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Playing Ball with Multiple Dogs
by Sheila Hrabal, Irving Pets Examiner
For pet owners that have more than one dog, playing ball can be a challenge.

Ball games help keep your dogs from being bored and provide needed exercise. Most dogs need sustained exercise at least twice a day for 20 minutes to keep their hearts and muscles healthy. Here are a few tips that can lead to your success in this endeavor.

First, make sure you have one ball for each dog and that each dog "knows" which ball belongs to him/her. You will have to experiment because all dogs are different and some prefer tires or treat balls, while others prefer different sizes or certain colors of balls. There are all types of toys made for dogs, but this article deals with balls you have around the house. Since dogs don't see colors like humans do, they will choose light or dark balls; some only like striped balls because they look like they are gyrating and add more interest to the chase. Be sure you do not give your dog a Styrofoam or foam rubber ball as he/she may chew it and swallow parts of it!

It is easiest to play with one dog alone to see if he/she can understand basic commands such as "fetch" or "get the ball" and "drop it". Once one dog understands the concept and has chosen his/her ball, you may introduce a second or third dog into play time. It is important that each dog has their own ball or else the alpha dog will always get it, leaving the other dog(s) without play. For example, I have a Dalmatian that loves playing with an old soccer ball that she has almost totally deflated. As soon as she deflated the ball, she realized that it would still roll, but that she could now carry the ball around the yard. She now has no interest in smaller balls. On the other hand, my Boxer has decided that small, dark orange balls are her favorite. She just isn't interested in any size larger than a tennis ball, or pale-colored balls.

When I began playing ball with them in the back yard, I had to be sure I had their attention by introducing their respective balls. A great way to keep one dog from hogging all the balls thrown is to throw both balls at the same time in different directions. This will keep the dogs focused on their individual ball while preventing arguments over who is to retrieve which ball.

Each time your dogs return the ball to you, be sure to reward each dog with generous ear scratches and verbal praise. If one dog takes another dog's ball, simply remove the incorrect ball, redirect the dog to his/her ball, state "this is YOUR ball” and starts the game over. Sometimes, you may need to use treats to get your dog started because they either don’t know how to play at all, or are unsure about what to do with the ball once they catch it.

Pick a time of day that is convenient for you and will enable the full 20-minute game. Keeping a consistent schedule will help your dog realize this is a daily occurrence and they will be calmer during the hours between play times. The process of playing ball with multiple dogs may take some time, depending on the size and breeds, but it is definitely exciting and helps keep your home and furniture from being rough-housed by a bored dog.

Soon, your dog will bring the ball to you because he/she has decided it's time to play!

Pets Can Also Develop Gum Disease
Cathy Rosenthal -

Dear Cathy: I have a new puppy that I took to the vet for a check-up. The vet told me I should begin brushing my puppy’s teeth. I looked at him like he was crazy. I mean, it’s a dog. Growing up, I had all sorts of dogs and we never brushed any of their teeth and we never had any problems. I doubt I will do this, but just wanted to ask, is this what vets now recommend for dogs or do I need to change vets?

Dear G.M.: No need to change vets. Vets know more about pets and oral hygiene today than they did when you or I were growing up, namely that more than 85 percent of all adult dogs and cats develop periodontal disease, some before they are 3 years old.

Brushing your dog’s teeth does not require you to teach him to rinse and spit. There’s special toothpaste that tastes like liver or chicken and that can be swallowed. And, you only have to brush the outside of their tooth surfaces. No flossing and no brushing inside the interiors of their teeth.

If you simply can’t see yourself brushing your dog’s teeth, then feed your dog biscuits and dental chew bones to reduce plaque build-up. As your pet ages, your vet may recommend occasional teeth cleanings. Don’t freak out; this is a normal recommendation, too. What you do is up to you, but keep in mind that “doggy breath” may be the an early signs of periodontal disease.

February is Pet Dental Health Month, when some vets offer specials on teeth cleanings.

Dear Cathy: We have a 6-year-old cat who prefers to be the only cat in the family. However, we found a cat that appears to have been abandoned. He was dangerously thin and is a sweet, loving boy (neutered) who just wants to be cuddled. We have been feeding him and have set up a bed in the garage, but he is so lonely and cries at the door to be let in.

