Posted on

Turtle Care 101: How to Take Care of Pet Turtles By Geoff Williams

Turtles may not be cuddly, but they are awfully cute and generally easy to care for if you’re well researched and prepared.

Although turtle-care isn’t too difficult, it’s essential that their environment be well maintained, said Dr. Stewart Colby, DVM and founder of Windward Animal Hospital in Johns Creek, Georgia.

“In general, turtles spend most of their life in the water and thus need an environment that has water to swim in and a place to climb out if they so choose,” he said.

If you’ve ever wondered how to take care of a pet turtle, or you already have one but want to brush up on your turtle parenting skills, consider this your turtle tutorial.


Let’s start with a quick explanation on the difference between a turtle and a tortoise. Turtles spend most of the time in the water, while tortoises live on the land. Terrapins are also turtles, but generally split their time evenly between land and fresh water.

Though there are approximately 270 types of turtles, the following types are considered ideal for beginning turtle pet parents:

  • Red-eared sliders: a water turtle (though it does require land) that can grow to be as long as 11 inches, the red-eared slider is the most popular type of turtle to have as a pet throughout the world.
  • Painted turtle:a colorful omnivore that can grow as long as seven inches. These are the most widespread native turtles throughout the United States.
  • Central American wood turtle:also known as the ornate wood turtle. These turtles are mostly herbivore, but if you feel like offering the occasional insect or worm, they’ll gladly take it. They grow to be as long as nine inches.
  • African aquatic sideneck:this omnivore has an unusual “folding neck” and can grow as long as eight inches. They’re mostly aquatic, but they need a spot where they can bask in the light.
  • Caspian pond turtle:a semi-aquatic omnivore turtle that requires both land and water, it can grow up to be nine inches.
  • Greek tortoise:a land-dwelling animal that will need a shallow water dish where it can soak and drink. They’re strictly herbivores and can grow up to 12 inches.
  • Russian tortoise:another land-dweller with a need for a shallow water dish. They can grow up to eight inches.


You’ll likely want a terrarium for your turtle, and it’s better not to skimp on size.

“These animals require water and land with ample room to explore. The bigger the enclosure, the better,” said Brian Ogle, a science instructor who specializes in animal behavior and pet ownership at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida.

Maintaining your turtle’s environment is very important to stay on top of. If something is going to go wrong after you get a turtle or tortoise, it’ll be here.

“The main problem one has with turtles is keeping the water clean. A very strong filtration system needs to be used and water changed regularly,” Colby said. “Water temperature is not as important if they are kept inside and have an area to bask under a heat lamp.”

Ogle agrees about maintaining the water. “Clean water is the success to keeping your turtle healthy and happy,” he said. “Frequent water changes will ensure the water is clean and free of particles that can lead to infections.”

If you’re thinking you don’t have time to maintain a turtle’s environment, you may want to consider a primarily land-dwelling tortoise. You’ll still have to make sure the terrarium stays clean, of course, and change or refresh the water, but there’s less water to change.

“If you keep a turtle, you’ll want to make a few water changes every week, and the reason, I always tell people, is that turtles are living in their bathroom. They go to the bathroom in the water,” said Jim Nesci, a reptile expert with a conservation educational show called Cold Blooded Creatures. “The tortoises are easier.”

You’ll want thermometers for both the air and water in order to maintain an environment similar to whatever your turtle or tortoise would find in the wild. Do your research to determine exactly what temperature your type of turtle will need, as just guessing at what seems like a good temperature can create health problems. If your turtle is constantly in air that’s the wrong temperature, they may stop eating or get a respiratory infection.

It’s also best if your turtle can get some sunlight, too, said Susan Tellem, of American Tortoise Rescue in Malibu, California. The sunlight, she says, helps their shells develop property; without it, they can get metabolic bone disease.


Sierra Exif JPEG


It depends on the type of turtle you have, of course, but turtles will generally eat insects, fish (like comet goldfish, which are smaller than the common goldfish) and dark, leafy greens. You can also buy your pet canned or pelleted turtle food and freeze-dried mealworms. Tortoises, on the other hand, are herbivores and will require a mix of fresh vegetables (about 80 percent of the diet) and fruit (20 percent).

Unlike other pets you might have, turtles don’t need to be fed every day. As a general rule of thumb, feeding your turtle four to five times a week will be fine, unless you have a young water turtle, in which case they should be fed every day.

“In the wild food would be limited, so mimic nature when you care for your animal,” Tellem said.

You’ll also want to add calcium to your turtle’s diet. You can get a calcium supplement and “dust” their food with it twice a year.


Providing good, consistent care for your turtle or tortoise will keep it healthy and happy. Generally, health problems in these animals arise when owners don’t feed them properly, or if they don’t clean the terrarium regularly or maintain clean water, or if they aren’t offering their pet the right temperature, Colby said.

“Vitamin A and calcium deficiencies are very common in captive reptiles,” Ogle said. “In addition, turtles may also get respiratory disease, shell infections, shell fractures, parasites, and abscesses. All of these conditions require veterinary care.”

The most common disease turtles carry is salmonella, which is significant as it can be transmitted to humans and cause serious disease, especially in the immunocompromised. Keeping a clean terrarium, enforcing good hygiene with pet owners and buying an inexpensive conditioner to add to the water – Reptoguard makes some – helps keep organisms like salmonella at bay and hopefully prevent turtle diseases from ever happening.

If you purchase your turtle as a baby, expect to offer it plenty of TLC and keep the following tips in mind:

  • Make sure your terrarium’s water and air temperature is about 86 degrees Fahrenheit and that your baby turtle has access to both land and water.
  • Make sure the water isn’t too deep. Your baby turtle is learning to swim, after all. A good rule of thumb is that the water should be about an inch deeper than the width of its shell.
  • Even the smallest turtles should have a terrarium or aquarium no smaller than 29 gallons, no shorter than 4 feet long, 18 inches wide and 18 inches tall.
  • If you don’t have a filter, change your baby turtle’s water daily. If you do, change it two to three days.
  • Feed your baby turtle every day up to two times per day.
  • Finally, be sure to look for any physically signs of illness, including swollen eyes, discoloring on the shell and avoiding food. If you notice any of these, call your veterinarian specializing in reptile care.

Many pet turtles can easily live about 20 years, which can be another reason not to rush into the buying process.

“It is work, and you’ve got to pay attention to your turtle,” Nesci said. “[Buy a turtle] because you absolutely love turtles. Don’t buy one on a whim. You need to have the desire and a love for animals.”

Posted on

10 Training Tips for Your Dog

Our little furry best friends won’t always be good boys, because why would they? It is their nature to be a little mischievous and naughty. However, there are times when they choose the wrong place, the bad time, and the worst thing to do. That’s when we may lose our mind and try to learn how to do some damage control.

