Camping with Your Dog

Dogs, Not Cats, Increase Risk
of Some Children’s Asthma
by News Hound -

Have you been wondering if having animals in your house might make your kids more susceptible to asthma? Recent research suggests that the answer is yes -- but only with dogs and only in certain cases.

Results of a new study indicate that in families with a higher risk of developing asthma, a canine presence may elevate that risk in children, reports Reuters. The study, led by researcher Dr. Chris Carlsten of Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada, showed a three-fold increase in the risk of asthma for children who were exposed to high levels of dog allergen. Interestingly, neither cat nor dust-mite exposure seemed to increase a child's asthma risk.

All of the subjects had an increased risk of asthma due to family history but half of the group was placed on a special intervention program that began when the mothers were pregnant. Those mothers had to breastfeed for at least four months and then limit exposure to dust mites, pets and tobacco smoke, according to Reuters. Carlsten believes that the reason why those exposed to dogs had a higher level of asthma may be due to the high levels of endotoxin on dogs, a microorganism known to cause inflammation in the lungs. The study did not look at families with an average risk of asthma so these findings may not apply to those subjects.

So should you avoid bringing home a puppy? Carlsten doesn't believe the study's findings, which were reported in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, are definitive enough to make that recommendation. Instead, families should base the decision on their desire to have a pet.

What do you think? Is having a dog worth the possibility of increasing your child's risk of asthma? Even slightly?

Ask Dog Lady:
Bonding with a New Dog
Can Take Some Time
Monica Collins, GateHouse News Service

Dear Dog Lady,

My husband and I just adopted Bishop, a 1-year-old cocker spaniel, from a local animal shelter. This is my first pet, and I did a lot of thinking before we made this commitment. He's a very good dog -- housebroken, loving, smart -- and I have no reason to complain.

But I thought I’d bond immediately with this dog. Instead, I’ve been feeling depressed. It's not a constant thing. Sometimes I'm really happy about having him, and I always feel love and concern for him. But I have trouble sleeping and eating, and whenever we leave the house, all I can think about is how he's behaving while I’m away.

Is this normal? Will I adjust the longer we have the dog, or should my ease with him be more instant? Please help.


Dear Holly,

Call it “post-poochum depression.” The syndrome is very common.

Any new relationship comes with the inevitable strain of adjustment. Getting a dog prompts the next question: “What have I done?” Your dreams of a dog can clash with the reality of having a dependent creature under your roof. All that feeding, walking and training can make you yearn for the good old days when you were footloose and fancy-free. It’s a struggle to feel attachment to a four-legged critter. The scenario doesn’t unfold like an episode of “Lassie.”

The more time you spend with your new pet will cement your bond. The crucible will come. Dog Lady mistakenly closed her puppy’s foot in the heavy front door of her building. The loud yelp somehow pierced the heart. The pup was fine; Dog Lady was never the same. Stumbling through all this stuff is the journey of a new dog owner.

You will inevitably have an “aha!” moment when you and Bishop finally connect in a way that seals the deal. If not – and give it six to eight weeks – you should go back to the shelter where you got the animal and talk to the staff about returning your dog.

Try to stick it out, however. When you finally feel that joyful tie to your pet, you will have reached a new level of human patience and canine acceptance.

Dear Dog Lady,

We’re picking up a male puppy in a few weeks and my husband wants to call it “Diogee.” Get it? D-O-G – as in dog. I want something else, such as Sparky or Sherman or Shorty or Shamus (I have a thing about “S” names). What kind of name do you think is appropriate? Who gets to choose?


Dear Shelley,

Choose a name together. Deciding a moniker for your new puppy should be a pleasant exercise, not an excuse to quibble. Inspiration might strike when you actually see the puppy. For now, there are advantages to all the names under consideration. Two syllables are always good for names because dogs respond to sounds rather than actual language. Two-syllable names offer possibilities for sibilance and wild nicknames, which all dogs deserve.

Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Her Web site is Contact her at

Tips for Great Pet Photos

Most pet owners view their companions as family members, so it's no surprise that having that perfect pet photo of our pooch or kitty is just as important as having one of your sweetheart, your kids, or mom and dad to show off to others. Here are a few tips on how to get that perfect shot of your beloved pet.


Most of us take photos for fun, not as a profession, so our equipment can be pretty basic. Although you may only have a point and shoot camera, you can get pretty nice pet photos by making sure you have the best lighting possible.

Natural outdoor light is the best. If you can't photograph your pet outside, pick a spot indoors that provides plenty of natural lighting. Early morning or late evening is best for natural light.

Don't use a flash as it is too harsh and will cause the dreaded "red eye." If you have a red eye filter on your camera, use it.

It's best to photograph on an overcast, but bright day instead of a sunny day. Direct sunlight will be too bright and there will be too much contrast between light and dark features. If you do photograph on a sunny day, be sure to find a shady spot to take your photos.

An exception to the no-flash and no-direct-sunlight rule: some very dark-coated animals might do well with a flash or sunlight to bring out the different shades and textures in their hair. Also, if it's difficult to get your animal to sit still, you may want to use the flash. If you can adjust it, try it at the lowest setting and be sure to turn off the auto red-eye feature which delays the flash.


Get down to your pet's level. They're a lot shorter and smaller than we are, so don't be in a position where you are pointing your camera down toward them. Sit or crouch down, or even lie down to get the best shot.

Don't be afraid to fill the frame with your pet. Zoom in for tight head shots or make sure their whole body fills the frame.

Keep the background in mind. You probably don't want to shoot your all-black cat on a dark couch. Solid colors are usually a better choice than very textured or multi-colored backgrounds because they can distract from the star of the pet photo.


I'm sure we all see our pets as having different expressions. Try to capture that special look only your companion has by making sure he or she is comfortable, relaxed, and having fun. This shouldn't be an ordeal for them.

You can get your pet's attention by using their favorite treats and toys, or making silly noises to them.

Don't forget that candid shots can be the best ones. Let your pet loose to do what he/she wishes with a toy, with a treat, or with an animal or human friend. If you can, increase the ISO settings of your camera to a fast shutter speed to better capture your animal in motion. This may increase graininess in the photo, but you will have captured the shot.

If your camera's various sounds (beeps) distract your pet, turn the audio alerts off.
Experiment! Try different angles. Use unusual props or backgrounds.


As with anything pet-related, you have to practice a lot of patience. Be gentle and have a happy attitude about what you're doing. If you pet just doesn't want to cooperate, just end the session and try another time. With some practice, and trial and error, you'll be able to produce a pet photo you'll be happy to show off.

Send in your best tips for taking great pet photos.

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Pet First Aid Kit Contents

Pet owners never want to think that anything could happen to our pets. We are sure that nothing ever will, and that we don't need to worry about it, or if anything does happen, that we can just rush them to the vet's office and they can take care of our beloved animals.

Well, as a professional pet sitter, we need to be prepared for anything that can happen. Remember, you will not always be near a vehicle to transport your pet right away and you may not be able to get them to a vet safely if they have not had pet first aid administered first.

Admininstering pet first aid will give your pet a better chance at coming through an incident than a pet that has not had first aid before transport to your veterianarian.

You need to have a pet first aid kit with you at all times in your home, and whenever you go anywhere with your animals. You never know what may happen.

Pet First Aid Kit Contents

Dressings & Bandages

1. Adhesive Tape (1 inch roll)
2. Guaze pads (3 or 4 inch squares)
3. Guaze rolls (2 inch for small dogs, 3 inch for big dogs)
4. Triangular bandages
5. Individually wrapped Sanitary Napkins


1. Digital Thermometer (check battery twice a year)
2. Scissors (blunt end)
3. Tweezers
4. Eye Dropper
5. Syringe (12cc with needle removed)

Ointments, Disinfectants & Medications

1. Antihistamine (gel caps in blister pack, poke hole with safety
pin and squirt into pet's mouth)
2. Antibiotic (triple) (ex. Neosporin)
3. Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
4. Mercurochrome
5. Vinegar or Baking Soda (for neutralizing burns caused by acid)
6. Activated Charcoal (for absorbing poisons)
7. Petroleum Jelly (lubricant for thermometer)
8. Kaopectate
9. Chemical Ice Pack

Misc. Equipment and Supplies

1. Small Flashlight
2. Needle Nose Pliers
3. Q-tips
4. Betadine Solution
5. Razor Blades
6. Extra Leash and Collar
7. Muzzle
8. Plastic Bags (for clean up or samples)
9. Permanent Marking Pen
10. Towel or Blanket (big enough to use for transport)
11. Latex, Nitrile or Rubber Gloves
12. Photo of You with Your Pet

You can fit the basics in a fanny pack and carry it with you whenever you take your dog for a walk. The larger items can be a part of your vehicle pet first aid kit, and your home pet first aid kit.

