Friday, March 26, 2010

Ten ways to save money on pets

My wife and I are considering getting a puppy for our son, who really seems to love small dogs and often asks us whether we’ll ever have one.

While we haven’t made up our minds yet on this decision.

I did take a few moments to ask a few of my pet-owning friends if they had any advice about how to reduce the costs of acquiring.

And caring for a pet without skimping on the quality of care. Here’s what they suggested.

Visit a shelter to pick out your pet. Yes, you have to be more selective when visiting a shelter because some of the animals have been mistreated and may not react well to children (or adults). However, if you visit a hand full of shelters, you’ll often find many wonderful pets that will fit your needs well. There are a lot of reasons that pets wind up at shelters, and neglect/abuse is just one of them.

Donate $100 to the shelter. Check out their programs first, but quite often, a $100 donation will ensure that you get a pet that has already had vaccinations and has already been spayed or neutered. These procedures can cost hundreds of dollars if you take your pet in to a vet to have it done later.

Don’t skimp on food. A fifty pound bag of Ol’ Roy might be a cheap way to feed the pet, but it will result in long-term health issues that will be expensive to treat. Instead, research what kinds of food are most appropriate for your pet and be willing to spend a little more to get good food. This will help to keep your pet healthier, happier, and active for a lot longer. One of my friends doesn’t even feed her dog traditional “dog food,” but has studied what raw foods their diet should consist of and feeds the dog those items.

Buy that food in bulk. Once you figure out the best food for your pet, don’t hesitate to buy it in bulk and store it somewhere out of the pet’s reach. Depending on what you choose as the optimum food, you may find it at your local warehouse store or you may find a bulk seller in your area.

Groom the pet yourself. Taking your pet to a pet salon might be an easy way to get the pet clean, but almost everything done there can be done quite quickly at home and a lot cheaper. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and clean your pet yourself.

Know their routine. Pay attention to your pet. If the pet’s routine starts to change, that’s a sign that there’s some sort of medical issue coming down the pipe. If you notice it now, it’s often easy to treat with a dietary change or something else that’s simple. If you wait until it’s disastrous, it can be very expensive.

Hit the library. If you have a new pet, learn about it. Learn what things it needs. Learn about some of the basics of caring for that pet, as well as signs for the most common ailments and how to treat them. Learn how to train your pet in the skills that it will need – and put in the time to train the pet yourself.

Treat simple things, like fleas, ticks, and heartworm, yourself. This involves understanding your pet’s health (the tips above), but if you’ve actually invested the time to know how to properly care for the pet, then you’ll know what simple ailments you can treat yourself instead of paying a vet to treat. It’s much less expensive to order the treatment yourself than to consult a vet for the most common ailments.

Keep the water bowl full. If you notice the water bowl for your pet is low, fill it, and keep an eye on the bowl throughout the day. Appropriate amounts of water is perhaps the best insurance for a pet’s long term health. The exception to this is when you’re housetraining a puppy, in which case you need to stick to a strict watering schedule. Too much water for a puppy can result in accidents and a big setback in training.

Check Craigslist for supplies. Need a pet carrier, a leash, or a food bowl? People on Craigslist are often selling this stuff for a pittance (and sometimes it’s free on freecycle). When you need reusable supplies like this, heading straight to the store is a sure way to spend more than you probably need to.

The best thing you can do for any pet, however, is to show the pet love. Just like humans, most pets thrive on being loved by others. So, go ahead and give that big, slobbery dog a vigorous petting and stroke the cat until it begins to purr.

Read Full Entry

Monday, March 22, 2010

Warning on pet medication

In millions of U.S. households, dogs and cats are treasured members of the family. Less loved are the noxious fleas and ticks that ride in with them.

Troubling news on that front arrived last week, with word from the Environmental Protection Agency of safety concerns connected to popular anti-flea and tick medications that are applied to pets' skin.

The EPA has been looking into the matter since last spring, prompted by a surge in reports of adverse reactions among pets dosed with these products.