Unfortunately, shouting “No!” or “bad dog!” rarely works, which is why we asked our best dog trainers to share their best training secret, only to find out that it is way too easy than we have ever thought.

So in case you have a new furry friend that drives you crazy sometimes, this list is for you to understand all the secrets and to learn how to train your doggy.



© Fun Paw Care

Have you ever tried to train your dog in a public space, like a dog park or a crowded neighborhood? I know, it didn’t go as good as you thought it would. The reason is there were too many distractions, and dogs are not multi-taskers.

So the first thing you need to pay attention to is to be in a boring, non-distracting environment. Technically, it should be an empty room with no toys, pillows or anything that may attract the dog’s attention. Don’t forget the high-value treats for rewards.

Make sure to find the ones that he will go crazy for when performing a new behavior.


Stop yanking on a leash

© Dogtime

While walking your dog with the leash, have you ever wondered if you are the one walking your dog, or if your dog is walking you? In any case, and from now on, you should forget about the yanking latter because when you try to pull back, the dog will pull forward.

Not because he is being difficult or stubborn, it is just the way dogs were designed. Allow me to explain more: when the dog pulls and gets where he wants to go, he will feel rewarded and will always continue that behavior. The only solution is to walk your dog on the leash inside.

So if he walked successfully next to you in your home, advance to the front yard, backyard, and then around the neighborhood. Eventually, your dog will master the art of walking next to you with or without a leash. Don’t forget to reward him.


“Leave it” is better

© Reader’s Digest

Dogs don’t really understand the meaning of something “disgusting”. In fact, they are more attracted to it, especially if it repulses us. For example, items that fell out of the garbage, poop, and food that fell on a dirty floor, etc. So, the most effective sentence to use is “Leave it!” This sentence is proved to be “heard” well by dogs more than “Drop it!”

Again, try to practice it in a boring room with no distractions. This way you will avoid seeing your dog picking up gross things from the ground when you take him outside where more dangerous and harmful items exist.


Teach them where to poop

© Wag!

Even while being a good parent who holds poop bags every time you walk the dog, it is still embarrassing when he still chooses to poop in the middle of the street or on your neighbors’ front lawn while they are right there watching everything.

Thankfully, there is a solution, a very simple one actually: guide your dog to one specific spot where you want him to poop, give it a few minutes, and don’t speak, smile or play with him.

Let him sniff and soon enough, he will realize that it is time to make number 2. You have to reward him heavily and immediately with his favorite treats.


Let them linger after pooping or peeing


It may sound easier if you just opened the door and let your cute puppy take care of their potty business on their own, but you will always end up with “poop land mines” everywhere.

The solution is to train the dog using a leash in order to teach him how to get used to eliminating when you are close to him. Then you should reward him with his favorite treat and take him for a quick walk.

If you rushed back inside, they may consider it as a punishment so he will quickly learn how to hold it in instead of letting it all out. So, make him poop/pee immediately after you let him go outside, then the quick walk should be the reward for doing it in your preferred location.


Calm Their Fears

© iStock

Have you ever thought why would your puppy bark at vacuums and hair dryers? According to Donna Culbert, a dog trainer, and owner of Donna’s Do Right Dogs, barking does not only for showing excitement or anger, it is also for expressing their fear and anxiety.

So when your dog barks loudly at that moving object that makes a scary “unusual” noise means that he is really scared, and he may even start chasing the item as he freaks out.

So to calm him down, put the item (unplugged) on the floor with treats sprinkled all around it, let him discover it slowly, then change the location of that item away from your dog as you are giving him treats in order to keep his calm.

Once you feel like he is starting to accept that object, turn it on. If he didn’t bark, then he must have controlled his fears and you should reward him. Finally, you will be able to use that noisy item without scaring your little puppy.


The reward must equal the joy


Speaking of rewards, it is not right if you order the dog to “come!” then ask him to lie down. The reward must equal the joy that you made your dog leave to come to you. For instance, he likes to chase cars because he finds it a fun experience, but also, very dangerous.

So instead of shouting “Come!” you should command it with a ball or a squeaky toy, and then have your dog chase you. You can make it a little more entertaining by letting him catch you and then immediately play tug with him for a minute.


Don’t say “No” when they whine

© Depositphotos

You made sure that your sweet puppy has dinner, potty time accomplished, played fetch, and all was good. But for some reason, he is looking at you whining and giving you a sad puppy look that breaks your heart.

According to many dog experts, there are many reasons that drive dogs to whine including boredom, excitement, anxiousness or need for attention. The best solution to end their “attention whining” is by ignoring them completely.

For some puppies, even saying “No” is rewarding because they have got your attention. If you ignored him and he actually stopped whining, reward him with a treat so he can understand that no whining equals attention.


End their begging

© DogsAholic

In order to have a calm, sweet dinner with your family, date or yourself, you should teach your puppy from the beginning to go to a specific spot during your mealtime to avoid any annoying barking or begging.

When the dog goes to his place, don’t ignore him completely, say hello and give him a treat. Or you could give him something tasty to chew like a bully stick or a marrow bone in order to distract him for a few minutes.

If he came back to the table, try to lure him back politely. This one can be a little difficult, but with consistent training, you will definitely get the results.


Home Alone


In case you need to know if your dog is ready to be home alone without a crate, then pay attention. If he gets into things while you are still around, then probably not! However, if he is not destroying anything anymore, then he might be ready.

It is best to close the rooms where you put the most valuable things before leaving him. Like your office or the kitchen. Pick a small space and put all his toys around so he can be satisfied with all the things surrounding him.

That way, he will be distracted for a while from destroying anything valuable. But first, you have to conduct a few tests before leaving him for a long time. Try 15 minutes at first, 40 minutes, and advance to an hour, etc.


Posted on

The Truth about Bettas aka Siamese Fighting Fish by April Moloney

You see Bettas at your local pet stores and they are so beautiful with their long flowing fins and many colors. They are usually displayed in small cups with these small box like habitats that don’t cost that much. So you go ahead and purchase your new finned friend but within a few months their beautiful tails are getting eaten away and they don’t respond to you like they used to. They get sick and die usually within 6-8 months. Why does this happen? It is because you have fallen for the manufacturer of small tanks and the pet store’s big lie about Bettas!

Bettas are tropical fish in the first place and can’t deal with colder, room temperature water for very long periods of time. They need a heater to keep their water between 78 degrees and 82 degrees. Just like goldfish they shouldn’t be kept in small bowls, vases or rectangular tanks. They need more water than that too! Bettas should be kept in at least 2.5 gallons of heated, cycled water that is filtered by a slow moving filter. The lie is because these amazing fish have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe oxygen; it was thought that they only needed small amounts of water. This was a matter of survival in the wild so when their puddles or areas of water dried up they could survive to move to a newer deeper body of water.

