Monthly Archives: January 2012

3 Pets to Avoid Having in your Home

Even if your kids beg and plead, try to avoid the following animals as pets! These animals carry health risks and are better left in the great outdoors, experts say.

Turtles
They’re cute, but these and other reptiles like snakes and lizards can carry salmonella (a serious bacterial disease that can also be transmitted through tainted food like peanuts), which can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Primates
Even small monkeys and chimpanzees are extremely strong and can seriously injure you—no matter how humanlike they appear.  They can also transmit dangerous diseases that affect humans, like monkey pox and tuberculosis.

Skunks
Believe it or not, they’ve been domesticated in some cases, but they’re truly wild animals and can carry rabies. Experts agree: Skunks (and squirrels and chipmunks) simply shouldn’t be kept as pets.

Top 10 Reasons to Dress Up Your Pet!

#10 Clothes Can Show Off Your Pet’s Personality

People use clothes to show off their personality, why shouldn’t your pet? Whether he’s tough, flirtatious, smart or sassy, have him dress the part.

#9 You Wear Clothes, Your Pet Wants to Too

Does your pet want to follow you around? Sit on the couch when you sit on the couch? Go outside when he sees you heading to the door? If the answer is yes, it is safe to say that anything you do, your pet will want to do as well. We think that includes dressing up.

#8 It’s Probably Cold Outside Anyway

It’s January, which means that many places are experiencing very cold weather right now. So by participating in National Dress Up Your Pet Day, you will also be protecting him from the elements.

#7 What Pet Wouldn’t Want To Be the Center of Attention?

Is there anything pets love more than being the center of attention? No? We didn’t think so. Dress your pet up and he’s sure to receive tons of attention from anyone he comes across.

#6 Add a Little Variety to the Routine

The majority of days in a pet’s life are quite routine. Eating, napping, going for walks … Spice up life with a day that stands out from the rest.

#5 Worst Comes to Worst, the New Outfit Makes a Good Chew Toy

So your pet doesn’t like the outfit you picked out. Big deal. He’ll turn it into a chew toy instead and everyone will still be happy. (Of course, don’t allow him to chew on anything he can possibly choke on.)

#4 Wacky Holidays Can Be a Bonding Experience

Even something as silly as spending a day dressing up your pet is time spent together, and your pet relishes it.

#3 You Can Rep Your Favorite Sports Team Even More

Sports fanatics rejoice! This day can be one more way to shout out to your favorite team. Sure they have a mascot already, but you know your pet is cuter anyway.

#2 You Can Get Matching Outfits

This goes hand-in-hand with your pet wanting to do what you do. Not only will your pet get to dress up, you’ll be matching! It doesn’t get much better than that.

#1 Excellent Photo Opportunity

It is never too early to start planning for next year’s Christmas card, especially if you’re in matching outfits – that just screams Christmas card. Or at least a framed picture for your desk.

    

Safe Walking Tips this Winter

If your dog or cat spends any amount of time outdoors, winter can be a particularly dangerous time. While the freshly fallen snow can make the world appear as a winter wonderland, there are a lot of hidden hazards to be aware of. Ice covered sidewalks, chemicals scattered across driveways and walkways, these conditions can be hazardous to animals and humans alike. Keep yourself and your pet safe this winter season by being aware and taking precautions.

        

Frostbite

Your pet may not be complaining about the cold, and is probably even having a blast playing in the snow, but just like us, animals do not always notice that their skin has started to feel funny. As the body’s temperature decreases in response to the outdoor temperature, blood is diverted to the core systems, leaving the outer organ, the skin, at risk of freezing. Once the skin has been frozen by the ice and snow, there is tissue damage, basically causing a condition akin to burning. At highest risk for frostbite are the footpads, nose, ear tips and tail.

Upon returning home after being outdoors for an extended time, or when the temperatures are especially low, check your pet’s risk points (along with the rest of the body). Early symptoms of frostbite include pale, hard skin that remains very cold even after being inside. As the skin warms, it may swell and change to a red color.

Your pet may try to relieve the irritation by licking and chewing on the skin, in which case you will need to have the skin treated and covered immediately before permanent damage is done.

Never apply direct heat to the skin, water or otherwise. Only tepid to warm water should be used on the skin, and non-electric blankets to cover the animal. You may need to consult with a veterinarian to make sure that the condition is not severe.

