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Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Company Will Start Building “The World’s Most Pet-Friendly House” But Here Are Some Hints For All Pet Parents…

dalmation, parrot and other pets

Protect your beloved pets from everyday hazards in your home…

Pets are more than just animals. Our furry, feathered, and finned friends require time, attention, and as safe and comfortable a home as we do. “Most people don’t think about pets when buying or building houses—not even the pet owners themselves,” says David Beart of professorshouse.com, a Canadian company that will start building “the world’s most pet-friendly house” at the end of this year. “Over half of all homes have pets living in them, but animals are still an afterthought when it comes to home improvements,” says Beart. “What I really want to get across is much more than just creating the world’s most pet-friendly house,” Beart adds. “It’s about making people think of pets with importance rather than as possessions, or even disposable.”

When you’re planning a home for both you and your pets, consider their particular needs. Think about whether you’re putting your door-dashing dog on a high-traffic street. Will your protective pup go postal on guests? How can you make your multi-story home comfortable for your elderly dog? What common household items are hazardous to pets and not humans? (Last year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances and hazardous things in their own homes.) Keep reading to learn what you should be looking for, and how a little planning can go a long way to help you streamline your daily routine and keep your pet safe and happy.

All-Fours Inspection

Try to think like your pet to get a sense of what might be dangerous to them. The pros at Purina suggest that the best way to start is by taking “a puppy’s eye-view” of things. You have to put yourself in your pet’s place—and get down on all fours—to take a look around. Make sure you inspect areas that your pet can access by way of climbing or jumping. You’d be surprised at the dangers a periodic inspection of your home can reveal. Here are some hazards to look for (although they may not be all you find):

•Look for choking, strangulation, electrocution, and suffocation hazards. Keep window treatment cords short and cut through any loops, and unplug or cover wires and electrical cords.
•Don’t leave human foods and medications where pets can access them. Eliminate “ladders” that curious pets can climb to access elevated areas like countertops and tabletops. Discard perishable trash daily to keep pets from rummaging through it.

Between trips to the curb, keep trash odors (and pet temptation) low with baking soda and a tight-fitting lid. One pet-owner favorite is the stainless steel and rubber Vipp Trash Can with foot-pedal.

If pets get into the trash, they can chew chicken bones into shards, get to choking hazards like fruit seeds and cores—and your house is going to be a mess. Note that many fruit seeds contain natural contaminants that can result in potentially fatal cyanide poisoning in dogs: Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, caffeine in coffee grinds and chocolate are also toxic, sugar-free foods and gums containing Xylitol can cause liver failure, and nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures, and central nervous system damage. See the ASPCA’s list of  Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet. If you think your pet has ingested something hazardous, call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 right away.

•Make sure indoor plants are varieties that are pet-safe. Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. Other common, but toxic, plants include amaryllis, poinsettia, mums, and aloe vera. See the ASPCA’s database of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants before bringing a new plant home.

•Pets can often maneuver cupboards open to access home cleaning products, pesticides, fertilizers, and other hazardous items. Consider latching them shut. Keep rooms where you set out rodenticides and traps off limits to your pet.

•Not letting your pet ingest antifreeze seems like a no-brainer. But, the smell and taste of the stuff is especially appealing to both cats and dogs. In fact, approximately 10,000 pets die every year as a result of antifreeze poisoning from as little as a drop. Keep it stored in a latched cabinet or on a high shelf, and use it carefully, cleaning up any drips or spills immediately.

•Keep your toilet lid down, especially if you use automatic bowl cleaners, to eliminate risk of poisoning. Keeping the lid down also eliminates a drowning hazard.

•The number of cats that fall out of windows is so high, that the veterinary profession has coined the term High-Rise Syndrome. If you must open windows, make sure that screens are sturdy and properly installed. Window guards are not adequate protection for cats, who can easily fit through the bars.

Carving Out a Space

Kittens and pups will sneak into an opened dryer (or other small, dangerous places) the first chance they get. Give them their own space and you won’t have to worry about them seeking refuge where they don’t belong. A hazard-free zone, with a cozy bed, water source, and safe toys will do the trick. Other convenient features include a sink to wash feeding bowls, and adequate storage for accessories. Remember that well-exercised pets are less likely to get into trouble, and more likely to rest well at night instead of barking or whining for attention. If it’s possible, create a pet area in a mudroom with cat or doggy door access to a fenced-in yard, corral, or dog run so that they can head outdoors at their leisure.

