Road Tripping PLUS Dealing With Pet Odors

More People List Dogs
and Cats on Christmas Lists

LOS ANGELES — Dogs across the country can expect some bone-shaped presents under the Christmas tree this year.

An Associated poll shows 52 percent of pet owners plan to buy their animals a holiday gift — up from 43 percent last year.

Gus and Molly, a pair of German shepherds, Rosie the bulldog and Zoe the cat will get treats and playtoys, "the good sturdy stuff," said owner Norm Authier, 50, of Long Beach.

"We have always done this. We don't have any kids so we spoil our dogs," Authier said.

The bounce in pet gifts is expected despite the fact that fully 93 percent of Americans say they'll spend less overall or about the same as last year, according to a separate Associated Press-GfK poll.

The poll found that six in 10 of those who own only dogs planned on shopping for their pet for the holidays. Forty percent of those with only cats planned to pet shop.

Sawyer, a 9-year-old Labrador-border collie mix, will get something special because he was born on Christmas Day, said owner Pat Brown, 74, of Beloit, Wis. He can also look forward to his two favorite homemade snacks — popcorn and ice cubes.

Plush holiday-themed toys are very popular with pet owners, as are candy cane-shaped rawhide chews, said Jessica Douglas, a spokeswoman for the PetSmart pet supply store chain based in Phoenix, Ariz.

Popular clothes at this time of year include a Santa suit, a Mrs. Claus dress and reindeer costumes. A lot of boots are sold to dog owners in cold weather states. Bling-wise, collars and leads are popular.

"Some ID tags are decorated with sparkly embellishments and they can be personalized so it's not just for looks," she said.

According to the poll, 62 percent of female owners said they would probably buy their pet a gift, while just 40 percent of the men said they would.

Janet Rowlands, 53, in Tulsa, Okla., is planning a Christmas celebration for 29 people and pets, including her four dogs. Jack Russell and rat terrier Boodroe, 7, is the only one who steals gifts from under the tree.

"He sees it as part of the fun," Rowlands said.

According to the poll, 59 percent of owners say pets are only a minor consideration when picking out holiday decorations, even though 14 percent reported that their pets have gotten into the decorations before.

There are no cranberries, popcorn or gingerbread men on the tree at Erica Peterson's home in Vass, N.C., because of Logan and the starfish, an ornament she and her husband got on their honeymoon.

On his first Christmas with the family, Logan, a male Labrador-chow, knocked the tree over and everything went flying so he could get to the starfish — apparently because it smelled fishy to him. All edible or scented ornaments were banned.

This year Logan will get a big butcher's bone, while Peterson's female Maltese named Bubbles, 13, will get rawhide sticks made like candy canes. Both will be wrapped and put under the tree.

Last year, Debra Jensen's Labrador named Nightmare and a German shepherd-Siberian Husky named Ticia got stockings with dog treats in them. This year, because her husband recently lost his job, there may not be a stocking, but there will still be treats — they can count on leftover ham.

"The dogs are our only children. I love my babies," said Jensen, 55, of Tulsa, Okla.

Pat McCauley figures his 4-year-old Shih Tzu named Crystal can survive the holidays without a present.

"I'm not going to buy the pet anything," said McCauley, 54, of Princeton, Ill., "I have a daughter who is 17 and she will buy the pets something but I surely wouldn't in any way, shape or form buy my pet a Christmas toy."

McCauley may sound like a Grinch, but he concedes buying pet gifts is not the most ridiculous idea he's heard.

"If I just had a pet by myself and my daughter wasn't around, I'd buy it one or two things a year, like a ball or a tug," he said.

The poll was conducted Oct. 1-5, 2009, by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. It involved telephone interviews on landline and cell phones with 1,166 pet owners nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for all pet owners.

Pet Therapy:
Save Painkiller,
Reach for This Aid
By Justin Sullivan - USA Today

Is it time to hold off on taking painkillers? Another study is showing how much pets aid people.