Reported symptoms include skin and gastrointestinal problems, trembling, seizures or worse, though most side effects are mild, studies indicate. A high percentage of the reports seem to stem from product misuse.

In a summary Wednesday, the EPA did not advise halting use of these so-called spot-ons. Instead, the agency noted that they can be effective but urged caution, particularly when they are applied to small dogs and cats. The EPA also advised consumers to consult their veterinarian. The EPA's attention to this issue is necessary and welcome, because these products are in such wide use on cherished pets.

But veterans of Florida's flea wars -- the pests multiply like crazy in the state's climate -- may find the news daunting. These products, after all, have freed countless pets and households from the scourge of harmful, irritating, disease-carrying insects.

Small dogs at risk In its national announcement, the EPA emphasized that most of the reported problems in pets were mild, and many adverse reactions were caused by misuse (such as applying a dog dose on a cat). But notably, small dogs were disproportionately affected.

Read Full Entry

Saturday, March 20, 2010

EPA Cautions Pet Owners Using Spot-on Products to Kill Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks: two pests guaranteed to give pet owners the willies. Spot-on treatments may seem like a simple solution, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a look at the risks of using spot-on pesticide products because there has been a "significant increase in adverse incidents."

The agency is working closely with the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, as well as Health Canada; Canada first noted concerns with these products last year. The EPA started gathering information in 2008 after seeing an increase in incident reports, and now they're taking steps to make labeling more clear and do a better job of keeping tabs on future incidents.

According to the EPA press release, reactions in cats and dogs can include "skin effects, such as irritation, redness, or gastrointestinal problems that include vomiting or diarrhea, or effects to the nervous system, such as trembling, appearing depressed or seizures." If you have a large dog, chances are your pet won't have a problem with flea and tick products. It seems small dogs have more adverse reactions, and cats exposed to come dog products is "a concern."

The EPA recommends pet owners follow directions carefully and watch their pets closely for adverse reactions, and all pet owners should consult a veterinarian before using any such pesticide products on animals who are older, weak, ill or taking medications, pregnant or nursing, or have had reactions to similar products in the past.

Read Full Entry

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beware of False Prophets

For the most part this week has been one super red letter event after another. My birthday was this week. I am not sure if the stars simply aligned to insure everything fell into place or if it was fate rewarding me for keeping the faith. Whatever the explanation, it has been one of the finest birthdays I can remember.

The only real fly in the ointment involved a couple of incidents where people that have no idea what is involved in sheltering animals, presented themselves as experts. One person was a friend of mine, that was simply mistaken. She took a leap of faith and trusted me to know what was best for a dog she had acquired.

This was a Pit Bull pup that had basically been thrown away and she just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Because she was willing to listen to what I had to say,and ignore the nonsense she had been told by.

The ignorant, the puppy will be living a long and happy life with a couple of kids in a wonderful family. She did right by this dog. She deserves a pat on the back. In the future, she will know what is right and what is wrong.

My second encounter was with a group of dogs that were being surrendered because of issues with neighbors. The owner was distraught and trying to do what she thought was best, but that is not always what is easy. After spending time with the staff and a volunteer at the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, she was able to take that leap of faith also, and allow her dogs to be given the chance to be safe and handled by professionals, with only the dogs' best interest at heart. Her faith was also well placed. Both of her young dogs will be joining new families and her old dog will be able to live out his last days in the only home he has ever known.

Both of these stories had happy endings. The only thing that tarnished them was the attack by an individual with no more idea of what is involved in animal sheltering than she knows how to tell the difference between someone that knows what they are doing and someone with a personal agenda that has no clue. That is where the only black spot on my birthday week came into play.

I remember when the commercial regarding the glass of water being half full or half empty was popular. Everyone was careful to become the half full type of person. You did not want to get caught being half empty. In a way, that commercial was a very good thing. It made us take stock of the way we look at things. We should focus on the positive and use the negative as motivation to do better. There are always two sides to everything. The good and the bad, the right and wrong, etc. I think most people would like to believe they have a firm grasp on what is positive.

