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Pet Talk: So You Want a Pet Bird?

Now more than ever, Americans are constantly on the go. Long days at the office coupled with the demanding extra-curricular activities for kids leaves little time spent at home. So before adding another member to the family, it is important to consider the responsibilities of caring for and choosing your pet bird.

“There are several factors to consider before purchasing a pet bird,” explains Dr. Sharman Hoppes, an avian specialist at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“Space, cost, time, family, and life longevity must be taken into consideration.“

Before introducing a pet bird into your family, the size of your home must be evaluated.

“The cage can take up a considerable amount of space, especially for large birds. In addition to having a cage, all pet birds should have a play gym to encourage exercise,” says Dr. Hoppes.

Because of their eating habits, birds regularly require their owners to clean up around the cage. Owners must also be able to handle their noisy demeanor.

“Pet birds tend to be very messy. They pick at food and leave crumbs everywhere, often spewing their messes outside of their cage,” comments Hoppes.

“Birds can also be loud, so take neighbors into consideration, especially if living in an apartment or duplex.”

Purchasing a bird can often be an impulse buy; however, it is important to think about all of the annual costs before obtaining a new feathered friend.

“A large cage, toys, and the appropriate food can become costly, especially for large birds. Veterinary costs should also be considered, as it is especially important to check for hidden illnesses,” notes Hoppes.

“For example, parrots are prey animals and hide signs of illness or disease. Chlamydophila, a zoonotic disease transferred not only from bird to bird, but bird to person, can be found in some birds and makes it absolutely necessary for pet birds to be initially examined by a veterinarian.”

In addition to space and cost, it is essential that the amount of time the bird will spend alone in the house be considered.

“Birds are flock animals and need a lot of socialization, so sitting alone all day in a cage can be very stressful,” continues Hoppes.

“Birds are also very intelligent and need plenty of mental stimulation. They should receive lots of interaction with humans, preferably outside of their cage for a minimum of a couple of hours each day.”

Considering the rest of the family is also important before purchasing a pet bird.

“Be careful if you have small children. Birds can bite, and large birds can bite even harder. A small child must be monitored very closely around pet birds,” comments Hoppes.

It is also important to note that some birds live much longer than a dog or cat and owners must be prepared for a life-long friend.

“A cockatiel can live for up to 25 years, and a macaw or cockatoo can live for 60 years. People have to be prepared for a very long-lived pet,” states Hoppes.

If after considering all of the above a family decides to obtain a pet bird, it is time to determine which type of bird best suits their needs.

“Budgerigars (budgies or parakeets) and cockatiels are the most common types of pet birds. They are reasonably priced, fairly quiet, and do not require a large cage. They can also be quite entertaining if hand-raised and interacted with frequently,” says Hoppes.

“When it comes to larger birds, the African gray parrot and the yellow-naped or yellow-headed Amazon are very popular because of their unique talking abilities. The large macaws talk some, but not as well as the Amazon or African gray; however, their large size and beauty make them popular with many.”

Routine care and veterinary visits are necessary for the health of a pet bird.

“Birds need to be seen by a veterinarian yearly or more frequently if they have health issues. Their wings and nails need to be trimmed two to three times a year,” notes Hoppes.

“Their water and papers should be changed daily and a pelleted bird diet mixed with healthy fruits and vegetables should be maintained.”

Even though caring for a pet bird may seem overwhelming at first, birds can be fun, entertaining additions to the family.

“Parrots are amazing, wonderful pets, but people need to realize that they are loud, messy, and expensive to appropriately maintain. I have seven and wouldn’t give them up for anything!” Hoppes lovingly concludes.

With appropriate consideration and proper care, pet birds make excellent companions and can become life-long friends.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at

Pint-Sized Yorkie Center of a Battle for Custody

The drama in the Harris County courtroom Friday befitted a most serious legal battle — a lawyer shouting accusations at a witness and soaring to a long-winded crescendo. A stern judge warning he wanted no trouble from either side.

But a lawyer for one of the aggrieved parties provided a dose of perspective.

“We’re here today about the custody, ownership and possession of a 4½-pound Yorkie,” said attorney Zandra Anderson.

A Yorkshire Terrier called Angel, to be exact, a six-year old pet that supposedly nips people and stains carpets and is now at the center of a nasty dispute about who owns her.

Pamela Allen, who claims she is the owner, testified she was stunned in March when her pet sitter gave Angel to a neighbor while Allen was on a family trip to Galveston.