You should also take a Pet First Aid and CPR class so you know exactly what to do in a situation, and how to properly use your first aid kit. The Woof Pack offers local training and certification. Go to to check for the training schedule.

If you are not in the local area, go to to find a Pet First Aid Trainer in your area.

Reference: Pet First Aid and Care Handbook
Author Thom Somes
Pet Tech, Pet First Aid Training Center

Hints From Heloise

A Tricky Treat

Dear Heloise: A friend has dogs that must be on SPECIAL FOOD DIETS because of severe food allergies. If they eat the wrong thing, it can make them sick, so that special treat a neighbor might give could cause misery for the dog later. A kind gesture can lead to serious allergic reactions and possibly death. -- Kristina from Ohio

This is very true! Our little miniature schnauzer, Cabbie, also is on special dog food because she has had two very serious bouts with pancreatitis. It can be triggered by eating a lot of high-fat foods, such as cheese, a fatty piece of meat, etc. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I own two Persian cats; thus, bundles of hair! The most ecologically friendly method of hair removal from furniture and rugs is an old wet washcloth vigorously rubbed across the hair-laden surface in one direction, then extracted and rubbed again! -- Bette, via e-mail


Dear Readers: Judith Weinstein of Flemington, N.J., sent in a photo of her white German shepherd, Archimedes (Archie), getting a drink of water from a water sprinkler!

To see Archie in battle, go to -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: We have had a lot of snow, which has made it difficult for us to make the trek outside to fill bird feeders.

Using an umbrella-type clothesline (attached to our deck) and two-sided hooks, I was able to grab the feeders and suet packs on the line's aluminum rods. Keeping the deck and railings cleared of snow makes it easier for the birds to land.

Laying down old baking pans with food is a treat for the ground feeders. We winter our gas grill on the deck. Putting food in the drip pan under the gas grill allows the birds to eat under cover. We also get the advantage of viewing the birds. -- K.W.E. in Maryland


Dear Heloise: I own a pet shop. I am frequently asked how to keep cats out of potted plants or flower beds. My hint is to use small lava stones as mulch on top of the dirt. They are light and, of course, allow water to flow through, but cats hate to step on them. Lava stones can be found at many garden centers. -- Sheila Crane, San Antonio


Dear Heloise: We found that we could reduce the success rate of our cat's hunting trips by adding a second bell to his collar. Although most cats can learn to move in such a way that a single bell stays silent, there is no way they can keep two bells from ringing. One or the other will ring and warn their prey. -- Marilyn in Florida

Advice and Boxer Dog
Training Tips and Ideas
By : Jack Johnson -

Asserting your dominance over the dog and establishing yourself as the leader is critical in making sure your dog is well behaved and listens to commands when given.

Raising a happy and healthy dog lies in your obedience training; not only will they understand their role in the household, but they will abstain from negative behaviors such as chewing household items, jumping on visitors that enter your home, or using the bathroom inside the home.

Let's say, for example that you are interested in training a Boxer dog; if this is the case, you will need to specifically look into techniques for training Boxers as there will be some Boxer training techniques that will be more successful than other general ones.

The boxer breed is very protective of his family and essentially considers this his primary function in the household; for effective Boxer dog training, you will need to keep this in mind. Boxers are actually a very playful breed, though many people consider them instinctively hostile dogs, which couldn't be further from the truth. As a result of their physical appearance, it is generally misunderstood that these dogs would attack you as soon as play with you. However, without proper training, this could be actually be a likely scenario.

Boxers are very intelligent dogs which means they can be a bit unwilling to undertake training, but it also can be very useful. You will have to be very patient and very diligent when training your boxer, because there will be moments that he will openly defy your command to do or not to do something, and he will continue to do what he wants, however, in this case you will have to take the steps to give him no other choice. It is always important to exercise patience during these circumstances to keep things positive. Boxer dog training should begin by the time the puppy reaches six weeks of age so that the dog understands your role as the leader from the beginning; as he matures, continue the training by introducing playful methods, making sure to increasingly introduce socialization to your routine; the Boxer is more likely to follow the training if you provide stimulating ways of capturing his attention.

Socialization is the main direction of boxer training. Boxers have the potential of being very friendly pets, but they must be shown how to do so. Boxers have to get acclimated to being in the company of other dogs and humans. The most effective approach to accomplishing this is signing up for training courses. In doing so, your boxer will receive his training with other dogs.

Once the boxer has hit 13-16 weeks of age, that is when you will need to undergo the real serious boxer dog training. Step one is to let your dog know you are the boss. Dogs misbehave or ignore their owners because they don't think they are going to be punished for their actions.

Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed by the task of boxer dog training. If you begin to feel this way, there are professional boxer dog trainers that you can employ. Enlisting the help of a professional will make you feel less stressed and help you begin to relax with your boxer. You can either train your boxer dog yourself or hire someone who professionally trains boxers. Either way, boxer dog training is important.
Author Resource:- Dog training is designed to increase the pet owner's satisfaction with their pet. James is a consultant who specializes in dog training methods He can also concentrate on puppy training. Check out his site and look into his training product reviews; you can also read up on some helpful tips and a free guidebook for dog training:

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What's Your Pet Ingesting?
Likely More Than You're Putting
in the Cat Bowl or Dog Dish
Anne Godlasky, USA TODAY

A new Harris Interactive survey* of pet owners found out the following about our four-legged friends' home habits:

•Eating crumbs off the floor: 77% of dogs and cats do it.

•Pressing noses against windows: About half do.

•Drinking from the toilet: 23% of cats and 16% of dogs partake of this dubious little pleasure.

Just normal canine and feline behavior, nothing wrong there, right? Maybe not if the animals are also ingesting chemicals from household cleaners you use on floors, windows and bathrooms.

In 2009, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received 4,143 calls related to household cleaners. Garden products (it's that time of year), plants and rodent and insect killers are also major culprits, the ASPCA reports.

Dropping certain foods and other things used by humans can also prove deadly, as we've written before, including common medicines and tobacco products.

As a way around some dangers, there are those who skip commercial cleaners for homemade "green" cleaners (check out readers' reviews of the stuff). Some vets even recommend going au naturale for flea and tick treatments.

If you think your pet has been poisoned or even if you're worried about flea product warnings, you can call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline for $35 at (800) 21-6680 or the ASCPA Animal Poison Control Center for $65 at (888) 426-4435.

*PawSafe Household Cleaners commissioned the Harris survey.

READERS: Do you worry about what your pets lick and scarf up? Share stories of what they've consumed in the past and advice on how to prevent an accident.

Camping With Your Dog;
Tips and Advice for Vacationing With Pets
Lisa Nyren -

Camping is an excellent activity to do with your dog. Taking basic safety precautions will ensure the trip with your pet is enjoyable for you both.

Camping with your dog requires the same care and attention as camping with kids. Training your dog before the trip is key, and you need to be prepared and have necessary materials on hand in the event of an accident.

Training Your Dog
In any situation, a well-behaved dog is better than an unruly one, and camping trips are no exception. It is important that your dog obey basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and “lie down” before you head out into the woods.

If camping is a regular habit of yours, start bringing your dog along early, when it is a puppy, so it gets used to traveling in a car and sleeping in unfamiliar places.

Pet Safety and Security
Camping can be a great experience for the whole family, pets included, with a little extra preparation. Here are some helpful hints for camping with dogs. Before you go, have your veterinarian give your dog a basic checkup to make sure your pet is in good health.

Ensure your dog is either micro-chipped or has an ID tag firmly fastened to its collar. You can also write your phone number with a permanent marker on the dog’s collar to increase the chances of your dog coming home to you if it gets lost.

Bring along items your dog enjoys, such as a few favorite toys. This will help your dog relax in new environments.

First Aid for Your Dog
Purchase or make your own dog first-aid kit to bring with you. Canine first-aid kits should include the basics of any first-aid kit: bandages, antiseptic, gauze, scissors, tweezers, etc. You should also have a current canine first-aid book. Ready-made first-aid kits are available at most pet supply stores.

Campground Regulations
No two campgrounds are alike and neither are their regulations concerning pets. Call ahead, review your destination’s rules for camping with dogs, and obey them when you get there.

Be considerate of the environment and of other campers and clean up after your dog. Also remember that some campgrounds, including those in national parks, require dogs to be restrained at all times, either in a vehicle, in a crate or on a short leash.

Use Common Sense
Consider your pet’s well-being at all times while traveling. Never leave your pet in a vehicle unattended for extended periods of time. Pack plenty of food and water and remember to keep your dog hydrated and cool in summer months.

