Stress-free Homes Improve Health and Behavior of Cats and Rabbits

white rabbitTwo recent studies have highlighted the role that stress and boredom plays in pet behavior and health.  Although carried out on research colonies of cats and rabbits, both contain important lessons for pet owners.  Steps as simple as establishing a routine substantially reduced the pain associated with serious illnesses.

Novelty vs. Routine

Experience has taught me that stress plays a major role in the health of all captive creatures, be they insects or elephants.  While novelty and new experiences may be positives, established routines also have their uses.  Read More »

Till Death (Or Pets) Do Us Part – How Having Cats Changed My Marriage

I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for almost 17 years. Around our house, we refer to him as The Tall Guy. “We” being the cats and me. That’s how they sign their cards to him. Our cats were strays and they’re still independent in nature. Although I’d love to think they think of us as Mommy and Daddy, I’m pretty sure they see us solely as the two-legged creatures who appear to dole out the food.

We were married for six years before we had cats. Looking back, all I can think is, “What on earth did we do with all our time?” (I know what we’re doing with it now: Fighting a losing battle against cat hair.)

But there have been other changes since welcoming cats into our home, many I’m sure most pet lovers can relate to. Read More »

First Aid for Pets – Creating an Emergency Kit

Emergencies can happen at any time, and it is important to be prepared if they do. Lots of stores, including That Fish Place, sell ready-made first aid kits for dogs and cats, but I’ve composed a list of materials you will need in case of medical emergencies. Remember to store all of the listed items in a waterproof plastic container and keep it in a readily accessible place. Read More »

Rescue and Recovery – Lost and Injured Pets in Devastated Japan

Like the rest of the world I’ve been glued to the TV and newsfeeds watching and reading about the devastation caused by the earthquakes and resulting tsunami. The loss of life is staggering, but in tragedies like this I always wonder about the welfare of the animals that are also affected. What happens to the animals whose owners are missing, dead, or injured? Is anyone there to look out for them?

Base personnel in Misawa draw blood from VA search & rescue unit dog.

Organizations that provide food, supplies and shelter to aid our fellow human beings start campaigns to gather donations for the cause immediately. Mainstream organizations receive a lot of media attention and donations from the public. The organizations that provide care to our four-legged friends in need are less well-known, but they do exist, and you can help too! I’ve listed just a few of the organizations that are dedicated to helping the furry victims, as well as the furry aid workers, now in Japan.

Ark Bark – This amazing Japanese rescue group is gearing up for the arrival of homeless and displaced pets. They’re hard at work building additional shelters for the large amounts of pets already arriving. You can donate to the cause on their website, just add “for earthquake animals” in the notes.

Canine Assistance

World VetsWorld Vets provides veterinary aid all around the world. They are currently coordinating with other rescue organizations to provide care to Japan’s many lost or injured pets. Donations to the organization are tax deductible.

AKC’s Companion Animal Recovery Canine Support & Relief FundStarted in the wake of 9/11, this 501C 3 charitable organization’s mission is to fund canine search and rescue teams deployed throughout the world, wherever tragedy strikes. You can donate to their cause through the link above. Remember to note that it is on behalf of Japan.

The Annenberg Foundation – The Dog Bless You project harnessed the power of the Facebook community to donate $100,000 to Japan animal relief efforts. Check out their page here.

Photo credits:
The 1st photo was taken on March 13, 2011 in Misawa-shi, Aomori Prefecture, JP, and was posted by The Official US Navy Imagery.
The 2nd photo was taken March 11, 2011 and was posted by Fairfax County

A Home Away From Home – Foster Care Organizations for Pets of Deployed Military Personnel

BubblesMilitary service members across the country are deployed on active duty missions every day. Many of these people have pets that need a caring, safe and loving homes and families to care for them while their owners are deployed around the world. Some may not be able to find someone to care for their pets while they are away, leaving them with the agonizing and painful decision to relinquish their beloved pets and pet ownership rights to an animal shelter or rescue group. They may never to see their pets again or know if they found a new good home. Read More »

Virginia and Short-Tailed Opossums as Pets, with Notes on Heidi, a Cross-Eyed Star

OpossumA Virginia or North American Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, purchased from a fur farm for $5.00, was my first “large” wild animal pet.  I’ve since raised many orphaned youngsters, several of which became tame enough to use in educational programs.  So I’ve always had an affinity for North America’s only marsupial…but my enthusiasm is not shared by many.  I was, therefore, greatly surprised by the recent fame of a cross-eyed Opossum named Heidi, who resides in Germany’s Leipzig Zoo.

The First Opossum “Star”

Heidi’s journey to the zoo is interesting in and of itself – orphaned in North Carolina, she was reared at a nature center and eventually found her way to a zoo in Denmark, and from there to Germany.  But the key to her popularity is the appealing look of a face dominated by “unique eyes”.  Read More »

The Mongolian Gerbil’s Unusual Breeding and Social Behavior

Wild GerbilThe Mongolian Gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, is a common pet, but its life in the wild is anything but “common”.  In fact, its social structure and breeding habits are among the rodent world’s most unique.  Let’s take a look at what field research has revealed about this most interesting little creature. Read More »

Breaking News – Dog Surpasses Blood Test in Detecting Bowel Cancer

Canine NoseA specially-trained Labrador Retriever named Marine has made medical history by exhibiting an amazing degree of accuracy in detecting bowel cancer.  It is hoped that further studies will lead to new advances in cancer detection and treatment.

A Near-Perfect Performance

Marine was able to detect the presence of bowel cancer by sniffing either the breath or stool samples of 48 people that had previously been diagnosed with the disease.  The dog’s accuracy was rated at 95% for breath samples and 98% for stool samples, and was not affected by potentially confusing factors such as smoking or the presence of other gastro-intestinal problems.  Read More »

World’s Smartest Dog?…Border Collie can Identify 1,022 Objects

Border CollieResearchers at South Carolina’s Wofford College have announced that a Border Collie has been trained to identify over 1,000 objects.  Surprisingly, the clever dog, “Chaser”, can also differentiate between objects and actions involving them – grasping, in essence, the concept of nouns and verbs!

Surpassing Her “Trainers”

Summarized in a recent Behavioral Processes article, the Border Collie experiments are expected to shed light on just what it is that dogs understand when we speak to them.  The researchers (or ethologists, as animal behavior specialists are known) pointed out that they stopped introducing new objects at 1,022 due to time constraints – Chaser seemed willing and able to learn more.  In fact, her ability to remember all the objects seemed to exceed that of her human trainers! Read More »

The Bedding Dilemma – Choosing the Right Bedding for Your Small Pet

Hamster in shavingsSeasoned small animal owners tend to bicker over the smallest of details when it comes to the care of their pet. From food to free time, no one seems to agree on just one thing. When it comes to bedding though, there seems to be an all out war over which is best. As a small pet owner, I’ve used just about every variety of bedding on the market, and even I get confused sometimes. One will claim to have the best odor control, but it’s really dusty. Another will be softer and cuddlier for your pet sleep in, but it smells bad even when it’s clean. There is no perfect small animal bedding…but, there is probably be one that is best for your particular situation. There are pros and cons to all the small animal bedding types available. Here’s my break down on what to expect from the most popular types available. Read More »

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