How to Toilet Train a Cat

Bulletproof Dog That Stormed
Osama’s Compound
had Tactical Body Armour

Washington - The revelation of ‘America’s most courageous dog’ that served alongside the 80 Navy SEALs during the hunting operation of Osama bin Laden, has focussed people’s attention on how the military uses tactical body armour around the body of such war dogs to allow them to operate efficiently in a tactical situation, remain connected.

Last year, the military spent 86,000 dollars on four tactical vests to outfit Navy Seal dogs.

The SEALs hired Winnipeg, Canada-based contractor K9 Storm to gear up their four-legged, canine partners, which it has used in battle since World War I. K9 Storm’s flagship product is the 20,000-30,000 dollars.

The tactical body armour is wired with a collapsible video arm, two-way audio, and other attachable gadgets, Today Tech reports.

"Various special ops units use the vest, including those in current headlines. It is much more than just body armor," Mike Herstik, a consultant with International K-9 who has trained dogs from Israeli bomb-sniffing units to the Navy SEALs, said.

To make them stay connected in difficult situations, high-definition camera is mounted on the dog's back, and the handlers can see what the dog sees, using handheld monitors.

Jim Slater, who co-founded K9 Storm with his wife Glori, says footage is stable because the entire module is sewn into the vest. Besides, the camera adjusts automatically to night vision during unpredictable light conditions, like middle-of-the-night missions, and the lens is protected by impact-resistant shielding. It is also waterproof.

The armour itself protects against shots from 9mm and .45 magnum handguns.

In Abbottabad, the patented load-bearing harness would have enabled a Navy SEAL handler to rappel from the helicopter with his dog strapped to his body. Once in the compound, the dog could run ahead to scout as the handler issued commands through an integrated microphone and speaker in the armor. The proprietary speaker system enables handlers to relay commands at low levels to the dog.

"Handlers need to see and hear how their dog is responding. In a tactical situation, every second counts. Every gram counts for our clients. So we prefer advanced fibers and innovative textiles. The entire communication module is 20 ounces." The average armor weighs between three to seven pounds, depending on the size of the dog and the level of protection,” Slater, a veteran police dog trainer and built the first vest after a prison riot, said.

Exotic Animals are Big Business for Smugglers
by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 News

HOUSTON -- There is a growing business for people who smuggle exotic animals.

Rare and exotic animals are often stunning or charming. That makes them strong draws for zoos and aquariums, as well as strong draws for animal smugglers and the illegal pet trade.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents patrol Bush Intercontinental Airport and the Port of Houston daily, making hundreds of wildlife confiscations each year.

Investigators said smugglers are bold and hide live animals in tires, clothing and suitcases

Moody Gardens in Galveston has adopted many of the seized animals, including a pair of Chinese Alligators. Just 200 remain in the wild. They grow only to four feet.

“Obviously there is a little bit of a trophy or collectors aspect to have something that is so rare and small enough it could be managed long term,” said Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker.

Traffickers also like birds.

“When they (smugglers) are driving them, they put them inside the tires, the spare tires up under the vehicles. They'll put them (birds) inside socks and put them inside their clothes when they go through airlines’ security,” he said.

Last week, a man was arrested in Thailand for checking a suitcase filled with sedated baby animals. The “zoo in a case” included lions and a bear.

Moody Gardens also has a pair of Asian Arowana. The nearly two-foot-long fish have a vaguely prehistoric look about them. They are a threatened species and were headed to a private collector in New York.

“These guys are actually evidence in a federal wildlife case,” Whittaker said.

The federal government needs a place for these exotic animals. Zoos and aquariums, such as Moody Gardens, are happy to have them for exhibition.

The facility also houses Red Footed Tortoises. They came from a large confiscation of hundreds, headed for restaurants in the Far East. When the tortoises were found a few years ago, they were babies, stuffed into socks.

The tortoises were also evidence in a federal case, but after they arrived they were actually stolen from Moody Gardens and sold in the Houston area as part of the pet trade. Moody Gardens publicized the theft and got a tip on their location. Federal agents set up a sting operation and rescued the creatures again, returning them to Moody Gardens.

Why Do I Care That Jennifer Aniston's Dog Died?
by Jeff Labrecque -

In many ways, the media attention paid to the passing of Jennifer Aniston’s beloved dog, Norman, is the height of our celebrity obsession run amok. But while most readers probably rolled their eyes or quickly clicked to the next story, I admit that I’ve read the stories about Norman (above), Aniston’s Welsh corgi-terrier who passed away a few weeks ago after 15 years. Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows the empty sadness of suddenly not having that enthusiastic “hello” at the door after a long day of work, and the news that someone — anyone — has lost a furry best friend is a tender reminder of one’s own canine companions.

I know cats are great pets, too, but it’s dogs that seem to most compel humans to reciprocate their devotion. Dogs inspire not only loyalty, but outpourings of earnest emotion that we’d struggle to express for actual people. Whenever I want to scream at the views of political commentator Charles Krauthammer, I recall his tribute to his beloved Chester, which still puts a lump in my throat just to think about. I can’t read Tom Junod’s “Marco Died” unless I’ve got a good two hours away from the kids to recover. So it’s no surprise that Old Yeller wasn’t a Siamese cat and that Marley wasn’t a Persian. Cats have to settle for YouTube clips documenting their piano playing while dogs often get the feature treatment.

Did you take special notice of Norman’s passing because it made you recall your own beloved pet who made his or her mark on your home and heart? Have you ever had to compose yourself after reading a paean to someone else’s favorite pet?

Colleges Warming Up to the Idea
 of Pets in Dorms to Ease Stress
by Dave Murray -

Amy's friend "Tibbins" was a welcome addition to the dorm -- and class.

One of my recent journalism students deeply missed her family's cat after moving to campus in the fall.

Attempts at keeping fish in her dorm room proved fatal, but Amy's brother surprised her at Christmas with a furry friend who would comply with the regulations.

“Tibbins,” a squirrel who had an encounter with a taxidermist, because our class mascot of sorts.

But some college leaders are now thinking that having some non-stuffed animals around might ease the sometimes difficult transition for college students.

Ryan Lytle wrote in U.S. News & World Report that students who are beginning college with no established friendship, the prospect of meeting new people can be nerve wracking.

“Students can bond over their pets, and I think that can be a way to meet some additional people on campus,” John Sullivan, dean of admission and financial aid at Eckerd College in Florida told Lytle. “It adds friendliness to a campus.”

Eckerd students are permitted to have cats and dogs under 40 pounds, as well as fish and snakes. The college even has a photo gallery of dorm pets on its website.

Wendy Toth, editor of pet resource site, told Lytle that pets can provide a much-needed perspective. “That's important for students that are wrapped up in their studies,” and that pets “have a great knack for not letting us forget what's really important in life.”

Lytle listed colleges with pet-friendly policies, including Massachuestts Institute of Technology, which has four cat-friendly dormitories. Students are allowed one cat , and must contain them to cat-friendly areas.

Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. allows for pets, ranging from dogs and cats to lizards and birds. There is not a weight limit for animals, and Lytle reports there is even Doggie Daycare.

Grand Valley State University allows service dogs with proper documentation, and non-predatory fish in small tanks.

Takeelia Garrett-Lynn, assistant director of housing and residential life, said students occasionally think they can sneak in small friends from home.

“I had one student walk by with her laundry, and I though I heard it meowing,” she said. “I asked, 'Do you have a cat in there?' The student said, 'No.' And then the cat jumped out of the basket.”

The rule about non-predatory fish came after a student thought having a pet piranha was a good idea.

“Students get creative,” she said, “The rule used to be that a pet could stay if it could live underwater, then we had turtles and frogs and all kinds of things.”

Now, a stuffed piranha, that would be OK.

E-mail Dave Murray: and follow him on Twitter at

Are You Causing Your Pet to Be Stressed?

Veterinarian Reveals How Stress & Diet Can Affect Dogs & Cats

TAMPA, FL--- 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 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 pet health problem."

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

•Think Before You Adopt - Ask yourself serious questions about your lifestyle and future before you adopt a pet. Then you can better choose an animal whose needs are similar to your own. By being honest with yourself, 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.

About Dr. Paul McCutcheon
Paul McCutcheon, DVM, is the founder of Toronto's East York Animal Clinic, serving 5,000 patients, and a former director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and the Human-Animal Bond Association of Canada.

The Cockatiel And Their Illnesses; Diseases
by Melissa Sutton -

This is one of the most popular pet birds in the world. Though they can become moody and aggressive, this will depend on their health and diet. The hygiene and cleanliness of the bird is also extremely important. Many of the illnesses they contract are fatal most times before they are diagnosed with the disease.

Most of these illnesses are air born, so make sure you have a top quality air purification system for your birds. Because of these reasons you should watch your Cockatiel very closely to notice any changes in the bird that could mean an illness has set in.

First is Pacheco`s Virus. This is easy to diagnose and an oral dose of Zovirax should be given. Though vaccines are available they could cause tumors and carriers. Evidence proves the birds die not long afterwards. as per

Next is Polyomavirus. This is an air-borne virus and attacks mostly young birds. It is very difficult to control. Symptoms of it include, delayed crop emptying, depression, diarrhea, an orexia, weight loss and regurgitation.

Beak and Feather Syndrome is spread by feather dust and dried feces. Birds infected with this have abnormal growth of new feathers. The new feather shafts look swollen and mangled. Another symptom of PBFDS is growth abnormality of the beak and there is no cure for this disease.

Next is Wasting Disease and this highly contagious disease will lie dormant for years, undetected, until the hosts are on the move. This disease attacks the major organs causing seizures, paralysis, tremors and heart attacks. There is no medicine to treat this disease.

The Papilloma Virus is mainly in the throat or vent areas and the virus infections are similar to warts. It grows big enough to block the vent, making it impossible for the host to defecate. Papilloma can be cured with laser surgery.

Psittacosis is another bacterial infection caused by feather dust and dried feces.

E-coli is not that deadly if caught and treated in the first few stages. Cockatiels with E-coli have droppings with the look of diarrhea and a very strong odor.

Gout or calcification of the kidneys usually happens in babies from 4 to 8 weeks old. Babies also look smaller than their normal size with protruding neck bones and victims rarely survive.

Runny Nose or Nasal Discharge is a Vitamin A deficiency and will clear up once this vitamin is restored. For more info you can visit :

Want To Start Your Own Pet Sitting Business?
Some Advice On How To Get Started
by Melissa Sutton -

This is a great way to make some extra cash if you`re a retiree or for the younger person to run a full time business as business is booming according to Ian White of

He stated ” The Pet Sitting Business is booming internationally. In the United States alone there are upwards of 63.2 million individuals who own a pet, or two. Reports tell us that in America, there are roughly 64 million dogs and 76 million cats in households. These numbers support why the Pet Sitting business is on an upward swing. It is fast becoming one of the best small business ventures that an individual can undertake. The Pet Sitting Business has been ear marked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor as a small business industry that will thrive with the coming years, with Pet Sitting services located throughout the states.”

This can prove to be quite a lucrative business and for a small business, you can run it right from your home. This would be especially great if you have a nice sized back yard and even better if it is fenced in. If you would like a bigger business, you will need a facility that has a lot of indoor and outdoor room. as per

It may be more feasible to start small and work your way up, that way you can get used to the job slowly as well as grow your finances to help fund the business. For your market you should do some research in your area to find out how much of a demand there is. Most customers will be in a 10-mile radius so start with that in mind.

You can also advertise by making up business cards and dropping them off at local grooming and pet supply stores as well as the vet`s office. You should consider joining an organization like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters(NAPPS) because they can give you advice on how to market your business. This will also give you the advantage over someone who is not a member of NAPPS as it establishes you as a pet sitting professional. For more info you can visit:

Ask the Expert:
Arthritis Hurts Pets, Too regularly offers tips on pet health. This week we feature expert advice from Dr. Annie Price of Ormewood Animal Hospital. If you have more questions, feel free to email today.

Q: My dog has arthritis. What can I do to relieve the symptoms?

Dr. Price: Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joint fluid. Once this fluid is inflamed, it becomes watery, which makes it a poor lubricant for joints. Talk to your veterinarian about joint supplements, which can help relieve the pain. Fish oil is a good supplement that you can hide in peanut butter. Here are a few other options to consider:

•Acupuncture: This would be a long-term therapy option, but some patients have had success with acupuncture.

•Adequan: Originally was used on horses, this medication is initially injected twice a week for four weeks; doses are tapered down after that period.

•Water therapy: Physical therapy using an underwater treadmill can help quite a bit, but don’t just throw your pet in the water. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a rehab facility near you. These professionals can teach people how to help dogs swim.

•Weight control: Every arthritic patient in my practice has to go on a diet. It’s hard for people to cut back, we are in control of what they eat and, you can add green beans to bulk up their food. That’s a fat-free option. Check out a previous Ask the Experts column on the importance of controlling your pet’s weight.

Q: How do I request a second opinion on my cat’s condition without making our vet angry?

A: I have been on both sides of that situation.

I offered a second opinion to a client whose vet found a large tumor and said the pet wouldn't live through surgery to remove it. Fortunately, I was able to remove the tumor, which turned out to be a massive benign hematoma.

Keep in mind that there are several factors at play when a doctor offers a second opinion. For example, the disease process may not have looked the same. Also, the other doctor may have better diagnostics.

If one of my clients asks for a second opinion, I refer them to a specialist such as a veterinary oncologist. They are more qualified in a particular area and can provide a more thorough second opinion.

What Kind of Pet Birds Can Live Outside?
By Naomi Bolton,

Many birds can be housed outdoors, but their aviaries must be large enough to accommodate the specific species and contain sufficient nest boxes. Aviaries should ideally contain a variety of trees and shrubs and should be constructed in a draft-free and quiet area of the garden. Shade, in the form of established trees or a suitable roof, must always be provided. Birds in outdoor aviaries must also be protected from bad weather, such as rain and snow.

Parrots and Macaws
Parrots are vividly colored, intelligent and active birds. The larger parrot species and huge macaws, are sought-after companion birds, but tend to become too raucous to be housed indoors. These social birds should be housed in pairs or small groups, where possible. Their aviaries must be constructed of strong galvanized wire, as they possess powerful beaks and active minds. These larger parrots enjoy climbing about in trees and spend a considerable amount of time in the branches, where they preen and eat.

Lorikeets are beautifully colored parrots from the rain forests of Australia. These active and vocal little birds have specialized tongues for feeding on pollen and nectar. These birds are social and the enthusiast can house a number of different species in a single spacious aviary. The red-collared lorikeet, Edward's lorikeet, green-napped lorikeets and the Swainson's blue mountain lorikeet, can all be successfully housed together. These active Australian parrots require an aviary at least 18 feet long and 6 to 8 feet wide. The aviary can be well planted with tall trees.

Finches are tiny seed-eating birds from Australia. Most display highly attractive colors and markings. Finches can be housed in all climates, provided they are offered a fully closed-in section to the aviary. These little birds can succumb easily to windy and drafty conditions but thrive and breed if they have shelter in a warm area.

Cockatiels are one of the most sought after aviary birds worldwide. These attractive parakeets from Australia are hardy and intelligent. Cockatiels breed readily and don't require a very large aviary. These birds tend to have a good nature and enjoy the company of people. Cockatiels are currently bred in a huge variety of colors and tend to be undemanding in their diet.

Ask a Vet:
Cat in New Home Messing Up
By Dr. FRANCINE RATTNER, For The Capital Gazette

Q: I have a 16-year-old male neutered cat. We have moved to a new home and he is going to the bathroom on the carpet in the dining room. What should I do?

A: There are many possibilities for a cat like yours not to use his litter box. Some are physical, others are psychological.

Cats often do not adapt to change very well. Make sure you are keeping the box clean. You should be scooping at least once or twice daily.

Perhaps you haven't kept up with this chore as you've been busy with the move. If the box is clean, consider the location. He is an older cat, and could be a little disoriented in his new surroundings so is having trouble finding the box.

Or if there are more stairs to climb to get to it, he may physically find it difficult to reach the box in time.

Try adding another box or two in different locations that might be more accessible to him. Make sure the sides of the box aren't so high that he has trouble jumping in and out of it. Experimenting with different types of litter or adding a product like Cat Attract powder may help him resume his prior bathroom habits. If these tactics don't help, you should have him checked by your veterinarian to rule out physical problems with his kidneys, bladder or perhaps pain.

If it is determined that his issues are strictly behavioral, anti-anxiety treatments may help, including natural supplements or feline pheromone diffusers. In some cases prescription medication may be the only answer.

Concentrate on trying to prevent him from going back to the dining room. Use an enzyme type cleaner to remove the soil and odor from the areas where he has gone in the dining room. It may help to cover those spots with aluminum foil temporarily to deter him from using them again. If possible, block the entrances to the room.

Always remember, it is never helpful to punish your cat for not using the box after the fact. If his reasons for not using the box are emotional, the reprimand may worsen him level of anxiety.

If you do happen to catch him getting ready to eliminate in the wrong place, you can carry him to the box and praise him for going there.

Dr. Francine K. Rattner is a veterinarian at South Arundel Veterinary Hospital in Edgewater. Please send questions to

Keeping Pets Healthy During Summer

With summer quickly approaching and with a taste of warmer weather arriving last week, it is important to maintain summer safety habits when it comes to taking care of household pets. Simple safety tips can help keep a pet healthy during the summer months.

One suggestion that Dr. Daryl E. Osborn, DVM, of Auglaize Animal Hospital, in Wapakoneta, suggests is to never leave pets unattended in vehicles.

“The thing people need to know is how quickly temperatures rise in a car,”

Osborn said, referring to a vehicle with it’s engine turned off.

Osborn said that leaving a pet in car is no different than leaving a child in the car. It only takes minutes for the temperature and humidity to rise in a car, so pet owners should never leave their animal in a vehicle during the warm days, especially while running errands.

Osborn said that the idea of leaving a dog in the car while going into a store for a “quick” few items is not valid, because a quick trip could turn into a longer trip. Also, temperatures rise incredibly fast in a vehicle, especially on the blacktop pavement, so a quick trip into the store could be fatal for the animal waiting in a car.

According to People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), every year, dogs suffer and die when their owners make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car— even for “just a minute”— while they run an errand.

Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs, because on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 to 120 degrees, in just minutes. Also, on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes, according to PETA.

Osborn said that if a dog’s temperature gets above 107 degrees, it could be fatal for the animal.

It only takes minutes for an animal to suffer brain damage or death from a heatstroke.

“They cannot get rid of excess heat easily,” Osborn said of animals.

The only way for dogs to get rid of excess heat is by panting.

Signs that an animal is overheated or under stress are excessive salivation, excessive panting, searching for wet or cools spots, being uncomfortable or restless and stress.

Osborn suggests a few ways to cool off pets, including using a hose to put water on them, putting wet towels directly on the animal or putting ice on their head to cool their internal brain temperature.

“It is important to watch out for black or dark dogs because they can get heat stroke quicker because of their color,” Osborn said.

Also, English pugs and bulldogs should be looked out for because they cannot breathe as rapidly, or move their air quickly, in the warmer weather.

In addition, proper summer safety tips include giving pets fresh water, especially during the hot days, because water can evaporate or the bowl could get knocked over.

Shelter and shade should also be provided for the animals that are outside.

Also, exercise habits are important to properly schedule in during the warm months.

“It’s better to exercise them in the early morning or later in the evening,” Osborn said.

In addition, it is important to watch the contact between lawn chemicals and pets playing in the lawn.

“Most herbicides can be toxic,” Osborn said. “Read the caution label before application.”

Osborn said pets should not be on the lawn after a lawn chemical treatment, because the chemicals in the application can be absorbed through skin, or the animals could lick themselves afterwards and they will ingest the chemicals.

“It takes one rainfall to saturate lawn chemicals,” Osborn said.

Also, Osborn noted threats from wildlife are high during the summer, so it is important to make sure all pets have their proper vaccinations.

Dog Paddle:
Water Safety Tips for Pooches and Owners

James MacKinnon gives his 4-year-old English Bulldog, Valentine, a kiss as she cools off in one of the wading pools at the Paradise Ranch Pet Resort in Los Angeles. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends never letting a dog get in water over its head until it is an accomplished swimmer. RICHARD VOGEL / AP

LOS ANGELES — When you think of four-legged swimmers, Labrador retrievers might come to mind. But any dog can take to the water if enticed properly.

"I don't think that every dog has an inherent skill. They might all have an idea what to do but some dogs do it much better than others. Some are born to swim. Some are never meant to put foot in the water," said veterinarian Karl E. Jandrey, who works in the emergency and critical care units at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis.

Valentine is a 4-year-old, 42-pound, short-snouted English bulldog with stumpy legs who is heavy on both ends and looks like she would sink if placed in water.

For three years, James MacKinnon of Los Angeles, an Emmy-winning TV and movie makeup artist, went to great lengths to protect Valentine from the swimming pool at his home. Then a year ago, he started boarding her at Paradise Ranch Pet Resort in Sun Valley (, a cage-free, luxury country club and water park for dogs about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. (You can board cats there too, but the water is off limits to them.)

It turns out Valentine loves the water. During the eight months MacKinnon traveled for work last year, with more time away this year, Valentine lost seven pounds, partly due to swimming. Her health improved, her endurance grew and she became fast friends with a Rottweiler named Chico who loves to dive off the dock.

She probably decided to try it when she saw how much fun all the other dogs — including Chico — were having, said Chico's owner, Cora Wittekind, an animal behaviorist who worked with Valentine.

The best way to turn your dog into a swimmer is to introduce water very early, as a puppy if possible, making sure the experience is pleasant, according to recommendations from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Never let dogs get in water over their heads until they are accomplished swimmers, and don't force or toss them in water.

"Don't push them to do things they don't want to do," Jandrey said.

And beware of the risks. Based on emergency room visits, one of the most common backyard pool accidents happens when dogs walk onto pool covers. If the cover collapses, the dog gets trapped, struggles and inhales water, Jandrey said. Safety covers made of solid material can run hundreds of dollars, but are worth the investment if there's a possibility your dog might jump on a soft pool cover.

Another risk, if you are at the beach and your dog drinks salt water all day, is acute salt intoxication, Jandrey said. It's easy to prevent — always carry fresh water for your dog and offer it often. A few gulps of salt water won't harm your dog, but watch for vomiting and early neurological signs of salt poisoning like dullness and depression. (The chlorine in pool water, on the other hand, is not considered a major problem for dogs.)

In fresh water, dogs can be infected by a parasite called giardia, which can hide in the most pristine of streams, Jandrey said. Usually dog and owner will get it by drinking from the same water source. Owners can also be exposed by cleaning up waste from infected dogs. Symptoms include mild diarrhea and vomiting.

Backyard ponds may bloom with mold intoxicants that can cause neurological problems, liver disease and liver failure in dogs, Jandrey said.

Owners should also know when their dogs have had enough water play. Dogs don't float, but constantly paddle with all four legs, so they might tire faster than humans, Jandrey said. Some dogs, like Chico, will just keep jumping in the water, retrieving the ball and returning for more, Wittekind said.

Panting isn't necessarily a sign of exertion, Jandrey said, it's the way dogs adjust their temperature after getting hot. But if a dog squeaks, rattles, snores or makes other unusual sounds while breathing, a break is probably warranted, he said.

During a dog's first few trips into the water, and for dogs that aren't as coordinated as Chico, life preservers or flotation devices can help, Jandrey said. Valentine wore a life vest when she went in deep water but was OK without one otherwise.

Sunburn can be a problem for lighter-skinned dogs with little or no pigment around their eyelids and noses. Some dogs have just a thin coat of hair on their bellies, so reflected light from the ground can cause sunburn. In dire cases, sunburn or chronic exposure to sunlight can lead to thermal skin cancer, Jandrey said.

Products available to protect dogs from sunburn include vests that block ultraviolet rays and sunscreen made with ingredients repellent to dogs to keep them from licking it.

Dogs don't belly-flop like people, so dock-diving won't hurt a strong dog. And with four paws, most water landings are soft, Jandrey said.

If you are going fishing, the ASPCA cautions to keep the dog away from fishing lines, lures, hooks and bait.

The ASPCA also recommends rinsing a dog's paws after contact with sand or salt water, drying a dog's ears after any water contact and brushing dogs with heavy or soft coats after a dip because wet coats can mat and trap bacteria.

You need the right toy too — one that won't sink and send your dog to the bottom of the pool to fetch it. The best water toys are made of hard rubber with a flotation device and easy-to-grab rope attached, Wittekind said.

Pet Travel:
 Advice by Land and by Sea
by Mary Anna Gentleman -

Traveling with your pet on Memorial Day weekend? Here’s a lot of food for thought for whenever you travel:

A survey conducted by AAA shows that 58 percent of Florida respondents who drive with their pet for leisure or vacation trips rarely or never restrain their pet while traveling.

An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 2,400 pounds of pressure. This amount of force can cause serious injury or death not only to the pet, but also to passengers.

Pets allowed to freely roam in a vehicle can distract drivers, especially those who let their pet sit in their lap. The survey shows 64 percent of Florida respondents think an unrestrained pet is somewhat or not at all dangerous while driving: 55 percent pet their pet; 28% let their pet to move from seat to seat; and 13% play with their pet.

In the event of a crash, an unrestrained pet can become stressed and aggressive, trying to bite paramedics or others who come to help, or the pet can flee the vehicle and injure itself or cause another accident as vehicles try to avoid hitting the animal.

AAA recommends pet owners use a restraint device anytime they are driving with their pet in the vehicle.

A couple of travel tips from the American Pet Products Association and the nonprofit Pets Add Life:

Never go without pet-waste pickup bags.

Don’t forget food and water bowls. Collapsible bowls are a space-effective solution.

If you’re taking your pet on a boat, Progressive, which offers pet-injury coverage for boaters, has this advice:

–Do a little research. Call to make sure that wherever you’re heading allows pets and ask about their policies, because many require that you keep them on a leash and don’t leave them alone.

–Assist their doggie paddle. Fit your pets with a personal flotation device or life jacket. Find one with a lifting handle to make it easy and safe to lift your pets from the water. Give them time on land to get used to wearing it.

–Help them get their sea legs. Gradually introduce your pets to your boat and the water. Give your pets a chance to explore their surroundings while the boat is docked. Turn on the engine so they get accustomed to its sound, smell and feel. Take short cruises and gradually build up to longer trips.

–Combat the sun. Protect your pets from the heat by providing shade and plenty of water, and wash the deck with cool water to protect their paws.

My Pet World:
 Carpet-Marking Cats
Might Need Professional Help
By Steve Dale -

Q. I have two indoor cats, and both are urinating on my carpets. I got the cats several years ago, and they've done this from the beginning. I provide two litter boxes and keep them clean. I bought an expensive rug shampooer to rid my house of the smell, but no luck. Any advice?

-- J.A., Richmond, Va.

A. Although you say both cats are leaving their mark, there may be a physical explanation for their behavior. For example, one cat could have cystitis, a urinary tract infection, or another physical problem, and the second cat is merely tempted by the scent. A physical exam for both cats is a good idea.

If both cats pass the exam, cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger says the rule for litter boxes, in general, is the number of cats plus one. Therefore, you should have three boxes. However, since you have a long-term problem, Krieger suggests adding as many boxes as you have space for. You should have at least two boxes for each level of your home. If you have an upstairs and a downstairs, that's four boxes.

Krieger, author of "Cat Fancy Naughty No More: Change Unwanted Behaviors Through Positive Reinforcement" (Bow Tie Press, 2010), says some of those boxes should be large plastic ones.

"While many cats don't care if the litter box is covered, most cats prefer uncovered boxes," Kreiger adds. "Most cats also prefer unscented litter. You might gradually add a special litter called Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract (available where cat litters are sold) to some of those boxes."

If your cats don't get along, that might explain why they're "hitting and running." If this is the case, you should bring in professional hands-on help to readjust those kitty attitudes.

Krieger says shampooing your rugs will clean them, but to really eliminate and not merely mask odor, you need a heavy-duty enzymatic cleaner, available from pet supply shops and some hardware stores.

Q. I read your column faithfully to better educate myself on dog care. We give our dog, Sammy the Schnoodle, a heartworm preventive, squeezing the product from a vial onto his back each month. Yet, our veterinarian says we must also pay $60 twice a year to ensure that Sammy tests negative for heartworm disease. How does this sound to you?

-- M.A.C., Buffalo, N.Y.

A. The recommendation from the American Heartworm Society (AHS) is annual testing for heartworm disease. AHS past president Dr. Sheldon Rubin explains: "It's possible some clients forget to give the preventive; if it's added to food that the pet throws up or just doesn't eat; or that with a squeezed-on product (such as you use) it may be applied incorrectly, and in very rare cases, that a product may not work. After all, nothing in this world is perfect. So, we do want to make sure the pet doesn't have heartworm disease."

However, that doesn't explain your vet's demand for twice-annual testing. Rubin says the only variance from the annual testing protocol is when a dog is newly adopted with an unknown background, when two or even three tests are suggested.

Q. My neighbor told me that my dog, Charlie, will no longer have separation anxiety if we leave him with a Kong toy. I purchased two Kong toys and stuffed them with peanut butter, but Charlie didn't seem to care about the Kongs until I returned home. Meanwhile, he tore up a sheet he'd pulled from the laundry basket and scratched at the wall while we were gone. Any advice?

-- N.U., Cyberspace

A. I believe serious behavior disorders are like diabetes or heart disease; they require a professional diagnosis. Still, based on your description, separation distress is likely the problem.

Kong toys are wonderful for dogs who are simply bored being home alone or who have mild separation issues. In fact, I believe all dogs should have Kong toys and other enrichment toys. However, it seems as if Charlie is too anxious to think about anything else in your absence. I believe he needs hands-on help from a professional - a veterinary behaviorist (, veterinarian with a special interest in behavior ( or dog behavior consultant (

On a personal note, one of our two dogs, Lucy, passed away last week, just before her 16th birthday. For half her life, Lucy worked as an animal-assisted therapy dog, helping patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago who'd suffered strokes, spinal cord injuries and severe burns.

Lucy, a miniature Australian shepherd, had a particular affinity for making people laugh. She worked with hundreds of children and adults, many of whom probably still remember the funny little dog who helped them feel better.

The American Humane Association has created the Lucy Fund to provide assistance and recognition to animal-assisted therapy dogs across the U.S. The association will also name an award in Lucy's honor at the Hero Dog Awards on Oct. 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Please consider contributing to American Humane to help all dogs who do this important work. See for more information.

Write to Steve Dale at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to

Know the Plants That Could Poison Your Pets
by Linda Kotsaftis -

DENVER - Most of us think of our yards as safe places for ourselves and our pets. We want plants that are showy and more than ever, we grow plants we can eat. What we don't think about is the hidden dangers that might be in our yards because some plants are toxic to pets.

For plants to be dangerous, of course, the animal has to eat them. Sometimes we simply don't make the connection that the dog has chewed up a plant and that's why he's sick.

There are three categories of plants to think about in terms of pets: common landscape plants, weeds and edibles.

Some plants are mildly toxic while others are very toxic. The size of your pet is a factor as well as how much of a given plant is ingested. Always consult your veterinarian with specific questions.

Here are some common landscape plants you might want to avoid:

- Foxglove digitalis - can cause heart failure.

- Lilies-including Easter lily, tiger lily, day lily, lily of the valley and Asiatic/oriental lily. They will cause GI upset and vomiting in dogs. Day lilies will cause renal failure in cats.

- Spring bulbs. Daffodil foliage, for example, will cause GI upset, but the bulb itself can cause seizures. Most spring-flowering bulbs will be toxic if the dog digs them up and chews them.

- Iris rhizomes are also toxic.

- Tall ornamental grasses. Dogs often eat these plants and the grass blades can cut their stomachs.

We don't think of the fruits and veggies we eat being toxic to our pets. But with more of us becoming gardeners, we need to be aware that some of our common edibles aren't for our pets. Plants in the onion family-mature and green onions, garlic and leeks-are all toxic raw and still toxic when cooked.

Rhubarb is another popular garden plant that is also toxic to pets. If you grow hops to brew your own beer, be aware that it, too, is toxic for pets. Chamomile, which some gardeners grow for tea, is another pet toxin.

In terms of fruits, grapes are very toxic to dogs, in particular, and that includes dried grapes-i.e., raisins. The seeds of stone fruits such as peaches, cherries and apples contain cyanide which can poison pets. If you have fruit trees, notice whether your pet eats fallen fruit and how much it eats. Asking your vet about toxic levels for your pet is a good idea.

Finally, the plants we all hate - weeds - offer another pet danger. But before we talk about weeds, we need to warn you NOT to pull them when the dog is around. When dogs see us pulling out weeds, it teaches them to dig and pull up plants which of course, ruins the yard and might make them sick. Because some weeds like pursalane are toxic to animals, keeping your yard weed-free is a pet-friendly move.

Mushrooms can be a serious threat to pets and require special care to control. Especially after a wet spring, they will grow all over stumps, firewood and in the lawn.

They are spread through the spores in the mushroom cap-so mowing or raking them only spreads the spores to grow more 'shrooms. Wear a disposable glove or baggie, pick them and put them in a bag that goes in the trash. Don't put them in the compost bin.

Final tip: if you compost, use an enclosed tumbler bin. The smell of an open compost pile attracts animals and the bacteria in decomposing matter can make them sick.

ALCC wishes to thank Denver area veterinarian, Kris Ahlgrim, D.V.M., Goldenview Veterinary, for providing information for this article. If you have specific questions about how toxic certain plants in our yard might be for your pet, consult your vet. Information also courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, sponsors of the 9NEWS gardens. For landscape help, go to

Yes, Some Cats Can Be Trained to Use the Toilet

LOS ANGELES—Barbara Ogburn was waiting for guests to arrive for a dinner party when her Siamese cat Toby went to use his litter box.

"The guest bathroom smelled horrible and there was litter everywhere," Ogburn said. "I looked at him and said, 'Dude, your litter box is gone.'"

Someone had given Ogburn a Litter Kwitter, a three-step training kit that teaches cats to use a toilet instead of a litter box. She decided to try it, and it worked. Now Ogburn, who's had cats since she was a child, says she will never again have a litter box. No more buying litter, lugging it home, or cleaning it up.

Litter Kwitter and other toilet-training kits on the market for cats work like this: The toilet seat is fitted with a series of plastic rings the cat can step on so it doesn't fall in. The hole in the rings gets larger over time, until the cat can simply balance on the toilet seat.

But training a cat to use the toilet is not as easy as getting a cat to use a litter box. Cats instinctively bury their waste to hide it from predators, and litter fosters that instinct in a way that using the toilet does not, according to Steve Duno of Seattle, a veteran pet behaviorist and trainer who has written 18 books.

That's why, when switching to the toilet, some cats will scrape the bowl, the tank or the wall next to the toilet. Outdoor cats are not good candidates for toilet-training.

In addition, some cats tolerate change in their routines, while for others, even a slight change in feeding schedules will make their worlds fall apart, said Dr. Meghan E. Herron, chief veterinarian at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic, part of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Services at Ohio State University.

"Cats are slaves to routine and very wary of danger to themselves," Duno added.

And there is nothing about the size or height of a toilet that is normal to a cat, Herron said. "One bad experience with a toilet can make them never use it again," she said.

Duno, who has toilet-trained several cats, says he's "known cats that have fallen into the toilet and that's it, you're done right there."

You also need patience. "Cats learn at a very metered pace," Duno said. If you go too fast, your cat might find other places—furniture, plants, rugs or closets—to go, Herron said.

When you talk about toilet-trained cats, most people think of Mr. Jinx, Robert De Niro's beloved, toilet-flushing, mayhem-making cat in "Meet the Parents," "Meet the Fockers" and "Little Fockers."

Dawn M. Barkan trained all the Himalayan cats that portrayed Mr. Jinx in those movies, including two rescued cats, Peanut and Charlie, who still live with her.

Misha, who has since died, did the original scene, but "we didn't really train him to use the toilet," said Barkan, who freelances for Los Angeles-based Birds & Animal Unlimited. "It's movie magic." The cat sat on a prop designed to look like a toilet and pressed a button so that the toilet appeared to be flushed. Sound effects were added later.

The idea for Litter Kwitter came from "Meet the Parents," said Jo Lapidge, who with her husband Terry invented the kit.

After research and tests, the Sydney, Australia, couple launched their company in 2005. Since then, they've sold 750,000 kits.

Lapidge says the kit has an 80 percent success rate that "would be higher if humans stopped to follow all the instructions and showed a bit more patience."

In addition to toilet-training products with plastic rings—ranging in price from lightweight plastic for about $10 to Litter Kwitter at $50— there are also online how-to sites and books that explain how to toilet-train your cat.

Online customer reviews for the products are mixed. Even those who say they've been successful often say it took several months to complete the training, with the cat having accidents along the way. One commenter for a toilet-training kit for a product called CitiKitty gave it five stars but cautioned that the process was "messy."

There is one disadvantage for cat-owners who successfully train their animals. Owners may be alerted to health problems by how often a cat uses its litter box or the odor, color or texture of waste. With a toilet, "you can't monitor the cat's health through elimination evidence," Duno said.

In addition, as a toilet-trained cat ages, it may have a hard time leaping onto the seat.

Herron cautioned that a cat is likely to find another place to go rather than wait in line at a bathroom door, so a spare or guest bathroom the animal can use works best.

One benefit in addition to doing away with litter: Toilets diminish the risk of humans contracting parasites or infectious diseases like toxoplasmosis, ringworm or tapeworm from cat waste.

Finally, no matter how happy you might be to have toilet-trained your cat, Duno said this is one animal behavior that shouldn't be rewarded with a treat.

"You are choreographing it, but you are not actively encouraging it," Duno said. "You can't be there to praise the cat. It's too distracting."

Mummy's the Word for Pet-Wrap Star

She’s the queen of the vile.

A Brooklyn "sorceress" is the go-to ghoul for grieving pet owners looking to give their lost loved ones eternal life — by making them into mini mummies.

PD Cagliastro of Brooklyn is one of the only macabre mystics in the country slinging animal mummification services based on the ancient Egyptian art. It took her 20 years to figure out the formula by studying embalming, consulting with chemistry students and reading the few scraps of ancient Egyptian texts out there.

"It was a sick fascination," said Cagliastro, who works and lives in her "house of death" with her teenage daughter and husband, an exterminator.

PALS FOR ETERNITY: Sebastian Duque and his deceased kitty.

The witchy woman has channeled her services for 120 customers, preserving everything from a championship Connecticut racing pigeon to cats cut short by killer cars.

"There was something really special about him," said Sebastian Duque, 26, a web designer who had his cat, Jake, mummified after it was hit by a car in 2008. His frog, Alice, was also preserved in linen and plaster. Jack is now perched on top of his bookshelf in his Upper East Side apartment, and Alice lives in a drawer.

Cagliastro removes the animal’s organs and dries out the rest by submerging it in a salt mixture for months. The stinky remains are scraped out and stashed in biohazard boxes in her Sunset Park pad.

"We have our putrid days. That’s when we know it’s a labor of love," said Cagliastro, who is teaching a sold-out mummification class at the Observatory gallery in Brooklyn next Sunday.

After wrapping and plastering, the form is painted. Some customers choose to place the pet in a decorative box or have gems and gold affixed to the remains. The services cost between $100 and $400.

Cagliastro has been tapped to wrap a tarantula, caiman crocodile and snake eggs. She turned a cattle heart into macabre sculpture for a Midwest rancher who wants to use it to woo back his estranged girlfriend.

Her kooky clients come from all over the world, some going so far as to drive their lost pets from Washington and Oklahama to her altar.

Heart-broken men make up 70 percent of her business, she said.

"When my cat died, I had supreme sadness. I was completely destroyed by it," said Turner, 55, an Upper East Side businessman who refused to disclose his last name for fear of being ridiculed. Cagliastro mummified his cat and mounted it on a black velvet cushion last year, and Turner keeps it tucked away in a glass cabinet in his brownstone.

"It’s very personal. Even people I know well, I can’t say that this is my mummified cat in the corner. They would think you are crazy," he explained.

Cagliastro’s lifelong dream is to mummify a human, and she’s already got plenty of interest from those looking to be immortalized for eternity, she said.

One woman has built a chapel in her Midwest home in preparation, Cagliastro said. "She wants to be entombed like a pharaoh."

How to Feed a Scorpion
Erin Ryan -

Aww, he tried to sting my eyes out.

For most residents of the Las Vegas Valley, pets are furry and sweat through their tongues. Even those who go more exotic usually opt for a parrot or an iguana (or the occasional urban tiger), never thinking that the perfect pet might glow under a black light.

That’s right, people. All this time you could have been making friends with those scorpions in your attic, or so says Not only does the site tell you how to capture and train a pet scorpion, it also offers tips on feeding them (hint: it is neither cute nor advisable for you to tempt them with a live cricket held in your teeth).

The following is a summary of eHow-recommended things to know should you desire to build a relationship with a venomous arachnid. Maybe not the one that creeps across your face while you sleep ...

1) “Feed a potentially dangerous animal only when you know its habits well.” Scorpion danger is actual—not potential—so do your research.

2) The type of prey your scorpion buddy eats will depend on age, size and natural habitat. Once you know its flavor, you can raise your own live crickets, grasshoppers or even small lizards. For the faint of heart, try pet stores.

3) Feeding should unfold like so: Open the lid of your scorpion’s enclosure. Pick up prey with tongs and drop them into the lair. Do not pet your happily feasting scorpion, even if it wags its tail.

Catseye Pest ControlIf scorpions don’t strike you as the kind of creature you’d name and take to the park, local company Catseye Pest Control just posted its “Top 7 Common Sense Tips to Keep Scorpions Out of Your House.”

Luis Pabon, technical director of Catseye, had this to say: “If you live in the southwest, you worry every morning about putting your shoes on only to be stung by a scorpion.” Maybe that’s just what happens when a scorpion tries to bring you your slippers …

These simple steps could solve or at least facilitate the solving of your problem:

7) Close or caulk door openings, screen openings and window cracks so scorpions can't get into the house.

6) Dust and vacuum in corners and normally undisturbed places where scorpions hide.

5) Eliminate the scorpion’s prey (crickets, spiders, and other insects) by using common pesticides.

4) Common pesticides don’t work well on scorpions. Contact a professional pest control company if considering applying chemicals.

3) Eliminate outdoor places where scorpions can hide, such as trash piles, rock piles, decaying wood or piles of junk.

2) Don't walk around the house at night in bare feet.

1) Hire a professional pest control company to do a black light inspection to determine if there is a scorpion infestation, since scorpions glow.

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