Latest Posts

Have Pet, Will Travel




In the Air

Book your travel plans over the phone. You need to be sure you're following all policies on things like temperature restrictions and age and health requirements.
If you can, take a direct flight. You want to decrease the odds your big guy is left on the tarmac or mishandled by airline personnel if he has to be shuttled off with the baggage.
Get the right crate. Small pets can fly in carriers at your feet, but larger ones need to travel in USDA-approved crates in the cargo hold. Make sure it's large enough for him to stand, sit, and turn around in, so he's got room to stretch his legs and rearrange his position.
Label your mate. Write the words "Live Animal" on the top and at least one side of your pet's crate. Use arrows to show the proper upright position so he's not standing on his head. And write the name, address, and phone number of his final destination on the top.
Hold on tight. All pets have to come out of their carriers at the security gate, so be sure you have them in a good hold before you take them out. "If you take nervous, anxious cats out of their carriers, they'll climb you like a Christmas tree," says Megan Blake, host of the PBS series Animal Attractions TV, who's traveled over 110,000 miles with her cat, Tout Suite.
Be a pushy pet parent. If the plane is delayed or you're worried about your pet's safety, don't hesitate to insist that airline personnel check on him. His health is more important than your popularity with the flight attendants.

    At the Hotel

    Find out about fees. More hotels than ever are welcoming pets with open paws, but don't assume that because they're allowed you won't have to pay more. Most chains charge a one-time fee per stay but may also tack on an extra room-cleaning charge.
    Do your research. Check out sites like wagworld.com for pet-friendly restaurant and hotel recommendations and reviews of local dog parks, or try petswelcome.com or tripswithpets.com.
    Pick a pup-friendly chain. Loews Hotels, Westin, and Residence Inns have started perks programs including things like pet beds, leashes, collars and bones, maps of local walking routes, and even doggy room service. Choice Hotels, Best Western, and Marriott hotels allow pets in many of their locations nationwide, too.
    Keep your room in top shape. If you leave your pet behind when you head out of your hotel room, keep him in his crate or carrier -- you're responsible for any damage he causes, and those nice clean bed sheets will be mighty tempting!
    Ask your hosts first. If you're staying with family, check with them before you take your hyperactive pup or shedding-prone kitty into their home, in case they've got any allergies (or nervous children).

    At Home

    Vet the pet sitter. Your vet or groomer can make a recommendation of a reliable service; bring the sitter over to get acquainted with your pet before you leave on your trip. 
    Check out the facilities. Give yourself plenty of time to investigate all your boarding options. Drop in unannounced and ask for a tour to see where the animals are kept and how staffers handle them, so you can see conditions as they'll be while you're not there to check up.
    Prepare for boarding. Once you settle on a home-away-from-home, bring your pet in to interact with the staff and let them feed her treats and play with her so they're familiar to her. Older pets may be better off boarding with their vet, in case they need extra care.

    On the Go

    Whether you're on the road or close to home, check out the free Mo's Nose app on your iPhone, from the creators of the Mo's Nose book series. It's adorable, easy to use, and super handy: You can find everything from pet-friendly hotels to kennels, groomers, dog walkers, pet stores, parks, and dog beaches nearby (using GPS). Plus, if you choose the little icon of Mo (an adopted shelter dog) in the bottom corner, you'll get a listing of pet-related events and deals for owners that are offered in the area. The app works nationwide and will be available in the app store in June.

    How Pets Help People




    Do pets make good teachers?

    Companion animals are natural teachers. They help people of all ages learn about responsibility, loyalty, empathy, sharing, and unconditional love -- qualities particularly essential to a child's healthy development.
    Through helping to care for a pet, children also learn to care for their fellow human beings. There is an established link between how people treat animals and how they treat each other. Kindness to animals is a lesson that benefits people, too.

    Can pets be therapists?

    Given the right animal, people, and circumstances, pets can indeed serve as "therapists." In animal-assisted therapy programs, a companion animal may visit with hospital or nursing home patients. For the program to be safe and effective, the animal must be carefully screened and the pet's caregiver must be trained to guide the animal-human interactions. When a specific therapy is desired, a credentialed professional should monitor the program. Even in less formal animal -- assisted activities, where the animal is introduced to an individual or group with no specific therapeutic goal, patients and staff often experience improved morale and communication.

    How do pets serve as helpers?

    Specially trained assistance dogs provide people who have physical and mental disabilities with the profound gift of independence. Assistance dogs are not classified as pets under the law, and they are allowed in public places where pets are prohibited. These dogs serve as the hands, ears, or eyes of their human partners and assist them by performing everyday tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Dogs may also detect changes in behavior, body language, or odor that precede seizures in their human partners, alerting them so that they may seek a safe environment.

