Pets: Saving Money, Teaching Your Children and Winter Survival Tips

Bathtime for Your Pet Tips
by Vernette Dahl -

Bath time for your pet dog can be an enjoyable or even a humorous experience. How often should you give him or her that long needed bath? This all depends on how dirty the dog gets. Even seasons like summer may require more frequent bathing because of either ticks or fleas which ever love to invade your pet. Sometimes by making an outline of your pets activities will help you make this decision.

* Out door pets will commonly require frequent bathing.
* House pet that is seldom out doors less frequent.

You could consult with your local veterinarian. When you take in your pet for his yearly or annual check up; make a list of your questions you want to ask him.
Know one is better qualified will know what is the best way in giving your pet a bath. He might even have is own dog shampoo product or products. That are more appropreiate for your size or kind of dog.

The vet usually will keep track of any products that you've acquired through his clinic but any allergies in ways of shampoos. They usually know what kind or type of shampoo is good for your individual type of pet. By having records kept on your purchases will keep track of the product name and other information for you.

Let him know if you are first time dog owner because he will either advise you or give you pamphlets on different issues you might have questions about.
Try keeping the same vet so it will make you and your dogs life easier.

If you do move away than it wouldn't hurt to get your dogs history records either printed up or put into your computer files. You also could ask him to send them to your new vet clinic for you. They might ask for a service fee. the new vet will be informed on your dogs case history or any other medical issues. This could save you added medical costs in the long run. This advise could be actual for most pet owners weather a dog or cat even a lizard.

Must give you credit for taking on the responsibility of a pet. But caring enough to provide for him with loving care. Further I don't claim to be an expert on dogs but have raised several dogs. Each of my them were a blessing for me to care for. They all gave me more by their unconditional love. My best friends they were to me and memories of them is still in my thoughts. Hope in some small way I've been of help for the sake of your pet. YOUR BEST FRIEND.

How to Safely
Wash Your Cat
by Angela Rednour -

If you have owned a cat for any length of time, you know that bathing is not a task regularly required by the owner. However, there are times when a cat may need help with their grooming. Reasons for this may include: An overweight cat that cannot reach all the areas of their body. When rolling in the dirt, once again, becomes a popular past time in the spring, or when a cat becomes older and seems to lose interest in keeping itself clean.

There are of course powders and foams you can purchase for cleaning cats, but they don't necessarily get out all the grease and loose hair and dirt your cat may have accumulated. The best way to make sure your cat is squeaky clean is to use the old fashion soap and water method.

The thought might be scary, but having worked in a grooming shop and bathed many a cat, I can say for sure that there is at least one safe way to bath your aqua phobic kitty, while keeping your arms and face free or at least mostly free, of scratches.

The best place to bathe a cat is in the bathtub, with the bathroom door closed. It's a small room and if the cat gets loose there aren't very many places to hide. You will need several items within arms reach before you begin.

1. Shampoo. (Animal shampoo is best, but human shampoo will work just as well).

2. A cup or bowl. (For scooping water)

3. At least three towels.

4. (optional) A second person. (To help if your cat is exceedingly feisty.)

The first thing you'll want to do is have the cat in the bathroom with you before you fill the tub.

(Getting your cat accustomed to being with you in the bathroom will help tremendously. The more you allow your cat in the bathroom, on non bath days, the more comfortable the animal will be when bath time does come around.)

The second thing is to fill the tub. Lukewarm water is best. Not to hot and not to cold. You will only need a couple inches of water in the tub, for wetting and rinsing.

The next step is the hardest and perhaps the scariest. Placing the cat in the tub. The best way to do this is to hold the cat by the scruff of the neck, while at the same time holding him tightly against your body and slowly lowering your cat into the water. Don't dangle the cat by holding it by the scruff of the neck. A mother cat may do this to its kittens but this action can actually hurt an adult cat. Holding your cat tightly next to you may not seem like the natural (or smart) thing to do when mixing cats and water, but it's the best way to keep the cat calm.

