Pets Are Part of the Family

Tips to Help Care for Your Aging Dogs and Cats
By Jean Mitchell • Special to Dayton Courier

Geriatric cats and dogs are beloved parts of many of our families --and as pet owners it's important that we meet their special needs," said Veterinarian Dr. Mary Minor, of the Dayton Valley Veterinary Clinic.

Minor advises owners of elderly pets about several ways to deal with an aging pet's changing needs: "In general, as your pet ages, watch for lumps and bumps, monitor your pet's weight, dental condition, eating and drinking patterns and ability to move without pain. Does your pet cough, sneeze excessively, vomit or have diarrhea? Call your vet immediately so she can identify the problem and intervene before it's too late.

The experts all seem to agree that obesity is a major health issue for elderly pooches --often stemming from being fed the same diet that they ate when they were younger. Compounding the problems of old age, obesity is directly linked to osteoarthritis.

Minor said, "An appropriate senior life stage diet will not only help with an aging pet's geriatric needs, but should include antioxidants that may help prevent cancers. "

Proper care of your pet's teeth cannot be overstated. Proper oral hygiene practices can help prevent tooth loss, decay that can be painful and related infections that can spread to the organs including the heart, kidneys and liver.
Smaller dogs live longer than large and giant --and naturally, their size determines the amount of food they should be given.

Dogs read their world mostly through their highly sensitive noses --good for them, their sense of smell is not affected by age. They can suffer from diminished hearing and fading eye sight --but they are probably bothered less than a person would be with the same losses. And sometimes, your elder pooch's house training may lapse, not because he's being bad --but because his elimination system is getting weaker.
Both older cats and dogs cannot regulate body temperature as effectively as they did when they were young. Protect them from conditions that could cause heatstroke. Elderly dogs and cats like draft-free warm places for sleeping. They might also appreciate orthopedic beds and ramps or pet stairs to reach unattainable spots.

Between your vigilance and a good veterinarian, your aging furry pet has a good chance for a comfortable old age.

Senior SnippetsFree fresh veggies, fruit for eligible seniors: Each year the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides senior centers across the country with coupon books for eligible seniors to use to purchase fruits, vegetables and other produce. On June 15 the Dayton Senior Center's entire shipment of 40 USDA coupon books was distributed to applicants 60 --and older. The coupons can be used at farmer's markets to buy fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. Dayton Senior Center Manager Denise Earp ordered an additional 40 coupon books to accommodate the increased demand for the program.

Outdoor summer barbecue setMark your calendar for the Dayton Senior Center's Friday, July 31 Barbeque Jubilee. The event is scheduled from 4-7 p.m. on the patio at the center and only costs $4. The menu includes barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, potato and macaroni salads, fruit ice cream and Dutch apple pie. There will also be live music and a raffle to enhance the fun.

Jean Mitchell is an active Dayton senior who enjoys sharing information with those who want to make the most of their senior years.

Tips for Bear-Proofing Your Home

Safeguard Your Property
Do Not Feed ANY Wildlife
Keep Them ALL Alive and Wild

- Never feed the bears! Not even once! It’s illegal and will get bears killed.

- Don’t leave any garbage near the house or on decks. Bear-proof trash cans are available at Stage Stop Mercantile in Lebec.

- Don’t leave pets or pet food outside and don’t feed pets outside.

- Don’t leave food in cars. Roll up windows and lock doors. Don’t leave behind gum, mints, chapstick or even empty wrappers.

- Make bird feeders inaccessible to bears or take them down.

- Don’t leave accessible windows or doors open, especially lower level windows. Screens are not bear-proof.

- Brush Original Scent Pine-Sol on window and door casings to mask food odors coming from inside. Repeat often. Place open pans of Pine-Sol in garage to mask garbage and food in freezers.

- After BBQing outside, make sure the grill is thoroughly cleaned. Bears will destroy BBQs that have even the slightest lingering scent of food.
Replace single-pane windows with double-pane.

- If your house is not permanently occupied (i.e., a vacation home or a vacant rental), remove all food when the house is unoccupied. Bears smell spices, teas, pasta and other food through the walls, and they use their claws, teeth and incredible strength to get at it. Even canned food is not bear-proof.

