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Archive for May 2014

Choosing a Pet Bird

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Before you buy that cage you might want to consider what owning a bird looks like. Birds aren’t just something pretty to look at like a painting, these are social animals that need high levels of care like that of a dog. So before you purchase a feathered friend, you should find out what type of bird best suits your current lifestyle.

Your time availability , economic situation, and current environment are all factors when deciding which bird species is best for you. These factors will determine how big of a bird you should get and what type. Bigger birds need more socializing, food and space. Smaller birds require socializing on a smaller scale, eat less food and take up less space. This might seem elementary, but you should still consider the bird’s natural habits and vocalization before bringing one home.

Here are ten things you should consider before buying a bird.

NoiseBirds make a lot of noise. The bigger the bird the larger the noise. Not all birds have pretty voices, and some vocalizations can be ear splitting. Make sure that the noise of the bird is not going to rattle your cage. If you’re not sure you can cope with a loud squawk, then you should consider a different type of bird or animal altogether.

TimeIn order for a bird to be tame you need time and patience. If you buy a bird already tame then you need to continue the level of care to ensure the bird stays that way. You”l need to handle and interact with the bird everyday. Try to make it fit into your schedule so the bird knows when to expect you. However, don’t expect your bird to socialize with everyone.

SocializingIf you want your bird to be more accepting of the people in your home, make sure that the responsibilities that come with bird ownership aren’t laid on one person. When multiple people interact with the bird they will be more accepting of those people, but don’t expect that circle to widen and include people outside of the care givers.

Feeding TimeWhen birds eat it is a messy affair. This is a natural occurrence, in the wild this eating behavior feeds other animals below the trees. So be ready to clean everyday underneath the bird’s cage. You can buy cage catchers, but it won’t catch everything, so be prepared to get out the vacuum or broom daily.

DietBird seed only gives a bird a bit of the nutrients they need everyday. You can feed your bird fresh fruit and veggies to ensure that your bird is getting all the daily recommended amount of nutrition they require.

Beak HealthBirds need to wear down their beaks because they grow constantly. Also they need to work their jaw muscles which means they need stimulation for their beaks. You’ll have to supply your bird with toys that help them to wear down their beak, and be vigilant watching the bird when it’s out of its cage, otherwise your furniture and plants will be attacked by the bird.

House PlantsMany house plants are poisonous to birds, so you’ll have to throw out any plant that poses a health risk to your feathered friend. Here’s a link that lists house plants toxic to birds.

In Your HouseAfter you’re done reading about the plants that are hazardous to birds, the next thing you’ll need to do is get rid of your teflon non-stick cookware. These pots and pans give off an odorless fume that can kill a bird within minutes of exposure. You’ll also have to get rid of scented candles, air fresheners and oils. These all contain chemicals that can harm a bird’s sensitive respiratory system. This includes smoking, the second hand smoke from you cigarette can kill your bird, so if you’re a smoker, a bird may not be the pet for you unless you can be diligent about smoking outside away from you pet.

WakingBirds awake with the sun, so be prepared to wake up very early. You can buy cage covers that block the sun and keep you bird sleeping longer, but bird’s are naturally early risers. They expect you to get up when they do and to be fed shortly after waking. You may have to adjust your schedule if you purchase a bird.

What You WearBirds are attracted to shiny objects, if you’ve got jewelry or sequin shirts, best not to wear them around your bird when they’re out of their cage. Or take them off before handling your bird. Buttons are particular targets for birds. Keep extra buttons and a sewing kit handy, because you may find that you need it.

How Often Should I Bath My Pet?

ID-10087733Every pet owner knows their animal needs a good bath every now and then, but how often do our pets really need to be scrubbed? If you’re not sure whether you’re over bathing your pet here are some simple tips to help you bath your little critter properly. Dogs only need to be bathed once a month, any more than that and you run the risk of drying your fury friend’s skin and possibly causing problems. Cats are self grooming animals, but if your feline gets into something smelly or sticky you’ll need to give them a bath.

When buying shampoo, make sure that you’re buying the right kind for your pet. You can speak to your vet about which kind is best for your animal. To stop the shampoo from irritating your pet you can dilute it with some water before applying it to your pet’s fur. You can even use a facecloth or small sponge to help lather up your fury friend. You might even consider putting toys in the bath with your pet to turn bath time into play time.

