Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Monkey and Peanut

I was never one for French Bulldogs. Sure, I thought they were adorable as any person would, but my usual response was petting them, then not giving them another thought after I walked away. That is, until I began to doggysit Monkey and Peanut! Now I'm hooked!

They are absolutely charming, fun, and wildly cute. Whenever I have the pleasure of watching them, the minute I enter the door they are all love and cuddles and playfulness. What an absolute treat! Now I can't get enough of playing ball with them, rubbing their bellies as they snort and gurgle, and listening to them snore while they sleep. Their human parents have invested a lot of time and love into them and, as it always does, it shows. They know their boundaries, and they don't misbehave and they're so easy going it is unreal! This is why training your pet is just as important for them as it is for you. When pets understand boundaries, everyone is happy!

I have these two sweeties to thank for converting me to French Bulldogs. Now every time I see one of their brothers or sisters in breed all I can see is the sweet nature and hysterical antics of Monkey and Peanut, and I am undone. I mean, really... just look at those faces!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Life with Ernie

How do I describe the sweet dog I walk, named Ernie. There are as many facets to his good nature as there are whiskers on his face. No. Even more! He has the face and soul of a wise elder from some far off realm, and the heart, energy and spirit of puppies his age (he's a little over one). I may say, "He's a healer" with a grin on my face, but I mean it with all sincerity.

This little man is a rescue: plucked from the cages of a local Los Angeles shelter by his equally wonderful human mother, Lucy. His journey has been a long one, with obvious signs of pre-adoption abuse from living on the streets. The very sound of a garbage truck pulls that deep trauma out into the open and shakes his core.

When first he and I met, he had such an aversion to going beyond the walls of his new forever-home, he would lay down on the ground, belly flat, and cry. His mother and I tried our best to coax and coerce and train him to move, but getting him even around the corner was a struggle. Slowly, slowly, as he learned to trust me, we began to have lovely walks around his neighborhood.

And then came the doggy parks...

Oh, how he would run and run. The only thing he loved more than chasing balls (but rarely bringing them back) was chasing other dogs, who were chasing balls. He had a natural disposition to loving and playing with other dogs. Not a hint of aggression nor malice in sight.

But every journey has a moment. As can often happen, Ernie was learning aggressive behavior from other dogs in his immediate surroundings. One can imagine my surprise, one day at the park, when Ernie released an unfriendly growl to another dog who gingerly eyed the ball Ernie had taken to burying under one of the many benches. This was not Ernie. I had spent three days a week with him for months and months on end, and had never seen such a side to him.

The remedy was simple. Both Lucy (who was already well aware of the issue and had been taking steps to stop it) and I made sure to take him out of the growl-worthy situation immediately, and only let him play at the park when he proved he could "play nice." It did not take long for Ernie to return to his usual jovial and loving ways.

He is genuinely one of the best behaved dogs I have had the honor to walk and watch. Whether we are playing tug of war, walking, or reading viking tales when his tummy is feeling off, it's a highlight to spend time with Ernie. It is a testament not only to Ernie, but to his mother as well. The importance of a loving, invested human guardian can never be stressed enough.

With time, love, patience and training, Ernie has become far more confident in himself. Far more than that, he is the puppy equivalent of the kid who welcomes in and plays with all of the new or shy children at school.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Believe it or not, Tea for dry eyes!

We all get dry, irritated eyes. Your cats are no exception.  A great way to soothe little eyes that are dry and a little irritated, is, of all things, tea! This method also works well for humans with dry eyes too!

Here is how to use it. And remember, wash your hands before and after! For eye issues other than dry eyes, take your pet to the vet immediately.

Step One:

Take a clean, unused, tea bag (either plain black tea like PG Tips or a plain green tea).

Step Two:

Run it under warm water until the whole bag and all of the tea leaves are soaked through.

Step Three:

Squeeze most of the water out of the bag. This not only makes it less messy, but also cools the bag down. If the tea bag still feels hot to the touch, wave it in the air so as not to burn any eyes (it should feel just a little warm to the touch. NOT hot or very warm).

Step Four:

While holding your little one, gently rest the tea bag over the CLOSED dry/irritated eye for 10 seconds. Do not push down or hold any longer than 15 seconds. It should be barely touching their face. And do not put anything directly on the eye itself. Make sure their eye is closed before holding anything over it.

Step Five:

Repeat steps one through four every 2 hours for the rest of the day (if you can).

If the problem persists, then please consult your Veterinarian as it may be a more serious issue. Never ever put anything hot or very warm on your cat. Always make sure to have clean hands when working with your pets' eyes. And wash your hands afterwards! Do not put anything directly onto your pets' eyes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Keeping Your Kitty Entertained

Cats get bored easily. It's true! They are intelligent, social, little balls of furry goodness and often need distractions from the usual stretch, eat, potty, sleep, clean and purr routine of their daily lives. And believe it or not, it's actually super easy to entertain your cat companions! Here is a small list to help you get started.

1.) Lasers! It's not just for James Bond villains, science fiction or puppies. Most cats absolutely LOVE chasing those cheeky, sneaky red balls of light around. Get them spinning in circles, jumping up walls and pawing at the ground. Believe me, it is as much fun for you as it is for them! There are even battery operated laser machines made specifically for cats. They sit on your table, you angle the laser, press on and voila! It is on a timer so you needn't worry about switching it off.

2.) Feathers! You can find the feather teasers at any pet store anywhere. They're the long sticks with the feathers and bells at the end of them. These are especially great for cats with a lot of energy- track them along the floor to hone into the stalker nature of your cat or wiggle it in the air to get them to jump like mad.

3.) Crinkle balls! Some cats genuinely do not like the sound of crinkle balls, so get a small one and try it out before you try to play with them. Just rub it in between your fingers and if your cat bolts, you know it's a no go. If they stay, you'll get to watch them bat the crinkle balls around like mad for ages.

4.) Brushing! True, it doesn't sound like entertainment, but they sure do love it. Start them at an early age and every time you bring out that brush they will flop down and rub their faces all over it, like it's going out of style. It's a great bonding activity for you and your kitty, provided they sit still long enough.

5.) Fetch! If you can train your cat to play fetch (both of mine do), nothing will pass the time quite like throwing a little fuzzy ball or mousey toy around.

6.) Mouse hunt! You can find this battery operated toy at pet stores- it's a white circle with a yellow mouse that dashes around the circle with three small "caves" in which to hide. Just turn it on and watch your cats sit around it, and bat at the mouse as he runs about. There are so many other toys of this kind available that cats love. These types of toys keep their wits sharp and minds entertained.

Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Train Your Kitten: Scratching!

Training your kitten is as important as training your dog or your dragon: it makes life better for both of you when you set perimeters. You could let them run amuck and do what they will to both your furniture and your home space, but, like any relationship, boundaries are the key to a successful life together. The most important training to start with? Scratching.

Kittens and cats love to scratch. It not only feels good but helps maintain nail health for your furry companions. All day and everywhere, those little ones will scratch away with that happy grin on their faces. But how do you stop them from shredding the furniture and making a mess of your rugs or carpeting. Especially for those in rental/lease agreements, giving your cat set spaces and objects to scratch is important, but it need not be your stuff.

Firstly, set boundaries by placing double sided tape on the edges of your furniture. Cats HATE sticky surfaces, especially on the pads of their paws, and the strength of the pet-specific tape called Sticky Paws is low enough that it won't hurt them if they touch it. Regular double sided tape will! Test a small patch of this tape on your couch or other furniture item first to make sure the tape will come off entirely. When in doubt... Goo Be Gone! I've personally used this and it works wonders. My cats never scratch at my furniture and never have.

Secondly, set up special scratching areas for them. It's the same as setting up a play room for your children. Cats need their own space too. If you can find a nice cat tree or cat condo (if so inclined) or even just a corner where you can house a nice scratching post that won't be disturbed.