That is why I find it so hard to fathom why people prefer to look at open admission animal shelters as death houses, or "kill shelters", instead of possibly the best choice some animals have available. For the animals I met this week, it was the chance for a brand new life, in a home where they were very much wanted.

It would be wonderful if we could live in a society that did everything exactly right for their pets. Can you imagine no dogs living in the streets or scavenging for food in garbage cans? A world where puppies are always wanted and never tossed away in dumpsters like trash. Then while we are dreaming of this utopian world, how about we also dream about owners that insure their pets are healthy and free of disease? My personal favorite would be owners that keep their pets home and take the time to train them to be social with people and other animals. We are not even close to living in such a world.

In this real world, dogs are abused and starved. They are allowed to breed over and over again, with no regard to what happens to their offspring. I lose track of the weekly reports of puppies being found in dumpsters, some alive, some not. My dear friend Bobbie has a wonderful little girl named Margie, that came from a dumpster. Dogs are allowed to contract horrible, preventable diseases like heartworm, parvo and distemper, because someone could not be bothered to provide the kind of medical care they deserved. This is the real world and it is not always pretty.

No-kill would be the ideal solution if there were not an unending stream of unwanted, abandoned animals in need of sanctuary. I still find it hard to believe that anyone can buy into the lie that the people working in the open admission shelters are not devastated by the waste of healthy, loving pets that people do not give a second thought about throwing away. Most of the people passing judgement on these shelters have never had to work the intake desk and listen to the excuses. They have never had to decide who must die to make room for the dog that has just been dumped because the owner was tired of it. You do not think you can do what is right for your own animal when it is hopelessly sick or in pain. You also have no idea of what it is like to feel the life drain from an animal looking at you with love because it is the first time it has ever felt close human contact. Yet you dare to sit in judgement.

I guess this is one of those entries Bobbie would describe as "railing". I experienced a gross display of ignorance this week. I saw a shelter staffed by dedicated professionals attacked by someone that had wrapped herself in a cloak of indignation that only the most completely uninformed can wear without embarrassment. This person had so little knowledge of what she was talking about, she did not even know the actual name of the facility. Yet she did not hesitate to attack the very people that give their hearts and souls to the animals that no one else wants. These same animals that within a few days of arriving in this shelter became part of someone's family.

Because these animals were given a chance, plus the other animals that were adopted, numerous kennels were opened without having to end the lives of any dogs. The dogs that were sent into rescue, freed space that was available for the next dog that came through the door in need. This shelter is in the business of giving chances, as well as, shelter to more animals than most people can comprehend.

I tried to use an analogy one time about the crowd at the Super Bowl in relation to the number of animals in need in this country annually. That did not make an impression. Let's just narrow the field to our little shelter here in Cape Girardeau. Imagine the population of Perryville Missouri is coming through the door. That is not much more than the number of animals our shelter sees. That is still a little unfathomable? How about 35 animals in one afternoon? That is a small easy to comprehend number. Now multiply at least that many, or more, by 365. Most people can not begin to imagine what that many animals looks like. They have no point of reference to make themselves understand what it is like to face this day in and day out. I do not know if it is a matter of self protection or just plain meanness, but there are people that do not hesitate to pass judgment and attack the people doing the hardest, most thankless job there is.

Whether they get their ideas from others that know less than they or if they just make it up to allow themselves to sleep at night, I have no clue. I do know these people are to be avoided. These are the people that would lead you to believe they know something when they are nothing more than false prophets. They lie to make their theories fit. They take attention from their own short comings by pointing the finger at others. They are weak, inept individuals that are part of the problem and will never be part of the solution. I know they should earn my pity, but I am afraid I have been involved in this too long. All they will receive from me is my disgust.

To everyone that has ever set in judgment of open admission shelters, stop to think what it would be like if someone showed up at your door with 35 animals in need. Could you simply shake your head and say sorry without giving another thought to the fate of those animals? Can you honestly condemn someone that opens their doors and says "Yes, bring them in"? That is what an open admission shelter is all about. The door is always open.