Pamela Van Oster, the pet sitter countered that Allen told her to find the often-unpleasant animal a new home and she finally did so.

Robert Hudson, Van Osters lawyer, demanded to know why, if Allen was so upset the pet sitter had given Angel away, she still paid her.

State District Judge Mike Miller ordered Richard Lowrey, a 71-year-old retiree who got Angel from the pet sitter, to give the dog back to Allen at least until the full case is tried. A trial is scheduled for June on Allen’s lawsuit against Lowrey and Van Oster, basically for dognapping and infliction of emotional distress. Counter claims are expected too.

“No more nonsense with regard to the dog,” the judge ordered Friday. “I don’t want any problems. I don’t want anybody getting weird.”

A previous court order to return the dog was ignored by Van Oster and Lowrey, as was a subpoena to bring the dog to court.

Allen, an oil company engineer who paid $800 for Angel in late 2002, said she was outraged her pet sitter gave one of her dogs to Lowrey, who’d just lost his own Yorkshire terrier. Allen said Van Oster didn’t approve of how often the Yorkie was crated, so she stole the dog.

Allen said she cried constantly, called the police and put up fliers to find her dog. She said she spotted Lowrey walking Angel and she tried to grab the dog back, but Lowery hit her.

“I never gave Angel away. She’s part of the family,” Allen said. She said Angel likes to be pulled around in the pool on a raft and to play with Allen’s daughter.

Van Oster, an engineer on disability who pet sits from her home, testified that Allen long wanted to give the dog away and changed her mind the day after she learned the dog finally had a new home.

Van Oster stressed that Angel growled frequently and was not house broken. “I have my own Yorkie and it doesn’t take six years to potty train a Yorkie,” Van Oster testified.

Allen’s lawyer Anderson said prosecutors are looking at whether there should be criminal charges filed.

Pets Niacin Deficiency - Does it Actually Exist?
By Frank Will

The answer is a definite yes, and although it is more common in dogs than cats, cats actually need more niacin than dogs. If the deficiency is severe, it could cause your pet to lose their life.

Niacin, which is also known by the Vitamin B3 as well as nicotinic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin which means that it dissolves in water, and as a result, your pet can not store it in their body. It must be replenished by your pets diet, or if necessary, through supplements.

Like most of the B vitamins, this nutrient assists the enzymes in your pet's bodies, and enzymes are the catalysts that essentially start chemical reactions within the body. These chemical reactions in your pet's body are responsible for the conversion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into energy.

What makes this so critical to either your dog or your cat is that dogs are omnivores, which mean they must eat meat and vegetables, and cats are carnivores, which mean they must eat meat. Without niacin as the catalyst, they run the risk of the enzyme functions not working properly.

Niacin is also very important to your pet as it synthesizes starch that can be stored in the animal's body's muscles as well as their liver, and as a result will also be used later on as an energy source. Niacin also helps to improve blood circulation in your pets.

This nutrient also plays a critical function in the chemical processing of fatty acids that are important in their fat containing structures such as cell membranes as well as fat based hormones that are referred to as steroid hormones.

The biggest threat for both your dog and your cat with a deficiency of niacin is what is referred to as Black Tongue or Sore Mouth Disease. Black tongue disease is more frequent in dogs, while cats are more likely to develop a sore mouth disease.

Both are a result of deficiency of this nutrient, and are similar to Pellagra in humans. In humans, pellagra is caused by eating a diet consisting of primarily corn products, while in pets it is usually associated with owners that create their own pet foods and ignore meat in the mixture.

Dogs and cats were not created to be vegetarians, and forgetting this as an owner could result in Niacin deficiency in your pets. Dogs that suffer from Black Tongue disease will start to rapidly lose weight because they are not eating, as it is painful to them to eat.

With this disease their gums will also become inflamed, as well as their lips and inner cheeks. Other symptoms that dogs will encounter may include gingivitis, glossitis, which is abnormality of the tongue due to the inflammation, as well as excessive salvation or drooling.

This condition is very painful to your canine friend.

Bloody diarrhea as well as vomiting may also follow and if it not properly diagnosed and treated by a professional, it could result in the death of your pet.

Cat's symptoms of a deficiency will be more along the line of mouth ulcers, and as a result, they will develop thick and very foul smelling salvia, and they to will start to drool. The same ailments will affect cats, however, with weight loss, and weakness.

However, cats are than very prone to respiratory disease as a result of this deficiency which could lead to death if not treated.

