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Why Turtles and Tortoises Make Good Pets! by Clarice Brough CRS

With few exceptions, Chelonians (Turtles) make harmless and appealing pets. They adapt well in captivity and with proper care can live a long time. They have fewer health problems than the average cat or dog and can be quite lively, colorful, and attractive. They display intelligence, recognizing their keepers and knowing when it’s feeding time.

Some are easier to keep and more readily available than others. Most of those commonly sold in pet stores are fairly inexpensive and require simple care.

Choose a beginner type to start with. A water turtle or box turtle make a good starter pet. Once you’ve learned about them and cared for them, you will find them to be amazing pets. As your skills and knowledge increase you will gain an even greater appreciation of these incredible animals, and may wish to explore keeping the more advanced Chelonians.

Social Behaviors

There are some personality characteristics that are common to all turtles and tortoises. They are quiet, shy, and harmless yet display intelligence. They can identify their keepers and know when it’s feeding time.

Turtles and tortoises are very sensitive to loud noises, vibrations, and sudden bright lights. Move slowly around them as they can be quick to frighten if they feel threatened. If frightened, most will withdraw their head, legs, and tail into their shells; though aquatic turtles will first try to swim quickly away. Those with less shell have developed other defense mechanisms; like the snappers who have an extremely strong mouth, the musk turtles which can emit a rather distasteful odor, and some that have strong claws or extreme agility. Once they have withdrawn, they are often very slow to re-emerge.

Turtles and tortoises are quite happy and content being kept as a single pet. Though most species can usually be kept together, there can be territorial tension, especially when in breeding mode. This is most apparent when different species are kept together. Some tortoises have been known to ram and even kill other tortoise species.

Always wash your hands before and after handling!

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How to Choose Your Turtle or Tortoise

When deciding which turtle or tortoise is for you, keep the following basic considerations in mind:

  • How much do you want to spend?
  • How much space do you have for it?
  • How hardy is it and how easy is it to care for?
  • What color, shape and size do you want and is that turtle or tortoise readily available?
  • Another very important consideration in choosing a turtle or tortoise involves the type of environment it needs. See also: Guide to a Happy, Healthy Box Turtle

To pick a healthy turtle or tortoise, here are some things to look for:

  • Make sure the eyes are bright and clear, no discharge or encrustations.
  • Make sure the eyelids are not swollen or puffy.
  • Listen to it’s breathing, no wheezing or bubbles coming from the nostrils.
  • Avoid those that are gasping with an open mouth
  • The turtle should not be listless, its limbs should be working.
  • Make sure the limbs are not dangling or weak when you pick it up.
  • Make sure the limbs don’t look thin and spindly.
  • Look for any open, unhealed wounds on the soft areas of the turtle.
  • For aquatic turtles, release it in the water. It should submerge rapidly and it shouldn’t swim with one side higher than the other.
  • The shell should be firm unless it is a soft-shell turtle (leathery shell) or a hatchling.
  • Cracks and pits are not necessarily an indication of anything wrong, but be sure to check them to make sure there is not any type of infection or unhealed wounds.

Many turtles and tortoises are protected so check with authorities in your area on laws governing your selection.

Housing & Care

Knowing what type of turtle or tortoise you have will help you determine what type of housing your pet will need to keep it happy and healthy. Your pet’s housing is also what provides its sense of security. Be sure to also check the page describing your particular turtle or tortoise for more in depth information on its specific needs.

Each turtle or tortoise has a specific type of environment that it needs. There are basically three habitat types:

Water Turtles: Aquatic and Semi-aquatic turtles.

Those that are closely tied to the water which includes the aquatic turtles and also some of the semi-aquatic turtles. These turtles have a long history of being kept as successful pets.

  • Aquatic turtles kept indoors are most commonly housed in an aquarium. Outdoor housing is usually seasonal, used during the warmer months, and is generally some type of pond. These turtles produce a lot of waste so their water will need to be heavily filtered. Basking types will need a large smooth rock or a partially submerged log to climb on and ‘sun’ themselves. The non-basking types will simply float at the top of the water, but also like to climb on floating vegetation to bask.
  • Semi-aquatic turtles can also be housed in an aquarium but will need more land than water. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but a common method is to provide a water dish in one corner of an aquarium or a terrarium that is firmly anchored to the bottom. They can climb in and soak and then climb back out again.
    Because they need a larger land area, there are many types of enclosures that can be used, as long as they are provided with a water area. They can also be kept outdoors, again usually seasonally.

Land Turtles and Tortoises
Those that live mostly on land which includes all the tortoises and many of the land turtles, box turtles.