Thirdly, cardboard scratching pads from the pet store are your best friends. Cats go CRAZY for them, and they're both inexpensive and super simple. Buy several at a time and replace every three months to ensure maximum kitten grins.

Lastly, it's always nice to have several posts or scratching waves (when you go to the store, you'll see what I mean- it's a scratching post that lays down, in a wave shape) dappled around your house. That way if your cats are playing away from their designated area, and they're getting rambunctious (as you know they do) then they always have a surface to play with.

Introducing them to their scratching posts etc. is easy. Pick them up, places them next to it, take their paws gentle and start making a scratching movement (much as you would do when introducing the to their litter boxes for the first time). Then, after you release them from your parental hold, kneel down and start scratching at the post etc. Not a crazy amount like a crazy person. Just enough so they can see "Ah ha! This is what we do with this!"

If your cat is already scratching at your furniture, still keep on them if they seem to be eyeing up that couch of yours, even with sticky tape and scratching bits around. They'll start to blame the couch, and not you, if they do still go for it (because it will seem the couch is fighting back by being sticky), but by keeping them with a "no!" or a clap of the hands, they'll know you and the couch are in co-hoots, and you're in charge!

Hope these tips help! They've certainly worked for my little ones. They have healthy nails, and happy, lives, and my furniture thanks me every day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Me and My Rescues

You've heard the stories and seen the commercials on your television: faces of kittens or abandoned puppies behind bars, pleading for a forever home. While we all would like to believe the human race is not capable of something as cold-hearted as abandoning or abusing an animal, it is a sad fact of our world. But this story need not end with dispair: there are so many loving souls who open their doors to foster or adopt said animals and give them a new lease on life!

I am such a soul.

My two rescues are of the feline variety, though, truth be told, they are far more Viking God then cat...

Behold, Baldr Petrarch Van Clawson Tait the Magnanimous, also know as Baldr the Brave, the Beloved and the Kind, also know as Baldr.

His story always makes me well-up a tad: he was found, covered in fleas and starving to death, whilst wandering the mean streets of LA. A woman happened upon him after hearing rumors of a kitten hiding in a construction site. Unsure of what to do, she put him in her storage unit (mind you, it was August) and waited until his soon-to-be foster mother, Linda (an angel) could come and collect him.

Baldr selected me to be his human guardian when he was 9 months of age: he was shy, scared, and melancholy. He would hide under the couch, and run away when I approached him for the first few months. The sadness in his soul was painfully obvious and it seemed there was nothing I could do to make him happy. Thankfully, I'm a hopeful optimist and showered him with love and affection and kept telling him how happy I was that he and I found each other. I played laser tag with him and fetch as often as he'd let me. Slowly, slowly the chains around his heart began to fall away. Slowly he came to realize he was home.

Now, my little Baldr, is affectionate, blissful and honors me with face rubs (which often involve his wet nose rubbing against my nose whilst purring like a machine) and unwavering love. I could have easily given up, easily given him back to his foster mother, swearing we weren't suited to one another, and then dash off to get another designer kitty from a breeder, but I didn't. I knew, in my heart, that he needed me, and that I, in my way, needed him too.

Which leads us to Thordvach Falcor Taitson the Red, otherwise known as Thor... yep... that Thor...

This little fella was far more fortunate than his big brother Baldr. I'll never forget the first moment I saw him, at 3 months old, all ears and feet, resting soundly apart from his meowing brothers and sisters. Along with his siblings, Thor was left at a doorstep after their mother had been killed. His foster mother, the same wonderful Linda that rescued Baldr the Brave, agreed that Baldr was in need of a younger brother to take care of. The night Thor came home, he was all snuggles, energy and gumption; poor Baldr had no idea what had invaded his home...

Sadly, a week after Thor had settled into our cozy little home, his foster mother called and warned he may have a rather extreme case of ringworm (all of her other fosters had come down with it). It was an uphill battle, of epic in proportions. Had a poet been present, she would have sung songs of our journey fighting the dastardly virus as best as we could. Bi-weekly visits to the vet, lime/sulfur dips, a full body shave, meds meds meds, tears, quarantine, and sleepless nights later, he's healthy and as spunky as ever. His spirit never broke: he was just happy to be alive. There would have been many who gave up, especially when the vet warned we may need to amputate his wee right leg, but by golly, we did it, Baldr, Thor and I. And I wouldn't trade Thor for the world.

There is never a smooth, straight road, when it comes to any pet, and rescues especially need particular patience and care, but if you just trust that you and your rescue have found each other for a reason, and you'll find each other's rhythms soon enough, I can guarantee the love you will receive from those little sweethearts will be deeper and greater than anything else you'll experience elsewhere. All of your patience, energy, and hard work WILL pay off.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Don't Give the Dog Beer


I know it sounds weird, but many people often ask if it's okay to give the dog a cold one. The answer is simply this; no. Some dogs might even like the taste of a Bud, but it's really not a good idea. The fact of the matter is, even though beer doesn't have a high alcoholic content, it can be poisonous to your dog. Alcohol poisoning can result in your dog slipping into a coma or even death.

So what's the problem then? Dogs don't have the body mass or weight of a human, therefore it can't absorb the same amount of alcohol as you or I can. So even a few sips may get your dog very drunk and depending upon how many sips the dog has, could lead to toxicity.

Look for specific signs in your dog's behavior to tell if it has alcohol poisoning. Vomiting, dizziness, collapsing, even hypothermia are all immediate signs that there is a problem and the dog has been poisoned. All of them obvious, of course.

If the dog has been poisoned, call for help immediately. Your vet will help the dog try to rid the toxins from its system by giving the dog activated charcoal. This will help absorb the poisonous components from the body. The vet may also induce vomiting in the dog or even have the stomach pumped clean. All of these are very unpleasant things to have to go through for anybody, much less your poor dog.

So as a rule of thumb, keep all open alcoholic beverages away from your dog. Better to be safe than sorry.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Your Cat Loves You

Cats. They can be mysterious and moody, their behaviors often making us wonder what's going on in those cute little heads of theirs. The truth is, they may sometimes exhibit odd ways of showing their affection for and appreciation of us in their everyday lives.

You might notice little habits or routines that may run from the whimsical to the nonsensical. Cats are funny creatures and their particular mannerisms all too often have us scratching our heads. Well scratch no more, as some leading veterinarians attempt to shed some light on these enigmatic fluff balls and their methods of kindness and devotion. See how many of these you recognize in your cat...

This is the primary behavior of a cat, meant only for their most favorite of people. If your cat rubs its face or head against you, this is what they call "bunting". Basically, the cat is scenting you and claiming you as theirs' and theirs' alone.

Pretty self-explanatory. If your kitty flops to the floor and rolls over, exposing its belly to you; this is a sign of total and complete trust. It's up to you now to return the affection with some rubbings of that exposed belly.

How many of you woken up in the morning or come home from work to find a dead mouse, a bird or the head and tail (and only the head and tail) of a squirrel waiting for you? Yup, this is your kitty bearing gifts. It's a sign of appreciation and devotion where the cat is doing what comes naturally; hunting down prey and providing for those the cat loves. As disgusting as it may be, you must praise your kitty and thank him or her for bringing home such a wonderful bounty. Then step over it gingerly and pick it up with paper towels and gloves.

Not all cats are lap kitties, but those that are will find safety and security in the lap of a human it loves. Since cats sleep a lot, they are often particular about where they will get that napping done. If a cat chooses your lap, that's telling you the cat trusts you very much.

Any or all of these behaviors are healthy signs of a happy cat in a good, loving home. Congratulations!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fleas and Ticks? Try an Herbal Dog Collar for Relief

Herbal dog collars are a new way to fight fleas without the unpleasant odors and toxic chemicals. These herbal collars sometimes even contain ingredients that help soothe stressed pets and calm their nerves while combating the mosquitoes, ticks and fleas that transmit potentially deadly diseases. Many pet owners worry about the use of pesticides in commercial flea and tick products, because they could lead to poisoning, renal failure, liver failure, nervous system disorders and even cancer.

