Pet Advice - Pet News and Pet Assurance?

Getting Your Family Pets Ready for Your New Baby
by Angele Sionna, Early Childhood Parenting - Examiner

A big concern as your due date inches closer is how to get your fur babies ready for your baby baby. We have three cats and a dog in our family and all easily adapted to each of our baby's arrivals. Here are some suggestions to get your pets ready too...

Talk to the animals about the baby, let them know there's changes coming.

Show them the baby stuff and tell them it is not for them.

While you're in the hospital have your spouse/partner bring home a blanket or hat or something the baby has touched and let the animals all smell it. Talk to them about the rules for when baby comes home.

When your spouse goes back to the hospital, give the pets a treat and maybe a new toy of their own. Tell them you're going to get the baby and when you get home things will be different but they won't be forgotten. And then be sure to live up to this promise.

When you get home intro the baby to the dogs and cats. Make sure they see the baby and they know they're not to touch. But don't keep baby a mystery that they'll want to check out when no one's looking. Reassure the animals in a calming tone and pet them often.

Make sure you inform the animal at baby's first cry that it is OK and that is just how the baby talks. Hold the baby while he or she is crying while you're talking to your pets so they can see all is well.

No matter how awesome your dogs are NEVER leave the baby unattended with the dog in the same room, even if baby's in a crib or swing. Back in my TV news days, I covered so many stories about nice dogs that bit babies and all because the parents didn't think. It's not the dogs fault, they're following their instincts and obviously its not the baby's fault! Just be careful and overly cautious on this point!

For cats, as soon as you set up baby's room, let them go in and check it out, but NEVER allow them to jump into the crib or swing. If you do they will think it's OK to do so later. If your cat insists on jumping in the crib, consider a crib tent (more on those HERE). Another thing you can try is to fill the crib with balloons you've blown up. Once kitty jumps up and encounters those, she's going to jump out and never try it again!

We've never had any problems with any pet with either baby. It can be scary to think about, but in reality it's no biggy if you prepare the animals!

Mullen: Should the Dogs Eat With the Humans?

During the past holiday season, Sue and I went to a lot of cocktail parties and dinners. It's great to be in demand, and, thank goodness, Sue let me join her at a lot of them. It's taken years, but I now know many of the rules of etiquette -- which fork to use, not to drink out of the finger bowl, and the difference between a sleeve and a napkin.

One guideline for a good dinner party used to be that you do not let a husband and wife sit together. The rationale being that, since they see each other all the time, separating them makes things more interesting for them and other guests. It gives everyone something to talk about on the drive home.

Obviously, you don't want to be too strict about these kinds of thing -- after all, it's a party, not a spelling bee. Some couples should stay together, some should use their sleeves. It makes the rest of us feel better. But Sue did get me into one party that could have used stricter etiquette. Our hostess seemed to think eating arrangements should be human, dog, human, dog, dog, dog, human instead of man, woman, man, woman.

When her biggest dog, Tiny, passed by the buffet table, licking most of the food as it passed by, our hostess must have caught my look of dismay.
"Tiny's tongue is cleaner than a human's," she said in my direction. If she meant that as comfort, she failed. Just because it's cleaner than my tongue doesn't mean it's clean. It's like saying your broom is cleaner than my toothbrush. I still wouldn't brush my teeth with it.

I'm not trying to sound anti-pet. I have pets myself and they're a big part of our dysfunctional family. I don't hold them to human standards, even extraordinarily low human standards. But shouldn't the hostess have stepped in? Or does she consider dog slather a condiment?

I had a plateful of food in my hand. Wonderful food: holiday ham, turkey breast, cheeses, olives and salami. How did I know that was the first time the dog had licked the food? How did I know that he hadn't licked everything before we arrived and once again while we were hanging up our coats. A few other people started looking for table tops and coffee tables to put down their plates. Now, who doesn't have funny family stories of the family cat or dog found nibbling on the Christmas turkey -- at least I hope you do -- I'd hate to think we're the only ones that ever happened to. But still, I'd seen the dog do it and that made all the difference. If he had licked all the food out in the kitchen where I couldn't see it, I'd have finished my plate and gone back for seconds.

All evening I watched the waist-high dog stalk the buffet table. Sometimes, when his nose went over the edge, a guest would haul him back and wag a finger in his nose and shamed, the dog would start eating off the abandoned plates of guests that had lost their appetite.

"Don't they ever feed him," Bill said as he watched the dog lick a plateful of cocktail sausages off someone's plate in one big slurp.

"His name's Tiny," I said. We were both at the bar getting loopy from drinking red wine on an empty stomach but we both figured Tiny couldn't get much of its tongue into wine bottle. We sure weren't going to taste the punch in the big bowl. Who knew where it had been? Bill and I watched newcomers approach the buffet table and load up. Should we tell them? Why spoil their fun?