My cat wants nothing to do with him although she tolerates him outside. When I let him into the house she hisses and is upset, but hasn’t attacked him. He wants to be friends with her, but she isn’t going for it. Is there any hope that she will ever accept him as another house cat? I hate to leave him outside all the time.

Suzanne C.

Dear Suzanne: Your cat’s hissing is normal. Cats are very territorial and your cat is just letting the other cat know the boundaries. So yes, with time, they can definitely get along and will even re-draw some boundaries with their hissing and spitting so they can eventually live peacefully side- by- side. It’s actually good that one is male and one is female since opposite sex friendships tend to form faster.

Be sure to set up a second litter box in neutral territory so as not to miff your female. And be patient as they work things out. As long as they are not hurting each other, the occasional hissing and posturing is all part of the process.

While the feline may definitely be the victim of a dumping, keep in mind, he could also have been lost for several weeks, thus the reason for his haggard appearance. Be sure to have the cat scanned for a microchip and check lost-pet ads, just in case he accidentally got away from his family. If this is the case, his owners might still be looking for him. If not, kudos to you for taking him in and giving him a new home. It sounds like things will work out fine.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or Cathy’s advice column runs Sundays.

A Tale of Cats vs. Rats in Epping
By JASON SCHREIBER - The Union Leader

EPPING - As soon as the town's recycling center shuts down for the night, Big Mama, Dudley and the rest of the gang begin to prowl.

"They know our hours better than our residents," Jim Freeman said of the nine feral cats credited with creating a nearly rodent-free recycling center.

The cats are always on the lookout for tasty rats and mice, and that's just what Freeman wants.

Freeman, the town's solid waste supervisor, said the cats have kept the rodent population way down. In fact, Freeman insists that the Epping recycling center is one of the cleanest around thanks to the work of the feral cats.

"I've been here for two years now and in that entire time I've seen two mice," Freeman said yesterday. "The trash is left here overnight and you can easily wind up having a really high rodent problem, but they keep it pretty clean."

Michael McKenzie, an Epping resident who also works at the center and helps feed the cats, said he hasn't seen any rodents since he started working there in September.

Workers have made the cats feel at home. They've created a makeshift cat condo in an empty bay at the center, providing shelter by placing cardboard boxes under a wooden desk and adding a dog house. Blankets and shirts sit on the floor next to two large bowls of cat food. Two of the cats have found shelter under an old boat abandoned across the street at the dump.

Freeman, McKenzie and other residents often bring in food for the cats, but they said they're always looking for donations.

Last month, Freeman began getting some help from Seacoast Area Feline Education and Rescue (SAFER), a Hampton-based nonprofit volunteer organization that humanely traps feral cats, provides medical care and spays or neuters them. The cats are released back into their home territory, unless they are adoptable.

Freeman said SAFER volunteers have been capturing some of the cats, checking them for disease, giving them rabies and distemper shots, and spaying or neutering them. The cats have then been returned to the recycling center to continue their hunt for rodents.

Selectman Dianne Gilbert praised Freeman's efforts to keep the center free of rodents and SAFER for providing care to the feral cats.

Big Mama, who had three litters in two years, has now been spayed thanks to SAFER volunteers.

For the most part, recycling center workers seem to enjoy having the cats around; some consider them mascots.

"They're kind of like pets around here," Freeman said.

Practice Makes Perfect When It Comes to Training Your Pet
by Judy Elliot, Boston Dogs Examiner

Excellent behavior in your best friend doesn't happen by accident.

A dog that is well behaved is a joy and happens because you are willing to take the time to create a bond. Here are some tips from behaviorists and trainers that will help you develop that wonderful bond:

* Keep your goals simple. Start with sit, stay, down, and the big important: come!

* Follow the advice of the professionals. If your dog comes from a shelter or a breeder, listen and learn.

* Read. There are many books available on training dogs.

* Watch. Saturday night there are numerous programs on Animal Planet that are great models.

* Keep regular exercise programs.

* Feed at regular times.

* Use even pleasant but commanding tones in your voice. Limit the number of words: be clear.

* Never be threatening.

* Praise often.

* Be consistent.

* Be patient.

When you have achieved your early goals, reward yourself and your pet with a trip to The Boston Harbor Hotel where pets are welcome and services include treats and a doggie bed - as long as your pet is a pleasure to have as a guest!