They can survive in smaller amounts of water but that is not what is optimal for the fish’s long term survival. Bettas are supposed to live 3-6 years but in small bowls that are not well taken care of they usually do not make it a year. We could live in a closet for a while too but that is not what is best for human survival either. Also they need weekly water changes, more frequent than that if you have them in one of those small betta traps. If you have them in a gallon or less than daily water changes are necessary of at least ½ their water. The water should always be treated with a water conditioner and extra food siphoned out. I use Seachem Prime as it is really good and cheap to use.  You only use 2 drops per gallon. Bettas thrive in larger tanks that are 2.5 gallons or more. They need room to swim and if your betta has a large, beautiful tail, they need plants either silk or live to rest on from time to time. Some bettas need lots of cover on the edges of the tank to feel secure. Just like all tropical fish they need heated, filtered, cycled water (with nitrifying bacteria present) to have the best chance of living long happy lives.

Horton on his leaves

I have 7 betta friends at the moment all are different tail types. All of them are in heated, filtered, cycled, live planted tanks. 2 of my bettas are over 3 years old. All are really happy and respond to me in different ways. Each one has their own personality which is what I love best about bettas. Their tanks range from 5 gallons to 10 gallons except my blind one because he can’t navigate a bigger tank safely. Horton lives in a 2 gallon tank that gets extra water changes but it is cycled, heated and filtered. He had an eye injury in shipment and is now over 3 years old. He is also my favorite, but don’t tell the others because they all think they are my favorite. I also have a sorority of females but I do not recommend a sorority to beginners as it is not an easy task to get the sorority balanced with the right personalities and sizes.

Another lie that happens is what to feed your betta, how much and how often. Bettas are carnivores so no they won’t eat the roots of the plant you have in the vase you stuck them in! News bulletin, you have to feed them! They need food that is high in proteins. Check the ingredients in your fish food and if a fish protein like salmon or herring is the first ingredient than you have a good food for your betta. They should be fed 2 times a day. My rule of thumb in feeding them is to watch their tummies right by the pectoral fins. I feed them until that area has a nice rounded look. I also feed my bettas frozen, thawed, bloodworms and brine shrimp every night and they love their night time feedings. I try to keep my feedings 12 hours apart ie: 10 am and 10 pm but you need to find the correct timings for you.

My sorority girls Aisha front, Siri under, and Camilla in the background

Male bettas can not be kept together in the same tank without a divider (I know that some experts can do this but most of us can’t) So if you don’t want a 10 gallon tank to only contain one fish, you can divide the tank with a divider and keep two males in it. Females can be kept in groups of 3 or more which is called a sorority. Some people with the larger tanks keep up to 7 or more females together. I do not recommend sorority tanks to beginners as there are tricks and tips that you need to learn before attempting one. Either male or female bettas can be kept with certain other fish. The rule of thumb is to keep other tropical, non fancy tailed fish with male bettas otherwise there will be fighting. The other surprising fact is that you have to watch that the other fish do not pick on your betta because they are passive with other fish. They are not known to eat other fish or pick on other fish unless they think it is another betta. Any time that you have a betta in the tank with other fish, you have to have a secondary plan in case it doesn’t work out for the betta. The same with betta sorority tanks, I have a female in a solitary 5 gallon (Juliet) because she couldn’t get along with the other females no matter all the tricks I used to fix that. I haven’t added other fish because she was just too aggressive.

My daughter Nevaeh with Elijah Blue playing

If you decide to have a betta, be sure to give them lots of attention. They thrive on attention and love to be talked to. Some will play games with you, some will dance for you, some will just follow you (in their tank) around your room, some will flair for you or at you. I had a betta that actually played with an orange ball and another that played peek-a-boo! Betta can learn tricks for food like swimming through a hoop, jumping through a hoop, playing chase with your finger, come when you call or wiggle your fingers  or just about any trick you want to teach it that it can do in a tank. I do not teach my fish to jump though because bettas have been known to jump out of their tanks and get injured or die from the fall.

So now you know the truth about bettas. Are you going to keep your betta in that little tank or vase anymore? Perhaps you will upgrade your betta’s living conditions as soon as you can. If you can’t do it right now, be sure to change at least half the water daily, add water conditioner and make sure the water is the same temperature when you change the water to reduce shock to help it be healthier until you can change it to a larger tank.

I have lots of products made for Bettas so stop in and get what you need to help your betta be healthy and happy!

(All of the bettas pictured here are my actual bettas, photos taken by a phone camera)

Posted on

How To Tell if Your Dog Is Sick

When you stare deeply into your beloved pet’s eyes, it may seem almost as if he or she could talk. Of course dogs can’t talk, but their body language can be very eloquent. The better you know your dog—his or her habits, appearance, and behavior—the more apparent these signs will be apparent. Acting promptly at the first signs of illness can help prevent suffering, save money, and even save a life.

The following are common ways in which dogs tell us they’re sick. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Please note that these symptoms are more worrisome in a very young, very old, or otherwise frail dog, since they have fewer defenses when illness strikes. If your dog’s behavior or appearance worries you, always consult your vet.

Breathing Problems

The signs of respiratory illness range from the obvious to the subtle. Call your vet if you notice:

  • Persistent cough that disrupts sleep or lasts more than 24 hours
  • Persistent nasal discharge, especially with mucus or blood
  • A honking cough
  • Wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Persistent gagging
  • Labored breathing
  • If your dog is struggling to breathe, check the color of the gums and tongue. They should be pink. If you notice a bluish tint, seek emergency care immediately.

Behavior Changes

You know your dog best. And if your dog behaves strangely, he is probably telling you something. Here are some indications that your best friend may be sick as a dog:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Withdrawal
  • Needy or clingy behavior

Tummy Troubles

Every dog vomits and has diarrhea now and then—whether it’s from too many table treats or unmentionables scavenged off the sidewalk. When your dog has these symptoms, especially in combination with lethargy and poor appetite, be sure to contact your veterinarian:

  • Repeated vomiting that lasts over 24 hours.
  • Repeated or profuse diarrhea that lasts over 24 hours
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Repeated dry heaves, restlessness, and distended belly may be a sign of “bloat,” a life threatening condition more typical in large breed dogs. Seek emergency treatment immediately.

Elimination Problems

Changes in your dog’s bathroom habits can indicate a problem. Consult your veterinarian if you notice:

  • Increased volume or frequency of urine
  • Trouble passing urine
  • Trouble defecating
  • Urinary accidents in a previously housetrained dog
  • Fecal accidents in a previously housetrained dog

External Appearance

Physical changes are often the most noticeable. You know your dog best. If it’s enough to make you worry, then it makes sense to call your vet:

  • New lumps and bumps
  • Sudden changes in old lumps and bumps
  • Lumps or sores that are bloody or oozing
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Rash
  • Hair loss
  • Persistent itch
  • Persistent shaking of head or scratching at ears


Fever often accompanies illness. Conventional wisdom states that a healthy dog should have a cold, wet nose. and that a warm, dry nose means trouble. This is a common misconception. The appearance or feel of a dog’s nose is a poor indicator of health or body temperature. Taking your dog’s temperature with a thermometer is the only real way to diagnose a fever (see box, below). If your dog is acting sick and has a temperature above 103 F, it’s time to call the vet.

