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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.

Chinchilla

ChinchillaChinchillas are a rabbit sized rodent from the Andes Mountains in South America that can live from 18-20 years. They need a dry climate that is neither too hot nor too cold as they are susceptible to heat stroke and freezing to death. Just like rabbits, chinchillas have teeth that continually grow, up to 10-12 inches a year and they can jump about a foot off the ground. If you are purchasing a chinchilla for the first time there are some variables you should consider before your purchase.

Chinchillas make great pets for grown children as long as they have been socialized. A chinchilla that has not been socialized will display aggressive behavior and typically be more inclined to bite. The best place to purchase a chinchilla is from a reputable breeder who is willing to give you a list of referrals. Chinchillas bought from a pet store have most likely not been properly socialized and are more liable to be sick due to the lack of socialization, or being bored. You should buy a chinchilla when it is 10 months old so that you can socialize with him/her yourself as well as get comfortable with one another.

Be careful when handling your chinchilla, they are fragile animals and can be hurt easily. If you wish to hold him/her you should cup their bottom in one hand and hold them securely, but not too tightly in your other hand supporting their arms and neck. You should also give a chinchilla a dust bath every week. Be sure that the dust is not grainy like sand, but more like dust or ash. Put some dust in a shallow bowl and rub all over the chinchilla. The dust stops the chinchilla from contracting diseases from an unclean coat and is something they would do in the wild.

When purchasing a cage for your chinchilla stay away from cages with wire floating bottoms. Chinchillas can easily get their feet stuck in between the wire and hurt themselves trying to free their foot. These bottoms can also cause a chinchilla to become arthritic from walking carefully all the time trying to avoid trapping their feet in the mesh. The best cage will have tiers for the chinchilla to jump onto and off of. Be wary of buying hamster balls or wheels for your chinchilla, these result in high number of deaths and accidents.

Chinchillas need a specific diet. They can eat guinea pig food as well as alfalfa and timothy hay. Be sure not to leave soiled hay or food lying around the cage, as these will cause the chinchilla to become sick should they ingest it. Chinchillas should never be fed too much treats as these can cause troubles for the chinchillas sensitive system. However you can use treats sparingly as a means to train your pet. You should bottle feed your chinchilla water. Make sure that you wash the bottle well in hot water and don’t use soaps as these can cause the animal to become ill.

The same goes for cleaning the cage. Because the cages wires may be treated with toxins you should clean the cage with hot water before placing your chinchilla in there. You should clean the cage of your chinchilla every day or every other day. Wash the bottom of the cage once a week with water and bleach ensuring to rinse well with hot water.

Chinchillas are curious animals that need a lot of stimulation and toys that they can chew. If you plan to let your chinchilla loose in a room of your home you will need to proof it first. Make sure there are no exposed wires, wood or furniture for your animal to chew. If you are going to handle and play with your chinchilla you must do so at the same time everyday. Chinchillas are nocturnal and are more active at night, they also tend to be very time sensitive, which means that it causes them stress if they do not have routine.

You should give your chinchilla toys that not only pique his curiosity and help him to wear down his teeth. Salt licks, cardboard boxes, and untreated wooden toys are great. You can even let your chinchilla gnaw on bones. Never let your chinchilla chew wires, plastic, or anything that has been chemically treated because they can cause your pet to become deadly ill.

All pets need a certain amount of care, always research the type of animal you are thinking about purchasing before your buy them. Some animals require specific care that can keep them healthy and happy for many years, chinchillas are no exception.

 

Photo from Chinchilla Chronicles

 

Snakes

Have you thought about buying a snake for a pet? We have some tips for you to read before you go and take the next step. There are many species available for sale, but you need to know which are best for first time owners. You also need to know where to buy your pet snake. You can talk to other snake owners and find out where’s the best place to buy, and there are reptile shows that feature breeders who you can talk to and buy snakes from.

Corn SnakeThe best snakes for first time snake owners are ones that are hardy and docile, like the corn snake, ball python, king and milk snakes. These snakes are readily available at pet stores, easy to breed and are great for first time snake owners. These snakes can cost as low as $10 but can increase due to color variations or more. This price does not include the equipment you will need to house the snake.

