Pet Advice: Dogs, Cats and Hamsters?

Raw Deal? Some Feed Their Pets Uncooked Diet
By Kim Campbell Thornton - contributor

BARF. It’s what’s for dinner. Your dog’s dinner, that is.

The acronym stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, which is not so much a diet as it is a movement among pet owners who believe their pets will benefit from eating the same kinds of food their furry ancestors gobbled: bones, raw meats and veggies. Just as a raw food trend has turned more mainstream among people, a small but vocal community of pet owners is using the same quality ingredients they buy for themselves to create homemade raw meals for their critters.

But most veterinarians are wary about the trend toward raw food, or even meals that are cooked, but homemade. The idea of feeding pets raw meat, which has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella or E. coli bacteria, or a home-cooked meal that may not be properly balanced, gives them the shudders. “So many of these people are just trying to make their pets happy and have no concept of nutrition,” says Dr. Patty Khuly, who practices in Miami.

Although no studies have been conducted to assess the benefits of a raw food diet for cats and dogs, believers in the raw pet food movement say the evidence speaks for itself: Their pets have shinier coats, stronger teeth, fewer ear infections and improved weight control.

Bob Kurtz, who was already feeding his retrievers a high-quality dry food, recently turned to a commercial raw diet to solve a young Labrador’s skin allergies.

“Since switching to raw, we have found several major benefits,” he says. “Our dogs’ weights have stabilized perfectly. They now rarely change weight by more than a pound between checkups. They are lean and muscular, with coats that are even more beautiful and glossy than before. The ground bone in the diet does a great job of scouring their teeth, and all signs of plaque and tartar buildup have disappeared.”

Pat Puckett, a founder of SoCal BARF, a buying association based in Orange County, Calif., began feeding a raw diet to her American pit bull terriers in 1998.

“My breed has a tendency toward skin problems, and I had spent quite a bit of time at the vet for various problems,” she says. “One of my friends who also has the breed had talked about switching over to raw for her dogs. I moved in that direction and never went back.”

Kurtz says the diet gets a mixed reaction from the veterinarians who see his dogs.

“Our practice has two vets. The senior vet is very wary about bacterial growth, E. coli, salmonella, etc. She has recommended to us many times that we cook the food instead," Kurtz says. "The younger vet is very excited about the growth of raw and homemade diets, is not particularly concerned about bacteria in the dog's shorter digestive system, and is very pleased with our results. As she says about our Labrador, ‘Ooh, look at her coat — she's sleek, like a seal!’”

A raw diet isn't as easy as dropping a chicken bone into Baxter's bowl. It’s essential to use a trustworthy recipe that provides all the nutrients a dog or cat needs or to feed a great enough variety of fresh foods that the diet is balanced over time, in the same way that a person who eats a variety of foods achieves a balanced diet. People who are concerned about providing a correct balance of nutrients or who don’t have time to prepare a pets’ meals can purchase commercial frozen raw diets at pet supply stores.

Dr. Deborah S. Greco, an internal medicine specialist, advises dog breeders who fed a raw diet to rotate protein sources rather than relying exclusively on a single protein, such as chicken.

“What I usually recommend for people who are feeding homemade diets is to call a nutritionist and say ‘This is what I’m feeding; is it balanced?’”

Dr. Khuly, the Miami veterinarian, proffers the same advice to her clients. She will consult a nutritionist for them, for a fee, or refer them to a veterinary nutritionist for a personal consultation. She says there is another reason veterinarians are conservative when it comes to recommending raw or homemade diets.

“Veterinarians want to be legally safe, and there are things that can go wrong with feeding anything,” she says. “If there’s a commercial entity to back you up, it makes it so much easier. If there’s just your diet, your recipes and your recommendation, you’re the one out on the line."

When done right, the greatest benefit of a homemade diet is the ability to select the ingredients. Puckett and the approximately 400 members of SoCal BARF want to know how the food animal was fed. They prefer to avoid soy-fed poultry and rabbits, for instance, because soy is a common pet allergen. That’s difficult, though. Soy is in almost every poultry and rabbit feed, she says.

“The dogs are healthier than any I’ve ever had who were primarily kibble-fed,” says Shirley Thistlethwaite, who lives in a rural area near Columbia, S.C., and feeds her six dogs cooked homemade meals using a rough ratio of one-third meat, one-third grains and one-third vegetables, fruits or herbs.

Thistlethwaite buys the highest-quality foods she can work into her budget each week.

“I try to get wild-caught fish, free-range meats, and organic and local foods if I can,” she says. Often, she and her dogs eat similar meals.

But not everyone has such a positive experience. After a massive pet food recall in 2007, Margaret Alexander of Newton, Mass., began cooking for her three Cavalier King Charles spaniels. She read a lot and consulted her own veterinarian as well as veterinarians at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston. A year later, however, all three of her dogs developed various problems that may or may not have been related to their diet.

“The oldest one developed very serious liver and gall bladder problems and was hospitalized for several days,” she says. “The youngest dog developed slow digestive processes and lots of vomiting in the summer. The third one, in the fall, developed some type of problem which was initially thought to be a blockage. He has had what are euphemistically called 'dietary indiscretions' since we got him.”

Alexander suspects that the food she was preparing was too high in fat. Now her oldest dog is eating a diet prescribed by the veterinarian and the other two are back on a high-quality dry food. She’s happy with the foods they’re eating now, citing cost and convenience.

“The dry food is measurably cheaper than home cooking," Alexander says. "Expecting a pet sitter to prepare the dogs’ food is a little more than we think we can ask, and it is hard to prepare enough in advance.”

Khuly has a handful of clients who feed their pets a raw diet, and she herself has moved from ambivalence to cautious acceptance. Her two French bulldogs now enjoy regular raw meaty bones. Clients who want to start feeding their pets a raw or homemade diet are referred to a veterinary nutritionist for expert advice on what and how to feed.

“I believe in raw feeding, I believe it can be done well, I believe it can be helpful, but I have a lot of conditions because I’m still new to it,” she says. “I tell people to have a good relationship with a high-quality butcher and make sure they understand that the meat needs to be human-grade, every bit as high-quality as they would expect you to want to eat. You have to work hard at it.”

How Your Pet Can Save You Money
By Stacy Baker -

Everyone wants to attach a value to things these days, even to man’s best friend.

Although the cost of pet ownership can be high (even without pet insurance) MainStreet thinks it’s pretty darn hard to put a price on unconditional love. If unwavering affection and attention aren’t enough of a draw, check out these three ways pets can actually help you save a dime.

1. She’s your 24/7 on-call therapist. Pet owners have less stress and marital tension, lower rates of depression and quicker recovery times from stressful events, according to a growing body of research from the Center to Study Human Animal Relationships and Environments and the National Institutes of Health.

In urban areas, the going rate for shrinks can be $200 an hour. (And no, we're not saying you should shun therapy.)

Practically speaking, we love the little ones because they put up with our sour moods and stress long after friends and family write us off. You can complain endlessly about [insert current obsession that everyone in your social circle is tired of hearing about] and they’ll look at you like they care, without charging you for their time. Finally, even the pet-averse have to admit it’s virtually impossible to feel alone in this world when you’ve got a furry creature under your toes at all times.

2. He knows how to work the room (and the park and the Web). Happy hours, movie nights and dinners out can break the bank, but Fido is an on-command fun maker and social butterfly for free. He loves to window shop (free), is a hit at dog runs (free), finds low-budget ways to use every square inch of the park (Frisbee, jogging, or chewing on a stick, all free) and has basically never met a stranger he doesn't like. Even the most socially awkward of us can chat up someone new with Fido as the wingman. In fact, studies suggest that pet ownership can increase confidence, improve self-esteem and heighten social skills (which can lead to a bigger Rolodex, which can lead to a better job and salary).

For those who can’t be bothered with face-to-face human interaction, social networking for pets is happening, too. Web veterans, and are joined by newer networks like, and a host of others that allow users to connect with fellow pet lovers, share photos, ask questions and offer (free) advice.

3. Hello, built-in gym membership! Depending on where you live, gym costs can range anywhere from $50 to $200, and higher, a month. But effective calorie burning doesn’t have to happen behind closed doors. NIH studies show dog owners may get more exercise than non-pet owners. Plus, fitness research has shown that a few 10-minute bouts of cardio activity throughout the day are as beneficial as a single sweat session lasting the same amount of time. So even quick walks with the pooch add up to trimming your waistline. Finally, even if you and Rex are more meanderers than marathoners, every step you take on a stroll will contribute to the 10,000 steps a day that many studies suggest you shoot for.

