Common Small Animal Myths – Debunking Bad Publicity – Part 1

Having worked at That Fish Place’s Small Animal Room for nearly 6 years, I’ve heard many a misconception from customers. Most of this I attribute to the grape vine effect. One person has a bad experience with a pet, tells someone else about it, and then that story gets embellished or added upon over time, until it becomes a completely fictional story. Today, I’d like to debunk some of the more commonly heard myths I’ve heard over the years. Read More »

Pet Fire Safety Check – How Does Your Home Compare?

Dog lying by open flameLast Thursday was National Pet Fire Safety Day. A house fire has always been one of my greatest fears so when the AKC put out their tips on avoiding this potential tragedy I was shocked to learn that almost 1,000 house fires last year were actually started by the family pets themselves. Some of the pet fire safety tips the AKC gave were obvious to me, but others were more subtle. Planning for the unexpected tragedy is an integral part of responsible pet ownership.

How to prevent your pet from starting fires

Extinguish open flames – Curious by nature, pets will often investigate candles or stovetops. Never leave an open flame, such as a candle or gas stove, unattended and be sure to double check that all flames have been put out before leaving your home. Read More »

Cool Treats for Hot Dogs – Tasty and Creative Frozen Snacks to Beat Summer Heat

It’s the middle of July, and as we brace ourselves for the next heat wave, I’m thinking of ways to keep my pup cool, too. The evening news features footage of zookeepers serving frozen treats to captive animals – from frozen bananas and fruit juice to whole frozen fish and bloodcicles (awesome if you’re a tiger, I suppose) none of the animals deny a frozen treat for a few minutes of relief from these oppressive temperatures. So, what can we offer our pets at home? There are plenty of options. Read More »

Exotic Pet Possibilities, Part 2 – Sugar Gliders, Degus, Hedgehogs and Spiny Mice

Sugar GliderPygmy Mice, Ground Squirrels, Civets – all sorts of interesting small mammals have found their way into the pet trade and are regularly being bred.  Please see Part I of this article for a look at my favorite, the Flying Squirrel. Today I’d like to introduce several others that I’ve enjoyed keeping and learning about.

Note:Please see Part I of this article for health-related and legal considerations.  Read More »

Bird Toys – Not Just for the Birds!

I’ve owned my female gray cockatiel, Charlie, for 13 years, and still I haven’t developed the knack for figuring out what toys she will love and hate. She is a very picky girl and can take weeks to even glance at any new toy I give her, let alone play with it. Needless to say, this has resulted in a lot of perfectly good bird toys being stowed away in the cabinet never to be enjoyed. I thought I was wasting a lot of money on things that Charlie didn’t even like, and decided to experiment. Read More »

Product Recall – UPG Voluntarily Recalls Pet Nutritional Supplements Due to Salmonella Risk

Red-bellied Piranha Jawbone” width=United Pet Group has expanded their voluntary recall of several popular vitamins and nutritional supplements this week due to the possibility of Salmonella contamination.  Several Pro-pet and Excel line tablets are included in the recall. For a complete listing of products and lots affected by the recall click here.  Though there have been no confirmed cases of illness, the company is recalling the products as a precaution. If you currently administer a vitamin supplement to your pet, please take a moment to read over the recalled product listing/press release to be sure the products you may have are safe to handle and administer.

Exotic Pet Possibilities – Part 1 – Flying Squirrels

Flying SquirrelAn amazing array of unusual small mammals have long been bred in captivity and sold within a rather small circle of exotic pet enthusiasts. Some, such as Fennec Foxes and Bennett’s Wallabies, are suitable only for well-experienced keepers with ample room and resources while others, including Servals and Coatimundis, can be downright dangerous and are best enjoyed in zoos or the wild. Today I’d like to introduce an animal that, while not suitable as a “first-time pet”, is a great choice for experienced hobbyists looking to expand their pet-keeping horizons. I’ll cover captive care in greater detail in future articles and move on to Sugar Gliders, Degus, Hedgehogs and Spiny Mice in Part 2.

Note: Be sure to check your state’s laws regarding exotic pets…please write in if you need help in locating this information.