On the way home, I was about to tell Sue, who had been on the other side of the room all night, about Tiny when she said, "Wasn't that ham great? Some people know how to do a party right."
Jim Mullen writes for Newspaper Enterprise Association. E-mail:

A True Story of Wags to Riches
by Erin Snelgrove - Yakima Herald-Republic

Pet rescue group’s mission could be called No Stray Left Behind

They've seen puppies stuffed in garbage bags, dogs riddled with bullet wounds and unwanted cats living on bugs and rocks.

To help these and other animals, a group of about 25 area residents recently formed a second pet rescue group called Wags to Riches, a nonprofit no-kill shelter serving Central Washington.

"We wanted to fulfill our own vision," said board chairman Roger Vandiver. "People really did want us to be different."

Wags to Riches launched in July. Members branched from another organization to fulfill their own vision. The group's purpose is to rescue and adopt stray, abused and surrendered animals and find them permanent, loving homes.

Although most animals come from throughout the Yakima Valley, some are adopted out to people living in Canada, Oregon and Idaho -- provided they make the drive to pick up their new pet.

Until the animals are adopted, the organization supplies them with food, veterinary treatment and foster care everywhere from Zillah and Wapato to Yakima and the West Valley. It's run by volunteers who have a combined 10 years of experience with animal rescue work.

"We knew what we were doing," said volunteer Juanda Krebs. "We really hit the ground running."

In the past six months, the group has tried several new things, such as forming committees charged with fundraising activities, news releases and scholarships for aspiring veterinarians. They've rescued 114 animals, and they're distributing newsletters to kids and adults.

But the success stories evoke the most pride among members. Krebs' daughter, Kim Wertenberger, remembers being called to the Naches area in September to help find a 10-year-old Akita mix named Copper. The dog had been thrown from a vehicle during an accident five days earlier, and his owners feared he was dead.

For four days, others had unsuccessfully tried to find Copper. But when Wertenberger and her team began their own search, they heard a dog bark within 20 minutes. Then, miraculously, they watched as Copper clawed his way to the top of a 150-foot embankment toward rescue.

"To find him alive and to bring him back to his family was just amazing," said Wertenberger, teary-eyed at the memory. "To be a part of that was so worth it."

Bob Chism agrees. Now caring for six, 4-week-old shepherd-mix puppies rescued from Wapato, he is eager to do what he can to support Wags to Riches' mission. Still, he said the need for more volunteers is great.

"It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. It really is," he said. "It's all for the animals."

The group's long-term goals include bringing fourth-year student veterinarians to the area to practice spaying and neutering rescued animals alongside qualified professionals.

They want to start an education program to teach children how to care for, respect and rescue animals, and they want to own their own sanctuary outside of Yakima city limits within the next five years.

Their needs have been fulfilled so far, and they're optimistic their future is equally bright.

"You can accomplish so much more when you have many people working together to accomplish a single goal," Vandiver said. "The further along we get, the more interesting it becomes."

• Erin Snelgrove can be reached at 577-7684 or

Pricey Puppy Pinched from Yonkers Pet Store

YONKERS, N.Y. - Somebody poached the pooch!

Police said a man asked to look at a $1,500 miniature Doberman Pinscher puppy at a Yonkers pet store Tuesday evening _ and then ran out with the small brown female dog in his arms.

A store employee gave chase but couldn't stop him. Police said an employee recalled seeing the man in the store earlier in the day, asking about the dog.

Pets May Suffer During Economic Downturn
By Kathleen Gray, USA TODAY


Experts recommend that people struggling financially to support their pets take the following steps:

Contact local shelters or rescue groups to locate pet food pantries or to find pet-friendly apartments if you have to move. They can link you with programs that can help with necessary vet care, medications or low-cost spay/neuter. In an increasing number of cities, groups are forming to provide short-term foster care for pets whose owners need a little time to get stable again.

Go to the home page of the Humane Society of the United States ( and click on Pet Tip, which offers a state-by-state, ever-growing list of groups offering free or discounted pet food, medical care or temporary foster care.

Barter a short-term living arrangement for your pets. You provide free dog-walking or housekeeping or landscaping services for someone who gives your animal a home until your finances improve.

If you conclude you must give up your pet:

See whether responsible pet-loving friends or family can take it. But be careful with your selection process.

If it's a purebred, contact the breed rescue group in your region. A few will also consider mixed-breed dogs that are primarily a particular breed.

Contact no-kill shelters or rescue groups first.

Elizabeth Strand says she has been getting more calls than ever in the past year from guilt-ridden pet owners who are dealing with the expense of caring for their pets in tough economic times.
Strand, who started the Veterinary Social Work program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 2002, oversees a free hotline that provides counseling for animal owners and veterinary medicine professionals.