Camping together can be an incredible bonding experience for your and your dog. By following basic safety precautions you can ensure the trip is meaningful and free of worry for both of you.

Pet Friendly Tips for
Hiking with Your Dog
Author: Kim Salerno -

It's no secret that exercise is a necessity for both you and your dog. We often forget that our dogs are pack animals and their origins are rooted in hunting, playing, and roaming all day long with their pack family. If you are already in the habit of walking your four-legged friend, you know that it's a special time for the two of you to bond as well as establish yourself as the leader of your domestic "pack". Why not shake up your routine a bit and kick your workout into high gear by taking your best friend for a hike?

Follow these 5 tips and your hikes will surely be a wonderful experience that you'll both enjoy together!

1. Know Your Limits (Yours and Your Dog's)

Does your current exercise endeavor consist of walking around the block a couple times? Then you may want to rethink that 10 mile hike you're mapping out. Not only do you need to be able to hike without difficulty, so does your furry companion. Start intensifying your walks by making them longer and include hills if possible so the two of you can build up your stamina. It's also advisable to take your dog to the vet just to ensure that he will be able to accompany you comfortably when you're ready to hike. Dogs are people-pleasers and they never want to let on that they are injured or in pain, so they will endure it for as long as they can.

2. Be Prepared

Once you've determined that your hike is a "go", whether it's a long or a short trip, make sure you have the following items:

- Collar and leash - Bring these just as you would when you're going for your regular walks.

- Proper ID tags - The tags MUST be legible and specify your dog's name and your current contact information. It's also a good idea to have a current photo with you just in case you get separated.

- First Aid Kit - Human first aid kits can come in handy in the event of a cut or scrape (for either of you). Throw some tweezers in it for easy tick removal.

- Vet's Phone Number - In the event that something unexpected happens, keep your vet's phone number with you so you can quickly find out how to best take care of your dog. You can never be too careful.

- Sunscreen - You both need sunscreen and they make sunscreen specifically for dogs. Light-colored noses are very susceptible to sunburns and dogs can get skin cancer just like you.

- Orange vests - Know whether or not you are taking your hike during a hunting season. Orange vests for you and your dog will make sure you both stand out.

- Appropriate Dress - When hiking during cooler weather, bring along an extra layer if your dog tolerates "clothes". For summer hikes, keep a cool, moist scarf or bandana that he can wear to take a bite out of the heat.

3. Bring Water & Food

Just like you need to fuel up and hydrate for a workout, the same holds true for your canine companion. Bring plenty of water and a dish that he can drink from (they make collapsible bowls for traveling ease) and offer it often along the way. A good rule of thumb is to bring 8 ounces of water for every hour you plan to hike (and don't forget to bring water for yourself!). It's best to keep him from drinking the water in streams or other natural sources, as these could contain nasty bacteria that will make him sick. Bottles of water that are frozen are also great to pack in case the weather is hot and can offer immediate relief to your pooch.

Food should be given on rest breaks or during bouts of less intense activity to ensure that you don't upset his tummy or cause bloat.

4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Plan your hikes on trails that are used often and provide a clear path; now is not the time to forge a new one through the wilderness. In most cases, you'll likely encounter the usual suspects of the wildlife world, such as squirrels and maybe a deer or two. Keep your eyes open for common canine offenders, including porcupines and skunks. These animals are not as easily scared off by your dog and may become agitated.

Familiarize yourself with what poison ivy and other unpleasant plants look like. Although your dog can't get poison ivy, they can pass it on to you, so it's best to keep them away from anything suspicious.

5. Mind Your Manners

The same rules you follow on your routine walks apply to your hikes. Have a "carry in, carry out" mentality, which includes cleaning up after your dog on the trail. Using a leash will ensure that other hikers, other dogs, as well as the flora and fauna around you will remain undisturbed. If you're both on a more leisurely hike, let others moving at faster pace pass you easily.

Hiking with your dog is a wonderful way to spend quality time together and enjoy the outdoors all while getting a great workout. You're guaranteed to have a fun and safe hike just by taking a bit of extra time to plan and prepare. Happy hiking!


Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular pet travel site features pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the United States, along with other helpful pet travel resources. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.

Feeding Your Pet Rabbit:
Practical Tips to Remember
By Christopher Lunsford -

Some rabbit owners make the mistake of thinking that buying a shelter is the only thing they need to do for their pets. Yes, buying a rabbit hutch is certainly a crucial part in rabbit care but this is just one among many other things. Take feeding for example. Feeding is very important because just like with other animals, rabbits also have special dietary needs that you need to meet in order for them to stay healthy and happy.

For one, you have to make that you buy the right kind of rabbit food. Here are some important foods that you should include in your pet’s diet.

Hay is the most essential part of your rabbit’s diet because this provides fiber that effectively aids in digestion. Grass hay is usually widely available so you can feed this to your rabbit most of the time. You can also add in other kinds of hay to give more variety to your pet’s diet.

Green leafy veggies
Two to three different kinds of greens are good for your bunny. Dark green leaves like dandelion, chicory, romaine lettuce, cilantro, and parsley are some of your best choices. It would be best if you can get organic varieties of these leafy greens. Before feeding to your pet, wash the green thoroughly in clean water. An adult rabbit can take in one to two cups of greens every day.

Pellets are not that vital to your rabbit’s diet. They are rather used as a supplement. Choose good quality pellets that do not give your bunny an upset stomach.

Fresh water
Like other animals, bunnies need fresh water too. Provide your pet with fresh water all the time using a heavy bowl or a water bottle. A water bottle is the more ideal choice because you would not need to change it as frequently as the bowl which can easily accumulate rabbit hair and other types of pollutants.

Healthy treats
Small slices of banana, cheerios, carrot, and apple are wonderful treats that your bunny would surely love. Raisins are also nice addition to this. If your rabbit is prone to digestive troubles, you can give basil or rosemary instead.

Aside from buying food for your bunny, you also have to feed it the right way. Here are some vital reminders when it comes to feeding your precious pet.

Don’t give fruit juice or candies. Rabbits may not be able to digest these easily and may cause upset stomach.

Do not force your rabbit to eat. It would eat on its own pace. Force feeding may stress your pet and as you know, stress can be fatal for these animals.

If your rabbit’s eating habits changed drastically, like if it does not want to eat anymore, you may need to bring it to the veterinarian. Watch out for other changes too. See if it is still actively running around its rabbit run or if it is still appears happy when you take it outside.

The right kind of diet and feeding habits are important to ensure that your bunny remains healthy and happy.

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Saving Space With a Hanging Bird Cage
Matthew A Roberts -

Cages can take up a lot of space in the home. This is fine for those with big spaces to spare but when in a house with limited areas, every square foot of free space is essential. For those who have not found an alternative, sometimes a functional room has to be sacrificed for the cage and its equally bulky stand. Luckily, there are hanging bird cages.

Cages can take up a lot of space in the home. This is fine for those with big spaces to spare but when in a house with limited areas, every square foot of free space is essential. For those who have not found an alternative, sometimes a functional room has to be sacrificed for the cage and its equally bulky stand. Luckily, there are hanging bird cages.

A hanging bird cage has the same purpose as any other ordinary cage. It is used to hang our beloved avian pets except without the bulkiness of a stand.

Some, pet, cages are tied to a chain and hung on the ceiling. Others are plastered on a solid wall. Still others are hung on a very thin narrow stand that does not take up much room.

There are several materials to choose from. There are wrought irons, brass, bamboo rattan, weathered wire and wood. These choices should make it easy to find something to match the decor of your home.

Hanging bird cages are ideal for small birds like parakeets or love birds. Remember that some birds will grow in time, so it is best to check with the pet shop or the vet what height and weight it will be when fully grown.

Birds should be able to spread their wings without touching the cage’s bars.

These cages are also ideal for decorative pieces. It can be used to hold potted plants, as accent garden accessories or just a conversation piece for the living room. When choosing, make sure to find a piece that truly speaks to you.

Not enough room in your home for a bird cage on a stand? You can save space with a hanging bird cage instead.

Author: Matthew A Roberts Source:

Many Bird Owners Wonder Whether
They Should Trim Or File
Their Pet Birds Beak
By: Lee-Ann Simpson -

Many bird owners wonder whether they should trim or file their pet birds beak. We as pet owners like to know we are doing the right thing by them, after all we are wholly responsible for each and every animal that we have. It is important to keep an eye on any changes in your birds beak, from over growing, under growing, discoloured, cracked, changing shape, becoming soft, becoming brittle, too shiny, improper alignment of top and bottom beaks etc, etc. Anything that is changing from what is normal for your bird is best to be checked out by an avian veterinarian. Dont wait until it is too late, as some problems are caused by diet and can be overcome quite easily, just by changing or adding different foods and introducing items that can keep the birds beak in tip top shape.