The next time you feel the urge to attack these shelters, stop to think about the pets that have been saved and adopted because someone did not turn them away. You have the choice to look at the glass half full, or half empty.

March 19,20 and 21 the booth for the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation will be presenting a portion of their fourth annual art exhibit, this year entitled "Dogs Can't Vote....You Can", during the Southeast Missouri Homebuilders Association Home Show at the Show Me Center here in Cape Girardeau. This is a wonderful opportunity to view these compelling pieces and learn more about the work being done in our state capital on behalf of our companion animals. Please feel free to stop by the booth and learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of pets in our state.

Read Full Entry

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cat Food Needed!

Calling all cat lovers! Please pick up a few extra cans of cat food or a bag of dry cat food to help fill the shelves of the Seattle Humane Society Pet Food Bank.

The Seattle Humane Society's Pet Food Bank provides dry and canned food every month to more than 1,200 pets belonging to low-income seniors and people disabled by AIDS, combined.

Thanks to the Pet Food Bank, more than 750 pet owners each month don't have to choose between self care and pet care.WAYS YOU CAN HELP.

1. Donate canned or dry cat and dog food. Dry cat food is our greatest need. You can leave a donation for the Pet Food Bank at the shelter.

At 13212 SE Eastgate Way in Bellevue, anytime! Go to the donation section of our website for a list of retailers with collection barrels in their stores.

2. Hold a pet food drive in your community at your church, synagogue, school or business.

3. Become a volunteer "barrel buddy" and let us put a collection barrel for pet food in your business--we'll stop in to collect donations regularly.

4. Tell your friends and family to spread the word!

Read Full Entry

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pets are a health benefit, not a risk to tenants

I would like to address Avrom Charach's op-ed piece by firstly acknowledging the 800-pound gorilla in the middle of the room (Your pet, my problem, March 6). Charach is a landlord, and as such is not a public health advocate, a medical professional, or anyone that is remotely interested in or versed in public welfare.

He is interested in profiting, and allowing pets into communal-type housing arrangements may undeniably eat into that profit slightly, with higher administration costs for management. Let me point out that this is part of doing business when you are managing buildings with dozens of suites and tenants, families, and all the associated headaches therein.

It is interesting that Charach addresses the hazard of second-hand smoke in communal spaces and living quarters. Are all of his buildings and units smoke-free? Does he deign to dictate to his tenants whether they can smoke in their own units, and thus pollute their and the surrounding apartments and tenants' lungs with one of the most noxious, offensive, and proven dangers to public health in the last century?

Or does such a habit, with its insidious fumes and smoke, containing dozens of carcinogenic chemicals fall under the umbrella of personal rights and liberties to which one is entitled when living under their own (and yet communally-shared) roof? So let me get this straight, Mr. Charach: You are not opposed to allowing tenants to smoke and pollute your other tenants' lungs because the undeniable damage and filth from that public health threat can easily be painted and steam-cleaned over, thus not cutting as wide a swath into your profit?

As a health professional, I also resent Charach's overblown hearsay and hyperbole about third-hand accounts of overly sensitive allergic and asthmatic reactions from dander shed by one pet during one encounter ending up hospitalizing the victim. Not only should these unwitnessed events be taken with a large grain of salt, there could have been numerous other culprits responsible. In the unlikely event that Charach's account is factual, then these are clearly anomalous, outlier, infrequent, and not reproducible events.

The credo of public health is that sometimes the benefit of the many must come at the expense of the few. There are many more health benefits to pet ownership -- cardiovascular and mental health, companionship for elderly individuals that allows them to remain independent in the community -- than there are insidious public health threats. My suggestion would be twofold: First, tenants with such rampant environmental sensitivity and friable health status would be better served living in a more isolated and controlled environment, wherein the due rights and freedoms of others do not negatively affect their health. Second, if Charach's concern for the public health is as genuine as he tries to portray, he may want to exit property management, which is more concerned with profit, and educate himself more on the matters of which he tries to expound.