Strand said she recently spoke with a couple having to choose between getting treatment for their small dog, who was suffering from a treatable autoimmune disease, or paying the mortgage.

"The wife had just lost her job, and they had maxed out their credit card trying to keep their house," Strand said. "The dog was like a surrogate child to them, but the animal ended up succumbing to the disease. They were terribly heartbroken."

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 42 million American households owned a dog in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. Households spent an average of $356 on veterinary visits that year, it said.

More than 37 million households owned a cat and spent an average of $190 on visits to the vet in 2007, the association said.

Those dollars, pet experts say, are becoming more difficult for some cash-strapped owners to pay.

"Because of the financial downturn, we're hearing from people who can't afford to provide care for their animals," Strand said.

Linda Lawrence, an instructor at Michigan State University's School of Social Work and the founder of a support group for people whose pets have died, said finances are keeping some pet owners from getting hospice care for their terminally ill pets.

"People just don't have the money to do extensive treatments for their pets, so they may euthanize them sooner," Lawrence said. "And people who are giving them up are feeling so guilty. So the recession has also hit our animal kingdom."

Although there are no numbers that show the direct correlation of the economy and pet care expenses, "we're definitely hearing from our members who have concerns about that," Dr. Gail Golab of the American Veterinary Medical Association said.

And, Golab added, "we're seeing the effects on adoptions at shelters and purchases from breeders."

The association has a list of pet-loss support hotlines on its website, The number of calls to hotlines is increasing, Golab said.

Gray reports for the Detroit Free Press. Contributing: Megha Satyanarayana, Detroit Free Press.

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'Hi My Name Is Kujo. I Am a Nice Dog.'

Abandoned Pup With Child's Note in Collar Looking for a Home

When Cecilia Miller's 11-year-old grandson, Michael, found a freezing puppy in the backyard on one of the coldest nights of the year, she called her neighbor, lifelong dog lover Wanda Martin.

Two women came to Kujo's rescue after his owner abandoned him on a cold night. When Martin, 79, arrived, the emaciated dog was curled up outside the basement window of Miller's Alliance, Ohio, home, but he refused to come inside.

"I took a pillow and a comforter and put it in the dirt and the next day took cheese out of my pocket and gave it to him. From then on, we were buddies," Martin told reporter Tracy Carloss from ABC News' Cleveland affiliate.

It took a little while for the dog to warm up to her, but when Martin was finally able to pet him, she found a note written in a child's scrawl tucked in the mutt's collar. The note, punctuated by a smiley face, read, "Hi, my name is Kujo. I am a nice dog. My owner can't feed me. Please help me. I'm great with kids too."

According to Miller, the note was right on.

He walked right in the family room and made himself right at home with my grandson," she told "Good Morning America." "He's real gentle with the kids and my grandson. He can be real contented and minds well."

Kujo's abandonment seems to be a sign of the tough economic times. Every year, nearly 8 million pets are put in shelters, and shelter workers say more people are giving up their pets as the economy worsens.

Martin and Miller, who is 77 years old, are jointly caring for Kujo, but they feel they don't have the stamina to keep up with him.

Martin believes Kujo is still a puppy -- between 6 and 9 months old -- though, at more than 100 pounds, he's hardly little.

Both women agree that the stray is gentle and very good with children. He also seems to be housebroken.

They are looking for a family with children to adopt Kujo. They've received a few offers, but no one seems to click yet.

To anyone interested, Martin said Kujo said they would get "a very beautiful, loving, big giant."

"He is the kindest little guy," she said. "He is, I'd say, part boxer, part shepherd. Who knows? But he is nice."

Should You Get Health Insurance for Your Dog?
Associated Press - Houston Pets

NEW YORK — It’s a common remark for those devoted to their pooches: “I spend more on my dog’s health care than I do on my own!”

Dog owners can expect to pay a few hundred dollars a year for routine veterinary care, but a serious illness could send the bills soaring into the thousands.

One way to protect yourself is to buy pet health insurance.

It’s still not that common. Fewer than 1 percent of pets are insured in the U.S., according to Petplan USA — one of just 13 plans available in the U.S.

Most people don’t start looking for pet insurance until they face a big vet bill, said Michael Hemstreet, who runs Pet Insurance Review, a Web site for comparative shopping.

“But not one of the companies will cover a pre-existing condition,” he said. “It’s like if I don’t have car insurance and get in an accident, and then try to apply for auto insurance.”

Many pet-insurance companies also will not issue new policies for older animals. Hemstreet noted that pet insurance is technically property insurance, and many plans come with numerous restrictions. For example, there may be exclusions for genetic problems or exemptions for conditions known to certain breeds, such as hip displaysia in Labrador retrievers and German shepherds.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates pet-insurance costs at $225 per year, but the price can more than double for older dogs. Many companies offer discounts for coverage of multiple pets.