During a recession, it’s good to know that even Baxter can lend a paw in your cost-cutting strategies.

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Dog Out of the Emergency Room

Dogs will eat just about anything. Even the most scrupulous pet-proofing doesn't guarantee that your dog won't scarf down something like a chicken bone or piece of string that could endanger his health, or even his life.

Pet health insurance claims for "foreign-body ingestion," are ranked among the top-10 claims by PetPartners Inc., provider of the American Kennel Club Pet Healthcare Plan.

According to case files, some of the strange household items dogs swallow, and the average cost of removing them, include corncob, $1,915; chicken bone, $2,700; string, $5,000; sock, $2,205, threaded needle, $2,329; doll head, $1,014, and rubber ball, $1,418.

To keep your dog out of the emergency room, animal behaviorist Mary Burch offers these tips:

Dog-proof your house

If the items aren't accessible, your dog won't eat them. Make sure you secure the garbage and put clothes, shoes and children's toys away.

Provide chew toys

Make sure electrical cords and other household items don't attract your pet's attention by giving your dog chew toys large enough so they can't swallow them.

Supervise playtime

It's best to supervise your dog during playtime with toys.

Within a month of enrolling in the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan, the owner of a French Bulldog was recently reimbursed with more than $660 for the removal a piece of toy from her dog's stomach, a bill that could have been much higher if not for the owner's quick action.

She was supervising her dog with the new toy when she noticed a piece of it was missing. She immediately took her dog to the veterinarian, where an X-ray showed a piece of toy in the dog's stomach.

A specialist was called in to remove it by endoscopy. Had the owner not been around to act so quickly, the piece may have moved into the colon, with potentially serious consequences requiring much more expensive and complex surgery.

Schedule regular exercise

Well-exercised dogs get into less trouble. Obedience, rally or agility classes offer a fun way to work out together and socialize your dog while meeting other dog lovers.

Train your dog

Training will give your dog something to wrap his mind around and keep him out of trouble.

More tips are available at the American Kennel Club Web site at

American Kennel Club

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

The Right Care's Key for 'House Rabbits'
By Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori - Universal Press Syndicate

In recent years, the popularity of "house rabbits" – litter box-trained bunnies with as many house privileges as some cats – has made these quiet, surprisingly playful pets more popular among adults. Now's a great time to adopt one, since it's not long after Easter that the thrill wears off for many children given a baby rabbit – and for the parents who realize that they will be caring for a pet that their child will no longer care much about.

So whether you're thinking of adopting a rabbit as a pet for yourself or are one of the lucky parents whose child is still in love with that real-life Easter bunny, you'll want to care for your pet the best you can. Here are some tips:

• Housing: Indoor rabbits are more fun! Your rabbit will need a home base of a small pen or a large cage with food, water and a litter box. Rabbits do well with a plain cat box filled with a shallow layer of recycled paper pellets, covered with a layer of fresh grass hay. You don't scoop a rabbit box – you change it completely every day. (The ingredients you toss are great for your compost pile.)

Because some rabbits can be chewers, you'll want to make sure any rabbit-friendly area has electrical cords tucked away and that you deny access to the legs of nice furniture and the corners of good carpets.

• Nutrition: Fresh water needs to be available at all times. For food, you can use high-quality commercial rabbit pellets for a base diet (read the label for daily portions and adjust over time to keep your rabbit from getting fat). Or you can skip the commercial pellets. Offer fresh grass hay at will and a wide variety of fresh green leafy vegetables twice daily. Treat your rabbit, too: Bunnies love little bits of fruit and root vegetables.

If you have storage space, hay is cheaper by the bale and lasts for weeks in cool, dry storage when protected from the elements. And stop throwing away veggie trimmings from meal preparation – give them to your rabbit!

• Health care: Get your rabbit spayed or neutered. In addition to keeping your rabbit from reproducing, you'll have a better pet. Unaltered rabbits can have behavior problems such as aggression and urine-spraying. Your rabbit will need a wellness check, just as a cat or dog would, and a good rabbit vet will help you catch little health problems before they become big ones. Check with your local rabbit rescue group for the names of veterinarians who are known to be good with rabbits.

• Exercise and play: Make sure your rabbit is allowed time outside the cage or pen every day. If you can't manage letting your rabbit roam at will indoors, block off a single rabbit-proofed room. A secure, supervised area outside is fine as well, but don't leave your rabbit unattended. Rabbits can be scared literally to death by cats, dogs and even jays and crows.

Rabbits love toys. Cat toys, dog toys, hard plastic baby toys and even the cardboard tubes from inside toilet paper and paper towel rolls are fun for rabbits. Cardboard boxes stuffed with hay and treats are also fun for bunnies.

Once you've gotten the hang of rabbit care, think of adding another such pet. Rabbits are social animals and do very well in pairs.

For more information, check out the House Rabbit Society (


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are also the authors of several best-selling pet-care books. E-mail them at or visit Back columns:

Dental Care Tips For Your Pet

(NAPSI)-There's news that may bring a smile to both pet owners and their loyal companions. Services and products are making it easier to address a pet's need for oral care.

According to American Veterinary Medical Association, periodontal disease is the most common health issue in pets. It's also estimated that almost 80 percent of U.S. pets suffer from periodontal disease by age 3.

This is a cause for concern, since periodontal disease encourages the growth of bacteria and development of other overall health risk factors that can get into the pet's bloodstream.

Blood-borne bacterial infection from periodontal disease is strongly implicated in the development of heart, kidney, liver and respiratory diseases.

The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable. Comprehensive dental care--oral assessment and treatment by the veterinarian at least annually, and daily prevention at home--helps to ensure a healthy pet. This is more than a luxury, since many veterinary dentists believe that good oral health can increase a pet's life span--on average--by about two years.

A leading manufacturer of pet treats with a health benefit, The Greenies Company, offers canine dental chews and feline dental treats.

Clinically proven to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, the canine dental chews are recognized by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) with its Seal of Acceptance for plaque and tartar control.

The canine chews are said to be nutritionally complete and balanced for adult dogs. Fortified with vitamins and minerals, they contain antioxidants derived from fruits and vegetables. Plus, they're chewy and highly soluble for safe digestion.

The feline treats are proven to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup and are said to be preferred by cats four to one over their regular brand of treat.

They're made from a natural formula, contain less than two calories per piece and are nutritionally complete and balanced for adult cats, fortified with vitamins, minerals and taurine for optimum feline health.

Both the canine dental chews and the feline treats--from Greenies--are available from many veterinary clinics and at most independent and pet specialty stores.

The Greenies Company is a division of Nutro Products, Inc., a leading manufacturer of natural pet food products.

For more information or a free sample, visit

Comprehensive dental care--including annual checkups and daily prevention at home--can help to ensure a healthier pet.

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

How Does Music Influence Your Pets?
By Patti Lamb

There has been more and more work done with animals to understand the impact of music on them. Of course, for humans, we know that music can be a calming relaxing influence. But just how true is that saying "music calms the savage beast" when applied to a true animal?

Veterinarians, zoo keepers and other animal lovers that work with them day in and day out have come to the opinion that music has the same impact of animals as it does on humans. Certainly it can be at a different level but still there does appear to be an impact between animals and the music they hear.

Cats have been known to be drawn to the piano. This could be partially because of the vibrations that they feel but still they are absolutely drawn to the music and it does tend to calm them. Even other animals are impacted by the piping in of music.

Horse stables pipe in music to keep their horses calmer. It is a course of action that occurs more often than you would think. Cows also have been known to be impacted by music. It relaxes them while they are being milked as well as in general.

Veterinarians use music when they are operating on a dog to get them to relax and again when they come out of the anesthesia to keep them calm. Music is also is piped throughout the kennels to keep the animals as calm as they can be considering the pack like atmosphere in the kennels. Anything to work on their calmness is a bonus.

So what type of music do animals like? It is a pretty interesting question and is answered differently depending on the animal. As mentioned before, cats and kittens tend to really like piano and piano music as well as the vibrations that the piano gives off.

For the healing process such as before and after operations, soft soothing music tends to work and the type of instrument is not really that important but in a few different scenarios one instrument has risen above all the rest, and you probably would never guess it. The instrument animals tend to listen to and enjoys the most is the harp.

Harp music tends to be extremely soothing and for animals it appears it touches a core that allows them to be even more calming than other times. It works for stress, trauma, illness and abandonment issues. And it appears to work very well.

Harp is so popular with animal enthusiasts now that there are actually harp collections out on CD specifically for the listening pleasure of your animals. Not just one or two harp cd's either, a least a half dozen. And considering the topic, that's not too shabby.