Adults who use pet therapy while recovering from total joint-replacement surgery require 50 percent less pain medication than those who do not, according to ScienceDaily. These findings were presented last week at the 18th Annual Conference of the International Society of Anthrozoology and the First Human Animal Interaction Conference (HAI) in Kansas City, Mo.

Dogs are helping vets cope with post traumatic stress syndrome, helping autistic children in schools, and diabetic children. Dogs are also being used to sniff out peanuts for children with allergies. Trained therapy dogs and cats have been used by members of the Delta Society to comfort people in hospitals and rehab centers for more than 30 years.

"Evidence suggests that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can have a positive effect on a patient's psychosocial, emotional and physical well being," said Julia Havey, RN, study presenter and senior systems analyst, Department of Medical Center Information Systems, Loyola University Health System (LUHS). "These data further support these benefits and build the case for expanding the use of pet therapy in recovery."

Harvey raises dogs for Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit group that provides dogs free of charge to people with physical and developmental disabilities.

READERS, I am preaching to the converted, but really the message is get thee a pet! Right?

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Give Your Pet The Very Best:
Choosing The Right Food

(NAPSI)-Pets hold a special place in American hearts; more than 71 million homes have pets. And pet owners want the best for their beloved dogs and cats. A Harris survey commissioned by the Wellness® brand of natural pet food found some telling information about pet owners:

• 56 percent of dog and/or cat owners worry that their pets' food contains ingredients they wouldn't want them consuming.

• Just 38 percent say they understand all the ingredients listed on their pet food labels.

Pets are what they eat--just as it is with humans. People make healthy choices because of the long-term benefit, and the same should hold true with the food choices made for dogs and cats. Pets can't pick their food, which means owners are responsible for giving them the right recipes so that they can be healthy. So why are so many pet owners feeding their furry family members the equivalent of junk food every day?

"Pet owners ask their veterinarian what they can do to raise a healthy pet," said board-certified veterinary nutritionist Edward Moser, MS, VMD, DACVN. "The most important thing they can do is to feed their animals a superior, natural diet based on simple, authentic ingredients."

Premium foods, such as Wellness Super5Mix® formulas for dogs and Wellness Complete Health for cats, include high-quality ingredients that deliver an ideal balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. All the Wellness food and snack recipes are made without any fillers or potential allergens such as wheat (including wheat gluten) or soy, and include no added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

The kinds of pet foods that do use artificial flavors, colors and preservatives often have lower nutritional value and may be high in "empty calorie" fillers such as grains that are not typically digestible by pets. Dogs and cats fed low-quality food will often eat more to feel satisfied, which can quickly eat up a family's pet-food budget.

The pet nutrition experts at Wellness recommend studying the ingredient label on your pet's food. Here are some things to look (and look out) for:

• Meat should be the first ingredient, not meat or poultry by-products.

• Avoid commonly identified allergens (e.g., wheat, wheat gluten, soy).

• No added artificial flavors, colors or preservatives should be found in the food.

• Look for ingredients you recognize, such as chicken, fish and wholesome fruits and vegetables.

"When a dog or cat eats a simple and healthy diet, you'll notice," said Dr. Moser. "Those wholesome ingredients carry benefits that range from a shiny coat and increased energy to fewer adverse reactions to the food, such as allergies, and ultimately to a longer life."

Premium, natural foods can make a considerable difference in your pet's health and long-term well-being. Read labels carefully and choose what's best for your furry family member to help them achieve true wellness.

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Tips for Road Tripping with Pets
By Arianne Cohen -

It's safest for passengers and pets if they ride in carriers or crates, depending on what's most comfortable.

Traveling with pets is tricky so try these tips to avoid trouble: Practice riding in car. Secure pets in a harness or crate while driving; put cell number on collar.

Feed pets lightly before traveling to prevent car sickness( ) -- The plan is for Kitty and Fido to go? Here's what you need to know.

"Take the pet for a few short rides before your trip so it gets accustomed," says Greg Hammer, a veterinarian and the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "You can't take your pet on a four-hour trip if he's never been in the car before."

Make sure your cell-phone number is on the pet's collar, in case he gets lost.