  • Land turtles require less equipment and it is easier to maintain a clean terrarium than an aquarium. These turtles also seldom carry diseases that can be passed to humans.
  • Land turtles are often set up in terrariums rather than aquariums, because the bulk of their environment does not need to be water. They will need access to clean water in a spill proof water dish. They can also be kept in an outdoor enclosure.
  • Tortoises need almost the same type of enclosure as the land turtles but even drier conditions, similar to the desert type of box turtle. They too will need access to clean water in a spill proof water dish. They can also be kept in an outdoor enclosure. An outdoor enclosure not only reduces the maintenance workload but allows for plenty of room, which is important for larger tortoises.

Heating and Lighting

All turtles and tortoises thermoregulate their body temperature by sunning themselves. You will need to provide a source of heat and light for both turtles and tortoises. This helps not only to stimulate them to eat, but also provides the necessary external heat for thermoregulation. A general rule of thumb is that Chelonians will be most content in daytime temperatures between 75 – 85° F (24 – 29° C) and a brightly lit hot spot for basking.

For aquatic turtles, you can use a submersible heater if there is enough water or an undertank heater. Use a thermometer to measure the water temperature. For all types or turtles and tortoises provide an incandescent bulb mounted about 12 – 18″ (30 – 45 cm) above the basking area. This heat source needs to maintain the basking area at about 88 – 94° F (31 – 24° C). If you are housing your turtles indoors then you should also provide full-spectrum lighting. Outdoor environments can eliminate the need for artificial lighting and heat requirements.

Shelter

Besides needing adequate light and heat to warm themselves, all turtles and tortoises need a cool secluded area to sleep. They will also use this area if they are getting to warm. Aquatic turtles often sleep submerged, but near to the surface around twigs or vegetation. Semi-aquatic turtles will sleep burrowed into grassy areas or a sphagnum moss substrate. Land turtles and tortoises will do well with a small shed or bushy area.

Diet:

Water: All turtles and tortoises need readily available clean water.

  • Aquatic turtles can dehydrate if kept out of the water for too long. They need to be able to fully submerge themselves, and many must be submerged in order to swallow their food.
  • Semi-aquatic turtles need to occasionally get wet all over, but won’t spend all their time in the water.
  • Tortoises and land turtles need a spill proof water dish available.

Food: Daily feedings not only take care of the immediate energy needs of turtles and tortoises, but provide for their long term health. You can tell if your pet is hungry, because it will be acting restless, moving around nosing things. If a chelonian goes too long without nourishment it can become quite weak. If it gets too weak, it will loose all interest in eating and it can be difficult to get it to start eating again.

  • Aquatic turtles diet varies as an adult from what it eats as a juvenile. As a juvenile it will eat vegetable matter, but also insects and worms. As an adult it becomes primarily a vegetarian, eating dark green leafy plants.
  • Land turtles are omnivorous their whole life, eating many kinds of vegetables and fruits as well as earthworms and even occasional bits of dog food.
  • Tortoises are primarily vegetarians, but they do enjoy a wide variety of vegetables and some fruits.
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7 Horrific Diseases Your Dog Can Get from Swimming

The temperature is getting higher and the lovely summer days arrive in just a few weeks. The majority of dogs love to beat the heat by getting into the water to refresh themselves while others would swim whenever they get the chance to.

However, there are common recreational water sources that include some organisms which can put your dog’s health at great risk not only your dog but other pets too! Most of the article is directed at dogs but these diseases can affect many other pets too!

According to several veterinarians across the United States, dogs are commonly diagnosed with some waterborne diseases. They urge pet owners to pay more attention especially during summer. This article is not to scare you but only to inform you should your pet develop symptoms and also to look for waters that your pet should not swim in.
HERE ARE SEVEN MOST COMMON AND MOST FEARED DISEASES YOUR DOG CAN GET FROM WATER:

  1. LEPTOSPIROSIS

Leptospirosis is a common waterborne disease that’s usually found in warm regions with high rainfall and can be found worldwide.

 

The deadly bacteria that cause this disease don’t only infect dogs but also humans. Infection occurs when an animal comes in contact with contaminated water or urine.
Canines that frequently swim in streams, lakes, and rivers are at the highest risk of being infected.

Leptospirosis is difficult to diagnose because the signs can largely vary, some common symptoms include kidney failure, jaundice, urination disorder, vomiting, shivering, muscle tenderness, and fever. However, these signs are seen in many other illnesses, so vets rely on exposure history to diagnose this disease.

Suspected cases should be handled with extreme care because they can pass it to humans. If untreated, it can lead to death, but many dogs respond well to early proper treatment.

  1. PYTHIOSIS

Pythiosis is also called swamp cancer. It’s a rare but serious waterborne disease. It’s known as a plants’ disease but can also infect animals (with horrible outcomes).