Expect to get wet very wet. Expect some resistance once that first strand of hair hits the water. If you are still holding the cat by the neck, there should not be too great a struggle. You should continue holding your cat by the neck the entire time she's in the tub. This of course means you will be shampooing and rinsing with one hand. If this seems impossible, that second person I mentioned earlier may be able to help with this. If there is no second person to help, there is another option.

Using your cat's collar and an inexpensive cat leash to tie the cat to the tub can be helpful. This will allow your cat more room to move around (and to scratch), but if you keep a firm grip on your cat at all times, this risk should be greatly reduced. Also be careful not to choke your cat.

You will want to wet the cat next. I do not advise getting water anywhere on the head of your cat. You want to avoid getting water in your cats ears at all cost; also, if a cat's head gets wet, they are more likely to freak out. If you believe your cat's head needs a good washing, I would suggest waiting till after the bath. You can then take a damp wash cloth with a little bit of soap on it and rub it over the cats face.

Once the cat is completely soaked, add just a tiny amount of shampoo. A cat may have a lot of fur, but a little shampoo can go along way. Plus the less you use, the less you have to rinse! You will want to be sure and get the belly, legs and tail of your cat, and don't forget about that behind!

When you are ready to rinse your cat, be sure to rinse thoroughly or you may find yourself taking the cat back to the tub sooner than either you or the cat would wish. Once the rinsing is complete, let the water out of the tub. You should still be holding on to your cat's neck at this point. Once the water is gone out of the tub, take towel number one and blot your cat with it. Don't rub the fur dry as this can cause matting. You can use both hands for this as long as you keep a firm grasp on your cat. Towel number two should be wrapped tightly around your kitty. You can then lift the cat out of the tub the ordeal is over.

Hold your cat tightly and speak soothingly to it. This will help keep your cat calm, rubbing the nose will also have a calming affect. Towel number one will no doubt become soaked quite quickly. You can let your cat wander around the bathroom while you remove towel number one and replace it with towel number two. This towel will also become wet pretty quickly. If you don't mind drips of water all over your house, or wet furniture, however, no further drying is needed, your cat can be set at liberty. If you prefer only damp furniture, I would recommend using the third towel, wrapping the cat in it tightly and blotting out excess water. I do not recommend using a blow dryer on your cat; this could be potentially fatal to your health. If however you want your cat to dry more quickly, you can place the cat in a cage with a quiet fan blowing on it. You will need to turn the cat every now and then to get all sides dry.

You can expect your cat to throw hateful glances your way for the next few days, but rest assured that eventually your cat will learn to love you again. In the meantime you can rest contentedly with the fact that you have once again survived bath time with your water phobic fur ball.

Your Pet Questions
Contributing Editor Steve Dale - USA Today

In response to complaints about barking, our condominium board just instituted a rule prohibiting dogs that weigh more than 30 pounds. We were just about to adopt a 32-pound whippet mix. Now, the shelter won't allow us to because it checked with the board. This is ridiculous: The dog is only 2 pounds over the weight limit, and whippets are a quiet breed.


I agree with you: Either allow dogs or don't. It seems to me that weight limits are made up without basis; after all, small dogs can be loud. Your building allows dogs under 30 pounds, but others may set the limit at 20 pounds or 15 pounds.

There are rules so people can be responsible neighbors, and you don't have to listen to a stereo blaring at 4 a.m. or incessant barking. Of course, a stereo can be turned off. The barking might be from a dog with separation anxiety that's actually calling out for help. Compassionate neighbors, I hope, would allow the owner to seek help before taking action. Meanwhile, considerate dog owners should follow these rules: Leash your pet in common areas, muzzle it if the animal is aggressive, and pick up after it.

If you (and other owners) can't sway the condo board, or bring in an expert to do that, then run for board president yourself. In the meantime, either wait until the rule is changed, move, or adopt a pup well under 30 pounds.


