Abytes Pet and Animal

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Month: April 2015

Finding a Pet Friendly City

Want to live in or visit a place that loves pets? Here are some tips for finding just the right place.
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Where exactly are the most pet-friendly places in the USA? Ask different animal aficionados and fans of four-legged companions what city is the most pet friendly, and you’re bound to get a wide array of answers. But by talking to experts and taking a closer look at recent rankings published by various magazines and Web sites, our country’s pet meccas clearly stand out — some more consistently than others.

Great Pet Getaways

Pet owners are itching to take Fido and Fluffy with them on pet-friendly vacations. The Travel Industry Association, in fact, reported that 29 million people have taken a pet with them on a trip between 2003 and 2006, and 29 percent lodged in hotels and motels with their pets. Dogs are the most common animal to accompany these travelers (78 percent), followed by cats (15 percent).

If you’re looking for a highly rated pet-friendly town to visit, consider the American Automobile Association’s 2006 listing of the most accommodating cities for travelers with pets. Three Lone Star State cities topped the charts: Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, in descending order. Houston placed highest because it boasts 108 pet-friendly available accommodations, two off-leash dog parks, and 20 emergency veterinary hospitals. Approximately half of Houston’s hotels allow pets, and the city’s Millie Bush Dog Park is the No. 1 dog park in the country, according to Dog Fancy magazine.
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In 2007, DogFriendly.com released its top 10 dog-friendly vacation destinations list. Boston, Mass. placed No. 1, thanks to a number of canine-catering amenities — including a subway system that permits leashed dogs to accompany riders, a red-arrowed path for pooches along the two-mile Freedom Trail, plentiful boat rides and whale-watching tours that welcome pups and much more. Among the other urban hotspots that made the cut were No. 2 Vancouver, British Columbia; No. 3 New York, N.Y.; No. 4 San Francisco, Calif.; and No. 5 Austin, Texas.

Ask Sandy Chio, director of marketing for the Telluride Tourism Board, and she’ll tell you that it’s the town she touts that tourists should make plans to visit with their furry friends.

In Telluride, Colo., “pets are considered more a part of the family,” Chio said. “In fact, Telluride boasts more dogs than people per capita. Here, pets can accompany their owners on trips. Dogs are welcome in more than half of the inns and hotels. The town’s free shuttle bus system helps tired paws by welcoming well-behaved pets on a leash. And there are designated puppy parking spots throughout town.”

Telluride also ranks first on Fido Friendly magazine managing editor Arden Moore’s personal list of favorite cities to travel with pets. Ventura, Calif., is a close second, however. On a recent trip with her dog Chipper, she stayed at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach hotel and fell in love with Ventura, “a beach town that goes gaga over dogs of all sizes,” Moore said.

Towns Pet Lovers Can Call Their Own

If you’re considering a move that will benefit both you and your pets, do your homework, as some cities are more amenable to pets than others.

Greta Gustafson, a dog owner from Seattle, Wash., who has traveled and lived across the United States with her pets, speaks highly of Boulder and Denver, Colo., “where dogs are treated like people. They ride in the front seat of the car and go into local stores to do shopping with their owner.”

In a 2007 list of the country’s best cities for dogs, Dog Fancy named San Diego first, based on a number of key factors including its warm climate, numerous pet-friendly beaches, a shopping center with an off-leash park, and several restaurants that open their doors to pets. Long Beach and Carmel, Calif., round out the top 3.
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Colorado Springs, Colo., Portland, Ore., Albuquerque, N.M., Tucson, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash. are, in order, the best cities for dogs, per a recent list published by Men’s Health magazine — which preferred these western state cities based on abundant dog parks, pet stores, animal shelters, veterinarians and boarding/daycare facilities as well as ample room to roam.

Forbes magazine agreed with the latter’s top three choices, selecting Colorado Springs, Portland, and Albuquerque as America’s most pet-friendly cities in 2007. Austin, Texas, came in fourth and Charlotte, N.C., fifth.

Dog– and Cat–Compassionate Cities

Lastly, if animal altruism is important to you, give pause to The Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) 2007 rankings of the nation’s most humane cities. In order, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., and San Diego claimed the top 5 spots. Criteria that the HSUS considered in its “Humane Index” included the policies of locally elected federal officials, animals used in entertainment, and the number of vegetarian restaurants and fur retailers within the municipality.

“Compassionate people thinking of moving to a new city should consider looking at the way a community’s humane values are reflected in all the ways identified by our Humane Index,” said Jennifer Fearing, chief economist for HSUS.

Workplace Petiquette Tips for Bringing Your Pet to Work

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Love having your pooch by your side during your 9-to-5? Be sure to brush up on office-pet protocol in time for National Take Your Dog to Work Day.
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Grab the leash and doggy treats before you head to work on Friday, June 24. Why? It’s National Take Your Dog to Work Day.