 

The disease is found in warmer atmospheres, especially in the Gulf States, South America, and Southeast Asia. It can attach itself to gastrointestinal tract or skin wounds in order to keep growing.

If it got through the skin, you’ll notice large red itchy lumps, while if it started in the GI tract, there would be signs like diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting.

Pythiosis is most common in Labrador, a dog breed that immensely loves swimming.
Sadly, it’s hard to diagnose and isn’t exposed until advanced stages, it’s also resistant to many treatments, leaving a one and only option which is surgery.

  1. BLUE/GREEN ALGAE

Water-loving pups are highly attracted to freshwater ponds and lakes, especially during summer. Owners should be careful because it can bear a dense buildup of blue-green algae.

 

This terrible disease can produce toxins which cause severe effects on both pets and humans.

Algal toxins have many different forms and can affect the nervous system, liver, GI tract, or skin. Symptoms depend on the type of toxin a pet was exposed to and can include seizures, respiratory failure, vomiting, nausea, rashes, and death.

Owners should keep their dogs away from swimming in all lakes that have visible algal blooms (it’s impossible to tell whether the algae produces toxins), and must be instantly report to their vet any doubtful signs of sickness after swimming.

  1. GIARDIASIS

Giardiasis is one of many parasites that usually cause diarrhea in dogs and humans. It isn’t regarded as a main zoonotic disease as well as it’s not necessarily passed from dogs to humans.

It particularly leads to a sudden onset of diarrhea in dogs and can cause weight loss and dehydration if the pet has been infected for a long period.

Most cases are self-limiting and easygoing. Medications can fasten recovery in contaminated pets.

  1. CRYPTOSPORIDIOSIS

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium and is one of the most horrible waterborne diseases.

Several species of this parasite exist in various animals. Unfortunately, some of it can also infect humans.

Cryptosporidium is very resistant and can survive almost any environment, as it’s protected by a thick outer shell.

Dogs can be infected through digesting contaminated water or food.

This disease can lead to severe dehydration and causes watery diarrhea. Luckily, most cases are rarely life-threatening and symptoms disappear in two weeks with proper treatment.

  1. SCHISTOSOMIASIS

Dog owners in Louisiana and Texas should be extra careful and always keep an eye on their water-loving pups.

Canine Schistosomiasis is caused by an organism that penetrates the dog’s skin while swimming in contaminated freshwater and then travels through the lungs into the liver. Moreover, adults produce eggs which pass through the GI tract and are shed in the feces.

These eggs cause terrible inflammation that usually manifests as lethargy, weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. The chronic nature of the inflammatory lesions can make the treatment quite challenging.

This organism is not interested in humans as a host, however, it can cause skin rashes.

  1. PSEUDOMONAS

This disease is a common organism linked to chronic ear infections in dogs and can have several causes, including underlying, yeast, and bacteria. Causative agents can also be found in water, particularly in pools.

Dogs that tend to have ear infections can see it coming, with the smelly head, the itchy ear canals, and the shaking head.

The infection can usually be treated with flushes and appropriate treatments if it’s limited to the outer ear canal.

Owners who have pups with large floppy ears and an immense love for swimming should be extremely careful.

  1. KNOW THE WATER BEFORE ALLOWING YOUR PUP TO JUMP INTO IT

It’s necessary to keep in mind that swimming-related deadly diseases are rare in dogs. Just remember to avoid ponds and pools.

If your pooch happens to show any sign of sickness after a swim, you should take them immediately to your vet and mention the recent water exposure.

Simply, know where you pooch is getting wet and if you wouldn’t swim in it then maybe they also shouldn’t.

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Ways Your Dog Shows You Love BY DR. MARTY BECKER DVM

We know that we love our dogs. Mine are as much real members of the family as my wife and children and my little granddaughter, Reagan. But do they love us back?

I think so, and I think they show us that love in ways that are distinctly individual to each dog and person. Gracie, my female Lab/Pit mix, makes a throaty woof when she wants me to find treats. Quora, our 11-year-old PomPeiCarrier ( Pomeranian, Shar-Pei, Cairn Terrier cocktail), does a little tap dance on the floor, which means she’s happy and ready for loving or playing. And Quixote, our 12-year-old Porkhuahua ( Pomeranian, Yorkie, Chihuahua blend), likes to find my wife, Teresa, and bump her with his nose to let her know he’s keeping tabs on her.

Recently, scientists have begun to explore more deeply the question of which emotions animals feel and how they display them. What they’ve found bolsters my belief even further.

Here are some of the ways, through body language, brain response and the choices they make, that I think our dogs show us love.

