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Making the skies feline friendly

Posted on: November 16th, 2007 by

By: Arden Moore

In my role as editor of Catnip, the author of 17 books on cats and dogs and an animal behavior consultant, I travel coast to coast to make presentations about pets. Usually, I fly solo and hire a professional pet sitter to take care of my two cats and my two dogs. They seem – well, the cats, Callie and Murphy – quite content to stay home while I hop form one time zone to the next.

My two dogs, Chipper and Cleo, are always up for any trip – be it a road trip, on a boat or on a plane. They just love sharing the chance to get from here to there with me.

I am about to embark on a national multi-city book tour to promote my latest releases, The Cat Behavior Answer Book and The Dog Behavior Answer Book. The tour is aptly being called, “Arden Moore Unleashed for a Pet-Friendly America.”

One of the “pre-tour” trips called for me to appear in New York City and to discuss cat behavior for a satellite media tour. About 20 big and small television news stations all over the country lined up to ask me about why cats do what they do.

The sponsors of this satellite media tour requested that I bring one of my own cats to New York. Murphy performs a lot of tricks, but unfortunately, she gets motion sickness and tends to make anything-but-pleasant vocals inside a carrier. The natural pick was Callie, my 12-year-old calm calico.

Callie has flown before – but it was seven years ago. So, I took the necessary steps to ensure her flight was as stress-free as possible. I booked a non-stop flight from San Diego and New York City and verified with the airlines that Callie was indeed listed as my travel mate. I recommend you do the same because airlines limit the number of pets who can travel in the cabin. Sometimes, that number per flight is as low as four.

I also had Callie receive a head-to-tail physical examination by my veterinarian who signed the necessary health certificate that airlines require. I also trained Callie to enjoy being inside a soft-sided, airline-approved carrier by feeding her favorite healthy treat inside it.

Callie’s packing needs included a harness, leash, an ID tag on her collar that listed my cell phone number (she also has a microchipped ID), an absorbent pad (in case of an accident), treats, collapsible water bowl and a small, comfy bed.

What I didn’t anticipate was the new rule at airport security screening areas. We’re all now used to taking off our shoes, pulling out our computer laptops and putting loose change and metal objects in the trays.

In addition, you are ordered to take your cat out of the carrier and hold her as you walk through the security sensor door. I was at a crowded airport full of impatient people wanted to get to their gates. I tried to remain calm as I removed Callie out of her carrier and held her tightly in my arms as we were screened.

Once I put her back in the carrier, I realized how lucky we were. Imagine if she had panicked and wiggled free and ran loose in a large airport?

The lesson I pass on to those of you who find the occasional need to have your cat join you on an airplane is to always fit your cat with a harness before putting her inside the carrier. At the airport, attach the leash to the harness as well. This way, when you are told to remove your cat from the carrier, the chances of escape are minimized.

As for Callie, her trip to the Big Apple was full of adventure. From the hotel window sill in our 20th floor room, she could watch tourists in Times Square and actually look down as some birds. She flirted with the TV cameras and tolerated being oohed and aahed and petted by feline fans at the studio and inside the hotel.

Now, it’s time for me to pack my suitcase and begin the official launch of the book tour. Callie is happy to remain and enjoy the comforts of home.

It’s Potty Time! Tips for Housetraining a Puppy or New Dog

Posted on: November 16th, 2007 by

Posted by Kim Campbell Thornton on 11/16/2007 in Training Tips Articles

Successful housetraining has one simple rule: consistency. Housetraining your puppy, or even an adult dog, will go more smoothly if you establish a potty schedule from day one. Taking a puppy out at the same times throughout the day helps establish in his mind that outside is the proper place to eliminate.

Let’s rundown seven tips for success, which apply to both puppies and adult dogs:

1. Recognize that puppies have a physiological need to eliminate when they wake up, after they eat, and after they’ve been active. Take your puppy out first thing in the morning, right after he eats, as soon as he wakes up from a nap, and after he’s through playing.

2. Don’t just send your pup outside and expect him to know what you want. Put him on leash and stay with him until he potties. Then praise him. “Good go potty!” This is how he learns that you want him to pee or poop outdoors.

3. Be determined. If your puppy doesn’t pee or poop when you take him outside, bring him back in and put him in his crate. Try again in 20 or 30 minutes. Don’t let him loose in the house until he has eliminated outside.

4. Heap on the praise. Bring a clicker and some treats with you every time you take the puppy out. As soon as he starts to potty, click once. When he’s finished, give him a treat. Puppies learn quickly that good things happen when they go outside to potty.

5. Understand your puppy’s physical limitations. Until a puppy matures physically, his bladder isn’t able to hold urine for long periods. Take your puppy out as often as possible. Set a kitchen timer as a reminder to take him out every hour or two when you’re home. When you’re not home, confine him to a crate or leave him in a puppy-proofed room, preferably one with an easy-clean tile or linoleum floor. Put papers on the floor to make cleanup easy.

6. Watch your puppy carefully. His body language can signal that he needs to go potty. Puppies who are good communicators may stare at you or jump up on you. Others stand at the door and look outside. Hang a bell on the door and ring it every time you take your puppy out to potty. He’ll soon learn to ring it himself when he needs to go out. If you see him sniffing and circling, hustle him outside fast!

7. Teach your puppy or dog to stay comfortably in a crate. Dogs are programmed not to eliminate where they sleep. Choose a crate that’s big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in but not so big that he can potty at one end and sleep at the other. To create positive associations, give your puppy a treat when he goes in the crate, feed him inside his crate, and don’t let the kids don’t bother him when he’s in it. He’ll view it as a cozy hideaway all his own.

Parting advice: Puppies need time to grow up. Don’t expect your tail-wagger to be reliably housetrained until he’s at least a year old and has had the benefit of a consistent schedule, consistent expectations, and consistent praise when he does the right thing.

Halloween Safety Tips for Spooktacular Pets

Posted on: October 31st, 2007 by

Posted by Pets Best on 10/31/2007 in Lifestyle

Happy Halloween! As pet owners everywhere gear up for the spookiest night of the year by shopping for costumes, getting out the doggie glow sticks and hiding the chocolate, we wanted to share a list of quick tips to help you and your pet have a spooktacular night.

Be sure to keep chocolate, raisins and other potentially harmful food away from pups. In some cases, chocolate has proven lethal.
Think like your pet. As cute as that Wonder Woman costume is, if your pet seems miserable, she probably is. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have her in it long enough to snap a few hundred photos or so! On the flip side, if your dachshund absolutely loves his new skunk costume or your Siamese makes the cutest devil you’ve ever seen, remember to supervise him closely as costumes can be easily chewed or caught in surrounding trees or bushes when outside trolling for candy.
Realize that children knocking and a doorbell ringing every few minutes will most likely create moderate to severe anxiety in your pets and trigger the protective instinct in dogs when it comes to guarding their pack. Providing them with a safe place to wait it out—like the bedroom or their crates—will help alleviate some of this anxiety.
If your pup is out on the sidewalk and streets, pick up a Halloween glowstick for his collar. Not only will the kids think it’s great, but he will be more likely to be seen by trick-or-treaters and drivers and not as likely to be trampled underfoot.
Lastly, as much as we hate to mention the tricksters of Halloween who seem to take pleasure in spoiling a perfectly good celebration, Halloween does seem to be the night that malicious pranksters enjoy preying on our precious pets. Knowledge is power, so understanding that not everyone that night has good intentions may prompt you to leave your furbabies in for the night. Know your neighborhood and realize that Halloween offers a chance for kids and teenagers to be naughty, as well as nice.

Be well, be safe and most of all, enjoy the fun!

Gearing Up for Winter: Preparing for Jack Frost Before He Comes

Posted on: October 31st, 2007 by

Brrrrrrr! Is it just us, or has anyone else noticed that winter is rapidly approaching? As the cooler nights begin, it’s more than just your car and house pipes that need winterizing. The outdoors for our four-legged friends can be more than just uncomfortable: they can be downright dangerous.

Shore up for winter by purchasing jackets and blankets with your pet in mind. Inexpensive blankets can be found at any local thrift store, but be careful as blankets have a tendency to trap moisture. No one wants to sleep in a wet bed! Also, be sure that if your pup is outside for more than a few minutes in a chilly environment that he has adequate shelter with lots of clean, thick bedding and clean drinking water (not frozen) at all times. One solution we have found to the frozen water dilemma is to purchase a heated water bowl. No more frozen water!

Dog houses can be warmed with hot water bottles, special heat-radiating pads or cedar chips. Some dog houses even come with their own electric heaters, though the risks should not be taken lightly. If the doghouse is wooden, be sure to raise it up off the ground several inches to prevent rotting and keep out rain, and cover the door of the dog house with a mat, piece of plastic carpet runner or carpet to provide an adequate door to keep out the snow and rain.