 

Before placing your animal in the tub make sure that you’ve brushed their hair to remove any tangles and tats. If you’re bathing a cat, we recommend you cut their nails first to avoid getting badly scratched. Next get all your bathing gear ready so you don’t have to leave your pet unattended while you search for the shampoo. Make sure you’re wearing the appropriate clothing for bathing your animal to avoid being bitten and scratched. When running the water make sure it’s slightly more than lukewarm. Cats can catch pneumonia if the water’s too cold, and an animal’s skin can scald if the water is too hot. To stop your pet from slipping in the tub you can use rubber mats or place a towel on the bottom of the tub to make their paws comfortable.

If you’re going to bath your animal in the bathroom be sure to remove the bath mat so it won’t get soaked, in the case of bathing a cat, you might want to consider bathing them in a shower. Large dogs can be done outside in a large plastic pool or tub. Once you’ve got the water and supplies ready bring you animal into the room and close the door behind you. Now you can place your animal in the water. Make sure you do not get your cat’s head wet. Cat’s hate that, but it also lessens the possibility that you might accidentally get soap in the cat’s eyes. Put the shampoo in the fur and work it into a rich lather.

After you have lathered up your pet rinse them thoroughly to ensure that no shampoo is left in their fur. To dry your pet wrap them in a towel and carry them out of the bathroom where you can begin to blot dry their fur. If you have some help, get someone to put the towels in the dryer so that you have warm towels to dry your pet with. Some pets will dry themselves by shaking the water out of their fur. Cats prefer to be wrapped in towels and let out again after a short time.

After the bath make sure to reward your pet no matter how they behaved. The reward tells the animal that you appreciate them even if bath time isn’t fun for everyone.

Can Your Dog Catch an STD?

ID-100223399Is it possible for unaltered dogs to catch STD’s? Absolutely. Animals don’t have any way of protecting themselves during sexual intercourse and are just as vulnerable as humans to STD’s. If you have not yet taken your dog for an operation, here are two reasons why you should seriously consider getting them fixed, Brucellosis and Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor.

Brucellosis is also known as undulant fever. This disease is spread through sexual transmission, but most commonly through nose and mouth contact with the female dog’s infected vaginal discharge. It can also be spread through spontaneous loss of the puppy fetuses and whelping. Even males who have been castrated can carry the disease for several years. Puppies can carry the disease if born to an infected mother. This disease is highly contagious, meaning humans who are exposed to this disease are at risk of contracting it as well.

Symptoms of the disease include miscarriage, inflammation of the testes, and uterine infections. You will see a failure to conceive in a healthy female, male dogs who’s testicles decrease in size and produce abnormal semen. Both sexes can suffer from lethargy, loss of libido, premature aging and generalized lymph node enlargement.

Dogs in kennels and kept for breeding are most at risk of contracting undulant fever. To stop this disease form spreading have your vet screen for Brucellosis. Especially if you intend to breed your pet, or if you don’t plan to have them spayed or neutered. Brucellosis can be treated with antibiotics and isolation, but once a dog has this STD it is very hard to rid the system of it, and many vets will recommend eliminating a positive testing animal if it is a dog that breeds. Spaying and Neutering after testing positive does not cure the animal, it can remain in the system even after the dog has been fixed.

Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor (CTVT) is a type of cancer that is spread by intercourse and licking. The female dog develops a mass that grows from the vaginal lining, while in male dogs a mass forms on the penis sheath. This cancer can also affect the face of a dog as well with masses growing on the muzzle.

CTVT is most common among young free roaming animals or stray animals. The females are more susceptible than males. CTVT is a single or multiple, pink-red, cauliflower-shaped lesions that can vary greatly in size. Neoplasms are relatively firm but fragile, especially those tumors involving the external genitalia. Other signs of infection include genital discharge, abnormal odor, and excessive licking.

The cancerous masses can be treated through surgery, radiation therapy and drugs. The good news is that there is a 90% cure rate for dogs infected with this disease.

Hedghogs

ID-100148435After playing Sonic the Hedgehog my son badly wanted a hedgehog, but after taking him to the pet store to see a real live hedgehog he changed his mind. Hedgehogs can make great pets, but they are not suitable for young children. These little animals require your attention and interaction to remain friendly and sociable.