In general, plans cover about 80 percent of pet medical bills, including routine checkups, vaccinations and tests.

Deductibles range from $50 to $125, and some companies limit the total amount of coverage available, either annually or for the life of the pet. Annual caps typically range from $7,000 to $20,000.

Hemstreet said pet insurance won’t save people with healthy dogs much money, but can make the difference if a dog has a serious illness or accident.

“I think pet insurance is for the person who will do anything to treat their pet and save their pet,” he said, noting that advanced treatments such as chemotherapy and transplants are becoming more common. “They can do all this stuff, but it gets pretty expensive.”

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Protect Your Pets from the Pound
By: Donald Lee

Pets are people, too. At least, that's the way they should be treated by their owners. The sad reality, though, is that a lot people own pets when they're really not ready to care properly for their little furry friends. Or they just don't know how to love, clean, and treat a cat, dog, or other animal the right and humane way. What happens to these poor animals? Many end up in shelters, lost and unwanted-to the tune of 6 to 8 million every year according to the Humane Society. At least half of those end up being "put to sleep," to put it nicely.

When they first start out looking to buy a pet, everyone says that they aren't like that, that they won't have their pet end up caged in a pound somewhere. If you want to be one of the people who says this and means it, read on. Your commitment shows you are ready to learn how to own a pet. Once you are trained in the following pet ownership basics, then you can take the next step and find the perfect pet for you.

But before you meet this furry companion, take these following tips to heart:

Go down the list of required health-care needs. This is especially important for puppies and kittens, who need an arsenal of vaccinations when they're little. But even older pets require regular checkups and the occasional medication (such as for heartworms for dogs). Before you get a pet, locate a trusted veterinarian in your neighborhood and go over all of your soon-to-be pet's health needs.

Neuter, neuter, neuter. Point blank, this is one of the most crucial things you can do to protect your pet's health. Remember that number above from the Humane Society (6 to 8 million pets in cages)? Now consider that as many as 100 million other animals, mostly cats, live on the streets. Why? Their mommies and daddies weren't neutered.

Look into insurance. Believe it or not, pet health insurance is all the craze in employer benefits packages. That's because it comes in very handy nowadays, considering the importance of pet health and how pet pills and operations seem to be getting just as pricy as people medicine. Even if you don't get pet insurance through work, look into a package on your own. While you're at it, consider third-party liability insurance, too, especially for instances such as dog bites.

Tabulate the grocery tab. Perhaps the number one thing people don't realize when getting a pet is how expensive their food can be. Figure out just how much your pet will eat before you get it, planning always to provide your critter more than enough in proper and balanced meals. Ask yourself, "Can I afford this?"

Pour attention and love on your pet. Why even bother having a pet if you don't plan to give it affection? That's the whole point of keeping a critter around, right? So when your little guy (or girl) greets you at the door after work, or wants to snuggle in your lap in front of the TV, don't push them away. Award them for their faithfulness.

Groom your pet. Grooming counts toward that love and attention requirement, but it also is necessary for the animal's health as well. Depending on your type of animal, grooming could involve a bath, the occasional haircut, regular hair brushing, tooth exams, and paw inspection.

Hop, skip, and a jump. Animals love exercise. Whether they're normally cooped up in a cage, an apartment, or, well, a coop, be sure to free them from these confines as often as possible. Dogs don't just like to take walks to go potty. Cats don't like to tear up and down furniture just to shred it. They have energy to burn, and will be better off for it.

Teach your pet proper bathroom etiquette. Speaking of going potty, it is essential to train your pet at the earliest possible age to do so properly. Of course, this doesn't mean training them to put down the lid when they're done (although supposedly rabbits can be taught to do so!). But it does mean getting a cat to use a kitty litter box, for instance, or a dog to wait until it's outside. If you don't know how to train them, learn before you own them. Ask your parents or friends, read a book, visit a chat room, or talk with the vet.

Consider a proper place of higher learning. When training becomes an issue, whether it's for potty training or how-not-to-chew-up-your-shoes training, consider obedience school. It is not a mark of shame for either you or your pet. In fact, it may be just what your fur ball needs to live the happiest, safest, and healthiest life possible.

To put it bluntly, if you can't follow these rules, you shouldn't own a pet. Buy a plant instead. However, if you're up to the task-and really, most people are-your rewards will be immense. For a little bit of responsibility, time, and money on your part, you and your family will get a lifetime of love and unconditional adoration.

Author Bio
Donald Lee is the public relations manager for Buysellcommunity provides free classified listing services. Buy, Sell and trade: auto, computers, household items, real estate, pets and much more. For global and localized classifieds, please visit - Free Buy & Sell Classifieds

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Fun Dog Activities
By: Mike Mathews

All dog breeds ( were developed for a purpose. Some breeds were developed to herd sheep, some to hunt game, and some to pull sleds. Dogs, like humans, enjoy having a purpose in life. Dogs like to lead a structured life and be able to associate with their owners in activities and be given the opportunity to please their owner. The following is a short list of fun activities that you may want to consider for your dog.