There are also collections of music for birds, dogs, horses and other animals. If you look you will find a number of different collections specifically for the calming and relaxation of your animal. It might seem a little strange, but it works and your animal will thank you for it.

The author is a former guitar teacher and life long musician who believes in the power of music and the senses. For more about music-body-soul and mind and their interactions go to

Article Source:

5 Must Ask Questions For Hamster Adoption
By Emily Brock

In order to make the best decision in hamster adoption, several factors need to be considered. After all, your new pet will be a member of your family for a few years, so doing a little research now can save you problems down the road.

1. Where should I go to buy my hamster?

Hamsters can be adopted through several sources: breeders, animal shelters, pet stores, or though the classified ads. Breeders are a good choice if you can find a good one because they are careful with bloodlines to ensure that you have a healthier pet. Animal shelters are a good choice as well, but the hamster you find there may be older. You can find a good hamster at pet stores but make sure the cages look clean and that the hamsters have been handled regularly. This ensures that your hamster will be friendly and not bite.

2. What should I look for in a healthy hamster?

Look for a hamster that's fairly young, at least 5 weeks and at most 4 months. Stay away from any hamster that shies away from you or shows signs of aggression. Hold the hamster and check him over carefully. If his fur is patchy, his teeth are crooked, his weight is too high or low, or he seems to have any mobility problems, choose another hamster.

3. Who will be the primary caregiver?

If the hamster is being adopted for your child, you have to be prepared to step in and monitor the care and feeding of this pet. Small children under 10 should probably not have a hamster because they can be too rough with these delicate creatures. Your hamster's cage will have to be cleaned out weekly. Hamsters also should be handled daily to ensure they remain tame so the pet owner should be prepared to do this.

4. When is the best time to find a hamster?

Time is an important factor when you're looking to adopt your hamster because they sleep all day until around dinner time. So shopping in the evening is the best time to look for your hamster because they will be the most active and less likely to bite you if you wake them.

5. How much will it cost?

The cost of the hamster itself is quite cheap, generally $10 - $15. The cost of the cage and equipment can be around $100. Don't skimp on the cage because hamsters need lots of room to run around so if you can afford it, buy cages that can be added onto with tubes that mimic tunnels found in your hamster's natural habitat. Your hamster will thank you.

So if you're looking at hamster adoption in the near future, make sure you keep these factors in mind.

Emily Brock is a hamster enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on how to buy a hamster visit

Article Source:

How to Administer Pet Wormer
By Sandy Scott

It is inevitable that once in the life of a dog, no matter how healthy it may look, will have parasites in its body particularly the intestinal parasites. Intestinal parasites feed on the host by absorbing the nutrients in the intestine. Among these parasites, the most common are hookworm, tape worms, round worms and whip worms. These parasites are transmitted in various ways and through different carriers whether it is the mother of the dog, eggs in the stool, infected animals and insects like rodents and fleas and so forth. It is important that dogs are dewormed in a scheduled chart so as to flush out these parasites. However, there are instances where administering pet wormer could be hard. Yet, as veterinary medicine progresses, there are new ways to administer the drug without making the dog distress.

Intestinal parasites can be deadly especially when they are not immediately attended to. Since these parasites feed on the host's nutrition, the health of the dog suffers greatly. Some of the recognizable symptoms are loss of weight and appetite, vomiting and bleeding. In case of tapeworm infections, the eggs of the tapeworms may dry up at the anus which looks like dried scales or dried rice. There are also parasites that could not be wipe out with a single wormer and therefore it is necessary that deworming is done on a series.

There are several ways to administer wormer. Pet wormers have evolved into several varieties making deworming easier. Some wormer comes in the form of tablets where there are also flavored varieties, dog suspensions, and syrup. Most of these kinds are dosed from 2 to 12 weeks or every 3 months. One famous brand is Drontal that comes in suspensions and tablets. And another is Panacur with drug fenbendazole as its main ingredient, which is effective against all roundworm and most tapeworm infections.

To administer the drug, you should follow the instructions by the vet or through the product instructions. There are wormers that should not be given to pregnant dogs and lactating ones. There is also a new technology called "spot on" drug which is better to be administered by the vet itself.

If you are unsure in administering the wormer, you should let someone who knows it or better have a vet do it for you.

Worm infections are definitely inevitable but it could be avoided by having a good hygiene and clean environment at home. Make sure that you give the dog regular worming schedule and use of the right pet wormer to fight the infection. Worming the dog is not only for the sake of the animal but the entire family as well since the mentioned parasites can be transmissible to humans too.

Sandy Scott is the webmaster and author of . IVET consists of a team of dedicated professionals including a pharmacist, a pharmacologist, and two veterinary surgeons who oversee sales and provide the free, practical advice for your pets such Pet Wormers in the form of numerous on line information sheets.

Article Source:

Click here for "Dating, Relationship and Intimacy Stories & Advice"

Click here for "News, Commentary and Opinions"

Our Favorite Examiner Pet Experts

Some Advice About Disciplining Pets
Becky Smith - Salt Lake Large Dogs Examiner

Just as parenting, there are several varying philosophies regarding training and disciplining your pets.

The strictest of us allow only those privileges prescribed by only the most rigid doctrines of rules; crate-training as opposed to potty-training pads being one example. Another would be how free or limited your pet's access is to your home, as well as whether or not you choose to allow them on the furniture. (Click here to continue reading)

Green Pet Ideas
Jonelle Simons - Salt Lake City Dogs Examiner

If you are a person who constantly tries to do the right thing when it comes to the environment, then maybe it's time to take a look at your pets! Here are a few ideas to help you pooch get his green on!

Feed organic pet food! With the recent recall of more than 100 brands of pet food (some considered 'premium'), it might be time to take a closer look at what you're feeding your pets. I recommend Only Natural Pet Store for an excellent selection of all natural and organic pet foods! For treats and other pet products - another great resource is Jake's Doghouse - cool stuff for cool dogs! (Click here to continue reading)

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores

Pet Advice and Pet News: Airlines Pet Policies

Web Exclusive: Top 10 Unique Pet Products
Renee Lee -

Forget the average squeaky toy or scratching post. It’s time to get your pet something as unique as their personality. We scoured the Web and found these ten pet-pleasing products.

1. Ever wonder what Toto is up to when you’re at work? Find out with Uncle Milton’s Pet’s Eye View Camera. The lightweight camera attaches to your pet’s collar and snaps photos every 1, 5, or 15 minutes. $47.95 (Uncle Milton’s does not sell directly to consumers; look for the item at

2. Help your dogs stay cool under the Honolulu sun with Body Cooler’s Pet Cooling Mat. Soak the mat in tap water for 10 to 20 minutes, hang dry and it’ll stay cool for days. The mats are $18 to $56, depending on the size.

3. Nobody likes poop-duty, especially when your pet’s stomach is a little out of wack. Poop Freeze is an aerosol spray that uses freezing temperatures to solidify the waste. It costs $11.99 at

4. Want something that’ll soothe Wisker’s feisty behavior? Organikat’s Premium Organic Catnip is the answer. Their catnip is herbicide and pesticide-free, and the bags it’s packaged in are safe, too; they have been approved by the FDA to handle human-grade food. It’s $3.99, at

5. Encourage Lassie to get back her girlish figure by using the Jog A Dog Treadmill. The designers of the treadmill claim it combines over 30 years of research and input from veterinarians. It runs $1,195 to $2,995 at

6. Foil would-be burglars who squeeze through a dog door by installing Pet Safe’s Smart Door. The door unlocks when it recognizes the electronic key on your pet’s collar. It will automatically lock again once your pet has passed through, keeping unwanted visitors out. Prices run $132 to $221, at

7. Protect your pup’s eyes at the beach with the first the only eye protection designed for dogs. Doggles are made with shatterproof, anti-fog lenses and provide 100-percent UV protection. They are $21.99 at

8. Kick your cat off the couch and back into action with the Panic Mouse 360, an interactive cat toy that moves around in unpredictable jerking motions. It has a digital self-timer that can be set from 15 minutes to two hours. It’s $29.95 at

9. Calling all laid-back North Shore dogs: Earth Dog’s Hemp Collars are all handmade in the U.S. using hemp. The collars are biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and soften with every use. Prices range from $17 to $25 at

10. This bed is perfect for dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia: Buddy Beds have a memory foam mattress that relieves all pressure points, and a waterproof fabric liner that keeps away bacteria and dust mites. From $279, at

On a Short Leash
By Brian Livingston -

Economic downturn affecting pets, too

With every click of the camera, Ashley Owen's heart ached just that much more.