The major reason that cats actually need more niacin than dogs is that your feline friend is not able to synthesize niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, due to excesses of a certain enzyme in their body.

Tryptophan, an essential amino acid is formed from proteins during the ingestion processes. It is critical for normal growth and development, and is the actual precursor of several substances, which includes niacin.

As a result, unlike other animals, your feline's requirement form niacin must be met entirely from the niacin that is found in animal tissues that they eat. Your cat must have meat and protein, again as they are carnivores.

Your dog or your cat will depend totally on you for their diet; making sure that they get the proper amount of this nutrient either from their diet or in the form of supplements will have an impact on their quality of life.

I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a "mutt" that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.

He found us, nearly starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds.

After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the little guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and today is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.

After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.

Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.

I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process.

Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website;
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When Your Dog Gives Birth - What Should You Do?
By Alex De La Cruz

Expectation gets higher when you find out that your beloved pet will soon become a mommy. Just imagine the addition of the newest member or members in your family. If this is your pooch's first time you might be also as anxious as she is. Once you got the good news you need to make certain preparations in order to help her. Remember that during this time your pooch badly needs your help and by showing some care you would be able to show that you are there for her. When your dog gives birth you need to prepare ahead of time which means that you prepare your home for it.

The first thing that you need to do is to find a labor area. Your pooch does not like an expose area so you might as well choose those that are not common for everyone -those that are not in the way. Next you need to find the whelping box just right for your soon-to-be mommy pet. The size should be wide enough to provide as much comfort as needed. When your dog gives birth expect that it will be a bit sensitive so try to get in your pet's shoes and never attempt to be snappy. This whelping box is for your pooch and her pup so try to one that can accommodate all of them.

One thing that you should always remember is to be alert especially when the due date gets closer. If you are not sure of estimating the exact time then you might as well get the body temperature of your pet from time to time. When its temperature goes down then that is an indication that labor time is drawing near. A dog gives birth to a varied number of pups or sometimes called dog litter size. This depends on your dog's breed and physical condition. Normally when it is your pooch's first time the number of pups can be one or two.

However there are times that she gives birth to more than that. It is also advisable to consult your pet's vet so that you would be properly guided all through out. Its vet would also be able to give you more information and detailed instructions that you will find handy. You would also need blankets to keep your dog warm and comfy and curtains if you don't have a separate room in order to keep her hidden from anyone. Remember that she usually doesn't want to be in the way during labor time. But what counts the most is your presence when your dog gives birth.

You may not know it but it is always highly appreciated by your pet. The care and concern that you show means a lot to it especially when it feels helpless. With you around the chance for survival of the newborn puppies are higher because there are dogs which tend to hurt and sometimes even eat their young. You must avoid this situation so it is best that you are around when your dog gives birth. Your presence does not only make you as a caring owner but also as a protective one.

The author of this article, Alex De La Cruz, is a Dog Expert who has been successful for many years. Because most people think that Arthritis is a humans-only disease Alex now informs dog owners with his Ebook on how to discover this disease and let their dogs live as pain-free as possible.

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Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

Trip Prep for Pet

Dear Readers: Have you decided to TAKE YOUR PET with you when you go on your vacation this year? Well, the good news is that there are many hotels that allow pets, so check where you will be staying. Also, be sure to check with friends or relatives -- don't assume that it will be OK to bring your pet.

Take pets on short trips to get them used to the car slowly, especially if you are going on a long trip.

It's usually best to crate pets. Dog harnesses (that can be attached to seat belts) can be bought at pet stores. Cats are best crated so they don't jump out of the vehicle or get injured.

Put two collars with identification on your pet when traveling, just in case one falls off. And please include an area code and phone number of someone who can be reached as well as your cell phone number. A reader said she included the name and phone number where they were staying just in case of a lost pet.

Hopefully, these hints are helpful and all will be well! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My granddaughters gave me a black puppy who is a Lhasa apso and poodle mix. My husband was very much against it, as we have been married 59 years and never had a pet.

He works part time, and he went to the shop telling everyone we had a new puppy. He was asked what kind it was. Well, he could not remember, so he told them the first thing that popped into his mind, which was, "He's half poodle and half laptop!" Everyone died laughing. We decided his name had to be Lap Top after that.

