Are You Allergic to the Family Pet?

Springtime Safety Tips For Dog & Cat Owners
By Loyal Biscuit Co.-

Spring has sprung, and with the change of season, our thoughts inevitably turn to Easter celebrations, spring cleaning and much-needed home improvement projects. But the new balmy weather can prove not-so-sunny for curious pets—or their unwitting parents. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor revelry, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your delicate, furry friend. To help you out, our ASPCA experts have come up with a few seasonal tips that will help prevent mishaps or misfortunes.

Easter Treats and Decorations - Keep Easter lilies and candy bunnies in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats, dogs and ferrets, and lilies can be fatal if ingested by our furry friends. And be mindful, kitties love to nibble on colorful plastic grass, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration. Moreover, while bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care!

Screen Yourself - Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows. If you have adjustable screens, make sure they are tightly wedged into window frames.

Buckle Up! - While every pet parent knows dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the bed of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.

Spring Cleaning - Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all commercially sold cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.

Home Improvement 101 - Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.

Let Your Garden Grow—With Care - Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption and can be fatal if your pet ingests them. Always store these poisonous products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Check out our full list of garden care tips.

Poisonous Plants - Time to let your garden grow! But beware, many popular springtime plants—including Easter lilies, rhododendron and azaleas—are highly toxic to pets and can easily prove fatal if eaten. Check out our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your home and garden.

Ah-Ah-Achoo! - Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Pesky Little Critters - April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program. Ask your doctor to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.

Out and About - Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please.

If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a potentially poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

5 Most Memorable Movie Cats

LOS ANGELES – Cats tend to get a bad rap in movies. They're always evil, scheming and untrustworthy — or at the very least, they're coughing up hairballs. Halle Berry won a Razzie Award for worst actress for squeezing into that skin-tight suit and tail to star in 2004's "Catwoman," but hey — at least she had enough of a sense of humor to show up and accept the ignominious prize in person.

With the documentary "African Cats" opening this week, here's a look at the five most memorable cinematic felines:

• Puss-in-Boots from the "Shrek" movies: Antonio Banderas was a total scene-stealer when he voiced this character in the 2004 sequel "Shrek 2." A tabby cat decked out in tiny Zorro duds in a nod to Banderas' starring role in 1998's "The Mask of Zorro," Puss is sent to take out the ogre Shrek, which would make way for a fairy-tale ending for Fiona and Prince Charming. Instead, the kitty ends up warming to the big green guy and fighting on his side. The character alternates with catlike agility between sword-fighting bravado and saucer-eyed vulnerability, and Banderas plays him with a sexual ambiguity that adds a hilariously subversive layer of humor. Puss also goes along for the ride in 2007's "Shrek the Third" and is the only reliable source of comedy in last year's "Shrek Forever After."

• Mr. Tinkles from the "Cats & Dogs" movies: He's soft and white and fluffy but don't let his looks or his cutesy name fool you. This power-hungry Persian is hell-bent on ridding the world of those enemy dogs and ensuring world domination for his species. Sean Hayes voices the character with wonderfully manic fury, and the fact that this cruel kitty was such a contrast to the flamboyantly charismatic role Hayes played on "Will & Grace" when the original "Cats & Dogs" came out in 2001 was part of the joke. Hayes returned to the part last year in the sequel "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," which featured Mr. Tinkles locked up in a cell, Hannibal Lecter-style.

• Fritz the Cat (1972): He curses and smokes pot, sparks riots and indulges in orgies — and the best part of all is, he's animated. Fritz, the star of "Fritz the Cat," engages in such wild and shocking activities, it earned an X rating — a first for an animated movie. Based on the Robert Crumb comic strip, director Ralph Bakshi's satire follows the adventures of Fritz (voiced by Skip Hinnant) as he mingles with hippies, Black Panthers and Hell's Angels. The movie tends to meander and it can get a little heavy, man, but it's still a hoot. (Crumb, however, hated the film so much that he subsequently killed off the Fritz character.)

