Pet Advice, Pet News & Pet Information

Hope you enjoy today's post. I'll be heading south this week for some 'Fun-in-the-Sun'. New posts will resume on Sunday. Thanks for stopping by!

Tips for Getting Medication Down Easier
By Julie Damron -

Getting your dog or cat to take medication can be challenging. Not every dog or cat is willing to let you force a pill down his or her throat, and liquids may not be much easier. Some tricks may work initially but the process may become more difficult as products are repeatedly given. This makes caring for your cherished companion difficult and can be frustrating if the medication is needed long-term.

When concealing medication in foods such as cream cheese, peanut butter, or canned food doesn't work, try Pill Pockets. These are hollow nuggets of soft food in a variety of flavors into which a pill can be inserted. This product has been very successful in dogs and cats.

When crushing a tablet in canned food or liquid doesn't work, consider compounding. Our clinic has successfully used a local compounding pharmacy for several years. They are able to blend medications into a variety of flavored liquids such as chicken and bubble gum. Depending on the stability of the compound, this product can be mixed for a two-week to several-month supply.

When liquids are not a viable option, consider transdermal treatment. This process doesn't work with all medications, and your veterinarian can coordinate with the pharmacist for your companion. In a transdermal formulation, the medication is made into an ointment that is then placed on the inside of your pet's ear. When using this therapy, it is recommended to alternate ears with each treatment, and to clean your pet's ears at least twice a week.

A longer term veterinary injectable antibiotic, Convenia, is now available. This product is given in the clinic, and then no medication is dispensed to go home. It lasts for seven to 14 days, and has broad spectrum antibacterial coverage in dogs and cats. Currently it is approved to treat a specific episode of infection, as opposed to long-term chronic use. Your veterinarian can advise you regarding using this product for your companion.

Julie Damron is a veterinarian at Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton. Contact her at

What You Can Do About Cat Overpopulation
Laurel Hodkin - Ithaca Journal

It's calm and very pleasant at our SPCA shelter these days. There are even some empty cages. Staff members have time to fulfill their duties and spend a little extra time with a scared cat or a rambunctious dog. New shelter management means friendlier relations with the public we are here to serve, improved volunteer training with an emphasis on inclusion and tender loving care for our animals. Our medical staff, led by a full-time veterinarian, provides first-rate medical care to our dogs and cats, and wonderful advice to the rest of us. Our supportive volunteer network maintains a brisk dialogue on our list-serv; this is where we swap tips, suggestions and worries about individual animals and shelter practices.

Staff members have painted walls, initiated hands-on trainings and instigated individualized behavioral plans and enrichment activities to perk up our dogs and cats. It's a grand shelter. This tranquility will soon be shattered by the onslaught of kitten season. Within weeks, our shelter will be overcrowded with kittens and cats.

As an adoption guarantee (no kill) shelter we do not euthanize any adoptable animal (no matter how crowded the shelter gets). We will need plenty of community help to get our animals through the hectic summer. Can you adopt, foster kittens, donate kitten supplies? In the coming weeks, we will need canned food for cats and dogs, kitten milk-replacer, and bags of Purina kitten chow and Iam's kitten chow.

Our kittens come from diverse sources, even Dumpsters. Perhaps the mother cat is unable to suckle her kittens so they are brought to the shelter and go into foster care to be bottle-fed, or they are rescued from barns and other feral colonies, or irresponsible caretakers abandon them. (If you need to rescue a litter of kittens, try to wait - leave them with their mother cat - until they are at least five weeks old. Mother cat's milk is always better than human substitutes).

Despite an aggressive spay and neuter policy by our shelter and others, we continue to have too many felines in Tompkins County. The larger, systemic strategy remains: Trying to reduce the number of cats and kittens in our county. Here is where we can all help by educating ourselves and our acquaintances with the following information:

* All cats should be spayed and neutered. It is not humane to allow cats to reproduce; nor is it ethical to purchase kittens from a pet store.

* Our shelter offers inexpensive spay and neutering for all low-income households.

* Our shelter supports Trap, Neuter, Release for feral cats and will alter any wild cat for free. They often return these cats to barn situations or other places that can agree to provide these feral cats with shelter and regular food.

* Don't turn your head away from cats living under abandoned trailers, your neighbors' deck, or wherever you see them. Abandoned cats suffer from parasites, dehydration, malnutrition and freezing temperatures. Help them out.

* For a $50 deposit, our shelter will loan you a trap to catch abandoned cats and bring them in to be neutered. We urgently need more dog and cat traps.

* Please donate traps or earmark shelter donations for Safeguard traps. Safeguard traps are structurally excellent and economical. To order Safeguard traps, go to The feral cat-raccoon trap is 30x11x12 with slide release back, code #NWS52830 and costs $38.95 plus shipping. The dog trap is 48x15x22 with slide release back, code #NWS52848 and costs $111.95 plus shipping.