Pigmy Hedgehogs are native to Southern Europe and Africa, but they have been domesticated for many years. However they are still classified as an exotic animal, so before you purchase one you should check with local restrictions on exotic animals to see if it is legal to own one. They make great pets because they are cute, well behaved, and don’t have a smell to them, not to mention that they are allergy friendly.

The best age to buy a hedgehog is 6 months old. At this age they are more likely to bond with you and be social, but all animals have their own personality, so if your hedgehog is grumpy it will require extra patience and time to bond with you. Because these animals do have quills and teeth it is possible that you will receive a poke or a bite some time during your ownership. Hedgehogs are shy, nocturnal creatures that become active at dusk. It’s best for the care of the animal that it is overseen by an adult who can maintain a schedule with the hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are not like rodents, they don’t have a need to chew and wear down their teeth. It’s okay to let them have some time to run around outside their cage and socialize. However, if you have a pet like a dog or cat you need to monitor the interactions between them and the hedgehog closely as the larger animals might see the hedgehog as a toy, frightening the hedgehog and causing him to use his quills in defense. If you own a ferret NEVER allow these two animals to interact, the ferret will attack the hedgehog. You can introduce the animals when the hedgehog is in the cage, but never let them interact without strict supervision.

If you plan to purchase a Hedgehog you should try to find a reputable breeder in your area. Although, because you are more likely to buy one from a pet store here is what you should be looking for in a healthy hedgehog. The eyes should be wide open, bright and beady. If the critter has a runny nose, eye, ear, then it is most likely sick and in need of medical care. Carefully examine the quills and belly, there should be no missing patches of quills and the belly should be smooth. Look at the fecal matter in the pan, the color should not be green or runny. Ask the pet store to see the hedgehog walk. As it walks across a flat surface watch the body, it should look like a shuffle or a walk. If the animal has trouble walking you should not buy him. Hedgehogs make little chirping, purring noises, but if you hear rattling when it breathes it could have pneumonia.

When you bring the new hedgehog home, place him in his new cage and let him have absolute privacy for at least a day. You may pick him up and hold him once or twice for a few minutes the first day, but remember, it will probably be more like a week before he begins to feel at home.

Hedgehogs can eat cat food, but make sure that the cat food covers all the dietary needs of the hedgehog. In the wild hedgehogs eat insects, but also forage for grains and fruit. They’ve even been known to eat lizards, and from the carcass of dead animals. You can buy special hedgehog food, but it might be hard to find.

You can house a hedgehog in a guinea pig cage with fresh bedding. Some hedgehogs can learn to use a litter box, but this requires patience and training, it’s not instinctual for them to use a litter box. Most hedgehogs require weekly cage cleaning, but you might have the odd messy critter who needs their cage to be spot  cleaned every other day. And you should place the hedgehog somewhere it can be warm, 72-75 degrees is preferable. Never use a cage with a wire floor, these can cause problems for you hedgehog. You should have a hide area where the hedgehog can curl up and feel safe, as well as provide some toys for mental stimulation like cat toys, bells, balls and an exercise wheel.

You don’t need to bath your hedgehog often, they are self cleaning animals. But if bedding or feces becomes stuck to the hedgehog you will need to bath and clean that area. To do this set the hedgehog down on a towel and using a tooth brush, scrub away the dirt. You should scrub the quills from front to back and avoid getting soap and water in its eyes. You will also need to clip the nails of the hedgehog. Be sure to do this when you are both calm and make sure you aren’t cutting to close to the quick, just the ends need to come off. If the hedgehog tenses up, just wait for it to relax again.

Do not wear gloves to handle your hedgehog, his quills aren’t that sharp and he needs to get used to your scent. To hold your hedgehog scoop him up from under the belly, this way you should feel his furry belly and not his quills. Try to avoid his quills if possible. Once you have picked him up, you can have him in one hand while you other hand protects and supports from his back. He may curl up into a ball, but be patient and he will come out eventually. If he is agitated he might flex his quills in protest, again just be patient.

If you do decide to purchase a hedgehog, we hope that this blog has been helpful in making your choice and informing you about hedgehogs in general.