Our Quaker Parrot, Charlie, loves to chew on branches from trees that we place around the house, both indoors and outside. Once he has chewed all of the outside layer from them we replace them with new branches. He loves to climb all over the branches and chews to his hearts content, whilst it is very messy it also keeps him amused. We have different shapes and sizes of branches so as he has to open his beak in different ways. We also give him different textures of food, both raw vegetables and fruit along with bird seed that we purchase from good pet stores. We have a cuttlebone placed here and there but he is not very keen on them, along with calcium bells. Charlie is still only young, about one year old, but we are very aware that any bird can have a beak problem, so we keep a careful eye on him. Even when he is on our shoulders on our clothes protector, a bird bib we give him things to chew on.

As I said before many pet bird owners ask themselves should they trim or file their birds beak, well yes, sometimes it is necessary, but as always prevention is better than cure. Try to give your bird, whether it is a Quaker parrot, Budgerigar, Cockatiel, Parrot, Canary, Parakeet just to name a few, a variety of items including food that will help control their beak and keep them in a healthy state. If you are at all worried about your birds beak dont hesitate to take it to a veterinarian, an avian veterinarian if possible. The veterinarian is the best person to trim any birds beak and will show you how you can file it yourself if you ask them. If you want to trim the beak yourself please check it out with the vet first as there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. You can cause the beak to bleed and it can be very painful to your pet bird. You dont wont to hurt your pet bird, after all.

Article Source:

About the Author:
After purchasing a Quaker Parrot and getting tired of all the washing that goes with sitting him on our shoulders, I designed and made a bird bib to protect our clothing. The bird bib has been very successful in keeping our clothes free from bird droppings. Please feel free to visit our website at

Tips On Pet Friendly Hotels And Motels
Mary Hanna -

It is easier than you think to find Pet friendly hotels and pet friendly motels when traveling with your pets. Although many hotel establishments still don’t allow pets of any kind in their rooms, there are many that do. Most of the time there will be no extra charge for accommodating your family pet, but sometimes you will be asked to pay a small fee usually ranging anywhere from 5 dollars to 50 dollars. Pet hotels and pet friendly motels are extremely convenient for travelers who do not want to go through the hassle of leaving their pet to the care of friends, family or expensive boarding businesses.

When making the reservations you should indicate the breed of your dog, as some hotels have restrictions on the size and type. Another question to ask, would be if you were allowed to leave your pet unattended in the room. Be sure you understand the hotel’s pet policy so there is no misunderstanding when you get there. If you know the policies both you and your pet will be comfortable.

When you reserve a room at pet friendly hotels or motels, always ask what the policies are regarding pets, and whether there is a deposit. All hotel and motel pet friendly establishments will allow seeing-eye or service dogs no matter what their pet policies are.

Sometimes you can be charged a small fee, and other times you may be charged a deposit, which would be returned to you if your pet causes no damage. If you hate leaving your pets at a boarding shelter while you are traveling, take some time to find pet friendly hotels or motels along your route so that your beloved family pet members can stay with you.

Some pet hotels will require that you keep the animal in a cage in your room, and most dog friendly hotels insist that your canine is kept on a leash at all times when it is outside of your room. Most people consider their pet as part of the family, therefore their pet goes with them on vacation. The thought of their beloved pet cooped up while they are on vacation is just unfathomable.

In addition to the refundable pet fee some pet friendly places may mention that they only allow “Well-behaved” pets, so teach your pet a few lessons in manners before you decide to take it on your holiday. The luxury hotels like the Ritz Carlton and Onyx will treat your pet like a king. Your pet will be groomed and pampered just like you will be. So, go ahead and enjoy a lovely vacation with your family pet.

Try to keep to your pets schedule as faithfully as possible. Pack the pet’s favorite food and toys so he will feel comfortable. Just like packing for yourself, pack any medications or vitamins that your pet will need. Be sure to have your pet’s veterinary’s number on hand just in case there is an emergency. If you are in another town, your vet maybe able to recommend the services of a vet in the town you are visiting.

Make sure you have the pet’s identification which includes a contact number, the pets name and an immunization tag if applicable. Never leave your pet outside alone. He could be stolen or antagonized enough that he will bite. Always keep the pet hydrated, especially if you are in a hot atmosphere.

Use common sense when traveling with a pet. And, above all, be polite regarding other guests at the establishment.

Mary Hanna has traveled the world by Air and Ship while writing eBooks, Software Reviews and Practical Articles on Internet Marketing, Cruising, Gardening and Travel. Visit her websites at: and You can read more of her articles at

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Ask Curry! –
Would You Ever Wear
a Diamond-Studded Dog Collar?
by News Hound -

Meet jet-setting show dog Curry, Paw Nation advice columnist. In between competing at the top dog shows, Curry finds time to answer the questions all dogs long to ask. From grooming advice (Curry just won Best in Breed at Westminster, so she knows a thing or two about looking gorgeous) to tips on getting along with the craziest of canines (she lives in Manhattan so she has to make friends with the many other dogs on the block), this 3-year-old Glen of Imaal terrier has all the answers to your crucial canine queries.


Did you hear about the new dog collar that cost $52,000? I know that as a glamorous show dog you have appearances to keep up, but would you ever wear a diamond collar? What do you think about other pricey pet accessories like booties and coats?
--Katie, a 6-year-old Irish terrier

Katie, what a great question! I can see you are right up to date on all the important breaking news.

The handcrafted $52,000 collar with 18 carat diamonds made me laugh. (And you know that dogs do laugh thanks to my insightful previous column)

I don't want to sound harsh, but only a human would be stupid enough to waste all that money on diamonds, a completely useless mineral, when they could be buying bacon. We love them dearly but they will never learn that wasting money on expensive collars and embarrassing coats is really all about them rather than us.

Have you ever seen a poor four-legged brother or sister hopping down the street wearing one of those ridiculous doggie raincoats? I'm sure the human has the best intentions, not realizing that both dogs and our embarrassing distant cousin, the wolf, have their own built in raincoats. It's called fur.

Also, for me, a heavy collar makes me worry that I'm in trouble. Pressure on my neck and back reminds me of when I was a very free-spirited pup and my mom would have her mouth on the back of my neck to reprimand me. I'm happy to have a nice lightweight but lovely collar to wear every day, but that's about it.

Humans, keep your diamonds and coats. We dogs are perfect just the way we are. After all, you wouldn't put a bumper sticker on a Bentley!


Ask Curry your questions by e-mailing her at

Nashville's Pet Resorts of America
Opens It’s Dog Pool and
Offers Local Dog and Cat Owners
Summer Tips for Keeping Pets Cool,
Healthy and Happy as the Temperatures Rise

There are a few things pet owners can do for their dog or cat to prepare for the hot temperatures. Perhaps most important, is to de-shed dogs that have under-coats. This helps significantly in keeping them cool and minimizing the shedding in the house.

Summer time is here, and Pet Resorts of America owner, Kurt Laemmel wants to remind Nashville pet owners that after a long, cold winter their dog or cat may be feeling a little stir-crazy. So, as the new season approaches, he has a few suggestions to get their four-legged family members ready for another summer.

"For dog-owners, the first thing I recommend is giving your dog's coat a good de-shed treatment. This is particularly important for breeds with an "under-coat" or "winter-coat" such as Labs or German Shepherds. The heat of the summer can become a health factor," says Kurt Laemmel, owner of Pet Resorts of America. "Taking out the under-coat keeps your dog cooler during the summer, makes it more difficult for pests such as ticks to hide and minimizes shedding in the house."

Of course, any dog that boards at Nashville's Pet Resorts of America has another option to keep it cool during the hot summer, an in-ground swimming pool. "Our customers' dogs absolutely love the pool. When we let them out for one of their scheduled play-times, they tend to gather and play around the pool like a bunch of children. It's great exercise, keeps them cool and gives them plenty time to socialize," says Laemmel.

Summer also means that ticks and fleas are going to be out. Laemmel says, "There are many good products on the market to help dogs and cats repel such pests. However, we also recommend frequent dog grooming and bathing during the summer months to help keep their coats clean and their skin free of pests." Though Pet Resorts of America will bathe dogs when boarded, customers also have the option of scheduling an appointment and dropping them off just for a bath and grooming session. "Annette is our Certified Master Groomer. She has over eighteen years experience grooming and styling. She loves working with the variety of pets that come to our facility," says Laemmel. "Whether it's a cat needing grooming, a show-dog that needs styling or a rescue requiring special attention, Annette shares the special approach our entire staff takes to caring for your pet."