* I know three women in our county who trap ferals in a housing project, barns and a mobile home park, respectively. On a regular basis, they take the time to catch these cats before they reproduce. We can't afford to be squeamish; we all can learn to trap. It's not very pleasant work, but it is very important and humane work. (Two tips are: Check the traps often and always keep traps covered with a sheet during and after trapping. Wild cats are less terrified and frantic when the trap is covered).

* The shelter telephone is 257-1822. Shelter hours are noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Monday, noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and closed Wednesdays.

Thank you for whatever you can do to help.

Laurel Hodkin is a foster caretaker and volunteer at the Tompkins County SPCA.

Keep Your Pet Looking and Feeling Good
By Dr. Tracy Acosta - McClatchy Newspapers

Good grooming can help track your pet's health. Here are some basic pet care tips.
Proper hygiene and grooming have a number of benefits and are important aspects of your pet's overall health. There are definitely certain breeds of dogs and cats that require much higher maintenance than others.

In fact, daily and weekly grooming needs are important factors to consider when choosing a new pet. If you are truly not willing to or able to devote the necessary time to properly care for some of these high maintenance breeds, please choose one of the many other breeds that do not involve such a time requirement.

As a veterinarian, one of the most frustrating things I see are the pets that come in for an examination and are so poorly maintained with basic grooming needs, that it causes an unhealthy pet. As a responsible pet owner you must commit yourself to have your pet properly maintained throughout your pet's life. Most pet owners start off adequately, but often have a tendency to let this significant aspect of their pet's health wane, especially as they get older than 10 years of age. However, it is during those geriatric years that most pets deserve and require proper grooming more than ever.

The dogs and cats that need frequent grooming can often be done at home for routine daily care, but it is often quite beneficial to use the services of a professional groomer at least occasionally to truly keep your pet's grooming needs in check.

Grooming your pet yourself is a great way to keep tabs on what is going on with your pet's body. By establishing a grooming routine early in your pet's life, you will quickly learn what is normal for your pet. Anything unusual will stand out, often allowing you to catch problems such as ear infections, skin disease, parasite infections and skin growths before they become serious.

Following those few concepts produces a lifelong trust between you and your pet and also teaches your pet to be more comfortable about being handled by you, a veterinarian, a professional groomer and all who enjoy your pet's company.


Brushing is the foundation of good grooming for all pets of all coat lengths. It loosens and removes dirt, dead hair and skin cells, distributes the skin's natural oils through the coat and prevents tangles in long-haired pets. The type of brush you will use depends on your pet's coat. Be sure to brush down to the skin, not just over the surface of the coat. The amount and frequency of brushing depends on your pet's coat and lifestyle. Consult with your veterinarian or professional groomer on what is best for your particular pet.


For those pets whose coats must be styled, clipped, stripped or other complicated techniques, it is often best to leave the job to a professional groomer. The critical areas on all of these pets are considered the feet, face, ears and rear end. One particularly tough area to groom is the area around the eyes. If left unkempt, the hair can start irritating the eyes and cause numerous problems. Another example is the rear end section. When properly groomed, your pet will not bring in the feces that should have been left in the yard.


Use a shampoo that is formulated for pets. Your pet's skin has a different pH level than ours, so a human shampoo (even human baby shampoo) will strip away beneficial skin oils. You can find a wide array of pet shampoos available to suit any pet's particular needs. Consult with your veterinarian on what will keep your pet's skin and coat in top condition.

No matter what type of shampoo you use, thorough rinsing is a must. After bathing, you can towel dry or blow dry your pet's coat dry. Regardless, be sure to keep your pet from getting chilled after a bath.


It is important to check and clean your pet's ears on a regular basis. Obviously, some pets (i.e. spaniels and retrievers) will require more attention than others. Typically, pets whose ears stand erect have far fewer problems than those with floppy ears. Always clean and dry your pet's ears after bathing and swimming. Again, it is important to use a product that is designed for cleaning a pet's ears, since the ear canal and ear drum are very sensitive areas. So, it is preferable that you not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide because they can be too harsh.

Certain dog breeds also need to have hair routinely plucked from the ear canals. Not properly plucking the hair on a regular basis can cause ear problems and infections.


Most pet's nails grow quickly, so regular trimming is a must. Puppies and kittens especially, have super sharp, fast-growing nails. So, keep them trimmed regularly to accustom your pet to trimming and to prevent painful gouges in your skin.

Nail trimming often involves much howling on the part of the pet and flinching on the part of the owner. With care and early training, you can accomplish this task without trauma for either you or your pet. If you cannot stand the fuss your pet puts up, have a groomer or veterinarian do the task.

Both you and your pet will benefit in many ways by keeping grooming an important priority. You will enjoy being around a cleaner and happier pet, while your pet's basic hygiene maintenance will result in better health as well.

Dr. Tracy Acosta is a veterinarian at Biloxi Animal Hospital.