Dog Agility is a sport in which a handler must control and direct his dog around an obstacle course within a set period of time. Dogs must be controlled off-leash using only voice and body language commands. The handler runs beside the dog and directs the dog through the obstacle course with precision and speed - trying to accumulate the minimum number of faults (both missed obstacles and time faults). Obstacles include: A-frames, elevated dog walks, teeter-totters, tunnels, jumps (such as hurdles and tires), weave poles (like a slalom), pause tables (where the dog must lie down for a fixed time), and other obstacles. In order to be fair, there are usually classes of competition to group dogs of similar size and experience. Therefore there will be several winners at a competition. Dogs and handlers need to be very well trained and seem to enjoy this sport immensely. There are a number of organizations involved in agility performance around the world who sanction clubs to allow them to host agility competitions. In the US, some of these organizations include: the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United Kennel Club (UKC), the United States Dog Agility Association, and the North American Dog Agility Council. Elsewhere in the world: the Kennel Club (in the UK), the Agility Association of Canada and the FCI (World Canine Organization) are all involved.

Obedience is a skill that ranges from mastering everyday commands that all dogs should know to competitive exercises that require significant training and aptitude to excel. You may start out teaching your puppy and young dog the basic obedience commands and find that you and your dog have an aptitude for obedience skills that you would like to take to a higher level. In competitive obedience the dog and handler team must perform prescribed activities off leash and in a carefully defined way. If the dog has the aptitude and training it will gain skills to allow it to advance through the ranks from Novice to Open (intermediate) to Utility (advanced) competitions. At each level the requirements become more difficult and the number of exercises to be performed get longer. Exercises are all done off leash using voice and body language commands and include such activities as: having the dog stay while you walk away; follow the handler in the heel position through complex patterns; come on command; sit and lie down for fixed periods of time while the handler is out of the dog's sight; retrieve items over a high jump; and find a scented object amongst a group of identical non-scented objects. Dogs can earn obedience titles in obedience championships. Purebred dogs can compete in obedience trials sanctioned by the AKC, while the UKC recognizes other purebred dog competitions. As well, there are mixed breed competitions sanctioned by the Mixed Breed Dog Club of America and other organizations. In Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club sanctions obedience trials and awards titles.

Lure coursing is a sport for sighthounds that involves chasing a manually or mechanically operated artificial lure across a field in a "coursing" pattern. The competition is usually restricted to pure-bred sighthounds including: Afghan Hounds, Basenjis, Borzois, Greyhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds, and Whippets. The operator keeps the lure or "prey" just in front of the chasing sighthounds until they have completed the course. The course must have a minimum number of turns and is usually 600 to 1000 yards long. The hounds love to play this sport and puppies can be introduced to the sport through lure coursing practice sessions. Competitions usually consist of two runs for each dog breed for dogs that have been pre-certified or qualified. In the US, the American Sighthound Field Association or the AKC can "certify" that dogs have been trained and are eligible to enter their sanctioned competitions. In Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club sanctions lure coursing but excludes the Italian Greyhound because they consider it a toy dog.

Tracking can be learned by all dog breeds ( because all dogs use their noses to identify things and explore the world. Training can be started as early as 10 to 12 weeks of age as all puppies love to use their noses to sniff out a trail. As with all training, positive rewards (treats, praise etc,) and re-enforcement work best. The AKC sanctions tracking tests and events in the US. This vigorous non-competitive outdoor sport allows dogs to demonstrate their ability to recognize and follow human scents. In Canada, the CKC sponsors tracking events and you can check their website for a list of nearby events.

Field Trials are regularly held for Basset Hounds, Beagles and Dachshunds to demonstrate their ability to find and track game. Similarily Field Trials and Hunting Trials are held almost every weekend across the country for: the Pointing Breeds, the Retrievers, and Spaniels to allow them to compete and demonstrate their hunting abilities under a strict set of conditions. If you are an owner of a hunting dog puppy, you will want to look into many of the organized activities designed for your dog. Check out the AKC or CKC websites for a list of contacts and field trials in your area.

Other Fun Activites that you might wish to explore include flyball, frisbee, herding and drafting competitions.

Author Bio
Mike Mathews is a contributing writer and editor for the popular dog breed site: He provides informative, real-world advice and tips on dog breeds, dog health, dog grooming and more. As well be sure to check out his free report on Dog Training

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How to Persuade Your Cat to Take Its Medicine
By D J Bromley

Whenever a cat owner takes their cat to the vets the one sentence they hate to hear is "and I will give you some pills for the cat." All cat owners know that trying to give a pill to their animal can be nothing short of a nightmare. You are going to face a battled of wills that make trying to get your teenage children to tidy their rooms a walk in the park.