Note that a body temperature above 104.5 F is consistent with heat stroke and is a life threatening emergency. Institute cooling measures and seek veterinary care immediately.


puppy with intravenous drip on operating table in veterinarian’s clinic


A dog may yelp in pain when you go to touch her injured paw or sore back, but it’s even more likely that she will suffer in silence. Most dogs in pain don’t vocalize at all. Any of the following signs warrant a trip to the vet. Never give pain medicine unless it was specifically prescribed for your dog. This includes over-the counter-human pain killers, which can be very toxic to dogs. Here are some signs that your dog may be hurting:

  • Lameness or stiffness that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Reluctance to move, jump or walk
  • Obvious bone or joint swelling that is warm to the touch
  • Trouble chewing, drooling
  • Agitation
  • Guarding of a body part by growling when you approach
  • If your dog has been hurt in a car accident, a fall from a height, or attacked by a larger animal, or if there is uncontrolled bleeding, seek veterinary care immediately.

Neurologic Signs

Finally, the following signs indicate nervous system trouble, all of which warrant a visit to the vet:

  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Heat tilt
  • Seizures
  • Repetitive twitches
  • Repetitive circling
  • Disorientation
  • Stupor
  • Loss of consciousness, however briefly, is an indication for immediate veterinary care.

So if you see any changes in your pooches behaviour such as those shown here, you should seek prompt help for your furry friend. This best way to show you care and love your dog.


Posted on

Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition Lisa A. Pierson, DVM

Diet is the brick and mortar of health. This post lays out some often-ignored principles of feline nutrition and explains why cats have a much better chance at optimal health if they are fed a canned food diet instead of dry kibble. Putting a little thought into what you feed your cat(s) can pay big dividends over their lifetime and very possibly help them avoid serious, painful, life-threatening, and costly illnesses.

An increasing number of nutrition-savvy veterinarians are now strongly recommending the feeding of canned food instead of dry kibble. However, many veterinarians are still recommending/condoning the feeding of dry food to cats. Sadly, this species-inappropriate source of food only serves to promote disease in our cats as discussed below.

Like medical doctors for humans, veterinarians receive very little training in school regarding nutrition. And what is discussed is often taught by representatives of large pet food companies, or the curriculum is sponsored – and heavily influenced – by members of the commercial pet food industry. This represents a significant conflict of interest. After we leave veterinary school, the most commonly available source for our nutrition ʻeducationʻ continues to be the large pet food companies that manufacture so-called ʻtherapeutic/
prescriptionʻ diets. Unfortunately, the result is that veterinarians are not always the best source of nutrition advice.

Dry food addicts

If your cat is a dry food addict, please see Tips for Transitioning Dry Food Addicts to Canned Food in the sidebar at All cats can be switched to a water-rich, low-carb diet if their caregivers are very patient and try enough tricks.

Whatʼs wrong with dry kibble – including any ʻprescriptionʼ diet that is sold by your veterinarian?

The three key negative issues associated with dry food are:
1) water content is too low – predisposing your cat to serious and life-threatening urinary tract diseases including extremely painful and often fatal (and very expensive to treat) urethral obstructions See Opieʼs pictures at (Urinary Tract Diseases) for a good look at the tremendous suffering caused by feeding cats water-depleted diets.

2) carbohydrate load is too high – possibly predisposing your cat to diabetes, obesity, and intestinal disease – note that low-carb dry foods are NOT healthy diets since they are still water-depleted and are harshly cooked resulting in nutrient loss/alteration

3) type of protein – too high in plant-based versus animal-based proteins – cats are obligate carnivores and are designed to eat meat, not grains/plants – grains only serve to enhance the profit margin of the pet food company and do not promote the health of your cat

Other negative issues include:
✦ bacterial contamination (can lead to vomiting and diarrhea),
✦ fungal mycotoxins (contained in grains and are extremely toxic),
✦ insects and their feces (can cause respiratory problems),
✦ ingredients that often cause allergic reactions, and
✦ all dry food is harshly cooked which destroys/alters vital nutrients.

My Cat is Doing Just “Fine” on Dry Food!

I often hear people make the above statement. However consider the following:
✦ Every living creature is “fine” until outward signs of a disease process are exhibited. That may sound like a very obvious and basic statement but if you think about it……
✦ Every cat on the Feline Diabetes Message Board was “fine” until their owners Feeding cats correctly is definitely a ʻpay me now or pay me laterʼ issue. Cat caregivers often state that canned food is too expensive. However, considering the cost to treat the illnesses that arise from feeding dry food, most people re-think this issue after they receive their vet bill.

Consider practicing preventative nutrition before your furry buddy ends up in a diseased state that could have been prevented with proper nutrition.

Read on if you would like more details regarding a feline species-appropriate diet. Some information will be repeated from above to reinforce the critical points.

Cats Need Plenty of Water With Their Food

This is a very important section because it emphasizes why even the low-carb, grain-free dry foods are not optimal food sources for your cat. Keep in mind that the cheapest canned food is better than any dry food on the market.

Cats do not have a very strong thirst drive when compared to other species. Therefore, it is critical for them to ingest a water-rich diet.

Cats are designed to obtain most of their water from their diet since their normal prey is approximately 70 percent water. Dry foods are harshly cooked down to only 5-10 percent water whereas canned foods contain approximately 78 percent water. It is clear that canned foods are better suited to meet the catʼs water needs.

A cat consuming a predominantly dry-food diet does drink more water than a cat consuming a canned food diet, but when water from all sources is added together (whatʼs in their diet plus what they drink), the cat on dry food consumes approximately half the amount of water compared to a cat eating canned food.

This substantially lower water intake sets cats up for significant kidney, and bladder diseases, as well as urethral obstructions which are excruciatingly painful, costly to treat, and can be fatal.

Think of canned food as flushing your cat’s urinary tract several times a day. This is a very important tool to keep your cat from developing urinary tract problems including life-threatening urethral blockages, infection, inflammation (cystitis), and possibly chronic kidney disease which is a leading cause of death in cats.

Cats Need Animal-Based Protein

Cats are obligate (strict) carnivores and are very different from dogs in their nutritional needs. What does it mean to be an ʻobligate carnivoreʼ? It means that your cat was built by Mother Nature to get her nutritional needs met by the consumption of a large amount of animal-based proteins (meat/organs) – not plant-based proteins (grains/vegetables).