Sight, Sound, Smell

They are willing to make eye contact with us. In the world of dogs, making eye contact can be an aggressive act. Polite dogs, who just want to get along, avoid the long, hard stare that can intimidate or challenge other dogs. They don’t stare at people that way either, but they accept our looks of love and will even seek out eye contact from us. When our dogs are happy and comfortable with us, they give us that special gaze that says, “All is right with the world.” Their eyes are relaxed and normal size, showing little of the white. To build a closer relationship with your dog, you can teach him to look at you for guidance.

They react happily to the sound of our voice. Don’t you love it when you come home and call your dog, and he comes bounding joyfully to you? It’s even more special when he leaves a fascinating scent or favorite toy (or brings it to you) to come and greet you. I think it’s one of the best feelings in the world, even if sometimes it’s just cupboard love.

They know our scent. Did you know that your scent triggers activity in the reward center of your dog’s brain? The area known as the caudate nucleus is rich in dopamine receptors, and in humans, it lights up when we anticipate pleasurable experiences, such as eating Mom’s fried chicken or reuniting with someone we love. Neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when he trained dogs to enter an MRI machine willingly and unsedated and then scanned their brains while presenting them with the odors of different people, only one type of smell activated the caudate: that of someone they knew.  In his book, How Dogs Love Us, he writes: “Could it be longing? Or love? It seemed entirely possible. These patterns of brain activation looked strikingly similar to those observed when humans are shown pictures of people they love.”

 

Puppy Love

They wag their tails. Lots of people think a tail wag is always a friendly gesture, but it can have lots of different meanings — some not so nice. But when our dogs give a full-body wag with the tail held at mid-height, the message is clear: They’re happy and excited to see the person they love. Take a close look next time you see one of these happy wags: If your dog’s tail wags more to the right side of his rear when he sees you, it’s a signal that he feels good about your presence. That intriguing bit of information was discovered by an Italian neuroscientist and two veterinarians who used cameras to track the tail-wag angles of 30 pet dogs as they were shown their owner, a person they didn’t know, a cat and an unfamiliar dog. When the dogs saw their owners, their tails wagged most strongly to the right side of the body.

They snuggle with us. Touch is an intrinsic part of any loving relationship. There’s nothing so satisfying as sitting or lying on a sofa or sprawling on the floor with one dog tucked in at the crook of your knees and a couple more snuggled in on either side of you. Other dogs might lean against us, sleep with a head on our feet or lay a paw on our knee. I don’t know that there’s any scientific proof that this means our dogs love us, but it sure feels that way to me. They could lie on their beds or curl up with each other, but they choose to be physically close to their human family members. That’s really special.

They smile at us. Canine smiles have several meanings, but when your dog’s mouth is open and relaxed, what you’re most likely seeing is a calm, happy dog. That expression may demonstrate that our dogs are glad to see us, according to research showing that humans and animals use the same muscles to express emotion — including the muscles that form a smile. Naturalist Charles Darwin, who loved dogs, wrote about canine affection for people more than 100 years ago: “But man himself cannot express love and humility by external signs so plainly as does a dog, when with drooping ears, hanging lips, flexuous body, and wagging tail, he meets his beloved master. Nor can these movements in the dog be explained by acts of volition or necessary instincts, any more than the beaming eyes and smiling cheeks of a man when he meets an old friend.”

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Lizard Cages 101 – Tips on Housing a Pet Lizard

Lizards are an incredibly diverse group of animals. In the wild, the live in a wide range of habitats, from the driest deserts to the steamiest rain forests. Some lizards are herbivores, some are omnivores, and some eat only insects. Certain types of lizards can live on fruit flies, while others species like the Komodo dragon will eagerly dine on large mammal carcasses.

What’s my point? The point is that different lizard species have different environmental needs, and those differences may be worlds apart. So when you are shopping for lizard cages and creating a habitat for your captive pet, you need to understand how it lives in the wild and what it needs in captivity. For example, the cage setup for a uromastyx lizard would be completely inappropriate for a panther chameleon.

First, let’s talk about some of the key considerations for lizard caging. Then we will talk about the best types of cages for certain lizard species commonly kept as pets.

What Your Lizard Cage Must Provide

Security. Heating. Humidity. Lighting. Space. These are the five key factors you must keep in mind when choosing a lizard cage for your new pet. So let’s talk about these five considerations:

1. Security Requirements

The cage must be able to keep your pet from escaping. Likewise, it must also protect your pet lizard from intruders, such as the household dog or cat. Some lizards are very good at escaping, so it’s best to choose a professional cage designed specifically for the type of pet you want to keep. I do not recommend building your own lizard cage unless (A) you start with a good plan and (B) you have the right skills for the job.