- Be sure your doors are solid wood or metal and install and use heavy dead bolts.

- Securely block access to under-house crawl spaces. This keeps raccoons out as well.

- Leave lights and radio or TV on when not at home.

- Don’t use DeCon. It attracts bears.

- Don’t talk nicely to bears who come near your house. Make them think you will harm them. Be aggressive with them.

- Pick fruit up off ground from around fruit trees.

- Yell or blow an air horn to let the bear know he’s unwelcome in your yard. When he turns to run, throw a rock at him.

- Be dominant, not submissive, if a bear comes onto your property.

Labrador Training Tips
by Andrew Taylor -

Our technique actually stops your dog’s mistaken thinking. It takes only a few moments of time to permanently cancel or delete a behavior.

Correcting a behavior lasts the entire lifetime of your dog. Make your choice, to solve behavior problems permanently in a few moments, or get the satisfaction of correcting your dogs behavior problems each time they occur, for the entire life of your dog.

When you run out of energy on whining, nagging, and arguing, just go back to the beginning and read this manual again, and change your view. Change is difficult but worthwhile.

So lets go back to the prior example using the other room command. As you prepare to exit the room after having shown him the meaning of your request, create a sound just before your dog reaches the exit or doorway. As always, instantly praise him. Continue to exit the room yourself, and if he continues to try to exit, create the sound behind him, and praise again. If he successfully exits the room against your command, simply repeat the original command go in the other room good boy. Of course, this will be treated as a new request, to be performed according to the progression of events as required.

In other words, you must pay attention to the last instance in which sound was used, and try to insure that in the next instance, the sound comes from the appropriate source, i.e.: if your dog went into the other room on his first request without sound, perhaps strictly as a coincidence, then, after youve tried to correct him from leaving, that instance would require the application of sound with your next request, which in actuality, would be his second request to go in the other room good boy.

To summarize go in the other room, good boy; second request; go in the other ROOM good boy; third request go in the other room, good boy; Suppose he accomplished your command. When he violates the command, your next request to send him back in there would be his fourth request, requiring sound on this command. Heres the rest of the big secret: The events never starts over, but always continues from the last time in which the sound was used. It’s important to remember the last occasion in which your dog was given a command.

For Example, hes out in the back yard. You call him in, and he does not respond. So you reach for the can, and repeat your request accompanied with one hard downward shake to make a sound. Your dog will respond this time. Next time he is out in the yard, -even if its the next day, and he does not respond when you ask him to come in, try to recall when it was, that you last needed to re-enforce the command with sound.

You might think, gee, wasnt it just last night, that I asked him to come inside, and I needed to make the sound on my second request for him to come in? Did the can need to be tossed past him. Follow through, and make the right decision. If you cant remember the last instance, don’t stress on it.

Do what you can and set yourself a time to do the Family Pack Leadership exercise when you plan to re-train the conditioned reflex to come. Itll take about 10 minutes.

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Gary Bogue: My Cats Like Cheap Toys.
How About Yours?
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Both cats met me at the door Tuesday and told me to make the hot go away

Dear Gary:

You're right about sometimes having to search for the right toy to entice your cat to play with you.

Our daughter has a cat who totally ignores all store-bought toys. I've tried all kinds of special cat toys to no avail. Finally I found the trick. If I take a stick with a feather or stuffed toy on the end of it, stick it under an area rug and push it back and forth like a gopher peeking in and out of its hole, Reese loves attacking it "... for about five minutes. Then she's back at being noble and serene.

I've also found that if I leave pencils in strategic spots along the baseboards, she'll play at knocking them down. It reminds me of a baby throwing toys down from her high chair and the mommy picking them up again.

Also if I hide pencils under the newspapers or magazines that I'm reading, she'll play with me for a while trying to find the elusive pencil.

After spending money on special cat playthings, who would have guessed that this cat's favorite toy would be the common pencil. :-)

R. Heinitz, Oakland

Dear R.:

Hey, I can go you one better than that.

I used to have a cat that preferred to knock little crumpled up wads of paper all around the house. She preferred paper out of a note pad because it had more "crinkle" after it was wadded up into a ball.

