Pet Owners: Who Needs a Baby-Sitter? (Photos)

Diamond in the Ruff!
Dog Swallows $20K Gem
BY Larry Mcshane -

A golden retriever swallowed a three-carat diamond inside a Rockville, Md., jewelry store, taking a $20,000 bite out of the business' inventory

The dog-eat-gem story dates to late January, when the owners of Robert Bernard Jewelry were examining the big rock brought in by a diamond dealer.

Co-owner George Kaufman, as he usually did, brought his dog Soli to the store with him.

The diamond was accidentally dropped to the store floor, with Soli sucking down the pricey snack before Kaufman or partner Robert Rosin could react.

"You saw Soli go for the diamond - gobbled it up," Rosin told WJLA-TV. "Tried to pull it out of his mouth, couldn't get it. Gone."

Once the initial panic passed, the owners brought Soli to a veterinarian - who advised them to let nature take it course.

Three days later, the dog and the owners were relieved when the diamond reappeared during Soli's daily walk.

"It was a happy ending to say the least," Kaufmann told the television station.

LAKE ELSINORE: Vets Warn of Threat to Dogs

Disease fatal to canines found in raw salmon, trout

With trout fishing season in full swing, area veterinarians are warning pet owners to avoid letting their dogs consume that fish raw as well as uncooked salmon.

The warning comes in the wake of a recent incident in which a Lake Elsinore veterinarian diagnosed a sick dog as having caught what is commonly called salmon disease. He was able to save the pet.

Salmon and other salmonids ---- including trout ---- are carriers of a parasite containing a germ that, while safe to humans and other species, is lethal to canines, which will die in a matter of days if untreated.

"It's a deadly disease," said Dr. Jerry Ratterree of Elsinore Pet Clinic, where the ailing dog was taken. "If it goes undiagnosed, your dog is dead."

Though well-known in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest where salmon and trout spawn, the disease is less prevalent, though not unheard of, in Southern California.

"Veterinarians and people need to know about this," Ratterree said. "This probably got here by fish brought down from the north to stock our lakes. This is probably in a lot of lakes now. I suspect veterinarians like myself are missing it because they're not looking for it."

Ratterree said he discussed the diagnosis with his associate Dr. Deb Fox as well as Dr. Amy Carr with California Veterinary Specialists in Murrieta.

Carr said she had experience with the disease when there was an outbreak associated with stocked trout at Dixon Lake in Escondido in the late 1990s.

"This is a very interesting case," Carr said. "We don't look for this condition very often, because it's not endemic to this region normally. Occasionally, it has happened in the past. ... The reason this is important is that the symptoms are treatable with medication if it's caught, but it's fatal if not treated."

Indeed, Ratterree said the cause of the dog's sickness was unexpected. The symptoms, including swollen lymph nodes, led him to suspect cancer. He had cells from a lymph node tested and discovered an intestinal fluke containing neorickettsia, an infectious agent associated with salmon poisoning.

The agent is transmitted to salmon and trout from a type of freshwater snail found in the Northwest, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual's online version. Symptoms include appetite loss, fever, vomiting, diarrhea evolving to bloody diarrhea, lethargy and enlarged lymph nodes. The disease can take a while to develop, but once it takes hold, it will kill a dog in as little as four days if untreated by antibiotics.

"This dog would have been dead by the fifth day if we hadn't picked up on (the cause) and treated it," Ratterree said.

He said that, according to the pet's owner, the dog had lapped up some fluid from raw trout that had spilled as they were being cleaned. The fish reportedly was caught at Corona Lake, a commercial fishing lake off Interstate 15 north of Lake Elsinore. However, veterans in the fishing industry emphasize the disease is a threat to dogs anywhere trout are stocked because their eggs invariably trace back to the Northwest.

Lake Elsinore Aquatic Resource Director Pat Kilroy said the threat posed by raw trout to dogs is common knowledge to those in the fish stocking industry.

