Pet News: The Hidden Costs of Pets

Bringing Dogs (and Owners) to Heel
By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

Linda Kaim, professional dog trainer and owner of Coeur d'Lion K9 Behavior Management, Westminster

Salary: $35,000

Age: 48

Years on the job: 30 years

How she got started:
When Kaim was about 10 years old, she got her first dog, an Irish setter, from a top breeder who served as her mentor in breeding and training dogs.

"I knew it was essentially what I wanted to do."

She started professionally training dogs at the age of 18. She traveled the country, always keeping her hand in dog training, which included apprenticeships with dog trainers and professional handlers, and working as a veterinary technician. She eventually moved to Maryland and opened a dog-training business. She also worked as the dog behavior counselor for the Humane Society of Harford County. Kaim moved to her Westminster location about two years ago. She is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals.

Typical day:
Kaim teaches dog obedience classes and private lessons on her property and travels to provide private, in-home sessions. She starts her day at about 5:30 a.m., feeding, exercising and training resident dogs. She works with about 15 clients in a typical week. Group classes mostly occur on weekends, with private lessons held during the week. She covers all of Carroll County and parts of Baltimore, York and Adams counties. She says her training combines positive reinforcement with well-known techniques that are easy to follow.

"Dog training is about cooperation and acceptance. It is not about dominance and submission," she says.

Kaim says she works almost exclusively with dogs that have behavioral issues and is often a last resort for many owners who don't want to see their dogs destroyed or in a shelter.

"I can take these dogs and get a reasonable amount of control on them in a short amount of time, and people like that," she says.

When it comes to dogs, she says avoiding inappropriate behavior before it starts is much more effective than waiting to correct behavior. Dog training is mostly common sense, she adds, and giving them as much socialization as possible is important.

When training for the day is over, Kaim usually attends to administrative tasks.

Biggest mistake people make:
Treating dogs like people. Kaim says owners should know that dogs have a different means of communication.

Best advice:
"Don't wait until you're over your head. Seek help before you need it, as opposed to after the damage is done."

The good:
"I save dogs' lives."

The bad:
The job is physically demanding. "Dog training is not for the faint of heart."

Times she has been bitten:
Two in 30 years.

What to look for in a dog trainer:
Someone who is comfortable with many training methods because not all methods work on all dogs.

Her dogs:
Cotton, a 6-year-old English pointer, and Joe, a 4-month-old black Labrador retriever.

Recognize the need for dog training. "Get it right the first time."

Exotic Pets Caught in Drug Wars Causing Mexico's Civil Unrest

White tigers, snakes, sea turtles, baby monkeys, hummingbirds are all part of an underground jungle being run by dangerous drug leaders in Mexico.

Over the past year, the drug war in Mexico has killed about 5,700 people. The violence has escalated in recent weeks, and there is growing concern that it could spill into Texas or other states that border Mexico.

Officials believe the many of the drug gang leaders are also selling animals or sharing routes with animal traffickers.

The largest markets for banned pets and animal products are the United States and China, according to Reuters. That makes the U.S.-Mexico border a prime spot for smuggling species from Latin America, according to Reuters.

Exotic pets and animal parts are big business. The illegal global trading operation is worth an estimated $20 billion a year, according to a story by Reuters news agency.

"You can sometimes make as much profit, if not more, than drug smuggling with less consequences, because law enforcement is not paying attention and if you are caught the penalty is just a slap on the wrist," Crawford Allan, the North American head of wildlife trade watchdog group Traffic, told Reuters.

Pythons can sell for $30,000 and a rare South American macaw can be worth $90,000, making them valuable parts of other shipments involving contraband.

Live snakes are sometimes stuffed with cocaine packets and drug lords keep white tigers as pets -- sometimes feeding their rivals to the tigers as food. The traffickers also stuff hummingbirds into cigarette packs and put baby monkeys in air conditioning ducts. The animals are then sold to underground pet traders in the U.S.

Other animals are made into what drug dealers show off as luxury accessories such as sea turtle boots.

Pet Transports for the Northeast Region
Carol Alexander - NY Pets Alternative Health Examiner

When a pet has a chronic condition, it’s often possible to treat the problem at home with supplements, herbs, and homeopathic remedies. But when an ailing animal needs in-hospital care or a visit to the vet, getting there can be a problem. When your pet is badly injured or too large to pick up easily, you might need to arrange for special transport.