Charlie, my boyfriend of nine months, despises cats. I don't really know why -- he doesn't give me a straight answer. He says he won't visit anymore as long as I have Bella. I really do like Charlie, but Bella has been my friend for 11 years; I've had her since she was a kitten. Do you think his request is fair?

I guarantee that Bella will be devoted to you for the rest of her life. I'm not sure the same is true about Charlie. If it were true, would he be asking you to relinquish your friend? Keep the cat. Sorry, Charlie.


We have two cats that drink from the fish bowl rather than lap up their own fresh water. We're wondering if this is why the fish are dying. We recently replaced the fish, and the cats immediately went back to drinking fish water, and the new fish died within a week. Are the cats giving the fish heart attacks? What can we do?

Aquarists tell me the fish aren't likely suffering from heart failure. But cats have bacteria in their mouths that could affect the fish, or it may just be a coincidence that the fish are dying.

Regardless, offer the cats a more appealing water source. Many cats are fascinated by running water. There are bowls with running water, specifically made for cats, available at pet stores and online. Also, moving fish may be the attraction, so buy a pair of floating fish toys -- the kind little kids might put in a bathtub -- and place them in a spacious water bowl for your cats.

Meanwhile, relocate your freaked-out fish to a spot your cats can't access. You also can use double-stick tape or Sticky Paws around the perimeter of the bowl (cats don't like their paws sticking to surfaces). If you have an aquarium, put a top over it -- and secure it.

Steve Dale is heard weekly on WGN Radio and writes a syndicated column, "My Pet World."

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Winter Survival Tips
for the Green Dog!

Winter is upon us! The first snow has fallen here in Indiana. It is time to be ready!!!

There are a lot of dangers in the winter months for us dogs. Today, we thought it would be a good idea to share some winter survival tips for the green dog, or aspiring green dog. So, here are our top 15 tips. Feel free to spread the word!

#1 Us green dogs, we're cherished members of our families, and spend time indoors with our peeps. Many folks, unfortunately, don't feel the same way and leave their dog's outside even in the harshest of conditions.

Spread the word with those you can about the dangers to dogs when keeping them outside. If you see a dog chained outside, this great site - Unchain Your Dog - has some wonderful tips on what you can do to help, and flyers you can share. And you can print it out to help spread the word. We want every dog to be as safe and comfortable as possible.

#2 The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can not only irritate the pads of your pup's feet, but if they are ingested (like when we lick our paws after coming inside) they can be very toxic. Keep your pet away from the streets and sidewalks that have had salt put down. And if they have to venture out into these areas, be sure and wipe down your dog's paws the minute they come in from outside with a damp cloth. An even better idea would be to use an Earth friendly and safe paw wipe, like this one.

#3 What do you do about those slick sidewalks and keep your pups safe and healthy? Try putting down some hallway non-skid mats! We have a couple of them that we use in the garage, so we just take them outside, put them down on the sidewalk or patio and we're safe as can be!

If you don't have any mats and have ice or slick areas around your home and want to keep us pups safe, and 2-leggers as well, there is a great product on the market - Safe Paw - that melts ice and is safe for us pups and humans. Much better than those chemical ice melters.

#4 When it gets below freezing, it's just not safe for us dogs to be out in the cold for any length of time. Even a half hour in frigid temperatures can cause problems. Be sure to keep a sharp eye on your dog’s body temperature and never leave him in the yard for more than 10 minutes when temperatures dip below freezing.

If your dog needs to do his/her 'biz,' and it's that cold outside, don't hesitate to put a nice warm dog coat, like the West Paw CloudBurst Dog Jacket (and even boots, if necessary) on your pup. They need it. Even a sporting dog like me, will wear both if it makes me more comfy outside. Yes, I'll even wear boots! Try these Pawz Biodegradable Natural Dog Boots, or make your own from reused items in your home!