As other volunteers with the East Mississippi Animal Rescue League (EMARL) helped Owen claim a pit bulldog that could barely stand, she noted the sparse surroundings. There was no shelter from the weather for the dog. Old, bent dog dishes, long empty of any sort of nourishment, were scattered around the backyard. The only water the dog had access to came from recent rains pooling in pockmarks in the ground.

And then there was the overall shape of the dog itself.

"You could clearly see the ribs and hip bones," said Owen. "There was such a sad look on his face. He was chained to his fate until we arrived. The dog mustered all its energy just to wag its tail for us. It was very sad and I doubt the dog would've survived for very much longer."

While the nation's economic turmoil has affected every person in some way, one aspect seems to be absent from everyone's sight: the economy's impact on pets. Due to job loss and financial strain, many people have cut back on their pet's food, medical care, and other necessities. Others have decided that they cannot afford to keep their pet at all anymore. They are abandoned, either in a backyard such as the pit bulldog or just dropped alongside the road.

The 30 volunteers at EMARL such as Owen try to save as many pets as they possibly can. The non-profit group rescues animals such as this latest victim and places them in a foster home to begin the long road to recovery. The animals are taken to a vet who evaluates them and either spades or neuters them. Then a suitable permanent home with a loving family is sought out to take in the pet.

"We are seeing an increase in pets being left behind," Owen said. "Sometimes we don't get there in time. It's very disturbing."

Perhaps the most disturbing trend is the increasing number of families who are moving out of their homes (due to foreclosure and other financial reasons) and simply leaving their pets behind —on a chain. Not only are these animals left without food or water (and often shelter), but the chain leaves them with no other choice than to wait for help or starve to death. In addition, there have been other cases of pets locked inside empty foreclosed homes with no way out. According to the Humane Society, the abandonment rate is tenfold what it was two years ago, and this number continues to rise.

Owen wants to inform residents there are many options for an owner that can no longer afford to take care of their pet. In Meridian, they can turn the animal over to Animal Control or a non-profit volunteer rescue group like East Mississippi Animal Rescue. Also, if you see an animal who has been left behind, Owen urges residents to contact your local Animal Control department immediately and report the issue.

"Don’t wait for someone else to report the problem," she said. "Get involved and make a difference for an animal in need. It is important that we all come together to be a voice for those who cannot ask for help."

Finally, Owen has some advice for those who are thinking about owning a pet of any kind.

"No one forces you to have a pet," she said. "It's a choice. So if you make the choice to have a pet, please take care of it. The animal depends on you for survival, and it has no other option."

If you have any questions on animal care or want to report a suspected pet abandonment, you can contact the EMARL by calling (601) 553-3060.

Pet Insurance: Is It a Good Idea for Seniors on a Budget?
by Jim Miller -

Dear Savvy Senior

My widowed mother-in-law has two cats and a dog (her adopted family) and would be willing to spend her life savings to take care of them. Is pet insurance a good idea for her? —Concerned In-law

Dear In-law,

Most seniors who have pets treat them like their own children. If your mother-in-law is the type of person who would do anything for her furry family, including spending thousands of dollars on medical care, pet insurance is definitely worth looking into.

Rising Costs

The cost of owning a pet has gone up quite a bit in recent years. New technologies in medical treatment now make it possible for pets to undergo similar treatments as humans for many life-threatening diseases. But just as with humans, these treatments don’t come cheap.

Pet Policies

Pet insurance is actually very similar to human health insurance. Typically pet policies come with deductibles, co-pays and caps that limit how much will be paid out annually. Pre-existing health problems and hereditary conditions can exclude many animals, and the older the pet is, the more you’ll have to pay out in premiums. Some insurers won’t even cover pets older than 8.

Pet policies also vary widely on what’s covered. Some policies are comprehensive, including such things as annual checkups and vaccinations, spaying/neutering, death benefits and even reimbursement for offering a reward for lost pets. Other basic plans cover only accidents and illness. Cost, too, will vary ranging from around $10 to $25 per month for basic coverage, to $25 to $75 for a comprehensive policy.

Shopping Tips

To help your mother-in-law find a policy that meets her pet’s needs and budget, here are a few tips:

Shop and compare: To compare benefits, co-payments and deductibles of major pet insurers go to Many insurers offer discounts for insuring multiple pets -- be sure you find out. It’s also not a bad idea to check with your mom’s veterinarian to see if they have a recommendation. And do not buy a policy from an insurer that’s not licensed in your state.

Know what you’re getting: Be clear on what the policy covers and doesn’t cover, and that it works with your mom’s vet. Some companies, like Pet Assure (, are membership discount plans but only work with the vets in their network.

Cost Cutters

Whether your mother-in-law chooses pet insurance or not, here are some other ways she can cut her vet bills.

Look for discounts: Humane societies often host events or they may know of local clinics where she can get pet care and vaccinations at reduced prices. Also, find out if her vet offers discounts to seniors or offers reduced fees for annual checkups if she brings in multiple pets.

Get a second opinion. Before committing to expensive treatments or drugs, get a second opinion from another vet. Another option is to consult the Merck Veterinary Manual ( for a rundown on her pet’s condition and recommended treatments.

Shop around for meds. Get a written prescription from the vet (ask for generic if possible) so she can shop for the best price. is a good resource that has links to sites that offer lower-priced medications. And it doesn’t hurt to ask the vet if he or she has free samples they can give her.
Savvy Tips: Studies have shown that many pet owners can manage medical expenses between $500 and $1,000, but have difficulty paying beyond that level. If your mother-in-law fits that category, low-cost, high-deductible plans that cover catastrophic injury or illness are considered a sensible option. To help her decide, the American Animal Hospital Association offers a pet insurance buyer’s guide that she can access at

You also need to know that many animal advocates think most pet owners are better off forgoing pet insurance and instead putting the money they would have spent on premiums into a savings account. Depending on the policy, pet coverage can cost $1,500 to $6,000 over the life of an average pet, and most pet owners will never spend that much for treatment.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Hot Weather Advisory for Pets

Tips for Being Safe in Sun and Heat

Temperatures in Monterey County are expected to be very hot today.

The SPCA for Monterey County advises pet owners that high temperatures can be deadly for pets. Heat or sunstroke can kill an animal in less than 10 minutes.

Life threatening symptoms to be aware of include heavy panting, lethargy, and convulsions. If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, emergency veterinary care should be sought immediately. During transportation to the veterinarian, the animal should be wrapped in cool wet blankets or towels.

If possible, pets should be kept indoors or at the very least be provided with ample shaded areas. Fresh water must be available at all times.

Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can lead to heat exhaustion or possible heat stroke. Children and pets should not be left unattended in enclosed vehicles. California Penal Code section 597.7, prohibits leaving an animal in an unattended motor vehicle under "circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal." A parked car's interior can reach over 120 degrees in less than five minutes, even with the windows partially open, causing brain damage or death.

For more information on how you can keep your pet safe during hot weather, please contact The SPCA at 831-373-2631 or 422-4712 or visit

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

Tips on Giving Your Pet First Aid
By Shary Lyssy Marshall, Tampa Bay Times Correspondent

A few years ago, Judy Chissell lost her pup when he choked on something. She wishes she had known more about pet first aid. She might have saved him. • Today, in addition to being a mother of five, an RN and a cat and a dog owner, Chissell teaches pet first aid classes for the American Red Cross. The classes are designed to help pet owners care for their pet in an emergency situation, when there's no time to call the vet. We checked out one of her classes on pet first aid and got some tips and strategies:

Poison Control

If your pet swallows something that might be poisonous, call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center toll-free at 1-888-426-4435. Have any labels or packaging from the suspected poison on hand when you call.

"Poison control are the only ones who know the latest information about how to handle it when your pet swallows something poisonous," said Chissell.

Don't eat that!

Many foods that humans eat are bad for pets. In addition to chocolate and cocoa, here is a partial list of other foods the Red Cross recommends keeping away from your pet:

• Avocado

• Chives

• Coffee

• Garlic

• Milk

• Mushrooms

• Raisins

For a comprehensive list, consult your veterinarian.

Protect yourself

Even the gentlest pets can bite or scratch when they are hurt or frightened. The Red Cross stresses the importance of protecting yourself when dealing with an animal in an emergency situation. Use a muzzle or put a towel around the animal or your arm when interacting with it.

A pet lives here

In the event of an emergency, a sticker on your front door or window can alert others that a pet is in your home. You can order a free rescue sticker from the ASPCA at


Your pet might be choking on something if it acts frantic, stops breathing, is pawing at its mouth or is struggling or gasping for breath.