2. Heat Control

First, you need to research the temperature requirements for the lizard species you plan to keep. Then you must choose a type of cage that allows you maintain those temperatures. You can heat a reptile enclosure in several ways, but the cage must be able to hold the heat in some way.

3. Humidity Control

Some lizards have higher moisture requirements. Some are desert dwellers and need a dry cage, while others are tropical Certain types of lizards have high humidity requirements. Tropical species, for example, need to be kept in a cage or tank that maintains a higher level of humidity than a desert-dwelling species.

4. Sufficient Lighting

Most lizards are sun lovers. A few species spend a lot of time burrowing underground. But for the most part, lizards need frequent exposure to sunlight. In captivity, you can’t always duplicate this. So you have to do the next best thing. You have to use full-spectrum lights to duplicate the benefits of the sun (as much as possible). Remember this when choosing a lizard cage for your pet. It must allow the use of special lighting, as needed for your chosen species.

5. Space and Orientation

Sure, that baby iguana is cute. And it’s so tiny! But a full-grown green iguana could be nearly six feet in length and will require plenty of cage space. On the other hand, certain species like the geckos can be housed in much smaller enclosures. You will need to research the space requirement for your pet lizard, and make sure you can meet those requirement before you bring the animal home.

You also need to choose a cage that is oriented properly for your particular pet, depending on whether it spends most of its time on the ground or in trees.
Recommendations for Different Lizards

So now we’ve discussed the general considerations for lizard cages, let’s move on to some specific recommendations for different species. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but it does cover the types of lizards most commonly kept as pets.

Bearded Dragon Bearded Dragon — This is one of the most popular types of pet lizards, and part of the reason is that they are easy to house. Plastic enclosures (such as those made by Vision cages) work well with bearded dragons, and so do basic glass terrariums. Adults should be housed in 55 gallon terrariums or larger, or a plastic cage that’s about 4 feet long and 2 feet deep. Ordinary sand works well as a substrate. You’ll also need to provide a basking area, as well as some full-spectrum lighting (UVA / UVB). Learn more about housing a bearded dragon.

Green Iguana Green Iguana — When they are full grown, iguanas are much larger than any of the other lizard species on this list. So keep that in mind for future reference. When your green iguana reaches adult size, it’s going to need a lot of space. In other words, this is probably not best lizard for you if you live in a small apartment. The cage should be twice the length of the iguana or larger, and it should be tall enough to allow for perching and basking. As with most other lizards, proper lighting is important here as well. Learn more about housing a green iguana.

Leopard Gecko Leopard Gecko — These popular lizards can be housed in a much smaller space than a green iguana, for obvious reasons. A 20-gallon terrarium will suffice for leopard geckos. If you house many specimens together, you may need more space. Do not put more than one male in the same cage. The males are very territorial and will fight each other. The leopard gecko spends most its time on the ground (unlike some gecko species), you don’t need a very tall cage. Width is better than height. As always, lighting and heating are important for these lizards. Learn more about housing leopard geckos.

Chameleon Chameleons — Before you purchase a chameleon and bring it home as a pet, you need to make sure you’re up to the task. These lizards can be a real challenge to care for, more so than the other species on the list. Having the right cage is very important. Chameleons should be kept in all-screen cages, as opposed to glass or plastic. Proper lighting is absolutely critical with these lizards. Keeping them in direct sunlight is ideal, but when that’s not practical you’ll need some fairly strong full-spectrum bulbs. Chameleons need tall cages that allow them to climb and thermoregulate. Learn more about housing chameleons.

I hope this guide helps you choose the right type of lizard cage for your pet. Remember, start by choosing a cage that provides the five requirements listed above. Next, learn everything you can about the care requirements for the particular species you plan to keep. Do this before you bring the lizard home. Your pet’s health depends on it.

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Pets Can Be a Prescription for Happier, Healthier Life by Teddi Dineley

We include them in our family portraits, make room for them on our beds, tell them our deepest secrets and miss work when they’re sick. And whether they paw, fly or swim their way into our hearts, pets are an important part of our lives.

America is a nation of animal lovers. According to the National Pet Owners Survey, about two-thirds of U.S. households own at least one pet, which means 71 million homes provide shelter for at least one furry, feathery or scaly critter. We take good care of our pets, but did you know that our pets also take good care of us? A growing body of research suggests that owning and interacting with a pet can improve our health.

Besides loving you unconditionally, studies show that those wagging, purring or hopping bundles of love can reduce your stress levels, tame your blood pressure, curb your depression, reduce feelings of loneliness, keep you physically fit and even help you live longer.

