Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Dangers of Atypical Pets

Great article from a guest blogger -

The Dangers Of Atypical Pets

By Ashley Warner

When it comes to buying pets, most people still aim for dogs and cats, while others opt for small pets like lizards, birds and fish. However, a growing number of people are opting to own more unusual pets. While most animal advocates and people who have studied animal behavior, such as those with online biology degrees, disapprove of this practice, some people see animals like monkeys, reptiles and large cats on television and think it would be great to have one. Yet more often than not, people don't have a full grasp on the responsibility of owning an exotic pet before they purchase one. This can lead to a lot of problems. Having an atypical pet in your home is not only often detrimental to the animal, but it also can put your life risk.

Agencies such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are vehemently against the ownership of strange and exotic pets, particularly those that need to be imported. As such, people often obtain these pets illegally. In fact, there are many Web sites that provide people with the ability to purchase atypical pets, which can lead to a lot of legal problems. For instance, there are state, local and federal laws to consider when it comes to owning an exotic pet. However, the legal issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

By owning an atypical pet, you pose a serious risk to your own health and well-being. These animals are often extremely dangerous. When you bring one of them home, odds are you cannot provide them with the extensive care they need such as special diets, as well as a secured and comfortable habitat. The most common risk to public safety is when one of these animals escapes as a result of an enclosure that is too small or poorly constructed. There have been dozens of cases in the news about large snakes, tigers and even monkeys killing animals or attacking people. It is important to remember that wild animals aren't easily tamed like dogs and cats. As a result, they are quick to exhibit aggressive behavior in lieu of a proper habitat or improper feeding. This often leads to unfortunate cases in which an animal lashes out at its owner or other people.

Aside from the behavioral risks, atypical pets also pose health risks. Many strange pets are carriers of disease: most snakes release salmonella. many monkeys carry Herpes-B, and even seemingly harmless prairie dogs often carry the bubonic plague. Most often, these diseases don't harm the animals, but they can prove fatal to humans. By purchasing one of these pets, you are putting yourself at risk to catch a potentially lethal illness. You could also put your family, friends and neighbors at risk.

In addition to putting yourself at risk, you also put the animals at risk. Many people can't get proper veterinary care for odd pets or provide them with proper food. Eventually, most people who buy exotic pets give up on them because they can't take care of the animal properly. In fact, the ecosystem in the Everglades has been devastated by people releasing pythons in to the wild because they have gotten too big to keep in a cage. No matter how well meaning they may be, most people cannot provide the necessary care for an exotic pet.

Ultimately it is best to avoid purchasing an exotic pet, but if you must do so, make sure you understand all of the pet's needs and the risks involved with its care. It is also crucial that you need to know the legal implications as well as the health concerns of having such a pet in your home. If you don't go in to the situation with complete knowledge, you will may find yourself in a terrible situation.


Ashley Warner is a graduate student working toward her Masters in Conservation Biology and is a content creator for Online Biology Degree. She currently resides in Washington state

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Diseases You Can Get From a Cat


Pet lovers commonly ask this question. Are there any diseases that humans can catch from pets?

The answer is yes.
Diseases or infections that are transmitted from animals to animals and animals to humans are called "zoonoses", and they can pose serious health risks.

Diseases you can catch from your cat include:

Cat scratch disease - This is a disease that is caused by bacteria that are carried in cat saliva. The bacteria can be passed from a cat to a human through biting or scratching.

Rabies - This infection is caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals and is transmitted to pets and humans by bites. Infected bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, dogs or cats pose the greatest risk to humans.

Toxoplasmosis - You can acquire this parasitic disease from soil or other contaminated surfaces by putting your hands to your mouth after gardening, cleaning a cat's litter box, or by touching anything that has come into contact with cat feces.

Parasites - They include roundworms and hookworms, which can all be transmitted from cats to humans. These parasites are transmitted through contact with feces or the soil it contaminates. Hookworms can even infect humans through the soles of their feet. For these reasons, children are especially at risk, so make sure they wash their hands thoroughly after handling the cat.