How to Prevent Dog Bites in the Home
Stephanie Modkins - Dogs Examiner

Dog bite insurance claims are common amongst homeowners.

According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4.5 million people are bitten in the U.S. every year. Why is this number of dog bites so high? People fail to do common sense things to prevent them. They are things we all can do to help decrease the risk of a dog bite happening in our home without spending a lot of money.

1) Make use of a good fence.

Fences do make good neighbors especially if you own a dog. Keep this in mind and put one up if you own a pet dog. It will help keep him from straying into a neighbors yard and attacking someone because he’s stimulated in a “new” or “wrong” way.

2) Take action if your dog is a bitter.

Let’s face it. Some dogs are bitters. Either it’s do to poor training from a prior owner or a past trauma. Regardless, once you see that your dog is bent in this way, you have to act. Contact a vet to see if his behavior has a medical basis. Move him to a less stressful environment. Do the unthinkable and put him down. (Yes, I said it!) You don’t want the moral or financial responsibility of owning a dog that may eventually mangle or kill another dog or human. It’s an awful burden to bear.

3) Teach your children “dog etiquette” early.

Kids are often the victims of dog bites because they don’t know “dog etiquette.” Toddlers don’t understand that it is aggravating to a dog if he’s grabbed and hung by the tail or pulled by the ears. So, it’s your job to teach your child. Start instructing your child as soon as he can crawl. It is the best way to protect him and your dog from an unfortunate incident.

4) Keep your dog away from “new” company.

Planning a 4th of July celebration? Inviting your long lost relatives over for Christmas? If so, set up a special place in your home to stash your dog. No, it doesn’t have to be for the whole visit. You just need to give your dog and company time to adjust to each other.

5) Select a breed that is “right” for your family.

Certain breeds don’t do well with children or big families. As a result, before you purchase your child his first dog, do your homework. Find out if the dog is compatible with your lifestyle. You can do this by “Googling” the breed on the Internet and finding out the details about it. Also, you can take the dog home temporarily for a day or two. These things will help you figure out how your potential new dog will fit in or out with your family.

These 5 tips will help you prevent dog bites in your home.

Aging Gracefully
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett of the Journal Sentinel

Older dogs return love when care is tossed their way

Dee Dee has lost her hearing as she’s grown older but not her enthusiasm. Older dogs, if given the special care they need, will be your best friend forever.

Even at age 91, Dee Dee, a Bayside resident, refuses to retire.

She visits nursing homes and hospitals, comforting patients there.

She gives educational demonstrations at schools.

Dee Dee is a part-time therapist and full-time Brittany spaniel. She's 13 years old - nine decades-plus in human years - but she's ready to share play dates and companionship any time.

Her owner, Connie Peterson, says that Dee Dee is living proof that older dogs (age about 7 and up) can not only learn new tricks but also, with some extra care, take pride of pack in any home.

Senior dogs won the spotlight last month when Stump, a 10-year-old, fetched the best in show cup at the Westminster Kennel Club Show. The Sussex spaniel was the oldest dog ever to take the top title at Westminster, and he showed the pups how it's done by performing a perfect sit-up for the international cameras after his win.

Another elder dog was in the news just last week. Chanel, a 20-year-old dachshund in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., was certified as the world's oldest living dog by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Chanel and Stump are the most famous senior dogs right now, but most others are heart-winners, too.

"Older dogs give back all the love you give them," Peterson says. "As a therapy dog, Dee Dee does bedside visits to hospice patients and oncology patients, and you can visibly see people relax when she curls up next to them. Also, older dogs move at a slower pace than young dogs, and a good walk is enough to satisfy them."

In fact, senior dogs have lots of great traits.

"They know the ropes," says Angela Speed, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Humane Society. "They're patient and wise, making it easier to assimilate them into a new home. Their personalities are already developed, and their behavior is more predictable than a puppy."

Senior dogs are also more likely to be housebroken, and they love to learn. But they do require some care tailored to their needs.

For instance, Dee Dee is hearing-impaired, so on walks Peterson puts a vibrating collar on her to signal Dee Dee to follow hand commands.

To experience the joy of an older dog, pet guardians need to be aware of the special status of senior dogs. One of the most important is the need to remain a vibrant part of the family.

Teach your old dog new tricks, and buy it a new toy to keep its mind active. Keep your dog near you at home and praise it often to make sure your senior knows it's still part of the family.

• Sensitivity to heat and cold: "Always provide a comfortable, temperate space for them," says Jane Pohlman, Wisconsin Humane Society veterinarian. That may mean using a blanket or air conditioning.

• Arthritis: By age 12, 90% of dogs have some level of arthritis, says Nan Boss, veterinarian at the Best Friends Veterinary Center in Grafton. Dogs show early symptoms of arthritis if they're slow to stand up, have difficulty doing stairs, can't walk as far as usual and "just lope rather than run after squirrels," says Boss. Treatments options include medications, diet and holistic approaches.

• Dental disease: Bacterial buildup can mean big infection trouble for senior dogs. So "Flip the lip," says Boss. Pull your dog's upper lip back and check the back molars for brown tartar buildup. Bad doggie breath is another symptom. It may be time for a vet appointment where doctors can clean the dog's teeth after sedating the dog with the safe anesthetics available today.

• Organ dysfunction: "Often you don't see heart, kidney, liver or other problems until we do blood work," says Boss. Veterinarians suggest senior dogs get more frequent checkups, at least twice a year.

• Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: "As the brain ages, we start to see behavior changes: repetitive motion things, circling, forgetting their commands," says Boss. Your vet may be able to suggest medication to help. Experts also suggest you give older dogs fresh experiences - new toys, a new walk path - to keep their minds challenged.

• Diet: According to a recent study released by Purina, proper nutrition can add years to the life of your dog. Your vet can help you find the right food and supplements to maintain weight and help your dog's health in other ways. Omega3 fatty acids (fish oil) are particularly good for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases (these oils are best obtained through a pet's food).

• Sight and hearing: Because dogs can compensate with other senses, the loss of one of these abilities may not be as crippling as owners fear. Talk to your vet about ways to treat eye and ear conditions. Everyday tips include keeping your elderly dog's home and yard well-lighted, removing loose rugs and teaching hand signals.

• Cancer: "Fifty percent of dogs over age 12 are going to die of cancer," says Boss. Check your older dog for lumps and changes in behavior that might be early signs of cancer. If you catch the disease early, "half of all cancers in dogs can be cured by surgery," says Boss.

• Elevated dishes realign the dog's neck and spine to let arthritic dogs eat and drink without painful bending. Sources include: Elevated Dog Bowls at and, for fun designer bowls, check out Whiner and Diner at

• Dog lifts. These gentle, hand-held lifts support and lift arthritic and handicapped dogs and help them navigate steps. Available at pet supply outlets and online at such sites as

• Dog ramps. Can be used to help dogs up stairs and in and out of cars. Available online at such sites as

• Orthopedic beds. Available at most larger pet stores.

• Specialized boarding. If you need overnight or day boarding for your senior, try using a facility that specializes in canine geriatric service. For instance, North Shore Pet Connection, 5810 N. Green Bay Ave., covers geriatric needs with senior-appropriate exercise and bedding. Available by appointment only at (414) 352-8464.

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How Cats Age
Christine Church - Hartford Cat Examiner

Is your cat beginning to gray around the whiskers? Or lazing around the house more and more, eating less and becoming crankier? She may be showing the signs of old age. At one time it was unusual for a cat to live past the age of 10 or 12. But now, with modern medicine, more people keeping their cats indoors, proper care and love, it is not uncommon to see a cat that is 17 or even 20 years old.

Part of your responsibility when you acquire that cute little kitten is seeing her through her geriatric years. You lived with your cat, grew with your cat, shared happiness and tears with your cat. Now it’s time to share in her old age and provide her with extra care during these sensitive years. The old adage that one year of a cat’s life is equivalent to seven years of a human’s is a misconception. If that were true, a one-year-old cat would be the equivalent of a seven-year-old child. But a cat is psychologically and sexually mature at one year of age, while a seven-year-old child is not.

Rather, if you were to compare cat years with human years, you’d find cats age quicker than humans, and in stages. So a one-year-old cat is roughly equivalent to a human of approximately 18. A cat that is seven years old is reaching middle age. A 14-year-old cat is believed to be equal to a human in her 70s.

Although each cat ages at her own rate, just as humans do, an eight- to 10-year-old cat is considered at the beginning of her geriatric years. Cats over the age of 10 years should have yearly geriatric screenings, along with their inoculations. As their bodies change, older cats may develop problems with their bowels that can cause constipation, diarrhea or incontinence. If any problems should occur, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately.

Hearing and eyesight may begin to fail in an older cat, so steps should be taken to ensure the cat’s safety. Cats may lose their eyesight due to glaucoma or cataracts. Cats usually adjust quite well to blindness. There are precautions you must take, however. Sharp objects should be removed and access to high places should be secured or blocked off. Do not move things around; a blind cat will become familiar with the placement of things and may become confused if things are placed differently. My blind cat, Teisha, gets around fine as long as everything is kept in its place, but the moment something is moved she becomes disoriented. Before touching or handling a blind cat, let your approach be known by speaking to the cat softly beforehand.

Diet, exercise, grooming, nutrition, love, comfort and good medical care are all major factors for you to consider as your cat gets on in years.

Hyperthermia and Our Pets
Amanda Bussen - San Diego Pet Services Examiner

The commencement of spring is upon us and, already, the heat of summer is planning its invasion tactics. Will it creep up on us softly in the stillness of one morning, or will the sun’s beams bust through the sky in a sudden attack and scorch us where we stand? At any rate, one very significant issue is at hand, how will we protect our pets from this all-encompassing heat?

Hyperthermia, or the overheating of the body, can do tremendous damage to anyone. When a human being begins to heat up, we sweat. When the sweating starts, we tend to go into the air conditioning or drink a tall glass of ice water. But, our pets do not sweat; they can only cool themselves by panting and, in doing so, only heat themselves up more. Those pets whom are short-nosed, infant, geriatric, or obese will have an even harder time releasing heat through panting and that is why they are on the list of those most susceptible to hyperthermia (or heat stroke).

Once the body has reached a temperature of 105 degrees or more, systems begin shutting down in order to keep oxygen to the brain. In doing this, cells and organs become damaged or irreparable due to lack of oxygen. In some cases, the brain swells or begins hemorrhaging (bleeding). Ultimately, if an animal remains with a high temperature for too long, it will die.

At this point, you may be asking, “How do I know when my pet has hyperthermia?” and the answer is that there are several signs your pet will show and you need to be aware of what to look for. First, notice their breathing. If this is your feline friend, realize that they do not do much panting to cool down and if you see your cat panting, take it to the nearest Veterinary Hospital right away. If this is your doggy and they are panting, begin looking for further signs including a fast paced heart rate, red, white, or grey gums and tongue, a temperature above 104 degrees, lethargy, foaming at the mouth, vomiting, and possibly, seizure activity. Make a note of everything that you check and what time it was when you did so; call your Veterinarian while on route for treatment.

It is a good idea to have some cool cloths wrapped around your pet on the way to the hospital. Make sure nothing cold is used because cooling your pet down too fast will cause hypothermia, which is the other extreme. If you are using a cooling measure, make sure you are checking your pet’s temperature every few minutes, note any changes and stop cooling when your pet’s temperature reaches 102 degrees.

Please note that hyperthermia (heat stroke) is completely preventable and yet, it sadly seems to happen all too often in our pets. Prevent it by keeping your pets inside as much as possible during those heated months, make sure your pet has cool clean water at all times and a shady place to rest when outside. Check on them often during the day if they are outside alone or hire a local pet sitter to do the job for you. Visit the links below for more information and a pet sitting company that may be able to help if extra care is needed for your pets when you are not home.

Reese Witherspoon: Buys Pet Pig, Bans Pork from Diet
Tiffany Warner - LA Celebrity Gossip Examiner

Oscar winning actress Reese Witherspoon has been forced to ban pork from her diet, after buying her young daughter Ava a pet pig.

Apparently Ava, 9, named her new pet after civil rights leader Booker T. Washington and has fallen in love with him. The Reese mini-me has even pressured her mom to ban all pig products from their home.

The “Walk The Line” star explains, "His name's Booker T. Washington - my daughter is studying American history. She won't eat pork, she won't eat bacon, and I have to be very careful with what I eat."

How cute!

Jennifer Brown Column: Humans Find Delight in Pets’ Weird Quirks

My boxer moos. Oh, I guess technically you’d call it a moan or maybe a deep whine, but it sounds for all the world like a moo. It usually happens when he’s worried. He’ll come right up to my face, waggle his little boxer stub tail and… “mooof.”

I know that this may make me an anomaly in suburbia, but I like vocal animals. I mean, I really like them. Give me a barking dog over a droning lawnmower any day. Got a roofing project going on? The hammering of shingles will send me into fits long before a yapping yorkie. Vocal animals are cool.

It’s why I love basset hounds so much. Not only are they vocal, but they have such cool voices. Deep. Throaty. Half-howl, half-bark. I imagine if my basset hound were human, she’d sing Italian opera and would laugh in one of those hearty ho-ho-ho ways.

My cats are vocal, too. It’s a requirement. If I haven’t heard one of them meow in a while, I’ll say his name repeatedly until I get a response (I imagine that, translated, his response is, “What? Would you shut UP already, lady? Sheesh, I hate vocal humans!”).

But I never expected my boxer to be so vocal. He howls when the clock chimes. He howls at his toys, too. And whines at them when they squeak. He talks to the cats —“yip, yip, whiiiiine.” He does a little wookie-sounding growl when he plays (earning him the nickname “Chewie,” for Chewbacca, by the way). And he moos. It’s his little quirk.

Now that I think about it, that’s what makes us really fall in love with our pets, isn’t it? Their quirks. The way the cat will follow the kids around, pestering them for PopTarts. The way the basset will lie with her short, pudgy legs stretched straight out behind her as she happily chews on a rawhide. The way the boxer moos.

Our animals’ quirks give us something to do. We videotape them and send them to TV shows. We chat about them to our friends and compare our animals’ quirks to other animals’ quirks. We call the quirks “tricks” and enter our pets into contests.

Recently, Aragorn, our boxer, entered doggy adolescence. Which means there isn’t much he does that’s not defiant, disgusting, obnoxious, or annoying (much like many human adolescents I know, come to think of it). But it also means his quirkiness is front and center all the time. That makes him, aside from gawky and mostly destructive, absolutely hilarious.

Face it, it’s the weird stuff our pets do that keeps us entertained. Without pet quirks, life would be so boring. I don’t know about you, but I’d so much rather watch Aragorn try to walk past one of the cats (he’s deathly afraid of them) or chase his stub tail or run full throttle in circles when it snows than pretty much any of the reality shows that are on TV.

Quirks are the things we remember about our animals when they’re gone. Not the maddening stuff they do, like eat the couch cushions, potty on the new carpet or chew the fence to pulp, but the funny stuff like attack the vacuum, turn in circles while their dinner’s being prepared or… moo.

It somehow makes them more human. And, take it from me… sometimes being a quirky human with a quirky animal friend is a really good thing.

To reach Jennifer Brown of Liberty, send e-mail to

Follow Vet Advice on Anesthesia
Dr.Marty Becker - DailyGleaner

Q: Years ago, our family dog was hit by a car. But it wasn't the car that killed him - it was the surgery to fix his leg. He went under and never woke up. That's why now, I don't feel comfortable when my veterinarian tells me that my dog needs to have his teeth cleaned - while asleep. It just doesn't seem worth the risk, even though my vet insists anesthesia is safer now. What do you think?

- G.R., via e-mail

A: You could be shortening your pet's life - and keeping him in misery - by not addressing the problems caused by a mouthful of rotting teeth and gums.

And your veterinarian's correct:

Anesthesia is a lot safer than it was a couple of decades ago. No anesthetic procedure is without risk, but in the hands of a good veterinarian and his staff, anesthesia has become a routine and very safe procedure.

The risks can be greatly minimized by a veterinary examination and a few basic tests beforehand, including a laboratory evaluation of blood and urine, and possibly a chest X-ray. These tests enable your vet to fully understand and address the health status of your pet before anesthetizing him. During the procedure, placement of an IV catheter and administration of fluids further adds to the safety of the procedure. No discussion of anesthetic danger can be complete without a few words on your responsibilities where anesthesia is concerned:

* Follow your veterinarian's instructions on preparing your pet for surgery. If no food is specified, make sure that you deliver your pet with an empty stomach. Following this one piece of advice is one of the easiest and most basic ways to reduce risk. During anesthesia, the contents of a full stomach can be regurgitated with the unfortunate potential complication of being inhaled into the lungs. In general, you should completely withhold food the night before, but continue to allow free access to water until the morning of the procedure.

* Be prepared to provide special home care for your pet after surgery.

If your pet is released before the sedation wears off fully, he must be kept safe from hot or cold environments because his reflexes are reduced.

If you do not feel comfortable caring for a sedated pet, arrange for your veterinarian to extend the care.

If your veterinarian does not run a 24-hour hospital, be sure to have the number of your local emergency clinic handy in case there are any complications following your pet's anesthesia.

* Don't hesitate to ask questions.

Make sure that you understand what the procedures are and what to expect. Pets commonly have a cough after anesthesia, for example, because the tube used to deliver the gas may cause some irritation. If the cough does not clear in a couple of days, call your veterinarian.

No matter what the age of the pet, the chances are very high that the anesthetic presents no problem if both you and your veterinarian work to minimize the risk. And the payoffs, especially those involving dental care, can be significant. Ask as many questions as you can and make sure you are comfortable with the answers. Work with your veterinarian in the interests of the best health for your pet.

- Dr.Marty Becker

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Selecting a Pet for Your Children
Maria R. Burgio - NY Children's Examiner

Here is is a fun exercise for parents to do before selecting a pet for the children.

Make a list of all the pets you've ever had and how old you were at the time. Include fish, reptiles, rabbits and other rodents (like hamsters), baby chicks, piglets, and any others you can recall.

Next to each pet's name, put down who fed and cleaned the pet area? If you had siblings, did you share the work equally? If not, who ended up with most of the work and why? How did you feel about that pet and why? Lastly, what happened to each pet?

Now look at the record of your life with animals. Did you love a reptile more, less, or the same as the hamster? Did you love your dog more, less, or the same as your fish? Why did you love that animal more? Did you learn responsibility for some other living creature? What else do you remember learning?

Imagine how much is being learned when you bring a pet into your children's lives?

Remember that getting the wrong pet can be a terrible experience for your child. Some pets need a lot of space, they need more exercise, and are more emotional. Others are more loving, easy-going, and are content to stay by your side. For example, some small dogs look sweet, but they are nervous and may not tolerate visitors well. If you have a busy household, you may want a dog with an even temperament.

Getting a dog for your New York City apartment must be carefully considered. Is the apartment large enough? Are your neighbors okay with your having a pet? Who will walk the dog in the mornings and evenings? The type of neighborhood you live in is important.

ASPCA Lists Top 10 Pet Poisons
Reading Eagle

The American Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals has an Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Ill. In 2008 it handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products, according to its Web site. Below is a list of the top ten pet poisons in 2008 reported to the APCC.

Human Medications

Last year, the ASPCA managed more than 50,000 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it's essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.


In 2008, ASPCA toxicologists fielded more than 31,000 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick products - such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it's always important to talk to your pet's veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

People Food

People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruit can seriously harm pets, and accounted for more than 15,000 cases in 2008. One of the worst offenders - chocolate - contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.


Last year, the ASPCA received approximately 8,000 calls about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets, including bleeding, seizures and kidney damage.

Veterinary Medications

Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they're often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2008, the ASPCA managed nearly 8,000 cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements.


Common houseplants were the subject of nearly 8,000 calls to the Animal Poison Control Center in 2008. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

Chemical Hazards

In 2008, the Animal Poison Control Center handled approximately 5,500 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the rise, chemical hazards - found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals - form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.

Household Cleaners

Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last year, the ASPCA received more than 3,200 calls related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury, accounted for more than 3,000 cases of pet poisonings in 2008. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.


It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded more than 2,000 calls related to fertilizer exposure. Prevention is really the key to avoiding accidental exposure.

Poison Hotline

Contact the Animal Poison Control Center's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-426-4435.


What Not to Do With Your Pet
Susan NC Price - Chicago Pets Examiner

The first few stories that came to mind on this topic involved very small mammals. Maybe, being small, they’re too easy to do things to. Also, the owners of such are often fairly small—meaning young—themselves. Let the horror stories begin.

For instance, a young-at-the-time member of my husband’s family who shall remain nameless went through hamsters so fast they were given numbers rather than distinctive names: Hampy 1, Hampy 2, and so on. Apparently, the owner (or co-owner—he may have shared custody with his older brothers) of these poor critters would bring the latest tiny corpse to his mother with the plaintive announcement, “Sumpfin’ happened to Hampy.” After the second “happening,” the parents enquired more closely into the “something.” They found that their youngest son had been experimenting on their front stairs—proving conclusively that hamsters not only couldn’t fly but didn’t bounce very well either, by dropping them off a second floor landing into the front hall.

Or the mistake my mother made, of thinking young mice could be kept in a hamster cage. Note to all of you contemplating getting mice: a nice glass aquarium with a ventilated lid works very well. As my family learned by finding my brother’s three pet mice in varied and unexpected locations all over the house for a couple of days, half-grown mouse can easily squeeze through the bars of a cage made to keep a much chunkier adult hamster or gerbil in.

And speaking of gerbils … small animals and small children do not mix well when both are running loose in the living room. We lost our first gerbil when his new owner excitedly took the gerbil out of the cage to hold with no adult was present, a strictly forbidden action. Sadly, the gerbil paid the greater price. Of course the gerbil squirmed loose. While his panicked owner tried to catch the little varmint before Mother found out, the boy accidentally stepped on his beloved pet.

On the other hand, a glass box full of small moving things is a great cat amusement device. We called our gerbils “Cat TV.” And they didn’t seem to mind their starring roles. I never figured out whether that made them smart enough to realize the cat wasn’t getting in or too stupid to notice the potential danger lurking on the other side of the glass. But before you let your cat or cats watch the show, make sure the frame holding the screened top is heavy enough, and the screening material solid enough, that cat and contents stay separated.

My last incident for today is a cautionary tale for hot weather. We’ve all heard that you don’t leave children or pets in the car on hot days because the car heats up in the sun. A friend of mine can testify that leaving pet fish in the trunk is not a good idea either. Apparently her parents didn’t want to leave the family goldfish home alone, so they packed them in a plastic bag full of water to take along. Unfortunately, the fish were forgotten in the trunk over the course of a long summer day. When finally retrieved they were, my friend assures me, quite dead and somewhat cooked.

3 Tips For Finding Low Cost Vets in Your Town
By Crystal Jordan

With the rising cost of vet bills, finding an affordable vet makes sense. But sometimes it can be hard to know where to look. Here are three tips to help you find a low cost vet in your area.

One of the best places to look for an affordable vet is through the local humane society. They are very likely already working with a veterinarian that works at a reduced rate.

If they are not, they can likely point you in the direction that you need to go, or give you some additional resources.

The second way to find one is just to call around and ask what their prices are. If you call around to three veterinary clinics and ask what the average price of a spay is, then you can get a general idea of prices.

One potential downfall of this approach is that sometimes vet clinics charge a reduced rate for spays to get new clients, but overall their prices can be more expensive.

The third way to find one is by driving. Veterinarians set their prices by what the average income is of households in a 3 to 5 mile radius around the clinic.

Often times just by driving to an area of town where the level of household incomes is lower, you can find a vet that charges less.

Also remember to ask your current vet if you can get a break on prices. Sometimes they will give you one if they know you are a good client that pays right away.

Use these three tips the next time need to find a low cost vet in your town.

Benefits of Fresh Meat in Dry Dog Food
By Robert Playoll

As the quality of dog food products has increased over the past year since the recalls of 2007, so to has the amount of premium brands. If you scan the pet food store aisle, you will clearly see what I mean. The choices are endless. One brand that has been at the forefront in nutritional products has been Solid Gold. They have a wide range of solutions for small puppies all the way to large breed dogs. This is an outstanding food that incorporates fresh ingredients, utilizes a holistic approach and maintains a very good taste that you dog will enjoy. One reason why there dry dog foods taste so good, and have other benefits versus other brands, is the quality fresh meats they use.

With the exception of one product, the fish based Holistique Blendz, all of their dry pet foods contain fresh meat. They use fresh, never frozen meats like lamb, bison and beef that are USDA certified. It comes into the plant within twenty four hours of being processed and is used in the foods within twelve hours of arrival.

One benefit of using fresh meats is that they are much more palatable. A lot of dog foods use meals, which are cooked twice. Once by the supplier and once again by the manufacturer. The fresh meat used by Solid Gold is only cooked once. In addition to the taste, another reason why they use it is because in the heating process for meals, being cooked twice, almost all nutrients, enzymes and flavor are destroyed. Since the nutritional availability is higher in fresh, digestibility is also increased.

Another benefit of meat versus meal is the reduced amount of ash. The fresh meats used by Solid Gold go through a process that debones in a meticulous way therefore allowing very low bone content and extremely low ash versus other products that use meals.

By incorporating fresh meats in Solid Gold dog food, they are able to take advantage of several benefits that make it a much healthier food for your dog.

Ten Tips to Keep Kitty Safe at Home
By Dr. R.J. Peters

Cats are more sensitive to their environment than dogs and people, so we have to be mindful and aware of some basic safety issues.

While we, our children, or our dogs might suffer some discomfort from ingesting certain toxic items, cats are more likely to die, because they lack the liver enzymes that would process those chemicals from their bodies. Additionally, cats are a very curious bunch, and are thus more likely to find and get into certain products that the rest of us can learn to leave alone. This includes a wide variety of cleaning items, plants, and some foods.

In addition to a higher sensitivity, cats also are experts at hiding any discomfort, and we may not even notice they don't feel well until is too late. It is vital to their health and safety, then, that we take precautions to prevent poisonings and injuries, and to be observant of their health to note any changes that might warrant a veterinary visit.

These 10 tips can help make your home safe for your kitties:

1. Prevent access to any place you store cleaning supplies, yard chemicals, automotive products, insecticides, and plumbing chemicals, such as drain openers. These products are especially deadly to cats: antifreeze, powdered cleansers (Ajax, Comet, etc.), insecticide baits, traps and sprays, weed killers, and anything containing pine oil.

2. Keep cats away from, or do not even keep, certain houseplants, such as oleander, azalea and yew. Look for a toxic plant list for a more complete list of dangerous plants. There are many! If your cat is allowed outdoors, be certain to plant-proof your yard as well, growing only those that aren't deadly to cats.

3. Don't leave small items laying around. Think "toddler" and you will be able to protect your cats, too. Cats are very curious and, just like a small child, can swallow things like coins, string, buttons, nails, screws, paper clips, etc. Ingesting them usually requires emergency surgery to remove them before fatal damage has been done.

4. Keep all medications stored in cat-proof cabinets, drawers, or containers. Cats love to play with small items, especially anything that rolls in an interesting way, and makes noises, such as pills rattling around inside the little vials.

5. Do not let cats have access to anything consumable that you may enjoy but could cause them severe illness or toxicity, such as chocolate, coffee (especially the grounds), alcohol and tobacco. Keep them away from the trash, where they might also drag out and eat tasty wrappers.

6. Again, if they go outdoors, be watchful of any prey they might hunt, as a neighbor (or you) could have set out poison traps for mice or rats. Eating a poisoned mouse will poison the cat. Humane traps are available to catch mice, for example, and may be a good solution if you want to remove such pests.

7. Read labels on pet products. Never give something designed for a dog to a cat. They have different physiologies and do not process things the same at all. A good example is flea or tick products, such as collars, powders or sprays. Dogs can handle the ingredient, permethrin, a synthetic insecticide, but it can be fatal to cats.

8. Limit your use of scented candles and tobacco smoking inside the house. Some candles contain oils that can vaporize and then settle onto your cat's fur, where it will be licked off when they next groom themselves. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, which is also oily and settles onto their fur, to be licked off later. Nicotine is definitely toxic, and many aromatherapy oils are as well, most notably, lavender.

9. Keep important phone numbers near the telephone, in case you need to call one for an emergency. The list should include your vet, the poison control center, and a friend in case you need help transporting your pet. If there is a need to hold your cat, it's best to let someone else drive.

10. A good rule of thumb is, if a product wasn't made or designed for a cat, don't let yours eat it or play with it.

March is poison prevention week, but it's important to be aware of these safety tips year round.

For a fairly comprehensive list of poisonous plants, visit:

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