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Photos courtesy iStockphoto. Fish by Lisa Gagne, bird by Robert Byron, rabbit and bulldog by Eric Isselée

Some studies suggest that children who are exposed to furry pets as infants are less likely to develop allergies.

“There are lots of studies showing that pets are good for our health,” says Rebecca Johnson, PhD, RN, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.

Enjoying pawsitive energy

Researchers are busy studying the many ways our pets can benefit our health. Several large studies suggest that Fluffy and Fido — in addition to winning your heart — can improve the way your heart works. A National Institutes of Health study of 420 adults who had suffered heart attacks showed that pooch owners were significantly more likely to still be kicking — and their tickers still ticking — one year later than were poochless patients, regardless of how serious the heart attack. In another study of 240 married couples, those who owned pets had lower heart rates and blood pressure, both at rest as well as under stress.

Your best bud can also improve your circulation. A study involving cat owners found they have fewer strokes than their feline-free counterparts.

“The reduction in blood pressure through interaction with a companion animal has been shown in many studies,” Johnson says. “It’s practically the oldest finding we have.”

The “relaxation response” has even been shown when people kick back and watch their fish swim, Johnson says.

Happy tails

At the end of a long day, who doesn’t enjoy coming home to a cold nose, a wagging tail and a slobbery kiss? But is it okay to kiss our pets?

It’s not a good idea to let your pets lick you on the mouth, says Jennifer Wright, DVM, MPH, a veterinary epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you want to kiss your dog or cat, the top of her or his head is the preferred place to plant kisses.

“The rewards you get from your pets are much greater than the risk of acquiring an illness from a well-cared for pet,” Wright says.

Just like people, our pets can carry certain bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, so get into the habit of washing your hands after interacting with your pets. This is especially important for children and for people with compromised immune systems.

If you have a child younger than five, don’t bring turtles, amphibians such as frogs, or baby chicks into your home. Small kids can’t resist picking up these cute critters, but there’s a downside: They shed salmonella bacteria, which can cause serious illness, especially in small children, elderly people and folks with chronic conditions.

Pet-to-person infections can occur if you are bitten or scratched by an infected animal, or have contact with an infected pet’s waste or saliva. Cats and dogs can carry bacterial infections in their intestinal tracts, and parasites can be present in their waste. If you have small children, make sure the cat’s litter box is not accessible to them. Kids will put anything in their mouths, so you don’t want them in your cat’s toilet.

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Keeping up with your pet’s vaccinations will help keep your pet healthy and reduce the risk of someone in your family contracting an animalborne infection.

“There are benefits to having pets, you just have to be aware that there are some risks and they are all perfectly preventable risks,” Wright says.

Parade your pooch

In terms of getting you off the couch and out the door, dogs have the edge.

“You’re not going to walk a snake,” Johnson says. “Dogs will facilitate physical exercise better than cats or other nonwalking pets.”

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Studies show that dog owners who regularly walk their hounds lose pounds and are more physically active overall than those who don’t own or walk a dog. In addition to getting you outdoors — rain or shine — your pooch provides “social lubrication,” she says.

In other words, when you’re out walking Max, people are more likely to strike up conversations with you. And some research shows that neighborhoods where people walk dogs regularly are viewed as friendlier and safer.

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January & February are Bad Months for Christmas Pets

According to the SPCA and Humane Society, in the next 4-8 weeks, you’ll all be seeing the “We need to re-home our pet…” posts. These are the people who went ahead and purchased puppies & kittens as Christmas gifts who are suddenly allergic, moving, having a baby, don’t have time, their kids won’t take care of it, didn’t think they’d get so big, blah, blah, blah. Problem is, almost 90% of unwanted pets, sadly end up in kill shelters. That is just wrong in so many ways. If you bring a pet home, you need to be able to care for that pet until the end of their lives.

Allow me to break it down for you.

You didn’t know you had an allergy? Oops. Don’t let the pet suffer, buy some allergy medicine, if you love your pet, it’s absolutely worth a shot.

You’re moving? What city are you moving to that doesn’t allow dogs? Bullshitville? You have a responsibility to your living, breathing family member to plan ahead to find a house, apartment or condo that will ALLOW your family member. Period.

Oh, you had no idea you were due to have a baby in 2 months? Interesting. Get a dog trainer if you’re housing a breed you fear might become an issue. It’s also worth a shot.

Don’t have time for ONE 15 minute walk, or to have a dog just sit next to you while you’re home? Really? So they’re better off in a shelter than waiting in your house for you to get home? Ok, perhaps get another pet to keep them company or look for a local dog-sitter.

Oh, you mean your 5 year old didn’t step up to the plate to feed, walk and scoop poop? And this surprised you? I guess it’s time for YOU to step up and model responsibility for your child.