Craig Elliott, a partner in Corona Recreation Inc., which owns Corona Lake and Santa Ana River Lakes, said the threat of raw trout and salmon consumption to dogs is present wherever those fish are available, while there is no threat to humans and other animals.

"It could come from any lake in California that plants trout or even from store-bought trout and salmon," he said.

That being said, he agreed it is worth educating or reminding pet owners of the danger. Though dogs are prohibited at his company's lakes, he said he will consider posting warning signs.

"We probably will put something on our Web site or signs up by the cleaning stations, but this is not specific to our lake," he said. "It's at any city lakes, county lakes, in the high mountains, and even in supermarket-bought fish."

Call staff writer Michael J. Williams at 951-676-4315, ext. 2635.

Useful Tips To Pet Photography
By: Jeff D McQueen -

Many prefer to photograph their pets to capture their best qualities. Some find it easy to capture the moment, while some find it frustratingly difficult. Many pet owners turn to professional studios to get this done but with a little preparation and plenty of patience you should be able to achieve the results you want in your pet photography.

Whether you are doing this for business, or you just want to capture a treasured photo of the pet owned by your family, you still need to know some things before you go out with your camera and snap away. In addition make sure that you make this fun for both you and your pet and don't be on a rush. Patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to taking pictures of your pet. You may need to take several shots before you can capture that award winning portrait of your pet. Here are some of the tips you can take note of to enhance your experience with photographing your pet.

First thing you need to consider is the lighting. To achieve the best lighting; the best location would be outdoors. This way, you will have natural light and you will have more chances of capturing your pets photograph with a cool background as well. Try to see if it is possible if the pet you have is an indoor-pet. If safety is an issue to be outdoors, then what you can do is have your pet as close to the window as possible with a lot of natural light coming from it with your pet slightly to the side facing towards you.

You need to avoid direct sunlight since it can increase the contrast between light and shadow and can alter natural coloring affecting the features. Take note not to use flash since this will cause a distortion of your pet's true color and shade and can cause red-eye.

Next thing you need to take note of is proper positioning. Never take a picture of the pet where they have to look up at you unless this is how you want the picture to be. You need to see the world in their own point of view by going to where they are most comfortable, like sitting on the grass or lying on the floor. This is especially true for full body photographs, which will look best from the side than from the top.

Keep your pet at the most comfortable position they want and where they are at ease as possible to reflect personality. Capture the most distinctive pose and expression of your pet, as if they are doing their own version of a smile. You can achieve this usually at times when they are happy and having fun, so having some toys on hand would greatly help you.

Take note of these tips when preparing for a photography session with your pet. You and your pet will surely enjoy the experience and the portrait will surely be a priceless memory for you.

Cats May Become Aggressive
to Get What They Want
By Jill Bowen -

Q: I think that we are going to have to get rid of our cat because she has become very aggressive toward several family members, biting them on the ankles when they sit and refusing to get out of a chair, hissing, spitting and striking at them. I am the only one she seems to tolerate, probably because I feed her. She is a 3-year-old spayed tortoiseshell who can be very sweet and affectionate when she feels like it. Any ideas on why this Jekyll and Hyde personality?

A: There are several types of feline aggression; the type you describe is typical of dominance aggression where cats use threatening behavior to get their way. These cats are usually confident, friendly and social, but become aggressive toward people in order to get what they want.

Initially they become mildly aggressive when they want attention, food or your lap. Over time they will start to attack whenever they feel neglected.

Other members of the family are viewed as fair game, and it is common for these cats to lunge at people as they pass by in the hallways, or to mount surreptitious attacks from underneath the furniture.

Such cats do not appreciate being corrected and hitting and yelling will make matters worse. The most effective deterrent is a squirt from a water bottle, particularly if the cat does not see you. Eventually it will be sufficient to merely pick up the bottle. A soda can containing pebbles that make a loud noise when shaken or rolled toward the cat is often enough to stop the obnoxious behavior.