If you’re a New York City resident, help is available from AmbuVet, a 24-hour service operated by New York State board-certified and licensed veterinary technicians. AmbuVet vans are equipped with padded rear compartments, ramps, and stretchers. The group promises a safe, compassionate ride with caring staff. If the animal’s situation is extremely urgent, for an additional fee you can arrange for attendance by a participating veterinarian.

For residents throughout the Northeast, AmbuVet is also now offering air transport to veterinary facilities of your choice. Air AmbuVet has affiliations with Manhattan’s Animal Medical Center, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Contact AmbuVet via their toll-free number, 1-800-262-8838, or if time permits, access their website at

Traveling with Pets? Some RV Tips

Pet-friendly RV tips

With spring approaching, people might be getting the itch to take their recreational vehicle out of dry dock and hit the road again. An RV is a great way to travel to a campsite or national park if you have a pet, because there is more room, and your pet has access to amenities, such as fresh water, not normally found when hiking to a campsite in the hills. However, you should follow the safety guidelines that car owners practice when traveling with a pet.

Among them: Make sure an RV park or campground permits pets on the premises; remember that it may have size restrictions or limit the number of pets. Never leave a pet locked inside an RV without the air running or proper ventilation. Provide a pet with plenty of water and air circulation if it must be left alone for short periods. Don’t tie a pet to an RV with a metal chain; a power surge can travel along the chain and injure or kill the pet. Check the type of metal steps on the RV; some steps have little holes in them and may pose a hazard to pets.

— McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Helpful Tips to Keep Your Doggy's Bad Breath in Check
Posted By: Anne Roy

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- February was National Pet Dental Care Month, and even though it's March, your pet's dental health is still important.

Most pet owners don't really seem to mind their pet's bad breath, but ignoring the problem could lead to serious and costly problems. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop gum disease by the time they're three-years-old.

Periodental (gum) disease is the most common dental condition affecting dogs and cats. It can be avoided with good dental care.

"An animal's teeth can be a big mirror into their overall health," said Dr. Dean Severidt of Pet Doctors of America.

"Bad breath and swollen gums can be signs of more serious health issues. It's absolutely vital that pet owners don't ignore the annual professional dental cleaning for their animals, even though times are tough right now. Cutting back on this could lead to more serious, and costly problems down the road."

Here are some tips Dr. Severridt offers to help you with your pet's dental care.

- Check out their choppers- Owners can easily check out their pet's teeth to know if they are clean. " You want to lift their lips, and check for shiny white teeth. Gums should be pink and not swollen or discolored," said Dr. Severidt. As for their breath, most cats and dogs don't have breath that smell like roses, but it shouldn't smell rotten either.

- Tracking Tartar- Tartar is yellowish, brownish buildup that occurs at the base of the teeth, where the teeth meet the gums. "The tartar has a lot of bacteria, which untreated can lead to periodontal disease or other health conditions," said Dr. Severidt. Tartar can be removed with teeth cleaning by a veterinarian.

- Periodontal Disease- Serious health issues like periodontal disease can arise if owners don't take care of their pet's dental health. Periodontal disease isn't reversible either, but can be stopped by proper treatment.

- Other Health Risks- When excess tartar exists, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream. The bacteria can get into the valves of the heart, liver, kidney, and even the lungs. That can lead to more serious problems like kidney and heart disease.

- At Home Tips- There are special dog toothpastes available in pet stores, and even tooth brushes designed for dogs. Severidt says hard food can help keep the dog's teeth clean.
Having your pet's teeth cleaned annually is important, but you can clean your pet's teeth at home in between annual cleaning.

Birds Love to Nest in RV's
Keith Bennett - Denver RV Travel Examiner

As the days grow longer and the temperatures begin to climb, our feathered friends start looking for a place to build a new home to expand their family. For an unknown reason, RV's rank as a favorite, especially the king pin area of a 5th wheel.

A couple of years ago I heard chirping from my 5th wheel only to discover 2 baby finches wanting their mother and not a short Irish guy. We were able to fish the birds out and get them to a bird shelter. The birds were just fine and grew up to be adults in the wild.

Moral of the story is that it's the time of year to seal up attractive nesting locations on your rig.

Happy Camping

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How Often Should You Brush Your Dog's (and Cat's) Teeth?
Helena Sung - Pet News Examiner

How's your teeth? ('s a rainy Sunday afternoon and, no, I'm not sitting at my favorite brunch place or laying on the couch reading the Style section of the Times. I'm attending a free Pet Dental seminar at the West Village Veterinary Hospital.