Wrong size? Not cute as an adult? Not quite the personality you expected? Look in a mirror, how did you turn out? Should we send you back?

Please put a lot of thought and preparation before bringing a pet home no matter how cute, how impulsive, how much you think you want to bring it home. You need to be sure you can care for it during its lifetime. Once you bring a pet home, it is yours to care for until the day it crosses the Rainbow Bridge.

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Your Cat Etiquette Guide: How to Help Your Cat Mind Her Manners at Holiday Parties

A carefully crafted holiday party guest list includes lots of different types of people. But what about your cat? Is she the social type who has never met a stranger she didn’t like? Or is she so shy that your friends don’t even know you have a cat? Is she a door dasher or a committed climber or a nosy parker? And how can you manage her manners while you’re tending to your guests?

Here are some simple tips for helping your cat be on her best behavior during your holiday party — no matter her personality type.

The No-Show

If your feline ducks for cover when people arrive, set up a cat-safe space for her where she can retreat from the holiday happenings. Gather all of her necessities — litterbox, food, water, bedding, toys, perch areas and scratching posts — in a room that is off-limits to party guests. Soothing music and sound buffers, such as a rolled towel placed against the door, can help mute bothersome party noise, and a spritz of pheromone spray on the towel or on bedding can help to calm your cat’s nerves.

If possible, arrange the space a few days before your party and give your cat time to get comfortable before the festivities start. During the party, check in every so often to see how she’s doing and offer her a treat.

The Wallflower

If your cat is friendly but takes a while to warm up to new people, let her sit out the chaos of arrivals in her cat-safe room. Once guests are settled, encourage her to come out by offering rewards, like her favorite treats and toys. If your kitty knows some tricks — high-five or come when called are two you can teach in advance — have her perform these for your guests. Tricks give her a familiar way to interact with new people.

Be sure to provide easily accessible retreat areas in case your cat becomes overwhelmed or afraid. Climbers that raise her above the crowd or boxes she can hide in can be helpful if she needs a moment to herself. And make sure she has access to her cat-safe room if she decides she’s done with the party.

The Social Butterfly

Socialite kitties are likely to relish the extra human attention available during a holiday party. But it’s important to remember that not all of your guests will love your cat as much as you do, or welcome her overtures. Unfortunately, these are often the first people your cat will try to make friends with. Redirect her toward a toy or a more cat-friendly visitor with a hand lure or target. (Of course, you’ll have to teach that behavior well in advance of the party.)

A super-social cat may also direct play behavior toward your guests’ hands, feet and clothes — especially if she lacks other options to sink her teeth or claws into instead. To help put a stop to this behavior, always redirect cat play to toys, instead of hands, feet or clothing. During your gathering, place a varied selection of toys near areas where guests will congregate; use them to help turn your cat’s attention away from your friends and their party clothes.

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Why Does My Pet… Get So Lumpy as He Ages? BY DR. PATTY KHULY VMD

It’s not pretty, but it’s a fact of life: We all get older. For some of our pets, that means often unsightly, suspicious and definitely disconcerting growths that arise on, in or just beneath the skin. Though often benign, these unwanted lumps and bumps are never cosmetically pleasing and may well represent problems that are more than skin deep.

But first, a quick primer on the semantics of superficial lumps and bumps: Veterinarians commonly refer to these as “masses,” “tumors” or “growths,” regardless of their provenance or potential cancerous-ness.

No matter what we call them, one thing is clear: Almost all kinds of lumps and bumps appear much more often on older pets –– dogs, mostly. And lumpy-bumpy skin tumors are so common, they’re listed among the top 10 reasons people take their dogs to their veterinarians.
Many Lumps Are Benign
Fortunately for cats, many common lumps are temporary. For example, cats often get bite wounds and abscesses sustained while carousing the neighborhood or simply defending their territory from interlopers. Still, lumps on cats shouldn’t be ignored.

Though dogs can get abscesses, too, for them (and some cats), the range of possibilities tends to be a bit broader. Benign (non-cancerous) superficial masses may include warts (papillomas) and wart-like masses, cystic tumors (fluid-filled masses), skin tags, sebaceous gland tumors (rarely, these can be malignant, or cancerous) and others.

Benign lipomas (or fatty tumors) are so ubiquitous among dogs (and not so much in cats) they fall into a category all their own. They arise from fat cells beneath the skin and typically present themselves as roughly circular masses. They can sometimes grow quickly –– and occasionally to impressive proportions! Most, however, stay within the smaller range of three inches in diameter or less.

