How to Choose the Right Vet

Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

New Code for Pets

Dear Heloise: Thank you for your recommendations about arranging for pet care in the event of a PERSONAL EMERGENCY. As someone who now lives alone with two dogs and a cat, I've often wondered how my housemates would be cared for in the event that I'm stricken while away from home.

I'm fortunate to have a neighbor who cares for the pets when I'm away for extended periods. But how would anyone know to contact him if I'm incapacitated or worse?

I have a hint I'd like to pass on. Most of us are aware of the importance of the ICE code (it stands for "In Case of Emergency" -- Heloise) on our cell phones. What do you think of promulgating a similar EPC code ("Emergency Pet Care") for our phones? If that code were publicized and put into practice, our helpful neighbors could be contacted and asked to come to the rescue. -- Mike B., Omaha, Neb.

You have a good pet hint that I'm happy to publicize. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Ruth Ferry of Torrington, Conn., sent a photo of her 3-year-old domestic short-haired cat, Sam, standing on his hind feet gazing longingly out a window.

To get a look at Sam, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Recently needing a scoop for feeding my fine feathered friends, I cut the bottom from a 1-liter plastic bottle. First I cut the bottom off straight across using kitchen shears, where the label stopped, and then I cut a scoop shape at an angle from the remaining large part. The scoop is great because the cap keeps the seed in the scoop until I get to the feeder.

If you do not cut the scoop at an angle, you also have a wonderful funnel when you remove the cap. This is one way to keep those bottles out of the landfill. Of course, I recycle mine also. One can use only so many scoops and funnels.

Thank you so much for your column. I read it in The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper. -- Nancy, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: Many years ago when I lived with my family in the country, a cat showed up at our door and would not leave, so she became our cat. She was very playful, so we named her Happy. A few months later, on Oct. 31, another cat showed up and would not leave. Because of the date we first saw her, we named her Halloween. Both cats became part of our family. They spent a lot of time outdoors, but always came in when I called them, either to feed them or in the evening when it was cold outdoors. It took me some time to realize how strange it must sound to anyone within hearing distance when I called "Happy, Halloween." -- Stella R., Manchester, N.H.

Tails of Marin:
Why Spay and Neuter Pets?
Numbers Tell the Story
Carrie Harrington -

In six years, one female dog and her offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies.
And in just seven years, one female cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens.

The numbers tell the story: Spaying and neutering companion animals is the most effective way to reduce pet overpopulation. Every day in the United States, more than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. And in California, nearly 1 million homeless animals are born each year. As long as such high birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for these animals.

In Marin, the community has done an excellent job of curbing pet overpopulation. But there is still work to do. Being a responsible pet guardian means making the important choice to spay or neuter your pet - it's a choice that saves lives.

Contrary to some myths, spaying and neutering will not make your pet fat and lazy. Too much food and not enough exercise is the main cause of obesity in pets. Neutering will not make your cat and dog feel less masculine or change their basic personality. They won't suffer from any kind of identity crisis when neutered.

An altered pet can be easier to manage. Heat cycles in unspayed females can attract persistent males and cause frantic pacing and crying. Neutered males are generally less aggressive and less apt to roam or mark their territory by spraying. Unaltered dogs are three times more likely to bite humans and other animals. In fact, California has more reported dog bite injuries than any other state and a majority of dog bite victims are children.

Spaying and neutering is healthier for your pet, too. Spaying female dogs and cats eliminates the problems and risks of pregnancy and birth, as well as the common problems of cancer and infection of the uterus. It also decreases the possibility of mammary tumors and eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer. Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the risk of prostate problems and testicular tumors later in life.

And don't forget to spay or neuter your pet rabbit. Spaying or neutering rabbits can reduce hormone-driven behavior such as mounting, spraying and lunging, and spaying females can prevent ovarian, mammary and uterine cancers. Rabbits reproduce even faster than dogs or cats and often end up in shelters where they are adopted less frequently than their feline or canine friends.

Does the fee for spaying or neutering your companion animal seem too costly? The Marin Humane Society Veterinary Clinic performs low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for cats and dogs of Marin County residents.

In addition, four times a year, including November, the Society's Cat Fund, in conjunction with several local veterinarians, provides low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for felines. For more information on these programs, call the MHS Veterinary Clinic at 415-883-3383.

Low-cost programs

Feline low-cost spay/neuter for November, sponsored by the Marin Humane Society Cat Fund.