    Can pets also be healers?

    Pets are good for our emotional and physical health. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in all age groups. It's well known that relaxed, happy people do not become ill as often as those who suffer from stress and depression.
    Animal companionship also helps lower a person's blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And studies show that having a dog increases survival rates in groups of patients who have suffered cardiac arrest. Dog walking, pet grooming, and even petting provide increased physical activity that strengthens the heart, improves blood circulation, and slows the loss of bone tissue. Put simply, pets aren't just good friends, they are good medicine.

    Can pets benefit the elderly?

    Because many Americans are living longer lives these days, sometimes elderly people find themselves living alone because they have outlived loved ones, or because they live far from any family. There is a way, however, for the elderly to find new meaning in their lives, and to redefine what it means to be "young at heart" -- by adopting a companion animal from a local shelter.
    We already know that the many physical benefits pets confer onto people work for all ages, whether you're eight or eighty. If you're older, a pet can offer you a sense of well being, a sense of encouragement, and even a reason for living. Being responsible for another life can add new meaning to your own life, and having to care for and provide a loving home to a companion animal can also help you remain active and healthy.
    You may want to consider adopting an older animal, however, rather than a puppy or kitten or a rambunctious "teenage" pet. Older pets are move likely to be calm, already housetrained, and less susceptible to unpredictable behavior. Older animals are often more easily physically managed by elderly persons than stronger, excitable younger animals; yet older pets still confer the same medical and emotional benefits on their owners as younger animals do. Animal shelter staff can help potential adopters find the most suitable animal for their lifestyle, ensuring a great match between pet and person.

    Dos and Don'ts for Your Trip to the Vet




    Let's face it: Visits to the vet can be stressful for you and your pet, whether you're heading in for a routine checkup or dealing with a serious medical issue. To get the best care possible, stay calm and use these smart strategies.
    1. Schedule a visit when nothing's wrong. Stopping by with your pet to say hello, get a treat, or just weigh in can make him less nervous on future visits, says Elizabeth Bradt, a veterinarian at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in Salem, Massachusetts. When booking your appointment, ask the receptionist about the quietest days and times so you can get in and out of the office quickly.
    2. Prepare your pet. A large part of your dog's or cat's anxiety comes from being handled in unfamiliar ways. "To prep your animal for what will happen during a vet visit, practice stroking her in less obvious places, such as in between the pads of her feet, on her lips and around her tail," suggests Grey Stafford, PhD, director of conservation and communication at Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium in Litchfield Park, Arizona. Praise her for remaining calm as you do this and she'll get used to the process -- and hopefully breeze through the exam when it's her veterinarian's turn to do it.
    3. Bring treats or toys. A chew toy or some treats -- even a favorite blanket -- can make your pet feel more at home in his strange new surroundings. Guerrilla tactic: If you have a yoga mat at home, tote that along as well. "Exam tables are stainless steel for sanitary purposes, but the cold, slippery surface can be disconcerting for pets," explains Jessica Vogelsang, a small-animal veterinarian in San Diego. "Laying a yoga mat on top of the table will warm it up and give them some extra traction."
    4. Make sure your pet is secure. That means large dogs should be on leashes and cats and small dogs should be in carriers. "You may have the sweetest, most docile pet in the world, but the veterinary ­office can feel strange and scary and you have no control over who else might be in the office with you," says Dr. Vogelsang. And if your pet is a biter or scratcher, tell your vet ahead of time. "We don't mind," she says. "We just appreciate being prepared."
    5. Never approach other animals. Just because an animal has a cute face or is the same breed as your pet, don't assume that she's friendly, says expert Nikki Moustaki, author of Pocket Pups. And since pets in pain can be extremely sensitive and cranky -- and sick animals may be contagious -- save the socializing for the dog park.
    6. Come with questions. Taking a list with you helps cover a lot of ground efficiently and thoroughly and can open up a dialogue with your vet, says Liz Devitt, a veterinarian at Ark Animal Hospital in Santa Cruz, California. "Questions about how your cat's weight gain might affect her arthritis could lead to a discussion on heart problems or diabetes because your veterinarian knows an overweight ­animal is more at risk for these serious health issues," she explains.
    7. Ask about alternatives. When your vet recommends a treatment, speak up to learn about all your options. "Your dog might have knee surgery instead of taking anti-inflammatories, for instance, or get an MRI to check for injuries that don't show up on X-rays," Dr. Devitt says. Armed with that information, you can decide which course of action makes the best sense for you and your pet.
    8. Be honest. If you fib about feeding your dog table scraps or are embarrassed to admit that your cat got into the trash, your vet may order the wrong tests or take longer to diagnose the problem, says veterinarian M. J. Hamilton, of Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists in New York City. Also, bring any supplements your pet is taking along with the labels from regular food and treats. The doctor can use this information to assess whether you're feeding your pet properly for his age, weight, and activity level.
    9. Do it every year. Animals age faster than we do, so their diseases sometimes progress more rapidly. An annual exam gives your vet a chance to find things like dental disease, arthritis, and heart conditions before they get too advanced. "Pets can't tell us when they're hurting," Dr. Vogelsang says. "We see things like rotting teeth, degenerating hips, and ear infections in pets who seem just fine. Owners often come back after we treat their animal for something they didn't even know was there and say, 'Wow, it's like he's 5 again!'"