Litter boxes should be placed away from feeding areas and in a place that’s private, but not too isolated. If your pet doesn’t feel safe or comfortable using a litter box, he won’t. Elderly pets should be given an area on the ground level, and weepads should be accessible. Consider placement of ramps to furniture if you allow your elderly pet that kind of access. If you’re not home for most of the day, you’re presented with a special set of concerns: Consider a pet fountain so that fresh water is readily available. Leave your pet with sturdy toys that won’t break to reveal small parts. Interactive treat toys made of high-impact plastic, like the Buster Cube from Doctors Foster and Smith, will keep your pets occupied and stay in one piece. If your pet is especially curious, consider crate training him or blocking off a small, safe area with a baby gate.

Paw-Safe Flooring and Fabrics

Go with fabrics and flooring materials that’ll make less work for you. Stylish, easy-care leather or ultrasuede can be wiped clean and won’t be dramatically affected by wear. Crypton Super Fabric is a synthetic germ- and stain-resistant option made with pet owners in mind. It’s available in a variety of custom colors and patterns and the Crypton online store offers couture pet beds, “Throver” furniture covers, and decorative pillows.

Carpet isn’t the best choice for pet owners, but if you must go wall-to-wall, choose a color that matches your pet (it’ll mask pet hair) with a performance rating of 3.5 or higher. For lightweight dogs, hardwood with adequate urethane finish is a common and easy-clean choice. For heavier dogs, ceramic tile or another nonporous hard surface flooring would be best. See Pet-Friendly Flooring for more ideas.

Clean Pet, Clean House

Groom your pet yourself, and you’ll save up to $100 per visit to pros. You’ll also spend less time cleaning house. Regular nail clipping keeps scratch damage down, while regular brushing keeps hair in the brush instead of, well, everywhere else. Brush before and after a wash to keep drain-clogging hair to a minimum. Vacuum twice a week with a machine like the DC17 Animal Vac by Dyson designed especially for homes with pets. It features a mini turbine head to lift hair and dirt from upholstery, stairs, and vehicles. The design allows for hygienic bin emptying and includes a lifetime HEPA filter. For a quick clean up, pass strips of packing tape or a wet plastic kitchen glove over clothing and surfaces to pick up stray hairs.

If your pet inherits furniture and flooring that isn’t ideal, then you’ll have to become a master at stain removal and disinfecting. Monitor your pet so accidents can be handled promptly. The longer a stain sits, the harder it’ll be to remove, and your pet will be more likely to sniff out the same spot for a repeat offense. Look for special cleaning products with natural enzymes to break down stains and odors. Pros recommend OdorLogic CleanAway and OdorLogic OxyQuick (for fresh stains). Finally, pay attention to flea and tick prevention and control. If the pests are on your pet, then odds are flea eggs, pupae, and larvae are in your carpeting, bedding, and yard.

Petscaping Your Yard

If you let your pets out into the yard, flea and tick prevention isn’t your only concern. You’ll have to determine whether you need to build or add structures, install invisible fences, and identify toxic plants in your landscape. The ASPCA keeps an extensive database of plants that are hazardous to dogs, cats, and even horses. Some such plants are azaleas, some ferns and ivies, daffodils, and daylilies. Pet-friendly plants include bamboo and, of course, catnip. Search the ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants database before you put something in the ground. Insecticides and fertilizers were among the ASPCA’s top 10 pet poisons in 2008, so consider organic gardening.

Feeding Time

Buying bulk to save on pet food? Then you have to store it appropriately to avoid contamination and slow the vitamin and nutrient degradation process. Check for tears in food packages before you buy them. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) advises against using feeding dishes to scoop food out of packages. Assign a clean spoon or small container for scooping. FDA guidelines for food storage call for leftover wet food to be refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and dry food to be stored in its original bag, then placed in a clean, food-grade plastic container, and stored at 80 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Placing the bag in a container will also keep unwanted insects and rodents away. Note that dry foods are more nutritious and less susceptible to contamination or spoilage than wet foods are.

Storing bulk food in large trash cans in the garage is a fairly common practice, but this exposes food to temperature extremes in a container that can leach dyes and additives into food over time. Make sure you purchase a special food storage container, or visit a local food establishment to claim a food-grade plastic bucket that’ll soon be headed for the trash heap.