It is very important to remember that not all proteins are created equal. Proteins derived from animal tissues have a complete amino acid profile. (Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Think of them as pieces of a puzzle.) Plant-based proteins do not contain the full complement (puzzle pieces) of the critical amino acids required by an obligate carnivore. The quality and composition of a protein (are all of the puzzle pieces present?) is also referred to as its biological value.

Humans and dogs can take the pieces of the puzzle contained in the plant protein and, from those, make the missing pieces. Cats cannot do this. This is why humans and dogs can live on a vegetarian diet but cats cannot. (Note that I do not recommend vegetarian diets for dogs.)

Generally speaking, the protein in dry food, which is often heavily plant-based and always harshly cooked, is not equal in quality to the protein in canned food, which is (in most instances) meat-based and more gently cooked. The protein in dry food, therefore, earns a lower biological value score. Because plant proteins are cheaper than meat proteins, pet food companies will have a higher profit margin when using corn, wheat, soy, rice, etc.

Most canned foods, when figured on a dry matter basis (not by using the values on the can or bag which are wet weight values), contain more protein than dry food. But remember, the protein amount does not tell the whole story. It is the proteinʼs biological value that is critical.

We Are Feeding Cats Too Many Carbohydrates

In their natural setting, cats would never consume the high level of carbohydrates (grains/potatoes/peas, etc.) that are in the dry foods (and some canned foods) that we routinely feed them. In the wild, your catʼs normal prey (rodents, birds, lizards, etc.) provides a high protein, high-moisture, meat-based diet, with a moderate level of fat and with less than 2 percent of her diet consisting of calories from carbohydrates.

The average dry food contains 35-50 percent carbohydrate calories (think *profit margin*) which can severely alter the sugar/insulin balance in some cats. (See Diabetes at A high quality canned food, on the other hand, contains approximately 3-5 percent carbohydrate calories. Please note that not all canned foods are suitably low in carbohydrates since they can also contain high levels of grains, potatoes, and peas.

Cats have no dietary need for carbohydrates and, more worrisome is the fact that a diet that is high in carbohydrates can be detrimental to their health. You would never feed an herbivore (horse, cow, etc.) a diet of meat, so why feed a carnivore meat-flavored cereals?

Think ʻfreshʼ!
Many of us have heard nutritionists recommend that we ʻshop the perimeterʼ of the grocery store since that is where fresh, unprocessed foods (fruits, vegetables, meat, etc.) are found. Needless to say, dry pet food is very highly processed (e.g., cooked at a high temperature for a long time) and would certainly not be found anywhere near the perimeter of the store.

Why do we feed dry food to cats? The answers are simple. Grains are cheap. Dry food is convenient.

Affordability and convenience sells.

Do many cats survive on water-depleted, high-carb, plant-based, harshly-cooked, bacteria-laden dry kibble? Yes, many do. However I choose to feed a diet to my cats and my patients that will promote optimal health – not just survival. There is a significant difference between *thriving* and *surviving*.

ʻWe are what we eatʼ is not just a useless cliche. As noted above, diet is the foundation for optimal health of any living being – including our four-legged friends.

If you would like to read more about optimal feline nutrition, please visit where you will find this article in its entirety, as well as other writings on feline care including litter box issues and preparing a balanced homemade diet.

Posted on

10 Fun and Impressive Tricks You Need To Teach Your Dog by Mark Reed

Dogs are the best life companions; they give us unlimited hours of entertainment, endless love and affection, and absolute loyalty. Even if you spent a very tough day, coming back home to find your funny and excited buddy jumping with extreme joy will definitely boost your mood and make you forget all your problems.

However, training will help to keep your best buddy obedient, happy, and mentally active. Teaching your dog some effective tricks is a perfect way to let him express his affection and to keep him mentally stimulated and safe. Besides the typical commands such as stay, heel, and sit.


Shaking Paws or hands is an impressive dog trick that will amuse both of you. It is an easy trick that you can train your dog to do in a few training meetings. All you need to have is your dog and some of the treats. Here is how to do it:

First ask your dog to sit, Hold the treat in one hand and try to show it to your pup. Close your grip over the treat and ask your dog to shake by waving your closed grip to keep him focused on the treat.

The moment your dog interacts and touches your hand give him the treat and say “good” so he can remember the trick. Try to apply and practice shake paws for 10 minutes three times a day. Then you will notice that your pup will offer you his paw whenever you ask him to do it.

#2 – BACK UP

Another impressive dog trick is back up. This funny strategy can be practiced in several situations and will help you to keep him from crowding you at the refrigerator or rushing out the door or even entertaining you and your family. Back up is completely simple, all you need is to be patient and have some good dog treats. Here is how to do it:

First, give your dog the stay command, take few steps away from the dog and then look at him. Start to move towards your dog and tell him back up, the moment your dog starts to step back as you move towards him give him the treat and say “good boy”. Try to practice this training more than three times a day to make your pup respond more effectively to the commands.


© White

Taking a bow is actually a natural behavior that all dogs perform. The trick involves having your pup put his chest to the floor while maintaining his rear end up in the air. Dogs frequently bow when they play together or want to lure their companion to have some activities or exercise.

So, you won’t find it difficult to use your pup’s innate playfulness to train him for such a trick, also it is a perfect way to end a presentation of all the great new tricks your dog has acquired.

#4 – WAVE

© White

Training your pup to wave hi or bye is an amusing and a simple dog trick. It is a wonderful trick to salute family members and friends that was first deployed in the military service. When your dog learns how to shake paws, you will use the same strategy to train him to lift his paw to wave.

You just need to ask your dog to sit, hold the treat in front of him, take a yellow post-it note and make it above your dog’s eye. Whenever your dog raises his paw to remove it, reward him with a treat until he acquires the trick perfectly.

#5 – SPEAK

© White

When you train your dog to speak, you will solve a typical behavior problem that all puppies make. Dog trainers usually recommend using the quiet and the speak commands to put an end to redundant barking.

When you train your dog to speak or to stay quiet tricks will make you control his excessive barking in many situations. It is also entertaining to show off your pup’s conversational abilities especially at family and friends gatherings.

#6 – SPIN

Spinning is an exciting and a funny trick that is quite easy to train your puppy to do. You just need to hold a treat close to your pup’s nose and start to lure him into a spine. You can start for example with one direction; let’s say the right one, and then the opposite direction which is left. It is absolutely amazing to see how your smart puppy can differentiate between right and left.


© White

Training your dog to kiss is one of the simplest tricks to teach. Well, not everyone will enjoy his big, wet doggie kiss, but little kids will definitely want it. Yummy treats like cream cheese or peanut butter are all that you need to train your little puppy to give kisses.

Put a little treat on your cheek; say your command and you will soon be able to receive all the emotion you want from your passionate puppy.

#8 – BEG

© White

Begging is an adorable dog trick that can be little more difficult than the previous tricks, but with a little patience, you will be able to see your dog bagging at any time.