Read Full Entry

Monday, March 8, 2010

Store-bought pets carry high risks

It took every effort for Lorie Chortyk to respond patiently to the caller on the other end of the phone. General manager of community relations for the B.C. SPCA, Chortyk was listening for the third time in as many days to an angry pet guardian complain that the puppy they recently purchased from a Lower Mainland pet store was now desperately ill.

What is the B.C. SPCA going to do about it, they demanded. "The short answer is we're already doing it," says Chortyk. "We repeatedly warn people that pet stores are known to purchase their puppies from puppy mills, that puppy mills put profit before the care of the animals, and that people who purchase animals at a pet store may end up with a sick animal from a substandard, puppy-mill facility.

Even when they know this, people still buy from pet stores because they are attracted by the cute puppies in the store window. Then they call us, demanding we do something because the animal they purchased on impulse in the pet store is now sick."

While the SPCA regularly shuts down puppy-mill operations across B.C., Chortyk says they have no jurisdiction to stop pet-store sales. "The only thing we can do is to keep urging people to make educated and humane choices about where they get their pets."

Chortyk's own adopted miniature poodle, Calleigh, was rescued along with 49 other small-breed dogs from a Surrey breeder in a 2008 animal cruelty investigation. The poodles, Yorkies, maltipoos and poodle mixes were kept in dark, dirty, poorly ventilated enclosures and bred repeatedly for maximum profit.

When she arrived at the SPCA's Chilliwack branch for specialized care, 10-year-old Calleigh needed extensive medical care and spent her days cowering in her kennel, fearful of anyone who approached, a behaviour typical of unsocialized puppy mill dogs.

According to Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the B.C. SPCA, a puppy-mill dog is one kept in inhumane conditions without adequate food, water, medical care or socialization. Genetically substandard animals are repeatedly bred and the sick and inbred puppies are sold through pet stores, the Internet and online classified ads to unsuspecting members of the public for $1,000 to $2,500 apiece.

"It's easy to sanitize the breeding facility through polished language and fake photos on a website," says Moriarty. By contrast, says Moriarty, animal shelters, rescue groups and genuinely reputable breeders care how the animals are raised and where they go, and won't allow a transaction without proper screening.

Stopping the proliferation of puppy mills is the subject of an online SPCA education and advocacy campaign. Unfortunately, says Chortyk, even well-informed pet guardians purchase puppies from pet stores, believing they are "rescuing them." "If we can stop the demand for pet-store puppies, the supply naturally dries up. It's that simple."

Read Full Entry

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Animal Travel Safety - Protecting Your Pet in the Air

To the baggage handlers loading Buddy's kennel onto American Airlines Flight 1526 from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago's O’Hare Airport last November, the four-year-old pit bull seemed sedate, but otherwise in good health.

But when baggage handlers in Chicago pulled him off the plane, they made the heartbreaking discovery that Buddy had passed away. A veterinarian examining Buddy found no cause of death, and the case was closed, according to a Department of Transportation Pet Incident Report.

Unfortunately, Buddy's tragic story is not an isolated incident for pets traveling in the baggage hold of an airplane. From November 2008 to December 2009, a tally of DOT reports revealed 27 deaths and seven injuries of pets on domestic airlines.

The Humane Society of the United States warns pet owners that pets should not travel by airline unless absolutely necessary. Although baggage holds are an adequate environment for most pets, some can subject animals to temperature extremes, poor ventilation, and low oxygen levels, according to the HSUS.

The fear of unfamiliar smells and piercing sounds during take-off can lead to injury as well. In November, a dog unloaded from Alaska Airlines Flight 645 from Phoenix arrived in Seattle in a “distressed state."

However, if air travel is unavoidable, there are several ways to reduce the risks. “If your pet must travel by air, your best option is to keep him on board with you,” advised the HSUS.

In response to a 2005 federal regulation requiring airlines to report mishaps, some airlines have put an end to pet cargo transport altogether.