• Blofeld's cat from the James Bond movies: Such a sweet and docile kitty, sitting there in its master's lap, minding its own business, enjoying nice pets on its soft, white fur. Only the cat's master is Blofeld, one of James Bond's most persistent enemies. The word "supervillain" was created with Blofeld in mind. And so the cat, by association, must be evil, too. Since Blofeld only appears from the chest down in his first two Bond films — 1963's "From Russia With Love" and 1965's "Thunderball" — the cat is a defining characteristic, and clearly must be in on all these diabolical schemes for world domination. The cat is such a trademark, it was famously parodied in the "Austin Powers" movies with the hairless Mr. Bigglesworth and Mini-Mr. Bigglesworth.

• "Cat" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961): Blake Edwards' classic romantic comedy provided one of the defining roles for Audrey Hepburn: Holly Golightly, the New York party girl who, outwardly, seems to live a glamorous life, but in truth is full of insecurities and neuroses. Distraught on her way out of town in the film's final scene, she kicks the orange cat — whom she's intentionally never named — out of the cab in the rain to live among the rats and garbage cans. But she quickly runs back to find him, and George Peppard waiting for her, in an emotional, climactic reunion in an alleyway. They kiss with the cat sandwiched between them. "Moon River" swells in the background. The end. I cry every time.

‘African Cats’ is Beautiful and Kid-Friendly | 3 ½ stars

A cheetah mother must remain ever-vigilant for her cubs.

Rated G | Time: 1:29

Earth Day is Mother’s Day in “African Cats,” a magnificent wildlife documentary from Disneynature.

It’s an engrossing and often moving film built around the fierce protect-my-young instincts of a lioness and a female cheetah struggling against the odds on the Kenyan Masai Mara savanna.

Almost every shot is a postcard-perfect African vista, and every animal is shown in majestic close-up — lions, cheetahs, hyenas, aardvarks, even the homely wildebeest, their snouts covered in flies.

And yes, almost every situation and story thread duplicates what National Geographic did with its darker and more straightforward documentary, “The Last Lions.” But it’s not a put-down to suggest “Cats” is to “Lions” what poetry is to prose.

Music, image and narration combine in the Disney film to present life and death up close (and yet almost bloodlessly), capturing a world where man isn’t yet the biggest threat — other lions and everybody’s favorite monster, the crocodiles, are.

A river separates two prides of lions. In one, the aged Layla raises her female cub, Mara, living under the dubious protection of Fang. On the other side of the river, Kali and his sons covet Fang’s pride and plot their assault.

Sita the cheetah raises her brood of five cubs on her own, a single mom. “Built for speed, but not staying power,” as Samuel L. Jackson narrates, she can run down most any animal she sees. But protecting her cubs, taunting and luring away lions and hyenas, eats up her energy.

Filmmakers Keith Scholey (“Big Cat Diary”) and Alistair Fothergill (“Deep Blue,” “Earth”) showcase the animals to great effect, letting us appreciate their beauty, their exquisite design. The filmmakers occasionally capture the cute — cuddly cubs wrestling. But they don’t shy away from the daily brutality of the “circle of life” — as we see in slow-motion takedowns of gazelles and zebras, whole herds of them bleating in alarm.

But Jackson’s enthusiastic narration, the splendid images and especially the wonderful sound — grunting aardvarks wrestling, lions trying to muster up their most menacing roar — make “the Disney version” of the hard life both educational and terrific, kid-friendly entertainment.

| Roger Moore, The Orlando Sentinel

4 Antioch Police Dogs Get Bulletproof Vests

ANTIOCH, Calif.—Four Antioch police dogs, including one that was shot in August, have been outfitted with bulletproof vests.
The dogs showed off their new custom-made body armor this week. Each vest weighs about five pounds and is both bullet and knife resistant.

The $1,200 vests come after one of the dogs, a 65-pound Belgian Malinois, was shot in the right shoulder by a burglary suspect in August.