And be sure and make that trip out to 'potty' quickly, K?

#5 Trim the excess fur from footpads and toes of us longer haired dogs. It sure makes it more comfy on our toes in the snow. That fur is a catalyst for building up those painful and nasty ice balls between our toes. And why not add a little Salmon oil on their paws to keep the ice balls from forming, and they can lick it off safely when they come in?

#6 Be super careful with your dogs around rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes. Us dogs are drawn to those areas like magnets and during the winter months they can be deceivingly dangerous. They may look frozen, but many times they aren't (a very tempting danger), and the water can be super cold, creating hypothermia, just like in humans.

#7 Us dogs love to go for car rides. But don't leave us in there without you, K? Cars act as refrigerators in cold weather and we can again suffer from hypothermia. And a running car can accumulate dangerous carbon monoxide levels inside when idling.

#8 Dogs can get frostbite, did you know that? A dog’s ears, feet and tail are highly susceptible to frostbite. So be aware and limit our time outdoors. And keep this link handy, courtesy of the Absaroka Search Dogs. It has great info on recognizing hypothermia and frostbite in dogs, and what to do if you suspect a danger.

#9 My sis Gracie loves to eat snow. A little isn't too bad for us dogs and Gracie thinks its fun, so Mum let's her eat a little. But snow is not a substitute for water. Even in the harshest part of winter, make sure your pup has fresh drinking water available at all time. And remember, filtered is best.

#10 During the cold winter months, we are probably all utilizing an additional heating source, like a fireplace. These heating sources can be dangerous to dogs. Be sure and keep a good eye out and keep us away from any new dangers in the house during the winter. Use a barrier, like an x-pen if need be.

#11 Watch out for that anti freeze! It can leak onto driveways and roads and it smells and tastes really good to us dogs. But it is highly poisonous and can be lethal to your canine companion if ingested. Keep this phone number and link (from the ASPCA), as well as your vet and emergency vet number handy, just in case of an emergency.

#12 Don't let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Did you know that dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost during these times? More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wear ID tags, and keep 'em safe, K?

#13 Puppies are much more sensitive to the elements than us adult dogs. So take the necessary precautions. You may want to use paper training during the dead of winter if you are potty training. And if your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself and make the trips quickly.

#14 Running around in the snow is one of my absolute favorite things to do. But Mum only let's me when it's safely warm enough. And we don't do it for long. If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in safe outdoor activities during the winter months and is used to it, increase their supply of food, particularly protein, to keep 'em in tip-top shape.

#15 And when it warms up a bit, get out there and have fun with your dog! 'Cause us dogs know how to have fun.

Stay safe!

Why Do Cats Need Thiamine?
Amelia Glynn - SF Gate

In late September of this year, Diamond Pet Foods voluntarily recalled two of its feline formulas, Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat and Premium Edge Hairball, because they did not contain enough thiamine. Cats fed these foods without another source of nutrition were at risk of developing a thiamine deficiency that could make them sick and, if left untreated, could even result in death.

Why is thiamine is essential for cats? Thiamine, sometimes called aneurin, is a water-soluble B complex vitamin that helps support and maintain healthy functioning of nerves, muscle cells and the brain in both humans and animals. Without thiamine, the body cannot convert carbohydrates into energy. Thiamine also enables the body to quickly convert fats into energy. It was one of the latest vitamins to be discovered, and wasn't properly identified and classified until 1935.

Thiamine deficiency is rare in cats and is most typically seen when felines are fed diets containing large amounts of raw fish; raw fish contains the enzyme thiaminase that destroys thiamine. Other reasons for thiamine deficiency can include:

•Feeding cats pet foods that contain high levels of sulfur dioxide (a preservative), which inactivates thiamine.

•Cooking cat food in water (because thiamine is water-soluble) or with high heat. Pet food manufacturers must carefully monitor their products to ensure they contain adequate levels of thiamine to compensate for the loss during the cooking process.