Ringworm - This contagious fungal disease can affect the scalp, the body (particularly the groin), the feet and the nails. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with worms. The name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person's skin. Cats are primary carriers of this disease, much more so than dogs.

All animals can acquire zoonotic diseases, but animals at increased risk include: outdoor pets, unvaccinated animals, pets that are immunocompromised (they have a suppressed immune system), poorly groomed animals, and animals that are housed in unsanitary conditions.

People with immune disorders or those on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy may be at increased risk of infection.

Animals with zoonotic diseases may exhibit a variety of clinical signs depending on the type of disease. The signs can vary from mild to severe. As a pet owner you should know your animal and be aware of any changes in behavior and appearance.

The MOST important thing you can do for protection is to make sure that you and your family wash your hands after any contact with any urine and feces. Always wash your hands before eating.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dog Behavior: Does Your Pooch Act Like You?

We all know that yawning can be contagious, especially in late afternoon meetings. Same thing seems to happen to dogs, according to one study. In it, dogs were paired with a person they'd never met before and placed sitting face to face. Researchers found when people yawned, the majority of pups yawned back, which suggests a certain level of empathy in the dogs.

Another study found dogs actually may be more interested in doing what their owners do than in getting food rewards. In the study, dogs were trained by their owners to open a sliding glass door using either their head or paw. Half of the dogs received treats when they opened the door the same way their owners did. The other half were rewarded only when they opened it the opposite way their owners did. Researchers found that the dogs seemed to be more motivated to open the door exactly as their owners had than to open it differently and get a treat.

If you tune in to some of your dog's subtle behaviors, you'll probably notice other human-like qualities. Heck, he may even remind you of yourself!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Pet Dental Health Month

Have you taken a good look at your pet's mouth lately? According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral health problems by the time they're only 3 years old. Like us, pets need dental care, not just to keep their teeth pearly white, but for their whole health. Poor dental health can contribute to conditions such as liver disease, heart disease, intestinal problems and more.

Thanks to petsitusa for the info!

If your pet has bad breath, swollen gums (or red or bleeding gums), yellow teeth, tartar, missing teeth, or is reluctant to chew it's definitely time for a visit to your veterinarian. The best way to avoid problems like this though is by having regular checkups with your veterinarian, and preventive care. Brushing your pets' teeth and giving chew toys to help scrub away tartar are excellent ways to help your cat or dog have a healthy mouth. So, in honor of Pet Dental Health month, make a commitment to your pets. Learn how to brush their teeth, and if they haven't seen the vet recently, make an appointment today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope everyone enjoy's their day. I always hated this holiday, since it was another way to make me spend money on stuff I don't need. But, now that I have a mini family, I can understand the point of it....still, I'm not spending any money! No flowers until next week, when the price for roses goes back down to a normal level.
The dogs enjoy the holiday as well; and they don't care how much I spend either, as long as they get their doggie treats. But I'm extra careful not to drop any of the chocolates that are in my house. If it's near their noses, they'll find it and eat it!

As for the fish, they're getting their regular weekly water changes. So, they'll be happy.

And, for us baseball fans, it's the official start of spring training, as pitchers and catchers report to camp.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dog Friendly Beer!?!

While I'm not here to promote drinking, the bottom line is, during the Super Bowl, there will be a lot of beer being consumed. While beer is never good for your pets, a company as come up with a pet safe beer.

It's called Bowser Beer - Here is what they are saying about it:

Bowser Beer puts the PARTY in PARTY ANIMAL

-Non alcoholic, beer-like beverage for dogs (all of the taste with none of the hangover)
-Hops and carbonation free beverage made from USDA beef or chicken stock
-Contains malt barley for healthy coats and glucosamine for healthy joints
-Dogs love it as a beverage or as a topping for dry food

If anyone buys it, I'd be interested in hearing your feedback.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Classic Super Bowl Ad - Beer Fetching Dog

Two guys comparing the neat tricks their dogs can do. Not the most tasteful ad, but still a big game classic.