It is imperative that you locate an experienced exotic mammal veterinarian before deciding to keep any of the animals mentioned below. You should also consult with your family doctor regarding any potential health hazards. Read More »

July 4th Fun & Fireworks – Pet Anxiety & Safety Tips

The July 4th Holiday is upon us, and unfortunately it is one of the busiest times for animal shelters due to the overwhelming amount of dogs lost during the fireworks & festivities. The fireworks may be fun for us, for some of our canine friends it can be downright terrifying.

During fireworks displays, or even while setting off fireworks in your backyard and neighborhood, your usually calm family pet may become extremely stressed. The stress overload can cause some pets to try to escape the house or yard. By following a few simple tips for this holiday weekend you can avoid coming home to an empty house and the anxiety of a missing beloved family pet.

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  • Avoid bringing your pet to fireworks displays, even if they are not usually startled by loud noises or thunder.
  • Keep your pet indoors in a quiet, safe, sheltered area. Keep doors and windows closed and locked (I’ve heard stories of dogs opening slider doors or even jumping through windows to escape). Leave the TV on or play soothing music at a normal level to distract him from the noise outside
  • Prepare a safe “den” for your pet. If they choose to hide under the bed, in their crate or somewhere else in the house, allow them to. If your dog is not crate trained, and you would like him to be please visit our comprehensive crate training guide.
  • Feed your pet before the displays begin and keep a special chew treat on hand as a distraction.
  • Nervous or stressed dogs may chew to ease anxiety. Make sure to provide proper chew toys and make sure all cords and other dangerous objects are out of reach
  • Try a calming aid to help calm anxiety, or ask your vet for medication to help with your pet’s noise phobia.
  • Do not leave your pet outside during the festivities. Even with a fence or a tie-out a dog can go to great lengths to escape the source of their anxiety.
  • Always make sure your pet is wearing a properly fitted dog collar with up-to-date ID tags. Consider having your pet microchipped for extra security.
  • Try not to reward anxiety with extra attention. It may be hard not to cuddle or fawn over your pet when he is scared, but do your best to ignore axious behavior or practice distraction techniques to turn their focus away from commotions.

Follow these simple steps to enjoy a worry free Independence Day. The knowledge that your family pets are safe and sound will make your holiday all the more fun. Have a great holiday weekend!

Severe Weather can also be very stressful on our pets. Check out this post for tips on keeping you pets calm during severe weather.

Feral Ferrets – Domestic Ferrets Gone Wild!

The domestic ferret did not originally exist as a distinct species, but rather was produced via selective breeding of its wild relative, the European polecat (Mustela putorius).  Please see our article Ferret Facts for more information on the ferret’s surprising history.

Despite centuries of domestication, ferrets retain many of their wild ancestors’ instincts.  In the following article, we’ll take a look at the “wild side” of ferret life.

Domestic Ferrets in the Wild

Both ferrets and polecats have been released in New Zealand (1879-1886) as a rabbit control measure.  Today a huge population of ferret-polecat hybrids occupies the island.  Along with introduced stoats (a Eurasian ferret relative) and weasels, they have decimated populations of several flightless birds…the rabbits remain relatively unphased!  Read More »

Animal Cruelty and Abuse – Understanding the Law and Reporting Violators

Lab_animal_careDespite the many people and groups involved in animal welfare and conservation, the sad fact is that animal abuse and neglect remains a serious problem USA.  Unfortunately, the relevant laws are quite confusing and lack uniformity, and it is often difficult which agency is responsible for enforcing them.  It is worthwhile, however, to learn as much as you can about how to proceed – most enforcement authorities are poorly staffed, and rely almost exclusively upon citizen complaints for leads.

State and Federal Laws

Animal abuse is a crime in all 50 states, and almost all aspects of the problem are controlled by state law.  The only areas covered by a federal law (the Animal Welfare Act) are commercial animal breeding facilities, zoos, circuses and research labs.

Details, such as what constitutes abuse or neglect and how the laws are actually enforced, vary from state to state.  In some states, various types of illegal situations (i.e. dog-fighting, neglect in pet stores, abused animals in private residences) are handled by different law-enforcement agencies.  Read More »

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