These types of collars are safer, yet equally effective while helping you keep costs down so your pet can live a comfortable, pest-free life. There are a wide variety of manufacturers who make reliable products for your dog or cat. Here are just some of the options available to you on the market.

Castor and Pollux 
The herbal dog collar offered by Castor and Pollux blends beads of cedar, citronella, eucalyptus, pennyroyal and rue. The oils are molded into the plastic collar and slowly release for weeks. Biting insects hate the scent of citronella and cedar, and stay far away from your pet. These herbal collars are safe for puppies and elderly dogs.

Natural Animal Cotton Collars
Natural Animal offers a cotton dog collar (fits dogs with necks up to 34 inches) that you use with herbal insect repellant. Before placing the collar on your dog, add drops of the herbal oil. The collars are inexpensive and you purchase the bottles of insect repellant oils separately, in either two or eight ounce bottles good for 12 to 48 uses.The insect repellant oil mixture blends cedar, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary and sesame oils. It's a non-toxic blend that is perfect for pets of all ages.

Sentry makes a line of herbal collars that help calm stressed pets. These collars are beneficial for high-stress pets, especially those suffering from separation anxiety. As an added benefit, the scent is extremely pleasing to humans and eliminates smelly dog odors.
The Sentry Calming Collar uses a blend of chamomile and lavender oils. Both scents are proven effective at calming pets. The oils in the collar are activated by body heat, so the scent becomes stronger when your pet does become agitated and starts moving around or pacing.

Naturally Best from Zodiac
Naturally Best offers an herbal flea collar. The main ingredients (cedar, citronella, eucalyptus and pennyroyal) deter mosquitoes for up to three months. The herbal collar is suitable for dogs with necks up to 21 inches in diameter. You can use the collar on puppies and elderly dogs.

Pet Guard 
Pet Guard's Herbal Collar is used primarily to reduce dog odors. If you have a dog with particularly strong body odor, the herbal collar helps eliminate the offensive smell. In addition, some of the all-natural ingredients offer insect-repellant qualities. Insects simply loathe the smell and stay away from your pet. With a blend of natural oils, the Pet Guard Herbal Collar smells great, with a mix of cedar, citronella, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, rue and rosemary. The collar has a strong menthol-cedar aroma that is extremely pleasing to both pet and pet owner.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Causes for Obesity in Cats and How to Prevent It

Obesity in felines may originate from many causes; genetics, lack of exercise and, of course, an inadequate diet. In order to help prevent obesity in your pet, it's important to be able to identify the key factors that can lead to this dangerous condition. Just like in humans, certain cats are prone to being overweight. This is due to the genetic information inherited from the parents. But there are other possibilites to consider that you can help prevent: 

Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions will cause obesity in your pet:
  • Hormonal imbalance, which can affect the metabolism and may lead to weight gain
  • A heart condition, which will not allow the pet to exercise and he can easily gain weight, due to inactivity
  • Arthritis, which will also make certain movements painful and the cat will refrain from moving
Older pets may also be more prone to obesity, as the cat will be less active and will sleep more. If he eats the same food, he will most likely gain weight.

Inadequate Diet
An inadequate diet can lead to weight gain. The cat may eat more than he needs and all the excess energy will turn into fat.Many owners tend to over feed their cats. The cat should have a diet that is adjusted to his size, breed and age. You should work closely with your vet to find the amount of energy your pet needs for his daily activities and administer the exact same amount. You should also make sure that the cat eats quality food that contains fewer fillers, which can contribute to obesity.

Lack of Exercise
The lack of exercise can contribute to weight gain. A sedentary cat is very likely to become obese. This is due to the fact that he consumes more food than he needs and all the remaining energy will be deposited. A cat can easily become obese if he fails to exercise. The amount of exercise required by a cat will depend on his breed and age, but he will need to play or consume his extra energy each day. On average, cats need around 15 to 30 minutes of exercise per day. Exercise may not be recommended if the pet has arthritis or a heart condition. In this case, the diet has to be adjusted so that the pet eats only as much as he needs.

Dangers of Obesity
Obesity can present certain health dangers and can be linked to these health problems:
  • Heart problems, as the heart has to work extra to pump blood to the fat tissues as well
  • Early onset of arthritis
  • Diabetes, which can occur if the cat can no longer assimilate the blood sugar properly
Obese cats have a lower life expectancy so be sure to consult your vet if you suspect your pet may be overweight.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Natural Balance pet foods

Del Monte Foods and Natural Balance Pet Foods have signed a merger agreement. Natural Balance Pet Foods, makers of super-premium pet food for dogs and cats sold throughout North America and also in Europe and Asia, will join Del Monte’s robust pet products portfolio. PRESS RELEASE Del Monte Foods and Natural Balance Pet Foods®, Inc. announced today that the companies have signed a merger agreement. Natural Balance Pet Foods®, makers of super-premium pet food for dogs and cats sold throughout North America and also in Europe and Asia, will join Del Monte’s robust pet products portfolio. “Natural Balance was created nearly 25 years ago to give pet parents the best super-premium pet food on the market,” said Joey Herrick, president and founder, Natural Balance Pet Foods®, Inc. “After careful consideration, we believe we’ve found the perfect partner to help the business grow for the next 25 years. Not only does Del Monte care about pets as much as we do, they have a complementary culture and set of values, their respected brands are found in eight out of ten U.S. households and they have been a trusted name for healthy, quality consumer food for more than 100 years. Natural Balance looks forward to working hand-in-hand with Del Monte to leverage their strong distribution, supply chain and innovation resources that will help the brand achieve its next level of growth.” “Natural Balance will continue to offer pet parents super-premium, high quality formulas that they have come to know and expect, and we look forward to continuing to nurture our valued relationships with our customers and other partners,” continued Herrick. “Del Monte Foods is proud to welcome Natural Balance® into the Del Monte family of brands,” said Dave West, CEO, Del Monte Foods. “Natural Balance is well-positioned in the super-premium pet specialty channel and Del Monte looks forward to supporting and further strengthening that position, while honoring the brand’s esteemed culture and history.” Continued West, “This merger is consistent with our long-term strategy for Del Monte to further strengthen our pet food and snacks brand portfolio and accelerate growth by expanding in the pet specialty channel. This offers us exciting prospects for continued growth, particularly in terms of strengthening our reach to independent pet retailers.” The merger includes the equity interest held by private equity firm VMG Partners. “We are very proud to have worked side by side with Joey and the Natural Balance team in building one of the strongest brands in the pet specialty channel. We are excited about passing the baton to Del Monte Foods, who we believe will continue to grow and strengthen the Natural Balance brand,” said David Baram, VMG Managing Director. Natural Balance Pet Foods®, Inc. was founded in 1989 by Dick Van Patten and Joey Herrick. Today, the brand includes both dog and cat formulas and spans wet food, dry food and treats. Natural Balance is headquartered in Pacoima, CA. The purchase price and financial terms are not disclosed. The merger includes all Natural Balance® brands, products and other trademarks. The companies anticipate the merger will close in mid-June, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances. About Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods® Natural Balance® Pet Foods, created in 1989 by Dick Van Patten and Joey Herrick, is a leading premium pet food brand, offering more than 225 dog and cat products. Natural Balance products include Original Ultra® Ultra Premium Pet Foods, L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets® Formulas, ALPHA® Grain-Free Formulas, Delectable Delights™ Stews for dogs and cats and many more. About Del Monte Foods Del Monte Foods is one of the country’s largest producers, distributors and marketers of premium quality, branded pet products and food products for the U.S. retail market, generating approximately $3.7 billion in net sales in fiscal 2012. With a powerful portfolio of brands, Del Monte products are found in eight out of ten U.S. households. Pet food and pet snacks brands include Meow Mix®, Kibbles ‘n Bits®, Milk-Bone®, 9Lives®, Pup-Peroni®, Gravy Train®, Nature’s Recipe®, Canine Carry Outs®, Milo’s Kitchen® and other brand names. Food product brands include Del Monte®, Contadina®, S&W®, College Inn® and other brand names. The Company also produces and distributes private label pet products and food products. CONTACTS: Chrissy Trampedach, Del Monte Foods, (415) 247-3420, Joanna DiNizio, Coyne PR for Del Monte Foods, (973) 588-2000, Rob Bailey, RBCPR for Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc., 201-760-0200 ext. 101,

