Help Your Dog or Cat Lose Weight

Exercising with Pets has Physical,
Mental Benefits, DVM says

Manhattan, Kan. -- There are numerous exercises that pet owners can do with their pets that not only improve the health of both but can strengthen the human-animal bond as well, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian.
"Obesity is a big problem in pets just as it is with people, and exercising helps keep the dog's weight down," says Dr. Susan Nelson, an assistant professor of clinical sciences at KSU.

The amounts and types of exercises that are best for dogs vary widely according to their age, breed and general health, so a blanket recommendation for workout times and frequency can't be given, Nelson says.

But she does offer some general guidelines. For example, larger and working dogs usually have higher energy needs while smaller/toy breeds need less exercise. And, ideally, dogs should get out twice daily for exercise, from 15 to 60 minutes depending on the individual, and aerobic exercise should be continuous with few breaks.

There are some health concerns to take into consideration, Nelson adds. These include making sure the dog is in shape before doing long or intense workouts, acclimating them gradually to hard surfaces to avoid damaging their pads, taking precautions to avoid heat exhaustion in hot weather or frostbite in cold weather and limiting very young dogs to shorter runs until they are 12 to 15 months of age.

Cats Nearly Four Times More Likely
to Have Rabies Than Dogs

National report -- The number of rabies-infected cats was almost four times that of rabies-infected dogs in the United States in 2008, according to a new report from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Cats may be more prone to rabies because they’re vaccinated less and roam outdoors unsupervised more often than dogs, the report suggests.

The data, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appears in a new AVMA rabies backgrounder published online in advance of World Rabies Day, Sept. 28. The report also covers the history of rabies and its prevalence around the world as well as clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment and euthanasia protocols for infected and possibly infected animals.

Most rabies infections -- 93 percent -- are seen in wild animals, according to the report, but most post-exposure rabies prophylaxis (PEP) in humans is administered because of exposure to rabid or possibly rabid cats and dogs.

Researchers also warn that imported dogs carry the threat of a resurgence of canine rabies variants in this country. They point to a rabid puppy that arrived from India in 2007, and a rabid dog from Iraq imported into New Jersey in 2008.

The complete study, “Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2008” appears in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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Common Mistakes in Litter Box
Training a Cat
Lorie Huston -

Exploring the Reasons Cats May Eliminate Outside Their Litter Pans

When a cat stops using the litter box, there may be many causes. There are some simple but important things that cat owners can do to encourage return to the litter box.

Feline behavioral issues involving the litter box are common complaints for cat owners. Medical issues can play a role in feline inappropriate elimination. Cats not properly using the litter box should be examined by their veterinarian for feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and other health issues. However, behavioral problems involving the litter box may also occur due to litter box aversions or marking behaviors.

Litter Box Training for Cats and Aversions to Cat Litter Boxes

Some cat owners fail to recognize that cats may have personal preferences regarding their litter boxes which may not coincide with their owner's preferences. There are a number of common mistakes cat owners make regarding cat litter and cat litter boxes.

•Many owners do not provide adequate numbers of litter boxes, particularly in multi-cat households. The number of litter boxes in the home should equal the number of cats plus one. For instance, a three cat household needs four litter boxes.

•Cat litter boxes should be distributed throughout the home.

•In multi-level homes, there should be at least one litter box on each level of the home.

•Litter boxes must be kept very clean. Boxes should be scooped daily and completely emptied and washed thoroughly every 1-2 weeks.

•Many cat owners use heavily scented cat litters in their cat's litter boxes. However, many cats object to strong smells. Using unscented cat litter may be more appropriate for most cat litter boxes.

•Many cat owners provide covers for the litter box but covers tend to keep odors trapped inside the litter box and may cause some cats to avoid the litter box.
•Litter boxes should always be placed in quiet areas of the house where the cat may use the box without distractions or interruptions.

•Cats tend to prefer large litter boxes over smaller boxes and may have individual preferences as to the type of cat litter and litter box provided.

•Concessions in the height of the litter box may be necessary for kittens and older cats with musculoskeletal difficulties.

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Pet Q&A:
How to Get a Tick Off of Your Pet
By Roger Smith •

Q: I found a tick on my dog and impulsively just pulled it out. A friend told me that if you just pull them out, the tick's head will stay in the skin and the dog can get poisoned from it. Do I have to worry? What is the best way to get them off if I see another?

A: When it comes to tick removal, it seems bad advice from well-meaning friends is plentiful. Be sure to protect yourself, as ticks found on dogs during the spring through fall months can carry diseases that might be transmitted to people (such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever).

First, the don'ts: Don't use a match to make the tick "back out." This not only won't work, but can injure the dog's skin. Don't attempt to smother the tick with mineral oil. This can make them regurgitate their blood-meal (and associated germs) back into the dog, increasing the chance of a skin reaction or infection.

The best technique to remove an attached tick is to use tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the dog's skin as possible. Apply gentle steady pressure until you are able to pull the tick out. A small piece of skin might accompany the tick, but that's OK, the skin will heal quickly. If remnants of the tick are still visible in the skin, you might attempt to pull them out with the tweezers also. Don't worry if you're not able to get every piece, the dog's skin and immune system will usually take care of the rest. Make sure to use gloves and try to avoid crushing the tick, which might increase your exposure to any infectious agents. If your dog develops any signs of skin redness or other symptoms after tick exposure, contact your veterinarian for further information.

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Photo of the Day:
Someone Cut the AC, Please?
USA Today

Israeli Victoria Govaron holds her cat Iya, a Sphynx, during an international cat show in Rishon Lezion, south of Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Sept. 12. Some 125 Israeli and internationally owned cats of different breeds took part in the 'most beautiful' cat competition organized by the New Israeli Cat Alliance.

Sphynx cats are not all hairless like this one, but many of the breed can be hairless. They feel like a suede covered hot water bottle, according to The Cat Fanciers' Association.

They love to snuggle. The soft down on their bodies can make that a joy.

Seven Tips for Traveling with Your Pet
Lea Lane - The Huffington Post

Want to roam the world with Fido? (Kitty may be tougher; find a good sitter or cattery, as most cats don't enjoy moving around unless it's to a familiar second home, or such.). The Travel Industry Association (TIA) reports that about 15 percent of us travel with pets - around 40 million households.

1.Size matters.
On the road a small pet can be more fun, with less effort. I place my cat Sweetie in front of my seat on a plane in a special soft carrier bag, twice a year. Most airlines allow several pets in a cabin for each flight, but they must remain in their bags, and you'll need to reserve and pay a fee of at least $50, one-way. Check rules, too.

Many lodgings only allow pets less than 20 pounds. So if you travel lots and have a Yorkie or Maltese, you're in luck. If Hamlet, the Great Dane, is already a member of your family, to be is probably not to be--unless you're staying on the road. (You could go the RV or camping route with a big dog--but hey, this is your vacation. Is that what you really want to do?)

2.One Fido is enough
Many lodgings won't allow more than one pet, and can you blame them? And having to deal with eight-legs and two black noses can be a bit much even for seasoned travelers.

3.Know your puppy's personality
Retrievers are gentle but rambunctious; chihuahuas are tiny but trembly. If your dog tends to act out, run away, shiver or bark a lot, think twice before booking a ticket. You expect a "time-out" from a terrier who's wired to run and yap.

4.Learn transport info
I once lost my poodle, Apricot, when Delta airlines said he had never been placed in cargo on a flight from Miami to New York. Seems they overlooked him de-planing, and Apricot flew on to Hawaii! He was returned a day later, dazed, and seemed to have had enough of tropical paradises, thank you very much.

To avoid my predicament, check the pet travel guidelines posted online by the Air
Transport Association,

As for cars, use the same sorts of caution as you would with a child--lots of breaks, no leaving the pet in a closed car, water available. You know. Buses, trains and cruise ships don't encourage pets, although the Queen Mary 2 has luxury kennels.

5.Choose pet-friendly accommodations
Some of the world's ritziest lodgings cater to travelers with pets. Pet-friendly chains include Four Seasons, Starwood, Hilton, Loews, Sheraton, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Ramada. Many other hotels and B&Bs and inns will also welcome Fido, knowing how many of us bring pets along. Even if you find accommodations on a pet-friendly list, be sure to double check. And be prepared to stay on a pet floor or in a pet-designated room.

Nowadays many places go all out to provide VIP doggy delights. Many offer bowls,
treats and walking areas, and some go all out. The St. Regis hotel in LA offers Fido a customized mahogany bed with down pillows, and special poolside lounges. Las
Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico offer special patios and doggy massages, a dog cabana and full-time chef for custom meals. Go know.