In some cases of severe frostbite the tissue needs to be removed, or the limb removed before the dead tissue allows infection to set in.

Chemicals on the Ground

It is common practice to apply chemicals to sidewalks and driveways so that the ice can be made to melt, or just to make it so that the feet can grip the ground easier. The problem with these chemicals is that they get onto animals’ unprotected feet, where they can irritate the skin or get into small abrasions in the foot pads. The animal may also lick the chemicals off of their feet and ingest them, resulting in stomach and intestinal problems. There are products that are relatively safe for animals, but not everyone uses a pet-friendly product for their sidewalks and driveways.

One solution is to outfit your dog with a set of booties, so that the foot pads are protected. Booties are also good for keeping hard snow and ice out of the spaces between the toes, something that can be very painful for an animal.

If your pet will not tolerate wearing booties, you will need to be vigilant about cleaning your pet’s feet and underside as soon as you return home from a walk. A simple rag that has been dipped in warm water will do the job.

It is also a good idea to make a habit of checking your dog or cat’s feet on a regular basis after they come in from outside to be sure that the footpads and toes are clean and free of abrasions.

Is your Pet Making you Sneeze?

We all love our dogs and cats; but they can be the cause of our annoying allergies.  Here are some ways in which our pets make our nose itch!

                           

Hair Length Not the Issue

Skin dander is a common allergen. This attaches to pet hair, and it’s the shed hair that’s thought to transfer pet allergens to humans. But the length of hair isn’t the issue. Dogs with long hair aren’t more likely to cause an allergic reaction than dogs with short hair. But some dogs, such as the Portuguese water dog adopted by the Obamas, shed less hair than other breeds. Also, some people are more sensitive to allergens than others.

Which Dogs Shed the Least?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists several breeds that have “non-shedding coats.” They shed a bit, but unlike many other dogs, they don’t shed an undercoat and tend to give off less dander. The AKA list: Bedlington terrier, bichon frise, Chinese crested, Irish water spaniel, Kerry blue terrier, Maltese, poodle, Portuguese water dog (shown here), schnauzer, soft-coated Wheaten terrier, and xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog).

Low-Dander Dogs Not Low-Allergy?

Are the AKC’s low-dander dogs really the least allergenic? Maybe not. One study of 288 dogs of eight different breeds showed that only Labrador retrievers (shown here, right) gave off significantly less allergen than other breeds. Among the most allergenic dogs: Poodles (shown here, left), which are on the AKC low-dander list, and Yorkshire terriers.

Individuals vs. Breeds

Bottom line: When it comes to being allergenic, a dog’s individual characteristics matter more than its breed. And bear in mind that dogs with dandruff give off more allergens. Breeds more likely to suffer hereditary dandruff problems include cocker spaniels, springer spaniels, basset hounds, West Highland white terriers, dachshunds, Labrador and golden retrievers (shown here), and German shepherds.

Dust Mites in Dog Domains

If you’re sneezing, it may not be the dog. Dust mites — a major allergen for people — thrive in places where your dog spends the most time. A recent study suggests replacing dog beds that are over a year old, especially if your house lacks central air or if the dog bed is in the basement.

No Hypoallergenic Cats

Cat saliva carries potent allergens. As with dogs, hair length isn’t the issue. Some cat breeds — Siberian and Russian blue cats — are reputed to be less allergenic. But there’s no such thing as a cat that can’t cause an allergic response in a susceptible person.

5 Ways to Cut Pet Allergy

Even when someone in the house is allergic, about 25% of families keep their pet. If Fluffy or Fido makes you sneeze, you might:

  • Keep pets out of bedrooms
  • Play with pets outdoors
  • Wash your hands after touching the pet
  • Wash your dog at least weekly
  • Get rid of carpets and rugs

Goodbye May Be Best

Allergies and asthma are not a small problem. If your child has a serious pet allergy, often the only solution is to find the pet a new home. Even then, it may take six months or more to completely clear your home of pet allergens.

The Allergy-Safe Pet

If you or someone in your family is among the 10% of people allergic to dogs, consider getting a pet that has no fur or feathers. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests a turtle, hermit crab, fish, or snake. Know that these pets also carry health risks. The CDC has warned that exotic pets may carry salmonella or other diseases, and pet turtles have been linked to recent salmonella outbreaks.