Here is how to do it: first you need to have all of your dog’s favorite treats ready; second, ask your dog to sit and give him the command “beg”; try to make the treat close enough to your puppy’s face so he can be attracted to reach it; as soon as he raises his head try to encourage him by saying motivating words.

Try to repeat these steps many times so your dog can acquire “begging” effectively.


© White

Rollover is another simple and easy trick that the majority of dogs do naturally when they want to allure you to play. The majority of people train a pup to roll over in different tiny parts and work up to make their dog roll all the way.

This trick will need some extra effort, but it is absolutely funny and entertaining, especially when you both go out for a morning exercise, you will absolutely enjoy it.


© White

Play dead is an entertaining trick that everyone wants to do. Your kids will be astonished when they see you holding your fingers like a pistol and say boom and your pup will fall to the ground spontaneously to play dead.

Although it looks awesome, it is not as difficult as you might think to teach your pup to do it, especially if you have already taught him to roll over effectively.

Posted on

Four Tricks to Keep Your Pet Safe on Halloween

I know that this article refers to cats and dogs but I believe it applies to many other types of pets too and they all need to have a safe Halloween.

Halloween is one of the spookiest nights of the year, especially for our pets. Many of the festivities that humans love – trick-or-treaters, costumes and decorations – can be scary, stressful or even dangerous for pets.

“Pet safety is always a priority for pet owners, but it needs to be especially top of mind on Halloween when the added noise and activity can give them a fright,” says Dr. Scott Weinman. “I used to live on a very busy street with hundreds of trick-or-treaters, so I would put my dog and cat in a private back room away from the commotion. In my experience, any time you change a pet’s routine, it can cause them anxiety and there’s an increased risk of escape. However, there are also a few simple ’tricks’ pet owners can use to make the night safer and more enjoyable for their four-legged friends.”

  1. Keep Your Treats Out of Reach

    Chocolate and sugar-free candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause serious problems for cats or dogs.1 If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, Dr. Weinman recommends that you “keep the wrapper and call your veterinarian, the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or HomeAgain’s 24-Hour Support Hotline (1-888-466-3242) immediately.”

  2. Create a Safe Haven

    “Keep all but the most social pets in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours, so they don’t get spooked and run outside or accidentally harm a child,” says Dr. Weinman.2 “You could even consider boarding your pet if you know that type of environment won’t cause added stress.”

    Also, be sure to keep jack-o-lanterns, wires or other decorations away from curious pets.1

  3. Find the Perfect Costume

    When looking for your pet’s costume, make sure it fits properly, doesn’t have any pieces that can easily be chewed off and doesn’t interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing or movement. Remember, your cat or dog may make the cutest superhero on the block, but you should only dress them in a costume if you know they love it. If they appear uncomfortable, consider letting them wear their “birthday suit” or a festive bandana instead. 1

  4. Unmask Their Secret Identity

    Always be sure your pet is wearing proper identification. A collar with ID tags and microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet – especially during the Halloween commotion. Luckily, with a HomeAgain® microchip and pet recovery system, you’ll give your pet the best chance of coming back home to you. “Being a HomeAgain® member has many advantages that can be particularly useful during busy holidays like Halloween. I had my cat microchipped when she was spayed, so I have peace of mind knowing that if she were ever to get lost, the entire HomeAgain® network would help her find her way home,” says Dr. Weinman. “It’s just important to remember to keep your contact information up-to-date and reach out to HomeAgain® immediately if your pet goes missing, so the team can ensure no time is wasted and also provide you with tools to help bring your pet home safely.”

    Click here to create or update your HomeAgain® pet profile today!


  1. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Halloween Safety Tips.
  2. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). 7 Things You Can Do To Make Halloween Safer For Your Pet.
Posted on

Parakeet 101

Parakeet (Budgie) Facts

average adult size: 7 inches long, head to end of tail
average life span: 10 to 20 years with proper care
diet: herbivores

Bird pet parents should avoid non-stick cookware and appliances as they can release fumes hazardous to your bird’s health.


A well-balanced parakeet diet consists of:

  • Specialized pellets should make up 60 to 70% of diet, plus fresh vegetables, fruits and small amounts of fortified seeds.
  • Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water, changed daily.
  • Do not feed birds avocado, fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol as these can cause serious medical conditions. Avoid sugar and high fat treats.


Things to remember when feeding your Pparakeet:

  • Fresh food and water should always be available.
  • Vegetables and fruits not eaten within a few hours should be discarded.
  • Treats should not exceed 10% of total food intake.


  • Parakeets acclimate well to average household temperatures, not to drop below 65°F or to exceed 80°F; be cautious of extreme temperature changes. The habitat should be placed off the floor in an area that is well-lit and away from drafts.
  • A habitat approximately 18″W x 18″D x 18″H, with metal bars spaced no greater than 1/2″ apart, makes a good home for one parakeet. It is best to provide the largest habitat possible.
  • Perches should be at least 4″ long and 3/8″ in diameter; a variety of perch sizes to exercise feet and help prevent arthritis is recommended.
  • A metal grate over the droppings tray will keep the bird away from droppings; line the droppings tray with habitat paper or appropriate substrate for easier cleaning. To avoid contamination, do not place food or water containers under perches.
  • Parakeets can be kept alone to bond with pet parent or in pairs to bond with each other. Different types of birds should not be housed together.

Normal Behavior

  • Parakeets are talkers, but their little voices are sometimes hard to hear.
  • Active and need daily time out of their habitats to interact with family.
  • Keep in pairs if unable to devote daily interaction time.
  • Provide foraging toys, which provide important mental stimulation.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Clean and disinfect the habitat and perches regularly with a 3% bleach solution; replace substrate or habitat liner weekly or more often as needed.
  • Replace perches, dishes, and toys when worn or damaged; rotate new toys into the habitat regularly.
  • Ensure that there are no habitat parts or toys with lead, zinc or lead-based paints or galvanized parts as these can cause serious medical issues if ingested by your bird.
  • Do not use a lot of cleaning agents around your bird as the fumes can be harmful. It is recommended to use a natural cleaning product.

Grooming & Hygiene

  • Provide filtered, chlorinefree, lukewarm water regularly for bathing; remove the water when done. As an alternative, mist the bird with water.
  • Clipping flight feathers, when done correctly, can help prevent injury or escape; consult an avian veterinarian on what is best for your bird.
  • Nails should be trimmed by a qualified person to prevent injury to the bird.


