Hello...and welcome to the 2010 edition of Questions On Dogs and Cats, your free subscription to learning about taking better care of your pets and understanding their needs. Helpful Buckeye would like to thank all of you who took the time to join us in 2009 as the blog was getting through its second year of publication. As you can see, our dog and cat are staring into the future, wondering what 2010 will have to offer. The folks at The New Yorker have decided that the best way to approach the "New Year" is:
Since this is the first weekend of the New Year and most of our readers are gradually getting back into the reality of everyday life after the holidays, Helpful Buckeye has decided to offer a light-hearted potpourri of topics for your reading pleasure. Let's all work our way through this miscellaneous grouping of ideas before getting back into the more involved areas of dog and cat health concerns next week.
The beginning of any "New Year" can't be complete without a mention of resolutions, right?
1) The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers this list of 10 resolutions that would be smart for all pet owners to adopt:
Your pet gives you a lifetime of unconditional love, loyalty, and friendship. In return, it counts on you to provide it with food, water, safe shelter, regular veterinary care, exercise, companionship, and more. Take care of these 10 essentials, and you'll be assured to develop a rewarding relationship with your canine and feline companion.
- External Identification--Outfit your pet with a collar and ID tag that includes your name, address, and telephone number. No matter how careful you are, there's a chance your companion may become lost—an ID tag greatly increases the chance that your pet will be returned home safely. The collar should not be too tight; it should fit so two fingers can slip easily under his collar. Have your pet microchipped by your veterinarian. Microchip ID will ensure that your pet will be returned to you if lost, even if its collar came off. When scanned by a veterinarian or animal shelter, your phone number, address and other vital information will show and you can be contacted.
- Follow local laws for licensing your dog and/or cat and vaccinating them for rabies. Check with your local animal shelter or humane society for information regarding legal requirements, where to obtain tags, and where to have your pet vaccinated.
- Follow this simple rule—off property, on leash--Even a dog or cat with a valid license, rabies tag, and ID tag should not be allowed to roam outside of your home or fenced yard. It is best for you, your community, and your pet to keep your pet under control at all times.
- Give your dog proper protection--A fenced yard with a doghouse is a bonus, especially for large and active dogs; however, dogs should never be left outside alone or for extended periods of time. Dogs need and crave companionship and should spend most of their time with their family, not alone outside.
- Take your pet to the veterinarian for regular check-ups--If you do not have a veterinarian, ask your local animal shelter or a pet-owning friend for a referral in choosing a veterinarian.
- Spay or neuter your dog and cat--Pets who have this routine surgery tend to live longer, be healthier, and have fewer behavior problems (e.g., biting, running away). By spaying or neutering your pet, you are also doing your part to reduce the problem of pet overpopulation.
- Give your pet a nutritionally balanced diet, including constant access to fresh water--Ask your veterinarian for advice on what and how often to feed your pet. Dietary requirements change as pets get older, and their teeth need to be cleaned and monitored regularly to ensure they can eat properly.
- Enroll your dog in a training class.--Positive training will allow you to control your companion's behavior safely and humanely, and the experience offers a terrific opportunity to enhance the bond you share with your dog.
- Give your dog enough exercise to keep him physically fit (but not exhausted)-- Most dog owners find that playing with their canine companion, along with walking him twice a day, provides sufficient exercise. Walking benefits people as much as it benefits dogs, and the time spent together will improve your dog’s sense of well-being. If you have questions about the level of exercise appropriate for your dog, consult your veterinarian.
- Be loyal to and patient with your faithful companion--Make sure the expectations you have of your pet are reasonable and remember that the vast majority of behavior problems can be solved. Remember, not all "behavior" problems are just that; many can be indicators of health problems. For example, a dog who is suddenly growling or snapping when you touch his ears may have an ear infection. If you are struggling with your pet's behavior, contact your veterinarian.
2) The American Kennel Club has also contributed their list of suggestions for New Year's resolutions:
As the end of the year approaches, the American Kennel Club (AKC) urges pet owners to remember the family pet while pondering potential New Year’s resolutions. "Eighty-one percent of dog owners buy gifts for their dogs," said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "But what you should really be giving them is consistent exercise, training and stimulation. Try to start the year off right by resolving to do more with your dog in 2010." So if your Beagle isn’t being walked briskly, your Terrier getting trained, your Rottweiler racking up ribbons in the ring and your Great Dane’s not a canine good citizen, consider these suggestions from the dog experts at the AKC:
- Young and old dogs can learn new tricks. Start your puppy off on the right foot with an AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy training class. Adult dogs (over 1 year old) can take the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. Both programs teach basic manners and socialization needed to help both dog and owner to be a responsible member of society. All dogs are eligible and they earn a special certification upon completion.