These cats do give some warning signals before an attack. Usually there is excessive eye contact with the pupils widely dilated, followed by an open-mouthed hiss and a front paw raised with the claws extended. At this point discretion is the better part of valor; remove yourself until the situation has calmed down. Avoid aggression by avoiding confrontations, think of those situations where your cat has become aggressive and avoid them where possible.

There is also a learned part to this behavior, and Nicholas Dodman of Tufts veterinary school thinks that petting-induced aggression and dominance/alpha cat aggression are the same. The cat's behavior escalates from biting or scratching when being stroked to full-blown aggression.

Watch for the warning signs of petting aggression such as dilated pupils, restlessness, flattened ears, sideways glances at your hand and the twitching tail. Before your cat strikes, stop stroking, stand up, tip her off your lap and walk away. Do not allow the cat back on your lap or to sit beside you until her manners have improved. If this petting aggression is avoided, then it is less likely for it to develop into the unpleasant dominance aggression. If this aggressive behavior has become ingrained in your cat over a long period of time, the possibility of rehabilitation is much reduced.

Cats that are permitted to go outdoors are less likely to show this behavior because they develop other interests by being able to play outside.

Make sure there is no physical or medical reason for this behavior. Cats that are in pain can react in this way, so a visit to your veterinarian is warranted.

From anecdotal evidence it seems that tortoiseshell or calico cats may be more likely to show aggressive behavior than cats of other colors. When I was in veterinary practice, we tended to be a little more circumspect when handling tortoiseshell cats, as we knew that they tended to have a short fuse and did not care for being handled by strangers. My daughter has had two tortoiseshell cats that exhibited the same behavior patterns as your cat; one eventually settled into being a very happy barn cat appearing twice daily to be fed and petted, but it still allows no grooming.

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Ellie: Talk to Vet About Aging Pet
By Ellie -

Q: Our family dog is 18; she's deaf, nearly blind and has seizures twice daily, when she falls over. She pees as she loses control during seizures. Otherwise, she's the playful dog we all love. Realizing that the dog's on her last days, the family's decided to let her die a natural death at home. However, after more than a month of seizures, I've argued that the dog's in pain, wrecking our house and we should put her down. But my daughter threatened that she'd never forgive me if I did so.


A: This is an emotional decision that should not become a father vs. daughter debate. You need a veterinarian's assessment of the dog's condition and how much suffering and pain she's enduring. The answer should be given to the whole family. If there's medication to prevent seizures, and the dog would then have quality of life, carry on. If not, your daughter needs to learn the difference between self-interest and the kindest response to a pet's difficult declining days. This should also not be about the carpet, but about a life lesson for the whole family in letting go when someone we love needs our permission for a final peace.

Cathy M. Rosenthal:
5 Ways We Pick Names for Our Pets
Cathy Rosenthal -

A few weeks ago, I asked readers to share their pets' names. After reviewing your e-mails, I realized that a pet's name can provide as much insight into a pet owner's personality as it can about the pet himself. Here's my take on the five ways we name our pets.

First, there are "human names," like Maggie and Max, that pet owners may choose to make pets feel like family. "They are my babies," says Liz M.

Second are "personality/appearance names" that reflect something unique about the pet's personality, behavior or appearance. Judith Gunn Bronson of Bandera says she rescued a tiny cat who "chewed on everything." Her husband said, "You are just a little termite, nothing but teeth and mouth." So, she was named "Termite." Erin Harrison's blue heeler was the runt of the litter who made all sorts of unusual sounds as if he was trying to talk, so she named him "Verbal."

Third are "discovery names." These names tell us where the pet was found, rescued or adopted from, like a dog named Freeway. Angela Hoeffler named her Maine coon cat Baby Jessica after the famous Texas rescue. "When we found her, she crawled into a hole in the wall under the bathroom vanity and did not come out for two days," says Hoeffler. "It was like the rescue of the other Baby Jessica, except our Jessie was in a 'wall,' not a 'well.' "

Fourth are "revealer names," which give insight into pet owners' favorite things. Who loves Star Trek? Helen Harrison of Cibolo has a terrier mix named "Tiberius" after Captain James T. Kirk and a dachshund mix named Tribble. Her daughter Heather loves poker, so she has a cat named Aces. Joe and Susan Mustacchio appear to love Italian history and literature. They have cats named Nero, Mercuria and Bucharacio.