Signs of a Healthy Animal

  • Active, alert, and sociable
  • Eats and drinks throughout the day
  • Dry nares and bright, dry eyes
  • Beak, legs and feet normal in appearance
  • Clean, dry vent
  • Smooth, well-groomed feathers

Red Flags

  • beak swelling or accumulations
  • fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers
  • sitting on floor of habitat
  • wheezing or coughing
  • runny or discolored stools
  • favoring one foot when not sleeping
  • eye or nasal discharge
  • red or swollen eyes
  • loss of appetite

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Chlamydiosis Appetite loss, fluffed feathers, nasal discharge, lime green feces and conjunctivitus. Seek immediate avian veterinary attention.
Diarrhea Fecal portion of stool is not formed. Multiple causes from diet change to internal parasites. Consult with an avian veterinarian and ensure proper diet.
Feather plucking Bird plucks own feathers; may be due to boredom, poor diet or other illness. Consult your veterinarian and relieve boredom with attention, new toys or more room.
Mites (scaly face and leg disease) White deposits on eyes, beak, legs, and feet. Consult your veterinarian.


Because all birds are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Chlamydiosis, always wash your hands before and after handling your bird or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for birds and should consider not having a bird as a pet.

Go to for more information about birds and disease.

Note:The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Posted on

5 Ways Pets Change Our Lives!

In this blog we give you 5 ways pets change our lives for the better and the healthy well being they give us. I will also include personal stories of how people’s pets changed their owner’s lives.

1. Pets change our Lives by Keeping Us Fit:

Pets encourage physical activity, with research showing that people who walk their dogs regularly are less likely to be obese than those who do not. Pets change our lives by helping us be more active.

curtis + island

I have diabetes and always found it impossible to exercise regularly with my busy schedule. I was at a point where I just couldn’t make any progress on battling it.
When our son, Doni, moved out and took his dog Matrix with him, my wife said we needed another dog. I agreed on the condition that it was a younger dog that I could walk regularly, like a couple of times a week.
We went to visit Ruff House Rescue to see the available dogs and how the adoption process worked. We told Melissa our story, and she introduced us to several possible dogs.
We were ready to go home and give it some more thought. But there was no way that Melissa was going to let us leave Ruff House Rescue without a dog. We told her that we didn’t have a pet carrier; she lent us one. We told her that we didn’t have the adoption fee; she worked out the finances with us.

2. Pets Change Our Lives by Providing Social Support:

According to recent studies, interaction with animals helps children develop improved social skills including improved communication, decreased stress, and positive social interaction with their peers. Pets help us change our lives by social interaction with us.

lexi + charlie

There are two parts to this story.
Last April, a volunteer with Independent Animal Rescue spotted kittens climbing in and out of a dumpster. The dumpster was scheduled to be emptied the next morning. To reach the kittens, volunteers painstakingly pulled the trash from the dumpster.
“miraculously, she allowed it and began to pet him. it was clear that we would have to adopt this kitten.”
Hours later, they rescued a litter of five black kittens around three to four-weeks-old. They had runny eyes and noses, worms and fleas. They received wonderful care during the quarantine period at the shelter and then came to my home for foster care. The kittens made a seamless transition into our home.
The other half of this story involves a special little girl named Lexi.

Lexi came into our family over six years ago. Her first few years of life had been fraught with abuse and neglect. She was in the care of the Department of Social Services, but they could not find a home for her because of her special needs.
As a long-time paraprofessional in self-contained classrooms (where students receive special education services), they contacted me about fostering her. I had known her since age three and as a single parent, I admit, I was leery. Lexi has severe, nonverbal autism. She was aggressive and self-injurious. She did not want to be touched and had no self-help skills.
She came to live with us, and we fell in love with her and saw her potential. Today, Lexi is happy and a permanent member of our family, thriving in her school and community.
Lexi never demonstrated an affinity for animals. She ignored our dogs. She never harmed them; she just preferred that they not get too close to her.
When the kittens arrived, however, one kitten, Charlie, proved to be the leader of the pack. He was the first to do everything and the other kittens followed. He was also extraordinarily social and people-oriented from an early age. He seemed drawn to Lexi.
The first time we saw Charlie climb onto her lap, we collectively held our breath to see what would happen next. Miraculously, she allowed it and began to pet him. It was clear that we would have to adopt this kitten.
Over two years later, all the dumpster kittens are in great adoptive homes, and the bond between Lexi and Charlie continues to grow. He sleeps beside her at night and immediately finds her lap when she is sitting.
But more importantly, on bad days, when she is agitated, he positions himself across her body and seems to calm her. It has been an amazing thing to behold.
I can’t imagine Lexi’s life without Charlie, and I cannot thank the wonderful volunteers at Independent Animal Rescue for spending so many hours on that April morning saving Charlie and his littermates.

3. Pets Change Our Lives by Improving Mental Health:

Studies have shown that human-animal interaction helps improve psychological well being, decrease social isolation, and promote higher levels of life satisfaction. Pets change our lives by giving us that unconditional love and support we all need.

cory + bonnie

In 2012, my wife, Jessica, and I moved back to northern Michigan after spending eight years in the U.S. Army. Jessica and I were high school sweethearts and moving back home was a unanimous decision for both of us.
During my time in the military, I was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. My deployment to Iraq was especially challenging, both mentally and physically. During the 15-months, I was deployed as an Infantryman gunner, I sustained numerous injuries, including being shot and suffering a traumatic brain injury – the result of being thrown from my vehicle after it hit an IED (improvised explosive device).
“i lost quite a few friends during the war, which is something i think about every day.”
Moving back to the safe, beautiful community where I grew up was just what I needed. I was thrilled to be home. Shortly after moving back, Jessica and I started volunteering as dog walkers at the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society. I enjoyed it since it got me outside and helped get my mind off things.
One afternoon, at the insistence of my wife, we stopped by the kitten room. While most of the kittens seemed aloof and indifferent, one tiny, fuzzy-haired kitten teetered up to us and promptly curled up on my lap. She purred so loudly that her whole body vibrated.

After leaving the kitten room, we waited by the door and watched another couple go in. This kitten, who had just snuggled in my lap, didn’t want anything to do with the new couple. As we headed home, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. We already had two rescue dogs and a rescue cat. I figured we didn’t need another animal.
My time in the military taught me to think things through carefully and rationally. I don’t consider myself an impulsive person, but the next day, I went back to the shelter, filled out the adoption paperwork and brought her home. My wife was both surprised and thrilled when she came home from work that day.
I have not once regretted that decision. Bonnie has been an amazing addition to our home and an incredible source of peace for me personally. She loves to curl up on my lap and purr loudly, just like she did as a kitten. She frequently falls asleep on my chest at night. Her presence is calming. She helps me forget about what I endured during the war.
Even though we didn’t need another animal, I needed Bonnie. And I like to think that she needed me, too.