- Train your dog for competitive events. Every weekend all over the country there are dog events where you can earn ribbons, titles and trophies. Plus there’s the reward of meeting new people with a similar love for dogs and ensuring that your dog is well-behaved, even tempered, physically fit and a joy to live with.
- Get Fit with Fido. The National Academy of Sciences reports that one out of every four dogs and cats in the western world is now overweight. Daily walks are a great way for both dogs and owners to avoid gaining extra holiday pounds. According to a recent study, dog owners get more exercise walking their pet than someone with a gym membership.
- Dogs love helping others. Dogs are invaluable in providing service to humans – visiting the sick, helping the disabled, locating missing persons, and much more. If a dog has the correct temperament, there are many ways dog owners can put their special skills to use in service to their community. Contact the volunteer director at your local hospital to find out how you and your dog can qualify to volunteer or visit a home-bound neighbor.
- Help kids learn to read. There is no better listener than a dog. Many libraries have programs for children to practice their reading skills and gain confidence by reading with dogs. Contact your local library to learn about available reading programs or volunteer to start one with your dog.
- Travel with your dog. Planning vacations and getaways that include your dog will save you boarding fees and will keep Fido from getting lonely while you are having fun in the sun. More hotels are becoming dog friendly.
3) In addition to your own New Year's resolutions for your pets, your dog might have a few of his own. The AKC reflects on some resolutions your dog might be thinking about for 2010.
If Dogs Could Talk: A Dog's Top Ten New Year's Resolution List
- 10--Owner on floor, dog in bed.
- 9--Stop begging and actually get a seat at the dinner table.
- 8--Give up the dream of ever catching my tail.
- 7--Bark like a big dog but still get cuddled on lap like a little dog.
- 6--Get back at cat for litter box incident.
- 5--Find every bone I ever buried.
- 4--No more haircuts! (come fall, I can go as a Komondor for Halloween).
- 3--Become alpha dog in my house. Well, at least stop letting the cat push me around.
- 2--Invent goggles that allow me to see the electric fence.
- 1--Finally pass that darn AKC Canine Good Citizen test.
4) For those of you who might have received a gift certificate for a new puppy or kitten or are simply contemplating getting a new pet, the HSUS provides this description of your choices:
Which is Right For You: Pure or Mixed Breed?
Dogs and cats fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, generally conform to a specific "breed standard." This means that you have a good chance of knowing what general physical and behavioral characteristics a puppy or kitten of that breed is likely to have.
The size, appearance, and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you can recognize the ancestry of a particular mixed breed dog or cat, you can see how a puppy or kitten is likely to look as an adult.
Some people think that when they purchase a purebred, they're purchasing a guarantee of health and temperament, too. This is simply not true. In fact, the only thing the "papers" from purebred dog and cat registry organizations certify is that the recording registry maintains information regarding the reported lineage and identity of the animal. Mixed breeds, on the other hand, offer several advantages that prospective pet owners may fail to consider. For example, when you adopt a mixed breed, you get the benefit of two or more different breeds in one animal. You also get a pet who is less prone to genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs and cats.
Whether you're thinking about adopting a dog or cat, purebred or mixed breed, it's important to make sure your favorite type of animal fits with your lifestyle. You may love border collies, for example, but these active dogs likely aren't a good match for busy apartment dwellers living in a city. So first become knowledgeable about what kind of animal you want and about what it takes to be a responsible pet caregiver.
There are several types of organizations from which you can adopt a companion animal, whether purebred or mixed breed. Not all sources are the same, however, so it's important to learn as much as you can, and then choose carefully. Your veterinarian will be glad to discuss your options with you.
5) If your choice of new pet is a kitten, the SPCA International has this advice for you:
10 Tips for a Happy "Mew" Kitten
When a new kitten has joined your family, it's good to get things started off on the right paw, and the food and care you choose can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your growing kitten. Here are 10 starter tips for you and your "mew" companion:
- Continue feeding your kitten its "normal" diet, but slowly introduce high quality kitten food (i.e., high in protein and taurine, and low in fillers and carbs) into the mix; consult your veterinarian as to what best serves your cat. After it has adjusted, feed it the high quality food exclusively.
- Feed your kitten at least three times a day from a shallow plate. Remember, they’re tiny things and so they need easy access to their food. Snacks, especially during the growing stage, should also be included. Small amounts of high-protein foods like cooked egg yolk, boneless fish, and cooked or raw liver will be a great treat, and will help build strong bones.
- That said, it's alright to feed your kitten frequently while it is growing (under six months old), even several times a day. If your kitten prefers grazing or eats modestly, keep a small amount of dry kibble available in a dish for it throughout the day.
- Dry or wet? Many owners find a happy balance between the two. Perhaps wet food in the evening and dry in the day.