The dog survived and was back on the job two weeks later. But police officials tell the Contra Costa Times that the injury might have been avoided if the dog had been wearing one of the vests.

The vests were provided by The Police and Working K-9 Foundation, a group that also helps pay for emergency medical care for police dogs.

In Praise of Mutts: A New State Dog

Virginia has the Foxhound as an official state dog. Pennsylvania has the Great Dane. Now there's Great news for mutts. New York might soon have a new state dog: rescue dogs.

Many people say they make the best family pets, including hundreds of this blog's readers.

Assemblyman Micah Kellner, an Upper Eastside Democrat, and State Senator Joseph E. Robach, a Rochester Republican, are partnering up to give the honor to rescue dogs, as in dogs who are rescued and put up for adoption in shelters. The New York Times is billing it "the tail of two cities.'' Kellner is a huge advocate for rescue dogs, according to The New York Times. The bill is being introduced today. A dozen states have official dogs. This is the first time rescue dogs get the nod.

Cat lovers couldn't be outdone. Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal said Wednesday that she would introduce legislation to make the "rescue cat" the state's official feline.

5 Tips to Help Your Pet in an Emergency
By Vicki Holt -

1. Take Care of Yourself First
You can’t help your pet if you are hurt.

2. Call a Friend or Neighbor Immediately for Help
If the emergency is serious, you might need help, and you’ll definitely need someone to drive to the ER while you continue to administer first aid.

3. Assess the Situation before Acting
Look around for clues as to what happened, to determine what aid to administer. Is something blocking your pet’s airway? Is a limb fractured? Is there bleeding or signs of seizure? Does an empty container suggest poisoning? Take any physical evidence (empty cans, bottles, diarrhea/vomit samples, etc.) with you to the vet.

4. Know your Local Poison Control Hotline
The ASPCA (1-888-426-4355) has the best resources, but also charges a $65 consultation fee, so have your credit card handy. If you live in a state with a poison control hotline for humans, they will usually be able and willing to advise about animal poisoning too. Keep these numbers posted near your phone.

5. Confine your Pet
Use a crate, a bathroom, a walk-in closet, or a leash to keep your pet in a confined space. This way you can keep a close eye on her.

Are You Causing Your Pet To Be Stressed?
By Dr. Paul McCutcheon -

You might not realize it, but if Fluffy or Skippy are listless, disobedient and getting sick all the time, chances are that your pet doesn’t have some mysterious disease – he or she may simply be stressed out.

“A lot of people think that stress is something that only affects humans, but it’s a very real threat to the health and happiness of their pets, too,” said Dr. Paul McCutcheon, a veterinarian with more than 45 years experience and co-author of The New Holistic Way for Dogs and Cats from Random House ( “Better pet care will result when pet lovers and veterinarians understand that stress is the underlying cause of every form of health problem a dog or cat can have.”

Dr. McCutcheon believes that stress, combined with diet and other environmental concerns, can present serious – but unspecific – symptoms that can worry both the pet and the pet owner.

“It is important to distinguish between acute stress, immediate and intense, versus chronic stress, a real drag on wellness that results from a long-standing cause of stress,” he said. “The best way to support your pet’s present and future wellness is through stress prevention. Tune into the kinds of stress that affect your pet and stress-proof the ways you look after their daily needs. For instance, boredom and loneliness are probably the most damaging stress factors in a pet’s life.”

Dr. McCutcheon’s tips for pet owners who want healthier, happier pets include:

* Think Before You Adopt – It’s critical to ask yourself serious questions about your lifestyle and future before you adopt a pet. In that sense, you can better choose an animal whose needs are similar to your own. By being honest with yourself about your personal circumstance, you can ensure that your pet won’t face a stressful future and inevitable health problems.

* Establish Your Role -- You need to see your role and your veterinarian’s role in a different way. While you are in the best position to influence your dog or cat, your veterinarian can be a good coach who provides you opinions and advice that help you make better choices regarding the care and feeding of your pet.