4. Pets Change Our Lives by Fighting Allergies:

Studies show that children exposed to pets early in life will develop stronger immune systems and be less likely to develop allergies as they grow up. Pets change our lives by strengthening our immune systems by introducing allergens in small amounts.

kellan + guinness

I adopted Guinness a year before I found out I was pregnant. Before I knew the results of the test, I felt he knew. Throughout my entire pregnancy, Guinness never left my side. He followed me everywhere and often slept with his head on my belly.
“but guinness loved my son the moment they met”
I had always known that Guinness was a special cat. He was loving and gentle and such a snuggle bunny. I never worried about how he was going to react to a new baby, but I was completely shocked at just how much he loved the baby and how well they got along.
People would tell me that cats get jealous and don’t like babies, but they’re wrong. When I brought my son home a month after he was born due to some health issues, my kitties were happy we were home. Two of my cats never thought much about the baby, unless he was crying. But Guinness loved my son the moment they met.

Guinness would gently walk around my son to find the best way to lay as close to him as possible – without actually laying on him. He cleaned the baby’s head and hands and whenever the baby cried, Guinness would come running to see what was going on with my son.
Now, a year later Guinness and Kellan are inseparable. They sleep together and share food (because the baby likes to feed the cat). When the baby is in the bath, Guinness stands next to the tub. The boys are a joy to watch. Guinness lets Kellan lay on him, pull on him and he never shows any aggressive behavior. He has never bitten or scratched, and when he has had enough, he moves just far enough away to keep watch, but out of reach.

My life was full before my son was born. Since he has arrived, I can’t tell you how much I love watching their relationship grow and flower. They truly are best friends, and I can’t imagine what my son’s life would be without Guinness. I look forward to many, many years of my boys spending time together and learning. Kellan has become very gentle and loving with the cat, and the cat shows more love than I could imagine. Shelter animals make the best and most loving family members. I am grateful that our shelter saved Guinness and that we could make him part of our lives.

5. Pets Change Our Lives by Supporting Healthier Hearts:

Research shows that people with pets are more likely to have lower blood pressure, decreased stress, and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Pets change our lives when we pet them and watch their antics.

sheryl + oscar

Five years ago, I died. My heart stopped at Penn Station in New York City, and I was dead.
The New York Police Department revived me, and I ended up having triple bypass surgery. My recovery was difficult and I was out of work for months. I had no energy, was sick, scared and needed help.
“when i was literally at my lowest, oscar lifted me up.”
I hadn’t had a dog in over five years, but I remembered that my last dog gave me a sense of purpose. So, I decided to adopt again. I searched on Petfinder and connected with Fur Babies Rescue & Referral Inc. They had just rescued a pregnant dog from North Carolina and transported her to Long Island where she gave birth to eight puppies in her foster home.

I requested the largest male dog (I like big dogs and I cannot lie!) and they reserved him for me. I met him at four-weeks-old. It was love at first sight. Four weeks later, he was mine. I named him Oscar.
Soon after, Oscar and I were taking walks together and snuggling on the sofa. He gave me the exercise I needed and the will and encouragement I lacked for my recovery.
A couple of months after his adoption, I visited the cardiologist and received my first positive post-op checkup. Before that, things weren’t going very well. He asked me what I had done differently, and I told him I had adopted a puppy. He said, “Then I wish I could prescribe a puppy to all my patients!”
Oscar was helping me heal. He got me up and out doing things that improved both my mental and physical health. Oscar loved me unconditionally, even with a big, ugly 12-inch scar on my chest that made me so self-conscious. He makes me feel safe and happy. He gave me a reason to try. When I was literally at my lowest, Oscar lifted me up.

As I got better, I wanted to give something back to others. So, we trained and Oscar passed the Therapy Dog Certification test on his first try. We now volunteer at the local library for their kids “Read to Me” program. We also volunteer for Dogs on Deployment by helping find foster homes for soldiers’ pets, so they don’t have to give them up.
Oscar just turned four. I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without him. I just celebrated my “Second Fifth Birthday.” I get to have two birthdays every year now; the day I was born, and the day I came back to life.
Oscar has no idea what he has done for me. He just loves me. I love him more. He saved me.
From cozier naps, to longer walks, or by fighting allergies and keeping us fit, pets change our lives everyday, so let’s save theirs!

Consider adopting a pet and see for yourself how Pets change our lives!

Posted on

Doggie Emergency 911

“Your dog may have snuck out the door and gotten hit by a car, or maybe you were hiking and your dog slipped and was injured. Even if you do all the right things – keep your dog on a leash and in a fenced-in backyard when he’s outside – accidents do happen.”

Cindy was walking her black Labrador Retriever, Shadow, when the stray dogs came from nowhere. She yelled at the dogs and threw whatever she could find, but the strays attacked Shadow anyway. The dogs finally ran away when a Good Samaritan passing by in his car got out to  help her. Shadow was down, whining and shaking on the sidewalk, his leg punctured and bleeding. It hung limply as though a bone was broken.

This nightmare is all too familiar to many pet owners. The injury may not have been from an attack. Your dog may have snuck out the door and gotten hit by a car, or maybe you were hiking and your dog slipped and was injured. Even if you do all the right things – keep your dog on a leash and in a fenced-in backyard when he’s outside – accidents do happen. Do you know what to do if your dog is injured?

First, be prepared to get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. That means having the closest emergency veterinarian’s office number on speed dial and entered into your cell phone. If you’re out of town, call 1888 Home Again to be connected to 24/7 emergency medical support. Other potential resources are cabbies, the yellow pages, or hotel concierges.

  1. Assess the damage. What are the injuries? You’ll need to be able to tell the veterinarian what injuries you have noticed.
  2. If your dog doesn’t have a pulse, you should know how to perform CPR. If your dog isn’t breathing, you’ll have to resuscitate him. Your veterinarian can show you how to do this properly. Ask your veterinarian about canine CPR before you have an emergency. There are also DVDs and videos on canine CPR available on the market.
  3. Injured dogs often don’t want to be handled, and may bite if you approach. If your dog won’t let you touch him, you’ll have to muzzle him. Even the gentlest dogs will bite when in pain. It’s not your dog’s fault – it’s just a natural instinct.
  4. In a pinch, a leash, belt, or tie can act as a temporary muzzle. Start at the top of the dog’s muzzle and place the tie under the jaw and the knot it in the middle. Then take the two ends of the tie and knot them behind the dog’s head snugly. Warning: Do not muzzle the dog if he is having trouble breathing or if there is a sucking chest wound.
  5. If there are obvious broken bones, try to slip something sturdy under the dog to act as a stretcher. If there isn’t something sturdy, you may be able to create a makeshift stretcher from blankets.
  6. If you notice arterial bleeding (squirting blood), apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. Use bandages or cloth, whatever is handy.
  7. Get your dog to the veterinarian as quickly as possible.
  8. In other situations where you are far away from a clinic, you may have to take care of your dog yourself. Have your veterinarian tell you how to put together a first aid kit and show you how to use the equipment are obvious broken bones, try to slip something sturdy under the dog to act as a stretcher. If there isn’t something sturdy, you may be able to create a makeshift stretcher from blankets.
  9. Get your dog to the veterinarian as quickly as possible.