No matter how much you tell your cat it is for their own good, it will not believe you. It is going to fight tooth and nail to prevent it. That lovely gentle creature that normally likes nothing more than sitting on your lap purring, will at the site of a pill turn into a fighting banshee. The simple truth is that they do not want that small round thing shoved down their throat and will do everything in their power to stop you doing just that.

If you want to try the direct approach you could drop the tablet into your cat's mouth. Ideally you should aim to drop the pill in towards the back of the cat's throat. Then holding its jaws firmly closed tickle its throat to encourage it to swallow. From my experience this can work although cats are very clever at storing the tablet in the side of the mouth and spiting it out as soon as you let it go. One of the few times my cat has ever scratched me was whilst I was trying to do this.

For many cat owners the only answer is to try and fool your pet into taking its medicine. One way is to crush the tablet either using a pestle and mortar or by putting the pill in between two spoons and crushing it into a powder form. Then mix the powder into some wet cat food. This method can be particularly effective for cats that normally having nothing but dry food as they see this change in the diet as a treat and may scoff it down. This method will not work if a result of its illness your cat is off of its food.

There is a devise known as a "pet piller" which you can get from your vet. This consists of a plastic tube and a plunger. You put the pill into the tube and the idea is that you then fire the pill into the cat's mouth. When you read the instructions that come with the instrument it all sounds very simple. Putting it into practice is quite another matter.

When using a "pet piller" your first problem is to get your cat to open its mouth. If you have tried opening a stubborn cats jaw with one hand whilst holding a "pet piller" you will know it is no easy task. It is amazing for such small creatures how much strength and power they can generate when they turn their mind too it. In fact it really is a job for two people.

I have now found a solution which suits both my cat and me. As a conscientious cat owner I do not give my cat fresh cow's milk. All the experts seem to agree that it is not good for cats. However, my cat has never read the reports and just loves fresh milk. All I do is crush up his tablet and mix it with some fresh full fat milk. Put the bowl on the floor and both the milk and the tablet are gone in a matter of seconds.

I figure a little milk is not going to hurt and it save n awful; lot of aggravation between me and my cat.

Dave Bromley has had cats for the last 35 years. He now shares his semi retirement with his 12 year old cat Jack and runs

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Which to Choose - a Small or Large Aquarium
by Peter Cunningham

Most aquarists are dictated to by circumstance. There is a really big aquarium, at a really good price, but one rather definite problem, and that is there’s nowhere to put it. So a smaller aquarium is chosen, but not by choice. However, even in the described circumstances, a smaller aquarium could be the one of choice.

Most aquarists dream big, visualizing that final aquarium that will bring the ultimate reef. In most cases, it never materializes. Some are lucky of course. There are some beautiful big reefs about.

There are also some beautiful small reefs about, but the beauty is not ‘in the face’. It is in the detail.

There is one aquarium type where, I would imagine, bigger is usually best. That is the fish only aquarium. When an aquarium system is considered, between reef and fish only, if say angels and butterfly fish are to be kept, then fish only is the choice. Some angel and butterfly fish are said to be reef friendly, but many are not. The aquarist with a big fish only aquarium will have a lot of choice of fish, with all the colour and interest that goes with them. If the aquarium was smaller, then fish loading would have to be reduced. This does not mean to say that a fish only small aquarium is a waste of time, it is not. In this case, though, the choice of fish is limited, in size and territoriality. For example, it would be wrong to house a surgeon fish in a nano aquarium.

Small aquariums such as the nano should house fish of appropriate size. Perhaps the common clownfish (Amphiprion oscellaris) would be suitable, or other small fish such as the Neon goby (Elacatinus oceanops) and similar. In the larger nano aquarium, fish such as dwarf angels (Centropyge sp) could be suitable. Stocking levels have to be a disciplined affair with the very small nano aquariums, and not excessive with the larger ones. The fish only aquarium of whatever size has the advantage that, although water quality is important, there is no great need to worry about calcium and the like, the need being to keep nitrates and phosphates as low as possible. So if the desire is to have a good number of exotic fish which may not be reef friendly, a larger aquarium will do. If the idea is to have one or two small fish then a nano will be fine. Both types will need suitable decoration for the fish to feel secure.

If the aquarist yearns for a reef tank, and wants to emulate as close as possible the corals of the reef in quantity then a larger aquarium is going to be required. The fish stocks have to be controlled as reef unfriendly fish are not required, and too many fish will tend to depress the water quality despite modern equipment. The aquascaping of the reef is fun, and the aquarist will, with care and attention, achieve a beautiful reef. The reef will never properly emulate nature’s own, of course. There is a lack of size, a lack of diversity, and reef unfriendly fish are missing.