- Always have fresh water available and check it throughout the day for cleanliness. Keep in mind that water is enough, no other liquid needs to be given. In fact, cow milk can cause quite a tummy ache and should be avoided. Yes, cats like the taste of milk and will drink it if you give it to them in a bowl. But that's not saying much, seeing as they also like the taste of antifreeze. Leave cow milk to small calves -- and people.
- When you first bring your kitten home, it’s a good idea to keep your kitten in the same room with the litter box for a few days so that it may get used to it. Kittens don’t need much in the way of training. Often, just knowing where the box is is enough of an incentive to use it; cats naturally prefer to bury their waste.
- Keep a close eye on your kitten. They’re small, curious, and can get into trouble. It is all too easy for a small animal to get caught between furniture and appliances, fall into a toilet, or be stepped on. Until it learns self safety, you will be your kitten's best line of defense.
- Take your kitten for a checkup and all appropriate immunizations.
- Getting your kitten spayed or neutered makes for a healthier and happier cat, and thus a happier you. Fixed cats don’t go into heat or get pregnant and are less likely to get into fights or spray urine. Neutering is usually done around six months, but most younger kittens handle this small surgery very well, and can have it done anytime after two months, but your vet will be the best judge of this. Make the appointment in advance, based on your vet's advice.
- Play with your kitten. A piece of string, crumpled paper, or a toy from pet store -- almost anything can be a toy. Kittens (and cats) love to play. The bond you begin now, through play and unconditional love, will be unshakable for many years to come. Love your kitten and treat it well. Soon, your kitten will grow into a beautiful, faithful, and loving cat.
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
Helpful Buckeye has received many e-mails asking about the easiest way to give medicines to your dogs and cats. As with many other things in life, there really isn't an "easiest" way to do this, but rather, it would be whatever technique works best for you. Your veterinarian would be the best person to talk to about giving medicines to your pets. They can show you how to work around your pet's mouth without being too afraid. If that doesn't work for you, then you should consider Greenies Pill Pockets, for dogs: http://www.greenies.com/en_US/Products/Dogpillpockets.aspx and for cats: http://www.greenies.com/en_us/Products/FelinePillPockets.aspx
1) On a list of the strangest pet stories of 2009, Helpful Buckeye found this account of a chihuahua in Michigan that got literally blown a mile away from its owners during a storm: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30448774/ns/health-pet_health/
2) Not to be outdone (at least, on the flying angle), a 5-lb. Pomeranian in Iowa was recently picked up by a Great Horned Owl and miraculously survived a 3-mile flight, only to be dropped to the ground. The Pomeranian survived with only a broken tail and some scrapes: http://www.startribune.com/blogs/79446022.html Check out these talons of a Great Horned Owl (these would explain the scrapes, huh?): 3) Perhaps if the Pomeranian in the story just mentioned had learned to jump rope like these dogs, it wouldn't have been carried away by the owl. Enjoy 5 videos of different dogs jumping rope: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/12/29/video-dogs-jumping-rope/
4) Another nice example of agility in the canine world is this dog that started out being trained as a service dog, but then switched to riding a surf board...go to this site and click on the video: http://petsaresmart.blogspot.com/2009/12/service-surfer-dog.html 5) The lists for most popular pet names in 2009 have just been released. It seems a little strange that Lucy, Daisy, Charlie, Bella, and Molly make the Top 10 for both dogs and cats. To read the whole lists, plus the Top 10 Most Unusual Names, go to: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/12/31/most-popular-pet-names-of-2009/
6) The state of Arizona has set a record for the most animals found rabid during the 2009 year. We surpassed our previous record of 176 set in 2008 by 85. Not all of these, of course, are dogs and cats. For the rest of the story from the Arizona Republic, go to: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/01/02/20090102B1-talker0102.html
The Ohio State Buckeyes delivered a resounding defeat of Oregon in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. The coaching staff finally decided to let the guys play a more wide-open game and the results were very gratifying. Enjoy a few rousing rounds of "Across The Field" by the OSU band: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ktKvjKY0qI
Helpful Buckeye was able to add a few more miles to his biking record for the year. The final total for 2009 was 5025 miles....
Among the nice diversity of gifts Helpful Buckeye received over the holidays were a very tasty assortment of coconut treats, a beautiful hand-made pen (incorporating desert ironwood), and an interesting book, Gentlemen, Start Your Ovens (Killer Recipes For Guys)...in which I found a recipe for...Wedgie With Croutons! That one sounds provocative....
From one of my favorite singers, song-writers and book-writers, Jimmy Buffett, comes this quote that should help us all as we make our way into the New Year: “The best navigators are not always certain where they are, but they are always aware of their uncertainty.” Billy Cruiser, in Where Is Joe Merchant?, by Jimmy Buffett
For all of our pet-owning readers, this quote by "Anonymous" should give us all a good start for 2010: "Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened."
~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~