6.Dine with doggy
At cafes and restaurants with open-air dining areas, Fido may be a welcome guest, under the table. So if you want to dine with your pet, sit al fresco and enjoy. (Think Lincoln Road, where there seem to be as many dogs as humans.) Room service and picnicking are other options. Overseas, dining rules are sometimes more lax. Do bring your dog's favorite food and bowl, and consider bottled water, wherever you eat. Doggie tummies can get turista too. And on that note, prepare for pooper-scooping at all times, and think ahead for doggy relief areas.

7.Prepare for pitfalls
Dogs can be great travel companions, who don't hog the sheets and insist on pay-per view, but they sometimes slobber, sniff, chew, and pass gas at the wrong place and time. (Then again, so do two-legged companions.) You do have to walk them, get someone to do it, or cross your fingers with newspaper spread on the floor. You may have to pay a lodging deposit for damages -- and you may lose it. Your entertainment, or lack thereof, may be subject to Fido's needs.

Download info on pet quarantine, and health requirements:;; and All offer info about traveling with pets, when
requested. And you can always google "pets/travel."

In fact, depending on the type of vacation you choose, and how much you adore your pet, you may decide a good kennel isn't all that bad. Or, a staycation with Fido.

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Tips to Help Your Pet Lose Weight
Celeste Busk -

Before putting a pet on a diet, check with the vet and have him weigh your pet and calculate obesity.

The vet will analyze your pet's health and recommend a diet plan and proper diet foods. Here are some weight-loss tips from

• Roly-poly pets: Overweight animals at risk for diseases, death
• Introduce new food gradually over a one-week period. Start by substituting one-quarter of the diet for one or two days. Then, gradually add about one-quarter every one or two days.

• Feed the diet food several times per day. Feeding too much means no weight loss. Feeding too little can result in health problems.

• If you dog doesn't like the diet food, try warming the food or adding one of the following: ketchup, salmon juice, oregano or garlic.

•Briskly walk your dog for weight loss. Keep the leash within two to four feet of your body. The pace should be about 12 to 15 minutes per mile. Don't let the dog stop and smell everything.

• Move the food bowl and rotate it so that the dog has to walk to get to his food.

• For treats, give vegetables such as baby carrots, broccoli, celery and asparagus.

• If your dog begs for food, substitute affection for food. Pet your dog or take him outside for a walk.

• When your dog eyes the empty food bowl after eating, try filling it with fresh water.

• Introduce new food gradually over a one- to two-week period. Start by substituting one-quarter of the diet for two or three days. Then, gradually add about one-quarter every two to four days.

• Get the cat to move. Try moving the food bowl.

• Play chase using feather toys, laser lights, paper bags or balls. Engage the cat for 10 minutes twice a day.

• When the bowl is empty and the cat is begging, add a few kibbles to the bowl, about 10 to 15.

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Pet Birth Control

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Happy
While You're Not Home

Some pets are particularly prone to separation anxiety, and when left for long periods of time without suitable, sturdy sources of entertainment, will express their frustration through destruction.

If you're lucky, you come home and find a shredded sock. If you are not so lucky, you may find that your canine friend has done some major structural renovations to your home or that your cat has turned your shoe into an impromptu litter box.

An Enriched Environment

Many of us, while we work, have to be away from home for long stretches of time, leaving our pets alone, with nothing to do.

Here are some ways to keep your pets happy and occupied while you are gone:

Kong Toys Outside: These hollow rubber toys are widely used to keep zoo residents happy, but you can find smaller-sized versions at most pet stores. If you keep your dog outdoors, leave him with a Kong Toy filled with diluted, frozen chicken broth. Just plug one end of the toy, fill it with broth and freeze. Licking the melting broth is a time-consuming activity that can keep your dog occupied for hours and is particularly rewarding during the heat of summer.

Kong Toys Inside: Indoors Kongs can be filled with dry pet food. Make sure that the kibble is large enough and the Kong Toy small enough so that it takes some time and effort for your pet to get the food out. Freezing the mixture within the toy will keep your pet busy even longer.

Multi-Pet Household: If you have the space, get a companion for your companion. A pet is much less likely to dwell on your absence when it has another creature to keep it company.

Install a Pet Door: If you have a fenced-in area for your dog, install a pet door. An animal with some control over its environment and activities is going to be happier.

With just a little time, effort and cash, you can dramatically improve your pet's quality of life, and make those stretches of time that your pet spends without you breeze by, trouble free.

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The Best Tips On How
To Raise A Kitten

It is a good idea to learn how to raise a kitten, before you actually bring your new kitten home. This way you are well prepared and have a better understanding of what is required and what to expect.

Most kittens leave their mothers at the age of 6 weeks, by which time they are weaned, eating well and have learnt not to toilet where they sleep. This is a good age to take your kitten home as it will easily be able to cope on its own. Kittens that are too young may not thrive.

Check that your kitten has received the necessary vaccinations, and find out in advance what local government regulations apply where you live. Take the kitten to your vet as soon as possible to be cleared of any health problems. Ask the vet's advice about spaying and ongoing health needs, like worming and vaccinations.

You need to be properly prepared in advance and have what you need for the kitten. You will need a litter tray and a supply of litter, food and water bowls, kitten food, a bed and some toys. Cats are naturally clean animals, and your kitten should learn to use the litter tray quickly. A cat won't use a dirty tray, so make sure the litter is changed regularly. The litter tray needs to be in a quiet place, out of general traffic areas in the house.

It is a good idea to continue using the same food the kitten is used to, for the first two weeks. This helps to avoid stomach upsets which can be caused by a change of diet, and also limits the number of new things the little kitten has to get used to. Feed your kitten at the same time each day, and keep fresh water available. Don't allow children to interfere with it at feeding times. Wash the kitten's dishes regularly.

You can buy all kinds of cat bedding and while a cat likes sleeping in a basket, a blanket or soft towels will do the job. Take the kitten to its bed after feeding and at night, and it will soon get the idea. Remember that a kitten is still a baby and needs to be able to sleep a lot in the first few weeks in your home.

Toys provide your kitten with exercise and activity to it doesn't get bored; with no toys to play with, kitten may play with the lounge room curtains instead! Have several playtimes together each day, as this tires the kitten and forms a bond between it and its family. Cat toys are available in a fabulous variety, but some paper rolled into a ball or a sock filled with paper are just as effective and as much fun.

A new kitten will generally settle quickly into their new home. Some discipline may be necessary if your kitten decides to sharpen its claws on the furniture or climb your curtains, but a firm "no" should be enough. Invest in a cat scratching post; claw sharpening is a cat's natural instinct.

When you know how to raise a kitten properly, you will enjoy the company and fun that living with a cat represents.

Do you have a new kitten or cat? If you are a beginner to owning a feline, Cat Keepers is your source for helpful advice on how to raise a kitten for the first time. If you arent sure how to raise a cat we have all the information you need to help get you started.

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Dog's Life: A Lasting 17-Year Legacy
of Long Walks and Chicken Treats

Hazel wasn't the city's oldest dog when she died last week at the ripe old age of 17, but she just may have been the happiest.

"People who saw her at the dog run Friday morning could not believe that it was her last day," said Hazel's owner, Amy Kantrowitz.

Early that morning, Hazel made her last journey to the large dog run at Washington Square Park, where she gingerly tooled around the open space, visiting with people she knew and begging for treats and the attention she craved.

It was the same routine she had followed at least twice a day since 1995, when she and her mistress moved from Providence, R.I., to the West Village.

Even when they moved down to Mott St. in Chinatown three years ago, the then-14-year-old dog insisted on making the mile-long trek to the back to Washington Square.

Along the way, Hazel would stop for treats at her favorite SoHo and Nolita boutiques and bookstores, and visit her friends at the BRC Shelter on Bowery.

She often ran into people on the streets who had become her friend - and carried chicken treats just for her.

For the last year, what had been a 20-minute walk began taking more than an hour. Still, twice a day, Kantrowitz patiently ambled alongside her beloved companion - a blue harness strapped around Hazel's torso to help hoist the increasingly fragile dog down the steps from their second-floor apartment - to the dog run.

"It was almost like walking a soap bubble, and she would deflate if I took her any other place than where she wanted to go," Kantrowitz said.

"If I tried to take her home before we got to the run, she would either resist or sit down."

In the evenings, Hazel liked to walk through the park - not around it - where she basked in the adoration of tourists and let out a howl when anyone snapped her photo.

Losing an animal companion of any age can be agonizing.

For Kantrowitz, a consultant for nonprofit organizations, the loss her 17-year companion is surreal.

After all, they met when Hazel was just days old, born soon after her mom was adopted from a Boston shelter where workers did not know she was pregnant. The tiny pup was so small, she slept in a Frisbee, with room to spare.