* Watch Their Diet – Just as processed foods are being blamed for an increase in obesity for people, causing a wide variety of health problems, processed food is a danger for pets, as well. Look into switching over to a new trend in pet food, raw foods. They can be found in pet specialty shops and grocery stores in the refrigerated section. They are also known as “fresh” foods for pets, so ask your store managers about them. They provide a balanced diet with none of the dangers associated with processed food, which makes up the majority of the pet foods available at pet stores and supermarkets today.

“There is a new holistic way of caring for your pet that incorporates a combination of many different approaches to health care -- traditional, indigenous, energy-based, and recent developments in Western science all contribute to this new method. There is a direct relationship between the emotional health of a pet and that pet’s physical health, just as there is in humans. When we’re stressed out from work or family issues, our immune systems suffer. We lose sleep, and we are far more susceptible to the bug that’s always going around. We’re mammals, and so are dogs and cats. What makes us think they are any different? The truth is, when we’re stressed out, so are our pets. Just as pets can sense anger, fear or illness in us – which explains why pets try to comfort us when we’re sick – they can also sense our stress. By addressing the stress in our own lives, we can help keep our pets stress-free and prevent many of the common illnesses that plague them, making them happy and healthy companions for a long time to come.”

Tips on How to Deal with Pet Anxiety
During Thunderstorms
By Alabama's 13 staff | Brad Strickland, Dog Wise USA

Pet anxiety is a problem a lot of dog owners face and there are some things you can do to help them through it.

One thing to remember is that we actually reinforce or encourage the behavior by petting them or trying to comfort them in the same manner you would a person. Coddling and “soothing” says to the dog that you approve of the behavior. This will only serve to ingrain the fear further. We should remain calm and carry on as though nothing bad is actually happening. Which there isn’t anything bad happening.

You can get an idea of Fido’s level of stress. When they get to a high level of stress, they won’t take food or treats, even high value goodies. If Fido’s taking food his level is still fairly low and you can do things like have him work on some obedience like sit’s and downs to take his mind off things and create a positive out of a negative.

They feed off our energy too. If we are concerned for their concern we can increase their concern even more and… wow that gets to be a circle… So remain calm and keep talking to a minimum. When you do talk keep it to a calm sturdy voice. Set the example for her to follow. Be sure to find you a spot to relax. Moving about and walking around can create a “pacing” environment and increase the level of stress inadvertently.

Never reprimand your dog for the fearful behavior and don’t get frustrated or angry yourself. It’s not their fault that they are afraid and getting out of sorts with them only worsens the problem. Calm and patience are key.

If you can get your dog to lie down on his side or back for a belly rub a good simple message can do wonders. Don’t force him down though, the purpose is to relax not stress.

There are some other things you can do to help. There are products on the market that help to soothe your dog like vests that are snug fitting to help calm them in the same way swaddling soothes a baby. You can use an old t-shirt to accomplish the same thing by putting it on them and tying it tightly. Provide a nice dark quiet place for them to retreat too, maybe in a closet or a crate with a blanket over it. Create some background white noise to help drown out the sounds of the storm.

For dogs with severe anxiety, where they become destructive and injure themselves trying to escape, you will want to seek out the help of a professional to try to help your dog overcome his fear. You can also see your vet about prescribing medication to help ease her during storms.

The storms won’t go away but there are methods to ease your pet’s anxiety, and yours too!

Allergic to the Family Pet?

Our groomer gives you some tips so that you don't have to choose between your husband or your dog.

Dear Groomer:

We just found out that there is an allergic human in the house. What can we do so we can keep our pets?

Breathless in Holliston

Dear Breathless,

Don’t despair! There are several options you can try before you have to put the human up for adoption. Adoption should always be a last resort. These tips are also good for getting you through allergy season in general:

1.Brush or comb your pet daily. Okay, at least as much as possible. If possible, groom your pet outside. I brush my cats on our screened-in porch. They get some outside time and so does the dander. You can use a small scarf around your face as a mask to protect you from flying hair and fur, and see if this is helpful.