There was one teeny little downside to paper balls. I found 260 of them under the couch a few years later when we moved.

Dear Gary:

We went out to our vegetable garden to find that all of our corn had been eaten.

Each ear had been husked and all the corn eaten away. What animal would do that?

We've grown corn for years and years and never seen this happen before.

Marcie, cyberspace

Dear Marcie:

Sounds like roof rats or squirrels. If I had to guess, I'd say roof rats. Did it happen at night? That would guarantee it was roof rats.

Dear Gary:

I laughed out loud when only you could have had such an experience — and you were so calm! (Sunday column about baby skunks sniffing and pawing my foot and ankles).

I'm sharing it with friends who do not get our paper.

J. Metzinger, Rossmoor

Dear J.:


Dear Gary:

For the first time, we have seen a gray squirrel in our yard. Three times in the past two weeks. Are gray squirrels just now appearing in our area? Will they coexist peacefully with our resident red squirrels?

Jean Hall, Danville

Dear Jean:

If it sticks around, then they'll probably get along. If they don't get along, then it won't stick around.

A final note

Gary: I think that our cats are smarter than we give them credit.

Melba knew when Daylight Savings Time occurred and changed her feeding time. She also could tell that at the corner if we made a left turn we were going to the vet, which she protested loudly, or if it was a right turn the mountains were the destination and the cries ceased.

She protested if we talked over the fence to our neighbor because there was an unfriendly cat there.

Last month, shortly after she reached 19½ years she stopped eating even special treats and I believe she was telling us it was time to die.

When we left for the vet's, her cry was one very silent mew.

We miss her very much as she was more than a pet but a close friend. (Mary Smits, Lafayette)

Joanne Sigler: Pets Become Part of the Family

Remember when you were given permission to have a pet — bought, a gift or it followed you home with or without invitation? Webster defines "pet" as "a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility."

When we as children were given a pet it came with parental instructions — feed, water and open the door for bodily functions. Learning responsibilities is such a monumental experience for a child, but it can be successful. Compare it to becoming a first-time parent. No book of instructions, just on-the-job training.

Then the tables are turned and we learn from those for whom we are the caregivers. I tend to be attracted to dogs as pets. Six have given me pleasure and taught me lessons from Adorations to Zest and everything in between. Wolf, our German shepherd, barked and howled every time I cried as a newborn; Dobbie, a Doberman pinscher, dug up Mother's roses; Mac a Scottie, loved to swing; Lottie, an English setter, was my savior in the country; Freckles, a fox terrier, drank coffee from a demitasse cup; and Charesey, our last whom we loved, was lost to tragedy. I learned a lot.

Anne and Jacques were given a male miniature white poodle. Toodles began as a lap dog for Anne but matured to a companion for Jacques. Twelve years of sitting and waiting for the garage door to open, having supper on time, scratching the door for potty time, knowing his place on the towel on the couch and being a good dog while taking his medicine. It was a sad day when he went night-night forever.
Liz loves golden retrievers, Molly I and Molly II, who was bred to a white Retriever. This union produced eight puppies with Liz as midwife. Living in a child's swimming pool in the kitchen, Molly tried desperately to satisfy their appetites. Weeks later, seven found good homes but Major stayed with Molly, Liz and Connor.

Friends exchange pet stories as much as grandchildren stories. Mary has a miniature chocolate poodle named Rusty, who has learned to sit quietly next to her as she kneels to say her prayers.

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How To Find A Trainer For Your Pet

Everyone who has ever owned a dog, sat with a dog or contemplated getting a dog should be ready to train it. Dogs, like children, don’t “come out of a box” trained and ready to go.

If you see a well-behaved dog on the street, know how many hours were put into care for that animal to teach him or her how to behave. They were given a lot of care and consistency to shape them into an animal that is confident, secure and behaved in any situation. Formal training is one of the greatest ways to help your dog. In addition, it’s a great bonding experience between the two of you. Here are some dog training tips.