Then there is the aquarist who is very interested in detail. They do not want a big reef, but a very small section of a reef so the detail of the development of the life on a rock or two can be watched in particular. Or perhaps the antics of two small fish are the attraction. Here the nano will be suitable, as a ’live’ rock or two of suitable size will be all that is required. Then the aquarist can stock a coral or two, plus perhaps a suitable shrimp, or go for a fish or two. It is most probable that the aquarists who deliberately choose a nano tank when there is room for something larger are few.

Again as said, most aquarist’s vision is of the big one. The nano aquarium also brings the fascinating marine world more within the reach of the aquarist with a restricted financial ability.

There are aquarists who run a larger reef aquarium and also run a fish only one as well. This is probably the best of both worlds. Then there are the aquarists, usually advanced, who run a larger aquarium of whatever type and also run a nano aquarium, sometimes two, so that particular aspects of marine life can be studied.

So what are the advantages of a nano aquarium? The term nano is applied to an aquarium up to 50 gallons. The nano can start at a size of 10 gallons or slightly less. So it becomes pretty obvious that the set up costs are minimized. In the fish only nano, there is the cost of the fish, of course, and the seawater mix, and any sand base that might be used, and the heating/lighting. Plus any ordinary rock which is required. If ‘live’ rock and one or two small corals are incorporated then the cost will rise but not significantly. So the demand on the wallet is not going to be high. Running costs are low. Water changes will not amount to many gallons and are effective, if done weekly, to maintain water quality.

If there is a calcium etc requirement then commercial additives should last a long time. There should be no requirement for expensive add-on equipment. If desired nano aquariums can be purchased ready for use at reasonable prices in designs that fit into the modern house well. There are potential problems though. If the aquarist overstocks then water quality is going to suffer. The small seawater gallonage is subject to negative change, maybe caused by the aquarist (overfeeding, overdosing), or caused by external influences (overheating). So the nano aquarist has to be extra vigilant on water parameters.

What of aquariums that are over 50 gallons in capacity? The bigger they get, the more money is going to be needed. The cost of a fairly large aquarium, when furnished with ’live’ rock, sand bed, protein skimmer, corals and fish can run into thousands. Not cheap. Likewise the fish only system. The large amount of seawater required, any ’live’ rock used, a protein skimmer, sand bed etc plus all the fish again is a significant cost. Larger aquariums can also be purchased ready for use. The cost of these is very high. Against that, the larger aquariums are more naturally stable.

The aquarist needs to make a major blunder to badly overdose the aquarium. Feeding likewise, though the larger numbers of fish in a fish only aquarium plus overfeeding could spell trouble. External influences can cause problems with overheating, the larger aquarium does not escape this. Halide lighting and warmer weather will cause a temperature rise. However, the temperature rise will occur more slowly because of the higher volume of water. Generally, as the aquarium is larger it is usually easier, more practical, and financially more acceptable to take action to control temperature rise with fans or, if really necessary, a cooler (chiller). By this it is meant that fixing cooling apparatus to a larger aquarium is easier than doing so with a very small nano aquarium, and the high cost of a seawater cooler is more acceptable on a very expensive aquarium. It can be done with a nano, of course, and for the sake of the life in the aquarium stable parameters are needed.

So, it’s ‘horses for courses’ as they say. We each have our own ideas and we know our financial capabilities. Whatever the choice, marine life is fascinating.

Peter Cunningham and John Cunningham between them have been keeping saltwater aquariums for over 35 years. Check out their Aquarists Online website if you are interested in learn more about the saltwater aquarium hobby.

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The Pet Safe Kitchen
By Wendy Boyd

Do you know what dangers lie under your kitchen sink? Many of us are unaware that we have a virtual toxic waste dump in our kitchen. So many of the soaps, detergents and cleaners that we use on a day-to-day basis present a serious danger to our dogs, cats and other furry friends (not to mention yourself).

Eighty-one Thousand (81,000) chemicals have been registered with the EPA in the last 30 years, and fewer than 20% have been tested for toxicity! EPA studies indicate that elevated concentration of household chemicals persist in the air. Long-term exposure to chemicals inside our homes may be harmful to our families and our pets.

Has your dog ever tried to lick the dishes after you've rinsed them with liquid soap and water? Does your cat peak into the washing machine while your loading it or curl up on the wash fresh out of the dryer? Several years ago we had a cat that loved to jump into the tub right after we cleaned it and he would try to drink the water left in the tub (we would always shoo him out before he got the chance). The behavior of our furry friends, while often cute and endearing, can very often be dangerous to their well being. Many common household cleaning products contain chemicals which are dangerous to you, your family and your pet. Some things you can easily watch out for:

1. To protect your pet you should avoid sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye. Found in dish-washing liquids, laundry products, oven cleaner, scouring products, and tub & tile cleaners, sodium hydroxide is immediately irritating to the respiratory tract if inhaled. Contact can cause severe damage to the eyes, skin, mouth, and throat. It can cause liver and kidney damage as well.

2. Have you ever sprayed air freshener around the litter box or caught your pet drinking from the toilet bowl? Both can be dangerous to your pet. Hydrochloric acid is often found in odor eliminators and toilet bowl cleaners. Hydrochloric acid can cause severe damage to skin. It can be harmful to health, just by breathing the fumes. If swallowed hydrochloric acid can be fatal.

3. Many all-purpose cleaners, cleaning wipes, de-greasers, floor polish, rug shampoos, toilet bowl cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, and window cleaners contain butyl cellosolve. It can cause irritation and tissue damage from inhalation. Butyl cellosolve is so hazardous a person who spends just 15 minutes cleaning scale off shower walls could inhale three times the acute exposure limit. Imagine what harm it can do to your beloved pet.

According to The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care by C. J. Puotinen, accidental exposure to toxic chemicals is the leading cause of death for America's dogs, cats and other pets (pg 323).

The Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) recommends you keep pets away from cleaning products. Shut them out of the room while spraying bathroom cleansers, etc. They also suggest you close toilet lids to keep pets from drinking the water. This is very important if you choose to use automatic chemical tank or bowl treatments.

To protect your pet you may wish to start using "Green" products. Sloan Barnett, in her book Green Goes With Everything, suggests that "A green product is one that won't harm you, your children, your pets, or the environment inside the house or outside where your waste goes. And it won't hang around like an unwanted guest after you use it - on floors, carpets, counters, clothes, and so forth."

One of the most effective and well known "Green" product lines is Shaklee's Get Clean. It has been featured on the Oprah Show and on Rachel Rae. Get Clean products are nontoxic, natural and never tested on animals. According to Rachel Rae the products in the Get Clean starter kit "provide you with a combination of really great cleaning power but also they're non-toxic, they are economic, and they are safe for you, your home, and most importantly, the planet."

No matter how hard you try, it is still possible that your beloved pet comes in contact with something dangerous to her health. That is why the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends pet owners keep a "Pet First Aid Kit" that includes:

- Fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)

- Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)

- Saline eye solution

- Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)

- Mild grease-cutting dish-washing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)

- Forceps (to remove stingers)

- Muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)

- Can of your pet's favorite wet food

- Pet carrier

The ASPCA recommends you always consult a veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) for directions on how and when to use any emergency first-aid item. We also suggest that you keep the telephone number of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center-(888) 426-4435-as well as that of your local veterinarian in a prominent location. More information is available on the ASPCA web site,

The Pet Poison Helpline handles some 100,000 cases of pet poisoning each year. They have compiled a "Poison Proof Your Home" list. It includes items like:

• Identify your plants. Are they toxic to pets?

• Keep medications safely locked up behind cupboard doors. Do not leave them on counter tops or tables. This includes inhalers, dietary aids, dietary supplements or neutraceuticals!

• Keep home fragrance products beyond their reach.

• Keep rodenticides far away from a pet's access. Keep in mind that rodents can transfer the toxins to accessible locations. Certain rodenticide products do not have treatment antidotes.

• Know what a product's active ingredient is and potential toxicity for pets.

• Do not spray aerosols or use any heavily fragranced products (including plug-in products) around caged birds or other caged pets.

• Never medicate your pets with human products without first speaking to a veterinary professional!

• Keep open dishes of potpourri (liquid or dry form) out of reach.

• Do not use insecticides around your pet without knowing their toxicological profile. Read labels and use products only as recommended.

• Keep garbage behind closed doors.

• Do not allow batteries of any type lying around. Dogs enjoy chewing on them which can result in serious harm if ingested.

(The complete list may be found at

Finally, remember there are a number of food products that are toxic to your pet. Products such as chocolate, chewing gum, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, or garlic should never be left somewhere that your pet may be tempted to take a taste test. Often kitchens may contain many toxins to pets such as cigarette and other nicotine products, coffee grounds, alcoholic beverages, moldy dairy products, & chicken bones. Keep these items in closed cabinets, closed refrigerators or in closed trash containers, away from the reach of our curious little friends.

Have the phone number for your veterinarian easily accessible. It's also a good idea to keep the local pet poison control hot-line with your emergency phone numbers.

Our pets can provide years of affection and companionship. Take a few minutes today to make your home environment one that is safer for your pet. In the long run you will benefit in so many ways.

Wendy Re Boyd is the owner and president of Greener Living, an eco-consulting firm, located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Greener Living helps families have greener, safer and healthier homes. Wendy is also a Shaklee Independent Distributor. She and her husband, Keats, together with their children, their Golden Retriever, rabbit and two cats reside on Cape Cod. You can learn more about Get Clean by calling (508) 428-6154 or by visiting or

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