Friday, May 17, 2013

Some Things to Think About When Choosing Pet Insurance

It's similar in many ways to human health insurance, but you're buying it to keep your pet healthy and your vet bills low. There are a wealth of companies that offer this type of protection for you and your furry friend. The first thing you want to do is your homework. Research the competitive prices and policy features of each before deciding on which one to invest in. You'll find highly-credited organizations such as the ASPCA, and the AKC; and corporations you're familiar with, such as Purina, who sell pet insurance policies.

But be warned; not all insurers offer the same types of policies. Some cover accidents but not illness; others may offer coverage at higher deductibles than the competition. So it's important to compare. There are websites online that you can seek out to help you with this. Don't only consider price either; as cheaper policies don't necessarily cover all eventualities or hazards to your pet's health.

The good thing about all of these insurers is that, unlike human health insurance, any licensed vet is covered. No need to worry about your veterinarian being included in the insurer's plan or any other such nonsense.
However, you will need to pay "out of pocket" for any medical bills and wait to be reimbursed by your chosen insurer. So be prepared to incur some expense before getting made whole once again.

Another to keep in mind with pet insurance is that pre-existing conditions are not covered. There's no way around this as pretty much any insurer will refuse coverage if your pet has a serious illness or medical condition. It sucks, but there's nothing you can do about this. But in the long run, pet insurance is really a good idea because healthy pets will only need preventative care and routine check-ups every so often and while they may not seem all that expensive in the beginning, over time they can add up. Obviously, if your pet contracts a serious disease or a degenerative condition that requires repeated vet visits; those costs are de-frayed by your insurance company and you will save money.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dealing with Ringworm in Your Pet

It can be difficult and uncomfortable to both dogs and cats, and it's even contagious to humans as well. You've heard of it, you may have even seen it on TV, it's ringworm. This infection can be transmitted through skin, hair, even your pet's living environment, if the spores haven't been fully eliminated.

The trouble with ringworm is that it's not always noticeable from the get-go, in fact it is sometimes mistaken for other types of skin conditions. So even if you think your pet has been affected bring it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Here are some ways to distinguish whether your pet has such an infection.

The symptoms you want to look for don't always indicate ringworm specifically, but these are the most commonly associated with this affliction:

  • Circular areas of hair loss on the head, feet, legs or tail. This is your best bet that what you're dealing with ringworm as this symptom is exclusive to this type of infection. Look for small blisters near or around these areas as well. 
  • Scaly and inflamed skin. 
  • Dandruff
  • Acne that is mostly on the chin.
Diagnosing the problem is best left to your vet. He or she will try to determine if your pet has ringworm through a number of tests, but they'll likely check out your pet's skin under a Wood's Lamp first. This is a form of blacklight that can identify the ringworn fungi as they will appear fluorescent almost immediately. It's not a fail-safe, fool-proof way of finding ringworm, as healthy animals will also have fluorescent types of fungi on their coat which do not always lead to ringworm fungi. But this is a good start that vets will be able to identify the problem.

If your pet does have ringworm, there are a number of ways to treat it. Topical treatments such as Lotrimin and miconazole cream, along with antifungal shampoos, dips in lime sulfur and other antibiotics are all effective for slight to moderate infections. Oral treatments may be necessary, such as Griseofulvin or itraconazole, and can be used with ringworm vaccines. These will require blood tests to be taken during their use.

One thing to keep in mind: ALWAYS use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly and repeatedly when handling and treating a pet that has ringworm; so as not to spread the infection due to its high contagion factor.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In Case Your Dog Eats Your Money...

You read that right. Dogs have been known for eating all kinds of things. From homework to errant french fries left on the sidewalk, even the contents of a cat box; we may never know what drives some dogs to dive towards the strangest of objects. But what if your dog eats your money? Well such a thing happened to Montana resident Wayne Klinkel and his wife last Christmas. Wayne packed up the old family truckster for a holiday road trip when his golden retriever, Sundance got his curious nose into Wayne's traveling cash.

$500 dollars to be exact. Good ol' Sundance chewed up the currency and swallowed it down in what most people would agree is the most expensive doggie meal ever. Lucky for Wayne, paper doesn't digest and so he and his wife spent their vacation doing what any responsible dog owner would do. Picked up their pet's droppings. Very carefully I may add, as they delicately extracted the pieces of their battered Benjamins from Sundance's poop. Wayne was able to recover most of the feast upon funds and sent the masticated money to the Treasury Department, along with a delicate letter explaining what had happened.

So keep this lesson in mind the next time your pooch decides to gobble your greenbacks. Your money isn't lost, it just needs to be replaced. That is if you really want to go through the retrieval process first. That's entirely your call and probably dependent upon how much was eaten.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Morris and Oliver

These two orange kitties are a study in opposites. They look almost exactly the same, though if you know which is which, they have distinctly different faces. Their temperaments are also drastically dissimilar. But watching them together can be some of the most rewarding time spent with two wonderful pets.

Morris is the alpha kitty. He is very distrustful of almost everyone and everything, except of course for his Mom, Sarah. He's not one to be trifled with. His mannerisms, at first, are quizzical. Like most kitties, he will sniff you before permission is granted to touch or pet him. But he won't just sniff your hand if you put it in front of you. He will climb up higher, to meet you eye to eye, and sniff your face. Your hair. He wants to make very sure you're worthy of his time and affection. And guess aren't.

Oliver on the other hand, is the most welcoming kitty you'll ever meet. He will greet you at the door, rub up against your leg and be all too happy to let you pet him. He's the easy-going one. A little more laid back than his best buddy, Morris. He also loves to play, whether it be with a laser pointer or a feather on a stick, Oliver wants to have at it! Morris however, isn't much for toys.

But when it comes time to get their treats, the boys can agree on one thing. They want a lot of them and they want them now! Placing some dried chicken on plates and setting them down in front of the boys, they will put their differences aside and nibble their noms side by side. Oliver won't always finish his, which means more for Morris, of course!

Playtime will usually involve Oliver chasing around the house trying to catch that little red glowing dot, or jumping backflips trying to grab that bird-like feather bouncing through the air. Morris will sometimes watch from the top of the stairs, wondering why his friend is stooping so low as to play the human's little games. It's times like these, I come to realize that when the cat uprising does finally occur and we are slaves to their fuzzy legion; Morris will be a five-star General in the feline army. Oliver, not quite. He's having way too much fun with his jingle ball.

I never said you could take my picture. Beat it!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Some Tips for Choosing the Right Pet

So you've decided to get a pet. Congratulations! That is a terrific idea. It's always a wonderful thing to open your home to animals. But the only question now is what kind? The answer might take some careful consideration. Just think of our name: paws, claws, wings, and things. We handle all of them, but which of these is the right one for you?

When it's time to finally choose a pet, think about your lifestyle. Are you single? Are you busy? Are you a family with children? How old are your children? Do you have time to commit to training your pet? These are just a handful of factors you'll want to contemplate before you bring a pet into your home. All too often, these decisions are made with emotion instead of careful thought, especially when the kids are involved. Parents must keep in mind that if they're getting their child a pet, it will essentially be their pet as well and may need to pick up the slack with regard to maintenance of the animal. So choose wisely. 