When Take Your Dog to Work Day was started in 1999, the organizers asked workplaces and business owners everywhere to become Fido-friendly for one day of the year. But some companies didn’t stop there: According to a recent study by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, one in five U.S. companies allows employees to bring their pets to work. Having pets in the workplace is increasingly seen as a win-win by businesses — it creates a more pleasant work atmosphere for animal lovers and improves productivity and (hopefully) profit margins for management.

But before you plant your dog into your cubicle for the day, know that there are plenty of “do’s” and “don’ts” involved — and knowing the difference can improve your pet’s visit and enhance your own reputation in your workplace.

“When it comes to taking your dog to the office, the key to a safe and successful experience is to prepare your dog in advance and to recognize potential problem situations before they happen,” said Liam Crowe, president and COO of Englewood, Colo.-based Bark Busters, which has trained more than 350,000 dogs over the past 18 years.

Pets at Work: Dos and Don’ts

From Crowe and other pet experts, here are some helpful tips when bringing your dog to work:

Note that most companies only allow dogs in the workplace. Check with your employer to see what animals are allowed at work.
A workplace can be an anxious environment for your pet. Make it more “homey” by bringing your pet’s favorite snack, blanket, or toy to make them more comfortable.
A hungry or thirsty pet can be a distraction in the workplace. To keep your dog in line, bring along plenty of food and water.
To avoid conflict with other pets, keep your dog or other pet isolated from other employees’ pets.
Recognize that your pet is different from other pets. While you may immediately “read” your pet’s mood, it’s not so easy to gauge the mood of an unfamiliar animal. Consequently, keep your eyes and ears open for signs of aggressiveness from other employees’ pets. For example, if another dog stares with its ears forward, has its hackles up, or growls aggressively, these are clear signals of adrenaline in the system and could indicate the dog is ready to attack.
Conflicts between pets are inevitable. If your pet gets in a scramble with another animal in the office, keep a cool head and a handy blanket nearby. Toss the blanket over the squabbling pets to distract them, and then remove your pet from the scene.
You’re the boss — in your home and in the workplace. Make sure your pet knows that. Experts say that in unfamiliar environs (like your office) your pet is even more prone to challenge your authority. The key is to ensure that your pet knows you are the leader. Some key ways to accomplish that are to ignore any requests for attention from the pet, keeping eye contact to a minimum. When your pet tires of trying to get your attention, call him back for a little play session.
Your pet must be up-to-date on all medical vaccinations and you should have documentation available before you bring it in the office.
Keep your pet on a leash at all times and have a confined space for it to roam around. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules dictate that your employer must keep a clear passageway in the workplace. A sleeping pet may be considered — officially — an obstruction.
Groom your animal before bringing it to work to prevent allergic reactions. OSHA also calls for a “safe working environment” — all it takes is one complaint from an allergy-ridden co-worker to cause a problem.
Keep pets out of eating areas and break rooms.
If you work late, know that your pet may get antsy. Some experts advise that most pets aren’t the sunrise-to-sundown type-A personalities that personify some workplaces. If you bring your pet to work, keep regular hours. If it’s crunch time at the office, leave your pet at home.

Above all, use common sense — in the workplace, your career comes ahead of your pet. “Pets can bring real energy to the office, and we think that it also improves productivity,” said Karen Macy, human resources manager at Rochester, Mich.-based Leader Dogs for the Blind. “But employees have to understand that having your pet at work is a privilege — and they have to take responsibility for the pets. When that happens, everybody benefits — especially employees and their pets.”

How to Travel Safely With Your Pet

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Getting your dog or cat safely into a car or onto a plane requires some thoughtful planning.
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Traveling with pets is becoming more and more popular. Today’s dogs, and even some cats, are vacationing thanks to friendlier airlines, safety innovations, pet-friendly hotels, resorts, campsites, and restaurants with outdoor dining privileges.

Gregg Takashima, DVM, founder of the Parkway Veterinary Hospital in Portland, Ore., offers tips to keep pets safe while traveling:

By Plane

In most cases, it’s safe for your pet to travel by plane if your vets give the OK. “Animals accustomed to traveling in a car, going out on walks, and who are socialized tend to travel very well depending on their personalities,” Takashima said.

Traveling internationally or even crossing state lines in a plane requires a health certificate from your vet. Additional ways to prepare:

Make sure vaccines (especially rabies) are up to date.
Consider an ID collar and a tag – even a microchip.

The trend nowadays is against sedation unless significant risks for pet injury exist. “Sedation can cause the pet to feel unstable and cause more fear,” Takashima explained. “Cats tend to fly pretty well because they are usually allowed in the cabin in a cat carrier under the seat.”

Preparations for international travel with pets can be complex and there may be extensive planning. Double check with the airlines and your destination’s consulate to make sure you have the most up to date information about the papers you are required to bring. Many documents for international travel require the signature of a certified USDA veterinarian which adds an additional step. Pet travel companies, like travelpets.com, remove a lot of the guesswork. “It’s very tedious to have to do the work yourself. You would have to start six months ahead of time,” Takashima said.