Other hot weather tips include providing an extra large water bowl or bucket for outside dogs, and changing the water daily. Also, make sure pets have a shady place to lie down. "If it's too hot outside for you, bring your pet in too," says Laemmel. If there is a heat wave, make sure pets are inside or take them to Pet Resorts of America, for air conditioned runs.

Another feature that customers from Franklin, Brentwood and Bellevue appreciate is Pet Resorts of America's indoor/outdoor dog runs. "We have the longest indoor/outdoor dog runs in Nashville," Laemmel states. "When dog boarding with us, they are free to leave their indoor room at any time and enjoy some time in their personal outdoor patio, all within their 16' run. Even though we walk each dog twice a day, we find that ready access to their own "patio" keeps them much happier."

Laemmel also stresses that pet owners take time this summer to do something special with their pets. "We all get in relationship ruts, and we do the same with our pets. So I always suggest, no matter your dog's age, that you join a class or do some kind of dog training. This greatly stimulates your dog and gives them a dedicated time to have the undivided attention of their owner." Pet Resorts of America offers varying degrees of training, from basic skills to advanced discipline. Laemmel reminds, "Whether your dog has certain behavior issues to be addressed, or is just seeking new skills that you can both enjoy, our certified trainers will meet the challenge."

When asked to summarize Pet Resorts of America's approach to cat and dog care, Laemmel says, "We don't believe in the ‘kennel' word. With our indoor/outdoor runs, two daily walks, a pool, scheduled play-times and interaction with staff, we are more like an all-inclusive resort for your pet. We even have special events as well. In fact, we just had an egg hunt, on Easter morning, where the dogs were let into our play area to sniff for eggs filled with doggy treats."

To learn more visit Pet Resorts of America's Web site at: or read their client testimonials and reviews.

Useful Pet Travel Tips

So you are getting ready to go on that long-awaited and much-deserved vacation. If you are a proud pet owner, you have taken your pet into consideration while you planned your vacation. Or have you? Below are a few pet travel tips you may want to consider.

* Should you take your pet with you when you go off on vacation? Consider how old your pet is. He or she may be too old to travel. If you are going on a long journey or flying, your pet may not be able to handle the stress brought on by traveling long distances and long hours. It may be better to leave your pet with a friend or arrange for a professional pet care taker to take care of your pet while you are on vacation.

* If you decide to take your pet along, ensure that your pet’s health is good and that he can travel. A week or two before you go on vacation, take your pet to his veterinarian for a thorough check up. You want to make sure that your pet is in the best of health when you travel.

* When traveling by car, make sure that your pet has a collar on at all times. The collar must have your pet’s name, your name, your address and phone numbers. Keep in mind that when you travel with your pet in a car, your pet can easily run off while your back is turned. If your pet is wearing a collar with all the right information, whoever finds him can easily contact you for your pet’s safe return. If possible, have a microchip embedded in your pet as this is one of the best ways to have a link to your pet if he ever gets lost.

* Ensure that your pet’s carrier or crate is big enough for your pet. Keep in mind that your pet dog may have a hard time traveling in the car in a crate, and if your pet is a cat, your cat must be in a cage while you travel by car. If you are traveling by plane, you will be required to place your pet in a crate. Make sure to get a crate that is airline approved and is of the highest quality.

* Before leaving with your pet, groom him. Make sure your pet’s claws are clipped and his fur trimmed. Pamper your pet before you embark on your vacation. Your pet will be much happier traveling if he has been groomed and is clean.

* Bring plenty of water and dried food for your pet while you are both on the road. Bring one of those traveling containers that you can use to store food and keep them cold.

Follow the simple pet travel tips mentioned above and you are guaranteed to have the most wonderful vacation with your pet.

Keeping Your Pet
Out of the Economic Doghouse
by sarah -

Millions of pets in the United States are euthanized because there are no homes for them. According to The Spayed Club website, more than 35,000 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens in the seven shelters around Greater Philadelphia are put to death each year.

In a difficult economy, many pets are abandoned to reduce homeowners costs; but, just like anything else in the house, with a little planning and research, pet care can be less burdensome on the budget.

When you first decide to add a pet to your home, there are several options to consider. keeps a list of local humane societies, SPCA’s and pet rescue organizations. They also give valuable advice on things to think about when you are adopting.

With rescue missions available in almost every breed, checking with the one of your choice is definitely worth pursuing before looking at new puppies. The advantage of an older dog is perhaps maturity out of the young puppy chewing phase, completed vaccinations and spayed/neutering, and hopefully prior training on pet deposits. A new home usually requires some new training for dogs or cats but with proper instruction, attention, and affection, most pets should blend into the family quickly.

On the other hand, when adding a puppy or kitten to your clan, there are some start-up costs that need to be considered: initial vet bills, ongoing healthcare, food, and physical structures from crates to fences, if desired. Most pet stores offer books and instruction for new pet owners. Every pet owner should be aware of what symptoms indicate a bigger problem in their pet and what foods are allowed, whether intentionally or by accident. My family has a beagle and as she grew taller, she managed to get a lot of “accident” foods off the counter and I have learned to move things away from the edge. I learned not to underestimate the replacement value of chewed shoes, child toys and precious belongings, like anything made of real leather. We initially installed baby gates and restricted our dog to the kitchen until she grew out of treating the furniture like a chew toy.

Several steps need to be taken in infancy to encourage a long and healthy pet life. The Spayed Club offers low-cost spay/neuter certificates to qualified pet owners to reduce pet costs and discourage pet overpopulation that can lead to more abandonment with unwanted pet litters. Also, pet stores and vets usually have some information on types of pet insurance that, for a small fee, can eliminate costly bills later in life.

Friends and family can be tapped for advice on the best crate, bed, and toys but pets usually need an annual visit to the vet to update shots and treatments for worms, fleas and any other issues that arise. Once you know your pet needs, check reputable online sources for medicines. Discount prescription cards can be found for pets and humans alike.

Other ongoing costs to factor in are vacation time and grooming. When we couldn’t take our dog with us, we exchanged services with neighbors also needing dog care throughout the year. For a short trip, we have paid a neighbor boy to check in on the dog or taken her to family who live close. For grooming, I bought a nail clipper but I am always cautious since nipping a dog’s skin can cause uncontrollable bleeding, only rectified by a special medicine. Make sure you know what you are doing if you decide to do-it-yourself to save money in this area.

As always, pet coupons are just waiting for you to clip and save. Plan ahead and start saving today.

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Dog Lover Tips:
Ideas for Dog Related Businesses
by Kristina Daguia,

Thousands of dog owners spend money on their lovable pets and treat them as members of the family. Others also associate their own needs to what they want to provide for their pets. Dogs are "man’s best friend," and are now receiving similar products and services as their human counterparts. These products and services for dogs include grooming parlors, acupuncture for dogs, herbal remedies and even a GPS collar to track them down when lost. No wonder why smart and innovative business minded people keep investing into dog related industry.

Here are some of the top dog related business opportunities that are ranked high in the market today. You can venture into different categories such as food products, retail, training or a service oriented business.

Dog Food Retailer

The mushrooming of the dog food industry continues to explode for the obvious reason that the nutrition of pets is the primary concern of dog lovers. Showering them with nutritional treats pleases the owner. After developing your product line and processing all the legal documents, opening a dog food shop or dog bakery is the next step for your endeavor. Choices of foods should contain minerals and vitamins to sustain your dog’s healthy body. The revolution of making dog supplies is depends upon the breed, activity level, size, and age. Owners of this type of business must be knowledgeable enough to know the nutritional requirements as dog food competition grows.

Dog Grooming Business

If you would like to test the waters of a dog grooming shop, you have to attend some seminars and workshops to gain the essential skills needed. The job is not limited to washing dogs but involves new stylish ways to keep up with the trends. If you opt to choose learning by yourself, seek out online learning websites that will help you gain pet grooming knowledge.

Dog Breeding Business

Not everyone is able to begin or start up dog breeding business. Patience, proficiency, knowledge, and commitment are essential in keeping the business operation. Join a local dog breeder’s club to keep up with trends and new information on this kind of industry. Quality supplies in training dogs must be prioritized. There is some dog breeding software that offers tips on proper handling and training techniques to employ.

Dog Photography Business

Maybe dog photography hasn’t crossed your mind because most people already own digital cameras and can take pictures of their dogs anytime they want. Yes, you are right! You can’t just distribute flyers and convince people to let you take a picture of their dog, especially if they can do it for free. The trick in this business is that you should come up with your own ideas to be unique and interesting for customers. Provide a photo studio with many choices of backgrounds and several light effects. Invest in different dog costumes they can wear for picture taking or purchase some matching suits for both the dog and the owner. Make sure you purchase a good photo editing software for your digital photo enhancement needs.

