Pet Tips: Lightning Storms, Poisonous Plants and Chicken Coops!

Plants That Can Be Poisonous to Our Pets
By Paul D Thomas

Many pet owners are unaware of the risks some of our house and garden plants can cause out pets. Did you know for example that the Lily of which there are many varieties, is particularly lethal to cats causing renal failure, then death within hours of being eaten. According to the R.S.P.C.A. "as little as one leaf can kill a cat if ingested", though it should be noted that the flowers and the pollen of the Lily are equally as poisonous.

There are many plants that can cause our pets anything from an upset stomach to more severe reactions like renal failure. Whether you already have pets or you are thinking of taking on a new pet it is extremely important that you research the possible health risk to your pet of every single one of your garden and house plants. Whatever the age of your pet they will at some point show an interest in their surroundings, which includes taking the odd bite out of a leaf or flower, but be especially wary of kittens and puppies, as they will try to eat whatever they can get their little teeth into.

If you own any plants that are poisonous to your pets, it is advisable to remove them from your home and garden. Although accidents can still happen even for the most cautious pet owners. If your pet eats a poisonous plant take them immediately to the vets, as the less time the poison spends within your pet the less damage it will cause.

It is very stressful dealing with the shock and upset of an ill pet, but having to find the funds for a potentially large vet bill can add even more stress to the situation, especially when finances are already tight. That is why many pet owners are purchasing pet insurance, as it is a well needed safety net. Though pet insurance companies vary greatly, so it is very important you choose the right pet insurance company that covers your requirements. Pet insurance review sites for example are a great place to start as they are not just informing you of one pet insurance company, they contain and compare many, you also benefit from the experiences of others as many people would have written about their experiences with Pet insurance companies.

How to Teach a Dog to Sit - The 5 Step Program
That Works in Hours
By John B Hughes

Having a dog can be one of the most joyous things in your life. But a disobedient dog can be a real nightmare. One of the first things to do to start to train your dog to be obedient is learn how to teach a dog to sit. This article will give you five steps to doing just that.

Step one: Get your dogs' attention and stand right in front of him holding one of his favorite treats. When he spots the treat you will soon have his undivided attention.

Step two: Hold the treat in front of him but just out of reach (don't hold it to high or he will jump for it). Then slowly move the treat backwards over his head and backwards towards his behind and tail.

Step three: As the treat is moved back, as long as you keep it along his body line and just at the right height, your dog/puppy should automatically begin to sit and as he sits say the command "Sit."

Step four: Praise him and give him the treat.

Step five: Repeat and practice a few times. Then take a break and practice again later.

If you follow the instructions above you should have your dog sitting or at least doing something resembling sitting in a very short space of time. Many people can have their dog sitting in just a few hours. However, the next day they might have forgotten again but once you practice a couple of times he will quickly remember.

If you are serious about learning the secrets to dog training and you want to find out how to train your dog to be happy and obedient in all situations, not just when he feels like it, then visit the website.

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Pet Pause: How to Put Your Pets on a Diet
By Robin Shroyer -

As veterinarians, we often need to persuade our clients to change the way they feed their pets. The health benefits of maintaining a lean body weight are well documented and we certainly want our pets to be healthy. Suggesting to a client that their pet is overweight and needs to lose weight is easier said than done. Our pets are happy when we feed them and it feels good when they are happy.

Pet owners who are committed to getting the pounds off their pet(s) need to take a close look at what their animal is eating. Are table scraps being fed? Do the neighbors feed your pets? Is your pet eating another pet’s food? Are the kids slipping their unwanted sandwiches to Fido? Is the trash available for snacking? Any of these activities will add calories and weight.

Once there is a clear understanding of what and how much a pet is eating, an owner can then begin to cut out or cut back on the calories.

So, what are ways to keep your friend’s weight in the right range? Pet food manufacturers produce many “light diets” for both dogs and cats. These diets are lower in calories and have more fiber so that your pet feels satisfied after eating. There also are light treats for pets who are used to receiving between meal snacks.

