Kids and pets have different ideas of fun

Most cats don't enjoy the entertaiment that small children doFamilies may frequently have trouble getting their young children and their pets to coexist and share an enjoyable relationship. One animal behavior expert advises the kids may need to be taught to change their behavior to keep dogs and cats happy.

Mary Burch, director of the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen program and certified animal behavior analyst, counsels that pet owners wishing to promote a positive relationship with their dogs or cats must fulfill two pet needs, the News Tribune reports.

"First, the owner would need to meet basic needs – food, water, exercise," says Burch. "The second thing is positive experiences – playtime, brushing, training."

The expert believes that problems commonly arise in pet care when small children play with animals in ways that are distressing to the pets. While kids may have fun poking a sleeping cat or pulling the tail of an eating dog, these actions can irritate animals, leading to poor relationships.

According to Burch, most animals are also upset by shrill voices, quick motions and loud sounds. Namely, "Animals want to feel safe and loved, they don’t like being teased."

The Best Friends Animal Society recommends that no child under one-year old should be left unsupervised with a pet.

Veterinarian: Calorie counting helps optimize pet health

One vet worries that dogs and cats are overeatingA veterinarian and professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University recently released guidelines for cat and dog owners who are concerned with pet health.

Through advice and education, Dr Susan Nelson is attempting to curb the troubling trend that, in recent years, more pets are becoming obese.

The veterinarian points out that overweight pets could benefit from their owners counting calories and strictly apportioning only the amount of food suitable for the dog or cat. She notes that manufacturers of pet food have begun listing nutritional information on the package, including calorie content.

Given the type of food a dog or cat is eating, the animal’s metabolism, and the typical exercise patterns of the pet, Nelson says a veterinarian will be able to make a recommendation on an ideal calorie intake.

"Generally, I tell people that unless your pet is overweight, go with the guidelines on the food bag," Nelson said. "If the pet is a little overweight, you should feed it for its ideal weight and not for its current weight." Finally, she explains, calories from treats should not exceed 10 percent of the pet’s diet.

The online magazine Dog Owner’s Guide recommends a premium meat or fish-based food with about 25 percent protein and 13 percent fat for optimal nutrition in puppies and grown dogs.

Dog dentists could save lives

Dog dentists could save livesExperts in the veterinary field have cautioned dog owners that poor dental health in their pets could case life-threatening diseases.

A veterinary columnist for the Irish Independent recently published warnings and advice to dog owners that indicate the benefits of canine dental checkups far exceed a sparkling smile for the pup.

The writer indicates that complications such as abscesses in organs, kidney failure and endocarditis could begin with infections of the gums or oral cavity and ultimately deteriorate the pet’s health and shorten its life.

Doctors Foster & Smith, a Wisconsin based operator of animal hospitals and pet supply cataloger, warns that the buildup of tartar under a dog’s gums may result in the accumulation of bacteria and eventually periodontal disease. According to their Pet Education website, "As bacterial growth continues to increase, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves, liver kidneys."

The pet experts say that treatment by veterinarians can stop the disease from developing further, and daily oral care at home with a regular human toothbrush can prevent the affliction at the start.

Doctors Foster & Smith says dog owners should watch for bad breath, red or swollen gums, discolored teeth, or strange bumps as indications to visit a veterinarian.

This little piggy went to the pet store

The teacup pig is becoming a popular petA pet breeder in England has raised a new type of miniature pig which families across the UK are brining into their homes as a pet.

Dubbed the teacup pig, new pet sensation grows from about 9 ounces at birth to a full growth of about 12 to 16 inches at the age of 2, MSNBC reports. The pigs, which do not typically grow to more than 65 pounds, are a breed between potbellied pigs and the Tamworth, Kune Kune and Gloucester Old Spot breeds.

Jane Croft, the 42-year-old breeder of the minute animals told the news source, "They make fantastic pets. They’re really clean. They’re highly intelligent and just love to be loved. They give so much back to you."

Croft sells the pigs in England for up to $1,100 each. Despite the relatively high cost for the pets, the breeder says she has had to work 14-hour days in order to keep up with the high demand in the UK.

The animals are not officially available in the U.S., but many believe the petite pigs will be bred and sold here shortly.

Though full-sized pigs were popular pets about 20 years ago, Pigs Sanctuary, a shelter in West Virginia reported housing over 200 abandoned pigs during the 1990s.

Survey shows gap in knowledge about pet diets

Many pet owners are in the dark when it comes to nutritional pet foodAccording to a recent survey, approximately 60 percent of pet owners do not know how to select the most nutritional food to optimize their pet’s needs.

The research, commissioned by pet retailer PETCO, revealed that 79 percent of people with pets believe their pet’s nutrition to be important or critical.

However, 57 percent of respondents did not know how to evaluate the nutritional value of pet food by reading the label, 59 percent could not identify nutritious ingredients and 61 percent could not differentiate between basic, premium, natural and organic pet foods.

After receiving the results to this survey, PETCO began a nutrition education program which will provide detailed training to experts in each store. One company official hopes that the program will disseminate the message to consumers concerned with pet health as well.

Rick Rockhill, vice president of merchandise for PETCO revealed one tip, and advised dog and cat owners not to rely on diets typically deemed healthy for humans such as low-fat, unprocessed foods. "Dogs and cats actually get most of their energy from fat and have an easier time digesting foods that have been correctly processed."

HousePet Magazine further warns that dogs and cats are susceptible to bacteria in meat such as salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli and Listeria.

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