parakeets are very popular pets. They're very sociable and playful. They also come in many different colors, so you can easily find the perfect one for you. If you're thinking about buying one of these birds, there are a few things you'll need to know. This article will give you a few tips for taking care of parakeets.

The type of cage you buy is very important. Make sure that the cage is big enough for your keet to flap its wings completely without hitting the side. Also, the door should be big enough for you to easily reach inside to get your bird out. Although there are cages available in many shapes, it's best to get a rectangular design.


When taking care of parakeets, it's important that you bathe them frequently. It's best to do so two or three times each week. Some birds like a dedicated water dish that they can use for bathing. Others like it better if you use a spray bottle to mist water on them. Whichever method your bird uses, make sure he has a bath in the morning. This will give his feathers time to dry off before night.


It's important that your bird gets exercise time out of his cage. If you let him out, it's best that you have his wings trimmed so that he can't fly away. You will also need to trim his toe nails periodically whenever they get too sharp. His beak will also get sharp and need to be trimmed with an emery board too.


When taking care of parakeets, you should know that they are very sociable. Your bird will feel a lot less lonely if you provide him with another keet to keep him company. However, this will severely reduce the bond that you share with your bird. This is due to the fact that birds would rather bond with each other than humans.

About the Author
These are a few tips for taking care of parakeets. There are many more things you need to learn about proper parakeet care. So, click here now for even more parakeet information that you need to learn.

Pet Insurance Reviews - Is Cheap Pet Insurance the Best?
by Gabriel Killian

Health insurance is something almost everyone has, or strives to have. In addition, many people also get pet health insurance as well. Animals are a very important part of most families just like the rest of the family members and sometimes even more. Most people don't realize that there are now many options out there for pet health insurance and most are much more reasonable and affordable than what we have available for ourselves.
Most pet health insurance policies cover all basic needed services such as spaying and neutering, de-worming, shots, and basic tests such as leukemia testing. Most of these pet health insurance policies offer different tiers to choose from depending on the age and specific needs of the pet. Rather than having to pay outright and break your pocket book for needed vet visits these policies enable you to make low monthly payments, and not owe anything at the time of the visit.

When checking out pet insurance reviews, going for the cheap pet insurance may or may not be the best idea depending on your pets needs. The cheapest pet insurance usually only covers the basic needs of the pet for example; vaccinations, de-worming, etc. When going through a pet insurance review make sure you get the level of coverage that is most accomodating to your needs as well.

Below is a list of the different kinds of coverage pet health insurance usually offers to aid in finding and selecting the best pet health insurance plan for your animals needs. Unfortunately pets just like people get health issues, and it's just heart breaking when this happens and you're not prepared or able to get your pet the help they need. Similar to our health insurance depending on the type of visit there may be added expenses that may need to be paid, but those can normally be taken care of at a later date in easier to pay monthly installments along with your pet insurance costs. This makes properly caring for your animals a lot more feasible.

When Does an Individual Not Need Pet Insurance?

This is a tricky question. For some, the cost of caring for a pet may be unjustified if the finances are above the individuals needs. In addition, some may feel that smaller pets, ie; rats, mice, frogs, etc. may not be the best canditates for pet insurance and the pet insurance cost may not be justified. This is also determined on an owner-by-owner basis and is strictly up to the pet owners discretion.

Another time when pet insurance is not needed is when a pet owner is completely capable of paying the vet bills without strain at any given moment. Many people have very healthy pets and only want to pay when the pet is sick or in need of treatment. This is completely o.k. for plenty of individuals. In general, pet insurance is for those who don't want to pay a lump sum, but find it more affordable to pay ahead of time and be covered when the time is right.

Unfortunately there are many individuals that don't take their pets to the vet at all. This can lead to undiagnosed illnesses, and a lower quality of health. For example, it's very important to take your cats in for leukemia testing as it has become a common fatality among the feline society. Most kittens also require de-worming and de-fleeing which is very important to their health and development. We are offering here resources to some of the cheapest pet health insurance so that everyone can find a plan that can work for them and their pet. The benefits for having pet insurance are abundant though unfortunately it may not be financially feasable for everyone at least it is to most. Below is an example of what a tiered plan may offer;

-Leukemia testing and shots -de-worming -de-fleeing -spaying and neutering -rabies vaccination -heartworm testing -fecal exam -coronavirus vaccinations -canine and feline distemper vaccinations -Treatment and medication for illness -Treatment and medication for injury -Annual physical exam *A plan like this would normally run you anywhere from $25 to $35 a month per pet.

This is an example of a well rounded option for a plan that includes wellness as well as continuing care and accidents which could be most important as they account for the larger bills and can never be planned for. There are also plans lower than the above. one such as this that is just strictly accidental coverage, which may be a good option for some as well that are not so much concerned with the costs of routine visits but are with the possibility of accidents. There are also of course plans higher than this as well that offer additional services to the plan, but for most this would be sufficient.

Find the best and Cheapest Pet Insurance Reviews and to find the perfect pet insurance for your needs - Visit to get the right plan at the right price!

About the Author
Check out Cheap Pet Insurance Reviews and find the perfect pet insurance for your needs - Visit for getting the best pet insurance for the price.

Pet Jewelry - Tips For Safety When Pets Wear Jewelry
By Carol Perry

Pet Jewelry makes your pampered pooch stand out as leader of the pack and is one of the most unique segments on the market. Jewelry and adornments however, are not for any old hound, they are for dogs with an extreme sense of style. Style which, if they are very lucky, they have managed to train their pet human to appreciate and share. These dogs will demand that their human buys them the very best.