Simply loving the company of dogs is not enough to have a successful dog photography studio, but it is already a great criteria that you could become profitable in dog photography art. It is also important to have a market research plan to make sure that there are many people with pets who are likely to partake in your service. If not, find a better location where you can expect have many walk-in customers.

Dog Walking Business

The easiest and cheapest money you have to shell out from your pocket is dog walking service. Marketing and advertising skills should be well-thought-of. You can start by giving out flyers or contacting some of the dog owners or an organization within your local shelter who can give you lists of potential customers. This will also require expertise in handling different types of dogs for each has its own characteristics you have to deal with proper care. Their safety will all depend on you.

Dog-related business has expanded and turning passion into something profitable and exceptionally rewarding. The process may take long to put up this venture but as long as you have the passion on your craft, the return on investment will solely depend how original and up-to-date the owner to push through on a pet lover business.

Cat Travel Tips:
Keeping Kitty Safe & Healthy
While You’re on the Road

If you plan to take a vacation this summer, you may be interested in easy cat travel tips that will help you address your cat’s health and well-being while you’re on the road and out of the picture. Many people make the mistake of thinking that because cats are so seemingly self-sufficient, you don’t need to do much more than leave a large bowl of food and water out for them and they’ll be fine. But you know that cats require a bit more care than that, particularly in your absence.

For instance; one of the top concerns for South Florida pet owners is our hot, tropical climate. What if the air conditioning died while you were gone? A cat should never be left inside of a hot house without A/C or access to fresh, cool air.

Vivian Fanjul and Michelle Monnar, owners of Fetch! Pet Care in Miami Beach have graciously offered a list of tips on how to keep your cats (or dogs) happy, healthy and safe while you’re traveling:

Home Alone: It is never OK to leave your cat home alone while you are on vacation without someone to care for them. Making sure the house is cool and leaving extra food and water out is not the only answer. There are a countless number of things that can go wrong under this scenario – all of which will make for a very stress-filled vacation.

Find a Reliable Sitter: While friends and family members can certainly be trustworthy, cat sitting isn’t their profession and chances are they won’t put as much effort into the care that you’d like. You should look for someone who considers this as a business opportunity and not someone who would consider it as a favor. Look for a professional sitter who can provide references and works for a company that is fully bonded and insured.

Meet and Greet: Before you leave on vacation, have the sitter over so you can introduce them to your cats and see how everyone interacts. The visit also gives you a chance to familiarize the sitter with your house.

Establish a Procedure: It is important to familiarize the sitter with your cats’ daily routine. Make sure the sitter is available to feed them at their normal times. This will help make sure your pets don’t experience too much separation anxiety.

Take them along: Today there are a host of options for “cat friendly” airlines and hotels that make it easy to bring your pet along. Even though you have your pet with you, that doesn’t mean you’ll have ample free time to care for them. If you find pet-friendly accommodations, look into a professional pet sitting service that will come to your hotel while you’re away – this option ensures that your four legged friend not feel left out of all the fun.

I’ve always been fortunate enough to have a nearby friend or family member who is also a devoted cat lover, so I’ve never been hesitant to leave my kitties in the hands of a non-professional cat sitter. Of course, if you don’t have that luxury, or none of your friends are cat people, a professional sitter is a great option.

For those who simply aren’t comfortable having someone visit their home while they are away, talk to your trusted veterinarian about whether their office offers boarding services or if they have someone that they could recommend. For instance, my cat’s vet, Central Broward Animal Hospital, offers pet boarding service in the Ft. Lauderdale area.

Always exercise due diligence when choosing a boarding facility to ensure your cat will be comfortable and well-cared for; not stuck in some hot room in a tiny cage, surrounded by barking dogs.

Fetch Pet Care is the leading dog walking franchise in the US. If your looking to own your own pet sitting franchise or pet business, please contact us at

Resource: Fetch! Pet Care, 13028 Southwest 120 St., Miami, FL 33186

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Ask a Vet:
Are Fruits and Nuts Safe Treats for Dogs?
Dr. Heather Oxford - Los Angles Times

Jasmine's question: Hi Dr. Oxford, is it safe to feed dogs fruits and nuts?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Great question, especially with us going into fruit season. Fruits and nuts that are toxic include grapes, raisins and macademia nuts. Feeding large amounts of rinds of citrus fruits can also cause toxicity due to increased ingestion of essential oils. All other fruits and nuts are not known to be toxic to dogs, but must be fed in moderation or else gastrointestinal issues could occur.

Ask a Vet: How Can I Help an Allergic Roommate Live Comfortably with My Cat?

Meiling's question: My very fluffy calico cat and I are moving in with a friend who is mildly allergic to animal dander. She's suggested that I shave Pineapple, but I think that's just a temporary solution. Is there any way I can reduce the amount of dander from Pineapple?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Interestingly, the main allergen from cats is in highest quantity in their saliva and their anal glands. Therefore, shaving Pineapple will do little to decrease your friend's symptoms.

There have been several products advertised for use on cats to decrease human allergies but none have proved effective in various studies.

My advice would be to bathe Pineapple regularly and apply a flea preventative product monthly to limit how much she grooms herself. While I wouldn't recommend surgical removal of the anal glands, you should change the litter box at least once daily to prevent allergens from the anal secretions from getting emitted into the air.

Ask a Vet: How Can I Stop My Dog's Excessive Licking?

Tiffany's question: My dog has recently begun licking excessively. We thought it was because of allergy season [during] which he would lick his paws a lot. However, we're beginning to think that's not the case because he ends up licking the couch or the bed for five minutes! Is there something we can do to stop his excessive licking?

Heather Oxford, DVM: This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions for veterinarians. Interestingly, the majority of pets that lick excessively have some form of upper gastrointestinal problem involving the mouth, esophagus or stomach.

Your veterinarian can do a thorough examination of your pet's oral cavity and can perform imaging procedures of the esophagus and stomach, including X-rays, a barium study and ultrasound. Licking has also been associated with diet sensitivity, or toxins. Rarely, it can be a type of seizure disorder as well.

Ask a Vet: How Often Should I Brush My Pet's Teeth?

Cheryl's question: How often do dogs and cats need to have their teeth brushed? In reality, this hardly ever happens for my pets. What is a minimum frequency you recommend?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Great question, Cheryl. Veterinary dentists recommend brushing pets' teeth every other day for optimal dental health. Pet toothbrushes come in different sizes, depending on the size of the mouth, and they even have finger brushes that resemble thimbles with bristles for cats.

It is imperative that you use veterinary toothpaste since pets will swallow the toothpaste, and regular paste for people can cause severe stomach upset. Besides, they make salmon, beef, chicken and malt flavor, which could actually help to make teeth brushing a more pleasant experience for everyone.

Ask a Vet: How Can I Protect My Treatment-Sensitive Cat from Fleas?

Sarah's question: My cat is very susceptible to worms and fleas but has had bad reactions to topical flea treatments. We always treat the environment (home and lawn) as well as the cat, but she still gets fleas! I can't bring myself to lock her indoors all the time. What are some natural or less irritating ways to fight fleas for my cat?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Great question! It sounds as though your cat may have developed a tapeworm infestation or two due to fleas. The link between the two parasites is fascinating. The type of tapeworm that commonly affects dogs and cats is completely dependent on fleas for survival.

The tapeworm eggs are passed in animal feces and then ingested by flea larvae, where they transform into an immature larval form. Once the flea larva matures into the jumping pest we all know and hate, the tapeworm larva is developed inside the flea. If the dog or cat eats the flea while grooming, the infective tapeworm larva is released into the dog or cat's intestinal tract and matures to become a tapeworm. The adult tapeworms release eggs that are shed into the feces, and the cycle continues. Hence, if the fleas and flea larvae are not around in the environment, the cycle will be broken.

Ask a Vet: Could My Cat's Skin Growth be Cancerous?

Kristine's question: In advance, know that I will take my cat to the vet. My cat has a small, black, irregularly shaped mole on her flank. I discovered it when I was petting her, but I have never seen her "bother" it. Could it be skin cancer?

Heather Oxford, DVM: I am glad you will take your cat to the veterinarian because this growth should be examined. In cats, cancerous skin growths occur more frequently than non-cancerous growths. You and your veterinarian can check the eyes, mouth (way in the back and under the tongue) and anal areas for any other growths that could indicate a cancerous type. The area that this growth is in isn't a common one for cancerous growths, but the irregular shape and pigmented appearance you describe raise some flags.

