When thinking of house pets, pigs may not immediately come to mind. Most often we associate pigs with kid’s movies, farms, mud, and…bacon. However a few species of domesticated pig have grown in popularity considerably since the 1980’s, when people began to keep for a new kind of house pet. A pet that would be intelligent, affectionate, easy to train, and above all, clean. The new trend would turn heads…Potbelly Pigs! A few weeks ago I saw one of these little critters first hand, on the end of a harness, proudly strutting down the dog toy aisle with his short tail a-waggin’, and I had to stop and gawk. I will admit pigs have always intimidated me because of their large size and loud vocalizations, but after getting to know a few pigs first hand and doing a little reading, I must admit the thought of having one is pretty appealing. Let me share with you a little about the care of the most popular type of pig, the Pot-belly. Read More »
Animal fans often have difficulty finding hands-on animal work, and most animal shelters are underfunded and cannot hire enough help. Volunteering at a shelter is, therefore, a win-win situation….as most who have volunteered at anything will attest, the helper benefits as much as the “helped”.
Typical Volunteer Duties
Hands-on animal work at shelters may involve walking, grooming or bathing dogs, cleaning cages and preparing food. Many volunteers find interacting with dogs, parrots, cats and other animals in need of human contact to be a very pleasurable aspect of their experience. In doing so, they make the residents’ stay more pleasant, and fulfill their desire for close contact with a variety of creatures.
People with other skills can often help out in office work, fund-raising or educational programs. Read More »
A couple of months ago I switched my dogs’ & cats’ diets to a homemade one. Every Saturday I spend an hour or two in the kitchen cooking brown rice, vegetables, chicken, and various giblets. I measure vitamin supplements with care. Every week is the same: I cook, measure, mix, puree (for the cats), and generally stink up my house. I was beginning to wonder if it was all worth it. Sure, making homemade food is less expensive than buying a quality dog food that passed my rigorous inspection of the ingredients and nutritional content, but was it really worth all the effort?
In short, yes, I would say it is totally worth the effort. First of all, I know exactly what is in the food that I feed my animals. I know that the mean they are eating is a quality cut and that they are getting every bit of nutrition that they need. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a lot of changes that justifies (to me) all the effort I put in to making my pets’ meals. The first changes I noticed were a reduced number of bowel movements, which were a smaller and a lot less offensive smelling. The dogs smelled better and needed bathed less frequently. Among other improvements I noticed Gatsby’s fur becoming less greasy and straw-like and much softer with less shedding. Who can complain about less shedding?
One change that I had hoped to see (but have not) was a reduction or end Gatsby’s repeat ear infections and itchy paws. I read that removing corn, soy, preservatives and other allergens while adding Omega 3 and 6 supplements to his diet might alleviate his frequent ear infections and other allergy symptoms. It hasn’t happened yet, in fact, Gatsby just had another ear infection last week. So, it’s off to the Vet’s office again to discuss our next move.
The cats didn’t take to their new food as well as I had hoped. They still prefer dry cat food. I switched them to a higher quality brand of cat food and continually try to supplement their food with fresh meat, fish and greens. Their fur is much softer, though they still shed enough hair to create a new animal every week or so!
Golden Retriever eating treat image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Denhulde
Tigers and other big cats rival Pandas as “conservation darlings”…so much so, that an Africa-based colleague of mine recently commented that she doubted there was “…a single Cheetah alive that had not been radio-collared and filmed chasing down a Gazelle”! However, 30 of the 37 known cat species are small, secretive creatures that, lacking the glamour of their larger relatives, are disappearing without generating much notice. The plight of Chinese Desert Cats, Flat Headed Cats, Iriomote Cats, Kodkods and other rare felines should be of concern to all, especially Domestic Cat owners – after all, many taxonomists consider the Domestic Cat to be a mere subspecies of the African Wild Cat, and not a distinct species at all. Read More »
It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a decade since the Twin Towers fell. Each year we bow our heads in remembrance of those lost and in honor of those who worked tirelessly in the days and weeks following that fateful day. Some don’t remember or don’t know that service dogs played a vital role in search, rescue and recovery at those disaster sites. I came across this video tribute to the service dogs who worked the Trade Center site, and I really think it is something for everyone to see. Please watch the video and remember these magnificent animals for their past and present service.