    Caring for Your Pet When You're Ill




    When you lose much of your strength or mobility, simple tasks like walking a dog or cleaning a cat's litter box can seem overwhelming. And if your immune system is weakened by HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney or liver disease, old age, or pregnancy, you must take extra precautions to avoid disease-causing agents that any human or animal-including pets-can transmit.
    Yet living with an illness or immunocompromising condition doesn't mean you have to live without your beloved pet. And, in most cases, you need not give up your pet. After all, research indicates that companion animals enhance immune functioning by decreasing stress levels and increasing levels of self confidence and self esteem. Pets provide us with a source of affection, support, and acceptance; enable us to feel needed and valued; and ease the pain, sorrow, and loneliness often experienced during illness.
    That's why, for someone with a serious medical condition, the psychological and physical benefits of pet caregiving usually outweigh the risk of acquiring an illness from the pet-provided that proper precautions are followed.

    How could pets increase my risk?

    Although pets can do wonders for our physical and mental well being, they can get and transmit disease. To minimize the risk your pet poses to your health, you must minimize the risks to your pet's health. The key is to understand how best to care for your pet and to work with your veterinarian to keep your pet healthy.
    Certain pets are more challenging than others. For example, many exotic animals, such as reptiles, are more likely than dogs and cats to transmit certain diseases, requiring owners to take extra precautions. (The HSUS, in fact, recommends that exotic animals not be kept as pets.) Likewise, puppies and kittens may be more susceptible to disease and prone to play-oriented nipping and scratching. And new pets may come with incomplete or unknown medical histories. This does not mean that you have to give up your playful puppy or can't get a new pet. It simply means that you need to rely on a veterinarian or animal shelter adoption counselor to advise you on appropriate pet selection and care.
    No pet is guaranteed to be or remain disease-free. But your veterinarian can suggest preventive guidelines to keep a pet healthy, test your pet for parasites and other problems, and provide medical care to help a sick pet recover. And you can minimize risks for you and your pet by keeping your animal indoors, making sure he's well fed and groomed, and taking him to the veterinarian for vaccinations and annual check-ups.

    What can I do to protect myself?

    If you have a compromised immune system, follow these precautions:
    • Wash your hands after handling a pet.
    • Wear rubber gloves when changing a litter box or cleaning up after a pet, and wash your hands afterwards.
    • Keep your pet's nails short to minimize scratches.
    • Follow your veterinarian's advice on keeping your pet free of fleas and ticks.
    • Keep your pet indoors and use a leash outdoors to prevent your pet from hunting, scavenging, fighting, and engaging in other activities that expose him to other animals and disease.
    • Feed your pet commercial pet food.
    • Keep your pet's living and feeding areas clean.
    • Keep your pet's vaccinations up to date.
    • Seek veterinary care immediately for a sick pet.

    What can I do to meet my pet's basic needs?

    If your condition makes everyday pet care too challenging, you'll need to find outside assistance to make sure your pet gets the food, grooming, exercise, and general care he needs. When relatives, friends, and neighbors can't help, a nonprofit pet assistance organization may be able to lend a hand. Typically, these organizations help HIV-infected pet owners by providing everything from emergency foster care and animal transportation to dog walking, pet grooming, and litter box cleaning services.
    If you can use this assistance, ask local veterinarians, animal shelters, physicians, health care clinics, social service agencies, veterinary schools, and libraries to refer you to resources in your community.