Small Animals

“Too often parents buy small pets and fish for their children as learning tools, but those pets are even more fragile than cats and dogs,” Beart explains. “The average lifespan of a hamster, for example, is about 3 years. In many homes, the pet hardly ever lasts more than a few months.” Here are some helpful tips that’ll ensure the safety and longevity of your small pets:

Hamsters

•They tend to be active at night and asleep during the day. For that reason, you’ll want make sure your pet’s exercise wheel isn’t a squeaky one.
•Provide at least 2 inches of bedding to allow for normal burrowing behavior. Use shredded tissue or paper, or clean processed corncob. Commonly used cedar chips are associated with respiratory and live disease in rodents. Clean cages and refresh bedding at least once a week.
•Many hamsters must be kept in cages by themselves after the age of 10 weeks. Adult females are especially hostile to one another, so do your homework before you consider grouping.

Guinea Pigs

•Their bodies cannot produce Vitamin C, so you’ll have to supplement it with an appropriate product from your pet supply store.
•Guinea pig’s teeth grow constantly, so chew toys are essential.

Rabbits

•They actually learn litter box habits quickly and easily. Keep in mind that they like to chew and may hide in small, dark spaces. When you allow your pet time out of his cage for exercise, consider cord protectors, securely cover ducts and vents, and always locate your pet before sitting down and opening and closing recliners.

Birds

•Cage placement is very important: Keep the cage away from windows and radiators to protect your bird from drafts and direct exposure to heat. Many birds prefer to have a safe corner to back into, and if a cage is placed away from walls or toward the center of a room, it can make your pet feel insecure. Cage placement away from windows also means your bird won’t always be anxiously guarding itself from “predators” like your neighbors dog and other passing animals.
•They perch and take cover in the wild, so provide these opportunities in their cages. Your bird’s foot should wrap around approximately 2/3 of each perch and toes should never meet and overlap. Irritation, injury, and infection may result if perches are too small.
•Kitchens are a common place for pet-owners to keep their bird cages. Be aware that birds have very sensitive respiratory systems, and fumes emitted from overheated nonstick cookware could be fatal.
•Do your homework when looking for pet birds: Some species, like social finches, require companionship while others will do fine on their own.

Fish

•Though fish are widely considered the most “disposable” of pets, you can greatly reduce tank mortality by creating the ideal water conditions for the type of fish you have. Required temperatures and pH levels depend upon the kind of fish you have. Research the requirements of your breed and monitor their conditions periodically.
•When adding new swimmers to your tank, consider the types of fish you already have. Some species may be aggressive or even attempt to eat other fish. Tell a pro at the pet store what’s already in your tank, and ask if the fish you want to group are compatible.

By: Tabitha Sukhai, This Old House Magazine

Posted:  Just One More Pet

August 12, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Our 2-Year Old German Shepherd Has Started Biting…

I thought this exchange was worth sharing…  Comes from my animal group on AARP.org Dog Blog Group. Original Post:

Need some advice if any of you has had experience with this. Our GSD is 2 yrs old and White_German_Shepherdin the past 3 days has bitten both my husband and myself as we tried to take a bone from her-two separate occasions. My bite was very hard and unexpected-I was taking a beef-jerky bone from in front of her-it was not in her mouth, just on the floor. But her paws were on each side of it. I said “you finished yours-and that one is for Levi”-she barked viciously as I had never heard her before and immediately sunk her teeth into my hand. I had to go to the emergency room to get it washed out, a tetanus shot and was put on antibiotics.

So yesterday my husband tried the same thing-don’t ask me why. He German-Shepherd-Dogthought he was immune. She did not get him as hard but I heard her same wild bark and knew what had happened. Our trainers said she needs firmer control and possession-aggression classes. My doctor said whatever we do, don’t re-home her (which we would not as we would not want this to happen to someone else). I am waiting to consult with my vet, but just wondered if anyone had other experiences. She has been in training since she was a pup-both obedience and protection and  is very well-taken care of.

Responses:

CritSis:

I think the older a dog gets the more possessive he gets of his food. I was bitten by a dachshund and she was eating a treat I gave her. She was the gentlest dog I’ve ever cared for. However, from that incident, I learned never to reach down or interfere when they are eating or have food within their possession. Just a rule of thumb with dogs, no matter how well-trained a dog might be.

Magic:

Did something happen or was there some kind of event prior to those three days?

Aas she ever bitten before for any other reason?

Who is levi?  Another Pet?