He lives up to his name, because as soon as I sit down in my recliner, he jumps up in my lap. I must tell you that Lap Top has stolen my husband's heart -- he takes Lap Top with him everywhere he goes. -- Maridell Johanson, La Vernia, Texas


Dear Readers: Joyce DeShazo of Elkhart, Texas, sent a photo of her granddog Sierra, a 6-month-old chocolate Lab puppy, watching a baseball game on TV. Joyce says: "She enjoys cartoons, but will settle for baseball, especially if it is her home team, the Phillies! She is from Glenmoore, Pa., and lives with my daughter and son-in-law, and she is a little bundle of joy!"

To see Sierra enjoying the baseball game, visit -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Many of us use potpourri to scent our homes. Liquid potpourri used in simmering pots is often made with ingredients that could be toxic to pets. If they walk through and lick or put their paws in the liquid, they could get very sick! If your pet has ingested potpourri, take it to the veterinarian immediately! The best prevention is to keep these liquid potpourris out of the reach of all pets and children! -- Heloise

Dog Bladder Problems - 5 Reasons Why Your Dog Stops Urinating
By Kate Rieger

Are you concerned that your dog is having difficulty urinating, or isn't producing any urine at all? Whether he is a young or old dog, difficulty urinating is a sign of serious trouble that needs to be dealt with right away. If you fail to treat the problem, your dog could die. Take him to the vet so that the cause of the problem can be properly diagnosed. These are the five most common reasons for a dog not urinating:

Five Common Causes of a Dog Not Urinating

1. Canine UTI;
2. Blockage from urinary stones;
3. Unneutered older male dog with enlarged prostate;
4. Urinary tract tumor;
5. Weak bladder muscles

In a young or old dog, difficulty urinating can result from a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI may cause painful spasms in the urethra, which can shrink the urethral opening and make it difficult for your dog to pass urine. A homeopathic remedy provides effective prevention and treatment for canine UTIs. Homeopathic remedies are free of side effects and provide a gentle way to combat the bacteria that cause infection.

Urinary stones are another possible cause of a dog's urinary difficulties. They can block the flow of urine, and are much more common in male dogs, since male dogs have a narrower urethra than female dogs. One reason why your dog may develop urinary stones is lack of adequate hydration, so be sure to keep a supply of clean, filtered water available to him.

Urinary stones are composed of magnesium, so you can also help prevent urinary stones by giving him plenty of low magnesium, unprocessed raw food. Homeopathic remedies can also help prevent urinary stones, and can keep his bladder and urinary tract healthy and functioning properly.

Is your dog an unneutered male? Especially for an old dog, difficulty urinating can arise as a result of an enlarged prostate gland. An enlarged prostate compresses the urethra, making it difficult or impossible for your dog to urinate. Another possible cause of a dog's urinary troubles is a prostate gland infection, which can cause the gland to swell and slow or stop the flow of urine.

Another serious cause of a dog's inability to urinate is a urinary tract tumor. While this condition is rare, it's important to have your dog seen by a vet right away if he isn't urinating. Your vet can run the proper tests and examine your dog to see if a tumor might be causing your dog's urinary troubles.

In an old dog, difficulty urinating can also be caused by weak bladder muscles. Muscle weakness can make it a challenge for an old dog to urinate.

These are the five most common causes of a dog's failure to urinate. To diagnose the problem, it's important to get your dog to the vet for testing. Your vet will recommend a course of treatment, but if you are seeking a natural, gentle remedy, discuss homeopathic treatments with your vet. Homeopathic remedies have a proven safety record and are gentle on your dog's system.

In a young or old dog, difficulty urinating should not go untreated. If you opt for conventional treatment, a homeopathic remedy can function as an adjunct to the medication for more effective healing and for preventing recurrence of the problem. In contrast to steroids and antibiotics, homeopathic remedies can safely be used long term to strengthen your dog's urinary system and prevent a relapse of your dog not urinating.

About The Author: Find a non-prescription medication for treating a dog not urinating that is 100% safe and effective. Kate Rieger is partnered with the Kentucky S.N.I.P clinic and together they provide affordable natural alternatives for treating pets in the region. Visit Kate's site today to find more options for treating your best 4-legged friend naturally at

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Common Outdoor Pet Toxins
By Jean Maixner, DVM - Seattle PI

Do you have a pet friendly yard?

Green is the signature color of the Pacific Northwest. The winter rain, cool fall, warm springs and summer sunshine creates a blend resulting in the rich, natural colors of the northwest. We try to save, savor and enrich this beauty by tilling and toiling in our yards. However, some of the yard materials we use can be toxic to our pets. Here is a short list of some things you may have or use in your yard that are toxic to your pets. For more information on toxins and a detailed list of poisonous materials, please see the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Website

•Slug bait
Many slug bait insecticides use a material called Methaldehyde. Metaldehyde was originally developed as a pelleted form of fuel for lanterns. Pellets spilled on the ground were found to kill slugs. Today, the manufacturers of slug bait add materials to the bait to attract the slugs, these additives also attract many dogs. Metaldehyde is a neurotoxin that causes drooling, uncontrolled tremors and seizures.

