Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bottled Water for the Dogs

I guess this can be put in the "people will buy anything for their pet" category. This comes to us from Connecticut: A bottled water for dogs. Here's the best part -- Company officials said the water is pure spring water with nothing added and nothing taken out.

by News Channel 8's Bob WilsonPosted Hartford (WTNH) _ Pampering your pet is nothing new for people that love their animals and a new product may have your dog drooling for more.

The dog days of summer may be over, but Rover still gets thirsty and one company in New Britain is banking on a new dog drink.

The latest to cash in on the billion dollar pet pampering profits is Woof Water. It is bottled by Avery's Beverages in New Britain and it hit store shelves in Connecticut this week.

"We've been getting calls from all around the country. People have heard about Woof Water and they want it so the phone has been ringing off the hook," said Rob Metz of Avery's Beverages. "It's just basic spring water, but it's for dogs."

"I think there are people out there that will totally buy it. Just take a look around, they will buy anything for their pets," said Jake Fischer of West Hartford.

At a dog bakery in West Hartford, they just received Woof Water and it's going to the dogs.
"We will try it out on a lot of our clients. We have a Yappy Hour every Thursday night where the dogs can play in the store. Sometimes when we have a new product we might test it out on that and see what the feedback is," said Dana Pound.

Woof Water costs about as much as a bottle of people water.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Degu

I ventured on over to the reptile/rodent/bunny/bird section of our local pet store, and came across a furry little rodent, that was mesmerizing to watch. Although I could never admit to enjoying a rodent (aren't they considered pests?), this one was had my attention for a while.

It some ways, it was like a little fluffy stuffed animal, that you just want to hold in your hand. They were lively and friendly. A little research reveals more about this little pet:

Degus are very social animals and can become very tame if handled from an early age. However, they do best if kept with other degus because of their social nature. They are playful and curious. Without social interaction and opportunity for exercise, they can be aggressive and neurotic. Degus are diurnal (active during the day). In the wild they live in communities (much like prairie dogs) and dig an elaborate system of burrows to live in.

Degus need a large cage. For a couple of degus a minimum of 24 inches by 18 inches by 24 inches tall is about the minimum size. Larger is definitely better and large multilevel cages such as those made for ferrets or chinchillas are ideal. The cage should be made of wire since degus are avid chewers. However, the cage must have a solid (not wire) floor and shelves and ledges should also be made of a solid surface since degus are prone to foot problems.

As with other small animals, avoid cedar or pine shavings. Provide an absorbent layer of pet-safe bedding in the bottom of the cage.

Another interesting care fact of these pets: degus need regular dust baths to keep their skin and coat in good condition. Provide a shallow bowl with an inch or two of chinchilla bath dust (sand) a couple of times a week (leave in the cage for a half hour or so).

The basis of a good degu diet is a combination of high quality chinchilla or guinea pig pellets, and rodent blocks. Grass hay (such as timothy hay) should be available all the times. A variety of fresh vegetables can be given, especially sweet potato (peeled, uncooked), carrots, broccoli, leafy greens, green beans, and dandelion leaves (must be pesticide-free). These should be offered in small quantities only or they may cause diarrhea. Vegetables that are members of the cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale) should be fed only in very small quantities and some degu experts advise avoiding them altogether.

So, if you're looking for an interesting new pet, check out the degu!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A day at the Pet Expo

I was able to attend the annual pet expo in Hartford, CT this past weekend. The event is geared towards to the pet owner and includes various vendors, adoption shelters, pet contests and special shows.

What I noticed more about this year’s event is how many non-pet vendors had booths. I guess if you have a large room full of people, why not try to sell your stuff. The non-pet vendors ran the scope of life and included a chiropractor, home-made fudge, a travel agent, and the fast-talking sales people of the orange shammies (they soak up your pet stain fast, I guess)

Although it is called a pet expo, really the focus is on dogs and cats. For us aquatic pet lovers, there was nothing to be found. Same goes for all other exotic animals. As for the items being sold, everyone had their niche. I noticed a lot more “natural” food vendors, with all kinds of brands that I have never heard of before. Add in the home-made pet food bakery, and there was no shortage of new foods to sample.

Other displays included the ‘usual’ that you find at these fairs – clothes, collars, leashes, groomers, and vet care to name a few. All with their own twist or gimmick. From “home-made” products to those with fancy designs, there was no shortage of choices.

The more unique vendors included pet photography, pet portraits (get a painting of you and your pets), holistic care (aromatherapy, soothing drops), an animal communicator, animal massage, and a booth featuring a tooth spray for dogs. A mobile groomer had their van as their display, and did grooming right at the expo.

Overall, a day at the expo is always a good time, and you meet some great people and see some new products. Plus, lots of free samples!! Although I go to a lot of these events, I always seem to come across a new product that is designed to make a pet owners life easier.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Do Dogs Feel Love?
Check out this well written article about dogs and if they feel love. There really isn't a definitive answer, but this article presents some good arguements.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Local Fairs Full of Pet Stuff

Another sign of how much the pet industry has grown is the seemingly increasing number of pet vendors at local fairs. Although I don't have any statistics to back it up (us marketing people love stats), based on observation, everywhere I turn, there is someone selling something pet related.

Take for example the Big E (Eastern States Exposition). This yearly event held for two weeks in Massachussets at the end of September represents the states of New England. Every year, I notice more and more displays dedicated to pets. And they all have their own angle, from home made pet treats (I never saw these sold at fairs until recently), to home made pet clothes, to speciality themed pet collars and leashes, there is always something to be found. And, it's not just those dedicated just to pets that are commonly found these days. Even non-pet specific vendors are selling pet products. Stands selling ornaments, stockings, and embroidered towels, and just an example of vendors who are adding pet products to their already large inventory of products.

Other, more localized, smaller fairs are also seeing pet vendors. We generally go to 3 or 4 local fairs a year, and there is always someone selling something pet related. Most of the time, it's the generic stuff found in stores, though other times its items so unique, I need to get an explaination of how it works.

Do these fairs bring in any business for the pet vendors? In speaking to some of them, fairs tend to be hit or miss. At some fairs, people are coming with their pockets full ready to spend on their pets, other times, not so much. However, those with websites say they do get an increase in hits during fall fair season stemming from the tons of fliers and business cards they give out to people.

Whether or not that leads to increased sales, however, is hard to guage. But based on the fact that these pet vendors are everywhere at fairs nowadays, I'm guessing the increased exposure is well worth the time, money and effort.

Everywhere you turn, there is a new pet business popping up.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dog "Hot Spots"

Recently, it seems like my dog is at the doctor more then I am. As a dog owner, you not only learn all about behavior, but you learn about dog health conditions. Unfortunately, I had to learn about dog "hot spots."

Dog hot spots are a result of a skin condition officially called pyotraumatic dermatitis. It is a bacterial infection that develops and rapidly spreads in the skin. Hot spots are painful to the dog, can emit pus and smell badly. Hair loss from around the infected area is common. Because dog hot spots are so painful and irritating many dogs will bite and scratch the area causing the infection to spread.

Although hot spots are most common in dogs with thick coats, they can occur in any breed. A common cause for hot spots is moisture getting caught next to the dog's skin, making an ideal spot for an infection to start. Moisture can become trapped by matted fur, a dog collar, or simply thick fur. Many times chronic dog hot spots stem from an allergic condition (which is most likely the case in my pup). Though some dogs are simply more prone to hot spots than others.

It is best to treat hot spots quickly to prevent further spreading of the infection, and for the relief of your dog. Also, some dogs will scratch at a hot spot to the point of breaking the skin. This makes the condition even more painful, and provides the opportunity for a more serious infection to occur.

As for the source of Rocco's condition? We know he has seasonal allergies. Plus, recently, someone bought our dog some generic "commercial" dog treats as a gift. Since we normally feed him so-called premium treats, it's possible that he has food allergies and the generic dog treats caused him to break out with the hot spot. That, combined with having thick fur, could be the cause. Hopefully, this will be the last time we have to worry about hot spots.

Stupid Animal Jokes

A horse walks into a bar, he sits down and the bartender asks him, "Why the long face?" The second horse walks in with jumper cables attached to it's head, he sits down, and the bartender says, "I don't mind the long face, but don't u go and try to start anything!"


A man was driving down the road with twenty penguins in the back seat. The police stop him and say that he can't drive around with the penguins in the car and should take them to the zoo. The man agrees and drives off. The next day the same man is driving down the road with twenty penguins in the back and again. He is stopped by the same police officer who says, "Hey! I though I told you to take those to the zoo." The man replies "I did. Today I'm taking them to the movies."


What do whales like to chew? A: Blubber gum!


Q: What did the fish say when it hit a concrete wall? A: DAM


A man goes to a bar with his dog. He goes up to the bar and asks for a drink. The bartender says "You can't bring that dog in here!" The guy, without missing a beat, says "This is my seeing-eye dog." "Oh man, " the bartender says, "I'm sorry, here, the first one's on me." The man takes his drink and goes to a table near the door. Another guy walks in the bar with a Chihuahua. The first guys sees him, stops him and says "You can't bring that dog in here unless you tell him it's a seeing-eye dog." The second man graciously thanks the first man and continues to the bar. He asks for a drink. The bartender says "Hey, you can't bring that dog in here!" The second man replies "This is my seeing-eye dog." The bartender says, "No, I don't think so. They do not have Chiwauas as seeing-eye dogs." The man pauses for a half-second and replies "What?!?! They gave me a Chihuahua?!?"


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lab tests find acetaminophen in petfood again

There hasn't been much in the news lately about the pet food industry. Seems like the problems have quieted a bit. But in doing some searches on the industry, I came across this very recent article:

ExperTox detected the painkiller in Menu Food's Special Kitty food

Monday, October 22, 2007
According to and ExperTox Analytical Laboratories, recent laboratory tests have detected the pain killer acetaminophen in another brand of petfood. The findings came in a composite of three flavors of Menu Foods' Special Kitty food: Special Kitty with beef and gravy, Special Kitty mixed grill in gravy and Special Kitty with turkey and gibblets in gravy. The tests were performed in early October by ExperTox, who also detected the toxin of melamine in the cat food.

The samples were taken from a Rhode Island pet owner who bought the Special Kitty food in February - one month before Menu announced the nationwide recall. According to the pet owner, she sent the food in the original, unopened pouches which she'd saved since March and stored in her freezer after her cats fell ill.

Wild Fires

Although I only post about pets, I'm sitting here watching coverage of this wildwire. I can't imagine the pain and fear these people are going through. Every story seems more sad then the one before.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families suffering through these wildfires. The only saving grace is that at least there have been very few deaths. But for the homes that were lost, those familities had a part of their life taken away from them in this inferno.

And since this is a pet blog, I'm sure there are countless pets who might not survive the fires. Again, our thoughts go out to everyone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I found some good information on Halloween safety.

-First off, leaving your pet outside may not be a good idea since there are always tales of malicious people who tease, injure, steal, torture, even killed pets on Halloween. Not to mention that dogs and cats can scare easily with all the trick-or-treaters coming to your house.

-As much as your dog or cat may beg for some of your Halloween candy, always remember that chocolate is deadly to them in any amount.

-This is the time of year that can be deadly for black cats. Some people who play at being what they'll call a Satanist will take them to "sacrifice."

-The wrappers, such as tin foil, can get stuck in your pets digestive tract and make them ill or cause death.

-Even the friendliest pet may feel threatened or scared with all the extra activity. Door bells ringing, strange looking people, all kinds of unusual stuff. This could cause the dog to become aggressive and potentially bite or attack. Therefore, take extra caution before letting strangers near your pet.

-Dogs can have lethal tails, wagging all over the place. Don't leave any lighted candles or Jack-O-Lanterns where they could be knocked over by a swinging tail or by a curious cat. Not only could your pet start a fire but they could severely burn themselves in the process.

-If you are going to dress your pet in a costume, keep in mind that unless the dog or cat is extremely receptive to this kind of thing, you could be causing it discomfort and stress. Some animals don't mind at all but others do not want to be bothered with this kind of thing. They'll be under enough stress with the festivities going on outside and people at the door constantly so don't cause them any more nervousness then you have to. You may love to dress in costume but then, you aren't a dog or a cat.

-If you put a mask of some type on your animal, make sure that the eye holes are big enough for them to see peripherally. Animals depend on their vision to let them know what's going on and even the nicest dog can get snippy if he can't see what's around him. In fact, masks really aren't a good idea.

-If you are having a indoor party, make sure that you put your dog or cat in a room where they won't be disturbed. Unless your pet is ultra friendly and doesn't mind loud noises, music and lots of people you should keep them separate for the night.

-Be careful your cat or dog doesn't dart out through the open door as you hand out candy. Best bet is to just put them in a room with some food and water for the night and check on them once in a while to let them know everything is fine.

Portions of these tips taken from

Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Webloggin, The Pink Flamingo, The Amboy Times, Adeline and Hazel, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pet massacre in Puerto Rico

This is a terrible story that really hasn't gotten much coverage...probably because it didn't involved any pro athletes or celebrities....but still, this just can't be tolerated.

By MICHAEL MELIA, Associated Press Writer Sat Oct 13, 3:37 PM ET
BARCELONETA, Puerto Rico - Elvia Tirado Polanco says she reluctantly handed over her black- and white-spotted mutt to animal control workers after they threatened that she would be evicted from her housing project for keeping a pet there.

The workers promised to take the small dog named "Lucero" — or "Star" — to a shelter. Days later, however, Tirado was horrified to learn that dozens of pets seized this week in Barceloneta on Puerto Rico's north coast were instead thrown to their deaths from a bridge.

"It was barbaric," said Tirado, 56, who wept Saturday as she described caring for the seven-year-old dog. "This has been a really hard blow for all of us."

Several pet owners inside the Antonio Davila Freytes housing project, one of three raided by animal control workers Monday and Wednesday, said they had provided vaccinations and lavished care on the cats and dogs taken from their homes and killed with strays.

The government circulated a letter inside housing projects this month warning that violators of a no-pet policy would be evicted. Mayor Sol Luis Fontanez said the town ordered the removal of the pets, but he blamed the massacre on a contractor hired to take the animals to a shelter.

Fontanez said he would cancel the city's contract with Puerto Rico-based Animal Control Solutions and that city lawyers were considering a lawsuit.
Company owner Julio Diaz said he went to the bridge when he heard of the allegations, but denied that the dead animals were the ones his company collected. He said he would present his records as proof to city authorities on Monday.

"I have the dead dogs in my facility," he said Saturday. "I am a certified animal control officer. I have been doing this for nine years."

Puerto Rico's housing department has opened an investigation into who is responsible for the deaths, said Doris Gaetan, of the department's office of community relations. She said regulations in the U.S. Caribbean territory allow pets in government-funded housing projects if they are small and do not pose a risk to others.

"We do not support the way in which this was done," Gaetan said during a visit to hear the accounts of pet owners at one of the complexes.
A local resident, Jose Manuel Rivera, used a backhoe to bury the bodies of about 50 animals Saturday in a mass grave near the bridge where they were dumped.

He discovered the animals around dawn Tuesday after hearing barking and whimpers from animals who survived the 50-foot fall. He recovered six injured dogs, who were reunited with their owners after they saw their pets on a television news broadcast.

"One had a broken spine, and about all of them had broken legs," Rivera said.

Many of the pets inside the housing project were strays that were adopted by residents after wandering into the low-income neighborhood. Owners said they feel they are now paying the price for the neglect of others on an island with no pet registration law and little spaying or neutering.

"It is not our fault that they come here," said Carmen Valle, 56, who said workers seized two of her dogs. "We are humble people, but we have good hearts. Animals should be treated with decency."

Tirado said she had cared for Lucero for seven years as if the dog were her child, feeding her from the plastic table in her cramped living room and letting her sleep beside her at night.

During the raids, she said workers surrounded the housing complex and prevented anyone from leaving with pets. But she said she wishes she had never let Lucero go.

"I have been crying so much I can barely sleep," she said.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Fish Keeping Obsession

In most cases, having a fish tank starts out as a hobby. However, sometimes, I feel as if I'm starting to become obsessed. Fish are relatively inexpensive when compared to the costs of many other animals, and with so many varieties and types, it is easy to become obsessive about the hobby.

At first, one tank with some community fish is great, but then you want to keep more fish, so you look to purchase a bigger tank. But after a while, as your fish get bigger, and you get bored of the species you own, and you want to get a bigger, newer tank. With more fish. Or perhaps you want to keep the fish you own, but you want to try a different species that isn't compatible with your current fish. So you start a second tank with a different species. But maybe you want to try your hand at breeding fish, which then of course may require some type of breeding tank. And then you want to keep some of the fish you bred, so you need a bigger tank to keep those fish, and the cycle starts all over again.

I know people who love the hobby so much they have their own fish room Which is fine, but if the hobby starts to consume you, it may become a problem.

I've also gone to fish auctions. These are usually sponsored by aquarium fish clubs and it features hobbyists who breed their own fish and bring them to auction off to other aquarium enthusiasts. Again, you see people who have several fish tanks, perhaps obsessed by them, but also bring tons of knowledge to share with others.In my opinion, it's a matter of how it effects your life. If it is something you enjoy, and it doesn't interfere with the rest of your life too much, then enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ellen’s Dog – Do Right by Iggy

This Ellen dog debacle has blown up and there are a lot of issues at play. The issues of dog adoptions, contracts, reading the contracts, and being right are all being thrown around. But isn’t the goal of a shelter to find a good home for a dog? Shouldn’t the dog come first?

Unfortunately, in this case, it seems being right is more important then doing right. Yes, Ellen should have read the contract and should have known that the dog gets returned to the shelter, or at least notify them, if it wasn’t compatible. But, Ellen had the best interest of the dog at heart when she gave it to her hairdresser. Plus, the hairdresser already had a dog, so it’s not like she doesn’t know how to care for one.

Ellen’s wrong doesn’t make the shelter right. This shelter is worried about the wrong things, and their practices of not placing the dog in the forefront makes me wonder about dealing with shelters as a whole.

The other thing that irks me with the shelter is their rule of not adopting to anyone with kids under the age of 14. The hairdresser’s children, of course, are both under this age. What kind of rule is that? So you’re telling me that families with younger children can’t handle a dog? The shelter’s reasoning is that it is for the protection of the dog. I can understand certain dogs aren’t good to have around children, but that should be a case by case basis; not a blanket rule.

I saw a brief interview with the lady that owns the shelter. She came across as arrogant and heartless. She was more worried about following her so-called rules, rather then what’s best for the dog and for the family who is loving the dog; wanting to care for the dog, and wanting to be a good home for the dog. Isn’t that supposed to be the goal of the shelter- finding a good home?

This story also touches my life in that our second dog, Kelso, had sort of a similar story. He started in a home that couldn’t care for him, went to a second home where he wasn’t compatible with the other pets, and finally came to us (not including the time spent at the breeder’s and the store where he was originally purchased). Because of his bouncing around from place to place, he had a hard time adjusting to us, his third family. I’m sure the same is true for Iggy, and bouncing him around from place to place like a toy can’t be in the best interest of the dog.

If the shelter wants to enforce their rule that they need to be informed when an adopted dog changes hands, then at the very least, give this new family a chance to keep the dog. Bend your meaningless “under the age of 14” rule for the sake of doing right by the Iggy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fish Get Insomnia Too

Interesting article through Reuters new service about a study of a certain tropical fish that gets has sleeping problems. I guess I'm not the only one :-)

By Jill Serjeant Mon Oct 15, 9:25 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fish might not have eyelids, but they do sleep, and some suffer from insomnia, scientists reported on Monday.

California scientists studying sleep disorders in humans found that some zebrafish, a common aquarium pet, have a mutant gene that disrupts their sleep patterns in a way similar to insomnia in humans.

Zebrafish with the mutant gene slept 30 percent less than fish without the mutation. When they finally drifted off they remained asleep half as long as the normal fish, the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine said.

The mutant fish lacked a working receptor for hypocretin, a neuropeptide that is secreted in normal fish by neurons in the region of the brain that controls hunger, sex and other basic behaviours.

Zebrafish, also known as zebra danio, have become popular research subjects because they are cheaper to breed than mice and they have a backbone that better represents the human nervous system than fruit flies.

The researchers, led by Emmanuel Mignot, said they would look for fish that have a mutation that causes them to oversleep or never sleep in the hope of discovering if sleep-regulating molecules and brain networks developed through evolution.

"Many people ask the questions, 'Why are we sleeping?' and, 'What is the function of sleep?'" Mignot said. "I think it is more important to figure out first how the brain produces and regulates sleep. This will likely give us important clues on how and maybe why sleep has been selected by natural evolution and is so universal."

The study was published in Tuesday's edition of the Public Library of Science-Biology.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rocco's Hot Dog Costume

Rocco enjoyed wearing his hotdog costume last year for Halloween. His face says it all!

By the way, check out the Halloween costume contest at http://

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Connecticut Pet Expo

There is a yearly pet expo coming up that I would recommend to anyone who is near CT to check out. I've attended in the past and it was well worth my time.

It's The 16th Annual CT Pet Show & TICA Cat Show, which takes place in Hartford. It features The AKC Parade of Purebred Dogs, with over 150 purebred dog breeds, The (TICA) International Cat Association Cat Show, with over 100 breeds of exotic and domestic purebred cats, The Rarities Rare and Ancient Dog Breed Show, featuring rare & AKC registered breeds in a live dog show competition, plus over 125 vendors offering unique, one-of-a-kind pet products & services.

Here is the link for more info.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Iguana as a Pet

I'm always drawn to the reptile section of my local pet store. Apparently I'm not the only one! Iguanas are becoming more popular as pets.

Before getting an iguana, however, there are several things you need to seriously think about:
As with any pet, proper feeding, housing, and caring for your iguana is going to take time and money. Many diseases in iguanas are due to improper nutrition and environment. Do you know how to supply their basic needs?

Even with proper nutrition and housing, iguanas may develop health problems or become injured. You need to be willing to provide the necessary health care for your iguana?

Iguanas grow. An iguana might look cute when they are first hatched, but, what are you going to do when the iguana reaches several feet in length, and needs a cage the size of a small room?

It's also important to recognize the temperature needs of an iguana before taking one home. Iguanas are cold-blooded and require supplemental heat for proper digestion. They prefer 84-90ºF during the day and 70-77º at night. If a reptile is cold, it cannot properly digest its food and is more likely to become ill. Lizards like a temperature gradient so if they are cold, they can move to a warmer part of the cage and vice versa. Place a good quality thermometer in the cage at the level the iguana spends most of its time so you can monitor the temperature.

As with any pet, you have to watch out for the potential that animal has of bringing bacteria and diseases into your household. Many iguanas harbor the salmonella bacteria, so great care needs to be taken when handling your pet, including proper and thorough hand-washing.

As I always ask on this blog, please do your research before taking any new pet into your home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Practicalities of Dog Clothes

I've written about this in the past, and yet I still don't have a conclusion to my internal debate of whether or not dog clothes are worth purchasing. I admit, we treat our dog like a person some times. Most of the clothes we buy are good quality and design, but I often wonder if I'm buying it just for our sake, or does a sweater really help the dog in the winter. Other clothes, like his polo shirt, help dress him up and give him a personality. But, it only gives him a personality in the human sake. Does another dog come up to my pup and think, "what a great dresser. I love the outfit!?" Somehow I highly doubt it!

But if dressing the dog in clothes doesn't do any harm, and in the people sense it bring joy to our lives, then I guess, why the heck not put on a shirt? Besides of course the costs of such items.

So, here we have the shirt. Then comes the whole problem of size. I have enough problems buying clothes that fit me properly, and now here I am trying to decide if my dog needs a medium or a large. Another problem with the clothing is how it is cut. We bought a sweater made for a dog, but it covered his privates...which of course I realized the hard way, when my dog lifted his leg and essentially peed his pants.

Another issue is where, or even if, there is a hole cut out so that we can put the sweater/shirt on him over his harness, and still be able to clip his leash on through the cut out in the shirt. Some don't have the cut out, some are just in places that don't work out too well.

A lot of whether it is practical for a dog to wear clothing depends on the type of dog, and if the pet is patient enough to let you put the clothing on him in the first place.I'm also amazed at how the market for pet clothes continues to grow. A big retail clothing chain meant for humans has a little section for dog clothes. There are pet boutiques and specialty stores. I was in Atlantic City and saw specialty pet shops in the casino. It's a huge market which keeps growing. And, I'm guilty of participating in the market!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fish as Pets

As a life-long fish keeper, the question oftens come up as to whether or not fish are high maintanence pets. The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. First, there are the differences between fresh-water set-ups versus salt-water. Having a salt-water tank is much more time consuming and high maintenance then fresh water set-ups.

For those looking for less maintenance, fresh water is by far the choice to make. The advantages to a fresh water set-up is that once the initial set-up is completed, the daily maintenance of the fish are basically just feeding and checking to see if there are any problems with the fish.

By looking for problems, I am referring to checking for unusual behavior, looking for any damaged fins, and checking for any signs of disease or fungus. By observing your fish for a few minutes everyday, you'll start to see what their "normal" behavior is, so that you can spot abnormal behavior.

Another thing to look at is the tank itself. Are there any water marks on the outside of the tank? Is water seeping out somewhere or splashing too much? Is the water level of the tank low? It is common for water to evaporate out of the tank, but if there are streams of water marks on the side of the tank, you could have a bigger problem.

Freshwater Fish also need weekly and monthly maintenance choirs. Once the tank is established (i.e., been running for more then a couple of months), you still need to stay on top of checking the water quality of the aquarium. By water quality, you should check the PH level weekly (the amount of PH varies based on what type of fish you have) and the ammonia level (ammonia, even in small amounts, can be fatal to fish). Water softness/harness can also be a factor is you are keeping fish that are sensitive to the amount of harness (dissolved minerals) that are in the water.

As for monthly chores, the tank filter media should be cleaned or replaced at least once a month. Partial water changes are also of importance. An aquarium is an enclosed environment. Fish are excreting waste in the same water they are living and breathing. There is also decaying food in the tank producing ammonia. It is for this reason the tank water must be changed approximately every two weeks. When changing the water, a water conditioner must be added in order to remove any chlorine and other items in tap water that are harmful to fish. These conditioners can be found in most pet stores where fish are sold.

The good news is that once the tank is established, this type of maintenance routine is much lower in comparison to having other pets. If you enjoy a crisp, clean aquarium, then it is worth it to take these steps. If not, it could cause more problems down for your tank, making it higher maintenance.

Trackposted to Blue Star Chronicles, Rosemary's Thoughts, The Amboy Times, High Desert Wanderer, and The Populist, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pet Costume - Lobster Paws

This is one of my favorites. I'm not sure why, but there is something fun about this costume. It's easy to put and comes in a variety of sizes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Diagnosis of Pet Food Allergies

Although the best way to be sure is to check with a vet, has some good tips on diagnosing food allergies in pets.

The diagnosis for food allergies is very straightforward. But due to the fact that many other problems can cause similar symptoms and that many times animals are suffering from more problems than just food allergies, it is very important that all other problems are properly identified and treated prior to undergoing diagnosis for food allergies. Once all other causes have been ruled out or treated, then it is time to perform a food trial.

A food trial consists of feeding a cat a novel food source of protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks. A novel food source would be a protein and carbohydrate that the animal had never eaten before. An example would be duck and potato, or venison and potato. These diets are available commercially, or could be homemade. This must be the only thing the animal eats for 12 weeks. No treats and nothing from the table. Young growing pets have special dietary needs and a homemade diet that only contains one protein and one carbohydrate with no multivitamin or fatty acid may not be suitable even for only twelve weeks. For kittens undergoing a food trial, a balanced commercial diet like the ones listed above is recommended.

Veterinarians used to recommend that a pet only needed to be placed on a special diet for 3 weeks but new studies show that in dogs, only 26% of those with food allergies responded by day 21. However, the vast majority of the animals responded by 12 weeks. The same may be true in cats, therefore, it is very important to keep the cat on the diet for the entire 12 weeks. If the cat shows a marked reduction or elimination of the symptoms, then the animal is placed back on the original food. This is called 'provocative testing' and is essential to confirm the diagnosis. If the symptoms return after going back on the original diet, the diagnosis of a food allergy is confirmed. If there has been no change in symptoms but a food allergy is still strongly suspected, then another food trial using a different novel food source could be tried.
The only way to accurately diagnose food allergies is with a food trial.

Blood Testing: Many owners and veterinarians attempt to look to other tests to diagnose food allergies. Blood tests can be performed to screen for food allergies. In addition, intradermal skin testing could also be performed. Despite the fact that these tests are routinely performed and used as a diagnostic aid, there is no evidence that blood tests are accurate for the diagnosis of food allergies. The best way to diagnose and treat food allergies you must do a food trial.