It is a little easier to decide what to do if you know how quickly it is growing, but it sounds like you've only recently discovered it. If there is any other procedure that she needs, such as a dental cleaning, I would have it removed for biopsy at that time. If not, and depending on what your veterinarian thinks, monitoring for a short time frame is reasonable. Your veterinarian can measure it and note the appearance in the record for accurate comparison at each recheck.

Ask a Vet: How Should I Treat My Cat's Chronic Upper Respiratory Infection?

Jay's question: I have a 1-year-old male cat with a chronic upper respiratory infection. Got him as a kitten and [have] been treating him ever since. Usually he is asymptomatic but will get a runny nose or eyes maybe once or twice a month. His lungs [are] always clear. Told by vet to give him gentamicin sulfate eye drops in his nose and terrimycin ointment for his eyes when he is symptomatic; otherwise, leave alone to spare his liver and kidneys. Also I keep Amoxi-drops in case he seems ill. These seem to work well. Also, [I've been] told not to get him fixed or his shots. He is a totally inside cat, active and sweet. ... Is there any other treatment that you could suggest? Or am I doing all that's necessary? He also gets L-Lysene in his daily diet.

Heather Oxford, DVM: Your kitty likely has feline herpes virus, otherwise known as rhinotracheitis virus, but don't worry -- you can't get it from him. The real concern is how contagious he is to other cats during his flare-ups, and how unlikely it is that a non-neutered male cat will be content staying indoors forever. Almost every indoor cat escapes at some point throughout their lives, no matter how hard we try to keep them in, and this is the main reason why I still recommend vaccinating with the FVRCP and rabies vaccines and neutering indoor cats.

Ask a Vet: How Can I Help My Dog Recover the Strength in Its Rear Legs?

Janet's question: My male pug's hind legs seem like they are numb; he has a hard time climbing steps and maneuvering his back legs and can't seem to control his bowels. His back legs seem almost paralyzed.

Heather Oxford, DVM: It sounds like the problems in the back legs and loss of control of his bowels may be caused by a neurological problem. As dogs age, their intervertebral discs can degenerate and become unable to absorb the compressive pressure between the vertebrae in the back. Usually, the pet jumps down off of furniture or plays too roughly, and all of a sudden one or more of these discs can herniate and put pressure on the spinal cord.

This is when you start noticing outward signs, such as difficulty moving the legs in a coordinated fashion, lack of feeling and, sometimes, urinary and fecal incontinence.

Ask a Vet: How Do I Tell If My Pet is Depressed?

Allie's question: What are some signs of depression in cats and dogs? I've heard stories about dogs being treated with antidepressants. What are your thoughts on animal psychiatry? What other options are available for sad pets?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Veterinarians have the most extensive training in animal behavior of anyone working in the pet industry, and I doubt any one of us has ever prescribed antidepressants as a first-line for animal depression.

The reason is simple: There is a language barrier between us and our patients that does not exist in human medicine. Animals don't come into our offices and tell us that their hearing or vision is failing them, that they've had a chronic headache for weeks now, or that they've been having stomach or intestinal pains that just won't go away. They just look sad. It is our first responsibility to rule out causes of depression that are endocrine/internal, neurologic or orthopedic in origin. A lot of medical causes of depression can be treated, avoiding the unnecessary use of prescription antidepressants.

Tips for Dog Grooming and Bathing

With your love for pets, you need to have the right training for you to maintain a healthy pet. Grooming and bathing are some of the components of the training that you have to understand. These two should not be neglected entirely and should not be overdone as well; the interval at which they are done has to be regular. Never treat the skin of your dog like your own. It is quite delicate and would not stand the strong shampoos and soaps. The skin of the dog has oil and the oil grants it some protection that you need to be careful with.

Using the strong shampoos and soaps would leave the skin dry, itchy and the dog would begin to scratch its skin. This can eventually develop into sores that would smell awful. Instead, your dog would develop some strange bad smell. A bath once a month is good enough for your dog. But in some situations, you may need to consult with a veterinarian or the internet that would advice you on the breed of the dog and in turn this will guide you on the number of times to bath it.

You have to be careful. The skin of the dog is quite sensitive and they may have allergies to the perfumes that shampoos and soaps meant for human skin are made with. There are special dog shampoos that you may use for grooming. These can be found at pet shops and you will find variety for different purposes. In situations where you are not too sure, please consult.

Occasionally, your dog can get dirty before the recommended time of bath as per type of breed. That is when you would need to rub its body with a towel that is damp but you could wash its paws. You may also run a comb through its fur and this would groom it. The dog would have smooth coat that is tangle free.

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Pet Photography Tips
By Valerie L, eHow Contributing Writer

While you can't tell your pet to smile and say "cheese," you can encourage them through voice and gestures, and a few strategically placed pet treats to hold a pose while you snap a great picture. The great thing about taking pet pictures is pets are often unpredictable. Allow your pet's personality to naturally shine through. By using common sense and good photographic techniques along with a little bit of luck, planning and persistence, taking a photo of your pet can be a pleasant experience.

The best light is always natural if at all possible. Staying away from flash photos will avoid that red-eye devil-dog, or possessed-cat look, but it will also create a much more natural environment for your pet. If natural light is not possible, take the photos during a sunny day in a room flooded in natural light. Have your pet sit in front of a window with the sunlight falling across their face or body. Avoid fluorescent light, which can wash out your pets' features.

Staging and Perspective
Be at eye level with your pet. Take the photo from your pets' point of reference. Close-up shots can be spectacular with the right light and perspective. Catch the real personality of your pet by being patient and waiting for them to feel at ease. Snap consecutive shots of an activity or antic that is especially comical or interesting.

Just like every child, every pet has a personality all their own, and capturing that on film can be priceless. Always keep a camera nearby for candid shots of the unexpected. Capturing a cat catapulting across a room after an insect, or a puppy finding his tail for the first time are examples of candid shots. How about placing a pair of sunglasses on your Doberman or a hat on your terrier?

Not Just Cats and Dogs
Snakes, fish, birds and ferrets can be a challenge to photograph. With just a little bit of planning and a little more patience, these photos can be dynamic. While outdoor photos are usually not an option, use as much natural light as possible to accentuate their natural colors and shading. When photographing fish, turn off your flash and place the lens of the camera against the aquarium glass. To photograph birds, don't use the flash as it can be frightening. The difference between a good and a great photo of a bird is the background, so select a background that compliments the color of the bird.

Buying a Pet Bird:
5 Things to Do Before
Bringing a Pet Bird Home
Karen Mellott - Las Vegas Examiner

Buying a pet bird should not be an impromptu act. Going to a new home is yet another situation for a bird, already under stress, to deal with. But, there are things that can be done before bringing a pet bird home that will make it less stressful on the bird and easier for the new owner. First:

* decide on species of bird
* buy cage and choose location
* have appropriate food and treats
* make sure home environment safe
* find avian veterinarian schedule visit

For a new owner it's fun and exciting when a pet bird is first brought home. However, for a new pet bird this is usually not the case. The weaning process is a stressful time.Depending on species, it can take up to six months or more to raise and wean a baby bird. All too often, birds are sold before being properly weaned or having enough time to make the transition to independence. A newly weaned baby bird whether purchased from a breeder or a store is already stressed. And bringing home an older bird can be equally stressful.

1. Plain and simple, do some research .There is no such thing as a starter bird or beginner bird. The most inexpensive species of parrot can live to be from 10 to over 25 years old. Prospective owners should think about their expectations of a pet bird and impact their lifespan can have.

2. Since many bird cages need to be assembled, buying and setting the cage up first will make the home coming smoother. Choosing the cage location and having dishes and toys in place first, will greatly reduce the amount of stress for both bird and owner.

3. Research the diet of the chosen species. The bird should be on a good diet at the time of purchase, but this is not always the case. Have familiar food and treats on hand before bringing the new bird home. If a change in diet is necessary, make it gradually, after the bird has settled in.

4. Make sure the home environment is safe and healthy for a pet bird. Toxic fumes from cookware, self cleaning ovens, scented candles, aerosol sprays, cigarette smoke as well as some foods and house plants can cause illness or death.

5. Before bringing the new bird home, locate an avian veterinarian and schedule an appointment within the time frame given by the seller.

Rochester residents that would like to see a variety of bird species and avian products should visit Birds Unlimited at 1421 Empire Blvd in Webster, New York.

Pet First Aid:
5 Things Every Dog and Cat Owner Should Know
by Helena Sung -

No matter how careful we are as pet owners, dogs and cats sometimes still manage to cut themselves, get overheated and eat things they really shouldn't. In honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness month, we at Paw Nation want to help you be prepared should trouble strike.