•Choosing cheap or generic brands of cat food that may not monitor thiamine levels as carefully as they should.

Because thiamine cannot be stored in the body, levels can be quickly depleted if a cat is fed an inadequate diet or goes without food for any length of time. Thiamine must be consumed on a daily basis to maintain optimal health.

Initial symptoms of thiamine deficiency can include decreased appetite, salivation, vomiting, weight loss and increased aggression. Later, neurological problems can often develop, such as seizures, ventroflexion of the neck (in which the cat loses its ability to raise its head) and an overall lack of coordination, sometimes indicated by wobbly walking, circling and falling.

Thiamine deficiency can be effectively treated by switching to a nutritionally balanced diet, cutting down on or eliminating raw fish from a cat's diet and administering thiamine injections.

Diamond Pet Foods confirmed a total of 21 reports of thiamine deficiency in New York and Pennsylvania. The pet food was distributed in 18 states including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. No incidents have been reported since October 19.
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Advice On Potty
Training Your Puppy
by nfisher1983 -

There are plenty of articles and books available to pet owners that discuss successful programs for house training your young puppy . What I have to offer you are some pretty basic guidelines for a smooth and quick transition to a happy, healthy, and confident young dog.

First and foremost, crate train your puppy! Your dog knows not to pee where he sleeps, so if you find yourself needing to leave him alone for a couple of hours, place him in a crate. He will learn to hold it on instinct, and when you get home he will need to go right away. Not only will he learn how to hold his bladder, but he will also associate your return home as the time to go. Very quickly, you will find that he is learning.

Also, while he is going pee, repeat the phrase "Go potty" three times. Do this each time he goes to the bathroom for two weeks. Eventually, when you ask your puppy if he has to go potty, he will know what you are talking about and will give you a sign. Our dog jumps about 2 feet in the air and does a 360 degree turn as his signal. Good luck and be patient. Potty training requires consistency and you ABSOLUTELY cannot in any way associate punishment with going to the bathroom. So when he has an accident, no yelling and no punishment. None. If you do, you will only be setting your successful potty training back. Dogs are all about love and confidence; build up both and you will have a happy and healthy family member!

Keep Pet Costs
on a Tight Leash
By Stacy Rapacon,

Four-footed family members don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Over the past seven years, Anna Meyer has gone through many life changes. She earned her doctorate in immunology at the Medical College of Georgia, moved to Maryland, got married, had a baby and moved to Charleston, S.C. Through it all, her dogs, Boss and Spud, have been at her side (and at her feet). “They’re my family,” says Meyer. They also chew up a big slice of the family budget -- a whopping $1,350 per dog per year. But, she says, “they’re worth it.”

She’s in good company. Pet owners spent $43.2 billion on their animals in 2008, according to the American Pet Products Association. This year, despite the recession, they are expected to spend 5% more. But your furry (or scaly, slimy or feathery) loved one’s health and happiness doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

An Ounce of Prevention

Veterinary bills are one of the biggest budget busters, and they’re rising much faster than the average overall cost of owning a pet. In 2009, spending on vet visits is expected to increase by 10%, to $12.2 billion.

But don’t be tempted to pinch pennies by cutting back on preventive care, advises Dr. Louise Murray, author of Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health (Ballantine Books, $25). Says Murray, who is director of medicine at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, “Contracting an illness could be far more costly.” For example, immunizing your dog against the parvovirus costs $15. Skip the shot and you could wind up paying up to $5,000 for treatment in a veterinary-hospital intensive-care unit.

Buy a wellness plan? To save money on routine vet visits, vaccinations and preventive medications, consider purchasing a wellness package, which many veterinary practices provide at a discounted rate. Talk to vets in your area to see what kinds of deals they offer, or look into a plan that’s offered nationwide. For example, with the Pet Assure program, an annual fee of $59 per year for a cat or $99 for a dog entitles you to 25% off visits to veterinarians in the company’s network, plus 5% to 50% off pet supplies and services from participating retailers.