These are some simple guidelines you may want to follow when it comes to a variety of pet choices: 

There's a reason they're such popular family pets. They're loyal protectors, enthusiastic playmates, and a little bit of everything in between. But they can also be a lot of work. If you've decided to get a dog, seek one out at a local shelter. There are plenty of them looking for homes. Puppies are fun, but they can be quite a handful, so consider adopting an older dog. They will integrate with your family just as readily as a puppy will. Homes with children may want to consider their temperament when deciding on the type of dog and big dogs may not be a great idea with small children. Busy households without children may also want to consider going with an older animal as opposed to a puppy that is full of vim and vigor and will need more attention or else the house may suffer the consequences. 

Independent, intelligent, and aloof, cats are kind of their own beings. They don't require a lot of attention (some may even prefer you to be gone for most of the day), and are probably better suited for busy families and/or singles. Sure they have their own maintenance concerns; you'll want to make sure the cat box is always fresh and they can shed a lot, sometimes more than dogs. Of course, they have claws; which poses two possible problems. The furniture could bear the brunt of a cat's organic habits, so you'll want to make sure they have a scratching post or something similar. Also, families with small children will need to watch out for tiny fingers pulling tails or ears and getting scratched as a result. Then, there are some people like to let their cat outdoors to follow their natural instincts of hunting while others prefer to keep their cat indoors. The choice is yours, but the outdoors pose many more dangers than the confines of your own home. 

They may not be as well-suited for children as other pets, but they can still co-habitate with them successfully if done under proper supervision. Budgies, parakeets and the like are probably best for younger family members to care for and play with. But parrots and other larger exotic birds are likely going to be happier with adult caretakers. Birds have specific dietary requirements and need proper handling for them to live a long life. They can also be erratic, mercurial and downright mean, much like people of course, but most humans won't snap your finger off in their beak on a whim. 

Another pet that brings two possible scenarios with it. There are some people who spend thousands of dollars on keeping exotic fish. They build complex aquariums that can be temperature controlled via remote and have special filters that keep the water (either fresh or salt) clean at all times. The fish are expensive and have specific feeding instructions. Some of them can also take a finger with them if you're not careful. Then there are goldfish and the like. Many parents start their children on a lifetime of pet ownership with a small fish that they can feed and watch swim around in a bowl, filled with colorful gravel and plastic ornaments. Cleaning those bowls can be a fun activity for the family and feeding time is always special for children to feel like they are taking care of another living thing. These fish don't live long lives, and so it can also be a lesson about death and loss to prepare children for these inevitabilities of life. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dog Leg Injuries and How to Handle Them Properly

Dogs are all too prone to a variety of leg injuries such as sprains, fractures, dislocations and ligament strains. These injuries can be difficult, depending upon their severity, and owners may not quite know how to handle such an emergency. In order to avoid extended or un-necessary discomfort and to ensure a quick and successful recovery; proper healing, rehabilitation and prevention of post-injury complications can help your pet make a quick recovery. Here are some steps to take to help your dog, and yourself, get through this challenging and frightening time. 

Step 1: Try to Ascertain How the Dog's Leg was Injured
Dogs can suffer a wide variety of leg injuries, especially fractured or broken bones. Depending on the severity of the injury, simple casts or splints can be applied to help mend the bone while other more serious injuries may require surgery. The veterinarian can determine which course of action is needed by first taking an X-ray of the wounded leg. The damage can be assessed and a healing regimen can be prescribed to repair the broken or fractured bones in the leg.

Step 2: Decide on a Technique for Healing
In those fortunate cases where an injury would heal through application of a splint or a cast, the dog will wear the device for the period of time in which the veterinarian feels rendering the leg immobile will promote complete healing. However, non-surgical repairs are not an exact science and there remain the possibilities that the leg may never fully heal to the condition it was in before the injury. In some more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to restore your dog's leg.

Step 3: Always Follow Instructions from Your Veterinarian
If your dog must wear a splint or a cast, try to keep him off his injured leg as much as possible until healing is complete. Post-surgery requires more complicated care. In instances where surgery is the only option to repair the injury, the veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics to ward off any post-operative infections and a proper recovery period avoiding strenuous exercise or energetic activities in order to give the leg time to properly heal. After surgery, there are important duties to perform to avoid any post-op complications; wrapping and unwrapping the surgical bandages to check whether the surgical incision is coming open, monitoring the leg for any odors or swelling near the toes or any other part of the leg, proper cleaning of the surgical incision as well as monitoring of any scabbing, and of course, changing the bandages routinely to avoid infection.

Step 4: Start to Rehabilitate Your Dog
As time passes, rehabilitation can begin. This will usually consist of a graduated scale of exercise, increasing in length of time and low-to-high impact until eventually the dog is using his leg without discomfort just as it was before the injury. These exercises begin with the basics; slow leash walking in small increments of time. Once the dog feels the leg getting stronger, it can increase the weight on the leg, whether in an active outdoor environment or doing something as simple as getting off the floor of the living room. Soon, the training regimen can become more strenuous until eventually the dog returns to normal movement.
Follow-up visits to the veterinarian are also important to monitor the dog's progress and catch any symptoms of complication before they become bigger problems that could entail more pain and discomfort for your pet. The veterinarian will spot these obstacles to recovery a lot quicker than the pet owner, and in the event of any aggravations to the leg or changes in the animal's behavior, it is best to alert a professional immediately.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Lemon Law...for Pets?

In just about every state across the country, if someone purchases a new car that needs repeated mechanical work; consumers are protected by so-called "lemon laws" that provide remedies for defective automobiles. These laws also apply to various other types of products, and now the Illinois State Senate has enacted similar legislation to cover the purchase of cats and dogs as well.

But that's in Illinois. So what about here on the West Coast? Turns out we too have the same protections in place in California. Put into law last year, the Pet Breeder Warranty Act provides owners with options in the event that the pet they have purchased becomes sick due to an illness or disease that reveals itself within 15 days of transacting the deal. Luckily, the warranty also covers pets in the first year of sale if any issues arise due to congenital or hereditary conditions.

If your pet does become ill and needs serious or prolonged medical attention, you have a few options...

You can keep the pet. The law allows for you to get your money back from the seller as well as an additional 50% of the purchase price to cover any vet costs.

You can return your pet as if it were a piece of merchandise, in exchange for a complete refund or a different animal of equivalent cost. You are also entitled to reimbursement of medical expenses.

In the unfortunate event your pet dies, you can get a full refund or another animal of equal value. You are also entitled to a full 100% reimbursement of all veterinary costs equal to the price you paid for the animal.

The law does not apply to rescue groups or private shelters, but animal rights advocates applaud this law because pets bought from pet stores or other retail outlets often come from puppy mills and other breeding sources that do not meet adequate standards of operation.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vitamins for Dogs with Joint Issues

While many veterinarians feel that healthy eating supplies the nutrient requirements needed in most dogs, vitamins can be a vital part of your pet’s diet. Though if your dog has joint problems, vitamins can be very useful to keeping your pet at peak performance. But beware, over-supplementing is possible in dogs, so be careful when choosing the right vitamin for the benefits most necessary.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are the most common supplements used for treating joint problems and can found either by themselves or as part of a multi-vitamin. These are probably the most popular supplements because they occur naturally in healthy joint fluid and cartilage. Research has shown that giving these supplements to your dog can not only ease joint pain but replenish the nutrients in joint fluid and cartilage that has been worn away from any number of factors.

Cosequin, combines the helpful rejuvenating powers of glucosamine and chondroitin and adds them to manganese to relieve joint pain in dogs. Manganese is an anti-inflammatory and is found in many foods such as nuts, seeds, and vegetables. The vitamin is available in many forms, but perhaps the two easiest forms of it to administer to your pet are through a powder that can be dusted over food and flavored chewables.