Many fertilizers contain insecticides and iron. Some fertilizers contain fish mulch that attracts dogs and cats who find fish products tasty. These fertilizers have insecticides with varying toxicity levels depending on the type. Fertilizer toxicity can appear as drooling,

Pets love the outdoors but you must be vigilant and aware of potential toxins.tremors, vomiting, diarrhea and/or seizures. Fertilizers use Iron to enhance the green in grasses and plants. It is a stomach irritant that causes vomiting and stomach ulcers. Very high iron concentrations can cause liver damage. If you use fertilizers, please read the labels carefully and use as the manufacturer advises.

•Cocoa mulch
Cocoa mulch is becoming a popular yard dressing. It is mulch made from the cocoa bean shell. As with cocoa (chocolate) the shell contains substances (theobromine and caffeine) that act as stimulants. Dogs are especially sensitive to these substances and ingestion can result in excitability, fast heart rate, heart arrhythmias and death. If you have dog that has indiscriminate eating behavior or is attracted to chocolate, consider using other types of mulch.

•Yard Compost
Compost is great natural way to fertilize your yard. However, even this natural nutrient source can be a hazard for your pet. Compost is broken down by various bacteria and other microoganisms such as mold. Some of the molds that grow in the compost release chemicals that are toxic to our pets. Toxic signs range from vomiting and diarrhea to tremors, salvation and seizures. Compost bins should be securely contained to prevent pet access.

Grape (and raisins) can be toxic to dogs. In 1989 the SPCA Animal Poison Control was receiving reports of dogs eating grapes or raisins and developing vomiting, anorexia, kidney failure and death. The exact cause of the toxicity unknown but is thought to be associated with a mold toxin. Dogs are sensitive to the suspected toxin. Dogs eating grapes off the vine can have renal failure and die. Reports of renal failure from eating grapes or raisins have not been reported in other species.

Lilies are beautiful plants that add rich color to our landscapes and homes. However, lilies

Lilies are a beautiful addition to any garden, but can be fatal to cats.can be deadly for cats. A cat ingesting a small amount of the lily plant can develop complete renal failure and death. Cats ingesting a little of the leaf or a small bit of pollen can get very sick. They start vomiting with in a few hours and can be in irreversible kidney failure with in 24 hours.

•Coffee Grounds
Seattle is infamous for its coffee, and almost everyone loves some form of coffe or tea. One use for all those used coffee grounds and tea bags that has become increasingly popular is spreading them in the garden. Gardeners use the grounds to add acidity to the soil for plants that thrive on this sort of nutrient, as well as help add nitrogen and nutrition

Coffee grounds are great for the environment and an excellent way to recycle, but can be harmful if ingested by your the soil or ward off slugs and snail. But the theobromide and caffeine in grounds can be dangerous to dogs and cats. Effects of ingestion include excitement, increased respiratory and heart rate, muscle tremors, and in more serious cases heart arrhythmias.

Before you work in your yard this spring, make sure you educate yourself on what you will be working with, and find natural alternatives to common toxins. Today there are dozens of products available that are not only organic and great for the environment, but safe for pets people. Also, talk to your neighbors and know exactly what they are putting in their yards that your pet may have contact with. Remember that many fertilizers can stay in the environment for long periods of time, so read all labels carefully and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

If you suspect your pet has had exposure to any of these common yard toxins, call your veterinarian right away. It is also extemely important that you know what your pet has ingested and be able to show it to your veterinarian. So, bring any packaging with you.

The Secrets of a Cat's Meow
By Kelly Braid

All animals, including man exude and create some form of sound from which they are able to communicate and express their thoughts and feelings. There are vast amounts of sounds which can be heard from the entire animal kingdom and each sound depends on which species or animal it came from. Probably one of the most intriguing animal sounds that people want to know more about are the meows of a cat.

One might ponder upon the thought as to why do cats meow and the answer to that is very simple. Cats vocalize and communicate with each other and to other animals, including humans through a sound they make which we call a "meow". The voice box and vocal chords of felines are very versatile. They produce varying pitches of highs and lows to create basic noise and the sound we know as the meow.