Put it on his tags or write it on the collar in permanent marker. And have your vet inject your pet with a tiny microchip implant (it's about the size of a grain of rice).

If he loses his collar, rescue organizations will scan the back of his neck, see his personal identification number, and contact you.

It's safest for passengers and your pets if cats ride in a carrier and dogs in a car harness or a crate, depending on what makes them most comfortable. "Pets that are out of their comfort zones can have behavior problems in the car, which can be dangerous while driving," says Hammer.

Try not to let your dog ride with his head out of the window.

Beyond the danger of getting hit, "particles of dirt or debris can enter the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infection," says Hammer.

Make regular stops -- every two hours for a puppy, every three to four hours for a cat or an adult dog -- so your pet can take a walk on a leash (some cats enjoy a little leash walk).

Feed your pet only lightly before getting in the car -- pets can become carsick. Once you've stopped driving for the day, feed normally.

Plan your pet's typical feeding and walking schedule into your travel time. If your pet eats at midday, stop and give him a quick walk and a small meal.

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Sewing Tips on
Creating Dogs Clothing

Dog's clothes are becoming more popular with owners today. To help keep your dog fashionable, you can sew them a complete wardrobe at home.

Consider Your Pet
Not all dogs like to have clothing on them. If you know that your dog is already averse to clothing changes, you might have troubles dressing them up in your creations. Have your dog wear a store-bought piece of clothing for a short period of time to see whether they enjoy the feeling. Better to find out beforehand, than after some hard work at the sewing machine.

Find Patterns for Your Dog
You can find patterns for dog clothing online and in dog enthusiast magazines. Take some time to do research and don’t discount clothing for babies and small children as well. Look for outfits which can accommodate dog legs and paws—i.e. skirts and shirts work well for dogs and other pets.

Measure Your Pet
To see how big a pattern you need to make, you must measure your dog.

■You should measure the dog from the shoulder to the perceived waist, then from the perceived waist to the behind.

■Measure the dog from the top of their legs to the joints.

■If you want to make hats or hoods, measure the crown of the head as well as the distance from the neck to the top of the head, both from the back of the neck and the throat.

Find Other Dog Clothing to Emulate
When you see an outfit for your dog in the store, consider buying it. You can rip it up and use it as a pattern for new outfits for your dog. By using this outfit as a template, you can create different styles without having to look for outfit patterns or clothing which works for a dog. Or use outfits you’ve bought in the past. Add trim or other details to make them new and exciting.

Choose and Use Heavy Duty Fabrics
If your dog likes to run around and play, you need to choose fabrics which can keep up with him or her. Look for heavier duty fabrics which might also be weather resistant. This way, your dog can play and you can stop worrying their outfit is going to fall apart. In addition, heavier fabrics will hold their shape. Cotton and other lightweight materials are good for summer outfits, but they can become shapeless as soon as a dog moves in them.

Create Dog Accessories to Complete the Outfit
Hats, scarves and hoods are simple ways to add flash to your dog outfits. Find some child-sized accessories and adjust them to the size of your dog. Tailoring children’s clothing by adding pleats or gathers can help expedite your dog’s wardrobe and enhance your sewing skills. A simple piece of elastic, for example, can become a lovely neck decoration or a tiara.

Dog outfits will help your dog feel special and well-dressed. Remember to get the camera out for the final reveal of your dog’s new clothes.

Dog Clerk Brings Joy,
Laughter at Fla. Gas Station
Miami Herald

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Customers at one Gulf coast gas station might be surprised at who responds to the counter when they pull up to the drive-through window: The store owner's dog.
Dozens of times each day, Cody the chocolate Labradaor retriever will pop up on two paws behind the counter at a BP gas station and convenience store in Clearwater. He even has a BP logo shirt and a name tag.

Customers grin and kids squeal with joy in response.

Store owner Karim Mansour said he started bringing Cody to work five months ago for company on the early morning shift. The dog quickly became a celebrity among store regulars.

Mansour said Cody helps customers by calming those who come in sad or angry.