Nupro Joint Support
Nupro Joint Support is a combination of glucosamine with MSM and special ingredient ester-C. MSM is another anti-inflammatory much like manganese, and is sometimes used in humans to ease osteoarthritis. Ester-C is added because it’s a form of vitamin C, which some researchers claim helps it enter the body’s cells faster.

Cetyl-M is combined mix of cetyl myristoleate and glucosamine and is probably the most expensive option on our list. The purpose of this supplement is two-fold; first, it acts as an anti-inflammatory while helping boost the immune system to maintain the health of the cartilage in the body and second, it helps to rebuild existing cartilage by cutting down on friction so as to help get back as much flexibility in the joint as possible. This supplement is probably best effective in dogs with signs of severe hip dysplasia, or for pets that have just had joint surgery; Cetyl-M is a means to help speed up their recovery.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cats and Heart Murmurs

Cat heart murmurs are sometimes nothing more than an incidental occurrence with no medical significance. They’re the result of uneven blood flow through the heart and are signaled by a specific sound that veterinarians listen for in the rhythm of the cat's heart. Tests such as ultrasound are used to diagnose a murmur, but any irregularities in a cat’s heart are often an indication of this type of unique condition. The severity and the type of murmur will vary based upon a variety of symptoms.

There are two types of murmurs which are the most common; a physiological murmur as the result of an illness in the cat through anemia or fever, and a pathological murmur found among the irregularities in the valves or chambers of the heart. Doctors grade the severity of murmurs on a six point scale, with one being mildest and six being very severe. These grades don’t speak to the cat's health, but are merely a system for analyzing how the murmur sounds. A grade six murmur does not mean the cat’s life is being threatened, nor does a grade one mean that the cat is entirely healthy.

The most visible signs of a possible heart murmur in your cat are shown through the way they’re behaving. Look for signs in your cat that lead to lethargy or a general weakness in its mannerisms. A change in the color of the mouth or skin is also an early hint of a murmur and a trip to the veterinarian may be in order.

Though they may seem extreme, heart murmurs do not usually need treatment. But keep an eye on your cat’s behavior and bring your pet in for examinations every three to six months to watch for any medical signs or other indicators that the murmur is worsening. If the cat doesn’t show any discomfort, then it's likely the murmur is nothing more than a harmless noise that will go away eventually.

Like any medical condition, it is very important to report any changes in your cat's behavior so a veterinarian can run vital tests to assess if your cat has a murmur. Early detection is your best weapon against heart disease in your cat and staying vigilant will keep your furry friend healthy and happy for a long life to come.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Children and the Death of a Pet

The loss of a pet can be a devastating experience for everyone in the family. But for young children, it can be especially painful and difficult to understand and process, because they are still unfamiliar with the concept of death. All they know is that the beloved pet who was their best friend is no longer around and they're going to look to you for answers as to why. To them, death is a sudden upheaval in their lives and sooner or later this simple fact of life is going to need to be explained. There are a few things to consider when this challenging situation finally arises.

First; because they are going to have questions, be prepared to answer them. Listen carefully and respond matter of factly, but delicately. But be sure to keep the answers concise and to the point. Your child is already trying to process this shocking incident in their head, try to give them information that is easily understood and digested. The answers will likely lead to more questions, so patience is paramount. Work with your child until they're able to grasp what's happened and let them take as much as time as they need.

Second, you want to tell them the truth. Our first instinct is to try to shield children, especially young ones, from the blatant facts of difficult situations such as this, but it's best to refrain from trying to protect them. Telling your child their pet has "gone away" or "lives someplace else" can be confusing instead of informative. It's best to explain that their pet has died and they are no longer here. Be ready to repeat yourself to them as they will have many questions about death and its permanence.

Finally, help your child remember and honor their pet's memory. Have them talk about their deceased pet, look at photos of times they spent with their pet and have them draw pictures or write down their favorite memories. It will help them to understand that death is permanent but it doesn't need to keep them from moving forward with life. They may say that they will never forget their deceased pet and you can encourage them to keep that positive approach. And after some time, maybe it will be appropriate to consider getting another animal in the home. Not to replace the pet they lost, but to meet and love a new best friend.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Maybe We Need Ruti On Our Team!

We like to think we have a pretty top-notch family here at PCW&T. All of our handlers love animals and try each and every day to better understand them. It's true that no human could ever fully comprehend what exactly goes on in the colorful and, undoubtedly, surreal minds of the dogs and cats we care for from week to week. But we do try, offering a kind and loving approach to working with all of our clients. Some may have special needs, others may have some gaps in their training, and still others just love to be outside and can get quite excitable. Whatever the situation, we're ready to take a cautious and considerate lead.

Jo has handpicked each member of the team because of their devotion to the animals in their care. But she's always on the look out for that perfect employee. The type who really knows how an animal thinks, really takes each visit from a low to the ground approach, someone who thinks two legs aren't enough...and, of course, it doesn't hurt that she can pay them in cans of Fancy Feast.

Well we may have found her dream team member. This kitty, named Ruti, made national headlines recently by doing something we do every day without much fanfare -- she walked the family dog. It's no secret that most cats consider themselves above many of their owners...and obviously above dogs in the hierarchy of the home. Any cat lover (and Garfield) knows that. But this kitty has gone one step further and proved just who holds the leash in this household.

The dog, well, he seems a bit confused by the whole thing. Like something here just ain't right, but like a good boy, he comes when he's called. You can hear Ruti meow at him when he stops to wonder if this is really a good thing or not.

We at PCW&T are quite impressed. 

From this group of dog walkers to another: well done, Ruti. Well done.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Oliver and Hutch...A Tale of Two Frenchies

Two of the most memorable characters that we spend time with each week are Oliver and Hutch, two french bulldogs who live with their owner, Annie. They couldn't be more different in personality, temperament and attitude. You might think that two dogs who were such distinct opposites of one another may not get along, but these two are simply the best of friends. 

But that doesn't mean they always get along. In fact, there are some days where they have two entirely different agendas and that can be tough when there's only one walker with two arms! 

Hutch is the adventurer, the one whose snout is waiting eagerly by the window when it's time for a walk. He loves being outdoors and wants to walk around the entire neighborhood enjoying some fun outside time. But he can also be the more aggressive of the two, sometimes barking at other dogs who he encounters along the way. Some days he's just cranky and he wants everyone around him to know that he's not in the mood. Yet who among us hasn't acted the same exact way on a Monday morning? 

Oliver is the more mellow of the two. Some days he just doesn't feel like going out. Could be because his allergies are acting up, or because he doesn't feel like it. But on the days he's excited to go out, he likes to set the pace...slow and curious. Oliver is a sniffer. He likes to check out everything single little flower, shrub, curb and tree. He is in no rush to go anyplace and usually Hutch is pulling against his leash, raring to go and often looking back at his buddy; imploring him to pick up the pace. 

Once Oliver does his business, he usually likes to make a bee-line back to home while Hutch would stay out all day long if he could. So these two are often moving in opposite directions, eager to get to the place they want to be. 

Luckily these two also know how to compromise...and so Oliver will traipse along with his buddy Hutch until they get to the end of the block and that's when Oliver gets to sniff a tree while Hutch waits patiently. It's all about give and take with these guys, and they've got it down pretty well...on most days. 

But the best part is when they get home and drink from their water bowls together, side by side. There they can finally agree on something, they're both thirsty from their walk. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

About Your Dog's Shedding...

So no matter where your furry friend goes, the car, the couch, the outside stairwell, your lap; the pooch leaves a little bit of themselves behind. Every devoted animal lover knows that a little bit of hair around the house is pretty much unavoidable. But there are ways to keep it under control, even if it can be an almost constant problem.