TIPS: Save Yourself a Trip to the Dog Groomer
BY KIM OSSI - McClatchy Newspapers

Everyone wants a Snuggie! Or a ShamWow! Or a Ped Egg!

OK, maybe not the Ped Egg.

But if you're a pet owner, you probably have at least pondered actually buying -- maybe for the first time ever -- one of those funny "As Seen On TV" items: The Pedi Paws Pet Nail Trimmer. Because it looks like it might just be the perfect solution to that ever-present nail-trimming problem -- and because it seems less scary than coming at your beloved Fluffy with a Dremel (which is essentially what this downgraded and specialized version is).

So, for you, we tried it on three different dogs. The instructions tell you to introduce the product to the dogs slowly -- not even trying the product on the dog until they get used to the sound and associating the tool with a treat. Well, we turned it on and could barely hear it whirring so we jumped right in.

Our first test subject, Maggie, is a 10-year-old springer spaniel. She eyed the tool suspiciously, but let us try it out on her fluffy mops for feet anyway. It worked pretty much as shown on the ads -- though not necessarily as quickly -- and she didn't seem to mind it too much.

For contrast, next we tried it on Gus, a 1-year-old Great Dane. He wasn't as thrilled to have us playing with his feet, but with regular use, I'm sure he'd get used to it. Now this is the unfortunate part. We tried -- really hard -- to trim his nails, because he really needed it. But the darn thing would stop spinning when we pressed hard enough to get anything but the teeniest, tiniest bit of nail sanded off. At that rate it would take days to trim one nail. The consensus was the motor just wasn't strong enough to tackle this giant and his superdoggy-strength nails. Maybe they'll come out with an "XL" version in the future to address this.

Finally, we tried it on Louie. He's an almost 2-year-old dalmatian mix and a rescue. He tends to be bothered by weird sounds so we weren't sure how he would react, but he, like Maggie, didn't seem to mind it. He let us try the sander on his toes and it worked much like it did on smaller Maggie.

Bottom line: The sound didn't seem to bother the animals. With conditioning, your pet probably would get used to having their nails trimmed -- just as they would if you used a clipper, but the sander seems safer and easier to use for pet-owners, which likely puts owners at ease, which in turn pacifies your pet, too. The caveat: If you have a big dog, save your $19.95 (plus shipping and handling) and spend it at the groomer instead.

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Make-Up Your Own Captions - Part III

Thanks to Kathy in Bhc, Az

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4 Easy Steps to Prevent and Treat Pet Urinary Stones
By Laura Ramirez

Pet urinary stones, like urinary tract infections, are fairly common. Female pets get them more often than males and smaller breeds are more susceptible than large breads. As you may know, bladder stones can be quite painful. By reading this article, you'll learn 4 ways to prevent and treat bladder stones.

Pet's Urinary Stones - Definition and the Cause

Urinary stones, bladder stones and struvite crystals are different names for the same condition. Made up of minerals (ammonium urate, struvite, cystine calculi and calcium oxalate) that build up in the urethra and block it, they making urination difficult and painful for your pet. Since urination is one of the important ways the body gets rid of toxins, this is a condition that must be addressed immediately. As you can guess, untreated pet urinary stones can lead to more serious complications.

If you suspect your pet has bladder stones, take her to the vet for a diagnosis. The type of bladder stone dictates the treatment. If your pet has struvite bladder stones, then you are in luck because you can easily treat this condition with diet and natural remedies. Struvite bladder stones dissolve as you take the steps to make your dog's bladder system more acidic. For treatment of other types of stones, consult with your vet.

If your pet has struvite bladder stones, start treatment immediately, but also keep your pet on a prevention program after the stones have dissolved because once your pet has suffered with pet's urinary stones, she is more susceptible to recurring issues.

4 Steps to Treat and Prevent Pet Urinary Stones

--Make sure you give your dog food that is free of chemicals, preservatives and fillers. Read labels until you find a brand that meets these guidelines and that your dog enjoys. Processed food is just as unhealthy for dogs as it is for humans. Healthy, nutrient-dense food promotes a healthy bladder.

--Make sure your dog can drink as much fresh, clean water as needed.

--Make sure your dog has access to the yard. Holding urine can lead to pet urinary tract infections, bladder stones and other serious complications. If you need to, hire a dog walker or install a doggie door.