Introducing New Pets to Existing Pets

animal socializingGetting a new pet is exciting. You bring them home and watch them explore all over sniffing and getting a sense of who you are and where they are. Should you already have a pet and are considering getting a new pet, you might not be so sure how this process will take place without one animal getting hurt or upset. Don’t worry, we have some tips for you to help foster good relationships between your new pet and your existing pet.

First we have to remember that animals experience the world around them differently from humans. Animals are driven by their noses, their noses are the key to social behavior. Never place a new pet and an existing pet together unsupervised for the first time. Animals need to get used to one another’s scent before they can properly socialize together. This is done in a series of steps that requires patience and understanding.

For dogs you will have to crate them separate from the new animal. Place an article inside the existing dog’s crate with them that belongs to the new comer, and visa versa. This way each animal is smelling the other before they meet. Afterward you can let the new animal out of their crate to explore the house and the scent of your dog. Once the new animal has followed the trail of the old scent you crate the new comer and let the old dog out to trail the new scent around the house. You need to do this several times a day for a few days until each animal becomes familiar with the scent of the other animal.

Once this happens you can introduce them face-to-face in a neutral setting. This means using a neighbors backyard or a fenced in park for the first meet and greet. The older dog (or new comer if it’s a dog) should not be held on a leash because this can cause aggression, instead let each animal explore the other. Intervene if you see signs of aggression and make each animal feel secure. If things go badly, you will need to start the whole process over again. Dog’s are usually quicker to make friends than cats, so if you’re dealing with a cat you will use a different process.

Cat’s are extremely territorial, and this can make their acceptance of a new animal very hard on themselves, the new animal and you. Unhappy territorial cats will start fights, hiss and mark their territory with ferocity, so be sure to take it slow and easy! When purchasing another animal make sure that their personalities and activity levels match. Don’t buy a playful kitten or puppy to stay home with your elderly cat, that’s not fair to either of them.

When you bring home the new animal place them in a room with everything they need for the next week, their food, litter, toys, and bed. Feed your animals on each side of the door in close proximity so they can smell each other while they eat, but not be side-by-side. Gradually move the dishes closer together until the animals can eat calmly while smelling one another. Afterward you can take two toys and tie a string attaching them so the cat and the new comer can play together and smell one another.

While in this process make sure that both animals are receiving lots of attention so no one feels left out or neglected. Before a face-to-face meeting of your animals switch their beds or toys. Try rubbing a face cloth on the cheeks of your existing cat and place it around the feeding dish of the new cat. In the case of the dog, just letting it merely sniff and play with the objects is a way of introducing them because cats and dog’s leave their scents in different ways.

If you’ve got a new cat, now is the time to let them roam around the house smelling around for the old cat then through a door that is partially opened can you reveal the animals to one another. You should do this several times a day for a week and watch from the reaction of your existing cat to see how welcome the new comer is.

Through this process you’ll know when the time is right for the two animals to have their face-to-face introduction. Should this go favorably for you the cat will sniff around the new animal placing the familiar scent, or they might sit and stare at each other. If this is the case things are going great and you should try introducing play between them with a toy. And be sure to stay present throughout the first introduction. Should things sour be ready to throw a blanket over the cat and remove it form the situation.

Never try grabbing for a cat during a cat fight with your bare arms, you will be hurt for sure. Instead be ready with something large and soft to distract the cat from attacking the new animal. If you notice that the animals are stressed, or they start fighting remove both animals and start the process over again. You can increase the chance of amicability between them if each cat has their own litter box plus another one they can both use, if each animal has seen a vet and has no illnesses, each pet has a safe place thy can escape to and if the original cat’s routine is kept up.

If you’re introducing a puppy to older dogs much of the same rules apply for the dogs. with the exception that you have to remember that an older dog has lost that maternal/paternal feeling from being older. Be sure that the puppy is tired out and calm when interacting with the older dogs for the first month or more. Constantly crating a puppy does not encourage socialization, just be sure that you are present for all interactions of the older dog with the puppy.

And the recurring theme of this blog is patience. You need to have patience, the animals will work it our on their own terms, you can’t force animals to instantly befriend one another any more than you can make a stranger your new best friend. Relationships take time and animals are no exception.