The lint roller is your greatest ally. That wonderful invention of detachable tape sheets that apprehend every last strand and follicle...or so you think. There's always one or two stubborn ones that seem to avoid the sticky surface as you run it along the couch, the bedspread, your cute little black dress that somehow ended up on the floor. Despite those few missed hairs, the lint roller does the trick pretty well. But did you know, there are other ways to help curb the excessive hair loss of your pet? 

First of all, what are we talking about when we're dealing with shedding? It's the routine loss of hair that sheds the old follices to make room for new ones that are coming in. This is a perfectly natural thing for most every dog to go through; however there are some factors that could come into play if your pet is shedding more than usual or if you notice a fairly excessive amount of hair loss. Skin related issues such as infections, allergies or flea infestations are a common cause of overly aggressive shedding. Other things like stress and hormonal changes are also possible reasons to consider. 

Keeping these in mind, there are a few ways you can help lessen your dog's shedding. Routine brushing is probably your best bet. It will ramp up oil production of the coat and eliminate the dead hairs that are getting ready to fall to the ground or the bed anyway. So capturing them before that happens puts you ahead of the game. Plus, the chances are very good that your dog will L-O-V-E it. So it's really a win-win, as you don't have to worry about running the roller across the carpet and your pup will have a soft and shiny coat. 

There are grooming products you can buy that are specifically suited for your dog's skin and when purchasing something like this, be it a shampoo or a brush, always keep in mind which ones work best for different types of dogs. Dogs with long fur or short hair, big or small, all have their own unique ways of shedding and amounts over time. This is connected to how their skin reacts to a list of stimuli and irritants. Ask your vet or pet care professional for some advice on which products will be the most beneficial to keeping your pet's skin smooth and soft and their coat healthy. 

Of course, a healthy pet usually means a healthy coat. Diet plays an important part in maintaining your dog's coat and feeding your pet a highly nutritious diet will help to keep the shedding under control . Elements in your pet food such as Omega 3's, vitamins and nutrients, fatty acids and pure meats are all beneficial to your dog's nutritional regimen. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Winston. He Likes to Take it Slow.

Dogs like to walk. Show me a dog that doesn't like to take a walk and I'll show you a cat. Of course, not all the dogs are the same, and while most like to walk...some of them want to have it their way. They'll walk, but only if they get to plan the route and/or dictate the pace. It's not an issue of attitude or difficult temperament, they're just set in their ways. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

Consider Winston. He's a bulldog.

The first thing you'll notice in this that he's not walking. In fact, he's lying down with a big ol' grin on his face. Happy dog is happy in the sun. Winston is not much of a walker...and when he does walk, well sir, he likes to take it slow. Some dogs will run and scurry or yank against their leash trying to pull away like they're late for a very important date. But not good ol' Winston here. This guy savors his time outdoors. You may wonder why he doesn't step lively like other dogs, sprinting their way through their appointed session. We've asked ourselves the same question. Winston likes to slowly amble up the sidewalk, stopping to sniff around periodically, or stand in a perfectly good patch of dirt. Maybe lying down on the asphalt in a particularly warm sunbeam. He does this every time we take him out for his walk. Some days he'll even play a little tug of war with the leash, refusing to move faster than a snail's pace even as the traffic light up ahead is changing. 

And then it dawned on us...maybe this dog's got it all figured out. He's not in a rush to get anywhere because what good does it do? As the old adage goes...or maybe it was Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." 

This dog doesn't want to miss a thing. So he stops and looks and sniffs and looks some more...and lies down and reflects on life, on philiosophical matters, on the very nature of the canine mythos. He's smart like that.

It would seem we can all learn something from Winston. Take it slow. Enjoy life. Lie down on the sidewalk and enjoy the beautiful L.A. weather. There will be time enough to walk later. 

Time enough, indeed... 

Canine Papilloma Virus. A Contagious Menace.

They look awful, but luckily they're often benign and treatable. Warts or tumors on the surface of the skin that are caused by the canine oral papillovirus. These are not the same type of warts or lesions that humans can contract, they are found primarily in canines who have been infected with the virus.

The lesions are often circular shaped, with a rough texture and can appear dark or even black in color. They're most commonly found inside the lips, mouth or tongue; but may also sometimes be found near the genitals, eyelids and even toes. Most dogs around the age of two or younger are most susceptible to getting CPV and displaying the proper symptoms. Despite their sometimes horrendous appearance, the warts are often benign and don't pose a deeper, more dangerous risk to the health of your pet.

You may be wondering how your pet got these ugly things. First off, they're spread through contagion; so if your dog had prolonged interaction with another dog that carries CPV, chances are that's the culprit. They may also pick it up from exposure in an environment where other dogs with CPV have spent some time, such as a dog park or grooming parlor.

Luckily, these papillomas often go away on their own. But some veterinarians may choose to biopsy some lesions on your dog in extreme cases. If there are an inordinate amount of warts, especially around the mouth, and eating or other basic functions are hindered; your vet may choose to remove them surgically or frozen off cryogenically. Follow-up visits will be required to monitor any existing lesions to make sure they don't turn malignant or get infected. Antibiotics may be necessary if any of the lesions show signs of bacteria.

So don't worry, while these things are horrible to look at and not too comfortable for your pooch to put up with...they are can be treated or removed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring has Sprung...and that means it's Baby Season.

With the warmer weather comes new additions to families everywhere in nature. Our friends at the California Wildlife Center wanted to remind everyone that with this season of newborns, it's up to all of us to ensure that they survive these crucial growing periods and live long healthy lives.

Here are a few ways to watch out for our wild animal friends:

1. Be on the lookout for nests.
When trimming trees or shrubs, be careful to check for any bird or squirrel nests. If you do find one, try to hold off on doing your yard work untul the babies leave. However, this isn't always possible to do, so if you must proceed, gently relocate the nest to an area nearby. That way Mom and Dad can find their little loved ones again, your yard chores are finished...and everybody wins!

2. Babies can be put back into their nests.
One of the biggest misconceptions about wildlife is the idea that if a baby bird or squirrel comes into contact with a human, the Mom and Dad will reject the little tyke. This is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. If you do come across a baby that has fallen from its nesting place; by all means, pick it up and place it back into the nest as soon as possible. You will not doom the poor little thing to abandonment by its family. You will, in fact, save its life.

3. Fledging vs. Falling
So let's say you do find a small baby bird on the ground, under a tree or shrub someplace. Be cautious and investigate its condition. You may have discovered a baby bird in its FLEDGE period. This is the one to three week span during which baby birds learn how to fly. During this time, its perfectly normal for baby birds to live on the ground instead of in the nest. If you think you may have found a fledging baby, just leave it be. Give a look around to see if Mom and Dad are in the vicinity. Chances are its a healthy little bird and it's doing just fine. You can always check to see how its doing if you're not sure by just a visual examination. If you can touch the bird and it feels warm, it's probably okay. If you can manage to gently open its mouth and see that its pink and shiny inside, the little one is healthy.

4. Sick or Injured Animals
If you happen across a sick or injured baby bird, squirrel, opossum, or bunny; the most important thing to do is keep it in a warm, dark and quiet place. If the animal is cold to the touch, has dull eyes or a white and dry mouth, the animal is definitely in need of some attention. Contact the California Wildlife Center as soon as possible and let them know about your find. You can reach them at 818.591.9453 or at Do not feed the animal and most importantly, with bunnies...quiet is paramount. Even the sound of someone's voice at normal speaking volume can be enough to panic a bunny to the point of no return.

5. A few other tips
Keep cats indoors. Baby animals are just too easy for them to prey upon and most kitties will pounce without even intending to do harm. Also put decals or curtains on paneless windows, so baby birds will know not to collide with the glass.

Spring is in the air. Let's make sure everyone can enjoy this wonderful time of the year safe and happy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finally. Online One-Stop Shopping the Easy Way, with DugDug!