--Get your dog a natural remedy to support bladder health. These supplements are strong enough to eliminate infections and dissolve pet's urinary stones, yet gentle enough to use every day for prevention.

So there you have it-four simple steps to treat pet urinary stones and prevent them from recurring. It's important to note that the last step, giving your pet a natural remedy is a key component to supporting bladder health, particularly for pets with recurring problems. By finding a good supplement and giving it daily, your pet's bladder issues should disappear completely.

If you have not given your pet natural supplements for pet urinary stones before, you should know that not all supplements are created equal. When recommending a natural remedy, I advise three important things: look for a remedy that comes in granule form and is easy to administer (you just drop some granules in your pet's mouth or sprinkle on top of food), look for a company that stands behind their product with a money-back guarantee and find a supplement that has ingredients like staphysagris, cantharsis and berberis, which are proven to treat and prevent pet urinary stones of the struvite variety and urinary infections as well.

In conclusion, you can easily treat and prevent pet's urinary stones by following this simple program. After your pet has recovered, remember that prevention is the key to health.

Laura Ramirez is a passionate advocate of natural remedies that heal disorders and keep pets vibrant and healthy. Find out more about safe, effective ways to maintain your pet's urinary tract health by reading Laura's findings at

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Tips For a Fabulous Doggy Birthday Party
By Nancy Cope

Who to Invite

The dogs you invite to the birthday party could make or break the festivities. If the dogs don't get along then fights could break out which would really put a damper on the spirit of the party. Try inviting dogs you know your pooch is friendly with, such as neighbor's dogs or dogs from the dog park. The more familiar the dogs are with each other the easier it will be for them to socialize.

The Food

It is important to have a separate menu for the dogs, because human food is full of sugars and fats that are bad for animals. There are many recipes for wholesome dog treats, and you can even bake a dog cake at home with carob chips or meat flavors. Try to have each owner give his or her dog food directly, because food left on the ground is just begging for a squabble.

Play Games!

Don't just sit there; get your guests involved and active! Dogs love to play games, and they love the rewards even more. Try playing doggy musical chairs, where the guests circle until the music stops, and then each dog has to sit. The last dog to sit is out, and so on. Have prizes for the winners, both human and canine.

Keep it Brief

Dogs reach a point where all the noise and social activity simply becomes too much. The ideal time for a dog party to run is about an hour. After this most dogs have simply had enough, and would probably enjoy a nice long nap.

Other things to remember: set out lots of water and a large trash can for any waste. Also, don't forget to thank your guests for coming! Have fun planning your dog's birthday, I'm sure he'll have a blast.

Article by Nancy Cope of Pampered Dog Gifts - the place to shop for dog gift baskets, gourmet dog treats, fancy dog collars and designer dog beds.

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How to Declaw Your Cat
By Kiya Sama

Almost all veterinarians agree that only indoor cats, if any, should be declawed. Claws represent safety-an escape up a tree or a set of weapons in a fight. A declawed cat becomes merely prey, a most uncatlike position in life. Moreover, a cat uses its claws to alleviate itches. Many cat organizations will not allow declawed cats to enter shows.

If you insist on having your cat declawed, your veterinarian will put it under a general anesthesia for the operation, which involves a complete removal of the cat's claws, usually front feet only. If declawing is not done properly, with a complete removal of the germinal cells from which claws grow, claws may regrow, but be misshapen.

Ideally, the operation should be done between three and four months, but it can be done at any age. Why is declawing even a question? The answers: shredded furniture or shredded owners. Scratching is a natural activity for the cat. It needs to sharpen its claws and clean them. But not on your good furniture! The solution to shredded furniture: buy a scratching post and teach the cat to use it. If the cat shreds you, trim your cat's nails so it will do less damage. Here's how:

--Buy special nail clippers at your pet store.

--Find another person to hold the cat, because (at least at first) cats are not fond of this procedure.

--Take the toe between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze to extend the claw.

--Then trim off only the top. Avoid the quick, the pink part.

This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pets.

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Never Underestimate the ‘Unapparent’ Dangers of an Unleashed Dog
by Deni Goldman, Boston Animal Advocate Examiner

This morning I received an interesting call from a local resident. He had gone outside to warm up his truck before leaving for work. After going back inside his house to retrieve his work gear, his lunch, and his cell phone, he returned to his truck to find that he had locked the truck with the keys in the ignition. He was now locked out of his truck – and his house.