Finally, the last category I call "Other." It's the category where you sort of give up on finding a name and start calling the cat "Kitty." Lex Caswell explains this category best. As a kid in upstate New York, "my dad came home one day with six cats from the local shelter," says Caswell. "My four siblings and I were given the job of naming them. We ran out of names so we called the sixth cat the 'Other' cat. The name stuck. 'Other' was with us for 15 love-filled years."

What happens when you combine names? Mark Crider of Corpus Christi has a toy rat terrier who is "Blenheim with pink skin where the hair is white and dark where it is Blenheim, which gives her spots all over her tummy," says Crider. "When she rolled over and showed her speckled tummy, my wife said "Dotty" (personality/appearance). I looked at my reddish latte and said, 'Latte' " (revealer). Since then, we've called her "Latte Dotte." ("Blenheim" is a color description for a reddish brown and white pattern on a dog.)

How do you name your pets?

My most recent pets have been Brinkley (revealer: The movie, "You've Got Mail"), Smokey (personality/appearance: Named by our son when he was 5), Maggie (human), and Miss Kitty (other: She came with the name).

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

Tips For Raising A Motherless Mouse
By Carol Lawton -

What can be done to successfully raise a motherless baby mouse?

Q: I was in the pet store four days ago and saw a little pinkie mouse with no adult mice with it. I thought it was dead. Anyway, long story short, I have it now and am looking for tips on how to keep it alive. I have several adult mice and have rescued many little fuzzy mice with great success in raising them. I am feeding it formula and rubbing its stomach to help it go potty. Is there anything else that I should be doing or that would increase the chances of it surviving?

A: Unfortunately it is very common for female mice to become pregnant and deliver their litter in the tanks or cages at a pet store. A mother mouse is occasionally sold without pet store staff realizing that she's raising a litter. Female mice can also become seriously stressed by their environment and simply abandon their babies. You did a very kind thing for this baby mouse, but I would never recommend that someone inexperienced in raising pinkie mice take on this task.

It sounds like you're doing all of the right things — keeping him warm, feeding small amounts every hour or two, helping him potty and keeping him clean. Without his mom, that's really all that can be done. Even if you had a nursing female mouse, she would very likely reject the tiny baby and would probably kill him. She's not being cruel; she's simply protecting her own babies.

I have heard of female rats nursing baby mice but the best chance of success is with a mom that has a small litter (four to six babies) of newborns. With a bigger litter, the baby mouse wouldn't be able to compete for food against the much larger baby rats. While female rats are known for their strong mothering instincts and will try to nurse almost anything, there is still a risk that she would reject or injure the tiny baby mouse.

Unless an acceptable rodent mom is found, just keep doing what you're doing; it's worked for you in the past, and there's a chance that your experience and care will pay off with this one. I wish you the very best in all of your efforts.

Getting A New Pet – 7 Tips
Mike Singh -

Getting a new pet is a big step. It is not just about owning a soft, cuddling creature but about taking care of another life. This life that you bring into your home needs to be properly cared for. And, it needs to be in the right setting as well. Keeping in mind that you need to take care of your animal, no matter what you do decide to bring home, here are some tips to help to prepare yourself, the animal and your home for your new adventure together.

1. Realize how much space you really do have. While everyone would like to own a pet, it’s not always the right choice. Before you even head to the pet shop, take into account the amount of room your new animal will need and how much room you have. Dogs need room to run and to play. The larger the pet, the more space he or she will need. What size pet works best for your home, then?

2. Prepare your home then. Just like having a new baby at home, there are things you need to do to prepare your home for your new pet. You’ll need to make sure they will not get hurt on anything within your home. Move furniture if necessary to keep them safe.