Yes, folks, this is how much I love my dog. I will sacrifice a Sunday, slog through the rain and sit through a one hour workshop--and even take notes and film a video of the live demonstration.

What I learn will scare me so badly that I will dash home and immediately brush my dog's teeth--something I had neglected to do for some time because they looked white and clean.

But lately, I'd been smelling bad doggie breath on my cute little pooch.

As I listened to veterinarian Dr. Lucy O'Byrne, I realized the bad breath could be a sign of periodontal (or gum) disease and a potential harbinger of expensive dental bills to come--not to mention the pain it could potentially cause my dog.

All of this can be avoided with regular brushings at home.

How often should you brush your pet's teeth?

According to every veterinarian I spoke with, ideally, you should brush your dog's and cat's teeth every day.

Otherwise, plaque and tartar will build up, leading to gingivitis and periodontal disease, which is dangerous for your pet.

"Every time a dog with periodontal disease bites down, he is releasing a whole explosion of bacteria," Dr. O'Byrne says, "which may damage the kidney, liver and heart."

Yikes! In addition to letting your pet have bad breath and painful gums, you could be jeopardizing your pet's overall health--all of which is avoidable if we are diligent enough about brushing our pets' teeth.

So start today. For those who already do this at home--extra gold stars for you!

How to brush your pet's teeth

Get a soft pet toothbrush. (You can also use a rough white gauze (not the soft kind) and wrap it around your finger as a makeshift toothbrush; my dog prefers this method.)

Get pet toothpaste. The enzymes in special pet toothpaste help break down bacteria.
Put a little toothpaste on the toothbrush, let your pet lick some of it to get accustomed to the taste. No need for water or rinsing. The pet toothpaste is edible. (My dog loves the taste of CET Enzymatic Toothpaste in poultry flavor. He thinks he's getting a treat.)

Using a back and forth motion, brush one side of your dog's mouth for 30-40 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Brush the front teeth, too.
The whole thing should take you about one minute to a minute and a half.

A company called Virbac makes a whole line of pet dental products called C.E.T. It is sold at most veterinary offices and available online.

Watch Dr. O'Byrne demonstrate with her dog, Aloha...

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Kohdy's Tail Wagging Tips- Leadership pt. 2
My Favorite Leadership Tips -

There are lots of tips out there on leadership written by nationally acclaimed trainers and applied animal behaviorists. The tips I use and recommend are ones that set rules and boundaries without the use of force, intimidation, or physical abuse. What works for your dog will depend on his temperament and how easy it is for you, the dog owner, to administer in your daily routine. If you show good leadership to your dog they will respect and listen to you better, and they will feel more relaxed and confident. You will too.

Below I have compiled a list of leadership tips that I feel have the most "bang for their buck"

1.Hand feed your dog. Hand feeding establishes leadership and a strong bond and relationship between you and your dog. The dog learns you have control of the food and how much he gets. You are controlling what he believes is his most important resource. You don't have to hand feed the entire meal. A technique I like is to hand feed a portion and then the rest goes into a pouch or bait bag that he earns by doing things for you. For example, at dinner, hand feed him about half his normal portion, and then for the rest of the evening, he gets the rest of his meal by doing what you ask, or by volunteering behaviors you like.

To introduce a dog to this technique, I would do this everyday for several weeks and then transition into once a week to maintain this leadership lesson. If your dog has shown aggression I would have the bowl up high so the two of you aren't competing for the bowl and you should see a trainer who has experience in aggression.

2.Nothing in Life is For Free. Everything your dog wants he has to earn. If he wants to be petted, he must sit. He wants dinner? He must do a down/stay and patiently wait for it. He wants out? He must stay until you release him. He wants his leash put on for a walk? He must do some obedience commands first and sit still while his collar is put on. He wants his ball thrown? He must do some obedience commands first. Always ignore pushy behavior. Your dog demands to be petted? Don't pet them. When they go away, you call them back and pet them. Your dog wants out? Wait a few minutes and then let them out. Same goes for coming back in. They demand dinner? Wait until they are relaxed and not demanding before feeding. Think of it this way, leaders initiate, and subordinates react. Make sure you are initiating, not reacting.

3.No free treats. Don't give out free treats. Dog must earn them.