    12 Steps For Perfect Pet Pictures









    1. Use natural light. Avoid a flash so your pet doesn't look like a red-eye demon. Also, camera 
    2. flashes can scare your pet and send it scurrying for cover. Instead, use natural light by taking your pet outdoors or by positioning it near a bright window indoors. If your pet has a favorite perch or bed it sleeps on, move it closer to the window before the photo session.
    3. Don't shoot at high noon. Outdoors, take your pet's picture when the sun is rising or setting. If you photograph your pet when the sun is directly overhead, the resulting portrait will have too much contrast between light and dark areas. The best time to photograph is when the sun is coming in at an angle or when there is a slightly overcast sky.
    4. Aim for the eyes. Photographing pets isn't much different than photographing people. You want your photograph to capture the subjects' personality, whether they are human or animal. That's why you should always focus on your pet's eyes to reflect the true nature of your pet.
    5. Get down to pet level. One of the most common mistakes people make when they photograph their pets is to point the camera from their level. Inevitably, the animal ends up looking like a furry blob lost in the background. Instead, get down to your pet's eye level and photograph it as another dog or cat might see it.
    6. Timing is everything. Sometimes the best way to get a great pet portrait is when the animal is just waking up or going to sleep. A tired pet makes a great model. Certainly if you want to catch your pet in action (running, swimming, jumping), you'll need to get it a bit excited. But, for most pet portraits, you'll have better luck if your cat or dog is tuckered out and calm.
    7. Go to your pet. When you are ready to photograph your pet, don't drag it across the room by its collar and start snapping photographs. That will put your pet on high alert and make it nervous. Dogs can be difficult to pose. Instead, approach your dog where it is so that it is relaxed and calm.
    8. Use the element of surprise. If your pet isn't posed exactly the way you want it, try surprising it with a squeaky toy or high-pitched noise. Hold the toy directly over your head to encourage your pet to look directly at you. Or, have an assistant stand behind you to get the animal's attention.
    9. Try a long lens. If your camera has a zoom function or if you own a telephoto lens, it can be a very effective tool for pet photography. With a telephoto lens, you can get a great photo of your pet in a natural setting without your pet even realizing that you are stalking it. A telephoto or zoom lens will also allow you to experiment a little by zeroing in on your pet's face, fur, or body.
    10. Change the venue. Active pets can be a challenge to photograph. If your pet won't sit still, try moving it to a spot it is familiar with to slow it up a bit. For example, if your dog loves to ride in the car, let Fido hop into the passenger seat, roll down the window, and capture the image that way. For cats, try putting them on a safe shelf or the back of a chair so that they have to think for a minute or two about where to go next. Never put your pet in danger, but sometimes by moving your hyperactive animal to a different location, it will slow it down just long enough for you to squeeze the shutter.
    11. Watch the background. When you are trying to focus on an active animal, you don't always pay attention to the background. A messy living room or a cluttered backyard will ruin even the best photo, so think about the environment before you break out the camera. Indoors, pick up the kid's toys, scattered newspapers, or stray coffee cups. Outdoors, put away garden hoses, garbage cans, or bicycles.
    12. Mix angles. Vary the framing of your photos by including tight closeups, full body shots, and three-quarter images. That way, you'll have a lot to choose from and you might even capture physical features of your pet that you never noticed before. For example, by focusing on just your cat's tail, you might notice stripes, spots, or bits of color that didn't stand out previously.
    13. Be patient. Never turn a photo session into a wrestling match. If your pet won't pose exactly the way you want, stop the photo session and try again another day. The great thing about digital photography is that you can shoot endless exposures and easily destroy all the bad shots.

    Creature Comforts




    Looking for a way to keep your pooch or pussycat off the sofa? Maybe -- just maybe -- providing your four-footed family friend with his or her very own comfy couch will do the trick. We gave our pet bed an off-white antiqued finish that should withstand gnawing. For a perfect-fitting mattress, sew a simple square pillow. It'll let Rover roll over in comfort.
    Note: Be sure to print out and study all instructions as well as the plans displayed on the last page of this article.
    You'll need intermediate woodworking skills and a few power tools to get the job done. Construction should take a day or so, plus several evenings for filling nail holes, sanding, and applying a finish. Cost: approximately $50.


    What You Need:

    • Table, radial-arm, or portable circular saw
    • Router
    • Tape measure
    • Chisel
    • Framing square
    • Combination square
    • Bar or pipe clamps
    • Drill
    • Hammer
    • Nail set
    • 80-, 100-, and 120-grit sandpaper
    • Paintbrush
    • Four 16-inch pieces of 2 x 2 lumber for the uprights (A)
    • Four 21-inch pieces of 2 x 2 lumber for the cross members (B)
    • Two 8-1/2 x 21-1/2-inch pieces of 3/8-inch plywood beaded-board paneling for the end panels (C)
    • Two 27-3/4-inch pieces of 1 x 6 lumber for the side rails (D)
    • One 22-1/4 x 27-inch piece of 3/8-inch plywood beaded-board paneling for the bottom (E)
    • Four 3 x 3-inch pieces of 1/2-inch lumber for the caps (F)
    • Four 2-inch-diameter wood ball finials (G)
    • Woodworker's glue, finishing nails
    • Wood filler
    • Primer and paint, or stain and clear finish
    • Pillow sized to fit the bed (approx. 22 x 28 inches)
    • Start with the End Frames