Fortunately, he had his cell phone, and was able to contact a friend, who picked him up, drove him to his office (where he had a spare set of keys), and drove him back to his house.

When the man first left with his friend to go to his office to pick up his spare keys, he left his work gear and his lunch on the driveway, leaning against the door of his truck. No biggie - it’s pretty cold out – his lunch will keep.

When he returned forty-five minutes later, to his surprise, one of his neighbor’s dogs was devouring his lunch!

Funny? Well, maybe a little, for those of us who know how finely tuned a dog’s nose is – to locate something to eat, even though the food is outside where its twenty degrees, in individual sandwich bags, inside a soft, cooler-type lunch bag. Not bad for an untrained canine!

The less humorous part, one of the items inside that lunch bag was chocolate. As all veterinarians know, and hopefully all pet owners, chocolate contains theobromine, which can be extremely toxic to dogs.

We are all well familiar with the obvious dangers to which our dogs are susceptible when they are unleashed – traffic, wildlife encounters, hyperthermia, etc. For those who remain unconcerned about those particular apparent threats, perhaps you have not considered what your dog might be ingesting, without your knowledge, while he is out gallivanting in the community.

Being aware of what is eaten by your pet is key to keeping him healthy – and in some cases, keeping him alive. The only way to ensure that what he eats is safe, is to be sure he is not eating anything in your absence. Please find the lesson in this story.

In Massachusetts, cities and towns have Leash Laws, which specify that any person owning, keeping, or being responsible for a dog shall not allow the dog to run at large on any of the streets or public places in the community without a leash.

Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
by Laura Kepner, Tampa Pet Services Examiner

Finally, someone has written the book on how to be an effective medical advocate for your dog!. Nancy Kay, DVM is the author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life. She is a board certified specialist in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and published in several professional journals and textbooks.

If you are like me and wonder if you are making the right decisions in your dog’s medical care, this book is worth reading. Dr. Kay’s advice covers many subjects including how to find a vet you and your dog are comfortable visiting, what questions you should ask when in the vet’s office, advice on affording veterinary care and answers regarding pet health insurance.. She also covers sensitive issues, such as making decisions on cancer treatments and recognizing the signs when your dog is ready to say goodbye. offers generous glimpses into the book and Advocacy Aids which Dr. Kay invites you to download and print at no cost:
“Here are the health forms and templates described in Speaking for Spot that will help you excel as your dog’s medical advocate. I invite you to download, print, and use them to help manage your dog’s health care needs.” Dr. Nancy Kay from

When people like Dr. Kay offer information on helping our canine friends live longer, stronger and healthier lives, it is a wonderful opportunity for us as caregivers to take advantage of her wisdom and support in becoming informed.

Microworms - How This Live Food Benefits Your Fish
by John Thistle

One of the most popular types of live food for your fish is microworms which are widely used by fish breeders. Because of the ease with which they can be kept in any home, both small scale breeders and large fish farms use microworms as an early fish food. By feeding microworms, your fish will have faster growth rates, brighter colors, and better health!

Microworms are nematodes that are free-living and non-parasitic. They are also called Panagrellus redivivus in scientific nomenclature. Adult microworms are up to 3 mm long, yet extremely thin. They are ideal as a first food for babies of a wide range of fish species. Young fish are attracted by their constant squiggling. This live food is great for such fish as danios, guppies, bettas, gouramies and many other freshwater fish species.

Adding microworms to the diet of your baby fish will definitely help speed up their growth. Most breeders have come to realize that live foods are sought after by fry (newborn fish) and are readily accepted. A drop of microworms will create a cloud of food that attracts the attention of the babies who will want to eat as much as they can! Fish that have live food constantly available will easily outgrow those that are fed only prepared foods.

Microworms are a great source of amino acids, fats, and other nutrients that are in high demand by young fish. Those fish that are fed a well-balanced diet that includes microworms can easily create the compounds that provide their flashy colors. Therefore, microworms are a great live food to improve the diet of fish that are brightly colored.

Also, including microworms in the foods you use for your baby fish will enhance their health overall. A varied diet helps improve the fish’s immune system and they will be better able to fend themselves from bacteria and other parasites that could harm them. A balanced diet that includes microworms will help improve your fish’s health and also allow them to develop their natural hunting technique as they look for prey.

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