3. Prepare a bed or sleeping area for your pet next. A dog often enjoys sleeping on a padded, warm area whereas a cat will want more of a dark area to sleep. The larger the animal, the more room you’ll need to make room for.

4. Set up a place to feed them. The location should be someplace they can get to easily. They should be able to get to their water and food at anytime. It should be in the same place each day and should be continuously cleaned and well taken care of.

5. Time is also a necessary factor to take into consideration when choosing a pet. Dogs need to be walked. Will you commit a certain amount of time each day to doing this?

6. Let’s not forget about our animal’s bathroom needs. Where will your pet go? Who will be responsible for scooping up the cat litter or cleaning the yard as needed? This is a task no one wants to do that is necessary when it comes to properly taking care of your pet.

7. Lastly, prepare yourself. It is very important for you to be ready for the challenge of taking care of a pet. It is a large job and can be a costly one when you take into consideration your needs for a vet and pet care in general.

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How to Sniff Out Bargains
Before You Travel With Your Dog
BY Jason R. Rich -

Many people consider their dog a member of the family, so when it comes time to booking vacations, they don’t want to pay to send their canine friend to a pet sitter or kennel.

Instead, many people are opting to travel with their dogs. To meet this demand, airlines and many hotels and resorts are revising their policies.

“We are very protective of our eight-year-old Rottweiler, named Maya,” said Jen Glabus, a 39-year-old commercial producer who lives in Lower Manhattan.

“She’s a good traveler [so] we are always happy to bring her along when we go away. We have traveled to places like Montreal, Chicago, Maine and Cincinnati with her.”

“Finding a dog-friendly place to stay used to be a major issue. Now, it’s much easier,” Glabus said. “Some hotels are particular about what size dogs are allowed to stay. Living in the city, Maya doesn’t get a chance to run around a lot. It’s really rewarding to see her running on a beach or in the woods, for example, when we get away,” Glabus added.

She’s discovered that some hotel chains, like Fairmont, W Hotels, aLoft, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, have special programs and services for canine guests.

When Glabus travels with Maya, she brings along bowls, toys, a blanket and bed, and an ample supply of her usual pet food.

Bringing along a dog can create problems if it’s left behind while the humans enjoy some activities.

“Many pet owners assume their dog won’t bark when they’re left alone in a hotel room. This isn’t always the case. Be sure to leave your cell phone number with the hotel’s front desk should there be a problem,” Glabus advised. “You might also consider hiring a pet sitter if you’ll be leaving the dog in a hotel room for extended periods.” Also, be sure to leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.

“Before booking a hotel, even if it’s dog-friendly, I always call and ask what extra charges will apply and what rules and restrictions they have,” Glabus said. “Some hotels, for example, won’t allow dogs to be left unattended in a guestroom,” which could create a hassle if you plan to visit sites or restaurants that prohibit animals.

In East Hampton, L.I., Sylvia Muller, owner of the Mill House Inn, has found dog-friendly policies attract customers.

“People really enjoy traveling with their dogs, especially to an area like the Hamptons, where dogs can have fun on the beach. So, when we built our suites, we purposely made them dog-friendly, using hardwood floors instead of carpeting, for example,” Muller said.

When staying with your dog at a hotel or resort, it’s common to be charged a per-stay or per-night fee, ranging from $30 to $150 extra. Pet owners are responsible for any damage. Pet sitters or doggy daycare can cost $25 to $50 per day.

If you’ll be flying with your dog, airlines typically charge $75 to $150 each way to bring a small dog (under 15 pounds) in the cabin, and it must remain in a federally approved carrier.

Of course, if your dog is truly a member of your family, the expense may be well worth it.

Choosing Fish & Plants
For Your Saltwater Aquarium

If you’re getting into the hobby of running an aquarium, particularly of the salt-water variety, understand that there’s more to it than simply putting a bunch of water and fish into a fishbowl.