Remember, too, that dogs lose most of their heat through their paws, ears and skin, so extended exposure to cold will have an effect on them. Long-haired dogs like Elkhounds and Huskies fare better than smooth-coated dogs, Boxers and Greyhounds, for example.

All breeds, however, including cats, are susceptible to de-icing products, including salt. Be sure to wash their paws with warm water after walking on any of these substances.

Speaking of substances, be sure to monitor your car for any anti-freeze leaks and wipe them up immediately, as these can prove lethal for both cats and dogs. Also be sure to give a good tap to the hood before you start your car in the morning if you have kitties in your neighborhood who enjoy the warmth of your car motor. (Or if your own kitty sleeps in the garage at night.)

The general rule of thumb, as always, is to do unto others as you would have done unto you. Gearing up for winter before she comes blowing in will save you and your pets some frozen preparations later.

Anesthesia Advances for Dogs and Cats

Posted on: October 16th, 2007 by

Posted by Kim Campbell Thornton on 10/16/2007 in General Articles

Managing pain in pets has always been a challenge because they can’t say where or how much they hurt. Up until 10 or 15 years ago, little was known about how animals experienced pain, and few drugs were available that could help. Of course, pets have always received anesthesia for surgeries, but beyond that not much was done about recognizing or treating any pain they might be feeling.

But thanks to owner concern about pain and anxiety, plus veterinarians’ own interest in animals, things have changed. New anesthesia techniques and medications help animals feel better and recover more quickly.

With their increased knowledge, veterinarians can use pain relief in new ways before (pre-emptive analgesia), during and after surgery. These include epidurals, constant rate infusion, and regional blocks.

Pre-emptive analgesia consists of treating pain before it happens by giving drugs that will last for several hours, well into the recovery period following surgery.

Drugs can also be delivered through an epidural, an injection into the epidural space of the spine. Epidurals help prevent pain in the abdomen and lower part of the body, so they’re especially beneficial for animals undergoing orthopedic procedures.

A technique called constant rate infusion (CRI) delivers an ongoing, constant-flow delivery of pain-relieving drugs over a period of time.

The CRI drugs target pain receptors in the spinal cord and brain, preventing pain signals from reaching the cortex, the brain’s central processing center. Each drug works on different receptors, producing a complementary effect. These very small doses, trickled into the body, block pain but don’t block physiologic functions such as breathing and heart activity.

If you’ve ever had a cavity filled – or worse, a root canal – you know what a regional block is—that shot of Novocain that numbs your face. Regional blocks, also known as nerve blocks or local blocks, obstruct the nerves that would otherwise carry pain signals to the brain, making them an important means of preventing pain in pets having surgery. Examples include the injection of local anesthetic along an incision line prior to surgery and facial blocks during dental procedures.

The way that general anesthesia is induced has changed as well. The most up-to-date method is intravenous injection of induction drugs, a more controlled way of putting a pet under anesthesia.

Advances in anesthesia techniques have made veterinary surgery relatively risk-free, but anesthetic care should be tailored to each individual animal to ensure a safe and comfortable anesthetic experience. Your veterinarian should have a plan for what things are especially important to monitor in addition to routine monitoring.

Before your pet undergoes surgery, ask your veterinarian:

Will my pet get a pre-anesthetic assessment?
Blood work to check kidney, liver and bone marrow function can identify abnormalities or infections that might make anesthesia a risk. That info can help your veterinarian make necessary anesthesia modifications to make it safer for your pet.

Will my pet have intravenous fluids while it’s anesthetized?
IV fluids help prevent dehydration and low blood pressure, which can be associated with anesthesia.

Will a qualified person be monitoring my pet’s vital signs?
Your veterinarian’s technician should be trained in the latest anesthesia and monitoring techniques, including monitoring blood pressure.

Will my pet’s blood pressure be monitored during surgery?
Blood pressure gives your veterinarian ongoing knowledge about your pet’s condition throughout surgery.

What emergency procedures and drugs are in place in the event of a complication?
These should include intravenous catheters placed so that drugs can be rapidly injected in the event of a reaction to anesthesia or a change in heart rate.

Will my pet be kept warm during and after surgery?
Cats and dogs can become cold during anesthesia and surgery, especially if they’re small or thin. Maintaining their body temperature not only keeps them comfortable, it helps ensure that the body does a better job of metabolizing pain drugs.

Although it was a long time coming, managing pain in animals is one of the defining issues of veterinary medicine in this new century. Because of it, animals recover more quickly, stay more comfortable, and regain their appetite sooner.

You can find more information about pain management at the web site of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (ivapm.org).