We are launching "Project Happy Birthday." Here's the idea: Many of us celebrate our pets' birthdays or the anniversary of their arrival in our home. This year, as part of your celebration, make a donation to your local animal shelter. It needn't be a lot of money. If every pet owner contributed $5.00 to honor their pets' birthdays, our shelters would receive millions of dollars! Please pass this idea on. If we all give a little, we can make a big difference in the lives of homeless animals. Then they might have a "happy birthday" too. Click on the logo above for more information. Return to archive index
Your pet's nails and claws must be kept short for your pet's good health. In general, if you hear a click when your pet walks on a hard surface, it's time to trim. For cats, you need to gently squeeze the paw to extend the claw, then clip off the clear end of the claw. If your dog has light nails, the quick is usually visible; be careful not to cut into it. If your dog has dark nails, a flashlight held close to the nail will usually illuminate the quick. Otherwise, take tiny nips until you've removed enough nail.
If you're uncomfortable tackling this project, ask your vet to show you how. Keep styptic handy in case you nick a quick. It'll stop the bleeding.
If your pet balks, remember to offer lots of praise. Sometimes a helper to calm the pet while you trim can reassure the pet. We sometimes trim our cats' claws while they sleep--it may take more than one sitting to get tall the paws done. That's okay. Playing with your pet's paws between trims can make the whole process more familiar for the animal. Return to archive index
The two key words are anticipate and praise. Anticipate when your pup will need to go--after a nap, after a meal, after play--and get your young'n to the right spot. When you get results, praise, praise, praise! A Flea Treat makes a nice reward, too. Praise needs to be immediate; you need to stay with the puppy until you get results.
Even housebroken dogs can learn this trick: teach a command to go with the act. Choose a code word and use it as the pup or dog "goes." Pretty soon, you can just "say the word" and your dog will go on command. This trick is invaluable in inclement weather. We tell Gracie and Glory "quickies" before we load them into the car for an outing. Very handy! Return to archive index
Only change your pet's diet for some specific reason, not on a whim. For example, your pet may be "graduating" from puppy or kitten food to adult rations, or need a low calorie food.
Choose a new food wisely. Check the ingredients listed on the back of bags, not just the front. Talk to people whose opinions you value. Read up on nutrition for your pet.
Switch food gradually. Mix a small quantity of the new food with the previous diet. At each meal, increase the amount of new food you offer in proportion to the old. Allow a week to ten days to complete the change.
Evaluate the results. A bit of slight indigestion is not unusual in pets during diet changes. Severe or ongoing problems, however, may indicate an allergy or other intolerance of the new food. Changes in coat sheen, eye brightness, and other indices of your pet's general well being may take longer to appear. At the three month mark, reevaluate your pet's progress on the new food. Return to archive index
Everyone who has a cat (or some cats) has dealt with kitty sneaking up on "off-limits" kitchen counters or furniture. Aluminum foil can help! Lay a sheet of foil over the forbidden area. Most cats don't like the sensation of foil beneath paw and will learn to avoid the area. Return to archive index
An easy way to train your dog (or better
yet, puppy) to stay on all fours is to simply step back as the
beast launches him- or herself at you. As you step back, say
"off" or "no jumping." This approach is an
especially nice one because you're not harming nor scolding the
dog. You're simply manipulating the environment (your proximity
to the dog) so that the dog's behavior (the jumping) doesn't
produce the desired effect (contact with you).
Kitten season is in full swing. We often receive inquiries about the best way to care for a newborn kitten when mom cat isn't on the scene. Some pointers:
Okay, maybe we're kind of nuts around here. But we enjoy music, and we've found that our pets respond to it as well. We began playing around with music appreciation for our pets when we noticed that Glory would sit before the television in rapt attention whenever ice skating competitions were televised. We discovered that if we muted the volume, she lost interest. But with the volume on, she'd sit there even if we darkened the image on the screen. So we started experimenting. Here's what we've learned over the past few years of sharing music with our pets.
We've had too many people sharing sad stories with us this summer on our tour of fairs. Over and over, we're hearing of pets being poisoned accidentally. Occasionally we hear of a pet getting into rodent poison, which is baited to make it attractive to mice and rats. More often, though, people tell us that they carefully placed the poison in an area where their pets couldn't reach it. Then a rat, mouse, or gopher that had eaten the poison crawled off into an area accessible to the pet and died. The pet ate the dead rodent (and hence the poison) and died as well. These poisons usually contain warfarin, an anticoagulant. They cause death by exsanguination (bleeding to death). That's a rough way for a pet to go.
You can reduce the risk of such an awful fate for your pet by considering the following:
If you're planning to board your pet while you travel over the holidays, make reservations now--this week--at your favorite pet boarding facility. Kennels and catteries fill up early during peak travel times. Click here to learn more about options when you plan to travel without your pets. If you're undecided about whether to take your pets along, you can also find suggestions about traveling with your pets, organizing your pets' transporation gear, and acclimating cats to car travel in our tips archive. Happy planning! Return to archive index
Often pet stores offer "free with purchase" promotions. Recently, for example, we received a free 16-pound container of cat litter with the purchase of our cats' preferred brand of dry cat food. Now, this particular cat litter isn't the kind we use for our cats' litter box. But we took it anyway. We'll drop it off at our local animal shelter next time we head out that way. We've seen similar offers for free canned food with the purchase of a bag of dry food and many other pet "freebies." Even if you can't use the freebie, those animals at your local shelter can use it. Your community may also have a program to collect pet items for programs that offer support to aged or ill pet owners. So next time you see a free offer for pet products, take it! Pass it on to your favorite animal organization. They'll be glad you did.
PS: We follow the same procedure when our grocery store runs "free" coupons for "people" foods that we can't use. We then always have plenty on hand to donate to food drives for the hungry. Return to archive index
A few days ago I was doing chores at home when I overheard this odd humming noise coming from elsewhere in the house. I investigated, and found that our cat Hina had chosen to nap on our paper shredder and had bumped the rocker switch, turning on the shredder. I hastily unplugged the shredder, shuddering at the image of a shredded cat tail that could have resulted.
I should have known better. Our other cat, Ti'i, knows how to turn on a heating pad.
In honor of our ingenious cats, here's a little checklist to help keep your buddies safe in your home.
This year, many of us have felt called upon to donate to special funds to aid those most affected by the attack on our nation on September 11. That overwhelming need, unfortunately, doesn't reduce the needs of other worthwhile organizations that depend on charitable giving to provided needed services. Please remember the organizations that serve needy people and animals in your community. Our Project Happy Birthday is a good place to start your search. Return to archive index
If you have a dog or a cat, always offer treats from your open palm. Holding a treat in your fingertips is an invitation to an unintentional nip. Teach your kids to offer tidbits (healthy tidbits, that is) to your pets in this manner as well. It's very difficult for the animal to reach up and take a treat without grabbing the fingertips that hold the treat when you hold it above the animal's head. Remembering this simple tip, and teaching it to your children, can prevent an unnecessary trauma. Return to archive index
It's resolution time again. This year, why not continue one or more of the following resolutions in your list?
Let's all do what we can to make 2002 the best year ever for animals! Return to archive index
Domestic dogs, like their wild counterparts, are social animals. Cats are somewhat more variable in their enjoyment of conspecifics, but many cats enjoy a feline buddy. If your pet is an "only" at your house, you may find that life is easier for you (and happier for your pet) if you adopt a pal for your pet. Here's the why and how:
Cats are pretty picky when it comes to doing their business. Changes in their routine can lead to "accidents." However, with a bit of patience, you can change the type of litter you use, the location of the box, or the style of box with little stress for your kitty and mess for you. Here's how:
We've spoken with lots of folks who've placed a flea collar, flea powder, or other toxic substance into their vacuum cleaner bag in an effort to control fleas in the home. The problem with this approach is that vacuums not only take air in, they also discharge air back into the environment. If you think about it, that's only logical: your vacuum bag (or the dirt collection compartment on a bagless model) would explode if the machine kept sucking air in but didn't blow any back out.
So if you put something toxic in the vacuum, you'll be blowing air that's been exposed to that toxic substance back into your home environment. Not a terrific idea. A better plan is to empty the vacuum into your outdoor trash area each time you use it. Then any fleas you've vacuumed up won't hop out of the vacuum into your home. If you use bags, you can replace the bag after each use, or seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag and store it in your freezer between uses. The cold will kill the fleas in the bag.
Of course, if you use our Flea Treats®, your pets won't be dragging fleas into your home in the first place, so these measures will only be necessary as you tackle any existing problem when you begin using the treats. Once you get the fleas cleared out of your home, and keep your pets on the treats, you won't have fleas in the house. Return to archive index
These little beings are fragile, living creatures. The young children to whom they are most often given may not understand that cuddling and handling can stress and even kill their friend. Such attention is inhumane for such tiny creatures, and a bad outcome can be pretty traumatic for the child involved, as well. So leave the live animals out of your plans. Head down to the toy store and present your favorite child with a stuffed animal, instead. Return to archive index
Most everyone is familiar with the story of the two Presa Canarios who mauled a woman to death in San Francisco in January, 2001. Recently the owners of the dogs were convicted of a number of charges, including murder, as a result. Survivors of the victim are also pursuing a civil suit against the owner of the apartment building in which she (and the vicious dogs) lived.
While we were not present in the courtroom and have relied on media reports, it certainly appears that these convictions were well deserved. However, dog owners everywhere might be rightfully nervous as a result. Especially if your big sweetie pie happens to be a Rottweiler. Especially if you live in a rented dwelling. Will your community consider ordinances banning breeds of dogs considered "vicious?" If the landlords in San Francisco are found liable, will your landlord throw you out? The best defense, as they say, is a good offense. Here are our suggestions:
Of course, in addition to our own dogs' behavior, we must also consider other dogs in our community. We believe that with rare exceptions, vicious dogs are made, not born. Here's how you can help when someone else's dog shows aggressive behavior.
Often, you can find a great price on a used litter box, doghouse, scratching post, or some other goodie for your pet at a garage sale, swap meet, or thrift store. It's always nice to score a deal on a new item for your best buddy. Keep these tips in mind when evaluating such bargains:
Before bathing your pet, moisten two cotton balls with baby oil; place one gently in each of your pet's ears. The cotton will help prevent water from entering the ear canal during bathing, which minimizes the risk of ear infection. If you dry your pet with a hair dryer after bathing, leave the cotton ball in place until you're done. It'll dull the whine of the dryer, which disturbs many pets. And by the way, if you do use a dryer, make sure it's set to a low heat setting so you don't burn your pet's tender skin. Return to archive index
Information has surfaced recently suggesting that grapes and raisins can be hazardous, even fatal, to dogs. Cases under study focus on dogs eating large quantities of grapes or raisins at a single sitting, and subsequently suffering and dying from kidney failure. The ASPCA is collecting data now. A few questions remain unanswered:
We've found, when we're out talking with folks on our live tour, that most folks either adore cats or truly despise them. Oddly enough, most people cite the same reason for the admiration or the disdain. Cats are independent, they tell us. Cats do as they please. Cats don't listen.
We've found that cats can be friendly and taught certain behaviors. The trick is to treat them as if you expect them to be friendly, and to train them as if you expect them to learn. Here are some tips to help you:
Of course, as with dogs, individual cats will vary in their response to training. But in general, we believe the whole species has been sold short in terms of their trainability and friendliness. A bit of effort on your part can pay off in the form of a more loving, tractable cat. Give it a try, and let us know how it goes. Return to archive index
You can easily locate products marketed for dogs and cats that contain garlic and/or onions. We don't recommend these products, for one simple reason: ingestion of these ingredients can cause hemolytic anemia in our pets. For more information, the most concise, reliable information we've found is available by clicking here. If you'd like to range more widely in your search, go to your favorite search engine, and type in "cats garlic dogs onion" as your search string. You'll find articles promoting the feeding of these foods to our pets, products for sale containing them, and much discussion about their potential hazards. We believe in playing it safe. Steer clear of garlic and onion. By the way, if you foster puppies or kittens, or care for an ill pet, be careful with baby food. Many (human) baby foods contain these ingredients for flavor. Read labels before you buy. Return to archive index
The big black dog was a lab mix, 12 years old, sweet, gentle, and the best family dog you could ever ask for. He had two human kids, boys, 7 and 3 years old. They were all best friends. One morning, the boys were sitting on the landing of the staircase, enjoying a snack, and the big black dog bit the face of the 3 year old. I have known this dog and the boys all their lives, and this old beast was the last animal on the planet I would expect might turn on a child.
Once the shock of the news wore off, I began to think about the episode and I realized that perhaps this tragedy could have been avoided.
The dog was in the household before the children were, and his humans took all the right steps to prepare the dog for a baby's arrival. Everything went fine. Then the boys (each in turn) started eating solid food, and the big black dog eagerly "cleaned up" anything the boys dropped from their high chairs. The babies noticed this and began to toss food from the trays for the dog. Long after the boys left the high chair, they continued to share their food with the dog.
Meanwhile, the dog aged. He began to slow down a bit, to grow just a bit crankier, and to markedly prefer human food to his dog food. The boys obliged him by sharing. The dog also began to show some signs of "doggie dementia," occasionally looking confused in familiar surroundings, even though his vision and hearing seemed to remain good. Finally, this unhappy event took place when the 3 year old was eating and didn't offer some to the dog. The child required stitches and antibiotics. The dog was euthanized, after much discussion and emotional pain. His adult humans decided that while he could no longer share a home with the children, rehoming at his advanced age and declining state might be more traumatic than a humane injection.
Now, I know that young children should not be left unsupervised with dogs. And I know that young children should not feed dogs, as the dog can become confused over whose food is fair game. And I watched these little boys feed the dog thousands of times, and thought nothing of it, because the dog was this particular big black dog, who was sweet and gentle, and the best family dog you could ever ask for.
In light of this event, we'd like to suggest the following tips to help keep the boundaries clear for kids and dogs.
The big black dog was a fine dog. He didn't deserve an end like this. And the 3 year old boy is a wonderful child. He didn't deserve an injury like this, not to mention the trauma. Let's all remember what we can do to keep our kids and our pets safe. Return to archive index