Kate:

My ex has a huge German Shepherd that’s only a year and a half.  Scout was displaying the same tendency your dog is – so I told them not to give him any bones for a while and began teaching him the command ‘Give” .

I  wore heavy gloves, held one of his favorite toys – a  Ty-Baby cat – and commanded him to sit.  He was very excited at the sight of the cat and it took a couple commands.  When he sat I told him ‘Good Scout’ and held out the cat.  He’d start to lunge for it and I’d command, NO.  Then I’d make him sit again.  Finally, he’d sit and just watch it.  Then I threw it and he brought it back into the room and I would (with the glove on) grasp the cat still in his mouth and tell him “GIVE” as I forced his mouth open and removed it.  Then we started all over again.  It took several days with an hour training session for him to understand the rules of the game and the commands.

Then, still wearing the glove, I changed the cat to a bone and after about an hour, he was playing the game.  Now when my ex or his wife wants to remove something, Scout is made to SIT and if he tries to pick up the bone, he must GIVE.

One good deterrent I’ve found is a large spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.  If he’s barking and acting up or running around, or jumping on people in his excitement – all they have to do now is pick up the bottle and he retreats to his bed.

P.S. I’m 5 foot 3 inches and when he puts his paws on my shoulders, I have to look UP to tell him to SIT.

Good luck and don’t forget the heavy glove.

JOMP:

I agree with all three of the previous comments.  I think the re-training attempt with the glove is certainly worth a try!!  …Or perhaps getting some input from a private trainer.  It is odd that all of a sudden out of nowhere your dog would become that aggressive over her bone/food for no reason. However, many dogs are aggressive or protective when it comes to food.  It is in their nature, especially if you have more than one dog!!  Is Levi a second dog?

We have 4 (long story) a pure breed Chihuahua (mom), a Chiweenie – Chihuahua Weener Dog Mix (dad) and two of their pups.  The mom, who was always so even tempered has become somewhat possessive with her food and even became aggressive at times, but only with food, after the puppies grew up and stayed.  She has bitten me and my husband on occasion when she thought we were going to take away her food and will snap at the other dogs (over food)… but otherwise she is the most easy going dog in the world.  And now that the pups know better, she has calmed down.  She has claimed her dominant spot as the Alpha Dog among the pack of 4.

I think that some of it is instinct in dogs to protect their food… if you have more than one.  And I also think that sometimes it happens if they feel they are not getting their share of attention.  We over acknowledged and petted the mom for awhile as she went through this phase and that seemed to help a lot.  My husband also turned it into a game.  If she starts to growl over a treat… He calls her name and says, “Cookie??  Your Cookie??” in a joyful manner and moves toward her…  She then immediately barks and then grabs the treat and the game is over.

I realize that a German Shepherd bite is scarier than a Chihuahua bite, but I would try not to over-react on the negative side.  Also, now that you’ve had your Tetanus shot, if it is your own dog and just a nip type of bite… even if it is hard, you shouldn’t need to go to the emergency room or doctor if it happens again.  They also often over-react.

Children often go through biting phases when things are bothering them and I think the same thing happens sometimes with pets.

My two cents…

Wilson:

Excerpts from The Ten Commandments for Pet Guardians:

2. Give me time to understand what you want from me. Please don’t break my spirit with your temper, though I will always forgive you. Your patience and kindness and love will teach me much more effectively.

4. Treat me with loving kindness, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for your kindness and love than mine. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. After all, you have your job, your friends, your family, your entertainment. I have only you.

7. Please, PLEASE don’t hit me. It hurts me, it confuses me, and it saddens me beyond words.

8. Before you hurt my feelings and confuse me by scolding me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me or making me sick. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food or I’ve been out in the sun too long or my heart may be getting weak or I’m sad because you’ve been gone too long.

She’s in YOUR world and she’s doing the best she can with what she’s been given to work with.  But, something’s wrong.  Please try to figure it out and help her.  

Is there such a thing as too much training?

Posted:  Just One More Pet

June 30, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

In Pets We Trust

Kathleen McCabe weeps when she recalls the death of Alexis Jarose. Not only did McCabe lose her best friend, but she couldn’t save Jarose’s dog, Schweppes, a wirehaired fox terrier. “I would have willingly taken him, but when Alexis died, her caregiver immediately put the dog to sleep. There was nothing I could do, because Lex had revised her will leaving out any mention of Schweppes,” she recalled.