Meyer always asks vets about possible discounts. Her current vet, for example, gives her 20% off her second dog’s first annual visit. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking,” she says. “A lot of vets will give you a deal, especially when you have multiple pets.” Enroll Fido in obedience school. A trained pet is less likely to roam and rack up medical bills by becoming the victim of accidents. Plus, says Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice-president of the ASPCA, “a well-trained pet is going to help you save on other costs,” such as replacing damaged furniture or cleaning stained carpets.

In addition, routine grooming can stave off infections and other costly problems. For example, Zawistowski’s 11-year-old beagle, Morgan, has seasonal allergies and is prone to ear infections -- an ailment common to the breed. After consulting with his vet, Zawistowski began a regular regimen of washing Morgan’s ears to keep infections at bay. He also routinely shampoos Morgan’s feet to get rid of itchy pollen that makes the dog chew at his paws, which could cause significant skin problems.

Order medications online. Meyer estimates that she saves about $180 a year on flea and heartworm meds by ordering supplies in six- and 12-month batches from 1-800-PetMeds (800-738-6337; For additional savings, she signed up for the company’s e-mails, which alert her to special sales and coupon codes.

Maintain a healthy diet.

“We have a massive obesity problem among pets in this country,” says Zawistowski. And just as with humans, obesity can lead to costly health issues. Treating diabetes, for example, can cost $50 a month for standard supplies, including insulin and syringes. More-serious diabetic cases could lead to a trip to the ICU, which costs up to $3,000. In fact, maintaining a proper diet for your pet may not only prevent diabetes, it might also cure the illness in cats when combined with insulin treatments. Unfortunately, says Murray, “diabetic dogs are diabetic forever.”

In addition to diabetes, cats are especially susceptible to diet-related ailments. They are “pure carnivores who don’t drink much water,” says Murray. So feeding your cat dry food, which is typically carbohydrate-heavy, can lead to a range of diseases, including urinary-tract problems and kidney failure. Dry food might seem economical, says Murray, “but it’s not when your cat develops an illness.” As long as pet food meets guidelines set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, it will provide proper nutrition. Says Murray, “Just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better.” Meyer, for example, sticks with Costco-brand food for her dogs, which go through two 40-pound bags each month. Trading down from brand-name kibble saves about $240 a year.

Pet-insurance option.

Even if you provide all the proper preventive care, you still can’t protect your pet from everything. “Almost every animal at some point in its life is going to have at least one serious medical issue,” says Murray. “The most important thing is for pet owners to have a backup plan.”

If you don’t want to pay out of pocket, you have two choices: Set up a special savings account or buy pet insurance. Murray recommends maintaining a fund of $1,000 to $2,000 for a typical animal emergency, such as a stomach problem. But if you want extra protection in case you face a more serious situation, such as a car accident, you should bump your budget up to $3,000 or $4,000. Either way, an emergency-savings fund has one big advantage: If your pet never needs it, the money’s still yours.

Most people prefer to skip pet insurance. The ASPCA estimates that just 5% to 10% of pets in this country are covered by health insurance. Murray says insurance makes the most sense for “very vigilant owners who want to give their pets top-level care.” As a result, she says, “owners get a lot back from their coverage because they use it often.”

Pet insurance may start to look more attractive as sophisticated treatments become more expensive. Over the past few decades, the veterinary field has advanced rapidly, with high-priced procedures that range from $600 biopsies to $3,000 orthopedic surgeries to $7,000 kidney transplants.

Meyer insures both of her “boys.” When her 92-pound boxer, Boss, was a wee pup, he suffered fainting spells. Meyer worried that the symptom was a sign of bigger problems to come, especially because heÕs a purebred and therefore more prone to hereditary disorders. So she signed him up for insurance and did the same a year later when she got Spud, a 66-pound Dalmatian-Labrador retriever mix.