1) Assess your own dog and see how good he or she is with training. If your dog has already picked up on sit, stay, paw, then quite possibly he’s ready to take more training from you. It could just mean a little more time a few time a week to get him trained on more commands. If you insist on a certified trainer, be sure to find out their cost up front and what exactly they do. The trainer should not only work with the dog, but teach you how to continue with handling. Training does no good if your dog only listens to the trainer for the hour that they are at your house. You want to follow through with the same commands so your dog learns them from his life-long partner—YOU.

2) Watch how the trainer works with your dog. Is the trainer attentive? Is the trainer firm, but not forceful? If a trainer raises his voice to a dog or is too harsh, get rid of them! I recall taking my dog to a new vet once for a second opinion about a surgery. Like any good dog owner, I asked a wide variety of questions about after-care and who my dog would be with overnight. The vet said he didn’t have a nurse there. I politely, but firmly, confirmed, “So she’ll be alone all night after surgery…what if something happens? If she rips a stitch or something?” The vet suddenly barked at me, “If you don’t like how I do things, you can take your dog somewhere else!” Needless to say, I did. He was apologetic almost immediately after his outburst, but he had said enough. I was out of there WITH my dog. A dog is a family member and expecting professional care is not negotiable—with trainers, vets, or anyone who plans on touching my dog.

3) You also should ask for some references when you find a trainer you are interested in. Although there are no official regulations, most trainers have some kind of course work or certificates that give them experience in dog handling. The International Association of Canine Professionals offer outstanding certification programs.

4) Training should begin when your dog is a puppy. It’s much easier to shape a dog from the start, rather than to have to un-train him from bad habits he’s picked up and then re-train him. Give your dog the best advantage by getting him training right away. Train him to do the ‘right’ thing so the positive reinforcement is naturally built into your relationship.

5) Whether or not classes should be individualized or group training sessions is up to you. Both have their advantages. If you choose a group training session, you have the added benefit of socialization. This is a huge plus, especially if there aren’t a lot of dogs for your dog to hang out with during his everyday life. I loved taking Janey to classes because she had very few dog friends to learn to socialize with. It got to the point that the ‘training’ was almost secondary in her classes. Individualized care can really help if you have a specific concern that you need work on with your dog. With group training it may be a bit more difficult to catch the trainer/s after class or before to give you specific tips.

It will help you to bond with your “good” dog because you won’t be frustrated at chewed up furniture, pet-stained rugs or too-harsh nips at your hands. Help shape your dog into a responsible member of your world right from the start. You’ll be glad you did!

Grab practical ideas about a href= target=_blankhouse training dogs/a - your individual knowledge pack.

Ways to Save Your Pet's Life in a Fire
by Jill Rosen - Baltimore Sun

About 500,000 pets are affected in some way by home fires each year. And the American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services want to do something to cut that number.

They declared Wednesday National Pet Fire Safety Day, a national day of awareness day to make pet owners aware of potential risks to pets in their houses.

Here are some tips:

Extinguish Open Flames - Pets are curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Pet Proof the Home - Take a walk around your home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertently, such as the stove knobs and loose wires.

Secure Young Pets - Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home.

Keep Pets Near Entrances – When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
Practicing Escape Routes with Pets – Keep collars and leashes at the ready in case you have to evacuate quickly with your pet or firefighters need to rescue your pet.

Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Use monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center, providing an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.

Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. You can obtain a free window cling by going to or at AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days events. Details are available at

Keep Your Information Updated - Firefighters are familiar with pet alert window clings so keep the number of pets listed on them updated. Knowing the accurate number of pets in the house aids rescuers in finding all of your pets.

As part of National Pet Fire Safety Day, the American Kennel Club's Lisa Peterson leads Justice, a Labrador Retriever and home fire survivor, through a mock apartment at the FDNY Fire Museum to point out safety tips. Justice's mom, Maryland's Lia Wentworthl, left the dog one Sunday morning not realizing they left a pot of boiling water with plastic baby bottles on the stove. When the water evaporated, the bottles began to emit a toxic smoke. No one knew Justice was in trouble because there was no flame. Luckily, the Wentworth’s had a monitored smoke detector and the firefighters were alerted.

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Tests Cast Doubt on Pet Pills

Supplements skimp on medicine, laboratory finds

Arthritis supplements bought by millions of pet owners for their dogs, cats and horses sometimes skimp on the ingredients the makers claim can help aching paws and aging joints, and some contain high amounts of lead, an independent laboratory found.
Four of the six joint supplements for animals tested by lacked the amounts of glucosamine or chondroitin promised on their labels or had other flaws, such as lead. Wider testing by a trade group of 87 brands found that one-quarter fell short.

Over-the-counter dietary supplements for humans do not have to be proven safe or effective before they are sold, and pills for pets get even less scrutiny.

"There is and there always has been" a quality problem, although many companies do a good job, said Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council, which tracks research on herbal products.

Even when these supplements contain what they claim, there is little evidence that they work, veterinary experts say. A large government study of people with arthritis found that glucosamine and chondroitin did no better than dummy pills in easing mild pain. Testing these supplements on pets is more difficult.

"You can't ask a dog or a cat to give you a subjective impression of how they're feeling after taking the product for several days. They can't say, 'On a scale of 1 to 5, I feel better or worse,'" Blumenthal said.

Giving supplements to an ailing pet can make its owner feel better, though.
"The owner shelled out money for the pills and wants to believe they are helping," Blumenthal said.

Up to one-third of dogs and cats in the U.S. are given supplements, a government report estimates. Sales of pet supplements have roughly doubled since 2003, to nearly $1 billion a year in the United States, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. These supplements are sold over the Internet and at pet supply stores and some groceries.

Many pet owners believe they make a difference.

Nicole Albino, who lives in New York City, said her dog Chakka was constantly chewing and licking his knees until her veterinarian recommended glucosamine and chondroitin.

After taking the pills for a year, "he's definitely been licking his knees a lot less," she said. The dog resumed when she ran out of the stuff for a few weeks. "It just seems to help," Albino said.

Limited safety data

Few high-quality studies have tested the effectiveness of animal supplements. The Food and Drug Administration says these products are not bound by quality rules for human ones.

In 2007, the FDA asked an expert panel to look into three popular pet supplements — lutein, evening primrose oil and garlic — but the group could not agree on a safe upper limit.

"Many people presume that supplements are safer than drugs, but the reality is that there is very limited safety data on dietary supplements for horses, dogs and cats," the panel concluded.

That same year, 2007, pet food tainted with melamine sickened and killed thousands of cats and dogs. Melamine can mimic protein in some lab tests, and protein costs much more than melamine.

Similarly, certain substances can fool tests for chondroitin, an expensive joint-supplement ingredient, said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of The company tests supplements for manufacturers that want its seal of approval, and publishes ratings for subscribers.

Chondroitin usually comes from pig and cow cartilage, though shark and chicken cartilage also can be used, as well as algae. Glucosamine usually comes from the shells of crabs. It is also sold in chemical forms — something that might surprise people who think of these as "natural" products.

Alternative methods's most recent tests of human joint supplements, released this week along with the pet pill results, found that five out of 21 brands failed to meet quality standards, usually because of too little chondroitin. Four of the six pet supplements tested also failed. One contained only 17 percent of the promised chondroitin.

The National Animal Supplement Council, a trade group in suburban San Diego, found that 28 percent of the 87 brands it tested in April did not contain what was claimed, said council President William Bookout. The group doesn't name names, but uses the results to help members improve quality control.

"Sometimes a company doesn't even realize they have a problem, or a company can make an honest mistake," Bookout said.

He warns consumers not to expect too much from a pill: "There isn't any magic bullet out there. It is not hip replacement in a bottle."

Dr. Babette Gladstein, a vet who makes house calls for dogs and cats in New York City, said she uses alternative methods but not supplements because there is not enough proof they work. For overweight pets with bad knees, she advises healthy diets and weight loss.

"I teach the clients how to massage their animal, how to stretch their animal, how to get better range of motion," Gladstein said.

Supplement tips For people who give pets joint supplements, experts suggest: · Check with a vet beforehand to see if it is safe. · Look for a seal of approval by an independent lab or organization. · Keep a log of your pet's behavior before and after supplement use so you can tell if it helps. · Don't exceed recommended doses.

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