You need a cage with a lid that cannot be opened from the inside and has temperature controls. Some snakes need more warmth because they are from hot climates, where others can deal with moderate temperatures. Snakes are escape artists and love to squeeze through holes, so make sure where ever you’re housing your snake that they cannot escape easily, and if they do get out of their cage, you can find them without too much trouble.

Another thing to consider is feeding your snake. Some snakes are okay eating frozen food, but some snakes might be used to live feedings, so definitely find out what your potential snake is used to eating and decide if you’re okay feeding your snake live bait, or storing frozen mice in your freezer.

Ball PythonAnother thing to consider is the size of the snake. The snakes that are listed above will not grow to be more than 8 feet long, some species will grow to be much longer. You will also want to consider the breed if you have children in the house. Kids under 5 years old are not great snake owners because snakes demand a certain amount of understanding and care.

Be wary of buying a wild snake, these are more likely to be aggressive, bad eaters, and carry diseases. You will notice if the snake has parasites because the scales will appear enflamed and sore around the edges in groupings. Snakes that have been captured from the wild are more likely to die than a captive bred species too.

Also know your limits, do not buy an anaconda, reticulated pythons, or venomous snake. These snakes need an experienced snake handler to minimize accidents. It’s always a good idea to talk with a snake handler or owner before purchasing so you can get an idea of what owning a snake is like. If you’re too timid to hold and interact with snakes, then you should think twice about owning one. Snakes need interaction with their owner in order to bond and establish a relationship.

Milk SnakeWatching videos on snakes is another good way to gauge your preparedness for snake ownership. Here’s a great video by Snake Buddies. As with any animal, know what it takes to properly care for an animal, there are many snakes for sale on Craig’s List because the owners were not ready for the responsibility or the dedication that snake ownership comes with. Do some research and act on knowledge, not on impulse.

 

Ferrets

ID-10051447 Did you know that there are more than 10 million pet ferrets in the US? Did you also know that ferrets are regulated state-to-state, meaning that before you buy one you may need to buy a permit and learn whether you are able to buy an unaltered male or female. Contact your local Wildlife or Fish and Game department before purchasing a ferret.

Ferrets may not only require your legal understanding, but they’ll require your patience and knowledge. Ferrets are not like owning a cat or dog, they are more prone to wild and hunting behaviors, which means that they require a lot of supervision before they can be given free reign of the house. Even after you’ve owned the ferret for years you may still find that they require your close attention.

Due to their inquisitive nature, you will need to ensure that you do a harm and danger reduction check in your house. Keep toilet lids down, ensure buckets are empty, don’t let empty toilet paper, paper towel or wrapping paper rolls to sit around as these are all dangerous to ferrets.

Ferrets can also be expensive animals, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations and neutering prices. These on top of the price of the ferret can be very expensive. For many reasons you will want to neuter your ferret unless you plan to breed them. Ferrets have a natural musk to them that increases when they reach sexual maturity and become ready to mate. Ferrets in heat change their behavior and smell. The males become increasingly aggressive, and the female risks death if she remains unaltered and  unable to mate. Female ferrets secrete high levels of estrogen and if this hormone stays in the blood for a prolonged period of time it will cause a progressive depression of  bone marrow that results in a severe, life threatening aplastic anemia.

Ferrets need to be kept indoors as they are very temperature sensitive, they can suffer and die from heat stroke and frost bite. Make sure that if you’re keeping a ferret in a cage you have a large enough cage for the ferret to romp and play as well as rest and relax. You can litter train a ferret, but it requires time and patience. Unlike cats, it isn’t a natural instinct for the ferret to exit waste in kitty litter. Make sure that for the first while you leave the waste in the litter box so the ferret learns this is where they are supposed to go. Immediately remove and clean odors from accidents as it is the odors that attract the ferret to dispose of waste in certain corners.

Make sure that the ferret has an abundance of food and water available to them. They eat small portions periodically, so be sure to leave food out for them all day. ALso do research into the kind of food to feed ferrets. There is a lot of conflicting advice about what to feed ferrets, so be sure to talk about the ferrets diet with a vet. Generally it’s not a good idea to feed food to an animal that is not meant for that animal. Also be aware that in the wild ferrets eat smaller animals, so if you own rodents or birds that the ferret does not have access to them and that fish tanks have a closed lid on them.