On average, reports the ASPCA, a basic pet-insurance plan costs $19 a month for a dog and $15 a month for a cat. At, you can compare the policies offered by major insurance companies and read reviews from animal owners. Users currently rate PetPlan’s Bronze policy best in show. Monthly rates start at about $8, and the policy covers all accidents, injuries and illnesses, including those caused by hereditary conditions (there’s a $200 deductible, and claims are reimbursed at 80%).

What’s not covered

Unlike the PetPlan policy, many policies do not cover congenital problems to which your pet’s breed may be susceptible. Boss’s coverage, for example, excludes cardiac arrhythmia, to which a purebred boxer is predisposed. In fact, Meyer’s insurer excludes narcolepsy for beagles and exercise-induced collapse for Labrador retrievers because the conditions are common to these popular breeds. Such exceptions make buying tricky, says Murray. “The condition that you’re going to need insurance for is often the one you’re excluded from.”

But that doesn’t make all pet policies a bad deal for purebred dogs. (Purebred cats are rare in this country and don’t often have problems with insurance exclusions. Mutts, such as Spud, don’t face coverage exclusions, either.) You just need to sniff out a plan that doesn’t exclude genetic conditions. Preexisting conditions are also an issue. Any visits or treatments directly related to Boss’s fainting are excluded because it preceded his coverage. Purchasing pet insurance from the get-go might help you dodge the problem. Plus, says Zawistowski, “like anything else, you’re going to get the best price when your pet is young and healthy.”

But there are no guarantees. An ailment that your pet is treated for this year may be labeled a preexisting condition when you go to renew the plan next year. “You don’t want a policy like that,” says Murray. “Animals, like humans, get the same illnesses over and over again.” A couple of years ago, Boss was plagued by prostatitis, a disease of the prostate gland, and his treatment cost more than $1,400. But Meyer was reimbursed by her insurer for 90% of eligible expenses, minus a $50 deductible -- a total of more than $600. “Even though I’m paying every month, it’s easier to spread out the money rather than face a big lump sum,” she says. “It gives me peace of mind knowing that I’ll be getting some of that cost back.”

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Animal Friends:
Teach Children How
to Approach Pets
By Linda Goldston -

Jean Laws of Portola Valley was letting her dogs Cleo and Louis enjoy a drink of water after a romp at a local park when a young girl jumped from behind Louis, a Boston terrier, to pat him.

"Nothing happened but Louis' being startled," Jean said.

About 15 minutes later, Jean was talking to one of the dog owners at the park when another little girl ran up to Cleo, a rescued Staffordshire bull terrier, "with her hand extended, ostensibly so Cleo could sniff it."

But the woman talking to Jean told the girl to stop and said "always ask first."

How true.

So many kids are bitten because their parents have not talked to them about how to approach a dog. This goes for adults as well, of course.

Luckily Jean's dogs "are pretty easygoing with kids, but I still always make the dogs sit and teach the child to proffer the back of a closed hand," Jean said. "The lack of etiquette on how to greet a strange dog is quite apparent."

Since many families don't have dogs and don't think to teach their kids about them, Jean recommends that those of us who know dogs take the time to teach when children approach our dogs.

"It could prevent a child from having a negative, if not dangerous encounter with a normally well-socialized dog, who felt threatened," Jean said.

I've seen that happen so many times and was delighted when Jean brought up the subject. I asked Cerena Zutis, the owner of CZ Dog Training who also works with special-needs animals for Humane Society Silicon Valley, for tips. You can read about her training philosophy at her Web site,

"For children meeting dogs, it's the basics," she said.

Always ask permission of the dog owner — "Is it OK if I pet your dog?" Offer the back of your hand. Allow the dog to smell it.

After you ask if it's OK, allow the dog to approach you, instead of reaching out, Cerena said.