We asked Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, Director of Emergency Services at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Colorado, and the official veterinarian of Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl VI what she recommends you do in these five common situations:

1. Treating A Cut or Scratched Paw

"One of the most important things clients can do if injury is on the animal's paw is to put pressure on it with a clean towel and bring the pet into the nearest veterinary hospital," Dr. Mazzaferro tells Paw Nation. Don't apply a tourniquet because it can decrease blood supply to the injured limb and be dangerous. And you should probably avoid rinsing a wounded paw in water. "Sometimes that will release a blood clot that's formed." says Dr. Mazzaferro.

2. Evaluating Vomiting and Diarrhea

"If your pet's vomiting or diarrhea occurs more than just a couple of times, or if there is blood in it, or any suspicion of the dog or cat having gotten into a toxin, the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away," says Dr. Mazzaferro. Otherwise, if vomiting occurs just a couple of times, withhold food and water for at least six hours and see if the condition subsides. "If they continue to vomit or become lethargic, or if they're a puppy or a very small, toy breed dog, I would bring them into a vet because they can dehydrate quickly," says Dr. Mazzaferro

3. Dealing With Heatstroke

Heatstroke is especially a risk during summer months. Signs include panting, increased respiratory sounds, collapse, seizure, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. "Get the animal away from the heat immediately," says Dr. Mazzaferro. "Soak towels in room temperature or tepid water -- not cold water or ice – and place the wet towels over the dog and put a fan in the room to allow ambient cooling." Put the towels over the dog's torso, over their back, chest and abdomen. "The mistake people make is dousing the animal in ice-cold water, and that can actually cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict and it could cause the animal's core temperature to rise and make the temperature worse," says Dr. Mazzaferro. "The most important thing is to get the animal to the vet. They may need intravenous fluids if they're severely dehydrated."

4. Handling Household Toxins

"Chocolates, onions, raisins, grapes, various plants, as well as household chemicals are commonly ingested by animals, or people give their pets over the counter medications, such as Tylenol or Advil or Aleve, and all of these can be very, very toxic or fatal to pets," says Dr. Mazzaferro. If you suspect your pet may have ingested something toxic, the best thing to do is to call the ASPCA National Poison Control Center, a 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435 and take your pet immediately to a veterinary hospital. (FYI, a $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card for the ASPCA Poison Control service.) Don't try to induce vomiting without professional advice, it can be dangerous.

5. Responding If Your Pet Is Hit By a Car

Quick thinking and knowing what to do can help save your pet after an accident. "If the injured animal is not able to move," says Dr. Mazzaferro, "put them on an immobile surface, like a flat board or big, giant piece of plywood and strap them down so that if they have a spine injury or neck injury, they won't further injure themselves." Then get the pet to the nearest veterinary facility. "Even the nicest pet can lash out when they are injured and in pain," says Dr. Mazzaferro. "People can use a towel over the animal's head or use a pair of nylons to put around the animal's muzzle and tie it shut, so that the person helping the pet keeps from getting bitten."

In general, one of the best things you can do, says Dr. Mazzaferro, is to take a basic pet first-aid course. "I think every pet owner should know the Heimlech maneuver and that's something you would learn in a first aid class," she says. The American Red Cross offers Pet First Aid classes at their locations across the country, so check their Web site to find your local Red Cross chapter.

Pet Talk:
This Loco Lab is a Prisoner
of His Youthful Energy
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

First known as Choco, the young chocolate Lab was rescued from a high-kill shelter in Texas and flown to Colorado. Renamed Otis Ray, the dog has gone from death row to a new home to a prison cell.

Young, purebred and sweet-tempered, he was nevertheless destined for death.
He'd had the misfortune, it is believed, of being purchased by someone unprepared for the strong-willed potency of a bred-for-activity chocolate Lab. And then, at 18 months, possessing no training or manners but brimming with roiling energy from lack of neutering, exercise and stimulation, all of which conspired to make him quite foolish-acting, he landed at the Biddell Animal Rescue Center (BARC) in Palestine, Texas.

The staff named him Choco, and despite the difficulty of dealing with the leash-tugging, muscle-packed gate crasher who attempted escape whenever the tiniest crack arose, they grew especially fond of him. That's an occupational heartbreak there, where far more animals become homeless than can get adopted, and the kill rate is 90%.

So when Teller County Regional Animal Shelter, the little Colorado shelter where I volunteer, offered to take some BARC death-row dogs, BARC jumped into action, choosing Choco and leggy Chihuahua mix Sandman — the first of nine dogs flown the 830 miles by Pilots and Paws pilots who transport pets for free from high-kill areas to less-crowded shelters.

Choco almost didn't make the flight because when he was being picked up for the two-hour pre-dawn drive to the airport, he slammed through the gate and raced around like a bee-stung colt.

He was captured, and landed in Colorado on a gray September morning, a rich espresso-colored lad with blocky head and droopy eyes. Folks at the small-aircraft airport clustered around him, stunned that the bad luck of geography had nearly cost him his life. We were all besotted.

We'd been warned he was a major handful, which makes adoption tougher, even here, where people appreciate high-energy dogs. I told shelter folks that if no one adopted him while I was traveling for four weeks, I'd probably like to take him.

A month later, he was still at the shelter. He'd broken away from employees three times and run off; the volunteers, accustomed to leash-yanking canines, disliked walking him. Although he was sweet (when he could settle enough to focus) and attracted admirers, no visitor wanted to assume the challenge that was Choco.

I paid the adoption fee and off we went.

I named him Otis (because he's a country boy from Texas), added a Ray to it (same reason), arranged for a trainer to come two or three times a week, and got busy.

I knew it'd be rough. I'd had a very potent chocolate Lab mix years earlier, the late great Buck, a dog so strong-willed that we went through training three times, a dog so activity-oriented he'd stand on his hind feet and yank pictures off the walls if he hadn't had enough exercise and had run out of other things to destroy. He eventually became a wonderful companion … but not, to be honest, until age 5. So, yeah. I understood the Lab-ness of Labs.

Otis Ray is in a different league.

I suspected he had probably never been in a house and would become over-stimulated, so I had erected gates limiting him to two rooms. Two rooms were too many — he just couldn't keep his composure or control his impulses. I confined him to the kitchen. Even still, the moment I released his leash he'd rev instantly into turbo speed, leaping onto the stove and into the refrigerator (an impossible fit, really, that sent juice cans and string cheese scattering), apparently determined to have up-close experiences with everything he had never seen before.

I had known that it would take time to get such a big, previously deprived, completely irrepressible dog on track. But, unexpectedly, in just days, time became an issue. My sweet, dog-loving mutt Jasper, who had instantly welcomed big Rufus into the fold when I adopted him and had been exceedingly hospitable to all 10 fosters that had passed through (some long-termers), developed a huge hatred of Otis Ray.

I think it was the unpredictability the big brown dog wore like a second coat. Like when both dogs were snoozing in the kitchen and Otis came suddenly awake and in a second rocketed across the room, leaped atop the kitchen table and skidded on the tablecloth onto Jasper's head in a pile of fabric, apples and dog limbs. That'll put even the most patient dog into a bad mood.

And there were other things — like Otis, still an unsocialized puppy (though weighing 75 pounds) careening crazily through the yard, often T-boning Jasper or slamming him against the fence.

Odd fits of unpredictability were rampant. One day, the trainer and I were working with Otis in the yard. He was doing a nice sit-stay. I was describing how he sometimes seemed calm and then, without warning, he'd surge to his feet, run purposefully across the room and hurl himself against the window to haul down the blinds (or something equally peculiar) — as if the notion of doing so had come to him in a dream.

She looked dubious. Just then, Otis executed an instant twirling mid-air turn and, wrenched free from my grasp, tore across the yard, crashed through the fence (which has contained much bigger dogs) and ran off.

He was dealing with so much: hormones (removal of male equipment, which happened when he arrived in Colorado, does not instantly end the surges or behaviors); multiple changes of environment; adjusting to life with people in a house; learning limits; house-training. He needed full-time attention, and a skilled trainer who understood he must learn not only how to sit, but also such home-life skills as how to cope with bedspreads (not for eating), people (not for knocking over), radios (not for barking at) and counters (not for surfing).

I considered taking a leave to work with him, though, really, I'm no dog trainer.

I despaired. And then it came to me. Prison.

The Colorado prison system has a brilliant program: carefully screened prisoners train dogs. The dogs live in the cells and get true 24/7 attention (prisoners being folks without many other obligations).

Receiving assurances that he would improve through their 30-day program, I drove Otis Ray the 60 miles to the correctional complex, paid $450 and watched hopefully as the prison van drove off with him.

Can 30 days behind bars get an incorrigible Lab on the right track? Read Pet Talk next week to find out.

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