Ferrets are great pets, just ask one of the millions of ferret owners. But you need to do your homework and decide if owning a ferret is right for you. They require a lot of attention and patience, so if you don’t have the time to commit to a ferret, you should probably look for another pet.

House Training a Puppy

CVH 13You’ve just bought the cutest bundle of fur in the world. You’ve put so much time in choosing a name, buying pet products, and now your new family member is finally here! You should put just as much time and effort in the training process as you did everything else, otherwise you may become frustrated with your new friend quicker than you thought possible.

Start training your puppy the day he/she comes home with you. Choose a little room in your house to dedicate to you new puppy. This is where the majority of the training will take place. In this room your puppy will learn where it is okay to eliminate and what kind of play is acceptable. Begin by layering newspapers in the floor. Then choose a corner for the bed and another for the food and water dishes. Stay with your puppy in this room and give him all kinds of love. Remember your puppy just left his family behind and he’s probably feeling anxious.

Don’t rush to your puppy’s side the minute they start to cry or whine. They have to learn how to be alone, especially if there will be no one in the house with them during the day while your at work. Likewise, if your puppy is showing signs of being tired leave your puppy alone to sleep. Don’t overwhelm the puppy with your presence or they’l feel anxious when you’re not around and increase the likeliness of accidents.

Find a vet that you trust quickly and get your puppy’s vaccinations done as soon as you can. Puppies shouldn’t be let outside who haven’t had all their vaccinations. And once they’ve been vaccinated you can begin training your dog outside too. Choose a spot in your backyard where you want your puppy to go. Consistently take your dig there and praise him with a treat for eliminating in that spot every time. Be sure that you’re taking him/her out on a regular basis so there are no accidents and no anxiety about having to hold the pee.

Now if you’re going to bring your new puppy to sleep in your room prepare for him to soil your bed. Young puppies do not have control over their bladders yet. Older puppies have more control, but might still have an accident. So if you don’t want to be woken to a mess, leave your puppy to sleep in his crate or bed for the night in his room.

Teach your puppy how to play. Introduce him/her to the toys you bought and verbally praise him/her for chewing those toys. And just as you wouldn’t let a toddler or baby alone in a room of your house, don’t leave your puppy alone either. If they’re left alone they’re possibly going to chew something you don’t want chewed. Be there with your puppy, ready with some of his toys. If he/she starts chewing something say “Off!” with authority and then give them their chew toy. Ensuring to praise them for chewing the toy.

When your puppy is ready to go outside make sure that you lead the way, not the other way around. This will establish dominance with the puppy and they won’t pull you down the street as you try to walk them. Also take walks that your puppy can handle. Don’t try to force them to walk long distances at first, you can burn your puppy out with too much walking. But do walk your puppy daily.

Never train your dog using negative reinforcement. This will only teach your dog to fear you. Remember that your puppy is still a baby and needs your patience. Remain calm and know that your puppy will learn fast and before the month is out he/she will know where to go to the bathroom, sleep and eat. Enjoy your puppy because he/she won’t remain one forever.

Boarding Your Pet at a Kennel

130868What should you look for in a kennel when you board your pet? You want someone to care for your pet the same way you would, but how do you find that special place? The following are tips for finding the best care for you pet while you’re away from home.

* A knowledgeable staff with access to a vet. This will put your mind at ease, knowing that should there be an emergency regarding your pet while you’re away care is at hand, literally.

* The smell and clean appearance when you walk in. If you look around and don’t like what you see or smell this is a warning, it doesn’t matter how cheap the care is, the health of your pet is too important for you to pay someone to potentially neglect or possibly hurt your pet. Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t seem right, turn around and walk out the door.

* Ask about the room your pet will be residing in. If you can see it with your own eyes that would be perfect, but the possibility of you not being able to see the room yourself is high. You should ask about occupancy, exercise, and feeding schedules. You don’t want your pet in a cramped small room surrounded by other cramped unhappy animals. Inthe case of cats, you don’t want the litter box too close the cat’s food.

* Are pets required to have all their vaccinations up to date? Does your state perform kennel checks? If so make sure the kennel you’re using displays their state certificate to you.