Occasionally, lipomas can infiltrate the tissues around them and become difficult to surgically remove. Another infiltrative variation on these tumors, liposarcomas, are malignant but relatively rare.
Other Bumps Are More Worrisome
Unfortunately, cats and dogs aren’t exempt from cancerous skin tumors. Mast cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas (a common skin mass of older cats) are among the most seriously problematic lumps and bumps. In cats, for example, a relatively uncommon reaction can occur at vaccine injection sites, leading to a malignant sarcoma. It’s usually best to treat malignant growths as soon as possible.

Why are older pets more likely to grow these lumps and bumps? This is the part we don’t fully understand. It’s clear, however, that the cells of older animals may lose some of their ability to regulate themselves properly, often leading to abnormal tissue growth.

The trouble is, it’s not easy to distinguish a benign lump from a cancerous one by outer appearances alone. In most cases, a fine needle aspirate or biopsy can help identify the type of growth. So if you see a lump or bump on any pet, older or otherwise, head over to your veterinarian. Though likely to be benign, this is the best way to be sure you’re not ignoring something that may require attention.

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Your Dog’s Whining Decoded

Q. What does it mean when my dog whines — and how can I stop it?

A. At my house we affectionately call our PugWilly Whiner. As a puppy, whenever he was tense, anxious or even excited, Willy whined. He whines less frequently now, because he has been trained not to, but when he does vocalize, whining is his go-to expression.

Dogs whine for a variety of reasons. Your dog may whine because he wants something or because he is excited. He may whine because he is apprehensive or anxious about something. A dog who is showing appeasement behavior may whine as part of his interaction with other dogs or people.

Dogs with separation anxiety may whine when you leave them, as well as engage in other behaviors, such as pacing, drooling and destruction at exit points. If your dog is exhibiting this type of behavior, talk with your veterinarian about training with a professional, and possibly medication, to help manage your dog’s anxiety.

Dogs whine for medical reasons as well, including pain and cognitive dysfunction syndrome. For this reason, it is important that you inform your veterinarian if you notice that your dog’s whining is associated with signs of pain or if you notice any behavior changes in your pet.

Identifying the Problem

The best way to handle whining is to identify the cause of the behavior and change your dog’s behavior through reward-based training. As with any situation where your dog is exhibiting heightened anxiety, punishment is not a useful training tool. If you punish your dog for whining, the vocalization may cease, but his anxiety will not change. In fact, it may very likely become worse, and your dog may respond in a more dangerous way, such as biting.

The exact causes of whining are not always easily identifiable. Your dog may whine when a person or dog approaches him; this could mean that he is excited — or that he is afraid. If your dog is excited, downplaying the greeting and refocusing his attention can lessens the whining. If your dog is afraid, you will need to manage his fear in order for the whining to stop. If you suspect that your dog’s whining is a sign of fear, seek professional help, starting with your veterinarian.

How to End the Whining

The more occupied your pooch is during the day with a variety of activities, such as walks, food puzzles and games, the less on edge and apt to whine he will be. Redirecting your whining dog to a better activity, such as searching for hidden kibble on the lawn or chewing on a stuffed Kong, refocuses your dog’s attention on an acceptable outlet. A dog that whines when he is excited or nervous can also be taught to relax with settling exercises, such as a down stay.

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Natural Chemistry De Flea Yard Spray

https://happytailspetstores.com/product/natural-flea-tick-shampoo-for-dogs/

natural-chemistry-de-flea-yard-spray

Natural Kills Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs

Natural Chemistry De Flea Yard Spray uses a powerful blend of natural oils to kill fleas and ticks on contact with a residual effect. Also use it to kill and repel mosquitoes, black flies, ants, roaches, scorpions, and a variety of other pests that pose a hazard to your pet!

  • Kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, black flies & more
  • Long lasting flea control – fully effective up to 7 days
  • Made with natural cinnamon, clove & cedar wood oils

De Flea Yard Spray eliminates black flies, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, flies, ants, cockroaches, silverfish and scorpions. It is easy to use and safe for lawns, yards, outdoor kennels, pool & patio areas, trees, shrubs, flowers, general outside surfaces, and more.

Directions: Shake well before using. Read entire label before each use, and use only in accordance with label instructions.

1. Attach garden hose to product applicator.
2. With water turned on, adjust product applicator to flow.
3. Proceed with steady even distribution of product over surface of yard /kennel. Spray to cover area, but do not saturate to the point of puddle or run-off.

For Kennels: Do not rinse, allow product to air dry to achieve residual effect. This full 32oz bottle yields 4500 sq.ft. based on dilution and flow rate of sprayer. For example, apply to 1500 sq.ft. for 3 minutes per application. See indicator at side of this label, to ensure proper amount of product is used. This product is not known to be harmful to any grass, trees, shrubs or flowers.