If you’re getting into the hobby of running an aquarium, particularly of the salt-water variety, understand that there’s more to it than simply putting a bunch of water and fish into a fishbowl. Talk to your ADMA certified pet store about handling requirements for specific kinds of fish, how to maintain the pH (percent Hydroxide, or acidy) of the water, and what levels of salinity are needed to keep everything working nicely.

Fish for saltwater aquariums are rated by their difficulty to handle, and how quickly they adapt to new circumstances.

The five categories for handling are Beginner, Intermediate Skill Required, Reef Only, Advanced Skill Required, and Requirements Unknown. Make sure that your selected fish meet the skill requirements you’ll need to thrive and survive in your aquarium, by talking to the store owner.

When looking at fish in the store, take the time to observe them for a while before buying. Far better to find out that the fish is sick or injured before you buy it than after you’ve taken it home. Comparison shop between multiple stores.

There are some easy to check items that will help you get the most pleasure out of setting up your aquarium, and help make sure that the fish you get is healthy; all of them boil down to checking the behavior and appearance of the fish before you buy.

In particular, look at the eyes – the eyes should be bright, and active, rather than recessed or seeming small, or “filmed over” – the eye of a fish is the most common place for infections to show symptoms, and it’s worth checking over the course of a week or so at the store to make sure the fish is healthy.

The soft tissues around the mouth are another place where fungal or bacterial infections can show, and it’s better to find out about them at the store. Mouth injuries can also affect the fish’s willingness to feed itself.

For overall body characteristics, make sure that the fish is moving fluidly – that it’s passing water through its gills regularly, rather than spasmodically. Check for tears and raggedness on the fins; this can be a sign that it’s fought with other tank mates, or that it’s suffering from ammonia burns from improper filtration.

Check the abdominal region and the scales; if the abdomen is “fat”, the fish is eating well, and can probably adjust to the shocks of moving to a new tank. If the abdomen is sunken in, the fish isn’t eating well and may not be viable. Likewise the coloration and status of the scales should be smooth and even; missing scales and discolored blotches are signs of infection, particularly when matched with spasmodic gill action.

Finally, don’t neglect plants for your aquarium, but do make sure that they aren’t ones that will cause problems with your new fish! Again, talk to the fish store owner to make sure that the plants and fish are compatible!

Author: Renske Buursma – Source:

Why Do Dogs Love Squeaky Toys?
By Pete Wedderburn -

In my weekly Pet Subjects column for the Weekend Section, I love the variety of questions that come in. This week, somebody beleagured by high veterinary fees was looking for cheaper options (I gave him some hints, but they all take time and energy, which is the problem for many folk). Someone else was bothered because their dog continually has a mucky moustache because he digs in the earth, and I also had to give advice about a goldfish swimming to one side (for the record, there’s an excellent Goldfish Emergency website that provides much more rapid help than a newspaper columnist).

It’s the off-beat questions that I enjoy the most: somebody this week was convinced that their Scottish Terrier was able to tell from a distance whether a toy had a squeak or not. The dog adored squeaky toys, but had learned how to “de-squeak” them. Once the thing had been de-squeaked, the dog lost interest. Whenever a de-squeaked toy was offered, the dog just turned away. I asked the reader to do a quick test: deliberately de-squeak a new toy herself, and see if the dog was interested in that one. Surprise, surprise, the dog leapt onto it with the usual vigour: it’s the newness of the toy that’s appealing, not the squeak.

That said, there is something that dogs especially love about squeaky toys. My own terrier chases a squeaky carrot across the kitchen floor with more enthusiasm than I can muster up for just about anything in life. I guess there’s a link to small prey squeaking in terror, stimulating the dog on to chase and kill, but it seems very harmless when it’s all done in fun.

Just as pets can have bizarre appetites, so they can have bizarre choices in play objects: I know of one dog that seizes pillows from the bed to play with. Needless to say, the bedroom door is now firmly closed, after a few feathery catastrophes.

Do any other pets out there have unusual play things?

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