At one time a dog would be lucky to get a bit of string around his neck for a collar, today's dogs are more fortunate. Bejeweled collars, encrusted with Swarovski crystals, pearls and sterling silver collar charms make a delightful gift for your dog.

There are a few safety items to consider, however, when adorning your adored pup with his latest item of jewelry. - Remember that your pet might not always appreciate wearing a jeweled neck collar. The scent of a passing rabbit disappearing into the undergrowth might prove too much of a temptation to even the most well behaved hound. Any special jewelry or anything that might catch and be a hazard should be taken off before allowing your pet to romp free. - Make sure that if your pup is wearing a jeweled collar that it has an elastic or easy-break fastening. Magnetic catches are great for this, allowing your dog to pull free without damaging himself or his collar if he gets caught, for instance, in undergrowth. - Pet jewelry should be regarded in exactly the same way that you would your own. So, as you would not expect to wear your finest pearls to the gym, you should not let your pup romp wild wearing his.

The jewelry can be cleaned and treated in exactly the same way as you would your own and will benefit from a regular wash in hot soapy water and rubbing dry with a soft cloth. - Not every dog will embrace these new found adornments. Some may find it strange or even a little scary. If your pup looks a little panicked then remove the offending item and reassure him. Then pop it back on again while giving him reassurance and perhaps a little treat. Keep repeating this at regular intervals and over the course of a few days he will start to feel comfortable and confident in the new finery.

Have fun with your pet and his or her jewelry.

It is certain that your pup will certainly enjoy the attention and feel very special indeed! A unique selection of collar charms, pet pearls and dog jewelry can be found on-line at . The exclusive line of pet pearls come with a sturdy magnet clasp for safety. Big Paw pearls are made from Swarovski crystals and can be cleaned easily (unlike fragile freshwater pearls). In addition, the pewter collar charms can be buffed and polished with a simple jewelry cloth. Big Paw Designs has been keeping Fido and fluffy in fashion since 2002.

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Addison Disease in Pets
By Frank Will

Addison disease in pets, (referred to as Hypoadrenocorticism), is very similar to the same disease in humans, but in pets it is not curable.

If not treated, it could lead to shock, and if the shock is severe, it could cause the death of your pet.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are not a cure for this disease, but they can assist with restoring power to the adrenal glands, especially Pantothenic Acid and Vitamin C, which are natural immune builders for these particular glands. The essential minerals sodium and potassium also play significant roles with this disease.

In most typical cases with this disease, parts of the dogs adrenal glands that are cortisone producing will start wasting away to the effect that they are only functioning at a very minimal level. This will have a significant impact on a dogs health, but can be properly managed with medication.

This disease can also occur in cats, but it is relatively uncommon except in female cats, and the medical community is not exactly sure why.

The causes of this disease are not fully understood, but it has been suspected that the immune system will attack its own adrenal glands.

As a result of this, the dogs adrenal glands do not produce enough of the two types of cortisone that are critical to their ability to balance the levels of the essential minerals, sodium and potassium.

This disease works basically like this:

The adrenal glands which manufactures hormones and has a series of effects on numerous body functions, specifically the outer glands (called the cortex), fails to produce what is called corticosteroids, which is a type of hormone that enables the body to properly handle stress.

Occasionally this disease may be due to a failure of brain-controlled mechanisms that are responsible to stimulate the adrenal glands, allowing them to secrete hormones properly. Because it is so uncommon, it is very challenging for a veterinarian to properly diagnose this disease.

Although this disease is not curable, it is certainly is treatable.

However, if not treated, in some cases the slightest bit of stress in the animal will result in malfunctions of numerous body functions that could ultimately lead to a state of shock that can and has caused the death of pets.


Dogs that suffer from chronic forms of Hypoadrenocorticism will have reoccurring periods of appetite loss, weakness, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other symptoms could be lethargy, regurgitation of undigested food shortly after eating, low blood sugar, and a slowing heart rate.

These symptoms could lead to seizure, tremors, collapse, and or shock.

Some dogs may, at any time, develop a hypo adrenal crisis this is the acute form of this disorder, and this may result in acute kidney failure and a very low body temperature. If this happens, your dog must receive immediate attention for your veterinarian.

Diagnosis of this disease is done from what is known as the ACTH Stimulation test.

Treatment for this disease will be in the form of replacing essential hormones, and there are two drugs that can help to treat this disease.

The first is a drug called Florinef that is given to your pet twice a day, depending on the pets sodium and potassium blood tests. Once stabilized, blood tests will only have to done 2 to 4 times per year.

However, it has been found that over extended periods, the dosage of this drug has to be increased, which may be very unfortunate to the owner as this is a very expensive drug.

The second is a recently introduced drug that is injected into your pet called Percortin. This drug was on the market, than taken off of the market, and now is back on. This method of treatment seems to be gaining strong support among some circles and is a lot less expensive and has proven to be very effective.

You should always consult your veterinarian before any type of treatment or for any advice on this disease, as this is one of the more perplexing and challenging diseases your pet may face.

I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a "mutt" that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.

He found us, nearly starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds.

After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the little guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and today is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.

After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.

Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.

I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process.

Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website;

Liquid Vitamins & Minerals for Humans & Pets

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