Abytes Pet and Animal

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How to Choose the Right Pet for Your Child

Playing matchmaker for your child and a new pet? There are certain things to consider before making the commitment. Here’s where to start.
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Have fond memories of the pet you loved in childhood and want the same for your children? Or maybe you’re just looking for the best way to respond to your child’s request for an animal companion. Pet health care requires a significant commitment — so before you bring home a furry friend for your child, take some time to make the best match.

Are You and Your Child Ready for a Pet?

Here are the first two questions to ask yourself when considering pets and kids: Is your child ready to help take care of a pet, and are you ready to supervise?

If you’re hoping to hand the care of a new pet over entirely to your child, think again. “Parents have the ultimate responsibility for pet care, regardless of the age of the child,” cautions animal behaviorist Melissa Bain, DVM, assistant professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in Davis, Calif. “If the child is given chores

What’s Behind Bad Pet Breath

Just like people, some dogs and cats have stinky breath. Here’s how to recognize if the stench signals a serious health problem — and how to say bye-bye to bad pet breath.
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Bad dog breath or cat breath can certainly be unpleasant — but more importantly, it could also be an indication of a pet health problem.

“Bad breath in pets is most commonly due to dental disease, including gingivitis, periodontitis, and decayed or abscessed teeth,” warns Jean Hofve, DVM, former editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and president of the Rocky Mountain Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.

There are other all-too-common factors that can cause bad breath in pets, adds Susan Nelson, DVM, an assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “Non-medical causes include eating malodorous foods or coprophagy (eating feces),” she says.

When Bad Breath Becomes a Problem

In rarer instances, bad dog or cat breath could be an indicator of a more serious health problem. “An ammonia odor may be due to kidney disease, while an acetone-type odor can be a sign

Does Your Pet Belong Indoors or Outdoors

Most experts agree: Cats and dogs are better off as indoor pets. Here’s why.
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Domestic cats and dogs are the most popular pets in the United States, numbering more than 130 million.

Some people believe that cats are natural outdoor pets and will be happier outside, but according to the Humane Society of the United States, cats will stay healthier as indoor pets. Since the 1940s, when kitty litter first became available, cats have gradually moved indoors. Cats left outside adapt quickly and will naturally start hunting smaller mammals. Because they are not as dependent on people as dogs are, they have a greater tendency to stray from their homes. In fact, 20 percent of cats that are adopted were strays.

Here are some things to keep in mind about outdoor cats:

Pet health. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is about two years compared to more than 10 years for an indoor cat. Ticks, fleas, disease, traffic, and predators all pose danger to outdoor cats. Studies have found that about 13 percent of a coyote’s diet consists of cats.
Environmental concerns. Domestic cats are not part

The Scoop on Holistic Pet Care

Humans aren’t the only ones whose illnesses can be treated holistically. Animal owners are seeking holistic veterinary methods for their pets, too.
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Taking an ailing pet to the vet usually follows a certain routine: The doctor examines your pet, maybe administers a shot, and writes out a prescription to fix what’s bothering him. But some pet owners are now foregoing the classic vet visit in favor of a new approach — holistic pet care.

Holistic pet care, including holistic canine care, is a way of treating a sick animal as a whole, instead of trying to cure an isolated problem, says Will Falconer, DVM, a veterinarian and certified veterinary homeopath in Austin, Texas.

“What it really means is looking at the biggest possible picture,” Dr. Falconer says. “What’s the context that this animal is really in? Is it a lousy emotional environment; is it injury — is their nutrition part of the equation? Often, it’s more than one thing.”

3 Types of Holistic Veterinary Methods

Though holistic medicine for pets has been around for ages, it has increased in popularity in the last few years, along with holistic care

Top Tips for Pet-Proofing Your Home

New pets are bound to get into a little trouble around the house. By taking some simple actions, you can keep your pet safe and healthy at home.
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Bringing home a new pet? You’ve probably considered the best ways to safeguard your rugs and furniture against “accidents.” But when you start to pet-proof your home, the real attention needs to be paid to safeguarding your pet from common household hazards.