A similar fate won’t befall McCabe’s beloved terrier, Spencer. Since McCabe first crafted a will with her husband, Stephen, 40 years ago, provisions have always been made for their pets.

Animals who outlive their owners face uncertain fates. Under the best circumstances, a family member or friend cares for your pet for the rest of its life. If not, your pet goes to a shelter, is euthanized, or is simply let out the front door. The Humane Society of the United States estimates six to eight million dogs and cats enter shelters annually. Only half are adopted.

Should an accident befall payroll specialist Millicent Reed, 50, or her husband Jimmy, her sister-in-law Patricia would get first right of refusal to their seven cats. Another sister-in-law is next in line. Reed said a plan is essential. Six years ago, her aunt was in an auto accident and later died.

“We knew my aunt’s cat, Pepper, was alone, but it took us a week to fly to my aunt’s home,” she said. By then Pepper was out of food and scrounging through the garbage cans. Now Reed always leaves her pets enough accessible food and water to last at least a week should something catastrophic occur. 

Thinking of leaving a chunk of change to Fido or Fluffy? Think again. “In our current legal system, an animal can’t own property. Some human has to be in charge. A will is a transfer of assets. Once it’s done, there’s no ongoing supervision,” explained Mary Randolph, a non-practicing lawyer and the author of “Every Dog’s Legal Guide” (2007).

Randolph suggests a pet trust. This legal document—recognized in 39 states and the District of Columbia—outlines the continued care and maintenance of domestic animals and names new caregivers or directs trustees to find new homes for pets. “A trustee has a legal duty of carrying out your wishes,” she said.

While owners may simply include their pets as provisions in their wills, Michael Markarian of the Humane Society believes a trust is a better option in case of disability. He said, “Wills may take weeks to be executed and could be contested, but a living trust can be written to immediately take effect.”

Creating one does take time. Select a pet-friendly lawyer or estate planner and expect to pay from $500 to $1,000 for their services. Be sure to consider your pet’s financial future. Some owners make outright gifts of cash for their animals’ care.

Hilary Lane of Louisville, Colo., has set aside $5,000 to offset costs for the person who ends up with her dogs, Luna and Frisbee. Likewise Carol Brown, 72, an antiques dealer in Walpole, N.H., has money set aside for the care of her three Norwich terriers and two horses, should any outlive her. “I didn’t want to place a financial burden on their caregivers,” she said.

Some animal lovers don’t advertise the fact that money is part of the deal. One pet owner who wishes to remain anonymous reveals that upon her death, there are 10 people listed as potential trustees to take care of her male cat. What the new caregiver won’t know at first is that the estate is instructed to award the person $10,000 if the feline is still with him or her after six months. “I want someone to take him out of the kindness of their heart and be rewarded if they keep him and fall in love with him like I did,” she explains.

Others leave money to be distributed over time—monthly, annually, or as reimbursement for expenses. 

Want even more security for your pet? Name someone other than the caregiver as trustee to dole out the cash. This reduces the risk of someone taking the money, but selling or destroying your pet.

That’s Dane Madsen’s plan. After his divorce, the 50-year-old corporate strategist from Henderson, Nev., created a living trust for his three rottweilers. “Should my ex-wife be unable to care for any of my pets, two trustees have explicit instructions to use their best judgment to find homes for my pets. The dogs should be kept together, and the new caregiver will receive $150 per month, plus money for veterinary bills and other expenses,” he said. “In the event an animal falls ill, the caregiver and vet jointly decide their end-of-life management.”

More of a do-it-yourselfer? For $89, Peace of Mind Pet Trust (POMPT) will e-mail you simple forms for creating a trust according to the laws of the state in which you live. The brainchild of an Illinois lawyer, Peter Canalia, the kit includes checklists, tips for funding your trust, and paperwork to create a durable power of attorney. Pet trusts can stipulate all the details an owner finds important, from the kind of food the pet eats to its medical needs and walking schedules. The Humane Society also offers a free fact sheet on estate-planning. The sheet includes advice on both wills and trusts.

Bottom line: Just as you would if you were picking a guardian for a child, talk to potential caregivers for your pets. Find someone you trust. After all, what you really want is someone who will love your pet.

By: Laura Daily | Source: AARP.org

Pets in Estate Plans Fact Sheet in English

Pets in Estate Plans Fact Sheet in Spanish

 Every Dog’s Legal Guide 

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Animal Rights And Awareness, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments