As Easter 2014 draws to a close, I'm hoping that most people handed out stuffed bunnies and chicks instead of the real thing. Unfortunately, pet stores stock up on rabbits and guinea pigs at this time of year, and people buy them impulsively, only to balk when they realize that these cute little critters need a lot of care.
Bunnies and guinea pigs aren't "starter pets," even though they're often viewed that way, and they're certainly not toys. If you did add a new pet to your home for Easter, I urge you to do some research to make sure you care for it correctly. You'll find a lot of great rabbit care information in this video.
While bunnies are the most popular furry Easter gift, some families opt for guinea pigs, thinking they're smaller and can't hop around, so they're easier to care for. As the owner of two guinea pigs, including one that was an Easter cast-off, I can assure you that they're actually quite delicate and high maintenance. For example, there are certain things they need and certain things you should never give them, which you can learn about in this article. They also need more space than you might think, which you can learn more about here.
If you got a pet for Easter, I urge you not to dump it when you realize that it's a lot of work. All pets, even small ones, should be lifetime members of the family, not toys to be discarded when the novelty wears off.
We've all heard tales that assure us cats have nine lives and that they can survive falls from great distances. It's not something I'd like to test out, but one cat in Celebration, Florida, seemed to bear those stories out as he made a leap of faith and survived a massive apartment fire.
The cat was in a third floor apartment, and the roof was entirely engulfed in flames after a lightning strike. Finally he jumped and miraculously survived with burned paws and other minor injuries. There's a photo below, and you can see the entire video, shot by John Cooke, on the News 13 website.
Happily, he was reunited with his owner. It was an even more poignant reunion because the entire 24 unit apartment building was destroyed, and the residents lost all their possessions. Material items can be replaced, but nothing can replace that special furry friend.
You can't predict a lightning strike, but Florida also has hurricanes and every part of the country has its own natural disasters, like earthquakes and tornadoes. Sometimes you get some warning, and that's why it's critically important to have an emergency evacuation kit if you have pets. Want to know what should be in it? Find out here.
You may already know that your dog hates kennels, whether you put him in a crate overnight or when you go out or whether you have to board him at a kennel facility. My own dog, Bolt, went crazy in his crate when I first adopted him because he has such bad separation anxiety. Fortunately it's gotten much better now, and I don't need to crate him anymore, but it's a necessary evil for some dogs.
Researchers have found that kenneled dogs exhibit major signs of stress, and some even act mentally ill. You can read more about the study on the government's PubMed site. What do you do when you have to go out of town but don't want to kennel your dog? You can read about my solution here. I use Rover.com, a great online service that matches pet owners with people willing to watch them in their homes. Bolt stays with a Rover.com sitter who has a dog of her own, so it's more like an extended play date than boarding for him.
Other alternatives include looking for a pet sitter who comes right to your house or getting a friend to watch your dog in exchange for returning the favor later. Whatever you do, providing a more home-like environment will prevent your dog from being as stressed out as the canines in the study.
The Robert Abady Dog Food Co. is recalling its Abady Highest Quality Maintenance & Growth Formula for Cats because of possible salmonella contamination. The food was sold in stores and online throughout the country.
The recalled product comes in two, five, and 15 pound corrugated boxes with plastic liners. They're marked on the top right hand side of the box with Lot # 14029/21.
If you have this food for your cat, return it to the store where you bought it for a full refund. If you have questions, call the company at 845-473-1900. They're open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. You can read more on the Food and Drug Administration website.
I've got some good advice for how to deal with a cat or dog food recall in this article.
Did you know that the month of April honors pets in several different ways? Here's a list of thee month-long celebrations centered around our animal companions:
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month: The ASPCA's charter was signed in April, 1866, and it urges pet owners and animal lovers to use the color orange to bring awareness to the issue of animal cruelty. You can find out more on the ASPCA's April awareness web page.
National Heartworm Awareness Month: The American Heartworm Society brings attention to this potentially deadly threat to dogs in April. The weather is just starting to get warmer in many parts of the country, meaning that the risk is on the rise. Learn more on their website.
Pet First Aid Awareness Month: If one of your pets faces an emergency, are you prepared? Check out the American Red Cross website for more information on common problems and how to be ready to handle them.
I recommend having emergency evacuation supplies ready for your pets. Check out this article for a list of what you should keep on hand.
I'm still busily working my way through all the products I learned about at the 2014 Global Pet Expo. In the past, I've reviewed nano aquariums like the Fluval Edge and Spec, which I really like for betta keeping. At the Expo, I met the Reef One team and learned about their BiOrb aquariums. They sent me two models to review, so I'm currently in the process of cycling them so my bettas, Cartman and Klaus, can try them out.
Here's what the two gallon Baby BiOrb looks like when it's in the process of being set up.
It's a great size for a betta or a few small fish, and it's extremely easy to set up. I'll be posting a full review once Klaus has some time to settle in so I can see how he likes it. Thus far, it gets my seal of approval for easy novice set-up, so hopefully he'll enjoy his new digs.
Diamond Pet Foods, which was at the center of a dog and cat food recall in 2011 and 2012, has settled a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of pet owners whose animals were affected by the food.
According to Legal Newsline, the company is creating a fund of up to $750,000 to cover claims from people who bought the pet food. They'll get reimbursement for up to two bags per pet.
There's also a fund of up to $1.25 million to cover the second class of claimants who incurred veterinary expenses because their animals got sick from the food. They'll get back their veterinary costs for testing and treatment of illnesses caused by the tainted food. Those whose pets died can also claim the fair market value of the animal.
An additional class of claimants can receive pet food coupons for up to $2. The company will distribute up to 50,000 coupons.
If you were affected by the Diamond Pet Food Recall, you have until July 11 to submit a claim form. The final hearing on the case will be held on September 15.
A while back, I did a quick overview on the Fluval Edge and Spec fish tanks I received from the company to review. It's been a few months now, so in case you're wondering how my bettas are doing and what I think of the tanks now that I've cared for them for a while, I just did an update.
You can read my full review of the Fluval Edge here.
My betta, Cartman, is very content in the Edge, and I like it quite a bit myself. It's easy to care for, and I've only run into one notable challenge. Want to know what it is? Check out the article!
I love it when I get to review a useful product that I'll use on a daily basis in my home. The latest such product was Feed Safe, an ingenious way to keep your dog out of your cat's food.
I've always cringed in households where people feed their cats up on the kitchen counters. I'm not a pet snob by any means, as the pet hair tumbleweeds and messy furniture in my home will instantly tell you. But somehow I just can't get over the mental hurdle of feeding the cats on a human food prep surface.
Feed Safe has you covered, as long as your dog is bigger than your cat. It has an adjustable door so the cat can get in while the dog's locked out by its size. You probably get the general idea from the photo above, but jump to this article for the full details and my complete review.
Dental chews are a huge product category because every responsible pet parent wants to make sure that his or her dog's teeth stay clean, white, and healthy. However, we prefer to avoid having a full-scale cleaning that involves anesthesia when possible.
A good dental health routine can help prevent the need for those cleanings. There are many different options, from doggy mouthwash to toothbrushes to special toys, that help maintain good dental hygiene for your pup. One of my favorite ways to help Bolt clean his teeth is with treats, since he gets a goodie that also provides an important benefit.
If your dog is a Milk Bone fan, watch for new Milk Bone Brushing Chews, a useful treat from the makers of the venerable crunchy bone-shaped goodies. Bolt already loves their snack-sized treats and trail mix. He received a sample box of the new dental chews from our friends at Milk Bone, and I wasn't surprised when he decided they were very tasty, too. They had an appealing aroma and, apparently, a taste to match.
The treats are shaped in a way that helps them to rid your dog's teeth of plaque, and as you can see in the photo below, Bolt works them as good as any person with a toothbrush. I give him a dental chew every day, and so far his vet reports that his teeth are in great shape. They also have vitamins and minerals, including calcium, for some added benefits.
I like the fact that you can find Milk Bone products in pretty much any big store. They come in different sizes and have a chicken flavor that should make them attractive to most dogs. If you happen to spot them, I recommend giving them a try. Dogs love treats, so it's all the better if you can give them goodies with a purpose. Doling out dental treats might just prevent some big vet bills and major mouth treatments down the road.