Each airline can set its own rules about in-cabin transport of pets, from the size of the carrier to the weight of the pet. Some airlines consider the carrier part of the carry-on allowance, charging for additional carry-ons.

While considering whether to transport your pet by air, you should also take possible restrictions by pet breed into account. Some airlines, taking note that brachycephalic, or short-nosed, dogs are more likely to suffer in airplane transport, restrict those breeds from coming on board.

"Certain breeds such as brachycephalic dogs and cats may have difficulty with air travel," the American Veterinary Medical Association said, noting the respiratory issues that go along with those cute flat noses.

As a result, British Airways will not accept bulldogs, pugs or Pekineses, although the airline will accept cross-breeds. The airline will also not accept pets so sedated they cannot stand up.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly brachycephalic dogs and cats, but at the owner's - and pet's - risk. Those dogs include the American pit bull, American Staffordshire, Boston terrier, Brussels Griffon, bullmastiff, bull terrier, chow chow, Dutch pug, English bulldog, English toy spaniel, French bulldog, Japanese boxer, Japanese spaniel, Pekinese pug, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire bull terrier, terrier, bulldog, pug, and boxer.

The feline snub-nosed breeds flying at their own risk are the Burmese, Exotic, Himalayan, and Persian.

Are there some airlines that have a better track record than others? The statistics generally correlate with the total number of an airline's flights, but certain carriers go the extra mile to keep pets safe and happy.

Continental Airlines, for example, received an award for excellence from the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association for its PetSafe program. Continental's customers can track their pet's journey on its cargo website while their pets earn travel miles throughout the trip.

Continental also offers a dedicated 24-hour live animal information desk, as well as personal handling in climate-controlled vehicles for hub connections when temperatures climb above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, or 29.5 degrees Celsius.

Although touted as a PetSafe feature, such climate control is in fact a mandate of the Federal Animal Welfare Act, which prohibits airlines from exposing pets to extreme temperature for more than 45 minutes between terminal and plane, or for more than four hours in a holding facility.

The Welfare Act also prohibits pets from being exposed to temperatures less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit or 7.2 degrees Celsius. Perhaps for this reason, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will refuse acceptance of a pet if airport temperatures at the origin, destination, or connecting airports exceed certain limits.

Protecting the airborne pet is ultimately the owner's responsibility, so common sense can carry a pet a long way. According to the AVMA, owners would be wise and compassionate to choose early morning or late evening flights in warm weather, and midday flights in cold.

Read Full Entry

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pet Food Pantry Helps Owners In Need

The tough economy is taking its toll on families, including pets. That's why the Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry is trying to help people who need some extra help feeding their furry friends. The group collected donated pet food from another group, filling two storage units. They plan to give it away to people in need this Saturday. Shannon DeBra is the founder of Recycled Doggies, and founded their program, the Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry. She found out about other pantries using Twitter.

"I followed some pet food pantries in other parts of the country that I had learned about – and I started thinking and wondering if we had anything like that here and did some research – and we didn't," said DeBra. The Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry will give away pet food on Saturday from 10 a.m to noon at Queen City Self Storage located at 4775 Red Bank Road in Madisonville.

The group will also accept donations of food and litter at that time. You're asked not to drop off donations at Queen City Self Storage outside of the scheduled distribution time. People who show up need to have an ID, register and write a letter explaining their financial hardship. "Our idea is to provide temporary food assistance, not intended to be a long-term food source,” said DeBra. “This is to get people through a rough patch."

Dr. Paul Levitas, a veterinarian at The Animal Hospital on Mt. Lookout Square agrees there's a need for extra help. "They [pet owners] are just up against the wall. It's either feed themselves or feed their pets sometimes, and unfortunately, the pets are going to pay for that," said Dr. Levitas.

Dr. Levitas hopes this program will help fill a gap in our community. "I'm sure most of these pets would rather stay with their owners and if this would allow them to keep their dogs or cats, that would be great,” he said. Organizers want to continue the program to help keep animals in homes instead of shelters.

Read Full Entry
Copyright © 2010 Pets Tabloid

Back to TOP