A pet may be exposed to dangers in any room of your house, your garage, or your yard. Pet poisonings can occur from insecticides, cleaning products, prescription drugs, houseplants, and even foods you eat every day. Here’s how to keep Fido and Fluffy safe.

4 Ways to Pet-Proof Living Areas

Common pet hazards in living areas include burns or electrocution from electric cords and choking from swallowing items that fall on the floor. Follow these pet-proofing steps:

Avoid dangling wires or use cord covers. Chewing electric wires is especially tempting for kittens and puppies.
String-like items that fall on the floor can damage a pet’s intestinal tract. Pick up any tinsel, ribbon, string, or rubber bands. Check areas behind

Simple Steps for Housebreaking Indoor Pets

With the right equipment and techniques, you can train your cat or dog to “go” in the right place every time.
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Having indoor pets can be wonderful — but what should you do when you find a little yellow puddle on the floor?

Urinating in inappropriate places is a common problem among indoor pets, says Melissa Aguilar, a pet trainer and owner of Mutt Maniacs in Los Angeles. This is partly because dogs and cats often can’t tell the difference between indoor and outdoor urination. “If you’re that little, everything seems huge,” Aguilar says. “The house might as well be outside to them.”

However, training pets to “go” in the right place is not as hard as you make think.

A Kitty-Litter Box Primer

For cats, Aguilar says, no special litter-training techniques are usually required — just introduce your cat to her litter box and the rest should take care of itself. However, some cats can develop “outside-the-box” habits when owners fail to change the litter on a regular basis.

“The big key is keeping that litter box clean,” Aguilar says. “If it’s too soiled and messy, they won’t

Your Guide to Choosing Healthy Pet Food

Labels on pet food reveal a lot about its nutrient content — but actually understanding the labels can be a challenge. Here’s how to wade through the pet food aisle and come out with the best food for your pet.
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Trying to choose the best pet food for your animal can be confusing. Do you really know what nutritional claims like “real beef flavor” and “all natural” mean? Actually, animal protein in pet food can come from the scraps and by-products left over from meat processing, and that expensive bag of “premium” dog food could actually contain chicken feet as one of its protein sources.

Pet food ingredients are regulated on a state-by-state basis. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes a national standard for ingredients, definitions, and nutrient levels, but the organization has no enforcement authority. This means that AAFCO does not regulate pet food, but it does provide standards for what goes on pet food labels. The bottom line? If you want to choose the healthiest pet food, you should understand the basics of their labels.

A Pet Food Label Primer

Unfortunately, pet

Understanding Pet Food Labels

What’s in a food label? When picking out pet foods, there are a few important things you can find out — if you know how to decode the label’s lingo.
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Reading and understanding a pet food label is challenging. “Chicken n’ Fish Gourmet Dinner for Cats,” “Yum-Yum Premium Quality Chef’s Special Chicken De-Lite Puppy Chow,” “Brand X All-Natural Happy Paws Dog Food.” You’ve seen it all before: the catchy labels, the TV ads that try to make pet food look as tasty and appealing as what you serve your family to eat. But just what’s in that stuff? And whether it comes out of a can, a box, or a foil packet, how do you compare the nutrient values on different pet food labels? What does it all mean?

Product Name and Product Ingredients: 95 Percent, 25 Percent, or 3 Percent?

It should be pretty easy to tell what’s in a serving of pet food; alas, it requires a little work. The first order of business is to figure out if you’re getting what you think you’re getting. If the label says “beef,” how much is actually beef? The

Pet Obesity Is on the Rise

People aren’t the only ones facing an obesity epidemic in America — our dogs and cats are more overweight than ever.

Some small studies have hinted that about 40 percent of America’s dogs and cats were overweight and obese. But a large-scale study conducted in October 2008 shows that things are even worse than had been suspected, according to Ernie Ward, DVM, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

The second annual study found that 44 percent of dogs were overweight, including 10 percent that were obese. Things were worse for cats. “That is what we were fearful of,” Ward said. He said 57 percent of cats were overweight, including 17 percent falling into the obese category. The results come from a study using data collected by 95 U.S. vet clinics in which weight data was collected on 870 animals.