It’s important to get your dog or cat on a regular schedule with the groomer. This will keep dander and fur to a minimum. Even if your pet has a low maintenance coat, the groomer can remove undercoat, dander, and help keep your pet healthy by spotting issues you haven't noticed.

2.Use topical sprays and wipes. There are sprays designed for pets and their bedding. Also, in your supermarket, you can find a spray that reduces allergens. This product is usually found with the other typical household sprays. I spray every fabric surface and all the carpets. Allergen wipes are available at most pet stores.

Keep boxes of allergen-reducing wipes handy when you and your pet are relaxing, perhaps watching TV, and give them a little massage with an allergy wipe. The massage will create a nice bonding experience.

3.Don’t let your pets in your bedroom. Somehow this rule got lost in our house (four pets and allergic husband)! Not only will you get a better night’s sleep, you won’t have to jockey for a comfortable position, and it will really help your breathing.

4.Keep your carpet and floors vacuumed.

5.Wash your pet’s bedding regularly in hot water.

6.If allergic symptoms seem to be getting serious or you can’t tolerate them, a visit to your own doctor may be in order. He or she will speak to you about oral medications, nasal sprays and shots that can help keep symptoms in check.

Good luck in your quest for the peaceable kingdom. In my house, we just tell my husband that breathing is overrated!

If you would like to share your stories of what you have found effective in battling allergies, or have a question about grooming and pet care, please send an email to Serena Keating at

10 Tips to Reduce Your Pet's Carbon Foot
Breed Trust

Is your dog or cat green? It may sound like a silly question, but as more than 1 billion people in 185 countries celebrate Earth Day it's an ideal time to consider how our pets impact our beautiful planet earth.

As responsible pet parents, we can make simple changes in our pet's lives to help save our planet, while also improving the lives of our pets. In honor of Earth Day, consider these ten simple tips to help you reduce your cat or dog's carbon footprint.

1.Chemical-free flea and tick solutions: The chemicals in some flea products are very toxic. Consider switching to chemical-free solutions Find ideas for chemical-free solutions and check the level of toxic chemicals in your current flea products on the NRDC's Green Paws directory.2.Biodegradable waste disposal: Also known as poop bags, some of these bags are safe to flush down the toilet too.

3.Clay-free kitty-litter: Made from wheat or corn, clay-free kitty litter is a healthier option. Cats are often resistant to change, so make the switch gradually, adding a little of the eco-friendly product at a time to the cat's existing litter.

4.Eco-friendly cleaning supplies: Chemical-free floor cleaners and laundry detergents are especially important for people with pets.

5.Paraben-free pet shampoos: Switch to all-natural shampoo free of fragrance and parabens. Ask your groomer to do the same.

6.Toxic-free pet toys and pet bowls: Read the labels and choose only organic items made from toxic-free materials for playtime and mealtime. Also try to avoid products made in China since the levels of lead in some products are an issue of concern.

7.USDA organic pet food and treats. Look for the "USDA organic" label on pet foods. This means they have met the same high standards as any organic human food. The "natural" label on pet foods is deceiving and does not mean they are minimally processed or of high quality, nor does it mean that the vitamins and minerals are natural. Try fruits and veggies as treats or bake some homemade goodies. Higher quality food will help reduce how much your pet poops!

8.Organic lawn care: Stop using toxic chemcial lawn fertilizers and switch to an organic lawn care program. It will cost more, but will prevent the potential for cancer and organ damage caused by lawn chemicals.

9.Plant a tree: This is an ideal way to memorialize a departed pet for years to come while enhancing the earth at the same time.

10.Spay and neuter: Help reduce pet overpopulation by ensuring your pet is spayed or neutered.

These simple changes will not only help save our planet, but they will also help extend your pet's lifespan. Dogs and cats lick their paws and chew or lick their toys often. When you don't buy all-natural, organic products, the chemicals in your floor cleaning supplies, lawn treatments, pet shampoos, flea treatments and pet toys can cause long term health problems for your pet.

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