To help work through her grief, Kantrowitz turned to Facebook to pay homage to Hazel.

She was inspired by "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney," a book written by Judith Viorst that tells the story of a young boy after the death of his cat Barney.

He could only think of nine good things to say about the cat until the day after the funeral, when he was sitting in a garden and realized the 10th good thing about Barney was that he was now helping the flowers grow.

Among the 10 best things she loved about Hazel, Kantrowitz wrote, "Hazel brought out the best in everyone, including me. Her sweet, gentle spirit made painfully anxious people calm down, shy kids open up and with her delight in receiving whatever was offered, she inspired a generosity that was contagious."

It didn't take long to realize the 10th good thing about her best friend.

"Hazel gave me many of you as friends. Between you and the people I have met through you, I have found a city of extraordinary people from all walks of life."

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Cathy M. Rosenthal:
Pet Contraceptives Still Studied
Cathy Rosenthal - My San Antonio

Dear Cathy, In February 2008, Texas A&M announced the university would do a study on birth control for wild animals and eventually cats and dogs. Have you heard any updates? This would be a transformational event in the battle against animal population control.

— Mary

Dear Mary, I spoke with Dwayne Kraemer at Texas A&M, who said that "preliminary studies were not panning out the way they hoped."

But don't despair. Many researchers are exploring avenues to make pet contraception a reality, according to Joyce Briggs, president of the Alliance for Contraceptives for Cats and Dogs, thanks to a monetary incentive.

Back in the fall of 2008, the Found Animals Foundation and its partner, ACCD, announced the launch of the Michelson Prize in reproductive biology to encourage researchers to take on the challenge of developing a nonsurgical pet sterilant to address pet overpopulation problems. The Found Animals Foundation is offering $50 million in grants for researchers and a $25 million prize for the researchers who develop a marketable nonsurgical sterilant. Keep your fingers crossed.

Dear Cathy, We moved into a new subdivision and right away noticed a little dog who hung around the builder's Dumpsters. My husband started leaving her food by the Dumpster, and eventually she watched our house from across the street, waiting for one of us to come out and feed her. This poor little dog is very skittish about noises and avoids all direct human contact. But she at least now comes into our yard to eat, only to disappear into the woods afterward.

We want to do what is best for this little dog, but have no idea what to do for her. Can you please advise us as to the best course of action to help her, or an organization we could contact that would be able to come and get her and give her the care and services she needs?

— Susan and Rick

Dear Susan and Rick, Sadly, no groups in town, with the exception of Animal Care Services, will pick her up. And, if ACS comes out, there is no guarantee she will be put up for adoption.

If you could get her into the Humane Society or the Animal Defense League, they would likely help get her socialized and adopted into a good home. The problem is catching her on the day you have the appointment: ADL has a waiting list and the Humane Society is on a space available basis and can't tell you whether they have space until the morning you call.

My suggestion is to continue socializing her by feeding her in your yard. Then call a local shelter and ask to speak to the shelter manager to see what can be arranged. I would hope one of them would work with you to allow you to bring her in when you are able to catch her. Let me know what happens.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday. You can read her blog, Animals Matter, at

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Pet Advice: From Kennel Cough to Food

Dealing With Canine Senility
Gary Washington -

As a result of an improved health care system, more dogs are living longer than ever before. The result is a corresponding increase in geriatric-related problems. Many of the health problems you find in older dogs mimic, to a large extent, those of their human counterpart. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCDS), for example, is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. With an aging dog population, CCD can and does present a present and ongoing problem.


CCDS is a form of senility. It is hard to recognize the symptoms. Many owners believe them to be indicative of an aging dog. They do not perceive it as a specific health issue. In fact, signs of senility do seem to blend into many of the signs associated with the aging of your dog. Owners of senior dogs should look out for these indications.

• There is an obvious decrease in the amount and type of play.

• The dog is slow responding to commands.

• The sleeping patterns change drastically. Your dog may sleep when previously he or she was wide awake.

• The dog may undergo a major change in their interaction patterns with your family. Your pet might ignore you instead of greeting you. He or she may walk away from you and other family members. They may not initiate any type of interaction such as petting.

• The dog may stare in space, pace or wander aimlessly. Like humans with Alzheimer’s, your dog may not seem to know where he or she is going. The animal becomes easily disoriented.

• The animal experiences difficulties in bladder control. The dog may also demand to go out but fail to do anything.

To complicate further the problem of identification, these indicators do not occur immediately. Moreover, your pet may not display all of the signs. Your veterinarian may not even suspect or diagnose the syndrome. This professional can only do so with your help.

If you notice changes in your senior dog’s behavior, document them. Take your concerns up with the vet. Do so backed up by information. If your vet is to diagnose your dog with CCDS, he or she has to have all the data. This includes knowing what the problem is, when the problem first manifested and the specific pattern of the problem(s). You also have to provide the vet with information on any other specific health problems your dog has or has had.


Unfortunately, there is no known cure for CCDS. You can, however, treat it on several levels. The vet can give you drugs to help reduce physical problems. The common choice is L-selegiline. You can also use an integrative approach. This will combine diet, training and environmental aspects.

• Make sure your dog is eating a diet rich in antioxidants. This will help him or her maintain some mental acuity. It also slows down the progression of CCDS.

• Enrich your dog’s life. Stimulate them more. Challenge them daily with frequent if short walks. Praise them every time they do eliminate outdoors.

• Continue to train them. This will help their brain continue to function. Do not try elaborate new signals. Use and reinforce simple and familiar ones. Make sure they are clear.

• Be sure the outdoor and indoor environments are safe and sound. This means keeping gates and exits tightly secured. This will prevent the dog from wandering out of the yard, becoming lost and even more confused. Indoors, you may use baby gates or other forms to provide a sense of security.

• Keep the room and yard clear from all clutter. This will prevent your dog bumping into objects.

If you pay heed to the needs of your senior dog, you can help him or her live comfortably with CCDS.

Information written by Gary Washington of, look for new discounts on dog seat covers online.

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Don't Give That Dog A Bone!

In LA we love our dogs something fierce.

Just look at the lengths we go to make them comfortable (plush bedding, booties), fit (frequent excursions to the dog park, totes in slings once reserved for human babies) and happy (shampoo, conditioner, gourmet treats, and so on).

As such, we dog-lovers should also commit to memory the following list, in order to keep our little ones healthy. Pet expert Dr. Karen Halligan reminds us of the 20 things we should never feed them. Avacados, for example, can be harmful, and they grow rampantly all over the city. Chocolate, alchohol and tobacco may be treats for you -- but all can be very bad for fido.

Study up and hone your parenting skills. Then get back to pampering your pup as usual.


Excerpted from “Dr. Karen Halligan’s What Every Pet Owner Should Know: Prescriptions for Happy, Healthy Cats and Dogs”. Collins 2007

1. No Bones About It

Bones are very dangerous for animals. Every year thousands of animals end up in the emergency room from eating bones, usually given by their owners as a treat. The fact is that dogs are omnivores, not carnivores. Most dogs and cats can’t tolerate bones, since they can splinter or lodge in the intestinal tract with disastrous results, usually requiring surgery.

Bones can also get stuck in your pet’s mouth or throat, which is just as dangerous. Bones of all kinds are bad; this includes pork, chicken, and beef. So the next time you feel the urge to give your dog a bone, just make sure it’s a Milk-Bone™ or a Nylabone™. Your pet will love you for it.

2. Chocolate Can Be Lethal

A potential lethal dose of chocolate for a 16-pound animal is only two ounces of baker’s chocolate or 16 ounces of milk chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, which causes increased heart rate, central nervous system stimulation, and constriction of arteries in pets. Clinical symptoms range from vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and excitability to cardiac failure, seizures, and death. A serious reaction can occur as quickly as four to six hours after ingestion.

3. Alcohol Is Toxic to Pets

It doesn’t take much alcohol to intoxicate a pet. Animals will stagger and bump into things, hurting themselves; alcohol also causes them to urinate uncontrollably. In high doses, it will suppress the central nervous, respiratory, and cardiac systems, and can even lead to death. It’s best to just give your pet water.

4. Milk and Cheese Are Harmful for Adult Animals

Many pets are lactose-intolerant and develop diarrhea when drinking milk. Pets lack the enzyme that’s required to break down milk sugar, and this causes them to develop vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Even though your pets like it and were nursed as infants on their mother’s milk, refrain from giving them milk. Cheese, even in small amounts, is too high in fat and can lead to a life-threatening pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

5. Ham and Other Fatty Meats Are Very Dangerous

Like cheese, ham and other fatty meats are high in fat, which can lead to a life-threatening pancreatitis. In addition to being high in fat, these foods are very salty and can cause serious stomach upset if eaten by your cats or dogs. Furthermore, large breeds of dogs that eat salty food may drink too much water and develop a potentially fatal condition called bloat. The stomach fills up with gas and within several hours may twist on itself, causing the animal to die. So avoid giving ham and/or rich/salty meats to your pets.