Ward, who practices in Calabash, N.C., said the population was representative of the veterinary patient population: two-thirds dogs and one-third

Recognizing and Treating Pain in Your Pet

If your pet’s in pain, you may not even hear a peep out of him — so how do you know when he needs your help?

Treating pain in your dog or cat can be difficult, because while people are “painfully” aware when they are in pain, animals are much more stoic. Therefore, it’s oftentimes difficult to know when animals are actually suffering or in pain. Most importantly, they can’t open their mouths and say, “Hey mom, I’m in pain over here. Can you help me?”

Thus, pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine. Organizations such as the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine Center for the Management of Animal Pain, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Companion Animal Pain Management Consortium are all committed to studying pain and pain management in animals. Studies have shown that by helping your pet avoid pain, you may be able to speed the recovery process, whether from surgery or

Pet Proof Your Home

New puppy or kitten on the way? Follow these strategies to make your home safe for your pet
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A new pet is more than an adorable bundle of fur; it’s also a big responsibility. That pesky puppy or curious kitten can find lots of ways to get into trouble, and — contrary to popular opinion — pets don’t always intuitively know what can be potentially harmful to eat or drink. A pet’s safety always comes first, but you’ll also want to take steps to safeguard your furniture, carpeting, and other belongings (including that favorite pair of shoes). Read on for tips that will help you pet-proof your home.

Pet Safety: Gates and Latches

“The most common injury in new pets that I see in my practice is puppies falling off beds, sofas, and other high furniture,” says Ernest Ward, Jr., D.V.M., the founder and chief of staff at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, North Carolina, and a regular guest on The Rachael Ray Show. To prevent such falls, keep your pet off high furniture — a rule that holds for kittens too, says

Keeping a Healthy Home With Pets

Tips and tricks for easy-care pet abodes
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There’s no doubt about it — pets add joy and contentment to a home. In fact, numerous studies have shown that people who live with pets report they are happier and healthier than those who don’t.

And yet there are health factors those who keep furry friends inside should heed — such as managing the shedding, fleas and ticks, accidents, and other issues indoor pets can bring. And with 70 percent of U.S. households home to a dog or cat, according to American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, that includes just about everyone.

Approximately 10 to 15% of people are allergic to pets. Cat allergies outnumber dog allergies two-to-one. “There really is no allergy-free pet,” says Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America spokesperson Angel Waldron. “There are just pets with less dander.” Dander, a common source of pet allergies, is dead skin shed by pets on a daily basis. Urine and saliva are other typical sources of pet allergies.

Still, about one-third of Americans allergic to cats decide the benefits of animal companionship outweigh the downside of allergy symptoms and

How to Find a Pet Friendly Place to Stay

It may take a bit of planning to find stops along your route that will welcome your pet.
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Finding a pet-friendly place to stay can involve a number of factors. Imagine driving all day with a long-suffering, trusty animal companion by your side, then finding the only hotel for miles around doesn’t admit pets.

This scenario may have been all-too-familiar a few years ago, but the ever-increasing number of pet travelers has made a huge impact on the industry. Hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, resorts, and private rentals are now vying to attract four-legged customers.

About 35 percent of hotels in the United States and Canada allow pets to bunk with you, according to DogFriendly.com, a Web site that tracks dog-friendly hotels and lodging, ski resorts, campgrounds and RV parks, beaches, and dog parks. The site also offers city guides and event listings.

With a little planning, it’s easy to find the right place to meet both of your needs.

Catering to Every Taste

For the upscale pet traveler, hotels offer intriguing options:

The St. Regis Aspen is pet-friendly. Pet owners fret not: even the dog beds have Frette linens.

Hilton properties recently developed the Hilton Pet Friendly

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

Workplace Petiquette Tips for Bringing Your Pet to Work


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 —

How to Travel Safely With Your Pet


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

4 Things You Should Know About Your Vet


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

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