      1. Cut the 2 x 2 uprights (A -- see diagram on previous page) and cross members (B) to length. Next, rout a 1/4-inch-deep by 3/8-inch-wide dado, centered, along one side of each cross member. These will hold the end panels (C). Measure carefully and use a combination square to mark a 3/8-inch-wide by 3/4-inch-deep mortise in each upright. Position the 5-1/2-inch-long mortises 4 inches from the bottoms of the uprights. Rout the mortises and square the ends with a chisel.
      2. Now rout a 1/4-inch-deep by 3/8-inch-wide dado, centered, in one side of each upright to hold the end panels. Position the 8-1/2-inch-long dadoes 5-1/4 inches from the bottoms of the uprights.

      Construct the End Assemblies

      3. Use a framing square to map cuts for the two plywood beaded-board end panels (C). They should measure 8-1/2 inches high by 21-1/2 inches wide.
      4. For each end of the bed, glue and nail one end of both cross members to one upright, drilling pilot holes for the nails. (If you prefer, you can join the uprights and cross members with doweled joints.) Slide each end panel into place. Don't bother gluing them; a slightly loose fit accommodates expansion and contraction. Attach the second set of uprights to the cross members with glue and nails. Clamp the end assemblies until the glue dries.

      Attach Side Rails and Bottom

      5. Cut the 1 x 6 side rails (D) to length, then rout a 1/4-inch-deep by 3/8-inch-wide dado 1/2 inch from the bottom edge of each rail. Cut the plywood beaded-board bottom (E) to size.
      6. Attach the side rails to one end assembly, gluing one end of each rail to a mortise in an upright. Slide the bottom (E) in place, then glue the other ends of the rails to mortises in the second end assembly. Strengthen the mortise joints by drilling pilot holes and driving two finish nails into the side of each upright and through the rail ends. Clamp the joints until the glue dries.

      Finish Up

      7. Top each upright with a 1/2-inch-thick cap (F). Glue the caps in place; then drill pilot holes, and screw on the 2-inch-diameter ball finials (G).
      8. With a nail set, countersink all nailheads, then fill the countersink holes with wood filler. Sand all surfaces, inside and out, then apply the finish of your choice. We primed our bed, then brushed on a light-brown base coat followed by off-white glazing. Allow finish to dry thoroughly.
      9. Finally, set the pillow in place, and invite your pet on board.

    Cute Knitted Collars



    Needles & Extras

    • Size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) double-pointed needles (dpns)
    • Size H/8 (5 mm) crochet hook
    • 3/4-inch-diameter button (we used JHB #1449 Paw)
    • Blunt-end yarn needle

    Instructions

    Note: This pattern is a 4-stitch I-cord and is worked holding both strands of yarn together.
    Cast on 4 sts. *Do not turn. Slide sts to opposite end of needle.
    Take yarn across back of sts and k4; rep from * until collar measures desired length (fits around dog's neck plus 1 to1 1/2 inches). Bind off until 1 st rem.
    Transfer st to crochet hook and ch 8; sl st into same st as beg ch; fasten off. Trim ends even with ends of Fun Fur. Sew on button.

    Skill Level: Easy

    Finished Measurements: Approx 8 inches long, plus button loop

    Yarn

    • Lion Brand Lion Suede (Art. 210): 100% polyester; 3 oz. (85 g); 122 yds. (110 m); bulky weight, 1 skein #125 Mocha

    Needles & Extras

    • Size 9 (6 mm) knitting needles
    • Size H/8 (5 mm) crochet hook
    • Button to fit button-loop opening (we used JHB #92825 Silver Pooch)
    • Blunt-end yarn needle

    Instructions

    Note: This pattern makes a 2-stitch I-cord along both sides, and the center stitch is worked in Garter stitch (knit all rows). The collar is reversible.
    Cast on 5 sts.
    Row 1: K3; leaving yarn at back of work, sl last 2 sts pwise; turn.
    Row 2: P2, k1, bring yarn to front of work and sl last 2 sts pwise; turn.
    Rep Rows 1 and 2 for desired length (circumference of dog's neck plus 1 to 1 1/2 inches). Bind off last row until 1 st rem; transfer st to crochet hook, ch 6, sl st into first bind-off st; fasten off. Weave in ends. Sew on button.