The most common causes of pet choking include an object stuck in throat, trauma to the neck, allergic reaction causing tongue swelling, or an ill animal choking on vomit.

Examine inside your pet's mouth for the object, and remove it, if possible. But it is important that you do not push the object farther down.

The Red Cross provides detailed instructions on performing abdominal thrusts or giving sharp blows between the animal's shoulder blades, similar to the Heimlich maneuver.

As a last resort, suspending a small pet by its hind legs can help to dislodge an object stuck in their throat. For a large pet, holding it wheelbarrow style might also help.


The Red Cross recommends using the ABCs of CPR (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) for animals that are not breathing and do not have a heartbeat or pulse. As with humans, the process starts with three critical steps.

Airway: Check the airway. Is the animal choking on something?

Breathing: Is the animal breathing?

Circulation: Is there a heartbeat or pulse?

Red Cross instructors even teach rescue breathing for small animals. Just a short breath does it — like blowing out a candle.

Be prepared

Have a pet first aid kit on hand with emergency supplies. It should include any medications your pet needs, three days' worth of food and water, and a comforting toy.

To learn more:

For details about pet CPR or helping a choking pet, go to the Red Cross Web site at

Pet first aid classes

1-4 p.m. May 24 at the St. Petersburg Red Cross Office, 818 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg.

To register, call (813) 348-4820, ext. 850, or go to

Saving Money On Pet Care
Meredith Saldana, KTEN News

So many households are cutting corners to make ends meet during this rough economy. And nationally, many veterinarians say it's trickling down to pet care. KTEN's Meredith Saldana has tips on how you can save without costing your pet it's health.

Local veterinarian, Cade Wilson, says his office hasn't noticed people not being able to pay for their animal's care.

They have however seen an increase in people asking for treatments and meds that are a little less expensive.

It's no secret that pet medical bills can add up quickly.

Especially because of something unexpected which most costly procedures for our four legged friends are.

Dr. Cade Wilson says many of his friends who practice in larger cities have noticed a significant impact because of the sour economy.

He says the best advice for those looking to save money, isn't to skip on doctor visits, but to ask your veterinarian about options.

Wilson says, "Say hey listen. And I would be truthful, say, look we're trying to save a little money is there a product that we can move to that we can still be on something and then when the economy comes back we can move back up? Because there's those products out there."

Here are some more tips from Dr. Wilson:

-Look into pet insurance. It may sound expensive but it's only about 8$ a month, less than $100 a year and pays you money back for certain shots and procedures like spaying and neutering.

-Don't skip on yearly exams. Diagnosing a problem earlier is cheaper.

-Don't cut back on flea and tick meds or heart worm meds. It's less expensive to pay for prevention meds than it is to treat a problem.

-Always ask questions.

-Using online pharmacies can save you money. But do your research first.

Dr. Wilson writes a blog once a week with tips to help you and your pet.

To read it you can log onto

New Airline Pet Airways Caters to Cats (and Dogs)
LA Unleashed

Pet-owning jet-setters seem to have good cause to worry about the safety of their animal friends when shipping them in the cargo hold of an airplane -- there are certainly a fair number of horror stories out there. And a new airline is trying a novel approach to traveling with pets.

Pet Airways, which begins service to select U.S. cities in July, will accept only four-legged passengers. ("Only in America," muses the Times of London.) Amy Lieberman at ZooToo reports:

Pet Airways hopes to expand to 25 continental cities within the next few years, Binder says, and cater to exotic pets, as well as to dogs and cats.
Here's how it works: Pet owners flying out of major airports drop their animals off at a nearby, smaller facility. The pets spend time in a pet lounge before boarding a seat-free plane, which can hold up to 50 dogs or cats.

Animals are with "pet attendants" at all times, according to Binder, as they are then loaded into secured carrying cases on the plane. People are watching the pets at all times throughout the flight, though the animals are not allowed to roam at large.

Animals' flights are made to coincide with their owners' arrangements; after owners land at their destination, they collect their pets from a lounge.

Introductory fares start at $149 for a one-way trip. "Inaugural" cities served by Pet Airways are L.A., Denver, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

Interest in the new airline seems to be high, as our colleague Jen Leo at the Daily Travel & Deal Blog explains:

Right now the website for Pet Airways is over capacity, but they are encouraging folks to check out their Facebook Fan Page, follow them on Twitter (@petairways) and inquire about reservations by e-mail at

Flying with Fluffy and Fido: Airlines' Pet Policies
By Debora Vrana, Special to The Los Angeles Times

Taking a pet on a plane can be tricky. The rules vary by airline. Some won't take animals, but others offer special perks.

For many pet lovers, a vacation wouldn't be complete without their dog or cat beside them.

But taking a pet on a plane can be tricky. Negotiating the maze of travel restrictions, which vary widely from airline to airline, is daunting. Many carriers allow small dogs or cats to ride under the seat in front of you; others don't. Some will take a large dog in the cargo hold in a kennel. Other airlines won't allow pets, period.

It's especially important to check the rules if you're traveling in the summer or winter, when many airlines have restrictions because of extreme temperatures. In the summer, some airlines prohibit pet travel to cities where the temperatures are really hot, such as Las Vegas. Sitting on the tarmac in a kennel when it's boiling hot can kill a pet.

Here's a rundown of some of the major airlines and their current policies. This information applies only to pets, not to certified service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs, because airlines are required to follow government regulations on travel for such animals.

Once you select an airline, remember to check the rules on vaccinations and a pet's health status, which can differ from state to state. International guidelines are even more complex.


Pets in cabin: Dogs, cats, rabbits and household birds.

Pets as luggage: Alaska and Horizon Air accept most small domesticated pets in the climate-controlled luggage compartment. Other pets may be accepted with approval. Pets accepted include dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters, guinea pigs, pot-bellied pigs and nonpoisonous reptiles.

Cost: $75 each way in the cabin. In cargo, it's $100 each way for a pet and kennel weighing up to 149 pounds combined.

Limit: One per traveler.

How many pets per flight: In the cabin, one in first class and five in the main cabin, for a total of six per flight.

Booking your pet: Call (800) 252-7522 in advance.

Carrier restrictions: In the cabin, the carrier must fit under the seat, and the pet must be able to move comfortably. Dimensions vary. See the website, or call reservations for specifics. In the climate-controlled luggage compartment, the largest kennel Alaska will accept is what is known as a 500-size.

Carrier availability: A limited number of in-cabin carriers are for sale at most airport locations. Please arrange in advance.

Special restrictions: If the temperature is too hot or too cold, the airline may not take pets in the cargo hold. Animals with offensive odors or those that are noisy must travel in the hold.

Perks: Once a pet is loaded into the luggage compartment, a ticket confirming the animal is onboard is delivered to the traveler.


Pets in cabin: Cats and dogs only, 20-pound limit.

Pets checked as luggage: Two pets and two kennels are allowed per passenger, with each pet in a kennel; there are some exceptions (contact the airline). The maximum weight with a kennel is 100 pounds.

Cost: Cabin pets, $80 each way. As checked baggage, $100 each way.

Limit: See above.

Maximum pets per flight: Seven.

Booking your pet: Call reservations in advance, (800) 433-7300.

Carrier restrictions: Soft-sided carriers OK, as long as they are made of nylon and have ventilation. Can't weigh more than 20 pounds.

Carrier availability: None.

Special restrictions: Check with reservations agent for hot and cold temperature restrictions. Will refuse animals exhibiting aggressive behavior. Special restrictions for travel to Hawaii.

Perks: None.


Pets in cabin: Cats, dogs, rabbits and small birds.

Pets checked as luggage: Not allowed. But the airline's PetSafe cargo program accommodates all sizes of kennels for pets weighing up to 250 pounds. Call the 24-hour live-animal desk at (800) 575-3335. You can also track your animal's journey online through the PetSafe program at

Cost: $95 each way in the cabin. Check for cargo rates.

Limit: One pet per traveler.

Weight: No limit, but pets must be in a carrier that can fit under the seat.

Maximum pets per flight: Four pets in economy class and one in first class. (No pets in the BusinessFirst cabins. )

Booking your pet: For in-cabin pets, book online or call Continental reservations, (800) 525-0280.

Carrier restrictions: The carrier must fit under the seat.

Carrier availability: In-cabin pet kennels are available at some airports for $55.

Special restrictions: No pets in the cabin to and from Hawaii. No American pit bulls anywhere, unless they are puppies ages 8 weeks to 6 months and don't weigh more than 20 pounds. Also, no pets are shipped if they have been sedated. This is due to a recommendation from the American Veterinary Medical Assn.

Perks: The airline has one of the industry's most extensive programs for pets. Continental also operates a kennel in its cargo area at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, the nation's only such facility. Overnight kenneling and grooming services are available. The airline also provides personal handling in climate-controlled vehicles for connections between flights when temperatures rise. Your pet can also earn frequent-flier miles.


Pets in cabin: Dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.

Pets as checked luggage: Because of heat concerns, pets cannot travel from May 15 to Sept. 15. During other times, only warm-blooded mammals and birds considered to be pets or show animals are allowed. Two kennels are allowed per flight.

Cost: In-cabin fee is $50. Pets checked as baggage are $100.

Limit: Only one carry-on pet per passenger. Two pets are allowed in cargo.

Maximum pets per flight: Two in the main cabin.

Booking your pet: Call (800) 221-1212.

Carrier restrictions: The carrier must fit under the seat.

Carrier availability: None.

Special restrictions: Animals must be "non-offensive" and not pose a danger to passengers or baggage handlers.

Perks: The Delta Pet First service is intended to ensure animal safety and comfort. The airline has temperature-controlled live-animal holding areas in its four hub cities: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas and Salt Lake City.


Pets in cabin: Small dogs and cats.

Pets in cargo: Not allowed, because of a lack of oxygen and pressurized air.

Cost: $50 each way.

Limit: One pet per traveler.

Weight: The combined weight of the pet and carrier can't exceed 20 pounds.

Maximum pets per flight: Four.

Booking your pet: Customers must call reservations and let them know they are traveling with a pet. Cannot use online flight check-in. (800) 538-2583.

Carrier restrictions: Must fit under the seat and have a leak-proof bottom.

Carriers availability: Soft-sided carriers that are 3 1/2 pounds empty are available for $60 (nonrefundable).

Special restrictions: No cargo pets.

Perks: TrueBlue travelers with pets earn double JetBlue miles.


Pets in cabin: Dogs, cats and household birds.

Pets as checked baggage: Allowed. Dogs, cats, household birds and other pets such as rabbits and hamsters can travel with your luggage on domestic flights; advance arrangements are required, and the airline recommends you choose nonstop flights. Only dogs and cats can travel with luggage on international flights.

Cost: $80 each way in the cabin. For pets traveling with luggage, the cost is from $139 for small pets to $359 for animals weighing 150 pounds or more.

How many: One per traveler.

Maximum pets per flight: Six carry-on pets per flight.

Booking your pet: For carry-on pets, call Northwest reservations and pay fees in advance. For checked pets, check the website before calling,, or call (800) 225-2525.

Carrier restrictions: Combined weight of carry-on kennel and pet not more than 15 pounds. Carriers must be leak-proof and ventilated on two sides.

Carrier availability: None.

Restrictions: Because of heat, embargo from June 1 through Sept. 15 for pets traveling to Las Vegas and all cities in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Perks: Offers the Priority Pet Program, with employee training at all locations and transportation in heated and pressurized luggage compartments. Also offers a more costly same-day shipping service for pets traveling in cargo.


Pets: No pets allowed.


Pets in cabin: Dogs, cats and household birds.

Pets as checked baggage: Cats, dogs and household birds. For other animals, contact United Cargo at

Cost: Cabin pets cost $85 each way; in cargo, it's $100 for smaller pets and $200 for medium-size to extra-large pets.

Limit: One pet per traveler.

Maximum pets per flight: Depends on the aircraft. Check with the airline.

Booking your pet: Call (800) 864-8331. Special cold- or hot-weather restrictions may apply for those traveling in the cargo area, so reconfirm your trip 24 to 48 hours before the flight.

Carrier restrictions: It must fit under the seat.

Carrier availability: Carriers are available.

Restrictions: Short-nosed dog breeds such as Boston terriers, boxers and English bulldogs are not accepted as cargo or checked baggage during the hotter months, June 1 to Sept. 30. Tropical birds such as parrots are not accepted in the cabin.

Perks: None.


Pets in cabin: Small dogs, cats or birds.

Pets checked with baggage: Not allowed; hub cities of Phoenix and Las Vegas have extreme temperatures. The only exception: On nonstop shuttle flights to Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., some pets are accepted as checked baggage. The customer must be on the same flight.

Cost: $80 each way.

How many: One per passenger.

Maximum pets per flight: The number of pets in the cabin is limited. Check with the airline.

Booking your pet: Call (800) 428-4322 to coordinate your pet travel plans.

Carrier restrictions: Hard-sided carriers up to 17 inches long and 16 inches wide are allowed, as well as soft-sided carriers that are leak- and escape-proof.

Carrier availability: None.

Special restrictions: Pets are not allowed in the cabin for travel to and from Hawaii.

Perks: None.

Click here for "Dating, Relationship and Intimacy Stories & Advice"

Click here for "News, Commentary and Opinions"

Our Favorite Examiner Pet Experts

23 Social Networking Sites for Pet Lovers
Laura Kepner - Tampa Pet Services Examiner

If you use Facebook or Myspace, you have probably seen a wide array of pet related topics incorporated into the popular social networking sites. It’s not surprising that new sites have risen from the demand of pet lovers wanting a place of their own on the world wide web.

No matter what your pet passion is, if you want to chat or blog about your furry baby, ask other pet owners about training, health, behaviors, etc. there are dozens of free networking sites on the Internet aimed specifically toward animal lovers.

I have compiled a list of twenty social networking sites for pet owners. From dating sites to blogging and vet advice, there is sure to be one to meet your interest.
(Click here to continue reading)

Keeping Your Pets Safe in the City
Susan NC Price - Chicago Pets Examiner

When keeping a pet in an urban environment, remember: Cities are made by and for people. The safest place for an unsupervised pet is inside its own home, whether condo or rental apartment, hotel room or (in the case of small or aquatic pets) its cage or aquarium.

This is not to say your pet can’t enjoy occasional excursions into the world at large—OK, maybe not the fish—but that you need to plan your pet’s safety during the outing. Dogs are the pre-eminent city-outing pet, but the same cautions would apply to taking a cat for a stroll, or even giving a pet ferret or guinea pig a park outing. (Click here to continue reading)

Boxer Stories from a Russian Fancier of the Breed
Sharon Sakson - Pet Life Examiner

“For me, she was like a human,” Piotr said wistfully.

We were sitting in the hospitality room for dog show judges at the Anderson Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. Piotr was our translator. He spent the day with a dozen judges, touring the city in a small green bus, while he told us the story of the Peter & Paul Fortress, the Cathedral of Spilled Blood, and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. It had been an exciting and exhausting day. (Click here to continue reading)

Effects of Marijuana on Dogs, How Does Marijuana Effect Dogs?
Mohala Johnson - Cheyenne Dogs Examiner

Marijuana or Cannabis Sativa is a recreational drug used among humans, although illegal in many states. As a result of human usage animals, including dogs, can be exposed to inhalation of smoke or ingestion.

The web site has extensive information on the subject. Here is an excerpt from the site: (Click here to continue reading)

Best Places to Live in Hawaii with Pets
Liz Rizzo - Honolulu Pets Examiner

Buddy the Dog, who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii found a great pet friendly place for you to consider if you are moving to Hawaii or want to live where your pets are warmly welcomed. Buddy was gracious enough to share this useful information with the Honolulu Pet Examiner. This was no easy task for Buddy’s owners to find a place that would allow a dog and, then to add to the situation, a 100 pound dog.

Dogs are not allowed in many public parks in Hawaii. They are not allowed in restaurants, stores, public buildings, public transportation and some beaches. There are few apartments and homes that will rent to people with pets yet 65% of people own pets that live in Hawaii. Service dogs are discriminated against sometimes and Buddy shared some stories but I will say more on that at a later time. (Click here to continue reading)

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores

Pet Advice: Can You Afford a Pet?

Tips to Curb Heart Problems
By Julie Damron -

Heart disease is a common ailment in dogs and cats. According to Idexx, a world recognized veterinary laboratory, 15 percent of all dogs and 37 percent of dogs older than 7 are affected by heart disease.

As in human cases, it can be divided into types that are congenital, or occur close to birth; and types that are acquired, occurring later in life. The acquired diseases are thought to also have some inherited component. There are also maladies that tend to be more common for cats, those that affect small dogs, and those that typically occur in large dogs. There are certain forms of heart disease that are more common in certain breeds of dogs and cats.

Animals with heart disease may have a wide range of symptoms including difficulty breathing, coughing, exercise exhaustion, weakness, open-mouth breathing, collapse, reluctance to move, anorexia, vomiting and weight loss. Sometimes animals do not show any signs of illness, yet the disease process can still be very advanced. On exam these patients may have a heart murmur, arrhythmia, weakened pulse, pale gum color, decreased capillary refill time (gum color refill time when pressed), crackles or wheezes, evidence of a clot and weight loss. Many illnesses can present in this same manner, including heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer and heartworm.

A diagnostic workup will be recommended to determine the primary cause and the extent of illness. This often includes chest X-rays, EKG, blood pressure, ultrasound, heartworm test and general blood panel. Sometimes it can be very difficult to differentiate between heart disease and respiratory disease. A cardiac biomarker blood test is available to help in these situations. The blood level of the biomarker has been successfully used to distinguish between cardiac and respiratory disease; it also has been useful in identifying heart failure.

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and extent of disease. Oxygen may be required to stabilize the dog or cat if they are in respiratory distress. The mainstay of treatment for heart disease in animals involves oral medications. Many of the same medications used in people are utilized to control the symptoms of heart disease in canines and felines. A heart-healthy diet that is low in sodium can help. Some problems need surgical intervention, such as repair of congenital problems or placement of a pacemaker. Some patients may be referred to a veterinary cardiologist for treatment. The best prevention is to provide exercise for your pet, keep his/her weight at a healthy level and schedule routine wellness exams. As with most illnesses, early intervention is important. Contact your veterinarian immediately with any signs of heart disease in your companion.

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

Be the Master of Your Dog's Training
by Jeff Nenadic

Taking control of your dog's training is an ongoing process. Many dog owners believe that once the dog has performed an exercise on command, the dog has learned the task and that is the end of it. This is not so; if you don't practice the exercises continuously the dog will either forget, or decide that it is only necessary to respond to commands when he has a mind to. If you command your dog to do something, it should be done immediately so if he does not perform you need to correct this behavior at the time. Don't leave it until later because this laid back attitude toward training will result in a lazy dog.

You don't have to chastise the dog, just ensure that he carries out your commands when you give them. Dogs are much more responsive to friendly persuasion than forceful punishment. Just saying "No" in a firm tone should resolve any stubbornness. Shouting or screaming at your dog will frighten him, to the extent that he may be so scared that he cannot respond to your commands. Your training should be based on patience, love and friendship. Statistically the latter method of training produces well adjusted and obedient dogs.

If you have neglected your training duties, and this has resulted in your dog being disobedient, you will need to take your dog back to basics. Go through the "Sit", "Stay, "Down" and "Come" commands with your dog and make certain that he understands all of the commands, together with what his response should be to them. Usually if your dog gets it right twice, you can move on to the next command until you have completed them all. Your dog may become bored if you issue the same command over and over again so you might want to change the sequence and randomly select different commands. You should also consider taking your dog to new places for his training sessions. Both you and he might welcome a change of environment from time to time.

When you have gone through the basic training add another command such as "roll over" and continue in this manner until you have taught your dog everything that you would like him to know. Remember to praise your dog or give him treats, throughout all of the sessions, when he does well.

Daily training, if time allows, is good for all dogs from puppies to very mature pets. It alleviates boredom, enhances obedience and keeps them in good physical shape. Just setting aside 10 to 15 minutes a day to spend time training and bonding with your dog, will maintain his obedience level and allow you to spend some stress free, quality time with your pet. You could combine your own exercise schedule with the training sessions so that both you and your dog become healthy and fit together.

If you simply do not have the time for regular training sessions with your dog you could allocate this task to a member of your family, someone in your neighborhood who would like to earn a few extra bucks or a professional trainer. However, it is advisable that one person handles the basic training of a dog from start to finish.

No matter how you decide to arrange your dog's training requirements, if you want to be the master never allow the dog to become the master of you.

About the Author
Written by Jeff Nenadic from My Dog Shop - Find Great unique dog beds and car seat covers for dogs.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

'Eccentricities' Turn Birds into Interesting Pets
By DR. LARRY BAKER “ For the Herald & Review

A fractured tibia was evident. It is the bone between the ankle and the knee. It wasn't a dog, not a cat, nothing the average small animal practitioner sees on a daily basis. It was a Quaker parrot - a small, green bird about the size of a dove. All 3 ounces of Piccolo was wandering around the floor as the owner got out of the bed before daylight, finding Piccolo beneath his foot. Fortunately, the principal injury was a broken leg rather than a crushed abdomen.

Piccolo was brought to my clinic, where a digital dental system, normally used to diagnose tooth abnormalities, worked well to find the fracture in the exact center of the tibia. Piccolo had not been able to crawl back into his cage because his right leg had failed him. The decision that had to be made was whether a simple splint was to be applied or a small stainless steel pin inserted into the bone under general anesthesia.

A splint was chosen for its simplicity and ease of placing it on the affected limb. A few extra pieces of tape were added to give Piccolo something to chew on since birds are notorious for removing splints. He went home about an hour after admission, able to drag his splinted limb across the floor behind him. Most likely, the limb will heal within two to three weeks.

Birds are not that different from other species. They have a heart, liver, kidneys and bones that can break. The main difference from cats, dogs and humans is that most pet birds are smaller. Limbs break much easier. X-rays can be more difficult to take. Restraint, anesthesia and vital signs monitoring are more difficult. But in other ways, there is little difference. Diabetes, heart disease and fractured limbs occur in all of these species. But birds are more fragile. In the wild, a Quaker with a broken limb probably wouldn't survive very long. In a cage with caring owners, he has a great chance of becoming normal in a few weeks.

Birds can make excellent pets. They have interesting personalities, likes and dislikes. In spite of the similarities between birds and other species of animals, they also have interesting differences. Birds have hollow bones through which air travels. They have many more vertebrae in their necks than do other animals. Giraffes and humans have seven. Birds have 11 to 25 and can place their heads on their backs, to preen feathers. Many birds, especially Quakers, can easily learn to talk and mimic other sounds, such as a telephone ring.

Some of these characteristics, common in the avian population, would be viewed as eccentricities in humans and other species. And some of those eccentricities are what make birds such as Piccolo comical and enjoyable as a pet. He is a talker and a phone imitator. He is part of the Dalke family, who moved to Blue Mound from Nebraska. And if he can keep from roaming through the home during hours of darkness, he may be around for 30 years as a special pet.

Speaking for Alex this week is Dr. Larry Baker, who practices small animal medicine and veterinary dentistry at 2800 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Decatur. To submit a question, write to Ask Alex, c/o Herald & Review, Box 311, Decatur, IL 62625 or e-mail

The Benefits of Training Your Cat
by Jay Stephens

Are you looking for some inside information on cat training advice and training guide? Here's an up-to-date report from cat training advice, cat litter training, cat obediance, cat potty training, cat training dvd, cat training guide, all from experts who should know.

Despite all of the stereotypes, kitties are not completely self-sufficient creatures. They still need their human families to feed and water them, and to shelter them. And, despite all of their protests against it, kitties need their humans to love them just like any other animal. Adopting a cat can be a very good feeling, as well as a major challenge at times. We want our family life to be calm and warm, not frantic and frustrating, so we need all of the members, including the small furry ones, to be at their best behavior. Training your cat can ensure that you have a gentle, loving pet that does not eat your furniture and pee in your houseplants. Training your cat does not only protect it from potential threats, but keeps your belongings safe from destruction as well.

Cats claw, scratch, bite and chew for many reasons. If they are doing these things to food items or their cat toys, that is great, but many times they will find something else. Cats that chew on the new carpet or the electrical cords are not only destroying your possessions, they are also endangering their own lives. Kittens will chew on things for the same reasons that puppies and human babies do- they are discovering their world, as well as teething. Give them substitutes and reward them for chewing on the right items. If an older cat has suddenly developed a urge to gnaw on things other than food or usual toys, then consider whether he is bored, or if it is possible that he has a nutritional inbalance.

Knowledge can give you a real advantage. To make sure you're fully informed about cat training advice,keep reading.

Poorly trained kitties will often start using the entire house as their personal litter box. If you have ever walked in the house when the litter box needs to be changed, you know how disgusting that can truly be. If your cat is using items like your bed or favorite chair to potty on, he might be sending you a message. Does he dislike the new litter you bought? Did you move his litter box? Or, have you started spending too much time with that guy in 2A that stomps his feet at kitty when you are not in the room? Although most cats will train well to the box and never have issues, some are more stubborn and this behavior can often be the deal breaker for many families.