We have had great success with weight loss in dogs using the “green bean diet.” We suggest that owners measure the volume of food they are now feeding and decrease it by one-third. Canned green beans can then be added to the food to increase the volume with very few calories. Steamed vegetables work well, too.

Rice cakes and baby carrots make great, crunchy snacks.

Kitties are more difficult since they usually won’t eat green beans. Cats will eat the light diets and this will help keep them trim. Some cats will do very well if you give them small amounts of kibble or wet food five or six times a day.

Exercise is always a great addition to reduced calories. Dogs love to go for walks. Cats can be coaxed to exercise if they will chase a toy or a laser light.

Controlling the caloric intake of our pets (or ourselves) is a simple concept, but not easy. If you need help or advice, contact your veterinarian.

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

Hamsters as a First Pet
By Erin E. O’Neill -

They're cute, they're fuzzy and relatively carefree. Perhaps that is why hamsters are such a popular first pet with children and their parents.

"The kids really enjoy them," said Carla Minney, an administrator with Pioneer Pete Day Care Center on Front Sreet in Marietta. "We get (the hamsters) out and let them run around in their ball."

The center has two dwarf hamsters in their infant and toddler room, where children ages 6 weeks to 2 1/2 years are taught to be gentle toward the creatures. The hamsters are also used for lessons in counting and colors.

But before you go to the pet store or shelter to pick up one of the critters, consider that there may be some things you might not know about the furry rodents.

For instance, hamsters are mostly nocturnal creatures, but it's a habit that can vary depending on the animal's environment.

"Our hamsters are up when the kids are here, and the afternoon is when they all crash," Minney said of the center's resident pets.

If you plan to place the animal near a bedroom, something to keep in mind is that the little fuzzball might keep the family awake.

Hamsters also have poor eyesight; they are nearsighted and colorblind. However, they have an acute sense of smell and are able to hear extremely well. Hamsters can use their sense of smell to detect other animals or people, locate food and detect pheremones. They are also particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises and can hear and communicate in the ultrasonic range.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, hamster bedding should be cleaned regularly and should consist of products made from recycled wood or paper materials or aspen shavings. The society recommends avoiding cedar, sawdust, corn cob bedding, chlorophyll bedding and cat litter.

Some of these are allergens and highly toxic to the creature.

"We carry cedar bedding," said Adam Johnson, assistant manager of We Lov Pets in the Lafayette Center, "but it is used mostly for dogs. It can cause respiratory distress in hamsters and most small animals."

Johnson recommends pine or recycled paper bedding and, if room allows, a large cage.

"The bigger, the better. Hamsters need to be active so a lot of the cages we sell also come with wheels," he said.

Hamsters also have high metabolisms which require constant access to food and water.

"Their main diet is seeds, but they can also eat fruits and vegetables," said Johnson. "They also need a chew block because their teeth continue to grow."

The animals, which were discovered in Syria more than 70 years ago, are omnivores and should ideally have a diet consisting of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein, such as eggs.

Hamsters tend to have an average lifespan of two to three years, according to Johnson, so parents need to be prepared to explain the facts of life to young children, that is if the child doesn't tire of the animal first.

Sometimes, despite being low-maintenance, hamsters can end up at the local animal shelter.

"We have had hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits," said Steve Herron, shelter manager with the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley. "Sometimes it's because people are scared of small rodents and it seems like a mouse to some people. Other times the child's just lost interest."

Herron said that they will try to find homes for the animals but reminds folks that, just like dogs and cats, hamsters need a lot of TLC.

"Just like any other pet, you must be willing to give it attention," he said.

Hamster Derby

A hamster derby will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 11, at We Lov Pets in the Lafayette Center, Marietta.

Hamster owners are invited to bring their pets to the race, which will be tournament/bracket style. Balls and tracks will be provided by the store.

Prizes will be awarded for the winners.

Fact Box
What you need to know before you get a hamster:

When you first get your pet, you'll spend about $35 for a cage. Food runs about $50 a year, plus $20 annually for toys and treats, and $220 each year for litter and bedding material. This is a big consideration given today's economy, according to Steve Herron with the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.

The ASPCA recommends that you get your hamster from a responsible breeder or, better yet, adopt one from a shelter or small-animal rescue group.

Syrian hamsters are solitary and must live alone. Dwarf hamsters are social, on the other hand, and like to live in pairs. Do not house male and female dwarf hamsters together, since rodents breed quickly - and often - with large litters.

The enclosure should be placed away from direct sunlight and drafts, and lined with an absorbent bedding such as hay, aspen shavings or shredded paper. Do not use scented chips, such as cedar.

Hamsters need lots of exercise and also like to hide and sleep inside enclosed spaces. They also love crawling through tubes, which can be homemade (empty cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper) or purchased from a pet supply store. Remember to regularly give your hamster small pieces of paper towel or napkin to shred and make a nest with.

Your pet will do well on hamster mix, which contains seeds, grains, cracked corn and pellets, and is readily available at pet supply stores. The ASPCA recommends that you supplement your pet's diet with fresh foods every two or three days. Be sure to clean up any leftover fresh food before it spoils. Never give your pet raw kidney beans, onions, raw potato, rhubarb, chocolate, candy or junk food.

Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. It is best to use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube, which should be changed daily.

Remove droppings, uneaten food and soiled bedding every day. Every week, remove and replace all the bedding, and scrub the bottom of the cage with hot, soapy water.

If you think your pet is sick, seek medical attention immediately. Common signs that something isn't right with your hamster may include dull-looking eyes, matted fur, weight loss, shaking, runny nose and diarrhea. Also note that hamsters seem to be susceptible to respiratory problems, especially the common cold, which they can catch from their human pet parents.

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Lightning Safety Tips

The American Red Cross offers these suggestions to help ensure your safety.

Before Lightning Strikes...

Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts.

When a Storm Approaches...

Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.
Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)

Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job!

Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.

If Caught Outside...

If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately!

Protecting Yourself Outside...

Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or metal objects. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
Be a very small target! Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible.
Do not lie flat on the ground--this will make you a larger target!

After the Storm Passes...

Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

If Someone is Struck by Lightning...

People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.

The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned, both where they were struck and where the electricity left their body. Check for burns in both places. Being struck by lightning can also cause nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing or eyesight.

Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries. Learn first aid and CPR by taking a Red Cross first aid and CPR course. call your 541/392.2142 for claass schedules and fees.

Keep Pets Safe During Thunderstorms

The Humane Society of Central Oregon would like to remind people to keep their pets safe and secure during thunderstorms. The shelter has received 19 dogs and 7 cats since Monday, June 1st. As the thunder and rainstorms arrive during the day, the shelter is expecting to see an increase in the number of animals that are frightened by the stormy weather. The shelter would like to remind the community to report lost and found dogs immediately.

Thunder, lightening, wind and rain storms often frighten dogs which may make them try to flee to a safer place. This often leads to dogs escaping from the property and potentially getting injured.

Safely secure your pets in a location that shields them from the frightening sounds. Bedrooms and bathrooms with a radio on is often a good place. If you place a dog in a kennel, make sure they cannot dig or jump out.

Make sure your pet has identification tags on the collar or write a phone number on the collar with permanent ink. Identification ensures a quick and safe return home.

A few preventative tips can save the life of your pet.

Make sure current identification or license tags are on your pet.
Secure your pet inside the home or in a kennel if thunder is predicted.
Bring your pet inside during the storm and keep a leash on them when let outside.
Lock all gates and check all fencing to make sure it is secure.
Tie-outs or tethers can cause injury to a frightened dog.

If you lose your pet:

Immediately report lost a pet to the Humane Society of Central Oregon at 382-3537 or your local animal shelter. Bring a recent photo of your pet for proper identification.
Visit the shelter to identify your pet and reclaim it immediately.
Stray animals are posted at

The Humane Society wants to safely and quickly return a lost animal to its family. For more information call 382-3537 or visit to view stray animals. The Humane Society of Central Oregon is located at 61170 SE 27th Street in Bend.

Pet Cemetery Owner Loses Lawsuit Over Monkey Grave
The Associated Press - Miami Herald

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- The owner of central Florida pet cemetery must pay former clients $480.50 for failing to maintain a squirrel monkey's grave.

That's according to Judge William McCluan, who has ruled that Connie Lassiter of Melbourne violated a contract with Janet and Raymond Steiner of Satellite Beach. The Steiners say they had the remains of their pet monkey, Mighty, moved because Lassiter did not maintain the pet cemetery grounds well.

Lassiter says the cemetery was maintained and that Steiner's demands were unreasonable: asking that the grounds be cleaned up within days of hurricanes in 2004 and the grass cut every week.

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Pet Snake Saved from House Fire
By T.J. Aulds - The Daily News -

HITCHCOCK — No one was hurt in a fire at a house in the 6800 block of West Bayou that the Hitchcock fire chief said started in the garage.

The couple inside got out alive as did the family pet snake, but a small dog was missing.

Curtis Brantley and his girlfriend were watching television when they heard a pop come from the garage.

Brantley said that pop was followed by an explosion that knocked out power to the house.

Brantley’s father, Larry, said small propane canisters the family uses to fry fish fueled the blaze.

The fire also spread to the couple’s new car parked near the garage door.

Hitchcock Fire Chief Mark Cook said his crews were able to knock down the fire in less than 15 minutes.

He said the cause of the fire was under investigation, but noted that because it was the second at the house in less than three years, arson investigators were going to “take a very close look.”

Brantley and his girlfriend got out of the house, as did his daughter’s pet boa constrictor, Slither.

“Everyone thought he had burned, but he was just shedding his skin,” Brantley said as Slither recovered from the ordeal in a bucket full of water.

While the snake was OK, one of the family dogs was missing, Brantley said.

They were hopeful the small mix-breed dog was hiding under a neighbor’s house.

Building a Chicken Coop For the First Time?
- Easy Steps to Follow
by Dana Goldberg -

Chickens are wonderful creatures and we can fully understand the reason behind someone wanting to own them. You can get some prize winning ones such as silkies in order to show off at the county fair each year. You can also get some regular hens that will give you good eggs each day. No matter what you do, you will need to learn how to build a chicken coop. That chicken coop will be the chickens home. You should do you best in order to make sure those chickens are protected. We are going to give you some tips on building a chicken coop. Take note that we have already built two coops on our land, so this is not coming from someone who does not have knowledge.

First of all, you will need to take the size into consideration. In this world, many say that a big chicken coop is always the better one. However, if you have to transport your birds around, big one is no good.

For every bird that will be in the coop, you will need to have 4 square feet. In order for the hens to lay more and be stress free, you will need to make it big.

The general rule is four square feet to each chicken. For instance, if you have four chickens, then you will need to build a house for them that is sixteen square feet. Does this make sense to you? In order to have your hens laying eggs each morning, you will need to keep them out of a stress free environment.

When you are picking out a spot to place the chickens home, it would be best if you place it where the sunlight hits during the morning hours. Chickens enjoy the morning sunlight and this will make them lay eggs for you more often.

In order to have your birds laying more eggs, placing them in the morning sunlight and having them in a big enclosure will definitely do the job.

You do not need to purchase that many materials in order to put all of this together. Basically, you need some wood, nails, mesh wire and a hammer. If you would like to put shingles on your roof, then you can do that as well.

If you are building a big coop, then you will definitely need to build it on site as it will not be easy to transport. In fact, when it comes to do it yourself projects, it is best if you build it on site. Take note that you may need someone to help you when it comes to lifting the walls up and nailing them on the coop. You may also need some assistant on the roof part. If you want to go all out, you could always add some shingles on the house in order to make it last longer. Take note that you will be able to make adjustments to it when you are all done. You will also need to make sure the chickens are secure in their house as they have many predators. Now that you know how to build a chicken coop, it’s time to start making those plans.

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