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What to Do About Pet Odor
on the Carpet: Ask Dog Lady
By Special to The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Dear Dog Lady: I recently adopted a 2-year-old Shih Tzu-mix. I love him to pieces, but a constant gamey odor is present even after groomer appointments. Now the smell has permeated our carpets. Any suggestions? -- Sherry

Dear Sherry: Because this newspaper is not "scratch 'n' sniff," Dog Lady cannot possibly know the smell of which you speak. The best plan is for you to take Little Mister Gamey to a veterinarian for a checkup. Offensive smells from dogs can be any number of things: 1. Gastrointestinal. 2. Skin allergies. 3. Crusty ears. 4. Odiferous quirks of dog-dom. 5. Nothing because he's a dog. (Remember, Dog Lady is not a vet, nor does she play one in the newspaper.)

The best advice Dog Lady can offer is to get used to it.

Dear Dog Lady: I saw an unusual job posting on the bulletin board of my large church: "My pit bull needs medicine twice a day for the next two weeks (and possibly longer the vet says). The problem is that I'm a small lady in my 50s and can't hold him down and make him swallow the pills at the same time. I need a strong person to help me -- he's a good dog but can snap. I can pay $50 each time you hold him. Over 2 weeks (or more) twice a day that could really add up."

I am so tempted to apply. I need the money. Aside from the obvious, do you see any down side? -- Adam

Dear Adam: Answer the ad -- if you don't care about losing a limb. Even the woman admits her dog "can snap."

Most worrisome is the person who offers such a dicey position. Pet owners pose a danger to themselves and to others when they can't control their big dogs at all times. Why a "small lady" in her 50s keeps such a breed is beyond sense. That she must hire a "strong person" to help her dispense medicine to the pit bull is absurd. (Hasn't she heard of meaty pill pockets for dogs?) She should advertise for an experienced hand, such as a veterinary technician in need of extra cash, not an innocent with scant dog experience.

Tips For Preventing
Bladder Stones In Cats

If you’ve ever had any experience with a cat bladder stone, you want to know why this happened to your cat and how to prevent it from happening in the future. Read on to learn what causes bladder stones in cats, and how to prevent them.

How Do Cat Bladder Stones Form?

Researchers have several theories on this. Many agree that stones form because of high mineral levels in your cat’s urine. This can be due to a bladder infection or from his diet. When the mineral levels get too high, crystals form. These crystals grow and form stones in your cat’s bladder. These stones can be very small, about the size of a grain of sand, or they can grow to the size of a small pebble.

It can be impossible for your cat to pass urine if a stone should block one of his ureters (the tube that goes between his kidney and his bladder) or his urethra.

Tips For Preventing Bladder Stones In Cats

The most important thing you can do is to start feeding your cat a high quality canned food. Cats who eat dry food exclusively are more prone to developing bladder stones because they are usually chronically dehydrated. Cats have evolved to get most of their water from their prey. A mouse is over 90% water, so a cat in its natural environment doesn’t need to drink as much water.

Most canned foods have a moisture level of about 78%. You can see that feeding your cat canned food will help prevent him from becoming dehydrated. A cat that is dehydrated will have very concentrated urine, which can lead to the formation of cat bladder stones.

Always be sure your cat’s water dish is full of clean, fresh water. It’s best to give him filtered water to be sure it’s pure. A cat that drinks plenty of water will have dilute urine, which is helpful in preventing bladder stones.

Some cat owners give their cats a supplement containing cranberry. Cranberry prevents bladder stones from forming by raising the acidity level in the urine. It also helps to prevent cat bladder infections, too.

Herbal Pet Remedies Can Help Prevent Cat Urinary Problems

People have been using herbal remedies like uva ursi and barberry to treat and prevent urinary problems for centuries. Homeopathic remedies are in great demand as well.

Cat owners are wondering if herbal pet remedies can help their pets. The answer is yes. The advantages of these remedies is that not only are they safe and effective, but they’re inexpensive, and don’t have any side effects.

However, it’s extremely important to buy products that are formulated especially for animals. You’ll want to purchase herbal pet remedies only from reputable companies that stand behind their products.

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