By Car

A few pointers for traveling safely with dogs in motor vehicles:

Have your dog always wear a specially designed dog seat belt or dog car harness in front and back seats.
Ensure adequate ventilation.
Never let your dog put its head outside the window, as this can lead to ear and eye injuries.
For cats, provide a good carrier, a place to sleep, and a safe place for the litter box. Make sure they cannot escape if the doors or windows accidentally open.

By Boat

Some innovative products make boating and sailing with your dog reasonably safe. “There are dog life vests,” Takashima said. “If they do fall overboard, you can pull them up.”

Dogs can also use puppy pads and artificial turf products for elimination. “Your pet can get acclimated fairly easily, but do that well ahead of time,” Takashima said.

Basic Tips

Make sure your pet is well groomed (not itchy or dirty).
Take along some comforts of home – bed, blanket, toys, litter box.
Rather than buying new types of food, carry your pet’s familiar food from home when practical.
Carriers should be big enough for standing and turning around, with room for food and water.
Place absorbent towels on the carrier floor in case of accidents.
Have a pet first aid kit for emergencies.

Takashima’s own dog sleeps in a carrier every night, even at home. “We turn off the television and he runs to his carrier. He’s a good traveler,” Takashima said.

4 Things You Should Know About Your Vet

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Maybe you think your vet is charging too much, but once you understand how vets are trained, you may change your mind.
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The treatment your veterinarian and their vet technicians provide is worth the price you must pay. Often you’re finishing up with the vet when the receptionist delivers the good news: The bill is ready for you. Now for the bad news: It’ll cost you a chunk of change for baby’s Bordetella shot and its freshly emptied anal sacs.

But why should you have to pay so much to help a poor, defenseless (not to mention super cute) creature? After all, if you can’t find charity at the vet’s office, where can you?

Ask Georgette Wilson, DVM, manager of vet operations at Pfizer Animal Health in New York City, and she’ll tell you that charity is all a matter of perspective.

“If you’re looking for an educated, compassionate, and fair hand in the care and well-being of your animal, chances are your vet’s already giving it in droves,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately, too many people fail to recognize the value vets bring to their pets. We’re asked over and over again that, if we love animals so much, why aren’t we offering our services for free?”

To answer that question — and help you understand why veterinarians are worth their weight in currency — the following are four things you may not know about them, but should. They just may change the way you think about paying on the way out.

#1: They are trained as vigorously as doctors of human medicine.

Consider this:

It takes four years of college and four years of veterinary school to become a vet. Then, students must pass both national and state exams to practice, and take continuing education courses to keep up with new developments.
It’s statistically harder to get into veterinary school than it is to get into a human medical school because of the limited number of vet schools, as compared to medical schools. (There are only 28 vet schools in the United States).
Vets going into specialty practice (there are about 20 in veterinary medicine, from cardiology and ophthalmology to behavioral medicine and surgery, etc) go on to do an internship and residency, with each step becoming more competitive.
“When all is said and done, a vet can have as many as 11 to 12 years of additional training after high school,” Wilson said. “Most people don’t know that.”

#2: It’s not about the money for vets.

While today’s veterinarians can make a good living, it’s not nearly as much as their counterparts in human medicine. Depending on where they live and their specific field of practice, they can make anywhere from about $35,000 (for equine veterinarians) to $117,000 a year (for laboratory animal veterinarians), according to the most recent estimates. Vets in private practice earn around $50,000, and those in government earn around $70,000.

“The reward for us is really not about money, because we don’t make as much as many people think,” Wilson said. “It’s really about seeing pets get better.”

#3: They love science and medicine.

“People always say I must love animals to be in veterinary medicine. And I do, but I also love science and medicine,” Wilson said. In fact, she and others agree it’s the combination of all three that draw people into veterinary practice.

And that’s a good thing, since there’s plenty of each involved in treating the broad spectrum of species examined and treated by veterinarians. While human physicians must learn about male and female anatomy and physiology, vets need to understand cats, dogs, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, horses, birds, rodents, rabbits, amphibians, reptiles, and so on.

Vets also need to know how each species functions and responds to available medications, and have a solid understanding of the basic behaviors, care requirements, diseases, and parasites related to each species.

#4: They offer value beyond the prescription.

Finally, while vets bring their medical skills and knowledge in treating their patients and educating their patient’s owners, they also offer the softer side of what it takes to be a communicative, concerned, and knowledgeable caregiver — and a great advocate for your pet.

“Becoming a vet is a lot of hard work and we take seriously our duty to act in the best interests of our client’s pets,” Wilson said. “Even if owners don’t like our recommendations or paying for them, we try to help them understand the value of our experience, education, and expertise. I always hope, as all vets do, that at the end of a visit, owners leave feeling good about how we’ve helped them.”

Rather than skimping on visits to the vet, pet owners should consider pet insurance and other forms of financial assistance.

More women going into veterinary medicine

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association Web site, 75 percent of those going into veterinary college are women. Why the trend?

“I think women are more comfortable with and better able to express the emotions and compassion required in treating animals,” said Georgette Wilson, DVM. “It’s not that men can’t do it, it’s that often they’re looking for something more lucrative. Regardless, it’s nice to have so many women in such a great field.”

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