A well-trained cat will charm and amuse your guests when they come to your home. He will make your days seem warmer and brighter. Because he knows what is expected of him, he will not have as much stress, leading to a calmer more easily controlled cat. Calmer cats are more affectionate because they are not nervous or high-strung. Training your cat allows him to focus on good behaviors and the things that make a cat's life a good one; napping, eating and stalking dust motes in the sunny patch by the window.

As a cat owner myself, I have learned the benefits of training my cats because it just makes my life much easier. My cats are well-behaved and are very passionaite these traits are wonderful and I hold them dear to my heart. I found a website that has more information on training your cat take advantages of all the information the site has to offer.

About the Author
My name is Jay Stephens. I am a pet lover and I currently live in Canada

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

Your Pet Should Get a Lyme Disease Vaccination
Ask Dr. Watts - Dr. Michael Watts, Vet Care,

Q: Should I have my dog vaccinated against Lyme disease?

A: The best way to prevent tick-borne diseases is to properly apply a veterinary-quality tick control product all year. However, despite making this recommendation until I am blue in the face, I routinely see dogs contract Lyme disease. In fact, I have seen several dogs die from terrible complications from this illness. As a result of my first hand experiences, I have become an advocate of vaccinating many dogs against the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

The answer to whether or not a particular dog should be vaccinated depends on many factors. Vaccination decisions should always be made in consultation with your dog’s veterinarian after a thorough physical examination and risk assessment. Your veterinarian will evaluate your dog’s health, breed, lifestyle, immune status, and tick control program in helping you decide. He may also want to run a screening test for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Personally, I recommend vaccination for most puppies and young adults. Except in puppies, I like to test for prior exposure at the time of the initial vaccination. For older dogs, I am less likely to recommend the vaccine. An older dog that is not infected either has a low risk lifestyle, an adequate tick control regimen, or natural immunity against the disease. A recent five year study demonstrated there may be some benefit to vaccinating dogs after they have been treated for Lyme disease.

There is much misinformation out there regarding the Lyme vaccine. Much of the confusion comes from the fact that there are three distinct types of vaccination available. Each has a different set of risks and benefits. The three types of Lyme vaccine are:

Whole cell bactrin - This vaccine is the “traditional” Lyme vaccine and is still widely used. It is essentially the whole bacteria ground up and put into a jar. It is made up of many, many proteins. The whole cell bactrin has the highest risk of inappropriate immune reaction. I do not use this vaccine because of its reactivity. However, it is the most commonly administered type of Lyme vaccine.

Recombinant DNA, non-adjuvanted - This vaccine is my preferred product. There is only a single Lyme protein used in the vaccine. It is the Outer Surface Peptide A, or OspA. OspA is the protein the Lyme bacteria uses to inject itself from the tick into the dog. Once the bacteria enters the dog’s body, the protein is no longer exhibited on the surface of the organism. In essence, it’s like a sock turning inside out. The immune system cannot see the protein once an infection occurs. This means that the vaccine only works in the tick. If there is vaccine failure or previous infection, there is no additional immune reaction in the dog.

Since it is a single protein, the vaccine does not pose much risk of allergic reaction or other excessive immune stimulation. I have used the vaccine for about seven years and cannot recall a single adverse event. The only negative I have experienced is the cost. It is the most expensive vaccine that our practice uses.

Recombinant DNA, adjuvanted – Frankly, I do not understand why this vaccine is marketed. They go through the expensive technical process of making a recombinant vaccine. Then they add an artificial adjuvant to increase its reactivity. The long term effects of chemical adjuvants are controversial and I try to avoid them as much as possible in my vaccine selection. I prefer the non-adjuvanted vaccine which uses a canarypox virus in place of a chemical adjuvant. (Canarypox has no effect on dogs - it does not even affect birds other than canaries.)

Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached through or by calling 428-1000.

Are Corner Aquariums A Solution To Space Shortage?
by Joe Slavin

If you have decided on buying an aquarium, you may want to consider one of the corner aquariums which are the best option to fill an otherwise void space. There are a wide variety of models to pick from, which can be from the basic through to ones which come complete with cabinets or stands and hoods incorporating lighting and filtration solutions so that the exterior look is appealing and at the same time efficient.

For many fish keeping enthusiasts, especially in the smaller type homes being built today, if space is at a premium, this is where the corner aquarium comes into it's own being the ideal space saver. Fishkeeping has been a very popular pastime for many millions of people in all corners of the world and now with these type of tanks being available, gives the option to be a fishkeeper to many millions more.

The normal oblong style of aquariums we see are more often than not situated against a wall, but this may possibly deny the householder the room required for a bit of furniture with greater priority. Not only in the home, but in offices and restaurants where space can be at a premium, corner fish tanks again can fill the needs of the proprietors. They will still do the job of relaxing and entertaining the occupants without taking up valuable space that could reduce their profits.

There is no need to sacrifice style with these types of aquariums as there is a good array to choose from. Some have a bowed front, others have a straight front and others have a front with one large glass panel and two smaller ones on either side. A corner fish tank aquarium can even be custom made to fit any space and to suit most situations. In actual fact you can fill a piece of previously wasted space with an ornamental fish tank and receive the pleasure and ambiance given with such a display.

A pair of tanks could be situated in flanking corners of an area to produce a pleasing result and illuminate a dull corner. This also gives the fish keeper the opportunity to vary the types of aquariums he wants. For instance you might go for a fresh water aquarium in one area and a saltwater aquarium in the other.

When set in place these corner fish tanks especially with complementary aquarium stands and hoods can be aesthetically pleasing. They will equally provide lots of enjoyment and relaxed atmosphere to clients in eating places, office settings or to any pet fish devotee. .

About the Author
To find out more about aquariums and lots of accessories, visit => or if you are in the UK click this link for corner aquariums =>

Click here for "Dating, Relationship and Intimacy Stories & Advice"

Click here for "News, Commentary and Opinions"

Can You Really Afford That Pet?
Gloria Nye -

During a recession, many families are desperate to find ways to cut corners with expenses, and, unfortunately, pets often bear the consequences.

Animal shelters are reported to be at capacity and unable to rescue all of the pets being given up by owners who can no longer afford to keep them.

More than one in three Americans are pet owners, owning more than 65 million dogs and 77 million cats. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says annual costs for a dog can range from $1,000 to $2,000 in the first year, depending on the size of the dog. That figure does not include kenneling, if the owner has to travel, which can easily cost $15 to $25 per day.

Cats cost slightly less per year, but most people have more than one, and cats live longer on average. So costs for cats over time are about the same or more than for dogs. Rabbits cost slightly more per year than cats, and Guinea pigs cost slightly less. Even the costs for the care of small rodents, birds and fish can be $200 to $300 per year.

Americans spend an average of $350 per year in medical expenses for a dog, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Diagnostic testing or surgery can cost $1,000 to $5,000.

Americans spent $36 billion on their pets in 2005, and $8.6 billion of that spending was for veterinary care.

Even a free pet can be expensive to maintain. “Cost to own” is usually associated with car buying, but it is relevant to pet ownership, too. And time also should be factored in as a cost to any potential pet owner.

Before getting any pet, be sure you can afford the ownership costs for its projected life span. A helpful pet ownership expense worksheet for children and parents is available with this column at or

If you already own a pet and you are experiencing financial difficulty, ask the local animal shelter or Humane Society if they know of a nonprofit or low-cost animal hospital in your area that you can use for pet medical services. Locally, a good resource is Hope for Animals, based in Thibodaux. You can reach the nonprofit animal-rescue group at 447-3103 or

Shop around and find pet medical care you can afford for preventative annual exams. Cutting costs by buying cheaper pet food does not save money if your pet’s health deteriorates and you have to pay for additional veterinary care and treatments or prescriptions. Spending more for quality pet food can save money in the long run because better quality pet food can prevent health problems that will cost more money to treat.

Do not jeopardize your own financial security to care for a pet you can no longer afford. Ask for help. Contact your local food bank and animal shelter to ask if pet food assistance is available.

Even in tough times, it is not all glum. As one pet owner says, “We pet owners live longer and less stressful lives than those who don’t own pets, so maybe there is some cost savings to us in the long run.”

Gloria Nye is an LSU AgCenter agent in Opelousas. You can reach her at (337) 948-0561.
Our Favorite Examiner Pet Experts

Keeping Your Pets Safe in the City
Susan NC Price - Chicago Pets Examiner

Amber wears a pinch collar; Crystal has traditional leash and collar.When keeping a pet in an urban environment, remember: Cities are made by and for people. The safest place for an unsupervised pet is inside its own home, whether condo or rental apartment, hotel room or (in the case of small or aquatic pets) its cage or aquarium.
(Click here to continue reading)

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores