Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ear Health

The most common cause of infection cats and dogs is ear mites, which create a large amount of very dark brown itchy debris. Most ear mite treatments require multiple doses. Veterinarians carry options that are effective in just one – although the ears will need to be cleaned several times. Although cats are the natural host and carriers of ear mites, dogs can be affected too, so all contact pets should be treated.

Dogs, particularly floppy-eared ones, commonly get yeast and bacterial infections in their ears. This is generally an overgrowth of microorganisms that are normally present in low numbers in the ear canal; these are not directly contagious to other animals.

Some other causes of infections in dogs and cats are excess moisture in the ears (swimming, bathing, excessive grooming from another pet), and skin allergies.

Common signs to watch for:

Scratching or rubbing of ears and head
Discharge in the ears
Ear odor
Redness or swelling of the ear canal
Pain and tenderness around the ears
Shaking of the head or tilting the head to one side
Changes in behavior such as irritability and depression

Key points for ear health:

Have your veterinarian show you how to safely clean ears
1 – 2 times per month and after swimming/baths clean your pets’ ears to help prevent infections
Check floppy ears at least once per week for any of the common signs listed above and contact your vet if any of those occur
Only use pet ear cleaners or others as directed by your veterinarian, you may damage the ears with at-home remedies
Check with your veterinarian about medications for ear infections

(Info from the Wellness Food Brand e-newsletter)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Pet Holiday Tips

As families all around the country start pulling out their favorite holiday recipes, and shopping lists, and decorations, it’s easy to overlook one hairy detail: the family pets. Between vacationing out-of-town and readying the house for a veritable invasion of friends and family members, it is really no surprise that pets feel left out, but more than that, the general upheaval of the holidays can be a dangerous time for cats and dogs.

Nationally recognized veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz, DVM, and one of the resident veterinarian advisors on, encourages pet owners everywhere to add “pet safety” to their holiday list and check it twice.

Year-round every room in a house can pose a potential threat to pet health when human foods, cleaning products, insecticides and rodenticides, and medicines meant for people are left out where pets can get into them. During the holidays inattention to things left unattended can double. Everyone is busy, caught up in the celebration of good food and good company: house guests may unwittingly allow the dog into a room he is usually forbidden to go, or feed the cat a “treat” to which he is allergic. The holidays bring out so many more potential hazards to pets than we may think. Pets may ingest tinsel, ribbons, and string, harming their digestion and intestinal tract. Especially harmful is fertilizer used in the water of Christmas tree stands which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

To pass the holidays in celebration, companionship, and good health, Dr. Bernadine Cruz and offer these tips to add to every pet owner’s list:

· Remind houseguests not to feed the pets human food, especially fatty foods and candy.

· Restrict pets to “safe areas” or outdoors during dinner parties when you are too occupied to watch them.

· If you have not already, install child safety locks on cabinets that contain cleaning supplies, paints, and medicines. Even hand soap and toothpaste can harm dogs and cats.

· Try to give your pet some focused attention each day to keep her or him calm, relaxed, and less likely to misbehave.

· Be sure pets wear identification tags at all times. That includes indoor pets, because with the hustle and bustle of having visitors, pets can wander outside without their owners being aware of their escape.

· To protect curious pets, be sure to keep candles safely out of the reach of paws, whiskers, and tails.

· Pets, especially dogs, tend to eat first and think later. A dangling, shinny tree ornament or holiday table decorations may be more than your pet can ignore. A nibble of a plant can lead to an upset stomach or worse. Decorations can lead to an obstruction in the digestive tract and require a visit to the veterinary emergency room.

Many people include their pets in holiday travel. Dr. Cruz suggests to keep the following tips in mind when traveling with the family pet:

• Pets should always wear identification when traveling indicating their permanent home and where they are visiting. Owners should also have a copy of their pet’s medical records, vaccine history, and a picture of the pet in case they are separated.

• If you are traveling by car with your pet, plan ahead to insure that you can find hotels that accept pets. AAA can usually direct you to these establishments. Be sure to bring your pet’s usual diet and water. You don’t want “traveler’s diarrhea” to put a damper on your road trip.

• If traveling by air, try to get a direct flight. Losing your luggage is one thing, but it could be a disaster if it is your pet. Check the expected temperature of your destination airport. If you need to have your pet travel in the cargo hold, bitterly cold temperatures may not be tolerated by your pet. We have all seen luggage carts stranded on the tarmac or sat in a plane for hours while it is delayed. Your pet could become fatally hypothermic.

• Though you may be welcomed with open arms when you go visit, your pet may not be. If you are staying with friends, make sure your pet is welcome.

• If you are staying at a pet-friendly hotel and you need to leave your pet unattended in your hotel room, place a “do not disturb” sign on the door. You do not want housekeeping to accidentally let your pet out. Be sure your pet is a good neighbor and does not bark excessively. Bring along an extra sheet for your pet to lounge on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Pet Tips

Reduce your dog’s regular food portions during the holidays through the less-active winter months. Consult with your veterinarian before downsizing to determine the right portion.

* As a rule, don’t feed pets holiday treats or leftovers. Some foods such as chocolates, uncooked bread dough and macadamia nuts can actually be life threatening.

* Instead of human foods, give your dog treats specifically for canines. Training reward-type treats are especially good, because they’re typically bite-sized and individually very low in calories.

* Be sure to tell your guests not to feed the pet. If everyone at a holiday party sneaks even a little food to the dog, it can quickly add up.

* Even though things get hectic during the holidays, try to stick with your dog’s normal routine of outdoor play and walks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dogs Rule the World?

I saw an old Jerry Seinfeld bit, and he wondered how aliens looking down at the world perceive our hierarchy. We walk our dogs and pick up after them in little bags that we then carry with us.

The aliens are looking down and thinking the dogs must be the rulers. Why else would someone walk behind them carrying their poop for them in bags?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kitten Training

We always see stories on training your new puppy, but how about kitten training?'s article on kitten training gives some quick tips for training you new pet.

For instance, kittens learn quickly, but also tire quickly, so don't spend too much time during one session, or they may start resenting any type of training.

Check it out!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Sweet Dreams"

We should all be so lucky as to enjoy such a peaceful rest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Real-Life Furby Rediscovered

primate species that looks like a living, breathing version of the Furby electronic toy has been found alive in the forested highlands of an Indonesian island for the first time in more than 70 years, scientists announced Tuesday.

Three specimens of the pygmy tarsier, a nocturnal creature about the size of a small mouse, were trapped and tracked this summer on Mount Rorekatimbo in Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi, Texas A&M University reported.

Check out the entire article for more about the find.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Preparing Pets for Winter

Here on the East Coast, the cold is starting to make it's way into our daily lives. Just as people prepare their homes and cars for winter, so should they keep their pets in mind when the temperatures drop.

Cats are very susceptible to the cold and can freeze if left outdoors. Therefore, keep felines inside during especially cold weather. Also, stray cats have a tendency to hide under car hoods to keep warm. Bang on the car before starting it to warn any cats.

According to ASPCA, more dogs are lost during the winter because they can easily lose their scent on snow-covered terrain.

Salt-covered pavement and cold walkways can wreak havoc on dog paws. Wash their paws after coming in from walks to remove any salt and ice.

Just as you shouldn't leave your pet in a hot car, the same is true for a cold one. A vehicle can act as a refrigerator and your pet could freeze to death.

If you bathe your pet during the winter, make sure they are thoroughly dry before going out in the cold.

Antifreeze is sweet-smelling to pets and can attract inquisitive animals. Antifreeze is a lethal poison for pets. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle and don't leave any bottles where pets can get to them.

Pets should have a cozy spot to sleep away from drafts and the cold floor. A blanket or filled pet bed can be comfortable to your pet.

Just because it is cold outside doesn't mean that all the fleas that were incubating inside are dead yet. Be sure to keep an eye out for flea infestation even in the winter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reverse Sneeze

The first time my dog made that noise...the one where it's not quite a sneeze, not quite a gag, not exactly a cough, but something in between.....I wasn't sure what to think. But, it only last a few seconds and he was fine afterwards.

The phenomenon is known as a reverse sneeze. No one is really sure what it happens, but it could be from allergies or sometimes an even more serious condition. But if it happens infrequently, there isn't much to worry about.

This Pet Place article is a good place to find some more information on reverse sneezes, including ways to get your dog out of them if you are worried or if they are lasting a while.

Only one of my dogs, the one with all the allergy problems, gets this condition on a regular basis. What experiences have you had with the reverse sneeze?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Are Fish Easy Pets?

As a life-long fish keeper, 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. Plus, isn't the point of having a fish tank is to have something to enjoy everyday anyway?

Freshwater Fish also need weekly and monthly maintenance chores. 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.

When all is going well, then fish become an "easy" pet. But when problems occur in the tank, and your fish start to die, there is nothing easy about that!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

A great time to reflect and remember all those who gave us the freedoms we enjoy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Common Pills Not to Give Pets

When our vet first suggested giving our dog on over-the-counter medication for his allergies, I thought - wow, you can give dogs human stuff? But, there are some common human medications that you should never give your pet, according to

1. Aspirin. Aspirin toxicity (salicylate toxicity) is poisoning that occurs following the ingestion of aspirin or aspirin-containing products. Aspirin can be especially dangerous when mixed with other drugs such as steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There is a much higher risk of toxicity. Aspirin interferes with platelets, which are responsible for helping the blood to clot. Disruption of platelet function incr eases the amount of time it takes the blood to clot in cases of wounds or lacerations. Spontaneous bleeding may also occur causing pinpoint bruises to appear in the skin and on the gums (petechiae). Aspirin toxicity may cause gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal problems are common in dogs.

2. Ibuprofen is a popular and effective over-the-counter medication available to treat pain and inflammation in people. For dogs, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner who tries to alleviate pain in his dog by administering a dose he thinks is adequate without knowing the toxic dose. The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers. In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of ibuprofen eventually lead to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Symptoms include poor appet ite, vomiting, black tarry stools, vomiting blood, abdominal pain, weakness and lethargy.

3. Acetaminophen . Common brands include Tylenol®, Percoset®, aspirin free Excedrin® and various sinus, cold and flu medications. Dogs most commonly receive toxic amounts of acetaminophen because owners medicate them without consulting a veterinarian. They also consume tablets that are dropped on the floor or left around. Dogs are less sensitive to acetaminophen than cats. For example, a 50-pound dog would need to ingest over seven 500 mg tablets in order to suffer toxic effects. In the cat, one 250 mg acetaminophen tablet could be fatal. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic amount of acetaminophen, (one pill or more), contact your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency facility immediately.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Clown Loach Profile

One of my favorite fish, and one of the oldest in my aquarium (I've him him for almost five years), is the Clown Loach

The clown loach is an active schooling fish that is best kept in small groups of three to six fish. It will tolerate tankmates of other species, although docile species may become agitated by the constant activity of this fish. The clown loach may alarm its owner by lying on its side or back — while resting — appearing to be dead. This is normal clown loach behavior. It also makes audible clicking sounds in the evening, especially when feeding.

Because it is not a territorial fish, the clown loach generally poses no threat to its tankmates. However, the clown loach may become entangled in nets. This species can live for as long as 20 years in the home aquarium.

Provide a soft substrate because the clown loach likes to nose through the substrate to find tidbits of food to munch on.

The clown loach will accept most commercially prepared flake, freeze-dried and frozen foods. Its diet should be supplemented with small live foods, such as Tubifex worms, bloodworms and brine shrimp. This fish also loves snails. If you ever took home a live plant and ended up with a snail infestation, this is the fish that will take care of the problem.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Puppy in the White House

In a historic speech following his election win, Barack Obama announced that his two daughters have earned a new puppy that will join them at the White House. This will follow in a long line of presidents who have had pets over the years.

No word yet on what kind of dog.....

Web Vet

Although nothing can take the place of taking your pet to a vet when there may be a problem, there are plenty of informative websites available.

One relatively new site, is Webvet, which is dedicated to giving pet owners all the news they can use. The site hosts the latest news and advice on topics ranging from pet weight loss to acupuncture for ferrets. WebVet does not diagnose, suggest treatment or editorialize but rather provides news, information and fact-based education to pet owners.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Presidential Pups

In honor of election day, This article from AKC talks about the tradition of presidents with dogs.
Did you know George Washington, the father of our nation, is also the father of American Foxhound?

Or that Richard Nixon had four dogs?

And who doesn't remember Bill Clinton's Choc. Lab Buddy?

Some interesting presidential dog facts!

And, no matter what you support, get out and vote!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sugar Glider

Anytime I see a unique pet, I'm always intrigued...usually to the point of wanting one. At a recent pet expo, I came across a dealer selling Sugar Gliders. What are Sugar Gliders? According to Pocket Pets of Dallas, Sugar Gliders are small, aboreal marsupials which originate primarily from Indonesia and Southern Australia. As their common name implies, they possess a gliding membrane (similar to that of the flying squirrels) that stretches from their wrists to their ankles and allows them to 'glide' from tree to tree. As with all marsupials, female sugar gliders also possess a pouch, in which they raise their young. Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, which spend almost their entire life in trees.

Sugar Gliders can make excellent pets. They adapt very readily to captivity and can develop very strong relationships with their human keepers. They are small in size, and are very intelligent and love to play. They are very smart and have a long life span, most living to be 10 years or older if taken care of properly. Although nocturnal, it can be a benefit, in that they want to play in the evening when you are at home, and if you take them with you in the daytime, they are content to sleep in your pocket or pouch. Most gliders, if handled well and given time, learn their owner(s) scent(s) and have absolutely no fear of them.

Their diet consists of fruit, fresh vegetables, wholemeal bread, yogurt, peanuts, high protein dry food, and supplemented occasionally with mealworms, meatmeal or hard-boiled eggs.

According to the company, they get along well with other household pets...though I'm worried my dogs might think of them as another new toy.

Dog Halloween Pictures