* What services are you getting for your buck and how are the fees calculated.

If you do all this you can always ask your friends and vet for kennel recommendations as well. Usually a satisfying experience means the kennel is well maintained and staffed.

Pet Food

ID-100223399

What is in your pet’s food anyway? When you read the list of ingredients do names like chicken meal, or filler mean anything to you? Probably not. But here is what industry standards deem fit for your pet to eat.

Binders and Carbohydrate Sources
You might recognize these as the label calls them Corn/Rice Meal, Feeding Oat Meal, Grain Solubles, Cereal Food Fines, Brewers Rice, Soy Flour, Potato Byproduct, and/or Corn/Wheat Gluten Meal.

Some of these are used as protein source, but these are linked to diseases caused by a high intake of carbohydrates. The reason these protein sources are bad for animals is their systems are not designed for a diet containing grains. Others are binders to make the fat content in the food more like to stick or bind to other parts of the ingredients.

Most of these are used as protein supplements, but are unhealthy substitutions because cats, dogs and ferrets were never meant to eat these ingredients.

Additives
These are chemical agents such as Glyceryl Monostearates, Phosphoric Acid, Propolyne Glycol, and Powdered Cellulose.

These are used to keep the color and flavor consistent in the pet foods, as well as stopping the food from drying out. Glyceryl Monostearates is used to thicken the ingredient mixture ad should be avoided if possible. The cellulose is a pure filler and can be found in attic insulation.

Fat Sources
The ingredients list of fat sources includes Beef Tallow, Animal Fat, Lard, Poultry Fat, Vegetable Oil, and By Products.

The animal fat sources can come from a number of places, including road kill, euthanized animals, diseased/disabled/dying animals prior to slaughter. There is no guarantee that this ingredient came from a proper slaughter house.

Some of these ingredients replace the actual meat your pet should be eating, but it’s cheaper for pet food manufacturers to use these ingredients instead. There is no quality bar for these products and there is no industry regulations that state what is acceptable and what is not.

Most of these ingredients offer little to no nutritional value for your pet.

Fiber Sources
You might wonder why these are on the list of ingredients; Corn Cellulose, Corn Bran, Oat Hulls, Peanut Hulls, Rice Hulls, Soy Bean Mill Run, Wheat Mill Run, and Dried Beet Pulp.

As the title suggest these add the fiber to your animals diet to help encourage a balanced diet. However, again these add little to no nutritional value to your pet’s diet. In some cases these are floor sweepings from the left over production of human food.

Flavoring Agents and Protein Sources
A flavoring agent is used to make the taste appealing to your pet. These are labelled as Animal Digest, Digest, Flavor, Grandular Meal, Meat Meal, Bone Meal, and most foods ending in Meal.

These most often come from parts of the animal that aren’t fit for human consumption, such as hooves, tails, horns, feathers, hair, blood, hide trimmings, manure, stomach, and rumen.

These have very little nutritional value, but give the food a flavor that your pet will find suitable and some of the daily required protein.

Fruits and Vegetables
There are few fruits and vegetables actually in the food, but here are some of the by products of human food that find their way into our pet foods; Apple Pomace, Grape Pomace, and Citrus Pulp.

These are used to add fiber content to the food and nothing more.

Preservatives
BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate, and Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate and TBHQ are commonly used as preservatives in pet food. These are linked to chemicals that cause tumors and cancers in humans, but studies are still being conducted on their harmful effects on animals. Until there is clear evidence that these chemicals cause health problems in animals they will continue to use them in the pet foods.

Suppliments and Sweeteners
Supplements are used to give the pet food the calcium, minerals, and flavoring it needs to make it palatable as well as somewhat healthy for you animal. These ingredients include; Salt, Bone Phosphate, Mineral Oil, Yeast Culture, Yeast Fermentation Solubles, Propylene Glycol, Fructose, Corn Syrup, Cane Molasses, Sorbitol, DI-Alpha Tocopheral Acetate, and Sugar.

You may feel that there isn’t anything you can feed your pet, but there are some companies out there making all natural products for your pet. Here are a few websites to check out for a healthy alternative to grocery store brands or pet food.

Halo Pet Foods

Evive
Naturapet