"Don't pet them on the head. Pet the side of their face or under the face."

She also suggests practicing with friendly dogs. And if the dog owner seems unsure if it's OK for you to pet their dog, "inquire further or walk away," Cerena said. "A lot of people are rescuing dogs now, so they don't really know how the dog will always react."

With the holidays upon us, it's also a good time to think about dog and child safety — consider company arriving with their children who might not know your dog, for example.

Some dogs crave attention from anyone, but in general, she said, "dogs need a quiet place if company comes over. Kids should be taught that if they see a dog in a crate they should leave it alone. A lot of dogs are good with kids but don't like the screaming kids tend to do. It's too much for them."

My dog, Lucy, would have kissed a flea if she thought it would pay attention to her, but some dogs are shy and haven't been around people enough, aren't socialized enough, to feel comfortable when strange children or adults rush up to them. If a dog shies away when you approach, it's a good idea to back off.

"There's a polite way to greet people and a polite way to greet dogs," Cerena said.

We also need to look out for children when it's our dogs who are exuberant. How many times have you seen a dog accidentally knock a child down and the kid bursts into tears? That doesn't need to happen, so please pay attention and be sensitive when around children your dog doesn't know.

Norwegian Elkhound Dog
Breed Profile

The Norwegian Elkhound can be traced as far back as the stone ages. Through the study of the fossils from that time it can be determined that there existed the same basic dog that we know of today as the Elkhound.

This breed has such purity of ancestry that it can be considered to be one of the most ancient of all the dogs. The Norwegian word for the dog”, elghund” actually means “moosedog” however, Elkhound is the translation which stuck. Hound is probably not an appropriate term for the dog does not have any hound in its genetic makeup. However despite this the dog was brought into the American Kennel club in the Hound group. Devotees of the breed find that having the dog in this class or group can be a disadvantage since it bears very little resemblance to the dogs typically entered as “hounds”.

There are three varieties of the Norwegian Elkhound, all three are close cousins and have remained unchanged through the centuries. The Gray Elkhound is the one most familiar, then there is the Black (which is a slightly smaller variety) and the Swedish or the Jamthound.

Today the Elkhound still is used in the Northern countries to track and follow wild game, including moose, elk, deer, lynx and wolf. Many of the pet owners of this breed have no idea that indeed it is a hunting dog with unique versatility for it will bay on the track, or creep in silence behind the animal, or attack with dodging and feinting to bring the animal down.

Those who do hunt with this dog will insist that he can pick up the scent of the elk or moose as far away as three miles. He also is used on smaller game because moose and elk are not as plentiful as they once were and of course now there are established hunting seasons for these animals. The Norwegian Elkhound is generally a versatile farm dog, going after all kinds of marauding predators and also making himself useful as a herding dog for the livestock. The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium sized dog with a densely furred coat. The color is solid gray in varying shades, with black tips on the ends of the hairs.

Usually there is a typical whiter band of hair across the shoulders and around the eyes in a spectacle appearance. Also the breeches of the hind legs and the underside of the tightly curled tail are in lighter shades. Actually, the markings of the breed are similar to those of the Keeshond. However the Keeshond has a coat which is much longer. The Norwegian Elkhounds of today are popular as a family pet in most parts of the world and of course are shown in the dog shows.

One of the most well known judges and breeders, Patricia Hastings, made the Norwegian Elkhound famous in the show rings of the United States and also at Crufts. She bred and raised this breed for many years and took several of her dogs to the coveted wins of Best of Breed and even Best in show at Westminster, later going on to become a judge of great skill.

Her positive influence on the breed has no doubt increased the numbers of these dogs that are now found as family pets. However the dog is not a dog which is for everyone. It is a dog that must have a purpose and simply lying about the house is not part of its nature. Any dog that has solid working or hunting instincts can quickly become bored and quite destructive if the working nature of the breed is not channeled and encouraged.

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