Like most people of my generation, I was raised on Disney. The characters, theme parks and merchandise were and are still part of my life. I’ve probably seen every one of their animated films at least twice. You could even go so far as to call us Disney nuts! When I come to work each day, I am reminded of how Disney has and continues to influence generations of children, their parents and grandparents, especially with some of the more recent movies. Animals have always been the main or supporting characters in Disney animation. These endearing characters tend to sway families towards new pets. You can bet that if an animal was recently featured in a popular kid’s movie, those animals are sure to be in high demand in the pet trade. While they fuel interest in the animals and bring revenue to the industry, the films can be detrimental to the well being of the animals. It is important to remember that the fun and cuddly critters on the big screen may not necessarily be true representatives of the animals they represent. Read More »
In 1984 a new breed of cat became recognized into the International Cat Association, and since then it has become one of, if not the most popular cat breed in the United States today. I am of course talking about the sleek and stylish Bengal, which is in my opinion the Maserati of cat breeds. Originally crossed from the wild Asian Leopard cat, this cute, adventurous, and sometimes trouble making feline has worked its way into the hearts and homes of cat enthusiasts everywhere, including mine. Detracting from my usual blogs on small animals, I’d like to share with you a little bit about this cat and why I ended up with one.
The genetic make-up of the original Bengal went further than just an average house cat and a wild animal. They share traits with many other breeds including Egyptian Mau, Burmese, Abyssinian, and the American Shorthair. The producer of the Bengal breed was an American named Jean Sudgen, who crossed a black tom cat with a female Asian Leopard cat in the 1960s. From then on, further crossing experiments eventually gave way to the breed we know and love today. The Bengal combines the beautiful patterns of wild cats with the affectionate, adaptable personality of the domesticated cat, giving cat lovers a little taste of the wild with the convenience of being able to keep their pets just like any other house cat. Read More »
National Dog Day is celebrated August 26th annually and serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, and acknowledges family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe, and bring comfort. Dogs put their lives on the line every day – for their law enforcement partner, for their blind companion, for a child who is disabled, for our freedom and safety by detecting bombs and drugs and pulling victims of tragedy from wreckage.” (www.nationaldogday.com)
Take a moment to say ‘Thank you’ to your dog today. Something as simple as an extra belly rub or a special treat will be appreciated. Think about donating to your local animal shelter, or host a special dog-gathering with friends. Maybe even think about adding to your fur family on National Dog Day. Whatever you do, remember to celebrate all the wonderful things that dogs do for us each and every day.
In Part 1, I explained how to choose a quality dog food from the plethora of brands and flavors on the market. The alternative to commercial diets is creating and preparing your pet’s food at home. This option has gained popularity in recent years with the contamination scares and movements to improve our own diet and health.
Feeding Raw or Homemade Diets
Before the invention of dog food, household pets were fed “people food”. These types of diets worked because they were as varied and nutritious as their owner’s diets, and foods were not filled with preservatives and other impossible to pronounce ingredients. We are now starting to see more disease, allergies, and illness in our pets, and it could have something to do with the quality of the food we are feeding our animals. I like to imagine how I feel when I’ve eaten badly for a few days – say nothing but pizza, chips, & soda. I feel run down and sluggish, my immune system is craving vitamins and nutrients that junk foods don’t provide. A diet like that can be compared to feeding a low quality pet food. Imagine going your whole life on nothing but junk food and preservatives. Thankfully, the pet food industry is following suit and has steadily been improving their offerings. Read More »