4.Rules on furniture. Height is status. If dogs are allowed to be at your height they feel more like equals. Many of my clients have a hard time abiding by this (and truth be told, so do I). In my household the dogs are allowed on some furniture but not others. If you like your dog on furniture the best way to handle it is to only allow them up when you invite them.

5.Consistency in training. Make sure the rules you establish are enforced 100% of the time. This is no different than with our kids. For some dogs, if you give them some slack even once, they will remember and try to push- push- push to get that one rule to change permanently in their favor. If your rule is they should not be allowed by the table when you eat, don't let them there even just once.

6.Wait at the door. All leaders go out the door first. Practice this at all doors leading outside, the gate from your back to front yard, and the car door. This is a safety cue to keep your dog safe.

7.Dragging an indoor leash. When you first get a new dog or puppy, or your dog is going through a spell of not listening to you, have them drag a leash around the house. I prefer a 10 footer. If you call them to you and they don't listen, step on the leash. This shows you are in control.

8.Play games where you set the pace and rules. First off, you decide when the game starts, so if your dog brings you the toy, tell them "not now" and put the toy away. Then later, bring it back out. You decide when the game ends. If your dog demands you keep playing you tell them "game over" and put the toy away. Insert obedience breaks to show you are setting the pace. Keep the games even keeled and don't get dogs too aroused. Teach your dog self control through games played.

9.Teach good leash manners. Dogs need to be walking beside you not ahead of you. Dogs that drag you to everything they want to do and see are not showing good respect for your leadership.

10.Training shows leadership. Take your dog to a training class and keep training on-going through classes and on your own. Even if you have been to an intermediate or advanced class, there is no reason not to repeat it. Go to different trainers for different ideas. Go to classes that are fun. Learning should be fun for you and your dog. Do 5-10 minute training sessions a day. Even your 10 year old dog can benefit from training. Check out my article and video on Obedience During the Day to help you fit training into your schedule.

11.Exercise!! Exercise releases endorphins which help a dog feel happy, relaxed, and helps relieve stress, just like for humans. Get exercise with your dog so you both come home feeling calm, relaxed and ready to take on the world.

The guidelines will provide your dog comfort, security, and confidence. It will build your relationship with your dog so that he sees you as the center of his universe.

Paul Harvey's “Ten Commandments for a Responsible Pet Owner” as Dictated by the Pet.
Gail Kirkegaard - Denver Dynamic Dogs Examiner

1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainments. But I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I have teeth that could easily crush the bones in your hand, and yet I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too will grow old.

10. On the difficult journey, on the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there. Because I love you so.

Take a moment today to thank God for your pets. Enjoy and take good care of them.

Life would be a much duller, less joyful thing without God’s critters. Please pass this on to other pet owners.

Learning How to Save Your Pet
Linda Leicht • News-Leader

A Red Cross class teaches reactions to an animal in trouble.

You may know what to do if your child is hurt or your neighbor is choking, but do you know what to do if your pet is in similar trouble?

The American Red Cross offers information and training for pet owners that could save Fido's life in its bi-monthly dog and cat first aid and CPR classes.

Kellie Herman of Springfield took the class because she has "an interest in protecting the things that I love."

She loves her 75-pound boxer mix, Ace. "He's my best friend," the massage therapist and biology student says.

Herman was in a recent class when she learned the basics about how to handle a medical emergency, keep Ace alive until he can get to a veterinarian and make a disaster plan that includes her pet.

"It's the wise thing to do," she says, adding that she has also taken CPR and first aid for humans and will soon take a wilderness first aid class.

variety of animals
Each of the students in the pet first aid class introduced themselves and talked about their pets.

Faith Koppes of Springfield has a new border collie mix puppy named Autumn she described as a "wild thing" and seven birds.

Vickie Senters, who lives on a farm in Exeter, has border collies who are working dogs, as well as a Yorkie mix stray and a cat whose claim to fame is finding his way home after getting lost during the ice storm in 2007.

Lucille Emerson of Springfield called herself an "empty nester" because her precious Maltese died a few years ago.

Jamie Reid has a German shepherd and a calico cat named Snookums.

Deanna Blache of Ozark has two Labradors she described as "cool."

Teri Osborne, who taught the class, has two Jack Russell terriers.

She says the pet class is one of her favorites because everyone there is an "animal lover."

Each of the students picked a furry pet model to practice on, giggling about the similarity to their own dogs.

But when the class got started, it was all business.

They watched a video that showed them how to approach a sick or injured animal; how to hold its paw to take a pulse; how to take its temperature; and how to check its breathing.

Osborne advised class participants practice on their own healthy pet, to condition it so it won't panic if in a real emergency.

And she suggested they learn their pet's "normal" vital signs by measuring its temperature, pulse and breathing in order to determine if there is anything amiss later.

Holding the "unconscious" model dog on its side, Osborne demonstrated how to give CPR. She gently tied the dog's muzzle closed with a triangle bandage, then put her mouth over its nose, blowing softly.

Then, with one hand under one side of the chest, she used her other palm to make three compressions, explaining that the method and number of compressions depends on the size of the dog.

Demonstrating the Heimlich maneuver on a dog, she was quick to add a word of caution:

"A hurt dog is scared and he may bite."

As she went through the various possible emergency scenarios -- burns, broken bones, poison, frostbite, heat stroke, electric shock -- each class member seemed to sober at the thought of their own beloved pet in that situation.

"It's invaluable to know these things," said Herman as she gathered up her Dog First Aid book. "It's just common sense if you are living on this Earth."

Dog Gone It!: Hidden Costs of Pets
Tami Wassong

Once you’ve settled on where to get your pet, many “other” expenses are associated with one, especially a dog. These range from training to food to pet toys. There are also health-related expenses that are musts for any dog owner.

It is something to think about before you make your commitment, because it adds up.

Health Insurance

After choosing our puppy we decided to get health insurance. Most people do not get coverage but I figured you never know, and it is better to be safe than sorry. I have heard too many stories of very expensive doctor bills and people lacking the means or struggling to pay them. I feel this is one of the most important areas to be spending your money when deciding to have a dog. STOCKSRELATED ARTICLESALSO BY...

I went with a company called VPI Pet and for the first year selected the superior plan with what’s called the pet well care protection premier coverage rider. The total cost was $546 for the year. It takes 10 days to activate the policy, so it is good to activate before your first vet visit.

The first year it pretty much pays for itself between all the visits for her physical exam, vaccinations, heartworm testing, fecal testing and spay or neuter. I will be getting $400 "back" from this policy, so out-of-pocket for insurance first year will be $146. That is a small amount to pay for peace of mind in case there is a medical emergency.

After year one, try to go down to a basic coverage plan, which is $270. At the beginning you see the vet often. My vet charges $40 per visit and then additional for any vaccinations or testing that needs to be done.

A visit can average anywhere from $60 - $140 depending upon your location. After 16 weeks -- which is when the rabies shot is given -- you do not need to see a vet as often except for spay/neuter or illness. You will need to have yearly physicals and continue rabies shots plus other vaccinations through the years.

Flea and Heartworm

Another expense is flea control and heartworm. These treatments are administered each month. Frontline, which is one brand of flea control costs $31.99 for a 3-pack for medium-sized dogs and $53.99 for a 6-pack. Heartguard, which is for heartworm, is about $35 for a 6-month supply for a medium-size dog and $65 for a 12-month supply.


Depending upon brand and where you live, food can average about $15 for 6 lbs. A bag will last about a week. Each brand has its own weight and serving size.

Other Stuff

Additional items needed are two bowls -- preferably stainless steel -- each about $4.00; collar and leash both totaling about $15.00, crate $60-$90 depending upon size, door gates, dog shampoo, brush, toys, etc, etc, etc. These items all vary in cost depending upon location and style desired.STOCKSRELATED ARTICLESALSO BY...


If you’re new to all of this, I suggest sessions with a dog trainer. They can average between $75-$100 a session. Or better yet, if you know someone with great dog experience, ask them! It usually takes about 8 sessions to fully train puppy. If you can’t afford a trainer, I would highly suggest reading books and also spend some time watching Caesar Millan on National Geographic. (More to come on this subject in a future column.)

The Unexpected

Finally, there are the expense you never really think about like “what do I do with my dog when I go away?” What if I can’t get home in time to take my dog for a walk? Boarding a dog costs from $40 to $50 a day and a dog walker charges about $15 for each…um…walk.

The Bottom Line

When all is said and done, a full first year will cost between $3,000 - $5,000 and each year after that should be about $2,000 - $3,000 a year.

Putting the tangible costs of having a dog aside, the unconditional love we all get from our dog is worth its weight in gold. Walking in the door to a panting, face-licking bundle of joy is worth the investment. Make sure you’re ready for it.

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