Let's say you're shopping online for your pet's medication or that special food your furry friend loves. But there are so many websites to choose from. So you start to comparison shop for the best price, hitting one site after the next. If you're searching for the best deal on pet meds, you know you'll need to find the right dosage that corresponds to your pet's weight and particular malady. But many of the sites you're looking up aren't giving you very helpful results. The prices are tough to compare because your search results aren't specific enough for the product you need.

That's where DugDug comes in. The idea came to founder David Keh when he was trying to buy some simple medications for his pet poodle. Problem was, none of the sites could quote him an accurate price for the size of his dog and the dosage he needed. Everything he found was useless. So he came up with a way to buy medications, food, even dog toys to make it super easy for the consumer.

Here's basically how it works: let's say you're looking to buy Frontline Flea and Tick control and want the spot on treatment version. Just click the Flea and Tick section, then the Spot On Treatments tab and you'll find a list of different brands, including Frontline, K9, Advantix, etc. You just click on Frontline and there you'll find a list of tabs that correspond to various dog sizes and dosages. Choose the tabs that fit your situation and a list will appear below, showing all of the online vendors who have that exact Frontline spot on treatment and the prices they are selling it for. Then its up to you to choose the best one and you'll go right to that store, whether it's Amazon,, or whichever.

You see, DugDug is doing the collating work in order to show all of the online stores that have what you need based on the information you enter. It's much quicker than searching high and low across the Internet. DugDug has done all the work for you. It's a simple one-stop website that doesn't sell the goods themselves but connects to you the stores that do. DugDug gets a small piece of the action from some of the sites if you indeed choose to buy from those stores, but they always list the best prices from the respective vendors regardless of whether those vendors pay a fee or not. So you can rest assured you are always getting the best price snapshot at that time.

Right now, the site pretty much handles mostly dog related products, but hopes to branch out soon. So give it a shot the next time you need to do some shopping. The time you save may be your own!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is a Raw Food Diet Safe?

Consumers who like to eat healthy and natural often want the same for the pet. According to market research, a raw food diet is growing in popularity despite the higher cost than regular pet foods. Owners claim happier pets who have healthier teeth, shinier coats and fewer vet visits. So why the popularity of this new trend in pet diet practices? The explanation is simply in the name: raw. Pet companies who produce raw diet options use a balanced combination of pure bone and complete meats where very little of the animal is wasted. The result is an all-natural diet that offers the same nutrition as if your pet hunted down its prey and consumed it.

But while regulatory standards oversee the nutrional value of pet foods for consumers, many veterinarians are concerned that such foods might expose owners and other pets in the house to unnecessary germs. Since these meals are "raw", they could pose a danger of exposure to harmful contaminints such as E.Coli or Salmonella. In fact, a University of Minnesota study tested 60 raw meat meals in which 7% tested positive for both.

So what's the solution? The fact is there really isn't one hard and fast answer. If you feel the nutrional advantage to your pet is beneficial, than that is the pet food for you. Take precautions when feeding you pet a raw diet. Isolate their dish or bowl away from areas where exposure to E.Coli or Salmonella could spread.  Always wash your pet's bowl thoroughly and with hot water after use. Or, of course, do nothing. Maybe a raw diet isn't the way to go for your pet.

Always ask your veterinarian for their thoughts on the matter and do some research, talk to some people you know who feed their pet a raw diet. Maybe just let your pet decide. They are often the best and final word on almost any matter. If they like eating it, then maybe that's the one they should have. If not, problem solved.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Taming the High Cost of Pet Care

It seems the price of, well, everything has gone sky high and that includes vet care and pet supplies. So what is there to do about it? Just pony up more of your hard earned cash to keep your pet healthy and happy? Heck no! You're going to do a little homework. You trained your pet to behave, now it's time to show those prices who's boss and bring those costs way down. Here are some of the ways to go about doing just that.

Read Your Labels 

Most mainstream pet foods like to use big, flashy words to convince you that their product is the best one on the market. The truth is, you may be buying only that: words. Some companies will often stuff their foods with a lot of fillers that you don't need and your pet probably would rather not eat. Stay away from any bag of food that has the word 'Premium' on it. Chances are there's nothing premium about it but the price. Look for brands that claim their food is 'complete and balanced' or promises '100% nutrition'. Those aren't just buzzwords to the Association of American Feed Control, those claims are intended to promise that the food meets at least the minimum requirements of the regulatory organization that oversees all foods and medications intended for animal consumption. You're likely to be paying upwards of 80% more per pound with those brands who claim their food is 'premium' when mostly what you're getting is filler. 

Flea and Tick Protection

A major patent on one of the active ingredients in flea and tick products has expired, which means that more companies can now utilize it under their brands. Much the same with pharmaceutical companies and their patents, once one expires, it's up for grabs. So do some comparison shopping among a wider variety of brands as they will all be competing for your doggy dollar and undercutting each other to get it. 

Shop Online

Most of our savvy clients are probably aware of this, but buying online can help save money, especially when it comes to medications and flea and tick protection. Some of the sites you probably know, like, but others, such as; or offer competitive prices on almost everything your pet needs. 

Getting a Check-Up

Finally, vet care costs can also be quite astronomical. But there are ways to save here as well, and I don't mean compromising on the quality of care. Ask other pet owners for the best vets in your area; call around to find out what their examination fees are what's included in the visit. City animal shelters sometimes offer free neutering and spaying services and you may even find a vaccination clinic that will give your pet shots for free or at a huge discount. Check online with your local city services, there may be some programs for low-income families to get good veterinary care for little or no out of pocket cost. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Food Stamps...for pets!

With a lagging economy putting many Americans in dire financial straits, families have found themselves forced to make difficult sacrifices. Unfortunately, the ones who suffer these tough economic times are pets who are brought to shelters or just abandoned because their owners simply cannot afford to care for them any longer. There has been a spike in the amount of cats and dogs who have been surrendered to animal services facilities due to financial hardship. 

But one organization is looking to help out those pets in need. The Pet Food Stamps program has been created for the sole purpose of assisting people who cannot afford pet food and supplies. The organization is a non-profit corporation that subsists on the generous contributions from donors who want to prevent another animal being euthanized because their owners had to make a devastating choice that no one should have to be subjected to. 

Their website is pretty easy to remember, but here's a direct link:

Whether you want to donate or apply for their assistance, this link will take you to the right place. Like them on Facebook as well. This is a wonderful organization doing some amazing work in an area that has been long-neglected for too long. The Pet Food Stamps folks intend to help low income families with veterinary care by the end of 2013 as well. 

Farewell to Miles...and some of our other favorites.

We at Paws, Claws, Wings, and Things sometimes have to say goodbye to some of our best four-legged friends. We have to remember that, as much as we love and care for each of our furry clients as if they were our own, the reality is they are not our own. They have wonderful owners who love them very much and life can often take us on an unexpected journey.

Such is the case with a couple of our beloved pets, who are moving away from us and on to new experiences and adventures.

This brings us to Miles. One of the smartest and most easy-going dogs around. He knows when you're coming up the sidewalk and greets you at the door, ready to do some serious walking.

Always stretches before it's time to go...but never leaves until he gets some belly-scratchin's first. When we head out, he's well-behaved yet inquisitive. Everyone in the neighborhood loves him, even those who've never met him before always comment on how good looking he is and wonder why he isn't doing TV commercials yet.

Miles just shrugs it off, maybe someday he will. He takes it all in stride since he gets such notices quite often. This is a humble dog who knows he's got it going on, but plays it cool. We are sure going to miss him and wish his owner Jenny the best of luck with her new job.

We also want to take this opportunity to say that we are going to miss a few of our other departing clients who are onto bigger and exciting things.

Gus and Sophie, and their owner Dawn.

And Milo and Gryffin, and their owner Tessa. 

We wish them all the best of luck...and hope our paths cross again in the future!