Cost: Spay, $50; neuter, $40

Call one of the following vet hospitals to make an appointment:

- Adobe Pet Hospital (Mill Valley): 388-4300

- Fairfax Veterinary Hospital: 454-8204

- Marin Pet Hospital (San Rafael): 454-4414

- Point Reyes Animal Hospital: 663-1533

- Redwood Pet Clinic (Greenbrae): 924-3493

- The Country Vet: 897-8380

- Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital: 479-8535

Carrie Harrington is the communications manager at the Marin Humane Society, which contributes Tails of Marin articles. For more information, call 415-883-4621 or visit

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The Dog-Gone Funnies
Thanks to Al from BHC, AZ

You Must Afford Aquarium Supplies

If you are considering buying an aquarium full of fish or if you already own one, then you cannot afford to stop there. Just like any other pets, fish in aquariums require a lot of care and attention. You cannot just throw fish into an aquarium and expect them to survive and thrive. You must purchase the proper aquarium supplies for your fish.

I'm pretty passionate about this subject because owning a pet supplies store I have seen far too many people choose to own fish because "they are easier and require less than other pets." While this is true on many levels, it is no excuse for people to not buy the proper kinds of aquarium supplies for their pets.

If you are unsure of what kinds of aquarium supplies you might need for the fish you have purchased or are hoping to purchase, then look no further than to a pet supply store for help. Go to a store near you and talk to someone that is knowledgable about aquarium supplies. Ask all of your questions and allow them to lead to aquarium supplies that are reasonable and necessary for the livelihood of your fish. Make sure that you have a full understanding of the needs of your fish before you purchase them. You need to realize that fish take work just like any other pet and that something will be required of you in taking care of them.

If you aren't quite ready to visit a pet supply store, then go to your local library and find some resources on starting an aquarium and filling it with the right aquarium supplies. There are many great resources out there, you just need to find them and learn what you can. You can also benefit greatly in learning about the proper aquarium supplies by doing an internet search based on the kinds of fish you have or are thinking of purchasing.

When it comes time to actually purchase aquarium supplies, you'll want to make your way back to the pet supplies store. No where else will you find as great of help from people who really know what they are talking about. So get to your local petshop and find all the aquarium supplies you need. And don't worry, most aquarium supplies come in a wide variety of price ranges, so don't feel obligated to run off and buy the most expensive ones. Instead, go for what fits your budget.

Having fish can be a great and fun thing. Just be sure to fill your aquarium with the right supplies and your fish will live long and stay happy.

Do Your Part for Your
Cat’s Proper Grooming
By Kim Archer -

Most cats can tend to themselves when it concerns cleanliness. Yet in order to keep your cat in the best possible hygienic health, you also need to do your own share. When you groom your cat it is a good opportunity to check for fleas and ticks. Furthermore, you ought to examine the skin for unusual conditions, damage, or balding when you groom. Read the following for some tips to make your cat look even better with proper cat grooming.

Before you begin grooming, the required pet grooming supplies ought to be obtained to help make the job less difficult with an improved outcome. You will need to pick up several products like grooming scissors and a grooming glove, as well as a brush and comb. Only use products specially made for the care of your cat.

Keeping the hair washed and neat is one way to keep your cat looking good. By combing and trimming the hair on a regular basis you will both be able to enjoy the advantages of a well groomed cat. When grooming your cat’s hair, choose a brush that has lots of tiny bristles. For brushing to go more effortlessly the head ought to be fairly small. To properly groom your cat, brush it in the direction that its hair grows. If you don’t, you will likely have an angry cat, and many scratches.

Grooming your cat does include the occasional bath. To make the job as stress free as possible, wash her in her carrier and use a towel to help make sure she is as calm as can be expected. Select a shampoo made for cats that will create a good lather. It should also make your cat more comfortable by stopping dry, chafed skin.

When grooming a cat, an important part is to keep the cat’s hair from becoming mangy and matted. Trimming long haired cats regularly with a good pair of grooming scissors and a comb is advised. Always move carefully to avoid puncturing or scratching sensitive skin on your cat.

To reduce shedding and make brushing less difficult and less abrasive, try making use of cat grooming gloves. Find a pair that can be washed in the machine. You can also use it to get cat hair out of your upholstery and carpet.

The difference between a well-groomed, healthy cat and one with tangled, matted hair can be the right cat grooming equipment. Your grooming tools ought to be used in such a way that they calm and please your pet.

About the Author:
When it comes to keeping your pet happy and healthy there is nothing more important than proper pets grooming. Whether you take your pet to a professional groomer, do the job yourself, or call up a mobile pet grooming service, you are demonstrating your love and affection for your pet.

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Tips for Poisoned Pets

It’s a pet owners nightmare: one minute your pet is frolicking happily and the next it is sick from ingesting a poisonous substance in your home. If it were your child, you might know to call a local Poison Control Center right away, but who can help your pet?

There are a number of options for panicking pet owners who need immediate advice.
Pet Poison Helpline is a service staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by veterinarians, board-certified veterinary toxicologists, board-certified internal medicine and emergency critical care specialists and doctors of pharmacy. By calling 800-213-6680, pet owners can talk to an expert for a $35 per incident fee, which includes follow-up phone consultation for the duration of the poison case.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers a similar service, which can be reached at 888-426-4435, for a $60 fee.