6. Onions and Garlic Are Poisonous to Pets

Onions and garlic contain toxic ingredients that can damage pets’ red blood cells and cause fatal consequences. Pets may develop vomiting and diarrhea, which may progress to anemia, weakness, and labored breathing. Onions, either raw or cooked, are more dangerous; a cat or dog can be seriously harmed by only a small amount. Garlic is less toxic, as pets need to ingest large amounts to cause illness.

7. Caffeine Is Risky

Refrain from giving your pets coffee, as caffeine is unsafe for them. It contains methylated xanthine, like chocolate, that stimulates the central nervous and cardiac systems and, within several hours, causes vomiting, restlessness, heart palpitations, and even death. So make sure your pets stay away from that early morning brew.

8. Avoid Avocados

First, avocados are high in fat and can cause your pet stomach upset, vomiting, and even pancreatitis. Second, the pit, besides being toxic, can get lodged in your pet’s intestinal tract, leading to a severe blockage that may require surgery. Symptoms of toxicity include difficulty breathing, abdominal enlargement, and abnormal fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen.

9. Tuna Is Treacherous

A cat’s heart muscle requires an amino acid called taurine to maintain normal strength and function. Canned tuna fish does not have this amino acid, and cats that eat too much tuna fish will develop heart problems. If you want to give your cats the taste of tuna that they love, just make sure it’s tuna fish for cats, which has the amino acid taurine added.

10. Just Say No to Raisins and Grapes

A recent study found that raisins and grapes can lead to gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhea to life-threatening kidney failure, which starts in about 24 hours after ingestion. Small dogs can also choke on grapes, so it’s best to make sure that you provide your pets with a well-balanced diet that’s formulated for their life stage.

11. Mad for Macadamia Nuts

These tasty nuts contain an unknown toxin that can seriously affect a pet’s digestive tract, nervous system, and skeletal muscles. Clinical signs include vomiting weakness, depression, diarrhea, panting, difficulty walking, and muscle tremors. Dogs have become violently ill from ingesting as few as six macadamia nuts.

12. Tobacco Is Taboo

Tobacco contains nicotine, which rapidly affects the digestive and nervous systems of pets. This may lead to salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, collapse, coma, and even death.

13. Liver Is Lethal

Eating large amounts of liver can cause vitamin A toxicity, which severely affects muscles and bones. Hypervitaminosis A causes severe changes including constipation, deformed bones, weight loss, anorexia, and neck, joint, or spine stiffness due to excessive bone growth on the elbows and spine.

14. Fat Can Be Fatal

A pet’s consumption of fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis, which leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Pets with pancreatitis are usually lethargic with severe stomach pain, and often become dehydrated. If left untreated, the condition can be fatal.

15. Potato Peels and Green-Looking Potatoes Are Indigestible

Potato peels contain oxalates, which adversely affect pets’ digestive, nervous, and urinary tract systems. Symptoms include lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

16. Yeast Dough Is Hazardous

If ingested, yeast dough will expand in a pet’s stomach or intestines and produce large amounts of gas in the digestive system, causing severe pain and even rupture of the stomach or intestines. Secondly, as the dough ferments it produces alcohol, which can be toxic as well. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal discomfort, lethargy, or depression.

17. Moldy, Spoiled Food Really Is Rotten

Dogs and cats get food poisoning, like humans, and actually die from eating moldy or spoiled food, which can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, shaking, and seizures. Garbage gut is definitely dangerous, so don’t feed anything you wouldn’t eat to your pets.

18. Rhubarb and Tomato Leaves/Stems Are Hard to Stomach

These plants contain oxalates, which adversely affect multiple systems including the digestive, nervous, and urinary tract systems. Pets will experience vomiting, diarrhea, labored breathing, abdominal cramps, weakness, convulsions, muscle twitching, and seizures from ingesting these.

19. Hold the Mushrooms

Mushroom toxicity can be fatal if certain species of mushrooms are ingested. These can contain toxins that may affect multiple systems in your pet’s body leading to shock and eventually death. Clinical signs include abdominal pain, seizures, hallucinations, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.

20. Plums, Peaches, and Pears are Perilous — as well as Apricot Pits and Apple Cores

The pits and cores of these delicious fruits contain cyanogenic glycosides, which, when eaten by cats or dogs, may result in cyanide poisoning. Signs of toxicity include salivation, apprehension, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, dizziness, collapse, coma, seizures, hyperventilation, and shock.

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Pet Advice: Kennel Cough Advice for your Pets

Many dog owners assume that their canine friends can only be affected by Kennel Cough if they have recently been boarded in kennels. This is not correct. Although it is true that dogs are more vulnerable when grouped together in large numbers, they can actually catch Kennel Cough whenever they come into contact with another infected dog, such as when out walking.

Kennel Cough is a respiratory disease often caused by several different bacteria and viruses working together - the most common of which is called Bordetella bronchiseptica.

It is a highly contagious disease that spreads through airborne particles. In severe cases life-threatening complications can develop, such as pneumonia. Old and young dogs, and those with existing health problems, are the most vulnerable.

Signs of Kennel Cough can include a dry cough, wretching, gagging, lethargy and lack of appetite.

Senior Veterinary Surgeon

, Sean Wensley, says: “The best way to prevent infection is through vaccination. If your dog is going to come in to close contact with other dogs, for example at boarding kennels, or you think your dog might be at risk of contracting Kennel Cough, then you should discuss vaccinations with your vet.”

Infected dogs should be kept isolated because the disease is usually highly contagious and can spread rapidly to other dogs.

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Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

A Pet ... Tarantula?

Dear Heloise: My husband wants to buy our son a TARANTULA, but I'm not sure if our son is responsible enough to take care of one. How long do tarantulas live in captivity, and how do you take care of them? Thanks! -- Creeped-Out in Canada

Spiders sure aren't everyone's cup of tea, are they? But many people love them. The first thing you should do is get a book about care and keeping of tarantulas. Our research here at Heloise Central turned up a few tarantula tips, but keep in mind that there are more than 850 species of tarantulas:

- Tarantulas can be very delicate; use care when handling, because dropping them even from a short distance can cause injury or death.

- Some species are "low-maintenance," according to the American Tarantula Society, while others require "almost constant attention."

- Female tarantulas can live more than 25 years, so a female requires a long-term commitment. Males don't live as long, and die within a few months of mating.

- Tarantulas need a water dish and to be fed two or three times per week. Store-bought LIVE crickets are fine, but variety throughout the year is best.

- Tarantulas prefer temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but direct sunlight or bright lights are not good.

- Tarantulas molt their exoskeleton in order to "grow a size," and they do this by lying belly-up on the bottom of their enclosure. Don't think your pet is dead if you see this pose!

The long and short of it is that tarantulas are exotic pets and should be treated with respect and caution. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Charles and Fran York of Benton, Maine, sent a photo of their adorable black-and-white 8-month-old Shih Tzu, Harvick, sitting on a chair on top of a chair pad (his favorite spot), waiting for his "dad" to come home from work.

To see Harvick, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: May I suggest a traveling hint? My wife and I had our cell-phone numbers engraved on a pet's identification tag, which can be bought at any major pet store nationwide. The placing of the cell-phone numbers ensures that we can be located immediately anywhere nationwide, and that is important to us. -- Frank O., The Villages, Fla.


Dear Heloise: I buy dog food in the large bags and dump them into a large, plastic trash can with a tightfitting lid, which I keep in the garage. I keep a large popcorn tin on my cabinet with dog food in it. When it gets low, I refill it from the can in the garage. Since the popcorn is most often sold at holidays, I have several motifs, and I can rotate them. I keep cheap measuring cups (from the dollar store) in it to measure out the food. -- Pat Ingram, via e-mail

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Do Children Need Pets?

Tips for Helping Your Pets
Grow Old Gracefully
posted by Daphne Sashin - Orlando Sentinel

Pets, like people, are living longer and longer lives. Too many owners assume their pets are “just getting old” and fail to seek treatment for manageable problems, says Veterinarian Michael J. Rumore, the owner of Lake Seminole Animal Hospital in Largo.

For example, when a pet begins to urinate in the house, don't assume it's a natural part of aging. It frequently means the animal has a bladder infection. Other pets have trouble holding their urine due to back or joint pain, drinking excessively from diabetes, kidney problems, hormonal diseases or a loss of bladder muscle strength, which can usually be controlled with medication.

Dementia also can lead pets to forget where they are supposed to “use the bathroom.” This condition can often be managed by nutritional supplements or medications, Rumore says.

He offers some more advice for helping your pet grow old gracefully:

•Older pets need fewer calories and fat as their metabolic rate and activity decreases. The high protein diets necessary for young pets' muscles can strain a senior pet’s kidneys.

•Frequent check ups, usually every six months, are important. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s breed and the conditions to which they are prone, and consequently what screening tests would be most beneficial. Early detection is key for pets, just as it is for people.

Also ask about vaccines. Some vaccines may not be needed, as lifestyle changes can decrease exposure rates. Other vaccines are needed more frequently.

•A pet’s teeth become more important during their senior years. Bad teeth or gums may make it painful to eat. More importantly, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect the heart, kidneys and other organs.
Source: Tampa Bay Newspapers

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Do Children Need Pets?
Why They Are Beneficial?
by Knatchwa -

Should Kids Have Pets – Indeed They Should And The Following Is Why:

Yes I think pets could be beneficial for a child as they offer an opportunity for acquaintanceship, and learning how to take care of another sentient being. As well as an opportunity to have a best friend that is there just for them, no matter what may be going on, always willing to just take the time to listen as a child’s mind is a busy place. There are some things she just needs to figure out on her own, and with a pet, who he/she cares for and takes care of, often the pet is often the best listener she will ever have, as a pet has no ulterior motives except to be the best pet they can be while giving love when love is offered without pre judgement and there is no putting down of the child, as the pet will just sit there and listen to what she has to say, and really sometimes a child needs that, to often I think there is extenuating circumstances or old views, of how a child should be, that will eventually overcome them if they do not have someone to use as a sounding board such as a loving canine or feline friend to be able to talk to about the dreams or the objectives of this child as they grow to adulthood.

In such a wonderful way that a child will have the opportunity to feel better about their thoughts because they were able to communicate it to their best furry friend.

Animals, are wonderful listeners, and can often be quite willing to be the best they can be with the child in the household, with some training, both of the pet and the child, as they each have challenges with the other, and both need to learn that each is a sentient being, and both often just want their space on occasion, particularly of the feline variety.

As felines by their very nature are quite independent and self sufficient, as cats are very effective predators and can often do what they need to do to make sure they get their dinner. Even domesticated cats, of the pet variety still have those instincts from many generations past, which is why often a cat just needs her space on occasion but is otherwise quite willing to just spend time with her favorite human, child or adult alike.

Even though there is the common misconception about cats that they are just like dogs, the main difference dogs are pack animals they want to be where everyone is, while cats are far more independent and rather a high perch or a favorite hiding place then where all the activity is.

Regardless of Canine or Feline, a pet benefits a child by giving them a best friend, someone who loves without condition and does not pre judge the child, instead willing takes whatever the child may say and listens intently.

Perhaps the cat does not understand all that is said, but the tonality, and the words, can amaze people as to how much a cat places in it’s own personal database, maybe not understanding but remembering how nice it was to just listen then go about their business. Even a dog could be the same, a small dog, with a calm personality will gladly reside there and listen, and give you kisses when you feel sad, or check on you when he/she is worried based on tonality. Either type you choose, all have that willingness to be your best friend, to return the favor to their caretaker when the caretaker takes care of them. Though it is dependent on how they are taken care of, because a dog only knows what they are taught while a cat is usually more willing to just be. Neither of these types though want to be yelled at or hurt and often if that happens the same is returned.

So really a pet whether canine or feline, can be a wonderful addition to a child’s life, and there are many of these same animals throughout even your local area who just want a good home, so why not find a pet you can care for, in a shelter or through a humane society and give them a good home, so that they can return the favor to you and to your children. Pets are definitely beneficial to a child with proper training of both the pet and the child you will have a life long friend. Someone who will care for you and for your family as if they are their own, when treated properly will treat you properly, it is a give and take, you sow what you reap. Offer Love and it will be returned, offer hate or anger or spitefulness and the animal will respond similarly.

In conclusion a properly trained pet and child can be together for a very long time, they both have the benefit of love from another sentient being, and with cats living up to twenty years they will be with you for over two decades when taken care of, loved and attended to, not as a princess but an equal being in your home, to live such a long life there are steps to take and that of course is for another article entirely, for now just know that your child can benefit from a pet and a pet can benefit from being brought to a loving home instead of facing certain death in the streets or on an operating table, if they are not loved and brought into a home. It is sad but true, shelters and pounds have limited capacity, to make space for the animals some must die on the operating table with euthanasia executed to make space.

Certainly there are no-kill shelters but just consider there are millions of people in the United States alone and many homes that a pet may find if only they are removed from the shelter or the pound so that they can live their best life and be your best friend, for you & your children and those who may be in the future.

In two decades with a feline much can happen, if you only take care of them and do the best you can for them they will live to such a ripe old age and be your lifelong friend no matter what may happen in those two decades as long as you keep them by your side.

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Keep a Short Leash on Pet Costs
with Simple Saving Tips

As a result of the economic downturn, many of us have trimmed spending — except when it comes to our pets.

While sales are anemic in most industries, spending on pet products remains robust. Consumer Reports Money Adviser recently reported that total sales topped $43 billion in 2008, and a 4.9 percent increase is expected this year, according to the American Pet Products Association. We spend an average of $1,035 on a cat and $1,580 on a medium-sized dog in the first year of ownership.

You can pamper your furry and feathered friends without breaking the bank.

Here are some ways to cut costs:

Read pet-food labels carefully

A higher-priced brand of pet food could mean that it contains better ingredients, but you might also be paying for pretty packaging, marketing or a fancy name. Consumer Reports Money Adviser suggests checking for the words "complete and balanced," which indicate that it can be the pet’s sole nourishment. Also, look for a statement that the food’s nutritional adequacy was validated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, a regulatory group. Compare pet-food prices on Web sites like,, and Pet, as well as your local supermarkets, big-box stores and pet shops. You can often save by buying in bulk, but check unit prices to make sure. Also, look for coupons on manufacturers’ Web sites and on sites like CoolSavings, and And take advantage of store loyalty programs.

Shop around for prescriptions

If your pet needs medication, ask your vet what the drug will cost and if there’s a lower-priced human-drug equivalent you can pick up at a pharmacy. Compare your vet’s price to what you’d pay on such Web sites as 1800PetMeds,,, KVVet and PetCareRx. Make sure that any Web site you use requires a prescription from your vet; if it doesn’t, that’s a sign that it isn’t a legitimate site. Also, consider a lower-priced generic medication if one is available.

Cut the cost of supplies

Buy things like cleaning supplies, flea and tick medications, and litter in bulk when appropriate. Check out such Web sites as Craigslist, eBay and Freecycle for aquariums, bird cages, cat carriers, dog crates, kitty condos and similar items. A Consumer Reports Money Adviser staffer paid $70 on eBay for a kitty condo that sells for about $270 in a pet store.

Keep the toy count down

Buy a few pet toys and rotate them every couple of weeks. Before you buy, ask your vet about the kinds of toys that are appropriate and safe for your pet. Then compare prices at the pet stores, department stores and Web sites you checked for pet-food deals.

Save boarding fees

Check with family and friends well before a trip to see if anyone can care for your pets. If you can’t find someone to trade, ask your neighbors and vet for the names of people or places they’d recommend. Vet technicians may do pet-sitting on the side for a lower fee than you’d pay to board your pet, and you get the added benefit of someone with medical expertise. If you use a kennel, visit several to compare prices and the quality of the facilities. Ask about the kennel’s policy regarding medical emergencies for boarded animals. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Make sure that the owners are licensed to do business in your state and that the area where your pet will be kept is clean and big enough. You might be able to find someone who will board your pet in their home. Look the place over the same way you would a kennel.


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Tips for Introducing Pets
to a New Baby
By: Deidre Wengen -

Bringing a newborn baby home from the hospital for the first time can be stressful enough. But when you throw dogs and cats into the mix it can be downright dreadful if you aren't prepared.

If you have a pet and no children, your dog or cat probably feels like the baby of the house. He or she is used to getting all of your attention and care, but when a newborn enters the picture the focus will shift.

This article from offers tips to help you pet adjust to a new person in the house so that everyone in your household remains safe and calm.

One of the most important rules of thumb is to prepare your dog or cat for the arrival of the baby. If you have a dog, make sure that he or she is trained to not jump up on people or furniture. Also, carrying around a doll and pretending it is a child can help you find out how your pet will react to the situation. This will make it easier to correct problems before they happen.

For cat owners, make sure to let your cat get used to new toys and baby items by placing them in a room or nursery well before the baby arrives. Also, remember to let your cat come up and introduce himself when he is good and ready.

If your dog does show signs of aggression towards humans or other animals, it could potentially be a dangerous situation for your newborn. Consult a pet behavior therapist and try to correct any bad behavior before you bring a baby home.

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So You Want to Be a Pet Sitter?

Pet-Sitting Industry Growing
Despite Tough Economy
By GRETEL SARMIENTO - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WELLINGTON — The thought in Robin Robb's mind every time she goes out of town is: If Maggie gets out and runs around the entire neighborhood, would the next door neighbor's 12-year-old be able to catch her?

"Tamee will come over and walk Maggie, play with Maggie, spend quality time with her," says Robb, 50.

Hiring a petsitter?

Before you do...

Ask about insurance and bonding.

•Ask for references.

•Ask about qualifications or training.

•Other things to consider: membership with any professional pet organization, background in animal first aid or emergency care, knowledge about pet nutrition, experience giving pet medications, familiarity with washing/grooming dogs and cats

Her 5-year-old Jack Russell is cared for by pet sitter Tamee Ruderman, who two months ago launched her home-based pet-sitting business, All Star Pet Sitting, after 14 years of working for Gap and eight months at PetSmart. Teenagers and potentially, anyone who is unemployed, are Ruderman's competition, she says.

To the desperate unemployed or the employed sick of the office job looking to make a bold move and claim "I am my own boss," walking and feeding pets all day might sound ideal. The profession, after all, is holding steady even in these times.

"Professional pet-sitting has really taken off," said Courtney Klein, the communications specialist with Pet Sitters International, an organization advising pet-sitters nationwide. It has 48 active members such as Ruderman in Palm Beach County. In 1999, its membership was 3,000. Today, it has about 8,000 member businesses, which according to a recent survey have an average of 191 clients each and perform 17.4 million pet-sitting engagements annually. Their mean gross business revenue in 2007 was $37,337 per business.

Since beginning a pet-sitting business two months ago, Lake Worth resident Judy Elswick, 64, has seen a steady supply of extra income. She is a mobile notary, doing occasional weddings, wills and powers of attorney. She loves animals and admits as a senior citizen her Social Security and the income from the notary job wasn't very much. Pet-sitting now represents almost half of her income, she said. Elswick serves the Lake Worth, Greenacres and Wellington areas and her rates range from $20 to $25 per visit.

One must like pets to get the job done, agrees Ruderman. But those considering it also must be patient and flexible.

"Animals are unpredictable and they don't always do what you want them to do," she said.

To do it right, there are some specific steps to take.

Ruderman, 42, obtained a business license for his business from Palm Beach County and a separate license from Wellington, where she lives. She then joined two nationwide organizations: Pet Sitters International and Professional United Pet Sitters.

Through them she obtained specific insurance for pet-sitting, and bonding, which is another form of insurance that protects her in the event of a theft claim against her. She pays $50 and $40 a year for them.

On a typical day, Ruderman makes three rounds. Each home visit is 30 minutes long and includes: water and food, walks, clean litter boxes and playtime, among other things. She charges per visit: $12 for small pets and birds, $14 for cats and $16 for dogs. The most unusual pet she cares for is a white cockatoo.

Her introductory visit is to make sure the pet is not aggressive but compatible. From the owner, she gets a detailed list of the pet's needs and schedule. Do they have a favorite toy or hiding place? Do they know any tricks? Are they afraid of storms? And she sticks to that routine as much as possible so as to not create any trauma.

She calls those who take this job half seriously "hobby sitters," meaning these are occasional pet watchers who most likely have not taken the time to acquire proper documents but see pet-sitting as quick, easy money.

"Everybody and their mother now wants to be a pet sitter. They just want money in their pockets," agrees Linda Aldrich, 56, a groomer and pet sitter for 15 years now.

Aldrich prides herself on having paid $5,000 to attend Connecticut K9 School where she learned grooming and pet anatomy. And she is not very happy with the latest tendency.

"I'm not one of those people who lost their jobs and think 'Hmm, what can I do now?''"

So many people have gotten into pet-sitting, she says, that her business - Furever Friends - has slowed down, which led her to go back to school to become a massage therapist. Now she does both. Her rate is about $15 per visit. She serves the Jupiter, Tequesta, Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach area.

"I'm not one of those people who is going to drop it as soon as the jobs come back," she said.

Gary Bogue: Mysterious Big Black Cat:
A Mountain Lion with Mange?
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Where there are no tigers, a wildcat is very self-important.

— Korean proverb

Big black cats

I wrote a story (with photos) about a black bobcat that people had seen and photographed in Fremont on Aug. 22. I speculated that this might be the "big black cat" that people had reported seeing in the Pleasanton area.

I find this response to that story very interesting:

Dear Gary:

This bobcat actually looks like it is sick with mange disease.

I work with these animals in an urban area of Southern California and we see this a lot here. When they (bobcats) get a severe mange infection, they do tend to look a lot darker.

We have seen a strong correlation in our area between bobcats being exposed to sublethal levels of anticoagulants (rat poisons) and developing severe mange infections. Our local bobcat populations seem to have decreased dramatically in resent years.

Joanne Gale Moriarty, Wildlife Technician, National Park Service, Santa Monica Mountains

Dear Joanne:

I wonder if a mountain lion came down with a mange infection "... would it also make the lion look black like your bobcats? That would explain a lot of things.

I've done a lot of research on "black" mountain lions and as near as I can find out, mountain lions as a species do not have a melanistic (black) phase. They simply don't come in black.

That's why when someone reports seeing a "big black cat," I figure they either saw a big black dog (it happens) "... or they saw someone's escaped black leopard or black jaguar.

If a mange infection can make a mountain lion look black "... as I said above, it would sure explain a lot.

Dear Gary:

I just went through many phone calls, trying to get help for my friend. She went out to put garbage in her can and there was an opossum looking back at her.

She went to the mobile home park's manager but he said he couldn't do anything and just leave it in the can for pickup tomorrow.

That is so irresponsible! A garbage man could get bitten if he reached in not knowing what was in there.

I first called Hayward Animal Services. They said they don't go out and pick up animals. She transferred me to Vector Control and that's not what they do either. Both said it's not their department because they think the address is not in the City of Hayward! It is.

I called East Bay SPCA and they also said to contact Hayward Animal Services. One lady mentioned Urban Wildlife Rescue but didn't know how to reach them.

Although we didn't get any help in moving this guy off to somewhere where it is safe, we did get advice.

1. Give him food and water and put him in the shade. When it is dusk, tip the can over so he can walk out.

2. Carry the can with him in it 2 miles away and release it in a field (my friend is a senior citizen and can't carry cans due to physical limitations).

3. Wear gloves.

So much for the Animal Channel. They rescue everything! Who should we call? I'm glad it wasn't a bear!

Judy, Hayward

Dear Judy:

Like you, I am amazed. The Bay Area probably has more animal rescue groups per square paw print that any other place in the country, yet I continually get calls, e-mails and letters from people who can't seem to find help with their animal problems.

Another example in my e-mail:

A lady says she contributes to almost a dozen nonprofit Bay Area animal groups. Yet when she tried to get their help with "four tiny kittens needing a home," everyone was full.

Now you can't get any help with a simple opossum in the garbage can problem.

Dealing with an opossum is a "tough" problem, you know. Wait until dark, gently tip the garbage can on its side "... and that's it. The opossum will trot off home.

Next time, call the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek at 925-935-1978 and ask to speak to the wildlife hospital.

They'll be happy to give you some good advice.

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The Cat's Out of the Bag:
My Pet is Out to Get Me

I have a nemesis.

I would call her an "evil" nemesis, but since it's my cat, I'll refrain. But sometimes I wonder.

Circles, the oldest of our three cats, is also the hairiest, pickiest, whiniest and, OK, prettiest. (I'm allowed to say that because she's the only girl. The dude cats won't mind.) Long ago, she decided to pick fights with me.

Our rivalry rivals the greats before us: Hatfield and McCoy, Tom and Jerry, Kelly Taylor and Valerie Malone. (I was just watching a 90210 rerun.)

When she jumps on the couch and demands petting, she makes sure her big ol' tail casually hits me, over and over and over. It's just the smallest of taps, but she might as well run her nails down a chalkboard. (Thankfully, we don't own a chalkboard. She doesn't need anything else in her bag o' tricks.)

Whenever I pour myself a glass of water, she'll stick her head in it the second I turn my head. Curses! Foiled again.

So I started putting a piece of paper over all beverages to keep them Circles-free. But then she realized she could just knock that off with a bump of her head. Now I use books. Next will be padlocks.

As my kids pointed out, Circles doesn't bother anybody else's water. Just mine. Well, that's because we're nemeses.

Not long ago, Circles dramatically raised the stakes. She got my beloved purse involved.

I'd spotted it a few months ago at Sam Moon (a.k.a. Purse Heaven) and fell in love. About the size of a small suitcase, it's made of white vinyl with blue piping and straps. On the front are five large, colorful, three-dimensional flowers whose petals are outlined with zippers. The interior features a wild-animal print of some sort. In other words, it's very understated.

Although my husband declared it to be the ugliest thing on the planet, he was soon proved wrong.

Everywhere we went, I got compliments on it. People tugged at me in big crowds, desperate to know where it came from. And when we went on vacation, the commentary from passersby was so frequent that it became an inside joke. With every new "I love your bag!" I'd smile at Mike in a satisfied manner. My purse was the toast of the town!

Until Circles peed in it.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with cat pee-pee. But if you are (and I'm sorry for us), you know that the smell is indestructible. Sure, some products claim they can remove it, but they're big fat liars.

And if a cat pees, you know it right away. So when I walked past the counter one morning, I stopped in my tracks. Uh-oh. I bent closer, sniffing around to find the origin. Which, to my horror, was my Miss Popularity purse.

I cleaned it out and scrubbed at the jaguar-print lining with everything I could find (including vinegar, which was a tip from my mom). The result? It smelled worse than ever. It was now cat pee mixed with potpourri and Italian seasonings. Curses.

The best purse ever was banished to the garage, as it stunk too much to stay inside.

I had nothing to carry stuff around in, so I started leaving my makeup in the car. One day, the liquid concealer got so hot that it bubbled up and splattered on my white shirt. Foiled AGAIN.

I went back to Sam Moon to get an identical replacement, but there were none left. Of course. So I ended up with a smaller version with an ugly cloth strap. Boo.

Clearly, Circles had won this round. Or so I thought – until my son suggested I put the purse in the dishwasher. Hmm. It was so crazy it just might work!

And work it did. After one light cycle on the top drawer, my purse came out smelling like a rose. With zipper-laden petals.

I happily repacked it, giving Circles a quick pet and a smile.

She looked back at me and said nothing, but I know what she was thinking: Curses!

Darla Atlas is a Briefing columnist. E-mail her at

Gary Bogue: Owner Writes About
Dog Killed in Hit-Run Accident
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

— Roger Caras

Hit-run dog

I ran a letter Thursday from Janet of Antioch about a brown Labrador retriever wearing a pink collar that was run over by a hit-and-run driver.

Janet, her daughter and another neighbor found and took care of the dog — feeding it a cookie and water — until animal services arrived and took it to an emergency veterinary hospital.

I listed the phone numbers of the veterinary hospital and Antioch Animal Services in the hopes that the dog's owner would see them and go pick up the dog.

The dog was later euthanized because of extensive head injuries.

The dog's human did read about the accident here and she called the numbers.

She also wrote me the following letter:

Dear Gary:

Her name was Miller.

She was 10 years old on April 16. We loved her more than anyone ever loved their dog.

We couldn't have children so we had our two Labs instead. Her big brother we just lost to cancer — and now this.

I can't tell you how devastated my family and friends are. She was everyone's favorite pal.

She loved the water "... going to Feather River "... Dillon Beach "... playing catch at the park "... messing up mama's garden "... swimming in Grama and Grampa's pool "... and stealing sweets when she had the chance.

To Janet's daughter:

Thank you for giving her a cookie.

I am so sorry, my pretty girl, that I put you in that stupid pink (collar) thing. Her tags are sitting in the garage on her usual red collar, next to the driftwood she brought home from the river last week.

Thank you to the kind neighbors who stayed with her in her time of need.

Please, all dog parents, keep your babies close and don't let them out of your sight. Keep your contact information on your dog at all times.

To the driver — in the black truck — I pray you never feel the kind of pain you have caused! Why didn't you stop (and help)? Why were you going so fast? Why? Why? Why?

If you had slowed down you might have seen her — we might have found her and she would be heading to the beach for the weekend.

Now that won't happen. Our weekend and ever after will be filled with tears.

And so many questions.


Thank you, Gary, for the column, even though it just made us feel even worse.

We went to the Antioch shelter at 10 a.m. the next day. We were told that she had been hit by a car but we couldn't see her until 6 p.m. that night.

They told us she suffered for two hours before anyone arrived to help her. When we got to the emergency hospital they suggested we not view her, but my husband insisted on seeing his baby girl.

Filled with tears we kissed her frozen nose and told her we were so sorry!

Last night we read the column, then walked to where she was hit.

We sat on the curb and cried together.

She will have a private cremation and on the little wooden box it will read: "We love you Miller Girl."

Anna, Antioch

Dear Anna:

I am so very sorry at the loss of your beloved Miller.

And to all drivers: If you accidentally hit a dog or cat, please stop and try to help and/or notify the owner.

If you hit an animal, please call the local police, or Highway Patrol if on the freeway and explain the situation and follow their advice.

If the animal is still alive, please ask the authorities to send an animal control officer ASAP.

Thanks for caring.

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Bath Time Tips for
Your Four-Legged Friend
By Patricia Montemurri -

RISMEDIA, When Fido and Fifi needs freshening up, there’s good grooming to be done in your bathroom, backyard or at a do-it-yourself dog wash. “We keep dogs in our houses. We let them sleep in our beds, so it makes sense to wash them,” says Sharon Robinet, a former groomer who owns Dunk N Dogs in Livonia, Mich., a do-it-yourself dog bathing business.

Dr. David Balaj, a veterinarian at Harper Woods Veterinary Clinic, recommends bathing dogs no more than once a month. What’s key, Balaj says, is diluting dog shampoo with water before applying it to the animal’s coat and making sure to rinse thoroughly. “Dry skin can cause some other issues. And if you overbathe them, the body over compensates and produces too much oil, and then you get a doggy smell,” Balaj says.

Grooming your dog gives you a chance to develop hands-on knowledge of its body. “If you do the basics with brushing and looking in their ears and mouth, you’ll be able to spot signs of disease quicker,” says Dr. Cheryl Good, a veterinarian who runs Dearborn (Mich.) Family Pet Care. “And animals really respond to touch. I think it makes for a more relaxed pet.”

Here are some tips:

Bathing: Where you bathe your dog depends on its size and coat. Small dogs can be cleansed in a kitchen sink. Big dogs can go in bathtubs, but they’re prone to shake themselves free of water, and that will get you, your furniture or your walls wet.

Drying dogs: The best thing is to towel dry your dog and make sure you have lots of towels, so you’re not rubbing a wet dog with a wet towel. Some dogs, like Labradors or Portuguese water dogs, have oily coats that have adapted to water and dry easily by towel. But some dogs may benefit from having their coat blown dry. Otherwise, water and product residue can accumulate under dense hair and irritate the skin. You can use a blow dryer from a distance of a few feet, and on a low-to-medium setting, but make sure you stay with the dog.

Brushing: “Every day wouldn’t hurt, or every other day,” Jeff Reynolds, president of the 3,000-member National Dog Groomers Association, says about frequent brushing. All breeds benefit, Reynolds says, but especially long-haired breeds.

“It keeps the coat from getting tangled up and matted. It helps the skin and the coat texture. It gets the dog used to being brushed and combed out,” Reynolds says. “If you do it every three or four months, they’re not going to get used to it.”

Hair trimming: Some breeds, such as poodles and bichon frises, have lots of hair in their ears. Trimming it might head off ear infections. Do not stick Q-tips in their ears, because you can rupture a dog’s ear drum very easily.

Berserk Boxer Might Just Need a Change in Diet
By Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services

Q: I love Mabel, my 7-month-old Boxer puppy, but not when she goes berserk, tearing through the house. She does this after exercising out in the yard. Her bouts of the "willies" -- which is what we call these crazy outbursts -- also strike after she eats. How do we stop this behavior? -- J.C., San Diego

A: This problem is more common than you think. There may be several contributing factors to "the willies," says dog behavior consultant Liz Palika, author of "Puppy Love," (Wiley Publishing, Hoboken, N.J., 2009; $24.99). "For starters, is Mabel eating a cheapie food filled with too many grains?" Palika asks. "Carbohydrates are important, but look for sweet potato or other sources, aside from grains. Sometimes it's a matter of choosing a premium dog food, but still read the label first."

Palika says that merely allowing Mabel out in the yard doesn't necessarily mean she's getting much exercise. To insure she does exercise, interact with her; play a game of fetch. While a good old-fashioned walk offers only moderate exercise, it's wonderfully enriching to smell the 411 of every canine in the neighborhood.

While you're definitely not responsible for giving Mabel "the willies," the response by family members may have unknowingly trained her to go berserk even more often. Be careful to avoid rewarding your dog with what she perceives as a game of chase (either the kids racing after her in fun, or you following her, hollering in frustration). Palika suggests that when Mabel comes in from outside, keep her on a leash. When you allow her off the leash, offer a Kong or Busy Body toy stuffed with treats to keep her occupied.

Q: We recently moved to a small farm with our two indoor cats. We want to add a Labrador retriever. How do we choose a dog? Any advice on introducing our new dog to the cats? -- L.M., Lexington, Ky.

A: A puppy can work out, but there are several advantages to choosing an adult dog, says Amy Shojai, author of "PETiquette: Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multi-Pet Household" (M. Evans and Co., New York, 2005; $15.95), "Retriever puppies can be very energetic," she notes. "Even if the puppy doesn't have a mean bone in her body, cats with no previous experience with dogs might be offended by a rambunctious puppy with big old paws coming at their faces."

Shojai suggests adopting an adult dog from rescue who's living with a foster family with cats.

Whether you get an adult dog or a puppy, keep the new pet secluded behind a puppy or baby gate. When the cat seems interested in the dog, allow the dog to walk around the house on a leash. The leash routine may last for days or weeks with an adult dog, but will likely last for a month or more with a pup. As you begin to allow the dog off-leash, show your cat places to escape that the dog can't reach, such as the top of a sofa, window ledges, book shelves, a cat tree, etc.

"Knowing there's an escape route will help the cats feel safe, and also provide a vantage point where the cats can curse at the crazy dog!" Shojai adds.

One secret to encourage your cats to accept the dog is to offer a special treat when they're acting calm, cool and collected in the dog's presence. The bottom line is to introduce the dog as quickly as your cats will allow; they'll make the call.

Q: I'm interested in learning about goldfish. Where's the best place to get them? Can you suggest any books? How about tips on their care? -- M.N., Chicago

A: Stay away from carrying home a carnival fish, advises Sarah Klusak, an aquarist and vice president of the Aquarium Professional Group, Evanston, Ill. "A pet superstore isn't the best place to buy a goldfish, and they'll likely sell a feeder goldfish anyway, and they're not bred to live very long. Instead, go to a pet store specializing in fish. Also, avoid those fancy goldfish; they may look interesting but they're inbred and seem more susceptible to illness."

Goldfish may survive in a bowl, but unlike betta fish, they're not truly suited to that environment; far better to keep goldfish in a filtrated aquarium.

Klusak says goldfish are messy eaters and eliminate frequently, creating dirty, even toxic water, over time. Putting several goldfish in too small a space makes maintenance a challenge; better to keep only a few goldfish in a large aquarium, with lots of decorative objects to serve as hiding places.

"Over-feeding is one of the biggest problems we have, particularly with goldfish," Klusak says. "Less is best." With luck, and appropriate housing and care, goldfish should easily survive a decade or more.

Two books to check out: "Focus On Freshwater Aquariums," by Geoff Rogers and Nick Fletcher (Firefly Books, New York, 2004; $29.95) and the "Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium," by John Dawes (Firefly Books, New York, 2001; $40).

Q: I've been out of work and am seeking a new direction. I want to work around animals. I know I couldn't deal with the trauma of an injured pet, however, so being a veterinary technician won't work. Other than a groomer or trainer, can you think of anything? -- J.B., Richmond, Va.

A: You likely have other skills, such as computer technology or accounting, which a local shelter may need. For sure, the gift of gab is a skill required for an adoption counselor. Pet sitters do have to be prepared to deal with potential emergency health issues, but mostly to remain calm, do no harm and transport sick or injured pets to a veterinary clinic. Learn more about becoming a pet sitter or dog walker at

Perhaps you could find a job at a pet store or with a company that makes pet toys, pet food or even pharmaceuticals for pets.

An entire book was written in an attempt to answer your question: "Career Success with Pets," by Kim Barber (Howell Book House, New York, 1996; $17.95), or a booklet, "105 Careers for Animal Lovers," by Paul Fitzsimmons (PJ Publications, Madison, Wis., 2003; $8.95).

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Yes, You Really Are Doing It Wrong

This week I was reading an interesting article in one of my journals. One of the premier flea experts, Dr. Mike Dryden (whom I've mentioned before) has been doing a study on flea control. He went to Florida, the state with the biggest flea problem in the US, and visit the homes of around 30 people who were having flea problems and said that their flea prevention products weren't working. Dr. Dryden studied the environment and what the clients were doing to control the fleas. In every single case, he found that there was a problem with client compliance. The lack of flea control was not a problem with the product itself, but with how the client was using it or how they were treating (or not treating) the environment. Remember, these were all people who thought they were doing things correctly and were convinced that the products simply didn't work.

This is yet further proof to me that these products really are very effective. Every single day we talk to clients who honestly believe that the prevention we sell them isn't working. But I can find fault with how they are using things in well over 90% of the cases. Just today we had someone call our hospital complaining about Advantix. They had put a single dose on a week ago and were still seeing fleas. This was their first time using any flea products this year. We had to have a long discussion with them about expectations and the flea life cycle. Dr. Dryden's study supports this view of clients simply not doing what they should be.

Unfortunately, it's hard to convince them of that. Flea control can be much more complicated that people realize, and waiting until you see fleas is too late. Check with your vet and find out when flea season begins in your area (or if it is year-round), and then start using a veterinary-recommended product at the beginning of the season before you see fleas. If you see fleas despite using these products, be sure to talk to a vet who truly understands all of these factors and get advice. The data continues to mount that if a product doesn't work it's not a failure of the prevention, and you really are doing something wrong.

Gary Bogue: Dangerous Deer Hunting
Going on in Martinez
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

I shot an arrow into the air,

It fell to earth, I know not where "...

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dear Gary:

My neighbors and I need some advice on how to pursue a problem that we have in our community of Stonehurst, an unincorporated area of Martinez.

We have illegal hunting of deer to the point where one neighbor was narrowly missed by a high-powered bullet as it crashed through his window. This past Thursday a deer was killed with a bow and arrow no more than 30 feet from me and my car as I was stopped at a stop sign.

Homes are 20 yards apart in this area and the law states, "no firearm or deadly weapon may be discharged within 150 yards of an inhabited dwelling."

The hunter shot this deer from the porch as the small buck ate pears in the orchard. The hunter (and I use this term loosely) was identified, (and) the police and game warden were contacted.

It seems that the original land owners feel that they can continue to hunt like they did before homes were built with total disregard for human safety. We have had two homes hit by bullets.

The hunters are now using crossbows and bows/arrows at night because we have complained about the gunfire. We had seven magnificent bucks wandering around here two months ago, now we have none. Any advice, or people to contact would be much appreciated.

Bob, Martinez

Dear Bob:

EVERY time a shot or arrow is fired, you should contact your local
police and the State Fish and Game Department.

Bows and arrows are also dangerous weapons and it's not legal to fire them within 150 yards of dwellings. You also can't hunt on private property without permission, on or by a road, or one half-hour before or after sunset — which means you can't hunt at night.

You and your neighbors need to stay proactive on this and contact the law whenever this happens; otherwise someone eventually will get hurt.

And be sure to keep your head down from flying bullets and arrows!

Beastly things to do

Going to the Dogs (and Cats) is a special party benefiting Muttville (senior dog rescue and adoption) and Benicia/Vallejo Humane Society. The event is 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday at Woodhall Clubhouse, 501 Orindawoods Drive, Orinda.

There's a fashion parade of Muttville's amazing senior dogs woofing it around the pond. BVHS will be there with its new van full of kitties for adoption. There will also be a dog training demonstration by Barkbusters. Learn how to train your dog the Aussie way, with no treats, just your tone of voice. And a silent auction, raffle and refreshments.

Admission: $20 at door. Please RSVP by Friday at 925-254-5113. More at

Fix Our Ferals Winter Cat Campaign Kick-Off Meeting is 10 a.m. Saturday. Meet at Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society, 2700 Ninth St. at Carleton, Berkeley. Contact Rebecca at 510-908-8515.

Do you live in Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, El Cerrito, Emeryville or Piedmont? Please attend the above meeting and become a volunteer to provide trapping assistance and free spay/neuter in these cities!

Dear Gary:

I have two thistle seed socks for feeding the goldfinches in my backyard. It seems more thistle ends up on the ground than they are consuming. Is what's on the ground the whole seed?

Sharon Johnson,


Dear Sharon:

The black stuff you see on the ground under the sock feeders is the black hulls.

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