Halloween Costumes for Your Dog Part 4 PLUS Black Cats: Are You Superstitious?

Heloise: Checklist of Hints
for ‘Preferred Pet’ Shipping
By Heloise - King Features Syndicate

Dear Readers: Are you relocating and need to get Fido, Fluffy or Tweetie Pie to where you are going and don’t want to drive? Did you know that many airlines these days have “preferred pet” shipping, where you can ship your dogs, cats and birds in climate-controlled and pressurized comfort?

Here is a checklist of hints to help you get ready to ship an animal:

--Call (or check the Web site of) individual airlines to find out what their restrictions are.

--Make your reservations by phone as far in advance as possible.

--Arrive at least two hours early to be sure all is in order.

--Some pets (dogs, cats and household birds) can be carried on board in the cabin with you. Each airline has special requirements and fees, so call to check. There also are a limited number of animals allowed on each flight, so make your reservations as early as possible.

--Remember that in hot climates, certain breeds of short-nosed dogs and cats cannot fly in the heat of the summer or to some destinations.

--Purchase only an airline-approved pet carrier.

--Attempt to get a nonstop flight, and earlier in the day is best.

--Freeze little clip-on dishes of water the night before the flight so they will thaw slowly.

--Do NOT put towels, blankets, toys or pet food inside the crate unless approved by the airline. Don’t muzzle, leash or put a choke collar on your crated pet.

--Always write your contact info and the pet’s name on the outside of the crate with a black marker.

There may be other additional charges. Some examples are kennel storage fees, terminal handling charges and veterinarian care.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, PO BOX 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: (210) HELOISE; e-mail: Heloise@Heloise.com; Web site: www.heloise.com

Remember to Keep Your Pet Safe
and Comfortable During Halloween
GARY KEAN - The Western Star

While being spooked out is expected and accepted as a fun part of Halloween for humans, the occasion can cause real fear and unpredictable behaviour in some pets.

Making Halloween enjoyable for your pet shouldn’t be too tricky, according to LeeAnn O’Reilly of Corner Brook.

The president of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada said poorly socialized dogs, for instance, can feel threatened and exhibit aggression when they have to unexpectedly contend with the steady flow of wildly dressed and excited kids which epitomizes the Halloween experience.

“Think about it — dark clothes, clothes which add bulk to the human and a huge bag swung on the shoulder can all be intimidating,” said O’Reilly. “For territorial aggression issues, the entrance of people or other animals not known by the dog can be a threat. It’s the same premise with kids dressed as scary monsters or dainty fairies — they are, to a dog, bizarre and unknown. The bag of treats is much like the mail carrier’s bag — only this time, the bag is thrust towards the owner, generally in the dark.”

Dogs which have been properly trained and socialized with children are more apt to be desensitized to the heightened activity on Halloween night, but O’Reilly said even the most sociable of dogs can become overwhelmed by the onslaught of “intruders.”

Aggression isn’t the only issue to beware of. Overwhelmed dogs may also experience physical ailments like bloat if they are fed too early before or too soon after a busy trick-or-treating period.

“Gastric torsion, or bloat, is a life-threatening condition where the stomach actually flips over onto itself and stops all blood flow into the gut,” explained O’Reilly. “Many factors can lead to bloat— stress, heavy exercise, fear can all be contributing factors. The general rule of thumb is no food for at least an hour after heavy exercise or stressful events or two hours before.”

Another way to avoid stress is to exercise the dog during daylight hours, so it doesn’t have to be concerned with the legions of ghosts and goblins gallivanting around in the dark.

Some people go the extra step and actually dress up their pets in costume. Besides supervising costumed animals at all times to ensure they are comfortable, O’Reilly said there are other things to consider beforehand. She urged owners to watch out for materials which might be toxic if ingested, or which could be choked on or cause bowel blockages.

“Many costumes have ties which, if caught in fences or accidentally twisted, can injure a dog quite easily,” said O’Reilly. “You should look for Velcro closures on costumes and avoid ties of any sort.

“Also, the cute wings we attach or the devil horns all can be frightening to the dog that has not come to know them as their own body parts and can cause the dog to be frightened or uncertain.”

Halloween tips:

— Avoid costumes made for humans. Pet-specific costumes are readily available and generally provide safer alternatives which are just as fun.

— Practice putting the costume on to observe the pet’s comfort level and the durability of the costume.

— Supervise your pet at all times when a costume is on.

— Now is not the time for introducing your dog to kids. Kindly discourage any meet and greets.

— Avoid off leash romping since small children can behave unexpectedly in their pursuit of goodies.

— Make sure your dog is safely contained away from open doors or windows. After all, food is being handed out to small children your dog may not know and a quick escape is always possible.

— Make sure your goody bowl isn't easily accessed by your pet. Many treats pose a threat to choking or are toxic when ingested.

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Watch Out for Fido
By Lauren Wicks Suffolk News-Herald

As the season changes, there are the obvious things that need to be taken care of.

Home improvements, thermostat adjustments and other home needs are immediately handled when the weather starts turning cooler.

But there are others in the home that need to have special attention during this time of year as well.

“People need to be aware of the need of your pets, particularly in the winter and very cold and wet periods of time,” said Kay Hurley, director of community outreach for the Suffolk Humane Society. “Nothing would make us happier than for people to treat their pets like members of the family, but we want people to be aware that those pets are completely dependent on them.”

Hurley said there are basic necessities people should remember in colder temperatures, such as remembering to leave adequate food and water as well as shelter, preferably with bedding, for their animals. But, she added, these things alone are not enough for most family pets.

“We unfortunately have a lot of people who keep their pets on chains,” Hurley said. “That’s a pretty miserable existence for them, but in the winter it’s particularly dangerous.”

The Humane Society of the United States has posted a series of tips for pet owners to keep in mind as they prepare for the winter months.

According to the Web site, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life, no matter what the temperature. Even if pets are considered to be “outdoor” pets, they should still be protected by having a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the animal to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his body heat. It is also recommended that the floor of the shelter be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Additionally, the house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Aside from protection from the outdoors, the Humane Society also warned of storing antifreeze away from where pets can reach it, wiping salt and ice-melting chemicals from animals’ paws and keeping food and water plentiful.

Hurley said it is easy to forget to provide for the animals of the home in a tough economy like the country is currently facing, but these small measures are of the utmost importance.

“You need to remember to look out for your best friends,” Hurley said.

For a complete list of tips from the Humane Society of the United States, visit http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/protect_your_pet_from_winters_woes.html.

Keeping Pets Happy While You’re Away
BY: Lolita Carrico - MyGloss.com

How can we keep our pets happy and entertained while we’re away at the office or school during the day? We spoke with Dr. Debra Horwitz, a veterinarian and board certified animal behavior specialist, about some tips to not only keep pets active and satisfied while we’re away but also about how to make our time with our pets count.

GLOSS: Do you have any tips for keeping pets happy while owners are away for the day at work or school?

For dogs, it is imperative that they have ample time to eliminate and exercise before their owners leave for the day. For cats, they need a clean litter box and a refreshed food bowl. After that, diversity is important, so while it may seem best to leave all the toys out, it really is best to rotate them every few days. The appearance of another toy will be new and novel and stimulate more exploration. For dogs, creating food puzzles that require them to work for their food fits in with their natural ability as scavengers. Cats as well will enjoy playing “hunter” as they try to find the various food dispensing toys and then the challenge of getting the food out.

Make sure to create a safe environment for the pet while you are gone. This might mean keeping windows and blinds closed so that dogs are not bothered by outside noises and engage in excessive territorial displays. It is also important that dogs and cats are safely indoors while their owners are gone. Be sure to always check toys for loose parts before giving them back to your pet and discard torn or non functioning toys and replace them with new ones.

GLOSS: How can a busy pet owner best make “quality” time with their pet?

The first step is to realize that the pet and their owner may want different things from their time together. The pet owner may want cuddle time, petting and to just feel loved by their pet. Many dogs and cats will want that too, but some of our companions also want to use their innate abilities to do “dog and cat” stuff. For dogs, that might mean sniffing new smells, playing with toys, learning fresh tricks, going for a walk or playing fetch. Toys that challenge their skills and mind create the type of quality time that most dogs will find quite satisfying. For a cat, that might mean running, jumping, chasing or pouncing. Most cats are eager to exercise the hunter inside by chasing after a toy, working to get their food or climbing to a high perch. Any way that an owner can stimulate the feline and canine abilities will turn time spent with their pet into quality time.

GLOSS: As a consultant for the development of the Purina Pet Gear line, can you tell us why are accessories like these are important for pets?

Our pets live longer and healthier lives with the current advances in veterinary care and nutrition, coupled with the ability to live indoors and be protected from the world outside. However, they still are dogs and cats and have the need to utilize their strengths to do what they enjoy. Purina Pet Gear accessories are designed to appeal to what the pet likes to do. They help pet owners provide the type of entertainment, activities and stimulation that will be satisfying for their pets. By creating pet friendly and people friendly toys, it takes the guess work out of how to keep your canine and feline family members happy, healthy and satisfied. Not only will they be mentally healthier, the increase in exercise will help fight obesity that has become a health problem for so many of our family pets.

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Halloween Costumes for Your Dog
- Part 4 of 4
Thanks to Kathy from BHC, AZ

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PAW PRINTS: Deciding If Pet
Insurance is Right for You
and Your Pet
By Niki Laviolette - Terre Haute Humane Society

TERRE HAUTE — Few people understand all the facets of insurance. Policies are often confusing when determining which type, rate, or if we even need it at all.

Pet health insurance usually requires you to pay your veterinarian, you file a claim, and then you are reimbursed a portion or all of the fees, with most insurance companies requiring a deductible. Insurance is used to minimize financial loss should your pet need veterinary care.

The purpose of pet insurance is to ensure that you will be able to get the veterinary care your pet needs should a medical emergency occur.

Oftentimes, owners are forced to euthanize their pets due to unaffordable expenses. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans will spend approximately $9.4 billion this year on the health of their pets.

Deciding if pet insurance is for you, generally, depends on your financial situation.

If your pet unexpectedly needed emergency veterinary care that would cost $1,000, $2,000, or more, would you be able to afford it?

If so, then you probably don’t need pet insurance.

If not, and euthanasia would be the necessary decision, then you might want to consider pet insurance.

Pet insurance can offer the comfort of knowing that you can care for your pet without compromising veterinary care.

Pet insurance will not cover pre-existing conditions so it will be necessary to purchase a policy before your pet becomes ill.

Keep in mind that premiums will increase as your pet gets older and most policies have spending limits. It’s important to do your research when deciding on which policy to buy as not all pet health insurance companies offer the same value.

Make sure the policy covers your veterinarian; sometimes you will need to choose from a network of veterinarians.

Like people insurance, pet insurance is offered with different types of policies. Various policies pay only for accidents or medical problems; others will pay for preventative care such as vaccinations, spays/neuters and worming. The type of coverage will affect the premium paid.

A number of policies will have a maximum they will pay out each year or per event.

The policies that are available include accident only, accident and illness, wellness care, and senior pets. Typically, cat health insurance is cheaper than dog health insurance.

Reasons include: cats usually live indoors and are generally healthier.

They also have a tendency to not get into trouble such as eating foreign objects or chasing after cars.

Approximately 2 to 3 percent of pets in the U.S. have health insurance. Pet insurance is popular in other countries, as more than half of all the pets in the U.K. have pet insurance.

More than 1,500 U.S. companies offer pet health insurance as a benefit. Pet

insurancereview.com is a site that offers feature comparisons between companies, ratings of various insurance companies, and policy quotes from multiple insurers.

Are You Superstitious About Black Cats?
SF Gate

Let me begin this Halloween-inspired post by stating the obvious: a cat, no matter what its color, cannot influence fortune. But, of course... this hasn't stopped people from believing in the "special powers" of black cats for centuries.

In many countries, having a black cat cross your path is considered lucky.
Whether you believe that these inky felines are good luck or bad could largely depend on where you grew up: If you hail from the United States or most European countries, walking in a black cat's wake might make you quake in your boots. But if you come from the United Kingdom or Japan, seeing a black cats cross your path will likely make you grin because your luck is about to change for the better.

The direction the cat in question is traveling also counts for a lot. Leave it to the Germans to have the most precise rule about black cats: if they cross your path from right to left it's considered a bad omen. But if they saunter left to right, the cat is granting favorable times for you. In most parts of the world, a black cat walking towards you is considered a sign that good luck is coming your way, but if they turn around before they reach you, all bets are off.

In Italy, many hold the superstition that if a black cat lies on a sick persons bed, death is not far off. In China, some believe black cats are harbingers of famine and poverty. But when Latvian farmers discover coal-colored kitties in their grain silos they dance with joy. They believe these black beauties embody the spirit of Rungis, a god of harvests. And in Scotland, finding back kittens near your home is a sure sign of riches and happiness to come.

The ancient Egyptians revered black cats and treated them as royalty. In fact, killing a black cat was considered a capital offense. These favored felines were mummified upon their death to preserve them for the afterlife.

Chasing black cats out of your house is thought by some to ensure that yours will not be a lucky home. It is also believed that stroking the fur of black felines will bring health and wealth. Many people around the world claim that there is a single white hair to be found on even the blackest of cats. And if you can pull out that hair without getting a scratch, you'll have a long, happy and prosperous marriage.

So, how did black cats become associated with witchcraft? In the 15th century, witch hunts spread like wildfire across Europe in a horribly misguided effort to put the kibosh on pagan religions. Many people believed that all witches kept "familiars" — small creatures including frogs, birds, snakes and very often cats — to help them cast evil spells. And if that cat was black — a color associated with magic and sorcery — look out. It became "proof" that the unfortunate victim was a witch or warlock and was a sure ticket to a date with some rope and a few stakes.

Puritan Christians believed that witches had the power to transmute themselves into black cats to avoid death, which inspired many stories and legends. While being sentenced to death, a German witch is said to have cackled at the judge, spat threats at the priest and cursed her executioner. As the story goes, she was dragged from the court and tied to a stake for burning. As the flames rose around her there was a flash of light and a black cat leaped from the flames and ran through the astonished crowd.

King Charles I of England is reported to have kept what he believed to be a lucky black cat as a pet. He was so fearful of losing it that he had it guarded day and night. The cat reportedly died the day before Oliver Cromwell's parliamentary troops came and arrested the king for high treason. Not long after, the king was beheaded. Alas, his luck had truly run out.

Regardless of what superstitions continue to circulate about cats — of the black or other varieties — it's safe to say that most people feel very lucky to have them in their lives.

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