Pit Bull – A Notorious Name and a Ruined Reputation

Pit BullFor many people the term “pit bull” typically brings several negative images immediately to mind.  Images of a muscular dog on the end of a thick chain guarding a junkyard; a news report of a child being killed by a pack of ferocious dogs; the underbelly of the inner city where dog fighting rings play their disgusting games. “Pit Bulls” have earned a stigma as brutes, fighters, and even killers. I have to admit that if I were to come across the stereotypical “pit bull” in a dark alley, I would certainly be looking for the quickest way out of there. But, in my entire career in animal care, I have never come across a true pit bull, at least not the dog that fits that notorious label. Read More »

The Domestic Ferret’s Interesting Relatives

TayraMammalogists consider the Domestic Ferret to be a distinct species (Mustela furo) and “domesticated” in the true sense of the word.  Most ferret owners can easily see, however, that 2,000+ years of captive breeding has not erased all traces of their pets’ origins.  Today I’d like to give you a brief overview of the Domestic Ferret’s wild relatives.

What Sort of Creature is the Domestic Ferret?

The Domestic Ferret is classified within the Order Carnivora, Family Mustelidae.  Within the Mustelidae we find 75-80 species of Weasels, Otters, Skunks, Badgers, Wolverines and related animals (skunks have been re-classified by some taxonomists).  Read More »

Pet Obesity

Big and RoundObesity in pets is becoming an epidemic and is a top health concern for pets according to veterinarians. It is estimated that 54 million cats and 34 million dogs in the US are clinically obese. Many pet owners struggle with keeping their pets at an ideal weight…it’s hard to deny those puppy dog eyes and we just want our pets to be happy, right, so why can’t they have a few extra treats if they want them? Unfortunately, a few extra pounds can be detrimental. The excess weight on our pets can cause a variety of other health problems, the same way obesity can have adverse effects on human health.  A few extra pounds on a dog may not seem like anything to worry about, but the added weight can exacerbate arthritis, cause joint and bone issues, and it can greatly increase the possibility that your pet will develop diabetes or cardiac/respiratory disease. Thier immune systems can be diminished, making their ability to fight off other illnesses and disease.  It’s best to learn how to prevent pet obesity before weight related complications arise, because even if your pet loses weight, the damage may be irreversible. Read More »

Investing in Pet Insurance

 CockatielRecently, my 14 year old female cockatiel, Charlie was pacing at the bottom of her cage (her usual method of begging to be let out) when she got her leg caught in the grating of the cage. Panicked, I raced forward to help her, but unfortunately my bird’s panic took over and she injured her leg trying to free herself. I knew immediately she had broken it because she could not use it at all and there was blood on her perch, indicating that the bone had gone through the skin. I rushed her to the emergency vet and 4 hours and $360 later, she was ready to go home, dressed in a splint and bird sized e-collar. She’s recovering well, which is great news, however the cost of this endeavor got me to thinking: would pet insurance be worth the investment? Read More »

Notes on Canine Learning

Recently I came across an interesting article about teaching dogs sign language. I was intrigued by the concept, and I decided to give it a shot with my own dogs. I purchased a book written by the creator of K9Sign.  I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, if I want to successfully teach my dogs to sign, but one of the first things that I’ve got to work on is my understanding of how dogs learn. Read More »

Bouncing Baby Bunnies – Wild Rabbits in the Spring

We all know that Spring is prime time for many wild animals to bring their babies into the world. We can see new fawns, bear cubs, hatchling birds, and many other new arrivals soon after they make their way into the world. Last year Frank Indiviglio wrote an article on “orphaned” babies in the Spring and what to do (or not do) about them, but one animal that may require a little more info is one of the most common babies found in backyards this time of year…baby rabbits, or “kits”.

People often mistake young rabbits as helpless and abandoned, ususally because their found alone and in the open. Several times each year we have patrons that present us with wild rabbits they come across while mowing the lawn, or that were discovered by the family dog or cat and rescued before becoming a mid-morning snack. While people have the best of intentions, removing the babies from the area where they are found often creates even more of a problem for the little guys. Read More »

Pet Wolves and Wolf Crosses – Social Dilemmas

WolfWolves inspire many emotions in people. Some see them as supernaturally evil forces or destructive predators, others see them as an ultimate symbol of freedom and nature. They are majestic, complex creatures with a long history and a permanent place folklore.

Thousands of years ago, man started to form relationships with these animals. Their ancestors gave rise to the many breeds of dogs we know and love today.  Today, some people choose to bring wolves into their homes and into close contact with human society, crossing them with domestic dogs to create hybrids or even keeping purebred wolves as pets. Though the thought may be appealing to some, bringing an animal with wild bloodlines home to the family may not be the best idea. Read More »

The Joys of Dog Toys – A Buyer’s Handbook

Stuffed KongToys.  Does anything else fill a dog’s eyes with such excitement? The anticipation, the hours of playing, tugging, fetching, and squeaking than ensue is an essential part of a dog’s livelihood. Without toys, there’d be many more shredded pillows, gnawed-on furniture, and generally stressed out dogs. Toys may seem like a luxury item, but dogs need toys to help relieve stress, boredom, and encourage instinctual behavior.  However, buyer beware: not all toys are created equal.

Plush dog toyChoosing toys for your dog can be a fun, rewarding experience for many owners. There are a few things that every pet owner should keep in mind when in the midst of the toy aisle surrounded by furry plush, squeaks and grunts, bright colors and fun. Read More »

Pet Birthday Parties – Celebrating Your Best Friend’s Special Day

Bear's BirthdayCelebrating pet birthdays have been becoming increasingly more popular over the last few years. They can range from private family celebrations to full out doggie pool parties.  Gatsby’s 2nd Birthday is just a few days away. His first year was a rough one and that’s when my husband and I decided to start celebrating our furkid’s birthdays.

Since last May, we’ve had 3 birthday parties for the dogs. We haven’t done anything too over the top, just a trip to the dog park, a dog-friendly birthday cake (with candles and singing, of course), and a present or two to share.

I’d like to share a recipe for the cake I am making for Gatsby this year:

PB & Honey Pup-Cakes

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

Directions:

Mix together flour and baking soda. Add remaining & mix well. Pour the batter into a greased muffin tin.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool and decorate with melted carob, shredded carrots & banana slices.

Maybe our little girl, Sara, will have a puppy pool party later this summer, it sounds like a blast! How will you be celebrating your pet’s birthday this year? Feel free to sound off in the comments section!

Pet First Aid – Handling Common Emergencies

In my last blog, I gave you a list of items you should have in your pet’s first aid kit. This time I would like to go over how to handle some of the more common health emergencies associated with dogs and cats. As always, please call a veterinarian for serious or life threatening situations. When in doubt, they are your best bet for providing proper care to a sick or injured pet. Always remember that animals in pain may bite out of fear, so approach injured and sick pets with caution and NEVER touch wild or unfamiliar animals without assistance from qualified wildlife handlers. Read More »

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