The ASPCA notes that it is important that people telephone ahead and bring their pet immediately to a local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic instead of calling a poison control hotline if the animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing.

The top 10 pet poisons of 2008, according to the ASPCA, were: people medications; insecticides; people food; rodenticides; veterinary medications; plants; chemical hazards like drain cleaners and pool chemicals; household cleaners; heavy metals which can be ingested or inhaled through lead paint and dust from household scraping and sanding; and fertilizers.

Letter: Respect Pet Owners'
Wishes at Dog Park
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

I have concern regarding treats being brought to the newest dog park in Rapids:

1. I believe people's wishes should be respected and you should not automatically assume a dog can be given a treat or numerous treats. Just because you may feed your dog whatever you wish at your home, does not mean other people do the same for their dog.

2. Some individuals have dogs that have many allergies and cannot be given ANY type of treat other than a specialized kind.

3. If you ask if another person's dog can have a treat and they say, "Yes he/she can have one," do not assume they can have 20 treats as long as the dog continues to bother you.

4. When a group of dogs begin playing in front of you, do not throw random treats in the air for the dogs to dive at. It could cause a fight, or a dog that is allergic to it could eat it without the owner being aware.

5. Some owners have their dog on a special diet or do not allow their dog to have treats/table food because they do not want them to beg or misbehave.

I believe these wishes should be respected because all dog owners have different opinions on what their dog can or cannot have. The dog park is for running and playing, not to be fed treats the entire time they are there.

Please leave your treats at home.

Kelli Oligney
Wisconsin Rapids

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Tips on How to Choose
the Best Vet for Your Dog
Submitted by Stan Cristian

When you have a pet, the vet is probably one of your best friends. This is why you need to get a vet to fit your needs, a person that is well trained and with good communication skills. If you are still looking for the perfect vet for your dog, this article will help you with some pointers on how to choose him.

You can start with a bit of worth of mouth and ask in the community about the best vets. People will start talking and they will refer you to some vets in no time. Ask the people who have pets about their vets and see what they tell you. They are the first persons to whom you should speak. Ask if they are happy with the current vet and if the vet has solved their dog problems in the past. If the breed of your dog is a special one, then you can start by asking the breed association about a vet that treats that special breed.

They can easily refer you to one. If you have taken the puppy from a local breeder, you can ask him too. Also, if you are looking for a holistic vet you can look on the website and see their database. If you are an open minded person you could also be interested in talking to a vet that does acupuncture too. You can contact one by referring to the International Veterinary Acupuncture XE "Acupuncture" Society. You can view their website XE "International Veterinary Acupuncture Society" at

After you get some vet names, these are the most important questions to ask him:

1. What services it offers?

The doctor is a part of a multi-doctor practice or it is a one-office doctor? There are many doctors that try to consolidate their practice and they team up with group practices or form partnerships. There is no problem with that except for the fact that sometimes you could be seeing another vet from the same practice. Also, try to see if the service he offers also has a 24 hour emergency option. If the dog suffers an accident, make sure you can call in the middle of the night if you need help.

2. Does the doctor also provide a full surgery suite and has an on-site lab work with X-rays and ultrasound capabilities?

If your vet has to take the lab tests and analyze it somewhere else this could take a lot of time plus you could get additional taxes on your tab.

3. Get a fee schedule.

Most of the times the most important aspect in choosing the vet is the cost but it shouldn’t always be like that. There is no need to pay a small amount of money to a doctor that will not solve your problem than pay a good fee to a good vet.

4. Check out the physical characteristics of the facility.

Before you make up your mind about selecting that doctor you also need to check his physical facilities. Make sure the place is clean and you can also see if there are magazines up to date in the waiting room. This may appear like a small issue but this means the doctors are paying attention to news and they also care about you.

5. Communication.

You also need to make sure you can establish a good communication with the vet. You need to make sure you can speak with him and that he cares about your problems. A good vet will always explain you the procedures and the tests and will give you advice.

About the Author:

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Introduce a New Dog
Slowly to Your Cats
By STEVE DALE, The Montreal Gazette

Goldfish can survive for a decade if their aquarium isn't overcrowded

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 Company, 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 who was rescued and is 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. As you begin to allow the dog off-leash, show your cat places to escape where the dog can't reach, such as a bookcase, window ledges or a cat tree.

"Knowing there's an escape route will help the cats feel safe," Shojai adds.

One way 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. Introduce the dog as quickly as your cats will allow; they'll make the call.

Q: I'm interested in learning about goldfish. Can you suggest any books? How about tips on their care? - M.N., Chicago, Ill.

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

Klusak says goldfish are messy eaters and eliminate frequently, creating dirty, even toxic water, over time. 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).

- - -

Steve Dale welcomes questions from readers. Personal replies cannot be provided, but he will answer questions of general interest in his column. Write to Steve Dale at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207. Email:

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