There are many reasons as to the meaning and purpose of a meowing cat. Some meows can easily be understood and interpreted as the cat gives ample amounts of body language accompanied by a familiar meow sound. An example of this when a cat begs for food, the cat will exude a meow which is semi-high pitched in sound while constantly trying to lead you to his or her food bowl. Or a cat meowing loudly while standing and waiting by the door means the cat wants you to let her out or open the door. The cat is very intelligent and independent in nature so communicating with other animals and humans is quite easy for them.

Some reasons as to the secrets of why do cats meow is determined by hormones and biological factors. When a female cat is in estrus or a phase in which she is ready to reproduce, she will constantly call by constantly emitting a very long and loud meow which gets the attention of all nearby male cats. If she mates she will stop meowing but if she does not mate, she will continue to meow very loudly every two to three weeks until she has mated successfully. Male cats as well produce sexual meows. Caterwauls are the calls or answers of the male cats for every call of the female cat in estrus, or heat. The sounds of caterwauls are very deep and kind of peculiar. Many get the chills from hearing the cats meow due to their sexual hormones.

Cats basically meow if they want something or due to hormonal and biological reasons. Cats are normally very quiet creatures and will rarely continuously meow without a reason. If this happens the cat may be in pain and she is trying to tell you something. In this case a trip to the local veterinarian should be made to rule out any medical problems.

Now that the secrets of the question - why do cats meow have been uncovered, one should be able to understand his or her pet cat and why they create different variations of their cat meows.

Kelly is a cat enthusiast. Visit Purrfectly Trained Cat for more expert advice on why cats meow as well as other cat-related information and tips on how to have a well-behaved, happy cat.

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Pet Pause: What to Do About Ear Infections
By Robin Shroyer/Contributor/The Adobe Press

One of the more frustrating problems for dogs, dog owners and veterinarians are ear infections. Unfortunately, the dog’s ear canal has a vertical component which leads downward to the horizontal canal and eventually to the ear drum. This arrangement predisposes the ear to infection since any contamination must move outward and up to be removed. When the ear canal is irritated by allergies, fox-tails or excessive hair, increased wax is produced. This moisture promotes bacterial growth and infection.

The symptoms of an ear infection are scratching at ears, head shaking, holding one ear lower than the other and pain when petting your friend. Too much shaking or scratching can lead to the rupture of a blood vessels within the earflap. This is called an aural (ear) hematoma. These usually need to be surgically repaired to prevent scarring.

Usually a sample of the debris in the ear canal is examined microscopically to help select the appropriate medication. Most ear infections can be resolved with a professional ear cleaning followed by treatment with medication at home. When there is only a mild amount of debris in the ear canal simple washing of the ear may be enough. With more serious ear infections your veterinarian might recommend sedating your pet for a thorough cleansing of the ear canal and an opportunity to look closely at the eardrum.

It is very important that the medication that is supplied for your pet is used as directed. If you have any doubt about how to treat the ears, contact the hospital staff for advice. After two weeks of treatment at home, your friend should be evaluated to make sure the infection is gone.

Sometimes after discontinuing the medication, the infection returns. This will prompt a culture of ear canal to pinpoint the organism that is growing and determine it’s susceptibility to a variety of antibiotics. After treatment with the specific antibiotic and/or anti-fungal regular ear washings will probably become part of your pet’s life forever.

Ear infections have the potential to cause discomfort for months, even years. Some cases are so severe that surgical intervention is necessary to alleviate discomfort. It is very important at the onset of signs that professional help is sought. After evaluation by your veterinarian, it is tempting not to return for that recheck appointment, especially when your dog is feeling so much better.

Remember, if the infection isn’t cleared up, it will come back again and again. Even with the best veterinary care there are stubborn infections and treatment must focus on prevention rather than a cure.

Veterinarian Robin Shroyer is the co-owner of Nipomo Dog & Cat Hospital, 525 Sandydale Drive. Contact the hospital at 929-2855 or visit

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America Has Truly Gone to the (Pampered) Dogs
Arden Moore - Pet Training Examiner

Dogs, cats and other pets rule our planet.
If you think the stalled economy, pirates off the Somali coast or reality shows dominate our lives these days, think again.

Quietly and adorably, dogs, cats and other pets have taken over our lives. These days, we pledge our allegiance – and our pocketbooks and our hearts – to our beloved pets. Yes, our lives have gone to the dogs, cats, birds, ferrets and other pets. But how and why? Newspaper reporter-turn-book author Michael Schaffer has the answers.
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